Sunday, March 31, 2019

What the H

Yesterday's post led off with an image of the Pittsburg Press, which made me curious about how the editor, publisher, and countless copy editors in the Steel City newspaper could not have known how to spell the name of their own hometown. I thought perhaps it was some misguided effort to deGermanify the name when the U.S. entered the Great War.
"Pittsburgh, PA: The Steel City Once-overed" by Bob Bell in Cartoons Magazine, June, 1919
It turns out that the "burgh" is Scottish, not German, and the idea of dropping the "h" came 23 years before the war. In 1891, the United States Board on Geographic Names decided that any "burgh" ought to drop the "h" to conform with all the other "burgs" around the country. The Pittsburg Press was already using the aitchless spelling; the Pittsburg Leader and Pittsburg Dispatch also conformed with the official federal standard. The Pittsburgh Sun, Pittsburgh Gazette Times, Pittsburgh Post and Pittsburgh Chronicle Telegraph did not.

The Board on Geographic Names reversed its decision twenty years later under pressure from Senator George Oliver (R-PA). Why the Press didn't correct their flag until after yet another ten years, in August, 1921, I have no idea.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Hungary for More

Pittsburg (sic) Press, March 25, 1919
As The Great War drew to a close, citizen revolts in the component parts of the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire combined with Entente offensives to overthrow Emperor Karl Hapsburg and shatter the empire into pieces. In Hungary, the Aster Revolution led by Miháli Károlyi brought about the Hungarian People's Republic, whose leaders expected his country to include territories of the pre-war Kingdom of Hungary. When, on March 20, 1919, the Entente powers notified the them that Hungary would lose significant territories to Romania, Czechoslovakia, and what would later become Yugoslavia, the Hungarian Prime Minister was forced to resign.
"Why Wait for the Millennium?" by Jay "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 29, 1919
Károlyi called on the Social Democrats to form a new government, unaware that they had secretly entered into a coalition with the "Party of Communists from Hungary" (Kommunisták Magyarországi Pártja). On March 21, the new government declared the Hungarian Soviet Republic. Before long, the Communists purged the Social Democrats from leadership positions; the communist government's de facto leader, Commissar of Foreign Affairs Béla Kun, coordinated policy directly with Vladimir Lenin.
"Turning the Dog Loose" by Cyrus Hungerford in Pittsburgh (sic) Sun, March, 1919
The establishment of a second communist government was cause for alarm in the U.S. and its European allies, but Cy Hungerford's cartoon misses the mark. The Hungarian Soviet Republic was closely allied with Soviet Russia, not with the German government, and hoped for its eastern neighbor to back Hungary's territorial aspirations. Issuing calls for workers of the world to unite against the powers that be, Béla Kun could hardly have cared less about German reparations one way or the other.
"German Measles (Bolshevism)" by John H. Cassel in New York Evening World, March 28, 1919
New York World cartoonist John Cassel blamed the Hungarian situation on the Germans...
"Menetekel beim Länderschmaus" by Arthur Johnson in Kladderadatch, Berlin, April 6, 1919
Meanwhile, in Germany, cartoonist Arthur Johnson blamed it on the Entente powers. In a cartoon mixing biblical references, the handwriting on the wall charges that "Hungary was driven to Bolshevism," while the caption quotes from Psalm 2:10: "So nehmet nun Verstand an, ihr Könige, und lasset euch warnen, ihr Richter der Erde!" (SCH1951; "Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth!" NRSV)
"Das Selbstbestimmungerecht der Völker" by Eduard Thöny in Simplicissimus, April 8, 1919
Bolshevik-inspired revolts rocking Berlin and Munich could only have been encouraged by the new government in Budapest, but establishment voices there were just as alarmed as those of the Entente. I've been trying to figure out whom Eduard Thöny caricatured in the above cartoon, but without success. It doesn't resemble any member of the Kun government; and certainly not Karl Hapsburg, who had been deposed as both Emperor and King. If the guy in the cartoon is supposed to represent 19th-Century Hungarian rebel leader Prince Francis II Rákócsy, he doesn't look much like the guy on the 500 forint bill.
"Dassent Spank Me Now!" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 28, 1919
"How Things Are Going" by Percy H. "Poy" Fearon in London Evening News, March, 1919
With the Paris Peace Accords still being hammered out and the League of Nations agreed to only in theory, the Hungarian Soviets' stated intention of reclaiming land the Entente powers had given to Hungary's neighbors, a resumption of war loomed as a likely possibility.
"The Wood-Shed-Switch Cure" by William Hanny in St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, April 1, 1919

"In the Manger" by Burt Thomas in Detroit News, March, 1919
The saying "a dog in the manger" isn't as common these days as it was a century ago; referring to the fable about the dog hoarding the other animals' manger out of spite even though he had no use for the hay himself. I do like the drawing of the horse.
"The Red Peril" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune, March 25, 1919
As I mentioned last week, there were a lot of cartoons like John McCutcheon's here. The Red Peril could be a spider, a snake, a back-alley cutthroat, smoke, shadow, or whatever other nightmarish image struck the cartoonist's fancy. I only see most of these cartoons in grayscale images, so I have to wonder whether McCutcheon convinced the Chicago Tribune publisher to run this cartoon in red.
"The Poison Gas Attack" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, March, 1919
But not everybody was alarmed by the Bolshevik takeover of Hungary. Ryan Walker, cartoonist for the socialist New York Call, was delighted.
"Henry Dubb No Longer" by Ryan Walker in New York Call, March 25, 1919

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Q Toon: Misguidance Counselor

I usually try to avoid addressing the same topic in two syndicated cartoons in a row; but keeping Transgender Awareness Day this coming Sunday in mind, I figured it was worthwhile to point out Senator Joe Manchin's (D-WV) reasoning for coming out as the lone Democrat in the Senate against the Equality Act.

Besides, he's got one of those faces (and haircuts) that just begs for caricature.

As far as Manchin is concerned, it's another case where we're not allowed to have nice things because, you know, public school bathrooms.
I strongly support equality for all people and do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. No one should be afraid of losing their job or losing their housing because of their sexual orientation. After speaking with local education officials in West Virginia, I am not convinced that the Equality Act as written provides sufficient guidance to the local officials who will be responsible for implementing it, particularly with respect to students transitioning between genders in public schools.
Call me a skeptic, but I sincerely doubt that any "guidance to the local officials" that could be amended to the bill wouldn't provide Senator Manchin further reason to withhold his support.

As last week's cartoon illustrated, the Equality Act has virtually no chance of making it through the McConnell-controlled Senate anyway. Still, it does shine a light on who supports LGBTQ rights and who doesn't. Republicans across the nation have instead been pushing "religious liberty" laws to promote discrimination against LGBTQ people.
This is especially important as some states consider laws that would deliberately create a license for businesses, adoption and foster care agencies, health care providers and others to discriminate against LGBT people. Human Rights Watch has documented how these so-called “religious liberty” laws deny LGBT people goods and services, deter them from the marketplace for fear of facing discrimination, and send a signal that they are unwelcome in their state. By clarifying that religious protections cannot be used to discriminate, the Equality Act would better ensure that both religious believers and LGBT people are protected under federal law.
It would also make anti-discrimination laws clear and uniform, which is necessary if these laws are to be effective. LGBT people should not need a law degree to determine whether they are protected from discrimination when they apply for a job, rent an apartment, or eat at a restaurant in the places they happen to live, visit or travel through.
If, as I suspect, the only way to get Senator Manchin on board is to carve out a broad exception for public schools, that would inevitably be followed by a demand that private schools also be exempted. And if private schools, then also landlords, businesses, adoption and foster care agencies, health care providers and — perhaps you see where this is going.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

If You're Listening

So Attorney General William Barr issued his book report on the Mueller report, saying, essentially, "Move along, folks. Nothing to see here."

If the Republicans have their way, we may never see Bob Mueller's actual report; but Barr's summary finds it necessary, in the four paragraphs about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, to iterate and reiterate four times that "the Special Counsel's investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia."

Yet for all the crowing by the Corrupt Trump Administration that Mueller's report "totally vindicates" the president (except for that sentence in which Barr's summary expressly says it does not), his investigation has yielded a remarkable number of indictments and guilty verdicts for Trump cronies.

As for the central issue of Trump campaign collusion with Russia, who can forget Don Jr.'s "if it's what you say I love it, especially later in the summer" meeting at Trump Tower to discuss Russian intel on Hillary Clinton? And of course, there was Don Sr. a month later publicly egging the Russians on to publish Mrs. Clinton's emails. And his telling Jr. to lie that the meeting was about adoption policies.

But move along, folks.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Women's Hystery, 1919

It's Sisterhoodback Saturday! Since I resurrected some cartoons from 1919 for African-American History Month in February, it's only fair to do the same for Women's History Month in March.
"Far Reaching Effects of This War" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Journal, March 15, 1919 
By March of 1919, U.S. soldiers were coming home to find their wives and girlfriends had taken their place in the workforce. Such would be entirely normal in a rural, agrarian setting, but was novel to the urban factory and service worker.
"Corporal Jones..." by William C. Morris for Matthew Adams Syndicate, by March 18, 1919
Cartoonists pressed a social expectation that the soldiers who had left productive jobs to serve in the military ought to be rehired for those same jobs when they returned home, whether those jobs had been filled in the meantime by women or by men. No doubt some women were content to go back to housework, but others discovered that they had a knack for business outside the home.
"Follies of the Passing Show" by Charles D. Mitchell in Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, by March 28, 1919
The 1920 census found 8.3 million women still in the workforce.
The figures show that women’s work was, on the whole, segregated in familiar sectors: clerks, bookkeepers, stenographers, laundresses, waitresses. “Professional” women were most often schoolteachers. Most of the women working in “transportation” were telephone operators. (In the 1920 Census, there was no separate occupational category for communications workers. Telephone and telegraph workers were classified as part of “Transportation,” because of telegraphy’s early relationship with railroads.)
Let us not forget that women, too, served in the Great War. They were nurses, medics, switchboard operators and ammunition workers; and, unlike in previous generations, they served in uniform.
"Off With That Uniform..." by Robert Lemen in St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ca. March, 1919
So if women's roles were changing thanks to the war, what about the suffragettes?

Having passed the House, and in spite of President Wilson having come around on the issue, the 19th Amendment to guarantee women the vote fell one vote short of the required two-thirds majority in the Senate on February 10, 1919.
"The Cold Stove" by William Hanny in St. Joseph (MO) News-Press, February 11, 1919
Two days later, on the other hand, the Wisconsin legislature passed its own version of women's suffrage by veto-proof majorities, joining a growing number of states already allowing women to vote in local and primary elections.

From what I've seen, however, American editorial cartoonists at that moment in history were preoccupied with the peace negotiations in Paris, the new tax bill, and the spread of Bolshevism from Russia to Hungary, Germany, and the U.S. labor movement. (Oh, so many cartoons decrying the Bolshevik menace!) William Hanny's cartoon is the only one I've found about the February defeat of the women's suffrage amendment.*

So, in the absence of any other cartoons on the amendment's latest failure, here's one more cartoon about those hobble skirts.
"Any Where, Any Time!" by C.J. Hopp in Cartoons Magazine, Chicago, June, 1919
* P.S.: If I had just kept looking a little further before posting this, I would have found Bill Sykes's cartoon pointing out that the League of Nations was more forward thinking than the U.S. Senate:
"What Would George Washington Say!" by William Sykes in Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 28, 1919

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Q Toon: I Hear You Knocking

Democrats in the House and Senate have introduced the Equality Act to extend existing federal anti-discrimination protections in employment, housing, credit, jury selection, and education to include persons on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The measure seems certain to pass in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

Chief Senate sponsor Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has a tougher row to hoe. Among Republicans, only Maine's Susan Collins has signed on to the bill; and one of the Democrats' own, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, has announced that he will vote against the bill. His problem with the bill seems to come from its inclusion of transgender students among those whose rights it would protect.

Manchin had not made his decision known as I was drawing this cartoon Sunday night. Had I chosen to make him the focus of the cartoon, I suppose I would have drawn the other Democrats calling down a coal mine shaft.

As far as Yertle McConnell is concerned, however, when he eventually comes out of his shell, we'll find out whether it is to attach some poison pill amendment (say, protecting the rights of Clockwork Orange "reparation therapists") or to kill the Equality Act outright.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Environmental Stewardship: One More Time

Last month, I explained that the new pastor at my father's church decided to change the title of Dad's column in their newsletter from "Environmental Stewardship" to "Care of God's Creation." As this month's column shows, Dad is getting a bit frustrated.

I was hesitant to post this column, expecting his pastor to suggest he rethink it. But he forwarded to me an email from her that indicates that she is letting him go ahead with this, and let the chips fall, or not, where they may.

For ten years these columns or essays (I’m never sure which they are) appeared under the heading Environmental Stewardship. For the last six months they have been titled Care of God’s Creation. I haven’t heard a single comment about this change from any member of the congregation other than staff. Does this mean that nobody noticed or that the two phrases have no different connotation?

I can’t remember from whom I may have borrowed the phrase Environmental Stewardship, but for me the Stewardship part was from a paraphrase of the first creation story in Genesis 1:26 in which “dominion” was interpreted as “stewardship.”

The notes in the NRSV, the Lutheran Study Bible, state, “Having dominion is understood as care-giving, not exploitation.” In many other parts of the Bible, stewards are persons who act for the landowners and rulers, often in their absence, and are responsible for keeping things running right. Lutherans are very knowledgeable about stewardship of our money, our time and our talents. Here, I use it to mean stewardship of the air, water, soil, flora and fauna, habitat and everything that is connoted by the environment. It certainly was meant to include Care of all this.

On the other hand, and it may seem petty or limiting, I raise the question whether God’s Creation includes all the ways we have messed up the environment. I accept that God somehow created the entire universe, surely not quite in the ways described in Genesis and probably not by pushing the button for the Big Bang. I also accept the Genesis evaluation that “God saw that it was good.”

What I find very hard to accept is that God created the pollution and mess that we see around us and has been so vividly portrayed in the recent UN report, the sixth Global Environment Outlook. I believe that Environmental Stewards should take Care of God’s Creation and the mess that industrial homo sapiens have made of that creation.

Apparently nobody else worries or cares about the title; the important thing is whether anybody has adopted any of the changes in their lives suggested over the past ten plus years in these essays. If not, then there is no point in taking up this space in the newsletter. The ideas and suggestions are seldom, if ever, mine, but I hope I have brought them to you in a different, interesting and compelling fashion and from a Christian layman’s perspective.

For months, I have had no feedback from any member of the congregation, so I have no way of knowing whether anyone has made changes in their environmental awareness and thoughts, their plans or actions stemming from these essays. You can generally find me standing around during the Sunday coffee fellowship and I would love to hear from you. Or you can email me here.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Dip In Road

Trump errand boy Devin Nunes (R-CA, and a co-sponsor of the 2017 "Discouraging Frivolous Lawsuits Act") has decided to sue Twitter over some users making fun at his expense.
What horrible things did these accounts say about Nunes to warrant the judiciary’s intervention? The account named “Devin Nunes’ Mom” receives the most attention in the complaint. Its owner frequently posted caustic remarks about him and his actions toward the Russia investigation. One tweet said that Nunes was unfit to run the House Intelligence Committee, while another joked that he was “voted ‘Most Likely to Commit Treason’ in high school.” Some tweets are indistinguishable from legitimate political criticism. Others are more puerile, implying that Nunes wanted to commit sexual acts with Trump and other top Republicans.
Twitter had already suspended the "Devin Nunes' Mom" account — for impersonating a real person, not for materially damaging Mr. Nunes. How the congresscritter intends to prove real damage is hard to fathom. He's a public figure, which makes him fair game by any interpretation of the concept of free speech, and he volunteered for the damn job.

Mr. Nunes might want to read up on Hustler Magazine Inc. v. Falwell someday. In the meantime, he's pretty much inviting the rest of us to pile on.

Monday, March 18, 2019

This Week's Sneak Peek

I've got a crowd of Democrats in this week's syndicated cartoon, and some of them aren't even running for president!

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Beto Know a Candidate

Installment II of my caricatures of 2020 presidential candidates:

To the best of my knowledge Beto O'Rourke is no relation to the Kennedy clan, but the man looks like he ought to be. I learned the other day that his given name is Robert Francis, exactly the same as Bobby Kennedy, and quickly conceived this parody of Roy Lichtenstein's pop-art portrayal of RFK that appeared on the cover of Time magazine's May 24, 1968 issue.

Lichtenstein's work has been derided as derivative, which makes this caricature doubly so. The large ben-day dots are a leitmotif of Lichtenstein's work, and not here some effort to tie Mr. O'Rourke to the anti-vaxxer movement.

I don't use or have ben-day dot technology, so I had to add each and every one of those blasted dots individually. During the course of which, I had to leave for several hours and returned to find that Photoshop apparently prevents my computer's screen saver and energy saver settings from taking effect.

Happily, I don't have the half-finished drawing burned into my screen.

At any rate, until this week, I had simply assumed that the man's given name was Beto, perhaps being a simplified spelling of a traditional Irish name. The Gaelic spelling would probably have turned out to be Beitgeaughe, but pronounced the same. He was born in 1972, at which time American parents had begun ditching common names like John and Mary in favor of ethnically telling names like Siobhan and Aksel. (If they had WASP heritage, the kids ended up with names like Sunflower and River.)

But I suspect that Beto sharing the name Robert Francis with RFK was no coincidence, and that makes it ethnic enough.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

The Irish Question

"St. Patrick's Day, 1919" by John T. McCutcheon in Chicago Tribune,  March 17, 1919
And where would we be afther goin' this glorious Sláinteback Sathairn but the Emerald Isle?

"Give Her a Front Seat!" by Fred Seibel in Knickerbocker Press, ca. Feb., 1919
When we last checked in on century-old events in Ireland, Sinn Féin had just rejected British promises to grant Ireland home rule on Tuesday in return for drafting Irish lads to fight the Bosch today. Riots and repression followed.
"St. Patrick's Day in the Mornin'" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, March 17, 1919
Today we jump ahead one year to find the Great War over, Britain and its allies victorious. Sinn Féin won a landslide victory in the Irish general election of December, 1918, save in Ulster, where the Irish Unionist Party won most parliamentary seats. Sinn Féin refused to join the British Parliament, instead declaring Irish independence in January and setting up its own unicameral parliament called the Dáil Éireann.
"May Make Somebody Sick" by Sidney Joseph Greene in New York Evening Telegram, Jan. or Feb., 1919
Along with an official declaration of independence and a constitution, one of the first orders of business for the Dáil was publication of a "Message to the Free Nations" demanding that Ireland be allowed to make its case for independence at the Paris Peace Conference. The British response was to appoint Field Marshal John Denton Pinkstone French, 1st Earl of Ypres, as "master of Ireland" with complete authority over the island's government.
"A Gordian Knot" by Grover Page in Nashville Tennesseean, ca. Feb., 1919
British intransigence was inevitable, given Irish revolutionaries' collusion with Germany, rioting on Armistice Day, and the assassination of two Royal Irish Constabulary policemen in an ambush on the same day that independence was declared. A diplomatic solution was not to be had. Increasing tension and sporadic violence would result in two years of guerrilla warfare with Great Britain (the Cogadh na Saoirse, a.k.a. the Black and Tan War).
"And the Cat Came Back" by Archibald Chapin in St. Louis Republic, ca. Feb. 1919
Given President Woodrow Wilson's proclaimed ideals of "self-determination of all peoples," there was considerable sympathy in the U.S. for Irish independence, as shown in this selection of cartoons. Even the American cartoonists who portray the Irish as unready for self-rule conceded that it should come to pass sooner or later.

"He's Going to Keep On Till He Gets Them" by William Hanny in St. Joseph News-Press, ca. Feb., 1919
It would have been interesting to see how an anti-Irish cartoonist such as Thomas Nast might have depicted the Irish fight for home rule. Nast never had a kind word for Irish-Americans, persistently drawing them as apish, violent louts; he was, moreover, virulently anti-Catholic throughout his career. (Nast's cartooning career essentially ended in 1892, and he died of yellow fever while visiting Ecuador in 1902; if he had survived another sixteen years, he would have had to reconcile his German heritage with growing anti-German sentiment in the U.S. during the Great War.)

The great "Ding" Darling seemed at this point to be rather ambivalent about Irish self-rule. In our last cartoon today, he makes a joke playing off the apparent attraction among urban Irish-Americans to law enforcement as a profession, but doesn't present the gentleman's proposal as either good or bad per se.
"...Before It Is Too Late" by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, March 10, 1919
I just don't think the gentleman is quite dressed for the job.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Q Toon: Malaysian Malaise

Malaysian Tourism Minister Datuk Mohamaddin bin Ketapi was in Germany last week for the ITB (Internationale Tourismus-Börse) Berlin tourism fair. Since Malaysian officials have consistently condemned homosexuality, and in January officially barred Israeli delegates to Malaysian sporting and other events, a reporter for Deutsche Welle asked him whether the country was safe for gay and Jewish visitors.
After initially sidestepping the question, the minister was asked again whether gays were welcome and he replied: "I don't think we have anything like that in our country."
Ministers of the southeast Asian country have made other derogatory statements about LGTBI people, including one who told gays they should keep their identities secret.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said homosexuality was part of "Western values." He added: "Don't force it on us."
It is not uncommon for leaders of Islamic countries to claim that, yes, they have no homosexuals. Making a victimless act punishable by flogging, long prison sentences and/or death will tend to make gays and lesbians reluctant to come out to their governmental officials. Those government officials are then free to characterize LGBTQness as a strictly Western phenomenon, like having blond hair or enjoying pumpkin spice lattes.

Sexual variation is well documented in non-white-skinned cultures, not to mention in the animal kingdom, so it's hard to believe that there is a race of humans who for some reason are genetically immune to LGBTQ DNA.

Whispering from behind a curtain in a darkened room while wearing a hoodie, fake nose and glasses, one of Mohamaddin's underlings hastened to correct the impression that LGBTQ and Jewish tourists are unwelcome in the southeast Asian country.
An aide to the minister later told news portal Malaysiakini that the statement was Mr Mohamaddin's personal views although it was in line with the Pakatan Harapan government's stance of not recognising LGBT culture.
Nevertheless, the aide, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "Tourists coming to Malaysia like any other country are welcome regardless of their creed, sexuality, religion or colour.”
Authorities just don't want those Western values rubbing off on the locals.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Winter of '84

As a tribute to Alex Trebek, Winton Smithback Saturday takes a break from cartoons of a century ago and looks instead to a few of my own from 35 years ago. Although Trebek's iteration of Jeopardy! would not begin until October of 1984, these cartoons date from the first three months of the year. And none are in the form of a question.

So, as a tribute to Alex Trebek, this is kind of lame. But indulge me anyway.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan had campaigned heavily against the federal deficit under the Carter administration: the figure that year was $74 billion. By 1984, it had ballooned to $185 billion.

This balancing act cartoon was the final installment of a short-lived running gag I had going. Reagan never returned to the budget balancing act, either in Washington or in my cartoons.

Since then, the Bill Clinton administration managed to pass a handful of balanced budgets, but this year's deficit is estimated to amount to $984 billion.

Australian media baron Rupert Murdoch bought the Chicago Sun-Times from Field Enterprises in 1984. Up to then, the morning tabloid had a liberal reputation, being home to editorial cartoonists Jacob Burck (who died in 1982) and Bill Mauldin, and columnists Roger Simon, Roger Ebert, and Mike Royko. Under the new owner, the Sun Times editorial voice shifted to the right.

His politics notwithstanding, Murdoch was better known at this point for the sensationalism of his Sydney Daily Telegraph, News of the World, the Sun of London, the New York Post and the supermarket tabloid Star.

Murdoch's ownership of the Sun-Times would be brief. He sold the paper in 1986 for $145 million in order to buy Chicago's unaffiliated television station WFLD channel 32 (also from Field Enterprises), and use it to launch his Fox TV network.

The rest, like Yuri Andropov, is history.

Not quite four months after the bombing of the U.S. Marines' barracks in Beirut in which 299 U.S. and French soldiers were killed, President Reagan announced on February 7 that he was pulling our troops out of the Multinational Force in Lebanon. It was not to be called a "retreat," however; officially, our troops were merely being "redeployed." France, Great Britain, and Italy would redeploy their troops by the end of February.

There were some eight serious candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984, three of whom withdrew immediately after the February 28 New Hampshire primary. (I'm not counting the perennial candidate, wacko fascist Lyndon LaRouche, who died just last month.) Colorado Senator Gary Hart came in second in the Iowa caucuses and first in New Hampshire, establishing himself as the media's Flavor of the Month.

Besides editorial cartoons, I was also drawing comic strips for the student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin at Parkside. But I've already posted "The Funny Paper Caper" series in this blog (starting here), so I'm not going to repeat it today.

I close instead with my commentary on the evergreen controversy over allowing prayer in public schools. The new wrinkle in right-wing evangelicals' push at the time was their proposal to carve out time in the school day for a "voluntary moment of silent prayer."

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Q Toon: Nunc Dimittis

Representatives of the worldwide United Methodist Church met in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, and fought over competing resolutions to describe their church's attitude toward LGBTQ clergy and parishioners.

The conservative "Traditional Plan," which strengthened the church's prohibitions on "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from ordination and mandated a year-long defrocking of any clergy who perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples or ordain LGBTQ clergy, passed in a 438-384 vote.

Delegates to the General Conference had earlier rejected a pro-LGBTQ "One Church Plan," which would have left those matters up to the conscience of individual clergy and congregations, by a vote of 374 to 449. A "Simple Plan" submitted by the Queer Clergy Caucus fared just as poorly.

Although many (but by no means all) Methodists in the United States now have liberal attitudes toward LGBTQ clergy and marriage equality, the majority of Methodists in the Third World do not. And it is that second group who are growing. 41% of the delegates were from outside the U.S., 30% from Africa alone.
"The old ladies in the villages, the old men in the villages, the young boys in the towns and villages, are all celebrating that the United Methodist Church has maintained its traditional view of the Bible," says Dr. Jerry Kulah of Liberia, general coordinator of the church's Africa Initiative. "Other denominations all across Africa are celebrating the United Methodist Church. That is the kind of euphoria being expressed right now across Africa."
Some United Methodists in Africa say they hear U.S. and European liberals lecturing to them on what positions they should take on issues of sexuality, family and marriage, and it strikes them as the latest example of a colonialist attitude.
As conservative congregations had threatened to leave the Methodist fold had the "One Church Plan" been adopted, there are now liberal American congregations and clergy (here's another) who no longer feel welcome. The General Assembly obligingly voted to accommodate their exit.
The UMC also voted to pass a disaffiliation petition, often called a “gracious exit” plan, to help the transition for those who felt they could not remain part of the denomination.
Though all UMC church property is deeded to the regional body, under the new legislation, churches with a two-thirds vote among professing members would be allowed to leave with their property after paying any pension liabilities and outstanding financial obligations.
Which is either an example of Christian charity, or the conservatives telling the liberals, "Hey, don't let the door ya on the way out!"

Since this week's syndicated cartoon hinges on a very obscure reference, I'm going to just come right out and tell you that it's a play on words on a 1973 hymn by Brian Wren, "How Can We Name a Love" (written to the much older tune of "This Is My Father's World") included in the United Methodist Hymnal.

You'd have to ask a Methodist whether Methodist congregations ever sing it. I'm Lutheran, and it's not in any of my hymnals.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Toon: To Have and To Hold

Here's a take on Donald Joffrey Trump's flag-hugging that isn't rated R for sexual content.