Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Great essay: CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT MUST BE LIKE TO BE DONALD TRUMP?

http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/ed-simon/77825/can-you-imagine-what-it-must-be-like-to-be-donald-trump

EXCERPT:  Trump's world, as deftly if salaciously recounted in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury, is a petty, small, miserable, anxious, angry one. Images of the bathrobe clad leader of the free world madly pawing at his phone with KFC greased fingers. Who among you would actually want to be Donald Trump? What emerges is a portrait of one who has accumulated everything he wants, even the presidency, and yet who does nothing to enrich or empower the citizens whom he ostensibly governs on the behalf of, preferring to enact revenge on his perceived enemies. Of a man so limited and incurious, so incapable of any fraternal, romantic, or loving connection with another human being (seeing all relationships as simply transactional) that he is seemingly incapable of genuine laughter, being only partial to the sneer. Laughter, such a basic human response, which the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda said was the "language of the soul." What Charles Dickens or even Christopher Marlowe could have made of a spirit as ugly as Trump's!
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Robert Reich perfectly explains how and why Trump as President came about

The mid-term elections in November give us all the chance to turn around the direction of our democratic republic, which now has all the trappings of an oligarchy. Discerning voters of both parties must unite as one voice to protect our country and the vision of freedom and equality expressed by the founders in our Constitution (but not always practiced by those founders and the leaders who followed them).  Finally, we have reached the moment in American history of life-or-death decision.  We must speak truth and Walk the Talk of all we claim to stand for -- or lose our democracy.

Robert Reich perfectly explains how wealth inequality erodes public trust — and put Trump in White House

Travis Gettys

21 FEB 2018 AT 09:16 ET                   

Robert Reich said the loss of trust in democratic institutions is directly related to wealth inequality — and the rise of Donald Trump.

The University of California at Berkeley professor and former secretary of labor appeared Wednesday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," where he said public trust has eroded across western democracies as wealth grows increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few.

"When you get a certain degree of income inequality and wealth inequality, a lot of people feel with justification that the game is rigged against them," Reich said. "What we saw, whether it's Brexit or we saw in this country in terms of 2016 with the emergence on the right of Donald Trump and left of Bernie Sanders, there is in America still today and certainly in Europe and around much of the globe, a sense that what might be called the governing class, the people who are in charge, really have failed the rest of the population, that our democracies are overrun by money and rigged it for themselves."

Reich said Trump was a symptom of this erosion, and not the cause, although he placed some blame for his election win on Hillary Clinton, whose husband he served as a cabinet official in the 1990s.

"I think that Hillary Clinton was not the best candidate, (and) in many respects she was a terrible candidate," Reich said. "But also Donald Trump is, I think he is not the cause, he's the consequence of this multiyear, many-decade decline in a sense of common good. I mean, the Constitution was created for we the people and coming together to form more perfect union, not for I the selfish jerk trying to make as much money and power as possible."



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Sunday, February 18, 2018

This essay should be read by every Trump voter

Trump supporters don't realize how their lives are being impacted by their decision to vote for and continue their support of Trump.  Never mind how close we are to nuclear war with North Korea because we have a narcissist with an itchy trigger finger for a President. Never mind that he is a sexual predator who is unfaithful to his wife. Never mind that he defends Russia against his own country.  What the Trump voters will most mind is when their benefits are taken away.  Say goodbye to Social Security -- it's on Trump's and Paul Ryan's list to be stripped and eventually done away with. Same with Medicare.  Trump has already started taking away rights of the disabled. He and his oh-so-willing GOP Congress are dismantling every good thing that has been accomplished in previous administrations to help "We, the People" of these United States.

EXCERPT:  If Trump and his friends ever got their way and this nightmare document became law, Social Security Block Grants would be eliminated. More than $300 billion would be cut from Medicaid. A combined $423 billion would be cut from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Disability programs would be cut by $72 billion. In total, the document details $1.7 trillion in cuts to social services and the safety net.

Funny, that. The gigantic tax cut they just passed cost $1.5 trillion, with most of it going to rich people and massive corporations. Trump's FY2019 budget pays for that in total on the backs of children, poor people, the elderly and the disabled, with a couple hundred billion left over for the Pentagon, which didn't ask for it and doesn't need it.

More than 40 million people depend on SNAP benefits, most of them children. More than 4 million more depend on TANF, most of them children. Trump's solution? A Blue Apron-style "American Harvest Box" containing little to no nutritional value and no choice involved. You don't get to pick what you eat, they tell you what you're eating. 



Trump's $4.4 Trillion Butcher's Bill

by William Rivers Pitt | February 18, 2018 - 6:40am

— from Truthout

"The test of a first-rate intelligence," said F. Scott Fitzgerald, "is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." I like to think I'm a decently smart guy, but I may just be fooling myself if ol' Fitz has it right, because I am absolutely up against the ragged edge of that premise.

I believe, in the main, that people are inherently good and will do the right thing when called upon, and I have ample examples to buttress that belief. I also believe this country is a thresher of souls, an abattoir of feral greed where no low is too low if cash or status is on the line, and I have ample examples of this, as well. Both ideas are true, and are true at the same time, clanging together in my head like kitchen pots in an earthquake. Reconciling them -- hell, even coexisting with them -- has begun to hedge the impossible.

We live in an age of elaborate cruelty. It is a new experience for some and a terrible old story for others: Fate has teeth these days. You don't just get sick; your tap water gives you cancer from the coal slurry in the river and then the utility company jacks up your rates. You don't just get screwed; you wither like a drought vine because the insurance company won't cover the treatment you need to survive. You don't just die; you get shot in your own algebra class, and before the echo fades, the president of the United States scolds the country about how it all could have been avoided without ever once mentioning guns.

Why? Money. Filthy lucre. The loot.

The tap water made you sick because the local chemical companies that won't let you unionize poisoned the river to maximize profits, because their well-funded friends in Washington obliterated environmental protections to help them wring a few more coppers out of the tired, stinking ground.

The insurance company screwed you because health care in the US is a multibillion-dollar for-profit industry, and healing you dings its bottom line a microfraction of a percent. Some insurance companies don't even bother to look at your medical records before showing you the door.

You got shot in school -- the 29th mass shooting in 45 days of 2018 and the 239th school shooting since the massacre at Sandy Hook -- because the National Rifle Association has its financial fangs buried deep in the necks of virtually every Republican and far too many Democrats in Congress. When Donald Trump failed to mention guns after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, this week, it wasn't an oversight. He was following orders.

Money.

The grinding cruelty that is our daily meat and mead was crystallized in a document put forth on Monday by the White House. Trump and his people called it a budget plan, but in reality, it was a $4.4 trillion butcher's bill, a wish list of all the malice and greed at the necrotic heart of the modern Republican experience.

Under normal circumstances, no one takes these documents seriously in any real legislative sense; like the presidential platform, they are declarations of intent filled mostly with DOA intentions. However, these are not normal circumstances, and Trump's budget proposal is a fearsome glimpse into the minds of some genuinely dangerous people. It is a call for acts of brutality against fellow citizens that are breathtaking. A few of them, if inflicted upon a foreign country, might be considered war crimes.

Here, it's just business.

If Trump and his friends ever got their way and this nightmare document became law, Social Security Block Grants would be eliminated. More than $300 billion would be cut from Medicaid. A combined $423 billion would be cut from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Disability programs would be cut by $72 billion. In total, the document details $1.7 trillion in cuts to social services and the safety net.

Funny, that. The gigantic tax cut they just passed cost $1.5 trillion, with most of it going to rich people and massive corporations. Trump's FY2019 budget pays for that in total on the backs of children, poor people, the elderly and the disabled, with a couple hundred billion left over for the Pentagon, which didn't ask for it and doesn't need it.

More than 40 million people depend on SNAP benefits, most of them children. More than 4 million more depend on TANF, most of them children. Trump's solution? A Blue Apron-style "American Harvest Box" containing little to no nutritional value and no choice involved. You don't get to pick what you eat, they tell you what you're eating. According to CNN:

To start, nothing in the box is actually recently harvested -- the proposal includes zero fresh fruits and vegetables and no fresh meat, fish, or poultry. Instead, the "homegrown" food the poor would get in their box would include processed cereals and canned sodium-saturated goods.

And unlike Blue Apron, where consumers get to choose their meals, the Trump plan would simply send poor people a sad box of bland, repetitive basics. Currently, SNAP benefits are loaded onto a card, and recipients can decide for themselves what to purchase. Now, the government would do much of the deciding.

Let's recall here that Michelle Obama couldn't even promote healthier school lunches without right-wing outcry about the nanny state; when Trump literally wants the government to select, box up and deliver food of questionable nutrition for the poor, we hear agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue praising the plan as "a bold, innovative approach."

Elaborate, truly theatrical cruelty: Something this vicious should come with its own string section. Except it's not real, right? They can't possibly pass something like this, can they? Maybe not, but they are sure as hell going to try for some of it at least. They run the entire federal government, and they're beginning to figure that out … and in the end, it's all about the loot.

People are good, and all this is happening. Two opposing thoughts in all our heads at the same time.

We seem to have lost our ability to function amid all this winning. Thoughts and prayers don't appear to be getting the job done. How bad does it have to get? I don't see the bottom yet, but I see an awful lot of bodies piled up along the way down.



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ABOUT AUTHORWilliam Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know and The Greatest Sedition Is Silence. His newest book, House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation, will be available this winter from PoliPointPress.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Prescient words spoken in 1935 and 1938 have become an accomplished truth today

In a quote by someone unknown but often and erroneously attributed to Sinclair Lewis, the words strike into our heart as an accomplished truth in the present day: "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and waving a cross."  

And so it has come to pass.  Other similar words of warning were spoken in the 1930s and ring with complete relevance today:  

"It is a peculiarity of the development of American fascism that at the present stage it comes forward principally in the guise of an opposition to fascism, which it accuses of being an "un-American" trend imported from abroad." – Georgi Dimitrov, in his report delivered at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935.

"When and if fascism comes to America it will not be labeled 'made in Germany'; it will not be marked with a swastika; it will not even be called fascism; it will be called, of course, 'Americanism'" – An uncredited New York Times reporter covering Halford E. Luccock in an article published September 12, 1938.

Fascism


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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Thoughtful essay explaining why conservatives still support Trump

3 Reasons Why So Many People Still Support Trump
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by Paul Buchheit | February 6, 2018

It's incomprehensible to many of us that people could support a president who, in Bernie Sanders' words, "is compulsively dishonest, who is a bully, who actively represents the interests of the billionaire class, who is anti-science, and who is trying to divide us up based on the color of our skin, our nation of origin, our religion, our gender, or our sexual orientation."

Based on various trusted sources and a dab of cognitive science, it's fair to conclude that there are three main reasons for this unlikely phenomenon.

1. Trump's Followers Believe They're Better Than Other People

Nationalism, exceptionalism, narcissism, racism. They're all part of the big picture, although it's unfair to simply dismiss Trump people as ignorant racists. Many of them are well-educated and wealthy. But well-to-do individuals tend to feel entitledsuperioruninterested in the people 'beneath' them, and less willing to support the needs of society. Thus many wealthy white Americans are just fine with Trump's disdain for the general population.

Poorer whites also feel superior, in the sense that they're reluctant to give up their long-time self-assigned position at the top of the racial hierarchy.

Trump and the Republicans don't seem to care at all about poor people, especially people of color. It's nearly beyond belief that they'd allow a father to be torn awayfrom his family after living in the U.S. for 30 years; that they'd allow tens of thousands of Americans to sleep outside in subzero weather; or that they'd ignore the women and children being blown up by our bombs in Yemen.

2. They're Driven by Hatred for Their Perceived Enemies

According to an ancient proverb, "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." For many besieged Americans, the friend is Donald Trump, the enemy of his followers' enemies, based on his belligerent put-downs of so many target groups that have been recklessly blamed for America's problems. He's been against a 'lying' media, 'job-stealing' immigrants, 'business-stifling' environmentalists, 'elites' like Hillary Clinton who are thought to look down on struggling middle-class whites, and the LGBTQ community and pro-abortion groups, who threaten the religious right's'traditional' values to a point they consider much worse than Trump's moral depravity.

Their greatest enemy may be the traditional politician, who has allowed the middle class to falter. Trump is unconventional, different from anyone before him. As long as their president is disrupting the status quo, change is happening, and any change, his supporters believe, is likely to defeat one or more of their enemies.

3. They Refuse to Admit They Were Wrong

In fact, the more they're proven wrong the stronger their resolve. This is called cognitive dissonance. It's common for conservatives to construct their personal beliefs on a moral basis, to adhere to them in the face of any controversy, and if necessary to reshape the evidence to fit these beliefs. Many conservatives continue to fall for Trump's hyperbole about a 'booming' economy and new jobs and better times to come.

Conservatives even tend to believe that inequality is part of the natural order, and that any attempt to change it is senseless. Cognitive dissonance kicks in for them when they are confronted with the overwhelming evidence for a collapsing middle class. Rather than re-evaluating their beliefs, they go to the other extreme and defend the widening fracture in U.S. society as a natural consequence of an imagined meritocracy. Incredibly, according to one poll, in 2014 only 5 percent of the U.S. population believed that the government should be addressing inequality.

So Now What?

In his rebuttal to Donald Trump's State of the Union address, Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) said, "This administration isn't just targeting the laws that protect us — they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection."

..that we are all worthy of protection. That will only happen with a progressive candidate who believes that a strong society makes successful individuals, not the other way around.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License



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ABOUT AUTHORPaul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.orgPayUpNow.orgRappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.
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Monday, February 05, 2018

Loss of Our Democracy: The Terrible Price Our Nation Is Paying with Trump's Tyrannical Rule

Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy....The Republican Party used to stand for fiscal responsibility, state's rights, free trade, and a hard line against Russian aggression. Now it just stands for Trump.

Trump's Divide-and-Conquer Strategy
by Robert Reich | February 5, 2018 - 7:30am

– from Robert Reich's Blog

If Robert Mueller finds that Trump colluded with Russia to fix the 2016 election, or even if Trump fires Mueller before he makes such a finding, Trump's supporters will protect Trump from any political fallout.

Trump's base will stand by him not because they believe Trump is on their side, but because they define themselves as being on his side.

Trump has intentionally cleaved America into two warring camps: pro-Trump and anti-Trump. And he has convinced the pro-Trumps that his enemy is their enemy.

Most Americans are not passionate conservatives or liberals, Republicans or Democrats. But they have become impassioned Trump supporters or Trump haters.

Polls say 37 percent of Americans approve of him, and most disapprove. These numbers are the tips of two vast icebergs of intensity.

Trump has forced all of us to take sides, and to despise those on the other. There's no middle ground.

The Republican Party used to stand for fiscal responsibility, state's rights, free trade, and a hard line against Russian aggression. Now it just stands for Trump.

Pro-Trump Republicans remain the majority in the GOP. As long as Trump can keep them riled up, and as long as Republicans remain in control of at least one chamber of Congress, he's safe.

"Try to impeach him, just try it," Roger Stone, Trump's former campaign adviser, warned last summer. "You will have a spasm of violence in this country, an insurrection like you've never seen."

That's probably an exaggeration, but Trump (with the assistance of his enablers in Congress) has convinced his followers that the Russian investigation is part of a giant conspiracy to unseat him, and that his enemies want to replace him with someone who will allow dangerous forces to overrun America.

Sure, this paranoia is based on the same racism and xenophobia that has smoldered in America since its inception. Trump's strategy is to stoke it daily.

Sure, American politics had polarized before Trump. Trump's strategy is to exploit and enlarge these divisions.

A few months ago I traveled to Kentucky and talked with a number of Trump supporters.

They looked and sounded nothing like traditional conservative Republicans. Most were working class. Several were members of labor unions. All were passionate about Trump.

Why do you support him? I asked. "He's shaking Washington up," was the typical response.

I mentioned his lies. "He's telling it like it is," several told me. "He speaks his mind."

I talked about his attacks on democracy. "Every other politician is on the take," they said. "He isn't. He doesn't need their money."

I asked about his campaign's possible collusion with Russia. They told me they didn't believe a word of it. "It's a plot to get rid of him."

By making himself the center of an intensifying conflict, Trump grabs all the attention and fuels even greater passions on both sides.

It's what he did in the 2016 election, but on a far larger scale. Then, he sucked all the oxygen out of the race by making himself its biggest story. Now, he's sucking all the oxygen out of America by making himself our national obsession.

Trump received more coverage in the 2016 election than any presidential candidate in American history. Hillary Clinton got far less, and what she got was almost all about her emails.

Schooled in reality television and New York tabloids, Trump knows how to keep both sides stirred up: Vilify, disparage, denounce, defame, and accuse the other side of conspiring against America. Do it continuously. Dominate every news cycle.

Fox News is his propaganda arm, magnifying his tweets, rallies, and lies. The rest of the media also plays into Trump's strategy by making him the defining controversy of America. Every particular dispute – DACA, the "wall," North Korea, Mueller's investigation, and so on – becomes another aspect of the larger national war over Trump.

It's the divide-and-conquer strategy of a tyrant.

Democracies require sufficient social trust that citizens regard the views of those they disagree with as worthy of equal consideration to their own. That way, they'll accept political outcomes they dislike.

Trump's divide-and-conquer strategy is to destroy that trust.

So if Mueller finds Trump colluded with Russia, or Trump fires Mueller before Mueller makes such a finding, the pro-Trumps will block any consequential challenge to his authority.

Nothing could be more dangerous to our democracy and society.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Heart-touching inspiring story about Mister Rogers -- to read it, click on the link in the article below

Tom Hanks set to star as Mister Rogers

hanks rogers 2

Tom Hanks has a question for moviegoers: "Won't you be my neighbor?"

TriStar Pictures announced Monday that the actor will play Fred Rogers in "You Are My Friend." It's a film based on the friendship between the iconic children's TV host and a journalist assigned to write about him.

Rogers' PBS program, "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," aired from 1968 to 2001. He died in 2003.

Journalist Tom Junod profiled Rogers in an article for Esquire in 1998. The movie is about the bond that developed between the two men.

Related: Tom Hanks says Trump's attacks on press are concerning

"In the heart-warming story, a cynical journalist begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved icon and finds his perspective on life transformed," TriStar said in a statement.

Junod said on Twitter that the movie is "well-timed, for this moment."

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Govt. moves to make homeopathic remedies illegal


NO! NO! NO! This CAN'T happen!  Read this article -- and write, call, and bang on the doors of your Senators and Representatives!  The article gives a link to "Comments from the Public"

Please pass this along to everyone you know!

All Homeopathic Products Now Illegal?

In a bold move, a government agency has moved to make popular homeopathic remedies essentially illegal and subject to enforcement action. Is the move really about protecting public health - or the $3 billion in profits being diverted from another industry?

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Trump going down Nixon's path -- with far less intelligence

Trump and the Obstruction of Intelligence

by P.M. Carpenter | January 29, 2018

Since last May I have thought that Trump could never outdo his particular and exquisitely unique brand of stupidity — last May being when, in the Oval Office, he told Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that he had fired "nutjob" FBI Director James Comey, thus "great pressure" was off. "He was crazy," said Trump of his own country's top law enforcement officer. Now, "I'm not under investigation," he added.

The photos of a bloated and blotchy president laughing along, in noticeable relief, with the chief representatives of America's No. 1 geopolitical foe (sorry, Mitt) were stunning. Our shock came not so much from Trump's jocular demeanor — he wasn't the first president to share a few jokes with the bear — as it did from his seemingly genuine conviction that he had relieved the investigative pressure on himself, rather than having ratcheted it up exponentially. That Trump could have believed that sacking an FBI director looking into his lawlessness would not essentially confirm suspicions of such and therefore broaden the scope of inquires was, I thought, the very limit of really dumb, presidential incompetence.

Or so I thought. Until last Wednesday. That was when our boneheaded president said this to reporters: "Here's what we'll say, and everybody says: No collusion. There's no collusion. Now they're saying, 'Oh, well, Did he fight back? Did he fight back?' You fight back, 'Oh, it's obstruction.'"

Yes, "they" will say that. Because you know who else "fought back" in your peculiar style and were thereupon convicted of obstruction of justice? Nixon's three Johns — John Dean, John Ehrlichman, John Mitchell — as well as H.R. Haldeman, Jeb Magruder and Chuck Colson. Another John who really knew how to fight back was John Gotti, also convicted of obstruction.

The Washington Post reports that "Trump, appearing frustrated and at times angry, has complained to confidants and aides in recent weeks that he does not understand why he cannot simply give orders to 'my guys' at what he sometimes calls the 'Trump Justice Department.'"

One wonders how many times this has been explained to him by White House counsel and other stupefied advisers. In an interview with the Post, Sally Yates, the acting attorney general who was fired by Trump for doing her job — same as Comey — succinctly explained what only Trump has failed to grasp in his 71 thick-headed years of existence: "It is a firm tradition at the Department of Justice that the White House just has absolutely no involvement in criminal investigations or prosecutions, period." She added that Trump's shenanigans — "the near daily attacks on the FBI; we've never seen anything anywhere close to this before" — are "beyond unusual" and "really dangerous."

Those attacks — most noticeably, Trump's firing of Comey — are also obstruction of justice, when corrupt intent is integral. Which Trump, in the Oval Office, so happily bellowed to Sergey Lavrov and Sergey Kislyak. I suspect the latter two gentlemen were laughing because even they understood that the president of the United States just confessed to obstruction. But Trump, dimwit that he is, believed they were laughing at his cleverness. My God, how stupid criminals can be.

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