Monday, July 25, 2016
Make Your Own Reality!
Oh, yes. And those of us who remember Bush Jr., can't help thinking of this while watching John Oliver's brilliant, caustic comments:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
One more demonstration that Trump is not, as many in the media will have you believe, an anomaly in an otherwise reasonable and serious national party, a party with decent-thinking national figures that was hijacked by some orange-furred infestation .
No. Trump is Republican values incarnate. And the attitude that Trump has towards reality is the same as Gingrich and as Ryan. If I feel it, it's a fact.
Hey, it worked for Bush.
tristero 7/25/2016 12:00:00 PM
The Don loves Vlad
Friendly reminder from a few months ago:
Donald Trump hasn't gotten a lot of big-name endorsements, so in that sense it's not a huge surprise that he'd embrace a thumbs up from someone pretty well-known. The catch is that the well-known person in this case, as you may have heard, was Vladimir Putin. And in accepting Putin's praise, Donald Trump ends up in exchanges like this one, from MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday.
TRUMP: When people call you "brilliant" it's always good, especially when the person heads up Russia.
HOST JOE SCARBOROUGH: Well, I mean, also is a person who kills journalists, political opponents and ...
WILLIE GEIST: Invades countries.
SCARBOROUGH: ... and invades countries, obviously that would be a concern, would it not?
TRUMP: He's running his country, and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country.
SCARBOROUGH: But, again: He kills journalists that don't agree with him.
TRUMP: Well, I think that our country does plenty of killing, too, Joe.
A bit later, asked if he would condemn the killing of journalists, Trump replied, "Oh sure. Absolutely." And in the next response, "I've always felt fine about Putin. He's a strong leader. He's a powerful leader." Putin, Trump said, was respected as a leader -- his approval is in the 80s!
Seriously, he said this last December. He says a lot of things. But events of this week make such comments just a little bit more salient than they were before.
By the way, how come Manafort, with all his major RNC connections and all his skill hasn't run a presidential campaign until now? He hasn't even been involved with one since the 1980s when he decided to lead the Torture Lobby and start working exclusively for foreign dictators.
Odd, don't you think?
As is this:
Just weeks after she started preparing opposition research files on Donald Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort last spring, Democratic National Committee consultant Alexandra Chalupa got an alarming message when she logged into her personal Yahoo email account.
“Important action required,” read a pop-up box from a Yahoo security team that is informally known as “the Paranoids.” “We strongly suspect that your account has been the target of state-sponsored actors.”
Chalupa — who had been drafting memos and writing emails about Manafort’s connection to pro-Russian political leaders in Ukraine — quickly alerted top DNC officials. “Since I started digging into Manafort, these messages have been a daily occurrence on my Yahoo account despite changing my password often,” she wrote in a May 3 email to Luis Miranda, the DNC’s communications director, which included an attached screengrab of the image of the Yahoo security warning.
“I was freaked out,” Chalupa, who serves as director of “ethnic engagement” for the DNC, told Yahoo News in an interview, noting that she had been in close touch with sources in Kiev, Ukraine, including a number of investigative journalists, who had been providing her with information about Manafort’s political and business dealings in that country and Russia.
“This is really scary,” she said.
Chalupa’s message is among nearly 20,000 hacked internal DNC emails that were posted over the weekend by WikiLeaks as the Democratic Party gathered for its national convention in Philadelphia. Those emails have already provoked a convulsion in Democratic Party ranks, leading to the resignation of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz in the wake of posted messages in which she and other top DNC officials privately derided Bernie Sanders and plotted to undercut his insurgent campaign against Hillary Clinton.
But Chalupa’s message, which had not been previously reported, stands out: It is the first indication that the reach of the hackers who penetrated the DNC has extended beyond the official email accounts of committee officials to include their private email and potentially the content on their smartphones. After Chalupa sent the email to Miranda (which mentions that she had invited this reporter to a meeting with Ukrainian journalists in Washington), it triggered high-level concerns within the DNC, given the sensitive nature of her work. “That’s when we knew it was the Russians,” said a Democratic Party source who has been directly involved in the internal probe into the hacked emails. In order to stem the damage, the source said, “we told her to stop her research.”
digby 7/25/2016 10:30:00 AM
After the successful, buttoned-up production of the Clinton campaign Vice-Presidential pick on Friday it seemed the narrative of the Democratic convention would be starkly different from the hectic, chaotic RNC. (Trump's VP rollout may have been the worst in history with leaks and second guessing and delays culminating in a 60 Minutes joint interview that looked like the most uncomfortable partnership since Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth.)
That's not to say that everyone was thrilled with her choice. In fact there was a lot of grumbling from the left that Senator Tim Kaine is too centrist and there were many (including yours truly) who felt it was a missed opportunity to electrify the party with a more unconventional choice like Senator Elizabeth Warren or Labor Secretary Tom Perez. But the roll out itself was handled masterfully, with no official leaking and what most people saw as a good introduction for Tim Kaine. After a week of dystopian demagoguery and an acceptance speech worthy of a banana republic dictator, the Democrats thought they were looking at a smooth and upbeat convention without a whole lot of drama, which was just what they wanted.
And then all hell broke loose. The emails that had been previously reported
to have been stolen by Russian hackers (possibly at the behest of the Russian government
) were released by Wikileaks and confirmed what had long been suspected --- that high level executives and staffers at the DNC had been actively hostile to the Sanders campaign. The Sanders contingent already gathering in Philadelphia for the convention were outraged and the various protests and challenges that were already scheduled took on a new urgency. Demands for action were instantaneous and the narrative of competence and unity that the Clinton campaign and the DNC had hoped would open the convention exploded all over Philadelphia.
The documents did not show any actual manipulation of the race but nonetheless the idea of any Democrat seeking to use someone's religious beliefs against them or party officials going beyond shooting the breeze among their colleagues to actually propose smearing a candidate they don't personally prefer is just wrong. That it wasn't acted upon is really beside the point. These DNC employees had no business even thinking in these terms much less communicating this way among themselves. It was inevitable there would be an outcry and a reckoning once it was proven that had happened.
The fact that Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, a long time nemesis of the progressive wing of the party, was at the helm and personally involved made it all the more imperative that swift action be taken. For many years she has been a living example of party establishment big-footing progressives in House primary campaigns, going back to when she worked for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee under Rahm Emmanuel and ran its red to blue program
. Progressive Sanders supporters had good reason to be suspicious and documented proof of her hostility toward the Sanders campaign was the last straw. There would be no unity with her in charge.
Less publicly known was the apparent disdain in which she was also held by the establishment. According to this article in Politico
high level members of the Clinton campaign, including campaign chairman John Podesta, had wanted her out for some time but the president wasn't interested in getting into an internecine battle in the last year of his administration so he didn't make the move. From the various new reports it was clearly very difficult to find anyone to speak up for Wasserman-Shultz's job performance.
At mid-day Sunday it was announced that she would be stepping down as DNC chair, given a face-saving but powerless "honorary" title and would be replaced by long time Democratic stalwart Donna Brazile, an experienced hand who had run Jesse Jackson's campaign and who knows a little something about how to bring a party together after a fractious primary. Some of you may remember this from 1988:
In a move that sets the stage for a potential fight over delegates at the Democratic National Convention, the Rev. Jesse Jackson's campaign plans to send a letter to Gov. Michael S. Dukakis charging that the nomination process is ''inequitable,'' ''demonstrably unfair'' and ''distorted by rules that favor insider politics.''
That convention was quite dramatic, with a restless left wing led by a charismatic leader coming to the convention with a list of demands. (The media refrain then was "what does Jesse want?") And some people may also recall that one of Jackson's most ardent supporters back in the 80s
was none other than the mayor of Burlington Vermont, Bernie Sanders. The Sanders camp was reportedly very pleased with the Brazile appointment which may be because of that long ago association.
This tension between the reformers and the establishment, the insider vs the outsiders, is ongoing and healthy.And it's certainly nothing new for the Democratic Party.
Both Senator Sanders and his combative campaign manager Jeff Weaver were obviously upset but satisfied with Wasserman-Shultz's resignation and made it clear in media appearances that Sanders did not intend to change his plan to endorse and work for the Clinton victory against the demagogue Donald Trump. Weaver spoke with Chuck Todd on MSNBC and sounded downright optimistic about future reforms:
TODD: I was going to say does the resignation tell -- should your supporters say, this resignation should show you that you're actually welcome in the Democratic Party?
TODD: They want you in?
WEAVER: You can make a difference. Yes.
TODD: You know, that actually, they should see this as a positive development, not some sort of negative development.
WEAVER: It's a very positive development. I think it bodes well for the future of the party.
Sanders himself thanked Wasserman-Shultz for her years of service but emphasized the lesson that one hopes will be learned by all future party operatives: "The party leadership must also always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race." If they could carry that into the down ticket primaries as well, we might really get someplace.
digby 7/25/2016 09:00:00 AM
Channeling the anger
by Tom Sullivan
Photo: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A friend directed me to a Sunday post at DKos. It's about the emotional dynamics of our politics. It's about dealing with the raw feelings at work right now in the electorate. Because if there's one thing you should never do, it is try to talk people out of what they feel. Reason doesn't work well on that.
David Akadjian writes:
In sales, when someone has an objection, the first thing you need to do is acknowledge the objection. Honestly.
A lot of Bernie Sanders supporters are frustrated and angry too, but at different people. A few think they are going to Philadelphia to overturn the tables of the money changers. That probably won't happen, but at least Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stepping down (and probably shouldn't show up on stage). I get how they feel: angry that the world seems out of their control. It's a helpless feeling. I loathe that feeling. (In other quarters, people self-medicate by buying more guns.) Whether Hillary Clinton acknowledges the anger honestly in Philadelphia is her choice to make. She had best make it a good one. How Sanders delegates channel their feelings during and after the convention is similarly their choice to make. They are poised to build on their successes if they choose to.
If you don’t hear the objection and honestly acknowledge it, you might as well stop. Not dismissively acknowledge it with a cliché like, “I hear what you’re saying” or “That’s a great point.” But honestly acknowledge the objection.
In politics, this involves emotion. You have to show some genuine emotion.
People say that Trump is honest not because he’s honest. It’s because he shows emotion and he’s acknowledging the anger people feel and that this rage is genuine. He’s not making fun of them. He’s not telling them they’re wrong. He’s not reading some scripted speech.
Does he lie? Constantly. It doesn’t matter to many people though, because he’s saying that they’re right to be angry. Similarly, it doesn’t matter to many on the religious right that he’s not religious. It doesn’t matter to many libertarians that he’s not libertarian. He’s angry. They’re angry. By and large this is what counts. (And yes, racism probably plays a big part in this and you will never win the consciously racist. You’re also never going to win people over by calling them racist though. So I find it more productive to teach about racism in other places.)
People don’t care that Trump lies because he is acknowledging a genuine concern of theirs. Similarly, this is one of the reasons people liked Bernie Sanders: Because he speaks to a concern genuinely. If you listen to someone like Elizabeth Warren, she does the same thing.
One of the times I felt most frustrated was after I almost died in a head-on collision that didn't happen.
A friend and I were in my family's VW bus sitting at night in the left-turn lane of a major intersection and waiting for the light to turn. Out of nowhere, a white panel truck raced into the intersection headed straight for us through the opposite left-turn lane. I could see the driver's face inside. But instead of hitting us head-on, the van hit the left front of a passenger car that crossed between us, left to right, traveling with the light. The two vehicles slid past us and came to rest up against a phone pole on the corner to my right. The passenger car flipped up onto its right side when it hit the curb, its roof coming to rest against the pole. The driver of the still-upright van started to climb out the driver's side window.
As we sat there with our mouths hanging open, a pink Mustang convertible (I kid you not) screeched to a halt in the middle of the intersection. The Mustang driver jumped out, leveled a large revolver at the van driver and screamed for him to "Hold it!" He did. Our jaws dropped even lower.
The guy in the van was an escaped convict. The Mustang driver was a prison guard who had taken chase.
What happened next changed me. We jumped out and ran over to the wrecked car as the guard handcuffed his prisoner. A family was inside. With kids. Broken and bleeding. But we stood there, two high school kids, helpless, not knowing what we could or should to help as police and an ambulance arrived. That helplessness was one of the worst feelings of my life. I still hate that feeling.
Never again. It took time, but I eventually signed up for EMT training.
After George W. Bush invaded Iraq, I started doing this and more. I used to get angry. Now I just get busy.
Undercover Blue 7/25/2016 06:00:00 AM
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Your Sunday Night Homework
This piece by Alexander Burns in the New York Times about Trump's historical antecedents and where he fits ideologically is extremely interesting. You won't be sorry you read it. An excerpt:
Historians see in Mr. Trump’s candidacy the winding together of different strains in reactionary politics under a single banner. No reality television star has run for president before, but Mr. Trump, with his grasp of the art of notoriety, has forebears of a kind in General MacArthur and Charles A. Lindbergh, the celebrity aviator whose “America First” slogan Mr. Trump has appropriated, and in Hearst and Henry Ford, a pair of renowned and eccentric tycoons who eyed the presidency.
His message contains echoes of George Wallace, the segregationist Alabama governor who sought the White House on a law-and-order platform, and of Mr. Perot and Lee A. Iacocca, modern industrialists drawn to politics and preoccupied with economic threats from Asia and Latin America.
Viewed from this angle, Mr. Trump looks less like a singular phenomenon of 2016, and more like the political equivalent of a comet that crosses the track of an American presidential campaign every few decades.
“We’ve seen everything in Trump before,” said Kevin Kruse, a political historian at Princeton, “but we’ve never seen it all together at once.”
For much of the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump has defied ideological labeling: He has ignored traditional cultural wedge issues like abortion rights and same-sex marriage, and has taken shifting and often contradictory stances on a host of other matters, from military intervention in Syria to the concept of universal health care.
Mr. Trump has brusquely dismissed the charge of philosophical inconsistency. “I’m a conservative,” he said in a speech in May in California. “But at this point, who cares?”
Yet beneath his swerving and scattered policy agenda, he has been steadfastly consistent over time on a few broad inclinations that define his political worldview.
To the extent that he has an ideology, it is a kind of fortress conservatism, taking a bunkered outlook on the world and fixating on challenges to America’s economic supremacy and to its character as a nation defined by the white working class.
Patrick J. Buchanan, who ran for president both as a populist Republican and as a third-party immigration hawk, called Mr. Trump a kindred spirit. “You could call it tribalism,” Mr. Buchanan said. “You could call it ethno-nationalism.”
Since Mr. Trump first toyed with running for president in the 1980s, he has been hostile to foreign trade and immigration and suspicious of international organizations he views as impinging on America’s free hand. He is distrustful of alliances with less powerful countries, which he has characterized as freeloading off America’s wealth and power.
In the 2016 campaign, Mr. Trump has suggested withdrawing from NATO and pulling troops back from longstanding bases in countries like South Korea and Germany. His threats are a precise echo of a speech he gave in New Hampshire in 1987, declaring that the United States had been “kicked around” by ungrateful allies in Asia and the Middle East.
In domestic matters, Mr. Trump’s main impulse is toward hard-line law and order. He is indifferent to civil liberties and contemptuous of objections to racial targeting. For decades, he has described the country as harried by rampant crime, and has typically placed blame with different nonwhite communities, including urban blacks, Hispanic immigrants and Native Americans.
Long before he called for banning Muslim immigration and torturing terrorism suspects, Mr. Trump argued for unleashing the New York Police Department to attack social unrest with a mailed fist. He spoke approvingly of the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown in Tiananmen Square. He recently expressed admiration for Vladimir V. Putin, Russia’s autocratic president, and Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator, whom he praised as tough on terrorism.
He is not the first American businessman with presidential aspirations to be drawn to strongman government: Hearst and Ford, the anti-Semitic car manufacturer who considered a presidential bid in 1924, both maintained cordial and even admiring relations with emerging fascist regimes in Italy and Germany.
Charles Murray, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said Mr. Trump’s autocratic tendencies placed him well outside the conservative intellectual mainstream.
“The word fascist is simply thrown around too easily, and so I don’t want to use that word. But part of Trumpism is the man on the white horse,” Mr. Murray said. “That’s neither left nor right. That’s authoritarian, and it’s really, really scary.”
That's the Charles Murray saying that. And he's right.
There's much more to the article all worth reading. Let's just say that the salient point about all of these previous examples of similar strong men types is that none of them actually got the nomination of one of America's two main political parties. It's much closer to actual reality than it's ever been before.
digby 7/24/2016 06:00:00 PM
Take it to our graves
Seriously people. I don't mean to sound hysterical. I'm not generally a hysterical person. But this is gut check time.
digby 7/24/2016 03:00:00 PM
She's just a cute comedienne, right?
There is one good thing about Trump's candidacy. It's clarifying. The outright racists and xenophobes supporting him are just letting it all hang out:
I like hearing CNN's Fareed Zakaria ask in a thick Indian accent, "What kind of America do we want to return to?
Now, Australian Danielle Pletka says Trump sounds like a national leader "OF RUSSIA." Pro Tip: Try to get Americans tell us what's American.
That was Ann Coulter on twitter, by the way.
Both Zakaria and Pletka are Americans.
digby 7/24/2016 01:30:00 PM
"I think it’s so sad. He’s such a great guy. Roger is – I mean, what he’s done on television, is in the history of television, he’s gotta be placed in the top three, or four or five," Trump said. "And that includes the founding of the major networks. So, it’s too bad. I’m sure it was friendly. I know Rupert [Murdoch]. He’s a great guy."
"Rupert has great respect for Roger and everything Roger’s done. But when you think about Roger Ailes, in the history of television, there’s really been almost no instances where something like this has been done," he said.
digby 7/24/2016 12:00:00 PM
What the hell?
I just don't know what to say about that. I guess the amount of applause for his speech is his new bragging point? I don't get it.
digby 7/24/2016 10:30:00 AM
And yet another one says good-bye
A longtime Republican activist whose blog is called "GOPlifer" posted this yesterday, via Raw Story:
Yesterday I resigned my position in the York Township Republican Committeemen’s Organization. Below is the letter I sent to the chairman explaining my decision.
We come together in political parties to magnify our influence. An organized representative institution can give weight to our will in ways we could not accomplish on our own. Working with others gives us power, but at the cost of constant, calculated compromise. No two people will agree on everything. There is no moral purity in politics.
If compromise is the key to healthy politics, how does one respond when compromise descends into complicity? To preserve a sense of our personal moral accountability we must each define boundaries. For those boundaries to have meaning we must have the courage to protect them, even when the cost is high.
Almost thirty years ago as a teenager in Texas, I attended my first county Republican convention. As a college student I met a young Rick Perry, fresh from his conversion to the GOP, as he was launching his first campaign for statewide office. Through Associated Republicans of Texas I contributed and volunteered for business-friendly Republican state and local candidates.
Here in DuPage County I’ve been a precinct committeeman since 2006. Door to door I’ve canvased my precinct in support of our candidates. Trudging through snow, using a drill to break the frozen ground, I posted signs for candidates on whom I pinned my hopes for better government. Among Illinois Republicans I found an organization that seemed to embody my hopes for the party nationally. Pragmatic, sensible, and focused on solid government, it seemed like a GOP Jurassic Park, where the sensible, reliable Republicans of old still roamed the landscape.
At the national level, the delusions necessary to sustain our Cold War coalition were becoming dangerous long before Donald Trump arrived. From tax policy to climate change, we have found ourselves less at odds with philosophical rivals than with the fundamentals of math, science and objective reality.
The Iraq War, the financial meltdown, the utter failure of supply-side theory, climate denial, and our strange pursuit of theocratic legislation have all been troubling. Yet it seemed that America’s party of commerce, trade, and pragmatism might still have time to sober up. Remaining engaged in the party implied a contribution to that renaissance, an investment in hope. Donald Trump has put an end to that hope.
From his fairy-tale wall to his schoolyard bullying and his flirtation with violent racists, Donald Trump offers America a singular narrative – a tale of cowards. Fearful people, convinced of our inadequacy, trembling before a world alight with imaginary threats, crave a demagogue. Neither party has ever elevated to this level a more toxic figure, one that calls forth the darkest elements of our national character.
With three decades invested in the Republican Party, there is a powerful temptation to shrug and soldier on. Despite the bold rhetoric, we all know Trump will lose. Why throw away a great personal investment over one bad nominee? Trump is not merely a poor candidate, but an indictment of our character. Preserving a party is not a morally defensible goal if that party has lost its legitimacy.
Watching Ronald Reagan as a boy, I recall how bold it was for him to declare ‘morning again’ in America. In a country menaced by Communism and burdened by a struggling economy, the audacity of Reagan’s optimism inspired a generation.
Fast-forward to our present leadership and the nature of our dilemma is clear. I watched Paul Ryan speak at Donald Trump’s convention the way a young child watches his father march off to prison. Thousands of Republican figures that loathe Donald Trump, understand the danger he represents, and privately hope he loses, are publicly declaring their support for him. In Illinois our local and state GOP organizations, faced with a choice, have decided on complicity.
Our leaders’ compromise preserves their personal capital at our collective cost. Their refusal to dissent robs all Republicans of moral cover. Evasion and cowardice has prevailed over conscience. We are now, and shall indefinitely remain, the Party of Donald Trump.
I will not contribute my name, my work, or my character to an utterly indefensible cause. No sensible adult demands moral purity from a political party, but conscience is meaningless without constraints. A party willing to lend its collective capital to Donald Trump has entered a compromise beyond any credible threshold of legitimacy. There is no redemption in being one of the “good Nazis.”
I hereby resign my position as a York Township Republican committeeman. My thirty-year tenure as a Republican is over.
That is in keeping with my observations about what's happening to the Republican party right now.
This is not normal folks. Longtime activists don't leave the Republican party because they disagree with their candidate on some issues. They just don't do that. They are very loyal soldiers. The fact that this is happened, and he is not the only one, and for the reasons its happening is a big deal.
It's also a hopeful sign and I'm not being partisan. There will always be (at least) two parties in this country and it's important that they both be healthy institutions that are dedicated to the basic ideals of democratic governance. The Republicans have gone off the rails in recent years and have become nihilistic obstructionists in a way that is dangerous enough that it's produced this authoritarian demagogue as their nominee. It's healthy that Republicans themselves see this and are brave enough to take public action.
The once and future leaders like Paul Ryan have tried to have it both ways and history will not be kind.
digby 7/24/2016 09:00:00 AM
Just your average field hospital in America
by Tom Sullivan
Patients wait in line for free health care at the Wise County fairgrounds.
Dentists and assistants work with headlamps and floor lights and under a large, open-sided event tent. There are no overhead lights, so lighting is bad. Power cables, air and water hoses snake across the open ground. There is a steady hum of generators and air compressors. A line of patients line up outside a barn for medical check-in. Others sit patiently in the wooden stands of horse arena, waiting for their numbers to be called. This is a county fairgrounds in southwest Virginia. It is the second day of the 17th annual Remote Area Medical (RAM) free clinic in the town of Wise. This is coal country, and the fairgrounds has been converted into a massive MASH unit.
Dentists consult under the big tent.
"Five-fifty and below," a volunteer tells patients as they line up outside the barn. He asks to see their tickets. Over 1,300 got tickets before dawn on Friday. Eight-hundred more on Saturday. These are citizens who have fallen through the cracks of America's for-profit health care system. Obamacare has not reached them. Poor mostly. Out of work. Laid off. Left behind.
At the 2011 clinic, a pregnant woman's water broke. She didn't want to leave and lose her place in line:
An ambulance standing by eventually took her to town in time to have her child in a hospital instead of an animal stall. The child might have been the first ever born at a RAM free clinic. But not without a number, joked one of RAM’s 1,700 volunteers.
Those old enough might remember Brock from Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom."
Far from Washington’s “debt crisis” abstractions is another crisis, an American reality one cannot describe in words nor experience secondhand.
Stan Brock founded Knoxville-based RAM in 1985 to parachute mobile medical teams into remote areas of third-world countries. Now over 60 percent the patients RAM serves are in rural areas of the United States. Brock himself lives where he stores his supplies, in an old schoolhouse RAM rents from the city of Knoxville for $1 a year. Brock himself is reportedly penniless.
Although gas is cheaper, the patient parking lot looks less full that on my previous visits. License tags on cars (some filled with blankets and pillows) were from Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. (In the past, I've see tags from as far away as Michigan.) Perhaps because with so many volunteers, Friday's efforts had processed many of those who arrived Thursday night to camp out in their cars and tents. The volunteer lot was full and overflowing to the other side of Hurricane Rd.
Wise County Virginia fairgrounds.
Inside the fairgrounds, state medical association trailers provide advanced diagnosis and treatment on site. Most of the treatment here is dental care not covered by most insurance policies (for those who have policies). There are lot of bad teeth here. A line of student volunteers clean and sterilize instruments just outside the big tent. They come from the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, students and staff, and the Virginia Dental Association Mission of Mercy. More church and community groups then one can count are here. The Lions Club makes glasses and provides free meals. Popup tents feature Zika virus prevention, circulation and diabetes checks. There are free books and free clothes. On this weekend in July, everything here is free.
Extractions are commonplace at the Wise clinic.
From minor surgery to dentures and more.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam visited on Friday. I met Derek Kitts there yesterday. Kitts, "a self-described Blue Dog Democrat," is a 24-year army veteran running for Congress in Virginia's 9th District. I met Sen. Tim Kaine at the RAM clinic in 2013. It is an annual pilgrimage for state leaders. McAuliffe was impressed with the efforts of the volunteers:
But I am equally saddened that this clinic is necessary.
Government intransigence is a roadblock for Stan Brock as well. The eighty-ish Brock has a noticeable limp and uses a golf cart to get around the fairgrounds. He would take his health fair to more states, but is based in Tennessee because its reciprocity laws for volunteer medical staff are the most lenient. Thirteen states have changed their laws, Brock says. That allows RAM to set up clinics in their states. Oklahoma works just fine, he said. He has held clinics in Oklahoma City.
For most of the men, women and children who come here each summer, it is the only medical attention they will receive.
They wait a year for the fairground to be transformed into a field hospital.
They line up at midnight.
And the wait is worth it. Indeed, the RAM clinic saves lives every year by providing critical care for high-risk pregnancies, heart attacks and even brain tumors.
Many of the clinic’s patients have jobs, but they earn too much to qualify for our current Medicaid system and too little to qualify for low-cost health insurance on the federal marketplace.
Some are disabled. Some can’t find work.
The tragedy of the RAM clinic is that we have the ability as Virginians to provide these people with high-quality health care year round — if we will accept federal funds to expand Medicaid coverage in our Commonwealth.
Remote Aree Medical (RAM) founder Stan Brock.
RAM held a large clinic in Los Angeles after California adjusted its law, according to Brock. "Arnold signed it", he said meaning Gov. Schwarzenegger. But then someone found a way to "screw it up." Medical boards erected new hoops — acceptance criteria, fingerprints, forms, registration, etc. Only four of his volunteers were willing to jump through all the new hoops. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle in Washington support a more uniform national set of standards for reciprocity, but then again many do not. "States rights," he says.
Brock speaks with some of his patients.
Asked whether the parking lot indicated the crowd was down this year, Brock explained the trick is not to turn anyone away and to make sure they don't have any more than about 200 left to treat on Sunday morning. So far this weekend they have not had to turn anyone away.
Brock had to pause speaking periodically because across the way at Becky's Place, a yellow and white tent from the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, a guy with a loudspeaker was promoting a cervical cancer informational training about to happen. Come for the drawing, he said. "A $50 gift certificate from Walmart. And couldn't we all use that?" How much medical care could you buy with it?
Undercover Blue 7/24/2016 06:00:00 AM
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Aging gracefully (and not) - Older than Ireland **** & Absolutely Fabulous **½
By Dennis Hartley
Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman. With time, those who listened to me became my readers. They no longer sit in a circle, but rather sit apart. And one doesn't know anything about the other. I'm an old man with a broken voice, but the tale still rises from the depths, and the mouth, slightly opened, repeats it as clearly, as powerfully. A liturgy for which no one needs to be initiated to the meaning of words and sentences – Wings of Desire, script by Wim Wenders, Peter Handke & Richard Reitinger
They say that with age, comes wisdom. Just don’t ask a centenarian to impart any, because they are likely to smack you right in the kisser. Not that there is even a hint of any violence in Alex Fegan and Garry Walsh’s documentary, Older than Ireland, but there appears to be consensus among their interviewees (all aged from 100-113 years) that the question they find to be most irksome is: “What’s your secret to living so long?”
But once that hurdle is cleared, Fegan and Walsh’s subjects have much to impart in this wonderfully entertaining (and ultimately moving) pastiche of the human experience. The wordplay of the film title refers to its release on the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising (the birth of the Irish Republic), and the fact that all interviewees were born beforehand.
These aren’t luminaries, just everyday folks. But everyone has a story to tell; particularly someone who can say they’ve seen everything from World War I to Snapchat during their lifetime. Yet this isn’t necessarily a dry history lesson, either. A collection of personal histories, perhaps; but instantly and universally relatable. From memories of a first kiss (or sneaking off for “a snoggle in the ditch”, as one woman amusingly recalls) to remembering tragedy and loss. Or contemplating the conundrum of outliving everybody who ever meant anything to you; once considered, do you really hope you’ll live to 100?
So turn off your personal devices for 80 minutes, watch this wondrous film and plug into humankind’s forgotten backup system: the Oral Tradition. You may not discover The Secret to Eternal Life (which I’m convinced has everything to do with “genetics”, considering the one interviewee always seen puffing away and another who says she’s “never eaten a vegetable in [her] life”), but you just may learn something about yourself.
The world has changed and strangely enough caught up with the Ab Fab women because in those days, it was shocking – women drinking too much, staying out, not caring, doing stuff like that. Social media didn’t exist. [ ] And now the world is much more sensitive. People take offence at the smallest things, which in those days were just funny. In the future, it’s going to be harder to write anything. – Joanna Lumley (in a Stylist interview)
While you may assume Ms. Lumley (above right), one of the stars of Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie is referring to the 1950s when she says “those days”, she is actually referring to the 1990s…which is when she originally assumed the character of “Patsy Stone” in the popular Britcom Absolutely Fabulous (1992-1996, later revived 2001-2004). The BBC series was the brainchild of brilliantly funny writer/actress Jennifer Saunders, casting herself as the other half of this fabulous duo, Edina Monsoon.
Edina is a PR agent, whose biggest client is Lulu (yes, that Lulu, who played herself to amusing effect in the TV series and reappears in the new film). Patsy is a magazine editor, and Edina’s BFF. While they both have “jobs” (in a manner of speaking), we rarely see them “working”, in the traditional sense. They expend most of their time cringingly attempting to ingratiate themselves with London’s hippest tastemakers, fashionistas, pop stars, and hottest actors/actresses du jour. For the most part, they’re snubbed (or ignored altogether). Yet they persevere, when not otherwise busy imbibing champagne and/or any drug they are within snorting distance of. Patsy, in particular, is always on the pull; usually for younger men (there’s a switch). Bad behavior all around.
Back to Lumley’s observations for a moment. I’m going to risk crucifixion here (won’t be the first time) and heartily concur with her point regarding the intersection of P.C. and Funny these days. Now, I’m a card-carryin’, tree-huggin’, NPR-listenin’ pinko lib’rul, and I fully understand the subjective nature of humor. But speaking as a lifelong comedy fan (and ex-standup performer myself), I remain a firm believer in the credo that in comedy, nothing is sacred. I don’t always agree with Bill Maher, but I’m with him 100% on his crusade to call out a new Bizarro World Hays Code from a portion of the Left that has even forced mainstream fixtures like Jerry Seinfeld to swear off playing college gigs.
In light of today’s techy climate for comedy, another principal character in Absolutely Fabulous, Edina’s daughter Saffron (played by Julia Sawalha, also reprising her original role in the film) almost seems a prescient creation on Saunders’ part. Saffron, who progressed from secondary school to university through the course of the original series, was really the only “adult” character in the household. Dour, disapproving, and very P.C. (long before the term became so de rigueur) she did her best to keep her mother in line (rarely succeeding, to her chagrin). So here you have the child lecturing the parent to get home at a decent hour, lay off the drugs, be more financially responsible, etc. Patsy, as Edina’s longtime chief enabler, views Saffron as a party-pooper (ergo her mortal enemy).
The show was not for all tastes; personally, I loved it. “Bad taste”, in the right hands, can make for some grand entertainment (John Waters’ oeuvre comes to mind). It was pretty outrageous, and very British; which is probably why we never saw an American remake (would never work anyway). In a roundabout way, it was also feminist-positive; and the world has in fact “caught up with the Ab Fab women”, as evidenced by the success of HBO’s Girls, plus a recent slew of Comedy Central originals like Inside Amy Schumer, Another Period, and Broad City (the latter program comes closest to Ab Fab in attitude).
And so it is that the big screen adaptation (written by Saunders and directed by Mandie Fletcher), despite being at least 20 years tardy to cash in on its TV legs, surprisingly manages to retain its original ethos without really seeming that anachronistic. That is not to say that you should expect it to be much deeper than a sitcom episode. Which it isn’t.
The plot, of course, is completely ridiculous; Edina and Patsy get a hot tip that supermodel Kate Moss has dumped her PR person, so they weasel their way into a chic soiree (which they naturally would never be invited to attend), and somehow the overly-enthusiastic Edina knocks Kate over a railing into the murky depths of the Thames. Assuming (along with fellow attendees) that she has just sent one of the world’s most famous models to a watery grave, Edina and Patsy panic and flee to the South of France.
Does hilarity ensue? I wouldn’t rank it with Some Like it Hot (which is cleverly referenced in the final scene), but it is colorful, campy, over-the-top, and yes, politically incorrect…but quite amusing. And perhaps it does have something to say about social media feeding frenzies and mob mentality. You may forget what you watched by the time you get back to your car, but it sure is fun while it lasts. Sometimes, that’s all you need.
digby 7/23/2016 05:00:00 PM