As the presidential campaign heated up, Scott Stantis seemed to find himself in a difficult position with Pricky City, because the strip's established liberal/conservative banter didn't fit the situation, though he did reflect a lot of people's response by letting the strip wander off into comments about disillusionment and unlikely solutions.
Well, he's back and, as seen here, Carmen has been offered a position in the Trump White House.
If you've been skipping over the strip, it's time to tune back in.
In fact, it may be time to start tuning in to all sorts of places you might not have, which brings us to our ...
Juxtaposition of the Day
Trump's nonsensical tweet about flag-burning not only caught the eye of the NYTimes editorial board but cartoonists as well.
And perhaps it's only another cynical attempt to distract from real issues, but it can't be ignored.
Branch makes his commentary more general: After all, Fearless Leader has also announced plans to overturn NYTimes v Sullivan and otherwise ignore the Supreme Court as well as the First Amendment.
But McCoy goes straight for the flag issue, which is remarkable because McCoy is generally an anti-liberal bombthrower whose cartoons contain more mockery than analysis.
Mind you, the specific issue of flag-burning is not simply settled law but law that was settled to the satisfaction of Antonin Scalia, which may be the balance point at which even committed rightwingers begin to jump off the Trump bandwagon.
For a hardliner like McCoy to break ranks with a conservative of any stripe is worth noting, however, because it suggests that Trump will not get a free ride from cartoonists, even if Senators and Congressmen are willing to cozy up.
Another conservative, Nate Beeler, notes the conflict-of-interests issues that perhaps went unchallenged in the campaign because nobody ever really pressed Trump on issues.
Beeler picks up on Trump's arrogant dismissal of the matter, a technique which got him past the release of tax returns and seems to resonate with his "to hell with you" supporters. In fact, Trump's other response to questions about issues was "You'll see. It'll be great!" and he rarely stooped to answer actual questions about his plans or policies.
And as long as your opponents continue to fold, you never have to show your own cards.
Well, it's time to quit bluffing, and Beeler sets out the proportions: This isn't a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other. Here, President Trump is seen to be squarely in the pocket of Businessman Trump.
That's more than an observation: It's an accusation.
Beeler's no hardliner, but, again, it's a sign that Trump isn't going to be able to do whatever he likes without some pushback, even from the righthand side.
Meanwhile, out in the wider world
The flood of cigar cartoons continues, but I've been surprised at the number of Castro in Hell cartoons and similarly vitriolic depictions in general of a leader whose grip had so loosened in the last decade or so.
I suppose it's a reputation earned if not well-maintained, but I think Jeff Koterba's commentary is more reasoned without backing off.
Castro's legacy is a complex mix of repression and public service, not easily captured in a single panel. Koterba's restrained condemnation of those who romanticize him, and acknowledgement of his suppression of dissent, is appropriate, though I wish I thought his suggestion that such leaders are of another era were more accurate.
I certainly don't think they're extinct nor nearly endangered enough.
They just dress better today.
This Cartoon Movement panel from Iranian-born, Sweden-based Hanif Bahari really needs no elaboration. Everybody has a plan, everybody has a direction, not everybody has to live with the consequences.
Example: It looks nice in the headlines to see ISIS driven out of places like Mosul, but, to any Sunnis living there, it simply means they'll be driven from their homes and perhaps even killed by their Shia neighbors instead. Not sure Syria will sort out much differently, if it ever sorts out at all.
Which brings us to Sarah Glidden's new book, Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria and Iraq, which I have not read but which is very well reviewed at the Beat, and, when I say "very well reviewed," I mean "warts and all."
Glidden writes from a personal perspective and it's not one I'm always comfortable with. Still, there's a need to humanize exotic experiences and, if you accept that she is more of a memoirist than a strict old-school reporter, it's a style of journalism with a substantial track record.
As the critic notes, the book is as much about the journey as what she found there:
On one hand it’s an account of a two month journey through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, and a compelling record of the stories and situations that Glidden encountered in these countries, but on the other, and this was certainly Glidden’s intention, it is journalism about journalism, an investigation about how journalism is done.
There is a suggestion that it runs off the track a bit, given that she is trailing along in a group of four people that appears a mix of social and professional bonding. But that's part of the new new journalism, and it can work.
In the bits that I've read of the book so far, the humanizing factor comes through, and we need to see, and meet, and get to know those people who are being crushed at the bottom of Hanif Bahari's cartoon.
Here's your moment of zen journalism
His friend and rival, Bob Dylan, who alternated between envying Ochs’s
genius and dismissing Ochs’s earnestness as “bullshit,” once threw
Ochs out of his limousine, yelling, “You’re not a folk singer,
you’re a journalist!” -- Gil Troy