Saturday, March 29, 2008

An irresponsible McCain topped only by Cheney.

I find it incredible that many Americans do not understand that our financial capacity is limited. No matter how productive we are, we will have to eventually balance our books. If your family overspends and is irresponsible about money, you are going to going to bankrupt yourself. We are blindly far along on the way.

Social Security and Medicare will soon run out of money. We have no practical health insurance systems, and millions of our citizens who deserve care, don't get it. Our infrastructure is a mess, with rotting roads and bridges. The air in many of our cities is dangerous. Rural parts of some states resemble a third world country, and nothing has changed there in 50 years. Our educational and health care system are far from the best in the world.

This dismal financial state derives in large part from the incredible past and ongoing cost of the misguided Iraq war. Our best SECURITY is a strong economy. No army can achieve this. The fortune our citizens have been led to waste could have transformed America. Instead many are losing their homes. Why is there not rioting in the streets?

Vice President Cheney his good reason for his insane smirk. He and his cronies successfully lied, created a war, and sold it to our modestly intellectually gifted, incurious and poorly educated President. The poor fellow doesn’t realize he’s been duped as badly as the rest of us. History is going to be astonished at what the American citizenry permitted in the first years of the new millennium.

Certain corporate fat cats have become astronomically richer -- while you suffer. Amazingly, people's finances may have been ruined and yet those same folks would still vote for the policies that have ruined them. Dicky and Donny lied when they said the war “would pay for itself.” It has only enriched a VAST army of “private contractors” and mercenaries with connections to the highest places in our government. Just the cost of repatriating our wounded for the next 30 or more years, would break a lesser country. No one counts the individual cost of the many thousands of emotionally damaged men returning to their families with virtually incurable PTSD.

Numerous documentaries on the lead up to the war, with video bites, appear now on television. FRONTLINE has presented a two hour PBS special which is overwhelming and heartbreaking. There's no arguing with its unbearable logic, because a history of blind stupidity flows from the mouths of those who perpetrated it. Every voting American should see it -- and then they did they might think ten times before voting for John McCain.

The tragedy is that while every single error was performed in public, in full view of cameras, and recorded for all time, no one paid attention. In a hundred years people will watch our arrogantly smiling president arrive on an aircraft carrier in full combat flight regalia to announce the end of a "war we had won” – and wonder if we had all lost our minds.

When recently confronted with the fact that 70% of Americans believe “Bush's war” is and was a mistake, Vice President Cheney’s response was, "So?" Many video clips are available in which he said with ABSOLUTE certainty that Iraq has, or soon will have nuclear capacity and that they are a haven for terror. What kind of psychopath could condemn this nation, in cold blood, to a ruined economy and 4 thousand useless deaths?

One wants to dress the cowardly, chubby fellow in body armor and shove him into the middle of a firefight. How far have we sunk that our second most important leader is so disdainful of the people he has been elected to represent? The man's hands are soiled with blood from our children who have died in his phony war, and he neither notices the red stain, or smells it.

Do we really intend our government to be run as Bush and Cheney tell us it is? Is it democracy that once we make a decision, we are in for four years of having our input ignored? Remember what happened in Germany when the citizens elected a group who cleverly disguised their purpose by naming their party "buddies." That's the Bavarian slang translation of Nazi.

An immense propaganda machine kept the truth from the German people until nearly the end of the war. Germany was finished, but when the aristocrat, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg failed to assassinate Hitler, a substantial majority of Germans were relieved. It is that easy to fool people! Bombs were destroying everything – yet they still believed they would prevail, because their insane and perverse leaders told them so.

Von Stauffenberg failed because he didn't have the courage to become a suicide bomber. He pushed his lethal briefcase as close to der Fuhrer, as he dared, then left the room. Hitler moved, unknowingly shielding himself with the heavy oak table. He survived and Von Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters were torn to pieces.

It is our job as citizens to make sure we are not again fooled, as Bush and Cheney’s government fooled us. To that end it is instructive to watch Senator McCain in action. Lost in acting out some ancient, tragic war between himself, his father and grandfather, he cares NOTHING for what his fellow Americans think. In a performance, seeking votes, he is cleverly beginning to shift his rhetoric towards the center. Consistency of his beliefs matter for nothing. He will shift again as is suits him. How can we believe such a man?

I believe justice is acting itself out in Cheney's lifetime. The man must live in a nightmare. Unlovable, remote and unloving -- frigid and unapproachable. The blank, self-satisfied smirk tells us everything. Just ask his wife and children. I had a father who was pathologically driven by money. He sits alone at 99, spending all of his still substantial mental energy creating denial around his ruthless crimes. My guess is that within days of being out of office Bush will be back on the bottle.

I received an e-mail a few days ago saying that Senator McCain's latest spending report, filed by his own campaign, shows he has spent in excess of $58 million -- a public admission by his own managers that he has broken the law. The senders of the e-mail say they have filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, and wanted me to sign-on for a second delivery of signatures.

But we have a far greater problem than the theft by McCain of four million dollars. The bedrock that has made this country strong is absolute separation of church and state. The terrific HBO series on John Adams reminds once again of the fortuitous coming together of brilliant, dedicated men, who wanted to create a new kind of country. Do we have today anyone in government approaching the love of freedom that Thomas Jefferson had? Had had a man of that quality appeared recently, he would have been torn to pieces by sociopaths like Karl Rove.

During the last 50 years the influence of the religious right has grown all out of proportion to common sense. We do not vote our financial self-interest, our social conscience, our environment or anything logical. We vote out of superstition and fear. This is exactly what got Germany in trouble in the 30s. The Nazis made a clever pact with the Vatican, which drew the substantial Catholic vote, and they also evoked Germany's mystical, spiritual heritage.

The Bush fiasco can be directly related to the votes of right wing religious fanatics. There is no middle ground with these people. They are not "Americans" -- using the term the way our founding fathers might have. If you're not with them you're against them. And God help you if you're a Jew. Who's God might that be?

At heart Senator McCain is one of these unthinking fanatics. He has repeatedly said he’d support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Do the majority of Americans want such a man choosing our next Supreme Court Justice? We must not elect our leaders because of their superstitious beliefs. I don't believe President Bush who, no doubt, longs for a shot every day, is a religious person. It is not religious to have your hands reddened with the blood of 4000 young men. The "god" who tells him what to do has been leading him astray. I see no sign on his or Cheney's face of remorse. And, of course, we don't see Donald Rumsfeld anymore.

Since 1983 Senator McCain has cast 125 anti-choice votes out of 130 opportunities. Do you want your daughter having a ratty, backstreet abortion? It doesn't matter to these guys, they have money. If one of their daughters gets pregnant, they will ship her to where it's legal to get a safe abortion. Not so for the poor inner-city kid.

It gets worse. Senator McCain has never cosponsored or supported legislation that would prevent unintended pregnancy to reduce the need for abortion. We can’t allow John McCain become our next president if we value women's reproductive freedom!

Senator McCain is only "your friend" if you permit him to ship your kid overseas to be blown apart in an unwinnable war. He is only "your friend" if you agree, should your daughter make a common mistake and become pregnant, that she has to have an illegal abortion or carry the child to term. The psychological consequences for our country, and its effect this man could have on our young women, are beyond imagination. We don't have time or energy for another disastrous four years.

During a quarter century in Congress, that jovial looking fellow, hugging President Bush, and asking for your vote, has shown nothing but contempt for women's reproductive freedoms. We must stop him from taking his contempt for choice to the next level!

Then there is his ability, when called upon, perhaps under pressure, to make the correct decision. He is no doubt the most experienced candidate in foreign affairs. But that experience has led to a series of dangerous mistakes. Experience is only valuable if it is accompanied by good judgement.

In an article on March 23, 2008, in the LA Times, Bob Drogin analyzes John McCain's errors around the Iraq war. The Senator publicly predicted a quick and easy victory, supporting those who set up the mess we are in. This experienced warrior, a product of our finest military training, was clueless about what many knew would become a vicious insurgency.

Senator McCain joined those issuing warnings about Saddam Hussein's supposed weapons of mass destruction. But this powerful member of the leadership of the free world didn't bother reading the full 2002 National Intelligence Estimate that showed serious gaps in the intelligence. Neither, incidentally, did Hillary Clinton.

These folks were elected to protect us. Before aiding and abetting a decision to go to war, don't you think they might have done due diligence? You would certainly read the full contract before buying a home.

Though Senator McCain eventually criticized the Bush administration's management in Iraq and clashed repeatedly with Rumsfeld, he backed many of their same policies. He repeatedly urged backing Iraqi émigré groups, internal dissidents and other forces to overthrow Hussein. As a senior member of the Senate armed Services committee, which oversees the Pentagon, the old soldier’s views carried power. They would carry much more as president.

The LA Times article runs down a series of miscalculations and misjudgments by Senator McCain in the period leading up to the war. He told MSNBC that it is "possible, if not probable, that internal opposition forces can prevail over time." When asked if it wouldn't require 100,000 US soldiers as occupational troops, this highly trained military man demurred. "Oh, no," he said. "I don't think so at all." Sadam had a huge army keeping a lid on his divided country. We were somehow going to accomplish the same thing with a handful of troops.

Senator McCain was instrumental in supporting the administration’s decision to ignore the search for Al Qaeda’s chief to focus on Hussein. We now know that was a crucial error. Senator McCain supported the Bush administration in the lead up to the war. In September 2002 he told CNN that he expected "an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time." Yeah.

In October 2002 Senator McCain backed the administration when it sought congressional approval for a resolution to use force to disarm Iraq. He repeatedly warned his colleagues that Hussein was "a clear and present danger" to US security.

In the Congressional record, McCain is quoted as saying, "Sadam has developed stocks of germs and toxins in sufficient quantities to kill the entire population of the earth multiple times. He has placed weapons laden with these poisons on alert to fire at his neighbors within minutes, not hours, and has devolved authority to fire them to subordinates. He develops nuclear weapons with which he would hold his neighbors and us hostage"

What absolute, criminal garbage. These absurd notions are part of what railroaded us into an obscene war. In fact, none of these weapons existed and a Senator is powerful and knowledgeable as McCain should have taken the trouble to be certain, before he influenced a nation. After the invasion it became obvious that Hussein had abandoned or destroyed all of his weapons of mass destruction programs a dozen years before.

After the invasion Senator McCain told MSNBC that he had "no doubt" US forces "will be welcomed as liberators" in Baghdad. Naturally he changed his views after the insurgency began. After returning from an August, 2003 visit Senator McCain began calling for the deployment of thousands more troops. This set him at odds with the White House, his party and military commanders. So, he did something right when it was too late.

Recently Senator McCain's claim to expertise came under attack after he completed a two-day visit to Iraq, his eighth tour of the war zone. On at least two occasions he publicly charged that he Iran was training Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq. Totally wrong. He apologized after he was advised that Iran supports militant Shiite groups, not the rival Sunnis who make up Al Qaeda.

The man keeps talking about “no surrender.” He apparently believes that's a powerful buzzword for most Americans. I am more concerned than we will surrender our sovereignty through bankruptcy. There is nothing like blindness in a president. "I am confident about our current strategy," he declared. "I will stick with it under any circumstances, but I don't know if the American people will stick with it." I hope we are not so foolish to follow that path to our own self destruction.

Remember, this is the stubborn war hero who flew his bomber directly into a Sam missile rather than abort his run.

Here is what retired Four-Star General Wesley Clark, a genuinely knowledgeable and successful soldier believes --We must end the Bush Administration's reckless and irresponsible policies on Iraq, the economy, health care and education. And we must move America in the New Direction that our country so urgently needs.

100 more years in Iraq might be the Republicans' plan, but it should not be America's. Voters, consider -- this issue might bring us down.

Friday, March 21, 2008

“The Eliot Spitzer Syndrome.”

During past weeks, New York Governor, Eliot Spitzer, the one-time "Sheriff" of Wall Street -- who campaigned on a promise to clean up state politics -- became embroiled in a sex scandal that forced his resignation. The man’s mighty fall is everywhere in the news, as are photos of his distressed and spaced out wife, whom, with his truly innocent children, we are told to pity.

According to a recent in depth New Yorker article, Spitzer was a cruel and unlovable character. He screamed at employees, was arrogant and outrageously demanding to those who served under him. What do those who touted him as a potential presidential candidate project he would be like if he had virtually unlimited power? One look at his face, trained from childhood in issuing commands, tells everything -- just as close observation of Senator McCain tells us what would happen to our nation were he to assume command. Beware.

Newsweek published a photo of Spitzer's old, benign looking parents. His mother, hunched and tiny, could not have been the source of torture to her infant son. Yeah, right. His father looked benign. The story was -- the extent of pressure on young Eliot was word games around the dinner table. Common sense and life experience tells us his pathology inescapably grows from much worse.

As Attorney General Spitzer extensively pursued and put behind bars the very same kind of people he was caught employing for his pleasure. I don't say sexual pleasure, because I'm not quite sure what acts pleased this hypocrite. Many of us would not classify them as sex.

According to federal records Spitzer met a prostitute named “Kristin” in the historic D.C. Mayflower Hotel. Franklin Roosevelt is said to have put the finishing touches on his 1933 Inaugural Address (“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”) one floor below their historic encounter. After midnight Kristin reported to her “dispatcher” that Spitzer had paid $4,300, including a down payment toward the next. Though the dispatcher had warned her that Spitzer had been known to “ask you to do things that, like, you might not think were safe,” she reported that the encounter “had gone fine,” and reminded the dispatcher that she knew how to “take care of herself.”

It does real harm to our society to pretend, as the Newsweek article does, that a social monster like Spitzer can be formed by merely pressuring a child. Spitzer hid his pervosity well -- there was even talk that he might run for president. But one does not pay $4,000 an hour for petting, and a few minutes of intercourse. Something vile and unreported must have -- MUST HAVE -- happened in Spitzer's early childhood that he needed to routinely re-create with young women, not his wife, for hire. In spite of what Jay Leno might think, Spitser's acts were not about sexual hunger.

If you are curious about what transpired that was not “safe” for the young professional woman, you could find out by having been a fly on the wall while the infant Spitzer was in his mother’s care. I believe the desire in a certain kind of man to torture and/or abuse a young woman arises from his early encounters with his mother. It would do Spitzer absolutely no good were he able to perform the same acts with a powerful woman near his own age. No doubt his wife would not let him, and she is no longer young. These acts are not sexual. They are about getting even

My old friend, Julie Motz, contributed the following statement (slightly rewritten by me) to the New York Times blog about Spitzer:

“Ex-Governor Spitzer's dilemma - like that of Bill Clinton in his dealings with Monica Lewinsky - represents a sad attempt to heal his sexual abuse history by acting it out in a way doomed to become public. If those victimized by childhood sexual abuse realized that it is the engine driving this kind of sexual, compulsive act – then their need to have it come out into the open could lead to profound healing of the wound.”

I've known Julie for over 40 years and in that time she has grown into one of the most advanced thinkers in the field. She's had an enormous influence on my ability to become painfully aware of my history, and use my growing freedom from the past to inform others. So many of us have been abused in our early childhood and have mistakenly buried it. Who among us was not beaten as a child? Abuse is so common that when we see powerful men acting out in insanely destructive ways we attribute it to some failure in their character.

There is no unconscious failure operating here. Spitzer knew what he was doing. He desperately needed whatever interaction he was paying so much for. I have experienced insanely destructive behavior, so I know. It feels as if an unnamable impulse is driving you. Some remote part of your mind knows that what you're doing is crazy, but response to the impulse brings a sense of excitement and pleasure. I don't do drugs but I suppose it’s like taking that first hit of cocaine after six months being sober. The experience of breaking the rules is thrilling and you delude yourself that this time it will be different, though you really know you are in for a long spiral down.

What we must learn to accept is that the educated and thoughtful conscious of a 50-year-old is no match for the underlying, primitive unconscious drives of the two or three year old who is really running things.

That's right readers --the perverted crap that was done to you that you don't remember, that happened before you could speak, may be what is running you. It is the conflict between these two parts of his psyche: the present and conscious, and the primitive and unthinking, that drives men like Spitzer to be violently aggressive, hateful and enraged at those about them. They then turn the rage on themselves in consciously destructive ways.

Julie goes on to write, “In my practice as a healer I see this kind of tragic behavior all too often. Bringing the sufferer to an awareness of his past, rather than merely judging him is the key to transforming this. Hopefully we won't need too many more public scandals of this nature to wake people up. Prostitution like pornography is a demand-side, not a supply-side problem. The way to end the demand is to recognize the childhood wound underlying it and address that.”

Spitzer needs to be in a form of nonverbal therapy which will allow him to relive the forgotten torture of his early childhood, lodged in his unconscious, which has virtually destroyed his career. Julie’s simple but profound ideas, if put into practice would transform our society.

In a recent Los Angeles Times article, Josh Meyer writes that were it not for the suspicious financial transactions Spitzer allegedly orchestrated to pay for his trysts -- like nearly all clients of high-priced call girl services, he probably would never have been caught. Authorities don't have the resources or manpower to go after ultra-expensive prostitution rings like Emperors’ Cub. Conviction would require elaborate undercover operations.

But the Patriot Act has recently equipped the government with the right to look at bank records for unusual money movements. Those involved in qualifying practices go on a watch list. A serious of coincidences, described in the Newsweek article, around transfers of money, which looked superficially like laundering, gave the alarm. Had Spitzer been content to withdraw a few thousand dollars in cash and pay with this, he would never have been caught.

The article quotes a Detective Mark Gilky, who ran an undercover storefront operation in Washington D.C., in which police were able to see credit card receipts (who but a madman would use a credit card to pay for illicit acts?) for various prostitution rings, including the names and the invoices. "It was shocking," he said. "The amounts of money were staggering and the people involved were movie stars, celebrities, well-known political people and star athletes.

But in the sting that followed the client’s names never became public. "It's a circle you have to be in," Gilky said, "where there is trust and you're introduced into the network personally." The 47 page criminal complaint and affidavit filed against the alleged leaders of the Emperor's Club provides a richly detailed understanding of how these games are played.

There is a powerful coincidence between prostitution and politics -- sex, money, and power are overwhelmingly exciting to many. To understand how certain men run amok, we must accept that their intelligent, thinking wives, women like Silda Wall Spitzer and Hillary, knew on some level from day one what kind of devil they were hooking up with. Internally motivated, profoundly disturbing drives cannot be hidden past the first few dates.

Silda gave up a high-powered career as a corporate lawyer to raise three daughters and support her husband as he sought elective office. Time and again, she found herself encouraging him during critical junctures in his public life, while regretting that he had chosen to put their family in such an unpleasant place. In 1994, after Spitzer made his first, unsuccessful run for New York State Attorney General, his wife told a former colleague from the world of corporate law, “Well, now he can go back and get a real job.”

According to friends, the governor’s time in Albany exacted a profound psychic cost from Silda, who was not able to embrace her role as first lady. “I think the whole period of his governorship hasn’t fit her,” a friend of the Spitzers said. “It strained the marriage.” I'll say.

Denial runs deep. A day after she learned that federal investigators had identified Spitzer as a customer of a high-priced prostitution ring, Silda urged him not to resign. Friends of the pair said that they believed she took that stance because she was not aware that the government complaint against the prostitution ring stemmed from an I.R.S. inquiry involving Spitzer’s bank records.

A few days later, as allegations exploded across front pages and television screens, the couple sought the advice of colleagues and friends. Many were reportedly flabbergasted, but as a group supported Silda's idea that her husband should not resign. He promptly did, quite likely because he knew things that his family and friends did not.

Silda is as profoundly in need of the right kind of therapy as her husband, because she must suffer from similar emotional disturbances. We marry what is familiar to us, even though it be disguised. She has been described as the only person whose approval he values so much that she has even been able to take the edge off his abrasive, often hateful style. A Harvard educated lawyer, she quit prestigious and high-paying jobs in 1994, the year the youngest of their three daughters was born, and the year of her husband’s first run for attorney general. This woman believed in her man. Grateful or not, his needs finally overpowered him.

The two met as students at Harvard Law School and were married in 1987. Silda grew up in Concord, N.C., population of 20,000, and a graduated from Baptist women’s school in her home state. In 2006, she said that one of the things that had always attracted her to her husband was his “close relationship with his parents.” “I can always tell when Eliot is talking to his mother or his father on the phone,” she told friends. “He just sounds different.”

I cannot imagine a more disingenuous statement. It reminds one of the Stockholm Syndrome and we are not sure just how he sounds different. My father's whole personality changed profoundly around his mother, in a way that confused the hell out of me as a youngster. I have learned these kind of dramatic behavior changes give clues about the infant's psyche. The answer to that "difference" would teach us quite a bit about what brought Spitzer to this pass. After years of torture oftentimes the victim develops a kind of attraction and fascination with the torturer.

Since Spitzer began his term in Albany, his wife has lived in New York City, where their teenage daughters attend school. In 2006, when Silda showed a reporter around their apartment on Fifth Avenue, she proudly declared that only artwork made by members of the immediate family was allowed to hang on the walls.

One multicolored drip painting, in a den that the family calls the Adirondack Room, had been signed “Spitzer Wall,” because the two of them painted it together early in their courtship. “Eliot and I had been to the Whitney and were looking at a Jackson Pollack, and he said, ‘I could do that,’ ” Silda said, imitating the braggadocio tone that brought him into the governorship, taught to him no doubt by his father. “So I said, ‘Let’s see you try,’ and then I helped him.”

Oh, the arrogance – the unbelievable, clueless arrogance of such people.

It might be helpful to briefly examine here some other sex scandals involving politicians in the United States. For every one who has been caught there are probably five others in the closet.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig was publicly admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for improper conduct after his arrest in a sex-sting operation in a men's toilet in June 2007. He then famously appeared in public, with his goggled, groggy wife, to announce that he was not gay.

The confused fellow unwisely had pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he was caught in an undercover investigation of lewd behavior in a men's room at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. His guilt must've gotten the best of his common sense because the police didn't have a case. He later tried to recant saying, he had agreed to a misdemeanor charge without consulting a lawyer and in hopes of quickly disposing of the case. We are not well served when a man like this remains in the Senate.

Louisiana Senator David Vader, a famous conservative, apologized and admitted "a very serious sin" after he was linked last July to a Washington escort service. Vitter said his misdeeds occurred several years previously and he had dealt with them in "confession and marriage counseling." He remains in the Senate. Good man. Confession and marriage counseling, that's the trick to dealing with ancient wounds when they blindside you.

There is no conventional counseling which will deal with the deep, unending drives controlling Senator Vitter. The man lives in hell on earth. One of the more dangerous notions is that being religious and "confessing" is part of a cure. These wounds remain and will torture the fellow the rest of his life, unless he does something about them.

Mark Foley, from Florida, famously resigned from the House of Representatives in 2006 after it was disclosed he had sent sexually explicit text messages to teenage boys who served as interns in the House. Many believe he did more than that with these young fellows. The revelations of misconduct led to charges that Republican leaders tried to cover up the matter.

New Jersey Governor James McGreevey stepped down in 2004 over a gay affair with a totally unqualified man whom he hired in 2002 to head the state's Homeland Security department. Here we see how blindness to what lurks in our unconscious endangers the society around us.

McGreevey's wife, who claimed she knew nothing of his homosexuality when she married him, now says she believes that the only reason he married her was because he needed a wife and children in order to become elected. Does she want us believe that she didn't suspect from the first day that there was something odd about the fellow? She looks intelligent, happy and liberated on television, but were she able to reveal the early paralleling situation in her childhood, it would help many women who "mistakenly" marry the "wrong" guy.

President Bill Clinton apparently had sexual relationships while he was married and in public life, with perhaps dozens of women. In this he was not different from other high placed men before him. His relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky, then 21, led to impeachment after accusations he lied about it under oath. The only proof was an inconsequential bit ejaculate on her dress. A man who did not wish to be caught would have destroyed it. Clinton survived impeachment and was able to serve out his term -- but his presidency, which ended in 2001, was badly damaged.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich admitted he was having an extramarital affair while leading the impeachment charge in Congress against Clinton. The word hypocrite has no meaning in the higher levels of government and business. It's whatever you can get away with.

Senator Bob Packwood, from Oregon, resigned in 1995 after 26 years in Congress. He had been accused of sexual misconduct with 17 women, among other charges.

Representative Barney Frank, from Massachusetts, who is homosexual, was reprimanded in 1990 after it was learned that one of his lovers had run a prostitution ring out of his Washington apartment. Things do get curious, just like in "Alice in Wonderland."

Senator Gary Hart, from Colorado, saw his second presidential bid end in 1987 when it was learned he spent the night on a yacht, the Monkey Business, with a woman not his wife. Prior to this he had blatantly demonstrated willingness to have sex with party girls and professionals, as often as he could. These guys do this until they get caught. So one must examine the role "getting caught" plays in their life.

Representative Dan Crane, from Illinois, and Representative Jerry Studds, from Massachusetts, were censured in 1983 for illicit affairs with underage pages. It's amazing they didn't go to jail. But high office has its privileges. Crane, who had had sex with a teenage girl, was voted out of office -- but Studds, who had had an affair with a boy, was returned to office many times. Some American constituencies are willing to overlook the odd statutory rape or two.

Representative Wilbur Mills, from Arkansas and chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was caught in 1974 with stripper Fanne Foxe, who performed as "the Argentine firecracker." Foxe leapt from Mills' limousine after it was stopped by police and jumped into the Tidal Basin. In those relatively unenlightened days, Mills rescued himself by going into treatment for alcoholism and retired two years later.

Representative Randy "Duke" Cunningham, from Rancho Santa Fe, a genuine and famous war hero, was plied with prostitutes by private contractors seeking government contracts. But that only came out during his lengthy prosecution on unrelated corruption charges. Hero or not he went to jail.

Dick Morris, a top adviser to President Clinton, resigned from his reelection campaign in 1996 after a tabloid newspaper published photographs of him with an elite prostitute on a Washington hotel balcony.

Randall Tobias, the top foreign aid advisor in the State Department, resigned two years ago after acknowledging that he patronized the elite escort services of "D. C. Madam" Deborah Palfrey. After federal authorities charged palfrey with operating a prostitution ring, she threatened to disclose the names of potentially thousands of wealthy influential and famous clients.

"The tentacles of this matter reach far, why and high into the echelons of power in the United States," Palfrey wrote in one court filing, vowing to subpoena all of her customers in an effort to prove that her employees provided only legal massage services. That scandal quickly went away.

In Los Angeles, a succession of Beverly Hills and Hollywood Madams has kept the press busy, and the American public titillated, throughout much of the 20th century. And as mentioned above, in Washington several high-ranking congressmen have been caught having relationships with women, or men, half their age in exchange for money, favors or ghost jobs.

Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was observed and recorded by the FBI in flagrante with women not his wife. This has had no effect on his deification.

Senator John McCain was apparently unfaithful to his first wife with his second, before he divorced one and married the other.

And lest we forget, our beloved President Roosevelt, General Eisenhower, and perhaps dozens of other officials had mistresses and girlfriends, leading up to the great womanizers of them all, John F. and Robert Kennedy. In this they were brilliantly imitating their father. One observes what effect a hyper religious Catholic mother has on such young men.

What are we to make of this not so hidden tragic flaw in our society?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

“In Treatment” should be in therapy.

On February 29, 2008, Lynn Smith, Los Angeles Times staff writer published an article about HBO's half hour daily soap, "In Treatment." The show, which purports to take us into the intimacy of talk psychotherapy, is based upon an Israeli television series. In this talking heads show dialog is everything, yet apparently what we hear is largely translated from Hebrew.

I've made a number of films in Israel and communication is often difficult. It’s a Middle Eastern country peopled by the descendants of Jews from all over the world and more Arabs than you might think -- by definition a culture clash. Because they live under threat, Israelis can be aggressive. It is the only place where a driver tried to push me off a mountain road for daring to pass.

Hebrew adds to the confusion, because it’s an ancient language with nuance suited to life in a desert tent. Almost everyone in Israel speaks English, but emotions often do not translate. I briefly went out with a former Miss Israel and can attest. Considering the conflicting meaning of words between the two languages, basing a show on Hebrew dialogue is reaching pretty far down into the barrel.

It cannot be determined from the credits if anyone in charge of the show has experience with what can be healing in verbal therapy. The apparent naïveté of the producers leads to a misleading and often confusing presentation. Even if talk therapy in Israel is practiced in this manner, the words don't translate into therapy that has a chance of succeeding. It's all about clever "interpretations" and entertaining emotional battles that would never take place in even the most mismanaged therapeutic environment.

There could not be a presentation that better confirms my aversion for exclusively talk based therapy. What we see here is “wordplay,” spouted rapid fire by terrifically smart actors, sitting face-to-face -- reading more from each other's faces than the spoken words could possibly convey. How confusing for the poor patient, who is in therapy because he or she is confused enough. If the actors are familiar with therapy that heals, working on the show must be excruciating.

"In Treatment" presents the brilliant Gabriel Byrne, playing Dr. Paul Weston. I assume the doctor has substantial malpractice insurance, because much of how he treats his patients is cockeyed, and some of it is dangerous. He lives in a nice house in a nameless suburb and works in a highly personalized room, cluttered with artifacts. Just crap to confuse his patients. All that's missing is the common pre-cancer picture of Sigmund.

To add to his patient’s confusion, Paul’s office, is also his sometimes bedroom. His patients unrealistically get up and use the bathroom in the middle of a session. A young patient attempts to commit suicide with pills he incompetently left in his medicine cabinet. After that I would think about going into some other profession.

When the office toilet doesn't work and a patient arrogantly demands to be allowed to enter his house and use the toilet there, he stammers helplessly. Doesn’t this supposedly highly analyzed fellow know how to say no? Not even when saying no would benefit his patient. His dissatisfied wife hovers, knocks on the door, leaves for Rome to have an affair. They have children off in other rooms who sometimes appear mysteriously in his office when the doctors is not there. Lately Paul has been having semi-realistic heart to heart talks with them.

We are told Paul is the product of an "Institute" referred to in once a week sessions with his “supervisor,” played by the always believable Dianne Wiest. What kind of institute could this be if in every session we see Paul with his patients and Paul with his supervisor, crossing every conceivable human boundary? The so called therapy presented to us is a confused mess -- barely worthy of criticism. Humane people don't treat each other like this, even if they aren't in therapy.

In couple’s therapy with Paul’s supervisor, we never learn anything about the source of his wife’s rage. She seems to be saying that her husband, with his highly practiced, know it all “analyst ways,” is distant and inadequate. But why should she accept couples therapy with her husband's therapist -- someone with whom he has had a long relationship, not involving her? There is enough suspicion and confusion in couple’s therapy without adding bias. They need someone neutral who could stand up to his attacks.

In couples therapy Paul is pathologically controlling. This man’s working personality could not be the result of arduous years of competent therapeutic training. We learn nothing of what must have been his disturbed childhood. It would not take long to fill us in, but the series producers probably don't know themselves. His wife flits rapidly between being seductive, confused, irrational, and feeling inadequate. Michelle Forbes, the actress playing her, presents these confusing and inhumanly conflicting emotions beautifully.

The couple is confronted by a wall of "knowing," in which, based upon her prior intellectually incestuous working relationship at the Institute with Paul, Dr. Wiest smoothly, and at great length articulates her "understanding of the problem." These scenes do a terrible disservice to what can be accomplished in skillful and healing couple’s therapy. Her hammering simply alienates. When will we learn that simply "explaining" to the conscious, has almost no effect on the unconscious that is causing the problem? My conclusion is that the producers don't have a clue to what heals.

To further confuse the audience, Paul is hostile, all-knowing, and contradicts almost everything his supervisor says both alone and in couple’s therapy. We have seen him be reasonably capable with the young gymnast who is his patient. No trained therapists, even a poorly trained one, could be this unaware of himself.

Years ago I was in psychoanalysis with a conventionally trained young analyst -- probably one of her first full scale, four times a week patients. She was attractive, confident and tiny. When sitting in her chair, something I rarely saw, because I was lying on the couch, her feet didn't touch the floor. She unfortunately crossed many boundaries. I know that she and her officemate actually painted the place themselves before they moved in. Later, her office was in a small, rented home filled with white furniture on white carpets. Her kids continually damaged her car so I could trace the course of our work by the wreck it eventually became.

As I said in another blog she got me to finance a screenplay she wrote with an associate. Substantial money changed hands, and the screenplay went nowhere. Yet, clumsily, laboriously, taking what seemed forever, she did help me. Had she been better trained in today's methods she might have helped more, faster. But my substantial check every week must've been very welcome.

I learned the value of not being able to read your therapist’s feelings on their face. It's hard enough dealing with your own emotions, without dealing with your therapist’s. When Paul gets fiercely angry at two of his female patient’s abusers, his feelings deprive them of getting in touch with theirs. It made me wince. Therapy is not a conversation between equals. How dare he make himself righteously comfortable at his patient’s expense? Worse, his anger sidetracked the path they should be on, back to the original abuser.

Operating here is what one might call it the "Oprah Syndrome,” OS. In it, an adult patient remembers terrifying, relatively recent abuse in vivid detail. I've heard similar stories many times, and I'm not a therapist. I lived with such a woman for years, who in spite of excellent psychoanalysis was never able to get in contact with the primal abuse in her infant life. In the OS, the story is -- a stranger on the street, a janitor, a neighbor, an uncle -- raped or abused them in their teens or early 20s. Working through this remembered material should allow the patient to relieve their symptoms.

If they had been binge eating and yo-yoing up and down in weight, it should stop. If they had been uncontrollably promiscuous and destructive in their relationships with the opposite sex, that should begin healing. If they had been incapable of having a pleasurable sexual relationship, they should now be able to have one. If they had been incapable of feeling joy about their bodies, that should end. If they are unaccountably and endlessly depressed, even without medication, the depression should lift. If they are men, they should be able to cease destructive womanizing.

More often, if you suffer from the OS, superficial talk therapy changes nothing. Working through the recent memory, real vivid and painful, does not bring about complete healing. Then assuming he or she has the training, and it's not so common, the therapist must go deeper into what the recent abuse has been masking. This is most likely early pre-verbal abuse from a parent. Tragically, this might have affected as many as half of us.

Some of the drama in "In Treatment”, as viewers know by now, derives from the human and common weaknesses of Dr. Paul. Failures that in a friend or acquaintance would be harmless can be devastating in a therapist. Gabriel Byrne must struggle with the incompetent they have created for him to play. My training in the Actors Studio in New York, and years in the theater, taught me that it is impossible to play a role you do not believe in. You don't have to love the person, but it is the writer's responsibility to write someone plausible.

Paralleling the story in the show, I had a chance encounter with a beautiful patient of the incompetent and probably mentally ill Psychiatrist I saw in my early 30s. I mentioned him in a previous blog. To remind you, he was an M.D., Associate Clinical Professor at a major university.

It was easy prying out of my therapist everything I needed to know about her, including his proud statement that she was “in love” with him. This male therapist and his lovely female patient fulfilled the standard cliché. At least my therapist had the brains and training to not say that he was "in love with her" also. And even if he was "in love with her," I think his training was sufficient that he would never tell her.

Paul makes the same claim about Laura, the beautiful, dissatisfied woman we meet in the first segment. We soon discover that she “loves” him and he “loves” her. Don't the folks making this show know that the so-called "love" one encounters in therapy is not love at all? It is a product of transference and counter-transference that even a modestly competent therapist should not be confused by.

Melissa George, plays Laura with a fine seductive flair. Her unique, plastic face allows her to play emotions with her lips alone -- perfectly capturing the deep, old need to control and manipulate men of the early abuse victim. Marylin had it, as do many stars, male and female. It's not even about physical looks. The need -- the deep unfulfilled need -- is what draws one in -- and can be confusing for the object. The moment you take them up on their promise -- it disappears.

Laura tells Paul everything he needs to know so that he might avoid making a devastating life path error for both of them. She is disdainful of his patient she seduces and tells him about in detail. She is spiteful in her description about how the poor fellow made love. She admits she is usually inorgasmic and ends up masturbating, humiliating the man, by rubbing against his leg.

The writers have made it clear -- for good reason, Laura hates men. For her flirting is exciting and sex is agonizing. She makes sure it's the same for her partners by not responding -- or responding only superficially. Too many married men experience this nightly. Do none of the producers understand that her symptoms and the display presented, match exactly those in women suffering from PTSD from early childhood sexual abuse?

Laura eventually describes a teenage encounter with a much older man, a friend of her father, claiming that she seduced him. She says her father was in the room next door and later tells her he was aware of what was going on. Perfectly normal in the best of families. I am waiting for the show to get to what happened 20 years earlier with her father, but since they are working with words therapy only, and it happened before she could speak: we will probably never know.

By week six Laura has left therapy. But she arrives at Paul's, in time for her appointment, all dolled up, hot to trot. In an excruciating scene we see him violate this tragic young woman's boundaries by sitting next to her on the couch. She's smart enough to comment on this. Some part of her does want be healed -- wants it more than mediocre sex with another middle-aged man. Then Paul takes advantage of her concern for her father (what if he dies before she can confront him?) and takes her hands in his. It's so lovey-dovey.

This woman's was raped repeatedly as a teenager. Was probably raped previously in her infancy -- perhaps more than once. She doesn't need to be taken advantage of again by someone whom therapeutic transference has placed in the position of a loving and caring father. It is not loving and caring for Paul to hug, caress and embrace her -- or any other patient. It is not loving and caring for him to confess to her his confused and agonized feelings of "love." Are the producers going to show us the devastating and inevitable aftermath of this stupefying breach?

Proof of her damage -- as soon as he says he cares for her, she turns on him. How dense can this poor fellow be? She's told him she doesn’t orgasm easily -- if at all. Considering how we bring up girls in this country, that's not uncommon. Does he imagine that in a few hours of loving her he will transform a lifetime of empty sex? Unfortunately, it just don't work that way – though lots of men wish it did. Thankfully Paul comes to his senses and leads her out the door.

Earlier, in the most cockeyed writing I've seen in 20 years, we see poor, paralyzed Paul arguing with his supervisor, trying to get her approval to have an affair with Laura. He says he simply cannot understand, after all of his (what one must assume is psychoanalytic) training, why such an affair would destroy them both. This in spite of endless anecdotal history dating from Freud about the physical and practical disaster of allowing counter-transference to overtake the therapist. I know women who have married their therapist. The guy lost his license and the marriages were disasters. What in the hell are they up to in Israel?

Paul, dear fellow, this "love" is the very basis upon which what ever good there is to be derived from therapy comes about. Should you succeed in your wishes, you’d be out of business and she'd run off, half mad -- after having seduced her father, and or his best buddy, again. This would certainly end whatever good any kind of therapy might ever do for her, and it could conceivably kill her.

To return to the tale: my therapist’s patient was a resident at a major hospital, heading for a terrific career. She was as beautiful as models I had foolishly been dating and was brilliant. We had a year long emotional friendship, during which we were intimate only a few ecstatic times. My therapist had told me that having pleasurable sex with her would be impossible, based on the expurgated truth about her life she told him. He thought he knew how she made love. Pure, inhibited and sweet. Boy was he wrong. I never told him anything. Some good came of it though. Within a short time both of us broke off our therapy.

The Los Angeles Times article says that some therapists are addicted to the show. Who could they possibly be? It is an affront to their profession. Perhaps the purest treatment depicted is that of Paul and a young, hostile, terrified, suicidal gymnast. In the first few moments a conscious viewer realizes that the gymnast is a product of early sexual abuse by her father.

We are soon told that she acts this out by having sex with her middle-aged coach and any boy who wants to. She tries to get Weston to undress her, but he wisely refuses. We learn that sex for her is a means for getting even, but her descriptions of the act are so vague it makes one wonder if she's not making them up. A sure sign of abuse, she has no pleasure in it. It is inconceivable that the producers do not make it clear to us that the therapist knows this too.

The article says the show has become a guilty habit for those familiar with the subtext of therapy. Reportedly, among the most addicted are therapists who admit to intense feelings, pro and con, about the drama. How could they have feelings, other than horror, because most of the therapy depicted is classically wrongheaded, intrusive and incompetent?

Apparently some analysts scheduled an "In Treatment" panel for March 9, with show runner Rodrigo Garcia and others, on "Responding to Erotic Transference" at New York's Mt. Sinai Hospital. Another New York group was supposed to have held a "psychoanalytic salon" to discuss issues raised by the television show. Please, folks, have you nothing better to do? Perhaps you should organize a group reading of all of Alice Miller, Melanie Klein and Heinz Kohut.

There is only one way to respond to erotic transference. The therapist must treat it as the figment it is. Only an utter incompetent would acknowledge his feelings about a patient, no matter how strong they may be. What do a therapist’s feelings have to do with healing his patient? The patient’s feeling as are confused enough as it is. Even feelings of hatred and disgust must be masked, otherwise how is the patient’s superego to redevelop itself in a healthy, nondestructive way? You may read more about this in Melanie Klein.

Years ago I routinely sent friends to the Los Angeles Wright Institute, an outstanding institution where therapists in psychoanalytic training treat those in need, under close supervision, for low fees. It's made a difference in thousands of lives. Curiosity brought me to know some supervising analysts. This led to parties where I saw that therapists were as vulnerable as anyone to human frailties of ego and greed. Their social life was largely made up of other therapists. In a short while endless jargon became boring.

As a filmmaker, I was invited to speak to the Board of Directors of one of the major Psychoanalytic Institutes of Los Angeles. Together we created a team whose goal was to interview all of the prominent analysts in Southern California. These early interviews were some of the most fascinating I've ever participated in, because they revealed the deep personal schisms in the Southern California therapy profession.

In one interview, an eminent analyst, who is married to an eminent analyst, wept openly at the pain his "theoretical" conflicts with his fellow analysts had caused him. If analysts can’t get along, or agree on how to practice their profession, what chance has the rest of us? Power struggles within the group disillusioned me, and I dropped out. If these interviews continued they have created a priceless archive.

The leader of our team spoke freely about his belief that it was necessary for him, as a psychoanalyst, to reveal to his patients if he was sexually attracted to them. He spoke of treating one woman in particular with this method. I wonder what happened to her. I later videotaped a raucous meeting where he presented a carefully written paper justifying his complicated theories around his “method.” A hundred or more angry, out of shape therapists shouted him down. You would not believe that those folks, who’s life work is to sit calmly in chairs, could become so agitated. I understand, now that I've experienced different forms of therapy, how dangerous the depiction of Paul Weston is.

Another of Paul's patients is an Americanized version of what probably was an Israeli fighter pilot who mistakenly fired rockets into a children's school in Palestine. Not a single sentence that passes between them could be called therapy. The pilot displays almost no human traits whatsoever, and is almost completely masked. Far from narcissistic, he's invisible. Nobody's home. From sentence to sentence he contradicts himself. I've known lots of fighter pilots, and being inhuman does not come with the trade.

The pilot speaks only superficially about remorse -- and clever as Blair Underwood is, I never got the feeling he even knew how to fly. He says words, but they aren't his. The confusing character he plays is also pathologically controlling and manipulative. Early on he forces a complex and expensive coffee maker on his therapist, insulting him in the process. Paul seems helpless to define the space between them. In any language this is BAD therapy.

One of the goals of therapy to teach your patients the boundaries that their parents failed to do. There is only so far you can allow them to go in acting out insane rage from something hidden in the past. No competent therapist would've allowed the coffee maker to remain. Later, Paul observes the pilot, outside his office, being seduced by his own love object, Laura. One can see the producers chuckling. What fun!

However, to make this kind of nonsense work, the therapist has to be an absolute ninny. It is impossible for Gabriel Byrne to play an idiot, and he chaffs at the restraints. His emotions flow all over the place, as the dialogue forces inhuman contradictions from moment to moment.

In one episode, the pilot, claiming some higher, insanely implausible intelligence source, confronts Paul with the fact that his wife has run off to Rome with another man. The pilot taunts him so viciously that poor Paul is driven to physically attack a vastly more fit, younger man, throwing coffee in his face.

I hope no viewer believes such a nutty scene could ever take place in the real world. Dear Paul, there are things you may not allow your patients to do. They may not threaten murder without being reported to the police. They may not hug you, kiss you, stroke you, or stand too close. They may not bring you outrageous presents and plunk them down in your already too cluttered office. They may not eat, smoke or compulsively use the bathroom. They may not verbally assault or spy on you.

Dealing with these manipulations for what they are, would be healing -- but you do not. If a patient invades your privacy, that’s the sign to show them the door. While you're at it get a restraining order so this crazy pilot can never come near you again.

Paul discloses so much about himself and crosses so many boundaries that he becomes an unbelievable character. He allows his patients to be pathologically aggressive and resistant, never even attempting to point this rage at where it belongs. His supervisor is less compassionate than he. Perhaps because of their history together, she is far too intrusive and critical to be helpful. But then Paul is desperate. After 20 years of working at being a therapist, has he nowhere else to turn? Has he no close friends?

The reported interest in the show by therapists and their confusion about it, illustrates the said state of therapy. The show is nonsense, so why even try to make therapeutic sense of it? It has hardly any viewers because, brilliant as all of the acting is, the show is painful to watch. It's directed according to a weird syntax of screen direction I’ve found impossible to decipher. Often times the why of where the camera is placed is, to me, more interesting than what the people are saying.

Yet, as the article says, in a time when pharmacology has “gained ground” in treating problems, what happens in intimate therapy still has the power to fascinate. I take exception to the notion of gained ground, because pharmacological treatment comes with side effects which may prevent forever the patient being able to discover the source of his problem.

Alarmingly, the article says some therapists try to make sense of the nonsensical dialogue. One says he has noticed "parallel process" in Paul's mimicking Laura's complaints in his sessions with his supervisor. My guess it's a coincidence. The article says that therapists may plan to use clips of the show in postdoctoral courses to illustrate professional issues that arise in real-life sessions: Should therapists make coffee? Or start a couple's session when only one person has arrived? Or have wild sex with an attractive patient in a nearby hotel?

In movie and television psychotherapy, dramatic convention calls for the patient to dramatically recover repressed, emotionally cathartic memories. I had such an experience and it was nothing like that. In fact my therapist was almost completely unaware of what was happening to me until I described it – weeks later, after I had processed it on my own. I am appalled by books like “Prince of Tides,” which, though beautifully written, present a totally cockeyed image of what tragedy arises from broken therapeutic boundaries.

The article says that part of Paul's struggle comes from the sort of therapy he's shown to practice. It comes out of an old tradition in psychotherapy where 'the customer is always wrong.' Whatever the patient says is suspect. So on the one hand, Paul caringly gets them to open themselves up to him, and then he plays gotcha. But the problems go deeper. It seems that no one associated with the show knows how to write dialogue appropriate to real therapy. Meaningful chat will not do.

At one time I considered doing a television series called "The Impossible Profession." I had a list of the brilliant analytic advisers who would help write it. I now know that by adding the latest developments in nonverbal therapy we would have had an even more fascinating series. Real therapy is amazing when it works. The results are physical and immediately visually apparent. My book "Backlight" is about this. Too bad the waters have been muddied. “In Treatment” is a lazy and careless presentation of an important human interaction that is precious and healing. Though brilliantly acted entertainment, it does not serve the audience well.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Senator John McCain is not your friend.

A story by Los Angeles Times staff writer, Peter Wallstein, on the front page of the Saturday, March 1, 2008 issue, prompted me to write. It revolves around the cleverly misleading commercial (but then aren't the most dangerous of those cleverly misleading) running about a “ringing phone in the White House.”

I made commercials back in the days when Barry Goldwater was attacked by showing an atomic bomb seeming to destroy a little girl sniffing a daisy. At least that's how I remember it. I knew the guys who created those false images, and they didn't believe they were being cynical at all.

The story goes on to say that in recent days, Senator John McCain of Arizona, the Republican nominee, has accused Senator Barack Obama of misunderstanding the role of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Perhaps he thinks if he repeats confusion and lies endlessly they will become truth. It's not pertinent here to discuss our president’s suggestion that it would not be appropriate for Senator Obama, were he president, to meet with foreign dictators. Talking never killed anyone.

How many American are dismayed by our Cuban embargo? Does it make any of us more secure to impose hardship on a people because of a corrupt government. If that were so we would have to cease communicating with half the world. The way to change the government of Cuba is by getting close to the people and showing them we are their friends. Then they might be more likely to copy us. A bully never wins.

When, so long as money and power was involved, was immorality ever a detriment to any president playing footsie with corrupt dictators? Hell, we created Saddam Hussein because it suited our notion of apportionment of power in the Middle East. Videos of President Bush walking hand-in-hand and kissing the vicious, anti-Semitic religious demagogues who run Saudi Arabia are disgusting. We know the direct role that country played in 9/11 and its human abuses, especially to women, are obscene. These are not nice guys.

Senator Obama provides the absolutely correct response. In the decision to invade Iraq, President Bush and his government filled with brilliant advisors, gave the wrong answer and led us into a debacle. There is also massive evidence they lied to us about the need for war. The Army, led by brilliant military minds, and "Donny," created the situation we now face by failing to plan for an occupation.

At least now the Generals get it and are restructuring the Army, creating training and capacity within it to provide "nationbuilding." The new Army field manual, FM 3-0 offers what it calls a "revolutionary departure from past doctrine" creating a third core mission besides offense and defense. Stability operations. It was not enough to blow Iraq apart, we need the skills to help those remaining put it back together. President Bush and his government hires are directly responsible for our failure to do that. Now the mighty US Army realizes it must rethink its mission. This is the president Senator McCain believes in, and presumably respects. This is a war with no possible military victory that he supports.

I spent 2 1/2 years as a young lieutenant making training films all over the country for the Army signal Corps. It was the best film school anyone could want and I thank the Army for it. I showed up somewhere with my five man GI crew on VOCO (one of them later became a successful Hollywood cameraman), checked in with the commander and started shooting -- in 35 mm no less. After 10 years in the reserve I "graduated" with the rank of captain. I am reminded of this whenever I check my automobile insurance with United Services Automobile Association. They call me Captain Brown. Really!

After leaving the Army, my old friend Daniel Tamkus and I spent a year making a film for General Westmoreland (the consummate Vietnam war liar) about the "modern volunteer army." We interviewed soldiers from the highest to the lowest, all over the world and assembled them into an hour film that apparently was shown only to top generals. Even though, under pressure from my client, I fudged the cutting to favor the army establishment, the conclusion was that for most soldiers, the military was not something, that had they known its faults, they would've volunteered for. Changes would be necessary and perhaps this film influenced them

We had and still have a military to be proud of. Every evening, while shooting, I would marvel at the young men, from all over the nation I had met that day. The generals I interviewed, who ran the Army, would be the last to claim that experience is all that is necessary to be a good soldier. They were of a moral caliber which were do honor to the leadership of any major corporation.

In talking to them I learned that soldiers in command make terrible mistakes, not necessarily because of lack of experience or training, but because of failures in character. The history of our wars is filled with examples, and Iraq is no exception. It is character we should be looking for in our president, self-control, lack of ego -- rather than so-called "experience." If it is character we are after we must look to the life experience of each candidate. What kind of husband, wife, parent have they been and are they? We do not want a leader with a "famous temper."

Our film advisor, appointed by the office of the Chief of Staff of the Army, was a handsome, young West Point light colonel who had also been a Rhodes scholar. He exemplified the very best, but told us that after the film finished shooting he was leaving the Army.

In a handheld, pre Steadycam, tracking shot through countless rows of American graves above the Normandy beaches the colonel spoke about the dozens, perhaps hundreds of high ranking officers in the German military, who upon refusing to murder Jews, were murdered themselves. This madness (Stalin also suffered from the disease of killing his best officers) crippled Hitler and led to shortening the war.

The colonel reminded that no one above the rank of captain, and only one of those, had put his career on the line (not his life) to protest atrocities committed by our military in Vietnam. Military experience is only useful if it is backed by temperance and morality. I tried, but this material never got into the finished film.

For Senator Clinton, being the wife of a president is no sort of training to be one, Any more than by being her husband he learned to cook, sew and raise children.

What is all this flap about “national security”? We are in no danger of foreign invasion. Al Qaeda is not going to take over our country. This is not going to become an Islamic state. Terrorism is absolutely not going to bring us down. We have the most sophisticated, intelligent weapons in the world and they are reliable. We have the best army --and it's all volunteer. We do not need more nuclear weapons, we already have enough to wipe out most of the world. We do not need a hyper expensive national missile defense system, which would only benefit the fat cats who run the companies that would build it. It is dubious if it would work anyway. We be better off spending the money on our children's education, because it is there we are falling behind.

Other blunders, such as a useless and wasteful war, and economic blindness are more likely to bring us down. The worst that could possibly result from terrorism would be a series of tragic and insane acts which kill Americans at home. The death toll will be a fraction of those killed because we are too foolish to teach our children how to drive properly -- a fraction of those killed by alcohol, because we love to advertise booze. Terrorism would be tragic, but it's not going to end life in America as we know it. Stupidity about how we choose our president will.

Those of us in the abuse business are trained to observe speech. It's our highest function as humans and the one most likely to be affected by early child abuse. Among sure warnings of post traumatic stress are: nail biting, stuttering, inability to look into another person's eyes, excessive shyness or aggression – and “mechanical speech."

We must avoid having a president again who was an early child abuse victim. We must avoid presidents who are enraged at their father or, more dangerous, in competition with them. Both our current president and Senator McCain had powerful, overwhelming fathers that they have spent their adult life in competition with. In Senator McCain's case the ghost of his heroic grandfather was also ever present.

Compulsive womanizing, alcoholism, religious fanaticism; are warning signs of a man we should not allow to lead us. Unfortunately they are so common as to be regarded as normal. Sadly, religiosity is considered important by many Americans. It is hard to find a positive resulting from extreme religious belief. It led to – among other religion induced human disasters , including 9/11 -- the Inquisition.

John McCain has the smoke around him of someone who had a difficult early life. He comes from a line of powerful, courageous, and successful military men. One never hears anything about his mother, but she must have been a compliant military wife. In such an early environment it is likely he was beaten. It seems that he isn't present, that some part of him is hidden behind the terrible torture he has endured, and all the smiling and gesticulating is a mask.

Our current president has a similar emotional affect. His smile is as false as his bravado. Propped up by the power of his position, he might seem to some an effective leader. But one sees on television a blank look appear, followed by one of terror, when he is asked to simple question he cannot answer. Dangerous stuff.

Senator McCain has a history of irreverence and opposition, as a young man, to authority. He apparently was quite the cutup in his youth, but thrived. It takes extraordinary courage to fly a military jet in combat. Without the experience you cannot comprehend the skill and information processing talents required. One of the worst qualities a military pilot can have, however, is blindness in the face of obvious defeat. When you run out of bullets or fuel – turn for home.

Senator McCain's anger at authority came to its climax when, we are told, on a bombing run, all set to drop, he saw a Sam missile coming up at him. These things are not invisible; they look like flying telephone poles and have a distinctive radar signature. Apparently, with his radar screaming warning, he could have avoided it. But that would have meant aborting his bombing mission. So stubborn, heroic to a fault, he toggled his bomb where he was supposed to, and the Sam blew his wing off.

This was not the act of a war hero; it was the act of a tragic figure seeking to outdo the phantom of his father. It is not much different from that of a fanatic suicide bomber. Senator McCain was ready to kill himself rather than abort his mission. Will he be willing to take us all with him the next time?

Planes and pilots are fantastically expensive. Senator McCain's training cost our government more than his airplane. He was trained, and experience told him, to save himself and his plane for the next mission -- but anger and intemperance rose above all. "I'm going to get those bastards." This is how far experience rose above poor character.

That is not the mentality we want in our president. Just as we don't want a president who was a crafty draft dodger, alcoholic and personal coward. The next stage of John McCain's career was spent under the most unimaginable circumstances. The tale of his heroism, and refusal to accept special treatment as the son of an admiral, has oft been told. Most men would have given in or died. Not most, virtually anyone. These acts, enduring torture were super human. One wonders what his illustrious father thought of his son’s half mad sacrifice that did none of us any good.

But being able to sustain the unimaginable does not necessarily make for a good president. Senator McCain was stubbornly rebelling against a memory, more powerful than anything in the present. A memory of being a tortured, helpless child. -- even if the torture only took the form of having a father and grandfather who were impossible to beat war heroes.

Our president suffers from this. It haunts his every waking moment. His recent public exclamation about what a “tough guy” he is, spoken through the face of an adolescent frat boy, was telling. It is said McCain has dramatic anger management problems and a history of allowing revenge to overpower his common sense. Dangerous characteristics in the president of the most powerful country in the world.

Watching Senator McCain one is struck by his tortured face, a product of six endless years spent in hopeless, unimaginable conditions. When he speaks about that time he seems to have worked the resulting PTSD through. That in itself is heroic, and rare. He had cancer and that has added to the psychic burden his unconscious must carry. He’s made unfortunate personal choices and those probably weight on him, as they weigh on us all.

But the “tell” – the dramatic and obvious “tell” -- is Senator McCain's incessant use in public speech of the expression, "my friends.” One must beware of what is behind automatic speech. "My friends," is placed in the Senator's conscious brain by his unconscious to conceal and cover up rage.

In the most stressed out period of my 20s, I was married, raising two small children, and trying to build a film company all by myself. I was incapable of having a friend or associate or of asking advice from anyone. I was unconscious of the reasons I was so isolated. The fault lay with my inability at that time to recognize what had been done to me as a child -- which led directly to that place. I was angry and did not know why. The slightest thing set me off. I blamed everyone else, because I could not place the blame where it belonged; on my parents -- and especially on my beloved father.

Then I began speaking automatically. My communication was littered with a series of repeated phrases which were so practiced that I did not stutter when I said them. The repetition comforted me, creating a wall against my unhappiness and terror. Whenever I hear anyone mechanically repeating a phrase, I think what great sorrow lies behind this?

"My friends," tells me that John McCain has no friends. That he is a man flying blindly into a speeding missile, and doesn't give a damn. We don't want him taking our country along with him. He hides his rage behind a mantra of friendliness and reasonableness. His self control is skin deep and we are told those close to him know it. Were he in real power the skin would fall away.

With his hundred year war Senator McCain presents a terrifying prospect for America -- one similar to that faced by Tojo and the Japanese government at the end of the Second World War. It didn't matter that the war they started was ill-conceived and unwinnable. It didn't matter that hundreds of thousands of Japan's finest young men had been killed. Bombs were falling. People were starving. No weapons were left. It didn't matter that they had blundered into something their obsolete Samurai ethic blinded them to. They were facing an invasion that would have killed half of their remaining population, who were commanded to fight to the death with farm implements. Echoing John McCain's words -- it only mattered that there be no surrender. We know the result.

Senator McCain would have our nation repeat again, the same casual disregard for the obvious as when he ignored a flying telephone pole with a bomb on its tip. The oft referred to experience with foreign affairs and protecting our country, which may be valuable intelligence for our next President, is only useful if it is filtered through a neutral conscious.

The prospect of Senator McCain as president should terrify us all. He cares more for staying on his flight path, and dropping his damn bomb, than he does for the fact that the Iraq war is bankrupting America and closing enormous pain and suffering for almost every American. It is the direct cause of the depression we are heading for.

This is to say nothing of the families of the men killed tomorrow -- and the tomorrows to follow. They are the greatest tragedy -- because the Iraq war was created by some disturbed, gray haired men’s notion of money and power -- and now it is all for nothing. It is disconcerting to see on television some of our finest young men parroting their indoctrination that they are in Iraq because of 9/11.

We abandoned the pursuit of known terrorists in preference for flashier, but impossibly ambitious “nation building.” The president's ego got the better of him. And there was the “oil.” This has been an imperialistic war, one that in the 21st century most of us are ashamed of. You would be hard-pressed to find an informed commentator or military expert who does not believe that the Iraqi war has created many times more terrorists than it ever killed.

According to a Los Angeles Times article, retired General Merrill McPeak, a prominent backer of "Obama for President" said: "If you want to know what kind of commander in chief Barak is going to be, why don't you compare the campaigns that have been run here? Is it a panic situation? Crisis driven? Are you firing people? Are you loaning yourself money?"

General McPeak sums up what I have written in the previous pages with a comment he once made to Senator McCain: "You don't get to be a hero by getting shot down, you get to be a hero by shooting then other fellow down." General George Patton said much the same.