‘Gradually and then suddenly’

David Frum, to explain inevitable failure, instructively quotes Ernest Hemingway on going broke:

A famous line of Ernest Hemingway’s describes how a rich man goes broke: “Two ways … Gradually and then suddenly.” That’s how defeat comes upon a president as well. The live question for Trumpists in 2018 will be whether they can hold onto both chambers of Congress and thereby continue to stifle investigations into presidential wrongdoing. The geographic map is in the GOP’s favor in 2018, but the demographic map increasingly is not. The voters who hear of and are swayed by comments like Flake’s and Corkers’s—more educated, more affluent—are precisely those most likely to show up in an off-year election. Trump and the GOP will not lose all of them. They cannot afford to lose very many of them.

You don’t lose power by losing your base. Herbert Hoover held 39.7 percent of the vote in 1932, a year when Americans were literally going hungry. You lose power by losing the less intensely committed, just enough of them to tip the balance against you….

Via One More Straw Upon the Camel’s Back (“Jeff Flake’s speech won’t be the last straw—but it adds its weight to the growing pile”).

Those of us proudly in opposition and resistance – those of us resolutely committed to centuries of evolving democratic institutions on this continent – will not prevail today or tomorrow. We will see losses, some grievous, in the many days of political conflict ahead.

We will, however, see the demise of our adversaries, and happily our own success, in the shifting cadence that Hemingway describes: gradually and then suddenly.

‘This is an Apple’

I haven’t watched CNN in years, to be honest, but their promotional advertisement about Trump’s alternative facts outlook is spot on.

It’s more common for me to read than to watch cable news, but my two favorites on television are Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow. Watching Hayes or Maddow is always valuable: informative, engaging, and therefore truly enjoyable.

(I’ll also sometimes watch recorded segments from Tucker Carlson or Sean Hannity, but only with the general outlook of someone who would watch a nature program on hyenas before going on safari – one should be prepared for what one might meet.)

Kate McKinnon as Kellyanne Conway

Over at Saturday Night Live, Kate McKinnon’s in a sketch where she plays Kellyanne Conway as though Conway were the monster Pennywise from Stephen King’s It. She’s portrayed Conway before, but here her especially well. (The full sketch is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hlt3rA-oDao – the embed above starts part way in.)

In the sketch, Conway, speaking from a storm drain, tries to lure anchor Anderson Cooper (portrayed by Alex Moffat) into the sewer.

McKinnon so cleverly captures the irrationality of Conway’s lies on behalf of Trump – Conway will say anything, however outrageous (and especially if outrageous).

Conway’s not adept at the sophistry of ‘making the making the worse appear the better reason,’ – she’s adept at absurd lies, so fantastical that they’re like what a hallucinatory drug must be like. Nothing she says looks like the ‘better reason’ – Conway’s proffered quotes seem like a lunatic’s obsessions and compulsions. Those who find Conway convincing don’t do so because she offers a better reason – they find her intoxicating because she offers an escape from reason.

McKinnon’s impersonation nicely captures Conway as a deranged, gleeful liar, a liar simply for the dark pleasure of it.

Rural America Turns Against Trump

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin One often reads that it’s rural America that elected – and will always stand by – Donald Trump.

In fact, Trump’s support in rural communities is in decline. Chris Kahn and Tim Reid report Trump’s popularity is slipping in rural America:

According to the Reuters/Ipsos daily tracking poll, the Republican president’s popularity is eroding in small towns and rural communities where 15 percent of the country’s population lives. The poll of more than 15,000 adults in “non-metro” areas shows that they are now as likely to disapprove of Trump as they are to approve of him.

In September, 47 percent of people in non-metro areas approved of Trump while 47 percent disapproved. That is down from Trump’s first four weeks in office, when 55 percent said they approved of the president while 39 percent disapproved.

The poll found that Trump has lost support in rural areas among men, whites and people who never went to college. He lost support with rural Republicans and rural voters who supported him on Election Day.

Where his support was once dominant, he’s now only at parity with those in opposition. Trump’s weaker where he cannot afford to be weaker. It’s easy to see why his national support is so low – he’s losing ground even in places once favorable to him.

All those MAGA signs won’t save an autocratic, lying incompetent whose most important supporters – truly – sit in the Kremlin. No crudely designed and cheaply made hats will prove enough. However long the conflict – and it is likely to be long – those in opposition and resistance have as their armament centuries-long political, philosophical, and religious traditions on this continent that will prove overwhelming against Trumpism.

Their Friends Are America’s Enemies

It’s no surprise, truly, that white nationalists who returned to Charlottesville chanted three main slogans: ‘You will not replace us,’ ‘Russia is our friend,’ and ‘the South will rise again.’

Each is false, and little more than a dark hope: the South they want (of slavery, bigotry, and treason) will never rise again, they have already been replaced by a more diverse and competitive population, and Russia (under either the Soviets or Putin) has never been America’s friend.

Putin has returned Russia to dictatorship after the briefest thaw, a return to brutality at home and abroad. Consider only a small video of opposition politician Alexei Navalny’s struggle in Russia, and know that while you consider him, vast numbers more are denied basic rights. The man who makes Russia oppressive for his own people delights in having lifted Trump to power in America, that Trump might in his own way degrade our way of life as Putin in his way has degraded life for his own people.

The Somber Trio

The Scene from Whitewater, Wisconsin Among the most serious harms are those to liberty and physical well-being. One can compensate adequately for many injuries, but damages at law are slight compensation for lost liberties and physical injuries.

We’ve a new national environment, in which actions once impermissible are now encouraged, and redress once required is now no longer recognized. If asked to list the three gravest concerns for this small town, these come to mind, in no fixed order:

Harm inflicted intentionally against immigrants peacefully settled in their communities,

Harm inflicted through overzealousness against other residents (often disadvantaged) but peacefully situated in their communities, and

Unacknowledged harm from sexual assaults against residents on campuses or nearby.

There’s an obvious difference between risk (the chance that something might happen) and harm (what results if it does happen). The harms that might befall some in this community have always been clear; the risks of these harms has grown as Trumpism encourages force where it was once properly discouraged, and discourages peaceful resolution where it was once encouraged.

These greater risks did not begin with Trump. In towns across America, including Whitewater, one can see That Which Paved the Way. Those who have ignored or denied past wrongs have left their communities vulnerable to those who would, with satisfaction & delight, commit new and worse injustices, all the while declaring their actions the very height of order and propriety.

The worst risks, of the worst harms, fall on some of our fellow residents more than others. The moral burden of lessening risks, and of redressing harms, falls on all of us.

Trump in Puerto Rico

President Trump on Tuesday told Puerto Rico officials they should feel “very proud” they haven’t lost thousands of lives like in “a real catastrophe like Katrina,” while adding that the devastated island territory has thrown the nation’s budget “a little out of whack.”

Trump’s remarks came as he touched down in San Juan amid harsh criticism that the administration was slow to respond to the natural disaster and after he praised himself earlier in the day for the “great job” and “A-plus” performance he said the administration deserved for its response to Hurricane Maria….

Via Trump says Puerto Rico officials should be ‘proud’ more haven’t died like in Katrina @ Washington Post.

‘Can Conservative Journalism Survive?’

Conservative Conor Friedersdorf, now at the Atlantic, asks whether conservative journalism can survive. See, entitled just that wayCan Conservative Journalism Survive?

In truth, he’s writing about traditional conservatism (and not just journalists), and the generation of traditional conservatives that brought Reagan to office. I’d recommended the whole essay.

Friedersdorf asks:

….If conservatism is to survive as a constructive force for the moment when Trumpism ends in another bankruptcy, and the country needs a healthy left and right to recover, conservatives need not only to learn from the flaws that caused their countrymen to lose faith in their project; they must openly and explicitly break with populism [Adams: that is, Trumpism] and its excesses, bringing a conservative critique to bear upon them. “America needs a reminder of conservatism before vulgarians hijacked it,” George F. Will recently declared, “and a hint of how it became susceptible to hijacking.”

Who will point out populism’s flaws by drawing on conservatism’s best insights, attack its hucksters as much as the left, and fight for the right as if conservatism could win?

There’s an answer to Friedersdorf’s question: if traditional conservatism cannot see that Trumpism is now a greater threat than the left (rather than deserving of attack merely ‘as much as the left’), then traditional conservatism will continue to whither, declining from kindling to tinder to dust.

The local version of this is believing that hyper-local coverage, ignoring national forces that now reach into every town, will satisfactorily get one through this darker era. Indeed, it’s holding to hyper-localism as if that view were a political party, ideology, or faith. Paine was right, in his Epistle to the Quakers:

Ye appear to us to have mistaken party for conscience; because the general tenor of your actions wants uniformity: And it is exceedingly difficult for us to give credit to many of your pretended scruples; because we see them made by the same men, who, in the very instant that they are exclaiming against the mammon of this world, are nevertheless hunting after it with a step as steady as Time, and an appetite as keen as Death.

There will be a time after this time, of course, but some will come through it so poorly and so dishonorably that they’ll come to regret having come through it at all.

The Erosion of Political Norms (Concluding Part 4 in a Series)

local scene More than one small town has struggled for years under the debilitating influence of political & economic conflicts of interest, misguided priorities, and dodgy or grandiose claims. These conditions where those that  That Which Paved the Way for Trumpism. Those locally who carried on this way made Trumpism more likely, the way a moderate illness might weaken one’s immunity and make a deadly illness more likely.

Trumpism’s national champions contended – falsely – that America in 2016 faced an existential crisis. On the contrary, America’s existential crisis began not with Hillary Clinton’s campaign but with Donald Trump’s minority-vote victory. One might have had conventional, normal politics with Clinton; there was never a possibility of that with Trump.

Trumpism didn’t then face and existential threat – it created an existential threat.

On their own, many of these local problems would have lessened, slowly but inevitably; those who created these problems would have faded, slowly but inevitably. There’s little energy left in the dwindling ranks of those carrying on this way. I was right – then and now – when I once wrote in reply to a prominent social & political figure in town, predicting that ‘not one of those practices will endure to this city’s next generation.’

And yet, Trump’s national success will probably embolden more than one local man or woman to carry on a bit longer than he or she might otherwise have. Their political end will come, nonetheless.

What to do about all this?

First, Trump and his ilk himself will have to go, through whatever lawful means is available.

Second, America will have to assure both full adult access to the ballot, and the integrity of elections against foreign interference (both as foreign propaganda on domestic media and as hacking). One would prefer few laws to many, but even we’ve now many states legislating against easy ballot access. Better a single standard assuring access. We’ll need a policy of automatic voter registration. No one should be required to vote; no one should have to struggle to register to vote.

Third, and the most difficult of all, we’ll have to carry out a long period of a third reconstruction (the first being after the Civil War, the second being during the civil rights era) to assure that we do not again find ourselves in the situation that now plagues us: forces domestic and foreign united to undermine the American constitutional order.  That’s a long project, and I’d imagine – or at least hope – that the Rev. Dr. Barber, and so many other men & women, will guide us through that new, necessary reconstruction.

Previously: The Erosion of Political Norms, Parts 123.

Lauren Duca humbly presents…

Chris Cillizza, formerly of the Washington Post, presently of CNN, eternally a buffoon, wrote today that he thought Trump’s United Nations address was “much more poetic” than Trump’s prior speeches. From this, one can say that CNN wastes at least as much money as Cillizza’s salary & benefits.

(There are, probably, vile limericks that are more poetic than anything Trump has said. There are, with an equal chance, scribblings on bathroom walls more elegantly composed than anything thirty-something operative Stephen Miller has drafted for Trump.)

Lauren Duca, who would like more young women to write about politics, sees Cillizza’s remarks as an oppotunity to encourage others. Although I’m not much for the term idiot, in her observation about Cillizza, Duca’s on the mark…

Truths About Trump

For supporters and those in thrall:

For those of us who are opponents and of the resistance:

Opponents can first hold fast against Trump, and then at suitable moments push against him forcefully, compelling his retreat. Those who band together as powerful counter-parties can overwhelm Trump and his ilk.

The Premature Question

Over at the Daily Beast, Joy Reid asks What’s Going to Happen When the Trumpists Realize the America They Yearn for Is Gone?

It’s an interesting question, perhaps, but more importantly it’s a premature one. We’ve a long road ahead before Trumpism is finished, and you’ll excuse me if the time for pondering life after our present conflict is nowhere near. (Between now and then, the circumstances that planning will take into account will, no doubt, be changed, anyway.)

Concern over how that time will look matters far less than working for its arrival, however near or far that arrival may be.

For now, there’s no reason to relent or pause, no time to ponder the time after this time. We’ll have that occasion when success draws nearer.

Until then, we’ve an obligation to diligence, each day beginning again with the distance and detachment so useful for a long & demanding conflict.

Trump’s Stifling Techniques

Consider three basic rhetorical techniques that Trump (borrowing from the Soviets and Putin) so often uses (blatant lies, whataboutism, and that a given contention is obvious) and one finds that each technique is designed to avoid discussion, to avoid inquiry, to end debate.

He aims to stifle.

1. Blatant falsehoods. Trump lies or makes false statements repeatedly, now numbering in the hundreds just since January 20th. Daniel Dale of the Toronto Star has a running tally of Trump’s lies, from small to big. Often, these lies are also absurdities, simply nutty & false.

Example: Trump claims “As you know, Mexico has a tremendous crime problem – tremendous – one of the number two or three in the world.” Fact: “According to United Nations homicide-rate figures, Mexico is not even in the 15 deadliest countries in the world. Trump appeared to be referring to a study he previously shared on Twitter, which concluded that Mexico had the second-most “armed conflict fatalities” in the world in 2016. But its methodology and conclusion were widely questioned, and the organization behind the study, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, later acknowledged it had made an error. “We accept there was a methodological flaw in our calculation of estimated conflict fatalities that requires revision. Our researchers are working to rectify this and we will share the results in due course,” the organization said in a statement in June.”

Trump’s goal: Persuade low-information, gullible followers to accept what he says at face value. He typically throws a bogus or distorted ranking into his claim (e.g., “number two or three in the world”) to make his statement seem considered, measured, accurate. His hope is that dupes won’t research his contentions. They’re designed to be accepted initially, immediately, and unquestioningly.

2. Whataboutism. This is a Soviet-era technique that Trump and Putin now use frequently. When confronted with an accusation of misconduct or wrong-doing, the user quickly tries to shift the focus to another subject rather than his or her own misconduct.

Examples: If someone questioned Soviet human rights conduct at the time, the Soviets would ask “what about Indian reservations in America?” If someone rightly questions Trump’s many conflicts of interest, he’ll try to divert attention to Hillary Clinton’s emails, the Clinton Foundation, etc.

Needless to say, past or concurrent injustices elsewhere do not exonerate a wrongdoer for his own, immediate misdeeds. That tribes were mistreated, or that Clinton had problems with an email server, would not justify Soviet brutality of Trump family self-dealing.

Trump’s goal: Stop consideration of his own misconduct, there and then, by blaming someone else for something, anything. Point to an unconnected out-group to divert attention from his own in-group conduct.

3. Obviousness. Simply declare something a matter of common sense, merely insist it’s obvious. Deny that there might be a relevant and material objection to what’s being said. David Graham discusses this at length in Why Trump Invokes ‘Common Sense’ (“It serves as a justification for his policies and as an antidote to expert opinion.”)

Example: Here’s an example, that Graham uses in his essay:

It is common sense [to Trump] that the only way to keep people and drugs from crossing the Mexican border is to build a wall from ocean to gulf. But experts reject that, noting the physical impossibility of sealing some parts of the border and pointing out that unauthorized immigrants and illegal drugs get through the border by various measures—semi truck, for example. (Ironically, border crossings have declined sharply since Trump’s inauguration, offering evidence against the notion that illegal immigration can be controlled only with a wall.)

Aside: Graham notes that Thomas Paine, in Common Sense, used the term knowingly, in a way more insightful than Trump ever has: “The title of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense appealed to the wisdom of people in governing themselves, but it cracked an implicit joke, too: The idea of democratic governance was decidedly not commonsensical for the era.” In any event, Paine didn’t merely offer a contention – he produced a reasoned, lengthy argument in support of it. Trumpism, like Putinism, is the opposite: it seeks to inhibit debate in favor of servile, unthinking, immediate acceptance.

Trump’s goal: Swallow what he says without question. Don’t look to studies or inquiries. Take his world for it.

By each of these three techniques, Trump aims to stifle relevant debate. He seeks only one-round of statements – his own – and then only enthusiastic applause (or silent acceptance) in reply.

What’s Left

It was Secretary Clinton who, during the campaign, controversially but memorably asserted that “[t]o just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘basket of deplorables,'” Hillary Clinton said at a New York fundraiser on Sept. 9. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that, and he has lifted them up.”

This August, conservative Jennifer Rubin considered Clinton’s assertion, in a post entitled About the ‘deplorables’…

….there is no non-deplorable rationale for continuing to defend this president, his rhetoric and his moral obtuseness. No one is asked to confess error in voting for him (although some self-scrutiny would be appreciated). Nevertheless, continuing to deny he is unfit for office and to make excuses for his verbiage makes one complicit in his racial divisiveness and his determination to provide aid and comfort to neo-Nazis and white nationalists.

Some delude themselves by thinking that Trump can show “greater moral clarity” (!) (as the Republican Jewish Coalition preposterously did) or that staying in the administration prevents damage to the country (as Gary Cohn, John F. Kelly and others apparently do) or that the 2016 voters’ verdict cannot be upset with no regard for subsequent events (as Republican lawmakers insist). Let’s be blunt, these are rationalizations for continued support for an unfit, racist president. It does in fact make one deplorable.

Indeed. What’s left of Trump’s support is deplorable, and those who continue to look away are enablers of the deplorable.

Trump is manifestly unfit & those who actively continue to support him are the defenders of unfitness. In another, meaningful way, the national, state, and local politicians who are  publicly silent in the face of Trump’s daily abuses manifest a profound unfitness all their own.

For them, it’s a wager, perhaps: that in time, the rest of us will forgive or forget.

No: the future will write the history of the present, and will record Trump, his remaining supporters, and those officeholders who stayed silent, each in his or her own way, as deplorable.

Trump’s the Failure We Always Knew He Would Be

local scene Writing in the Journal Sentinel, Craig Gilbert finds that Donald Trump has squandered chance to broaden base, increase popularity, polls show:

“He’s done nothing to expand his base and, if anything, he’s sort of where he was, or experiencing greater erosion,” says Lee Miringoff, who conducted polls this month for NBC/Marist in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania that showed Trump with a job approval rating in the mid-30s….

But here are some findings from the NBC/Marist survey of 910 Wisconsin adults, taken Aug. 13-17:

Trump has a negative approval rating from blue-collar whites, a group that is widely perceived as his demographic base, represents about half the vote in Wisconsin and favored Trump by nearly 30 percentage points last fall over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Among whites without a college degree, 38% approve of Trump and 47% disapprove. Democrat Barack Obama is today significantly more popular with these blue-collar voters in Wisconsin than Trump is. Obama is viewed favorably by 52%, Trump by 36%.

Trump’s standing with college grads, women and younger voters — three groups he struggled with in the campaign — is catastrophic. Only 24% of college grads in Wisconsin approve of his performance. Only 29% of voters under 45 do. Only 25% of women do, while 63% disapprove. It’s pretty extraordinary to see presidential numbers that lopsided from groups that represent broad demographic categories. Women make up over half the electorate. If you’re at negative 38 percentage points with an entire gender (25% approval minus 63% disapproval), it’s hard to overcome.

A significant minority of conservatives and Republicans express doubts, fears or disapproval of Trump. This is a polarized age. Modern presidents can expect almost unanimous opposition from voters in the other party, so they depend on nearly unanimous support from voters in their own party. But in the NBC/Marist Wisconsin poll, 19% of Republicans disapprove of Trump, 24% view him negatively, 25% think America’s role on the world stage has been weakened by his decisions, 31% feel embarrassed by his conduct as president, and 37% think he’s done more to divide the party than unite it.

There’s a telling aspect to political life in a rural small town, even if the town (like Whitewater) went for Hillary Clinton. While there’s no significant political cost to criticizing liberals (calling them weak, snowflakes, social justice warriors) or defaming former Pres. Obama (doubting his own religious identification, absurdly insisting he’s not American), there is a huge fear of upsetting diehard Trump supporters.

All these lifelong, proud middle class GOP town notables – so sure and smug – become shaking kittens when a Trumpist walks into the room. Even before Trump, this trend was pronounced.

(Funny story from two years ago. At a public meeting, a slovenly, brash woman asked some candidates if, after “all the money had been spent on special needs students and minorities,” what they would do for “normal people.” Obvious point, in Whitewater or other small towns: only a tiny fraction of any public money allocated goes to either minority or special needs residents. If one listens to talk radio or Fox News all day, however, one might falsely believe that most public expenditures go toward buying McMansions for Obama supporters or Special Olympians.)

For it all, it’s clear that Trump’s base is smaller than he ceaselessly claims, and that even among white working class voters who are supposedly his core constituency, he’s unpopular.

Those who’ve decided that local politics is only possible if they refrain from alienating Trump’s deplorable base are both weak in the face of that band and unnecessarily worried over its size. As it is, Trump doesn’t have a majority, and doesn’t even have a majority from a working class demographic, behind him. This makes sense: a majority overall and majorities within different groups now see well that Trump is an autocratic, bigoted confidence man.

Even if Trump had all the world behind him, opposition would be worth and necessary. It’s useful to remind oneself, however, that Trump never had and never will have all the world behind him. He doesn’t even have the formidable base he claims he has.

Sec. of State Tillerson Distances America from Trump

I’m no fan of Rex Tillerson, an American Secretary of State who is a recipient — from dictator Vladimir Putin — of the Russian Order of Friendship,  but even Tillerson had the sense to disclaim the stain that Trump has spread over this country.

In the clip below, on Fox News, Tillerson makes clear that Trump speaks not for our people but only himself when he defends bigotry. That’s true, of course – we are a better people than Trump is a man. It’s not even close – he’s markedly below the ethical and moral standards of America’s just and worthy people.

(How long Tillerson, such as even he is, will last in this administration one can’t say.)

H/t to Kyle Griffin, a producer at MSNBC, who remarks that the clip is “Must-watch. Wallace asks Tillerson if Trump speaks for American values: “The President speaks for himself.” (Note Wallace’s reaction.)”

‘Enough is enough’

The Los Angeles Times editorial board plainly states the truth about these times:

These are not normal times.

The man in the White House is reckless and unmanageable, a danger to the Constitution, a threat to our democratic institutions.

Last week some of his worst qualities were on display: his moral vacuity and his disregard for the truth, as well as his stubborn resistance to sensible advice. As ever, he lashed out at imaginary enemies and scapegoated others for his own failings. Most important, his reluctance to offer a simple and decisive condemnation of racism and Nazism astounded and appalled observers around the world.

With such a glaring failure of moral leadership at the top, it is desperately important that others stand up and speak out to defend American principles and values. This is no time for neutrality, equivocation or silence. Leaders across America — and especially those in the president’s own party — must summon their reserves of political courage to challenge President Trump publicly, loudly and unambiguously.

Enough is enough….

Via Enough is Enough.

And yet, and yet, look around: how many officials in cities and towns – so quick to proclaim themselves proud Americans, influencers, notables, movers-and-shakers – now have nothing to say about the most important political question of our time?

Years of glad-handing, business cards, expectations of special treatment, self-promotion at every opportunity, lapping praise and ladling puffery, and in the end, each of them shown as nothing more than lions that meow.

Don’t Be a Sucker

In 1943, in the middle of the Second World War, the United States Government, fighting on both sides of the world, commissioned a short film about fascism entitled Don’t Be a Sucker. The film describes the fight in which America was embroiled in the style and vernacular of that time; it’s even more compelling to me for its simple presentation.

Americans’ lives were not then without deep contradictions, but the plain, direct defense of American liberty & equality that the film advances is morally superior to anything Trump or his ilk have never said, even these decades later. Indeed, that 1943 defense is a worthy reply to the bigotry Trump’s vanguard (Bannon, Miller, Gorka, Anton) daily foments.

Via Why an Anti-Fascist Short Film Is Going Viral @ The Atlantic.

Molly Ball on ‘The Trump Show’

Covering Trump’s recent appearance in West Virginia, Molly Ball writes that

“HUNTINGTON, W.V.—Every day brings new drama, but the Trump Show’s themes remain the same. He’s come to tell his people that everyone else is wrong and they are right….

They have come here, more or less, to be lied to: Trump, in his speech, will say, “We are building a wall on the Southern border,” which is not actually happening, though some preexisting fencing is being repaired. He will also claim that thousands more people were turned away outside, which isn’t true, and that coal jobs are “coming back strong,” though only about 1,000 coal jobs have been created during his tenure—a decrease from the previous administration’s pace….

“The news pisses me off,” says Jerry Pullen, a 45-year-old local who’s sitting at the end of a row of wheelchairs and motorized scooters. He’s tired of the phony statistics, the negative tone. “I don’t think they should keep letting people into America when I’m unemployed,” he says. Raised a Democrat, Pullen dislikes both parties now; he only likes Trump.

I ask Pullen what Trump needs to accomplish to satisfy him, and he says, “Quit letting the Mexicans and Muslims in here. All the other foreign people, too. They’re terrorists. There’s too many people in this country—we’re overpopulated.” When he’s out on the street, he says, he can tell certain people are looking at him with contempt. “They hate me because I’m a white guy,” he says. “I can feel it.”

See The Trump Show Never Ends (“This is what’s going to happen, day in and day out—an endless loop of shock and fury…”).

Pullen and his ilk dubiously claim to be victims while simultaneously calling for the victimization of others.

Before Trump, before the Russians who leash him like an organ grinder’s monkey, before white nationalism became the alt-right, before Fox spent years flacking birtherism and then Putinism, there were many in cities and towns across America who tolerated, excused, and overlooked the worst.

Fallacious arguments, dodgy data, puffery, Babbittry, and buffoonery: we grew complacent, in reasoning and diligence, and in came those who thrive on such weakness. If we had done more – if we had been even more diligent in our opposition – we might have prevented much of this.

Trumpism and Putinism (they’re related, to be sure) have this in common: they thrive in places lacking sound principles and practices.

We have allowed ourselves, in towns across America, to become other such people and places. When we have reclaimed our just & proper tradition, we’ll need to keep our own negligence in mind.