Thursday, August 30, 2018

Q Toon: #Metousiosis

Transsubstantiation: according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the change of substance or essence by which the bread and wine offered in the sacrifice of the sacrament of the Eucharist during the Mass, become, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ. In Greek, metousiosis.
For centuries, theologians have debated Jesus Christ's sermon in John 6 and at the Last Supper that bread and wine somehow become his own body and blood. Is it another one of those metaphors you find all over the Bible, or are we supposed to take it literally? In Catholic dogma, the bread and wine are no longer bread or wine; Lutherans believe that the bread and wine are simultaneously bread and body, and wine and blood. Baptists believe that grape juice miraculously becomes what Jesus meant to say.

Some people believe we're supposed to take every word of the Bible literally.

The New Testament calls Christ the “bridegroom” and the church his “bride.” Catholic priests are supposed to consider themselves "married" to the church, forswearing all others. That's not in the Bible, really; it's one of those reforms brought in because priests were making the church a family business handed down from Father to son.

The Catholic Church solved that problem, but was left with a dogma that seems to have attracted more than a few men with unsavory ideas about how to consummate their marriage to the church.


Monday, August 27, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'll be playing catch-up on some of the news stories of the month. There are times when publishing once a week is frustrating.

Yes, the kid is doing it wrong.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Simplicissimus's All-American Edition

Last week, we looked at several American cartoons celebrating allied victories in the mid-summer of 1918. By way of equal time, Simpleback Saturday presents each and every one of the cartoons in the August 27, 1918 edition of Simplicissimus, the German satirical weekly out of Munich.
"Amerika" by Wilhelm Schultz in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
Every single cartoon but one* is critical of the United States. Wilhelm Schultz's cover cartoon, showing a buffalo driven by Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt to charge the personification of Peace, pairs the incumbent president with one of the U.S.A.'s leading advocates of war prior to April, 1917. It mattered little to the staff of Simplicissimus that Roosevelt's youngest son, Quentin, had recently been killed in action over over the Marne River on July 14, 1918.

"Im Senat zu Washington" by Karl Arnold in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
If you've been following this series for a while, you may remember that there certainly were U.S. Senators and Congressmen who advocated against their country entering World War I, even after the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915. Wilson himself ran for reelection under the slogan "He Kept Us Out of War."

But has always happened since the days of President Polk, whenever a President decides it's time to go to war, any argument to the contrary is branded unpatriotic or worse.
"Das Land der Freiheit" by Thomas Theodor Heine in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
Persecution of German-American citizens is a common theme in several of the August 27 cartoons. None of them, as far as I can tell, describe any actual incidents, any more than Sidney Joseph Greene's imagined tennis camp for saboteurs did. Interment camps in Fort Douglas, Utah and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia housed some 2,048 German emigrants swept up under provisions of the Alien Enemies Act Presidential Proclamations issued shortly after the U.S. entry into the war. Many would not be released until June of 1919; some not until May of 1920.

"Deutschenverfolgung" by Eduard Thöny in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
Even after some spectacular cases of espionage and sabotage by German agents in the U.S., only one German spy was ever sentenced to death in this country; and his sentence was commuted after the war. Nor is there any record of Germans being lynched in this country, although Eduard Thöny's cartoon demonstrates that our habit of race lynching was well-known beyond our borders.

"Der Sieg der Demokratie" by Karl Arnold in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
Which is not to say that it was all tee and krullers for German-Americans. And while I know of no examples of tarring and feathering, there was a sharp rise in police reports against anything perceived as suspicious activity of Deutschsprachige citizens. If Gretchen and Hilda were gossiping over the back fence, they had better be doing it loudly and in English.
"Kinderhilfsdienst im America" by Carl Olav Petersen in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
"Honest, Your Honor, it was to me as 'Freedom Cabbage' being sold!"
"Es Lebe die Freiheit!" by Erich Schiller in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
Two panels by Erich Schilling appear one atop the other as if they were meant to be two frames comprising one cartoon; but they each have their own title and there's no continuity between them, so I've put in my own little commentary between them just for the hell of it. In the top panel, what the U.S. called Liberty Loans he calls "Liberty Bonds." (Is "Freiheitsanleihe" an oxymoron in German as "Liberty Bond" is in English?) The U.S. government was about to authorize a fourth series of bonds of 1918, and a fifth bond would be necessary in April after the war was over.

Banks and other financial institutions took out Liberty Loans as an investment opportunity, but participation by private citizens was minimal. The first three bonds matured during the 1920s, but the government would default on the fourth bond in 1932.
"Schutz der Kleinen Völker" by Erich Schilling, still in Simplicissimus, still in Munich, still August 27, 1918
Schilling even casts some libel Thomas Edison's way, yet somehow without incorporating electricity into his imagined invention. I mean, seriously now, there's nothing to distinguish this Streckbank from its medieval forebears, and Mr. Edison was more imaginative than that.

He would have stolen the idea from Nikola Tesla instead.
"Wilsonismus" by Thomas Theodor Heine in Simplicissimus, Munich, August 27, 1918
Finally we reach the back page, where another cartoon by Thomas Theodor Heine seems to pair with a satirical story below it set in my home state:

The Adventure of Wisconsin
Several madmen made a tumultuous escape from an insane asylum in the state of Wisconsin. From the patriotic demeanor of their guards and caretakers, a number of the sick drew the curious conclusion that they were healthy, and demanded the immediate release to American freedom.
Only the time-tested absent-mindedness of Reverend Abraham O'Connor was to be thanked for avoiding severe outbursts. The venerable gentleman came to the escapees and exclaimed, "We strive for reason and morality! Be good idiots! Make your mistake good again! Buy Liberty Bonds!" — whereupon the rebels fled in terror into their cells and thanked God that they could stay in comfortable-idiotic bondage.
* The sole exception is this single-column cartoon by R. Grieß tucked in among the advertisements on page six:
In heavily accented German (Google Translate wanted to know if I meant to translate from Luxembourgish), one of these vagabonds tells the other that one dog year equals seven human years. The other replies, "That may well be, but in war, one human year equals seven dog years."

The accent probably sells the joke.

Thankfully, World War I fell short of lasting seven human years. Meanwhile, returning to the present: today's incoming college freshmen — and, of course, fresh military recruits — have lived their entire lives with the United States at war in Afghanistan.

Friday, August 24, 2018

He Also Sent Flowers to Funerals

A right-wing meme that showed up on my Facebook feed yesterday complained that the media were failing to report some $400,000 donation Donald Trump made to charity.

Well, bully for him.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Q Toon: Cis Transit Gloria

Christine Hallquist won the four-way Democratic primary for governor of Vermont last week, making her the first transgender gubernatorial nominee of a major party. Hallquist, the CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative, received 48% of the vote; her nearest rival received 22%. She will face incumbent Republican Phil Scott in November.

Discussing the race with a on Tucker Carlson's program on Fox News the next day, gay conservative journalist Chadwick Moore attributed Hallquist’s victory to “transgender privilege.”
[Another panelist on the program, Former Barack Obama campaign official Robin] Biro said that as a transgender woman, Hallquist has received a lot of criticism, to which Carlson responded with the claim that Hallquist is celebrated, which she is, among her supporters. Moore said that due to Hallquist's "transgender privilege," she can get away with more than a cisgender gubernatorial candidate can.
"While the entire country is fixated on the fact that she's transgender, nobody knows anything about her policies," Moore said. "You know that she's for Medicaid for all, she's a climate alarmist, she believes in $15 minimum wage, and that's kind of it."
If Carlson's panel had been comprised of journalists from, oh, I don't know, how about Vermont, perhaps there would have been someone on hand to discuss whether or not citizens of the Green Mountain State went into the voting booth knowing anything about the candidates' positions on issues. We had primary elections here in Wisconsin the same day, and while finding out all the candidates' positions on every issue took some internet sleuthing, there were plenty of ads on TV and Facebook, flyers in the mail, and blankety-blank pre-recorded phone calls to give us a fairly good idea about most of them. And I'm sure it's the same in Vermont.

But since Carlson's guests were all from New York or D.C., it has been left to the former mayor of Houston, Texas to counter Moore's "that's kind of it" assessment.
“Christine was the chief executive of a well-respected energy utility company for more than 12 years and traveled the entire state sharing with voters her progressive vision for Vermont,” said Annise Parker, former mayor of Houston and now President of the LGBTQ Victory Fund. “They claimed Vermont primary voters know nothing beyond her gender identity while in fact the opposite is true – voters chose Christine because of her experience and positions, not because of her gender identity, and it is an insult to Vermont voters to say otherwise.” ...
“For two cisgender white men on Fox News to bemoan ‘transgender privilege’ in a conversation about one of the few openly trans candidates in the entire nation requires extraordinary ignorance, at best,” said Parker. “Vicious attacks on the qualifications and appearance of a gubernatorial candidate solely because she is transgender is intolerable and must be addressed by Fox News leadership.”
Meanwhile, transgender twitterers have been wondering loudly where to go to apply for some of the sort of "transgender privilege"  Moore and Carlson were talking about.
is being told "pronouns are too hard" by the same people who think anyone who can't speak English should "get out".
  is speaking up in defense of your right to exist in public, the same as everyone else, only to be told that it's "your pet project" and you really shouldn't discriminate against those who don't want you in public places. 
is a Black trans woman celebrating if she makes it past age 35
  is when men look at you and you can't tell if they want to f💣 you, murder you , or both.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Environmental Stewardship: Seven Deadly Sins

I give the blog over today to my dad, John Berge, for the "Environmental Stewardship" column he writes for his church newsletter.

In one of those strange conversations on the golf course that I sometimes find myself, a Catholic friend and I were discussing how many of the seven deadly sins we have observed on various golf courses. While several were often observed, the main sin was against one of the ten commandments — taking the Lord’s name in vain.

But it made me think of how many of the seven deadly sins are encountered when we discuss environmental stewardship. I must admit that in my biased opinion, I see them mostly in the deniers and opponents of environmental regulations and policies.

To refresh the memories of my readers, the seven deadly, or cardinal, sins are generally listed as: Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride. The most obvious is probably Greed. The profit motive is very strong in this country and often turns into Greed. Any regulations to protect the air, water and land, or the habitat of an endangered or threatened species, that might increase the costs of some business or reduce their profit are automatically opposed. Surely, under our system of economics profits are necessary or products are not produced, but when the top few percent of people own more than all the rest combined, Greed is the motive and the driving force of this disparity.

Wherever there is successful Greed, there follows Envy. There are few things that destroy our environment more quickly than crimes based on Envy of the haves by the have-nots. And when weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of the envious have-nots, then Wrath is in the center of the horrible images on our TV screens. Crime and environmental stewardship may not often share the same paragraph, but what kind of environment is it for human beings who are afraid to go out the door without a gun, when arson leaves ashes of our homes and jobs, and when so called white-collar crimes take from the poor what little savings they may have?

Sloth probably follows next. Is it too much work to recycle aluminum cans and plastic bottles which litter our roadsides, parks and public areas? Driving everywhere instead of walking or biking is often the easy way out. Isn’t it Sloth that keeps us from contacting our public officials urging them to do the right thing for the environment and social justice? (I was tempted to write “our environment,” but as so many have said, natural resources, air, water and land, open natural areas and crowded cities are not ours. We have just borrowed them from our children and future generations.)

Pride sits on the shoulders or consciences of both sides of the divide concerning the environment. Both are sure they are right and the other side just doesn’t understand. Global warming or climate change is an excellent example of this prideful disagreement. Is it a hoax, or are the data sufficient for any discussion? Is a coal miner’s job more or less important than a child’s asthma? Are oil company profits more or less important than an elderly couple dying of heat exhaustion?

One must always be careful not to mix up weather and climate, but this summer’s weather here in Southeast Wisconsin and around the world might finally convince some deniers. Is it the Environmental Protection Agency or the Environmental Polluters Agency? Does our Pride say it is all the fault of the government or are we ready to accept our own responsibilities?

As a scientist and a churchman, my friends know where I stand. And I am not alone.

Monday, August 20, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

After last week's crowd scene, I'm happy to report a much more sparsely populated cartoon in store later this week.

Also the return of Dad's Environmental Stewardship column, returning from a one-month hiatus.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Remember the Marne!

Sopwithback Saturday returns yet again to the summer of a century ago, as World War I raises the curtain on Act III.

On balance, events in the first half of 1918 seemed to trend in favor of Kaiser Wilhelm's goals of a German-dominated Mitteleuropa. Russia and Romania had surrendered to Berlin's peace terms; fledgling Baltic nations were installing German princelings as their heads of state; and Germany's gargantuan  Pariser-Geschutz was lobbing shells into Paris with impunity.
"The 'Friedensturm'" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, ca. July or August, 1918
But in July and August, the Entente Powers beat back Germany's assault along the Marne River, General Ludendorff's "Friedensturm," which would prove to be Germany's final offensive of the war. Combined with Italy's repelling Austrian forces back across the Piave, the Central Powers found themselves on the defensive after five years of virtual stalemate on their western and southern fronts.
"Who's Looney Now?" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, ca. July/August, 1918
The allies' victories were thanks to a cooperative effort under Allied Commander Ferdinand Foch, a French general, but that didn't stop American cartoonists from giving the Yanks the lion's share of the credit. To be sure, some British, French and Italian cartoonists cheered on the contribution of American doughboys as well, and there are also American cartoons praising General Foch.
I can't tell who was responsible for the above cartoon attributed to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. W.K. Patrick was an editorial cartoonist for the paper during the summer of 1918, but the crosshatching pen-and-ink style of the work of his that I've seen does not match that of this charcoal artist.
"One Day's Bag" by Kenneth R. Chamberlain in Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, ca. July/August, 1918
Allied media were reporting victories in the air and at sea as well as on the ground. Victories in the air were largely the products of the English and French air forces. Their bombing raids into Germany targeted munitions factories, aerodromes, and transportation lines. At sea, the failure of the German u-boats to sink the ships carrying soldiers from America would prove a significant factor in Germany's ultimate defeat.
"But He Got Away" by Garrett Price in Great Lakes Bulletin, ca. August, 1918
My round-up of German cartoons a few weeks ago included some dismissive depictions of Native American soldiers, so it's only fair to counter them with some acknowledgement of Native Americans' contribution to the war from the American press.
"Civilizing the Savage" by Burt Thomas in Detroit News, ca. August, 1918
Native Americans fought in Canadian and American regiments with distinction and bravery, despite being denied citizenship, voting, and property rights at home. Choctaw fighters in World War I were the first "code talkers" to foil German eavesdropping by radioing in their native tongue. And unlike the segregated regiments of Black soldiers from the U.S., Native Americans fought alongside their European-American fellow doughboys. Like Black soldiers, however, they came home after the war to a thankless, even hostile, nation.
"Keep Your Eye on the Melting-Pot Warrior" by Harry J. Westerman in Ohio State Journal, ca. August, 1918
Harry Westerman's melting pot cartoon portrays an ideal of non-hyphenated Americanism enjoying increasing popularity during the war — here in a more charitable fashion than, say Sydney Joseph Greene's work. Hearing a variety of languages other than English spoken in the streets, in shops, and most certainly in churches had been the norm up to this point; but the suspicion that anyone speaking German must perforce be plotting against the Republic lingered after the war, extending to Italians, Danes, Poles, etc. etc.

The pro-war patriotic songs being churned out by Tin Pan Alley included several tunes about how all our soldiers were indistinguishable from one another once they were given their uniforms and buzzcuts. But as for Cpl. Cohen and Pfc. Sing Hop, the brotherhood they experienced on the battlefield with their fellow recruits was probably buried in those foreign fields with the rest of the fallen.
"As the Tide of Battle Turns..." by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, July 25, 1918
Meanwhile, the Kaiser's government was finding new urgency in peace talks. All the European forces were weary of war; but the influx of fresh American soldiers, untried as many of them were, was not going to be balanced by any hundreds of thousands of new soldiers on the Central Powers' side.

"More German Strategy" by Paul Plaschke in Louisville Times,  ca. August, 1918
Thank goodness Paul Plaschke thought to label "Fritz" in this cartoon. I would have been terribly confused otherwise.
"When He Goes Home" by William Hanny in St. Joseph News-Press, ca. August, 1918
William Hanny's cartoon is typical of a slew of editorial cartoons imagining Kaiser Wilhelm dissembling about the war to a German hausfrau. As far as American media were concerned, any continued popular support for the war in Germany could only be the product of state-sponsored misinformation.
"Sh-h-h! Dond't Wake the Baby" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 4, 1918
Tune in again next week for some of that state-sponsored misinformation.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Q Toon: One Man In His Time

We now return you to our regular programming.

We don't have Showtime at our house, so I haven't seen Mr. Cohen's latest TV show; I've only read reports of how the shapeshifting chameleon has been able to con several right-wing and alt-right-wing politicians into saying and performing things that will be the wet dreams of the opposition research for their opponents in the next election.

Mr. Cohen's characters are way over the top, but are camouflaged among a cast of real-life characters who are way over the top themselves. From our Corrupt President to his venal minions, and the hordes of adoring, frenzied fans willing to accept any crackpot conspiracy theory as long as there isn't a whiff of truth in it, it's easy to see how Cohen's outrageous characters blend in virtually undetectably.

But as long as we're going to hell in a handbasket of deplorables, we might as well enjoy the ride.

You'll never guess whom Waldo is disguised as.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

United Front Toon

The regularly scheduled cartoon will not be presented today in order to bring you this special #freepress United Front cartoon today.

New Rule #2: No recording devices will be allowed anywhere in the building.

New Rule #3: Hey, you out there on the White House lawn: we're sending the guy on the riding mower to circle around you even if it's snowing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Who's Got Soul?

I was reading Time magazine's 1968 cover story featuring Aretha Franklin yesterday in case I decide to draw a tribute cartoon about her. I have the suspicion that half my profession are going to draw the same cartoon, so I was looking to see if I could find inspiration from something else.

There were several notable things about the article, starting with the persistent, consistent use of the word "Negro" (except for a few quotations in which Black people use the word "Black") — there's even one "negritude."

There's also the capitalization of certain professions including "Gospel Singer Sam Cooke," "Savvy Producer Jerry Wexler," "Black Novelist James Baldwin," (okay, there's one exception to the Negro Rule), and "Bluesman and former Preacher Big Bill Broonzy."

I got a kick out of this footnote, beseeching the Time readers' forbearance for the printing of some bawdy language:
In the present day, when media of all kinds have had to print precisely how Donald Trump likes to grab women and how Harvey Weinstein likes to fertilize potted plants, having to beg forgiveness for the phrase "whip it to me" is quite quaint.

The other item that struck me is the magazine's attempt to list for their predominantly white readership Who Got Soul And Who Doesn't. (Exempli gratia: YES, People who use "got" as a present tense, third person singular verb. NO, People who use "doesn't." Also, people who spell out common Latin abbreviations.)

The body of the article suggests that the following list may have been previously printed in Esquire, although the Letter From the Publisher credits it to "Cover Writer Chris Porterfield, Senior Editor Jesse Birnbaum, Reporter Virginia Page and Researchers Molly Bowditch and Rosemarie Tauris Zadikov."

I've broken this sidebar article into three segments in order for it to be reasonably legible on line.

Somebody had better alert Lin-Manuel Miranda.

You may already have noticed that the list is overwhelmingly white. I suppose the writers decided that in comparison to even the least soulful Negro, even Søren Kierkegaard would be in the NO column. A quarter century later, they might have suggested YES, Thurgood Marshall. NO, Clarence Thomas.

Mary Worth got soul!? Whoomp, there it is.

Monday, August 13, 2018

This Weeq's Sneaq Peeq

I'm told we shouldn't poke the wild animals, but I'm afraid I have to go there this week.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Updates on the Eights

August has a reputation for being a month of summer doldrums in which little happens by way of news, but I find plenty to disprove that reputation when leafing through my cartoons drawn in August years ending in 8. That is partly because of national political conventions in election years, but not entirely.
August, 1978 saw the election of Cardinal Albino Luciani as Pope John Paul I, who broke with tradition both by selecting a double name and by having the Roman numeral I after it (unlike, for example, Pope Francis). Allied with neither the conservative or liberal activist cardinals of the time, Luciani had not been among the popularly rumored successors to Pope Paul VI.

Black smoke rose from the Sistine Chimney as the first three inconclusive ballots were burned. White smoke should have signaled the election of a new pope, but witnesses described the smoke from the fourth and conclusive ballot as gray.

John Paul I's papacy would last only 33 days (which still doesn't rank as the shortest papacy on record; ten popes reigned more briefly than he). He apparently had a heart attack while reading in bed, leaving little legacy besides the double name taken up by his successor, and rumors — fictionalized in Godfather III — that he was murdered.

Skipping ahead ten years, August, 1988 was an election year in the U.S. Wisconsin's statewide partisan primary was held in September back then (reminder: now it's this Tuesday!). There were races to succeed retiring Senator Bill Proxmire in both parties. Two of the candidates were Democratic former Governor Tony Earl and Republican Steve King, best known for having held and drugged Martha Mitchell, wife of Nixon's Attorney General, in her hotel room to keep her from talking to the press.
My cartoon for The Journal Times took note of the senatorial candidates' names as well as a nickname for Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. "Duke" didn't really suit the man well, and it didn't stick. As for King and Earl, both lost their parties' nominations to State Senator Susan Engeleiter and the ultimate winner, Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl.

Earl currently serves on the governing board of the governmental watchdog group Common Cause Wisconsin. King has been Trump's ambassador to the Czech Republic since 2017.

The National Republican Party held its presidential nominating convention in August. Vice President George H.W. Bush had the nomination all locked up, so the only suspense was over whom he would name as his running mate. His choice of Senator J. Danforth Quayle (R-IN) surprised everyone, including your humble cartoonist, who had not included Dan in the above cartoon.

Skipping ahead another ten years to August, 1998, I was freelancing separate cartoons for University of Wisconsin campus newspapers (yes, even in August), the Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, and LGBTQ biweekly In Step News.

Rep. Joel Hefley (R-CO) had sponsored an amendment to a vital appropriations bill; the amendment would have gutted President Clinton's Executive Order 13087, which added sexual orientation to the federal government's nondiscrimination policies. Lobbying the Republican-controlled House and Senate to defeat the amendment was a chief goal of the Human Rights Campaign that year. Surprisingly, the House voted 252-176 to defeat the Hefley Amendment.

Of course, the George W. Bush and Donald Joffrey Trump administrations revoked Executive Order 13087 and its Obama administration equivalent, E.O. 13672.
I had to get one Business Journal cartoon in here. I think you ought to be able to figure out the point of the editorial it accompanied.

But the Big Story out of August, 1998 was not about appropriations bills or rural property taxes.
President Clinton's vehement denials of sexual encounters with White House intern Monica Lewinsky were given the lie when Lewinsky turned over a blue dress stained with presidential semen (which her pal at the Pentagon, Linda Tripp, had encouraged her to save as evidence).

These days, there's an entire cable news network devoted to defending the current president, no matter how overwhelming the evidence against him, and crowds of ardent supporters who will hoot and holler their fervent belief in his obvious lies. But in August, 1998, it seemed that the only person in the whole country willing to stick his neck out in support of William Jefferson Clinton was Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA). He may still have the original of this cartoon.

I'll leave you in suspense over how the Lewinsky story turned out, and instead jump ahead another ten years to August, 2008. The Olympics were coming for the first time to Communist China, where the authoritarian government took strict measures to clean up Beijing in time for the games.
If only they could have worked as hard to clean up the smog!

Even while authorities were shuttering the dance floor of Destination, Beijing's one and only gay dance bar (claiming the bar was too small to be a club), official state media were highlighting Destination as proof of the country's friendliness to its LGBTQ citizens. From the Xinua news article “Beijing’s Gay Scene Comes Out of the Closet”:
At weekends, the floor is always crowded with young men dancing close to each other to hit songs from Rihanna, Justin Timberlake or Kanye West. The strobe lights flash over their ecstatic faces and sweating bodies. Some stand in the corner drinking, flirting or just watching. … Today, China's young gay men enjoy a freer environment. With the thriving online gay communities, such as,, gays can easily find each other and arrange activities through on-line forums or chat rooms.
2008 was also another presidential election year, of course.

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain (the party convention wouldn't be held until September) launched a peculiar attack on Barack Obama on the grounds that it was somehow a bad thing that the Democratic nominee wanted drivers to keep their tires properly inflated.
The party's convention mantra of "Drill, Baby, Drill" would prove catchier than "Drive, Flabby, Drive." But George W. Bush's Great Recession would hit in September, totally changing the national conversation.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Q Toon: No One Expects the Sessions Task Force

All ye faithful, genuflect!
Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions announced the establishment of a federal Religious Liberty Task Force with a mission to protect the rights of homophobic bakers, of Walmart greeters who firmly stand against wishing people happy holidays, and of pharmacists demanding to override the health care decisions of their female and transgender customers.

In his announcement statement Sessions stressed that the need for action was imperative:
 "A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom. There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated," Sessions said. "This election, and much that has flowed from it, gives us a rare opportunity to arrest these trends. Such a reversal will not just be done with electoral victories, but by intellectual victories."
Because the next time Donald Trump falls 2,864,974 ballots short in the popular vote, some Democrat might actually get elected president.

In the meantime, Mr. Sessions has at least provided gainful government employment for graduates of Jerry Falwell's Leviticus University. Just as long as they leave in the trash bin outside all that pesky biblical stuff about welcoming the sojourner and Lord, When Did We See You.

Monday, August 6, 2018

This Week's Sneak Peek

My brother gave me a t-shirt with a picture of that Trump Baby balloon on the front for my birthday this year.

My husband refuses to be seen in public with me wearing it.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

August 1993

Enough of the century-old cartoons for a moment. I realize that it's important to throw in posts every so often that are relevant to the Millennials. Therefore, for someone having a 25th birthday in August, here's what your uncle was drawing the month you were born.
Kenosha, Wisconsin joined the roster of mass shootings on August 10, 1993. As the Kenosha News reported:
On a sunny afternoon, Aug. 10, 1993, Dion Terres walked into the McDonald's restaurant at 75th Street and Pershing Blvd. and fired three random shots from a .44 Magnum revolver, killing two customers and wounding a third. Then Terres took his own life.
Bruce Bojesen, a 50-year-old Silver Lake carpenter who had come to Kenosha to buy a dog collar, died on the spot. Sandra Kenaga, 42, owner of a hair styling business near the restaurant, was shot as she dined with co-workers. She died in the hospital the next morning.
Eighteen-year-old Kirk Hauptmann was wounded, but escaped from the restaurant to a nearby supermarket to summon police. When officers arrived on the scene, they found that 25-year-old Terres had shot himself to death.
The loss of lives could have been far greater, police said. A semi-automatic weapon was found next to his car in the McDonald's parking lot. Inside the vehicle was a 30-round clip for the weapon and the gunman had another 30 rounds. Officers speculated Terres had accidentally locked the clip in his auto and, forgetting he had another 30 bullets, dropped the automatic rifle on the ground.
The shooting captured national attention for a time, with calls, as one would expect, for gun control legislation. Locally, there were also complaints from people (not patrons, obviously) that the McDonald's on 75th and Pershing reopened for business the next day.

Now, I know you're not a fan of gun control. I'm not into guns, but I'm not into this gun confiscation fantasy that the NRA sells, either. Heck, I've fired a gun or three myself.
It was my first visit to your place after you were born, so you wouldn't remember it. I remember that my first three shots with that rifle hit the target some 100 yards away. After that, my success was more in tune with what you'd expect from a novice; and with a .22 pistol, I couldn't hit my target at all.

Seeing this photo was my first discovery that I was growing a bald spot back where I couldn't see it in the mirror. With any luck, you've inherited the hair gene from elsewhere in your family tree. But if you've been thinking of sporting a mohawk someday, you probably shouldn't put it off.
It's a question people who have lost their homes in this year's California wildfires are sure to be asked: how can people build homes in the path of disaster?

The natural disasters in the above cartoon each happened two years apart, in 1993, 1989 and 1991. I posted another cartoon about the Mississippi River flooding of '93 a few weeks ago; the Loma Prieta earthquake hit the bay area just before a World Series game; you can ask your mother about her experience with Hurricane Andrew.

In response to these disasters, whole towns picked up and moved away from the Mighty Mississippi; efforts continue to reinforce freeways, bridges, and buildings to improve their resistance to earthquakes. But with climate change bringing ever stronger hurricanes nearly every year, it seems that mankind has few options other than improving early warning and evacuation systems.

Moving on from acts of God:

The Ceil Pillsbury settlement story is local to University of  Wisconsin at Milwaukee but became a cause celèbre in conservative circles statewide; Pillsbury was a professor at the university who claimed she had been denied tenure because she was a woman and pregnant. She had been the only one of four Business School candidates denied tenure in 1989 in spite of having had seven articles published and been named Faculty Member of the Year by the Business School's advisory council.
She had always discounted stories of sex discrimination, believing that they had to be false or merely isolated incidents. "I never thought it was a systemic problem. At first, I didn't think there was any way it could be discrimination. As I talked to other women in the business school, it was clear to me what had happened all along. Women were just not in a position to succeed."
Whether the school's denial of tenure was because she was the only female candidate that year or because she was a lifelong conservative Republican, the University ended up agreeing to pay Pillsbury over $125,000 and to rehire her with a salary commensurate with a tenured professor whether it granted her tenure or not. Ultimately, of course, it was students and taxpayers who ended up footing the bill.

Well, that's the sum total of my work in August of 1993. Not much of a unifying theme here. There was other stuff I could have drawn about yet didn't, most notably the nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, but off-year Augusts are usually News Doldrum months.

Tune in again next week for some even-year August cartoons instead.