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CSotD: Days of Hope and Despair

It may seem odd, with all the horrors of the past week, to start today with Rick McKee‘s lottery cartoon, but the lottery is not only another way in which We The People exploit the gullibility of our fellow citizens but it is too often a good example of how the media helps in the effort.

And I’ll admit to some personal guilt, which stems from my days in talk radio, when I had the flack from the Colorado lottery on as a guest.

The Colorado Lottery was brand new, so we didn’t yet realize that the promise to provide additional funds to public space was a damned lie and it was simply going to (partially) offset cuts.

But it was obvious that pissing away money on those ridiculous odds would, proportionally, hit poor people more than wealthy people — that is, a fellow making $150,000 a year wasn’t going to buy 10 times as many tickets as the guy making $15,000.

It’s easy to dismiss the lottery as a tax on stupidity, but it’s also an easy way to help increase the proportion of revenues obtained from the lower end of the pay scale.

So we got on the air and chatted for a few minutes and then the son of a bitch handed me a sheet of tickets and invited me to scratch them off, which put me in the horrific ethical position of — however unlikely the odds — winning money in the course of doing my job.

I reluctantly went through the process, saying for each ticket what local nonprofit would get the money if it won and thank god none of them won, which was hardly surprising because when the charade was over, he told me they were dummy tickets guaranteed not to contain a winner.

It was the closest I ever came to throwing a guest out in the middle of an interview.

All that said, I have no problem with McKee’s observation that the IRS will get most of the money because why the hell shouldn’t millionaires pay their fair share? (Which opinion, BTW, extends beyond the lottery.)

Besides, the greatest percentage of ticket sales goes directly into state coffers, so skimming off some of the prizes for the feds seems fine with me and, anyway, given the astronomical numbers dangled out there to lure suckers into the tent, winners can still make themselves perfectly miserable with their share.

And, as I said at the start, selling phony dreams that will never come true to the most gullible among us is hardly the exclusive province of the lotteries.

Another parallel being that, while we’ve always had numbers games in the street, it was understood that the folks running the game were, like the people peddling overt racism, kind of scummy.

You might buy into their deal, but you knew you should feel a little ashamed of yourself.

I guess you had to be there.

 

Jeff Boyer uses an apt metaphor, because the divisiveness is sown, not directly planted. Dear Leader just strews his toxic lies and hatred out there for whoever wants it, knowing that he’ll get enough response to make it worth the effort.

I suppose we could extend the parable, sort of a twist on the mustard seed, to suggest that some fell upon stony ground and were not taken up, and yet others were eaten by chickens who grew fat and were slaughtered for the master’s plate.

But the argument against Boyer’s portrayal is that we can’t say Dear Leader fed the chickens specifically to build terrorism, not because it wasn’t a perfectly foreseeable outcome but because we have not established that Dear Leader is capable of foreseeing obvious outcomes.

Seriously.

 

 

Sousa & Machado portray his contradictory rhetoric accurately, but it’s hard, with someone who tweets out clearly illogical nonsense on a regular basis, to prove that he is being deliberately hypocritical.

You can analyze his statements about the caravan and show that they’re false, but it’s hard to prove he knows that.

On the other hand, when he promises people a tax cut that will happen before the midterms, and not only has Congress no such bill in hand but isn’t even in session, it’s hard to believe this isn’t a deliberate lie.

But no sane person would tell such an obvious, deliberate, easily refutable lie, and this person did.

 

Patrick Chappatte comes closest, I think, to analyzing how the man’s mind works: He is — honestly and beyond politics — a narcissist who genuinely sees the world only as it effects him.

 

This is why “bad media” is anyone who even attempts ethical neutrality, such that Signe Wilkinson recognizes his greatest enemy: Competent, mainstream reporting.

He honestly believes that, because he is President of the United States, those who oppose him oppose the nation and thus are terrorists.

One of the main results of colonialism is kleptocracy, because colonies have been taught that whoever is in power gets to take whatever they want.

It’s not just that the leaders in those countries expect to line their pockets and get their way, but that their people have been trained for centuries to accept it.

Which doesn’t explain how the United States, born in an upper middleclass revolution, fell into kleptocracy.

But it does explain why our HNIC (Head Narcissist In Charge) is so enamored of those tyrants who tolerate no opposition from the masses.

 

And why, as Jack Ohman so well depicts it, he is readily, eagerly, led into believing what he wants to believe despite there being no evidence to back up the self-serving delusions being peddled.

 

Though, while Ohman’s explanation is funny, the predictable, inevitable results of handing power to a delusional narcissist, as shown by Pat Bagley, are not.

Nor is it fun to live in a country in which people accept the absurd promises of the lottery, or the insane promises of the President.

 

So let’s hope Mo’s bartender buddy is right.

Other countries have learned to live with random violence and attempts to suppress it, but it’s not an adjustment I want to make.

 

Community Comments

#1 Sean Martin
October/29/2018
@ 7:05 am

Up here in the Great White North, if you wi the lottery, you get the whole thing, tax-free, because the ticket sales more than offset the amount paid out.

Just one more moment when I am so glad to be Canadian… :-)

#2 Mike Peterson
October/29/2018
@ 9:10 am

Almost as good a feeling as when you score the winning goal in the Stanley Cup, isn’t it?

#3 d clay
October/29/2018
@ 4:27 pm

It’s not that Trump does not know whether he’s lying or not.

He knows he’s lying. It’s just that he’s done it his whole entire life.

A good chunk of his supporters know he lies about everything, but they don’t care. I guess many still believe Obama was born in Kenya, but no Trump supporters I’ve seen will ever admit they did believe it. Even if they did not believe it, they happily repeated the meme every chance they got, including to any who surveyed them.

Even more puzzling, to me at least, is why they believe tax cuts for the rich will help them. At least some of them know that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

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