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CSotD: Removing All Doubt

Strip cartoonists have been at some pains to remind us that they work several weeks in advance and we shouldn’t take offense if, in the current crisis, a comic strip seems in dubious taste.

However, there’s also the random chance that a strip will inadvertently provoke more thought than intended, and today’s Buckets coincides nicely with my growing fury over the growth of prideful ignorance.

It’s bad enough that we have a coronavirus pandemic, but we’re also facing an outbreak of Will Rogers Syndrome, a disease of the brain that makes people feel, like the father in this comic strip, that being ignorant makes them smarter than anyone else.

Dammit, people, there’s a time and place for stupidity.

 

A friend confessed on Facebook, as evidence of what all this quarantining was doing to her, that she’d caught herself watching Hee Haw.

But here’s the thing: Hee Haw was intentional stupidity, with really good music. Buck Owens was a pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound as a blend of bluegrass, hillbilly rock and the Beatles, while Roy Clark was a virtuoso on the guitar.

And if you can’t see the intentional self-mockery in “I’ve got the hungries for your love, and I’m waiting in your welfare line,” or “There’s a tear in my beer, ’cause I’m cryin’ for you, dear,” Buck Owens and Hank Williams aren’t the ones who are stoopid.

Thing is, nobody ever watched Hee Haw thinking it was anything more than enjoyable piffle, which is more than can be said for the fans of Downton Abbey.

(Mind you, I’m still on permanent probation in the family for having referred to “I, Claudius” as “Upstairs Downstairs in bedsheets.”)

 

None of which would be of any particular weight if it weren’t seeping over into the political sphere.

Christopher Weyant offers this picture of a woman who backed Warren and then Sanders and now, along with her husband, fears that the war has been lost.

Nobody has yet to my satisfaction explained why candidates who attracted fewer votes in their own party had a better chance of winning in the general election than someone who attracted lots of votes.

Here’s how this Will Rogers thing is supposed to work: “I may not be a political genius, but I do believe getting the most votes is one of the goals in an election.”

Maybe I’m wrong. Lord knows, I’ve watched “electibility” attacked for months.

 

Pardon my sports analogy.

Being electable doesn’t need to involve selling out, any more than being honest has to mean getting up in people’s faces.

Right now, winning the next election matters, and that’s true whether you’re an opponent of Trump or a fan.

Four more years will seal the GOP lock on the nation, starting with the completion of packing the Supreme Court.

So, if you want a right-wing revolution, it’s in your lap.

If you want a progressive revolution, your choices are 2024 or never, and, if you screw up 2020, you’ve chosen “never.”

 

Fortunately for the future of the Republic, there’s plenty of stupidity to go around, as Bruce Plante notes.

He’s not the only liberal cartoonist to point out that right wingers don’t understand “socialism.”

More to the point, there are plenty of right wing cartoonists also making it clear that right wingers don’t understand socialism, which they cannot distinguish from communism, perhaps because they accept it as a buzzword without bothering to find out what it means.

Granted, they’d like to stop paying for public education, they’d be happy to stop feeding poor children, they have no interest in health care for the poor.

But, as Plante and others have noted, they’re not going to turn down that stimulus check, and, as has long been pointed out, they’re all in favor of the fire department when it’s their own house that’s burning.

Funny thing is that they attack “socialists” for wanting everything for free, but they want good roads and no taxes.

They also attack lefties for raising taxes to pay for that “free” stuff.

Like I said, there’s enough stupidity to go around.

 

 

At the moment, the difference is that stupidity on the left threatens to lock in the fascist revolution, while the stupidity on the right might kill us all anyway.

Steve Brodner has done a nice roundup over at the Columbia Journalism Review of the false statements made about the coronavirus, and whether they are the result of stupidity or are blatant lies seems irrelevant.

That’s Geraldo above. I’m so old I can remember when Geraldo was one of the good guys. And when we thought Woody Harrelson was only pretending to be a dumbass.

 

Jen Sorensen does a nice job of starting with a solid accusation and then justifying its harshness.

Granted, she might have drawn a more non-partisan paranoid militant, since sanity is being gnawed away from both sides, but she’s not wrong in what she’s got there.

Mostly, that doctor in the first panel sums it all up and Sorensen takes it from there.

 

Meanwhile

Gretchen Koch points out where sentiment and practicality are clashing.

I’m not denying that it takes some courage to stay in a job in fast food or groceries, where you come in contact with one random person after another throughout your shift.

But it often takes a measure of heroism to survive, whether it’s facing the coronavirus through a plastic shield at a drive-thru or spending 12 or more hours a day bent double harvesting lettuce while keeping an eye out for la migra over your shoulder or going down into a coal mine where safety takes a back seat to profits.

And here’s a hopeful note: Before the virus and despite Trump, there were several states already starting to raise their minimum wages and move towards better conditions for those at the bottom of the ladder.

It wouldn’t take a revolution to continue that trend. A moderate victory would do.

But at this point, prideful stupidity from either side of the spectrum could bring it to a complete and final end.

 

Community Comments

#1 Paul Berge
April/11/2020
@ 6:43 am

We now know that “I, Claudius” was really “Game of Thrones” in bedsheets.

#2 Ignatz
April/11/2020
@ 7:25 am

Apparently, some people believe that General Election voters are further left than Democratic Primary voters. They aren’t. Bernie would have been slaughtered. He calls himself a “socialist” (and don’t tell me that people like the policies, the label is poison), and he’s unlikable. The more people see of him, the less support he gets.

#3 Sean Martin
April/11/2020
@ 7:55 am

@ Paul: And Game of Thrones is just Dynasty with a lot of cool fur costumes.

#4 Kip Williams
April/11/2020
@ 10:45 am

I, Claudius was Suetonius in British accents. The thing that makes reading (or watching, or listening to) it so gripping for me is that just about every incident in the book is sourced. There’s some pushback now about whether the sources were completely accurate, but apart from Graves’s interpretation of Claudius’s inner life, the bedrock of the story is documented reality.

Disclaimer: I don’t know either of the stories it’s being compared to. Not from proud, wilfull ignorance, but because of Life: The Shortness thereof.

Not to mention HBO: The expense thereof.

#5 Mike Peterson
April/11/2020
@ 11:45 am

There’s always been pushback on Suetonius — he was highly entertaining but basically a gossip, as opposed to Plutarch who simply wasn’t a historian in the modern sense and is also to be taken, as they say, not literally but seriously.

Then run it through the writers’ room at the BBC and it’s like a mix-tape that has been copied from a copy of a copy, at which point you have to ask if Derek Jacobi (a fine actor) is playing Claudius or if he’s playing Burton playing Marc Antony.

And don’t get me started on “The Lion in Winter,” in which Hepburn and O’Toole play the parts of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine as if, rather than living in the 12th century, they had been characters in a New Yorker cartoon.

I’m afraid it all pings my inner Holden Caulfield.

#6 Sean Martin
April/11/2020
@ 1:31 pm

Sorry, but I love LION IN WINTER. It’s full of anachronisms, and yes, it plays out like a medieval Woody Allen play, but Hepburn and O’Toole are having so much damn fun that it’s pretty much irresistible. No one said it was pur-laine historical per se; it was never intended to be, just James Goldman doing a riff on a bit of history, much like ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDERSTERN ARE DEAD isnt really Hamlet but Stoppard after a few pints at the local pub. :-) Or better, his TRAVESTIES, in which he takes three historical figures who just happened to live on the same street at the same time in 1917.

Were LION IN WINTER more authentic, it’d come across as shockingly boring when it wasnt shockingly violent. :-)

#7 Mike Peterson
April/11/2020
@ 2:04 pm

The idea of a “Medieval Woody Allen Play” is attractive, and not just because of the age of marriage in those days. If they had simply set the thing in Ruritania and not populated it with historic figures, I’d have liked it a great deal more.

#8 Paul Berge
April/11/2020
@ 2:30 pm

I love “Lion in Winter,” too. But then, I also like the Ian McKellen version of “Richard III” that sets the Shakespeare play in a fascist version of Britain in WWII.

And, for that matter, the recent “Charles III.”

Anything makes history (and Shakespeare) relatable for the people who wouldn’t dare crack open a David Hume tome can’t be all bad. Just don’t base your History Ph.D. treatise on it.

#9 Denny Lien
April/11/2020
@ 2:56 pm

I’m enough of a Shakespeare purist to dislike a lot of modern adaptations, but some of them work. The best JULIUS CAESAR I ever saw was at the Guthrie Theatre in the mid-sixties. It was set in a modern(-ish) banana republic, with Julius as a tinpot dictator, Brutus as an upright military officer, Cassius as a Che Guevera type, and Anthony as a louche playboy.

This also had the great advantage of not requiring audience members to try to recognize and remember who was who with all the main characters clean-shaven and wearing interchangable togas.

#10 Mitch Marks
April/11/2020
@ 5:29 pm

It was super fun when a theater group here did a season that included productions of both “Hamlet” and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”. Because they had consistent casting, they were able to do a big finale for the last couple nights of the season, a performance of the two plays merged. It worked really well!

#11 Ignatz
April/12/2020
@ 5:28 am

I dislike most modern adaptations, I saw an wonderful Richard III by a company called Moonwork where part was live, and part was on a giant screen. Richard was a modern politician and would sometimes be on the TV. They also turned those scenes (common in Shakespeare) where ordinary folks are talking about what the king was doing into a newscast with man-on-the-street interviews. They didn’t change a word of the text, and the whole thing worked, and was incredibly amusing.

#12 Kyra Pedius
April/12/2020
@ 10:03 am

It appears to me that this was a conspiracy in the responses. Somehow they went off on a tangent about movies and missed the MEAT of the article. I think it was a conspiracy because the responses prove the authors point. We like our ignorance!

#13 Bob Rawson
April/14/2020
@ 8:49 pm

Juxtaposition of the quarantine: While your friend was watching “Hee Haw,” my wife and I were finally getting around to watching the Ken Burns country music documentary. In Episode 6, I learned that the musician who played the hypnotic acoustic guitar on “Desolation Row” was Charlie McCoy, a multitalented Nasville session musician who went on to become the longtime musical director of “Hee Haw.” That’s enough to convince me that it wasn’t just entertaining piffle.

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