CSotD: Attention Must Be Paid

I used to see bumperstickers that said “If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention.” Haven’t seen one in awhile; perhaps it’s too late.

But Ann Telnaes has been paying attention enough to be concerned that CPAC held their latest conference in Budapest, where Hungarian autocrat Victor Orban — new hero of the far right — gave a keynote explaining, among other things, that the key to good governance is state-run media.

The speech was enough to make Rupert Murdoch blush, given that his favorite propagandist, Tuckyo Carlson, broadcast for a week from Hungary, doting over Europe’s most celebrated dictator.

So Telnaes asks us where CPAC might have held their 1938 conference and she didn’t need to expend a lot of fantasy: We did indeed have America First proto-fascists celebrating Germany’s rising star in those days.


Granted, the CPAC Convention has long been compared to the bar scene in Star Wars, but we’re past the point where making fun of them is effective, and Telnaes takes a wiser direction in comparing the rise of fascism today with the rise we didn’t take seriously soon enough in the 1930s.

As they say, if you’ve ever wondered what you would have done in Germany in 1938, you’re doing it now.

And if it doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you’re not paying attention.


Stephan Pastis seems to be paying attention, too, because he has been ramping up the social commentary in Pearls Before Swine (AMS), and yesterday’s strip documents the slow slide we’ve made due to a Pollyanna belief that everyone will behave responsibly and so there’s no need for guard rails and seatbelts.

Each panel could spark an entire essay, but the strip is effective in demonstrating the total effect of believing “It Can’t Happen Here,” whether you think that’s a book by Sinclair Lewis or a song by the Mothers of Invention.

Both used the title as an ironic warning, and Pearls ends with a specific, if slightly parodic, example of what happens when you take the term to heart:

It happens here.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Bob Gorrell – Creators)


(Steve Breen – Creators)

While it would be unfair to lump Bob Gorrell in with Victor Orban’s goal of captive media, he does seem to typify a form of partisan opposition that simply says no. In this case, lead time may have left him hanging, because he certainly drew the cartoon before the first cargo planes bringing in vast quantities of foreign-made infant formula arrived.

But none of the people squalling over the formula shortage have explained what “Biden policies” brought it about. We’ve had rules against potentially toxic food contamination for a century, the move towards monopolization of industry certainly predates Biden and there’s also the argument that it was Trump who re-organized our trade agreement with Canada in a way that prevented their formula from coming here.

Meanwhile, while Gorrell might not have anticipated more pallets of formula by far than were — by law — stocked at immigration centers in Texas arriving yesterday, he surely must have known that, when a “Biden Policy” to fund more formula was laid before the House of Representatives, Republicans did their best to kill it, voting 192-12 to let babies starve.

Just as they voted later that same week in an attempt to kill a “Biden Policy” to investigate price-gouging by gasoline companies.

Or, to put it in less negative terms, they have voted, repeatedly, to keep their partisan talking points alive.

Meanwhile, I chose Steve Breen’s cartoon because he is not a relentless conservative, but has joined in promoting the same self-fulfilling prophecy that people don’t like Joe Biden.

Which reminds me that my kids happily ate broccoli until they were old enough to learn from their little friends that they should hate it.

It’s bad enough that rightwingers who ignored Trump’s inability to drink one-handed or walk down a ramp without stumbling or speak in coherent sentences even when he was reading from a TelePrompter, are piling on “Sleepy Joe” in defiance of his clearly sharp, physically fit status.

But when cartoonists from both sides pronounce Biden’s presidency dead in the water, I have to wonder who they think the Republicans will put up in 2024 as a better choice? Trump Redux? Marco Rubio? Greg Abbott? Ron De Santis?

Easy cartooning, yes, but I hope that’s not their goal.


Our leaders are not the only show-offs. Norwegian cartoonist Herbjørn Skogstad notes Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s opposition to admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO, while Vladimir Putin cheers his obstructionism from the sidelines.

I’m not overly concerned: Turkey could, indeed, exercise a veto over the move, but, as this article points out, it would face major opposition from a large portion of Europe, if not most of the world. It seems more like Erdogan trying to play the Big Man with a flurry of anti-Kurdish bluster for the hometown crowd.


Speaking of that fellow cheering from the sidelines, former UK Intelligence Officer Michael Steele has reported that Putin has very serious health problems and may be on the verge of being ousted in light of his failures in Ukraine.

By sheer coincidence, I’m quite sure, Michael Ramirez (Creators) ran this cartoon reminding us that, six years ago, Steele was involved in compiling a disputed report that was uncomplimentary to Donald J. Trump. (UPDATE: Ramirez may be referencing this re-picking of the dossier)


Juxtaposition of Nit-Picking

(Paul Fell)

(La Cucaracha – AMS)

As long as I’m criticizing the right, let’s pick a few nits on this side of the aisle.

Fell is not the only person who has compared eggs and chickens and fetuses and babies, but the analogy doesn’t stand up for two reasons:

One is that most eggs you see today are not fertilized. Even the Christian Taliban in Oklahoma are not claiming unfertilized human eggs are people.

However, they are claiming that fertilized (human) eggs are.

It’s a religious, not scientific, belief, and not even a religious belief that comports with the Bible.

But I suspect it’s more persuasive to note that these folks indeed have banning birth control picked out as their next project.


As for the story arc in La Cucaracha, I have two words: “Elian Gonzalez.” Maybe a couple more.

Approaching Latinos/Hispanics/Chicanos/Tejanos as a single demographic is political suicide — for either party.


2 thoughts on “CSotD: Attention Must Be Paid

  1. On Lalo Alcaraz’s cartoon, I wonder how I have managed to encounter Latino-Americans who voted for Trump and Alcaraz hasn’t. Cuban-Americans aside — they have their own unique perspective — those Trumpistas I’ve known were able to ignore Trump’s anti-Latino fulminating on account of their traditional Catholic upbringing raising anti-abortionism above all other issues.

    Entrepreneurism is also a common trait among some of the Latinos I’ve met. If they had wanted to live in a more leftist state, there are several Spanish-speaking nations they could have chosen instead of the U.S. Democrats who think Latinos are naturally liberal could be in for some disappointment.

  2. To add to what Paul B said, there seem to be a lot of Latino voters who seem to think there is no middle ground between Ayn Rand and Castro. The smallest social welfare program is Communism! As an election officer here in northern Virginia I see the same with elderly Vietnamese voters. They fled a Communist dictatorship and eat up the Republican “everything that doesn’t benefit the rich is Socialism” bit hook, line, and sinker.

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