CSotD: Let them eat lies

Adam Zyglis offers a good jumping off place this morning, since, from here, we can go in a couple of different directions.

The first is, of course, the arrogance of wealth combined with a sociopathic lack of empathy, and we don’t have to go back to Marie Antoinette to find a parallel.


Though, to be fair, he’s not entirely without empathy, as Chris Britt demonstrates, and, as someone deeply committed to the hospitality industry, he devotes himself to making sure his clients are comfortable.

Mick Mulvaney said that his boss ‘still considers himself to be in the hospitality business’ and it’s only one of several things Mulvaney has said that is clearly and obviously true, which makes him an anomaly in the current administration.

But the “hospitality” thing made me remember another New York hotelier who had a similar view of hoi polloi. I went back to try to find cartoons from the late 80s, when Leona Helmsley said, “We don’t pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.”


Couldn’t find any, but, in the search I discovered that a couple of cartoonists had thought of her more recently, and here’s a Pat Bagley cartoon from 2016 when Trump made his parallel observation on the topic.


I also found some reason to still trust in happy endings, because Helmsley — who, by the way, also had a reputation for stiffing her contractors — was hauled up on tax evasion and other charges, found guilty and sentenced to 16 years, of which she served all but 14-and-a-half, because doing time is also for little people.

Still, it shows the perils of messing with US Attorney Rudolph Giuliani, if you don’t have a good lawyer like Alan Dershowitz.


Hey, times change, as Nick Anderson points out, and I suspect part of why Helmsley is remembered as “The Queen of Mean” and despised to this day is that the NYC tabloids took off after her.

Like the elephant in Anderson’s cartoon, they, and we, have since learned to shrug off a lot.


Though I’m not sure the American people are prepared to shrug off the betrayal of our Kurdish allies, and it was the NY Post that published this photo of Syrian/Kurdish nurses treating a 13-year-old victim of white phosphorous.


Peter Brookes of the Irish Times notes the use of the weapon against Kurdish civilians, in a cartoon that is almost too pretty for my tastes but which does not only point the blame but depicts the attack as both widely targeted and hard to avoid.

In other news, President Trump has removed the sanctions he earlier had placed on Turkey.


Having brokered a ceasefire and, as Kevin Siers notes, left the parties to work out their differences.

We’ll find out how many Americans prefer heroes who don’t have bone spurs, though, as noted here before, draft-dodging appears to be yet another thing voters have learned to shrug off.


Getting back to that thing about Adam Zyglis offering a couple of jumping off points, Rob Rogers demonstrates by looking at a domestic issue that should roil the waters here, but perhaps won’t.

The connection is that Marie Antoinette didn’t say “let them eat cake.”

What she said was “let them eat cakes” as in brioche — that is, if they didn’t have loaves of bread, they should eat buns, she having missed the point entirely.

Except that she didn’t say that either, because she didn’t say any of it. It’s an old story that has been attached to rich, arrogant people before, and it just happened to stick to her.

We’ve been attaching useful legends to various people for a very long time, and, in fact, Marie’s husband is said to have fled his enemies disguised in women’s clothing, which was also said of Jeff Davis and any number of other toppled leaders, many of whose soldiers had previously been accused of hurling babies into the air and catching them on bayonets or pikes or whatever sharp weapons they had.

Think of it as a form of historical recycling.


Which brings us to Facebook’s policy/non-policy on political propaganda in the coming election season.

Under AOC’s questioning, Zuckerburg courageously declares that lying is bad, and then explains that Facebook will punish liars by taking their money and leaving their lies where everyone can see just how dishonest they are.

On accounta he’s a tough guy and shows no mercy.

For a reasonable fee.

Well, what is truth anyway, amirite?

It really doesn’t matter what Marie Antoinette said or whether she said it at all. History remembers her for what she represented, not who she really was or what she really said.

For that matter, Leona Helmsley denied that she ever said paying taxes was for little people, and what are you going to believe — the sworn testimony of the workingclass person who heard her say it, or the fabulously rich person who denies it?

No doubt we will be remembered by history in much the same way: Not for what we actually said, but for what we came to represent.


It’s a free country and not only can we believe whatever we want, but we can vote for whatever we want and thus we become whatever we want to be.

We had a president who was a Constitutional Law scholar, and then, as Tom Toles notes, we decided we wanted one who is not.

Obviously, we’ve learned to shrug off Constitutional Law along with everything else.

Don’t fret. It’s just part of the process.

(W)hen the State, on the eve of ruin, maintains only a vain, illusory and formal existence, when in every heart the social bond is broken, and the meanest interest brazenly lays hold of the sacred name of “public good,” the general will becomes mute: all men, guided by secret motives, no more give their views as citizens than if the State had never been; and iniquitous decrees directed solely to private interest get passed under the name of laws. — Rousseau

4 thoughts on “CSotD: Let them eat lies

  1. Hey, let’s cut Marie some slack here, huh?? She was young and naive and the only member of the French court who gave a gosh-darn about the poor. The genesis of that line attributed to her — and I say that in full knowledge that the line is just as apocryphal as anything — is that she was returning to Versailles from Paris and saw first hand the extreme poverty of the Paris streets. Resolved, she went to the Royal Baker and demanded he make bread for her to distribute. He claimed they couldnt, as they were all far too busy making cakes for the desserts for the banquet that night.

    “Fine!” she supposedly replied, “then let the poor eat cake!”

    Whether or not she actually said it, no one knows, but we do know that she cared deeply about the situation. Records from the trials held during the Revolution indicate there was much discussion about what to do with a monarch who was deeply loved by many Parisians, and in the end they decided to execute her anyway.

  2. “…who was deeply loved…and in the end they decided to execute anyway.”

    None of the rest of Sean’s quote pertains to the US discussion.

    Too bad. Kind of like the declaring the inquiry “a lynching” makes you wish the guy knew what a real lynching was like.

  3. Just hate to see another example of someone mangling history to make a point…

    … whether it applies to the Endless Discussions About The Greatest Country On Earth (TM) or not.

  4. Adapted from Catch-22 —

    “Just what the hell did you mean, you bastard, when you said they should eat cake?” said the corporal who could take shorthand reading from his steno pad.

    “All right,” said the colonel. “Just what the hell did you mean?”

    “I didn’t say they should eat cake, sir.”

    “When,” asked the colonel.

    “When what, sir?”

    “Now you’re asking me questions again.”

    “I’m sorry, sir. I’m afraid I don’t understand your question.”

    “When didn’t you say they should eat cake? Don’t you understand my question?”

    “No, sir, I don’t understand.”

    “You’ve just told us that. Now suppose you answer my question.”

    “But how can I answer it?”

    “That’s another question you’re asking me.”

    “I’m sorry, sir. But I don’t know how to answer it. I never said they should eat cake.”

    “Now you’re telling us what you did say. I’m asking you to tell us when you didn’t say it.”

    Antoinette took a deep breath. “I always didn’t say they should eat cake, sir.”

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