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CSotD: Obscene Cartoon Warning

Ed Hall offers a commentary on an item from Dear Leader’s budget, which eliminates funding for Stars and Stripes, the newspaper that has kept the military informed since the Civil War, operating out of the Department of Defense but with full First Amendment rights and a separate congressional ombudsman to protect them.

It is, of course, an homage to Bill Mauldin’s classic cartoon of an cavalry sergeant putting down his faithful old Jeep.

The classic version of the cartoon ran in Stars and Stripes, but, as Mauldin noted in his autobiography, “The Brass Ring,” he had first drawn the popular panel for Yank, the Army Weekly, which also went out to GIs.

And I’m going to quibble with Ed, because, had he sent me a rough of the cartoon, I would have suggested he not copy the broken axle and collapsed wheel of the original.

This isn’t someone shooting a crippled Jeep but someone shooting a perfectly serviceable, well-maintained vehicle.

However, he has replaced the cavalryman’s sorrowful face with a self-satisfied, one might even say sh*t-eating grin, which makes his point perfectly well.

And it’s not the only difference between Mauldin’s affectionate cartoon and this obscene variation, starting with the fact that Mauldin had enlisted in the Army, a poor boy in New Mexico whose daddy couldn’t have pulled strings to get him a phony IV-F deferment, even if he’d waited to be drafted.

 

Another difference being that Dear Leader proudly accepted a Purple Heart from a supporter, while Bill Mauldin hadn’t even wanted the one he earned the hard way.

Stolen Valor aside, there is a strong taboo within the service about military insignia to which you are not entitled and even about unnecessarily flashing that to which you are.

Mauldin was entitled to a Purple Heart.

As he notes in the book, he was slightly wounded by shrapnel and, while that really means he was a few inches away from dead, the bottom line was “slightly wounded” and he was surprised when they offered him the medal.

Personally, I had been cut worse sneaking through barbed-wire fences in New Mexico.

“Take it,” the man said. “The rules say if the enemy draws blood, you get one. Besides, it might get you discharged quicker at the end of the war. That case fits real neat in an empty K-ration box if you want to send it home to your wife.”

Which he did, and, as it happened, about that time his editor

showed me a letter from a soldier in the headquarters of the 179th Infantry, of all places. The writer wanted to know why the paper put the title “Up Front” on my cartoons … the next B-Bag column reprinted the letter, followed by an editor’s note that I had just received the Purple Heart for a wound received while visiting Company I of Private-So-and-So’s own regiment.

Mauldin notes that, while his minor wound came early on, giving the newspaper some cred, other Stars and Stripes personnel were seriously wounded and even killed while covering the war.

 

While inspiring additional cartoons on the topic.

My dad, who spent most of the war trying to catch up with his unit, used to joke that he didn’t wear his medals because their combined weight made his blouse sag. Other times, he said his only wound requiring medical treatment. was an infected flea bite.

“But it was a French flea,” he’d complain. “If it had been a German flea, I’d have gotten a Purple Heart.”

 

I’m kind of glad neither Dad nor Bill Mauldin lived long enough to see this preening draft dodger installed as Commander in Chief.

In any case, Dear Leader can try his best to shut down Stars and Stripes and otherwise declare journalists to be enemies of the state, but the military branch of his private little war on the First Amendment will have to get through the House, and I’m hoping they’ll stand up.

After all, I’m not sure he can rob the Defense Department budget for his wall if the House hasn’t passed one.

I’m also thinking that a whip-around among people who value the First Amendment and who would not brag of medals they never won might just bring in enough money to support the newspaper anyway.

We shall see.

 

Meanwhile, on the Home Front

Steve Sack is not the only cartoonist to comment on the flow of pardons from the man who promised to drain the swamp, but he was early and excellent in making the point.

Not only is Dear Leader pardoning people who have ripped off consumers and the government, but his Revenge Tour continues below the radar, so that he can fire the Pentagon’s top policy official for having committed Ukrainian heresy, and have that action hidden by the amount of attention his pardons are getting.

And if he can shut down the military’s newspaper while castigating others as “Lügenpresse,” maybe he can succeed in keeping the dialogue confined to proper channels that support his policies.

 

And we know which government-improved, government-endorsed, government-governing channel the politically correct information appears on, which gives Bill Bramhall an opening for a perfect mic-drop cartoon to which I can add nothing.

Well, except for this reminder from Phil:

Community Comments

#1 Kevin Tolman
February/20/2020
@ 7:54 am

If you are interested in the Stars and Stripes during WW2, I’d like to recommend Andy Rooney’s My War.

#2 Katherine Collins
February/20/2020
@ 2:31 pm

I am so glad that “The Daily Cartoonist” keeps me up to date on cartooning news, AND pretty closely matches my political proclivities. I would hate to wade through right-wing drivel in order to get the news.
PS — I wonder when we will finally see the last of Drumpf. After my lifetime of detesting most politicians, this guy is so over the top that even Nixon and Cheney look warm and cozy by comparison. It is mildly comforting to believe that history will remember him alongside Hitler, Stalin, Idi Amin, Huey Long, George Wallace, etc. etc. — That is, if civilisation persists long enough for anything to be remembered.
Who, me? Bitter?

#3 K Scott
February/21/2020
@ 1:49 am

Thank you for the history info! We must support those who have served our country. While I am on the very far left of the political spectrum, knowing we that we spend more than the next 7-10 countries combined on our military, and that there must be somewhere we can cut, I do pretend to know where to cut. But we must repair leaky roofs, update technology, prepare for climate change, and take excellent care of those who have served, permanently. I have relied upon Stars and Stripes for information and it must not be cut either.

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