Friday, December 23, 2016

The Impact of "Fake News" Summed Up Nicely

This article says what needs to be said:

http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-reasons-fake-news-killed-facts-in-2016/


Key excerpt:

And the weirdest part is that all these observations are somehow considered a partisan bias. There are people who will read this and conclude that I'm just some "butthurt libertard/cuckservative who can't get over Pepe Trump's victory." But I don't give a wheeling turd about Hillary or Ted or Jeb. I'm a professional fucking news researcher who observed a president-elect use xenophobia and bullying to gain media traction, lie pathologically to the American people, joke in private about sexual assault, incite harassment against private citizens, get put into power through piles of bipartisan evidence of influence from Russia (after he publicly asked them to hack America), and already begin to muck our relationship with China -- possibly leading to hostile actions.


Read it all and be enlightened.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Radical Religious Right Kicks Its Anti-Gay Hate Campaign Into High Gear

This is simply sickening and enraging. The ugliest and most vicious anti-LGBTQ bill in history is being pushed by low-life scum Ted Cruz and his fellow barbarians. Read about it here:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/11/16/the-gop-s-anti-lgbt-anti-women-religious-freedom-law-on-steroids.html

WE. HAVE. TO. FIGHT. BACK. 

We are facing a radical Right-wing coup. From North Carolina stripping a newly elected Democratic governor of his authority to Scott Walker in Wisconsin disenfranchising tens of thousands of Democratic voters to Mitch McConnell choking the investigation into Russia's role in making Trump president, we are under attack from all sides.

THIS. HAS. TO. STOP.

PERIOD.


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Something MUST Be Done

This is absolutely EXPLOSIVE. From NBC:

U.S. Officials: Putin Personally Involved in U.S. Election Hack

Here is the link:

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/u-s-officials-putin-personally-involved-u-s-election-hack-n696146


Excerpt:


U.S. intelligence officials now believe with "a high level of confidence" that Russian President Vladimir Putin became personally involved in the covert Russian campaign to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News.
Two senior officials with direct access to the information say new intelligence shows that Putin personally directed how hacked material from Democrats was leaked and otherwise used. The intelligence came from diplomatic sources and spies working for U.S. allies, the officials said.
Putin's objectives were multifaceted, a high-level intelligence source told NBC News. What began as a "vendetta" against Hillary Clinton morphed into an effort to show corruption in American politics and to "split off key American allies by creating the image that [other countries] couldn't depend on the U.S. to be a credible global leader anymore," the official said...
Ultimately, the CIA has assessed, the Russian government wanted to elect Donald Trump. The FBI and other agencies don't fully endorse that view, but few officials would dispute that the Russian operation was intended to harm Clinton's candidacy by leaking embarrassing emails about Democrats.
The latest intelligence said to show Putin's involvement goes much further than the information the U.S. was relying on in October, when all 17 intelligence agencies signed onto a statement attributing the Democratic National Committee hack to Russia.
The statement said officials believed that "only Russia's senior-most officials could have authorized these activities." That was an intelligence judgment based on an understanding of the Russian system of government, which Putin controls with absolute authority.
Now the U.S has solid information tying Putin to the operation, the intelligence officials say. Their use of the term "high confidence" implies that the intelligence is nearly incontrovertible. [End excerpt]



My question:

WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO ABOUT THIS?






Monday, December 12, 2016

A Must-Read from Charles Pierce

Now THIS says what needs to be said. Read it here:


http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a51430/russia-election/


Excerpt:

And the fact remains that the embryonic Trump administration is lousy with Russian connections, right up to the oil baron who is expected to be nominated as secretary of state. (Did you know that Paul Manafort lives in Trump Tower? I didn't.) The fact remains that the president-elect was noticeably touchy about his relationship with Vladimir Putin throughout the campaign. ("No puppet. You're the puppet." A legendary moment in American political rhetoric.)The fact remains that Putin is an authoritarian thug with no qualms at all about getting what he wants when he wants it, and the fact remains that Russian international ambitions do not change whether the government is Tsarist, Communist, or oligarchy.
The fact remains that we do not know fck-all about those to whom the president-elect owes money. The fact remains that, in October, the director of national intelligence accused the Russian government of hacking political organizations in this country. The fact remains that, less than a month ago, the director of the National Security Agency said pretty much the same thing, on the record, as the Post story reports that the CIA believes. Many facts remain. Many, many facts remain.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Just to Keep You Up to Date

From Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections:

Hillary Clinton:  65,737,061, 48.07%
Donald Trump    62,896,705  46.00% 

Among post-World War II candidates, Trump's 46% in "victory" is less than Romney (47.15%), Kerry (48.26%) Gore (48.38%), Ford (48.01%), and Nixon (49.55%) in defeat. It is just barely better than Dukakis (45.65%) and Dewey (45.07%) in their defeats.

Oh, and Trump's electoral vote victory is in the bottom QUARTER of ALL elections in U.S. history.

Remember that whenever Trump starts bragging about his "landslide" victory. You see--he's lying.

Again.



A Storm of Tweets for You

Located RIGHT HERE:

https://storify.com/NotEasyBNGreen/real-peotus-vs-trump

This CANNOT be ignored. Period.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

HUGE Things Are Happening. And No, I Am Not Exaggerating

Read this post and be sure to follow the links in it. It's right here:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2016/12/10/the-maskirovka-slips-viii-my-real-fear/


This is exponentially bigger than the Watergate scandal. This is the biggest political scandal of my lifetime. 


AND FOX "NEWS" AND RIGHT-WING HATE RADIO CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO BURY IT!

Friday, December 9, 2016

I Am Truly at a Loss for Words

I just don't know what to say any more. I'm 64 years old. I've NEVER encountered anything like this in my life.

Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/obama-orders-review-of-russian-hacking-during-presidential-campaign/2016/12/09/31d6b300-be2a-11e6-94ac-3d324840106c_story.html?utm_term=.dd14778fbdf7

Shocking excerpts:

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.” [End excerpt]
WHY IS THIS NOT BEING THUNDERED ACROSS THE COUNTRY?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Nominee for Head of the EPA is Viciously Anti-EPA

See the grim story here:

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/12/7/1608402/-Today-in-Trump-appointments-Trump-taps-virulently-anti-EPA-Scott-Pruitt-as-EPA-chief

Sickening excerpts:

With hundreds of important administration appointments still percolating under Trump’s hairpiece, you might be feeling the need to conserve your outrage. You needn't bother. Short of appointing stuffed animals or corporate logos to cabinet posts, there’s no way the picks are going to any get worse than the choice of virulently anti-EPA Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head, yes, the Environmental Protection agency.
To say he's in the pocket of America's most polluting companies is an understatement. He was quite literally caught copying industry-written letters onto his own stationery and sending them to other government agencies as the opinions of his own office.
He's a crook, in other words. In exchange for pushing industry-written legal arguments as his own, he and other coordinating Republican attorney generals got, at last count, $16 million from those companies for their political campaigns. It's even fair to say that he only got on Trump's radar due to the ample financial padding provided by those firms.
Lobbyists and company officials have been notably solicitous, helping him raise his profile as president for two years of the Republican Attorneys General Association, a post he used to help start what he and allies called the Rule of Law campaign, which was intended to push back against Washington.
What does it profit a man to outsource his public duties to energy industry lawyers who will write up their preferred stance on issues for him to send out? It profits him plenty. We'll also be putting him near the top of the list of people who might end up facing indictments in the next two years. [End excerpt]

And I'd like to personally thank all those Green Party voters in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin who said there was no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.




Monday, December 5, 2016

Tell Me I Shouldn't Be Disgusted. Go Ahead. Tell Me.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michael-slager-black-lives-matter_us_58420019e4b017f37fe4c266

EXCERPT:
In the police footage, Slager walks back to the squad car with Scott’s license in hand as Scott and his passenger wait for the officer to return. Scott tries to get out of his car, but Slager orders him to get back in. A few seconds later, Scott opens the door and runs away. Slager pursues Scott on foot.
A cell phone video, recorded by bystander Feidin Santana, picks up where the dash camera left off.
In Santana’s video, Scott is running away from Slager as the officer fires eight rounds, striking Scott five times. Scott died from gunshot wounds to the back.
Slager said during his trial that he felt “total fear” as Scott charged toward him. He also claimed that Scott had grabbed his Taser and intended to fire it. “I see him with a Taser in his hand as I see him spinning around,” Slager said. “That’s the only thing I see: that Taser in his hand.”
In fact, the video evidence does not show Scott with a Taser when he is killed ― it shows Slager dropping a Taser near Scott’s body after he is shot.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Government by the Worst People Rolls On

This is just sickening, and it gives the lie to the notion that Trump gives a damn about ordinary working people. Today's worst human being is named Wilbur Ross. You can read about him here:

https://www.thenation.com/article/12-coal-miners-died-on-this-mans-watch-in-2006-now-trump-wants-to-make-him-commerce-secretary/

Excerpt:

Ross made his money collecting “distressed assets”—failing steel and textile mills in the Midwest and South, and coal mines in Appalachia. Dubbed the “the King of Bankruptcy,” Ross cut jobs, wages, pensions, and health benefits at the companies he acquired, and reaped the profits. In the early 2000s, Ross’s foray into the steel industry netted him a $267 million personal windfall, but stripped health-care benefits from more than 150,000 retired steelworkers. Then he moved on to the coal industry, at one point controlling as much as $1.2 billion in coal assets through his company, the International Coal Group.

One of ICG’s acquisitions in West Virginia was the Sago Mine, about 100 miles east of Charleston. The mine, a non-union operation, racked up a slew of safety violations from federal inspectors—more than 208 in 2005 alone. That year, the roof of the mine collapsed 20 times. Workers at Sago were injured three times as often as workers in similar mines elsewhere. Though Ross claimed not to be part of operating management at Sago, he admitted later that he was aware of the violations, and waved them away.

Congratulations, West Virginia and Kentucky! This is what you voted for.

Monday, November 28, 2016

There is No Lie These People Will NOT Tell.

Let me say this as clearly as possible:

The assertion that 3,000,000 illegals voted for Clinton is a DAMNED LIE. Trump and the radical Right Wing media are LYING about this. They will lie about ANYTHING. Period.

Are we clear?

Please see this article on the subject:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-illegal-voters-rumor_us_583c6b62e4b000af95ef15cc

Friday, November 25, 2016

This is What We Are Facing

Every day seems to bring some new outrage to my attention. This one is simply sickening. This outrage concerns Richard Spencer, darling of Steve Bannon's Breitbart:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/21/meet_the_neo_nazi_steve_bannon_s_site_described_as_a_leading_intellectual.html

This is a man that Bannon thinks is just swell. From a recent conference in Washington, D.C. Excerpt:

He railed against Jews and, with a smile, quoted Nazi propaganda in the original German. America, he said, belonged to white people, whom he called the “children of the sun,” a race of conquerors and creators who had been marginalized but now, in the era of President-elect Donald J. Trump, were “awakening to their own identity.”
As he finished, several audience members had their arms outstretched in a Nazi salute. When Mr. Spencer, or perhaps another person standing near him at the front of the room — it was not clear who — shouted, “Heil the people! Heil victory,” the room shouted it back.
And more:
At the conference on Saturday, Mr. Spencer, who said he had coined the term, defined the alt-right as a movement with white identity as its core idea.
And more:
Mr. Spencer’s after-dinner speech began with a polemic against the “mainstream media,” before he briefly paused. “Perhaps we should refer to them in the original German?” he said.
The audience immediately screamed back, “L├╝genpresse,” reviving a Nazi-era word that means “lying press.”
Mr. Spencer suggested that the news media had been critical of Mr. Trump throughout the campaign in order to protect Jewish interests. He mused about the political commentators who gave Mr. Trump little chance of winning.
“One wonders if these people are people at all, or instead soulless golem,” he said, referring to a Jewish fable about the golem, a clay giant that a rabbi brings to life to protect the Jews.
Mr. Trump’s election, Mr. Spencer said, was “the victory of will,” a phrase that echoed the title of the most famous Nazi-era propaganda film. But Mr. Spencer then mentioned, with a smile, Theodor Herzl, the Zionist leader who advocated a Jewish homeland in Israel, quoting his famous pronouncement, “If we will it, it is no dream.”

I have seldom been so disheartened.

You Need to Know This: Vitally Important News

The flood of Russian fake news on behalf of Trump was truly staggering. The Chicago Tribune has the story here:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/politics/ct-russian-propaganda-fake-news-election-experts-20161124-story.html

Some key passages:

PropOrNot's monitoring report, which was provided to The Washington Post in advance of its public release, identifies more than 200 websites as routine peddlers of Russian propaganda during the election season, with combined audiences of at least 15 million Americans. On Facebook, PropOrNot estimates that stories planted or promoted by the disinformation campaign were viewed more than 213 million times...

The final weeks of the campaign featured a heavy dose of stories about supposed election irregularities, allegations of vote-rigging and the potential for Election Day violence should Clinton win, researchers said.
"The way that this propaganda apparatus supported Trump was equivalent to some massive amount of a media buy," said the executive director of PropOrNot, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being targeted by Russia's legions of skilled hackers. "It was like Russia was running a super PAC for Trump's campaign. . . . It worked."
He and other researchers expressed concern that the U.S. government has few tools for detecting or combating foreign propaganda. They expressed hope that their research detailing the power of Russian propaganda would spur official action.
A former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, said he was struck by the overt support that RT and Sputnik expressed for Trump during the campaign, even using the #CrookedHillary hashtag pushed by the candidate.
McFaul said Russian propaganda typically is aimed at weakening opponents and critics. Trump's victory, though reportedly celebrated by Putin and his allies in Moscow, may have been an unexpected benefit of an operation that already had fueled division in the United States. "They don't try to win the argument," said McFaul, now director of the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University. "It's to make everything seem relative. It's kind of an appeal to cynicism."

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Can You Understand Why I Go Crazy Sometimes?

THIS is enough to make any decent person outraged. The author of this article is Jewish, and the comments made to her after her participation in the Standing Rock protests were very real :

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-filthy-jewess-is-done-with-alt-right-bullshit_us_5835b6cfe4b0c2ab94436657

Some of the delightful comments she received:

“The ugly kike Erin Schrode from Marin County hilariously got shot by a rubber bullet as she was making trouble on the behalf of the low-IQ redskins in North Dakota.”
“I’m just sad the bullets were rubber, like the world needs another Talmudic anti human psychopath.”
“Bullets don’t work on these rodents. Try Zyklon B.” Zyklon B is the toxic gas which Nazis used to kill Jews en masse in concentration and extermination camps throughout Germany.
“You were shot because you are a filthy kike. It’s obvious. Maybe, anuddah shoah just has begun.” I was born Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I identify as Jewish. In the eyes of neo-Nazis, that is reason enough to mount a relentless campaign. My being shot at Standing Rock spurred a new wave of evil, which I only learned of when an email with the subject line “you got shot! lol” appeared in my personal inbox. “Dumb parasite jew. Hilarious!” it read, with a link to a chatroom boasting hundreds more despicable comments and bastardized images.

Some Surprising Statistics for You

A. Hillary Clinton now leads the popular vote by MORE than 2,000,000. Trump is down to 46.7% of the vote, a percentage in "victory" LOWER than Mitt Romney's in defeat.


B. The counties that voted for Clinton represent TWO-THIRDS of the GDP of the United States of America. Here it is in graphic form. (Click to enlarge.)




Monday, November 21, 2016

A Deeply Ironic Fact

President Obama made it possible for millions of workers making less than $47,000 a year to get time and a half pay for overtime. Trump and the Republican congress may reverse the rules that made that happen. The story is here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/obama-expanded-overtime-pay-for-millions-of-workers-trump-could-take-it-away_us_58334ba0e4b058ce7aac5ee5?

The thing that's so ironic is this: a lot of Trump voters benefit from this rule. So they just voted to screw themselves. These same voters usually hate Barack Obama, who helped them out.

No, I do not understand how these people "think".

FAVORITE COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE:

Reality: "Trump is going to cut your Social Security, health care, government services, put toll roads everywhere, take away your overtime pay, turn women into breeding sows by attacking family planning and the right to choose, roll back civil rights by 65 years, create an oligarchy, eliminate environmental laws that have cleaned up air and water, accelerate climate change, remove consumer and workplace protections, cut banking regulations, kill the concept of protected areas by opening up all federal land (including national parks) to greed, lay siege to the First Amendment, attack the press, infringe upon religious freedom and fracture America right up the middle of every single possible dividing line you can think of. All while using the White House to attack his enemies and personally enrich himself and his friends in a continuation of what are already egregious conflicts of interest."

Trump voter: "But...but...emails!!"

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Who's Gonna Win and Who's Gonna Lose in Trump's Tax Plans

The awful details are here:

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/20/1600706/-Trump-s-forgotten-Americans-will-get-lower-taxes-on-the-rich-and-higher-income-inequality

Here's a highly relevant chart. (Click to enlarge.)



Let's just say that a lot of the people who voted for Trump have been played for suckers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

How the People Who Know Trump Best Voted

NEW YORK CITY VOTE FOR PRESIDENT:

Clinton    1,969,920   78.6%
Trump         461,172   18.4%
Others           75,518     3.0%

Friday, November 18, 2016

Estimated Final 2016 Popular Vote, and a Question for People

FINAL CLINTON VOTE (ESTIMATED)
65,084,694
FINAL TRUMP VOTE (ESTIMATED)
63,015,219
FINAL MARGIN (ESTIMATED)
2,069,474
Sources:
2016 National Popular Vote Tracker
United States Election Project

May I ask something? If the situation were reversed, and it was Trump who was going to win the PV by 2 million while losing the EV 306-232, how do you think a lot of his followers would react?

An Urgently Important Article You Need to See

It's about the most dangerous political threat in the world today: the unholy alliance between the so-called "Alt Right" and Russia. Please friends--give this a look.

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/11/18/1601406/-Everything-You-Need-to-Know-About-Steve-Bannon-Breitbart-Russia#comment_64473420

I'm simply at a loss for words about all this. The potential for disaster here is limitless.

The Looming Potential Disaster of a Broken Iran Agreement

With his typical reckless stupidity, Donald Trump is pledging to destroy the Iran nuclear deal. Here's a discussion of why that's a spectacularly bad idea:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/17/what_happens_if_trump_blows_up_the_iran_deal.html

Key passage:

One option would be for the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress to continually pass sanctions on Iran until it withdraws from the treaty. The House is already passing bills doing just that this week. Another possibility would be for the U.S. to trigger the “snapback” mechanism contained in the treaty, which allows any of the countries that negotiated the deal to cancel it within 30 days, without a vote by the United Nations Security Council, if they flag a violation. (An ongoing dispute between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran over stockpiles of heavy water could be used as a pretext.) This would result in the U.N. sanctions that were in place prior to the deal to be legally re-imposed, though it’s unlikely that China and Russia would actually enforce them. This would almost certainly cause Iran to pull out of the deal entirely, this time with a lot more sympathy from the international community.

If the unity of the countries that negotiated the deal falls apart, “all of the safeguards that the IAEA has put in place under the deal will go away,” says Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear nonproliferation at Middlebury College and founder of the Arms Control Wonk blog. “The IAEA access will drop, and they will say that they are no longer in a position to verify the peaceful nature of Iran’s program. They just won’t have the access. You could end up with a situation in which there are no sanctions, and we have no idea whether they’re building a bomb or not. And by the time we figure it out, it might be too late.”

I can only repeat my initial assessment of Trump's election:

We're screwed.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Shocking Revelation About the Trump Campaign and Megyn Kelly

In this article here:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/11/17/megyn_kelly_trump_s_lawyer_threatened_me_seemed_ok_with_me_getting_physically.html

Key excerpt:

The Trump campaign stoked the flames of the Kelly hate, the Fox News host told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in an interview on Wednesday, to the point that one of the top executives at Fox News had to explain to one of Trump’s top employees why if she “gets killed” it might be bad for their campaign.
“Michael Cohen, who is Trump's top lawyer and executive vice president with the Trump Organization had retweeted ‘let’s gut her,’ about me,” Kelly said. “At a time when the threat level was very high, which he knew. And Bill Shine, an executive vice president of Fox, called him up to say, 'You got to stop this. We understand you are angry but she's got three kids and is walking around New York.' ”
“And he didn't much care,” Kelly continued. “And what Bill Shine said to Michael Cohen was, ‘Let me put it to you in terms you can understand: If Megyn Kelly gets killed it is not going help your candidate.’ ”
Let me put this in terms you can understand. Cohen took to Twitter to call Kelly a liar and retweet people calling her a “snake” and a “psycho.”

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Shooting Down Misperceptions About the 2016 Election

This article located here: http://electionado.com/canvas/1479173071893  is very useful, and it helps explain how Hillary Clinton got sabotaged. It also explains why Bernie Sanders isn't being realistic about what drew voters to Trump.

Monday, June 27, 2016

On Depression and Taking Action to Achieve a New Life

One of the things I have come to hold in contempt is what might be called the "Confessional Subculture", those people who feel it necessary to share every lurid detail of their private lives with strangers. I sometimes think of it as "The Daytime TV Syndrome". ("Yes, Oprah, I'm into blow-up dolls. You don't know what a BURDEN has just been lifted off me by finally saying this in public." Cue teary-eyed audience members. Oprah: "I'm really not surprised to hear it.") So it is with some misgivings that I tell you what I'm going to tell you.  I have suffered from chronic depression since I was in my late teens, depression that has sometimes hit suicidal intensity. In addition to that, I also developed a really nasty case of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and that has waxed and waned throughout my life. Why am I telling you this? Because I have the sneaking suspicion that more than a few of you are in the same situation and I'd like to share some ideas about how we can climb out of this awful hole we find ourselves in, and maybe help some other people out. For those of who you are not down in the hole, I wanted to try to explain what it's like, and give you some ideas about how best to deal with those of us who live in the gray land of depression and OCD.

And I have an ulterior motive for doing this as well: I'm hoping that if I tell all this to you, that I can re-learn and apply it to myself.

Right off the bat, I must say this: I AM NOT LOOKING FOR PITY OR SYMPATHY. I know you care about me, as I care about you, but this is not me saying, "Oh poor me! Don't you feel BAD for me?" I don't want any of that, OK? All I hope is that you at least hear me out.

First of all, depression needs to be defined. It is a type of conscious state, one exacerbated by myriad subconscious factors. Depression is a pervasive pessimism that colors a human's perception, a sense of utter and complete hopelessness, often accompanied by intense self-loathing. It is not—it is not—necessarily connected to any particular external event. The depressed person quite often comes to believe that nothing, quite literally nothing, is really worth much effort, or any effort at all. A depressed person often comes to believe that nothing will turn out well, that everything in one's life is headed for disaster or at the very least failure. Depression is the sense that everything is futile, and, most tragically, that one doesn't deserve anything from life. It is these attitudes that make depression so difficult to claw one's way out of.

Causes of Depression

The origins of depression appear to be complex. There may be a genetic predisposition to it. Since all human behaviors are the result of genetic factors interacting with cultural factors and life events in an ever-changing mosaic, a genetic predisposition to depression can darken one's perception of the world in general, and depression can lead to vicious cycles wherein no positive action to counter it is taken because the depressed person has already discounted the efficacy of the action. If a person believes nothing can be done, nothing will be done, thereby perpetuating the very factors that are making one depressed. Depression can also spring from repeated disappointments, seeing one's hopes dashed again and again. (Here also a vicious cycle can be established: if I think my hopes will not be realized, I may not take the action required to succeed, thereby increasing the likelihood of failure.) An unhappy family life, especially caused by parents who instill in their children the belief that the world is terrible, can trigger depressive tendencies. Further, depression can be the result of trauma, especially trauma suffered in childhood. Sexual, physical, and/or mental abuse can so assault the well-being of the Self as to convince one that the world is an irredeemably threatening and terrifying place. The horrific memories of this abuse can cling to a person every day, destroying all hopes that life can be something other than the sum of our suffering. And sometimes physical conditions such as chronic or recurring pain, or repeated episodes of serious illness, can plunge an individual into despair. In short, depression seems to spring from many causes. But its effects on those who have it are the same: a life that is less than it could be.

Going deeper into the issue, our present mental state is the result of a long series of events, many of which we have forgotten about, but the impact of which is still being felt at some level. The Self, or ego if you prefer that term, reacts to the world starting in infancy. Then the Self or ego reacts to its own reactions. A chain of reactions to reactions to reactions is established. Certain ways of reacting to the world are deeply impressed on the neuronal configuration of the brain, making it more likely that whenever particular circumstances and/or neurotransmitter balances are present, one will react in a roughly similar way.

And we need to remember something very important: the human brain did not evolve to give us complete understanding of ourselves and others, nor did it evolve to make us happy. The human brain evolved to help us survive. Period. Why? So that we could reproduce our genome and hence fulfill the "goal" of life: make more of itself. The very complexity that makes consciousness possible means that more can go wrong with our brains than those of any other animal. Our brains are a baffling combination of very ancient structures, structures found only in mammals, structures found only in higher-level primates, and structures (such as a highly advanced prefrontal cortex) that are unique to humans. Our brains are remarkable objects, but they are vulnerable in many ways, and they are incredibly difficult to understand. Depression is one of the ways things can go wrong with them. Its persistence in the human race seems to indicate that it doesn't cut down on reproductive fitness enough to be weeded out of our genome. But it has inflicted immeasurable suffering and hardship on countless people through the ages.

Paradoxes and Contradictions of Depression

The depressed person is often stuck in a series of brutal paradoxes and internal contradictions that can make depression extremely difficult to overcome. First of all, chronic loneliness and a sense of having been abandoned by others are frequent manifestations of depression. Yet, depressed people can be very demoralizing and difficult to be around. They can even actively push others away, when it is the very company of others they so desperately need. As I have already noted, depressed people are usually convinced that nothing can help them, so they often get no help, thus establishing a tragic self-fulfilling prophecy. They urgently need to know they are loved, but they very often believe that they are so unworthy of being loved that no one could love them. Thus they tend to discount or disregard even the most sincerely offered expressions of love and support by others. Perhaps most ominously, they very often come to hate themselves for hating themselves. They look at their external circumstances, consider the fact that many others are much worse off than they, and lash themselves mercilessly for daring to feel bad when they have no "objective right" to feel bad. They may call themselves spoiled, immature, ungrateful, childish, and any other number of self-denigrating terms. This can set up a terrible spiral wherein the depressed person's hatred of themselves for hating themselves becomes self-reinforcing. The result of this spiral can be a tragic one.

In general, therefore, the pessimism and hopelessness engendered by depression can come to be a sort of emotional paralysis. A depressed person's reasoning often goes like this: There is nothing I can do. There is no hope that anything will turn out well. All effort is an act of futility. I cannot change myself in any way. It would simply be best if I weren't here at all. It is these lies—and they are lies—that prevent the depressed person from acting to alleviate his or her suffering.

Confronting the Irrational Beliefs of Depression

Although depression can have perfectly explicable origins, it tends to create a false picture of reality (at least as humans perceive it) in those who suffer from it. Let's tackle these distorted perceptions one by one.

1. The world is a place of incessant suffering and grief. This is a form of psychological projection in which many depressed people indulge. Because they are wretched, they see only that which is worst in the world. But in all reality, this picture is very badly skewed. Do you know what the day-to-day world actually is? Ordinary. Mundane in the extreme. Regular. Routine. The vast majority of the human race goes through the day doing ordinary things in an ordinary way, occupying a sort of psychological middle ground between joy and grief. It's really not as bad as many people think. There is genuine cause for optimism, and I'm not just saying this to try to "cheer anybody up". I can back these statements up statistically. War has become less frequent and destructive. Education is more widespread than ever. Mass starvation has greatly decreased in frequency. Medical science has made immense strides. The march of political freedom has touched many millions of lives. There are many happy families. Personal rights have greatly expanded, as have personal opportunities. What needs to be abandoned is the longing for some idealized past in which everything was great. No such time existed. In many ways, the best time to be alive is right now, not the so-called "Good Old Days". This is not to say we don't face towering challenges and complex problems. Obviously we do. But there is no rational basis for believing the world is, to borrow a phrase, "a meaningless nightmare of suffering". In all truth, that simply isn't the case, and to believe so is to embrace an outright falsehood.

2.  Everyone is happier than I am, everyone is having a better time than I am. In a way this is the inverse of the above distorted belief. A depressed person can actually believe both, even though they are contradictory. No, everyone is not having a better time. No, everyone is not happier than you. Those statements are stark, simple truths. For example, depressed single adults may have long periods where they are without a sexual partner. They may simply assume that everyone is having regular sex except them. The absurdity of such a view should be apparent. Depressed people often see the lives of others in such a distorted manner. This is a particularly pernicious form of self-pity, and it's a way of stripping other people of their humanity. We dehumanize others when we see them as caricatures or cartoon figures. To imagine that everyone else, every one of them a complicated person, is enjoying the world is to dehumanize them in a very real way.  They don't have problems. Only I have problems. I am unique in my isolation or sorrow. This is an idea that depressed people must abandon.

3.  The world is so big there is nothing I can do to change it for the better. In fact, the very idea that one can make a contribution is often met with scorn and derision by depressed people. Even though the world is not as bad as one imagines it, there is, admittedly, a great deal of suffering and injustice in it. If we were to know all of the bad things that are happening right now, we would be overwhelmed. What can one person do? It is this sense of helplessness that prevents the depressed person from trying to do anything. We sometimes forget that change is an emergent feature of reality, arising out of the ferment and tumult of individuals acting together, tackling problems in groups, pooling their knowledge and resources, and magnifying their efforts by combining them with the efforts of others. One person, acting alone, can do very little. Millions, acting in concert, can change the world.

Moreover, depressed people often overlook a simple fact: changing the world for the better is often done one life at a time. A small act of kindness can reverberate in someone's life for years. Being there when someone needs you is sometimes the greatest contribution one can make. Doing one's job well can be more meaningful than some abstract notion of turning the bad old world around 180 degrees all at once. Every act of forgiveness, genuine atonement, simple courtesy, simple kindness, simple decency makes the world better in a small but very real way. Depressed people often forget that. They shouldn't.

4. Anyone who is happy is a fool. Depressed people understand the world better than others. Really? All happy people are fools? Preposterous and utterly wrong, not to say insulting and dehumanizing of others. Happy people aren't living carefree lives devoid of hardship. They deal with these hardships in a positive way, and look at life in its fullness, not in the most narrowly pessimistic manner. They're not fools; they're people to be celebrated (as long as their happiness doesn't derive from making others miserable). And depressed people understand reality better? I would argue precisely the opposite is the case. A naive, "This is the best of all possible worlds" outlook is unrealistic. But a "This is the worst of all possible worlds" outlook is equally so.

5.  Being mad is better than being sad. I am a rageaholic. I admit it. I am angry, I mean really angry so much of the time. Know what I figured out? That a lot of anger is simply sublimated grief and sorrow. Being angry gives us the illusion that we are in control, that we are not passive victims, they we are taking action. None of that is true. Anger just feels better than grief. Anger drives people away. It stresses the body terribly. It does actual damage to one's health. And it basically accomplishes nothing, especially if it is mere solitary venting. It just puts off confronting what's really wrong: personal hopelessness and despair.

6. I should never have existed; no one would miss me if I were gone. These are perhaps the most dangerous irrational beliefs of depressed people. Sometimes you just feel so damned lousy, just so down, that you just wish you had never existed at all. It just wasn't worth it is how you feel at those times. Believe me, I know. That's bad enough. But the idea that no one would miss you is perhaps the worst lie depressed people believe out of all of them. It is the precursor to the most tragic toll depression takes on people: suicide. Over 1,000,000 people kill themselves on this planet every single year. Most of them do so because all hope is gone, and they are convinced no one would be sad to see them go. (I should add that in my belief system the only morally defensible justifications for suicide are to stop severe and untreatable physical suffering and to spare one's family the agonies of witnessing one's terrible and protracted dying.) Killing one's self is one of the most brutal acts against others possible. It will emotionally shatter one's spouse or significant other. It will crush the happiness of children and siblings. It will plunge friends into grief and anger. A 17 year-old kid once killed himself right in the school in which I was teaching. At his wake, it was terrible to see his grieving parents. But what struck me the most was the reaction of his friends. Not only were they crying over him. They were so angry at him for hurting them so badly. How could he do this to me was a common refrain. The suicidal person is not in his or her right mind. I understand that. But you're not just killing yourself when you end your own life abruptly. You're killing part of everyone who ever loved you. And you have no right to do that to them.

Taking Charge

It takes courage to change one's life for the better. It takes real courage to wage war on depression, to refute its ugly lies, to refuse to have one's life darkened by it any longer. I have some ideas that have helped me. If you have depression, they may help you. See what you think.

1.  Physical exercise is key. Exercise does so many good things for the body that I fail to see how any person able to do it does not. Exercise can release endorphins that bring about a sense of well-being. Exercise contributes to general health, self-esteem, resistance to stress, resistance to disease, and so much more. It has literally saved my life several times. It does wonders for fighting depression. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

2. Change the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. In one perspective depression and other such illnesses are the result of disordered brain chemistry. You should look into antidepressants, but I must caution you: they can have very uneven results. I took Prozac for 15 years to combat OCD. It did an excellent job of halting it, but the efficacy of such meds lessens after a time. And getting off of some antidepressants can be harrowing, to say the least. So look into it, but do your homework first. There are alternatives by the way, which I have personally tested:

A. GET RID OF ALCOHOL. This is really hard for a lot of people to do. But alcohol is a depressant. It does grievous harm in so many ways. If you really want to climb out of the hole, stop drinking. I recognize some alcohol ingestion can have benefits to the heart, but in general, the less you drink, the better. Seriously, I'd rather have you smoke or eat marijuana than drink. Alcohol is that bad for depressed people. If you've ever sat drunk and alone at 3 a.m., you know exactly what I mean.

B. GET RID OF REFINED SUGAR. I am a person of Scots and Irish descent. I was raised with such treats as cookies, candy, pastry, cake, pies, you name it. But all of that has to go. All you get from sugar eating is problem after problem. I've found that not eating sugar (or at least very much of it) helps me avoid the insulin-crash of the Sugar Blues.

C. GET RID OF JUNK FOOD AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. Heavy, fatty foods can play havoc with your head and your body chemistry. Breaking down fat makes your body work harder, which makes you tired, which makes you vulnerable. Eat like a sensible adult; it will help tremendously.

D. CONSIDER ALTERNATIVES TO ANTI-DEPRESSANTS. For me, 500 mg of Turmeric in combination with 1400 mg of fish oil has had very positive effects. Others have found St. John's Wort or rosemary to be beneficial. As always, do your homework; see what helps others.

E.  GET RID OF ANTIHISTAMINES. This one might surprise you, but I am in earnest here. I was driven to the depths of absolute despair at one point by taking antihistamines every day. If at all possible. stop taking them. Zyrtec in particular is horrible for me, although your reaction may differ. A lot of depressed people react badly to antihistamines. If you can do without them, I urge you to do so.

3. Make Contact With the Outside World

I hate the human race in general (ha!) but I love my family and friends and I am delighted to greet visitors to my beautiful Kauai. I help with my wife's bracelet business. In doing so I have met people from over 45 foreign countries, all 50 states, and almost every province in Canada. They have overwhelmingly been nice, polite, very agreeable people. You know what? Most people in this world are all right. It's the 5% who are idiots, sociopaths, professional criminals, and just general jackasses that ruin it for everyone else. And that's real.

Do something to help. Volunteer for some cause. Get out and meet people. And for God's sake, stop sitting around and brooding all by yourself. Stop sitting in your little cave, hating yourself and despairing. What have you got to lose?

4.  Get help; give help

If you feel you would benefit from professional counseling and can afford it, it may help you. You should also establish a support group among those you know who are similarly afflicted. Make an agreement that you will call them if you are in trouble and they can call you. Don't just look for help. Be the help sometimes. I think of it as being part of this web of people. They'll spin enough web that if you fall, it will catch you. You do the same for them. You'll get through things together. 

5. Blow Up That Damn Garbage Truck

The Garbage Truck is what one writer calls the sum total of all our bad memories, our mistakes, the bad stuff we may have done, the pain and grief we may have suffered, and the regrets we are plagued by. It follows us around, ready to dump its filth all over us again and again. Well you know what? It's got to go! What are the attitudes we have to take? Again, let reason and rationality be our guides.

Aldous Huxley once put it this way: chronic remorse is the most useless of emotions. Have you behaved badly? Make what amends you can and resolve to do better. What else can you do? As far as mistakes of judgment go, you can't go back in time and alter them. You can only try to rectify their effects and learn from them. I have been driving for over 40 years. Several times in that period I almost managed to get myself killed because of stupid mistakes I made and was 100% at fault for. You know what you do about that? Say, "Well that happened", and resolve to never make those mistakes again. What else can you do?

As far as replaying those bad recordings you have in your head, the ones that contain all the painful and bitter memories: STOP DOING THAT. You must let the neuronal areas of the brain that contain them atrophy and disintegrate. Every time you think of them you STRENGTHEN them. It's like sharpening the very knife that's stabbing you. KILL THEM OFF!! You've experienced  them enough! You have acknowledged their existence already. They are weakening you. They can only drag you into despair.

NOTE TO OCD PEOPLE: Stop unwanted or intrusive thoughts IMMEDIATELY. Do not let them get their claws into you. Do NOT analyze them, especially if they are violent or horrific. That's like throwing gasoline on a fire. STOP THEM NOW! It sounds simplistic, but I know whereof I speak. Trust me. Thought-stopping is an old tried and true technique. Ask any monk who's ever meditated.

By the way, as a teacher, I met kids who had been brutally sexually or psychologically abused. If you were a tormented  kid once, remember this: You are bigger than the people who hurt you now. They no longer have any power over you. Every day you live a good life is a victory over them. They're losers and they do not deserve your forgiveness. You are better than they are, and you will be forever. Period. If one of the people who hurt you was a family member, you no longer owe them your love. And don't you let anyone tell you otherwise.

Learn from the past; stop living in it.

6. Get your sleep in order. This is very important. Chronic fatigue makes you emotionally vulnerable. Try to regularize the hours of your sleep as much as possible. Doing so is one of the best anti-depression moves you can make. A sleep mask to shut out ambient light is an excellent thing to wear.

7.  Other suggestions. Avoid those nasty drugs, like cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, and the like. If you need opioids for pain relief, that's fine, but if you don't, stay away. They're not for entertainment. Ease up on excessive caffeine as well. Re-assess your job situation. I don't care how much money you're making off of it. If it's killing you, it's not worth it. Re-assess your relationships. If you have "friends" who simply like to drag you into the abyss, maybe they're not really friends. Engage your intellect; learn something until the day you die. There's a whole world to learn about out there; it's all at your disposal. Oh, and remember to laugh. Indulge in it frequently. Remember to hug those you love. Indulge in that, too. If you are into meditation or self-hypnosis, do that. If you find peace in prayer and worship, live in those.

If you are VERY serious and you have $$$, you should look into electroshock therapy. It is NOT like you see in old movies. Electroconvulsive therapy can have BIG benefits, but it ain't cheap. Also look into something called Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). I have begun to experiment with this on myself, and while the jury is still out, it looks promising so far. Look it up and see what you think.

And if you are chronically depressed, it might not be the best idea in the world to keep a gun in the house. Over 20,000 Americans kill themselves with guns annually. While other means of suicide do exist, let's be honest: cutting your wrists hurts, a lot, and pills can be vomited up. Shooting one's self is all too effective. Just something to think about.

8. A Note to Friends and Family of Depressives

Your depressed friend or family member does not hate you. Depression is not ordinary, garden variety having the blues. It is a psychological disorder. Those who have it feel bad all the time, to the point where they can hurt physically. It makes them tired and listless. It makes them morose and hard to be around. May I suggest the following:

Don't tell them to cheer up. They can't. They would if they could

Don't be angry with them.

Don't say, "Well, a lot of people are suffering horribly and you're not." That just makes it worse.

Most of all, don't let them push you away. Remember that love is patient; your patience will be needed sorely. And if they ask for help, be unstinting in giving it. You may be saving their lives. They can get better and you can help. Believe me

Conclusion

You do not have to suffer; you do not have to feel sad all the time; you do not always have to be the way you are. Hope is not absurd or silly or pointless, the refuge of weak or unrealistic people. It is a REAL THING THAT REALLY EXISTS. And no, asking for help does not make you a coward or a weakling. It is, rather, a sign of courage and strength. I'm not saying that your life will be all perfect and sunshine and rainbows once you come out of the darkness. There will always be challenges, there will always be problems.

But you know what?

You can handle them.

I'll be here for you, if you'll be there for me.

And you can count on that.