Saturday, October 31, 2015

Good column by Maureen Dowd: Fall of the House of Bush

By Maureen Dowd

WASHINGTON — JEB, dragging his wilted exclamation point around, is so boring that it's hard to focus on the epic nature of his battle.

Not the battle against Donald Trump, although his beat-down by Trump is garishly entertaining. I'm talking about the Brooks Brothers "Game of Thrones" family tangle.

As much as Poppy Bush scoffs at "the D-word," as he calls any reference to dynasty, the Bushes do consider themselves an American royal family. They have always pretty much divided the world into Bushes and the help. The patriarch once sent me a funny satire referring to himself and Barbara as the Old King and Queen, W. as King George of Crawford and Jeb as the Earl of Tallahassee.

At 91, 41 is living to see Jebbie become president. He is mystified by a world in which Trump, whom he considers a clown, could dethrone the crown prince.

Jeb said in New Hampshire that Poppy is prone to throw his shoe at the TV when Trump comes on. Fortunately, the former president always has very stylish socks.

Some of Jeb's disillusioned donors are hanging on just because they can't bear to shatter the old man's illusions. How can America be rewarding the wrong dynasty — Little Rock over Kennebunkport?

As Jonathan Martin and Matt Flegenheimer in The Times, Poppy and Bush retainers like John Sununu are bewildered by a conservative electorate that rejects Republican primogeniture, prefers snark to substance and embraces an extremely weird brain surgeon and an extravagantly wild reality show star.

When the Bushes had to stick a shiv in the ribs of their foes, they behaved like gentlemen and outsourced it to henchmen. They can't fathom a world where that vulgarian Trump is doing his own dirty work.

Trump has gotten into Jeb's head, making Jeb so petulant he declared he had "a lot of really cool things" he could be doing instead, when we all know he doesn't.

For Bushworld, this was the election where the Cain and Abel drama of W. and Jeb would finally have a happy ending.

I covered the Jeb and Junior sibling smashdown from the start. In 1993, I went on the road to watch Jeb run for governor in Florida and W. run for governor in Texas.

Barbara had blurted out to W. that he shouldn't run because he couldn't win. And when I talked to Jeb, he seemed annoyed that his older brother had jumped into the race in Texas because it turned it into "a People magazine story."

But W. had spent his rowdy 20s and 30s living with the unpleasant fact that even though he was the oldest, his parents assumed Jeb had the bright political future. At 47, with his drinking days behind him and Laura beside him, he was ready to cash in on the family name and money and make his move.

It was soon clear to me that the Good Son was not as scintillating a campaigner as the Prodigal Son. W. didn't know the issues and he had a spiteful side, but he was the one with the crackle.

When Jeb came up with a line on the trail in Florida that worked, W. just swiped it. When Jeb said, "I am running for governor not because I am George and Barbara Bush's son; I am running because I am George P. and Noelle and Jeb's father," W. began saying: "I am not running for governor because I am George Bush's son. I am running because I am Jenna and Barbara's father." Karl Rove laughed about the shoplifting.

Jeb was the image of his mother, especially when he smiled, but his pragmatic political temperament was more like his father's, even though he never had his dad's manic "ants on a hot pan" energy. W. looked like his father but got his acerbic streak from his mother.

On election night, W. was steamed that his father seemed more upset by Jeb's loss than excited by his oldest son's win. Not only did W. shock his family by making it to the Oval Office before Jeb. In the tie election, Jeb had to be prodded into helping his brother snatch Florida away from Al Gore.

This was going to be the year that settled sibling scores. Jeb would get what his parents considered his birthright.

Even though the brothers are not particularly close, and W.'s tragic overinvolvement in the Middle East and tragic underinvolvement in Katrina did not make him a campaign asset, somehow Jeb kept wrapping himself around W.'s axle — and his Axis of Evil.

When Jeb was first asked if it had been a good idea to invade Iraq, he gave four different answers. Then he said he wouldn't rule out torture and thought getting rid of Saddam was "a pretty good deal." And he couldn't stop bragging about how his brother kept America safe, even though Trump correctly noted that W. was not on the ball leading up to 9/11. And, of course, W.'s two misbegotten wars have been recruiting boons for terrorist fiends.

Jeb explained away his shambling, shrinking campaign by saying he was a doer, not a performer. But the main thing he was doing was helping to rehabilitate his brother's pockmarked reputation.

W. headlined a fund-raiser at a Georgetown home Thursday night. When he came out, a TMZ camera captured him jovially signing autographs for people waiting on the street and calling out as he drove away, "Don't put that on eBay."

On Friday morning, the chatterers were comparing the stiff Jeb to the loosey-goosey W., gushing with the mistaken cliché that W. is comfortable in his own skin. It was the ultimate vindication for W. His parents had been wrong all along. Jeb wasn't the Natural on the trail. He was.

Some Jeb! campaign officials think he should "kiss off Iowa," as one put it, where he's flatlining, and put the emphasis on New Hampshire, setting the stage for South Carolina. "That's what 41 did when Bob Dole was winning Iowa," said one family friend. The Bushworld veterans think that someone gave Jeb bad advice about trying to put his protégé Marco Rubio in his place at the debate.

"It looked out of character for him," one said. "He looked like he was a little lost when Marco came back at him."

Jeb's loyalists are urging reporters to point out, as one asserted, that Trump would be "a catastrophe for the country."

They also think Jeb has to be more self-deprecating, because he has no choice, and stress his Latino support.

Before the debate debacle, the joyless candidate had been doubling down on his promise to be joyful, proclaiming on NewsmaxTV, "I'm having a blast" and "I'm in phenomenal shape for an old 62-year-old guy. In fact, I think we ought to have five-hour debates."

But this campaign has been defined by Trump parachuting in, like an Elvis impersonator in Vegas, and disrupting the royal coronation. Jeb had been out of politics for eight years and he strolled back, mistakenly assuming that the vassals were waiting eagerly to hail him.

With Trump belittling him for being low energy and running to Mommy and Daddy for help, Jeb realized he was in a new world.

His brother's muscle-bound presidency led to Barack Obama and the diffident Obama led to a new brand of furious, Tea Party-infused Republicans.

While Jeb was offstage, the whole party and political environment had passed him by. He came back looking very '90s. He's talking about pragmatic government at a time when the drivers in his party are talking about tearing it down.

Jeb is trapped in a nightmarish déjà vu. Once he was cast as the wonky one while his brother, the sparky one, slipped ahead. Now Jeb is cast as the wonky one while Marco, the sparky one, slips ahead.

Jeb got confused. He thought he was still in an era when people had to pay their dues.


We have Trump to thank for truth about the Bush/Cheney years

This is a Great article -- speaking truth about the trainwreck Dubya/Cheney has been to our country.  It thanks Trump for voicing this truth and for continuing to take down the Republican party.  I've been finding it ironically amusing that the Bush family is mad as hell about Trump's revealing accusations that are taking down the reputation (such as it is) of the entire Bush family.  Poppy Bush says he is perplexed by it all and expresses shock that anyone would speak against John McCain's war heroism.  To put this in context, the man whose political machine stopped at nothing under Lee Atwater's direction to tell whopping lies against his political foes has the hypocritical ballsiness to say he's "perplexed" by it all (never mind the horrific lies Karl Rove devised against John McCain so Dubya Bush could win in a South Carolina primary).  OMG. 

Well, this article tells the truth and sets it straight for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.  The others, mostly right wing fanatics hypnotized by Fox et al, are beyond help.  I am convinced there is no reaching them with truth.  They are confined to the plastic upside-down, backwards Bubble World till death does them part.  In the article below, I've highlighted the outstanding truths in color, bold and sometimes increased font size.

It's quite a show, isn't it?  Please pass the popcorn...

Thank You, Donald?

By David Michael Green, professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.

Call me a jerk if you want to (you won't be the first), but I kinda like it when bad things happen to bad people. I especially appreciate it when greedy plutocrats who run over the weakest of us to in order to make themselves even richer and more powerful get handed their lunch.

Sadly, mine is a largely unrequited desire, and an altogether lonely avocation. It just doesn't happen so very often that the world's most deserving get their just reward. There might be justice in the cosmos, but I regret to say that I've not had the pleasure of encountering a whole lot of it in this lifetime.

Lately, though, I've been getting bruises on my butt from falling off my chair so often, as the crimes of more than a decade ago are miraculously now getting some attention. That's not the same as justice, mind you. It ain't even close. But it's way more than ever happened at the time, and it's way more than I ever expected. And, um – since you asked – it's also damn fun.

I love seeing the likes of Scott Walker and Rick Perry and Chris Christie publicly humbled and personally rejected. Again, call me a mean SOB if you like. But these individuals and their regressive movement have cynically wrecked so many innocent lives in their brutal pursuit of power and filthy lucre for decades now, I don't care if my sentiments are politically incorrect. I normally don't wish ill upon anyone, but let's be honest – these guys are getting off easy. All the more so when they land their eight-figure gigs as lobbyists, effectively at the taxpayers' expense both before and after their retirement from public 'service'. So, hey, cut me some slack when I enjoy my smallest of small victories wherever I can get them.

And I am. And perhaps no more so than where "Jeb!" Bush is concerned. You see, our man from Tallahassee is actually a twofer, because of the remarkable conjunction his year of having a Bush in the race along with, at the same time, The Thing Which Is Donald.

Trump, himself, is of course a disaster of epic proportions, a canary in a coal mine that long ago collapsed in upon itself, the best evidence to date of the total demise of Western civilization. And yet...

And yet – and who would ever, ever have thought this? – the Donald is also the source of a ridiculous amount of truth-telling by the standards of American politics. Put that all together and you get the aforementioned twofer. Not only is Trump absolutely torturing the hapless Jebby to utter distraction (and, hey, are there greater joys than watching that?), but he is also taking down the whole goddam clan while he is at it.

And the best part of all is how clueless the Bushes are to everything happening to them, and how their lifetimes of imperious arrogance have rendered them completely incapable of seeing all this coming, despite the fact that it is the creation of none other than themselves.

According to a recent New York Times article:

No one, it seems, is more perplexed than the family patriarch by the race, and by what the Republican Party has become in its embrace of anti-establishment outsiders, especially the sometimes rude Mr. Trump. In July, even after breaking a vertebra in a fall that left him hospitalized in Maine, the elder Mr. Bush was fuming at the news of the day: Mr. Trump had belittled Sen. John McCain of Arizona for being taken prisoner in Vietnam. "I can't understand how somebody could say that and still be taken seriously," said Mr. Bush, himself a naval aviator in World War II, according to his longtime spokesman, Jim McGrath, who had visited him.

Hey, funny you should mention that, Poppy. 'Cause – even after the insanity of Reaganism and the government shutdowns and the impeachment of a president for lying about a private sexual affair – even after all that, I remember the moment when I realized that the Republican Party had completely lost its shit, and was never, ever, going to return to the Reality Based Community. It was when Old Man Bush's own son, and his henchman, Karl Rove, organized a political assassination of the very same John McCain in order to get W the presidency. After McCain was on a roll coming out of New Hampshire in 2000, Rove put it around South Carolina that the old pol was batty from his years as a POW, and that his adopted Bangladeshi daughter was actually the love child from a secret affair he was supposed to have had with a black woman. That was the end of McCain, whose naive mistake was to believe that there were some things these people wouldn't do, some lines that would not be crossed.

As for me, I'm not sure my jaw has ever fully returned from the bottom basement to its full upright position. This was the moment when I realized these people were capable of a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g. That's when I realized the depth of their emotional insecurities and the sheer size of the ocean of fuel required to feed that same scary monster. If the party of rah-rah militarism and gung-ho support-our-troops bumper-sticker American pugilism could embrace the ugliest personal destruction of its former POW hero because he was insufficiently regressive (he supported campaign finance reform!), well then, anything was possible.

So I've got some news for Old Man Bush: This shit's actually been going on for a long time, and nobody has benefited more from it than your own family, pal.

And, speaking about crimes against humanity (as indeed we were), there's the small matter of how the Elder Bush himself won his own presidency, under the direction of Rove's mentor, Lee Atwater. That, of course, was the campaign in which Bush began with a 17-point deficit and came from behind to defeat Mike Dukakis and win in 1988. Pretty amazing feat, eh? Too bad it required the blatantly racist Willie Horton campaign in order to turn the trick. That one was so egregious that Atwater later apologized for his act of political genocide as he lay dying from brain cancer.

Whether 'making amends' for a lifetime of crime five minutes before meeting your maker constitutes the ultimate act of cowardice and hypocrisy or not is a question for another time. The point is that the Bushes and their party have been practicing the skankiest of politics for decades now. The only difference today is that they are on the receiving end of this scorched-earth, take-no-prisoners approach, not the giving end. Oh, and one other thing: instead of benefiting from such practices, they are being eviscerated by the very same ones. I love that. And it really couldn't happen to nicer or more deserving people.

But what I love even more is the conversation about 9/11 that Donald Trump has opened up. The coverup (and that is the only accurate term for it) of the Lil' Bush administration's failings on that front was a second great crime, on top of the murderous attack itself. But we could never talk about it at the time, for at least two reasons. The first is that Republican bully boys are masterful at using intimidation to silence critics. This was an optimal situation for them. All they had to do was wrap themselves in the flag and make it seem, at a time of national mourning, that it was unseemly and crassly political and opportunistic to ask questions that could make the president look bad. They made it as awkward as possible for anyone to raise legitimate issues by making it seems like such a person was stomping on the graves of dead Americans in order to score cheap political points. You know the repugnant sort of thing I'm talking about – kinda like what they are themselves doing nowadays with Benghazi, where four American died, not 3,000.

But there was, I'd say, always another reason why we never had that conversation. I just don't think most Americans were psychologically prepared to do so. They just couldn't go there. Some things are just so unnerving to the collective national psyche that people find it easier to simply bury them altogether. In this country, the list of those items ranges from the idea that the US is not best at everything there is to be best at, to the many wars fought because our leaders lied to us, to all the places in the world where we've been the enemy of democracy and freedom, and well beyond. But the list of taboo thoughts also included the notion that our own President Bush – the one we selected ourselves (well, not really, but never mind that) – could be an incompetent boob whose failings left us so vulnerable.

Of course, the truth is that George W. Bush has been nothing but a boob his whole life. He was the drunken family boob, before he became the Ivy League cheerleader boob, before he became the failed businessman boob, before ultimately becoming the worst president in American history boob. Really, there's more boob in this one guy than in an entire herd of bovines!

But, in the wake of 9/11, Americans were desperate to feel safe – even if only mythologically so – and thus unwilling to ask any probing questions about what had actually happened. Of course, as the weeks and months after the event unfolded, it was all there to see, at least for anyone willing to look.

There was the president whose face melted when he was told the news, but still kept on reading "The Pet Goat" to the nice schoolchildren. (The White House later claimed that he didn't want to disturb the kiddies by abruptly getting up and leaving the room. Somehow, however, the same level of concern would not subsequently be applied to millions fo Iraqi schoolchildren.)

And there he was again that day, looking rattled, speaking to the country, flying to Nebraska, trying to get a grip.

There was the revelation that both his CIA Director, George Tenet, and his terrorism czar Richard Clarke had been going crazy for months trying to warn the administration of a looming attack and getting nowhere. And that they were so frustrated that both Clarke and a slew of CIA analysts on the al Qaeda desk had asked to be transferred to other assignments.

And that the reason they were getting nowhere was because, as Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill revealed, the administration was already obsessed with Iraq, to the exclusion of all else.

Then we learned that just a month before the attack the president had been specifically warned during his morning security briefing that an attack was imminent, one of 36 such al Qaeda warnings the president had received prior to 9/11. And that he had two notable responses to this last one on August 6, 2001.

The first was to say to his CIA briefer: "All right. You've covered your ass, now." (No, I'm not making that up. That is literally what he said.)

And the second was to stay on vacation in Crawford, Texas, for an entire month just preceding the attack.

In short, if we could be honest about this – or if the president on September 11, 2001 had been a Democrat, let alone a black Democrat – there could be only one conclusion. It would be the same one that Clarke himself reached. This presidential national security aide to four presidents (Reagan through W) who is, or at least was then, a Republican, and who had voted for the Shrub in 2000, could only conclude that there was a chance that 9/11 could have been prevented had Bush just done what Bill Clinton had done every time he had received warnings of a looming serious attack – that is, to put the government on high alert, "shake the trees", and make every effort possible to prevent bad things from happening.

But Lil' Bush didn't do any of that. And yet regressives desperately need for the country to believe that their guy didn't commit the world's greatest cock-up, so for folks to even consider the notion had to be preemptively turned into a thoughtcrime.

Thus was necessitated a two-pronged effort to save his reputation from the judgment of history. The first of these strategies requires the prima facie, ad hominem, destruction of both the notion of Bush's failure, and any 'notioner' advancing such an idea, as patently crazy, and therefore fit only for outright dismissal by all consumers of national politics discourse possessed of proper mental hygiene. This has always been the rap, and of course it reemerged yet again in response to Trump having the audacity to speak truthfully about Bush's failings pre-9/11. Both Lil' Bro Jeb and the truly oleaginous Ari Fleischer made references to the 'obvious' nuttiness of such a concept, on its very face. Because people want to believe the president, and because they especially want to believe they are secure with competent presidents up there on the watchtower vigilantly keeping guard, there is a large built-in audience for such pre-emptive idiocy. Especially when the only prominent person in the public sphere who dares to broach the subject is someone whom everyone outside of the GOP base of angry white geezers widely agrees – albeit for perhaps different reasons – is otherwise eight-tenths belligerent lout and the rest accidentally accurate political critic.

The other strategy employed by W apologists to great success has been to endlessly repeat the mantra that "He kept us safe" in the years since 9/11, which Jeb himself in fact trumpeted in his hapless attempt at trying to look tough against The Donald in the second debate. The only thing more pathetic than a privileged pansy like Jeb aping a two-dimensional cartoon character of a resolute and strong leader is the idea that millions of Americans could be sufficiently deprived of the most basic of critical faculties such that tripe like "He kept us safe" could seem even remotely plausible. I mean, Jesus Christ, this line is the absolute Spin of the Millennium. It's like saying that Harold did a great job of keeping England safe except for, you know, that whole Norman Conquest thing. My god, are we really that moronic?!?! (Don't answer. Please.)

Well, we certainly have been. But imagine my surprise to find the ugly ghosts of the Bush administration digging their way out of the grave and resurfacing nearly a decade later, just when Ol' W thought he was safe at last, sitting at home painting self-portraits of his foot in the shower, and deluding himself as to how he was a tragically misunderstood and underappreciated president.

And imagine my total shock that the source for 'revisiting' these important questions that were never truly visited in the first place is none other than the leading Republican presidential candidate!

Hell, I'm ready to vote for Trump today!

If only I can get past all the racism, sexism, jingoism, militarism, xenophobia, environmental pillaging and financial plundering, that is.


W kept us safe. Not!

The American public is now able to ask why information about 911 that has been safely bottled up in the "Memory Hole" has at last been uncorked. Can we at least now have a full and accurate discussion of the Project of the New American Century where the signers of that document noted the need for a "Pearl Harbor" incident? Google that document and look at the signers. Then compare that list with key people in the GWB administration.

Is it fair to say that 911 was a "terrorist attack" waiting to happen when all conditions were ripe? A puzzling piece has always been why NORAD could not get a single plane into the air when 4 commercial passenger planes had been hijacked.

Will the media speak now that the memory hole bottle has been uncorked? I doubt it because owners of the media will forbid newscasters to speak.

I think

Even if it comes to light that the attack was allowed to happen because it was the "Pearl Harbor" moment they wanted, Americans as a class will not want to believe that a President could be that callous. Even if he could.  (Sad, but true)


Maybe I just live in an ultra-liberal section of the USA, but all of us here have been aware of W's shortcomings and crimes almost since the terrorist attack. The news of the ignored terrorist attack memos was common knowledge, as was the phony war on Iraq. Thanks to W and his henchmen, our world today is a far more dangerous place. "He kept us safe" is bs, as there are many, many places in the world where as US citizens we are not safe at all. Anyway, I enjoyed this article. It's always nice to read all the idiocy about W's disastrous White House years in one comforting, accurate rant.

You missed one...

DMG, you missed another "W" failure---his stint as a pilot in the Texas ANG. He was very likely (I cannot prove it, but it surely is true) a shitty pilot, and was taken out of the cockpit as primary pilot and put in the back seat of a T-33 trainer were he could be of no danger to himself or anyone else. Then, to top that failure off, he skipped out on his signed pledge to serve six years in the Air Guard. He just left. He could have, as did other guard members whose work or schooling took them away from their original unit, have transferred to any other Air Guard unit and served out his six years, either as a pilot or not, depending on the unit and their requirements.
But he chose to slither away like the FINK that he was---and still is. He is a failure, as a man, as a president, as a soldier. He lacks courage, integrity, honor, and should have been put in the dock and tried as a war criminal.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tonight's Repug debate

As one reader of the article says, so perfectly--for those who won't have a chance to see it:

I'll sum it up for you.
Reagan, Reagan, guns, guns, Reagan, Reagan, guns, God, corporations good, government bad, Christianity good, Islam bad, Reagan, God, guns, grits....(and repeat from the beginning)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


Ya' gotta' love this guy who has had to invent some new words to express the outrage millions of us are feeling about the ignorance/stupidity/hypocrisy that has turned our world upside down and backwards! I am yellengripin right along with him!

Snorked, Korkled, Shizvitzed, Twacked, and Horvalaken: New Words for New Times

by Jaime O'Neill | October 27, 2015

Sometimes I get so exasperated I reach and exceed the limits of my vocabulary. The daily deluge of deluded dumbfuckery in this country forces me into sputtering, letting loose a stream of all the once-taboo words that now appear so ubiquitously in our movies, but sometimes upset people, nonetheless, when they see them in print.

Take, for instance, a couple days ago when I posted a blog here with the title "That's Fucked Up," employing a word for sexual intercourse that still retains the power, I guess, to offend some people. How six letters or one syllable of sound can get people agitated when the world is imperiled by manmade climate change or by the current epidemic of American stupidity or by hordes of religious fanatics willing to do most anything to a) help bring about the end times, or b) do most anything to attain the martyrdom that will bring them that big virgin bonus awarded in heaven seems like an odd and even deviant measurement on an out-of-whack Offense Meter.

But, be that as it may, the state of human affairs is such that we are all exceeding the language we have for expressing consternation, outrage, astonishment, or disapproval.

I'm always surprised there are still people who can be offended by any of the cuss words we have in English. They've all been used so incessantly that I always think the power has been drained out of them, that they've been worn smooth by overuse. Still, I use them to express my impatience or outrage because the limitations of my own vocabulary don't provide me with any better words than that time-honored lexicon of profanity I learned as a lad. No other words leap to mind when I'm really pissed or frustrated, especially with the American political scene. Few if any words seem even marginally commensurate with the all-too-frequent shittiness of our politicians, especially those on the right.

For instance, what words do we have in the English language sufficient to describe the slimy awfulness of men like Trey Gowdy, Darrell Issa, or Mike Huckabee? Or what word, including any expletive you can think of, would measure up to the general pukiness of women like Ann Coulter, or Alabama Congresswoman Martha Roby, the woman who wanted to know whether Hillary Clinton had gone to bed alone on the night of the Benghazi tragedy?

What word or words can adequately describe the Republican's threat to once again shut down the government if they don't get their way regarding defunding Planned Parenthood?

Where are the language resources that fit the sense of outrage a retired teacher like me can feel after learning that Bristol Palin gets $30,000 a pop for each speaking appearance, and that she was paid nearly three hundred grand to serve as the spokesperson for sexual abstinence and preventing teen pregnancy, despite the fact that she had a child out of wedlock, and currently has another one on the way. The degree of hypocrisy, alone, exceeds the reach of language.

Bristol Palin is a millionaire, though her measurable skills don't seem to go much beyond her ability to get herself knocked up, something any number of people have shown the ability to do, though without then being rewarded for those feats of conception with speaking tours, reality shows, or endorsement deals.

Then there's Paul Ryan, the arrogant guy the not-quite-equally repellent Mitt Romney chose as his VP running mate four years ago, the guy who so reliably draws upon a reservoir of profanity because of his insistent hypocrisy and his determination to ensure that fetuses have more rights than rape victims. His attitudes are so snorked, his persona so shizvitzed, his morality so korkled, his sense of entitlement so twacked, and his corruptibility so horvaled as to require a whole new lexicon of disgust and disdain.

There are many such motherfuckers whose names could be listed in this context, men who are doing all they can to expand the English language, to make us go where few have gone before to describe just how flurkinated and kremlack they are.

What adjectives might we find to describe the nitwittery and nonsense spouted by the somnambulant Dr. Ben Carson, a guy who seems to have gone to his medicine cabinet at least a couple of times too often? He's a frikennamen lunatic, if you ask me, though that new adjective I've coined here surely doesn't begin to describe how weird this dude can be. He finds everything from abortion to hangnails to be worse than slavery, and that's well beyond fucked up.

And how about Donald Trump, the guy who wants us to know about his humble beginnings back when his daddy extended a measly million dollar low interest loan to his favorite son. Coming from nowhere and nothing like that, Trump knows how hard it can be for the rest of us to achieve the American Dream, but he wants us to realize that if he could do it, starting from as far back in the pack as he did, we can do it, too, if we're only willing to work hard and not be a bunch of whiny losers who could be rich, too, if we'd only get off our asses and stop expecting something for nothing. When it comes to chutzpah, Trump is utterly horknik. When he says he is just the sloozincesser needed to unite us, you just have to conclude that he's just completely nodlenugger.

Then there are all those Koch whores, the politicians who are owned and operated by the Koch brothers, those sleezivating, corrusculators who are planning to spend nearly a billion bucks to ensure they have their way with us. Take that malevolacking manifestation of mammywhucking malingerer known as Marco Rubio, a guy who gets a munificent amount of money for not showing up for votes in the U.S. Senate, one of the things he's supposed to be doing for that mountain of money he's paid. Instead, this slick son of a bekincisor uses his high profile and high prestige position to further his akinnicken personal ambition.

And when Republicans pass yet another huge tax break for the richest Americans, then follow that up by proposing massive cuts to Social Security, it gets pretty flammincrammen hard to come up with a krevencrakel word to describe the outrage we all should be feeling, the ire we should be screveyellen.

Beyond that, what language is adequate to describe Iowa Republicans, more than half of whom prefer either Ben Carson, Donald Trump, or Ted Cruz to be the nation's next POTUS? How klikenklaggen is that? You got a brain doc who seems sedated, a hair hat who seems to need a head doctor, and a slimebag Canadian weasel who is channeling Joe McCarthy. Beneath that top level of encrusted nogginmushen, you've got a really whiny rich boy who was supposed to walk away with the Republlcan nomination before it was discovered that even as dimervated most Republicans are, they hadn't forgotten what happened the last time one of that moneyated klan got the keys to the car.

Even progressives can create pissengripen. In response to the last piece I wrote about how fucked up things were, one Smirking Chimp progressifier wanted it known that Barack Obama's support of the latest trade agreement provides evidence that this drone loving warmonger wants to eradicate American SOVEREIGNTY. "That," he wrote, "is the truth."

But I would suggest that's not THE truth, but A truth, maybe. There are lots of truths about Obama, and I'm inclined to believe that even the worst ramifaming truth we can dig up on Obama, or Hillary, for that matter, still ain't worth a pile of kunkshic next to what the right wingers have in store for us, or compared to all the bad skinkelwracken they're doing right now in state houses and governor's mansions where they hold office.

It's all just so skozelated that it gives me the kreezlekraylies.

I could go on, but there's only so much I can take before I just have to say "fuck it" until I can recharge my bafingaggin emotional batteries and find a few more new words to express those fatigued fuckin' feelings.

I Love Babies! Here's your laugh for the day!

Crying Florida baby loves Bob Marley Reggae           

but Italian baby loves Led Zeppelin -- go figure! (~.~)

And then there's this adorable little fellow who doesn't know whether to laugh or be terrified when his mother blows her nose:

But my all-time favorite for laughing babies is this one:

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Phil Donahue was interviewed on TV today

Seeing Phil Donahue interviewed this morning and talking about the terrible blunder of the Iraq war made me realize how much he is missed on our TV screens since he was fired by MSNBC for speaking "negatively" about the Cheney-Bush decision to go to war in Iraq.  Chris Matthews (a man I absolutely can't stand!) was a large part of the reason for Phil's being fired.  The big mouth Matthews, who never lets anyone get a word in edgewise, saw Donahue as a threat to Matthews' goal to become the face of MSNBC.  There was also great animosity between Matthews and Keith Olbermann, who was another journalist on MSNBC at the time.  We can see who won in the war of the titans.  Matthews alone remains, having succeeded in shoving both of his perceived competitors off the channel.  I wonder what he has planned for Rachel Maddow, whose popularity on MSNBC has surpassed his.  So far, Rachel has managed to dodge any blows he is sending her way.  I can't understand Why MSNBC keeps Matthews on and pays him over $5 million in salary!  He is an actual embarrassment on the channel, and I refuse to watch him. 

I went online to find some information about Phil Donahue and found a link to the following 2013 interview, which was similar to the interview conducted with him today on CNN.  It is worth watching to remember when we actually had someone on TV telling us the truth.  As Phil said today, the giant corporations who own all of our access to TV news, are in control of what we see and hear.  If anyone deviates from the rules they set down, well....we see what happened to Phil.  Read more about this in the article, The Day That TV News Died, by Chris Hedges, which I've included below.  If you want to see Phil's 2013 interview, go to the following link: 

The Day That TV News Died

Phil Donahue produced the documentary Body of War with Ellen Spiro.

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual — a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq. 

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft — MSNBC's founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war — were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a "difficult public face for NBC in a time of war," the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.

The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system — to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid of self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their "patriotic" roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews — who makes an estimated $5 million a year — did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.

It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. What mattered then and what matters now is likability — known in television and advertising as the Q score — not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.

President Bush, center, pauses during remarks about the Middle East at the State Department on Aug. 14, 2006.

The lie of omission is still a lie. It is what these news celebrities do not mention that exposes their complicity with corporate power. They do not speak about Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, a provision that allows the government to use the military to hold U.S. citizens and strip them of due process. They do not decry the trashing of our most basic civil liberties, allowing acts such as warrantless wiretapping and executive orders for the assassination of U.S. citizens. They do not devote significant time to climate scientists to explain the crisis that is enveloping our planet. They do not confront the reckless assault of the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. They very rarely produce long-form documentaries or news reports on our urban and rural poor, who have been rendered invisible, or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or on corporate corruption on Wall Street. That is not why they are paid. They are paid to stymie meaningful debate. They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation's most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd. They play clips of their television rivals ridiculing them and ridicule their rivals in return. Television news looks as if it was lifted from Rudyard Kipling's portrait of the Bandar-log monkeys in "The Jungle Book." The Bandar-log, considered insane by the other animals in the jungle because of their complete self-absorption, lack of discipline and outsized vanity, chant in unison: "We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true."

When I reached him by phone recently in New York, Donahue said of the pressure the network put on him near the end, "It evolved into an absurdity." He continued: "We were told we had to have two conservatives for every liberal on the show. I was considered a liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone but not Dennis Kucinich. You felt the tremendous fear corporate media had for being on an unpopular side during the ramp-up for a war. And let's not forget that General Electric's biggest customer at the time was Donald Rumsfeld [then the secretary of defense]. Elite media features elite power. No other voices are heard."

Donahue spent four years after leaving MSNBC making the movie documentary "Body of War" with fellow director/producer Ellen Spiro, about the paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. The film, which Donahue funded himself, began when he accompanied Nader to visit Young in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

"Here is this kid lying there whacked on morphine," Donahue said. "His mother, as we are standing by the bed looking down, explained his injuries. 'He is a T-4. The bullet came through the collarbone and exited between the shoulder blades. He is paralyzed from the nipples down.' He was emaciated. His cheekbones were sticking out. He was as white as the sheets he was lying on. He was 24 years old. … I thought, 'People should see this. This is awful.' "

Donahue noted that only a very small percentage of Americans have a close relative who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and an even smaller number make the personal sacrifice of a Tomas Young. "Nobody sees the pain," he said. "The war is sanitized."

"I said, 'Tomas, I want to make a movie that shows the pain, I want to make a movie that shows up close what war really means, but I can't do it without your permission,' " Donahue remembered. "Tomas said, 'I do too.' "

But once again Donahue ran into the corporate monolith: Commercial distributors proved reluctant to pick up the film. Donahue was told that the film, although it had received great critical acclaim, was too depressing and not uplifting. Distributors asked him who would go to see a film about someone in a wheelchair. Donahue managed to get openings in Chicago, Seattle, Palm Springs, New York, Washington and Boston, but the runs were painfully brief.

"I didn't have the money to run full-page ads," he said. "Hollywood often spends more on promotion than it does on the movie. And so we died. What happens now is that peace groups are showing it. We opened the Veterans for Peace convention in Miami. Failure is not unfamiliar to me. And yet, I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute."

Read Chris Hedges' interview with Tomas Young on Truthdig.

Watch Bill Moyers's 2008 interview with Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro about Body of War.

Watch Bill Moyers's 2012 interview with Chris Hedges about his new book, Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt a collaboration with comics artist and journalist Joe Sacco.


Saturday, October 24, 2015

Water is Boiling and the Frog Doesn't Know It. Guess who is the frog?

Oh, the absurdity of it all...

The Water Is Boiling Now And The Frog Doesn't Know It

By Dave Johnson

Thursday's Clinton-bashing hearing in Congress carried with it that "frog in heating water" feeling. The water is boiling and the country is the frog. This is a period where the country has gone crazy.  This has been slowly building since the ascendency of the corporate-funded "conservative movement" and then the presidential election of Ronald Reagan. The 24/7/12/365 drumbeat of corporate/conservative propaganda started then. The intentional defunding of government started then. The refusal to maintain our infrastructure started then. The continuing trade deficit that has drained our economy of jobs started then. The "volunteer army" perpetual-war machine got revved up then. The privatization of publicly held wealth started then. The collapse of the middle class started then. So many things started going wrong then. And after a slow, decades-long buildup, the country is threatening to collapse like an unmaintained bridge.

The planet is heating (the strongest western-hemisphere hurricane ever is heading toward Mexico as I write this). We are on the verge of a debt-ceiling crisis that could throw the world into something far worse than 2008 or the 1930s Depression. The corporate/conservative/billionaire money is flowing so freely into elections that almost all of the Republican candidates voice the concerns of the billionaires funding their campaigns and don't say a word about what the public needs. No wonder Republicans have turned to Donald Trump.

"Were You Alone All Night?"

The gerrymandered-into-office Republican Congress is completely dysfunctional for governing, and instead of addressing the country's problems we got this: An 11-hour long hearing asking a former first lady, senator and Secretary of State, "Were you alone all night?"

What the country experienced Thursday is SO FAR from any kind of normal, reasonable operation of a Congress or a country that I can't believe it could even happen. The Republicans have fallen SO FAR down into a hole of their own propaganda machine that reality is lost completely for them.

But it's like the alcoholic in the family that no one dares talk about. The elite pundit and news media class is so mired in a "both sides do it," and their careers are so tied to boosting Republican corporatism, that they can not scream about the situation.

Systemic collapse builds slowly and then happens very quickly. The water is boiling rapidly now. It's clearly a question of when, not if.


Friday, October 23, 2015

The Ellen Show: Amy and Andy in the Walking Dead Haunted House

What a riot!  TOO FUNNY!  A laugh every second...but glad it wasn't me making this trip (~.~)
Happy Halloween!!!  Enjoy the fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Benghazi hearing is over

"No hearing should be conducted in this way.  It was really embarrassing what the Republicans did here today."  -- John Dean  (And who would know better than this Nixon-era Republican who has had more than his taste of hearings in his own life?)

I watched most of today's hearing and applaud Hillary Clinton for keeping her cool and showing how Presidential she can be.  The Republicans did her a favor, albeit in an unintended backwards manner, by baiting and bullying her throughout the day (and even in conducting this hearing at all).  In getting the viewer to empathize with Clinton, they no doubt earned her many more votes for the presidential election than she would have had before -- from voters in both parties. 

Except, of course, for those who listen to Fox news to learn what happened according to the right wing perception.  Over there in the Bubble World, they were treated to an ALERT--ALERT--ALERT ribbon constantly appearing on screen as the hearing continued. That's par for the course at Fox, where EVERYTHING is either an ALERT!!! or a BREAKING NEWS!!!!  Evidently, Fox viewers are not thought of as intelligent enough to know when something in the news is important.  They must be urged to pay attention with big bold warnings--constantly, continuously.  The after-the-hearing reports from their journalists were the exact opposite of what everyone else in the world was hearing from reporters.  But if they stay with their heads buried in the right wing sand dunes and don't read any other mainstream news, they can effectively keep from finding out what really happened.

As chairman of the committee Trey Gowdy said in an interview after the 11-hour marathon hearing was finally over, "We didn't really learn anything new."  Yes. True.  In all the other investigations and hearings into Benghazi, with all the information collected over the past 17 months, it appears there was nothing new to emerge from this almost 5 million dollar debacle (paid for by us, the taxpayers, thank you very much).  But we the people do owe gratitude to Gowdy and his cohorts who persistently and obnoxiously questioned Clinton in loud, shouting voices filled with frustration because they weren't getting the "Gotcha!" they were going for.  In the process of their contemptible hammering at her, they garnered sympathy and support for Hillary--and that is sure to translate into votes for her presidential run. 

Yes, they were offensive and insufferable in their witch hunt tactics against her.  But the tables were turned on them as she maintained her cool and showed her presidential disposition and extreme intelligence. She and the Democrats on the committee showed class -- and the Repugs looked like low lives in contrast. 

Fox viewers will not agree, but we have to remember that they are daily exposed to much lower intelligence standards in the ways they are manipulated by Murdoch and company.

Just my opinion, of course. But I think Clinton will end up being President -- and she can thank the Repugs conducting this hearing for giving her a great big boost in that direction.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Encouraging article about Bernie Sanders and the conservatives

I think most conservatives are actually not aware that they are voting against their own interests when they cast Republican votes.  If they listen only to Fox and Limbaugh and other right wing water carriers for the Republican Tea Party, they are not getting the truth -- but they don't realize it.  This article talks about conservative voters who are beginning to listen to Bernie Sanders and recognize that he honestly, sincerely wants to help them and their families. What a concept.  A man running for President who really cares for the people.  His authenticity is winning over new converts every day.  He's got my vote! 

Some conservatives are FEELING THE BERN

This story first appeared at the Washington Spectator.

Nate Silver has the Bernie Sanders campaign figured out. Ignore what happens in Iowa and New Hampshire, the "data-driven" prognostication wizard wrote back in July, when Sanders was polling a healthy 30 percent to Clinton's 46 percent in both contests. That's only, Silver says, because "Democratic caucus-goers in Iowa and Democratic primary voters in New Hampshire are liberal and white, and that's the core of Sanders' support."

Silver has a chart. It shows that when you multiply the number of liberals and whites among state electorates, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa rank first, second, and third. Texas is near the bottom—a place where Bernie Sanders should feel about as welcome as a La Raza convention at the Alamo, right?

I have a new friend who begs to differ.

It's July 20, and my airplane seat mate asks what brought me to Texas. He is a construction company sales executive from Houston. He's watching Fox News on his cell phone. He tells me he considers himself a conservative. I tell him I'm a political reporter covering the Bernie Sanders campaign. He perks up: "I like what I've heard from him. Kind of middle of the road."

Eleven days later, I'm at a Bernie Sanders house party in the depressed steel town of Griffith, Indiana, in a state that places in the bottom quartile on Silver's chart. I approach a young man in his twenties wearing a thrift store T-shirt. I ask him what brings him here tonight.

"I'm just helping out my friends because they asked me to help out," he tells me. He adds that he's a conservative: "But I approve of some of the stuff that Bernie stands for. Like appealing to more than just the one percent and just trying to give everybody a leg up who's needing it these days." Data-driven analysis is only as good as the categories by which you sift the information. If you've already decided that "liberals" are the people who prefer locally sourced arugula to eating at McDonald's, or are the people who don't watch Fox News, it is a reasonable conclusion that there aren't enough "liberals" out there to elect Bernie Sanders. Yet political categories shift. One of the things the best politicians do is work to shift them.

Sanders has been extraordinarily clear about the kind of shift he'd like to effect: Republicans "divide people on gay marriage. They divide people on abortion. They divide people on immigration. And what my job is, and it's not just in blue states. . . [is] to bring working people together around an economic agenda that works. People are sick and tired of establishment politics; they are sick and tired of a politics in which candidates continue to represent the rich and the powerful."

The theory that economic populism unites voters is hardly new. Lyndon Johnson, in New Orleans and about to lose the South to Barry Goldwater in 1964, expressed it in one of the most remarkable campaign speeches in history. A Southern Democratic politician was on his deathbed, Johnson said. "He was talking about the economy and what a great future we could have in the South, if we could just meet our economic problems. . . 'I would like to go back down there and make them one more Democratic speech. I just feel like I have one in me. The poor old state, they haven't heard a Democratic speech in 30 years. All they ever hear at election time is nigger! nigger! nigger!'"

The theory suggests that when upwards of 60 percent of voters consistently agree that rich people should have their taxes raised, a candidate who promises to do so might be identified as what he actually is: middle of the road. That if Democrats give Democratic speeches on economic issues, voters suckered into Republicanism by refrains like Jihad! Jihad! Jihad! just might try something else. And that new voters might be attracted into politics if they could just hear a candidate cut to the radical quick of the actual problems that are ruining their lives. My new Republican friends didn't know they were not "supposed" to like a "liberal" like Bernie Sanders. Then they heard what he was saying, and liked what they heard. How many are there like them? That's what I've been trying to begin to find out.

A populist moment in Dallas

Dallas is Dallas. At Love Field, a middle-aged woman sports a "Mrs." T-shirt—1970s-style antifeminist trolling. I pass the Dallas Country Club, which made news last year for admitting its first black member after he spent 13 years on a waiting list. The Holocaust Museum features a "Ground Zero 360: Never Forget" exhibit on 9/11. (Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!)

Hillary Clinton had recently been to Texas. She did a fundraiser here in a gated community where guests were told the address only after delivering their $2,700 checks. For nationally prominent Democrats, one of the donors complained, "All Texas is to anyone is a stop to pick up money."

Not all nationally prominent Democrats. When I talk with a bunch of old hippies after an afternoon Sanders rally at a downtown convention center in Dallas, their minds are blown. Long-haired Zen Biasco is a professional "creativity teacher"; Morris Fried first picketed against apartheid in 1965. The only non-Jew in the group, and the only native Southerner, explains Texas politics: "The states that came up throughout the plantation economy did not really believe" in democracy. "It was the elites running things, and basically the GOP here in the South, especially in Texas, has inherited that basis of understanding. In Texas we are not
necessarily a red state. We are a non-voting state."

These are the people you'd see at any lefty rally anywhere. But this lefty rally was unlike any they've seen in their adopted hometown. "I'm shocked at such a draw on a Sunday afternoon!" one offers. "I'm shocked at all the young people in this crowd!"

Before Sanders began speaking, I had spoken to two of those young people, a married couple, who represent a liberal holy grail: kids who had grown up conservative—Mormons!—and reasoned their way to the left. "Thanks to people like Bernie," as one put it. They try to spread the gospel to professional circles saturated with Republicans and to their families back home.

The husband unspools a splendid version of the Sanders argument:

"I don't think the values of those communities are really represented in their politics, family values, the ideology they profess to have. . . doesn't match up with the words or things [the politicians they align themselves with] actually represent. I don't think people realize that if they actually were for family values, and were for the working family, that Republican policies are not going to move you closer."

Sanders on the stump

The speech begins. I've rarely heard one more electric. Bernie gets to the part about how America could increase its competitiveness and move toward full employment by spending a trillion dollars rebuilding bridges and roads, and a fashionably dressed young woman next to me with a swallow tattoo on her wrist cries out like a cheerleader.


The senator follows with a disquisition about the Sherman Act.

"ANTI-TRUSSSSTTT!" she shouts.

When he gets to reinstating the Glass-Steagell act, she lets out a "WHOOOOOOOO!"

At the 21-minute mark comes something extraordinary. After a reverberating ovation for a call for pay equity for women, a promise to fight for 12 weeks of paid family leave, and an excoriation of the fact that "the American people work more hours than any other major country on Earth." Then the senator announces his marquee platform plank.

"To make every public college and university tuition-free."

The crowd's response is so ecstatic it overdrives my tape recorder. It continues into a chant: "BERNIE! BERNIE! BERNIE! BERNIE!"

And when the show ends, a crowd in a nearly post-coital mood of sated exhilaration doesn't want to leave, doesn't leave, until Bernie returns to to the podium for something I've never witnessed at a political event, an encore, and announces that the crowd numbered 6,000.

I followed the campaign that evening to the University of Houston, where he got the same thunderous reception before 5,200 college students. Both events got prominent play in the local media, where hundreds of thousands of Texans heard heretical ideas that they might not have read in their newspapers before: like raising taxes on the rich isn't crazy, even if 62 percent of Americans agree.

Some things polls have a hard time recording. They may miss kids like these, who only carry cell phones, as pollsters rely mostly on landlines. Or the intensity of support, how many people are willing to knock on doors for a candidate. And, last but very much not least, novel issues and how constituencies respond to them.

In 1965, for instance, when he began running for governor, Ronald Reagan made the focal point of his speeches the student uprising at Berkeley. His consultants told him to knock it off because it wasn't showing up in their polls as a public concern. Reagan ignored them, reading the response of crowds that didn't yet think that students tearing up their college campuses was a "political issue" to bring up when pollsters called.

Similarly, in the late 1970s, when the Equal Rights Amendment began failing in state after state though polls showed it had majority support, a sociologist named Ruth Murray Brown polled anti-ERA women activists in North Carolina and found that more than half of them had never participated in politics before. The pundits didn't know how to count what they didn't know was out there

Rust belt populism

That's what I thought of when I met Gypsy and David Milenic, whose front lawn had hosted that house party on July 30. I had read an interview with Sanders in which he said the campaign was hosting these parties around the country, which he would address via a live video feed. I chose one as far afield as possible from the places where "liberals" are supposed to congregate. Ten miles past a creationist museum billboard on I-90, there was no arugula, but there were crackers, pretzels, and store-bought gingersnaps. Griffith, Indiana, population 16,619, has a per capita income of $21,866.

"My history of political volunteering is that this is the first political volunteering I have done," Gypsy tells me, taking a break from directing traffic and packing her two small children off to grandma's. "But, to be honest, Bernie is the first person who's gotten me out of my chair and out doing things."

From her front porch, she casts her nervous eye over a lawn that keeps filling, and filling, and filling. (In the interview Sanders said the campaign was planning for 30,000 participants across the nation; the final number turned out to be 100,000.)

"This home was paid for by union dues," Gypsy says. "That matters. Keeping it in the family: that matters. Being able to have a small town like this that was a mix of blue-collar and white-collar matters."

At 6:30 a political meeting unfolds unlike any I have ever seen. Bernie is to speak on a live feed at 8:00. David, an accountant, welcomes us, and invites people to stand up and introduce themselves.

A young man who has been busily setting up the AV system volunteers to go first.
"Both my parents together made barely over the poverty line, and I can tell you that life sucks," he begins.

"I have no financial support from my family. I get very little from the government. I am on my own, trying to make it, trying to thrive, just like everybody behind me. And it's hard. And I am currently about 50 grand in debt between student loans, car loans. . . and I am trying so damned hard. And working so damned hard."

The crowd responds with an ovation.

"I see all my friends, and all of my friends who suffer the same way I do, and they can't make ends meet. They work three jobs. . . and they still struggle! And it just burns me. Because it wasn't like this! Now, you go to college for four years and you're in debt 20, 30 years. Sometimes for life. . ."

He trails off. Applause encourages him on. "I want to see change. And I believe Bernie Sanders is the one to do it."

And on it went. For an hour and a half, testimony after testimony after testimony. The issue of student debt dominated. So did the consensus that together they could do something about it.

In Griffith, I met a remarkable black retiree named Martha Harris. Her grandparents were slaves, and she remembers going into hiding at the age of three when her father was run off by the Klan for being "uppity." She had been following the story of Sanders's public encounters with Black Life Matters activists at the Netroots Nation gathering in Phoenix. She just wondered why people were still going on about it. "I saw him flub. And like any white man, his staff put him out there without his underwear on. So he ran home and he got his long johns on. And I'm okay with that. He's learning."

Harris was one of the Sanders supporters who, following that evening in Griffith, set up a storefront Sanders office in Hammond, Indiana. She had recently been a guest on a radio show in Gary, where the African-American population is 85 percent and one third of the houses are abandoned. She was scheduled for a half hour. The response was so enthusiastic the interview went on for an hour and a half.

Among the political class, the discussion of the supposed reverberations that followed Sanders's encounter with Black Lives Matter activists in Phoenix was incessant. That kind of conflict is something the political media knows how to talk about. So they talk about it. What happened on the radio in Gary, not so much.

Responsive politics

The question is, what else is happening that they aren't talking about?

Maybe this. In 2005, MSNBC's Chris Hayes published some remarkable journalism on his experience canvassing for John Kerry in Wisconsin, where voters didn't seem to have any idea that their economic distress was something for which voting could make a difference.

"When I would tell them that Kerry had a plan to lower health-care premiums, they would respond in disbelief—not in disbelief that he had a plan, but that the cost of health care was a political issue," Hayes reported. "It was as if you were telling them that Kerry was promising to extend summer into December."

Hayes wondered what a more responsive Democratic politics would look like.

"One thing that nearly all Americans share is debt." His idea? "Building a movement around credit reform—through the formation of local 'debt clubs' that would be part of a national campaign, for example—would be one way for progressives to reach out to non-believers."

Now "debt clubs" are being formed. They're being formed around the Sanders campaign. I wouldn't argue that this will add up to a presidential nomination. But I've seen enough in places like Dallas, Houston, and on David and Gypsy Milenic's front lawn in Griffith to know that something is happening here, something that reminds us that our existing models for predicting winners and losers in politics need always be subject to revision.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

TRUTH: A movie must-see!

Finally, in a movie entitled TRUTH, real truth is being told about the fall of Dan Rather and how absolute power often controls what we are allowed to see and hear, keeping truth away from us.  In Machiavellian manipulation, presidents are chosen for us (Bush/Cheney) while we the people and our supposed watchdogs in the fourth estate sleep at the switch. 

At the same time that Kerry was being swift-boated in lies, facts were being discovered about Dubya Bush's non-appearances for military duty during the Vietnam years. Dubya's powerful "Poppy" and friends arranged things so Dubya didn't have to actually fight in the war and instead was given a plush position
stateside in the National Guard. But Dubya, in fits-and-starts appearances, eventually didn't see the need to show up at all.  He avoided service almost completely and suffered no punishment.  The powers that be couldn't allow that truthful information to come out, especially when they were looking forward to another four years of control in the Cheney/Bush presidency.  (Amazing, isn't it, how that presidency was forced on us, even though they were really never voted in by the populace?)

And so...they arranged to destroy the messengers, Dan Rather and his producer/investigator Mary Mapes (just as in the movie "Killing the Messenger,"which told about investigative reporter Gary Webb, who was defamed and his career destroyed because his story "Dark Alliance," of CIA involvement in bringing crack-cocaine to the LA inner city, contained too much truth. Can't have that kind of information getting out to the public. Gary, who persisted in telling the truth about what his investigations showed, died of "suicide" in 2004, with TWO bullet wounds to his head).

The powers that be (read: Bush family and powerful friends in high places, journalistically and otherwise) succeeded in defaming Dan Rather and destroying his career and that of Mary Mapes, even though those two brave journalists were reporting truth about Dubya's dodging military duty.  This movie tells that story, with Cate Blanchette as Mary Mapes and Robert Redford as Dan Rather. 

Read the following reviews of the movie and decide for yourself if it is something you will want to see. Right wingers of the Tea Party type will want to avoid it -- actual truth is not on their agenda.  As one reviewer summed it up:

In the end, "Truth" is not unlike a veteran news program—solidly made, interesting, and worthy of sparking discussion, whether you agree with its political bent or not. It encourages people to start talking about the purpose of journalism, and seeing the greater picture. If it's not too late to do so.  (What a sad last comment--so true.  Read the book "Into the Buzzsaw" if you don't believe me.)