CSotD: Gamesmanship

This Jeff Stahler (AMS) cartoon greets me appropriately upon my return from Younger Son’s home in Minnesota, where I had Thanksgiving a week early with his family of four, another granddaughter and her husband, and my ex, all of whom live there.

I heartily recommend it, because the flights were cheaper, though you might want to celebrate TWO weeks earlier. The flight home last night was full of people heading out for the holiday and Logan looked about like the above illustration.

Anyway, I agree with Stahler: Lockdown had its advantages.

Now on with the show:


Joel Pett sets the stage for a discussion of either hypocrisy or Orwellian gaslighting or cognitive dissonance or perhaps believing six impossible things before breakfast.

I’m going to eliminate hypocrisy because I really don’t think the people who got up in arms about “defunding the police” and posted “Blue Lives Matter” signs even recognize that they can’t say that one day and then not simply blow off the January 6 riot but attack and belittle the testimony of Capitol Police about their injuries.

The analogy I heard on some NPR show, which I think I’ve already said but will say again, is that it’s like sports fans: They root for their home team, and, in doing so, imagine uncalled penalties by their opponents while denying obvious penalties by their team, and explain away clumsy losses while celebrating quirky, undeserved victories.

And, BTW, that applies to both sides, but only one side has to defend a traitorous attack on our election system and seat of government.

Or maybe they don’t. Their obvious option is to simply plow on, and, again, if you blame it all on Dunning Kruger effect, you’re overthinking things: It’s not about logic. It’s about loyalty.

There are some brilliant intellects on the far right, but, when their player misses an easy catch in the end zone, they see pass interference even if nobody was within five yards of him.



For instance, Michael Ramirez (Creators) notes that part of Biden’s agenda — the part that explains why his Infrastructure and Build Back Better bills won’t explode the deficit — involves not just raising taxes on billionaires but additional funding so that the IRS can perform audits and crack down on tax cheats.

He obviously sees this as a bad thing.

I see it as an “It’s about time” thing.

But, whether or not you have ever publicly supported law and order, I find it bizarre to take a public position in favor of lying, breaking the law and cheating the nation.

It’s one thing to defend the rights of plutocrats to exploit their workers, and to prefer a tax system in which the oligarchs can shelter their profits. But to come right out and attack a plan to enforce the law, well . . .

I guess there was probably holding, or an offsides or something.

Kill the ref!


Meanwhile, Chip Bok (Creators) recycles an old fallacy from the Affordable Care Act legislative fight, which, curiously, just came up in a conversation I had over pre-Thanksgiving.

As you may recall, the ACA bill was extraordinarily thick, and opponents were not only nit-picking small points, often out of explanatory context, but inventing “death panels” that weren’t even in it.

Pelosi said that, while it was, indeed, complex, once it was in place, people would find that it not only worked but worked very well, and opponents were off to the races, putting the remark in all sorts of dire and false contexts.

And Bok is right: Biden’s proposals are similarly complex, and we face a choice of picking through every misplaced comma or trusting our elected officials to (A) have hired competent staff to sort through it all and (B) to be honest with us about what it includes.

We might even, as St. Ronald said, “Trust, but verify.”

Though this far into the game, you should have noticed that the guy in the seat next to you screams “Interference!” on every play the other team makes and “Bullshit!” every time his team is flagged.

If you haven’t picked up on the pattern, I’m gonna assume the two of you root for the same team.

In any case, I think people will find a great many benefits and very few drawbacks in both the Infrastructure and BBB bills.

In this case, I’m quite sure that’s not Bok’s point.


This Nick Anderson (Counterpoint) cartoon touches on another conversation from my trip west, because my son remarked that he never hears the term “woke” used anymore, except by rightwingers and racists deriding it.

(The context, BTW, was that he has Hulu and I don’t, so we were about to watch Keith Knight’s brilliant, hilarious, right-on series by that name, which I heartily recommend.)

My teacher-son and I had substantial conversations about what is actually taught in school and the difficulty of telling our nation’s entire history within the time allowed — not the 45 minutes of each class but the 13 years of the whole process.

That’s before you get to the contrary opinions about what kids should learn.

What kids should learn is how to think and how to learn and how to evaluate sources. As the saying — attributed to all sorts of people — goes, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

They need to be made curious, and shown how to satisfy that curiosity. As Frank Zappa said in my 1986 interview with him:

The world — and certainly the Internet — is full of people who, as kids, were not inspired by school but who, for whatever reasons, were not able to take the bit in their teeth and educate themselves the way Zappa did.

Creating lifelong learners should be the goal, and lessons should be more inspiring than specific.


However, part of creating those life-long learners is arming them with some basics, and Jen Sorensen here repeats a specific lesson we did have, but which a lot of people clearly slept through.


Ken Burns expands on Sorensen’s cartoon in a five minute video that is that sort of lesson Patriots should demand but that Nationalists fear most.

As well they should.


3 thoughts on “CSotD: Gamesmanship

  1. A related thing to be pointed about patriotism and nationalism – they are not unique properties of America and Americans. The citizens of many nations feel patriotic and, unfortunately, also nationalistic. The distinction made Sorenson provides a valuable insight for anyone trying to figure out international relationships.

Comments are closed.