CSotD: Truth, or something very like it

Kevin Siers marks a promising moment: President Trump declared that the Washington Post and CNN had misquoted CDC Director Robert Redfield and called up on him for backup.

And Redfield said they had quoted him accurately.

Apparently, there are people in the Trump circle who will choose the welfare of the public over loyalty to the president. Let’s hope more of them surface.

I was in a conversation in which I cited the Saturday Night Massacre as the moment I first thought Nixon might not get away with Watergate.

The comparison was with Mitch McConnell’s manipulation of the impeachment trial, in which he refused to allow witnesses to testify, and the difference was that this betrayal of public interest and the rule of law unfolded over a couple of weeks, while the Saturday Night Massacre happened overnight.

The Massacre featured resignations from people we knew and respected, who refused to assist the president in defying the Constitution and the rule of law.

Dr. Redfield’s refusal to play the game is, by comparison, small potatoes, but, then again, better small potatoes than none at all.

And better than Dr. Brix’s absurd explanation that Trump simply likes to think aloud, when it’s clear he doesn’t like to think at all.


Kevin Kallaugher illustrates that point with the probing of an empty chasm: It’s not that he thinks things through, weighs the factors and makes a decision to lie.

He doesn’t think at all.

And those loyal defenders of literalness who point out that he never actually said, “Hey, everybody! Drink bleach!” are correct.

Just as Henry II never said, “Hey, go kill Thomas Becket!”

There is, in law, what is called the “reasonable man” standard, lately amended to “reasonable person,” based on what a reasonable person would be expected to think, to know, to do, in a given situation.

It is obvious that Henry’s knights, hearing him say “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” would take it as a request, if not a command, to murder Becket.

Even Henry, though he denied intent, accepted the obvious result of his words and did penitence for them.

Trump’s absurd ramblings on the potential of internal use of disinfectants is harder to judge, because a “reasonable person” would instantly recognize the inherent idiocy of the proposition.

However, the “reasonable person” standard is often applied, not in a binary guilt-or-innocence decision but in calculating the level of liability, and, moreover, a physician assisting at the scene of an accident is held to a higher standard than a random volunteer with no medical training.

In that case, the “reasonable person” becomes the “reasonable physician.”

In this case, we are called upon to judge even an utter buffoon as the “reasonable president,” if that is the position he holds.


Clay Bennett illustrates the relevant point.

A reasonable president is in the same position as Henry II: He should know the extra weight his words carry and choose them appropriately.

A reasonable president would.

The current president does not.


Nor does he have to, because, as Joel Pett points out, the Senate Majority Leader is dedicated to the accumulation of trophies, and enabling Dear Leader is simply one of several such.

I don’t intend to go too far into the details of this, but, rather strongly recommend you either listen to the podcast or read the transcript of Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Jane Mayer, who wrote a New Yorker story, “Enabler-In-Chief,” in the April 20 issue.

Either will depress and infuriate you.

They will also convince you that, whatever Henry II or Donald Trump may have intended by their words, there is no shade of uncertainty over McConnell’s intentions.


Meanwhile, Steve Breen riffs on the taking of Congressional aid to small business by large companies through good-buddy-loopholes that would be reversed, if not prosecuted, in an honest nation.

As it is, when the Democrats held up the next round of assistance pending a guarantee that the new funds would not also be misdirected, the Republican response was to accuse them of refusing to help.


And of owning nice refrigerators, as opposed to dwelling in the modest bungalows Republican leaders occupy.


Even tony New Yorker readers can identify with the characters in this Emily Flake cartoon that ran in that publication’s pages.

It’s a reminder that, well before this pandemic hit, there was a survey being quoted that said most people didn’t have enough cash on hand to deal with a $400 emergency.

I took it with a grain of salt, since my experience as a single custodial parent taught me that, no matter how deep in debt you sink, there is always someone prepared to hand you a shovel, perhaps at 28% APR.

Still, whether you blame oppressive student loans or YOLO vacations to the Greek islands, there are a lot of people out there who were not financially prepared to hunker down for very long.

Asking how they got there is, at the moment, nowhere near as important as asking how they’re going to get out.


Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?

(I owe Roz Chast a dime every time I use that)

(Baby Blues)

(Heart of the City)

Dunno how this Juxtaposition came about, but it’s a good’un.

As a little guy, I only saw the daily comics once in awhile, but the Sunday funnies were a must, even when I was so young that I simply hit Peanuts and Miss Peach and then figured out the puns at Family Circus.

That was a long time ago, and the Sunday Funnies section today may be six small pages of postage-stamp sized comics. Or dropped entirely.

Editors and publishers quake when readers rebel, but, too often, readers complain to themselves instead of writing the letter that could make a difference.

The good news is that a lot of cartoonists are finding other ways to entertain and inspire young readers.

The bad news is that this weekend, in my job out in Denver, we announced to our young reporters that our program is ending.

The boss is retiring, and I’d have stayed long enough to help a new person, but I knew where things were headed and I’m no spring chicken myself.

Besides, I’ve still got this gig, and I enjoy it.

But I’ll always keep this man’s philosophy in mind:

And this song in my heart:

10 thoughts on “CSotD: Truth, or something very like it

  1. I got your small potatoes right here!


    The THINK sign was put there by Obama. Trump would have thrown it away three years ago, but it took him till now to read it.

    I bought a whole CD of English light orchestra music, just to get Puffin’ Billy, and found a bunch of old and new favorites on it, by composers I wouldn’t have given a first listen to otherwise.

  2. Sad to hear your Denver gig is ending. I am quite certain you made an immense difference in the lives and minds of the children you worked with while honing their critical minds and reporting/writing skills. You will be a part of them for the rest of their lives.

  3. Okay, Kip, no more teasing—what was the name of the CD? I bought some ridiculous e-music TV-themed collection from Amazon for the same reason and there was nothing on it I liked—other than Puffin’ Billy, which was everything I remembered and more. I would be grateful to find other similar stuff.

  4. Mike
    Sorry to hear of the Denver loss. Your kids will miss you , of course, but I think you also found this quite energizing, a mutually beneficial program. Then again, you’ll find new sources, or double down on this platform.

  5. It’s called “Elizabethan Serenade” (which is one of the cuts on it). From Naxos.

    Being a UK release, they identify “Puffin’ Billy” as the theme from a weekly radio show called “Children’s Favourites”–which was also the title, or subtitle, of a sheet music collection I found on a vacation. No mention of the good Captain.

    To our host: Mike, I hope Denver is gaining things I don’t know about. I keep hearing of losses, like when Gene Amole passed away, and hope that something good is happening along with them.

    (My computer, or browser, warns me every time I send a comment. DANGER! DANGER! Insecure connection! Maybe I’m standing too close.)

  6. Mike – sorry for the Denver program ending – you sent out a lot of ripples in that pond !

  7. Here in Boston, The Sunday Funnies (GLOBE and HERALD) are only FOUR. PAGES. LONG. Or basically one whole sheet of newsprint to wrap around the rest of the paper.

  8. Cool to see two Captain Kangaroo references in one weekend. He was an answer in Saturday’s NYT crossword puzzle: “Big-pocketed character in old TV show.”

  9. Thanks, Kip. I ordered it. But here is a flash for the thrifty … well, you can stream the whole CD for free on Amazon Prime Streaming Whatsis which apparently comes along with Prime.

    I have no idea how big the funnies are in the Star Turdbun since I quit reading it ten years ago. I really only subscribed for the comics because I kept reading articles and thinking “I think I read this in the NYT … a week ago.” I should get my grandkids each a Comics Kingdom subscription.

  10. I hope you like it as much as I have. The three tracks by Ketelbey were of interest to me as well–his corny takes on exotica and cozy home life are the best at what they are (I love the bird warbling in the monastery garden). Coates and Benjamin are ones I already knew and liked. As I say, though, the discoveries really made the album for me.

    Amazon Prime Music is also a streaming channel you can subscribe to (if you have Prime), and use the Roku TV for some tunes when you want to just wrap in audio.

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