Monday, April 23, 2018

MSNBC: History Rewritten While U Wait

Before you watch the Morning Joe crew drag modern American political history into a soccer stadium and shoot it in the head yet again, it might be helpful for newer readers to get a good, clear idea of the sheer scale of the lies that Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and their cast of scoundrels and sycophants spin for their audience every single day.

To do that, I need you to take a good look at this editorial from The New York Times and note the date.

28 years ago.
The Politics of Slash and Burn
Published: September 20, 1990

'Sick.'' ''Traitors.'' ''Bizarre.'' ''Self-serving.'' ''Shallow.'' ''Corrupt.'' ''Pathetic.'' ''Shame.'' The group that urged political candidates to use these epithets has since regretted suggesting the word ''traitors,'' in response to inquiries from the press. But the others were allowed to stand; they appear in a glossary that a conservative Republican group recently mailed to Republican state legislative candidates.

The group is Gopac, the G.O.P. Political Action Committee. Its general chairman is Representative Newt Gingrich. With the pamphlet, ''Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,'' comes a letter from Mr. Gingrich himself. Its message to candidates: Step up invective. Use words like these to describe opponents. These words work.

Mr. Gingrich's injunction represents the worst of American political discourse...
And, as history has shown, this carefully-calculated Republican strategy of doubling and re-doubling down on Nixon's Southern Strategy of pandering to white rage, racism and paranoia with each election cycle paid off especially handsomely in four years later, when the GOP eagerly turned the keys to the Party of Lincoln over to scum like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh.

Again, note the date.

From The New York Times 24 years ago.

24 years ago.
Republicans Get a Pep Talk From Rush Limbaugh

BALTIMORE, Dec. 10— To all the advice for the new Republicans coming to Congress, add this from Rush Limbaugh: A hostile press corps lurks inside the Beltway.

"You will never ever be their friends," the talk-show host warned most of the 73 Republican freshmen at a dinner here tonight. "They don't want to be your friends. Some female reporter will come up to one of you and start batting her eyes and ask you to go to lunch. And you'll think, 'Wow! I'm only a freshman. Cokie Roberts wants to take me to lunch. I've really made it!' " The audience laughed.

"Seriously," he added. "Don't fall for this. This is not the time to get moderate. This is not the time to start trying to be liked."

The freshman class, which included not a single "femi-Nazi," one of Mr. Limbaugh's favorite epithets for supporters of women's rights, whooped and applauded, proving itself one big fan club of the man it believes was primarily responsible for the Republican avalanche in November.

Mr. Limbaugh was made an honorary member of the class as its members tonight finished a three-day orientation here sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and Empower America, two conservative Washington research organizations.

Barbara Cubin, an incoming freshman from Wyoming, told Mr. Limbaugh that because 74 percent of the nation's newspapers had endorsed Democrats, "talk radio, with you in the lead, is what turned the tide." On behalf of the women in the class, she gave him a plaque that said, "Rush Was Right." He also received a pin like the ones the freshmen wore, saying, "Majority Maker."

"Rush is as responsible for what happened here as much as anyone," said Vin Weber, a former Representative from Minnesota, now of Empower America. Citing a poll taken after the election by Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster, Mr. Weber said that people who listened to 10 hours or more a week of talk radio voted Republican by a 3-to-1 margin. "Those are the people who elected the new Congress," he said...
Now, cut to a quarter of century of later where the long, dark road of madness, sedition, lies and ruin down which the Party of Limbaugh and Gingrich and Atwater and Rove and DeLay and Cheney and McConnell and Ryan and Fox News and Hate Radio have been giddily plunging has led, at last, to  President Stupid.

And what do we find?

We find the Morning Joe rogue's gallery looking straight into the camera and pretending that this all started five minutes ago, that it's something called "Trumpism" and not Republicanism, and that it all happened completely without warning.
MIKE BARNICLE:  Jeremy, that point that Joe just raised, it seems to many observers that Trumpism in its purest form as it evolves seems to be dealing less with ideology than personal destruction of the opponent. is that accurate? 
We find the Morning Joe crew cashing those sweet, sweet Comcast paychecks pretending that, however monstrous the GOP becomes, the real danger is that we Libtards might starting punching back against the fascist, democracy-slaying killbot that the Republican Party has become. 
JEREMY PETERS:  That's exactly right. that's what has so many people in both parties worried because they see this catching on in the Democratic party as well. there are some prominent Democrats who have argued that the only way to beat Trump and the Republicans in 2018 and 2020 is to get down to his level.  This whole notion of "when they go low, we go high" just doesn't apply in politics anymore,  a lot of people have come to believe. I don't know that this is an enduring shift in politics. I think Joe is exactly right. at the end of the day, people need something more to grasp onto than just anger and insults. so I don't know. I just don't know.

In other words, this is the Beltway, sir.  When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.

"See, it's stuff like this that gives me trust issues." -- Nick Fury

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Professional Left Podcast #437

"The press is supposed to watch the powerful. And not throw in with them."
-- Roger Ailes
Don't forget to visit our new website -- -- for all of the sweet bells and whistles:  there are links to donate to our podcast work at that site, as well as links to our swingin' Zazzle merch store,  our respective blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Kittehs! and much more. Many thanks once again to @theologop for building it all for us!


The Professional Left is brought to you by our wholly imaginary "sponsors" 
and real listeners like you!

The Return of America's Sad Clown of Centrism

As I have mentioned once or twice, of all the revered establishment institutions which the Reign of President Stupid has strained to the breaking point (or simply blown to flinders), nothing has the Beltway chattering classes more completely freaked out than gaping cracks which have appeared in the load bearing walls of their High and Holy Church of Both Sides Do It.  That mighty cathedral of false equivalence where the Sober Men of The Establishment have hidden out for decades in decadent comfort, prattling about the K'rupt Duopoly, the Culture of Washington and how awful it is that Both Sides have let things get so out of hand...

...while outside the Republican Party danced nekkid around the roaring bonfires they were making out of civility. comity and good governance.

Until, at last, their Il Douche arrived:

The Nigerian Prince Who Was Promised.

He whose path to the White House had been made straight by decades of open, smirking Republican perfidy and sedition:

Because Donald Trump did not, not, not spring full-formed from the head Steve Bannon 16 months ago.  Donald Trump is only the latest and worst product of a Republican Monster Machine whose construction has been aided and abetted every step along the way by a Beltway media that was always only too happy to looked the other way as the GOP used to dead husk of the Party of Lincoln as an egg sac in which to incubate a genuine, out-and-proud American Fascist Party.

So how bad have things gotten for the Cult of Both Siderism now that, as Jennifer Rubin wrote just this week, "The GOP ‘Has Become the Caricature the Left Always Said It Was"?  Now that the Republican rough beast we on the Left have been warning about for decades is here?  That its hour has come 'round at last? That it has finally slouched its way through both houses of Congress and all the way up to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?

Well, as one annoying Liberal jerk once wrote, 
[The] rapid-fire Republican bullshit that The Bastard President has unleashed on our national politics has reached such a toxic cadence so fast that the Quislings of the Beltway High and Holy Cult of Both Siderism have had to resort to fortifying their house of worship with whatever material they can find at hand.  But since there is no usable material at hand, rather than finally folding up their filthy little scam and getting out of town, they are using whatever ridiculous little scraps...they can pull out of their collective asses.
How bad is it now that they have run out of places to hide, or lies to tell that anyone in their right mind still believes?

So bad that Shuck Todd had to decant Ron Fournier out of the PR scam respectable public relations outfit he now fronts and put him on the teevee one more time just so he could -- as in the days of old -- once again speak aloud the Magic Conjure Words that make the Beltway media's toes collectively curl with nostalgic delight (to which I have added a little emphasis to draw the eye.)

FOURNIER: I think the bigger problem here is that our institutions, including the presidency and the justice department are under attack first by just the forces of change. Our country and society is changing so fast that our institutions aren't keeping up with us. And you have two parties that wage asymmetrical warfare against the institutions when it suits their needs. that's going on in a big way.

FOURNIER:  The real problem is what is being done to the institutions of the presidency and the Justice Department when you have attacks coming from political parties and other institutions, don't you think?

FOURNIER: [Comey] is tied up in in knots. To my point, you had in that same election for several weeks you had the Democratic Party attacking Comey and for several weeks you had the Republican Party attacking Comey. You can't win for losing when we have this asymmetrical warfare against the institutions...

Mr. Fournier is so far gone that it never even occurs to him that the criticism from Democrats was entirely within-bounds and legitimate by any standard you care to name, and that attacks from Republicans are the hysterical reaction of a corrupt and depraved enterprise trying like mad to protect itself from exposure to the light of day.

Also I gotta say that Shuck Todd's desperate, verbal flailing were fucking adorable.  I especially enjoyed his attempts to explain the existence of a terrible Partisan Trap in which he and his noble fellow Beltway pundits him now find themselves ensnared as if it were some immutable and mysterious law of physics  --
TODD: It is as always tell people, I am aware it's the a trap. It doesn't matter. The trap was built around me.  I didn't walk into it. it just is.
--  as opposed to a moat he and his fellow Beltway goof built around their High and Holy Church of Both Sides Do It for the expressed purpose of keeping vituperative foul-mouthed Liberals like you and me the hell out.

And thus once again America's Sad Clown of Centrism proves that you can take the hack out of the Beltway, but you can never take the Beltway out of the hack.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Gradually a Shot Rang Out

Don't worry kids; James Comey is going to be just fine.  In fact, he is well on his way to become one of the Beltway Elect.

After all, he reads just the right books.
He knows how to clutch just the right pearls in just right way (from the WaPo):
Comey says he was driven from the Republican Party by Trumpian politics

Well, here’s a bit of kindling for this fire: Comey now says he’s a Republican no longer.

He made that revelation in an interview with ABC News.

“In your heart of hearts, do you still consider yourself a Republican?” asked Brad Mielke, the host of the “Start Here” podcast.

“No,” Comey replied. “The Republican Party has left me and many others. I need no better evidence than their new website — which I think is ‘LyinComey,’ maybe? — attacking me. … I just think they’ve lost their way, and I can’t be associated with it.
He'll be declaring himself an "independent" and keynoting No Lables conclaves in 3...2...1...

But most important of all. he knows exactly to the day, longitude and latitude where boundary of Official Beltway "OMFG, The Republican Party Has Lost It's Fucking Mind!Event Horizon --
In general relativity, an event horizon is a boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer. In layman's terms, it is defined as the shell of "points of no return
-- is required to be (also from the WaPo with emphasis added):
“When did you see that change take place?” Mielke asked.

“Probably over the Trump presidency, and, probably began during the campaign of ’16?” Comey said. “Came to the conclusion that these people don’t represent anything I believe in.”
Yeah, except his Republican Party's crimes against our democracy have been dancing right past Mr. Comey's nose every single fucking day for virtually his entire adult life.

And yet, just like the rest of the Beltway Elect, Mr. Comey would have you believe that his Republican Party just suddenly snapped 16 months ago -- suddenly went from a responsible governing party to a dungheap of traitorous bigots and depraved imbeciles overnight.

Wow.  How utterly predictable.  

I guess it's a good thing the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation never had job where, y'know, investigating things was terribly important.

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Thursday, April 19, 2018

David Brooks Is Off Today

Presumably relaxing by the pool, telling his interns to bring him the finest Both Siderist Podcasts in all the land!

So definitely not this one, a fresh episode of which will be up this afternoon.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Books You Will Never See: A Lying Royalty

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How I Wish We Had Been Wrong: First They Came for the File Clerks

Thirteen years ago, Liberals like me used the 10th Anniversary of the tragic Oklahoma City Bombing as one more opportunity to sound the alarm as loud as we could that any distinction between the rabid, unhinged anti-government ravings of Christian American terrorist Timothy McVeigh and the everyday language of the Republican Party had vanished.

Thirteen years later, things have only gotten worse.

First They Came for the File Clerks

Then they came for the Family Planning Clinics. 

Then they came for the “activist” judges.

Happy Anniversary, Moderate Republicans!

It’s been 10 years to the day that Ultra Right Wing Hero First Class Timothy McVeigh murdered 168 Americans in your name.

After a decade of a booming, non-stop torrent of “Government Is Evil and Must Be Annihilated!” rhetoric vomiting out of the mouths of Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Dick Armey, Jerry Falwell, Bob Doren, McVeigh decided to take them at their word...

...and you fucktards threw up your hands in horror at the blank, White, zombie, unremarkable face of tax-hatin’, Clinton-hatin’, government hatin’ Tim McVeigh and shouted, “Not Us!”

Shame, shame. To get your tax cuts you eagerly hiked your skirt up and let the Right Wing fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you and fuck you...and then, when your Love Child showed up at your door, wrapped it bloody arms around you and said, “I wuuuv you Mommy!” you gave the poor thing the back of your hand?

Where’s all that sassy talk of “Personal Responsibility” now?

Sure it’s grotesque. Hell, we’ve been telling you that it’s downright terrifying for 15-20 years now. What do you expect? It takes after its Father...but it sure as shit has your eyes.

Now a decade is a long time. A VERY long time. Hell, whole governments come and go in intervals shorter than that, so one must assume that to be taken seriously, you've must have used the last decade to aggressively purge your party of the radical lunatics that found such a big, expensive Welcome Wagon basket waiting for them at GOP Central Command. That bigotry and aggressively ignorant Fundamentalism is no longer synonymous with “Republican”. So as a proffer of your good faith – that you really aren’t the$2 Blowjob Whore of the Right Wing – tell me...

...has Tom DeLay been banished yet?
Falwell shunned?
Has Limbaugh lost so many dittoheads that he has to sell used RVs to support his hillbilly heroin monkey?
Dobson’s gone?
Is Creationism buried under Homophobia on the ash-heap of history? And those that spout that hateful nonsense, laughingstocks?
Robertson and Wildmont, kicked to the curb?
Randall Terry has been disavowed?
And no one would ever, ever think to threaten, say, judges, if you disagree with them on a ruling here or there?

On April 20, 1995 it became unambiguously clear where the demagogues and swine were leading your party, and the terribly price tag came with it. You’ve had a decade to excise the cancer that you and only you allowed to grow inside your party, and you didn’t do it. Instead you chose to water it. Feed it. Cultivate it. Harvest it.

You encouraged the carcenoma to blossom and metastasize and because you voluntarily chose to do this, you have accepted Tim McVeigh as your child.

And Eric Rudolph as your child.
And Randall Terry as your child.
And Fred Phelps as your child.
And Ann Coulter as your child.
And so many more. So many, many more.

You are obviously very proud of what your children have accomplished: if not, you would have acted otherwise.

So embrace them.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Button, Button

I posted this 12 years ago, almost to the day.

It breaks my heart that it stands up as well or better now than it did back then.

Here is an excerpt:
You know Richard Matheson.

You may not know you know him, but you do. You’ve read or seen his work.

It’s unavoidable.

He, for example, wrote a fair chunk of the original “Twilight Zone” episodes. He wrote “I Am Legend”, which was brought to the screen first as “The Omega Man”, and to which pretty much every zombie/vampire-army movie ever shot owes a fat debt.

“The Shrinking Man” (they added “Incredible” to the title when they made it into a movie, because apparently a shrinking man by itself isn’t prima facie incredible enough) is his.

He did the script for Spielberg's first flick -- "Duel" -- (which, if you haven’t seen it, is “Jaws”...on land...with a big-ass truck instead of a big-ass shark.) and the script for the original teevee movie “The Night Stalker” (And, because Chris Carter knew and honored his own teevee lineage, why he created an homage to the master in the person of “Senator Matheson” on the “X-Files”.)

This list just scratches the surface. There’s a lot more, but this post isn’t my paean to Mr. Matheson. It's to put across the point that he is in the cultural groundwater. And, in this lad’s ‘umble opinion, at least one of his stories should always be included in the canon of speculative fiction that every school kid should be required to read (strapping into those "A Clockwork Orange" eyelid-spreaders if necessary), along with Jackson’s “The Lottery”, “The Flag”, Damon Knight’s "To Serve Man"...and any of a dozen wonders by Bradbury.

The specific piece by Matheson I have in mind is called “Button, Button”.

It first appeared in Playboy magazine in 1970 (See, Mom. I really was reading it for the articles.) and it's been buzzing hornet-like around in my skull very much these last many months. [After reading it] I double-dog-dare you to tell me that good science fiction is or has ever been “escapist” in any sense (emphasis added)....
The package was lying by the front door—a cube-shaped carton sealed with tape, their name and address printed by hand: “Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, 217 E. Thirty-seventh Street, New York 10016.”

Norma picked it up, unlocked the door, and went into the apartment. It was just getting dark. After she put the lamb chops in the broiler, she sat down to open the package. Inside the carton was a push-button unit fastened to a small wooden box. A glass dome covered the button. Norma tried to lift it off, but it was locked in place. She turned the unit over and saw a folded piece of paper Scotch-taped to the bottom of the box. She pulled it off: “Mr. Steward will call on you at 8:00 p.m.” Norma put the button unit beside her on the couch. She reread the typed note, smiling. A few moments later, she went back into the kitchen to make the salad.

The doorbell rang at eight o’clock. “I’ll get it,” Norma called from the kitchen. Arthur was in the living room, reading. There was a small man in the hallway. He removed his hat as Norma opened the door.

“Mrs. Lewis?” he inquired politely.

“I’m Mr. Steward.”

“Oh, yes.” Norma repressed a smile. She was sure now it was a sales pitch.

“May I come in?” asked Mr. Steward.

“I’m rather busy,” Norma said. “I’ll get you your watchamacallit, though.”

She started to turn.

“Don’t you want to know what it is?” Norma turned back.

Mr. Steward’s tone had been offensive. “No, I don’t think so,” she replied.

“It could prove very valuable,” he told her.

“Monetarily?”she challenged

Mr. Steward nodded. “Monetarily,” he said.

Norma frowned. She didn’t like his attitude.

“What are you trying to sell?” she asked.

“I’m not selling anything,” he answered.

Arthur came out of the living room.

“Something wrong”

Mr. Steward introduced himself.

“Oh, the –” Arthur pointed toward the living room and smiled. “What is that gadget anyway?”

“It won’t take long to explain,” replied Mr. Steward. “May I come in?”

“If you’re selling something—,” Arthur said.
He hesitated. “Well, why not?” he said.

They went into the living room and Mr. Steward sat in Norma’s chair. He reached into an inside coat pocket and withdrew a small sealed envelope.

“Inside here is a key to the bell- unit dome,” he said. He set the envelope on the chairside table. “The bell is connected to our office.”

“What’s it for?” asked Arthur.

“If you push the button,” Mr. Steward told him, “somewhere in the world someone you don’t know will die. In return for which you will receive a payment of $50,000.”
Let’s be clear; in America in 2006, this is not a fable. This is not a cautionary fable dressed up in science fiction nomeclature.

This is about the world, now.

The United States, now.

In 2004, when the GOP rank and file lockstepped into their polling places to re-elect liars and criminals, they pushed the button.

When they stand by and applaud reckless, useless butchery on the promise that the indiscriminate slaughter will somehow make them incrementally safer and keep their pump prices low, they push the button.

When conservatives of my acquaintence say – in all seriousness – “Fuck it. Kill ‘em all. They all hate us anyway,” they push the button.

When a drooling slab of racist slunkmeat like Michael Savage calls for wholesale homicide to the orgasmic squeals of the pig people, they stomp up and down on the button.

They push the button because they are drowning in their own fear and voting for the bastards that are holding their heads underwater. Because they are weak men. Cowardly men. Hateful men, who have lent their electoral authority to other weaklings and cowards to wholesale curbstomp brown people in their name.

Because it costs them nothing.

History gave them a chance to show the world their true faces. A chance to proceeding with the long, hard job of dealing with real enemies and real problems with care and gravity. Intelligence. Maturity. Focus.

Instead we got The Bicycle Chief and his Gang that Couldn't Loot Straight.

Twice. Fucking twice.

This was their moral acid test; one which they have failed spectacularly.

Safe in their basements, shielded by layers of greasy ass-fat and whistle-clean, fraidy-cat arsenals they will never use, kept Mommy’s-womb-safe by the gangsters and hucksters they elect and re-elect over and over and over again from having to spend a single dime or shed a single drop of blood, they have been given their heart's darkest, fondest wish: to kill brown people by remote control and have someone else pick up the tab.

Every day they push the button.

Every. Single. Day.
If the last 12 years have proven anything, it is that they will go right on smirking and sneering and pushing the button until it is slapped out of their hands once and for all.

Behold, a Tip Jar!

There's Always Work at the Post Office

For some time now, I have been hearing professional media persons waxing wistful and poetic with some variation of this kind of bosh (not an actual quote):
"There are a ton of super-ooper-duper-awesome journalists at Fox News!  A ton of them!  And sure they're angry at how Satan is running the fascist propaganda dungheap where they work, but c'mon man, they gotta work." 
It has happened often enough that I think someone should point out that when you hear such talk, you are not hearing journalists reporting the facts of a story.  You are hearing pundit break-room chatter from employees in a very small and fiercely competitive corporate media hiring/firing pool treading very lightly when discussing colleagues across the street but in the same business.  Ever wonder why Chris* Hayes and Ezra Klein would go out of their way to give a career boost to the odious Ben Domenech whenever his fortunes were flagging?  Or why the Kindly Doctor Maddow would  riff for eight solid minutes on what a goddamn saint Greta Van Sustern was, no matter what you might have heard? 

Because, as the cautionary tale of Melissa Harris-Perry demonstrated, teevee punditting is a volatile trade driven by hidden agendas and colossal egos which those in the business never share with us rubes.  And you never know who will be holding the whip-handle the next time you have to put your resume on the street.

So as a permanent media outsider let me make this perfectly clear: if you choose to stay at Fox News in any capacity other than janitorial, don't kid yourself for a minute that you are in any way heir to the legacy of Cronkite or Murrow or Royko or Finley Peter Dunne.

You are not.

You are taking up the mantle of the likes of Michael Steele and David Brooks.  Mark Penn and Juan Williams and Susan Estrich (What?  Did you think we'd forget you, Susan?).  You are hiring yourself out to be a beard -- to be the presentable public face of a depraved institution.

Do you think for a minute that I couldn't increase my income by an order of magnitude if I converted?  If I rent my garments, renounced Saul Alinksy, and all of his works, and all his pomps?  If I took up my pen to crank out the kind of glop they sling at The Federalist?  Or Townhall?  Or Red State?

Shit, I could type it with my toes while binge-watching Lost in Space with the entire F-M section of Roget's tied behind my back and still make it sing, because it's fucking easy.  Mindless.  Plus I actually know my way around a microphone and cameras don't freak me out, so who knows how high up the food chain I could ascend as an Apostate Libtard who has Seen the Light of True Conservatism.  Right now, through dint of grim, batshit persistence, Dinesh D'Souza's net worth is around $4 million dollars.  You think that we at The Professional Left couldn't match that if we joined Team Evil, and without the felony rap and those pesky ankle monitors?  You think that if we set "we gotta work" as our highest virtue and screw the morality of what we do, that we couldn't spend the rest of our days supping comfortably at the Wingnut Welfare trough between Jerome Corsi and Michelle Malkin?

But instead we put out the tip jar and hope for the best. 

Because I'll bag groceries and deliver papers first.  I'll beg in the goddamn street first.  Because working for madmen and monsters who you know damn well are bent on evil purposes -- madmen and monsters whose business model is deliberately destroying the integrity of your chosen profession -- is inexcusable. 

So quit.  Now.  Today.

Because you're being paid in blood money, kid.

And that shit never washes off.

*Thanks for the catch :-)

Behold, a Tip Jar!

Today In Orwellcome To Trump's America: The War For The Past Just Keeps Escalating

"As always, the past is the battlefield & memory is the Left's doomsday weapon." -- driftglass

Today we see President Stupid testing the limits of how far Conservative Strategic Forgettery can be be pushed by denying that his televised interview with Lester Holt in front of tens of millions of Americans --

-- ever happened.

As I may have mentioned once or twice, once you start to notice that a depressingly large number of our fellow citizens have become reprogrammable Orwellian meat-puppets, the rise of Trump is not hard to understand at all.

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