As you can probably imagine, I get all sorts of mail here about my cartoons and blogs. Actually, most of it is positive, so I can’t complain too much. I read it, I disagree, and, if the writer is even remotely polite, I respond in some way. I even respond if they aren’t polite. I draw the line at any mail that has swearing in it.
That’s the New Politeness. No swearing.
Recently, I drew a cartoon about the Supreme Court ruling on cellphone searches. I drew Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin sitting at a table, quill pens at the ready. Jefferson says, “Relax … I’ll put the cellphone privacy stuff in later …” The cartoon was widely reprinted; it even ran in The Boston Globe, the cradle of the American Revolution. .
This was a scene that portrayed the three men working on the Declaration of Independence. The drawing was very closely based on a famous painting from the period. Several readers objected to this.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s confession that he is considering moving to California after his term is up made absolute sense, in the same way that one might feel after hearing Fidel Castro was thinking about getting a nice little condo in Miami.
Personally, I hope that Perry does move here, because, after all, it would illustrate precisely, in a Seinfeldian manner, what he’s all about: nothing.
After all, this is the same guy who seems to come to California every six weeks to poach businesses to bring back to Texas. Perry’s personal affect conveys insincerity anyway, which is why he didn’t get a lot of traction in his last presidential campaign. So, fine. Move to California. We’re big-hearted and welcoming.
Once Perry does get here, it is inevitable that he’ll then become more Californian, and that’s a good thing. Because right now he just looks and sounds like some sad Death-of-a-Salesman-from-Fort-Worth type, with too-combed hair and faintly plastic-looking suits. California, with all its faults, has a way of loosening up whatever’s tight in a person.
Jack Ohman/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Sacramento Bee editorial cartoonist Jack Ohman: McCarthyism
Axel Schmidt/The Associated Press
Actor George Clooney is rumored to be considering a run for governor.
(Cue movie preview announcer voice) “In a state where Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger served as chief executive, one man against the odds ponders the biggest role of his life: George Clooney is...”
Running for governor of California?
As a 53-year-year old heartthrob myself, I can see the attraction to the office. You get to live in Sacramento, hang out at Chops and schmooze with Sen. Ricardo Lara. That’d be way more fun than jetting around the world, filming major motion pictures, consorting with the world’s most desirable women, and palling around with Leo, Matt and Ben.
California has a long history of movie actors running for office. In addition to the aforementioned former governors, we elected 1930s song-and-dance man George Murphy to the U.S. Senate. Numerous actors and their spawn have held or tried to hold lesser offices. One who succeeded was Zelda Gilroy from “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” also known as Sheila Kuehl, a well-educated and able legislator, who is trying for a comeback by running for L.A. County supervisor.
Mylan Ryba/Globe Photos/ McClatchy-Tribune/Zuma Press
Casey Kasem, the voice of the syndicated show “American Top 40,“ died on June 15, 2014, at age 82.
In a pre-podcast world, back in the dim recesses of a 1970s media world that tended to unify rather than atomize, there were a few voices that were the narrators of a generation.
There were Wolfman Jack, Rick Dees (we hated “Disco Duck,” too) and a few others. But I remember Casey Kasem’s baritone. It was a familiar, genial, preternaturally happy voice on radio.
As host of “American Top 40,” a nationally syndicated program that most teenagers listened to then, Kasem dutifully marched us through No. 40 down through the tedium of the upper 20s, right on through down to the Top 10, and, finally, No. 1.
That announcement became a national guessing game among the blow-dried, feathered, baggy, platformed, flared teens of that era.
Chris Carlson/ The Associated Press
California Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari addresses supporters during an election night party at the Port Theater, June 3, 2014, in Newport Beach, Calif. Kashkari has challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to 10 debates. Brown should leap at the opportunity.
Neel Kashkari, a serious person, fresh off defeating by three points a man who was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon into an airport, has challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to 10 debates.
Brown should leap at the opportunity. Let me explain.
Far-behind challengers always invite incumbents to debate. Usually, this strategy doesn’t work, and the more debates a challenger asks for usually indicates how very, very far behind they are.
Ten debates is a huge number, especially in California, where many voters really couldn’t be bothered to actually vote. But it won’t make much difference, barring some unforeseen Brown catastrophe.
Every time I hear the phrase, California primary, I have unpleasant memories from childhood. This is the first time I have lived in California and voted here; it was kind of exciting, in a way.
But I still had that feeling of melancholy and dread.
I associate “California primary” with the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. I doubt anything will change that now for me.
On the morning of June 5, 1968, I got up for breakfast, which was always a bowl of Life. My mother was sitting and staring at a small, black and white television screen, repeating the phrase, “That poor woman. That poor woman. That poor woman.”
As California and the nation watched another armed lunatic unload clips of 9mm bullets into innocent bystanders in Isla Vista, killing three of them, here we are again having the same gun conversation.
As I have written before, I am a gun owner. I’m not into it, I just own them. I have pistols, shotguns and deer rifles. I inherited most of them from my father. I also have three grown children who are college students. Like the young women who were murdered, they go about their day on and around campus, not expecting that they could be shot and killed.
My question is this: Do I have to choose between guns and my children’s lives?
I’m beginning to wonder.
In Errol Morris’ new film, “The Unknown Known,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spends 103 minutes not answering any questions directly, unless the answers portrayed Rumsfeld in positive, heroic light. Morris also made another film in 2003 called “The Fog of War,” featuring a former defense secretary, Robert S. McNamara. In contrast, McNamara answered all the questions – particularly about his role in the Vietnam War – in such a painfully honest manner that the movie became an instant hit.
In 1987, Rumsfeld visited the newspaper I worked at in Portland, Ore., when he was traveling around the country to assess his chances to secure the 1988 GOP presidential nomination. At that stage, even the most prominent candidates are reduced to begging contributors for attention and meeting with editorial boards and reporters from the local newspaper, if they’re lucky.
The thing that struck me about Rumsfeld was that his nascent campaign seemed to be more about preventing Vice President George H.W. Bush from getting the nomination. Although, in Rumsfeld’s mind, of course, he would be the best candidate of all. After all, Bush was his archrival.
Both were young congressmen elected in 1966; both served in the Nixon administration as midlevel appointees, and then got real power in the Ford years: Rumsfeld became the youngest defense secretary ever at age 37, and Bush became CIA director and ambassador to China. Both men were on a collision course for the presidency, and it must have driven him insane to see Bush and his son become president.
I’m currently in the business of raising three millennials.
Trust me, it’s a business. I guess I’ve spent something like $100,000, more or less, in helping them. And that’s my half. My ex-wife has kicked in a similar amount, too. Less fortunate people I know have had to take out massive college loans, or their kids have. My two oldest have some student debt, but it’s chump change compared to an acquaintance of mine who took out $250,000 for their kids against their mortgage and then saw the housing market collapse.
Send Goldman Sachs the bill, right? Good luck. Just give them a bonus.
Maybe that’ll provide stimulus in the Hamptons.
OR7, the bi-locating Oregonian-Californian gray wolf who has been in search of a mate, has apparently settled down, according to his NSA-inspired tracking collar handlers at Oregon’s and California’s Departments of Fish and Wildlife.
I often have wondered whether there was a live wolf cam, or some sort of Tom Clancy-esque OR7 mission control bunker with huge display screens.
I have had a relationship with OR7. He was the dog I never had, and never had to walk. When I worked at the newspaper in Portland, I drew OR7 constantly. We ran a campaign in which OR7 was a presidential candidate. There were posters and bumper stickers. I took a measure of pride when OR7 received hundreds of write-in votes in Portland city and Multnomah County races. I turned him into a recognizable cartoon character.
I could project my thoughts and quirks – yes, I have quirks – onto OR7. He clearly is a kindred spirit. I imagined him drawing rudimentary pawprint cartoons on cave walls, or perhaps making comic remarks to ungulates he was about to devour.
As we approach the June 3 primary, most California newspapers are busy entertaining prospective candidates and cranking out serious endorsements for a slew of mundane races. The Sacramento Bee is no exception.
In some races, the choices are rather obvious: There’s one great candidate, and then there are cranks, perennials and people who orbit around Saturn. Other races feature multiple wholly qualified and distinguished candidates, and it’s hard to decide. Newspapers try to interview the major contenders in the area, and the candidates dutifully troop down to newspaper offices to present their case.
We try to be polite with everyone, I think, and give each wannabe office-holder a fair hearing, be it in person or in a telephone interview. However, I wonder whether there’s a more candid, descriptive way to characterize the people running. If I were writing the endorsement editorials, they would probably run like this.
State Senate District 41: The incumbent, Dee Nighall, has shown herself to be a slave to her political consultant as well as the three or four major labor unions that jerk her chain every 15 minutes. Nighall is currently under investigation by the FBI and lives in Nebraska. One challenger is a corporate something-or-other who will introduce a bill to permit her masters to make astronomical amounts of money without lifting a finger. The other, a shadowy figure who calls himself “The Dude,” offers a refreshing alternative to politics as usual. We like “The Dude.”
Jack Ohman/ email@example.com
As it is campaign season in California, we’ve seen a lot of political candidates around The Bee offices. There are so many offices, and so many candidates, that it’s easy to just dismiss them as self-serving climbers intent on moving up. Some are, but mostly, they don’t seem to be.
As a political cartoonist, I am reflexively trained to analyze them and their motives, and I do so. But I also get that what they are doing is very hard work and critical to the survival of American democracy. That may sound corny, but it’s a fact. Running for elected office is incredibly stressful work.
When I was a teenager growing up in Minnesota in the 1970s, I worked as a campaign aide for several political candidates. One was a state legislator, the other a state senator who was the Democratic nominee for Congress in Minnesota’s 1st Congressional District. I met Hubert Humphrey and Fritz Mondale several times, and did advance work for Mondale when he was vice president. I never ran for anything, but I sure wanted to.
The conversation about race in the United States has become all too familiar. The Celebrity Makes Offensive Statement, Everyone Objects, Media Firestorm, Shame/Resignation cycle seems endless. It’s a continuous loop.
Our most recent conversation involving Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was mercifully brief. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver decisively ended the conversation by expeditiously rising to the moment and ejecting this pathetic sybarite from the NBA.
One thing Silver wasn’t able to do was eject racism from the fiber of America.
Since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, American society has grown increasingly intolerant of Sterlingesque sentiments. Racial intolerence, even in this incident, hasn’t been restricted to Sterling’s bizarre and disturbing rant. In 2010, Floyd Mayweather Jr., the boxer, delivered a YouTube soliloquy about Manny Pacquiao, his opponent, in which he called him a “little yellow chump.”