healthcare, politicians, politics

If this story is true, we’re getting even closer to Nazi territory.

This morning, I read a very disturbing article about Irwin County Detention Center, a privately run ICE facility in the U.S. state of Georgia. The center, run by LaSalle Corrections and located in Ocilla, is about 200 miles of Atlanta. It’s in the news because of whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse who worked in the detention facility and observed some horrifying conditions.

Wooten alleges that staff members at the ICE facility are not taking proper precautions against preventing the spread of COVID-19. She claims that cases are being underreported; detainees are not getting proper medical care, nor are they being tested; and, most shocking to me, women are having unwarranted hysterectomies without proper consent. Wooten claims that some women have seen a gynecologist for somewhat minor conditions like heavy menstrual periods, and the physician has been “treating” them by removing their uteri or ovaries.

In a letter she sent to the Inspector General Office at the Department of Homeland Security, Wooten claims that she was asked to triage a man with COVID-19, even though she did not even have a face mask for protection. She also says that warden David Paulk told a staff member not to let anyone know that the man with COVID-19 had tested positive because he “didn’t want people to panic” (where have we heard THAT before)? Wooten reports that nurses were claiming to have seen patients who complained of COVID-19 symptoms when they hadn’t, and that she had actually seen nurses shredding a box of detainee complaints without even looking at them. Two $14,000 rapid testing COVID-19 machines were purchased by ICE for the facility, but Wooten says she only saw them used once. No one was trained to use them.

When Wooten complained to the powers that be at the facility, she lost her full-time position and was demoted to an “on call” job, for which she was only offered a few hours of work per week. Wooten, who suffers from sickle cell anemia and is at an elevated risk for COVID-19 was deliberately exposed to patients who had the virus. Management at Irwin neglected to tell her that detainees she had contact with were symptomatic and, in three cases, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Wooten’s claims were corroborated by other medical staff at Irwin who did not want to be identified because they fear reprisals. It was also verified by people who are currently or had recently been detained at the center. As of Sunday, 42 people at the facility had tested positive for COVID-19, but no precautions were being taken to try to stop the spread of the disease.

Because the first article I saw about this was from Yahoo!, I started checking to see if more reputable sources were sharing this story. Sure enough, I found articles in the Washington Post and the Guardian, as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The emphasis in the other papers seemed to be less focused on the mass hysterectomies.

It’s horrible enough that people are locked up in a prison with no way to protect themselves against a deadly virus that spreads through the air. But what got me to read about what’s happening at the center was a news article from Yahoo! that a friend shared. The headline for that piece was about the forced hysterectomies, rather than COVID-19. That, to me, just screams human rights violation– akin to the horrors of the Holocaust and awful eugenics policies that were carried out in another, somewhat recent, era in the United States. Have we learned NOTHING from our past?

The “doctor” who allegedly did these hysterectomies, along with removing the wrong ovary from one of his patients, rendering her sterile, has not yet been named. I would be interested in hearing his explanation as to why he’s doing these operations, especially since the women are apparently not being informed of the purpose of doing them or the risks. While it would be easy for me to conclude that he’s doing these procedures to prevent the women from having “anchor babies” (and he probably is), I would love to hear that there’s a reasonable explanation. The doctor who is performing the hysterectomies is being referred to as a “uterus collector”. To me, this practice conjures up an image not unlike veterinarians who desex animals and release them to the streets so they are rendered unable to breed. Maybe that makes sense when the subject is feral cats. It does not make sense when human beings are involved. Again… it reminds me of the dreadful eugenics programs that ran in my home state of Virginia as recently as the 1970s.

I doubt I will ever hear a reasonable explanation for the gynecologist’s practice of doing the mass hysterectomies. I’ll bet he’d say he’s somehow doing those women a “favor”– or, at least he’s doing the United States a favor by not allowing them to have babies that would be U.S. citizens. It seems to me that ever since Donald Trump took office, people who hate others based on their skin color or country of origin are incredibly emboldened to carry out barbaric acts motivated by their ignorance and hatred. These racists don’t see immigrants or migrants as fellow human beings. Instead, it’s more like they see them as akin to vermin who need to be exterminated, or at least no longer able to “breed”, a positively disgusting and horrifying mindset.

My heart goes out to the women who have permanently been rendered sterile because they had the grave misfortune of landing in the detention center in Georgia. Even if they are locked up for justifiable cause– not just because they were born in the wrong place and rounded up by ICE– there is no excuse for the cruelty that has been alleged by Dawn Wooten. I am also very sorry for everyone else who is incarcerated in that facility, completely helpless to protect themselves against what could be for many of them, a deadly virus and a potential death sentence. They must be terrified.

I think a lot of us are terrified right now. Yesterday, Forbes.com ran a story about Donald Trump saying that he will “negotiate a third term, because he’s entitled to it.” Clearly, Trump has not read the Constitution, but many of his supporters harp about that sacred paper whenever they justify voting for him. Their fervor seems to be mostly about their right to bear arms, which is, indeed, the Second Amendment. The rest of the Constitution apparently matters much less to them, as well as the humane and freedom loving image that Americans have always tried to disseminate, at least for as long as I’ve been living.

Four years ago, I might have laughed off Trump’s comments about a potential third term, which I hope will be rendered moot when he’s soundly defeated in November. But now that I’ve seen how much he admires dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, I find it terrifying that Trump is in office NOW, and that people are still championing him. Many of the people championing him are folks that I love and respect, but I feel very certain that they are going to be on the wrong side of history. They don’t seem to understand that Trump is not just a political joke. He’s done some real damage that will take many years to undo… and that’s if COVID-19 or the many natural disasters we’re facing don’t wipe out civilization. I worry that when the inevitable end of his tenancy in the White House comes, there will be actual bloodshed.

Anyway… I remember the days when I truly believed that the United States was the “best” country in the world. I don’t believe that anymore. In fact, I find myself feeling more and more empathy for refugees who feel forced to flee their homelands. I know my situation is not nearly as dire as theirs is, at least right now, but I do feel like I have an inkling. I really don’t think that fearing another four years of Trump is an overreaction. To me, it looks like he’s destroying the country and maybe even parts of the world. I can only hope that one of those Big Macs he’s always shoveling in his big maw causes him to have a massive stroke… preferably on live TV. But aside from that, I fear that there are worse people than Trump waiting in the wings, ready to pick up where he will inevitably leave off… whether by defeat, death, being being forcibly dragged out of the White House by a coup.

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book reviews, narcissists, politicians, politics

Reviewing Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man…

I decided not to write a new post this morning because I was eager to finish reading Mary Trump’s brand new book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. Released a couple of weeks ago, slightly ahead of schedule, this book, written by Mary Trump, the daughter of Donald Trump’s older brother, Freddy, was bound to be a fascinating page turner. Having just finished reading this afternoon, I can confirm that this book is quite a shocker for those who don’t know anything about malignant narcissists. Unfortunately, for those of us who have been exposed to malignant narcissists, it just confirms what we already know about 45.

Although I have not been compulsively reading all of the books that have come out about Donald Trump, I did decide that I wanted to read Mary Trump’s book. Why? Because not only is she Trump’s niece, she’s also a doctoral level psychologist, having earned a Ph.D. in psychology from Adelphi University. As a trained clinical psychologist, she’s surely run into her share of narcissists… and one of the most famous and most toxic of them is her uncle, her father’s younger brother, Donald John Trump, who happens to be the POTUS right now. Hopefully, Americans have come to their senses and will do their part to get him out of the White House in November. This is a very serious situation. If he’s not voted out, I truly fear for the future of the United States.

Before Mary Trump became a psychologist, she studied English. She has a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and a master’s degree in English from Columbia University. So, not only does she know about psychology, she also knows how to write. And although lately it’s been my habit to fall asleep when I read, I did find her account of growing up Trump a real page turner.

Just in case anyone is wondering, yes, Mary Trump voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. She was despondent when her uncle became POTUS, knowing that he was in no way fit for the job. And yes, she does an excellent job explaining how and why Donald Trump should have never been considered presidential material. But she also explains how and why he ended up in the position he’s in. This is a man who has lived a life like the emperor who got new/no clothes. He’s been enabled by people his whole life, and they have contributed to his grand delusions that are so harmful because they alter his judgment and make him blind to reality. Most of all, he simply doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about anything but money and his own interests.

I’ve looked at a few of the reviews on Amazon. Many of them are positive, because a lot of people are bright enough to see why Trump is terrible for America, but they also recognize that Mary Trump’s book is a very good read because it offers a unique look at who Trump is through the eyes of one of his relatives… who also happens to be a trained clinical psychologist. The negative reviews, not surprisingly, are dismissive, not very insightful, and clearly written by dyed in the wool Trumpers. For instance, here’s the best rated positive review.

Now, have a look at the “most helpful” negative review…

I don’t know who “Sheryl” is, but she clearly admires people who are abusive sociopaths and doesn’t recognize a harmful person when she sees one. And sadly, she has a lot of company.

Mary Trump starts at the beginning, as she explains how it is that a German couple originally from Kallstadt, in the Kingdom of Bavaria (now part of the Palatinate, located about an hour from where we currently live) wound up in the United States. Friedrich Trump came to the United States at the age of 16 because he didn’t want to do military service for Germany (sounds like someone else we know). He worked hard in the United States and made some money, then went back to Kallstadt, married his wife, Elizabeth Christ, and took her back to the United States, where they had a daughter named Elizabeth.

When Friedrich’s wife, Elizabeth, missed home, they tried to move back to Germany, but Bavarian officials stripped Friedrich of his citizenship because he had not done his military duty. The young Trump family, with Elizabeth then four months pregnant with Donald Trump’s father, Fred, moved back to the USA. Fred Trump and his younger brother, John, were born in New York in 1905 and 1907 respectively. John Trump went on to become a famous scientist. Fred Trump, born with a head for business, went into the real estate game with his mother, Elizabeth, after Friedrich Trump died of Spanish Flu in 1918.

According to Mary Trump, Elizabeth Trump was ruthless, and had a thirst for making money, which she shared with her older son, Fred. In fact, for all of the contempt the Trump name has, I have the sense that it was really Fred Trump’s mother who started the chain of fuckery that has resulted in Donald Trump being the 45th president of the United States. Trump’s paternal grandmother was also a piece of work.

Fred’s wife, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump, came from the scenic Isle of Lewis in Scotland. She’d come to America because all of the young men in her small town had gone off to fight in World War I. The ones who weren’t killed were coming home by sea when, just a mile off the coast of the harbor, their ship hit rocks and sank. Most of the people on board died, and Mary’s family told her that if she wanted to get married, she’d need to leave town. She went to America to work in the homes of wealthy people and, perhaps, find a man to marry and have children with someday. She met Fred Trump, and instead of being hired help, she was the lady of the house. But that didn’t stop her mother-in-law, Elizabeth, from coming over wearing white gloves to check on Mary’s housekeeping (there must be something in the Bavarian water).

Fred and Mary went on to have two daughters and three sons. Their eldest son, Frederick (known as Freddy), was Mary’s father. He had married Linda Clapp, who was a flight attendant for TWA (Trans World Airlines). Freddy Trump had very briefly been a pilot for TWA, going against his very overbearing father’s wishes and not going into the family business. Because he made the decision to try to live his life on his own terms, Fred Trump treated his namesake like shit. And Donald Trump, his second eldest son and fourth child, stepped into the role as heir apparent.

In gripping prose, Mary Trump explains how Fred, and to a lesser extent, Mary Anne MacLeod Trump treated her father, who died of alcoholism at age 42. She also explains how she and her brother were basically screwed out of their inheritances as they were expected to stay loyal to the family. When Freddy Trump died, apparently so did his children’s connections to the Trump family. Mary and Fritz Trump got medical benefits through the Trump family and their signatures were needed so that Fred Trump’s will could go into probate. But Fred Trump disinherited them. Their father’s twenty percent of the Trump fortune was redistributed to the rest of the family. Why? Because Fred Trump didn’t want Freddy’s ex wife, Linda, to have access to any of the Trump fortune. And the rest of the siblings wanted to cut Mary and Fritz out because– well– they’re greedy people with no empathy.

I wrote a post yesterday about how the Trumps and the Duggars have things in common. Well, Mary Trump pretty much lays it out how family was treated. There was no love or camaraderie in that family– except for money and power. And Donald Trump was basically molded into the monster he is today by his parents, especially his father.

I was shocked by some of the stories… yet I was also not shocked, given that I know the type of person Trump is. This is a family entirely driven by greed– so much so that they didn’t care about each other, let alone people who worked for them, rented from them, or otherwise had business dealings with them. All of their “friends” were people who could do something for them, especially people who had powers that could be exploited legally. For example, Maryanne Trump became a judge, not necessarily because she was a brilliant prosecutor, but because she could help the family out legally. Anyone who didn’t do what Fred Trump wanted them to do was ostracized, yet still expected to be loyal. And those who weren’t loyal were treated with extreme contempt. Sadly, if you want to break free of the Trump cult, you have to expect that you’ll be cast out completely, in all ways. And if they suddenly start being “nice” again, that’s the time to be the most on your guard.

Fred Trump didn’t seem to like anyone… except for Donald, whom he carefully groomed in the ways of screwing over people for his own gain. However– as Mary points out– there is an important distinction between the two men. Fred Trump had a genuine head for business and making money. Donald Trump does not. His father and his father’s powerful friends propped up Donald for many years, bailing him out when his ludicrous business ideas turned to shit.

Trump is now surrounded by yes men and men who are much smarter than he is, yet know how to stroke his ego to get exactly what they want. His ego takes precedence over everything, which is why he is unfit to be the president. He doesn’t care about running the country. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. And people like Vladimir Putin and Mitch McConnell are know what to say and do to get Trump to do what they want.

Both Fred Trump and Donald Trump like young women. Even into his 90s, Fred Trump made a habit out of carrying around a photo of a half naked girl who may very well have been younger than 18. Likewise, Trump enjoys young, beautiful women… and won’t hesitate to “grab ’em by the pussy” if they let him.

I have never made it a secret that I despise Donald Trump. For me, it was very easy to see why he was not fit to be dog catcher, let alone president. But Mary Trump’s book lays it out in black and white and confirms a lot of what I know, but also includes some passages that were eerie, because they were the same kinds of things Bill heard from his narcissistic ex wife and a narcissistic colonel with whom he went to war and who was later very publicly and well-deservedly fired for abusing troops. Toward the end of the book, as Mary Trump was winding up her conclusion, I read a passage aloud to Bill. It was about how Donald Trump has “suffered” and how, if you want to be in his good graces, you’d better agree that he’s “suffered”, or he will do his best to get revenge. It was the same kind of shit he heard from his ex wife and his wartime boss, both very damaged souls indeed. But Ex and former boss are not running the country… and really, neither is Donald Trump. He is just filling the POTUS role until we get someone more competent in charge.

Seriously… I know many people have fallen hook, line, and sinker for Trump’s bullshit. I think they will very extremely embarrassed in the future. It will be akin to being a Hitler supporter. And they won’t want to read Mary Trump’s book, because they think she’s just bitter, jealous, and petty. But, I promise you… if you know anything about narcissists, the behaviors she writes of are uncannily similar. These folks seem to have the same playbook. They’re bullies with no imagination, and no souls.

One last thing… I found Mary Trump’s book interesting for an unrelated personal reason. It turns out Fred Trump was a big fan of Norman Vincent Peale’s. It so happens that Norman Vincent Peale’s son, John Peale, taught me philosophy at Longwood University. I recently reposted a review I wrote of John Peale’s book about being raised by his famous father. I did not have a good experience in John Peale’s class, although apparently, before he experienced serious health problems, Dr. Peale was a much beloved professor at Longwood. When I had him, I didn’t even know who Norman Vincent Peale was, and I never found out until a friend, whose parents also loved Norman Vincent Peale’s books, told me who he was. Anyway, Norman Vincent Peale’s famous advice was to think and be positive. Mary Trump called him a “charlatan”. I don’t know that I’d go that far… but apparently, she’s bitter about Peale because Fred Trump took his advice to heart and “thinking positive” was Fred Trump’s answer for everything. And “thinking positive” is not always going to work. Sometimes, you have to face reality and do what needs to be done, lest a disaster strike.

I think Trump’s presidency has been one long, horrific, surreal disaster and I hope to God we’re rid of him soon, before he destroys the country. I know some people think that’s hyperbole, but honestly… if you haven’t spent time with a malignant narcissist, you don’t realize just how incredibly destructive they are. And Donald Trump and his ilk are off the charts in being malignant narcissists. So I urge those who want to know more about who Donald Trump is, and how he came to be who he is, to read Mary Trump’s book. She’s not full of shit or affected by “sour grapes”. She’s written the truth.

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Duggars, narcissists, politicians, Trump

What the Trumps and the Duggars seem to have in common…

I’ve been reading Mary Trump’s new tell all book, Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man, all about growing up Donald Trump’s niece. I’m probably about halfway through it at this point. I also fell down a couple of YouTube rabbit holes yesterday. I found this lady’s Duggar centered channel…

Okay… it’s not actually Duggar centered. But she does have a lot of Duggar content.

Without a Crystal Ball is run by a dark-eyed, light-haired woman named Katie Joy. She has videos about a lot of shows, but I found her because she does a lot of Duggar videos. Somehow, YouTube knows I’m a sucker for Duggar videos.

As I was reading more of Mary Trump’s book this morning, it dawned on me. JimBob Duggar is probably a narcissist. So was Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father. So is Donald Trump. You can see by the way these men handle(d) their business that they are extraordinarily controlling, and they think they know more than they actually do. They don’t take counsel from other people, and those who are in their sphere know better than to cross them.

About an hour ago, over breakfast, I read a passage in Mary Trump’s book about how she had wanted to go to boarding school. Mary’s parents, Linda and Freddy Trump, had divorced, but even before their divorce, they were pretty much governed by Fred Trump, right down to Freddy’s being pretty much ostracized and disowned for deciding to be an airline pilot instead of going into the family’s real estate business.

The decision to allow Mary Trump to go to boarding school was to be decided by Fred Trump Sr., not Freddy Trump and his ex wife, who were Mary’s parents. Freddy served as a living warning to Fred and Mary Trump’s other children, not to cross Daddy. Freddy managed to get his father to consent to allowing Mary to go to boarding school (which was paid for with Freddy’s trust fund). The day before she was to go off to school, Mary went to her grandparents’ house to say goodbye to her dad. He was staying with his parents because, since the failure of his career as a pilot and disastrous stint in the real estate biz, Freddy had become an alcoholic. The alcoholism was so bad that it had destroyed his health. He got very sick and, with nowhere else to go, was forced to live in his old childhood bedroom.

When Mary reached the familiar back door to her grandparents’ house, she was greeted by her grandmother, who said her father wasn’t there. She was acting awkward and weird. Mary noticed, but didn’t press. Grandma Trump said she’d have him call her. Freddy never did call. Two weeks later, Mary was told she needed to call home. Her grandfather basically told her nothing was wrong and that she should call in the morning. Not believing her grandfather, Mary called her mom, who told her the sad news that Freddy had died of a heart attack at age 42.

When it came time to bury Freddy, Mary tried to let her elders know of her father’s final wishes. He had not wanted to be buried, and was very adamant about that. She had also wanted to see her dad before he was cremated. Not only was Mary denied the right to see her dad one last time, but after he was cremated, Fred Trump buried the ashes, despite Freddy’s wishes not to be buried. And when it came time to distribute his personal effects, Mary got nothing. Her brother, Fritz, got Freddy’s Timex watch.

So what does this story by Mary Trump have to do with the Duggars? Well… I have heard and read from many sources that Duggar kids go against their father’s wishes at great risk. Derick Dillard has gone against JimBob quite publicly and he and Jill quit Counting On, and Jeremy Vuolo has whisked Jinger away to Los Angeles. Sources reveal that both couples are a bit on the outs with Boob. Jill and Derick, for instance, are not allowed to go to the Tinker Toy Mansion without JimBob’s permission or presence. Jill had once been Daddy’s “favorite”. Now, she’s an outcast, but it looks like she’s embracing a more mainstream lifestyle. Same thing with Jinger. However, it appears that freedom comes with great cost.

I think Derick Dillard may contribute to Boob’s inevitable downfall.

If you’ve been reading my blogs over the years, you know that my husband was kept from seeing his daughters for many years, due to their narcissistic mother’s insistence that they disown him. In March of this year, Bill finally saw his younger daughter. It had been fifteen years, and younger daughter, now 26 years old, is finally able to make her own decisions. She seems to have come to terms with the idea that if she wants to live her own life, she may have to do so without contact with her siblings who are still on their mother’s side.

This is a common tactic narcissists use to stay in control of their relatives and others who are close to them. They handle the money, the major decisions, and set things up so that if you go against their wishes, disaster will strike. Or, even if disaster doesn’t have to strike, they train their relatives so that it seems like there will be a disaster that will befall anyone who leaves the fold. It’s not unlike being in a cult. That perception of impending doom can be very powerful. It takes a lot of courage and will to leave a narcissistic family system. It basically means you have to strike out on your own. And if you come from a really powerful family and have limited access to money or transportation, that can be an extremely daunting task.

In Freddy Trump’s case, being Fred Trump’s son meant that he couldn’t get loans, because his father was buddies with all of the powers that be at the local banks. That meant that instead of buying himself a nice house in Long Island, he was forced to live in a shitty, slummy apartment building owned by his father, that his father refused to fix. It meant that instead of doing the work he wanted to do, Freddy Trump was forced to work for his father, doing work that didn’t interest him. The hopelessness of it, along with those Scottish genetics from his mother, probably contributed to his severe alcoholism and eventual early death.

Jim Bob Duggar is probably not as powerful as Fred or Donald Trump, but he does have a lot of power. He owns many properties in Arkansas, has plenty of lawyers and money to pay them, and has trained an army of children, over half of whom are now young, healthy, strong adults. He also has their spouses, many of whom were kind of brokered into the Duggar family by their parents. It takes a certain type of person to marry a Duggar child… someone who will toe the line.

However, it’s plain that Boob failed to notice that Derick and Jeremy, and probably Austin Forsyth (Joy Anna’s husband), aren’t going to take his shit forever. But JimBob clearly sees as people in his family as slaves. He tries to “own” them. I can see that getting out of his clutches isn’t an easy endeavor, especially as the adult children have children of their own. Those children and their total dependence on their parents make it much harder for the Duggar adults to escape Boob’s narcissistic clutches and strike out on their own. There are a few exceptions, though. I think John David pretty much tells his dad to buzz off when he feels like it.

I’m mostly enjoying Mary Trump’s book… some of it is very sad, though. I get the sense that the malevolent streak in the Trump family doesn’t even so much come from Friedrich Trump, who ironically died in the last major world pandemic, back in 1918. He got Spanish Flu. It seems to me that the real culprit of the Trump nastiness came from Fred Trump’s mother, Elizabeth Christ Trump. She was the one who really got the business going, and, according to Mary Trump, she treated Fred’s Scottish wife, Mary, like dirt.

I’m sure it was tough for Mary Trump to decide to write this book. She basically reveals her family’s dysfunction for all that it is. Her Uncle Donald is, for now, one of the most powerful men on the planet, and he is royally fucking things up. It’s probably very embarrassing for her. She seems like a good and decent person with empathy and, in fact, it appears that most of the Trumps aren’t terrible people… just a few of them who have that malevolent, narcissistic streak that compels them to enslave and exploit people. I’m sure that Mary Trump might even fear for her safety after having written her book. I think she was brave to do it.

Likewise, I hope Derick Dillard or Jill, or someone else in the Duggar family spills the tea about JimBob. But then, I have seen his type enough times to recognize the behavior. I know he’s a narcissist and that his family members are mostly neatly under his thumb. I even remember someone on their reality show– can’t remember which one– saying that you don’t say no to JimBob. If you do, you might live to regret it. He’s a bully.

As for Without A Crystal Ball… I don’t know if I’ll keep watching her videos. I just happened to stumble across them a couple of days ago and they fit with today’s post. Hopefully, I’ll be able to review Mary Trump’s book soon.

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karma, politicians, politics, Trump

Trump’s decision to move troops out of Germany…

Have you ever heard the expression “Even a broken clock is correct at least twice a day?” Well… that’s kind of how I was feeling yesterday when I heard the news that Donald Trump plans to move about 12,000 troops out of Germany.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the idea of him reducing the number of troops here in Deutschland. I think it’s a petty and short-sighted plan, and I kind of hope it goes down in flames, along with his bid for re-election. But I must admit I was a little bit tickled to hear the news yesterday. As I read about the people who would most be affected by this plan, I realized that Stuttgart is going to be the most affected of all of the areas in Germany.

European Command (EUCOM) and Africa Command (AFRICOM) are both outfits that Bill has worked for in the past. They are both located in Stuttgart, and they employ thousands of American people. If those two commands are moved out of Stuttgart, that will mean that there will be significantly fewer American military folks and civilians in Stuttgart. The military folks who are based there with the remaining tenants will probably almost all end up living on the installations, and the number of civilians who are ineligible to live on the installations, but need a place to live, will be in shorter supply.

Stuttgart has four local installations, one of which is entirely used for housing. So moving EUCOM and AFRICOM would mean that most people who are in the military, working in Stuttgart, will not need to rent accommodations on the economy. What few American civilians remain will be in far shorter supply than usual, and that will mean they’ll probably rent places closer to their workplaces, and more will be available to them, because of the decreased demand. It could mean rental prices will be forced down, and many fewer landlords will have the opportunity to blatantly rip off “ignorant Americans” of their deposits when they move out of their rental properties. I understand that practice among some landlords is at an epidemic level down there.

Now… this plan of Trump’s is hardly engraved in stone. Whether or not it happens as he envisions it will depend on if he’s re-elected and if he literally survives after he’s re-elected, as more and more government representatives are testing positive for COVID-19 and telling their staffers about it in person. It’s also going to be very expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome undertaking to initiate this plan. Housing and other infrastructure will have to be constructed in the areas in which he wants to move troops. Italy and Belgium, by the way, pay even less toward their own defense than Germany does, so his complaints about Germany not paying its share of defense expenses, while basically true, are kind of based in bullshit. Is he going to demand that Italy and Belgium pay up, too? I doubt it. I think Trump is simply holding a grudge, and/or doing Putin’s bidding. I also doubt either Italy or Belgium is especially interested in having more Americans living there.

Germans seem less interested in seeing Americans leave. It’s true… we’ve been here a long time and we pump money into the economy and add security against Russia (although Trump is awfully cozy with Putin). The infrastructure is already here and we already have a longstanding relationship with Germans.

Our landlord has approached Bill on multiple occasions, wanting to know what our plans are. In fact, when we went to Poland a few months ago, he thought we were going there to house hunt. Nope… it was just for a conference and I tagged along because it was our wedding anniversary. I wouldn’t be averse to living in Poland, Italy, Belgium, or Spain, but I like Germany very much, and I’m not particularly hoping for a move anytime soon. At the very least, I’d like to stay out of the United States because I don’t wish to catch the coronavirus.

Besides… these things take time, especially when the world is ever changing. I know that RAF Mildenhall in England, which is where my father did his last assignment in the 1970s, has been slated for closure since 2015. It was supposed to shut down in 2020. Then they pushed it to 2023. Guess what. It’s still up and running. At this point, they’re predicting it will close in 2027. I won’t hold my breath.

Fortunately, it appears that not only is Bill doing good work in Wiesbaden, but none of the groups based in Wiesbaden were mentioned as areas where troops would be cut. So our current landlord, at least for now, can rest easy. Stuttgart area landlords who especially prefer renting to Americans, however, might soon have some cause for concern, especially since some of the moves may be happening within the coming weeks. Some of them might want to re-evaluate the way they do business or, perhaps, get out of the business of renting to “cash cow” Americans affiliated with the military for good. I know of at least one person who should really consider that option.

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book reviews, politicians, politics

Repost: A review of Omarosa’s Unhinged… the truth about Trump?

This book review appeared on my original blog in 2018. I am reposting it here as/is.

I never watched Donald Trump on television when he was the star of The Apprentice.  I distinctly remember hearing about the show, which famously featured Omarosa Manigault Newman during its first season.  The year was 2004 and Omarosa, as she is popularly known, was well-known for being extremely ambitious and shrewd.  I remember being a member of a certain Web site for second wives and stepmothers and there were a lot of people on the site who watched Omarosa compete.  They mostly referred to her as a bitch, which I wouldn’t necessarily condone.

Omarosa was interviewed on NBC’s Today Show. It might be worth watching this if only because Omarosa basically tells Savannah Guthrie to shut up on more than one occasion. Bravo.

Fast forward twelve years.  It’s 2016 and Omarosa, who by that time had also been on a couple of other Trump affiliated shows, is back in the news.  Trump is running for president.  He had asked Omarosa to serve as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison.  Not one to turn down a challenge of such magnitude, Omarosa accepted.  For almost a year, she worked in the White House and went from being one of Trump’s fans to one of his biggest foes.  Yes, Omarosa is very ambitious, self-serving, shrewd, and manipulative… and she’s just the woman to take on Trump and his criminal gang. 

Like I said, I wasn’t one of Omarosa’s fans before I read her book, Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House, which was released in August 2018.  Yes, I had heard about her reputation, but I really didn’t know much about her besides that.  I never used to read about politics or politicians, but Trump’s comments about what was in Omarosa’s book was enough to make me want to read it.  I had real fears that somehow Trump would get the book banned or something. 

So I just finished reading the book this afternoon and I decided to review it while the details are fresh in my mind.  The first thing I’m going to say about Unhinged is that it’s surprisingly interesting and well written.  I don’t see a ghostwriter credited for this book, so I can only assume Ms. Manigault Newman wrote it herself.  If that’s the case, I will be among those who offer her congratulations.  Not only was it written well, it’s also surprisingly even-handed, especially given Omarosa’s reputation for being a “bitch”.  She didn’t completely trash Trump or his minions and freely admits that she was once as big a booster for him as anyone was.  She even considered him a friend for a long time and never thought of him as racist or even sexist.  She doesn’t apologize for wanting to climb the ladder of success and playing hardball with the “big boys”.  But I didn’t get the sense that Omarosa was completely amoral, nor did she come across as extremely bitter.  

While working in the White House, Omarosa made some secret recordings of conversations, some of which she released prior to and after she released her book.  She claims there are witnesses that can confirm the existence of tapes on which Trump repeatedly drops the n-bomb.  Omarosa also claims that she was offered a $15,000 a month job working in Trump’s re-election campaign, after she was unceremoniously fired in the “situation room” at the White House by John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff.  She claims the job offer was an attempt to keep her quiet.  After she turned down the job, she was sent threatening letters by Trump’s lawyers, again to keep her from speaking out about what she saw and heard in the White House.

I have to admit that Omarosa kind of won me over, despite her reputation for being ruthless.  From the get go, she fully admits that a lot of people don’t like her, mainly based on her reputation.  She only asks that her readers give her a chance and “hear her out”.  She starts at the beginning, describing her very hardscrabble upbringing in Ohio.  Both her father and brother were murdered.  Her father died when she was just a young girl.  She had one failed marriage and another relationship that ended when her betrothed suddenly died of a heart attack.  She’s also suffered a miscarriage.  Somehow, she’s managed to maintain her faith in a higher power and is now working as a pastor, along with her husband, John Newman.  Not that her work as a pastor necessarily means that she’s a decent person, of course.  There are plenty of religious types who are actually crooks.  But I kind of admire Omarosa’s chutzpah and resilience, even if there’s any truth to the rumors that she’s ruthless.

Naturally, Donald Trump and his minions claim that this book is full of lies.  I would expect Trump and his posse to make such claims, though I don’t believe most of what Trump says.  He’s a proven liar.  I don’t know if Omarosa’s account is entirely truthful, but I will state that I didn’t find it to be outrageously unfair.  Regardless, it was surprisingly interesting to read and rather juicy, complete with anecdotes about Trump’s relationships with Melania Trump and Ivanka Trump that will raise eyebrows.  I will also say this– while I don’t think Melania is half as accomplished as she claims to be, I do think she despises her husband.  Omarosa also thinks so.  I expect that once Trump’s stint in Washington, DC is blessedly over, they will be divorcing.  I also agree with Omarosa that Mike Pence as president would be worse than Trump as president.  I’d really like to flush the whole lot of this administration down the toilet.

Anyway… I rather enjoyed Unhinged.  I fully expect that some people will give it low ratings simply because they refuse to see the truth about Trump.  I’m guessing that most of those people won’t even bother to read the book– some because they can’t be bothered and some because it’s written at a level higher than they can comprehend.  I won’t say Omarosa’s book is completely objective or scholarly, but it is well written, entertaining, and probably more truthful than many people would like to admit.  I probably wouldn’t necessarily want to be friends with Omarosa, but I appreciate her book… and I hope it helps change hearts and minds for the better.  If I were rating it, I’d give it four stars out of five.

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