CSotD: The Cloud of Knowing

I’m leading off today with this Ann Telnaes piece for two reasons.

One is that I like it and that she’s right: The president’s claims that he didn’t know have been further undermined by facts, specifically a revelation that he ignores his Presidential Daily Briefings.

The PDBs warned of the virus and tracked its spread for months …

But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.

My guess is that some of the people who admit, off the record, that he slouches down to the office around lunchtime and then goes golfing are the same who — on the record and with their jobs at stake — declare him the hardest working president in the history of America.

Though their notion of hard work may be subjective: There were multiple reports during the Obama/Trump crossover that Obama’s people prepared detailed “users manuals” for their replacements, but that those replacements didn’t show up for the meetings, much less touch the notebooks.

Including on this topic.

I doubt you’d get many of those slackers to say that on the record, either, which brings us to my second reason for starting off with Telnaes.

She’s currently out in California teaching a course at her alma mater, and this write-up is good reading, but my favorite part is this quote from one of her students:

Ann has assigned us to watch/read the news for 30 minutes a day and to make sure we ‘second source’ and fact check our findings to make sure they are true.

This should not surprise anybody.

It’s on a level with an instructor of electrical workers telling students to make sure the power is off before they start playing with the wires, or a teacher of auto mechanics reminding them to block the wheels before they jack up a car and crawl underneath it.

However, we live in a world where people earn effusive praise for doing the bare minimum.

We have cartoonists who are so eager to score a political point that, like the rookie who crosses wires or climbs under an un-blocked car, they’ll draw their cartoon, publish it and proudly show it off despite having gotten their information from — take your pick, Rush Limbaugh or Michael Moore — and not bothered to check it out.

Look, I expect spin. That’s what makes editorial cartoons fun.

But we have a right to not expect lies, and a false statement you pass along without checking is as much a lie as if you’d made it up yourself.

Competent journalistic ethics apply to political cartoonists just as they do to political columnists and political broadcasters.

You can’t complain about those “Cartoons! They’re not just for kids!” headlines if you somehow believe that you shouldn’t be held to adult standards in producing those cartoons.


We all saw the pictures of Mike Pence visiting the Mayo Clinic without a mask, so that’s a fact. Mike Luckovich is one of the first out of the gate with his commentary, but there will be more.

Pence said he wanted to be able to look people in the eye, which makes me want to see him wearing a mask the way he thinks they’re intended to be worn. And the Mayo Clinic tweeted that they’d told him of the policy requiring masks, but then apparently deleted the tweet.

So it’s fair game to show that he did something irresponsible, thoughtless, dangerous and stupid, but you’d need a second source before you commented on why.


Jack Ohman, however, stays safely in the land of opinion, not claiming any particular facts beyond Trump’s falling poll numbers, and then speculating on how they might impact Congressional races.

That’s what I mean by “spin” and that’s the kind of commentary I’d prefer as we lead up to November.


We’ve all gone to the dogs

Watson is far more apt to offer a sweet smile than sharp commentary, but the strip managed to get out in front of a complaint I’ve been hearing about.

Let me stray from that particular issue to a more general conversation:

Greg Kearney notes that folks in the city make the rules for everyone, including those of us out in the boondocks.

I’d also like to see a little more emphasis on population density, because, if I lived in the city, I’d be paranoid, too, but I don’t and I’m not.

The tie-in to Watson is that most of us out here are walking our dogs about as much as ever and picking up poop as reliably as before.

Even back when I was working 9-to-5, I’d come home for lunch and take care of my dogs.

My guess is that, if city dwellers had been having dog walkers drop by and are now doing it themselves, there’s bound to be a fall-off in professional standards.


Canine Juxtaposition of the Day


(The Other Coast)

Here is a pair of cartoons where I’ve researched and found a dozen or so sources over the years, and, while I’ve heard of fussy dogs, I have not had one under my roof.

I’ve also raised a couple of kids and it’s much the same: If you keep offering them unnecessary choices, you’re inviting opposition.


Gary Larson covered this a long time ago.

Aside from the coincidental placement, what made me really laugh over this Juxtaposition is that I screwed up yesterday and used the wrong kind of rice in chicken-and-rice soup, ending up with a large pasty pan of glop.

Inedibly glutinous for me, but I discovered that a cup of the thick stuff in the dog’s bowl made an effective hiding place for three (3!) pills, gone in an instant.


Comics trivia: As a friend of the late Jerry Bittle, I didn’t choose Jimmie Driftwood’s version of the song at random.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: The Cloud of Knowing

  1. Ohman’s cartoon is his take on a recent memo from the National Republican Senatorial Committee advising campaigning Senators “Don’t defend Trump…attack China.” Trump got mad, the committee backtracked and explained what the memo “really” meant.

    The readily apparent interpretation is that Trump’s policy is indefensible and candidates should distance themselves from it and him, but I can honestly see the committee’s excuse that it was a strategic suggestion–basically that playing offense is better than defense.


    It’s all terrible either way.

  2. “When asked about Trump’s response to the pandemic, the document advised candidates to pivot to an attack on the authoritarian country rather than offer an explicit defense of Trump’s response.”

    Seems kind of unpatriotic.

    Or did he mean China?

  3. Luckovich’s cartoon leaves it up to the viewer as to whether Pence is wearing a dunce cap – or a KKK hood. Or both.

  4. Even an open-faced Klan hood would have a cloth in the back, like a kepi. He’s a dunce. Not Luckovich. That other guy.

  5. I actually bought a New Christy Minstrels CD for the “Gotta Quit Kickin’ My Dog Around” cut. In my defense, it was 50 cents, and had just about everything else I ever heard of theirs on it as well, so I only overspent by 30 cents. My favorite version of the song is Byron G. Harlan and the Ameican Quartet, which is a complete narrative, almost as involved as an Uncle Josh story, but without the wheezing self-laughter. It’s probably about 100 years old by now, and sounds like it.

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