35 Cents Cheap

When we think of Mad magazine, we think of Jack Davis.

We could think of Dave Berg, or Antonio Prohias, or Al Jaffee, or Sergio Aragones, or Norman Mingo, but no, it’s Jack Davis who lands first.

When we think of Mad, we think of the artists. The Usual Gang of Idiots included writers, of course, and one William M. Gaines, but now Dick DeBartolo comes to mind.

One writer. Took a moment.

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Springtime for Hitlers

We thought we understood fascism.

The American kind, anyway. The kind that almost consumed the country in the 1930s, as it had consumed others. The kind rooted in economic depression, in desperation, in opportunistic leadership. The kind rooted in fantasy, a quick fix to an unsolvable, unendurable crisis.

We thought we understood that.

We thought we understood that all problems are economic, when you cut through the bullshit. Healthy countries — economically healthy countries — don’t have these problems. We all get by, we all get along. We all have a roof over our heads.

We wuz wrong.

And thing is, we knew this. After all, we had lived through it. Still are.

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Fear and Voting in America

It began in 1972, near as we can tell. You could say that it really began in 1968, or 1964, or 1954, or even 1865 — nothing happens in isolation — but if we’re gonna get at what it is, we’re gonna pin it on 1972.

1972 is the year Democrats lost their nerve. 1972 is the year George McGovern lost to Richard Nixon. Big time. Like, 49-state big time. Jokes about the Socialist Republic of Massachusetts were popular during our teen years.

Democrats never recovered from that one. It’s perverted everything they stand for. Still does.

Democrats are afraid of losing.

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Raise Hell and Take Names

Last weekend, the New York Times published a sympathetic profile of longtime Trump confidante and former presidential adviser Hope Hicks. We know it was sympathetic because it described Hicks’s anguish over a decision whether to testify about Trump to Congress.

The story called that decision an “existential question”.

Twitter had fun with that. Twitter also had fun with the fact that the existential question was whether to obey the law. Hicks wasn’t entertaining an invitation; she was deciding whether to comply with a subpoena.

The fashion-shoot portrait accompanying the story didn’t help, either.

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America’s Original Sins

We live in a corrupt state. It’s not just bad actors — we’ll always have those — it’s the system itself. It’s corrupt in its construction. The compromises necessary to its founding — America’s original sins — have rotted it from within.

We don’t want to believe this. We’re good people! And hey, some 60 percent of us, depending on the day’s polling, really are. We want to do good, be good. Collectively, we have that spirit.

And our corrupt structure of government crushes it.

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Tim Conway (1933 – 2019)

No one could play the straight man when he was in gear …

The Fall of Democracy in America: An Oral History

“Iraq in its quest for democracy lacks only — only! — what America then had: an existing democratic culture.”

George F. Will, Winter 2004

“As experience in Eastern Europe has shown, democracy doesn’t mean simply holding elections. First, you need a democratic culture, or what is usually called a civil society.”

Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2003

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