CSotD: Surprise me

Pros and Cons (KFS) has the funniest commentary on Trump’s phone call today, except that it’s not, having been drawn I dunno how long ago and Kieran Meehan not being, AFAIK, psychic.

But I’m giving him credit for the laugh anyway, if only by default.

We covered the phone call yesterday and if you’re going to chime in two days later, you need to come up with something fabulous.

Politics indeed ain’t beanbag, and, in a time of crisis, commentators need to step up their game..


Though in all fairness, if we’re going to let David Rowe have a 12-hour head start from the Antipodes, we should give European cartoonists a break on having been getting ready for bed about the time the Washington Post reported the call.

Martyn Turner (Irish Times) makes a move that justifies that extra time, mixing Trump’s phone call with the attack of the Traitorous Twelve to make it a commentary on the Republican resistance to constitutional government.

Which he makes look silly, earning extra points. It’s not that it’s not serious, but laughing at it helps blunt the damage being done.


Turner is playing on “Desperate Dan,” a character from the British comic magazine “The Dandy,” which I wouldn’t have known about if he hadn’t added an “apologies to” note in the margin, but which adds a considerable amount of political humor for his readers, since Dan was a blundering buffoon.

The artistry being that it was already funny even without knowing that.


Drew Sheneman (Trib) also gets credit for extending the commentary on the phone call with a caption pointing out what Dear Leader might better have been doing with his time.

There’s a bit of whiplash here, because it’s such a straightforward and — excuse me — so-what graphic in a storm of so-what cartoons of Trump on the phone, so that the caption startles you into realizing that he has a much more serious message to deliver.

It’s a risky game, because he’s daring you to pass by without reading it, but it’s a risk worth taking, because the result matters. We discussed sins of omission and sins of commission the other day, but Sheneman combines them here to point out the depth of damage being done.


Speaking of long-term damage, Matt Wuerker (Politico) put this one up several days ago, but it’s becoming more relevant as we draw near tomorrow’s vote, particularly since not only has Dear Leader encouraged his crazies to gather in the streets of DC to intimidate loyalists, but we’ve now got a screwball representative from Colorado parading around with a gun on her hip in defiance of DC gun laws.

And in defiance of common sense and decency, but we’ve pretty much given up on that, with Wuerker demonstrating how it came about.

BTW, Wuerker is playing with vocabulary here, using “graph” to mean Venn diagram when the term is actually short for “paragraph.”

“Nut graf” is J-school jargon meaning the paragraph where you tell the reader what you’re talking about, high enough in the story that they haven’t stopped reading yet.

In the olden days, you did that in your first sentence, as a foundation of the “inverted paragraph” format in which you put the most important information at the top of the story in case the end of your piece got cut off.

The inverted paragraph is no longer in vogue, but even journalism professors concede the wisdom of Wall Street Journal editor Barney Kilgore, who warned his reporters that “The easiest thing for a reader to do is to stop reading.”

Next easiest for them is to stop thinking, and entire political careers have been built on that premise.

For example:


Phil Hands (Wisconsin State Journal) bemoans his state’s record of sending seditious blowhards to Congress, Senator Johnson having earlier declared the election over but then apparently realizing that, if he wanted a bunch of free publicity, he should either drop his pants in public or come out against the Constitution.

The fact that Chuck Todd yanked Johnson’s pants down on Meet the Press anyway has not had that “at long last have you no sense of decency” impact such a moment did in Tailgunner Joe’s day.

I heard a bit of an interview on NPR yesterday in which the fellow pointed out that, in the days of three networks, we shared a lot of culture, but have now become fragmented into our own isolated worlds.

It reminded me of “Bowling Alone,” Robert Putnam’s now-classic book on the phenomenon, in which he noted that it was once said that, if you walked down an American street while “Amos and Andy” was on the radio, you’d get to hear the whole show from each front porch as you passed by.

However you feel about the loss of Amos and Andy, Putnam’s point was that we no longer sit out on front porches being part of a neighborhood, and, if your house is less than half a century old, you likely don’t even have a front porch.

We live crabbed, insular lives in crabbed insular worlds, making it easier from the Ron Johnsons and Rush Limbaughs to build followers, and making it harder for anyone to shame them into obscurity.

Though those simpler, more unified days in the wake of World War II were perhaps a temporary phenomenon.

We teach our kids about how, in the days of the Revolution, Tories were tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Ha ha. Serves ’em right!

We don’t teach them that neighborhood mobs hanged or shot isolated Tories or Patriots, stole their livestock and burned their houses to the ground.

And they didn’t even have radios, much less Facebook.


Joy of Tech offers this analysis, which I find particularly apt, accurate and darkly amusing.

I suppose I should be more optimistic but I’ve seen too many same-old, same-old political cartoons lately, pointing out that the 1 at the end of 2021 looks a lot like a hypodermic needle.

Difference being that a hypodermic needle has a point.


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Surprise me

  1. We look at being tarred and feathered as a comical punishment, but it could be a death sentence if really hot tar was used. The burned flesh would fester and, like the gold-covered girl in Goldfinger, the body couldn’t respirate.

  2. And with this bunch Kathleen, they may think being tarred and feathered an honor.

  3. And that’s the second part of that, Kathleen. Even getting the tar off would take a layer of skin and leave huge areas open to infection, in a world that had no antibiotics.

    And, as I noted, it was both sides. Since the Patriots won, we teach that it happened to Tories, but it was dealt out to whoever held the minority position in a community.

    (Tune in tomorrow for another parallel from that revolution to this one.)

  4. in re: Tories and Patriots – and Bleeding Kansas…Ossawatomie John Brown…Bloody Bill Anderson and Bill Quantrill

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