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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complaints, controversies, LDS, mental health, narcissists, social media, YouTube

Self-preservation and the “gift of fear”, rather than bigotry…

I kind of don’t really want to write this post, because I have a bad feeling that it might be controversial… But I saw something yesterday that annoyed me a bit, and since it’s been kind of a difficult week anyway, I figure I might as well post about it.

Some time ago, someone out there in Facebook Land encouraged me to follow Father Nathan Monk. I think it might have been someone in the Duggar Family News group. According to his “about section”, Father Nathan Monk is a best selling author, “depressive humorist”, and former priest. He often posts things that are wise, funny, and insightful. However, there are times when he’s a little too “woke” for me, and I get annoyed. I know at least one time, I unfollowed for awhile. I think last month it happened, and I took a break for a month. Recently, his posts started popping up on my feed again. I mostly enjoyed them, until I saw the one below…

Naturally, he got many comments from people who completely agreed with his take on why so many people don’t like Meghan Markle. Lots of people were jumping on the bandwagon that people “hate” Meghan just because she’s “black”. I noticed that anyone who disagreed with any part of Father Nathan Monk’s post was immediately piled upon by other posters, seemingly eager to shut up the lone dissenter. People were calling the guy a bigot and a misogynist. Granted, he did turn out to be a Trump supporter from Britain, but even that doesn’t necessarily make him a bigot. I thought his comments regarding Meghan made a lot of sense, his political preferences notwithstanding. To me, it just proves that not all Trump supporters are necessarily crazy or stupid. They just haven’t reached the conclusions that I have, for whatever reason. Like the guy posted, “it’s okay to disagree.” I don’t know why he can easily see Meghan Markle’s issues and not see Trump’s, but then, I don’t know anything about him. Maybe he’s right about Trump and I’m wrong, although I doubt it. I suspect he just cares more about money than I do.

Now, if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might know that I’m not one of Meghan Markle’s fans. My dislike of Meghan Markle has absolutely NOTHING at all to do with her racial makeup. I couldn’t care less about that. I don’t care that she’s an American who had the audacity to marry a British prince, either. I think people should be allowed to love and marry whomever they choose. And I also think that Harry should have been allowed to chart his own course in life, as we all should. I watched the interview Meghan and Harry had with Oprah Winfrey, and a lot of what Harry said made sense to me. I’ve always liked him, and when he and Meghan first got together, I was genuinely happy for both of them. I cried when I watched their wedding, especially at this part…

The man who sings the solo never fails to bring me to tears. This is just beautiful. I was even inspired to make my own version of this song based on this interpretation, which is one of so many over the years.

Here’s proof that I watched and loved their wedding, and this song…

When I heard this and watched the wedding, I had high hopes for this union.

What surprises me is looking at the congregation and not seeing that much emotion… but it is Britain. If I had been there in person, I would have been sobbing. That rendition is– indeed– glorious!

Below is what I had to say in late November 2017, when Harry and Meghan’s engagement was announced…

A screenshot from my original blog in an entry posted on November 29, 2017, so you can see that I’m not making this up… On another, unrelated point, I see that the post in question was about 85% about a certain lurker from Colorado. And given that it was late 2017, when we were having serious issues with our ex landlady, I now know it was the former tenant, spying on me and reporting her findings. I had titled the post “Snoopin’ and poopin’,” and that was definitely what she was doing. Sorry… I know I should forget about this, given what happened to former tenant, but it still really pisses me off.

As you can see, I had nothing bad to say about Meghan in 2017. I thought she was pretty, and Harry seemed happy. I did not give a shit about her race, and in fact, the two people I posted about her resembling are famous and beautiful WHITE people. But even if they were Black, it wouldn’t matter to me.

In May 2018, a few days after Harry’s and Meghan’s nuptials, I posted this :

See? Nothing derisive here about Meghan’s skin color.

Also from May 2018, I had written a post about gun violence in the USA, and added some comments about the royal wedding between Harry and Meghan. Again, totally positive and hopeful comments from yours truly.

Are these comments racist?

And finally, two more comments from October 2018, when Meghan announced her pregnancy… Nothing negative or racist here, either. And here’s a link to my post about Harry’s interview with Oprah last year. I had sympathy then, too, even if, by that point, I was liking Meghan less.

I’m not going to claim that there aren’t a lot of racists out there who don’t like Meghan Markle only because of her skin tone. I’m sure there are plenty of small-minded people who think she had no business marrying a British prince simply due to her being a biracial American woman with middle class roots. My point is that not all of us dislike her for those reasons. And just as it’s not right for people to make assumptions about others due to things they can’t help, like their skin color, it’s also wrong to assume that people are racist just because they’ve come to conclusions that you haven’t. I would gather that coming to that conclusion, even if it’s just for well-intentioned “woke” purposes, is just as wrong as stereotyping people due to their skin color is. In other words, people who instantly cry “RACISM” when someone says something disapproving of Meghan Markle are really not much better than the gossip mongers.

H.G. Tudor, who has been notably relentless and snarky in his observations of Meghan Markle’s behavior, put out what I think is a pretty good video. The main idea is that no, we don’t know her… but people who DO know her have spoken about her behavior. How many more people need to speak up before people realize that not everyone dislikes her due to her skin color?

I don’t like Meghan Markle because I don’t like her behavior. She makes my “cluster B” chimes go off. I’m not the only one who feels this way. And we’re not wrong to have these feelings, because we have had exposure to narcissists, and experience has taught us that these types give off signals that are triggering. Once you’ve been around that type of person, you can pick up on the vibes. Even though I get those vibes– mainly those of hypocrisy, fakeness, and self-centeredness– I totally get that I could be misinterpreting. Experience has told me that I’m pretty perceptive, and my perceptions are often right on target.

There’s a reason that people have this “sixth sense”, by the way. It’s part of self-preservation. Back in 2010, in my old blog, I posted about a book I read called The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. It was recommended by a YouTuber who called himself Lithodid Man. I blogged about the video by Lithodid Man, and he eventually found the post and left me a comment. Below is his video, which is now twelve years old…

Lithodid Man, who is an atheist, talks about being approached by a very insistent evangelical proselytizer who was trying to wear him down and get access to his minor son. He explains that he had read de Becker’s book, and it opened his eyes to the manipulative techniques the guy was using to get Lithodid Man to agree to let his son go to a church group.
An excerpt of my 2010 post about The Gift of Fear.

Gavin de Becker’s book is about recognizing when your senses are telling you of a threat, and acting accordingly, and in your own best interests, to protect yourself from harm. Our culture often pushes us, through peer pressure, to think one way or the other, to be agreeable and not make a fuss, to not be a “Karen”, to always cooperate and not make any waves… And people who are manipulative, narcissistic, or otherwise up to no good, are only too happy to exploit those pressures we live under to be nice at all costs.

Being nice is not a bad thing, but one shouldn’t be nice simply because it’s the path of least resistance. Sometimes, those instincts are DEAD ON… and tragically, we don’t realize until something heartbreaking has happened. For more on this, read any of my posts about Bill’s ex wife, and what has happened because he was “too nice” and too afraid to upset other people. Granted, it hasn’t been all bad. If he hadn’t married Ex, we might not have gotten married. Some other woman would have almost certainly treated him a lot better and he probably would have stayed married to her, even if the match wasn’t as compatible as ours is. But a lot of people were hurt because Bill ignored “the gift of fear” and didn’t listen to his instincts. He has told me on many occasions that on his wedding day to Ex, he had a voice telling him not to do it. He ignored that voice and suffered the consequences– kind of like Diana, former Princess of Wales, did. He learned a lot of tough lessons. Some of them have rubbed off on me.

Here’s another example. For years, I was quite vocal about how much I dislike Mormonism. I still dislike it, but feel less compelled to speak out about it these days, mainly because Bill’s younger daughter, who is LDS, now talks to him. I know that there are really good people in Mormonism. I knew that, even when I was more outspoken about Mormonism. My disdain for the church had NOTHING to do with the people within it. I don’t dislike people simply due to their religious beliefs. If that were the case, I never would have married Bill, who was still LDS on our wedding day. It was the institution and doctrine itself that I saw as damaging, because it was used as a tool to separate my husband from his daughters. He wasn’t “worthy” to be their father or baptise them, according to Ex and the church itself. He didn’t believe in the church’s teachings, so he was less fit. This, even though Ex was the one who was abusing and neglecting their children, and Bill himself.

So I determined that I don’t like Mormonism for that reason, not because I’m overall a religious bigot. And I also know that the Mormons aren’t the only ones who pull that shit… they just happen to be the ones who have affected us directly. I don’t like the other religions where those kinds of divisive practices prevail, either. In fact, I’m not that big on religion as a whole, but I especially dislike really restrictive, controlling ones where everyone has to believe and think the same way, and criticism isn’t allowed. Does that automatically make me a bigot? I don’t think so. But some people insisted that I am one, no matter how much I tried to explain my reasoning to them. Thankfully, most of them are now out of my life. Likewise, my disdain for Meghan Markle has nothing to do with her skin color or race. It’s because I recognize problematic behaviors that I think are toxic.

It annoys me to read posts like Father Nathan Monk’s, that presume to lecture everyone about being “racist” against Meghan Markle and discounting why people might not like her. First of all, she is a very public figure. She chose to be a public figure. One could argue that making that choice, in and of itself, is kind of a narcissistic thing to do. Yes, there are famous people out there who aren’t really all that “public”. I’ve read and heard about Meghan Markle’s desire for “privacy”, and yet she’s still everywhere.

Sure, I could give Meghan a pass for attending the Queen’s funeral, and even the Platinum Jubilee, but she’s clearly been trying to monetize her association with the British Royal Family. She still uses that title– the Duchess of Sussex– even as she publicly disdains Harry’s family and disowns her own family. This might be easy to ignore if these folks were regular citizens, but they aren’t. The British Royal Family is extremely public.

While I’m not generally a fan of saying, “you knew what you were getting into”, I do think that Meghan had to know that she wouldn’t be living a private life if she married Harry. It’s not even like she was like Diana. Diana was 19 years old when she got married, and didn’t even have a college degree. Meghan was a divorcee in her late 30s when she and Harry got married. And Meghan is certainly old enough to remember Diana, and what happened to her. Moreover, other people who married into royalty have been harassed– Sarah Ferguson definitely was. Camilla Parker Bowles was. Even Kate Middleton was. So, in that sense, she wasn’t alone… and wasn’t really treated that differently, other than the fact that Meghan is biracial and American. I’m not saying it’s right that the press harassed these ladies. What I am saying is that they were all being pursued and treated similarly poorly by the press. Prince Edward’s wife, Sophie, is the only one I don’t remember being messed with as much by the press. Maybe it’s because she was involved in public relations herself, if memory serves.

I don’t know Meghan Markle personally, and almost surely never will. So, the fact that I see her behavior as obnoxious and don’t like it is irrelevant, anyway. It’s not like I’m sending her hate mail, or even posting a lot of toxic stuff about her. I don’t even hang around with a bunch of girlfriends and giggle as we drink wine and trade catty gossip about her. I just pick up on these toxic vibes that I can’t ignore. I still wish Meghan and Harry luck with their marriage, particularly since there are now children involved. And I even hope that the two of them prove me wrong and have a long, successful, and happy marriage. I would be even happier if Meghan stopped seeming so artificial and tone deaf to me. And yes, I will continue to write about my observations of her behavior as I see fit. But, whether or not people believe me, my feelings have nothing to do with Meghan’s race. And to make that sweeping and insulting judgment about anyone who has criticisms of Meghan Markle is pretty lazy, limited, and disrespectful, in my view. People are going to “do themselves”, though… so for the sake of my sanity, I’ll try to ignore the bullshit and drive on.

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book reviews, celebrities, narcissists

A review of Revenge: Meghan, Harry and the war between the Windsors, by Tom Bower…

Not long ago, I wrote that I had been following H.G. Tudor’s deliciously snarky YouTube videos about British investigative author Tom Bower’s brand new book, Revenge. I hadn’t been planning to read Revenge, but Tudor, who has a velvety British accent and a hilarious sense of humor as he narrates, made me give in to temptation. I ordered the book last Friday; it arrived on Monday, and I’ve just now finished it. I’ve also been continuing to watch Tudor’s narration videos, which include his interpretations of the book through the lens of what he called Meghan’s “narcissistic behavior”.

To be clear, I agree with Mr. Tudor that Meghan Markle is probably a narcissist, although not having met her personally, I can’t say that for certain. Tom Bower, likewise, seems to think Meghan is an incredibly selfish, self-serving, and despicable person. Bower is the author of at least 25 books about famous people, to include members of the British Royal Family. He is known for being a very thorough reporter, and claims that he interviewed over 80 people for his book. Of course, a lot of what he writes about was also covered in the press. Overall, having read this book, one gets the sense that Meghan Markle is bad news for the British Royal Family and a real threat to the monarchy.

When I ordered this book, it was not yet offered on Amazon.com. I had to order a physical copy of it from Amazon.de. I don’t read a lot of actual books these days, preferring to read stuff on my Kindle, because it’s cheaper, more convenient, and doesn’t require me to find a place for the book when I’m finished with it. Now that I’ve read the book, I wish I’d held out for Kindle. It’s now available in the Amazon.com store, and much less expensive. But, as I’m not always the most disciplined when it comes to small impulse buys, I decided not to wait. Bill doesn’t mind that I do this. His first wife had a habit of buying cars, landscaping, houses, and furniture when she felt the impulse to buy things.

So anyway, I wasn’t expecting that much from Bower’s book. I read that he had worked for The Daily Mail, which is one of Britain’s biggest tabloids. I knew it would be salacious, and it was. I don’t mind salacious books. I do mind typos, though, and there were a few in this book. Bower brings up Meghan Markle’s work on Suits frequently, and at one point, he even wrote about how Princes Charles and William wore suits to Prince Philip’s funeral, to avoid embarrassing Harry, who wasn’t allowed to wear his uniform, and Prince Andrew, who was recently stripped of his honors. Instead of writing “suits”, as a common noun, Bower wrote “Suits“, as if he was writing about Meghan’s USA Network show, Suits. In another spot, he referred to Kate Middleton’s “Alexandra McQueen” outfit. I think he meant Alexander McQueen. And in still another, he refers to Pennsylvania as part of New England, and it’s not. These are a few examples I can think of offhand. They aren’t a huge deal, but I did notice. Better editing and fact checking is indicated. But then, this book is over 500 pages long and exhaustively researched, cited, and furnished with lots of endnotes. There were bound to be a couple of mistakes somewhere.

Bower starts at the beginning, detailing Meghan Markle’s birth to parents, Doria Ragland, who is Black, and Thomas Markle, who is White, in Los Angeles, California, on August 4, 1981. She was the only child between her parents, although Thomas Markle had two children from his first marriage, Samantha and Tom Jr. Samantha was originally named Yvonne, but she changed her name to Samantha. She is in a wheelchair, because she has multiple sclerosis. Her brother, Tom, reportedly has issues with bankruptcies and alcoholism, and has a son who is estranged. Doria Ragland is presented as kind of a “hippy dippy” yoga enthusiast who later became a social worker. They divorced when Meghan was young, but stayed in touch and even had amicable dinners together as Meghan came of age. Meghan was reportedly called “Flower” and treated like a princess, her every whim catered to, especially by her father. Sadly, Meghan and her father are now famously on the outs… My husband can relate to that, since he’s on the outs with one of his daughters, too.

Bower continues detailing Meghan’s life with astonishing comprehensiveness, covering old boyfriends, old school friends, old agents and colleagues, and frequently shedding light on some of the stories we’ve heard since Meghan burst onto the international scene in late 2017. As Bower paints it, Meghan was looking to get ahead, and constantly used people, discarding and/or ghosting them when she was finished with them. As someone who studies narcissism, this pattern is very familiar to me. I suspect the same thing will one day happen to Harry… but maybe I’m wrong. In fact, I hope I am, for their children’s sakes. The overwhelming message, though, is that Meghan craves money, success, prestige, and power. And, as Harry famously stated as wedding preparations were being made in 2018, “What Meghan wants, Meghan gets.” I think, in the coming years, those words could end up haunting Harry.

It must be heartbreaking for Her Majesty, the Queen, to see her grandson’s fall from public favor. I might even blame Harry, except I don’t think he was particularly savvy about Meghan’s type. He seemed lonely and aimless, and other women he had dated had wisely steered clear of joining the British Royal Family. Sure, there are a lot of perks that come from being royal, but with that privilege comes huge responsibilities and lots of rules and protocol to follow. Harry’s other girlfriends hadn’t wanted to live life in a fishbowl as a condition of being famous and wealthy. Meghan, on the other hand, seemed to want to take Harry’s mother’s place as the “People’s Princess”. Or, at least that’s how she seemed to want people to see her. Unfortunately for Meghan, she doesn’t have a scintilla of Diana’s charisma or instinctive way of relating to regular people. In fact, Meghan is merely an actress, and not a very good one, at that. She plays at being a caring, loving, compassionate role model, as she jets around in private planes, holds her children hostage from their extended family members, and never does anything without a camera crew. And anyone who calls her out for that behavior is quickly labeled a “racist” or a “misogynist” or even a “racist misogynist”.

Bower writes about the infamous Apple TV interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey last year, and adds more details to that story. It was quite a betrayal to the British Royal Family, and probably one of the main reasons why Harry and Meghan were so frozen out at Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in June. The Royals don’t want Harry and Meghan using them for their Netflix and Spotify careers, nor for Harry’s upcoming memoirs, which will probably be very humiliating for the whole family… including Harry.

I mostly found Tom Bower’s book, Revenge, interesting and a quick read, which was nice after my last book, which took weeks to finish. I’m glad I read it, because H.G. Tudor hasn’t been reading the whole chapters… or, at least I don’t think he does. Reading it on my own helps me make sure I get the whole sordid story. 😉 There are photographs included, some of which are from Meghan’s somewhat less glamorous childhood. I definitely noticed a distinct pattern in the tales Bower shared, which are very familiar to anyone who has had dealings with narcissists, or just really self-centered people. I don’t know if Meghan Markle is a certified narcissist; I am not qualified to diagnose her, nor have I ever met her. But I will say that the patterns of her reported behaviors are very recognizable to me, and they are that of diagnosable narcissists. If even half of what is reported in this book regarding her problematic behaviors is true, she definitely is a high conflict person.

I give Meghan props for becoming rich and famous, against all odds… but I have a feeling that, like most alleged narcissists, she’s headed for a big, embarrassing, fall. I just hope that by the time it happens, Harry has moved on. I like Harry, in spite of his recently bratty and petulant behavior. I don’t think he’s a bad guy. I think he’s caught in a web. It happens to the best of people. But again… just my opinion… and lots of people are still on Team Meghan and think she’s the real victim. Even George and Amal Clooney seem to think so. So there is that.

I think I’d give Revenge 3.5 stars out of five, but don’t expect highbrow reading. I suggest downloading the book, watching any of the narrated videos on YouTube (others besides H.G. Tudor are doing them), or checking Revenge out from a library. My rating is probably more generous than some reviewers’, but I like a good juicy read. Fair warning that those who like Meghan and Harry probably won’t like this book.

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disasters, ethics, healthcare, history, law, music

Some people seem to want to WHITEwash the past… and send America back to 1950…

This post has more language in it than usual… proceed with caution.

Bill and I had a really beautiful day yesterday. You can read about it on my travel blog. I love that we still have beautiful days, and that I live in a country where I don’t have to worry about gun violence. I love that I don’t have to worry about the government butting into my private healthcare decisions. I love that I’m 50, and I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant. I love that I don’t have to be around creepy MAGA conservatives who seem to be hellbent on controlling women. I feel very fortunate to be where I am right now… but I worry about the future. I’m not a German citizen. I’m not even an ordinary resident.

I used to love my country. When I lived in Armenia, I missed the United States. When I lived in Germany the first time, I missed it less, but was still proud of being an American, where I believed I was “free”. I’m sad to say, I’m not so proud of being American today. I don’t feel like I would be “free” in the United States anymore. And I can’t stand how polarized people are now. There’s no more civility or empathy or decency. There’s just violence and wicked insanity perpetrated by people who care more about money, religion, and power than they do human beings. I’ve watched as some people I used to know as “decent” and kind, are now more concerned about high gas prices than they are the well-being of their friends and neighbors.

Word. It’s interesting to live in a country that knows all about this shit that is happening in the United States today.

In the eight years since I last lived there, I’ve watched the United States gradually turning into a dystopian hellhole, where a pregnant 10 year old rape victim was forced to go to an adjoining state for an abortion. She was lucky enough to be able to get the very necessary procedure done in Indiana. If this had happened a few weeks from now, the Ohio child who got pregnant because of some depraved pervert, probably would have had to go even further away than Indiana to get an abortion. Indiana politicians want to force women to birth, too. They just didn’t have a trigger ban law against abortion, like Ohio does. In Ohio, there’s no right to abortion in cases of rape and incest. It’s just so cruel and infuriating… I think the people who denied this poor baby an abortion are the vilest sorts of people who belong in the deepest parts of Hell! There’s no way a ten year old CHILD is prepared to give birth on ANY LEVEL! Cases like this are why abortion must be legal and safe.

My heart breaks for that girl, and all of the other girls who are going to be forced to stay pregnant because of some sick MALE politician! It’s absolutely SICK to me to read that women who have ectopic pregnancies are being forced to wait until they’re near death before a doctor will do anything to save them. It makes me so angry! And it makes me sad. Women will die, and they don’t care.

A little musical wisdom from Joni Mitchell circa 1995… See the lyrics at the end of this post.

In Texas, there’s a proposal to stop teaching children about enslaved people. Instead, the powers that be want to change the language to people who were subjected to “involuntary relocation”. Why? Because some geniuses are afraid of making White children feel badly about their heritage. Last year, Texas passed a law to eliminate topics in school that would make children “feel discomfort”. I don’t think it’s the kids who feel uncomfortable. It’s the privileged White MALE adults who feel that way. They can’t stand to see Confederate statues coming down, and buildings being renamed… So they try to change the culture to one that favors them… as if it were 1950 again, only worse. In 1950, there was a veneer of respectability and civility. Or, at least that’s how it seems to me when I look at footage from that era. But it was really only respectable for White MALES. America was NEVER great for anyone but White MEN. This policy, on its surface, may not seem to relate to forced birthing… but I think if we look deeper, it relates very well. Basically, what these MAGA fuckheads are trying to do, is enslave women and force them back into the home. They are desperately trying to stay relevant.

I’ve been reading about how the mostly MEN in the religious far right are wanting to make abortion even less possible to get, even for people who really need it for their health. They want to make women slaves. They want to pass laws that restrict women’s movements. They want abortion to be banned nationally. They don’t care that women will die because of this. From the Washington Post:

Just moments after the Supreme Court released its decision on Friday, Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R) wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis, urging the Republican to call a special session that would allow the legislature to pass a six-week abortion ban.

The 15-week ban that DeSantis signed into law in April, which allows more than 90 percent of abortions to continue, does not go far enough, Sabatini said.

“The problem is not the governor … it’s cowards in the Republican legislature who have been blocking [the six-week ban],” said Sabatini. Now that Roe has fallen, he added, he is hopeful that the governor and the legislature will “respond to pressure.” (A DeSantis spokesman pointed toward the governor’s statement on Friday pledging to “expand pro-life protections.”)

I HATE these people. I feel nothing but rage and contempt toward the MALES who dare to take privacy and rights away from women. I don’t want to feel this way. It’s not natural or normal for me to feel this toward others. But I am absolutely appalled and offended by the extreme arrogance of these MALES… and I wish I had gone to law school, so I could be a part of the group of feminist lawyers who will make them dearly pay for this stunt. In Missouri, according to the Washington Post:

In Missouri, where abortion was banned almost immediately after the decision came down, state Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R) worries that the state Supreme Court may find protections for abortion in the Missouri Constitution, as other state courts across the country have done in recent years. On abortion-related issues, Coleman said, the state courts are out of step with the legislature, with a history of blocking legislation to defund Planned Parenthood facilities.

Right now, Coleman said, her priority is passing a constitutional amendment — by way of a statewide referendum — that makes clear there is no right to abortion in Missouri.

Coleman is also eager to restrict abortion across state lines, an idea she surfaced in legislation earlier this year and is now being discussed by antiabortion lawmakers across the country. The issue is particularly pertinent in Coleman’s home state of Missouri, where, even before Roe fell, thousands of people streamed across the Missouri-Illinois border for abortion care every year.

Coleman’s bill, which failed to pass in the 2022 legislative session, would allow private citizens to sue anyone who helps a Missouri resident access abortion outside the state, using the novel legal strategy behind the Texas abortion ban, which empowers private citizens to enforce the law through civil litigation. (Mary Elizabeth Coleman should be deeply ashamed of herself. She needs to be drop kicked out of politics.)

Even some younger women are eager to screw over other women by denying them privacy and essential healthcare. Also from the Washington Post:

Kristan Hawkins, president of the national antiabortion organization Students for Life, said she has been in talks with legislators in Missouri, and plans to bring a similar idea to a conference she’s hosting in D.C. this weekend, where over 200 antiabortion leaders will gather to discuss their post-Roe plans.

“I think we can say, ‘Look, if you travel out of state for an abortion, that abortionist can be held liable,’ ” Hawkins said. (Fuck you, Kristan Hawkins! You are a traitor to women!)

I hope that the businesses who have vowed to help their employees access abortion services will put their money where their mouths are, and move the fuck out of these hellhole states where women are becoming second class citizens. That is the only thing that will make these Republican motherfuckers listen to reason. And I hope women of childbearing age who are as angry about this as I am stop having sex with these MALES who want to force them to bear children they don’t want. Either that, or they take the motherfuckers to court as soon as they get pregnant and FORCE them to PAY. How dare they?!

I would expect this kind of thing to be happening in some third world hellhole. I would never expect it in the so-called “land of the free”. But the United States’ MAGA group of misogynistic fuckheads isn’t alone in their campaign against women. In Brazil, a pregnant ten year old was taken away from her family to protect the fetus, after a FEMALE judge failed to convince her to stay pregnant voluntarily. Fortunately, good sense eventually prevailed, and the girl got an abortion a month later. I hope that girl gets the hell out of Brazil someday and lives somewhere more humane.

I’m glad that the Fourth of July is not a holiday in Germany. There’s nothing to celebrate in the United States tomorrow. Our country is getting more and more ridiculous by the day. I don’t think I want to go back there. I know I’ll probably have to, though… and that makes me feel scared. The United States is turning into Gilead. God help us.

Sex Kills (Joni Mitchell)

I pulled up behind a Cadillac
We were waiting for the light
And I took a look at his license plate
It said, “just ice”
Is justice just ice?
Governed by greed and lust?
Just the strong doing what they can
And the weak suffering what they must?
Oh, and the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
Sex kills

Doctors’ pills give you brand new ills
And the bills bury you like an avalanche
And lawyers haven’t been this popular
Since Robespierre slaughtered half of France!
And Indian chiefs with their old beliefs know
The balance is undone, crazy ions
You can feel it out in traffic
Everyone hates everyone
And the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
Sex kills

All these jack-offs at the office
The rapist in the pool
Oh, and the tragedies in the nurseries
Little kids packin’ guns to school
The ulcerated ozone
These tumors of the skin
This hostile sun beating down on
Massive mess we’re in
And the gas leaks
And the oil spills
And sex sells everything
And sex kills
Sex kills
Sex kills
Oh, sex kills
Sex kills

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Joni Mitchell

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law, mental health, politicians, politics, racism, Texas, true crime

Enough pro-life platitudes! Texas Has Its Priorities Completely Screwed Up!

Early this morning, I woke up to the horrible news about Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It’s another school shooting, this time perpetrated by a lonely, bullied, obviously mentally ill young man named Salvador Rolando Ramos. Days after his 18th birthday, Mr. Ramos legally purchased the weapons he would use to shoot and critically wound his grandmother, and then go on a shooting rampage at the elementary school. Mr. Ramos, who wore body armor and carried a rifle during his deadly rampage, was fatally shot, apparently by police.

At this writing, at least nineteen children were murdered, along with two adults. Both adults who died were teachers; one was Irma Garcia, a teacher with 23 years of experience at Robb Elementary, while the other, Eva Mireles, had taught for 17 years, and had a daughter in college. Many other people have been physically injured, and will forevermore carry the emotional and physical scars from yesterday’s shooting spree. The rest of us– the decent ones, anyway, are injured by yet another senseless school shooting in a country that professes to be “the land of the free”. And this time, the shooting happened in a state that professes to be so “pro-life” that many of its citizens will do almost anything to force women to stay pregnant.

The “right to life” crew, many of whom are men, claim that a developing fetus’s right to be born is more important than anything. The claim that abortion is cruel and inhumane. But at least a developing embryo is completely unaware of its being aborted. Children sitting in classrooms– some of whom were probably conceived with help from modern scientific reproductive methods– were no doubt absolutely terrified when Ramos opened fire on them. For those kids, Texas Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers”, and ridiculous suggestions about arming teachers and “good guys with guns”.

I am technically a Texas resident, although I haven’t lived there since 2014. Every year, when I cast an absentee ballot with my votes, the ballot goes to Texas, which is where Bill and I happened to be living when he finished his service with the Army. I didn’t hate Texas when I left there. I thought it was too hot, and there were way too many religious wingnuts. I didn’t like the extremely right wing politics of people in Texas, nor did I enjoy all the gun toting wackos I saw in downtown San Antonio. But I kind of respected Texas’s free-spirited culture. I enjoyed most of the people I met there, the music, the food, and having temporary access to members of my family, and Bill’s mom and aunt. When we left in 2014, I thought maybe we could move back at some point. Now I know that I don’t want to live there again. In fact, I’m not sure I really want to live in the United States again.

In the almost eight years since we left Texas, I have come to really dislike a lot of things about it. I despise the politics of Governor Greg Abbott and his relentless attack on women, as he also champions gun lovers. I can’t wait to cast a vote against Mr. Abbott. I don’t really care too much about who runs against him, either, which is a pretty terrible place to be. I would like to care about and even like the politics of the people who run for public office. But lately, the people who are running are so incredibly lacking in sense that I find myself voting AGAINST people, instead of for them.

According to the Washington Post, Salvador Ramos was severely bullied by his peers for having a strong lisp and a stutter. He had friends when he was younger, but then started doing self-destructive things, like cutting up his face with a knife “for fun”. Still, his friends said he was a very nice kid– shy, but nice. He’d be bullied for being different, but he had a few friends who stuck by him. Things seemed to go really downhill for Ramos when he shared a picture of himself wearing black eyeliner. For that, he was bullied by his peers and called a derogatory term for a homosexual male. Then, one of the friends who would try to stand up for Ramos, left the area when his mother’s job was transferred. At that point, Ramos began to dress all in black, grow out his hair, and wear military style boots. He quit going to school. At night, he and a friend would drive around and shoot at people with BB guns. He’d also egg people’s cars. He told one new friend that he wanted to join the Marines so he could “kill people”. The new friend became an ex friend after that.

Ramos’s mother eventually tried to kick him out of their home, and Ramos posted about it on Instagram. The incident showed Ramos calling his mom a “bitch”, as police intervened to break up the fight.

Ramos had a wish list of automatic weapons he wanted. A few days ago, he posted a picture of himself with a couple of rifles. There were some people who tried to help him, in spite of his odd proclivity for guns, but Ramos’s home life was terrible. According to a neighbor, Ramos’s mother used drugs. He eventually moved in with his grandmother, who owned the house where Ramos lived with his mom. A few days ago, the neighbor saw the grandmother, who mentioned that she was in the process of evicting Ramos’s mother, because she was abusing drugs.

I read all of this stuff, and I wonder how much help Ramos got from people who could do something for him. Did he ever speak to counselors? Was he encouraged to address his mental health and educational issues? At this point, I don’t know. I don’t want to blame educators, because I know they’ve got enough to deal with every day. And while it would be easy to blame people who bullied Ramos at school, being bullied is not a reason for someone to go on a shooting spree. I wonder what life situations led to Salvador Ramos’ fatal decisions yesterday.

I think these kinds of stress related meltdowns will only get worse, as guns are promoted as a solution to ending violence and maintaining “freedom”, and desperate women are being compelled to be pregnant when they aren’t ready to have babies. How many troubled women will be forced to give birth, thanks to the idiotic bans on abortions? I believe that people like Salvador Ramos evolve because they have very fucked up home lives, and not enough is done to help them make things better. There are too many children being born into situations where there’s substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, racism, and poverty.

I haven’t even touched on the horrific gun fueled rampage that happened at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14th. That incident, which occurred at the hands of Peyton S. Gendron, a disgruntled 18 year old racist White guy with a gun, resulted in the premature deaths of ten people and the wounding of three. Eleven of Gendron’s victims were Black. Gendron survived his rampage, and is now in protective custody and on suicide watch. If the police hadn’t stopped him when they had, Gendron says that he would have shot more people. He’d had plans to visit churches and an elementary school. As awful as Gendron’s attack was, at least his victims were all adults. But that doesn’t make it much better, does it?

I’m so tired of violent, thuggish, Republican bullies with guns and big mouths. I’m so angry at people who champion narcissistic cretins like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the usual gang of idiots in the Republican National Committee. No, I don’t think Democrats are perfect, by any stretch. I don’t like extreme left wing politics, snooty attitudes, and lack of common sense some Democrats have. But at least Democrats have something to offer besides thoughts, prayers, more guns, and restrictions on abortion. This news just makes me sick… and it makes me feel an odd mixture of relief that, for now, I live outside of my country, and guilt, that I’m so far away, watching from a distance as the United States I’ve always known turns into a weird dystopia.

It’s hard to believe that a lot of us were looking forward to today, as Josh Duggar finds out his fate. I was also looking forward to finding out more about Tariq Witherspoon, the man who ran over and killed my friend, Matt, last year. He supposed to go to court in New York today. Those were two cases of callous, lawless men facing their crimes. But I sit here and think of how many people have died in the last two years… from COVID-19, cancer, murder, manslaughter and recklessness, and suicide. And we want to bring more babies into this mess? When we don’t even have enough formula to feed them? We can’t offer citizens decent, affordable healthcare, housing, or an infrastructure that doesn’t collapse as the climate becomes less hospitable to humans! Why in the hell would we want more innocent babies born into this hellish reality on Earth?

In a matter of days, Bill’s third grandson will be born. He will join his four year old brother and two year old sister. I worry about those kids, who are going to be growing up in a country that continues to grow more troubled by the year. I know how much their parents love them, and have wanted them to come into the world. I only hope that by the time they’re ready for school, more has been done to repair the serious issues that are causing little kids like them to die when all they’re trying to do is go to school, attend church, shop for food, or just be children, exploring the world.

I’m so glad I never had children. This world is completely fucked. Below is an “oldie but goodie” Facebook post that was making the rounds six years ago, and is sadly still very relevant.

Yeah. I am for shutting down the gun stores.
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