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This is the way the world ends, BC suggests: Not with a splash, but a trickle.
Note that they adjust a few meters at a time. It would make more sense to say "five kilometers" but comics aren't required to make sense and, unfortunately, neither is reality, or, at least, not the portion of reality that is in the hands of people.
A few seawalls, a little re-sculpting of shoreline, that'll do. No need to panic, just edge your way up the beach.
I think I've mentioned this before, but there are people in the deltas of Bangladesh who basically live halfway up to their shins in water because that's how it is there now. And some Pacific Islands have disappeared.
But none of them can vote and they'd better damn well not expect to come here and try.
And New York was already Democratic, so that whole "superstorm" thing didn't change anyone's thinking, though Gov Christie did have the poor judgment to welcome federal aid for his neighboring state's portion of the damage.
He has been working to bridge that gaffe ever since.
Juxtaposition of the Day
I've been trying to pinpoint how much of my issues with miniaturization are practical and how much is just me being an old fart who can't adjust to new technology.
We got a couch once that would beep early each afternoon, and, since it was not a hi-tech couch in any other regard, we figured something odd was up.
The problem was, the beeping would stop about the time we'd get close enough to explore, but, finally, it started beeping while one of the boys was sitting there. He dove in and fished out a wristwatch that had apparently gotten snagged as the thing was being assembled.
Which I mention because, if the worker who lost the watch hadn't set a daily alarm, we'd have never found it. And as MP3 players got smaller and smaller, the odds of them chirping up to tell you where they were got no greater than if they had been the pack of gum than which they were now smaller.
Now you can get tracking chips to attach to your keys and other often-forgotten objects, but the chips are sometimes larger than the piece they are tracking, so, if miniaturization was the point, you just dulled it.
In any case, this earbuds thing seems to be hitting a "now just hold on a minute" point with consumers and I don't feel so bad.
Maybe it's like printers, where they don't expect to make any money on the machine but rather on the ink. Maybe Apple is banking on replacement earbuds to turn their iPhone operations profitable.
Anyway, if I get a smartphone of some sort, it'll be a Galaxy. That way, not only will I be able to keep track of my ear buds but, if the phone gets lost in the couch cushions, I'll find it when it starts to smolder.
The watch in the couch was just a cheap Casio, so we didn't feel too bad about the poor schlump who had probably gone four or five couches down the line before he realized it was gone. I don't think guys who assemble cheap furniture wear Rolex watches, and Jeff Stahler makes a good comment on President-in-Not-Even-Waiting Trump's promises to the working class.
Stahler's not the first to note that automation has eliminated more jobs than offshoring, but there's another issue, which is that the "good" jobs are disappearing and if there were a way to get an order of burgers and fries from Malaysia to the USA while they were still acceptably warm, we'd lose those jobs, too.
One of the trolleries that has abounded since the Carrier deal is that, since these workers will pay taxes, bribing the company with tax incentives makes good sense. This seems to be at odds with the promise of tax cuts for the middle class, but my guess is that those workers won't be in the middle class, so we're okay, I guess.
Or perhaps Trump supporters will demand that the minimum wage be raised in order to make sure more workers are in fact paying taxes, because, for trickle down to go from Fanatical Rightwing Dogmatism to a Functioning Economic Theory, they are going to have to have enough disposable income to cover their rent and food as well as to sock some away in those special accounts that will pay for all their medical care once we've eliminated Obamacare and cut Medicare.
Autoworkers will be quitting in droves to go flip burgers and make some real money!
The Revolution will not be televised, but it will be on YouTube, according to Clyde, and that may be the most encouraging thought of the day.
Those whining about stupid people who voted for Trump should take a deep breath and then read what their fellow intelligent, well-educated allies are posting on Facebook. Clyde isn't the least informed amongst us.
They keep wanting Obama, for instance, to step in and halt the pipeline, to which my response has been, "And what good will that do, after January 20?" which never got much of an answer.
Then, this morning, in a discussion of Trump's apparent plan to do away with a lot of national monuments, someone was aghast to learn that executive orders can be countermanded by the next executive. And others were outraged at the revelation.
I also read an analysis of the coming apocalypse that noted that turning things around might require people to get up, walk away from the computer and actually pound some pavement, sign up some voters, promote some corrective legislation and so forth.
Still, when an ill-formed slacker like Clyde offers to keep things stirred up, let him be one of the political burger flippers without whom none of the more skilled work can happen.
Or the brownie-bakers. The revolution needs some of those, too.
Bizarro brings up one of those odd disconnects between (most) men and (most) women, which is the cut flowers vs. live plants issue.
I say "most" in order to forestall those who will insist they favor the other side of the matter, because I'm sure there are exceptions.
But -- unlike pressing issues of whether ketchup (or catsup, but let's not) belongs in the refrigerator or the cupboard, and whether the toilet paper should be hung over such that the loose piece faces the toilet or faces the wall -- this one does, IMHO, tend to break down on gender lines.
Men are apt to get all practical and want to give a living plant because it will last, while, to women, the romantic ideal is a fragile moment.
It's like love, then, isn't it?
Because, 90 percent of the time, even the damn plant fades and dies.
You just have to tend it that much longer before the inevitable, including that part at the end where you're hoping to nurse it back to health but everything you do either makes no difference at all or seems to accelerate the decay.
Men must be more romantic than women, since they think they'll be in that 10 percent whose plant survives. Those who prefer cut flowers are simply more cynical.
On the other hand, while cut flowers fade quickly, diamonds are forever.
I have no idea why industrial-grade diamonds are now alleged to be such great gifts, even though they aren't priced like industrial-grade diamonds, but I think the word "gullible" figures into it.
Fake news and on-line bullying
Just as I'm feeling discouraged by the nonsense being posted on-line, Moroccan cartoonist Mohamed Ajeg drops this gem on the topic of "Trial by Social Media."
Granted, there are no longer any such things as "facts," it's still depressing to see nonsense dressed up as truth, and I wish it were one-sided but it's not.
This piece, for instance, would be funny if it were some jokers' parody of bad reporting, but it's a for-real "news" report that declares the Dakota pipeline routing to be racist because it was originally set to go past Bismarck. Probably. Reportedly.
According to a single source who flat-out says she actually knows nothing about it firsthand.
From which we are invited by those who share it online to conclude that, when (if) a pipeline was diverted from a city of 67,000 and routed past a community of 8,000, the explanation is racism.
This bit of unsubstantiated gossip masquerading as journalism comes from PRI, which I thought was a reputable news service.
Well, strike them from the list.
And pointing out its shortcomings is ineffectual. Even if someone shares it as "Isn't this a load of nonsense?" half the people who see it will ignore the comments and share the story as truth.
That's how Facebook works: If someone posts that Abraham Lincoln is alive and living in Bali, the comments will be half "You're out of your mind" alternated with "Thanks! Sharing!"
In a post-factual society, people believe what they want to believe and explanations are ignored. We're well past "truthiness" at this stage.
And while we all get upset over the (recurring) story of the teen who was lied about and bullied on-line and committed suicide, what if a whole country responded to dishonest on-line material that way?
We tut-tut better when we don't recognize our own faces in the mirror.
Angry artists painting angry signs
Use their vision just to blind the blind
Poisoned players of a grizzly game
One is guilty and the other gets to point the blame
Pardon me if I refrain
-- Phil Ochs
Happy News from Happy Valley
Local cartoons often slip by, but this John Cole panel is a bright point in an otherwise discouraging world.
Remember Mike McQueary, the whistleblower in the Penn State sexual abuse scandal?
Well, a jury just awarded him $7.3 million in damages for the abuse and career damage that university administrators piled on him in the course of their cover-up, and the outraged judge, instead of cutting the jury's award as judges are wont to do, adding another $5 million to it.
When it comes to sexual abuse, I'm not a get-a-rope type, assuming the person admits fault, seeks help and tries to the extent possible to make restitution for something that really can't be made good.
But when it comes to those deliberate cover-ups by the people who are supposed to be in charge, I'm not so merciful. And I suspect Sandusky didn't admit guilt precisely because he knew the college had his back.
Here's the trailer to a good but scary documentary that is available on-line.
I don't think I want to watch it again, but I recommend it, as a sort of spiritual colonic.
And remember, I like sports. I'm furious because
I know it doesn't have to be like this.
On a considerably more cheerful note:
I'll confess that, listening to this "10 Minute Writer's Workshop" on New Hampshire Public Radio last night, I didn't know who Tom Gauld was, but then, as soon as I got home and Googled him, I recognized his work immediately and felt a little silly.
It's a fun interview, and she hits the right mix of keeping it accessible to non-comics-fanatics -- there's not a lot of discussion of what nibs he uses -- but maintaining a level of exploration of creative process that I think those who do obsess over techniques and technologies will also find of considerable interest.
Start with today's Barney & Clyde, which brings back an incident that made reporting fun.
My editor came up, dropped a fat envelope on my desk and said, "See what you can make of this."
Inside was a pile of anti-Walmart screeds, detailing all the horrible things that would happen to our town if Walmart opened there. (A little late: They had not yet broken ground, but the horse had definitely left the gate.)
I'm not a fan of Walmart, mind you, but I hate weasels even more, and this steaming pile of poison had no return address.
However, it had been run through a postage meter, so I took it across the street to the post office and asked them to look up the meter number.
Not to worry: They changed the regulation and now the post office isn't allowed to give out that information anymore. I never heard why they changed the rules. The "Poison Pen Protection Act" or something.
But it's a nice segue to the next item on our review of Scummy Practices:
There have been several variations on Nick Anderson's take, but I liked the two-faced element he brings to it.
Not only is it a false promise -- plenty of Carrier jobs are still leaving, and he rewarded them for staying rather than threatening to punish them if they left -- but this is precisely the kind of "executive action" the rightwingers have criticized Obama for over the past eight years.
I understand Trump not being able to run it through Congress until Jan 21, but Gov. Pence didn't seek legislative approval: He just sliced off a few million bucks from Indiana's resources and handed it to Carrier.
Several observers have noted that Republicans are praising Trump for the sort of action that Obama did more efficiently and with legislative approval in order to save far more jobs in the auto industry.
Not that it was as simple as "Obama did it," of course, but, at that stage, anything with Obama's name anywhere near it was bad, bad, bad -- even things Bush had actually started.
However you feel about all that, Paul Krugman notes how unsustainable it is, and how hard it would be to make a dent in the problem with this kind of showy-but-inefficient action.
Of course, before we can compare it to the action on behalf of automakers, we'll have to wait to see how much of this bailout Carrier pays back.
Ha ha. Just kidding.
And we may be entering the end of public education. Mr. Fitz often speaks out against the testing craze, but today's strip puts me in mind of the parallel move to drug-testing welfare recipients, which also costs a lot of money and yields virtually no violators.
That approach is based on not understanding welfare, just as relentless, pointless testing in schools is an approach for people who think that, because they have eaten in a restaurant, they are qualified to be chefs.
But neither can happen without a solid undergirding of hostility towards the poor, and the schools issue is going to be front-and-center, given that Trump is appointing an Education Secretary who takes the approach to educational problems that the guys at Car Talk recommend for automotive issues: Just crank up the radio until you can't hear the clanking anymore.
Education reform, to them, means to open enough charter schools to get the parents who give a damn out of the public system so you no longer have to serve the remaining kids, whose parents won't raise a stink.
Neither Trump nor De Vos invented this. You can trace it back to the Civil Rights Era when white parents who opposed integration began enrolling their children in all-white private schools and yammering for tax breaks.
And, in 2001, New York State politicians and courts argued -- I am not making this up -- over whether NYC's underfunded and underperforming schools could get off the hook by claiming that the state's guarantee of an adequate education would be satisfied by an eighth grade diploma.
I've already mentioned how I feel about weasels.
Meanwhile, over at Prickly City, Scott Stantis insists on being a conservative instead of a Trump enthusiast.
I think being in there is going to be more fun than being out here -- certainly the company will be better -- but we'll probably all have been kicked off the Internet and so we're gonna have to make our own music.
Bread and Roses
Sarah Laing, hot on the heels of releasing her outstanding graphic memoir, has begun to face the issue of "What's next?" and has launched a Patreon to allow her a modest income so she can resume cartooning at her blog.
In this portion of a longer, thoughtful introduction to the funding issue, she talks to fellow kiwis Dylan Horrocks and Sarah Maxey about the difficulty of making it as an artist. Maxey may not be well-known on this side of the Equator, but Horrocks certainly is, and to hear him talk about making ends meet is discouraging, indeed.
I'm in the school of "If I know who you are, you surely make more money than I do," and hearing Horrocks worry over the same things I've worried about is less an emblem of comradeship than it is a matter of "Geez, how good do you have to be before that ends?"
Well, it may be obvious, but quality and success do not go hand in hand, and waiting around for karma to straighten things out seems futile, though we've only got a few thousand years of evidence of that to go on.
Anyway, you might stop to chuck a few starfish back into the sea -- these or others -- because it looks like we're in for a long low tide.
We're gonna need all the starfish we can get.
I'll start with Non Sequitur, with which I have no argument except that I wish it were that simple. That's gonna be today's theme.
There are two sides to this cartoon, starting with the pun and the misheard promise. Well, something's coming in, anyway, and will be dumped on your doorstep.
The other interpretation is that they sure aren't getting much, and I can accept that more innocent one, too.
Either way, it's related to the post-election notion of "Wait until they realize what they've done ..." which almost never works out.
The time-worn joke, of course, is "They told me if I voted for (losing candidate), we'd get (current situation winning candidate promised would not happen)," and the sardonic laugh is based on futility.
Futility, unfortunately, is at the heart of why good and decent people cast a vote for someone who is neither: He acknowledged their sense of futility.
And so, whether it's the inadequacy of having an outhouse instead of running water or actually getting a bunch of "ship" delivered to your doorstep, it will be same-old-same-old and whatever disillusionment may happen will be muted by low expectations.
Meanwhile, I'm seeing demonstrations on Facebook of, at best, the arrogance of city people who want tyranny of the majority, as long as it's their own, and, at worst, expressions of contempt for rural people that are outright bigotry.
First of all, a lot of my very rural friends were not Trump supporters, and it reminds me of "Sweet Home Alabama," where Lynyrd Skynyrd objected to being lumped in with the white supremacists of the south and challenged the selective perception of the sneering elite:
In Birmingham they love the Gov'nor, boo-hoo-hoo
Now we all did what we could do
Now Watergate does not bother me
Does your conscience bother you, tell the truth
Thing is, those supporters of racist governors existed then and hard-hearted Trump supporters exist now.
As for my Trump-supporting friends, damn, we all grew up with the same people in the same small town, and if I had friends on welfare, they had not only friends but relatives who needed help to get by.
There is a sad complexity in how they turn their backs on people they should at least pity and understand, if not love.
And I wish I thought a trail of broken promises would get the vast majority of rural people into action, but the vast majority of urban people aren't any easier to motivate, so why would it be different in the heartland?
In any case, I promise you, they won't be won back by "Deliverance" insults and impassioned essays about how unfair the Founders were to balance democracy and federalism through things like the Senate and the Electoral College.
The clean-up I'm talking about is the burst of "Oh, no -- Not Pelosi!" that hit social media as she was once more chosen to lead the Democrats. Clay Jones accompanies this cartoon with a good essay on the ambivalence.
My issue is that, while there is some value in the "new broom sweeps clean" approach, it sure feels like a lot of liberals have accepted the unending abuse Pelosi suffered from right-wingers.
So how come they were willing to nominate a presidential candidate who'd been repeatedly run through the same partisan slime-machine?
It does feel that people are getting wise to Trump and his Twitter explosions, as Mike Luckovich points out, though it doesn't seem to increase their ability to ignore the chaff and focus on the bombers.
Both social media and editorial cartoons are full of "You can't do that!" ripostes to the flag-burning decoy, when, of course, the real question is, "What is he trying to distract us from?"
Robert Ariail suggests that we might better brace ourselves.
Not that Obama has inundated reporters with formal press conferences, but he's certainly been available, occasionally to the level of "Ask him what time it is and he'll tell you how to build a watch."
By contrast, Trump set a pattern of duck-and-dodge throughout the campaign and you have to wonder if he would actually answer a policy question if he had formal press conferences.
I guess we'll see, but it's not promising.
I don't know if this could be any more frantically reported if the pipeline were a joint project of Nestle and Monsanto, but the gut-reaction factor is enormous and it's hard to know whose version of reality to accept.
I wish it weren't being built, but, even more, I wish people were being less dramatic and more analytical about what's going on.
They certainly didn't seem like po' primitive Noble Savages who needed SJW tourists to come straighten things out for them, and I can't imagine that the Tribal Council is any less than competent to deal with the situation.
And a visit to the tribe's website is instructive:
There is a page for donations to help fund their fight against the pipeline. It's tucked just under the tribal logo on the splash page or you'll find it under "News."
However, if you go to the "Visit Us" page, it's about casinos and pow wows.
I didn't find anything there about "Please come out here unprepared for a Dakota winter, create a drain on our resources and stir up problems we're attempting to deal with on our own."
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
A peek behind the scenes to explain why I love Between Friends.
The above is yesterday's strip, part of an ongoing arc about Maeve's crush on the barista in her office building. It's been kind of silly, but that's within boundaries, because Maeve's love-life is always inadvisedly directed, sometimes in silly ways, sometimes in disastrous ones.
But it did occur to me that Frank is probably working for minimum, while Maeve is flown all around the world, and that, whatever they have in common, their income gap would be a rather large pea under the mattress.
However, I think about those things all the time; I can't help it. Let me see a live production of Peter Pan and I'm not lost in wonder over the story -- I'm trying to figure out how he flew around such-and-such a prop without his wires getting tangled and wishing I could see up into the flies to the various levers and balances.
And I often get derailed by illogic and incongruity in plots and dialogue, which makes it hard for me to enjoy mysteries because I can't tell whether the professor who just repeated a popular legend is therefore an imposter and the real murderer or is simply wrong because the writer is a knothead.
Well, Sandra Bell Lundy is no knothead, so I dropped her an email yesterday and noted that I thought the income disparity would be problematic in a real relationship and wondered if she had that in mind.
And I got the equivalent of an enigmatic smile in return, and an invitation to keep reading.
And don't worry about Peter Pan getting tangled in the scenery. Just relax and enjoy the show.
Foolish people deserve lattes, too!
Tom Tomorrow provides a better-than-average segue, not only taking us from "People Who Know What They're Doing" to "Blundering Doofi" but including the coffee reference.
And much as you may laugh over Trump extremists pledging to boycott a Broadway play that is sold out and costs two arms and two legs when it isn't, it's wrong -- factually and morally -- to stereotype all his supporters as bigots and fools.
Some of them don't drink good-but-overpriced coffee, some do. Some don't drink coffee at all: He did take Utah, Montana and Idaho, after all.
And the more the leftwing elitists brand Trump supporters as hillbilly morons and rail against a system that protects rural areas from tyranny of the majority, the more defensive I get about how "bigotry" is a door that swings both ways.
But you've got to work with me, here, Donnie.
First, you have to do more than tut-tut when your fans -- typical or not -- paint swastikas on black churches and go nuts on airplanes.
And you have to stop ginning them up by telling stupid, paranoid lies yourself. Adam Zyglis isn't subtle, but neither is he inaccurate.
It's one thing to blather some trivial foolishness to distract everyone from the real issues. It's another to spread substantive lies that undermine the Constitution you will soon swear to uphold.
Trump may simply have played the Birther thing to gain support among delusional racist lunatics, but the election is over and there's no longer any reason to pretend to believe idiotic tinfoil conspiracy theories, unless, as Zyglis suggests, he's not pretending.
In which case, we face a Constitutional crisis before inauguration.
Until the 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967, we were binary on the issue of fitness to serve: Live people could be president and dead people could not.
When Woodrow Wilson had his stroke, it was not kept from the public, but what was kept quiet was the extent of his incapacity. Still, he served out the remainder of his term and we moved on.
As for FDR's failing health as he sought a fourth term, I don't think the public had the slightest idea of how feeble and unlikely to serve out that last term he was. It's not even clear that the Democratic Party was fully aware of his health, though the fact that they replaced Henry Wallace as his VP may be a clue.
Reagan's halting, uncertain testimony in Iran/Contra came a year after he left office, too soon not to suggest that his dementia may have been present, if not strongly disabling, while he was still in the White House.
It may be that those around him felt, as in Wilson's case, that they could make up for his incapacities. Or they may not have recognized the problem: The slide can be gradual.
But we now have a situation where people who denounced the candidate as unfit for office are lining up to kiss the ring of the president-elect.
It probably doesn't matter whether you can declare a candidate unfit because he believes, or professes to believe, things that only a psychiatrically impaired person would, upon examination of the facts, believe.
The 25th Amendment, after all, assumes that concern for the national good will outweigh party loyalty.
Which is, itself, something that only a psychiatrically impaired person would, upon examination of the facts, believe.
Some improvement, however: Anne Telnaes mourns the ease with which Trump plays the press, and rightfully so, but they are beginning to wise up a bit, and his latest nonsensical declaration has been tempered by the press with headlines stating that his accusations have no factual basis.
There is also a new advisement from the Associated Press as to how to responsibly use the term alt-right, which is encouraging, given how often the press has been played by those seeking to sugar coat their intentions.
As David Fitzsimmons suggests, we shall see.
We shall surely see.
Now here's your moment of zen, with a dose of Fidel:
However, I suspected that anyone passionate on the topic would leap into the fray without worrying about deadlines and that everyone else would either draw a cigar or some variant on the Pearly Gates. The first wave of secondary cartoons has not proven me wrong.
Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar, and not a symbol of anything else. Freud almost certainly never said that.
But I am saying it. Now.
And speaking of Freud
Maybe it's just my dirty, dirty mind, but I'm thinking that "long-term" wasn't the first type of relationship Kieran Meehan thought of for today's Pros and Cons, though it works.
The one I'm thinking of works even better because it is something a person would brag about, usually because he's a liar, the kind who could use the services of, as shown here, a good psychiatrist.
One who wishes to be considered a mensch restrains his desire to speak of his lovers.
One who is a mensch has no desire to speak of his lovers.
Tsu-kung said, "I have no desire of speak of my lovers."
The Master said. "Oh, Ssu, you have not reached that stage yet!"
And speaking of mature relationships:
Today's Bottomliners brought to mind a question I had while watching football yesterday.
In this cartoon, we don't quite know the stage of their relationship, but his unilateral decision about his car makes humorous sense, if we assume he's trying to change her reluctance to get married.
You couldn't, in a one-panel, set it up as "If you agree to marry me, darling, I will make this sign of my commitment ..." much less, "I've already done this as a sign of my commitment so please marry me."
However, I saw several jewelry commercials yesterday aimed at men and urging them to buy engagement rings and then pop the question, and my sincere question is, "Do people do that?"
You see it in commercials and bad movies and TV shows, and mostly apocryphal stories of the ring being hidden cleverly and disappearing, but do guys really get down on one knee and hold out the bait diamond?
If she says "No," you can return the ring, of course. But what if she says "yes" to the marriage but hates the ring?
My suspicion is that it's more common for the couple to select a ring together.
Though I suppose that, even if she thinks he's a damn fool for spending too much on a gaudy diamond, she'll at least get to wake up Christmas morning, look out in the driveway and find a car he also never consulted her about.
If they can afford it, and he doesn't demand "long-term" relations very often, good.
Elsewise, hock the ring, take off in the car and let him sort out the bills.
Holiday Traumatic Memory
Thanks, Tina. Now I'm going to go curl up in a corner and whimper for a while.
Back when the boys were small, we had a neighbor two houses down with boys nearly the same ages. One Christmas, my folks were flying out to Colorado from the East Coast, and she was going back to Tennessee to her family, so we agreed that my folks could stay at her house, in return for which we would tend her plants.
And her boys' hamster, whom I shall call Rex, though I'm pretty sure that wasn't his name.
Rex was no problem: Make sure he had food and water and, twice, put him in his hamster ball, change his shavings, replace him in his cage.
The plants, by contrast, had a complex list of requirements of what days to give which ones how much. It was an impressive collection, but a lot of work.
So we had a lovely holiday, my folks went home, I continued to watch the plants and the hamster and, the day before they returned, I gave Rex's cage a clean set of shavings.
The next day, the phone rings, "What happened?"
Apparently, I hadn't turned the little plastic locking nut on his cage door the full 180 degrees and he was gone.
Which the little shit could have done the first day and it would have spared me a lot of work.
He also would have, by then, ceased to scamper around in the furnace ductwork at night, letting my neighbor and her kids know that he was still there but doomed.
Granted, it could have been worse: He was the third of their hamsters to meet that fate.
Had I killed one of her plants, on the other hand, she'd have never forgiven me.
Juxtaposition of the I was so much older then ...
About the time I was killing the neighbor's hamster, we used to watch "Wheel of Fortune." I think Chuck Woollery was still hosting and Vanna was probably a little girl with hamsters of her own.
Aside from the lack of gaudy, self-congratulatory hoo-hah with which they open each show today, I think the puzzles were less contrived and more challenging and the contestants a little less frantically cheerful.
There must have been a lot of reasons we watched it that are absent from the show now, because what keeps me young these days is the need to quickly shut that damn thing off after the local news.
When you are no longer that nimble, you are officially old.
I've asked my kids that, if they ever see me watching "Wheel," they just leave my latch half-fastened and remove the grates from the furnace ducts.
Friend of the Blog Richard Marcej has resumed his daily diary/cartoon/blog. If you'd given up on fresh content in his long absence, restore your bookmark and follow along.
Now here's your politically correct response to Black Friday
Ah, here we are: Rodriguez, 2016. I like this cartoon for many reasons, but chief among them is the somewhat wistful "now what?" Uncle Sam, all dressed up and no place to go.
God knows, between the publication of those two cartoons, Uncle Sam found many occasions to step in and help correct problems in our hemisphere, including some that the people who lived in these countries hadn't realized even were problems.
Rodriguez leaves a cigar under the bench to show who sat there, and it's a very nice touch, and I'll give Clay Jones credit for the fact that his cigar is all ash, smoked to the very stub, which comments on Castro's own life but also the policy of waiting him out, which might not be so dramatic had he not combined living to 90 with having risen to power before he was even old enough to have run for president here.
Cartoonists should not consider this permission to draw an extinguished cigar, collect a paycheck and knock off for the day.
Besides, I liked Jones' accompanying essay, which combined serious analysis with humor, including this line:
The media is trying to find out the cause of death for the 90-year-old former dictator. I’d say cause of death is he was 90.
As Mike Keefe noted two years ago, the thing with the really amazing longevity was the US embargo, which might have made sense a generation or two ago, but had not only proven inefficient but was being enforced by the same politicians who had vehemently insisted sanctions couldn't impact apartheid in South Africa and were not enough to counter Iran.
The difference being that neither Iran nor South Africa had a substantial, vocal ex-pat population in a critical swing state.
And it's not just about voters. It's about people willing to pitch in and help: If Nelson Mandela or the Shah had furnished burglars to break into Democratic Headquarters, it might have been different.
It's important to remember that the "Cuban Missile Crisis" was not between the US and Cuba but between the US and the Soviet Union, as seen in this 1962 cartoon that's all over the Internet but never attributed (sorry).
Castro was still a young pup and his value to the Soviets was proximity; it was not until later, with their patronage, that he began furnishing military and medical aid to others in South and Central America as well as Angola.
At that stage, Castro still had a lot of history to see. Thirty-six years later, when Pope John Paul II visited and, as ex-pat cartoonist Angel Boligan demonstrated, both men had to swallow hard in order to smile, but they did so.
What I noticed at the time was that, while high school kids shown this cartoon could easily identify the pope, only a few recognized Castro and none knew what he was holding behind his back.
However, a few years later, when a parental kidnapping overlapped onto our shores, it was different. Kids may not have known much about the dying economic form "communism," but they understood divorce and I think enough of them had heard noble-sounding but self-serving excuses for custodial interference on the personal level that they weren't buying it on the international stage, either.
(It was fun showing this Danziger panel to an auditorium full of students because you could tell how many knew Spanish by the amount of laughter that hit before you began the explanation.)
The incident, however, enflamed Cuban-American conservatives, and Michael Ramirez compared the worst person in America to the worst person in the world, an emotion reflected in the months-long process of returning a kidnapped child to his sole surviving parent.
I suspect the Elian Gonzalez case brought some difficult conversations to Cuban/American dinner tables, as hard-core exile grandparents sat down with second-generation American grandchildren while parents who had struggled with the growing generation gap found things boiling over.
And others, as Lalo Alcaraz noted at the time, were struck by the sudden outrage from conservative quarters where respect for the law had previously seemed particularly uncompromising and heartless.
Fidel's star began to fade less because of his advancing years than because of the fading economy of the Soviet Union, which was followed by the untimely death of Hugo Chavez, whose Venezuelan oil had filled in at least a substantial portion of the loss of Soviet support.
As Jim Morin noted in 2014, it dovetailed neatly with the arrival on the scene of a US President willing to buck the conservative bloc and try some Nixonian "constructive engagement" with Raul, who was, by then, running the show for his retired brother.
After all, as Steve Sack suggested, Obama wasn't winning any popularity contests over on the rightwing fringe anyway.
I also have seen the futility of waiting him out, and the question now is not how the onlookers will divide up the cake but whether they will be offered a slice at all. The Cuban people may, after all, prefer evolution to overthrow.
And if you know where that pic comes from, you know who I'm watching hover around licking their chops.
Disheartening Juxtaposition of the Day
Phil Ochs wrote his first political song while he was still a student at (the) Ohio State University and this partial is apparently all he ever recorded of it.
Anyway, I guess "inspiration" can be a two-edged sword and politicians ought to be careful how they wield it, lest it bite them.
Here's the only Thanksgiving cartoon you need, courtesy of the King Features Archivist, whom you should have bookmarked, because fascinating stuff pops up there well beyond the "Here's an old cartoon" offered elsewhere.
Not only do you get some context, but you often get extras, like buttons or coupons or ads, and, most important for a fan at my level, insider stories of how particular strips came to be and were then marketed.
There are more cartoons back there and you should go have a look.
What this specific cartoon brings to mind is that the urbanization of the US, and then the world, was not only gradual in the sense that people didn't move straight off the farm and into the factories, but they also didn't go straight from self-sufficient farming to getting all their food in cans and packages and styrofoam trays.
While tenement dwellers lived in what were undeniably "city" neighborhoods, others had not just a patch of yard on which a kid might play, but enough of a lot that you could have a small flock of chickens and a decent truck patch.
And this wasn't just 200 years ago when the Boston Common was the grounds upon which Bostonians could graze a milk cow. When I was a kid in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, in the early 50s, there were two houses on our block with chicken coops and, no, they didn't give them names, knit them sweaters and let them live long, pampered lives.
I remember as a very young lad a group of neighborhood kids gathered around like Spanky and the Little Rascals, watching one of the neighbors kill a few chickens. The fascinating part was not the execution, which was quick and expert, but the fact that the chicken body would then go running off into the corn patch.
"Running around like a chicken with its head cut off" was not an abstract concept. We'd seen it.
Nor were we naively cut off from our food. When it was written, "Charlotte's Web" was not something you needed to live on a farm to understand and, if most of us had not raised chickens ourselves, much less pigs, we pretty much knew where our food came from.
As were cartoons large enough that you could tell a whole story.
(November 22, 1925 having been a Sunday back when the Sunday funnies filled a whole page and not one of them skinny-ass brochure-sized pages they try to foist on you these days, either.)
Juxtaposition of the Day
Kal and Toles address what appears to be a coming period of isolationism, though we've also heard promises to, as Fearless Leader so eloquently put it, "bomb the shit out of" those we don't like.
So it's hard to tell what will happen next, but Kal points out the futility of playing the neutral in a carved up world, while Toles hearkens back to the days of the bunds and isolationists, which didn't work then and won't work now.
"Neutrality" is for nations that are not worth the cost of invading and are not blocking access to a nation that is.
You don't need a degree in political theory to understand this, if you've ever played "Risk." You don't waste armies on countries that are neither a threat nor a prize.
But there aren't many of those.
In 1975, I tried to work with a Cambodian who had been a very high-ranking diplomat in that country, starting as number two man at the Paris talks in the 1950s and in the first Cambodian embassy post-independence, after which he was ambassador to a half-dozen other places. He was personally and politically extremely close to Prince Sihanouk.
He was ambassador to South Korea at the time Phnom Penh fell, which was fortunate for him and his family, since he had sided with Lon Nol in the coup that sent Sihanouk into exile and prompted the China-backed rising of the Khmer Rouge.
So he happened to be far from home when Pol Pot began settling family business.
Cambodia was allegedly a non-aligned nation, but my friend explained that there's no such thing, and that they constantly pondered which of the three Superpowers would hurt them the least.
China was on their border, and the US military was all through South Vietnam and (secretly) in their mountains, but Moscow was way over somewhere else.
Therefore, aligning with the Soviets made the most sense, he explained, but the more things heated up, the less eager Brezhnev became to be helpful.
And with the US trying to get out of the tar pit, aligning with them had not worked out so well.
Cambodia was like a small business that happened to be on the border of a turf war in a heavily mobbed-up city.
As we were sitting in his kitchen and he was telling me this, Sihanouk was in Beijing waiting to be summoned home by the victorious Khmer Rouge, and Washington was pretending they didn't know about the Killing Fields or who was in charge in Pnohm Penh and perhaps they didn't, but my friend was getting letters and updates from refugees in Thailand and Burma and he was certainly up-to-date on things.
I personally introduced him to a Congressional Representative and I was in the room two or three times while he was on the phone with Philip Habib, so I'm inclined to view things through a cynical filter.
I'm also inclined to wish I had been older than 25 and better connected, and that one of the few editors I knew at a national publication had not responded that it wasn't much of a story because people were "tired of reading about Vietnam."
Can't fix that now.
Still, while I hope the Trump administration will reject the adventurism of Cheney/Bush, please don't tell me you're neutral because it insults my intelligence and makes me very angry.
Off the Mark sets us up for a day of thought-free giggling, and Mark Parisi gets particularly high marks for timing this to hit as our Facebook pages are clogging up with "look what I ate" postings.
If this weren't a day I intend to devote entirely to laffs, I'd add a link to this, and perhaps even add this illustration that shows how prehistoric artists depicted motion, it being problematic to create flip-books on stone walls.
I shall, however, forbear.
Or, in this case, forbison.
And, speaking of food-based humor, Dave Blazek offers this giggle at Loose Parts, and, again, there's probably some commentary I could make about the difference between raw wood and the milled boards that have been processed with fire retardants but those added chemicals are just one more thing for Mel to hide.
That, in turn, could prompt me to start blathering on about commercial lumber mills, and telling stories like the one about the time we heard dispatchers sending a medivac chopper up to a remote town with a huge mill because somebody had gotten caught in the saw, which sounded awfully grim.
Turns out "caught in the saw" was actually, "walking between the metal guard and the concrete wall while the saw is completely idle and having the unlatched guard flip itself open so that you get pinned and end up with bruised but not broken ribs."
However, dispatch had also interpreted a call about someone getting caught in the saw the way we did, and, once the bird was in the air, it had to go retrieve the embarrassed millworker because that's by-god procedure.
I won't even start on that sort of thing. Not today.
And I refuse to even smirk at today's Speed Bump, much less comment upon it.
I only include it here so you can see the appalling lack of taste and be equally appalled, as I certainly was, and did I mention that I didn't smirk? Not in the least. I certainly didn't snort audibly and thank god I didn't have a mouthful of hot coffee at the moment.
Nor did it make me think:
"Oh, my, doesn't he look like himself?"
"Yes, but they should have put a can of beer in his hand."
Because that would be terrible, and we're not terrible here.
We are, occasionally, however, subject to flashbacks, and Betty, as seen here in today's and yesterday's strips, and on a few leading up to these, seems to have picked up a case of Corporate Leprosy, the vibe alluded to, where people at the office begin to avoid you because they don't want to get blood on their work clothes when the slice happens.
I've had it twice, and, if I were going to comment, I could go on forever.
In one case, it was a new general manager and a situation in which we agreed on some things and disagreed on others.
For instance, we agreed that one of us was an enormous, flaming, gaping asshole, but we disagreed on who it was. We decided to settle it based on rank.
At another place, I had a similar clash with the boss's wife, who was full of good ideas that couldn't possibly be put into action because she didn't have the slightest idea what she was talking about. We resolved that conflict based on which of us the boss had to live with.
Once you've recognized the inevitable outcome, the trick is to be cool and make them fire you without cause so you can collect unemployment.
Then the conflict boils down to how much they want to avoid an unemployment claim, and it can take awhile because they'd prefer to grind you down until you quit. And that can take awhile, too.
In any case, I hope she goes to Italy anyway, because wotthehell.
Or, as my son remarked at dinner last night, "Don't worry if your parachute gets tangled: You'll have the rest of your life to work it out."
And, given that that is the son who was in the Navy, I'll offer this sample from Mike Lynch's most recent flea-market find, a collection of cartoons by Virgil Partch, and I don't have to comment on VIP at all because I've written extensively already about how, as a small child, his work mystified and fascinated me.
Not commenting. Just juxtaposing.
Not much to comment on. I wish the real Francis could live up to the one in the comic and I suppose he does, too.
And I'm sorry so many real plutocrats manage to live up to the ones in the comics, and I suppose they don't even know how well they manage to.
I hope top hats come back in style before climate change does away with snowballs.
Now here's your moment of zen (assuming you can pay for it)