bad TV, obits, religion, Trump

Another one bites the dust…

Yet another song from my childhood that has great relevance today… It will always remind me of roller skating, though.

This morning, Bill is working from home. He got a Moderna booster shot yesterday afternoon. By the evening, he had chills and was feeling kind of rotten. By 4:00am, he had a headache and a fever. Today, he’s a bit tired, but the fever is down. Since he and a bunch of his colleagues got their boosters this week, a lot of them are teleworking. I expect I’ll be boosted soon, since today marks six months since I got my last shot. I don’t look forward to feeling rotten, although I didn’t feel terrible after the initial vaccines. Maybe I’ll get lucky and not have a bad reaction.

Some people still aren’t on the vaccination bandwagon. Some people still think COVID-19 is a hoax– some kind of world domination scheme intended to enslave the population. Well… I think that thinking is a special kind of stupid. But some people are stubborn and they have to learn the hard way. Enter Marcus Lamb, the latest Christian “media mogul” who has “gone home to be with the Lord”. Yep… Mr. Lamb, who was 64 years old, was a COVID-19 conspiracy theorist and vaccine skeptic. And now, he has no more worries about his health. In fact, he HAS NO HEALTH anymore. He’s DEAD. Another one bites the dust!

Marcus Lamb was a founder of Daystar, the second largest Christian television network in the world. From the beginning of the pandemic, Lamb and his cronies focused heavily on the virus, calling it a “satanic attack” and denouncing vaccines. Daystar reaches 2 billion people worldwide, and according to Michelle Boorstein, a reporter with the Washington Post, appeals to the masses with “a fluid, modern, charismatic faith, more about general good vs. evil, miraculous healings and religious freedom than any specific denominational theology.”

Earlier in the pandemic, Lamb invited many vaccine skeptics to promote their conspiracy theories on his network. They hosted daily interviews with these pro-religion/anti-science folks, during which they discussed how vaccines were being pushed by “hidden satanic forces” and “stealing Christians’ freedoms”. I just want to ask Lamb and his buddies– what the hell good is “freedom” if you’re dead?

Now, in fairness to Marcus Lamb, he did reportedly suffer from diabetes. Diabetes can worsen COVID infection. Lamb also had other risk factors that were likely to make his illness more severe. Mr. Lamb was over 60 and male. And it’s obvious that he was hanging out with other people and ignoring safety protocols. I would be very surprised if anyone working at Daystar was taking precautions against contracting COVID-19. Clearly, they had the “answers”, right? Maybe not, since according to Lamb’s wife, Joni, Marcus Lamb got “COVID pneumonia”, which helped lead him to his untimely death.

In a Facebook Live video, Joni explains why and how Marcus Lamb died. Apparently, his heart gave out while he was in the hospital, receiving oxygen. Joni explains:

“We were trying to treat the covid and pneumonia with the different protocols we use, including the ones we talk about on Daystar,” she said on the show. “We used those — I myself used them and had breezed through covid.”

His blood sugar spiked and he needed oxygen, she said. “He 100 percent believed in everything we talk about here on Daystar, things that help so many people around the world with early protocol treatments for covid,” she said. “We still stand by those, obviously.”

I watched some of the people on the above Facebook Live video who spoke about Marcus Lamb. They all appeared to be genuinely grief stricken that he’s dead. And maybe they take comfort in the belief that Lamb will be a lamb of God, up in Heaven with all of the other Christian wingnuts who have been promoting anti-vaxxer and government conspiracy bullshit. I just don’t know what it will take to convince people that this is not a joke. COVID-19 is killing people, and while faith and hope is all well and good, God gave us science for a reason. Obviously Lamb was a believer in medicine, since he went to the hospital for care. So why wasn’t he a believer in vaccines?

What really disturbs me about the case of Marcus Lamb and the other so-called Christian media moguls who have gotten sick with COVID-19 and died, is that there are so many people who watch and listen to what they say and do. Many lonely, sick, or elderly people who are isolated watch programs on Daystar or similar networks. And they are influenced by these people who give them hope, or at least a narrative that they agree with and can use to bolster their false beliefs against science.

According to the Washington Post article I linked, “White evangelical Christians resist coronavirus vaccines at higher rates than other religious groups in the United States, a phenomenon experts say is bound up in politics, skepticism about government and the consumption of alternative media and unfounded conspiracy claims about vaccine dangers.” When I think about the kinds of people who watch Daystar and its ilk, I think Daystar was giving evangelical Christians exactly what they wanted. And they were doing it, not because it’s the best thing for their followers, but because it brought in more money and power.

Not surprisingly, Lamb was a Trump supporter. Last year, Lamb appeared in a photo with Trump, at an “Evangelicals for Trump” rally. Honestly, anyone who calls themselves God fearing Christians, but support Donald Trump– who is about as un-Christlike as a person can get– has missed the point entirely. I mean, supporting Trump and being “Christian” is kind of contradictory behavior, isn’t it? And yet, a lot of people are doing it, and ignoring the facts. I don’t understand and can’t abide it, but hey, at least it’s obviously hastening their chances to find out if Heaven is real.

I am not a big fan of televangelists. At most, I am kind of fascinated by their nerve. So many so-called religious leaders are really more interested in power and money than they are promoting God. As I wrote yesterday, organized religion has ruined many people, and many families. So many people have killed or died over religion. So many families have been ruined over clashes in religious beliefs or lack thereof. But I don’t equate religion with a belief in a higher power. The fact is, I don’t think of myself as a very religious person, but I do have a belief in God. I don’t know why I do, but I do. That, to me, isn’t the same as being “religious”.

Daystar has faced some controversies, too, as have many “prosperity gospel ministries”, which promote the idea that in order to get God’s favor, one must give money. And of course, the televangelists promote the idea that they are the ones who should benefit from the largesse of hopeful followers of Christ. They promise that you give them money, you will be blessed. But so often, it turns out all that happens is that the people who donate their “grocery money” only get poorer. It’s sad that so many people who follow “false prophet” televangelists and corrupt “leaders” like Donald Trump never see that they are working against their own interests.

But anyway… condolences to Marcus Lamb’s friends and family members. Truly, I am sorry to hear about Lamb’s death. I can see that he had some people in his life who are sad that he’s gone, and I don’t want to discount their pain and grief at losing him. I take heart in the realization that maybe some people will learn from Lamb’s sudden passing.

Now to get on with my day… gotta do the vacuuming, practice guitar, and walk the dogs, since the sun actually peeked out from behind the clouds for a few minutes. Hope everyone has a nice Thursday.

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Duggars, Ex, narcissists, psychology, Trump

“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear…”

This morning, I’m reminded of the popular saying that serves as today’s post title. It’s a lesson we’ve learned again and again. The universe will give you opportunities to learn lessons. In our case, we have apparently needed to learn more about narcissists and narcissism. And we have had several teachers who have appeared. It’s only been recently that we’ve been learning the lessons and changing our approaches to dealing with these types of people.

Yesterday’s post turned out to be more popular than I was expecting it to be. I’m sure part of the reason it was so compelling is that it included a somewhat “sordid” true story. Even three years on from our last move, it still made me nervous to share that post. It occurs to me that some people might read my posts and think I’m just whining. Maybe I do “whine” more than I should. It would be nice to have more of a “get on with it” attitude about more things.

I have what Dr. Phil would call a “psychological sunburn” about some issues. That means I’m unusually sensitive about some things. In my case, it’s dealing with abusive people. I’ve mentioned before that I feel “saturated”, especially when it comes to verbal abuse. I just can’t abide it anymore. I don’t willingly engage with people who are like that, and writing helps me process it. I realize it probably comes off as a little “off-kilter” to some people, although I also know that some people can relate and appreciate these posts. So I keep writing them.

Narcissism is a hot topic these days. Spend a few minutes on YouTube and you’ll find so many videos about narcissism and narcissistic people. Some people are as tired of hearing and reading about narcissism as I am hearing about the pandemic. I don’t know why other people are so interested in narcissism, but I know I am because I’ve spent a lifetime being subjected to the general fuckery that can come from being around abusive and exploitative people. It’s a lot to unpack.

The first time I ever heard the term “narcissism” was when I was a senior in high school. I was taking a psychology class, and my teacher was the kind who loved to show made for TV movies to demonstrate certain psychological disorders. We watched the 1989 film Small Sacrifices, which starred Farrah Fawcett and was based on true crime writer Ann Rule’s excellent book. Fawcett portrayed Diane Downs, a woman who shot her own children and then claimed that she was carjacked. I remember my teacher saying that Downs had narcissistic personality disorder.

At the time, I thought nothing of it. I was seventeen years old and really didn’t know a lot about the world. Hell, at that time, I didn’t even realize that my father was an alcoholic, even though it was pretty obvious. I was used to seeing him drink excessively and used to the erratic and sometimes scary behavior that resulted from his drinking, PTSD, and depression.

It never occurred to me that, years later, I would marry a man whose ex wife was extremely narcissistic, or even that her shockingly abusive behavior, as egregiously selfish and damaging as it was, would be something that a couple of my friends would also experience with people in their lives. I started to look around and realized that I was seeing narcissism all over the place.

When I started to realize how common and pervasive narcissistic behavior seemed to be, I wondered if maybe I was imagining it. Like, maybe I was akin to a physician in training with a little knowledge, suddenly seeing the signs and symptoms of a disease I’d just learned about in a class. I do have degrees in social work and public health, but narcissism isn’t something we necessarily learned about in school, except when I took an undergraduate course in abnormal psychology. I did very well in that class, but I am certainly no expert.

I started learning a lot more about NPD years ago, when I watched my husband’s ex wife treat my husband like literal shit. I was absolutely dumbfounded by the disrespect she showed toward him and his family, and ultimately, her children. I couldn’t believe her nerve. I was very surprised that so many people let her get away with the things they let her get away with, like denying Bill access to his children and telling outrageous lies about him to everyone, including his own parents and the children. Then I learned more about the physical and sexual abuse that occurred, and saw the proof of it.

I knew there had to be something very wrong with Ex, because her “reasons” for her actions didn’t make any sense to me. They did not fit the man that I knew, and have now known, for over twenty years. She made claims that he hates women and was abusive to her. And yet he has never as much as raised his voice to me, let alone a hand. He’s literally one of the kindest, most gentle and agreeable people I’ve ever met, in spite of his long career as a soldier.

At first, I thought maybe Ex had borderline personality disorder. I read a lot about it and realized that her behavior ticked a lot of the boxes. But people with BPD are usually somewhat treatable, if they realize they have a problem and want to get help, and they aren’t as cruel as Ex is. Ex has been hospitalized on a few occasions, and I’ve seen her spouting off about dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which is a treatment used for people with BPD. However, her behavior doesn’t seem to change, and there are still many signs that she’s got other issues– namely with narcissism. I have studied narcissism for years, and I am convinced that’s her main problem, at least at this point in her life.

Of course, it’s also certainly possible that she has both disorders. Sometimes cluster B personality disorders do overlap. Or maybe she’s got another problem entirely. I can only guess, based on what I’ve witnessed, heard about, and experienced in my years with Bill and my own educational pursuits.

All I know is that when I started to read about narcissistic personality disorder, Ex’s behavior started to make a lot more sense and was much less shocking. In fact, once I learned about personality disorders, in general, Ex started to become more predictable. While it was still terrible to observe, and awful for my husband, who was denied contact with his daughters, there was something almost comforting in knowing that it wasn’t just our imagination that she was so incredibly controlling, and shamelessly self-centered and hurtful. Indeed, later when Bill started talking to his daughter, she confirmed that she was treated as badly as he was. Younger daughter recently announced that she’s expecting another baby. She wrote that she was much more nervous about telling her mother than telling Bill. Bill always reacts with kindness.

Some might wonder why I write so much about Ex. To that question, I can only answer that it helps me process and unpack. People often assume she’s a normal person and I’m the problem. But I would like to ask people who automatically assume that I’m the problem to stop and think about what they would think, and how they would feel, if they were married to someone who was DENIED access to their children by the other parent. I would expect a loving parent to want the other parent to be involved, if only for the sake of the children, who deserve to have access to their parents and should not be saddled with an unnecessary stigma of being the child of an abuser.

If there was a legitimate reason for the other parent to be denied access, there should have been documentation as to why that was necessary. But in Ex’s case, she was apparently married to two men who were not fit to be fathers to their children. She denied her first husband access to their son, and only helped them reunite when it suited her toxic agenda. She did it solely to be cruel and punitive to Bill, who was asserting himself because his former stepson was quite obviously using him for money. When Bill busted the young man for hiding the fact that he was changing his name and didn’t bother to tell Bill, but kept accepting child support from him (at age 21, no less), Ex decided that the young man should be in contact with the man she claimed was “crazy” and “abusive”. And now we know she said the same things about Bill, although as his second wife, I can attest that he’s not the one who is “crazy” and “abusive”.

Once I learned more about narcissism, I found out that a lot of people are dealing with narcissists in their lives. I wonder how that is possible, since it’s supposedly a “personality disorder”. But then I realized that one doesn’t have to have NPD to exhibit those behaviors on occasion. Narcissism seems to be an epidemic in western society. In fact, it seems to be somewhat celebrated and even normalized in American culture. Obviously narcissistic people are the ones who often end up being “stars”. They often have powerful jobs and lots of prestige, or they have a lot of money. But then you look at their personal lives, and examine things they’ve done to get ahead, and you realize they aren’t people you’d necessarily want to know.

Donald Trump, to my mind, is a VERY obvious grandiose and malignant narcissist. He’s had a string of unfaithful marriages and business failures. So many people who have been associated with him have ended up in trouble with the law, ranging from his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to people who invaded the Capitol building last January. There are many stories of him abusing women and being racist. He doesn’t seem to care beyond the superficial for anyone, except maybe his daughter, Ivanka, whom he’s said he would like to date. He’s been friends with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, as well as Steve Bannon. And yet, we made him President of the United States, and many people– some of whom I consider decent and basically intelligent– are still fooled by his icky, superficial and totally fake charm. They see his selfishness and crazy behavior as strengths.

It was my husband’s ex wife who made me realize how dangerous Trump is. Once I started studying narcissists and saw how these people put on public faces, but are toxic nightmares behind closed doors, I realized how terrible Trump as a leader is. And then I saw the proof of it in the aftermath of the 2020 election, which thank GOD he lost. I only hope that he can’t run again, because I’m not altogether sure he wouldn’t win. And if he wins, God help us all, because he would have no reason whatsoever to curb his behavior. He wouldn’t be able to run for another term and would be ever closer to the end of his life, anyway.

But Trump is an extreme example of a narcissist. The truth is, they’re everywhere, and that’s why so many people are obsessively reading about them and watching videos about their behavior. Most of them don’t reach the terrible extremes of Trump. Most are probably not even as extreme as Ex is. I would say most narcissists are mainly just what we’d call assholes. They aren’t necessarily dangerous, but they are very unpleasant and toxic to be around. Some go to more extreme lengths and are incredibly dangerous and harmful, particularly to innocent people.

I look at Josh Duggar, whose trial is set to begin tomorrow. This is a man who was lecturing the masses about family values several years ago, as he was meeting and brutalizing a sex worker, cheating on his wife, and apparently, viewing illegal pornographic images. I have never met Josh Duggar, but he definitely has a lot of the signs of NPD, and he’s been raised in a culture where his selfish, destructive, abusive behavior is tolerated and even celebrated.

Meanwhile, since he’s been caught with illegal images that was described as the “worst of the worst” that experienced investigators have ever seen, Josh and his equally narcissistic father, JimBob, have been doing everything they can to get out of being held accountable for this behavior. Hell, JimBob is even running for public office again, even though his son is probably about to go to prison. Go figure that decision, except that JimBob is also extremely controlling and self-centered. Why should we care about these people? By all rights, we shouldn’t, but their story is compelling, because they have that yucky charisma and charm that a lot of narcissists have. I only hope that this time, they get held accountable for the things they do.

I come by my fascination with narcissism honestly, because it has affected me personally. I know that I’m not alone. I really think our culture has a lot to do with why this issue is so prevalent. Sadly, narcissists really hurt people, and they cause damage that is not easy to overcome. Whether it’s dealing with an abusive ex spouse who uses children and other people to maintain control, or it’s just a boss or a landlord who lives to make someone’s life hell, or it’s a person who is running the country and refusing to play fair, narcissists do a lot of harm to decent people. And I think the high number of books, videos, and blog posts about this subject only show that many students are ready, so the teachers have appeared.

Now… I’m going to dive back into my latest book by Les Carter, and I hope tomorrow, there will be a fresh book review. I’ve got several new books that I’m dying to start reading, but I can’t tackle them the way I used to. I hope everyone has a great Monday.

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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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narcissists, politics, poor judgment, stupid people

Jenna Ryan is soon to be off to the pokey, and she’s bitter. Someone should tell her, “Pride goeth before the fall.”

Justice has finally been delivered to Jenna Ryan, the blonde real estate broker from Frisco, Texas (near Dallas) who flew on a private jet to Washington, DC and bragged about taking part in the insurrection on January 6th. I wrote about Jenna a few times last spring and I’ve noticed some folks hitting those links. So, even though we need to pack up our stuff and get on the road to our final vacation spot of Salzburg, Austria, I’m going to take a few minutes to opine about her upcoming sixty day prison stint.

First off, I want to remind my regular readers that I am truly not a big fan of incarceration, particularly for non-violent offenses. I’m the one who famously wrote a few unpopular blog posts about Skylar Mack, the pretty blonde teenager who went to the Cayman Islands and flouted COVID rules. Many people thought Skylar should sit in jail for four months, thinking about what she’d done, which really just amounted to disrespecting local laws, since she wasn’t actually sick with COVID. So many people commented that Skylar was a “spoiled brat” and needed to do time, locked up abroad, cuz’ that would “learn her” about obeying the rules. I was against Skylar having to rot for four months and wrote several times about it. I was glad when her sentence was reduced.

I remember that Jenna Ryan’s case began while Skylar’s was still in the news… and, even though Jenna Ryan technically didn’t hurt anyone when she took her jaunt to DC in January, I found her behavior much more offensive than I did Skylar’s. Jenna is in her 50s, and is supposedly a successful business person. She must have known very well that storming the Capitol building wasn’t going to be legal. And then she bragged on social media about doing that.

When she got arrested, Jenna made a point of predicting that she’d never spend time behind bars. Why? Because she’s blonde, had a “great” job, and has “white skin”. Then she attempted to crowdfund her legal fees, later claiming that she didn’t even need the money, but wanted contributors to be “blessed” by God.

Well, the chickens have finally come home to roost, and Ryan is going to have to do some time. The judge in her case has given Jenna Ryan sixty days. I read in the above link that she doesn’t have to report to prison until after the New Year. I also noticed that she seems somewhat less interested in interacting with the public. Below is her Twitter reaction to the sentence.

Pathetic… no wonder Donald Trump didn’t pardon her. What a loser.

I don’t blame Jenna for not wanting to talk to anyone about this outcome. Being sentenced to sixty days in lockup, after you’ve bragged about never having to go, is embarrassing and humiliating. But honestly, I don’t know why she didn’t see it coming. Oh wait… yes, I do know. Jenna Ryan is yet another person who seems very narcissistic. I don’t know for certain that she is, since we’ve never met, but I do think she shows all the classic signs. In fact, if I were looking for clues that someone might be a narcissist, I might think of Jenna on television, pleading for a pardon from Donald Trump, and then going on Twitter, arrogantly predicting that she was only going to get a slap on the wrist for her part in the insurrection. She really brought this on herself on all levels.

I also notice that Jenna’s attitude toward interacting with the public has changed significantly. Below is her tweeted excuse for why she’s going to be incarcerated.

Notice that she’s limited who can reply. In one sense, I can understand why she’s limited replies. I, myself, have turned off comments on older posts. Nasty comments aren’t fun to read. On the other hand, this is quite a change from last spring, when she was happily taking on all comers. Someone should remind Jenna that “pride goeth before the fall.”

I’m sure that Jenna Ryan is quite familiar with smear campaigns. She’s probably engaged in a few herself. The above tweet amounts to a pathetic excuse for her ridiculous and offensive conduct. I suspect that if she’d shown more remorse and kept a much lower profile, she might not be going to prison. Maybe she wouldn’t be doing any time behind bars at all. But she had to embrace the spotlight in a grandiose way, and now she’s “high profile”. Her behavior has been obnoxious, defiant, and insufferable, and it’s right for the judge to make an example out of her. Maybe putting her in prison won’t deter people who are anything like Jenna Ryan, but it might make more impressionable people think twice about trying to disrupt and overthrow government procedures.

I also think Jenna Ryan’s case might be a clue to Trump supporters that he does not care about anyone but himself. He certainly doesn’t care about anyone who isn’t a “winner” and can do something for him. In my view, Trump values people who can make him money, satisfy his libido, or garner him more power, fame, or prestige. Jenna Ryan and her ilk can’t do any of those things, so her dramatic trip to Washington, DC was an exercise in pointlessness and stupidity. Below is what Jenna said last January, when she found herself on the wrong side of the law…

“President Trump I want you to know that I have been a true supporter of yours and I believe that you won the election. I believe in America and I believe in your values. And I was not a violent protestor and I would ask that you would pardon me from this misdemeanor.”

Trump did not pardon anyone related to the riot prior to leaving office. And I could have told Jenna Ryan that he wasn’t going to do anything for her. She’s not his “type”. I also don’t think Trump cares if he actually won the election (and he didn’t, by the way). He expected to stay in power because he’s a malignant narcissist, and the rules that apply to everyone else, don’t apply to him. I can see that Jenna Ryan has that in common with Trump.

Well, time’s a wasting, so I’d better end this post and get dressed. I will be sorry to leave beautiful Slovenia, but I miss my dogs. I’m also itching to write up this trip and share more of the gorgeous photos I took. So, as I end today’s fresh post, here’s one last thought…

Maybe Jenna needs a little perspective about what a bully is. She obviously missed that Donald Trump is one. Instead of seeing that he’s a power-mad, dictator-wannabe, she embraced and championed his futile bid to keep bullying the American people, and the world at large.

So, to sum things up… I am not surprised Jenna Ryan got prison time. I think she deserves it. I hope she learns something from the experience. I doubt she will, but maybe she’ll prove me wrong.

The end.

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book reviews, politicians, politics, Trump

Reviewing Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House…

I finally got around to reading Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward’s 2018 book, Fear: Trump in the White House, even though I bought the book when it was first published. I still have a bunch of other books about former U.S. president Donald Trump that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I have a bad habit of buying books and letting them stack up, sometimes waiting to be read for years. But I also find reading about Donald Trump particularly difficult, mainly because I find him disturbing and depressing to read about, even if he is also kind of fascinating. I mean, it saddens me that so many people think he’s so great, but it also fascinates me that people don’t see what I can see so plainly.

This morning, after a concerted effort, I finished reading Fear, and I have Woodward’s follow up book, Rage, waiting to be read. I think I finally read Fear because there has been so much press about Woodward’s more recent book, Peril, which was published last month and is about the transition of Trump’s administration to Biden’s. I haven’t purchased Peril yet, but the reviews made it sound like a compelling read. I figured I should read the previous books before I get to that one. I did start reading a new book this morning, but it’s not about politics. I need to take a break after reading Fear. I guess the title was appropriately chosen.

So… on with my review…

Bob Woodward is an award willing journalist and associate editor who has worked for The Washington Post for 50 years. So far, he’s written at least 20 books that have been national bestsellers, and he’s shared in two Pulitzer Prizes. The man has quite an impressive pedigree as an author, as fourteen of his books have been on The New York Times bestseller list. Having just read Fear, I can attest to Woodward’s ability to write. Fear was easy to read and understand, and I never found myself skimming, as I did when I read John Bolton’s book, The Room Where it Happened. Bolton came off as kind of pompous, writing for himself and, more pointedly, his ego. Woodward, on the other hand, writes for his readers. That’s the kind of writing that is a pleasure for me to read.

Fear tackles the beginning of the Trump era. It’s mainly about Trump’s staff, and the lengths they went to try to “handle” him– harnessing the tremendous power Trump suddenly and surprisingly got when he was elected president. Woodward explains how staff members were chosen to work with Trump, as well as the difficulties Trump’s staff faced as they tried to deal with Trump’s overwhelming personality. Many of the people who worked in Trump’s White House were experienced professionals, particularly within the military. On the other some staffers were people who got jobs because of how they looked, or because they were friends of Trump’s… or because they were his relatives.

Steve Bannon gets a lot of coverage in this book, although Woodward was probably kinder to Bannon than he should have been. I always got the sense that Steve Bannon was a bit of a manipulative snake, but Woodward makes him seem more professional than he ever appeared to me in this news.

In straightforward, clear prose, Woodward uses his investigative journalist skills to uncover Trump’s early days in power. Woodward clearly tried to be impartial and often gives Trump more credit than he probably deserves. I can appreciate the attempt at trying to be fair and impartial, especially given the fact that Trump is the most polarizing president I have seen in my lifetime. It could not have been easy for Woodward to maintain such decorum.

I think Fear is a well-written and researched book, and I learned new things by reading it. However, I agree with some of the reviewers who mention that there’s nothing particularly “earth shattering” or deliciously juicy about Fear. The trouble is, Trump was so heavily covered in the press that a lot of what’s in Woodward’s book, while easy to read and digest, is stuff that was already in the news.

I probably waited too long to read Fear. If I had read it when it was first published, I might have gotten a lot more from it. I might enjoy Peril more, simply because it covers the end (hopefully) of Trump’s political career, when things really got weird. But, as I mentioned earlier in this review, I felt like I should read the first book of Woodward’s highly touted trilogy. I did learn some new things, and there were some entertaining passages about some of the interactions Trump had with some of his staff. I particularly enjoyed reading about Trump’s long suffering lawyers, who did their best to get Trump to take their advice rather than simply acting on impulse. Many of Trump’s staffers were the “adults in the room”, but they could never seem to get him to settle down and get to work. Most of them were always “putting out fires” and dealing with Trump’s tantrums.

Anyway, according to Amazon, most people thought this was a good book. Some people thought it sucked. I didn’t think Fear: Trump in the White House was bad at all, but it could have been better. I did feel like the end of the book was a bit abrupt. I was reading about Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, deciding to resign from Trump’s service. Then, suddenly, the book ended, and I was knee deep in footnotes and sources. I do think Fear is a good reference for those who want to read more about Trump. There’s plenty of associated reading to be explored.

I think if I were giving this a rating between one and five stars, I’d give it a 3.5. I found it easy to read and mostly interesting, but I wasn’t too shocked or surprised by much of what I read. If I had read this in 2018, I probably would have had a slightly more favorable reaction to Fear: Trump in the White House. But in September 2018, I was about to move and had a lot of other stuff going on… and frankly, I remember not being able to bring myself to read a book about Trump, because I found him rather terrifying. I still do, to be honest.

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