Monday, November 20, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

Where's Debbie Downer when you need your happiness punctured by somebody who can't keep a straight face?

Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Italian Front

Saltareback Saturday continues our tutorial on World War I. In my opinion, the War to End All Wars gets short shrift in American history lessons, considering how pivotal it was in revealing European monarchies as sclerotic and dysfunctional. The Italian campaign of that war is ignored all the moreso; but I've married into an Italian-American family and been fascinated by the history of the place during visits to the Old Country. So indulge me a little, would you?
"Clouds That Will Pass" by Rollin Kirby in New York World, November, 1917
Russia's withdrawal from the war had allowed Germany to come to Austria's aid in the Battles of Isonzo. Greatly outnumbered as a result of this turn of events, Italian forces surrendered the line at the Tagliamento River and retreated to the Piave. Austro-German forces employing chemical weapons captured the highlands of Asiago and the Brenta valley, pressing toward the Venetian plains.

As far as some Germans were concerned, this was just desserts for Italy's having deserted the Triple Alliance when war broke out in the summer of 1914 and subsequently having declared war on its erstwhile allies in May of 1915.
"Vittorio der Meineidige" by Olaf L. Gulbransson in Simplicissimus, Munich, November 20, 1917
Olav Gulbransson's cartoon of King Victor Emmanuel III fleeing buxom furies includes a notation that the cartoon is based on a work of Franz von Stuck, "Orestes Erinyes." There is no record that the royal family was ever considered to be in danger, but given the situation unfolding in Russia, Simplicissimus's cartoonists delighted in imagining the Vaterland's conquest of Rome.
"Wenn die Not Am Größten" by Erich Schilling in Simplicissimus, Munich, November 20, 1917
Allied commanders prepared for a worst-case scenario of losing everything north of the Adige. Many priceless statues, paintings and ivories, as well as the famed horses of the Basilica of San Marco, were spirited away from Venice in case that city were to fall to the Germans.
"When 'Kultur' Reaches Venice" by W.A. Rogers in New York Herald, November, 1917
Jubilant German cartoonists depicted the removal of art and artifacts somewhat differently.
"Furchtbare Panik" by Karl Arnold in Simplicissimus, November 20, 1917
Most American cartoonists accepted their role of cheerleader for the Allies, either drawing cartoons of Germany and the Kaiser as menacing evil despoilers of civilization...
"The Progress of Kultur" by Oscar Cesare in New York Evening Post, November, 1917
...or encouraging readers not to give up hope, belittling the enemy's successes.
"Maybe There's a Nail in the Boot" by Billy Ireland in Columbus Dispatch, November, 1917
It is worth noting that when Italy entered the war, its army had significant numerical superiority over Austrian forces in the Alps. Italian military leadership relied, however, on strategies that were 100 years out of date. Italy's casualties in the eleven Isonzo offensives were huge yet yielded negligible results, and troops brought in to replace soldiers killed were severely under-trained. Supply lines were stretched beyond their limits, and low morale led to desertions and mutinies. The newly appointed Italian commander in 1917, General Luigi Cadorna, was widely despised by his troops, but you wouldn't know that from Allied cartoons.
"No Touchdown!" by Homer Stinson in Dayton News, November, 1917
No, American readers were more likely to see disparaging assessments of Germany's partners in the war...
"Und Only Mein Unselfishness Iss Safing You" by Bill Sykes in Philadelphia Evening Ledger, October, 30 1917
...And, above and below, thanksgiving that Great Britain and France were coming to Italy's rescue.
"In the Nick of Time" by Bert Blessington in El Paso Morning Times, November 13, 1917
By the way, there is much to see and do in Venice. If you ever visit, which you ought to do before climate change puts it all under water, don't miss those gleaming bronze (well, probably mostly copper) horses at St. Mark's Basilica. The ones you can see from the Piazza di San Marco are modern replicas, but for a modest fee and a trip up a very old and worn staircase, you can look at them up close and personal. You can also see the originals, which date from antiquity, in the museum up there. Only then can you fully appreciate how much they've traveled, from ancient Greece to Constantinople to Venice to Paris and back to Venice again. And wherever they were hidden in 1917.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Q Toon: Moore-ality Play

Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Nov 16, 2017

Cartoonist and content provider Daryl Cagle coined the term "Yahtzee" for when two or more editorial cartoonists draw the same idea on the same topic. That's what happened with the cartoon I drew on Sunday night, because I've seen the same basic idea, more or less, in the meantime drawn by Steve Sack and Phil Hinds. (Sack, as ever, did the concept up best, if I do say so myself, since he's not the sort to say it himself.)

Anyway, it's too late to change my cartoon now, and besides, all the other great ideas about Alabama's Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate have already been taken.

When I was at the drawing board, my chief worry was that Judge Moore would drop out or be forced out of the race between then and now.

I needn't have worried. A poll found that 37% of Alabama Evangelicals, and 29% of the electorate in general, claimed they were "more likely" to vote for Moore after the allegations against him were made public. Dinesh D'Souza, or whomever he was plagiarizing, tweeted that he used to be lukewarm about Moore, but now "we must elect him." An Alabama politician compared Moore to St. Joseph, Step-Father of Our Lord, and an Alabama pastor slammed Washington Republicans as "sissies" for withdrawing their support of Moore.

On the other hand, current polls show that Moore's Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, has come from behind and may have as much as a 12-point lead. Jones, a former U.S. Attorney during the Clinton administration who prosecuted Klan members who bombed a black church in 1963, has been careful to distance himself from national Democrats. Republicans are desperately considering delaying next month's special election, or pushing a write-in campaign for incumbent Luther Strange, whom Moore beat in the September primary.

I don't know whether Alabama is one of those states that requires a run-off election if nobody gets over 50% of the vote, but it seems likely (that being one of the tactics southern states used to safeguard against Black candidates coming out ahead if the White vote were split); that would be a possibility if Republicans split between Moore and Strange. National Republicans would prefer a Strange-Jones runoff or maybe a Strange-Moore runoff, but could be stuck with a Moore-Jones runoff prolonging their present agony.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, an evil wizard at the byzantine rules of politics, has even floated the idea of having Strange resign from the Senate before the December election, in order to force a new election. If Moore should win next month's election outright, the Senate could vote to expel him, allowing Alabama's Republican Governor to appoint a replacement. That seems a long shot with little precedent, but so did refusing to consider President Obama's appointment of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

These are interesting times. Strange days, indeed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Environmental Stewardship: Oikos

by John Berge

Economy and ecology both stem from the Greek word for household, oikos. The former also includes the root for managing, and the latter for studying. So it should be no surprise that when we look for ecological solutions, we frequently find economical benefits.

Switching from incandescent lamps to compact fluorescents and then to LEDs (light emitting diodes) has produced financial savings as well as energy and pollution savings. One of the larger energy usages in our household was the fluorescent lamps over my tropical plants in the basement. Since they are on twelve hours per day, 365 days a year, they were a significant cost to operate, but I also had to periodically replace the burnt out bulbs or even ballasts. I recently replaced them with LEDs – no bulbs to replace for probably the next 14 or 15 years and much less electricity used.

I have also replaced the old circular fluorescents in the kitchen with some nice-looking LED fixtures and am looking forward to replacing the fluorescent lamps in the basement drop ceiling. We buy our electricity generated solely from wind power, so I am not actually reducing our carbon footprint with these changes, but I am lowering our costs and maintenance problems. (Have you ever had to change a fluorescent bulb in a basement drop ceiling, fighting cobwebs and the little mementos left by a vole or mouse that came in for the winter?)

These first paragraphs were all about our household (our oikos) but I hope that this will give you some ideas and impetus to reexamine the lighting in your household. It will not only save you money and hassle in the long run, but if you still get your electricity from a coal-burning power plant, you will reduce your household’s carbon footprint and contribution to global warming or climate change. If you want to check into a wind power source for your electricity, contact me or one of the other clients of Arcadia Power.

There are other energy saving changes for your oikos that each of us should consider to be good environmental stewards in both the economic and ecological sense. If there is considerable condensation on your windows as the weather gets colder it is time to install doubly- or triply-glazed windows that will probably be much better sealed and weathertight than those originally installed in your home. If it is too late to install them this season, you can get almost the same saving with the shrinkable plastic film that is stretched over the inside of your windows. Check for leaks around your doors and upgrade your caulking and weatherstripping as needed.

Full house insulating or re-insulating can be expensive and possibly too difficult to do in the winter, but it is economical in the long run. Attic insulation may be the most important as heat rises and can escape through the ceiling and attic. Extra layers of insulation can generally be easily added in the winter. When our house (and maybe yours) was built, eight or nine inches was fairly standard. Now double that amount is suggested or possibly required. So get up into the attic and see what is there and what must be done. Since batts of attic insulation are added from the inside, there is no reason to wait or procrastinate.

Saving energy is good environmental stewardship, saves money in the long run, and will be doing your small part in fighting global warming. Wisconsin has no fossil fuel deposits, but it does have wind and sunshine. Why should we be sending so much money out of state for coal, natural gas and fuel oil?

Monday, November 13, 2017

This Week's Sneak Peek

I've been trying to come up with a cartoon idea about this fellow for quite a while now.

This week's cartoon incorporates bits and pieces from the roots of several discarded cartoons; let's see if they work together at all.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Late Election Results

This week's elections in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere gave new hope to a beleaguered Democratic Party. It was much the same 25 years ago this week, when Democrats, who had seemed incapable of overcoming their electoral disadvantage in the South, Midwest and West, put an end to 12 years of Republican rule. Souljahback Saturday returns to my thrilling cartoons of yesteryear, as a nation overlooked accusations of sexual harassment to send Bill Clinton to the White House.

Here in Wisconsin, we participated in the Democratic sweep. We ousted Robert Kasten to send Russ Feingold to the Senate, and Armed Forces Committee Chair Les Aspin won decisively over first-time congressional candidate Mark Neumann. But the President-elect had other plans for Aspin...
...little realizing that two years and two elections later, the third time would be the charm for Mr. Neumann.

On his way out the door, President Bush issued a controversial pardon to Caspar Weinberger, who had been Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan and had been indicted for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal in June. Prosecutors added a new count to the indictment less than a week before Election Day, based on a diary entry that contradicted President Bush's claim of being "out of the loop" while the Iran-Contra scheme was concocted.
In December, the additional indictment against Weinberger was thrown out due to the statute of limitations having expired. Bush pardoned Weinberger and five other Reagan administration officials in time for Christmas.

On October 30, President Bush had come to my hometown to be interviewed by Larry King. I had joined a group of protesters on the presidential limousine's route to Memorial Hall, waving a sign mocking a quip Bush had made during one of the presidential debates about Bill Clinton's paper-thin experience in foreign policy.
From inside his brightly lit limousine rushing down Sixth Street at 35 miles per hour, it is extremely unlikely that President Bush was able to read any of our signs, or even to detect that we were protesting at all.

A month later, I drew these last two cartoons by way of appreciation for his handling of four years in which the world went through fundamental change seemingly overnight. I couldn't stand along the road waiting for his motorcade to drive by again, so as much as anything else, these were my apology for that Millie poster. Oh, we were (and are) still stuck with Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court, but David Souter didn't turn out to be so bad.

I was particularly pleased at how this cartoon turned out visually, and it remains one of my all-time favorites.