Monday, August 21, 2017

It Takes No . . .

Life, Liberty, And The Pursuit Of Happiness

The words above are from this nation's Declaration of Independence - a document whose importance is surpassed only by the United States Constitution. The words were used as the justification for breaking away from England, and establishing our own nation -- and they are words that all Americans say they believe.

But do we all really believe in those words? Do we really think all Americans have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I think most Americans do believe that, but there is an element in this country (mostly on the extreme right) who don't believe those words should guide this country. They would deny all three of those "unalienable" rights to accomplish their own purposes (to get and retain power).


What does a right to life actually mean? In the most basic sense, just the right to continue living on this earth. But to continue living, a person must have some basic things. They must have food, shelter, and medical care. Without any of these three necessities, a person's life is shortened or ended.

It seems obvious to me that to provide the right to life for all Americans, the government (which in our democracy is us -- the people) must provide assistance to the disadvantaged among us -- those who through no fault of their own cannot provide their own food, shelter, and medical care. We should do this both to fulfill the words of our Founding Fathers, but also out of common decency -- because we know it is the right thing to do.

Unfortunately, we have those (and sadly many are elected officials) who would deny their fellow citizens these basic necessities to sustain life. They would cut government programs providing food and shelter to the disadvantaged -- and eliminate programs that provide medical care to those who cannot afford expensive private insurance policies. And they would do it for the most venal of reasons -- to provide tax cuts and other giveaways to the richest people in the country (those who can already provide for their own necessities of life).

I submit this view violates both the spirit and the words written in our Declaration of Independence (which is the justification for the very existence of our nation). It is mean-spirited, indecent, and un-American.


Liberty is the sustaining of our freedom. It is the right to live as we please (as long as we don't deny the rights of others) and choose those who would lead our country.

The most important necessity for maintaining our liberty is the right to vote. This is a right that every citizen should have, and no citizen should be denied for any reason. Without the right to vote for everyone, our democracy is limited -- or extinguished altogether.

But there are those in this country who would deny the right to vote to some of our citizens. They do it to further their own ends, and they do it in a myriad of ways (voter ID laws, gerrymandering, limiting polling stations in certain areas, etc.). These people want to force their views on all Americans, even though they don't believe they can win a fairly-held election.

A second necessity for the preservation of our liberty (democracy) is a free and unfettered press. The press must be able to report the truth and inform the public, because without an informed public there can be no democracy. The press must be free of government pressure and influence, and have the ability to report the truth (regardless of who that hurts or helps). In fact, the only requirement that should be placed on the press is that what they report is true.

But there are those who don't respect truth or the ability of the press to report it. They want only their point of view represented (even if it can't be substantiated by facts), and they try to suppress and/or demonize those who report the truth. Sadly, the leader of this anti-truth movement at present is our president (and his die-hard supporters) -- who want to bail anything that disagrees with them as "fake news".

Those who would deny the vote to any Americans, or who would try to keep the truth from being reported, are trying to deny basic liberty to Americans -- and those pose a danger to our democracy.


The pursuit of happiness is listed third in this trilogy of rights, but it is no less important than the others. It is the ability of all citizens to make their own choices in life, to be able to go as far in life as their abilities and hard work will take them, and to be treated fairly with regard to the law and opportunity.

Sadly, there are also those in this country who would deny this pursuit of happiness to many citizens. The most egregious of these deniers would take us back to an America where rights were held only by white, male, heterosexuals. They would relegate minorities, women, and homosexuals to a second-class status -- making it much harder for them to pursue happiness in their own lives.

We have seen a resurgence of this kind of perverted thinking in this country recently, as some groups (KKK, white supremacists, neo-nazis, and other haters and bigots) seek to mainstream their own sick bigotry. They don't want a real democracy where all citizens have the right to pursue their own goals and live their lives as they please. They want to dictate to everyone else their own racism, misogyny, and homophobia. We cannot allow that to happen, as it is a violation of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the American Dream, and common decency.

Do you, as an American, believe in the words in our Declaration of Independence -- that all men are created equal, and have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? If so, then now is the time to step forward and do your part to make that a reality.

An Honest One

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Americans Oppose A Military First Strike Against N. Korea

While Americans would support a military response if North Korea attacked the U.S. or its allies, the public doesn't want the United States to be the first country to make a military strike.

Only 24% would support a military first strike against North Korea, while twice as many (50%) would oppose it -- and that is the general opinion of all demographic groups. And the numbers get even worse when the first strike is done using nuclear weapons. Only 14% would support that, while 63% would oppose it.

The charts show information from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 13th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,291 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Comforting Hate

Political Cartoon is by Signe Wilkinson in

Huge Turnout Against Hate Was A Welcome Sight

(Photo of Boston rally against hate is from the twitter feed of Newsweek.)

The following post is from the Facebook page of Dan Rather:

It was a welcomed sight seeing the tens of thousand of peaceful protesters gather in the streets of Boston yesterday to rally against hate. 
So much of the news of late has been about the deep and persistent divisions in our nation, divisions stoked by presidential rhetoric that has sought to exacerbate wounds rather than try to heal them. The voices emanating from one of America's most historic cities was a powerful response. Hate will not replace us, a great, inclusive, and diverse nation.
There is much anxiety about where our nation is heading, and for good reason. But we should not forget that the hatred, racism and antisemitism that has spilled so frighteningly into the open has been a constant force in our country. It is one that is no secret to many of our fellow citizens - likely many of you yourselves - who face it in words and actions every day. 
Why this moment seems so fraught is we are being forced to confront our past, and present. We are re-learning the story of the Civil War, and the periods of racial terror that followed when many of these statues were erected. We are reminded about the horrors of the Nazis as we see swastikas unfurled in our communities. 
America is realizing that it cannot sentimentalize its past, or excuse its bigotries, violence and hatreds. Nor can it ignore the challenges of the present. But the question lies in our future. Will this nation pick up the mantle of President Lincoln, President Roosevelt, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and all the countless men and women over the course of our history who have pushed, prodded, exalted, shamed and willed this nation on a path of greater justice?


Political Cartoon is by Marian Kamensky at


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Wisdom From Malcolm

Too many Racist Sympathizers In This Country

I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that 76% of Americans view the white nationalists (supremacists) negatively, 83% view the neo-nazis negatively, and 85% view the ku klux klan negatively. An overwhelming number of Americans dislike these groups and what that represent.

The bad news is that 7% view the white nationalists (supremacists) favorably, 5% view the neo-nazis favorably, and 6% have a favorable view of the ku klux klan. 5% to 7% may not seem like a lot of people -- until you consider the U.S. population is about 324 million, with about 240 million being adults. Take 5% of 240 million and you get about 12 million people.

Most of that 12 million are closet racists -- not the kind who will take to the streets and cause trouble. But they still are sympathetic to the racist views of the groups above, and their attitude helps to keeps racism and hate alive in this country.

The charts are made with info from a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 13th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,291 registered voters), with a 3.1 point margin of error.

Changing History

Political Cartoon is by Milt Priggee at

Our Fight Against Racism Must Go Beyond Demonstrations

(The photo above, from CNN, shows anti-racist protesters filling the streets of Boston.)

The forces of the "alt-right" (KKK, white supremacists, neo-nazis, etc.) scheduled a "free speech" rally in Boston on Saturday. They were vastly outnumbered as over 20,000 protesters filled the streets of that city to oppose the racism and hate those groups support, while less than two dozens showed up to support hate.

This is a good thing. The hate groups must be opposed visibly -- and made to understand that they are still just a tiny minority in this country. They need to be driven back underground as decent Americans oppose everything they stand for.

But that is not enough. Attending one (or more) peaceful demonstrations, while good and necessary, will not eliminate the racism that still troubles this country. We must now confront and eliminate the racism built in to our society's institutions. The civil rights laws passed in the 1960's were necessary, but they were only a start -- not the total solution.

It was good that a law was passed making it illegal to deny voting rights based on race. But we must be vigilant in making sure those rights are protected. Too many on the right are still finding ways to suppress the minority vote (through laws such as Voter ID, and political tricks like gerrymandering).

It was good that segregation was eliminated in public facilities -- including transportation. But we now need to insure that the transportation (and other public services) extend into and serve minority (and poor) communities as much as the white (and middle class) communities.

It was good that the Supreme Court unanimously declared separate to be inherently unequal in education, but simply allowing minorities to attend schools with whites is not enough. We must insure they get the same fair treatment and opportunities that white students get.

It is also not enough to eliminate discrimination in employment hiring. There must also be equal opportunity for advancement.

Our justice system also needs much work. Our police need to respond as fast to calls in the minority community as those in white communities -- and they need to treat minorities  and whites in the same way. They need to understand that minority lives matter as much as other lives. And minority people need to be treated as fairly in the courts as whites.

I could go on, but I think you probably get my point. There is still much more to be done, especially in our institutions (where the racism is built into them). This will be harder than just passing a law, because attitudes (which have been taught us as we grew up) must be changed -- but it must be done.

Equality is a wonderful idea. Now we need to make it a reality.

Permit ?

Political Cartoon is by Nick Anderson.

Americans Not Thrilled With Trump's Response To Protests

A Plurality of Americans are disappointed in how Donald Trump's reaction to the protests in Charlottesville. That's disappointing to me. It should be a majority.

The chart represents the results of the new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 13th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,291 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.


Political Cartoon is by Lalo Alcaraz.

Guns (& Other Weapons) Should Be Banned From Protests

(Photo of armed racists attending the Charlottesville protests is from

At the hate-based protests in Charlottesville last weekend, one person was killed and many more wounded. The weapon used by the racist/nazi was a car, but it could easily been another weapon. Members of the racist right showed up armed with guns. What if one of these nuts had become angry and used his assault weapon? Many more could have died or been seriously injured.

We know that these demonstrations and protests inflame the passions of participants -- especially when counter-demonstrators show up. And when passions are inflamed, stupid people can act in a stupid way. That brings me to my question -- Why do we allow protesters to carry weapons? Isn't this just an invitation to disaster?

Right-wing haters will say they need the weapons to defend themselves. That is bullshit. It is not the job of right-wing militias to protect demonstrators -- that is what we pay our police to do. The First Amendment guarantees the right of people to PEACEABLY protest -- not the right to carry weapons and instigate trouble and violence.

They will also tell you they are just exercising their Second Amendment rights. More bullshit. The Second Amendment guarantees to right to own and bear firearms -- but it does not guarantee the right to carry those weapons into every place. The Supreme Court has determined that cities and states can legally and constitutionally restrict the places where a person can carry a gun. And it only makes sense, for the safety of the public, that guns should be restricted from being carried to protests and demonstrations.

I wouldn't stop there. No weapons of any kind should be allowed in protests or demonstrations (including knives, swords, machetes, pipes, baseball bats, clubs, or anything else can can be used to kill or maim people).

No permit for a demonstration should be issued without including a provision banning all weapons. And anyone who shows up with a weapon should be arrested and have his weapon confiscated. And that weapon should not be returned (but destroyed by the police) since by showing up with a weapon he/she has demonstrated they are too stupid to own that weapon.

Allowing guns (and other weapons) at protests and demonstrations is just asking for trouble, and it will result in people losing their lives. Let's put an end to it before that happens.

The American Ship

Political Cartoon is by Darrin Bell at


Saturday, August 19, 2017

A Vaccine Against Charlatans

Public Believes Race Relations Are Worse Under Trump

During the campaign (and after), Donald Trump claimed he was a "uniter", and would bring the races together in this country. I don't think anyone believed him, because the hallmark of his campaign was racism and religious bigotry. So, how has he done? Has he brought people together?

In a word -- NO! He has been the most bigoted and divisive president in the modern era. And his actions supporting the racist protesters in Charlottesville have just made that clearer.

The chart above shows what the public thinks. Note that every group (except Republicans) think race relations have gotten worse under Trump. Most Republicans think they have just stayed the same. Only a tiny 7% to 14% believe race relations have gotten better. Those have to be the true trumpistas, who refuse to believe anything has gotten worse under their hero (and facts be damned).

The chart reflects the results of a new Marist Poll -- done on August 14th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,125 adults, with a 2.9 point margin of error.

Protest Buddies

Political Cartoon is by Rob Rogers in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Bannon Was Not The Problem - Only The Symptom

(Caricature of Steve Bannon is by DonkeyHotey.)

Yesterday, we learned that one of Trump's closest advisors, Steve Bannon, is leaving his job at the White House. This is a good thing. Bannon was an unashamed white supremacist, and never should have had any kind of job in the White House.

But don't expect anything to change in the Trump administration. Bannon wasn't the problem. He was just a symptom of the real problem.

The real problem is that we have a fascist and white supremacist as president. Donald Trump hired some pretty bad people (Bannon, Gorka, Miller, Pruitt, Sessions, Flynn, etc.), and the reason he hired them was because they reflected his own sick and un-American views.

Trump has never tried to hide his bigotry and racism. He seems very proud of it. he repeatedly demonstrated it during his presidential campaign -- and far too many Americans either agreed with the bigotry/racism, or thought he would change once he assumed the highest office in the land.

But he hasn't changed. And he made that very clear this last weekend with his defense of the KKK, white supremacists, and nazis that met in Virginia to further their perverse aims. Instead of condemning that, Trump has tried to gloss it over by saying their were "many sides" and they were all to blame. He also refused to call the deaths and injuries from a white supremacist/nazi intentionally driving a car into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators what it actually was -- a terrorist act.

Trump has been quick to label muslims who did that very same thing as terrorists committing an act of terrorism (in Spain, France, England, etc.) -- but even when asked by the press, he absolutely refused to call the Virginia murder an act of terrorism. And that refusal speaks volumes about Trump's racist hypocrisy.

Bannon was a bad man, but he wasn't the real problem. The problem is Donald Trump, and it won't be solved until he is no longer president.

Dance Of Hate

Political Cartoon is by Bob Englehart at

Republicans Are More Racist Than Other Americans

Last weekend, Donald Trump embarrassed the nation when he sided with the KKK, white supremacists, and neo-nazis. But most Republicans were not embarrassed. They supported Trump's tepid response to those groups, and went along with him blaming equally those who oppose racism and fascism.

Republicans have been quick to claim they are not racists, even though they voted to put a racist in the White House -- a racist who did nothing to hide his bigotry during the campaign. Now they continue to support him after his obvious failure to call out the evil groups supporting racism.

There's an old saying that a person who lies down with dogs, gets up with fleas. Well, the Republicans chose to lie down with dog Trump, and now they are infested with the nasty fleas of racism and fascism.

You cannot remain silent in the face of evil. To do so is to be on the side of evil. I'm sure many Trump-suuporting Republicans will continue to deny their racism (latent or virulent), but they have now been exposed. Anyone who supports a racist is a racist.

The charts above are from a recent CBS News Poll -- done between August 14th and 16th of a random national sample of 1,223 adults, with a 4 point margin of error.

In Bed With Hate

Political Cartoon is by Jonathan Schmock at

Most Nations Trust Putin More Than Trump To Do Right Thing

This is for those of you that think Donald Trump is doing a good job of representing the United States on the world stage. It is from a Pew Research Center global survey (and you can go here to see the methodology of that survey).

They asked the people in the countries listed above whether they would trust Trump or Putin more to do the right thing regarding world affairs. The huge majority of those nations said they would trust Putin more than Trump to do the right thing.

Trump is not just hurting this country -- he is making the world a much more dangerous place by destroying the reputation of the U.S. as a leader. The world is in serious trouble when the leader of Russia is trusted more than the leader of the United States.


Political Cartoon is by David Horsey in the Los Angeles Times.

GOP's Lack Of Logic

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Bad Guy

Trump Just Blowing Smoke With Threats To N. Korea

Donald Trump has made numerous threats to attack North Korea recently. He said their threats would be met with "fire and fury", and later said the U.S. Military was "locked and loaded".

The obvious inference was that he has a viable military option, and was ready to use it. Was he just blowing smoke -- trying to threaten North Korea in hopes they would knuckle under? Was he just being a bully -- his favorite (and only) "diplomatic" maneuver? Or is he really crazy enough to believe he actually has a viable military option?

Hopefully, it was the latter -- just lies and bullying (even though that is useless against North Korea). The last thing we need is another war -- one that could kill millions.

One of Trump's closest advisors in the White House, Steve Bannon, seems to think it was just Trump blowing smoke. Bannon, in an interview with The American Prospect, said the following:

“There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.” 

 I believe that is true, although it's rather frightening to think that Bannon may be the voice of reason in the White House. Hopefully, the Pentagon is telling Trump the same thing.

The question though is whether Trump has enough sense to listen, or whether he'll let his temper get the best of him in spite of advice to the contrary.

Had A Permit

Political Cartoon is by Clay Jones at

Trump And GOP Still Out-Of-Step On Climate Change

North Korea and white supremacy/nazism have hogged the headlines the last couple of weeks, but there is another issue that's not going to go away -- even though Trump and his GOP cohorts might like for it to disappear. It's global climate change. That change continues to happen, and ignoring it won't stop it.

Trump (and the Republicans) would like for other issues to be in the headlines, because the public is not agreeing with them about global climate change. A majority of 55% say that the climate change is happening and is due to human activity, while only 30% say it's not happening or not due to human activity. And majorities of both genders, all age groups, and all races also agree that human activity is negatively affecting the climate.

Furthermore, the public believes this country has already been damaged by global climate change (57% to 20%) -- and again all groups have majorities agreeing.

These charts reflect information in a new Economist / YouGov Poll -- done between August 13th and 15th of a random national sample of 1,500 adults (including 1,291 registered voters), with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

Many Sides

Political Cartoon is by Daryl Cagle at

Public Sentiment Is Growing For Impeaching Trump

This chart is from the latest poll done by the Public Religion Research Institute -- done between August 2nd and 8th of a random national sample of 2,024 adults, with a 2.7 point margin of error.

It shows that the public sentiment for impeaching Donald Trump and removing him from office is growing. Last February only 30% were in favor of impeachment, while 65% were opposed -- a gap of 35 points. But in August, those in favor of impeachment has grown to 40%, while 53% oppose that -- a gap of only 13 points. That gap has closed by a whopping 22 points.

The Gardener

Political Cartoon is by Trend van Dam at

Robert E. Lee Is NOT An American Hero

I am tired of hearing about what a heroic figure Robert E. Lee was. He was not a hero. He was a traitor, who left the U.S. Army to fight against the country he had sworn to defend -- and he did it to support slavery and white supremacy. How can that be considered heroic -- except by those who still support those odious ideas?

The following article on Lee was written in 1928 by W.E.B. DuBois. It is just as relevant today as it was the day it was written.

Each year on the 19th of January there is renewed effort to canonize Robert E. Lee, the greatest confederate general. His personal comeliness, his aristocratic birth and his military prowess all call for the verdict of greatness and genius. But one thing–one terrible fact–militates against this and that is the inescapable truth that Robert E. Lee led a bloody war to perpetuate slavery. Copperheads like the New York Times may magisterially declare: “of course, he never fought for slavery.” Well, for what did he fight? State rights? Nonsense. The South cared only for State Rights as a weapon to defend slavery. If nationalism had been a stronger defense of the slave system than particularism, the South would have been as nationalistic in 1861 as it had been in 1812.
No. People do not go to war for abstract theories of government. They fight for property and privilege and that was what Virginia fought for in the Civil War. And Lee followed Virginia. He followed Virginia not because he particularly loved slavery (although he certainly did not hate it), but because he did not have the moral courage to stand against his family and his clan. Lee hesitated and hung his head in shame because he was asked to lead armies against human progress and Christian decency and did not dare refuse. He surrendered not to Grant, but to Negro Emancipation.
Today we can best perpetuate his memory and his nobler traits not by falsifying his moral debacle, but by explaining it to the young white south. What Lee did in 1861, other Lees are doing in 1928. They lack the moral courage to stand up for justice to the Negro because of the overwhelming public opinion of their social environment. Their fathers in the past have condoned lynching and mob violence, just as today they acquiesce in the disfranchisement of educated and worthy black citizens, provide wretchedly inadequate public schools for Negro children and endorse a public treatment of sickness, poverty and crime which disgraces civilization.
It is the punishment of the South that its Robert Lees and Jefferson Davises will always be tall, handsome and well-born. That their courage will be physical and not moral. That their leadership will be weak compliance with public opinion and never costly and unswerving revolt for justice and right. it is ridiculous to seek to excuse Robert Lee as the most formidable agency this nation ever raised to make 4 million human beings goods instead of men. Either he knew what slavery meant when he helped maim and murder thousands in its defense, or he did not. If he did not he was a fool. If he did, Robert Lee was a traitor and a rebel–not indeed to his country, but to humanity and humanity’s God.

Out From Under The Rock

Political Cartoon is by Ingrid Rice at

The Silence Is Frightening

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Own That Decision

Yes - Honoring A Heritage Of Hate Makes You A Racist

The photo at left is of a statue honoring Confederate soldiers in the city I grew up in -- Vernon, Texas. I never understood why that statue was there -- of a soldier who fought against the United States and for the institution of slavery. But it is there, and probably will be for a long time to come (the county voted 77.1% Republican in the last election).

This is not an anomaly in Texas or the rest of the Confederate states. There are more than 1,500 statues similar to it dotted throughout these states.

Finally, there is a movement to remove the statues, and some cities (like New Orleans) have already done it. But that movement infuriates others. They claim these statues just honor their heritage, and should remain standing.

Heritage? Just what kind of heritage is it honoring? Every one of the Confederate soldiers, from the lowest private to the generals, fought against the United States of America and killed American soldiers trying to defend the Union. And they did that to make sure the rich planters in their state could continue the institution of slavery. They, and their officials, were convinced that White people were superior to Black people.

It is not uncommon to hear those who defend the statues (and the flying of a rebel flag) say they are not racists, but just want to honor their heritage. They don't seem to understand that racism is not determined by what is claimed, but by the actions of those making the claim. And if you defend and honor a heritage like this, then you are a racist (whether you want to admit it or not).

You may be a closet racist -- one who would not march with the KKK, the white supremacists, and the nazis, or openly display your feelings. But if you honor and defend the Confederacy, your actions in doing so do make you a racist. You simply cannot defend and honor those who fought to maintain slavery and white supremacy, and not be a racist.

The statues should be removed. Put them in a museum, so we can always remember this shameful chapter of our history and never repeat it -- but they don't belong in the public square. They are just reminders that we have not yet rid ourselves of the disease of racism. They are symbols of hate.

Heritage ?

Political Cartoon is by Dave Granlund at

New Poll Has Trump's Job Approval At 35%

These are the new Marist Poll results -- done between August 8th and 12th of a random national sample of 1,009 adults, with a margin of error of 3.1 points.

They show that Trump is still having a problem with the American public. Only 35% approve of the job he's doing, while 55% disapproves. And 37% think he's honest and trustworthy, while 60% don't believe that. These numbers were taken before he sided with the racists, white supremacists, and nazis on Tuesday. Will that drive his numbers even lower? It should.

The Conversation (We're Doing It Wrong)

Political Cartoon is by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Trump Has Shown Us What He Is (Un-American)

(Cartoon image is by Andy Marlette in the Pensacola News-Journal.)

The following is by Paul Krugman in the New York Times:

For Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the murderous white supremacists in Charlottesville finally confirms what has become increasingly obvious: The current president of the United States isn’t a real American.

Real Americans understand that our nation is built around values, not the “blood and soil” of the marchers’ chants; what makes you an American is your attempt to live up to those values, not the place or race your ancestors came from. And when we fall short in our effort to live up to our ideals, as we all too often do, at least we realize and acknowledge our failure.

But the man who began his political ascent by falsely questioning Barack Obama’s place of birth — a blood-and-soil argument if ever there was one — clearly cares nothing about the openness and inclusiveness that have always been essential parts of who we are as a nation.

Real Americans understand that our nation was born in a rebellion against tyranny. They feel an instinctive aversion to tyrants everywhere, and an underlying sympathy for democratic regimes, even those with whom we may currently have disputes.

But the present occupant of the White House has made no secret of preferring the company, not of democratic leaders, but of authoritarian rulers — not just Vladimir Putin, but people like Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Rodrigo Duterte, the homicidal leader of the Philippines. When Trump visited Saudi Arabia, his commerce secretary exulted in the absence of hostile demonstrations, an absence ensured by the repressiveness of the regime.

Real Americans expect public officials to be humbled by the responsibility that comes with the job. They’re not supposed to be boastful blowhards, constantly claiming credit for things they haven’t done — like Trump bragging about job creation that has continued at more or less the same pace as under his predecessor — or which never even happened, like his mythical victory in the popular vote.

Real Americans understand that being a powerful public figure means facing criticism. That comes with the job, and you’re supposed to tolerate that criticism even if you feel it’s unfair. Foreign autocrats may rage against unflattering news reports, threaten to inflict financial harm on publications they dislike, talk about imprisoning journalists; American leaders aren’t supposed to sound like that.

Finally, real Americans who manage to achieve high office realize that they are servants of the people, meant to use their position for the public good. In practice, human nature being what it is, many officials have in fact taken financial advantage of their office. But we’ve always understood that this was wrong — and presidents, in particular, are supposed to be above such things. Now we have a leader who is transparently exploiting his office for personal enrichment, in ways that all too obviously amount in practice to influence-buying by domestic malefactors and foreign governments alike.

In short, these days we have a president who is really, truly, deeply un-American, someone who doesn't share the values and ideals that made this country special.

In fact, he’s so deeply alienated from the American idea that he can’t even bring himself to fake it. We all know that Trump feels comfortable with white supremacists, but it’s amazing that he won’t even give them a light tap on the wrist. We all know that Putin is Trump’s kind of guy, but it’s remarkable that Trump won’t even pretend to be outraged at Putin’s meddling with our election. . . .

Whatever role foreign influence may have played and may still be playing, however, we don’t need to wonder whether an anti-American cabal, hostile to everything we stand for, determined to undermine everything that truly makes this country great, has seized power in Washington. It has: it’s called the Trump administration.