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Take This Blame and Shove It
Of all the spectator sports we watch or play, is there any less enjoyable, less satisfying than The Blame Game? It may be unique among all such pastimes in that there are no actual “fans,” as such, of the sport. We watch it with the same grim fascination we reserve for multi-car pileups on the Interstate. We just can’t tear our eyes away from the unfolding pageant of horror.

Other than that sick obsession, there is really no reason to watch. The play is always dirty, there are no rules to speak of, and there are no feats of individual skill or daring to admire. None of the players is worth rooting for, and we are all debased by our participation in the awful spectacle.

Worst of all, there is never a clear winner. No thrill of victory, no agony of defeat, no genuine human feeling of any kind. Just endless polling and punditry and egregious flapdoodling to fill our moments of idle dread. And yet, these contests are thought to have real world consequences, especially in the political realm. Although that proposition remains unproven, those of us who follow The Blame Game never doubt for a moment the solemn importance of this bloodsport.

The recent shutdown drama is a case in point. There was some light chatter about the human consequences of interrupting vital government services, but most of the energy was spent on divining who the winners and the losers would be. And was there some point to all of that? No… because no one could agree on what the score was. It was an utterly meaningless exercise.

It is past time that we do something to address this situation. We need an exact time when the clock runs out, — a moment when we can clearly discern who the winners and the losers are. Come to think of it, I don’t care that much about the winners. It’s the losers I want to know about. In other words, when all is said and done, who can I blame?

One thing I don’t want to hear is this lame pronouncement: “There’s plenty of blame to go round.” No, there isn’t. I want the name of the s.o.b. who screwed up and I want him to take all of the heat. I need a specific individual so that I’m not diluting my aggrievement by spreading it around. Who killed the Kennedys? Contrary to what the Rolling Stones might tell you, it was not you and me. Lee Harvey Oswald and Sirhan Sirhan did it, and those are the guys I blame. That’s the kind of specificity I want. Names and stats — especially the final score. I want a head for that dunce cap, a neck for that noose.

But how do we make these determinations? Ordinarily, I would suggest a blue-ribbon commission for such a task, sober and considered people to weigh all the evidence. I fear, however, that we would be taking its members away from more important duties. So how about a red-ribbon commission? I’d settle for that. Red-ribbon commissioners probably wouldn’t be doing anything so vital that we couldn’t convene them as celebrity judges on The Blame Game. They’d be like a Supreme Court for blaming. The difference is that there are no money or rights or jail time on the line — just the reputations of the guilty parties.

Episode One of the Shutdown Blame Game has now come to an end. Surely there will be an Episode Two, but I’d rather not wait to start assigning blame. If our red-ribbon commission actually existed, we would have their verdict already. We could place the blame accordingly, get back to our lives, and resume our worry about things that actually matter. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Sweat Logic
Don’t sweat
The small stuff
That’s what
People say

And don’t sweat
The big stuff
It’s hopeless
Anyway

Only if it’s
Middle-sized
Should you
Even try

And even then
It’s better when
You stay
Completely dry
A Roll of the Dice
We have never witnessed anything quite like the spectacle now unfolding in our nation’s capital. The drama is not limited to the White House, though the president does impart an orange stain to everything he touches. Perhaps the most riveting act in this three-ring circus is the show being staged in Congress.

There have been comparisons of the Trump-Russia story to Watergate and to the Clinton impeachment saga, but this one is different. Neither of those crises involved our national security or struck at the heart of our democratic system. There was wrongdoing, but a third-rate burglary and lying under oath are just not in the same category as Trump’s quasi-treason or the massive corruption of our right to vote. What’s more, in those cases the wrongdoing was over and done with by the time Congress stepped in. The Russian attack on our rights and sovereignty continues to grow even now. And our Republican Congress has done nothing to stop it.

It is hard to explain exactly why that is. You don’t have to be a cynic to know that politicians will abandon their principles to hang onto power, but most people would predict that even the most shameless pol would balk at foreign powers taking control our government. Lindsey Graham, for instance, is not likely to land a job in a Putin administration. Why, then, are he and his GOP colleagues treating this dire situation with such casual partisanship?

None of us really knows the answer to that, but I have a theory. There are some crazies in Congress, especially in the Freedom Caucus of the House of Representatives, but I don’t think Lindsey and his co-conspirators are among them. I don’t even think he has abandoned his long-held suspicion and dislike of the Evil Empire. He has served the interests of Vladimir Putin by trying to discredit any investigation of the Trump-Russia entanglements, but I sense a larger plan at work here.

It all comes back to that orange stain. I believe that the Republicans (the craven-but-not-crazy ones) are almost as anxious to expunge it as most Americans. But that’s not so easy for them. His base, after all, is their base. That group includes the nationalists, racists, alt-righters, conspiracists, and a lot of other nutcases that they have cynically nurtured over the last few decades. If Lindsey and company were to try to dump the Orange One without a solid reason, the base would surely dump them.

So what to do? To me, their despicable tactics are part of a big, dangerous gamble. They are daring to defend the indefensible now, protecting Trump on every front, but they are looking for the perfect time to pivot and help drive him out of the White House. That moment, according to their plan, will be provided by the Mueller investigation. They will undermine his credibility, but they are betting that it won’t stick. Mueller and his band of cold-eyed prosecutors will find plenty — plenty — of impeachable offenses. When that day comes, Republicans will solemnly, and with the deepest sadness, give in to the mountain of indisputable proof. They will choose country over party and join the Democrats in the impeachment and conviction of Donald J. Trump.

It is a gamble, though. For one thing, the base might desert them anyway. Even if Trump goes, the orange stain will still be there, and some of it will be on them. Whatever honor they can claim now will surely be compromised. Lindsey Graham will be stuck with a record that not only includes comforting Vladimir Putin, but also undermining our justice system and abetting the largest single instance of voter fraud in U.S. history. He and his friends are rolling the dice and hoping it won’t make any difference to the voters. And it could work. All of these issues may be at the very heart of Republican orthodoxy, but hey, they’re just principles. As we have said, the lust for power often trumps such concerns.

There is always a chance, of course, that they overplay their hand and end up seeing their efforts to discredit Mueller succeed. The investigation would end, Trump would still be there, and so would the massive Russian intrusion into our democracy. But heck...nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I admit that all of this is an ugly scenario. If true, it would be a dark episode for our republic. Honestly, though, my theory is really very Pollyanna-ish. It assumes the absolute best about Lindsey Graham, given what he has already done. The truth could be much, much darker. His complicity could be even deeper, his crime against the common good even more reprehensible.

But I really don’t think so. Or maybe I just prefer an explanation based on ugliness rather than full-out criminal insanity. I guess that is my gamble.
Ripped Off Again
I really thought I was onto something the other day. I imagined that I had stumbled upon an insight that could heal the divisions in our country and set us on a track toward the trust and understanding we will need to face the challenges of our time. It might, I dared to think, even save humanity.

Before setting out on my quest, however, I decided to look up the term “Libertarian Socialism.” That is the transcendently ironic name I had decided to give to my movement. I was certain that the conceptual tension between those two words would be the crowbar needed to pry people loose from their staid convictions and open the way to my rescue of planet Earth.

As I so often find when I google one of my bright ideas, however, someone else had it before I did. There is already something called Libertarian Socialism. What’s worse, its advocates actually believe it’s a workable governing philosophy. That, in my view, completely misses the point of Libertarian Socialism.

These people believe, among other things, that there shouldn’t be any state at all. Society under their flag would probably have no flag at all. The people would have all the power, and civil order would be kept by…well, I’m not certain how. I’m not necessarily pro-flag, but I have found that at least 25% of my fellow citizens are irredeemable boneheads. They are the reason we need a state, dudes. We just have to make it as fair and open as we can…and socialist, obviously.

That’s just one man’s opinion, of course. These people are also entitled to their opinions, and I’m right there with them in their distaste for authoritarians and unbridled capitalists. I guess my main complaint is that they stole the name of my movement — even though they thought of it first.

The beauty of my Libertarian Socialism is that the two words are mutually exclusive. The conceptual impossibility of this philosophical connection is the very source of LS’s power to unite. Think of it as a dynamic paradox. Libertarian Socialism, if its name had not been usurped by these misguided utopians, could have allowed the coexistence of our natural desire to help others with our equally natural desire not to be told what to do. More and more, I am convinced that the clash of these two motivations is at the root of all political discord. LS is not so much a philosophy of governance as a touchstone for meditation.

I don’t know, maybe it’s hopeless. Maybe I should just stick with Democratic Socialism and hope the right-wing populists finally wise up. Trouble is, that would require them to move toward me. They can’t be expected to like that any more than I would like moving toward them. Under Libertarian Socialism, we’d already be under the same tent — brothers and sisters living lives of paradoxical dynamism together.

So I am not going to give up on my mission. The door is still open to all you Anarcho-Syndicalists (my preferred name for the original LS’ers). Join me, and together we can rescue planet Earth from the corporatists, the fascists, and all the other control freaks who have been busting our chops for so long.

Power to the people! Especially me!
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee