CSotD: Throwing the Challenge Flag

You may have to watch sports to know this, but Progressive Insurance is running a series of commercials in which people in normal disagreements get to throw a red challenge flag and see a replay to determine what really happened.

The appeal, of course, is how much we wish we could, despite the fact that the commercials — as in the NFL — are a mix of times the challenger was right and times the challenger was wrong. Nobody would ever throw the challenge flag expecting to be proven wrong.

For instance, there’s no reason to throw the challenge flag on this Chip Bok (Counterpoint) cartoon, because there is no question but that he’s wrong: There is no provision that allows any member of either party to vacate the Speaker’s chair.

The rule is that any representative can move for a vote to vacate the chair. You don’t need to see a replay to establish that simple fact.

You also shouldn’t need an independent assessment to recognize the futility of the move, but here’s a good explanation of how unlikely it is that a motion to vacate would succeed.

On the other hand, McCarthy’s narrow majority, and his dubious control of that majority, does suggest that anyone who wanted to stop the clock could do so by making the motion and then demanding a role call vote.

Not that anybody wants to challenge that analysis and have to sit through 15 replays demonstrating McCarthy’s inability to control his caucus, though, as Reliable Resources reports, it was Must See TV as it occurred.

NFL coaches are only allowed to throw the flag twice in a game. Perhaps McCarthy should have held out for something similar.

Juxtaposition of the Day

(Lisa Benson — Counterpoint)

(Gary Varvel — Creators)

But I’d be willing to toss the challenge flag on either of these responses to Biden’s visit to the Southern Border.

Conservatives have been badgering the president to visit the border, despite opposition arguments that it would prove to be nothing more than a photo op, and now Benson accuses him of a photo op.

Meanwhile, Varvel echoes rightwing claims that the Border Patrol put their best foot forward and that the president saw nothing and learned nothing.

These challenges are more nuanced that simple did-he-or-didn’t-he, because you might have to prove that Trump’s five visits to the border as president were less carefully orchestrated and that, indeed, he came away knowing things he hadn’t known before.

Which might lead to replaying the visit of Mexican President Lopez-Obrador to the Trump White House, during which they kept to discussion of Trump’s new, improved trade agreement and studiously avoided border issues, and comparing it to the visit to Biden’s White House, where they announced Mexico’s commitment to spending $1.5 billion to enhance border protection.

It might also bleed into the point that Biden’s stop at the border was part of a trip to Mexico City to confer with Lopez-Obrador and Canadian PM Trudeau, during which the White House emphasized Biden and Lopez-Obrador’s discussions of border issues:

As you can see, it would be a great deal more complicated than deciding whether a receiver got both feet down in bounds.

But at least it would matter, as opposed to the challenge flags being hurled overseas in

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

(Rod Emmerson)

(Graeme MacKay)

(Morten Morland)

The Civilian Formerly Known as the Prince’s book, Spare, comes out today, and I’ll confess I decided I didn’t care enough to drop $20 on it, but the sturm-und-drang among British and British-adjacent cartoonists has been both unavoidable and irresistible. A single challenge flag would hardly be sufficient.

In fact, all three of these cartoonists qualify as British-adjacent. Emmerson is a New Zealander and MacKay a Canadian, which elevates the question of WGASA to why they GAS at all.

And Morland is British, but a Norwegian immigrant, which perhaps suggests that you need some level of critical distance to wonder what all the fuss is about.

Plenty of born-and-bred British cartoonists have been less dubious, with a great number standing up against Harry and Meghan in defense of reverence for the monarchy.

Though, dear lord, it’s far from universal, and this review from the Guardian is even-handed in criticizing both the outdated concept and Harry’s need to spill the beans. It’s also quite entertaining and won’t cost you $20.

In fact, that lead paragraph is worth the twenty bucks, since it very briefly explains the central issue, and throwing the challenge flag on her assessment would be less a red flag on the ground than a red cape to any number of bulls.

Or, as Stephen Dedalus put it shortly before being punched in the face, “Green rag to a bull,” and, across the Irish Sea, Martyn Turner offers the notion that Dublin would do well to have such a lovely, pointless distraction from things that matter a great deal more.

But reading more deeply into that Guardian review confirms what — aside from all the monarchist/royalist nonsense — keeps me tuned into Harry’s journey, because she makes it quite clear that the book is influenced by his time in therapy, and, as the father, stepfather and grandfather of divorced children, I have an interest in the personal side of the public spectacle, not only for Harry and William but for their mother and her brother, who spoke movingly of her, and their lives as children of divorce, at her death.

For that matter, Meghan is also a child of divorce, which likely works to Harry’s benefit.

Still, there’s the issue of gaining perspective and a separate issue of how you handle it.

The book sounds like one of those letters therapists encourage their patients to write, which wise therapists then advise them to burn. Patti Davis, daughter of a president, wrote a column in which she wished that she had never written the book which, at the moment, must have felt therapeutic, and Harry may feel the same way about his book, at some point in the future.

One hopes so, anyway, for his sake, not any other.

I can’t leave on such a downer note, so I’ll summon my Irish-American sarcasm to declare independence of the Crown, with a song that has gotten people punched in the face by humorless listeners regardless of their loyalties.

One thought on “CSotD: Throwing the Challenge Flag

  1. Off-topic, but I thought Mike would like to know.

    Today’s link to the Guardian article resulted in a yearly subscription transaction. The Guardian deserves some of the credit for reminding me, “You’ve read 14 articles in the last year,” but Mike deserves most of the credit for repeatedly reminding his readers how financially difficult journalism is and how without financial support, journalism loses its ability to remain independent.

    I also credit part of today’s transaction to The Guardian for refraining from using Pay Walls. I find reminders of past usage more conducive to future payments than reminders of unprivileged status. I think Wikipedia successfully used similar tactics to The Guardian’s to access my wallet during its last drive. Hats off to both.

    Thanks, Mike, for making me aware of the plight of the journalistic profession, and thanks again for not letting me forget it.

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