Thursday, July 30, 2020

Q Toon: Cough, and the World Coughs with You

When the news was reporting that China had completely closed off the city of Wuhan because of some newfangled virus, I wondered what would happen in this country if such a thing ever got out of control here.

When it did get out of control here, I thought everyone would recognize what the Chinese had to go through, so health officials would take charge and everyone would do what we could to avoid having to quarantine entire cities. Surely we would have had this thing under control by sometime in the summer if we all pulled together.

But we have a president who thought he could make the virus magically disappear by Easter or Mother's Day or Independence Day just by wishing it so. After all, he has always had enablers on retainer so that he could wish away his school records, his creditors, his bankruptcies, his porn dates, and his impeachable offenses.

We also have an excess of Cliff Clavenesque antivaxxers, QAnoncompoops, conspiracy fabulists, and Dr. Stella Immanuels, and legions of right-wingers screeching that pulling together is just socialism by another name. The religious right has demanded that its faith-based pseudoscience — creationism, for example — is equally valid as empirical science, and even that it be taught in schools. Flat Earthers are scarcely any more ridiculous.

The lot of them have combined to keep this pandemic spreading like wildfire.

It's almost like it's a conspiracy or something.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Political Cartoons by Chester Gould

Here's a bit of cartooning history I hadn't known before.

Earlier this week, I stumbled across a bunch of political cartoons by Chester Gould, better known as the creator of "Dick Tracy." Sure enough, the Lambiek Comiclopedia reports that Gould drew editorial cartoons for the Tulsa Democrat before moving to Illinois to draw for Hearst's Chicago Evening American.
"Serving His Country" by Chester Gould, July, 1920
By the time these cartoons appeared in the second half of July, 1920, the Tulsa Democrat had been folded into the Tulsa Tribune, which means that Gould, born in 1900, drew his Democrat cartoons as a teenager. Neither of those two Tulsa newspapers appear to be archived on line (a potential loss to history, given the Tribune's culpability in fomenting the 1921 Tulsa race riots), but I found each of these six cartoons widely disseminated to other Oklahoma newspapers: The Tahlequah Arrow Democrat, the Cimmaron Valley Clipper, the Beaver Democrat, the Wapanucka Press, Renfrew's Review in Alva, the Stigler State Sentinel, the Mountain View Times, the Norman Daily Transcript, and the Apache Week's Review.
"The Rubber Stamp Gore Used" by Chester Gould, July, 1920
All six attack incumbent Senator Thomas P. Gore of Oklahoma, who was challenged for reelection to a third term by Congressman Scott Ferris in the August 3 Democratic primary. The "Rubber Stamp" cartoon refers to a congressional resolution Senator Gore and Representative Atkins Jefferson McLemore of Texas introduced in 1914 in an effort to prevent the United States from being drawn into World War I. It would have banned Americans from traveling on armed merchant vessels or ships with contraband. For the most part, that meant British ships like the Lusitania, sunk by German U-boats one year later. Under pressure from President Woodrow Wilson however, both the House and Senate tabled the Gore-McLemore bill.
"Better Watch Out, Old Timer..." by Chester Gould, July, 1920
Gore, who ran for Congress in Mississippi as a Populist before joining the Democratic party and moving to Oklahoma, was elected to the Senate when Oklahoma became a state in 1907. He was blind, and a grandfather of author Gore Vidal. He was one of the first senators to endorse Woodrow Wilson's run for the presidency, in 1911, and was influential in Wilson's first term; but his strong antiwar stance before World War I and his isolationism afterward estranged him from the second term Wilson administration.

The note "Apol. to Knott" under Gould's signature in "Better Watch Out, Old Timer..." probably refers to John Knott of the Dallas News, who must have drawn a similar cartoon.
"That Won't Wash Off" by Chester Gould, July, 1920
Gould's cartoons attack Gore relentlessly for his prewar actions, such as the Senator's opposing military conscription, saying it would create "an army of conscripted slackers." Gore had asked: "Why should we brand the American boy as a conscript without affording him the opportunity to earn the glory of an American volunteer?" In addition to his opposition to the draft, Gore "was one of the earliest and most vigorous sponsors of a constitutional amendment to require a popular referendum on any congressional declaration of war."
"The Accusing Fingers from Flanders Field" by Chester Gould, July, 1920
By some freakish coincidence, the Ferris campaign's main attack against Gore was also over his antiwar statements and legislation. Both candidates complained loudly that the other was attacking him unfairly, while proclaiming that each himself had treated the other with the utmost respect and civility.
"Senator Gore Called Them 'Conscript Slackers'..." by Chester Gould, July, 1920
Given that these cartoons each appeared on the front page of so many Oklahoma newspapers in July, and that I haven't come across any Gould cartoons on any other topic, I have to conclude that the synergy between Gould's cartoons and the Ferris campaign is no coincidence at all. Bolstering my conclusion that Gould was working directly for the Ferris campaign is the Week's Review of Apache, Oklahoma: it ran the "Better Watch Out, Old Timer" cartoon atop its front page on July 23, but with the disclaimer "Political Advertising" beneath it. None of the other newspapers — some of which found reason to run Ferris's portrait on page one every day — ran such a disclaimer with any of these cartoons.
Which is not to say that other newspapers weren't just as brazen in their support of Senator Gore. Newspapers in those days were not the slightest bit shy about trumpeting their political allegiances. You can rest assured that not one of those pro-Gore newspapers ran the Gould cartoons.

Scott Ferris would emerge the victor in the August 3 primary, but then lost to Republican John Harreld in November. Gore won election to the Senate in 1930, but opposed Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs and was ousted again in the 1936 primary.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Q Toon: John Lewis


So many cartoons eulogizing Congressman John Lewis have focused on his work to advance the cause of civil rights for Black Americans. He was also in the vanguard of the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, so I hope you will excuse yet one more drawing of him and that bridge.

Today's cartoon quotes from a column Congressman Lewis wrote in the October 25, 2003 edition of  the Boston Globe, "At a Crossroads on Gay Unions."

The column itself cribs extensively from a floor speech Lewis gave in the House of Representatives against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, way back in 1996:
"Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used to say, of people talking about interracial marriages, I quote: 'Races do not fall in love and get married. Individuals fall in love and get married.' Why don't you want your fellow men and women, your fellow Americans, to be happy? Why do you attack them? Why do you want to destroy the love they hold in their hearts? Why do you want to crush their hopes, their dreams, their loves, their aspirations? ...
I fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color [not] to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation. I've known racism. I've known bigotry. This bill stinks to the same fear, hatred and intolerance."


This is the kind of thing that earned him the sobriquet "The Conscience of the House." LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way since 1996: in spite of Lewis's speech, 118 Democrats joined 224 Republicans in voting for that odious bill. Only 65 Democrats and one Republican voted against it. (Two Democrats voted "present"; 22 Democrats and nine Republicans missed the vote.)

Many state legislators showed the same willingness to knuckle under to antigay bigotry as one state after another passed its own version of DOMA. And that included many legislators who claimed to be straight allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

Lewis ended his column in the Boston Globe on much the same note as his 1996 floor speech:
"Rather than divide and discriminate, let us come together and create one nation. We are all one people. We all live in the American house. We are all the American family."  

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Nothing to CDC Here


You can find all the data right beneath his military academy grades, in the aisle across from his tax returns.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

The Nonpartisan League

In last week's post about the rocky birth of the Farmer-Labor Party in the summer of 1920, I made passing mention of one of the founding groups, the Nonpartisan League (NPL) and promised to expand on them today. Voici.
"Say It with the Ballot, Mr. Farmer" by William C. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Minneapolis, MN, June 7, 1920
Socialist Arthur C. Townley founded the Farmers Nonpartisan Organization League in 1915; the name was usually shortened to Nonpartisan League. The league rallied North Dakota farmers who resented being exploited by bankers and millers in Minneapolis and Chicago. Before long, chapters were established in surrounding states.
"Yes, and We've Seen Certain Interests..." by Wm. C. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls, MN, June 7, 1920
Their official newspaper, the Nonpartisan Leader, was originally published in Fargo, but had moved its offices to Minneapolis by the summer of 1920. Starting out as a weekly journal (biweekly after July 26, 1920), it featured editorial cartoons prominently, often on the front page and always scattered through the inside pages.
"Breaking Family Ties..." by Wm. C. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, ND, September 20, 1917
Starting in 1917, many of these were drawn by William C. Morris, cartoonist for the George Matthew Adams Service and New York Mail. Having come across several of Morris's pro-Republican syndicated cartoons, I was somewhat surprised to find he had drawn cartoons expressly for the Leader, given its strong socialist bent. (Perhaps he was related to Oliver S. Morris, its editor from December, 1916 onward, but I can't prove it either way.)
"Going Down" by Wm. C. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, St. Paul, MN, August 4, 1919
Cartoons Magazine reported on William Morris's career in August, 1916:
William C . Morris, who three years ago was doing cartoons for the Spokane Review, is rapidly making a name for himself in New York. His work in Harper's Weekly was attracting national attention at the time that historic magazine was approaching its finish. Since the demise of Harper's Mr. Morris has been publishing his cartoons in Puck and The Independent. Some of his full-page designs, satires on national and international events, show striking originality and boldness of conception.
"Then — And Now" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls, MN, November 15, 1920
By the way, the resemblance between Uncle Sam and many of these cartoon farmers is hardly coincidental. As we discussed a couple weeks ago, up until 1920 census, the U.S. population was majority rural. Giving Uncle Sam a farmer's features was only fitting.
"His Ten Commandments" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls., MN, July 12, 1920
Last week, I categorized the Republicans as being a conservative party controlled by big-money interests, and that was certainly true of the William McKinley, Henry Cabot Lodge, and Warren Harding wing of the party. Teddy Roosevelt, Bob LaFollette and Hiram Johnson were in the party's progressive wing, more favorable to government control over consumer product safety, environmental protection, and plutocratic excess.
"He Didn't Know It Had Teeth" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, ND, April 27, 1917
Then, as now, Republicans were dominant in North Dakota politics. Further to the left than the Progressives, The Nonpartisan League ran an insurgent campaign in 1916, successfully running its candidates in Republican primaries. League candidates won the governorship and control of the state legislature that year.
"The Clean Sweep in North Dakota" by John M. Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, ND, November 9, 1916
They proceeded to establish state-run agricultural enterprises: the North Dakota Mill and Elevator, the Bank of North Dakota, and a state-owned railroad. The legislature passed a graduated state income tax which distinguished between earned and unearned income; authorized a state hail insurance fund, and established a workman's compensation fund that assessed employers. The League also set up a Home Building Association to aid people in financing and building houses.
"They Lied Living—Now Lie Dead" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls., MN, July 12, 1920
Conservative Republicans established the Independent Voters Association (IVA) in opposition to the Nonpartisan League; apparently, several of the journals they published to rival the Nonpartisan Leader were short-lived.
"The Third Cup" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls, MN, July 19, 1920
For this cartoon of North Dakota Governor Lynn Frazier, I have to wonder if Morris had in mind a 1912 Boardman Robinson cartoon of Teddy Roosevelt scolding a waiter about to serve "nomination" soup to incumbent President Taft, "Bring that over here. When I said I wouldn't take the third cup a little while ago, I only meant I wouldn't take it right on top of the other two."

The text accompanying Morris's cartoon reads, "North Dakota likes Lynn J. Frazier and the people's government, of which, he, as governor, is head. It has rewarded his faithfulness to the farmers' and workers' program with a third nomination, and in November will elect him to a third term, thus assuring administration of the 'New Day' program by one who believes in it."
"It Can't Be Done" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls., MN, July 19, 1920
Although Leader cartoons occasionally included caricatures of specific politicians who were for or against the League, the overwhelming majority of them relied on archetypal representations of farmers, bankers, and "old guard" politicians. Many exude a supreme confidence in the NPL agenda.
"Afraid of Fire" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls, MN, July 19, 1920
The damned souls in Morris's frying pan are labeled usurious banker, crooked politician, profiteer and food gambler.
"Never Too Late to Mend" by Wm. Morris in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls, MN, July 19, 1920
Many of the cartoons are accompanied by a paragraph of text, just in case the paper's readers might have missed the cartoonist's point. The explanatory note for the above cartoon read: "It's never too late to organize, but the sooner it is done, the sooner farmers of other states will have state-owned industries like North Dakota's, including flour mills, terminal elevators, a rural credits bank and marketing reforms."
"We've Carried You Just About Far Enough" by McCoy in Nonpartisan Leader, December 15, 1915
The Leader had a number of other regular cartoonists at various times, some very amateurish, but others such as this McCoy fellow showed some flair. Sadly, I have not dug up any background information on Mr. McCoy, who was no longer drawing for the Leader by the time it started including a "Drawn expressly for the Leader by [name]" credit line under its cartoons in 1918.
Uncaptioned cartoon by John M. Baer in Plumb Plan League Labor, by June 7, 1920
The cartoonist most closely associated with the Nonpartisan Leader was John M. Baer, who drew for the Leader from its first issue and for its affiliated daily Fargo Courier-News. 
"Fired" by John Baer on the cover of the first edition of Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, ND, Sept. 23, 1915
The same issue of Cartoons Magazine I quoted above also reported on Baer's cartoon career:
J.M. Baer, cartoonist for Jim Jam Jems and for three years postmaster at Beach, N.D., has resigned his official position and will devote his entire time to cartooning. He has gone to Fargo to work for the Nonpartisan Leader, which is not only the largest paper in the state, but is owned by an organization of farmers. His cartoons on local politics have been very influential.
"Baer Is Running for Congress" by Bart O. Foss in St. Paul Daily News by July 5, 1917. Foss was another frequent contributor to the Nonpartisan Leader early on.
Baer was elected to Congress on the Nonpartisan League ticket in August, 1917 to fill the vacancy created by the death of Henry T. Helgesen (Republican). By this time, Cartoons Magazine reports that "His cartoons are appearing daily in Hearst's New York Journal and Chicago American," and that one had been commended in the Chicago Tribune. Baer stopped cartooning right after he took the new job (which may be why the Leader added Morris just then), but only very briefly.
"Gee! But It Is Lonesome Here..." by Congressman John Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Fargo, ND, Sept. 6, 1917
After losing reelection to a second full term in 1920, He resumed his career as full-time cartoonist and journalist for the Nonpartisan Leader and Labor, the newspaper of the National Railroad Union's "Plumb Plan League."
"Won't Leave Him Alone" by John Baer in Nonpartisan Leader, Mpls, MN, October 17, 1921
The 1920's were not good to the Nonpartisan League. Falling commodities prices hit farmers and the North Dakota government programs set up to help them hard; the bankers so vilified by the Nonpartisan League were not particularly inclined to save the day.
"Hooray, We Won..." by Wm. C. Morris in National Leader, Mpls., MN, December 26, 1921
Along with the state Attorney General and Commissioner of Agriculture, Governor Frazier was  recalled from office in 1921, giving him the distinction of being one of only two U.S. Governors removed from office that way. (The other was Democrat Gray Davis of California, in 2003.) He would then, however, be elected Senator the next year, serving until 1941.

In November, 1921, NPL founder Arthur Townley exhausted his appeals to overturn a conviction for "conspiracy to discourage enlistments" during World War I and began serving a 90-day jail sentence.
"The Highest Court" by John Baer for National Leader, Minneapolis, MN., November 14, 1921
Meanwhile, the Nonpartisan Leader ran a front-page editorial warning that farmers who didn't pay their "dues" would not continue to receive the paper (not a good omen), then changed its name to The National Leader with the November 14, 1921 edition. That same year, the Fargo Forum reported that the Fargo Courier-News had suspended publication, a report vigorously denied by the Courier-News. Its publisher would end up selling off the Courier-News and suspending publication of the National Leader — publishing monthly since May, 1922 — with the July, 1923 edition. Townley and Baer were contributors to the Leader right up to the end; the last of Morris's Leader cartoons that I know of was in the September, 1922 issue.
"He's Workin' Aginst Us" by Wm. Morris in National Leader, Mpls, MN, September, 1922
The Nonpartisan League itself continued on, but became increasingly estranged from the state Republican Party. In the 1950's, its members merged with the Democratic Party of North Dakota, which officially remains the North Dakota Democratic-Nonpartisan League Party, ("D-NPL").

Friday, July 17, 2020

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Q Toon: Something in the Air

For when scientific data, shouting matches, and public shaming aren't working...
Give it a try; you'll find that it's more effective than nagging.

Also available in industrial strength!

Monday, July 13, 2020

This Week's Sneak Peek


So you're tired of wearing a mask everywhere?

I'm tired of drawing them, too. You know how challenging it is to draw a character's expression when I can't draw their mouth?

My characters are going to have to start talking in emojis.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Third Party Poopers

For this week's episode of S̄ī̀ s̄ib pædback Saturday, let's take a look at third-party options in the 1920 presidential election for those voters disenchanted with the choice between the pair of Buckeyes heading up the major party tickets.
"A Question" by Burt Thomas in Detroit News, June, 1920
For the fifth time, the Socialist Party of America nominated as its presidential candidate International Workers of the World founder Eugene V. Debs. Burt Thomas's cartoon, above, was drawn before the Democratic National Convention, when red-baiting Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was still in the running for that party's presidential nomination.
"There Are Worse Places Than a Front Porch" by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, October 11, 1920
Debs would garner 913,664 votes in November, even though he was stuck in the Moundsville Federal Penitentiary in West Virginia, serving a ten-year sentence for sedition on account of antiwar passages in a speech he had given in Canton, Ohio in 1917. Berryman here compares Debs's campaign with the lackadaisical "front porch" campaign of Warren Harding.
"Now It's Triplets" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, July, 2020
After they had been turned down by William Jennings Bryan, The Prohibition Party nominated Ohio minister Aaron Sherman Watkins as its presidential nominee. Watkins thus was the third Buckeye on those November ballots where the Prohibition Party appeared.

With Prohibition already the law of the land, enshrined in the Constitution and confirmed by the Supreme Court, Watkins came in fifth in November with 189,339 votes, the poorest showing for the Prohibition party since 1884.
"The Common Nurse" by Winsor McCay in New York American, July, 1920
As early as January 1919, a group calling itself the Committee of 48 (the name referred to the number of states then in the Union) began organizing toward nominating a leftist candidate for president. The Republicans were committed to a conservative agenda of high tariffs on imports and reducing taxes on the rich; yet while the Democratic platform promised to continue liberal policies of President Wilson's administration, they too were beholden to moneyed interests. "Our country is menaced," the Committee of 48 announced, "by the growing power of an autocratic and reactionary minority at home."
"All Aboard" by John Knott in Dallas News, July, 1920
The committee's manifesto, "Revolution or Reconstruction? A Call to Arms" vowed, "It is the purpose of the Committee of Forty-eight to summon from all parts of the country the leaders of its liberal thought and of its forward-looking citizens, to meet in conference. We hope that out of this assemblage of the scattered forces of Americanism will come a flexible statement of principles and methods that will permit effective cooperation with organized Labor and Agricultural workers in the tasks of social reconstruction."
"Look Who's Here" by Bob Satterfield with Edmund Vance Cooke for NEA, July, 1920
A list of those liberal policies included public ownership of transportation, stock yards, grain elevators, public utilities, coal, oil, natural gas, mineral deposits, timber, and water works. The "Forty-eighters" platform called for "Equal economic, political, and legal rights for all, irrespective of sex or color. The immediate and absolute restoration of free speech, free press, peaceable assembly, and all civil rights guaranteed by the Constitution."
"The New Party" by Harry Westerman in Ohio State Journal, July, 1920
Prominent leaders of the group were J.A.H. Hopkins and attorney Dudley Field Malone; other members of note were historian Will Durant and Rush Limbaugh Sr., grandfather of the conservative radio asshole.
"Plenty of Assistant Cooks" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, July, 1920
The Forty-Eighters convened in Chicago on July 10 with the aim of merging with the Labor Party convention scheduled there on the twelfth. They were joined by Single Tax advocates, who pushed for raising public revenue from land and privileges rather than from income and sales. Other participants included the Northwest Farmers' National Council, the Triple Alliance of the Northwest, the Consumers' League, and the socialist Non-Partisan League (off on a tangent about which I would like to go next Saturday. Stay tuned I hope you will).
"Now All Together for Victory" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, July 12, 1920
The merger got off to a smooth enough start. On July 13, the Forty-Eighters, Non-Partisans, and Single Taxers voted to merge with the Labor Party. Delegates at the Labor Party convention voted overwhelmingly to accept them in, and the Farmer-Labor Party was born.
"The Frog's Banquet..." by Jay N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, July 16, 1920
But the harmony was short-lived once everyone sat down to work out a party platform. Derided by Illinois Federation of Labor president John Walker as "plutocratic philanthropists, lawyers and professional men who endeavor to solve the problems of the working people without themselves being members of that class," the leadership of the Forty-Eighters found themselves outnumbered by the more radical elements of the new party; even its name was a rejection of Committee of 48 desires.
"Not Conservative Enough for Me" by Clifford Berryman in Washington Evening Star, July 17, 1920
The very next day, the Single Taxers pulled out from the new party over what appeared to be the likelihood of it nominating Bob LaFollette for president, and the rejection of a single tax plank in the party platform. Adopting their own single-plank platform, the Single Taxers nominated Robert Macauley of Philadelphia instead. (He, and running mate Richard Barnum of — wait for it — Ohio would get a measly 5,750 votes in November. By comparison, even American Party candidate James Ferguson, who was on the ballot only in Texas, got 47,968.)

The remaining Farmer-Labor delegates, however, insisted on a party platform LaFollette could not accept: in favor of the League of Nations, Irish independence, recognition of Soviet Russia, and nationalization of all industry and raw materials. He declared that he would not be their candidate. With that, the Forty-Eighters, save for a few western members, also quit the party.
"Getting Nowhere" by John H. Cassell in New York Evening World, by July 23, 1920
John Cassel here makes reference to the America's Cup race underway at the time.

Assessing the damage and answering IFL president Walker, LaFollette confidante Gilbert Roe told the press, "There isn't a more intolerant intellectual in this country than the labor leader is. You must understand you are not going to dictate to the intellectuals any more than the intellectuals are going to dictate to you."

The Forty-Eighters recognized that running their own candidate for President was pointless, but they lent their support to a handful of successful midwestern candidates in 1922 and LaFollette's 1924 presidential candidacy on the Progressive Party ticket.
"The Third Party" by Edward Gale in Los Angeles Times, July/August, 1920
Meanwhile, the Farmer-Labor party drafted Utah lawyer Parley P. Christensen as its standard bearer in the 1920 election, and he pulled a fairly respectable 265,398 votes in November. Would you like to guess which state his running mate was from?