Ordinary World: Ides of March Edition

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

Related Post Roulette

46 Responses

  1. DensityDuck says:

    [OW2] tired: “charter schools are really good, we’ll just mandate that all schools be charter schools and therefore all schools will be really good!”
    wired: “SOCOM is really good, we’ll just mandate that every soldier be SOCOM and therefore all soldiers will be really good…”Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    [OW6] Well. We heard for years about how Bernie Wouldn’t’ve Won, about how Defeating Trump Was The Point, about how the only thing that mattered was Electability. And now we’ve got bland mush-paste in office, President Grandpaw, a man who was chosen because he was the very image of soft soothing safety, and people are realizing that they’ll have to make that work for the next twenty-two months until he can resign For Health Reasons and Kamala Harris can take over.

    So. Gotta work together on this one, gotta go along to get along, and a big part of that is making sure there aren’t any good jokes for the…deplorables, let’s say, to avoid the swear filter, but we need to make sure there are no good memes for the deplorables to latch onto.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

      What’s so absurd about this is that there are *OBVIOUS* lines of comedic attack.

      For example, just re-tell the Corn Pop story! Now that you’ve re-told it, invent new characters!

      Remember when Biden said “if you don’t vote for me, you ain’t black”? Start with the Dave Chappelle Racial Draft sketch and do a heavy rewrite and have Biden sort people appropriately! (Wait, Jaybird, wouldn’t that be plagiarism? HAVE I GOT GOOD NEWS FOR YOU!!!)

      Retell the story about the black kids playing with his leg hair. Have the point of the sketch not be Biden, though. Have it be CNN or MSNBC anchors in the background doing nothing but reaction shots as he tells the story. Have the punchline be them pivoting to the story that “comedians can’t come up with anything”.Report

    • Pinky in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Our last two presidents were narcissists. They’re easy to make fun of, both because of their pretentions and because of the natural joy in poking fun at someone who thinks he doesn’t deserve it. How do you make fun of someone whose present dominant trait is his frailty? Biden used to be nearly as over-inflated as Obama or Trump, but in a very defensive way (which isn’t particularly funny); now you barely even see a glimpse of that. He’s just sad.Report

    • Greginak in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Sounds like a great chance for you to become rich and famous with your Biden act. I mean if the mean people won’t give you what you deserve then make it. If only there were ANY, ANY DO TOU HEAR ME… Conservative media figures this could be done for you.Report

  3. Kolohe says:

    OW6 – Zoglin seems simply ignorant of the landscape. Colbert does a solid Joe Biden character, and he seems in fact to be having more fun with it than any of his Trump stuff, especially down the stretch. The Comedy Industry as a whole seemed to be really weary of Trump, even before the pandemic hit.

    part of the problem is that for most of our lifetimes, the go to schtick for politician mockery was to make up stuff that sounded like it could be them, but exaggerated, and was not actually them. e.g. all of Dana Carvey’s manerisms of Bush senior, and up to and including “I can see Russia from my house” for Sarah Palin.

    but the go to thing for Trump was to merely replay exactly what Trump said or did, because it was impossible to exaggerate. which got old by Spring *2017*. It’s telling that dialed-in impressions of Trump only really started going viral last fall, after literally decades of material to work with.

    eta – this makes me remember that thing the Onion went thru a little over a year ago where they basically apologized for their Diamond Joe character, because it made him ‘cool’ and the onion folks didn’t want Biden to be President.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

      Yeah, that story was surreal as hell. And it’s flipped around to being even more surreal after the election. (If you’ve never read the story, check it out.)Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Kolohe says:

      But of course we don’t make fun of Presidents to make fun of Presidents… we make fun of policies of which the Presidents are avatars. So, as Andrew pointed out in the gloss on the quotation… there are a thousand vectors from which you can goof on Biden; if only we could find one thing with which we disagreed. Or, risk that disagreeing with one thing might bring all the other things down. We can’t risk it. Comedy was never about risks… it was always about policy.Report

      • Kolohe in reply to Marchmaine says:

        If there’s a hot take that’s actually somewhat true, is that Amalgamated Comedy Method Enterprises, Inc will be comfortable making fun of Biden the way they never were and never did with Obama.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Marchmaine says:

        When did that shift take place? In my recollection, it was with Bush II. Liberals didn’t tease him, they hated him. Around the same time, conservatives began to revere Reagan with his passing.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Pinky says:

          Sometimes you get to do both… hate the policies and hate the man.

          But sure, if you’d like to open up space for the idea that there’s a ‘momento mori’ sort of humor that might have existed in the hey day of Johnny Carson… I’ll allow it.

          But that’s maybe the change you’re asking about… when did we shift from reminding our politicians that they are mortal and therefore mockable to comedy being part of the policy arm of the Arc of History? And moving from the Arc of History to simply backing a single party? That’s a move that accelerated throughout my lifetime… starting in the 70’s and reaching a highpoint(?) today where it is too dangerous to the project to even remind our politicians (of the right party) that they are mortal and therefore mockable.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Yeah. I have clear memories of presidential satire all my life. Something changed in the early 2000’s. A lot of things hit at once and destabilized the sense of togetherness that is a requirement for good-natured ribbing.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Pinky says:

              I’ve always said that you can only really satirize something you love… once you stop loving it? The satire falls flat.

              We’re in the high-point of sarcasm, which is the low-point of satire.Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Pinky says:

          I wonder what shifted more: the teasing or our collective response to the teasing?

          I’m 37 so I barely remember the Clinton days and only kinda/sorta remember the Bush II days.

          My impression is once upon a time a Late Night host could tease the President and everyone — regardless of party — could laugh along. Or at most say, “Bah humbug!”

          Now, it seems, a Late Night host teases the President and one side immediately takes to the intertubes to send viral videos of how “DEVASTATING!!!!!” it was while the other side takes to the intertubes to talk about how said Late Night host is a traitor.
          (Of course, this is focused on Intertubes dialogue, which is probably not representative of the population as a whole.)Report

        • North in reply to Pinky says:

          I was a tch too young when Clinton got elected to remember but I’m told that the right hated him with the fury of a thousand suns for ending the Reagan run. Certainly, I recall the angry incredulity liberals met Bush II’s election with but in their defense the manner in which he won was rather a squeaker and Bush II did end up being a bad president for the country and a flat out disastrous one for conservativism. So Clinton then?Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:


    Advocates for parents in marginalized communities, however, say the alarms raised about hidden abuse reflect ingrained biases in child protective services, too eager to remove kids from their homes and drag parents to court in the name of saving children.

    CPS typically has way too much subjective criteria for abuse. Even if most of that subjective judgement gets filtered out in court, that whole process is emotionally and financially draining on parents.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    “What is the goal of vaccine research” is one of those irritating things.

    I’m sure you all remember the “MASKS DON’T WORK” discourse from this time last year. They have to be N95! If they’re not N95, they’re useless! THEY MIGHT BE WORSE THAN USELESS! Wash your hands! Wash your groceries!

    And now, of course, we know that you need to wear a mask and the fact that people keep bringing up what people thought at the time without taking the context of what they were saying into context is really problematic.

    The vaccine discourse is pretty awful because the authorities want two things that are in tension.

    1. We want to get back to normal as quickly as possible
    2. A 90% reduction in Covid-19 deaths means that we’ve still got 10% of Covid-19 deaths and we’d probably be happiest with 2% Covid-19 deaths

    The various numbers I’ve seen online seem to indicate that something approaching herd immunity kicks in right around the population getting to 37-39% vaccination. That’s what happened in Israel, anyway. They tracked rate of vaccination with rabbinical funerals scheduled and, right around 37-39%, they fell off a cliff.

    The problem is that people tend to be toggled 1 or 0 and so when they ask “when can we have a wedding again?” they mean “when can everything go back to normal as if covid does not exist at all again” and what they mean by *THAT* is “when can we have a large group gathering with everyone we know and have it *GUARANTEED* that the only reason someone died is the gender reveal party?”

    And the answer to *THAT* is probably somewhere around 99.44% vaccination.

    So I’d say that it’s probably likely that we can do outdoor gatherings again if everybody mostly socially distances and mostly wears masks and can avoid hugging and making out even if you’re under 37% for the vaccinated guest list.

    If the guest list has achieved 40% vaccination, you can probably get away with maskless gatherings outdoors (don’t make out with anybody who is not already in your pod).

    When can we probably have something like a wedding reception, inside, and have it be guaranteed that nobody dies because of it?

    I don’t know. Guaranteed is a strong word. And that’s the problem.

    When is it likely? If I had to guess, I’d say somewhere around 50% (and that goes higher if people follow the “are you feeling under the weather”, “do you have a temperature” protocols like when they go to work).

    And people want to know if they can go back to normal without a crazy lawyer guy wearing a Death costume standing in front of their building when the authorities are looking at risk profiles and trying to figure out how to get r from “exponential growth” to “linear growth”.

    I have sympathy with Fauci when he says that he doesn’t want to name a date for when we can have weddings again… because if we have 1000 weddings, he’s thinking “okay, the question is whether 23 of them will be superspreader events, whether 17 of them will be, whether 10 of them will be, or whether 3 of them will be… and I’d prefer *NONE* of them to be” and most folks are thinking “only 977 will be perfectly safe events out of 1000? I like those odds!”Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      I have to assume that everyone knows that we’re going to live with ‘that virulent strain’ of flu that has higher mortality than the ordinary strains – which are still lethal (two of my uncles died in 2019 from ‘the flu’)… but after vaccinations the risk will be acceptable. Still, an unfortunate fact of the human condition… but not something we’re going to ‘eradicate’. Right? Everyone knows that, yes?

      … and, as the kids say, LOL
      “when can we have a large group gathering with everyone we know and have it *GUARANTEED* that the only reason someone died is the gender reveal party?”Report

    • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

      I admit that I am a little suspicious of the fact that “masks don’t work” from experts coincided with the period with the worst shortages of PPE for medical workers.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

        That, at least, could be spun by saying “they were lying in order to protect our medical professionals”.

        I mean, it’s a trick that only works once but, hey, if you’re in a global pandemic, you need that trick to work very, very badly.

        I mean, I’m not saying I *AGREE* with it, but I think I understand it enough to be able to defend it if I had to without making a strawman out of it.

        The problem now is that there is some seriously effed up messaging about vaccines as well. Can vaccinated people hang out in each others’ homes? Can they hug? Well… the officials don’t want to come down one way or the other on that. Can a couple of vaccinated people visit a couple of unvaccinated people if both of the unvaccinated people are in each other’s pod? Well… the officials don’t want to come down on the wrong side of that question either…

        Whether or not it’s fair, the message that getting the vaccine may not change anything for what you can do a couple weeks after you get it sends a message that “Vaccines Don’t Matter”.

        And “Vaccines Don’t Matter” sounds a *LOT* like “Masks Don’t Work”.

        And we already hammered out that that’s a trick that only works once.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:

          But the people who know what they’re talking about aren’t saying, “vaccines don’t matter.” They’re saying, “the covid vaccine doesn’t work the way you wish it did.” People (wrongly) expected that the vaccine would make them quickly immune so they couldn’t get infected and couldn’t be contagious, so they could behave as they chose because what they did wouldn’t affect anyone. Few vaccines do. People refuse to learn from the repeated examples the measles virus and vaccine give us from time to time.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

            But the message should be something like “you have to wait at least two weeks to get back out there, still masked up and you shouldn’t go out unmasked until six weeks after the second shot because of how immunology works.”

            Just something like “six weeks after 60% of the population IN YOUR AREA NOT OF THE COUNTRY IN YOUR AREA gets their second shot, you should be free to go to Chili’s again on a date with someone of unknown vaccination status, so long as you have had your shot” would be soooooooo much freakin’ better than “well, we don’t want to get nailed down”.Report

            • Philip H in reply to Jaybird says:

              But the message should be something like “you have to wait at least two weeks to get back out there, still masked up and you shouldn’t go out unmasked until six weeks after the second shot because of how immunology works.”

              Oh really? Like this:

              If you’ve been fully vaccinated:

              You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.

              You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

              If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.

              However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.


              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H says:

                I don’t see advice about going to Chili’s in there.

                I don’t see advice about going to catch a ballgame in there.

                Like, if Derek Chauvin is found not guilty of 2nd Degree Murder and there’s a hung jury for the 3rd Degree Murder charge and several hundred friends of mine and I want to go up to Pearl Street in Boulder and express our displeasure, is that something that would be considered risky for Covid-19 or not?Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird says:


                Killing my sister-in-law is an acceptable price for me to eat at Chili’s rather than in the car or park; killing her is an acceptable price to see the damned minor league baseball team in person; or to make the protest in Boulder. And if I’d just waited two more f*cking months so another 100-120M people including my SIL had shots, she didn’t have to die.

                It is clear that in two months things will be better.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain says:

                So what should the message be?

                “We, as a society, have a responsibility to maintain the quarantine just a little longer until we hit X% and then we can (insert event here) again.”

                I am down with having different X%s for different events.

                A BBQ in a friend’s backyard is different from a game night in their basement is different from going to a baseball game in an open stadium is different from going to the movies.

                But if we don’t have those X%s for those events, it’s going to cause a problem. Yes, I understand that vaccines don’t work the way we want them to.

                But it remains the case that Whether or not it’s fair, the message that getting the vaccine may not change anything for what you can do a couple weeks after you get it sends a message that “Vaccines Don’t Matter”.

                And “Vaccines Don’t Matter” sounds a *LOT* like “Masks Don’t Work”.

                And I’m down with saying X needs to be 45 for a BBQ, 52 for a game night, 60 for a ball game, and 70 for a concert.

                Or, heck, give me some numbers.

                But failure of the authorities to provide these numbers is a failure on the level of “3 weeks to slow the spread” and “Masks Don’t Work”.

                Without those numbers, people will just up and go. “Hey, I got my 2nd shot. And it’s been 15 days. We’re going to Texas Road House!”

                Those numbers as a goal will save lives. Failure to give them will cost them.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ratfishing the truth will kill vastly more.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    Let’s talk political orthodoxy and political compromise. Charles Blow writes about how bad Bill Clinton was: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/14/opinion/democrats-bill-clinton.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    The problem is that DADT was progressive for the time especially compared to what the military normally did. The country was also much whiter, much older, and more reactionary culturally. The Crime bill was bad but passed with veto proof majorities. Clinton vetoed welfare reform three times.

    But there is a certain kind of person in politics who insists the correct course of action is always militancy and holding the line. The truth is that the Democratic Party and UK Labour Party did spend a lot of time in political exile/wilderness and it took Clinton and Blair to bail them out.* This drives a lot of leftier types absolutely nuts** but “leftism can’t fail, it can only be failed” is just as bad as “conservatism can’t fail, it can only be failed.”

    One of my political memories from being a teenager is how it was a thing in the 1990s for people to state “I’m a progressive not a liberal” because liberal was such a dirty word back then.

    *Arguably federalism helped the Democrats here because they retained control of the House of Representatives from 1958-1994 and also controlled the Senate during this time except for 1981-1986.

    **With the exception of Harkin who did not get much traction and Mario Cuomo who famously dithered, Clinton was the most liberal candidate in 1992 probably. Tsongas ran as a deficit hawk and Brown ran as a flat taxer (yet Joey Ramone campaigned for him). His first two years in office were spent running to the left of his Congress and he got his ass kicked for it in 1994. This seems to be memory holed by the further left.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Tangential to the comments about political humor and the good old days, its worth remembering that Bill Clinton was derided by the Republicans as a Marxist, and Hillarycare was going to result in the gulag.

      That is to say, Clinton was the leftmost edge of the Overton Window, the most liberal candidate who could possibly have been elected nationwide.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        That’s not true at all. Clinton campaigned as a DLC candidate. He may have sought to expand government at times, but he wasn’t “the leftmost edge of the Overton Window” and no one ever claimed that. (I guess if you want to say that Democrats believed they had to move more toward the center, then he represented something leftward, but that was hardly agreed upon at the time.)Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky says:

          You must not remember any of Rush Limbaugh’s programs, or the rise of the militia movement in response to Clinton, or how Clinton’s election spurred the careers of Newt Gingrich and the radical right or how Ruby Ridge and Waco are to this day, dogwhistles for the right wing.
          Everything the Tea Party said about Obama, all the slogans and tropes and accusations of Marxism and gulags were identical to what we heard in the Clinton years.

          For extra fun, read that Wanted For Treason poster of JFK they posted before his Dallas trip.
          Half of the complaints were precursors to what was said about every Democratic President since then.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think the issue with DADT is that LGBT rights made lightning fast progress from DADT and DOMA to legalized same-sex marriage in 2015. This might be an entire generation but it’s really fast by political-social change standards. This makes people believe that you could just do more than some pressure.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “The problem is that DADT was progressive for the time ”


      It was progressive for the time, but it was also touted as a huge success, as in “we’re done fighting this fight, we’ve won, we have Gay Rights In The Military now”. Like, we can go back and say “thirty years on it was more art-of-the-possible than a real progressive move”, but it really was not seen that way at the time, it really was seen as a major victory for equal rights.Report

  7. Michael Cain says:

    Hope it works out well for you. Granddaughter #1’s school is in two buildings, K-6 in one and 7-12 in the other. They finished last year doing remote learning and were extremely unhappy with the K-6 results. For the fall, they spread out the desks, put up three-sided Lucite barriers on each desk, enforced masks, and every child got their temperature taken each morning. So far this year they’ve had two cases, one teacher and one kid, both of whom most likely got it outside of school.

    They tried in-person for the 7-12 group, got an outbreak each time, and are teaching that lot remotely.Report