Saturday, July 02, 2022

Cartoon Saturday

June recedes into the rear view mirror, and good riddance ...

The Supreme Court ended its current, disastrous term on a much-needed high note, with the swearing in of judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the newest Justice; Russian cruise missile strikes on apartment blocks in the Ukrainian city of Odessa killed at least 20 people; Britney Griner, the WNBA star held by Russian authorities since February, has gone on trial in Russia on charges of drug smuggling; in devastating testimony - under oath - before the January 6th Committee, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson painted a horrifying picture of a president out of control and a White House staff unwilling to confront him; and two Las Vegas police departments have jointly paid $90,000 to a black man they arrested and held on a warrant issued for a white man with the same name.

Once again this week, I bow to my inherent laziness and decide on a random set of cartoons, rather than going to the trouble of deciding on a theme. Sue me.

I feel the same way lately ...  

Hey, it worked for Vlad ...

Wise words from someone who knows ...

Truth in picnic food advertising ...

The others matter less and less as time goes on ...

Someone has found his marketing niche ...

Yep, I can relate to this one ...

I ask myself this question a lot ...

This one, too ...

By now, he must be the only person in the country who doesn't know ...

And that's it for this week's Cartoon Saturday. It's the best I can do to help you get over the stress of living in 2022 America.

Have a good day and a great holiday weekend. Be safe, and plan to vote in November like the country depended on it, because it does.

More thoughts coming.


Friday, July 01, 2022

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2022

No problem with the selection this time, folks ... this time the award wrote itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, the award for

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2022

is presented to

Michael P. Flynn

Mr Flynn, a retired Army Lieutenant General who once commanded the Defense Intelligence Agency and later served briefly as Der Furor's National Security Advisor, has done much to destroy his dignity and honor in the service of a disastrous president, and has already received this award once before*. He reached a new low, however, when questioned under oath by Representative Liz Cheney during the inquiry into the attack on the US Capitol on January 6th, 2021.

"General Flynn, do you believe the violence on January 6 was justified?"

The general's lawyer asked "Can we have a minute?," and broke the video connection. They returned after a delay of a minute and 36 seconds, and the lawyer asked Representative Cheney to repeat the question.

Representative Cheney did so.

Gen Flynn's lawyer then asked Representative Cheney to clarify whether she meant the question legally or morally.

"I'm asking both," she replied.

It took another 14 seconds for Gen Flynn to reply, saying simply, "I said, I said the Fifth." 

Representative Cheney asked, "Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified morally?"

Gen Flynn replied, "Take the Fifth."

Representative Cheney then asked, "Do you believe the violence on January 6th was justified legally?"

Gen Flynn replied, "Fifth."

Finally, Representative Cheney asked, "Do you believe in the peaceful transition of power in the United States of America?"

Gen Flynn replied, "The Fifth."

Think about that for a moment, if you will.

A retired three-star general, the former National Security Advisor to the former President of the United States, who had already recommended that the former president impose martial law and use the American military to seize voting machines in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election, refused to say under oath whether the use of force to overthrow the government was justified. He further refused to say under oath whether he believed in the peaceful transition of power in this country ... something that has set us apart from most of the world for more than 200 years.

And he refused by invoking - as is his right - his constitutional protection from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment.

This is the oath of office that Gen Flynn and I each swore when we were commissioned:

“I, _____, do solemnly swear [or affirm] that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

At least one of us upheld their oath.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, the Right-Cheek Ass Clown for July, 2022, is Michael P. Flynn, a morally bankrupt man who has disgraced himself, his oath, and his uniform in the service of a would-be tyrant. Sadly, he will probably escape punishment for his actions, but his shameful conduct deserves the opprobrium and disgust of every American - particularly veterans and those in current military service.

Have a good day. Honor your oaths. 

More thoughts coming.


Monday, June 27, 2022

So, How's That Constitution Thing Working Out for You?

The 55 representatives - all of them male, all white and all privileged members of their society - who attended  the Constitutional Convention of 1789 drafted the United States Constitution to define the parameters of a new form of government for a new form of nation. 

The preamble to the Constitution reads:

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

So, how’s that working out now, 233 years after the representatives to the Constitutional Convention slapped each other on the back and went home? Let's see ...

“Form a More Perfect Union.” We survived the Civil War more or less intact, but the union today is being torn apart by political passions inflamed by the power-mad and the religion-blinded. At a time when the nation faces huge problems and perils at home and abroad, Congress is paralyzed by the ability of an angry minority party to heap sand in the legislative gears and prevent action on all but the most mundane of issues. The Blue and Gray states of antebellum America have given way to the Blue and Red states of modern America. 

“Establish Justice.” We have a larger proportion of our population in prison than any other nation. The degree and quality of justice one can expect is directly proportional to one’s ability to hire the largest number of the most expensive, most aggressive, most experienced, and least principled attorneys. If you are black, brown, or poor, good luck. And whether or not you agree with the freedoms once granted by the Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, consider that a strongly conservative Supreme Court has just ignored 50 years of precedent and - for the first time - actually removed a freedom we thought was guaranteed under the Constitution. And as if that weren't enough, consider that Justice Clarence Thomas went out of his way to write that the Supreme Court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold [which removed legal barriers to contraception], Lawrence [which guaranteed the right of privacy in sexual intimacy between consenting adults], and Obergefell [which required states to allow same-sex marriages and recognize those from other states]” - three cases dealing with Americans’ fundamental rights to privacy, due process and equal protection under the law. If you don't think justice can go backward, you're not paying attention.

“Insure Domestic Tranquility.” You might believe that the storming of the US Capitol by a crazed mob of Der Furor's supporters on January 6th, 2021, was a one-time thing, but I wouldn’t bet on it. When a large portion of the population is fired up by a monomaniac former president and his acolytes, Fox News, OAN, and Newsmax, and believes its political opposition is nothing more than satan-worshiping pedophiles hell-bent on destroying the nation, domestic tranquility is probably not insured.

“Provide for the Common Defence.” We have a hugely powerful military to protect us from external threats. Within our borders, however, we remain under threat from each other, exacerbated by a constitutional amendment that has made us the most heavily-armed citizens in the world, and animated by a belief that personal defense trumps all other rights and responsibilities. When angry militias are training in the wilderness, storming the Capitol, and continuing to openly advocate violence against the government, providing for the common defense takes on a different meaning.

“Promote the General Welfare.” Unless the general welfare runs contrary to the interests of big business and the wealthy, that is. Many Republicans favor doing away with what they disparagingly call the “administrative state” that ensures your welfare ... that you have safe drugs, wholesome food, reliable products, a stable (more or less) economy, safe working spaces, drinkable water, and breathable air. Good luck with all those if federal agencies lose the regulatory authorities that keep you safe and healthy.

“Secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Many people nowadays interpret “liberty” as meaning “my personal liberty," rather than "our shared liberty.” The Declaration of Independence speaks of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” as "unalienable rights," but your right to those things has become secondary to the perceived rights of those who want to do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, to anyone they choose. Our rights aren't unalienable after all ... just ask Clarence Thomas.

As a brand new Air Force Second Lieutenant in June of 1973, I swore this oath:

“I, Bilbo, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

I swore my oath to the Constitution ... not to any individual. I swore my oath to an idea and a set of fundamental principles, not to a president, king, or dictator, and not to a pope, an imam, a rabbi, or a patriarch.

Our poor, battered Constitution has served us pretty well for the last 233 years, but it's showing its weaknesses - not the least of which is how easily it can be subverted by those bold and wicked enough to openly subvert it. The weaknesses of the Constitution are, I believe, caused by the fact that its framers were honorable men who did not foresee the willingness of evil men (and women) to undermine the government for which the founding generation had fought and died.  

So, how's the Constitution working out for you? If you're smart, you won't take its words of freedom and justice for granted. You'll get out between now and November and look for candidates who are truly interested in upholding the grand words of the Preamble to the Constitution, who will work for all Americans, not just those of the preferred color (white), sex (male), or religion ("Christian"*). 

Vote as if your country's future depended on it. Because it does.

Have a good day. More thoughts coming.


* It should be noted that most present-day "Christians" have only a nodding relationship with the actual teachings of Christ.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Poetry Sunday

What are the things that keep you up at night? I grew out of my fear of vampires and wandering mummies long ago, but there are still some things that worry me ...

Middle-Class Blues
by Dennis O'Driscoll

He has everything.
A beautiful young wife.
A comfortable home.
A secure job.
A velvet three-piece suite.
A metallic-silver car.
A mahogany cocktail cabinet.
A rugby trophy.
A remote-controlled music centre.
A set of gold clubs under the hallstand.
A fair-haired daughter learning to walk.

What he is afraid of most
and what keeps him tossing some nights
on the electric underblanket,
listening to the antique clock
clicking with disapproval from the landing,
are the stories that begin:
He had everything.
A beautiful young wife.
A comfortable home.
A secure job.
Then one day.

Then one day. Pretty scary words, eh?

Have a good day. Be thankful for your good fortune while it lasts, as I do every single day. 

More thoughts coming.


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Cartoon Saturday

If ever there was a week you needed the lift of Cartoon Saturday, this was it.

In two incredible, incongruous rulings, the Supreme Court endangered our personal safety by strengthening gun rights and removed the right of women to exercise bodily autonomy; the House January 6th Committee heard devastating testimony about Der Furor's attempts to use the Department of Justice to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election; after weeks of savage bombardment by invading Russian forces, the Ukrainian defenders of the city of Severodonetsk were ordered to withdraw; and in Hardwick, Vermont, police attempting to arrest a man on assault and burglary charges were attacked by the suspect's father, who menaced the officers with a construction grade excavator before being subdued and arrested along with his son.

Today, because there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to the world, I offer a collection of random cartoons with no theme. Have at it ...

Yes, and they're primarily in red states ...  

How the world really works ...

If you're of my generation, you remember the drills when you hid under your desk in case of a Soviet nuclear attack, not a homicidal moron exercising his Holy Second Amendment rights ...

All too many people need a reminder to be courteous nowadays ...

Those problems would be gun violence, climate change, environmental pollution, etc, etc, ...

You saw this pretty clearly if you've been paying attention to the January 6th Committee hearings ...

What's in a name? ...

A shout to all my fellow Wordle Wonks ...

How the "legal" advisors to Der Furor operate ...

If you loved "Casablanca" and survived Covid, you'll appreciate this one ...

And that's it for this week's potpourri edition of Cartoon Saturday ... I hope it helped you get over the blazing insanity of the past week.

Have a good day and a great weekend, and be sure to come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then. 


Friday, June 24, 2022

Great Moments in Editing and Signage

Here we go again, Dear Readers - the last collection of editorial gems for June. Enjoy!

So, does it contain chicken kidneys or beef kidneys? ...

Do you suppose this menu features the chicken advertised in the previous picture? ...

We have enough trouble with people arguing about who gets to use which restrooms nowadays without adding to the confusion ...

Same issue as above, but with more professional signage ...

They're certainly smarter than supporters of Der Furor ...

I'm waiting to see how the curbside service works ...

I'd hate to be the person who had to pick the perp out of a lineup ...

Somewhere there's probably a very nervous fence trying to figure out how to sell this one ...

Republican voters have already voted, and agree Democrats shouldn't vote ...

And finally, my sister Lisa sent this one to me, with the comment that she's not very confident in their products. I wouldn't be, either ...

Have a good day and get ready for Cartoon Saturday! More thoughts then.


Monday, June 20, 2022

A Firefighter Summarizes the Problem

Many years ago I read "Report from Engine Company 82," the fascinating memoir by a New York City firefighter named Dennis Smith. It was a marvelous book that looked at the funny, sad, infuriating, and fascinating adventures of 20 years spent as a first responder. One of the things that I found interesting was his description of how often his crew would arrive at a fire, only to have their equipment stolen, or be pelted with rocks and bottles by some of the onlookers while they tried to fight the fire and save lives. He described the lesson he took away from these events in this quote that has stayed with me over the years:

“I used to believe that people who threw rocks at firemen were motivated by conditions - the lower depths of American society. I used to believe that the fundamental problems were housing and education, and that people would stop throwing rocks if they had a decent place to live and were given equal educational opportunities. But I don’t believe that anymore. That, to me, is prescribing for symptoms. The disease is more seriously latent, more pernicious than uncaring landlords, or bureaucratic, apathetic school officials. The malignancy lies in the guts of humankind at all levels. We have unlearned the value of a human life.”

We have unlearned the value of a human life.

That line summarizes where we remain today, 50 years after Dennis Smith published his memoir. A human life has less value than the guns and ammunition that are a holy sacrament to many of our fellow citizens. We have built up dense layers of emotional scar tissue from years of violent movies, television shows, and video games. We excuse the mass murder of children as "the price of freedom." "Christians" have deliberately abandoned the love and empathy of the New Testament for the self-righteous and angry thundering of the Old.

In the terms of the "pro-life" movement, the value of a human life can be compared to that of the shiny new car that loses value the moment you drive it off the dealer's lot.

We have unlearned the value of a human life.

And as far as I can see, we won't be re-learning it any time soon.

Have a good day. Value the right things.

More thoughts coming. 


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Fathers Day, 2022

If you were looking for Musical Sunday, don’t despair – I have my traditional (and slightly updated) tribute to fathers today, so you'll have to wait two weeks for your music fix. You'll survive.

Today is Fathers’ Day, the day we honor the man who contributed half of our chromosomes and many of the life lessons that shaped us into who we are.

Fathers don’t get the same degree of respect that mothers do. They work in design, rather than production, after all, and don’t earn the credit that mothers do for going through nine months of pregnancy followed by months of sleepless nights and years of worry. And truth be told, many fathers don’t earn that respect. For all too many men, fatherhood is an unfortunate side effect of good sex, and a child is an impediment to the enjoyment of life. For many men, fathering a lot of children by a lot of women is the imagined sign of a manly stud ... not of lives betrayed by a thoughtless ass who thinks with his willy instead of his brain and heart.

Luckily, though, there are many good men out there trying their best to be good fathers. It’s not an easy job, and not everyone is good at it ... but fortunately, enough do.

I have often reflected back on the course of my life, and have tried to be a better grandfather than I was a father. This is probably normal. You’ve seen more of life, and had more experiences – good and bad – to share. If you’re the grandfather, you get to be the gentle, wise, let-‘em-do-what-they-want fellow the grandchildren love to see, rather than the grouchy, tired father who has to put bread on the table, crack the whip, and enforce the discipline. You get all the joy of holding and loving the children with none of the negatives ... when the baby needs changing, for instance, there's none of that messy fuss - you just give her back to her mother. What's not to like?

I think that, from the father's perspective, we have our children too early in life. We're still learning how to be adults, and all of a sudden we're fathers, responsible for teaching our children all the lessons of life that we haven't even learned yet. Our children grow up as much in spite of our mistakes as because of our excellence in parenting.

When you get to be a father, you look at your own father differently. It was Mark Twain who supposedly once said, "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

It's true.

A good father, as I came in time to understand, is a gift beyond all price. The gold standard for fatherhood is, of course, my own father. He fought the Nazis** in the skies over World War II Europe, ran his own business, raised four children and buried one, and cared for mom through the long years of misery as Alzheimer's gradually destroyed the mind of the dynamic and witty woman he loved. Dad left us five years ago, and I no longer get to hear his jokes and stories and learn the lessons he still had to teach, yet he remains the man to whom I owe whatever shreds of honor, decency, and ... well ... manhood that I can claim.

This was the man who took the war in the air to the Nazis* in 1944 ...

After the war, he turned successful businessman, running his own photographic studio and drawing the attention of the ladies ...

In 1974, he was able to celebrate the birth of his first grandchild, Jason - who is now a father with four children of his own. Yes, the geek on the left is me, and Dad's mother - my paternal grandmother - is in the middle.

And the years rolled on ... here he is in December of 2013 at his 90th birthday party in Pittsburgh, two years before his death, surrounded by the friends, fishing partners, and family members who came out to honor him in spite of some really ghastly winter weather ...

I'd like to think I made him satisfied, if not proud.

It's politically correct nowadays to say that a child can grow up just fine in a household with same-sex parents, but you'll never be able to convince me that it's the same as being raised by a father and a mother who love each other, treat each other with dignity and respect, set a good example, teach their gender-specific life lessons, and subordinate their own dreams and desires to the momentous task of raising a brand new human being.

Have a good day. Honor your father. And if you're a father, be a good one. Your children ... and indeed, the future ... are depending on you.

More thoughts coming.


* The real ones, the ones that murdered millions of innocent people and destroyed most of Europe, not the imaginary ones to which ignorant people in this country compare their political opponents.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Cartoon Saturday

It's true ... seven days do make one weak ...

Yellowstone National Park was closed and Eastern Montana was ravaged by raging floodwaters; a baby formula plant in Michigan that opened two weeks ago after being closed for months has shut down again because of storms that flooded the plant; in Saudi Arabia, rainbow-colored toys and clothing have been confiscated because they "contradict the Islamic faith and public morals, and promote homosexual colours targeting the younger generation;" the British Home Secretary has approved the extradition to the US of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on charges of espionage; and in Japan, police arrested a 72-year-old man who was apparently trying to put a voodoo curse on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

This week I'm feeling a little musical, so how about a selection of cartoons on a musical theme?

Well, yes, that would be a good reason ...

Know your conductors ...

I'm told there's a lot more to orchestral conducting than this, but it still looks suspiciously accurate ...

What the conductor's notes really look like ...

Why you don't usually see dogs playing in philharmonic orchestras ...

If you're of my generation or earlier, you get this ...

How to sit while listening to your favorite music ...

I understand the plea ...

I've heard they're the new Cantina Band ...

Oh, come on ... you know you get this one ...

And that's it for this week's Cartoon Saturday. Have a good day and a great weekend, and be sure to come back tomorrow for my annual Fathers Day post - more thoughts then.


Friday, June 17, 2022

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for June, 2022

Yes, I know I whine all the time about how difficult it is to pick suitable award winners, and I'm sure you're sick of hearing it. This week, I'm saving time, effort, and aggravation, going a different route by presenting a group award.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers,

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown Award for June, 2022 

is presented to

Who Knew and Understood
the Threat Posed by Der Furor
to Democracy and the Nation,
Yet Refused to Say Something
Unless Under Oath
to Protect a Book Deal

The list is very long, and so I will mention only five of the spineless weasels who have distinguished themselves by their shameless attempts to rewrite history and salvage their reputations:

Former Attorney General William P. Barr
(a five-time previous winner of this award*)

Former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper

Former White House Communications Director Stefanie Grisham

Reporter Bob Woodward
(who wrote three best-selling books containing information
it would have been nice to know when it mattered)


Former National Security Advisor John Bolton

The list goes on at depressing length. 

Mr Barr whitewashed the report of the Mueller investigation, publicly supported Der Furor at every turn, praised Der Furor in a fawningly obsequious resignation letter, and wrote a self-serving book titled "One Damn Thing After Another" before finally - under oath - testifying to the reality of Der Furor's attempts to overturn our democracy and steal the 2020 election.

Mr Esper stood by and publicly supported Der Furor before publishing his own more truthful tell-all book, "A Sacred Oath: Memoirs of a Defense Secretary During Extraordinary Times."

Ms Grisham, as White House "Communications Director," held not a single press conference during her tenure and spoke not a word against Der Furor until she finally testified - under oath - to the January 6th committee and published her own book, "I'll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House."

Mr Woodward published three books, "Fear," "Rage," and "Peril"  - the latter in particular containing devastating details about the actions of Der Furor and his cabal, withholding many of those details in order to boost sales.

Finally, John Bolton publicly supported Der Furor and refused to testify during his impeachment trials, yet profited from what he should have told the nation at the time when he published his own self-serving book, "The Room Where It Happened."

And all five of these individuals have gone on to lucrative careers as media talking heads.

One wishes that the people we think of as "public servants" would have had the moral courage to tell the public the truth when it mattered, rather than when they could profit from it.

Have a good day. More thoughts ... and much-needed laughs ... tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns.