I had been surfing news channels all day to monitor the madness and in the evening I watched a recorded episode of the PBS history of the Vietnam war. And I said, "We've been here before."
The moment was just after a South Vietnamese provincial official said his country was in trouble because the nation's leaders were incompetent and the government was corrupt.
Then we had the "60 Minutes" story on the role of Congress in throwing the doors open for Big Pharma to make a killing (pun acknowledged) in the sale of opioids at a rate that has crippled our culture.
America is a nation corrupted; just about everyone is complicit.
Corruption. It begins with a shrug when someone should have said, "Wait a minute, that's not right."
It can be as simple as a teen passing too much change back to a friend at the checkout in a store. A favor extended by someone with the intent of cashing in on it later.
Or helping yourself to the change cup in the office coffee club. Free game tickets or airplane rides, watches, weekends at a resort for a politician.
We have a president who boasted about his LA golf club donating $5 million to a variety of charitable causes. An NPR reporter does some rudimentary follow-up and finds that the real "charity" amounts to about $800,000, and much of that is in-kind stuff, like coupons for a free round of golf. Or perhaps the crafty designation of the grass on the driving range as a contribution worth millions if you write it off your tax bill as open space for the benefit of the entire community.
Smart business, lousy charity.
We rationalize. Go along to get along. If you don't do it, you'll be left out. Everybody does it, so it's justified. And it is true that it's nothing new. It just seems to be getting worse.
Recently, Sinclair Broadcast Group, which has strong ties with Fox parent company News Corporation, was exposed as requiring "local" news stations across the country to run the same right-wing political commentary called "must runs" — corporate policy camouflaged as local editorial comment as part of its local newscast.
I walked away from a perfectly fine paycheck at the News American because that was what Hearst companies had done for a hundred years. What bothered me most was that so many of my fellow editors accepted the pressures as the cost of having a job. You can have that kind of a job.
Major news corporations do things they criticize government or politicians for doing.
The abuses of powers are multiplied as big chains of anything — merchants, banks, car makers, news media corporations, sports teams — expand and gobble up other companies, larger competitors or small local ones in so-called mergers.
You hear, "Grow or die!" You almost never hear, "Get better, not bigger."
You hear about raising revenues by increasing sales and cutting costs, but when do you see a company concentrate on improving quality in production and customer service?
When was the last time you replaced something and said, "Gee, this one is sturdier and better made than the last one."
If you believe any political rhetoric about some action being good for jobs, you are not paying attention to the reality that the first cuts businesses make are in jobs; doing more with less people.
Politicians are deflecting the attention of the masses by tossing buzzwords at us to appeal to simplistic values that are little more than slogans. Words like patriotism, job-killing or job-creating make America great again.
To do that, we have to begin with making some great Americans. We can all do better, think better.
Think more, for starters. And call out the lies of the snake oil sellers instead of electing them and then making excuses for their behavior.
Dean Minnich writes from Westminster.