Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Midnight Meme Of The Day!


- by Bob Dylan

Only pawns in their game. So sang Bob Dylan. He was singing about the assassination of Medgar Evers and how politicians and others in authority use poor whites as pawns and pit people against eachother to gain and keep power. But if Bob Dylan were to rewrite his song today, he could write it about the children with cancer who were at increased risk when republicans wouldn't fund CHIP when they'd had months to do so but didn't because they wanted to use those children in their shutdown game. He could also write a verse about DACA and the Dreamers, many of whom could be sent to their deaths, and, he could certainly write one about our people who serve in the military. All were pawns in this game, as were we all.

CHIP and the DACA got a lot of coverage in the most recent Government Shutdown (or Shitdown as I call it when Señor Trumpanzee clouds my mind), but, the use of our military people as pawns got less attention. As both sides pushed their various pawns around the slimy congressional chessboard, it was the Republicans, once again pretending that they were the party that supports the troops more than the other guys, not that either party has much of a right to make that claim. Mitch McConnell and his crew of miscreants made a big deal of our military not getting paid because of his shutdown. Of course, he didn't say it was his shutdown. He ignored that rule about "He who lives in a glass house shouldn't throw stones" and pointed his manicured fingers at the other guys. That's what politicians do. They think they are born to do it and they do it because we let them.

Another twisted little fuck named Mike Pence slithered over to the Middle East for the weekend, apparently just to pull some more of his seemingly endless bullshit out of his bag when he spoke to a handpicked group of soldiers and cried crocodile tears about "You troops won't get paid because the Democrats hate you. The handpicked crowd even applauded on cue; just like at a gameshow. The thing is, this little worm was saying this while, back in the Capitol Building, McConnell was killing a proposal by Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill that would get "the troops" fully paid regardless of the shutdown. He even said he would take it up the very next day, which, of course he didn't, because he is incapable of an act of honesty. The whole thing gets sicker when you realize that Senator McCaskill is one of those Republican types with a D next to her name. So, for McConnell, "the troops" had nothing to do with it. It was all despicable theater. "The troops" be damned. If a Democrat was gonna propose paying those who protect us, well, I'm just gonna stand here, purse my lips and throw one of my patented hissy fits. Pawns in their game.

When I look at McConnell and Pence and the game they played over the weekend, I see them being what they were meant to be:gameshow hosts on a prison planet. They really aren't capable of much more than spinning a big wheel and saying Ha Ha! Fuck you! You lose!" And, we do. They played their game well. Republican voters got all up in arms about, not only their deep need to deport "brown people," but the "libtards don't support our troops" thing as well. They let themselves get played again. They even think people like Pence and McCConnell support them just like they thought their Señor Trumpanzee was going to save their jobs at Carrier and Sam's Club and in the coal mines, just like he said. And, that tax scam was going to make a bigly swell difference for them. Pawns in their game.

So, the shutdown is over, for a couple of weeks. What goes on in the Capitol Building isn't just a circus. It's also not just a game of Jeopardy where the public are victims and the gameshow hosts and the TV station take all their money and live on it. The Capitol Building is a horror movie. The Capitol Building is the hotel in The Shining. One day, I'll be looking at that beautiful dome, that dome flanked by the House of so-called representatives on one side and the $enate on the other and it'll be like that elevator scene where blood is oozing and then rushing out of the elevator. But, this time, it won't be blood that's pouring out every door and window and flowing down those marble steps. It'll be exactly what you'd expect. It will be the essence of the people who work there. It will be a tidal wave of raw sewage.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Not Enough Good Protest Music-- Here's A Great One About A Fucking Businesman Laughing Like A Spoiled Child


People are always complaining that in the '60s there was a lot of great protest music and that now there isn't. There was in the '60s, though much of it was "underground." Today there's plenty as well-- and much of it-- maybe more of it-- is underground. Look harder. Do you know Company of Thieves, the Chicago band that;s been recording and touring for around a decade? They put out a couple of albums and in 2014 seems to have disappeared. They're back-- with a new album coming out later this year and a new 5-song EP coming out February 23. The new EP has an acoustic version of "Treasure," the song you can-- you should-- listen to above. I guess it's obvious which orange hued orangoutang they're talking about in the song, right?

Right now they're on tour with Walk the Moon. Tonight they played in Pittsburgh and tomorrow they'll be at the Fillmore in Detroit. Friday it's a big homecoming at the Aragon in Chicago and Saturday at the Egyptian in Indianapolis and Sunday at the Ryman in Nashville. Lot's of dates through the South after that, then the West Coast. On the day the EP gets released they'll ve at the Orpheum in Madison and the next night the tour wraps up at the Palace in Minneapolis. And after that? Solo tour. You should make an effort to see these guys; Genevieve Schatz, the singer, sounds wonderful recorded but live she's even more powerful.


You're a treasure to me
To have, hold and to keep
Heaven has no rage like
When you took all the love, love

You're a pleasure for me
To let in and let lead
Hell hath no fury like
When you took all the love, love

Racing up the cold dead mountain
Slipping into your old habits
Keeping tabs on places I have been
Yeah you took all the love, love

Running through the city shouting
Trusting that one day you'll hear it
I'd rather die than be silent
Yeah you took all the love, love

You're a puzzle to me
Build the borders and leave middle pieces empty
Yeah you took all the love, love

Posing for the pictures
You're still laughing like a spoiled child
Pageantry to make believe you're in
Yeah you took all the love, love

Hiding underneath the holders
Of the kings that came before ya
Guarantee the speed you'll make heads spin
Yeah you took all the love, love

Ooh, I can't have you
Ooh, I won't have you anymore
Ooh, I can't have you
Ooh, I won't have you anymore

Bagging up the money, honey
Tearing up the treaty, sweetie
Cutting off the maybe, baby
Yeah you took all the love, love

Signing up to keep on drilling
Setting out to make a killing
How could just a fucking business man
Really take all the love, love?

Ooh, I can't have you
Ooh, I won't have you anymore
Ooh, I can't have you
Ooh, I won't have you anymore

You're the villain for me
Keep close thy enemy
To have, hold and to keep

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Pennsylvania Ordered To Un-Gerrymander Before The Midterms (ie, Immediately)


Meehan will be the first Republican flushed away

As if things weren't bad enough for Chester the Molester, his gerrymandered district-- the only thing that has kept him in Congress-- is being wiped off the face of the map-- literally! Pat Meehan is done for... and he's not the only Pennsylvania Republican who is, either. He's been exposed for using tax payer money as hush money to quiet a woman staffer has his age he was molesting; Paul Ryan kicked him off the Ethics Committee. And how the most gerrymandered district in the country is going bye-bye... as he will soon be. As expected, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the contemptible congressional map as unconstitutional because it was drawn to drastically-- "clearly, plainly and palpably"-- benefit Republicans. The Justices ruled that the 2018 elections must be fought under new fairer boundaries.
The justices gave the Republican-controlled Legislature until Feb. 9 to pass a replacement and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf until Feb. 15 to submit it to the court. Otherwise, the justices said they will adopt a plan in an effort to keep the May 15 primary election on track.

The decision comes amid a national tide of gerrymandering cases, including some that have reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

Democrats cheered the decision to toss out a Republican-drawn map used in three general elections going back to 2012. The map, they say, gave Republicans crucial help in securing 13 of 18 seats in a state where registered Democratic voters outnumber Republicans 5 to 4.

“We won the whole thing,” said David Gersch of the Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer law firm in Washington, D.C., which is helping represent the group of registered Democrats who filed the lawsuit last June.

The defendants-- top Republican lawmakers-- said they would ask the U.S. Supreme Court this week to step in and put the decision on hold. The state court’s decision lacks clarity, precedent and respect for the constitution and would introduce chaos into the state’s congressional races, they said.

The Senate’s top Republican lawyer, Drew Crompton, called the timeline to draw new districts “borderline unworkable,” but said Republicans will do everything they can to comply.

The decision has immediate implications for the 2018 election, meaning that 14 sitting members of Congress and dozens more people are planning to run in districts they may no longer live in. The deadline to file paperwork to run in primaries is March 6.

It also has implications for GOP control of Congress, since only Texas, California and Florida send more Republicans to the U.S. House than Pennsylvania.

Republicans who controlled Pennsylvania’s Legislature and governor’s office following the 2010 census broke decades of geographical precedent when redrawing the map, producing contorted shapes, including one dubbed “Goofy kicking Donald Duck.”

They shifted whole counties and cities into different districts in an effort to protect a Republican advantage in the congressional delegation. They succeeded, as Republicans in the delegation grew from 12 to 13, even as Pennsylvania lost a seat to account for the state’s relatively slow population growth.

...The nation’s high court has never struck down an electoral map as a partisan gerrymander. However, Monday’s decision in Pennsylvania could provide a new avenue to gerrymandering claims.

It is the first state court decision to throw out a congressional map because of partisan gerrymandering, said Michael Li, senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Li said there isn’t a clear federal basis for the U.S. Supreme Court to step into the case, and that the state Supreme Court should have the final say in a case under state law.

“That’s a real long shot,” Li said, “but the stakes are high and it’s not surprising that (Republicans) would ask.”
Pennsylvania Republicans in the legislature packed Democrats into a few districts to divide a 50/50 state's 198 congressional district in such a way to guarantee the Republicans 13 seats. Other ridiculously-drawn districts besides Meehan's (PA-07), include PA-13 (Brendan Boyle's), PA-06 (Ryan Costello's), PA-16 (Lloyd Smucker's), PA-10 (Tom Marino's), PA-11 (Lou Barletta's), PA-12 (Keith Rothfus'), PA-18 (open) and PA-03 (Mike Kelly's). I asked state Sen. Daylin Leach who had gone to hear the oral arguments. He was overjoyed: "After fighting this battle for 15 years, I'm thrilled the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has chosen to strike down the obscene gerrymander we've been living under and make the voters relevant again."

Matt Cartwright, who represents Scranton, Wilkes Barre and Nazareth in a bizarrely carved out district in eastern PA, is one of the only sensible members of Congress from Pennsylvania. This morning he asked, "Tired of incessant bickering in Washington? Sick of Democrats and Republicans just talking past each other?  Fed up with Congress oscillating from hard-left to hard-right, depending on which side wins? Annoyed that vast amounts of Congressional time is taken up repealing or undoing whatever the last majority accomplished, instead of making steady, sensible, lasting bipartisan progress on the issues that really matter to people? If so, you should share my abiding dislike for partisan gerrymandering, which, with Citizens United, I regard as one of the twin cancers mortally threatening our American democracy. I applaud the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s brilliant decision yesterday. It is a bright, shining beacon of hope for our democracy, and an example to other States on how they can do their part in helping our nation find its way out of the morbid mess we’re in right now."

UPDATE: Today's Special Election-- Another Huge Swing Blue

House District 35 southeast of Pittsburgh-- the Monongahela Valley, McKeesport-- leans blue. Hillary beat Trump there 58-39%. Last November Marc Gergely (D) resigned after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges relating to an illegal gambling machine ring. He had just been reelected 62.5% to 37.5%. Democrat Austin Davis beat Republican Fawn Montgomery-- the same candidate Gergely had beaten in 2016 but he beat her by a massive 74-26%, primarily because disheartened Republicans didn't show up to vote and Democrats did. Turnout was slightly over 10%.

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Only The Best People


One of the billion or so lies from the Trumpanzee family was when Ivanka spoke at the Republican National Convention-- the one that insinuated that Trump isn't a racist and that claimed he hires the "best people"-- two whoppers. Watch; it's just 17 seconds. He's hired and fired more top people in the shortest amount of time than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W, Bush and Barack Obama combined. Who's next? I know who it should be. And so does Lindsey Graham. At a press gaggle about the shutdown yesterday Graham said that "Every time we have a proposal it is only yanked back by staff members. As long as Stephen Miller is in charge of negotiating immigration, we're going nowhere... the White House staff, I think, is making it very difficult." Miller is a notorious racist-- and has been since high school-- and he has kept Trump from compromising on the DREAMers. He had a White House spokesperson send a warning shot over Graham's bow:
"As long as Senator Graham chooses to support legislation that sides with people in this country illegally and unlawfully instead of our own American citizens, we are going nowhere. He’s been an outlier for years."
Trump has been feuding on and off from months with Miller's mentor, Jeff Sessions. Many people think Trump will give him the ax next. But... two reports from Jonathan Swan in Axios yesterday indicate that "next" could mean either Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross or Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Trump seems to have lost confidence in Ross some time ago.
Ross’s efforts to wheel and deal with the Chinese have left the president unimpressed. Another problem: He keeps falling asleep in meetings.

Early in Trump’s presidency, Ross was his go-to negotiator, helming the administration’s trade talks with the Chinese. After a few months, though, Trump concluded he was doing a terrible job.

In a series of Oval Office meetings about six months into his presidency, Trump eviscerated Ross, telling him he’d screwed up, and badly.
“These trade deals, they’re terrible,” Trump said, according to a source in the room for one of the meetings. “Your understanding of trade is terrible. Your deals are no good. No good.”
Trump told Ross he didn’t trust him to negotiate anymore. Ross had tried in the early months of the administration, before Robert Lighthizer was confirmed as the U.S. Trade Representative, to take the lead on several crucial trade conversations. Once Lighthizer arrived there was a tussle for control over several issues. But after Ross botched-- in Trump's eyes-- his dealings with China, he decided Lighthizer would be the lead negotiator on all trade issues.

During this period, Trump humiliated Ross in front of his colleagues, per three sources, and questioned his intelligence and competence.

The Financial Times reported in August that Trump rejected a China steel deal that Ross thought he’d closed. But nobody has reported the extent of Trump’s castration of Ross. Trump has effectively taken his Commerce Secretary-- who he once called a “killer”-- off the playing field.
One example: Ross made a deal to open the U.S. market to cooked Chinese chicken, in exchange for the Chinese opening their market to American beef. Ross told reporters it was a “herculean accomplishment,” and “more than has been done in the whole history of U.S.-China relations on trade,” per the AP.
But Trump wasn’t impressed with this deal-- at all-- and told our sources he found Ross’s boasting to be laughable and ridiculous.
Ross’s propensity to doze off in meetings-- which senior Capitol Hill aides have noticed-- hasn’t helped.

Ross entered the administration as one of Trump’s favorites, poised to be a power player. Trump has known Ross since the bankruptcy tycoon helped keep him financially afloat in the early 1990s. Trump was proud that Ross-- this billionaire Wall Street legend-- wanted to work for him.

“Wilbur is so famous on Wall Street he only needs one name,” Trump said in an early meeting with White House visitors, according to a source in the room. “You don’t even need to say his last name; you just say Wilbur and they know who you’re talking about.”

... [S]ources close to Trump say he’ll never again trust the 80-year-old to be his “killer” negotiator. The recent Forbes article-- revealing that Ross vastly exaggerated his net worth-- did not help his internal standing.

“Wilbur’s been sucking up for months, trying to get back in the president’s good graces,” said a source close to Trump.
Moments late Swan posted a similar story about Zinke, this one about Trump's displeasure about Zinke "going rogue."
Two weeks ago, Zinke made an announcement that surprised the White House (and over Twitter, no less, after telling reporters at the Tallahassee airport): the waters around Florida would be exempt from his agency’s offshore oil and gas leasing program. Zinke’s announcement came shortly after he met with the state’s Republican governor, Rick Scott.

Trump has made clear to Zinke that he’s angry about this move, according to two sources with direct knowledge. Zinke's decision is both legally and politically dangerous for the Trump administration. Zinke did not coordinate with anybody, and gave the White House no forewarning of his controversial action.

...Environmental groups and attorneys general from other coastal states will likely use the move to justify suing the federal government, arguing it was arbitrary and capricious to remove Florida but not other coastal states.

Zinke’s move is targeting the waters with the richest oil and gas resources: the Eastern Gulf of Mexico next to Florida. This undercuts Trump’s energy dominance agenda. For that reason, former officials of the agency predict the department will try to find a way to include at least portions of it in the final plan.

...Multiple sources tell me it would be a massive stretch to say this incident has ruined Zinke's relationship with Trump. There's nothing irreparable here, though the incident has damaged Zinke's standing in the administration.

Or maybe it will be Kelly who's the next to be headed for the busy exit. According to Vanity Fair, Ivanka is already looking for a new chief of staff for her insane father. Gabriel Sherman reported yesterday that Trump said "I’ve got another nut job here who thinks he's running things."

Sherman reported that "Trump’s anger at Kelly’s immigration comments is the latest flare-up in a relationship that has been deteriorating for months. A four-star marine general, Kelly was never going to be an easy fit in a West Wing with a Lord of the Flies office culture. Staffers have bristled at Kelly’s rectitude, nicknaming him 'the Church Lady,' a former official said... Trump has increasingly been chafing at the media narrative that he needs Kelly to instill discipline on his freewheeling management style. 'The more Kelly plays up that he’s being the adult in the room-- that it’s basically combat duty and he’s serving the country-- that kind of thing drives Trump nuts,' a Republican close to the White House said. In recent days, Trump has fumed to friends that Kelly acts like he’s running the government while Trump tweets and watches television."

White House Shakeup-- Who's Next? by Nancy Ohanian

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Republicans Are Starting To Get Marijuana Campaign Money While Establishment Dems Sleep


Last summer we met Jasper Ward and his dad, former Kentucky congressman Mike Ward. Since then Jasper and Mike have been helping progressive candidates around the country-- like Kendra Fershee in West Virginia and Dan Canon in Indiana-- with marijuana legalization messaging. Yesterday Jasper noted that "Democrats are missing a huge opportunity to be strong on an issue that not only is good policy, not only is popular with voters, but also is good politics. Republicans will never legalize nationwide, and are trying to take us back a generation now."

Mike is describing the geriatric Democratic leadership, not cutting edge progressive candidates and not tuned-in leaders. Last week, for example, Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland and Berkley in Congress and Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, introduced the Marijuana Justice Act to, in Lee's words, "reverse decades of failed drug policies that have caused irreparable damage to communities of color. Senator Cory Booker is the leading the same charge in the Senate. This is the most ambitious marijuana bill to be introduced in Congress-- and for good reason. For far too long, our country’s drug laws have failed communities of color, torn families apart, wasted billions of taxpayer dollars, and have yet to keep us safe. The time has come for Congress to step up and have the courage to do what Jeff Sessions is not, which is to take a close look at this issue and pass legislation to fix our country’s drug laws. Right now, arrests for marijuana account for more than half of all drug arrests in the United States. Under our current drug laws, police have arrested more Americans in possession of marijuana than all violent crimes combined, and most of those arrests fall disproportionately on people of color. The Marijuana Justice Act reverses these trends by:
Removing marijuana from a list of controlled substances, legalizing it at the federal level.
Expunging federal marijuana use and possession of crimes.
Establishing a community reinvestment fund to help pave a pathway forward for communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
"I’ll say it again: we are not going to turn our backs on progress and return to an era of failed drug policies and mass incarceration. We are not going to stand idly by while communities of color suffer unfairly under our country’s failed drug policies. And we are certainly not going to wait for Jeff Sessions and this administration to do something about it."

Early yesterday morning, Trevor Hughes, writing for USA Today reported that marijuana money increasingly flowing to Republican lawmakers. Under the out-of-step leadership of expired-date Democrats like Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn and Crowley, Democrats are ignoring an important issue in an important and vibrant industry with a huge base of support. They are... old and in the way.
Marijuana business owners are increasingly pouring their profits into lobbying lawmakers as they face a federal crackdown from the Trump administration.

A USA Today survey found hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing from the cannabis industry into campaign finance accounts of both lawmakers and political action committees, with emphasis this year on Congressional Republicans who are trying to stop the Trump administration from targeting marijuana businesses.

Combined, medical and recreational marijuana marketplaces across the country are worth a staggering $8 billion, and last year generated at least $2 billion in taxes, said Matt Karnes of cannabis data firm GreenWave Advisors. It’s no surprise those businesses want to protect what they’ve built, experts say.

“These are legitimate, taxpaying businesses that want and deserve to be heard, and lawmakers at every level of government have become more comfortable with accepting their contributions,” said Mason Tvert, a cannabis activist who helped lead Colorado’s legalization effort in 2012.

Politicians are increasingly willing to accept those contributions from an industry that remains illegal at the federal level and now faces even more scrutiny after Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month rolled back Obama administrationpolicies not to interfere with state laws allowing people to use recreational marijuana.

...Democrats have typically been the largest recipients of marijuana campaign money in the past, but Republicans are now taking the lead in accepting those donations, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed contributions at the request of USA Today. Experts say the recent shift is largely attributable to the belief by marijuana businesses that Republicans who support states' rights are their best allies today.

...Republican California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher recently became a favored lawmaker of cannabis contributors for his strong support of the industry: He's the author of legislation banning the Justice Department from targeting legal medical marijuana businesses. Rohrabacher said he’s noticing more and more marijuana money and lobbying on Capitol Hill.

“They’ve got a lot to learn. But they’re learning it because they’re here now,” he said. “The voters of those states have granted them the title of legitimate businessmen.”

The rapidly growing marijuana industry is finding that politicians are increasingly willing to accept their campaign contributions, said Eli Scislowicz, the operations director of the NuLeaf cannabis dispensary in Lake Tahoe’s Incline Village, Nev.

“In 2007, we might have gotten a few weird looks if we offered them money, but not anymore,” he said.
Goal ThermometerIf you'd like to see more members of Congress who will fight for legalization, please consider contributing to candidates who are working towards that already. You can see a list of them-- and contribute to their campaigns if you want to-- by tapping on the ActBlue Green Wave thermometer on the right. I spoke with Alan Grayson about this. When he was in the House, he told me that he didn't just vote for legalization. "I wrote a bill," he explained, "providing that the federal government could not punish marijuana use any more than the state does, which I then pushed out to Republicans as a 'states’ rights' bill. I also rounded up Democrats to vote for Dana’s amendment allowing V.A. doctors to prescribe marijuana for pain relief wherever it’s legal, which passed.

Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel, is also thinking about veterans when it comes to this policy. "When it comes to marijuana, he told me, "we need to research, regulate and tax. Anecdotal evidence indicates that marijuana may be an effective treatment for PTSD. California expects marijuana taxes to have a substantial change on revenues.; so research, regulate and tax."

Blue America's newest endorsed candidate, Nina Ahmad in Philly, has a similarly sensible perspective: "The 'War on Drugs' policies have unfairly targeted communities of color since their inception. We can't allow the rich and the large corporations to control this industry and turn their backs on those communities which have felt the devastating negative effects without seeing any positive growth."

Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, the progressive candidate for the open blue seat in Albuquerque said that "As a longtime law professor and advocate for criminal justice reforms, I believe that our so-called war on drugs has led to deeply harmful racial disparities in our incarceration rates, and that is largely due to our marijuana policy. While I have supported state-level ballot measures that would decriminalize and legalize marijuana use, I also believe we need to have a national/federal strategy. While I don't always agree with him, I've been heartened by Senator Booker's recently introduced bill, the Marijuana Justice Act, which would legalize marijuana, expunge federal marijuana convictions and penalize states with racially-disparate arrests or incarceration rates for marijuana-related crimes. If we care about reforming our criminal justice system, the conversation has to begin with the legalization of marijuana. Otherwise, we are letting this corrosive imbalance in incarceration continue unabated. This is simply another example of institutionalized racism."

And Marie Newman, the progressive running for the Chicagoland seat occupied by Blue Dog Dan Lipinski, summed it up it up nicely: "We have the information we need. We need to legalize."

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Economic Inequality-- Not Just Public Policy... It Starts On A Personal Level


A lot of voters-- voters who don't know rich people, I always thought-- were impressed with Trump's claims that because he was so rich he wouldn't be susceptible to taking bribes and being a crook. Personally, I know lots of rich people so I recognized Trump was lying-- lying egregiously, tricking voters by design.

At the end of 2013, Paul Piff, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior at UC Irvine gave the TED talk above, which I urge you to watch. Piff describes his primary academic interest as "how social hierarchy, economic inequality and social class, and social emotion shape relations between individuals and groups." Conclusion seems to be that rich people have a great tendency towards greed, avarice, entitlement, delusion about their own abilities and general sociopathic behavior. I guess it's why the French and Russian revolutions killed so many of them. It's why the year after Piff's TED Talk, billionaire Nick Hanauer warned fellow plutocrats that the pitchforks are coming. "I have," he admitted, "been rewarded obscenely for that with a life that most of you all can't even imagine: multiple homes, a yacht, my own plane, etc., etc., etc." He went on:
But let's be honest: I am not the smartest person you've ever met. I am certainly not the hardest working. I was a mediocre student. I'm not technical at all. I can't write a word of code. Truly, my success is the consequence of spectacular luck, of birth, of circumstance and of timing. But I am actually pretty good at a couple of things. One, I have an unusually high tolerance for risk, and the other is I have a good sense, a good intuition about what will happen in the future, and I think that that intuition about the future is the essence of good entrepreneurship.

So what do I see in our future today, you ask? I see pitchforks, as in angry mobs with pitchforks, because while people like us plutocrats are living beyond the dreams of avarice, the other 99 percent of our fellow citizens are falling farther and farther behind. In 1980, the top one percent of Americans shared about eight percent of national [income], while the bottom 50 percent of Americans shared 18 percent. Thirty years later, today, the top one percent shares over 20 percent of national [income], while the bottom 50 percent of Americans share 12 or 13. If the trend continues, the top one percent will share over 30 percent of national [income] in another 30 years, while the bottom 50 percent of Americans will share just six.

You see, the problem isn't that we have some inequality. Some inequality is necessary for a high-functioning capitalist democracy. The problem is that inequality is at historic highs today and it's getting worse every day. And if wealth, power, and income continue to concentrate at the very tippy top, our society will change from a capitalist democracy to a neo-feudalist rentier society like 18th-century France. That was France before the revolution and the mobs with the pitchforks.

So I have a message for my fellow plutocrats and zillionaires and for anyone who lives in a gated bubble world: Wake up. Wake up. It cannot last. Because if we do not do something to fix the glaring economic inequities in our society, the pitchforks will come for us, for no free and open society can long sustain this kind of rising economic inequality. It has never happened. There are no examples. You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state or an uprising. The pitchforks will come for us if we do not address this. It's not a matter of if, it's when. And it will be terrible when they come for everyone, but particularly for people like us plutocrats."
Piff found in his studies the same thing that Hanauer found in his own social observations: "We're at unprecedented levels of economic inequality. What that means is that wealth is not only becoming increasingly concentrated in the hands of a select group of individuals, but the American dream is becoming increasingly unattainable for an increasing majority of us. And if it's the case, as we've been finding, that the wealthier you are, the more entitled you feel to that wealth, and the more likely you are to prioritize your own interests above the interests of other people, and be willing to do things to serve that self-interest, well, then, there's no reason to think that those patterns will change. In fact, there's every reason to think that they'll only get worse, and that's what it would look like if things just stayed the same, at the same linear rate, over the next 20 years." Why is that important? He doesn't talk about pitchforks or guillotines or firing squads.
[I]nequality-- economic inequality-- is something we should all be concerned about, and not just because of those at the bottom of the social hierarchy, but because individuals and groups with lots of economic inequality do worse ... not just the people at the bottom, everyone. There's a lot of really compelling research coming out from top labs all over the world, showcasing the range of things that are undermined as economic inequality gets worse. Social mobility, things we really care about, physical health, social trust, all go down as inequality goes up. Similarly, negative things in social collectives and societies, things like obesity, and violence, imprisonment, and punishment, are exacerbated as economic inequality increases. Again, these are outcomes not just experienced by a few, but that resound across all strata of society. Even people at the top experience these outcomes.

So what do we do? This cascade of self-perpetuating, pernicious, negative effects could seem like something that's spun out of control, and there's nothing we can do about it, certainly nothing we as individuals could do. But in fact, we've been finding in our own laboratory research that small psychological interventions, small changes to people's values, small nudges in certain directions, can restore levels of egalitarianism and empathy. For instance, reminding people of the benefits of cooperation or the advantages of community, cause wealthier individuals to be just as egalitarian as poor people.
This is the kind of solidarity Randy "IronStache" Bryce's campaign-- in fact his whole brand-- is all about. The DCCC is desperate to figure out how to duplicate Bryce's brand. Ben Ray Lujan himself showed up in Racine to see what he could discern. He couldn't discern anything, of course. Bryce has a more powerful brand than any DCCC candidate. He's raising more campaign funds-- from more people-- than any DCCC candidate. Why? Bryce, a union activist, is all about solidarity. The DCCC New Dems and Blue Dogs from the Republican wing of the Democratic Party don't know what solidarity is. They've never felt it, not for a moment in their lives. They won't ever represent us. Randy and candidates like him will represent real people DCCC-New Dem garbage careerist candidates are the enemy of regular people. They stink. Are they better than Republicans? Sure-- more or less. Are they worth a bucket of spit? No? A bucket of piss? No. Should you vote for them? Certainly not in a primary. Against a Republican in November? Make up your own mind about that. I wouldn't. I've never voted for my Blue Dog-New Dem congressman, Adam Schiff, since he was first elected. And I never will. I've never voted for California Senator Dianne Feinstein, not when she ran for the Board of Supervisors, for mayor of San Francisco, for governor or for senator. She represents wealthy special interests, not me and not the issues or values I care about.

Goal ThermometerThere's a reason I asked Kansas Democrat James Thompson to put an exclamation point on the end of this post. This is heavy... and if you find it as compelling as I do, please consider contributing to his campaign at the ActBlue 2018 congressional thermometer on the right.
As someone who was once homeless, I understand better than most the pain and struggle of being truly poor. As I have climbed the ladder of success, I witnessed firsthand that the ladders are not equal; they are not the same for every person. Some are shorter, some are longer, and some don't have a ladder at all, but rather an elevator that only stops at the penthouse. I do not hate the rich. I want to be rich myself. What I find offensive is not the wealth but the greed. The type of greed that pushes people down rather than pulling everyone up. Income inequality is the greatest injustice of our time because it creates so much other injustice in its wake in areas such as criminal justice reform, healthcare, sex trafficking, racism, sexism, employment, campaign finances etc. When our children are sick, should we not be able to get them care? When men and women give of themselves a full days labor for the betterment of our society, should they not enjoy a full days wages that allows them the basic dignity of taking care of themselves and their family. Shouldn't a poor man's vote count just as much as the rich man's?

The true battle for our country's future is not between the left and the right, but between the top and the bottom. Charles Koch is credited with saying "I only want my fair share. ALL OF IT!", which highlights the greed of the privileged princes of Wall Street. Through corporate socialism over the past 40 years, a/k/a "trickle down economics," the billionaire boys club redistributed the wealth of this country to themselves and now use that wealth to pay for the oppression of working people by sewing division and keeping the masses in disarray. The shadow oligarchy controlling this country knows that a populace divided by racism, sexism and xenophobia cannot unite sufficiently to wrest power from them or their puppets in Congress. However, while much of our country's wealth is concentrated in a relative few individuals such as the KOCH brothers, the real power of this country is located in the people, working class people, but only if we unite, for with unity comes great strength and power to demand change.

Consequently, campaign finance reform is probably the most pressing issue confronting Americans in 2018 and 2020. We must fix the system, before we can fix the problems in the system. We must remove the ability of corporations to control our political arenas and representatives by reversing Citizen's United.  We must than ensure that working people are paid a fair days pay for a fair days labor and moving our minimum wages to $15 and adjusting it annually based on inflation.  Next, we must make sure that the product of our labor is no longer amassed by the rich but instead remains with us through a fair and progressive tax policy. Passing a Medicare-for-all policy that at minimum contains a public option, will guarantee working Americans are no longer slaves to the grind simply working for their healthcare and instead are free to move from job to job and maximize the fruit of their labor. Finally, we must guarantee education for all citizens at public universities to remove the anchor of student loans from around the neck of our populace. To "make America great again" we must restore our democracy to one that again enables social mobilization instead of the veiled caste system that we have become. United we stand, divided we fall.

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Midnight Meme Of The Day!


-by Noah

To those who marched, we salute you!

I'm happy to see marches like the ones we saw this past weekend and I'd like to see more of them with even more people. It's a measure of how evil Trump and his party and their policies are that more people, true patriots, march in protest of Trump-style institutionalized misogyny and more than attended his sad little inauguration. But, although the gesture is excellent, we need more. Step it up. We need maximum voter turnout in November and I happen to think that, between now and November, a series of national strikes would make a continuing statement. So would accelerated derision aimed directly at an insecure mess like Trump. Personally, I've been enjoying the wave of snarky negative Shithole reviews Señor Trumpanzee's hotels have been getting on Yelp. Release the hounds!

I'd like to see lots of things, like Democrats growing some balls and giving as good as they get from psychopaths like Señor Trumpanzee, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, instead of behaving like cowed little wimps. Too many of them go along to get along, if only because they are really just Republicans with a D next to their name, owned by the same people.

Unfortunately, some of the things I see in my mind's eye may not be exactly legal, even if they are moral. How else do you fight an amoral enemy who lives on your tax dollars, inflicts human misery on you, and smiles? At least some marchers realize that politicians will do nothing, unless we grab them by whatever hurts and hurts bad.

Meanwhile, I do like some signs that protesters brought to the marches. Here's a few:

From New York City:

From Los Angeles:

From Philadelphia:

Trump, of course, didn't get it at all, issuing a mocking tweet:


Monday, January 22, 2018

Marianne Williamson And Bernie Sanders-- Taking To The Road To Help Save America


A little over a month ago we looked at Marianne Williamson's plans for a national tour-- the Love America Your. It's not a plan anymore. She's right in the middle of it, having completed events in Richmond, Winston-Salem (with Jenny Marshall), Houston, Austin (with Derrick Crowe) and Las Vegas. She's taking a break now and then picking up again in Florida in March.

But her event in Houston was very special-- even mind-blowing-- and it was covered by two Houston Chronicle reporters, one black (Joy Sewing) and one white (Erica Grieder). "Marianne Williamson walked to the middle of the stage," wrote Sewing, "paused for a second, then she asked all the black people to stand." There were nearly a thousand people in the room and 200, including Sewing, stood up.
The New York Times best-selling author, internationally known spiritual teacher and native Houstonian was in town recently for her "Love America Tour" at Unity of Houston. She urged the 200 of us from our seats. She then instructed a white person to hold the hand of a black person standing.

A white woman and a teenage girl who looked to be mother and daughter in the row behind me took my hand and arm.

Williamson then told the white people to repeat after her. She began with, "I apologize..."

I was at Williamson's event to celebrate my birthday, January 15, the same as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Each year, I try to attend a talk, lecture or event for my birthday that inspires and uplifts as he did. This year, it was Williamson's sell-out talk at Unity Church with some 700 people in attendance.

Her focus was on racism and politics, saying that until the United States addresses slavery honestly, gets deep about its enduring impact on African Americans and makes amends, we will continue a cycle of hate and racism in this country.

She cited Germany's effort to apologize to Jewish people for the Holocaust and pay out billions in reparations.

According to the New York Times, many Germans are not even aware that their country, after paying $89 billion in compensation mostly to Jewish victims of Nazi crimes over six decades, still meets regularly to revise and expand the guidelines for reparations. The mission is to reach as many of the tens of thousands of elderly survivors who have never received any form of support.

The U.S. State Department also has paid or approved 90 claims for $11 million in reparations from France to former World War II prisoners who were carried to Nazi death camps in French trains — the first French reparations paid to Holocaust survivors living in the U.S.

Reparations, even the "forty acres and a mule" promised in part by General William Tecumseh Sherman on Jan. 16, 1865, to former slaves, has been an ongoing debate in this country, but that's not really what Williamson focused on.

A black woman stood up and told Williamson, who is Jewish, she was struggling to deal with the hurt and hate in her heart for white people because of racism. Williamson said one of the problems is that many white people are in denial about racism, don't want to talk about it and want black people to "get over it."

Black people are angry, and it's understandable, she said.

Unfortunately, anger is our Achilles' heel.

A colleague, whom I have tremendous respect for, once asked me why many black people are so angry today. I responded with, "Why aren't you angry?"

She looked at me with a puzzled stare.

I explained that ending racism is just as much a responsibility for her white community to "get it" as it is for my black community to "explain it." Frankly, I said many of us are tired of explaining racist actions and racially insensitive and dismissive messages that permeate our world.

It's time for white people to get it and speak up, too. That's why Williamson's apology to African Americans at Unity was so powerful.

In 2016, she penned, Prayer of Apology to African Americans, and shared it on Twitter.

"With this prayer I acknowledge the depth of evils that have been perpetrated against black people in America... I apologize, please forgive us."

Before she even started, I felt on edge as I often feel when white people say things, like "You don't talk black." Honestly, I was waiting to be offended.

With nearly 200 black people in the audience on their feet, Williamson apologized for slavery, lynching, murders, rapes of black women, destruction of the black family, mass incarceration of black men, being called the N-word and systemic and institutionalized racism and more.

As she continued for what seemed like forever, I felt a rage boiling inside of me that was followed by a Viola Davis ugly cry. (Fans of Davis in ABC's How to Get Away with Murder know what I'm talking about.)

I never thought I needed an apology from white people, but it felt like I was crying for my grandmother, my great-grandmother and all my people who endured and died because of hate in this country.

I cried for all of the times I've felt marginalized, discriminated against and invisible because of the color of my skin, even in my own industry.

I cried for all of the times I've watched black children, especially girls, had their esteem beaten down to nothing because they didn't fit the standard of white beauty.

I cried because I didn't know how deep the hurt was.

I could not stop crying.

I opened my eyes to see everyone around me-- white, black, Asian like my friend, Sydney Dao, who is Vietnamese-- crying, too. I nearly collapsed to floor from the emotional weight I was feeling.

But the harder I cried, the tighter the white woman and girl held on to me.

There was a white man in the front pew who had turned around to face the entire audience. He had no one black to hold onto, but he seemed to be shouting Williamson's words for me to hear.

It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I have ever had.

On my way out, I whispered "thank you" to the white woman and girl who held onto me so tightly. They had kind eyes and thanked me back.

Marianne Williamson is right. We need healing. We need real talk about racism in this country. It's time for white people to get it.

An apology is a start.
Chronicle columnist Erica Grieder hadn't planned on attending; she didn't really know who Marianne is and hadn't read any of her books. "I really had no idea what to expect," she wrote. "On Williamson's website, the tour is billed as an effort to promote political renewal via 'a revolution in consciousness.' Fear and hatred, the site explains, have become powerful forces in politics. In Williamson's view, we can harness the powers of love and decency in response-- and, if our democracy is to survive, we must." Grieder noted that just hours before Marianne took the stage, Trump blurted out his ugly bigoted statement about people from "shithole countries."

She began by emphasizing how important it is for Americans to know the history of our nation, and to be clear-eyed about both its virtues and its flaws, and the contradictions that they reflect. We're the only country founded on small-d democratic principles, for example, but many of the men who signed the Constitution, which enshrines those principles, nonetheless owned slaves.

Since then, in Williamson's telling, the Americans who want to realize those ideals have been in a constant struggle against those who would rather not, for various reasons. Perhaps they're beneficiaries of an unjust status quo, or are subconsciously seeking to re-create a regime in which the people are subordinate to an entitled aristocracy.

The latter, Williamson continued, currently have the upper hand. And so it's incumbent on spiritual and religious communities to lead the change-- as, historically, they always have.

"People just being anti-slavery was not going to end slavery," she noted. They had to actually do something, as the Quakers did in the abolitionist movement, or as Martin Luther King Jr. did in the fight for civil rights.

But what struck me most in Williamson's talk was her explanation for why spiritual and religious communities step up to the plate.

"We don't believe in a God out there, and a devil out there, that is stalking the planet, trying to grab men's souls. We believe in something in here," she said, pointing at her head.

That being the case, spiritual and religious Americans agree that there is a world beyond the world in which we live-- a "truer reality," according to our beliefs. A world in which people are equal, and truly free.

Like all Americans, we also believe that's how things should be in this world, or at least in this country. But religious communities have, historically, been leaders in so many fights for change.

Beliefs can't be quantified, measured, or documented; as Williamson put it, the truth sometimes "becomes out-pictured" by the proximate reality. But when political leaders are flouting basic American principles, spiritual and religious Americans often object, because our civic beliefs are often reinforced by our beliefs about the truer reality.

Williamson is right, I think, about the powers of love and decency: They can harnessed, for political purposes, and should be channeled into actions accordingly. Voting is one example. Another would be pointing out that Trump's comments on Thursday should be offensive to all Americans, regardless of their political beliefs. As Americans, we believe that all people are created equal, even if they come from suboptimal countries; that is a foundational premise of this one, which Trump supposedly leads.
They have different ways of going about it but Marianne and Bernie-- who are admirers of each other-- have similar goals. Earlier today, Bernie sent his supporters about how can push back against the toxic and devastating Republican agenda. "This government shutdown and budget fight in Washington," he wrote, "is also about our priorities as a nation. Republicans want massive increases in military spending while refusing to address the crises we face in health care, education, college affordability, infrastructure and more... From coast to coast Americans want a government that represents all of us, not the 1 percent. They don't want congressional leadership that has tried repeatedly to throw tens of millions of people off their health insurance and then looted the U.S. Treasury to give massive tax breaks to their fat cat donors. This right-wing Republican leadership has got to go! And we are the ones who have to send them packing." And, like Marianne, he's getting on the road, to help foster change.
How we win is straightforward. We have all witnessed the power of grassroots politics. Whether it was the 2016 primary campaign, the millions of women who took to the streets, the people from all walks of life who showed up at airports to protest the bigoted Trump Muslim ban, or the overwhelming majority standing with our Dreamer brothers and sisters, the message is clear. When we stand together we can build the America we all want to see.

Grassroots efforts have been successful in electing new progressive voices from all walks of life in places like Virginia, New York, Alabama, Mississippi and elsewhere. Grassroots efforts can transform this country. But we have to redouble our efforts if we are going to wrest our country back from those whose greed and dishonesty is destroying it.

That is why I want to announce to you a major new three-part initiative for this year and how you can be part of the fight to take our country back.

First, I am committing to travel the country in support of progressives running up and down the ballot. Like I did when together we rallied millions against the Republicans' failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, I intend to go to every corner of this country to help build the electoral wave that will sweep Republicans out of the Congress, out of governors' mansions, out of state houses and out of city and town halls.

I hope in my travels that I will see you at these events. Your attendance is critically important to showing the strength of our movement and our resolve.

Second, as we work to create Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, I will be giving special focus to a core group of up-and-coming progressive candidates at the national and state level. We need progressive Democrats who are going to vigorously stand up against Republicans and fight for our values. But the only way they win is if we help them.

These are the type of candidates who do not draw big dollar contributions but they can prevail if we provide them the small dollar, grassroots support they need. As we introduce this growing list of candidates to you over the next couple of months I hope you will give them the support they need to carry our fight forward in their primaries and in the general election.

Finally, I am excited to announce that we will be reactivating the distributed organizing network that was at the heart of our grassroots success in 2015/2016. This will give us the capacity to reach out to millions of households by phone, by email, on social media and by text message.

This will give each of you the power to help elect progressives and defeat Republicans all across the country.

What we have seen over the last depressing year is a full out assault on working people of all races, an assault on marginalized communities and an assault on people based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and national origin.

Goal ThermometerTrump and the Republicans want to divide and conquer while the billionaire class laughs all the way to the bank and the rest of America falls further and further behind. We cannot let them do it.

The late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan summed it up so well when she described the aspiration of everyone in this country-- "What the people want is very simple-- they want an America as good as its promise."

Creating that America has been the motivation of my entire political life. I have always believed that together we could make it a reality. Even in these dire times, I feel it more strongly than ever.
See that thermometer on just above, on the right? If you donate on the page that leads to, the contributions go to Bernie's federal campaign account-- either his Senate campaign or... Well, as you know, 2020 is just around the corner. You can probably guess who we're supporting (again).

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Trump’s Psychopathology and the Government Shutdown


-by Helen Klein

What is becoming increasingly clear is that despite Dr. Ronny Jackson’s gushing superlatives about Trump’s clean bill of health that extend beyond the physical, Trump’s personality make up and his mental/cognitive functioning are dead center in this shutdown mess. All arrows point to Trump. Now that the Republicans have hit a wall with Trump during the negotiations, even they are being forced to recognize his impairments in judgment and decision making, although of course they won’t do anything about it. They cannot help but realize with increasing disgust that they cannot control him, nobody can control him and he is one sick and crazy dude. Hello!

Is Graham going to make another about turn in his view of Trump? Compare his quote from February 2016, “I think he’s a kook. I think he’s crazy. I think he’s unfit for office,” to his quote in November 2017, “What concerns me about the American press is this endless, endless attempt to label [Trump] some kind of kook not fit to be president.” He may soon need to eat those words.

Dr. Jackson’s findings and conclusions regarding Trump’s recent physical were discussed in a DWT post a few days ago, The Physical, by this author.

Kurtz, who worked at The Post from 1981 to 2010, writes that Trump’s aides even privately coined a term for Trump’s behavior-- “Defiance Disorder.” The phrase refers to Trump’s seeming compulsion to do whatever it is his advisers are most strongly urging against, leaving his team to handle the fallout.

Dana Milbank, in his January 17 editorial in the Washington Post, “Is Trump’s Doctor Okay?” was “alarmed, not about the President’s health but the doctor’s.”
And not just his heart! The doctor rhapsodized about Trump’s vision, his stamina (“more energy than just about anybody”) and above all his mental acuity, which, Jackson made sure to note, he examined only “because the president asked me to.” Trump is “very sharp, and he’s very articulate... Very, very sharp, very intact... Absolutely no cognitive or mental issues whatsoever... The president did exceedingly well.”
From "The Physical:"
In conclusion, while Trump’s basic general health appears satisfactory, Jackson’s presentation of the findings leaves much to be desired and is alarming to many. His use of over the top superlatives was unwarranted and uncalled for. His conclusions about Trump’s mental, cognitive and language skills are well beyond that indicated from a routine physical and appear misleading, unethical, unprofessional and even untrustworthy. Unfortunately, Jackson gives the impression of being a political lackey rather than a professional doctor of medicine. This is worrisome. One wonders if there were any findings he is hiding.
On Twitter, Matt Taibbi from Rolling Stone and Matt Damon humorously questioned even the factual aspects of the findings.

Here are some excerpts from Gail Collins’ January 17 editorial in the New York Times, Donald Trump Gets His Sanity Grades:
Donald Trump has passed his mental test. This may come as either a relief or a shock.

But the big news was the mental test. Trump took something called the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and got a perfect score. Not perhaps the highest bar possible, unless you were concerned about whether he can identify pictures of animals and draw hands on a clock. But the test can be useful if there is, for some reason, concern that the subject is suffering from... um, dementia.

But about the president’s mental report. It didn’t measure judgment, and there was no score to indicate whether the test-taker would, if faced with a question of what to do about immigration policy, change his position 12 times in 24 hours. Whether he would confide to several million Twitter followers that the country “needs a good shutdown”? Whether he thinks of himself as a “very stable genius.”

Maybe Jackson could have given him a passing grade without going so far over the deep end. Something like: “Identified the camel picture, and no problems you could lock him up for.”

So here we are. Our current president is in O.K. physical condition and has “absolutely no cognitive or mental issues whatsoever.” The doctor says so. And really, he’s doing better than Woodrow Wilson, his jaw is intact and everything’s fine, unless you count a terrible attention deficit disorder and rampaging narcissism as mental issues. If so, they don’t come up on that test with the camel.
Up top you can watch Saturday Night Live's lovely skit about Dr. Jackson. Hopefully heron't be a recurring character.

Mental and cognitive issues and jokes aside, the bottom line in this shutdown mess is Trump’s psychiatric issues. These have been described in the media by a variety of professionals and were also reviewed in a previous DWT post. Concern in this realm is really nothing new, but it keeps getting buried in importance. Now it is raising its ugly head and is an unavoidable aspect of the mess we are in.

Trump has a mental disorder, Dr. Jackson. While an assessment along these lines is not part of a routine physical, you had no professional basis for any statement ruling this out.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a key player here, which Howard Dean noted last week on Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word on MSNBC. Even a superficial glance at the designated features listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders- Fifth Edition, the bible for mental health professionals, reflects a slam dunk for Trump – he meets all 9 features, well beyond the required 5 for the diagnosis.

Here is a refresher to remind everyone what we are dealing with:
Symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

The definition of NPD states that it comprises of a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts by early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards (American Psychiatric Association, 2013):
A grandiose logic of self-importance
A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty, or idyllic love
A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
A desire for unwarranted admiration
A sense of entitlement
Interpersonally oppressive behavior
No form of empathy
Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
A display of egotistical and conceited behaviors or attitudes
A summary of the features is helpful:
The most important characteristics of NPD are grandiosity, seeking excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy. These identifying features can result in a negative impact on an individual’s interpersonal affairs and life general. In most cases, on the exterior, these patients act with an air of right and control, dismissing others, and frequently showcasing condescending or denigrating attitudes. Nevertheless, internally, these patients battle with strong feelings of low self esteem issues and inadequacy. Even though the typical NPD patient may achieve great achievements, ultimately their functioning in society can be affected as these characteristics interfere with both personal and professional relationships. A large part of this is as result of the NPD patient being incapable of receiving disapproval or rebuff of any kind, in addition to the fact that the NPD patient typically exhibits lack of empathy and overall disrespect for others.
Malignant Narsissism, while not an official DSM-5 category, zeros in on other factors affecting Trump’s recalcitrant stance and blatant unconcern about the shutdown. Trump has no conscience. He thrives on causing disorder, mayhem and destruction. He gets a kick out of others’ misery. Now he has the power of the Office of the President to create chaos on a YUGE scale. Sad to say, he may be finding this reinforcing. The only downside for him is that he had to miss the one-year celebration party in Florida. Naturally, this was held anyway to rake in lots of bucks.
Malignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissism, antisocial behavior, aggression, and sadism. Often grandiose, and always ready to raise hostility levels, the malignant narcissist undermines families and organizations in which they are involved, and dehumanizes the people with whom they associate.
All Aboard! by Nancy Ohanian

This description is particulary noteworthy regarding Trump. He is certainly raising hostility levels, undermining our institutions and demeaning those around him.

To distinguish between narcissist and malignant narcissist:
A narcissist will deliberately damage other people in pursuit of their own selfish desires, but may regret and will in some circumstances show remorse for doing so, while a malignant narcissist will harm others and enjoy doing so, showing little empathy or regret for the damage they have caused.
Unfortunately, Trump appears to fit the latter description.

Furthermore, Eric Fromm, the social psychologist who coined the term Malignant Narcissism in 1964, described it as a “severe mental illness” representing “the quintessence of evil” and “the most severe pathology and the root of the most vixious destructiveness and inhumanity.” The British psychoanalysist, Herbert Rosenfield, decribed this condition as “a disturbing form of narcissistic personality where grandiosity is built around aggression and the destructive aspects of the self become idealized.”

Trump has never been held accountable for his behavior so why should he be now? Frankly, HE DOES NOT GIVE A SHIT. He has demonstrated over and over that he does not care about our country, our democracy, our institutions, the American people or the planet for that matter. He only cares about himself. He seems to enjoy denigrating others and take pleasure in their suffering. He is clearly a RACIST who has no compassion whatsoever for the Dreamers-- as far as he is concerned, they could be shipped back to whereever (aka their “shithole” countries). And he has Miller and Cotton, two evil anti-immigrant racists, whispering in his ear to keep him on track lest he be influenced in another direction. He has extremist minders keeping him in their clutches. They will likely hover at any future meetings.

A brief look at his behavioral history stemming from childhood is notable. He punched his second grade teacher in the face! His father sent him to military school because of his unruly uncontrollable behavior. He appears to have had Conduct Disorder, another DSM-5 category. Trump has always has been a bully who has bulldozed his way into adulthood using threats and intimidation. He has never kept his promises-- he has cheated a long trail of contractors and workers without the slightest guilt. He has shown no morality or ethics and a complete disregard for the law. And he has always gotten away with it! To him, scoffing at rules has been highly effective and this has become his M.O. He has NEVER been held accountable for his criminal shenanigans. What are a few fines here and there (e.g., $25 million for Trump University)? (One question that arises is - how has he managed to snub the justice system and the IRS for his extensive money laundering, which has apparently been going on for decades? This does not say much for our justice system).

Trump has a low bar for whom he associates with-- he is loyal to no one. All he cares about is how he will personally benefit from relationships. “He sucks up and shits down.” He was in bed with the Italian mafia for many years-- this is covered in a documentary film by the Dutch, for one-- and later with the Russian mafia for more than a decade. As Simpson from Fusion testified to the House Intelligence Committee, the Russian mafia, the Russian security services and the Russian government are all entwined and headed by Putin. Many Russians danced at Trump’s Inaugural balls. The extensive list of the folks surrounding Trump in the White House as well as many of his appointees SCREAM of Russia. Does he care one whit about being a traitor? He has shown over and over that he does not. He carries on about The Wall but not about Russian interference in our democracy, the greatest threat to our security in history. Trump admires Putin and loves Russia!

Trump is likely running around the White House rubbing his hands with glee about the shutdown. Too bad Wolff is no longer there to supply us with some juicy quotes. Trump has stated that what our country needs is “a good shutdown.” He loves confrontations. He loves blowing things up. He never backs down. He loves sticking it to others in the face. Malignant narcissism is written all over this. Putin must be laughing his head off. Trump has brought us down. He is destroying our government one tantrum at a time.

Trump does not even care about his positions on much of anything, which shift back and forth with the wind. This weekend Schumer said that negotiating with Trump is like negotiating with “Jell-O.” Even McConnell said he has no clue what Trump wants. Trump enjoys keeping everyone guessing and on tenderhooks. He is the all powerful, the master of the universe. His ego is on steroids.

His ignorance is YUGE. He does not read, he does not listen, he does not attend, he does not process. His speech is off topic and incoherent, a “word salad.” He makes Sarah Palin look like an orator. Trump may well have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and a Language Disorder (some indications of a language disorder are reduced vocabulary (word knowledge and use), limited sentence structure (e.g., ability to put words and endings together to form sentences based on the rules of grammar) and impairments of discourse (e.g., ability to use vocabulary and connect sentences to explain or describe a topic or series of events).

Thus Trump appears to be a man with many clinical diagnoses. He thrives on chaos and consults only himself in the mirror, as he knows better than everyone. He has no idea of the costs, human or financial, of a shutdown that may continue for weeks. And as long as he does not personally have to pay for it out of his own pocket, he does not care. He continues to enrich himself on our dime. He is thrilled that there is a domestic crisis. He loves being the center of attention, and that he surely is. His delusions of grandeur are our reality.

It seems doubtful that Trump will back down or that the right wingers in the House will either.

In a January 17 piece, Trump’s Enablers Destroy Their Reputations for Nothing, Brian Buetler writes:
In this world, they (McConnell and Ryan) are too ineffectual and paralyzed by fear of Trump’s outbursts to negotiate with Democrats in good faith, even when they know they need Democratic votes to keep the government from shutting down.

After a year of abdicating their constitutional obligations on Trump’s behalf, he returns the favor by making routine governance impossible.

The precise mechanisms are different, but in one respect, they’re suffering the same fate as Graham. Like him, they put a career’s worth of political cache on the line for Trump without condition, and in both cases he flushed it unblinkingly down the shithole.
It seems we will be in shutdown mode for a long haul. I hope I am wrong.

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