book reviews, mental health, narcissists, politicians, politics, Trump

A review of Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President, by Justin A. Frank, MD…

When Donald Trump was still POTUS, I bought a bunch of books about him. I haven’t managed to finish them all, even though he was voted out of office in 2020. I’m an avid reader, but I can’t read books as fast as I once did, when my eyes weren’t so old and I didn’t need to nap so much. Besides that, I find reading about Trump alternately infuriating and terrifying, even though he’s also a fascinating character. It shocks me that he’s able to get away with what he does, although it now appears that special super power could soon be about to end.

From the beginning of Trump’s “reign”, I have believed very strongly that he is a narcissistic sociopath or a malignant narcissist, or something of that order… I remember hearing back in the 80s what a scumbag he was, but at that time, I didn’t really care too much. I was a kid. Now that I’m middle aged, and see the damage that can be wrought by corrupt leaders who are so power hungry that they completely lose sight of responsibility and decency, I care a lot more about Trump and the many people who emulate and admire him.

In late March 2020, I downloaded Justin A. Frank’s book, Trump on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Frank is a psychiatrist with several decades of experience in practicing and teaching psychiatry. According to his page on Amazon.com:

Justin Frank M.D. is a highly regarded psychoanalyst and teacher. A clinician with more than thirty year’s experience, Dr. Frank used the principles of applied psychoanalysis to assemble a comprehensive psychological profile of President George W. Bush in his 2004 New York Times bestselling book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President (HarperCollins). His newest book, Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President is being published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster on October 18, 2011. 

Dr. Frank currently writes a biweekly column for Time.com. He also contributes to HuffingtonPost.com, DailyBeast.com and Salon.com, and is a frequent writer and speaker on topics as diverse as politics, film, and theater. He is Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at George Washington University Medical Center, and the co-director of the Metropolitan Center for Object Relations in New York.

Dr. Frank did his psychiatric residency at Harvard Medical School and was chief resident at the Cambridge Hospital. He was also awarded the DuPont-Warren Fellowship by Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Frank lives in Washington DC.

As you can see, Dr. Frank has written several “on the couch” books about presidents. I haven’t read the other books, as before Trump came along, I didn’t care very much about politics. It’s been said that no person is 100 percent “bad”. I suppose that if I could say one thing good about Donald Trump, it’s that he has motivated people like me to care about who is leading the country, and whether or not they are fit to be in such a position. I have never thought Trump was “fit” to be president, although I do remember thinking he’d do better than Ted Cruz. At this point, though, I think I was mistaken about that.

After I finished Mary Trump’s book about what led the people of the United States to elect her corrupt uncle, I decided to read Dr. Frank’s book. I thought it would be a good follow up. I was right, even though Trump on the Couch was published in 2018, when Trump was still parking his fat ass in the White House. Even though Trump lost the election in 2020, he’s still very much in the news, still affecting our lives with his blustery rhetoric and uncanny ability to stimulate people with the worst of values to act in destroying our democracy. Trump will never change and, in fact, I think he’s gotten even worse. Dr. Frank explains why that is, as he introduces readers to Trump’s psyche, and what caused him to turn into the unhinged orange nightmare that he is today.

Trump on the Couch starts with Trump’s story, from the very beginning. Frank writes about Trump’s family history and the dynamics that shaped Donald Trump. I noticed that Frank seems to place a lot of emphasis on Trump’s Scottish mother, Mary, who left her homeland at age 18, fleeing the poverty she was raised in during the early 20th century. Mary Trump (Trump’s mom, not his niece) came to New York and found work as a housekeeper and nanny, until she met up and coming real estate magnate Fred Trump, Sr. They married, and had five children: Maryanne, Fred Jr., Elizabeth, Donald, and Robert.

Frank explains that Mary Trump was quite reserved under normal circumstances, and she had servants to do most of the housework. Consequently, she wasn’t a very “hands on mother”, even when she was healthy. But, when Mary gave birth to Donald’s younger brother, Robert, she almost died due to severe hemorrhaging. She had to spend many months resting, and afterwards, was left in fragile health. According to Dr. Frank, this less than devoted mothering had a profound effect on Donald, who was a child who needed a lot of attention. I found myself copying and sharing some of the passages from Frank’s book explaining this:

He was also kind of mean to his little brother, as Frank notes:

He was a creep, even when he was a child.

Because Trump was such a bratty little bastard, his father, who was quite strict, but mostly absent, decided to send Trump to a military boarding school. Trump went to New York Military Academy, where he ended up doing somewhat well, because it was a place where being ruthless and competitive was celebrated. But being at boarding school further separated Trump from his mother, and exacerbated his anxiety about maintaining control in every situation. Frank also writes that he thinks Trump may have a form of dyslexia, which makes it hard for him to comprehend language the way that most people do and causes more anxiety, which makes him less empathic to other people.

I noticed that Frank focused a lot on the psychodynamic aspects of mental health evaluation. His theories came across as very Freudian to me, with a lot of emphasis on Trump’s childhood and parents– particularly his mother. I found his observations to be interesting and mostly accurate, although I’m not sure the Freudian approach is always the best one when analyzing people today. But then, I know I don’t have Frank’s expertise or experience. Frank also frequently mentions the Austrian-British psychoanalyst and author, Melanie Klein, who was also very much influenced by Sigmund Freud. I wondered what approach Carl Jung would have taken toward Trump.

Frank follows Trump’s life to his time as POTUS, where he notes a lot of the antisocial and, frankly, unacceptable attitudes Trump brazenly displays toward women, people of color, or anyone else whom he doesn’t consider a “winner” of some sort. I enjoyed the analysis of Trump’s childhood the most interesting part of the book, as Frank explains how Trump’s upbringing helped make him in to who he is today. Once again, I found myself sharing astute quotes from the book:

There were a few times when I found Frank’s observations rather alarming, even though Trump left office. A lot of people would like to see Trump re-elected in 2024. I fear that outcome, because Trump can’t be controlled, and if he has nothing to lose, he will stop at nothing to get what he wants. He can’t legally run for a third time as president, but he made it very plain during his first term, that he’d like to change the laws so that he can stay in power for the rest of his life. And Frank makes it plain that Trump is the type of person who absolutely hates to lose, and can’t tolerate playing fairly. He has no sense of honor or decorum.

Dr. Frank’s book, Trump on the Couch, is very comprehensive, with detailed chapters on what he thinks makes Trump tick. He includes an extensive bibliography, as well as a glossary, that includes some Trump specific terms that explain certain traits and behaviors specific to Trump. One reviewer on Amazon.com recommended reading the glossary before reading the book. I don’t think that’s a bad idea. The reviewer also included this comment from Frank about Trump’s behavior and other people’s reactions to it:

“Idealization is the product of extreme splitting, beyond the simple internal world of good and bad, and into one that is ideal and awful. It transforms the perception of reality into something better; it may lay dormant in the unconscious and emerge when one falls in love or has a baby. Just as lovers see themselves – their best selves – in another, the electorate usually idealizes their candidate for higher office. Thus, Ann Coulter sounded like a betrayed lover when Trump signed a budget that didn’t include funding for the wall he promised her. When people feel understood by a leader – or by a therapist – they idealize that person. Trump’s base felt that he understood their frustration and pent-up rage, so they idealized him more than any American president in decades. He promised to ‘drain the swamp’ and destroy the self-centered elites. They [Trump’s supporters, not the self-centered elites] idealized him so much that he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose a vote, and no one corrected or contradicted him. They loved him: never have there been such long lines at campaign rallies as there were at Trump’s. He tapped into unconscious recall of the infant’s love for the parent, who can magically understand the child even before he has words” (pages 245-246).

However, because this book is hostile toward Trump’s image, I feel quite certain that Dr. Frank’s analysis comes only from books, interviews with people who know or have been exposed to Trump, and watching the way Trump behaves in public. He clearly didn’t interview Trump himself, which I think would make it difficult for his “diagnosis” to be taken as seriously as it might. And some people will read this book and think it’s “unfair”, because it’s biased against Trump. It’s quite obvious that Justin A. Frank is not a Trump admirer. But he does have to sell books to make the endeavor worthwhile, so my guess is that he sort of pandered to the “base” who would be interested in reading this book.

Overall, I found Dr. Frank’s analysis of Donald Trump to be accurate and interesting. Trump on the Couch is a quick and easy read, and will probably offer “confirmation bias” to those who are concerned about Trump’s influence on people. I do think it’s worth reading in 2022, even though it was written when Trump was still in office. Trump has made it clear that he’s not giving up on another run at the White House, even though he’s currently plagued with serious legal and financial issues. Dr. Frank makes it plain that people like Trump don’t change, and tend to get worse instead of better. Trump himself has said that he’s basically the same person he was when he was about eight years old. Let that sink in… and vote accordingly.

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book reviews, politics, Trump

A review of The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal, by Mary Trump

In August 2020, when the world was still in the desperate throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Donald Trump was still the POTUS, I read and reviewed his niece, Mary Trump’s, book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man. I remember feeling vindicated as I read her words about her uncle, Donald Trump, whom I had correctly identified as a malignant narcissist or sociopath. Mary Trump wrote about what it was like to grow up in the Trump family, and how much she suffered, even though she was a member of a very wealthy, powerful, and celebrated clan. Unlike her uncle, Mary Trump is a basically normal person with an excellent intellect and a fully functioning id and superego. Mary’s first book was very interesting, but it was also terrifying. At the time I read it, I was genuinely frightened of what was going to happen if Trump won in 2020. Thankfully, that is not what came to pass, in spite of Trump’s relentless and nonsensical insistence that the presidential election was stolen from him.

I liked Mary Trump’s first book, so when she published her second book, The Reckoning: Our Nation’s Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal in August 2021, I was quick to download it. It’s taken me a year to finally read Mary Trump’s book, because it kept getting supplanted by other books. This morning, I finished it; it was a refreshingly short read, long on history and theories as to how the United States finds itself in the horribly polarized, angry, unhinged state it is in right now. Some of The Reckoning was uncomfortable to read, as Mary Trump unflinchingly writes of how Black people were treated before and during the Civil War era, as well as in the decades that followed it. She reminds her readers that slavery officially ended in 1865, but the persecution of Black people has continued since then, and only in very recent years have people of color had a chance to succeed in the country they helped build against their wills.

Mary Trump rightfully points out that American high schoolers are not taught enough about American history. What they are taught is the “white” perspective of American history, and now that people are insisting that more of the whole truth is taught, many white people are fighting to prevent it from happening. Trump explains that every white person is born with inherent privilege, simply for having white skin. However, she also mentions poor white people, who also suffer due to classism that also exists in our society, and the mistaken belief that sharing resources means having less for themselves. And she reminds readers that there are many people who, consciously or unconsciously, are doing all they can to maintain things the way they’ve always been. Her uncle, after all, won the highest election on his platform, “Make America Great Again”, having never before held public office. Lots of people in the United States are terrified of evolving into a nation that plays on more level ground for everyone. Below are a couple of key quotes from Mary Trump’s book that really summed up things nicely, in my view:

I remember when I was an English major at Longwood University (then Longwood College), my advisor gave me a hard time because I didn’t want to take a Shakespeare class. Instead, I was interested in the Women’s Literature and African American Literature courses that were being offered. I thought I would be more interested in the subject matter, having already been exposed to Shakespeare in high school and college. Good ol’ Dr. Stinson, who also used to tease me about all the music classes I insisted on taking for fun, sighed and signed me up for both classes. I took both courses during the same semester, and got a huge dose of studying lesser known books by women and people of color.

I didn’t do particularly well in either of the lit courses; because to be honest, I was kind of a lazy English major. I wanted to write things, not read and analyze literature. But I learned new things in spite of myself. Both courses exposed me to works written by Black authors, Black women’s writings, as well as slave narratives, which were bits of history that had been withheld from me in the years leading up to college. I now believe that high school students should read at least one slave narrative. The subject matter is tough, but it definitely inspires empathy and a broadened perspective from writers who should get a lot more recognition.

I mention my college experience and the attitude surrounding the importance of Shakespeare, because Mary Trump repeatedly explains that most Americans have a poor understanding of history. And today, in high schools across the country, there are legislators, school boards, and parents who are lambasting against “Critical Race Theory” being taught in schools, and trying desperately to suppress the truth about America’s past. I never thought I’d see the day when so many school systems were being pressured to ban certain books, and teachers, already overworked and underpaid, were being forced to catalog their libraries and submit them to scrutiny by third parties. I was heartened to see the outraged response to one Tennessee school district’s decision to ban Art Spiegelman’s excellent graphic novel, Maus. I had not read that book myself, before it made the news. But because Maus was in the news, I decided to read the book. It was life changing. I now know that simply by writing a few blog posts about Maus, I helped inspire other people to read the book.

Mary Trump’s comments were unpleasant to read at times. She states outright that it’s “impossible” to be a white person who grew up in the United States and not be racist. She’s probably right, although I hesitate to use words like “all, every, or impossible”, because experience has shown me that there are almost always exceptions to every rule. And given the family that raised her and what her family spawned, I was caught between disbelief that she was making such a statement, and relief that she could acknowledge racism in a way that was surprisingly humble.

I also found this book a little bit depressing and hopeless. Yes, it’s important to acknowledge problems. That’s the first step in correcting them. It’s important to atone for wrongs committed. That’s the best way to promote healing. BUT… she makes the problem seem so entrenched and deep seated that fixing it seems extremely difficult. It won’t happen in my lifetime, although the more optimistic side of me acknowledges that in my 50 years, there’s already been some substantial progress made. I was born in an era when things were a lot more “black and white”, so to speak. It wasn’t uncommon to hear people casually toss around the “n word”, for instance, especially on television. But that progress is hindered, because of Trump’s uprising and the many emboldened racists who are desperately trying to stop progress, and resorting to cheating and violence to get what they want.

Anyway… The Reckoning offers a lot of food for thought. It’s a short book, and easy to read. Mary Trump’s writing is engaging and informative. Maybe some readers will be uncomfortable, or even offended, by her comments. Some people might have trouble believing that someone with her background can have true empathy for the downtrodden; she is a Trump, after all. But in spite of that, I found Mary Trump’s commentary steeped in truth, and eye-opening. I think this is a good book. But don’t come to it looking for dirt on Donald Trump. She wrote about him in her first book, and The Reckoning is about a different topic entirely. The Reckoning isn’t about Trump; it’s about what led us to Trump. And it offers an important warning to us all to open our eyes and our minds and vote accordingly… or else.

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Ex, narcissists, politicians, royals, Uncategorized, YouTube

Speaking the “Queen’s English”, doesn’t make you a Brit, Ex…

Recently, I read and reviewed UK journalist Tom Bower’s book, Revenge, which is all about Meghan Markle. As I read the book, I also followed H.G. Tudor’s YouTube channel, in which Mr. Tudor read the book to his followers and explained what was happening within the lens of a narcissist. H.G. Tudor claims to be a sociopathic narcissist, and he says that gives him special insight to obvious narcissists. Tudor believes that Markle is a narcissist. Frankly, I agree with him, but I obviously don’t know for absolute certain. It’s just a hunch.

Let’s just say I clearly see the signs of narcissism and facade building, and I am fairly convinced that most of what Meghan Markle does publicly is an act. It would stand to reason that she’s playing a role, since she was most recently pursuing an acting career. She is literally an actress, albeit not a very convincing one, in my opinion. I’ve been around a lot of narcissists in my lifetime, as most of us have. Hell, Donald Trump has subjected the entire world to narcissistic abuse, so it’s safe to say that the vast majority of the world’s population have been exposed to the toxicity that comes from narcissism and narcissistic people. In my view, spotting a narcissist or narcissistic behavior is kind of like spotting pornography. You can’t always define it, but you know it when you see it.

H.G. Tudor explains why he thinks Meghan is a narcissist.

H.G. Tudor is not the only person who thinks Meghan Markle is a narcissist. So does The Body Language Guy, Jesus Enrique Rosas, who has done a bunch of YouTube videos analyzing Meghan Markle’s body language and nonverbal behaviors. If you look around YouTube, you will find many people making videos about Markle and her apparently self-serving behaviors, to include a thinly veiled ambition to someday be the President of the United States or some other high ranking political leader. God help us… I hope the country figures out that obvious narcissists don’t make good leaders. Because besides being abusive and lacking in empathy for others, narcissists are FAKE… and they are constantly putting up a facade that is meant to fool people into thinking they are better people than they are.

Jesus Enrique Rosas talks about the speculation about Meghan’s political aspirations.
Lady Colin Campbell says that she thinks Meghan is a narcissist, too. I’m not the only one, obviously.

So why am I writing about this today? I had actually meant to write about an entirely different topic. I changed my mind when I checked out Ex’s latest tweets, most of which give me a good laugh. Lately, she’s been tweeting incessantly about a certain TV show about Scotland, excitedly claiming she is, herself, a member of a famous Highland family. She has also, more than once, expressed a desire to learn “Scots Gaelic”, as she claims that it’s her “native tongue” (even though she was born to US citizens in Texas). Like Meghan Markle, Ex is very narcissistic, and she isn’t satisfied with who she is. So she goes to great lengths to try to convince people that she is someone she’s not. The harder she tries, the more unconvincing she is.

As far as I know, this obsession with Scotland is a somewhat recent development for Ex. According to Bill, when they were still married, Ex didn’t speak incessantly about being a “Scot”. She was then a fan of romantic historical fiction and fantasy, as she apparently is now, but she wasn’t claiming to be from a renowned Scottish family. Given that she was adopted, it would have been a strange claim to be making. But Ex has since apparently met her birth parents, and has openly disparaged them. So why she would want to claim any ancestral ties to them– people who had an extramarital affair, conceived Ex, and then gave her up for adoption, where she landed with abusive and neglectful parents– I don’t know. Obviously, they weren’t great people, even if there’s any truth to her claim that one or both of them came from a famous Scottish clan from the Highlands. What they did is, in fact, very ordinary behavior that had rather tragic consequences on many levels.

Like Ex, I have heavily Scottish roots, and I am proud of them. I have been to Scotland several times, and I used to live in England, which is where my second highest DNA concentration of ancestry comes from. I’ve also visited Ireland, which is where the third highest concentration comes from in my DNA heritage, though by much less than Scotland and England. I do feel a kinship to the UK, not just because I have the DNA from there, but because I have also spent a lot of time there, have friends from there, and it’s just become a really familiar place for me, just as Germany has.

BUT– I am still an AMERICAN. I don’t claim to be British, in spite of having a huge amount of British DNA. Most of my family came to the United States in the 1600s and eventually made their way to the western side of Virginia. That’s more like my home, even though I have never officially lived in Rockbridge County or its environs. I was born and mostly raised in the Tidewater area of Virginia, and even though I have no family living there, aside from my mother, that is also my home. Not Britain… in spite of my very British heritage, and in spite of the fact that I feel at ease there and obviously look like the natives, especially when I’m in Scotland.

I have lived in Germany now for ten years of my life, but I don’t have a lot of German heritage. I know I have some, because I’ve found obvious Germans in my family tree, and I doubt the Germans I found were actually Brits who were adopted by German families. The DNA tests don’t seem to recognize my German ancestors, even though they recognize the Native American woman who got pregnant by one of my ancestors in the 1600s. I guess this just proves that the DNA tests aren’t necessarily the clearest picture of where a person’s origins are. I’ve been in Germany for a long time, but I’m not German. I’m still American. Living here, learning the language, and appropriating the culture would not make me German, no matter how long my stay is. If I became a German citizen, I guess that would make me more of a German, at least by means of a passport. But really, at least culturally speaking, I’d still be an American.

On some level, I suspect Ex is engaging in some fantasy, building a story that makes her feel better about herself. What I find interesting, and potentially problematic, is that she is presenting her bullshit to the masses on Twitter. There are people who actually know her, and know the realities of who she is. People who know her real story probably laugh at her claims of being descended from a famous Scottish family, as if that somehow makes her special. Nevertheless, Ex still tries to put out this false image– the same thing Meghan Markle does– as if she hopes to convince strangers to accept her for what she’s not.

If you do some digging into Meghan Markle’s life, you quickly realize that her false “Diana-esque” humanitarian facade is not real. She knows how to act like a nice person when people are watching, but based on multiple accounts by credible people, it’s not genuine. Furthermore, Meghan has lied about a lot of things, like, for instance, her assertion that she didn’t know much about Prince Harry before they dated. That is obviously a whopper of a lie, and it has been debunked by people who actually know her. And yet, in spite of people who know her reporting the truth of what they know to others, Meghan has still tried to convince us of the veracity of her obvious lie.

Same thing with Donald Trump. There are many examples of his egregiously bad behavior… but people will still swear up and down that he was sent here by Jesus Christ to save America, and that the media is “persecuting” him. I won’t say that the media can’t be brutal, and certainly there has been “fake news” put out there. But… where there’s smoke, there’s almost always fire. Lots of credible people have spoken and written about what a vile person Trump is, and the proof is becoming more evident every day, especially right now. So, even though Trump knows how to charm people, that charm is superficial. It’s not real. And people who are clued into narcissism obviously clue in to it quickly and don’t accept Trump’s alternative version of “truth”.

Narcissists love to revise history. Listen to H.G. Tudor, and you will hear him talk about how Meghan Markle has done it many times. Meghan has, just like Trump, also used DARVO. Remember when she claimed that Kate made her cry during a dress fitting? I don’t believe Meghan’s story. I have not seen Kate Middleton make a false step yet. Although she’s clearly human, and like all people, she makes mistakes, I have not heard of Kate Middleton bullying anyone. When she smiles, it’s believable. She’s the epitome of charm and grace. If anyone were going to do the impossible and step into Diana’s shoes, it would be her, not Meghan Markle.

I remember hearing that when Princess Diana died, Ex was reportedly devastated. Bill has told me that she idolized Diana, as many people have. People like to emulate those they admire– and take on some of their traits. Obviously Meghan wants to be like Diana, or at least get people to see her as “Diana-esque”. She’s a poor substitute, because she doesn’t have what Diana had… and Diana, by the way, was no perfect saint herself! But, she was clearly much more genuine in terms of her feelings than most Royals are. Ex would probably very much like to be like Diana, just as Meghan obviously wants to be, but that’s impossible. All she can be is herself, which is all any of us can be.

Now… just for those who have managed to wade through the bulk of this post, I’m going to show everyone what has inspired today’s rantings. Before I do that, let me explain that there was a time when Ex was decidedly NOT liberal in her political leanings. But like many, in the age of Trump, she has apparently chosen a different path. I don’t fault her for that at all. In fact, I am delighted that she’s voting blue, because today’s Republican Party is a total shitshow, and every vote is a push for getting rid of this very destructive political trend. However, some of Ex’s “woke” platitudes are very hypocritical, especially given that I know firsthand about the horrific and obvious physical, mental, verbal, and emotional abuse she has delivered to her supposed loved ones and former spouses.

Someone on Twitter posted this:

This is a funny song that Trump adversaries sang at some rally. It uses the word “cunt”, which Americans recognize as an extremely misogynistic, offensive, nasty word that is often hurled at women. Sadly, most people who use the word “cunt” don’t even save it for the end of an argument anymore. Ex… showing everyone that she is, in fact, an American, and not a Brit, posted this response.

Ex… you are quite clearly NOT a Brit. You are an American, and you think like an American. Time to embrace that, and stop trying to be someone you’re not.

As to Ex’s contention that no one has the right to use the word “cunt”, I would say that she’s wrong. That word, like all words, has a use, and sometimes the use is appropriate. There are times when it’s not even offensive to use the word “cunt”. It’s all about context, right? Like, people in Ex’s precious Scotland don’t get upset when Brits say the word “cunt”. Why? Because it doesn’t have the same meaning there that it does in the United States. Same thing with the word “fag”. In the US, “fag” and “faggot” are very offensive slurs that refer to male homosexuals. But in Britain they are, respectively, a cigarette and a type of sausage, or even a bundle of sticks.

If Ex really wants to be “woke”, she might want to consider that the US perspective is not the perspective for everyone else in the world. Like, for instance,– I have seen the Confederate battle flag flown in countries all over Europe. People don’t care much here, because that flag doesn’t have the same meaning to Europeans as it does to Americans, and many people here don’t feel like they should have to avoid offending Americans. Likewise, a Nazi era swastika is offensive to many people, including Americans. Hanging one up here, outside the house, would likely merit a visit from the police. But Nazi symbolism will likely be much more offensive to certain groups– specifically Jewish people and Germans, who have been taught that it’s very taboo– than it is to, say, your garden variety American redneck who is also proud to display a Confederate battle flag.

Those symbols, which obviously mean something to some people, don’t mean the same thing to every person, because not every person has the same perspectives. And people can’t and shouldn’t automatically be expected to follow the perspectives of everyone else. We shouldn’t, for instance, get angry at someone who lives in the bush country of Africa for admiring the Confederate battle flag after seeing it for the first time. They wouldn’t automatically assume the flag is “bad”, because they lack context or a concept of what that flag represents– just like any young child does when seeing or hearing something for the first time. In fact, I would argue that the flag isn’t actually “bad”, in and of itself; it’s actually a neutral thing. It’s the racist and hateful attitudes from the people behind what the flag symbolizes that makes it “bad”. But it’s much easier to ban a flag than it is to confront the people behind what it symbolizes.

I could go on and on about this, as it’s a pet topic of mine. I get annoyed by people who want to aggressively cram their agendas down other people’s throats, as they claim to value freedom of expression and opinion. The left is just as bad as the right when it comes to this, especially when it’s clear that the person who claims his or her opinion is “correct”, hasn’t actually thought much about the issue at all, and is really just parroting what other people have said.

Father Nathan Monk has had a couple of recent contentious Facebook threads about so-called “spelling and grammar police” that has clearly demonstrated that as open minded and tolerant as some left wing folks want to seem to be, they really share some characteristics with some of the most militant right wingers. The behavior is the same, even if the ideology isn’t. But… this is already a long and convoluted post, and I’m thinking about doing a music video. So I’m going to close this post and get on with the day.

Personally, I think Father Nathan Monk, as well as a lot of his followers, are doing what they accuse other people of doing. Any time some responds to a disagreement with rudeness, anger, and derision, rather than patience, forbearance, and tolerance, they are guilty of the same toxic behavior as what they’re criticizing. And before anyone calls me out, I will admit that I am guilty of this myself, sometimes. Telling that guy I posted about yesterday to “fuck off” wasn’t constructive. But then, I doubt he wanted to hear me out, anyway.

Well… if you’ve managed to get through this and actually read it to the end, I thank you. I continue to write about this topic because it’s fascinating to me, but it also helps me maintain perspective. Anyone who has had direct ties to a narcissist knows that things will get confusing quickly, if you let them call all of the shots. So I write this stuff down to keep my head straight. If anyone else finds it helpful, informative, or interesting, so much the better.

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healthcare, law, politicians, politics, Texas, Trump

More money where my mouth is…

On July 1, I wrote a post called “Putting my money where my mouth is.” In that post, I wrote about my decision to donate money to pro-choice causes, namely NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. It was something I had never done before, but I felt compelled to make donations to those causes, because I am so absolutely appalled by how women’s rights are being rolled back 50 years.

Last night, I read an article about Beto O’Rourke’s run for governor in Texas. I am a Texas voter, and I absolutely despise what Greg Abbott has done since he became governor. Much of the anti-choice bullshit that has come up recently had origins in Texas. So I commented that I can’t wait to vote straight blue in Texas. Many people liked the comment, but I got a few rude comments from MAGA assholes. To the last one who commented, I wrote, “Thanks for reminding me to donate to Beto’s campaign.” Then I went to Beto’s page, and donated $250. He might lose the election, but I have to do what I can to see that he has a chance against Greg Abbott. It’s the least I can do for younger women. I also noticed that after I made that comment, no one else took me on. The MAGA jerks don’t like it when you match their snarky comments with money for the opposition.

I’m for Beto.

Maybe it’s just my stubborn, oppositional personality, but the more people on the right “laugh” at and ridicule my outrage, the more left I find myself leaning. I’m really not that liberal leaning, if you want to know the truth. There’s a lot about the liberal side that I don’t like. But at this point, the Democrats are the only party that can win against the Republican Party, and I will not vote for people who want to pass laws that marginalize everyone except white Christian males. Some things are more important than money, which is really the only reason I can see to vote for Republicans. The right to privacy and access to comprehensive healthcare is of paramount importance to all people. So I have to do what I can to preserve that. I hope that by writing this piece, I’ll inspire others to do what they can, too.

Yesterday, a woman named “Becky” decided to come at me with anti-abortion rhetoric. I looked at Becky’s page. She’s clearly beyond her childbearing years, and based on her comments to me, she’s not a very happy or pleasant person. One of her responses to me was, “If you don’t want to be pregnant, use birth control.”

My retort to Becky was, “Should the ten year old rape victim have been on birth control?” She never responded to that. Do people like Becky really think it’s right to compel children to give birth? Can they not see why sometimes abortion is the right choice? Why do they think that poor child should have to justify having an abortion?

I just read an op-ed in the Washington Post by Jennifer Rubin about how Jewish women are making the argument that there should be a religious exemption to abortion bans. After all, Christians have pushed for allowing medical professionals to opt out of providing certain medical procedures and not prescribing certain medications due to their religious beliefs. Jewish people, in general, don’t have an objection to abortion, as they don’t believe that life begins at conception. So why shouldn’t they be allowed to get abortions based on their religious beliefs? A lawsuit has been filed in Florida. I thought the op-ed was excellent. Unfortunately, I ran out of articles to gift this month, so I can’t unlock it for readers. But the Washington Post is fairly inexpensive for a newspaper. Maybe it’s worth a subscription. I did pause when I read this article in the comment section in the paper.

Never a conscience exemption. Not ever!

Any woman looking for an abortion would claim it. 

Nor one for mental health of the mother. Physical after a three member physician panel with no prior knowledge of her makes a decision.

Does this person not realize that sometimes women find themselves in life threatening medical situations that wouldn’t allow time for three doctors to come together for a “conference”? And how does it impact this person that “any woman looking for an abortion would claim it”? Why does it even matter to them? How would that affect an uninvolved person in the slightest? I am so tired of the cruelty and hypocrisy… this person must hate women! They obviously don’t trust them to take care of their own health or make their own decisions! It’s so scary to me that in 2022, there are people out there who think women shouldn’t have their own autonomy.

I am so tired of writing about this… but every day, something else outrages me anew. And this is how I process it. However, I also know that abortion is really a distraction from an even bigger, scarier picture. Yesterday, I watched a video by George Conway about Donald Trump’s sinister plans, should he be re-elected. Folks… it would be a true disaster. He wants to be a dictator. He would like to completely gut the government and put in sycophants who are loyal to him. It would destroy the country.

Holy shit!

I am glad I sought out the above clip, if only because I found this joke there…

An assistant to Donald Trump told him she had a fantastic dream last night. There was a huge parade down Pennsylvania Avenue celebrating him. Millions lined the parade route, cheering when the President went past. Bands were playing; children were throwing confetti into the air, there were balloons everywhere. It was the biggest celebration Washington had ever seen. Trump was very impressed and said, “That’s really great! By the way, how did I look in your dream? Was my hair okay?”

His assistant said, “I couldn’t tell, the coffin was closed.

One can only dream… I hope people wake up soon. And I hope that anyone else who is as disgusted and horrified as I am about the state of things right now will put their money where their mouths are, too. I don’t know about other people, but in my case, it was something I felt compelled to do. Otherwise, I feel completely helpless, watching democracy being whittled away by a malignant narcissist.

In other news… I feel markedly better today, although I did have a coughing fit that made me lose breakfast. But overall, I have more energy, am coughing less, and have less gunk. So I think I might be improving. However, I have learned about dashed hopes, so I’ll just be cautiously optimistic that I’m getting well.

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ethics, law, true crime, Trump

Ghislaine Maxwell gets sentenced to 20 years in federal prison…

Thank God for other items in the news besides Donald Trump’s January 6 shenanigans and the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m pretty tired of thinking and writing about abortion. And I’ve been tired of Trump for years now. Nevertheless, if Ghislaine Maxwell hadn’t been delivered a prison sentence yesterday, I could still write reams about abortion and Trump. There’s still a lot to be said and written about both subjects. But I won’t be opining about those two tired topics this Wednesday morning. Today, I’m going to write about what I think of Ghislaine Maxwell’s punishment. So here goes…

Yesterday afternoon– I think it was afternoon in Germany, anyway, Ghislaine Maxwell, former British socialite and ex girlfriend of sex offender extraordinaire, Jeffrey Epstein, finally got sentenced for her role in Epstein’s disgusting crimes against young women. Ms. Maxwell was accused of sex trafficking young women. She befriended beautiful young girls who hoped to become models and lured them to Epstein’s lair, where they would be forced to engage in sex acts with Epstein and his powerful and wealthy friends.

Jeffrey Epstein had been awaiting his own trial when he allegedly committed suicide in jail back in August 2019. Many people questioned whether or not Epstein wasn’t actually murdered, since many high powered people were his friends and stood to lose a lot if he testified in court. How powerful were these people? Well, they included people like Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, Kevin Spacey, Itzhak Perlman, astronaut John Glenn, many US senators, and our very own loser ex “president”, Trump.

In 2020, I watched Netflix’s revelatory documentary about what went on in Epstein’s fancy homes in Palm Beach, Florida, London, England, New York City, and his private island in the Caribbean. Ghislaine Maxwell was in the thick of it, and she presented a gentle, friendly face to trusting young women who were looking for a big break. Instead, they were used and abused by Epstein and his depraved, corrupt buddies. When I think about the metaphorical snake pit those women faced, filled with slimy narcissistic scumbags, it makes me cringe with revulsion.

Ghislaine Maxwell orchestrated much of the abuse, funneling girls and young women into the vortex of Epstein’s inner sanctums, victimizing them as she smiled and pretended to be their friends. They would trust a woman before they’d trust the lecherous middle aged men who wanted to use them for their own sexual gratification. Now, those women are living with the aftermath of that abuse, and Maxwell knows that she will be in prison until at least her late 70s. She must also pay a $750,000 fine.

Maxwell was arrested in July 2020, and she’s been sitting in a Brooklyn jail cell the whole time, as her case has slowly ground through the court system. Now, it’s time to get down to business. She didn’t get the five years her lawyers asked for, and she didn’t get the 30 years prosecutors wanted. She might not die in prison, but her life as a socialite is over. As she learned her fate, Maxwell addressed her victims, claiming to empathize with them, and telling them she hoped her prison sentence would bring them “peace and finality”.

I read about this case last night, as many people were still reeling from the Roe v. Wade decision, and learning about Donald Trump’s horrible conduct on January 6, 2021, as Cassidy Hutchinson testified about Trump’s incredibly narcissistic and abusive behavior. Trump was a friend of Epstein’s, and I know of at least one person who described what he did to her at Epstein’s home. A lot of people are quick to deny Hutchinson’s testimony about January 6, and they doggedly defend their man, Trump. I have little hope that Trump will ever face punishment for his crimes against people. But at least they got Ghislaine. I think 20 years in prison and having to pay a huge fine is fair. And in spite of how terrible her crimes are, I hope Ghislaine Maxwell is treated humanely while she does her time in prison.

Someone in the Facebook comments wrote that Ghislaine Maxwell should spend all 20 years in solitary confinement. Against my better judgment, I wrote “That would be inhumane. She needs to be punished, not tortured. America should be above torture (even if it isn’t).

A few people liked my comment, but at least two people gave me grief over it. One seemingly outraged woman asked me if I would feel the same way if it had been one of my daughters who was victimized by Ghislaine Maxwell. To that, I responded “Yes, I would. I don’t condone torture. Twenty years in solitary confinement would be torture.” A man tagged me in his angry comment about how much Maxwell should suffer. I wrote to him that he was entitled to his opinion, but I disagree with it. I don’t ever want to get to a point at which I think torturing other people is okay… even if I completely understand the sentiment behind those thoughts. Solitary confinement, even just for a couple of weeks, is considered inhumane and akin to torture. I am not okay with that.

Once again, I’m left sitting here scratching my head at the logic of some of my countrymen. So many people are happy to excuse Donald Trump for his egregious and well documented crimes against people over his long career as a businessman, politician, and “star”. A lot of them would be absolutely delighted to see him elected president again, even though he boldly admits to having no control over his sexual impulses, abuses his employees, cheats his creditors, and demonstrates an attitude that he is ABOVE the law. But some of those same people want to torture Ghislaine Maxwell. The mind boggles. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman, and women aren’t supposed to be “monsters”.

I remember a couple of years ago, when Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman were in the news for their fraudulent actions of trying to buy their daughters spots at prestigious universities. I read so many comments from “outraged” people who thought they should just ROT in prison for decades. What Loughlin and Huffman did were not crimes of violence. Yes, their crimes were dishonest and unfair. Yes, they abused their great privilege and wealth. They needed to be held accountable, and they were. But plenty of people felt that their sentences were too light, and they should be locked up for years.

I remember when 18 year old Skylar Mack went to the Cayman Islands and flouted the COVID rules there. She got caught by the police, and faced incarceration as punishment. At one point, she was sentenced to four months in jail, and some Americans were complaining when her family members tried to get her sentence reduced, which it eventually was. I wrote about her case several times in this blog. A few people wanted to tell me off for not wanting Skylar to rot in jail. My response is that I don’t see how locking up an 18 year old for two more months in a hellish Caribbean jail, potentially traumatizing her for life, would be justice.

Ghislaine Maxwell, of course, is no Skylar Mack, Lori Loughlin, or Felicity Huffman. Her crimes were much worse than theirs were, and she really did legitimately hurt people. So yes, she needs to be severely punished, and it’s entirely fitting that she spend a couple of decades locked up. But even though Maxwell’s crimes against young women were horrific, we are not much better as a society if our response to Maxwell’s crimes is to punish her using methods that are considered cruel by most civilized members of the global community. The United States is supposed to be a first world nation. Americans, as a people, should be above torturing people.

There’s another, more selfish reason I don’t condone torturing Ghislaine Maxwell. And that’s if, by some circumstance, I ever end up on the wrong side of the law, I would not want to be tortured. I wouldn’t want torture for my friends or loved ones, if they ever got sent to prison. I don’t think abusing people delivers good results for society, especially if there’s a chance that a person in prison will ever be released. I don’t want to see that person so completely shattered that they can’t recover. Not only is it not good for them, or their friends and loved ones, it’s also not good for everyone else in the world, who might be victimized if they go off the rails. Abuse has a terrible effect on people. It makes them angry, jaded, and potentially violent. I don’t think that angry, jaded, violent people, fresh from incarceration, are safe to be around. People should be able to recover from their mistakes. Otherwise, why go on living? And what would they have to lose, committing more crimes against other people?

I don’t think there are many truly evil people in the world. As long as someone still has a shred of humanity within them, we should have some respect for them as human beings. Every one of us would want the same consideration. And, as people who haven’t committed serious crimes, we should be at a level at which we can grant basic mercy, even if someone has done something really terrible. Of course, I write this as I’ve also read many comments from people who think anyone who has had an abortion should be jailed for life. It’s probably hyperbole when people say or write these things. I still wish people would stop and think for a minute when they express this kind of vitriol. At best, it’s unhelpful and unrealistic. At worst, it promotes barbaric ideas that put the United States in the same company as Middle Eastern countries where prisoners are routinely tortured and denied basic rights.

But I do understand the outrage… and I do agree that Maxwell should suffer the consequences of her actions. I think that will happen. Ghislaine Maxwell has spent most of her life pampered and cosseted, cushioned by extreme wealth and privilege. Prison will not be pleasant for her. We don’t need to make it worse for her by locking her in a hole for twenty years. That’s extreme, and it would make her go insane… and then we would be obliged to treat her mental illness, although the reality is, she would probably be neglected. And then there would be people who would actually pity her… which she probably doesn’t deserve at all.

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