As Thomas Paine professed, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Thomas must be spinning like a lathe. The framers of the Constitution had George Washington in mind when they entrusted authority to the office of chief executive. The framers could not have imagined a Donald Trump, even with stimulants.

The old saw goes, “You get the government you deserve.” And today that old saw has a new corollary, “But nobody deserves THIS!” Who deserves a carbon debt that their kids will have to pay, if they can?

He calls himself, “a very stable genius,” and compares himself to Abraham Lincoln, which is somewhat akin to comparing crabgrass to a sequoia.

“I got me elected. Russia didn’t help me at all.” Well, that little lie could take a blue ribbon at a World’s Fair. No, you can tell that one to the Marines. It seems he has been inoculated against truth and is allergic to scientific facts.

His biggest lie? “I don’t do cover-ups.” His biggest crime? Letting the mean dog off the porch to harden our hearts. Immigration? We must protect our borders, yes, but also our souls. Love of country should never supersede love of humanity. Tariffs? Here’s a guy who could not make money owning a casino when every game in the house, up to a 17% hold for keno, is carefully calibrated to win for the house. My favorite quote of the past three years comes from a golfer: “As a voter, can we get a Mulligan?”

While young plaintiffs sue for climate control, lawyers for the administration argue in legal filings that “there is no fundamental constitutional right to a stable climate system.” This, while the United Nations climate panel has projected dire consequences unless we act, including worsening food shortages and wilder wildfires as soon as 2040. Even with that dire warning, we continue to grovel before the golden calf.

With the present occupant of the White House, supporters have made a Faustian bargain they are starting to regret. Yet, so long as he continues to nominate right wing judges, continues to tatter our social safety net, continues to cut taxes for the super wealthy, and continues the rush to drill in the Arctic, apparently his followers will continue to be complicit in their silence.

We find ourselves living through what will go down in history as, “The Great American Democracy Stress Test.” Ancient Greece failed that test and saw its democracy turn to tyranny. America’s democracy is hemorrhaging and on life support from a thousand paper cuts inflicted by Donald Trump.

Here is a man who would talk to Putin about Mueller, but would not talk to Mueller about Putin. If nothing else, the Mueller Report has amended one of America’s proudest idioms, “With the singular exception of the sitting president of the United States, no man is above the law.”

I leave the last word, as I am wont to do, to a man who spent his entire life campaigning against frauds and humbugs, Mark Twain: “Take the lies out of him and he’ll shrink to the size of your hat; take the malice out of him and he will disappear.”

McAvoy Layne is a 30-year impressionist of Mark Twain who can be reached at GhostofTwain.com.

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