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Category: Politics

Right This Down
Chuck Jones, president of United Steelworkers’ local 1999, pointed out a while back that then president-elect Drump had made some rather large factual errors in his crowing over “saving” jobs at a Carrier air conditioner plant in Indiana. Chuck’s reward for fact-checking: a stream of petty vitriol from the future commander-in-chief and an exudation of dark warnings — let’s call them death threats — from anonymous online sources. I’m going to assume that the authors of those taunts are not advocates of universal health care or religious tolerance.

A month later, while the Electoral College was still in session, I read that a Republican elector who had declared his intention not to vote for Drump had been receiving threats against his own life and rape threats aimed at his wife and daughters. From a Black Lives Matter supporter? I don’t think so.

And then, of course, we have the more recent tipping over of Jewish gravestones, the burning of mosques, the murder of that Indian man in Kansas City, and the daily serving of hate and violence against The Other that fills our plate every morning. The right, right?

Come to think of it, when was the last time we heard of a threat of violence coming from the left? (Other than in a report from some nutty right-wing conspiracy source, that is?) I will select “never” as my answer, though I’m sure there are instances of Great Spotted Owl defenders turning murderous.

I guess some might classify anarchists as lefties. I can’t buy that, though. Steve Bannon is a bit of an anarchist, but I’ll wager doesn’t belong to MoveOn.org. Anarchists reside in a dark netherworld where left and right overlap. Cop-killers live there too, and predicting their politics is also a hopeless quest.

I’m not sure where this line of inquiry is leading me, but my aim is to follow my own (admittedly hazy) notions of evil and how it correlates to one’s position on the political spectrum. I have no solid conclusions as yet, but my working hypothesis is that Satan (if he existed) would be a Republican.

Still, we don’t want to paint with too broad of a brush here. I do know some fine, honorable, decent, loving, strong people with exquisitely beautiful auras who vote GOP. So I could be wrong in this, and I don’t want to be accused of getting ahead of the (up to this point) overwhelming evidence. While I’m waiting for absolute certainty on that front, I’m also working on another research project. This time the focus is on mass murderers.

All righties? Just asking, mind you, but the data I’ve seen so far is quite compelling.
Signs of the Times
I was in full solidarity with those protesters I saw the other day. They were out picketing a local appearance by Republican congressman Devin Nunes, chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Nunes says there is no reason for him to investigate Russian interference in our election or of their ties to our new president. He’s all over that Obama wiretap, though.

I regret not being one of those protesters. I need to be out there, because it’s important to take responsibility for what you believe in. I’m not talking here about the case against Devin Nunes (who is considered by many to be either a craven weasel or a loathsome parasite), but rather about an issue absolutely fundamental to our shared mission of resistance.

I’m talking about signs. Many of the picketers were brandishing them at the protest, and I confess that I was not impressed by the overall quality. Now, I want to be careful here. These protesters are my brothers and sisters in the cause. We share the same outrage, and we are ready to take action — including effective messaging.

My compatriots certainly had some things to say. There was one sign at the event that read, “Nunes, U.S. Intelligence Needs To Investigate Trump-Russian Connection.” I have no quarrel here with the signholder’s message. In fact, it precisely states why all those people were out there in the first place. But I am reminded of that old philosophical question. You know the one: “If a sign falls in the forest and nobody can read it, did it really have a point?” Maybe the holder’s fellow protesters could read the sign, but I don’t think they were the target audience. Anyone driving by would have to have been Evelyn Wood herself to take that all in. The only reason I saw it was that a photo of it appeared in the newspaper the next day. I am sure that Nunes, to whom the sign was addressed, could not have read it. The message, then, was never received.

We need terse, punchy signage if we want that to happen. Something that will pierce defenses and get through. Words of one syllable and not too many of them. Lettered clearly in a large, thick font. Black on a white background. These are the basics, people. If you have something to say with your sign, this is how it needs to be done if you want your message to be received. Beware of deviations from this model. If you want to use pictures, that‘s fine, but make sure they’re readable at a glance. Forgive my bluntness, but bluntness is what is needed. Especially on a sign.

“Do Your Job” is a recent good example. It’s punchy, and it carries several clear messages: we’re watching, we’re your boss, you’re not doing your job, we’ll fire your ass if you don’t. It does assume that the audience (the elected official) knows which particular job is being talked about, but that is a fair assumption in this case.

“Fuck Trump” has a nice clear message and it’s certainly punchy, but using the word fuck can turn off potential converts to whatever fucking philosophy you’re pushing. “This Shit Is Fucked,” however, is acceptable because it’s funny. “Electile Dysfunction” is also funny, but “We Shall Overcomb”… sorry, but no. “Free Melania” is somewhat amusing but rhetorically insubstantial. “Queef on Him,” even though it will send some people running to the Dictionary of Slang, qualifies nicely. When it comes to humor, we are walking a fine line, so be careful out there.

“Resist + Persist” connects to current terminology and actually tells a little story as well. Plus, it rhymes. “Dump Trump” is another good rhymer, as is “Hate Ain’t Great.” Of course, not every sign can or should have the same message. I don’t claim to have a recommendation for every righteous grievance. That’s your job.

I know it’s not easy, believe me. Making a good protest sign is like drawing a good political cartoon: it has to cut through the haze and get to the heart of the matter. I’ve been trying to come up with something for my own sign, and it’s been a challenge. “No One Is Above The Law” states my case, but it’s just too dry. A good sign needs passion or else what’s the point? I want to tell that gecko Nunes that the Constitution is more important than politics or policy or party or presidents. That’s a tall order in four or five words, especially when it also needs some flesh and blood on it. And maybe even some hair.

“Prune The Executive Branch”? “Impeach The Tangerine”? “We’ve Lost The Founders”?

I don’t know; none of those sound that great. Too cute perhaps. How about something more in-your-face? “Bite My Emolument”? “Tweet This”? Or better yet, go full tilt aggression with “Crush Orange!” or “Why Orange You In Jail?”

Too much? Maybe, but in times like these, even too much may not be enough.
Blue Jesus
If Jesus ran for president, I don’t think he’d promise to take health care away from 20 million sick poor people.

If Jesus ran for president, he wouldn’t pledge to turn away victims of oppression. He wouldn’t advocate for torture. Or take food stamps from the hungry. And I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t campaign on a hate-thy-neighbor platform.

One thing’s for sure, though. If Jesus ran for president, he’d win all of the blue states and none of the red ones.

Crazy Smart?
I noticed the other day that Drump insult-tweeted fellow millionaire Mark Cuban. “He is not smart enough to be president” according to our president. Our leader has also informed us on many occasions that he, conversely, is very, very smart.

I don’t want to get into a discussion here of whether Drump is a pathological liar. We cannot deny, though, that an alarming number of his declarations of fact turn out to be untrue. Let’s just say that he is not a reliable source of information on any subject, including comparative intelligence. But that’s not what I want to discuss either. Instead, I want to focus on a disturbing dimension to his chronic inaccuracy. I see it mostly in comments like the one about Cuban. To my eye, there is a maniacal symmetry to these attacks.

Let me give an example. Drump repeatedly refers to Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted.” Now, I’m not here to defend Ted, who does have some genuine issues with credibility, but it struck me when I first heard this that it might be an instance of the pot calling the kettle a bullshit artist. Our president does, as we have said, score quite high on the frequency of untruth scale — much higher than Ted Cruz. An impartial observer might well conclude that The Donald deserves the nickname more than The Ted. The mirror-image symmetry is striking. Accuse your opponent of the very thing you are guilty of. I know you are, but what am I?

And then there’s the “Crooked Hillary” meme. Drump promoted it relentlessly during the campaign in spite of the fact she’s never been accused of rape by her mate. Nor has she stiffed thousands of workers while skimming off profits for herself. Or ripped off customers on a Hillary University scam. Or broken the law by refusing to rent to black people. Or been fined for anti-trust violations. Or been accused of sexual assault by multiple victims. And despite walking very close to the line, she has never used her charity as a personal ATM…the way Drump has. Can we bring in our impartial observer again and ask him, who is the crooked one here?

Even his cracks about “low-energy” Jeb Bush might fit this pattern of symmetry. One could surmise, based on outward appearances, that Drump is lazy, incurious, incompetent, and willfully ignorant. He doesn’t attend briefings or read about policy or burn the midnight oil over anything other than insults and braggadocio. Aren’t these the hallmarks of a low-energy persona? It’s right there in the cracked mirror, Donald.

And so on. He decries fake news while making it in the very same breath. He loves leakers but hates to be leaked on. He drains the swamp by filling it up. And everything his opponents touch is a “disaster.” Has he been reading the news about the insane asylum he's running in the White House?

One might argue from all this that he, more so than Mark Cuban, is the one who is not smart enough to be president. We see the evidence every day in the media. He doesn’t know what he’s doing, and none of his hand-picked people do either. In this case, however, I must defend our president. He may not be very, very smart, but he is probably smart enough. The problem, however, is that he’s also a crooked, low-energy charlatan who knows you are...but what is he?

Crazy is scary no matter how smart you are.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee