Decades of Drudgery


Detail of 'Lucifer', by Franz von Stuck, 1890.

The lede tells me that one of America’s most widely read right-wing journalists said something nasty about someone who went and said something spectacular in his own right, but I find myself wondering how anyone, even conservatives, still pay attention to the journalist who is essentially criticizing his commercial competition.

The most part of accepting that professional wrestling is not real combat comes down to just that, accepting the obvious. The hardest part about supermarket tabloid gossip was always the idea that anyone might believe it. Twenty-some years have Republicans denigrated themselves for a horde of alleged journalists whose apparent basis for competition has something to do with finding ways to pitch more extreme alternatives to a worryingly hungry audience.

What portion of what is happening, and how we got here, has to do with words like, “unwell”?

And to what degree does is it relevant, or is any notion of apropos merely a matter of aesthetic priorities, that over two decades after the widely-read conservative firebomb journalist accidentally helped a cartoonist win a Pulitzer …―

An established muckraker questions the psychiatric health of a competitor and market heir, and something goes here about the Pulitzer joke and nearly bringing down a presidency, and here we are all these years later and still drowning in rape culture because … I mean, say what we will about Republicans and conservatives and all that, but the rest of the nation has been finding ways to enable them. And yeah, yeah, yeah, I didn’t vote for them, either, but it is also true that we’re Americans, and we just don’t go lining them up in front of the ditch, so we should probably consider that somewhere in between we still simply haven’t done enough to forestall such spectacles as two excremental puckers fighting for headlines because that is the priority.


Image note: Detail of Lucifer, by Franz von Stuck, 1890.


Note on Ideas

In the history of ideas … right. It is not so much that there are good ideas and bad ideas; rather, every once in a while the question arises, “What, this is an idea?”

No, no, no. That is not really about the artistic product. Playing with such ideas is part of cartooning, especially in the network century. Given that truth is stranger than fiction, we can expect the cartoonists will never actually catch up, even those who catch on.

Detail of SMBC, 30 September 2014, by Zach WeinerThere are some ideas that seem so removed from the realm of good ideas that we might wonder whence they rise. That is to say, given the content of the annals of life, the idea that one might try such an approach is, well, yes, it is possible. And, given that this is the twenty-first century, after all, why not? Think of politics. If you do not like the question, make something up. And if someone complains that you did not answer the question, argue that you did. So that if the question is the economics of family and you hear a Republican declare that intra-uterine devices are abortifacients, bear in mind that it is, after all, an answer. What would make anyone think it is a good or even relevant answer has nothing to do with anything.

Divorce humor is one thing. Humor in divorce is quite another. The saddest part is that we can rest assured that something like this has happened before. It has all happened before, and it will all happen again until humanity chooses extinction, which, in turn, is an idea, and with the benefit of being applicable to nearly any question.

Meanwhile, Zach Weiner tries his hand at something having to do with divorce and humor, and considering the history of ideas, the disheartening thing is the realization that while life is not so simple as to be adequately explained in eight frames, neither is it so routine that such a proposition should seem extraordinary.

Englehart on the Constitution

Bob Englehart - The Frightened States of AmericaBob Englehart writes, for the Hartford Courant:

I’m not in favor of amending the Constitution for any reason. I guess that makes me a conservative. Oh, wait, the conservatives want to dump the 14th Amendment. Oh, right. I guess that makes me a liberal. Apparently, the conservatives think the Constitution is a living document and has to change to reflect modern life. Wait, that’s a liberal viewpoint. Maybe those are liberal conservatives we’re talking about. After all, they want all that changin’ thing ….

(Click the image for full-size at

An amusing “conspiracy” theory

While I may not agree with every detail of her construction, Tina Dupuy offers up a long-overdue theory to the political arena:

It seems everybody gets their own pet conspiracy these days: Birthers, Birchers, Deathers, Truthers and whatever you call the people who won’t get their kids inoculated. According to the theories, nothing is as it seems and everyone is in on it. Following this reasonable assumption, I’ve come up with my own. Here it is: former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, RNC Chairman Michael Steele and Congressman Paul Ryan from Wisconsin are all Democratic plants.

The rest of the article pretty much spells out the theory, and as conspiracy theories go, it’s probably less crazy than Truther conspiracies, and clearly less insane than Birthers. Continue reading

Scenes: Battle Damage Assessment

File under, “Ouch”. And then visit Milt Priggee:

Milt Priggee via Cagle

If the above makes no sense, just skip it. There is no law that says everything must make sense to you.

Or go read “Waterloo“, by former American Enterprise Institute fellow David Frum.

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Notes On the Health Care Battle: Dust and Smoke

Only vague first impressions; it’s difficult to get any real perspective while so much dust and smoke hangs in the air after the conflagration.

Paul Krugman, before the vote:

Adam Zyglis via CagleSo what’s the reality of the proposed reform? Compared with the Platonic ideal of reform, Obamacare comes up short. If the votes were there, I would much prefer to see Medicare for all.

For a real piece of passable legislation, however, it looks very good. It wouldn’t transform our health care system; in fact, Americans whose jobs come with health coverage would see little effect. But it would make a huge difference to the less fortunate among us, even as it would do more to control costs than anything we’ve done before.

This is a reasonable, responsible plan. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Republican David Frum on the political fallout:

At the beginning of this process we made a strategic decision: unlike, say, Democrats in 2001 when President Bush proposed his first tax cut, we would make no deal with the administration. No negotiations, no compromise, nothing. We were going for all the marbles. This would be Obama’s Waterloo – just as healthcare was Clinton’s in 1994.

Only, the hardliners overlooked a few key facts: Obama was elected with 53% of the vote, not Clinton’s 42%. The liberal block within the Democratic congressional caucus is bigger and stronger than it was in 1993-94. And of course the Democrats also remember their history, and also remember the consequences of their 1994 failure.

This time, when we went for all the marbles, we ended with none.

Kirk Walters via CagleCould a deal have been reached? Who knows? But we do know that the gap between this plan and traditional Republican ideas is not very big. The Obama plan has a broad family resemblance to Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan. It builds on ideas developed at the Heritage Foundation in the early 1990s that formed the basis for Republican counter-proposals to Clintoncare in 1993-1994.

Barack Obama badly wanted Republican votes for his plan. Could we have leveraged his desire to align the plan more closely with conservative views? To finance it without redistributive taxes on productive enterprise – without weighing so heavily on small business – without expanding Medicaid? Too late now. They are all the law.

No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?

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Friedman Redux

Twice in a week? Well, maybe I’ll just have to get over Friedman’s whole “suck on this” big-stick attitude.

Apparently, Maureen Dowd has the day off, so Friedman fills in today with more reflections on the economic crisis:

Yet I read that we’re actually holding up dozens of key appointments at the Treasury Department because we are worried whether someone paid Social Security taxes on a nanny hired 20 years ago at $5 an hour. That’s insane. It’s as if our financial house is burning down but we won’t let the Fire Department open the hydrant until it assures us that there isn’t too much chlorine in the water. Hello?

Meanwhile, the Republican Party behaves as if it would rather see the country fail than Barack Obama succeed. Rush Limbaugh, the de facto G.O.P. boss, said so explicitly, prompting John McCain to declare about President Obama to Politico: “I don’t want him to fail in his mission of restoring our economy.” The G.O.P. is actually debating whether it wants our president to fail. Rather than help the president make the hard calls, the G.O.P. has opted for cat calls. It would be as if on the morning after 9/11, Democrats said they wanted no part of any war against Al Qaeda — “George Bush, you’re on your own.”

As for President Obama, I like his coolness under fire, yet sometimes it feels as if he is deliberately keeping his distance from the banking crisis, while pressing ahead on other popular initiatives. I understand that he doesn’t want his presidency to be held hostage to the ups and downs of bank stocks, but a hostage he is. We all are.

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