Ruben Bolling has been awarded the Herblock Prize for 2017.
I'm strongly on record as saying "Plaques are for Haques" and that awards are for people who need awards. I've also pointed out that Pulitzer winners get RIFed just like any other newsroom denizen who has been around long enough to have become expensive.
But the Herblock is worthy.
In part because it comes with a check for $15,000, and I firmly believe in awards that include the phrase "Pay to the order of," despite Candorville's commentary yesterday on that topic.
$15k will buy a lot of tuxedos and airline tickets, especially if you're a freelancer and don't have to worry about your employer deciding part of the money should stay in-house. (OTOH, having a regular paycheck besides whatever you earn from syndication would dull that pain considerably.)
I don't know what this year's runner-up, Lakota cartoonist Marty Two Bulls Sr., will do with his check for five grand, but he already splits profits on his T-shirt sales with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to help them fight the pipeline, and I'd be surprised if some of it didn't find its way somewhere deserving.
The money isn't the point, of course, except that being free to do what you do best is very much the point.
Plaques are nice but you can't eat them and they don't last long in the woodstove, either.
Herb Block worked in the days when good editorial cartoonists were valued, and endowing a prize that not only recognizes but furthers the artform was one last major contribution to the nation.
Michael Cavna has more about this year's award, but what struck me in particular was that, when I went to the Herblock Prize website, I discovered the other reason I honor the prize.
If you read this blog very often, you can scroll down this list of winners and see how many of them have appeared here, most with considerable regularity.
Not a haque in the bunch, and what I particularly value in this year's awards is that both cartoonists exemplify what I said the other day, which is that editorial cartoonists should make an effort to find out what they're talking about before they pick up their pens.
The above Tom the Dancing Bug, Bolling's latest, clearly requires him to have been following Trump's sophistry and verbal legerdemain, which is the point of the entire cartoon, while, in this 2013 profile, Two Bulls addresses the factor directly:
The most time-consuming part of each cartoon is researching an idea. Luckily, Two Bulls said, he was bitten by the news bug at an early age and reads everything from The New York Times to local newspapers for inspiration.
“I’m constantly checking articles and looking — whatever strikes me as funny,” he said. “I like to do ironic stuff. And I do it from my perspective. I’m Native American, so I do it from my point of view and my humor.”
If you scroll down that list of Herblock winners, I think you'll find that "doing your homework" is a common factor.
Though you shouldn't overdo it, which brings us to our first ...
Juxtaposition of the Day
I won't thrill you with a lengthy repeat of my oft-repeated rant about our hyper-connected society, despite my wish that kids would sing together the way we did on sports buses and my suspicion that being able to whistle through your fingers will be a lost art when kids no longer have long walks alone without entertainment, during which they can blow and spit and sputter until they finally get it right.
Instead, I'll simply direct you to this article about a survey from the American Psychological Association that shows "Constant Checkers" have a significantly higher stress level than the less connected.
The big laff in it all being this:
While two-thirds of Americans (65%) agreed that taking a digital detox can be beneficial, only 28% of respondents actually reported unplugging.
IOW, "I can quit anytime I want to."
Sure you can.
Another Juxtaposition of the Day:
There have been several cartoons mocking Republican politicians who are finding their constituents actively engaged in democracy and then responding like the safe-zone-seeking snowflakes they are turning out to be.
But I was particularly struck by the juxtaposition of Rob Rogers and John Cole giving it to Senator Toomey from both ends.
Another another Juxtaposition of the Day
I guess we'll need to wait for one of the Trumplings to come out as transgender before the Republican commitment to individual freedom extends to that situation.
After all, they softened their opposition to stem cell research after Reagan was revealed to have Alzheimers, and lightened up on gay people after Cheney's daughter came out.
The "states rights" approach that the Trump administration is relying on in order to justify being unspeakably cruel to small children is the same approach once used to keep slaves in their chains and to make sure women did not accidentally wander into polling booths.
And pardon me if I think of Phyllis Schlafly and Betsy DeVos as both being in a Junior League With The Devil.
Schlafly and her pals assured women that there was no need for the Equal Rights Amendment and that it would simply lead to unisex bathrooms, while our current smiling rich-by-marriage lady is also obsessed with bathrooms.
It's all about the gonads with these purity freaks.
One ray of hope is the conservatives are not completely wedded to letting the states sort things out. As I'm sure we will soon see, there are times when they are in favor of a strong central government protecting our rights.
Another ray of hope is that, if they keep pissing off one group after another, those town hall meetings are only going to get more unpleasant.
Real snowflakes like meeting with people!