CSotD: Confronting Us With Our Failures

There are times you’d like to just ignore it all and retreat into the funnies, but it’s getting kind of hard to pretend you don’t know what’s going on.

Retail isn’t even trying to be political, but, then again, there was a time when the prevailing politics were such that these daily assaults on honesty were shut down.

Back in the late 80s, the local assistant AG and I were in regular touch, as he worked to shut down things like phony sales on things that had only been nominally “sold” at full price for a day or two, then put on “X% Off!” permanent pricing.

But then we got a new governor who decided that having AG offices around the state was an unnecessary expense but promised we’d still protect consumers, though of course we didn’t.

(This being the same governor who, faced with school spending issues in NYC, declared that the state constitution’s guarantee of an adequate education meant finishing eighth grade.)


Rabbits Against Magic riffs on “The Front Runner,” a docudrama based on Gary Hart’s abortive run for the presidency, which I don’t have to watch because I was there.

Or, more precisely, I had just been there, in that I moved from Colorado to New York as Sen. Hart (D-Colo) began and abruptly ended his campaign, and, yes, I liked him, though, at the time, it seemed like a pretty stupid way to screw up a campaign and then Bill Clinton showed how you can play the hound dog and still come out on top.

And, hey, if you can elect a hound dog, how much of a stretch is it to elect a pig?


So Harry Bliss can snicker over old folks who talk about “Nowadays” and reminisce about the Good Old Days, but it’s a fraught and touchy topic.

There’s the nostalgic glow of sitting in the park watching the children play, “doing things we used to do, they think are new,” and, yeah, it’s funny that Mick and Keith were 21 when they wrote that, but then Jackson Browne said “Hold my beer, which I’m not supposed to have because I’m only 16” and we’ll save his tune for the end.

Meanwhile, in those days, we were sending 19-year-olds off to Vietnam and there’s a reason the military is full of young men, and it’s why older men describe them as “young and dumb and full of cum.”

As those old boys yearn for the days when they didn’t know what anything was gonna cost and therefore didn’t hesitate to race off towards the gunfire.

Still, as infuriating as it is to have youngsters explain things you lived through as if they were explaining lunch to someone with dementia, I also remember when I said something cocksure and stupid about World War II to my mother, who calmly replied, “You have to remember, though, at the time, we didn’t know who was going to win.”


Ward Sutton is a little too young to remember JFK, though he’s old enough to remember Reagan, but he’s got a solid grasp of how things have transmuted over the years, if not from gold to lead, at least from a good-though-fallible system to a greatly lesser, far more fault-ridden one, all the worse for our collective failure to take responsibility.

And, after all, one of the milestones of growing from child to adult is when, instead of running away, you knock on the neighbors’ door and admit that your baseball just shattered their window.

Which is, as Sutton suggests, less a measure of age than of character.


The downside of having seen everything before is perhaps the downside of this otherwise encouraging RJ Matson cartoon.

That is, I take considerable comfort in polls that show a majority of people want to see the Mueller Report, and more comfort in remembering how the revelations of Watergate and the Church Committee Report spurred reform and a cleaning out of the house.

Which is why some older people sit back and say, “Oh, it will be all right.”

They are being awfully selective in their memory.

It’s a bit like being saved by your reserve chute: Some will say, “See? The system works!” and go jump out of another airplane.

Others say, “That was a little too close” and will plant their feet on the ground.

However we processed the experience at the time, those of us who lived through Watergate should now remember how quickly that reformist spirit faded, and how we let Gingrich and his cronies recapture the republic, and how that, in turn, led to where we are today.


Jim Morin offers a comparatively calm assessment of Dear Leader’s shocking ex cathedra announcement that America is no longer a beacon of freedom and liberty.

This isn’t to suggest that we aren’t seeing too many refugees coming from Central America. We are.

But a decent, rational nation would recognize that the answer is not to be punitive towards them and certainly not to cut off aid to their home countries, but, rather to help improve those nations so they can stay there in peace and safety.


We should also, as Mike Marland does, bear in mind that Trump promised to hire only the best people, but is finding that the best people won’t violate the law and play to his insatiable, increasingly unhinged ego.


And, as Ed Wexler does, bear in mind that the acorn does not fall far from the tree.

Besides setting an example through his documented history of racial discrimination, the old man raised his son in the whited sepulchre branch of Christianity, the Gospel of Prosperity, and showered him with unearned wealth.


Such that, if the result is as Ed Hall views it …


… perhaps a large part of his 2016 victory began when we laughed at a misogynistic, racist film and made a hero of the willfully ignorant, insensitive, entitled preppy clod at its center.

Dammit, we really were more thoughtful once, than we are nowadays.



“History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake” — Stephen Dedalus

2 thoughts on “CSotD: Confronting Us With Our Failures

  1. I admire your ability to remain (or at least give the impression of remaining) calm and level headed in your commentaries on the ever widening cultural cesspool in which we are living . You are a true master of the journalistic arts. On the other hand, I, in my advancing years, am becoming more radicalized. Or maybe I haven’t changed all that much it’s just that everything around me has gone batshit looney… and on an equally depressing note, Phil Ochs left us 43 years ago today…Oh well, as my fellow 3rd shift factories mates used to say, “Better days are comin’.” Thanks for keepin’ on.

  2. In one long ago Sunday Doonesbury, a wealthy character commented to her maid “Cheer up ! Better days are coming/”

    The maid replies, “Yes ma’am, so is Jesus,but I ain’t waitin’ up nights.”

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