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CSotD: Take two aspirations and call me in the morning

It’s Friday, but we’ll do funnies tomorrow. I’m actually hoping to go back to a random mix, with days of humor interspersed with days of politics and no particular pattern. It used to be like that here.

Which brings to mind this graphic the Onion ran in the wake of 9/11, when they finally rang down the curtain on a period of mourning that had canceled topical humor entirely and made non-topical humor seem pointless, if not almost sacrilegious.

By the way, if you can identify every bit of “stupid bullshit” in that poster, you are officially an old fart, albeit one with a good memory.

But the flood of stupid bullshit isn’t likely to halt this time around, the way it did then. We may be disillusioned a bit, and angry or shocked at how far things went, but we’re nowhere near as stunned as we were on 9/11.

We could draw a line, and place on it things like the Storming of the Capitol, 9/11, the Challenger explosion and the Oklahoma City bombing, on a scale of how much they disrupted normalcy but I don’t know that we’d come to any real conclusion.

For those of us entering our Social Security years, add in the assassination of JFK, and of Bobby and of Martin, and 900 suicides at Jonestown, but recognize that they’re only bits of history for most Americans, our median age being 38.

You might as well cite Pearl Harbor for all that those moments shattered our current society.

We’ll see where the Storming of the Capitol lands on that scale, but there’s also something — something important and not very nice — in the notion that some of those awful things happened to “other people,” while others of them happened to “us.”

If you want to measure the traumatic nature of things, begin by measuring that.

 

Deb Milbrath (Ind) is not the only person who bristled yesterday, when Joe Biden said that this is not who we are.

And she’s right: This is who we are, now.

But those who say “This is not who we are” are speaking aspirationally, not analytically, and Biden’s complete statement is a good example.

He strongly condemned Trump’s pandering to our worst instincts and broadened the accusation into a place no President has ever gone:

No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.

Moreover, he addressed the issue of aspiration vs analysis:

I made it clear from the moment I entered this race, that … there was nothing less at stake than who we are as a nation, what we stand for, what we believe, what we will be.

Will his reach exceed his grasp? There are worse things than trying and failing.

For instance, not trying because we fear failure.

 

And if Milbrath is too pessimistic, Marshall Ramsey (Creators) seems to believe it’s all over, which is not simply optimistic but risks making sure it is never, ever over.

There’s a reason it happened and celebrating the fact that the mob was driven out is like wiping the mold off your walls with a damp cloth.

Nice and clean, but the black schmutz will be back in a week.

While, in the meantime, the spores are spreading.

 

Kal Kallaugher (The Economist) traces the source of the infection, and he’s right not only in identifying it, but in diagnosing the problem: It’s not just that Trump exists, but that the GOP nurtured and enabled him.

The world is full of lunatics, moon calves and raging maniacs. But you don’t have to grant them safe harbor, much less appoint them your leaders.

The Republicans not only let a reality show host run for office, but allowed him to gain their nomination and then . . .

 

. . . allowed him to metastasize, resulting in, as Drew Sheneman (AMS) points out, Republican fellow travelers who advance the theory that the Capitol was stormed by thousands of crisis actors from a largely mythical group called “Antifa.”

We’ve even seen the ludicrous spectacle of an Ivy League law school graduate, Supreme Court intern, former state attorney general, law professor and United States Senator who not only bought into the nonsensical, paranoid “stolen election” theory, but raised a fist in solidarity with the mob as they gathered for the invasion.

Then, when his publisher canceled his next book contract over this blatantly indecent display of sedition, this Constitutional Scholar declared that it was an “Orwellian” violation of his First Amendment rights.

As has been said before, it’s not that you can’t make this stuff up, but that you don’t have to.

And as polarized as we have become, the Republicans have been happy to furnish examples of rabid, unthinking partisanship that don’t require spin or exaggeration.

 

As Jack Ohman (WPWG) does a nice job of capturing, we’ve finally reached a bipartisan agreement to do something.

Anything.

Anybody got a plan?

Wringing our hands! That always works!

But while leadership dithers, as Pia Guerra (Nib) says, Trump is sinking anyway, and his supporters are leaping off and swimming for safety.

There have been scads of Titanic cartoons and references to rats leaving the sinking ship, and her abandonment of those tired metaphors is refreshing, while the mixed choice she has made suggests an element of lice, fleas and other tiny vermin that I find particularly apt.

 

Okay, maybe Dave Brown (The Independent) goes a little over the edge with this metaphor.

I didn’t say I didn’t laugh.

And, having accepted it, I’d suggest the GOP have Roto-Rooter standing by, because, as the President of the United States himself once remarked, “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.”

 

He won’t go down easily, as Pat Bagley (SLTrib) says, because our national psychotic break with reality and abandonment of decency is not, thanks to talk radio, Rupert Murdoch, Dear Leader and a compliant GOP, confined to the GOP upper brass.

For now, this is who we are.

But I join Seamus Jennings (Ind) in insisting that it isn’t who we have to be.

 

 

Community Comments

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#1 JG McLean
January/8/2021
@ 8:20 am

Hi Mike

1. What, no crying Statue of Liberty to be found?

2. I laughed at the toilet gag too, but not as hard as I did at several “Elizabeth from Knoxville” gags on social media yesterday. Op-Ed cartoons have become downright quaint.

3. Black Schmutz Matters

JGM

#2 parnell nelson
January/8/2021
@ 7:23 pm

Being a long-time hardcore WC Fields fan, as soon as I see the word ‘mooncalf’ I cannot help but read all the words after it in WC’s voice. Maybe if I stop reading aloud in public I won’t get as many curious, yet sympathetic, looks…

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