CSotD: Whitewashing

Marshall Ramsey gets it about right. This is hardly the first cartoon in which the unredacted text spells out a message, but the message it spells out is certainly front-and-center.

As noted here yesterday, the report is not all that long, and, while it’s dense, it’s not difficult. Anyone who has done college-level work should be able to skim through it quickly for meaning, though you’d have to settle in and devote some serious study to it in order to comment in any depth or detail.

Similarly, the general public never read the Pentagon Papers, either. We knew what was in them from reports by the people who had read them: A relatively small cadre of trusted journalists.

However, we’re a lot more tribal now than we were then.

In those days, there were pro-War and anti-War people. You could be beaten up for having long hair and stupid people occasionally said stupid things to returning vets.

But most of those stories are folklore, and we were nowhere near as divided and tribal as we are today. Moreover, while there were crazy people with crazy theories of what “really” happened, they weren’t given much of a podium from which to propose their ideas.

Though, admittedly, the “Elvis isn’t really dead” theory managed to propagate itself without the help of the Internet, and neofascists made heroes of Gordon Liddy and Oliver North without Fox News to whip them up.

Which brings us to our first


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Kevin Necessary)

(Mike Thompson)

Kevin Necessary points out that, despite what is clearly stated in the report — the kind of stuff you can get on that first cursory skim-through — Barr’s news conference denied it, while Thompson goes beyond that presser into the repetitive, triumphant denials that have come since.

Now, O Best Beloved, you need to know that, while today we snicker over Nixon’s famous “I am not a crook” statement, there were plenty of people who believed what he said, both in Congress and among the general public. There were plenty who felt the Democrats were unfairly accusing him, either of things he hadn’t done or of things that “everybody does.”

In fact, the phrase from that era persists, that “it’s not the crime, it’s the coverup,” as if burglaries and payoffs were not, in and of themselves, impeachable violations of law.

Still, Nixon was able to shift the blame to his underlings, and it was only when the existence of the White House tapes emerged, absolutely proving his involvement, that his loyalists began to say “Uh-oh.”

It may be comforting to count up the Trump staffers who have been indicted, who have pled guilty, who are already behind bars or headed there, but you ain’t got no tapes and this isn’t going to be resolved as easily as Watergate.

So let’s look at our next


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Adam Zyglis)

(Mike Luckovich)

Zyglis is right, but there’s a fair amount of hair-splitting in this. Barr and Trump have declared that the Mueller probe found “no collusion,” but it certainly found plenty of willingness, even eagerness, to benefit from Russian help.

The Trump Tower Meeting, for instance, turned out to be a fizzle, a case of Russians trying to get a chance to lobby the Trump campaign over the Magnitsky Act, but the fact remains that Donnie Jr. set it up thinking he was going to get information about Clinton.

So, can you bust someone for trying to buy heroin if they only came away with baking soda?

And we should remember that the Chicago Eight trial, which attempted to jail people for collusion (under the term “conspiracy”) was, first of all, a travesty and, second, ended in acquittals.

But times change, and a few years later, some people defined “having sex” as full intercourse while many others included fellatio as “having sex with that woman.”

There was sure some heavy petting going on between the Russians and the Trump campaign, and where you draw the line between “conspiracy” and “collusion” depends largely on your politics.

But Luckovich’s cartoon is a sad suggestion that there are a lot of people who don’t give a damn, and, yes, I do find it odd that a lot of them are the spiritual heirs, if not exactly the same people, who used to throw red paint on protesters and scream “Go Back to Russia!”

And who now freak out over the idea of bringing a modest Scandinavian level of socialism to our shores.

But who don’t care if Russia boosted Trump’s chances or if Trump makes nice-nice with Putin.

So much winning!

And winning is even easier when you get to pick the rosters, which brings us to yet another


Juxaposition of the Day #3

(Jeff Stahler)

(Jimmy Margulies)

(Tom Toles)

I was the Census Reporter at our paper in 1990, and so I’m aware of how hard it is to get an accurate count even when you’re not trying to deliberately screw it up.

For instance — speaking of people who may not consider themselves “citizens” if asked — Indian sources were extremely skeptical about the results. They were concerned with the count of the urban homeless, which includes a lot of native people, while a Navajo tribal leader told me he’d love it if the Census had truly counted all the sheepherders spread across Four Corners, because the tribe didn’t know exactly how many people were out there.

And while it’s not true that Indians are stoic and never laugh, our local office provoked some chuckles from militant Mohawks by claiming that, having been handed the forms over an armed roadblock, they had dutifully filled them out and handed them back.

And when one of our editors got terribly excited about how much more racially diverse we’d become in the last decade, I had to disillusion her by pointing out how many prisons we’d built since the 1980 Olympics.

Trust me: It’s hard enough to get the numbers right when you aren’t deliberately attempting to get them wrong.

Whitewashing the Census won’t be much of a challenge.


One thought on “CSotD: Whitewashing

  1. “So, can you bust someone for trying to buy heroin if they only came away with baking soda?”

    Kaffee: It was oregano, Dave, it was ten dollars worth of oregano.
    Ross: Yeah, well your client thought it was marijuana.
    Kaffee: My client’s a moron, that’s not against the law.

    — A Few Good Men

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