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My country celebrates its 241st birthday today. I don't know many people, however, who are in a celebratory mood. As nations go, we seem to be going, though we're still a fairly young country. It's hard, however, to escape the sense that we've taken a nosedive into deepest darkness, betraying all that could be considered good in us while elevating the very worst people and ideas to power, people and ideas that seem ever more ruthless, misguided, fascistic, inequitable, nasty, mean, and unstoppable.

trump fourth

It's hard to escape the sense that we've taken a nosedive into deepest darkness, betraying all that could be considered good in us while elevating the very worst people and ideas to power.

The words of William Butler Yeats fit the zeitgeist: "The best lack all conviction while the worst are filled with passionate intensity." Polls show overwhelming disapproval of nearly all the current madness of our wrecking ball of a president.

Despite that fact, the number one "non-fiction" book on The New York Times best seller list is Understanding Trump, by Newt Gingrich, a tome in which one swine explains another swine to an audience of pigs, most of whom aren't at or anywhere near the trough.

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Bill O'Reilly's current ghost-written mauling of our national history also ranks in the top ten list of books America is reading, yet another volume written for people who mostly don't read books, but dependably purchase this sludge from the right because it is so actively promoted on Fox, on alt. media, and on right wing talk radio from coast to coast.

A friend wrote me on Facebook on Saturday, lamenting how she once loved the 4th of July holiday, but now only feels a grievous sense of loss. She says her memories of red, white, and blue bunting no longer seem appropriate to the occasion. Now she thinks black crepe would be more fitting for a country so bent on destroying itself from within, so wedded to ignorance, greed, venality, misogyny, racism, and ugliness.

Black crepe would seem to be in order as we watch everything that has the potential for being good in this country being snuffed out by everything that isn't. The lights are being dimmed in America, and if you can eat your hot dogs, drink your bear, and watch the fireworks, all without an accompanying sense of grief, then you're a more hopeful American than I am at this fateful time in the nation's history.

jaime oneill

The United States of America: May she not rest until she is at peace with the better angels of her nature.

Jaime O'Neill