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CSotD: The Price of Everything, The Value of Nothing

John Deering (Creators) starts us off with a puzzler: How long do people think they’re going to be snowed in?

I knew people who were without power for two weeks following the Ice Storm of 1998, but that was a major disaster and most of them were able to get out of their houses after a few days.

Most storms might keep you stuck for 24 hours, maybe 48 in a particularly wild one, but, like Deering, when there’s a storm warning, I see people at the stores loading up as if they were about to recreate Roald Amundsen’s trek to the Pole.

Or possibly Scott’s.

Doesn’t help that we’ve already got people shopping that way because of the pandemic, while the Great Resignation has left our stores with skeletal staff.

And somehow those once-a-month shoppers with the overbrimming carts are the same ones who, when the last item has been rung up, seem surprised that they’re being charged and have to dig around to find a checkbook. And have to fill out the check themselves. And have to balance their book before they make room for the guy with three tomatoes and a loaf of bread.

And another thing …

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Cathy Wilcox)

 

(First Dog on the Moon)

One of the oddities of getting up at four in the morning is that I’ll find outraged comments in social media and become all outraged myself before I realize they’re about things that are happening in Australia or New Zealand and I can probably relax.

Except that they tend to reflect a sort of universal stupidity, as when Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was unable to guess the prices of bread, milk and covid tests, which is the sort of ivory tower lack of knowledge we touched upon just last week.

And if the foolishness seems universal, so does the response: Wilcox accuses him of not knowing the cost of his own, more substantive policies, or lack thereof, while First Dog echoes that and adds the mundane costs of day-to-day living that a well-grounded politician ought to understand.

But First Dog notes in that last panel that the opposition leader, Anthony Albanese — who is separated and lives with his 21-year-old son — failed a gotcha question about the price of tampons. Which you might think is one of his sarcastic jokes, but really happened, proving once again that cartoonists must truly struggle to be sillier than life itsownself.

In Oscar Wilde’s “Lady Windemere’s Fan,” one of the characters defines a cynic as “A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing,” but, of course, it’s possible to be ignorant of both.

 

As First Dog says, there’s a difference between not focusing on the nuts and bolts — and why should a man with no wife know the price of tampons? — and being willfully ignorant and militantly apathetic, as Ward Sutton points out in this takedown of the Republicans.

The question has been raised, what do they stand for? We certainly know what they’re against, which is basically anything the Democrats want.

But they didn’t even bother to write a party platform in 2020: Their plan was simply to do whatever Dear Leader wanted them to do and to oppose whatever the Democrats proposed.

Again, the challenge for cartoonists is to find a way to exaggerate what has been laid on their plate. Sutton does a fine job, but he had to go pretty far out on the limb to pull it off.

 

Jen Sorensen shows an ability to stretch reality just enough to demonstrate its absurdity, bemoaning the fact that technology with the power to spread knowledge seems chiefly used to spread paranoia and ignorance.

It’s nothing new: Woodrow Wilson reportedly expressed hope that motion pictures would bring knowledge to students, but (A) he probably never said it, and (B) the film in question was “Birth of a Nation,” and we’ve done far too good a job of bringing that kind of knowledge to the public.

 

Michael Ramirez (Creators) capitalizes on rightwing outrage over White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki’s comment that she didn’t understand why conservatives were calling the White House soft on crime.

She addresses the matter here, and it’s worth watching because she explains things well, but, then again, who cares?

The crime rate is up, certainly, and this Vanity Fair article is chock full of links explaining things. But it explains one critical point right at the start:

Given that nearly two-thirds of our 100 largest cities have Democratic mayors, it’s not hard to blame the party, but, then again, they’re not the folks who promote both open and concealed carry of firearms while passing laws to make sure Black kids don’t find out how their ancestors arrived here and that no school children will ever learn why we sent antifa troops to Europe 80 years ago.

Our attitude towards crime may not be entirely partisan in origin, however.

The competition for eyeballs in an expanding media market has brought more violence to cop shows on TV and to movies in general, ramping up people’s belief that they, too, are likely to be victims of crime and thus increasing the acceptance of police as much-needed guardians hampered by laws about people’s rights.

 

Mind you, we’re selective about what laws we’d like to see enforced, and Scott Stantis isn’t the only conservative lining up against the Transportation Secretary’s plan to address rising automobile fatalities.

Buttigieg outlined a number of items, including improved road design and automotive safety features, but what has attracted attention was funding of cameras to automatically detect and fine speeders.

It seems that “Law and Order” isn’t intended to impose law and order on good lawbreakers, only on bad lawbreakers, while Stantis also implies that Buttigieg is handing out grants for those cameras because the feds will benefit from fines for speeding. Say what?

Local speeding tickets could reduce taxes for law-abiding folks while encouraging safe driving, but those aren’t conservative priorities, I guess.

Which brings us back to Sorensen’s point about misuse of technology: Radar detectors are legal here, but we don’t want cameras enforcing traffic laws.

Whose side are these “Law and Order” folks on?

 

Community Comments

#1 JP Trostle
February/4/2022
@ 9:55 am

When my hometown of Harrisburg (in)famously went bankrupt some years back, they were forced to sell off many of their traditional municipal duties to 3rd parties (read: profit-driven corporations).

The company that took over parking and traffic control was SO aggressive — often ticketing cars as the driver was walking to the meter to pay for parking — it nearly killed business downtown, which further drained the tax base the city was counting on to recover.

But hey, quarterly profits were up — and that’s all that really matters, right?

#2 Bill Harris
February/4/2022
@ 10:34 am

Fear is the currency of politics in America. For instance The right have no reason to point out that violent crime is mostly an urban concern that will not affect it’s white suburban base while the left benefits when they don’t broadcast the fact that more than half of all gun deaths are suicide and of the large number of homicides by gun occur during domestic disputes.

Neither side sees value in fact-based policy over fear-based politics.

#3 Kathleen Donnelly
February/4/2022
@ 1:39 pm

Definitely loaded up like Scott’s expedition. Amundsen’s no-nonsense approach was to use dog sleds for transport; on the return trip, with fewer goods to carry, the Norwegians would shoot (and eat) the redundant dogs.

#4 Nicholas Merritt
February/4/2022
@ 1:51 pm

Bill Harris: not sure why it matters whether a gun death was a suicide, domestic dispute, or a drive-by – surely you’re not saying that certain types of gun violence don’t matter? Just as one point, a gun is a quick and simple suicide method with few to no comparable alternatives for many people, and better enforcement / fewer guns would absolutely reduce suicides.

#5 Denny Lien
February/4/2022
@ 4:00 pm

” a gun is a quick and simple suicide method with few to no comparable alternatives for many people, and better enforcement / fewer guns would absolutely reduce suicides.”

Well, my strong preference is to expand simple (and perhaps quick) options for people who DO wish to exercise their right to die, but given how advocating that simple basic right seems to make so many people on both the left and the right clutch their pearls and collapse on their fainting couches, I’d say having access to a gun in such instances if you’re not offered a better method isn’t a bad thing.

#6 Mary McNeil
February/4/2022
@ 6:15 pm

Here in Ohio, certain small towns use their speed traps and mayor’s courts as major fund-raisers. That may be the basis for some opposition to traffic cams.

#7 Mike Peterson
February/5/2022
@ 11:11 am

Rethink that, Denny. Advanced cancer and ALS might justify a voluntary euthanasia, but you surely cannot be suggesting that people who suffer from depression should have easy means of killing themselves.

#8 Denny Lien
February/6/2022
@ 5:27 pm

Mike said: “Rethink that, Denny. Advanced cancer and ALS might justify a voluntary euthanasia, but you surely cannot be suggesting that people who suffer from depression should have easy means of killing themselves.”

I rethinked and sorry, I’m not changing my mind. But perhaps I didn’t express myself well.

I did say that any government-approved voluntary end of life program need not be “quick” (and in fact I’d prefer it were not — if someone wants to die, unless unbearable pain is involved, I’d agree that a reasonable waiting period — two weeks perhaps? — is a good idea if s/he wants to do it legally and tidily).

But most people in our society (unlike a friend of a friend who fortunately lived in Washington state and thus just this month was able to take advantage of sane regulations) do not have that option, and will want to / have to use what’s at hand. If it’s a gun, it’s a gun.

I’m not sure why you feel extreme/constant depression a less legitimate personal “excuse” than cancer or ALS — I don’t have personal experience with any of those, but my understanding is that (as with alcoholism) current thought is that extreme clinical depression is an illness as real as cancer.

I don’t currently have a dog in this fight — while I strongly support right to die, for good reasons or for bad reasons (I don’t feel it’s my place to tell others their reasons are not good, though I may have private opinions), I personally intend to be around here making obnoxious comments for many years yet. But admittedly I’d rather be making cutesy ones, and this blog is not a good place to seriously argue “meaning of life, if any” philosophy, so I’m willing to call the discussion off here (with, presumably, one rebuttal from you, if you wish; fair is fair.)

So, hey, how about that MARY WORTH storyline, huh? What a trainwreck! etc etc

#9 Nicholas Merritt
February/8/2022
@ 10:08 am

Depression, much like cancer, can usually be treated. Trying to center the discussion entirely on those who have been deemed untreatable is missing the point. Furthermore, should there be a method for people who are truly worse off alive than dead to resolve that issue? Maybe, but “there are plenty of guns around” ain’t it.

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