CSotD: Rubber Checks and Negative Balances

Let’s start the day by checking our own values. This portrait of Roger Stone isn’t the first time Ann Telnaes has dipped into the slime bucket to depict one of Dear Leader’s dubious allies, nor is it surprising that he found a slipper that fit perfectly.

As soon as Stone took the Fifth in front of Congress, social media erupted with people gleefully quoting Trump saying “You see the mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

Certainly, it is funny that Trump once suggested that taking the Fifth is an admission of guilt, and now his associates are doing just that.

Taking the Fifth, that is. Not admitting guilt.

Taking the Fifth is not an admission of guilt. It’s a principle of both common law and the Constitution, and so the irony, such as it is, is having Trump associates hiding behind the document they’ve worked so hard to overthrow.

But wotthehell anyway: Trump has also told the story of the woman who shelters a venomous snake that then bites her, and, as she is dying, says, with a grin, “You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

It’s not like we didn’t know who Roger Stone was. He’s the guy with Richard Nixon’s face tattooed on his back.


And it’s not like we didn’t know that Trump had hired Roy Cohn, fresh from being Joe McCarthy’s favorite shyster and it’s particularly ironic that, in his quote, Trump disdained the mob, given that the lawyer a young Donald Trump learned from had also represented John Gotti, Carmine Galante and Fat Tony Salerno.

For that matter, it’s not like we didn’t know who Donald Trump was. We voted for him anyway.

We’re the ones who ought to be taking the Fifth, and pretending we don’t remember, and perjuring ourselves by claiming we didn’t know.


David Horsey plays upon “A Christmas Carol” to accuse McCarthy and McConnell of heartlessness, but let’s move on in the story: What turned Scrooge was not the requests of the do-gooders, but his being forced to see how others live and to recall how he himself had once lived, and his being confronted with how it was all likely to end if nothing changed.


Scrooge’s journey forms a parallel with Bobby Kennedy, who sharpened his theoretical feelings about poverty in 1967 with a trip to the Mississippi Delta to see it close-up and in person (AP photo).

The appeal of Dickens’ work is that we take the trip alongside Scrooge, just as, watching the news, we took the trip alongside Bobby.

A visit is not the same as truly living there, but, even vicariously, it can jolt us into greater empathy.

We have the ability to lift children out of poverty, to feed them, to give them health care, to educate them.

But we lack that necessary empathy. All of us, not just McConnell and McCarthy.

So Matt Wuerker (Politico) puts the cruel denial in the mouth of Uncle Sam, and rightfully so, because we have the resources. We simply refuse to make equality and equity and common decency our priorities.

Let’s not kid ourselves: There has been a lot of condemnation of Rand Paul for having voted against emergency relief in the past but welcoming it now for Kentucky, but Paul has said he didn’t begrudge the money. He only wanted it balanced by a reduction somewhere in the budget.

Has anyone ever said, “We can rebuild in the wake of this tragedy if we simply cut one or two fighter jets from the budget?”

As Wuerker suggests, our priorities do not allow for disappointing our spoiled favorites.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Bob Gorrell – Creators)


(Baby Blues – KFS)

To take all this political talk into the personal realm, Bob Gorrell may be doing good work by depicting the supply chain woes as dampening Christmas, even though that’s a vast over-simplification.

But simplifying complexities is a goal of political cartooning.

The broken supply chain is real: I had to wait four months to get a bumper fixed, and the mechanic told me he had windshields on back order for six months.

And my heart went out to a furniture dealer who ran a TV commercial the other night apologizing for low stock and for disappointing customers, but asking them to come in and see the other furnishings he has. It’s clear this will be a devastating Christmas for him.

Still, Baby Blues raises the question of managing expectations. It’s not that we have to go back to the days when a corn husk doll and a handful of hard candy made for a satisfying Christmas, but Darryl’s desperate search for the one and only gift that Zoe wants made me search my own memory.

The boys wrote to Santa, but I don’t remember a time when a particular toy was so paramount that not having it was a crisis. We had a sense of what they wanted, we got them something that fit the bill, they were happy and life went on.

And I’ll say this: I only saw one feature on the local news this year about shopping for the must-have gift, and it was just some B-roll filler, not a serious story. I didn’t see the annual report from the Toy Fair, listing this year’s Tickle Me Elmo or Cabbage Patch Doll that parents would fight over in the aisles.

I hope that parents offered more “We’ll see’s” than in other years, because this has been a pretty good year for “We’ll see.”

Kids need to be part of the family, and responsible parenting involves honesty. Even “We’ll see” can be irresponsible, if it isn’t matched with a touch of frankness.

If you must tell them that even Santa is having trouble finding all the toys he’d like to give out, that’s better than a promise, or the hint of a promise, that you can’t live up to.

Marc Murphy lays out the real wish for this troubled year.

It’s a reminder that growing up means learning where Christmas really comes from, that not all gifts come from toy stores and that some of the best stories are true.



4 thoughts on “CSotD: Rubber Checks and Negative Balances

  1. You will note that Ann Telnaes didn’t resort to slapping a label on the figure or resort to tracing a photo of Roger Stone. Instead, she relies on her well-honed skills of caricature and giving the readers the benefit of the doubt on their intelligence and being aware of current events. In other words, she doesn’t dumb-down her work. This makes for much more effective editorial cartoons. Sadly, she is still in the minority in the profession…which continues to place her well above the majority.

  2. Mike, can you do a story on my uncle, Al Walker? He was an artist for Fiction House before and after WWII. He worked for Disney pre-war too. He created Slug the Penguin and Norge. He drew Grease Monkey Griffin. He may not have started the trend of drawing outside the panel but he used it a lot. There’s a cartoonist (I forget his name) who archived a lot of Al Walker’s work but his site got hacked and he took it down. Al Walker’s name appears of some of the comics as artist though I think it took a long time for that too happen. Maybe that was true for many of the artists

  3. The two videos really illustrate that the contrast between the hearts Roy Cohen and Dolly Parton could not be more stark. In the mid 1970s I was working as a concert promoter and one of our early concerts was Dolly’s first tour without Porter Waggoner. She showed up with her Family Band and a fever of 101 and put on a fabulous show. After intermission the house lights went down and the spotlight shined on Dolly, all alone, sitting on a stool at the corner of the stage. She started singing ‘Coat of Many Colors’, which was her newest release and had just hit the charts. By the time she finished there were tears in every eye in the audience and every eye back stage. We went on to promote many bigger concerts with bigger name artists but this is still my favorite memory from the whole adventure. And I still tear-up when I hear this song. Thanks for including it.

  4. Links-O-Plenty for Johnny Walker.
    Johnny what you request is not something we really do here and when we do something of that sort it is more about newspaper or magazine cartoonists.
    That being said…

    Nothing on the internet ever really disappears and that includes Michael T. Gilbert’s website. If you know the url The Wayback Machine can help find old, “deleted” websites. For example:

    I don’t know if you have the comic history magazine Alter Ego
    Gilbert ran a three issue series on your uncle (#s 76,77, & 78).
    Portions of the issues can be read gratis via an Issuu preview:

    Then there are comic book blogs that post old stories. Here is the Four-Color Shadows site with a few Al Walker stories:

    More involved is finding the comic books Al Walker contributed to via the Grand Comic Database
    and then going to a site that runs public domain comics to look for those Walker issues. Comic Book Plus is one such site that has a lot of Fiction House comic books online:

    Good luck on your search for more information.

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