Thursday, February 28, 2019

Q Toon: Phoning It In

In a surprise move last week, the Corrupt Trump Administration announced a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality worldwide.

The announcement was particularly curious, given Trump's cozy relationship with some especially bad actors on LGBTQ rights around the world (the U.S. voted with them last year against a U.N. resolution against capital punishment for consensual same-sex activity), and with the antigay right in this country.

True, he did promise at the 2016 Republican National Convention to "do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens" — he even included the Q in the acronym. But he also included the T, yet has singled out transgender Americans for sustained hostility and discrimination.

Trump's promise then was a swipe at Islam, and, according to former Trump flack Sean Spicer, a bone thrown to persuade one convention delegate to withdraw his name from a "Never Trump" petition:
The final name that needed to be scrubbed from the petition, Spicer writes [in The Briefing: Politics, The Press, and The President], was that of Washington, D.C., delegate Robert Sinners. The book describes an alleged deal between Sinners, who Spicer says told the Manafort team “he wanted Donald Trump to support gay rights,” and senior Trump communications advisor Jason Miller.
“Jason assured Sinners that Trump would be the most ‘inclusive’ candidate the Republican Party ever had,” Spicer writes....
Sinners then reportedly signed “a form that officially removed his name from the petition,” and the deal was done.
The new campaign appears to be the pet project of Richard Grenell, Trump's Ambassador to Germany (who is also in the running to be named Ambassador to the United Nations). Grenell is a disciple of National Security Adviser John Bolton; his name showed up in my blog in 2012 when Mitt Romney dropped him as a foreign policy adviser as a sop to religious right-wingers alarmed that Grenell is openly gay.

Grenell cites the recent execution in Iran of a man accused of being gay as the impetus for the campaign:
Grenell called the hanging “a wake-up call for anyone who supports basic human rights,” in Bild, a leading German newspaper, this month.
“This is not the first time the Iranian regime has put a gay man to death with the usual outrageous claims of prostitution, kidnapping, or even pedophilia. And it sadly won’t be the last time,” Grenell wrote. “Barbaric public executions are all too common in a country where consensual homosexual relationships are criminalized and punishable by flogging and death.”
As much as it is heartening to see our government standing up for LGBTQ rights in Iran, it is hard to imagine the Corrupt Trump Administration doing the same for LGBTQ rights in Saudi Arabia, where LGBTQ relationships are also "criminalized and punishable by flogging and death." After all, Trump could barely scrape up any trace of disappoval of the Saudis' murder of openly heterosexual journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Nor have we heard much from him about antigay repression in Russia, especially the disappearance, torture and murder of hundreds of LGBTQ Chechens.

As with virtually everything else about life in North Korea, we know precious little about the plight of its LGBTQ citizens; a gay defector last year painted a picture of oppression and forced denial. Homosexuality isn't technically illegal there; but as in any totalitarian country, the government can label anything "contrary to a socialist lifestyle," "obscene," or "decadent" as an excuse to prosecute whomever it wants.

It's a safe bet that safeguarding the rights of LGBTQ Koreans did not come up in conversations between Kim and Trump in Vietnam this week. Rather, the Corrupt Trump Administration's sole concern in LGBTQ rights anywhere is their usefulness as a wedge between western European liberalism and the Iranian theocracy.

Trump has not been able to persuade other signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to join him in abrogating the agreement, in which Iran promised to limit its nuclear activities and to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor their compliance, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Without European cooperation, Trump has no leverage to force some presumably more punitive deal on Iran.

So is he just being clever, calculating that liberal western politicians would rather go back to Square One on Iran's nuclear ambitions (even as nuclear powers India and Pakistan have begun shooting at each other) than to appear antigay? Maybe.

Or maybe not.

News reports this week suggest that, contrary to my cartoon, Vice President Mike Pence is more aware of the administration's brand new policy than President Trump himself is.
A reporter asked Trump about the global initiative, which is being spearheaded by U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, the highest ranking openly gay person in the Trump administration.
At first, Trump seemed not to understand the question, asking the reporter to repeat it.
“Say it?” Trump said.
When the reporter referenced the push to decriminalize homosexuality across the globe, Trump professed unawareness and said something about reports in his administration.
“I don’t know which report you’re talking about,” Trump said. “We have many reports.”

Monday, February 25, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

No more lonely nights

Will you be alone
All you got to do is

Pick up your telephone 
And dial 634-5789
(That's my number)

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Making Amends

It's time to explore another example of the U.S. Constitution affecting Americans' everyday lives...
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King, in Chicago Tribune, February 16, 1919
But — surprise! I'm not talking about the Eighteenth Amendment today, but the Sixteenth.

"The Coming Serenade" by Sidney Greene in New York Evening Telegram, ca. January, 1919
In a way, the 16th Amendment establishing the federal income tax was necessary for the passage of the 18th, since the federal government was going to need to replace the revenue from taxes levied on alcohol. The federal government had also been heavily reliant on tariffs, which progressives denounced as overburdening lower income groups — since the poor spend a greater percentage of their income than rich people do.

Although tariffs were blamed for inflation, they had the benefit of being a hidden tax, collected a little at a time within the price of goods. The income tax, on the other hand, was initially collected all at once on March 15; payroll deduction wouldn't come around until World War II.

So kwitcherbitchin about how small your refund is this year. That refund is your interest-free loan to Uncle Sam. Your great-great-grandpa not only didn't get a refund, he had better have saved up enough throughout the year to satisfy IRS expectations.
"Guess Who!" by Wm. C. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, February, 1919
When the federal income tax was first levied in 1913, the tax rate was a modest 1% tax on net personal incomes above $3,000, with a 6% surtax on incomes above $500,000. Since the Liberty Loans had fallen well short of their goals to fund military readiness for and participation in World War I, Congress raised the top income tax rate for 1918 to 77% on income over $1,000,000 (the equivalent of about $17,000,000 today). The effective average rate for the rich, however, was only 15%.
Form 1040 in 1916.
As for the typical filer, single persons with income in 1918 of over $1,000, and married persons with income over $2,000 were required to file income tax returns. That first one or two thousand bucks were exempted from income, and there was a $200 exemption for each dependent in a household. New in 1918 was the complication that if one was married only half of the year, one was limited to only half of the marital exemption.

Interest on the purchase of Liberty Bonds was also exempt, but interest paid on loans for the purchase of those bonds was not deductible. In all, federal tax law took up a few hundred pages, compared to over 72,000 pages nowadays.
"Interment Public" by Cyrus Hungerford in Pittsburgh Sun, ca. March, 1919
If Cy Hungerford's take on taxation hackneyed and shopworn, here's one from Nelson Harding from a totally different point of view from all the other cartoonists on this page.
"Swamped!" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 18, 1919
Finally, lets circle back 'round to Frank King, who offered several ideas for repurposing all those soon-to-be unemployed bar rails by installing them in other establishments. They might even, he suggested, turn paying taxes into an enjoyable social activity.
Detail from "The Rectangle" by Frank O. King in Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1919
Because that's why folks went out drinking in those days. So a guy could put one foot up.

Oh, heck, as long as we're back on the subject of Prohibition anyway, here's John McCutcheon anticipating a lot of folks making a run for the border once the United States' taps ran dry.
"When the U.S. Goes Dry" by John McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, March 10, 1919
Mexico must have been sorely tempted to build a wall to keep out all the drunken gringos.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Q Toon: Please Hold Your Applause Until the End

Thanks to Kevin Hart's having to withdraw as host of this year's Oscars because of some homophobic remarks, the Academy Awards will air this Sunday without a host. Having thus shaved some eight or nine minutes from the 7.5-hour telecast, the Academy floated some other trial balloons to tighten up the program.

One idea was to have some of the more esoteric awards given out during the commercial breaks. That balloon was immediately shot down by sound mixers and film editors upset at the prospect of not being able to tell their children to go to bed on live TV. Which is why they went into show biz in the first place.

Another idea was to perform only two of the five Best Original Song nominees. After loud protest from the musical community, a compromise has been reached and four of the songs will be performed.

There are so many other ways to save time at the XCIst Academy Awards. Why waste all that time having the winners walk up to the stage from their seats in the audience, stopping to shake 20-30 hands along the way? Have all the nominees standing on stage the whole time. The Best Supporting Actor and other early nominees can all take their seats as soon as their winner is announced, and I can assure you that the Best Picture nominees will want to see the proceedings move right along.

And let's limit each broadcast to one single lifetime achievement award, say, the Irving Thalberg Award To The Oldest Person In The Room Without An Oscar Yet.

On second thought, that award would soon go to the orchestra conductor, and there would be nobody to play him offstage once he starts thanking all the cellists, his grade school music teachers, and Otto Lagervall.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pete Buttigieg

With so many candidates declaring their presidential candidacies for 2020, I'd better start these candidate caricatures early.
To say that South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a long shot to become the 46th President of the United States is to belabor the obvious. The last time a sitting mayor won his party's presidential nomination was in 1812, over two centuries ago (but who's counting?), and that guy lost to James Madison. (Besides, that guy, DeWitt Clinton, was also serving as Lieutenant Governor of New York at the time, and yet his demonstrated skill at multitasking still failed to impress the electorate.)

On the other hand, every other candidate for the 2020 Democratic nomination is a long shot as well, simply by virtue of there being so many of them.

So what does Mayor Buttigieg bring to the party? He's a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, openly gay and married, and at 37 years of age would be the youngest president in U.S. history, succeeding the oldest. He has been mayor of his fairly conservative city since 2012, winning 80% of the vote in his reelection bid. He remains "highly popular" there and a "sure bet" for a third term had he chosen to run, according to the South Bend Tribune.

As he seeks to take the leap from South Bend to the White House, here's his elevator pitch:
"For what it's worth, I have more years of government experience under my belt than the president, and more years of executive experience than the vice president, and more years of military experience than I think anybody to reach that office since George H.W. Bush. So I get that I'm the youngest person in the conversation, but I think experience is one of the main reasons I hope to be taken seriously."
As a veteran, he has practical opinions on American foreign policy and believes that the Corrupt Trump Administration is frittering away our leadership of the free world. As a rust-belt mayor, he has had to deal with the Corrupt Trump Administration's hamfisted tariff policies and the worsening trend of megacorporations pitting municipalities against each other to see which can prostitute itself more than the rest.
"Economic development incentives have their place, but that doesn't mean that you can — and actually I think the example that's most vividly showing this now is what's happening in Wisconsin with Foxconn. Even when you do land a company also often you're landing one if they're that sensitive to incentives that may not be that sticky and may respond to somebody else's incentives in a few short years."
With a crowded field, it's anyone's race to win, and Democrats have developed a preference for fresh new faces in the past 50 years. Hardly anyone outside Georgia had heard of Jimmy Carter when he was just one of a dozen presidential aspirants in 1975; Barack Obama had held political office for only two years at the national level when he launched his campaign in 2007 in a field of eight.

So could Buttigieg go all the way? Stranger things have happened.

One of them is declaring national emergencies as we speak.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

EnviroStewardship: No Winter Lasts Forever

Here's Dad's monthly "Environmental Stewardship" column for March. He's a bit miffed that the new pastor at his church wants to rename the column. But since I've got an "Environmental Stewardship" graphic and not a "Care of God's Creation" graphic, I'm going to go ahead and keep the old moniker.

Mail boxes are full of alluring letters from lawn care companies and colorful plant and seed catalogs. The astronomical start of spring, if not the meteorological signs on the thermometer, will come just after the middle of this month of change. And I wonder whether the piles of snow in the front yard will be gone by the solstice rather that the equinox.

But spring will come and many of the gardeners and lawn owners will be eager to get out and work in the yard, or as I like to say, “play in the dirt.” (I have long felt these activities can save a lot of visits to a psychiatrist.) Especially those who took my advice last fall to procrastinate in the cleanup of garden beds and under the shrubbery will have plenty to do and to enjoy.

When you start cleaning up the gardens and lawn, take time to observe what has been going on under those leaves and dried-up plants. See the holes in the dirt as beneficial insects come out of their underground hibernation. Note the larva and chrysalises of this year’s butterflies and moths clinging to the old stalks. Observe how the winter’s browns become the spring’s greens and brighter colors in the early flowers.

If you don’t currently have compost piles or bins, now would be a good time to start one or more. The organic matter which protected the wintering plants and animals can now be composted into great additions to the soil and free mulch for around the bases of shrubs and other plants. Try to keep the weed seeds out of the compost piles, since in Wisconsin, compost piles rarely get hot enough to kill those seeds and your mulch may spread weeds rather than minimize them.

If you buy new plants or seed, locally or from those very enticing catalogs, check if they have been treated with neonicotinoids, a systemic insecticide which has been increasingly connected with honey bee die-off and attacks on our native bee populations. A possible change of vendor should be considered.

Lawns should be tested before any additional fertilizer is applied, but this is seldom done. Most applications are excessive and end up fertilizing our lakes, rivers and streams. The first of August marks the fifth anniversary of the time when Toledo, Ohio, had to shut down its entire water system for four days because of toxic “algae” which took over that end of Lake Erie. This was due mostly to agricultural run-off, because phosphorus had been removed from most lawn fertilizers after a smaller water system had similarly been shut down a few years before. Some of our youth and their leaders will be traveling this summer to Toledo and may be able to see the problems that smaller Great Lake is already experiencing.

The ways we take care of our lawns and gardens have environmental consequences far beyond the depth of the green, the brightness of the flowers and the freshness of the produce. Good environmental stewardship means we seriously consider these consequences.
—John Berge

Monday, February 18, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

Does the lack of a host this year mean that we get to skip the overblown opening number?

Saturday, February 16, 2019

African-American History 1919

In honor of African-American History Month, Sepiatoneback Saturday brings you this John H. Cassel cartoon, along with a paragraph added by Cartoons magazine, celebrating the contribution of African-American soldiers during World War I.

One note before I go on: there must have been African-American artists from this period who took inspiration from the Great War, but I don't have any examples of their work here. Every cartoonist and artist in this post was a white male.
"The Colors" by John H. Cassel in New York Evening World, February 13, 1919
I do not know what exactly it was that prompted Cassel to draw this cartoon, but it stands alone against a slew of cartoons demeaning the service of Black soldiers.

Update: New York welcomed home its Harlem Hellfighters (about which, more below) on February 18, 1919. Sidney Greene at the New York Evening Telegram also drew a celebratory cartoon about the African-American regiment's triumphant parade. The quality of this reproduction isn't very good, but it's enough to get the point across.
"1865-1919" by Sidney Joseph Greene in New York Evening Telegram, February, 1919
It was not editorial page cartoonists but comic page and gag cartoonists who, even after the war, churned out unfunny cartoons depicting Black servicemen as malingering buffoons. Whoever wrote that paragraph underneath Cassel's cartoon could have easily identified "the chap who said... they wouldn't fight" by leafing through recent issues of Cartoons magazine itself.

For just one comparatively tame example, on the recurring theme of Black soldiers showing up at the field hospital:
"Perpetual Motion" by J.C. Curry in Cartoons Magazine, November, 1918
I would be ashamed to resurrect many of the cartoons about African-American soldiers. Some of them portray Black servicemen quite literally as monkeys; most caricature them in the manner of blackface minstrel shows that demonstrate why wearing shoe leather on one's face that way is offensive to many nowadays.

But so as not to leave the subject with that taste in our mouths, here's another cartoon by John Cassel which appears to be modeled on the same individual soldier as the one in "The Colors"; it accompanied an editorial joining Allied Armies Commander Gen. Ferdinand Foch and American Gen. John Pershing in praising the valor of Pvt. Henry Johnson and Pvt. Needham Roberts of the Harlem Hellfighters:
"Black—Also Red, White and Blue!" by John H. Cassel in New York Evening World, May 22, 1918
The editorial extended that praise to all African-American service men and concluded:
"There is just one way the American people as a whole could recognize the valor of Privates Johnson and Roberts, colored, in a manner worthy of the nation:
"To resolve that so long as negro fighters face the enemy and thereafter so long as the Republic they have helped to defend endures, throughout the length and breadth of the United States, law, public condemnation and swift punishment for the guilty shall combine to make the lynching of a negro an abhorred and obsolete crime."
Returning now to 1919: Over German protests, Germany was stripped of its African colonies after the war. In the American press, German brutality figured prominently as justification for this particular punishment — not just German brutality toward its African subjects, but also the horrific acts claimed by the Entente to have been inflicted upon Belgian citizens. The irony there is that Belgium had committed a longer list of atrocities against its African colonial subjects.
"She'll Never Work for Him Again" by Herbert H. Perry in Sioux City (IA) Journal, ca. February, 1919
Of the cartoons I've found showing Africans happy to be no longer subjects of the German Empire, this is probably the least offensive. That is setting the bar very low, obviously.

The bar is set equally low in the references in the proposed League of Nations charter to the citizens of colonial holdings. Article XIX is loaded with a paternalistic attitude toward nations of color:
To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the states which formerly governed and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilization, and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in the constitution of the league.
The best method of giving practical effect to this principle is that the tutelage of such peoples should be entrusted to advanced nations who by reason of their experience, or their resources, or their geographical position, can best undertake this responsibility, and that this tutelage should be exercised by them as mandatories on behalf of the league.
"When the German Colonials Vote" by Leo Cheney in Passing Show, London, ca. February, 1919
European depictions of Africans are just as bad as the American ones (and casually use equally vile language). There is, however, at least a smidgen of sympathy for the fellow on the left of Leo Cheney's cartoon, having to choose among home rule (with "free fire water"), allied protection ("and keep your skin whole"), and continued German rule (with "free torture for all").

"The Operation Was Entirely Successful" by Edward Gale in Los Angeles Times, ca. February, 1919
Racist or not, Edward Gale's "The Operation" is just creepy.

Cartoonists such as Herbert Perry of the Sioux City Journal could at least be excused (somewhat) for their caricatures of Black people because — well, assuming — they had never ever met one in person. But, gawd, where the hell did Gale come up with his idea of how surgery is done?

As I sign off for the day, here's an enlisted man's sketches of Black American soldiers in France for Stars and Stripes and his memoir of the Great War.
"Stevedores" by Pvt. Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge in Stars and Stripes, ca. February, 1919
"Among the First Sent Across" by Cyrus LeRoy Baldridge in his I Was There, Knickerbocker Press, 1919
"Base Port Stevedores" by C.L. Baldridge in I Was There, Knickerbocker Press, 1919

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Q Toon: Into the Spiderverse

In the early months of the Corrupt Trump Administration, six members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) resigned in protest of Donald Joffrey Trump's inaction on HIV/AIDS issues.

The following December Trump then fired the rest of the council by FedEx letter, claiming that he wanted to take PACHA "in a new direction."

For the next year, it appeared that the "new direction" was "no direction at all." PACHA sat empty and dormant, like so many of Trump's ambassadorships and sub-cabinet offices. So it was a surprise to hear Trump promise in his State of the Union message that he was submitting a budget to Congress that would somehow bring an end to new HIV infections in the United States by 2030.

That's a welcome and laudable goal, to be sure, but you have to question his methods. His lackeys claim that he fired everyone in PACHA because it was full of Obama appointees — yet another example of his knee-jerk reaction against anybody and anything with his predecessor's name attached to it. There is value in continuity and institutional memory that utterly escapes this president.

When John Kennedy promised to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960's, his first instinct was not to get rid of everybody at NASA.

Overshadowed by January's partial government shut-down, the Mueller investigation, and Adam Levine's tattoos, Trump has finally named two PACHA co-chairs: Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman and Deputy Executive Director of the AIDS Institute Carl Schmid.

This is, at least, somewhat encouraging. Wiesman's medical career began in 1986 as an HIV/AIDS test counselor and he is past president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. His successor, Nicole Alexander-Scott, commends him:
"Both as a clinician caring for patients with HIV and as a policymaker working to eliminate the disease, I have witnessed firsthand John's commitment, passion, and expertise when it comes to HIV. He is supremely qualified to co-chair the reconstituted Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and will lead bold public health actions to stop HIV."
Schmid spoke out last year about issues arising from provisions hidden in insurance plans that complicate access to affordable and effective drug treatment. He is encouraged by Trump having included HIV/AIDS treatment in the address, telling reporters, “There’s a lot of distrust between the community and the administration, understandably. This could be a good opportunity to show they’re committed to this.”

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Perhaps Wiesman and Schmid are Trump's two for today.

Monday, February 11, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I'm not quite done drawing Trump's State of the Union address. I had to draw one more so I could get the color of Speaker Pelosi's outfit correct.

Here's a topic that is unlikely to come up at Trump's campaign rally this week.

By the way, when Google+ goes bye-bye in a matter of weeks, I am told that any comments readers have left on this blog via Google+ will vanish into thin ethernet. It's not because I'm censoring anybody. That I can tell you.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Last Call for Alcohol: Make Mine a Double

When I published a post marking the centennial of ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution a few Saturdays ago, I was disappointed that I didn't have any cartoons to include by vocal prohibition opponents such as John Cassel of the New York Evening World.
"Freed from the Demon Rum" by John H. Cassel in New York Evening World, ca. January, 1919

I only needed to have kept looking for them.
"The 18th Amendment" by John H. Cassel in New York Evening World, February 1, 1919
The 18th Amendment was ratified by the required 36 states on January 16, 1919; by the end of the month, eight more states added their votes to ratify. Provisions of Prohibition were scheduled to go into effect July 1.
"Remember, Now, John Here Is Only Goin' Half Way" by William Donahey in Cleveland Plain Dealer, January, 1919
There is a difference in tone between the work of other cartoonists in January and cartoons drawn in February. Several earlier ones make light jokes playing off the "Dry" and "Wet" nicknames for the pro- and anti-Prohibition camps, depicting a nation suddenly overtaken by deserts and camels, or depicting Uncle Sam or John Q. Public adjusting to a menu of ice cream sundaes and phosphates.
"Not If They Can Help It" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, February 11, 1919
During the war, several cartoonists drew cartoons in support of Prohibition at the urging of the Committee on Public Information's Office of Cartoons. Banning Demon Rum and its hard spiritual cousins was touted as a noble and necessary sacrifice in order to save wheat and sugar for food production, and to optimize productivity among the working class in America's factories and fields. The association of breweries with German immigrants of suspect loyalties, moreover, tainted the beer industry.
"How Do You Like Your Uncle Camuel?" by Fred Morgan in Philadelphia Inquirer, January 19, 1919
"Notice of Removal" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, January 30, 1919
But such concerns vanished with the arrival of peacetime, replaced by the dawning realization that the amendment didn't apply only to hard liquor, but also that stein of beer at the ballgame and the innocent glass of wine with dinner.
"The Widow Douglas Civilizes Huck Finn" by Harold T. Webster in Detroit News, ca. February, 1919
I can imagine some cartoonists who had dutifully drawn prohibitionist cartoons at the behest of the Office of Cartoons now pulling themselves up short à la Lt. Colonel Nicholson and gasping, "What have I done!"
"Will the Son Love Father's New Affinity?" by William C. Morris for George Matthew Adams Service, ca. February, 1919
And then wondering whether the Prohibitionists were quite satisfied yet.
"Next!" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, ca. February, 1919
I close with one more John Cassel cartoon, echoing Edward Brown's.
"Next!" by John H. Cassel in New York Evening World, February 4, 1919
Brown and Cassel, and the rest of the cartoonists on this page, outlived Prohibition, but would not live to see tobacco fall from its exalted role of America's premier power, sophistication and sex symbol. But their predictions weren't terribly far off base. Merely premature.

Tune in again next Saturday for a couple more cartoons from John Cassel that, as the clickbait teasers would say, might surprise you.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Q Toon: Don't Mind the MAGAs

Last week, Jussie Smollett, an actor who portrays a gay singer on "Empire," reported being assaulted on a Chicago street by two masked men who spewed racist and antigay invective and a certain Trumpster slogan:
Chicago Police have not yet been able to locate the two attackers or to verify Mr. Smollett's story. The longer this investigation takes, the less likely any arrests seems to become — unless, of course, these cartoonish villains start bragging in some 4chan forum.

Mr. Trump's rhetoric during his presidential campaign included some notorious incitement to violence, so accounts of marauding MAGAlomaniacs cannot be discounted. They have threatened journalists with physical harm, mailed improvised explosive devices to journalists and politicians, and run over counter-protesters in Charlottesville.

Trump's bullying swagger attracts and encourages the "deplorables" Hillary Clinton warned us about. It wasn't a terribly politic thing for her to say, but the evidence seems to be bearing her out.

Monday, February 4, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I had my head down concentrating on my drawing board last night during the Big Game. I'm hearing that I didn't miss much.

If, however, Goff hadn't thrown that late interception and the Rams had ended up beating the almighty Pats, I'm sure the general consensus would have been how exciting the game was.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Toon: Inflammatory Remarks

According to Politifact, Donald Joffrey Trump's 2018 State of the Union address contained only five "false" or "mostly false" statements; but by last summer, the rate of Trump's lies to the American people had increased to sixteen whoppers every day.
In his first year as President, Trump made 2,140 false claims, according to the Washington Post. In just the last six months, he has nearly doubled that total to 4,229. In June and July, he averaged sixteen false claims a day. On July 5, the Post found what appears to be Trump’s most untruthful day yet: seventy-six per cent of the ninety-eight factual assertions he made in a campaign-style rally in Great Falls, Montana, were “false, misleading or unsupported by evidence.” 
It has only gotten worse since then, and Lord knows how many lies per minute he tells to the people around him. Add to that the lies he forces Sarah Succubus Sanders and others to tell for him, and it's a wonder the White House hasn't burnt to the ground yet.

When the next President arrives at the executive mansion, she or he is going to be told not to mind the smell of smoke everywhere.

It's just the scorched brimstone.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

February Festivities

So you have a cartoon due for February 2 and you've got no ideas and there's nothing in the news to inspire you and your bristol board is as white and pristine as the newfallen snow. So you look at the calendar and see, Oh, Goody! February 2 is Presentation of Our Lord! I'm saved!

No, of course it's Ground Hog Day, that wonderful festival when we all suddenly care what the weather is in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for some reason (and how to spell it). I live in Wisconsin, where we're in for six more weeks of winter at the very least whether some overgrown rat sees its shadow or has the sense to stay in its burrow.

What's the ground hog got to do with it, anyway? Those Punxsutawney bastards don't have to drag the critter out of its box to figure out whether it's sunny or overcast.

But it's a holiday, even if it's rather one-dimensional, and you can always drag some inspiration for a hackneyed cartoon from it. Sadly, unlike Christmas, there's only one movie about Notorious GHD, and we've all drawn some version of this cartoon.
So perhaps you shouldn't discount Presentation of Our Lord Day so quickly. In Mexico, it's Candelaria, and time to take the yuletide decorations down. They celebrate forty days of Christmas, which is why having a live evergreen in the house and singing that partridge in a pear tree song have never caught on there.

Fortunately, February is chock full of holidays, unlike, say, August. With Valentines Day on the fourteenth, you have the quadrennial cartoons of presidential aspirants wooing the heart of the Republican elephant or Democratic donkey.

Or, if your governor's name is Tommy Thompson, you can pursue another Valentines Day theme.
Did you know that the Jewish equivalent of Valentines Day is Tu B'Av in August? Save that factoid for those late summer news doldrums!

Returning to February: Presidents' Day will come just in time so that the renewal of Trump's government shut-down can start on a day when the government was going to shut down anyway.
Just so you readers from around the world know, we don't celebrate all the presidents on Presidents' Day. Most Americans wouldn't know James Polk from Calvin Coolidge, and we'd be at each others' throats if someone tried to make the day about any president since JFK.
No, the day is all about Honest Abe Lincoln and Even More Honest George Washington, either of whom supplies our cartoonists with a smörgåsbord of clichés.

Finally, I'm not forgetting the most important February holiday of all: Superbowl Big Game Sunday. (Until I cough up the dough to be named Official Cartoonist of the NFL, I gotta be careful about infringement of that trademark.)
The story behind this cartoon is that when I was drawing for The Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, editors Gary Miller, Mark Kass, or Steve Jagler would email me the topic (and usually the entire copy) of the coming issue's editorial so that I could draw a cartoon to accompany it. But this particular week, and they emailed me that the editorial board hadn't decided what the editorial should say; for a change, they were giving me carte blanche to draw about whatever I wanted (but taking into consideration that the Beej readership was very different from my audience at the UW-Milwaukee Post).

With the Green Bay Packers heading for The Big Game, however, there was precious little else being covered by Wisconsin news media. Packers cheerleading was the only memorable part of Tommy Thompson's State of the State message, fercryinoutloud.

I don't remember the editorial having been about managed stock funds, either.

Well, that's all for this edition of Sciuridaeback Saturday. It's time to take down the Christmas tree. We can't leave it up until Mardi Gras like we did last year.

Mardi Gras isn't until March.