Trump: The Avenging Asshole

Trump: The Avenging Asshole

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Idiocracy

It’s tempting to say that Donald Trump’s grotesque political ascent in the GOP presidential primaries represents the hostile take over of reality by Reality TV.

But Roger Ailes had already accomplished that with his own Reality TV news network which ex-Reagan advisor, Bruce Bartlett, concludes has been so successful at blurring the line between fact and fiction it’s led millions of its ardent viewers down the road of ideological self-brainwashing:

What this is then is the story of Trump: the Asshole Avenger.

The Right’s propaganda machine has spent 30 plus years indoctrinating Americans that Rich = Right. That thinking is for elitist fauntleroys and REAL AMERICANS go with “the gut” uber alles.

Of course, introspection, empathy and higher moral reasoning were given the bum’s rush along with civility, the social contract and basic human decency.

And so enter the Avenging Asshole; the Trumpenstein Monster; Trumpzilla; the Conqueror Id. How great is it that his name is Trump?

He got the memo alright that all of this is supposed to be about a right-wing agenda to decimate Democrats and amass political power for Republicans.

He just doesn’t give a fuck.

The only agenda that matters to Trump is the one that gazes back adoringly when he shaves every morning.

Trump is the crack version of “the Fox formula.” He’s distilled it down to its most volatile concentration of arrogance, petulance and unabashed asshole-ism, and the Fox heads cannot get enough.

They don’t give a damn — in fact they celebrate — that Trump sticks it to Fox and other Republicans.

They’ve been trained well by Ailes and Limbaugh. They know that the biggest asshole in the room is always right.

From McCain to Santorum: The Brainwashing of the Electorate

From McCain to Santorum: The Brainwashing of the Electorate

Remember back in 2008 when John McCain found himself face-to-face with a victim of Right-wing media brainwashing at a televised Presidential campaign event in Minnesota?

“I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab.”

McCain seemed stricken by the human tragedy of what the fear and smear messaging blitz targeting his opponent had done to a gullible mind. It was commendable that he debunked the woman’s befuddled xenophobia and tried to gently guide her back to the general vicinity of reality:

“No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign’s all about. He’s not [an Arab].”

McCain seemed to have a hard time forgetting not to tell the truth on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, too. Here he is accidentally agreeing with John Murtha that racism was a factor in the 2008 election:

How did Rick Santorum respond when he recently found himself in a situation similar to McCain’s? Did he demonstrate the same basic decency?

Check out the video of Santorum and his interlocutor at an event, hosted by Washington Times and Townhall columnist Frank Gaffney and come to a fair and balanced conclusion for yourself. Be warned, this video contains truly mind-ripping levels of shrill, paranoid crazitude:

Did you hear what I heard? I heard a deeply disturbed individual going completely unglued and unleashing a tirade of lunacy that included birtherism and the bizarre assertion that President Obama attempted to drop a nuclear weapon on Charleston, SC.

“Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago and the three Admirals and Generals. He has totally destroyed our military. He has fired all the Generals and all the Admirals who said they wouldn’t fire on the American people if they ask ’em to do so if he wanted to take the guns away from ’em. This man is a Communist dictator. We need him out of the White House now.”

After listening, somewhat antsily, to the whole thing, Santorum responds that she should not blame him for not addressing her crazy train of issues because he’s not in Congress now. The assumption being, if only he were still in Congress, he’d be all over her batshit laundry list like tinfoil on Alex Jones’ pointy little head.

Rather than making any attempt whatsoever to defuse the time bomb of sick, twisted madness ticking away inside her addled cranium, Santorum instead lends credibility to her ravings.

“I’m not a sitting member of the Senate, so I’m not taking blame for any of that stuff,” … “But you hit on one point to which I absolutely agree: this is a complete lack of leadership.”

In the course of her word avalanche, the woman also talks about bringing the same concerns to Senator Ted Cruz who, unsurprisingly, did not disabuse her of any of it either, but counseled her to focus on the next election when a President Cruz could presumably tackle the issue of Obummer’s real birth certificate along with his gun-grabbing, Confederate state-nuking, tyrannical immigrant-aiding crusade.

What has the right-wing propaganda machine wrought? Any shame (or at least, politically induced worry) about how large segments of the Republican Party base has dangerously succumbed to media brainwashing techniques has gone out the window.

The sad and scary fact is, the line between the brainwashees and the brainwashers is getting blurrier all the time.

Cruz’n with Ted and Ayn into the Arms of Big Government

Cruz’n with Ted and Ayn into the Arms of Big Government

Ted Cruz revealed, last week, that he, himself, would be signing up for health coverage under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka, Obamacare. Yes, the same Ted Cruz who compared Obamacare to Nazism and said: “I intend to speak about defunding Obamacare until I am no longer able to stand.”

“But…but…but,” many of us sputtered as our rational brains short-circuited on their way to complete implosion, “ his whole reason for political existence is demagoguing on repealing Obamacare because he says it’s the most evilest thing ever! How can this much hypocrisy fit into the universe??? AAARRRGGGGGG!!!!”

But by now our minds shouldn’t be blown at all. For the millions who have disappeared down the right-wing media rabbit hole, it’s just another day in bizarro world.

One of the built-in features of the “Fox/Talk Radio Effect,” that Tea Partiers like Cruz benefit from and help perpetuate is cognitive dissonance (on steroids), which means that contradictory notions can be held in the brain without any need being felt to reconcile them using one’s critical faculties. It also means never having to say, “God, what an incredibly repugnant hypocrite I am!”

Recall the woman with Graves’ disease featured in the NYTimes article from last September who was thrilled that her daughter and herself were able to get covered through the Affordable Care Act. She gushed: I’m tickled to death with it…It’s helped me out a bunch.” And then she comes around with the cognitive sucker punch, when in her next breath she says of President Obama, “Nobody don’t care for nobody no more, and I think he’s got a lot to do with that…”

Um, excuse me, what? So the guy who put his political butt on the line to get you the disease treatment you desperately need and also healthcare for your daughter (along with 16 million other Americans) is responsible for a culture of uncaring, but the Republicans who tooth-and-nail opposed the lifesaving law and who still want to repeal it, even as good news keeps rolling in, are epitomes of empathy?

A benefit of buying into the right-wing media cult is you are given license to embrace extreme ideological positions that provide instant psychological gratification and catharsis. And — as a bonus — you are never expected to actually adhere to inconvenient principles implied by those positions that would bring unpleasant consequences to you personally.

So you can take full advantage of the thing your favorite pundit denounces as pure evil as long as you maintain Cognitive Dissonance enough to keep your real-world experience from popping the bubble of extremist ideological delusion. And be sure to keep on repeating those echo chamber approved talking points! — even when they contradict your direct experience.

There’s always a rhetorical maneuver or rationalization on hand to release bubble-dwellers from personal accountability. Fox-style propaganda exists to malign and demonize external situations, people, and institutions with fingers ever pointing outward. Self-reflection and adherence to intellectual consistency are not on the to-do list.

That’s how Fox-addled seniors can keep straight faces while hoisting signs at Tea Party rallies that demand, “Keep Your Government Hands Off My Medicare.”

The summation: “FREEDOM” means I claim the right to do whatever I damn well please, no matter how riddled with contradictions, while blaming and flaming others as treasonous and vile. Self-absorbed righteousness becomes its own twisted reward.

Their “religious” and “patriotic” “principles” boil down to: It’s fine for me but to hell with thee.

And Ayn Rand, the high-priestess of the right-wing cult of anti-government zealotry, took Social Security. And Medicare. Amen.

A Wealth of Misinformation: Commonwealth Spins Tangled Web in Beaver, PA

A Wealth of Misinformation: Commonwealth Spins Tangled Web in Beaver, PA

Last night, the right-wing state level policy pressure group Commonwealth Foundation held a forum on “Obamacare” in Rochester, PA hosted by the Beaver County Republican Committee. CF is part of State Policy Network (SPN), a web of so-called “think tanks” with ties to ALEC and the Koch Brothers that pushes a virulent anti-union, pro-corporate agenda in every state.

The press release described the event as “informational” and said that CF would “share facts” on the ACA. CF, however, is a core contributor to the smear campaign against health care reform and reliably churns out reams of distortion, falsehood and misinformation on the law, its purpose and effects.

We went to give a reality-based counterpoint to the spin and veiled propaganda that is the trademark of CF by providing unbiased sources of fact-based information on the ACA to attendees. Why? Because people shouldn’t be led astray on issues as critical as access to health care for themselves and their families.

A woman with the Republican Committee insisted that we not take video at this public event because of an agreement with the “participants,” I assume the Commonwealth Foundation. The CF speaker intro-ed by highlighting public confusion and negativity on “Obamacare.” Confusion and cynicism which they work to generate with their aforementioned, well-funded smear and fear apparatus.

A neat trick: shoot out the lights and bemoan the darkness. 

What Obamacare “alternatives” did CF offer? Medibid, described as E-bay, only for health care, hastily set-up websites sounding a bit like “Prescription,” medical tourism, health care sharing ministries (as the CF described, a system where everyone pays in a set amount each month and then, if their child breaks their arm, it’ll be paid for — sounds exactly like, you know, OBAMACARE!).

What sources of information on health care did CF recommend? John Goodman’s blog. No, not that John Goodman. We were disappointed too. This John Goodman is a Tea Party supporter who promotes “free-market” health care “solutions” like health savings accounts. The Apothecary Blog on, which is clearinghouse of misleading and selective information aimed squarely at attacking the Affordable Care Act and its many provisions, and the Galen Institute which does likewise with ties to the health insurance industry. 

So, there we were, getting a first hand look at what its like to be absorbed in the right-wing media misinformation loop. 

So what do you? Jump on your chair shouting: “hey, this is BS! You’re being lied to!” Run out of the room screaming? Play along like everything’s okie-dokie?

What message might reach that audience — partisans, active in the local GOP, eagerly eating up red meat misinformation from the Commonwealth Foundation? We tried this:

Look, you can feel however you want about politics and the President, but when you’re talking about making important health care decisions, you need to have credible, unbiased sources of information [like the Kaiser Family Foundation, or Consumer Reports,]. You won’t get those from the Commonwealth Foundation because they HATE Obamacare (which the CF speaker quickly confirmed).

To our pleased surprise no one in the audience jeered or called us commies, in fact some were writing down the sources we offered.

As the program let out (more than 30 minutes before it’s scheduled end time — with an opposing, real world presence in the room, event organizers seemed eager to clear out), a couple of friendly-looking older ladies stopped us to talk.

They wanted to hear more about where they could turn to find information on the health care law, because, as it turned out, one of them needs to sign up.

We talked about how to comparison shop on, how the premium credits work and the important enrollment deadlines to keep in mind.

The conversation took a twist when we were tamping down scary misinformation they had gotten from a viral e-mail about “Obamacare” allegedly causing folks to lose their homes.

One of the ladies talked about how she couldn’t get good information anymore because “conservatives” were being removed from the radio for being “too conservative.”

I said that last I checked, the airwaves were blanketed with voices from the right and that there certainly weren’t many coming from other perspectives.

When I suggested that such sources should not be trusted as news because they were really entertainment, she was visibly taken aback.

“Is it?… Is it entertainment?”

She was willing to say that Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck had gone too far to sensationalism but was deeply affected by not being able to hear her favorite right-wing talker, Rusty Humphries.

“I hope he’s alive,” she worried. “He had Senators and Congressman on his show to talk,” implying that alone made his and their message bi-partisan and the information they conveyed accurate and useful.

The problem, of course, is that Tea Party politicians are reading from the same delusional talking points as right-wing pundits and corporate-funded front groups.

But for a lot of people, hearing words from official-looking and authorative-sounding voices constitutes “news” and therefore, credible information they act on in the real world (ex: not signing up for health care when you need it because all you’ve heard are scary lies). 

What was even more revealing, though, was the deep, emotional connection this woman had to the right-wing talkers she’d so religiously turned to — not just for information, but for company, companionship. They weren’t just voices coming from the radio, they were part of her inner circle — and she part of their’s. That meant something to her, not on a political level, but on an emotional one.

These media figures have the power to generate an emotional allegiance in listeners that pulls them away from family and friends and neighbors who aren’t part of that world, especially in our increasingly fractured and isolated culture.

Here was a nice lady looking for real answers and a real connection; feeling adrift not knowing where to turn or how to replace what she felt she was losing with her favorite right-wing talker leaving the air.

We left with a greater realization that the work that needs to be done lies not just in debunking virulent misinformation but in rebuilding the community, civic and interpersonal connections the breakdown of which have left a void filled by the false community of toxic and manipulative media influences.

Solidarity is for Suckers: The right-wing media war on the common good

Solidarity is for Suckers: The right-wing media war on the common good

“The American Labor Movement has consistently demonstrated its devotion to the public interest. It is, and has been, good for all America.” — John F. Kennedy

 “Whatever their faults, unions have been the only powerful and effective voice working people have ever had in the history of this country.” — Bruce Springsteen

The union loss in UAWVW vote in Chattanooga last week is a wake up call to the power of the right-wing media echo chamber to warp public discourse towards their narrow agenda.

You could fill many volumes with specific instances of smears, distortions and false narratives woven by right-wing media spin-meisters over the past decades many of which, echoed by the broader media, have tainted the public attitude and understanding toward unions and the labor movement.

But even when it is not specifically attacking unions and union workers, the right-wing media monolith’s constant war of divisive wedge issues and derision of the common good works to create a toxic cultural atmosphere that undermines the union message and movement.

The building of union strength is only possible when there is an understanding of solidarity. 


Solidarity is defined as: fellowship arising from common responsibilities and interests, unity or agreement of feeling or action, esp. among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group.

It is through this balance of motivated individual interest and connection to community and cooperation that the labor movement creates a needed counterbalance to the forces of organized avarice.

The message coming from the noxious noise of the right-wing media is that solidarity is for suckers.

What do they offer in its stead? Impossible dreams of personal material acquisition and comic book delusions of phony “individual freedom,” amounting to gun hoarding and bunker building.

“You’re on your own, Jack, and you are worthless before God and man if you can’t compete in an ever more ruthless “free-market” system. Its zero sum out there, my friend. You can’t trust anyone, ‘cause they’re only in it for themselves just like you. Keep your head down and keep tuning in every day. I’m the only one who understands your anger and frustration…because I help concoct your anger and frustration out of your fears and by keeping you blind to other possibilities.”

Why are they so committed to destroying unions? 

It should be clear by now that a major elements of the right-wing movement are ideological zealots who have true contempt for working people and adhere to an almost worship of Ayn Randian notions of wealth and corporate power. Just look at recent extremist efforts to use a government shut down as extortion to stop health care reform and their absolute resistance to extending unemployment insurance to desperate families.

And its also that unions work. They work to put a check on corporate overreach and they are effective in elections, especially in putting “boots-on-the-ground” to counter the influx of secret money into the “airwar” of negative ads.

Finally, and most crucially, unions are living breathing, real world proof that human life isn’t a zero sum, social Darwinian nightmare. That everyone does better when everyone does better and people can take it into their power to build a better more decent society by, to borrow from FDR, taking up cooperation where competition fails.