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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Snake


When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
-- Maya Angelou


Trump should have resigned already.

Trump’s Impeachment trial, such as it is, starts today in the Senate.

But we shouldn’t have gotten this far. Trump should have resigned already.

If we lived in a rational nation, I mean.

If we had rational political parties who actually cared about the nation more than themselves.

Hell, even if we lived in the insane world of 1974. Trump would have resigned already.

And that world was insane. 1974. Trust me, I lived through it. The country was coming apart at the seams, everywhere you looked. Vietnam was mostly over, but violent anti-establishment sentiment still filled the streets in protests over race, religion, culture, and everywhere there were haunted, shattered veterans of an incomprehensible conflict that had been raging my whole life. I mean, Vietnam was literally a fixture of my life and I had no idea what the hell we were even doing there and that was true of the majority of the nation – and the more things change, right? Millionaire heiress Patty Hearst was kidnapped from her apartment by domestic terrorists in broad daylight. American cars where huge, ugly, clunky, poorly designed, unsafe, gas gulping monsters based on technology decades old. What’s that got to do with anything? Well, we were in the middle of the OPEC Embargo and there were hours long lines for gas like we were living in some slowly failing dystopia. While, weirdly, at the same time American astronauts, the very image of innovation and advanced technology and optimistic can-do American spirit, were flying overhead on the last Skylab mission and Mariner 10 arrived at Mercury half a solar system away. There was a massive swarm of tornados across North America, 148 twisters in one day, 315 dead, 5000 injured, billions in damages. The terrorists (guerillas they were called back then) who kidnapped Patty Hearst, the Symbionese Liberation Army, were trapped by police in Los Angeles and burned alive during a shootout on the Six-O-Clock news. There was this absolutely bizarre riot in Cleveland when an entire stadium got drunk on 10 cent beers and 50,000 people set to cheerfully brawling in the middle of an Indian/Rangers game. In Sarasota, Florida, a depressed broadcaster put a pistol to her head in the middle of a live show and it happened so fast that the station couldn’t cut away before she pulled the trigger, thus becoming the first suicide broadcast live and in color on television. The threat of nuclear Armageddon was in your face, every single minute of every day, and most of us thought the end of civilization wasn’t a matter of “if” but of “when.”

The music, the fiction, the news, of that time, that year, well, you go listen to it, read it, watch the recordings, you’ll see what I mean.

It was so damned grim, so insane, in 1974, that when it turned out the President of the United States of America was, in point of fact, irrefutably a crook who had grossly abused his office for his own benefit, well, you know, it wasn’t really all that noteworthy.

I mean it was, but it was also just more of the same terrible reality we were living in every day.

And yet…

And yet, when that happened, when the proof of Nixon’s malfeasance could no longer be denied, even in that time, among that grim reality, well, it wasn’t. Denied.

In the middle of all that madness, the members of the President’s own party, Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater, Senate Minority Leader Republican Hugh Scott, and the Leader of the House Republican Conference John Rhodes, faced reality and put the country ahead of politics and they went to the President and told him to resign. These weren’t moderates – despite the comforting fiction we like to tell ourselves about Goldwater today. They were hardcore conservatives. Staunch party Republicans. They had supported Nixon all the way, until the smoking gun, until Nixon’s criminal conduct could not be ignored any longer.

And these Republicans, they went to the Republican president and told him to resign.

They told Nixon flat out, we won’t support you. Republicans won’t support you. Get out. Quit. Resign.

Or be thrown out of office and sent to prison.


And so, Nixon resigned.


Even in that time, even that grimly insane time, this would have already been over.

Trump would have already resigned.

Republicans would have already forced him to resign, or be thrown from office.

Because it’s obvious. Trump is a crook who abused his power to a degree that makes us look back on Nixon and wonder if maybe he wasn’t so bad after all. And he was bad. Goddamn was he bad. Nixon was terrible, all the things we knew about him then were only the tip of the iceberg. But, Trump is so bad, so crooked, so obviously crooked, that he’s almost literally rehabilitating Tricky Dick in our collective memory and, you know, goddammit, at this point, if Nixon himself was running against Trump, if those were the only choices, I’d probably have to vote for Nixon.

But Trump isn’t Nixon and the Republicans of today aren’t the Republicans of 1974.

And that’s the thing, right there: That bit about what we knew then and what we know now.

That’s the real difference.

Back then, we didn’t know.

I mean, how could we? News was twice a day, one hour at 6PM and again at 11PM, and there were typically only three channels and the news was pretty much all the same. The average adult maybe read one newspaper a day, from the local big city – or if the city was big enough and you could afford it, maybe two major papers. There wasn’t any internet, no 24/7 cable news. If you wanted to learn about a candidate, really learn about a candidate, you had go to a campaign rally. Physically go, because there wasn’t any YouTube to watch it on a day later with your smartphone from the internet. Hell, a lot of American still had Black and White TVs back then.

Nixon? You might not agree with his ideology, and there were plenty of Americans who vehemently did not, but it was hard to tell who he really was unless you saw him in person.

So, how could we really know?

We might have suspected, but how could we really know until Watergate broke in the press? Until the Smoking Gun Tape was released on August 5, 1974, and told the whole world who Richard M. Nixon really was in his own voice.

But today? Now? In this time?

You don’t have that excuse.

Trump told you who he was right from the very first moment.

His Tweets and his rallies and every word he’s mangled since he rode down that goddamned escalator in Trump Tower to announce his campaign for President. He told us who he really was. Unlike Nixon, Trump never tried to hide it. Never tried to slap a smooth veneer of civilization over it. Nixon was a consummate politician. Trump is … well, Trump.

It’s the one thing he was honest about.

He told you that he was an unabashed racist. And he is that.

He told you that he was a sexist and a misogynist. And he is most certainly that.

He told you he was a homophobe. It's true.

He told you he was white supremacist. Also true.

He told you he was a nationalist. He literally used the word: nationalist. And he is.

He daily told you he was ignorant of history, science, military matters, and geography and he wasn’t lying.

He told you he embodied the very basest of traits, the worst of impulses, that he had no self control. He doesn’t try to hide it, he’s proud of it.

He told you he loved money above all things and that he would run government like a business. His business. And every day he acts as if he owns America, as if it’s one of his hotels and we’re his employees.

He told you he would give rich corporations and the wealthy billions at your expense. And trillions of dollars in debt later, he delivered.

He told you he was Islamophobic and in the thrall of Christian Dominionists. You can't argue with that.

He told you he would cater to the mob. And there he is on Twitter, at his endless Nuremberg-style rallies, whipping the faithful into a mindless froth of hatred and fury against the rest of us.

He told you he saw The Press as the enemy – the enemy -- and he's worked every single day to make that a reality, and he himself is most certainly the self-declared enemy of the free press in return. Q.E.D.

He told you he would hire only the worst people to run your government. He literally introduced them to you, rapacious pillagers and sycophants all, cowards, fascists, racists, sexists, predators of all stripes, the most ignorant, the most foolish, the most corrupt, and the most incompetent. And so he has.

He told you that he would destroy the environment, that he would burn more coal, pump more oil, pollute the air, despoil the seas, strip-mine the land, open the national parks to drilling, frak your water. All for profit. He did it.

He told you he sympathized with brutal dictators over Americans. He proves that true time and again.

He told you that he was self-centered, selfish, self-aggrandizing, arrogant, and a staggering narcissist who listens only to himself and the cheers of the howling mob. True.

Promises made. Promises kept. Trump told you exactly who he was in detail and what he was going to do.

He is all of that. And he did what he said he would.

And yet, somehow, 62,979,636 Americans voted for him.

Sixty-two million Americans looked at Donald Trump and liked what they saw.

Maybe they liked the idea of racism, misogyny, bigotry, nationalism, white supremacy, and all the rest of it.

Or maybe they just hated Hillary Clinton and liked the idea of sticking it to the rest of us. I seem to recall messages that went something like: Burn it all down! Burn it all down!

Instead of the American tradition of politicians pretending not to be terrible people, Trump embraced his terribleness.

Trump directly pandered to the racists and the sexists and bigots of all stripes, to the greedy and the selfish, to the nationalists and the xenophobes and the war mongers. Trump appealed to that guy at the end of every bar. You know, that guy, the loud drunk, the blowhard, who knows it all and is determined to tell you. The guy who thinks that if we just drop enough bombs, kill enough people, the rest will fall in line. That’s his answer to everything, bomb ‘em! Violence. A punch in the nose. Trump appealed to that guy because instead of attempting to lead from out in front, from a position of (alleged) moral high ground, Trump instead told that guy he was right.

The simpleminded demand simple solutions to complex problems, and Trump gave them that.

Trump told them they didn’t need to be better people.

That’s what a real leader does, encourage you to be better.

But not Trump.

No. Trump told Conservatives they were fine, the very best, in fact, they didn’t need to be better people because they were already the best people. Better than everybody else.

Trump didn’t appeal to their supposed better nature. Instead,  he told shitty terrible people that it was okay to be shitty terrible people. Trump told the privileged that they were the real victims. That’s right.

Trump told racists that they were very fine people indeed, that it was okay to be racists, and he welcomed them to his rallies. The Klan. Nazis. Confederates. Proud Boys. For the first time since 1968, since George Wallace, they were all welcome up front. Come as you are!

Trump told the misogynists that it was okay to grab ‘em by the pussy so long as you popped in a Tic Tac first. He told the haters it was okay to hate gay people and Muslims and people of color. Trump told the greedy that it was okay to be selfish. He told the warmongers peace could only be had with the application of high explosives. He told the deliberately ignorant stupidity was a virtue, history was a liberal plot, education was elitism, compassion was an assault on manhood, and that money – and only money -- was proof of intellect.

Trump told terrible people that it was okay to be terrible.

Trump told terrible people that they didn’t need to feel bad about being terrible.

The defining moment was when Trump stood in front of America on national TV and told conservatives that it was A-OK to mock the disabled and he flapped his arms around and made weird squawking noises. The audience, instead of being appalled, they roared with laughter.

They roared with laughter.


That’s when we should have seen it coming.


That moment right there.

That’s when we should have realized that Trump was going to win.

Oh, there were plenty of other warning signs. Sure. The debates, for example. Trump’s opponents were completely outclassed because they’d never faced anything like this before. Because we pretend that this isn’t what America actually is. I mean look at it: Trump was completely unprepared. He never answered a single question in any substantive fashion whatsoever – and hasn’t since, for that matter. All those things listed up above, the racism, the misogyny, the jingoism, the angry ignorance, the greed, the lack of experience and deep knowledge, that’s when you saw those things on display in exquisite detail.

And Clinton? She was poised, prepared, calm, funny, she knew all the answers in as much detail as is possible. Whatever the question, whatever the issue. She knew it all.

One side: a blowhard full of bombast, bluster, and boast. On the other: perhaps the most qualified candidate to ever seek the Office.

And yet – and yet -- Trump “won.”

Oh yes he did. He won the debates.

You, gentle reader, you didn’t think so. I didn’t think so.

But he did.

The critics said Clinton was “too prepared.” Too calm. Too poised. Too confident. As if that is even possible when you’re talking about the President of the United States. They said she “cheated” somehow. And sure there was a large degree of sexism to those viewpoints, but the real truth of the matter is that conservatives didn’t care if Trump couldn’t answer any of the questions. They didn’t care what he said or what he did. Remember, they laughed when he mocked a disabled reporter, because to them it was funny. That’s the kind of people they are. The kind of people Trump told them it was okay to be. The mean spiritedness of it only made it more hilarious. The outrage from the left only made it more delicious. They loved the show. The spectacle.

They didn’t care about answers, they only wanted to be entertained.

They still do.

Trump instinctively understands that. And, now, so do Republicans.


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the rub. Right there.


Trump is most certainly guilty.

You know it. I know it. Democrats know it. Republicans know it.

Trump knows it.

And if this was 1974, Trump would have already been forced to resign.

But Trump is not Nixon and the Republican Party of today is not the party of 1974. The Republicans of 2020 are not going to go to Trump and demand his resignation. They lack both the courage and the integrity. And even if they did find Trump guilty in the Senate, even if they were forced by some happenstance, some bit of irrefutable evidence, to acknowledge Trump’s chicanery, they’ll do what they’ve done since January 20th, 2017 – they’ll say it doesn’t matter. He didn’t do it. But if he did do it, well, it’s okay.

They know he’s guilty. They know it. And thus, they have no intention of putting country over party. No intention of an actual trial.

No, they intend to put on a show.

Because they know Trump’s guilt doesn’t matter.

The truth doesn’t matter.

Duty doesn’t matter.

Facts do not matter.

The integrity of the Office and of The Republic does not matter.

All that matters is the spectacle. Win that, and you win the debate.

That’s the lesson of Donald Trump. And that, that right there, is what America has become.

Trump thinks that if he can just put on a good enough show, he’ll walk free right into reelection.

And here’s the thing: given history, he just might be right.


I saved you! Cried the woman
And you've bitten me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die!
Oh shut up, silly woman, said the reptile with a grin
You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.
-- Al Wilson, The Snake, written by Oscar Brown Jr.

97 comments:

  1. Bread and circuses. Superficial appeasement to keep the citizens fat, dumb, and entertained while the very concept of civic duty is washed away by the firehose of corruption and apathy.

    People want to think "it can't happen here." Our nation will endure, somehow, and we'll pull through it all.

    Maybe. Maybe we will. But it won't happen if US citizens continue to ignore our civic duty in favor of Bud Light and monster truck rallies. Voting for spectacle, for empty show, for panem et circenses - that's how we got Trump.

    Of course it didn't start with Trump, as you've written about extensively, and it won't end with getting rid of him. We have so much work to do before we can rest on laurels. I'm afraid, more and more each day, that we won't put down the remote control long enough to do that work, starting with the necessary first step of removing Trump from an office he should never have held.

    Rome fell.

    And so can we.

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    1. Very very well stated, frightening, but you speak the truth.

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    2. I keep trying to explain to people that our country is quite young and there are no guarantees that it will survive as is. People look at me like I'm crazy.

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    3. Bead and circuses...but no bread. He's gone farther than Clinton in taking food out of the mouths of the needy.

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    4. Horse hockey. What good is calculus when your government is comprised of cheap money whores and gangsters? You take the stupid ass so-called teachers out and put a gun to their head and hand them the curriculum they'll be teaching from now on. I have yet to hear even a single teacher take any responsibility for this. That is disturbing. Put human decency and empathy back in the lesson plan. You'll have a brand new country in no time.

      We could even start teaching history again so as not to be doomed to repeat it.

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    5. TK Davidson, What are you talking about? What do teachers have to do with this whole discussion? You must have really had a bad experience in school. Sorry for that, but until you have been in the classroom and actually taught children, you have no voice in talking so horribly about teachers.

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    6. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself... Citizens United needs to go back into the vile hole it crawled out of. Seems to me if we shitcan a few judges to scare the fuck out of the rest and we're most of the way back to where we were. Still lots of work to be done either way. The best thing this debacle has done is shown lunatic fringe of the Republican Party and how dangerous apathy is. We don't need one more party we need six or eight more.

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  2. I only cry when I read Jim's stuff because he's so on target and the truth is so damn dismal. Vote. Hope, pray, inspect to ensure there's still enough integrity in the voting system to matter. Vote.

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  3. How can we ever get back to a sane and civil country after this? We must. But how? It's like saving one starfish when there are millions stranded on the beach.

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  4. I think this is the most profound to the point essay I have read in a really long time. You have a knack for drilling down to the heart of the matter. I was a child during Watergate but I remember it and when Nixon resigned (living outside Washington DC at the time there was no escaping it, even for a child). I remember the turmoil even if I did not fully understand it. I recognized it when it started again...and wondered why it was not recognized by others...who were adults when it happened before and damn well should have seen it coming. Maybe that is it - this time they are not going to let their choice make them look bad and they are going to prop him up until the bitter end. Got me...I am continuously amazed at the willful ignorance and blindness. I shouldn't be anymore, but I find I am.

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  5. Great work, Jim. I think the 70's Republicans did the right thing because they had seen what fascism looked like up close.

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    1. Good observation. That hadn't occurred to me

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    2. They did the right thing because he tried to secretly get the IRS to audit every one of them. Even pirates have standards ya know.

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  6. Some people claim they voted for "the businessman," but really they voted for the game show host.

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    1. Once again.... how is it that a businessman is supposed to know how to run a government? Name one government that operates like a business. I'll be waiting...

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    2. He was famous for being famous.

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  7. I fear that all of the republicans will push this so far as to muddy the truth - we really need to keep pushing the Constitution and not let them steal what is right and just. The Constitution is law!

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  8. Thank you. Just thank you. Thank you for saying what I would say if only I had the time and words to say it. And thank you for gathering like minded people together. In your fb pages, and your website, I feel like I've found my tribe after all the loud silences from my friends on fb save the nine that regularly post acknowledgement that something was even posted by me. We may all be on a sinking ship, but I know through your pages, that across the nation there are people in the very same ship with me. That we are a resounding no against the crazy and the cruel. That there is decency, and honesty, and integrity and people with the courage to call out truth in the face of what sometimes feels like insurmountable evil. So again, thank you, Jim. (I would not post as anonymous if I could figure out how to not but I figure the message is more important than the name as this point. D. Conklin, California)

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    1. Hear, hear, Stonekettle!

      Born in the summer of ‘68, myself. And I, too, remember these things happening all around me as I grew up.

      My birth father most likely went to Nam and it is unknown to me if he ever came back.

      Apparently, my adoptive parents met in a bar in Dallas, drowning their tears the day Kennedy was shot, or so I was told.

      I took my first inspired steps across the floor around the age of one, while watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin leave mankind’s first footprints on the Moon.

      And the Nixon Hearings,... My mom watching them.... Engrossed

      I also remember hiding under the desks, or in the hallways, of the public schools of my suburbanite, childhood, existence, during the drills that would mock prepare us for any natural disasters. And. Or. Unnatural disasters, from Russia, with Love.

      Made to feel somewhat like our children must today preparing, as they have to, for active shooters.

      I voted for Clinton in my first eligible election, and I voted for Hillary in the most recent one.

      And now, as I have sat through watching most of the detailed House Impeachment Hearings. ...Or rather, “Yellings”, as half of it would turn out to be.

      And after some masterful half-time coaching by Leadership Pelosi...

      Now, we are on to the Senate Impeachment Trial of #IMPOTUS45 , And the machinations of one, #MoscowMitch... And like you, Anonymous, I am left continuously amazed at the willful ignorance of his flock, And unfortunately, the powers that be, thus far. Although, I do not think that the majority of them are blind... Perhaps, just floating up to their eyeballs in their own NRA laundered campaign donation Rubles.

      There is so much more that they are attempting to keep well hidden behind the curtain of their gerrymandered electoral holdings, than has yet to meet the eye

      And yet, all that we can do,.. Is sit. And watch. And hope.

      ...That the bitter end of this “SHAM presidency” of #ThePussyGrabber&Thief... And all of his #TraitorTot Administration will come to an end.

      Sooner. Than. Later.

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  9. So eloquently said, and sadly,so true.

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  10. How long will it take the Nation to purge it's soul of this sepsis?

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    1. Seriously--about two generations. That includes us Boomers, and the next layer too. We're going to have to hope that the younger ones (11-16) have the resilience that their parents aren't showing. We won't see it in our years, but we'll make them remember never to trust that kind of liar again.

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    2. I fear we will never be able to do that. I have family that I have not talked with since this monster was elected. I am sad about that, but I just can't talk with them because of all the reasons that Jim outlined above.

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  11. Entertain the masses with bread and circuses. Sigh.

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  12. I had come to these same conclusions, Jim. We are cursed with interesting times. How to break the curse and get back to an even keel with honor, duty to country and respect? Of course, voting, but what else?

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  13. And this is why I read nearly everything you put out there...

    THANK YOU for spelling it out so perfectly. I've been saying for a while, now, that we ARE Rome, he IS Nero, and I smell smoke.

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    1. Your reply to Jim is not only concise but absolutely perfect in every way.

      May I have your permission to quote the last sentence but omit your name as I don't want the trolls to target you?

      Kindest regards,
      South Jersey Doc

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  14. Oh, how I wish this could be read by every American citizen, especially the trumpsters. They wouldn't believe a word of it, but maybe it would penetrate a few of them and they would finally be ashamed of what they have done.

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    1. I have come to the sad realization that even when they read it, it is dismissed out of hand because they BELIEVE that he's right and everyone else is wrong. They see completely different things in his actions and conduct than we do.

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    2. My optimistic side still hopes that we can create the best of all possible worlds. The pessimist in me fears that perhaps we already have.

      The 2020 election will determine whether this nation has finally reached terminal idiocracy... and the end of our Republic.

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  15. Thank you. I've been sayng Bread and Circuses for a while. You say it better. I shall pass this on in my deep red state.

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  16. This. This is what is the hardest to bear. Each atrocity, I thought "We are better than this." But the bitter truth is that we are not better, let alone exceptional. Because we wanted to be exceptional, because truth and honor meant something in small town/rural America. And the businessmen knew they could exploit those values, twist them to their own purposes and gain a level of power and wealth that is incomprehensible to most of us. And some saw that they could share in that power and wealth by proximity, no matter how noxious it is.

    It has always been this way, from ancient Rome, to France, England and now to us. Bread and circus. I got mine, fuck you. Twist the theology to suit your needs and (mis)quote the Sacred Writings to back you up. Shift the responsibility and costs to those who can't fight back until their daily bread and being entertained when not working themselves to death are the only cares they have the energy to maintain. Now in 280 character text bites and 15-second videos, because they are too stressed to maintain concentration any longer than that.

    How do we fix it? I don't know. History doesn't give us much hope. And those who caused the suffering to come will be long dead before the house of cards fully collapses, when their wealth can no longer save them. They wanted Armageddon. They may have ultimately been able to have brought it on, because they think their faith can save them. History teaches us otherwise, but it may be too late. There may be no one left to start over.

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  17. So 62,979,636 Americans are deplorable, shitty people...and we're stuck with them, like it or not.

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  18. This is the best summation of every word I have written, every thought I have suffered through since that night in November of 2016 when for the first time in my life I sobbed at an election result.

    If I could persuade everyone to read just ONE thing this year (if they are so completely disinclined to read that they don't know these things already) it would be this article. But we all know, as this piece so eloquently reveals, that it won't matter in the end. The loaded dice have been cast. We will continue to get the government we deserve and we have been very, very, poor stewards— of just every. fucking. thing.

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  19. Jim, You are preaching to the choir and I absolutely agree with your assessment. I worked outside the country for much of his campaign and assured the people that asked me that real Americans would never elect such a fool as president. I was wrong. I graduated in 1969 and live the same period you did and agree with the description. I have always liked the Al Wilson Song the snake and have it on every one of my old mixed tapes. Keep up the good writing we enjoy hearing the truth now more than ever. Bill

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  20. My late wife made the prediction in 2000 that the American People would "rue the day" that GW Bush was elected. She was far too sick to make any worse comment in 2016.

    Not if, but when, the Senate, led by the GOP, refuses to actually hear what is presented to them, finishes this farce of an Impeachment Trial with the verdict of "Acquitted," the orange menace will take that as exoneration, play it up to his base, and "fiddle while Rome burns." And then, the country will burn. I only hope in the figurative sense, not the literal.

    If we ever get rid of Trump and return to some sense of sanity as a Country, let's all hope for someone to lead us that has decency and morality as their guiding principles.

    But, I'm afraid that history shows that incompetence is only followed by greater incompetence, until erased by either revolt or by being conquered.

    If that is our option, let us hope for revolt.

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  21. I hesitate regarding the characterization of Hillary. I believe the hatred for her was what got him elected.

    Your poignancy regarding how he shored up his base during and after the campaign is an obvious strategy of sales people of the very best kind. It's soothing to believe his lies; yet, it is us who hate him who look for his lies, tabulate them, etc..., and we are not disappointed when he stays on his crooked course.

    Why has society become so blind to individuals like him?

    Being blindly entertained is a huge reason.

    Trump will succeed because, in sales, it's the entertainment factor which is all consuming to *us*. The lies and grifting and other painful or hurtful indiscretions are muted out by ...his showmanship.

    Thank you for this fabulous article.

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  22. If we have to endure four more years of Trump, our nation will not survive. The Founding Fathers did foresee someone like him, which is why......impeachment. They did NOT foresee a political party with no integrity, no morals, no ethics who would go to the mat for such a despicable subhuman.

    Once this president* is out of office, that stupid DOJ memo stating that a president cannot be indicted MUST be relegated to the scrap heap of history. Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Trump golfs while America rots from the inside out.

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    1. The nation will survive, but the Republic will not.

      Adherents of the Party of Trump (the GOP no longer functionally exists) are fond of spewing a bit of middle-school sophistry that goes, "America is a republic, not a democracy." Insofar as the chief executive and half of the legislature are not democratically elected, they're right - though of course the real intent is to insinuate that the Democratic Party is somehow un-American, devoted as it allegedly is to what they call "mob rule" (which never seems to bother them whenever people vote the "right way" on referenda to ban gay marriage or whatever, but never mind).

      When Orange Jesus is acquitted in the Senate, and if he is subsequently re-installed as president, then America will have ceased to be a republic and will instead have become, in all but name, a monarchy. Already the Trumpistas are making noises about anointing his chinless spawn as #46. If not him, then Ivanka.

      They really are saying that.

      And this ain't no constitutional monarchy - this is the real, 15th-century deal. King Donald will rule, and he will rule absolutely.

      Who will stop him?

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    2. Yep. Rome fell, and you are going.

      Thing is, we have history now.
      So, it may be possible to salvage this.
      Make it a bump in the road.
      And go one to be better people, a better country.

      Or, you get tiny hands for another 4 years, and the empire falls.
      You choose.

      This is your test. Pass, or burn.

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  23. I wish I could refute any of this.

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  24. I keep wondering what the Republicans endgame is, but I see they never needed one. Put on a good show and no one cares. I wish it was different.

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  25. I cannot fathom the lack of morality and responsibility in the current Republican party. We are headed for a Russian controlled oligarchy, and the current occupant's base will hand it to them.

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  26. The bite is poison to the woman, but life to the snake.

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  27. Say it as it is, it's not the Republican Party any more, but the very successful Organized Crime Syndicate. Or at least the core of that party certainly is. They have no interest in proving or disproving Trump’s guilt because it doesn’t matter as he's one of them. It's not that they lack any courage and integrity, it's that they gave that up long ago, along with any semblance of morals.

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  28. Whether he is or isn’t, he’s playing the Anti-Christ on TV. And, I find it amazing that my friends from a decade past church life, are eating from his hand. I never saw it coming. And to top that off, when those friends took me to see the ‘Left Behind’ movie with Kirk Cameron ��, the Anti-Christ character was the President.
    Did Russia read that script and say, that’s our way in via the missionaries they sent to “Save Us”?!?

    Your writing here, so spot on.
    I sat on the floor next to my grandfather as Nixon spoke on TV. I can’t identify the exact date. But, my Old Extra White Granddad from Dirt Road Georgia had his number. He wanted to throw a firecracker the size of his arm under Nixon’s chair. I didn’t get it then. I hope he would react to Trump the same way. Though I fear he would not have ��

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  29. Thank you, Jim. Excellent, as usual. I am at the end of my life. I've marched, yelled with indignation and voted over and over again, for years. Yet, here we are facing white nationalism and the loss of our democracy. As I watch what's happening, I cry. I cry for my grandchildren and our country. I'm tired and so disappointed that we weren't able to do better.

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  30. Sadly, I must agree with you. We must continue to resist the dumbing down of America as the pressure increases to elect that Dotard once again.

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  31. We will be fortunate to survive the debt, the trial, and the aftermath of this clown. He might win again. Then what? My wife, who hates the cold, is thinking of moving to Canada or New Zealand. Anywhere that the 'leader of the free world' is seen less often on TV. But I don't know where we go to escape this guy. He told us he was in Putin's pocket. He told us he would bankrupt the country in the same way that he bankrupted companies--in such a way that he walked away with a check. Dear heavens, Jim, I wish you were wrong, but every bit of evidence I've seen says that you are not only right, if anything you may be underestimating the nature of the disaster.

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    1. Come to New Zealand. It's sub tropical, and we'll take you in.
      Free healthcare too.

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    2. Believe me, we are thinking about it. My wife does like warm weather, but she likes Trump even less than she likes the cold. I'm thinking Northern New Zealand isn't that much different from Northern Florida.

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  32. What an excellent and terrifying read. Well done sir!

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  33. I have been saying for many years that the Republicans have chosen Party over Country each time there is a choice to make. This Senate "trial" is no different. It may take the upcoming generation of voters to collapse the Republican Party, as these new voters can see what is happening around them. For all it's faults the internet can show even someone from a small town that there is more to the world than where they grew up. They can join the rest of us as the better citizens we need to be.

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  34. Dammit!

    How can you be so truthful, make me hate it, and keep me reading?

    Thank you, though. I hope one day, with enough education, those who are so lost to empathy and reason will turn back to the better side of their natures.

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  35. Seriously... everything you've said here is a LIE (you've referenced NOTHING). You want to see him as every negative thing you've said, so you will. You will call me and others that think like me blind and sheep but in the end history will judge Trump. We, and everyone like me were tired of the status quo. We knew Trump was different, we knew he wasn't a politician. And here's the real kicker for you and your ilk...if Trump had a "D" behind his name instead of an "R", you'd be singing his praises as the best president EVER.

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    1. Really, everything is a lie? Everything?

      So, you don't believe Nixon resigned in 1974? Huh.

      I'm curious, do you likewise demand references from Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, QAnon? I'll bet you don't.

      It amuses me, ironically speaking, that you would follow Trump blindly and without question, and then create a strawman where I accuse you of such so you can be offended for doing exactly what you claim to be doing. As I said, ironic, isn't it? Also, a bit of a tautology, so long as we're talking about logical fallacies.

      You're tired of the status quo. You didn't want a politician. Etc. Etc. Tell me again how I got you so wrong? Because I love that part.

      But here's the real joker in the deck. Ready? I'm not a Democrat. So, at this point, you're looking at another swing and a miss. That's three strikes. You're out.

      // Stonekettle

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    2. Sir Anonymous,

      First, let me assure you. If DJT was a Democrat, I would still want his head on a platter.

      Second, true and valued politics is the art of compromise, in which both sides benefit.

      Third, if you don't see Trump for what he is, you are willfully blind. He is everything as described, and more.

      Last, as noted, you have proven and revealed yourself.

      Delete
    3. That's why you are anonymous, right? Как там в Ольгино, ничего себе поживаете?

      Delete
  36. I, too, wish there were a flaw in any of these arguments, or an inaccuracy in any of these portrayals. That being said, though, I think we're well past the point where pointing out that the Republic is being/has been stolen from under our noses does anything other than allow us to feel self-righteous, contrite, or prophetic, depending on our personalities. The question is, what do we do? (Other than say "we should have done something a long time ago, goddamnit," which is true but unhelpful.) Given the regime's track record thus far, placing our hopes in the electoral process bears a striking resemblance to wishing on a star -- if it produces any results at all, it's going to be somewhere between sheer coincidence and a freaking miracle. So apart from congratulating ourselves on being right all along, what do we do?

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  37. Trump loved to quote "The Snake" at rallies. Isn't it ironic? The game show host (not reality) just keeps turning the crank, and his boosters dance like monkeys with their caps out to collect the taxes that pay for everything Trump does.

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  38. I've been reading up on the fall of the First Republic, (well, the first one that I'm aware of, there might have been others.) Rome. Long before Julius killed it, the republic had been corrupted by money. A similar thing has happened in your Republic. I hope you can avoid the fate suffered by Rome in 44BCE, otherwise...

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  39. To me, a non-american, Trump appears to be the embodiment of the last 50 years of your culture.

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    1. Hello....I was curious as to whether there was something specific about your choice of "Last 50 years" as a marker. Much of "Trumpism" has deep roots in American culture while the current political culture is more an outgrowth of what began in the early 1980s. Just curious if you hand something ca 1970 in mind. Thanks.

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    2. Indeed. The roots of Trumpism go back to Appomattox.

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  40. Loved it. Spot on as always.

    Hopefully constructive feedback - the third last line : "That’s the lesson of Donald Trump. And that, that right, is what America has become." I think you meant to have the word "there "after right i.e. That’s the lesson of Donald Trump. And that, that right"there, is what America has become." Maybe?

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  41. I remember Watergate and Tricky Dick all too well. And I also remember learning something during the same period of my life, that has me fearing now: it can ALWAYS get worse.

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  42. I'm still wishing that election & the past few years were just a bad dream - a nightmare, really.... and that the people who voted for him, then, have had their eyes & their minds opened ... or come to their senses ... or been "de-programmed away from the "cult of Trump" ....

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    1. Jane, I hear you. The thing that dismays me is the rabid support among those who voted for him. I had initially assumed that it was cognitive dissonance that kept people supporting him. As conversations/discussions/arguments have transpired, I have been forced to reassess, and it is the racism and xenophobia that moves them.

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    2. I'm no psychiatrist but I heard this thing described once. They said if a child has been taught one thing as truth by an authority figure it becomes extremely hard to dislodge. Even with irrefutable facts they can become irrational and even violent to defend this false belief. If I remember right intelligence level doesn't have much impact in this either. Maybe someone here can expound on this or nudge this in the right direction.

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  43. One of my fears is that if elected for a second term, Trump will never leave. Fears are not always realistic, but that is the kind of person he is.

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  44. The parable of the snake and the woman has parallels in cultures across the planet. It's almost as though the human race knows that there are people who will pretend that what is obvious is not, that *this* time will be different, that *they* know the "real" truth.

    Almost like. Sad thing is, I guess, we didn't realize there were so many of them.

    EMH

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  45. And this, right here, is why he won...and why he will win again. Because we had the audacity to vote against Hillary we are all ____ ____ ____ ___ fill in the blanks with the same attacks as last time. The left isn't running a single person with a message that resonates with middle America. They pledge to take our gubns, raise our taxes and provide aid to illegals, while we foot the bill.

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    1. Whereas Donald Trump wants to slash Medicare, abolish the ACA, wreck the environment, eliminate civil-rights protections, explode the national debt and then default on it, and stack the entire Federal judiciary with Heritage Foundation hacks for the next 50 years.

      Choose wisely.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. It is always interesting when someone represents themselves as the official spokesperson for a large and diverse group. I am middle America, too, and there are candidates whose message resonates well with me. None of them are Donald Trump. I own a gun, but do not fear gun regulation; I pay taxes because I want to live in a land where the roads are good, the children are well-educated and if my fellows need a hand, I would much rather give them one than see my money subsidize some large corporation with no sense of duty to its workforce, the nation, or the planet. I don't fear boogeyman "illegals." As a matter of fact, that may be what separates you and I. I do not fear much. But when I do, I act from reason and critical thinking. Your vote wasn't audacity. It appears to have been unreasoning desperation and insecurity, middle American. I choose my way, and will vote accordingly.

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    4. "They pledge to take our gubns, raise our taxes and provide aid to illegals, while we foot the bill." - really?? Well, you are happy to pay for trump's golf and endless wars. Pssst, don't tell anybody - healthcare and education are funded with tax money in civilized countries.

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  46. Yeah, I'm more sure than ever that this is the point where we go from the Roman Republic to the Roman Empire. Democracy is so 20th century.

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  47. Remember Earl Landgrebe? We have 53 Landgrebes in the Senate now.

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  48. Bread and circuses, the old Roman formula. Trump and the Republicans now want to take away the bread, and the circus seems to be enough.

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  49. I never watched any of Trump's Apprentice shows because I can't be entertained by someone's firing. It's just not anything I'd want to watch. Still, I was willing to give every candidate a chance at first. When Trump mocked the reporter's birth defect on national television, that's when he became irredeemable to me. Anyone who would do that sort of thing lacks the basic empathy I'd want the leader of the free world to have. Everything else the man has done just cements in his overall rottenness as a human being. I vote Blue in every single election, no matter how small, to do whatever it takes to get Trump out of office.

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  50. Nixon was bad in the sense of being amoral, criminal, and paranoid, but at least he was competent. He was smart enough to sign the bill creating the EPA, thawed relations with China, etc.

    Trump, on the other hand, isn't even marginally competent, and to make it worse, doesn't even have competent advisors anymore to try to keep things running relatively straight and smooth. About the only competent one left is Stephen Miller, and given his white supremacist views, he's one that you'd rather NOT be good at his job.

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  51. We desperately need that the 2016 election was an outlier because both parties offered awful candidates. The 2018 midterms were encouraging and losing the House was a huge defeat for Trump and the Party of Trump (PofT). I don't share Jim's admiration or evaluation of Hillary Clinton, I'm baffled that the Democrats never discovered people like Jim Webb and Bob Kerry, although they would be preemptively disqualified in the #metoo world. I have said for years that we were sliding toward a pure media President, but I envisioned somebody like Oprah. I was entertained at first by Trump's scything through the GOP minnows, for I had no love lost for the party even though I was still a registered Republican. Trump is an arrogant asshole with no redeeming qualities and I still cannot believe how easily he captured the nomination and the party. I held my nose and voted for HRC, knowing Trump was incompetent but unable to believe he could win. My presidential vote counts because I'm just one congressional district east of Chief Wright in panhandle Florida and Florida IS a swing state although this area is "LA" (Lower Alabama) and before that the Redneck Riviera. A week after the election I changed my registration to "No Party Affiliation", Florida's version of Independent, but I will vote straight Democrat until Trump, Pence, and the ex-GOP "PofT" are either defeated or so entrenched that voting is no longer the way to remove them.

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  52. The final two paragraphs for the current article on my blog should give you my response to your article;

    ...but make no mistake. If the Senate acquits the OHM without calling witnesses, every Republican Senator who votes to acquit will have taken their turn at sucking the President's cock. Every. One. Of. Them.

    More importantly, every one of them will be investigated by the next president who takes control of the office, and that investigation could very well be conducted by foreign governments interested in seeking favor with the president of the United States. They should probably think pretty hard about acquitting the OHM. You never know who the next person who holds an office might be. Just ask Barack Obama if he's happy about his current predicament. Ask him if he thinks the future turned out the way he wanted.

    Much more at: https://ranthonysteele.com/2020/01/dear-republicans-what-does-trumps-cock-taste-like/

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  53. Magnificent essay. And more significantly, it's an *important* essay. The sooner people stop trying to appeal to logic or shame in Trump supporters the better.

    What I'm worried about aren't the worst of the Maga-heads, but the ones who go along with it. I'm not convinced that ALL of his supporters are as bad as the people at his NuremTrump rallies who eagerly roar with sadistic laughter or revel in violent rhetoric, but these moral cowards are still all OK with it. And now that they've made the decision to defend such behavior, they're stuck with it and sliding further down into the muck.

    The problem is, decent people don't want to think their fellow citizens are unredeemable, and the go-along Trump supporters still know how a decent person is expected supposed to behave. So if you talk to them one-on-one they can fool you into thinking that there's a chance they can be argued or shamed into changing their allegiance. But psychological research into the Backfire Effect tells us that for the majority of them, it's a waste of time.

    Which takes me back to your point. If Trump supporters are moved to support him primarily through Trump's spectacle, maybe they can be moved to reject him through a different spectacle. As infuriating as it is to have to stoop to that level of pandering, I hope the rest of us can come up with a sufficient counter-show, because it seems like it's the only chance we have left to retain any hope of democracy.

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  54. PS: I think I caught a typo in your third-to-last sentence. Did you mean to write
    "And that, that right THERE, is what America has become."?

    I waited to post this because I didn't want it to be an early comment, or to pile on in case others noticed. I don't know what your policy is on people alerting you to possible typos, so I hope this doesn't come off as pedantic.

    Anyway - as I said above, magnificent essay. Thank you for writing it.

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  55. I lived and worked in Poland during the times immediately after the break-up of the Soviet Union. My colleague used to tell me insane stories about how life was during the Communist years, but he was quick to state that life back then wasn't so bad: "I met my wife then, my daughter was born then, I had great times with my friends." The one thing he resented, however, was, as he put it, "all the worst people are in charge", from the Party, to the government, to the police and the schools, even the people who worked in the government-owned stores (who could greatly influence whether you received the amount and quality of a particular good that was in short supply - in other words, pretty much everything). Uneducated, venal, greedy, cruel, incompetent and completely without conscience, these people ran everything, because they were willing to sell their souls to a foreign power.

    Never in a million years would I have thought that, within a generation, the United States of America would be turned into such a hellscape. But here we are.

    As an American, I was practically worshiped in that time and place. I used to condescend to my Polish friends, thinking "follow our example, do as we do, and one day, you may be as good as we are." I feel such shame about this now. We've thrown it all away, and for what? The aggrandizement of the least worthy person possible, empowered by the uncomprehending, the scorned, the irredeemable.

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  56. Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish you weren't so prescient.

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  57. It is now almost a week since you published this article. (Excellent by the way.) In that week there have been 2 more smoking guns - the Parnas recording & the Bolton book comments. As the trial continues, it will be interesting to see if these are the tipping point. Somehow I doubt it. I think it's just smoking guns all the way down. Ed Hotchkiss, Ontario

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  58. No truer words have ever been spoken. The night I saw the commercial with him mocking the disabled reporter, and people laughed, I was done. I looked at my husband after I picked my jaw up off the floor and said, "Buckle up...its going to be a bumpy ride."I've always said our elected leaders are a reflection of the constituency. So what's that say about America? And what's even scarier is I predict he will get in for 4 more years.

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  59. Excellent, most excellent essay. You've written so eloquently what I've been feeling for so long. Bread and circuses, he is Nero and Rome is the US.

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