Dec 31, 2013

The End of Editorial Explanations

The post title says it all: there will be no more posts on Editorial Explanations from this point forward. The end of a year -- and, possibly, the beginning of another year, an election year, when the cartoons will get nasty and rude and personal for months on end -- seemed to be the perfect time to do that, and so it is.

Editorial Explanations, like most things, never quite lived up to its own image of itself -- you can see my second anniversary post, from last February, for the fullest explanation of what EE was intended to be, and how it didn't always live up to that -- but it was fun to do all of the time for quite a while, and then fun to do much of the time during and since the 2012 election. So I don't regret it.

But editorial cartoons are an arguably dying artform, and there are fewer cartoonists working than even when I started this blog in February of 2011 (and that was well after the first big wave of newspaper closures and layoffs and consolidations). As the field tightens, the scope for the kind of work that I really wanted to showcase here -- the local cartoonist for the Podunk Herald, doing a lazy cartoon about a dead famous person, or about a news story in a country he knows only cliches about -- shrinks and narrows until it has basically disappeared.

There are still bad editorial cartoons out there: they appear every day. But they are mostly deliberately bad cartoons these days, that take the opposite of the facts and turn that into propaganda to score points for a particular political team. I've spent more time on those deliberately bad cartoons than I've wanted to -- they are my own particular tar baby -- but it's time now to walk away.

Perhaps this is a case of Gresham's Law, but I don't think so: there's still also great cartoons almost every day. And the same cartoonists who do a deliberately bad cartoon one day can go a great one the next day -- I found myself laughing at an A.F. Branco cartoon only a week or so ago, showing that even our newest and most tendentious cartoonists can break out of the scoring-points mold now and again.

So I hope the few of you that read this blog will continue to read editorial cartoons: at their best, they crystallize complicated ideas and situations into a visual metaphor that can make us look at the world differently. And, yes, at their worst, they're purely cheerleading for their "team," mostly in the form of taunts about the opposing team. But every artform has both best and worst: that's what makes them art.

But you'll have to find those cartoons elsewhere -- I suggest my three major sources, AAEC, GoComics, and Cagle. And you'll have them without my snarky commentary...which may well be a plus.

Thanks for reading.

Dec 30, 2013

Where's That Amazon Drone When You Need It?

Chip Bok, 12/28/13:
UPS only had trouble making deliveries in time for Christmas because their stupid customers ordered packages too late for timely delivery.

Sure, UPS promised a certain level of service, and failed at that, but come on! We should all assume that all businesses will fail to give us what they promise, because that's the American Way.


Tony Auth, 12/27/13:
Yay! Three guys are totally not responsible for the scandalous sexual abuse of children that happened under their power!

Jesus would completely celebrate that, right?

Dec 27, 2013

From Each According to His Ability

Milt Priggee, 12/26/13:
D'ya think Priggee meant to imply that Jesus was such a dirty Commie that he wanted every single person to have absolutely equal income at all times?

'Cause, y'know, he just did.

Dec 26, 2013

So Sad How the Republicans Have No Core Values

Michael Ramirez, 12/25/13:
The problem with the modern Republican party is that they haven't been adamant enough in opposing everything Obama does. If only they'd been a little more recalcitrant, they would actually have accomplished making sure nothing got done.

My God Can Beat Up Your God

Gary Varvel, 12/25/13:
Varvel wants to use today's political cartoon to heavy-handedly enforce conformity to your local hegemonic religion. I'm sure, if he were cartooning from Baghdad, both he and his audience would have no problem with a similar cartoon praising Muhammad at Eid.

Admittedly, the drawing is excellent, but since a political cartoon is supposed to be a) about politics and b) contain humor, there's no way to consider this a success in its chosen medium.

Dec 25, 2013

Consider That the Guy May Just Be Presbyterian

Terry Wise, 12/24/13:
If you have any kind of Christmas celebration, of any kind, but don't attend your local hegemonic Christian church, you are evil.

I can see that Wise is trying to make a point connected to that word "hypocrite," but I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.

Dec 19, 2013

Spare Us the Cutter

Bob Gorrell, 12/18/13:
There are people who do not have budgetary responsibility for something, and they want to spend a lot less money on it than the people who do have responsibility.

Wonder if these are the same people who think the US spends 25 times what it actually does on foreign aid?

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?

Gary Varvel, 12/18/13:
The world would be so much better if we all just mellowed out, man, and let go of all of the negative emotions that are bringing us down.

Love your brother, man!


Clay Bennett, 12/18/13:
This is one of the rare political Rorschach test cartoons -- what you think it means will depend on what you already believe.

Is it....

A: That the new budget agreement will hurt the taxpayers of this great nation, with all of its weasel-worded "fee increases."


b: That the new budget will hurt the poorest and weakest in society, by failing, once again, to create any substantial jobs programs, increase the minimum wage, fix the social safety net, or do any of those other things Democrats love so much.

Dec 18, 2013

NoDoz Nation

Ted Rall, 12/18/13:
Any politician who is so out of touch as to sleep at night when he still has work to do is a sad, pathetic thing, to be pitied and removed as soon as possible.

The Old Rubber-Glue Trick Again

Glenn McCoy, 12/17/13:
The greatest threat to the health of the American public is a government board empowered to make minor changes to Medicare payments -- not anything to do with individuals directly -- that can be overruled by Congress.

It's certainly not the actual boards at actual insurance companies that make actual decisions to deny care to actual people, causing actual deaths. Not actually.

They're Even Wearing SHOES!

Jeff Danizger, 12/17/13:
All women are stupid bubbleheads who know nothing about cars.

Dec 17, 2013

When Mall Santas Crack!

Ann Cleaves, 12/16/13:
Are those supposed to be Santa's elves? If not, why is he paying them in the first place? And why does he want them to go shopping?

Also, usually you get "double time and a half" -- speaking as a former retail wage-slave -- because you're working on a major holiday, and so you're not available to "go shopping."

Dec 16, 2013

Girl Cooties!

Randy Bish, 12/13/13:
It's vastly worse to be vaguely in the company of teenage singer Miley Cyrus than actually in the company of despots and mass murderers Adolf Hitler (1938), Josef Stalin (1939), and Ayatollah Komeini (1979).

This is because men killing people is honest, while young women acting out sexual activities in public is, and always will be, utterly scandalous.

The Deceased Is Survived by Fifty States and a Grieving Military-Industrial Complex

Jerry Holbert, 12/13/13:
The United States is utterly dead, just like the Holy Roman Empire and Czechoslovakia.

Um, really?

Dec 12, 2013

Even Worse Than Being Sick: PAPERWORK!

Jeff Stahler, 12/11/13:
You're gonna die anyway, so why bother to ever see a doctor? Save yourself and the people around you some money and just never have health care -- especially if you're poor!

Dec 10, 2013

And You Have to Pay for the Elves' Birth Control, Too!

Terry Wise, 12/8/13:
Unlike the previous regime, under Obamacare you can lose your healthcare for being sick or having other conditions that make your healthcare more expensive.

No, wait -- it's the reverse of that.

Dec 5, 2013

If It's Not Perfect Right Away, Kill It Immediately

Ed Gamble, 12/4/13:
That's right: the alternative to healthcare is "cut taxes, cut spending." Because a smaller government magically makes people healthier by spending less on clean water, clean air, unadulterated food, firefighting, roads, and national security -- not even counting delivering healthcare.

Dec 4, 2013


Michael Ramirez, 12/3/13:
Global warming means it'll never be cold anywhere ever again!

Dec 3, 2013

The Horrors of Buying Insurance!

Steve Kelley, 12/2/13:
Oh, no! This family now has healthcare! If they get sick, they'll be treated by doctors! They won't have lifetime limits! They might even be hospitalized if they need it, and not be bankrupted by the cost!

How thoroughly horrible!

Dec 2, 2013

For I Was Hungry, and You Gave Me Food

Mike Lester, 11/29/13:
Pope Francis is just a pinko Commie, unlike the real Jesus, who never said anything about feeding the hungry.

Nov 29, 2013

They Only Let Him Drink Water, Too

Clay Bennett, 11/28/13:
Every other political stripe -- from the Spartacist League to the John Birch Society -- is made up of sane, reasonable, thoughtful adults, and only the Tea Party is a collective child, to be exiled to the kitchen.

Nov 28, 2013

The Famous "Punk Rock" Global Warming Forum, No Less

A.F. Branco, 11/27/13:
Global warming means it's never cold anywhere, ever again!

Seems to Be Missing a Label or Two

Steve Artley, 11/27/13:
Entirely because of our socialist, secretly Kenyan, secretly gay, secretly Martian President, turkeys need to be killed before they can be eaten.

Thanks, Obama!

Plymouth Rock Landed on HIM!

Lisa Benson, 11/27/13:
The Pilgrims -- who landed two hundred miles off course from the English settlements around Jamestown, showing they probably could have used a "navigator" -- had a death toll of nearly half of the colony (45 of 102 colonists) over the first winter, implying that their health care was not all it could be (particularly on the nutrition side).

Benson might not be alluding to either of those facts here, but I'm not sure what she is saying: that Obamacare is complicated? That it stretches back in time to 1620? That we all hate pudgy bureaucrats with briefcases?

Nov 27, 2013

Check Out the Perspective on That Firing Squad!

Chip Bok, 11/25/13:
Obama is doing something so horribly illegal that Bok doesn't even need to tell us what it is.

And that thing is....?

Nov 25, 2013

Oh, Those Halcyon Days of Youth! Where Have They Gone?

David Horsey, 11/22/13:
In case you were wondering if there was anything the Boomers couldn't make about them and their oh-so-special psyches, the answer is a resounding No.

Even the death of a president is only important because it made them so very, very sad.

We Got Some Flyin' To Do

Tim Hartman, 11/22/13:
The rules of the Senate are defined forever in some section of the Constitution that the cartoonist was too lazy to look up, and are definitely not just controlled by a simple vote of the majority of the Senate, having been changed a number of times, most recently in 1975.

No, definitely not the latter. No fair checking actual facts!

Nov 22, 2013

It's Horrible When Things Cost Money

Ed Gamble, 11/21/13:
A government is a poor and limited thing, and can only do one thing at a time -- it's either a Mars probe or Obamacare. (Or, presumably, the interstate system, or the military, or Social Security, or Medicare, or the FDA, or or or.)

Those of us who remember the days when the federal government could launch two wars and a major new entitlement (Medicare Part D) without breaking a sweat -- let alone a two-front global war plus dragging ourselves out of the Depression -- wonder when Americans got so lame and wimpy.

Nov 21, 2013

Bet He Can't Afford a "Really Good" Car, Either!

Ed Gamble, 11/20/13:
Just so I get this straight: Gamble's complaint about the Obamacare "navigators" is that they're honest, reasonable people who don't promise or give undeserved benefits, but push people who want something they can't afford to find ways to increase their income?

I think he needs to read his right-wing briefing papers a little more carefully next time: Obamacare navigators are supposed to be identity-stealing escaped felons who rival ACORN in fostering theft, larceny, and deceit.

Not Arguing For What He Thinks He Is

John R. Rose, 11/20/13:
It's true: Obama should have picked a national health-care system proven to work well for millions of citizens at lower cost than the current U.S. system.

...such as any one of the various forms of single-payer already extensively tested and proved by countries as different as Switzerland, Denmark, Australia, Canada, and the UK.

Nov 20, 2013

A Single Death Is a Tragedy, a Million Deaths Is a Statistic

Rob Rogers, 11/18/13:
Every thing with three initials is directly comparable to every other thing with three initials, no matter what.

Or, perhaps, Rogers is demanding an eternal flame for every single American ever shot by a gun, which would be a lot of fire.

Nov 18, 2013

The Horrible Spectre of Good Cheer

Gustavo Rodriguez, 11/16/13:
Hearing a commercial for an event slightly further in the future than you expect is horrifying!

Also, you are old and cranky and those neighbor kids are on your lawn again.

Those Women Must Be Horrible Sluts -- They Slept With HIM!

A.F. Branco, 11/15/13:
As we all know, the leading cause of pregnancy is birth control.

Thank god for the courageous Republicans trying to save us all from health care -- if only we didn't have insurance, we'd all live forever!

Nov 14, 2013

Spinning, Slowly, Slowly, in the Wind

Eric Allie, 11/12/13:
The greatest thing in politics is watching the other guys try to explain when they screwed something up really badly.

(As far as I can tell, the real explanation is that Obama promised something he could never deliver -- insurance companies drop hundreds of thousands of people every year, and change plans all the time, so we all should have expected that would continue -- but he's too "Presidential" to simply admit that honestly. Of course, expecting a politician to admit that he has no power over something is a fool's errand.)

What's Good For Tulsa Is Good For America

Bruce Plante, 11/13/13:
Because big mergers are always good news for the employees of the affected firms -- there's never any redundancy leading to layoffs, and no "rationalizing" of disparate contracts to drive down labor costs.

Nope, mergers are a great thing for workers! (Or do I mean "top management"?)

(Plante is probably following the lead of his fine city's mayor, Dewey Bartlett, in praising this deal, which might bring a few more jobs to his taking them from elsewhere in the US.)

Nov 13, 2013

Can't Fit Through the Kitchen Door

Ken Catalino, 11/12/13:
Chris Christie is fat. Fat! FAT!!!!

Get it? GET IT?

'Cause you'll be getting cartoons exactly this lame for months on end if he does end up running for president. (And for years if he wins.)

When The Only Tool You Have Is A Hammer

Jeff Stahler, 11/12/13:
We can trace a single extreme weather event directly to larger patterns of climate change.

Oops, sorry, that's we can't trace a single extreme weather event directly to larger patterns of climate change. Our apologies.

High-Speed Rail Cartoon or Minimum-Wage Cartoon? You Decide!

Lisa Benson, 11/12/13:
Yes, Poverty is an Airstream trailer parked on the tracks of the Train to Nowhere, which is also the Cost of Living.

Um, what?

Nov 11, 2013

The Man With the Star

Terry Wise, 11/10/13:
I'm not sure if this is a slam at Obama for being so out-of-touch that he doesn't get that a "dog and pony" show is meant to be a performance (albeit a lame, dull one) by those animals, or if the whole thing is a dog whistle that I don't recognize. (I'm trying to bring it into focus as an attack on the Obamacare website, but I can't figure that out.)

Also, you can gauge Wise and his target audience's age quite precisely by his cultural references.

Indoctrinate Them Early, Folks!

Milt Priggee, 11/8/13:
Because "Tea Baggers" are strongly against both the current military and rose-tinted traditional images of the American past, and those are what "honoring veterans" really means.

The Tea Party, as we all know, is a strongly anti-military movement, which attacks veterans as baby-killers and wants to unilaterally disarm the USA. (Oh, wait, no -- that's the New Left of the 1960s, though many Tea Party folks may well have been New Left in their youth.)

Lastly, who's on food stamps, anyway -- the veterans or the"Tea Baggers"?

When George Washington Talks, People Listen

Jimmy Margulies, 11/8/13:
Money has more followers on Twitter? Does money tweet often?

(I'm sure this is supposed to be a comment on the Twitter IPO, but it's mixing up the service Twitter provides and the valuation of the ownership of Twitter, which have very little to do with each other.)

Nov 7, 2013

A Yellow Machine Is Falling Apart, Somewhere

V.C. Rogers, 11/6/13:

I'm hoping that this depicts some kind of famous statue near wherever Rogers cartoons, because otherwise I have no clue.

Nov 4, 2013

Let Them Drink Brine

Signe Wilkinson, 11/3/13:
Everyone living less than four feet above sea level is massively wealthy, because we all know that the rich, who have their choice of living arrangements, prefer to live where they will be regularly flooded.

We can see this globally, as well -- the people living in rice paddies, along flood-prone rivers, and in other low-lying areas are always the richest people around, and the hillsides and mountain-tops are reserved for the poor.

Will Obamacare Cover Blue Balls, Too?

Darryl Barksdale, 11/1/13:
Men are pure and virginal creatures until marriage, without a thought of sex in their minds.

It's utterly impossible that one of those paragons would ever get someone pregnant!

Nov 3, 2013

Note that the Author of this Blog Drives a $15k Honda Fit

Henry Payne, 11/3/13:
As we all know, the extensive US government regulation on cars -- driven by consumer-safety concerns, just like health care, and now extending to myriad details of seat belts, crumple zones, air bags, and child seats, among much else -- has made cars completely unaffordable to most Americans.

There's just no such thing as an inexpensive car that complies with safety regulations! You always have to choose between safety and price, silly!

Nov 1, 2013

You Owe Me Restitution!

Randy Bish, 10/31/13:
Yes, health care is the very worst gift you could ever receive -- refuse all treatment now, like the Koch brothers urge you to!

Oct 31, 2013

No Fat Chicks!

Mike Lester, 10/30/13:
There's nothing worse than getting to know another human being and then discovering she's a real heifer! Man -- total boner fail!


Everybody's Learning How

John R. Rose, 10/30/13:
Oh, look! It's the rare Mid-90s Whitewater Joke in its native habitat -- a lazy editorial cartoon!

Shouldn't Rose be spending his time doing another dozen cartoons about how swell the local college is?