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“Focus on whatever hill you have, and hold your hill”



That advice is from Chris Newman, a labor organizer quoted in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle, in an article about how liberals are trying “to tap [the] activist energy” released in opposition to Trump’s rightwing assault on our country.

In the wake of the Womens Marches around the world, which were organized, and the weekend’s mass turnouts at U.S. airports protesting the Muslim ban, which were spontaneous, it’s clear that liberal-humane Americans are motivated as never before. I haven’t seen anything like it since the 1960s (except, possibly, for the rise of tea party, from which we can learn and are learning). But the question you see and hear everywhere—on social media, in the newspapers, on radio and T.V., and in casual conversation—is: “How do we galvanize this energy into a unified force?”

This is where Newman’s quote is so important. I love the martial analogy of taking and holding hills. The history of war is replete with such battles. My generation knew about the Battle of Pork Chop Hill (1953), in the Korean War, which was made into a great 1959 movie starring Gregory Peck. One of the most famous clashes of our own Revolutionary War was, of course, the Battle of Bunker Hill (1775), which emboldened American troops against the more numerous, battle-hardened British. The Battle of Hamburger Hill (1969), in the Vietnam War, was a defeat for the U.S., and fueled massive anti-war protests at home. More victorious was Teddy Roosevelt’s charge in the Battle of San Juan Hill (1898), during the Spanish-American War, which swept the Rough Rider into the Vice Presidency and, on the assassination of President McKinley, into the White House.

The notion of fighting for hills has deep roots in our emotive past. A hill can be encompassed, both visibly and conceptually. Unlike fighting over broad ground, a hill battle has a locus of activity and a focus of objective: moreover, once taken, a hill is more easily, and viciously, defended. Hills are high ground, with all the metaphorical notions that implies. From the top of a hill, one has a clearer, more sweeping vision of the battlefield, and a place to plant a flag.

All these notions come into play in Newman’s quote. “Hold your hill.” This can be daunting, I concede. One Oklahoman I heard from said his local Democratic Party organization is so toothless, it’s hardly worth being part of. If you’re living in an intensely red county in Mississippi or Kansas, you might be forgiven for feeling helpless and hopeless. Given the power of the Presidency, and the fact that the Congress is held by Republicans, and that Trump any day now will nominate a rightwinger—and probably a religious fanatic—to the Supreme Court, any of us might wish (as a friend of mine observed) to just head off to the desert or the mountains. Pack a case of wine, some medicinal herb, and forget about the outside world.

No! This is called defeatism. Things are not so bad as some think. We actually possess many hills to hold. California is a hill; so is New York State, Washington State, Oregon, and other blue states. Already our Governors are mobilizing in unprecedented ways. So are American Mayors, from New York to San Francisco, Los Angeles to Boston, Phoenix to Tallahassee, Chicago to Baltimore and Houston. Senate Democrats, feeling the heat from the street, are gathering their strength for what lies ahead. Hillary Clinton won 88 of the country’s one hundred largest counties, resulting in nearly 3 million more votes than Trump. She won the popular vote in a landslide: if you’re feeling defeated, remind yourself of that hill. We have also a good portion of the media (and bravo to the New York Times for using the word “lie” in reference to Trump). School teachers, scientists, unions, artists, high tech, women, college grads, the entertainment industry, the LGBT community, Blacks, Asians, Latinos, Muslims—all these groups supported Hillary Clinton, who would have won red states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan were it not for voter suppression by Republicans. This, too, is a hill we hold: There are far more of us than there are of them.

So hold your hill! Wherever you are, and however small it seems, it could be the hill that turns the tide of battle!

[I wrote the preceding the day before Trump’s Monday Night Massacre. Consider it another hill.]

Trump and Putin: the secret tapes



[President Trump spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Here is an unedited transcript of the final few minutes of that conversation.]

VP: So was there anything else you wanted to talk about, Donald?

DT: Yes, Vlad, there is. I, uh, you know—I wanted to ask you—

VP: Yes?

DT: Well, you know, it’s that, uh, dossier. You know, the pictures? The tape recordings?

VP: Yes, Donald? What about them?

DT: Well, I just wanted to make sure you, uh—you know, they won’t be, uh, you know, released

VP: Now, Donald, we’ve talked about this before.

DT: Yes, I know Vlad, but I’m taking a lot of heat over here, and if the wrong people—say, my enemies at the New York Times ever got their hands on that stuff, it would be—how do you say “sayonara” in Russian?

VP: Proschay.

DT: Whatever. So you have to promise me—

VP: Look Donald, I don’t have to promise you anything. You know the deal. How this turns out is entirely in your hands. You’re in charge, Donald, not me.

DT: Well, I’m doing my best, Vlad. I’m trying to get the sanctions dropped. But frankly, my own Republicans are squeezing me. That damn McCain, and that fairy Graham. And don’t even get me started on the French, Brits and Germans. They’re holding fast on the Minsk agreement, Vlad. Theresa May told me she’ll never budge on that.

VP: Donald, are you a leader, or a loser? Seriously, you must learn how to lead, to bend people to your will. Like me. I am strong leader.

DT: Yes, you are, Vlad. Very strong. And I admire that. I really do. But I can’t just snap my fingers and get everybody to see you the way I do. I’m trying, but…

VP: Donald, I happen to have the photos in front of me right now. Right here on desk. There are six of them. Let me look at them, closely. You know, every time I see them, I see different things. For instance, on this one, where blonde girl is squatting over brunette, I never noticed that your pants are open, and you’re—

DT:  Uh, Vlad, I really don’t—

VP: And this one, where you’re down on your knees, beside toilet, and what’s that on your head? A maid’s cap?

DT: Vlad—

VP: And this one, where you’ve actually managed to squeeze into brunette’s lingerie. You know, Donald, you really should think about losing some weight. We have a diet here, the Crimean diet we call it, that’s low on carbs. Think how much it would add to your image if you could go without shirt and show off your six pack, Donald. Like me!

DT: Thank you, Vlad, I appreciate your concern. But back to the dossier…

VP: Oh, Donald, before I forget: Do you know what my security forces bring me this morning?

DT: Uh—

VP: More photos, Donald! Not of you, personally, but equally interesting, I must say.

DT: What are they of, Vlad? I’d love it if you could dig something up on Graham.

VP: It’s Melania, Donald. Your beauteous wife. From 10 years ago. Apparently they were taken in hotel room in Ljubljana. Quite compromising, Donald, quite risqué. What do you think I should do with new photos, Donald?

DT: I don’t know, Vlad.

VP: Look, Donald, I have to go. President Duterte is on the line. A fine President, don’t you think? One who knows how to run country. So, good bye, old friend Donald—Proschay! And do give my best to Melania.

Lessons to The Resistance from Churchill



In February, 1941, as the Second World War ground into its seventeenth month, Great Britain was on her heels. Hitler was master of the continent of Europe; Italy had joined on his side; France had fallen. German bombers were reducing entire neighborhoods of London, Coventry, Birmingham, Liverpool and other English cities to rubble in the Blitz. Hitler’s U-boats were sinking enormous tonnages of goods being shipped to and from Britain, an island nation dependent on such trade for its lifeline. The German Wehrmacht–Army, Navy and Air Force–was poised to invade the British Isles. In the Libyan desert, Rommel’s Afrika Corps was routing the British army. In the Far East, Japan was mobilizing, threatening Imperial possessions such as Singapore and Hong Kong (both of which they soon seized).

In short, it was not a good time for the British, or for Winston Churchill, who had been called to be Prime Minister less than a year earlier. Churchill’s strategy—the only one he could truthfully proclaim to the British people—was heavy on rhetorical promises, but light on specifics: He vowed to “fight on the seas and oceans…in the air…on the beaches…on the landing grounds…in the fields and in the streets…in the hills…”. Despite the confident phrases, Churchill understood that Britain’s only chance was for America to step in, and so he added these immortal words: “We shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”

Ten months later—in early December, 1941—that is exactly what happened, as America entered the war. But neither Churchill nor anyone else could foresee that possibility, and so, on that night of Feb. 9, 1941, from London, Churchill gave a major speech entitled “Put your confidence in us.” It was addressed, ostensibly, to “the British nation and the Empire,” but its real intended target was 3,000 miles to the west, across the Atlantic: the United States of America, and particularly its leader, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who the previous November had just been elected to an unprecedented third term. On that bleak night, with German bombs still falling across Britain, Churchill bluntly conceded the difficulties Britain faced. Germany remained ascendant, he said, outlining what further conquering Hitler was likely to accomplish. “He may carry havoc into the Balkan States; he may tear great provinces out of Russia; he may march to the Caspian; he may march to the gates of India. All this will avail him nothing…In order to win the war Hitler must destroy Great Britain.”

Churchill’s prognostications soon came true, with the exception of the Germans reaching India (not that they didn’t try). In the event, Hitler never did dare to invade Great Britain. America did enter the war, after Pearl Harbor, and what Churchill called “the Prussian yoke and the Nazi name” did go down to utter defeat (which would not have happened without the Soviet Union’s extraordinary resistance). But it took everything the British had to remain steadfast in the face of such horrible and demoralizing setbacks. At the conclusion of that Feb. 9 speech, Churchill issued one of his most stirring perorations. “We shall not fail or falter; we shall not weaken or tire. Neither the sudden shock of battle, nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down.”

Great Britain survived Hitler’s threat; she simply would not let him win. The British stared down and fought the dictator, whose martial aspirations ended with a self-inflicted bullet to the brain. I need not point out the similarities between those legendary times and our own, here in America, where a majority of our people voted against this current President, whose opponents are armed in this fight with little more than resolve. But resolve is the mother of victory. For us, following the glorious Women’s Marches around the world, this—as Churchill said in another context—“is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

And so let us roll on. For this new President to succeed in his nefarious designs, he must first destroy our confidence and unity, just as Hitler had first to break Britain before he could conquer the world. This, Trump is desperately trying to do; he knows the legitimacy of his Presidency is at stake, and it’s freaking him out. But like the English in 1941, “We shall not fail or falter. We shall not weaken or tire.”  This is Winston Churchill’s lesson to The Resistance.

Trump to Sioux: “Go fuck yourselves”



Let me tell you something about the Great Sioux Nation. This is a Native American people that settled the upper Great Plains, in what are now Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Manitoba, Saskatchawan and—more to the point—the Dakotas. The name Sioux comes from a Sioux word meaning “little snakes,” but there was nothing little about their ferocity. The various Sioux tribes fought back relentlessly against the incursions of the Anglos into their territories in the nineteenth century: the Dakota (or Lakota) wars of the mid-1860s, Red Cloud’s War of 1866-1868, the Great Sioux War of 1876, and the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.

The Sioux always had great warrior-chieftains: Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, Rain-in-the-Face. Crazy Horse (who defeated Custer’s forces at the Little Bighorn) defined the Nation’s attitude toward the land they had lived upon for millennia when he observed, “One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.” This insistence on defending their land was recently etched into the history books with the stubborn resistance of the Standing Rock Sioux, the dominant tribe in the Dakotas, against efforts to build the so-called Dakota Access oil pipeline, whose planned route brought it adjacent to the tribe’s reservation and threatened, in their view, their water supply from Lake Oahe. Starting last April, the Sioux established camps in the region to begin a peaceful protest of the project. By last November, the protests had erupted into violence with local police, as the Sioux were joined by thousands of non-Indian supporters, including at least 2,000 U.S. military veterans who formed a “human shield” between protesters and police. In early December, the U.S. Army, prompted by President Obama, stopped further work on the pipeline, leading some to call it a victory for the Standing Rock.

But most people knew what was going to happen next: Donald Trump had been a huge supporter of the pipeline and had promised to support it if he were elected, which he was. And so, on Tuesday, Trump issued an executive order ordering work on the Dakota Pipeline to be resumed.

Does anyone imagine that the Sioux are going to be cowed? This proud people, this warrior people, who for decades took on the American Army and inflicted upon it grievous losses? Of course not. Immediately following Trump’s unilateral move, they vowed in no uncertain terms to continue their resistance.

“We can’t back down now,” said a Sioux elder, even as other tribes around the country promised to help them as the protests flare up again. The Sioux said they did not want violence, but violence seems inevitable, even though local police said they have “no plans to forcibly remove people from the campsite.” But it’s hard to believe confrontation won’t lead to arrests and, possibly, bloodshed. As the camp swells from its current population of 500-600 to ten thousand, twenty thousand—who knows how many Americans will show up in solidarity, fueled by anti-Trumpism, once Spring arrives?—the pipeline’s owner, Energy Transfer Partners (which donated millions to Trump) is going to have to decide how rough to play—and so will this Trump administration. The right, predictably, already is gearing up for the fight: one of their main propaganda tools, the Wall Street Journal, in their lead editorial yesterday, called the Sioux’s claims about their water “fake news,” an insult, yes, but also a howler, coming from one of the twin pillars of Rupert Murdoch’s fake news clearinghouse (the other being Fox “News”).

So let’s unsheathe our swords and gird for battle. We all know Trump loves a good fight. He hasn’t really faced a tough opponent yet. But in the Sioux, he confronts a daunting, and dauntless, foe; their martial history suggests that they will not back down. When they talk about not selling their land, they’re dead serious. Things are about to get ugly up there on the Dakota plains, as a fractured America becomes even more broken and civil unrest mounts, instigated by an angry, divisive, uncompromising and reactionary demagogue.

CDC capitulates to the new boss



Did you hear this? The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), the nation’s lead government agency for protecting the public’s health, has “postponed” a major meeting of scientists it had called to investigate the effects of climate change on health.

The Atlanta meeting had been scheduled for next month and reflected the CDC’s concern that global warming is likely to pose major risks to huge swaths of the Earth’s population. On their own website, the CDC specifically points out that Human activities are mainly responsible for the drastic warming we’ve seen in recent decades,” and they define the following places as being at particular health risk from such threats as rising sea levels, melting glaciers, extreme heat, and changing precipitation patterns, including drought:

  • Poor communities
  • Small islands and coastal regions
  • Developing countries
  • Megacities
  • Mountain regions
  • Polar regions

Well, that’s pretty much half the planet, isn’t it?

The CDC long has studied the impact on health by such weather events. For instance, vector-borne diseases, like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus, may be accelerated by climate change, and air quality may be lowered, due to increased wildfires and ozone. Given the CDC’s mission, which includes identifying preventable health problems and conducting research on disease prevention, the Climate Change and Health Summit—which was attracting scientists from around the world—fell right into the agency’s bailiwick.

And now this postponement. It has caused consternation around the world, as scientists—most of whom already made plans to attend—are forced to scramble and wonder what caused the CDC to change its mind. The agency didn’t explain its reasons, but here’s a hint. “Global warming…is a con,” Trump told Fox News. And on twitter, he said, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Again, on twitter: “Global warming is a total, and very expensive, hoax!”

Who runs the CDC? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Whom did Trump just nominate to be Secretary of HHS? Georgia Republican congressman Tom Price. What do we know about his views on climate change? He called the science of global warming “allegedly settled” rather than established, as most climate scientists believe it is. He has consistently voted against Democratic measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions. He’s an artful dodger who knows how to avoid answering a question that makes him uncomfortable. Last week, during Senate confirmation hearings, he insisted that “from a scientific standpoint,” the effect of human behavior on climate change “needs to be studied and evaluated.” Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Except that most scientists—including those at the CDC—have concluded that the time for “study and evaluation” is over, and it’s time for action. When a Republican says he’s in favor of “study and evaluation” about climate change, what he means is: “Let’s just kick this can down the road forever.” (This stalling, based on ideological beliefs rather than science, is disturbingly reminiscent of the CDC’s behavior in the early and mid-1980s, when it was appallingly lax in responding to the AIDS epidemic while the anti-gay Reagan was President.)

One cannot escape the inevitable conclusion that the CDC’s top brass decided to “postpone” the climate change conference because they didn’t want to piss off their new bosses. They knew that Trump probably would have cancelled the conference anyway. Yes, readers, this is the point that’s been reached: Trump, who is a tool of the anti-science Biblical crowd if not a true believer himself, now has cast such a climate of fear onto scientific research that the CDC is censoring itself. What cowards.

You recall that CDC quote I cited earlier? “Human activities are mainly responsible for the drastic warming we’ve seen in recent decades.” How much longer do you think it will remain on their website after Secretary Price takes over? Tick tick…

We now know Trump’s Achilles heel: “Alternative facts”



Chuck Todd for once went beyond his usual “Let’s be nice and fair to everyone, Democrat and Republican alike,” when he confronted Kellyanne Conway on Sunday over Sean Spicer’s bogus claim concerning the inauguration. Still, Chuck couldn’t manage to say the word “lie.” The best he could come up with was “falsehood.”

Well, that’s better than nothing. But, really, the legitimate media—and by this, I exclude Fox, where poor Brett Baier does his best but doesn’t have a chance—has to do a far better job calling out this administration’s lies. And you know what? There are hopeful signs they’re doing just that.

We’ll see how Chuck Todd fares in coming days. But more and more writers are addressing this issue of the Trump administration’s fundamental disregard of facts in favor of Conway’s “alternative facts,” and I can’t recall another time in American history—either that I’ve personally lived through or read about—where the conversation about truth and lies has become so pertinent.

I think it’s fair to say that most of the reporters who cover politics, even the Republicans, know that Trump is a congenital liar. They’re used to lies from politicians, of course, since all politicians do it; lies are the vernacular of politics. But what Trump and his surrogates, like Conway and Spicer, do on a routine basis is far beyond mere lying. Kellyanne Conway gave a garden-variety lie when she said “People don’t care” about Trump releasing his tax returns; actually, 74% of Americans want him to.

But when Spicer, Conway and Trump insist that Trump’s inauguration drew the biggest crowd in history—and comparative photos, shot from the same vantage point, of Obama’s and Trump’s clearly prove this not to be the case, by a wide margin—that is not simply a lie. It is a willful distortion of reality, Orwellian in scope, insulting to intelligence, and violently arrogant because it is so easily disproved.

We’ve come to expect this sort of thing from Trump, the original birther, to whom lies come so easily. We’ve also come to expect a press corps that’s complacent and easily intimidated by powerful politicians. Spicer again lied about the inaugural attendance numbers in his first official press briefing yesterday. Then he lied about lying, claiming that “Our intention is never to lie to you.” But he had the media cowed: nobody really followed through, and there wasn’t a furor in the briefing room, as there should have been.

We have to ask, Why not? Reporters are employees, and very often their bosses are powerful publishers who are conservative Republicans, or the country club chairmen of the boards of the conglomerates that own the TV networks. One reason for media timidity in the face of Republican lies, then, is the fear of being fired. Another is what I alluded to above: they get cowed by a Presidential press secretary like Spicer or a powerful aide, like Conway, much less by the President himself. They don’t want to be personae non gratae, locked out of the room. It would affect their jobs. This is exactly what Conway threatened after Todd confronted her: “We’ll have to re-examine this relationship,” she told him when he pressed her, meaning that she—and anyone else from the Trump administration—just might stop showing up on Meet the Press, which would hurt the program’s ratings.

Journalists, print and electronic, have got to get over this anachronism that they can be impartial reporters of the news. This used to work, but it doesn’t anymore, because the Republican Party, which used to occasionally resort to lies, now grovels in them. A media outlet that pretends that true statements and false statements are somehow equivalent, and debatable, is a disaster and an embarrassment to journalism: look at CNN.

What can you do? Contact the big cable networks when you see their on-air talent let Republicans get away with lies. And don’t forget your local media outlets. TV anchors are hired because of their looks, not their journalistic skills. This issue of fake news, of alternative facts, is the first crack in Trump’s façade—his Achilles heel. Just look how defensive he is over it. It’s possible we can splinter some of his more moderate supporters away from him, honest, well-intentioned people who may be conservative but really don’t want to see a pathological liar in the White House.

The Women’s Marches



Saturday’s massive turnout for the Women’s Marches around the country and the world, which brought millions upon millions of people together in protest of the new American regime, made history. Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 will long be remembered for the record crowds, which were entirely peaceful, and for the way we finally stood up to a year of being bullied and misled. We have thrown down the gantlet to Trump and his minions: The line has been drawn. You are an illegitimate President, Mr. Trump, and you are on notice that the American people are fighting back.

And now, on a related topic:

Does Character Count?

We are assured by his friends and supporters that Donald J. Trump is really a different person from the angry, vengeful insulter who stalked the campaign trails of America, hurling libels at his many perceived enemies, making false statements, striking the most aggressive poses even at times when he easily could have been conciliatory, and telling lie after lie after lie.

“That’s not the real Trump,” his friends tell us. “In person, he’s actually kind, soft-spoken and caring, with a great heart. Don’t be fooled by how he ran. Watch what he does.”

Really? If it walks like a duck…

I was talking to a dear friend on Inauguration Day, a lifelong Democratic woman who concedes that she has a certain sympathy with the tea party and with Trump. Her main concern is that politicians of all parties run for office on promises to make life better for “the people,” and then do nothing except enrich themselves at the public coffer. This message was a huge part of Trump’s campaign spiel; it appealed to many who felt the same way. Surely, they reasoned, Trump is so rich, we need have no concern he will do things for his own benefit. And so, my friend told me, she agrees with Trump, on this and some other issues.

So when this dear friend told me she was planning on participating in the Women’s March against Trump, I asked her why, since, according to her, he’s right.

She took umbrage and responded, her voice rising in tone, “Because he’s a bad man!”

This is the thing. We’ve seen it from Day One: the arrogance, the smears and slanders, the fact-free rants, the disinformation, the pandering to the worst instincts of the American people, the sexual predation, the anti-Mexican rhetoric, the anti-Islamic demagoguery, the mocking of that disabled reporter, the falsehoods, the continued questioning of Obama’s birthplace, the depreciation of science, the thin skin that showed the insecurity and resentment roiling inside him, the flipping off of more than half the country that voted for Hillary, the palling around with white supremacists, the wink-wink at homophobic groups, the willing misunderstanding of history, the dismissal of expertise, the hubris and authoritarian tendencies, the impeachable collaboration with the Russians, and what seems like sheer vindictiveness when it comes to undoing President Obama’s legacy: It all testifies to a character that is bad.

But does character still count in a President? His fans might argue that, No, it doesn’t. What counts, they aver, are his policies, not his personality: if he can build that wall, deport the illegal immigrants, overturn Obamacare, cut taxes, make government smaller, eliminate regulations, create jobs, crush the coastal elites, restore family values, make better trade deals, destroy ISIS and “make America great again,” then who cares about his character? If he’s a schmuck, at least he’s their schmuck. In their own naïve way, these supporters have reached the same position Winston Churchill did in the early days of World War II (although they’ve probably never read him and may never even have heard of him); when asked why he was supporting the Soviet Union—Churchill’s lifelong bête noir—after Nazi Germany invaded her in June, 1941, Churchill replied:

“If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

As much as he hated Hitler (Churchill implied), he hated the devil even more. This is how, in politics as in war, strange bedfellows may lay down with each other.

My point is that even Republicans understand the serious inadequacies of Trump’s character, but they are willing to overlook their own reservations because he agrees with their positions. That this makes them—let us be blunt about it—hypocrites is clear, but beside the point. “Perhaps it is a little hypocritical to pardon his moral lapses,” they say, “but if you were trapped in a burning house and a fireman rushed in to save you, would you first demand to know about his moral philosophy?”

Fair enough. But America is not a burning house. By every measure you can think of, things are better—far better—than they were when Barack Obama took office. He successfully reversed the Great (Republican) Recession: unemployment is the lowest it’s been in many years as the number of jobs explodes, the gross domestic product is rising, household income, including for the middle class, is up, inflation is fully under control, the poverty rate is falling, the wage gap between men and women is narrowing, the number of uninsured Americans is way down, violent crime in the U.S. is falling, our air and water are cleaner than ever, the U.S. is making rapid progress in fighting climate change including the Paris Agreement, and of course we have the Iranian nuclear deal that has made the world safer and the end of two major ground wars (although both Iraq and Afghanistan remain problems the new President will have to deal with).

No mean achievements! Not that any Republican will ever give Obama credit, and as these tremendous trends continue into 2017 and beyond, we can be sure that Trump will pretend he caused them to happen—and be believed by his low-information supporters.

Which brings us back to character, or the lack of it. I like this definition of the word “character,” from a non-profit educational group:

Character is a pattern of behavior, thoughts and feelings based on universal principles, moral strength, and integrity – plus the guts to live by those principles every day. Character is evidenced by your life’s virtues and the “line you never cross.” Character is the most valuable thing you have, and nobody can ever take it away.

“…the line you never cross.” Barack Obama never crossed that line into vile indecency because he had—has—character. Donald J. Trump crosses it every day; he lives on the other side of the line. He does not have good character. And character counts.

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