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CSotD: Mixed Bag

Between countless variations on Putin painting himself into a corner and even more versions of people slapping other people, political cartoonists seem determined to see if they can boost Sturgeon’s Law beyond 90 percent.

However, there’s still some interesting and creative work out there.

 

Overseas cartoonists, for instance, have been having a field day with Putin’s disastrous failure in Ukraine, with Andy Davey laying out the basic problem of a dictator who only wants to hear what he wants to hear.

 

Gary Clement (CartoonArtsInt) notes that Putin has curated his advisory group to make sure he only gets the feedback he wants, and, in a world where people die of poisoning, or from falling out of windows, or from being shot in the street, it’s hardly surprising that he gets the feedback he wants, rather than the kind from which he might actually benefit.

 

Christian Adams even manages to wring a laugh out of the situation, though the humor is entirely based on an arrogant autocrat being hoist with his own petard rather than in anything his incompetence and mismanagement are accomplishing in the field.

It’s hard to sort through the combination of happy talk and accusations coming from both sides, which is standard in wartime but comes at us a lot faster in this interconnected world.

Still, it’s plain that the Russians are committing atrocities as they retreat, which certainly puts the lie to the notion that they consider Ukrainians to be their fellow countrymen.

As noted here before, German soldiers massacred Polish civilians in the early days of WWII. Not only did it not come after years of frustrating struggle, but it was also not the hard-core forces, but, rather, average troops. Attributing atrocities to actual party-member Nazis ignores the fact that average people will do horrific things when asked to.

Which is why, in this country, we’ve got people saying that, if you’ve ever wondered what you’d have done in 1930s Germany,  you’re doing it now.

Sarah Palin has announced her intention to run for Congress, which inspired Ann Telnaes to remind us that Palin’s selection as McCain’s vice-presidential candidate was the first indicator of that little man who eventually sprung fully-formed like Minerva from the skull of Jupiter, only bringing us not wisdom but brutish, stubborn stupidity.

It’s also a reminder that Palin came on the scene at a time when McCain was viewed even by opponents as the “maverick,” an honest man who might have different ideas than yours but would stand for the right.

Until Palin opened her mouth and revealed herself to be an uninformed, blathering nitwit, successfully mocked by Tina Fey in a manner that revealed her incapacity and strongly suggested McCain’s lack of independent judgment, a blunder that led the team to a loss, by electoral vote, of more than 2 to 1.

Well, that was then and this is now.

Ionesco based his absurdist play “Rhinoceros” on the growth of Nazism in his native Romania. The first rhinoceros to storm through town is seen with horror, but the next few are not so bad and, eventually, everyone except the lead actor has voluntarily, joyfully transformed into a rhinoceros, and they attempt to persuade him to join them.

Look around and count the rhinoceri who have stormed through the halls of Congress in the past eight years.

At least Telnaes remembers the horror with which we greeted that first one.

 

Will we see another in the White House? Mike Luckovich (AMS) notes the incredible brass with which Republicans attack Hunter Biden for, as near as can be told so far, nepotism, a sin that may have benefited Trump’s children even more, while Trump himself only overcame his own blundering incompetence with his father’s financial backing.

And, as Luckovich notes, anyone accusing Hunter Biden of indiscretion has to ignore blabbermouth Trump’s wandering off with classified material, something Hunter Biden has not been accused of.

In fact, it’s hard to determine exactly what Hunter Biden is being accused of, beyond being named Hunter Biden.

 

In Rhinoceros, two intellectuals argue over whether that first monster was a one-horned rhinoceros or a two-horned rhinoceros, when the point is that it has trampled a woman’s cat to death, not the structure of its nose.

Similarly, Dave Whamond points out the trampling of education under the hateful rule of Ron DeSantis, and how little the details matter compared to the ultimate outcome.

I don’t know whether DeSantis has one horn or two, but I do know that the more that people decide to become like him, the more our children and our nation will suffer.

The worst part being not that people are being transformed into rhinoceroses, but that they already contained rhinoceroses and had simply been previously constrained from letting them loose by an anachronistic thing called “common decency.”

 

Amid all this cynical realism, a bit of hope. Matt Wuerker (Politico) points out the illogic of the voter supressionist tactic of forcing people to show up in person, with identification, at fewer places, to vote.

He’s right, that private industry is able to set security standards for on-line services. Government could do the same, if turning out a full, honest vote were its goal.

It is silly to pretend otherwise, and even sillier since Republican attempts to track down voter fraud have been like Pooh and Piglet tracking down heffalumps — they wander in a circle tracking down only themselves.

The good news is that a federal judge has struck down major portions of Florida’s election laws, noting that “”For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents.”

The bad news is that his ruling will be appealed to higher courts that seem unsympathetic to the problem, and, ultimately, will likely be ruled on by the same SCOTUS that gutted the Voters Rights Act.

We’re headed back to the beginning, but without Earl Warren or Hugo Black or Felix Frankfurter or William O. Douglas or Robert H. Jackson or Tom C. Clark.

And if we can’t straighten it out by 2024, the federal troops that are sent in this time may — to paraphrase Daley’s famous blunder — be there not to enforce order but to preserve disorder.

 

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