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No More Excuses
I want to be fair to my fellow citizens. I know that not everyone pays attention to the news. Most people turn off the political noise and just try to keep up with the ordinary demands of everyday life. Unless you’re obsessed with this stuff, you might skip over some of the details of what is happening in our country — or even miss the big picture entirely. I get that, so I have learned to accept that good people can make bad decisions in the voting booth and fall prey to misunderstandings about what is true and what is not.

Now that we approach the two-year mark of the Trump era, however, I am dropping that disclaimer. If you still think that Donald Trump is a good guy and a great president, then I am holding you responsible for all the bad stuff that’s happening. Not Fox News, not InfoWars, not the morally corrupt “leaders” populating the political right, not even Drump himself. You.

For starters, you are charged with the responsibility of knowing that the President lies all the time. His lies are now your lies.

You should have realized by now that he doesn’t know jack about public policy, either foreign or domestic. His ignorance is yours, too.

He clearly doesn’t care about anyone but himself. His manifest lack of compassion and simple decency are now ascribed to you as well.

Do you think his stoking of hate and fear make him at least partly to blame for the sharp rise in hate crimes during his tenure in power? Even if you answered “maybe” to that question, then the blood is on your hands.

And if all of that weren’t bad enough, there is also the cruelty. It’s key to the Trump brand. Cruelty toward enemies, toward The Other, toward the vulnerable. If you are a passenger on the Trump train, then you are a partner in his cruelty. And if you find yourself enjoying the ride, if you are getting off on dehumanizing your fellow human beings, then it is time to check yourself, citizen.

I’m not saying you’re a bad person. That’s for you to decide. But if you are dancing to the music, my friend, then you are part of the show. And that is 100% your fault. Ask whoever you want: Jesus, Buddha, Yoda, Mr. Rogers, Jiminy Cricket. These are the kinds of impulses you’re supposed to fight. If you fail, it’s not because the Devil made you do it, it’s because you let him. Again, it’s all on you.

I’d like to see you come back to your humanity. Let go of the lies, the ignorance, the hate, and cross back over. Like I said, I want to be fair. Bring your boneheaded political views if you must. We’ll be able to work things out somehow.

But please, leave the cruelty behind.
Fork It Over
I hope you don’t mind my asking, but are you rich? Well-to-do, maybe? How about upper middle class? If you answered yes to any of these, I have some good news for you and some bad news.

First the good news. It’s probably not news, really, just a reminder about something you may tend to forget sometimes: you’ve got plenty of money. Now, you might argue with the term “plenty,” but let’s face it — you’re not hurting. And if you own more than one residential property, you’ve certainly got plenty of room to spread out.

Which leads us to the bad news: you need to pay more taxes. Oh, I know…it’s already too much. They’re bleeding you dry as it is, even with that new tax cut, and you can barely make ends meet. Believe me, I get it. Still, I must insist. And if you’re in that “rich” category, you’ll have to pay a lot more.

Still reading? Good! And look, if you don’t believe me, ask Thomas Piketty, the French economist who’s gone deep on the subject of income inequality. Briefly put, Tom’s research shows that when people get too rich, society in general does poorly. His solution: more taxes on the rich and even more on the super-rich — for everybody’s sake.

It’s not just that our government needs the money, even though it’s not cheap to keep a First World country up and running. No, the main rationale for a high graduated income tax — like we had back in the good old 50s — is that it’s the best way to preserve and nurture the free society we are all lucky enough to live in.

If you need evidence, take a look at the current state of affairs. Taxes on the high end are much, much lower than they were in the 50s, and the gap between rich and poor has grown enormously. There are many potential problems associated with such a disparity, but the place where it seems to be showing up most is in housing. The rent, like the man said, is too damn high. Teachers, cops, firemen, and people with plain old regular jobs can no longer afford to live in the communities they work in. So much of their income is gobbled up by housing that they can’t save, and their kids have to go deep into hock to go to college. Not only is this not a sustainable system, but it builds in unhappiness and kills hope.

This ugly side effect of income inequality is among the first we see because the rich (and the well-to-do, and the upper middle class) put a lot of their free capital into real estate. And why not? It’s a time-proven method of making more money. Flip this house? Sounds fun, sounds savvy, sounds profitable. And it is for those who can afford to do it. If, however, you are a member of the middle class or lower — like most people — all you see from this phenomenon is a rise in the cost of living.

Those tax cuts the supply-siders sold to us are at the root of this problem. They launched income inequality into the stratosphere by allowing the wealthy to keep most of their money. Like most stupid humans, the wealthy went for short-term profits with their investments, not ventures that would benefit society over the long run. That’s human nature, I guess, and one reason why pure capitalism will cripple a free society if left unchecked.

That’s what taxes are for…not just money for the things we all need, but as a brake on the ravages of runaway acquisitiveness. And the more people acquire, the more we have to take from them. High taxes will make for a happy, hopeful society.

So, rich folks…for the good of all (including you), pay up. Thank you.
Semi Glossary
atheist n. An agnostic overcome by hubris.
6
There are many fine numbers, of course. 1 is at the top of many lists. Good things come in 3s, they say (though they say that about bad things, too). 21 will win at blackjack and permit you to belly up to the bar. 42 is a nice one, combining as it does two of the luckier numbers while featuring the Jackie Robinson connection. 10, 100, 1000, and 1,000,000 are members of an elite group that all hold the very first position in their categories. Their admirable simplicity, however, is thought by some to be strictly boresville.

I could go on, and even approach infinity. But why bother? Most people agree, I think, that the best number out there is 6. Duh, right? Just in case you didn’t say “duh,” allow me to summarize the evidence: even though it would be shallow to assert that physical appearance has any real importance, let’s just admit right off that 6 is the most beautiful number (with 9 a close second). It’s round (though far from being a 0) and lovely without being too heavily made-up. A wholesome, all-natural number — the kind you might bring home to meet the parents.

6 pairs well with almost any other number (although not, ironically, with 66). It has no sharp edges, no special demands, and is completely free of controversy. You would certainly have no second thoughts, for instance, about rounding up from a 6 (as you might, say, from a 5). It might be suggested that it is unpleasant to be at 6s and 7s, but think about it. Without getting too deeply into personality types (or criminal records, for that matter) which of those two numbers do you think is the real problem there?

“(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” moreover, is a very catchy and upbeat musical number. Is there anyone who doesn’t love a 6-pack, whether bottled or abdominal? What sense is more mysterious and intriguing than the 6th sense? And where would we be without the 6th Amendment? In jail, that’s where!

Numerologically speaking, 6 represents Gaia, the giver of unconditional love. It also symbolizes home and hearth, loving relationships of every kind, and deep compassion bordering on empathy. What more could you want from your favorite integer?

6 is similar, both in sound and spelling, to the word “sex.” Sex, in case you are not familiar with the concept, offers a wide range of health benefits, including enhanced cardio-vascular performance, improved higher brain function, and resistance to nail fungus. It is also thought to be the absolute best method of procreation. Six, perhaps not coincidentally, provides the same benefits. And even a bad six is better than no six at all.

The sax, widely accepted the best musical instrument, shares the same kind of affinity. You’d be crazy to shrug off these kinds of “coincidences.” Indeed, the fact that there is no such word as “sux” might even be considered conclusive proof of this theorem.

Perhaps the only blot on 6’s escutcheon is Surfside 6, the unlikely 60s TV show starring Troy Donahue as private eye “Sandy” Winfield II and Diane McBain as his yachty neighbor. To make matters worse, the show was a cheap knock-off of 77 Sunset Strip. Sadly, that kind of inter-digital stain is indelible. I only mention this unfortunate piece of trivia in the interests of fairness. Which reminds me — 6 is also the fairest number!

Wait a minute. Have I gone too far? Okay look, I’m sorry about all the bad puns and, you know, the clumsy word play. I really shouldn’t allow myself do that. I can only tell you that when I think about the pain and discomfort I may have caused others, it makes me six to my stomach.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon