On surviving the future in Trumpistan.

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Women rounded up to be sent to “The Colonies,” Handmaid’s Tale, Season 2.

 

My most fervent prayer is that Trumpism comes to an end.  Obviously, the best way for that to happen would be for Bob Mueller to make his findings known, and then we can celebrate as we watch the entire evil regime be removed and arrested on national TV, so they can never hurt anyone else.   That would be an event worthy of a new national holiday.

Of course, it might set off a civil war.  Trumplicans have promised that.  Whatever.   At this point, I’d welcome a civil war if it meant we could be rid of the orange menace and his cabal of anti-American, antisocial ghouls.   Bring it on.

But each day this horrific human being stays in office, the worse things get.  When I look back over the past eighteen months, it’s startling how much we’ve normalized and the unnerving way he’s been able to accelerate and intensify his assaults on democracy.   We are so much closer to being a fascist state than we were eighteen months ago.   Essentially we have one-party rule now, and no one ever holds Trump and the converted Republican Party (which is now the Party of Trump) accountable for anything, no matter how heinous or cruel their actions.    The crippled but still functioning free press is the only thing left that keeps us still tethered to a thread of democracy.  How much longer that  (and our freedom of speech and assembly) will last I don’t know, and I don’t want to know.

So I’m not getting my hopes up about the Mueller investigation.   If he’s even allowed to finish his investigation, the complicit GOP Congress, which is supposed to provide a check on the president’s absolute power, is likely to do nothing.   Trump will skate — even if he’s found guilty of treason, which seems more likely every day.   He literally could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and nothing would happen to him.   That might have been the one thing he ever told the truth about.

More likely is that we could neuter Trump’s tyranny by turning the House and Senate blue in November.   But because Russia has shown every intention of still meddling in our elections, because of blatant gerrymandering and voter suppression on the part of the GOP, and because of the Trump regime’s daily assaults and smear campaigns on Democrats, the free press, and democracy itself, our side is being discredited and weakened.    The Democratic Party is  growing, since many never-Trump conservatives have left the corrupt, Trumpicized GOP and independents have also seen the writing on the wall and have vowed to vote blue in November.   But we don’t have much power and our voices are drowned out by the much louder, wealthier, and more aggressive Trump GOP.

If we manage to succeed, Trump could be rendered fairly harmless and impeachment proceedings could finally begin with a Democratic House and Senate.  It could happen, but even with all the excitement about the impending “blue wave,” I’m not getting my hopes up.  Putin is an evil genius who knows exactly how to turn things in Trump’s favor, and the GOP, with all the Putin/Koch/Mercer/Adelson money behind it and almost unlimited power and control,  will almost certainly do their best to make voting as difficult as they can, and gerrymander districts even more than they already are.   So even with renewed Democratic motivation to vote, we could still wind up losing.

If they win, it will be too late.  America as we know it will be over. Back in January 2017, when Trump took office, Amy Siskind, an expert on authoritarian states and the author of the book, “The List,” which documents in horrifying detail each week of the Trump administration (every week, the assaults on our democracy have increased in both number and severity) predicted we had less than two years to save our country.  After that, it would be game over.  Well, we are there.  It’s been almost two years.    Honestly, I don’t have high hopes.   Of course, I’ll still do whatever I can to turn things around, and you’d have to kill me before I wouldn’t show up at the polls this November.    But I’m not feeling too optimistic.

I know I couldn’t survive in the sort of regime that will result when Trump seizes full power — which he will certainly do if we fail in November.    My temperament isn’t  suited for totalitarianism and fascism.   I couldn’t physically, emotionally or spiritually handle a political environment of such mysogyny, cruelty and watch the exploitation and institutionalized abuse of the most vulnerable members of society.

This regime seems very hostile to women in particular, and coupled with the powerful influence of Dominionism and far right evangelicalism, they are poised to overturn not just Roe vs. Wade, but also use “Old Testament Law” (the “Christian” version of Sharia Law) as justification to take away all our rights, including contraception and even possibly the right to vote or own property, just like they do in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.  As an unmarried (divorced) older female without much in the way of financial means, I’d be an easy target for the emboldened regime to exploit, marginalize, and abuse.   Social security and Medicare, which I’m counting on in a few years since I have very little in retirement savings, will be gone — and everything I paid into it over four decades effectively stolen from me by insatiably greedy oligarchs who believe they deserve everything and the “little people” deserve nothing.

Right now, I don’t see any way I’d be able to flee the country, and I wouldn’t leave without my adult children anyway, who are also vulnerable to exploitation and abuse by this regime for reasons I won’t get into here.   They would also be targets.

I fear death.   Maybe faced with a dystopian future of wasting away in a concentration or slave labor camp reminiscent of “The Colonies” in The Handmaid’s Tale (the “Colonies” are the grim hard labor camps that older and infertile women, and female dissenters are sent to shovel toxic waste until they die), that fear might disappear.  At that point, suicide might be an option.  I don’t know.   I can’t imagine such a thing now.   I still have too much hope that things can’t stay like this — even though intellectually I know they can.

Every day I pray that a miracle gives me back the country I love, or barring that, that an opportunity for escape opens up for my family and I to start over in a new country.   If neither of those outcomes are in the cards, all I want from God is a quick and merciful death to spare me from the horror and pain of the alternative.

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Families Belong Together Rally.

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Today, all across the country, in over 700 locations, people gathered together to protest the Trump regime’s cruel and inhumane family separation policy, that has ripped thousands of children away from their parents at the US/Mexico border, and put many of those children in cages and detention camps.

Although it was searingly hot here in Asheville, NC, today, there was a large turnout, at least a few hundred people — and this is a small city!     This was the first protest event I ever attended with an actual sign I made.   Early this morning I went to Dollar General and picked up some inexpensive art supplies and then worked on my sign.  Here’s the finished result (I decorated both sides).  I’m not much of an artist, but I think the drawings managed to capture the emotion I was trying to convey.

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Several people took photos of my sign, which was a nice feeling.   I also took photos of the signs other people were carrying.  I’m always so impressed at the creativity I see whenever I attend a protest or rally.   Here’s an example I really liked (this was also a two-sided sign).  The bottom picture is a depiction of the two year old Honduran girl who has become an icon of both the immigration crisis and this important movement (it’s hard to see the red of her shirt).     I love the way Lady Liberty has taken her hand and is guiding her to safety — something that is unfortunately far from the reality that is actually being practiced at our southern border.

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The photo at the top of this post is one I took of a beautiful toddler and her mother who were standing in front of me at the rally.   They were Hispanic (I don’t know what country they are from) and I thought this sweet moment was so perfect (I did get permission from the mom to take their picture).

The rally lasted about an hour and a half.  We listened to some great speeches from local activists, a few immigrants, and finally, a beautiful song sung by a woman from El Salvador.   There were booths set up to help people sign up to vote in November (make sure you are registered and VOTE BLUE!).  The crowd, in spite of the heat, was motivated and passionate!

I returned home feeling like I participated in something important that can help change things.   It sure beat lying in bed being depressed and feeling like our situation is hopeless and we are all doomed.

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Sorry, Trump supporter, I can’t be your friend anymore.

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Cartoon Credit: Unknown.

 

A few days ago, I unfriended an old Facebook friend because I couldn’t handle her constant pro-Trump memes and posts anymore.  Later, she asked me why I unfriended her.  I decided to be honest.  She replied that she thought I was being silly for unfriending people over something as shallow as politics.

But she missed the point.   I didn’t unfriend her because I didn’t agree with her politics.  Because it’s not about mere politics.  It’s not about Democrat vs. Republican.   It’s not about liberal vs. conservative.   It’s not about right vs. left.

It’s about good vs. evil.

It’s about whether you’re on the side of the bullies and sociopaths and applaud their scorched earth terrorist tactics vs.  being a decent fucking human being.  It’s about whether you’re on the side of a wealthy group of selfish criminals vs.  the average Joes and Janes just trying to get by.

So, if you still support the dictator sitting in the White House, you are supporting evil, and I can no longer be your friend.

I can handle mere differences of ideology, and in normal times, I have.   I used to have friends who were George W. Bush or Reagan supporters, though I never voted for either of them.  I could respect your differing opinion and agree to disagree with you, without it affecting our friendship, because I still knew that you were a good and decent person.

But if you still support Trump,  I’m not at all sure you’re a good and decent person, and you’re certainly not anyone I’d call a friend.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who separates children from their parents, many of whose parents were applying for asylum legally.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who puts young children in cages.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who wants to take away my healthcare.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who threatens to steal away the social security I’ve been paying into since 1976, leaving me penniless in my final years.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who threatens to steal away the Medicare I’ve been paying into since 1976, leaving me without healthcare in my final years, possibly to die penniless and in great pain.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who’s packing the courts with patriarchal  hardline conservatives who are waging war on women’s reproductive rights, not only threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade, but also outlawing certain forms of birth control. Their decisions will affect my daughter, who has medical issues that would make pregnancy very high risk and possibly dangerous for her.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who wants to bring back pre-existing conditions, making it impossible for my daughter, who has several medical conditions, to access healthcare — or for me to access healthcare, for that matter.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who is appointing hard-right judges who want to outlaw gay marriage and make gay people undergo conversion therapy or return to the closet.   That affects my son, who will no longer be free to live in a way that makes him happy or love the person he chooses.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who bullies the disabled.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who calls people who disagree with him unflattering names.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who has shown zero respect for women or POC.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who constantly gaslights his own people.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who thumbs his nose at the rule of law every single day.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a pathological liar.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a malignant narcissist who only cares about his own image and his own wealth — at the expense of the American people.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who admires the most brutal and inhumane despots and dictators of our time and aspires to be just like them.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who emboldens bullying  (by riling up his base at his rallies and inciting violence toward groups of people he dislikes)

A friend of mine doesn’t support a fascist who is destroying democracy and systematically shredding our 242 year old Constitution and Bill of Rights into so much hamster bedding.

A friend of mine doesn’t support a man who causes my PTSD to be triggered every freaking day.

A friend of mine doesn’t aid and abet evil, and that’s what you’re doing when you support Trump.

So, Trump supporter, those are just some of the reasons why we can’t be friends.

Sorry but that’s just how it has to be.

I’ll end this rant with the same words you like to spit at us “libtards” and “snowflakes” —

Get over it.

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Stop being polite.

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The outspoken congresswoman Maxine Waters has been attacked by Trump and his administration, accused of “inciting violence” even though Trump and his minions have said far worse things about their perceived enemies, and against anyone who disagrees with Trump.   You may love or hate Maxine Waters. You may find her outspokenness refreshing, or you may find it annoying or even rude,  but at least she’s not afraid to speak out for what she believes and call out evil where she sees it.  She’s fearless.

We who oppose Trump’s immoral and cruel policies have been polite for too long, and it’s getting us nowhere.   Reasoning nicely with them has proven impossible.  Bipartisan solutions continue to fall on deaf ears.   They keep ramming through their self-serving, destructive agenda without a thought about what the people want or need.

They hate it when we speak up and try to make them accountable.  Silence and obedience is what they expect from us.  We don’t matter.  As we stand there extending olive branches and offering compromises, they say whatever they want to whomever they want — no matter how mean or rude or untrue.  Every day, they pick away at our civil rights and find new ways to undermine our right to freedom of speech.   They act like the 1st Amendment exists only for them and we have no right to it.   Soon it may exist only for them.

I probably don’t need to remind you that our democracy is almost gone.  Fascism is winning.   Trumpism is winning.  I don’t have to spell out the reasons why this is so or the events that have transpired that make it so obvious.   Most people probably sense it has arrived.  Our checks and balances no longer work.   We have a fascist tyrant who is breaking laws that any other president would have been crucified for — and he’s apparently untouchable.  The more he gets away with, the more suffering and atrocities he inflicts, and the more we operate as a dictatorship instead of a democracy.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our descent is accelerating.

Now, we have concentration camps.  For children.  In America.  We are where Hitler’s Germany was just before he seized complete power with Reichstag Fire.   Things are going to get worse.  Maybe a lot worse.

I have no idea how much farther into the abyss we will fall — or if it even has a bottom.  There certainly seems to be no bottom to the abyss of the Trump regime’s capacity for evil.

Soon, we may no longer have the right to freedom of speech.  It may soon be illegal to say critical things about Trump or his policies, or even make a joke about one of his staffers.

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They want us to be obedient little sheep, happily accepting their abuse.  Then tell us we’re the ones being rude and combative for protesting or expressing outrage.

Fuck that noise.  If they are rude to you, be rude back.  Why be nice to people who want to strip you of access to healthcare,  take away your Social Security,  rip babies from their mothers’ arms, and put little Hispanic children in cages?   Tell them how you really feel, while you still can.   Don’t let them gaslight you, project their own evil onto you, or say you just have Trump Derangement Syndrome which is making you overreact to the terrible things they do.

Most Democratic politicians seem to be afraid to speak truth to power.  They are afraid of not seeming politically correct.   When our country’s being overrun by a fascist dictator who could be the next Hitler, and who is already kidnapping and trafficking children and putting babies in cages, fuck political correctness.  Has the Trump side ever worried about political correctness?  Of course not.   Take a page from their book, and stop beng so nice.   They don’t play nice, so it isn’t going to work.  This may be our last chance to take a stand.

One more thing.  Stop tolerating the intolerant.

 

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The paradox of tolerance.

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11 ways blogging has changed my life.

Originally posted on August 16, 2016

 

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Next month will be Lucky Otter’s Haven‘s 2 year anniversary! It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging that long. I started blogging only 6 months after going No Contact with my ex. It has become a real addiction, but much more than that–it was a game changer for me. My life is not the same as it was two years ago. Here are ten (plus one) ways blogging has changed my life.

1. I’ve become a much better writer. I’m rather embarrassed by how badly written some of my early posts were. I think I’ve honed my writing skills and use a lot less “purple prose” and unnecessary adjectives than than I used to–that has always been a huge weakness of mine when it comes to writing.

2. I’ve become more self confident and less shy. Writing about your thoughts and feelings teaches you a lot about yourself. You become more introspective and in so doing, realize a lot of good things about yourself, and that gives you confidence. You also get validation from others, and that boosts your self esteem. You also find out that most people aren’t going to judge you for things you thought were shameful or embarrassing. It takes a while to work up the courage to write about such personal things, but once you do, you realize that your words may have helped or inspired someone else and they will appreciate you for your honesty. This has translated into my real life to some degree–while I’m still shy and awkward in social situations, I seem to be a bit more outgoing and less awkward now.

3. I’ve made some wonderful friends. Although I haven’t met any of my blogging friends, I feel like we’re a family, and for a few of you, I feel as if I’ve known you all my life. Before blogging, I felt so alone and isolated, but in the blogosphere, I’ve found so many people who have stories similar to my own, have gone through similar kinds of trauma, and we’ve grown to care abut and support each other. We’re like the surrogate family we never had!

4. I’ve become more creative. Writing almost every day forces me to consult my “muse” and the more ideas I think of to write about, it seems the more ideas just come to me, and some of them are pretty wild! I go ahead and write about those crazy ideas too, and sometimes those prove to be my best posts.

Hello world. This is my very first blog. I’m not sure what the hell I’m doing yet or how the heck this thing (WordPress) works. I’m learning so please be patient with me.

–The first sentence of my first blog post, Lucky Otter’s Haven, 9/10/14

 

5. I’m a better person than I was. Writing about your deepest thoughts and feelings, and exploring painful memories helps purge a lot of the pain that was keeping me from moving forward into real healing. Writing is powerful therapy and I find that today I’m less depressed, less angry, less fearful, have more moments of joy and serenity, and have even become more outgoing. I’ve also developed a lot more empathy, which was almost unavailable to me when I began blogging.

6. A blog is a great record of how you’ve changed over time. It’s always fascinating (and a little horrifying!) to go back and read over old posts and see how much you’ve changed. It gives you perspective and clarity. I can tell by the tone of my early posts that I’m not the same–my early posts were a lot more bitter, angry, whiny, and cynical, and a LOT less spiritual (I was agnostic when I started blogging). I realize a lot of that attitude was because I was only recently out of an abusive relationship and was still in shell shock, but blogging has definitely helped me overcome that.

7. My computer skills are better. Setting up and designing my blogs has given me more confidence in my computer skills. I can do a lot of things on a computer I didn’t used to be able to and thought would be difficult but are really not.

8. Blogging has given me a focus and a goal. All my life, I never had a real goal and never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. Narcissism and narcissistic abuse has always been my primary topic on my blogs, but lately my fascination with this subject is expanding into my wanting to help others heal, whether from abuse or from narcissism itself. I haven’t decided yet whether I will write a book or become a life coach or therapist. Maybe both!

9. My faith in God has grown. God gave me writing ability for a reason, and as I grew as a writer and shared my thoughts and feelings on an increasingly intimate level, I found myself actually listening to what God was trying to tell me, and realizing how much he really does care. I found other bloggers like myself whose faith was also strengthened through the gift of the written word.

10. It’s fun. Blogging is so addictive, and I’ve never had a hobby I’ve been more passionate about. In fact, I never really had any serious hobbies until I started to blog. I always look forward to coming home from work, opening my laptop, and starting to write, or reply to comments, or read other blogs (when I have time). I get so immersed in blogging sometimes I actually forget to eat!

11. I make a little bit of money from blogging. I can’t quit my day job, but I make about $50 a month from ads that run on this blog. It ain’t much, but it pays for my gas for a couple of weeks or a nice dinner out once a month! It’s always a great feeling to get paid to do what you love doing the most–even if you can’t live on it. But I’d blog even if I had to pay to do it. That’s how much I love doing this.

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Help wanted! I’m looking for ex-Trump supporters.

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Former Trump supporters who had a change of heart and turned against Trump — or even joined the resistance! — seem to be pretty rare.  In fact, I don’t personally know of one Trump supporter who has changed their mind about him.   I’m sure there must be at least a few out there.   There just has to be.  Right?

My daughter’s ex boyfriend was a Trump supporter, and a few months ago I wrote about a conversation we had where he seemed to consider my point of view.  But he never actually changed his mind and to this day, he still thinks Trump is doing a good job (this is one of the reasons my daughter broke off their relationship).

Because former Trump supporters seem to be as rare as blue diamonds, I’m on a quest to find one, and publish their story here on my blog.

If you fit this description and want to tell your story, please leave a note in the comments.

I am only interested in stories from bona fide ex-Trump supporters, not people who  were lukewarm about him and decided to give him a chance — or from Bernie Sanders fans who voted for Trump as a protest vote against Hillary.

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Sunday drive to Mount Mitchell.

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I had to get out of the house yesterday and clear my head.  I’ve been very upset about the situation with the children at the border.

Nature usually calms my soul and centers me, so in spite of the iffy, partly cloudy weather, I took a drive to Mount Mitchell State Park, about 50 miles to the north from where I live.   Mount Mitchell is part of the Black Mountains (eastern flank of the Blue Ridge) and at 6,683 ft is the highest mountain on the East Coast (Mount Washington in New Hampshire is the second highest, at 6,289 ft).

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It was noticeably cooler at the summit, almost sweater weather.  That high up, only conifer trees can grow, and the area is known for its Frasier firs, a species known only to this area that almost died out about twenty years ago due to an aphid infestation.  There are still many white skeleton-looking trunks of the trees that died off, mixed with the newer trees, giving the area an eerie but interesting look.

I took these photos.  Hope you like them.

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Football and Christmas: how Trump is destroying two American traditions.

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Malignant narcissists love to ruin holidays and other events that bring people together. It’s common for a narcissist to ruin Christmas, anniversaries, or birthdays by picking a fight, gaslighting or insulting the guest of honor or the attendees, or finding ways to turn everyone’s attention on themselves and make it all about them. The truth is, the narcissist hates it when they aren’t constantly the center of attention, so ruining everyone else’s fun is often the easiest way for them to accomplish that. It’s also a way to keep others from having a good time. Malignant narcissists hate to see other people happy because, to them, life is a zero sum game and if others are happy, they see it as a threat to their own ability to be happy (the truth is, they are incapable of genuine happiness) and become envious of those who can. So if they are at a party or other gathering where people are celebrating, they will do anything they can to become the center of attention and ruin the fun of others in order to “right” things (by taking away the happiness of others).

On the national level, in America, we have two traditions that are shared by millions of people of disparate backgrounds and historically have had a way of uniting people who may not otherwise agree or have much else in common. These traditions are professional football and Christmas.

Christmas is celebrated not just by Christians, but also by many Jews, atheists and people of other belief systems. It’s become a secular and national holiday, and while I deplore the commercialization of Christmas, it certainly serves as a yearly reminder of the importance of family ties, close friendships, and generosity. Although many (understandably) become depressed during the holiday season (especially if they lack family, friends or money to buy gifts) and have every right to not celebrate it at all, I think most people see Christmas as a positive and enjoyable thing, and of course many also recognize the religious meaning of Christmas too.

Christmas brings together people not just of different religious beliefs, but also people of every race, ethnicity, creed, gender identity, age, and lifestyle. Everyone from the liberal childless high-powered urban career woman to the Latino factory worker supporting his wife and five children to the conservative Christian farmer’s wife get a day or two off of work, decorate a Christmas tree, and give gifts to the people they love on December 25th. For the most part, people feel a sense of togetherness and joyfulness during the holiday season, and are caught up in the excitement of decorating, cooking and shopping for those they love.

NFL football is much the same way. While it probably has fewer fans than Christmas (I’m one of them), football is a huge deal to many Americans of varied backgrounds, education levels, political ideologies, interests, and religious beliefs. It tends to bring all these people together in support of their favorite team (and against the opposing team). As long as the players are out there on the field, football fans can put aside their religious or political differences, and forget about race and social class and come together in solidarity to support their team.  Football, like Christmas, fosters unity and community.

How Trump is destroying Christmas and NFL football.

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Trump is a malignant narcissist and because he is, he hates anything that brings people together and causes them to celebrate together or find common ground or unity.   Because he is miserable and empty inside, he hates happiness and joy in others.   He has homed in on Christmas and football because these two traditions are associated with community and fellowship.  Perhaps even more importantly, they are traditions associated with America, and though Trump will never admit it, he hates America and the democracy and liberty for all it represents.   He is hell-bent on destroying those things that make us Americans and transforming us into a thuggish Russian-style dictatorship.

Christmas was his first target.   Even during his campaign, he (and his sycophants on Fox News) railed on about a nonexistent “war on Christmas” — a manufactured “crisis” focusing not on the spirit or meaning or even the holiday of Christmas itself — but on meaningless and shallow trappings  of Christmas like the proper method of greeting:  “Happy Holidays” was suddenly a Very Bad Thing, even though Happy Holidays has been said for many decades without anyone ever blinking an eyelash.   His unreasonable rages against red Starbucks coffee cups that lacked Christmas decorations on them was similarly petty and shallow  and had nothing to do with Christmas itself.

Last fall, Trump attacked football in a remarkably similar manner.  He became enraged when black football players exercised their First Amendment rights by “taking a knee” during the singing of the National Anthem instead of standing for it.   For those unfamiliar with what “taking a knee” represents, it’s an action of protest against police brutality against people of color — not a disrespect of America, the Anthem, or the flag.  In fact, it’s because these players who take a knee love the America we used to be and the one the Constitution stood for, that they are peacefully protesting against the return of racism and violence to law enforcement during the Trump era.  There is nothing wrong or disrespecful about exercising our freedom of speech, a right we are promised by the Constitition, but Trump acts as if it’s an unpardonable sin and a personal affront.  He doesn’t seem to understand that what makes a person a great patriot isn’t whether or not they stand for the Anthem or salute the flag, but whether or not they have the integrity and courage to hold up the truth, and seek justice, freedom, and the upholding of the Constitition.    Anyone can salute a piece of cloth or stand for a song.  But not everyone can stand up for the values America claims to uphold.   Trump certainly can’t — and he won’t.

I also don’t think it’s an accident that football is closely associated with Thanksgiving — a holiday that specifically celebrates inclusiveness of the “other” (white settlers sitting down to dine with native Americans) and family unity.

Note the similarities between what Trump is doing to Christmas and NFL football.   He is using a sport that normally unifies people and zeroing in on a trivial “optic”  in order to create discord and divisiveness.    In much the same manner he focuses on shallow details such as the design of a throwaway cup or the wording of a Christmas card instead of the secular (unity and community) or religious meaning of Christmas,  he is focusing on black football players’ failing to stand during the Anthem instead of on the enjoyment and sense of community the sport of football brings to so many Americans.    In zeroing in on the inconsequental and trivial and getting Americans to focus on those instead of the thing that brought them together in the first place, he is dividing people within two revered traditions that used to unify us.

The end result is that people are no longer able to enjoy Christmas as they once did because they now have to worry about whether or not they should say “Happy Holidays” (to be inclusive) or “Merry Christmas.” (to please Trump).   They have to worry about what kinds of decorations they use or what their throwaway coffee cup should look like.  The whole issue is ridiculous because people have always said “Merry Christmas.”  They have also said “Happy Holidays” as long as I can remember (and that’s a long time).   Football fans now have to worry about whether they should stand for the Anthem or sympathize with the black players who are protesting police brutality (not America itself).  They can’t just focus on the game and have a good time.

Both of these things are Machiavellian thought control tactics intended to divide us and create discord in an already deeply divided and tribal country.   The intended goal is control.   The more we are divided as a nation, the easier we are to control.   Such manipulation of public sentiment is standard practice in dictatorships and authoritarian regimes.

Malignant narcissists like Trump can’t understand genuine human emotions or ideals, so they substitute meaningless slogans and phony platitudes and symbols like a flag or an Anthem or MAGA hat or a greeting card message as a pale substitute.   People with heartfelt passion for the actual ideals these symbols are supposed to represent can see right through the facade of “patriotism” or “Christmas spirit” or whatever else the narcissist is trying to convince the world they are standing up for, when the sad reality is they stand for nothing because they are so empty inside.

Football and Christmas.  Two traditions as American as apple pie.   I wonder how he’ll use apple pie as a tool for division.

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Let’s party like it’s 1399.

Originally posted on December 30, 2017 as The Unholy Alliance That is Ushering in a New Dark Age. 

Although I have made few editorial changes and no factual updates to this article, I’m reblogging it in light of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ and Jeff Sessions’ quoting of the Bible to justify the inhumane separation of children and babies from their parents at our southern border (it’s not just illegal immigrants this is being done to, but to mothers and children legally seeking asylum) as well as the incarceration of children in what can only be called concentration camps. Using the word of God to justify these cruel atrocities and human rights abuses — inflicted even on innocent children — is the pinnacle of blasphemy as well as an egregious example of the Trumpian GOP’s constant gaslighting. In fact, the Bible takes a very dark view of those who would deny refuge to a stranger and inflict abuse on children. I won’t list all the quotes proving that here for lack of space, but anyone with a cursory knowledge of the Bible knows this. Jesus was himself a dark skinned immigrant whose parents were fleeing from persecution in their home country, and I have no doubt that in Trump’s America he would be separated from Mary and Joseph and thrown in a cage like an animal. Let’s not forget that the Bible was also once used to justify slavery and even by some Nazis to justify the extermination of six million Jews and other “undesirables.”

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When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. –Sinclair Lewis, 1935.

This article is going to be dark.  I wasn’t looking forward to writing it, but I must do so. Dark as the subject matter is, it’s the light within most of us that makes us able to know when darkness is descending and take the necessary action to avoid being annihilated by it.

Education and science are under attack by an unholy alliance between right wing evangelical Christianity and far right politics.    This has been going on since the late 1970s (The Moral Majority was the first obvious sign this was beginning to happen), but only now has the situation in America become critical, so critical we are fast losing our democracy and becoming a fascist state.

Protecting democracy and liberty is the primary reason why the Founding Fathers made sure the Constitution protected the separation of church and state.   It’s not because these men regarded religion as a bad thing.   In fact, some of them were personally quite religious.   It’s because mixing the two always corrupts both.   Enter politics into religion, and religion becomes authoritarian and punishing; enter religion into politics and  government becomes the same way.   Religio-fascist, authoritarian states like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan became that way because religion (in their case, Islam) was allowed to infiltrate politics without regulations to keep its excesses at bay.   Islam itself became corrupted due to the influence of radical Islamists (ISIS and the Taliban) who wanted to make their religion about politics and use it as an excuse to control the people.    The same thing is happening in America with certain factions of evangelical Christians (dominionists) who believe their Godly duty is to force others to think and behave the way they do. And they have created a God — a cruel, narcissistic, sociopathic, constantly enraged God devoid of empathy or love — in their own monstrous image.

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I realize not all conservatives are like this — if I made this table, I would substitute the term “Trumpist GOP and Dominionism” for “Republicans and Conservatives.”  I’d also leave out the term “Muslim” since most do not support ISIS and Sharia Law.

Unfortunately — but not surprisingly, given their belief that they have been chosen by God to “take dominion” over other mortals and the planet itself —  the highest echelons of government are now populated by toxic dominionist Christians who believe tyranny and oppression is the God-ordained way to rule a nation and the only way to bring about God’s kingdom on earth.    I’ve come to believe the real reason so many right wing Christians hate Muslims is because they see radical Islam as competition for their own desired Christian Taliban — it’s the same damn thing with a different name!   Trump and his cronies don’t seem to hate Saudi Arabia or its richest, most powerful rulers at all (Trump seemed to be having the time of his life when the Saudis treated his arrival last spring like the arrival of a beloved king) — they only hate powerless Muslim refugees coming to America to escape from that oppressive regime.    Radical Christian extremists and malignant narcissists like Trump who crave and admire only power and wealth have far more in common with regimes like Saudi Arabia’s than they do with western democracies where the people have a say in how they are governed.

Authoritarian religion –whether Christian, Islam, or some other faith system — tends to attract people with narcissistic or sociopathic personalities, and research has shown that people with these personality types also score high in authoritarian traits.    Authoritarian religion provides a handy way for people without a conscience or with sadistic tendencies to justify their abuse and judgment of “the Other” — anyone who they believe is inferior to them — or anyone who threatens to shine the harsh light of the truth on them.    It’s easy to say, “Well, it’s what God wants” or “it says right here in the Bible” (which more often than not, is a faulty interpretation of Scripture anyway) than to say, “I’m a sadistic SOB who wants to control you and make your life a living hell.”   Malignant narcissists do not want to take responsibility for their inhumanity; they’d much rather blame it on someone else.  If they can “blame” it on God, that’s even better, because then they can tell you “it’s for your own good.”

A personal story.

A few years ago, I had a falling out with another blogger who wrote about narcissistic abuse.   We are still not on speaking terms, and probably never will be again, but recently I started to read her blog again, not just because she happens to be a good writer, but because during the past few months I’ve actually found her blog inspiring.   I won’t go into all the details of what led to the falling out, but one of the reasons was because of the woman’s religion.   She had made some critical — even cruel — comments about and to me, using what I felt to be her fundamentalist Christianity as a weapon of judgment and intolerance.   From what I could observe from her older writings, she appeared to be stuck in a victim mentality, unable to move forward in her recovery due to her tendency to judge others harshly because of her fundamentalist Christianity.   I saw no evidence of any real self awareness or willingness to self-criticize.   So, at the time, I dismissed her as a covert narcissist masquerading as someone with “only” C-PTSD.

But apparently I was wrong.  It seems like Trump’s election changed her in a positive way.     She wrote about what she saw happening with politics and the religious right, and became increasingly critical of both.   She began to realize that her fundamentalist church was infested with malignant narcissists who judged her negatively for her poverty and health problems, believing, as they did, that wealth and good health were proof of God’s approval.   It wasn’t long before she ditched her fundamentalist church and began to seek answers outside religion.    This actually didn’t surprise me, since I always got the impression her religion was a bad fit and she was miserable within its confines.  This woman was clearly intelligent and well educated, but it was almost as if she had been trying to force herself to adapt to a restricting mold that didn’t allow her to grow as a human being.   She was telling herself lies that she knew were lies, because of the fear of Hell and judgment.   Freed of that, suddenly she was exploring and seeking answers in secular fields like science and psychology, and her mind seemed to blossom.  At the same time this happened, she seemed to develop more tolerance and empathy toward others.  Most impressive of all, she began to develop an ability to self-reflect and as a result, began to make changes to herself.   Her writings indicated a new insight into herself I hadn’t seen while she was under the thrall of toxic religion.    She seems happier than she ever did, and a lot less angry in general.   She’s exploring old interests and talents that she had neglected while she was in that church, and more positive things seem to be happening to her now too.    I’m sure being happy and using one’s mind to question and explore the world aren’t sins, and God is not judging us harshly for doing so.   If God didn’t want us to ask questions or think critically about things, he would not have given us brains!

I won’t link to her blog here or even name it, due to the fact we stopped speaking several years ago, but her most recent article about the religious right’s war on science was one of her most enlightening and insightful.    It was also very dark and unfortunately all too true.   In it, she criticized the religious right’s scorched-earth mission of squelching all independent thought and critical thinking, which has led to an all out war on secular education itself and an accompanying celebration of ignorance and superstition.

The war on science and education.

Religio-fascist societies always attack education and science as the enemy, because the ability to think and ask questions challenges their belief system.   This always leads to the decimation of civilized society and overpowering oppression, premature death, human suffering, and covert or overt genocide to “purge” the society of undesirable populations (I believe the current GOP’s tax bill and attempts to destroy the social safety net is a covert attempt to dispatch the elderly, poor, disabled, and sick).    Such rigid and cruel regimes held power during the European Middle Ages, when the Catholic Church doubled as government and forbade the questioning of religion and condemned scientific thought, even sentencing scientific thinkers to be burned at the stake (the Catholic Church has since renounced and repented for this dark period in its history, and today embraces science, and since Vatican II, this includes the acceptance of evolution).  It happened more recently in countries of the Middle East, with radical Islam taking over government and leading to the oppression of women, expansion of the death penalty to include personal or sexual “immorality” like homosexuality, abortion, contraception, adultery, and even a child’s disobedience to their parents; and other human rights atrocities.

“We made God in our own image.”

Any religion whose dogma regards the fight for human rights as a sin (as dominionist Christianity and radical Islam both do), is one where God isn’t benevolent or good, but is a false entity made in the rulers’ own image:  their God has become a malignant narcissist who does not care about the well-being of his creation, demands adulation and worship, and only approves of and rewards narcissistic or sociopathic behavior.    Leaders of such religions shift the blame for their society’s ills to their most vulnerable or powerless members (the poor, women, immigrants, or others),  gaslight their followers and those under their rule by saying that we, as humans, are unable to determine what God deems good because we are so “depraved,” and hence the means, no matter how cruel, always justify the ends.   Dominionists believe that only certain “elect” (God’s “golden children”) have been given dominion over creation — with wealth and power being proof of God’s favor — and must do whatever it takes to destroy the old ways  (which includes jettisoning empathy for the vulnerable) in order to usher in God’s kingdom.   Apparently, they forgot about God’s grace and mercy and the earlier fundamentalist belief in free will.

7-mountains

The 7 “mountains” of the New Apostolic Reformation (dominionism)

There are two glaring problems with dominionist doctrine.  First of all, if humans are so depraved, why is the cruelty of certain powerful religious people okay to God but not the benevolence of others?  Second, their doctrine flies in the face of everything Jesus taught in the New Testament.   It’s interesting the dominionists rarely quote from the New Testament, unless it’s from the missives of Paul, who lived after Jesus and seemed to have harsher views toward women and sexual behavior than Jesus himself did.     They justify cruelty by misinterpreting Scripture to fit their harsh  narrative.   As one example, they often use the verse, “Those who do not work do not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10) as proof that Jesus was a Republican who didn’t believe in helping the poor.    What Jesus actually meant was that if you are an able bodied person who can work, you shouldn’t sit on your ass expecting handouts.   This is common sense!   But Jesus never said we shouldn’t help people who truly are in need — in fact, the New Testament (and even parts of the Old Testament) are full of verses instructing us to care for the “least among us.”  Dominionist evangelicals cherry pick from the Bible and conveniently ignore the many passages telling us to be inclusive and loving toward the most vulnerable members of society, while glorifying the the most punishing parts of the Old Testament as God’s true nature.

America today is extremely narcissistic, and celebrates narcissistic, even sociopathic, values.   It’s become an orgy of malignant narcissism, and its associated traits and values (lack of empathy, arrogance, coldness, racism, sexism, sadism, bullying, dishonesty, cheating, unchecked power, greed, revenge, war, division, destructiveness, and hatred) have become synonymous with both the Trumpian Republican Party and far right Christian extremism.  These two groups, thanks to Trump and his far right evangelical supporters and donors, have become increasingly merged to the point it is sometimes hard to separate one from the other.    This, of course, is part of their plan — destruction of the separation between church and state would allow these sociopaths to carry out their plans to destroy or punish anyone they dislike, all in the name of God.   It’s heresy of the highest order, but there are people who really believe a white, conservative, Christian society is the only kind of society acceptable to God.   To them, science is a creation of Satan and critical thinking or questioning of any kind is flirting with the devil.   That’s why they hate education and science so much: because only the gullible and uneducated will unquestioningly believe — and obey — such a toxic and destructive doctrine.    They want obedient sheep without working brains.   That’s the most effective weapon they have, and the one that will catapult us into the new Dark Age.

The Prosperity Gospel and positive-thinking movement’s connection to authoritarian Christianity.

The “prosperity gospel” used to be a seemingly harmless, feel-good vaguely Christian doctrine that gave people permission to not feel guilty or ashamed of achieving great success or wealth, or about their desire to have those things.   It held that God wanted his people to be successful in life and in fact it was their duty to strive for that.   While I can’t argue that there’s anything wrong with ambition or wanting to be successful (who wants to be a poor failure?), the real problem started when the prosperity gospel (and other “positive thinking” belief systems) began to regard the emotions of guilt, remorse, and shame as something shameful in themselves.  Anything went, even if to get what you wanted, you had to exploit or hurt others (which is why Ayn Rand became so popular in recent years).   It wasn’t okay to feel guilty — unless you felt guilty about feeling guilty!   But guilt, though unpleasant (and unhealthy when excessive) is necessary for civilized society.   The ability to feel guilt (and the related ability to feel empathy) is what separates sociopaths and narcissists from people who care about other people.

At the same time the more new-agey positive thinking movement (which also eschewed guilt and shame) was gaining steam, the prosperity gospel (basically a Christian version of the positive thinking doctrine) and Christian evangelism/fundamentalism were beginning to merge.  It wasn’t long before having great power or wealth, rather than being a sign of a Pharisee or false prophet, became a sign of God’s favor.   Christianity as taught by Jesus in the Gospels was turned on  its head into its polar opposite!   Given that sociopaths and malignant narcissists tend to be attracted to any religion that tells them their power or wealth is holy,  soon the prosperity gospel took on a dark cast by demonizing those without such power or wealth as somehow sinful or even evil.  The Christian Dominionist/Reconstructionist movement (which had been considered  “loony fringe” ever since Rousas Rushdoony published his Institutes of Biblical Law in the 1960s), now known within evangelical circles as the New Apostolic Reformation (don’t read late at night if you don’t want nightmares), exploded into the upper echelons of the Republican Party.  Suddenly, it was perfectly okay for a narcissistic sociopath like Roy Moore to run for Senate, regardless how immoral his personal behavior (in his case, alleged pedophilia and stalking teenage girls) because he also promoted the extremist Christian doctrine that fit in so well with far right Republican politics.

What they really want.

Both dominionist Christianity and Trumpian Republicanism are fascist movements that believe anything they do is alright, as long as it achieves their desired ends:  unlimited accumulation of wealth and power (which includes unbridled corporate power), ending the right to vote for anyone who isn’t a white male property owner (this is actually part of their overall plan and explains why they don’t seem to care anymore what the public thinks), repealing the First Amendment, putting women back in the kitchen without access to contraception, removing laws that protect women and children against abusers, decimating the social safety net (getting rid of Medicare and Social Security is a big part of their agenda), denying facts and science, rolling back all protective regulations, including those that protect our planet; building walls to separate us from our allies, revising history so it supports their fascist agenda (the insistence that the Founding Fathers intended to create a Christian nation is one example of revisionist history used to justify the legislation of Sharia biblical law), denying access to education unless it’s fundamentalist religious education, privatizing all public goods and infrastructure so nothing is free (anyone like toll roads or for-profit prisons and fire departments?), and oppressing, punishing, deporting, and killing anyone who isn’t rich, Republican, Christian, or white.    How very Christ-like of them.

The means to achieve their nefarious ends simply don’t matter, no matter how immoral or how many people they hurt.   It’s okay to lie, cheat, steal, break the law, deride the FBI and the Justice Department, collude or conspire with hostile foreign powers, even to the point of treason;  accumulate obscene amounts of wealth on the backs of the working and middle class, emotionally harass and abuse, gaslight, blame-shift, project onto, mislead, arrest without due process, and inflict draconian punishments on others who don’t fit their ideal or who dare to speak out against such harsh treatment.   They talk about “small government” but that only means small government for them — they are above the law,  you see.    They want to inflict a Big Brother government on all the rest of us lowly ingrates.

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Ignorance and moral bankruptcy.

Of course this is all incredibly sad and scary, but what’s even more tragic is that one third of the country is seemingly so ignorant they support Trump and his billionaire, white supremacist, and evangelical cronies’ vision for America and the world.   I don’t really think they are as ignorant as they seem.   I think they are perfectly well aware of the fascist hell on earth that Trump and his minions are aiming for.    It’s even beginning to dawn on a few of them that maybe Russia was involved in the 2016 election, and maybe Trump did collude with them.   But that doesn’t faze them one bit:  now they say that maybe Russia is better than America, and that Trump was in his right to collude with them.   Far right extremists and trolls are still promising civil war against the rest of us if he is removed or impeached.

No, Trumpists are not all ignorant.  After reading many comments on right wing websites and studying the right wing mindset in depth over this past year,  I have come to believe that people who like Trump and the new Republicanism are attracted to it precisely because it is so sociopathic.    They love it for the same reasons the rest of us hate it.   They don’t care if they lose their healthcare or their rights — as long as they get to see the people they hate suffer.   Trumpists are people who are either narcissistic or sociopathic themselves (how else does one explain the preponderance of Internet trolls and neo-Nazis among them?), or who have severe codependency issues and look up to narcissists and sociopaths as viable leaders.   They want a strongman leader and admire dictators, either because they don’t want to have to think for themselves and gain a perverse sense of security from being told exactly what they have to believe and do, or because they are narcissists and sociopaths who regard higher human values such as empathy, kindness, fairness, compassion, civility, generosity, and love as “feminine” or weak.   On the contrary, it’s the strongest and most spiritually evolved people who are able to embrace these higher values and act on them.    If Jesus, the embodiment of these virtues, were to walk on Earth today, he would be despised by the religious right.  I’m pretty sure they would persecute him all over again.

Going forward.

It is not too late to nip this cancer in the bud and return to America as the land of freedom and democracy, even improving on what we had before — preferably with some new checks and balances put in place to prevent anything like this from ever happening again.   But the hour is getting late and the cancer is metastasizing.   One positive effect of Trumpism and the carnage it’s creating is that finally, higher human values like I mentioned in the last paragraph are being given the respect due them again.  There is a general recognition by two thirds of Americans — even by traditional Republicans (both Bushes are among them) — that these values have been devalued for so long that they are now are nearly nonexistent in American politics, and demonized where they appear (compassion and kindness are now “socialism”).  Narcissism has run amok, ignorance is admired, and greed has been glorified.   Sociopathy is now becoming acceptable.  Over time, these vices have been turned into virtues instead of the destructive forces they really are.  But there’s a painful awareness now, a passion for truth, and a desire to repair or reclaim what has been lost or damaged that I see now among most people.  Two thirds of us strive to be rid of the invasive cancer of societal malignant narcissism, a desire that wasn’t evident before 2017.    In addition, like the narcissism blogger I discussed in the beginning of this article, some of us have been transformed spiritually in the face of this existential darkness, and in spite of the ominous threat of being silenced held over us, we are finally finding our voices.

I have to believe that good will always “trump” evil (pun intended).

It always does, in the end.

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