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8. I have done my best to reflect American culture [or its lack], and have found it impossible to do so when I am out of the country for extended periods. Its culture [or lack] doesn’t penetrate very far into foreign lands, and it is impossible to really reflect the country’s culture when one is not steeped in the Modern American Zeitgeist.

6. Our democracy has been replaced by a plutocracy (government by the wealthy). The rich keep making more rules to make themselves richer, they get the U.S. involved in foreign wars through false flag operations (Nayirah testimony, Saddam’s WMDs) and the like (Timber Sycamore) because war is profitable and, to pay for the wars thereby lining their own pockets, education is cut, help for poor people is cut, millions are thrown off health care, and virtually everything that can be termed ‘humanitarian’ vanishes. The wage gap keeps growing wider and wider, to unprecedented widths, through such devices as the recently-passed Tax Bill (Ayn-Rand-asshole Paul Ryan’s raison d’être), and the poor and middle class suffer.

5. It’s obvious we don’t have a democracy because the laws never seem to reflect the will of the people, most of who want sensible gun laws, environmental regulations (see Flint, Michigan), campaign finance reform (Citizens United), DACA, net neutrality, enough control over the banks so the country doesn’t have another fiscal meltdown, healthcare that doesn’t bankrupt families, a livable wage, etc., etc.

4. The two-party system is really a one-party system now, each party bowing down to their corporate overlords, and the Democrats would rather see a Republican win than a Liberal or Socialist like Bernie Sanders, while the deck is increasingly stacked against ever creating a third party. The consolidation of media companies means less and less voices, the wealth of the media companies means no dissenting voices (a successful teachers’ strike will get virtually no media coverage because it might give other teachers ideas or, God forbid, encourage unionization), and the spread of the likes of Sinclair Broadcast Group makes sure the talking-point lies make it down to the grass-roots level. Comics like Bill Maher and Stephen Colbert do a great job poking fun at individuals like Trump, but they never really challenge the underlying system, which is diseased at its core.

3. I’ve spent the last 20 years working in education (at Temple University’s Center on Innovations in Learning) and education has become a joke, with Betsy DeVos appointed Secretary of Education, schools crumbling, and students daily facing the possibility of getting shot. Teachers are paid a pitiful salary, some working three jobs and selling blood, and when they try to strike, their opponents get talking points to discredit them from the State Policy Network, funded by the Koch brothers and the Walton Family Foundation. And if a school can’t afford supplies and a teacher decides to step up and buy their students paper and pencils, the teachers used to be able to take a tax deduction — but not under the new Tax Bill, which now lets the One Percenters deduct expenses for their private jets. But then, if you can keep the electorate stupid, they’re easier to lie to and easier to steal from.

2. Trump isn’t the disease; he’s just a symptom. People say he isn’t effective because the Tax Reform Bill is his only accomplishment, but through executive orders gutting environmental regulations and every good thing Obama ever did, horrendous judicial appointees whose effects will be felt for decades, and the appointment of incompetent department heads who were chosen because they loathe what their department does (causing their departments to slowly implode, as their best minds and long-time employees resign in frustration), Trump has actually accomplished quite a lot. Ever since that pathologically-lying unfaithful narcissistic asshat got elected and threw America’s (and the environment’s) deterioration into overdrive, I can’t stand it anymore, so I applied for, and was granted, political asylum by the British Government.

1. By the time this Top Ten drops, I will be living an ocean away, no longer immersed in this toxic Zeitgeist. I wish you all well, I hope Great Britain doesn’t follow America’s lead, and I will miss many of the people in America, including loyal readers, and especially Scott Stein, who I thank for the opportunity for a little spleen venting. I may return if the country can turn itself around — and that’s the biggest ‘if’ since Rudyard Kipling started projecting the titles of his poems onto the night sky over Gotham City.

“We are the Easter people,” Pastor Jim Miles of First Prez-Fort Stockton would remind us, and not just in the days leading up to Easter, but throughout the year. And that is what we affirm tomorrow, the day for which we have been preparing over the past six weeks, the day for which we live – or at least try to live – at all times.

Big day tomorrow, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ … big day … THE day, really. But I find myself wondering what it was like the day before The Day … what was it like during those long hours that passed between Christ’s crucifixion and his resurrection? I can’t help but think it’s easier for us, two-thousand years later, with the benefit of hindsight, with the Word in our hands, our minds, our hearts. But back then … right then, right there? What was it like for the followers of Jesus on THAT very first day before The Day?

I’ve always felt a little sorry for Peter, one of the first (and perhaps the greatest) of Jesus’ disciples. How many times have I listened to some discussion in Sunday school that included talking some smack about Peter and his shortcomings … it’s especially pronounced now, as we are reminded for the umpteenth time of his denial of Jesus outside the house where Christ was being held. What must it have been like – that day before The Day – for Peter?