Saturday, November 18, 2017

BTRTN SaturData Review: Roy Moore's Crimson Slide

We introduce a new weekly feature, the “SaturData Review,” which updates key political indicators and highlights other pertinent info from the week.

Donald Trump took a rare detour from the spotlight this week, as the news was dominated primarily by the Roy Moore and Al Franken fiascos.  Second billing was split between the House, in passing its version of a tax cut bill, and Jeff Sessions, who seemed to be everywhere – offering dubious testimony on Capitol Hill, surfacing as one of the many bad options to keep Moore out of the Senate (as a potential write-in), and trying to pacify Trump in his call for a special counsel investigation into various Clinton-related matters.

While the post-Weinstein era ripped through politics, Trump’s approval rating remained below the 40% mark with his “net” still at a whopping -22; the Democrats continued to hold an enormous advantage in the “generic ballot” (in the wake of a very successful off-off-year Election Day); and leading economic indicators remained strong, with the "Trumpometer" still showing that these indicators are, on average, 15% better than on the day of Trump's Inauguration.

SaturData Review
Week ending Nov 18
Week ending Nov 11
Change
Trump Approval
39%
39%
0 pp
Trump Disapproval
57%
57%
0 pp
Trump Net Approval
-22 pp
-22 pp
0 pp




Generic Ballot Dem - Rep
44/34 = 10
44/33 = 11
-1 pp




Trumpometer
+15%
+15%
0%
Unemployment Rate
4.1
4.1
0%
Consumer Confidence
126
126
0%
Price of Gas
2.71
2.67
1%
Dow-Jones
23,358
23,377
0%
Most recent GDP (quarterly)
3.0
3.0
0%















The economic news is a plus for Trump, but the rest of the scoreboard is a disaster for the GOP with the mid-terms a year away.  For the GOP to hold onto the House, they will have to overcome anemic ratings, and hope the economy hangs on, while passing a tax “reform” bill that offers no long-term tax relief for the middle class, strips 13 million Americans of their health insurance, fills the coffers of corporate America, adds $1.5 trillion to the deficit, and is not backed by an economic forecast – by anyone -- that says that deficit bite will be offset through incremental GDP growth.  Whew!

So the standard tracking information was largely unchanged.  But there was one big piece of data that did change this week, and it is Roy Moore’s standing in Alabama.  Never a terribly strong candidate, Moore’s prospects for victory in the special election for the Senate seat vacated last January by, yes, Jeff Sessions, plummeted in the wake of scandal.  There are now nine women who have come forward with various charges against Moore, ranging from extreme creepiness to outright sexual assault on a minor, all occurring when they were teenagers and he was a 30+ year old serial-teen-dater. 

This is still a close race, but the trajectory of the race after the revelations is unmistakable.  Moore swiftly lost a 9-point lead (on average) and the race is now basically a dead heat, with evidence that Democratic candidate Doug Jones’ slim margin will increase in time.  

Alabama Senate
Pre-Allegations
Post-Allegations
Moore
49
45
Jones
40
47
Margin
9
-2






The GOP at the state level is standing behind Moore, but the national party has thrown him under the bus, and is looking at every conceivable option to prevent him from ever serving.  Mitch McConnell is showing creativity not seen since, well, the health care debacle (one idea that is under review: asking Luther Strange, who replaced Sessions as the interim Senator, to resign, now, so that a different special election can occur).  

The implications of a Jones win are massive, from posing a huge risk to the GOP Senate’s ability to pass their version of the tax cut (or a conference version that reconciles their bill, if one passes, with the House version), to holding onto the Senate in 2018, which had seemed a given.  The Dems now have a path to a majority, and while it may be a very difficult one, that is an upgrade from the near impossible odds they faced before Moore imploded.

As for Trump, he came back into view at week’s end with a full-scale attack on Franken, while avoiding any mention of Moore.  This, of course, is having the predictable effect of reopening the door on Trump’s own rampant history of sexual assault, and giving new life to the infamous Access Hollywood tapes.  Trump avoided the worst when these revelations first came up in the campaign, but in the post-Weinstein era, can he escape again?  We’ll see what next week brings.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Moore Than A Feeling

At just the point when Americans are finally shining a bright, harsh light on sexually predatory behavior, Alabama seems on track to elect a man accused of preying on underage girls to the U.S. Senate. Steve wonders whether Alabama is hopelessly behind on one issue... or simply terrifyingly ahead on a different one.
 
People say that the United States is a divided country, which – while not inaccurate -- does not come near to doing justice to the extremity of our current situation. It’s like saying Harvey Weinstein has “impulse control problems.” While true, it somehow misses the real point entirely.

The United States of America is not simply divided, it is becoming radically polarized. There is a difference.  In a polarized society, the differences of opinion are pushed to the end point of extremism.  Any sense of overlapping middle ground disappears. To be in one group is to be wholly opposed to every single position taken by the adversary.

Whether one draws the fault lines along the breech between rural and urban America, the poisonous widening gap of income inequality, religious or secular philosophy, progressive or conservative social policy, the simple truth is that the primary way this polarization is operationalized is through voting for a Republican or a Democrat. Therefore, increasingly, each of these subdivides is being articulated through a single lens: political party affiliation.  Where our political spectrum once included Dixiecrats and Rockefeller Republicans, there is now only a binary break between fire engine red or indigo blue.

Complicating this problem is the fact that the Republican Party in particular has a very hard time agreeing on what it stands for, often finding the power of unity only when expressing opposition. The Republicans cannot agree on healthcare, immigration, and now tax policy, but manage to wholeheartedly agree that Hillary Clinton’s actions in the Benghazi incident were treasonous. Donald Trump has a hard time advocating for major pieces of legislation because these topics tend to be “more complicated than anyone knew,” so he finds it easier to simply say that everything Barack Obama accomplished should be dismantled, whether he has a better idea or not.

In this thick gruel of angry and resentful bile, we sometimes hypothesize that the polarization in our country is so profound that one could easily imagine some Upper West Side liberals would actually vote for a chocolate brown schnauzer if the adorable little puppy was indeed the nominee of the Democratic Party and the only alternative was a Republican.

Now pardon us for our wild imaginings as we concoct an even more ridiculous example: that a down-on-its-luck hamlet in rural Mississippi would actually elect as its mayor a militant anti-LGBTQ warrior who flagrantly repudiates the United States Constitution and who serially preyed on underage girls twenty years his junior simply because he is the Republican candidate and not a Democrat.

It would be ridiculous indeed, except our topic today is not just one little down-on-its-luck town in rural Mississippi, and we are not imagining things.  

In a matter of weeks, the allegedly great state of Alabama may well elect a man to the U.S. Senate who committed a number of acts that should have disqualified him from public service before even the first accusation of sexually predatory behavior targeting young girls.  In 2003, Roy Moore had been stripped of his title as Alabama’s Chief Justice for refusing to remove his personal monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, demonstrating an open hostility towards the constitutional protections of religious freedom. More recently, Moore earned his gay-basher street cred by ordering Alabama judges to continue to prohibit same-sex marriage after the federal government had struck the law down as unconstitutional.  For a second time, he was relieved of his duty as a judge.

Now we have a Cosby-grade parade of nine defiant women in Alabama with the guts to stand up in public, on the record, and accuse this man of forcing himself on them when they were young women, some, indeed, under the age of consent.  Moore was so widely known as vulgar predator that he was actually banned from the Gadsden Mall to protect young women from his advances.

And yet – and please do take a moment for a truly deep breath and very resigned sigh -- in polls conducted after Moore’s sexually predatory behavior came to light, the people of Alabama remain deeply conflicted. Of the five major polls take, one had the race as a dead heat.  Two indeed have the Democratic candidate up, in one poll by four points and in the latest Fox Poll by eight points, 50% to 42%. But two other polls showed that Moore was still holding a clear lead… in one poll by six percentage points, and in a second poll by ten.  
People in Alabama don’t seem terribly influenced by the stampede of Republican national leaders – McConnell, Ryan, McCain, and others -- who have already disavowed Moore and urged him to step aside. Of course, those Alabama voters could be waiting for a signal from the Misogynist-in-Chief, a man with very little maneuvering room in this particular matter. Trump, of course, faced allegations of sexually predatory behavior during his presidential campaign, and took the exact same position that Moore embraces as his defense – that every single woman who came forward was a liar. Given that McConnell,  Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and even Trump’s own daughter have all publicly said that Alabama women are credible, Trump is hiding from the press, keenly aware of the Catch-22. If all of Moore's accusers are credible, then why are Trump's accusers all liars?

But back in Alabama, national opinion is as distant as the number two team in college football polls, and political damnation from Washington is a badge of honor.

The population of Alabama is 4,680,000, and the state website claims that there are 3,330,802 registered voters. Let's go with the poll from the Republican Party's own propaganda wing, Fox News, and say that 42% of Alabama voters still intend to vote for Moore even after learning about the accusations that he committed sexual predation toward underage women.That translates to 1,398,936 voters in the state of Alabama.

Fairness requires that we acknowledge that many of those who remain loyal to Moore would claim to believe that he is not a sexual predator, but a fine, upstanding Christian who is actually the victim of a slander campaign bent on destroying his candidacy. We have now seen many interviews with local Alabama voters adamantly airing their suspicion that either leftist groups or even establishment Republicans are behind a massive smear campaign.

Fairness further requires that we give this view due consideration. Talk with anyone who has ever felt that they have been incorrectly or unfairly branded with sexual harassment, and you will hear an angry tail of presumed guilt and a stain on the reputation that never goes away completely.

This is when factors like the credibility, specificity, and authenticity of accusers must be judged. The sheer number of accusers -- now standing at nine -- matters.  The willingness of accusers to go on the record matters. The number of corroborating witnesses – people who will vouch that they heard contemporaneous accounts of the story – must be weighed. Then there is seconding testimony, such as the story of Moore having been banned from the local mall because of his reputation as a stalker of young women, which seems too precise to possibly have been fabricated.

It is all of these factors that require that those still aligned with Moore to begin – also in fairness – to rethink their blind loyalty. The indications that this nominee is guilty are, in the words of that seventies smash hit, “more than a feeling.”

This means that a healthy percentage of those 1,398,936 people clinging to Roy Moore accept the heavy circumstantial evidence of his guilt… and would still rather vote for a predator who would outlaw homosexuality and who serially violates girls under the age of consent rather than vote for a Democrat.

Hey, Harvey Weinstein, maybe you’ve found the state that will embrace you as a true man of the people. Louis C.K., maybe you can still book a hall in Birmingham. Donald Trump, perhaps we now know why your margin of victory in Alabama was the biggest since 1972.

But, then again, Kevin Spacey, better keep your distance.  In Alabama, it’s only ok to prey on young people of the opposite sex.  Sweet Homophobe Alabama.

Many writers and reporters and busying themselves piling on the depraved and perverse psychology of Roy Moore, but the only reason that Roy Moore is at the center of the national conversation today is because 1,398,936 people in Alabama are still ready to send him to Washington to represent them.

Yes, we can have a huge problem with Roy Moore, but perhaps we have a bigger problem still with the 1,398,936 people who plan on voting for him.  Perhaps they fear that a Democrat would take away the guns they claim they need for those occasions when people like Roy Moore stalk their daughters  Perhaps the only explanation is that people in Alabama are not voting for Roy Moore, they are just voting against everyone who they perceive to be a threat to their guns, their religion, and their way of life.

Roy Moore may be a sexual deviant, but in our radically polarized society, a Republican man who preys on teenage girls appears to still be better than a Democrat.

It is clear that the polarization is only accelerating.  Call it the new Moore’s Law. The degree of polarization doubles every eighteen months.

And then, somewhere down the line, turning and turning in the widening gyre, the center cannot hold.

The polarization of the United States is now a maelstrom experienced by its citizenry by the physics concepts of centripetal and centrifugal forces. Centripetal force drives orbital bodies closer to the center of their rotation.  Centrifugal force is the sensation we feel as we cut a corner too sharply and panic that we cannot maintain our trajectory and will tumble wildly out of control.

Right now, we feel the growing sensation of centrifugal force.

Now, we hear educated, level-headed people openly muse about whether the gulf in our polarized society is so great that we ought to consider dividing the country into two nations roughly formed around the red state south and heartlands and the blue state coasts. When challenged about their loyalty to the United States, these people are apt to shoot right back that in the current state of our politics there is darn little that resembles the United States to which they once pledged fealty.

Are we reaching the point in which we declare “irreconcilable differences” and tell the 1,398,936 people in Alabama that we have changed our mind, and if they want to secede from the Union this time we will help them pack?

As tempting as that seems as Roy Moore creepily creeps dangerously close to a seat in the U.S. Senate, we cannot.

At times like this we need to remind ourselves that while 1,398,936 is a despicably high number, it pales in comparison to the 65,844,954 Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton… itself a very substantial majority relative to the 62,979,879 who voted for Donald Trump.

We must fight to preserve the centripetal forces that hold the country together. Yes, those forces include freedom, equality, and opportunity, but perhaps in times like this we realize that the most powerful centripetal force holding the country together is the belief that we have something worth fighting to preserve.

To surrender to Donald Trump, Roy Moore, and Vladimir Putin is to allow the 1,398,936 to win.

Forty-six years ago, Neil Young wrote a song on his “Harvest” album entitled “Alabama.”  Forty-nine Neil Young albums later, the words are haunting:

“Oh Alabama…
I'm from a new land
I come to you and
see all this ruin
What are you doing, Alabama?
You got the rest of the union
to help you along!
What's going wrong?”

Forty-nine years later, we still need to help Alabama along.

Sadly, however, the question today is this: is Alabama the laggard state of Neil Young’s ballad, or is it actually a terrifying look at the future?

Is Roy Moore one of the most horrific spasms of a culture that is finally coming to grips with its inherent misogyny, or is he the harbinger of a new wave of candidates that are measured by – and only by -- how zealously they fan the flames of radical polarization?

If Roy Moore keeps enough support to stay in this race, we’ve got a bad feeling about the answer.

And if he wins, it will be moore than a feeling.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

One Year In: Moving at the Speed of Darkness.

While in London, Steve attended a performance by comedian Kathy Lette, who incorporated some remarkable comments made by her autistic son into her one-woman show. A great example: while still a young boy, her son Julius asked “does anything move at the speed of dark?” Good question, Julius. Here is your answer.

The bungled release of the supposedly final lingering classified documents from the JFK assassination triggered a brief spasm of revival of the age-old contention that “everyone remembers exactly where they were” the moment when they heard that Kennedy had been killed.  A prior generation spoke similarly about Pearl Harbor, and a younger generation points to 9/11.

Now – on the anniversary of the election that made Donald Trump President of the United States – it is time to add November 8, 2016 to the list. Everyone remembers exactly where they were when they came to grips with the shocking reality that Donald Trump would become President, and when the United States abdicated its role as the shining beacon of freedom, responsibility, and global leadership. Everyone remembers the day the lights went out in America, and the “do not disturb” sign was hung on the knob, alerting the global community that immigrants were no longer welcome and that our allies should no longer assume we will honor longstanding commitments to assist in their times of need.

It happens that London is a good place from which to look back and gain perspective on our plight.  As horrendous as Donald Trump is, the Brits contend that things are even worse for the U.K. “In the worst case scenario, you Yanks will have Trump for eight years,” they point out, “but more than likely half that time, and quite possibly you’ll give the bloody bloke the boot before the blasted Brexit exit.” Brexit, on the other hand, is forever, and the country that wrote the Magna Carta knows a helluva lot more about “forever” than we do.  The land of Churchill now withers under the infirm grip of Theresa May, who has made catastrophic miscalculations in prematurely calling for a confidence vote and in triggering Article 50 before securing the terms for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.  In the pubs on Sloane Square they tell you that should the Empire last another one thousand years, this was not its finest hour.

But note well that in Britain there is an underlying confidence – a near certainty – that soon enough America will royally flush Donald Trump down the loo and get on with its business then, mate.  As sure as the sun once rose somewhere on the British Empire, the Yanks will expunge this painful stomach gas in a fart for the ages and get back its game. Not true, it feels, for this green and pleasant land, though apparently the green is at least in small part for envy. We get to fix our mistake, they do not. In short, there’s rather not a more conducive spot for happy-ever-aftering than America after Donald Trump.

It is heartening to hear that our greatest ally and elder sibling in democracy still can see our city on the hill even when the lights are out and it is definitively not shining. And yet their optimism is based on faith rather than fact.

Let’s first assess the Brits’ contention that the worst case scenario is eight years of Donald Trump. Wrong. The worst case scenario is that the infantile lummox in the White House could trigger World War III in a moment of insufficient impulse control after another round of indictments from Robert Mueller.

Yes, first we have to literally survive Donald Trump. Then, and only then, do we address the question of whether we will have survived Donald Trump with our democracy intact.  Will we survive what Donald Trump is doing to our country?

In this regard, it appears that many Americans may share the hopeful Brit notion that when time finally runs out on Donald Trump, he will hand back the keys and return the property broom clean with all the plumbing operational, and we will snap back on the light switch and that Kennedy glow will once again truly light the world.

It is now clear that Donald Trump has no intention of returning our property in anything resembling the condition he found it, which we must acknowledge to be an irony coming as it does from a megalomaniac and abusive real estate tycoon.

Motivated by a unique combination of ignorance, self-aggrandizement, and self-preservation, he is exploiting the extraordinary latitude we grant our president so that he can pulverize the written and unwritten rules that enable the nation to stand alone as the world’s model for the rule of law. By the time this wrecking ball of a presidency is over, we may never be able to fully recover. If Donald Trump succeeds in creating new normative behaviors for presidents, this nation as we have known it will cease to exist.

What does our nation become if the new norm is that our taxes are used to fund a state-run propaganda machine relentlessly committed to disseminating untruths, hiding incompetence, and slandering the opposition?

What does our nation become if the new norm has our President waging a holy war to discredit legitimate news organizations that dare to challenge him?

What does our nation become if the President’s only organizing principle of government is the deconstruction of the programs, policies, and diplomacy achieved by prior administrations, without offering any viable alternatives to replace them?

What does our nation become if the new norm is for the President is to casually threaten smaller nations with thermonuclear annihilation, and to have the power to initiate such genocide without requiring the consent of a single other human being?

What does our nation become if the new norm is for racial bigotry, misogyny, and religious persecution to be encouraged – indeed, committed -- by our most senior officers of government?

What does our nation become if our leaders cannot see the moral distinction between neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and anti-Semites, and the loyal citizens who protest such extreme bigotry?

What does our nation become if we actively repudiate science, choosing to mollify those who live in the darkness of ignorance rather than heed those who issue warnings after having done the hard work of discovering the truth?

What does our nation become if bold outright lies replace objective reality as the primary component of support for a political position?

What does our nation become if the new norm for our legislatures has gridlock, stalemate, and intentionally destructive opposition replace compromise and cooperation?

What does our nation become if the new norm is for the President to use the Justice Department and the FBI as secret police that can be ordered to destroy political opponents?

What does our nation become if the new norm is for the President to use the occasions of our most solemn grieving – the death of our servicemen and women in combat and the deaths of innocent civilians in terror attacks – as the occasion for callous partisan accusations and blame?

What happens if it becomes the norm to solicit the assistance of hostile nations to sabotage our process of free and open elections?

What does our nation become if the President of the United States then takes every opportunity to undermine, discredit, and stall the investigation into foreign meddling in our elections?

There is a widely embraced narrative that Donald Trump’s first year in office has been an utter failure because he does not have a single legislative accomplishment to his name despite controlling both the legislative and executive branches of government. It would be a mistake to use such conventional criteria to assess this President’s goals and achievements.

Don’t kid yourself that Donald Trump has spent his first year in office trying to pass a conservative legislative agenda. He has spent far more of the time in his first year in office trying to extinguish, discredit, and diminish the voices of opposition in this country, and replace every independent voice – in government and in the media – with cronies loyal only to his personal agenda.

It’s probably right there in Chapter One of the Fascist Dictator's Handbook: the first battle is not waged against political enemies or in favor of a specific philosophy. The first battle is waged against truth. The first task is to remove the biggest threat: objective reality, and those who champion it.

Behind each of the “new presidential behaviors” chronicled above lies beating heart of darkness of the Trump presidency: that truth is subjective, and its subjectivity can be manipulated to reinforce the bigotry, hatred, and emotionally-based biases that bind Trump’s supporters to him. 

There are the overt actions: the firing of James Comey for failing a “loyalty test.” There is the propaganda machine that labels every story, every reporter, and every news outlet that challenges this president as “fake news.” There is the endless mantra that the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion is a “witch hunt.” There are the highly personal attacks on senior members of his own party who dare to disagree with him.

Last and hardly least, there is the hallmark of his President: the 144 character tweets that reveal a man who has no character at all. Unfiltered and unfettered, the true Trump is revealed in the darkness of 5:00 a.m. rants filled with explosive anger and vindictive bile directed at all those who represent a threat to his authority.

Those who chronicle the history of civilization have employed the imagery of light and darkness to characterize epochs. Heck, the first thing God did after creating heaven and the earth was to create light so she could figure out what to do with the remainder of the week. There were the Dark Ages, marked by bleak erosion in the social, cultural, and intellectual progress of classical Rome and Greece. In contrast, a flourishing of science, empirical knowledge, culture, and civilization were characterized as the Age of Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. Lux et veritas. Light and truth.

Those who speak the truth are those who carry light into the darkness. They illuminate issues. They shine a light on problems. Someone who uncovers a hidden issue “brings it to light.” Someone who brings new or relevant information to bear is “shedding light” on the subject.  A new piece of information “comes to light.”

In contrast, those with evil intent, those who seek to destroy the truth, or those who live in ignorance are shrouded in imagery of darkness. If you don’t have a clue what is going on, you are “in the dark.” A damaging truth never to be revealed is a “dark secret.” Bad actions are “dark deeds.”

Donald Trump is pushing America into its very own Dark Ages. One year after his election, Donald Trump is moving our country at the speed of darkness.

What does it mean to move at the speed of darkness?

Here’s an experiment you can use to find out.

Go into a room with no windows, one light, and one light switch. An interior bathroom will do the trick. Now put your finger on the light switch and close the door. Turn the light switch off.

Take away the light, and you realize that darkness travels pretty damn fast, too. It may not be 186,000 miles per second. But if you destroy the light, the darkness comes with literally blinding speed.

If you think that the speed of light has the upper hand over the speed of darkness in America today, think again.

Right now, Donald Trump is doing his best to invoke the power, resources, visibility, and credibility of the United States of America as his personal arsenal of darkness.

You and I – as taxpayers -- are paying the salary of Sarah Huckabee Sanders to lie to our faces. She is not the “White House Press Secretary,” she is pimping for Donald Trump’s personal version of reality.

Trump is now saying that he thinks that as President he should be able to order the Justice Department and the FBI to investigate the people he wants them to investigate. Apparently he views Vladimir Putin’s Secret Police to be an excellent model.

Compared to the power and influence of the executive branch of the United States government, the truth-tellers -- CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, MSNBC, Robert Mueller, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver and a few others – is actually exceedingly narrow. And even the most brilliant reporting is of little consequence if it falls on the deaf ears of ignorance, apathy, partisan rage, and blind loyalty.
 
American used to be the nation that moved at the speed of light.

Powered by freedom, motivated by the common good, steered by a sense of justice, and aimed at truth, we were forever out in front, bringing brilliant illumination into the black void.  We were shining, bright, and lighting the way for all along the trail. We made mistakes, to be sure, and when we did, we paid dearly because we acted in broad daylight, fully visible to all because of the mantle of leadership we willingly shouldered. But the picture, writ large, was of a nation that was relentless, optimistic, surging on all fronts. We pushed every envelope -- in health, space, technology, communication, and in the mass production and infrastructure required to create the housing, transportation, food, and cleanliness that lifted an entire population’s standard of living dramatically within a single generation. We were a nation moving at the speed of light.

Today, we are moving at the speed of darkness. Obstructing the opponent within is more important than common prosperity. Destroying the perceived enemy is more important than unifying inspiration. Plausible lies are more convenient than hard truths. Dividing is easier than uniting, and inflaming hate of the unknown cheaper than making the investment required to achieve educated insight into otherness. 

And make no mistake: these travesties are being initiated, led, and exacerbated by our President.

In order to assure his own position, Donald Trump is fomenting the polarization that could destroy America from within. Under Trump, we are sliding daily, a titan slivered and sliced by petty bickering and bitter hatreds, by intransigent opposition that would rather cut off the oxygen supply to the entire organism that give sustenance to the enemy. It is an America hostage to internecine conflicts resolved only by Pyrrhic victories. It is an America that is in free fall, rapidly declining from its apex of global achievement, leadership, and moral stature.

No, there are no legislative accomplishments, and some may be comforted that Trump’s approval rating seems frozen at 40%, an inhospitable climate for re-election.

But make no mistake: this man is not motivated by these normative metrics.

He is seeing ample progress in his war on facts, on truth-tellers, and on objective reality itself. He is intent on turning off every light, and leaving this country in the dark, no longer equipped with the most powerful weapon to challenge him: the truth.

The Brits may be right that Brexit will last longer than Donald Trump, the person.  But the damage that Donald Trump is doing to this country could set us on an unalterable course away from our moorings as a country with government of, by, and for the people.  We must do the hard work of actually passing laws – not relying on “custom” – to prevent future Donald Trumps from refusing to divulge their taxes, hiring relatives, maintaining conflicts of interest, abusing the federal investigatory agencies for personal purposes, slandering the opposition press, issuing unconstitutional executive orders, and triggering nuclear war without the advice and consent of a single other human being on earth.

Most of all, we must fight the battle at every hill, in every town, on every field to defeat this president’s war on the truth and the people who insist on telling it.

They are the only people with their feet on the brakes as we observe one year of moving at the speed of darkness.