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The Week in Editorial Cartoons – In Corporations We Trust


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(noon. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Crossposted at Daily Kos

THE WEEK IN EDITORIAL CARTOONS

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.

:: ::



John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune, Buy this cartoon

Note: Some of you had asked me to try and post this weekly diary following the MA Special Election and the Supreme Court’s decision on corporate money.  These two events resulted in several fantastic cartoons over the past few days.

Time permitting, I’ll try to post another such diary in the next 2-3 weeks.  Thanks for reading.

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1. CARTOONS OF THE WEEK

For several months most editorial cartoonists lampooned the Republican Right for their wingnutty behavior during the ongoing debate on Healthcare Reform.  While Republicans are still the target of ridicule and criticism for a variety of reasons, so is the Democratic Party which, until now, had largely escaped criticism so long as it was perceived to be trying to change the country’s direction.  

After Martha Coakley’s loss to Scott Brown last week in the Massachusetts Special Election, the Democrats are being portrayed as inept, unmotivated, and unable to push their legislative agenda through Congress. However, the Supreme Court of the United States may have provided Democrats with an opportunity to assume the populist mantle.  MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann referred to it as our Dred Scott Decision, one that led in part to inflaming racial tensions and, eventually, the four year Civil War.  The court’s decision to open the money floodgates into the political arena came under heavy fire with many cartoonists characterizing it as a severe blow to the notion of democracy as we’ve known it until now.  How Democrats counter and campaign against this legal decision in the coming months may well determine the results of November’s elections.  Will reviving the economy and jobs creation be their sole focus as they try to minimize Republican gains?  Will they portray Republicans as captives of Big Business and unsympathetic to the interests of the middle and lower classes?  Politics and policy go hand in hand.  It is an old axiom of domestic politics that you cannot do policy unless you do politics right.  Clearly, a change is needed.

President Barack Obama’s first anniversary in office didn’t go unnoticed but his agenda seems to be in peril unless Congressional Democrats can resolve their differences and produce some tangible victories for the president, such as enacting meaningful Healthcare Reform and soon.  Will it happen?  Past trends cause one to be skeptical although all sides insist that they will get it done.

The tragedy in Haiti — and one that resulted in Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh making complete fools of themselves with bigoted remarks — is high on the cartoonists’ radar.  Conan O’Brien’s departure from The Tonight Show and tussles with NBC executives and Jay Leno also resulted in some hilarious cartoons.

Hope you enjoy this week’s cartoons as much as I did.



Mike Keefe, Denver Post, Buy this cartoon



Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Buy this cartoon

What… no cake???

Mike Luckovich

Mike Luckovich, Comics.com

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

Bruce Beattie

Bruce Beattie, Comics.com

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press



RJ Matson, Roll Call, Buy this cartoon



RJ Matson, Roll Call

Chris Britt

Chris Britt, Comics.com, see reader comments in the State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois)

Clay Bennett

Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press

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2. Supreme Foul-Up: Déjà vu All Over Again

Ed Stein

Ed Stein, Comics.com

:: ::

Freelance Editorial Cartoonist Ed Stein (one of my favorites) — and formerly of the Rocky Mountain News which folded in February 2009 — explains this horrendous Supreme Court decision and its ramifications for our democracy.  He doesn’t pull any punches when he suggests that previous Republican presidents had made certain appointments to the court with such a legal decision in mind down the road and one that tilts the balance in favor of private (rather than public) interests

In a sweeping decision that overturned more than a century of precedent, a bitterly divided Supreme Court ruled yesterday that corporations and unions were no longer subject to campaign spending limits, giving them the go-ahead to spend unlimited amounts of money supporting candidates of their choice.  Abandoning all pretense of judicial modesty and restraint, the Roberts Court took a relatively innocuous case and used it to rewrite 100 years of law.  This is a truly horrific decision, extending sweeping free speech rights to corporate entities that have been enjoyed up to now only by individuals.  If you thought lobbyists and special interests had too much power in Washington before, you should be dismayed by this decision.  Plus, the money is likely to flow unevenly, much more of it going to Republican Party candidates who unabashedly favor corporate rights over those of individuals.  This is, of course, why a court appointed primarily by Republican presidents was so eager to game the system even more than it already is.  So much for a government of the people, by the people and for the people, unless the people in question happen to be the ones who get seven figure bonuses. And good luck to the rest of us.



RJ Matson, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Buy this cartoon

Bruce Beattie

Bruce Beattie, Comics.com



Stuart Carlson, Universal Press Syndicate



Corporate Political Speech by Nate Beeler, Washington Examiner, Buy this cartoon



Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers, Comics.com



David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Star, Buy this cartoon



Tom Toles, Washington Post

Jeff Stahler

Jeff Stahler, Comics.com



Jeff Danziger, New York Times Syndicate



Tony Auth, Philadelphia Inquirer



Pat Oliphant, Universal Press Syndicate

:: ::

If the Supreme Court keeps it up, one could imagine a future like this…



Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

3. MA Special Election: Heckuva Job, Brownie

Ed Stein

Ed Stein, Comics.com

:: ::

The Special Election in Massachusetts has been vigorously debated here since last Tuesday and while it is a setback for the Democratic Party in the short term, it is unclear to me if it will have lingering effects until the November 2010 Congressional Elections.  In 1994, Democrats were blindsided and truly surprised that they’d lost both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on election night that year.  To the extent this disaster serves as a warning to all Democrats — in Congress, the White House, and all party supporters, including all of us — it is probably better that it happened in January rather than closer to the election.  If complacency or disappointment was setting in, this might serve as a wake-up call to every member of the Democratic Party.    

Ed Stein again hits the nail on the head when he states that the prolonged nature of the Healthcare Reform debate only contributed to making it more unpopular with the public.  The teabaggers and birthers who made loud noises last summer may have drowned out any rational policy discussion.  Even as Stein implicitly blames them, if the Democrats screw up, where else can the public turn to except the opposition party? That’s the downside of having a two-party system but that’s all we have now

The Democrats were blindsided yesterday in Massachusetts, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.  They have badly misjudged the mood of the American people for months, stringing out the health care debate ad infinitum while ignoring the growing anger over the slow pace of the recovery, the loss of jobs, and the obscene unfairness of the Wall Street bonuses.  I don’t know what happens to people once they get to Washington, but they seem to lose the ability to understand anything that goes on outside the beltway.  Health care reform is a must, but the long dither and the increasing complexity of the bill, not to mention the pork, special favors and lack of cost controls in the current bill have made it unpopular with the public.  I don’t know that people actually oppose the bill so much as they have come to view the single-minded attention to it as an unwelcome distraction from more important things-namely easing the economic pain of so many millions.

The irony of the two-party system is that if the electorate has buyer’s remorse, they have only one place to go-back to the party that created so many of the problems to begin with.  The Republicans smell blood in the water, but they shouldn’t be complacent, either.  So far they’ve offered nothing but total opposition to anything Obama proposes.  It’s still a long way to November, and the mood could shift again if they have no program other than more of the same.

Gary Varvel

Gary Varvel, Comics.com



Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon



Matt Wuerker, Politico



Taylor Jones, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

Jeff Stahler

Jeff Stahler, Comics.com

Jerry Holbert

Jerry Holbert, Comics.com

Steve Kelley

Steve Lelley, Comics.com

Matt Bors

Matt Bors, Comics.com

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Note: This cartoon by Bors may appear to be a bit harsh and maybe even insulting to Teddy’s legacy.  Even so, I’m including it as the last frame certainly has a pointed message.

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David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Star

John Sherffius

John Sherffius, Comics.com

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4. Republican Revival or a Temporary Boost from Massachusetts?

Chris Britt

Chris Britt, Comics.com, see reader comments in the State Journal-Register (Springfield, Illinois)

:: ::

Absent positive policy proposals, will blocking the president’s agenda and coming across as obstructionists be sufficient for the GOP to propel itself past the finish line and regain both legislative chambers in November 2010 as they did in 1994?  The polls certainly are encouraging for them and according to a new Public Policy Polling survey (via Political Wire) released today shows that

Republicans lead Democrats in the generic congressional ballot, 45% to 42%.

“Their advantage is a function of the same formula that has brought them victories in Virginia, New Jersey, and Massachusetts of late: a double digit lead with independents (43-31), and a slightly more unified party base (87% of GOP voters say they’ll support their party compared to 84% of Democrats.)”  

As things stand now, Political analyst Charlie Cook sees it this way  

“The last six months, since we began writing about impending Democratic problems in August, has been like watching a car wreck in slow motion. We keep watching, anticipating that one of the drivers will swerve or hit the brakes, but they never do. The White House and Democratic Congressional leaders have done nothing to halt the impending collision.”

“Things could change over the next nine months, but we have seen little to convince us that the trajectory of this election is changing at all.”

Cook’s latest forecast suggests that Republicans will make a net gain of 25-35 seats in the House and pick up between 5-7 seats in the Senate.

Henry Payne

Henry Payne, Comics.com



Ben Sargent, Universal Press Syndicate



Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

Nick Anderson

Obstruction by Nick Anderson, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Houston Chronicle



Mike Keefe, Denver Post, Buy this cartoon

Jeff Stahler

Jeff Stahler, Comics.com

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5. Healthcare Reform: The “Core” Problem



RJ Matson, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

Prior to the MA Special Election, it was assumed that it was only a matter of time that some version of Healthcare Reform would be signed into law by President Obama.  After last Tuesday’s election results added to and created more uncertainty, major Democrats indicate that they will enact this legislation.  Predictions, though, change every day and, by now, many voters are in the “I’ll believe it when it happens” mode

“Democratic leaders in Congress insist they will pass a health care reform bill.  They just have no idea how or when they will do it,” Roll Call (subscription only) reports.

“After last week’s disastrous defeat in Massachusetts shattered their 60-vote Senate supermajority, Democrats floundered and appeared trapped between two political realities.  If they don’t pass a reform bill, they will have failed a key test of their ability to govern and face a dispirited base and potentially catastrophic losses in November.  But Members also fear that moving too quickly or aggressively will turn off independents and likewise lead to an electoral drubbing.”

Meanwhile, in an interview by ABC News, Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) had advice for how to handle Republican opposition: “Make them filibuster.  Make them go before America people.  Make the American people look at a modern day spectacle of what a filibuster would entail.  I think it’s time to call their bluff.”



Tom Toles, Washington Post

Bruce Beattie

Bruce Beattie, Comics.com

Bill Schorr

Bill Schorr, Comics.com

Marshall Ramsey

Marshall Ramsey, Comics.com

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, Comics.com

Signe Wilkinson

Signe Wilkinson, Comics.com



Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune



Steve Greenberg, Freelance Cartoonist, Los Angeles, Buy this cartoon

6. President Barack Obama: Rookie No More



David Fitzsimmons, Arizona Star, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

The New York Times surveys the political landscape and reports that President Obama “has been shifting his rhetoric lately to adopt a more populist tone” as the paper highlights some proposals from the upcoming State of the Union Address

President Obama will propose in his State of the Union address a package of modest initiatives intended to help middle-class families, including tax credits for child care, caps on some student loan payments and a requirement that companies let workers save automatically for retirement, senior administration officials said Sunday.

By focusing on what one White House official calls “the sandwich generation” – struggling families squeezed between sending their children to college and caring for elderly parents – Mr. Obama hopes to use his speech on Wednesday to demonstrate that he understands the economic pain of ordinary Americans.  The proposals also include expanded tax credits for retirement savings and money for programs to help families care for elderly relatives.

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For an interesting article, you might be interested in this from today’s Washington Post in which the reporter points out that the internet-savvy president follows “some commentators whose views he’s interested in, and he’ll read blog items.”

Chris Britt

Chris Britt, Comics.com

(The “Timmy” in the above cartoon is Tim Davlin, Mayor of Springfield, Illinois)

Jeff Stahler

Jeff Stahler, Comics.com

Matt Bors

Matt Bors, Comics.com

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Bors explained the above cartoon on his blog

Barack Obama was sworn in one year ago to much fanfare.  I wonder if liberals would be so forgiving of the president’s circumstances and disastrous inheritance if John McCain had won.  I wonder if conservatives would be frothing at the mouth if it were John McCain continuing to spend future money.

Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers, Comics.com

Jeff Stahler

Jeff Stahler, Comics.com

:: ::

7. Haiti: What is To Be Done?



Bob Englehart, Hartford Courant, Buy this cartoon

:: :

Bob Englehart, the independent-leaning editorial cartoonist for the Hartford Courant, has some unusual and unconventional ideas about how to help Haiti in the long-run

This is the best part of a major natural disaster: the beginning, when emotions are running high and the money flows like water.  The test comes one month, maybe three months from now, when we’ve reached our limit of caring.

The U.S. federal government has been deeply involved in Haiti before.  Both Clinton and W were there fighting the good fight for democracy and freedom, but eventually they were distracted by wars or other major events and problems.  It’s understandable, though.  Haiti is not the United States’ problem alone.

Read the rest

Steve Breen

Steve Breen, Comics.com



Brian Fairrington, Cagle Cartoons, Buy this cartoon



Paresh Nath, Khaleej Times, UAE, Buy this cartoon



Pavel Constantin, Freelance Cartoonist, Romania, Buy this cartoon



Mike Keefe, Denver Post, Buy this cartoon



Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.com, Buy this cartoon



Frederick Deligne, Nice-Matin, France, Buy this cartoon



Cam Cardow, Ottawa Citizen, Buy this cartoon

Gary Varvel

Gary Varvel, Comics.com

Marshall Ramsey

Marshall Ramsey, Comics.com

:: ::

8. The Economy: Will Main Street Recover?



Victims of Wall Street by Dave Granlund, Politicalcartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

In addition to enacting Healthcare Reform (no easy task), the emerging Democratic mantra from now until the Congressional elections has to be, “Jobs, jobs, jobs.” Absent an improvement in the economy and signs of optimism, this will be a very difficult election for the Democratic Party.  As has been pointed out in several diaries over the past week, if a no-name teabagger like Scott Brown can capture Teddy Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat in, of all places, Massachusetts, anything is possible.  In his recent interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Obama acknowledged that he had been too engrossed in policy making (at the expense of politics) and not done a good enough job in conveying his message to the American public.  Translation: The president needs to somehow capture the magic of the 2008 Campaign and get tougher in his dealings with Republicans.  Enough of bipartisanship.

How to convince a woefully misinformed public?

A new CNN/Opinion Research survey finds that 63% of the public thinks that projects in the economic stimulus plan passed last year “were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit,” with 36% saying those projects will benefit the economy.

Nearly three out of four Americans think the money has simply been wasted.

Of course, of the $787 billion in the package, $288 billion was for tax cuts to 95% of all Americans and $275 billion was for states to prevent cuts in public services.  Most of the remaining money dedicated for specific “shovel-ready projects” hasn’t even been spent yet because the projects were not “shovel-ready.”

Joe Klein: “It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens.  It is impossible to be a citizen if you don’t make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government.  It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.”



Milt Priggee, miltpriggee.com, Buy this cartoon

Bruce Beattie



Bruce Beattie, Comics.com

Signe Wilkinson

Signe Wilkinson, Comics.com

Steve Breen

Steve Breen, Comics.com



Petar Pismestrovic, Kleine Zeitung, Austria, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

9. Conan O’Brien vs Jay Leno: “Heeeere’s Jay!”



Rob Tornoe, Caglecartoons.com, Buy this cartoon

:: ::

This whole mess has been a public relations fiasco for NBC.  Johnny Carson, who hosted The Tonight Show for 30 years from 1962-1992 with grace, dignity, and style, is probably turning over in his grave.

For all of his talents and previous accomplishments, Conan O’Brien didn’t even last one year as the show’s host.  His last show, though, had huge ratings

Not surprisingly, the last edition of The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien was a ratings magnet for the ailing NBC.  The comedian, who talked about how he “did it my way” and did not “regret a second,” earned a whopping 7.0 rating/16 share in 55 of the country’s metered markets (the most immediate numbers available).  Ratings for his fellow latenight hosts didn’t even come close: The Late Show with David Letterman averaged a mere 2.5/5, while Nightline earned a 2.8/6, and Jimmy Kimmel Live, a 1.3/4.  Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, however, was able to draft off of O’Brien’s success: his show averaged a respectible 3.3/10, easily beating Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (1.5/4).

Conan OBrien’s final monologue

Jerry Holbert

Jerry Holbert, Comics.com

Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers, Comics.com

Mike Luckovich

Mike Luckovich, Comics.com

Paul Szep

Paul Szep, Comics.com

Steve Sack

Steve Sack, Comics.com

Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail, Comics.com

Steve Benson

Steve Benson, Comics.com

:: ::

10. Sports Talk: Who Dat? The New Orleans Super Aints Saints

  VS  

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Former Saints Coach Jim Mora’s famous rant about “Playoffs?  Who’s talking about playoffs” is now history.  The New Orleans Saints marched into Super Bowl XLIV with an exciting 31-28 OT victory over QB Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings.  QB Drew Brees and the Saints will collide with QB Peyton Manning and the powerful Indianapolis Colts in Miami, Florida on Sunday, February 7th.  The Colts may be slightly favored but don’t be surprised if the Saints pull off an upset.  It should be an exciting game.

What is “Who dat?”  For you non-football fans

Who dat? is the name of a chant of support by fans of the New Orleans Saints, an American football team.  The entire chant is: “Who dat?  Who dat?  Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?”

The chant of “Who Dat?” originated in minstrel shows and vaudeville acts of the late 1800s and early 1900s, and was then taken up by jazz and big band performers in the 1920s and 30s.

Back in WWII, US fighter squadron pilots would often fly under radio silence.  But things get lonely up there in the cockpit, so after a while there’d be a crackle of static as someone keyed his mike.  Then a disembodied voice would reply, “Who dat?”  An answer would come, “Who dat say who dat?”  And another, “Who dat say who dat say who dat?”  After a few rounds of this, the squadron commander would grab his microphone and yell, “Cut it out, you guys!”  A few moments of silence.  Then… “Who dat?”

Steve Kelley

Steve Kelley, Comics.com

Marshall Ramsey

Marshall Ramsey, Comics.com

Drew Litton

Drew Litton, Comics.com

:: ::

For the first time since 1980, the NFL Pro Bowl will be played somewhere other than Honolulu.  The annual contest between the AFC’s and NFC’s best will take place Sunday, Jan. 31st at Dolphin Stadium in South Florida.  Obviously, that means that any player on the Saints or Colts named to the Pro Bowl will not play in this game (to avoid injury) as it is being played before the Super Bowl.

Is that a good idea and should all these players miss out on the fun?

Drew Litton

Drew Litton, Comics.com

Drew Litton

Drew Litton, Comics.com

:: ::

11. Final Thoughts

Rob Rogers

Rob Rogers, Comics.com

:: ::

Why do so many millions of Americans support avowed bigots and racists like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson?  Is it that by listening to their outrageous broadcasts, these people simply want someone else to public express feelings that they secretly harbor?  I’ve never quite understood it.

:: ::



Matt Bors, campusprogress.org

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A Note About the Diary Poll

Nick Anderson

Nick Anderson, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Houston Chronicle

:: ::

Over the past many months as the healthcare reform debate has raged on these pages, some of you have posted diaries detailing the trauma you faced when either you or a loved one fell seriously ill.  In the Quilt Diaries I’ve seen some heartbreaking comments over the past several weeks.

So, as I ask in the poll, have you or a family member ever had a medical emergency which caused substantial financial hardship?  If you did, how did you cope with it?  If you became the primary caregiver to a parent or elderly relative, how did you find the time to deal with it?

If you have additional insights, please share them in the comments section.  

Is the Pony/Pie/Hide rating system too cutsie?

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  1. JekyllnHyde



    Clay Bennett, Comics.com, see reader comments in the Chattanooga Times Free Press, cartoon submitted by Sandy on Signal

    :: ::

    Tips, recommends, and the like here.  Thanks.

    ps: please see my comments in the DUPLICATE copy of this essay.  Thanks.

  2. Edger

    Democrats and Republicans both hate the Democrats in Congress and the White House?

    Here’s a thought. Maybe if Democrats in Congress and the White House create and pass a good universal health care plan in the next couple of months so that people have time to figure out how good it is for them before November they won’t get creamed out of existence in the midterms.

  3. JekyllnHyde

    … for promoting this essay.

    Hope you’re doing well too.

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