American Diogenes

Published: April 1, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Lately, a few readers have asked why I spend so much time writing about Donald Trump. It can be summed up in one word.


Actually, Jon Stewart told us when he signed off for the final time on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show; a show that began seventeen years earlier as a comedy riff on the news of the day, and in its final years, shined a much needed light on the one condition that keeps showing up.

Bull$#@t is everywhere,” Stewart began.

“There is very little that you will encounter in life that has not been, in some ways, infused with bull$#@t. Not all of it bad.

“Your general, day-to-day, organic free-range bull$#@t is often necessary or at the very least, innocuous. ‘Oh, what a beautiful baby. I’m sure he’ll grow into that head.’ That kind of bull$#@t, in many ways, provides important social contract fertilizer and keeps people from making each other cry all day.

“But then there’s the more pernicious bull$#@t, your premeditated institutional bull$#@t designed to obscure and distract. Designed by whom? The bull$#@t talkers. Comes in three basic flavors. One, making bad things sound like good things: organic all-natural cupcakes, because ‘factory-made sugar oatmeal balls’ doesn’t sell. Patriot Act, because ‘Are You Scared Enough To Let Me Look At All Your Phone Records? Act’ doesn’t sell. So whenever something is titled ‘freedom, fairness, family, health, America,’ take a good long sniff. Chances are it’s been manufactured in a facility that may contain traces of bull$#@t.

“Number two… hiding the bad things under mountains of bull$#@t….  Simply put, banks shouldn’t be able to bet your pension money on red. Bull$#@t-ly put, it’s, this, Dodd-Frank. Hey, a handful of billionaires can’t buy our elections, right? Of course not! They can only pour unlimited anonymous cash into a 501(c)(4) if 50 percent is devoted to issue education, otherwise they’d have to 501(c)(6) it, or funnel it openly through a non-campaign coordinating Super PAC, with a quarter…’I think they’re asleep now. We can sneak out.’

“And finally, it’s the bull$#@t of infinite possibility. These bull$#@t-ers cover their unwillingness to act under the guise of unending inquiry. ‘We can’t do anything because we don’t yet know everything.’ We cannot take action on climate change until everyone in the world agrees gay marriage vaccines won’t cause our children to marry goats who are going to come for our guns.

“Now, the good news is this: Bull$#@t-ers have gotten pretty lazy, and their work is easily detected. And looking for it is kind of a pleasant way to pass the time. Like an ‘I Spy’ of bull$#@t.

“I say to you tonight, friends, the best defense against bull$#@t is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something.”

And that, class, is why I’ve been carping about Donald J. Trump.

Since June 16, 2015, the day Trump announced he was running, I’ve been smelling it, and despite what millions of “Trumpers” around the country say; no matter how many times they rationalize, justify, explain, excuse, and spin his contempt towards Latinos, Blacks, Muslims, Asians, Seventh-Day Adventists, women, POWs, the disabled, reporters, scientists, doctors, Iowans, Fox News, CNN, Univision, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, I.R.S., V.A., Neil Young (Neil Young!?), Rhonda Rousey, Republican consultant Frank Luntz, billionaire conservative Charles Koch (well, I agree with that one), Pope Francis, his rivals, his rival’s wife!, free-trade enthusiasts, NATO, the U.N., abortion-rights activists, abortion opponents… (click to see the full list)… it’s still… Bull$#@t.

Class dismissed.


  1. OK. “Due to popular reader request, and their unanimous understanding that pretty much everything political or powerful is BULL*HIT, I Jim Lichtman, being of sound mind and body, do solemnly swear that from now on ‘ETHICS STUPID’ will no longer touch that subject, since we all now know it is intrinsically Un-Ethical.” Take the pledge Jim. Return us now to those golden days of yesteryear… when out of the past came the thundering hoofbeats of stories about REAL ethical champions.

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