Commentary Magazine


Topic: Boston Herald

RE: ObamaCare Hits Home

Verizon and Caterpillar aren’t the only employers warning of rising health-care costs due to ObamaCare:

Deere & Company, Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, said in a statement this morning that the recently-passed health care legislation will cost the company $150 million after tax this year.The company said the impact would be felt primarily in the second quarter, between April 1 and July 1.

Deere spokesman Ken Golden said the charge would be taken as a one-time cost to cover the new tax the Health Care bill imposes on subsidies paid to corporations for retiree prescription costs under a 2003 Medicare bill.

“The 2003 legislation encouraged companies to stay in the game and continue to fund their retirees’ prescriptions,” Golden said. “Otherwise, the retirees would go onto the Medicare prescription program which would cost the government more money.”

Manufacturers of medical devices are also sending out warnings. (“Medical-device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off a thousand workers.”) The Boston Herald explains:

A dire warning from Bay State medical-device companies that a new sales tax in the federal health-care law could force their plants — and thousands of jobs — out of the country has rattled Gov. Deval Patrick, a staunch backer of the law and pal President Obama.

“This bill is a jobs killer,” said Ernie Whiton, chief financial officer of Chelmsford’s Zoll Medical Corp., which employs about 650 people in Massachusetts. Many of those employees work in Zoll’s local manufacturing facility making heart defibrillators. “We could be forced to (move) manufacturing overseas if we can’t pass along these costs to our customers,” said Whiton.

The threat — echoed by others in the critical Massachusetts industry — had the governor vowing to intervene to block the sales tax impact. “I am obviously concerned about the medical device burden here on the commonwealth, which has a very robust industry around medical devices,” Patrick said yesterday.

Well, he wasn’t concerned enough to lobby against the bill before it was passed. But this issue and other predictable consequences of ObamaCare will no doubt absorb much of the debate between now and November. Hey, if Deval Patrick thinks it’s a jobs killer, perhaps “Repeal and Reform” isn’t so far-fetched after all.

Verizon and Caterpillar aren’t the only employers warning of rising health-care costs due to ObamaCare:

Deere & Company, Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, said in a statement this morning that the recently-passed health care legislation will cost the company $150 million after tax this year.The company said the impact would be felt primarily in the second quarter, between April 1 and July 1.

Deere spokesman Ken Golden said the charge would be taken as a one-time cost to cover the new tax the Health Care bill imposes on subsidies paid to corporations for retiree prescription costs under a 2003 Medicare bill.

“The 2003 legislation encouraged companies to stay in the game and continue to fund their retirees’ prescriptions,” Golden said. “Otherwise, the retirees would go onto the Medicare prescription program which would cost the government more money.”

Manufacturers of medical devices are also sending out warnings. (“Medical-device maker Medtronic warned that new taxes on its products could force it to lay off a thousand workers.”) The Boston Herald explains:

A dire warning from Bay State medical-device companies that a new sales tax in the federal health-care law could force their plants — and thousands of jobs — out of the country has rattled Gov. Deval Patrick, a staunch backer of the law and pal President Obama.

“This bill is a jobs killer,” said Ernie Whiton, chief financial officer of Chelmsford’s Zoll Medical Corp., which employs about 650 people in Massachusetts. Many of those employees work in Zoll’s local manufacturing facility making heart defibrillators. “We could be forced to (move) manufacturing overseas if we can’t pass along these costs to our customers,” said Whiton.

The threat — echoed by others in the critical Massachusetts industry — had the governor vowing to intervene to block the sales tax impact. “I am obviously concerned about the medical device burden here on the commonwealth, which has a very robust industry around medical devices,” Patrick said yesterday.

Well, he wasn’t concerned enough to lobby against the bill before it was passed. But this issue and other predictable consequences of ObamaCare will no doubt absorb much of the debate between now and November. Hey, if Deval Patrick thinks it’s a jobs killer, perhaps “Repeal and Reform” isn’t so far-fetched after all.

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Crying Sexism

A duo of female reporters for Politico are convinced that the rest of us are ignoring the real meaning in the Massachusetts race: “a glass ceiling that remains almost impenetrable, even in the blue state of Massachusetts.” You see, there’s a devious “double standard that some longtime women’s advocates see in the success of Republican Scott Brown, whose college-aged centerfold and lesser professional success didn’t prevent him from capturing Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat from the Democrats.” And this cursed sexism really just exists in Massachusetts, mind you. Sexism is no problem in “nearby Maine, where both senators are women.”

Oh, puhleez. This sort of woe is me/her is getting old. The indifference to all other political facts and phenomena in order to play the gender victim card is tiresome. There is of course no real evidence of this sexism. Nor does anyone think Coakley actually deserved to win. In fact, the reporters say that Coakley’s gender worked to her advantage in the primary and that gender really didn’t come up in the race. The best the duo can come up with is one female Boston Herald columnist who made some cracks, a Teamster boss who wouldn’t vote “for a broad,” one crude comment by someone in the crowd at one Brown rally, and some Internet commenters. That’s it.

There are plenty of legitimate theories to explain the results in Massachusetts. Sexism isn’t one of them, however. The reporters only embarrass themselves and their publication by crying sexism with nothing to back it up. It’s the Keith Olbermann style of “news” — non-news really. Olbermann last night pretended to apologize for calling Scott Brown “an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, tea-bagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.” He added: “I’m sorry I left out the word ‘sexist.'” He then simply dared his audience to disprove his baseless slurs.

This seems now to be the operating standard for much of what passes for “journalism” — make a slur, repeat it, offer no proof, and challenge the targets to defend themselves. We’ve come to expect that of MSNBC, but MSNBC’s less loony journalistic colleagues should resist the temptation to follow in the netroot network’s footsteps.

A duo of female reporters for Politico are convinced that the rest of us are ignoring the real meaning in the Massachusetts race: “a glass ceiling that remains almost impenetrable, even in the blue state of Massachusetts.” You see, there’s a devious “double standard that some longtime women’s advocates see in the success of Republican Scott Brown, whose college-aged centerfold and lesser professional success didn’t prevent him from capturing Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat from the Democrats.” And this cursed sexism really just exists in Massachusetts, mind you. Sexism is no problem in “nearby Maine, where both senators are women.”

Oh, puhleez. This sort of woe is me/her is getting old. The indifference to all other political facts and phenomena in order to play the gender victim card is tiresome. There is of course no real evidence of this sexism. Nor does anyone think Coakley actually deserved to win. In fact, the reporters say that Coakley’s gender worked to her advantage in the primary and that gender really didn’t come up in the race. The best the duo can come up with is one female Boston Herald columnist who made some cracks, a Teamster boss who wouldn’t vote “for a broad,” one crude comment by someone in the crowd at one Brown rally, and some Internet commenters. That’s it.

There are plenty of legitimate theories to explain the results in Massachusetts. Sexism isn’t one of them, however. The reporters only embarrass themselves and their publication by crying sexism with nothing to back it up. It’s the Keith Olbermann style of “news” — non-news really. Olbermann last night pretended to apologize for calling Scott Brown “an irresponsible, homophobic, racist, reactionary, ex-nude model, tea-bagging supporter of violence against women and against politicians with whom he disagrees.” He added: “I’m sorry I left out the word ‘sexist.'” He then simply dared his audience to disprove his baseless slurs.

This seems now to be the operating standard for much of what passes for “journalism” — make a slur, repeat it, offer no proof, and challenge the targets to defend themselves. We’ve come to expect that of MSNBC, but MSNBC’s less loony journalistic colleagues should resist the temptation to follow in the netroot network’s footsteps.

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Brown in the Lead?

A new poll shows Scott Brown up by 4 points in Massachusetts. The Boston Herald reports:

Although Brown’s 4-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley is within the Suffolk University/7News survey’s margin of error, the underdog’s position at the top of the results stunned even pollster David Paleologos. “It’s a Brown-out,” said Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center. “It’s a massive change in the political landscape.” …

Paleologos said bellweather [sic] models show high numbers of independent voters turning out on election day, which benefits Brown, who has 65 percent of that bloc compared to Coakley’s 30 percent. Kennedy earns just 3 percent of the independent vote, and 1 percent are undecided.

Is the poll an outlier or simply the first to pick up that Brown has moved into the lead? Well, that’s why polling gurus like Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg call it a “toss-up.” Think about that: there is no longer a clear advantage in Massachusetts for the Democrat.

Chalk it up to a weak Democratic candidate or to a lame campaign. Blame the Democrats for arrogance in assuming that this was a safe seat. But frankly, who could have blamed them? In September, Coakley was ahead in the polls by 30 points.

Since then, however, something has fundamentally changed. Since September, the country has witnessed the visible battle over ObamaCare — late-night votes, Cash for Cloture deals, and a bill that offends a wide array of groups. Democrats have never looked up or paused to consider the public’s views on the matter. They tell us they will “sell it” to us later. That arrogant defiance of public opinion and the unseemly legislative process that produced a grossly unpopular bill have fueled a resurgence of anger and determination among conservatives and even usually apathetic independents. They now are anxious to send a message to Washington: stop ignoring the voters. We saw it in New Jersey and Virginia. Now we learn that even Massachusetts may not be immune.

The Democrats’ agenda, specifically a hugely unpopular health-care bill, has unified and energized not the proponents of big government but the opposition, which now is itching for the chance to exact revenge. We’ll see on Tuesday if that wave of resentment is so powerful as to extend even to a state so Blue that a little over a year ago, Obama carried it by more than 25 points. My how things change.

A new poll shows Scott Brown up by 4 points in Massachusetts. The Boston Herald reports:

Although Brown’s 4-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley is within the Suffolk University/7News survey’s margin of error, the underdog’s position at the top of the results stunned even pollster David Paleologos. “It’s a Brown-out,” said Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center. “It’s a massive change in the political landscape.” …

Paleologos said bellweather [sic] models show high numbers of independent voters turning out on election day, which benefits Brown, who has 65 percent of that bloc compared to Coakley’s 30 percent. Kennedy earns just 3 percent of the independent vote, and 1 percent are undecided.

Is the poll an outlier or simply the first to pick up that Brown has moved into the lead? Well, that’s why polling gurus like Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg call it a “toss-up.” Think about that: there is no longer a clear advantage in Massachusetts for the Democrat.

Chalk it up to a weak Democratic candidate or to a lame campaign. Blame the Democrats for arrogance in assuming that this was a safe seat. But frankly, who could have blamed them? In September, Coakley was ahead in the polls by 30 points.

Since then, however, something has fundamentally changed. Since September, the country has witnessed the visible battle over ObamaCare — late-night votes, Cash for Cloture deals, and a bill that offends a wide array of groups. Democrats have never looked up or paused to consider the public’s views on the matter. They tell us they will “sell it” to us later. That arrogant defiance of public opinion and the unseemly legislative process that produced a grossly unpopular bill have fueled a resurgence of anger and determination among conservatives and even usually apathetic independents. They now are anxious to send a message to Washington: stop ignoring the voters. We saw it in New Jersey and Virginia. Now we learn that even Massachusetts may not be immune.

The Democrats’ agenda, specifically a hugely unpopular health-care bill, has unified and energized not the proponents of big government but the opposition, which now is itching for the chance to exact revenge. We’ll see on Tuesday if that wave of resentment is so powerful as to extend even to a state so Blue that a little over a year ago, Obama carried it by more than 25 points. My how things change.

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On McCain’s Sleeve

In a hastily arranged call with bloggers, John McCain began by touting his travels with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whose endorsement he termed a “coup.” However, he clearly had something on his mind: the accusation circulating in conservative circles that he disapproved of Justice Samuel Alito because he wore his conservatism “on his sleeve.”

He spoke with the energy and verve he usually reserved for discussions of fiscal discipline, saying that he supported and worked for Alito’s confirmation and frequently had said on the campaign trail that he would appoint justices in the mold of Justices Alito and Roberts. In follow-up questions McCain said that he did not recall ever having such a conversation of the type John Fund of the Wall Street Journal ascribed to him, but that he has been clear that he will search for justices devoted to originalist  interpretation. He added that the “beauty” of the Alito and Roberts nominations was that they had a clear record and “we could rely on them to strictly interpret the Constitution.”

Later in the call he was asked about appointing justices who might strike down McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform. He gave an interesting answer  I had not heard previously. He said that he could not let his biases (i.e. his policy preferences) affect his decision to appoint strict constructionist judges who might not agree with him on part of his agenda. In short, he said that the decisions rendered by these judges might “far exceed my agenda.”

In response to my question as to whether Florida was a “must win” state, he would only say that it was “very important.” He acknowledged that the tone had gotten sharper in the last day or so and there was always a danger of turning off voters, but said that he was just responding to Mitt Romney’s attacks as he had in Iowa and New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, he said that his responses were accurate and Romney’s were “desperate.”

He also used the opportunity to toss some red meat to the base. First, he repeated a litany of issues on which he would be “eager” to debate the Democrats and said that the election would highlight “fundamental differences” between the parties. Second, in the context of a question about why he was no longer friends with Pat Buchanan, he was careful to say only nice things about Buchanan and then went out of his way to declare that it would be critical if he got the nomination to “really unite the party.” He stressed that the GOP “has a lot of work to do” and that ” we need everyone pulling in the same direction.”

Unfortunately, technical difficulties ended the call as he was explaining why he did not mind getting liberal newspaper endorsements (saying in effect that he was glad they support his agenda, even if he doesn’t support theirs) — including the Boston Globe, which along with the conservative Boston Herald favored him over near-favorite son Romney.

Bottom line: This was a “reassure the base” call. For those who don’t want to be reassured, it likely would not suffice. For those who needed a bit more assurance, his advocacy of strict judicial interpretation and his eagerness to take on the Democrats was likely welcome news.

In a hastily arranged call with bloggers, John McCain began by touting his travels with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whose endorsement he termed a “coup.” However, he clearly had something on his mind: the accusation circulating in conservative circles that he disapproved of Justice Samuel Alito because he wore his conservatism “on his sleeve.”

He spoke with the energy and verve he usually reserved for discussions of fiscal discipline, saying that he supported and worked for Alito’s confirmation and frequently had said on the campaign trail that he would appoint justices in the mold of Justices Alito and Roberts. In follow-up questions McCain said that he did not recall ever having such a conversation of the type John Fund of the Wall Street Journal ascribed to him, but that he has been clear that he will search for justices devoted to originalist  interpretation. He added that the “beauty” of the Alito and Roberts nominations was that they had a clear record and “we could rely on them to strictly interpret the Constitution.”

Later in the call he was asked about appointing justices who might strike down McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform. He gave an interesting answer  I had not heard previously. He said that he could not let his biases (i.e. his policy preferences) affect his decision to appoint strict constructionist judges who might not agree with him on part of his agenda. In short, he said that the decisions rendered by these judges might “far exceed my agenda.”

In response to my question as to whether Florida was a “must win” state, he would only say that it was “very important.” He acknowledged that the tone had gotten sharper in the last day or so and there was always a danger of turning off voters, but said that he was just responding to Mitt Romney’s attacks as he had in Iowa and New Hampshire. Not surprisingly, he said that his responses were accurate and Romney’s were “desperate.”

He also used the opportunity to toss some red meat to the base. First, he repeated a litany of issues on which he would be “eager” to debate the Democrats and said that the election would highlight “fundamental differences” between the parties. Second, in the context of a question about why he was no longer friends with Pat Buchanan, he was careful to say only nice things about Buchanan and then went out of his way to declare that it would be critical if he got the nomination to “really unite the party.” He stressed that the GOP “has a lot of work to do” and that ” we need everyone pulling in the same direction.”

Unfortunately, technical difficulties ended the call as he was explaining why he did not mind getting liberal newspaper endorsements (saying in effect that he was glad they support his agenda, even if he doesn’t support theirs) — including the Boston Globe, which along with the conservative Boston Herald favored him over near-favorite son Romney.

Bottom line: This was a “reassure the base” call. For those who don’t want to be reassured, it likely would not suffice. For those who needed a bit more assurance, his advocacy of strict judicial interpretation and his eagerness to take on the Democrats was likely welcome news.

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“Mitt Romney…Helped Save My Daughter”

At first blush, this seems like a genuinely great campaign ad — the story of how Mitt Romney basically closed down his business, Bain Capital, in 1996 when the daughter of one of his partners went missing in New York City and Romney sent dozens and finally hundreds of employees to New York to engage in a massive search through the streets for her. It was indeed a selfless and noble thing to do. However, the ad implies Melissa Gay had been kidnapped or something equally sinister, and that is not what happened. As a quick search of the New York Times and Boston Globe archives reveals, she went missing after she traveled to New York from Ridgefield, Conn., on her own, took Ecstasy at a concert on Randalls Island, ended up at a party under the Whitestone Bridge in The Bronx, met a boy there who took her to his house in New Jersey, and stayed with him for a few days, too embarrassed (I would wager) to call her parents and have them come get her. No charges were filed against the boy, which suggests her presence in his house was consensual. I’m sure it was a nightmarish time for her parents, and it was unquestionably was a noble thing Romney did to step in and direct the resources of his firm, including its employees, to search for her. But a) she wasn’t in need of “saving” in the way the ad’s narrative implies and b) there’s no evidence in the open record that the Bain Capital search, wonderfully well-intentioned, was responsible for Melissa’s safe return to her family. UPDATE: There is some contention in the comments below that indeed Melissa Gay was in danger from an Ecstasy overdose. That does not comport with the contemporaneous record. According to the Boston Herald on the day after she was found, “The hunt went on until a family in Montville, N.J., heard of it and called police later to say Missy was with them and fine.”  An overdosing teenager is not “fine,” but Melissa evidently was, and probably knew her parents’ home phone number. And, for the record, I am not, nor have I ever been, an adviser to the Giuliani campaign, paid or unpaid.

At first blush, this seems like a genuinely great campaign ad — the story of how Mitt Romney basically closed down his business, Bain Capital, in 1996 when the daughter of one of his partners went missing in New York City and Romney sent dozens and finally hundreds of employees to New York to engage in a massive search through the streets for her. It was indeed a selfless and noble thing to do. However, the ad implies Melissa Gay had been kidnapped or something equally sinister, and that is not what happened. As a quick search of the New York Times and Boston Globe archives reveals, she went missing after she traveled to New York from Ridgefield, Conn., on her own, took Ecstasy at a concert on Randalls Island, ended up at a party under the Whitestone Bridge in The Bronx, met a boy there who took her to his house in New Jersey, and stayed with him for a few days, too embarrassed (I would wager) to call her parents and have them come get her. No charges were filed against the boy, which suggests her presence in his house was consensual. I’m sure it was a nightmarish time for her parents, and it was unquestionably was a noble thing Romney did to step in and direct the resources of his firm, including its employees, to search for her. But a) she wasn’t in need of “saving” in the way the ad’s narrative implies and b) there’s no evidence in the open record that the Bain Capital search, wonderfully well-intentioned, was responsible for Melissa’s safe return to her family. UPDATE: There is some contention in the comments below that indeed Melissa Gay was in danger from an Ecstasy overdose. That does not comport with the contemporaneous record. According to the Boston Herald on the day after she was found, “The hunt went on until a family in Montville, N.J., heard of it and called police later to say Missy was with them and fine.”  An overdosing teenager is not “fine,” but Melissa evidently was, and probably knew her parents’ home phone number. And, for the record, I am not, nor have I ever been, an adviser to the Giuliani campaign, paid or unpaid.

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Cartoons After Columbia

Unctuous bows, veiled threats, and smug mockery do not an edifying speech make, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s performance at Columbia University offers at least one consolation: the cartoons. The utter absurdity of the event has drawn forth a pageant of arresting editorial cartoons, some quite amusing. But only one managed to capture its essential grotesqueness—the ostentatious display of tolerance to a man whose most notable characteristic is his murderous intolerance, killing with roadside bombs today and atomic weapons tomorrow.

Presumably because of the pressure of deadlines, most cartoonists did not deal with the substance of the Iranian president’s talk, and depicted the event only in generic terms. Ed Stein of the Rocky Mountain News, for example, simply showed the worm in the Big Apple. Others focused on the theme of free speech. Pat Oliphant showed a disdainful Statue of Liberty, holding a diminutive Ahmadinejad at arm’s length as he jabbers away harmlessly; for Tom Toles, Columbia gave its speaker a rope long enough with which to hang himself, the noose labeled “free speech.”

Those who waited until after the speech to draw produced more penetrating images. Jerry Holbert of the Boston Herald had Ahmadinejad telling a politically incorrect joke (“a bunch of American infidels, a rabbi, and a suicide bomber walk into a bar”), which, while amusing, was not enough removed from reality to be truly funny. Far less amusing was the smattering of cartoonists who evidently have no objection to Ahmadinejad at all. Some like Tony Auth, the graphically inept cartoonist of the Philadelphia Inquirer, did not even think the event worthy of note. But then this discreet silence is preferable to the work of Lalo Alcaraz, who writes the daily comic strip La Cucaracha. His cartoon showed the Iranian under a sign labeled Republican Party Dept. of Homosexual Control, sitting between a photograph of President Bush and a sign “22 days gay free.” In other words, the only real problem Alcaraz finds with Ahmadinejad, whose regime enforces the public execution of homosexuals, is that the Iranian leader reminds the cartoonist of Republicans—whose actions might just conceivably remove the death threat from those same homosexuals.

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Unctuous bows, veiled threats, and smug mockery do not an edifying speech make, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s performance at Columbia University offers at least one consolation: the cartoons. The utter absurdity of the event has drawn forth a pageant of arresting editorial cartoons, some quite amusing. But only one managed to capture its essential grotesqueness—the ostentatious display of tolerance to a man whose most notable characteristic is his murderous intolerance, killing with roadside bombs today and atomic weapons tomorrow.

Presumably because of the pressure of deadlines, most cartoonists did not deal with the substance of the Iranian president’s talk, and depicted the event only in generic terms. Ed Stein of the Rocky Mountain News, for example, simply showed the worm in the Big Apple. Others focused on the theme of free speech. Pat Oliphant showed a disdainful Statue of Liberty, holding a diminutive Ahmadinejad at arm’s length as he jabbers away harmlessly; for Tom Toles, Columbia gave its speaker a rope long enough with which to hang himself, the noose labeled “free speech.”

Those who waited until after the speech to draw produced more penetrating images. Jerry Holbert of the Boston Herald had Ahmadinejad telling a politically incorrect joke (“a bunch of American infidels, a rabbi, and a suicide bomber walk into a bar”), which, while amusing, was not enough removed from reality to be truly funny. Far less amusing was the smattering of cartoonists who evidently have no objection to Ahmadinejad at all. Some like Tony Auth, the graphically inept cartoonist of the Philadelphia Inquirer, did not even think the event worthy of note. But then this discreet silence is preferable to the work of Lalo Alcaraz, who writes the daily comic strip La Cucaracha. His cartoon showed the Iranian under a sign labeled Republican Party Dept. of Homosexual Control, sitting between a photograph of President Bush and a sign “22 days gay free.” In other words, the only real problem Alcaraz finds with Ahmadinejad, whose regime enforces the public execution of homosexuals, is that the Iranian leader reminds the cartoonist of Republicans—whose actions might just conceivably remove the death threat from those same homosexuals.

In compensation for this, the event has produced at least one instant classic. In the cartoon by Sean Delonas of the New York Post, Ahmadinejad is shown at the podium as he calls on a questioner, saying “One last question, yes, the gentleman in the back.” Our point of view is from behind Ahmadinejad, and we must peer deep into the crowd to see the questioner, a skeletal concentration camp victim, in his stripes and yellow star. He wears a mournful and weary expression, and we are not even certain if he is dead or alive.

In every sense it is a masterpiece. Most editorial cartoonists think schematically, like Toles or Stein, placing cut-out figures on flat backgrounds. But Delonas typically employs dramatic perspective, as here with the haunting juxtaposition of foreground and background. Rather than a self-contained visual pun entailing a single joke, Delonas’s image implies much more than it shows, and we can’t help but imagine what is about to be said. Whatever the reason, it does what all successful graphic art must do: present an unforgettable image that resonates in the mind. It is a work of great dignity that almost washes away the vicious agitprop of Alcaraz.

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