Saturday, May 28, 2022
In last Saturday's cavalcade of cartoons about kiddies in May 1922, I left off with this one, which I have assumed in spite of the lack of a signature, to be the work of Charles H. "Bill" Sykes, the daily editorial cartoonist at the Philadelphia Evening Ledger.
|"Whoa, Bill" by Charles "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, May 24, 1922|
So we start off today's thrilling episode with a discussion of whether or not the Harding administration would recognize the communist government of Russia five years after the Revolution. (Whether the Russian Civil War was over yet depends whom you ask.)
While it was a minority opinion, Senator William Borah (R-ID) wasn't the only one urging the U.S. to recognize Lenin's government in Moscow. Cartoonists who saw commercial opportunity in trade with Russia even before its trade agreement with Germany hammered out at Rapallo included Winsor McCay (which set him apart from the hardline isolationists at Hearst's Star Publishing) plus a smattering of leftists such as Callaghan.
|"What If It Isn't a 'Vacuum'" by Michael Callaghan in Minneapolis Daily Star, May 5, 1922|
The Harding administration line, however, was that Soviet Russia was, in Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes's words in a letter to Samuel Gompers, "an economic vacuum."
|"He'll Have to Quiet Down" by Charles Kuhn in Indianapolis News, May 19, 1922|
Most Americans wanted nothing to do with communists, anarchists, or any of the other hot-headed bombers of recent memory, economic vacuum or not. As illustrated by Callaghan, however, Europeans had other considerations to weigh.
|"The End of the Rainbow" by Ted Brown in Chicago Daily News, by May 23, 1922|
Prime Minister David Lloyd George was very interested in reintegrating Russia into the European community. Four commissions were set up at Genoa to figure out how to lend Russia money to aid its recovery from the German invasion, the communist revolution, and its Civil War.
But Russia was deep in debt to other European countries, primarily France and Belgium, which demanded restitution for properties confiscated by the Bolsheviks. Ted Brown's cartoon sums up the communiqué spelling out the Genoa Convention's terms for Russian aid, which was rejected by Lenin's government as insulting and "stupid."
|"Adding Fuel to the Fire" by Gustavo Bronstrup in San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 1922|
Further complicating matters, the issue of Russian oil loomed as large in European consideration then as it has in light of Putin's invasion of Ukraine 100 years later.
|"Traces of Oil" by Nelson Harding in Brooklyn Daily Eagle, May 18, 1922|
I get tired of editorial cartoons that portray some issue as a question mark; it's like journalism's hackneyed cliché (is there any other kind?) of concluding, "Time will tell." But I'll give Nelson Harding's cartoon a pass, because the oil slick reference works better than most.
|"The Spree Befire the Headache" by Winsor McCay for Star Company, ca. May 13, 1922|
The Genoa Conference continued to unravel. At France's insistence, Germany was booted out of the Genoa negotiations on account of Germany's separate peace deal with Russia. By mid-May, the French delegates announced, seconded by Poland and Romania, that there was no point in continuing negotiations at all.
|"Not to Be Entrapped Again" by Harry Murphy for Star Company, ca. May 15, 1922|
So France withdrew from the conference, followed by Belgium. The conference collapsed on May 19.
And the stage was set for the next big war.
Thursday, May 26, 2022
The Party of Small Government is in charge in Idaho, where the statehouse passed a bill in March to criminalize medical care for transgender youth.
In each of these states, the bills would either criminalize health care providers who provide gender-affirming care to minors or subject them to discipline from state licensing boards. Bills in ten states would also allow individuals to file civil suits for damages against medical providers who violate these laws. Bills in six states provide penalties for parents who facilitate minors’ access to gender-affirming medical care.
About half of these bills would further limit access to gender-affirming care for transgender youth by barring certain insurance providers from offering coverage for gender-affirming care, by placing restrictions on the use of state funds or state facilities to provide this care, or by excluding gender-affirming care as a tax-deductible health care expense. Bills in seven states would prohibit certain health insurance plans from offering coverage for gender-affirming care. In eight states, bills would prohibit the use of state funds for gender-affirming care or more broadly prohibit distribution of state funds to any organization or individual that provides gender-affirming care to minors, seemingly regardless of what the funding is used for. In five states, bills would prohibit gender-affirming care by or in government-owned or operated facilities, and by individual providers employed by government entities. In four states, bills would exclude gender-affirming care as a tax-deductible health care expense.
Finally, a bill proposed in Missouri would attempt to limit access to gender-affirming care by classifying it as child abuse similar to the order recently issued in Texas.
Republicans are simultaneously charging full speed ahead with their assault on reproductive rights. 22 states are set to criminalize abortion providers and/or patients, often with no exception for rape, incest, or any consideration of the health of the mother.
An Alabama OB-GYN writing in Slate last week warned that her experience, seeing doctors refuse to treat women suffering a miscarriage for fear of being charged with a crime, will go nationwide as soon as Samuel Alito's draft ruling becomes the Law Of The Land.
...I saw a patient in active miscarriage (bleeding, passing clots, cramping) who had just had an office visit with her primary physician. She was forced to wait more than 48 hours in order to get the results of her bloodwork. Doctors will sometimes check a patient’s levels of HCG, or human chorionic gonadotropin, to help distinguish miscarriages from ongoing pregnancies or ectopic pregnancies. I could not understand why someone with all of the clinical signs of a miscarriage in progress was required to wait for much-needed intervention, all the while bleeding and cramping and suffering.
I was angry that the patient’s doctor did not just provide the standard medical treatment for a miscarriage: surgically removing the contents of her uterus, which would stop her pain and bleeding. Then I saw a different patient who was actively miscarrying, and a light bulb clicked on: The doctors were afraid of being attacked by the state of Alabama.
Suffice it to say that Red State women who can afford plane fare to Illinois or Ireland, or perhaps a zealous malpractice attorney, won't be faced with this grim scenario. But for the woman barely making ends within shouting distance of each other at a minimum wage job, or the girl still living under the roof of her rapist... well, we know which lives matter to the GOP, and it isn't yours.
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
100 years ago this month in America:
|"Some Things You Can't Buy Without a Doctor's Prescription" by J.N. "Ding" Darling in New York Tribune, May 31, 1922|
Update: This cartoon originally appeared in the Des Moines Register on May 29, 1922.
Tuesday, May 24, 2022
Monday, May 23, 2022
I have to apologize for not being terribly prompt in approving comments.
I'm not happy with having to approve comments here, but the alternative would be to have the comments section taken over by spambots posting bullshit miracle cures and suspicious commercial opportunities, mostly in languages with lots and lots of umlauts.
I suppose I could have alerts sent to my phone whenever someone submits a comment. But I'm still trying to figure out how to cut off the spam texts thanks to whoever spoofed my number last month.
Saturday, May 21, 2022
I have no particular reason for the subject of today's Graphical History Tour other than I happened to find a few editorial cartoons from May, 1922, that featured children. That, and it has been a terribly serious May of 2022, and I'm just not in the mood for anything terribly serious on a Saturday.
|"No Place to Go" by Clifford Berryman in Washington (DC) Evening Star, May 5, 1922|
Once upon a time, if you were a city kid with time to go play outside, your only real option might be to play in the street. (I've noted before the phenomenon of fenced properties to keep the children out of the yard.) But the streets, once public spaces, had been taken over as the exclusive property of the automobile; and street baseball and Great Gatsby driving did not mix well.
Apparently, Pierre Charles l'Enfant had not provided for playgrounds when he designed Washington DC. By 1907, The need for spaces for children to play was recognized by President Theodore Roosevelt:
"City streets are unsatisfactory playgrounds for children because of the danger, because most good games are against the law, because they are too hot in summer, and because in crowded sections of the city they are apt to be schools of crime. Neither do small back yards nor ornamental grass plots meet the needs of any but the very small children. Older children who would play vigorous games must have places especially set aside for them; and, since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools. This means that they must be distributed over the cities in such a way as to be within walking distance of every boy and girl, as most children can not afford to pay carfare."
Yet, here we were, 15 years later, and Clifford Berryman still accused the City Fathers of ignoring the children.
|"According to Gamaliel" by Roy James in St. Louis Star, May 7, 1922|
Roy James accuses President Harding of ignoring the children on an entirely different issue. (And proves that this misinterpretation of Matthew 19:14 is older than any cartoonist alive today. At least he recognized the need to add punctuation to change the meaning.)
Wives and children of prisoners convicted of wartime offenses — primarily pacifists, Wobblies, and socialists arrested under the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918 — picketed the White House, Senate, and Justice Department in May, 2022. The children "crusaders," as they were called, carried signs reading "I never saw my daddy," "Free all political prisoners," and "Is free speech a crime?"
The Harding administration responded that while the President might sympathize with children deprived of their fathers, no "program of picketing or parading [should] ever influence the opinion of the executive."
|"A Strategically Located Remnant" by Roy James in St. Louis Star, May 17, 1922|
Another cartoon from Roy James illustrates the difficulty in passing legislation to ban child labor — like reckless driving, at issue for several years at this point — through the Congress and courts. Another parallel issue here is that of "states rights," the refuge of scoundrels defending child labor, later segregation, and now control over women's reproductive rights.
Whenever someone brings up "states rights," you can rest assured that they come at the expense of the individual.
|"Whoa, Bill" by Charles H. "Bill" Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, May 24, 1922|
Here we see California's Republican Senator William Borah proposing that the U.S. formally recognize the Soviet Union as the legitimate —
Er, hold on a minute.
That's not a cartoon about children. It just depicts a grown man as one.
I guess it doesn't actually belong in this post.
|"Is Your Child Normal?" by Gustavo Bronstrup in San Francisco Chronicle, May 8, 1922|
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Brittney Griner's trial has been delayed by another month, so I have taken the occasion to draw a reminder, amid all the war, gun violence, and baby formula shortages, that the WNBA star and Olympic medalist is still in a Russian prison. She has missed the May 6 opening of the WNBA season, and given how the Russian judicial system operates, stands to miss several more seasons.
Griner has been awaiting trial since February, accused of having a vape canister with hashish oil in her carry-on luggage when she arrived at the Moscow airport. When not playing for the Phoenix Mercury, has played on a Russian Premier League women's basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg, since 2014. (WNBA players are not paid as handsomely as their NBA counterparts, so many of them play for European teams in the off-season.)
Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department began dealing with her case through its Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, labeling her case as one of "wrongful" detention. The designation means that we are no longer patiently waiting for her legal case to play out in court.
Russian media have suggested that their government might offer a prisoner swap of Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, held since 2012 in U.S. Penitentiary, Marion, in Illinois. If that sounds like an uneven trade, it is; but the U.S. isn't currently holding any Russian Olympians in our prison system.
What is a Russian lawyer supposed to look like in a cartoon these days?
There was a time when one would just draw a scarfaced apparatchik in an ushanka and pin-striped suit. While that image would still work if the character were a member of the politburo or Russian FSB, it seems to me that a Russian defense attorney would be someone at the beginning of his or her career, perhaps juggling a couple dozen clients at once.
Like the Miranda Rights attorney you get in the U.S. if you cannot afford one.
Those of us in the Entertainment Biz typically let you, the Entertained, know a character is a foreigner by tossing in a word or two from the foreign language into the dialogue — sí, señorita; non, monsieur; jawohl, mein Herr — no matter how fluent in English the character is otherwise. Alas, the lawyer in today's cartoon had no reason to say дa or нет, and it turns out that there is no Russian translation of "Ms." (Russian, moreover, simply transliterates Mr., Mrs., and Miss from English.)
I suppose I could have printed his dialogue with backwards И's and Я's — except that Ms. Griner's name includes both an N and two R's, and doing so would have been equally confusing.You might, however, try reading his dialogue with a Boris And Natasha accent.
Monday, May 16, 2022
It's never a good sign when there are too many things an editorial cartoonist should be drawing about right away. Or when Last Week Tonight with Jon Oliver has to start with a card explaining when the episode was taped, because it always means that something terrible has happened since then.
Saturday, May 14, 2022
With the Supreme Court poised to eviscerate Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks, this week's Graphical History Tour dredges up a few of my cartoons on the topic over the years.
Just a teenager in 1973, I didn't draw any cartoons about the 7-2 Supreme Court ruling at the time. I don't recall it being a topic of conversation in my home, school, or church back then.
Nor do I have any examples of cartoons the professional editorial cartoonists drew about the ruling. I can't rule out the possibility that some of them drew their reactions to it, particularly conservatives such as Tom Curtis, Don Hesse, or Charles Brooks. The ruling was big news, and was the lead story in afternoon papers; but for most inkslingers, it was quickly overshadowed by the Paris Peace Accord ending U.S. participation in the War in Vietnam, and the death of former President Lyndon Johnson, both of which happened that same week (in LBJ's case, the same day — see yesterday's post).
I have a number of editorial cartooning books published in the mid 1970's, and Jerry Robinson's The 1970s: Best Political Cartoons of the Decade, and none of their editors included any cartoons about Roe v. Wade from 1973. Perhaps Charles Brooks approved one or two submitted for his Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year volume for 1973, but that book isn't in my collection.
|in UWM Post, Milwaukee Wis., April, 1989|
One reason that the Court's ruling failed to settle the matter is that the two sides address the issue in mutually exclusive terms. If you believe that a zygote is a living human being, then abortion is murder. If you believe that a woman should have control of her own body, then the DNA of those cells is moot.
At first, the principal actors in the national debate were the women's rights movement (and this may or may not have been my earliest cartoon on the topic of abortion rights)...
|in Manitou Messenger, Northfield Minn., April 30, 1981|
...and on the other side, fundamentalist Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church.
|in UW Parkside Ranger, Somers Wis., Nov. 24, 1982|
As far as we cartoonists have been concerned, the pro-Roe side has relied on images of wire coat hangers, pregnant women considerably further along than the typical abortion patient, and the back-alley abortionists from back before the Court decriminalized the procedure.
|in UWM Post, Milwaukee Wis., Sept. 19, 1991|
A favorite theme among anti-abortion cartoonists has been the swarm of toddler-sized angels in heaven to represent the zillions of innocents who somehow evaded that pesky baptism requirement to get in. I haven't drawn any such cartoon, but I have considered what a heaven teeming with the unborn might actually be like.
|Q Syndicate, June, 2019|
But seriously, folks.
Over the years, the abortion divide has cleaved along party lines. Anti-abortion Democrats stuck with the party just long enough to thwart Bill Clinton's health care reform. Meanwhile, pro-choice Republicans quickly found themselves reduced to being, well, Susan Collins.
|in Journal Times, Racine Wis., May, 1990|
The "pro-life" movement had become a significant force in the Republican party by 1990, but Republican politicians, such as Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson, could still find it advantageous to maintain some slight distance from the movement's more absolutist positions. The captain of the ship in my cartoon is Randall Terry, the most prominent anti-abortion spokesman of the day, who opposes not only abortion in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother, but also all forms of birth control.
Now, those absolutist positions are in the mainstream of anti-abortion movement. From the Washington Post today:
“What we are calling for is a total ban, no exceptions,” Matt Sande, legislative director of Pro-Life Wisconsin, said in an interview. “We don’t think abortion is ever necessary to save the life of the mother.”
|in UWM Post, Milwaukee Wis., Sept. 19, 1991|
The grand plan for the anti-abortion movement has always been to take over the Supreme Court; but while the Republican Party platform has consistently called for stocking the courts with anti-abortion judges, their appointees have repeatedly taken the position that they must not address the reason they were nominated. Clarence Thomas told the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearings on his nomination to the Court that he couldn't possibly express his opinions on a woman's right to choose because “I think it would undermine my ability to sit in an impartial way on an important case like that."
She's a footnote to history now, but it's instructive to remember George W. Bush's nomination of White House Counsel and longtime friend Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court following the retirement of Sandra Day O'Connor and death of Chief Justice William Rehnquist. With GOP Senators in the majority, she was forced to withdraw herself from consideration, not so much because of the appearance of cronyism or her lack of judicial experience, but because Republicans couldn't be sure whether her evasive answers on abortion rights were meant to hide anti-abortion intent or that she genuinely hadn't prejudged the issue.
So she was replaced by Samuel Alito, whose belief in overturning Roe v. Wade was well-known. He nevertheless dismissed his earlier writings, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee: “Today if the issue were to come before me, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed and the issue were to come before me, the first question would be the question that we’ve been discussing, and that’s the issue of stare decisis. And if the analysis were to get beyond that point, then I would approach the question with an open mind, and I would listen to the arguments that were made."
Each of Donald Joffrey Trump's nominees to the Court also expressed deference to stare decisis that promptly vanished when an opportunity to overturn Roe v. Wade landed on their docket.
Neil Gorsuch: “I would tell you that Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It has been reaffirmed. The reliance interest considerations are important there, and all of the other factors that go into analyzing precedent have to be considered. It is a precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court. It was reaffirmed in Casey in 1992 and in several other cases. So a good judge will consider it as precedent of the U.S. Supreme Court worthy as treatment of precedent like any other.”
Brett Kavanaugh: “As a judge, it is an important precedent of the Supreme Court. By ‘it,’
I mean Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. They have been
reaffirmed many times. Casey is precedent on precedent, which itself is
an important factor to remember."
|Q Syndicate, Sept. 2018|
If Justice Alito's draft opinion is to be believed, the Court's ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has no bearing on other starry decided cases involving personal liberties. "Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion," Alito wrote.
Ahem. If the clerk would please read the record...
|Q Syndicate, Nov. 2020|
Friday, May 13, 2022
Wednesday, May 11, 2022
After 49 years of promising their voters to appoint justices to the Supreme Court for the express purpose of overturning Roe v. Wade — and the kabuki theater of those appointees testifying to Senate Judiciary Commitees that honest pinky-swear cross-my-heart they carried no such agenda —Republicans are finally getting their wish.
Unless you've just recovered from a coma, you already know about that Justice Samuel Alito's draft opinion eviscerating Roe v. Wade was leaked to Politico, and you probably know that one of the main points of his opinion is that abortion rights (or the prohibition of them) is a matter to be decided between a woman and her statehouse, governor, Congress, President... anyone "from the government and I'm here to help."
Effective abortion bans are set to snap into place in 26 states the instant the Court's ruling is handed down. Some have been passed recently or will be soon; in other states, old laws voided by the Court's 1973 ruling (such as Wisconsin's 1849 law) will arise from their graves.
Just about all of these abortion bans, old and new, presuppose that women who seek abortions are unprincipled whores likely to wait right up until moments before going into labor to abort their unwanted fetus instead. That they deserve for each and every sexual act to result in nine months of hard labor.
I know from the experience of someone close to me that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is never easy, and sometimes the baby was very much wanted. If I had been in her place and had been told to go home and wait to miscarry, I would have reached the same decision she did.
If you're a woman or girl living in a state where Republicans do not exercise a stranglehold on your legislature, chances are you will get to keep the right to determine your own child-bearing decisions — at least as long as there's a Democrat in the White House. But anywhere else, your chances are awfully remote, and largely thanks to Court decisions made along the way with this day in mind.
Republicans took advantage of their state legislative wins in 2010 to cement their momentary majorities into permanent ones through the redistricting process and erecting barriers against voters apt to vote for Democrats — and Republican judges have backed them up. Right-wing activists regularly flood the airwaves in election years to promote anti-abortion candidates — and again, Republican judges (many of them having been themselves beneficiaries of those floods) have backed them up.
Federally, Republicans use the free and easy filibuster rules in the Senate to block any and all Democratic legislation — and you can bet that if there are 51 of them in the Senate next year, Mitch McConnell will get rid of the filibuster to pass a total nation-wide ban on abortion. Even if the Roman Catholic in the Oval Office today vetoes it, the GOP retains its numerical advantage in the electoral college in 2024 that we saw in 2000 and 2016.
If the immediate future for women's reproductive rights looks bleak now, so too did the prospects of the anti-abortion movement in 1973. But they kept working toward Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization with unrelenting, calculated determination, and here we are.
Can the other side match that effort — even if it takes another half-century?
Monday, May 9, 2022
Saturday, May 7, 2022
To start this week's Graphical History Tour, here's an illustration I drew for a local church thirty years ago this month.
|"One in the Spirit," May, 1992|
The Gospel for the seventh Sunday of Easter is always Jesus' prayer that his followers may always be as one. My idea for this illustration was a collage of faces representing a variety of ages and ethnicities.
The old woman in upper center was modeled after my grandmother. There aren't many photographs of her smiling, but she was meeting her great-grandson for the first (and only) time in the one I used.
The other people in the drawing were based on photos in magazines; two of them were from news photos taken during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
I was never quite satisfied with the young man at the lower left, having made some changes to his appearance from the real person. I would make a few changes to him over the years as the drawing got re-used; this is the original version.
|"Assume the Position" in UW-M Post, Milwaukee Wis., May 7, 1992|
As for drawing editorial cartoons about the riots, I only drew one. The uprising began on April 29, 1992, after I had drawn the cartoon for the April 30 edition of the UW-M Post. The Post of May 4 didn't have an editorial page, and the May 7 issue was the last of the school year.
|"The Line We Bought..." in Journal Times, May 26, 1992|
The Journal Times preferred my cartoons to concentrate on state and local issues, or at least local angles on wider issues. But the editor did let me get away with this one about H. Ross Perot's coy responses about how he intended to achieve his #1 policy position of balancing the federal budget (at a $290 billion deficit, or 4.5% of GDP in 1992).
Since it turns out that I don't have a lot of cartoons to show from May of 1992, and I'd rather not close this post out with a discussion of the ups and downs of the federal deficit, here's one I've always liked from ten Mays later, as power company Wisconsin Electric was trotting out its new moniker:
|"You Used to Know We Energies as Wisconsin Electric" in Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, May 31, 2002|
Friday, May 6, 2022
I finally got around this week to commending Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) for rising to the defense of LGBTQ+ youth last month. Then somebody leaked Samuel Alito's
screed draft opinion rejecting women's reproductive rights, and I quickly churned out a cartoon in response to that, putting this one again on the back burner.
Well, here it is at long last.
McMorrow's floor speech, recounted in her Twitter thread shortly afterward, came in response to a fundraising email from fellow State Senator Lana Theis (R-Brighton) in which Theis accused McMorrow of "grooming and sexualizing children" for the evil LGBTQ conspiracy.
It might have been a simple thing to draw Sen. Theis as the other person in my cartoon, but this "groomer" label issue is so much bigger than one obscure Republican from Brighton, Michigan. The label has been embraced and bandied about by the entire fascist wing of the Republican party and their propagandists in mass and social media.
Daily Cartoonist columnist Mike Peterson came up with the observation that "groomer" is the right-wingers' new "n―― lover." I have to agree; and it would make for a powerful cartoon if there were any way to make the point without actually using that word.
Instead, I settled on picking out a few quotations from Sen. McMorrow's speech, and creating a foil as the opposition's Picture of Dorian Gray. I regret having to leave out so much of her speech, such as her describing herself as a "straight, White, Christian, suburban mom," instilled by her mother with a belief that faith is "about recognizing our privilege and blessings and doing what we could to be of service to others, especially people who were marginalized, targeted, who had less... often unfairly."
It ain't easy coming up with a cartoon saying "Good job!" in any original way; Michigan cartoonist John Auchter settled for quoting the last sentence of her speech, adding himself in the corner offering only, "What more needs to be said?"
What more, indeed.