Wednesday, November 30, 2016


We really need to stop being so politically correct about Donald Trump and his Neo-Nazi henchmen. Referring to the “Alt-Right”, or “alternative right wing” is covering horseshit with a nice handmade quilt.  I read an article about Steve Bannon recently, in, of all places, the New York Times. The article tried to make nice with Mr. Bannon’s image. In it, the author was at great pains to inform us that Mr. Bannon is not an actual racist. He has black friends and colleagues, after all.  I’ll bet some of his best friends are Black . . . or Jewish . . . or Muslim . . . or Gay.

But that seems to me to miss the only point of relevance.  That point would be, “is the web site Mr. Bannon managed a racist, or Neo-Nazi site, i.e., does the site espouse views than can reasonably be described as ne-Nazi, racist, homophobic, or misogynistic? If the answer is Yes, then it matters little whether Mr. Bannon’s personal proclivities are of the racist persuasion.  It would be like asking whether Hitler was actually anti-Semitic. See, the answer would not matter, since he oversaw a regime that killed six million Jews, and other folks they deemed UnGermanic, and therefore unworthy.  What matters is how folks act, or how they direct actions to be taken. If Steve Bannon runs an organization that is widely considered to be anti-semitic, racist, et al, then he is by definition all of those things.

And our Free Press needs to begin calling a spade a spade. First, we really need to drop use of this term, “Alt-Right”. Because it doesn’t mean anything.  Breitbart is a white supremacist organization. Which term describes the KKK, and the Neo-Nazis.  So, by inviting Mr. Bannon into his cabinet of advisers, Mr. Trump has opened his doors to Neo-Nazis and the KKK. We know, by his own personal actions that he is a misogynist, likely a racist, so it comes as no surprise that he would invite such folks into his cabinet.

By dressing up Mr. Trump in fine clothing, and dandifying his advisers, the Press is giving up its claim to be speaking “Truth to Power”. That should be the main aim of a Free Press under our system of Democracy. See, we need an active Free Press, all the more because our President-Elect specializes in lying, creating about him Fake News, and encouraging some of our more energetic enemies—Russia for example—to mess with our “news" and even, apparently, our elections.

Mr. Trump actively engages in business with nations with whom we are not on especially good terms politically, e.g., China, Russia, and The Philippines. Has he gotten around to building a Trump Tower somewhere in North Korea that we are not yet aware of yet??? It is, in any case, a phenomenon we have never before seen—a President-Elect using his newfound political stature to continue building his Brand.  He claims he will step down and away from his businesses, allowing his children to manage the entirety of his mega-chain of enterprises.  But does anyone still resident on Planet Earth believe that claim?? It seems absurd on its face. One problem there is that, because we have little experience with such a man as President-Elect, we have no plausible solutions to this problem.  So we might need to simply observe all transactions that Involve Things Trump and inquire within—can we link a transaction to a Trump-President meeting or contact? If so, the Free Press needs to call it out for what it is. His business Brand could arguably suffer as a consequence, but probably not more than it is already suffering from association with this mentally deranged man, soon to be President. Have we ever had such a complex situation before?

We have had deficient presidents surely. Think Ronald Reagan; think George W. Bush, both bottom of the barrel presidents. But each of those deficienistas still could lay claim to some understanding of our government and its workings, even as they proceeded to trash that system. With The Drumpf, we have a whole new landscape with no experience base.  The man seems to have no understanding of anything associated with our government, or our political system, no understanding of global political dynamics, and little ability or experience in negotiating the shoals of diplomacy. He is a novice in all regards. But more, he likely does not care whether he knows nothing. His interests lie in promoting himself and his personal interests. Full Stop.

So, now, more than ever, we require a vigilant and intelligent Free Press. I expect nothing from Fox News, because Fox News is not a real news organization. It is a PR media outlet whose intent is to promote the business interests of the far right. They are not of the racist, neo-Nazi persuasion necessarily. They do not care about such things. Their interests lie in promoting big business, the oligarchs of the world. So, we should have no expectations of that source.  But at least for most of the rest we hope for better things than they have so far demonstrated.

I know that it is tradition that the Press and the commentariat provide some wiggle room to the incoming folks. Give them a honeymoon. But, what I have seen since the election goes way beyond. The Free Press seems to be moving away from watchdogs of democracy and towards lapdogs of democracy. We need for them to drop this façade of uber-politeness, and become once again OUR (the people’s) spokesmen.  They need to remain firmly on the side of our Nation’s system of Constitutional government.  It is not clear to me they are quite positioned to be such a spokesman.

Oh and maybe we need to take away Mr. Trump’s Twitter account from him. It is, at the least, embarrassing to the Nation.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Giving Thanks

It’s that time of year again. At least once a year, we at least give some thought to the goodness and love in our lives. I know, I know, our nation just elected an amoral idiot, who practically screams hate at us.  He seems to symbolize in one fat little person everything that’s wrong with mankind.

Still, we all need to get a grip. The world has had amoral idiots at the helm of major nations before. Perhaps not us, but we certainly have come close a few times.  No names please.

On Thanksgiving, let us all try to stay positive and focus on the folks we love and the things in our lives for which we must be grateful.

Like a farm-raised turkey, baked to perfection, and perhaps a fried one, both of which will arrive with all the trimmings . . . an amazing stuffing/dressing that is a meal all to itself.  Sweet and white potatoes, cranberries, creamed onions, beans and greens. And then the pies, apple, minced, pumpkin to add something sweet as an aftertaste, but such a splendid taste that it will linger. Yes, the food, the food, amazing and fortunate for us, since we enjoy prosperity unheard of in much of the world. We are so fortunate that we often do not even comprehend how fortunate.  Our lives are full in so many respects that we lose count. 

So, when we raise our glasses at the onset of our bounteous meal and say, To Family, we will look each other in the eyes and count our many blessings. Simply the presence of our family at this meal signifies their place of love in our lives.  And for those family members not present, because they have their own extended families to celebrate, well we pass our blessings to you also, because you help to complete our fortunate lives.

As we age, and aging we are, we are increasingly aware of time and its fleeting nature. So many family members have passed from our changing life streams that we lose track. But they remain part of us, because they contributed heavily to who we are.  So our glasses are raised to them also. They were once among us and now they are gone, as someday we also will be gone.  The love that was given us by our ancestors is also passed ahead to our descendants. But we need to understand that the transmission of love is dependent on the clarity of the communications channels. I would imagine that a Donald trump would have so much static in his communication channels that love would be denied access.  So, keep your channels open to love and practice your best yoga mindfulness when negative thoughts begin to fill up those channels. Mostly, for the moment, kick Donald trump and his dark side supplicants downstream. They are wallowing in their own acid, and you need to be free of their evil influence.

So, open your eyes to sunrises and sunsets, look carefully at the bees, the buttery critters, the flowers still present. Look ahead to that white stuff that sometimes graces our landscape. It is beautiful too.  Think kindness. It is the only thing worthy in our too too brief time on this amazing planet, and this amazing thing called life.

Happy Thanksgiving all.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Twitter and the Donald

The Donald and Twitter

With The Donald keeping up his TwitterWar, lately against his media critics, especially but not exclusively The New York Times, I found myself wondering about his use of Twitter. He claims 10 million followers, but then he claims many things, most of which turn out to be untrue. But maybe he’s right. After all, he certainly exceeded 10 million voters, so why not 10 million Twitterati fans?

But why Twitter? Well, my view of Twitter is that it is a perfect device for brainless communication. The character limits prevent anything close to complex thoughts being communicated. All you can do is blast out emotional rants, and The Donald apparently is limited by his brain to emotional rants that are devoid of actual thought.  Remember, The Donald is a narcissist, meaning he is capable of thinking only about himself The Mayo Clinic states that, “narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.”  So, his blasts of anger at the New York Times reflects this personality.
Then he is a sociopath. What’s that you say? Well sociopathy is a mental condition in which a person consistently shows no regard for right and wrong and ignores the rights and feelings of others. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to antagonize, manipulate or treat others harshly or with callous indifference. They show no guilt or remorse for their behavior.
And then we get to the real explanation for his Twitter behavior—he has adult ADHD. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental health disorder that includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty paying attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. Adult ADHD can lead to unstable relationships, poor work or school performance, low self-esteem, and other problems. He apparently can neither read nor write extensively, since he can’t stay focused long enough. He flips from one thing to another, and just gurgles his way through all public appearances.  So twitter is the perfect vehicle for him to communicate, since it limits him to that 140 characters, meaning little actual thought is required, beyond a blind explosion of anger at some perceived slight.  But, as it turns out, twitter has added value. It is now the perfect vehicle for getting an audience of like-minded souls to become properly furious about something, or properly terrified about something.  In fact, The Atlantic magazine just published an interesting article on the use of social media, especially Twitter –“War Goes Viral: How social media is being weaponized across the world”. [1]   The article describes how ISIS uses the Twitter world to disarm its opponents and to gather recruits to its cause.  It was a dismaying article, but went a long way to explain how such a seemingly brainless twit like The Donald could possibly convince enough people to vote for him that he was actually elected to the Presidency.  That he keeps it up since the election is a portent of things to come. He will obey no common rules (he doesn’t even want to live in The White House for heaven’s sake), say whatever he wants, so long as it fits into the 140 character limit, and jerk from issue to issue with no real understanding of what his actions/plans will do the country or the world.  He does not care. And we need to understand that about him.  His every action is to enhance himself, or perhaps to enrich himself.  His failure to understand the blind trust thing is a useful clue to everything he does and will do.
So, thank you Republican party for giving us this mindless and potentially dangerous man to lead our nation.  Now is the time for the disheveled Democratic Party to reform itself into a productive vehicle for taking back our country.  
And if social media can be useful to the narcissistic-sociopaths of the world, then it can be used by responsible folks also. Use social media to whatever ends are required to return our country to a responsible, caring nation.  And that means, most especially, you Millennials. You are inheriting this mess, and you are now required to clean up our mess. Sorry guys, but we just weren’t smart enough apparently. Maybe you will be more capable. So begin to act now. Organize for action. Gird your loins. The Battle for Survival of America is on.
And just in case you think that we should “give him some time”, I will give you a few blog postings from another era—2013, of the beginning of Obama II, with the Republicans in charge of Congress.  How did they react to President Obama’s election? 
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
The commentary coming from the right wing in response to the President’s inauguration is truly stunning in its ignorance and delusional character. The commentariat, both paid and unpaid have been yakking away about the “socialist” state being pursued by Obama and the Democrats. How Obama is killing the incentive to start businesses by offering free goodies—money, food, whatever it takes, to keep people tied to big government, instead of freeing people to pursue the true freedom of capitalism.
First, all this incoherent talk about how we are becoming a socialist state is so absurd that I wonder about the mental state, or perhaps just the brainpower of the assembled cast of characters now criticizing our country. To my knowledge neither the President, nor any of his Democratic allies have proposed nationalizing a single corporate entity, not to mention whole industries. Had he proposed nationalizing our banks, or our energy companies, I might have understood his logic, but I would also have better understood the cries of socialism. As it is, the President continues to tolerate the fools who have brought this nation to its economic knees through greed and stupidity. That our financial system is run by people a few beers short of a six pack when it comes to intelligence and that no bankers are currently in prison continues to amaze.
What I cannot tell from the idiotic commentary is whether the writers actually believe their own foolishness, or they are simply mouthing the tale told by their owners—the Koch’s et al. I understand that the Faux News Network espouses idiotic rhetoric. They are highly paid actors who read their scripts. But why the pseudo-intelligencia of the right continues to mouth such inanities is quite beyond me. It seems clear that the right wing demonstrates willingness to allow this Nation to slide off its fiscal cliff, even though they have not yet pushed us off the cliff.
I keep wondering . . . isn’t it time for the right wing to once again regain its place in the country as thoughtful advocates of the American system? Back off guys. You sound too reminiscent of the 1930s. Remember the 1930s . . . that period called the Great Depression . . . that you also created?  
Thursday, January 24, 2013
As I sat watching Downton Abbey the other night, a thought struck me—the series is like gaining a window into republican delusions about the world in which they wish to live; it is akin to traveling through a wormhole into a brave new republican world, in which there is no middle class, only the rich, the poor, and the wannabe rich. In this case, I assume the republican middle class fits the model of the rich wannabe’s.
And then the program ends, and the wormhole disappears. I can find no other reasonable explanation for the republican assault on the middle class. They wish to rid the world of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, unemployment insurance, oh and public schooling. They do so love charter schools—which are really just public schools without the bother of government interference.

Listening to them chatter about Obama’s speech is also amusing, and annoying at the same time. The right wing accuses the president of failing to cater adequately to his right wing opponents—the ones who refuse to cooperate with anything he wishes to accomplish. They are the same ones who prattled on endlessly about how Secretary Clinton should have been fired, and even how impeachment must remain an option for this president.
They continue to moan about how we have entered that twilight zone of a socialist state, and unless they maintain their vast hordes of guns, the government will arrive to take away their liberties, and presumably their jobs. I assume they believe that Obama wishes to nationalize most of the current economic systems in the country—banking, energy, certainly hi-tech, automobiles, clothing (oops, we gave that away to China, didn’t we) and . . . and what else. Oh, I keep forgetting Obama must have given away everything else to China, since we seem not to make anything any longer.
The only thing not entirely clear to me is how the republican lords of the Downton Abbeys of the country expect to make their money . . . you know, so they can hire all those servants. Maybe they will all become investment bankers, and each will have his own hedge fund (or is it Ponzi schemes they want to run)?. It’s all so confusing, this big money stuff. See, I’ve never really had to worry about big money and gambling with other people’s money. I just worked for someone else from about the age of 13, until I could no longer stand working for someone else and started my own tiny business, which I held tightly to until I retired. So, the Mitt Romney way of business—buying and flogging other people’s businesses-- never entered my brain—stupid, I guess.
Well, anyway, I think I will keep watching Downton Abbey to see what clues I can gain into the dark minds of the republican 1% wannabe’s.
And speaking of watching TV, Yay . . . it’s 1183 again. Well, I know, technically it isn’t but, what the hell. It’s where we seem headed. We just watched a wonderful old film in our collection, The Lion in Winter, with Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn. It’s about an aging King Henry and his quarrelsome and underhanded kids, all of whom wish to be king or at the least Lord of their own realm.  Their realms are, of course, fairly scruffy since it was 1183.
And I thought, as I watched, “why this is what our republican brethren wish to recreate.”  Not sure who is aiming to play the various parts—Rand, of course, wishes to be Richard, the ablest of the nasty clan, trying very hard to position himself as the heir apparent.  And the King . . . hmmm. Perhaps The Donald . . . no obviously the Donald himself, since he seems to want so badly to be the one who crowns one of the little republican hopefuls (and says to the rest, “you’re fired”). And I thought, maybe Michelle, or Sarah for the queen. They’re both every bit as devious as Queen Eleanor, but neither seems much smarter than my pet rock, so they wouldn’t really serve the part well. But then most republican hopefuls seem a couple of beers short of a six pack, so perhaps the girls are “normal” in republican world.
And as Henry goes about kicking his royal loyal armsmen in the ass to get them moving whenever he wants to go somewhere (think Chris Christie), or do something nasty, I thought, why yeah, that’s their exact model.  So, with the election results now in place, welcome to the wonderful world of 1183. I’m sure Steve Bannon and Mike Pence will fit in nicely.
And in other news, it is rumored that Rand Paul has advocated the official adoption of the Mayan calendar, since it is about as scientific as his colleagues are comfortable with. We understand that they now predict that the world has already officially ended.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Election

Well, we fucked up big time. Exactly how this came about, though, is the great mystery.  We need desperately to understand how this nation could possibly have elected this deeply flawed, thoughtless individual masquerading as a human being. 

It is not as though we didn’t know his flaws, and the absence of any balancing virtues. He apparently comes virtue-free. And everyone knew that. So, why did they nonetheless vote for him? Well, many folks simply dismissed Hillary. It was a vote between two evils, they say. Well no, it wasn’t. There really is no equating Hillary's flaws, and she has some, with Trump’s. They say she lies. Excuse me, Hillary lies??? Did you really just say that, as though Trump is a truth machine? The scale of Trump’s lies are so vast and so purposefully evil that the two people simply cannot be compared. A vast right wing conspiracy she called it 20 years ago, and it seems that it does exist. A combination of Fox News and the echo chamber of Facebook and other “social media” combined to produce this enormous flood of misinformation about Hillary. She has in fact devoted a large section of her life to helping others in need. Trump has never stooped to the helping thing. He helps only himself. Has Hillary acted in ways to better, even enrich, herself? Doubtless. But she also has acted to better the lives of others.  He seemingly never has.

We know, we know. He stiffs everyone with whom he comes into contact.  He treats everyone he meets as a potential mark. So, we knew all that. Oh and we also knew that he is incapable of focusing on anything beyond five minutes. He apparently neither reads nor writes, because he is incapable of focusing—that adult ADHD thing.  So how/why would we imagine he should be in charge of our nuclear arsenal?  Why would we imagine he could negotiate international treaties, when he doesn’t seem to understand anything?

Oh, and by the way, we also knew that the Trump’s VP pick, Mike Pence is, if anything, even more to the right, even more of a Neanderthal than Trump. Trump is entirely unpredictable. Pence is a known man of evil purposes, quite predictable.

So, how did this happen?

Well, the right wing propaganda machine certainly carries a large part of the solution. They were effective at their game, which was to destroy the credibility of the “other party”, or the left wing. Fox News, their faithful ally in this war of words is amazingly successful at their game. They are a lying machine, but a slick one.

Facebook and other social media is also part of this machine. It isn’t that the social media are biased, because they seem to carry no bias. But, by design, they allow everyone to channel, and to build walls around their information inputs. I build such walls myself, so I am familiar with the concept. When you surround yourself with one information source, one that suits your personal interests, then your side of the story approaches righteousness.

But the concept of “Truthiness” also plays a large part in Trump’s election. What is “Truthiness” you might ask? Well, Stephen Colbert coined it in a segment of his program he called “The Word”.  Colbert explains:

Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word . . . It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the President [George W. Bush] because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?...

Truthiness is 'What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.' It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.”

And the Trump built on Truthiness to establish his base of support, a base that never wavered and even grew during his unlikely campaign.  Folks out there are pissed about many things.  The big banks piss them off. Global companies that move jobs overseas piss them off. Hedge fund managers that cause stock markets to crash piss them off.  Presidents that lie to us and then send our armies to fight in stupid, illegal wars piss them off.  The list is endless. Many American towns have been bypassed and the good old days (say the 1950’s) are gone forever.

The fact that the Trump participated freely in these events seems not to have been noticed. Virtually all Trump products get made overseas, He makes a lot of money by investing in global, even Russian markets. But he says things the pissed off folks want to hear. He gives them voice. He sees regulations aimed at curbing climate change as the enemy and says exactly that. They like his commentaries. He also gives voice to the discontented folks who hate blacks, Latinos, and other folks of color, because they believe they are taking jobs white guys need.  So Trump promises to ban them, kick them out, build walls . . . and the discontented folks love it.

Somehow, all this loose talk also managed to support many thousands of people who had been in the closet—our very large collection of racists and neo-Nazi’s.  It seems clear that the election of a black man, Barack Obama, brought them out. The Tea Party seems to be the KKK wing of the Republican Party.  When Neo-Nazi and Racist/KKK groups formally endorsed Trump, it should have appalled his supporters, but it did not. They continued applauding. When he threatened violence should he lose the election, they applauded even harder and louder. And the rest of us were appalled, but we failed to pay attention to what was actually happening.

When he ran as a candidate, one of 16, we all laughed. Even the comedians applauded, because he provided so much material for them.  But we never really paid attention to what had happened overseas—the BREXIT vote. In Britain, the Tory/right wing campaign to end British participation in the EU—the European Union—included an ocean of lies. Nigel Farage was one of the prime spokesman for Truthiness. “We will bring back 250 million pounds per week and reinvest it into the National Health Service” he said.  And the same pissed-off folks in Britain, the people annoyed about job losses and immigration, believed him.  And the BREXIT voters prevailed. They voted to leave the EU, followed almost immediately by Nigel Farage stating that, “well no, that was a mistake to promise all that money would come back into the NHS”.  In short, the folks had been had. More “Truthiness” in action.

So, somehow, we are all to blame for not noticing what was happening to our political dialogue in the country. We pretended not to notice. And now we must all pay the price. And what is that price, you might ask?? Well, funny you should ask, because nobody really knows. Donald Trump seems to be an empty set. He says a lot of bullshit, but he really doesn’t seem to know anything. He promises a lot of stupid things (build the wall) but we have actually no idea what he will do. And, the saddest and most dangerous part of all this is that we actively encouraged the ultra-right-wing by electing back into office all those republicans who participated in the past 8 years of refusing to govern. Now they can govern, or not. We have given them a carte blanche.

Good luck on that one. So hang on folks, we may be in or a very bumpy ride, hopefully one that does not end with a series of mushroom clouds.