CSotD: Reading the Room

Peter Brookes leads off today with a cartoon about the UK elections that resonates in the US.

There are plenty of political analysts who link Boris Johnson’s stunning victory to the radical policies of his chief opponent, Jeremy Corbin, and American commentators have suggested that Democrats are heading down the same path to defeat if they nominate a candidate seen as extremist.

Last time around, Democrats nominated someone who had been hated — yes, for stupid and fictional reasons — by conservatives for a quarter of a century. The narrowness of Trump’s electoral college victory makes it hard not to suspect that the game was lost before it began.

That’s not a statement against Clinton. Merely an observation about tactics.

I like and admire several of the Democratic candidates, and I also realize that pie-in-the-sky proposals during elections don’t always pan out once they require actual legislation to happen.

It’s not about whether I want universal health care or think we should fund K-16 education. It’s about whether large, overly specific promises mark a contender as “radical” or — gasp! — “socialist.”

And it’s about idealists who want change and so are dead set against “electability” and “centrism” as factors in choosing a candidate.

It’s about all the idealistic changes we were promised under President McGovern.

There’s a thing entertainers call “Reading the Room,” which doesn’t mean changing your act, but simply tailoring your performance so that your audience will applaud it.

Billboard reports that Adam Sandler has the top-selling comedy album of all time, but look who’s got #2 and #3, and how close those numbers are.

I don’t say that to express anything but caution; I grew up surrounded by working class people who enjoy a good laugh at their own expense.

When it’s delivered with affection rather than contempt.

When it’s tailored to their tastes.

More caution — Check this out:

This is Neilsen’s ratings for the top TV Series and Specials in terms of their social media engagement, and, yes, I do find this a bit discouraging.

Both Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama governed with the idea that, if you explained things to people, they would go along with policies that didn’t immediately put meat on their tables and change in their pockets.

They failed to read the room: Do those look like people who favor long-term, big-picture solutions?


Mike Marland comments on a Bernie Sanders rally this past week that drew 1,300 people, the largest NH turnout so far for a candidate, but also the pushback against his bringing Ilhan Omar along.

My social media mix is not particularly tuned to the Granite State, so I missed the part of the commentary that Marland cites, but, then again, I’m sure it happened.

And I don’t know what to do about it, since I like Omar and believe she is unfairly branded, though she does have a problem with a tendency to phrase perfectly admirable concepts in problematic ways.

Bottom line, however, is that I agree with Marland that it might be nice to kick off the primary season in a more diverse state that better represents the nation as a whole.


I don’t know that Iowa, which caucuses before the NH primary, fits that description, but I really like Greg Kearney’s commentary on our Ag policy. Kearney speaks to Ag issues and, in this case, he’s right that government policy does not favor small family farms.

Small farmers are like the coal miners who trusted and supported Trump. You’d be foolish to think you could turn all of them around, but, then again, you’d be foolish not to see how many you can persuade to try another approach.

Granted, a proposal to weight subsidies in favor of resident, rather than absentee, owners would drive PAC money to your opponent, but wotthehell, you didn’t have the farm vote in the first place.


Meanwhile, in Fantasyland

Speaking of Mom-and-Pop being edged out by the megacorps, relentless national promotion beginning with “Walt Disney’s Disneyland” in 1954, plus cheaper air fares, has made Orlando a vacation hub and spelled disaster to small amusement parks around the country.

Here Andy Marlette joins the news staff of the Orlando Sentinel in pointing out the exploitation of workers at the area’s tourist attractions.

But, again, read the room: This isn’t going to touch off any boycotts. The people who weren’t going to go still won’t, and the people who were planning to go still will.

It’s not magic; it’s marketing.


Christmas in Canada and Mexico

Changing gears but still on the topic of vacations, Doc and Raider have just set out on a holiday-themed trip into the countryside, which contained a bit of dialogue in yesterday’s initial entry but which Sean Martin bills as an experiment in non-verbal storytelling. (Go there and use the arrows to see today’s, or to catch up if you’re reading this late.)


And I like the artwork in La Cucaracha, while Santa’s use of a lariat also brings forth this bit of diverse trivia:

When cattle owners from the East first entered the formerly-Mexican territories to set up business, they were used to working cattle in much more confined areas, moving and directing them with whips.

The vaqueros introduced them to la reata, which was far more practical on the wide-open spaces of the West. It was only one of many technologies and techniques the gringos had to learn before they could call themselves “cowboys.”

Even within the established community, there were differences, including anchoring a roped steer either by having your maguey (lariat made from agave fiber) tied around your saddle horn (as done in Texas) or by using a looping movement on the fly, which allowed for a quick release if needed (California style).

This latter technique, “dallying” was also called taking a “dolly welters” from the Spanish “dale vuelta,” the difference in technique being the source of a classic cowboy song about a fellow who lost his Sam Stack brand rimfire (a saddle with one, rather than two, cinches) because he’d tied off instead of taking a dally.


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