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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gravity

On a Virginia bluff overlooking the Potomac there stands a flagpole.

It is, truly, a monument to a terrible moment in American history.

The plaque on its pedestal reads:

Many great American soldiers, both of the North and South, died at this spot. The casualties were so great that the water would turn red and thus became known as ‘The River of Blood.’

Imagine that.

Imagine that horrifying scene.

Imagine the thunder of the cannon, the crack of the rifles, the smoke, the screams of dying men and maimed horses. Imagine the smell, rot and putrefaction, death, shit, iron, and wet raw lamb. Imagine the casualties, so great, so many, they literally stained the wide Potomac itself crimson with the blood of patriots.

Imagine.

 

Only one problem: it never happened.

 

Imagine, because that’s where this battle exists – solely within imagination.

There was no battle.

There were no casualties.

There was no bloody river.

The Potomac was never known as The River of Blood, not during the Civil War, not now.

Oh the flag is real enough, but the story is as phony as Ben Carson’s West Point scholarship.

The guy who owns the place and erected that historic marker ... just made it all up to improve his property values.

That guy?

That guy is, of course, Donald J. Trump.

In 2009, Trump bought a rundown golf course on Lowes Island, Virginia. He chopped down an actual historic forest to improve the view, pumped millions into renovations, designated his new property an ersatz historical site, and opened his doors to the well heeled suckers.

Since then, Trump has been told repeatedly, publicly and in private, by some of the most prominent experts in American history that he is completely and utterly wrong about his so-called River of Blood.

Unsurprisingly, Trump refuses to budge or admit error.

In point of fact, Trump believes he knows more about Civil War history than the people who study, excavate, preserve, and teach it as their profession.

According to the New York Times, Trump quipped, “How would they know that?” when told historians had called his plaque a fiction. “Were they there?”

Despite a complete lack of historical evidence, Trump justifies his version of American history by saying, “That was a prime site for river crossings. So, if people are crossing the river, and you happen to be in a civil war, I would say that people were shot, a lot of them.”

How would scientists know that?

Were they there?

I would say.

My opinion is as good as the professionals.

Now, where have you heard that before?

That faulty thinking, that flawed logic, that is the inevitable result of unchecked Creationism.

This is what happens when unsubstantiated made-up fictions are substituted for actual scientific methods and the ramblings of amateurs and fortune-tellers are given equal or greater weight than that of professionals.

False reality.

So?

So what? So what if some daffy self-aggrandizing billionaire made up some fake history, right? Who’s he hurting?

So what if a significant fraction of America discounts the sum total of science and history for a fictitious world where Jesus walked with dinosaurs and the Earth is 6000 years old? So? Who are they hurting?

Glad you asked.

Trump insists he saw video and news reports of Muslims celebrating in the streets of New Jersey the day the towers fell.

This did not happen.

Did. Not. Happen.

Despite the fact that Trump’s version of reality has again been soundly and thoroughly debunked and absolutely no video or validated news or police report  whatsoever can be found of any such thing (and in fact, the only confirmed reports of people celebrating are parties of non-Muslims, white and black, Americans, who gathered on rooftops to watch the spectacle from across the river before the towers collapsed and the true extent of the horror was fully realized), Trump continues to insist that his recall of history is correct.

Just as he insists his version of a Civil War battle that never happened is correct.

And then yesterday, Trump doubled down.

He now claims he personally witnessed with his own eyes, from the windows of his own Manhattan apartment, more than 80 people jumping to their deaths from the Twin Towers before the collapse – despite the fact that his apartment in Trump Tower is more than four miles away and it would have been utterly impossible for him to have seen any such thing.

This is a pattern with Donald Trump.

He plays fast and loose with reality on a daily basis.

Now, either Trump believes what he's saying or he's exaggerating for effect knowing his supporters don't really care either way because they have been conditioned to believe whatever the loud wild-haired guy under the tent is saying, no matter how ridiculous so long as he waves the bible and stands pat on his version of reality.

Either way, by accident or with malice aforethought, the bottom line here is that Donald Trump is not operating in a reality based framework.

And neither are those cheering him.

 

And that's the problem with our Republic.

 

That, right there, that Creationist I Don't Care What The Facts Say, History Is Whatever I Believe mindset.

When you have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, the government is only as good as the people.

When the people deliberately choose ignorance and fear and make-believe, you get a government that does as well. Worse, you then get a government who can only thrive on those very things and therefore must seek to instill them in the population in a vicious feedback loop.

Phony history and make-believe science don’t build starships.

Creationist thinking won’t “make America great again.”

Yesterday in Wasilla I saw a truck in the parking lot of a local grocery store which brought it all into focus for me.  It was a mammoth machine, huge tires, extended cab, all the trimmings. NRA sticker on the window. Pro-life. Trump: Make America Great Again. Old scowling white guy with a gun on his hip emerged from the store, squinted at me suspiciously, and climbed behind the wheel.

And on the tailgate, a mural. This one:


Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9-11.

You know, I wonder, somewhere in Iraq if there is a pinch-faced angry member of the Islamic State with a mural on the back of his truck which shows Bagdad blown to hell and a trite little sound-bite which reads,  “Everything I need to know about Christianity, I learned when America blew up my country despite the fact that we had no weapons of mass destruction and nothing to do with 9-11 because they couldn’t tell the difference between Iraqis and Saudis.”

No?

Perhaps not. Not too many people have the means, money, or time to paint murals on their vehicles in Iraq these days.

 

What?

What’s that?

That Iraqi guy, he shouldn’t judge all Christians, all Americans, based on the actions of an insane few? He shouldn’t go around blowing people up and chopping off heads and hating everybody in the West because certain Christians blew up his country?

Interesting, I’ll have to think about that.

 

Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9-11.

You ever wonder if maybe that’s the whole problem?

Everything I need to know about Islam, I learned on 9-11? Really? Because I have to say, personally, I’ve learned one hell of a lot I didn’t know about Islam in the years since 9-11. I learned that a lot of what I’d been told, what I thought I knew, was wrong, or at best incomplete.

And maybe, just maybe, that was at least part of the problem.

I learned that just like Christians, Muslims are each and every one different – and just like Christians, it’s what you do with your religion that matters.

Perhaps for me, the most profound lesson came when I led a Navy boarding team onto a hostile Iraqi ship in the Northern Arabian Gulf. They were certainly smugglers, perhaps pirates, perhaps even spies for Saddam – though in hindsight, the latter is unlikely. We rounded up the crew, cutthroats and criminals, dangerous men, one and all.  I found the master in the ship’s pilothouse and the man was … fierce.  He was tall, well over six feet, lean like a greyhound as if he was made from wire and sun dried leather, huge finely kept black beard and a moustache that for Iraqis is a thing of vast pride, giant hooked nose like the blade of an axe, and the most piercing and intense black eyes I have ever seen.  Give this man a brace of pistols and a scimitar of Damascus steel and he would have been at home in the midst of the Barbary Wars. 

And he was hugely, massively, angry to be facing an American military officer on his own bridge, the fury radiated from him in palpable waves.

He was the enemy, the boogeyman, I expected him to fight, to ram his ship into mine, to … I dunno, pull out a brace of pistols and a scimitar of Damascus steel and scream Allah Akbar.

Instead, he offered me coffee.

And we spent the next hour talking about our children, my son, his daughters and how he hoped they would grow up like western women, proud and sure of themselves and beholden to no man, no religion, no dictator. He didn’t hate America, he had a brother in Chicago. He had been horrified by 9-11. He didn’t hate me, he didn’t hate my country. He hated war and death and injustice and being boarded by a foreign power in his own waters.

The things I truly need to know about Islam, and my own country, the most important things, I’ve learned in the decade since 9-11.

I’ve often wondered what happened to that old pirate, if he survived the war, if his daughters did, and where they might be today.

 

Listen to me, if you want a better country, a better world, then you have to to be better citizens.

 

When you put people who don’t believe in reality into power, you get government that is likewise deluded.

You get moonbeams and magic fairy dust and arbitrary laws based on arbitrary interpretations of somebody’s arbitrary religion.

You get Drill, Baby, Drill while the seas rise and the crops wither and the super hurricanes smash our coasts into sodden rubble.

You get voodoo economics based on the shitty selfish ideas of some drug-addled second-rate science-fiction author whose own bullshit didn’t even work for her and thirty years later you’ll still be waiting for the full effects of those ridiculous juju magics to trickle down while the world falls to shit around you.

You get racism and misogyny and homophobia and bigotry writ large. You get walls and barbed wire and machine guns and broken glass. You get fear and hate, all based on something that never happened. And you will get war, against the wrong people, in the wrong country, for the wrong reasons and thousands of your children will die or come home maimed and you’ll find that you’ve made the world a thousand times worse and now you’re facing yet another war as a result – the latest conflict in an endless string that stretches back as far as you can remember.

If you put people like Trump into power, you get many things.

But greatness is not one of them.

 

 


Footnote: You’re wondering about the title?

Well, see, the thing about gravity? It’ll kill you whether you believe in it or not.

155 comments:

  1. You should probably try out for Major League Baseball, since you keep hitting it out of the park. Great post as always!

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  2. Yes, this. May I send my students in Human Diversity & cultural anthropology to read it?

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    1. Again, Jim.. kudos. It's sad that so many people don't or wont see it. On top of adding to the problem by spreading the bullshit garbage from all the so called "trusted" web/news sites all over social media. Since this is where most younger people get their information theses days, it doesn't bode well for the collective intelligence of this country.

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    2. I think you are spot on. Unfortunately, this same article applies to nearly (if not all)of the Republican candidates. They all show a lack of belief in science, statistics, facts of any kind that refutes their views and critical thinking.

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  3. Oh, man. Just absolutely spot on. It makes me crazy for people to just look at me and profess something I KNOW did not happen as Absolute Fact. And you are dead right -- those folks aren't living in reality, damn sure aren't voting in reality.

    Ranks right up there with things like free speech and worship, voter ID laws and gay marriage and Mike Huckabee, my former governor who apparently has gone bat-shit crazy since he left office, telling people,"If a Supreme Court decision conflicts with God's law, you don't have to obey it." Sure, just throw the Constitution out. We only have to abide by it when we agree with it.

    I shudder for my grandchildren.

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  4. I so agree with this!!

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  5. Gotta add that avoiding reality can blind the way far leftie liberals too, as in homeopathy and magic woo alternative healing.

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    1. I take it that line about moonbeams and magic fairy dust was too subtle? That's what you're saying?

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    2. Very nearly English. Good for you, keep trying.

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    3. Now now, it was pretty subtle. But Anonymous is correct, the Left has its share of woo woo too. 30 years ago, it was holding hands and singing Kumbaya in the streets. Today it's alternate medicine and magic energy sources.

      The difference is the degree of nuttery and its effect. Belief in Reiki healing only affects a few people, belief that bombing Iran will make the world a safer place affects billions.

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    4. This made me curious, so I did a little research. I couldn't find any statistics on the subject--some people believe in the Tooth Fairy, I believe in numbers--but in chapter 6 of Alternative Health Care by Michael Goldstein, the author makes a pretty good case that support for alternative medicine comes from various places across the political spectrum. https://books.google.com/books?id=UVNIzshNA4wC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

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    5. Though I have shuddered and then screamed with fury at the anti-medicine delusions of some of my otherwise politically congenial relatives and neighbors, I think it's very much worth pointing out that the only political party to offer politicians and political candidates who promote homeopathic and anti-vaxxer lunacy is the same one that told us that the Iraqis would greet us as liberators. And that they did so in surprising numbers the moment that Obama spoke up in favor of vaccinations.

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    6. True that. The lefts mythologies are not without consequence or victims. I had an aunt who died of cancer that might well have been curable had she not been chasing alternative medicines.
      But as you say we are not exporting that particular nuttery in the form of bombs and bullets.

      An observation. Both sides (a simplification, obviously there is a spectrum) have at their core mythologies of purity.
      On the right it is about nation, faith, race. It is about what others should be
      On the left in is purity of nature. Air, food, medicines. What I put into my body

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    7. "alternate medicine". I'm sure you've heard this.... when "alternate medicine" works (cures, ameliorates, makes better the boo boo), what is it called? "Medicine"

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    8. All of those healing modalities are to be used in conjunction with others, not as a stand alone. IMHO

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    9. Anti-vax, homeopathy, alternative medicine... that's not left, it's anti-reality. As such it should fit better in today's right.

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    10. It's on both sides, I think. Consensus reality is breaking up, and we get madness.

      I wonder, sometimes, if we are truly able to live with reality, or if we would even know if it we encountered it.

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    11. just a note.... there is a huge difference between what Western medicine calls "alternative medicine" and what is truly woo-woo and silly. at this point in time Western medicine STILL lumps acupuncture, chiropractic, and various massage treatments under "alternative" even though there have been clinical trials showing their efficacy (that they work). however homeopathy, therapeutic touch, crystals, and all the other truly woo-woo that we have here in California, and i include anti-vaxers, are in a class of their own of delusional. So, please don't lump all "alternative medicine" in the same basket.
      That being said, there have also been studies using placebos (sugar pills) where the people were convinced enough that they were getting the medicine they needed that their pain went away, and that right there is the scary thing to me; if you convince someone to truly believe that they have the cure they can be cured; therefore if you convince enough someones that they are being told the truth it may eventually become the truth. Back to Jim's point above, i would much rather deal with a bunch of folks who believe that Reiki will cure all ills than with a bunch of folks who believe that bombing Iran is a good idea. The former is harmless, and could feel kind of good, the later is lethal.

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    12. Anne
      My late father-in-law the pathology prof. made the same point. If it works then by definition it is medicine.

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    13. I've heard the "both sides do it" comments before. But, as I've read elsewhere, the "Left" typically doesn't let the *far* left "woo woo" crowd run the show, as opposed to the "Right" where the paranoid fantasy lands seems to be in charge nowadays.

      In contrast, near as I can tell, the only far Left anti-reality "woo" that has crept into "policy", is requiring medical insurance to cover homeopathy, and other such "woo".


      Scott F.

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    14. In an attempt to be fair, if you have had certain rather specific spinal injuries, chiropractic can sometimes give relief in much the same way that reducing a dislocated shoulder gives relief--no pill is going to make that shoulder feel better while the ball and socket joint, with all the nerves and muscles, is busy sending out pain signals. I do not, however, recommend chiropractic to cure excessive wax in one's ears (though I did, once, have the misfortune to find a quack who thought that was more important to treat than my whiplash injury.) I also don't suggest that a man should go see an OB/GYN to treat his psoriasis. I consider chiropractic a specialty much like an ENT or Radiologist.

      I don't give much credence to some forms of what the West calls "alternative" medicine. For example, I don't think rhino horn is good for anything beyond whatever the rhino itself chooses to do with it. But I also know that there are many medicines and therapies now that were once considered weird and strange, so if empirical evidence can show solid results, I'm prepared to change my mind on just about anything. (If it requires extinction of exotic animals to cure cancer, perhaps that's a sign that it's incurable.)

      Gretchen in KS

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  6. I so agree with this. However, I feel hopeless pushing against the rising tide of ignorance, bigotry, and outright lies.

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    1. Me too, Mr. Welch. At 62, I have more years behind me than in front of me,
      but when I think about just saying fuck it, one of my grandchildren calls me and makes me realize that I can't give up.

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    2. Please don't be hopeless, Jim Welch. Nate Silver on fivethirtyeight had an article (Dear Media, Stop Freaking Out About Donald Trump's Polls) where he analyzed Trumps supporters and what he found gives me a great deal of hope. Trump has only about 6-8% of the voters in this country, and he isn't likely to get any more. He has pissed off all those others he would have needed to form a winning coalition. Tru;mp now has just about all the voters he is ever going to get. Nate Silver estimates that at most 25% of the Republican Party is behind Trump. Most Republicans are still undecided - after all there is a long way to go.

      Can he win the Republican nomination? Possibly -but can he win the Presidential election? Not likely.

      Yes, Trump supporters are loud, and yes, the media (more interested in drama than truth) pays an inordinant amount of attention to Trump. But Trump isn't winning over the hearts and minds of this country yet. We Americans are still out there!

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    3. Feelin' the BernNovember 25, 2015 at 11:56 PM

      From your mouth to God's ear. If there is a God. And if he has ears.

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  7. Nicely written, good stuff re: Trump's "river of blood" and you're experience boarding Iraqi ship. The only problem I see is it will almost exclusively be read by those, like myself, who already agree.

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    1. I'm so sorry to agree, Gary. The people who are firmly entrenched in their fantasies will not (very likely) read this, and if they did, they would dismiss it all as lies. They will believe exactly what they want to believe, and any words to the contrary, even from good ole Tim McGraw, will be ridiculed. The Creationist and conspiracy theorists (and such) used to be smaller in numbers, and stayed within their own groups knowing they were a minority and needed each other to survive. Now, with Republican/Tea Party/Libertarians pandering to them and urging them on, they have become a loud and obnoxious crowd gaining followers from the fringes of society who just want to fit in somewhere. I could almost feel sorry for them except they are making their own choices.

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  8. It's never the fall that kills. .it's the sudden interruption by reality.

    Dr. Phil

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  9. Again, brilliance.

    I've been pushing the reality-in-spite-of-your-fantasies for years. Neil DeGrasse Tyson notwithstanding, the best statement I've seen of it is in Lois McMaster Bujold's Falling Free, where her engineer character Leo Graf says, "You can fool a man. You cannot fool the metal."

    All of these yutzes -- the politicians, the enabling media, their cretinous and credulous followers -- have a problem which cannot be solved by their current actions: Reality doesn't CARE about their political or religious leanings. They've been wrong about so much, and they're still wrong in exactly the same ways, and the evidence of their wrongness mounts continually, and they keep right on insisting that they're right, and everyone goes along with it even though we are talking precisely about the common-folk definitely of insanity, i.e., doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

    I don't think we have that much time left to keep our planet from becoming uninhabitable by our species, and I am not comforted by the idea that we may kill ourselves off before we get to that point. But, here we are, trapped in the gears of warmongers and morons, and they're fighting to keep us trapped.

    Sigh. Maybe I just need to find a south sea island with sandy beaches, coconut trees, and decent wifi.

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    1. "All of these yutzes -- the politicians, the enabling media, their cretinous and credulous followers"

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KHJbSvidohg

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    2. I rather like Feynman's take on it: "For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled."

      That was part of his summation in his appendix to the report on the Challenger explosion, when NASA launched despite several of its top engineers telling the administration that this was a very, very bad idea.

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    3. filkertom:
      > I don't think we have that much time left to keep our planet from becoming uninhabitable by our species...

      As Jim says, don't panic. Even if the worst of global warming occurs, the planet won't become "uninhabitable" by *our* species.

      That's not the problem.

      The problem is the political and social chaos that will ensue when major portions of the current arable and inhabited land goes under water. Our species will survive. Other species that can't adapt or move fast enough will be the ones that fail.

      Earth won't be uninhabitable. It's just a question of how many people will survive the transition to a new climate regime.

      Scott F.

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    4. Now I need to rustle up my copy of that Bujold book, because I can't remember the precise wording of her protagonist's excellent lesson on integrity-- the one where he defines a series of faked quality inspection records as pure evil.

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  10. Spot on, as usual! I find that reading your essays, somehow, calms my stress over issues. I think it's because you, so eloquently, express in writing what I internalize, but can't get out; at least not without feeling like I've just vomited on someone's shoes. I read them and say, "Yes! Ah, that's better." However, I do not have an option to comment on your Facebook postings. How can I get access? Thank you for expressing your thoughts!

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  11. Posted this on Facebook this morning. Read your blog this afternoon. Great minds, etc...
    ------
    The rest of the world already looks at America now as the ignorant unwashed neighborhood bully with a shotgun. Please don't let it get to the point that they think the bully is also an imbecile who hates everyone and believes in the magic power of unicorns.

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  12. I still haven't decided whether Trump is the real deal or a superb performance artist. Now that he's riled up the rubes, will he run as an independent and guarantee a Dem win? Has that been his plan all along? Man, it makes me feel nuts but I can't shake this feeling that he's showing the world the worst America has to offer, on purpose.

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    1. I have been thinking this too. But it is a very dangerous game he plays and he may actually be believing his schtick by now and will therefore want to stay in the game no matter what.

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    2. I thought that, too. Right up until this past weekend, with the "cheering Muslims in Jersey City" and the beating of the BLM protester. This is not an act. He really believes every word.

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    3. I thought he was playing at first but if he was then he isn't now. He is enjoying the high.

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    4. Newt Gingrich tried riding this tiger, too.

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  13. Love all three pieces of the writing, thanks for sharing the story. The transition into it works; a transition back at the end of "I've always wondered" would probably make the whole piece stronger.
    And only since you've asked:
    "beholding to no" should be "beholden to no"
    "western woman" should be "western women"
    "stand pat" should be "stands pat"
    "palatable waves" should be "palpable waves"

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    1. The problem is that I type faster than I can see.

      Thanks for the assist, all fixed.

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    2. English majors....glad I had an editor on my papers

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    3. Indeed. I try make them feel needed. Because I'm a giver like that ;)

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    4. Were they there, not Where.

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    5. While we're at it ---- piercing black eyes, not piecing

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  14. Excellent. I so enjoy reading your blog. As Leslie above stated, your essays calm my stress over the current issues. I just rechecked and I did spell your correctly as encouraged by the rules. Kathleen

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  15. That post is absolutely one of your best. I commented on an earlier post saying "That was just a rant" and you responded that they can't all be Pulitzer prize winners. Well, this one IS! Thank you!

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  16. Excellent piece. Wish more people were as informed.

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  17. Great essay as always. Two other typos: It's "wither" and not "whither". It should be "don't" in the sentence "Phony history and make-believe science doesn’t build starships"
    bls

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  18. Just one comment for everyone who agrees with this. VOTE! In this year's election, voter turnout in Texas (where I live) was just over 11%. If the people with brains would just vote we could turn Texas blue and put some sense back into this country.

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    1. Don't forget to encourage your friends to vote as well!

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    2. Unfortunately, here in Alabama, I don't want to encourage my friends or family to vote, but I believe in fair play, so I do.

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  19. So, I have a question or two. Oh, and your writing is amazing, really. But I tend to land on the idea of just a little compliment, and then get to work.

    So what do we do? I know people who buy into the non-reality-based worldview. How do we crack the armor-plated echo chamber? Because they're not going to come out on their own. I try to be more hopeful than despairing, but it's getting really tough these days.

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    1. That's an entirely different and lengthy essay, but it can be summed up in a single short sentence: STOP BEING AFRAID.

      Everything starts right there - exactly as FDR said more than 70 years ago in his very first address to the nation as president.

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    2. I don't know that there is a way to break into that echo chamber. I mean, hell, there was a study shown that (and I'm paraphrasing this horribly) when you try and counter someone's illogical/erroneous argument with facts, they just double-down on their erroneous beliefs.

      Like when you try to rationally explain why a conspiracy theory is wrong, and all of a sudden, you're part of the conspiracy "hiding the truth". Or they move the goalposts of their argument.

      There are some people who just will not listen to the truth, or to reason.

      Unfortunately, we keep electing the dumb bastards.

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    3. I'm hoping that the echo chamber will simply double as their coffin as they slowly die out. The number of ignorant people seems huge, but thankfully seems to be decreasing as the years pass. It may simply be demographics, just as many annoyed, ignorant types vs more open-minded sorts, or they may truly be dying out. I know the change in views on gay marriage happened with surprising rapidness, and likewise the realization that minorities complaining about police brutality is actually real and not a construct seem to be expanding rapidly.

      We may survive this yet, but I'm certain it'll be a close run thing.

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    4. I have been exposed to more echo chamber inhabitants in the past few years than I thought possible...I was delusional in thinking that the stories were exaggerated, no person could be that willfully ignorant and still function in every day life. I was so very wrong! They appear to be rational most of the time...until you inadvertently hit the switch & BAM! Crazyville! Sincere belief that President Obama is the Anti-Christ, seeing conspiracies in the most mundane actions of others, paranoid belief that the Government IS coming for their guns - leaving them defenseless against martial law, total belief in stereotypes and labels for ethnic groups & religions other than Evangelical Christianity (anymore I hear the word Evangelical as Evil Angels)...
      I am still in shock at times. Quite a few of them are highly intelligent, but somehow their "common sense" synapses quit firing.

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    5. The short answer is to go back to anti-fascist media law and regulation and re-regulate campaign finance. People are much creatures of their social environment, and when a major part of their social environment is pumping out blither, it is not surprising that it is taken in and repeated. Reduce the blither level, replace it with moderate sanity, prevent candidates from buying such huge amounts of media, and matters would improve.

      Beyond that, it seems to me that we need to vastly improve our electoral procedures, so that smiling tyrants have far more difficulty gaining office. This is a problem in ourselves; many of us, perhaps all of us, are entirely too easily deceived by surface characteristics of candidates. Our understanding of character is deficient.

      The long answer is cultural change, so that people resist madness on their own, spontaneously. Broadly, we would have to make ourselves a braver people and change our understanding of "character." I do not know if that is possible.

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    6. Forget facts, until after you have mocked them for being cowards. Then point out what utter cowards they are, when we kill or injure, with guns, 3.5 times the number of Paris casualties EVERY WEEK. More people die from furniture than terrorists. Our colors don't run, etc. Put their manhood on the line and then quote Matthew 25:31-46 at them. Heads asplode.

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    7. What Jim said.

      I have a co-worker who is the same way. We live in a semi-rural county, 5 hours from the nearest "major" city. Yet he is deathly, personally afraid of creeping Sharia law taking over the US, of terrorists with nuclear weapons attacking us here, of jihadist suicide bombers attacking us here. I try to patiently explain that the Sharia-law thing is a bogus myth; that more people die every year in auto accidents than have ever been injured in terrorist acts; that I'm more scared of the guy walking around downtown with his 2nd-Amendment assault rifle, who demonstrates his ability and willingness to kill everyone in sight.

      His response? Yes, he's deathly afraid to drive on the interstate too, because so many people die there as well.

      Stop being afraid of stupid things!!!

      It's that lack of being able to evaluate risk. It's where everything is a panic. It's that total lack of rational thought and "critical thinking", a term which creationists today are so fond of misusing.

      Did I mention my coworker is also a young earth creationist?

      Sigh…

      Scott F

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    8. Many people are notoriously terrible at assessing risk. They worry about illogical risks while indulging and participating in behavior that has a good likelihood of ending their life. Why worry about drunk drivers, smoking, nut cases running around armed to the teeth when there's Sharia law to get worked up over!!! Share this little gem with your coworker; I read that more people in the US have been shot to death by toddlers in the last year than have been killed by Islamic terrorists. Maybe that will make him feel better. I mean, it doesn't help me cuz I do child care. I guess that means I'm gonna have to start frisking the little bastards now.

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  20. Trump is not in the clown car. He's PT fucking Barnum.

    Since 9/11 there has been a segment of society that has been clinging tooth and nail to an American myth. Some paranoid mash of nationalism, christian fundamentalism, red toothed capitalism and various forms of chauvinism. So much of it is whistling in the dark. They refuse to accept that not only are we vulnerable to threats from persons we cannot control but we always have been and always will be. And at the same time there are social forces at work that scare the crap out of many.
    Global warming, Marriage equality A holy fuck black guy in the White House. They are scared, panicked and flailing about themselves. Just exactly what gets you destroyed in a fight. I just wish we weren't in the same room with them.

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    1. Mr. Buday, following up a black man in the WH, thought. I have been thinking lately about all the folks that have accused President Obama of dividing this country racially that he has made it worse than it ever was. I realized they were right but not in the they think they were., all the racial tension, hatred and fear that had been just below the surface came rocketing to the top and beyond when he became president. President Obama was the catalyst, it turned these folks world upside down, it was their fears come true. A black person was put in a position of authority over them and it was against the natural order of the way the world should work. In order to support their world view it was necessary not to see anything the President did in a positive light. The sad thing is they don't even realize or admit that their own racism is the prism that they view this President with and is why they mistakenly believe he is the blame.

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    2. Thank you sundaysue. I've thought the same thing for years now. You articulated it beautifully. I have good friends that have said "they want their country back." Of course, when I asked where their country went, there is a lot of stuttering and stammering. Obama has been divisive by absolutely turning their perception of the world upside down. I think President Obama was a little naive in his understanding of the effect. That said, I also think his presidency was essential if we are to ever move forward. Whenever someone says in my presence that we are worse off than when he assumed office, I take delight in eviscerating every single talking point. They don't agree, but are unable to refute either.

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    3. Well said, both sundaysue & dbtexas. I saw that many people were just stunned and horrified by the fact that President Obama won and had no place to go with those emotions but "hatred town". Unfortunately they found lots of like minded people there who bolstered and magnified these emotions. And I think that level of hatred and animosity changes a person in a way that's not going to be relieved when President Obama leaves office.

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  21. Jim, new at this I appreciate the opportunity to comment. All I have to say is how are 2 West Michigan natives viewing the world from the same perspective yet from different experiences? Your insights are a welcome relief to the drivel that is the norm. Thanks for riding herd on this. Our ignorance of the rest of the world is scary as hell. Not enough leaders too many followers. Keep it up !##

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  22. When I read this I was reminded of Doghouse Riley. I miss him and I miss articles like this.
    Thanks, Jim.

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  23. The sad thing is, this quote by Isaac Asimov has never meant more than it does now:

    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    It disheartening to see so many people (even members of my own family) who are willing to blame every little thing that might be bad on our President, yet state that people like Trump, Carson and the rest of the 'clown car' are just what this nation needs "to be great again'. Yet they can't ever explain just HOW they would make us great.

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  24. Do you know what is really sad? Those who need to read this, who need to think about what they are hearing and reading and maybe - just maybe - think before they take that bad bait off the hook dangled in front of them, will never read it. They are caught, hook, line and sinker, by the big fish they are certain is out there. Those who scream about "making American great again" are caught in some delusion about the wonderful "before" time that never really existed. They believe in a utopia that my parents and grandparents worked hard for and all they can see is the result, not the effort or fight to get there. They think that cookie-cutter post-war 1950's neighborhood, inhabited by those of European descent is the way things should be. Those lesser folks should be the street sweepers, the garbage men; they should be doing menial labor so the rest of "us" can have that utopia.

    As ever, Jim, thank you for your efforts to wake people up. I work to remain hopeful that progress will win but I'm no longer that girl with the rose-colored glasses.

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  25. The economics concept ruining our country, as it previously ruined a great many others in the world with the help of the CIA, isn't based on Ayn Rand. It's the total construct of Milton Friedman and his acolytes in the Chicago School of Economics. Oh, it has a lot in common with Rand, but mostly because she also believed in, as Naomi Klein says, "tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts in social spending and deregulation."

    The Chicago Boys took over the World Bank and IMF in the '80s, and the world has been suffering from their "assistance" ever since. But before that, they perfected their playbook in places like Indonesia, Iran, and Latin America for the previous 30 years or so.

    And it looks like they're winning here.

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    1. If I remember correctly Milton Friedman has disowned his own theories.

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  26. Another bloody brilliant essay. As always, you hit it perfectly.

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  27. Every time I think I've read your best, you surprise me again!

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  28. Well-reasoned and articulate as usual. Thanks for putting into words the sentiments I cannot articulate and backing your arguments with life experiences I do not share, but appreciate. You are uniquely positioned to speak for reason in the face of warmongering. Thank you.

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  29. Thank you for both writing that and for sharing that story about the pirate. One of my very close family members married a Muslim Saudi 20 years ago and they live here in the States. I can say w/ absolute certainty, than I am closer to them and their family than I am my own. They love my cousin, as I do, they love this country and living in it. They even love getting Christmas card from loved ones though my cousin is the only one in the family that is Christian. I'm always so concerned about what might happen to them because of the ignorance and hatred boiling over in society. If people would just take the time to get to know the similarities rather than the differences, I think they'd find some very incredible people. My close family are actually some of these racist xenophobes that won't accept him, but I tell you, I MUCH rather accept him and his children with my cousin than I do my own father and brother w/ the hatred and anger they spew.

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    1. Like Jim, I've worked all over The World. In my experience we have a lot more in common with people from other cultures and countries than we have differences. We all need a roof over our heads. We all need enough food to eat. We all need the opportunity to raise a family. Anything more is gravy! We truly need to see our commonalities, not the very few differences.

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  30. I just keep thinking that we should apologize to the rest of the world for our moronic GOP candidates. I find myself embarrassed and ashamed. Well, at least they're entertaining, in a 'Mad Magazine' kind of way.

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  31. I've been following your writing here and on Facebook for some time, and this is one of the best pieces you've ever written. I'm hopeful that rational people will eventually realize that they need to stand up and fight the tide of willful ignorance that's taken over the U.S. and much of the rest of the world. I know I have. Thanks for fighting the good fight.

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  32. Brilliant essay as usual, Jim. I shared it on Facebook.

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  33. Excellent writing. This AM I was just reading this passage from Saul Bellow's Humboldt's Gift on the train: "History had created something new in the USA, namely crookedness with self-respect or duplicity with honor. America had always been very upright and moral, a model to the entire world, so it had put to death the very idea of hypocrisy and was forcing itself to live with this new imperative of sincerity, and it was doing an impressive job."

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  35. Amazing well done stuff as everyone else has said. And I will do my part to make sure that it gets spread around sharing it as much as I can. There are days Mr Wright when reading your stuff is like a life raft.

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  36. Jim you seem to hit the nail right on Trump;s pointy head. Trump is a crazy man and if people can not see that then they are blinded by hatred. If he is elected POTUS our country will be doomed.

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  37. I love your writing (I know- everyone says that), but this resonates particularly for me. I knw firsthand about 9/11. I was there, and I worked in the recovery for nearly 8 months. The people I the terrorists- are dead. and my heart breaks for everyone who we have destroyed in the name of 9/11, because when we couldn't kill the dead again, we went after those we thought looked like them. The Middle East is hell on earth. We did that. You made me remember something when I was down at Ground Zero. My shift was normally 3-11 but as a site supervisor, I often worked an overnight shift if we were shorthanded. Leaving Lower Manhattan at 3 or 4 am, the trains were barely running, in any case, because they were reconstructing the stations that had been destroyed in the collapse. So I would often try to get a cab (NYC, 4 am? Yep- there are cabs.) And the driver and I started talking- I asked him where he was from and he said he was Muslim, Egyptian. 9/11 was so terrible. And he asked me who I was and I told him I had been down there that morning, and now volunteered. He asked my religion and I told him Jewish. "I don't hate Israel," he said. " I only want us all to live in peace. " "Me too! I want to visit Egypt, I want to see the pyramids, I want no more people to die." And then we both burst into tears.

    Thank you for writing one of the most remarkable and true pieces about our nation, post 9/11. I look at the grace and resilience and focus of France, of the Belgians posting pictures of their cats, of all the people who have decided it is more important to preserve their humanity than to destroy it with hate and it makes me feel so lost, because that was the way we were those few months after 9/11. We've lost our grace and our resilience. Worse than that, we've lost our way and I hope we find it again because one thing I remember so clearly after 9/11 was how we pulled together. We with the world. We were all New Yorkers then.- D. Jackson

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  38. The area of Maryland directly across the Potomac from the Trumpalicious golf course is where I was raised and still live today. This story brought a hoot, as our immediate area was the sight of only a few skirmishes during the Civil War; the closest to a river of blood was ~60 miles upstream near Antietam Creek where the United States experienced the greatest bloodshed in a single day in its history: 22,000 killed, wounded or missing on September 17, 1862. Trump's campaign of bullshit has now reached a critical mass, and its demise will be enjoyable to watch.

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  39. Another amazing essay. I was off on a rant about how incredibly dangerous the lies are these idiots are spewing & I came on FB and there you were. Thank you.
    I'd like to paint this essay as a mural on my car.
    Sharing the crap out of this.

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  40. In the good old days, Trump was relatively harmless unless he was your boss, business associate or his wife. But in this new role this fraud of a human being, this flimflam man lowers the the bar for truth, reason, and decency even if he does not get elected. We will never be the same.

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  41. Gravity also means seriousness - as in how we should view your message. Donald the Clown is not funny.

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  42. Just a brief note of appreciation. I've seen your writing before and admired your facility with words. The fact that those words convey truth, conviction, honesty, and passion allows me to indulge my belief there's hope for us, in spite of Trump and those who would abuse American ideals for political gain, cowardice, and hatred. Keep up the good work, sir.

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  43. My thought when I read that "River of Blood" thing was "only a moron would believe that. The Potomac is ginormous; the whole point of the armies' movements between Maryland and Virginia was to find an uncontested ford...even freaking Ambrose Burnside wasn't stupid enough to try and force a contested crossing of the Potomac...oh, wait."

    And then I read that the moron was Trump and I was, like, oh, yeah, right. Him.

    We are truly getting the government we deserve.

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  44. Excellent as always. I did notice that you forgot the word 'on' in the following sentence. "Not too many people have the means, money, or time to paint murals their vehicles in Iraq these days."

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  45. One of your best ever, which is saying a lot for your many years of publishing here. Thanks for putting forth the effort & making time to say it right. For what it's worth, whether or not I agree with your essays, I ALWAYS look forward to reading them. They're a regular Chautauqua -- entertaining and educational.

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  46. I have no words to describe my feelings about Trumpchump. You said it a thousand times better than I ever could. One question, the ship's master. Did you take him into custody? Is that how it works? Now I wonder what happened to him as you have described him so well that I can see him in my mind. On a side note, my great, great, great grandfather's first major battle during the Civil War was Gettysburg, then moved on and was at the Bloody Angle. Stationed in a ditch full of rain water, standing on dead bodies and blood and mud, for days. He was 18. Mr. Trump's lies belittle the suffering and loss that really occurred during that horrific time. Trump is disgusting and I wonder where I will go if he should be elected.

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  47. When I sub for a high school history class and the kids blow off the assignment, this, what you wrote right here, is exactly what I want to say to them. Next time I'm in an apathetic classroom, I'm just going to write the name of your blog and the title of this post on the whiteboard, followed by the tagline "what Jim said."

    Sadly, I can't just read your post aloud -- I'd never get a subbing gig again!

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  48. The notion that belief can change reality (prayer rather than concrete action, is a classic example) is one of the most frightening things to find in a leader - or even a pretender.

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  49. It is essays like this one that remind me why I look forward to everything you publish.
    Keep up the truly excellent work.
    If there were Pulitzers for bloggers, you should get one!
    M from MD

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  50. I don't remember the movie title very well anymore, (maybe the Bank Dick), however W.C. Fields once had a line where I recall that he said: "it's not the fall the gets you (referring to gravity), its that last foot".

    May THE DONALD receive that very 'last foot moment' so, very soon.

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  51. Thanks for this essay and the focus and clarity you bring to so many subjects.

    Extra "one" in "Muslims are each and every one one different"

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  52. "...You get voodoo economics based on the shitty selfish ideas of some drug-addled second-rate science-fiction author whose own bullshit didn’t even work for her..."

    I used to piss off my classmates in art school when I referred to her as a science-fiction writer. heh

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  53. Jim, Great post as always. Fantastic description of voodoo economics, and I loved your description of your time on the Iraqi captain's bridge. Stories like that remind us that we are all more alike than we are different and we need to tell these stories often.

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  54. Jim, just want to tell you I'm in love with you! No Mrs. Wright or Shop Cat needn't worry about me breaking up your marriage or happy home, but you are so much like my dearly departed husband that reading your essay's is like him coming for a visit. Your mind is like a mirror image of his!

    Thank you for making this old lady feel alive again just reading your words. You could be my son and I love them too for having so much of him in them. I just know that Mrs W and Shop Cat have control of you and keep you on the straight and narrow with humanity! It was one of our 3 shop cats that completely controlled his mind as the dementia killed off his brain cells but kept him going for 15 years of bone, kidney and brain cancer robbed him of mind and body.

    He was a real rocket scientist - Aero E/EE and System Annalist with Lockheed Martin for 30 years. He couldn't stand stupid people. So glad he doesn't have to put up with what we are witnessing today with our currant crop of candidates. We are so lucky to have you keeping us aware of this mess and calming the fear that is running rampant today!

    The closest we've come to this paranoia was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 60's! Thank God we have that Black man in the Oval Office looking after us and getting things done in spite of the stupid Congress trying to tie his hands the whole time. Keep the essays coming and exposing the idiots who are trying to erase everything he has done to keep us safe. It's going to be a long year and each and every one of them needs exposure of the lies and stupidity.

    MrsG

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  55. Great post! The problem is again you are preaching to the choir. Do you have any feedback that tells you that the other side is even listening or being positively moved by your posts? I think the problem remains a basic one of human nature and that is that we grow up with a set of beliefs and facts are irrelevant. How else could George Bush have been elected twice or a 2nd rate actor be elected President or a crazy woman from Waslia be a Vice-Presidential candidate? If you can figure out how to change the belief of middle class Americans that the republicans are best for their interests you will have solved a great problem. Meanwhile, it's great to read your posts written so emotionally eloquent and so much to the point of the idiocy that is today's political scene. Keep up the furor over the fuzzy thinking that clouds so much of our country.

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  56. Not the longest thing you've written, but possibly the best. Thanks again, Jim.

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  57. I can just imagine what Vladimir Putin is thinking as he is watching this pathetic spectacle.

    Peace
    Chris in S. Jersey

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  58. What a coinydink! Rachel Maddow posted a link this morning to a NYT article about that very same flag and plaque. Sounds like you've got yourself another fan.

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  59. If we didn't find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq why is the Army now recognizing that 1) Soldiers were injured by various weapons and 2) pondering awarding purple hearts. Like so many things there were weapons of mass destruction, just not the HUGE nuclear bombs and the media refuses to publicly acknowledge for many reasons. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2793452/u-s-troops-did-chemical-weapons-iraq-pentagon-kept-secret-discovery-5-000-warheads-shells-saddam-hussein-s-abandoned-weapons-program-hushed-soldiers-injured.html

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    1. Perhaps you didn't read the URL you posted: "saddam hussein s abandoned weapons program". There's that key word, "abandoned". Everyone agrees that Saddam *used* to have a chemical weapons program during his war with Iran. *Used* to.

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    2. Sharon, we in The UK call that rag The Daily Fail. They are notorious for supporting Hitler and Oswald Mosely prior to WW2. These days they are seen as the propaganda arm of The Conservative Party Central Office and their espousal of various barking mad conspiracy theories.

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  60. I enjoy your writing as always, but don't you think that calling Rand a science fiction author is unkind to science fiction ? She may be adored by the puppies, but I've read most of her work and wouldn't tar the genre.

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  61. GWB claimed that he would run government like a business. Trump says the same. Of course, the business he knows is casinos, so place your bets. Want a private back room high-stakes game? That can be arranged. VIP treatment for the big spenders. Keep the riffraff out.

    I do have to point out that our country and its institutions were founded by Creationists. No, not deists. Read their quotes. It was a stunning achievement that synthesized the Christian ethos with the best of secular Renaissance philosophy. Yes, they believed in a young earth, but more relevantly they believed in liberty, tolerance, pluralism, self-determination, sacrifice, work-ethic, charity, family, community, and the dignity of all mankind. What emerged was one of the greatest and most influential nations in history. Execution certainly hasn't been perfect.

    I would also like to believe that better citizens would make a better country. Unfortunately, we are now, like our NATO ally Turkey who just tugged us to the brink of WWIII, in the embrace of a "deep state", a ruling class of oligarchs who are unaccountable and unelected. The real fairy dust is that we have any national interest in Syria and are fighting ISIS.

    You claim there was no plan in Iraq. WTF is the plan in Syria? Our so-called allies supply ISIS with arms and financing and even buy their bootleg oil. We are defending Turkey for shooting down a Russian jet that at most could only have spent about 8 seconds in Turkish airspace. These moderate rebels we support then blow up a Russian S&R chopper with an American supplied anti-tank missile.

    There are a great many critical facts we aren't being told. As my boss likes to say, "In the absence of information, people make shit up." The blood flowing through Trumps golf course might be fake. The blood flowing in Syria most certainly is not.

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    1. Before Darwin figured out how each species, including humans, emerged from another, earlier species, everybody was a "creationist." No one knew any better.

      Calling the founders, who did not have any alternative to the traditional Christian creation myth, "creationists," -- is very misleading.

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  62. Jim, I agree with you and admire your stance. I've recently taken a stance on FB to accept the refugees but have been torched by a few friends. I had a conversation with a Christian speaker/ex-cop/homicide detective and asked him why so many Christians are against helping Syrian refugees. He easily revealed my ignorance of Islam; specifically, the three stages of jihad - basically the Muslim is to lie low when the numbers surround him aren't in his favor and then attack when they are. He treats Muslims as ticking time bombs. Personally, I counter with the fact all people can be suspect time bombs, as say, the monster in Texas who recently slaughtered men, women, and kids who were vacationing in a trailer. How do you examine that ship master in light of this? How would you counter the argument that he simply followed the tenants of jihad? (Disclosure: I'm a religious registered Republican.)

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    1. Rather, he revealed his own ignorance of Islam. The "three stages of jihad" are not part of Islamic religious teaching. Jihad, as taught by Muhammad, is the believer's daily struggle to remain steadfast in faith and unswayed by material considerations and vices such as selfishness, hatred, and prejudice.

      There are no "tenants (sic) of jihad" (it's "tenets") in the teachings of Muhammad, though he does articulate some directive about warfare in the second chapter (this, because the Muslim community was under attack by ... well, we'd call them terrorists). Chief among those directives were 1) never begin hostilities, 2) fight until the enemy ceases trying to annihilate you and 3) when they cease oppressing you, forgive them and return to peace time footing.

      There are those who question Muhammad speaking about warfare, yet people criticize our own government for not being harsh enough in its reaction to ISIS. It seems a bit of a contradiction.

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  63. My husband and I are going to a mosque on Friday. We are not Muslim, but we have been so horrified and disgusted by Trump and his ilk (i.e., the rest of the Republican candidates), we emailed the imam and offered our services as escorts if any of his members feel threatened. He thanked us, and invited us to the Friday afternoon prayers, then to meet folks afterwards.

    I hope we never get called upon to escort one of his members - not because I don't want to do it, but because it means the crazy hasn't come to our corner of the U.S.A. yet.

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  64. I spend a lot of time posting corrections on both left and right posts. One of my goals on FB is to put reality and truth out there. It amazes me how many people don't fact check but will forward utter nonsense. I saw where one person commenting here is afraid the task is too great. I'm just one person, but an army of people correcting misinformation can make a big difference. You have been a shining star in that department. Thank you!

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  65. I'd also like to point out that the Republican party stands alone in rejection of climate science when compared to all the major conservative parties in the world now that Tony Abbot and Stephen Harper are no longer in office.

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  66. "Gravity" also suggests the "gravitas" that used to be a requirement for public office, and is now so sadly lacking, especially among the candidates of the Greedy Old Party.

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  67. 32.2 ft. per second per second

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  68. Jim: As a Canadian, I try to tread lightly on these type of topics but when I look at American politics today, I have to question how we possibly got to here?

    The only thing that I can come up with is that there exists such an insatiable desire for sensationalism that some key American media lead the way in the world for "truth be damned" reporting. I believe that this has grown and has infected your politics.

    Maybe I'm wrong, and am very open to other explanations. However, how else can we explain this pathologically lying "life support system for a really bad haircut" getting as far as he has.

    I fear the day that this moron is actually tasked to go up against Putin, and I sure as hell hope the American voters consider that before voting, because it's coming!

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    1. I think media sensationalism is an important element to the problem with truth in reporting and it has spread to the internet and more and more people are accepting sensational stories and passing them on without questioning the veracity of stories that at face value should be incredible. Another part of the problem with American acceptance of falsehood is related to religious indoctrination where questioning is not part of it, just blind acceptance. Consider this, with all of the prophets, messiahs, and would be founders of new religions, each claims have had conversations with God or one of his Angels. Examining their writings and testaments reveals many contradictions. Obviously, some one is lying.

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    2. I read recently a suggestion that the problem started (in part) when the FCC abandoned the Fairness Doctrine in 1987. Prior to that, everyone watched the same three news networks, and basically had the same set of facts to work from. The very next year, Rush Limbaugh was nationally syndicated, and right-wing talk radio took off. It's been an echo chamber since then.

      Scott F.

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  69. Jim,
    WHEN are you going to publish a book of your greatest essays? I would definitely buy it as would probably many others!

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  70. Awesome essay. I love the fact that you were in the service. People can't dismiss you as a lefty (as easily).

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  71. I always share on Facebook your articles, everyone hits at the core of sensibility. Some of my family in the USA are far right, and believe all the FOX news lies. But I still love them, but wish they would consider other views based on facts.
    Thank you for all the great articles you write, I enjoy them so much. My younger brother died a few years ago, from being exposed to Agent Orange in Viet Nam. He would have understood where you come from.

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  72. Until recently, I was convinced that Donald Trump's campaign was some kind of weird performance art, designed to let Trump laugh at the suckers who believed him, even as he said more and more outrageous things. I was convinced that he would quit long before it mattered to the election, leaving some other, but slightly more qualified Republican to lose to Hillary Clinton. Lately, I'm not so sure.

    Donald Trump still says outrageous things that would have disqualified him in any former presidential campaign, but he's too high in the polls to dismiss. Too many people seem to share in his angry, twisted, unreal universe, where truth is whatever he says it is, and white American might is all that matters. Once inside the Trump universe, people seem impervious to reality.

    It's an ugly, scary place that Trump and his followers live, and it offers no solutions to real-world problems. Despite evidence to the contrary, I hope there's a line too far--something Donald Trump will say or do that shakes those who believe in his version of the world out of their mindlessness and back into reality. And I hope it happens soon.

    That Other Jean

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  73. I see many have a "hard-on" for Trump. At least he is bringing the right issues out of the closet .... that so many other politicians won't even talk about.

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    1. Really. Issues? Hitler brought up some of the same issues...he also had solutions.

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  74. Thank you for speaking truth to stupid!

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  75. I have been reading your blog for a couple of years, loving your cogent commentary, including this one. Thought I would add my 2 cents. In the world Donald would build the trains would certainly run on time, the Muslims would wear the crescent on their clothing, the illegals would be herded into "internment" camps and there would likely be some version of a salute created. His followers would be pleased by these innovations remaining unaware of it all having been done before. I don't believe he has a chance of actually becoming president but he can screw up the GOP pretty good - enough to guarantee a democratic win. Great blog...I keep recommending it to all folks I know.
    N. Strouse

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  76. I said it on Facebook. Why are any of you shocked or surprised by Trump? This is the era of the Unserious Candidate. In 2008 and again in 2012 we elected (and re-elected) a man with practically no resume whatsoever, for the responsibility he was being given. His sole qualifier was that he helped voters to feel squishy-huggy about themselves. He was a blank slate, upon which his fans painted whatever fantasies they desired.

    By those standards, Trump makes perfect sense.

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    1. Brad, you must have made it back from deployment in one piece I see. Welcome home. I would have liked to have met you at WorldCon, bought you a cup of coffee and shot the shit, Warrant to Warrant. Maybe next year.

      Honestly, I'm neither shocked nor surprised - which is a damned shame because I should be.

      Instead, I've watched the GOP decline into drooling inbred insanity since Reagan. This, Trump, is the natural end state. As I've said repeatedly, I grew up in a conservative household. When I was a kid, Conservatives were the stern men in white shirts who built and flew spaceships, they were scientists and doctors and engineers and veterans and Boy Scouts and they weren't assholes about it - Hell, I made Eagle without anybody lecturing me on the proper religion or sexual orientation or abortion. My dad taught me to shoot, and the NRA taught me hunter safety without any political bullshit. Conservatives were both Republican and Democrats. Back then Liberals were moonbeams and marijuana and draft dodgers.

      Now? Now conservatives are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. Instead of responsible gun ownership, like you and I had pounded into our heads in the military, they embrace raging scumbags like Ted Nugent - and honestly, since when would anybody you know in the military take that asshole seriously? There is NO religious position too extreme for conservatives nowadays. Internment camps? Databases? Waterboarding? What the fuck? We're supposed to be the good guys.

      When I was growing up, liberals were the people who dreamed about solving problems, conservatives were the people who actually did it. Liberals worried about everything, from The End Is Near to the whales to The Man. Now? Now conservatives are terrified of everything, ebola, terrorism, immigrants, gay marriage, Muslims, fuck the list goes on and on and on. I've never seen people so goddamned afraid all of the time than what's become of the GOP.

      We should be leading the world in solving the problems, from new energy sources to climate engineering to medicine and diplomacy, instead we're cowering in a bunker pissing our pants and crying about the end of the world.

      You're absolutely right, Brad, in this environment, Trump makes perfect sense.

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    2. You are so correct sir. I ran for starlte house in West Michigan in 1980. During that brief dip in the cesspool of political goo I realized my ego wasn't big enough to stick with it. I was 25 a UAW member and ran against a Democrat more conservative than me.
      I watch as the "Moral Majority" over took the the GOP you spoke of like a very slow growing cancer. Their stranglehold began in 1980. That sucked what made the party of Jerry Ford a modern day farce, a joke with no punchline. The Republican Party left me....I didn't leave it. Keep offering your insights they are important. Thanks

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    3. Sorry...before the English majors jump.. Startle was meant to be state. Watch was to be watched. Fat fingers on a little keyboard

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  77. Something occurred to me...as a white male in Alaska I would think that a lot of people up there just assume you are a stupid, brain-dead republican like themselves. And as such they say the things to you that they say to each other..ie "that N in the White House....". I'm sure you don't beat them up like they deserve, but, seriously, how DO you handle that?

    Great essay as always!

    April

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  78. Thanks Jim! That, right there, is the truth. We truelly live in a country where pure bullshit carries the day. Like a friend of mine said, if you throw enough shit at the wall, some of it sticks.
    Unfortunately, the sound bite also carries the day.
    I was taught science by three Nuns in the 60s. They did a good job, they never injected their religion into their teaching.
    As a retired carpenter, I have been greatful for them instilling a fascination of the wold around me. Today they would probably be labeled as radical liberals.
    When the Union of Concerned Scientists is written off as a conspiracy, I truly believe, that is an indicator of how far off the rails we have slipped.
    Donald Trump should have been laughed, and I mean belly laughed out of the contest. But, oh no, he is a front runner.
    Yikes!!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK HAS HAPPENED TO CRITICAL THINKING IN MY COUNTRY?
    Why are are people so fascinated with fascists. They seem to need someone to define a rage that they don't even understand.
    The Joseph Goebeles network has truly done it's work.
    "Hard times do flush out the chumps! " Everett McGill.

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  79. Before you posted this, I couldn't find any references to anything like this.

    After you published this I find several different mainstream references - as in the Next Day. None with your words - their own, but...

    WOW!

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  80. This might be the best post written about modern America, and our willingness to allow liars and corporate whores to run our country. Thanks.

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  81. Love, health, and peace to you, Jim, from a tiny island on the other side of the continent.

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  82. "Everything people think they know about 'God' they read in a book written by men."

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  83. Jim,

    It is like you are in my head, articulating better than I, what I so desperately want to say.

    I grieve today. For those lost in So Cal. For their families. For every freedom we hold dear. Because with every life lost those very freedoms are being stripped away from us. We are moving farther and farther away from everything "the greatest generation" fought for. I stand in utter disbelief that this is happening. And I feel completely powerless to stop it.

    Keep talking Jim. Keep writing. Keep opening minds and rattling cages and shouting these truths. We are listening.


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  84. As a civics teacher, I have been preaching this kind of sentiment for years. It's a representative government, so it only stands to reason that the government represents the attitudes of the people. And the fear, aggressively willful ignorance, and baffling insistence on holding superstition equal to scientific inquiry, are the single biggest problems we face. You're absolutely right, Jim, the only solution is to STOP BEING AFRAID. FDR was totally right.

    As a side note, this is one piece I will be printing and sending to my little brother. He's a Marine (no longer active duty, but there's no such thing as a "former" Marine, after all), and lives in VERY rural Illinois, without internet access. But he's a huge fan nonetheless, and I know he'll enjoy this post.

    Cheers Jim!

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  85. Jim, I'm a state worker in Walker's Wisconsin, and all the things you describe in the conclusion to this post are on shameful display here. I sometimes feel like nobody outside my increasingly hostile little world understands how much destruction is happening, then I read this piece and realized that Jim Wright gets it.

    The whole clip, all in the bullseye. Thank you.

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  86. "Listen to me, if you want a better country, a better world, then you have to to be better citizens." Indeed. All of us need to be better citizens. Gov'ment can't fix stupid.

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