CSotD: Spin, lies and foolish errors

Sometimes it’s easy to call out a cartoonist. In this case, given that, in his profile statement at Counterpoint, Mike Beckom boasts of deliberately insulting people and being insensitive to their feelings, and styles himself as “not politically correct” at his Twitter page, it’s not out of bounds to assume his mockery of Hawaiian culture is intentional.

As for his declaration that the Hawaiian people hate Joe Biden, in the last presidential election, the Hawaiian people favored the Biden/Harris ticket with 63.7% of the vote over 34.3% for Trump/Pence.

It’s not hard, in the wake of a disaster, to find people complaining about official response, but you have to stretch to turn the usual round of bitching into an overall condemnation.

To be fair, Beckom is in line with other conservatives in ignoring what Biden said about his grief over the deaths of his wife and child and focusing, instead, on some comments about house fires. That part is spin, and the price Biden often pays for speaking off the cuff.

But the mockery of Hawaiian culture is minstrel show degradation that lines up with Beckom’s boast of being a politically incorrect knuckle-dragger, and the value of the cartoon lies in demonstrating how toxic things can get, in order to establish a floor from which we can talk about spin and errors instead.

Eric Allie (Counterpoint), for instance, doesn’t descend into racism or personal insults in calling reports connecting current hurricane, wild fire and other environmental disasters with climate change deliberate lies.

It’s a funny kind of spin that Fox, Newsmax and other rightwing outlets brag about their massive audience size and reach while exempting themselves from being “mainstream.”

But it’s less offensive than astonishing that Allie is putting climate denialism above the long-established judgment of nearly every expert who has weighed in on the topic.

There’s a point at which ignoring clear and obvious evidence stops being “spin” and slides into deliberate dishonesty. An offense against logic, though nothing personal.

Lisa Benson employs spin more generally, to insist against most economic indicators that Bidenomics is a bad thing.

Again, Biden invites a bit of this through his own spin, pumping some hot air into his declarations of how well things are going. Fact checkers frequently find it necessary to add some context and dial back the claims a bit, but stop short of calling them false.

It opens him to spin, though Benson’s accusation is so vague as to qualify more as simple opposition than as an actual counterargument.

Ditto with Bob Gorrell (Creators)‘s piece, which employs Herman’s Principle — “I know you are but what am I?” — with such vagueness that it’s hard to punch back, although Trump has been actually indicted for specific offenses and has said, out loud and on the record, that he feels he should be able to simply overturn parts of the Constitution that he doesn’t like.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Caucus is determined to impeach Biden and is only hampered by the fact that even their own witnesses deny that he’s actually tied into anything illegal.

Still, as long as the MAGA faithful decline to educate themselves about these things, it’s easy to spin them and that’s how politics works.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Al Goodwyn — Creators

Gary Varvel — Creators

This pair of matching claims is more challenging, and suggests that some talk radio host or other dependably conservative outlet has been advancing the false point.

The notion that vaccines are only updated every four years — or every two, if we’re counting off-year elections — is utter nonsense. And while the coronavirus is new enough to have a very limited track record in that regard, we’ve been updating flu vaccines regularly for years.

Given that the medical community makes significant outreach efforts to remind people to get their updated shots each year, you don’t even need an annual physical to be aware of the established practice.

While it’s not possible to identify this as deliberate dishonesty, it’s certainly more foolishness than spin, and gets into that uncomfortable area of uncertainty: Does the cartoonist actually believe this, or is it an attempt to mislead others?

Juxtaposition of the Day #2

Matt Davies

Drew Sheneman

Lies, spin and error can also be the source, rather than the outcome. This pairing also made me wonder if I had missed something in the news, because I remember reports several weeks ago that discredited the idea that wind turbines were harming whales, but I didn’t know why a couple of good cartoonists would seize upon it now.

Which sent me to the Googles, where I found that a new Monmouth Poll shows people are, in fact, concerned that wind turbines will harm whales.

Not a majority, mind you. Most people continue to support wind power, and apparently a large number of people who care about such things have educated themselves and know that — as one of Davies’ pie sections points out — collisions with oil tankers are a more likely hazard for whales.

But both cartoonists suspect that mistaken beliefs about wind power do not simply rise up out of nowhere, and they accuse the fossil fuel industry of encouraging false rumors.

Lies? Spin? Foolish error? Or well-based theory?

We went through this decades ago with the Tobacco Institute, but it took a combination of whistleblowers and subpoenaed documents to prove that the tobacco industry had deliberately colluded to produce lies about the health risks of smoking.

One doesn’t want to be like the Hunter Biden attackers, who advance accusations they can’t back up with proof. On the other hand, the idea that petroleum companies are hostile to the development of wind power is not an off-the-wall concept, and there are highly credible experts who deny any connection between whale beachings and wind turbines.

Plus it ain’t like the oil companies are big on saving whales.

Finally, I don’t know if this counts as ending on a positive note or a humorous note or whatever, but I find Andy Marlette (Creators)‘s off-the-wall speculation about Hurricane Idalia and our appetite for mass shootings a good example of stirring up thought.

We surely seem to take one more seriously than the other, at least in terms of having the government step in to minimize damage and of having people take the threat seriously.

Too bad all spin doesn’t involve 130 mph winds.

And silly-looking disco bikinis.

3 thoughts on “CSotD: Spin, lies and foolish errors

  1. “There’s a point at which ignoring clear and obvious evidence stops being ‘spin’ and slides into deliberate dishonesty. An offense against logic, though nothing personal.”

    Pretty much how I feel about Creationists and Young Earthers. There comes a point where, regardless if this is what these people truly believe or not, it is clearly a deliberate attempt to mislead others and ignore real evidence.

    And yeah, the other comics are just typical “BIDEN BAD!” without anything to back them up. Whatever.

  2. I am so glad to see your clear and detailed explanation of why the rightist cartoonists are empty and worthless when they (continuously) slam Biden. They have nothing to say, and more often than not actually ignore and contradict the actual facts. Biden is doing a terrific job, especially in the teeth of the gale of fascist undermining of the country. I have commented here before, saying that those hollow cartoonist drum-bangers of the right should not be treated as if they are equal in professional stature to “real” ones. If there were any “conservative” cartoonists who were taking on actual issues, they would be respectable enough to be viewed alongside the liberals. The Trumpist condemnation of Bidenomics is worthless, in that Biden has saved the economy after Drumpf ash-canned it. And harping on Biden’s age is just cheap-shot B.S. Drumpf is not senile — he’s crazy! And evil! He wants to cancel democracy. And he’s fat and ugly, too. And probably smells bad.

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