Thursday, March 31, 2016


Why The Major Media Marginalize Bernie
Robert Reich's picture
by Robert Reich | March 31, 2016 - 9:45am

This is an excellent assessment by the well-respected, clear-seeing former Secretary of Labor. We have to stop listening to the pundits and begin to believe Bernie is conducting a growing revolutionary movement, about which the establishment media are totally unprepared to report.

Bernie and his supporters are in the midst of upending the political scene in a positive way in this country.  He is showing us a way out of the oligarchy that has replaced democracy here, to a more equitable life for all members of the social strata. Trump is doing the same in a negative way, but he is a brutal demagogue who is leading his supporters to ruthless fascism.

Bolding and underlining in Reich's essay are mine.

— from Robert Reich's Blog

"Bernie did well last weekend but he can't possibly win the nomination," a friend told me for what seemed like the thousandth time, attaching an article from the Washington Post that shows how far behind Bernie remains in delegates.

Wait a minute. Last Tuesday, Sanders won 78 percent of the vote in Idaho and 79 percent in Utah. This past Saturday, he took 82 percent of the vote in Alaska, 73 percent in Washington, and 70 percent in Hawaii.

In fact, since March 15, Bernie has won six out of the seven Democratic primary contests with an average margin of victory of 40 points. Those victories have given him roughly a one hundred additional pledged delegates.

As of now, Hillary Clinton has 54.9 percent of the pledged delegates to Bernie Sanders's 45.1 percent.That's still a sizable gap – but it doesn't make Bernie an impossibility.

Moreover, there are 22 states to go with nearly 45 percent of pledged delegates still up for grabs – and Bernie has positive momentum in almost all of them.

Hillary Clinton's lead in superdelegates will vanish if Bernie gains a majority of pledged delegates.

Bernie is outpacing Hillary Clinton in fundraising. In February, he raised $42 million (from 1.4 million contributions, averaging $30 each), compared to her $30 million. In January he raised $20 million to her $15 million.

By any measure, the enthusiasm for Bernie is huge and keeps growing. He's packing stadiums, young people are flocking to volunteer, support is rising among the middle-aged and boomers.

In Idaho and Alaska he exceeded the record primary turnout in 2008, bringing thousands of new voters. He did the same thing in Colorado, Kansas, Maine, and Michigan as well.

Yet if you read the Washington Post or the New York Times, or watch CNN or even MSNBC, or listen to the major pollsters and pundits, you'd come to the same conclusion as my friend. Every success by Bernie is met with a story or column or talking head whose message is "but he can't possibly win."

Some Sanders supporters speak in dark tones about a media conspiracy against Bernie. That's baloney. The mainstream media are incapable of conspiring with anyone or anything. They wouldn't dare try. Their reputations are on the line. If the public stops trusting them, their brands are worth nothing.

The real reason the major media can't see what's happening is because the national media exist inside the bubble of establishment politics, centered in Washington, and the bubble of establishment power, centered in New York.

As such, the major national media are interested mainly in personalities and in the money behind the personalities. Political reporting is dominated by stories about the quirks and foibles of the candidates, and about the people and resources behind them.

Within this frame of reference, it seems nonsensical that a 74-year-old Jew from Vermont, originally from Brooklyn, who calls himself a Democratic socialist, who's not a Democratic insider and wasn't even a member of the Democratic Party until recently, who has never been a fixture in the Washington or Manhattan circles of power and influence, and who has no major backers among the political or corporate or Wall Street elites of America, could possibly win the nomination.

But precisely because the major media are habituated to paying attention to personalities, they haven't been attending to Bernie's message – or to its resonance among Democratic and independent voters (as well as many Republicans). The major media don't know how to report on movements.

In addition, because the major media depend on the wealthy and powerful for revenues, because their reporters and columnists rely on the establishment for news and access, because their top media personalities socialize with the rich and powerful and are themselves rich and powerful, and because their publishers and senior executives are themselves part of the establishment, the major media have come to see much of America through the eyes of the establishment.

So it's understandable, even if unjustifiable, that the major media haven't noticed how determined Americans are to reverse the increasing concentration of wealth and political power that have been eroding our economy and democracy. And it's understandable, even if unjustifiable, that they continue to marginalize Bernie Sanders.

About author ROBERT B. REICH, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, was Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration. Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written thirteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock" and "The Work of Nations." His latest, "Beyond Outrage," is now out in paperback. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine and chairman of Common Cause. His new film, "Inequality for All," is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD, and On Demand.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Duh! Privileged Glimpse into the Obvious category

Seven Years Late, Media Elites Finally Acknowledge GOP's Radical Ways
by Eric Boehlert | March 30, 2016

— from Media Matters

Now they tell us the Republican Party is to blame? That the Obama years haven't been gummed up by GOP obstruction?

The truth is, anyone with clear vision recognized a long time ago that the GOP has transformed itself since 2009 into an increasingly radical political party, one built on complete and total obstruction. It's a party designed to make governing difficult, if not impossible, and one that plotted seven years ago to shred decades of Beltway protocol and oppose every inch of Obama's two terms. ("If he was for it, we had to be against it," former Republican Ohio Sen. George Voinovich once explained.)

And for some of us, it didn't take Donald Trump's careening campaign to confirm the destructive state of the GOP. But if it's the Trump circus that finally opens some pundits' eyes, so be it.

Recently, Dan Balz, the senior political writer for the Washington Post, seemed to do just that while surveying the unfolding GOP wreckage as the party splinters over Trump's rise. Balz specifically noted that four years ago political scholars Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein examined the breakdown in American politics and zeroed in their blame squarely on Republicans.

"They were ahead of others in describing the underlying causes of polarization as asymmetrical, with the Republican Party -- in particular its most hard-line faction -- as deserving of far more of the blame for the breakdown in governing," Balz acknowledged.

"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional," Mann and Ornstein wrote in The Washington Post in 2012. "In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party."

They continued:

    The GOP has become an insurgent outlier in American politics. It is ideologically extreme; scornful of compromise; unmoved by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition.

Tough stuff.

And what was the Beltway media's response when Ornstein and Mann squarely blamed Republicans during an election year for purposefully making governing impossible? Media elites suddenly lost Mann and Ornstein's number, as the duo's television appearances and calls for quotes quickly dried up. So did much of the media's interest in Mann and Ornstein's prescient book.

"This was far too much for the mainstream press," noted New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen. "They couldn't assimilate what Mann and Ornstein said AND maintain routines and assumptions that posited a rough symmetry between the two parties. ('Both sides do it.') It was too much dissonance. Too much wreckage. So they pushed it away."

For anyone who still harbors the naïve notion that the political debates staged by the Beltway press represent freewheeling discussions where anything goes, the Mann/Ornstein episode helped shed some light on the fact that certain topics and analysis remain off limits for public debate for years -- even topics that are accurate, fair and essential to understanding our government's current dysfunction.

Mann and Ornstein stepped forward to accurately describe what was happening to the Republican Party and detailed the calamitous effect it had on our democracy, and the mainstream media turned away.

So committed was the pundit class to maintaining its safe narrative about "bipartisan gridlock" and Obama's puzzling inability to find "middle ground" with Republicans (i.e. why doesn't he just schmooze more?), the press was willing to ignore Mann and Ornstein's solid, scholarly research in order to wish the problem away.

Quite predictably, that problem has only worsened since 2012, which is what Mann and Ornstein address in their latest offering, "It's Even Worse Than It Was."

"It is the radicalization of the Republican party," they recently wrote, "that has been the most significant and consequential change in American politics in recent decades."

"The radicalization of the Republican party" -- talk about the topic the Beltway press simply doesn't want to dwell on, let alone acknowledge. Instead, the press has clung to its preferred narrative about how the GOP is filled with honest brokers who are waiting to work in good faith with the White House. Eager to maintain a political symmetry in which both sides are responsible for sparking conflict (i.e. center-right Republicans vs. center-left Democrats), the press effectively gave Republicans a pass and pretended their radical, obstructionist ways represented normal partisan pursuits. (They didn't.)

Today's Republican Party is acting in a way that defies all historic norms. We saw it with the GOP's gun law obstruction, the Violence Against Women Act obstruction, the sequester obstruction, Supreme Court obstruction, minimum wage obstruction, 9/11 first responder obstruction, government shutdown obstruction, immigration reform obstruction, Chuck Hagel's confirmation obstruction, Susan Rice secretary of state obstruction, paid leave obstruction, Hurricane Sandy emergency relief obstruction, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act obstruction, and the consistent obstruction of judicial nominees.

The 2014 obstruction of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act was especially galling, as a single Republican senator blocked a vote on the crucial veterans bill.

At the time of the bill's blockade, Media Matters noted that there was virtually no coverage of the radical obstructionism on CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC or PBS, as well as news blackouts in the nation's six largest newspapers: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, and Chicago Tribune

In other words, the GOP's radical brand of obstructionism not only doesn't get highlighted as something notable, radical, and dangerous; it's often met with a collective shrug as the press pretends these kind of nonstop impediments are commonplace.

As Obama works his way through his final year in office, at least pundits like Balz are highlighting that Mann and Ornstein (and yes, Media Matters) were right about the GOP and the asymmetrical blame the party deserves for trying to wreck our functioning government.

It's never too late for truth telling.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Susan Sarandon -- Ya' gotta' love her for not wanting Clinton...BUT...

But I wouldn't go so far as to say that if Clinton is the Dem candidate, I would vote for Trump!  :-( I understand Susan's thinking on it -- with a disaster like Trump in power, the revolution would probably take place faster for change  ("OMG!  Look what he's doing Now! Get RID of him as fast as we can!!!!")  But would Trump start a nuclear war before he could be gotten rid of???  Who wants to take that chance???  And what about climate change??? And women's rights???  I think Susan had better rethink this voting strategy...  We would have to hold our noses and vote for Clinton if she is the Dem candidate and brace ourselves for more of the same old, same old until the next round.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Essay of Wisdom from Chris Hedges

The following essay by Chris Hedges speaks a profound spiritual truth that our world does not yet appear to be ready for. Unfortunately. On Earth, we are still in the Old Testament era of "an eye for an eye" and have not yet graduated to the New Testament message: "Love your neighbor as yourself."  We can only hope and pray for a better future in which our children and grandchildren may live in a better world, where the deepest spiritual understanding is honored and practiced. That will be a world beyond divisive religions with their authoritarian figureheads who preach against the teachings of their own founders. 

We are still a planet in nursery school. No wonder we are closely guarded by more advanced civilizations, to keep us from expanding our warlike ways into the galaxy.  In our basic ignorance, we are ruining our planet's atmosphere and ecological systems that sustain us.  What stupidity. And it is all based on greed and lust for power. In gathering riches and power, the elite on this planet have forgotten Christ's admonition about the rich man and his fate:  "It is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle."

Here is Chris Hedges' latest essay, speaking to what Abraham Lincoln called "the better angels of our nature."  For the sake of future generations, we must start somewhere to change the consciousness on our little blue marble planet out here in the edges of a small galaxy called the Milky Way.  For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, this essay, much like Mark Twain's 1904 "War Prayer," was heartfeltly composed:   (To read "War Prayer," go to: )

By Chris Hedges 

Revenge is the psychological engine of war. Victims are the blood currency. Their corpses are used to sanctify acts of indiscriminate murder. Those defined as the enemy and targeted for slaughter are rendered inhuman. They are not worthy of empathy or justice. Pity and grief are felt exclusively for our own. We vow to eradicate a dehumanized mass that embodies absolute evil. The maimed and dead in Brussels or Paris and the maimed and dead in Raqqa or Sirte perpetuate the same dark lusts. We all are the Islamic State.

"From violence only violence is born," Primo Levi wrote, "following a pendular action that, as time goes by, rather than dying down, becomes more frenzied."

The tit-for-tat game of killing will not end until exhaustion, until the culture of death breaks us emotionally and physically. We use our drones, warplanes, missiles and artillery to rip apart walls and ceilings, blow out windows and kill or wound those inside. Our enemies pack peroxide-based explosives in suitcases or suicide vests and walk into airport terminals, concert halls, cafes or subways and blow us up, often along with themselves. If they had our technology of death they would do it more efficiently. But they do not. Their tactics are cruder, but morally they are the same as us. T.E. Lawrence called this cycle of violence "the rings of sorrow."

The Christian religion embraces the concept of "holy war" as fanatically as Islam does. Our Crusades are matched by the concept of jihad. Once religion is used to sanctify murder there are no rules. It is a battle between light and dark, good and evil, Satan and God. Rational discourse is banished. And "the sleep of reason," as Goya said, "brings forth monsters."

Flags, patriotic songs, a deification of the warrior and sentimental drivel drown out reality. We communicate in empty clichés and mindless, patriotic absurdities. Mass culture is used to reinforce the lie that we are the true victims. It re-creates the past to conform to the national heroic myth. We alone are said to possess virtue and courage. We alone have the right to revenge. We are hypnotized into a communal somnolence, a state-induced blindness.

Those we fight, lacking our industrial machines of death, kill up close. But killing remotely does not make us less morally deformed. Long-distance killing, epitomized by drone operators at Air Force bases within the United States who go home for dinner, is as depraved. These technicians make the vast machinery of death operate with a terrifying clinical sterility. They depersonalize industrial war. They are the "little Eichmanns." This organized bureaucracy of killing is the most enduring legacy of the Holocaust.

"The mechanized, rational, impersonal, and sustained mass destruction of human beings, organized and administered by states, legitimized and set into motion by scientists and jurists, sanctioned and popularized by academics and intellectuals, has become a staple of our civilization, the last, perilous, and often repressed heritage of the millennium," Omer Bartov wrote in "Murder in Our Midst: The Holocaust, Industrial Killing and Representation."

We torture kidnapped captives, many held for years, in black sites. We carry out "targeted assassinations" of so-called high-value targets. We abolish civil liberties. We drive millions of families from their homes. Those who oppose us do the same. They torture and behead—replicating the execution style of the Christian Crusaders—with their own brand of savagery. They rule as despots. Pain for pain. Blood for blood. Horror for horror. There is a fearsome symmetry to the madness. It is justified by the same religious perversion. It is the same abandonment of what it means to be humane and just.

As psychologist Rollo May wrote:

    At the outset of every war … we hastily transform our enemy into the image of the daemonic; and then, since it is the devil we are fighting, we can shift onto a war footing without asking ourselves all the troublesome and spiritual questions that the war arouses. We no longer have to face the realization that those we are killing are persons like ourselves.

The killing and torture, the more they endure, contaminate the perpetrators and the society that condones their actions. They sever the professional inquisitors and killers from the capacity to feel. They feed the death instinct. They expand the moral injury of war.

Twenty-two veterans of U.S. military service commit suicide every day. They do it without an explosives belt. But they share, with suicide bombers, the overpowering urge to be rid of the world and the sordid role they had in it.

"It is better to suffer certain injustices than to commit them," Albert Camus, like Immanuel Kant, understood. But the politicians, pundits and mass culture dismiss such wisdom as weakness. Those who speak with sanity, like Euripides when he produced his anti-war masterpiece "The Trojan Women," are reviled and banished.

Who are we to condemn the indiscriminate murder of civilians? Have we forgotten our bombing of German and Japanese cities in World War II that left 800,000 civilian women, children and men dead? What about those families we obliterated in Dresden (135,000 dead), Tokyo (97,000 dead), Hiroshima (80,000 dead) and Nagasaki (66,000 dead)? What about the 3 million civilian dead we left behind in Vietnam?

We dropped 32 tons of bombs per hour on North Vietnam between 1965 and 1968—hundreds of Hiroshimas. And, as Nick Turse writes in his book "Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam," this tonnage does not count the "millions of gallons of chemical defoliants, millions of pounds of chemical gases, and endless canisters of napalm; cluster bombs, high-explosive shells, and daisy-cutter bombs that obliterated everything within a ten-football-field diameter; antipersonnel rockets, high-explosive rockets, incendiary rockets, grenades by the millions, and myriad different kinds of mines."

Have we forgotten the millions who died in our wars and proxy wars in the Philippines, Congo, Laos, Cambodia, Guatemala, Indonesia, El Salvador and Nicaragua? Have we forgotten the 1 million dead in Iraq and the 92,000 dead in Afghanistan? Have we forgotten the nearly 8 million people we have driven from their homes in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria?

There have been 87,000 coalition sorties over Iraq and Syria since the air campaign against Islamic State began. This is the newest chapter in our endless war against the wretched of the earth.

How can we rise up in indignation over Islamic State's destruction of cultural monuments such as Palmyra when we have left so many in ruins? As Frederick Taylor points out in his book "Dresden," during the World War II bombing of Germany we destroyed countless "churches, palaces, historic buildings, libraries, museums," including "Goethe's house in Frankfurt" and "the bones of Charlemagne from Aechen cathedral" along with "the irreplaceable contents of the four-hundred-year-old State Library in Munich." Does anyone remember that in a single week of bombing during the Vietnam War we obliterated most of that country's historic My Son temple complex? Have we forgotten that our invasion of Iraq led to the burning of the National Library, the looting of the National Museum and the construction of a military base on the site of the ancient city of Babylon? Thousands of archeological sites have been destroyed because of the wars we spawned in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.

We perfected the technique of aerial mass murder and wholesale destruction that we call "carpet bombing," "saturation bombing," "area bombing," "obliteration bombing," "mass bombing" or, in its latest version, "shock and awe." We created, through our national wealth, the managerial systems and technology that the sociologist James William Gibson calls "technowar." What were the attacks of 9/11 but an answer to the explosions and death we inflicted on towns and cities around the globe? Our attackers spoke to us in the demented language we taught them. They, like the attackers in Paris and Brussels, knew exactly how we communicate.

The merchants of death, the arms manufacturers, are among the few who profit. Most of the rest of us are caught in a cycle of violence that will not cease until we end the U.S. occupation of the Middle East, until we learn to speak in a language other than the primitive howl of war, death and annihilation. We will recover a humane language when we have had enough, when there are too many of our own dead for us to sustain the game. The victims will continue to be mostly innocents, trapped between killers that come from the same womb.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

LaPorsha Renae -- the new American Idol -- Incredible singer/performer

This girl is THE BEST American Idol contestant EVER.  She will definitely become the American Idol in this, its last season -- taking it out with a BANG.  I watch her every week and find it hard to believe that she just walked in off the street (so to speak) -- no previous experience...just likes to sing and has been singing since she was  6 years old.  She is perfection as a performer and singer, with no training whatsoever.  This girl was born to be a star!  An Aretha Franklin/Tina Turner combined!

LaPorsha doing "Proud Mary":

With Fantasia - doing "Summertime"

Singing "Halo":

Singing "Diamonds": 
Kelly Clarkson was one of the judges this week -- and was overwhelmed by  LaPorsha -- and so was the audience.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Slow-Motion Implosion of the Republican Party

For seven years, the GOP establishment knowingly and cynically rode the anti-Obama tiger, feeding the beast with a steady diet of red meat.
Now, whatever happens at the Cleveland convention, the party elite may wind up as dinner.  (The most well-deserved karma EVER!)

Excellent article: Donald Trump Triggers a Media Civil War

Donald Trump Triggers a Media Civil War

By Neal Gabler

— from Moyers & Company

If Donald Trump didn't constitute, in this year's favorite word, an existential threat to American democracy, the contortions into which he has thrown the Republican Party, as they simultaneously try to thwart him while espousing his basic policies, would be hilarious.

On the other hand, the contortions into which he has thrown the media are less hilarious, because they ultimately have more bearing on the outcome of the presidential race. What Trump's candidacy has managed to do is reveal fault lines in the media that usually are buried beneath the typical journalistic blather, the group-think, and the feigned objectivity of the mainstream media — and the reflexive lock-step partisanship in the right-wing media. (The liberals, with a pox on both Trump and his GOP rivals, get to sit this one out.)

Thanks to Trump, there are civil wars now erupting within the mainstream media between the business side and the editorial side, and within the right-wing media among the establishment Republicans, the populist renegades, and the so-called moderate, intellectual neo-conservatives. What it really shows is just how craven, self-serving and self-involved our media are.

Let's begin with the MSM. As I wrote here several weeks back, CBS head Les Moonves was mercenary enough to crow over how much money Trump coverage was pouring into his network's coffers. Trump is a veritable gold-mine, which is one reason why the media have given him so much free coverage — by one account $1.9 billion worth, which is nearly two-and-a-half times as much as the next highest candidate, Hillary Clinton, and more than five times as much as Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz each.

In his inaugural column as the late David Carr's successor, The New York Times' new media maven, Jim Rutenberg, examined just how big a stake the media have in Trump — especially CNN, which was nearly on life support before Trump applied CPR. So far during this campaign, Rutenberg writes, CNN's prime-time ratings have soared 170%, and CNN head Jeff Zucker boasted to Rutenberg that on debate nights the network gets $200,000 for a thirty-second ad. This gives Trump a tremendous amount of leverage, and he isn't afraid to use it to make sure he is treated respectfully. I can't recall a situation in which a network was so dependent on a candidate. Usually, it's the other way around.

CNN is so fawning to Trump it's embarrassing, and its primary night coverage a disgrace. Sitting at desks are representatives for all the candidates, each given equal weight, with every Trump criticism parried by the Trump supporter, lest the network lose Trump's favor. Anderson Cooper might as well be Trump's apprentice for all the steely journalistic probing he gives him. But at least now you know how cable television news would have treated Hitler were it around in Germany back in the early 30s. (Note to TV execs who still have a conscience, if any exist: Instead of out-of-work, old political operatives and partisan hacks giving us their tired takes on the primary results, why not have political scientists and historians do analysis? Just a thought.)

Yet amid the glut of Trump coverage, here is something that has gotten far too little attention in the media, for obvious reasons. According to Kyle Blaine at BuzzFeed, Trump not only gets uncritical coverage; he has actually negotiated with the networks as to how they shoot his rallies. If you want to know why the press is kept in a pen and not allowed to mingle at Trump events, it is, according to Blaine, because the press conceded that to Trump. They are not even allowed to provide cutaways of the crowd's reaction. Again, I can't recall the press ever capitulating to a candidate in this way, but, then, there was never a candidate who gave the press as much revenue as Trump. Nixon assiduously staged his events; he didn't tell the press how it could cover them. In any case, can you imagine the howls of protest if the media agreed to the same sort of terms with Clinton or Sanders or even Cruz?

Trump coverage is the smoking gun and CNN is the corpse. And yet, again according to Kyle Blaine, there are some in the media who are actually discomfited by the surrender to Trump. As he puts it, "Conversations with more than a dozen reporters, producers, and executives across the major networks reveal internal tensions about the wall-to-wall coverage Trump has received and the degree to which the Republican frontrunner has — or hasn't — been challenged on their air."

But TV reporters are not likely to put their jobs on the line to take on Trump. In the mainstream print media, where the tensions between the public's apparent desire for Trump news (and the desire of papers and magazines to satisfy it) and reporters' disdain for him are in daily full view, there's more of a full-blown war. The Washington Post, to cite one prominent example, runs dozens of Trump stories one after another, but just about every one of those stories is hostile.

Though one can only guess at motives, the difference between the generally lap-dog TV coverage (only this week did Chuck Todd finally demand that Trump no longer literally phone in his appearances on "Meet the Press") and tougher newspaper coverage may reflect several things: that print journalism, as the late media analyst Neil Postman used to say, is more intellectually engaging than visual journalism; that TV has more at stake financially than print media and is thus more cautious in attacking its golden goose; and that print media feel a moral responsibility that TV doesn't.

From the decades of insipid political reporting we have gotten in magazines and newspapers, you certainly wouldn't guess that last one. But we never had a Trump before either — or, for that matter, a Ted Cruz — as a major party candidate. Some reporters, and a whole lot of pundits, evidently don't want to take responsibility for sitting back and seeing him elected president.

Finally, for all the tensions between money and duty, and between irresponsibility and responsibility in the mainstream media, it is the conservative media that Trump has really discombobulated. Just look at Fox News, which is basically the propaganda arm of the Republican Party. On the one hand, you have the network lashing out at Trump and his "sick obsession" with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, even though Trump has clearly boosted the ratings. On the other hand, you have Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly serving as major facilitators for Trump, and the network, by one count, mentioning Trump 25,000 times in the past month. Put another way, you have Ailes speaking for the GOP establishment, of which he is a member in good standing, and Hannity and O'Reilly speaking for — and to — the angry old white men who seem to comprise Trump's supporters and the bulk of Fox's viewers.

For an even more stark case of right-wing civil war, there is Breitbart, one of whose reporters was assaulted, allegedly by Trump's own campaign manager, which led the Breitbart honchos to come to the defense of… Trump! Ah, those conservatives.

But perhaps the most interesting case of internecine media warfare is that of the "smart" neo-conservatives against the GOP rank and file and the media that speak for them. These folks — the David Brookses, the Ross Douthats, the Michael Gersons, the David Frums — obviously hate Trump, maybe less for ideological or even political reasons than for personal ones. Trump's brand of authoritarian populism is everything these intellectual conservatives have spent their careers telling folks that conservatism wasn't — even though, truth to tell, there was always know-nothing Trumpism lurking within Republicanism.

I was especially taken by Ross Douthat's column last weekend in which he fell back on the default position that the neo-conservatives often invoke nostalgically: compassionate conservatism (as if!), the legacy of good old Jack Kemp, who was supposedly a softie when it came to poor people, and the lionization of House Speaker Paul Ryan, who, no doubt, all of them are praying will be the GOP presidential candidate at a contested convention. Gerson even wrote a piece in The Washington Post this week conceding that, given Trump, a Hillary presidency wouldn't be so bad as long as she had Ryan to spar with.

The media have always gone easy on Ryan, way too easy, treating him as if he were a real economic guru, when, in fact, no one who worships Ayn Rand as the prophet should be anywhere near government — or books. But the pining for Ryan in the "smart" right-wing media just goes to show how utterly baffled the right-wing press is.

Guys like Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush enabled them to indulge their fantasies of a smart, gentle conservatism that allegedly worked, never mind that the George W. Bush administration proved it didn't. Now Donald Trump has blown up those fantasies, and the right-wing media are as confused as the right wing itself.


Friday, March 25, 2016

Trump will not be the nominee: Keith Olbermann

I miss Keith Olbermann MUCHO!  MSNBC has a terrible group of pundits now, except for Rachel.  Chuck Todd and Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell -- UGH!  They got rid of the Best journalist/pundit they had when they fired Olbermann.  What stupidity.  Now they have a corral of "me-toos" -- who drink the water GE tells them to and spit it back out at us, much like FOX is with Rupert Murdoch.  GE is the corporation that owns MSNBC lock stock and barrel.  Even Rachel has deteriorated, as far as the election news goes.  She is clearly a Hillary supporter.  Bernie Sanders is hardly mentioned, even on the cable channel that claims to be "progressive."  Yuck.

Keith Olbermann made an appearance on ABC's The View to opine about why he believes Trump will not be the GOP nominee.


    Olbermann said, "Because of the premise of the campaign, I don't think he has a reasonable chance of being elected. At this point, from what I'm hearing, I don't even think he's going to get the nomination. Because I think the Republican Party is going to say, everybody who is in the Republican Party goes if he wins, we all lose our jobs. If he loses, we all lose our jobs. He's probably not going to win. Let's make sure he doesn't lose. We're going to lose the party to him one way or another. Everybody in the Republican Party, in the establishment, has a self-interest in keeping him away because he could bring down congressional results."

He also characterized Trump supporters beautifully.

    Keith Olbermann also shot down Trump threat of riots if he is denied the nomination, "To be fair, who are the people who are supporting him, generally speaking? What I'm saying is they're mostly people who can't really be trusted to find their own homes again once they leave them."   (SO VERY TRUE! Even the one-step-up-in-intelligence Republicans know this.)

According to The Hill, Olbermann also called Trump "the most dangerous candidate since the Civil War."

That may even be an understatement.


Joe Scarborough finally gets it and says: After 30 years, the GOP base realizes 'It NEVER trickles down!

It would be great if the rest of the Republican Party would open their eyes and admit this, but they never will. The Bubble World Party doesn't let in truth, and has dedicated itself instead to lies and obstructionism, which is why it is dying in front of our eyes.
Joe Scarborough gives up the game: After 30 years, the GOP base realizes 'it never trickles down'
By David Edwards

Well, Fancy THIS!  Joe Scarborough is now complaining that the Republican Party was fracturing because it had advocated economic policies benefiting the richest Americans for the last 30 years with the promise that the wealth would "trickle down" to others — but it never did.

"The problem with the Republican Party over the past 30 years is they haven't — and I'll say, we haven't — developed a message that appeals to the working class Americans economically in a way that Donald Trump's does," the former Republican lawmaker explained. "We talk about cutting capital gains taxes that the 10,000 people that in the crowd cheering for Donald Trump, they are never going to get a capital gains cut because it doesn't apply."

"We talk about getting rid of the death tax," he continued. "The death tax is not going to impact the 10,000 people in the crowd for Donald Trump. We talk about how great free trade deals are. Those free trade deals never trickle down to those 10,000 people in Donald Trump's rallies."

"You sound like Bernie Sanders," NBC's Chuck Todd pointed out.  (YES! Scarborough finally GOT it!!!  He could be wisely voting for Bernie this time around!!!!!)

"But herein lies the problem with the Republican Party," Scarborough complained. "It never trickles down! Those people in Trump's crowds, those are all the ones that lost their jobs when they get moved to Mexico and elsewhere. The Republican donor class are the ones that got rich off of it because their capital moved overseas and they made higher profits."

GOP strategist Nicole Wallace griped that Republicans "let Democrats paint our side as being on the side of Wall Street." (Um...yes...the truth hurts, doesn't it?)

"The Republicans said, listen, we're going to have all of these trade deals and tax cuts that benefit our wealthiest donor class, but we'll give them the social issues," Scarborough said of the last 30 years. "We'll give them abortion, we'll give them gay marriage, we'll give them guns and they'll vote for us."

"What we're finding this year is, they'll even support a guy who says Planned Parenthood is good if he comes with an economic approach that they feels that could actually help them more in the future."


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Bill Moyers: Hillary Clinton MUST Ask Two of her Best Buddies to resign NOW

Important to read for all Democrats!

By Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

There are two Democrats whose resignation from office right now would do their party and country a service.

Their disappearance might also help Hillary Clinton convince skeptical Democrats that her nomination, if it happens, is about the future, and not about resurrecting and ratifying the worst aspects of the first Clinton reign when she and her husband rarely met a donor to whom they wouldn't try to auction a sleepover in the Lincoln Bedroom.

In fact, while we're at it, and if Secretary Clinton really wants us to believe she's no creature of the corporate and Wall Street money machine — despite more than $44 million in contributions from the financial industry since 2000 and her $675,000 in speaking fees from Goldman Sachs, not to mention several million more paid by other business interests for an hour or two of her time — she should pick up the gauntlet herself and publicly call for the departure of these two, although they are among her nearest and dearest. And we don't mean Bill and Chelsea.

No, she should come right out and ask for the resignations of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Democratic National Committee Chair — and Florida congresswoman — Debbie Wasserman Schultz. In one masterstroke, she could separate herself from two of the most prominent of all corporate Democratic elitists.

Each is a Clinton disciple and devotee, each has profited mightily from the association and each represents all that is wrong with a Democratic Party that in the pursuit of money from rich donors and powerful corporations has abandoned those it once so proudly represented — working men and women.

Rahm Emanuel first came to prominence as head of the finance committee for Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign, browbeating ever-increasing amounts of money out of fat cat donors, and following Clinton into the White House as a senior adviser attuned to the wishes and profits of organized wealth. Few pushed harder for NAFTA, a treaty that would cost a million or more working people their livelihood, or for the "three-strikes-and-you're-out" crime bill which Clinton later admitted was a mistake. After alienating most of Washington with his arrogance and bluster Emanuel left in 1998 and went into investment banking in Chicago, making more than $16 million in less than three years.

He came back to Washington as a three-term Illinois congressman, chaired the fundraising Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (calling on his Wall Street sources to get in on the gravy by electing so-called New Democrats over New Deal Democrats), and soon was back in the White House as Barack Obama's chief of staff. There, he infamously told a strategy meeting of liberal groups and administration types that the liberals were "retarded" for planning to run attack ads against conservative Democrats resisting Obamacare. Classy. Writer Jane Hamsher described him as tough guy wannabe but really "a brown nose for power ready to rumble on behalf of the status quo."

And now he's mayor of Chicago, reelected last April for a second term, but, as historian Rick Pearlstein wrote in The New Yorker a couple of months ago, "Chicagoans — and Democrats nationally — are suffering buyer's remorse."

Remember that shocking dashcam video of a black 17-year-old named Laquan McDonald being shot 16 times by a Chicago policeman while he was walking away? Of course you do; who can forget it? Remember, too, that for 400 days the police kept the existence of the video secret and did nothing about the shooting. Meanwhile, the City of Chicago paid five million dollars to McDonald's family, who at that point had not filed a lawsuit. But despite the large sum of money coughed up by his own administration, Emanuel claims he never saw the video. If that's true, he was guilty of dreadful mismanagement; if he did know, he's guilty of far worse.

Only after his re-election was the cover-up of the murder revealed. In Pearlstein's words, "Given that he surely would not have been reelected had any of this come out before the balloting, a recent poll showed that only 17 percent of Chicagoans believe him. And a majority of Chicagoans now think he should resign."

The Laquan McDonald murder is just one of the scandals on Emanuel's watch: crime and abuse by police run rampant, the city's public schools are a disaster, the transit system's a mess. Yet while Emanuel has devoted little of his schedule to meeting with community leaders, Pearlstein reminds us that he did, however, "spend enormous blocks of time with the rich businessmen, including Republicans, who had showered him with cash…" Now many of them have deserted him, including one of his richest Republican — yes, Republican — contributors, multimillionaire Bruce Rauner, who became governor of Illinois.

Emanuel should go — and Hillary Clinton should say so. But while Senator Bernie Sanders, campaigning during the Illinois primary, said he would not seek and would not accept the mayor's endorsement, with Secretary Clinton it's business as usual. Emanuel has held fundraisers for her campaign since 2014 so chances are she'll stay mum, take the money and run.

As for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, she embodies the tactics that have eroded the ability of Democrats to once again be the party of the working class. As Democratic National Committee chair she has opened the floodgates for Big Money, brought lobbyists into the inner circle and oiled all the moving parts of the revolving door that twirls between government service and cushy jobs in the world of corporate influence.

She has played games with the party's voter database, been accused of restricting the number of Democratic candidate debates and scheduling them at odd days and times to favor Hillary Clinton, and recently told CNN's Jake Tapper that super delegates — strongly establishment and pro-Clinton — are necessary at the party's convention so deserving incumbent officials and party leaders don't have to run for delegate slots "against grassroots activists." Let that sink in, but hold your nose against the aroma of entitlement.

But here's just about the worst of it. Rep. Wasserman Schultz — the people's representative, right? — has aligned herself with corporate interests out to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's effort to create national standards for the payday-lending industry, a business that in particular targets the poor. Payday loans, as Yuka Hayashi writes at The Wall Street Journal, "are quick credits of a few hundred dollars, with effective annual interest rates ranging between 300% and 500%. Loans are due in a lump sum on the borrower's next payday, a structure that often sends people into cycles of debt by forcing them to take out new loans to repay the old ones."

According to the nonpartisan Americans for Financial Reform, this tail-chasing cycle of "turned" loans to pay off previous loans makes up about 76 percent of the payday loan business. The Pew Charitable Trust found that in Wasserman Schultz's home state, the average payday loan customer takes out nine such loans a year, which usually has them mired in debt for about half a year.

No wonder radio host and financial guru Dave Ramsey describes the payday loan business, which loans $38.5 billion a year, as "scum-sucking, bottom-feeding predatory people who have no moral restraint." The very people, it must be acknowledged, who now have an ally in the chair of the Democratic National Committee, who has so engineered the rules of the current Democratic primary process so as to virtually assure her unlimited access to a Clinton White House where she can walk in freely to press the case for her, ahem, "scum-sucking, bottom-feeding predatory" donors and pals.

So imagine now the Democratic National Convention this July. Presiding over it will be, yes, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, tribune for a party of incumbency, money and crony capitalism. Follow her as she makes the rounds of private parties where zillionaire donors, lobbyists and consultants transact the real business of politics. Watch as she and Hizzoner Rahm Emanuel of Chicago greet and embrace. Then imagine those thousands of young people outside the convention hall who have arrived from long months of campaigning earnestly for reform of the party they see as an instrument of their future, as well as members of Black Lives Matter and other people of color for whom Rahm Emanuel is the incarnation of deceit and oppression.

This is why Emanuel and Wasserman Schultz must go. To millions, they are enablers of the one percent, perpetuators of the Washington mentality that the rest of the country has grown to hate. What a message such servants of plutocracy send: Democrats — a bridge to the past.

This piece originally appeared on


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

DEFENDING YOUR LIFE: my favorite movie--a new review/article about it in Rolling Stone

I'm grateful that Albert Brooks made Defending Your Life and It's wonderful that young people today are loving this movie that was made 25 years ago.  That proves to me that the newer generations incarnating on this planet are more evolved than my generation was when we incarnated.  These kids are actually seriously considering right from the beginning of their earth lives, Who Am I?, Where Did I Come From? Where Am I Going? and What Is This Whole Thing Called Life About, Anyway?  Best of all, they're not taking the word of religions, filled with warnings and fear and pundits. They're actually thinking, feeling, and trusting themselves for the deepest answers, with genuine curiosity as their motivation.

Spirituality instead of religion.  Now, I call that a giant step forward in evolution! (~.~)

If heaven exists, what would it look like?

It's one of life's big questions, and if you believe what you see in the movies, it's a place full of white fluffy clouds and friendly angels pining for their life back on our Big Blue Marble. But that's not how Albert Brooks sees it.

Albert Brooks
Comedy Prof Albert Brooks Spits It Out »

Twenty-five years ago — and less than a year after Ghost stormed the box office — Brooks wrote, directed, and starred in Defending Your Life, the story of an ad man who buys himself a Bimmer for his 40th birthday, then promptly drives it into a bus. The bulk of the movie happens in a place called Judgment City, a pleasant enough pit stop for the dearly departed that operates a lot like a Fortune 500 company.

Judgment City's purpose is defined in its name: It's here that the recently deceased come to find out whether they'll be advancing to heaven, or heading to hell (which is essentially going back to Earth, as a person, to make another go at that heaven thing). To determine that, individuals are assigned a "defender" (a lawyer, though they don't like to use that word) to help make a case for moving forward. Like any trial, there's also a prosecutor to make a case for the opposite. Helping both sides to make their respective arguments is video footage of the defendant's entire life, organized by precise age, which sounds much less painful than it really is. ("Who could survive it?," asks Brooks.)

It was a modest hit upon its release in 1991, but in the quarter-century since its debut, Defending Your Life has become a beloved cult-comedy classic, continually drawing in new audiences. Though it's grounded in comedy, Brooks' exploration of life after death has also proven to resonate on a spiritual level, especially with younger viewers who are just beginning to question what happens after "the end."

On the 25th anniversary of Defending Your Life's release, Rolling Stone asked the director to take us back to Judgment City and explore his own reasons for why the film has remained so relevant to today's audiences.

I don't know how, where, and why the idea for Defending Your Life began; the idea had been bouncing around for a while. Stories like that sort of have to bounce. They don't come out of nowhere. I went through my own period of life with sort of everything turning upside down, and wondering, why is it this way? I went from being unafraid at the beginning of my career, in my late twenties, [to] being like the Roadrunner; I looked down and I didn't see anything. You don't wake up one day and say, "Earth ain't the best place to be." That's a brewing type of feeling.

We'd all watched "heaven" movies forever, and they always bothered me. They were just like little children's fairy tales. So I began to think more clearly that, why would anything in the universe be different than what we already see? In other words, our best indication of this vast, mysterious place are the processes that are going on right in front of us. And we see the Darwinian theories working; we see survival of the fittest working. Even in making automobiles, the better automobiles are the ones that keep getting made, so why would anything be different than that?

It intrigued me that the whole universe would be run sort of like a business. I also liked not having Earth as a place that's the best place. You don't want to go back to Earth — and by the way, they weren't threatening to send you back as an animal. It was obvious you were going to have to go back as a person and try it all over again; that was failure. So this is an alternative, but it's at least an alternative that makes some weird kind of sense to me.

I had a bigger budget for Defending Your Life, which was exciting because I had never done special effects before. Total Recall had just come out a year earlier, and we sat in the room with the people who did those special effects. There was a scene in that film where Arnold Schwarzenegger was in a moving train, and the train went across the landscape and you could see his face in the train — and up until that time, that had never happened. So the people who did that enabled Meryl Streep and I to be in the tram as it disappeared off into the universe, and that technique had just been invented. And those trams were miniatures. We had big trams, but we didn't have 15 of them that could go off into the distance, and certainly we couldn't be in one of them, and you wouldn't see us, so that kind of stuff was all exciting.

Judgment City and the way things looked there were basically traditional matte paintings that they'd been doing since the beginning of movies. That's how they did the original Ben-Hur; just talented people painting over a city. For example, the Judgment Center, the place where we did the trials, was the Federal Building in West Los Angeles with two large annexes painted onto it, and it's just done perfectly. That never changes. You can do that today and it looks as good as it always did.

In casting the film: I met Meryl Streep at a party years and years and years ago. I think it was at Carrie Fisher's house. Meryl brought so much reputation to her life because of all these iconic roles, but when you met her, she was just so easygoing and natural. She was aware of my work, and she asked what I was doing. I told her I was making this movie, and she sort of jokingly said, "Is there a part in it for me?" I went home and thought, "Okay..." It took a lot more from the producers to make that happen, but the person that I wanted for that role was the person that I sat and talked to at that party.

So my job was to provide an environment where she could just hang out. She's the greatest character actress that ever lived, and she didn't get a lot of opportunities just to hang out, so that's what I thought could be great. She's playing somebody who's had a perfect life, and she automatically brings to that someone who is as close as you could get, someone who seemingly has had a perfect life. So all of that worked.

Rip Torn hadn't worked for a while, and the studio was a little worried because he had been through some problems and everything. We had a serious talk. The studio wanted me to go to someone safer, but Rip was one of the people that made that movie sail, and the reason is because he was unpredictable. That's why I wanted him. I saw many other actors for that part — people that I liked, people that I knew exactly what I would get — and I cast him because it may have been more work for me. But it was a good kind of work and he would give you something you didn't expect. He would just give you an attitude or a line reading or … he was just the most original kind of person, and it helped the movie immensely.

I've got a lot of favorite scenes from the movie, but I'm pretty fond of the Past Lives Pavilion. One of the things about Defending Your Life I have to mention is that the cinematographer was Allen Daviau, [who had worked a lot with Steven Spielberg]. He was brilliant. I just got a fan letter through my website two days ago — I swear to God, two days ago — that said, "I'm looking for the film that Mr. Brooks used in the Past Lives Pavilion, where the native was running through the forest. Can you tell me what film that was from?" And, of course, that wasn't from a film. All of that was shot. But the way it was shot and put into miniature? I guess I was sort of tickled that I even thought of something like the Past Lives Pavilion. I thought it was sort of a cool Disneyland ride.

And then to have Shirley MacLaine. Think about that: There is no person on this planet that can get you a laugh just by telling you about the afterlife. She had that wrapped up entirely in her personality. I met her at a hotel, I did my pitch, and I couldn't even imagine getting a "no." I must've sold it well because she did it — "Welcome to the Past Lives Pavilion." Nobody else could get you that laugh.

All of my movies had to go through the normal testing processes, and I never got E.T.-type test scores. From Real Life to Modern Romance, some of the cards were like, "What's wrong with this person?" So it was funny because this movie got like a B+ overall, but it got an A+ from young people. Literally, from 18 to 25, the cards were off the charts. I was all excited, and the studio basically said to me, "Well, we're not going to market an Albert Brooks movie to that group anyway. So it's nice, and you should feel good about it, but it doesn't matter. We're not going to release it to that group. That's a big, expensive group." And that's where the fear aspect comes in, because people at that age don't know what the hell's going on, and the movie resonated with them. It was not about life or death or Earth; I think it was about trying not to be afraid.

"I don't care who you are, if you committed a crime and you had to have all of your emails searched and made public, who on this planet could survive that? Nobody."

The idea behind Defending Your Life: Imagine if you had to sit in a courtroom and watch your life. I don't care who you are, if you committed a crime and you had to have all of your emails searched and made public, who on this planet could survive that? Nobody. Who hasn't written some angry email to somebody at 11:30 at night that, if read in court, would make you want to kill yourself?

But the interesting thing about Defending Your Life is that it's been 25 years and if you look at it on Amazon, it always sells at the same rate. And that makes me feel pretty good, because I don't think this is aging too much. I think what the movie is saying is going to stay relevant for a long, long time, because fear isn't going away.

I've had people talk about Lost in America and other films that meant something to them. But this particular movie, whatever effect it had in those original test screenings to a certain younger group, it seems to still have that. Last week, I got a letter from a parent who said their kid had memorized the whole movie. The whole movie! Now I'm not saying this is happening en masse, but sometimes, with younger people, once a movie has no electronics in it, they just don't watch it. Or even if it's not in color. They just don't relate to it. But this film does not need cell phones or any sort of modern accouterments. It still can affect you. Being afraid and not doing what you want to do is such a basic emotion.

I don't know that, any of the films that I made, I could make today. I would have to find another way to do that. It's not just me saying, "It's that the movie business." I could convince financiers that America would like me, even if they didn't, but I never could convince somebody that Korea would love Modern Romance. I just couldn't do that. [Back then] I only had one country to lie about. Now, I'd have to say, "No, believe me, China's going to go nuts over this!"

"Everybody asks, 'When you were making Taxi Driver, did you know the impact it would have?' Anybody who says yes is mentally ill."

But the subjects that are the big subjects, they don't go away. Sometimes the telling of them gets modern-ed up. The thing about Defending Your Life is if you made it today, you really wouldn't make it much differently. You might not use answering machines, which played big parts in my movies, but I don't know what's in it that would be any different. I even think we were pretty clever in Rip Torn's office in that all he read were numbers.

You see movies that are about the future. 2001 is a really interesting movie, because it came out in 1968 and everybody thought that that was possible, and look how ridiculous that was. We don't have ships like that, and you know nobody in 1968 was going, "Oh, that'll never happen!" But of course it never happened. We're not even close to it. You could call that movie 2070 and you still might not be close. I wrote this book, 2030, and I was careful in the book not to overdo the future because I don't think it comes that fast. But look at any movie about the future, and there are always these giant gaps. I was watching Minority Report the other day, which has some lovely things in it with the scanning and the moving around of all the information. But then you have Max von Sydow sitting, reading a newspaper. You can't figure it out. The most obvious thing was: Get these newspapers out of here! But there's nothing in Judgment City that would be any different today, and that's sort of unusual.

The one thing you never get to know while you're making a movie is impact. Everybody asks, "When you were making Taxi Driver, did you know the impact it would have?" Anybody who says yes is mentally ill. If you're making a movie and you think that, in 25 years, people are still going to be talking about it, there's something wrong with you. You just don't know. But with this movie, I guess because of the nature of the subject matter, it seems like it's never really wavered. I get the same amount of reaction from it.

I've gotten thousands and thousands of letters of people who had relatives that were dying, or they were dying themselves, and the movie made them feel better. I guess it's because it presents some possibility that doesn't involve clouds and ghostly images. So this thing never goes away. It's a quarter of a century, but I don't think the idea behind the subject is ever going to change.


Friday, March 18, 2016

The Right wing pundits - Pointing fingers everywhere but at themselves

Total unawareness and refusal to accept responsibility or blame: the hallmarks of the Republican Party
The Right's Columned Crack-Up
By P.M. Carpenter

As a lay psychiatrist, I must confess that it is borderline sadistically fascinating to follow the coping mechanisms of the right's apologists. And, to mix political wackery with religion, I also say blessed are Fridays, for on this day the symptomatic musings of David Brooks and Charles Krauthammer — apologists extraordinaire — have taken to gracing the right's Bedlam with all but self-blame.

What to do, what to do, oh my, what to do; or, rather, what to say about Donald Trump? How can this festering boil on the assclownishness of modern Republicanism be explained (away)? Such is Messrs. Brooks and Krauthammer's charge. And, to mix political wackery and religion with the lowest order of the idiomatic, I further say they are fucking brilliant at it.

Brooks has decided that Trumpism is a singular phenomenon — singularly endowed, that is, by Trump. "The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error," he concedes, but they "deserve respect. They are left out of this economy … [they] are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams."

What Brooks fails to acknowledge is that millions more have suffered under the decades-long insanity of the cynical, "classless" Republicanism he helped to promote, and yet they reject Trump's cryptofascism. If the Trumpeteers deserves respect, then so did, and still do, the petite bourgeoisie that hailed Germany's sterner stuff. Ignorance is no excuse, and it damn sure isn't deserving of respect.

What is Brooks's game? He's still wishes to keep the ignorant, the prejudiced, the easily duped under Republicanism's wing, which is what got Republicanism into the nightmarish mess it is in.

And then there's Mr. Krauthammer, whose symptomatic unfoldings and neurasthenic unraveling are a bit more complex. Indeed, today's column is, however brilliantly written, worryingly incoherent.

The scourge of Trumpism, he scribbles, has something to do with "both sides" (and that's a quote). There is "an air of menace" in today's politics, he frets; "It's being fueled on … one side through organized anti-free-speech agitation using Bolshevik tactics; the other side by verbal encouragement and threats of varying degrees of subtlety." The first side is a kind of collective, of course — "a totalitarian left that specializes in the intimidation and silencing of political opponents," whose "pedigree goes back to early-20th-century fascism and communism."

The second "side," however, Krauthammer promptly reduces, as does Brooks, to a singularity. What is this "second, quite separate form of thuggery threatening the 2016 campaign"? It's not any collective right; it is, quite specifically, "a leading candidate who … is stoking anger and encouraging violence" (my emphasis).

So while the left broadly "constitut[es] a serious threat to a civilized politics" in Krauthammer's fevered, paranoic break with reality, on the right he sees little but lonesome Donald Trump. By rights of consistent application, in Krauthammer's formulation there should be no threatening, at-large "left" — only the executive director of, the rabble-rousing bastard. This "intellectual" courtesy, though, is left unextended by Charles Krauthammer.

So that just about does it for today's lay-psychiatric wrap-up. Before I depart, I shall add only that George Will is, somewhere, off sucking his thumb with pursed, puckered lips and digging up irrefutable evidence that Donald Trump is all Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era's fault.


Narcissism - what's the matter with Trump and Republicans

The following description of narcissism applies to Donald Trump in every way.  It also applies, minimally or maximally, to right wingers as a whole, with a very few exceptions here and there.  Most Republicans (including their pundits and columnists) are not self-aware. They don't recognize that, by their own hatred/bigotry and their obstructive actions against the Obama White House, they are responsible for creating a Donald Trump as the leader of their party. They willingly accept neo-Nazis and the KKK as members of their party and rub elbows with them at Trump rallies. By their behavior, many Republicans have shown they have the same beliefs as those bottom-feeder types but can't admit that, even to themselves.  In horror at the FrankenTrump monster they created, they look around for whom else to blame -- and, helped and cheered on by Fox Noise hosts, have settled on (of course!) Obama and the Democrats.

If only they could look in the mirror and see what's really there:  Donald Trump staring back at them.

 Narcissism = lack of self awareness
From The Mirror Effect by Drs. Drew Pinsky and S. Mark Young:

    The key to understanding the narcissism myth is not that he fell in love with himself, but that he failed to recognize himself in his own reflection. In other words, true narcissists are not self-aware.

    A real narcissist is dissociated from his or her true self; he feels haunted by chronic feelings of loneliness, emptiness, and self-loathing and seeks to replace that disconnection with a sense of worth and importance fueled by others.

    Narcissism is also marked by a profound lack of empathy, a fundamental inability to understand and connect with the feelings of others. Taken together, these are the traits psychologists measure in diagnosing what's known as narcissistic personality disorder


Perilous Unknowns: the Mental Health of Presidential Candidates,

An idea whose time has obviously come -- psychiatric exams to make sure presidential candidates are mentally stable and fit to lead the country.

Perilous Unknowns: the Mental Health of Presidential Candidates

Donald Trump
by Barry Lando | March 18, 2016

It's become normal for Americans to demand—and receive-a professional assessment of the physical health of the candidates for president—just as they expect updates on the medical state of the president himself. After all, there have been many infamous cases of presidents, from Franklin Roosevelt to Jack Kennedy, who secretly endured serious debilitating illnesses.

Thus, the current crop of presidential hopefuls has provided medical information—though not necessarily from the most objective sources. Hillary Clinton's doctor, for instance, declared her "fit to serve as president". Donald Trump's physician, opined that Trump's blood pressure and lab results were "astonishingly excellent", his "physical strength and stamina are extraordinary." He concluded, "If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency."

But what about Trump's mental health?

Surely, we care if a candidate is mentally deranged. If we consider it reasonable that someone with severe psychiatric problems be prevented from purchasing a firearm, why go along with a system that might permit a similarly disturbed individual to gain control over the largest military arsenal the world has ever known?

Indeed, the power of an American president to declare war, to secretly dispatch special forces units to all corners of the globe, to okay the execution by drone or killer teams of anyone he deems a threat to the United States, that power has dangerously escalated over the past few years under Barrack Obama as Congress has refused to even debate Obama's military actions abroad.

It's O.K., we're reassured: you can trust Obama. But what if he we were replaced by someone with a serious character disorder?

Such as, arguably, Donald Trump?

What character disorder? Recent articles from Vanity Fair to Time to Psychology today suggest that Trump is a textbook study of Narcissism. He's a swaggering egotist; vain, self-centered, convinced of his own greatness, who (some theorize) unconsciously compensates for an underlying low self-esteem with bullying, blustering and braggadocchio.

"He's so classic that I'm archiving video clips of him to use in workshops because there's no better example of his characteristics," clinical psychologist George Simon, who conducts lectures and seminars on manipulative behavior recently told Vanity Fair. "Otherwise, I would have had to hire actors and write vignettes. He's like a dream come true."

On the other hand, some of the world's greatest political and business leaders have also been labeled narcissists, from Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, to Bill Clinton, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, Elon Musk, and George Soros. Though difficult to live and work with, they've proved extremely valuable and productive members of society. We wouldn't want to be without them.

But, as the Harvard Business Review recently wrote, "The danger is that narcissism can turn unproductive when, lacking self-knowledge and restraining anchors, narcissists become unrealistic dreamers. They nurture grand schemes and harbor the illusion that only circumstances or enemies block their success…

Given the large number of narcissists at the helm of corporations today, the challenge facing organizations is to ensure that such leaders do not self-destruct or lead the company to disaster."

    "…the very adulation that the narcissist demands can have a corrosive effect. As he expands, he listens even less to words of caution and advice.…The result is sometimes flagrant risk taking that can lead to catastrophe."

Dr. George Simon, an expert on personality disorders, explains, "Narcissism becomes particularly "malignant" (i.e. malevolent, dangerous, harmful, incurable) when it goes beyond mere vanity and excessive self-focus. Malignant narcissists not only see themselves as superior to others but believe in their superiority to the degree that they view others as relatively worthless, expendable, and justifiably exploitable.

"This type of narcissism is a defining characteristic of psychopathy/sociopathy and is rooted in an individual's deficient capacity for empathy. It's almost impossible for a person with such shallow feelings and such haughtiness to really care about others or to form a conscience with any of the qualities we typically associate with a humane attitude, which is why most researchers and thinkers on the topic of psychopathy think of psychopaths as individuals without a conscience altogether."

Extreme narcissists, we are told, lash out brutally at those who would dare question their talent or goals. They lie, cheat, change their story from one moment to the next; ignore anything that might challenge their view of the world or of themselves.

According to a recent cover story in Time about Donald Trump and Narcissism, "Trump indeed appears to be emotionally incontinent, a man wholly without—you should pardon the expression—any psychic sphincter. The boundary most people draw between thought and speech, between emotion and action, does not appear to exist for Trump. He says what he wants to say, insults whom he wants to insult, and never, ever considers apology or retreat."

"Make no mistake," warns Dr. Simon, "no one is more dangerous than a person who sets him or herself above others to the point that he or she feels entitled to prey on those viewed as inferior.

So, bottom line, in light of such warnings about how the dangers of malignant narcissists, after following the outrageous actions of Donald Trump on the campaign trail, why shouldn't the American people demand assurances that Donald Trump–and all candidates for that matter—are mentally stable enough to become president of the United States?

More bluntly, why on earth should America's leaders knowingly let a nut-case take over the White House?

At the very least, why not insist that that all the candidates undergo some kind of psychiatric examination? That would of course include Trump's main rival, Ted Cruz—seemingly another mentally–challenged figure.



Excellent essay on Trump by David Brooks, Republican conservative

This should be read by all Republicans and ANYone who is even thinking of voting for Donald Trump.  But, sadly, it's probable most of those voters won't know of David Brooks (though he is a well-known conservative Republican journalist) or even care what he has to say.  The monster that has been growing in the Republican Party for decades has now been unleashed on the world. The GOP is finally and completely ruled by its narcissistic id* embodied in the form of Donald Trump.  (See "id" definition at end of article below). Republicans like Brooks are tearing their hair out by the roots, but the rise of a Trump in their party was inevitable. If they have even a modicum of self-reflection, they will understand why. Where else can hatred and bigotry ultimately lead but to destruction? 

No, Not Trump, Not Ever
David Brooks MARCH 18, 2016
David Brooks is an American conservative political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times.

The voters have spoken.

In convincing fashion, Republican voters seem to be selecting Donald Trump as their nominee. And in a democracy, victory has legitimacy to it. Voters are rarely wise but are usually sensible. They understand their own problems. And so deference is generally paid to the candidate who wins.

And deference is being paid. Gov. Rick Scott of Florida is urging Republicans to coalesce around Trump. Pundits are coming out with their "What We Can Learn" commentaries. Those commentaries are built on a hidden respect for the outcome, that this is a rejection of a Republicanism that wasn't working and it points in some better direction.

The question is: Should deference be paid to this victor? Should we bow down to the judgment of these voters?

Well, some respect is in order. Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.

Moreover, many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough. For me, it's a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I'm going to report accurately on this country.

And yet reality is reality.

Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn't know what he doesn't know and he's uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.

This week, the Politico reporters Daniel Lippman, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf fact-checked 4.6 hours of Trump speeches and press conferences. They found more than five dozen untrue statements, or one every five minutes.

"His remarks represent an extraordinary mix of inaccurate claims about domestic and foreign policy and personal and professional boasts that rarely measure up when checked against primary sources," they wrote.

He is a childish man running for a job that requires maturity. He is an insecure boasting little boy whose desires were somehow arrested at age 12. He surrounds himself with sycophants. "You can always tell when the king is here," Trump's butler told Jason Horowitz in a recent Times profile. He brags incessantly about his alleged prowess, like how far he can hit a golf ball. "Do I hit it long? Is Trump strong?" he asks.

In some rare cases, political victors do not deserve our respect. George Wallace won elections, but to endorse those outcomes would be a moral failure.

And so it is with Trump.

History is a long record of men like him temporarily rising, stretching back to biblical times. Psalm 73 describes them: "Therefore pride is their necklace; they clothe themselves with violence. … They scoff, and speak with malice; with arrogance they threaten oppression. Their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their tongues take possession of the earth. Therefore their people turn to them and drink up waters in abundance."

And yet their success is fragile: "Surely you place them on slippery ground; you cast them down to ruin. How suddenly they are destroyed."

The psalmist reminds us that the proper thing to do in the face of demagogy is to go the other way — to make an extra effort to put on decency, graciousness, patience and humility, to seek a purity of heart that is stable and everlasting.

The Republicans who coalesce around Trump are making a political error. They are selling their integrity for a candidate who will probably lose. About 60 percent of Americans disapprove of him, and that number has been steady since he began his campaign.
Sign Up for the Opinion Today Newsletter

Worse, there are certain standards more important than one year's election. There are certain codes that if you betray them, you suffer something much worse than a political defeat.

Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

As the founders would have understood, he is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government. He is precisely the kind of scapegoating, promise-making, fear-driving and deceiving demagogue they feared.

Trump's supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever.

*The id (Latin for "it") is the unorganized part of the personality structure that contains a human's basic, instinctual drives. Id is the only component of personality that is present from birth. It is the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives. The id contains the libido, which is the primary source of instinctual force that is unresponsive to the demands of reality. (In other words, Donald Trump.) The id acts according to the "pleasure principle"—the psychic force that motivates the tendency to seek immediate gratification of any impulse—defined as seeking to avoid pain or unpleasure (not 'displeasure') aroused by increases in instinctual tension. The id is unconscious by definition:

    It is the dark, inaccessible part of our personality, what little we know of it we have learned from our study of dreams and of course the construction of neurotic symptoms, and most of that is of a negative character and can be described only as a contrast to the ego. We approach the id with analogies: we call it a chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations. ... It is filled with energy reaching it from the instincts, but it has no organization, produces no collective will, but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs subject to the observance of the pleasure principle (A perfect description of Donald Trump and of his supporters.)

In the id contrary impulses exist side by side, without cancelling each other out.

The id contains everything that is inherited, that is present at birth.

The mind of a newborn child is regarded as completely "id-ridden", in the sense that it is a mass of instinctive drives and impulses, and needs immediate satisfaction.