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Monday, February 29, 2016

The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part II

This is not Bernie Sanders’ America.

This is not an America where the optimistic hippy idealism of the 1960’s came to pass.

It would be great if it was though, wouldn’t it?

No, really, think about it.

Conservative or liberal, Republican, Democrat, greying hippy, old brush-cut veteran, wouldn’t you all rather live in an America that spends as much on college educations for every single one of its young people as it currently does sending those same kids off to war?

No?

Well then, how about an America that puts as much effort, real actual effort, into taking care of old veterans as it does making new ones? Isn’t that something we can all agree would be the kind of America we’d all want to live in?

Imagine an America where the budget for the National Science Foundation is larger than for the Department of Defense. Too much? Okay, but imagine it anyway. What wonders would a nation like that create? You can’t imagine it, can you?

Imagine an America that invested as much sustained manpower, resources, research, initiative, and funding into developing new sources of sustainable clean energy as it has into the F-35 Lightning II. Imagine an America that invested as much in new infrastructure or its space program as it does in new Zumwalt class destroyers and nuclear powered Virginia class attack subs.

Imagine an America that is as passionate about fixing poverty, inequality, homelessness, pollution, hunger, disease as it is about tax breaks for Wall Street billionaires and turning our borders into demilitarized zones.

But this isn’t that world, is it?

No, this isn’t Bernie Sanders’ America.

This is an America where a significant fraction of Americans are far more afraid their kids won’t be able to get an assault rifle than they are their kids won’t be able to get a decent education.

This is an America where more Americans are daily terrified by a handful of raggedy-assed ISIS fighters in a foreign land than they are of a growing legion of heavily armed militant religious fanatics in their own midst whose openly stated purpose is armed overthrow of civilization and the bloody murder of those Americans they deem not American enough. And when foreign terrorists actually do attack America, as two did in San Bernardino, California, this is an America far more concerned that those terrorists had access to an iPhone than they are those same murdering lunatics had no problem getting guns - yes, this is actually an America that would impose immediate and draconian laws literally requiring a manufacturer to create a new technology in order to regulate cell phone encryption, but not to control the goddamned guns used to murder 14 Americans and seriously injure 22 more.

The America we live in is far more afraid that some vaguely defined shadowy terrorist is going to kill their kids than it is their kids don’t have healthcare or enough to eat or a decent paying job with a wage they can live on that won’t be outsourced to India.

This is an America far more offended by the idea immigrants might get a piece of the American Dream, might get a taste of freedom and liberty, might become part of our society, than they are by the idea anybody should be left out.

This is an America where the dominant religion is far more concerned with the unborn than with millions of actual living breathing children. This is an America where the dominant religion is far more concerned with forcing the unborn into a world that doesn’t want them than in making this a nation that would freely welcome those children and offer them opportunity and support. This is an America where the majority religion daily proclaims itself the only rightful heir to America, who loudly claims America for its miserable god, who imposes a de facto religious test on nearly every aspect of American life in spite of the Constitution, who daily defines itself by who it hates instead of who it loves in spite of its own prophet, and then has the unmitigated gall to paint itself as oppressed and downtrodden and endlessly persecuted. And more than anything, this is an America where the dominant religion is utterly obsessed with the end of the world and far more fascinated with some fantastical exclusive members-only paradise in some supposed afterlife than it is in making the world we live in right now a better place for all of us.

This is an America that once gloried in its science and engineering and daring. This is an America that once created new fields of study, new areas of endeavor, and new technologies whole cloth. This is a nation that once flew to the moon and looked outward toward the stars and saw the mysteries of the universe as fascinating puzzles to be solved and the problems of the world as challenges to be faced with grit and determination. Now? Now this is an America which looks in upon its own bellybutton in self-imposed woe and depressed misery and that regards its own science as a lie and a scam. Creationists don’t build starships and so neither do we. This is an America which quails in superstitious dread beneath that same starry vault and looks out at the world in fear and terror while Russian and Chinese rockets soar into a future that was once promised to our children.

This is an America that once upon a time stood before the Brandenburg Gate in the midst of divided Berlin and demanded in righteous fury, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Today that gate is open. That wall has fallen. Germany is united and free, the Soviet Union is gone to dust ... and somehow America has become a nation that would wall itself in behind minefields and barbed wire and live like prisoners in an armed camp.

No, this is not Bernie Sanders’ America.

 

It’s Donald Trump’s.

 

This is a nation tailor made for Donald Trump.

It wasn’t always so. When Trump first appeared on the political scene, he was a joke.

It might have been more Ronald Reagan’s America than Bernie Sanders’ back then, but it sure wasn’t Donald Trump’s either.

Congress still worked, the economy was strong, the national budget was running a surplus, and after wasting more than $20 million of the taxpayers’ money the worst thing his enemies could pin on the president was that he’d gotten himself some oral gratification in the Oval Office from a comely and enthusiastic intern, we should all be so lucky.

The Twin Towers still stood, the Pentagon was still whole, and 911 would be nearly two years in the future.

War, let alone two wars, 3000 dead on September 11, 2001, and 5000 more in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t something America imagined for itself then.

Waterboarding, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention, secret CIA camps,  warrantless wiretaps, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, the Patriot Act, those horrors were still the kind of things we Americans condemned in other nations.

In 2000 Trump was Ross Perot’s Reform Party nominee, and everything about his campaign was a ridiculous caricature of America.

The Reform Party was easy patriotism and applause lines for dimwitted droolers splintered off from the Republican Party, their platform was shallow populism based on dislike of “the establishment” and “business as usual.” And there was Trump, the perfect Third Party figurehead, red faced and overfed, all bombast and bluster, more money than brains – the Anti-Nader. Perot supplied the Texas drawl and the ten gallon hat and the political cartoons essentially drew themselves and we all had a great laugh.

But the warning signs were already there.

Congress worked right enough, but only because Newt Gingrich’s coup d’etat and political ambitions went down in bitter flames after he arrogantly shot his mouth off in front of the press. Reagan’s compassionate conservatism (never all that compassionate in the first place) was being replaced by Conservative Evangelicalism and the Republican’s Big Tent was becoming the Revival Tent. George W. Bush had all of his father’s worst qualities and none of the good, but he might have been a reasonably mediocre president – America survived far worse than Dubya – if not for 911.

And that’s when it all went sideways.

That’s when it truly became Donald Trump’s America.

That’s when we sold our souls, when we as a nation gave into hate and fear and rage, when we traded our freedoms for the illusion of security, and when we gave away our children’s future for a tax rebate and endless unending war.

Since Donald Trump first ran for President 16 years ago, we’ve been daily assaulted by unchallenged extreme talk radio conspiracy theories. Glenn Beck and  Michael Savage and Alex Jones and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, they fill the air with bilge and bile and insanity  and  news organizations have buried Edward R. Murrow in a shallow unmarked grave and gleefully given up their sacred duty to the Republic

What? What’s that? Oh, you thought Freedom of the Press was specifically enumerated in the Constitution because pictures of your favorite movie star’s ass were somehow critical to liberty?

Birthers and truthers are now acceptably mainstream and their ridiculous unprovable lunacy – lunacy that in a rational world would be treated as the mental illness it is – is instead readily taken at face value by a credulous population who believes the earth is 6000 years old and the Son of God rode around Galilee on a dinosaur. The Reform Party’s mild dislike for the establishment has metastasized into the Tea Party’s open hatred of government to the accompaniment of Sarah Palin’s screeching caterwaul. And meanwhile the spiritual descendants of Newt Gingrich have taken out a contract on America.

And suddenly Donald Trump isn’t so goddamned funny anymore.

Trump isn’t just a creation of the booger-eating madness that has taken over the once Great Party of Lincoln. Liberals had a hand in creation of this Frankenstein’s monster too.

I see everywhere speculation that Trump isn’t serious – hell, there was a time I might have believed that myself but that time is long past.

Every day liberals and progressives and even conservatives write to me saying they just don’t believe Trump really wants to be president despite the fact that he’s spending millions of his own dollars and he’s been running for president for 16 years. Liberals are as deep in denial as conservatives. They, none of  them, can believe it’s come to this.

Every day liberals and progressives and an increasing number of conservatives write to tell me how they’re sure, absolutely sure, Trump is a stalking horse, a creation of Hillary Clinton or some other vast left wing conspiracy, designed to discredit and destroy the Republican Party. Given that we have become a nation of gullible cud-chewing conspiracy theorists half of whom believe one of our presidents snuck into the Twin Towers on September 10th, 2001 and wired them for demolition without anybody noticing and the other half believe one of our presidents is somehow an alien reptile in a rubber human suit born in a foreign country and secretly in thrall to the Islamic Brotherhood, I guess nothing is too farfetched in this America.

We created this monster. All of us.

We’ve had years, decades, centuries, to make this country into something better, to live up to that promise of life, liberty, and happiness. We could have fed the hungry, clothed the poor, and healed the sick – all of them, every last one. We had more than enough resources to do so. We could have gone to the stars, instead of hitching a ride like poor cousins on Russian rockets to low earth orbit. We could have educated every single child in this country and made a bright future for those yet unborn.

We could be living in Bernie Sanders’ America. 

Sure we could, and it wouldn’t have taken all that much effort – certainly not as much as we put into those silos out West or that fancy new invisible fighter plane or that wall Trump wants to build. Or Iraq and Afghanistan, let alone Vietnam.

We don’t have to wait for some mythical afterlife. We don’t need some promise of eternal reward or threat of eternal damnation. We could storm the heavens and build for ourselves an enduring paradise right here, right now, for everybody, not for just those few some miserable God decides are worthy.

We still could.

Far too many Americans still think of Trump’s campaign as a joke and they keep waiting for the laugh ... but somehow the punchline never comes.

It never comes because, you see, the joke is on us. All of us, conservatives and liberals, republicans and democrats and the independents.

Trump is deadly serious.

Trump is deadly serious and this is now his time, his America.

 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. 

 

Donald Trump is no Adolf Hitler.

Donald Trump is no Benito Mussolini.

America is neither Nazi Germany nor Fascist Italy, not even close, and the comparisons which now fill social and mainstream media alike are nothing but lazy journalism.

There are similarities, certainly, the mindless nationalism, the shallow jingoistic patriotism, the endless saber rattling and warmongering, the bluster and bombast and ten gallon hats, enemies everywhere foreign and especially domestic, the fear, the seething impotent rage, the intolerance, the endless threats of force, the racism, the xenophobia, the explicit promise of new nation especially for true Americans, and the vague promises of a newly restored America of a more pure greatness.

Oh yes, there’s  no doubt that the danger is close and very real.

But then it always is, for that is the nature of civilization. It’s fragile. It takes effort. The nuts work loose constantly as the gods stand by and laugh. That’s just how it is.

In 1787, in Paris, a decade after the Revolution, Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.” He wasn’t just talking about war and revolution and armies, he was talking about real force, real power, the power you wield as citizens of the Republic.

You see fate is what we make of it, fate of men and fate of nations, and in the end while this might not be Bernie Sanders’ America, or even Ronald Reagan’s Shining City on the Hill, it doesn’t have to be Donald Trump’s America either.

You can change it. Starting today.

This  is not Bernie Sanders’ America.

This is not  Donald Trump’s America. 

It’s ours. All of us together.

If you want a better nation, be better citizens.


The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part I is  here.

137 comments:

  1. Loved the article - typo alert Shinning Hill - oops.

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    1. Wonderful, but it's Sanders's, as he is a singular entity.

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    2. Thanks Jim. Reading your essays help me keep going. You've been an inspiration to me since I was first introduced to your writing. Your one, of only two sites I contribute to on a regular basis, and I always feel my money was well spent.

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    3. As a former English literature teacher and current public school administrator, I am both impressed and dismayed in the candor and accuracy found in your writing. I have never read anything that so succinctly summed up my own political/societal beliefs. As an idealistic young teacher in 1993, I began teaching the Sinclair Lewis novel, It Can’t Happen Here as well as Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New World in a senior lit unit called Gloom and Doom – Looking Forward to Democracy in the 21st Century. It is terrifying to think that these authors who were prominent over half a century ago have, like you, so clearly identified how American society has become so dystopian in its entropic desire to obliviously shake itself to pieces. Trump, in a technicolor reincarnation of Lewis’s Berzelius "Buzz" Windrip, continues to shout, berate, bully and chortle to the glee of the disaffected masses, the same folks who were eagerly pining for Y2K to thrust society back into the Dark Ages and usher in the second coming of Christ, the Rapture and Zombie Apocalypse. Paradoxically, we have come to the point where the zealots (religious and political alike) are being led by perhaps the loudest, most profane charlatan/chameleon of all time whose point of view changes dependent on proximity of those with whom he is standing. Obsessed with the cult of his own personality, he, like Jim Jones in Guyana or David Koresh in Waco, TX has followers thronging to blindly follow.

      I am disgusted to be a member of the superstitious, bumbling, dimwitted, reactionary American body politic who behaves as a drunk in a stupor, hurling nonsensical rants and epithets all the while wildly staggering across the world stage. It is sad to think that we created this monster in failing to heed the words of warning of those who have come before us, abdicating our responsibility to demand responsive, thoughtful, and effective government. We routinely elect weak, ineffective, licentious people to positions of authority demanding nothing but the status quo in return. Republicans (the Tea Party driven clown car primary circus of 17) now have a “crazy” problem and the Democrats (Whitewater, Lewinski, Benghazi, private email, etc.) have a “truth” problem. Fixing either is impossible with “crazy” typically being far worse because it is louder and more unpredictable.

      We indeed are a sorry lot as we let the party system become a cynical, profit driven machine concerned about avarice over ideology. The America for which you and my grandfather served is so very different than the America of today. If Europe wasn't already beset with her own problems, she would be looking across the water with utter contempt and disgust. Next door, Canada is shivering, bracing for the worst of a bad prearranged marriage. The rest of us are left holding our breath, looking forward to an increasingly bleak future with reason and logic thrown into the hazard. Even when an honest voice like Sanders’ finally does break through the din, he gets branded as a heretical “socialist” or “communist” and marginalized as a dreamer not to be taken seriously.

      I think the time to, as you suggest, “become better citizens” is unfortunately past. A new reality show is being born. It is called American Idiocracy and you and I, along with everyone else, have been cast and given a part. We who are capable of achieving such great heights in everything we survey - medicine, engineering, the arts, language, mathematics, technology, every imaginable form of science and even the heavens yet inexplicably have become the architects of our own demise subject to the basest and most venal motives of human nature.

      We are, as I believe Darwin would put it, a failed species.

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    4. The bottom line of it all is that, humans are not good enough to accept equality. We are all a bunch of animals with the intellect to rationalize our animal behavior. As long as we are allowed to exploit one another, it does not matter who we elect. Until man can accept equality we are doomed. Inequality leads to accumulation of wealth, which leads to power, which leads to corruption, then comes exploitation, followed by violent backlash that brings it all down. It then starts over. Any way that is what has happened through out history. This cycle will probably end when we do ourselves in. All because we are not good enough to accept equality any further than our immediate family.

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  2. Brilliant as always Jim. Though
    "And when foreign terrorists actual do attack America,"
    Should be "actually"

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  3. I crossed the US from coast to coast on a bicycle in 1986 and 1996.

    I never saw a firearm. I was told (once) by a guy I stayed at in Buelah, North Dakota, that he hunted and got almost trapped in Canada with his rifles.

    Why is this firearm discussion so contentious, while it is a none-issue in the country (as you might surmise, being on a bike, I spent most of the time in "fly-over country").

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    1. 1. In the twenty years since you last rode across the country, open carry by fearful conservatives has become a real thing.
      2. Lots more mass shootings in American than there were in 96.
      3. The people carrying these firearms are a LOT more afraid than they used to be. Heck, even cops now talk more about "making it home at the end of the night" than "to protect and serve".

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    2. Exactly @ "fearful". One way or another the people of America are feeling the incredible uncertainties in day to day life. From insecure jobs, health care, finances, ..... the future in general. When hard work, loyalty, and honesty can't guarantee the American dream*....and some greedy, power hungry wealthy segment of society is intent on having "it ALL" by chipping away at OUR rights to a bether future..... When there is so much we can't control, some find a false security in being armed.

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  4. We don’t have to wait for some mythical afterlife. We don’t need some promise of eternal reward or threat of eternal damnation. We could storm the heavens and build for ourselves an enduring paradise right here, right now, for everybody, not for just those few some miserable God decides are worthy. So well written, I cried.

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  5. Fantastic! I wish everyone would read this and let it make a difference in their outlook!

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  6. Thanks. Beautifully said. Once upon a time people of my generation marched, spoke out and went to jail to try to get to that America. We won some skirmishes and somehow thought we'd won the war. That was our failure, and it's just deteriorated since that point because the Trump sorts did not go away, they just got stealthier. When so many [people have copped out of voting and just don't seem to care anymore, the whole thing seems hopeless. I hope enough of us still care enough to do this.

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    1. Our Grandkids do. They are generally clear-eyed about what they are facing, and they are behind Bernie in a big way. We've got more time now (retired), and they have the idealism and energy. Its an ideal match. Bernie is willing to lead, we have to follow in a big way. Absolutely vote, but also get involved making things better.

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    2. Eight years ago young people were behind Obama and got him elected -- his was a message of hope. And because Democrats didn't vote at the mid-terms, we do not have a Congress. The GOP will do anything, including gerrymandering, voter suppression, voting machine fraud, dark money, lies in negative campaigning, etc. to win, but not to govern.

      Bernie Sanders comes along with another message of hope with solutions to real problems, real issues...has massive grassroots support in donations (3x what Hillary can get after a primary), and what does the media do? suppress his success with young people, ridicule his economics (when as many say they would work)...

      Rallies of 25,000 people go unreported. Has the media been so co-opted by big money? Has the 1% decided Bernie is not manipulable, so will squash his message?

      Have we become so cynical in 8 years that we now believe Bernie can't win because we are told he can't by the DNC even when polls say the opposite?

      What is this teaching young people?

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  7. When you and your bride reach the lower 48, please come over for supper.

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  8. The problem is, it's far easier for people to be afraid than it is to be strong.

    Look at the UK, we faced the IRA without issue. Some months there were 40+ attacks - snipers, mortars, bombs, etc. Hell, I was almost blown up in the 93 Warrington bombing, if you don't remember it, just remember that the 2013 Boston bombing was a near carbon copy of it, and almost exactly 20 years later. Also remember that two months before that bombing, a certain politician tried to get members of the IRA's political wing invited to Clinton's inauguration. That politician? Former two-time chairman (and current member) of the House Homeland Security committee, Rep Peter King (R).

    Despite that, this week the UK Government is going to introduce the snoopers charter, to deal with the negligible threat of terrorism now. We didn't need it 25 years ago with attacks almost daily but we do now? Never thought I'd long for Major again.

    Likewise in the US, people have just given into the relentless torrent of fear, and are so busy shitting themselves in panic they don't think rationally. Thus those that capitalise on that fear make major money and wield great power (see the aforementioned King)

    The US is no longer "home of the free and land of the brave". It's the ramshackle trailer of the coward.

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    1. You write like what I feel. Just as Jim does. We are not courageous right now.

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    2. Thanks. I've talked to Jim a few times and think we're on similar pages, although we seem to be as different as can be. I've spent years calling people out on shit, including in politics (in fact today is my final day as head of the US Pirate Party).

      I grew up in one of the highest-poverty areas of Europe, with significant IRA activitity, and was not afraid.my first trip to the US, I ended up getting lost going from Long Beach to LAX and was wandering around Compton carrying two suitcases, and was not afraid. I have had death threats and attempting SWATings by various groups (like Lulzsec) and it didn't stop me. And I certainly don't own a gun, because I have kids, and I don't feel scared enough to need one (my fathers best friend, who was in the UK's Territorial Army marksmanship team did teach me to shoot when I was 6/7, and my father-in-law was a licensed gun dealer here in GA - I'm not scared 'of' guns, I just have no need of a blued-steel security blanket)

      People look at me and see the stereotypical geek-weenie, but unlike them, I'm not afraid of things that have no real possibility of happening. Plus I have this obsessive habit of fact-checking. I would almost say the callous disregard for facts is perhaps the second half of the problem. People are afraid so easily, because they don't have the proper facts to base an analysis of how afraid they should be.

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  9. If we the people, refuse to be held responsible for the acts of our elected and appointed officials,
    Then how can we possibly expect those officials to accept responsibility??

    When CNN asked a local affiliate in Michigan if the protesters were asking for the resignation of Gov. Snyder, the answer was hesitant but firm, "No, they want him ARRESTED!"

    I get sick of the realization that too many people in the US think of our system of government as some kind of religious doctrine.
    No matter how badly it works, no matter how crazy it gets, they "believe" in it, just because they have no other alternative, and refuse to consider any alternative.
    Any suggestion that an alternative could be better, is considered blasphemy and is punished, as apostasy.

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/mike-anderson/4-branch/10152613377812278

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    1. We are responsible. I take my responsibility very seriously. I know many people who also take all of this very seriously. May the serious folks really be serious and do their duty and drag along a few of the folks who don't think it makes a difference.

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  10. This essay makes me want to weep for what we could have been...

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  11. And The Revolution will not be Televised.

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  12. Good essay. The truth, it stings a bit, but you hit it right on the head.

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  13. Unfortunately, the problem is that it's a divided America. There are a LOT of us who are committed to making Bernie Sanders' America... and a lot of people who are just as committed to making it Donald Trump's. Meantime, the people who like it just fine the way it is (including the party leaders of both major parties, and all their friends in business and government who have their wealth and status all sewn up already) drag their feet and pretend trivial changes are all that's possible, because trivial changes are all they want to see.

    If Trump is elected, my family will be leaving. We'll still keep our citizenship and vote in any future elections, though I'm skeptical that there will BE any future elections if Trump is elected; I think he'll declare martial law and suspend them. But we're putting everything we have into being better citizens, and it hasn't worked very well so far because there simply aren't enough of us. If that's going to stay true, maybe the best thing we can do is go someplace where there are.

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    1. Exactly this. I vote in every election possible, and vote against those who vote against "...the least of us..." and yet it does no good. Our senator can be counted on to vote against helping children and veterans every single time he steps into the chamber. I spend a lot of my time and efforts into being the change I want to see and it's not enough. I think people have seriously lost their minds to fear of the "other." Everything Jim has said is true. I'd always counted on the US becoming better, not regressing into a drooling mass of nerves, clutching its guns, and proud of its ignorance.

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  14. Always a wakeup call, Jim. Thanks.

    "Newt Gingrich's coup d'etat >et<"

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  15. On target and very sad that we let it all get this far.... but we can still turn the tide and reach for the stars and leave Mr. Trump and his ilk back in the swamp of time.....

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  16. F-35 Lightning II, not Lighting. But... Absolutely marvelous as always, Jim. Thanks for your powerful, talented effort in this and in everything you right, sir.

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  17. There was a time when I thought Trump was a stalking horse, but that was a while back. His ego has taken over. He wants to be the most powerful person in the world, and he'll do whatever it takes to win that position.

    The military is afraid of him, because he'll order them to commit war crimes, and the generals and the privates don't want to end up on trial in the Hague. "Just following orders," doesn't work any more.

    The evangelicals, who've been pushing a doctrine of "if you pray hard enough you'll be rich and important and famous" are now afraid of a man who claims that because he prayed he became rich and important and famous.

    He has no actual plans. He'll make America great again. How? America will be great. You'll be amazed at how great. He'll make Mexico pay for the wall. How? It'll be a great wall. Biggest wall ever. No matter what, he doesn't have any real plans. He just says what the crowd wants to hear.

    But you know something, Jim? All the articles you write, all the comments we make, all the sober editorials written by people who have studied Trump and fear him, won't make any difference to his followers, because they aren't going to listen. They hear "get rid of Mexicans, get rid of Muslims, White people are the best, I'm wonderful, I'm rich, American will be great" and their brains turned off. I don't know how to reach them. The Republicans have lost them. I don't know if there is any way to reach them. All we can do is continue to try to get Sanders (or, alternatively, Clinton) into the White House. It's the only way I know to stop Trump.

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    1. Could I ask about 2 scenarios - I'm British as a declaration of accuracy. If Donald Trump, by some awful mischance, is elected but once in office, reality sets in and he can't get the wall built, the rest of the world reacts to his tariff barriers, he can't go to battle against anyone and all his other nostrums come up against the Constitution and the basic fact that life just isn't simple, what will the reaction be of all those whom he has fired up? Similarly if beaten how will the (say 30+%) of those who voted for him take it?

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    2. Richard, I've asked those very same questions of myself and part of me would LOVE to see Trump actually win, just to watch the shit storm that would ensue, but unfortunately I have to live in this crazy country (in the south no less) and I really don't want to live here with that bobblehead running our country.

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    3. That is the key question, Richard. I have been concerned about that ever since trump the "candidate" declared. In the best case, they will just shut up. In the worst...well there are a lot of guns out there. My sad experience in a long life (76 years now) is that best cases are rare, and whatever really happens (in politics at least) tends to lie more in the worse direction than otherwise. The bottom line is that over the millennia we humans have not found a decent way to govern ourselves in large aggregations.

      (My name is not anonymous, but Jerome Rosen, in NYC.

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    4. Richard T,

      What will happen when Trump's bloviating doesn't pan out is that the rabble will turn on the rabble rouser and accuse him, rightly, of letting them down. Same way it always happens when presidential candidates promise what presidents can't deliver.

      I'm sure Trump, if he got in, which I strongly doubt he will, would not be able to resist the temptation to use the office to try to make money, and will cross a line he won't even notice until it is too late, and the country will spend a vast amount of time and money impeaching him. He won't have the congress on his side, he won't have the states aor the local politicians of any stripe on his side,he won't have the police, he won't have the military, he won't have the civil servants, he won't have anyone except his little court and some rabble rousing hacks. It would be a disaster for the country, but it will quickly descend into farce.

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    5. Trump's followers won't accuse him because he will be busy blaming someone else if anything goes wrong, and they'll accuse the object(s) of his blame. Trump will remain blameless in their mind.

      -Lucy

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  18. your ad banner at the bottom is "Brannon for US Senate, Constitutional. Conservative. Repulican." no point. just sayin.

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    1. Mine shows an ad for Dress Barn. It's your browser.

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    2. I use Ad Blocker Plus for Chrome.

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    3. Richard, I've been thinking about the French Revolution lately. When Trump doesn't get his way, he ups the ante or throws a temper tantrum. I would expect a lot of that, if he were President. That could have disastrous consequences for the whole world. BB's comment about the rabble turning on him is where the French Revolution comes in. I don't think the result would be impeachment. That would be too organized. These people hate government, see it as the oppressor. I'm thinking it would be civil war.

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  19. Thank you Jim. I'm 30 years old, I look around at the people I grew up with, at friends and family that buy into the horse shit that we're mired in and I cannot stand the sight of their ignorance. You're right, we could do more and be better and reach ever higher, but these people are too bored down in fear and pride. They're too afraid to raise their heads and see the truths in front of them. They want to stay in their small worlds with their small minds and their undeserved pride because it's too risky to look up and have their misconceptions shattered. They stay in their small corners of the world with small minded people and they refuse to open the door and look out upon what we could become. I'll teach my boys to be better than that, and I'll continue to slowly leak sense into the murky waters that my generation dribbled down their throats. There is still hope, after all.

    Megan Johnson

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    1. I'm not sure how mired got turned into bored, but apparently I need to proofread before I submit comments. -.-

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  20. Excellent - exactly the way I've been feeling.
    "Glenn Beck and Michael Savage and Alex Jones and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh, they fill the air with bilge and bile and and insanity and news organizations have buried Edward R. Murrow in a shallow unmarked grave and gleefully given up their sacred duty to the Republic." May want to get rid of one of those "ands" after bile.

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  21. Jeezus Harold Christ. "Write," not right. Don't know HOW that happened.

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  22. Brilliant as always. Mind if I retreat it with this poignant quote (giving you credit of course?) "If you want a better nation, be better citizens."

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  23. I have no words. And well, you've used them all much better than I could, anyway. So, I sit here in tears mourning for what our country was. Hoping that it can survive this insanity. Thanks for another brilliant piece of writing. I will pull myself together in time to vote.

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  24. Outstanding..........your best yet IMHO.

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  25. FDR was never more right that when he said 'The only thing we have to fear is fear itself'. Irrational Fear has gripped large portions of our population and made them think in ever more irrational and dangerous ways. The mass media with it's 24/7/365 sensationalism has mightily contributed to this. It has created a public that is so paranoid it is willing to give up it's freedom's for what appears to be a state that wants to secure it's existence over everything else. Sounds a bit like a certain Benjamin Franklin quote doesn't it?. This state of paranoia brought upon a population has been seen before historically. The USSR was a result of this paranoia as was Nazi Germany and the Chinese Mao revolution. It takes a certain type of mentality to fall into this paranoiac state. A state where everyone not just like you is seen as an enemy to be eliminated lest they interrupt your carefully constructed boring life. Who falls under this spell well simple minded uneducated and willfully ignorant people do. To these types of people the barbarians are always at the gate ready to invade ready to corrupt their version of reality. To that end I do support Bernie Sanders to provide advanced education to America. Because only with education does ignorance and fear become less of a threat and people are less likely to fall under it's spell. A spell that leads only to destruction.

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    1. I think I missed a few things... I support Bernie Sanders plan to provide higher education for America. I however do not support Bernie for President. I like some of Bernie's ideas however I think Hillary is the better candidate. Her work in civil rights and her foreign policy experience is what tips the balance in her favor in my opinion.

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    2. I don't get this when I hear it. Virtually every President starts with zero or very little foreign policy experience, they learn on the job.

      Why does her experience excuse her hawkishness and her love affair with Wall Street? If it weren't for Bernie being so left, she wouldn't have been dragged there kicking and screaming, she'd be indistinguishable from many of the GOP candidates on far too many topics.

      As for her work in civil rights, have you not paid attention to Bernie's?

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    3. Hillary, IMHO, is an Eisenhower republican, just like bill was.

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    4. That just isn’t true. She is and has always been distinguishable from the GOP. She has spent a life time fighting for better education, healthcare, equality and the environment. Look at her voting record while in the senate. Look at the bills she sponsored and cosponsored. Based on her voting record she was more liberal than 85% of senate. She sponsored bills that were aimed at improving education, healthcare and the environment. Bernie was standing behind her way back when she tried to get universal healthcare and had to settle for insuring millions of children through CHIPS. The rest is all right wing conspiracy and talking points created to attack her. Bernie and Hillary agree on 93% of the issues. Both candidates would make fine leaders for this country and both are FAR better than the alternatives.

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  26. read your essay out loud to a friend - I think I will read your essays in this fashion in the future - it slowed me down and let the meaning and emotion of your words wash over me. Bravo, sir. This IS our America. Time to step up.

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    1. I often read Jim's posts to my husband and I know exactly what you mean. It's powerful.

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  27. I've been reading you for a couple of years now. To me, this is your best yet.

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  28. Living on the other side of the border (I'm in Canada) I have to tell you I never thought Trump was a joke and I can't believe how popular he is. It really scares me, and it worries a lot of my countrymen. We're a liberal nation up here for the most part, how will Trump deal with our government? We are your largest trading partner- so what happens for us? What happens in the US affects the rest of the world, and not too many countries will feel the impact as deeply as Canada will. I have a lot of dear friends in the US, but if Trump becomes President, I will not travel into the US again. I hear that from a lot of people.

    There was a time when the US was that shining beacon on a hill, though I realize there was always (as is the case with anything human) a darker side to that beacon for many. I think of the vision men like RFK had though and am saddened that there is nothing like that any more for the US- there's just fear and hate of anything that is even a tiny bit different. We've welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees into Canada since December. We have not dissolved into anarchy nor gone to hell in a hand basket- in fact life is business as usual. There is to quote a former president of your own, 'Nothing to fear but fear itself.' We can build a better world- all of us, every nation but we have to stand up to the bullies and be louder and stronger than they are, we have to have more stamina in the end than they do. I listen to Bernie Sanders and he makes sense- he actually has compassion and humanity. I wish the media would pay as much attention to what he says as they do to every idiocy that comes out of Trump's mouth- the man who never actually answers any question with anything other than nonsensical word salad.

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    1. I think if Trump manages to win Canada is going to receive quite a few applications for citizenship. I know my husband and I will be two of them!

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    2. As a fellow Canadian, I agree. I just can't believe how people can be so taken with Donald Trump. I wish they would realize just how obnoxious and dangerous he is.
      Also take a very critical look at Cruz(the weasel, talk about scary). And is Rubio any better? If I had to vote Republican(God forbid), I'd be voting Kasick, he seems like a reasonable man with experience in government.
      Please America, for yourself, for us Canadians and for the world. Please THINK!
      Elaine in BC Canada

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    3. It's easy to see how this came about when you know that our government has been diverting money from important things - like education - into the military (but not for taking care of the vets).

      We as a nation have been getting progressively stupider. The textbook folks in Texas have voted to add the biblical Noah to our history books. There isn't even evidence that Noah actually existed, but he's there in our textbooks now, thanks to the crazy right wing.

      And they vote in droves. They meet every Sunday in church. They are far more organized than educated liberals who are too lazy to vote when it's not a presidential election. All these things add up to what we have now.

      And I'll be immigrating if he wins as well. If any republican wins. I'm a woman. The religiously motivated and controlled do not like women.

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    4. As a liberal for 48 years I have never failed to vote except in one primary.

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    5. I've been a Canadian Landed Immigrant (came with a so-called draft dodger in 1965) and now have duel citizenship. Lived through many, many U.S. elections.

      This is the first time Canadians are talking so much about it, how much they like Bernie not Hillary, how immature and embarrassing the GOP candidates are, esp. Trump whom they seen as the bloated, blowhard embodiment of the many arrogantly ignorant Americans.

      They are not laughing.
      I am grieving my country's descent into a dystopian madness and the decline of its democratic values, the erosion of its voting rights, the destructiveness of its extreme inequality....

      Growing up in Orange Country, and in a right-wing, evangelical household, I understand the rabidness of closed minds. So glad I left:
      I would pray for America, if I believed in god.

      I can only wish you all, still there, well.

      And I just voted in the Primary for Democrats abroad. There are 700 of us in Ottawa, Ontario. :D (Bernie, of course.)

      From a broader cross-border perspective, may I recommend
      journalist Rex Murphy of the Canadian Broadcasting Company broadcasts who is providing thought-provoking insights into America and Trump:

      Here is just one:

      http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/rex-murphy-donald-trump-1.3360301

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  29. Stuart in CincinnatiFebruary 29, 2016 at 5:18 PM

    Well said! Have you seen the piece David Brooks has on a very similar vein? Brilliant writing, all the veiled racism ( and not so veiled Racism) comes home to roost, but as someone who toured the museum in Nuremburg last summer, I see frightening similarities in the rise of a nasty mean spirited man. Especially when he starts talking about changing the constitution to get even with his enemies.

    Tiny Typo, " more Ronald Reagan's America than Bernie Sander's " should be Sanders'

    Thank you!

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  30. One typo -- "...oral gratification in the Oval Office from *a* comely and enthusiastic intern..."

    Great post, as always. Thanks for being part of the discussion.

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  31. If the truth ever hurt, just enough get people off of their butts? Let it be now.

    Thank you for writing. :)

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  32. Catherine Carow SeillerFebruary 29, 2016 at 5:51 PM

    Jim, this is a tour de force. Thank you.

    One typo I noted: "Trump is deadly serious and this is his now his time, his America." You have an extra "his" in there.

    I follow you on FB, next time you give someone the boot, please consider my immediate appointment. [Fingers crossed.]

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  33. Bill Butler

    Very good essay Jim! It is astonishing to me how the mind-set of so many in the USA are quickly becoming more and more similar in thinking as those practicing radicalized versions of Islam in the middle eastern countries. We are becoming more and more radicalized just like the very same people many here consider as our enemies.

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  34. Bill Butler

    Very good essay Jim! It is astonishing to me how the mind-set of so many in the USA are quickly becoming more and more similar in thinking as those practicing radicalized versions of Islam in the middle eastern countries. We are becoming more and more radicalized just like the very same people many here consider as our enemies.

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  35. Bill Butler

    Very good essay Jim! It is astonishing to me how the mind-set of so many in the USA are quickly becoming more and more similar in thinking as those practicing radicalized versions of Islam in the middle eastern countries. We are becoming more and more radicalized just like the very same people many here consider as our enemies.

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  36. I've gone back to the beginning of your blog, and have almost finished catching up on every word you wrote, got about 1 1/2 years left to finish up. And in those posts were threads that made me leap up and read them out loud to the friend I stay with in the winter, many of them I have sent off to an old friend who has a mind as complex and knowledgeble as yours. we send them back and forth. but this one whew, it resonates with wisdom on a galactic level, it's too bad that George Carlin had left the stage before you showed up on it, I would love to sit in on a conversation the 2 of you could have had .

    You're righter than you know about us old hippies who fought against the war, we thought we won the war, not the battle, so we went off and didn't pay attention other than to fall apart in shock, when Ronnie Rayguns became Gov. of California ( my much beloved state) much less President. That should have been a BIG clue there.

    BUt this far outstrips the situation we were in in the late 60s, early 70s. oh we thought it was the end of the world, but the state of the US for the last 8 years has turned into living in an awake nightmare. it seems like a very bad sci-fi futuristic film. every single day I read something, nay, I lie, I read at least 10 to 20 stories about politics/politicians/life in the US that have me blank with disbelief. The loonies are so far gone, so out of contact with reality, that I pick my jaw up from my knee so often, it has a permanent bruise. BUt the ultimate weirdness is when I hear those who I thought were smarter than the average bear, like Rachael Maddow, Chris Hays, you know, normal people. but I hear them and others speaking of this crop of GOP idiots as if what they ( the idiots) say has value, they weigh those words, treating them with the same respect that they treat the words of the Dems, MAdness I tell you ! madness why don't those pundits just fall about laughing at the GOP and the nonsense they sprout ?

    anyway, I fear the stupids will win, I am doing all I can to support Bernie, I cling to the hope he and those of us who understand that the only person you can trust in the political field is someone who takes not a cent, and never has, from big business of any kind,

    The only person who is telling the truth or anywhere near the truth

    but it's hard when ANY public media outlet is doing their best to downplay Bernies accomplishments during this campaign, spinning everything to make us believe that he doesn't stand a chance in hell


    I'm glad I'm old, but I pity those who have decades left to live in this world, we couldn't have done worse had we planned it Oh wait, this WAS planned by the unspeakably greedy shadowy folks pulling the strings of all parts of the gov't, with an 8 year hiatus as Obama tried to leave us better than he found us being the only exception

    Thanks Jim Wright for your words, not only are they true, they are entertaining, and best of all your writings and the people chiming in in the comments section make me feel not quite so alone.

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  37. A very wise and troubling essay that defines a large number of our citizens and dampens our feelings about this country but does not suffocate them. John Birch society writ large,- I don't know, doesn't quite define it but it at least in my lifetime. Kevin Spacey on TV says " The American people will do the right thing." I will,how about the youngsters?. I don't know if the Pied Piper will lead the kids who missed classes on American History. Anti elitism means up with the uneducated ( he loves them) and down with all others. As for God,what does he care about what drivel is going on in this far out spiral arm of the Milky Way. I hate to say it, but the South a la Jeff Sessions is a beautiful land where I would not be welcomed. Unless I believed in selling my religion with a torch. Yep,Great and comprehensive essay Jim. Better than medicine.

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  38. Still processing. I must admit to making jokes with my mother recently about moving away - as in, out of the country if he gets elected. I would never leave for that reason, but I after wearing a uniform for two decades, I have say I'm almost embarrassed by what I see and read every day. That's all the comment I can manage at this point.

    Such a great job, Jim. One day I hope to shake your hand.

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  39. I call bullshit. It may be what you want your readers to believe, with your hyperbolic fear mongering, but I do not believe it. I proudly call myself a liberal and have been for 70 years. But I neither cower in fear nor do I demonize those who politically disagree with me.

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    1. You didn't actually read the essay, did you?

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    2. In actually did. But I did not suspend my disbelief. This is not a movie. I won't be stampeded or cajo9led by hyperbole. So what was your point?

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    3. My point was obvious to everyone but you. If you didn't get it, I'm not particularly inclined to explain it in any greater detail.

      The internet is a big place, I'm sure if you look around you'll find a place more suited to your temperament.

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    4. I kept running into your writing on Facebook and love it. This essayed caused me to track you down and set up a monthly contribution...you are as important as PBS to me.

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  40. Great essay. I still have confidence that the ensuing electoral season will persuade low information voters to eventually come to their senses. Even casual scanning indicate his early political ambition and one must admire his frugality and effective primary campaign. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Trump_presidential_campaign,_2000 has interesting factoids. Thanks Jim----Here's to better citizens making a better nation.

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  41. I loved this, and like others, I wept. I don't have any sterling analysis, any stellar superlatives, but damn, this essay speaks to my heart.

    I have read science fiction for 5+ decades, and I remember the Utopian promise of so many of those books. I thought I was growing up into that perfect society. It took me longer than it should have to see differently, and I could cry now for the lost years of opportunity to change a single thing.

    I fear that your words, clarion call that they are, are simply too late. There are too many in this country who prefer ignorance, who prefer the non-thinking answer of letting some blustering shouter tell them what to do, to think, to say. And nothing we can say or do will get them to take the hard road of thinking on their own.

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  42. Thanks for mentioning the F-35 Lightning II. It's a symptom. A big, slow, heavy turkey which is intended to do everything, but in the end does nothing well. Except pour money down the drain.

    Not that long ago, we knew how to build effective aircraft. The A-10 is designed for exactly one job and does that job exceedingly well. The F-22C, exactly one job, exceedingly well.

    But now we build flying turkeys.

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    1. And it's amazing that these planes are still designed for being flown by humans, while that severely limits its capabilities ...

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    2. I understand your fondness for the A-10, which is undoubtedly an amazing aircraft. However, it is still an weapon of the past. The only reason it still has a role is that its targets have been pretty unsophisticated lately. Even though we probably will never go to war against China or Russia, we will probably have to contend with their weapons in the hands of those we will fight against.

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    3. The A-10 is effective in ground support, but is vulnerable to MANPADS, something that didn't really exist when it was originally designed. The F-35 on the other hand, is too valuable to risk in direct engagement and is limited to standoff situations.

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  43. We went to the moon. We'd have to reinvent a lot of that knowledge if we were to go back. But we don't have the will - we are too preoccupied with small problems to work on big things. We've become selfish, afraid of the new and different, and keep to ourselves. Hope for the future has turned to fear - and we tune in to broadcasts of folks hyping distrust and fear of anything and everything. Fear sells, and the nation is buying it by the boatload.

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  44. Will the American people understand what Jim are saying?
    A lot of harmful decisions have been made in the name of democracy, but democracy are about working every day for it, by it, with it. Until such change come that people no longer can vote, you the people of United States of America have the power to vote for something other then what are. People voted for Mussolini, people voted for Putin, Reagan, Thatcher, Merkel, Ghandi, Mao, Amin, Assad, De Gaulle, Churchill, Clinton, Kennedy. They all acted differently, some stripped some privileges away, some enhanced them. You choose next time.
    Keep up the writing Jim, beware of the haters.

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  45. Great essay Jim. From an outsider's (British) perspective I'm less sanguine about the Hitler and Mussolini comparisons being wholly inaccurate. Whilst I don't believe that Trump is particularly ideologically driven - he appears motivated largely by power - he is riding upon and further enabling forces of hate and fear in the USA. Once this particular genie is out of the bottle President Trump may not be able to control it and may settle for doing what it demands in order to appear to remain in control of events.

    One wonders whether a Trump presidency could actually produce an America which becomes a source of refugees rather than a place of safety to which refugees might flee.

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  46. Excellent essay as always - thanks Jim Wright.

    One possible typo caught :

    "War, let alone two wars, 3000 on September 11, 2001, and 5000 more in Iraq and Afghanistan wasn’t something America imagined for itself then."

    I think you left out a word - dead? - after the 3000 there?

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  47. Another excellent article, Jim. Bravo.

    And "alien reptile in a rubber human suit"? Kudos for the "V" reference. One of my all-time favorite mini-series, even if the follow-up wasn't up to the same level of quality (and the TV series was worse; I never bothered with the recent remake beyond the pilot episode).

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    1. He wasn't referencing Doctor Who and the Slaveen? ;-)

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    2. I think that if he was, he'd have added "flatulent" to the description. :-) And I can totally see Cruz or Rubio unhinge his jaw and swallow a guinea pig whole. (That scene would have been a whole lot more effective for me if the FX of Diana's stretching jaw wasn't so laughably cheesy. I mean, even for 80's vintage FX, I think they could've done better.)

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  48. I enjoy reading your essays. You have a wonderful way of articulating the things that I feel but am never quite able to put into a compelling argument. Near the end of your essay I feel that you were wandering into magical balance fairy territory, in which both sides either get equal time or equal blame. I feel that the far left, while being quite loony, isn't a pervasive as the far right. Far more people think that "Obummer" is trashing the Constitution and coming for the guns than the people who think 9/11 was an inside job. The far left is not taking over the Democratic Party like the far right has taken over the GOP.
    In spite of that, we are all responsible for the state this country is in. Whether it was pathetic turnout in 2010, the fact that we cannot convince our neighbors to chill out, or the disbelief that Donald Trump is taken seriously, this is our country and we as a whole are responsible for it.

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  49. Jim, thank you. As always, you penned one hell of a great essay--but this one should be on everyone's "must read" list.

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  50. "You may say I'm a dreamer,
    "But I'm not the only one,
    "Maybe some day you'll join us,
    "And the world will live as one...."

    John Lennon, of course.

    That is what was going through my head as I read the beginning of your post. Unfortunately that devolved into some kind of horrific war scene as it continued. (What? That's a complement, that your essay had a score!)

    You always seem to hit the nail straight on without getting your thumb. Good job!

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  51. Thank you for your insight and perspective. I fear for our country but hope that those of us following your essays spread the word and help educate others.

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  52. I really have no idea how you keep sinking those baskets in Miami from clear up there in Palmer, Mr. Wright.
    But thanks; keep tossing them.

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  53. Definitely one of your best essays, Jim. I'll be linking it on all the blogs I visit as I do with many of your posts. I'd add some commentary here but I just end up depressing myself. Greed and fear; can humans overcome these base instincts? I don't really know. History is one tribe fighting tribe with momentary lapses of peace and progress but that peace and progress only seems to work for the dominant group of that tribe.As soon as outsiders threaten the status quo our basest instincts take over again. I have children and grandchildren. I have to believe we can overcome the hate. Try to be a better citizen indeed.

    Rob from Philly

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  54. Spot-on. Thank you Jim. I'll post a link to this essay after the interest in my post about the guy who wrote "NO TRUMP" in giant letters of bullshit (literally) dies down.

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  55. Thank you Jim.

    I cry for my adopted country. I never thought I would say that even after seeing the brutality of desegregation, the Vietnam War, 9/11, the con job that got us into Iraq, etc. I always thought we could eventually come together and be a better nation. Now, I don’t think that is possible.

    If I gathered all of my relatives (except my Canadian cousins), and all of my friends and neighbours together and polled them on who they support for President, I fear that a majority would say Trump. I simply cannot understand how so many people can be deluded into believing that this man is the answer to their prayers.

    I don’t want to, but I’ve almost given up.

    Chuck S in Fl.

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  56. Brilliant. Perfect. Exactly.

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  57. All I know, Jim, is you are seriously threatening to become my favorite writer since Harlan Ellison.

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  58. Stunning. Your thinking and your writing just keep getting better and better.

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  59. Where do I sign up. As I have gotten older I have tried more and more consciously to be a good citizen and to share that concern with those younger than I am. I have no plans to stop. And I thank you for your great help, Sir Jim.

    With that said, this arrived today at about the same time. It came from a dear relative of mine who is a brilliant computer scientist with a husband and grown children who are also computer scientists. There are grandchildren. My point with that introduction is that these are people who are very smart and who are highly motivated to spend their time productively. There was no comment with this. The only thing I am adding is that I recognize many of the names, and this seems to be part of our challenge. I offer it for your possible interest, as it was likely offered to me for my interest. Warning: It looks as though it will take time to get through. The site is complicated. "Vampirialism"
    https://webbrain.com/brainpage/brain/4C820CE5-6A51-D947-8E84-E96868A2B945/#-2

    love to all,
    Larry
    --
    "Honestly, what planet do these people live on? And why isn’t it farther away?"
    Louise Rennison, -- It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers: Further Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (2000)

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  60. Well said Jim. I particularly enjoyed your paragraph long screed on the state of organized religion. Why it continues to hold such a nasty grip on the workings of this country is beyond me. I consider it to be the fuel to the right wing fire of lunacy and hatred.

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    1. Yes. But here's a problem as I see it: When religion and politics are so intertwined, the politicians ("doing God's work") become as inerrant as the religion's dogma (however irrational & loopy). Which is why nothing is sticking to Trump: he can do no wrong.

      The infantile evangelicals that support Trump cannot see reason or his faults because he is now their secular god/daddy/protector and will be followed & loved, no matter what.

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  61. Jim, I am crying. I am not a weeper, not usually, but holy crap, what has happened to us? Where did my America go? Did Watergate start the dying process? Did Reagan polarize us that much? What? 911 did nothing to pull us together; in fact it seems to have pulled us to pieces. Maybe us minions could gofundme a large-ish island and restart the Idea.

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  62. I disagree, Jim. The Pilgrims who landed accidentally in Cape Cod (they meant to land further south) were religious fanatics so extreme they were thrown out of England. Our current Idiocracy is exactly what I would expect from their descendants.

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    1. Yep, The Dutch Republic tolerated them for a while, but - you know, there's an end to the tolerance of intolerants.

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  63. Once again you say what I feel so much better than I ever could. Thank you. I'm sharing this everywhere I can think of to share it.

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  64. Thank you. I'm registering for my state's caucus.

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  66. Excellent essay, Mr. Wright. As powerful as Hunter Thompson's bit, in Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, about being able to see the spot where the wave of 60s idealism crested & fell back. If enough people hold their noses & vote for Hillary, we might dodge this bullet, but all the problems will remain. How has it come to this?

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  67. I do not believe that most republicans even believe there is a god, are against abortion, against gun control etc…. It is all about getting the stupid wackos, that should be voting democrat, to vote for them. Now they have a couple of wackos running and they are bring the wackos out of the wood work to vote for them. One of them may just win. (Trump or Cruz) Wasn't the same mistake made when Hitler was financed by the wealthy, for the purpose of getting rid of the communists? It would serve them right if one of those two win. Cruz is actually the scarier one.

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  68. It is time for a revolution of your political system , compulsory voting is a must because it gets rid of idiots sooner. Do not take so long to elect the leaders they then have less time for the bullshit to stick. We don't have the answers for success but I think we are on a better footing for it to have a chance of happening. The fear card was played here and it has faded away with the removal of it's author.It was tried again only to fail. " To fool all the people all the time " is impossible is why the compulsory voting works. I do like your thinking and hope you are listen too.

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  69. Just came home from Peru -- they're in the midst of a political campaign. In Peru, when you turn 18, your get to drink, drive and vote. Drinking and driving (hopefully not at the same time) are optional; voting isn't. You get a choice, vote for the party and/or candidate of your choice or pay the fine (about $200 US).
    Couldn't hurt to try it here for 50 years or so.
    Point being is that if we progressive/democrat/liberal/sane folk don't get our sorry asses to the polls (and not just this time) and vote for those we want, we'll have to live with what the zealots elect for us.

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    1. Voting is a duty. How about, instead of a fine, if you don't vote, you have to do 2 years mandatory service in the armed forces of your choice, or something similar say humanitarian work in the third world?
      Anonamoose

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  70. I'd pay cash money to see Jim, Henry Rollins and Jesse V sit down to a tete a tete over the state of things.
    Paul

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  71. A: Can we write yu in as President?
    B: Don't count Sanders dead yet, or,
    I wish he'd tap Elizabeth Warren for vp.
    C: I can't agree more, esp. about the misplaced priorities.
    Good Luck in all your Endeavours

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  72. Not your best effort, but I'll share it anyway...

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  73. I've had more time to let the point of this piece sink in, and I take back that BZ.
    Bettering democracy is an constant evolution, not an end point.
    I'll say instead Well started.

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  74. The best description I have heard of Trump's rise is that conservatives are voting with their middle finger. No, he's not Hitler or Mussolini, he's General Sherman. After and seeing their democratic will overriden by "deemed to have passed" Obamacare, unconstitutional executive orders, federal judicial overreach, and being betrayed by their own supposed change agents, they've decided its high time to send someone to Washington for the express purpose of burning it to the ground.

    Of course, when Trump gets there, he will loot the place and install his own ruling class, and they will once again be betrayed, but there is no convincing them of that. Do they really think he's spending millions of his own money so he can altruistically "make America great again"? No, my friends, this is a financial investment with unlimited upside. He's been buying politicians for decades. Now he'll be on the sell side, and the inventory is "yuuge".

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  75. This just in…Trump out! Romney in… via a brokered convention! Romney came very close to winning in 2012. Hell, Rove called it on F’News. I watched! Despite the fact that almost 50% of voters wanted Romney, he didn’t get the 270 electoral votes (not even close) to win his 2012 presidential bid. Yet, with such a weak Republican field in 2016, Trump, with probably 16% of likely voters overall, is not attracting new adherents. He doesn’t have a chance. Stop the hand-wringing, people!

    This is what may give you sleepless nights. Romney looks sane compared to the current candidates. There’s no way this country, at this point in time, will elect Bernie, an avowed socialist, to be president. I’m his biggest fan and on the same page philosophically/politically, yet the time is not right.
    So Hillary! Man, she’s been vetted for 24 years. They, the Repubs, can’t find anything that sticks, and they’ve had a generation to do it (Whitewater, Vince Foster, and the stupid “bone that dogs won’t give up” Benghazi. Also, the trope “I don’t trust her!” This so resonates with my family and “friends”.
    She’s the best we’ve got, but may not be good enough in an election where “dicks rule”. White dicks, it seems!
    We’re not ready for a female president in the reactionary and very patriarchal political universe we inhabit. Sad and stupid at the same time. Yet that’s where we are in 2016. Lots of possibilities in 2008 that didn’t pan out re: our expectations.

    Yet here we are!. Mark my words, and I hope I wrong…happy to be so…when the convention ends in Cleveland (my home town) Romney will be the torch bearer, and probably the next president. I hate thinking, not to mention writing this. I do hope I’m wrong. I’ll celebrate that, big time! Fuck! I never wanted to live long enough to see this happen to my kids and grandkids. I'd had a better world in mind for them. Guess they're on their own now.

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    1. We're not ready for a female president or a "socialist"? Granted, both are quite different from the 'traditional' image of a President (ie - those whose pictures grace our currency, among others).

      But consider that this country elected a Black President not once but twice, with the 2012 election being Romney's to lose which he most certainly did.

      Who thought we would have seen a Black President in our lifetimes? Wasn't that a major change from the "traditional" President?

      Many back then said the same thing that you (and many others) say today about Bernie and Hillary.

      But past performance does not guarantee future profits, or whatever those financial disclosure form things say.

      So consider this as well: on this date, Saturday March 5, Donald Trump is on a path to secure the Republican nomination. True, he is only pulling about 30-ish% of the primary voters but it is still enough to not only keep his campaign alive but has him in first place (subject to tonight's primary results in 5 more states).

      The RNC is in a panic, looking desperately for A Savior now that Jeb! is gone and Marco is tanking. Romney is apparently lurching once again to his 1%-er feet to save the party. Romney, a moderate former Republican Governor who was reviled by his own party in 2012 as not nearly 'conservative enough'. The guy who lost the 2012 election that he should easily have won.

      Today, talk of a brokered Republican Convention is flying around the Interwebs. I do believe the RNC is seriously considering this option, and I believe they are setting the groundwork for a brokered convention in place right now.

      But what about the day after the Republican Convention this July?

      Imagine a Romney nomination coming out of the convention. What then?

      Will the Trumpistas, the 30-something percent who voted for him in the primaries, simply follow the RNC override of their candidate (Trump)and vote for Mitt?

      Mitt the loser (according to Trump)? Mitt, the very anthesis of what The Donald stands for?

      Sounds like a split ticket to me if that happens. Trump, signed pledges to the Republican Party notwithstanding, would certainly run as an Independent or even mount a write-in campaign in those states where he could not run as Independent.

      I believe that would draw off sufficient voters to spoil any chance Mitt might have in this scenario, making him a 2nd time loser and this year by a much larger margin than in 2012.

      Further, it opens the door for electing either the first Female President OR the first self-declared Democratic Socialist President.

      My crystal ball gets fuzzy that far out, heck it gets fuzzy just deciding what kind of sandwich to have for lunch, but I truly believe that a brokered convention that kicks Trump out of the Republican camp will hand this election to the Dems.

      It is all fun and games, predicting the future or playing what-if scenarios.

      The point is that if anybody is voting in the primaries based on what they _think_ might happen in the General then they are playing a fools game.

      Instead, vote for the candidate you BELIEVE in - not the candidate you think might win the WH for the Dems.

      If enough people started voting their hearts instead of voting for a presumed 'safe' outcome, the change Jim writes about would take its first step.

      Yes, I would rather see a Dem in the WH than a Republican (especially any of THIS crop of Repub candidates) - but I vote with my heart dreaming of a better future and try to persuade others to do the same.

      History is full of examples of people who made changes, not by seeking the safer path towards quicker gratification but stepping onto the long, hard path dreaming of a day when change would not only come but be accepted as a new normal.

      It starts with each and every one of us. Dream a better world, a better future, and act on that dream in every way you can.

      ~RF

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  76. Jim, I've been reading you for quite a while now. I cannot add to the superlatives used to describe your postings, let me just say that you speak for many of us out here who know we are not alone and provide a much-needed nexus to connect us.

    My comment on Fear is this: If somehow this country elects a President Trump or President Cruz, could this be a tipping point for the rest of the world to start viewing THIS country as _the_ dangerous threat?

    I'm not talking about the Usual Suspects who already have this view, but rather our 'allies' around the world who are presently watching this country askance and waiting to see which way the winds blow.

    Indeed, several of our European allies are undergoing internal change due to the economic pressures of the EU combined with massive refugee movements. These countries are seriously considering governmental changes that could fundamentally affect the dynamics of who they consider 'friendly'.

    During the "debate" last Thursday, I caught a statement about a "...crazy world leader with nuclear capability..." and, without missing a beat, the images of at least 3 of the 4 candidates on that stage flashed through my mind (the statement was actually in regard to N.Korea)

    During the BILL Clinton administration, I naively thought that the world had somehow turned a corner and we would be able to devote our great resources to the very items Bernie talks about. Education, health care, infrastructure, etc. The Soviet Union had collapsed, the fear of instant nuclear catastrophe that I grew up with (through the 60s) of instant nuclear catastrophe had vanished overnight, and I had great hope for a better future.

    That dream came crashing down with our _response_ to the WTC destruction, _not_ the actual event itself.

    I thought we were better as a country, that we were a nation of responsible grownups, and that we could take a sucker-punch, get up, dust ourselves off, and continue to build a better world.

    Instead, the most powerful nation on the planet unleashed War into remote and impoverished areas of the world, creating chaos beyond belief.

    Instead of using our great wealth to make lives better, we squandered our wealth and young people to destroy and (if possible) make the bad conditions that gave birth to the WTC attack even worse.

    Which brings me back to my original point (I think...) - given our tendency to lash out with Destruction to any provocation, does the path we tread as a nation lead to the rest of the world taking action to make sure that WE are no longer a threat to THEM? I do not seek to diminish the tragedy of 9/11, but our excessive response to it has damaged the entire world far more in ways we can both see and also cannot imagine. The outfall of our actions will continue far beyond our lives and our children's lives.

    Just a rambling thought. I admire your eloquence and appreciate your insight, and I will continue to read your postings with great interest. You strike a chord with me and many others!

    ~RF

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    1. Yes. My British husband said at the time of 9/11, "What American should do in response is -- nothing." He was so right. I'm sure it never occurred to Bush and his handlers. Would it have to Obama? We will never know.

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  77. Im ready to 'feel the Bern' but 40 yrs later, Im still traumatized by what the liberal media did to McGovern.
    Wheres the sanity?
    Elvis inspires, shoot your TV...

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    1. Well said, sir. I'm reminded of Benjamin Franklin who, upon being approached by a group of citizens asking what sort of government the delegates had created at the Constitutional Convention, said "A republic, if you can keep it."

      But given the growing apathy, the cynicism, the often misguided and short-sighted ignorance of large swaths of the electorate, the hyper-partisanship fostered by politicians for sale by lobbyists and multi-billionaires, and the anonymous SuperPACs and the bought-and-paid for elections since Citizens United, I'm beginning to wonder if we really can.

      This may not be Sanders' America but at least he's provided us a blueprint to salvage what's left and perhaps claw our way back from the brink.

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  78. It may not count for much, but my vote will be cast for a Libertarian candidate. I don't expect the world to change overnight, but I can go to bed and sleep peacefully knowing that I have voted my conscience.

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  79. Good reading post. Thank for share with us

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  80. Correction. In the paragraph that starts:
    You know, I once saw a man beat the hell out of a woman.

    3rd sentence: He chased her *out out* of a building...
    Comma between or was only 1 intended?

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  81. I can't believe that we have to wait 7 years for the SLS rockets to come online. I want the flying cars and orbital hotels I was promised in grade school (in the 60's) dammit.

    Fear and scapegoating is a time-proven method of perverting the short attention span of America, just the idea that the HUAC should be reconstituted sends a cold shiver down my spine. I'm not afraid of the snake oil they're peddling, I only truly fear the fearmongers themselves. It's like the barely-cold zombied carcass of Dick Cheney has stumbled back into the room slurring "be 'fraid" while frantically trying to push a long-disconnected threat level orange button.

    They've sold us out before.
    I know they'll sell us out again if we let them.

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  82. Thank you for this! You. Are. Awesome. Need more independent, critical thinking people like you where I live... it's getting scary.

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