CSotD: Childish Gambits

I can counter-quote Mr. Boffo:  You coulda had class. You coulda been a political commentator. You coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what you are, let’s face it.

Being a grown up ruins everything.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(The Argyle Sweater – AMS)

(Too Much Coffee Man – AMS)

F’rinstance, I’ll admit to suffering from Holden Caulfield Syndrome, which is to say that I often look at TV shows and see phonies pretending to be other people, living out Hollywood writers’ fantasies of what cops and criminals are like, or how they imagine people lived in various historic or future eras.

There’s also this: When we look back on “Playhouse 90” and “Your Show of Shows” and other iconic programs of early television, we’re ignoring “I Married Joan” and a lot of other drek that aired alongside the good stuff.

And I don’t think it’s snobbery to be dubious when critics dub this a second Golden Age. I think we’re exactly where we were in 1961 when Newton Minow made his iconic speech on the topic:

When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.

But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

I like candy and I have my own guilty pleasures in entertainment, but I know there’s little nutrition in a Hershey bar and I don’t praise “Law and Order,” since you can tell who’s guilty halfway through the show by figuring out who has the most money and privilege.

Though, granted, it’s not Mama June.

Contemporary TV is a combination of Sturgeon’s Law — “90% of everything is crap” — and a quote by TV writer Bryan Miller, “A smart comedy audience is delighted by surprise; a dumb comedy audience is delighted by the familiar.”

Which latter, by the way, is also key to understanding the difference between Pogo and Blondie.

But the combination is key to understanding the universe, and so let’s go to our

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Arlo and Janis)

(Sherman’s Lagoon – KFS)

I’m glad to see some pushback growing against Facebook, but I don’t think Zuck will be shamed into shutting it down, and, if he did, it would be replaced within hours.

And Minow spoke of watching TV “until the station signs off.” Those days of three stations that went off the air around 1 am were the Good Old Days not because of “Playhouse 90” but because we weren’t glued to the tube 24/7.

There’s a difference between snacking on a Snickers and being force-fed junk food like a foie gras goose, and jokes about people glued to their phones haven’t changed the fact that people are glued to their phones.

Which covers why Megan and Fillmore’s idiotic podcast is gaining audience, while too few people are as wisely skeptical as Janis.

Wise skepticism having always been a rare commodity.


Which brings us to the ongoing debate between people who have looked into the history of the Second Amendment and those who have apparently not, and a small apology to Jeffrey Koterba because his cartoon just happened to drop today but the same argument has been advanced by many others.

The Constitution is based on principles, not technology, and you cannot talk about the difference between muskets and submachine guns unless you are also willing to talk about the difference between handset, moveable type and the Internet.

That is, if the Second Amendment is based on the weaponry of the moment, the First must also have been based on then-current media.

More to the point, the Second and Third Amendment were based on American revulsion over the abuses of standing armies, and the argument between Federalists and Antifederalists was not about guns but whether defense should be conducted by the centralized authority or handled by the various states.


The answer to what Madison would think later is that he regretted our reliance on militias within his own lifetime, because they failed miserably in the War of 1812.

Jefferson was a believer, and consequently had left Madison with virtually no army or navy (skip to his p. 111).

The disastrous results meant that Madison, and, after him, Monroe, dedicated a great deal of effort to bolstering the army and abandoning the idea of militias as the backbone of our national defense.

Which left the 2nd and 3rd Amendments on the dust heap, irrelevant until 1939 when the Miller decision confirmed that gangsters did not have a right to own sawed off shotguns.

Even in the highly debatable Heller decision of 2008, Scalia specified that, while owning a handgun for personal defense was Constitutionally protected, “the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns,” and went on to write that

(N)othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Which means that the fact that we’ve got ammosexuals running around willy-nilly with assault rifles is neither Mr. Madison’s fault or Justice Scalia’s but rests firmly on the shoulders of legislators.

They are free to write gun-control laws that would ban assault-style rifles, include background checks, limit gun-toting freedoms and put restrictions on sales.

Whether they fail to do so out of cowardice or because of their own Dirty Harry fantasies is irrelevant.

And I say that as an NRA Sharpshooter Bar 4 who left the organization before it turned from a gun-safety educational organization into an anarchistic rightwing lobbying group dedicated, as Mike Peters (KFS) points out, to enriching its leadership at the expense of its gullible members.


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