Monday, July 22, 2024

Joe Biden Stands Down, Endorses Vice President Kamala Harris for Presidential Nomination


Time Magazine's cover was released hours after the news that Biden would drop out of the race. 


Joe Biden dropped out yesterday. I was browsing a bookstore that had a coffee shop where people sat and looked at their phones. It was a quiet day in coastal New England. The weather was sunny and not a lot of people wanted to be inside. I was a pretty good distance away from the coffee shop area when I heard a woman shout, "Biden's out!" I looked. She and her friend were furiously scrolling on their phones. I stopped and then took out my phone and started looking at Twitter, and then the New York Times to confirm. 


Some time between that afternoon and watching coverage on TV, Time Magazine released its cover, which, of course, went viral on social media. Rachel Maddow on NBC sounded giddy. "Harris will beat Trump," she said assuredly. I had mixed feelings. I knew Biden did something that only a great man could do: give up power; put country before ego. I also believe that this will energize the Democratic Party like nothing else. And the Republicans are angry.

This is a moment in history and it's scary and unprecedented and exciting for, I hope, good reasons. But that's just my take. Here's someone more qualified:

Historian and author Heather Cox Richardson writes about history and politics in her daily substack, "Letters from an American." I like her take and you can subscribe at the link if you would like her essays in your in box every morning. Here is today's column:


“My Fellow Americans,

“Over the past three and a half years, we have made great progress as a Nation.

“Today, America has the strongest economy in the world. We’ve made historic investments in rebuilding our Nation, in lowering prescription drug costs for seniors, and in expanding affordable health care to a record number of Americans. We’ve provided critically needed care to a million veterans exposed to toxic substances. Passed the first gun safety law in 30 years.

“Appointed the first African American woman to the Supreme Court. And passed the most significant climate legislation in the history of the world. America has never been better positioned to lead than we are today.

“I know none of this could have been done without you, the American people. Together, we overcame a once in a century pandemic and the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We’ve protected and preserved our Democracy. And we’ve revitalized and strengthened our alliances around the world.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve as your President. And while it has been my intention to seek reelection, I believe it is in the best interest of my party and the country for me to stand down and to focus solely on fulfilling my duties as President for the remainder of my term.

“I will speak to the Nation later this week in more detail about my decision.

“For now, let me express my deepest gratitude to all those who have worked so hard to see me reelected. I want to thank Vice President Kamala Harris for being an extraordinary partner in all this work. And let me express my heartfelt appreciation to the American people for the faith and trust you have placed in me.

“I believe today what I always have: that there is nothing America can’t do—when we do it together. We just have to remember we are the United States of America.”

With this letter, posted on X this afternoon, President Joe Biden announced he would not accept the Democratic nomination for president. So ended the storyline begun after the event on June 27, when Biden appeared unable to respond effectively to Trump’s verbal assaults. Since then, there has been a drumbeat of media stories and some demands from Democratic lawmakers and donors calling for Biden to step aside and refuse to run for a second term. Increasingly, that drumbeat imperiled his reelection, opening the way for Trump’s election to install a dictatorship of Christian nationalism.

In another post shortly after the first, Biden endorsed Vice President Kamala Harris for the presidential nomination, writing: “My fellow Democrats, I have decided not to accept the nomination and to focus all my energies on my duties as President for the remainder of my term. My very first decision as the party nominee in 2020 was to pick Kamala Harris as my Vice President. And it’s been the best decision I’ve made. Today I want to offer my full support and endorsement for Kamala to be the nominee of our party this year. Democrats—it’s time to come together and beat Trump. Let’s do this.”

Harris smoothly took the baton. “On behalf of the American people, I thank Joe Biden for his extraordinary leadership as President of the United States and for his decades of service to our country,” she wrote. “His remarkable legacy of accomplishment is unmatched in modern American history, surpassing the legacy of many Presidents who have served two terms in office.

“It is a profound honor to serve as his Vice President, and I am deeply grateful to the President, Dr. Biden, and the entire Biden family. I first came to know President Biden through his son Beau. We were friends from our days working together as Attorneys General of our home states. As we worked together, Beau would tell me stories about his Dad. The kind of father—and the kind of man—he was. And the qualities Beau revered in his father are the same qualities, the same values, I have seen every single day in Joe’s leadership as President: His honesty and integrity. His big heart and commitment to his faith and his family. And his love of our country and the American people.

“With this selfless and patriotic act, President Biden is doing what he has done throughout his life of service: putting the American people and our country above everything else.

“I am honored to have the President’s endorsement and my intention is to earn and win this nomination. Over the past year, I have traveled across the country, talking with Americans about the clear choice in this momentous election. And that is what I will continue to do in the days and weeks ahead. I will do everything in my power to unite the Democratic Party—and unite our nation—to defeat Donald Trump and his extreme Project 2025 agenda. 

“We have 107 days until Election Day. Together, we will fight. And together, we will win.”

Biden’s announcement ended the month of suspense under which the Democrats have lived, and in the hours since, they appear to be coalescing around Harris with enthusiasm. Those who might have challenged her nomination have stepped up to support her: California governor Gavin Newsom, Pennsylvania governor Josh Shapiro, North Carolina governor Roy Cooper, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg all backed Harris; Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer said she does not intend to challenge Harris. By tonight, all of the state Democratic Party chairs were on board with Harris. Endorsements continued to pour in. 

So did money. Following Biden’s endorsement of Harris, donors contributed more than $46.7 million to Democratic races before 9:00 p.m., and major donors, who had paused donations to Biden, have said they will contribute to Harris’s campaign. The Biden-Harris team also managed the paperwork to transfer the $95 million in Biden’s campaign coffers to Harris because the money was raised for the ticket, rather than for Biden alone. 

But party rules say that Biden cannot pass his delegates to another candidate, so Harris will have to cement them on her own, as well as the superdelegates, a group of party leaders and former elected officials whose votes carry weight in the convention. As of 10 p.m. on Sunday, she had won 531 of the 1,986 delegates necessary to win the nomination. 

Biden’s decision has left the Republicans in deep trouble, and they are illustrating their dilemma with high-pitched anger that the ticket of their opponents has changed and by insisting that if Biden is not fit for another four-year term he must resign the presidency immediately. House speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has said he will sue to try to keep Biden in the race; Democratic election litigator Marc Elias responded that “if your lawyers are telling you that they can prevent the D[emocratic] N[ational] C[ommittee] from nominating its candidate of choice, they are idiots. I know a lot about that, since I beat them more than 60x in court after the 2020 election.”

Trump, meanwhile, has posted seven times about Biden since he dropped out of the race. He has ignored Harris. 

The Republicans’ anger reflects that fact that if Biden is off the ticket, they are in yet another pickle. Just last week, the Republicans nominated Donald Trump, who is 78, for president. Having made age their central complaint about Biden, they are now faced with having nominated the oldest candidate in U.S. history, who repeatedly fell asleep at his own nominating convention as well as his criminal trial, who often fumbles words, and who cannot seem to keep a coherent train of thought. Democrats immediately pounced on Trump with all the comments Republicans had been making about Biden. Republicans have already suggested that Trump will not debate Harris, a former prosecutor. 

With 39-year-old Ohio senator J.D. Vance now their vice presidential nominee, it will be tempting for Republicans to push Trump out of the presidential slot. But aside from the fury that would evoke from Trump loyalists, it would further alienate women from the Republican ticket. Republicans were already losing voters over their overturning of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that recognized the constitutional right to abortion, so many that Trump has recently tried to sound as if he is moderating his stance on abortion and to appeal to women in other ways. Just this weekend at a rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Trump appeared to be courting suburban women by promising to “stop the plunder, rape, slaughter and destruction of our American suburbs and cities” he implied had taken place under Biden. (In fact, violent crime has decreased significantly since 2020.)

Vance is an extremist who supports a national abortion ban, has said he does not believe in exceptions for rape or incest in abortion bans, and has praised women who stay in abusive marriages. 

Biden’s decision not to accept the Democratic presidential nomination has created yet another conspicuous contrast with Trump. Thanks for a job well done and praise for his statesmanship have been pouring out ever since Biden made his announcement—indeed, they have apparently convinced some people that he has stepped down from the job altogether, while in fact he will remain the president for another six months.

Among others, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called Biden “an extraordinary guardian of America’s national security,” thanked him for his leadership and statesmanship, and called him “one of our great foreign-policy presidents.” President Lyndon B. Johnson’s daughters called him “a patriot without peer” and said, “we love you and thank you for your selfless service to all who love democracy, social justice and the rule of law.” 

For all the accolades, though, it is likely that the one the family-oriented president values most came from his son Hunter, whom the Republicans hammered for years as a proxy for his father.

“For my entire life, I’ve looked at my dad in awe,” the younger Biden wrote. “How could he suffer so much heartache and yet give so much of whatever remained of his heart to others? Not only in the policies he passed, but in the individual lives he’s touched…. That unconditional love has been his North Star as a President, and as a parent. He is unique in public life today in that there is no distance between Joe Biden the man and Joe Biden the public servant of the last 54 years. I’m so lucky every night I get to tell him I love him, and to thank him. I ask all Americans to join me tonight in doing the same.” 

In a time of dictators, Trump tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election and install himself in power against the wishes of the people. President Joe Biden voluntarily turned away from reelection in order to give the people a better shot at preserving our democracy. 

He demonstrated what it means to put the country first.



















Friday, July 19, 2024

GORDON'S JET FLIGHT Illustrations by Mel Crawford

Today, we look at traveling the skies of 1961 -- when flying in a plane was something that you got dressed up to do. Here is GORDON'S JET FLIGHT, a Little Golden Activity Book, by Naomi J. Glasson, with pictures by Mel Crawford. Golden Press, New York, 1961.


Above, this is the way it used to be: you walk off the jet, onto the tarmac, waving like you're on an old newsreel. I note that Gordon's flight did not have any people of color aboard.



Above, you can see that the "authentic 707 Astrojet* to punch out and assemble" was long since torn out, played with and lost; thereby destroying the collectability of the book! And, yes, gentle blog reader, you guessed correctly: this is our title character, dressed as a corporate businessman, looking up at the 707 Astrojet.


"This Little Golden Book is for every boy and girl who wants to know what it's like to travel by 'jet.' The story and pictures were carefully checked by one of out leading airlines." Aha! Corporate propaganda!


Uh ... so where is Homeland Security and the X-ray machines?

"There was a blue truck with oil, and an orange truck with cargo. A green truck brought water for the passengers to drink." I hope those silly workers don't get the trucks mixed up! Good thing they're union!


It's creepy that Dad and son are wearing the same Van Heusen overcoat. Later on, and creepier still: we see that Gordon's blue blazer sports a prissy little crest over its pocket.


Here is an opportunity for a "B" story: what is Daddy doing while he stays home? That would have been intriguing. Perhaps a torrid affair with one of the union ground crew? Ahh, that story, alas, would never be told. At least not in a Little Golden Book.


And here is, what they call in movies, the beauty shot of that Astrojet.*


Everything looks so spacious and everyone is so happy. Gordon pushes his chair back, and experiences real Astrobus* comfort. Of course, the poor slob seated behind Gordon gets his G&T spilled in the process, natch.


Gordon looks at the train, far, far below. "Only little people take the train, Mummy!"

Please note how he delegates the responsibility of amusing himself by ordering his mother to get a magazine for him.


My frame of reference for the above picture on the left is, of course, Peter Graves as the pilot in the movie AIRPLANE! (1980) who incessantly asks the little boy visiting their cockpit if he likes "gladiator movies."

On the facing page, our well-fed, well-dressed, over-privileged title character is given a "pilot's ring." A ring? I guess it's that other airline that passes out those pins.


The airplane appears to be emitting some kind of transmat anti-particle beam from its fuselage. At least that's what's Geordi LaForge, in his best technobabble, might remark upon seeing this picture.

Illustrator Mel Crawford, who worked for Disney, passed away in 2015. His Lambiek page has bio information.

*Service Mark of American Airlines, Inc.

 -- This has been an edited version of a blog entry that originally appeared on October 8, 2007 and I am writing this as flights around the world are grounded today due to a Microsoft glitch.


Thursday, July 18, 2024

Bob Newhart 1929 - 2024

Bob Newhart has just died at the age of 94.  

When I was nine years old I had a toothache and felt crummy, and since it was Sunday in Lawrence, KS there wasn't a dentist around. I had to wait. My Dad, trying to cheer me up, asked me if I had ever heard of Bob Newhart. He put on The Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart, and gosh it was funny. I listened to all of them: The Cruise of the USS Codfish, The Kruschev Landing Rehearsal (which Dad just referenced in a phone conversation last month), and this one below: the Driving Instructor sketch. It only runs about eight minutes and it's great. This was all before he had his television shows. Anyway, I loved the comedy, and as far as I recall, but that night, I had no toothache after all those laughs.

And in 2007 I had the opportunity to see him live and in person at Brooklyn College where he performed, among other new and old segments, his Driving Instructor bit and the crowd laughed loudly, like they all did on the 1960 record album. Here it is if you don't know it.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Video: Surreal Japanese 1985 Renown Clothing TV Advertisement


 Well, it's a little crazy here. I got nothing but bills. Need some trees taken down, the insurance is due and I got bills from the doctor coming up. (I am fine.) The bare minimum for each of these is $1,000. Right now: more outgo than income, y' know? Freelancing makes it hard sometimes, but I am still hopeful that things will get better. I just feel overwhelmed and so I saw this really weird 1985 TV advertisement for Renown clothing. I don't know why I saw it. I don't wear Renown clothing or had even heard of it before now. It was just there, on my social media feed. Why? Only the inner workings of the logarithms can say. But it cheered me, in that 1980s dreamy video style, and so I present it here for anyone who, like me, may feel overwhelmed and needs a break. Better days are coming -- but they won't be as whacky and surreal as this commercial. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

1966 Video: Cartoonist Bob Dunn: To Tell The Truth

(Above photo of Bob Dunn tossing a lucky horseshoe via the Comics Kingdom Ask the Archivist blog. The THEY’LL DO IT EVERY TIME original of December 17, 1948 is on his board.)

Some years back, Lone Ranger artist and pal Tom Gill would describe Bob Dunn to me. Bob Dunn (1908 - 1989) was the long-time assistant on THEY'LL DO IT EVERY TIME by Jimmy Hatlo. Bob, and later, Al Scaduto, assisted on the strip as well as all the LITTLE IODINE comics too. According to King Features, Bob was such a ball of energy, that King let him do his own strip, JUST THE TYPE, to keep him happy. According to historian Allan Holtz was

[N]ever a syndication success, King Features may well have let him do the feature just to keep him happy while working on the Hatlo cash cow feature... When Hatlo died in 1963, though, Dunn's workload presumably got that much heavier and JUST THE TYPE was dropped. Dunn finally got an official byline on THEY'LL DO IT EVERY TIME starting in 1966

Bob Dunn was also a joke writer, contributing to books and magazines, as well as Earl Carroll's successful Vanities show on Broadway.  He was an author with such titles as HOSPITAL HAPPY, I'M GONNA BE A FATHER, and ONE DAY IN THE ARMY among others. These sold in the millions. During WWII, Bob toured with the USO drawing on-the-spot live caricatures of the soldiers and doing his "amateur magic act."

Bob was there in New York City in 1947, at the very beginning of the NCS. Tom Gill downplayed who Bob Dunn was, really. Bob was more than an emcee, he was one of the founders of the group. He and his pal Rube Goldberg raised $58 million for US Savings Bonds during a three month tour that year. Bob would go on to be the "official toastmaster" for the NCS and served as its President from 1965-67.

So, good ol' Tom Gill would tell me about Bob and what a firecracker he was. And Tom would always end his Bob Dunn anecdotes with, "I wish you would have met him. He was a great guy."

Today, I just found out that Bob was on TV, as early as 1946. And someone saved some of the old kinescopes. 

The closest I have yet come to actually seeing Bob Dunn in action is a copy of an old short-lived game show titled QUICK ON THE DRAW. It was on a couple of networks and a couple of hosts while it was on the air from 1950 to 1952. This segment has ventriloquist Paul Winchell (and Jerry Mahoney) hosting. While I can't say for sure, it may be Bob Dunn drawing. (The cartoonist is unseen.)


Via Wikipedia:

"They'll Do It Every Time and Little Iodine brought Dunn several awards. He won the National Cartoonists Society Newspaper Panel Cartoon Award for the years 1968 and 1969. He won it again in 1979 with Al Scaduto. Dunn won the National Cartoonists Society's highest honor, the Reuben Award, in 1975. He also received their Silver T-Square Award in 1957 and the Elzie Segar Award, named after the creator of Popeye."

Here is Bob Dunn on the January 10, 1966 To Tell the Truth game show. He's one of the contestants in the final segment, which starts here or watch the whole episode:

I first posted about Bob Dunn on August 29, 2016. This is an expanded, edited version of that blog entry. And I wanted to add this comment, from Bob's son, that he recently posted on the 2016 post:
"Mike, Bob Dunn was my father. tom gill a good friend of his. Knew his son. I have been looking for a kinescope of a Quick on the Draw episode. The show ran on the Dumont Network and later on NBC. The You tube account you included in your post has been cancelled so the clip is no longer on You Tube. Any chance you still have it? Would love to see it. Thanks. Bob Dunn Jr."
Thanks, Bob, for your kind comment. I did find a working version of that episode. and it's posted above. Unfortunately, like most of the DuMont Network shows of the early 1950s, the shows with your Dad hosting are lost. This is darn sad. The closest I go to was that episode hosted by Winchell, which was later on and on another network. But Bob Dunn may or may not be drawing backstage. I am not sure. I did find him on To Tell the Truth, and that's now included in the entry.

Monday, July 15, 2024

The Garden As of July 15, 2024



The garden as of July 15th. Lots of zinnias and some Queen Anne’s Lace that I thought was carrots (!!!) last month. Tomatoes, cukes in containers on porch doing well, as are flowers in the yard. Fergus the cat is snoozing in my studio. It’s his way of “helping.” 

The above bed is in need of repair and there's nothing here except for remnants of winter rye for now. 


There are still some branches down from the late winter storms. 


Friday, July 12, 2024

Back to the Local Drawings by Edward Ardizzone


Back to the Local, by Maurice Gorham, was first published in 1938 and was a celebration of the habit of going to your local London pub. The illustrations were by the great Edward Ardizzone.

"In his foreword to ‘Back to the Local’ Maurice Gorham explains that the life of the original book came to an end during the war when ‘unsold copies, sheets, and plates of the drawings went up together in the burning of Cassell’s premises in Belle Sauvage Yard’. After the war, Gorham and Ardizzone revisited the subject. Ardizzone re-drew some of his original illustrations and added some more, and Gorham re-wrote his text to take into account the many changes to pubs and pub going since the end of the war. (At the time of writing beer was still being rationed). In his introductory essay he explains that during the war visiting one’s local was one of the habits that Londoners missed most: 

"‘Whether they were parching in the desert, evacuated with their jobs to unfamiliar seaside towns or country villages or inland spas, or merely working the night shift, many of them would be thinking and talking mainly about the time when they would again be able to drop into the old friendly local and have a pint or two among their friends.'" -- The Silver Locket

The book will be reprinted in the States soon, and is already out in the UK. The Silver Locket again:

"‘Back to the Local’, this new edition published by Faber & Faber Ltd in 2024, with an new preface by Robert Elms, and a map featuring the pubs still open for business today by Emily Faccini.

"You can buy a copy direct from Faber and receive a free beer mat featuring the cover, designed by Pete Adlington, Faber’s Art Director."


Here are some of the Ardizzone drawings from Back to the Local:


This new edition has a map on the back of the cover showing 65 pubs still open today. Designed by Emily Faccini.


What with a lot of Ardizzone's published work going out of print, it was such happy news to hear of this new reprint edition returning to bookstores.