Sometimes, there is a coincidental theme running through the day's strips that calls out for exploitation. Today, everyone seemed to be making jokes about lies, or, well, basing their work on them.
Of course, dishonesty exists on several levels. We'll start with Dan Piraro's variation on a classic white lie:
A jaw-droppingly funny twist on a lie I heard as a kid, but it's kind of a lie on a Santa Claus/Tooth Fairy level, only more specific and personalized. When you're old enough to figure it out, you're also old enough to understand the good intentions behind it.
That process is our first exposure to the truth behind Madame de Stael's "To know all is to forgive all," which, as you grow, begins to encompass more complicated levels of deception and become a little trickier to apply.
The next level is what is known in business law as "puffery," which is assertions of quality so vague as to be unenforceable:
Curtis, of course, is justified in being upset, but he'll learn to sniff out puffery and to become cynical and jaded like his father.
My favorite "tell" on movie blurbs is to catch the source of the laudatory quotes, and that's not always easy in TV ads. If the New York Times or someone of Ebertesque stature likes it, they'll keep that one on the screen for several seconds, and they'll use the same size font for both the name of the source and the "One of the year's best!" quote.
When the glowing blurbs come from "The Hooterville Herald" or "Silver Screen Sychophant," you'll barely be able to read it, because,while the praise will be writ large, the source will be small and the image fleeting.
At least Curtis is getting wise to it. I'm beginning to think that may make the kid a "minority" in more ways than one.
I'm using Rob Rogers' cartoon in a sort of reverse-illustration of my point, because so many other cartoonists are either hesitating to point fingers or deliberately misstating the nature of the budget impasse and sequestration.
Given that the mission of this blog is to highlight good work, not point out the bad, you see here an exception to the trend: A political cartoonist with the cojones to make a defendable political point.
Even without the current flood of cheap, obvious cruise ship metaphors, there have just been too many cartoons taking the easy Will Rogers route and blaming "Congress" as a single, dysfunctional collection of fools and stooges. It's as lazy as a "Pearly Gates" cartoon but, unlike those silly things, this is a topic on which quality of commentary matters.
If Congress is just a bunch of do-nothing idiots, well, there's nothing to be done about it and we might as well give up and learn to adapt.
But that simply is not the case.
It's clear to any fair observer that the president has made significantly more concessions than the GOP, whose only substantial compromise has been to agree to an almost imperceptible rise in taxes on the wealthy, and that only after a long series of pathos-filled shrieks of "Please don't throw me in that briar patch!"
In the current financial crisis, blaming Congress as a single entity is not a neutral position.
Granted, it may not qualify as a bald-faced lie.
A bald-faced lie would be attacking Obama for taking too many vacation days, when he's taken a paltry fraction of the number his predecessor took.
A bald-faced lie would be screaming "Scandal!" and "Cover up!" over intelligence failures that led to four deaths in Benghazi, while remaining silent over both the failure of the previous administration to heed intelligence about the 9/11 plans, and over its concoction of skewed intelligence to justify the Iraq invasion.
As the aforementioned Will Rogers might put it, "I wasn't never all that good at 'rithmetic, but I know that, if you add 2,996 and 4,486 together, whatever it comes out to has gotta be one helluva a lot more'n 4."
Compared to those examples, "It's everybody's fault" is more along the lines of puffery. But it's still not fair commentary.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, Madam & Eve has for months been so tied up with Zuma and Malema and other regional stuff that the strip hasn't figured much here.
Until recently. Earlier in the week, the strip even commented on the topic of honesty with some hands-across-the-ocean humor:
Fact is, the spin is coming so fast that even a political strip with no appreciable lag time to worry about can barely keep up. Here's today's up-to-the-minute commentary:
Actually, the transparent lie in my mind is his claim that he heard "an intruder" in the enclosed toilet area, reached under his bed for his gun and went to the outer bathroom, and, only after shooting four times, realized that his girlfriend was not in the bed beside him.
If I hear an intruder, the first thing I'm going to do is look over at my girlfriend/wife/concubine to see (A) if she's what I heard, (B) if she's okay, and (C) if she's awake and heard it, too.
Maybe he forgot he sleeps with a supermodel. Who thinks about that kind of stuff?
But, hey, I thought OJ did it, too, mostly because I didn't realize that, if one person's DNA got hot in the trunk of a car, it would turn, not into an indecipherable mess, but into someone else's DNA, and, by some amazing happenstance, the DNA of a person who would turn out to be the estranged husband of the victim.
It's the defense's job to create "reasonable doubt." And pray for an unreasonable jury.
Meanwhile, at the bail hearings, the defense said that Pistorius couldn't leave the country without being noticed, which I guess means that millionaires in South Africa have no access to private aircraft, boats or four-wheel drive automobiles capable of going over a border other than at a guarded crossing.
Their spin, and my own appetite for tasteless humor, brought to mind a classic panel by the late quadraplegic cartoonist John Callahan, a man noted for his exuberant, self-deprecating humor as much as for his complete lack of self-censorship:
But spin is not a lie, it's just puffery.
And, certainly, they are correct that Oscar Pistorius has appeared in so many advertisements that he would be likely to be recognized wherever he went.