CSotD: Issues of judgment

With so many comics about Thanksgiving leftovers, it seems okay to feature a Thanksgiving leftover from the editorial page, with praise for Signe Wilkinson (Phil Daily News) for acknowledging that (as noted here previously) the Pilgrims were, indeed, “known superspreaders” by the time of that feast.

In her commentary on the cartoon, she writes, “As we celebrate Thanksgiving, it does us well to remember that the Native people the Pilgrims first encountered had already been decimated by disease,” and while I would question the ultimate toll of 90% she cites, that would be something for us to hash out over a beer. It’s just good to see real history blended into the cartoon.

I’ve written about New York’s history before the 18th century and discovered a fascinating difference in relations between natives and Europeans east and west of the Hudson.

West of the river, the Dutch were in first and established excellent, respectful relations with the Iroquois as well as good relations with the Mahican, who were primarily east of the river (Riverbank control being a matter of conflict with the Mohawk.)

When the English took over New Amsterdam, they left established Dutch traders to deal with the Iroquois, but, even so, they were impatient with the length of time a typical trade negotiation took, and mistook traditional gifts for bribes, upping their offers to move things along, which increased the cost of trade significantly.

And their more aggressive move to manipulate the relationship eventually explains how William Johnson had such luck getting at least some of the Iroquois attached to English interests, which, when the Revolution came, was disastrous to them.

But the English — the Puritans, not the Pilgrims — were on their own east of the Hudson and the fact that they were not bureaucrats like the Yorkers but religious purists (consider how they treated Roger Williams and Anne Hutchinson) translated to genuine intolerance and active hostility towards the natives, which was understandably reciprocated.

Which is a very long way of saying that, if we’re going to reform the teaching of history, it would be good to not simply lump everything into “white folks” and “Indians,” because diversity, of peoples and of encounters, is a vital part of the story.


Speaking of religious zealotry

(Ann Telnaes – WashPost)


(Clay Jones – Ind)

The late night Supreme Court ruling that held off enforcement of Cuomo’s anti-Covid restrictions in New York City is a lot to unpack, starting with the fact that they may have to rule again once the lower courts have finished analyzing the rules, which are not active at the moment but could conceivably be later on.

Both Telnaes and Jones seem correct that religious beliefs superseded science and logic, and whatever that means in a case where the facts no longer apply to anything on the ground, it definitely suggests troubling times ahead.

Disclosure: My stepdaughter, an Episcopal priest, has been leading her parish in Zoom worship since the pandemic began, as has the Pope, the spiritual leader of the Catholic litigants in this case.

They’ve both called for common sense in a hazardous time, saying that it’s possible to live, and to worship, from a safe distance, as Francis wrote:

But conservative Roman Catholics, who condemn those who use birth control as “cafeteria Catholics,” have no compunction over picking and choosing whatever parts of papal teaching they will accept.

That would be their problem if so many of their rightwing brethren weren’t in positions of governmental power. RC’s make up 23% of the US population but 67% of the Supreme Court, which wouldn’t matter if they would put their catechisms in their back pockets rather than leaving them open on their desks.

Further disclosure: I didn’t feel compelled to call myself a “recovering Catholic” back when Andrew Cuomo’s old man was at the wheel.

As that writer notes, in his famous Notre Dame speech, Mario Cuomo explained the difference between his personal pro-life beliefs and his duty as a political figure:

(T)he government’s job is not to impose religion on the non-believers but “to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones—sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect people’s right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion.”

Conservative Catholics have never embraced that definition of freedom, and Notre Dame doesn’t often invite such people to speak there anymore.


It’s important to remember that Senate hardliners saddled us with both Kavanaugh and Barrett, a large part of why, as Kal Kallaugher (Counterpoint) explains, they are joyfully rewriting the terms of our allegiance.

While too many of us are willing to go along with the changes.

Including today’s final deception:

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Pat Bagley – SLTrib)


(Jack Ohman – WPWG)

Bagley makes the main point, which is that stock market prices have no real-world basis.

Journalists sort through the news and the DJ average like Roman priests searching for omens in the entrails of sacrificed animals, then boldly report that the market moved because of such-and-such an event.

Thus Trump can declare that the bump up to 30,000 is because of his magnificent leadership, while other sources can say it’s because he’s finally leaving.

As the Rock Man told Oblio, “you see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.”

Ohman correctly points out that the stock market is interested in profits, and those often come at the expense of the working class. While it’s foolish to try to tie each up or down of the market to a specific news item, it’s equally foolish not to tie this climb to 30,000 to the increasing gulf between earnings and wages, and between what the CEOs take home and what their workforce gets to divvy up.

Asking us to celebrate this milestone puts me in mind of the animated sequence at the start of the 1968 film “Charge of the Light Brigade,” which contrasts the misery of millworkers and miners with the splendor of the ruling class, then demonstrates how the working class became glorious cannon fodder.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Issues of judgment

  1. Also glad I’m not the only one who sees Supreme Justice Sister Wife’s eyes spinning in her head every time I see a picture of her

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