CSotD: Bluster and Broadswords

I’ve held this Mike Thompson piece longer than I like to, but I’m going to use it now because it illustrates, perhaps by what it isn’t, a factor in much of what’s going on.

Which is to say that I like it because of its depiction of AOC’s cheerful, stress-free, total obliteration of a bullying caveman, though a steamroller isn’t the metaphor I’d have chosen.

There is, rather, in swashbucklers, a plot in which the villain is a big, strong man with a broadsword who uses it to crush everything in his path and to destroy anyone who dares oppose him.

Until he comes upon our hero, a mere stripling with a light, puny rapier, whom he laughs at and assumes he can overpower by virtue of his greater weight and the power of his mighty broadsword.

Until there is a pin prick here and a pin prick there and then a tiny hole, a trickle of blood, and the mighty giant falls dead at the hands of a better, faster, deadlier opponent.

Hence the term “rapier wit,” and that Wikipedia entry notes that “In Spain, rapier fencing came to be known under the term of destreza (“dexterity”)

Hence also the term “riposte,” and Merriam-Webster explains further:

All of which adds up to the fact that AOC’s riposte to Yoho’s insult and to his clumsy, pro forma non-apology-apology was less a steamroller than a clever, dexterous, deadly undoing of a blowhard that did not simply answer his insult but should have sent a chill down the spines of his bullying kind.

Thompson captured the insouciant smile of a new type of fencer.

After which Bill Barr tried to use his mighty broadsword to bluff and bullshit his way past Pramila Jayapal.


Meanwhile, one of the GOP’s blustering interrogators — from both the Barr hearing and the hearing on the Lafayette Square attacks the same day — has tested positive for Covid-19.

It might be a time for liberals to exhibit some class by offering sympathy in place of schadenfreude, except that, as Nick Anderson notes, Gohmert blamed the infection on the few times he’d worn a mask.

As Anderson demonstrates, you don’t have to be a master swordsman to poke holes in that ridiculous theory, but the foolishness takes a darker turn when you hear that Gohmert not only failed to wear a mask himself most of the time, but is among Republican lawmakers who forbade his staff to wear them.

I would like to see a list of legislators who put such a demand on their staff, alongside the list of those who back a GOP proposal to exempt employers from liability claims by employees who contract the virus.


As Matt Davies might put it — riffing on a report of sharks off the coast of Long Island — you can’t bully and bullshit your way past science.

Nor is this attempt isolated: Besides those who want the revenue and public favor of opening beaches before it’s safe, we’ve got great big broadsword-swinging experts who cancelled the GOP Convention because it’s not safe but insist that your children need to be in their classrooms.


Only in America, Tom the Dancing Bug points out with a neat sci-fi parable, and the frightening part of this is how much he had to invent to set up the premise but how little he had to imagine to create that final panel.


And Chris Britt proves that the comics, they write themselves, with this piece addressing poor Donald not being able to figure out why Dr. Fauci seems more popular than he does.

I worked for a fellow much like Trump, a bombastic bully who made his bones by bluster rather than knowledge and who cared more about preening and polishing his image than about figuring out how to accomplish things. I lasted less than a year and was only fired because I had a family to support and couldn’t quit first.

But I met the type again a few years later when I was covering real estate development. Residential real estate is tightly regulated because consumers need that protection …



… but commercial real estate is the Wild West and, no, there ain’t no rules …


… which, as David Rowe illustrates, makes it perfect for broadsword bullies, who only think they can bullshit science but who definitely can settle deals on private golf courses from which women and minorities are barred, and who can repeatedly go bankrupt and yet find yet another source of funding by pretending to have found a better treasure map than the last one.

In fact, the Master Developer has just rolled out an appeal to “suburban housewives” and their fear that Lorraine Hansbury’s whole damn cast of characters is gonna move in next door.

When I was in real estate, brokers fumed over the feds sending a white couple in to look at houses, and then sending a black couple in with the same credentials, and filing charges if they weren’t treated the same.

They didn’t seem to grasp that the solution was to treat the black customers the same way you treat the white customers.

And to be grateful that you could simply bullshit your way through it by signing a consent decree that required you to become a little more subtle.

Perhaps, for instance, by wielding your broadsword against equal opportunity regulations.


Finally, this

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Drew Sheneman)

(Elena Steier)

Even assuming parents with no unemployment or rental aid can find a way to keep their kids on safer distance learning, the Digital Divide undermines the idea of equal educations.

Two thoughts:

One is that some African nations use phones rather than Internet to supply teachers in remote areas with lesson plans and materials. This might be adapted to individual student use.

The other is that the smartest person I’ve ever met, Olympia Snowe, said we need to extend high-speed access in the same way, and for the same reasons, that we pursued rural electrification in the ’30s.

I doubt we can do either by Labor Day.

But we’ve got to do something.



3 thoughts on “CSotD: Bluster and Broadswords

  1. Years ago – I was in post-grad – one my English profs regaled us with this story. She (a black woman) had called a realtor,, as her family was looking for a home – commensurate with their earnings- in a -er- white suburb. The realtor (unable to see her over the phone) – said “Oh Mrs. S – you don’t want a house there. The jungle bunnies are moving in.”

    “Oh dear,” said my English prof.”We had no idea there was a rodent problem !” and she hung up.

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