RJ Matson offers one of the more neutral cartoons regarding Michael Cohen’s planned appearance today before the House Oversight Committee.
Cohen blew a previous plea bargain by lying, and, as all fans of “Law & Order” (the TV show, not necessarily the concept) know, it’s standard procedure to attempt to impeach any witness — even an honest one — who has reached a deal with prosecutors.
I’m not seeing actual skepticism here so much as (A) caution and (B) a basic “Here’s how it stands” cartoon that doesn’t make a strong statement one way or the other.
And, yes, there’s a difference between “skepticism” and “caution.”
By contrast, Tom Stiglich is skeptical, though, as someone on social media pointed out, Cohen’s previous lies were based on his contention that Trump is innocent, which makes it dicey for Republican committee members to go after his lies with much precision.
Still, Stiglich presents the Republican position: The man is a proven liar.
As a side note, I’d suggest that, while the Pinocchio metaphor is a tiresome cliche when it is the main point of a cartoon, when used, as in these two cartoons, as an indicator of dishonesty, it’s a handy, universally understood symbol.
Steve Breen‘s metaphor, meanwhile, is of a “rat,” generally a term for people who testify on behalf of the state against a criminal. And, while Pinocchio is a suggestion of dishonesty, calling someone a rat is a suggestion of disloyalty.
Coincidentally, I used a clip from “Stalag 17” yesterday, and, in the movie version, Peter Graves plays a rat who is collaborating with government forces to betray Allied POWs.
But that movie was made in 1953, and we’ve since come to a point where we watch “The Godfather,” “Good Fellas” and “the Sopranos” with the idea that we should root for the mob and against the government.
Let’s be clear: You don’t have to like prosecution witnesses. They’re not always very nice people.
A guy I knew in college became a fed and found himself babysitting a witness in a major mob trial.
The fellow told him about a few incidents of his life in the rackets until finally my buddy told him that he wasn’t his friend, he didn’t like him and he didn’t want to hear any more of his stories.
But it wasn’t because he was a rat.
It was because he was a pig.
Anyway, Jim Morin makes what I think is the ultimate point on all this.
No matter how you feel about law and order, it’s pretty ridiculous to dismiss someone as a liar if you trust Donald Trump.
That is, if you’re gonna be a chump, be on the side of the Good Guys, not the Wise Guys.
Though, as Ann Telnaes suggests, we should have some sympathy for poor guys who acted like thugs before they knew they were going to wind up in the spotlight.
What a world. What a world.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Speaking of saying one thing and trusting the man who says the other, rightwingers are adamant that feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless and providing workers with adequate wages is a communist plot.
It’s bad enough that they don’t know the difference between “socialism” and “communism,” which the rest of us learned in the eighth grade, but they apparently don’t realize that Trump’s favorite nations — Vietnam, North Korea and, yes, Russia — are communist countries.
But as Jimmy Margulies points out, Republicans seem a little conflicted at the moment.
Though it’s not like they understood it back then and don’t get it anymore: They used to yell “Go Back To Russia” to antiwar demonstrators, and none of us wanted to go to Russia, where demonstrating against the government would get you exiled to a gulag.
The idea of “rightwing” and “leftwing” is deceptive, because it’s really a circle, with the fanatical elements of each tending to meet at the far side. (Learned that in eighth grade, too.)
Unquestioning loyalty to the government was a dream of True Believers who supported Mussolini and ones who supported Castro.
It remains a dream whenever True Believers meet on that circle.
I think Walt Handelsman has the US/Korean summit pretty well defined.
One thing to note is that Kim’s agreement not to bother even reading the final report is fully within context of a cultural factor that needs to be kept in mind, not only in dealing with Kim but with Third World dictators in general.
Whether it’s North Korea or Iran or Iraq or Libya, there is a form of bombast that strikes Western ears as nonsensical.
In the months before our invasions of Iraq, Saddam Hussein made threats about “the mother of all battles” and what he was going to do to the Americans, which Iraqis absorbed as the sort of lockerroom braggadocio you’d hear before a big game, not as a serious prediction.
But it sure made it easier to get approval for the invasions, because it was easy to simply lay it out there for Americans to take seriously.
This is similar to when Khruschev vowed “We will bury you,” which was less bombast than simply a Russian expression meaning “We’ll still be here when you’re long gone,” not so different from saying, “We’ll dance on your graves.”
Still, it could readily be presented as a threat, simply by quoting him without providing context.
I would contend that the Third World/First World factor is only a matter of volume, and that people who embrace tyrants want to hear that kind of overheated rhetoric, even if it isn’t objectively true.
Which is where Trump’s seemingly infinite string of nonsensical, non-factual braggart lies come into focus: In the minds of the Deplorables, it really does count as “alternative facts.”
Which are quite different from Michael Cohen’s lies.
As I’m sure we’ll see.
And now for something completely different:
Keith Knight sympathizes with Spike Lee, and Seth Meyers saves us all from having to watch either movie.
‘Cause saving people is what he does.