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CSotD: Welcome to the chaos

I’m thinking of doing an entire blog consisting of nothing but cartoons of the Wall Street bull statue wearing a surgical mask. At this stage, it’s still a coincidence, but time’s up, gang.

 

If you would like to examine the coronavirus in more detail, I’d suggest you go to the Guardian and read the rest of this “First Dog in the Moon” cartoon.

Not that I’m not taking the virus itself seriously, but the hoohah around it deeply deserves mockery.

To which I can add, “I knew the Hong Kong flu. I had the Hong Kong flu. You, sir, are no Hong Kong flu.”

Yet, anyway.

First Dog’s advice strikes me as hilarious, but then he’s satirizing the sort of omigodomigod coverage that surrounds such things, and I once had the chance to write an entire tabloid insert on the topic of the next pandemic that was going to kill us all. But didn’t.

But, please, wash your hands properly and sneeze into the sleeve of your dry-clean-only angora sweater

 

Meanwhile, I’m grateful to Darrin Bell for this one, because it saves me from having to post one of several crackpot cartoons about Bernie approving of Castro’s dictatorship pointing out that, given what he said and the number of places you can read or hear or watch what he said, there’s no honest excuse for getting it so completely, absolutely wrong.

As he suggests, and as I noted yesterday, there is an ethical requirement to do basic research, and reporting things you should know are false is “propaganda,” not “commentary.”

Or, to put it in more basic terms, it makes you either a damned fool or a damned liar.

And as I’ve also said before, this is less a case of defending Bernie than it is of promoting truth.

 

To which I would add Jack Ohman‘s cartoon, because that poor donkey faces a plenty of chances to get flattened on the highway, particularly with all those bots in, as Ohman suggests, every lane.

It’s hard to find a solid count of how many of the President’s Twitter followers are bots, with estimates as low as a third and as high as 61 percent, but he had a bit of a confrontation in a White House meeting with Twitter’s CEO in which he complained of prejudice because they had cancelled a boatload of his bots.

The issue of responsibility on behalf of Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms is a lively one, but, for the moment, they are able to duck the limits that broadcasters and print publishers face in at least making a good-faith attempt to verify what they pass along.

Topic for another day, but Facebook once had a policy of requiring people to use their own names and that mostly tells you how long I’ve been playing on the platforms.

I recognize the point of women using their first and middle names to keep stalkers at bay, but the ease of adopting fake names, particularly on Twitter, sure does make it easy to set up bots and sock puppets.

 

And, as this Kal cartoon notes, our election system is already heavily vulnerable to having small, local niche groups lead it around by the nose, even when those groups consist of genuine people.

Another lengthy topic for another day: Are all these primaries and caucuses really better than sending trusted party members off into a smoke-filled room to pick a candidate?

But, in the meantime, we need to recognize that polls are part of horserace coverage and need to be taken in context, and that …

 

… as Pearls Before Swine points out, the people who dominate social media are not necessarily a cross-section of the nation.

For my part, I voted for Jeanne Shaheen and Annie Kuster, and if they wanted to go off to Chicago or someplace and help the Democrats pick a candidate, I’d be cool with that.

And I’m pretty sure my neighbors across the river, as seen in this Jeff Danziger panel, would be happy enough to let their folks make the call, too.

Not sure my Republican neighbors would feel as comfortable letting Chris Sununu help make the choice for a GOP candidate, mind you.

 

As Stuart Carlson notes, the Republicans seem to have a more rigid sense of “party loyalty” these days.

 

Tom Toles suggests that it’s become kind of a top-down organization in that respect.

And here’s a little more about how it all works. We already know that Trump follows Fox and Friends, speaks regularly with Sean Hannity and is sheltered by his staff from viewpoints that might upset him. (It’s not worth buying new books from White House insiders, BTW,  because they simply re-confirm all this.)

But note that, while Dear Leader has 73 million Twitter followers — impressive, even granted that as many as 44,500,000 of them may be artificial bots — he only follows 47 people himself, and it’s a listing of, as Louis Renault would say, “the usual suspects.”

 

And if there is little information flowing in, there is equally little information flowing out, as Jen Sorensen suggests.

I’d criticize her for putting him behind a podium, since Trump does not hold press conferences in the White House Briefing Room, preferring to shout over the waiting helicopter on the White House driveway or conduct brief Q&A’s during photo ops with foreign leaders.

But, just as she portrays it, this offers him easier opportunities to blow off difficult questions and provide only the sound bites he’s prepared to offer.

 

And while frogs won’t really sit in a pot while it comes to a boil, Americans apparently have no problem seeing the anniversary of an inspiring moment in sports history turned into a campaign photo for Dear Leader.

It’s okay: The 1980 Olympic Hockey Team explained that “this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America.”

At a campaign rally. Wearing campaign hats.

Well, even Uncle Joe eventually saw a corrective bend in the arc of history.

 

Today in History

February 25, 1956

 

Community Comments

#1 Mark Jackson
February/26/2020
@ 9:59 am

Which reminds me: I highly recommend this movie:

https://reelgood.com/movie/the-death-of-stalin-2017

#2 Mary Ella
February/26/2020
@ 12:47 pm

I’m torn between ditching Twitter forever or not. When I first got on there I really did find it fun—I followed a bunch of parody accounts and goofy stuff and it was fun to read.

I don’t know if it’s become less fun because my feed needs to be purged or if it’s just because life in general is less fun.

#3 Bill Harris
February/26/2020
@ 1:17 pm

Many people complain that the Electoral College doesn’t represent the will of the People, yet few complain that the primary system doesn’t give us good candidates that represent the desires of the people.

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