CSotD: Comforting potions, troublesome notions

There’s a lot to like in Steve Sack‘s cartoon, which plays upon the recent decision to allow booster shots of whatever is available rather than the specific vaccine you had before.

Not only is it a good wrap-up of the major lies being promoted and accepted, but the dizzy, satisfied smile on the face of the elephant indicates a level of uncritical comfort in which nothing is questioned so long as it induces a foggy pleasure formerly seen only in opium dens.

We live, at the moment, in a world of dealers and pushers, selling whatever we want to buy.

Those who remember the Olden Days will recall that dealers were people who sold small quantities of grass and hallucinogens, while pushers dealt in wholesale quantities of those relatively harmless drugs, while also trading in narcotics.

As Hoyt Axton wrote, and Steppenwolf played:

You know the dealer, the dealer is a man
With the love grass in his hand
Oh but the pusher is a monster
Good God, he’s not a natural man.

Of course, in the real world, it was never that clear-cut, and not only was there no set division between the two, but even they didn’t always know what they were handling.

Ditto with the comforting notions that impel today’s divisions.


There is, for instance, little remarkable in Lisa Benson (WPWG)‘s Halloween-themed cartoon.

It’s a generic insult of tax-and-spend Democrats, and the only immediate point is that the caldron is labeled with Biden’s proposal rather than Obama’s or Clinton’s or Carter’s.

As everyone who follows the news knows, Biden’s plan specifically exempts anyone earning less than $400,000 a year and his increases target billionaires.

So it’s not a logical criticism, just a political slam. Does Benson know average taxpayers are not being targeted? Is she suggesting that they will be despite the promises?

Doesn’t matter. The editors who pick up the cartoon for their papers will be happy with it, as will their readers.

Like the elephant in Sack’s cartoon, they’ll smile and be satisfied.


Dana Summer’s (Tribune) Halloween cartoon brings up a different matter. While Benson relies on the well-established “tax-and-spend” accusation, Summers goes on the offensive, joining in the anti-vax, anti-science attacks on Anthony Fauci.

He illustrates the accusation that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases endorsed experiments on beagles, which prompted harsh questioning from anti-vax congressmen and which was widely circulated by conservative media.

The problem is, the article that prompted these attacks was simply wrong.

The article that revealed the allegations had conflated two different experiments, one of which was cruel but not endorsed or supported by NIH or NIAID.

The one they were involved with was a simple test of a vaccine to protect dogs against a disease common in North Africa, in which the test dogs were vaccinated and then allowed to mingle in an environment with the sand fleas that carry the disease.

Benson can be excused for not having really made any real political point, but where does Summers stand, for having made an accusation that isn’t true?

Given the timeline involved, he likely drew the cartoon before the accusations were revealed to be false, and I’m disinclined to accuse him of rooting around in Town Hall and Breibart, which would have demanded that he find more reputable confirmation. He counted on conservative but mainstream sources.

My inclination is to dislike both cartoons, but to give Benson a pass for having said nothing, and Summers a pass for having relied on sources that are often skewed but rarely overtly dishonest.

It’s a case of looking for the facts you want to find, like a tape of a political opponent gleefully watching prostitutes urinate.

We believe the things we want to believe, and, as Mr. Dooley said, “Politics ain’t beanbag.”

On the other hand, words — and pictures — have impact, or why bother with them?


In these times, it has already become clear there are consequences to harsh judgments and inflamatory rhetoric, as noted by Steve Brodner.

A king fumes “Will nobody rid me of this troublesome priest?” and the next thing you know, a group of loyal knights take it upon themselves to murder the archbishop.

Though one should not refer to Thomas Becket as a victim, because that wouldn’t be fair to the knights who thought they were doing the right thing.

The question that must be faced — now, not at some time in the future — is where the First Amendment stops protecting people from the effects of their words.

It’s all well and good that Charlie Kirk told that fellow who asked that we’re not going to get out our guns and begin killing our political opponents. Yet.

But what if, like Henry’s knights, he hadn’t bothered to ask?

What if he simply relied on the rhetoric he heard?

What if he assumed, having been given water bottles and told how much he was appreciated, that he was on the side of the Good Guys?


Then Mike Smith brings up the utterly incoherent attitude this rising Fringe Tide holds for police.

His cartoon assumes an intelligent attitude towards vaccines, which is a helluva thing to assume these days. But he’s highlighting the notion that police should be required to follow orders, which is also a helluva thing to assume.

After all, we’ve got Florida’s governor going on national TV to offer $5,000 bonuses for anti-vax officers and firefighters to relocate to his state, and then denying the words that had come out of his mouth.

But that’s chickenfeed, compared to the cognitive dissonance between those who cry “Blue Lives Matter” and “Defend, not Defund,” but have also created patriotic heroes out of those who attacked police on the steps of the Capitol.

If I were a police officer, I would be very nervous about those who claim to support me.

In fact, I’m not a police officer, and I’m still nervous about those who claim to support them.


We’ve seen these people before.


And when some brave knight stepped forward in 1963 to rid America of a troublesome man, our legal system stepped up and found the killer guilty.

Thirty-one years later.

I don’t think we can wait that long again.




4 thoughts on “CSotD: Comforting potions, troublesome notions

  1. Think you got your wires crossed this morning! That’s Dana Summers, not Chip Bok.

    I’m not complaining when I note that Comic Strip of the Day has for quite a while been Editorial Cartoons of the Day, and I’m curious about the mission creep. A columnist’s heart should wander where it will, and I do think of this as your own daily opinion column and enjoy the journey. Just wondering what you’re thinking about that.

  2. Thanks for the catch — changes made.

    I think the mission creep is that, while the comic strip topics and characters have remained pretty much the same for the past 11 or 12 years or however long I’ve been doing this, politics change and political cartoonists have to rethink their craft regularly.

    There is a comfort factor in people turning to the comics to watch Dagwood hang from the gutter yet again, but there isn’t a lot of room for commentary about it. And we haven’t made much space for new voices in that arena, alas.

    I like how Rowan Atkinson wrote a series of Blackadder episodes, then ended it and recast the same major figures in a completely different era of history with some fun new characters. And then, when he’d done enough, wrapped it all up and went off to do other things.

    Both comic strips and American TV could benefit from following his lead.

  3. All things considered, I prefer future surgeons practice on live dogs rather than on live people.

  4. And here I thought worrying about animal testing was only the purview of those hippie-dippy PETA types that Summers and his ilk would be dunking on the rest of the time.

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