Free-floating anxiety.

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I’m a nervous wreck today.  I didn’t go to work because of my nerves, and even though I always spend the whole day feeling guilty about staying out of work,  I keep doing it anyway.   I tried to sleep in, but wasn’t able to because the anxiety kept flooding in and making my heart pound.  I finally gave up on trying to sleep.  I got up and tried to identify what was making me so jittery but I just can’t.  Every little noise I hear makes me jump.   I don’t feel like going out or doing anything, but if I stay inside I will go nuts.    I turned off the TV because the news makes me crazy.  I tried to read a book but it’s hard to focus.  Maybe I’ll bake something or just drive somewhere.   I hate this feeling.  I feel like jumping out of my skin.      It helps a little to write about it though.   Usually in the evenings it’s better, so I just have to wait, I guess.

 

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Memorial Day Photos — Blue Ridge Parkway, NC (Balsams, Plott Balsams, Devils Courthouse)

I had no plans for Memorial Day and no one to spend it with, and I was going stir crazy sitting around the house, with nothing to do but watch the depressing news.     So I decided to go for a drive.

I’m lucky to live very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I decided to drive south along it into the Plott Balsams, about 50 miles from my house.  This range (which is east of the Smokies) contains the highest peak along the parkway (6,053 feet).    The highest peak on the East Coast is Mount Mitchell (6,674 feet) in the Black Mountains, but that’s about 50 miles in the other direction.

I moved to western North Carolina in 1993, and I remember these high peaks you see pictured here used to be almost bald and covered with the dead white remains of the Frasier firs, which were almost made extinct by an aphid infestation that killed almost all the trees at this elevation.   Now they are lush and green again, but in a few of the photos, you can still see the white trunks of the dead trees peeking through the green.  I love the contrast of the dark green of the firs and balsams against the light green of the deciduous trees (which stop growing above 4,500 – 5,000 feet).   The pink flowered shrubs are wild rhododendron.

Enjoy the photos I took today.

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Mental Illness and Lethal Medical Neglect

We may not use concentration camps, but in America today, we are still practicing eugenics and the mentally ill are one of the main targets for extermination. The proposed “healthcare bill” and Trump’s horrifying budget that targets social programs that help the most vulnerable, including the mentally ill, is nothing less than a social Darwinist way of weeding out the “unfit.”   Eugenicists believe it’s our moral responsibility to allow natural selection to take care of the “unfit” and the weakest, eg, let them die and refuse them any support.   How ironic that so many who deny science and evolution are using  a “law of nature” described by Darwin himself to get rid of people who don’t “contribute to society.”   Or is it just hypocrisy, which they are well known for?

Let’s not sugar coat things.  The ugly truth is that what this administration is trying to do is slow mass genocide.   They have declared war on us.

Art by Rob Goldstein

Art by Rob GoldsteinLife in the Age of Aquarius

I saw my first homeless person with mental illness in the spring of 1982 in Honolulu.

I worked at the psychiatric unit on which the homeless man had recently been a patient.

John came to us for a course of ECT treatments in the hope that the ECT would resolve some of the symptoms of his Schizophrenia.

He was psychotic and minimally responsive to medications.

I was on his treatment team and assisted his Psychiatrist with the ECT.

After his treatments we sent John to the State Hospital where we hoped he would remain stable enough to live on an open unit.

When I saw him on Hotel Street a week later digging through garbage for food, I was shocked.

I thought that he was in danger and went to his psychiatrist to report my concern.

Dr. Popenoe: Yes?

Me: I…

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Meet and Greet: 5/26/17

Dream Big, Dream Often

dreambigwallpaper-pinkombre

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!! Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times! It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want. It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media. Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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It’s time to stop blaming Trump supporters.

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Credit: Chicago Tribune

I consider myself progressive politically, but I have a bone to pick with some people on the left.    Unlike the modern GOP and their wealthy backers,  we’re supposed to care about the “little people” — the poor, disenfranchised and otherwise vulnerable.   Understandably, we are angered by the millions of working class red state voters who will be hurt by Trump’s draconian policies and cruel budget but voted for him anyway, because we will all suffer as a result of their ignorance too.      Those of us who aren’t swayed by Fox News and right-wing radio and are able to think critically have a hard time understanding why so many poor and working class whites would vote against their own interests and doggedly continue to support a man who is dead set on taking away the little they have.

I understand the anger.   It’s hard for me to wrap my brain around their ignorance — maybe even their willful ignorance.  But I’m seeing so many comments lately from people who consider themselves progressive, yet who not only blame working class Trump voters for the mess we’re in, but who seem to take pleasure in the prospect of seeing them suffer as a result of their folly.   They say things like, “They deserve to lose their healthcare for voting for a monster,” or “let them taste their own medicine,” or “I’ll laugh in their faces when they lose their healthcare and food stamps.”

It’s natural to be angry and even feel a bit of schadenfreude (even though we’re being hit too), but this attitude seems as heartless as the cruel budget and healthcare bill the GOP has unleashed.    How far a leap is it from “she made her bed, now she should lie in it” to the far-right refrain “if she had made better life choices, she wouldn’t be poor, sick, etc.”    Not much, if you ask me.

The country is deeply divided.  Things that were unthinkable in the past have become our new normal.   Mudslinging, namecalling, and even violence abounds on all sides.  This isn’t a left vs. right, GOP vs. Democrat issue.  It’s an all out war and it’s not normal.  Trump supporters hate “libruls” as much as they hate Muslim immigrants and Black Lives Matter — maybe more so.   They are encouraged at Trump rallies to physically attack and intimidate those who oppose them.   Reporters, in particular, are fair game.   But it’s not just on the Republican side we are seeing aggression and hatred.   Democrats who voted for Hillary hate hardcore Bernie supporters (“Berniebots”) who they blame for helping Trump win by refusing to vote for Hillary.   In turn, Hillary-hating Bernie supporters (in some cases they hate her even more than they hate Trump) blame the neoliberal “corporate shills” of the DNC who foisted such a terrible candidate on the nation.  Some even voted for Trump as a vote against Hillary.    I have seen them talk about violent revolution, even homegrown militias to overthrow the government.   Both the far left and traditional liberal Democrats blame working class Trump voters for what’s coming to them, even reveling in the prospect of seeing them suffer or even die when it happens.

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This isn’t an uncommon sentiment on the left.

Like the far right who blame the poor and immigrants for all the nation’s ills, when it’s really social Darwinist policies that target the vulnerable and reward the super-wealthy that are to blame (and create even more poverty in doing so),  some people on the left are just as guilty of blaming the victim.   I’m annoyed and tired of far left ideologues who say, “they made their bed, let them lie in it.”   No one deserves to suffer because they made a mistake — even if they still stick by their mistake.

Granted, some Trump supporters are racist, homophobic, intolerant, full of hate, and admire authoritarian leaders and a “strongman” approach to governing.  Some of them really are terrible people.   But not all of them are.  Most are just ignorant.  They’re not bad people and might even be kind and caring toward others in their daily lives, but they know no better.  Their minds can’t be changed because they have been lied to all their lives and their only point of reference is Fox News and whatever their churches and equally uninformed neighbors and families tell them.  Many lack the education and critical thinking skills to realize they have been misled and lied to.

In Trump, working class red state voters saw an anti-establishment,  colorful character who refused to be politically correct and who shared their their anger at the “liberal corporate elite” — well heeled granola crunching opera-attending types who drive foreign SUVs and seem to care more about Mexicans, Muslims, and blacks more than they care about them, and who look down their noses at their way of life and lack of education.     They heard Trump’s promises of  “healthcare for everybody” and “the Mexicans will pay for the wall” and “we are going to eradicate terror once and for all” and saw someone who would make their lives safer and more prosperous.  Finally, someone who seemed to care more about the white working class (and appealed to their religiosity even though Trump himself doesn’t seem to care much about God) than about immigrants, abortion rights,  and urban gays.

Trump is a swindler and a conman who promised them an easier life and assured them they would not be forgotten.  He played right into their fear and paranoia, and their anger at the corporate elite, who they understandably saw as the enemy.   Without the critical thinking skills or education to know better, how were they supposed to know they were being lied to?  It’s human nature to resolve cognitive dissonance by making excuses for an abuser who blatantly lies to you and is now targeting you.    It’s easier to say, “he doesn’t really mean it” or blame the “fake news” than to say “I was wrong,” especially when you were never trained to think critically about anything or were raised in a subculture that encourages or even celebrates authoritarianism.   Call it willful ignorance if you want, but it’s still ignorance.   As Jesus said in Luke 23: 34, “forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.”

It’s not fair to place all the blame on the shoulders of ignorant Trump supporters because there were other factors at play in his winning the election.  These voters are a minority of Americans.   Trump did not win the popular vote, just the electoral college vote, but that’s the one that determines the outcome of our national elections.    We had the same problem in the 2000 election of George W. Bush, who also did not win the popular vote.    The electoral college is obsolete, even destructive, and needs to go.   Are Trump supporters to blame for an outdated and unfair system of counting votes?  No, they are not.

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Another factor — and it’s the one most in the news right now — is Russia’s infiltration into the election.   The far right media loves to target all the stories about Russian interference as fake news,  but there’s just too much evidence for anyone with a working brain to not see that Russia had a lot to do with why Trump won.   Are Trump supporters to blame for Russian interference?  No, of course they aren’t.

There’s also the propaganda pushed by right wing media outlets like Fox News.   People who don’t have much money who pay for cable usually will pick the most basic cable package.   Unfortunately, these bare bones packages often don’t include progressive or even centrist news channels.   So the only news they have access to, besides the local news (which is often conservative) is Fox News, which is included in every basic cable package.   Fox’s selling point is “fair and balanced” and Fox News watchers see (now fallen) pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity as one of them.    Both O’Reilly and Hannity (as well as Rush Limbaugh from right wing radio) have a blue collar image and seem able to relate to their concerns and lifestyles better than a Rhodes scholar like Rachel Maddow ever could.    Is it working class Trump supporters’ fault that they are never exposed to the facts or more progressive viewpoints?  Is it their fault the left makes no effort to relate to their concerns, and seems to care more about immigrants and people of color (who they see as the enemy) more than them?    Is it their fault that well to do liberals very often blame them for their lot and look down on them as much or even more than Republicans do?  No, it isn’t.

Finally, there are the churches, especially the evangelical or fundamentalist variety so common in red states, especially the South. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention, which is notorious for mixing far right politics into religion, goes as far as warning their parishioners they will displease God if they do not support Trump.   These churches use talking points such as abortion or homosexuality, knowing their followers will vote based on these issues, regardless of where the candidate stands on other issues.  Because they cannot think critically or see the bigger picture, they can’t see that the “pro-life” candidate may actually not be pro-life at all, just pro-birth.   People who can think critically can see how out of touch and easily swayed they are, but to a less-educated person who has been programmed all their lives to believe whatever their pastor tells them and is accustomed to appeals to their primitive emotions rather than their intellect, can we really blame them for supporting he candidate their pastor tells them is “opening the door to Christ’s kingdom?”  Is it their fault they have been brainwashed into believing if they vote for anyone other than Donald Trump, they will make God mad and go to hell?   Again, no, it really isn’t.

It’s time to stop blaming poor and working class Trump supporters and start placing the blame on the real problem:  our broken political system where neither of the major parties addresses the needs and concerns of the average American and thus led to the rise of someone like Trump.

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Email From My Mother

I’m reblogging Sleeping Tiger’s post because I could have written it.   I can relate to every word.  I used to think I was alone in going through these emotional gymnastics over something as innocuous as an email from my mother, but I’m glad to know I’m not.

Please leave comments under the original post.

Sleeping Tiger

I just checked my email for the first time in a little while. And found an email from my mother with the subject line reading, “???”

I debated only for a moment whether to open it or not.

I did.

She wants to know if the email address is still valid and if it’s one she can communicate with me through.

I haven’t answered. I am shaking. I am confused and don’t know how or even whether to reply.

In my heart I don’t want to sever all ties. And I certainly don’t want this to be about the subject she emailed me about. Her will. .

It needs to be changed to follow the laws and guidelines of the state she moved to.

She wrote, …although I do not plan on dying soon…” (“I need to update blah, blah, blah.”)

I admit, I was happy to read that she…

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The president isn’t the problem — he’s the symptom.

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Donald Trump is probably the most hated president in U.S. history.   He may be the most hated public figure since Osama bin Ladin, Saddam Hussein, or even Adolf Hitler.  In less than five months, he has transformed America — not into some “great” nation that never really existed, as his red ballcaps promise, but into an alien regime hovering just north of banana republic status.

I won’t list all the ways he and his administration are destroying America.   Most likely, you already know, and if you don’t know, then you haven’t been paying attention and this blog isn’t intended to inform you what’s been going on.   If you, like 35 – 40% of the people in this country,  think he’s been doing a great job and is really making America great again, then you have no business reading this post anyway.  It’s not my desire or my responsibility to change your mind.

Donald Trump isn’t the problem though.   The problem has been with us since at least the early 1980s, with the beginnings of deregulation (rolling back the laws that prevented monopolies and exploitation of workers), the breakup of the unions, and the then-revolutionary idea of trickle down economics, whose original intention was to eventually lift up all boats.   Perhaps Reagan actually thought his economic policies would work.   I don’t think he ever intended for things to go this far.  But they did, because limitless greed and predatory business practices became too addictive and no one wanted to put the brakes on.    Those benefiting the most from Reagan’s tax breaks and corporate welfare became insatiable — and at some point they sold their souls because they liked the endless flow of goodies too much.

In a nation where being the best, and having the best and most of everything were becoming the only things that mattered, empathy and caring for others became like an emotional appendix — something that was a liability in the crass, bright new world of me-first and conspicuous consumption.    So caring and civility were tossed aside in favor of selfishness and even sociopathy.      It took almost four decades to reach the point where this state of affairs was no longer sustainable, and in 2008, with the housing crisis, the structure was revealing how broken and rot-infested it had become.   For eight years, we had a no-drama, pragmatic leader who managed to keep things from getting too much worse.  So it wasn’t until 2017 that the rotted structure actually started to collapse, with the election of a pathologically narcissistic, conscienceless, authoritarian would-be dictator who is attempting to destroy anything that’s left of the country that made him what he was.

Donald Trump isn’t the cancer.  He’s just the pain we feel.   If Hillary had been elected instead, the disease would have silently continued to grow worse without our realizing it, until nothing could be done.    The far right would have nursed their simmering hatred for Hillary and demonized her even more than they demonized Obama.   Congress, the senate, and the judiciary would have continued to turn even more seats over to far right Republicans dead set on removing our civil rights, dismantling our institutions, destroying the environment, and taking away our freedom.  If you think things are bad now, they would have been much worse four years from now and someone like Trump or even worse (yes, it’s possible) would have come to power in the next presidential election.   Progressives would have had even less power to change anything than they do now.   I think had someone like Trump come to power after four years of Hillary (who would have been constantly obstructed and then blamed for not being able to do anything) , we would have quietly become a bona fide one-party country where any dissent would be silenced or even punished.   We would be beyond hope.

I don’t think things are that dire yet.   We are on orange, but not yet red.    There are still a few checks and balances in place.   Although a minority, there are still some Democrats in powerful government positions.  The legitimate news media is under attack, but it’s still vibrant and thriving, in fact more so now than it ever was.    The fake news media (Fox News) that has fed the disease is now facing a reckoning and may never recover.    Republicans are slowly realizing the seriousness of our situation.  Progressives have realized this all along — we told them so, but they didn’t listen.    Now maybe a few finally are.

The rot runs deep in America and in 2017, it can no longer be hidden or ignored.     The political situation right now is like stage 4 cancer that didn’t start to hurt until the end. Oh, maybe there was a sense that something was wrong but there was nothing obvious or painful enough to make us want to change our ways.   Cancer can be carried for a long time before you realize there’s anything wrong.  Once it starts to hurt, and you finally make that doctor’s appointment,  it may be too late.     But it also may not be too late, and the pain is an alarm telling us we must take action and we must reclaim those values we thought were hampering us.

 

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The Children of Manchester

A sad day for the world…sending thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and victims of this appalling attack.

The Tony Burgess Blog

The children of Manchester are wondering why, like all of us. A rising pop princess puts on a concert designed to bring people together and to sing for her generation suddenly is thrown into the chaos brought about by hate and terror.

All of a sudden the children of Manchester are a little less safe than they once where and the same could be said for the Children of Chattanooga. Now is a time to keep calm and to blame those who did this and not those who by ethnic and genetics are connected to them. We must seek justice for those kids and the others who died on May 22, 2017 but not at the price of the souls of England or elsewhere where terror has wreaked its ugly head. Perhaps we should look inward too as to what we can do to calm our own communities so things…

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17 ways you know you’ve become a news junkie.

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It sure seems a lot longer than four and a half months since Obama was president, doesn’t it? Like maybe a whole decade or twenty or even a hundred years ago.   With so much insanity bombarding us every day that has dire implications on our lives and those of the people we love,  it’s easy to feel like a Bobblehead toy that keeps getting sucker-punched by hard, cold reality.  These days, you might get trolled for even believing reality is real.   I think for many of us, staying glued to the news is the only way we feel like we stay connected to what’s real (even if that reassuring feeling of groundedness is just an illusion) .

Our favorite pundits and news anchors and commentators are the heroes we look up to for some idea of what unspeakable dangers might be coming down the pike.  You just never know anymore.   Things really could get THAT BAD.   Conspiracy theories don’t exist anymore because they’re our new reality.    Hyperbole is dead.     Anything that you can imagine, no matter how unimaginable, very probably will happen — and we’d better be ready for it when it does.   History itself seems like it’s become oddly pliable like wet clay and might even dissolve completely if we don’t stay constantly plugged in.   Let go of that lifeline for one minute or one day or a week, pretend like it’s the old days when you pretty much ignored current events and didn’t know (or care) what the difference was between a filibuster and a gerrymander, and you might fall into a bottomless void where reality doesn’t exist anymore and then it’s all over for you.

So, after fifty plus decades of not really giving a damn about current events or politics and being only intermittently and mildly interested during important historical moments such as Watergate, the Challenger Explosion, 9/11, the housing crisis, or even the OJ Simpson trial,  I’ve become a news junkie.    In fact, it’s reached the level of an obsession (I am an obsessive sort of person anyway).   I soon realized I wasn’t alone.  Suddenly, we’re a nation of amateur pundits and political commentators.    While we may annoy or disturb those few folks who are still blissfully oblivious and don’t follow the news,  one good thing can be said for this national obsession:  while we may have slept through high school civics class and had no inkling of how government worked before, now we can write entire dissertations about how government works — now that it no longer does.

So without further ado, here are 17 ways you can tell you’ve become hopelessly addicted to the news.

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1. Rachel Maddow (or Lawrence O’Donnell or Chris Hayes) is your latest crush.

2.  You feel like the talking heads on TV are your friends.

3.  You keep checking your phone during the day for new tweets or Facebook posts about the latest debacle being unleashed from the White House.

4.  The President gives you that same wary, uncertain, triggered feeling that your ex did, and you have to keep checking to make sure he hasn’t taken away your healthcare or started World War III yet.

5.  You check for new tweets during your bathroom break.   All the President’s most outrageous tweets (which is most of them) are like cigarette burns in your memory.

6.  You scream profanities at the TV every night.

7.  You obsessively Like and share every article you find about the most current abomination or opinions that fit yours pertaining to said abomination.

8.  If you have a blog, all your posts start to be opinion pieces about the political situation.   At first you try to make them fit the theme of your blog somehow, but after awhile you don’t even bother with that anymore.

9.  You can’t tell the difference between a Saturday Night Live sketch and whatever political debacle the sketch is parodying, because reality has become as insane as anything a comedy show can come up with.  Real headlines are indistinguishable from headlines in The Onion.

10.  You wrote a song and called it “A Comey in the Curtains is Worth Two Spicers in the Bush.”

11.  You look at strangers and in your mind, decide if they are Trump, Bernie, or Hillary supporters — and judge them for it.   Or if someone is a jerk to you, you label them as a fan of whatever politician you hate the most and judge them even more harshly than you would have because of course, only a total jerk who supports X could do such a nasty thing.

12.  You actually care about what happens to the people employed by the FBI

13.  You find James Comey sort of sexy.

14.   You let off steam by troll-tweeting Trump even though you know he’ll never see them.

15.  You spend time reading comments on Breitbart News to try to understand how the other side feels — and you just can’t.

16.  You finally decided to subscribe to the New York Times because certain people think it’s failing (even though you know it isn’t).

17.  You have hours-long conversations debating whether it’s MSNBC or CNN that’s veering into Fox News territory.

If you can stand to tear yourself away,  I highly recommend taking vacations from the news and having news-free days just doing things that make you feel good.   Your sanity depends on it.   Chances are, taking a break won’t be fatal.  World War III probably won’t start while you’re watering your petunias or reading a spy novel on the beach.  And if it does, you’ll probably never know it hit you because you’ll already be dead.  It’s not as if you could really do anything about it anyway.

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Meet and Greet: 5/20/17

Dream Big, Dream Often

dreambigwallpaper-pinkombre

It’s the Meet and Greet weekend everyone!! Strap on your party shoes and join the fun!

Ok so here are the rules:

  1. Leave a link to your page or post in the comments of this post.
  2. Reblog this post. It helps you, it helps me, it helps everyone!
  3. Edit your reblog post and add tags.
  4. Feel free to leave your link multiple times! It is okay to update your link for more exposure every day if you want. It is up to you!

  5. Share this post on social media. Many of my non-blogger friends love that I put the Meet n Greet on Facebook and Twitter because they find new blogs to follow.

See ya on Monday!!

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