CSotD: Foiled again!

I remember reading some swashbuckler in which, at the very start, the roughnecks who wielded broadswords were complaining about Frenchmen who fought with light foils, which they felt were not manly in that they didn’t deal death in great, slashing blows but with small, sneaky thrusts.

It must have been Rafael Sabatini, because Dumas was himself too subtle to so plainly foreshadow his villain’s death, sneaking it in, not with the blunt clash of the broadsword but as deftly as that pinprick from which life oozes.

The other day, things were so depressing that any sort of subtlety, much less comedy, in editorial cartooning seemed out of place, if not entirely impossible. As impending horror built, it felt as though the only riposte (a fencing term!) was the brutal broadsword of a modern day Thomas Nast.

Silly me. Here, as deftly delivered as the Z on Sgt. Garcia’s belly, are some attacks that show subtlety and humor not only have their place but can be more effective and deadly than the broadsword.


Ed Hall is hardly the first to use the wasp’s nest as a symbol — in fact, it’s becoming tiresome — nor is he even the first to place a wasp’s nest turban on an imam’s head.

But to show Trump as a tiny man, tap-tap-tapping on the scowling giant’s turban makes the image fresh and effective.

There is a phrase in Russian literary criticism called “making new,” which means describing a well-known action or scene in a manner that brings an entirely fresh perspective to it. This is a for-instance.


In a related freshening, many cartoonists have depicted John Bolton as Yosemite Sam. Ann Telnaes does not, but somehow infuses her caricature with the same demented, ridiculous fury.

It’s as if she’s daring you, enticing you, to think that looks like Yosemite Sam, which makes it twice as effective as if she’d grabbed for the actual parallel.


And while the broadsword fighters have been screaming about the horrific wildfires in Australia, Pat Bagley simply delivers a quick pinprick that leaves a tiny, mortal hole in climate change denial.

Greta’s famous anger over those who will not listen is as sharp and subtle a point as Bagley needs to drive home the pitiful plight of the sweet animal who symbolizes a continent in flames.


Meanwhile, over on the épée mats:

Clay Jones delivers a thrust to Trump’s threat to attack Iran’s culture by questioning what Dear Leader even knows of the concept.

There is a sort of jujitsu in this humorous riposte, since Jones doesn’t have to lunge to deliver the insult but simply turns his opponent’s momentum against him: Trump himself has degraded the White House kitchen not just from the exquisite heights of Jackie Kennedy’s influence but even from the solid home-cooking that the Obamas enjoyed.

The thing speaks for itself.

Even people who like fast food, even people for whom fast food is a staple of their diet, understand that you don’t invite guests to travel hundreds of miles for dinner and then serve them lukewarm Quarter Pounders.


Now Ed Hall switches from foil to épée for this response to Trump’s ridiculous swipe at Pete Buttigieg’s Catholicism.

You’d have to be a steadfast homophobe to call this a case of the pot calling the kettle black, because, while Buttigieg is obviously in a marriage not sanctified by his church, there are plenty of cafeteria Catholics who violate specific teachings and yet adhere to the church itself. (UPDATE: Buttigieg is Episcopalian and his marriage is endorsed by his church. See comments.)

Meanwhile, the mystery of why Evangelicals overlook Trump’s grotesque departures from any Christian values remains a mystery, and not the kind you pray over with a rosary.

But it is the kind that, if it is your own, should keep you very, very quiet about anybody else’s religiosity, and aware that opening your mouth on the topic opens you up to scandalous attacks.


Juxtaposition of the Broadswords


(Brian Adcock)


(Martin Rowson)

One does not expect British cartoonists to wield foils, and while the broadsword’s wounds are grotesquely bloody, it does, after all, have its place in the armory.

Adcock’s depiction of world reaction to Trump’s warmongering, though far from subtle, is somewhat comforting, particularly as a view from abroad.

And Rowson echoes what has to be a common response to the utterly irrational situation where our own expensively-installed Iraqi democracy legally votes to have the Americans leave and Dear Leader pitches a fit of childish, bullying defiance.

I note, by the way, that each of them accuses Boris Johnson of standing by in the crisis, which does not seem to jibe with the statement quoted in yesterday’s posting, but it’s entirely possible that they were hoping for a stronger condemnation.

In any case, as said, it’s nice to know someone else has noticed how things here seem to be spinning out of control.

It may not prevent further mayhem, but at least we know we’re not crazy after all.

Well, some of us aren’t.


Juxtaposition of Graphics and Music

(Clay Bennett)


(Phil Ochs)

13 thoughts on “CSotD: Foiled again!

  1. A couple of years ago, I was in DC on business and had a day to just wander around and take in the sights. At one point, I was standing on Penn Avenue, watching a pick up street hockey game and a crowd of Asian tourists taking pictures of the White House, when all of a sudden the DC police come out and start putting up barricades and pushing everyone to the far side of the street.

    So now here’s this crowd of people waiting to see who’s dropping by. With all the drama, surely it had to be something important! So we waited and waited — and after about fifteen minutes, here comes this fast food delivery truck, one of those tiny little ones. The police wave it up into the circular drive, then stop it about thirty feet from the front door. Big show of inspecting it, then someone from the White House comes out, takes two paper bags and a drink tray, and goes back in.

    The driver then had to back out the driveway, since the police wouldnt let him go past the front door. Once he’d driven off, the police then came out, removed the barricades, and we were allowed on the street again.

  2. Pete Buttigieg is not a Roman Catholic, but an Episcopalian. Our church does sanctify marriages between consenting adults, even of the same sex. Other Christians may and do indeed call us “pretend,” but we believe otherwise.
    And love your blog. One of the first places I go each morning.

  3. “In Memoriam, Louis Anglesey, Earl of Upnor, finest swordsman in England, beaten to death with a stick by an Irishman.”

    ? Neal Stephenson, The Confusion

  4. Just the white folks, Mark — Anybody who wasn’t Polish was Italian. Knew two Hungarians. Not kidding. All my other townie friends were black — I think there were more white Protestants on campus than in town.

  5. The imam in the Hall cartoon is the long-dead Ayatollah Khomeini who was the first Iranian leader since the overthrow of the Shah. Precise likeness. I wonder why he didn’t draw the current Ayatollah or a generic one. Trumpy’s reference to the hostage crisis, possibly?

  6. If anyone ever speaks up to address a problem and improve the world, you can count on someone else quickly speaking up to deny deny deny deny.

    That’s how you know the problem is, indeed, genuine. There are no shills fighting to refute non-existent problems.

  7. Thanks for the clarification the Clay Jones cartoon provides. I had assumed Trump would be going after golf courses.

  8. We should also note that the “arson” arrests also include various police actions for things like dropping cigarette butts during a total fire ban.

    Certainly, there have been deliberately lit fires, as there have been during every fire season. The difference here is in what has happened after the fire has been lit – after all, the fire does not care whether it comes from human activity or lightning strikes or whatever. What matters are the conditions it meets in the bush, and absolutely climate change has been a factor there

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