CSotD: Opere et Omissione

There is a lot of kvetching over how horrible 2020 has been, but cartoonists are going to have to really kick out the jams to do better than Ann Telnaes (WashPost), who not only echoes Mike Dukakis’s Greek saying that a fish stinks from the head, but, working on-line, does not let herself be limited by a 7×5 inch format.

She gives us a lot to unpack, given that an awful lot of stink has come from the White House, either through actions or failures.

The pandemic is not, for instance, Trump’s fault, but his denial, deflection and deliberate underplaying has led to a ghastly toll unmatched in other developed countries.

There is a prayer, the Confiteor, common to Roman Catholics, Episcopalians and Lutherans, in which the speaker confesses “I have sinned in thought, word, and deed; in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.”

Taken to an extreme, this guilt can be unnecessarily overwhelming: Priests have describing hearing confessions at a nunnery as “being stoned to death with popcorn.”

But the other extreme is seen in the Church of Prosperity, in which Jesus has redeemed us and, therefore, our sins are forgiven even in advance. On that fringe, God accepts our imperfection and therefore does not expect us to be otherwise.

We’ve just gone through four years of a president who went to Norman Vincent Peale’s church as a lad; we’re about to have four years under an observant Catholic.

Brace yourself for some whiplash.




Sins of omission seem consistently matched with sins of commission, as noted in Signe Wilkinson (AMS)‘s cartoon, in which Dear Leader boasted of the wall he never built to keep out poor people from shithole countries, but then failed to prevent a serious, major cyber intrusion by Russia.

The trail of slime in Telnaes’s piece means we don’t need to analyze each part. It is sufficient to contemplate the horrific sum total.

To single out, as Wilkinson does, the race-baiting, anti-Hispanic bile with which Trump began his administration and contrast it with his failure to confront Russia over the intrusion — including his bizarre, unsupported effort to deflect the blame to the GOP’s new whipping boy, “Communist” China — calls for more specific analysis and, if we’re not careful, speculation that goes beyond the available evidence.

Trump has cultivated a buddy-buddy relationship with Putin, his son bragged before the election that much of the Trump operational money came from Russia and there have been a plethora of sales of Trump properties to Russian oligarchs.

Wilkinson is perfectly justified in wondering about that relationship.

We may never know why he likes Russians so much, what they may hold over his head, or to whom he owes money.

What we can recognize at this point is the lasting toxic legacy left behind by four years of constant lying, and the fact that Republican legislators have supported and doubled down on outrageous, disloyal lies that have undercut public confidence in our system.


When Pat Bagley (SLC Trib) depicted Santa’s list of Essential Workers, he included “Local News” in the array.

It’s not a perfect category: Corporate beancounters have demanded cuts to newsrooms, often starting with the most veteran — hence expensive — reporters, resulting in short-staffed papers with limited institutional memory.

Still, they are on the scene, and, however limited their resources, they’re not the national hair-sprayed spokesmodels who serve at the pleasure of media oligarchs.


Consider the recent retractions by Fox and Newsmax of their lies about Dominion Voting Systems’ integrity, ownership and history.

Clay Jones (Ind) correctly observes that they’d have a lot more to retract if more of their lies resulted in threatening letters. His essay on the topic is good reading, as is this compilation of Dominion’s letters to the liars.

It’s too bad more of the victims are not standing up and demanding truth. Maybe funding their lawsuits should be the next GoFundMe drive.

Meanwhile, this Snopes analysis of how the President-elect’s adult son became a target for partisan political attack is also interesting, but, of course, the response of his accusers is not to answer each point but, rather, to dismiss it all as “Fake News.”


Chip Bok (Creators), for instance, goes so far with this Lügenpresse approach as to accuse the press of deliberately lying about the outcome of the election or, at best, of failing to go along with the unproven, disproven, rejected claims of Trump, Giuliani, Powell and a fading choir of deniers.

Trump’s opponents have used the derisive nickname “Dear Leader,” but it is his loyal, unquestioning supporters who have justified the mockery.

In their Looking Glass world, the fact that courts and judges have confirmed the vote count and rejected the challenges only proves that they, too, are part of the Grand Conspiracy.


John Auchter (Michigan Public Radio), admits that there’s nothing particularly sexy about good journalism, that its value is more in what it underlies.

In Looking Glass Land, good journalism, alas, is overmatched not in how well points are argued but in how loudly.

The proliferation of media has meant that ludicrous arguments once confined to barstool braggarts are now trumpeted as if they made sense, in which case, for a great many of our fellow citizens, they do.

The White Queen boasted that she could believe six impossible things before breakfast, while the Red Queen advised Alice that, on this side of the Looking Glass, you have to run as fast as you can simply to stay in one place.

The challenge is which queen you follow.

And don’t look for the easy solution Alice found: Finding our way back to the other side of the glass will not be nearly so simple nor as instantaneous.

We will not wake up January 21 with a cat in our laps and resume life as it was before we drifted off to sleep.

Which I say with no knowledge of what the hell happened in Nashville yesterday, but with full awareness of the people who consider the young terrorist who killed people in Kenosha a hero.

White Queen or Red Queen — which is yours?


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Opere et Omissione

  1. The cartoon by Bok is breathtaking… Your reference is Lügenpresse is spot on, and equally scary. I most certainly do not envy Biden. He has an historically difficult task before him. What can he possibly say on January 21 to start a process?

  2. Yes – Chip Bok, an alumnus of the Akron Beacon Journal. Now here is the only place I have to look at him.

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