Monday, January 21, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

Not much mystery over what this week's cartoon is about.

For the record and by the way, the Vice President appeared in only four of my cartoons last year.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

EnviroStewardship: Measuring Costs and Benefits

Once a month, I turn the blog over to my dad, a chemistry Ph.D. who writes an "Environmental Stewardship" column for local church newsletters. The following is by John Berge:

Recently there have been published a number of interesting and informative scientific review papers published on the environment and therefore on Environmental Stewardship. One published in Environmental Science & Technology Letters used 2016 data from the Global Burden of Disease project to calculate loss in life expectancy as a function of small particle (2.5 micrometers or less) pollution in various countries.

Obviously, small particles are just one type of pollution, but one that is very significant around coal-fired power plants and the rail lines leading to them. On  average in the USA, the drop in life expectancy is only about four months; but these data fall in the portion of the response curve that is steepest, so a small change in pollution, in either direction, has a corresponding large effect.

In Bangladesh, Egypt and Niger, the curve has leveled off, and it will take great reductions in pollution to change their almost two-year reduction in life expectancy. The report also noted that in Southeast Asia, PM2.5 pollution had a bigger effect on life expectancy than all cancers combined.

Thou shalt not pollute thy neighbors’ land, nor thy neighbors’ water nor thy neighbors’ air, so that thy days and thy neighbors’ days shall be longer and healthier.

Another report was from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They were asked by the United Nations to examine how much better off we would be if greenhouse gas emissions were reduced sufficient to limit temperature increase to 1.5ºC rather than the goal of 2.0ºC set by the Paris Agreement on Global Warming.

They reported that global average sea level rise would be reduced from 56 cm to 48 cm (1.84 feet to 1.58 feet). The ocean’s acidity increase would be reduced from 24% to 9% and the probability of an ice-free Arctic Ocean in any given year would go down from 16% to 3%. The proportion of global population facing at least one severe heat wave every five years would drop from 37% to 14%. The number of vertebrate species that would lose at least half of their viable range would be cut in half, from 8% to 4%.

Carbon dioxide, the most abundant of the greenhouse gases that we humans have been increasingly producing since the start of the industrial revolution, is a natural component of the atmosphere. Without it, our planet would revert to a “Snowball Earth,” which it is believed by many geologists to have been 600 million years ago. It is the rise from 270 ppm before our increasing use of fossil fuels to the current approximately 412 ppm that is the problem. We, and the rest of nature, have evolved with the lower levels of greenhouse gases and we are now seeing the consequences of this rapid, human-caused rise.

While much of the corrective actions to avert the damages of global warming may depend upon governments, there is much that we as individuals and families can do:
  • Buy gas-sipping automobiles rather than gas-guzzlers.
  • Switch from coal-fired electricity to wind or solar power. 
  • Travel less, whether it is local driving, business which could be done electronically, or vacations. 
  • Eat less meat, especially high energy-requiring corn-fed beef. 
  • Buy and use only the most energy efficient appliances. 
  • Turn down the thermostat a few degrees in winter and up in the summer. 
Carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons are pollutants; good environmental stewards should treat them as in my imaginary umpteenth commandment above.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Last Call for Alcohol


Just a quick Synthale Saturday post today to mark the centennial this week of ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
"Across" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1919
It's as if the idea wasn't even the least bit controversial. States were falling over each other to enshrine Prohibition in the Constitution. With ratification by Nebraska, North Carolina, and Utah legislatures on January 16, 1919 — less than a month after its approval by Congress — Prohibition had passed muster in the required 36 out of 48 states. Missouri and Wyoming approved ratification later that day, and all the remaining states but Connecticut and Rhode Island would follow suit by March 3.
"United Sahara America" by Sidney J. Greene in New York Evening Telegram, January 19, 1919
The 1910's witnessed a rash of amendments to the Constitution — one more of them than the antebellum trio of Amendments from 1865-70. Passage of the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913, authorizing federal income taxation, paved the way for the Eighteenth Amendment by giving the government, heavily reliant on liquor excise fees, an alternative source of funding. The Nineteenth Amendment extending the vote to women was slogging its way through Congress and state legislatures simultaneously with the Eighteenth.
"Well, There's No Getting Out of It" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 19, 1919
The Eighteenth is unique among all the Articles and Amendments in that it is the only one to limit the freedom of individuals. All the others grant powers to or limit powers of the federal government or states. (Granted, one could argue that the Thirteenth Amendment limits the freedom of individuals to own slaves, but it does so by extending the Declaration of Independence's promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" to other individuals.)

And so, the Noble Experiment was underway.
"'Long 'Bout This Time o' Year, Next Year" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth (MN) Evening Herald, January 17, 1919
After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all the territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
"Maybe Now We Won't Need That Fence at All" by John N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, January 21, 1919
"Ding" Darling brings our discussion back to the present day and Teetotaler Trump's obsession with his ugly border wall. If Congress lets him have this one vanity project, who's to say he won't shut down the government again to force repeal of the Twenty-first Amendment?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Q Toon: Shut Down and Out


Yes, it's true: The United States Coast Guard posted a number of suggestions to its service men and women, furloughed or working without pay during Donald Joffrey Trump's partial shutdown of the government, on how to stretch their finances. Included on the list is having a garage sale, which are so popular in January.

The Coast Guard yanked the list off the internet once the media got wind of it, but we're told that other suggestions were to take up babysitting gigs or enlist as a "mystery shopper."

Of course, the Coast Guard and other federal employees will eventually get paid on that glorious day when Trump's temper tantrum terminates — although if certain Republicans had their way, the furloughed ones would have been shut out of luck. Government contractors and their employees, on the other hand, are finding out what it's like to be a Trump contractor.

Since Republicans are the party that has campaigned for decades about shutting the government down, you'd think that Trump has the upper hand in any negotiation in which he can say, "Okay, you want National Parks? I don't care; I wouldn't set foot in one. You want unemployment compensation? Get a job! You want food safety inspections? My steak company mighta stayed in business if I didn't have to worry about those meddling do-gooders."

And so on.

Who knew that Nancy Pelosi had the cojones to threaten the one thing Trump has been looking forward to this month: a captive audience at his State of the Union address, half of whom would lovingly cheer and applaud on cue every 30-40 seconds and would fawn over him as he entered and left the chamber.

We may be about to witness the first State of the Union address delivered by tweet. Although I think it's more likely that his staff will discover that Trump has a previously scheduled campaign rally in Bum Fork, South Carolina.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Time and Tide, Sooner Or Later

It has belatedly come to my attention that a cartoon I drew last month about Kyler Murray and Kevin Hart pictured Murray in a Crimson Tide uniform instead of an Oklahoma Sooners uniform. In an email that got shunted off to a seldom-used address of mine, Google+ reader (Cripes, is that still a thing?) EaglesBamaF1 23 says I owe the entire University of Alabama an apology.

Well, I certainly apologize.

In a lack of due diligence, I had image-googled Mr. Murray and printed out the picture that appeared to best show the details of what football helmets look like these days. I had decided to draw Murray in a football uniform because I suspected that most of my readers would have no idea who he was if I drew him in street clothes. Unfortunately, it turns out that the photo was of Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, like Murray a candidate for the Heisman trophy at the time.

Frankly, I'd rather have drawn Murray without the helmet covering most of his face, because he seems reasonably fit for caricature. I wasn't pleased with any of the four caricatures of Kevin Hart in that cartoon; too bad I couldn't have just put a football helmet on his head.

And can I just say, as someone who doesn't follow college football except for the Wisconsin Badgers, that there are too many schools out there with red and white as their school colors?

This Week's Sneak Peek


Cartoonist tip: once you start putting details in the background, you have to keep going.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

War Is Over, If You Want It

In last Saturday's post about Teddy Roosevelt, I mentioned that German cartoonists were probably too preoccupied with domestic problems to take note of the passing of an American president; so it behooves me this Saturday to fill you in, dear reader, on those pressing matters over in die Vaterland.

"Übergangswirtschaft" by Wilhelm Schnarrenberger in Simplicissimus, Munich, January 7, 1919
With the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm and the renunciation of the throne by his son Crown Prince Wilhelm, Germany was thrust into a fundamental identity crisis. A republican government was established with social democrat Friedrich Ebert as chancellor, but labor strikes and partisan strife from the far left and far right threatened to overthrow the Weimar Republic from the outset.
"Berlin in War and in Peace" by Albert J. Taylor in Los Angeles Times, January, 1919
Taking advantage of a general strike declared on January 6, the Spartacist League (Spartakusbund), a faction of the German Communist Party led by Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, sparked a violent uprising hoping to establish a communist state.
"Liebknecht" by Erich Schilling in Simplicissimus, Munich, January 21, 1919
As a member of the Reichstag, Liebknecht had been a prominent opponent of the Great War. His opposition got him sentenced to prison for high treason, but he was released as part of a general amnesty in October, 1918. Luxemburg, a Polish-born German citizen, taught Marxism and economics in Berlin, where Ebert had been among her students. She had also opposed the war, advocating general strikes in German and France to prevent it. She had misgivings about the Spartacist uprising, but supported it once it was underway.
"Pandora Has Nothing on This!" by Fred O. Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, New York, January, 1919
Seibel's crow's worries would be about 20 years premature; Ebert's government and paramilitary units made up of military veterans loyal to him succeeded in quashing the Spartacist uprising in a little over one week. 156 rebels and 17 of Ebert's men were killed in the fighting. Liebknecht and Luxemburg were arrested, beaten, and executed on January 15.
"Die Zerbrochene Waffe" by Werner Hammann in Kladderadatch,  Berlin, January 19, 1919
Meanwhile: after a rousing patriotic speech by the famed Polish pianist Ignacy Paderewski, an uprising against German rule broke out in the Prussian city of Posen (present-day Poznań, Poland) on December 27, 1918. Werner Hammann's Michel (the German equivalent of Uncle Sam, John Bull, or Marianne) vainly brandishes his broken "militarism" rifle against the wolves and crows devouring Posen, his dying horse.

"A Little More Self-Determination..." by Guy R. Spencer in Omaha World, January, 1919
By January 15, the Polish "Citizens' Guard" had seized control of most of the province of Posen, and engaged in heavy fighting with the regular German army and irregular units. Paderewski was appointed Polish Prime Minister on January 18.
"Paderewski's Latest Composition" by Edward W. Gale in Los Angeles Times, January, 1919
The Greater Polish Uprising, as it came to be known, resulted in Poland winning most of the Prussian provinces of Posen and West Prussia, plus eastern portions of Upper Silesia and the area of Działdowo at the peace negotiations at Versailles. Germany retained a section of  East Prussia disconnected from the rest of Germany by a narrow corridor at the port of Gdansk (German Danzig) that provided Poland's only access to the Baltic Sea.
"Klassische Forderung" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatsch, Berlin, January 26, 1919
Poland, when it had any territory at all, had been landlocked since Napoleonic times, so granting it the Polish Corridor prompted Arthur Johnson to suggest sarcastically that perhaps the newly independent Czechoslovakia would demand a seaport, too. His cartoon refers to Act III, Scene 3 of The Winter's Tale, in which Antigonus's ship lands in Bohemia, described by Shakespeare as "a desert Country near the Sea."

Any mariners relying upon Shakespeare for navigation deserve, like Antigonus, to exit, pursued by a bear.
"Overlapping Claims" by Neal D. McCall in Portland (OR) Telegram, January, 1919
Down south at the Adriatic, the Entente had promised Italy Trieste and much of what is now the Croatian coastline in exchange for Italy declaring war on Austria-Hungary. The promises made in the secret Treaty of London in 1915 ran counter to the ideals of ethnic self-determination in Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, and broke American cartoonists of the habit of drawing Italy as the Little Guy.
"Tut, Tut!" by Edward W. Gale in Los Angeles Times, January, 1919
Upset at what it perceived as a betrayal of those promises, Italy walked out of the Paris peace negotiations, insisting that it would only negotiate with Serbia. Italy would gain territory in the eventual Treaty of Versailles, but not nearly as much as it felt it was due. (Cue ominous foreshadowing music here.)
"Ho paura che il mio progetto per la Società delle Nazione..." by Gabriele "Rata Langa" Galanta in L'Asino, Rome, January 19, 1919
Rata Langa's assessment of the League of Nations aside, his caricature of the U.S. President is a far cry from the cartoon of the beatific portrait of St. Woodrow from a couple month's earlier.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Q Toon: The Journey of 1,000 Miles

Not knowing at my drawing board on Sunday how Mercurial American President Donald Trump's government shutdown, his Oval Office address to the nation, the Democrats' response, or even the Golden Globes was going to pan out, I came up instead with this.


Look, I don't know how much longer we can wait for Robert Mueller to wrap up his investigation; but impeaching a president requires finding an actual high crime or misdemeanor that will stand up in the Senate. The founding fathers didn't provide for impeachment in the case of a toxic presidency, and by the time Trump's mental instability becomes obvious enough for Section Four of the 25th Amendment to be unquestionably necessary, there won't be enough Principal Officers left in his cabinet to make a quorum.

But for now, the prospect of impeachment is overshadowed by more immediate issues. Trump is bound and determined to get that big ugly monument to His Panic along our southern border, and he doesn't care whom he has to starve into submission to get it. That's his idea of how negotiation works, and we're about to see how long Nancy Pelosi and her anxious car pool are willing to put up with him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Week One's Sneak Peek


This could be the first time I've put Nancy Pelosi in a cartoon, if memory serves me correctly, and it's about time. I've drawn every Speaker of the House since Tip O'Neil at least once, although I think Denny Hastert only showed up as a former congressperson.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

TR: An American Original

This Sunday will mark the 100th anniversary of the death of Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States from 1901 to 1909.
"The Long, Long Trail" by John "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, January 7, 1919
"Ding" Darling's memorial cartoon is the quintessential cartoon eulogy for Roosevelt, notwithstanding the fact that the whole concept was a reworking of a cartoon Darling had drawn when Buffalo Bill Cody died. Any biography of Roosevelt that includes any cartoons at all will have this one (and Clifford Berryman's teddy bear cartoon), so I would have normally passed over it in favor of all the cartoons that haven't been kept alive all these years...
"Good Bye!" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, January, 1919
...But I wanted to contrast it with Billy Ireland's memorial cartoon. In spite of its similar approach to the subject, and Ireland's unquestionable skill in caricature, composition and drafting, you can see why Darling's cartoon has withstood the test of time and Ireland's hasn't. Darling has T.R. looking directly at the reader, and the wagon trail into the sky packs more emotion than Ireland's ground transport. I do like the updating of Charon's ferry to a western wagon, however.

"The Last Voyage of Adventure" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, January, 1919
Other cartoonists responded with cartoons that at first seem to say little more than "He's dead, Jim." Rollin Kirby stuck with the traditional depiction of the ferryman to Hades, but casts the journey as a final adventure for the man whose travels to exotic wilderness locations were the stuff of legend.

"But His Soul Is Marching On" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 9, 1919
Roosevelt's funeral was described as "simple"; in accordance with Roosevelt's wishes, it was without eulogy, sermon, music, flowers, or honorary pallbearers, which may explain Nelson Harding's extremely plain memorial cartoon.
"The Final Summing Up" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, January, 1919
Ted Brown's eulogy seems at first glance to downplay Roosevelt as having been just "a man," but I imagine it refers to the palindrome devised to immortalize one of his administration's greatest achievements: "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!"
"He Was a Man, Take Him All in All" by C.F. Naughton in Duluth Evening Herald, January 7, 1919
Or perhaps not. Roosevelt preferred being called "Colonel" (his rank in the army) instead of President or Former President, and his family declined an offer by the Secretary of War of a military escort for his body. That didn't stop other presidents, politicians, and foreign heads of state from calling him a "great man"; perhaps he preferred these cartoonists going to such lengths to avoid aggrandizing him.

Incidentally, he hated being called "Teddy."

"The Gold Star" by Carey Orr in Chicago Tribune, January 7, 1919
Unlike our recent experience with George H.W. Bush, cartoonists in 1919 were unlikely to have a memorial cartoon for T.R. ready to go — unless they had held onto sketches begun after his attempted assassination in 1912. He had health issues from childhood, and he had survived a pulmonary embolism three weeks before the one that killed him in his sleep; but publicly, the 60-year-old Roosevelt was the very image of health and vitality, maintaining an active schedule of travels and speeches up to the day he died.
"In Action" by S. Rankin in New York Times, January, 1919
This caricature of Roosevelt in the New York Times exemplifies Roosevelt's feisty public political persona. Raskin's caricature reminds me of another jugendstil caricature of Roosevelt, by Gustav Brandt on page 149 of The American Presidency in Political Cartoons 1776-1976 by Thomas Blaisdell, Peter Selz "and seminar." Brandt's caricature also shows Roosevelt bent forward and gesticulating with his fists; as the book's authors explain, "Photographs of Roosevelt speaking verify that he often actually did lean far over the podium, gesturing and working his face wildly."

I had thought it would be interesting to include any German cartoonist's response to the death of Roosevelt, considering how vocal he was in encouraging the U.S. to enter the Great War. From what I've seen, however, German cartoonists were understandably preoccupied with the Paris negotiations and violent political upheaval at home.
"Sant Jaume Americà" by Josep "Picarol" Costa Ferrer in Campana de Gràcia, Barcelona, January, 1919?
So instead, I'll close with a tribute to Roosevelt from Spain. Unfortunately, I've been unable to find the cartoon in Campana de Gràcia's archives; it could have been originally published before Roosevelt's death and republished in Cartoons magazine among the memorial tribute cartoons. (Or else Cartoons magazine might have been mistaken as to which journal published it.)

The cartoonist seems to be inducting Roosevelt into the Order of Santiago, a knightly order named for Spain's patron saint, James the Greater, who is commonly depicted riding a white horse and brandishing a sword. Instead of driving the Moors out of Spain, however, this American St. James drove the Spaniards out of Cuba.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Q Toon: Riding Into the Sunset


Utah's newest Senator has captured attention with his op-ed swipe at Donald Joffrey Trump, but let us take a moment here to commend Utah's newly retired Senator Orrin Hatch. In his farewell address to the Senate, Hatch, who earned a Zero on the Human Rights Campaign's most recent scorecard on LGBTQ issues and once claimed that homosexuals have a "psychological deficiency," urged his colleagues to find common ground with the LGBTQ community:
“Nowhere is the pluralist approach more needed than in the fraught relationship between religious liberty and LGBTQ rights. . . . Religious liberty is a fundamental freedom. It deserves the very highest protection our country can provide. At the same time, it’s also important to [take] account of other interests as well – especially those of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. Pluralism shows us a better way. It shows us that protecting religious liberty and preserving the rights of LGBTQ individuals are not mutually exclusive. I believe we can find substantial common ground on these issues that will enable us to both safeguard the ability of religious individuals to live their faith and protect LGBTQ individuals from invidious discrimination.”
That moment of commendation now being dispensed with, let us turn to Utah's now Senior Senator, Mike Lee, who is single-handedly holding up the nomination of three Employment Equal Opportunity Commissioners, and thus denying the EEOC a quorum to take any action, because one of them is a lesbian.

The religious right has had their knickers in a wad over Chai Feldblum ever since President Barack Obama named her to the five-member EEOC in 2010, because she supports marriage equality. They have fabricated inflammatory remarks she never made and twisted others to portray her as hostile to the faithful.
Conservative activists have condemned Feldblum in the American Conservative (“an enemy of religious liberty”), the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal (a “radical nominee”), the Daily Wire (“Trump’s worst federal nomination”), the Blaze (“radical activist against religious freedom”), and elsewhere. Led by the anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, right-wing advocacy groups have condemned Trump’s re-nomination of Feldblum. (The FRC previously maligned Feldblum by crediting her with the statement “Gays win; Christians lose,” which she never said.) In a statement, Lee echoed these criticisms, alleging that Feldblum has “radical views on marriage and the appropriate use of government power” that would lead her “to use the might of government to stamp out traditional marriage supporters.”
Feldblum, the daughter of an Orthodox Jewish rabbi, has responded that she was raised “in a home in which religion and God were the defining aspects of our daily lives.” Her 2006 essay on finding an accommodation between non-discrimination policies and "religious liberty," Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion, leans toward favoring non-discrimination...
If I am denied a job, an apartment, a room at a hotel, a table at a restaurant or a procedure by a doctor because I am a lesbian, that is a deep, intense and tangible hurt. That hurt is not alleviated because I might be able to go down the street and get a job, an apartment, a hotel room, a restaurant table or a medical procedure from someone else. The assault to my dignity and my sense of safety in the world occurs when the initial denial happens. That assault is not mitigated by the fact that others might not treat me in the same way.
...but insists that religious beliefs are owed respect and a place in public policy.
My argument in this article is that intellectual coherence and ethical integrity demand that we acknowledge that civil rights laws can burden an individual's belief liberty interest when the conduct demanded by these laws burdens an individual's core beliefs, whether these beliefs are religiously based or secularly based. Acknowledging such a liberty interest will not necessarily result in the invalidation of the law or the granting of an exemption for the religious individual. 
Which sounds to me like she and Senator Hatch could have had some meaningful conversation, had he not waited until he was on his way out the door to float the idea of reason, rationality, and compromise.