New Section: Politics and Trumpism

I have so many political articles now, especially about Trump and Trumpism, that I spent this evening putting all the links into one section, which now appears in the header.   It includes both opinion pieces and more factual ones.  Many of these posts explore Trump’s narcissism and the negative, traumatizing effects that has on an entire country, for those of you interested in that sort of thing.   Other posts are not so much about Trump per se, but about our sickness as a nation.

It was especially interesting re-reading my early posts from back in January, right after Trump’s inauguration, and the ways I processed that.

https://luckyottershaven.com/politics-and-trumpism/

I really had no idea until I started going through all my posts that I had this many!

A few of the posts are reblogs and I have indicated whenever that was the case.

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Lazy day.

lowbattery

It’s gorgeous outside today (though unseasonably hot) but for some reason I have no energy at all.  It’s not lack of sleep, since I slept for about 11 hours and woke up late.   I’m too tired to even go for a drive.   Maybe it’s my SAD kicking in.  Sometimes I get more fatigued than depressed when that happens.

So I’m just going to read for a while and then maybe take a nap.  After that,  I’ll spend some time on this blog.  Maybe I’ll write a post or maybe I won’t, but it’s time for some organization.   I made a new category last night (Politics and Trumpism) since I have so many related posts now and they need to be in their own section!

Hope everyone is having a great day!

 

 

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Why I support socialism.

Twenty or even ten years ago, if you mentioned single payer healthcare, even to Democrats, people would look at you like you had three eyes.  Single payer healthcare, in case anyone doesn’t know, is the system the rest of the developed world enjoys — one that is more efficient, costs everyone less, covers everyone, is less complicated, and is far more humane than our profit-based system that relies on middlemen (the insurance companies) who interfere with and undermine the doctor-patient relationship (because they exist not to keep people healthy, but solely to make a profit off human misery — which is inherently immoral).  No one in the developed world envies our unnecessarily complicated, cruel, mercenary, immoral, and unfair “healthcare” system, in which the quality of care you receive (or if you receive any at all) depends on how much you can afford to pay.

But in 2017, things have changed.    Recent polls show that a majority of Americans (52%) support single payer healthcare, with 69% of Democrats, and 35% of Republicans supporting it (not a majority, but still pretty impressive).  Even CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations are beginning to wake up to how single payer would benefit them by freeing them of the obligation to provide healthcare to their employees or pay a penalty if they don’t.

As the hardline (“Freedom Caucus”) Republicans and the Trump administration double down on their efforts to repeal and replace Obama’s signature achievement (his attempt to make healthcare more affordable for more people), many people are finally waking up to the fact that single payer is really the only option we have left — and the only option that will actually work.   Obamacare is definitely an improvement over nothing at all and now more Americans are covered than were before 2010, but since it was originally a Republican plan developed by the conservative Heritage Foundation (and later used by Mitt Romney for his Massachusetts constituents), it still is based on a system of delivery where healthcare is funneled through profit-oriented insurance companies instead of the government, as it is in all other developed countries.

Now that Senator McCain has said he will vote “No” on the latest incarnation of Trumpcare (which means “no-care” to most of us), the GOP Senate is in full panic mode.  They’re so desperate for a win that they are trying to scare people into supporting their abomination of a bill.  Their latest scare tactic is to scream about “Berniecare” (a reference to Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” bill) being socialism and how it will destroy America.   They incorrectly insist that the ACA is a step toward socialism and a slippery slope to complete government control over our lives and everything we do.  They tell us that any kind of socialized healthcare or any socialism at all will lead to dictatorship and the removal of all our freedoms and the death of free enterprise.  They say that the only way to “freedom” is to kill the ACA and go back to the bad old days of having no healthcare plan at all where “personal responsibility” (code for ability to pay) was the only factor that decided whether you would receive care or not.

But they are gaslighting and projecting onto us.   It’s almost laughable how hypocritical these claims are.  It’s ironic that the party that is screaming about dictatorship and loss of freedom is the same one whose president is an intolerant, fearmongering demagogue who displays all the signs of being a budding dictator, who discredits and wants to silence the free press, who encourages police brutality and the militarization of police departments, who is backed by a party that is trying to roll back civil rights and freedoms, as well as consumer protections and protections for the environment. It’s laughable that the party that screams about freedom doesn’t want freedom for anyone but the rich, white, conservative, and Christian.   If you’re poor or even middle class, non-white, liberal, or don’t subscribe to a viciously authoritarian and aggressive form of Christian evangelism (Christian dominionism) that believes the “elect” have been favored by God with wealth and power (and aims to replace the Constitution with Old Testament law),  you aren’t worthy and you deserve to have all your freedoms and rights — or sometimes even your citizenship — taken away.

To these “federalists,” freedom means three things:   property rights, the right to bear arms, and “freedom of religion” (to them, this means not what the Founding Fathers — who were products of the Enlightenment and believed in the separation of church and state — meant by it, but the freedom to force your religious beliefs on others using the law to do so).   They talk about “small government” and believe the government should be responsible only for policing and the military (while closely monitoring and meting out punishment for the private behaviors of the people).   Concepts like freedom from harm, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” apply to them only.    If they had their way, they would outlaw any speech, press, or anything else that opposed their draconian, authoritarian, backwards views.  To them, freedom means if you’re wealthy, you shouldn’t have to pay taxes or contribute to the common good.   If you’re a corporation, it means you shouldn’t have to obey laws that require you to pay your employees a fair wage, not pollute the environment, or test products for safety before selling them to the public.

Capitalism works best when it’s leavened by socialism.   Uncontrolled capitalism quickly becomes tyranny.  What we have now is no longer a democracy.  It’s an oligarchy, where corporations are “people” with unlimited power, money is “free speech,” and the very wealthy and powerful are above the law and don’t have to abide by the same rules the rest of us do.  They can pollute, exploit, extort, abuse, and lie to the American people to their heart’s content.   They can infiltrate politics and buy votes.   That’s why the wealthiest .01% have so much power and we’re in the mess we’re in right now.   This sad state of affairs started insidiously with Reagan’s tax breaks for the wealthy, the war on labor unions, and removal of corporate regulations.   Now we have capitalism run amok, with our current government bought and paid for by the wealthiest corporate interests and assisted by an aggressive and powerful group of religious extremists.   Far from being a road to freedom, theirs is a culture of narcissism, entitlement, greed, and exploitation that oppresses everyone except themselves and their wealthy donors.

 

“The definition of fascism is the marriage between the corporation and the state.”

— Benito Mussolini

 

They have gaslighted us all along by convincing people the government is our real enemy, when all along it was the corporate and moneyed interests who were buying our government. Now we have all three branches of government hamstrung by the most hard right of Republicans to the point we are nearly a one-party country.

Think back to FDR and the New Deal.   After World War II, we became a world power like none before or since.  Of course, winning World War II helped our economy immensely, but had it not been for New Deal policies and labor unions that narrowed the gap between the richest and poorest, relieved people from the ravages caused by the Great Depression, and made it possible for young families to buy a home and move into the middle class (and also freed them from the burden of having to house and provide round the clock, at-home medical care to an aging parent thanks to social security and Medicare), I doubt we would have become as prosperous in the postwar years as we did and the envy of the free world.   These government programs and labor unions freed people from the burdens that kept people mired in toil, poverty, and hopelessness in the past, and allowed them to be able to move up into the middle class and even higher.    They allowed older people to live longer, which increased our collective life-span.   Hardliners rant about these programs being socialism, and they are right about that.  But these “socialist” ideas have helped millions of people live freer and healthier lives.

Do you like having a post office?  Do you like having access to libraries, parks, community pools, and museums, which are free to all?  Do you like the national parks and monuments that are the envy of the world and create a thriving tourism industry?  Do you like having bridges, tunnels,  interstate highways (instead of toll roads or dangerous makeshift dirt roads like they have in third world countries), police departments, fire departments, efficient air traffic control, and the assurance that your aging parent won’t have to move in with you and force you to quit your job so you can provide them round the clock care?   Do you like knowing that if your house is on fire, you don’t have to pay a private company to come put it out or watch it burn down and spread to other houses if you lack the money?  If you’re a person of limited or modest means, do you like knowing your child has access to a free public education?   Do you like knowing that the air you breathe and water you drink is safe, and that the food you eat is free of toxins that could kill or sicken you or your loved ones?   Do you like knowing if your area was affected by a natural disaster, that you and your family would receive help from the federal government to get back on your feet? Do you feel secure knowing that there are scientists doing research on deadly contagious diseases that could become plagues without their efforts to combat their spread?  Do you like the fact there are laws that keep factories from dumping toxic waste into your drinking water?  Do you like the fact that companies by law can’t make you work for whatever they want to pay, which might be a dollar a day?

“The test of our progress is not how much we add to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

–Franklin D. Roosevelt 

 

All these things are socialism.  Now try to imagine what things would be like if these services and protections didn’t exist, or if you had to pay a private company or individual to get any of these things.    Not very pleasant to contemplate, is it?  You’d be looking at a country with a quality of life more closely resembling countries like Cambodia, dictatorships in central Africa, or banana republics in South America than to any developed western nation.

Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are the four happiest countries in the developed world.    They are also countries that are social democracies — which means they combine capitalism and socialism.  There is nothing wrong with capitalism as long as regulations to keep it contained exist, there is progressive taxation (the rich pay more), and there is a general recognition that not everything can or should be privatized.  Some things simply work better and are more morally sound when they’re not privatized and are administered by the government instead.  Things like police departments, fire departments, prisons, interstate roads, air traffic control, and the military  should never be privatized.  Some services (like long-term care for the elderly, treatment for serious chronic illnesses like cancer, and safety and environmental regulations) cannot be adequately administered by private charities either.

Healthcare and education should always have a public option, even if a private option is also available.  In America, we have both public and private education.   The right wing complaint about “school choice” is bogus, since no one is forced to send their child to a public school, if they’d prefer to pay for a private one, but the public option is available for those who choose it or cannot afford to pay for the private option.  And that is as it should be, even though our current government is actively trying to dismantle public education.  As for healthcare, in Germany, you can buy your health insurance on the private market if you wish, but most people opt for single payer.  Socialist policies keep countries humane and civilized, and they counteract the negative, oppressive, malignant effects of unbridled capitalism which eventually lead to fascism and tyranny, as it is right now in the United States.

I think the problem so many people have with socialism is they equate it with communism. The Cold War led many of us to take a dim view of communism, which was an extreme form of socialism in which people were not allowed to own private property and all services were centralized and run by the government.  So, instead of being able to choose a doctor and have the government pay the claim (as it works in social democracies who have single payer insurance), you’d actually see a “government doctor” in a clinic-like setting and receive less than ideal care.   You could only watch State TV or listen to state-run radio or read state-run newspapers.  You had to stand on long lines to obtain government issued food, and of course there were always shortages.  None of these things are the case with European-style socialism.

Some extremists on the far right argue that countries such as Canada with “socialized medicine” require long wait times and that people die before they get to see a doctor.  But this is a lie.     Most Canadians (and people in other countries with single payer healthcare) are happy with the care they receive and knowing they won’t go bankrupt or risk reaching a “lifetime cap” or be denied care at all because they have a “pre-existing condition.”    In fact, they laugh at us for being so backwards that we refuse to recognize that good health is a human right, and not a luxury that only the rich should be able to afford.   If there are “wait times” in social democracies, it’s for services like cosmetic plastic surgery, gastric bypass surgery, or hip replacements — procedures that aren’t life and death emergencies and where there may be less invasive options that can be explored.  In America, of course, there are long wait times too — even for medically necessary procedures in which you are forced to wait for a health insurance company that cares only about profit to “authorize” a procedure and possibly deny it.

Authoritarianism has no ideology.  It can arise on the left or the right.  Communism is on the extreme left; fascism is on the extreme right.  Socialism (or social democracy, if you prefer) is more in the middle of the scale, although more to the left than capitalism.  Extremes of any ideology lead to tyranny and oppression.   Socialism taken to its extreme becomes communism; capitalism taken to its extreme becomes fascism. Both are caused by (and lead to) government corruption and both lead to the same terrible outcome:  short and brutal lives dominated by oppression, hopelessness, fear, illness, violence, and widespread poverty.   Balance is necessary for a system to work, and for a capitalist society to work for all its people, it must be balanced with socialism.   Other developed countries recognize this, and until the Reagan years changed everything, so did we.

Supporters of unbridled, unregulated capitalism like to tell us “the markets” will fix everything, but this is not true.  It has only led to disaster in the past, the most recent one being the housing crisis of 2008.   The markets are not God, and leaving the markets alone to fix themselves only leads to both economic and social ruin.

When people scream about socialism, I wonder if they’ve ever been to western Europe, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand — countries which may not be world powers, and where people may have to pay higher taxes (but not as high as you might think), but where there is more equality, more tolerance of diversity, and where people enjoy better health, live longer lives, get paid a living wage, and are never burdened with the possibility of bankruptcy or being denied coverage should they or a loved one become seriously ill.   Countries where people are generally happier, have more peace of mind, and where there is less hatred, violence, sickness, poverty, and selfishness. Countries where the common good is still valued more highly than power and greed.  Countries that don’t deny scientific fact or the right of its people to have a free education, clean air and drinking water, and basic no-cost healthcare from cradle to grave.

People in these countries can start companies and engage in free enterprise and with a lot more ease too because they’re not burdened with the fear of losing their insurance if they quit a job to start their own business.  They can leave a job they hate for a better one without fearing a “gap in coverage.”   They are still just as “free” as we are, if not more so (and now they are leaving us behind as they move ahead in the global economy because they recognize that sustainable industry that respects the planet and all life is the wave of the future).  The difference is they recognize what real freedom and real morality is — not the fake version of “freedom” that has come to mean “I got mine, so screw you,” and the fake version of “morality” that condescendingly tells us, “I’m better than you, so the rules I impose on you don’t apply to me.”

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32 million Americans’ healthcare rests on one vote!

Whether or not 32 million Americans lose healthcare through the ACA (Obamacare) or get to keep it now depends on one vote : Lisa Murkowski’s.    Senator John McCain has stated he “cannot in good conscience vote for this bill,” in spite of the fact he is friends with Lindsey Graham, one of the authors of the Graham-Cassidy bill.   He has proved to me he is a man of integrity by his refusal to cave to politics over people.

But, as you probably know, Murkowski is being bribed by the GOP and Mitch McConnell. They told her if she voted yes on the bill, that HER state of Alaska would get to keep Obamacare (which means they know it works better than their plan).

While I think Murkowski has a conscience and won’t fall prey to their bribery and will do the right thing, I’m not sure of this. She hasn’t stated how she will vote.

So we all need to CALL HER OFFICE AND TELL HER TO VOTE NO ON GRAHAM CASSIDY!  Make sure you thank her for voting no the last time and remind her that she did the right thing by doing that. 

You can call her at 202-224-6665.  WE NEED HER NO VOTE!

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Happy first day of Fall!

Not exactly my favorite season, but not dead last either (that would be winter!)

Can’t argue with Snoopy.  Enjoy!

Happy-Autumn-First-Day-of-Fall-Snoopy-Dog-Picture

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Please save our healthcare!

michaelmyers

The GOP is at it again.  Like Michael Myers, it just keeps rising from the dead.

Yes, they’re trying to ram through a new version of Trumpcare — and this one’s even crueler than the previous two  — an estimated 32 million people would lose healthcare.  Insurers would be allowed to refuse to insure you for pre-existing conditions (a previous pregnancy would be considered a pre-existing condition, meaning most women would be affected).  Like the first bill, premiums would go up exponentially for older people.   It also eliminates the Medicaid expansion.   And Planned Parenthood.   It discriminates against women, especially older women like myself who are not old enough for Medicare.  It punishes the poor and middle class.  If you’re not wealthy and develop a serious illness like cancer, it will be your death sentence.

This is the worst bill yet, and they are very close to passing it.  All so Trump can have his WIN and they can get their tax breaks.  At our expense.  They are relentless.  They must be stopped.

They have until September 30th to pass it, but if it passes, the ACA (Obamacare) will be gone forever.   If they lose, the ACA stays indefinitely (until something better, like single payer, comes along).

I HATE that we have to beg our own government not to kill us, but unfortunately this is what we must do.    Jam the phone lines!  Please!   It’s literally a matter of life and death for millions of people.

We need all hands on deck over the next few days. Call your reps & tell them to vote NO on the Graham-Cassidy bill: (202) 224–3121.

Also, please share this post.

surcharges

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10 things that terrify me about Trump’s America.

homeless

I realize my last couple of posts have been dark and depressing, but there’s no sugarcoating the fact that what Trump is doing to Americans is abuse.

I began this blog three years ago as a way to talk about the narcissistic abuse I was forced to undergo at the hands of my parents (mostly my mother) and my ex-husband, after I finally found the wherewithal to leave him for good.

Starting this blog gave me an outlet to write about my abuse, and doing so proved extremely therapeutic for me.  In time, I was able to purge all the anger and rage, and the person I was meant to be was slowly revealed to me.  I also found out that I was not such a loser and a bad person after all, and that what happened to me was not my fault.    I realize that I had been lied to for years.   I grieved those wasted years, but at the same time felt grateful that I still had some left to grow into the person God meant for me to be.

With a boost in self esteem, I gained the courage to look inside myself — at the ways I was holding myself back because I was so afraid of everything.   I entered therapy.  I became much more spiritual and developed a real faith in God for the first time.   I began to take small risks and make better choices.   I can honestly say that had I not been able to start this blog, I doubt I would have come as far as I have.  God gave me the ability to write so that I could tell my story, and in the process, heal not only myself, but also help others who had suffered similar experiences.

Until Trump became president, I shied away from writing about politics or religion, because they are such divisive topics and I didn’t want to run off anyone who might have different politics or religious beliefs than I do.   But Trump’s presidency has infected my peace of mind and threatened my recovery, because he is so triggering and toxic, especially to those of us who are already familiar with the destructive effects malignant narcissists and sociopaths have on our souls.

So just like I did with the abusers in my personal life, I also need to write about Trump and the insidious and dangerous ways he threatens my (and many others’) mental and spiritual health.

The truth is, the man absolutely terrifies me. His vision for America terrifies me even more, since in his dystopian vision, I’m an expendable “loser”:  a financially challenged (I don’t want to say poor) older woman without a husband, who is also an intellectual and a dissenter (he hates both), morally and in every other way opposed to everything he and the powerful people who surround him stand for.

So here are ten ways Trump’s policies and his vision for America shake me to my core with terror and dread.

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Child labor during the Gilded Age.

 

1. Repealing the ACA.  This is #1 for me because it directly affects me and could cause me to die early and suffer horribly.    I have been unable to obtain healthcare through a job, and certainly can’t afford to buy it on my own, so I am dependent upon the ACA in order to have health insurance.  And at my age — closing in on 60 — the prospect of losing my only access to healthcare is absolutely terrifying, especially if I should develop a chronic illness that an emergency room can’t treat, such a cancer.

2. Losing my savings.   I have a very small nest egg that if I should become seriously ill and need hospitalization, I will lose (and it still won’t even make a dent in the astronomical medical bills I no doubt will receive).   Unless I publish a book and it becomes a bestseller, or win the lottery (which I don’t play), I have very little chance at my age of ever being able to earn enough to invest in any meaningful way.

3. No Social Security and Medicare.   I am getting close to retirement age, but it’s still some years away, and by the way things are going, I don’t expect that either social security or Medicare will still be around in my old age.    Being a fairly low wage earner (I’m not at poverty level but I don’t qualify as middle class either),  I have not been able to save for retirement (except for the small nest egg I mentioned above).  I don’t work for an employer who offers a 401K or any retirement benefits.  And forget about a pension.  Hardly anyone gets those anymore.   Since I am a single woman, it looks like my only option when I can no longer work is to move in with one of my children, and with all the financial struggles they have been having (Millennials have inherited an economy that forces many of them to live at home until well into their 20s and 30s), I’m not at all sure they will be able to support me in my old age (and it would kill me to place that burden on them anyway).  As for medical care, if the ACA is gone,  it looks like I will have to go without healthcare altogether if Medicare is gone too.    Since more states are legalizing pot though, maybe it will be legal in my state by then and I can just smoke weed all day to ward off any physical pain.

4. A dystopian future for my children.  Much progress has been made in the past fifty years — civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, New Deal policies, the EPA and other environmental protections, and many other things that make life bearable and have made America the lively and vibrant place that so many people from other countries (until recently) have wanted to make their permanent home in.   Trump is trying to roll back all these things, and the hardliners in Congress are making progress in removing laws and protections that have made life in America the envy of most of the civilized world.

coalmining

 A coal miner and his son.

5. Corporate tyranny and authoritarianism.   Trump’s America promises a scary future of corporate tyranny or modern-day feudalism, in which insanely wealthy corporate rulers (freed of having to pay any taxes at all) dictate to the hordes of impoverished, sick, beaten down and broken people enslaved to the “system” and forced to work for almost nothing (the hardliners want to eliminate the minimum wage too) until death takes them, usually at an early age.   I see a future much like the Gilded Age, in which people were treated as disposable chattel by rich robber barons until they finally died of some preventable disease or work injury,  a time when there was no middle class or any hope of escaping a life of poverty and endless toil, when there was no social safety net, no public education, and poor children (which were most of them) were forced to work as soon as they reached the age of 6 or 7 (what we call school age today.

6. The rollback of women’s health. While women’s reproductive rights may not affect me anymore, they do affect my daughter.  I’m afraid she will not have access to healthcare, and given that she has medical problems that might affect her ability to bear children safely or at all (Crohn’s Disease and back problems stemming from an accident she had at 16), that is a problem.   She may need surgery before she can safely have a child, but if she loses her healthcare, she will not be able to have that surgery.  Should she become pregnant, she could die.   If she loses access to healthcare and isn’t married to someone who can provide it for her, she could also go bankrupt from constant uncovered trips to the emergency room to treat the intermittent Crohn’s attacks that plague her periodically.  In addition, she suffers from mental health issues (caused by her father’s abuse) and she takes medication to control bouts of almost suicidal depression.   Should she lose her access to mental health care, who knows what could happen?     If the Christian dominionists have their way, most forms of birth control or medical abortion could be outlawed or made almost impossible to obtain.

7. Increased intolerance toward the “different.”   My son came out as gay at age 17, and in this climate of growing hatred and intolerance toward people that don’t fit the “white, straight, Christian” ideal, coupled with Trump’s empowerment of hate groups and the rise of The Christian Taliban,  I’m afraid he could be attacked by members of a hate group for just being who he is, forced to undergo some sort of traumatic “conversion therapy” that Mike Pence is proposing for gay people, shunned from employment opportunities, or just made to feel like he is “less” for being the person he is.

charlottesville

White supremacists and neo-Nazis march in Charlottesville.

8. An unhealthy and ugly environment.   In Trump’s dystopia, all public lands and national parks would be sold off to huge corporate entities, where they would be destroyed  and pillaged through oil drilling, fracking, coal mining, and built up with even more gated communities for the wealthy ruling class.   The rivers and air would be polluted, and people would die early of preventable illnesses caused by contamination, without even access to healthcare that could treat their symptoms.    The very wealthy have built underground bunkers where they could escape the worst of the environmental ravages.  Roads too would be privatized.  Imagine living in a country where most people are hobbled from free road travel because all roads have become inefficient and expensive toll roads. And I don’t even want to think about the horrors of privatizing air traffic control.

9. Ignorance.  Besides the abolishment of public schools, in Trump’s America there would not be any public libraries or museums either, because all those things are “socialism.”   Everything would be privatized and cost the people money.   The intent is not only to get rid of anything that allows everyone to take part in public life and educate and enrich themselves, it’s also to keep people stupid and ignorant, so they can no longer ask questions or think for themselves.

10. Nuclear war.  All of the above dystopian scenarios may be a moot point should we get into nuclear war with North Korea.  I read one statistic that said there is a 20% probability the entire west coast may be nuked.  Trump probably would love that too, since the states that line the Pacific Ocean are also the bluest of states and we all know how he feels about liberals.

I can only keep hoping and praying none of this happens, and we don’t have to suffer Trumpism too much longer — because it won’t be long before it’s too late to turn back.

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Trump hates anything beautiful, truthful, or good.

destruction_by_binouse49-d48x5d6

“Destruction” by Binouse49/Deviantart

 

In the 1987 Cohn Brothers movie “Raising Arizona,” there was a mysterious character ironically named Leonard Smalls, a/k/a “Lone Biker of the Apocalypse. ” Smalls was a bounty hunter hired to look for a kidnapped baby, but he seemed like the worst possible choice to be put in charge of returning a child to its rightful parents:  he was hardened, violent, silent, and sadistic, and probably psychopathic.  In keeping with that, he despised anything small or vulnerable. Throughout the film, the lead character (played by Nicholas Cage) narrates several semi-prophetic dreams — including one in which Smalls tears through the desert on his Harley, shooting at rabbits, small lizards, and even struggling flowers growing along the lonely highway with grenades and huge assault weapons.

While the Smalls character was played up for humor (the movie was uproariously funny), there are actually people like him in the world.   People without a conscience, without empathy, sadistic people who will gleefully and deliberately hurt and destroy “the small, vulnerable things,” as Cage put it in the film.   There are people who live to destroy, and love every minute of it.

At first, like many people, I wanted to give Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt.  I wanted him to prove himself to be a good guy after all, or at least have a few redeeming qualities.  Like many, in the beginning of his presidency, I kept telling myself to give him a chance.    But knowing about his malignant narcissism and probable psychopathy, I knew in my bones that his heart, if he had one, was as black as coal.  He is an abuser and destroyer.

In the eight months since Trump became president, he has done nothing but destroy.  As I put in an earlier post, he brings out the worst in everyone, including his own staff and supporters.    He’s a toxic presence who smears his predecessor, his opponents, and even his own staff.  He tells lies about people that are intended to undermine them, destroy them, or ruin their careers.

Not only is he toxic to individuals, he is toxic to the nation and even the world.   Not one thing he has said or done has been life-affirming, empathetic, positive, encouraging, diplomatic, gentle, intelligent, or inspiring.   The people who still support him tend to be people who are much like he is — authoritarians, racists and other haters without empathy — or fearful and ignorant people who feel most comfortable with a strongman dictator who tells them exactly what to do.   He admires and encourages the most base and vile qualities of humanity and openly praises and curries the favor of cruel dictators.  He makes fun of the most vulnerable:  a disabled reporter, women, productive and ambitious young immigrants who came here as children, Muslims, Mexicans, the poor, and people who show any empathy or vulnerability.   He threatens and bullies reporters, politicians, and entertainers who tell the truth about him.

destruction

He passes bills that threaten to take things away from people that make their lives better.  He has gutted any funding for climate science or research and grows angry at any discussion about climate change, even after two devastating hurricanes and wildfires spreading through the western states.    He seems to like to pillage and plunder our environment, supporting fracking and selling off our public lands to huge corporations for oil drilling.   He has plans to blast off the tops of mountains for coal mining, an industry which the rest of the civilized world knows is unsustainable and practically obsolete.   He has removed laws that protect our water, air and food.

Trump cares nothing about wildlife or beauty.  In fact, it seems that he wants to destroy our national treasures and replace them with the base and the ugly.    On one of the revamped government websites having to do with environmental issues, former photographs of beautiful natural vistas have been replaced with pictures showing heavy mining equipment, people fracking, and oil rigs.

Trump’s budget cuts funding for anything that help people live better or contribute to the greater good, including organizations that combat hatred and domestic terror, while he has increased funding for for the military, the Mexican border wall, ICE agents that arrest and detain undocumented immigrants without probable cause and for indefinite periods of time and that separate children from their parents, and anything else that potentially oppresses and makes our country more dangerous, scary, or ugly.

Now he is militarizing police departments, allowing them to purchase military equipment, and removing laws that prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons.  He tacitly encourages police brutality by pardoning a sheriff known to use torture to keep prisoners in line and even referred to one of his prisons as a concentration camp.

Trump is a warmonger, and seems to be chomping at the bit to start nuclear war with North Korea.   Rather than making us safer, he has made us more vulnerable to attack from both without and within.  His rallies are hate fests in which he emboldens white supremacists, Nazis, and hatred in general.   He has turned Americans against each other.

He has hired people who are dead set on destroying from within the departments they were hired to oversee:  education, the EPA, the Justice Department, and health and welfare.   Obamacare, which has helped many vulnerable people get health insurance for the first time, is now back on the chopping block.  Yes, again.     Trump and the more hardline members of the GOP are relentless in their cruelty and seem to like tormenting people with the constant threat of taking away their access to healthcare, not caring one iota how traumatizing the threat is.

After he was criticized for his cold response to the victims of Harvey, telling the people of Texas “Good luck,”  he made a lame attempt to show a little more fake empathy than usual after Irma.    He was probably ordered to do so, because it was obvious his “empathy” was forced.   Maddeningly, the mainstream media ate this up, speculating and theorizing that perhaps Trump was changing and he was capable of empathy after all.

But they are wrong.   Trump is not capable of empathy.  I wish the mainstream media would stop making excuses for him, because it’s a form of enabling.   Those of us who are familiar with his form of narcissism know that the more he is enabled, the worse he will become.   Trump is a malignant narcissist, and not only can’t he change, he will only grow worse over time.   The only remedy is for him (and the equally toxic people he has appointed) is to be removed as soon as possible.   What he has destroyed in eight months will take years to recover, if we can ever recover it.   Our beautiful country is already beginning to resemble a third world country or a dystopian nightmare.  Soon, people will begin to die of preventable diseases caused by contaminants that those pesky and “oppressive” regulations have helped keep at bay — and that’s just for starters.

Perhaps most heartbreaking of all, Trump has destroyed our unity as a country and our trust in each other.   That’s his intention, because a people who have been divided can be more easily conquered.  This is standard practice in all authoritarian regimes and dictatorships.

Donald Trump only knows how to do one thing well, and that is to destroy.  He despises anything beautiful, truthful, or good.

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12 reasons why I don’t like autumn.

Welp, it’s almost that time of year again. Admittedly, it’s not bothering me as much this year. But please, shut up already about Pumpkin Spice, which ought to be illegal.

Lucky Otters Haven

ugly_autumnIn my neck of the woods, this is what Autumn looks like.

Yesterday was the first cool-ish day we’ve had since May.   While the lower temperature felt nice, I also noticed for the first time that some of the trees are beginning to change colors.  It was also overcast and gloomy, and I realized that my SAD symptoms have kicked in full bore.   I just felt like crawling into bed to escape from the sadness I felt.   After winter, fall is my least favorite season.   Here are 12 reasons why I hate it.

1.  Around here, the “changing colors” just means the trees change from green to brown to bare.  A few turn this unattractive shade of deep maroon or this dirty looking yellow, but unless you go up to the Parkway, we really don’t get the brilliant fall colors you see in places further north…

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A Trump supporter wakes up.

burning-trump-hat

Trump supporters have been burning their MAGA hats lately, but not exactly for laudable reasons.  To them, Trump has betrayed them by saying he will work with Democrats (even though I doubt he’ll actually do this since he lies about everything).   If Trump has been losing his allure to some white supremacists and other members of the alt-right, it’s not because they are finally seeing him as the dangerous authoritarian despot he actually is, but because to them, by agreeing to work with Democrats,  Trump has proven himself to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and therefore a traitor to their nationalist, anti-immigration sentiments.

But here and there, some people who voted for Trump are beginning to realize they made a mistake.   Most of them seem embarrassed by this.  They don’t like to talk about it, which gives the initial impression that Trump supporters have not changed their minds.  But have you noticed how few Trump/Pence bumper stickers you see these days? How few people are publicly wearing MAGA hats?   That’s because lots of people have been quietly removing the stickers from the backs of their Chevies and Ford SUVs and hiding the red ballcaps in the backs of dark closets.  FOX News is now only the third most popular cable channel.  MSNBC is now in first place.  It wasn’t that way in November or January.

My daughter’s boyfriend, Zach, is a good example of one of these bashful Trump defectors.   True, he was never very political to begin with.  He wasn’t all that gung-ho about Trump even back in November and he would never attend a white supremacist rally, but he does come from a working class rural southern background where everyone votes Republican, no matter what.   So when voting day arrived,  Trump got his vote too.   My daughter voted for Hillary, and I remember her saying that she couldn’t talk about politics with Zach even though they get along really well otherwise.   He was annoyed that she voted for Clinton even though he was kind enough to not say anything to her about it.  She said she could tell he didn’t like it one bit though.   They went to the polls together, and he wouldn’t talk to her for several hours after that.

But lately, Zach has been having second thoughts.

The first sign that he was beginning to think he made a mistake was after the Trumpcare debacle.    He admitted that his mother, who voted for Trump, but was covered under the ACA (Obamacare) was worried she was going to lose her health insurance.  Unlike some Trump supporters, both Zach and his mom realized the ACA and Obamacare were the exact same thing.   Zach adores his mother and does not want her to lose her healthcare, and admitted as much.   He said he hoped Trump would stop trying to repeal and replace the ACA and just move onto other things.

A few weeks later, over grilled burgers, Zach said he thought that perhaps Hillary should have won the election.  He said that, even though he still preferred Trump over Hillary,  it really wasn’t fair that the popular vote didn’t count and the right thing would have been for Hillary to be president.

I almost choked on my cheeseburger.

Right after Harvey hit a few weeks ago (and Irma was gaining strength in the Atlantic and looking to be headed for the continental US), climate change came up in conversation.   But it wasn’t me or my daughter who brought it up (since both of us know Zach doesn’t like to talk about politics with us) — it was Zach:

“You know, the past couple of summers have been much hotter than I ever remember.   And now these hurricanes.   I don’t know…maybe climate change is really a thing.  Do you think maybe Trump is lying about that?”

Knowing that I studied science in college, and read a lot, he was ready for answers.  So I had the opportunity to tell him what I knew about climate change, and that, yes, the man he voted for was lying.

He listened and then was quiet for a few minutes, thinking.  Finally he spoke.  “I don’t know.  Maybe Hillary would have made a better president.”

I could have ran over and hugged him, but I just smiled.

 

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