CSotD: With the best of intentions

We’ll start with something that hardly counts in the Grand Scheme of Things, except that accuracy does matter, even when good intentions only pave the road to Heck, not Hell.

Clay Jones has a point to make in observing that Trump can no longer shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single vote because his felony conviction means he’s not allowed to own a gun in NYC.

It’s not a profound observation, but it’s a funny jab at the fellow, though what does matter is that Trump was right: There is nothing he could do that would destroy his cult’s faith.

Out in Hollywood, con artists like Elmer Gantry and Dusty Rhodes are eventually brought down by their own hubris, but if that were going to happen to Trump, it would have by now.

All of which is worth commenting on, but nobody over 50 makes spacegun noises. I’ll let the Star Trek/Star Wars gang argue over who said it first, but people Trump’s age — my age — say “Bang” or “Pow” or make a sound in the back of their throats to simulate gunfire.

Hey, I said it was small potatoes. But for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost, and, from an artist’s point of view, you don’t want to distract readers with dubious trivia.

The principle is more important in this Rick McKee (Counterpoint) cartoon, because for all the chatter about Biden’s age, he certainly doesn’t use a walker. He jogs regularly and rides his bike several times a week.

The argument in favor of McKee’s depiction is that Trump doesn’t actually wear a ball and chain either, and nothing in the cartoon is supposed to be taken literally — in the old-fashioned sense in which “literally” means “literally.”

Fair enough, except that Biden’s gaffes have been inconsequential, and despite a hitjob from the Wall Street Journal in which they interviewed Biden opponents about his sharpness, he is generally respected as fully capable. The “old fogey” accusations are largely made by GOP loyalists, and McKee is entitled to his opinion, but overstatements undercut your message.

Gary Huck, by contrast, makes a quiet joke about an old fogey who made wandering, almost incomprehensible remarks about electric boats and shark attacks that would have sunk any other candidate for office.

When Jimmy McMillan declared “The rent’s too damn high,” he was laughed at and his apparent race for the presidency collapsed on the spot, despite the rent being too damn high and still being too damn high.

But somehow Donald Trump manages to make people take him seriously but not literally, and his nonsensical, rambling, unhinged speeches are not expected to say anything sensible about sharks or electric vehicles or much of anything else.

He probably could shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose a single vote. It is a puzzlement.

Juxtaposition of the Day

Nick Anderson — Tribune

Fiona Katauskas

This is a more nuanced matter. Anderson criticizes the IDF and the Israeli government for going after Hamas in an indiscriminate manner, and portrays Biden as a willing associate in the operation.

It is somewhat the opposite of Trump’s ability to shoot people on 5th Avenue: One hallmark in the current divisions is that liberals and progressives are willing to hold their own politicians’ feet to the fire while conservatives appear to only raise questions when their fringiest fringe dwellers — MTG or Lauren Boebert — get out of hand.

Katauskas lays out the central issue vis-a-vis Gaza: It shouldn’t be hard to make the point clear that being against bombing entire neighborhoods or criticizing repeated incidents in which aid workers, journalists and civilians are killed does not mean you favor brutal terrorists.

I like both cartoons, but Anderson’s comes off as more metaphorical and imaginative, while Katauskas’s piece seems like a lecture rather than a graphic depiction. Anderson’s is therefore more open to misinterpretation while Katauskas’s can be brushed off because it lacks an emotional gutpunch.

Political cartoonists continuously walk a tightrope between those two hazards.

Marc Murphy makes a solid attempt to thread the needle between being too symbolic and too didactic, and I think does a good job, though the word “genocide” is something of a poison pill. The word may alienate only those who insist on being alienated, but that still makes it worth avoiding. However, his illustration makes the logical connection clear.

Fair-minded people realize that “manifest destiny” was a racist concept that justified Europeans forcing native people off their land, often in brutal ways. Murphy quietly connects that discredited theory with the overall notion that God wants certain people to have certain land, and he’s not exaggerating: Those who supported manifest destiny 150 years ago did so under the sincere, unshakable conviction that they were carrying out God’s will.

The hazard in using that word is that nitpicking its definition avoids addressing the actual issue. Whether Americans were killing buffalo or killing native people seems secondary to the fact that both actions had the same ultimate effect on those whose way of life was being purposefully ended.

Jeffrey Koterba hints at the connection, given that Palestinian olive groves on the West Bank have been set afire as part of an effort to drive their owners from the land, while Bedouins have also been threatened, assaulted and forced from their settlements.

Such actions didn’t bring peace in our West and seem unlikely to bring peace in the Middle East.

Except the peace of the grave, but we’re avoiding the word that might describe that.

The good news for political cartoonists is that people like to complain and they like feeling frightened and picked on and put-upon. There will always be a market for fear and loathing.

The threats facing the family in this Dave Granlund cartoon are mostly overwrought. There have always been shark attacks, but until Jaws nobody freaked out over them, while bison don’t attack so much as respond to foolish actions by foolish people. And rip currents are nothing new, either.

Granted, the weather-related hazards he lists, including landslides, wildfires and beach bacteria, are becoming more common but it’s not as though anybody wants to do anything about these shifts in our environment.

Except Ron DeSantis, who signed legislation prohibiting climate change.

He should write Mother Nature a ticket.

13 thoughts on “CSotD: With the best of intentions

  1. Silly Boomer, kids over sixty make space gun noises. My buddies and I all saw Forbidden Planet back in the sixties and we were happy to make the change from Cowboys and Indians from the sound our chrome plated cap guns made. Star Trek sealed the deal. It was way cooler than Rat Patrol.

    You may have enjoyed the Rifleman and Wagon Train, but we found that genre boring.

    With affection,

    Late Model Silly Boomer

    1. As a fellow Late Boomer I approve this message. Westerns were boring, except for “The Wild, Wild West,” which was more of a spy show than western.

      1. We tended to find the cowboy TV show settings we liked. There was a show for most tastes, a comedy ( F Troop) a family show ( Ponderosa), drama ( Gunsmoke), something for everybody, cowboy fashion. There was Have Gun Will Travel where , when the star came into town from the road, he looked like it. Then there were pretty boy cowboys that looked like they just left the beauty shop.

  2. Two ideas for Clay Jones’ sound effect: (1) it’s a very small gun with a silencer, (2) the pew is coming from the other end. P.S. Nice pigeon!

  3. 1. For me it’s the look of dismay on Biden’s face that makes the Anderson cartoon. It seems to say “this is not what I signed up for!”

    Marc Murphy is relying on a false analogy. There has been a constant Jewish presence in the Levant for over 3000 years. Jews are indigenous to the Levant. “Manifest Destiny,” to the degree that it is relevant at all to the region, is embodied by the phrase “from the river to the sea” which was part of God’s description the Land’s boundaries to Abraham. And yes, each side uses that phase as a shovel to dig a grave for the other side with. But please, let’s not engage in historical revisionism that supposes that the Levant was ever as devoid of Jews as the Americas were of White people before the arrival of Columbus.

    1. Given how a lot of people have moved around, claiming prior possession is dubious. People have moved around en masse throughout history and before it, and a great many ethnicities are today far from where they were two or three thousand years ago.

      The similarity between natives in the Americas a century and a half ago and Palestinians in the Nakba is in their being pushed off of land they inhabited at the moment. The other parallel, as noted, is that, in both cases, justification was based on a reading of God’s intentions. One person’s visions are another person’s blasphemies, but religious beliefs, however sincere, cannot be a basis for international law.

      1. Bear in mind, though, that most of the early Zionists who founded the state of Israel were primarily secular; they were not acting according to their conception of God’s intention. The very religious were often against the creation of the state of Israel, considering it blasphemous to be trying to bring about by secular means something that was destined to be brought about by God with the coming of the Messiah.

        The Arabs and Jews of Palestine were more like the Muslims and Hindus of India than the colonists and natives of America. Like in India, the colonial power decided to pull out without leaving any structure in place, so that the local people, each group with its own claim to the land, were left behind to war it out. Israel was more complicated than India. In India, it was two local populations fighting and massacring each other without much interference by anyone, but in 1948 Palestine when the British withdrew the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria moved in as well. A lot of what had been Palestine wound up in Egyptian and Jordanian control for the next couple of decades.

    2. Both the Jews and the Palestinians lost control over that territory in the traditional, old-fashioned way – it was taken from them through violence by a superior military force. Might makes right, apparently.

      By the Romans in the case of the Jews, and then later by the Jews in the case of the Palestinians.
      Most nation-states are born in violence and suckled in blood.

      But the Palestinians have the same choice as the Cayugas and Oneidas and Senecas did after they were defeated by the American Revolutionary Army under General Sullivan. They can fight and die to the last man and snuff themselves as a people that way, or they can deal with reality, put down their weapons, and survive as a people that have lost their ancestral homeland to war. The Oneida and the Senecas are doing okay these days, so the choice is a no-brainer really. It’s just hard to accept that you’ve lost. Especially if you thought ‘divine providence’ was on your side.

  4. Westerns endorsed and promoted capitalistic patriarchy. Science fiction, not so much… although the invasion plot-lines encouraged isolationist paranoia. I preferred cartoons and played fearless explorer instead. And yes, other boys thought I was weird. The girls liked me,though, I was willing to play house as long as it was on another planet. Good times…

  5. Mike provides a more valid perspective on this subject. However, all of this points out that some of the strongest and most prevalent of human characteristics are greed, hatred and violence. And, what we see occurring throughout the world proves to me that humans haven’t evolved socially beyond that violent, selfish state of barbarism. There is a small percentage of humans who have become more enlightened and civilized. But, their peaceful, honest existence is at a great disadvantage compared to the violent barbarians. I am far from flawless, but I, and our organization strive for wisdom that leads to peaceful enlightenment.

  6. Mike wrote: ‘Except Ron DeSantis, who signed legislation prohibiting climate change.’
    I reply: floridumb is drowning and I just read that deathsantis just dumped funding for flood control.

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