I think some of my friends believe I have lost my mind. I’ve always prided myself on how I use social media: engaging with everyone with charity, avoiding the hint of an ad hominem, and carefully limiting my use. I’ve violated all these principles, and more, in recent days.

The fact is, I’m angry. I’m very, very angry. I don’t believe this is healthy or right or good. I have been spending a lot more time in prayer in recent days. And yet, the anger keeps bubbling up. Yesterday, I deactivated my social media accounts. And yet, the anger is still there.

And so I am going to explain some of the reasons for my anger. You be the judge if I have lost my mind.

‘Hang Pence’

In 2015, I was working full-time as a conservative journalist and editor. I vividly remember the suspicion, even disgust, most social conservatives expressed at the time, when it looked like Trump might clinch the GOP nomination. How could we ever get behind, or trust such a man?

Then, in July, 2016, Trump chose Mike Pence as his running mate. That was a brilliant move. We didn’t know what to make of Trump. But we did know Pence. And Pence was committed. He was the real deal. So, we climbed aboard the Trump Train.

Anybody who’s paid attention, knows that Pence was the driving force behind the Trump admin’s social conservative agenda. Yes, Trump deserved kudos for getting behind it, but Pence was the architect. He was our main man in the White House. And for four years, he delivered.

On Tuesday, on Twitter, Trump repeatedly called for Pence to reject the certified electors in the swing states, saying that if he didn’t, Pence would be to blame for his loss. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was literally shaking with anger as I read those Tweets. Trump was publicly setting up Pence as his fall guy, his scapegoat.

“The coward,” I thought. “The double-crossing, two-faced, lying, unscrupulous, disloyal, thankless ingrate,” I added. “This,” I thought, “this is the moment. This is the moment when social conservatives wake up, and realize that they’re in bed with a snake, a crocodile.”  

Nope.

Trump repeated his accusations against Pence at the rally on Wed. morning. “If Mike Pence does the right thing we win the election,” he said. He even dared to suggest that if Pence didn’t do what he said, it was because he lacked “courage”.

Pence responded with a statement explaining why he couldn’t do what Trump was demanding he do. Clearly, he was right. You’d have to be insane or delusional to think the framers of the Constitution or the 12th amendment intended to grant the vice president the authority to do what Trump was demanding Pence do. (“Hey, let’s give unilateral authority to reject legislatively-certified electoral votes to the politician whose continued position and power depend on the outcome of that vote! What a great idea! Because a little tyranny never hurt democracy, amiright?”) Which is why it has never happened in the history of the country.

According to reports (UPDATE: here’s video), during the ensuing riot some of the rioters rampaged through the Capitol looking for Pence, so they could string him up. Some of them built a gallows in front. A day later, “hang Mike Pence” trended on Twitter.

All of this was entirely foreseeable. Trump foresaw it, and yet he betrayed Pence like a coward, handing him over to the bloodlust of the followers whom he had fanned into fury.

And MAGA, including many social conservatives on my social media feeds, followed suit, kicking Pence the moment Trump whistled, choosing Trump over the man who had proven, through years of faithful service, that he is a man of integrity, conviction, authentic faith, and moral courage.

So yeah, I’m angry.

‘Mostly peaceful’

In the minutes after the Capitol riot, I watched as numerous conservative friends and acquaintances started sharing memes and images claiming that two of the most visible rioters were “Antifa” and “BLM” provocateurs.

From the moment the first of these memes crossed my social feed, to the moment my feed was flooded with them, was less than an hour. Within a couple hours, millions of people had spread them across Facebook and Twitter.

It took me less than two minutes to identify both of the men. Both of them are well-known Trump supporters. I quickly wrote an article exposing the lie. But by that time it was too late. Millions of people already believed they had “proof” that the riot was instigated by Antifa provocateurs. Nothing will ever convince them otherwise.

On Wed. evening, a Washington Times article claiming that a “facial recognition” company, XRvision, had identified “Antifa” activists in the crowd went viral. It was shared over 350,000 times on Facebook. Later that night, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz repeated the allegation on the House floor. Within hours XRVision sent a cease and desist order to the Times, noting that they had in fact identified members of neo-nazi organizations in the crowd. But, too late. Millions had already seen and believed the first version of the story.

In the days since, MAGA fans have dug up a couple of videos that show, or appear to show, police letting rioters into the Capitol.  These videos, they claim, prove that the whole riot was a “set up”, a “false flag operation”; or that the protest was a “mostly peaceful” – or even “almost entirely peaceful” – demonstration that is being overblown by the media and Democrats.

And so, bathing in the waters of absolution provided by this newest fantasy, MAGA rests with a clear conscience, convicted that it was “them,” not “us“, who is most to blame. (The first rule of political fight club: it’s always “them,” it’s never “us.”)

Fantasy, I say, because in order to believe this theory, you would have to ignore the dozens and dozens of horrifying videos showing hordes of hundreds of MAGA fans physically battling with the police inside and outside the Capitol, pushing through police lines (in one video, a young officer, bleeding from the mouth, screams in pain as he is wedged between a door and his shield, while the mob pushes on, heedless), smashing barriers and doors, dragging a fallen police officer down the steps and beating him while hundreds of rioters continue an all-out assault on officers guarding the door, interrogating and assaulting journalists, and all the while screaming “traitor!” at the policing protecting the Capitol.

You would have to ignore the fact of 60 police officers injured, one dead. Another officer took his own life days after the riot. (I remember the mockery among conservatives when UK media reported on a BLM protest this summer, in which a “mere” 27 police were injured as being “mostly peaceful.”)

You’d have to ignore all the arrest reports of known Trump supporters, including one who showed up with an M4 rifle, loaded magazines, handguns, and jars filled with homemade napalm; or the one who texted to friends, on his way to the demonstration, “Headed to DC with a shit ton of 5.56 armor-piercing ammo.” And then, “Thinking about heading over to Pelosi Cunt’s speech and putting a bullet in her noggin on Live TV.”

Many of the people credulously spreading the Antifa/BLM narrative as proven fact, or downplaying the violence, or excusing or even celebrating the riot, or escaping the duty of self-reflection and self-correction with puerile, pathetic whataboutism, or excusing Trump from all blame, are social conservative activists who should know better.

So yeah, I’m angry.

Electoral Fraud and the Triumph of Fantasy

This is the point where, as a committed conservative, I’m supposed to make excuses for my ideological allies. This is where I’m supposed to explain that we only reached this point because the political establishment and the mainstream media have lied and treated us like dirt for so long; because after four years of constant attacks and demonization of our most preciously held beliefs conservatives were driven to desperation. “Maybe what happened at the Capitol isn’t excusable, but it was understandable,” I’m supposed to say. “After all, it was ‘they’ who pushed us to the breaking point,” etc. etc.

Well, I’m not going to do that.

As a friend of mind noted on Facebook the other day, there’s this old, medieval theory called “the theory of free will.” It states that we’re individually responsible for our actions, whatever the circumstances.

One thing conservatives love to do is to make fun of the “fake news media.” And one of our favorite fantasies is that our favorite alternative conservative media outlets are the place to go to get the “real truth” about what’s going on.

In reality, many alternative conservative news sites and outlets are as one-sided, biased, and full of lies and fake news as CNN and MSNBC. Often, much more so. Conservatives, as much as liberals, have lost the taste for the hard work involved in separating fact from fiction. We’ve gotten comfortable with lies. We love a good conspiracy theory. We read news agencies that tell us what we want to hear. We share juicy claims about our enemies without asking if they’re true, because it convinces us we’re on the “right side”. We believe everything our allies say, because it makes us feel good. And we never, ever admit we’ve gotten something wrong, or apologize when we’re caught sharing fake news.

A few months ago, I saw a prominent conservative leader post a “quote” by Kamala Harris on his Facebook page. The quote was horrifying. “Our soldiers have become nothing more than a collection of evil sadistic monsters whose sole purpose of existence is to maim and slaughter,” Harris reportedly said. I knew the quote was fake the moment I clapped eyes on it. So I tracked the source down. It was from a satirical website. There was also a Snopes fact-check. I posted the link to the fact-check below the post on the conservative leader’s page.

Then I turned to my wife, who was sitting across the table, and quipped wryly, “How long until someone reams me out for relying on Snopes?” I laughed when, a minute or two later, an employee from another conservative organization dismissed my post, denouncing Snopes as “leftist propaganda.”

A few years ago, I started tracking instances of fake news shared by conservatives in my news feed. But I gave it up. There was just too damn much of it. But whenever I point out that fake news is a problem on the right as much as on the left, I’m accused of being overly scrupulous. “Why are you wasting your time criticizing conservatives, when the liberals are destroying the country?”

Well, because without truth, we’re screwed. That’s one huge reason why I think we’re screwed right now. We’re unmoored from reality, floating in a soothing bath of fake or biased news and outright fantasy.

Many of my conservative acquaintances are flabbergasted that I do not believe that the 2020 election was stolen. They cannot imagine how an honest person faced with the sheer volume of fraud allegations, affidavits, and videos, and the obvious malice of the left towards the President, can remain unconvinced that the whole thing stank to high heaven.

I won’t say that the election was not stolen. I don’t know that, if only because I can’t claim to have evaluated every allegation – an impossible task. However, what I do know for certain, is that a staggering number of the fraud allegations that people think prove the election was stolen are demonstrably false, and that the people most responsible for pushing the fraud narrative are completely unworthy of our trust.

I spent weeks poring over the allegations. More often than not, there came a moment when it became clear that the allegation I was investigating was based upon a basic misunderstanding or misreading of the data, relevant law or electoral procedures, or that the “evidence” offered to support the allegation was erroneous, incomplete, circumstantial, cherry-picked, or dishonest.

Let me put it this way: Ten thousand grainy, 30-second, carefully clipped CCTV videos of election officials doing something that The Gateway Pundit assures you is shady or fraudulent does not a single provable case of election fraud make.

The fact is, most people who are absolutely convinced that the election was stolen, have never once, since Nov. 2, seriously considered the possibility that it wasn’t. From the moment those first videos began to circulate of Arizona Republicans falsely claiming that election workers had deliberately invalidated their votes by making them fill out the ballots with Sharpies, they never looked back. They knew the election was stolen. If it wasn’t Sharpiegate, it was something else.

Maybe not all the allegations were true. But some of them must be! If not this one, than the next one. Every day, Trump and his lawyers and allies made new allegations. It was impossible to keep up. There was a tsunami of fraud. We were buried in fraud. Trump must be right. He won by a “landslide”. By “millions” of votes!

If one allegation fell apart, no worries, there was always another twenty to take its place. And besides, Trumpists could always just move the goalpost. “The Georgia recount will expose massive fraud, will prove that Dominion machines algorithmically switched votes!” When the recount showed that, in fact, the hand count matched the Dominion count, then it was, “We need a second recount. That will expose the fraud”. When the second recount also validated the result, then it was, “Audit the signatures! That’s where the fraud really took place!” When a signature matching audit in Cobb county found no fraud, then it was, “Audit the signature matches in Fulton county. That’s where the fraud is to be found!”

When a judge rejected a lawsuit, it was because he was an “Obama appointee.” When the judge was a Trump appointee, it was because he was a “traitor.”

I could go on like this for a long time, but I won’t. If you believe the election was stolen, I’m probably not going change your mind. Frankly, at this point, I’m not even sure it even matters.

Even if the election was stolen, by now we should all be able to agree that Trump and his lawyers were so catastrophically incompetent in how they set about “proving” their case, that they bear a huge portion of the blame for where we find ourselves now. If Trump can’t manage to get a single judge to rule his way, or if he can’t convince even the pro-Trump Republican governor and secretary of state of Georgia that he’s right, maybe he’s not the brilliant operator we’re supposed to believe he is.

On the other hand, maybe – just maybe – the whole thing was another giant, convenient fantasy, like the fantasy that the riots on Wed. were perpetrated by Antifa. Maybe we should have listened to Sen. Ben Sasse – that “traitor” (who isn’t a traitor these days?) – who said a few days ago that all his colleagues admit in private conversation that they don’t actually believe the election was stolen. Really, they’re just terrified of the MAGA fans who do believe it. And hell, if they had reason to be terrified before Wednesday, they sure have reasons to be terrified now.

Maybe we’re all just suckers. Maybe we were all played by Trump. And why should we be surprised? We knew all along that he was a compulsive liar. But somewhere along the line, for some reason, we started believing his lies. Because, I suppose, his lies sounded so much better than the truth. But that’s no excuse.

So yeah, I’m angry.

The king crocodile of the swamp

Roger Stone had something to say a couple days ago. “The @AmericaFirstProject are building a database liof (sic) Republicans who opposed the president,” he wrote on Parler. “We will be able to tell exactly where they are and we will hold them responsible for their actions. Hey Stuart Stevens go fuck yourself you talentless piece of human garbage. Why does your breath smell like Mitt Romney’s cock.”

Stone, recently pardoned by Trump, arguably has the distinction of being the man, other than Trump, most responsible for Trump’s presidency. He is allegedly the one who convinced Trump to run. As president, Trump put into practice Stone’s Machiavellian political strategies, outlined in the book Stone’s Rules.

After Trump commuted Stone’s prison sentence, Stone claimed he was “born again”. He was reading the Bible every day, he said. He started making the rounds of Sunday pulpits, giving his “testimony.” I watched several of these “testimonies.” They were indistinguishable from pro-Trump stump speeches, except that every now and then, like a good prosperity preacher, Stone would drop some reference to “the Lord.”  

I’m Catholic, and so I was stunned when Catholic media figures Patrick Coffin and Michael Voris gave fawning interviews to Stone. Eric Metaxas had Stone on his show. All three of them treated Stone as a hero and a martyr, and accepted his conversion story at face value. Stone recently told my good friend Jonathon van Maren that he believes that there is a “prophesy” that says that he will save the country. (What isn’t there a prophesy about these days?)

A few weeks ago, I was discussing Lin Wood, Sidney Powell’s right-hand man, with a pro-life activist. I expressed my view, after watching him at the Stop the Steal rally in Georgia, that Wood was smarmy and untrustworthy, and that he was putting on an act for religious MAGA fans. Like Stone, Wood made sure to drop plentiful references to “the Lord” and Biblical stories during the Georgia rally. But the whole time watching him, I felt like I was bathing in grease.

My interlocutor assured me that I just didn’t get it, and that Wood was a “big deal” to conservatives in the States. He was a hero. Within days, Wood was on Twitter alleging that Chief Justice John Roberts is a pedophile (that’s one way of convincing SCOTUS to hear your election fraud lawsuit!) and repeatedly calling for Pence to be executed by firing squad. Wood is one of those responsible for spreading the Antifa rumors after the riot, deceptively posting a photo of one of the rioters taken from an Antifa website, without disclosing that the photo was from an article exposing the rioter for being a white supremacist.

A couple weeks ago, Michael Flynn publicly called for Trump to institute martial law and administer another election using the military. (This was another moment when I thought to myself: “This is the moment. This is when MAGA-supporting social conservatives will realize that the Trump Train has completely jumped the tracks!” Nope. Instead, martial law became the cool, hip and totally reasonable thing to do.) Recently Flynn has begun to sell QAnon merchandise.

In November, Sidney Powell burst onto the scene, claiming to have proved, in the space of two weeks, a vast, international conspiracy involving multiple multi-national corporations, dead dictators, Cuba, Venezuela, China, Germany, and more. As a longtime journalist, it boggled my mind even to consider the number of facts Powell would have had to establish in just two weeks to prove her case. None of it added up. None of it has withstood scrutiny. But she did have an affidavit from an anonymous Venezualan official. Oh, and another by a “military intelligence expert” with the James Bondish codename “Spyder”, who turned out to be a former mechanic with no intelligence experience. Oh, and another by “private contractor with experience gathering and analyzing foreign intelligence” who turned out to be a pro-Trump podcaster with a nasty habit of claiming to have advanced degrees and credentials that she doesn’t in fact have. Powell, too, has repeatedly signaled her support for QAnon. Now, she is being sued by Dominion for $1.3 billion in damages.

These are MAGA’s heroes. These are the people I’ve been told over and over again in recent weeks will “save” the Republic, the people to whom I owed unquestioning loyalty, whom I was denounced for doubting or criticizing.

Grifters. Con artists. Conspiracy theorists.

Meanwhile, these are the people who MAGA has now labelled “traitors”: Mike Pence, Bill Bar, Betsy Devos, Amy Coney Barrett (all of Trump’s SCOTUS nominees, in fact) Brad Raffensperger, Brian Kemp…in fact, anybody and everybody who has ever dared ever breathe a word of criticism of Trump.

For the past four years, Trump hasn’t been draining the swamp. He is the swamp. Or rather, the king crocodile of the swamp.

But any time I, or others, have raised these concerns in public, we’ve been told that we’ve lost the plot, that we’re turncoats, that we’re not really “on side.” That we’re Never Trumpers (even if we weren’t). That we’re weak, and cowardly. Cucks. That we just don’t “like” Trump because he’s not “nice” enough. That we’re suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.

So yeah, I’m angry.

Diabolical disorientation

Nothing, absolutely nothing, has disturbed me more over the past four years, than the weird misuse of Christian religious language, spirituality and mysticism in service of the Trumpist political agenda. I’ve written about this elsewhere, and so I won’t repeat myself here.

However, I will add that I hope the day will come when I will see other alleged Trumpist “prophets,” or the people who spread their prophesies, apologizing for misleading the faithful, as Christian leader Jeremiah Johnson recently did (And has since received death threats for so doing.)

The effect of these alleged prophesies has been to endow political loyalties with a degree of religious fervor and conviction that rightly belong only to God. Clad in the certitude of total faith, Trumpist true believers have breezily rejected every inconvenient fact or event or piece of evidence as a diabolical deception. After all, what do your “facts” matter, when God Himself has told us the truth? Eric Metaxas even stated that he didn’t need evidence that the election had been stolen; he knew that Trump had been re-elected, because God was on Trump’s side.

In reality, this was the diabolical deception: the complete confusion of spiritual and political loyalties; the rejection of reason and fact in favor of credulous belief in unproven and untested “prophesies” that amounted to little more than wish fulfillment fantasies rubberstamped with divine endorsement.

In the world of Trumpism, religious principles were rewritten to accommodate Trump, rather than Trump being measured according to religious principles. The mere fact that Trump openly used religious language and imagery and made overt gestures to a religious demographic was taken as a de facto triumph, indisputable evidence that the President was bringing the United States back to God, that his faith was sincere, that he was God’s instrument doing God’s work.

And if you doubted this, it was because you lacked faith.

The result was a weird, perverse form of Christian nationalism. As Russell Moore wrote this week:

The sight of “Jesus Saves” and “God Bless America” signs by those violently storming the Capitol is about more than just inconsistency. It is about a picture of Jesus Christ and of his gospel that is satanic. The mixing of the Christian religion with crazed and counter-biblical cults such as Q-Anon is telling the outside world that this is what the gospel is. That’s a lie, and it is blasphemous against a holy God.

Trump has not brought the country back to God. He and his grifter friends have infiltrated and perverted the Church, exploiting Christians’ spiritual loyalties to serve his personal ambitions, recreating the church in MAGA’s image, and luring us away from our core religious, ethical and political principles.

So yeah, I’m angry.

Escaping the cult

Right now, the tech companies are reacting to the riot with a massive crackdown on conservative viewpoints and personalities. This must be opposed fiercely. The monopoly of the tech giants is, hands down, the greatest threat to freedom right now.

However, I will say this: This was foreseeable. And it was preventable.

And it is this, above everything, that makes me angry.

I have said since the first day of Trump’s presidency, that the primary result of his presidency would be to foment a backlash from the left that would not only erase whatever conservative gains he pursued in the meantime, but would ensure that conservatives were ultimately far worse off than if he had never been president.

It is hard to deny that this is where we find ourselves now: Most of Trump’s accomplishments were accomplished through personnel changes or executive orders. All of this will be wiped out on the first day of the Biden administration. Meanwhile, MAGA has descended into a rat’s nest of violence, conspiracy theorizing, and cultish thinking, culminating in a horrific attack on the seat of democracy that has given the tech giants the excuse and public support they need to conduct a purge, silencing and marginalizing conservative voices. Meanwhile, the whole GOP is weakened by this internal civil war, the conservative movement divided and rendered ineffectual by ferocious disagreements over the personality who has dominated our every waking hour for the past five years.

The right’s response right now is to blame everything on the left. No doubt, the left bears a great deal of the blame. I can recite the litany of leftist crimes of the past four years as well as anybody else. But I have lost all patience with whataboutism. I have lost all patience with the mental habit of eschewing responsibility by responding to all criticism or internal self-doubt by reciting the litany of grievances against the left.

All we had to do, was stay true our principles: Truth matters. Character matters. Charity, decency, honesty, the rule of law, love for our enemies, humility, goodness – all of these matter.

Some conservatives have been asking me why I’m directing so much of my anger at “our side,” when the “other side” has done so many horrible things. The short answer? Because I’m not responsible for the other side. I can’t change them. I have no influence over them. I am not surprised when my enemies do things I disagree with. It doesn’t make me angry, because I never expected anything different.

But when my own side abandons its own principles willy-nilly, and then girds itself in the impregnable armour of puerile whataboutism (“Ok, so we did riot a little. But what about all those BLM riots over the summer, huh? Why didn’t the media get as angry about those!”), then I get angry.

As I wrote a few months ago:

Every day over the past four years, I’ve seen and heard things that have troubled me, things that did not jibe with anything that I’d been taught to value as a conservative, a Christian and a thinker – things that, if a Democrat president had done or said the same, I know with certitude would have provoked ferocious responses from the right.

I noted, for instance, that Trump had a distressingly tenuous relationship with truth; that he was often unaccountably cruel not only to his sworn enemies, but to anybody who questioned or criticized him; that he had an extraordinary inability to earn and to maintain trust and loyalty among his advisors, friends and family; that his White House was a dumpster fire, a sordid day-time soap opera, with a revolving door of advisors and officials, welcomed effusively one minute, and thrown under the bus (or in prison) the next, with a final kick on Twitter for good effect; that he seemed to be surrounded and supported by a cabal of common con-men, grifters and snake-oil salesmen; that he spent a bizarre amount of time in frivolous feuds on Twitter, hurling schoolyard insults, or obsessing over cable news; that his unscripted speeches and interviews were frequently garbled and nonsensical; that he often displayed a failure to grasp the details or nuances of complex situations.

None of this necessarily amounted to a deal breaker, of course, especially in light of the ways Trump was delivering on key promises to social conservatives, and especially given the alternative. Clearly, however, The Most Important Thing was to keep our wits about us, shrewdly distinguishing the pros from the cons, weighing them in the balance, and being careful…very, very careful about how we went about mixing our brand with that of America’s #1 Salesman.

Instead, however, I increasingly heard conservative and Christian figures either flat-out deny the troubling things that I saw, or spin them as net positives rather than negatives. In many cases, it’s as if the troubling things I saw had been passed through Calvin’s transmogrifier, with incompetence re-emerging as incomprehensible genius, self-inflicted political wounds as proof of the persecution of the deep state, impulsive social media posting as a form of 8-D political chess, and ego-driven brawling as righteous crusading.

At some point Trumpism went from a political movement, to a political cult. I want out. I want everybody I know and love and respect to get out. I want to get back to the time when Christians and conservatives knew what they stood for. When we didn’t bend over backward to defend the indefensible. When our heroes and allies weren’t a collection of swamp creatures. When we knew better than to give absolute loyalty to any man. When we knew that culture, and family, and faith mattered far more than politics. When we valued and recognized goodness, decency, loyalty, truth, kindness, integrity, courage. When we knew that character is destiny.

So yeah, I’m angry.

Published by John Jalsevac

I am a PhD student in philosophy.

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66 Comments

  1. The last three pieces I’ve seen of yours have been spot-on.
    Thank you so much for putting into words (pointedly and also elegantly) exactly how I feel (and have felt) since day one. This whole thing is so, SO infuriating.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The author is far closer to the truth, and therefore the Gospel, than the MAGA, certainly, and many others. But he seems cowed, somewhat by the MAGA. Afraid to state that Trump lost this election, and that there has been no evidence presented to the courts to suggest otherwise. Why is that, pray tell?

      Also, the author either confuses conservatism with Christianity, or seems to think that they’re connected. Newsflash! Many aspects of conservatism are 180 degrees opposed to what Jesus taught!

      By following a purely progressive or conservative mindset, you will stray from the Sermon on the Mount and from the Epistles. You cannot find the truth in either party. Not fully.

      Focus on the truth, not on any political party. You can find some aspects of truth within science, within adherents of both parties, and in your fellow man, including unbelievers. You can find truth by applying reason, instead of running from it. Our Lord did not shun Thomas, but instead showed him His hands and side. So use logic and reason, and find evidence for your faith, or else (if it fails that test) reject it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. (((face palm))) What was this guy’s name again? Father Drama Queen?? A Democratic MODERATE wins the 2020 election, and somehow that means he is responsible for not doing enough to prevent “the wolves of this evil totalitarian regime from entering the gates and devouring the flock”…….. Seriously?? “Evil totalitarian regime”? Talk about ‘pearl-clutching’!! LOL

        Like

  2. Thank you so much for this piece. You’ve eloquently stated all the thoughts that have been making me question what happened to so many people around me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. John,

    As a college friend of your brother Paul, I was very interested in your take. Well put, well said, and thank you for having the testicular fortitude to cross the mob.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Conservative evangelicals embraced Trump when they thought it would alugn them with power. Power is the false god they worship. Their words ring a bit hollow now.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I found this piece through a friend, and I was so glad to see it. As a fellow devout, pro-life Catholic, I can’t believe what I’ve been seeing for the past four years, and this year especially. Thank you for putting so many of my thoughts into words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pence smiled, nodded and supported every lie and cruel order that came from Trump’s mouth. That’s what Pence did, so that he could get his judges and further his own lies about Christianity being on the precipice of extinction because some people say “Happy Holidays.”

      Like

  6. Conservatives loved Trump when they thought it would further their agenda. They didn’t care about the Trump flags that said “F$&! YOUR FEELINGS” all over my little town. All they cared about was keeping power. They didn’t even care that Trump said “take the guns first, worry about due process later”. Or that he cheated on all his wives. Or that he mocked a disabled person. Or that he called my fellow soldiers losers and suckers and even teased John Mccain for getting captured in combat.

    Pence knew what kind of man Trump was. He should’ve declined the offer to run with him and exposed him for what he is.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. John,
    I appreciate your thoughtfulness in this article and just a differing opinion. However, I think the truth is somewhere between you and the Ever – Trumpers. The vast majority of the Trumpers have been peaceful. How can you view the small set people who “stormed” the Capitol as where the whole movement has gone when there were huge numbers of people there. They are a fraction of a fraction of a fraction- that is Fauci math!
    At some point the people of God do need to finally stand up to the other side and stop being pacifists saying “Oh well, I’ll just keep praying and doing nothing.” At least they showed up in DC while we still have freedom of speech and assembly. It doesn’t sound like you were there.

    I also think it is important to point out the hypocrisy of the Left, though not as an excuse for bad behavior of the Right.

    Finally, there was election fraud. The total amount we will never know but it was definitely not “free and fair”. Even with only one College Statistics class 25 years ago, on election night with the numbers MSM was putting out I could see them stealing the election. It is “Just” to investigate.

    With the continued erosion of conservative values over the last generation it feels like your article is asking for Christians to still take it up the tail pipe and not to protest. Have you forgotten that evil triumphs when Good men do nothing?

    Like

    1. >Finally, there was election fraud. The total amount we will never know but it was definitely not “free and fair”. Even with only one College Statistics class 25 years ago, on election night with the numbers MSM was putting out I could see them stealing the election. It is “Just” to investigate.

      We did investigate. We investigated for two months. Trump had two months and the best experts 300 million dollars could buy (to say nothing of the FBI and the DOJ) to definitively prove fraud. There were investigations, court cases, recounts, audits.

      Do not BULLSHIT people by pretending there was no investigation. There was an obscene amount of investigation. The only reason to say there wasn’t one is if you’ve already decided what should have been found.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. This was a great response and I very much appreciate this article and John’s honest search for truth and integrity.
      I think it’s important to note that most of us don’t have countless hours (or even any at all!) to try and wade through the information and try to discern what is true and false. This is the era of endless information which has resulted in basically no information at all. Huge problem.
      The Trump supporters that I know (can’t even count them all) are thoughtful individuals with great faith and morals not careless followers of a cult. The extremes just always seem to have the loudest voices.

      These are times of great confusion, and overall, John, I think you did an excellent of articulating what many of us feel.

      Like

    3. I fully agree, the truth is closer to the middle.
      I thinks it’s great John is able to take a step back from the group think of many conservatives. I have had many of these questions myself. However it’s easy to let the pendulum swing too far. And that goes for both “sides”

      Like

    4. Totally agree with your view point. Would like to see him write an article and the riots in Minneapolis and Portland, please remind me, how the Democratic’s responses. The there was the “Russian Collusion investigation”. Perhaps, we spend the same amount of resources and time, to double check the election.

      Like

    5. What about the giant lie Trump told his supporters about Mike Pence being able to undue certified state election results? (certified after numerous investigations, recounts, audits, and court cases in mostly conservative judges’ courtrooms) You don’t need any college classes to know that is not and can not be true. Also, i’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the White House staff or who has now resigned who said she knew there was no fraud because the results exactly tracked the campaigns internal polling. That isn’t hard evidence, but it is an indication that Trump’s disbelief in the election result was faked all along.

      Like

    6. Thank you.
      What people want us to ignore is the alternative to Trump who, btw, I do not “worship” or even particularly like. His “Tweets” and things he says horrify me; nevertheless, I have voted twice for him.
      I was a Democrat before I was a Republican. Now I am neither. Both parties are corrupt to the core but I’ll say this, if the Dems could have scrounged around and found a JFK or a Daniel Patrick Moynihan or a Truman, I would have voted for a Democrat over Trump
      On the other hand, we have the nauseating likes of the party of HRC, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Schumer, Schiff, et al.
      Most Americans prefer fairness and pull for the underdog. For the past 4 years, the Democrats and the media and press went after Trump like a pack of jackals.
      We could not turn on any network without orchestrated, full-on attacks against the man. They attacked in unison as if they had gotten together daily and come up with their script. They never gave Trump a chance and they never covered anything he did in a positive light.
      Joe Biden is ridiculous. He has done nothing for nearly 50 years in office except enrich himself and his family.
      Someone sent this to me and I’ll repost it here. Just consider it as I have considered John’s piece.

      “Remember in 2011 when tens of thousands of Democrats surged on the Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison and physically occupied it for more than two weeks? We were told, “This is what democracy looks like.”
      Remember in 2016 when Obama was President and hundreds of BLM blocked interstate highways and violently accosted police (even killing several)? We were told, “To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible.”
      Remember in 2018 during the Kavanaugh hearings when a mob of Democrats stormed the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, and pounded their fists in rage on the door. We were told, “It’s understandable.”
      Remember this summer’s riots in major cities across the country when groups of Democrats marched in the streets, set buildings on fire, looted businesses, assaulted and even killed bystanders and police? We were told, “These are mostly peaceful protests.”
      Remember when Democrats seized several blocks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in downtown Seattle, declaring it an autonomous zone? Remember the guns and deaths and utter destruction? We were told, “It’s a block party atmosphere.”
      Remember when a crazed mob gathered after the Republican National Convention and attacked Rand Paul, a sitting U.S. Senator? We were told, “No justice, no peace.”
      Remember how police were told to stand down, governors refused to call in the national guard, and Democrats paid bail for violent protesters who were arrested? We were told, “This is the only way oppressed people can be heard.”
      I have condemned violent protests and lawlessness every single time they’ve been reported. I condemn the actions of those who stormed the Capitol. But I refuse to condemn hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors because a handful (52 arrested) chose to be lawless and to defy everything the vast majority of the crowd stood for. Conservatives are defenders of the Constitution, the police, and the rule of law. Because a relative few people decided to do something stupid doesn’t nullify the concerns of the many.
      The real culprit here? The mainstream media has been telling us for years that violence is the only way people who feel oppressed can be heard, it’s the only way to get justice, and this is what democracy looks like. Apparently, a few who were in the crowd on Wednesday listened to them.
      The inflammatory rhetoric of the Left caused this, and it’s about time Democrats and the mainstream media took responsibility for dividing Americans and attempting to humiliate those who support the President or any conservative ideals. They have pushed people to the brink, even while claiming, “It’s time for unity.” It’s time for careful reflection and change on all sides. God help us!

      Like

  8. *Russell Moore
    Good piece. A little lengthy and likely could’ve spared the Roger Stone grotesque quote, but fantastic points. I, too, as a journalist-turned-teacher, try to point out social media falsehoods, not just about politics but about *any* story that had no basis in fact, and the Christian response is shocking. Who moreso than Christians should be pursuing the truth? NO ONE!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Most mysterious thing is what mankind does to itself for reasons difficult to understand. So you are angry, that is you right and we have only your word to take on some of this, BUT there is anger by those that see things in a different light, and they have a right too. Elaborate explanations are not always the truth.

    Like

    1. And the man who stoked that anger on falsehoods and disproved lies has a lot to answer for, as do the senators and representatives who fed it through impossible gambits. Those people were played for fools and conned out of their money by unscrupulous politicians, and they still refuse to admit it.

      Like

  10. Thank you so much for writing this. I disagreed with very little and it’s so good to hear from someone who is sane.

    Like

  11. Yes. YES. I feel like the past four years have been a haze of fury every time politics has come up. I’ve been struck with disbelief, with shame, and with a feeling of having the world cut out from under me. I don’t recognize my friends or even my family anymore sometimes. And this past week the level of denial has been impossible to believe. Thank you for this.

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  12. Great piece and well-written, too. (It’s always nice when you get a twofer like this.) And as someone who has been a staunch supporter of his policies–if not the man–your commentary was extremely thought-provoking as well. There is little question that as a nation we have gone down a very strange, twisty-turning rabbit hole and emerged into a dark and troubling wonderland. Thanks for clearing away some of the fog. Grace to you my friend. And please, don’t pull back from the battle. We need men like you with your gifts and worldview.

    Like

  13. I don’t usually post anything political, but I did share this with an added comment of my own. It is refreshing to hear a voice speaking the things I’ve been thinking all along. No, I’m not angry, but I am disappointed at how few voices of reason and integrity are to be heard these days.

    Like

    1. Saw your name “Winsor”. I have just done a genealogy on my great grandmother “Winsor’. What branch of Winsor’s would you be from? My family gave all the land to build Winsor Castle. I’m Steven Hammill at Mort13643@aol.com. Thank you, Respectfully, Steven Hammill

      Like

  14. If you voted for Trump in 2016, knowing who he was, then perhaps you need to take a good hard look at why you are not taking personal responsibility for that instead of blogging about how angry you are that he proved himself to be exactly who you knew him to be. Trump put on a performance of Christianity for your vote. Mike Pence steering the conservative Christian policy ship has nothing on a malignant narcissist sociopath hell bent on grift, favors for rich criminal friends, oppression of minorities, the poor and marginalized, and destruction of democracy in order to retain power at all costs. Was that really so hard to see in 2016?

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    1. Yes, exactly. And, judging from the content of the author’s linked article written “a few months ago”, it’s not just in “recent days” that the author has “lost his mind” and violated his principles of engaging with everyone with charity and avoiding the hint of an ad hominem.

      Like

  15. Your praise for Pence is misguided. He has enabled Trump at every turn. Also, those whom we have political disagreements are not our “enemies.” This is only adding to the problem. You speak of the “conservative agenda” as though it were biblical, where as one may have. “liberal agenda” and still be devoutly committed to Christ.

    Like

  16. So , yeah I’m angered too, for four years all we heard was Russian interference in our election , and a group of Democrats played a big part in a coupe to over through a sitting president with fraud and false impeachment, now all we hear is “ there is no way to rig an election “ What an insult to the intelligence of the public , and the sad part is , most are to stupid to know the difference . Insurrection
    Has been going on for four years , where the hell gave you been ?

    Like

  17. John, thank you for your comments! Many legit points in your column. Certainly one can understand the emotion that you display considering the shocking events of the past weeks.

    I am not convinced that we fight fire with fire. The anger of a handful of ever-Trump Q Anon crazies should be met with calm, yet firm determination. Think of Mother Teresa’s calm and peaceful approach, but her spine was of doctrinal and moral steel. A pastoral lamb and a doctrinal lion. In the realm of politics, think Ronald Reagan. Let’s try to emulate that approach, I think that is what God wants.

    The concerns that you have aired are thoughts must also be weighed against the fact that Trump has consistently appointed more pro-life judges and enacted more pro-life executive decisions than any other President in American history. As a constitutional conservative it is also noteworthy to me that he decreased more regulation and taxes than any other American president. We also have to be mindful that if President Trump chooses to run in 2024 he already has over 50% of very devoted Republican primary voters behind him. This means he will secure the nomination if he chooses to run. In that case, he will be your only viable option against Kamila Harris in 2024. If he decides not to run, whoever the Republican nominee is will surely need the Trump voters to have a chance over Harris.

    Cardinal Pell summed things up well in an interview two weeks ago, “Trump is a bit of a barbarian, but in some important ways, he is ‘our’ (Christian) barbarian.” During the virtual press conference, Pell said Christians have an obligation to bring their values to the public sphere and said Trump had made a “positive contribution” particularly with his three Supreme Court picks, two of whom are Catholic. Cardinal Pell also presciently warned of grave consequences of telling folks their election process is totally fraudulent.

    Love and Prayers,
    Bill McCoy

    Like

  18. Hi John,
    Thank you so much for your thoughtful blog post here. I’m so pleased to read this coming from a conservative Christian. I’m director of the Centre for the Study of Bible and Violence (csbvbristol.org.uk) at Bristol Baptist College, UK, an academic study centre studying and responding to the abuse of the Bible for purposes of violence. Would you consider allowing me to repost this on our blog (or, alternatively, writing something specially for us)? Please feel free to email me on paynterh@bristol-baptist.ac.uk

    Like

  19. Sincere thanks for your comments. I hadn’t read a more detailed denunciation of how conservatism derailed itself by following Trump. In the interest of healing the nation’s divisions I hope your epiphany becomes a common occurrence soon.

    Like

  20. Hi, I am neither an American nor a conservative, but I’d be very interested if you could answer a question please. Please be assured I have no intention of arguing or even disagreeing, I’m just interested to know.

    When you say “Trump was delivering on key promises to social conservatives”, what things did you have in mind?

    Thanks.

    Like

  21. Sir: as a left-leaning non-theist, we probably disagree on most of the hot-button culture-war issues that dominate the political discussions in our nation. So it should carry some weight when I say that I am honored to have read your brave and honest post. I am very heartened to hear a sane conservative voice crying out against the chaos and madness of Trumpism.

    Like

  22. Movements are never about facts. It’s about perception. “Hands up don’t shoot?” A Lie. Election Fraud? A Lie. No Taxation without Representation? A Lie. Repeat a lie enough and it become true.

    Like

    1. Hand’s up Don’t Shoot. Never happened. But it became a slogan to highlight the serious struggles the black population has with law enforcement. There must be police reforms. I am all for disarming the police. End no knock raids. End Police Brutality. End Police Unions. End most traffic violations. End Immunity.

      Like

      1. Hundreds of millions of great American citizens, every race & gender, go about their business every day with absolutely no adverse LEO encounters. That’s bc they respect and obey LEOs. A few lawbreaker’s don’t get away with it and you want to solve their problem by getting rid of the police and letting criminals loose to run roughshod over us? Criminals are the problem, not the solution. You know why Japan has such a low crime rate? Their police, prisons, and legal system is very tough on crime. We need to do likewise.

        Like

    2. Election Fraud? A lie in Trumps sense. Trump is a naive fool if he thinks only the Democrats cheated. There is no serious investigation because both sides cheat. Why would you want to call for an investigation when your side will be discovered as having cheated too? The US election system is rigged. The media chooses the candidates. They can choose not to poll you and therefore unable to qualify to debate. Ron Paul was cheated. Bernie Sanders was cheated. The game is Rigged. And if Trumps antics exposes this. Then THANK YOU TRUMP!

      Like

      1. I agree with much of what you write and laud your eloquence. What I stumble over is your careful hesitancy about whether the election was stolen. As a non-American, i can assure you that pretty much the entire world was shocked beyond the pale by the original election of Trump, let alone his re-election, because he was so manifestly unfit, ill-equipped, arrogant, derisive, cruel and bullying. The fact that a slight majority of Americans might have agreed, and therefore prevailed in their vote in 2020, comes as a relief to the rest of the world, in the sense that we feel America might not have lost its mind. The fact that you waver in the belief that this COULD HAVE HAPPENED, that the election result might not have been fraudulant, is completely disturbing.
        But, as they say, baby steps out of a cult.
        I wonder if you understand how stark the differences are to non-Americans, is all.

        Like

      2. Patricia, Thank you for the compliment. There is too much hatred and violence out there.

        I did not vote for Trump in 2016. I was shocked that Trump won, but also relieved. The Democrats claimed election fraud and were given a thorough investigation that went on for years. Only for Democrats to claim that this time its the most secure election ever. If you want to talk about election interference, the media played a big role. And who knows what foreign investors they have…

        I can’t say the election wasn’t stolen. I can’t say the election was. All I could say is that without election transparency, all elections should be questioned. The US meddles in elections all the time. People should not trust their government.

        The biggest conspiracy theory out there is to think the media is impartial and unbiased. The media hated Trump. A lot of what you claim about Trump is talking points from media. What made him unfit? The booming economy? The peace deals? The only president in decades to not drag us into another War, and while not hard enough, actively tried to bring troops home? Only to have his generals LIE to him about the actual amount of troops deployed? And Congress to push a bill limiting a president’s ability to end a war?

        The role of media is not to inform, but to influence. An attempt to control what you think, what you buy, who to vote for… A lot of how you view Trump may be framed from how the media reports on him. You’d be surprised to find out what the media calls offensive when you got to the source itself and find it to be totally overblown. If it wasn’t censored…

        Like

  23. As a Christian and someone who’s considered an “independent” in my state, thank you for putting to words what literally a silent majority of us have been thinking for 4 yrs. I never talk politics but I shared to my social media.

    Like

  24. I’m an (atheist-leaning) agnostic, and a leftist in the true sense of the term (hint: not synonymous with “liberal”), and I have one thing to say to you:

    Bravo.

    Seriously, that was eloquent, it was thoughtful, AND my punk rock soul LIKES that you’re angry!

    Obviously, I will disagree with one or two small pieces of your commentary (some of the last bits), and perhaps one or two parts of your code of ethics/morality in general, but that doesn’t matter. This very clearly distilled so many of the mind-boggling faults, delusions, lies, and overall *willful ignorance* of Trump and his supporters, and it put them in a context which I’m not used to seeing. So. Thank you.

    Like

  25. If you’re only angry now, you’ve missed the entire show….

    Evangelicals and catholics are allied with the GOP for one reason and one reason alone: the despicable Paul Weyrich needed to find a way to extend the GOP voting base in 1980 bc their platform had no appeal the the public at large, so he decided to focus on racist southern conservatives pissed off that their segregation academies had to pay taxes bc of their exclusionary practices. Openly declaring that protecting segregation academies’ tax-free status was a non-starter in the polls, so Weyrich, Dobson, Falwell et al settled on abortion (and a few other things – school prayer, another nonstarter, and anti-lgbtq rights) as a hot-button issue they could use to rile up the xian rubes.

    And so it goes; since then xians reflexively vote rethug, though the’ em not gotten any real long-term policy goals and have done much to tarnish their own public image.

    If you couldn’t see what trump was four years ago you were a fool, New Yorkers have known he’s a con man for three decades or more. Giving him the presidency just to get conservative judges whom xians hoped will overlook stare decisis on social issues was at best a Pyrrhic victory.

    Getting angry now is pointless, This situation came about bc evangelicals sold out to the GOP in search of an endgame that the GOP will never ever allow to happen,,,they need your votes that much.

    Like

  26. As a liberal, I thank you for writing this article . I’m a 50-something average suburban mom. I grew up in Ohio and went to college there . Post college I moved to DC metro area. I’m not a lawyer or legislator. I’m not a power broker — I had jobs in non -profits for organizations most people support . Here is the thing : for 30 years I have had friends from both sides of the aisle (so to speak ). They are my neighbors , co-workers, parents at my local school. Even with major differences on pro life /vs pro choice , taxes , health care , etc — we all lived in the same reality and facts. So we could be friends and still disagree. And even with our disagreements we had more things in common based on our set of morals . But sadly I have lost friends and family to Trumpism. I was not happy when Pres Trump was elected in 2016 (no shock). It wasn’t until Charlottesville march when I actively posted my opinions about Pres Trump and his antisemitic dog whistles. Nazis are good people??!!I could not find Trump supporters denouncing this. Fast forward to Jan 6, 2021 with Nazis (et al) wearing antisemitic messages and I didn’t not see any rage from my pro-Trump Ohio family . These are my cousins who have a Jewish father — yet replied with the “whataboutism” of the left. My heart just broke . My talking points to them : if these heinous people don’t represent the majority of MAGAs than why are you not denouncing them ? It’s up to you the MAGA majority to voice your disdain. Crickets. I have looked for conservatives voices to bring forth the discussion about the overt lies Pres Trump tells and how it is destroying our society — making the other the enemy. Again, thank you . ~R~ from FFX, VA

    Like

  27. It is always tough to come to terms with a leader who co-opted one’s ideology. Your angry is justified. Do you think Pence is the best candidate in 2024 or??

    Like

  28. What people want us to ignore is the alternative to Trump who, btw, I do not “worship” or even particularly like. His “Tweets” and things he says horrify me; nevertheless, I have voted twice for him.
    I was a Democrat before I was a Republican. Now I am neither. Both parties are corrupt to the core but I’ll say this, if the Dems could have scrounged around and found a JFK or a Daniel Patrick Moynihan or a Truman, I would have voted for a Democrat over Trump
    On the other hand, we have the nauseating likes of the party of HRC, Nancy Pelosi, AOC, Schumer, Schiff, et al.
    Most Americans prefer fairness and pull for the underdog. For the past 4 years, the Democrats and the media and press went after Trump like a pack of jackals.
    We could not turn on any network without orchestrated, full-on attacks against the man. They attacked in unison as if they had gotten together daily and come up with their script. They never gave Trump a chance and they never covered anything he did in a positive light.
    Joe Biden is ridiculous. He has done nothing for nearly 50 years in office except enrich himself and his family.
    Someone sent this to me and I’ll repost it here. Just consider it as I have considered John’s piece.

    “Remember in 2011 when tens of thousands of Democrats surged on the Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison and physically occupied it for more than two weeks? We were told, “This is what democracy looks like.”
    Remember in 2016 when Obama was President and hundreds of BLM blocked interstate highways and violently accosted police (even killing several)? We were told, “To assign the actions of one person to an entire movement is dangerous and irresponsible.”
    Remember in 2018 during the Kavanaugh hearings when a mob of Democrats stormed the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, and pounded their fists in rage on the door. We were told, “It’s understandable.”
    Remember this summer’s riots in major cities across the country when groups of Democrats marched in the streets, set buildings on fire, looted businesses, assaulted and even killed bystanders and police? We were told, “These are mostly peaceful protests.”
    Remember when Democrats seized several blocks of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in downtown Seattle, declaring it an autonomous zone? Remember the guns and deaths and utter destruction? We were told, “It’s a block party atmosphere.”
    Remember when a crazed mob gathered after the Republican National Convention and attacked Rand Paul, a sitting U.S. Senator? We were told, “No justice, no peace.”
    Remember how police were told to stand down, governors refused to call in the national guard, and Democrats paid bail for violent protesters who were arrested? We were told, “This is the only way oppressed people can be heard.”
    I have condemned violent protests and lawlessness every single time they’ve been reported. I condemn the actions of those who stormed the Capitol. But I refuse to condemn hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors because a handful (52 arrested) chose to be lawless and to defy everything the vast majority of the crowd stood for. Conservatives are defenders of the Constitution, the police, and the rule of law. Because a relative few people decided to do something stupid doesn’t nullify the concerns of the many.
    The real culprit here? The mainstream media has been telling us for years that violence is the only way people who feel oppressed can be heard, it’s the only way to get justice, and this is what democracy looks like. Apparently, a few who were in the crowd on Wednesday listened to them.
    The inflammatory rhetoric of the Left caused this, and it’s about time Democrats and the mainstream media took responsibility for dividing Americans and attempting to humiliate those who support the President or any conservative ideals. They have pushed people to the brink, even while claiming, “It’s time for unity.” It’s time for careful reflection and change on all sides. God help us!

    Like

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