Monday, July 02, 2018

Robert Reich: Trump has perfected the Art of the No Deal


Trump's Art of the No Deal

by Robert Reich | July 2, 2018 

— from Robert Reich's Blog

Trump promised to be America's dealmaker in chief, touting his "extraordinary" ability to negotiate. But so far – whether he's dealing with foreign governments or with Congress – Trump has shown that he can't make a deal. Here's the list:

1. No deal with North Korea. Following his June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un, Trump declared on Twitter that "there is no longer a nuclear threat" from North Korea. But in fact, there's no deal. Trump gave Kim what Kim wanted – a photo op showing an American president granting North Korea co-equal status, and the cancellation of joint military exercises with South Korea. Yet Kim conceded nothing on weapons and missile programs. In fact, recent satellite imagery showsthe North is actually improving its nuclear capability. Instead of surrendering its nuclear stockpile, American intelligence officials say North Korea is considering ways to conceal it at secret production facilities. A new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency concludes that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize.

2. No deal on Nafta. Mexico and Canada insist they won't budge.

3. No deal with China on trade. In November, Trump lavished praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping of China after a one-on-one meeting in Beijing, during which Xi offered no concrete concession on trade. Now, we're on the brink of a trade war with China, which is retaliating against U.S. tariffs.

4. No deal on steel and aluminum imports. Europe has imposed retaliatory tariffs on several products exported from the U.S. to Europe, including motorcycles (inducing Harley-Davidson to announce it's moving some production to Europe), and causing GM to claim American jobs will suffer as a result.

5. No deal on the Qatar blockade.

6. No deal on Syria.

7. No deal on Russia. Even though Trump and Putin will soon meet, Trump has given away his bargaining leverage: Over the past few weeks he's called for Russia to be readmitted to the Group of 7 industrial powers, suggested it has a legitimate claim to Crimea because many Russian speakers live there, and continued to sow doubts about whether Moscow meddled in the 2016 presidential election — or if it did, whether the sabotage actually benefited Hillary Clinton.

8. No deal on Iran. On May 8, Trump announced America's exit from Iran nuclear deal. Since then, no negotiations. America's allies insist that no new deal will replace it.

9. No deal on climate change. Trump simply pulled out of the Paris accords. There have been no negotiations since.

10. No deal on Pacific trade. No new negotiations since Trump exited from the Pacific Trade pact.

11. No deal with Group of 7 leading economic powers. Instead, in a pique of irritation at Canada's prime minister, Trump refused to sign a communiqué his own team had agreed to. Since then, nothing.

12. No deal on DACA or immigration. Early this year Trump promised to sign what he called a "bill of love" to extend protections to 800,000 immigrants who entered the United States illegally as children. But since then he has thrown in the towel on such protections.

13. No budget deal. Trump promised he wasn't "going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid." But in February he proposed cutting Social Security disability programs. And he proposed a 2019 budget that would slash spending on Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, transportation and other essential government services, all while increasing the federal deficit. So far, no deal on any of this.

14. No deal on replacing the Affordable Care Act. Trump and the Republican Congress never agreed to a new plan, so Trump is quietly repealing the ACA administratively without a replacement. It's estimated that at least 5 million people will lose coverage.

15. No deal on gun control. After the Parkland shooting, Trump promised to tighten background checks for gun buyers and said he'd consider raising the age for buying certain types of guns. On March 11, he abandoned his promise, bowing to the National Rifle Association and embracing its agenda to arm teachers.

Bottom line: Trump can't make deals. He can only pull out of deals already made, or pretend he's made deals that soon evaporate. He's perfected the art of the no deal.


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Sunday, July 01, 2018

The Sad Probability of a GOP addition to the Supreme Court


How Trump's Supreme Court Pick Could Undo Kennedy's Legacy

Upon Justice Kennedy's retirement, the President is unlikely to nominate a moderate. What rulings would a brazen conservative majority produce?

Illustration by Tom Bachtell

There is no mystery about Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's favorite word. It is "dignity," which he invoked repeatedly in his opinions. The word appears three times in his 2003 decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which established the principle that gay people could not be thrown in jail for having consensual sex. He mentions it nine times in his most famous opinion, Obergefell v. Hodges, from 2015, which guaranteed the right to same-sex marriage in all fifty states. Lawyers, hoping to appeal to the Court's swing vote, sprinkled their briefs and arguments with "dignity," even as critics on both the left and the right found Kennedy's infatuation with the word (which does not appear in the Constitution) maddening, because it was never quite clear what he meant by it. Still, the word seemed fitting for the man—a tall, sombre Californian who appeared ever aware of the burdens imposed by his station.

So there is some irony in Kennedy's decision, last week, to turn over his precious seat on the Supreme Court to the least dignified man ever to serve as President. Though Donald Trump was a frequent litigant when he was in the private sector, he displayed no discernible views on the judiciary. But, once he became a Republican candidate for President, he fully embraced the contemporary conservative dogma regarding the courts. He recognized that evangelicals and their political allies would overlook his vulgar demeanor if he pledged to give them the judges they wanted—and he has, and he will.

Kennedy is no liberal. He provided the fifth vote to deliver the Presidency to George W. Bush in Bush v. Gore; he was the author of the majority opinion in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which hastened the deregulation of American politics; he upheld Trump's travel ban this term; and his votes on the day-to-day grist of the Supreme Court's docket—on labor law, the environment, and health care—hewed closely to those of his fellow Republican nominees. But, to the dismay of conservatives, he departed from their orthodoxy on some key issues in addition to gay rights, among them affirmative action, the death penalty, and, most notably, abortion rights. In the 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Kennedy voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, and he remained a reluctant but steady advocate for maintaining the precedent.

The whole purpose of Trump's Supreme Court selection process has been to eliminate the possibility of nominating someone who might commit Kennedy's perfidies of moderation. The activists from the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation who supplied the President's list of twenty-five prospective nominees are determined to tear down the monuments, on select issues, that Kennedy has built. Their labors have already produced one soaring success, in the confirmation, last year, of Neil Gorsuch. His extremism has exceeded that of his predecessor Antonin Scalia and equalled that of his colleague Clarence Thomas, the Justice with whom he has voted most often.

Yet it's far from certain that the public wants the kinds of rulings that a brazen conservative majority would produce. So the nominee and his or her supporters will avoid spelling out the implications of this judicial philosophy. As with Gorsuch, the nominee will be supported with meaningless buzz phrases: he or she will be opposed to "legislating from the bench" and in favor of "judicial restraint." Like Gorsuch, the nominee will rely on airy generalities rather than on specific examples. It's all the more important, then, to articulate in plain English what, if such a nominee is confirmed, a new majority will do.

It will overrule Roe v. Wade, allowing states to ban abortions and to criminally prosecute any physicians and nurses who perform them. It will allow shopkeepers, restaurateurs, and hotel owners to refuse service to gay customers on religious grounds. It will guarantee that fewer African-American and Latino students attend élite universities. It will approve laws designed to hinder voting rights. It will sanction execution by grotesque means. It will invoke the Second Amendment to prohibit states from engaging in gun control, including the regulation of machine guns and bump stocks.

And these are just the issues that draw the most attention. In many respects, the most important right-wing agenda item for the judiciary is the undermining of the regulatory state. In the rush of conservative rulings at the end of this term, one of the most important received relatively little notice. In Janus v. afscme, a 5–4 majority (including Kennedy) said that public employees who receive the benefits of union-negotiated contracts can excuse themselves from paying union dues. In doing so, the Justices overruled a Supreme Court precedent that, as it happens, was nearly as old as Roe v. Wade. (Chief Justice John Roberts, who has made much of his reverence for stare decisis, joined in the trashing of this precedent, and will likely join his colleagues in rejecting more of them.) The decision not only cripples public-sector unions—itself a cherished conservative goal—but does so, oddly enough, on First Amendment grounds. The majority said that forcing government workers to pay dues violates their right to free speech. But, as Justice Elena Kagan wrote in a dissent, this is "weaponizing the First Amendment, in a way that unleashes judges, now and in the future, to intervene in economic and regulatory policy." She added, "Speech is everywhere—a part of every human activity (employment, health care, securities trading, you name it). For that reason, almost all economic and regulatory policy affects or touches speech. So the majority's road runs long."

Anthony Kennedy didn't spend his entire career on that road, and there is, in his best opinions, the kind of decency and empathy that characterized many of the moderate Republicans who once dominated the Court, such as Justices Potter Stewart, Harry Blackmun, and Sandra Day O'Connor. Kennedy's words at the conclusion of the Obergefell opinion deserve to be his judicial epitaph. "It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage," he wrote. "Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right." But the Constitution grants only those rights that the Supreme Court says it grants, and a new majority can and will bestow those rights, and take them away, in chilling new ways. ♦

This article appears in the print edition of the July 9 & 16, 2018, issue, with the headline "After Kennedy."

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Friday, June 29, 2018

What must Democrats do now? Wise advice from Robert Reich

What Must We Do Now?

by Robert Reich | June 29, 2018 - 6:46am

— from Robert Reich's Blog

My friends, this is a dark hour. Intolerance, cruelty, racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and environmental destruction have been let loose across the land.

Trump controls the Republican Party, the Republican Party controls the House and Senate, and the Senate and Trump will soon control the Supreme Court.

Republicans also control both chambers in 32 states (33 if you count Nebraska) and 33 governorships. And in many of these states they are entrenching their power by gerrymandering and arranging to suppress votes.

Yet only 27 percent of Americans are Republican, and the vast majority of Americans disapprove of Trump. The GOP itself is now little more than Trump, Fox News, a handful of billionaire funders, and evangelicals who oppose a woman's right to choose, gay marriage, and the Constitution's separation of church and state.

So what are we – the majority – to do?

First and most importantly, do not give up. That's what they want us to do. Then they'd have no opposition at all.

Second, in the short term, if you are represented by a Republican senator, do whatever you can to get him or her to reject Trump's Supreme Court nominee, or, at the least, postpone consideration until after the midterm elections. Urge others to join with you. Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121

Third, make a ruckus. Demonstrate. Engage in non-violent civil disobedience. Fight lies with truth. Join the resistance. @IndivisibleTeam @swingleft@UpRiseDotOrg @MoveOn @Sister_District @flippable_org.

Fourth, don't succumb to divisive incrimination over "who lost" the 2016 election (Hillary loyalists, Bernie supporters, Jill Stein voters, etc.). This will get us nowhere. We must be united.

Fifth, vote this November 6 for people who will stand up to the Trump Republican outrage. Mobilize and organize others to do so. Contact friends and relations in "red" states, and urge them to do the same.

Sixth, help lay the groundwork for the 2020 presidential election, so that even if Trump survives Mueller and impeachment he will not be reelected.

Finally, know that this fight will be long and hard. It will require our patience, our courage, and our resolve. The stakes could not be higher.


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Monday, June 18, 2018

Interesting article: Einstein's Mystical Ideas about God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation


Einstein's Mystical Ideas About God, Death, Afterlife, and Reincarnation

"I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, …Neither can I believe that the individual survives the death of his body, although feeble souls harbor such thoughts through fear or ridiculous egotism.
~ Albert Einstein, as quoted in his New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein was not only a great scientist but a wise philosopher and a pragmatic "true mystic" … "of a deeply religious nature." (New York Times Obituary, April 19, 1955)

Einstein did not believe in a formal, dogmatic religion, but was religiously and reverently awed and humbled with a cosmic religious feeling by the immense beauty and eternal mystery of our Universe.

He often commented publicly on religious and ethical subjects, and thereby he became widely respected for his moral integrity and mystical wisdom, as well as for his scientific genius.

In an essay collection entitled The World As I See It, first published 1933, Einstein explained his reverence for God as Eternal Universal Intelligence. But he rejected prevalent religious ideas of individual survival of physical death, reincarnation, or of reward or punishment in heaven or hell after physical death. He said:

I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature. [The World As I See It]


On learning of the death of a lifelong friend, Einstein wrote in a March 1955 letter to his friend's family:

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."


Einstein's rejection of afterlife contradicted many religious teachings and credible experiential accounts of individual afterlife and reincarnation. But it was consistent with Einstein's revolutionary scientific paradigm and with highest non-dualistic Eastern religious teachings, the most ancient extant of which is Hindu Advaita Vedanta philosophy.

Einstein revolutionized Western science with his 1905 groundbreaking theory of relativity that "mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing"; that there was an equivalence between all matter and energy in the universe, quantifiable by the simple equation e = mc2. On his arrival in New York in 1919, Einstein summarized his theory of relativity in the single sentence:

"Remove matter from the universe and you also remove space and time."
Clark R.W., Einstein: His Life and Times (1973)

Though Vedic rishis or seers had anticipated Einstein by millennia, their teachings were largely unknown in the West until shortly before Einstein revolutionized Western science. The ancient Vedic Advaita teachings were first brought to large Western audiences by Swami Vivekananda – who came to the West as Indian delegate to the 1893 Parliament of World Religions.

Vivekananda, who was principle disciple of nineteenth century Indian Holy Man Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa, eloquently explained that according to Advaita philosophy this impermanent and ever changing world is an unreal illusion called maya or samsara; and, that "all that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream"… 

In an eloquent New York City lecture called "The Real and the Apparent Man",he equated maya or samsara with "time, space, and causation" and presciently predicted scientific confirmation of the ancient Vedic non-dual philosophy of One Infinite Existence. He said:

"According to the Advaita philosophy, ..this Maya or ignorance–or name and form, or, as it has been called in Europe, time, space, and causality–is out of this one Infinite Existence showing us the manifoldness of the universe; in substance, this universe is one. So long as any one thinks that there are two ultimate realities, he is mistaken. When he has come to know that there is but one, he is right. This is what is being proved to us every day, on the physical plane, on the mental plane, and also on the spiritual plane.

"What then becomes of all this threefold eschatology of the dualist, that when a man dies he goes to heaven, or goes to this or that sphere, and that the wicked persons become ghosts, and become animals, and so forth? None comes and none goes, says the non-dualist. How can you come and go? You are infinite; where is the place for you to go?

"So it is with regard to the soul; the very question of birth and death in regard to it is utter nonsense. Who goes and who comes? Where are you not? Where is the heaven that you are not in already? Omnipresent is the Self of man. Where is it to go? Where is it not to go? It is everywhere. So all this childish dream and puerile illusion of birth and death, of heavens and higher heavens and lower worlds, all vanish immediately for the perfect. For the nearly perfect it vanishes after showing them the several scenes up to Brahmaloka. It continues for the ignorant."

"Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen. In the Absolute there is neither time, space nor causation."

"Science and religion will meet and shake hands…When the scientific teacher asserts that all things are the manifestation of one force, does it not remind you of the God of whom you hear in the Upanishads? Do you not see whither science is tending?"

"…this separation between man and man, between nation and nation, between earth and moon, between moon and sun. Out of this idea of separation between atom and atom comes all misery. But the Vedanta says that this separation does not exist, it is not real."

"Your own will is all that answers prayer, only it appears under the guise of different religious conceptions to each mind. We may call it Buddha, Jesus, Krishna, but it is only the Self, the 'I'."

~ Swami Vivekananda – Jnana Yoga


Einstein's non-mechanistic science was very difficult for Western materialist minds to comprehend because his mystical view questioned the substantiality of matter and the ultimate reality of space, time and causality. Like Vivekananda, he said:

"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."


"Our separation of each other is an optical illusion of consciousness."


"Space and time are not conditions in which we live, they are modes in which we think"

"Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter."



"There is no place in this new kind of physics for the field and matter, for the field is the only reality."





"That which is impenetrable to us really exists. Behind the secrets of nature remains something subtle, intangible, and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion."



Thus, Einstein's rejection of prevalent religious ideas about God and individual survival of physical death and afterlife was consistent with his revolutionary science as well as with Eastern non-dualistic teachings explained by Vivekenanda that apparent separation between subject and object is an unreal "optical illusion of consciousness." 

Did Einstein's psyche survive his death? Was he surprised on his demise?

Though Einstein didn't believe in individual survival of physical death, he may have been surprised on his demise. Conservation of energy is basic to physics. So Einstein must have realized that his subtle energetic essence was indestructible and could only be transformed from one state to another. But we don't know how that knowledge may have influenced his opinion about what happens on individual death, or his experience thereafter.

Except for very rare Buddha-like people who transcend all desires, it is probable that all humans survive physical death as psyches or mental bodies, irrespective of their beliefs. So the Dalai Lama has said:

"[Physical qualities] cannot be carried over into the next life.
The continuum of the mind, however, does carry on.
Therefore, a quality based on the mind is more enduring. …
So, through training the mind, qualities such as compassion, love, and the wisdom realizing emptiness can be developed."
~ H.H. Dalai Lama, from Practicing wisdom: the perfection of Shantideva's Bodhisattva way


Thus, Buddhists say that Gautama Buddha experienced countless incarnations over eons of time before ultimately transcending the cycle of birth and death. And the Dalai Lama has said:

"We are born and reborn countless number of times, and it is possible that each being has been our parent at one time or another.  Therefore, it is likely that all beings in this universe have familial connections."
~ H. H. Dalai Lama, from 'The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom".


But, rather than wondering if on demise of Einstein's physical body and extraordinary brain, his subtle mental body survived – with its unfulfilled desire to find a single simple "unified field" formula explaining phenomenal reality from perspective of 'the mind of God' – let us honor his immense evolutionary accomplishments and take inspiration from his compassionate social activism, and pragmatic wisdom.

And thereby let us learn to live ever more peacefully, harmoniously and skillfully, in this ever changing phenomenal world of space, time and causation, as together we evolve out of the darkness of ignorance and into the light of Eternal Awareness.

And so may it be!


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Sunday, June 17, 2018

New Yorker article on the movie "Coco"


 





I love this movie and was happy to see this article today in the New Yorker magazine.  The film is a heart-toucher in so many ways.


Highly recommended!




"Coco," a Story About Borders, Life, Death and Love, Is a Definitive Movie for This Moment

Coco" is a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border

locks you away from your family.

One weekend last fall, my boyfriend, Andrew, whose favorite movies include "Deliverance" and the original "Texas Chain Saw Massacre," went off to go see the Pixar movie "Coco," by himself, and came back in a delirium of happy, wistful tears. "What's going on with you?" I asked, watching him wheel his bike back into the living room. I hadn't moved from my permanent station behind my computer monitor, a hub for the ongoing erosion of my belief in human good. "You have to go to see 'Coco,' " he croaked. "You have to. It's, like, the best movie of all time."

I assumed that he was being hyperbolic, until a night in April when I invited three friends over to watch "Coco," all of us first-time viewers with high expectations. People we knew—people in their twenties and thirties, few of them with children—had been freaking out about "Coco" in group texts and random conversations, saying things like, "I cried so hard I started choking," and "I've watched it five times this month on airplanes." "Hey ppl over here getting drunk and watching Coco just fyi," I texted Andrew, who was still at the office. In return, I received a series of panicked instructions to not start without him. "You have already seen it…." I texted. "I DON'T CARE!!!!!!!" he texted back. "DON'T START WITHOUT ME!!!!"

We started without him. Andrew came home a third of the way into the movie, cracked a beer, and silently sat down on the floor of the living room to watch. By the end, every one of us was crying through a manic grin. "I told you," he said. "It's the best movie of all time."

In the weeks since that viewing, "Coco" love has continued to spread among my demographic—thanks, in part, to the movie's release on Netflix in May. "Coco" is unlike any film I can think of: it presents death as a life-affirming inevitability; its story line about grudges and abandonment makes you feel less alone. The protagonist, Miguel, is a twelve-year-old boy in the fictional Mexican town of Santa Cecilia—named for the patron saint of musicians—and he is trying to get out from under the shadow of his great-great-grandfather, who left his family to pursue a career as a musician. His wife, the ferocious Mamá Imelda, was left to take care of their young daughter, Coco. She instituted a permanent household ban on music and started making shoes.

We meet Coco as an old woman. Her daughter, Miguel's grandmother, now runs the family and its shoemaking business with an iron chancla. Earnest, sweet Miguel teaches himself to play the guitar in the attic, watching and re-watching tapes of the bygone star Ernesto de la Cruz. On the Day of the Dead, he accidentally shatters a framed photograph on the family ofrenda, then spots a hidden detail in the picture, one that makes him suspect that his wayward ancestor was in fact de la Cruz himself. He sprints to the town mausoleum, hoping to borrow de la Cruz's guitar and prove the value of music to his family. Instead, the guitar turns Miguel invisible, and whisks him across a skybridge covered in thick, soft marigold petals that glow like lava. He falls to his knees in the petals, and then looks up to see a grand floating metropolis, confetti-colored in the darkness: the Land of the Dead.

The second and third acts of the movie are mostly set in this city of jubilant sugar-skull skeletons, where you exist only as long as you are remembered by the living. (You can cross over to the living world on the Day of the Dead, but only if your photo is on display.) Miguel joins up with a raggedy show-biz hustler named Héctor, who's desperate to get his picture back up on an ofrenda, and who says he can bring Miguel to de la Cruz. Héctor lives in a waterfront shantytown filled with people who are about to be forgotten; at one point, he begs a guitar for Miguel off an ill-tempered cowboy named Chicharrón, who vanishes as soon as Héctor finishes singing an old dirty song.

Eventually, Miguel realizes that Héctor is his real ancestor, and the movie sprints to a conclusion that's as skillfully engineered to produce waterworks as the montage at the beginning of "Up." But until the end, "Coco" is mostly, wonderfully, a mess of conflict and disappointment and sadness. Héctor seems to have failed everyone who takes a chance on him. Miguel's face, painted in skeleton camouflage, often droops as if he were a sad little black-and-white dog. "Coco" is animated by sweetness, but this sweetness is subterranean, bursting through mostly in tiny details: the way that both Mamá Imelda and Miguel's grandmother brandish shoes when they're angry; or how the daffy Xolo dog that accompanies Miguel on his adventure is named Dante; or how the skeletons return to their city through the Day of the Dead's efficient T.S.A. system, declaring the churros and beer that their families gave them for their journey home.

Before "Coco" hit theaters, it was easy to doubt that the movie would present Mexican culture as expansively and gorgeously as it does, with such natural familiarity and respect. It is Pixar's nineteenth movie, but their first with a nonwhite protagonist; Lee Unkrich, the director and creator of the initial story, is white. The movie's working title was "Día de los Muertos," and, in 2013, Disney lawyers tried, absurdly, to trademark that phrase. But Unkrich and his team approached their subject with openness and collaborative humility: they travelled to Mexico, they loosened Pixar's typical secrecy to build a large network of consultants, and, after the trademark controversy, they asked several prominent critics to come onboard. "Coco" is the first movie to have both an all-Latino cast and a nine-figure budget. It grossed more than eight hundred million dollars worldwide, won two Oscars, and became the biggest blockbuster in Mexican history.

"Coco" is also a definitive movie for this moment: an image of all the things that we aren't, an exploration of values that feel increasingly difficult to practice in the actual world. It's a story of a multigenerational matriarchy, rooted in the past—whereas real life, these days, feels like an atemporal, structureless nightmare ruled by men. It's about lineage and continuity at a time when each morning makes me feel like my brain is being wiped and battered by new flashes of cruelty, as though history is being forgotten and only the worst parts rewritten. It feels like myth or science fiction to imagine that our great-great-grandchildren will remember us. If we continue to treat our resources the way we are treating them currently, those kids—if they exist at all—will live in a world that is ravaged, punishing, artificial, and hard.

This world is hard enough already: its technological conditions induce emotional alienation, and its economic ones narrow our attention to questions of individual survival. As it is, I haven't assembled the ofrenda I ought to. I barely feel like I'm taking adequate care of the people I love right now, and I mean the ones I know personally. I feel certain that I'm failing the people I don't know but that I love nonetheless—the people in our national community, and the people who are seeking to become a part of it.

"Coco" is a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border locks you away from your family. The conflict in the story comes from not being able to cross over; the resolution is that love pulls you through to the other side. The thesis of the movie is that families belong together. I watched it again this week, reading the news that Donald Trump is considering building an unregulated holding camp for migrant children, that ice showed up on the lawn of a legal permanent resident and initiated deportation procedures, that a four-month-old baby was torn away from her breastfeeding mother. If justice is what love looks like in public, then love has started to seem like the stuff of children's movies, or maybe the stuff of this children's movie—something that doesn't make sense in the adult world, but should.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Very important warning article: We can't keep looking the other way

Many psychiatrists and psychologists are deeply concerned with what they observe in Trump's unstable speech and behavior. Following is an interview with a prominent psychiatrist that ought to raise the hairs on the back of anyone's neck. The alarm is being loudly sounded, but Trump's supporters refuse to hear it, and we are all being held hostage by a man with great power and increasing mental deterioration. What can possibly go wrong?  Read the following and find out:

Excerpt: 

What role does Donald Trump's mental health play in how he governs? Is the stress of Robert Mueller's investigation and the other scandals swirling around Trump's White House accelerating his mental decline? Why are so many of Trump's supporters and other members of the general public still in denial about the global and national crisis that is Trump's assault on American democracy? Can anything be done about a president who appears unstable yet still maintains the unilateral power to order the use of nuclear weapons?

In an effort to answer these questions, I recently spoke with Dr. John Gartner, a former professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University Medical School. 



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