Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The one month anniversary of Parkland

“Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist and pioneering aviator, from The Little Prince

TODAY WAS the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. All across the nation students walked out of classrooms to honor the 17 students and staff who were killed and to demand that Congress enact legislation to end the epidemic of children being shot to death in this country.

Yesterday, March 13, a global advocacy group called Avaaz placed 7000 pairs of shoes on the United States Capitol lawn to represent the 7000 children who have been killed by guns since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.

Try to wrap your head around that. Seven-thousand children.

For your information and convenience, I've attached links to four articles and one video from various sources. If you can read the first four without tears, you're tougher than I am. If you can watch the video without wanting to punch something — or in this case someone — you've got better anger-management skills than I have.  

This first attachment is a CBS News piece that bears witness to the trauma children everywhere in the country are experiencing in the wake of repeated school shootings. 

6th grader writes his will "just in case" there's a shooting at school

March 14, 2018

BIRMINGHAM, Ala -- A mother in Birmingham, Alabama, is noticing the impact school shootings in the U.S. have had on her son, CBS affiliate WIAT-TV reports. Sixth grader Javon Davies recently wrote his version of a will -- a letter addressed to his best friend in case he is ever killed at school.

Click here to read the entire CBS News article.

The second article rom CNN is about the shoe protest staged yesterday in Washington DC

Activists place thousands of shoes on Capitol lawn in gun death memorial

By Ashley Killough

March 13, 2018

Washington (CNN) In the shadow of the Capitol dome Tuesday was a sobering display of thousands of pairs of shoes, organized neatly across the grass said to represent children who have died in the US from gunshot wounds since the Newtown elementary school massacre in 2012.

The global advocacy group Avaaz has been collecting donated pairs of shoes for two weeks and early Tuesday morning lined them up one by one, 18 inches apart, in roughly 80 rows on the Capitol lawn, as Congress continues to sort through a debate over gun violence and school safety.

Click here to read the entire CNN article.

This third one, from The New York Times, is an overview of the school walkouts that took place today.

National School Walkout: Thousands Protest Against Gun Violence Across the U.S.

By Vivian Yee and Alan Blinder

March 14, 2018

A month ago, hundreds of teenagers ran for their lives from the hallways and classrooms of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff had been shot to death.

On Wednesday, driven by the conviction that they should never have to run from guns again, they walked.

So did their peers. In New York City, in Chicago, in Atlanta and Santa Monica; at Columbine High School and in Newtown, Conn.; and in many more cities and towns, students left school by the hundreds and the thousands at 10 a.m., sometimes in defiance of school authorities, who seemed divided and even flummoxed about how to handle their emptying classrooms.

Click here to read the entire New York Times article.

I hope you'll pay special attention to this fourth article, from the UK news source, The Independent. It's both heartrending and maddening in that it demonstrates the changes for the better that can be effected when elected representatives care more about protecting children than they do about cashing NRA checks to keep themselves in power.

Florida shooting: Dunblane survivors pen emotional letter to Parkland students

Survivors offer their support on 22nd anniversary of Britain's last school shooting

By Emily Shugerman

March 13, 2018

The survivors of the last school shooting in the UK have penned a letter to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where a lone gunman killed 17 students and staff members in a shooting last month.

The British survivors sent their letter on the 22nd anniversary of the school shooting in Dunblane, Scotland, where 16 first-grade students and one teacher were killed. They expressed sympathy for the students in Parkland, Florida, and urged them to keep up their fight for stricter gun control. 

Click here to read the entire Independent article.

This last attachment is a video from WLTX Channel 19 TV in Columbia, SC, and it makes me want to punch this guy. I guess Governor Henry McMaster a) doesn't think young people should have a voice and b) believes it's more important for children to be obedient than safe. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

He's coming for you too, Europe

"Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor." — Steve Bannon, American media executive, former executive chairman of Breitbart News, chief executive officer of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential bid and former White House Chief Strategist 

I DON'T recognize this country I live in — a place that not only condones racism, we're celebrating it, advertising it and exporting it. 

Below is a excerpt from a CNN piece about a speech given in France March 10 by Steve Bannon, the ghoul who played a major role in orchestrating Trump's rise to power. 

Below that is a more in-depth read from Vanity Fair describing Bannon's blueprint for creating "an interlocking network of populist uprisings across Europe would collectively demolish the political establishment."

He's Voldemort and Darth Vader rolled into one hate-mongering apparition, and he's coming for you too, Europe

Bannon: 'Let them call you racists'

By Eli Watkins and James Gray

March 11, 2018

(CNN) President Donald Trump's estranged adviser Steve Bannon told a far-right gathering in France on Saturday that they should handle accusations of racism with pride.

"Let them call you racists," Bannon said to the French National Front Party. "Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor."

Bannon told the National Front crowd that he had learned from traveling the world that "history is on our side" and that "the globalists have no answers to freedom."

Click here to read the entire CNN article.


Having expended his goodwill in America, the unkempt Svengali of the far right seeks redemption, and new business, abroad.

By Isobel Thompson

March 12, 2018 

Exiled by his patrons in the United States, Steve Bannon has taken his grand populist vision abroad, traipsing across Europe in a furious bid to insert himself into the powder keg of continental politics. Europe, after all, has been ground zero for the sort of anti-establishment movement that Bannon helped to cultivate at home, before his untimely excommunication from the White House and Breitbart News. 

It is also something of a return to form for the rumpled political guru, who launched a Breitbart outpost in London in 2014, and later forged a tender alliance with Nigel Farage, Britain’s resident Brexit Bad Boy and host of the imaginatively titled podcast Farage Against the Machine. Now, as Italy grapples with the rise of an insurgent far right, Bannon seems to have found a newfound relevancy, or at least a new mission, in the fertile agar of the post-crisis Eurozone.

The scope of the project, mysteriously, has not humbled him. Speaking with The New York Times in Milan’s resplendent hotel Principe di Savoia, he laid out his blueprint for what sounds like a darkly inverted version of the E.U., in which an interlocking network of populist uprisings across Europe would collectively demolish the political establishment. 

Click here to read the entire Vanity Fair article.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Pathological liar

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” — Vladimir Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by the alias Lenin, was a Russian communist revolutionary and politician under whose administration Russia and the Soviet Union became a one-party state

HERE'S ANOTHER thing BLOTUS (Biggest Liar of the United States) has in common with his pals from Russia. His faith in the power of lying. 

This Washington Post article was brought to me by my ever on-it friend, Don Myers. Congratulations, America. This is who you elected. 

But please, editors at the Washington Post, have the courage to call it what it is. It's not "false or misleading claims." It's lying. 

And FYI: If life ran by Sylvester's standard, FLOTUS would have been a cinder long before he even had a chance to become the pox upon the nation — and the world.

President Trump has made 2,436 false or misleading claims so far

By Meg Kelly, Glenn Kessler and Salvador Rizzo 
March 2, 2018

In the 406 days since he took the oath of office, President Trump has made 2,436 false or misleading claims, according to The Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement uttered by the president.

That’s an average of six claims a day.

When we first started this project for the president’s first 100 days, he averaged 4.9 claims a day. Slowly, the average number of claims has been creeping up.

Our interactive graphic, created with the help of Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of the Post graphics department, displays a running list of every false or misleading statement made by Trump. We also catalogued the president’s many flip-flops, since those earn Upside-Down Pinocchios if a politician shifts position on an issue without acknowledging he or she did so.

As we were updating the database in recent weeks, we’ve found ourselves doing something unusual — double checking that we had not entered the same speech twice. The president’s sales pitch for his tax plan has been so consistent it made us do a double take. But consistency does not equal accuracy.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Trump uses mass shooting to raise campaign $$

"I cannot stop hearing the sound of the gun as he walked down my hallway. I cannot unsee my classmates who were shot get carried out by police," she wrote. "I cannot unsee the bodies on the floor. Please keep in mind the horror of what we've gone through today.” — Morgan Williams, student-survivor of the Parkland, Florida mass shooting

I CAN'T put into words how angry I am — how deep and unrelenting my revulsion is at Congress for doing NOTHING in the face of one mass shooting after another. I've been writing about the failure of conscience, integrity and honor of those who supposedly represent us for six years, ever since the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, CT.

We must vote every single one of those who have resisted stricter gun laws out of office.

I'd personally like to do more than that, but this is all I can do that's legal. Surely there is a special place in hell for each and every one of these despicable, self-serving cowards whose only goal is apparently maintaing their powerful positions, perks and the salary and we pay them.

And now this: BLOTUS* is using the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in ParklandFL to raise money for his campaign. 

*Biggest liar of the United States

From Salon:

Trump campaign uses photo of Parkland shooting survivor for fundraising efforts

The Trump campaign has resorted to using the Parkland shooting to raise money

By Charlie May

February 26, 2018

President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is under fire after using a photograph of a hospital bed-ridden survivor of the Parkland, Florida shooting, in an email to solicit donations.

"The nation has turned its attention to the senseless school shooting in Parkland, Florida," the campaign email read, according to CNN. "Trump is taking steps toward banning gun bump stocks and strengthening background checks for gun purchasers." The photo was of Trump and his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who stood over the survivor, 17-year-old Madeleine Wilford, as she laid in bed surrounded by her family.

The email continued, "The president has made his intent very clear: making our schools and our children safer will be our top priority."

The controversy comes amidst Trump's calls for tougher guns measures that have been sharply contradicted by the National Rifle Association, though it's still not clear how far Trump is willing to go on the proposed measures, considering his close ties to the NRA. Meanwhile, several surviving students have been targeted by right-wing conspiracy attacks.

The photograph was used to help the Trump campaign's fundraising efforts, only two weeks after the Valentine's Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School left 17 dead. In the aftermath of the incident, surviving students have created a national movement that calls for meaningful gun control measures and a boycott of the NRA, which has long dug its nails into Washington politics.

Click here to read the entire Salon article.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Monica Lewinsky finds her voice

“Those who do not have power over the story that dominates their lives, power to retell it, rethink it, deconstruct it, joke about it, and change it as times change, truly are powerless, because they cannot think new thoughts.” — Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist and essayist whose fourth book The Satanic Verses provoked death threats from Islamic extremists 

IT'S BEEN 20 years since the story of Monica Lewinsky's affair with then-president Bill Clinton broke. Although I blamed him more; he was after all the married one and 27 years her senior, I like much of the country regarded her as a crass, ambitious temptress. 

How misogynistic of me to do so. Me of all people.

Before the rise of the #MeToo movement, I believed myself to be an early-adopter, staunch feminist — emphatically pro-woman. I have come to realize, however, that my assumptions about Monica Lewinsky were punitive, biased and in need of recalibration.

She has written remarkably articulate long-form piece for Vanity Fair. I share that with you now.


On the 20th anniversary of the Starr investigation, which introduced her to the world, the author reflects on the changing nature of trauma, the de-evolution of the media, and the extraordinary hope now provided by the #MeToo movement.

By Monica Lewinsky
February 25, 2018

How do I know him? Where have I seen him? The Man in the Hat looked familiar, I thought, as I peered over at him a second time.

It was Christmas Eve 2017. My family and I were about to be seated at a quaint restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village. We had just come from Gramercy Park—on the one night each year when the exclusive park (accessible only to nearby residents with special keys) opens its gates to outsiders. There had been carols. People had sung with abandon. In short, it was a magical night. I was happy.

Amid the glow of candles and soft lighting, I strained to look again at the Man in the Hat. He was part of a small group that had just exited the main dining room. They were now gathering their belongings, likely vacating what was to be our table. And then it clicked. He looks just like . . . no, couldn’t be. Could it?

A student of Karma, I found myself seizing the moment. Whereas a decade ago I would have turned and fled the restaurant at the prospect of being in the same place as this man, many years of personal-counseling work (both trauma-specific and spiritual) had led me to a place where I now embrace opportunities to move into spaces that allow me to break out of old patterns of retreat or denial.

At the same moment I stepped toward the Man in the Hat and began to ask, “You’re not . . . ?,” he stepped toward me with a warm, incongruous smile and said, “Let me introduce myself. I’m Ken Starr.” An introduction was indeed necessary. This was, in fact, the first time I had met him.

I found myself shaking his hand even as I struggled to decipher the warmth he evinced. After all, in 1998, this was the independent prosecutor who had investigated me, a former White House intern; the man whose staff, accompanied by a group of F.B.I. agents (Starr himself was not there), had hustled me into a hotel room near the Pentagon and informed me that unless I cooperated with them I could face 27 years in prison. This was the man who had turned my 24-year-old life into a living hell in his effort to investigate and prosecute President Bill Clinton on charges that would eventually include obstruction of justice and lying under oath—lying about having maintained a long-term extramarital relationship with me.

Click here to read the entire Vanity Fair article.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Depression and anxiety in modern life

"We're not meant to live like this." — Paul Bridson, trombone player, business owner and extraordinarily fine husband

BY WE, Paul means pretty much all of us. He's always maintained that human beings aren't adapted to live in densely populated conglomerations — that we aren't physiologically or psychologically built to spend so much of every day under the stress that maintaining our lives as we currently live them necessitates. 

According to anthropologists, we evolved to live in small bands. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size. From that he proposed that there is a cognitive limit to the number of people with whom humans can comfortably maintain stable interpersonal relationships. It's known as Dunbar's number, and that number is 150.

Psychologist and psychoanalyst, Michael Bader, writes in Alternet, that living in such megagroups is just one of the factors in the current epidemic of depression and anxiety.

It Will Take a Political Revolution to Cure the Epidemic of Depression
We need to change the nature of work, community and wealth distribution

By Michael Bader
February 23, 2018

What causes depression and anxiety? I have been a practicing psychologist and psychoanalyst for almost 40 years and have seen hundreds of patients suffering from both. In my experience, some factors are obvious. People who suffer from depression and anxiety have experienced stresses and traumas in their development that predispose them to mood disorders. Garden-variety psychodynamic theory teaches us that issues involving loss, neglect, guilt, and rejection usually figure prominently in the backgrounds of people who present with significant symptoms of depression and anxiety.

In addition, over 50 years of research into the neurobiology of mood disorders strongly suggests that genetic and biological factors usually accompany, if not underlie these painful affective states. As a result of these assumptions, the treatment of depression today usually relies heavily on pharmacology, and drug companies have spent billions making sure this explanation is widely accepted. Some one in five US adults is taking at least one drug for a psychiatric problem; nearly one in four middle-aged women in the United States is taking antidepressants at any given time; and around one in 10 boys at American high schools are being given powerful stimulants to make them focus.

Since it's well known that psychological events produce biological changes, it remains debatable whether or not disorders of our biochemistry are causes or effects. What we do know is that untold amounts of money have been spent by the pharmaceutical industry to finance research and public relations designed to enshrine biochemistry and pharmacology as primary in the diagnosis and treatment of depression and anxiety.

However, what of the social, cultural and even political contexts that contribute to emotional suffering? We owe writer and journalist Johann Hari a great debt for illuminating these broader contextual factors in his new book, Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions. Hari first debunks the "received wisdom" that assumes the jury is in regarding the neurochemical basis of depression and the efficacy of antidepressants. 

He points to research based on the unpublished studies done by pharmaceutical companies on the efficacy of antidepressants, that almost unintentionally reveal a profound placebo effect underlying the clinical improvements reported. When depressed people who are being studied feel cared for by psychiatric researchers, they improve at astoundingly high rates (sometimes by as much as 40%). Thus, the pure biochemical antidepressant effect of these medications is much smaller than has commonly been assumed. In addition, when patients do get better, a commonly seen phenomenon, within a year at least half of them are again clinically depressed.

We have to acknowledge that some real people get better in real ways on antidepressants. However, it is also true that these benefits are less than advertised and results often diminish over time. Locating the cause of depression entirely in the brain and advocating a primarily pharmacological approach to its treatment is a paradigm with limited efficacy.

Click here to read the entire Alternet article.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

He probably also believes the earth is flat

“To me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket. And given the fact that I’ve got no opposition in the primary, I win that one by default.” — Arthur Jones, Republican candidate for Congress 

TRUMP KICKED the rock over and look what's crawling out. Holocaust deniers, evolution deniers, climate change deniers, science deniers. Hell's bells, there are probably flat earthers in this modern Frankenstein monster known as the Republican party.

In Illinois there is a unrepentant, unapologetic, unashamed Holocaust denier and white supremacist who thus far, since he has no challenger in the primary, is guaranteed the Republican nomination for the state's Third Congressional District. This is how low the Republican party has sunk. 

Below is an NBC News article about this anachronism on the ballot, Arthur Jones.

Arthur Jones speaks in support of Donald Trump in Harrisburg, Penn., on Nov. 5, 2016

Holocaust denier running unopposed in Illinois GOP congressional primary

By Dartunorro Clark
February 5, 2018

A Holocaust denier who said he is the former head of the American Nazi Party is running unopposed in the Republican primary for a U.S. congressional seat in Illinois, all but ensuring his presence on the ballot in November.

Arthur Jones, 70, has tried to run for the seat in the state's 3rd Congressional District, which consists of part of Chicago as well as some of its suburbs, several times since the 1990s. This time, lacking a challenger for the March 20 primary, he will easily claim the GOP nomination. The expectation has renewed focus on Jones's background, which includes ties to neo-Nazis and strong anti-Semitic and white supremacist views. 

Click here to read the entire NBC News article.