book reviews, narcissists, politicians, politics

A review of I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House, by Stephanie Grisham…

When Bill isn’t home, our dogs– usually Arran– often wake me up in the middle of the night. After they have their midnight pee or poo break, they come back in and go back to bed. I, then, spend another hour or so, trying to get back to sleep. That’s what happened to me in the wee hours of this morning, when Arran got me up TWICE— once to pee, and once to poo, and both times, demanded a cookie reward for doing his business. Noyzi, on the other hand, didn’t bark at me through the bedroom door early this morning, as he has the past two mornings, nor did he want to join Arran on his nocturnal potty runs.

It’s because of Arran’s second potty break that I finally finished Stephanie Grisham’s 2021 book, I’ll Take Your Questions Now: What I Saw at the Trump White House. While it wasn’t a particularly difficult book to read, it did take me some time to plow through, mainly because I’m not capable of reading as fast as I once was. Nowadays, if I’m reading in bed, I fall asleep. I have to be careful, too, because I usually read on an iPad. I don’t want to get hit in the nose or teeth, or roll over on the iPad and break it. It also took time because I happened to be reading it while we were on vacation, and I was busy doing other things… like watching Netflix and hanging out with Bill.

I hadn’t actually planned to read Stephanie Grisham’s book. I remember reading her comments defending the Trumps when Donald Trump was 45. Many of my regular readers know I despise Donald Trump, and I’d like to forget about him. Still, I have found myself drawn to books written by people who worked for him at the White House (there is no working with him— the man is a raging narcissist and thinks he is the most important person alive). I did read Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book, Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady. I figured I might as well give Stephanie Grisham’s book a chance.

So now I’ve read it… and I have to say, for the most part, it wasn’t terrible.

Ambitious Stephanie Grisham had always dreamt of being the White House Press Secretary. In 2016, when Trump was running for president, she was a “junior press wrangler”. By 2020, she had worked for both Donald Trump, and his wife, Melania. For a time she simultaneously worked for BOTH Trumps, when Trump hired her to be the White House Press Secretary and Communications Director, and Melania Trump’s Communications Director. Grisham was an extremely rare high profile Trump employee, in that she was there for almost the entire time Trump was in office. She finally quit on January 6, 2021, in the wake of the attack on the Capitol, as pro Trump rioters breached one of our country’s most beautiful and recognizable government buildings in an attempt to prevent the 2020 presidential election results from being certified.

Having read Grisham’s book, and about all of the frustrations and mistreatment she no doubt faced, particularly at the hands of some of her male co-workers, I’m surprised it took her so long to finally throw in the towel. But Grisham has an explanation. She, like so many of us, was “trained” to take abuse from people, and she got unusually good at doing that. And she also claims that she’s a Republican and believed in what Trump was doing. She writes that he had some good policies, although she doesn’t really spell out which specific policies she thought were so good.

This book isn’t really about Donald Trump’s policies, though. It’s about what it was like to work for the Trumps. Grisham writes about what it was like to fly on Air Force One, which took the Trumps and their entourage on exotic foreign trips– at one point, meeting the British Royal Family, at another, visiting four countries in Africa. Much of what Grisham writes seems to be more about working for Melania, which I got the impression she did longer than working for Trump himself.

There were a few instances in the book in which Grisham seemed to want to be friends with Melania, but Melania apparently wasn’t interested. For instance, one day Melania seemed kind of depressed. Grisham invited her to take a walk on the beach, as if they were friends. Melania wanted to know if there would be photographers there. Grisham then found herself trying to arrange an impromptu photo shoot with real photographers. Throughout the book, Grisham mentions how beautiful and stylish Melania is, as if she really admires her, in spite of Melania’s hot and cold treatment of her and eventually being completely discarded by the former First Lady when the Trump era ended.

Incidentally, Grisham mentions Stephanie Winston Wolkoff’s book on more than one occasion. I get the sense there’s no love lost between those two. However, I also get the sense that both of them fancied themselves “close friends” of Melania’s. It’s almost as if they’re jealous of each other (Wolkoff also mentions Grisham in her book). Wolkoff eventually realizes that Melania is no friend to anyone. Grisham, conversely, seems to hold out hope that she and Melania could one day be besties or something. Spoiler alert– it ain’t happening. Melania is into herself, and maybe her son, Barron. That’s about it.

I’m being honest when I write that Grisham comes off as a likable person to me, probably because she uses a lot of profanity. I mean… she uses a LOT of cuss words, including the “f” word. As much as I like cussing myself, that was one aspect of her writing that I noticed and thought detracted a bit from her manuscript, especially given that she’s a journalist. On the other hand, she writes as if she’s having a conversation, which I also tend to do. And if cursing is something she does in her natural voice, maybe it IS appropriate, in terms of her authentic voice. I think if I had to work for either of the Trumps to make a living, I would cuss a lot too. And I would probably drink a lot more… which would not be a good thing. However, while the profanity makes Grisham seem more relatable to me, it also makes her seem less polished and professional. I guess that makes sense in Trump’s White House, given his penchant for “pussy grabbing”.

Grisham offers some details about some of the Trumps’ most notorious moments in the press, as well as Jared and Ivanka, whom she collectively refers to as Javanka. Like Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, she refers to Ivanka alone as “the princess”. Barron gets one mention at the end of the book, and she paints him in a good light. The other Trump kids are described as entitled brats, for the most part– but especially Ivanka. Grisham doesn’t seem impressed with Jared Kushner, either.

Toward the end of Grisham’s book, she writes about an abusive romantic relationship she was involved in with another Trump staffer. She doesn’t identify the man, but she does describe him, and her description of him certainly paints the picture of a classic abuser. This was a man she’d lived with, and even adopted a dog with, and at the end of their relationship, he turned out to be a total dick. One night, she got very upset and hung out with some friends. Another friend brought over some wine and encouraged Grisham to take an Ambien, which she did. It promptly knocked her out cold. Next thing she knew, she was being asked if she was okay by two guys in her bedroom. They were from the Secret Service. Her friend got worried and called the White House. They got the idea that she was suicidal.

At the same time she was reeling from her breakup, Grisham was also dealing with Mark Meadows, one of Trump’s many former Chiefs of Staff. Meadows made Grisham’s life hellish, and basically fired her from working with Trump. Although Grisham had supposedly wanted to keep the Ambien incident quiet, word got out, which is probably why she addresses it in her book. Meadows also got wind of it and was apparently quite the bastard about it, and a lot of other things. Make no mistake about it; Grisham and Mark Meadows are definitely not on good terms.

As she sums up her time fulfilling her ambitions of being the White House Press Secretary, among other things, Grisham discloses her own personal epiphany. She realizes that she has been well-trained to tolerate abuse, especially from men. She says she was abused by her White House boyfriend, by Mark Meadows, and even by Trump. She wrote that she’d gotten used to men being mean to her, calling her names, and treating her like a doormat. I must say, I was a little surprised that she hadn’t seen Trump as an abuser ages ago, especially since she’s a journalist. One of the main reasons why I despise Trump so much is because it’s so OBVIOUS to me that he’s abusive. It was very clear that Trump was an abuser, even in the 1980s, which is when I first heard of Trump.

I remember, in 2016, reading an article about the 1993 book, Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump by Harry Hurt III. Within that article, there was an excerpt from the book about an incident that occurred between Donald Trump and his first wife, Ivana. It basically described Trump as having raped his first wife. I was horrified, and decided to read and review the book for myself, which I did, back in April 2017. You can find my repost here. Below is a screenshot of the passage in the article from The New Yorker that I read about Trump’s little domestic violence episode. This attack is also described in Hurt’s book.

Name calling… yet another one of Trump’s least attractive qualities that is constantly on display. I think the fact that he blatantly abuses women should have disqualified Trump from running. He should have been arrested, instead.

Stephanie Grisham seems to like Melania, even though Melania hasn’t said a word to her since the day Grisham quit her job. She does state that both Donald and Melania basically use people and discard them when they are no longer useful. In that sense, they’re both narcissists. However, Melania apparently comes off as a more “human” and less extreme version of a narcissist. Melania is probably more of a garden variety narcissist, while Trump is an obvious, off-the-chain, malignant narcissist. He was put into power by people who are probably actual sociopaths and are a hell of a lot more intelligent and cunning than Trump will ever be. I know there are snakes on both sides of the political spectrum, but the Republicans have really shown their asses in a dangerous way. It saddens me that so many Americans have fallen for it, hook, line, and sinker.

At the end of the book, Grisham does concede that she wished another Republican, other than Donald Trump, could have run for president in 2020. I can understand that. Before Trump took office, I had some sympathy for the conservative cause. However… as far as I am concerned, Trump has ruined the Republican Party. I think it’s unlikely I will vote Republican ever again. Grisham, on the other hand, still says she’s a Republican, and at times, even seems to apologize for the Trumps– including Donald, but especially Melania.

Below are a couple of insightful excerpts from Grisham’s epilogue (bolded emphases are mine):

IT HAS OCCURRED TO me as I’ve been writing that I seem to be blaming everyone but myself for how things turned out for me in the White House, especially in the last six months. According to me I was the victim of covid, of Meadows and his people, of my ex, of the former East Wing chief of staff, of some of my own East Wing staff, of some West Wing senior staff, of the president, and even of the first lady at the very end. And although the stories I have laid out are all true and it was very much a perfect storm of certain personalities coming together in opposition to me, I don’t feel that I am a victim who did no wrong. It is my fervent belief that when you are the common denominator in situations like this, you need to look within and determine where your own responsibility lies. People need to hold themselves accountable to situations so that they can learn from them and apply them in the next chapter of life, and that includes me.

I think the first part is obvious: I became heady with power. I got cocky. You get inside the walls of the White House, the most important building in the country and arguably the world, and you are catered to like nowhere else. You go in wanting to help the people of the United States, but I don’t think many people in the Trump administration left there as the best versions of themselves; I know I did not.

Grisham, Stephanie. I’ll Take Your Questions Now (p. 326). Harper. Kindle Edition.

AND

I did think somebody needed to stick around to look out for Mrs. Trump. I was loyal to her personally, and I didn’t want her to be staffed by incompetent or untrustworthy people who didn’t have her best interests at heart. And as she had most always been good to me, I felt gratitude. But her apathy in response to the January 6 riots made it hard for me to stay at the very end.

I also turned a blind eye toward my own falling into a trap I saw over and over again: believing I was a trusted and valued member of Trump World. The plain truth is that most of the Trump family dismisses and cuts people from their lives on a whim. They demand total loyalty, but they are loyal to no one. I don’t blame them, to be honest. They are businesspeople, and business should not be personal. Some people learned that once and walked away; others kept going back for more, and there are many who are still doing it. I allowed my ego to grow in such a way that I never considered that the Trumps would allow me to be treated poorly. I put myself onto the same level as Hope Hicks, Dan Scavino, even Javanka, and that was ludicrous. Mrs. Trump did defend me when she could, and privately she always told me of her anger on my behalf, but I’m not sure it ever went farther than that, and I wrongly expected that it should have.

Finally, and most importantly, I should have spoken up more.

Grisham, Stephanie. I’ll Take Your Questions Now (pp. 326-327). Harper. Kindle Edition.

A lot of narcissistic, abusive people rise to meteoric heights and great fame, with many loyal, hardworking people like Stephanie Grisham working tirelessly and thanklessly to put, and keep, them in power. But not every successful person is like this, nor should they be. These are not qualities that are healthy or desirable in world leaders. Until Stephanie Grisham recognizes and acknowledges that, I fear that she’ll keep making the same mistakes… and allow her ambition to blind her to toxic behaviors from others that will simply make her miserable. More importantly, these behaviors also make innocent people miserable… including the folks who went to the Capitol in January of this year, mistakenly thinking Trump would reward their loyalty by pardoning them for the crimes they committed on his behalf.

Grisham said it herself– the Trumps expect loyalty, “but they are loyal to no one.” Trump even ominously told this to Grisham straight up, when he said to her “I am the only one who matters.” I really think Stephanie Grisham should think about that, and reevaluate her idea of what makes appropriate and effective leaders… or even appropriate people to have in her private life. In order to be a great leader, the leader must care about other people and be a decent person themselves. Otherwise, they’re just power hungry toxic people who use others and spit them out when they’re deemed worthless. They’re just like parasites. And they aren’t even polite or kind about it. At one point, Grisham writes that Trump asked her Grisham’s ex boyfriend if Grisham was “good in bed.” When they later broke up, Trump wanted the details, and didn’t seem to care that Grisham was obviously upset and crying about her pain. Trump has no empathy, and that makes him unworthy of anyone’s vote or attention or anything else.

The fact that Grisham recognizes that the Trumps dismiss and cut people from their lives is a positive step in the right direction. However, I think she still has some work to do, because in the next sentence, she writes that she doesn’t blame them. In fact, there are several times in her book that Grisham makes excuses, not just for the Trumps, but for herself. I recall reading more than once that Grisham had gotten DUIs– maybe it was only one, but I know there was at least one– but she basically explains that she got caught drinking and driving after hanging out with her girlfriends, and blows it off as if it’s not a big deal. Then, there was the Ambien incident, apparently after she’d enjoyed some wine. Maybe she should also seek some professional attention regarding her use of substances.

So… that about does it for my review. I’m not sorry I read I’ll Take Your Questions Now, even though I initially wasn’t inclined to read the book. I don’t agree with Stephanie Grisham’s politics, but I appreciate her decision to share her story. I think Stephanie Grisham is, deep down, an okay, but deeply flawed person… maybe even someone I’d enjoy talking to, in spite of her politics and deep flaws. After all, most of us are deeply flawed. What can I say? I still have Republican friends and family members.

I just hope Stephanie Grisham finds herself a good therapist and explores her own self worth more. My friend Audra shared these two thoughts on Facebook yesterday. If Stephanie Grisham ever reads my review, I hope she’ll read them and take them to heart. Based on her book, I think these are lessons she should practice a bit more.

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bad TV, disasters, Duggars, narcissists, politicians, politics, poor judgment

Jim Bob Duggar makes another run at state politics… this could get entertaining fast!

The featured photo is being posted on the Duggar’s Facebook post about this event… I think it could quickly turn into a shitshow.

It’s another foggy morning in Croatia. I’ve just learned the latest hot Duggar news. In the wake of the scandals that have plagued his famous family ever since it came out what a sex pest eldest son Josh is, Boob has decided to run for public office. Below is the “exciting announcement” that appeared on the official Duggar Facebook page…

What could be prompting Jim Bob to run for Arkansas State Senate District 7 at this time? In about a month, his son, Josh, will be put on trial for possession of child pornography. Josh could go to prison for a very long time. Jim Bob knew about Josh’s problems, which became apparent over 19 years ago. His solution for dealing with Josh’s obvious problems was to shave the lad’s head and send him off to do pointless physical labor for a friend. As we can see, Josh’s time doing hard labor did nothing to curb his perverted appetites. And now, the father of seven is likely to lose his freedom.

Given all of that… NOW Jim Bob thinks he should run for office? Is he doing this to take attention away from Josh? Boob does have some rather self-centered proclivities. He would probably enjoy the spotlight, since the Duggars aren’t on reality TV anymore. And I’m sure there’s money involved… and definitely power. But does he really think that this won’t be a total shitshow? And why can’t he just enjoy what he has?

Years ago, on my old blog, I wrote a post about the Duggar family that was called “Why don’t you eat what you’ve got?” I titled it as a nod to my mom, who used to say that and give me a look of disgust when I wanted more food and hadn’t enjoyed what was already on my plate. I compared my mom’s irritation and disgust to the irritation and disgust I experienced when I saw the Duggars announcing another pregnancy and reminding everyone about how God kept “gifting” them with more children. I found that sentiment extremely insensitive and narcissistic, especially since so many people who want to be parents can’t be due to situations beyond their control.

Not long after I wrote that post– I think it was written after the news came out about Michelle’s pregnancy with Jubilee Shalom– the Duggars announced that Michelle had miscarried. One of my friends, then a Duggar fan, got upset with me because she thought I was making fun of the Duggars after their loss. I wasn’t making fun of them. I don’t wish miscarriages on anyone. But I do think that when you have many children under 18, and you almost died during your last pregnancy, and your last baby was born extremely prematurely and almost died, you might want to consider whether or not you need to keep accepting God’s “gifts”. And I wondered why Jim Bob and Michelle couldn’t simply enjoy what they had? Why did they need more?

Well… I think we know why they need more. Jim Bob Duggar, like Donald Trump, and all the other power and money hungry men who want to control women, craves fame and power… and money, of course. They can’t simply enjoy what they have. They have to keep going for more. And it doesn’t matter that the family has been disgraced by a son with obvious sexual perversions who is about to go on trial. It doesn’t matter if the adult children in the family never got paid for being on the reality show and one of them had to sue to get minimum wages for her part on the show. It doesn’t matter that there are still children under 18 in the house who need their parents… but their parents have abdicated that responsibility to the older siblings. And it doesn’t matter that conservative politics are literally killing people.

Jim Bob says he’s “pro-life”. Then he says he’s “pro-gun”, which means that he cares more about his guns than the already born babies and people who died due to gun violence. He doesn’t want to force his constituents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, because “people should be able to make that choice for themselves”. But he has no empathy for a young girl who has been the unwilling recipient of a rapist’s sperm and winds up pregnant… He has no thought for the young girl who was raped by her big brother or uncle or grandfather and gets pregnant. Pregnancy isn’t contagious. COVID-19 is, and it doesn’t discriminate.

But even without all of that… I just think it’s crazy for Boob to re-launch a political career now, when he’s eldest son is about to be tried by the feds. I know he’s not Josh, but it does seem to be an extremely tone deaf thing to be doing. But then, I’ve come to expect that from the tone deaf Duggars. One only has to listen to Josh sing “The Loyalty Song” to his wife, Anna, at their wedding and then look at recent history to see that.

Ugh… just dreadful! I know some of his sisters play piano well, but they’re still tone deaf.

Well… we’ll see how this goes. I’m sure some people will vote for him, just like some people will vote for Donald Trump again. I just think this is proof positive that Jim Bob Duggar only cares about himself. It’s pathetic and embarrassing, and I think this could be a decision that he ultimately regrets. But he’ll never show it to the masses… because that would entail showing people that he has a soul and empathy and the slightest scintilla of shame. He’s been in the public eye for a long time now, and I have yet to see any evidence that he has any of those qualities.

The Duggars are like an unusually virulent case of herpes… and they just keep erupting at the most embarrassing and inconvenient times…

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healthcare, politicians, politics, poor judgment

The COVID curse… Lora Reinbold, an outspoken conservative, comes down with the virus.

Several weeks ago, I read about Republican Alaska lawmaker, Senator Lora Reinbold, having an unusual problem. Reinbold represents Eagle River, Alaska, which is near Anchorage. The capital of Alaska is Juneau. Reinbold is not able to travel to Juneau, because it would require flying on Alaska Airlines, which is the only airline that offers flights this time of year between Anchorage and Juneau. Reinbold is not allowed to fly on Alaska Airlines right now.

Last April, Lora Reinbold, an outspoken critic regarding federal face mask mandates, got into an argument with Alaska Airlines staff at Juneau International Airport about the mask rules. Because of that heated exchange, which was captured on video and went viral, Reinbold has been banned from flying on Alaskan Airlines until the federal mask mandates are lifted. At this writing, they have been extended until January 18, 2022.

I’m sure a new meme is forthcoming…

Delta Airlines offers flights to Juneau at other times of the year, but is not offering them now. So Lora Reinbold’s choices are to either take a boat, or drive for two days, to get to the state capital. She has been excused from legislative sessions until next year.

Meanwhile, as she sits at home, stuck in Eagle River, Reinbold has now come down with COVID-19 herself. She announced on social media that she’s got the virus and has promised to defeat it. Below is a screenshot of her Facebook post.

Well… I do hope she can stay out of the hospital. But other outspoken conservatives before her have made similarly bold statements on social media and did not survive to do a victory dance.

And here’s a follow up posted 12 hours later. She paired this with a photo of a sweet looking golden retriever.

I hope, for her sake, she’s right… but I wouldn’t necessarily bet the farm. She might still “buy the farm”, if you know what I mean.

All of the photos I have seen of Lora Reinbold show her wearing what looks like some kind of plastic mask thingy. It does appear to cover her nose and mouth, but it’s made of a clear material, so her whole face can be seen. I don’t know if that type of “mask” is effective or not. I’ve never seen anyone else wearing them. I do remember last year, some waiters and waitresses at a restaurant Bill and I like had a sort of clear shield that covered the lower half of their faces. We visited that restaurant the other day and no one was wearing them then; they all had surgical masks.

I don’t know if the plastic mask Reinbold has been shown wearing does more or less than a surgical mask would. I have never had much faith in cloth masks and, in fact, have never worn a cloth mask myself. They aren’t allowed in Germany, anyway. I mean, you can wear one if you want to, but if you want to go into a shop or take public transportation, you have to use a medical grade mask. I have stated from the beginning that if I have to wear a mask, I prefer them to be masks I didn’t buy on Etsy. I also think that staying away from people is better than wearing a mask, especially when the isolation is coupled with a COVID vaccination. I also don’t know if Reinbold is vaccinated. It was not made clear in the articles I’ve read. Based on the screenshot below, I suspect she’s not been innoculated.

Oh dear.

I do think it’s interesting that after she made a big stink about wearing a mask on a plane and referred to the masks as “suffocating”, Lora Reinbold now has the virus. Now she has to put on a brave face to her public. She says she’s doing fine. I truly hope she is. Alaska hospitals don’t need another patient. From what I’ve read, hospitals in Alaska are having a hell of a time dealing with COVID patients.

I don’t cheer for anyone getting COVID-19, even people who act like fools. Well… okay, maybe I did kind of smile when Trump got it, but that’s because I despise Donald Trump. I think Trump is dangerous and repulsive. But I recognize that even Trump has loved ones who would miss him if he died. I’m sure Lora Reinbold does, too. Aside from that, I’ve read that dying of COVID is a pretty awful way to go. I try hard not to wish suffering on others, even if sometimes I fail. I’m human… but the Golden Rule is still a good mantra. If I were sick and dying, I would hope most people wouldn’t cheer about it. I know a few people would, though. I’ve got my enemies.

What I do find concerning is the way people “laugh” about COVID. Below is a comment someone left for Senator Reinbold. Notice that she got “laughing” reactions. I don’t understand why people are so shitty. It appears that the people who “laughed” are liberal types… I guess it just goes to show that assholes come in all political flavors.

She’s a human being who just lost her mother. That’s not really a laughing matter, is it?

I do hope Lora Reinbold recovers and is able to stay at home. And I hope if her “get well soon” recipe works, she’ll share it and help save some lives. However, it’s my guess that she may be in for a tough time… I have some friends who have had COVID. At least a couple of them had to spend time in the hospital. We’re all about ten years younger than Lora Reinbold is.

I like to hear about people getting over COVID-19, especially since while some of us are sick from COVID, we’re all really sick of COVID. So count me among those who hope that Lora Reinbold gets well soon, even if she did make an ass of herself at the airport. I don’t blame her for hating face masks. I hate them too. I hope someday, they are no longer necessary. I do my best to stay out of situations that would require me to wear them for long, including flying on airplanes. Bill has to go to Poland next month. He invited me to go with him, but it would require flying, and I just don’t know that I want to deal with that, even if I would enjoy seeing Warsaw.

I do think that the situation with flying isn’t going to improve as long as masks are required. Many people keep saying they’re “not a big deal”, but clearly they ARE a big deal to some folks. There’s been a noticeable uptick in bad behavior in airports and on planes since the masks became required. So obviously, not everyone is okay with wearing them. And while I cooperate with the mandates myself, I can understand why some people feel the need to fight them, even if I don’t condone violence or bad behavior. What I’m saying is that I get that the masks suck, and I think it should be okay to say that without being “corrected” by the PC police. At the same time, COVID sucks more… and we’re not going to get past this shit until people cooperate.

I don’t think Lora Reinbold’s approach to COVID is a particularly smart one, but it’s her life. I don’t know that Ivermectin and vitamins are going to save her, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe she has a super excellent immune system… or maybe she got a less dangerous variant… or maybe she’s going to be lucky. Time will tell. I hope the other conservative pundits who want to publicly declare their superiority over COVID will take note. Maybe they shouldn’t say it out loud. At this writing, several conservative radio show hosts have mocked COVID and later died of the virus. It’s way past time more people started taking this seriously. COVID is not a joke.

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book reviews, politics

Repost: A review of First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies

This review appeared on my original blog on July 18, 2016. It’s posted here as/is.

I’ve never been one to follow politics too much.  They don’t interest me as much as they probably should. However, like most Americans, I’ve been exposed to politics despite my best efforts to avoid them.  Some time ago, I decided to read Kate Anderson Brower’s 2016 book, First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies.  I see on Amazon.com that this book was released in mid April, just a few weeks after Nancy Reagan’s death at age 94.  She was obviously still living at press time because Brower refers to Mrs. Reagan as if she’s not dead.  Nancy Reagan, along with several other first ladies, gets plenty of airtime in Brower’s book. 

I was surprised by how interested I was in reading about America’s modern first ladies.  Brower has an engaging writing style and includes a lot of information about Jacqueline Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Patricia Nixon, Betty Ford, Rosalynn Carter, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michelle Obama.  She showed how important and stressful the job of First Lady can be and illuminates how each of the First Ladies highlighted in her book tackled the role. 

Brower also includes some fun tidbits about relationships between First Ladies.  Some of her descriptions are more flattering than others.  I was surprised by how much regard Brower seems to have for Lady Bird Johnson, a First Lady who served before I was born.  I was less surprised by how Nancy Reagan is described.  Brower paints her as a woman who was extremely devoted and overprotective of her husband, yet something of a bitch to most other people.  Barbara Bush was apparently much beloved among White House staffers, while Michelle Obama evidently can’t wait to move out of the White House.

While I did mostly enjoy Kate Anderson Brower’s book, I do have one major criticism.  This book is not written in a chronological manner, so the First Ladies’ stories are mostly presented in a hodge podge way.  Sometimes it felt like I was rereading passages I had already read.  I think that had she presented each First Lady in her own chapter, it would have been easier to keep everyone’s stories straight. 

I also felt like it took too long to get through the book.  I’m a fairly speedy reader, especially when I’m reading something interesting.  It took me a few weeks to finish First Women.  This book could have used another round or two with an editor for streamlining and clarifying. 

Overall, First Women is a somewhat entertaining read and I did learn some new things about life in the White House, as well as gained some insight into some of the women who have served as First Lady.  But, even though it took me awhile to get through the book, I was kind of surprised when I finally hit the end of it.  It didn’t seem like Brower really summarized anything, so when the end of the book finally came, I was left thinking “That’s it?”

This is the first book I’ve ever read by Kate Anderson Brower.  She is apparently a well-regarded author and previously published The Residence, which was a bestseller.  Others who have read The Residence claim that First Women includes too much repeated information from the first book.  Since I haven’t read The Residence, I can’t be sure if that’s true.  However, having read follow up books from other authors, my guess is that there’s truth in the claim that some information is recycled.  So I would recommend that anyone tempted to read First Women after having read The Residencegive it some time.  Although I know many authors rehash things in subsequent books on similar subjects, it can feel like a rip off when that happens.

For me personally, First Women was a decent read because I’m not a trivia geek when it comes to U.S. Presidents and their wives (thus far).  Those who already know a lot about First Ladies of the 20th and 21st centuries may find this book a little too pedestrian.  And again, I do think that this would have been a stronger book had the First Ladies been presented in a more linear way with less redundant information.  I think I’d give it 3.5 stars.

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narcissists, politicians, Trump

Donald Trump’s last gasps of desperation…

Last night, as the last holiday weekend of 2020-21 was winding down, I saw the headline flash across Facebook. The Washington Post was running an exclusive story about how Donald Trump, lame duck POTUS, was shamelessly trying to guilt, cajole, threaten, and manipulate Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, into somehow “finding” 11,780 votes and overturning Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. The Post’s story included an edited version of Trump’s hour long discussion with Raffensperger and other Georgia elections officials. They later posted the full, unedited phone call. I know at least one of my Facebook friends resubscribed to the Post just so they could listen, but it’s now been posted on YouTube, and the media has been spreading this story like COVID-19.

Absolutely PATHETIC! He needs a ball gag.

My initial response to this news was outrage and disgust. However, ultimately, I’m not surprised Trump is trying this tactic. He is desperate to remain in power. He will leave no stone unturned in his relentless quest to stay in the White House, even though the majority of people in a proven secure and fair election want him OUT! With every day that passes, Trump’s hopes of overturning the election results dwindle, yet he keeps trying to bully his way past the results. He continues to try to rewrite history and alter the truth, even though it’s clear that he lost, fair and square (as Marcia Brady would put it).

I think Trump wants to stay in charge for a lot of reasons. The main one is that he is a malignant narcissist. Malignant narcissists hate to lose, and they will stop at nothing to avoid that particular narcissistic injury. But, besides the fact that Trump is a narcissist, I think he’s also afraid of what is going to happen to him once he’s no longer enjoying the protections that come from being the U.S. President. Once January 20, 2021 rolls around, he will once again be a private citizen, and that means he will be fair game for those who would like to sue him or see him behind bars.

If you listen to Trump talk, he speaks of rumors spreading about corruption. He throws out a bunch of figures and untrue statements. I must give credit to Brad Raffensperger, who kept his cool and calmly told Mr. Trump that his comments were untrue. He wasn’t swayed by Trump’s threats and never once sounded intimidated by Trump and his brazen attempts to steamroll him. Even when Trump reminded Raffensperger that he’s a Republican– perhaps trying to demand party loyalty– Raffensperger remained unruffled. Massive kudos and congratulations to Mr. Raffensperger for his ability to stay calm and either not laugh outright at Trump, or show any wavering in his duty to report accurate and fair results of the election, regardless of his affiliation with the Republican Party.

I would like to ask Trump this… if Georgia’s elections results were improper, why aren’t other people in an uproar? What about the lower political races? Wouldn’t there be corruption there, too? I also find it hilarious that Trump is complaining about cheating when there were many signs that Republicans were doing their best to suppress voters by removing mailboxes, cutting postal worker overtime, and cutting down on the number of ballot boxes where votes could legally be collected. Despite all of these efforts, Trump still LOST! Obviously, people want him to leave office, but he won’t go without an embarrassing and increasingly futile fight. Even people in his own party are turning on him. They don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.

As I write this, I’m listening to Trump’s unedited phone call with the Georgia officials. At this writing, he’s been speaking for almost 13 minutes straight, without another person being allowed to get a word in edgewise. That thirteen minutes of him rambling non-stop drivel, alleging illegal voting practices and fraud… and not a single break in the stream of consciousness word salad to allow the officials to break in until one of them finally responds. They tell him they have recounted the ballots by hand and got the same result as the voting machines from Dominion got. But he’s still not going to back down. In fact, Trump falsely insists that he won the state, when he very clearly didn’t.

I wonder, though, what would happen if somehow Trump did somehow get the election overturned. Would people accept it? Probably the only people who would would be those who doggedly support him, despite his obvious cheating and lying. I have been around since the Nixon era, and I think Donald Trump is by far the most criminal and corrupt president we have ever had… and that is saying a lot! Even if Trump were to stay in office, he’s already lost massive respect from legions of people around the world. His staying in office would truly make the United States even more of a laughingstock than it already is.

He’s such a fucking liar!

But people are still championing Trump, and believing the ridiculous conspiracy theories, even though it’s pretty obvious Trump is a loser. They ignore all of Trump’s shortcomings and continue to make excuses for him, and his deplorable behavior. I think it’s partly because human beings hate to be wrong and have a hard time changing their opinions, even when the facts support changing their opinions. But it’s also because a lot of people have been duped into thinking that Donald Trump is a “common man” who speaks like they do and eats Big Macs. He’s certainly not a common man. He was born into a wealthy family, educated at private schools, and has never earned his own money. He’s not even a good businessman, his businesses having gone bankrupt six times between 1991 and 2009, and his best selling book, The Art of the Deal, was ghostwritten. He’s had two failed marriages, and it looks like his third could easily fail. I mean, Melania doesn’t seem to like her husband very much at all, although she might stick around for Barron’s sake.

This wasn’t the first time. She clearly can’t stand him.

I read this morning that President-elect Joe Biden doesn’t want to pursue charges against Trump’s clearly criminal actions. I can understand that. It would further polarize the American people, and right now, we desperately need to come together and conquer the pandemic. But the other side of me thinks Trump needs to be prosecuted for his obviously treasonous acts in trying to steal the election and undermining the people’s will. It probably comes from my own history of having to swallow bullying behavior from so many people for so many years. I have no more patience for it.

By the way, plenty of people in the military dislike Trump. He did not “win the military, a lot.” Historically, many military folks do vote Republican, but that doesn’t mean they don’t see an obvious conman who wants to undermine the Constitution and referred to them as “suckers and losers”. In this video, you can hear Trump ask the officials to “give him a break” and give him 11,000 votes! Give US a break and leave the White House! We want an adult in the White House who does not punish people for doing their jobs and telling the truth!

Donald Trump, YOU’RE FIRED!

Listening to Trump’s non-sensical bullshit is infuriating to me. It’s childish and stupid, and is about as factual as our ex landlady’s claim that we “dumped” a piece of shit refrigerator on her and stole her “nice” fridge (which, in fact, I purchased from Amazon because that piece of shit fridge was in the house when we moved in). Like our ex landlady, Trump doesn’t want to face facts and pay the piper. In fact, I think Mr. Trump has a lot in common with pathetic, common bullies who live among us and do whatever they can to get their way simply by dogged stubbornness, even if it means outright commiting crimes. I, for one, have had enough of it. I think a lot of Americans have. And I cannot wait to see this lying, cheating, thieving orange fuckhead escorted out of Washington, DC., once and for all.

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