Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

Posted by: JDM..... | March 11, 2017

Rights, privileges, …

and, entitlement….

We are living in a time where words like “right” and “privilege” are redefined to support ideas instead of describing them as they are on their own merit. The claim to a “right” rolls easily of the tongues of those who would take something not currently theirs, or to own something at the expense of another.

We have many “rights”, basically broken down in the Constitution to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” I suppose it would be inevitable under the laws of nature and the nature of the human animal that such a noble concept would eventually begin to settle out at the same level as hyenas scrapping over pieces of fetid meat. The strong take from the weak, the weak gang up to take away from the strong, in a perpetual cycle, each blaming the other in turn.

Do I have the “right” to healthcare? Of course I do. There is no law that says I am not allowed to consume the products and services required to keep me alive, or at least reasonably functional while I do live. One of the scariest thoughts would be about a society where such laws exist. Equally frightening would be a society where selected “rights” are enforced by laws rather than protected by them. Do we want a society where one has a “right” to force his neighbor to finance same? I also have a “right” to fly to Aruba, but the onus is on me to pay for such a trip. Splitting hairs over what I have the right to make you pay for or provide is dangerous ground because it overrules our traditional sense of freedom and liberty and the right to pursue happiness, replacing that idea with raw versions of the Law of the Jungle.

Rights and responsibilities have a Yin-Yang relationship, and neither exists alone. When one or the other exists alone in direct proportion to the amount of force expended, it no longer “exists” in its original form, yet we find comfort in tweaking the old definitions to fit altered behaviors.

Healthcare is a right, but that doesn’t remove the responsibility side of the formula. We inherited a system of governance designed to interfere with the human need to play King of the Mountain and for the strong to exploit the weak. Some have operated under the mistaken believe that this system eliminated that side of our nature. It did not, and by not being vigilant, it has now reemerged under the guise of charity, goodness, and caring. Interesting. Those qualities are also part of the nature of humanity, but they cease to exist in their original form when defined and delivered in direct proportion to the amount of force exerted.

One of the aspects of rights versus privileges that we apparently have lost sight of is that, generally speaking, “rights” are natural concepts that simply exist because they are, whereas privileges exist by permission. I define my rights. Somebody else may define my privileges and what I must do in order to “earn” them. I have the right to travel freely, but doing so by operating a motor vehicle on a public highway involves privilege and permission. Self-described “sovereign citizens” might argue those points, but this is not the venue within which to engage in such a debate.

One final note about rights. It has been said that, generally speaking, my rights end where yours begin, and vice versa. Of course, the ink wasn’t dry on that declaration before exceptions were parsed out by the intellectually agile and others so inclined. Nevertheless, the fundamental idea remains intact. You do not have the right to exercise your rights by abridging mine, and the reverse. There are bound to be conflicts of interest, and we have a system of laws to address them.

I would like to continue living in a nation built around the recognition of, and respect for, individual rights. I have serious concerns when that nation begins to blur the boundary between right and privilege, when a “right” is redefined as whatever one wants without the responsibility to contribute to its realization. I don’t want to live in a society where my rights are defined by a committee or by whichever faction happens to be in power.

I have no problem with people declaring that they have a right to healthcare. I agree. I strongly disagree with their claims to the “right” to acquire those goods and services by force and at the expense of others. 

* * * * *

 

There is another word that has found a new incarnation via recent politic; “entitlement.”

Merriam-Webster defines “entitlement” as follows:

  • a : the state or condition of being entitled,
    b : a right to benefits specified especially by law or contract

  • a: a government program providing benefits to members of a specified group; also : funds supporting or distributed
    by such a program

  • a: belief that one is deserving of or entitled to certain privileges

As can be seen, entitlement is defined both as a “right” and as a “privilege”, and the concept of “right” has been shifted from that of a natural quantity to that of a government “permission” or award.

We talk about having an “entitled” culture. This has an unattractive ring to it, yet those so endowed cling to it with a death grip. Perhaps that is because the culture of entitlement has been molded from the debris of former dignity and self pride (in the positive sense of that word). Entitlement, therefore, becomes dependency.
 

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Posted by: JDM..... | February 17, 2017

The rock, the hard place…

and the Walmart tuxedo….

Good leadership seems to be made possible when those in positions of authority and power think of their situations as positions of leadership rather than as positions of authority and power, but are fully aware of the value of their authority and power. It takes a mixture of social presence, self discipline, and just enough pathology to facilitate doing things that the average bear either wouldn’t think of or wouldn’t be able to actually do if they did. History has examples of those who were excessively skewed one way or the other….too much “Mr. Nice Guy”, or too much negative pathology. The Democratic process normally weeds out the extremes, but I think we are living in a time of unusual stress and dysfunction within the population that is doing the weeding. I mean, why else would the people permit themselves to be limited to a choice between two forms of potential tyranny?

Hillary represented a known quality of “statist” thinking with a predictable progression to socialism. Her only viable challenger for the Democratic ticket was Bernie Sanders, an avowed socialist, though he tried to minimize the negative taste of that by qualifying himself as a “Democratic” socialist. Right. Is that anything like “celibate prostitution?”

On the opposite ticket, the Republicans rejected known conservatives, most with many years of experience, and brought forth an absolute wild card with observable Narcissism and no governmental experience. Even more surprising, not to mention indicative of the mood of the society, the wild card was elected.

Though it may sound a bit crazy, I think it was the only wise choice the people could have made, and here’s why.

Over the past few decades, Congress has been incrementally neutered by increasingly “progressive” policies that have enhanced the power and authority of the federal government while chipping away at the “checks and balances” built into our system of governance. The net result has been a distancing of those selected to lead from those who selected them. The people have become servants of the state rather than the other way around.

Potential third party challenges to the Demo-Republican franchise, such as the Libertarians, have been disappointing. Demonstrating rational civility doesn’t always do well against those willing and able to go the extra mile, even when much of it involves “trespassing”.

Therefore, the “people”, as it were, had to choose between a rock and a hard place, and I have no idea which candidate represented which obstacle. One choice ensured more of the same and then some more; the one thing the other choice offered was the suggestion that “more of the same” wouldn’t happen. The outcome was no landslide and no felony, despite the hype and counter-hype. Plenty of people either wanted “more of the same” or feared the unknown, but a choice was made in favor of the unknown. A surprisingly bright side is that the choice was made according to existing rules rather than by some scam created for the occasion. I wonder if people realize how close we may have come to the latter path. In any case, Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States, and people are now holding their breath to see how that will play out. As would be expected, that involves one segment emulating Chicken Little while pre-describing and reacting in advance to as-yet imaginary disasters, and another segment marching along in a near-religious fog of as-yet imaginary miracles.

President Trump still has some time left in which to set the character of his administration and how he as a “leader” will remembered, but not much, and thus far he remains skewed a bit too far into the pathological range. In another age, he’s one who could have been likely to declare himself a deity or a saint and to have acted accordingly.

My assessment would be that his most threatening opponent will prove to be his own mouth. I plead guilty to any as-yet unleveled accusations of practicing “Armchair Psychoanalyst”, my only qualification being my opinion and my only DSM being the same, and I say the man’s demon will be his Narcissism. I think the man has the potential to put a dent in our collective sense of entitlement as well as that of an equally afflicted governmental sector, if he will, and if he keeps his mouth shut.

Being a Guest of Honor at a banquet won’t help one who leans across the table and demands “Gimme the &*^%$ salt….” And insults everyone else at the table.

I don’t expect him to change.

My hope is that Congress will find the stones to offset his most egregious footfalls on the lawncookies of the world stage, and to provide some steerage to his erratic style.

My hope is that the sideshow won’t overwhelm legitimate attempts of his team to achieve some course corrections for the nation as a whole.  

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Posted by: JDM..... | February 11, 2017

immigration-reform

Posted by: JDM..... | February 2, 2017

Welcome to America…

welcome2usa_002d

Posted by: JDM..... | January 22, 2017

Persuasion…

provocation, and knowing the difference….


These are active times, reminding me somewhat of the turbulent sixties. At various times in recent years there have been upwards of more than a million people marching, or vandalizing, or both, for one reason or another. When an incident erupts into such public displays, the boiling point was clearly reached long before. The sad part is, it is hard to respond in a positive way to post-boiling point cascades of anger, grief, and violence whether it be physical, verbal, emotional, or some other force-based language of expression. The dilemma is that more civilized attempts to initiate desired changes may seem to be ignored. That is a misperception, but very few down through the centuries and millennia have had the wisdom and restraint to know that. Most recently perhaps, the late Dr. Martin Luthor King set the pace with a steady, peaceful, and determined consistency. After his assassination, and perhaps in many ways perhaps because of it, the people returned to their baser natural behaviors of violence. That has not yet changed.

Saturday, women from coast to coast filled the streets to express their concerns, goals, and complaints. As with the recent Black Lives Matter actions, the underlying reasons are real, and they are numerous. Whether they are justified, or reasonable, and whether or not the “message” has been effectively delivered depends on one’s point of view, but therein lies the key to resolution for any such conflict of interests. Historically, “differences of opinion” have “ended” almost exclusively in one of two ways: (1) peaceful communication, or (2) violence, where the one demonstrating the most power and destruction declares victory. Such “differences of opinion” have actually been resolved, however, only when true communication and discussion are engaged in. Any other conclusion is not one of agreement or even of compromise but one of compliance, and that only lasts as long as the power of force and threats of harm remain in control.

That said, when I see a “protest” or “demonstration” or even an outright riot featured on the evening news, I have two questions in mind:

First, I ask what it is that the participants really want. Bottom line. Twenty-five words or less.

Secondly, I ask “are they expressing what they want in ways that those to whom they are expressing it can feel comfortable and safe listening?”

If it is your goal for another person to make changes in his or her behaviors and/or mindset, then it is in your best interests to get your ideas across clearly and civilly. You are involved in a selling situation and your goal is to convince someone who doesn’t know you to “buy” an intangible product/idea that they either do not want or do not yet believe they need. That is not as impossible as it may sound. Untold hundreds of thousands of people have in the past earned, and are currently earning lucrative incomes by doing exactly that.

So I ask, as I see the throngs of humanity dominating the streets and open spaces of cities and towns across the nation, how are they doing? Whether or not one agrees with their message is irrelevant.

Well, some of them are doing an admirable job of maintaining their civility, their dignity, and focusing on their real long term goals. As a result, people who disagree with them, scoff at them, or simply don’t value their opinions very much are far more likely to receive the message the demonstrators are trying to convey, to acknowledge a point or two here and there, and maybe actually inch toward that long term goal sought by the demonstrators. Others are more confrontational, “in your face”, and, in my opinion, less likely, perhaps even highly unlikely, to be successful than the former. Yet others, and I like to believe they are a small minority, are only there for the party, so to speak. They’d demonstrate against air if the activity provided an opportunity act out under cover of mob camouflage, to throw bricks and fire bombs, or in some other way to simply give the finger generically. Serious protesters and demonstrators would do well to tell them to go home.

This is not to say that if everybody says please and thank you everything will work out all peachy-keen. Heck, no! Life doesn’t work that way. And it’s true, sometimes “nice guys come in last.” But I have to ask, what kind of a world do we want to live in, …..one where we only get our way through violence and control? I know, that’s the way the world is and always has been as far as we know. But we don’t have to contribute to that sad legacy any more than might be necessary in order to defend ourselves and our property. It’s simple. Never be the aggressor. I said simple, not easy.

So, what do the women who filled the streets of America Saturday really want? Bottom line…. Twenty five words, or twenty five hundred, who cares?

And, secondly, are they expressing what it is that they want in ways that those to whom they are expressing it can feel comfortable and safe listening?

How likely is it that the communications methodology being used would contribute to successful realization of the goals of a salesman?

How likely is it that the communications methodology being used would contribute to successful realization of the goals of a teacher?

And, last but not least, did the media capture the core essence and purpose of the demonstrations, or just the juicy and controversial parts that help sell advertising…..?

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 29, 2016

Morning chuckle…

 

Posted by: JDM..... | December 20, 2016

“Fake news”…

versus “Shinola”….


Fads come and go, including in politics, and in that venue, perhaps especially during an election year. It starts right there. An election period normally dominates at least two years, and the tsunami often begins even earlier. Already there are wannabes licking their chops in anticipation of 2020 and paying goons to go through each other’s garbage, literally and figuratively.

One of the noteworthy fads oozing from the festering wound known as the election of 2016 has been the rather enigmatic concept of “fake news”. Oh, really? I wasn’t aware that political pundits were into tabloid rags all of a sudden. Where is the Self Help manual for telling the difference between REAL news and FAKE news? Is there a gradient scale wherein FAUX news is more politically correct that FAKE news because it uses a French word? I thought we got over that crap sometime around the thirteenth century! I’ve got it! Authors of REAL news dine on beof, while the purveyors of scrapings and other stains from the newsroom floor will simply chow down on cow, or a “Big Mac”!

I mean, really, who gets to decide what is real and what is fake, and are there now degree programs at the finer colleges and universities in News Assessment?

Settle down. Log off Google and listen up. Hwæt! The question is a decoy, kids. The whole thing is a diabolically crafted infinite loop! All answers and none of the answers are correct because it depends upon whom you ask. Hey! Was Hillary’s broadside about “FAKE” news, FAKE news in its own right?

Did I ever even write this little essay?

Stay tuned.

Or not…

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 15, 2016

The Thinkin’ spot…

hide-e-hole_final

Posted by: JDM..... | December 10, 2016

The “Hate Crime” designation……

may itself be a hate crime….

As with so many good ideas gone bad, the “Hate Crime” designation grew out of the monumental task faced by our society in the effort to erase left-overs from the Reconstruction era. The divide between people of African heritage, whose grandparents and great grandparents had most likely been born into slavery, and those of European ancestry who had been immune to such dehumanizing circumstances, remained vast at mid-twentieth century. The Civil Rights movement, begun on multiple fronts, including the school integration conflicts, Rosa Parks decision to defy convention and the Jim Crow laws to sit where she chose on a public bus, Martin Luther King’s peaceful resistance, and more, signaled that the proverbial line in the sand had been crossed for the last time.

The overall goal was to eliminate the barriers, both statutory and cultural, that still stood between African Americans and equal access to the Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness supposedly guaranteed by the Constitution. That part was easy to understand. The countless steps to be achieved in the process, and the details involved in approaching such a goal, were then, and continue to be, another story.

With no How-To book for reference, and humanity’s unimpressive track record when it comes to learning from the errors of history, it has been like more than sixty years of running barefoot and blindfolded through a cow pasture while trying not to step in anything unpleasant. You win some, you lose some.

Personally, I believe we have come a long way, though. Men and women of African heritage earning advanced degrees now enter professions and teach at institutions where their parents and grandparents did menial labor. They fill roles as corporate and political leaders in every field today. And yet, a visible segment of their own population remains behind, and that became an issue of importance as the federal government increased its involvement to try to help move things along.

That’s where I stepped off into the abyss and parted ways with what the invisible but present and powerful “PC Police”, and the mainstream media, seemed to be insisting that everybody believe and actively parrot.

There are a number of convincing arguments stating why we should continue to depend on massive bureaucracies and an associated private sector industry for administration of the ongoing “fight for equality.” I would argue that there are also many reasons to stop what we are doing and discover what momentum, and the people themselves, can achieve.

We use artificial aids and supports in order to facilitate the learning of many skills, from physical accoutrements like training wheels and “water wings” to live experts close at hand to take over should the student lose control. In every instance, the support must eventually be removed. The question normally is not if, but when. In the case of the movement to “equalize” individual access to the benefits supposedly afforded Americans by virtue of their citizenship as well as their humanity, there is no if, there is no when. For many reasons, it seems to have become an aspect of the social and political environment, and such things cannot normally be “planned” out of existence without the use of force and without being replaced with something of similar if not equal objectionability.

In any event, at some point just about any such movement or campaign tends to become self-defeating if not allowed to stand on its own. I am of the opinion that the Civil Rights Movement of the nineteen fifties has reached that point, and that continuing “as usual” from here on out will only result in growing inequity and dependency, quite the opposite of the original intent.

The concept of an entire category of crime prosecuted on the basis of “race” or personal beliefs and feelings is ludicrous. There was a time in recent memory when African Americans lived with the expectation that they would be bypassed, overlooked, and otherwise treated as semi-citizens solely on the basis of “race”. While most of the observable and measurable expressions of this culture have been eliminated, there exist pockets of ongoing belief in such a way of life. It is the criminalization of these deeper vestiges of the past that I believe are self-contradictory and self-defeating.

History is not devoid of earlier efforts to “engineer” cultures, religions, and other arenas of human existence. Such campaigns have always included violence, always committed “wrongs” in the name of doing “right”, and have universally failed, usually by being overthrown. The question of great importance today would be, do we simply wish to pass the baton again, or do we really want to do away with the reasons for doing so?

A Hate Crime describes a presumed mind-set or belief system and criminalizes it when such criteria are associated with selected alleged actions involving selected classes of individuals against another selected class of individuals. Is not such a family of law, by its own definition, a “Hate Crime”? It is discriminatory and intentional in its application and effect.

There are other reasons to do away with the secondary prosecution of crimes based upon a presumed set of circumstances which can neither be consistently described or observed nor consistently measured. The trend can already be observed wherein minority victims of crimes very often jump almost immediately at the “Hate Crime” brass ring because it has Big Guns behind it, i.e. the federal government, and it is endorsed and encouraged by the “PC Police.”

This breeds a dependency and actually defines the minority in question as unequal. If existing crimes were prosecuted on their own merit alone, sometimes there would be convictions and sometimes there would be acquittals, just as there are with anybody else. Creating crimes to create laws to make a prosecutor’s job simpler does nothing for the alleged victim.

I would like to be able to say that the “Hate Crime” designation and its associated freight have outlived their usefulness, but there was never any place under our Constitution and presumed philosophy of governance for prosecuting an alleged crime a second time based on how the defendant is deemed to have felt about the victim. Perpetrators do not normally announce that they “hate” their victims prior to doing whatever it is they plan to do, nor do they generally provide any other oratory, though they may have at other times and other places. Such issues fall under the First Amendment and have no place in a court of criminal law.

The “Hate Crime” Was created to provide leverage to prosecute someone who might not otherwise be prosecuted or might not be prosecuted to the extent desired by those doing the prosecuting.

It has occurred to me that charging a person with a “Hate Crime” is in its own right a kind of “Hate Crime” in that it is discriminatory in both intent and application. Only certain classes warrant hate crimes being tacked on to the underlying felony. It doesn’t matter what a perpetrator may verbalize at the time of the offense. The case is built on the presumption that, because the accused belongs to a selected class and meets certain criteria, and the accuser or victim belongs to another selected class, the crime must have committed on the basis of hatred.

This is a misapplication of the term referring to a family of negative emotions because it isn’t, in fact, the emotion being prosecuted but the presumed intent some associate with that emotion. In other words, a rural southerner with a Confederate flag on his shirt is more likely to be charged with a hate crime than a northerner in a suit and tie when the respective underlying felonies they are alleged to have committed are in all other ways identical.

We could argue this point until the end of time, but I’ll not see “Hate Crimes” as anything but Medieval regardless of how many legal sharpshooters try to stare me down. Similarly, I don’t expect their game to change any time soon either. It should.

If the stated goal is, as it has supposedly been for half a century, to remove the moat between African Americans and those of European heritage, we need to stop acknowledging the moat as legitimate and we need to stop giving it real power.

When one human being assaults, kills, robs, or commits some other crime of violence or property against another, the crime itself doesn’t change because of secondary personal factors that without the felony would be irrelevant on their own merit. Tying the two together smacks of double jeopardy even though the parsers and verbal gymnasts of the legal field surely gift wrapped that one ages ago.

It has often been observed that in order to preserve our freedoms, we must also preserve the obnoxious and offensive. The racially based “Hate Crime” is a case in point. Being a member of some fringe group doesn’t change the nature of a crime committed. It may add insult to injury, so to speak, but the insulting is not a crime in its own right.

Actor Morgan Freeman summed it up best when he remarked that if we wanted to get rid of racism we should stop talking about it.

Still don’t agree with me? Okay, try this. Pick out an individual in your life, perhaps a co-worker, and every time you encounter that person that day, wrinkle your brow and ask them if they are alright. Make some observation about them not looking so hot that day. Keep it up. The person may not collapse of some presumed dire illness by the end of the day, but I guarantee they will be affected and will go home wondering if maybe there is something going on that they don’t see. It’s true. When I was an errant teen growing up outside of a major eastern city, my friends and I, when we would venture “downtown”, would sometimes stop on a street corner and begin staring up in the air. By the time we walked away, a number of people were staring upward trying to figure out what had been seen. People are very easily led.

My point is, the whole idea of “racism”, which I have questioned since I took an Anthropology course in college, long before it was even a popular concept, is kept alive by many of our very efforts to curb it. The “Jim Crow” laws are gone. There is no benefit to replacing them with a mirror image manner of thinking. We need to take down such scaffolding and “temporary” supports and let us all face the consequences of our action on an equal basis.

 

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Posted by: JDM..... | December 6, 2016

It is what it is…

unless you want it to be something else….

”It is what it is,” the somewhat hackneyed observation goes.

But, as noted by former President Bill Clinton when his ass was up against the wall, that also might “depend on what the meaning of IS, is…”

I was meandering through the day’s offerings of what now passes for “news” the other day and saw that, in spite of efforts to move on by some, Election Delusional Disorder is still very much a part of the scene. I find that annoying. It’s difficult to do so much as contemplate farting without having the Enforcers of one philosophy or the other (there are only two, you know: “my way” or the “highway”) launching their canned litany of labels, banishment edicts, and other dismissive insults.

I’m as guilty at the next person, of course. That’s not by desire, but by default according to my own complaint about the is being what it is. While I readily admit that I do not align with those pigeon-holed as “liberal, progressive, left, what have you,” I vigorously resist their attempts to shove me like a suppository up the tailpipe of the population similarly but oppositely pigeon-holed as “conservative, right wing, what have you.” Truth be told, I am a composite of my own nature, incorporating elements of each as well as some that might defy labeling.

The vitriol may have slowed down, but the momentum is far from having been spent. I must say in their defense that the political parties themselves have been pretty well behaved; the citizenry has not. But, only the ones the media seem to cluster around like hyenas at a fresh kill. In fact, we see some interesting comparisons between legitimate peaceful protests and the inevitable sociopaths just looking for an excuse to cause damage and/or harm.

I don’t lay responsibility for that kind of behavior on any political party or on any candidate.

Such incidents are the sole responsibility of the individuals who choose to act in such a manner, and they should be prosecuted. I include those hiding behind the “race card” and marching around carrying signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter” as if that phrase serves as tacit license to do anything they please. Those legitimately concerned about issues in our society are the ones quietly working to facilitate real changes more in the manner of Dr. King. The battle cries of the vandals are stupid, and their behaviors are worse.

Somewhere between the idiots just mentioned and those more inclined to act like civilized human beings even when they are angry or disappointed lies a population of passionate supporters of “anybody but Trump” who seem to be having a difficult time letting go and moving forward. They don’t commit arson and vandalism, but they do behave a bit foolishly, with a focus on demanding satisfaction of their personal druthers rather than on supporting the nation’s wellbeing as a whole. They would argue that point, of course, as would I, I suppose, if the shoe was on my foot.

Those burning flags as a viral middle finger gesture, on the other hand, are simply immature and not making statements of any value. Behavioral graffiti. This is touted as a free country, so I suppose that would include the freedom to act like an ass hole. Carry on, then.

If they are stealing the flags to burn, they are guilty of theft. If they are buying them, they are dumber than I thought.

Whatever. Abusing a symbol of what the country values and stands for has little or no affect on the target of their angst. Kind of like letting the air out of your neighbor’s tires because his dog barked in the middle of the night.

Eventually, of course, the personality disordered and terminally preadolescent will become bored and latch onto some fresh issue to justify whatever it is they want to justify, and the passionate will begin to refocus on their personal missions and causes again. Chicken Little will burn out his supply of listeners, will stop running around in circles predicting political doom and gloom, and probably will put on a new sandwich board to scream authoritatively at people about something else.

Regardless of how long it takes to arrive at the next “is” to redefine, I’m sure it will be a long time before one can stop instinctively doing an eye roll when reminiscing about the “Election of 2016.”

 

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