Excellent Analogies

Thanks to my lack of technical skills, some of you may have received a link to this previously. (Don’t ask….)

This misbegotten administration has spawned humor as well as despair–not only are satirists and comedians having a field day, but recently, as Trump’s disastrous, fumbling response to the pandemic continues to endanger us all, pundits and others have looked for explanatory analogies to our current predicament.

The “go to” analogy, of course, has been to Germany in the 1930s–mostly but not exclusively to Hitler. Max Boot–one of the “Never Trump” Republicans–went with a different  angle.

Boot recently penned a column for the Washington Post titled “If Trump Had Been In Charge In WWII, This Column Would Be in German.” (The headline reminded me of a cartoon I saw recently, showing American soldiers in WWII, with one of them saying to a comrade something along the lines of “Wouldn’t it be weird if 75 years from now, the Germans were the good guys and we were the threat?)”

As Boot very plausibly rewrote history, with Trump instead of FDR in charge:

Picture the scene a few months after Pearl Harbor. The first U.S. troops have arrived in England, and the Doolittle raiders have bombed Tokyo. But even though the war has just begun, the Trumpified FDR is already losing interest. One day he says the war is already won; the next day that we will just have to accept the occupation of France because that’s the way life is. He speculates that mobilization might be unnecessary if we can develop a “death ray” straight out of a Buck Rogers comic strip. He complains that rationing and curfews are very unpopular and will have to end soon. He tells the governors that if they want to keep on fighting, they will have to take charge of manufacturing ships, tanks and aircraft. Trumpy FDR prefers to hold mass rallies to berate his predecessor, Herbert Hoover. He even suggests that Hoover belongs in jail along with the leading Republican congressmen — “Martin, Barton and Fish.”

Probably the most compelling analogy I’ve seen, however, was on a Twitter thread my son shared on FaceBook. It was an effort to explain reality to the anti-mask “freedom fighters” who want the “liberty” to infect the rest of us. (I know it isn’t a “politically correct” thing to say, but if they were just endangering each other, I’d urge them on…)

At any rate, the tweeter- Jeremy TEST/TRACE/ISOLATE Konyndyk–analogized the virus to poop in the swimming pool. As he pointed out, when a kid poops in the water, which  happens a few times every summer, everyone clears the pool. “That’s the initial step to protect people from the poop.”

Then some poor soul on pool staff has to go fish out the poop. It’s a pretty thankless job.

Then they have to shock the pool with chlorine to kill off bacteria. And then everyone waits half and hour or so til it’s safe to swim again.

If the lifeguards tell everyone to clear the pool, but the pool staff declines to actually get rid of the poop, what happens? No one can go back in. The poop is still there. Limbo.

Whose fault is it that it’s not safe to go back in the water? Who is accountable?

Do you focus on the people saying “clean up the poop before we can go back in safely!”? Or do you focus on the staff whose job it is to clean up the poop? And what would you think if the staff started saying – look, just get back in. Be a warrior.

As Jeremy points out, right now America is a big swimming pool with a poop problem and a President who– rather than clean up the poop– is urging everyone back into the pool. According to him, the *real* problem is those people who think the pool’s not safe yet. They must hate the pool.

The President’s whole play here is to distract from his failure to fix the mess by focusing the country’s attention on people who don’t want to swim in a pooped-in pool.

He wants you to believe they’re saying you should never go back in. And if you buy that, he’s off the hook. He doesn’t have to clean up the poop, and he doesn’t get blamed for failing to do so. Win-win for him.

But NO ONE is saying “never go back in the pool.” They’re saying – please clean out the poop first.

It’s an analogy even the limited intellects who are demanding the “freedom” to ignore everyone else’s rights ought to understand. But I’m not holding my breath…


  1. Could you use an app like threadreaderapp.com to capture the thread so that it can more easily be shared?

  2. If it remotely sounds like an attack against Trump, his pubic defenders will rise to the occasion. It’s an Ego thing…they self identify with Trump, so anything resembling a critique against Trump is a critique against them.

    I keep a few of them around on FB just for entertainment purposes. They’ve even come to the defense of the man when I simply quote some of the ridiculous stuff he says. This denial is pervasive. How do you explain to these people what “quotation marks” are and how they are used?

    I hope the world has acknowledged we are leaderless at the moment while an entire political party loses its spine to hold their members accountable. It’s a free for all in Washington. While we talk about analogies, the treasury is being looted. We’ve allowed a criminal con man access to intel, the treasury, and nuclear codes. He’s doing exactly what one would expect.

    Meanwhile, the opposition party to all this has put forth an inferior candidate who has a good chance of losing to the criminal in the WH. Sadly, his wife has to speak for him since he cannot complete a thought.

    At least the barometer of our capitalist economy is doing alright with trillions in subsidies from the treasury. No matter who wins in November, how do you propose we’ll clean up this mess?

    Will either party raise taxes on their donors to pay for all the “stimulus” cash handed out? What programs will be cut that actually help the people?

  3. Analogies are great and it keeps rational people from total despair as our unrepentant child president keeps pooping in the national pool. Except this child doesn’t care about anything except his own fate. He wants to get back in the pool so he can poop some more. But the child isn’t alone in this macabre analogy. His buddies, whom he has bullied for the last four years, must jump in with him, poop and all. In fact, he demands that they poop in the pool too. You know, a kind of bonding- with- the- bully moment. Mike Pence, the second pooper jumps in first. Now, the poop will be even harder to remove, because there are so many turds floating around and a very limited pool staff left to clean it out.

    Sorry. This is what quarantine looks like when the bad news, the death totals and the utter idiocy of Republican governors who deny the pandemic and, hypocritically, protect themselves while they open business and recreation facilities to the deniers.

    Graphs point out the steep rise in cases in those mostly Republican states. But, no worries. Those governors just stopped publishing data. The numbers look really bad, don’t they. Can’t have that. Stop testing because it looks bad. Open businesses and recreation (Like swimming pools?) so the deniers can laugh in the face of danger as they congratulate themselves for “winning” the argument.

    Today is an ad hoc day of national mourning for the 90+ thousand people who have died from the virus and, for the heroes who have charged into the maw of daily danger to treat the sick and try to save lives and lost theirs in the process. The White House? Crickets. The pooper in the White House doesn’t give a single shit about the people who die each day. To him, it’s all about getting reelected by those who swim in his pool that is filled with turds.

  4. As much as I despise analogous excrement, today’s column was spot on.

  5. Thanks, Vernon, for your anal-ysis of the WH-Hamburger-to-Number-Two- machine and his Number Two genuflecting Shitter-in-Waiting.

  6. It’s a good analogy, and it bears expanding. I’d like to point out that the “poop” isn’t just the virus. We’ve been fouling our own nest – the whole planet – for a long time now, and the pool is the whole world. We can get out of the coronavirus pool, but we’re still swimming in our collective poop. A vaccine and better treatment will bring the virus under control, but to really clean up the pool, we need Regenerative Economics.

  7. Carol Francis,

    I couldn’t agree with you more. As a scientist and engineer, I’ve been sensitive to the human dynamic that insists on soiling its one and only nest.

    I read a paper several years ago that determined that the Earth could adequately support no more than about 3.5 billion humans. That was the population of Earth when I graduated junior high school in 1957. Today, we have more than double that number. The thing is, we’ve evolved much more slowly biologically than we have socially. Ancient humans (200,000 years ago) just had to keep moving to find resources. The troves of ancient artifacts show that humans basically dumped their garbage, packed up and moved elsewhere, presumably since they exhausted the resources that kept the tribe alive.

    So, throw in a population explosion that the planet cannot sustain, capitalist driven consumption philosophy, a wanton disregard for husbanding anything but our own self-indulgence, religions that keep hyping reproduction and denying birth control and economies that don’t think past how much money (an abstraction) can be made in each three month period, and here we are.

    Too many people chasing too few resources as fast as they can to strip the tree of life….of life itself. The delicious irony here is that the cleverness that allowed us to survive predation, disease and each other, is driving humans hell-bent to their own destruction. Forgive the next irony from my quarantined, tortured mind: Maybe the rapture will take the form of mushroom-shaped clouds all over the world. Was Sodom and Gomorra a God-produced trailer for our ultimate demise?

  8. Oh Sheila! And I’m not referring to the “Ready For The World” song, LOL!

    I love analogies, because analogies are nothing more than a nonreligious parable! And, I love parables.

    “The Prodigal Son” is one of my favorites.

    “The Vineyard Workers” is another one.

    There are many many more, but Christ recognized it was an excellent way of teaching, an excellent way of making a point without bashing your head against the wall. So yes, this is been around a very very long time, analogies = parables =Truth!

    And, speaking of Germany during the 2nd world war, my great uncles, my grandmother’s brothers, related some very TRUMPIAN behavior amongst soldiers in the European theater! They related a story that I found fascinating.

    Black soldiers, usually went against protocol and altered their uniforms using local seamstresses and tailors as they blew through Europe pushing the Germans back. They would peg the legs, and widen the shoulders, sort of like a subtle military looking Zoot suit, LOL! My uncle Al especially said that this enraged many of the white soldiers, so, they put out this story to local residents; “that at midnight, black soldiers would grow a devils tail” this had an Unintended effect, It peaked the curiosity of the female population, it made the black soldier extremely popular amongst the ladies, much to the chagrin of white soldiers who were trying to demonize those black soldiers.

    They were kind of like the comic book characters in the later Marvel comic books. (The Nightcrawler) who was black and had a tail. This was actually taken from the story that was told by white soldiers.

    This reminds me of an interesting but appropriate Scripture, so bear with me!

    “Like an idiot throwing firebrands, arrows, and death, such is a man who deceives another and says ‘I was just joking, you know!’” (Proverbs 26:18, 19)

    So, like King Solomon said, “What has been is what will be, And what has been done will be done again; There is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

    So, we have Analogies, Parables, and my favorite, Prophecies!

    Anyway, this is my attempt to be lighthearted about the thread today, thanks again Sheila, it’s always a pleasure.

  9. Vernon,

    Suggested reading: “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. At this point, what else can we do?

  10. John Sorg, I agree with your sentiments about the power of parables. You may have read John Dominic Crossan’s book of the same name, “The Power of Parables.” Great read. The Good Samaritan is also one of my favs. Like most of his parables, they are infused and laden with political and/or economic lessons. Right from the get-go, the idea of a Samaritan being “good” is politically outrageous for the Jewish audience hearing this “story.” Kinda like one of us saying Trump is a good hearted man. But I digress. The idea that the hated Samaritan is helping and treating a left for dead Jewish man (while three Jewish professionals of religious, political and financial power had previously avoided their national brother lying in the ditch helpless and in dire need after being robbed and beaten nearly to death…) was absolutely infuriating to Jesus’ listeners.

    I used this parable MANY times as a great example for Universal Health Care, made to order. The enemy (Samaritan) gives open ended health care to his presumed political and social foe, the Jewish man beaten and left to die. The Samaritan takes the listless body to a place of care and compassion to be treated of his wounds. He essentially leaves his credit card at the establishment and tells the staff in charge to bill ALL charges for his needs (food, lodging, medicine,etc) to his account. I could just see Jesus’s peers being bamboozled, perplexed, stunned, angry and saying, at the very least, “What the fu*k???!!!”

    Jesus, in Mark, Mathew, Luke and Thomas is a political revolutionary. Period. I am convinced his politics regarding the values and ethics of “God’s Kingdom” (already here, don’t have to die to get there!) is what got him arrested, tortured and executed. NOT by some bs “plan of God.”

    BTW, this is called “progressive theology” for those not aware. Not unlike Progressive politics of FDR and Bernie Sanders. In fact, Bernie has more in common with his Jewish brother Jesus than the whole of Christendom!!! Seriously.

    Great article Sheila, as usual. Thanks. Love the comments too as always…

  11. I was present when FDR proclaimed Pearl Harbor Day as “a day in infamy,” an expression one would never hear from the clueless cretin we have today, who in return for Axis assurances that he would be their provincial governor, would likely have surrendered on December 8, 1941, and I would not have been in the South Pacific three years later (other than, perhaps, as a slave on some Japanese copra plantation).

    Nuances such as analogies explain much that cannot be conveyed in ordinary conversation, and Sheila’s offering today is beyond excellent in such connection. As for the demented soul, Trump, he is so absorbed in self that he cannot represent any other interest than his own. He can’t; it’s baked in, so it seems to me our task is not to humor him or be fearful of his tirades but rather to confront his idiocies one by one and persevere in removing him from an office he as a terminal narcissist cannot serve. I for one do not propose to surrender our democracy to a representative of the people who is not and cannot be a representative of the people but who rather and demonstrably, is a representative of himself. My message to the choir is as follows: I will not be voting for a dictator this fall, wannabe or established; nor for his Goring and Goebbels (McConnell and Meadows), nor for any of their ilk. Ever.

  12. My mother said it best.

    “Don’t be stupid.”

    And more often:

    “Don’t be selfish.”

    That timeless advice was sometimes accompanied by consequences that made it more memorable.

  13. Is there a difference between “argue” and “debate”?

    My political blogging and posting career (unfortunately) was launched during the Tea Party era when few were equipped for debate and many authoritarians couldn’t wait to argue.

    As recognition of another resurrection of black and white extremism recalled my childhood during and following WWII, I responded in kind.

    The results must have resonated with my stubborn inner child who sort of enjoyed the playground again. That was reinforced by the release of my required suppression during adult marriage, child raising and corporate engineering of nose to nose insulting.

    Ahhh, the good old days.

    Now that the Tea Party amateurish extremism has given way to professional politics and governance, my fun on the playground of my mind had to accept the same adversaries as of existential import.


    All of a sudden I wasn’t listening to the Lone Ranger, I was the Lone Ranger sans silver bullets and Tonto.

    As entertainment morphed into reality I was forced to accept roles both arguing but also debating which required study of real politics and governance and in the process discovered not only the fact of my coming out as a liberal but the rational basis for who I was.

    Now I feel ready willing and able to compete both in amateur playground arguing and professional debate depending on the situation.

  14. Then there’s the one: “The curve is flattening; we can lift restrictions now.” = “The parachute has slowed our rate of descent; we can take it off now.” The biggest difference is that Ms Kennedy’s would be mostly for younger people, taking an unknown risk, vs this one for those of us older than dirt, with attendant comorbidity, with about 99.999% fatality rate!

  15. Bradford Nelson Bray,

    Yes, I agree wholeheartedly! The good Samaritan is a wonderful parable, and I’m sorry I wasn’t able to engage earlier because I was out planting peach trees, LOL! I love peaches, I might as well grow my own.

    I also really like the parables of the TALENTS and the MINAS, which as you know, describe a person not advancing his knowledge out there to others, but being lazy and careless with his knowledge. His disciples were to fulfill their commission to preach, to make disciples, just as Jesus Christ had bestowed his Holy Spirit upon his disciples/apostles. So they were to take what he had given them and multiply it, basically preaching and making more disciples and turning those into congregations. There’s more to it but that’s the gist.

    Maybe I’ve found someone else to relate to on the blog, LOL most folks don’t like to be refer to parables or prophecies, most think that Scripture is made up and phony anyway. I’ve seen too much to believe that. I also agree that one size does not fit all, Jesus Christ was a progressive, he also was a socialist! He didn’t believe one was above the other, so he believed in equality for everyone. A very progressive viewpoint! It’s a shame religion had been hijacked by the right, because it actually has much more to do with the left than the right.

  16. I’m sure I’m just being pedantic, but in case anyone else is confused, too, could you change “him” to “Trump” in the following sentence:
    “According to him, the *real* problem…”

    I related “him” to Jeremy, so it took me a small while to figure out why Jeremy was saying that. 🙂

    In any case, I really enjoyed Jeremy’s analogy. I really relate to the WWII analogy, too. For lefties that can’t imagine voting for Biden, and prefer to instead protest his nomination by skipping voting altogether or voting for someone else (Green, say), I say they are not understanding the real situation. The GOP is in the midst of rigging all future elections, via gerrymandering, voter suppression, etc. With 2020 being a census year (and thus, time to redraw the districts based on the census) and RBG’s SCOTUS position almost certainly going to become vacant in the next few years, it’s not just a matter of the regular horrible things the GOP does when in power, they’ll be in a position to basically steal democracy from the country for the foreseeable future. They could create such a large advantage that Democrats may not be able to regain power for decades. (Plus, the dismantling of all the various agencies will continue, if not accelerate.) That brings us back to WWII: if I am choosing between a pro-Hitler candidate and an anti-Hitler candidate, it doesn’t matter that the anti-Hitler candidate isn’t as far left as I’d like, _I’m voting for the anti-Hitler candidate._

Comments are closed.