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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax


Half of the US Is Broke


The myth of the Christian country


“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937


Middle East friendship chart


Corporations enriching shareholders


Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks



"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.

The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  





  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:


  • Jim Hightower:

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column

Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 

Hard Times in Oregon: 


The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   




    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People


    Connecting the dots between homelessness & hunger in Oregon and Washington County: 


•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.


•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


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RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ


  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 


Trump & The Mob


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 


Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax


Half of the US Is Broke


The myth of the Christian country


Housing Needs in Oregon 




"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1940

  • "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

  • Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw



From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now

The Daily Kos

Blue Oregon


"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001

    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 



"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  


"You see things; and you say, 'Why?' 

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?"  

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921) 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."  

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11 

"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”   

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."    

- Abraham Lincoln 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society  

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..." 

- Edmund Burke  

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”  

- Jonathan Swift 

A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  


"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison



Squareapace has closed the "comments" section on my blog as a way around this contact me via my Yahoo e-mail address posted on the left sidebar...   


















































Editor's Note:  Is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party going to control the message in 2020?  The reclaiming of the FDR New Deal legacy is a reminder of what the country needs to embrace but when FDR was elected for his first term he ran on a "balanced budget" plank not the "soak the rich" rehetoric he used in his later campaigns in the heat of the Great Drepression and the opposition to his legislation by the Supreme Court..

Medicare for All and Free Tuition for College students has a bumper sticker appeal until one looks under the hood as voters will no doubt do as the 2020 campaign rolls out.  As a the Kaiser Foundatiion tracking poll shows (see my FB page) - once vpters realize their taxes will go up along with fhose of Big Pharma the lust to soak the rich will diminish by the realities that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Poliitcs is a balancing act. The devil is in the details.  

So while I'm happy to see the left dominate the narrative - once a nominee to run against Drumpt is chosen, the party will have to turn to the center or more moderate ways of fixing Obamacare et al.  Those voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania which were keys in 2016.   

Which candidate can craft such a message to bring Dems and Independents into the fold?  In 2020 be careful what you wish for you might get it!  4 more years of the Drumpt.   


Contenders swing left in return to party’s FDR roots 


A flurry of proposals to slap new taxes on the ultra-wealthy, extend Medicare to all Americans and make college debtfree reflect a rapidly changing Democratic Party that sees a sharp left turn as the path to defeating President Donald Trump.

Some of the party’s top 2020 presidential hopefuls are wading into uncharted political waters to demonstrate their commitment to mitigating income inequality.

But where party activists see an opportunity to excite voters, some veterans of past campaigns and moderate Democrats warn that the party wins elections not by indulging its most liberal impulses but by hewing to the political center. And Trump has made clear he’s ready to use the leftward tilt by Democrats as a wedge issue.

Five U.S. senators with eyes on the Democratic nomination have endorsed single- payer health insurance, a government- guaranteed job, and subsidies to ensure Americans can graduate from college free of debt. Kamala Harris also wants a $3 trillion tax cut for families whose earnings fall under $100,000. Elizabeth Warren wants a yearly wealth tax on assets above $50 million. Cory Booker wants “baby bonds” for poorer kids to bridge racial inequities. Bernie Sanders wants a massive expansion in the estate tax.

“The Democrats are swinging for the fences this time,” said Stephanie Kelton, an economist who advised Sanders in his bid for the 2016 Democratic nomination. “You’re seeing kind of a return to the roots of the Democratic Party in the FDR era.”

Much like Franklin Delano Roosevelt did in the 1930s,

Democratic contenders are pushing tax hikes on the wealthy to finance an expansion of government programs. They’re also seeking to make good on the “Second Bill of Rights” that Roosevelt proposed in the 1944 State of the Union, one year before he died and the goal fizzled.

“The things that FDR enumerated in that speech — the right to a living wage and job and education and housing and secure retirement — that’s big stuff, and you have someone on the Democratic side with legislation for almost everything on that agenda,” Kelton said.

The Democratic hunger for more liberal policies was evident in the 2018 election as Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Boston and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York ousted longtime Democratic incumbents.

“People are sick of half-measures,” said Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii. “Americans are struggling mightily to get into the middle class, or stay in the middle class, and the job of the Democratic Party is to come up with a real program to solve those problems.”

“There’s still that middle section of the country that wants a more moderate approach to governing. So yes, there’s always a danger,” said Adrienne Elrod, a former spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. “But you’re not going to get through a Democratic primary if you take moderate stances on very high-profile, important economic issues like health care, like income inequality.”

PS:  see analysis by EJ Dionne in my "comments" section.  Socialism is not a 4 letter word anymore!   





A handshake, then Trump being Trump - the bully at work.   

lI can't recall a presidential speech before a joint session of Congress where the POTUS marches down the aisle, delivers copies of his speech to the Speaker and Majority leader then launches into his speech before the Speaker has a chance to say "it's my distinct privilege and high honor" to introduce the President of the United States. What happened to decorum, tradition and a note of civility and unity? 

"The politics of revenge, retribution & resistance..." Who is the author of such politics - eh? Given his history of vitriol I think we know! But Trump was clearly referring to those who don't think he is a legitimate POTUS, those who want to investigate the many allegations against him, his campaign and his administration and the role of women who've been mobilized against his regime from day one! 

At one point Trump threatened that if Congress continued it's investigations of him there would be no chance of compromise, just "war" - a very Nixonian moment. The bully at work! One was hoping he'd say "I'm not a crook!"

Fact checking  paints a "liar, liar" picture of Trump's claims. He began with olive branches about times of unity and the promise of compromise, then veered into the politics of fear (immigrants, "socialism" and inveighing against investigations) He ended with another war on AIDS and cancer - we've been down that road before. Anytime "war on.." is declared we know that's a losing hand! 

As a student of the politics of health care, there was no substance offered to explain how he would reduce drug costs or improve our health care system. Only if one allows Medicare to bargain for drug prices will Big Pharma be stopped fleecing Americans. Since the R&D on drugs usually comes from publicly funded research, not from Big Pharma, will things change?. The power of our monopoly drug system needs to be checked. 

His most passionate and harsh words came in his pro-life diatribe (red meat for his base) and daring the House not to investigate him if they want to get anything done on immigration. Typical Trump, my way or the highway - the transactional leader at his bullying best. I hope Pelosi sticks it to him on the Wall and forces him to try the end around of declaring a national emergency - clearly an unconstitutional abrogation of presidential power. 

Trump doesn't respect nor understand our checks and balances system and he clearly has no knowledge of the Steel Seizure Cases in the Truman era when Truman tried to seize the steel industry on grounds of a national emergency during the Korean War. The Warren Court didn't buy it and Truman learned a lesson the hard way as Trump will have to. How ironic if it happens when his picks for the court give him an ideological majority. 




EDITOR'S NOTE:  If the housing market produced affordable housing - this idea would not be necessary. But the market only builds high cost rental housing,   



Adding tenant protections for housing stability 

Kotek, a Portland Democrat, is speaker of the Oregon House. Courtney, a Salem Democrat, is president of the Oregon Senate.

Every Oregonian, every human being, needs a place to call home. Shelter is a basic need. Safe, stable housing for everyone is the foundation of a safe, stable community.

Unfortunately, we hear stories every day about extreme rent spikes and sudden evictions across Oregon that are robbing people of their basic human right to shelter.

In 2017, there were over 152,000 Oregon renters who spent more than half of their income on their housing, according to the American Community Survey. That’s one in four renters. Too many renters are just one unexpected financial crisis away from becoming homeless. We know from newspapers and social service providers that Oregonians in every corner of the state have experienced unbearable rent increases and unfair evictions.

The Legislature must confront this crisis head-on. We must smooth the way for more construction. We must increase emergency housing assistance. We must publicly finance more affordable housing across Oregon.

We believe all solutions should be on the table if our state is to get ahead of the housing crisis.

One of those solutions is Senate Bill 608. Therental market needs morepredictability and fairness.

Senate Bill 608 seeks to address two main issues that have wreaked havoc on too many renters: No-cause evictions and sudden extreme rent increases.

Today, our laws allow many renters to be evicted with as little as 30-days’ notice for no reason and for renters to receive unlimited rent increases.

Senate Bill 608 is an innovative, hybrid solution combining common-sense tenant protections with reasonable accommodations for landlords and developers. It prohibits no-cause evictions after 12-months of a tenancy. The bill also protects people by preventing extreme rent increases.

This bill is not the “rent control” of yesteryear. Studies show modern rent stabilization policies prevent displacement without deterring new construction or negatively impacting building maintenance. For those who are recycling old opposition arguments about obsolete rent-control policies to maintain the status quo, we call you out for relying on studies that don’t apply to the solution we are proposing.

Landlords would still be able to evict tenants for just causes, like nonpayment of rent, violation of rental agreements, or sale of the property. They would also be able to raise rent on individual tenants once a year at a reasonable amount and reset the rent for new tenancies. Senate Bill 608 also exempts new construction for a period of 15 years to ensure that new supply is not discouraged. This innovative proposal protects renters without being unreasonably burdensome for landlords or developers.

This is a fair proposal that we know will make a real difference. This is a significant step forward. It is one part of a broad range of solutions we need to address this statewide crisis we have been mired in since the Great Recession.

We have the chance to create a fairer system. We can prevent the extreme rent spikes and no-cause evictions that destabilize our neighbors, disrupt our communities, and increase homelessness.

The housing crisis impacts every community. Rent increases as high as 100 percent, mass evictions, and unfair displacement occur in places as diverse as Salem, Prineville, Medford and Beaverton. While most landlords do right by their tenants, the evidence is clear that unreasonable rent increases and no-cause evictions are harming families and communities.

Kids cannot stay focused and learn in school when they are worried about where their family will sleep at night. Parents can’t excel at work when they are worried about where they will move next. Seniors living on a fixed income are forced to choose between paying rent and medicine and food if their rent increases significantly. We all need a basic foundation of stability.

Oregon can become the first state to take such bold action. We can show the rest of the country what we value: all Oregonians having a safe and stable place to call home.



Editor's Note"  -

As Millennials surpass the Boomers as the largest demographic - the Democratic Party ought to be paying attention. My two sons are in their 40s so they are not M's but they face the same challenges... We can't continue to "eat our future."

The author is right that we've disinvested in higher education increasing the debt of college aged students, especially those attending public universities where people like Phil Knight would rather give to athletic programs than financial aide.

Private colleges like Pacific do a better job of packaging aid to students by discounting their high tuitions but it still poses a huge drain on their grad's futures as workers, would be home owners and entrepreneurs.

We have assumed that everyone should attend a 4 year college...  

Back in my high school days - we had an academic track with the goal of getting into college BUT we also had career tracks supported by home ec, ag and shop classes to train workers to get their first job in their own communities.   

Community colleges were created to make this an even more robust transition from high school to one's first job.  But in the mania to teach to the test we've lost the goal of altnerative work centered/hands on education.  

We hear our hi-tech corporations in Oregon complain they can't get qualified workers from our schools so they go elsewhere.  My suggestion is that we form public private networks which create a seamless process from high school to one's first job as they do so well in Germany.  

In my experience internships at the college level are a great entrance into a career. Apprentiship programs which link high schools and the job world should be the other option for future workers and taxpayers.  

One size does not fit all...    

 The Fleecing of Millennials

Their incomes are flat. Their wealth is down. And Washington is aggravating future threats. 

David Leonhardt

By David LeonhardtOpinion Columnist, Jan. 27, 2019

For Americans under the age of 40, the 21st century has resembled one long recession.

I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, given that the economy has now been growing for almost a decade. But the truth is that younger Americans have not benefited much.

Look at incomes, for starters. People between the ages of 25 and 34 were earning slightly less in 2017 than people in that same age group had been in 2000:

The wealth trends look even worse. Since the century’s start, median net worth has plummeted for every age group under 55: 

Why is this happening? The main reason is a lack of economic dynamism. Not as many new companies have been forming since 2000 — for reasons that experts don’t totally understand — and existing companies have been expanding at a slower rate. (The pace of job cuts has also fallen, which is why the unemployment rate has stayed low.) Rather than starting new projects, companies are sitting on big piles of cash or distributing it to their shareholders.

This loss of dynamism hurts millennials and the younger Generation Z, even as baby boomers are often doing O.K. Because the layoff rate has declined since 2000, most older workers have been able to hold on to their jobs. For those who are retired, their income — through a combination of Social Security and 401(k)’s — still outpaces inflation on average. 

But many younger workers are struggling to launch themselves into good-paying careers. They then lack the money to buy a first home or begin investing in the stock market. Yes, older workers face their own challenges, like age discrimination. Over all, though, the generational gap in both income and wealth is growing

Given these trends, you’d think the government would be trying to help the young. But it’s not. If anything, federal and state policy is going in the other direction. Medicare and Social Security have been spared from cuts. Programs that benefit younger workers and families have not. 

The biggest example is higher education. Over the past decade, states have cut college funding by an average of 16 percent per student. It’s a shocking form of economic myopia. In response, tuition has risen, and students have taken on more debt. Worst of all, many students attend colleges with high dropout rates and end up with debt but no degree.

And as badly as the government is treating the young today, the future looks even more ominous. 

First, the national debt, while manageable now, is on pace to soar. The primary cause is the cost of health care: Most Americans receive far morein Medicare benefits than they paid in Medicare taxes. The Trump tax cut also plays a role. It is increasing the debt — and it mostly benefits older, affluent household

Second, the warming planet is likely to cause terrible damage and bring huge costs. 

Young Americans favor aggressive action, now, to slow climate change. But the Republican Party — which wins elections with strong support from older voters — has vetoed any such action. As a result, greenhouse gases keep spewing into the atmosphere, and the climate crisis is likely to be far worse than it needs to be. Today’s young Americans will be left to suffer the consequences and bear the costs.

RAD:  Motivation to vote in 2020...  You sit this one out at your peril.   

Last week, one of those young Americans — somebody who qualifies as an older millennial — announced that he was running for president: the 37-year-old mayor of South Bend, Ind., Pete Buttigieg. A Navy veteran and Rhodes scholar who’s been praised by Barack Obama, Buttigieg (“BOOT-edge-edge”) is a rising star in Democratic politics. But of course he is a long shot to win the nomination. He is the mayor of a moderate-size city, after all.

And yet I think his candidacy is important, because it has the potential to influence the entire campaign. Buttigieg kicked off his run by talking about “intergenerational justice” and made clear that he would focus sharply on the future. After we spoke on Friday, I looked at my notes and discovered he hadn’t said “Trump” once.

During our conversation, I asked him how he hoped to win over older Americans — who, to their credit, vote at much higher rates than the young — and he told me an intriguing story. When he first ran for mayor of South Bend in 2011, he had the money to conduct only one poll. In it, his team asked voters how they would feel about having such a young mayor. The group most likely to see it as an advantage were the oldest voters.

“Many of the people who respond most positively to a moral message about the future are older people,” he said. “The American story is one of making sure that each generation is better off than the last. I don’t want my generation to be the first not to enjoy that. But I also think older generations don’t want to be the ones to cause that.”

There are some unavoidable trade-offs between the young and the old: A dollar spent on Medicare is unavailable for universal pre-K. But the country’s biggest economic problems aren’t about hordes of greedy old people profiting off the young.

They’re about an economy that showers much of its bounty on the already affluent, at the expense of most Americans — and of our future. The young pay the biggest price for these inequities.

That’s a vital subject for the 2020 campaign, whoever the leading candidates end up being.

Sign up for David Leonhardt’s daily newsletter with commentary on the news and reading suggestions from around the web.



OPINION - George Will

Trump an inexpressibly sad specimen to behold 

Half or a quarter of the way through this interesting experiment with an incessantly spiteful presidency, much of the nation has become accustomed to daily mortifications. Or has lost its capacity for embarrassment, which is even worse.

If the country’s condition is calibrated simply by economic data — if, that is, America is nothing but an economy — then the state of the union is good. Except that after two years of unified government under the party that formerly claimed to care about fiscal facts and rectitude, the nation faces a $1 trillion deficit during brisk growth and full employment. Unless the president has forever banished business cycles — if he has, his modesty would not have prevented him from mentioning it — the next recession will begin with gargantuandeficits, which will be instructive.

The president has kept his promise not to address the unsustainable trajectory of the entitlement state (about the coming unpleasant reckoning, he says: “Yeah, but I won’t be here”), and his party’s congressional caucuses have elevated subservience to him into a political philosophy. The Republican-controlled Senate — the world’s most overrated deliberative body — will not deliberate about, much less pass, legislation the president does not favor. The evident theory is that senatorial dignity is too brittle to survive the disapproval of a president not famous for familiarity with actual policies.

The president’s most consequential exercise of power has been the abandonment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opening the way for China to fill the void of U.S. involvement. His protectionism — government telling Americans what they can consume, in what quantities and at what prices — completes his extinguishing of the limited-government pretenses of the GOP, which needs an entirely new vocabulary. Pending that, the party is resorting to crybaby conservatism: We are being victimized by “elites,” markets, Wall Street, foreigners, etc.

After 30 years of U.S. diplomatic futility regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the artist of the deal spent a few hours in Singapore with Kim Jong Un, then tweeted: “There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.” What price will the president pay — easing sanctions? ending joint military exercises with South Korea? — in attempts to make his tweet seem less dotty?

By his comportment, the president benefits his media detractors with serial vindications of their disparagements. They, however, have sunk to his level of insufferable self-satisfaction by preening about their superiority to someone they consider morally horrifying and intellectually cretinous. For most Americans, President Trump’s expostulations are audible wallpaper, always there but not really noticed. Still, the ubiquity of his outpourings in the media’s outpourings gives American life its current claustrophobic feel.

Dislike of him should be tempered by this consideration: He is an almost inexpressibly sad specimen. It must be misery to awaken to another day of being Donald Trump. He seems to have as many friends as his pluperfect self-centeredness allows, and as he has earned in an entirely transactional life. His historical ignorance deprives him of the satisfaction of working in a house where much magnificent history has been made. His childlike ignorance — preserved by a lifetime of single-minded self-promotion — concerning governance and economics guarantees that whenever he must interact with experienced and accomplished people he is as bewildered as a kindergartener at a seminar on string theory.

Which is why this fountain of self-refuting boasts (“I have a very good brain”) lies so much. He does so less to deceive anyone than to reassure himself. And as balm for his base, which remains oblivious to his likely contempt for them as sheep who can be effortlessly gulled by preposterous fictions. The tungsten strength of his supporters’ loyalty is as impressive as his indifference to expanding their numbers.

Either the electorate, bored with a menu of faintly variant servings of boorishness, or the 22nd Amendment will end this, our shabbiest but not our first shabby presidency.

As Mark Twain and fellow novelist William Dean Howells stepped outside together one morning, a downpour began and Howells asked, “Do you think it will stop?” Twain replied, “It always has.” © 2018, Washington Post Writers Group