CSotD: Monday Cleanup

Francis starts us off today with a bit of philosophy, as Brother Leo expounds on the difference between stupidity and simplicity.

The cartoon pope, who began at a time when the real one was starting his administration, has remained far less tied down with bureaucracy and precedence than the real one appears to be, but any disappointments in that respect are irrelevant if you simply accept the cartoon pope as an entity unto himself.

And Brother Leo has, from the start, played the Fool in the classic sense of embracing simplicity, which is both a gift and a trait to be practiced, but which starts with that gift.

I remember a cousin bringing a friend to the house with whom I got into a spirited discussion of whether Paul was canonical, and then found out he was a Trappist, which was a little intimidating but explained why he was so well-versed on the topic.

Some months later, however, I visited his monastery and met another monk who it turned out, when someone commented on something in the news, wasn’t sure what year it was.

I think most brothers — at least the ones in monasteries — are somewhere between those two extremes, which reminds me, too, of a Navajo elder who visited campus and asked us why we wanted to adopt his culture when there was so much unexplored depth within our own.

He was right.

For instance, in the old Latin mass, the Kyrie Eleison was in Greek rather than Latin because it was more of a mantra than a prayer. As with stupidity and simplicity, it can be hard to draw a line between the two.

Anyway, I don’t think you can decide to be a Fool, but I do think you can embrace and cultivate whatever foolishness you possess.

And you don’t have to take peyote or go live in Tibet to do it.

A real Fool can be a Fool anywhere.


I suppose I could have posted Francis and this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal as a Juxtaposition, but maybe the only real connection is a promising start with a disappointing reality.

When I first began exploring the Internet in the mid-90s, I quickly learned to avoid chatrooms, but found conversations with what he calls “nerds” to be exciting and interesting.

They weren’t all nerds in the technological sense, though I surely learned a lot from the ones who were.

But they were nerds in the sense that most of the people in the history group I followed knew astonishing things about history and the people in the family law group actually knew and understood the law.

Though we had a few “fathers’ rights” types in that latter Usenet group who presaged the current noise ratio, and we had a delightful dust-up when two other members — a feminist attorney and a well-informed layman — got together in real life, unbeknownst to the rest of us.

He was visiting her and posted under his name but from her computer and one of the more aggressive fathers’ rights types spotted the footers and declared them both sock puppets.

The irascible, volatile fellow flew into a rage, which in those days was fairly rare and therefore pretty amusing. Today he would just be one of dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of people flying into rages on the Internet over things he didn’t quite understand.

Sigh. I guess you had to be there.


Now here we are 25 years later and, as Morten Morland draws it, we’ve managed to elect one of those irascible, volatile, low-informational people to lead our nation, and it’s not nearly as amusing as it was when such folks were an occasional distraction in an otherwise intelligent conversation.


But the stench of aggressive paranoia is familiar, and Pat Bagley puts a little more direction in the pattern of deflection that Morland drew.

It’s something of a commonplace that we hate most in others what we fear most in ourselves, and there’s some of that in Dear Leader’s barrage of groundless accusations.

But the real question — and it’s purely philosophical, since the damage to the nation is there whatever the reasons and explanations might be — is how much of Trump’s temper tantrums and paranoid claims are simply his own delusional thinking and how much of it is part of a cunning plan?

This “Obamagate” business is so utterly ungrounded and unanchored and untethered that, in a rational world, it should have exploded in his face.

It seems that any opposition to him is a “hoax” and anyone who opposes him is breaking the law, which, of course, is delusional.

But if it is a cunning plan, it’s one that has worked before, and though people keep talking about “1984,” the Orwell work that best mirrors Trump is “Animal Farm,” in which blatantly irrational absurdities are fed to the animals as part of selling them out:

There have been questions raised as to why the media dutifully covers Trump’s irrational twitterfeed, and it’s interesting because there was a time when the President was rarely quoted except in formal speeches.

Even when reporters were invited to the White House for briefings, they were off the record.

Those days are gone, and whatever the president says is news, even if it makes no sense.

He can send out dozens of tweets in a morning which mirror what is being said at the same moment on “Fox and Friends,” and still be unchallenged when his loyal aides claim he comes down to the Oval Office early and works incessantly.

Both the tweets and the claims are “news” and must be covered and on one hand this but yet on the other hand that and who is to say what is truth?


As Clay Jones depicts it, we’ve now got the White Queen as news director, and sometimes she’s believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

Do the people at Fox truly believe these things, or are they in on some cunning plan?

As a famous philosopher once said, “at this point, what difference does it make?”


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Monday Cleanup

  1. Much as I like Clay Jones and find Jared Kushner to be as cluelessly ignorant as his father-in-law, Jones’s cartoon would have been better if he hadn’t relied on the TIME interview. It was the interviewer who proposed delaying the November election; Kushner gave a non-answer to the question.

    Granted, a presidential adviser with a freshman’s Poli Sci 101 level of constitutional law would have known to answer that the president couldn’t postpone a federal election even if Yellowstone Park had erupted on the first Monday in November. But there are so many other ways things to needle Jared-of-all-trades about.

  2. I’ll give Trump credit for one thing, he truly is a master of media manipulation. Fox was not the only one giving him wall-to-wall coverage in 2016, CNN and MSNBC were also incessantly promoting him, whether they realized it or not. Trump sucks the oxygen out of the room, and dominates the airwaves, even today. Some in the press have begun to question their non-stop coversge of every stupid, crazy thing Trump says, especially during the coronavirus “MAGA rallies” from the White House, but it may be too little, too late. The only positive aspect of Trump monopolizing the media is that lately he hasn’t been doing himself any favors. Sooner or later, the TV news will have to start covering Joe Biden. I hope they can resist the urge to let Trump drown him out, and I hope Biden’s ready for it.

  3. Trump, or at least his campaigners, already are trying to drown out Biden. In the last few weeks, at least 5 anti-Biden mailers have shown up (nothing from the Biden camp and no pro-Trump fabrications), even though my household consists of two Democrats and two Independents (or maybe “because”?). They, like all other unsolicited mail, immediately find their way to the recycle basket.

  4. Speaking of Trump propaganda going in the recycle bin, I just got a letter from the Dear Leader telling me about the stimulus check that I got. He assumes (incorrectly) that I will somehow give him the credit, except that I know if it wasn’t for Congressional Democrats, I wouldn’t have gotten it. So, thanks Chuck, Nancy, and all!

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