CSotD: Complexities

Today’s roundup of things that are more complex than people seem to think will begin with Pat Bagley‘s astute analysis of the Meuller Report.

My junior high science teacher had an atom in a box, or, at least, that’s what it said it was on the outside of the small, taped-up carton.

And there was something in there, all right: You could shake it and tell it was hard, and you could weigh it, but, since you didn’t know the weight of the box, that told you almost nothing.

You could tilt it around and tell that it wasn’t round but probably wasn’t a cube either.

What you couldn’t do was see it.

So Robert Meuller has released his report and we’re all shaking it and weighing it and tilting it around and trying to guess what it looks like.

And we’re probably going to wish Daniel Ellsberg would steal a copy and make it public, but if Meuller’s team were not as sphinx-like as the boss, we’d already know who to ask.

There are calls for the full report to be released, but that really can’t happen, because it’s full of grand jury testimony and other magical secret stuff, and you can’t bitch and moan about Jared’s security clearance and then demand one for everybody else.


Bizarro gets the Great Timing Award for today’s cartoon, because Piraro and Wayno couldn’t possibly have planned for this to hit the morning after the report was concluded, but here it is.

There are things in the Meuller report, no doubt, that we ought to know, but there are also things in there that we probably shouldn’t.

That is, Freedom of Information is a bulwark of democracy, but, then again, there are good reasons to keep some things under wraps and grand jury testimony is right up there, because if that becomes public, you don’t get any more.

We’ll eventually know more than we do at the moment, of course, but, in the meantime, here’s our …


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Tim Eagan)

(Matt Wuerker)

Eagan’s cartoon plays on the country saying, “That ol’ dog won’t hunt,” pointing out that there are a lot of dogs out there and some of them are going to come home with something and some of them aren’t.

Wuerker, by contrast, points out how many of those dogs have already put game in the bag, while noting that Trump has been, and will continue, insisting that the only goal was to prove collusion.

Mueller has stuck to his assignment a lot better than Ken Starr ever did, or, at least, he has insisted on interpreting his job as finding out about collusion, while Starr interpreted his as bringing down a president, and they’re probably both right about that.

But the fact that Mueller didn’t come up with a blue dress doesn’t mean he came up empty.

While, if a blue dress could bring down this president, we wouldn’t have needed Mueller.


Anyway, we have other simple-minded ideas

The big hoo-ha among people who have never studied the foundations of our government is outrage over the Electoral College, as noted in Bill Bramhall‘s cartoon.

Elizabeth Warren wants to get rid of it entirely and is gaining fans among those who believe in pure majority rule.

I like Warren, but her undergraduate degree is in speech pathology and I don’t know what she studied in law school, but her resulting expertise is in finance, and neither field requires that you read the Federal and Anti-Federalist Papers, much less John Locke or any of that foundational Enlightenment mumbo-jumbo.

Which is to say that you can be awfully smart and awfully well-educated and still not know what the hell you’re talking about.

Even if you come from the city and are not from out here where there’s nothing but dirt and trees and ignorant people who don’t deserve to have their voices heard.

Yes, yes, majority vote.

Put the Civil Rights Act up for a plebecite and let’s see how you feel about direct democracy..

At the risk of mentioning Elizabeth Warren and Indians in the same passage, this country has long since outgrown direct democracy, in part because the Founders — who not only had read John Locke but wrote the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers — knew it couldn’t work even when we were just 13 little colonies with limited suffrage.

They’d also studied New World customs, particularly the Iroquois Confederacy, and borrowed some principles of that governmental system, but, to the extent that the Confederacy relied on direct democracy, it was within local governments.

As a group, the Iroquois echoed a federal system, and one in which the Mohawk, Onondaga and Seneca vastly out-numbered and could have out-muscled the Cayuga and Oneida, who were known as the “Little Brothers” in a government that respected their needs.

Thus was inspired a system in which the states can have all the direct democracy they want within a federal system can’t possibly operate that way.

It couldn’t with 13 states, and it certainly can’t with 50 and DC and Puerto Rico standing in the wings.

Here’s the deal: I’d like to see a reform of the Electoral College, but the move to have states simply cast all their votes for whoever wins the overall popular vote is so unconstitutional, anti-federalist and simpleminded that it makes my teeth ache.


Good news on the fair-use front:

I’m at my self-imposed limit of 1,000 words, but the nearly-three-years-old copyright battle between Dr. Seuss and ComicMix has — pending appeal — finally ended in a victory for parody and satire and fair use.

For further reading, here’s the wrap up (h/t to Tom Spurgeon) and for background, here’s what I wrote back when the feces first hit the fan.

It’s fascinating, important reading but boils down to the fact that, while the courts generally uphold the First Amendment, you’d better have good lawyers and deep pockets if you’re going to mess with Disney, the US Olympic Committee or Dr. Seuss.


(Oh, sue me, Walt)

5 thoughts on “CSotD: Complexities

  1. Sorry, but the judge got this one completely wrong. As the commenter in your linked column says, this wasnt about being a parody or a satire of the original source material. It was exploiting it to garner attention for a pretty thin little project. It was hardly “transformative”, as the judge claims.

    But then, who understands your justice system these days. I darn sure dont.

  2. Related to two (or more) of today’s topics, Lar Desousa, artist for two successful webcomics written by somebody else (and on the side raises money for the MS Society by drawing avatars for people in various cartoon styles) does occasionally do random cartoon concepts, and one is a mash-up of the Dr. Seuss controversy and the Mueller Report: http://uncalar.tumblr.com/image/183638062405 Oh! The Things You’ll Redact!

  3. Sean Martin: Just out of curiosity, have you actually read the book, “Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go!” I can’t see how you read it when you first commented back in December 2017, and your opinion hasn’t changed since.

    As to your lack of familiarity with US law, well, you’ve already established that.

  4. Eagan’s cartoon reminds me of “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” That also seems germane to the reactions.

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