Welcome to the webbed and wired edition of R&R, aristotle. We’ll be doing the same sort of song and dance here as we do in print: reviewing the latest comics and cartoon-related books and ranting about trends and abuses and unfathomable foolishnesses. Each installment will stay here for about four weeks, with a new one coming in just about every other week or so. If you don’t have the time to ponder every punctuation mark in this deathless prose and merely want to see what might be there that would interest you, we suggest you scroll down the page looking for the bold-face type that heralds the notables who reside herein this week. So here we go with Opus 410’s Bunny Bonus (and reprises of Opus 409 and 408):
Opus 408: Reviews of Chu and Bad Mother; and Terry Moore’s Five Years: Stalemate; Trudeau’s Lewser, Frank Cho’s extraordinary Ballpoint Beauties, the Wondrous Hedra, plus Myron Moose & Beetle’s 70th. (September 30, 2020).
Opus 410 (News through November 7, 2020). It’s “The End of an Error” as cartoonist Jason Chatfield cunningly proclaimed. (He does the comic strip Ginger Meggs and is prez of the National Cartoonists Society.) It’s not as if the Election crept up on us. It arrived with all the sound and fury of the half-time show at a major football league game, upped to the nth degree. Down the scroll at Editoonery, we’ve collected some of the editoons that accompanied this extravaganza from just before Election Day until November 7, when the outcome of the Election was determined by the Associated Press’s assessment of the ballot count. The Trumpet, of course, had not conceded by then; but we knew his monkey business would continue for an indeterminate period, indulging his ego at the expense of American democracy, which his every whining protest undermined in a wholly unPresidential manner.
Hell: it wasn’t just unPresidential: it was unAmerican. And this self-serving buffoon was our Prez for four years? Sheesh.
After Editoonery comes our Newspaper Comics Page Vigil (The Bump and Grind of Daily Stripping) where we collect samples of comic strips that celebrated the Election.
Between here and there, I’ve posted a log I kept day-by-day as the Election unfolded. The log scarcely covers every aspect of the proceedings: it is intended merely to remind us of the excitement and its prolongation.
A LOG OF THE ELECTION: PART I
WHEN I AWAKENED ON WEDNESDAY MORNING—early, the day after Election Day—I learned that the final results were still days away. But what results I saw were astonishing. The opinion polls (that we should from now on never believe or countenance) had been saying all along that Joe Biden would win. And I thought he’d win in a landslide because the alternative—the Trumpet—was such an obviously odious outcome. So imagine my surprise when I discovered, to my dismay, that the election was still a contest! Trump was not out of the running. In fact, at that hour of the day, it looked very much like he might win. What follows I wrote soon after I’d got out of bed on that bleak Wednesday morning.
“Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”
This remark is widely believed to have been uttered by H.L. Mencken, the irascible Baltimore newspaperman and cultural critic. But whether he made this quotable comment or not is, in our present predicament, irrelevant. The truth of the remark is manifest in the behavior of the American voters, large numbers of whom want to re-elect the Trumpet, the self-serving bloviating ego-maniacal mendacious Buffoon in Chief.
I could not believe it. When the counting finally ceases and Trump stands triumphant, I would refuse to believe it. Doesn’t everyone see his unfitness for the office? His ineptitude? His incompetence?
I remarked some months ago that Trump’s popularity with his avid legions of cult supporters is the popularity of a hero, not of a politician. Not of a celebrity either. And how is Trump heroic?
He “sticks it to” the establishment. He does what soberer minds would not consider doing. He tells them all to “fuck off.” And among a certain considerable body of citizens, that attitude is admirable. And in “taking on” establishment sacred cows and goring them, the Trumpet demonstrates heroic qualities—the fearlessness of challenging large entities, the folly of it, which is then denied by his success.
But he would be a hero to his followers whether he was successful or not. He is heroic in the attempt, not in the achievement.
Oddly, however, in the attempt, Trump seems to his cult to have already accomplished whatever he set out to do. And when he lies to them and tells them it’s accomplished, they believe him. Although Trump’s “wall” between the U.S. and Mexico scarcely exists—it’s only about 400 miles in length—Trump refers to it as if it exists all along the Mexico-U.S. border, and his frothing-at-the-mouth followers believe him.
A LOG OF THE ELECTION: Part II
Once I got to the Web, I quickly found that everyone has an opinion about the contest. And herewith, some of them with their opinions—:
“The vote-counting happening now is…. exactly what we knew and reported would happen. This is legitimate vote-counting, of ballots that were returned before or on Election Day.” — Scott Detrow, NPR
“Donald Trump called it a ‘fraud’ to continue to count votes. This does not sound like a democracy.” — Olivia Nuzzi, New York magazine
“What Trump did tonight is shocking, even though he’s been telegraphing this for some time. He’s primed his supporters to believe any result that doesn’t involve him winning is fraud.” — Rosie Gray, BuzzFeed News
“Trump may indeed win. But he certainly hasn’t yet. And he doesn’t get to say that your vote shouldn’t be counted.” — S.E. Cupp, CNN
“Every single serious analysis I read of this election said that it would be long and drawn out, and that Trump would try to steal the election by trying to discount late-arriving Biden votes. And now that it’s happening…everyone seems shocked.” — Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic
“Incredible how competitive Trump is with 230K+ covid deaths and kids being locked in cages and everything else. Even if Biden wins he will have to govern in a Trump country. This is who America is.” — Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair
“In any normal presidential democracy, this would not be a close election right now. It is only close because of our strange Electoral College.” — Lee Drutman, New America think tank
“A key question moving forward is whether public opinion polling is irreparably broken or if polling is just broken in elections with Trump on the ballot.” — Nathan Gonzales of Inside Elections.
“Biden POTUS with GOP Senate is a recipe for a horrifically nasty politics next year.” — Matt Glassman, Georgetown political scientist
“Democrats had hoped for a massive, unequivocal repudiation of Donald Trump for his mishandling of the pandemic, his raging White House incompetence, and his disdain for the rule of law. Instead, there was the sobering message that Trump’s support in key states like Florida was, in truth, greater than the polls had predicted.” — Walter Shapiro of The New Republic.
BACK IN THE KITCHEN for breakfast and perusal of the Denver Post. And here, almost at random, are my clippings from that exercise—:
Although there were glitches and confrontations here and there, the worst fears about a chaotic end to the campaign failed to materialize, even as the tension over the outcome and aftermath remained undiminished.
[As for Russian trolls,] ... no evidence of either wide-spread hacking or rampant Election Day disinformation efforts.
... Trump; aggressively seeking to cast doubt on the integrity of the voting system, the election posed challenges that both voters and the officials running it largely adapted to meet.
Counting the ballots, including mailed-in votes, is likely to take days to complete.
... the Postal Service reported that its processing system had not recorded the delivery to elections offices of some 300,000 ballots. ...
The entire voting process still faced the constant and continuing threat of litigation. Over the course of the election, more than 400 election-related lawsuits were filed across the country. ...
Democrats typically outperform Republicans in mail voting.
In downtowns ... workers boarded up businesses lest the vote lead to unrest.
[For Trump, the Election is a judgment on his administration during which] he bent Washington to his will, challenged faith in its institutions and changed how America was viewed across the globe. ... undermining the nation’s scientists, bureaucracy and media.
Voters braved worries of the coronavirus and long lines. ... Turnout seemed likely to surpass the 139 million ballots cast four years ago.
No outward signs by midday of any malicious activity.
The record-setting early vote—and legal skirmishing over how it would be counted—drew unsupported allegations of fraud from Trump, who repeatedly refused to guarantee he would honor the election’s result.
On Tuesday, one voter said he was confident of a Joe Biden victory but was not sure that President Trump would accept the results. Another voter said he felt violence was “almost assured” ... referring to the far-right Proud Boys group: “I mean, the president said ‘stand back’ and ‘stand by’ ... I’m presuming that’s what they’re doing.”
Counting all the ballots will take a long time. A British journalist said on Twitter: “There’s not enough booze in all the world for sitting through the American election results.”
A LOG OF THE ELECTION: PART III
ABOUT MID-DAY WEDNESDAY, I saw that Biden had 224 Electoral College votes; he needed only 46 more to make the necessary 270. I looked then at the states that were, at that moment, undeclared; but five of them were charted as leaning to Biden. Here they are, with their Electoral votes:
That totals 47 votes, one more than Biden needs to get to 270. Hoorah.
LATER THAT AFTERNOON, I checked again. By then, Maine had apparently gone to Trump. Biden was declared winner in two of the states—Arizona with 11 Electoral votes; Wisconsin with 10. Total for Biden, 21 votes. Biden now had 248 votes; he needed only 22 more votes to make it.
And the remaining two states on the list of five we started here with—if they went to Biden as the prognosticators have predicted—have exactly 22 votes between them. So if Biden were to take both Nevada with its 6 votes and Michigan with its 16, he’d have the requisite 22 votes to get to 270 and the White House.
But all this changes with the bat of an eye. Many of the states in which Biden and Trump are nearly tied haven’t finished counting. Georgia, North Carolina—both marked for Trump. But it’s close and Biden could win in either or both. The final count could change everything.
Pennsylvania is an example. Although it is presently counted as a Trump win, the final tally of mailed-in votes in the state’s biggest city, Philadelphia—like most big cities, a Democratic stronghold—could simply change the state’s total and throw the state to Biden.
Remember that Maine was counted for Biden until late afternoon, when it evidently became apparent that Trump was going to get more votes. Presto, the state’s Electoral votes go to Trump. (In the final count, Maine went for Biden.)
Democrats can take some comfort in the final Big Number—the popular vote. At the moment, Biden has more than Trump. This could be a 2016 re-run with the Democrat candidate winning by popular vote but losing the Electoral College vote.
In short, the present state of affairs is too fluid to justify my spending any more time on it. There are enough people doing that for a living. All the tv pundit class were apparently up all night, commenting and analyzing to a fare-thee-well; and they went right on all day Wednesday and all day Thursday, with no substantial change anywhere in sight.
Well, not quite. Arizona was suddenly contested again, and Biden lost its 11 votes. For now.
And then, suddenly, Biden has 264 votes. A win in Nevada, where they’re still counting, could win the Election.
Onward, into confusion and flux.
A LOG OF THE ELECTION: PART IV
ON THURSDAY MORNING, I checked the situation with USA Today’s Savannah Behrmann, whose report was headlined: “Election results updates: Biden is poised to win but it isn't over yet. What we know.” Several states are too close to call—Pennsylvania, Georgia, Nevada, and North Carolina. I’ve excerpted some of what she says we know, herewith—:
In Pennsylvania, the Department of State website shows little change overnight. About 29% of mail-in votes still need to be counted, or about 763,000 ballots. ... As of 7:35 a.m. Thursday, Trump had 3,215,969 votes, or 50.7% of the vote, and Biden had 3,051,555 votes, or 48.1% of the vote. Trump's lead is at 164,414 votes, down about 22,000 votes since 10:30 p.m. last night. [And the number of uncounted votes is enough to enable Biden to pass Trump.]
The presidential race in Georgia continued to tighten. ... Biden had slowly closed the gap with Trump, trailing by about 18,000 votes with 98% of the vote counted.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said there were about 50,000 ballots left to count. [And that’s enough to get Biden passed Trump.] ... The state would be done with its count by noon EST Thursday, he said.
Biden needs six Electoral College votes. Nevada, where Biden is leading, has six Electoral College votes. But updates to the state results were not announced Wednesday night.
State officials in Nevada are sticking to their original plan of updating results mid-day EST Thursday.
Nationally, with votes still being counted, Biden has broken the record for most votes received by a candidate, amassing nearly 72 million. As of Wednesday evening, he was leading Trump by more than 4 million.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump has only 214 Electoral votes. Mathematically, there aren’t enough uncounted votes to change his situation. He needs to win all four of the remaining contested states— Nevada, Pennsylvania, Georgia and North Carolina— to be re-elected. And since Biden is leading in at least a couple of those, the chances that Trump will win all four is remote.
And Trump knows it. So he’s shifted his tactics, adopting the strategy that we knew all along he’d eventually turn to. He’s contesting the total vote counts in various states, alleging corruption and fraud.
With his pathway to reelection appearing to shrink into hopelessness, reported the Associated Press, Trump on Thursday advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power illegally. It amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process. ... His statements also prompted a rebuke from some fellow Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era. (But not Mitch McConnell, who said only that he declined to comment.)
Slowly, Trump’s Republicon support is dwindling: as his power dwindles, so does his support.
Max Boot at the Washington Post observed: “Republican leaders were happy to use Trump to get what they wanted — judges, tax cuts — and they were (and are) too afraid of his rabid base to challenge him. But having survived the election, they don’t have much use for him anymore. They are probably just as happy not to be asked in the future to respond to his witless tweets. Harry Truman supposedly said, ‘If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.’ Trump doesn’t have a dog — or a prayer.”
LATE THURSDAY AFTERNOON, the Clown Show began. The Trumpet held a so-called “news” conference in which he claimed that he was being cheated, that he actually had won—if it weren’t for those damned corrupt mail ballots. None of which, he says, should be counted after Election Day. Most states permit mail-in ballots to be counted if they’re post-marked Election Day (November 3) or earlier; and the counting can go on for three or four days—or, in some cases, depending on state law, until they’re all counted. If they’re properly post-marked.
But that doesn’t mean anything to Trump. It’s his law or no other. And in his universe (the made-up one between his ears), mail-in ballots don’t get counted after Election Day. Post-marks don’t count much.
In one of his more laughable utterances, he said he can’t understand why so many of the mailed-in ballots are for Biden. Looks sinister to him, like some sort of ballot tampering. He conveniently forgets that he counseled his supporters not to vote by mail. Don’t vote by mail. So, assuming the cult is obedient, they didn’t vote by mail, and the Democrats, who had no one to tell them otherwise, voted by mail. And consequentially, in the mail balloting, they outnumber the Trumpists accordingly.
Trump cited case after case that he claimed illustrated corruption going on in the counting of ballots. But almost at once, logic and consistency in the situations he referred to disappeared. The entire harangue was soon no more than verbal flailing about. Thus, his fabrications about voter fraud and corruption—wholly false and unsupported by any fact found anywhere.
And certainly there are enough Republicons and cultists to look for them everywhere; if there were any such misbehaviors, we’d know about it by now.
After he left the podium—without taking questions—the pundits had at him. They were enraged that no one in the Republicon camp has stepped forward to refute Trump’s claims and—more important—to correct the impression he is giving of democracy having been corrupted beyond belief.
This was no longer a partisan matter, they said: Trump, the sitting Prez of the nation, was accusing the election process of being corrupt and biased against him. He was blatantly undermining the democracy of the country he was ostensibly leading. What he was doing was just short of treason. And maybe not short of it at all, I’d say.
If it wasn’t treason, it was at least treachery in the highest office of the land.
Late night television hosts joined in what became a nearly universal condemnation of the Trumpet’s remarks. (Excepting Mitch, of course.)
Stephan Colbert discarded his planned monologue to wing it in criticism of Trumpet’s “heartbreaking” Thursday night “lie fest.” Trump, Colbert said, was poisoning democracy. He was trying to kill it.
“I didn’t expect this to break my heart,” Colbert said. Then he called on “everyone” to protest Trump’s attack, quoting Edmund Burke’s famous homily: “All that is required for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.”
Jimmy Kimmel noted in his monologue that Trump is losing, lying and tearing democracy down with him.
“At the end of his speech,” Kimmel went on, “he should have been arrested and led off in handcuffs.”
A LOG OF THE ELECTION: PART V
FRIDAY MAY WELL BE THE DAY the election ends when most of the remaining battleground states hit the home stretch in counting and some races may even be called, winner declared. No states were called Thursday.
As the presidential race inches agonizingly toward a conclusion, quoth the New York Times, it might be easy to miss the fact that the results are not actually very close.
With many ballots still outstanding in heavily Democratic cities, Biden is leading Trump by more than four million votes nationwide as of Friday morning. His lead will continue to expand, perhaps substantially, as officials finish counting. The current vote margin is, in fact, larger than the populations of more than 20 states, and more than the population of Los Angeles.
From USA Today—:
Biden begins the day with 264 Electoral College votes to Trump's 214. That means Biden needs to win one of the four remaining battleground states: Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia. All of them are expected to make significant progress or finish counting outright.
Biden edged ahead of Trump in the all-important battleground of Pennsylvania for the first time Friday, adding to a sense of inevitability that the Scranton native would reach the 270 electoral votes he needs to capture the presidency.
Trump and his staff say they are not giving up on the election, despite signs Biden could capture enough states to carry the Electoral College. But they are also saying the president will respect a peaceful transfer of power if it comes to that.
Biden also officially took the lead in Georgia on Friday, after a new round of results were released. He leads by 917 votes with thousands of ballots remaining to be counted. Biden caught then passed Trump in the traditionally red state due to an onslaught of mail-in ballots from Democratic-leaning counties. Democratic voters utilized early voting and mail-in ballots across the nation more so than Republicans.
Georgia is critical to Trump’s reelection, but not necessary to Biden’s path to the White House.
In Arizona, Trump chipped away 22,000 votes from Biden's lead, closing the gap to 46,667 votes as of Thursday night. But unless the next batches of votes show Trump with a higher percentage than what the president managed Thursday, he will fall short.
The Arizona Republic estimates there were 300,000 votes left to count statewide as of Thursday evening, with 218,000 of those votes left to count in Maricopa County. The next day, Biden assumed a 44,000-vote lead in Arizona as of about 11 a.m. Eastern time. More than 200,000 early ballots remained to be counted statewide.
In Nevada, Biden leads by around 11,500 votes. An estimated 190,150 ballots remained uncounted in Nevada on Thursday. Some 90% of the outstanding ballots are in Clark County, a southern Nevada stronghold for Democrats where the party built up a daunting 89,000-voter edge over Republicans in early voting turnout.
It’s highly likely that Nevada will go for Biden. If that happens before Pennsylvania or Georgia is declared, Nevada’s 6 Electoral votes will put Biden in the White House.
Trump still holds North Carolina, which almost always votes Republicon (except in 2008, when it went for Obama). But Biden is chipping away at his lead.
BY LATE MORNING, Biden’s lead had expanded in Nevada. That came hours after he overtook Trump in the count in Georgia and Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes would easily put Biden over the 270 threshold.
IT’S LATE AFTERNOON FRIDAY. I’d thought it would be over by now. And for all practical—i.e., mathematical—purposes, it is. Biden has it won. He’s scheduled to give a major address tonight in prime time. We’ll see how he addresses the situation of being the mathematical winner. [Turns out, it wasn’t a major speech; it was more like a few remarks, and Biden did just fine.]
Being the mathematical winner means that although at the moment he doesn’t have the 270 Electoral votes to win, there’s no way his opponent with 214 votes can catch him. There are still five states in play: Pennsylvania (20 votes), North Carolina (15), Georgia (16), Nevada (6), and Arizona (11).
If Biden has 264 Electoral votes, as one computation has it, then a win in any one of these five states finishes the contest. If he has only 253 votes, as another computation has it (declining to recognize a Biden victory in Arizona), then he needs 37 votes. He’s leading in Georgia, Nevada and Pennsylvania, with a combined total of 42 votes. In other words, if he wins in those states where he’s leading, he wins the White House. And he’s leading in Arizona, too, for another 11 votes; total, 53.
To beat Biden, Trump needs 56 votes. He’s leading in only two of the remaining five—North Carolina (15 votes) and Arizona (11). (But Biden’s closing fast in Arizona; in fact, while I was writing this, I believe Biden passed Trump in Arizona.) If Trump wins both of these states, he gets only 26 votes—not enough by far to get re-elected.
Yes, by some weird turn of fate, Biden could lose the three states he’s leading in. With a combined total of 42 votes to be added to Trump’s 26, Trump would get 68 votes, and his total would be 282, twelve more than he needs. But in this fanciful scenario, Trump can afford to lose only Arizona. That would leave him with 271, enough to win. Just enough.
Realistically speaking, what are the chances?—that Trump would bypass Biden in the three states Biden is already leading in—and win Arizona, too, where Biden is fast overtaking him.
The odds aren’t good.
Biden will win.
And tonight’s speech to the nation is, for all practical purposes, a victory speech. All that remains is to see how gracefully Biden manages this. My bet? He’ll do just fine.
Biden’s been a politician all his adult life. He has made gaffes, yes; but those are off-the-cuff. Tonight’s speech will be the result of intensive consultation with his friends and advisors. And he won’t make any off-the-cuff gaffes.
And he didn’t. Moreover, he had the grace not to mention his defeated opponent at all. And he described his victory as the result of a choice Americans made, choosing “change” over “more of the same.” Nicely done. Short and sweet.
THEN THE ASSOCIATED PRESS TOOK MATTERS into its hands. As Biden lengthened his lead in Pennsylvania, it became increasingly impossible for Trump to overtake him. On Saturday morning, the AP declared Biden the victor in his native Pennsylvania at 11:25 a.m. EST. That got him the state’s 20 electoral votes, which pushed him over the 270 electoral-vote threshold needed to prevail without Arizona. Biden finished with 273 electoral votes.
Suddenly, silence at the White House. The Trumpet fell mute. No tweets or twitters for the next two days. (So far.) The silence is profound. We’ve had nothing like it for four years.
Now let’s move onto editoonery to see what the cartoonists have been doing while the rest of the world marinated in a stew of anxiety (as one reporter put it).
The Mock in Democracy
WE BEGIN WITH A FEW REMINDERS of the last days of the campaign, starting with a Canadian editoonist, Terry Mosher, pen-named Aislin (in an allusion to his oldest daughter, Aislinn). He takes a shot at the Trumpet during the last Presidential Debate by visually referencing Trump’s well-known aversion to wearing a mask—unless, apparently—ironically— he is masked by the bigoted hood of KKK. Next around the clock, Rob Rogers constructs a visual metaphor for the relationship between Trump and his Vice Prez, Mike Pence. That relationship, with Pence cleaning up the shit Trump leaves behind in piles of lies, his response to Covid-19, and fanciful conspiracy theories, is the ultimate explanation of the fly that landed on Pence’s head during his debate with Joe Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris.
Then Adam Zyglis takes his gloves off with a Proud Boy image of the Trumpet holding the bat with which he’s just beaten Uncle Sam and democracy—with some Trump followers observing (and revealing something about the constituency of the Proud Boys). And then comes Matt Wuerker’s visual metaphor for the Trumpet’s administration—a carnival side show of Trump’s unfulfilled campaign promises, presided over by the barker himself. At the end of this Opus, I’ve posted 43 of Trump’s neglected and unfulfilled but endlessly touted promises. Forty of ’em. Imagine that. But the cult of his passionate followers do not apparently realize they’ve been snookered.
And then we have Kevin “Kal” Kalaugher’s great visual metaphor of the United States as an election machine, clanking and wheezing and gasping— perhaps the perfect picture to introduce analysis of an election in a democracy. It’s large, it looks cumbersome and awkward, and when it works, sometimes, it doesn’t produce the desired result. I don’t think Kal produced this marvel to commemorate this year’s large, cumbersome and awkward election. I suspect he did it for some other American election because I found this image in an article about an exhibit of Kalaugher cartoons.
The editoon below Kal’s is another way of interpreting an election visually. Our two heroic characters, Biden and the Trumpet, are depicted running in circles around a single chair in the last stages of a game of Musical Chairs. When the music (??) stops, one of them will wind up seated; the other, standing alone.
Nice idea but it is the drawing that attracts my attention. The cartoonist is Barcelona’s Kap (Jaume Capdevila), an award-winning cartoonist and caricaturist for several papers and magazines in Spain, France and Italy. He is also a specialist in the Spanish satirical press of XIX and XX century.
We’re posting another of his efforts later in this Editoonery department.
Our next visual aid collects various editoons that urge a democratic populace to vote. We begin with Jen Sorensen’s remembering her ancestors who fought for American values and asking, urging, that we honor their legacy by voting.
Next come the buttons that proclaim the wearer had voted. Many voters pick up a sticker that says “I voted” after they’ve voted. But these editioonists—Nate Beeler (two at the upper right), then Chris Britt (two more at the lower right) and Darrin Bell (two at the lower left)—have modified the traditional message in order to indicate a different series of beliefs that the voters wearing the sticker supported.
The next display also urges citizens to vote. We begin with Mike Lester’s images of a wheelchair-bound man “exercising” his right to vote by getting up out of his chair to do so. Then across the bottom are two cartoons by David Hitch. I’ve included these by way of recognizing Hitch’s unique style of editooning: it’s all talking heads, with the heads being caricatures of public personages. His caricatures are sometimes so extreme that I’m unable to recognize his target. The first four at the lower left wear identifying buttons; and so does Hitch’s portrait of Biden at the lower right. His Biden wears a price tag of $17 on his head, which may be an allusion to the hair implants Biden had done several years ago.
But whether I can interpret his caricatures or not, I can admire excessively his refreshing style.
SOME EDITOONERY ADMONITIONS to vote were less than subtle. F’instance, in the next exhibit, John Cole’s in his state of North Carolina. Hard to miss the import of his message. Pat Byrnes, on the other hand, was gentler. Byrnes, by the way, has just recently joined the ranks of editorial cartoonists: for as long as I’ve known him (maybe 20 years?), he was a magazine gag cartoonist with a focus on The New Yorker, where many of his cartoons were published.
Next, Joe Heller offers a series of emblems of great power, finishing with democracy’s source of power. At the lower left, Jeff Koterba’s imagery captures the unabashed relief citizens feel at the end of a long campaign like the one we’ve just suffered through.
And at the lower right, here’s Kap’s opening cartoon again, to remind us of why we begin the next display with another of his cartoons. We’re simply showcasing the drawings we admire of a cartoonist who we have just discovered. We have two Kaps on this visual aid: one at the upper left (with Trump wearing a face mask but, predictably, getting it on backwards; the other at the lower right, showing the Trumpet taking the America First Step. Both are captivating portraits of our Buffoon in Chief.
The black-and-white images on this page are by another cartoonist we’re showcasing this time— Brian Duffy, who, for 25 years, was editoonist at the Des Moines Register. I usually see him illustrating Jim Hightower’s monthly political Lowdown newsletter, but I don’t see him elsewhere. Maybe he wasn’t syndicated; dunno.
Duffy is now staff editorial cartoonist for KCCI-TV, a CBS affiliate in Des Moines. He also does cartoons for the alternative weekly newspaper, City View, where he is given his own full page to let his imagination stretch its legs and run rampant. A full page all to himself—what cartoonist wouldn’t love that gig?
Duffy’s cartoon at the upper right appears in the latest Hightower Lowdown, which Hightower gets off and running with a comic comment by the popular American humorist Kin Hubbard who, in the early 1900s, joked that “now and then, an innocent man is sent to the legislature”—an observation, Hightower goes on, “still sadly applicable to most U.S. legislative bodies now so corrupted by big money politics that they’re little more than crime syndicates run by and for corporate donors. But here’s a big of news that might lift you up and get you excited: America’s grassroots progressive movement is making the election of ‘innocents’ more than an occasional oddity.”
Hightower continues: “These newcomers’ innocence rests not on naivete but on rejecting the money-paved political path that has led so many elected officials—of both major parties—astray. Instead of being drawn to politics by perks and prestige of “holding’ office, these newbies come from strong backgrounds of progressive activism; their ambitions are drive by community needs.”
Duffy’s cartoon illustrates the fork one prong of which leads to the road less traveled, the road Hightower is exulting over.
The other Duffytoon merely dramatizes the Trumpet’s secret deal with the Postal Service to delay delivering mail ballots—in effect, to destroy them.
EDITOONISTS RESPONDED to Election Day in assorted ways, some of which we see on the next array. Tom Stiglich’s visuals imitate the famed “I Voted” lapel sticker, but the shape of the sticker suggests the coronavirus that has haunted this election from beginning to end. David Fitzsimmons offers a lovely image that describes the Trumpet’s present predicament: playing with the old notion that “it’s not over until the fat lady sings” (we are reminded by the little prairie bird mascot that Fitz affixes to many of his cartoons), Fitz has the operatic fat lady of mail-in ballots about to fall on Trump and squash him for good. Then the election will be over.
Like Stiglich, Lisa Benson’s imagery conjures up the coronavirus dilemma we’re all in on Election Day. Her voters all wear masks, and after voting, they sanitize their hands (as if politics were a dirty business). At the lower left, Chip Bok takes up another aspect of this election: the swarm of lawyers that have already infested the process.
The fat lady sang for Fitzsimmons but the Election ain’t over. It’s going on and on and on. That circumstance provides the fodder for a few of the next collection of editoons. In the first, Bob Englehart’s visual metaphor for our present dilemma is an empty suit representing the winner that hasn’t been declared yet. Marty “Shooty” Sutovec’s metaphor is a boxing match with Uncle Sam as the referee whose task is to raise the fist of the winner. Since there is no winner (yet), Sam is holding both of the candidates’ fists, but the Trumpet’s right arm escapes the grip and, flung upward, declares Trump the victor. And that’s just what Trump has done, saying if only the “legal” ballots are counted, he wins. Ergo, if Biden wins, it’s because he’s relying upon “illegal” ballots.
This is the beginning of the Trumpet strategy to take the election away from Biden. Unhappily, to make this strategy work, Trump must undermine faith in democracy by asserting that there are “illegal” ballots that no one has yet admitted exist.
That’s not all of the Trumpet’s plan. He is also going to the courts for help in declaring parts of some balloting operations corrupt as R.J. Matson observes in his race-track metaphor for the election. Biden runs the race; Trump heads for the courthouse. But that’s not how races are won. Still, he’s filed dozens of lawsuits; most were immediately rebuffed for lack of evidence.
And then Clay Bennett redesigns the Presidential Seal to make it conform to what we’re all salivating over—the Electoral College.
Contrary to what everyone expected—a roaring landslide for Biden—the election was turning out to be quite a cliffhanger, as Matt Davies shows us in our next exhibit. And his visual metaphor carries a second meaning about the divisiveness of the process. Not only that: it’s taking forever as Randall Enos points out in two panels that indicate a terrible passage of time. Well, that and the long beard.
Kevin “Kal” Kalaugher takes us inside ballot-counting operation to show us boxes and baskets full of ballots being carefully, minutely, examined for authenticity. And one of the factotums comments on how the election has divided the populace into two factions: the nail-biters and the hair-pullers. Then Steve Breen, like others, resorts to a boxing match metaphor, with Trump knocked down (if not out) but still murmuring his mantra as the referee counts him out.
And the Trumpet is still demanding that the counting stop in our next display, which Rob Rogers kicks off with a four panels in order to depict each of the customary Trumpet maneuvers. He’s been preparing us to believe in voter fraud for months. And now he does exactly what we’ve been expecting him to do. His well-known penchant for suing to get his way is the object of Nick Anderson’s ridicule in the next editoon. That Trump would begin suing voters is but the next logical step in the progression. But, as we said, he isn’t winning any of the suits.
Elsewhere—someone had to do it. Someone had to tell the Trumpet “You’re fired!”—in a perfect invocation of the expression Trump was famous for in reality tv before he became Buffoon in Chief. And a few editoonists did precisely that. We’re posting David Fitzsimmons’ version partly because of his caricature of Biden. Biden, it turns out, is not easy to caricature. No really distinctive feature —except maybe his high forehead and his toothy grin, when grinning is an appropriate expression. And that’s not always. Fitz has made a great start.
And then Dave Granlund’s stoney U.S.A. monument is his visual metaphor for post-election America. It’s not broken in half, which we’d expect in this polarized society. But it’s laced with cracks, which we now must mend and repair.
The election has had other consequences. The re-election of Mitch McConnell, for example, which Peter Kuper recognizes in the next visual aid, wherein Kuper’s metaphorical image is the cover of a horror comicbook. The woman’s speech balloon identifies her as Judge Barrett, just approved as a new Supreme Court justice. She says: “Remarkable how you’ve rammed through my Supreme Court nomination in the middle of an election.”
Mitch the Monster acknowledges his achievement modestly: “Our American just us system in action,” he says.
Daryl Cagle finishes this expedition by repudiating the pollsters, who’ve been the big losers in this election cycle. They had Biden winning by landslide dimensions. Instead, we have a neck-and-neck race. Cagle often includes online at CagleCartoons.com the pencil draft of his cartoons, and I’m always glad to see them. Looking closely, you can see his decision-making going on. Here, f’instance, he’s lengthened Uncle Sam’s kicking leg, choosing the longer leg for the final rendition.
Finally, Biden won. Not by as much as pollsters predicted. But he won. And then there are two options for editoonists: one is to cheer for Biden’s election; the other is to gloat over Trump’s defeat. And I set out to find one in each posture. Not easy. Not many editoons available over the weekend.
Biden won on Saturday, and most editoonists don’t do cartoons on Saturday. They may have an editoon in the Sunday paper, but chances are that those Sunday editoons are drawn on Friday. And when editoonists come back to work on Monday, the cartoons they’ll draw will be published in Tuesday’s paper.
I wanted to get this opus posted as soon after Biden’s victory as possible. So I hoped to find something suitable without having to wait until Tuesday, when we’d be flooded with editoons in both the areas I just indicated would be the options for editoonists.
Luckily for me, I found several compelling candidates in Monday’s crop of editoons, all manufactured Saturday or Sunday. Finding a Biden-congratulation cartoon, however, proved nearly impossible. Ridiculing Trump is much more fun for cartoonists, and so Trump is in almost every cartoon I saw—even those celebrating Biden’s victory. For example, the first two in our array. At the upper left, Steve Sack has Biden with the winner’s cup, but Trump is also part of the cartoon: just as Biden is winning, Trump is shouting his usual protestation that he is plagued by fakes.
R.J. Matson returned to his race track metaphor, showing Biden breaking the tape as the winner but followed closely by Trump’s lying Pinocchio nose—and the protruding proboscis leads us back to the Trumpet, who is splashing along in voter fraud mud, churning up lies and law suits as he goes.
And that’s about as good as it got on Monday for Biden congratulatory toons.
Ed Wexler at the lower right produced a more typical weekend cartoon—one unrestrainedly ridiculing the Trumpet, who continues to behave as the narcissistic 7-year-old he seems always to be, throwing just another in a long line of trumptantrums.
I can’t resist Dave Whamond’s offering as a grace note upon which to end our excursion. The colors are a little too dark to make the cartoon easy to read: it shows Andy Kaufman unzipping his Trump disguise and emerging as himself, saying, “Can you imagine if Trump actually was President?”
No. That’s nearly impossible to do.
AS SOON AS THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ANNOUNCED THE WINNER (and what official, governmental action authorizes the AP to do this?), the populace surged spontaneously into the streets and onto front lawns—honking horns, banging pots and pans, waving signs and banners, high-fiving, and dancing wildly in jubilant approval of their choice. A band in Maine, playing at a farmers’ market, broke into “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Relief at Trump’s defeat was felt in other countries, too. The mayor of Paris tweeted: “Welcome back, America” — suggesting that all the rest of the world knew Trump was an aberration whose sins would soon be washed away with the election of someone else, some decent American; and what more American name could such a person have? Joe, of course.
Biden received more than 75 million votes; Trump, more than 71 million. A record 103 million voted early in this election. The total voter turnout could reach 65% of the eligible population, the highest in a century.
And Kamala Harris racked up more firsts than anyone in the nation’s history. First woman vice president, first Black vice president, first of Indian-descent vice president, first Black woman vice president, first .... Well, you get the idea.
But the best election story is the one about Van Jones, as reported here by Yahoo! Entertainment—:
Just as CNN called the presidential election for Joe Biden on Saturday morning, one of the more emotional moments came from commentator Van Jones, whose on-air response brought closure to concerns he expressed four years ago. Jones broke down weeping while celebrating what Trump’s ouster will mean for families around the country: “It’s easier to be a dad, it’s easier to tell your kids character matters — it matters,” he said.
Jones reflected on the racism and bigotry that has defined the last four years of Trump’s presidency. “This is vindication for a lot of people who have really suffered. ‘I can’t breathe’ — that wasn’t just George Floyd. A lot of people felt like they couldn’t breathe,” he said. “This is a big deal for us, just to get some peace and have a chance for a reset. The character of the country matters. Being a good man matters. I just want my sons to look at this, look at this, it’s easy to do it the cheap way and get away with stuff.”
Jones’ reaction Saturday — and his reference to Muslims and immigrants who suffered under Trump — was an explicit callback to his comments on CNN four years ago, when he described the then-likely election of Trump as a “white-lash against a changing country” and reflected on the difficulties parents would have in reconciling how Trump could have won in spite of his lies and hateful rhetoric. (Jones himself has two children.)
“It’s hard to be a parent tonight, for a lot of us,” Jones said four years ago. “You tell your kids ‘Don’t be a bully.’ You tell your kids ‘Don’t be a bigot.’ You tell your kids ‘Do your homework and be prepared.’ You have this outcome, you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of ‘How do I explain this to my children?’”
Jones finished that speech by saying Trump had a responsibility to come out and say he would be a president for all people, including those he derided and offended. That, of course, never happened.
Here’s the complete text of Jones’ Saturday morning comments (in italics):
Well, it’s easier to be a parent this morning. It’s easier to be a dad. It’s easier to tell your kids character matters — it matters. Tell them the truth matters. Being a good person matters.
It’s easier to a whole lot of people. If you’re Muslim in this country, you don’t have to worry if the president doesn’t want you here. If you’re an immigrant, you don’t have to worry if the president is going to have your babies snatched away or send dreamers back for no reason.
This is vindication for a lot of people who have really suffered. “I can’t breathe” — that wasn’t just George Floyd. A lot of people felt like they couldn’t breathe. Every day you’re waking up, you’re getting these tweets and you just don’t know. You’re going to the store and people who have been afraid to show their racism are getting nastier and nastier to you. You’re worrying about your kids and you’re worrying about your sister: Can she just go to Walmart and get back into her car without somebody saying something to her? You spent so much of your life energy just trying to hold it together.
This is a big deal for us, just to get some peace and have a chance for a reset. The character of the country matters. Being a good man matters. I just want my sons to look at this, look at this, it’s easy to do it the cheap way and get away with stuff. But it comes back around, it comes back around. It’s a good day for this country. And I’m sorry for the people who lost, for them its not a good day. For a whole lot of people it’s a good day.
Today is a good day.
It’s easier to be a parent this morning.
Being a good person MATTERS.
This is a big deal.
YUP: A GOOD DAY
Even In Muslim Countries—One of Them Anyhow
The Associated Press took time off from attending to ballot-counting to report that the United Arab Emirates announced on November 7 a major overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws. Hereafter, unmarried couples will be allowed to cohabitate, alcohol possession and consumption will not be restricted, and so-called “honor killings” will be criminalized.
NEWSPAPER COMICS PAGE VIGIL
The Bump and Grind of Daily Stripping
ELECTION DAY doesn’t usually prompt comic strips to “get political” and urge readers to vote. It’s probably a measure of the intensity of this year’s presidential contest that several comic strippers climbed onto the “get out the vote” message for the day. In our first visual aid, Patrick McDonnell, Hector Cantu and Carlos Castellanos, and Stephan Pastis all join the parade. And editoonist Dave Granlund brings up the rear with an editoon that echoes James Montgomery Flagg’s famous World War I recruiting poster Uncle Sam, who points at the reader and says “I want you.”
The second exhibit begins with an editoon by Daryl Cagle, whose syndicate, Cagle Cartoons, markets the editorial cartoons of about sixty editoonists to something like 800 newspapers. Cagle says elections are happy times for newspaper editors.
Editors probably like “vote” editoons because the message is urgent but neutral: no irate reader is going to phone the paper and complain about the “vote” cartoon.
Cagle often posts his pencil rough for one of his cartoons. He did so with his “vote” editoon, saying—:
“I wasn’t happy with Uncle Sam so I drew him over twice. Lincoln and Liberty needed to be taller, but I didn’t redraw them: I just made an indication to remember to make them taller on the final line version. I looked at some photos of Lincoln and his dark, little eyes, so I changed Abe’s eyes, but I like the bigger eyes in the sketch better; I should have gone with the bigger eyes.”
Turning to the Granlund “vote” cartoon in our opening display, Cagle said: “This Dave Granlund cartoon from last week is our most reprinted cartoon since we started keep these stats at the beginning of the year.”
I include a Mallard Fillmore “right wingnut” strip not because the duck is urging everyone to vote but because this offering is a little less talky than the strip often is: here, the punchline is loosely connected to the caricature of Biden.
Tom Batiuk and Dan Davis fill out the roster of “vote” strips. That looks like the entire cast of Funky Winkerbean at the bottom. That’s Funky, I believe, at the head of the line—although he’s changed so much I can hardly recognize him.
TRUMP’S BROKEN PROMISES
The Trumpet’s supporters, when asked why the hell they vote for this narcissistic self-serving blowhard, say that it’s because he kept his promises.
But did he?
At RawStory.com, they say he didn’t at least 40 times; here’s their count—:
1. He said coronavirus would “go away without a vaccine.” You bought it. But it didn’t. While other countries got the pandemic under control and avoided large numbers of fatalities, the virus has killed more than 130,000 Americans*, and that number is still climbing.
2. He said he won’t have time to play golf if elected president. But he has made more than 250 visits to his golf clubs since he took office – a record for any president – including more trips during the pandemic than meetings with Dr. Fauci. The total financial cost to America? More than $136 million.
3. He said he would repeal the Affordable Care Act, and replace it with something “beautiful.” It didn’t happen. Instead, 7 million Americans have lost their health insurance since he took office. He has asked the Supreme Court to strike down the law in the middle of a global pandemic with no plan to replace it.
4. He said he’d cut your taxes, and that the super-rich like him would pay more. He did the opposite. By 2027, the richest 1 percent will have received 83 percent of the Trump tax cut and the richest 0.1 percent, 60 percent of it. But more than half of all Americans will pay more in taxes.
5. He said corporations would use their tax cuts to invest in American workers. They didn’t. Corporations spent more of their tax savings buying back shares of their own stock than increasing workers wages.
6. He said he would boost economic growth by 4 percent a year. Nope. The economy stalled, and unemployment has soared to the highest levels since the Great Depression. Just over half of working-age Americans are employed – the worst ratio in 70 years.
7. He said he wouldn’t “cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” His latest budget includes billions in cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.
8. He promised to be “the voice” of American workers. He hasn’t. His administration has stripped workers of their rights, repealed overtime protections, rolled back workplace safety rules, and turned a blind eye to employers who steal their workers’ wages.
9. He promised that the average American family would see a $4,000 pay raise because of his tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. But nothing trickled down. Wages for most Americans have barely kept up with inflation.
10. He promised that anyone who wants a test for Covid will get one. But countless Americans still can’t get a test.
11. He said hydroxychloroquine protects against coronavirus. No way. The FDA revoked its emergency authorization due to the drug’s potentially lethal side effects
12. He promised to eliminate the federal deficit. He has increased the federal deficit by more than 60 percent.
13. He said he would hire “only the best people.” He has fired a record number of his own cabinet and White House picks, and then called them “whackos,” “dumb as a rock,“ and “not mentally qualified.” 6 of them have been charged with crimes.
14. He promised to bring down the price of prescription drugs and said drug companies are “getting away with murder.” They still are. Drug prices have soared, and a company that got federal funds to develop a drug to treat coronavirus is charging $3,000 a pop.
15. He promised to revive the struggling coal industry and bring back lost coal mining jobs. The coal industry has continued to lose jobs as clean energy becomes cheaper.
16. He promised to help American workers during the pandemic. But 80% of the tax benefits in the coronavirus stimulus package have gone to millionaires and billionaires. And at least 21 million Americans have lost extra unemployment benefits, with no new stimulus check to fall back on.
17. He said he’d drain the swamp. Instead, he’s brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, and he’s filled departments and agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who are crafting new policies for the same industries they used to work for.
18. He promised to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. His Justice Department is trying to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, including protections for people with preexisting conditions.
19. He said Mexico would pay for his border wall. The wall is estimated to cost American taxpayers an estimated $11 billion, through a questionable reallocation of funds appropriated for other purposes (which are now neglected). Trump managed to build or repair about 300 miles of the wall (which enabled him to claim the wall had been built; a lie, of course).
20. He promised to bring peace to the Middle East. Instead, tensions have increased and his so-called “peace plan” was dead on arrival.
21. He promised to lock up Hillary Clinton for using a private email server. He didn’t. Funny enough, Trump uses his personal cell-phone for official business, and several members of his own administration, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka, have used private email in the White House.
22. He promised to use his business experience to whip the federal government into shape. He hasn’t. His White House is in permanent chaos. He caused the longest government shutdown in our nation’s history when he didn’t get funding for his wall.
23. He promised to end DACA. The Supreme Court ruled that his plan to deport 700,000 young immigrants was unconstitutional, and DACA still stands.
24. He promised “six weeks of paid maternity leave to any mother with a newborn child whose employer does not provide the benefit.” He hasn’t delivered.
25. He promised to bring an end to Kim Jong-Un’s nuclear program. Kim is expanding North Korea’s nuclear program.
26. He said he would distance himself from his businesses while in office. He continues to make money from his properties and maintain his grip on his real estate empire.
27. He said he’d force companies to keep jobs in America, and that there would be consequences for companies that shipped jobs abroad. Since he took office, companies like GE, Carrier, Ford, and Harley Davidson have continued to outsource thousands of jobs while still receiving massive tax breaks. And offshoring by federal contractors has increased.
28. He promised to end the opioid crisis. Americans are now more likely to die from an opioid overdose than a car accident.
29. He said he’d release his tax returns. It’s been nearly 4 years. He hasn’t released his tax returns.
30. He promised to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and renegotiate a better deal. Negotiations have gone nowhere, and he brought us to the brink of war.
31. He promised to enact term limits for all members of Congress. He has not even tried to enact term limits.
32. He promised that China would pay for tariffs on imported goods. His trade war has cost U.S. consumers $34 billion a year, eliminated 300,000 American jobs, and cost American taxpayers $22 billion in subsidies for farmers hurt by the tariffs.
33. He promised to “push colleges to cut the skyrocketing cost of tuition.” Instead, he’s made it easier for for-profit colleges to defraud students, and tuition is still rising.
34. He promised to protect American steel jobs. The steel industry continues to lose jobs.
35. He promised tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations would spur economic growth and pay for themselves. His tax cuts will add $2 trillion to the federal deficit.
36. After pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, he said he’d negotiate a better deal on the environment. He hasn’t attempted to negotiate any deal.
37. He promised that the many women who accused him of sexual misconduct “will be sued after the election is over.” He hasn’t sued them, presumably because he doesn’t want the truth to come out.
38. He promised to bring back all troops from Afghanistan. He now says: “We’ll always have somebody there.”
39. He pledged to put America first. Instead, he’s deferred to dictators and authoritarians at America’s expense, and ostracized our allies — who now laugh at us behind our back.
40. He promised to be the voice of the common people. He’s made his rich friends richer, increased the political power of big corporations and the wealthy, and harmed working Americans.
A FEW MORE OF THE TRUMPET’S PROMISES somehow escaped mention in the foregoing list. We add them herewith—:
41. He promised to prevent immigration of various persons of certain persuasions. He failed to get Congress to go along and so resorted to executive orders to ban immigration from the Mideast and some African nations, to change DACA rules and to create new restrictions on refugee and student admissions, but here, too, he actually failed: most of these actions were either delayed or stopped in the courts.
42. He renegotiated the NAFTA agreement. Yes, but—it garnered bipartisan support mostly because it looks more like an agreement that would’ve been negotiated under the Obama administration. It essentially freezes the expensive tariff war Trump began, resetting the China-U.S. agreement to that reached by Obama in 2015.
43. He appointed conservative judges throughout the federal system, including the Supreme Court. This is the only promise Trump actually delivered. And we’ll be suffering the consequences of this for generations to come.
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