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President Responds to London Attack With Range of Awful Twitter Behavior

Robert Mackey
June 4 2017, 5:57 p.m.
EVERY DAY, A NEW LOW. As Britons turned to social networks to try to get credible information about an unfolding terrorist attack in central London on Saturday night, the President of the United States enraged many by injecting himself into the conversation, and trying to turn the wave of anxiety and fear to his political advantage.

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Will Heaven @WillHeaven
This was scene as we left London Bridge.
11:42 PM - 3 Jun 2017
704 704 Retweets 421 421 likes
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Before the nature or scope of the incident was entirely clear even to police officers responding to the rampage, Donald Trump used his personal Twitter account to share unsourced, third-hand speculation about the attack from an American political blogger and then lashed out at federal judges for blocking his executive order barring travel from seven Muslim-majority nations as unconstitutional.

A screenshot from Donald Trump's personal Twitter feed.
After pausing for some rest and, apparently, to block a musician in Manchester who criticized him for retweeting news "like a bloody ghoul" Trump resumed his role as Pundit-in-Chief early Sunday morning in Washington, by falsely accusing London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, of downplaying the attacks as he attempted to instill calm rather than sow panic.

In both a written statement released overnight, and a video message on Sunday morning, Khan urged "all Londoners and visitors to our city to remain calm and vigilant."

Khan continued to project measured, steely determination during a television interview, when asked what steps the authorities were taking to prevent more "low-intensity attacks," using vehicles rather than bombs. He replied that "the police and experts and all of us are finding new ways to keep us safe."

Sky News @SkyNews
Mayor of London @SadiqKhan responds to #LondonAttack, saying "there can not be justification for the acts of these terrorists" #LondonBridge
8:22 AM - 4 Jun 2017
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As part of that effort, he said, "Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days." There was, the mayor added "no reason to be alarmed" by the sight of those officers.

That message seemed to get through to Londoners, who do indeed take pride in continuing to "keep calm and carry on" when faced with security threats, as reporters for the BBC and Sky News observed.

Brian Klaas @brianklaas
Brilliant & defiant interview from someone who was in a restaurant attacked last night here in London. The right response from a tough city.
12:51 PM - 4 Jun 2017
8,411 8,411 Retweets 12,884 12,884 likes
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Kay Burley @KayBurley
Despite continuing police presence and cordons, Londoners determined to get back to every day life #LondonAttacks
12:02 PM - 4 Jun 2017
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After Khan's interview was rebroadcast on Fox News in the United States, however, Trump leapt at the chance to distort the words of London's first Muslim mayor.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is "no reason to be alarmed!"
1:31 PM - 4 Jun 2017
46,470 46,470 Retweets 108,791 108,791 likes
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"The mayor is busy working with the police, emergency services and the government to coordinate the response to this horrific and cowardly terrorist attack and provide leadership and reassurance to Londoners and visitors to our city," Khan's spokesman told reporters. "He has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump's ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks urging Londoners not to be alarmed when they saw more police including armed officers on the streets."

While Khan refused to take time out to reply to Trump's tweet, several Britons did, including David Lammy, a member of Parliament running to retain his seat in the general election this Thursday.

David Lammy @DavidLammy
Cheap nasty & unbecoming of a national leader. Sort of thing that makes me want to quit politics on a day like this. Evil everywhere we look …
2:14 PM - 4 Jun 2017
487 487 Retweets 1,214 1,214 likes
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Mike P Williams @Mike_P_Williams
@realDonaldTrump I expect the rightwing bigots and Islamophobes to say shit like this but you're the presi-never mind.
Mike P Williams @Mike_P_Williams
@realDonaldTrump How dare you attack our Mayor. Britain is meant to be your closest ally, but instead you're taking swipes on social media. Ridiculous.
1:51 PM - 4 Jun 2017
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J.K. Rowling @jk_rowling
It's called 'leadership', Donald. The terrorists were dead 8 minutes after police got the call. If we need an alarmist blowhard, we'll call. …
2:25 PM - 4 Jun 2017
62,034 62,034 Retweets 164,633 164,633 likes
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George Eaton @georgeeaton
Trump's tweets on London a good example of why "the special relationship" can't continue as before. …
2:04 PM - 4 Jun 2017
685 685 Retweets 2,116 2,116 likes
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Adam Wagner @AdamWagner1
I'll say one thing for Trump - he has a knack of uniting huge sections of British society (against him)
4:40 PM - 4 Jun 2017
14 14 Retweets 45 45 likes
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Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, also expressed his dismay at Trump's attempt to whip of hysteria.

Chris Murphy @ChrisMurphyCT
My god. @POTUS has no idea that the goal of terrorists is to instill a level of fear in the public disproportionate to the actual threat. …
3:37 PM - 4 Jun 2017
9,551 9,551 Retweets 22,457 22,457 likes
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Khan, a former member of Parliament for the Labour party, was elected in a landslide last year over a Conservative candidate who spread racially divisive innuendo about the supposed danger of electing a son of Pakistani Muslim immigrants to lead the British capital.

That effort failed badly, however, and the mayor now enjoys an approval rating of 56 percent in polling conducted earlier this week. The same survey also found that more Londoners trust him to keep them safe than trust either the prime minister, Theresa May, or the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

Despite Khan's popularity in the city, the mayor's faith has made him a widely reviled figure in the alt-right communities of online racists Trump's worldview is marinated in. The president's main connection to those groups is his former caddy and current social media director, Dan Scavino.

After Khan perhaps disappointed the White House by not replying to Trump's tweet, Scavino took it upon himself to tweet directly at the mayor of London who, again, was still dealing with the immediate aftermath of a deadly terrorist attack in his city to let him know that the president was still angry that Khan said, 13 months ago, "Trump's ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe" by "alienating mainstream Muslims."

Trump was also lambasted for another tweet on Sunday, in which he bizarrely implied that since the London attackers used a van and knives to kill, restricting access to guns in the United States would not prevent terrorism.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That's because they used knives and a truck!
1:43 PM - 4 Jun 2017
32,998 32,998 Retweets 103,957 103,957 likes
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Tom Chivers @TomChivers
Yes it would definitely have been better for everyone if they could have easily got guns, good point Don …
1:50 PM - 4 Jun 2017
2,177 2,177 Retweets 5,997 5,997 likes
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Robert Harris @Robert___Harris
They had to use knives and a truck because they couldn't get hold of guns. Imagine the carnage if they had & had returned police fire. …
2:01 PM - 4 Jun 2017
18,019 18,019 Retweets 38,532 38,532 likes
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Sara Hussein @sarahussein
The UK had its gun debate after the Dunblane school shooting. It was short and it ended with gun control. …
2:12 PM - 4 Jun 2017
6,469 6,469 Retweets 13,709 13,709 likes
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The new spike in animus for Trump, who was already deeply unpopular in Britain, would seem to make it unlikely that his previously delayed state visit to London will take place any time soon.

Larry the Cat @Number10cat
The President of the US has exploited an ongoing tragedy in London for his ends; rethink urgently needed on his forthcoming State visit. …
1:36 AM - 4 Jun 2017
1,614 1,614 Retweets 2,963 2,963 likes
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Robert Mackey @RobertMackey
Seems impossible to imagine Trump's scheduled state visit to the UK happening now - unless he wants to see a million protesters in person …
Louise Mothersole @lrmothersole
@RobertMackey I have never attended a protest or political march in my life but I will turn out if Trump gets a full State visit to UK
10:36 AM - 4 Jun 2017
10 10 Retweets 11 11 likes
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The reality that Trump's presence on British soil would spark massive protests seemed obvious to many in London, but apparently was less understood in Washington, where the president's aides told reporters that he was considering a visit this week.

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Evan McMurry @evanmcmurry
.@jonkarl: Some discussion at White House of possible London trip later in week to show solidarity after attacks
3:28 PM - 4 Jun 2017
184 184 Retweets 210 210 likes
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The prospect of Trump appearing in the United Kingdom on the eve of a general election delighted those who would like to see Prime Minister May punished for cozying up to the president.

Neil Claxton @MintRoyale
I so hope he does this, just so May has to spend her last days campaigning with the most unpopular man in the world holding her hand. …
3:48 PM - 4 Jun 2017
2 2 Retweets 19 19 likes
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The UAE, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have just broken diplomatic ties with Quatar. It seems this is a grand plan to influence the Trump administration to start a war against Iran and destroy it and its people. Elliot Abrams from the Reagan and Bush administrations, and long with right-wing Israeli ties seems to be involved in this venture. Most experts think a war on Iran would quickly lead to a nuclear war - and not a limited one! Watch this story, as I think it has the potential to end life on this planet.

Every right-wing critter worldwide seems to be crawling out from under their rocks in the age of Trump and I think this is no coincidence - the only question is: cause or effect. I think both - a synergistic effect is leading the US, UK and the World toward authoritarian and neo-fascist regimes - leading to increased divide between rich and poor; those that are 'in' and those that are considered 'out', and WAR, hate, discord. For background on this, see post above.
The rest of the developed World already has better/faster/cheaper internet - and is keeping it 'net neutral' - the USA, being the USA and being a fully-owned subsidiary of the major corporations will shortly end net neutrality and you will be 'force fed' what the corporations want you to see/hear/know and you will pay a lot extra or be blocked entirely from other content. The 'exceptional country'!? I would suggest you call and leave a message with the FCC now if you are in the USA...before it is too late.



[Image: image1-700x470.jpg]Net Neutrality opponent and former lawyer for Verizon, Ajit Pai, was appointed as chairman to the FCC by President Donald Trump in January. Photo credit: FCC/Wikimedia Commons
Since taking office, President Donald Trump has wasted no time in proposing rollbacks to Obama-era federal regulations. So, it should come as no surprise that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted last month to propose changes to current regulations on Internet service providers.
Spearheaded by Ajit Pai the Trump-appointed FCC chairman and former lawyer for Verizon the 2-1 vote is the first step in dismantling the Open Internet Order. The lone FCC Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, was overruled by Pai and fellow commissioner Michael O'Reilly.
The 2015 order classified broadband internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. Opponents of the current state of net neutrality argue that the rules are archaic and place unnecessary even harmful restrictions on internet service providers (ISPs), leading to lack of innovation and investment.
While it's true that policies conceived in the 1930s could hardly anticipate the complexities of the modern Internet, a complete rollback of Title II protections would leave ISPs free to favor their own services and whichever company pays for upgraded service. Considering relaxed FEC rules on media ownership and lack of antitrust enforcement, some could argue that a rollback of net neutrality is even more toxic to innovation and affordable pricing.
That is, fast lanes could be created for companies with deeper pockets, effectively giving them an advantage over companies and individuals who can't pay extra. This approach effectively penalizes small businesses, nonprofits and innovative start-ups.
Today's Internet is so vast and so pervasive that it's hard to grasp the impact that an abandonment of net neutrality would have on every aspect of our culture.
While the FCC's proposed change will touch most Americans, net neutrality remains a mystifying concept to non-techies. To help our readers better understand the issue, we have compiled some videos that explain net neutrality and its importance.
The FCC will be accepting comments from the public on their website until August 16, 2017.

Could Trump's White House Bury or Even Destroy the Landmark 2014 Senate Report on CIA Torture?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, we turn now to another issue. Is the Trump administration attempting to erase history? On Friday, congressional officials confirmed the administration has begun returning to Congress copies of the Senate's explosive 2014 report on CIA torture. The move raises concerns that copies of the classified report will now be buried in Senate vaults or even destroyedand, along with it, lessons from one of the darkest chapters in America's history.
Under the Obama administration, the 6,770-page landmark investigative Senate report was initially sent to federal agencies in the hope it would eventually be made public. Now the reports will be returned to the Republican-controlled Senate. Documents held by Congress are not subjected to laws requiring government records to eventually be made public.
On Friday, The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement, quote, "It would be a travesty for agencies to return the CIA torture report instead of reading and learning from it, as senators intended. ... This critically important investigation should have been made public."
AMY GOODMAN: Democrats are expressing fear that the Trump administration intends to erase electronic copies and destroy hard copies of the report. In a statement, Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon accused the Trump administration of seeking to, quote, "pave the way for the kind of falsehoods used to justify an illegal and dangerous torture program," unquote.
Throughout the campaign and since taking office, President Trump has voiced his support for torture. This is ABC's David Muir questioning Trump about torture in January.
DAVID MUIR: Mr. President, you told me during one of the debates that you would bring back waterboarding
DAVID MUIR: and a hell of a lot worse, in your words.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I would dowhat I would doI want to keep our country safe. I want to keep our country safe.
DAVID MUIR: What does that mean?
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: When they're shootingwhen they're chopping off the heads of our people and other people, when they're chopping off the heads of people because they happen to be a Christian in the Middle East, when ISIS is doing things that nobody has ever heard of since medieval times, would I feel strongly about waterboarding? As far as I'm concerned, we have to fight fire with fire. ...
I have spoken, as recently as 24 hours ago, with people at the highest level of intelligence, and I asked them the question: Does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was: "Yes, absolutely."
AMY GOODMAN: So, that was President Trump speaking to ABC's David Muir in January. The Freedom of the Press Foundation is now calling for whistleblowers within the Trump administration to contact the press before the Senate torture report is potentially lost forever. The group tweeted, quote, "If you work for the Trump administration and your conscience compels you to blow the whistle, you can use @SecureDrop to contact the press."
Well, for more, we're joinedcontinuing to be joined by Shayana Kadidal, the senior managing editorsenior managing attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. CCR represents two men named as former CIA prisoners in the executive summary of the Senate torture report that was released in 2014. Majid Khan and Guled Hassan Duran are both currently held at Guantánamo. So, Shayana, talk about the significance of what the Trump administration is doing with this report.
SHAYANA KADIDAL: Sure. Well, it's certainly highly significant to individual cases, right? It's useful to go back a little bit and, I guess, remind ourselves what has been released and what we might still be waiting on, right? So, in December 2014, after many years of struggle with the Obama administration over essentially redaction and classification review of the parts of the report, they released the 525-page executive summary, right? Which shows, among other things, that techniques that were applied were much worse than what was revealed in those torture memos under the Bush administration, right? That it was applied against a lot more people than was previously discussed, and that group of people included at least 26 people who were wrongly suspected of involvement in terrorism, basically, right? Against people who were, quote-unquote, "innocent," right? That itthat the techniques exceeded the legal authorization that was spelled out in those memos, and that, finally, really nothing productive came out of the torture and detention program, right? That there wasn't actionable intelligence that came out of it, and that there wasn't cooperation induced among detainees, right?
And that bottom line is, I think, the most important thing that probably remains to be reinforced by the 6,000-plus pages that haven't been released, that haven't been redacted into unclassified form and released publicly, right? We only know this because of what Senator Feinstein has said, but she says that the remaining portion of the report that Senator Burr is trying to bury, that the agencies are returning, contains a great deal more detail about the ineffectiveness of the program, how it didn't produce useful intelligence like the CIA claimed, and it responds in great detail to the CIA's own defense of the program.
Then, on top of that, we also know from Feinstein's cover letter to the executive summary that there are detailed chapters, essentially, on all of the 119 detainees. So this might be very useful in their individual cases, certainly might be useful in the sentencing proceeding of our client, Majid Khan, who cut a plea and cooperate agreement, and potentially in the habeas corpus case, arguing for his freedom, for Guled Hassan Duran, our other client in the CIA program.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Burr is a longtime critic of the report, which he's described as disreputable and overly critical of the CIA and the Bush, George W. Bush, administration. At one point, he called the report nothing more than, quote, "a footnote in history." So, could you explain why you think the Republicans are so averse to releasing this report and what, you know, we can speculate is in the report that might be particularly critical of them?
SHAYANA KADIDAL: Right, it's the million-dollar question, right? I mean, this is a, you know, 6,000-plus-page footnote. It was the product of five years of intensive labor by Senate staffers. The Senate Intelligence Committee voted almost unanimously to conduct the inquiry, 14 to one, in 2005, when the whole thing got started, right? So, it's really mysterious, you know, why they want to bury it. And I think the only clue that we really have to it is what Feinstein has said about what's in there, which is precisely that it undercuts the CIA's argument that the program was somehow effective in producing intelligence, in disrupting active terrorist threats and helping find Osama bin Laden.
And, you know, obviously, with the Republican president out there extolling the virtues of torture once again, in a way that would have seemed remarkable during the 2008 campaign, when both John McCain and Senator Obama were saying that we needed to kind of move on from it, it's, I think, pretty clear that this isthis is simply a partisan attempt to make sure that the public isn't exposed to the idea that torture doesn't work, right? Which polling data, remarkably, shows most people haven't even heard that, that statement. They haven't heard that argument.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Is there any chance, do you think, given this opposition, that the report may eventually be released, or is it now a foregone conclusion that it won't?
SHAYANA KADIDAL: Well, so, no. There are four copies that are apparently being returned, all from intelligence agencies, basicallythe FBI, two copies from the CIA and the director of national intelligence's copy. But there are three copies that are still out there, outside of the Senate's copies, right? One is with President Obama's National Archives presidential records. That can't be released, by law, I think, until 2028. But that one's safe for now. Then there are two others that are being held pursuant to court preservation orders, because they might be important to cases, one from the military commissions and one from the habeas cases. So those will still be out there. But, you know, it's obviously very difficult to get any record like this declassified. It took four years just to get that executive summary out under President Obama. So, it's a long, long struggle. And, you know, I think one key point that you mentioned at the outset is, we want the agencies to read this, so that they learn from it and so that it never happens again.
AMY GOODMAN: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tweeted, "Trump, threatened by #resistance-CIA alliance, gives CIA concessions from prosecuting WikiLeaks to hiding torture." Your response?
SHAYANA KADIDAL: Well, I don't think, you know, Trump needed to make concessions. You know, his statements about torture seem sort of crazy when we think back to the bipartisan consensus against it at earlier times. But, you know, he may be crazy like a fox here. The polling data, since the middle of the Bush administration, shows consistently two things: one, that the public is unfamiliar with the idea that torture doesn't work, and, second, that evangelicals strongly support torture, not because they think it works, but because they think it's justified punishment. And there, when you understand that, you understand the kind of evil genius of Trump's campaign statement, that, sure, it works, and even if it doesn't work, they deserved it anyway.

28 MAY 2017

The United States of insanity

Trump's America may seem like a cruel new psychology experiment but US society has been sick for quite some time.

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[Image: 32cb68752fa64326a1b9692f57efc3cb_18.jpg]Trump's comportment endows him with an aura of dangerousness, but his presidential predecessors weren't exactly racking up points in the empathy department, writes Fernandez [Lamarque/Reuters][Image: 20121017145330240734_9.jpg]


Belen Fernandez

[Image: TwitterSmallIcon.gif]@MariaBelen_Fdez
Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.
Since the ascent to power of US President Donald Trump, two discussion topics have become increasingly popular: whether or not the man is insane and whether or not it's appropriate to talk about whether or not the man is insane.
While many psychiatrists, mental health workers and media figures have abided by the idea that it is unethical to publicly debate the head of state's mental soundness, others view the taboo as reckless.
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[TD][FONT=Georgia !important]FAULT LINES: State of Denial (24:38)


In an interview with The Independent, for example, Yale University's Dr Bandy Lee cited Trump's "taunting of North Korea" and spontaneous bombing of Syria as indications that his "instability, unpredictability and impulsivity … point to dangerousness due to mental impairment."
In February, The New York Times ran a letter to the editor signed by 35 mental health professionals concerned that Trump's "words and behaviour suggest a profound inability to empathise".
Such traits, the authors note, cause people to "distort reality to suit their psychological state, attacking facts and those who convey them".
This diagnosis would appear to be pretty spot-on, as anyone can tell from a quick glance at the president's Twitter account.
But while Trump's unregulated comportment tends to endow him with an aura of singularly unhinged dangerousness, it's worth recalling that his presidential predecessors weren't exactly racking up any points in the empathy department.
OPINION: Obama's 'kill list'
Barack Obama's secret "kill list" comes to mind, as do George W Bush's gleeful escapades in Afghanistan and Iraq, Bill Clinton's bombing of the former Yugoslavia, George H W Bush's barbaric invasion of Panama, and every other form of US-backed slaughter and global plunder that have characterised imperial policy from the get-go.
Call it bipartisan insanity, a pre-existing condition that constitutes one of the very foundations of the US political establishment.

Super-sized symptom

Indeed, although many residents of Trump's America may fear themselves the subject of a cruel new psychology experiment, the fact is that US society has been sick for quite some time - with Trump merely constituting the latest - and super-sized - symptom of this psychological malaise.
For starters, the unrelenting capitalism to which the US is wedded is anything but conducive to collective mental stability, entailing as it does a vicious pursuit of profit at the expense of human wellbeing.
OPINION: Breeding mental illness in the US
Tied up in the capitalist approach is an emphasis on individual success that inevitably erodes communal bonds, which of course further deteriorate in accordance with the ongoing technological onslaught.
The permeation of existence with attention-obliterating electronic devices results in a situation in which physical human interaction - by most accounts a prerequisite for mental soundness - is increasingly replaced by interaction between oneself and one's mobile phone screen.
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[TD]There's no time like the present to dismantle the enduring stigma attached to discussions of mental illness in order to more profoundly consider the current president in historico-psychological context.

It's hardly far-fetched to speculate that, in a profit-driven age of institutionalised distraction, empathy might find itself in rather short supply. This means, once again, that it's not only Trump who may be suffering from "a profound inability to empathise", though he's certainly better equipped to act on it.

Mental tolls

As part of an evolving backdrop of popular alienation from reality, empathy voids are no doubt catchy music to the ears of those in the business of dropping bombs and engaging in other forms of high-level sociopathic behaviour.
For an example of the latter category, recall the time a certain prominent US politician argued that the "price" of killing half a million Iraqi children via sanctions for achieving US policy objectives was "worth it" (hint: it wasn't Donald Trump).
And while the health of the American defence industry is generally treated as a national priority, the same can't be said for the health of sectors of the domestic population, which alternately assume the position of collateral casualty or de facto enemy in the government's various wars on black people, poor people, immigrants, healthcare, and so forth.
For many Americans, having to contend with such antagonisms - not to mention the common predicament of being saddled with eternal debt in exchange for education and other services - can take a considerable mental toll.
In my own experience as a US citizen born and raised in the country, I find it curious, to say the least, that out of the 60-plus nations I've since travelled and resided in, the homeland is the only place I've ever experienced acute panic attacks - some of them lasting several months.

Downright crazy?

Lest we despair, a thriving American pharmaceutical industry is ever on hand to ensure that egregious over-prescription remains the name of the game and that everything that can be pathologised will be - except, of course, the sociopolitical context fuelling psychological and other maladies and guaranteeing their profitable exploitation.
Now, with the advent of Trump - who feels no need to even pretend to disguise his war on reality behind pseudo-civilised discourse - an already depressing situation has become more overtly so.
OPINION: Donald Trump, demagoguery and attractive illusions
Each new outburst against Mexicans, Muslims, "so-called" judges and the other nemeses that populate the presidential tweets is liable to make even those folks most mentally secure in their existence begin to fear a descent into insanity.
It seems, then, that there's no time like the present to dismantle the enduring stigma attached to discussions of mental illness in order to more profoundly consider the current president in historico-psychological context.
Because to ignore the bigger picture would be downright crazy.
Hedges starts at min. 5 - great talk, and one most don't want to hear or face......

Listening to Hedges now. He dates the death of the republic to the pardoning of Nixon. I wonder if he really thinks the coup was not the murder of JFK.