The Week in Editorial Cartoons – “I Have Here in My Hand a List of…”

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Note: I kept getting errors about text being corrupted while trying to post the complete diary.  This is only half the diary.  There are many more sections and editorial cartoons in this diary that I posted over at Daily Kos.

Crossposted at Daily Kos and The Stars Hollow Gazette

Peter King – Ghost of Hearings Past by Taylor Jones,, Buy this cartoon

PLEASE READ THIS – on Japan and Libya.

There have been an overwhelming number of editorial cartoons (close to 500) published in the past week or so just about the awful human tragedy in Japan and the escalating War in Libya.  

I have posted a few in this diary but, frankly, both issues deserve their separate diaries and as I find the time over the next few days to sift through the large number of cartoons and (in some instances) commentary by editorial cartoonists, I will try to include as many as I can in future diaries and as soon as possible.  

(Joel Pett, McLatchy Cartoons/Lexington Herald-Leader, click link to enlarge above cartoon)

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1. Update #1 – new section added (10 cartoons)

— Section 5. Sports Talk: On to the Final Four

2.  Update #2 – new section added (11 cartoons)

— Section 4. A Collection of Dunces: The Emerging 2012 Republican Presidential Field.  You’ll love the cartoon (and commentary) by Chan Lowe in this section.


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This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

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Nick Anderson

Radical Ideas by Nick Anderson,, see reader comments in the Houston Chronicle

John Sherffius

John Sherffius, (Boulder Daily Camera)

Muslim Witchhunt by David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Star, Buy this cartoon

Herblock, Washington Post, October 31, 1947, Library of Congress

“It’s Okay – We’re Hunting Communists”

The Cold War revived the anti-communist hysteria that had gripped the United States after World War I.  In 1947 Congress revived the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), opposed by Herb Block since its inception in the 1930s and declared by President Truman to be itself the most un-American activity.  Herb Block comments: “The FBI, under J. Edgar Hoover, helped provide the committee with material from its aptly named ‘raw files’.  Some producers, directors and screen writers refused to testify or to play the ‘name game’ in which the committee demanded the names of associates, who could then be called on to name others thus providing an ever-expanding list of suspects to be summoned.” link

Homegrown Terrorism by RJ Matson, Roll Call, Buy this cartoon

Dan Wasserman

Muslim Hearings by Dan Wasserman, (Boston Globe)

FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, Hat tip: Labor Arts

Chris Britt

Chris Britt, (State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL)

Herblock, Washington Post, May 7, 1954, Library of Congress

“I Have Here in my Hand…”

In 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy went too far when he took on the United States Army, accusing it of promoting communists.  The Senate held special hearings, known as the Army-McCarthy hearings, which were among the first to be televised nationally.  In the course of testimony McCarthy submitted evidence that was identified as fraudulent.  As both public and politicians watched the bullying antics of the Senator, they became increasingly disenchanted.  Before the year was out McCarthy, whose charges had first hit the headlines in February 1950, was censured by his colleagues for “conduct unbecoming a senator.”  link

Peter King’s Muslim Hearings by Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons, Buy this cartoon

Steve Benson

Steve Benson, (Arizona Republic)

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, (Minneapolis Star-Tribune)


Two Different Approaches to Politics

At any given point in a nation’s history, domestic and international events move on different — and, often, contradictory — policy tracks. So is the case at present in the United States.  

(Libya News by David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, click link to enlarge cartoon at right)

The country is engaged in three wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and, now, in Libya.  The Obama Administration calls it an humanitarian intervention but when military jets invade a sovereign country’s air space and engage in bombing targets, the end result is civilian casualties.  By anyone’s definition, this would be called a “war.”  In another major international development, the country of Japan is trying to recover from a devastating earthquake which triggered a tsunami which, in turn, has caused serious problems at several nuclear reactors.  The human death toll is already over 10,000 and sure to rise much higher.  International help is needed to alleviate human suffering and misery in Japan.  

Both of these issues — assisting the Libyan rebels overthrow a ruthless and murderous dictator and helping Japan through a terrible crisis — require active governmental action.  Indeed, these are the kinds of situations where only “Big Government” can help in the most efficient manner.

On the domestic front, the Great Economic Recession seems to be over but unemployment (though trending downwards) is still unacceptably high.  The housing market is anemic at best and a surge in housing starts and sales (nowhere to be found as yet) could certainly invigorate the economy.  While the country is trying to recover from prolonged economic problems, the Republican Party — which won the U.S. House of Representatives while making significant gains in the U.S. Senate, state houses, and state assemblies in the 2010 Elections — is engaged in a ferocious battle to drastically reduce the size and scope of national and state governments while actively trying to destroy the shrinking middle class, particularly in states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan through draconian anti-labor initiatives.  They have not forgotten to offer huge tax cuts to their corporate benefactors.  At the same time, national Republicans are engaged in attacking National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service while trying to gut the Healthcare Reform Law passed just last year.  And they haven’t ruled out making substantial cuts in two programs which have provided seniors with a level of respectability in their twilight years, Social Security and Medicare.

Instead of offering constructive alternatives to end this economic recession, presenting a substantive economic plan, assisting in creating jobs and reducing unemployment, one of the first high-profile hearings held by the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives was to investigate the corrosive impact the Muslim community was having on this country.  Never mind that there was no compelling evidence presented to justify this clownish behavior.

Republicans surely know this: historically, the electorate has not necessarily rewarded the party in power even after successes in foreign affairs.  Only when when foreign policy initiatives go haywire, does the ruling party pay a heavy political price.  I am sure that President Barack Obama and his political team are acutely aware of political history, which explains why they are hesitant to get involved in a prolonged military operation in Libya.  Since the end of World War II, there are several examples which demonstrate that failure — or the lack of obvious success — can dearly cost a political party.  In 1952, the stalemate in Korea made Harry Truman and Congressional Democrats very unpopular.  The result?  It cost them not only the White House but both Houses of Congress in the 1952 Elections.  In 1968, Richard Nixon rode into power after growing public opposition to the Vietnam War.  And in 1980, although there were many economic problems facing the country, the Iranian Hostage Crisis sealed Jimmy Carter’s fate.  In 1992, after George H.W. Bush had seen his presidential approval ratings jump to 90% following the Gulf War, he could not even muster 40% against Bill Clinton.

I think the Republicans are on to something.  In tough economic times, only one thing will decide the 2012 Elections: an overall improving economy and a meaningful reduction in the unemployment rate.  No amount of success in Libya or helping Japan avoid a nuclear meltdown will politically help the Democratic Party.  History suggests otherwise.  Even so, this relentless barrage by the GOP must be countered as effectively as Democrats in Wisconsin have done so. By unifying and strongly resisting their opponents, they have put Wisconsin Republicans on the defensive.  The spillover effect may well take place in other states like Ohio and Michigan, creating additional problems for Republicans in power in those states.  

One would think that this unnecessary focus on investigating Muslim-Americans by Peter King is an isolated incident.  It is not.  As pointed out in two recent posts on the front page — here and here — Republicans are busy on several fronts trying to gin up anger against Muslim-Americans amongst their base.  

As you will see in this diary, most of the editorial cartoonists had scathing remarks for the Grand Inquisitor who called these phony hearings.  To say that Congressman Peter King (R-NY) was criticized for his McCarthy-like tactics is to understate the graphical beating he’s taken from these cartoonists.

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Mark Streeter, Savannah Morning News, Buy this cartoon

Martin Kozlowski,, Buy this cartoon

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Rob Rogers

Islamophobia by Rob Rogers,, see reader comments in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Rogers channels Herblock — the late, great editorial cartoonist of the Washington Post — in going after Peter King and his sleazy tactics to demonize an entire community of millions of American-Muslims

Just when you thought the dark days of the McCarthy era were way behind us, Republican congressman Peter King begins holding hearings on the “radicalization of Muslim Americans.”  Naturally, we all want our government to be diligently rooting out all kinds of terrorism at home and abroad, but to single out Muslims is wrong.  By not including all homegrown terror groups (Ku Klux Klan, Skinheads, Militias, etc.), King’s effort looks like a witch hunt and sends the wrong message to those in the Muslim community who are helping in the fight against terror.

One of my heroes in the editorial cartooning field is famed Washington Post cartoonist Herb Block, or Herblock.  He is credited with coining the phrase “McCarthyism.”  Over a half century ago, Herblock drew one of the quintessential editorial cartoons of the McCarthy era.  Rather than try to improve on his perfect cartoon, I decided to pay homage to Herblock and his message that is as poignant today as it was in 1949.

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The Herblock cartoon that Rogers referred to above shows the extent to which Senator Joe McCarthy (R-WI) was willing to go in the 1950’s to further his political career while actively engaging in destroying the careers and lives of countless others


In the aftermath of World War II, Americans reacted with dismay as relations between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated, the Russians imposed communist control over much of Eastern Europe, and China was on the verge of going communist.  

People worried that communists might try to subvert schools, labor unions, and other institutions.  Government agencies and private groups began to look for evidence of subversive activity.  In this climate of fear and suspicion, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, which Herb Block had opposed since its inception in the 1930s, became active.  And in 1950, a young senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, seeking political gain, began a well-publicized campaign using smear tactics, bullying and innuendo to identify and purge communists and “fellow travelers” in government.  Herb Block recognized the danger to civil liberties posed by such activities and warned of them in his work.  He coined the phrase “McCarthyism” in his cartoon for March 29, 1950, naming the era just weeks after Senator McCarthy’s spectacular pronouncement that he had in his hand a list of communists in the State Department.  His accusations became headline news, vaulting him into the national political spotlight.  For four years McCarthy attacked communism, while in his cartoons Herb Block relentlessly attacked his heavy-handed tactics.  In June 1954, McCarthy was censured and in December condemned by the Senate.

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Chan Lowe

Chan Lowe,, see reader comments in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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Lowe destroys the arguments used by Peter King to justify these hearings and essentially calls King an opportunist, racist, and a demagogue

House Muslim Hearings

There are two kinds of “American Way.”  The one we prefer to dwell upon is the one based on idealistic principles like fairness, equality, and opportunity. The Bill of Rights embodies this kind of American Way.  It’s the kind that prompts a tightening of the throat when we hear God Bless America being sung.

The other is the characterization we all too often tend to slide into as a nation: vindictive, xenophobic, paranoid, isolationist, racist, willfully ignorant.

While our better sides define our nationhood by a concept and not by race, ethnicity, religion or culture, our worse sides find that we need an “other” to demonize in order to achieve that warm “e pluribus unum” feeling. There was a time when the “other” was black, and we repressed him.  Or he was an Indian, and we massacred him.  Or he was a Communist, and we ruined him professionally and personally.  Now, our most convenient goat has become the American Muslim.

Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, with his hearings on the so-called radicalization of American Muslims, is poised to follow in the footsteps of Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) — whose tactics against suspected Communists were so ruthless they earned him an “ism” after his name.  Congressman King ought to be ashamed, but that would be to credit him with an awareness of his actions in the context of the darker side of our history that he surely does not possess.

King, sadly, has fallen prey to the other “American Way.”  It’s easy and tempting for the rest of us to do the same.  Let us hope, for all our sakes, that the better angels of our nature haven’t abandoned us.

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I hope you enjoy this week’s edition.  As I mentioned above, I’ll post a few more editorial cartoons in the comments section of the diary.  I will try my best to write the next diary (with Libya and Japan the main focus) as soon as time permits.  Comments are encouraged.  Thanks.

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1. Cartoons of the Week

Chan Lowe

Chan Lowe,, see reader comments in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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Lowe is sick and tired of birthers and their ilk.  He urges Republican leaders to do something about this anti-intellectual and paranoid behavior displayed by many of their supporters

The Tsunami… What Really Happened

One of the oddities about listening to the utterances of people like Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich when they address friendly crowds is that they can say the most preposterous things, and no one among their nodding listeners ever steps up to correct them, or bursts out laughing at their inanity.

Either the crowds, too, are ignorant and selective in applying their moral standards (Imagine if Obama had tried the “passion for my country” line), or they’re just dittosheep who bleat to the tune of Rush Limbaugh and the other right-wing broadcast candy.  Those who dare to speak the truth will be cast out.  This blind acceptance may get the more interesting candidates a long way in the primaries, but historical gaffes like the Founding Fathers managing to eliminate slavery long before the Civil War was fought won’t cut it with independents.  They don’t respect the concept of ideological purity, which is why they call themselves independents, and are (we hope) more clear-eyed in their judging of competency than the orthodox faithful.  However one feels about Barack Obama, one cannot accuse him of being ignorant or in possession of an incurious mind.

The old polling question, “Which candidate would you rather have a beer with,” should be accompanied by another: “Which candidate would you want representing your country at the next G8 summit of world leaders?”

Matt Bors

Matt Bors, (Idiot Box), see reader comments on the Bors Blog

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When Mike Huckabee or any other destructively dumb leader on the Right make paranoid statements about where Obama grew up, where he was born, how his relatives indoctrinated him, or how he was brainwashed by hearing the Muslim call to prayer, it is because you can’t call black people “niggers” anymore to sell your books.

Mike Huckabee might not personally hate black people, but he’s pandering to the most vile elements in the electorate with code words to drum up resentment and fear of the Other.  It’s called the Southern Strategy and it appears it will once again be fully employed in the next presidential race.

Bors echoes Lowe in his distaste for racists and calls out Mike Huckabee for his despicable behavior

Scapegoating an Entire Community

Peter King Connects The Dots by RJ Matson, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Buy this cartoon

Pete King, Muslims, and the IRA by John Cole, Scranton Times-Tribune, Buy this cartoon

The Trifecta: Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown

Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail, (formerly of The State, SC)

Steve Breen

Steve Breen, (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Humanitarian Intervention or Regime Change in Libya?

No Fly Zone by Emad Hajjaj (Jordan), Buy this cartoon

Libyan No-fly Zone by Dave Granlund,, Buy this cartoon

What’s Next in Wisconsin?

Anti-Union Goon Scott Walker by Taylor Jones,, Buy this cartoon

Anti-Union Movement by Mike Keefe, Denver Post, Buy this cartoon

An Economy on the Mend?

Mike Luckovich

Mike Luckovich, (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Bruce Beattie

Bruce Beattie, (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Higher Gas Prices: A Drain on the Recovering Economy

Chip Bok

Chip Bok,

Jeff Koterba, Omaha World Herald, Buy this cartoon

Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Aflac, and the Health Insurance Industry

Mark Streeter, Savannah Morning News, Buy this cartoon

Matt Bors

Matt Bors,, see reader comments on the Bors Blog

Problem Child

Obnoxious comedian Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the spokesduck for Aflac after a series of cringe-worthy tweets he rapidly deleted from his feed.  Most people agreed they were in bad taste, but then I wondered: isn’t making a butt load of money voicing the mascot of a for-profit insurance agency kind in bad taste as well?

Since these types of jokes are Gottfried’s bread and butter, the whole affair begs the question of who Aflac thought they were hiring in the first place.  But those saying Gilbert should get his job back miss the point.  Aflac doesn’t care about supporting comedians or free speech.  They exist to make money for their shareholders by providing people supplemental insurance and doing everything that they are legally allowed to do to hold on to the money they are given.  They employ complicated calculations to determine the risk and profitability of insuring potential clients, and they made a very simple calculation with Gottfried: firing their spokesman for offensive jokes ridiculing people in a country where they do a lot of business would end up being more profitable than not firing him.

Bors stating what really motivates large corporations

Distorted Free Speech and the Westboro Baptist Church

Nick Anderson

In the Spirit of Free Speech… by Nick Anderson,, see reader comments in the Houston Chronicle

Westboro Baptist Church by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, Buy this cartoon

The Emerging 2012 GOP Field of Pretenders

Another Republican Presidential Exploratory Committee by RJ Matson, Roll Call, Buy this cartoon

Clay Bennett

The Pit Crew by Clay Bennett,, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Newt Gingrich: American Patriot Extraordinaire

Newt, Newt, Newt by Bruce Plante, see the large number of reader comments in Tulsa World

Mike Luckovich

Mike Luckovich, (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Going After a Revered National Institution

Jeff Darcy, Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Buy this cartoon

Jimmy Margulies, New Jersey Record, Buy this cartoon

Choosing Big Oil Over Big Bird

Drew Sheneman

Drew Sheneman, (Newark Star-Ledger)

John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Buy this cartoon

President Obama: Trying to Negotiate a Large Number of Difficult Domestic and International Issues

Jerry Holbert

Jerry Holbert, (Boston Herald)

Clay Jones, Freelance-Star (Fredericksburg, VA), Buy this cartoon

The National Rifle Association (NRA) and Guns

Obama and Guns by David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Star, Buy this cartoon

Matt Bors

Matt Bors,, see reader comments on the Bors Blog

Stilt Magz®

Here’s one I’ve had in the hopper that might seem oddly timed given all the news events worth commenting on this week. (I’ll get to them.)  I originally drew this after the Tucson shooting, then bumped it for Egypt cartoons, then it was being held for consideration by a magazine that ultimately didn’t run with it, and now I’m dropping it off here hoping it is somewhat amusing.

Bors commenting on the above cartoon and the absurdity of existing gun-owning laws

Silvio Berlusconi: The Loutish Italian Casanova

Silvio Berlusconi by Martin Sutovec (Slovakia), Buy this cartoon

Berlusconi and the Politics of ‘bunga bunga’ by David Horsey,

see reader comments in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

(click link to enlarge cartoon)

Shutting Down the Government and Gutting Social Security: They Better Proceed Carefully and Cautiously

March Budget Madness by RJ Matson, Roll Call, Buy this cartoon

Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley, (New Orleans Times-Picayune)

Pentagon Psy-Ops and Preserving the Military Industrial Complex

Chan Lowe

Chan Lowe, (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Army Psy-Ops Mind Games

When Rolling Stone broke the story about a U.S. Army general in Afghanistan deploying his psychological warfare specialists to brainwash visiting members of congress, there was a good deal of reference made on TV news shows to The Manchurian Candidate.

Anyone old enough to remember when the Chinese were our sworn enemies rather than our bankers recalls the general creepiness we all felt about the secretive Middle Kingdom. When the novel and movie came out that suggested the Chinese practiced mind control, it struck a paranoid nerve.

Whether or not the Army really tried to persuade pols like Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain to send in more troops (as if the latter needed persuading), any revulsion and outrage we feel is due to the fact that they may have been subjected to nefarious head games as part of the process.

In fact, just about all of our politicians are in thrall to outside parties whose interests often do not coincide with those of the American people; for us, the difference appears to lie in the methodology of the manipulation.  As long as there is money involved in “owning” a member of congress, it’s a legitimate transaction.  The congressman or senator is free to exercise his or her free will in accepting the money and screwing the public.  Evidently, the people are not surprised or offended by this.  Rather than outrage, they greet the news with a shrug.

This is the only logical conclusion one can come to, because otherwise these members of congress wouldn’t keep getting reelected.  But when money isn’t part of the equation, as in the Army case, it gives us the willies.  It suggests that our elected representatives are blindly responding to someone’s Pavlovian bell.  I know there’s a difference between the two methods in terms of effect. I just can’t figure out what it is.

Lowe isn’t surprised a bit at the Pentagon’s efforts to “persuade” Members of Congress to support its many missions

Pat Oliphant, Washington Post Comics/Universal Press Syndicate

(click link to enlarge cartoon)

Pope Benedict XVI and Controversy: Never Far Apart

Exoneration by Steve Greenberg, Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Buy this cartoon

The Pope and Condoms by Jozef Danglar Gertli (Slovakia), Buy this cartoon

March Madness Comes in Different Forms

Marshall Ramsey, Clarion Ledger (Jackson, MS), Buy this cartoon

Cal Grondahl, Utah Standard Examiner, Buy this cartoon

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  1. … as only Lloyd Dangle could graphically explain it.  Make no mistake about it.  These Republicans are out to destroy the middle class and the present Democratic Administration.

    Lloyd Dangle, Troubletown, Buy this cartoon

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    More editorial cartoons coming in the diary itself as well as some in comments.  Tips and the like here.  Thanks.  

  2. …in the Kos annual awards?  I voted for you, but don’t go there enough to know how you did.

  3. Thanks ek, for promoting this diary both here and over at The Stars Hollow Gazette.

    Here’s one about the plight of the working classes in the State of Wisconsin.

    Don Wright

    Don Wright, (Tribune Media Services)

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