Well, maybe you don’t know what that means… But many of the people who read this blog every day, follow me on Facebook. And if you follow me on Facebook, you know that I’ve been waiting all week for this day. Friday means Mr. Bill is coming home.
Bill has been looking forward to coming home as much as I’ve been waiting for him to get here. This particular business trip has been especially onerous for him, because he’s had to work overnights. He isn’t a night person at all. So I know he will be very glad to come back to the land of daylight… although it probably means he’ll have to recover all weekend.
I’m beginning to wonder if maybe it’s not time for Bill to change jobs. I think we’re both tired of the constant trips to Bavaria. But then I realize that what made this particular trip so tough is a pretty rare thing for him. Most of the business trips he does don’t require him to work overnights. He also gets paid very well to do what he does, and we aren’t in a hurry to move again. So, I guess we’ll suck it up… or, I will. Unless, of course, Bill decides he’s ready for a different position. For now, I probably should just focus on next month’s planned trip, which we are eagerly anticipating.
I haven’t been following the news much over the past few days, although I have heard some reactions to Trump’s “town hall” on CNN. Naturally, the press has been negative, as people are apparently just now waking up to the fact that Trump is a lying fascist who delights in molesting women. Some of us have known about this for years, though, and I didn’t need to sit through Trump on television to know what he is. I watched Beau of the Fifth Column’s video about the fiasco yesterday, and he pretty much called out Trump’s base…
The problem is, Donald Trump is not someone who takes direction. If he gets back in office, he will have no reason to rein in his worst impulses. It will be even more difficult to get him to leave, if he manages to survive the term. And the worst people will be championing him, which will be absolutely terrible for the country.
I’d like to think that we won’t make the same mistake twice and vote in the lying orange turd. But in 2016, I didn’t think he’d win, and he did. So I can’t relax, even though it does seem like more people have awakened to what a joke he is.
The other night, when I talked to my mom, she brought up Trump and, once again, reminded me how fortunate we are to not be in the United States right now. She said it’s really bad there. Even so, there’s a part of me that does want to go home, if only to see a few people I love. We were both happy that a jury held Trump responsible for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll. But of course, Trump will appeal, and his base are mostly disgusting people who refuse to see what is obvious, and/or just plain don’t care.
Looks like Anderson Cooper is doing damage control…
It sickens me that Republicans… so many of whom I know are not terrible people… are going to vote for this fucking asshole. It’s absolutely outrageous. I get being conservative, but PLEASE… let’s get someone decent to run. Let’s have someone who isn’t such a liar, abuser, and wannabe dictator. And no, I don’t mean Ron DeSantis. The United States is a huge country with so many educated people, some of whom have charisma. There’s got to be SOMEONE who can be president, other than Trump. He’s just a vile, despicable turd. We don’t need to re-elect an election denying insurrectionist to the White House. Let’s drop kick this piece of crap back to Florida, where he belongs.
Anyway… there’s no sense in getting too riled up about this, since there’s nothing I can do. Best to just be glad it’s Friday, and I won’t be hanging out alone tonight. I might even fall off the wagon again. We are having a wine stand tonight in our Dorfplatz, after all.
And before I get too cranked up with this post, allow me to add, I do understand that for some people, that extra $40 really does make a difference. I’ve been broke myself. I know that when you don’t make a lot of money, what seems like a piddly amount to people who are better off can be very significant. However… sometimes, people really can’t see the forest for the trees.
A few days ago, Donald Trump got indicted following an investigation into a hush money payment scheme. I know that there was a lot of speculation as this occurrence approached. People wondered how Trump’s most rabid supporters would react. So far, it doesn’t seem like people have gone too nuts yet. Honestly, I think a lot of Trump’s supporters have been quietly shutting the F up, because they’re finally seeing the man for the repulsive creep he is. But a few folks still haven’t gotten the picture.
A friend of mine who teaches school in North Carolina has made no secret of how she feels about Trump. Like me, she can’t stand him. And she was celebrating his indictment on her Facebook page. Most of her friends were celebrating with her, but you know… there’s always one in EVERY crowd.
A male friend of hers bitterly posted this. “Hillary and the rest are next.”
He also added sulky comments to people who were making fun of Trump, insisting that Joe Biden is SO MUCH WORSE! He started his own comment thread on my friend’s post, writing this: “I can’t believe there are people this dumb still out there.”
It was obvious this guy was in a confrontational mood and needed to talk about his dismay. He’s still stubbornly clinging to lies, and can’t seem to join us in the sunlight of reality. My friend is a very compassionate person, so she finally addressed her butt hurt friend. She wrote:
“I know, right? Some people actually still support him. Unbelievable for sure!”
Obviously, that was not the response Mr. Butt Hurt was hoping for, so he responded in three comments that I have consolidated:
“…some people support this idiot we have now with dementia. Definitely unbelievable. …hey. But he’s good at making up new words. …and I also suppose you support a President that cheats on his wife in the White House.”
It’s really not cool for people to unofficially diagnose others with dementia. That’s not a laughing matter. When I see people casually saying that Biden has dementia, it automatically makes me think that they’re shitty people. But that’s just my own opinion.
My friend reasonably explained, “has nothing to do with support or lack thereof for any other politicians. It’s about this lifelong bully finally facing some consequences for his actions.”
And then comes Mr. Butt Hurt again with this comment… “best economy we had in a long time.” and this follow on, “have you ever heard Biden speak. He’s just as bullish.”
First off, I don’t think “bullish” is the same as “bully”. Secondly, I’d be pretty leery of a “great economy” created at the hands of an obvious con artist and fraudster. To me, that’s just common sense. Even if the money generated during Trump’s brief time in the White House was legitimate, I know it couldn’t and wouldn’t last. Why? Because Donald Trump isn’t interested in seeing YOU become richer and more powerful. He wants EVERYTHING for himself!
So, even if you temporarily get that extra $40 in your paycheck that helps you fill your gas tank so you can get to your second job, it won’t last. Eventually, and gradually (or as gradual as he can afford to be, as he inexorably ages, and gets closer to a plot in the family graveyard), Trump will be claiming what’s yours and mine. That’s what narcissists do. What’s his is his, and what’s yours is also his. Anyone who has spent time around narcissists knows this. And unlike Biden’s so-called “dementia”, Trump’s narcissism is extremely obvious.
My compassionate friend wrote, “did you not read what I just posted? This is not about Biden or Hillary or Clinton or any other politician.”
And Mr. Butt Hurt responded: “you just don’t like Trump. I don’t have to like someone to know when they were doing a good job. I didn’t like Trump the person. But I sure as hell liked this economy and gas prices when he was in there!”
Then, he added “is this economy better? If you say yes, you have to quit watching CNN and the View.”
Again… I strongly suspect that those byproducts of Trump’s seagull leadership style were temporary and not genuine. Because if Trump had won a second stint in the White House, what would be his motivation for keeping the economy strong? He’d have four more years as a “lame duck” president to do whatever the fuck he wanted and work on changing the laws so he could stay in power. I know Trump famously stated that the White House is a “dump”, but he sure loved the power that came from being the commander in chief. And to guys like him, that power is so hard to give up. It’s like a heroin addict trying to go straight.
As for the second comment… well, isn’t that typical of some of the Trump supporters, assuming that people who don’t like Trump are people who watch CNN and and The View? God forbid they realize that people can come to these conclusions without being spoon fed by the media. Some of us are reading and observing, rather than watching daytime TV or mainstream news. However, in spite of my just typing what I typed, I’ll bet Mr. Butt Hurt is a Fox News fan.
I finally couldn’t take it anymore, so I commented: “It’s too bad money is all that matters to some people.”
And I know… when you have no money, that extra $40 can make you feel “rich”. I don’t think Mr. Butt Hurt is in the category of voters who really needs an extra $40, but his response to me was this…
“well it is nice to be able to buy things.”
Now THAT is a very interesting response indeed. It pretty much sums things up nicely, doesn’t it? He’s more concerned about being able to “buy things” than having a respectable, decent, law abiding person serving as a world leader. He uses his ability to buy things as a gauge as to whether or not a president has done a “good job.” I’ll bet Mr. Butt Hurt is against abortion, too, and blames “irresponsible, slutty” women for the situation they find themselves in when they “get themselves pregnant”. And, in case it’s not obvious, the quote marks mean that that is not my actual view. Mr. Butt Hurt wants to be able to buy his new garden hose with ease… or remodel his deck.
Who cares about people who are rounded up by ICE and separated from their families for weeks? Why worry about people who are marginalized because of who they love, how they identify themselves, or how they dress? Why concern oneself with cronyism, obvious lying, cheating, and stealing, thug like behavior, alienating of our allies, and pandering to wannabe world dictators like Vladimir Putin? Trump will sell us out to the highest bidder and reap all of the profits. He’d love to be the king of the United States, with all of his supporters doing his bidding to make us look like a backwater banana republic. And he’d love to have a harem of beautiful women he can kiss and grab by the pussy at will. This is the type of unhinged, depraved individual that Trump is. Many of us can finally see it, but some folks are still clinging to that extra $40 and $1.89 gas, and the futile hope of their quick return.
Now, I’m not saying the Democrats don’t have their problems. I think there are a lot of dirty people in politics. And I am not saying Joe Biden is the best president we’ve ever had. Our stock portfolio has taken a hit, too. And I’m not even saying that Biden doesn’t have his own issues with invading people’s spaces. In fact, just this morning, I see in my Facebook memories from 2019 that people were speaking out about his penchant for “Eskimo kisses”. I agree– unwanted physical touching isn’t okay, particularly when it can be construed as sexual. BUT… I find it hard to get too outraged over Eskimo kisses when Trump has a long history of actually molesting women AND bragging about it! To me, not having a man like that as my leader is worth not having that extra $40… or, in the case of our stock portfolio, that extra $15k or so.
There are certain minimum standards that I think we should expect in a world leader of a modern, powerful nation. For instance, a leader should be level headed, intelligent, and fair minded. A leader should be law abiding. A leader should be able to stop themselves from saying things that are inflammatory or defamatory. And a leader should be able to keep his hands to himself. Hell… I’d just like to have a leader who seems to have learned the basic decorum we all learn in kindergarten. I’m sorry to say, Donald Trump demonstrates very few of those skills. When I look at him or listen to him speak, all I hear is “Mine, MINE, MINE!!!”
And when I read comments from people like Mr. Butt Hurt, I hear someone who admires that in a president, just so they can “buy things”. To hell with any other concerns the rest of us might have.
Ah, January 3, 2023… You know what that means, right? Christmas and New Year’s are now history. My trees are still up. I often leave them up until Epiphany, not because I’m particularly religious, but more because I hate the process of de-Christmasfying my house, both because it’s hard work, and because it’s sad to see the lights go. I like how the trees make our living room look more lived in and homey. I’ve slowly been taking Christmas stuff downstairs to the basement, but I know that very soon, I’ll be hauling the boxes up to the living room and dismantling the whole thing. Sad…
You know what else is kind of “sad”? Hope Hicks and her ilk, bitching about how the horrifying events of January 6, 2021 now make them “unemployable”. Yes, that’s right. CNN has released the contents of an angry text exchange between former Trump White House Aid, Hope Hicks, and Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff, Julie Radford. Hicks, who, in spite of her bad decision to work for Trump, is almost surely not someone with intellectual disabilities, was “mad and upset” because the insurrection hurt her professionally.
On January 6, 2021, Hicks texted to Radford, “In one day he ended every future opportunity that doesn’t include speaking engagements at the local Proud Boys chapter,” continuing, “And all of us that didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed. I’m so mad and upset. We all look like domestic terrorists now.” Hicks finished her diatribe with, “This made us all unemployable. Like untouchable. God I’m so f***ing mad.”
And Radford’s response was, “I know, like there isn’t a chance of finding a job,” and indicating she already lost a job opportunity from Visa, which sent her a “blow off email.”
I just want to shake these women and remind them that there were many warnings and indications that the events of January 6, 2021 were going to happen. What the hell was she expecting? Did she really think that Trump’s attempted power grab was going to end well? Even if he had managed to stay in power after January 6th, eventually he would have ended up on the wrong side of history. And, as someone who voluntarily worked for him, and was there to hear the warnings about what was planned for January 6th, Hicks is complicit in enabling Trump. She really has no one to blame but herself.
I look at Hope Hicks, and I see a very attractive, young woman who has a lot of things going for her besides her education and experience. In fact, I’ll bet that education and experience weren’t really the qualities that helped her get a job in Trump’s administration. She’s a woman, and we know what Trump thinks of women. He sees them as sex objects.
Fortunately, there were a few people in that administration who could see the writing on the wall. Hicks noted, “Not being dramatic, but we are all fucked. Alyssa looks like a genius,” supposedly referring to Alyssa Farah Griffin, who resigned from her job a month before the insurrection. I believe it was Griffin who helped Cassidy Hutchinson, who also realized too late that working for Donald Trump eventually becomes a serious liability for most people. Hicks was apparently more interested in her career and making money than doing what’s right for the American people. I have no sympathy for her. Cassidy Hutchinson also stuck around the White House too long, but at least she worked with the January 6th committee and shared what she knows. Hope Hicks was apparently just out for herself.
According to the Farron Balanced YouTube channel, Alyssa Farah Griffin basically said that Ivanka Trump was “worse than useless” in the White House. Because not only did Ivanka not try to temper her father’s worst impulses, but she also didn’t do a damned thing to mitigate his decisions. And neither did Hope Hicks, who was thought to be able to convince Trump to be a better human.
I seriously wonder, though… do these people have any common sense? They work in politics, and have surely been around people who won’t hesitate to shaft them. I think they could all use a course in psychology, so they might learn a thing or two about narcissistic personality disorder. While I obviously can’t diagnose Trump with anything, to me it’s very clear that he’s pretty much off the charts in terms of his narcissistic tendencies. He doesn’t do anything for anyone who can’t do something for him. And his desires and needs will ALWAYS come first. So of course she was going to be screwed over. Even if he’d stayed in office, she would only be as good as her last “good deed” for Trump’s agenda. Hicks didn’t see this when she worked for him? Was she blind?
Bill and I were talking about this situation over breakfast. My husband, who is always so kind and empathic, said “Yes, it’s stupid that she wound up in that situation, but I can empathize. I know firsthand how easy it is to be blinded by this type of person.”
It’s true that Bill was married to a narcissist, and he went to war with one. And he soon learned that these very damaged people will never do anything for anyone that doesn’t somehow benefit them. They don’t care about the fallout to others when they do “nuclear style” shit like trying to overthrow the government, abusing troops, or demanding a divorce over Easter. They are focused entirely on themselves.
Alyssa Farah Griffin was smart enough to see that she didn’t want her name linked to Trump, knowing that there were so many lies being promoted. While I might fault her for being involved with Trump in the first place, I do commend her for quitting while the quitting was good. She shows that she has some good sense, or at least a sense of self-preservation. I get being young and wanting to find a good job. Alyssa is obviously very intelligent and well-spoken, in spite of her Republican ties. I hope the rest of these women have learned something.
For me, it was very clear who Trump was when I heard and read his comments about grabbing women by the pussy, and believing he could do it “because he is a star”. That, my friends, is the epitome of narcissistic thinking to the point of delusion. When someone speaks like that, it means that they don’t care about ANYONE but themselves, and they are wholly unqualified to lead anyone. This is a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women and them being “okay” with it, because of who he is. It’s sick and delusional, and as an American, I am ashamed that Trump was the president of my homeland. He is a huge embarrassment on many levels.
Good leaders care about other people. Trump obviously doesn’t care about anyone but himself, and his endless needs. It has NOTHING to do with his political affiliation or beliefs, which frankly, have little to do with the Republican Party. It’s about his quality as a human being. Trump is a very low quality person. And anyone who can’t see that now has obviously missed the plot. I wish people would learn to vote for individuals over political parties. Because, as I have learned over my five decades of life, the parties matter much less than the people who comprise them. The Republican Party used to have more decent people, but a lot of them have left or were voted out, and now we’re left with extremist power hungry psychopaths, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Lauren Boebert. And these are folks who have been emboldened by Donald Trump. Trump is getting to be old, but his influence, I’m afraid, is going to last a long time. I know his supporters will eventually look at their affiliation with him with shame… and some might even wind up in prison. But it will take time before they plainly see how wrong they are, and how they are now on the wrong side of history.
Anyway… I’m sure Hope Hicks has recovered professionally from the insurrection by now. As I mentioned, she’s obviously a beautiful woman, and she has education and experience. And, you know, there are people out there who will hire her, simply because she’s very pretty. I’m pretty sure her good looks were one reason why she ended up working for Trump in the first place, sad as it is. I see she used to be a model. Maybe she can go back to that gig.
I know I’ve already written a book review today, but I wanted to add a few comments about Cassidy Hutchinson, former junior White House aide to Mark Meadows in the Trump administration. Yesterday, I read and heard about how she was “encouraged” by “ethics attorney” Stefan Passantino to lie under oath to protect Donald Trump and his cronies. Or, rather, the attorney advised her “not to recall” things that she remembered from her time in the White House. When Hutchinson asked the lawyer if that wouldn’t be perjury, he told her no one would know what she did and didn’t remember. So she could say “I don’t recall”, even though that would have been a lie. And yes, technically it IS perjury.
After I watched the above video yesterday, I posted on Facebook that I think Cassidy Hutchinson is a hero. I truly believe she is, even though she worked in the Trump administration. I’ve seen a number of people holding her work for Trump against her, and minimizing the fact that what she did took immense courage and maturity. She has proven that she’s very professional and has a high level of personal honor.
Consider this. Last summer, when she was all over the news, Cassidy Hutchinson was 26 years old and had never needed to hire a lawyer. When this stuff came up, she was out of work, because Trump lost the election. She didn’t have the money to pay for a lawyer. One lawyer she contacted said they could help, but requested a $150,000 retainer. I bet that lawyer is kicking themselves now.
Stefan Passantino, one of Trump’s crony lawyers, offered to help her, and said she didn’t need to worry about legal bills. He refused to tell her who was paying for his services. It is legal for lawyers to be paid by third parties, but clients are supposed to know who pays so that they can give “informed consent”. Someone working for Trump would expect Hutchinson to be on Trump’s side, rather than allowing her to tell the truth.
Shortly after Passantino started working with her, some of Trump’s buddies started contacting her about job opportunities. I remember what it was like to be 26 and hungry for work, although I was waiting tables at that time of my life. I’m sure it was tempting to keep her mouth shut and take the job security and legal assistance. Naturally, once it became clear that Hutchinson was cooperating with investigators, those lucrative job offers were pulled, just like the proverbial carrot on a stick.
Fortunately for all Americans, Hutchinson realized that accepting this help from Passantino was akin to making a deal with the devil. She went to her parents for help. Her mother couldn’t help. Her father, with whom she understandably doesn’t have a relationship, is a big Trump supporter and refused to assist her in hiring a lawyer. In spite of her fears about retribution from Trump and lack of financial resources, Hutchinson told the truth. And now, a lot of people are thinking of her as a hero. I doubt she’s going to have to worry about finding a job. She has her self-respect, and she may have done a lot to help save our democracy. We’ll see what actually happens to Trump. Still… what she did took some guts!
I know a lot of people think Hutchinson should be criticized for working for Trump in the first place. I am inclined to cut her a break, though. It sounds like she was raised by Republicans, like I was. She may have never had a chance to consider other political views. Her father is a Trumper, so much so that he would protect Trump over helping his own daughter. She describes herself as a first generation college student, which probably means her parents are working class. Democrats used to be considered the party for “working class” people, but now it seems that Republicans are mostly folks who aren’t big on education. Trump even famously said that he “loves the poorly educated”. Hutchinson also went to Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Virginia, which is very close to where I grew up. It’s a very conservative, red, part of Virginia. She’s only twenty-six years old. Maybe she hasn’t been exposed to other ideologies yet, in spite of her degrees in political science and American studies. Or maybe she considers herself the old style of Republican, which is what I used to be.
I’m sure Trump and his minions thought Cassidy Hutchinson would be easy to manipulate, flatter, bribe, or threaten into compliance. There she was, a beautiful young woman with just a bachelor’s degree and some entry level experience. She had her sights set on a political career and was making it happen. Surely they could get her to cooperate in this little matter, right? She sure proved them wrong. Maybe it would make sense to do Trump’s bidding, but it would have meant being beholden to him forever. Lots of Trump’s pals were contacting her relentlessly before she was to testify, trying to sway her testimony. I’m glad she realized that trusting them would be foolhardy. Trump is a snake, and he has no honor. There’s no guarantee that Cassidy Hutchinson would be rewarded for her cooperation. People like Trump routinely use people until they’ve gotten all they can and then ditch them. So Hutchinson was absolutely right to do the right thing.
“It wasn’t just that I had Stefan sitting next to me; it was almost like I felt like I had Trump looking over my shoulder,” Hutchinson testified. “Because I knew in some fashion it would get back to him if I said anything he would find disloyal. And the prospect of that genuinely scared me. You know, I’d seen this world ruin people’s lives or try to ruin people’s careers.”
Hutchinson testified: “Pam [Bondi- Former Attorney General of Florida] texted me that night and said something to the effect of: ‘Susie, Matt Schlapp, and I had dinner with POTUS at Mar-a-Lago tonight. Call Matt next week. He has a job for you that we all think you’d be great at — that you all — we all think you would be great in. You are the best. Keep up the good work. Love and miss you.’”
I’ll bet none of those people are calling her now… The article continues:
Ben Williamson, a former White House aide who was still working for Hutchinson’s former boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, reached out to Hutchinson the night before her second scheduled interview with the committee with a friendly reminder.
“He said something to the effect of: ‘Well, Mark wants me to let you know that he knows you’re loyal and he knows you’ll do the right thing tomorrow and that you’re going to protect him and the boss,’” Hutchinson testified. “‘He knows that we’re all on the same team and we’re all a family.’”
Williamson did not immediately offer a comment.
Hutchinson was still concerned about lying under oath. She spoke to Passantino about her misgivings, and he said:
“I would have heard if he was mad about anything discussed in yours, but it’s just a good reminder that the boss does read transcripts,” Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her. “And we want to make sure that, like, whatever he’s reading isn’t going to put you in a bad situation.”
The WaPo article I linked indicates that there’s another brave woman who deserves some credit. Alyssa Farah Griffin, another former Trump aide who had managed to break free of the MAGA cult, spoke to Hutchinson, who confided that she was withholding information at Passantino’s request. Griffin served as a conduit to the January 6th committee, letting them know that Hutchinson had more information that she was willing to divulge.
Through Griffin, Hutchinson answered more questions from the committee. When Stefan Passantino found out about it, he demanded to know how the committee found out. She tried to maintain plausible deniability, but the jig was up. The lucrative job offers dried up, and she was out in the cold. Hutchinson told a staffer, “I’m about to be fucking nuked.” She soon started to realize the price she could be paying for betraying Trump. I’m sure she experienced great anxiety and sleepless nights, realizing that these heavy hitting Republicans could and would happily steamroll her in their bid for maintain power and money. She could have given in to that and been a slave to Trump’s MAGA cult. She chose integrity, instead.
According to The New York Times:
“They don’t know what you know, Cassidy,” she quoted [Passatino] as saying. “They don’t know that you can recall some of these things.”
After the interview, Ms. Hutchinson said, Mr. Passantino told her that he would help her get her “a really good job in Trump world.”
“We’re going to get you taken care of,” she quoted him as saying. “We want to keep you in the family.”
But obviously only if she lied for Donald Trump and his cronies… and only if she was willing to sell her soul to his MAGA cult. It’s not a nice way to live, is it? Yes, she should have avoided Trump in the first place, but because she was there and was willing to talk, we know a lot more than we might have. Cassidy Hutchinson is to be commended for her grace under pressure, her commitment to honesty and professionalism, and her extreme bravery and integrity. I’m sure she will be rewarded for this on many levels. The biggest and best reward of all, in my opinion, is maintaining her dignity and self-respect. She’s going to go down in history as a courageous young woman who didn’t bow to Donald Trump. She seems to be one of the few and proud. I think she has a bright future ahead of her, as long as she stays healthy and safe… because, frankly, I would not put it past Trump to try to get her offed somehow. He has proven, time and again, that he’s an insane, ruthless, vindictive bastard who will stoop to incredibly low levels to get revenge on his enemies. I sincerely hope she has some protection.
As I mentioned in today’s first post, my husband, Bill, is gone this week on a business trip in Bavaria. I don’t have any local buddies to hang out with, so that means I have a lot of empty time on my hands. When Bill was deployed to Iraq back in 2007, I spent a lot of time watching reality TV. At that time, we lived in the States on Fort Belvoir, and we had FiOS (fiber optic cable TV and Internet– which is just becoming a “thing” here in Germany). This was before Apple TV, so I couldn’t spend my time watching relics from my childhood, the way I do today. I’m glad for Apple TV and YouTube, because now I can watch stuff I missed back in the day.
Back in February 1987, I was fifteen years old, and very busy with school and taking care of my horse. I wasn’t at all interested in politics, religion, or current events. I was kind of “dumb” then, as we didn’t have all of the news and information sources we have now. In those days, the Soviet Union was still very much a thing. People worried about nuclear war to the extent that it was a topic on sitcoms, like The Golden Girls. There were a number of Soviet themed films that were released for the big screen. I remember the movie, Red Dawn, came out in 1984, when I was 12 years old. It was the very first PG-13 rated movie, mainly because it was, and still is, a very violent film about Soviets invading the United States. I remember being very “fired up” when I saw that movie the first time. I was young and impressionable, and thought the height of patriotism would be to join the military and fight for my country. Hell, when I was 12, I might have even made the military’s weight standards. 😉 Actually, I’m kidding. As a teenager, I thought I was fat, but I really wasn’t. Like I said… I was kind of dumb in those days… dumber than I am today. But today, I am fatter than I was in the 80s.
Since the Soviet Union was still so threatening, the American Broadcasting Company, otherwise known as ABC, made the mother of all miniseries. It was a seven night EVENT, which even in the era of network TV, was a big production for a miniseries. Most miniseries lasted two or three nights. I was interested in very few of them, because like I said, I was BUSY then… and not interested in politics, religion, or current events. But other people were interested, so ABC made this miniseries called Amerika. It was set in 1997, in a fictional midwestern town called Milford in Nebraska. It starred, Kris Kristofferson, Mariel Hemingway, Cindy Pickett (“Ferris Beuller’s mom”), Christine Lahti, Robert Ulrich, and a very young Lara Flynn Boyle, among other people who are now either dead, or more or less famous than they were in 1987.
The premise of Amerika was that the Soviet Union’s leaders had messed with our elections and that had led to a “bloodless” coup. The United States was no longer. Instead, it was broken up into smaller areas. The flag and national anthem were changed, and the idea of communism was introduced to our capitalistic society. The miniseries was about how the country changed. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and it was obviously based on the propaganda of the time. Remember, the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991, so a lot of today’s adults weren’t around when it was still in existence. But some of us old farts remember it very well.
Well, I completely missed seeing Amerika when it originally aired. It only aired once, because it caused a lot of issues with leaders in the Soviet Union, who were outraged by it. It was also a really long television event that was probably expensive and disruptive to air. In the 80s, we had our “must see TV”, and these kinds of special shows would usurp our old favorites. And then, after just a few years, Amerika seemed over the top and ridiculous, as the Soviet Union literally fell apart, and formerly closed borders started opening. Hell, the movie was set in 1997, but I was actually finishing up my Peace Corps assignment in Armenia, a former Soviet country, in 1997. So, as you can see, it didn’t make a lot of sense to air the program again. It was later released on video, but it doesn’t look like a DVD set was ever released. However… someone did upload the entire series to YouTube. I watched the whole thing in several sittings, as the program is over fourteen hours in length. Even couch potatoes like me need to get up and move sometimes.
I don’t want to get too much into the specific plot of this series, because frankly, it seems like an overwhelming task. As I mentioned up post, the series was set in a fictional town of Milford, which was named after the enterprising American family that helped build it. Some of them still lived in Milford, only to watch their town being overrun by Soviets and American politicians who figuratively “got in bed” with them in a bid to seize power. We watch as people with private businesses can no longer offer what they used to have. A woman who ran a cafe for over thirty years was forced to serve soy products instead of the comfort food she used to offer. Later, everyone is forced into a curfew and heavily armed Soviet soldiers bust the woman’s neon sign, which had been lit for decades. She cries as she’s forced into the back of a truck to be driven off to God knows where.
We see a talented young dancer (Boyle’s character, Jackie Bradford) being ignored when she auditions for a show because she’s too good and would ruin the uniformity of mediocrity of the others. By the way, while I can see where the writers were going with this point, years of watching Soviet athletes and listening to Soviet trained musicians tells me that the culture certainly embraced the talented. They were showcased! Just watch any 70s or 80s era Olympics or a Russian ballet! But the point is, communists didn’t give anyone an incentive to excel, since everyone was “treated equally”. Except they actually weren’t. There were certainly people in communist countries who had it better than others did, due to their stations in life.
We see dissidents being forced into “re-education” camps. Kristofferson’s character, a former politician and 1988 presidential candidate named Devin Milford, had been imprisoned in Texas for trying to fight against the regime and speaking out against corruption. At the beginning of the series, we see him being released and sent into exile in Milford, where he is to stay within 25 miles of his property or risk being jailed or shot. He watches as families lose their homes as Soviet squatters are not recognizing the former Americans’ rights to own land. Children in school are being propagandized with communist principles, which they spout off by rote.
Devin’s eldest son is sent to a psychiatric hospital to be “treated” for thought crimes. He and his fellow patients are shown propaganda while hooked up to electrodes, drugged, and kept in cells. His middle and youngest sons are kept from him. The middle child is bright enough to see through what is happening, but the youngest child becomes very indoctrinated, to the point at which he turns on his father, with a literal gun. Devin’s ex wife, Marion Andrews (Wendy Hughes), is becoming a government leader who wants her ex husband killed.
Fellow Milfordite, Peter Bradford (Robert Ulrich) becomes president, with his wife Amanda (Cindy Pickett) as his first lady. Amanda is very disturbed by all she sees, and tells Bradford that she can be his wife, but not his first lady. Sounds kind of like Melania Trump! Except Amanda is nowhere near as narcissistic and vacuous as Melania is. 😉
And then there’s Kimberly Ballard (Mariel Hemingway), who was very young and beautiful in 1987. She plays a musical theater actress whose work is affected because of censorship. She also gets involved with a Soviet military leader– well… she falls in love with him, and he falls in love with her. But their love can’t survive, because she’s an American through and through, and he’s a Soviet. And politics always take precedence over love.
Like I said, this is a very long series, and to be honest, it was a bit of a plod to get through it. It starts off rather slowly, but then gets more interesting. The musical score may be familiar to some people, too, as the composer of much of the music was Basil Poledouris, the same guy who did the music for the original Red Dawn. In some ways, this film reminded me a bit of Red Dawn, minus most of the violence… at least at first. As Americans start waking up to the reality of communism, a la a frog in slowly heated water, there’s more violent action. Some of it was kind of chilling to see, even by today’s bloodthirsty standards. There are a lot of “dead” people shown– eyes frozen open in shock and horror, as fake blood runs down their faces. In 1987, it was still uncommon for Americans to see mass shooting events.
In some ways, Amerika still seems far fetched and ridiculous. It’s now 2022, and 1997 was a long time ago– 25 years! But realizing that this movie was made in 1987, it’s kind of interesting to see what we had in 1997 that wasn’t yet conceived of in 1987. So, for 1997, Amerika seems pretty quaint and antiquated. However, I moved to Armenia in 1995, which was only about 3.5 years after the Soviet Union fell apart. Things were still very antiquated there in 1995, and things were still pretty much run like they were in the Soviet era. In fact, conditions were worse there at that time, because they were on their own. We had no electricity most of the time; some places had no running water; and almost no one had hot water from a tap. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia in 1995, I took bucket baths with water heated on my kerosene heaters or propane stove. I read books at night by kerosene lamp light. Anything I wanted to buy was behind a counter. And I lived in a series of ugly Soviet era cookie cutter apartments.
But, in other ways, Amerika is scarily prescient. The miniseries was probably conceived of by right wing political conservatives, as it has a very anti-communism message. BUT… as we all know, in 2016, the Russians fucked with our presidential elections. We had a “Republican” leader in Donald Trump, who doesn’t really resemble an old style Republican at all and, in fact, isn’t one. Trump is a fascist, dictator wannabe, and he’s spawned a bunch of power hungry acolytes who would love to follow in his footsteps, even though he’s clearly against freedom and outwardly said the Constitution needs to be “suspended” so he can be put back in power.
Yesterday, there was news about how, on January 17, 2021, South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman sent a text message to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, calling for Trump to institute “Marshall law”. He means “martial law”, of course. But he was actually calling for Trump to use military force to overturn the legal and fair 2020 presidential election, to prevent Joe Biden from taking his rightful place as the US President. Can you fucking believe it? These are Republicans! Aren’t they supposed to be about smaller government, the Constitution, and freedom for everyone (except women of childbearing age)?
I saw a lot of comments on the Amerika videos. Many people were trashing Biden, and saying that America is headed for the scary communist dystopian reality presented in Amerika. And yet, I lived in a former Soviet country, and I learned that the people living there weren’t bad people. They really weren’t that different than I was. They just came from a poorer country in need of assistance. In the 25 years since I left Armenia, I have been really heartened to see how far the country has come. It’s truly become a cool place to be, in terms of the incredible culture and the insane talents of its citizenry. Meanwhile, the United States is starting to look more like it could go the way of the old Soviet Union, as Trump and his minions try to take over and force us to accept his “leadership”. I’m actually not that afraid of Trump anymore, because he’s old and has been revealed for what he is. BUT… I am afraid of the younger, smarter, more polished, power hungry types in his wake who claim to be patriots and fans of the Constitution, but want to do away with fundamental American principles like separation of church and state, the right to privacy, and not having the military running the government so that the overall unpopular extremist, dictatorial types like Trump can stay in charge.
This week, there was a coup stopped in Germany, which is where I live right now. The people involved in that are now in massive legal trouble. They have been arrested. In the United States, Donald Trump is still a free man, in spite of showing us who he is, and what he wants to do. For some reason, Republicans think their party is still what it was years ago, when it was about keeping government out of people’s private business and keeping taxes low. Do these folks really believe that Trump and his deplorable minions won’t be trying their best to take what’s yours? Trump just wants money and power. But there are people inspired by him who want more. They have shown us… and there are a lot of awful people in public office who care more about being re-elected than doing what is right for the citizens of the United States and running free and FAIR elections, without corruption.
One thing that I did learn, having lived in Armenia, is that abortion wasn’t really a big deal in the Soviet Union. I met many women who’d had them, mainly because birth control wasn’t freely available, and their men didn’t want to bother with condoms. And when you’re making the US equivalent of $10 a month, it’s hard to have enough money to raise children. But, it hasn’t escaped my attention that a lot of Republican business owners who don’t want to pay a living wage, nor do they want to offer birth control coverage on health insurance policies provided through work, are very much against allowing abortion. At least for now. 😉 Some of those folks might eventually realize that religion makes it harder for them to control the masses, as people have a power higher than the state. I think with time, religion and the so-called morals espoused because of “God” will become much less fashionable among Republicans, just as the Constitution apparently has.
Anyway… just like I was in 1987, a lot of Americans are concerned about other things. And they aren’t paying attention, even though we have a lot more ways to pay attention now, than we ever had in the past. I hope some people wake up before we start seeing America turn into Amerika. I don’t even want to say that all Republicans are bad, per se. It’s just that the old school ones are being replaced like MAGAts… like cancer cells, they are taking over.
So, although Amerika was a “plod” to get through, I am glad I took the time to watch it. It made me think. If I had taken more time, I probably could have written a much better blog post about it. But if I manage to inspire someone to watch it and draw their own conclusions, maybe I will have done my good deed for the day. It was eye opening for me, but not in the way that other viewers saw it, apparently. This is the type of thing conservatives would tend to watch, because of that dirty word– communism– and Soviet Union style politics. They don’t see the similarities between Soviet Union style communism and Trump style fascism that I see, like the Trump style desire to suppress the media— something very much in the Soviet playbook. As someone who has experienced life over there, and has voted on either side of the spectrum, I see other, more frightening things. We, as a nation, need to collectively wake up and do something about these deranged, fascist, violent people before it’s too late.
WHEW… I meant for this to be about two movies. Guess I’ll be writing another post, which seems fair enough, since it’s snowing outside right now.
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