Trump

The emperor has no clothes…

Well… I knew it was going to happen. Remember a couple of days ago when I wrote a tongue in cheek post about Clorox and Lysol anal probes? In that post, I wrote this:

“…many major news outlets, including The New York Times, ran articles imploring people not to follow The Donald’s advice. Alas, they are probably right to make the statement, since there are people out there who are stupid. Seriously stupid.”

Just days later, I read another article about how poison controls got twice as many calls about people ingesting bleach and disinfectant in the wake of Trump’s comments last Thursday. From the Vice article I linked:

In the 18 hours after Trump’s widely condemned comments during the White House coronavirus task force briefing, the New York City Poison Control Center reported that it received nine calls about Lysol exposure, 10 calls about bleach exposure, and 11 about exposure to unnamed cleaners, according to WNBC in New York. That’s more than double the exposure calls the center received during the same period last year.

“Two people in Illinois called the Illinois Poison Control Center’s hotline to report “inappropriate exposure” to disinfectants, according to local CBS station WCIA. Calls have also spiked in recent weeks in Maryland, Kentucky, and Iowa, although many cases appear to result from kids consuming household cleaners.”

THIS is exactly why I think it was so irresponsible of Trump to make the comments he did, even though many apologists have said that Trump didn’t specifically mention Lysol or Clorox, nor did he explicitly say that people should ingest them. The trouble is, he got in front of a microphone and cameras and commenced with his usual diarrhea of the mouth. People heard him talking about disinfectants and UV light rays and ran with it. It was irresponsible for him to speak the way he did, because he’s technically a leader, and there are people out there in the world who, for whatever inane reason, respect and admire him. And they do what he says, even if it’s ridiculous, dangerous, or non-sensical.

Trump also doesn’t take responsibility when he says bizarre things. Since his Thursday disinfectant speech, he has angrily fired back at the media and claimed that his comments were “sarcastic”. I have listened to and watched the video made during that press conference and I heard what Trump said. He was NOT being sarcastic. He was dead serious.

Why in the HELL is he speaking about medical procedures? He has no expertise in that area whatsoever!

Some people have said that he was “thinking out loud” or “brainstorming”. After three fucking years as POTUS, one would think he’d learn to do that off camera. But he hasn’t learned, because he won’t listen to experts or take advice from experienced people. He comes up with half-baked and harebrained ideas and demands that educated people agree with him and/or back him up, no matter how insane what he says is. He’s not a scientist and has no medical background, but he’s a narcissist and he thinks he knows better than people who actually do know better– and have spent their whole lives studying and proving their knowledge to other people who have spent their lives becoming experts.

Trump enjoys being in power. He enjoys having people do his bidding. He wants to be respected, listened to, and adored. But there’s nothing respectable or adorable about him. And when he inevitably fucks up, he says he was “just kidding”… or “testing people” to see what he could get them to believe. First of all, I don’t think Trump is intelligent enough to come up with such a scheme, especially on the fly. And secondly, even if he was “playing a prank”, it’s a completely inappropriate thing to do as a world leader, especially during a pandemic! Thousands of Americans have died in the past few weeks, and some have died directly due to Trump’s irresponsible comments about medicine and their unfortunate decisions to take Trump’s ludicrous comments seriously. We’re definitely not in a situation that calls for “comic relief” or testing the media to see what gets reported as “fake news”.

From the New York Mag article I linked:

“…Trump does not seem to be saying it was a haha joke, but some kind of serious prank, in which he would float a completely preposterous idea and see if he could get the White House media to report it as news. The prank required Trump to maintain a completely deadpan demeanor, and to get Birx’s cooperation, and to let the untruth go uncorrected for about 18 hours before finally revealing the gag. Trump was using his briefing on a deadly pandemic that has killed 50,000 Americans already for an Andy Kaufman–esque ruse, with the concomitant risk that his supporters will be killed in the process.”

Yeah… and I’m suddenly remembering that childhood fable about the emperor’s new clothes… The vain emperor gets hoodwinked into buying new threads from people who could supposedly make the “best” clothes. They were able to convince the public that only the smartest people could see the clothes. So when the emperor showed up naked to greet his public, everyone marveled at how beautiful the clothes were… and only a small child was brave and smart enough to state the obvious. The emperor was not wearing anything. But instead of admitting he was wrong, the emperor simply continued as if nothing had happened, and the public continued to champion him.

This story keeps coming to mind as I listen to Trump.

This is the kind of leader Trump is… and so many people, otherwise intelligent and sensible, continue to champion Trump, explaining why he says and does so many stupid things. I think a lot of them know, deep down, that they made a terrible choice when they voted for Trump. Most of them simply don’t want to admit it. Just like the people in The Emperor’s New Clothes, oohing and ahhing over the emperor’s “new” non-existent clothes, they keep insisting that Trump is doing a “great” job. They smile and nod as leaders suggest reopening the country, putting thousands of people with heightened risk factors of the coronavirus in jeopardy. The leaders speak of the sick, elderly, and disabled sacrificing their lives for the good of the economy. At the same time, they speak of forcing pregnant women to give birth, as abortion is not an “essential” service.

Don’t be fooled… Trump isn’t doing you a favor.

Trump supporters speak of the need to be “respectful” to Trump because he’s the president. They talk about how most Americans will get $1200 to “stimulate” the economy. Trump insisted on having his signature on the physical checks, as if he was personally giving away the cash. But we all know that money comes from our taxes, and it’s not appropriate for presidents to sign checks, anyway.

Well… I might be “respectful” to Trump as a fellow human being because that is the decent thing to do. But I cannot respect him as a leader, because he’s not a good leader and he repeatedly proves it. I don’t know how we can afford another four years of this chaotic nonsense. We need an “emperor” who isn’t an emperor and wears practical work clothes. We don’t need an “emperor” whose focus is on impressing people and showing off his vanity with naked male egotism and vanity, or supposed “pranks” on the press. Unfortunately, I don’t think Trump will give up his power gracefully, and it will not surprise me if he tries to come up with a way to delay the elections or call them off completely.

Sigh… well, I guess it’s time I closed this post, now that I’ve done some venting. Time to get started on the day. Stay safe, y’all… and please don’t inject yourself or drink any disinfectants. The poison control centers have enough to deal with already.

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narcissists

Whatever…

Sometime in the early 1990s, it became popular to answer people with a single word– “Whatever”. I remember being in college and people were suddenly saying, “whatever” in a sarcastic tone of voice when someone said or did something stupid or rude. This morning, I’m reminded of that as I just finished watching Dr. Les Carter’s latest video about the one word all narcissists hate. Can you guess what it is?

Dr. Carter is right. Narcissists hate to be dismissed by the word “whatever.” Frankly, it’s not a word I use very often, except to people who really deserve it. I used it the other day, when someone was giving me grief over sharing a Rolling Stone article about Donald Trump. She basically said that Rolling Stone isn’t a valid source of information about the world. I responded that it’s a legitimate magazine with real journalists. When the teasing continued, I wrote “Whatever.” Fortunately, this friend isn’t a narcissist. However, there have been times when I really upset someone because I said “whatever” to them.

I was listening to Dr. Carter talk about how narcissists behave– they want you to dance to their tune and jump when they say “jump”– and if you don’t, there’s an implied threat that there will be hell to pay. But if you respond to them like a grey rock, in a bland, detached, unaffected way, it drives them crazy. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done, since narcissistic people are infuriating.

Back in October 2013, I wrote on my old blog about the word “whatever” and its significance. Because it was a pretty good post, and includes an anecdote from my past about the use of “whatever”, I’m going to share it again now.

One of my Facebook friends asked what the word “whatever” means in her friends’ hometowns.  My friend is presently in Oregon, visiting her husband who is there on business.  Her husband said “whatever” to someone out there and they were very offended.  My friend and her husband are from the Philadelphia area and in Philly, saying “whatever” is not that rude.  I mean, yeah it’s kind of snarky and dismissive, but it’s not the kind of thing that would bring that much offense to most normal people. 

The responses to my friend’s query were interesting.  Most of her friends said it was a little disrespectful, but not “fuck off and die” territory.  A couple of folks commented that it would depend on the tone and the context.  One mother said she would wash her kid’s mouth out with soap if she ever heard her say it.  Apparently, out on the left coast, “whatever” is highly offensive and actually is akin to saying “fuck off and die”.  Someone can correct me if my friend’s impression is wrong.

Anyway, I was suddenly reminded of an incident that occurred back in 1998 or 99… can’t remember exactly when.  I was working as a waitress at a nice restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia.  It was dinner time and someone in my section had ordered a cheeseburger, an item on the dinner cafe menu, while everyone else was having food off the regular dinner menu.  The crappy computer at the restaurant had a course numbering system that usually worked fine.  However, for some reason, burgers were not automatically designated second or main courses.  You had to enter it manually.

In my haste to take the order, I forgot to designate the burger as a main course; so I had to go back and talk to the chef.  I went to the kitchen and explained that I had forgotten to course sequence the cheeseburger and that I wanted to note that it was intended to be a main course.  The chef was very rude about it and made some nasty or sarcastic comment to me.  I no longer remember what he said, but it was offensive.  And I said in response, “whatever”.  Actually, given my emotional state in those days, he’s lucky all I said was “whatever”.  At that time, I was trying to find the right antidepressant and was even edgier than usual.

Well… the chef got pissed, and complained to the manager that I had been “rude” and disrespectful to him.  So she cornered me and bitched me out, which got me really upset.  I was pretty non-functional for about an hour.  I’m kind of surprised I never got fired from that job, actually…  though I was generally a hard and dependable worker.  Once I got my meds straightened out, I was a lot more even tempered.  For some reason, a couple of the managers actually seemed to like me and kept me around.  Also, they were chronically understaffed.  Anyone with a high enough tolerance for abuse and decent work ethic could work there as long as they wanted to.

Later, I told my shrinks about what happened. The psychiatrist, who was a bit of an ass and used to patronize me by calling me “kid” and constantly harassed me about my weight, asked me if I had apologized to the chef. And my response was that the chef should have apologized to me. I had made a simple error and immediately went back to fix it. I was polite when I approached him. He got shitty with me first. It wasn’t even like the error was a big deal. All the chef had to do was make a note of it on the order chit, but instead, he decided to start shit with me when neither of us had time for the drama.

My psychologist, whom I suspect was not really all that impressed with the drug pushing psychiatrist, applauded me for being so assertive and said the chef was acting like a prima donna!  A couple of years later, his daughter worked at the same restaurant.  I’m sure he heard even more horror stories from her.

Restaurant work is hectic and frustrating and, if you work in a nice place, it’s likely you’ll have to deal with egomaniacal chefs who act like assholes…  and that chef who was rude to me was a major asshole who thankfully rarely worked on the line because he had been promoted to “executive chef”.  I vividly remember the few times he did work on the line and he would throw tantrums that, if you were sitting in a dining area close enough to the kitchen, you could easily hear.  He was very unprofessional and would often get weeded because he was out of practice and easily overwhelmed.  And when he messed up, he took it out on the staff, who were forced to address him as “sir”.  No, I’m not still bitter…  😉

I actually hated that job, but I’m very grateful for the experience.  I learned so much there and it did propel me to a better life.  I made several good friends working at that restaurant, too.  Some of them are still friends today.  Indeed, 17 months of misery in fine dining literally changed my life for the better and, I think, made me a much higher quality person.  At the very least, I learned to have respect for people who work in the service industry.  I will never purposely stiff someone who works as a server, unless their behavior is so egregiously rude and unprofessional that they make it obvious they don’t care if I tip them. 

That restaurant experience also gave me a lot of stories… and taught me a bit about fine food and wine. It helped me find a very easy and decently paying job when I moved to South Carolina and needed something that wouldn’t interfere too much with grad school.  I ended up working at a country club where I didn’t have to rely on tips, had flexible hours, and they would let me take home leftovers.  I also learned to try new things and enjoy really good food instead of processed boxed crap or casual dining chains.  I may not be skinny, but at least I get fat on the good stuff.

In 2020, I still have a lot of friends from that restaurant job. Some of them are chefs. Not all chefs are assholes, but restaurant work is a stressful job which can lead to some bad habits like smoking and drinking way too much. The chef who was rude to me had worked his way up to executive status, so he was no longer used to expediting. I always hated it when he had to work, because he would often throw tantrums that involved yelling, screaming, and occasionally throwing things. He’d had to work that night because one of the regular chefs got sick and needed to take the night off. The executive chef was pissed off that he had to work as a lowly expeditor, and he took his angst out on me.

Incidentally, the chef who called in sick is still a friend of mine. He was one of my favorite chefs to work with back in those days, because although he did occasionally throw the odd tantrum, he didn’t smoke or drink and very rarely fucked things up. He was also very funny. At the time, he had a mohawk, and he enjoyed my raunchy sense of humor. I still like him today, although it looks like he’s now a manager, rather than a chef.

I recently read that the restaurant where this happened, which had opened in 1980 and had once employed my sister back in its earliest days, closed for good just a couple of weeks ago. The restaurant that existed during my employment there actually ceased to exist in 2009. The original owners sold it to another local chef. The “new” owner was never able to get the restaurant to the level it was back in its heyday. So now he’s going to start over, and turn that restaurant into an Italian eatery. Williamsburg, Virginia actually has a number of Italian restaurants… but this new place will have a lower price point and be more family friendly. It will also have a retail side. We’ll see how it turns out and, if indeed, it survives the COVID-19 nightmare.

As I posted on my travel blog– which is now more of a German social isolation lifestyle blog– I’m picking up new skills every day.

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Ex, narcissists

“All good”…

A little mood music for this post…

Ever hear that expression, “It’s all good“? People often say it when when they’re trying to put your mind at ease. Sometimes, they’re sincere. Sometimes, they’re really not, and they say “all good” with a hint of sarcasm. The first time I remember someone saying “all good” was about ten years ago, when Bill’s ex stepson was secretly planning to change his last name while he was taking child support from Bill.

Bill had never formally adopted his former stepson; his ex wife had simply gotten the boy’s name changed when he was a toddler. I’m not exactly sure if she actually did the name change legally. The story went that he had to reclaim his original surname because he was getting a passport so he could visit China as part of his college program. Apparently, it wasn’t totally clear which surname was the legal one… although I think Ex just wanted to punish Bill for not putting up with her latest bullshit. She was probably pissed because Bill wasn’t devastated when she suddenly got her son back in touch with his “crazy, abusive” bio father.

Bill, who had basically been the lad’s de facto dad, since Ex had pushed his real dad out of the picture, was paying him child support directly, even though he had never formally adopted him and legally, it wasn’t his responsibility. The “kid”, who was then 21 years old, was using Bill’s last name and taking his money, stockpiling it so he could go to China. Meanwhile, he was also racking up debt and smoking marijuana. I don’t actually have anything against marijuana, but I don’t think it’s something one should be buying when one has a lot of debt. Unless, of course, there’s a medical reason.

Anyway, in January 2009, I discovered what Bill’s ex stepson was doing quite by accident. At the time, I was hanging out on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers and someone had shared a now defunct Web site called Criminalsearches.com. I was bored and curious, so I looked up Ex and her family. Sure enough, Ex, her husband, and Ex’s son from her first marriage all came up in the search, which also included the original source of the information. It was all publicly posted on an official Web site in Arizona. It was there that I discovered ex stepson had taken legal action to change his surname, but he had not had the decency to mention it to Bill.

So I told Bill, who confronted his former stepson. They had an emotional discussion about it. Bill told the lad that his decision to change his name was an adult choice and, as such, he should be financially independent. Bill gave him until Easter to prepare to handle his own financial affairs, but he told the boy that he wanted to know when the name change was final. Easter that year was in April, so the young man wrote back “It’s all good, Dad.” He had made it sound like he was “okay” with Bill’s decision to hold him accountable, but it was clear that he wasn’t.

Well… the name change was final in February 2009. The information was all on the official Web site where I had discovered his misdeeds in the first place. But ex stepson had not uttered a word about it to Bill. So Bill cut off his “child support”, which he had the ability to do, since Ex never filed with child support enforcement. She had some kind of issue with letting courts get involved in her divorces.

In retrospect, we probably should have exploited that fear more, since she was getting grossly overpaid and was never accountable for how she used the money. Seriously… Bill paid her $2550 a month for over ten years– $850 a month per child, one of which wasn’t even legally his! And yet, now that younger daughter is speaking to Bill, we hear stories of how she once had to give her mother her birthday money to buy diapers for Ex’s youngest daughter. We looked up how much child support the court would have awarded Ex and it turned out she was entitled to much less than what Bill was paying her. But I’m glad she did it the way she did, since it made things much simpler for Bill when he decided he’d been her financial flunky long enough.

Ex stepson was panicked at the loss of income. He sent Bill an angry email, demanding “timely payments” of his child support. Then, when Bill explained to him that he’d best not bite the hand that was feeding him, ex stepson became pathetic and begged for one last $500 payment because he’d wrecked the car Bill had given him free and clear. He wrote in his email that if Bill would just give him $500, he would never “bother” him again. I remember how disappointed and sad Bill was that his “son” was treating him like all that mattered was the money.

It wasn’t about the money at all. It was about respect, and the total lack of it the young man had for Bill, who had been his “Dad” for so long in the absence of his biological father. And, this is not really a slam on his bio dad, because Bill says ex stepson’s bio father had tried to stay involved and faithfully paid support at first. But just as she had with Bill, Ex made it impossible for her first husband to be a real father to his son. It wasn’t until she decided to punish Bill for standing up to her that Ex finally let her son, by then an adult, contact his father and resume their relationship.

I have no idea if ex stepson talks to his bio dad now. He was still speaking to Bill when they had their first meeting. Ex stepson had described it as a Darth Vader moment. It was eerie for him to finally meet his father again after so many years. I think Bill’s younger daughter had a similar experience a couple of years ago when she Skyped with Bill the first time. But ex stepson has not spoken to Bill since 2009, after it was clear the gravy train had met its end. It was hard for Bill at first, because he had loved the young man like a son. But then he realized that he was never the lad’s father and that ex stepson never should have been denied access to his kin. And we have heard that ex stepson has matured and isn’t such a selfish jerk anymore. Who knows? Maybe someday they will speak again and it really will be “all good”.

I need to see Lyle Lovett again. He’s my spirit animal.

I remember that ex stepson blamed me for this. He wrote Bill an email that vaguely accused me of “cutting off his money”. I never cut off the boy’s money. I didn’t have the power to do that. Instead, I was Bill’s advocate. I agreed with him that it was time to force that leech to fend for himself. I think it was ultimately the best parenting decision he could have made. Parents do their children a disservice when they don’t equip their children for taking care of themselves. I’d say it’s borderline abusive to constantly bail out adult children who get into trouble. How will they ever learn to be independent if someone is constantly fixing their mistakes for them?

There is a fine line between giving children too much responsibility and giving them too little. When I was growing up, I had to take care of a lot of my own needs– not so much financially, but in most other arenas. I was left to fend for myself a lot. I’m sure that ex stepson also had to fend for himself a lot. But his mother taught him that Bill was a resource to be abused and that he would take it, because he took her bullying and abuse for so many years. He now no longer takes as much crap as he used to. And maybe that’s my “fault”, since it’s partly my influence that led him to stand up to abusive bullies. Maybe that’s why some people dislike me.

I don’t need to be liked. I know I’m a good person, even if some people don’t see or appreciate it. It’s usually abusive creeps who have a problem with me. And if they don’t like me, it’s “all good”. Mess with me or my man and you’ll get the horns… 😉

🙂 I think if we ever redo our vows, we’ll use this song in the ceremony…
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