CSotD: Please, Sir, Can I Have Less?

Today’s Frazz (AMS) makes me wish for the days when I was Caulfield’s age and expected to live forever. For that matter, I wouldn’t mind going back to those days, because JFK was alive, we weren’t in Vietnam, the economy was booming, and I expected all that to go on forever as well.


Though, as Rob Rogers suggests, your memory of those good times may vary.  When I was Caulfield’s age, not only was JFK still alive, but so were Medgar Evers, Viola Liuzzo and those four little girls in Birmingham.

You reach a point where you tend not to look forward for the unspecified, unguaranteed promises of a new year so much as you look back to what has been lost, or at least, like Janus, you look both forward and backward.

In 1788, when Robert Burns wrote down the words of that old song, life was precarious, and someone who was healthy in the morning could be dead by nightfall. We had just begun to master smallpox, while penicillin and other miracles remained centuries in the future.

People didn’t walk around under a constant cloud and it may even have made them appreciate the current moment more. But, at the same time, there was plenty of reason to mark the old times and the lost friends, and to hope the memories would outlive you at least for a time.


So here we are, more that 200 years later, and Peter Broelman points out that we’ve found a new trend with which to begin the new year.

The thing about the pandemic is that, when plagues ravaged communities in the 18th century, people weren’t 100 percent sure of how to even slow them down, much less end them.

We’ve come a long way from those dark days, which may be why people assume the various diseases that so decimated American natives were introduced intentionally: We’ve no sense of the degree to which people were unwitting pawns of fate back then.


We still cling to magical thinking, mind you, and while Caulfield has the excuse of youth, it’s hard to find reasons why the woman in Drew Sheneman (AMS)‘s cartoon should believe she can live forever without some sensible precautions, or —  putting more spin on the matter of immaturity — why she should blame someone else when she is caught in the web of her own foolishness.

Though she certainly has help in finding scapegoats.


Dana Summers (Tribune) is only one of several conservative cartoonists to seize upon the president’s casual remarks at the start of his address to the governors.

In his introduction, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said that, while additional supplies were welcome, the governors wanted more help in fighting covid, to which Biden responded that the feds can’t fix everything and that, “when the rubber meets the road,” it’s up to the states to make things work.

Which sounds like a cue for the States Rights Contingent to rise to their feet and cheer, but you have to remember how many of those governors have deliberately stood in the way of containing and controlling covid, not only lying about the science but actively boosting laws to prevent local communities from mandating sensible precautions.


Though, as Ben Jennings notes, the motivation for fighting covid may have less to do in some cases with the well-being of the populace as it does with the ability of politicians to cling to power.

But people like resolute firmness, and protecting them doesn’t seem to work nearly as well as standing up to, as Gov. Wallace put it, “pointy-headed intellectuals who couldn’t park their bicycle straight.”

Not only is the Big Lie alive and well, but it has broken off a succession of toxic variants, including lies about covid.


It doesn’t help that the media runs headlines, for instance, trumpeting the number of military personnel being drummed out for refusing to be vaccinated against covid (having been vaccinated against all sorts of other things upon enlistment), without mentioning what a tiny minority they represent.

They do the same with police officers, firefighters and other public servants mandated to comply with common sense and good public health practices.

It’s paranoid to suggest that they decline to mention the well-over 95 percent of personnel in compliance because they value clicks more than their credibility. It’s likely just incompetence.

But the end result is to promote a general sense that the anti-vaxxers are winning, an effect that goes beyond the deliberate misinformation spread by Fox, and an effect that encourages vaccine hesitancy and a general refusal to sacrifice for the greater good.


So, no, I don’t share Caulfield’s insistence that we view the coming year with unmitigated joy. Like the poor fellow in Christopher Weyant’s cartoon, my noisemaker is drooping as I look to the future.


At least I’m not alone. Andy Davey proclaims 2021 as a year of triumphs for despots the world over, and, if it’s a bit of self-indulgence for a Brit to include their clown among this ghastly lineup, he’s certainly got the rest of them well-depicted and well-pegged.

Which reminds me that kiwi cartoonist Rod Emmerson has posted on his Twitter page an excellent primer on how political cartoonists adapt, rather than simply copying, reference photos. Davey has, similarly, done a good job here of rendering excellent caricatures in his own artistic style.



And I’m sorry to rain on Caulfield’s parade, but Steve Brodner joins Davy in pointing out that the Bad Guys appear to be winning at the moment.

A lot of us laughed when Trump began his rise, and too many of us continue to view him as a distraction rather than an emerging pattern. I’ll admit that I laughed, too, despite years of working with commercial developers and other well-heeled bullshit artists, most of whose grand plans and empty promises fell apart quickly, but some of whom were able to rise on their own hot air.

The moral of the story being that, as the man said,

If you prefer a more modern look at what is on the table, consider this excellent, chilling essay by someone who went through the civil war in Sri Lanka:

But, hey: Happy New Year.


One thought on “CSotD: Please, Sir, Can I Have Less?

  1. Every once in a while, reading stories of death, destruction, and herd stupidity, I slip into Janus Mode too.

    Guess I put too much faith in the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

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