CSotD: Clear View from the Peanut Gallery

Pat Bagley gets the lead-off position today for having illustrated the theory that no two nations with McDonald’s have ever gone to war.

The literalists have just gone scrambling off to find out how many McDonald’s are in Ukraine and Russia, but we’re not going to wait for them to get back. The point isn’t about McDonald’s but, rather, about interlocking economies.

A half century ago, we maintained some degree of economic autonomy. It was rarely absolute, except in the case of Communist China, which was largely cut off from the Western World.

But the Canadians began selling them wheat and opening a few other tentative channels, and then Nixon went to China and began establishing economic and diplomatic ties with Mao.

It was called “constructive engagement,” the theory being that the more our economies were connected, the more leverage we would have for making other connections.

We can argue the benefits of shipping our manufacturing jobs over to underdeveloped countries, which eliminated a whole lot of mid-level jobs here, but it’s hard to deny the impact of joining our overall economies on a global spreadsheet.

Well, you’d think so, anyway.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Lisa Benson – WPWG)


(Peter Brookes)


(Heng Kim Song – Cartoon Arts Intl)

Three cartoonists from three different countries — the US, the UK and Singapore — all agree that sanctions are a useless and inadequate response to Russia’s invasion.

It reminds me of the middle-aged women who used to write letters to the editor during Vietnam, beating the drums for war and secure in the knowledge that they were both too old and the wrong sex to be drafted to go fight it.

When you have that kind of distance from the fighting, you can see the issues more clearly.


Which, in turn, reminds me of this classic cartoon from Victor Borograd (Cartoon Movement), a Russian, but one with a good sense of who’s getting the bullets and who’s getting the praise.

Last night, I watched “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” a 1968 rendition of the Crimean War worth watching for the animated bumpers alone.

John Gielgud plays Lord Raglan, commander of British forces in Crimea, who keeps referring to the Russians as “The French,” because he’s old and a little dotty, and that’s who he had fought 40 years ago.

It’s something that Raglan really did, making him a walking example of how generals tend to fight the last war instead of the one in front of them, which Britain then demonstrated again a few decades later with the botched horrors of the Boer Wars.

The Crimean War was one of the first wars fought with an audience, you might say: The development of telegraphs and railroads meant Raglan and his merry bunch were, if not directly under London’s thumb, at least unable to screw things up in solitude.

Though communication wasn’t fast enough for the Home Crowd to kibitz specific battles while they were in progress, the way we can now.


This Brendan Loper panel from the New Yorker seems part of a burst on Facebook and Twitter of people who were epidemiologists last week suddenly morphing into experts in international affairs this week.

People should be finding out why the Western powers seem confident in sanctions, just as they should have been finding out why the CDC is confident about vaccinations and masks.

But, at this stage, with Russian tanks rolling, bombs dropping and people dying, I think it’s fair to ask critics of sanctions which alternative they would prefer: Watching Ukraine die, or waging an all out war?


Not, mind you, that we’re very good at weighing the consequences of our social theories. As Jen Sorensen notes, the attack on Roe v Wade is, as people have predicted for decades, a cover for a more sweeping effort to ban birth control entirely.

It’s been a sneaky campaign, with nonsense like the Hobby Lobby decision placing other people’s religious beliefs ahead of personal freedom.  But recent history makes it easy enough to imagine a world in which we cannot prevent pregnancy, we cannot terminate pregnancy, but still we refuse to provide medical care or food to the babies who inevitably result.

There’s nothing frightening about people with such inhospitable, uncharitable, illogical beliefs. The trees are full of nuts and always have been.

But it’s frightening to see them gain power.


Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?

Shrove Tuesday is coming up, the introduction to Lent. Stephen Collins has not just a lament, but a sad lament — very worst kind — for the traditional pancake made on that day and sometimes featured in a footrace, which, he likely agrees, is the limit to how jolly it should ever be.


As you see, it’s never been very serious, but, he points out, the one-time humility of that plain little pancake has long since been transformed into overindulgence, totally wiping out the ceremonial point of the meal.

It’s a shame, since all good Christians in this country know that the true meaning of the final Tuesday before Lent is to get as drunk as you possibly can and show your bare breasts to random strangers in exchange for beads.

They must not have Bibles in England or they’d know that.


First Dog on the Moon offers us this much-needed dose of good news, cooperation and heroism.

Magpies, like their cousins the crows, are noted for stealing shiny objects, but they’re also known for having the capacity to replicate human speech, making them interesting to have around as long as you keep your shiny objects out of sight.

Moreover, as First Dog describes, magpies, unlike human beings, are not ashamed to follow their instincts and take care of each other.

It’s now illegal to keep them as pets in this country and I suspect elsewhere, which is too bad because, while they’re not as verbose or colorful as parrots, they’re far less destructive and less apt to catch a cold and pitch over dead.

However, it’s not hard to get them to come eat in your yard, as long as you don’t try to grab them and strap little tracking devices on them.

Would that we could all work out a deal like that.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Clear View from the Peanut Gallery

  1. ‘But recent history makes it easy enough to imagine a world in which we cannot prevent pregnancy, we cannot terminate pregnancy, but still we refuse to provide medical care or food to the babies who inevitably result.’
    It happened in Romania in real life, under the Ceausescus. Impoverished parents gave up their babies to the State, which put them into institutions where they were neglected and died, reducing the surplus population.

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