CSotD: Sez who?

I’ve often quoted a frustrated exclamation that pops up in commedia dell’arte plays, “I cannot tell if he is a knave or a fool!” The laughs in the farce are based in large part on it not being clear whether the harlequin is lying or truly believes the nonsense he spouts.

It hardly matters, because the other characters still have to deal with the resulting chaos. Very funny on the stage, not so funny in real life.

And the point, for today’s purposes, is that I’m not necessarily sure which of these will be examples of deliberate dishonesty or astonishing stupidity, but it doesn’t really matter.

We have to deal with it anyway.

And, no, it’s not funny in real life. Megan Herbert offers a somewhat autobiographical reflection on the psychic toll of scrolling through the current combination of trivia and horror on line, commenting:

My way of dealing with such things is often with gallows humor, but make no mistake: I agree with her 100 percent.

I’ve used this slice of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? before, and there’s nothing funny about Albee’s play except for its title, as a burned-out, drunken couple trade wisecracks, lies, fantasies and betrayals. I’m glad I’ve seen it and I don’t want to watch it again.

I won’t have to. It’s that memorable.

Since Herbert’s cartoon mentions, among other things, the Met Gala, let’s start with that relatively light matter:

Politifact had to bust these photos of Rihanna and Katy Perry at the Met Gala which popped up on the Internet because they are fakes, despite both women having the correct number of fingers, arms and legs.

You don’t have to prove it’s AI or Photoshop. Neither of them attended the event.

There’s no doubt, then, that whoever posted them was deliberately lying.

Whether you feel the ball was splendid glamour or wretched excess, there were so many genuine photos of famous women in designer dresses that the only reason to conjure up fakes was to collect clicks and monetize the public’s trust.

The sad part is that pure greed is beginning to seem like innocence next to those who promote fakes in order to advance political agendas.

For instance, Politifact also had to bust a hateful anti-trans lie about the women’s Olympic swim team threatening to quit if Lia Thomas were permitted to try out for the team.

It’s just one of several fake postings about various girls’ sports teams — most of them nonexistent — threatening to quit if they have to compete against another team with a trans member.

First of all, I’m old enough to remember when white-only teams really did rebel against competing against racially integrated teams.

Second, Lia Thomas is a particularly unusual case, having transitioned at college age.

Third, it’s a non-issue. Which is to say, it’s STILL a non-issue. It just wasn’t an attractive way to score political points until recently.

If it were a real issue, you wouldn’t have to invent imaginary cases to make your point.

As Cathy Wilcox says, any pretense of “protecting children” is a cover for ignorance and hate, which puts us back at the point of asking whether these people are fools or liars.

And of asking what difference it makes? Ignorance can do as much damage as intentional hatred.

There is some pushback against extremist nonsense, as seen in Lisa Benson (Counterpoint)‘s latest cartoon, which was posted before Moscow Marge’s GOP colleagues slapped down her attempt to unseat Mike Johnson as Speaker.

They not only slapped it down but she was loudly booed when she made the motion.

NBC covered the story in mainstream wishy-washy both-sides fashion, with Ryan Nobles reporting “the vote was overwhelmingly in Johnson’s favor, including some Democrats” by which he meant just over three-quarters of them.

Benson’s criticism of Taylor Greene is considerably more forceful than NBC’s doggedly faux-neutral coverage, which is not only a matter of shame on them but, given Benson’s track record, an encouraging sign that conservatives are beginning to turn against their more outrageous fellow travelers.

Which would include Kristi Noem, whose star has not simply fallen but crashed. Puppy-shooting, plus her fanciful story of meeting Kim Jong Un have not only been ridiculed on the left but are now becoming targets on the right.

Prickly City (AMS) notes that your degree of anger may well depend on what media you consume, and Fox, Newsmax and OAN continue to skew coverage towards the right, while more mainstream media follow the milquetoast approach cited above in NBC’s coverage of the Speakership vote.

Tom the Dancing Bug mocks a weak-kneed interview NYTimes Editor Joe Kahn’s did with Semaphor, in which he explained why the Times sticks to both-sides coverage despite the clear differences between the major candidates for the presidency.

Meanwhile, Michael Ramirez cites “Pax Americana” and peace through strength, which sent me to the Googles to find out what Pax Americana currently means. It’s gone back and forth often through the years, but it appears to mostly mean not an absence of war so much as an absence of war within our borders.

For instance, it’s applied to the period between WWII and the Gulf/Afghanistan wars, which might come as a surprise to the Koreans and Vietnamese, and, while America’s strength was a shelter for us through the Cold War, it didn’t do much for the autonomy of Eastern Europe.

Both Ukraine and Gaza (and possibly Estonia) might wonder if there’s anything worse than the current peace.

But here’s a touch of that gallows humor I mentioned at the start: Speaker Mike, fresh from his Pyrrhic victory in the House, gathered a group of election deniers to start the process of denouncing the 2024 results.

You can see the video here, and when you go to Rupar’s Tweet, be sure to read the comments, which are often funny and indicate that at least his followers aren’t being fooled.

But Johnson is right: It’s not easily provable, because the GOP wasted over half a billion dollars trying and came up, as he says, without any numbers, mostly because they don’t exist.

However, whether this is a group of fools or of knaves, there will definitely be a January 6 in 2025.

We’ll see what sort of day it turns out to be.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: Sez who?

  1. Johnson is stealing Bill Maher’s bit of, “I don’t know it for a fact…I just know it’s true”

  2. Don’t begin to feel cheerful about the Republicans in the House. It’s a lot easier to oppose MTG when DJT has announced his opposition to her resolution.

  3. See, all of what Mike has put here confirms that the issues have been pummeled by both facts and rumors. The loudly shouted rumors have bludgeoned reality into almost unrecognizable shapes, which makes it more difficult to accurately verify stories. Too many sheople are believing the rumors because they are either too dumb or too lazy to ascertain what is correct. If (big if) we are indeed merely players in a matrix like MMORPG I want a means to escape. Reality is becoming all to surreal. But, to paraphrase Mike’s earlier assertion in my words, ‘you can run but where the hell can you hide?’
    I and my cohorts are being more guarded in what we say and who we say it to, because: ‘they are clowns, but they are clowns with flamethrowers’. We are working to create a ‘virtual community’ of honesty, caring, rational, critical thinking and wine and cheese snacks for anyone who supports us.

  4. Mike says ‘My way of dealing with such things is often with gallows humor’
    ‘I hear that Many people’ say he should be hung. But, Stormy Daniels says that couldn’t happen.
    Is that too obtuse a salacious play on words? Will Mike ban me for alluding to ‘naughty bits?

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