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Category: Politics

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?
Hard Truth
The harder
It is
To know
What is true

The more
That it matters
We are sure
That we do
Quit While You’re Ahead
Congressional Republicans are in a tricky position. They sat down at the poker table this election year and drew to an inside straight. The voters have dealt them an unbeatable hand of absolute one-party control of our government. But that lucky draw came in the form of the The Joker — an erratic, unpredictable, amoral opportunist who could either conspire with them in their grand plans or blow those plans to smithereens. They could rake in a political bonanza…or just as easily end up in the dustbin of history. It all depends on that wild card in the White House.

Of course, they could still fold their hand anytime they want to and go home a winner. If their agenda of fantasy-based policies of economics and social justice is ever truly threatened by Cirque de Drump, they are capable of ending this sorry presidency in a D.C. minute. All the evidence for a successful impeachment and removal is right there, ready and waiting. No need to pile on over Russia; that path is too risky anyway. The smart move would be to plug in to the Emoluments Clause. We’re only a hundred days in, and he’s already violated it many times over.

The votes would certainly be there. Every Republican member of Congress secretly detests Drump and pines for a President Pence. Pence is one of theirs: pious, plastic, and phony as a three-dollar bill. And most of all, he’s pliable. I think at least half of the GOP caucus, given the opportunity, would be ready to pull the ripcord on impeachment. As for Democrats, my guess is they will provide 100% buy-in no matter what the legal rationale.

To dump Drump, however, the GOP will also need a good cover story to spin for his faithful followers. Based on the history of this voting bloc, the story does not have to be true or even rational. A simple appeal to fear or hatred should do the trick.

There are a number of approaches that could work, and all of them require outright lying. As I have indicated, that will not be a problem. I am not endorsing any of these suggestions, mind you, but rather presenting them to the Republican Party to use as it sees fit:

1. Declare that Drump is black, and that he was born in Africa. It worked before, why not now? The fact that he appears to be white only makes his charade more insidious and frightening.

2. Label him as a female/latino/muslim/LGBTQ or some other Other. This story would not be as sure-fire as the claim of blackness, but it still represents a proven strategy. Note that claiming he is a black, female, latino muslim who is also L, G, B, T, or Q would have the highest chance of success. Ironically, the fact that such a claim would be patently ridiculous would also make it the most credible to the target group. Not sure why that is, but the record is clear.

3. Accuse him of being in league with any or all of these groups or of being genuinely concerned about their issues. A traitor, in other words, to people like you and me. Or at least like me; I’m not too sure about you.

For the record, claiming that Drump is in league with Putin — even though the ex-KGB assassin is a proven enemy of our country and a threat to our way of life — will not work. Also ineffective: proving that Drump’s policies would hurt the target group, that he is ripping off the country for millions, that he is dangerously incompetent, or that he actively despises members of the target group. All true, of course, but that’s irrelevant.

My only advice for the Grand Old Partiers is not to wait too long. Quit while you’re ahead. You’ve already got your Supreme Court justice; I suggest you slam through a fat tax cut, take away a few life-sustaining programs from the poor, and call it good. Cash out your winnings and put an end to the whole ugly spectacle. If you don’t, if you get greedy, this pile of garbage might just spontaneously combust and burn your sorry-ass party to the ground. The sooner you pull that ripcord, the better off we’ll all be.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee