CSotD: The Gadfly Factor

Crabgrass (AMS) sums up my take on all of today’s “broken resolutions” cartoons.

It’s a good thing to have some point at which you stop and do an assessment each year, but hearing about it reminds me of why so many writers don’t talk about what they’re working on:

Either you’ll do it or you’ll talk about it.

You won’t do both.


Peter Schrank says this is more a rough than a finished cartoon, but it’s good enough for me.

I didn’t intend to feature any more New Year’s Baby cartoons or New Year’s cartoons with Covid, but rules are like pie crusts and this is a tasty exception, since he not only puts the coronavirus to some good metaphorical usage but even includes the remains of last night’s celebration.

Coffee break’s over: Back on all our heads.


I also have no intention of running every “Betty White at the Pearly Gates” cartoon, though I was struck by the variety of posts about her yesterday, because they ranged from her days of being on Password, which was hosted by her husband, Allen Ludden, up through MTM and on to Golden Girls and SNL.

As someone noted, it’s proof of a life well-lived that you can make it to 99 and have people say you died too soon.

But Deb Milbrath spares us all the treacle, cutting to the chase with a cartoon she surely can’t expect mainstream newspaper editors to pick up on. No problem: They’ll be leaping all over the saccharine Pearly Gates tributes, and I don’t think they are who she counts on anyway.

However, she manages to combine the many “What a lousy year” cartoons with the many Betty White tributes and that’s a public service on two fronts, thankyouverymuch.


Though, lest you think I’m too much of a grouch, I really like Steve Breen (Creators)‘s quiet announcement of a New Year, a new start and a bit of new hope.

Of course, it’s just one more empty resolution if you don’t follow through, and that calls for a level of honesty and rigor that makes gym workouts and teetotalling seem easy.

Socrates described himself as “a sort of gadfly, given to the state by the gods; and the state is like a great and noble steed who is tardy in his motions owing to his very size, and requires to be stirred into life.”

There’s a full-time job!


Hence John Deering (Creators)‘s accusation that the January 6 Committee is toothless.

Does he believe it? He’s certainly not denying that there’s something there upon which the dog should be fastening its teeth.

This seems more of a goad for that tardy steed than a surrender to Good Ol’ Boy solidarity: By keeping the accusation in the air, Deering increases the pressure on the Committee to follow through with action.

And, if in the future someone throws this back in his face, laughing because he was mistaken and the dog has indeed mauled the traitors, well, sometimes it’s good to be wrong.


The conviction of Ghislaine Maxwell brings up a similar need for gadflies, as Morten Morland notes, because it surely cannot be the end of the matter, despite the fact that there are some mighty famous folks to load into the tumbrils.

In neither case is it likely that everyone who deserves to be brought to justice will be. Some January 6 traitors will escape, as will some prominent, powerful exploiters of underage girls.

That’s all the more reason for the gadflies to keep up their torment of the slow-moving horses: The fact that you can’t get them all is no excuse for not getting any of them.


Nick Anderson (AMS) reminds us, too, that those on the Dark Side are not reluctant to devote themselves to enforcing their own brand of good governance.

It’s not simply that Ken Paxton has joined in the Quixotic-starts-with-Q pursuit of imaginary voter fraud, but that he is the Attorney General of the Great State of Texas and has spent $2.2 million taxpayer dollars to capture three voters who violated regulations to cast their ballots.

And that he’s fighting a securities fraud indictment and has all sorts of other problems.

Imagine if someone were putting that kind of effort into exposing real corruption, fraud and malfeasance!

It won’t happen without gadflies.


Which effort includes a sting or two for Florida Governor Ron Desantis, who, as Ed Hall and others have pointed out, appears to have gone missing for the past two weeks or so.

Fox News now reports that he has been silent because he’s with his wife supporting her during her treatment for breast cancer.

Having gone through cancer treatment myself, I can assure you that, though it came down to some truly extensive surgery, I was home before two weeks, that nobody in my family stayed by my bedside 24/7 anyway, and that, if they had, modern hospitals have telephones.


And that nobody in my family posted a photo claiming to have been at a local bagel shop on December 30 . . .

. . .  when said bagel shop had posted their version of the photo two weeks earlier.

Maybe Bagelicious is next to the cancer treatment center. And has the same staff working all the time.

Enquiring gadflies want to know.


On a more positive note, we covered the loss of one of the world’s great gadflies a few days ago, but South African cartoonist John Curtis has assembled a bravura tribute to Archbishop Desmond Tutu including a number of stories, mostly humorous, about a truly great man.

Start your year with memories of an example of the best we can be.


Housekeeping Issues

DD Degg has wrapped up his extensive reporting of “Best of 2021” political cartoons with Kal Kallagher’s entry, and, if you normally arrive here through my Facebook and Twitter promos, you should go to the Daily Cartoonist main page and see what else is there.


Comics Kingdom seems to have hung up at the change of year when it came to Buz Sawyer’s current (1958) adventure. Here’s the missing strip and, if they don’t figure it out by tomorrow, I’ll keep you up to date.



Forget the gadflies. Mannequin on the Moon (AMS) just planted an earworm.


8 thoughts on “CSotD: The Gadfly Factor

  1. Wrong earworm: “What is love? Baby don’t hurt me. Don’t hurt me. No more….”


    I can’t believe I’m defending the traitorous mass-murderer DeSantis, but he doesn’t claim he was in the bagel shop that day, just saying that if you want a bagel that’s a fine place to get one. Heck, maybe it is, although I wouldn’t trust his judgment on it. As someone who’s let an anecdote, photo or event sit for a while before Faebooking it, I’d give him a pass on this one, unless there’s something I’m not getting, like his staff’s trying to cover up a two-week bender.

    That Kal cartoon is excellent.

    But mostly I wanted to comment to wish you a good new year and thank you for your work in the old one, my friend. Let’s give the old Earth one more lap around the track.

  2. Actually, the answer to “What is Love?” is “Five feet of heaven in a ponytail, The cutest ponytail that sways with a wiggle when she walks.”


    As for DeSantis, if that’s all he could think of to post in the past two weeks, well, perhaps he did it on his phone, from a leanto on the Appalachian Trail.

    And Happy New Year back atcha.

  3. DeSantis’s office keeps throwing out things that sound like explanations and aren’t. “He might have wanted to take a vacation.” “I DIDN’T SAY HE TOOK ONE!”

    This legalistic parsing is just a dipsy doodle, and it seems like they’re being far from candid here.

  4. First, of course, I’d say people who have had cancer should not be estopped from commenting on cancer treatment, any more than people who have climbed mountains should be barred from conversations on mountain climbing or than veterans should be forbidden to discuss war.

    But the real point in all this is that people who want privacy should not seek public office.

    Even if the DeSantis family lives in the ancient world where cancer was something polite people don’t mention, it’s well within precedence to simply say he is taking two weeks off to deal with “a family matter” and then have his LtGov step up and be the face of Florida politics. He did not announce a break in his duties and she has not stepped up to fill in.

    The alternative, as I suggested, was to stay on the job and phone in from time to time while tending to his wife, whether in a hospital or at home. Surely she would be napping extensively, or would understand if he stepped away from the bedside for half an hour.

    Bottom Line: You can do the job or you can’t do the job, and a responsible person makes arrangements one way or the other.

    I understand he and his ailing wife appeared at a “Faith Event” New Years Eve. More reason, then, to wonder where he’d been and, as the saying goes, who was minding the store.

Comments are closed.