CSotD: The Cruel War Rages

Patrick Blower cites the new Civil War, in which a divided country rages around a vestige of the old Civil War.

As noted here before, it was much easier when we had a geographical division based, for the most part, on a single, definable issue.

Even then, there were as many quarrels over why we were divided as there were things to be divided over. Yes, it was about slavery, as stated in the secession papers of those who left. But, at the beginning of the war, it was less about whether slavery should continue to exist than about whether it should be allowed to spread into new states and territories.

This not only allows the Lost Cause people to say that it was about states rights, but to point out Lincoln’s statement that he could tolerate slavery if that were the price of national unity. This not only ignores their own words in those secession statements, but one of Lincoln’s most famous pre-election speeches, in which he said the nation could not last permanently half-slave and half-free.

We might have stumbled along a little further before putting abolition to the test. The question today is how much further we can go divided not over such a clear issue but over the plain fact that we hate each other.

Not, mind you, that we ever honestly faced, and solved, the slavery issue. We freed the slaves into a divided nation in which they could be lynched in small numbers and slaughtered in large numbers and deprived of their rights across the board and we’re still, more than a century and a half later, arguing not over whether that was fair and just but over whether it had even happened at all.

It’s not just the barroom blowhards crawling out from under their rocks, either. We’ve got at least one serious presidential contender rewriting his state’s textbooks to teach and preserve the lies, and a significant number of voters supporting his twisted view of history.

I love Steve Brodner’s view of Trump and his legal problems, but I don’t believe for a moment that it’s true. Will he escape conviction? Probably not. But will his conviction do anything to change the minds of his followers? That seems even far less likely.

Ask yourself how John Brown would be remembered, had the South won the war or had it ended with some sort of armistice? He was properly tried, convicted and hanged, but became a hero in the eyes of those who agreed with his aims, even if they questioned his actions. His body may have lied a-mouldering in the grave, but his truth — their truth — went marching on.

Trump may legally be toast, but he will remain a hero to the MAGA crowd, whether as a living leader or a beloved martyr.

And while Blower may draw the sides arrayed around the Lincoln statue, that’s not how such wars are fought anymore.

Ron DeSantis spoke of a time when “we” — the good people — would have to start slitting throats of government workers and shooting migrants at the border. He seems to have been speaking figuratively, but you have to wonder if anyone was listening to him literally.

As Kal Kallaugher points out, the more evidence is arrayed against Trump, the more the Republicans cheer him on as their hero. And we’re not just counting up the poll numbers. Trump himself is luxuriating in the publicity, however much he may personally fear the jail cell.

As the old saying goes, “Just spell my name right.”

Meanwhile, those on his side of the battlefield are not even pretending to offer a counter to Trump’s disloyal actions, beyond a weak suggestion that maybe he believed he’d really won the election, despite the number of times he’d admitted he hadn’t, or that he took the advice of an attorney, despite the number of people who warned him of the illegality and ineffectiveness of his plans.

They aren’t trying to make a credible claim to their whataboutism, in which, as Mike Luckovich suggests, they simply drown out the evidence against Trump with half-baked accusations against Hunter Biden, claiming that unproven, irrelevant proof of his personal failings are the equivalent of Trump’s disloyal, official actions.

Repeatedly challenged to come up with some factual evidence backing their accusations, the GOP activists produced a witness who, instead, admitted that Hunter had never done more than make vague promises of parental involvement, and that there was no proof his father had ever entered into these alleged propositions. Nor does the time sequence nor evidence about US attitude towards Burisma back up the stories.

But Gary Varvel (Creators) counters by declaring that black is white, that hot is cold and that the witness backed up things that the witness could not, and did not, corroborate.

There is a point at which mistakes become lies. But that doesn’t matter if there is a point to be made.

Nor are all the troubling arguments sprouting from the same camp. Darrin Bell (KFS) joins in a drumbeat of continued criticism of Merrick Garland, even with the multi-point indictments in hand, for not having moved more quickly to get the former president into court and before a jury.

For the record, Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were stabbed to death June 12, 1994. OJ Simpson was arraigned less than a month later, on July 22. The trial began in January.

OJ walked free in October.

Be careful what you wish for.

There remains some hope, although, as the elephant in Pat Byrnes’ cartoon says, it sure isn’t coming from an expected corner.

Trump’s loyal lapdog, now a contender for the presidency, has decided to speak his mind, and he’s not alone: Trump’s former attorney general, previously noted for having truncated and misrepresented the Mueller Report, has emerged as a honest judge of Trump’s motives and actions, while Chris Christie has also begun to speak truth in an ocean of self-serving lies.

So far, they’ve done more to comfort the afflicted than they have to afflict the comfortable, and Trump continues to run away with the GOP nomination, despite the clear evidence against him, even from those who once carried his spittle-cup.

Buckle up. The war has barely started.

16 thoughts on “CSotD: The Cruel War Rages

  1. Mike, super annoying trying to read today’s piece while it jumps around my iPad’s screen while all the ads wave in my face. Different browsers don’t help. Getting very close now to intolerable! Also, ads trying to block my efforts to enter my name and email.

  2. The Blower cartoon promotes its own brand of false equivalency with the “defund the police” placard on the wrong side. It’s the snowflakes on the right who are demanding the obliteration of the F.B.I., the D.O.J. and the Capitol Police, not the Democrats.

    And I’d have lost a bet on your musical choice this morning, having guessed “The Cruel War” by Peter, Paul and Mary or Chad & Jill Stuart would’ve appeared, though I guess it wasn’t as specifically Civil War-referenced.

    1. Defund the Police is a leftwing slogan, and one much decried for its tone-deafness even by those who agree with community policing rather than strict enforcement.

      I had “The Cruel War” in mind, as the headline suggests, but the days in which women were sad spectators are well over.

      1. Defund the Police was a slogan, but it was never broadly adopted on the left and died quickly. Continuing to tie it to the “left” would be like tying “Hang Mike Pence!” to the right wing. It was a protest thing, it was never broadly held, and went away quick.

        The only reason it’s still a thing is the GOP keeps talking about it trying to hide the fact that they are actively calling for defunding federal law enforcement.

  3. Defund the Police was never a Democratic position like Stop the Steal has engulfed the Republicans. Additionally, it went away quickly in 2020 and the only thing propping it up is Republicans accusing Democrats of wanting to defund the police. This is particularly ironic since the GOP leadership (including Trump and McCarthy and various MTG types) regularly advocates defunding federal law enforcement.

    The fact is the Dems are most fighting for positive things such as the Child Tax Credit, protecting women’s reproductive health care, more investment in infrastructure, recreational drug reform, and promoting clean energy.

    To put DtP in as a poster for the center-left compared to Stop the Steal (which more than 50% of the GOP buys into) solely because you need to pretend both sides are all negative is lazy. And false.

  4. Gary Varvel doesn’t just black and white the issue, but he puts the testimony of Comer’s BOMBSHELL BURISMA WHISTLEBLOWER into the mouth of the Democrats to make it appear partisan.

    The GOP called Devon Archer to testify, claimed he was going to bury Hunter and Joe Biden, then when he said that Joe was never involved in Hunter’s business dealings went on TV to claim that Archer had PROVEN THE BIDEN CRIME FAMILY IS REAL!

    Varvel can’t admit that the GOP’s own witness said all they talked about was the weather, so he has to make it into a weak partisan defense. It is dishonest, and should be allowed about as much as ALIEN GIVES BIRTH TO ELVIS! should be on the front page of the Washington Post.

  5. After nearly two years of inaction, Garland appointed Jack Smith in November of 2022. In less than a year, Smith investigated and indicted Trump for his role in the attempted coup. This case could’ve been investigated, indicted, and tried a year earlier, long before the upcoming elections. But Garland and others were afraid of appearing partisan and hamstrung by bickering and inertia, and decided to focus only on the lowest hanging fruit: the Capitol rioters. They apparently didn’t even *begin* to investigate high-level connection to the fake electors scheme until the congressional hearings embarrassed them. To me, THAT – not the criticism of them – is what’s troubling.

    From Vanity Fair:

    “ The Post attributed the DOJ’s slow-walking to “a wariness about appearing partisan, institutional caution, and clashes over how much evidence was sufficient to investigate the actions of Trump and those around him.”


    Jonas Brothers Test How Well They Know Each Other

    High-ranking officials at the DOJ, including Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and FBI Director Christopher Wray remained wed to this approach “even as evidence emerged of an organized, weeks-long effort by Trump and his advisers before Jan. 6 to pressure state leaders, Justice officials, and Vice President Mike Pence to block the certification of Biden’s victory.”

    “A decision was made early on to focus DOJ resources on the riot,” one former Justice Department official familiar with internal debates over department strategy told the Post. “The notion of opening up on Trump and high-level political operatives was seen as fraught with peril. When Lisa [Monaco] and Garland came on board, they were fully onboard with that approach.”

    The strategy came even as Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C. during the early months of 2021, promised soon after the attack that prosecutors were “looking at all actors, not only the people who went into the building.”

    The approach generated dissension within DOJ ranks. The Post investigation revealed that “some prosecutors” below Garland and Monaco “chafed, feeling top officials were shying away from looking at evidence of potential crimes by Trump and those close to him.”

    Department employees tasked with putting together briefing materials for the attorney general and his deputy were told to steer clear of mentioning Trump or Trump allies. One former Justice official told the Post, “You couldn’t use the T word.”

    “You can take it to the extreme,” Peter Zeidenberg, who was part of a special counsel probe of the Bush White House in the 2000s, said of the department’s desire to avoid the appearance of political impropriety. “You work so hard not to be a partisan that you’re failing to do your job,” he told the Post.

    When the DOJ finally began investigating the fake elector scheme in early 2022, the bipartisan House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack was already conducting its own inquiry into top Trump officials and allies. The Post quoted a person familiar with internal DOJ discussions who “felt as though the department was reacting to the House committee’s work as well as heightened media coverage and commentary,” drawing attention to the scheme. “Only after they were embarrassed did they start looking,” the person said.”

  6. You allude to William Barr’s apparently principled criticism of Trump, in which he says Trump’s unfit to serve and should never be in the Oval Office again, without mentioning the other-shoe drop: Barr says he’d vote for him again. Because apparently Biden is just as unethical as Trump and his policies will destroy the country. I think there’s a lot of that happening on the right: they can’t stand Trump, and may even believe he’s guilty of all he’s accused, but they’re so terrified of the alternative (just look at the hellscape of low unemployment, easing inflation, renewed international respect, and historic infrastructure investment we’re suffering through!) that they’d vote him in.

    I’d like to give Varvel the benefit of the doubt and say he’s smart enough to know better, but after seeing his work for quite a while I’m beginning to think he might just be that stupid. Putting the words of the Republicans’ own star witness into the mouth of a representative Democrat isn’t just some broad cartoony metaphor, it’s an outright lie. Political cartoonists can have different perspectives on events, but they shouldn’t just invent them out of whole cloth (or straw). Varvel is bad at his job.

  7. “After nearly two years of inaction, Garland appointed Jack Smith in November of 2022. In less than a year, Smith investigated and indicted Trump for his role in the attempted coup.”

    And it should be pointed out that the only reason Garland did that (appointing a special prosecutor) was due to Trump announcing he was officially a candidate for president, believing that it would somehow shield him from investigations. As usual, Trump brought it on himself…thankfully. Had he not done that, we would still be waiting for Garland to do something, other than prosecute the low hanging fruit of those who invaded the Capitol.

  8. “The question today is how much further we can go divided not over such a clear issue but over the plain fact that we hate each other.”

    This. This right here. As far as the Civil War 2.0 is concerned, it’s not about policy anymore but the fact that we’ve come to despise one another. I don’t know about the rest of you, but as someone who’s LGBT I cannot reconcile with a political party that wants me, and others like me, wiped off the face of the Earth. When it comes to that point, how is it possible to reach across the aisle?

    1. Mike – THE issue of Patrick Blower’s cartoon false equivalency. Discussing the details falls into that trap and gives credence to it.

      There have always been kooks on both the right and the left. The issue today is which political party is lining up in near lock step with the kooks.

  9. Despite being a Civil War “buff” I had never heard all the lyrics to “John Brown’s Body.” Thanks for that.
    When he was arrested at Harper’s Ferry it was by US Army officers Robert E Lee and J.E.B. Stewart and a squad of US Marines.

  10. Regarding Geroge Walter’s statement: “There have always been kooks on both the right and the left. The issue today is which political party is lining up in near lock step with the kooks.”

    Amen, brother. Amen …

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