Life Is Interesting

Life Is Interesting

By George Smith — 11/23/2020

Life is interesting in the best of times. It is also interesting, as well as somewhat perplexing and frightening,in the worst of times.

In my seven-plus decades of life, 2020 was the most frightening and perplexing year I can remember.

Having lived through the civil rights marches, the Vietnam War protests, the assassinations of a president, two major civil rights leaders and a man destined to be president, as well as the criminal and corrupt exploits that led to three presidents being humiliated and disgraced, I thought I was prepared for anything.

Then 2020 rolled in. Talk about a sucky year!

Between a president who thinks democracy is like a finger widget to be spun around at will, a country and political parties so divided that the only discernible result was a volatile eruption of pettiness, open animosity and needless deaths, and a pandemic that consumed national collective energy, will and more than 250,000  lives like a Hoover picks up stray dust bunnies and the entire year has been a nightmare.

What is happening now in the U.S. is a travesty. We will have a new president in January. But the sitting president refuses to acknowledge that fact, and at the same time has abdicated his presidential duties.

While world leaders had a virtual G20 summit and were discussing the COVID 19 pandemic, President Trump went to play golf.  While the most recent surge in coronavirus infections are swamping hospitals across the nation, Trump is tweeting “poor me!” missives and planning ways to cjntjbue to divide the citizens into “us and them” camps.

While President-elect Joe Biden was trying to get the information guaranteed by law and tradition about “peaceful transfer of power” from one administration to another, Trump was fighting his lopsided defeat with frivolous lawsuits in key states and prohibiting any administration official from giving information to Biden’s transition team.

In effect, this country can be likened to  ship with a captain that is missing in action, a crew which is awaiting orders, a broken engine and no rudder, the vessel floating aimlessly on a current of despair.

President Trump, despondent over his rejection by 80 million American voters, is determined to not relinquish power. But, if he must, he also is determined to leave the new captain with a ship that is floundering in rough economic seas, its hull broken and taking on water and all internal systems inoperable.

This is Trump’s lifelong method of operations: All actions will be at “my@ command and done “my” way; if not, everything will be dumped in a shredder and rendered useless.

He cares nothing about the casualties created by his callous actions, he just cares that his personal whims, wants, desires and needed are met.

One term of the Trump Administration was four years too many.

Prayers to Joe Biden and his administration officials that they can right the ship of state.

God knows they are going to need all the help they can get.

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STOP THE UNNECESSARY DESTRUCTION

Scenic Texas

SCENIC TEXAS CALLS ON TXDOT TO STOP THE UNNECESSARY DESTRUCTION OF 250+ ACRES OF TREES IN EAST TEXAS

State Agency Fails to Provide Evidence to Support “New Traffic Safety Program”

(AUSTIN, TEXAS) August 24, 2020 — Scenic Texas, the state’s only non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of our state’s visual environment, particularly as seen by the traveling public, is urging the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to stop two TxDOT highway projects in Northeast Texas from destroying 250 acres of trees. This project is part of a “safety program” that TxDOT is piloting in East Texas to be applied to the rest of the state.

In a July 13 letter sent to the Texas Transportation Commission, TxDOT and legislators, Scenic Texas outlined its concerns about two TxDOT projects (see below for project details) in the agency’s Atlanta District which encompasses nine counties. Combined, these projects will clear approximately 250 acres of trees along 110 miles of public Rights-of-Way (ROW) by an unprecedented doubling of clear zones from 30 feet to 60 feet. Scenic Texas believes these are the first two projects approved under this program but because the program is state-wide, these types of tree-clearing projects could happen anywhere in Texas.

Scenic Texas Executive Director Sarah Tober says that, “Scenic Texas agrees our state’s highway infrastructure should meet rigorous safety standards and provide ample clearance in case of an accident or need to pull over. However, engineers from TxDOT have seemingly based their decision to double this already generous clear zone on intuition rather than evidence. No state or national studies, data, or calculations have been publicly provided to support this decision. While TxDOT provided information to Scenic Texas on the number of off-road crashes in the area, no detail was given to demonstrate whether the injuries or fatalities involving drivers who ultimately hit trees had contributing factors before leaving the highway. For example, distracted driving, drunk driving, texting, or other driver error could have been the actual cause of most if not all of the accidents and thus the real reason the driver left the road and hit a tree.”

Tober continued, “In fact, a number of studies exist that conclude trees along highways help to slow down drivers. Trees also provide valuable environmental benefits including the protection of pavement and a scenic drive that, in some instances, took decades or centuries to make. Additionally, the decision to double the clear zone in the public ROW will have fiscal implications for TxDOT since broader ROWs require more maintenance.”

Scenic Texas maintains that the current 30-foot clearance zone has proven to be ample enough space for public protection, and that clear-cutting publicly-owned trees beyond 30 feet has not been proven to increase highway safety. Moreover, it reflects a lack of good stewardship of taxpayer dollars and harms the state’s scenic beauty. If allowed to proceed, these projects will set a negative precedent for TxDOT to arbitrarily double the clearance zone in the public ROW and destroy hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of publicly-owned trees, many of which are native.

In his August 11 letter to Scenic Texas, TxDOT Executive Director James Bass said that TxDOT, “will be planting wildflowers along the stretch of roadways where the trees have been removed.” Scenic Texas believes that most Texans cherish their trees and would consider this a gross misuse of taxpayer dollars and contrary to the 20-year-old Green Ribbon Program. This taxpayer-funded initiative is intended for abatement of non-attainment standards under the Clean Air Act through the planting of highway trees and shrubs. While Scenic Texas is in support of most beautification efforts by TxDOT, the nonprofit organization of 35 years is adamantly against the clearing of trees only to plant wildflowers in these trees stead. In addition to severely altering the beauty of our highways, taxpayers will first be paying for the clearcutting of trees and then will be paying for the planting of wildflowers and other maintenance of the expanded ROW.

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Donald J Trump Is Not The President

By George Smith — 11/16/2020

Correction: He IS the current president, but he is not governing, not taking a leadership roll in guiding the country through this perilous time. In fact, instead of being the commander in chief, he has donned the mantle  of abstainer in chief.

As expected, he is tweeting, moaning his daily choruses of “Woe is me! Yet another hoax to fight,” and still looking for fictitious election fraud ploys in various states to prove he was cheated  out of a second term.

Oh, he is golfing and watching TV cable news and screeching at any commentator who dares suggest his barrage of lawsuits in multiple states will not change the Electoral College total. For him, that’s business as usual.

But…he is not performing the duties of president.

He is going out of office like he came in, poor-mouthing his treatment by the media, claiming he won the election in a landslide, making promises he cannot keep, striking out at anyone he considers “disloyal”, acting like a Tootsie Pop stealing bully during recess.

To those supporters of Trump: This cannot be a happy time; too much rancor and vitriol have been passed around in the last four years to make this transition from delusional egotism and ignorance of how government works to a calm, try-to-get-along-with-the-opposing-party administration an easy one.

But, it’s time for the supporters of this spit-fit persona of a political clown and a personality disaster to think more about the future of this country and less about upholding the allegiance to  the Cult of Trump.

Donald Trump was not/is not a straight shooter; he lies when the truth was evident and would have served him and his party better.

He was not a skilled negotiator; Russia, Syria and North Korea played him for a fool; his trade agreements and his statements about their success were laughable; getting out of the Iran nuclear agreement and the global climate accord endangers the future of this country.

His decision to attack the competency of the national media AND the nation’s intelligence services was stupid and asinine.

In a phrase, Trump sees himself as a dictatorial strongman whose word is law and every thought and whim are of genius caliber.

I will not argue nor second-guess the support Trump garners from those who totally are absorbed by their belief that abortion is wrong. Personally, I will not insert myself in a situation between a woman, her doctor and her God.

But in all other issues, I cannot understand how anyone who is not a hardshell racist remains blind to the damage this self-centered, megalomaniac who shows not a shred of empathy for anyone, is doing to the democratic fiber of this country.

Trump relishes in the turmoil he has caused, continuing and expanding the partisanship of party politics that intensified with the election of the first black president in 2008.

Go back 13 years and remember that Trump was one of the leaders in denouncing Obama’s candidacy, perpetuating the lie that Obama was not born in the U.S. He was wrong, of course, but like all of his other lies, he has never admitted it nor apologized for promoting the fabrication.

Trump will eventually leave the White House. But, unfortunately for America, he will not just go away.

He is a master manure stirrer and spreader. And stir and spread more of his tongue fertilizer he will do. After all, he still has his followers, his Trumpuppets, to please. And the only way he can continue to hold his audience is to posture and preen and keep his cock o’ the walk act fresh by inventing new conspiracies and frauds perpetuated upon his person.

The Trump Show will continue. Count on it. He has no other place to go to get the adrenalin surge that keeps him

at the same emotional and needy psychological level as he did for being the most powerful man in the world for the past four years.

He is an addict and he needs his fix.

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Early-30, the third morning after Election Day

Early-30, the third morning after Election Day

By George Smith — 11/06/2020

My mind roils, as does my gut. America is hurting, its people on edge. Regardless of party, regardless of what side of which issue individuals stand, we should all want the same thing: Stability and peace for our nation and an end to the partisan rancor which has rendered our nation divided at home and impotent on the global  stage.

In business terms, each party has a brand problem.

For decades, the recognizable brand for the Democratic Party could have included a photo of a working man/woman/couple, standing in front of a house with required white picket fence (“SOLD” sign prominently displayed), a vista of American the beautiful in the background with music promising a better 🎹 tomorrow 🎼for all playing over the tag line: “All the people, all the time.”

The Republican’s consistent message over the same timeframe could have been: A soldier with matinee-idol looks with his perfect-from-casting family — June Cleaver-looking mom, children (one of each gender), standing in front of a house with the pretequisite white picket fence (Republican branding consultant assume the house belongs to them), the steel-blue sky slowly turning into an American flag, strains of Kate Smith’s “God Bless America” rifting in the background.

The truth is only half of Americans are buying any of it. Citizens are not buying the promises, not buying the hype, not embracing the message of the two major parties. Half, almost exactly half of the voting public, is saying “NUTS!” to both parties, leaving a divided, hurting and angry citizenry.

The hard truth is: Americans don’t fully trust either party to do the right thing for ALL of America. As this is written, there’s a strong possibility Democrats will have control of the two houses, House of Representatives and the White House; Republicans will control the Senate.

There you have it, James Madison’s belief in a government ruled by checks and balances rather than by sheer will or applied force.

With a recalcitrant Senate, a Joe Biden presidency will fail; without compromise on key issues — pandemic, economy, global relationships, national intrastructure, healthcare — there is little he can actually accomplish.

Close your eyes and hark back to the last six years of Obama. The operative word was “stagnation”. America. Stagnation.

It is against the visceral nature of today’s petty, partisan, party politicians to do a single thing, to back a single issue or program backed by the Party With Another Name.

The GOP thought is: Helping Joe Biden weakens our position in 2024.

Understood. But…but what about the residents of the nation, ALL residents of the nation? The party opposition to any idea from the opposition is tighter than Dick’s hand band.*

Simply, what are the plans to push Americans forward for the next four years?

The last six years of the Obama Administration and the last two of Trump’s reign were fraught with unseemly infighting and a “congress”  of executive orders and no meaningful cooperation between elected party-oriented public servants.

That has to stop. Which should be a priority, the needs of Americans — ALL Americans. The working orders for each party has been to ensure the opposition fails on every front so “our” party is strengthened in time for the next election cycle.

The projected election outcome shows decisively that Americans don’t trust either party to do the right thing.

The infighting has already started with Senate Speaker Mitch McConnell promising that a potential President Biden better choose “good” cabinet candidates or they wouldn’t be approved by the Senate.

Sigh. BIG sigh.

It is starting to look like, regardless of who ends up as president,this country’s leaders would rather call each other names and engage in epic tongue-lashings to ensure the words make the nightly news, rather that do the job for which they were elected: Serve the people…all the people.

Stoo. Just stop already.

* Tighter than Dick’s hat band — An old southern idiom. Could be used to identify a place that is empty, a person who is wound up, or any number of situations where the word “tight” is used. Nobody seems to know who Dick was. Apparently he had a tough time keeping his hat on his head.

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Bad-mistake-bad-BAD-BAD-mistake

By George Smith

Bad-mistake-bad-BAD-BAD-mistake headline of the day:

“Democrats unveil bill creating panel to gauge president’s ‘capacity’”

I said almost four years ago that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should step aside and let a newer-generation Democrat run the House and its Democrat caucus.

Today, she and her cohorts handed the Republicans an “election eve” gift that could swing the election.

Like Hillary Clinton, Pelosi is a lightning rod that energizes conservatives and their wacko alt-right kin. Energizing an opponent’s base and those undecideds  this close to an election that will determine the future path of America is abject stupidity.

Today, 25 days until the General Election, it was a time to stay low and let the president and his demented political kinfolks in Washington-on-the-Deficit continue to play the part of jester/fool/joker. She would have let Joe Biden and Kamala Harris do what they do best: Show that politicians can be strong and empathetic at the same time. And, after all, Trump, by his crazy clown coronavirus act, has been doing a great job of moving undecideds off the GOPer rolls into the Dem camp.

But Peliso could not just leave well enough alone as it was gaining the upper hand in nation polls.

Enter, state left, the dumbest idea since Bill Clinton decided to lie in a deposition.

House Democrats unveiled legislation creating a panel to gauge a president’s capacity to perform the job – and potentially remove the commander in chief from office in cases of decided debility.

Dumb move, Madame Speaker. How dumb? It sounds like something Trump would come up with if the situation were reversed.

Other than getting “likes” and

❤

️s” from never-Trumpers in social media, what.’s the point? It’s political asshattery of the highest order; it will to nothing positive for the get-rid-of-Trump cause and just further solidifies his base and gives them  a good talking point about “obsessed left-wingers” that will do anything — ANYTHING — to bring down the president.

Creating a commission to explore the mental capacity of the president at this time is abjectly stupid: 1. It cannot pass due to the Senate political make up; 2. It just widens the political gap between ejected officials and the electorate  and will bring charges of the Democrats piling on the president after the impeachment party-line impeachment snafu.

Bad timing. Bad policy. Bad politics.

And, as Democrats May well find out, bad for the party and the November election.

Trump needs to thank Pelosi in his next rambling tweet. She just handed him a  lifeline that, if exploited to the fullest, could give him a second term.

Am I overstating the case? Gosh, I sure hope so!

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State Senate Candidate, District 1, Audrey Spanko, in Marshall

State Senate Candidate, District 1, Audrey Spanko, kicks off 16-County District 1 Road Trip at Harrison County Democratic headquarters in Marshall on October 1

State Senate Candidate, District 1, Audrey Spanko, kicks off 16-County District 1 Road Trip at Harrison County Democratic headquarters in Marshall on October 1 Audrey Spanko, Democratic State Senate Candidate, District 1, will kick off her “Texas Senate District 1 Road Trip” at the Harrison County Democratic Headquarters, located at 213 West Austin Street in downtown Marshall, on Thursday, October 1 at 1:00pm—3:00pm.

Ms. Spanko is the Democratic Senate candidate running against Republican incumbent State Senator Bryan Hughes and the event in Marshall is the kick-off event in a road trip will be making to the 16 counties in District 1, in the next 12 days to encourage people to register to vote before the October 5 deadline and to encourage voters to vote early when the polls open in Texas on October 13.

The event in Marshall is designed to provide members of our local community to have an opportunity to meet the candidate and for Ms. Spanko to answer any questions that community members might have about the issues facing East Texas.

Audrey Spanko is a licensed social worker and advocate. She is from Mineola and has two degrees in social work from the University of Texas. For roughly a decade, she has worked for nonprofits helping families seeking medical care and basic needs support, and from 2016-2019 she worked in child abuse prevention for the Department of Family and Protective Services. While finishing classes for her masters degree, she served as an advocacy intern during the 2019 Texas legislative session. It was this experience and all that she witnessed while working as a social worker in Texas that inspired her to run for Texas State Senate.

The event is also designed to provide a continued opportunity for citizens of Harrison County who are not yet registered to vote to register before the voter registration deadline.

“We’ve had a very successful voter registration campaign in Harrison County and we’re continuing to encourage community members who are not yet registered to get registered to vote before the registration deadline on Monday, October 5,” shared Maxine Golightly, chairman of the Harrison County Democratic Party. “It’s important that people make sure they are registered so they can vote in this critical election.”

The event will be held in the backyard of the Democratic headquarters at 213 West Austin so that people can enjoy the gorgeous fall weather and to provide for social distancing. The Harrison County Democratic Headquarters is open every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11am—2:00pm.

Volunteers staff the headquarters for those wishing to register to vote, as well as those wishing to obtain campaign signs, along with information about the early voting schedule in Harrison County, the Democratic candidates, and the issues facing East Texans and Americans. If these times are not convenient, persons are encouraged to call Maxine Golightly at (903) 908- 0521 or Christina Anderson at (903) 938-8373 to make an appointment and they or another volunteer will arrange to meet the person at the headquarters at an appointed time.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Democratic Party wishing to take all measures to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Democratic headquarters follows all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for social-distancing and wearing masks. If a person does not have a mask and wishes to visit the headquarters, a mask will gladly be provided.

Early voting begins on Tuesday, October 13 at seven locations in Harrison County and runs through Friday, October 30, 2020. Information about specific times and locations for early voting are available at the Democratic headquarters or at the Harrison County Elections Office at 415 East Burleson Street.

The Harrison County Democratic Party will host another “Meet the Candidate and Voter Registration” event on Saturday, October 3 at 2:00pm-4:00pm in the backyard of the Harrison County Democratic headquarters, featuring Judge Staci Williams, who grew up in Marshall and is a candidate for the Texas Supreme Court. More information about that event will be provided in a separate news release.

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Anxiety, Stress, Depression

By George Smith

Anxiety.

Stress.

Low-grade depression, even.

In my professional and personal lives, I have experienced all three emotions or physical manifestations at some point. But I have never had these feelings at once and never with the intensity I am experiencing at this pivotal moment in my life.

My country, your country, is being ripped to shreds, its culturural, political and emotional fabric cut, slashed, torn into divisive slices that prohibit uninhibited, astute and perceptive information exchange.

Pure and simple: The United States
is as divided over the direction this country should take as during the Vietnam war or getting to point of the division experienced during the Civil War.

Do you see the ideological differences common in every county under every form of government widening into an unbridgeable abyss as I do? Or is it just me and my eternal optimistic outlook on life hitting a dark spot in my universe and feeling trapped in a wormhole of uncertain and disbelief?

For most of my life I have been a disciple of the Pollyanna principle. It is the tendency for people to remember pleasant items more accurately than unpleasant ones.

Research indicates that at the subconscious level, the mind tends to focus on the optimistic; while at the conscious level, it tends to focus on the negative.  To my way of thinking, and with an exaggerated way of always feeling like “The Little Engine That Could,” I look forward to each day simply KNOWING the sun will come up tomorrow.

Little Orphan Annie. That has been me.

Now, not so much. With insomnia a regular visitor, I wake up to a smoky fog of dread. What fresh hell has been fostered upon us during the night? How many more fellow countrymen have died because of an error in judgment, ignorance and/or abject stupidity in managing the pandemic? What new social media tweet will further divide the country? What self-serving statement by which elected official will get applause from one clique and raised blood pressure from those in opposition?

To quote the late Rep. Elijah Cummings: “We are better than this.”

Are we? The question begs an answer.

Are we really?

Come on, Pollyanna! We’re better than this.

Aren’t we?

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Tweetsanity

By George Smith

When Trump was elected, I wrote: “He is our president, my president, and I want him to be the best president. Our country needs leadership, needs healing and an end to division…in politics, in suspicion, in hatred, and in irresponsible use of social media and vitriolic tweeting.”

But Trump kept tweeting his irrepressible anger and juvenile judgmental harrangues and I wonder why.

He has Fox News and NewsMax and the Washington Examiner; he has his parroting communications team, his all-in cabinet officials, his Hell-Yeah kids and in-laws and in-GFs and aides and staffers to do his shouting.

So, why does he keep tweeting craziness-cubed statements aimed at aggravating some folks that might — MIGHT — consider his point of view if he would take a more gentle approach in his rhetoric?

Trump should rely more on  his Mulvaneys, his Cruzes, his McElehenys and his Grahams to carry the dirty word-water…and shhhhhhhh…stop the tweetsanity!

Trump should leave the nastiness to his attack dogs and try and rev up support from those who detest his bully-boy social media tactics.

It is obvious the president has never heard the English proverb: Why buy a dog if you’re going to bark?

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You doing okay?

By George Smith

Before the weekend, maybe as early as Wednesday, 200,000 Americans will have died from COVID 19.

This is the pandemic President Trump called  “Democratic hoax” and said  numerous times it “would disappear” and was “not as bad” as the flu. This was months AFTER he told an investigative journalist (on tape) writing a book about his presidency that is was “airborne and deadly” five times more deadly than the flu.

Trump has been consistent only in his inconsistency.

National Public Radio reported “Trump has gone from downplaying the risk early on, to overselling the availability of test kits, to encouraging strict social distancing measures, to questioning whether those measures were causing too much economic and emotional pain. He has claimed ‘total’ authority and then insisted it’s really up to the states to manage the response.”

He proudly states he “banned” travel from China early in without mentioning more than 45,000 people from China — American travelers returning home, businessmen and women—were exempt from the ban, which exploded the number of cases on bith coasts.

His mismanagement of this global health crisis, and his constant pronouncements about the “incredible job” the U.S. has done in combatting the virus, caused needless deaths and suffering and was the catalyst for the nation’s economic chaos and turmoil.

Bottomline, his lies — constant and umwavering, which continue today — killed Americans. And the toll continues to rise thanks to his ego-driven need to be re-elected, and his cult-like followers.

Those who support him today, after hearing in his own words how he lied to all Ametican residents about the dangers of the pandemic, are “in for penny, in for a pound” in his vision of a Trump America of death, destruction, divided and with a war raging among the haves and have nots.

History will condemn this religious and fiscal heretic who is devoid of empathy, compassion and love of anything but his name, his money and his need for instant adulation.

And those that support him for whatever reason, are complicit in this slow-motion destruction of America.

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I’m waiting

By George Smith

Just twiddling my thumbs…waiting.

I am waiting, waiting all a-twitter, for a reasonable explanation why the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump would sit down for 18 interviews in nine hours total over six months with a reporter and admit he lied to the American people about the dangers of the COVID 19 virus.

Trump didn’t regurgitate truth pellets to the American people about the dangers of the coronavirus in February —at the same time he was going on Twitter and holding news conferences — he was stating emphatically the virus, which was virulent in its global pandemic specifications — was “no big deal and would “magically disappear”.

He lied. Regularly. Repeatedly. He spat in the face of scientists and experts on infection diseases. He pooh-poohed the use of and effectiveness of face masks to put the damper on the virus’ spread and said he was doing a good job as people died needlessly. He preached about reopening businesses prematurely.

President Trump lied. And people died.

Lying about the dangers and watching residents die while continung to spout the lie over and over was abjectly stupid.

Also abjectly stupid was agreeing to interviews with the reporter, Bob Woodward.

Bob Woodward. You do know the name, right? The “Robert Redford” of “All the President’s Men.” The Watergate Woodward. The dismantling of the Nixon Administration. The disgrace and resignation of Richard Nixon.

THAT Bob Woodward.

In the Watergate saga, Woodward and his investigative partner, Carl Bernstein, had “Deep Throat,”
an anonymous source that helped them focus the investigation along a ligical path.

In Woodward’s newest investigative effort, his new “Deep Throat” is … the president.

One has to assume one of two things about Trump agreeing to lengthy taped — TAPED — interviews with the world’s most famous investigative journalist: 1. That President Trump had never read the book about Watergate by Woodward and Bernstein, or seen the movie, or 2. He is so enamored with enhanced his bloviated image he was flattered by the attention.

Regardless of whether it was stupidity (there is no reason to plead “ignorance” in this case) or vanity, Trump can blame no one but himself.

This is the Supreme Gotcha! But in this case, Trump “got” himself. All  Woodward “got” was a money-making best seller and, maybe, another notch in the handle of his presidential pistol.

Waiting, just waiting. Waiting to see how Trumpuppets spin this newest revelation, waiting to watch the president try and explain away his taped words that killed thousands of American residents.

What is there to say?

Trump lied. And people died as a direct result of his lies.

Is he worthy to be president. Not then. Not now. Not in the future.

This newest Trumpisode in ignorance and egomaniacal behavior teminds me of the Dietks Bentley song:

“I know what I was feelin’
But what was I thinkin’”?

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