CSotD: Fundamental Disagreement

Ann Telnaes puts into graphic form something that’s been running around my mind, and one of the best things about political cartooning is how its boiling of complexity into a seemingly simple image can focus things.

Trump has demanded two justices of the Supreme Court recuse themselves from any cases involving his administration because Sotomayor expressed the opinion that politics is creeping into the Court, and Ginsburg … I dunno, refuses to die or something.

Meanwhile — his dull inability to understand “division of powers” and “checks and balances” aside — he’s perfectly fine with Justice Thomas’s wife being a major conservative activist lobbying for suppression of dissent, and Kavanaugh being … I dunno, a compliant frat-boy.

And lest we forget, Trump also complained about an American-born judge because he was of Mexican ancestry, which once boggled the mind but seems to fit the pattern we’ve seen over the past three years.

It’s not simply racism and it’s not simply stupidity, though it’s some of each.

Mainly, it’s a form of fundamentalism, no different than believing that the universe was made in six days about 5,000 years ago, only applied to politics rather than religion.

And equally impervious to reason.

As Swift observed, “Reasoning will never make a Man correct an ill Opinion, which by Reasoning he never acquired.”

And plenty of people have more recently observed that you can’t argue with Deplorables because they are like cult members.

But whether a cult revolves around Jim Jones or Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh or Joseph Stalin or Donald Trump, its power is that it is not just something people only believe for an hour on Sunday.

It dominates and directs their entire lives, such that they adopt the attitude in Matthew 12

He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

But definitely not what the same fellow said in Luke 9,

“Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow with us.”
But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him, for he who is not against us is on our side.”

It is pointless to argue with someone who sees the Bible as a literal book of facts and rules rather than a mashup of history and folklore.

Disagreeing with them could get you burnt at the stake once, and arguing politics with True Believers is no different.

Anyway, I don’t think you can dismiss it as a “cult” if it’s commanding a majority.

Back at the dawn of time, O Best Beloved, Nixon’s nomination of G. Harold Carswell to the Supreme Court was criticized on the basis that Carswell was mediocre, to which Roman Hruska (R-Neb) famously responded

Even if he were mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they? We can’t have all Brandeises and Frankfurters and Cardozos.

By that reasoning, our presidents can’t all be Lincolns and Washingtons and FDRs, either.

Carswell failed, but times have changed, and, if you feel that mediocrity is currently getting more representation than it deserves, the answer will come not from arguing with cult members now but from getting out the vote in November.

Which brings us to this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Joel Pett)

(RJ Matson)

Bernie’s odds of landing the nomination are a fascinating topic, because the purveyors of horserace coverage have already declared him the winner while a whole lot of cartoonists on both sides of the aisle are announcing how much the Democrats wish it weren’t true.

With the New Hampshire Primary in the rearview mirror, I’m just a spectator at this point, but I find both these cartoons align with my own feelings that if that’s how it comes out, we’ll deal.

As Pett suggests, the values aren’t out of line, even if the language might be, and, as Matson says, well, whatever. Deal with it.

It would be good if people would pay a little less attention to the rantings on Facebook, Twitter and suchlike.

As noted here yesterday, social media is not simply dominated by people seeing only their third or fourth presidential election but by a subgroup within that demographic, such that, as Yeats put it

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.

Meanwhile, those of us who remember George McGovern have to expect to hear a dismissive “OK Boomer” rather than an invitation to speak at the next Teach-In.

Whatever. I’ve already voted in my primary.


Joy of Tech points out how Facebook seems to pick and choose what forms of misinformation it can control and what it cannot. Or will not.

I don’t believe in conspiracies, but I’m well aware of greed and how it can lead to a level of blind self-deception as toxic as if the resulting actions were done on purpose.

I mean, Andrew Carnegie built a lot of libraries, but he also convinced himself somehow that shooting down strikers was simply good business.


And, for that matter, the purveyors of horse-race coverage don’t think they’re doing anything wrong, even though Jeff Stahler is hardly the only person asking for coverage of things he cares about and that might effect his own life.


Nor — Prickly City notwithstanding — is it just the blow-dry brigade on TV: You can read all sorts of debate coverage in print and find out who “won” and who “lost” but very little of what anyone said about actual policy proposals.

They might as well be on “Dancing with the Stars” for all that any substance is being covered.


Brother Leo reminds me of a time I was at the Benedictine Monastery at Snowmass, talking to one of the brothers, and he said, “Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s 1974,” to which I said, “1976.”

“Oh, is it?” he answered, and went on, unconcerned.

He wasn’t, admittedly, typical of the brothers, but I wouldn’t mind sharing such peace for at least a little while.


Oh, wait … I did.


3 thoughts on “CSotD: Fundamental Disagreement

  1. They were an odd group, even at the time. Though, at the time, that was a good thing and, damn, they had some good music.

    They toured with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee at some point, who apparently enjoyed their music but were puzzled about every other aspect. Including the name which they associated with, well, with what it likely was based on.

    To be honest, they looked pretty much like everyone I was hanging out with in those days.

    Good times.

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