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Wrong and Wronger
I keep trying, but I keep failing. Whenever I think I’ve found the answer, it always turns out to be unsatisfying, always inadequate. I’m beginning to think there is no solution for this puzzle, at least not in this world.

What is it, I continue to ask myself, that keeps Trump supporters going? Why do they persist in believing in this guy? I have explored several possible explanations in this space. One relies on the separate universe theory. Under this construct, these people receive their “facts” from the opinion shows on Fox News and from various online sources, and therefore they come to different conclusions about the world than those of us who rely on more traditional sources of information.

Then there is the hypothesis that Trumpers are people who have an authoritarian mindset — that is, they want a strong figure to tell them the way things are and exactly what to think and do. There is also the thesis that these folks are just happy to have an excuse to be cruel and hateful. Simple tribalism is another suggested motive, one which postulates that people tend to divide themselves into teams and tend to root for their own team no matter how it plays the game. The list goes on, but nothing on that list is completely satisfying, so I just keep straining to make sense of the motivations of MAGA-heads.

Which brings me to this week’s conjecture. We start with the premise that nobody wants to admit they are wrong…or that they made a mistake of any kind. Such admissions are confessions of fallibility. We would much rather be thought of as reliable sources, perhaps even as founts of wisdom. The more we admit to mistakes, the further away we drift from the ideal. Nobody wants to do that.

Based strictly on my own observations, I would argue that those on the right of the political spectrum are much less apt to admit they are wrong. More often, they choose to double down on their faulty assertions and count that stubbornness as a strength. That may feel right, but such a proclivity merely piles more proof of fallibility on top of the original error. Those on the left, conversely, display a tendency to apologize even when they might be right. Instead of simply bending over backwards to be fair, they are sometimes willing to tie themselves in knots to get there.

When it comes to Trumpers, the stakes are even higher. After repeatedly doubling down, tripling down, quadrupling down on the demonstrably boneheaded positions of their leader, it’s even harder for them to admit their mistake. To concede that they may have erred in ever believing this guy — much less to have believed in him — would be a much heavier lift than the admission of one little mistake. It would amount to an admission that they were fools. Colossal fools. Mistakes, after all, can be overcome by merely owning up to them, and perhaps even learning from them. But foolhardiness…that is a permanent condition.

Trumpers, then, have come too far to turn back. Whatever got them to this place, whether it was tribalism or authoritarianism or meanness or plain old gullibility, they are now stuck with no place to go but forward — or downward, which is where this whole mess is heading.

Unfortunately for those of us who sometimes admit when we are wrong, the Trumpers will still be there when we get to the other side of this. And they will still be fools…unless I am very much mistaken.
In the Dark
Maybe this is a metaphor for our new reality. Walting in the dark for the lights to come back on. Either that, or waiting in the dark for word to run like hell so as not to be burned to a crisp in a wildfire. I’m still not sure which it will be.

It is my belief, as I sit here, that my electricity will soon be returned to me, and that no immediate harm will come to me and my loved ones. That is not to say that life will return to normal, because normal isn’t normal any more. The good old days are not coming back.

Those days had problems of their own, of course, like the possibility of all-out nuclear war. That particular Sword of Damocles is still hanging there, but somehow its isn’t the source of dread it used to be. It has, however, has been joined by a new sword that’s all about global warming and the slow, agonizing death of human civilization. It is looming over me right now as I wait here for a siren, or a whiff of smoke, or a call to evacuate.

Nuclear war is certainly a horrifying prospect, but all it would take to save us from it, really, is a couple of good, strong treaties. Global warming, on the other hand, almost has a life of its own. It needs no ill will to motivate it, but instead grows more and more menacing even without conscious human participation. It seems too big, too complicated, too relentless to be stopped by mere human effort.

So here I sit, dividing my time between simple annoyance and existential dread, depending on which possible outcome I’m thinking about. No matter which it is, though, after the power is restored, I will still be totally in the dark.
No One But You
Are you tired of people?
Are you fed up with fools?
Has your mellow been harshed
By all of their rules?

Then why not just split
And cut off all contact?
Abandon your stake in
This lame social contract?

Just head for the hills
Find yourself a nice cave
Blow out the bear stink
And stop having to shave

Now you’re in charge, man
So kick back and enjoy it
None of those bozos
Is here to destroy it

I should mention here, though
One link is a bit weak
Cause if that bear comes back
Then you’ll be up Shit Creek
What Oath?
I took my first vow when I was 14. It was my promise as a soon-to-be-confirmed member of the Catholic Church that I would abstain from alcohol until I turned 21. By the time I hit 15, I had already broken that vow.

I am not proud of having this mark on my record. I was young and at the very beginning of my hitch as a Soldier of Christ, but that is not really an excuse. I made a solemn commitment (to God personally, as I remember), and I wouldn’t blame people who might think that I am an untrustworthy weasel for breaking it. To those people I can only say that my record on vows has been very good since that first one.

I have a pretty good history with pledges, too. I do feel a little squirrelly when I “pledge allegiance to the flag” (it’s just a piece of cloth, after all), but I am still genuinely patriotic, even in these times of national shame — and that is the true essence of that pledge. My everyday promises hold up pretty well too (if you don’t mind my saying so), and I do take pride in keeping my word.

Which brings us to the subject of oaths. I’ve taken a few of those, as well. Two, at least — one on becoming a member of the State Bar of California, another when I was sworn in as a fresh-faced young District Attorney. Both of those oaths involved swearing to support the Constitution of the United States. Let me say plainly that I did then, and I still do. In fact, my belief in the Constitution and the rule of law remains central to all my thoughts about politics.

Oh, I have broken a few laws in my day, and some of those violations I am even proud of, but I never stopped believing in the primacy of the Constitution. I am guessing, however, that Mike Pompeo does not share my view. Nor, I would assume, do any of the lawyers and public officials in and around the Trump administration.

But let me focus briefly on Secretary of State Pompeo. He has taken a lot more oaths than I have. In addition to the solemn oath he took on being sworn in at State, he also graduated from West Point. He is a member of the Bar, and was, until recently, a member of Congress. All of those gigs require oaths to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. All the evidence isn’t in yet, but appears that Mike has violated every one of those oaths…repeatedly, and without a whit of regret.

What’s more, he is, by his own proclamation, a devout Christian. All of those oaths, then, were sworn to God. I wonder how he handles the possibility that he might burn in hell forever for backstabbing the Almighty.

That is for him to deal with. I resigned my commission as as Soldier of Christ long ago, so that aspect of my vow-breaking is no longer an issue. All I have left is the residual guilt over my broken word. I don’t think Pompeo has even that. Nor do any of these other pathetic enablers of the Felon-in-Chief, including the ultra-pathetic Lindsey Graham. Didn’t their oaths mean anything to them?

I feel a bit embarrassed to even ask that question. Do I reveal myself as the pathetic one here by clinging to my innocence about such matters? Maybe, but if cynicism about the rule of law is the alternative, then I have to decline that choice. Better to keep on living in a dream world where a promise is a promise, and where violators of solemn oaths will get what they deserve.

I’d like to think that those just rewards will at least come in the next life for those people. Sadly, I am no longer so innocent as to believe in divine justice. For me and for the rule of law, it’s now or never.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon