The whole US system of government is broken

We know who to blame as the story gets worse and worse.

Two months before the novel coronavirus is thought to have begun its deadly advance in Wuhan, China, the Trump administration ended a $200-million pandemic early-warning program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries to detect and respond to such a threat.

The project, launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009, identified 1,200 different viruses that had the potential to erupt into pandemics, including more than 160 novel coronaviruses. The initiative, called PREDICT, also trained and supported staff in 60 foreign laboratories — including the Wuhan lab that identified SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

He’s been wrecking important prevention and detection programs.

He’s incompetent and has been spewing dangerously bad medical advice, like that we don’t need N95 masks because in many cases the scarf is better, it’s thicker. It’s nonsense.

Trump has appointed a slumlord who happens to be his son-in-law to head the coronavirus task force. He knows nothing. This is blatant nepotism.

He has been biasing the delivery of medical supplies to the states in order to assist his re-election bid. He only wants to be president of the red states.

The country is run by an incompetent, greedy, corrupt, and useless president in a time of national crisis, and nothing can be done about it, apparently. Nothing. One impeachment got squelched by the greedy, corrupt nest of snakes in the senate, so I guess we’re just going to muddle on, with people dying while a mob of rich fucks look on and use the chaos as an excuse to shovel more money at Wall Street.

But we’re not supposed to worry, be content, Joe Biden is waiting in the wings to take over next January, so the system “works”.

For who? Insurance companies?


  1. simonhadley says

    Trump’s response isn’t just incompetence and greed, it is deliberate. He didn’t just respond poorly or with ineptitude, he actively took a wrecking ball to the system that was supposed to protect us. He regularly commits blatant acts of sabotage on our institutions under the direct orders of Putin. I don’t care how ‘tin foil hat-ish’ that sounds, it makes sense from an espionage perspective.

  2. birgerjohansson says

    In different news…
    Joe Biden has been accused of a sexual assault that happened 20 years ago. The Democrats who were very much pro-“Me too” are suddenly completely silent.
    ”Joe Biden Surrogate Suddenly Deleted Old Brett Kavanaugh Tweets (I Wonder Why )” at YouTube
    Oops. Looks like someone wants to be the White House press secretary more than sticking to principles….
    Yes I know Trump is likely a much worse sexual predator, but that is not the point. The point is, powerful men will get peer support to get away with it.

  3. says

    He has been biasing the delivery of medical supplies to the states in order to assist his re-election bid. He only wants to be president of the red states.

    Apparently it’s worse than that. He’s been dumping large quantities of PPE and other health equipment on the private sector and letting them auction it off to the highest bidder for their own profit.

  4. René says

    American society is what you get when a bunch of religious fanatics flee colonialist Europe, who then get rich on slavery and then get even richer on finding oil. Stir a bit. Call the result ‘democracy.’ /sarc

    I’m running out of sarcasm here. I blame all Americans Europeans the human condition.

  5. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve thinking that Trump is trying to show that relying on the private sector is better than the federal government handling the response. However, the situation shows how wrong that is, and Trump can’t/won’t admit he is wrong.

  6. raven says

    Until this pandemic hit, the USA was rated number 1 in being prepared for the next pandemic by WHO.
    We are the richest nation in the world in aggregate wealth and we are (or were) the leader in science and technology.

    Then the USA completely dropped the ball on the Covid-19 pandemic.
    We still haven’t completely picked it up.
    We are still short of testing, PPE, and ventilators.
    In NYC, we are short of burial capacity and the bodies are piling up.

    .1. The Trump regime claimed they are going to Make America Great Again.
    What they did was Make America into a Dysfunctional Former Superpower.
    .2. This is the whole theme of the GOP christofascists.

    They can only destroy things, not create or improve them.
    Attack the EPA, attack the environment, attack the middle class, attack women, attack nonwhites, attack the educated, attack the blue states, attack civil rights and voting access, attack anything that once actually did…Make America Great!!!

  7. kome says

    This is how the empire collapses. In a fit of racist greedy Christian-dominionist rage.

  8. says

    Well, otoh, you have started stealing other countries’ PPE. I’m sure there’s part of your population that will cheer that on.

  9. microraptor says

    @1: I doubt Putin is taking that active of a role. He doesn’t have to- it was obvious that Trump was a corrupt idiot and a loose cannon with no leadership abilities, so simply putting him in the office and turning him loose would accomplish Putin’s goals of sabotaging the US government.

  10. says

    A few questions that I may have asked here before always occur to me whenever the question of how to fix things comes up. 1) Who is on our side? 2) Who will be on our side if/when things get worse? 3) Who ever really was on our side? and last 4) What, exactly, does our side stand for?

    Any thoughts?

  11. Amphiox says

    @10: It doesn’t matter how prepared you are on paper if your leadership refuses to deploy those preparations because they refused to acknowledge the problem.

  12. weylguy says

    Faced with the emerging crisis, President Trump lost no time in bringing in his brilliant son-in-law, Jared Kushner (aka “The Kid”), to provide needed expertise and welcome relief just when we needed it. Kushner’s first utterance to the press (amid rounds of applause) was to remind them that the emergency stockpile of medical supplies belongs to Trump, not the states, thus providing the motivation needed to get the states off their collective asses and go back to work. Huzzah!

  13. gijoel says

    I hope that jackass catches Covid-19 soon, maybe he’ll start taking it seriously then.

  14. says

    @22 I’m sorry. Perhaps I’m wrong in assuming that you’re a progressive rather than, say, a liberal or leftist.

    Look, I know that I may go on about this too much, But, come on. Four years ago, we had made great strides forward. Same sex marriage became a part of US law, Obamacare gave us a very small step towards universal health care (a nanometer or two forwards is still forwards) and all the GOP could do is obstruct.

    And today? We’re in full retreat and and an obscenely corrupt president managed by far-right extremists has a better-than-even shot at being re-elected. And in the meantime, the only viable opposition to the GOP can’t even figure out what it supports and the allegedly progressive cultural and intellectual sphere caters to bigots by silencing and excluding the very people liberals allege to stand for.- as PZ himself has noted some little while ago – all in the name of “unity”.

    So, what happened? My contention is that the real liberals in the US (and the West, come to think about) have badly misjudged not only the present situation but everything leading up to it. This comes partly from a refusal to believe that Russian Facebook trolls alone could have put us this far back and partly just because of the fact that the people who are supposed to be the educated adults in the room have been so badly outplayed.

  15. says

    @#24, Susan Montgomery:

    “The people who are supposed to be the educated adults in the room”? Ah, well, there you go. There’s the problem. The Democratic Party mistook a bunch of pro-war, pro-corporate shills, who are against single-payer, serious environmental regulation, and debt relief to be “the educated adults in the room”.

    It cannot be stressed enough: every time the Centrists like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden have differed from the left, they have been proven wrong. Not only is the Centrist movement morally abhorrent — and it always was — but it is incredibly stupid and traitorous. (The Iraq war is the perfect example of this, of course: somebody who was moral would have refused to back the war, somebody who was truly intelligent would have seen through the Bush administration’s lies and concluded that the war would be a disaster, and somebody who wanted to do as their voters asked would have stood against it since Democrats were against the war by a strong majority. It took somebody who was evil and stupid and treacherous to still vote to invade Iraq, and the party is, for the second time in a row, trying to nominate such a person for the Presidency. And remember, this is just one very good example — there are plenty of other times the Centrists have screwed up in big, obvious ways.) As long as these people are given any significant control of the Democratic Party, the Democratic Party is going to keep screwing up. It is not too much to say that that is actually the purpose of the Centrist movement — the reason they continue to get funding by the rich.

  16. says

    @25 Okay, that covers politics. What about culture, which I would argue is what shapes our politics? In fact, let me ask you one on the questions I asked above: Is “Hollywood” really liberal? Was it ever?

  17. says

    @#26, Susan Montgomery:

    That’s like asking “Is America literate?” (What do you mean by “America”? Do we all have to be literate before “America” is? And do you mean functionally literate or something more profound? Is numeracy included?)

    Using the obvious “what one would probably mean by those terms” answer: no, Hollywood is not really liberal; it is superficially liberal on some specific issues but mostly it reinforces popular prejudices — it is, after all, an industry which chases profits, and there isn’t much profit in contradicting people’s worldviews. Think of all the times we’ve been told that Disney was including its first openly-gay character in their upcoming film — and then that character turns out to be on screen for 30 seconds with two lines of dialog related directly to the plot. (And then there’s product placement — Apple won’t let villains use iPhones in movies! — and the funding that the US Military gives to studios in exchange for portraying the military positively, and all the rest of the behind-the-scenes whitewashing of the status quo that goes on.) Hollywood taken on average is probably just a little bit right of center. It’s run by rich people and huge corporations. It’s not on the left.

    Was it ever liberal? I don’t think I know enough about the history of film to really answer that question. (I like a few specific actors from previous eras, but I haven’t watched a lot of old films or even read a lot of history.) I suspect that it may have been to the left of where it is now, but probably not by very much. From what I’ve read about their interactions with the Marx Brothers, the studios of the early sound era were pretty conservative, by and large, and the Hays Code certainly made it difficult to directly address a lot of social issues. (Isn’t it hilarious, by the way, that in 1915 the Supreme Court unanimously decided that freedom of speech did not extend to motion pictures? Can you imagine the Supreme Court even coming close to that decision at any time in the last 30 years, with all the pro-corporate stooges on it?)

    When you start parsing more finely, of course, you get more specific answers: there have been (and are) left-leaning filmmakers, and profitable left-leaning films, and left-leaning independent films are often critically acclaimed, and of course there are specific issues on which Hollywood on the whole leans further left than others, and issues on which it is more conservative. (There aren’t a lot of genuinely anti-war movies from Hollywood in the last 30 years, for example, but there are a lot of pro-war, or at least pro-military, movies.)

    I also agree with the now-old article, which I cannot find offhand at this moment: superhero movies are essentially fascistic — the whole narrative of superhero films is that due process and legal reasoning and democratic processes are too slow and weak and flawed to deal with evildoers, and we need a man (or men) of action, not governed by the law, and with power above that of the ordinary citizen, in order to actually defeat evil, which is embodied in specific people and never an emergent process arising from entropy. There was more to it than that, but that was the main point and it’s almost embarrassing how well it fits in with most of them.

  18. unclefrogy says

    have to agree that the supper hero comic book movies on the whole do not reflect the principles of democracy that the US government was founded on, by extension they are not that far removed from Dirty Harry or any of dozens of westerns from earlier days.
    I don’t know what to make of things this time however. It has never been like this at least in my memory I have never personally seen it be so inhumane. If the actions of this government does not put the flaws of the libertarian ideals clearly in view then we are truly dead meat.
    The idea that the “market” could ever respond to anything of this magnitude in anything like a timely manner should be by now clearly demonstrated to be wrong and dangerously wrong. The market and the conservatives who worship at it’s alter simply are demonstrating that it is not people but money that is paramount..
    they can’t even figure out that without people there is no “market”
    uncle frogy

  19. says

    @#28, unclefrogy:
    I dunno, I think this is just the same inhumanity that the US has been showing all along, but this time it’s going to hit white American citizens who have always regarded themselves as being “America”. That’s a big difference to them, but our governing classes have demonstrably ceased to care what the voting public wants anyway — and it’s not merely the Republicans, there was that semi-famous academic study which concluded that neither party actually pays any attention to the public once in office. If you don’t actually care about the American public, then there’s not really that big of a difference between killing 200,000 of the American public in order to make a profit and killing 200,000 (let’s say) Iraqis, which both parties were eager to do, or 200,000 Yemeni, or 200,000 Afghani, or 200,000 Vietnamese, or 200,000 Koreans, or whoever the enemy of the day is. It’s horrifying only because we expect a loyal government, but our government ceased to be loyal decades ago. (And even before then, they didn’t hesitate to kill Americans as long as they were the right type of Americans, or could be made to die without knowing the government permitted it — see the Tuskagee study, or the recent revelation that the better part of a million Americans were actually harmed by fallout from nuclear testing in the 20th century and the government knew about it but didn’t stop, or anything at all to do with Native Americans, etc.)

  20. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Just curious. It would seem that your viewpoint requires you to view all the politicians cooperating with the systems are monsters. However, my experience has been that true monsters are rare–or perhaps that all humans are monsters, depending on my misanthropy level.

    I wonder, however, how much of the inhumanity we see has to do with the lack of tools other than the military and economic sanctions in the toolbox of the government. Ever since Reagan, we have seen more and more of the “soft power” tools gutted by shortsighted politicians. USAID, the Peace Corps, scientific and cultural cooperation and even the State Department have all suffered. Not only does this leave a President with little choice but military power or blunt-instrument sanctions, it leaves few options for blunting a crisis before an extreme response is required.

    Admittedly, my experience is colored by my time in the Peace Corps and the reception I’ve had in developing countries when they find out that I served.

  21. says

    @#30, a_ray_in_dilbert_space:

    Ah, yes, “the people with diplomacy skills got fired by the previous president, so obviously the only choice we have is to drop bombs on everybody”. Such a defense!

    Listen: the US government constantly chooses, consciously and at the very highest levels, to commit unnecessary atrocities.

    You may possibly remember that when the uprising began in Syria, foreign policy experts were stunned, because they had viewed Syria as the most stable country in the whole region? They spent the first couple of years trying to come up with some explanation for how it could have happened there — and then, in 2015 or so, the CIA admitted that it had been arming malcontents all along, and then encouraging the narrative that the violence committed by the malcontents was the fault of Assad. It turned out that under Hillary Clinton, with Obama’s approval, the State Department joined up with the Pentagon to pass out weapons to absolutely anybody who said they would attack Assad — which eventually included, as they admitted, both Al Queda and ISIS. It was a massive shortsighted and stupid arming of terrorists, Reagan-style, which ended up killing vast numbers of innocent people. We didn’t have to do it, Assad was never really a threat. And that was Obama, the nice guy who we’re supposed to revere and want to return to.

    (Just incidentally: Seymour Hersh, the guy who broke the My Lai story, said that it was an open secret in the mideast at the time that the Benghazi embassy was the headquarters of the gun-running operation, which if true means that the reason we had those endless Benghazi trials was that the Republicans were trying to get Clinton to admit to a scandal on a par with the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s, but didn’t have the leverage to make that happen.)

    Then there’s Libya. We acted on a decade-old piece of intelligence which our own intelligence services had already debunked, to push the overthrow of a foreign nation — an act easily as malevolent and in violation of international norms as Trump’s assassination of that Iranian general a few months back, but since Libya didn’t have Iran’s clout nobody went into hysterics. The British intelligence report on the Libyan campaign (which you can read, they released it to the public years ago) showed quite clearly that the presentation to NATO in favor of invading, made by Hillary Clinton on behalf of the Obama administration, had internal evidence to show that even as she was presenting, Clinton knew she was lying to foment a war, just like Colin Powell did with his presentation about Iraq.

    The CIA, which started our drone bombing program before it was turned over to the Pentagon, ran a study under Obama on the effects of the program. They concluded that the program actually created more terrorists than it could possibly be killing, that it was crippling our ability to conduct diplomacy, and that it was making the world less safe for Americans. They recommended that it be stopped, or at least severely overhauled. This agreed with a study done by academics towards the end of the Bush administration. Obama ignored both studies and continued the program.

    And that’s just it: even when we have “nice” governments, they do horrible things, and they do them in ways which show that they really mean to do horrible things. There’s no way that Obama somehow meant to be humanitarian, but accidentally maintained a “kill list” and expanded our drone bombing program, it had to be deliberate. There’s no way that Hillary Clinton accidentally basically caused the Syrian civil war, it had to be deliberate. There’s no way that the Obama administration accidentally kept pitching an invasion of Libya over and over, lying more and more each time, until they finally found a way to make it happen — it had to be deliberate. I haven’t even brought up Iraq here, but who needs to dot such a large i?

    It’s not even just foreign policy — Biden is accused of rape; the Democratic establishment suddenly backtracks on all its commentary about Trump and Kavanaugh. (Seriously, some of them have gone so far as to delete stuff from their Twitter feeds from the time of the Kavanaugh confirmation.) We’re supposed to think Biden would cope with coronavirus more intelligently than Trump — but he keeps telling people to go stand in line to vote in person, and he has doubled down on the idea that your healthcare should be tied to your job even though over 10 million Americans lost their jobs in the last 2 weeks, and he’s still sending out fundraising come-ons while the Sanders campaign is raising money for relief efforts. It is actively shameful that Biden is in the race — and the party has collectively decided not to talk about it. (Hell, Elizabeth Warren has now shown her true colors and is basically endorsing Biden. If you supported her, you were duped; she’s just another DNC hack after all.)

    And, what’s more, we the public reward this viciousness. If we wanted basically good government, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden both would certainly not be permitted anywhere near the Presidential nomination — they would probably be awaiting war crimes trials, since both of them were heavily involved in Libya in ways which violate treaties. Establishment Democrats have somehow managed to convince the party that their hands are clean, but their records make it very clear that they are every bit as vile as the Republicans are — and when the Republicans are represented by Trump, that’s saying quite a bit.

  22. canadiansteve says

    @30 a_ray_in_dilbert_space

    Just curious. It would seem that your viewpoint requires you to view all the politicians cooperating with the systems are monsters. However, my experience has been that true monsters are rare–or perhaps that all humans are monsters, depending on my misanthropy level.

    I think you are unaware of the number of psychological studies that have shown that ordinary people can be twisted to believe and act on truly monstrous ideas, while retaining the belief that they are doing the right thing. (Stanford prison experiment comes to mind) It is not necessary that the individuals be true monsters, but rather the system has been created in such a way that the monstrosities perpetrated become the normal or even “right” thing to do. The present US government system (and society more generally) normalizes and rewards monstrous behavior. If politicians don’t conform, then they don’t become powerful or exert much influence.
    Definitely not excusing Canadians or realistically any other humans – as a species we haven’t yet figured out how to fix this problem in our psychology, or the fact that we haven’t yet found a political/societal organization system that doesn’t reward monstrosity.

  23. says

    @Susan Montgomery 24
    I don’t think you go on about it too much, I’m just different in ways that aren’t part of the issue much. My own political strategy choices also influence it. I just don’t feel groups the same anymore.

    Honestly I don’t know what to call myself and the names of groups don’t do a whole lot for me anymore. “People would put me on the left based on issues” is what I say. I’m not saying they’re the same, and I’m not trying to tell anyone else not to use them, it’s that they’ve become less useful to me and on some issues useless. The transphobia swarms and sexism/misogyny swarms when there’s a socially significant rape or harassment accusations for example often leave me wondering about what people claim to care about.
    Add to that the social anxiety, childhood bullying, lack of support during graduate school with the adhd and tourette syndrome, and the way the tourette’s syndrome experience skews my social experience and most of the time I just stick to issues unless a group needs shamed.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of calling myself a “hatriot”, a patriot willing to hate the things about their country worth hating and dealing with. Including behavior common to both major parties and the government.

    It does suck how far things went the other way, and I’m wracking my brain trying to figure out where to put pressure in the areas I have ability. At the moment the shaming while voting approach is what I’m doing. If they want my enthusiasm they have work to do.


    blockquote>So, what happened? My contention is that the real liberals in the US (and the West, come to think about) have badly misjudged not only the present situation but everything leading up to it. This comes partly from a refusal to believe that Russian Facebook trolls alone could have put us this far back and partly just because of the fact that the people who are supposed to be the educated adults in the room have been so badly outplayed.<\blockquote>
    I don’t think it’s the trolls alone, but I don’t want to hinder people who do want to deal with them beyond the occasional point that’s it’s hard to complain based on my countries behavior. The vulnerability the trolls use is a legitimate flaw in our culture. When I challenge people on the us political left (there’s another complication, international differences in terminology making complaining about bad behavior harder because people want to complain about political groups) I see about as many automatic attempts to push the burden of proof instead of being willing to support the statements one makes. “Go google it”. Lots of people can’t support a claim so choose other political behavior.
    And there’s other rationality problems. I see less of the overt bigotry we usually talk about as a culture on the left, but lots of other bigotry like political bigotry (no all republicans aren’t x, that’s still discrimination or prejudice, and the hides the level of the problem in our midst), regional bigotry (southern stereotypes) and ableism. Calling beliefs “insane” and referring to “mental illness” as an excuse is just as common from my perspective.

    The trolls are taking advantage of our vulnerability. It is an attack worth pointing out, but we’ve got big problems with in-group criticism in this country. I may stay groupless just to better understand the bias.

  24. says

    @#32, Susan Montgomery

    I guess the logical follow-up is “Why do liberals think Hollywood (or the entertainment industry in general, really) is liberal?”

    Oh, that one is easy.

    In the real world, every minority group (and women, who are not technically a minority so let’s be clear and include them explicitly) is disproportionally poor as compared to white straight men, or even to the population at large. Blacks? Disproportionally poor. Hispanics? Disproportionally poor. Gay people? Trans people? Asians? Women? Disproportionally poor, all of them. Any program to directly address poverty would be tremendously helpful to minorities, and a de facto boost to minority rights — money translates into power and respect. And, in fact, policies which fail to address this inequality will serve to guarantee that minorities are left powerless and vulnerable.

    “Centrist” Democrats, the ones who took over the party in 1992, don’t want to enact that kind of policy. Putting money into the hands of the poor means taking it out of the hands of the rich — and the modern Democratic Party is very much a party in favor of the rich, just like the Republicans are.

    To cover up for this, they like to focus on issues that don’t involve spending money. People who use racial slurs are shamed, even though actually materially helping the members of the racial group who are being slurred is off the table. Legal access to abortion must be protected, even if actual physical access to abortion is permitted to erode (no abortion clinics in how many states now?). Gay marriage is, you might say, the ultimate Centrist issue: Republicans get very angry about it so embracing it is a way to demonstrate your non-Republican-ness in public, it costs basically nothing to make it legal, and it doesn’t involve making the rich less rich or the poor less poor. They can build liberal PR without spending a dime — and the time spent defending it in public is time where the reporters don’t ask pesky questions about drone bombing, wars, bank bailouts, or trade agreements.

    The public has mostly swallowed all of this and even internalized it — every gay person I’ve known well enough to ask about it has said that given the choice between gay marriage or single-payer health insurance, they would prefer the insurance, but which do they march for? A person’s status as being on the left or the right in the US is largely determined by social issues, rather than economic or foreign policy ones, because the parties identified with the left and right basically agree on finance and war.

    This being the case: one of the issues on which Hollywood leans left is respect for minorities. Racial slurs are used as a shorthand for alignment with evil, the minority characters may be tokens most of the time but they are pretty usually present since the 70s, a male character can be a boozing sex addict of questionable history (Iron Man, anybody) but as long as they “respect” the female characters who are on screen — maybe drop in a statement of awe at how competent they are — they’re given a pass. Since this is now how liberals define themselves as liberal, Hollywood is seen as liberal.

    Joe Biden’s candidacy, incidentally, is particularly interesting because it involves such a blatant betrayal of even the “social cues” model. Biden’s entire history has been one of betrayal of every principle Democrats claim to hold dear — he was so strongly anti-abortion that he was still fighting against it in 2010, when he was one of the people demanding that the ACA explicitly forbid it; he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (i.e. was against Gay Marriage); he was pro-Segregation, produced a crime bill which locked up minorities disproportionally, and keeps making verbal slips that show he thinks black people are second-class citizens (like his “poor children can do just as well as white children” comment)… he claims to have accepted that times have changed, but he’s spewing lies so carelessly (claimed to have marched for Civil Rights when actually he was pro-Segregation, claimed to be arrested trying to see Nelson Mandela when he never even tried to see Nelson Mandela, etc.) that it is not merely possible but probable that that claim is a lie, too — but “liberals” have moved on to the point of accepting that “Democrat = liberal” and therefore although Biden is a de facto Republican he is given support. It’s both amazing and appalling.

  25. says

    @34 “The vulnerability the trolls use is a legitimate flaw in our culture.” That would seem to suggest that, regardless of a given person’s particular political views, we all have an ingrained reluctance to directly address conflict. It certainly explains what happens when someone who is superficially liberal turns to the Alt-Right in a time of crisis. “Those progressives said bad things about me when I touched the woman who didn’t want to be touched, so now I’m a conservative and the liberals are the real Nazis” is their usual rallying cry, after all. Or they silence those who actively bring up these issues with touchy-feely sounding words like “unity” or “healing” or whatever.

    @35 So, it seems like pretense is good enough for a lot of liberals. I’m of a similar mind.

    Thank you both for your detailed answers :)

  26. says

    @35 This actually reminds me of a conversation I recently had on Disqus. There, too, I opened up with a less-than-comlimentary remark about progressive politicians. The response was “Well, thanks to progressives, you can dye your hair and not be called a slut”. Rather than question the veracity of that statement, I responded with “So that makes up for lack of access to health care?” He didn’t have much of a response to that…