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CSotD: Irrationalizing

Tom Tomorrow scores in a time when it’s hard to make more than one valid argument, never mind popping off nine of them.

Most of the multi-panel commentators at the moment seem to start well and then either fade to pointlessness or wander off into delusional conspiracy theories. Granted, there are prolific one-panel cartoonists who drop four separate cartoons in the time it takes a multipanel worker to do one entry, but nine is still a prodigious achievement.

 

These are astonishing times, as Mike Peters suggests.

The National Prayer Breakfast is usually a bland occasion for those who pray on street corners that all may see them pray to reap their lukewarm rewards

I think this year’s was the first time that someone got up and flatly, frankly declared that Jesus was wrong.

As Michael Gerson noted in the Washington Post,

It was a strange moment in U.S. religious history. The command to love your enemies, of course, came from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount. “Love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to them that hate you.” It might be expected for a president to express how difficult obeying such a mandate can be. Trump decided to dispute the command itself. And some in the crowd laughed.

I’m less concerned with Trump’s sacrilege, because he’s obviously not a believer and, just as obviously, has never read any part of the Bible, having grown up with visits to the vulgarian temple of Norman Vincent Peale, where the “gospel of prosperity” was preached, such that what religious values Trump does know are in contradiction to the teachings of Christ.

But, yes, some in the crowd laughed and all in the Republican Senate have gone along with his program of dishonesty and division.

 

Even Gary Varvel, a conservative who often calls upon Christian values to back up his social stances, echoes Trump’s declaration that religious convictions cannot lead an honest person to oppose Dear Leader’s policies.

“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Trump declares, adding that he is positioned not simply to judge people’s religious values but to read their minds and condemn their souls. “Nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you’ when they know that’s not so.”

Thus Romney, for having put his oath before the Lord above his earthly loyalty to party, becomes like a man who gave his whole leg in service to his country, in contrast to a man who — perhaps falsely — claimed heel spurs to avoid the military entirely.

But who clearly and openly denied Christ’s most central teaching:

Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.  — Matthew 22: 33-40

And, yes, the Lord defined “neighbor” as well.

But, after all, pressed by the authorities, Peter denied knowing him.

It happens.

 

Still, as John Cole reminds us, the Republicans in general and Susan Collins specifically have declared that Trump, having been acquitted, will henceforth behave with the dignity and charity demanded of his position.

 

As soon, Jimmy Margulies adds, as he has ridden the country of traitors, the scary part being that this may indeed have been the business he was elected to perform.

After all, the people who screamed venom at children integrating schools, who threatened those who promoted busing in South Boston, who shouted profanity at those who demonstrated against the Vietnam War, did not disappear but were simply persuaded that their toxic viewpoints were not shared by decent people.

 

Until the Fairness Doctrine was abandoned and our latest recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom was let loose to encourage them out from the gutters, a lifelong devotion to promoting and popularizing hatred, bigotry and division that, as Steve Sack notes, has now been praised and hallowed before the entire nation.

 

And, Ann Telnaes points out, now that the Senate has declared Dear Leader above the law and outside the reach of the Constitution’s archaic “balance of powers,” he has been freed to clean out the traitors and do whatever it takes to Make America Great Again.

 

 

Bill Kristol points out that it is perfectly within the President’s rights to surround himself with people he likes and trusts, but that frog-marching an innocent man out of the White House like a criminal is, indeed, more typical of a purge than a simple change in staffing.

 

Adam Zyglis is perfectly correct: Trump — who keeps denouncing clauses of the Constitution as “hoaxes” — is installing a cult of personality in its place, and if you are so young that you think “cult of personality” is simply a song by Living Colour, you should know that it has a storied and frightening history of its own, arising

when a country’s regime – or, more rarely, an individual – uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise.

The term was coined by Khruschev as he sought to overturn the murderous legacy of Joseph Stalin and it has not become any more flattering since.

 

While all that is going on, Nick Anderson points out that the attention of the nation is being drawn away from Trump’s assault on the Constitution by the relatively insignificant failure of a computer program in the caucusing of a small Midwestern state, which is being blown up into a divisive, paranoid conspiracy theory.

The nation’s cartoonists and commentators — including many on record as opposing Trump — are having a jolly pile-on over the issue well out of proportion to its importance.

Fiddling, you might say, while the Reichstag burns.

 

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