Monday, July 30, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

Because of last week's syndicated cartoon, I was obliged to draw about something other than Trumpelstiltskin this week. Welcome to the sports page.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Ach! Was Für ein Schöner Krieg

Sturmback Saturday returns yet again to the final summer of World War I. Looking back on history from today's point of view, reinforced by the sort of gung-ho American and allied cartoons which have tended to show up in these posts, it's easy to think that allied victory was in sight in the summer of 1918.

German editorial cartoonists, however, were presenting a completely different picture to their readers.

"Der Trum auf der Flucht" by Richter in Ulk, Berlin, July 12, 1918
Two things I need to state right off the bat: first, some of these cartoons include racist content. It's not at all uncommon in cartoons anywhere in the last century (e.g., Dr. Seuss's wartime cartoons about the Japanese), and I have avoided using several cartoons that might otherwise have illustrated a point I was making. But they are integral to how people saw foreigners of any sort in those days, and I've let a few slip through today.

Second, my conversational German is limited to "gesundheit," "nach zweimal, bitte," and "langsam mit empfindung," so there are some puns and idioms here that I needed help to figure out. So, with that out of the way: the first cartoon above turns on a play on the words "Eiffel" and "zweifelhaft" (meaning "doubtful").
"Die Kunst im Keller" by M. Richter in Ulk, Berlin, July 26, 1918
In July, the German army was still lobbing shells toward Paris from their huge "Paris-Geschütz" in the hills some 75 miles to the northeast, the longest-range weapon to date. German cartoonists fancied every Parisian having to scuttle from cellar to cellar all day, every day. Yet while the missiles certainly did cause considerable damage, the destructive power of the shells was limited by the relatively small amount of explosive material that could be packed into the thick, heavy shells; and by the fact that they couldn't be targeted to specific locations. 

Come August, the German army would be in retreat, hauling their Paris-Geschütz with them and destroying it and the plans of its construction.

"In der New-Yorker City" by Erich Schilling in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 4, 1918
German shells couldn't reach New York, and U.S. law enforcement was effectively cracking down on German-American saboteurs. Accordingly, the two-pronged propaganda line from German media against America was that American troops were suffering heavy casualties, and that they weren't a significant addition to the war anyway.

"Französische Abwehr-Reklame" by T.M. Leonhardt in Ulk, Berlin, July 5, 1918
The signs posted between the trenches in Leonhardt's cartoon promise that 500,000 Americans are on their way to the front, that Sioux Indians are coming, and more. I am told that Gustav's trenchmate is speaking with a Berlin accent, and that "Die mir!" translates to "They! Me!" in the sense of a dismissive "So they think they can impress me?!" A reputation Berliners have for being rather snooty is also at play here.
"Tin Soldiers" by Johannes Bahr in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, July 14, 1918
Johannes Bahr depicts Italian King Victor Emmanuel III (always shown as a tiny man in German cartoons), British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau rejoicing at the impending arrival of the Americans, only to be disappointed by Woodrow Wilson's "tin soldiers."

An explanatory note atop Bahr's cartoon alleges that "American troops are called tin soldiers by their allies." From the fact that the cartoon title is in English, I would assume the epithet to have origins somewhere in the British Empire, but I haven't found any confirmation to support the claim. The common nicknames for American soldiers were Yanks, Sammies, and doughboys. It is nevertheless true that the first American soldiers and airmen to arrive in Europe lacked adequate training and supplies, insofar as the U.S. did not have a standing army at the time.
"Die 'Enten'ritter" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, July 7, 1918
Arthur Johnson's cartoon above plays with the German word "enten" (ducks) as a pun on "Entente" by depicting Woodrow Wilson as a ludicrous Lohengrin — the legendary hero who arrives on a boat pulled by swans to protect a fair young duchess whom he forbids to ask him his name. (Marianne, of course, is the traditional personification of France.)
"Zur 'Einschränkung des Fremdenverkerhs'" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, July 14, 1918
Perhaps seeking to drive a wedge between the French and their allies, Johnson depicts the Americans and British as the guests who have overstayed their welcome, rather than the Germans whom the "tourists" were seeking to drive out of Marianne's parloir. Native Americans had been commonly used in European cartoons since colonial days to represent the U.S. (especially to imply it were a nation of savages). Taking this cartoon along with T.M. Leonhardt's above, I have to marvel that our Navajo "code talkers" ploy still baffled German intelligence a quarter century later.

As for any new restrictions on tourism which Johnson appears to be referencing, I suppose that must have been a German thing. Paris wouldn't seem to be an attractive tourist destination with German shells falling haphazardly from the sky. German cities were not being shelled, but were suffering food, fuel, and material shortages thanks to the Entente blockade

The Sammies were not the only troops whose participation in the war was belittled by German cartoonists.
"Wieter Können Wir Nicht, Kinder..." by Gustav Brandt in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, August 4, 1918
The note of explanation with this Gustav Brandt cartoon of hapless Canadian, Australian and South African unicorn riders says, "According to Swiss reports, British dominions no longer have confidence in a final victory." Certainly there was opposition, most notably in Quebec, to Canada's involvement in hostilities, and among Afrikaners to South Africa's. The cost of the war in Australian lives surely dampened the Diggers' initial gung-ho enthusiasm, too.

But the failure of the Central Powers' Spring Offensive to end the war sapped German popular support as well. And as Kladderadatsch's August 4 edition hit the streets, Entente forces were poised to counter with their 100 Days Offensive. All of the above allied countries and territories were deeply committed, and the offensive ultimately turned the tide of the war in favor of the Entente.
"Auch Haiti!" by Johannes Bahr in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, July 28, 1918
Still, if German media were dismissive of U.S., Canadian, Australian and South African participation in the war, they found Haiti's July 12 declaration of war utterly laughable. Occupied by the U.S. since 1915, Haiti had protested German U-boat activity in the Atlantic and Caribbean, particularly after the 1917 sinking of a French steamer with Haitian passengers and crew.

One of the panels in Bahr's cartoon comes close to being subversive, however, in that he notes how inflation was a serious problem in Germany, exacerbated by even the most insignificant bit of bad news.

Many thanks to my guter Freund Winfried Schmidtpott for help unpacking such words as "Miessmacherstammtisch," which is the table at a neighborhood bar around which a bunch of populist, Gloomy Gus regulars traditionally gather to discuss weighty issues of politics and society.

But you already knew that.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Q Toon: Drawing the Line

Trigger warning: there's some mature subject matter in today's post.

After Donald Joffrey Trump's disgraceful press conference alongside his Russian handler a couple weeks ago, there was a flurry of editorial cartoons, Twitter memes, late-night comedian gags, and picket signs depicting or at least implying homosexual relations between the two. Kissing. Spooning in bed. Trump, er, servicing Putin one way or the other.

Complaints quickly followed that the metaphor is homophobic.
These signs and these “jokes” don’t hurt Trump and Putin. They do hurt people, especially young people, who are actually gay or queer. Because you cannot deride homosexuality without deriding gay people, even if the jokes are meant to be at the expense of someone’s ego. They still reinforce the idea that there is something funny about same-sex attraction.
Despite my reflex tendency to err on the side of free speech, I have to agree.

I had initially disagreed with the charge of homophobia against somebody's tweet to the effect of "The same people who impeached Bill Clinton for a blow job in private are defending Trump for giving a blow job in public." The same sexual relation (sorry, Bill, it is) whether straight or gay, right? But after some consideration, I had to ask whether a cartoonist, comedian, memer, or picketer who bought into Trump's criticism at the G-7 summit of Germany's oil pipeline out of Russia could then make the same sort of fellatio remark about Angela Merkel and Putin. Would that be sexist?

Yes, it definitely would. 

On the other hand, the cliché that shows up in cartoons a lot, "Politics makes strange bedfellows," did not originally imply copulative behavior. (If you doubt that, try calling your romantic partner a "bedfellow" to his/her face sometime.) Once upon a time, there might be any number of reasons why two people might be obliged to spend the night in the same bed; it did require mutual trust, and it did keep both people warm. Sometimes, a bed is just for sleep.

For example, I was not implying an orgy in this 1986 cartoon.

As a faithful follower of this blog, you are aware that I have already drawn my cartoon on the topic of the Putin-Trump meeting in Helsinki, and there was no homophobic, bdsmphobic, or furryphobic subtext implied in it.

That particular idea came to me without the sort of anguished brainstorming depicted in today's cartoon. Also, my drawing board has never been that uncluttered since the day I took it out of the box. (But as anyone who knows me can tell you, talking to myself is an indispensable part of my creative process. And just about every other cogitative process.)

I guess I've obliged myself to "draw about something else" next week, which will please at least one of my Facebook friends. If only Mr. Trump could refrain from outrageous behavior that long.

P.S.: In a similar vein, Jerusalem Report has severed its ties with Avi Katz, an Israeli cartoonist who drew a cartoon depicting Likud politicians as pigs with a quotation from Orwell's Animal Farm. The cartoon, posted on Facebook, was in response to the religious nation-state law passed this month. Report publishers decided that the swine imagery was anti-Semitic.

Monday, July 23, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

Who is this handsome devil and what is he doing at my drawing board?


Saturday, July 21, 2018

From Baltics to Balkans

In honor of Donald Joffrey Trump's gobsmackable performance in Helsinki this week, I kick off Suomiback Saturday with an update on Finnish history one century ago this summer.
"Anticipation and Realization" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, ca. July, 1918
Prior to Russia's February Revolution, Finland had been an autonomous Grand Duchy under the Romanov emperors, but technically not part of Russia. The overthrow of Nicholas II put Finland's status relative to St. Petersburg in dispute. The Finnish parliament voted to make itself the nation's chief governing body, and after the October Revolution, declared independence on December 6, 1917.
"Orders from the Boss" by Gibbs in Baltimore Sun, ca. July, 1918
Conflict between the government's majority conservatives (Whites) and minority social democrats (Reds) flared into civil war. With military support from Germany, the Whites prevailed, booted the Reds from parliament, and in October of 1918 elected Kaiser Wilhelm's brother-in-law Prince Frederick Charles of Hesse as king. But by then, World War I was finally drawing to a close, and Frederick never actually assumed the Finnish throne.
"The Master's Voice in Finland" by David Wilson in The Passing Show, London, ca. June, 1918
Also officially breaking away from Russia were the Baltic states, occupied by Germany since 1915. Under the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Russia renounced its claims on the Baltic nations and agreed that they would be in Germany's sphere of influence. Latvia and Estonia declared themselves The United Baltic Duchy under a German duke; and in July of 1918, the State Council of Lithuania elected another German duke, Duke Wilhelm of Urach, as their King Mindaugas II. 
"Little Lithuania Will Now Be Led to Slaughter" by Blackman in Birmingham (Alabama) Age-Herald, ca. June, 1918
Germany, however, preferred other candidates with closer ties to the Kaiser. German occupiers censored the Lithuanian press from publishing anything about the new king, and actually shut down the Council's official newspaper for refusing to print an article denouncing King Mindaugas.
"The Liberator" by Eddie Eksergian in St. Louis Globe-Democrat, ca. June, 1918.
Despite taking a crash course in Lithuanian language and history, Duke Wilhelm ended up never setting foot in Lithuania, either.
"Family Troubles" by C.A. Bronstrup in San Francisco Chronicle, ca. June, 1918
Meanwhile, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which had begun World War I in the first place, was beginning to unravel. With its military suffering reverses on the Italian front, the empire was confronted by declarations of independence by its southern Slav and Czech subjects, compounded by labor and pacifist strikes at home.
"Czech the Giant Killer" by W.A. Rogers in New York Herald, ca. July, 1918
Before the Russian revolutions, Czech and Slovak deserters from the Austrian army had fled to Russia rather than fight against their slavic kin. Their numbers boosted by Czech prisoners of war captured by the Russians, the Kerensky government gave them permission to fight against Austria. The Bolsheviks initially promised them passage through Siberia to Vladivostok and thence to France — only to insist that they surrender their weapons, since facilitating the Czechs' fight against the Central Powers would be a clear violation of Brest-Litovsk.
"Das Banner der Tschecho-slowakischen Legion" by M. Richter in Ulk, Berlin, July 19, 1918
But a Cossack government in Siberia headed by M. Horvath was friendly to the Czech-Slovaks. Joining together to fight the Bolsheviks, they secured much of the Trans-Siberian Railway by mid-July, and declared the city of Vladivostok to be an Allied protectorate. They conquered Yekaterinburg as well, but too late to save deposed Tsar Nicholas II and his household.
"The Salvation Army" by John F. Knott in Dallas News, ca. July, 1918
The above cartoonist, John F. Knott, was born in Plzeň, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic), emigrating to Iowa with his widowed mother in 1883 when he was 5 years old. His sympathy for his fellow Czechs is therefore quite understandable, and probably shared by many Bohemian-Americans.
"When Thieves Fall Out" by A.G. Racey in Montreal Star, July, 1918
And we conclude our tour in the Balkans. Greek forces with the support of France captured Skra from the Bulgarian army in May of 1918, prompting the resignation of Bulgaria's prime minister. A new government began secret negotiations for a separate peace,. Great Britain rejected any continued control by Bulgaria over Macedonia, promising the territory to Greece and Serbia. Turkey had fought for possession of the same territory in the Balkan Wars of the early half of the decade, but no longer had any serious prospect of extending its European territory past Eastern Thrace.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Q Toon: If Chuck Could Chuck Brett

Meanwhile, back on the home front:

As you may recall, last week I didn't draw a cartoon about Trump's appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court because I had to send it off to my syndicate editors before the announcement was made.

So it kind of bugs me that I could easily have drawn this cartoon a week ago, but for the fact that the dialogue in panel two is a direct quotation of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). I could easily have predicted that he would say something very much like it, and sent my editors five versions of this cartoon with only the name in that panel changed.

(That would have actually meant sending them fifteen versions of the cartoon, because I always send a grayscale version and a CMYK version for print and an RGB version for the web. But that's technical stuff and beside the point.)

Democrats have a minority in the Senate and no tie-breaker in the Vice President's chair. Furthermore, they have Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Joe Manchin, and Doug Jones who are perfectly comfortable crossing party lines to vote with Republicans. "I am not a member of any organized political party," as Will Rogers famously said; "I am a Democrat."

Some pundits have floated the idea that Democrats might be able to peel Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins away from the Republican monolith on the basis of Kavanaugh's hostility to Roe v. Wade, or Sen. Rand Paul on the basis of the nominee's deference to an imperial presidency. To which I say, "Dream on." The occasional Republican may express reservations about Trumpism from time to time, but none ever do so with their votes. Just their retirements.

But soldier on, Senator Schumer. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Toon: Leader of the Free World

Speaking alongside his handler in Helsinki on Monday, Donald Joffrey Trump lied that there was no collusion between Russian operatives and his 2016 presidential campaign, and that, accepting Vladimir Putin's denials, "I don't see any reason why Russia would interfere in the 2016 election."

Tuesday, after bipartisan condemnation of his "disgraceful performance" — even on Fox News! — Trump said that he meant to say he didn't see any reason why Russia wouldn't interfere in the 2016 election.

Flatly contradicting himself, he still managed to lie both times.

Ya gotta admit: that takes some real skill — the kind that only comes from constant, everyday practice, practice, practice.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Apology Tour

After a week of scolding our European allies and listing the E.U. first among our "greatest foes," Donald Joffrey Trump has a top secret meeting with his handler, and his tone changes completely.
Unedited photo of the Trump-Putin press conference live
"I think the U.S. has been foolish, I think we've all been foolish; we all should've had this dialogue long time ago," said Mr. Trump when asked if he holds Russia accountable for anything.

This Week's Sneak Peek

Don't look now but — I told you not to look!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Life During Wartime

After two Saturdays in a row rummaging through my own cartoons, it must be time to turn the clock back a full century and see what the Committee on Public Information's Office of Cartoons was suggesting to American editorial cartoonists in the summer of 1918. Let's see which issues that would survive World War I were showing up in these wartime cartoons.
"An Efficiency Expert at Work" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1918
McCutcheon's printing is tiny no matter how much you embiggen these cartoons, so here's a summary. Mr. Efficiency Expert recommends putting convicts to work making equipment for bridges, insane asylum patients to work in the ship camouflage department, and schools vacated during the summer to use teaching English "to every citizen who can't speak it." Lastly, for "the distillers and brewers likely to be closed next Jan.," he suggests putting them to work making liquid flame for the Kaiser.
"All Highest Has the Influenza" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, July 11, 1918

The Spanish flu pandemic of 1918 killed anywhere from 50- to 100-million people worldwide between January 1918 and December 1920. Kaiser Wilhelm was not one of them, but I wanted to include these cartoons just to be able to mention what remains one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern history.
"Germany Suffers from the Grip" by John Cassel in New York Evening World, July 11, 1918
We don't know for sure where the pandemic started; various theories have pointed to Austria, northern China, and Haskell County, Kansas — but probably not Spain. (In Spain, the disease was nicknamed "el soldado de Nápoles.")  What is certain is that the wartime confluence and dispersal of soldiers and sailors is responsible for spreading the contagion to every continent and some of the remotest locations on Earth.
"Not Fatal" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 12, 1918
In a typical epidemic, the sickest patients stay home and don't spread the disease much farther than their own family; but in this instance, soldiers with the worst cases of the flu would be sent from the front in crowded trains to equally crowded field hospitals, facilitating widespread dispersal of the most virulent strains.

Moving on to lighter subjects:
"Snapshots" by Maurice Ketten (né Prosper Fiorini), in New York Evening World, ca. July 15, 1918
The characters in Ketten's slice of life cartoon regularly confronted the shortages and cultural changes brought about by the war. In this July cartoon, he poked fun at the price of shoe leather, women taking over jobs traditionally performed by men, and the peculiar if short-lived attempt to popularize what were called "cloth-saving suits" for men. This last measure was necessitated by shortages of wool; Germany dealt with the problem with the invention of paper-based fabrics. After the war, American and Britain would (pardon the expression) follow suit.
"Fall Styles, 1918" by Harry J. Tuthill in St. Louis Star, ca. June, 1918
Sending so many young men (and not-so-young men; the draft now included men in their 40's) off to the trenches, ships and airfields abroad meant that women were needed to take their place in the labor market. Harry Tuthill didn't foresee Rosie the Riveter just yet, but turning urban housewives into household breadwinners completely undercut one of the last remaining arguments against extending women the vote.

"The False Patriot" by ? (Al Zere? Eugene "Zim" Zimmerman?), ca. July 8, 1918
I recently heard an interview with the author of a new book about Herbert Hoover; the author believes that Hoover got a raw deal from other historians because he is judged solely for his response to the Great Depression. Hoover isn't mentioned in these particular July cartoons, but his name was intimately associated with wartime rationing and belt tightening measures. In a way, this must have set him up for the popular resentment when that austerity returned under Hoover eleven years later in peace time.
"Fight Behind the Lines" by John Cassel in New York World, June 24, 1918
Meanwhile, back in 1918, the Office of Cartoons surely recommended combating any discontent such as illustrated in "The False Patriot" (if I find the name of that cartoonist, I'll correct it here) with cartoons illustrating the reported bread shortages among the Central Powers. The Entente press played up accounts of demonstrations protesting food shortages, especially in Austria.
"Felix Fake May Be an Edison Yet" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, June 12, 1918
Americans aren't much for hardship, but we'll put up with a lot as long as some enemy has it worse.
Front page notice in Duluth Evening Herald, July 13, 1918
But, oh, no! Not the free promotional copy of my newspaper!

Friday, July 13, 2018

About That Paint Job

Presenting the big, beautiful, brand new, unbelievably amazing Air Force One.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Q Toon: Pumphandle Hold

You may remember Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan as the guy schooled by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for accusing him of threatening to subpoena phone calls.

The Freedom Caucus Republican is also in the running to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker of the House, but is now dogged by accusations that while he was Assistant Coach of the wrestling team at The Ohio State University, he ignored and even laughed at multiple reports of the team doctor's sexually inappropriate examinations of team members.

That's in addition to a problem the department apparently had with staff and students who would ogle team members as they showered. The situation was serious enough to prompt the head of the athletic department to move the wrestlers' locker room to another building.

John Aravosis counts nine accusers who have come forward publicly so far, but with a possible 1,500 victims in The Ohio State wrestling and other team sports, OSU's liability could potentially dwarf the $500 million settlement reach in Michigan State's Larry Nassar case.

Jordan has denied any knowledge of the complaints, and called at least two of the men liars. He's even said that the scandal is the invention of Rod Rosenstein and the Deep State.
 “They know what they’re saying is not accurate,” he told [Fox News's Bret] Baier. “I know they know what they’re saying is not true. I know they know that. And they’re saying it anyway.”
... “What is driving these guys to say this now?” Baier asked. “The timing is suspect,” Jordan replied, citing his recent interrogation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s email server and possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Jordan added that the law firm in charge of OSU’s sexual abuse investigation, Perkins Coie, was “Hillary Clinton’s law firm,” the same firm that found “an ex-British spy to put together a dossier to go after President Trump.”
In April, The University began an investigation of the doctor, who committed suicide in 2005. Spokespersons for the University are not commenting on the accusations while the investigation is underway.

Some of Jordan's current colleagues are not so circumspect.
“This is the same Jim Jordan who as a Congressman has self-righteously demanded investigations of anything and everything under the sun,” [New York Democrat Sean] Maloney tweeted Saturday. “Well, times’s up, Jim. We need to hear these victims and investigate Jim Jordan now.”

Monday, July 9, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

I needed to send in the cartoon for later this week without knowing whom Trumplestiltskin would name to the Supreme Court in his big reveal extravaganza on the teevee tonight, so I'm turning instead to the sports section.

Or I could be pulling your leg.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

No Supreme Court For You!

For most of my life, the Supreme Court has been dominated by its right wing. In fact, that's true of most of the history of our country; the Warren Court of the 1950's and 60's was the exception to a general tendency of the Court since the founding of the Republic to favor the rich and powerful. The Constitution was written, after all, by the landed gentry, not the Daniel Shayses, John Frieses, and Crispus Attuckses.

I alluded in this week's cartoon to the lack of requirements laid out in the U.S. Constitution for Supreme Court Justices. We can be fairly sure that the Founding Fathers would have strongly disapproved of a foreign head of state sitting on the Court; but whereas the Constitution sets limits on who may or may not be a president, vice president, congressional representative or senator, the sole defining characteristic set for justices is that they "shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour."
"Nine Old Men," unsigned (William Gropper or Jacob Burck, perhaps?), in New Masses, New York, March 9, 1937
Even the size of the Supreme Court is unspecified. In the history of the United States, the sitting members of the Supreme Court as been as few as six; Franklin Roosevelt was rebuffed in his attempt to expand the Court in a scheme that would have allowed him to add as many as six new justices to the sitting nine. If and when the Republicans lose their grasp on the other two branches of government, I wouldn't be surprised if they were hastily to double the size of the Supreme Court while they could still fill the new seats.

Donald Joffrey Trump's executive order this week to ban affirmative action programs in college admissions recalls the Court's attempt to thread that needle in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke in 1978. In the interest of meeting a set quota for minority enrollment, UC had admitted some minority students whose test scores were lower than white male Alan Bakke's. In a complicated set of four rulings, the Court ruled that UC should admit Bakke, and that the quotas violated the 1964 Equal Rights Act, but that the Equal Protection Clause allows race to be taken into consideration in college admission policies. Sort of.

Ronald Reagan's advanced age was an issue in the 1980 presidential campaign, but five of the justices on the Court were older than he. This cartoon from my sketchbook shows Justices William Brennan, Thurgood Marshall and Harry Blackmun, counted as the Court's liberal wing. (Conservatives Lewis Powell and Chief Justice Warren Burger were also older than Reagan.) Reagan came into office in 1981 determined to stack the court with reliable right-wing jurists hostile to minority rights, reproductive rights, unions, environmental protection, and a whole host of liberal causes.

Nevertheless, his first appointment, of Sandra Day O'Connor to replace Justice Potter Stewart, was received favorably, except by some right-wingers who suspected that a woman would be soft on Roe v. Wade. But when Burger retired, Reagan named Justice William Rehnquist, the most hardline conservative on the Court, to replace him as Chief Justice, and conservative firebrand Antonin Scalia as the Court's newest Justice.
In addition to Reagan's successful nominees in the center of the above cartoon, I imagined them being joined by Reagan administration officials Donald Regan, William Clark, Robert Bork, and Ed Meese, plus Clint Eastwood and Nancy Reagan. Reagan would indeed name Bork to the next vacancy, but the Democrat-led Senate voted Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre henchman down, 42 to 58.

The legacy of the Bork nomination was the creation of a verb ("Borking" has proved so much catchier than "Fortasing" or "Garlanding"), and the end of Republican nominees to the Court willing to admit to their prejudices against Roe v. Wade. It also led to Mr. Kennedy's nomination to the Court, for which, at least, LGBTQ Americans can be thankful. On the other hand, President Obama would likely have been the one to nominate the successor to Justice Bork, who died in December 2012 at age 85.

The last of the Warren Court liberals, William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, retired during the George H.W. Bush administration, succeeded by David Souter and Clarence Thomas, respectively.

Liberals have had fewer opportunities to change the direction of the court. The most significant may have come with the retirement of Justice Byron White in 1993. Appointed by President Kennedy, he nevertheless tended to vote with conservatives: he and William Rehnquist were the only dissenters in Roe v. Wade, and he wrote the majority opinion in Bowers v. Hardwick giving the Court's blessing to laws criminalizing gay sex even between consenting adults in the privacy of one's home.
President Bill Clinton replaced White with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has since become the senior and possibly most vocal member of the Court's liberal wing.

More telling of the rightward drift of the Court, however, is the conventional wisdom that cast first Sandra Day O'Connor, then David Souter, then Anthony Kennedy in the role of casting "The Swing Vote." Never were they considered a "swing bloc" on the Court; only as one retired would the next sit in the supposed "swing" seat. (I suppose Kennedy's retirement makes Chief Justice John Roberts the Swing Vote now.)
Since America's bicentennial, Democrats have seated four justices on the Court; Republicans (assuming a swift confirmation of whomever Trump names next week) have seated nine.

That includes the most rigidly conservative examples of Clarence Thomas and the late Antonin Scalia, about whom I've devoted blog posts in the past. Today, I'm trying to widen the focus to the entire Court, but there are a few cartoons here I'm repeating from those earlier posts anyway.

I've always liked this cartoon, largely because I enjoy breaking the boundaries of a cartoon panel this way and I don't have an excuse to do it very often.
The friendship between the ideologically opposed justices Ginsburg and Scalia was legendary, but we're told that this sort of comity across ideological boundaries is a thing of the past.

American right-wingers have been salivating at the chance to overturn Roe v. Wade, and we'll soon see what else: Obergefell v. Hodges? Bob Jones University v. U.S.? Miranda v. Arizona? Loving v. Virginia? Shelley v. Kraemer? West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette? Smith v. Allwright? Near v. Minnesota? U.S. v. Darby Lumber?

Enjoy our return to the Gilded Age of robber barons, white patriarchy and sweatshops, folks.