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Category: Politics

Got Guilt?
There was a time when it was considered unwise to call yourself a “Liberal.” It supposedly opened you to charges of being a pinko, a fuzzy-headed do-gooder, and someone who is overly generous with other people’s money.

Well, I am proud to say that I am a liberal, and that I’ve never shrunk from the L-word label. I’ll even cop to those charges, although pink is not really my best color. I’ll also admit that, like any good liberal, I am riddled with guilt.

One thing I don't feel guilty about, however, is feeling guilty. It’s one of the things that motivates me to do good. And it’s good to good, so what’s the problem? There are some side effects, but nothing too serious. Too much of it can tie you up in knots and actually keep you from doing anything, including good. But if you get the proportions just right, a little guilt can keep you humble, which is critical if you want to do right. As long as you’re genuinely trying to be nice, you can safely let the guilt eat at you — as long as it doesn’t rise to the level of shame. Shame is a different strain of internal blight, and I try as hard as I can to avoid getting into that frame of mind. Fortunately, that little bit of guilt can act like an inoculation against the soul-eating cancer of shame. I’m lucky to have kept it to a minimum so far.

No one would ever accuse the Republican leadership in Washington of being liberal. For one thing, there is no evidence that they are even slightly burdened with guilt in the way that I am. Which leaves me to wonder: what motivation do they rely on to do good? Perhaps they are driven by some higher purpose I am too dim to perceive, or maybe they are attuned to the whispering of angels. They could, I suppose, just be naturally wise. I just don’t know.

But somehow they’ve managed to effortlessly arrive at a place it’s taken me a life of anguish and self-doubt to get to: they are almost completely without shame.
Treasonish
“It’s not treason.”

That’s one of the latest rationalizations about Little Donny’s meeting with the Rooskis to land with a thud on the sidewalk below Trump Tower. I think the Drump team was referring there to the very restrictive definition of treason under Article III of the Constitution. Article III seems to be talking very specifically about wartime “enemies.” We are not technically at war right now, so their assertion would likely be true no matter how nefarious the dealings that took place in that room. Even so, the assurance is something of a comfort.

If true. But truth, sadly, seems to be mostly an inconvenience to Donald, Donny Jr., and the rest of the Drumpsters. You’re better off assuming that whatever they say is a lie than wondering if they’re telling the truth. Furthermore, as the Drump Era comes into clearer focus, we are seeing some evidence to justify the assumption that whatever they do is likely to be illegal. That meeting might have violated any number of election laws, some of which are felonies.

Or it might simply have been have been extraordinarily unwise. Or clueless or incompetent or crazy or just plain stupid.

Although not treason. Nor is it money laundering, even though one of the participants was recently busted for that crime. Nor hacking, though another attendee has a record of such activity.

It is possible that the word “treasonous” might apply to this situation. We’d need to know more to be sure. The distinction here is that you can be put to death in this country for treason as it is described in the Constitution, but plain old treasonous activity like betraying your country and all it stands for will not get you the hangman’s noose. Treasonousness, like collusion, is not a crime.

For now let’s agree that “it’s not treason.” Little Donny will not swing for his crimes, whatever they are. In fact, he might even get a show on Fox.
Play It As It Lies
There is so much ugly news flying around these days, it’s easy to miss stories that would otherwise lead the news every night. In the middle of a garbage storm of this magnitude, real, important news can go unnoticed. And sometimes, perfect little vignettes of political theater can go unappreciated.

Last Friday, as the maelstrom of mendacity swirled alarmingly up and down the Capitol Mall, a lovely one-act play presented itself in the White House Rose Garden, and those lucky enough to see it witnessed the essence of this moment on the arc of the Drump presidency.

After all the obvious lying we’ve heard, after seeing that none of it seems to matter to his base, we have finally arrived at a juncture where the importance of truth is at center stage. On the one hand, we have the oath-bound word of James Comey, someone who comes across as a lifelong straight shooter, and on the other a president who seemingly lies without reason or purpose. Each calls the other a liar, we are asked to pick a winner, and our decision will have meaning.

Which brings us to the Rose Garden. There stands Drump, puffed up with manufactured outrage, deriding Comey as a perjurer and a “leaker” and a coward, while proclaiming his own honesty. Beside our president stands Klaus Iohannis, President of Romania and Drump’s co-star in this press conference.

Mr. Iohannis does not offer an opinion on the Comey testimony, but the press has other questions that do concern him. A Romanian reporter asks if the visa waiver program had been discussed during their private meeting. Without hesitation, Drump answers “We didn’t discuss this,” then defers to Mr. Iohannis for his comment. Without blinking, the Romanian president says, “I mentioned this issue, and I also mentioned it during other meetings.” He then goes on at length to elaborate on why this issue is important to him and his country.

And there you have it. In a press conference in which Drump has just declared his own unimpeachable probity, he is caught lying through his Great White Shark teeth. Effortlessly, for no good reason, just to keep in practice.

The dramatic timing of this scene is exquisite. At the very moment when the relevance of truthfulness has become central to our national politics, we are presented with a little playlet which has truth and falsehood as its theme. Better yet, the Liar-in-Chief is actually a player in the drama!

It has always been a mystery to me why people didn’t immediately detect the odor of bullshit that emanates from Donald Drump. Back in the 80s, when I first took notice of him, my very first gut reaction was that this guy is full of it. Pure con man, my radar told me then — and he is even more bloated with it now. The entire continent of Europe can smell it all the way across the Atlantic.

I am convinced that most Americans picked up those same signals, but that some of us decided to ignore their gut response. Either that, or they decided that truthfulness wasn’t that important when it comes to politics. After all, politicians as a group have a reputation for lying, so what’s the big deal if we elect a professional liar — or even a pathological one?

Klaus Iohannis is a politician, too, of course. So maybe he was the one lying about that visa waiver thing. My gut doesn’t have an opinion, but I did notice that he did not hesitate to differ with the most powerful man in the world while standing next to him in his own back yard. He spoke simply and matter-of-factly, just as James Comey had.

So who is the liar? And what is the moral of this drama? We will have to decide eventually.
Fearless Leader
Let’s admit it. We’ve been chumped out by the French. Us, the 800-pound gorilla! By the French!

Now, I want to make clear that I have nothing against the French. They’ve saved our bacon in the past, and we’ve done the same for them. Lafayette is welcome in my home anytime, and Paris is, you know, Paris. The cooking is overrated, but the people get a bad rap. They’re good buds, but we’re #1, right? Yeah well, maybe not.

First, it was their resounding electoral rejection of the hate-activated nationalist Marine Le Pen. That was something we couldn’t quite pull off here with our own bigot-in-chief. And now, it turns out le jeune dweeb who beat back those forces of darkness is not a dweeb at all. Brand new French President Emmanuel Macron made two international superbullies both look bad in the space of a couple of days last week. First, he made our representative (that’s Drump, remember) say uncle, defeating him at his own game of alpha male grip-off while smiling sweetly for the cameras. Then he dissed Putin to his face, irking him in a way only the elite French can, by telling the truth and not backing down…again with that cheerful insistence.

Angela Merkel also got in on the fun. She had just faced down a nationalist fringe uprising in her own country, then went on to show up Drump by meeting first with Barack Obama and thoroughly enjoying his company. After that, she participated with Macron in a very sly suckering of Drump in which the new French leader seemed to head toward the Orange One and his outstretched, stubby-fingered hand, then veered off at the last moment to shake Angela’s hand and the hands of several other European leaders. Later, she delivered a we’re-on-our-own-now statement that seemed to thumb the European nose at our current president and show a united front within the EU.

As I say, chumped! France and Europe looked stronger and more solid after the NATO summit, and we (thanks to some butt-ugly bumbling by our team captain) came out a loser. If there is still a leader of the free world, it ain’t our boy, gang. Right now, that title just might go to the freshly-minted President of France (and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra) Emmanuel “the man” Macron.

Care for some freedom fries, mon amie?
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee