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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Latter Days of a Better Nation, Part V

"She had read several nice little histories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked "poison", it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later."
-- Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carrol, 1865

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We’re down the rabbit hole now, aren’t we?

Or perhaps, on second thought, it’s the sequel that is a more apt analogy here.

Through the looking glass into the bizarre incomprehensible cryptic world of the Jabberwock.

 

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Yes, that’s it, the strange back-to-front Looking-Glass Land, a place inhabited by dangerous creatures, where nonsense is spoken as if it was rational conversation and few things make any sense.  Yes, that’s the place where a public fight between a Reality TV star president and a couple of Reality TV journalists belongs. 

We didn’t know.

Oh, woe! Woe! We didn’t know. That guy in the White House, why, he’s not the same guy we knew two years ago.

We didn’t know it would turn out like this!

We didn’t know he’d turn on us when we helped him get elected!

We thought it would be ok! We thought he would straighten out and start acting like a decent human being once he got elected! We didn’t know!

I mean, how could we have known, right? It’s not like anybody warned us. It’s not like there were any alarm bells. It’s not like there was a history of horrible shitty behavior…


Right.


Look here: These people, these Republicans, these Trump apologists, they’re like battered spouses in denial.

All the warning signs were there, the sexist behavior, the tempter tantrums, the bruises and the black eyes, but they thought, you know, once we’re married he’ll come around, he’ll be okay, he’ll stop acting like this.

But Donald Trump is the very same guy today that he was yesterday, that he was two years ago, that he was a decade ago.

Donald Trump is the same horrible person he’s been his entire life.

He’s an obnoxious, ignorant, abusive blowhard enabled by wealth and privilege and if you think for one minute the power of the presidency is going to do anything but exacerbate that, then you are a goddamned fool.

Or a Republican.

But I repeat myself.

Any rational person with an ounce of sense could have seen this coming. And did. Hell, I wrote about it here. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words of warning. And, of course, I wasn’t the only one. Tens of thousands of analysts, writers, politicians, and world leaders warned America. Don’t marry this goddamned guy. Don’t do it.

And yet, here we are, six months later and Republicans like Scarborough are all black-eyed and regretfully sobbing, we didn’t know!

We didn’t know!

Someday, this story, the one where Americans elected Donald J. Trump to the Presidency despite myriad and obvious warning signs, will join Frankenstein and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as a classic cautionary tale.  Parents will use it to frighten their children into behaving and teachers will use it to show the folly of willful ignorance and whatever passes for Hollywood in that distant future will play this idiotic social media fight between a sitting president and a couple of pretend journalists for laughs in an otherwise dreary and depressing tale.

If it was just some spat between TV personalities, it would be bad enough, but it’s not.

If it was just a one time thing, a momentary lapse, it would be bad enough. But it’s not.

It’s not.

It’s every damned day. Every. Day.

Worse, it’s the entire Republican Party in denial.

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I hope these tweets cease and we can focus on moving our country forward and what the fuck, Senator?

Sullivan’s ineffectual response is typical of the entire GOP. Sullivan’s belief in magic unicorns is one of the primary reasons his home state of Alaska is in financial collapse and utter disarray. These sons of bitches just can’t seem to face reality.

We didn’t know.

We hoped he would act more presidential.

I mean, we knew Trump was an ignorant self-aggrandizing jackass with no experience in government at all, right. We knew that. We knew he was a liar, a misogynist, a con artist, an abuser, and a bully. We knew he was prone to uncontrolled rage and that there was no filter between his ego and his thumbs. We knew that. We knew all of that. Of course we did. Sure. That part was obvious. But see, we hoped – we hoped – Trump would somehow just magically become a dignified adult, suddenly imbued with reason and self-control and filled with knowledge and wisdom of how to actually run a government.

That is what they told us. That is literally what they told us. He’s just doing this to get elected. Once he’s president, you’ll see. He’ll straighten out, he’ll become…

…a unicorn.

Now, admittedly, we’re not really sure how any of that would happen, but we hoped it would.

We hoped it would.

Magical thinking.

And the worst part? The goddamned worst part is that Republicans just like Dan Sullivan are still in denial. Because after six goddamned months of this insanity, he still thinks, hopes, Trump will become the unicorn. Sure. It could happen, sure it could. Yeah! It’ll be ok. You’ll see. He’s just under a lot of stress. It’s all fine. This is fine. It’s fine. I deserved it.

Dan Sullivan. This guy was a Marine, and a damned good one. He is not in any way stupid. He’s a staunch party line conservative and his political views are not mine, but he’s not a lunatic. And yet there he is, engaged in magical thinking. Hoping for unicorns. That’s what Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan has. Hope. That’s all he has. He’s a United States Senator, a Marine, and the worst condemnation he can muster is, gee, fellers, I hope we can all get past this and be friends.

It’s the Republican version of hiding his bruises under makeup and rationalizing away the abuse by telling himself that he deserved it.

What kind of candy-ass Marine acts like this?

What kind of Marine would follow a leader like Trump into battle? What kind of Marine, what kind of Marine, would send other Marines into battle under a leader like Trump?  What the hell? Did he take off his balls with his goddamned uniform?

They’re all like this.

All of them.

John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Joni Ernst, Tom Cotton, Jeff Sessions, Mitch McConnell, Jim Inhofe, Don Young, Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter, Peter King, congress is chock-a-block with Republican veterans who damned well ought to know better. Who ought have the guts to put aside their partisan bullshit and side with their Democrat counterparts against this lunatic for the sake of the nation.

But just like Dan Sullivan, they keep enabling this abuse. Looking for unicorns.


On the other side of the spectrum, there’s the Left.


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Al Gore, I didn’t know.

I thought he’d be OK. 

See, what you have to understand here is, well, unicorns!

Just ignore him, they tell me.

That’s advice I get from the Left every day via Twitter and Facebook and my social media feeds. Jeebers, Jim, why do you keep talking about Trump? Whenever I write about one of Trump’s bizarre statements, that’s what the Left tells me, just ignore him. Don’t quote him, don’t write about him, don’t give him any attention because that’s what he wants. Just ignore him.

Just ignore him.

Just ignore the most powerful man in the world.

Just ignore the guy sitting on a nuclear arsenal large enough to kill every living thing on the planet and render the earth uninhabitable forever.

Just ignore the guy at the head of the largest, most powerful coalition of economic, political, and military power in not only the world, but in the entire history of the human race.

Just ignore the guy who controls nearly all aspects of the world that I’ll be leaving to my son and his new wife. My grandkids. The future. Sure, let’s just ignore that guy.

Trump has direct influence over all aspects of our society, economic, social, education, military, infrastructure, law and order, technology, the environment, labor, business, commerce, poverty, healthcare, growth, war, trade, our basic rights and freedoms, and you want me to just ignore him? 

Just … ignore him?

Because, what? Maybe he’ll go away? Maybe he’ll, I dunno, go away to wherever unicorns go.

The absolutely worst, most useless, advice I ever got as a kid was being told to just ignore the bullies. Ignore them, right? Because that’s what they want, attention. And if you ignore them, they’ll just go away. Puff. Magic.

You know what? That’s wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. No bully has ever just gone away because their victims ignore them.

When the abuser has all the power, you can’t ignore them – especially when they’re smashing your face in.

Ignoring fascism is how you get more fascism.

Ignoring hate is how you get more hate.

Ignoring abuse is how you get abused.

It is time to stop this magical thinking on both sides of the political divide and face reality.

Trump isn’t going to get better.

Trump isn’t going to go away.

Trump isn’t going to just one day wake up and decide to act like a president.

He’s not suddenly going to start acting like a rational adult.

He’s not going to be magically imbued with 70 years of education and knowledge and experience in how to run government.

Your indifferent god isn’t going to reach down and fill Trump’s fluffy head with wisdom and compassion and selflessness.  This isn’t a made for TV movie, Trump isn’t going to have some life-changing moment and realize what an ass he’s been and then devote the rest of his life to making the world a better place. That’s not going to happen.

There are no such things as unicorns.


Trump builds casinos, not nations.


Rational people learn from their mistakes.

Mistakes, no matter how terrible, don’t have to define us so long as we don’t keep making the same mistakes over and over.

The problem is that we, as a nation, keep making the same mistakes over and over.

As the so-called Sage of Baltimore, American satirist and pundit Henry Louis Mencken, once said, “democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

America tends to get the government it deserves, and this time we are indeed getting it good and hard.

But what a lot of people are missing is this: Trump is a symptom, not the disease.


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Trump is the manifestation of all the worst aspects of modern America writ large, loud, florid, and proudly ignorant. A mindset that is shamelessly hypocritical, self-important and self-involved, wrapped in a flag waving a cross and obsessed with money at the expense of everything else, downing handfuls of Viagra not because we need it but rather for instant self gratification without effort, and a sneering dismissal of any debate that can’t be compressed into a Tweet as “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”

I’m not the first to note that Trump is what stupid people think a smart person sounds like and it doesn’t take much digging around on social media to find those who despite all evidence to the contrary still dogmatically believe in they’re going to get a unicorn – including members of Congress like Dan Sullivan.

Somewhere in the last half a century, we Americans traded Apollo moon ships for the Creation Museum and the ugly truth of the matter is that Donald Trump is a reflection of who we’ve become as a nation.

Trump is the utterly predictable result of decades of an increasingly dumber and dumber electorate. A deliberately dumber electorate, Idiocracy in action, a society that dismisses intelligence and education and experience as “elitism” while howling in drunken mirth at Honey Boo Boo and lighting their farts on fire.

Creationists don’t build starships.


They don’t build much of anything else, either.


Trump isn’t playing 4D chess.

He doesn’t have a plan.

There is no unicorn.

This was evident right from the very beginning.

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Or at least it should have been, to anybody who wasn’t a complete idiot.

There has never been any depth to anything Trump has ever said. Not once. His responses to every question – every single question – are nothing but rambling non sequiturs. Trump is not capable of critical thought at any level.  He has neither the education or experience to be president. He lacks the ability to focus for any length of time; he has the attention span of a cocker spaniel and his mind is as jumbled and chaotic as some clanging banging madcap Saturday morning cartoon.

His supporters point to his supposed wealth as evidence of leadership, of vision, of intellect. And that’s nonsense. Trump is, at best, a mediocre businessman. He was born rich and given breaks most people don’t get, those things provide a safety net for mistakes and failures that ruin others less advantaged. Those things gave Trump the ability to take risks others can’t. It wasn’t his smarts or his supposed deal making or some magical unicorn dust, it was privilege. He didn’t create his empire from nothing, he built it on a foundation of wealth and advantage and other people’s money.

Trump’s privilege and wealth are luck of birth, not evidence of superiority.

Trump’s mythical ability to make a deal is exactly that, a myth. Bullshit. Smoke and mirrors. Something he uses to con the rubes. Trump can’t make a deal unless he has everything stacked in his favor and he calls all the shots and nobody else gets to say anything. And while that nonsense might work for you when you’re building a casino in Jersey (or not), it sure as shit doesn’t work out in the real world between nations and any fool could have told you that. And did. Repeatedly.

Bluster and bombast and billions are no substitute for intellect, education, experience, quiet courage, and steady confidence under fire.

Trump skitters from one thing to another like a ADHD squirrel on amphetamines. This week he fired yet another Communications Director, last week it was the horrors of Obamacare and an amateurish attempt to shame China into doing his bidding via Twitter, the day before he was banning transgender people from the military. He can’t stay on topic, not even for a 15 minute speech in front of a bunch of Boy Scouts. And this is indicative of a much, much deeper problem.

Trump has no vision.

Trump has no strategic vision.

His administration has no vision.

His party has no coherent vision.

Trump is what stupid people think a smart guy sounds like.

But these people, this administration, they have no idea what they want to do, let alone what they are doing from one minute to the next. That’s why they can never explain anything, because they don’t really know.

Take the Affordable Healthcare Act, Obamacare. Trump goes on and on and on about Obamacare. Republicans go on and on about Obamacare. It’s terrible. It’s failing. Their plan is great.

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Except they never tell you why.

They never give you any of the details.

In the last month, no Republican including Trump, has given you any insight whatsoever as to the details of their supposed plan. Trump can’t, because he’s completely non-conversant with it. He honestly has no idea. He literally can no more describe in even the simplest of terms the Republican plan for healthcare than he can diagram the basic steam-loop of USS Gerald R. Ford’s nuclear reactor.

Trump has never, ever, described in even the most basic of outlines what “Make America Great Again” means.

Because he doesn’t know.

It’s just words. Just vague promises. Hand waving. A way to sell hats. Some nebulous idea that sounds vaguely good. Trump lives in the moment. His attention is whatever happens to be scrolling past on the Fox News Red Alert ticker at that particular point in time.  The Trump Administration’s strategic vision is the political equivalent of the soundbites and howling lunacy and clanging-banging cartoon logic streaming past in my Twitter feed.

It’s not just that that he doesn’t know enough about his own agenda to describe it in even vague terms, it’s that he’s not even interested in trying. He contradicts himself over and over because he doesn’t remember what he said from one minute to the next. Trump repeatedly shows that he has no concept of how government works, let alone how it might manage the incomprehensively vast, hideously complex, intertwined, interdependent, chaotically evolving systems of military, procurement, investment, economic, industrial, commercial, social, environmental, security, emergency, educational, agricultural, energy, health, legal, crime, law, legislative, research, planning, essential services, international relations, and historical areas of concern for 320,000,000 people in a dynamic ever changing relationship to the rest of the world.

And he’s surrounded himself with fops and toadies and opportunists who have even less vision than he does.

Worse, he’s cheered by drooling idiots who aren’t even smart enough to realize Trump has never explained anything in depth ever, because they have no critical-thinking skills either.  They cheer when Trump pushes their button, just like Pavlov’s dog.

And this is a reflection of the Republican Party itself.

It’s no wonder they hate government, because they have completely forgotten government’s purpose.

Because they have no vision.

Because they live in the moment with no regard to the future. And this is reflected in every single aspect of their political outlook, from education to the environment to healthcare to their horrible apocalyptic religion that says when they’ve used up the earth, their savior will return to spirit them all away leaving the rest of us behind to suffer in torment in the hell they created for all eternity. And they’re fine with that

They’re fine with that.

Think about that mentality.

Think about a belief system that says, “Hey, so long as I’m saved, to hell with everybody else” and you’ll understand their viewpoint on, oh, say healthcare. They don’t care about the future. They don’t care about pollution or climate change or healthcare because in their minds they’re saved and the rest of us are damned to some Bronze Age hell anyway. That is literally their belief system, they’re saved, they get to go to some magical paradise and frolic with the unicorns while the rest of us burn forever in torment. And they’re fine with that. In fact, they think it’s just great.

Now, people who believe that, who believe in that idea, who embrace that religion, well, they sure as hell don’t care if you can’t afford healthcare.

What’s healthcare against an eternity of torture in their god’s dungeon?

Trump is the perfectly predictable end result of this mindset. I’m rich, fuck you.

And Mike Pence is its poster child.

But these are symptoms, not the disease

Now, while it’s true that left untreated, symptoms can kill you just as dead as the actual infection, you have to treat the underlying cause if you ever expect to get any better.

Trump is the result of a nation, of a democracy, where only about 60% of the eligible electorate shows up to vote – in a good year.

Trump is the result of a population that not only tolerates a congress that daily treats them as the enemy, but utterly refuses to hold that congress to account at the ballot box.

Trump is the result of a democracy that daily prides itself on how their ancestors declared independence from a foreign king while at the same time mindlessly reelecting, gerrymandering, or otherwise gaming the system to such a degree that their government might as well be made up of inbred weak-chinned hereditary aristocracy.

Trump is the result of voters who can’t be troubled to learn a goddamned thing about their country, their history, their neighbors, or their world beyond what will fit in a Tweet. Trump is the Too Long: Didn’t Read president.

Trump is the result of a nation that glories in ignorance, manipulated by conspiracy theory and a primal fear of the dark, that embraces monkey violence and cowers from the unknown future with bluster and bared teeth and a gun clenched in one fist, instead of looking forward with quiet courage, head up, feet wide, braced and ready with curiosity and confident they are prepared to handle anything that might come along.

Trump is the result of a nation that traded the moon for the Creation Museum.

Trump is the result of a nation that has lost its vision and has nothing left but howling rage.


But it doesn’t have to be this way.


Countries that arrive here, where we are now, tend to end badly.

They tend to fall into totalitarianism, into war, into chaos and fragmentation. 

Don’t take my word for it. Refer to history. When a society embraces rage instead of reason and prepares for apocalypse instead of actively working to build a better future for all, it tends to fall apart into howling collapse in fairly short order.

Creationists don’t build starships.

They don’t build much of anything else worthwhile either and it’s time to stop chasing after unicorns.

I’m not just talking about Trump. As noted, Trump is the symptom, not the disease. It doesn’t matter if you’re a liberal or a conservative. It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of one party or the other. What matters is holding civilization together against the fall of night. What matters is building a better future for all of us, for our descendants, for the world.

What matters is being a citizen of the United States first.

You, you Americans, you don’t get to say, “We didn’t know.”

Don’t let that nonsense go past unchallenged. Don’t fall for it. Don’t enable it. Don’t let Americans get away with that excuse. Don’t let your government get away with that excuse, your Senators, your Representatives, your governors, your political party.

We didn’t know. Bullshit. Yes, you did. You knew. We all knew.

But some of you didn’t care, you were too busy lighting your farts on fire and pretending it would all be okay. It’s not. And it hasn’t been okay for a long time.

We didn’t know, that’s just a way to avoid taking responsibility. They knew. Yes, they did. We all knew. But these sons of bitches, they ignored it. They made excuses for it. They chased after unicorns and they’re still doing it.

Don’t let them.

Don’t do it yourself.

Left, right, we’re all going to go down together unless we turn things around.

If you didn’t know, if you really didn’t know, if you couldn’t see it, if you made excuses and you told yourself it would be okay even though you very well knew it wouldn’t, then you are too goddamned stupid, ignorant, and careless to be a citizen of this country.

It’s your duty as an American, as a citizen, as a voter, as a human being, to know.

You don’t get to make excuses. You don’t get to blame anybody, not the media or political parties or the rich or some horrible god or the fucking Russians or even Trump himself.

It’s on you.

You’re the citizen.

And if you want a better nation, if you want a better future, then you have to be better citizens.

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
-- Winston Churchill (possibly apocryphal)



The Latter Days of a better Nation, Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

190 comments:

  1. Up here in Canada, we had a manipulative Prime Minister who gamed the system to get stuff done for years. The last election, he tried the US style Muslim terrorist message and even Conservatives voted against him. Thankfully we hadn't gone down the path of losing any common sense.

    Great Post and Thank You for saying what needs to be said.

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    1. I wish I could make the people I care about understand this. Thanks, Jim, you are brilliant

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    2. I follow Canadian politics because I'm one of those Americans who wishes we could have sunny ways and nice things like "Justin from Canada." Your Harpercons still haven't learned their lesson though -- they're still thumping that U.S. drum and, like the GOP, it will be their ruination, and all the better for Canada when they do finally crash and burn along with our Republicans. The party of Diefenbaker is as distant a memory for Canada as the party of Eisenhower is for us.

      Treasure your youthful, idealistic PM for as long as you can, and don't let him slip away due to voter apathy or perfectionists being the enemy of the good. Obi-Wan Trudeaubi is a new hope against the dark side striking back.

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  2. "What matters is holding civilization together against the fall of night."

    This is an incredibly powerful statement. You spoke to the deepest part of me when you talked about the civilization builders vs the civilization destroyers in "Winning Civilization", and you've hit me there again.

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  3. It's sad how many songs from the 60s can be reused unchanged today.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DULNTNQ5-G0

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    1. From the 70s:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhj17yq9khk

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  4. I've said this before, but this time I really, really mean it. This is your best essay ever & should be required reading by every single person who voted for djt.

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    1. best commentary ever-- he is absolutely in the zone!

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    2. So many of them would find it Too Long. The sound bite has destroyed looking for information.

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    3. Except they are so closed minded that it won't register. I had a friend unfriend me on FB the day after the election. I said that Trump scared me and she asked me why. After I explained my reasons, basically saying I didn't think he knew what he was doing and wasn't qualified to be president, she both unfriended and blocked. me.

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    4. The trumpets would say too long I won't read it. Then go back to claiming god gave him the win.

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  5. Jim, wow! What a choice evisceration! I just cited it from my own blog http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/08/learn-true-meaning-of-political-f-word.html
    wherein I dissect Steve Bannon's reading list in the
    context of the true definition of fascism.
    These guys are just prepping for their own Night of the Long Knives.

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  6. We all thought that Trump was the only Republican Hillary could beat.
    As it turned out Hillary was the only Deep State candidate Trump could defeat, (once she took the nomination from the sheepdog)...

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    1. "Deep State," eh? I think if you expound on your comment a little more, you may be shown to the air-lock by Jim.

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    2. canth Decided-BaldwinAugust 2, 2017 at 12:45 AM

      Oh no. Here we go again with the 'Deep State' theology.

      I can hear the klaxons going off as the cabin pressure fluxes. Soon opens the airlock.

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    3. I let these conspiracy theory comments publish because we all need to understand the kind of insanity we're dealing with on both sides of the political divide.

      This Deep State nonsense is just another way to avoid taking responsibility for being shitty citizens.

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    4. I think it also points back to what Jim tried to get across: If you think everything is covered by slogans, you will reign (and be reigned) by slogans.

      A story I cannot confirm has it that Barack Obama, when he got briefed about the issues phasing the US, between November 2008 and January 2009, he told - jokingly - "it's good that this place has barred windows, otherwise I would have jumped from one of them".

      Governing is hard - and the plight of the Commander-in-Chief is harder still.

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    5. Agreed. I can get my conspiracy theories from a plethora of ludicrous sites. From here, I expect the measured reasoning of grownups.

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  7. "Trump is the Too Long: Didn’t Read president." Perfect. It should be on his tombstone. Now I feel the need to have a drink and re-read 'Starship Troopers.'

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    1. The Foundation trilogy by Issac Asimov comes to mind as well.

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    2. And, of course, Poul Anderson's Dominic Flandry books.

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    3. The TL:DR president, to make the point.

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  8. I want to be a better citizen! I also want a better political class, or do we need to be the better political class as well ? I think we probably do need to be both better citizens and a part of the better political class. Bravo! Jim you add a much needed perspective and add clarity to the murky swamp !!

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  9. I disagree on one minor point. Trump isn't what stupid people think a smart person sounds like, he is what stupid people wish a smart person sounded like. This is strictly anecdotal, but my observation is that the truly stupid recoil when confronted with actual intelligence or expertise. The experience of interacting with someone that demonstrates the gaps in their understanding is so corrosive to the ego they can't help but turn away. Trump is comprehensible to them, and wears the mantle of success. These features make him a draw to the fools.

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    1. I think you have a very good point here.

      Can you condense it down to a Tweet?

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    2. Excellent point. I think that is also what drew voters to George W. Bush. You know, the "candidate you'd like to have a beer with."

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    3. I had to work with a supervisor like that for 21 years, still don't know how I kept my sanity. He was so stupid, he didn't know how stupid he was.

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    4. The old political saying is that Newt Gingrich is what a stupid person thinks a smart person sounds like. Pseudo-intellectual bloviating. Twitler is what a stupid person thinks a rich person acts like. Arrogant, bullying, my-way-or-the-highway. It's how the stupid person WOULD act if they had money and power. (Only most of them don't get that because if you're arrogant and stupid, you're not gonna get rich.)

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    5. That is it EXACTLY. Excellent observation.

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    6. We live in a society that rejects expertise as elitism. A society that believes a quick Google search is the equivalent of advanced education because feelings/beliefs are the same or superior to facts. Willful ignorance is celebrated as a virtue.

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  10. Yep. It's easy for these magically thinking folks to ignore the evidence of their eyes and ears and just rely on how they believe things work, because their religion has taught them to do that. If it wasn't, they would have been able to see that trickle-down economic theory simply doesn't work decades ago.
    I, like you, am scared shitless for the world my children and grandchild are going to inherit if things don't change pretty dang soon.

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  11. I agree, but I don't know what to do. I vote in all the elections, maybe missed half a dozen in the last 40+ years. I know history, and somehow when I was a youngster (meaning under 18), learned what propaganda is (and I see it, lots of it). I actively seek to learn from people who are POC and female in addition to the usual SWM. I try to share this stuff. I'm a Christian who believes we were given brains and reason to use. And no, this doesn't get me cookies or brownie points, but it sure doesn't feel like it's made a difference. I'm afraid, like I was in the late 60's with assassinations, or when I was a little girl during the Cuban Missile crisis.

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    1. Voting, by itself, is good - but too often, it's the ONLY civic action most citizens take. And that's not the way the US was intended to work. If you don't like any of the candidates you get to choose from come Election Day - well, what did you do to get someone you DO want onto the ballot?

      (The "you" is rhetorical, not personal.)

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    2. Have you called your Congressional Representative and demanded that they begin impeachment proceedings? If you don't have their phone number, call the Congressional Switchboard: 202-224-3121

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    3. I know how you feel. I'm afraid too but I refuse to let fear stop me from doing the right thing. I've gotten involved in government at my local and state level. I'm writing, calling and attending meetings with my representatives.
      I began by assessing what I'm good at (organizing) and started there. You can do the same! Though I'm now still afraid, it's empowering to be involved.

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    4. I'm a little worried about you, Chief. That was an intense sustained assault against an implacable foe. Hope you're keeping up with the biking and medicinal spirits.
      Spot on, again-still.

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  12. This is exactly our reality right now and you have once again so elegantly laid it out, how we got here and how we can get out. Thank you.

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  13. Bravo!We did know. Some of us tried our level best to try to make sure that the idiot didn't end up president, but unfortunately too many people in the dem party were still obsessed over Bernie and too butt hurt to make a mature decision. I started out for Bernie, but when Hillary won the nomination-no matter how disappointed I was, I supported her as the only barrier between us and the evil overlord. Those of us that are not rabid floor-licking ideologues need to get our collective shit together and make sure this goes away as quickly as possible, with as little damage as possible. Not an easy fight to be sure, but then again, if we don't do this for our future generations, we're looking at the possibility of not having the luxury to worry about our progeny. If these morons are allowed to plunge the US into indentured servitude and extreme poverty, then next thing that will happen is a war. And not the kind where we all wave the flag and sing patriotic songs.

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    1. I am still waiting for Jane to find tax returns. In the meantime, Democratic party is allowing Bernie in like a cancer.

      Delete
    2. Exactly. The Bernie or Bust lot, and the ones who voted third party because they 'couldn't' vote for Clinton were just as guilty of magical thinking as anyone on the right. And they largely still refuse to understand they are every bit as responsible for who is in the White House now.

      Delete
    3. The paired New York Daily News interviews with Bernie and Hillary did it for me.

      I understand the tabloid wanted to have *some* written evidence why they endorsed one over the other in the Democratic Primaries, but it definitely sealed the deal for me.

      Delete
    4. Your ire is misdirected. The "Bernie Bros cost Hillary the election" narrative is denial of the data. By and large, Bernie supporters showed up and pulled the lever for Hillary in numbers consistent with past elections. The demographics where Hillary did not meet expectations was with minority and blue collar voters, which would have assured her a victory.

      Failure to acknowledge this as a party does not bode well for 2018.

      Delete
    5. Oh the many times I endured reading "You Hillary shills are just trying to scare us into voting for a lesser evil!", Or some variation thereof. Many who lived in solid blue states saw no harm in slagging her to the very end. I still contend their refusal to drop it not only reached across state lines to harm the presidential race, but also tarred the entire party costing congressional seats and state houses as well.

      Delete
    6. "The demographics where Hillary did not meet expectations was with minority and blue collar voters, which would have assured her a victory."

      Actually, the demographic Hilary Clinton did most poorly with is MILLENNIALS. The majority of them either didn't vote for voted third party. I wonder why? /S

      Delete
    7. Tom Galvin, you are the one in denial of the data. It's irrelevant that "By and large, Bernie supporters showed up and pulled the lever", because the number who voted third party were enough to give the EC to Trump.


      "for Hillary in numbers consistent with past elections"

      That makes no sense. Bernie supporters didn't exist in past elections.

      "The demographics where Hillary did not meet expectations was with minority and blue collar voters, which would have assured her a victory"

      Minority? It would seem that you're simply making it up as you go.

      "Failure to acknowledge this as a party does not bode well for 2018."

      No one is posting her "as a party".

      Delete
  14. I love your writing and agree with everything you said. I'm so sick of everyone acting like this is going to get better somehow, without something drastic to just get this guy outta here. Although Pence scares me too but he isn't insane so maybe there's less chance of a nuclear war brought on by a tweet.

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  15. Damn straight. Well said. "Creationists don't build starships." If we WANT f**king starships - AND I DO - we need to be better. Smarter. We have to cast aside superstition and fear. Just believing is not enough. It's *never* enough. We have to KNOW.

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  16. Ye gods and little fishes, but you nailed this one! (Not that I've read any you haven't). Thanks, (I think), for enumerating every item that either enrages me or scares me to death. To all who protest, write their representatives and speak their truth. Say it loud and often. Thank you, Jim.

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  17. Michael H. AtkinsonAugust 1, 2017 at 3:38 PM

    We have been told and believe, for far, far too long, that the United States of America is exceptional. This has been interpreted by many to mean that we have nothing else to learn and that we need not listen to countries who have tread these paths before us and learned from their experience.
    We would do well to remember that we are a great country among many great nations who become greater when we listen with fresh ears and see with new eyes the complex, dynamic world that ties us all together. When we respond to what we see and hear instead of relying on our expectations, our world improves for everyone.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with this, Michael. I think it goes all the way back to Manifest Destiny, which I believe led to the idea of American Exceptionalism. So there is the inherent belief that there is nothing to learn from other countries, that it can be done better by America no matter what. It's a really dangerous path to be on, and I think we're all suffering the results of it now.

      Delete
  18. I struggle with how to change America back to moving forward. I am donating to candidates across America. I no longer try to educate the willfully ignorant. I feel deep anger at extreme right and extreme left. Reading your blogs helps me realize that I am not being "elitist". I grew up reading books. I am reading "Red Notice" by Browder. I was never afraid of the world until Trump became president. We have an embicil for POTUS.

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  19. Well done,Sir! Damning and inspiring, nailhead properly hit. At this moment we should be passing the hat around the room, and it would surely come back stuffed full. I will take a moment to stuff the virtual hat (aka the donate button) and hope others do, too. Because we need you. And you probably wouldn't make iit as a Walmart greeter, lol.

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  20. Having served the majority of my 20 years in the military in law enforcement (now retired), naturally, many of my acquaintances are/were also in that field. The military does tend conservative, yes, but the sheer number of my former peers who should fricking KNOW better when they see this guy (Trump) for who and what he is and don't, or worse yet, ignore it is staggering.

    One thing that the military can (and does) very will is teach critical thinking, but among many of my peers that has gone straight out the window in favor of sheer partisan tribalism.

    Some of the smarted people I know have fallen for Trump's obvious bullshit. I push back, and often, but the task can be daunting, akin to Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill in Hades, or perhaps the labors of Hercules.

    For myself, I will continue to call out bullshit when I see it, consequences be damned.

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  21. This is excellent. Superbly written. Astute observations.
    Thank you very much.

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  22. Shirley StonehouseAugust 1, 2017 at 3:52 PM

    Thank you Jim. Once again, you've hit the nail on the head!! Keep doing that for your fellow Americans.

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  23. Don't be talking down my Cocker. A damn good bird dog.

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  24. Thank you for this. You. Rebecca Stolnit. Amy Siskind. Max Boot. Alexandra Petri.

    I consider your voices essential to resisting in peace and with purpose.

    Unicorn, a new flavor profile for Brawndo - the Thirst Mutilator. Unicorn is our newest member of the Brawndo family; a subtle approach with a powerful kick finish; earthy notes of Valhalla's embers balanced against the tears of a phoenix. Supplies are limited! Don't delay.

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  25. Also, speaking of Marines. I'm tempted to move to Kentucky.

    https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/1/16075938/woman-marine-veteran-kentucky-democratic-congressional-candidate

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  26. A brute who's only goal is to immortalize himself by the stroke of a pen, not caring what the document says is, in the end, welcoming the rubble. After all, he and his have enough to make it after the disaster is over. The cost stands greater for those that can least afford it. Legislators. They signed up for their tour. Gleefully accepted their weapons. Maybe we will be lucky to see them at the next job fair.

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  27. I* don't know if you'll take this as a compliment or not, Jim, but I mean it as one.

    This made me think of Daniel Quinn's writing.

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  28. I think Eric Cantor's recent admission that folks in his party knew all along that what they were pushing was utter nonsense is a good example of the mentality you identify here, a philosophy my Dad used to summarize as, "Hooray for me, and the hell with everyone else" and it is grounded in a smug, self-centered brand of Christianity that runs deep this country. Of course, my Dad was a union carpenter who worked across the States and throughout Canada, so that was an educational experience too many people lack, stuck in their self-reinforcing, narcissistic, thoughtless lives. Trump daily demonstrates he is a reflection of the anti-intellectualism and avarice that characterize our savagely capitalistic society, and I have to hope (and continue working to ensure) that it is not who we have become as a nation, else we are deservedly doomed. ---
    georgeperreault.com

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  29. I wish some of the idiots waiting for a unicorn would (could?) read this. Another excellent post. Thank you.

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  30. Cocker Spaniels are wonderful dogs. They do not deserve the insult.

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  31. I have a friend who is constantly pointing at what Trump has said or done and cheering. "Yea Trump! Go Trump!" I don't think that calling him a drooling idiot with no critical thinking skills will be helpful.

    Failures don't matter to him, world opinion either. Chaos in the White House doesn't bother him, and he's convinced the Russia scandal is made up, and Obama and Hillary belong in jail.

    I'm afraid of the scale of the disaster that would change his mind.

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    Replies
    1. Even the apocalypse will not change this type of mind -- this friend will only seek to show how it is all the fault of Obama, "liberal snowflakes" and "fake news". One possible tactic would be to identify something Trump has done or incited that has harmed or threatened your friend's own family, or someone your friend loves who's been betrayed or damaged by Trump's broken promises and lies, and very, VERY gently pointing it out -- "I know you're pleased that so many of the Obama policies you hated are being overturned, but it sure will be a shame if your nephew can't continue his stellar career in the Marine Corps. Oh, you didn't know he was trans?"

      Delete
  32. Good to read, reassures me about my own sanity etc. but this is still preaching to the choir - how on earth are we going to 'turn' others? There's none so blind as those who will not see and all that - all positions are apparently intractable precisely because of this belief you see so clearly, in magic or unicorns or simply selfishness being some sort of virtue... I don't mean this as a criticism - I mean can we come up with a plan short of letting 'them' burn it all down and seeing how they like it?

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  33. There are intelligent people in my life, friends and family, who voted for Trump, and their mental gymnastics are a sight to see.
    "He needs to stop with the tweeting" they say, "He's President now, it's not appropriate". I think the tweeting irritates them so much because it's a window directly into what passes for a mind of his, and they don't like what they see.
    They say "Mad Dog has had a talk with him, McMasters has had a talk with him, Kelly has had a talk with him, he'll change now, you'll see"
    At this point I'm having a hard time forgiving them, to be honest. I can understand why stupid people voted for him. But how could intelligent people allow themselves to be so blinded by ideology, tribalism, racial resentment, hatred of the Clinton's, and all the other ingredients that went into that noxious brew?

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    1. Just this morning Trump was tweeting that he won't give up the Twitter because it's only his enemies and Fake News that want him to stop. That is wrong - the pundits, and writers and comedians and all others have no interest in him stopping - he's putting nails in his own coffin, writing their material for them and generally proving every negative point ever made against him. It's his SUPPORTERS who want him to stop - are begging him to stop - are hoping Kelly will make him stop.

      Delete
  34. So well written, as always. Jim, you've provided a rationale for the conservative Christian position on Trump: Who gives a good goddamn about the environment, healthcare, the poor when the apocalypse is nigh, and a President who speaks my language is actively and eagerly promoting it. Whether his tweets and actions are intentional or otherwise is a matter of indifference.

    We indeed have traded the moon for a creationist museum. At times, howling in despair seems the only rational act remaining.

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  35. Yet another piece that is thought provoking and will do more to interrupt my sleep than I care to admit. "Creationists don't build starships ". Dammit, we need those starships. We need to move forward not backward! We need to be elitist!

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  36. Liz deVillafrancaAugust 1, 2017 at 4:53 PM

    Well said - as usual. One small typo - "We hoped he act more presidential." Missing a 'would'. I wish every Trump voter had the intellectual capacity to read this and understand it - but sadly, they don't.

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    Replies
    1. Fixed. Thanks for the assist // Jim

      Delete
    2. Jim --- Excellent read. So many gems! I so want to add some commas, semi-colons, and hyphens, but will just point out these typos/misspellings. I apologize. It is an affliction. :)

      One of the first paragraphs, "Oh, woe! Woe! We didn’t know. That guy in the White House, why, he’s not the same guy we knew two years ago."

      Here, if you mean, "woe," as in, "Woe is me," then ok. But I think you mean, "Oh, whoa! Whoa." As in, "slow down. Stop!"

      In a paragraph following, you mean "temper," not "tempter." ► "All the warning signs were there, the sexist behavior, the tempter tantrums."

      There is one small word, you left in an edit, which you probably did not mean to leave, and I can't find it right now, but will re-read this later and report back, if I find it.

      I'm sharing to my FB page. Sorry to post as "anonymous." Don't have time to create a profile.

      Delete
  37. Another good read Jim. Thank you. Some quick thoughts. Not everyone who is still loyal to trump is stupid, which is even scarier; as you said, many people "should" know better. But when distinguished career military officers cheer him on, I can't help but feel that our country is doomed.

    I also kept thinking about your essay about the election map -- the big red middle -- that you said that the left and democrats needed to speak to and convince that we aren't a threat, and acknowledge their fears. And you just called them stupid. I thought you were spot on, but the people who need to read your essays are the people who won't, and if they started to, they may have been turned off and never finished.

    All of the best essays on our present state that I've read in the last seven month have left me feeling hopeless and defeated. Lying, cheating, laziness, and destruction are easier than building, innovating, and following the rules, and I don't know how to compete.

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  38. There is no way any adult person with a wisp of insight and intelligence has an excuse for being surprised by who Trump is.
    From well before 2016, when this man opened his mouth he was revealed to be just what he is. And what he is, is something we have all seen in our lives. A kind of person and personality that is a recognizable type .

    The shallow, incurious, self absorbed, loudmouthed, bombastic asshole

    They come with a package of predictable traits.
    They are always bullies
    They are always misogynists
    They are always bigots
    They are always classists
    They always demand loyalty

    It is never their fault.

    Really nothing he has done should by that much of a surprise. Stop over thinking it.

    Even before the election I heard people, friends, say to me “But I don’t know anything about Trump” What the fuck did they need to see? Ten minutes of the man speaking was all anyone should need.
    It is not , he is not, complicated.
    At all. At fucking fuck fucking all.

    Complicated is the antithesis of that man in the White House.

    An attention whore with a burning need to be great and not one goddamn tool to make it so.

    “But his tweets are a cunning distraction…”

    No, his tweets are paranoid brain droppings. That bit of syntax impaired, vocabulary starved, chaos?
    That was a thought. That is the end result of Donald’s neural process, fleeing his skull in terror.

    All who support this soul sucking, brain fucking shit show do it for one reason. Power
    Whether it is the white working stiff who thinks this will get him back to a reality and position largely imaginary and certainly long gone. Or all of those Republican politicians knowingly pretending this will somehow work because more important than anything else they-must-have-power.
    It ain’t gonna work folks. Assholes like Trump?
    They don’t share

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    Replies
    1. You can add to that the clumsy journalists who enabled him and are now getting their kicks swimming in viewership while pedantically releasing further stories that don't put the stake in the vampire.

      Delete
  39. Just when I think it's all been said, there you are. And I swear it's really hard not to just give in to all the anger and disgust and frustration and despair. We really, really need someone to lead us out of this "long dark night". The Democrats, sadly, are not up to the task. I am just not sure where to start or how to start. But I know we need to start. I don't know, maybe each of us should run for office. Whether local or statewide or nationally, we have to start somewhere to change this descent. Maybe that change starts with us. Maybe we have to stop sitting on the sidelines and stop talking about it and stop despairing about it. And do something.

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  40. Nice one! I think H.L. Mencken would approve, as would Mort Sahl (who once described himself as standing at the edge of a cliff--facing an onrushing crowd of people hell-bent on to leaping to their deaths--and saying, "Uh...Have you thought about this?")

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  41. I am a "liberal", but must admit, there are many on the left that have dropped the ball if they are telling you to ignore tRump. I completely agree we cannot afford to ignore this wannabe tyrant. But at the same time, we cannot let his antics distract us from what the GOP are also attempting to do while the country is distracted by his antics and tweets. Please keep up your excellent work, even if your admonitions seem to fall on deaf ears. There are many of us out here, both Dems and moderate Republicans, that abhor this man-baby just as much as you do, and your words bring us both hope and inspiration!

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  42. I agree with all your points here, Jim, but would add that 45 and today's GOP seem to be out of touch with reality. Pence is building an empire for when 45 finally blows up, McConnell is the most ineffective majority leader ever because he has turned his back on his constituents, Ryan joins him as worst Speaker of the House for his lap-dog affection for the Kochs.... I hope that Democrats can right their own ship, state a coherent policy, and do the work it will take to lead this nation.

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  43. Democracy is like a new born baby. It is fragile and it depends on us to nourish and protect it. It is being starved at this very moment. And when it dies a horrible death, we will not be allowed to say we didn't know. Thank you, Jim!

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  44. Hope is not a strategy. Learned that in therapy.

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  45. I knew. I saw it coming. I saw it begin with the attacks on 9/11. Over the last 26 years of working as a counselor, I've watched the main cause for all of this grow. Once Barack Obama was elected, it grew exponentially.
    The rage and hatred you speak of Chief has it's basis, like all negative emotions, in fear. Fear is always about loss. The worst of which is loss of life. If you're not losing your life, then you're losing something else. Your possessions, your prestige, your job. Instead of being able to see how each of us is creating those situations for ourselves, people, blame the "other". It's always the "other". The other race, the other country, the other belief. With the advent of 9/11, the fear was ramped up of the other people and the other belief. As a nation, we thought we came together to fight against the "terrorists". We did not actually do that. Oh, moves were made, and words were spoken, but in the end massive mistakes were made, and always, the "other" was blamed for them.
    Then, Mr. Obama came to town. Now, the majority white, mostly male and Christian folks, who do indeed have a lower level of education, saw the "other" was running the country. Those on the Right who were in power jumped all over that and increased the fear a thousand fold with their lies and insinuations. Nothing that Obama did for the country mattered to them at all. He was the ultimate "other", and therefore all his works must be shunned. It doesn't matter if it helped them or not, it was to be eradicated as soon as possible. Because it came from a black man. Worse than that, he was of mixed race, white and black. That made him (oh, horror of horrors!) a mud baby. (For those of you under 30, ask your older relatives about that term) Who does he think he is, running the country and telling us good (read: white) people what to do and how to live?? The Republicans denigrated and denied everything he tried to do as much as they possibly could.
    Now to the 2016 election. Here comes Trump. What is he saying? To hell with the "other", I'm here to get rid of the others and to make America great (white) again. So began the insults and the denigration of all who weren't white and male. Ted Cruz? He's a Cuban and a Canadian, therefore he's a Communist and a Socialist. Rubio? He's a Cuban, therefore he's a Communist. Fiorina? Look at that face! And the white, right wing males did look at her face, then looked at their wives or girlfriends and thought to themselves, "Mine is much better looking, but I still wouldn't want her running the country!" How about Bush? He's white and male and Christian. Yeah, but look at him. He's weak, and oh by the way, have you seen his wife? She's a damned Mexican! So one by one, the other Republicans fell, until only Trump was left. Did anyone on the Right care about the particulars of what he was saying? No, they didn't, mostly because those who did understand it simply let it go, as they wanted an outcome they thought he could give them, and the rest of them simply are not smart enough to truly understand who he is and what's he's doing. They just don't want anyone who isn't a white male in the White house, and he fits the bill.
    And who was he going up against. A woman. And not just any woman. One of the strongest, most intelligent and capable women ever to step into the political arena. Oh, HELL no! There was no way they were going to stand for that. Bad enough with the black guy, now we have to listen to her? The level of fear crescendoed higher than it's ever been in this country, and over 63 million people said NO to progress and YES to regressions and their fear.
    Until we, as a nation, as a people, learn to let go of that fear, everything we're dealing with now will continue, and it will reach even worse proportions. The pendulum is far over to the right. It must be brought back to at least the middle if our country is going to survive.

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    1. Ross,I disagree with your assessment of Hillary. Her arrogance, self absorption, and disregard for those other than Hillary guaranteed that she would have been a terrible president. I voted for her anyway because terrible is much better than what we have now. We have allowed our political system to present us with choices like this, and we reelect our congress people whom only 10% of us like. Shame on us.

      Delete
  46. We took out kids out to protest during the Occupy movement. We stopped buying anything made by the Koch brothers. We bring our reusable bags to the store. We refuse the straw. We write our representatives. We participate in local cleanups....and we feel alone because every day we see people continue to tolerate, support and even encourage that repugnant, orange cartoon. Thank you, Jim Wright, for so astutely explaining why we are so horrified. What else can we do? We will do it....anything to feel clean again.

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  47. Every time I read your words I realize that no one since this mess began ever captured what's happening better than you. This cannot and will not have a happy ending. The only comparison I keep returning to is one of the alternate realities explored in BACK TO THE FUTURE (Maybe part III?) where the hero's suicide resulted in something similar--their version of Trump for their little town. But even there, the enthusiasm of Misguided Trumpettes was not apparent. Yeah, we have taken Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN and done it justice circa 2017. The blistering negativuty has been overwhelming on the entire globe. Tranquilizers and suicides and the ascendance of tormented bad guys in every corner of our nation has reached mind-boggling proportions. A belief in God helps me. Why? Because mine isn't traditional. Mine believes we created this world and experience, in our lives, the rerunning of a tape. We watch it play out exactly as we created it. Every mad gesture, every Big Mac. The worse it gets, the more we need to fix. This God does not intervene. He sometimes points the way and utters only two words--the last words a world like this seems to ever want to hear. Forgiveness. Love.

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  48. It all turns on the information silos we wrap ourselves in. It's too easy to get lost in the echo chamber. I've actually been able to talk to my Trumper friends about this and they are cognizant enough to be interested in widening their source beyond FOX but never act on it. Too comfortably cocooned in their own reflections.

    Goes for both sides of the aisle.

    I have to give our schools credit; they do try to challenge embedded beliefs, but when parents grumble that their kids are being brainwashed...

    I was raised to get news from multiple different sources. But nowadays more news means a less informed, more easily manipulated population.

    I am so scared for my children's future.

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  49. It all turns on the information silos we wrap ourselves in. It's too easy to get lost in the echo chamber. I've actually been able to talk to my Trumper friends about this and they are cognizant enough to be interested in widening their source beyond FOX but never act on it. Too comfortably cocooned in their own reflections.

    Goes for both sides of the aisle.

    I have to give our schools credit; they do try to challenge embedded beliefs, but when parents grumble that their kids are being brainwashed...

    I was raised to get news from multiple different sources. But nowadays more news means a less informed, more easily manipulated population.

    I am so scared for my children's future.

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  50. When evaluating Trump and anyone in his Administration I have a simple question. Why would anyone believe anything they say. The list of lies, especially in regards to Russia is consistent and provable:
    Did anyone in the Trump campaign meet with the Russians?
    No. No that never happened.
    Here is Michael Flynn meeting with the Russians and taking their money.
    Okay he did but we didn't know and he's fired.
    Did anyone in the Trump campaign meet with the Russians?
    No. No that never happened.
    Here's documented proof Jeff Sessions, who was campaigning for Mr. Trump, met multiple times with the Russian Ambassador.
    Well yes he did but it was as a US Senator and he's the AG now.
    Did anyone in the Trump campaign meet with the Russians?
    No. No that never happened.
    Except for Flynn...and Sessions... and Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and here is the e-mail to prove they took the meeting to get dirt on Hilary Clinton.
    Well Ok, but it was a non productive meeting and the Russians wanted to talk about adoptions.
    Why the fuck should any reasonable person believe ANYTHING someone working in the Trump Administration is saying? It's like a real life episode of Perry Mason but its not even slightly entertaining or amusing.

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  51. The only thing bullies understand is a good punch in the face, knock them down, keep kicking. This sends a message to the other bullies what exactly will happen to them. We need to fight the Republican machine of defunding education, getting rid of the EPA, tax breaks for the rich. We need to find people with common sense that will run for office. So what if its only one term. Do like trump, put up all the no brain idiotic phrases that the tea party, and ignorant bastards love. Then get in office and vote moderate. Do like trump is doing use their own stupidity to make a better country. Why can't we do that? Combined with common sense from the Democrats... maybe we can do some political judo to achieve our goals.

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  52. Righteous, but wrong on one critical point. Not about Trump; you nailed him exactly.
    He's the tip of the spear for a bunch of Nazis to take over the US. Note that none of the literal Nazis in his immediate orbit have been canned. They're quite good at this.
    The Republicans knew about that too, and they didn't give a damn. There's a chunk of them who were very happy about it. You know enough history to know how sympathetic the US was in the 30s and well into the 40s.
    Layered on top of that is Trump's motive, money. He's a hoarder, it's just instead of old newspapers or cats he collects dollars. He has no concept of doing anything else.
    Oh, and I've heard no one on the "left" saying to ignore Trump. Lots and lots of centrists & tons of people who just don't want to "deal" with politics, but every person on the left I know is running around screaming like their hair is on fire. They're being ignored the way they have been for years, but they're yelling as loud as they can.

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    1. I've heard no one on the "left" saying to ignore Trump

      Perhaps more people on the left write to me than to you.

      Delete
  53. Awesome article as always! It also irritates the hell out of me that liberals too find themselves wishing to avoid the dialogue. Hell! He is as you point out our President. I imagine the ignoring comes from not wanting to face the utter reality that our nation - as you also point out - is the sole reason this man is in office. What have we devolved into as a society? Belief in unicorns.

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  54. If 45 should happily trip and fall on his pen, how would you envision coping with Pence, Jim? (Don't anybody accept any proffers of Kool Aid from Pencers.)

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  55. Bess BibbentuckerAugust 2, 2017 at 3:07 AM

    I did not vote, because I thought Hillary had it sewed up, & my state went solidly for her anyway, so my vote would not have mattered. Still, when I woke up the day after & found out who our next president was going to be, I felt guilty. All of the admonitions in your post about being a better citizen applied to me: guilty as charged. In the months since then, the guilt has dulled & now I just feel alienated; if this is truly Trump's America, then I don't want to be a part of it.

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    1. I didn't vote for the first EU parliament elections (I was 22 in 1979). Thought it was too early to go that scale of government.

      My parents were *furious* - they had seen the destruction of democracy under the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

      Their point of view: We have our democracy back, now USE it.

      Delete
  56. Extremely well-written, as I have come to expect.

    One quibble: this paragraph:
    "Trump is the result of a voters who can’t be troubled to learn a goddamned thing about their country, their history, their neighbors, or their world beyond what will fit in a Tweet. Trump is the Too Long: Didn’t Read president."

    has a superfluous indefinite article before "voters". I took the liberty of removing it when I quoted this part while sharing this essay on FB.

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  57. On a bit of a tangent ... Donald Trump has just spoken out against Scotland having another independence referendum.

    As a supported of Scottish independence I can't even begin to tell you how much of a boost that gives our cause!

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  58. I wrote this in September, 2016:
    Trump supporters understand their candidate. They know what he stands for, on two or three core issues. And they stand squarely beside him.
    Now, here’s the thing: I’m old enough to remember the aftermath of World War II. I remember being taught in school how deeply sorry the ordinary German and Japanese civilians were, how the people of the those countries had somehow not understood what was happening, their holocaust shock, their angst, their suffering, etc., etc.
    We were being schooled in a lie. It was a fiction ginned up by revisionist historians and the losers of that hideous war so the rest of us would give the instigators permission to go on living. Go look at the propaganda films made when the Axis powers were on the march to certain victory. Propaganda to be sure, but the masses of cheering crowds rooting for their goose-stepping soldiers were not in the picture by force or accident. The people of Germany and Japan believed in the righteousness of the Aryan cause, the thousand-year Reich, the god-given power of the Empire of the Sun. All those regrets and tears and convenient whitewashing of what they knew and when they knew it — that came after the whole thing crashed down on their heads.
    You see where I’m going with this, don’t you?
    There’s a line in a miniseries called “The Heavy Water War” when a professor named Tornstad speaks to his students about their choice either to go along or resist on the heels of the German invasion. He says, “The decision you make today will be our history in 100 years.”
    It may seem unlikely at the moment, but someday, someone may ask you to forgive them for the vote they cast in the upcoming presidential election. They may profess that they didn’t see, that they didn’t realize, that. well, how were they to know? You can decide then whether or not to forgive the sinner, but, please — do not forgive the sin. Don’t let that person come back later and try to tell you, really, it was all just a misunderstanding. Trump supporters know exactly what they intend, and the rest of us need to stop kidding ourselves.

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    1. Perhaps the Trump supporters voted for him because they could identify with his crudity, his anger, his bullying, his racism and his misogyny. They were tired of the same old $3,000 suit Republican candidates and found someone they mistook for "a man of the crude people." Now, perhaps, they are stuck with buyer's remorse; he's a crude, rich, pussy-grabbing bigot alright, but the only person he's ever cared about getting some is Donald J. Trump.

      Will I take pleasure in rubbing the noses of people who voted for him in their mistake? That will depend on the level of remorse and repentance. I don't see myself forgiving the fool who declared last night that he is a patriot, a veteran, and is prepared to fight for Trump during the coming race war. If it comes to a second civil war, I probably won't be alive to grant forgiveness. The fool's kind don't particularly like my kind.

      Delete
  59. Yes. "We have met the enemy, and they are us." ... Pogo

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  60. "If you didn't know about that one, then what else don't you know?"

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  61. Maybe it's on purpose, but leaving racism / defending white privilege (which is what MAGA is at it's core, tbh) ignores the 800 lb gorilla. On a variety of levels, the "cold" civil war has been going on since 1870. In the 1960's the equality folks made some progress. In the 1980's and since, the inequality folks managed to make college unaffordable to anyone who's not already middle class and how to put a ton of brown folks in prison. This is the disease. America's original sin is racism. The cold civil war rages on - it's no longer geographical but still the same - folks who believe in equality, and folks who believe in hierarchy. Leaving that out of an otherwise excellent essay is a shame.

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    1. Maybe it's on purpose, but leaving racism / defending white privilege [...] ignores the 800 lb gorilla.

      OR maybe I've written hundreds of thousands of words on the topic of racism in endless detail over the last ten years and this essay was a) number 4 in a series, b) not about that, and c) already long enough.

      As to the rest of it, the attempt to redirect the underlying causes of the Cold War into some ill defined justification for historic racism in the United States, I'm not following. Frankly, Ed, it sounds like you skimmed Wikipedia while drunk and your paragraph is no more focused than one of Trump's.

      Delete
  62. Oh, and using Al Gore as the "left" is just silly. I realize there is some kind of rule where "both sides" need to be blamed for everything ( are you gunning for an NYT column?) But folks literally voted for GWB because there was so little difference in their campaign rhetoric. ( Not mentioning racism is the other "rule" for successful pundits, so I hope you do make it to the NYT.)

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    1. This is what I'm talking about, right here.

      This guy, Ed Crotty. This is a perfect example of the point of the essay and the refusal of citizens to take responsibility for their country. Instead, Ed simply declares that Al Gore, Al Fucking Gore, isn't Left, so obviously I have ulterior motives and I'm obvious just another capitalist whore. And then Ed can wash his hands of any responsibility for being a better citizen and sanctimoniously stomp off in self righteous victory.

      Let me guess, Ed, you voted for Jill Stein, right?

      Delete
    2. Ed's post and your reply, Chief, are why I recommend 'Time enough for Love' to anyone who asks me what they should read. Heinlein's statement about "...spending the enormous amount of time on it that truly intelligent exercise of franchise requires.” moved me, and to my mind made perfect sense. How can you possibly be part of this society if you do not understand what the hell is going on, and who these people are who want to run it?

      In truth, I've found that unlike Heinlein's quote, it really doesn't take an enormous amount of time, but it does take SOME time and you do have to read and you do have to have a certain level of comprehension to understand what you've read.

      That's what I see as the biggest sticking point in this regard. Fewer and fewer people are willing to take any time, and merely allow themselves to be swayed by their favorite "talking head", and THEN they have the audacity to complain about how everything is working / not working.

      I believe that we have to get back to the idea that intelligent thought and understanding are to be treasured and respected. Ignorance will only bury us all.

      Delete
    3. "But folks literally voted for GWB because there was so little difference in their campaign rhetoric."

      Rlly? Rlly? We had Al Gore taking environmentalist positions, and GWB standing for the oil companies. Were you listening?

      Delete
    4. Ross Cotton, have you read "Snow Crash?" It's computer fiction meets corporatist dystopia mixed with mind control. You might enjoy it.

      Delete
    5. Barbara In The Woods, I had not, but it was on my "to read list". I say was, because I grabbed the ebook last night and started in on it. Wow. Thank you for the excellent reminder/recommendation. I'm enjoying it tremendously. =)

      Delete
  63. I confess. Last night was the end of a long day, and this was TLDR. I made time this morning but need to digest. For new, just a quick comment.
    First impressions matter. A few decades ago, my first impression of Trump was "What a bully!" Over the years, my think has evolved a bit to "What a bloody, idiotic, f*****g BULLY!!!!" I do not not tolerate bullies and I will not vote for one -- right, left, or purple (and I really like purple).

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  64. "Reality TV star president"
    First of all everyone needs to stop with calling him a reality 'star'. I've never watched the show and have had zero interest in this egomaniac. He was at best a reality TV personality. Character, but no star! End that shit!

    As for Republicans and their haste in not slighting the orange manbaby is that they are embarrassed to admit he is their president. Shame faced and contrite they hide behind polite behaviour, protocal. To outwardly chastise your own leader would be to admit how utterly stupid you are. They are not about to do that. You see it every time Huckabee stands before the media and avoids contraditing the horrendous behaviour of the sitting president. They are behaving to hide the shame.

    Media has been attempting to get a truthful answer and each time it's evade and avoid.

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  65. As always, an excellent essay.

    It's good to see some of the Republicans get a back bone and start to push back against Trump. Now, if they can just curb the Kim Jong-Un applause.

    I have attempted to understand Trump's thought process and tweets. I can only compare it to trying to follow a golf ball that has been hit in a tile bathroom.

    Keep up the good fight.

    CS in Fl

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    1. David Brooks - of all people - recently compared Trump's thought process and tweets as "six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar".

      Delete
  66. Clear and concise. And depressing, but a call to action as usual.

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  67. Jim, if you didn't see this when it went by four years ago, I think you'll find it interesting — especially in reference to your "... Trump is what stupid people think a smart person sounds like ..." comment. This is a Harvard Business School article on the issue of many people being unable to distinguish between Competence and Confidence.

    Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

    https://hbr.org/2013/08/why-do-so-many-incompetent-men

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  68. So good I had to hit the tip jar!

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  69. Sullivan and other Repubs don't believe in unicorns. They know what Trump is...and isn't. He is a means to an end. A necessary nuisance to help them achieve their goals. And Trump is the magician on stage. Performing his tricks to ooohs and ahs while the repubs work behind the scene to make America great for the privileged, the rich and powerful. It's a lifelong dream coming to fruition for Ryan, Mcconnell and the rest. And frustrated Trump supporters will continue to blame liberals, union workers , the poor and anyone else the right has villanized as the noose tightens, jobs dry up and blow away, and schools lose their funding and spiral down into oblivion. But the repubs aren't fooling themselves. They are only fooling their supporters.

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  70. A frighteningly large number of people who do actually participate in elections vote for what they're against, rather than what they support. The Republican candidate could have been a talking cow, and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference. People voted against what they believed Democrats stood for. I will agree that no one researches the issues any more--I'm flabbergasted by the superficiality of many voters. Personally, I think we've passed some sort of tipping point; the only question is how long it takes for the rot to destroy us completely. Could parts of the country survive/prosper if the union fell apart? Could it be that USA is just too big and diverse to survive indefinitely?

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  71. "What kind of Marine would follow a leader like Trump into battle? What kind of Marine, what kind of Marine, would send other Marines into battle under a leader like Trump? What the hell? Did he take off his balls with his goddamned uniform?"

    that pretty much sums up his new chief of staff and the other Generals in his administration!
    They above all should KNOW! hard to listen to one of them say Semper Fi
    Not a Marine was Army, have many Marine friends and I know they whole those two words dearly.
    to the Army General at NSC remember the Army Motto "THIS WE'LL DEFEND"

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    1. My prayer is that they stay on because they know SOMEONE has to keep an eye on him.

      Delete
  72. Yes. It's about taking responsibility--for what we think and believe and do, no matter our conservative or liberal tendencies. It's why I come down hard on Trump voters, despite the push by some left wing pundits, (like Michael Moore) to make the, albeit valid point, that many a DT voter had hard life reasons for voting DT--like the loss of manufacturing jobs, the drop in the coal industry, etc., etc. In the end, we have to take responsibility for what we have chosen to believe, to ignore, to value. Have I made a few voting mistakes (yes, I voted for Blago for his second term as IL governor). But I own that mistake.

    And the irony is that conservatives claim to privilege personal responsibility as one of their most vaunted values. Irony? Or hypocrisy. Because, the ultimate reason the party leaders keep excusing DT is because their desire for power, for winning, overcame their duty to serve, to seek the truth. They, too, succumbed to the fear that they fed to their constituents. Power sickness. They mirror their leader in that regard. It's about power, not about their country or the people they serve.

    And, yet, that deep state conspiracy bs is just another way to avoid responsibility.

    But excuse my rant. i think I'll go listen to some George Carlin you tube videos now.

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  73. I can't help but be reminded of the David Nix apocalyptic speech in Tomorrowland - "[The] future doesn't ask anything of you... today." Are we lazy, indifferent, fatalistic? Are we just selfish or consumed with surviving today? I look at my children and will fight for their future.

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  74. Can we run you for something Jim?

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  75. If Americans learn anything from this horrific debacle (assuming we live through it), it's that being a citizen has responsibilities and duties to all. With the exception of Fox News and Breitbart, journalists and media have woken up to their responsibilities and duties to our country too. Hoping this is just the 'chaos before change' Lilli talks about in Singing in Silence.

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  76. You're so right; I'm so sad for our country; we're so fucked

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  77. Well this sums up a lot of what I feel and know about the whole Trump business.

    And the fact that people did know? Well of course they did know. They indicated that they knew what sort of person Trump would be and that, with regards to that, he would be awful for the whitehouse.

    Because if they DIDN'T know, why the hell would they be making excuses for him long before he was even elected? There would be no need for excuses if Trump was exactly the type of guy America would have wanted in the Whitehouse.

    Anyone still remember "seriously but not literally"? Yeah, that's it right there, it's a phrase which absolves Trump of any and all responsibility of what he says and does because hey, you don't take him LITERALLY, you don't take what he says as what he says, you only look at how "serious" he is.

    Whatever that means.

    Of course this is also a form of the avoiding of responsibility.

    Another reason why people voted for Trump was due to Hillary Hate, the result of a years long campaign by the right that succeeded in turning sentiment against her. It influenced both members of the left and the right and led to a mindset of "anyone but Hillary".

    Never mind if that "anyone is far, FAR worse than Hillary ever was.

    But all this leads back to the most basic core point of the essay.

    Americans as a whole, as a NATION, have a big problem with taking responsibility. They are, as a whole, quick to shunt blame to others rather than acknowledge their own faults. Now I know that this is actually more a characteristic of humans in general and not limited to America as a country, however America, now more than ever before, displays this sort of mindset to the fullest.

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  78. I always acknowledge the result of the elections where Trump became President as being due to Americans, I ALWAYS say AMERICANS voted for Trump, not the right, no the left, not the Jill Stein group, Americans. I always emphasize that Trump became President because Americans voted for him, pure and simple.

    The pushback to that simple statement however, is considerable.

    "Electoral college blah blah, Hillary Clinton's fault, blah blah, she was not the best candidate it should have been Bernie blah blah, The Trump voters are at fault and betrayed American values blah blah, the media blah blah, James Comey blah blah, Putin and Russian hackers blah blah, the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz blah blah, 3 million voters voted illegally and all for Hillary (and this is from Trump who WON the elections but lost the popular vote."

    The above is a summary of what people say when trying to push away their responsibility and refusing to acknowledge the role they played in the elections themselves (Trump's statement is the same as well, only he's trying not to take responsibility for losing the popular vote). Another way of doing that is to deny reality and make up your own. This is what Trump, and the Trump Party under him, have been doing all this time as well, indeed Trumpians have been doing it since as far back as the time of Bill Clinton at least.

    The main takeaway from this is an extension of what the essay states as "the source of the disease". If American citizens not taking responsibility is a disease, and Trump is the symptom, then wouldn't we expect that, even after Trump is gone, as long as the disease persists, there would definitely be more Trumps in the future? People worst than him in the Oval Office? Quite possibly. Indeed this disease is the reason why I feel Trump stands a good chance of being reelected in 2020 if he runs again.

    And America isn't lacking examples from her past with regards to the consequences of such a disease. It's a disease that's been with her since way back. Take racism for example. Did America really and truly acknowledge their responsibility for that? The heinousness of racism and how it truly is unacceptable? Did Americans make amends completely? No, after all, if they had truly been responsible, acknowledged their responsibility and complicity i it and truly wanted to do away with such, racism would not be the problem it is today.

    And that's just 1 example in the cautionary tale that is America's long history of its citizens not wanting to accept their responsibility where it is necessary. Trump is simply another chapter, perhaps maybe even a single page in that tale.

    One wonders how thick a book we'd get if, 200 years from now, we compile that tale into one.

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  79. Trump is the result of several factors, including the decision to run Hillary Clinton instead of Bernie Sanders. The question now is whether you'll be stuck with the Twitter in Chief for four years or eight years. Assuming we get to live that long...

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    1. I was wondering how long it was going to take for a Bernie Bro to weigh in. Longer than than I thought.

      Sanders couldn't even win over his own (temporarily adopted) party. How the fuck do you think he was going to win over REPUBLICANS?

      Goddamn, Bob, you've missed the entire point of this essay.

      Delete
    2. AHAHAHAHAHA I just finished talking about how the Berine or Busters are a great example of Americans not taking responsibility but putting the blame for others.

      And along comes one to present itself as a great example of what I'm talking about

      Delete
    3. I'm Canadian. My responsibility is to interrupt the singing of the choir.

      Bernie would've won the votes of Americans who are tired of right-wing economic policies, who are fed up with establishment politicians, whether they be Democrat or Republican. Saint Hillary was an establishment candidate, running against someone who didn't mouth the usual platitudes, and she lost. She lost to a vulgar buffoon who may just be incompetent enough to blow up the system. And blowing up the system is what a significant portion of Americans want to have happen. Your job is to offer an alternative. If you fail, rest assured that the next opportunist to run for POTUS will be smarter and worse than Trump.

      Have any lessons been learned? Democrats have recently come out with a "Better Deal", which amounts to status quo pablum. It could have been written by a moderate Republican, back in the day when progressives had the balls to actually be progressive.

      If you can't look in the mirror and figure out where you fucked up, then Trump and Friends will rule the roost until 2024. The Democratic Party, as it exists today, will not prevent your country from burning to the ground.

      Delete
    4. Perhaps Sanders could not "win over his own" party because they actively worked against him and for Clinton. That is not begging the question, that is a fact. Why you are so hard on Sanders and 3d party voters is way beyond me.

      Delete
    5. It's like a fucking cult with you people, isn't it?

      Delete
    6. BOB cultists just cannot believe that some of us never felt the Bern. They can't see past how awesome they think Bernie is. They think Bernie should have won the primary and invent excuses on why he didn't. Anything except maybe that not enough people liked him and his policies.

      Delete
    7. Perhaps you could point us to the BOB cultists you refer to, as these comments don't even indicate BOB behavior. Somebody named Bob (from Canada, mind you) mentioned their preference for Bernie over Hillary, and as usual you bust out the tired "OH NOES! Bernie Bros!" and "BOB Cultist" Memes. You really do need to take a look in the mirror. Believe it or not, not everybody thought Hillary was as awesome as we did. Instead of inventing excuses for losing, maybe we should realize that not enough people liked her and her policies--not in the states we needed them in. We all need to start taking responsibility and stop putting the blame on others. See how that works? Fun with words and mirrors.

      Delete
    8. A cult? Where did that come from? You have no idea who I supported or did not, you ass-u-me, you simply sneered at me AND you did not respond to my question.

      Delete
    9. Seraetras,

      Not everyone that recognizes that there IS INDEED a cult of Bernie is necessarily a Hillary fan, though I did vote for her. Immediately assuming anyone that doesn't feel the Bern is a Hillary shill is one of many BOB cult symptoms. Thanks for Trump by the way. You and the Stein voters. But Hillary would have been worse, amirite?

      Delete
    10. Actually I'd describe these Bernie or Busters, cult or otherwise, by a different term. I really don't think that they identify well with Sanders at all, heck he even told his supporters to support Hillary after he lost, so how are these guys actually for him by doing the exact opposite of what he wanted?

      You know what I'd call them? Hillary Haters.

      That's right, I believe that's the MAIN reason for all their whining, it's not that they believe that Bernie can win or whatever, it's simply because they hate Hillary and have from the start.

      Hate is an extremely potent motivator, and one that is irrational. If you look at their actions from the viewpoint of them hating Hillary rather than them supporting Sanders, their behaviour makes a whole lot more sense.

      We know how hate works from watching the Trumpians, but it's not like they own a monopoly on it or anything.

      Delete
    11. Mr. Wright,

      Your ad hominem attacks upon me do none of us any good. You have shown that those who engage in fallacious attacks against you are fools who do not think, why are you attacking me? Again you do not know who I did or did not support, you are only assuming. If this is a Hillary Clinton fan club then I am in the wrong place. The 2016 election is over, Trump won the electoral college. Clinton, Sanders, and the other candidates lost. İt is time to move on and try to find allies in this battle.

      The hard core of Trump followers will never listen to anything or any facts against Trump, they are out to destroy the "system." There are however a majority of voting citizens in the country who could turn the tide; some who previously voted for Trump and now regret it, the Clinton voters, the Sanders and third party voters, and yes, even the uneducated, uninformed, unwashed proles who might actually take the time to vote. They are all potential allies in the fight to, I hope, impeach and convict Trump, and eventually see him prosecuted in a court of law. That will not come from divisive tactics but rather from extensive educational and informational campaigns, on the streets, door-to-door, enlisting the support of those who are angry and believe they have little or no say in their government.

      Delete
    12. "Sanders couldn't even win over his own (temporarily adopted) party. How the fuck do you think he was going to win over REPUBLICANS?"

      Mr. Wright, Belabouring a point but perhaps there was a reason?

      The thousands of leaked DNC emails led to the resignation of DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. "Many of the most damaging emails suggest the committee was actively trying to undermine Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign. Basically all of these examples came late in the primary -- after Hillary Clinton was clearly headed for victory -- but they belie the national party committee's stated neutrality in the race even at that late stage."
      https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/07/24/here-are-the-latest-most-damaging-things-in-the-dncs-leaked-emails/

      "In the late afternoon on 25 July 2016, the DNC released a formal apology to Sen. Sanders, his supporters, and the party for their role in the scandal"
      http://www.snopes.com/2016/07/25/what-we-know-so-far-about-wikileaks-dncleaks/

      Sanders and Stein and Clinton supporters, please let us move on to discussing and forming allies in opposition to Trump.

      Delete
    13. Faith Topak,

      You have successfully proved the point of this essay. Thank you for that.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous,
      We seem to be having a communications breakdown here. As far as I can see, nobody called anybody a "Hillary Shill" or even a fan. On the contrary, it seems some of you were immediately assuming anyone that doesn't feel the Hill is a Bernie shill. Sorry to burst your bubble, but just because I'm pointing out a discrepency in your reasoning, does not make me your enemy. I voted for Hillary like any other sane person and defended her left and right all year, so forgive me if I don't want to hear your animosity over what appears to be nothing. However, I do agree with your last post. Hillary hate was rampant, and some of those haters hid their hatred behind a veil of support for Bernie. Those of us that truly supported Bernie because of his policies voted for Hillary in November.

      Delete
    15. Faith Topak,
      When it comes to voting, if you're not with us, you're against us. That's why third party voters take so much heat. We needed everyone and their mothers to vote for sanity in this election and we fell short. Also, it's probably best to stop beating that dead DNCDidIt! horse. He lost. She lost. We all lost. BTW, Sanders and Clinton supporters have always been allies, even when we were at each other's throats during the primary. You Stein folks are welcome to join us. We're just called Democrats now. :)

      Delete
  80. The Republicans may have no agenda other than undoing anything associated with the Obama administration, but the Koch Brothers, Inc., have had decades long plans in the works. ALEC is not a sweet little group of activists. They represent the worst of corporatism dictating national policy without regard for the well-being and welfare of the country's citizens. The Tea Party has its adherents convince that big gobbermint is evil, small gobbermint is bad, and outsourcing everything to corporations is excellent.

    It is as if the Corporate putsch against Franklin Delano Roosevelt was just delayed 80 years. We are living in very dangerous times. I wish I were young enough to find out how it will resolve.

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  81. Yes, I've said the same thing. The problem is not Donald Trump per se — in a world of 7+ billion people, the Law Of Large Numbers guarantees that someone like him exists. Heck, it pretty much says that there are probably tens of thousands of people like him in America alone. The problem is that nearly half of all voters voted for Donald Trump and that's truly a sad commentary on our society.

    I bring this up because I work with a lot of immigrants at my workplace — mostly Indian as a happenstance of the High Tech field in Silicon Valley, but the particular ethnicity isn't really important. What is important is that they no longer feel like America is a Land of Opportunity to them and that they are unwelcome. And it's hard to argue against that given the percentage of voters who backed Donald Trump's anti-immigrant campaign.

    And this is a Bad Thing. We need those immigrants. Not just because we have a scarcity of workers with their skills. But also because we're a better, stronger, more vibrant society when we have the diversity they bring. And that's true in the workplace as well. If you have a mono-culture workforce, they'll tend to come up with the same ideas over and over and over. Diversity of background gives you more perspectives on issues.

    So, back to Donald Trump and his voters who backed his isolationist rhetoric: they're hurting our country in a deep and important manner. I don't care about Donald Trump: I care about the people who voted for him and are still out there ready to back the next Snake Oil Salesman ...

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  82. Excellent post. Just one pedantic point about squirrels with ADHD on amphetamines: while all I know about squirrels is that if you really piss them off, they will bark, if you give a human with ADHD amphetamines, they will simmer down and become much more functional.

    -Liz de Calderon

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  83. Spot on. And a rebuke to the co dependent elected officials who saw Trump as a useful flake and got stuck with a viper in a red tie and a pit of snakes. Only thing to add is that the federal employees and the military in the field will carry on even under fools. But alas it may be like the continent in WW 1. Providence forbid and sanity re awaken us. Thanks Jim, good reasoning as always.

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  84. I knew exactly who he was--but though I didn't vote for him I'm still glad he beat Clinton. I hoped it would be a national wake up call, but sadly it seems that won't be happening. America finally got the president it so richly deserves.

    If you are Iraqi, or Afghani, or Yemeni, or Libyan, or Vietnamese, or Iranian, of Chilean, or a citizen of any other country America has attacked, destroyed or wantonly abused since WW2 enjoy this long overdue comeuppance. I sure am.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, a Jill Stein voter.

      Right?

      Karl, when you hunt unicorns, you should prepare for inevitable disappointment.

      Thank you, for proving my point so well. // Jim

      Delete
    2. Mr. Wright, OK, I get it, this is YOUR blog. I gotta ask though, why do you denigrate those who could not vote for Clinton or who did vote for Sanders or Stein or anyone else? After 60 years of growing political nonsense and wars without purpose, perhaps it is time to throw both parties out and find a more radical alternative?

      Delete
    3. Why?

      Why?

      Look around. Look the fuck around. It'll come to you.

      Delete
    4. Oh ok, change, both parties are bad, vote for a third party sure why not.

      Except.....did you guys ever consider the context? Consider that a third party option...well realistically, does NOT even have a chance to exist?

      It's one thing to have ideals, no one will fault you for that. It's another to actually believe that those ideals have a place in society when currently they actually don't. It's no different than the thinking process of conspiracy theorists who assume that their conclusions are correct to begin with.

      You want change? Here's a tip. Change, especially significant change, comes gradually. It usually starts with facing the correct direction. Would it be possible for groundbreaking change to occur overnight? Yep it's possible, but is it LIKELY? Without fortituous events to fuel such change, under current status quo such changes are unlikely to happen quickly.

      Delete
  85. I think that for Congress, it's less "we didn't know" and more "We're gonna ram through every wet-dream idiotic right-wing idea we've ever had before he inevitably loses his grip on power." Pure greed -- financial, ideological, or both. But I'd concur with everything else in this must-read post.

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  86. I don't care that they THINK I'm going to be tortured for eternity just for disagreeing with them. I care that they think I DESERVE it. Their judgment should be questioned as it pertains to everything if they truly believe this.

    Great post. Thank you.

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  87. This essay literally says it all, pointed, and raw, and truthful. Many in comments are saying those who voted for Trump should read this. Problem is, they will not. I could send it to my libertarian / republican friend, he will refuse to read it because he can tell from the first few paragraphs it conflicts with his world view. He tried to tell me recently ISIS was shaking in its boots because Trump called them idiots or something. He actually believes Trump is a great deal maker and negotiator. This is a man who is highly intelligent, a computing forensic expert. As for the majority of Trump's supporters, they, like him, are barely functionally literate, and have the critical thinking skills of a wet cardboard box after a downpour. I coined a term years ago after a few years experience with high school students. They are militantly ignorant. That describes Trump and his adherents. They are militantly ignorant, and have no intention. FWIW, they would look at this web page and say TL;DR (too long, didn't read).

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    1. Re your computing forensic friend: As someone who used to be part of the IT world, I always found myself baffled by the number of otherwise intelligent inhabitants who could only be categorized as reactionary. One time I lost my temper and admitted to being a "card-carrying" member of the ACLU, and a colleague never ceased looking at me as though I would sprout horns and a tail at any moment.

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  88. "It’s not just that that he doesn’t know enough about his own agenda to describe it in even vague terms, it’s that he’s not even interested in trying."

    It could be because it's 7 AM here and I've been up since 4 PM yesterday, but I think you have a superfluous "that" in there somewhere.

    I may come back later and comment more, but I do want to say this is outstanding as usual.

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  89. Before the election, I tried so hard to convince Trump supporters that he was mistake; that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. But these were people who despised Obama and Clinton and couldn't see past that.
    I barely speak to most of them now because they are in denial.
    After the election, I hoped - in vain, obviously - that the enormity of what he had taken on would sink in and he would try to be a good president. I know you're not a praying man, but I prayed everyday that he would look out at the crowd at his inauguration, stand at the feet of Mr. Lincoln, enter the White House and be moved by the tremendous privilege he'd been given by the American people. But deep in my heart I knew he would be the same egotistical blowhard he's always been. He is the end result of a nation where celebrity and notoriety are more revered than integrity, knowledge, experience, and hard work. Celebrities behave abhorrently and yet we keep buying their music, watching their movies, attending their sporting events, all the while showering them with our hard earned money.
    He's rich so he must be smart, right?
    There is one good thing that will come of this. Many people have been slapped out of their complacency. Many people now see that racism and bigotry are still rampant and not speaking out allows fascists to spread their filthy hatred openly.
    I thank God for people like you who have the ability to move people with your words and have the courage to do so publicly.

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  90. Saying what needs to be said, well done. Now we've got to find a way to read to them that need to get it read. That's hard when so many of them don't even listen to their hero Trump, but just applaud his every ignoramus move and bask in the feeling that "finally someone who gets me is in charge". Which is insane, but never mind: somehow those people need to figure out that Trump may get them but he is not FOR them. And an attack on Trump is NOT an attack on them.

    Meanwhile, much as I love the idea of a "tempter tantrum" I'm not sure that's what you meant.

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  91. My 5 year old often says, "You stole da words right outta my mouth."

    You, Jim, did just that.

    Excellent piece of writing.

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  92. Mr. Wright, you wrote "America tends to get the government it deserves, and this time we are indeed getting it good and hard."

    I will excerpt from the longer article cited below:

    "Do We Get the Leaders We Deserve? By Dennis Loo
    Such a neat and tidy argument. The problem is that it’s not true.
    It puts absolutely no responsibility in the hands of the leaders themselves.

    This kind of illogic reminds me of the common view that a woman who is repeatedly battered by her husband is at fault for not leaving the bastard. Odd that the people who say this fail to pin the responsibility where it should be placed: how come this guy is beating her in the first place?

    The public doesn’t get to choose who the nominees are. The powers that be (the two major parties’ leadership and the corporate media) decide who the “legitimate” nominees are going to be...any candidates who are outside of the working consensus of the existing powerbrokers are out of the running

    “If voting really made a difference they’d make it illegal.”

    The power of the people lies in their actions independent of the electoral arena."

    http://www.worldcantwait.net/index.php/organizers-mainmenu-223/85-organizers/dennis-loo/5837-do-we-get-the-leaders-we-deserve

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  93. Jim,
    Another excellent blog. I have one minor gripe with your reference to Al Gore. I don't mind him being placed on the Left, but he warned against Trump from the beginning. The only thing he had hoped for was that Trump might be convinced to rethink his "global warming is a hoax" mindset. Gore wasn't optimistic about it, and he had no delusions about Trump. He was just trying to get Trump to pay attention, and it didn't work. He shouldn't be categorized with the Stein voters or the other ignoramuses who suggest ignoring Trump so he'll go away.

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  94. Been a while since I checked in with you...what the hell was I thinking? Outstanding article, Jim. You hit that one so hard it's still leaving the park.

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  95. The root cause of the disease goes much much deeper than what you have taken it. It goes all the way back to our being animals with the intellect to rationalize our irrational animal behavior. You have pointed out the stupidity involved in what is going on and I agree, but have also seen highly intellectual people that use their intellect extremely well to rationalize their voting for Trump. Intellect does not keep a person from being a rotten human being. I believe that survival plays the biggest role in all of our behavior. Money gives us the most toward our survival, and causes much of our rottenness. The accumulation of wealth can lead to power and the ability to not only break laws, but also given enough money and power, to change laws. We have seen our supreme court influenced by it. I do not see a good outcome when we all want to get rich and even our education system glorifies and rationalizes it. How can we ever get all of the wealthy to become good humans when being rotten goes so far toward helping to become and keep ones wealth?

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  96. Jim: Agree with your writings but fear you may become at risk of being charged with violating Article 88 of the UCMJ. I hope you have a couple of JAG retirees who could advise you in that regard. Best wishes.

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    1. Huh?

      I'm retired. I'm no longer under the authority of the UCMJ. Though I have had a number of folks threaten to charge me with one perceived offense or another. I wish them the best of luck.

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    2. Oh I hope they do, I'll be glad to pitch in for your defense and it would maybe open a few eyes to the administrations MO.

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  97. Chief, you gotta read this.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/02/preppers-survivalist-summit-constitution-americas-midlife-crisis?CMP=share_btn_link

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  98. How many times to I have to say to you "This is the best ever."? You are too damned good. I now owe you some more praise and $$$. This is your praise (enjoy) and the $$$ are in process. I promise!!! Keep it up, Sir.

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  99. Musings: I've worked for a nonprofit conservation organization for quite a while at natural areas allowing visitors and relying on a cadre of volunteers to help keep up the workload required in such a place. Most folks in both categories are like-minded in most respects re: politics and conservation issues. Most are retirees with newfound free time to contribute to our efforts. In casual conversations I came across many (otherwise very bright) folks that had arrived at the conclusion that they believed climate change was occurring but weren't willing yet to admit that it might be human-caused. My position requires political neutrality so I wouldn't pursue the issue. My primary reaction, however, was that these people were unwilling to accept responsibility even though convinced that the warming was indeed occurring. This wholesale abdication of any responsibility seems to be a common thread in too many aspects of American society, particularly of late, including and especially those highlighted in your essay.
    I continue to appreciate your integrity, content and writing style, Jim, so keep sallying forth to take on the dragons.

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  100. I think you have a superfluous "that" in there somewhere.



    ทางบ้าน

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  101. To misquote Sarah Palin: "How's that hope he'll changey thing workn' for ya?"

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  102. Trump is the archetypal guy born on third base who's managed to convince everyone else he got there by hitting a triple. Problem is, not only did he not hit the triple, he doesn't even know which end of the bat to be holding. He's not going to take his turn on the field with the rest of you - oh no, he wants to be the pitcher, and when he drops the ball behind him, he's going to try his hardest to convince the umpire he threw it, the batter struck out on a single pitch, and the ump just didn't see it because his pitch was Just That Fast. He'll throw a tantrum when the umpire doesn't believe him, too.

    And of course, when his team loses, it won't be his fault at all. It'll be the fault of the other players on the team; the opposing team cheated; the fix was in with the umpire; or the spectators distracted him at a crucial moment.

    Oh, and my entry in the "old songs which don't need updating to be current" stakes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CGsY4vBYdYM

    (I'd also throw in this one, but I think it possibly needs the math checked to see whether proliferation and population have managed to keep pace with each other: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48waPFTXJvY)

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  103. I'm posting as Anonymous so I can speak freely. My stepmother is quite wealthy; she's also dumb as a rock. My late father once acknowledged that she's a stupid woman, but he admired how hard she worked to maximize what few brains she had. Dad, on the other hand, was brilliant, but while he did okay financially (solid middle- to upper-middle class), I think he discovered that being smart was actually an obstacle to long-term success. (Something I, too, have had to learn.)

    Anyhow, stepmom is solid Republican; loathed Hillary and enthusiastically voted for Twitler - even though she worked in Washington, both on Capitol Hill and then as a lobbyist, for decades.

    She will NEVER acknowledge that the Orange Menace is a disaster. To her, the fact that she's so rich proves that she's right.

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  104. Jim, I've never commented, but I have admired your writing for some time. I agree with most of your positions and I respect your reasoning on those with which I do not fully agree. I, too, find Trump delusional, dysfunctional, and dangerous, but I do not agree that everyone who decided that he was the lesser of the two evils on offer in 2016 is stupid, ignorant, a doctrinaire Bernie bro, or blinded by a belief in unicorns.

    They (or at least I) made a calculated choice to favor the evil and incompetent candidate over the evil but competent one. Why? We feared the latter would more effectively ratchet down the US government's long-running sell-out to big finance, big pharma, big agra, the MIC, etc. and, perhaps worse, adopt and expand international treaties (NAFTA, TTP, TTIP, TISA, ...) that proscribe every participating nation's ability manage its economy by irrevocably imposing a particular -- and manifestly failed -- economic model, rather than allowing democracies to flexibility and even fundamentally adjust the structure of their economies and their national fiscal and monetary policies in the face of changing circumstances and evolving knowledge.

    Unless Trump starts nuclear war with North Korea or Iran, I still fear Clinton's damage would be more structurally profound and thus less reparable (case in point: the inability of a highly-motivated absolute majority to repeal Obamacare).

    As you so clearly recount, folks of a certain age have seen the US change from a socially and technologically can-do nation (Social Security, TVA, civil rights, Apollo program, Internet ...) to an unjust and wasteful dystopia. I agree with your call for citizens to pay attention, think critically, participate, react. But that seems insufficient if not accompanied by a widely-shared vision of how we got here and how we get back to an effective and responsive democracy.

    Far more important than excoriating each of Trump's idiocies (who has the time?) and resisting them (how?), your call to mindful citizenship must be accompanied by a minimal number of policy prescriptions that can restore genuine and effective democratic power to ordinary citizens.

    We must unite to reverse Citizens United (by amendment that political rights are conferred only to individual citizens and that money is not equivalent to speech) and to abolish gerrymandering, the two existential flaws that have virtually destroyed US democracy over the last 40 or so years. I believe a substantial majority of US citizens would agree with both initiatives, after which we can more rationally, effectively, and above all, democratically sort out our many and important differences.

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  105. Thank you, Jim, just..............thank you!

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  106. American politics is stuck in an argument with the 10th Dentist. Jon Stewart once made a joke about 9 out of 10 dentists recommend using toothpaste to brush your teeth. The 10th Dentist endorsed the use of chocolate for brushing your teeth. America is largely divided between those who recognize that the 10th dentist is promoting an activity unhinged from reality and those that support the 10th dentist regardless that his claims are completely devoid of evidence of any sort. The political problem that this generates is that we are trapped in a debate in which reason and evidence count for nothing. On issue after issue the conflict is not between liberals and conservatives, but between those who embrace reason and evidence as their guides for reality and those who do not. If we weren't stuck arguing with the 10th Dentist and his disciples, in a healthy democracy liberals and conservatives would debate what to do about global warming. Instead as the planet literally burns, we debate whether it's happening at all. In economics ideas that have been debunked by their failures when implemented (the Laffer Curve, supply-side economics, bank deregulation) continue to be supported by the 10th Dentist and his horde. Even at the most basic empirical level the 10th Dentist declares our very senses to be in error as we discover that President Trump had the largest audience ever at a Presidential inauguration. And so it goes, instead of having serious discussions about policy, we're comparing photos of the crowds at the inaugurations of Presidents Trump and Obama. The challenge is how to escape this cycle. Producing unassailable arguments and biting satire has not done the job and probably has in the perverse way human psychology works pushed even more people into the orbit of the 10th Dentist. But if our democracy is to survive and to thrive, we must escape this spiral. To extend the metaphor as we continue to argue about what to brush our teeth with, they continue to decay.

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  107. Excellent!
    Wish I could write like this, coherent and powerful.

    I hope that we are all contacting our Congress critters with our concern. I let my mealy mouthed representative know my thoughts weekly.
    Thanks again

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  108. While I agree that it's folly to "just ignore" him, if/when he gets impeached Pence would become POTUS.
    This is a hand that requires a slow play, VP Pence is an idiot and I wouldn't piss on him if he was on fire, but he actually is a political operator. If he was in charge the halfwit might be able to DO something, at least with trump (purposely lower case) we only look like a football bat of a country.

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  109. Yep. I am confident that, at her LEAST competent and most screwed-up, Hillary would still not have bluffed and bragged her way into nuclear armageddon.

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  110. I'm offended. I've owned two cocker spaniels and they are much better dogs. I'm so glad I came here. It's been awhile.

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