The ethical issues around Clarence Thomas are rising with the revelation by Pro Publica that not only did he accept expensive vacations from a GOP activist who also supported Ginni Thomas’s efforts to overthrow the government, but he took money from him as well in the form of having the billionaire “buy” Thomas’s mother’s home, fixing it up and letting her continue to live there.
There are a number of cartoons on the topic, but I particularly like Ann Telnaes’ approach, because, while she has a prodigious talent for absurd, insulting satire, she chooses here to understate by suggesting that Thomas is built on a base of unethical money, that his greed is a vital part of his makeup.
Sometimes the situation doesn’t require much exaggeration to shock the conscience.
Then again, sometimes exaggeration is called for and, moreover, wanted.
I say “wanted” because, while I’ve never discussed Dianne Feinstein with Matt Wuerker (Politico), I suspect he has been in agreement with her for years, whether or not his journalistic ethics make the term “fan” appropriate.
In my experience, losing faith in someone you have cared about and trusted can bring out some anger and, in commentary, can sharpen your criticism.
Or maybe not. Whatever his motivations, taking on a deeply respected, extremely popular senator calls for a stronger statement than criticizing a Supreme Court Justice who has never been much liked in the first place.
Feinstein needs to step down, not simply because her repeated illnesses have kept her from performing her duties on the Justice Committee but because she has had issues of age and an apparently fading ability to focus on her overall work.
And the bedroom slippers are a nice touch.
Juxtaposition of the Day
Speaking of fallen idols, the report of the Dalai Lama kissing a small child and then asking him to “suck my tongue” brought a shocked response around the world.
Zyglis ties it in with reports of sexual assaults by Catholic priests, sarcastically suggesting that it might be covered up with the same “pass the trash” strategy that has shifted corrupt priests to other parishes where their reputations are not known.
Obviously, that couldn’t happen with the Dalai Lama, whom Zapiro compares to the head of the Catholic Church. Silly as the fake photo of the Pope in a parka was, though, it was harmless, while Zapiro’s charge cuts deeply into the Dalai Lama’s reputation and standing.
However, Stephane Peray, who is both a cartoonist and a Thailand-based international collector of native art, posted this clarification on social media.
It could be argued that the Dalai Lama should have known how local the expression is — as Peray says, it’s not even common throughout Tibet — and his staff also should have hurried to make things clear.
But it’s also an example of the dangers of perhaps being too eager to uncover feet of clay.
We’ve all heard the journalistic advice, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out,” which guards against trusting a single source. Maybe we need to add another one: “If your uncle says he’s got your nose, look in the mirror.”
On the other hand, we all hate Meghan, Guy Venables assures us, and so we’re free to hate her for wanting to attend the coronation or, as things change, deciding to stay home. Not, you will note, that he’s depicting Britain’s Best and Brightest here.
I don’t understand the Royal Family. I understand tradition, of course, and even a sense of ownership, given that they live on the public teat.
Still, if one of them — and one of them not in a particularly straight line of succession — decides to drop out, well, we survived a change of Darrins in Bewitched and the departure of Shelley Long from Cheers and it seems like the British could get over Harry deciding to step off the royal merry-go-round.
I suppose it might be easier if he were giving helicopter tours of Catalina Island while she ran a local children’s theater rather than the pair of them writing books and producing movies, but it can’t be easy to cut back on a royal lifestyle.
In any case, this whole coronation thing sounds like a problem for Carolyn Hax: “My brother is getting crowned king and I want to go, but my family insists that I mustn’t bring my wife …”
Sigh. I suppose a country capable of getting over itself wouldn’t have voted for Brexit.
I really like Christian Adams’ commentary on the intelligence leak, for a couple of reasons.
We’re seeing a lot of cartoons calling the accused a game-playing kid, and people with military experience have countered this by pointing out that, whatever the shortcomings of this particular young man, we entrust young people with a lot in the military — including risking their lives — and the vast majority of them come through just fine.
And Adams doesn’t suggest that the leak is Biden’s fault, only that it is his problem. He’s right on both counts.
Finally today, Ed Koren was a constant presence in the VT/NH corner of the world, as was Tomie dePaola, who died a few years ago, also in his 80s, and has been awarded a postage stamp.
And George Booth was 96 and Al Jaffee was 102. It’s a fact of life that the older you get, the fewer people there are who are older than you.
Fiona Kautauskas points out one grim takeaway from the whole mortality thing, which is that we have an obligation to leave the place a little better than we found it, and she suggests we haven’t done such a good job of that.
But Ed Koren and Tomi daPaolo and George Booth and Al Jaffee did, and younger people have younger heroes who still have time to brighten the corner where they live.
That Koren cartoon above is mentioned but not shown in a report I wrote back in 2009 of a presentation at Dartmouth featuring some of our regional cartoonists: Jules Feiffer, Ed Sorel, Jeff Danziger and Ed Koren. I’ve linked to it before but I’ll link to it again now in honor of Koren.
But the quote I’ll lift from it is from Sorel:
It’s a mistake to ask four elderly gentlemen what new thing is coming along. How the hell would we know? There will be other things that come along and nobody will know what they are until after we’re dead.
However, he softened a bit, saying that younger cartoonists “will re-invent cartooning in their own way and will be able to find ways to make it pay.”