CSotD: The Straight Poop

Yesterday’s cartoons by Ella Baron and Guy Venables were met with surprise by several readers, the issue of record quantities of sewage being dumped into English waters having only been mentioned here in passing before.

One example of that being this Ben Jennings cartoon from August, 2022, when a drought brought the dumping of sewage to public attention. I’m giving him the lead off not because it was when I started following the story but because he made the obvious pun in a totally appropriate way.

And between Walt Disney’s makeover and the slasher movie, it’s neither the first time nor the worst time poor old Edward Bear has been dragged though shit.

Nor is he the only beloved British children’s icon to get the royal treatment, as Rob Murray took another shot at EH Shepard that summer, showing Rat and Mole becalmed in the river and no doubt regretting the smell of the wind in the willows.

Juxtaposition of the Day

John Everett Millais

Though as a classicist, I preferred Morten Morland’s homage a few months later, to both Millais and Shakespeare, and to poor Ophelia, gone originally to death gently and sadly, amid flowers, her tragedy now updated to show not a maiden but a nation drown’d in foulness.

David Simonds also noted the scandal in the summer of 2022, but, at that stage, it seemed like a case, as he says, of fat cats enjoying their bonuses without performing their jobs.

The story has now shifted, such that the investors in Thames Water have recently decided water treatment is too expensive and so they’re not going to do it.

Which sounds laughably stupid, which Dave Brown doesn’t dispute. He simply depicts, and he doesn’t have to do more than exaggerate, having the Fat Cat, his pockets stuffed with profits, riding his government collaborator amid the filth.

But the boating thing is for real, and Patrick Blower joins in expressing grossed-out astonishment as crews of the University Boat Race have been warned not to celebrate wins by leaping into the Thames or tossing in their coxswains, “due to alarming levels of E. coli bacteria, as official data showed sewage spills hit a record high in 2023.”

We ought not to laugh at a country privatizing such an obvious public function as water quality, given that our own Supreme Court is pretty sure clean, fresh water is not something for the feds to insist upon.

Just think of Britain as our test kitchen, and if this goes well for them, we might end up having private companies auction off the Colorado River to the highest bidders while a venture capitalist group could take charge of whether or not Baltimore really needs a bridge at all.

While Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis gaze upon Brexit, thinking “Well, that looks like a good option …”

And Abbott may want to consider letting the Rio Grande become its own border barrier, based on wise adjustments to those formerly White Cliffs of Dover, as Peter Brookes offers in a suggestion to Rishi Sunak.

The overall point being that, as Nick Newman pointed out last summer, they’re known about this a good long time, and I suspect cartoonists and others assumed that, when the matter was raised before the public, that both the government and the privatized utility companies would be forced to deal with it.

Instead, Mike Stokoe accuses, it’s become something of minor curiosity within a situation that nobody really wants to do anything about.

I lived next to a dairy farm for several years and I assure you that you can get used to anything. Then again, about once a week, I drove 20 miles into the hills to fill my jerry cans at a clean spring.

Getting used to things can require significant efforts.

… while on a related note …

I like Bill Bramhall’s piece, because he cuts through the niceties and goes right after Dear Leader’s tasteless, blasphemous, cynical profiteering during the most sacred week of the Christian calendar.

I particularly like it because I have no idea of Bramhall’s spiritual leanings.

There are cartoonists who make their religion part of their schtick.

For strip artists, that can include characters going to church or having bat mitzahs, which can be preachy or can just be a means of filling out the characters and making them more three-dimensional. There are a few, like Francis, in which religious beliefs are key.

For political cartoonists, expressing religious beliefs tends to be intrusive, given that you can’t be sharp-tongued and contentious most days and then suddenly go all squishy and Jesusy on a few holidays.

Bramhall isn’t opening a religious debate here. He’s not tell anyone what they should believe. But he is pointing out that Trump seems like a huckster at a time of year when huckstering is particularly out of keeping.

He was subtle. Didn’t mention anyone kicking over tables and whacking hucksters with a rope’s end. Just three lonely crosses in the background and a preening, boastful huckster in the foreground.

It’s not necessary to debate, only to suggest a topic.

Let the reader conduct the debate within.

Clay Bennett (CTFP) is more confrontational, but he does it through portrayal rather than argumentation. The fact that he doesn’t mount a specific set of criticisms allows the reader to frame them, which is often more effective.

That is, if you are revealing a scandal, you need to add specific elements to make the accusation complete and compelling.

Here, however, we know, first of all, that Trump is no biblical scholar, as revealed when someone asked him his favorite book of the Bible and he hemmed and hawed before guessing “2 Corinthians” like a schoolkid hoping to fake his way through a question about an assignment he hadn’t read.

No serious person can believe Trump reads the Bible. Even if you’re not aware that he keeps a copy of Hitler’s speeches next to his bed, you should be aware that he is a man of many beds, not all of which contain his wives.

Bennett has successfully revealed which book of the Bible is Dear Leader’s favorite, as if anyone had suspected otherwise.

So here’s a tune to combine the sacred with the scatological, which produces some bleeding const … ernation.

8 thoughts on “CSotD: The Straight Poop

  1. The very political Mallard Fillmore strip rolls out the Christian good news around Easter and Christmas each year. The rest of the time. . .ew.

  2. Perhaps Trump does indeed have many, many Bibles but if so they’re likely Gideons in his hotel rooms

  3. Nowadays, I’d suspect Tr*mp’s choice of reading matter, along with his character, has degenerated from faux-suave “Playboy” to shamelessly gratuitous “Hustler”.

    1. The word coming out when he was in office was that he doesn’t have the attention span to read much of anything.

  4. Mike wrote: given that our own Supreme Court is pretty sure clean, fresh water is not something for the feds to insist upon.
    I reply: yes, sewage everywhere we look. (Don’t make me quote from two corinthians!)

  5. I’d pay 60 bucks for an audiobook of Trump attempting to read the King James Version aloud.
    Can’t even read a teleprompter.

  6. When I was a small kid visiting the small Wyoming town where my father grew up, one of my favorite things was gong into the plains where the sewage water emptied out because that’s where the frogs and things were. Didn’t even know it was sewage at the time, and my father never told me. Now that I’m in the big city, one of our smaller local cities is having a heck of a time getting clean drinking water. And a couple of years ago, the city (El Paso) was dumping sewage in the Rio Grande for quite a while. But half of the year, the Rio Grande now has no water, so wouldn’t make a great border barrier. When the Panhandle was burning up last month (with smoke although the way down here), Abbott was on the border with Trump scoring brownie points. Too bad they don’t spend as much time worrying about their constituents as they do about the non-existent “invasion”.

  7. Going back to the comic at the top… I was fortunate enough to stand on the Poohsticks bridge during a vacation to southern England. It was of course not the original bridge, which has been replaced and rebuilt at least twice in the past century, but it was supposedly located at the original spot (which did not resemble Shepard’s drawing very much at all).

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