06 March 2017


If you're planning a fire at the Reichstag, you can help ensure success by defunding the fire department first.

  • I did mention a fire at the Reichstag as a planned event… Of course, what the modern "anti-big-government" people carefully forget to mention is that something is going to fill the abuse-of-power vacuum left when there isn't an at-least-partially-accountable-to-the-governed government to do it.
  • I suppose it beats fighting over who hosts (largely scripted) "reality TV" shows. OK, maybe not.
  • It also beats wondering whether those setting the fire are smart enough to strike a match. Which means finding — and recognizing — a matchbook first; since "book" is part of "matchbook," we can breathe a little easier with this batch of aspiring firebugs.

    The real indictment of the media is that for the past twenty years or so — the era of Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report, at times Larry Wilmore's ever-changing show, and the continuing era of John Oliver's Last Week Tonight — those pointing out the, umm, transparency of the emperor's new clothes have been relegated to late-night TV comedy shows. Guys, I could come up with a half-hour's-worth of similarly pointed material (admitedly, almost certainly not as well done) every week on just Chicago politics and related follies, and I haven't even lived in Illinois for five years! The real problem is not that Voltaire has no following; it is that, in an age in which media ownership depends not upon the equivalent of "admission fees" but upon the whimsical and self-interested patronage of advertisers, they haven't figured out how to make Voltaire a regular component of their serious coverage. (Or, perhaps more disturbingly, they have… but they're not willing to do it because that might offend some of those patrons.) Thus, they prelabel satire as merely "comic relief," not worthy of being taken seriously. Even parody gets more serious attention, because at least parody is inherently protectable as fair use. (Ironically, the Court bungled the definition of "parody," but that's an argument for another time.)