STATUES OF LIMITATION

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The creatures in bags metaphor comes from Francisco Goya’s print “los ensacados” one of a series of etchings he called “Los Disparates” (The follies) done about the same time he was painting his similar in tone black paintings. Both series were the 70-something artist visions of hell on earth. In that print, and mine as well, “los ensacados” are arrogant plutocrats carrying on unaware of their moral limitations conducting business—and politics—as usual.

The politically sensitive series was not published until almost 40 years after Goya died in exile. It was then retitled, without irony, “Proverbs.” Seems like what Goya thought of as mad and absurd became good advice. Does time heal all wounds? I don’t think so, but it does seem to impose statutes of limitation.

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Some background, on the other metaphors; the donkey was used in the 1828 presidential campaign to both mock and praise democrat Andrew Jackson and later in 1874, Cartoonist Thomas Nast introduced the Republican as elephant one; Nast sometimes used the donkey to represent the democrats but other times he used it to represent the “liberal media.” Prescient, eh?

These days both Ds and Rs can be referred to as both similes. First they are both clearly “asses,” as the term refers to obstinate, or even perverse persons as well as to donkeys. And second they are both elephants too, for when the powerful but easily panicked beast is “in the room” it represents a problem everyone knows about but won’t try to solve. And both Ds and Rs are the problem shown here; they are all beholden to (in the sack with) donors at the expense of voters.

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Then there’s Ms. Liberty, who began as propaganda for the Franco-American flavor of government, then popular, but became one of a welcoming “mother of exiles” for “the homeless and tempest-tost” but now, as then I suspect, that meme is not backed by fact or law. But she’s still an appropriate part of the allegory about what the congress critters in bags—the new “new colossus”—is keeping separate from their theoretical constituency. She still represents that equal opportunity thing we hear so much about but haven’t felt in a long time. And sticking with Ms. Lazarus’ allusions, the only “golden door” is those already bedded down with her oligarchic “brazen giant.”

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