CSotD: Futility

Non Sequitur (AMS) captures the current situation, and the Biblical reference is worthy.

Exodus is, if not a tale of herding cats, at least a story of how Moses had to continually keep his people moving forward by addressing their unending doubts and grievances, until, when Jehovah had reached out with some specifics, he came down the mountain only to discover them worshipping a golden calf.

Wiley is correct: The real sin is in presuming that people will choose to do the right, sensible thing.

Maybe Jesus took a lesson from Moses. When, in the book of Matthew, he went up to the mountaintop to have his divine nature revealed, he brought along three of his apostles.

Moses might have held a stronger hand if he’d taken a couple of witnesses up Mount Sinai to observe his conversation with the Almighty.

Or maybe not, given that his own brother, Aaron, who had seen and even participated in some miraculous events, was the one down there collecting jewelry and making an idol.

Anyway, even if you only think of the Bible as folklore, it’s wise folklore: Throughout its various books, the story repeats of people being shown the sensible path and then dancing off into destruction anyway.

It’s amusing and interesting as a story of life a few thousand years ago, but not so much fun when it’s playing out in the present.


At least Moses was able to smash the stone tablets and go into a righteous fit of fury that got everyone back on track.

As Phil Hands (AMS) points out, the current idolatrous mob is harder to convince, though maybe righteous fury could work.

Clearly, offering them sensible explanations with documented proof only confirms their belief that you’re lying.

We’re seeing the power of the Big Lie, and it is just as Hitler explained:

(T)hey themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation.

The bizarre part being that he was speaking of the Jews, claiming that those with whom he disagreed had been corrupted by the Big Lie.

He only put the principle to work in his own service later.

Machs nix. He did adopt the tactic, and his big lies about the fire in the Reichstag, and about a Polish attack on a German radio station, were believed.


And those like General Milley who study history are, like the poor fellow in the classic Tom Toro cartoon, doomed, if not inevitably to repeat it, to do their very best to keep the obvious from happening again.

Knowing, from having studied history, that they will be hated not simply as disloyal for opposing the lies, but for having studied history in the first place.



At least Moses could predict some of the ways his people would go astray, because they had followed him out of Egypt in their own self-interest, and many of their complaints had been self-serving.

It’s easier to deal with selfish people than with those determined to be loyal to a group, even one that is not loyal to them.

Mike Luckovich points out the stubbornness of Trump followers who embrace a lie that might, quite literally, kill them.

It began as Trump’s denial of the crisis; his refusal to accept any responsibility for a disease that was killing hundreds of thousands of Americans while he was their elected leader.

He grasped at ridiculous “cures,” and downplayed, even denied, sensible advice, with the result that, once vaccines emerged, his followers praised him for developing them while insisting they were not only ineffective but dangerous.

However, like the White Queen, they were fully capable of believing a half dozen impossible things before breakfast. As she told Alice, it’s a matter of developing the habit:

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. 


Steve Brodner offers a lesson in what happens when these lies are challenged, and it’s proof of Jonathan Swift’s advice to a young clergyman that “Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired: for in the course of things, men always grow vicious before they become unbelievers.”

They have grown vicious in Tennessee and not only deny science but lash out against it, rejecting not only the vaccines against Covid but, to prove their point, all efforts to vaccinate children against disease.

As of this morning, Tennessee stands at #44 on the list of states ranked by vaccination rate.

And let’s be clear: It’s not ignorance. It’s politics.

You can’t be this stupid, but you can be this stubborn, which makes it desperately important to find another way to address the crisis. As Swift said, reasoning with them only makes them angry and, certainly, calling them morons — while it may be accurate — is not likely to bring them over to your side.

As long as politicians can get elected by appealing to the worst in people, we will have our statehouses and even Congress increasingly inhabited by intentional liars and charismatic morons, and note the word “increasingly,” because you’d have to be a bit of a moron yourself not to notice the extent to which it has already begun.


Matt Wuerker (Politico) points out that one important effort might be to persuade Justice Breyer to retire now, before the GOP regains control of the Senate, so that SCOTUS can continue to slow down, if not stop, the crazies.


While, in the meantime, Jeff Stahler (AMS) offers the wise advice to protect yourself and your family, because nobody else is going to do it for you.

But, really, where ya gonna run to?



10 thoughts on “CSotD: Futility

  1. Oddly enough, even though it’s not an outright part of the subject matter, I keep thinking of a cartoon I saw twenty or thirty years ago, of an angry woman holding a DOWN WITH LITERACY sign being confronted by another of her ilk, suspiciously asking “What’s that say?”

  2. My friend Mike Luckovich is statistically mistaken but as John Ford said ” when you have to choose between history and legend, print the legend.” -or the racist stereotype.

    According to KFF HEALTH NEWS only 9% of African Americans have been vaccinated. It’s common knowledge many professional athletes, the Nation of Islam and others have declined to get poked. There was a rap video released last week promoting the shot. It was widely criticized by the Black community and taken down.

    But in Mike’s defense no editor in America is going to run a cartoon of LeBron James (also unvaxxed) w a giant screw in his back. I promise you that.


  3. Actually that 9% figure is not the percentage of the black population that have been vaccinated. It is the percentage of the black population that have received at least one vaccine shot out of the total number of people who have received at least one vaccine shot. 57% of the total population have least one vaccine shot and of those 9% are black.

    Further down in the report it states:

    “Overall, across these 40 states, the percent of White people who have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose (47%) was roughly 1.4 times higher than the rate for Black people (34%) and 1.2 times higher than the rate for Hispanic people (39%) as of July 6, 2021.”

    There are also other reasons other than vaccine hesitancy for why some blacks have not gotten a vaccine shot:


  4. All of which would be a great deal more compelling if Luckovich’s cartoon had featured an African-American or made some claim about percentages or even referred to a specific bit of disinformation about vaccines.

  5. It takes a lot of guts to accuse someone of being statistically mistaken when you haven’t even read the source you’re citing, but then again I’ve never accused Mike Lester of not having guts.

  6. Thanks for the correction. I assumed a level of intelligence that people here are familiar enough w the movie to know that the actor who said the line was being directed by John Ford.
    I’m going to continue to speak w that assumption.

  7. That was a correction of the phrasing. Not sure how that can be seen as a revelation that John Ford didn’t say all the words in his movies.

  8. Come on, Lester, I know you can come up with a reason the actual point of your first post is still correct. I believe in you.

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