CSotD: Snapshot at a Moving Target

Given the late-breaking nature of Merrick Garland’s address yesterday afternoon, and the later revelation by the Washington Post that the target of the DOJ search warrant included nuclear secrets, it’s hard to evaluate the cartoons and other commentary that has emerged this morning.

Still, opinions will be set, some in stone, by these takes, no matter how premature.

Clay Bennett (CTFP) has not overreached: We are indeed in the grip of a toxic combination of hostility and delusion, and, if the delusion is only metaphorically a type of drunkenness, the hostility manifested itself quite literally in an armed attack on an FBI office in Cincinnati by a man apparently taken in by the lies of the Magasphere.

He paid for his delusions with his life, and his death is both a warning and a tragedy: This isn’t a game, and the people whipping up disinformation and hostility are going to wind up with more blood on their hands than his.


Pedro X. Molina (Counterpoint) creates a two-panel Rake’s Progress tracing the Republican Party’s Dorian Gray descent.

This seems partisan, but it stands up to examination: Joe McCarthy was a bully and an extremist with a falsified resume as a war hero, and the John Birch Society had a paranoid view of the Soviet threat, but they couldn’t begin to match the exoplanetary ignorance of Marjorie Peachtreedish Greene or the breathtaking insanity of Q-Anon.

Molina is hardly off-base to depict the GOP has having embraced extremists, while, on the other side, though both conservatives and centrists may wish the Squad would moderate their idealistic demands, they can only attack their degree of pragmatism, not their degree of sanity.


Scott Stantis (Counterpoint) frames the accusation bluntly, and, if it’s premature to judge everyone’s response to the DOJ search and upcoming warrant release, it’s certainly not too soon to question the Republican’s shifting stance on respect for the law, because it’s not simply the obvious hypocrisy of denouncing “Defund the Police” one day and calling to disband the FBI the next.

There were also the adamant declarations of support for police that turned into abandonment when the Jan 6 mob attacked the Capitol Police. Not only was there barely a chirp of support from the right side of the aisle, but they nitpicked over how Brian Sicknick died and seem equally blasé about the officers who took their own lives in the wake of the riot.


Again, it may not be fair to judge this Michael Ramirez (Creators) cartoon in light of what we’ve learned over the past 12 hours about the targets of the search, though his cynical assumption that DOJ would issue a search warrant without a serious intent treads a line between partisanship and disloyalty.

But go cry on Janet Reno’s shoulder. A certain degree of partisan pile-on comes with the job, and Garland is showing himself to be a big boy in his ability to respond with the kind of quiet insistence that made David Carradine’s Kwai Chang Caine so popular.


However, while it may be within reasonable bounds to accuse the DOJ of overreacting to a lack of cooperation with previous efforts, Dana Summers (Tribune) might have held back on making an accusation this specific until he had at least a tiny shred of evidence in hand.


It’s inevitable that openly, deliberately dishonest claims will emerge on social media, such as the phony picture that went around claiming a far larger turnout for Trump’s recent Wisconsin rally.

The kind of screwball frauds once batted around in barrooms have now found a larger megaphone.


But Kirk Walters (KFS) is not the only professinal commentator pushing a clearly false narrative about the boost of IRS hiring included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

The notion that new enforcement agents will target the middle class and small business may be defensible as “spin,” though stated intentions are to send them after the tax-dodging plutocrats.

It’s fair to express doubts over stated intentions.

But the IRS simply is not hiring 87,000 auditors and enforcement agents. The agency has been understaffed for several years, thanks to cutbacks in financing, and the new hires will be spread throughout.


If Joe Heller and I can know this, why can’t the folks at Fox & Friends also figure it out?

Why are rightwing cartoonists pressing the notion that the hiring is all in enforcement?

This “mistake” has nothing to do with how long Merrick Garland held off on yesterday’s announcement. The information has been out there for days.

To reference the classic commedia line, are they fools or are they knaves?


Bob Gorrell (Creators) even trots out — in all seriousness — a piece of whataboutism so classic that it’s become a laugh line for progressive wiseasses: “What about her e-mails?”


And the obvious response to “What about her emails?” is that Clinton sat for 11 hours of grilling by a congressional committee and answered all their questions without taking the Fifth Amendment a single time.

Not only did she answer each and every one of their questions, but they didn’t come up with anything.

Y’still wanna play “Whatabout”?


Now, having created a spoofed headline, let’s look at a real one, from June 20, 1953.

There will likely always be questions about the Rosenbergs’ guilt, particularly hers, but back in the America the MAGAs long to recreate, there was little tolerance for people who mishandled nuclear secrets. Or any top secret information, for that matter.

And if you loyally cling to the notion that, golly, it was just a slip up, read up on how well the system of secrecy is safeguarded.

You can’t accidentally screw this up.

So, y’still wanna play “Whatabout”?


Because, speaking of who know what when, this poll was taken well before anyone knew Trump was suspected of carting off nuclear secrets.

Let’s see how those bars shift as more facts emerge.


We’ll see. Jeff Stahler (AMS) is among a crowd to point out this other form of whataboutism, but taking the Fifth is very much within Trump’s rights.

And if he only took it 400 times, perhaps it was because he was only on the stand for half the time Clinton was in front of the committee.

Stay tuned. This ain’t over.


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