CSotD: Hearing what we want to believe

Rick McKee offers a bit of a puzzler, because we seem to be locked in an endless argument over what Dear Leader said and what Dear Leader meant. Is it intentional? His fault? Our fault?

Trump has plenty of trouble just reading from his TelePrompter, lapsing off into incoherent approximations of what’s written in front of him.

Then the TelePrompter broke down in Dayton the other night, leaving him to ramble from thought to thought, boosting the incoherence to majestic levels.

His prophecy of a bloodbath popped up within a discussion of Chinese automobile sales, leaving his faithful to insist that he was talking about sales of foreign cars, though it also came across as a partially relevant parenthetical threat about the general stakes ahead.

Which leaves you where McKee picks up the translation: “This is about business, but it’s about everything. Pay no attention to the mumbling behind the curtain.”

There is significant speculation that, while Biden may fumble a word here and there, Trump is genuinely sinking into a level of dementia that’s covered by the fact that his speaking style was always erratic. That is, Biden has always been a fumblemouth, but Trump’s speech patterns are actually degenerating.

The problem is that, while Biden fans shrug off a missed word here or there, Trump’s fans have built up a pattern of taking him seriously but not literally, so that puzzling or incoherent statements are brushed off as Trump being Trump.

Which is to say, we’re dealing with two different approaches: One based on understanding Joe Biden’s speech impediment and “senior moments” and one based entirely on loyalty, or, as the banner in McKee’s cartoon suggests, hearing what you want to hear instead of what you did hear.

Or, as Mike Luckovich puts it, not hearing at all.

He’s right that a large part of that is based on people not wanting to confront puzzling and potentially upsetting realities.

But it’s also a matter of the people warning of an impending dictatorship dismissed as Cassandras, fated to tell the truth and be unheard.

That’s not hard to pull off in a flood of horserace coverage. A Trump-picked candidate won the GOP Primary in Ohio yesterday, but the article I read about it dwelt entirely on the numbers in that race and the likely numbers in the upcoming Senate election. It never mentioned what the fellow believed in or why — aside from party affiliation — anyone supports him.

Meanwhile, Pat Byrnes points out how few former Trump cabinet members have come out in support of him. It’s a little tricky, because not all the others have actively come out against him, but plenty have, including his former VP.

You would expect, at least, some bland announcement of support the whole gang would sign as if it were an office birthday card.

Rob Rogers (TinyView) melds the two interpretations of Trump’s threat into a single, incoherent statement combining auto sales and his promise of retribution.

But Mike Smith (KFS) points out that MAGAts don’t necessarily reject that idea of putting a dictator in charge. It’s an interesting riposte to Luckovich: Smith suggests that the issue isn’t that they don’t see a looming dictatorship, but, rather, that they don’t see it as a bad thing.

Which leads us back to the issue that not all Germans were Nazis, but the great bulk of them sat back and allowed the Third Reich to rise up and take over their country.

And if you find comparisons to Hitler offensive, maybe Dear Leader should not — as Paul Berge points out — be enthusiastically endorsing candidates who insist that the Holocaust was “hogwash”.

While Pat Bagley observes that, while Tommy Tuberville says his Democratic opponents are a Satanic cult, he doesn’t seem concerned with the active cult of personality built around Dear Leader.

Kal Kallaugher (Counterpoint) notes the rising fascist tide, in which Trump is able to not only suggest that the Jan 6 convictions were dubious but to openly proclaim the insurgents as heroes and hostages and use them as heroic props in his speeches.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Joel Pett

Bill Bramhall

Joel Pett points out that, while Vladimir Putin has to put forth a false picture of Russian prosperity to a public that seems increasingly aware of the truth, the MAGAts sit in well-fed comfort accepting Dear Leader’s assessment of how terrible the United States has become.

And, as Bramhall says, it’s not just Dear Leader who is bad-mouthing the facts. He’s got the Republican Party backing up his false pessimistic view despite the clear evidence of America’s rising economy and recovering status in the world.

And I thought Canadians were so polite …

Dave Whamond


A bit of a dust-up among Canadian cartoonists, after Dave Whamond’s commentary on the bloodbath controversy drew a slap-down from the mysterious “Rivers” who is permitted to distribute his cartoons through Cagle without signing his real name or explaining his exemption.

It’s not unknown for people in the general public to copy a cartoon, alter the text in order to reverse the cartoonist’s intent and post it on social media, but it is considered both rude and a copyright violation.

For an apparently professional cartoonist to essentially do the same is unprecedented, and there is a wide sense in the cartooning community that “apologies to Whamond” does not excuse the insult.

Whamond himself has shrugged it off, which is politely Canadian of him. Others are not as forgiving.

The gesture seems pointless, since there’s little chance an audience would see both cartoons to compare them. But it has opened a sore over “Rivers” posting strong opinions and declining to sign his name to them.

There is also some anger over his apparent posing as an American when it is generally believed that he is Canadian, though the argument could be made that this speaker is not specifically identified as the cartoonist.

But, while readers may not be specifically told that Whamond, De Adder and others are Canadian, they are honest about their identity and it doesn’t take much to learn their citizenship.

Perhaps “Rivers” is not Cameron Cardow, former staff cartoonist for the Ottawa Citizen.

There’s no proof of that, and neither Cardow nor Cagle answered inquiries.

But, still …

Cameron Cardow, Feb 24, 2015

“Rivers,” Feb 27, 2023

8 thoughts on “CSotD: Hearing what we want to believe

  1. Please continue to research and discuss the “Rivers” story. This is — or should be — important to us in Canada and to editorial cartooning everywhere.

  2. I corresponded with Cam years ago, before he disappeared from print.
    He was, to my mind at least, a very good cartoonist with an incredibly bad attitude about everything.
    I had to block him from my social media feeds because he got to rambling about obvious bullshit, even to the point of attacking me.
    It would not surprise me if he was R.

  3. Re: “The gesture seems pointless, since there’s little chance an audience would see both cartoons to compare them.”

    The Dave Whamond and Rivers cartoons are displayed on Cagle.com separated by only three other cartoons.

    1. You need to view the general audience as readers of print newspapers, not people with special interests who seek out commentary on insider sites. The average reader — the average voter — is not going to see this debate because few newspapers would get involved in a middle-school back-and-forth.

  4. I have long thought that Cam Cardow’s and Lamont Cranston Rivers’s styles looked suspiciously similar, and that was without ever seeing those last two cartoons side by side. Now I’m convinced.

    Drawing under an alias is understandable and acceptable where a totalitarian government is likely to drag you off by your thumbs, break your wrists, toss you in a gulag, or hang you for insulting Dear Leader or the imam. Canada is not such a place, and neither is the U.S. (unless the Magazoids get their way in November).

    Thanks for having me in the blog today!

  5. Can we nominate “Rivers” for the Cartoonist Rights Network “Courage in Cartooning Award” for courageously commenting on the politics of another country and a fellow cartoonist from the terrifyingly authoritarian state of Canada? Or would we need to know his real identity for that?

    1. Maybe he can accept the award with Cagle with both wearing bags on their heads. Cam, I mean Rivers, to conceal his identity and Cagle for his shame. Of course, I’m just kidding. Cagle doesn’t have shame.

  6. Nice reporting on Rivers’ trolling.

    Sadly, I’m writing in to note Pat Byrnes cartoon – Vought moved across the street from me in Arlington, VA last year. Now I’m having to practice my ‘cut direct’.

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