September 29, 2023

Milley, Miley, and Taylor too: Where pop culture and politics intersect: - Convincing people that MAGA is deadly for democracy


By Hal Brown

Update: I wrote this before this was posted as the lead story on Salon:

Click to read

The article concludes:

I get that Swift is the center of the news cycle and Republicans hate when women have autonomy, but she is one person who is untouchable. As long as she can register thousands of voters by sharing a simple link to social media, she's also a threat. In this moment, Swift has amassed enough cultural power that angry men's opinions about her just don't matter, which just so happens to be something that she has worked toward her entire career. Between her frenzied fans, billion dollars and perfectly calculated every move, the right doesn't stand a chance and is backing themselves into an unpopular corner. Just ask Scooter Braun and Kanye West if they'd recommend going up against her. 

The idea that high profile people from two very different worlds are publically very much equating Donald Trump with dictatorship and anti-democracy may be what ultimately saves the country.

While Taylor has bumped Miley out of the media spotlight with her political activty and her dating Travis Kelce, it is worthwhile to recall how Miley made the news a few years ago with her 2019 comments about Trump:

Click to read

Now that Taylor Swift has gone into poltics, albeit in a more restrained way than her fellow chart-busting artist and close friend Miley Cyrus the two can be said to be political allies in the war against Trump and MAGA.

Click to read

I doubt my 10 year old unofficial granddaughter who knows the lyrics to many Taylor Swift songs and knows very well who Miley Cyrus is ever heard of Gen. Milley. That isn't the point. The point is that Trump is up against the predominate military culture which is removed from politics, and pop culture where with the exception of parts of country music stars are usually liberal.

While DeSantis invented the war against woke Trump has glommed onto it and neither of them understand that pop culture is decidely woke and it is incredibly powerful.

The realm of politics and pop culture can't be separated. Consider the fact that Rolling Stone which has always covered some politics from a very liberal position is now often breaking or writing about poltical news.

When Taylor Swift asked her fans to register to vote something like 35,000 did so within an hour. 

Whether or not the typical Trump cultist knows much about Gen. Milley they know what he looks like even though they don't read Politico or Military Times.

Read article

Read another article which used a photo from the same meeting

This is how Fox News covered the story online today with the photo from the article.

By now anyone in the cult camp who follows the news knows what Gen. Milley looks like. Appearance make a difference in how people are able to influence people.

The general may not be able to carry a tune (who knows?) but you can just look at him to take what he says seriously.

He doesn't scream like Trump does, but when he's deadly serious you can see it in his face.

Trump rules over a cult of personality who find him charismatic. The last American president to have anything one could call charisma is Barack Obama and you have to go back to JFK to find another president who could be described this way.

Alas, it's an oxymoron to juxtapose Joe Biden and charisma in the same sentence. Biden has only recent shown that he has the ability to express outrage:

When it comes to generals supporting him, this is the best Trump can do:

Michael Flynn

As for musicians supporting Trump, you can't call Ted Nugent and Kid Rock pop stars.

People respond to messaging images whether they are used in advertising or politics. Without recognizing it their opinions and behaviors are shaped by images. Ads and commercials for Marlboro or Virgina Slims show how advertising gurus used this to sell the same deadly products to different groups.

Trump and the MAGA GOP  is no less deadly for democracy than cigarettes are for health. Hopefully people like General Milley, Miley Cyrus, and Taylor Swift can help break the hold Trump and other autocratic GOP candidates have on people who are unable to see this threat.


Unfortunately those watching Fox News this morning won't see President Biden paying trubute to Gen. Milley on his retirement. Instead they will see a replay about the debate.

They won't see Biden expressing outrage with unusual vigor about how Tommy Tuberville (without calling him out by name) is holding up other military promotions and how the House is about shut down the government and how this will impact the military.

September 28, 2023

Bring back the baby balloon


By Hal Brown

It should be a no-brainer to say that anyone in public office who has allowed themsleves to be portrayed as Donald Trump has as a mythic muscular macho man is deeply insecure. The real Trump of today physically is the one that we see in his full heft in all those golfing photos. 

When Trump has to heave his protruding posteria out of his bed I can see him huffing a puffing at the effort. 

His self-delusion about his buff body was so entrenched that he thoughtlessly allowed photographers to take his picture when he played golf and those wonderful photos were taken. 

Some were altered to make him look like he had a fatter rear, one had a brown stain added to it (Reuters article), but the true photos aren't something a preening narcissist like Trump would appreciate.

I wonder if Trump saw some of the barechested Putin pics and had a moment of jealousy. I am sure Vlad cracked up when he saw all the Trump altered images he sold as digital trading cards.

For that matter it may register, if barely, in Trump's mind that Joe Biden's body hasn't changed signficantly since he was a young man.

If I was a Putin pal I would have given him a Trump baby balloon as a present telling him that even though he already owned him he could literally own him.

We haven't seen the Trump baby balloon much recently. It is iconic. It is unique. It has it's own Wiki page:

The original was aquired by the Museum of London

Click for article, lots of photos

More images:

Click to enlarge 

The balloons are readily availabe on Amazon. You can have them in a day or two. Note that the mini-balloons (top right below) are almost sold out.

Aside from Chris Christi's crack about Trump being called Donald Duck the man is a rare duck psychologically. He is notoriously thin skinned but has honed his ability to engage in psycholgical denial to a degree that is pathological and thus in other ways is thick skinned.

Things that would make a normal person break down in tears or break out in hives don't register with him.

I doubt Trump sees the numerous unflattering cartoons of him golfing.

Click to enlarge

I think the one depiction of him that might break through his defenses enough to bother him is the baby balloon. The more people who bring it to events likely to be covered by the media the better. Rather than lining a route of his motorcade to one of his court appearances with protest signs I think anti-Trumpers should hold the baby balloon.

This may seem to be a useless endeavor. However aside from the personal satisfaction you may get should you have a chance to do it, you may actually be adding yet one more straw, albeit a small one, the the accumlated load that eventually causes Trump's back to break.

Trump is responding to the stress of his legal jeopardy as evidenced by his more and more unhinged speeches and Truth Social posts. While he fancies himself to be super-human he is, newsflash, human.

Stress can be acute or chronic, and with the latter it can gradually build up to the point that someone suffers a breakdown.

If he cracks it may be in a manner that is so obvious that only his equally deranged supporters will be able to deny it.

If everytime he goes out where he can see the public he also sees a lot of baby balloons this may at the least have a subliminal effect on him. If it is on the way to or from a court appearance all the better.

What if it is your baby balloon that leads Trump to have a his undeniable MAGA madman moment? 

September 27, 2023

If Menendez was savng cash and gold bars for the apocalypse he'd have done better with canned goods and .22 cal. bullets


By Hal Brown
Sorta Satire

For reasons yet unknown Senator Menendez and his wife felt they needed to keep about $500,000 in cash and a number of gold bars at home.

Occam's razor would suggest that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one, i.e., he was taking bribes from Egypt and wanted to hide this from the authorities.

While those ready to jump to morally disreputable, and illegal, reasons the couple wanted to keep so much cash and gold on hand there may be a benign explanation.

It occurred to me that another reason they did this might that they  wanted to be prepared in case of an apocalypse, zombie or another kind  event causing a breakdown of civilized society. 

Living in Western Oregon where experts predict a major earthquake, known as The Big One, at some unknown time in the future, I keep more canned goods than I normally would (shown above).

In real life, if there was a total breakdown of society cash would be worthless and even gold bars wouldn't be useful to barter with for essentials.

I'd always considered the cheap .22 caliber bullets to be the easiest and most valuable to hoard for the end of the world as we know it since small caliber weapons would be best for small game hunting and good to barter with.

I figure those people who want to protect themselves against other people already have plenty of larger caliber ammunition. You could stockpile the .223 cal. high velocity bullets used in AR-15's but these cost more than 10 times the cost of .22 cal. bullets.

Of course, if you wanted to trade with people afraid of zombies larger caliber ammunition would be necessary, probably shotgun shells. 

Throwing a gold bar at anyone, human or zombie, wouldn't be the weapon of choice. If you had good aim you might be able to nail a rabbit with one.

As with just about any subject I end up writing about there are websites about what items would be best to stock up on to use in the place of cash. For example this article which is meant to be funny, but maybe not:

Everyone needs money. And we use everything from cash to crypto to NFTs as modern currency. 

But what if society goes to hell and you wind up in an apocalypse? You're going to need a new kind of money, and here are just a few of the things you can use.

Bullets are number four on this list and gold at 25 is the last.

Here's another article: 

12 Things That Will Skyrocket In Value Once The Apocalypse Hits

If Senator and Mrs. Menendez are reading this, I'll happily save them a trip to the supermarket and send them my stock of canned goods for a mere $1000. Of course, being a law abiding citizen I would report this as income on my taxes.

September 26, 2023

MAGA World loves that Trump's a malginant narcissist, will they care that he's become cognitively impaired?


By Hal Brown, MSW, Retired psychotherapist

Few residents of MAGA World read HUFFPOST. I can tell this from from the few trolls who comment of their articles. I doubt many will read this article: 

Befuddled Trump Can't Figure Out Which Bush Did What In Bizarre Rant

I won't even excerpt the article since this wouldn't do it justise. Vox associate editor sums it up in his post on X: 

if Joe Biden confused Jeb and George W. Bush, Hannity would anchor special coverage that would last until the 2024 election
Here's another article:

If you do a search on Google with the words Trump malignant narcissism (here) you find numerious articles. Scroll down to the 32rd and you'll find one of mine.

Here's what I posted on Daily Kos.

Click above to read

For this blog I've changed the illustration.

The HUFFPOST article decribes the most recent example of cognitive confusion that any objective clinician would see as alarming indications that their patient might be suffering from early dementia. The only other explanation that I can see is that Trump's confusion about which Bush was which is due to his being under extreme stress. Of couse one explanation doesn't preclude the other.

I am not a medical clinician but I have been trained to know when a patient has symptoms that require a referral to a neurologist for an assessment. If Trump was my patient this is what I would have done when I was in practice. A neurologist would do more than administer the MOCA.

I am not even sure that if Trump took the MOCA test (above) now he would be given a clean bill of health as far as signs of early dementia.

The question as to whether his hard-core MAGA cult would care about this is something to consider. The typical member of the Trump cult is White and poorly educated. Part of the - love is not too strong a word - for him comes from his being a grandiose narcissist who rants about vegeance against his enemies. They vicarously enjoy how he relishes expressing how he'd destroy his enemies if he become president again. They not only care about him wanting to also destroy democracy but practically drool over the idea he'd become a dictator who whould empower them and push policies that express their bigotted beliefs.

Trump has built a cult of personality. It is difficult to imagine MAGA World with anyone else as its ruler. Unlike Trump's good pal Kim Jung Un he wasn't groomed to be successor to a dynasty.
There's no way Donald Jr. and certainly not Eric, could out-Trump or eve come close to equal-Trumping the original.

The salient question for Trump's reelection is whether his cult wants someone who is the embodiment of the mad king from The Game of Thrones as their leader but who is also becoming senile.
Click to read article

I can't see any of the other GOP presidential candiates coming close to having the kind of charisma Trump exudes for his cult. Trump's madness is his brand.

If you add senility, or fast developing dementia, to his madness it will be fascinating to see if he can keep a grip on the hold he exerts over his cult.


The only GOP candidate who actually has their own kind of charisma is Chris Christi. I think this is why Trump fears him the most. While he can never be a cult leader, and I doubt he aspires to be one, there's no doubt that the man is a commanding pressense.

Christi can equal or better the bloviating of Trump, and he does so with a razor sharp wit using fresh rather than stale retorts and talking points the way Trump does.

If it comes down to Republicans wanting a Trump-lite candidate who promises a renewal of Trump's policies only from someone who has full command of their mental faculties they will go with DeSantis or Ramaswamy. They could want someone more in the middle like Nikki Haley. They won't want Christi who is more of a Republican like John McCain was or Mitt Romney is today. Christi doesn't represent today's  MAGA Republican Party.

If I was a small government Republican rather than a big and effective government liberal Democrat I'd favor Chris Christi. He doesn't believe in America First nationalism and he doesn't want to dismantle democracy and replace it with autocracy. He is also very, very smart.

Since the GOP has done an effective job of demonizing President Biden I actually think Christi would stand a good chance of becoming the next president if he pulled a rabbit out of the hat and won the GOP nomination.

It is possible if Trump's cognitive decline contiunes to the point that it is impossible to deny unless one is a totally brainwashed member of his cult. This will leave the GOP candidates to battle it out among thmselves and Christi will then have an opportunity, to use the Mafia term popularized in The Godfather, to make his bones, and take out the other candidates.


September 25, 2023

I have an idea for Morning Joe: The red TRUMPLINE phone for him to call in live


By Hal Brown

I just read the following:

'They are a true threat': Trump threatens to go after NBC News if re-elected

Excerpt (my bold):

They are almost all dishonest and corrupt, but Comcast, with its one-side and vicious coverage by NBC NEWS, and in particular MSNBC, often and correctly referred to as MSDNC (Democrat National Committee!), should be investigated for its 'Country Threatening Treason,'" Trump wrote on Sunday. (Another excerpt here)
In October Trump said that it is ‘disgusting’ that press was able to write whatever it wants. He also threatened to pull NBC’s broadcasting license over a story he said was false. Reference 

This gave me the idea for this blog. While there was no real red phone connecting the leader of the United States with the leader of Russia the myth persists that there was. There was and is, however, a Moscow - Washington hotline.

Could Trump resist calling in to the show when they are talking about him? He'd know this would boost their ratings but since he'd take credit for this he might not care, especially when this is balanced against the chance to rant at its 1.2 million weekly viewers. While Fox and Friends has about 1.38 million viewers (and sometimes Morning Joe has beat them) he knows he'd preaching to the choir if he called them as he did in 2020. (See
"Trump says weekly calls on ‘Fox & Friends’ are returning; Fox says maybe not")

Malignant narcissism is a psychological syndrome comprising an extreme mix of narcissismantisocial behavioraggression, and sadismGrandiose, 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. Wikipedia
Besides this Trump is currently on the outs with Fox News. I think he has a begrudging respect for Joe and may have the hots for Mika.

The TRUMPLINE phone wouldn't be on the desk all the time, in fact it could be put there as a dramatic gesture and as a challenge for him to call in at particular times. Even if Trump never called this would represent him in abstentia. His not calling would be symbolic of his talking a tough game but being a big orange chicken.

Now, before you suggest that this would just give Trump another chance to bloviate with his self-aggrandizing lies and insults and pull what we could call another Wack-a-Welker (named forwhat he did to Kristin Welker on her 60 MInutes deput interview) I'd see major differences.

For one thing, any call-in wouldn't be an interview. Joe and Mika would be in total control. They could also have a one minute limit for him to speak with a count-down clock on the screen. They could also have a buzzer to cut him off when they had to challenge any lie. The could mute him at any time they thought was approrpriate.

I'd also like to see him called by his proper title, Mr. Trump, instead of Mr. President, as Kristin Welker did in her interview with him. I think being called "MISTER Trump" with an emphasis on ""Mister" would get to him.

Milley, Miley, and Taylor too: Where pop culture and politics intersect: - Convincing people that MAGA is deadly for democracy

  By Hal Brown Update: I wrote this before this was posted as the lead story on Salon: Click to read The article concludes: I get that Swift...