CSotD: May You Live in Confusing Times

Pat Byrnes starts us off with a reflection on how Biden has done fairly well in some areas, quite well in others, not so well in some, but still sees his approval ratings low and sees that fact trumpeted regularly in the press.

I have a theory that Wordle and Squid Game would not draw nearly so much attention on social media if they did not draw so much attention on social media.

Granted, Netflix is the most popular streaming service, so it’s natural that people would know about Squid Game, but Wordle appears to be a word-of-mouth phenomenon.

But I’ve been around marketing far too long to believe in spontaneous word-of-mouth, for Wordle or for Biden.

And I’ve been around politics far too long not to believe that, if people keep seeing that nobody likes the president, they’ll jump on that bandwagon, the term going back to 1848 and having lost little credibility since.

This 2015 Psychology Today article defines the phenomenon and discusses an attempt to prove its validity:

The author fails to come up with a firm answer, but I’ve also been around journalism long enough to feel that his final sentence, “Only time will tell” is akin to the reporters’ dodge “One thing is certain …” which, in turn, offends my background in philosophy, where we learn that nothing is certain.

“Only time will tell” simply sounds better than “Beats the hell out of me.”

If the bandwagon effect doesn’t really work, I’d like to claw back one-thousandths of a percent of the money wasted each year on advertising and promotion. I’d squash Elon Musk like a bug.

Aaron Rupar has a serious, must-read analysis that mirrors Byrnes’ cartoon, accusing the media of having been doing — to use a technical term — a shit job of covering Biden specifically and politics in general, an accusation including both objective incompetence and a desire to appear skeptical, which they see as a badge of wisdom.

He notes that Politico “contained an explosive scoop — that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor went to dinner in DC on Friday night with a group of leading Democrats. And there was apparently even a photo to prove it.”

This would be an egregious dereliction of SCOTUS ethics and Politico reported it as such.

Only, Rupar continues, “the story turned out to be completely false. The woman in the photo that Politico identified as Sotomayor is actually Schumer’s wife, Iris Weinshall.”

Politico retracted, but the toothpaste was out of the tube and the story remains smeared all over social media.

Rupar then goes on to discuss how editors and headline and caption writers have added their own spin to reports that, fairly reported, would be, at best neutral and perhaps laudatory.

I’ve been grousing about it for months, but he nails down examples. It’s well worth a read.


Of course, it all depends on which bandwagon you jump upon. Stuart Carlson (AMS) notes that Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Batguanoland) has been a major source of misinformation, including his promise not to seek a third term, which he has just announced he will seek.

Over at the Bulwark, Charlie Sykes expands upon Johnson’s foolishness, but also explains the likelihood of his winning re-election, in part because he’s an incumbent and in part because the party of the incumbent president often loses in off-year contests, but also in part because, Sykes predicts, the Democrats seem intent on ignoring an opponent who could win in favor of a progressive “true believer” who will alienate voters.

If it were only in Wisconsin, we might shrug off this reverse-bandwagon strategy, in which a party actively shoves moderates off its wagon, preferring purity to victory.

Alas …

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Kirk Walters – KFS)

(Bob Gorrell – Creators)

I don’t have to agree with their politics to agree with their analysis.

That Charlie Sykes piece on Johnson leads you to Mona Charen’s incisive Bulwark article, headlined “Are Democrats Trying to Lose Elections? – New York City’s suffrage for non-citizens is a calamitous combination of bad policy and bad politics.”

The proposal does not extend the franchise to all non-citizens, only Dreamers and fully-employed green card holders, and only for municipal elections, not state or federal races.

There’s a philosophical justification in people voting for offices that effect their lives, certainly. But if you think the Republicans can’t spin this utopian stretch into a real-world disaster for Democrats, you must indeed have just fallen off the turnip truck.

Recently elected Mayor Eric Adams was being touted as an emerging force in the national party, but this idea ranks right up there with proposing an emphasis on prevention rather than enforcement but then sabotaging it with the idiotically divisive slogan “Defund the Police.”

As Charon asks, are they trying to lose elections?


Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(John Deering – Creators)

(Fowl Language – AMS)

We covered this the other day, but I like John Deering’s declaration of how the union-busters are spinning the issue of covid-in-the-classroom to undermine organized labor, and Brian Gordon’s satire of how management goals and budgetary efficiency rank ahead of our children’s health and safety.

Remember: The rise of universal education was a marriage of the emerging labor movement with the social justice movement, supported by a general desire for law and order.

The unions wanted to get the kids out of the mines and factories less out of concern for their health and welfare than because they were working jobs that could have been filled by adults. However, the resulting flood of unsupervised brats running around on the streets created headaches for police and local merchants.

Seizing on this moment, reformers like Jane Addams and Jacob Riis were only too happy to propose that children be required to attend school, a long-sought goal of theirs that politicians and industrialists suddenly saw as a win-win.

Without it, how could they have created today’s economy, which requires both parents to be fully employed just to scrape by?


Finally today, Ben Jennings depicts the result of allowing the pandemic to become a partisan issue, such that political issues both in the UK and here have overwhelmed common sense and social responsibility.

A civil war without bullets, but plenty of victims.