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I’m glad Trump is feeling pain

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Schadenfreude.

It’s a great word, German in origin but reflecting a world tendency: feeling pleasure in the pain or embarrassment of others. Here’s a classic newspaper headline of schadenfreude:

Famous Vegan Writer Caught Shopping in Meat Department

Who wouldn’t derive a chuckle? The Japanese have a similar saying: “The misfortunes of others taste like honey.” My Hebrew ancestors—a tough crowd—said, “If you can’t say something nice, say it in Yiddish.” An aggrieved Jew might say to her tormentor, “I hope to see you on one leg and may you see me with one eye.”

It’s not nice to feel schadenfreude, but it’s only natural. And so I forgive myself for taking pleasure in the obvious pain and distress that Donald J. Trump is currently experiencing. With impeachment looming over his head, with his approval ratings plunging, with Republicans deserting him, with scandal after scandal biting him on his sizable butt, he is said by the Washington press corps (which knows about such things) to be increasingly isolated, frustrated and frightened. And, say I, good: it couldn’t happen to a more deserving man.

What is it about Donald J. Trump that we loathe? Let’s start with the reasons why we don’t loathe him. It’s not because he’s rich: most of us harbor no resentment against wealthy individuals. It’s not because he’s conservative. I don’t agree with most conservative positions (although I do with some), but most conservatives don’t make me nauseous. It’s not because he’s an adulterer—so were Presidents JFK and Clinton, and I liked and admired them both as presidents. So those are not the reasons I dislike Trump so intensely.

Beyond all those things, what I detest about Trump is his character, or lack of it. I don’t need to launch into an extensive inventory of his faults, because you know them as well as I do. But, just to keep things brief, I’ll mention his dishonesty and the apparent absence of a conscience.

Those are terrible, awful character flaws in any human being, but magnified by the power and influence of the presidency, they become absolute catastrophes for a country that has the misfortune to be ruled by an amoral, pathological liar. I’ve lived through 13 U.S. Presidents—everyone from Truman to Trump—and not until this current one have I seen anyone in that office so lowdown. I don’t like lowdown people. I’ve been educated from birth in such values as decency, morality, integrity, fairness and honesty. I believe in those values; without them, civilization itself would not have arisen and could not survive. It all comes down to the Golden Rule. Miss Manners—one of my favorite columnists—puts it crudely but accurately:

“Etiquette is important because we can’t stand the way that other people treat us. Although we want the right to be able to behave in any way we want. Somehow a compromise is in order, if you want to live in communities. If you live on a mountaintop by yourself, it’s not necessary”

In other words, as long as you and I have to live together—and we do—we’re mutually obligated to treat each other with respect, to be harmless unless defending ourselves, and to not say or do things that needlessly make others feel bad. That’s how I live, or try to; it’s how you try to live; it’s how most people try to live. Our distant proto-human ancestors realized this fundamental “art of the deal” of getting along: “I won’t hurt you, or steal from you, and you won’t hurt me, or steal from me.” And thus we can organize ourselves into societies that evolve cultures, and evolve the human race.

Donald J. Trump seems to be missing that elemental gene. One word routinely used to describe him is sociopath, which means Trump’s personality disorder manifests itself in antisocial attitudes and conscience-less behavior. Nobody likes antisocial people: the misanthrope, the grouch next door, the cursing loner isn’t someone we want in our neighborhoods, in our lives. The conscience-less person is someone we know we have to beware: he is capable of violence, of harming us and our loved ones, is in fact the solvent that dissolves the glue that holds human society together. Such people are to be shunned.

That’s why I experience schadenfreude at Donald J. Trump’s troubles. The man has brought all this upon himself. Nature didn’t make him conscience-less. Nature provided him with a conscience; he voluntarily threw it away, with the thought that only weaklings and suckers have consciences. We—the members of The Resistance, who constitute a majority of the American people—are now teaching Donald J. Trump that we’re not weaklings and we’re not suckers. He, in fact, is the sucker, because he believes he can get away with being indecent in a nation in which nearly everybody values decency. He’s now finding out how wrong he is.


California needs a Marshall Plan to combat these wildfires

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With the Kincade Fire, things once again have spiraled out of control. The poor folks of Sonoma County once again have fled by the hundreds of thousands, ordered to evacuate entire cities—Healdsburg, Windsor—as the monstrous inferno grows.

On top of that, close to three million Californians are presently without power, and have been since the weekend, as PG&E has turned off their electricity, in order to forestall downed power lines that spark wildfires. As I write these words (Monday morning), the weekend’s winds—which were insane!—have calmed. But the National Weather Service is calling for another “wind event” starting tomorrow, meaning the thousands of firefighters battling the blaze have a scant 24-36 hours to tamp them down, before they’re once again helpless.

This, they manifestly cannot do.

Coming after the 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons, Kincade (and dozens of smaller fires across the state) clearly represent the new normal; and it cannot be allowed to continue. Our new Governor, Gavin Newsom, is off to a good start, correctly identifying PG&E’s insufficient efforts at prevention and response. But he knows that PG&E isn’t the only culprit. California is up against climate change, in the form of windier, drier, hotter weather. The state also is up against its habit of past decades of allowing homes to be built in historic fire zones, where these wildfires have raged for millennia. Plus, there’s a limit to what PG&E can do. Many people are calling for them to bury (or “harden”) their power lines. But, as PG&E points out, burying them increases the risk of power being compromised by earthquakes and floods, and the potential cost—hundreds of billions of dollars—is nowhere to be found.

In calling for a Marshall Plan, I mean for the Governor to reassure an anxious public that these fires are no routine matter—that they have now placed themselves at the top of his to-do list. Newsom didn’t run on combating wildfires. I doubt that there’s ever been an American politician who ran for office with disaster prevention his or her main priority. But here we are: politicians need to be flexible, in order to respond to real-world events, and these fires are as real-world as you can get.

Even for those of us well out of the fire zones, who did not lose our power, the air is unacceptable. I took Gus out for his walk early this morning, and as soon as I opened the door, the smell of ashes and soot hit me. It’s very strong, a hostile force to the body: you can feel the mucous membranes tighten, your lungs heave in revolt. I had to immediately turn around and scrounge through my closet for the face mask I used last year, during the Paradise Fire. It helps—not much, but a little, and us senior citizens have to be extra wary of the dire pulmonary effects of breathing in soot.

What will a Marshall Plan look like? I have no idea. But let the Governor reassure us that fire prevention and response has now become a top priority, and let him assemble a task force to come up with approaches. Let this happen quickly; let the task force reach its conclusions quickly—say, by Spring 2020, at the latest, before next year’s fire season is upon us. Let the Governor lead the people, and convince them of its necessity. This shouldn’t be hard; Californians from south of L.A. to the Siskyous, from the Pacific beaches to the Sierra Foothills, are suffering, and thoroughly understand the necessity for dire action.

It will be costly, this Marshall plan—but fighting the fires, and repairing the damage from tens of thousands of destroyed homes and other infrastructure, is probably even costlier. Where will the money come from? Many speak of fining PG&E. This may feel good, emotionally, but it’s not realistic; the company already is in bankruptcy for causing the 2017-2018 fires, and after all, any fines they pay will ultimately come from us, the ratepayers. So where the money will come from is another nut for a task force to crack. If additional taxes are involved, then let the Governor make the intellectual case to taxpayers: he’s smart and eloquent enough to do it.

Bottom line: this just can’t go on. Something has to be done. It’s going to take a concerted effort on the part of all Californians do combat these dreadful fires—a huge, ongoing effort. But we can do it. We’re Californians. Our state motto is EUREKA!—”I have found it.” Let us be the Eureka state, and find the way to mitigate these disasters, before they mitigate us.


Where is Zuckerberg coming from?

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Timothy Egan, a columnist for the New York Times, on Saturday wrote an op-ed piece about Mark Zuckerberg, who, it’s fair to say, finds himself under fire for the way he runs Facebook.

The problem, says Egan (and I agree) is that Facebook “makes much of its money by channeling tidings of sludge around, often to great harm.” The world first learned about Facebook’s sludge-mongering in the 2016 election, when Russian intelligence services and Trump allies posted millions of fake posts about Hillary Clinton and Trump’s other political enemies. Zuckerberg’s latest scandal is that he refuses to take down patently fake posts that are mainly from Republican (and Republican-aiding foreign) operatives, under the dubious claim that he stands for free speech.

Egan correctly disputes this excuse. Many users, he explains, cannot discern between authentic information and lies that purport to be true. These lies appear, not only on Facebook’s news feed, but more often on Facebook pages, such as Breitbart’s, that are patently outrageous.

Egan says that “especially older users” are unable to tell the difference between truth and lies. He cites “a study in Science [magazine]” that found that older Americans “lack the digital smarts to distinguish made-up garbage from the truth on Facebook.”

As an older American I take umbrage at this. Older Americans may not be as digitally savvy as their grandchildren, but that doesn’t mean they’re morons. Not being able to figure out the complexities of your iPhone doesn’t mean you can’t “distinguish made-up garbage from the truth.” Indeed, a case can be made that older Americans are particularly adept at discerning truth from lies due to their vaster life experience.

Egan blew it: he’s right about Facebook’s harmful effects and he’s right about Zuckerberg’s cluelessness. But he’s wrong about the people who are most likely to fall for the crap Republican operatives put on Facebook. It’s not the elderly who believe it, it’s evangelicals and their ilk (many of whom are elderly). These are people who mistrust public education (“too liberal”) and turn to home schooling and religious schools instead. These are people who don’t read newspapers or intelligent magazines, but who get their information about Hillary Clinton and other Democrats from David Pecker’s National Enquirer. They don’t watch the news on T.V. or listen to it on the radio, unless it’s from rightwing propagandists like Fox “News” commentators, Rush Limbaugh or, more frighteningly, the Christian Broadcast Network, where a sepulchral Pat Robertson, looking like he just clawed his way out of the grave, smears Democrats, liberals and the media every day, in between suckering poor rural folks out of their money.

Egan points out that Zuckerberg, either consciously or unwittingly, “is now helping Trump’s bid for another term.” Politico (what a great outfit they are) exposed a secret meeting he had a few weeks ago with “conservative journalists…as part of his effort to cultivate friends on the right…”. The conventional wisdom is that Zuckerberg is alarmed by the talk of some liberals, including Elizabeth Warren, about breaking up big tech.

Meeting with rightwing Trump supporters doesn’t mean Zuckerberg is one of them. He may well be liberal in other respects. (For instance, he has long supported gay marriage.) But it is concerning that the head of the biggest media company in the world (one-third of our planet’s population tunes into Facebook) is protecting fake news, false claims and smears—exactly as the Russians might wish.

Surely some greater form of government regulation is called for. I don’t know if Facebook should be broken up. But something’s wrong here; Zuckerberg runs that place, and we need to have a greater understanding of his motives and, more importantly, whom he’s meeting with. We also need to keep up the pressure on him to take down those fake posts. If Zuckerberg doesn’t care that they’re a threat to America, he may care that they’re a threat to his control of Facebook. Because they are.


A cautionary tale

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Imagine, if you will, a criminal investigation—say, a serial killer has been caught; the evidence against him is overwhelming; the District Attorney indicts, and a trial date is set. The media covers the breaking story thoroughly; after all, the killer (whom we’ll call Mr. X.) has terrorized a great swathe of America, and people are following developments closely. Surely, the killer will be convicted—most people who follow the news know how overwhelming the evidence is. Surely he will be dispatched appropriately, according to the law.

But wait! Suddenly, one morning, there’s a new development. The killer, it turns out, is a very wealthy man; moreover, he has wealthy friends. Together, they have pooled their resources, in order to fund a defense. The core of their defense is bizarre: the District Attorney himself, they allege, is the real killer, and is framing Mr. X., whom he hates. They have no proof. They offer no facts. All they can do is allege. But the allegation, backed up with their money and power, is enough to convince some people that where there’s smoke, there must be a fire.

Around water coolers at the office, at dinner tables, in bars after work, Americans talk about the case. “How could the District Attorney be the killer?”

“Well, why not? Anything’s possible.”

“Yes, but it seems so odd. We all know that Mr. X. did it. Didn’t you see the stories on T.V., or read the reports in the newspapers? The DNA evidence, the fact that Mr. X. had no alibis, and he had the underclothing of the victims in his apartment.”

“Yes, but Mr. X.’s lawyers say that was all made up. How do we actually know? Did you conduct the DNA tests yourself? Did you find the underclothing? How do you know it belonged to the victims?”

“Well, I admit that I’m taking other people’s word for it. Of course I didn’t conduct the DNA tests myself! I wouldn’t know how to.”

“Exactly. And how do we know that the supposed ‘experts’ who did conduct the DNA tests knew how to? Besides, what if they were secretly in cahoots with the District Attorney himself?”

“You mean–?”

“Yes. It could all be a huge conspiracy.”

“Like the Moon Landing?” asks a third man, who’s been listening in.

“Yes, like the Moon Landing. I heard that was staged at a Hollywood back lot.”

“I did too!” chimes in a fourth man, a construction worker. “I also heard that it wasn’t Al Qaeda that took down the World Trade Center. I heard it was the Mossad.”

“I heard it was the CIA” said another man, an electrician by trade.

“Don’t the CIA and the Mossad work pretty close?”

And so it went. The more people talked about the case, the more confused they became. That there actually was a mountain of evidence against Mr. X. was irrelevant. There also was a mountain of evidence against the District Attorney. Well, not exactly “evidence,” but a mountain of allegations, some of which came from some credible people.

Polls were taken of the public at regular intervals by the major polling companies. It was found that one-third of the population thought that Mr. X. was the killer. Roughly one-third thought that the District Attorney was the killer. The remainder didn’t know. The country was evenly split.

Many years later, when nearly all the principles in the case were dead—the District Attorney, Mr. X., his rich friends, the lawyers, the journalists—a scholar wrote a book about it. Piecing together all the facts, he concluded that Mr. X. had indeed been the killer. But it was too late to do anything about it; Mr. X.’s trial had ended in a hung jury. Twelve men and women of good will could not agree on the facts. In fact, the jury itself was split right down the middle: six to convict, six to acquit. Mr. X. went free.

The journalist who wrote the book went on a book tour, appearing on many  T.V. and radio interviews. He was often asked what was the lesson of the case of Mr. X. Here is what he replied:

“The evidence against Mr. X. was overwhelming. In retrospect, we know he was a monster, who should have been stopped. My reporting found that in all likelihood he continued to murder innocent victims. Sadly, his lawyers were very clever. They succeeded in bamboozling the public, in overwhelming them with false information, with smears, with allegations that were so patently absurd, many people felt they had to be true, for who would dare to say such easily disproved things? In the end, I think the lesson is that democracy is always threatened, not so much from external enemies as from within. People have to keep their wits and use their common sense. Once reason and logic are undermined, so is democracy itself.”

Have a lovely weekend. If you live in the Red Flag areas of California, be safe.


California Report: Glorious food and wine, horrible wildfires

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Marilyn came to dinner yesterday at my place in Oakland, continuing a tradition we’ve had for 30 years. It was a warm-to-hot day: glorious for me, too warm for her, as she’s born and raised in Pacifica, on the ocean, where the climate is considerably colder and wetter than here in inland Oakland. I thrive on a 90-degree day; she hates it, but on the other hand, when I visit her, I must remember to bring layers, particularly if we’re walking the dogs on the beach.

Here’s my menu. I called it “An Impeachment Dinner” because both of us are waiting for the day when Mr. Trump and his Basket of Deplorables no longer are around:

Old-fashioned pea coup with shu-mei dumpling

Ahi tuna poke salad

Rieussec “R 2017 Sauvignon Blanc

Wild Mushroom and Burrata Bruschetta

Longoria 2011 Bien Nacido Pinot Noir

Cookies

I always make my own pea soup (with a ham hock, of course) and I daresay it’s the best I’ve ever had. The idea of crowning the bowl with a shu-mei came to me in a flash. I buy my shu-mei (and other dumplings and Chinese pastries) from a little hole-in-the-wall bakery in Chinatown; it has no tables but always there’s a line out the door onto the sidewalk. I thought putting a shu-mei into the soup would make it the fusion equivalent of Jewish chicken soup with a matzoh ball. It was fantastic; highly recommended.

We followed that with the ahi tuna poke salad. I used to serve my ahi tuna on a chip of some kind (potato, shrimp) or on toasted bruschetta but lately I’ve preferred mixing it into a salad: greens, cukes, little cherry tomatoes, avocado, sprouts, and in this case I threw in some persimmon seeds because they’re in season; the sweetness added a marvelous layer.

The wine was unusual, the first time I’ve ever had Rieussec’s “R”. Chateau Rieussec is, of course, a 1er Grand Cru of Sauternes; located next to Chateau Yquem, it’s one of the great sweet wines of the world. But they also make “R”, a bone-dry wine, from the same grape varieties: Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. I absolutely loved it: it was what the French call sere, very dry, with great, mouthwatering acidity and subtle but powerful citrus and herb flavors. A wonderful wine, and it paired well with both the pea soup and the poke salad.

I knew I wanted the Longoria Pinot Noir for my third course, but spent the better part of a day trying to figure out the food. I thought of lamb, naturally, but that seemed a little heavy, after the first two courses (both very rich). Gillian, one of my pals from improv, and an amateur chef, suggested mushroom duxelles, and for a while, that was my choice. But later I switched courses and decided instead on a variation, the mushroom and burrata on bruschetta. I marinated the sliced shiitakes for a couple hours in garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, salt, pepper and EVOO; that imparted a delicate, savory kick. Then sautéed them for a few minutes before topping the rustic, toasted long bread (from Acme) and scooping on a blob of the sweet, creamy burrata. A sprinkle of toasted black sesame seeds provided visual interest.

Very good, and the pairing with the Pinot was really perfect. This Pinot was eight years old. That’s a pretty safe age for a top-quality California Pinot Noir. Rick Longoria, an old friend, is a master winemaker, and the Bien Nacido Vineyard is, obviously, one of the best and most famous in the New World. So I had very little doubt it would be great, and it was. It was bone dry, so it made a nice followup to the dry “R,” and was subtle in fruit, herbs and earth. The vintage, 2011, was a tough one: cold and wet. But many vintners succeeded in making red wines that were not as fruit-bomby as usual, to the credit of the wines. The Longoria was a connoisseur’s wine: not immediately flattering, but complex, slowly revealing its charms, and a spectacular accompaniment to the bruschetta. Then, for dessert, I took the easy way out: bought a bunch of different kinds of cookies.

The wind really picked up last night: the Red Flag Warning was apt. PG&E has, as I write, shut off power to hundreds of thousands of people, but—also as I write—there’s a huge, out-of-control fire in Sonoma County, east of Geyserville and Cloverdale (they’re calling it the Kinkade Fire). I just emailed Jo and Jose Diaz, who live in those hills. They’ve been evacuated before (during the Wine County Fires of 2017), and I hope they’re not evacuated again; but I fear they have been.

As if that’s not bad enough, the weather forecast for this weekend—two or three days hence—is for even fiercer winds, comparable to those that drove the Wine Country Fires which, as you know, were absolutely devastating. One thing I don’t know (because it hasn’t been reported) is whether or not PG&E shut off the power in the area of the Kinkade Fire. I suppose we’ll find out shortly.

So that’s the irony or paradox of our glorious Autumn weather: the most beautiful in the world, but so perilous, with these awful fires that ride the offshore winds and continue as long as those winds blow.


As Trump melts down, Breitbart goes full postal

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As most of you know, I put on my hazmat suit from time to time to visit Breitbart (which I fondly call BiteFart). This is part of my opposition research: I need to understand what the rightwing sickos are up to.

As their Fuehrer, Trump, continues to plunge in the polls, and evidence mounts of his criminality and utter unfitness for office, panic is spreading throughout the BiteFart ranks. You can tell they’re freaked out, because with every horror story about Trump, they revert even further into the sewer of debunked and boring old conspiracy theories.

Yes, at BiteFart, no rumor is too ridiculous to leave unturned, as long as it riles up anger among Republicans and distracts from Trump’s manifest crimes. When Trump is on the threshold of impeachment, and his own Republican Party is turning against him, there’s always—HILLARY CLINTON to bash. Indeed, you can make an exact correlation between bad news for Trump and the amount of Hillary hating at BiteFart.

And if it’s a slow news day on the Hillary front, no worries: Big Billy Barr is out there unearthing the real origins of the Mueller Probe! Yes, he’s bound and determined to discover secret, treasonous links between—what? The DNC and Ukraine? Australian intelligence services and the CIA in a nefarious plot to overthrow Trump? Barack and Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Who knows! Who cares! It’s all grist for the rightwing mill—anything to detract attention from the true catastrophe of this Trump regime and its adherents.

I’ll tell you another thing about BiteFart and the depths to which they will stoop to feed their rightwing swine: If there’s a single case of a black-skinned or brown-skinned person in America who committed a violent crime (or is alleged to), I guarantee you BiteFart will publish the story with lurid headlines. Black Man Involved in Gruesome Murder! Mexican Caught in Pedophile Ring! Never mind that on the same day a dozen white trash dudes in wife-beaters might have shot someone; you’d never know it from BiteFart.

Well, the editors at BiteFart are going to have their work increasingly cut out for them, as news on the Trump front continues to worsen for the Republican Party. They’re going to have to distract and obfuscate harder than ever—which means we can expect even more outrageous lies and insults, courtesy of white supremacists like Hannity and his ilk. That’s how they started—the rightwing—with smears, and that’s all they know how to do. They obviously can’t govern. They’re very adroit at tearing down legitimate (which is to say Democratic) government; but when they do assume power, they flail. What has Trump accomplished, except to appoint judges anointed by the Federalist Society, and pass a huge tax cut that went exclusively to the rich? His regime has been one unmitigated disaster, crowned now with the debacles of the Green Light to Turkey, the Quid Pro Quo to Ukraine, and the embarrassment (which Trump, under extreme pressure, has now tried to rescind) of holding the G7 at the Doral.

What a crowd. What a joke. This Republican Party is the worst nightmare to happen to America in my lifetime—and that includes the Vietnam War, the assassinations of the 1960s, and Nixon, who was our worst president before we were infected with Trump. These Republicans have made their pact with the devil—with Trump—and now they’re going straight to hell with him. We used to have a saying: “Good riddance to bad rubbish.” It’s still apt for our times.


Of green lights and quid pro quos

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This feels like the real thing, doesn’t it? I mean, the end of Trump. What with impeachment rolling on full steam as UkraineGate grows more scandalous by the minute—and with Trump’s incredibly horrific blunder concerning abandoning the Kurds—the fool in the White House has sealed his own doom.

Let us hope so, at any rate. Someday, all this may seem to have been inevitable. We all wondered how Trump could get away with so much bullshit, month after month, year after year, and still keep 95% of Republicans, and 38 percent of the country, behind him. The rest of us shook our heads in bewilderment. How could this horror continue? Why didn’t Republicans see?

Now, maybe they have. The Senate in particular seems to have their eyes suddenly opened; I don’t quite understand their love for the Kurds—that story may be explained someday—but I suspect it has to do with evangelicalism. Somehow, saving the Kurds is connected (in evangelical brains) to support for Israel, or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that saving the Kurds is tantamount to defeating Iran, Israel’s arch-enemy. At any rate, the evangelicals need a healthy Israel—at this point—because without Israel, there’s no place for Jesus to return to; and the Rapture, which has become a semi-official plank in the Republican Party platform, cannot happen.

Radical Christians, including Pence and Pompeo, freak out at the notion that the Rapture might not occur on schedule. Their weltanschauung cannot grasp that: they’ll do anything in order to usher in the End Days, it’s so central to their core belief. Never mind that the U.S. Constitution is awkwardly juxtaposed to the Rapture: if the Constitution is inconvenient, then ignore it. Never mind that the President of the United States is a sinner, and a grievous one at that, probably not even a believer, and undoubtedly a criminal: God moves in mysterious ways, and who’s to say that He, in His infinite wisdom, has not selected a bad man to bring about His ends? King David was no angel (to paraphrase Trump’s description of the Kurds), but God used David; in such a manner, God is using Donald J. Trump to bring about the Rapture.

What can you say about this kind of thinking? What can you say about the men who think it? Yes, they’re mentally ill. Yes, they’re delusional. But there they are, this Christian-evangelical bunch of lunatics who currently run our government.

But the funny thing is that Trump may have overplayed his hand when he counted on the evangelicals to support him in everything he did. You can’t really blame him: they stood by him through the Access Hollywood tape, through the Stormy Daniels adultery scandal, through the hush money payoffs, through Trump selling out to Putin on just about everything, through his vulgarity and bullying…through the whole panoply of Trump’s stupidity and evilness. No wonder Trump thought they’d stand by him as he sold the Kurds down the river.

Well, Trump should have studied his Rapture more thoroughly. For it turns out there’s one thing the evangelicals treasure even more than him: Jesus. Trump forced the evangelicals to choose between him and their Lord. Not surprisingly, they chose their Lord.

So the Green Light to Erdowan resulted in Turkey’s invasion of Syria, and the quid pro quo to Zelensky resulted in an impeachment inquiry. Republicans in the Senate might have stonewalled right through impeachment, were it not for the Green Light. But the Green Light made it impossible for them to do so. The House absolutely will vote to bring articles of impeachment against Trump, probably within the next month. McConnell has already said he’ll have to convene a trial. Were the Senate to vote today, there would not be enough Republican support to convict and remove from office. But a month is an awfully long time in politics, and Trump—frustrated, enraged, irrational—is going to do a lot more stupid stuff in the next 30 days; his judgment is fried. One by one, Republican constituents are going to let their Senators know that they’re comfortable with conviction and removal. One by one, Republican Senators will grow spines. These are going to be breathtaking, historic days; and for Democrats, wonderful ones.

Rest in peace, Elijah Cummings.


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