CSotD: Asymmetrical War on a Darkling Plain

I’m going to have to be frugal with cartoons this coming week, given that most are either Halloween gags, which will become obsolete after tomorrow, or election cartoons, which will stop being pertinent after Tuesday. (Update: I can’t read a calendar. See comments.)

Kevin Kallaugher combines the two in a way that works well today, because we’re seeing the New Civil War break out, and so he provides a combination of two non-holiday holidays, one which is frightful for fun and one which is frightful for real.

The other difference between the two being that Halloween will be over Monday night, but, regardless of what happens Tuesday, the New Civil War, an asymmetrical conflict with no defined battlefields and no clear goals, will continue indefinitely, the insurgent leaders having declared before the votes are counted that they will accept nothing but victory, regardless of the final tallies.


Kal spoke in generalities, but Jeff Danziger (Counterpoint) has the advantage of having created his commentary after the attack on Paul Pelosi, which gives him the opportunity to address a specific event in this war.

On one hand, it’s easy to trace an escalation from the Anti-Semitic march in Charlottesville, in which Trump cited good people on both sides and his allies remained mostly silent, to January 6, which should have shocked the nation but was hailed by the insurgents either as a heroic moment or as something that didn’t actually happen at all.

The attempted assassination of Nancy Pelosi doesn’t fit a particular pattern, but has called forth a more disturbing response. When John Kennedy was murdered, the notion that it could be the act of a single deranged person seemed so unreal that people invented vast conspiracies out of rumors and coincidences, in order for it to make sense.

By the time Bobby was killed, we were more prepared to accept the crazed lunatic explanation, but even the politicians who were happy enough to see him, or Martin, dead had the decency not to say so aloud.

We were, however, not in a state of civil war then, and, if Danziger misjudges the current situation, it is in assuming the elephant will, in fact, look back in guilt or regret over what his overheated rhetoric has wrought.

The answer to “Have you, at long last, no sense of decency?” is derisive laughter.

“There’s no room for violence anywhere, but we’re going to send her back to be with him in California,” Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin joked, to the cheers of the crowd.

To be sure, and despite some progressive voices to the contrary, several Republican leaders have condemned the attack, but they seem to take the position that it just happened, not that it was the foreseeable result of years of hatred — not policy disagreement but personal hatred — directed specifically at Nancy Pelosi, by talk show hosts and even by Republican politicians themselves.

Granted, it may be unfair to judge all Republicans by Marjorie Taylor Greene, who CNN reports had called for Pelosi’s death in 2019:

So, to be fair, we won’t include those Republicans who have stood up to and renounced her hateful rhetoric.

Just those who have cheered her, promoted her, or remained silent.


Clay Jones openly casts blame for the attack on the GOP’s extremist rhetoric, and, in the essay accompanying his cartoon, lays out his accusation in stark fury. He makes a solid case.


Meanwhile, Dave Granlund notes Elon Musk’s promise of a town square for free speech, and, whether it’s a purposeful intent to turn Twitter over to lunatics or simply a result of having fired the gatekeepers, this first test of human decency has yielded very little.

The platform is festooned with hateful theories from paranoid moonbats about what happened, why, and how come it’s the fault of woke Democrats.

If the Kennedy assassination happened today, Jack Ruby would be Oswald’s only barrier to a seat in the Senate.

I’m still willing to give the SpaceX Cadet a little time to either get a grip on things or sell out to someone who can, but, at the moment, we can only wish Twitter were dominated by the comparatively sane, thoughtful, well-intentioned people Granlund depicts in his commentary.


Meanwhile, back in the classroom

With more fraught stories dominating the headlines, the fall in NAEP scores seems to have somewhat slipped under the radar, but Matt Davies notes the obvious, which is that the pandemic wreaked havoc on schools over the past couple of years and falling test scores were inevitable.

Mona Charen has a solid takedown on the topic at the Bulwark, noting that the chaos seems to have done damage to learning regardless of how individual school boards in individual states handled matters.

I certainly agree with her that, even if you could realistically expect the same results on Zoom that you get in the classroom, that assumes you’re sending kids home to where they have adequate high-speed access and enough equipment for more than one sibling to be in school at a time.

To which I would note that there is a reported “redlining” that results in people in poor neighborhoods paying the same amount for access dramatically, shockingly inferior to that delivered to people in nearby, more prosperous neighborhoods.

It may be more about poverty and infrastructure than race, but (A) those factors are often indistinguishable and (B) so the hell what?

That aside, I’ve long preached the greater problem, which Charen lays out thus:

There are various reasons given for this, but the one that pans out in the end is that other countries take education more seriously than we do, have more respect for both teachers and students than we do and take more into consideration than where to stow the kids while Mom and Dad are at work.

I base that not only on having worked with schools for nearly 40 years, but on having sat as a reporter in school board meetings where educators carefully spelled out their needs and reasoning, after which members voted based on however they felt when they walked into the room.

Adam Zyglis spells it out more pragmatically: Our educational failure goes back a whole lot farther than two years.

And it impacts a lot more than scores on a piece of paper.


10 thoughts on “CSotD: Asymmetrical War on a Darkling Plain

  1. Only one week? If only! After that we have weeks of post-election mudslinging, video assault, and factual battery to go. Maybe I’ll limit my media to BBC Radio 4 Extra and a few piles of books.

  2. “Make sure to vote cartoons” will give way to “Look what happened” cartoons, but there won’t be a huge choice on Wednesday morning.

    As for recycling, there are times it makes sense. I’d call this one of them. Though I guess if he’d felt compelled to do each one from scratch, I’d have something to run on Wednesday.

  3. Yes, I’ve missed a week — election day is eight days after Halloween, not the day after. Wishful thinking on my part, since I’m already sick to death of the endless pre-election blathering on social media.

    It doesn’t change the fact that all cartoons anticipating the election will be pointless the day after, but it does offer the promise that cartoonists will come up with something other than pre-election materials during those eight days.

  4. Well, Mike, a little wishful thinking is perfectly understandable. Easpecially since the time change is looming too.

  5. Mike, Granlund does that with every cartoon. He only draws a public figure once (usually) and then recycles it forever. Don’t believe me? Google image his name, the name of any public figure (Putin, McConnell, Clinton, etc), and “cartoon” and see what comes up.
    I’m thinking this can’t be a secret or something he’s trying to hide since it’s for every cartoon.

    Bob Gorrell does it as well and probably isn’t trying to hide it. There are a few others who do it occasionally who are probably trying to hide it.

    Even if it’s your own art, I think at some point it stops being art if you just copy and paste every day.

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