Showing posts with label Hal Brown blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hal Brown blog. Show all posts

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 24, 2023

WaPo column: Black history now being taught in Florida churches, comment moderator rejects a racist post,


 Above: This is all part of the history of America

Click to read, subscription required

After Florida restricts Black history, churches step up to teach it by Brittany Shammas, Washington Post

By Hal Brown

When I looked at the Washington Post website the above article was down the right column of the page where it could be easily missed:

I think it is a sad sign of the times that not only Black churches but other churches and houses of worship are stepping in where in some GOP controlled states public education has become polticized to prohibit the teaching of accurate history because leaders consider it woke indoctrination. 

The following comment to the article above was deleted by a moderator of the comments section. Note the commenter's use of the work indoctrinate. This as well as the tone of the comment prompted me to try to reply to them:

Smith said, "We cannot be apathetic, we cannot sit back, we cannot be nonvocal. We have to speak up for those. I cannot speak up for themselves. "

I know I’m swimming against the stream here but a statement like that would be more appropriate if it had been directed at the present day rather than 1964. The number of Black on Black murders, carjackings, assaults etc. occurring every day is nothing short of evil personified and yes, the six years old or the 70 year old woman killed by stray bullets fired by rival gangs at a busy intersection need someone to speak for them.

 As for teaching "Black history" in Black churches, fine. But White parents don’t want their children to be indoctrinated at public schools into believing that they are inherently racist or something they had nothing to do with any more than Black parents would want their children to be held in a negative light, because of rampant, crimes disproportionately committed by Blacks. That would be sadistic . 

The Smith he refers to is Rev. Gaston Smith who is quoted in the article and pictured in the top of the page photo. The entire quote is:

“Whenever there has been any kind of movement, particularly in the African American community, it started in the house of God.  We cannot be apathetic, we cannot sit back, we cannot be nonvocal. We have to stand our ground, because the Bible says we have to speak up for those that cannot speak up for themselves.”

 I don't know where the DSmith994 reference to 1964 comes from.

I tried to put the following as a reply to the comment (shown above) which was rejected by a moderator, I think for good cause, so it wasn't posted. Therefore my reply couldn't be seen. Instead I posted it as my own comment (expanded on for this blog) below:

The commenter misused the term "indoctrinated" in expressing their opinion about teaching Black history. In my opinion the comment was an expression of barely masked racist attutides which have no place in this venue. 

The use of the term "indoctrinated" was telling. The meaning of the word is simple: to teach a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically, the key word being uncritically. There is no indoctrination being attempted by those in churches and elsewhere in the teaching of Black history.

Indoctrination is the key to promulgating propaganda. It can be subtle or blatant, but done purposefully has been a powerful tool for despots to control the population. Teaching factual history as it should be done, that is, without bias or an agenda beyond education, is not indoctrination it is education. 

The history of slavery and the civil rights movement is also related to, but separate from, teaching more broadly about the various types of racism. The later may belong in a social studies class rather than a history class. In college courses in racism might fit into a social psychology, sociology, or even criminal justice curriculum. It is a complex subject that shouldn't be reduced to political talking points. 

For example, advanced teaching about the underlying causes of Black crime which experts have attributed mostly to poverty, broken families, poor educational opportunities, and ghettoized neighborhoods where gang membership often gives kids a sense of identity I'd see coming in AP high school social science classes or college.

It is a sad state of our education system that Black churches have to fill in a void created in public education caused by the political pressure which has equated the teaching of Black history with the promotion of so-called woke beliefs which the MAGA GOP considers un-American.

The Post article, which includes many interviews with clergy and parishioners, and their photos, begins:

MIAMI — They filed into the pews one after the other on a sweltering Wednesday night, clutching Bibles and notepads, ready to learn at church what they no longer trusted would be taught at school.

“BLACK HISTORY MATTERS” proclaimed television screens facing the several dozen men and women settling in at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. An institution in the predominantly Black neighborhood of Liberty City, “The Ship” had borne witness to many of the seminal events of the past century, shepherding its followers during Jim Crow and the heyday of the KKK, through the civil rights movement to the racial justice protests of recent years.

Now, as a new school year started, the Rev. Gaston Smith was standing at the pulpit with a lesson on one of those chapters. After months of controversy over new directives governing classroom instruction in Florida — changes that critics said sanitized or even distorted the past — he and other Black pastors across the state agreed their churches had no choice but to respond.

They would teach Black history themselves.

Here's an excerpt:

While creating the tool kit, the members of a special task force had a few goals in mind. They wanted to cover a timespan from before slavery to modern times, including the Middle Passage, white supremacy and race riots, the Black Panther Party and what they called the “criminal injustice system.”

“We don’t want to whitewash anything,” said task force member Marlowe Jones, a Faith in Florida organizer in Pasco County. “We want to tell the truth.”

The response since July has been overwhelming. As of this month, more than 260 religious institutions have filled out a pledge to teach Black history. And it isn’t just Black congregations responding: There also are synagogues, Catholic churches and mosques. Nor is it only in-state houses of worship.

Faith in Florida is now getting requests to build out an entire curriculum —something Thomas hopes to tackle in time for the second half of the school year. “I had no idea it was going to go this far,” she said.

I wanted to view other comments from DSmith994 to see if I could get a sense of their views on similar matters, but since their comment had been deleted I was not able to do this.

This leaves me to speculate about them.

I think that their comment demonstrates what is often decribed as implicit racism (see article), excerpt here:

Implicit racism is an automatic negative reaction to someone of a different race or ethnicity than one’s own. Underlying and unconscious racist attitudes are brought forth when a person is faced with race-related triggers, including preconceived phenotypic differences or assumed cultural or environmental associations. Since this type of racism lies beyond the awareness of the person displaying the attitudes or actions, it is quite possible for someone to report that they hold few, if any, overt racist ideologies and yet display implicit racism in their everyday interactions with people of different racial groups.

That DSmith may not think they are racist doesn't mean that they don't have racist beliefs they are not aware of. Why, for example, did they decide to even bring up Black crime? This is irrelevant to the topic of the article which they are commenting on.

America from Colonial tome to the recent past like all countries does not have a pristine pure history. From how Native Americans to all minorities were disenfranchised and marginalized to in some cases the victims violence this is part of our national history. We don't use the term "heritage" to describe this part of our history. We usually save this word to describe things the country is rightfully proud of, but part of our heritage should be that we are able to look unflinchingly at the things done that had morallity been our national touchstone we never would had engage in these acts.

On a personal note... my first experience with what heritage meant and with a Black person.

When I was a child to get me and two of my friends were starting a club. We were trying to find a name for it to call it. My father suggested "The Heritage Club." I remember he really seemed invested in wanting us to chose that name. I didn't know what the word meant until he explained it and how important respecting one's heitage was.

Bruce Steinberg, Bobby Silver, and I did start a club. We met in our furnished attic.

I am embarrassed to write that we ended up calling our little group The Boy Geniuses Club, or BG's for short. 

The attic room we met in was once called "the maid's room."

When I was younger even though we didn't have much money somehow we had a series of three live-in maids who lived in the attic. This was during the mid-40's to mid-50's. 

The first maids, were Flossie (I had a photo of her holding me when I was a baby) and Edna. They were White.  I never knew their last names. 

When Edna left - in rerospect I think she may have gotten pregnant - I gave her almost all of my precious comic books.

The last one was Black. Her name was Alma. I got to know her the best. Alma was the first Black person I'd even even talked to, let alone become friends with. In those days we used the word "colored" but in my household the n-work was never uttered.

I remember we talked about her race and that she told me something about how she felt about the color of her skin. Something she said stuck with me but while it's there I can't quite grab ahold of what the exact words were but they were something about her being chocolate and me being vanilla. I recall I found that amusing.

Even though we thought the Heritage Club name was lame, my father's ethical and moral values always stayed with me. The primary ones were never to lie, to treat all people equally, and to respect my own and the county's heritage. At the time I doubt many of my peers even knew the meaning of the word heritage. Nowadays it is vital that children learn at an early age about what the word means and that it encompasses both the good and the bad about our past.


As of 7AM Pacific time this was the most liked of the 314 comments:

White kids do not feel “bad about themselves” when learning about the atrocities this country has committed. I have taught children as young as kindergarten. They recognize unfairness and ask why these things happened. They find it strange that had they been living in the era of strict segregation, they wouldn’t have been permitted to have Black, Latino or Asian friends, classmates or neighbors. I know this to be true because I taught here in NOVA public schools for 20+ years. Adults who object to the teaching of Black history don’t want an inclusive teaching of what is AMERICAN history. Kids have an innate sense of fairness. Kids are resilient. Kids aren’t the problem. Racists adults seeking to maintain the status quo are the problem.

I think the commenter is referring to schools in Nova, which is in Broward County, Florida.

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...