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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Monday, November 27, 2023
This is from a now-virtually-lost-to-history post by a gentleman named Russell King (aka "American Dad") from May of 2010. I am reproducing it here in it's entirety because, like so many of the millions of words Liberal bloggers spilled during the Before Time warning about the direction the Republican party was taking, the original post and most of mirror sites where it was once stored are now gone.
Like tears in the rain.
In case you weren't there or just don't remember, this Open Letter to Conservative Americans landed like a bombshell back in 2010. On the Left, it went everywhere, was cited by everyone. I believe I referred to it at the time as the Bayeux Tapestry of Republican take-downs: a prosecutorial summation so epic, thoroughgoing and irrefutable that surely it would alter the trajectory of the GOP, even it it were only by a couple of degrees.
Here it is. I'll catch you on the other side:
Dear Conservative Americans,
The years have not been kind to you. I grew up in a profoundly Republican home, so I can remember when you wore a very different face than the one we see now. You’ve lost me and you’ve lost most of America. Because I believe having responsible choices is important to democracy, I’d like to give you some advice and an invitation.
First, the invitation: Come back to us.
Now the advice. You’re going to have to come up with a platform that isn’t built on a foundation of cowardice: fear of people with colors, religions, cultures and sex lives that differ from your own; fear of reform in banking, health care, energy; fantasy fears of America being transformed into an Islamic nation, into social/commun/fasc-ism, into a disarmed populace put in internment camps; and more. But you have work to do even before you take on that task.
Your party — the GOP — and the conservative end of the American political spectrum have become irresponsible and irrational. Worse, they’re tolerating, promoting and celebrating prejudice and hatred. Let me provide some examples — by no means an exhaustive list — of where the Right as gotten itself stuck in a swamp of hypocrisy, hyperbole, historical inaccuracy and hatred.
If you’re going to regain your stature as a party of rational, responsible people, you’ll have to start by draining this swamp:
You can’t flip out — and threaten impeachment – when Dems use a parliamentary procedure (deem and pass) that you used repeatedly (more than 35 times in just one session and more than 100 times in all!), that’s centuries old and which the courts have supported. Especially when your leaders admit it all.
You can’t vote and scream against the stimulus package and then take credit for the good it’s done in your own district (happily handing out enormous checks representing money that you voted against, is especially ugly) — 114 of you (at last count) did just that — and it’s even worse when you secretly beg for more.
Are they “unlawful enemy combatants” or are they “prisoners of war” at Gitmo? You can’t have it both ways.
You can’t rail against the bank bailouts when you supported them as they were happening. (It was Bush who came up with that one.)
You can’t be for immigration reform, then against it.
You can’t flip out when the black president puts his feet on the presidential desk when you were silent about white presidents doing the same. Bush. Ford.
You can’t flip out when the black president bows to foreign dignitaries, as appropriate for their culture, when you were silent when the white presidents did the same. Bush. Nixon. Ike. You didn’t even make a peep when Bush held hands and kissed leaders of countries that are not on “kissing terms” with the US.
You can’t complain that the undies bomber was read his Miranda rights under Obama when the shoe bomber was read his Miranda rights under Bush and you remained silent. (And, no, Newt — the shoe bomber was not a US citizen either, so there is no difference.)
You can’t attack the Dem president for not personally* publicly condemning a terrorist event for 72 hours when you said nothing about the Rep president waiting 6 days in an eerily similar incident (and, even then, he didn’t issue any condemnation). *Obama administration did the day of the event.
You can’t throw a hissy fit, sound alarms and cry that Obama freed Gitmo prisoners who later helped plan the Christmas Day undie bombing, when — in fact — only one former Gitmo detainee, released by Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, helped to plan the failed attack.
You can’t mount a boycott against singers who say they’re ashamed of the president for starting a war, but remain silent when another singer says he’s ashamed of the president and falsely calls him a Maoist who makes him want to throw up and says he ought to be in jail.
You can’t be both pro-choice and anti-choice.
You can’t condemn criticizing the president when US troops are in harm’s way, then attack the president when US troops are in harm’s way , the only difference being the president’s party affiliation (and, by the way, armed conflict does NOT remove our right and our duty as Americans to speak up).
You can’t be both for cap-and-trade policy and against it.
If you push anti-gay legislation and make anti-gay speeches, you should probably take a pass on having gay sex, regardless of whether it’s 2004 or 2010. This is true, too, if you’re taking GOP money and giving anti-gay rants on CNN. Taking right-wing money and GOP favors to write anti-gay stories for news sites while working as a gay prostitute, doubles down on both the hypocrisy and the prostitution. This is especially true if you claim your anti-gay stand is God’s stand, too.
When you chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children, you can’t send sexy emails to 16-year-old boys (illegal anyway, but you made it hypocritical as well).
You can’t criticize Dems for not doing something you didn’t do while you held power over the past 16 years, especially when the Dems have done more in one year than you did in 16.
You can’t spend more than 40 years hating, cutting and trying to kill Medicare, and then pretend to be the defenders of Medicare.
You can’t praise the Congressional Budget Office when its analysis produces numbers that fit your political agenda, then claim it’s unreliable when it comes up with numbers that don’t.
You can’t vote for X under a Republican president, then vote against X under a Democratic president. Either you support X or you don’t. And it makes it worse when you change your position merely for the sake obstructionism.
You can’t call a reconciliation out of bounds when you used it repeatedly.
You can’t demand everyone listen to the generals when they say what fits your agenda, and then ignore them when they don’t.
You can’t whine that it’s unfair when people accuse you of exploiting racism for political gain, when your party’s former leader admits you’ve been doing it for decades.
You can’t complain about a lack of bipartisanship when you’ve routinely obstructed for the sake of political gain — threatening to filibuster at least 100 pieces of legislation in one session, far more than any other since the procedural tactic was invented — and admitted it. Some admissions are unintentional, others are made proudly. This is especially true when the bill is the result of decades of compromise between the two parties and is filled with your own ideas.
You can’t question the loyalty of Department of Justice lawyers when you didn’t object when your own Republican president appointed them.
You can’t preach and try to legislate “Family Values” when you: take nude hot tub dips with teenagers (and pay them hush money); cheat on your wife with a secret lover and lie about it to the world; cheat with a staffer’s wife (and pay them off with a new job); pay hookers for sex while wearing a diaper and cheating on your wife; or just enjoying an old fashioned non-kinky cheating on your wife; try to have gay sex in a toilet; authorize the rape of children in Iraqi prisons to coerce their parents into providing information; seek, look at or have sex with children; replace a guy who cheats on his wife with a guy who cheats on his pregnant wife with his wife’s mother.
You really need to disassociate with those among you who:
* assert that people making a quarter-million dollars a year can barely make ends meet or that $1 million “isn’t a lot of money”;
* say that “Comrade” Obama is a “Bolshevik” who is “taking cues from Lenin”;
* ignore the many times your buddies use a term that offends you and complain only when a Dem says it;
* liken political opponents to murderers, rapists, and “this Muslim guy” that “offed his wife’s head” or call them “un-American”;
* say Obama “wants his plan to fail…so that he can make the case for bank nationalization and vindicate his dream of a socialist economy”;
* equate putting the good of the people ahead of your personal fortunes with terrorism;
* smear an entire major religion with the actions of a few fanatics;
* say that the president wants to “annihilate us“;
* compare health care reform with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a Bolshevik plot the attack on 9/11, or reviving the ghosts of communist dictators;
* equate our disease-fighting stem cell research with “what the Nazis did”;
* call a bill passed by the majority of both houses of Congress, by members of Congress each elected by a majority in their districts, an unconscionable abuse of power, a violation of the presidential oath or “the end of representative government”;
* shout “baby killer” at a member of Congress on the floor of the House, especially one who so fought against abortion rights that he nearly killed health care reform (in fact, a little decorum, a little respect for our national institutions and the people and the values they represent, would be refreshing — cut out the shouting, the swearing and the obscenities);
* prove your machismo by claiming your going to “crash a party” to which you’re officially invited;
* claim that Obama is pushing America’s “submission to Shariah”;
* question the patriotism of people upholding cherished American values and the rule of law;
* claim the president is making us less safe without a hint of evidence;
* call a majority vote the “tyranny of the minority,” even if you meant to call it tyranny of the majority — it’s democracy, not tyranny;
* call the president’s support of a criminal trial for a terror suspect “treasonous” (especially when you supported the same thing when the president shared your party);
* call the Pope the anti-Christ;
* assert that the constitutionally mandated census is an attempt to enslave us;
* accuse opponents of being backed by Arab slave-drivers or are drunk and suicidal;
equate family planning with eugenics or Nazism;
* accuse the president of changing the missile defense program’s logo to match his campaign logo and reflect what you say is his secret Muslim identity;
* accuse political opponents of being totalitarians, socialists, communists, fascists, Marxists; terrorist sympathizers, McCarthy-like, Nazis or drug pushers; and
* advocate a traitors act like secession, violent revolution, military coup or civil war (just so we’re clear: sedition is a bad thing).
You can’t cut a leading Founding Father out the history books because you’ve decided you don’t like his ideas.
You cant repeatedly assert that the president refuses to say the word “terrorism” or say we’re at war with terror when we have an awful lot of videotape showing him repeatedly assailing terrorism and using those exact words.
You can’t just pretend historical events didn’t happen in an effort to make a political opponent look dishonest or to make your side look better. Especially these events. (And, no, repeating it doesn’t make it better.)
You can’t say things that are simply and demonstrably false: health care reform will not push people out of their private insurance and into a government-run program ; health care reform (which contains a good many of your ideas and very few from the Left) is a long way from “socialist utopia”; health care reform is not “reparations”; nor does health care reform create “death panels”.
You have to condemn those among you who:
* call members of Congress n*gger and f*ggot;
elected leaders who say “I’m a proud racist”;
* state that America has been built by white people;
* say that poor people are poor because they’re rotten people, call them “parasitic garbage” or say they shouldn’t be allowed to vote;
* call women bitches and prostitutes just because you don’t like their politics ( re – pea – ted – ly );
* assert that the women who are serving our nation in uniform are hookers;
* mock and celebrate the death of a grandmother because you disagree with her son’s politics;
* declare that those who disagree with you are shown by that disagreement to be not just “Marxist radicals” but also monsters and a deadly disease killing the nation (this would fit in the hyperbole and history categories, too);
* joke about blindness;
* advocate euthanizing the wife of your political opponent;
* taunt people with incurable, life-threatening diseases — especially if you do it on a syndicated broadcast;
* equate gay love with bestiality — involving horses or dogs or turtles or ducks — or polygamy, child molestation, pedophilia;
* casually assume that only white males look “like a real American”;
* assert presidential power to authorize torture, torture a child by having his testicles crushed in front of his parents to get them to talk, order the massacre of a civilian village and launch a nuclear attack without the consent of Congress;
* attack children whose mothers have died;
* call people racists without producing a shred of evidence that they’ve said or done something that would even smell like racism — same for invoking racially charged “dog whistle” words (repeatedly);
condemn the one thing that every major religion agrees on;
* complain that we no longer employ the tactics we once used to disenfranchise millions of Americans because of their race;
* blame the victims of natural disasters and terrorist attacks for their suffering and losses;
* celebrate violence , joke about violence, prepare for violence or use violent imagery, “fun” political violence, hints of violence, threats of violence (this one is rather explicit), suggestions of violence or actual violence (and, really, suggesting anal rape with a hot piece of metal is beyond the pale); and
* incite insurrection telling people to get their guns ready for a “bloody battle” with the president of the United States.
Oh, and I’m not alone: One of your most respected and decorated leaders agrees with me.
So, dear conservatives, get to work. Drain the swamp of the conspiracy nuts, the bold-faced liars undeterred by demonstrable facts, the overt hypocrisy and the hatred. Then offer us a calm, responsible, grownup agenda based on your values and your vision for America. We may or may not agree with your values and vision, but we’ll certainly welcome you back to the American mainstream with open arms. We need you.
(Anticipating your initial response: No there is nothing that even comes close to this level of wingnuttery on the American Left.)
As I said, above, the hope was that this epic, thoroughgoing and irrefutable summation of the disastrous course the Right was was on might prompt them to change course, even just a little.
But nah. Didn't make a dent. Or a crease. Or a scratch.
On the Right it went over like puerco pibil and blood sausage at a vegan family picnic, because by 2010, for the post-Bush Right, the past no longer existed. Whatever bullshit principles they had sworn they believed in just years or months before had been magically ablated via the Fabulous, Tea-Baggulous Bush-Off Machine along with the rest of their disgraceful history.
And the mainstream media did their part as well. During the Bush Regime, the mainstream media -- which had already been conditioned by the Clinton years to reflexively attack Democrats and defer to Republicans to prove how "fair" they were -- obediently rolled over for every Republican atrocity. They no longer cared about the eight years of trauma and catastrophe the Republican party had just inflicted on the country: instead they fell slobberingly in love with this new, upstart group of "independents" called the Tea Party.
Which, of course, turned out to be nothing but the same old scumbag Republicans in brand new stupid hats.
But this utterly craven complicity by the media was the key to understanding where the GOP would go next. For the Right it unlocked the breathtaking truth that no matter what they did -- no matter how much they lied, or what they smashed or who they put in office -- the gelded media would never hold them accountable for any of it. That, at worst, the media would go right on blaming Both Sides for every Republican atrocity.
This guarantee of perpetual blamelessness put a terrible political weapon into the hands of the worst people.
Which brings us to this long, long Twitter chain by Ryan Shead, which he published almost exactly one decade after Russell King's epic work. I commend the whole thing to your attention:
THIS WAS ON A FRIEND’S PAGE: An anguished question from a Trump supporter: ‘Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?’— Ryan Shead (@RyanShead) June 11, 2020
THE SERIOUS ANSWER: Here’s what the majority of anti-Trump voters honestly feel about Trump supporters en masse:@realDonaldTrump
Like Mr. King's post, Mr. Shead has published a magisterial and panoramic answer to the question,‘Why do liberals think Trump supporters are stupid?’ which he has updated a few times since.
There are virtues to taking the time and trouble to "document the atrocities" in essays like this. I find them useful. Maybe you do too. And theoretically, it may provide some future historians digging through the rubble of the 21st century some insight into what happened to us. I also wish such works were published in a less transient medium than pixels on a site which can be wiped out at the whim of the site's madman proprietor. Ideally between the covers of a real, hold-in-your-hand paper book. And as long as I'm making wishes, why not wish for such a book to sell 25 million copies and top the New York Time Bestseller List for 18 months?
All that would be great, but I long ago gave up any illusions about such works changing any minds on the Right or in the Center. It doesn't matter how many facts you marshal, how much history you have at your command, or how skillfully you build your case: the Right are dug in like ticks, and Centrists would rather crawl a 1,000 miles to find a fence to straddle than give up their "Both Sides Do It" dogma.
It's trench warfare now.
And it will probably be this way for the rest of our lives.
Friday, November 24, 2023
The single funniest, darkest punchline of the month comes at around the 37 minute mark of this podcast. When, after 15 minutes of unremitting, self-righteous Never Trumper contempt for the gelatinous morality of supermarket-mogul and Senate hopeful Peter Meijer there comes a perky commercial for the...
...at Meijer! Supermarkets!
Yes, that Meijer.
PS. Do you happen remember just a year ago when the very same Tim Miller (who is now pillorying Pete Meijer for being an amoral rich-twat dilettante) was pillorying Democrats for spending a few dollars running factually correct ads in a few Republican primaries to (including the primary in which Meijer lost) in order to improve their chances of beating the eventual Republican nominee in the general election?
Which was a strategy that actually worked?
That helped kill the Red Wave with a Blue Breakwater?
Because I sure remember it.
I wonder if Tim Miller does?
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
“God grant me the courage not to give up what I think is right even though I think it is hopeless.” -- Chester W. Nimitz
Stormy Daniels' tell-all book on Trump: salacious detail and claims of cheating
Comey paints unsparing portrait of Trump in devastating tell-all book
Trump Books Keep Coming, and Readers Can’t Stop BuyingWhite House memoirs, journalistic exposés, full-throated defenses of the president: Publishers are producing books for every partisan and wondering if the gravy train ends on Election Day....Books about politicians and government are not considered surefire commercial hits. But since President Trump entered office, books about his campaign, his administration, his family, his business, his policies, even his golf game have poured out of publishing houses big and small.
And many of these titles have sold extraordinarily well.
“No matter what your political position, there’s really no doubt that the strong feelings around the Trump administration have pushed book sales in a way we’ve never seen before in the political arena,” said Kristen McLean, the executive director of business development at NPD Books, a market research firm. “The volume of best-selling titles is really remarkable.”...
“Political books broadly have worked more or less in proportion to how polarizing the figure that they orbit is, and you don’t get more polarizing than Donald J. Trump,” said Eamon Dolan, an executive editor at Simon & Schuster who edited Ms. Trump’s book. “However you feel about the president in political terms or existential terms for what he might do for or to the country, he makes great copy.”
Despite how divisive Mr. Trump has been as a leader, “Trump is a very unifying figure for book buyers,” Mr. Dolan added...
Thomas Spence, president of Regnery Publishing, which publishes conservative titles, said political books usually perform better when they can rail against the opposition in power. But the Trump years have been good for Regnery.
“We’ve had a lot of successes,” Mr. Spence said...
“Negative, positive, left, right — this last three or four years has lifted all boats,” said Robert B. Barnett, a Washington lawyer who brokers major book deals on both sides of the aisle...
This new wrinkle in Trumpian rhetoric has caused whiplash in the mainstream media, who are so deeply invested in the “both-sides” narrative, they can’t see beyond the next electoral horserace. If the story isn’t about who’s ahead, who’s in trouble, who made a gaffe, or who tanked in the latest poll, they seem totally lost. They crave conflict and controversy, even where there is none, so they can keep their readers reading and their viewers viewing.
Which means that, even as Republicans plot a complete take-down of democracy, the press continues to compulsively run stories that make Biden look old and Trump look shrewd. This is how they compensate for the wild disparities in intelligence, competence, and basic humanity of the two horses in this race.
And they always follow the same tired formula: Pretend both sides are equally bad. Pretend Democrats are in disarray. Pretend Republicans are adults. Pretend Trump is sane.
But Trump, as usual, isn’t following anyone’s formula, which has the press totally flummoxed. What’s the other side of Nazism again?
The Times was especially disconcerted by the Vermin speech, though they shouldn’t have been, having covered Hitler himself firsthand in the thirties. They started by dipping a reluctant toe in the water, running a remarkably tepid headline — "Trump Takes Veterans Day Speech in a Very Different Direction" — which mentioned the word ‘vermin’ once in the second paragraph, and never again.
When they were instantly smacked down by most of the Western world, they reran the article with a new headline — “In Veterans Day Speech, Trump Promises to ‘Root Out’ the Left” — which was a little better, but they were still burying the lead.
It wasn’t until two days later that they succumbed to reality, putting ‘Vermin’ in the headline and ‘Hitler and Mussolini’ in the subhead. This surely gave the entire editorial board vapors, but there it was...
In just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton’s emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election.What did all these stories talk about? The research team investigated this question, counting sentences that appeared in mainstream media sources and classifying each as detailing one of several Clinton- or Trump-related issues. In particular, they classified each sentence as describing either a scandal (e.g., Clinton’s emails, Trump’s taxes) or a policy issue (Clinton and jobs, Trump and immigration). They found roughly four times as many Clinton-related sentences that described scandals as opposed to policies, whereas Trump-related sentences were one-and-a-half times as likely to be about policy as scandal.
Given the sheer number of scandals in which Trump was implicated—sexual assault; the Trump Foundation; Trump University; redlining in his real-estate developments; insulting a Gold Star family; numerous instances of racist, misogynist, and otherwise offensive speech—it is striking that the media devoted more attention to his policies than to his personal failings.
Even more striking, the various Clinton-related email scandals—her use of a private email server while secretary of state, as well as the DNC and John Podesta hacks—accounted for more sentences than all of Trump’s scandals combined (65,000 vs. 40,000) and more than twice as many as were devoted to all of her policy positions.
BULLSH**TER OF THE DAY: Matthew Dowd, for elevating the false equivalence to an art form
Every vile deed committed by Trump MUST be paired off with something–anything–that Hillary has done
"Either you care both about Trump being sexual predator & Clinton emails, or u care about neither. But don't talk about one without the other."–Matthew Dowd, on Twitter, Nov. 1, 2016
As I wrote a few years ago, the brain-caste of the GOP spent a 40 years and billions of dollars carefully breeding an army of reliably angry, paranoid, racists chumps. And they have been so successful at completely re-engineering the Right's ideological digestive system that they can no longer process any information which does not come to them in the form of Fox-approved Benghaaaazi goo.
In your weird fetish to be “objective”, the Republicans learned the little trick that makes you dance like organ grinder monkeys. Whatever goofy-assed idea they came up with, you’d reflexively cede them half the distance between the truth and their goal.
There was a book I loved when I was a little driftglass called, “Half Magic” by Edgar Eager, about a talisman that granted the user exactly half of what they asked for. Wish to be ten times stronger that Lancelot, you’ll get five. Wish for a million in cash, you get 500K. In the Mainstream Media, the Right Wing of the Republican Party found their Half Magic Charm. And each time you met them halfway, they moved the goalposts another twenty yards again...and you jogged right on along behind them, ten yards at a time.
The “compromise” between the truth and a lie...is a lie. The “compromise” between science and superstition...is superstition. Now, would you care to guess what the compromise between tolerance and bigotry is? Between knowledge and ignorance? Between Ann Coulter and Paul Krugman?
Why Are People So Cynical And Angry?It’s all part of the Republicans’ cunning plan
Yep. That mainstream media strategy of trying to appease the fascists and soothe Centrists by consistently blaming Both Sides for Republican atrocities continues to bear its lethal fruit every day.
In her post, Digby cites this excellent Twitter thread by Dave Roberts which I'm going to reproduce here in its entirety:
This [Washington Post] article is worth examining closely. It’s a classic “visit a swing county to hear about politics” piece, so it forces itself to be even-handed & “pox on both houses,” but if you read closely you can glimpse something else.
Why are they upset? “the broader political backdrop— the impeachments, Trump’s torrent of falsehoods about the 2020 election, the Capitol insurrection, the band of hard-right Republicans ousting their speaker —has blocked out notice of what both sides cast as accomplishments…”
Hm… what do all those things have in common? Oh, they’re all about Republican extremism! It’s relentless GOP agitprop & anger & corruption & hysteria that is making politics so draining. Because making people sick of politics *serves the right’s interests*.
Here you see what might have been an alternate framing of the article: “the right’s quest to make politics toxic & to destroy citizens’ trust in basic political & media institutions is working.” The lead anecdote is about a woman seeing a *psychic* for answers.
Then there’s this: “They long for compromise. They want to feel heard and understood. Most Americans, for instance, desire access to abortion, tighter restrictions on guns and affordable health care. Many wonder why our laws don’t reflect that.”
There’s a party that talks constantly about compromise & making sure everyone’s heard. It supports access to abortion, tighter restrictions on guns, & more affordable health care. It’s the Democratic Party. It borders on performance art to refrain from saying so in that graf!
An then this, from a swing voter:
“I can’t really speak to anything [Biden] has done,” he said, “because I’ve tuned it out, like a lot of people have. We’re so tired of the us-against-them politics.”
[sound of Dave becoming the Joker]
So what we really have here is an article about swing voters pining for calmer, more sensible politics & a range of moderate policies–EXACTLY THE SHIT THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY STANDS FOR. But when they tune in, all they see is madness & ugliness & fighting & claim & counter-claim so they “tune out” & thus do not hear about Biden saying/doing exactly the f’ing things they want someone to say/do. That is the right’s mission, accomplished. That is the core US political dynamic. That’s what these articles should be about.
Everywhere, reactionaries in politics are the same: they try to blur truth, increase bile & anger, exhaust everyone, and convince the public that no one can be trusted (ie, only a Strong Man can fix it). Those are the circumstances in which reactionaries flourish.
That’s what the right is doing in the US & the media is helping them by rewarding them with endless attention when they act out. The public is telling the WaPo here, as clearly as it can: we care about calm, deliberation, substance, policy, but all we get is spectacle.
This is been a head-f’ing aspect of US politics as long as I’ve paid attention: centrists & swing voters pining for someone to do/say exactly what Democrats are doing/saying. They just don’t know Democrats are doing/saying it, because they don’t hear about it.
* (I will rarely do a modification to an existing post, but this seemed too sadly appropriate not to add.) This is a graphic-intensive post,...
To date, this is how the very few interactions I've had with Never Trumpers have gone, because I want to talk about the Befor...