CSotD: Elsewhere in the News

Joel Pett (Tribune) explains it all. We are now engaged in a great civil war, testing whether people are more afraid of scary, foolish nonsense than they are of genuine problems.

The answer isn’t entirely clear, which is what makes reality so much fun. Certainly, the “real threats” of ignorance combined with disinformation are a heady brew because Pett is correct that fear and hate hang just at the edge of all those genuine problems.

The imaginary threats have been ginned up to keep people in a perpetual state of fear, under which they will surrender their good judgment to anyone who promises to keep them safe.

Some are utter nonsense: Crime is down, immigrants commit less crime than locals and nobody has even found significant voter fraud. You should be able to talk people out of believing these things because the facts are clear and openly available.

But as the saying goes, every time we come up with something foolproof, they develop a better fool.

Newsguard, a new source for following disinformation, reports not only that people are declaring the recent Facebook outage a rehearsal for election day fraud, and falling for a prank video about spyware in the new Apple phones, but are convinced that the recent Odysseus landing was, like all the Apollo missions, faked.

I’ve also seen Flat Earth postings on social media, but they’re so completely idiotic that it’s impossible to tell if they’re being posted as humor or as the true beliefs of the genuinely deluded.

HL Mencken, like a lot of quotable people, was a nasty piece of work in many ways, but that doesn’t mean he was wrong when he wrote:

Certainly, shame on him for looking down on “the great masses of the plain people.”

After all, while some of our elite, educated upscale people are purposefully spreading lies and disinformation, there are plenty of educated, wealthy people who really seem to believe the hateful, demented nonsense they spread.

I have long been on record as saying that Animal Farm is closer to our current situation than 1984, and now Adam Zyglis has combined elements of both books in a single cartoon. (Lovely fit on the initials, BTW)

The difference is that 1984 posits a society in which a ruling elite purposely constructs an elaborate system to keep the “great masses of the plain people” in control. Orwell drops us into the world well after it is not only politically established but has built a massive infrastructure for control.

By contrast, Animal Farm begins at the beginning, with the liberation of the farm, and leads us through the transformation and degradation of the revolutionary government, including Snowball, the initial leader, who had a utopian vision but was overthrown by the greed and power-hunger of those beneath him.

And while Winston Smith gives way at last to Big Brother’s power, it is the gullibility of the animals that keeps the pigs in power at Manor Farm. Zyglis captures this well in the difference between how he has drawn the pig and how he has drawn the credulous suckers who accept the pig’s pronouncements.

Note, too, that Joel Pett presents truth and folly as competing brackets, while Adam Zyglis doesn’t give truth that strong a presence. In both 1984 and Brave New World, the evil geniuses explain their system to the protagonist, a bit like Goldfinger unveiling his evil plan to 007.

Hunger Games, Brave New World and 1984 feature good people standing up to evil, but I wonder how often it’s ever that clear cut.

In Animal Farm and Fahrenheit 451, by comparison, evil relies on gullibility and willful subservience, and, though in both novels, there is hope at the end as the system begins to collapse, they remain based on the weaknesses that make authoritarianism and dictatorship function with a minimum of violence and active coercion.

Is it possible to overreach? Gary Markstein (Creators) suggests that RFK Jr. has not only probed the edges of how much paranoid nonsense people will swallow, but is now adding to the situation by hinting that he may add a second crackpot to his ticket.

Assuming this pairing happens, it will be an interesting test of the Loon Factor, because it seems most likely that the resulting Very Silly Party candidacy would steal the votes of nincompoops, moon calves and lunatics from the MAGA ticket.

However, if the No Party gets their act together, they may manage to have a balancing effect by vacuuming up the votes of young perfectionists who seek both an alternative to Biden and an alternative to winning elections.

And it may end up leaving the rest of us like the animals at the end of Orwell’s book, looking at our situation and wondering how in the hell it happened.

Or perhaps more like Nicholai Rostov in “War and Peace,” unhorsed, wounded and no longer romantic about war:

The point being that you should rely on something more pragmatic than a child’s assumption that first person perspective is a magical shield.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Steve Kelley — Creators

Dave Whamond

We’ve still got people claiming there’s little to choose from between the two major candidates, this pair coming from different ends of the political spectrum.

I suspect the idea is based on poll numbers and horserace coverage. If you look at the pairing in terms of policies and intentions, the two couldn’t be more different and the stakes couldn’t be more at odds with one another.

But with no context beyond popularity, the message to voters is “Why bother? It doesn’t matter. They’re all the same.”

Empty messaging may cost the major candidates more votes than anything RFK Jr and the No Ticket people manage.

Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective. Watching from South Africa, Zapiro is able to detect fear and loathing in our situation, both in the Cult of Personality that surrounds Trump and in the willingness of the Supreme Court to clear his path.

Ruben Bolling offers a satiric look forward at where the priorities of a certain major medium are leading us, and they’re hardly alone in their approach.

I wish I could disagree, but I’ve been reading the campaign coverage. His analysis is spot-on.

Disagree about the Moon landing if you must. The elections matter.

3 thoughts on “CSotD: Elsewhere in the News

  1. That Tom the Dancing Bug comic is terrifying, not so much for the idea of Trump’s fascist takeover (although that certainly is a possibility) but for the way it nails the “zomg we can’t appear biased! We have to give equal weight to the lunatics and crazies and liars and criminals and insurrectionists if we want to be Fair and Balanced.” attitude that much of the mainstream media has.

    Sure, Trump is a raging lunatic criminal that has campaigned on revenge and the promise to be a Day One Dictator, but holy crap BIDEN IS OLD.

  2. I used to think that if you put all of the world’s political ideologies on a spectrum, our two major parties would end up next to each other. I don’t think that anymore.

  3. “Stephen Miller’s Retribution Camp”… >> Shudder <<

    And it looks like Tr*mp's had some work done in Steve Kelley's panel. Too late, Don – Melania's still not coming back…

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