US Citizens are in an Abusive Relationship with Donald Trump and Don’t Even Know It!

Another exercise in my effort to try to figure out what, exactly, is going on in the mind of the stooge in the White House, as well as the minds of those who surround him and the citizens who continue to support him. I came upon this article that seems to describe the relationship fairly well, unfortunately. If I were a more responsible writer, I would simply post the article I found and let you decide for yourselves if you see how many of the signs are appropriate to your picture of the current President.  But I’m not that responsible;  I am going to add my own indications of how I see him–the bold or italicized sections are my addition….

11 Signs You May Be Dating A Sociopath

By Macrina Cooper-White

Could that amazing new person you or a loved one is dating actually be a sociopath? It’s not as far-fetched as you might imagine. Roughly one in 25 Americans is a sociopath, according to Harvard psychologist Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door.
Of course, not all sociopaths are dangerous criminals. But they certainly can make life difficult, given that the defining characteristic of sociopathy is antisocial behavior.
Here are 11 RED FLAGS to look out for:

RED FLAG #1. Having an oversized ego. (Well, this is kind of a no-brainer…)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) notes that sociopaths have an inflated sense of self. They are narcissists to the extreme, with a huge sense of entitlement, Dr. Seth Meyers, a clinical psychologist with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health, wrote for Psychology Today. They tend to blame others for their own failures.

RED FLAG #2. Lying and exhibiting manipulative behavior. (I go back and forth between believing he is a pathological liar, has dementia, or is just not very bright. Here’s the professional’s argument for the liar thing)
Sociopaths use deceit and manipulation on a regular basis. Why? “Lying for the sake of lying. Lying just to see whether you can trick people. And sometimes telling larger lies to get larger effects,” Dr. Stout told Interview Magazine.

RED FLAG #3. Exhibiting a lack of empathy. (That has become ever clearer as his administration continues; his “gutting” of health care insurance coverage, his willingness to negate any environmental regulations and destroy sacred tribal lands are just two of the hundreds of other indicators that this man has NO empathy for others.)
“They don’t really have the meaningful emotional inner worlds that most people have and perhaps because of that they can’t really imagine or feel the emotional worlds of other people,” M. E. Thomas, a diagnosed sociopath and author of Confessions Of A Sociopath, told NPR. “It’s very foreign to them.”

RED FLAG #4. Showing a lack of remorse or shame. (Have you ever heard him admit that he was wrong? Or apologize for ANYTHING?)
The DSM-V entry on antisocial personality disorder indicates that sociopaths lack remorse, guilt or shame.

RED FLAG #5. Staying eerily calm in scary or dangerous situations. (Of course, we don’t have much access to this kind of information, so we might be able to gloss quickly over this one.  But I don’t like the image I get of how calm he would at least pretend to be just before he pushes “that” button.)
A sociopath might not be anxious following a car accident, for instance, M.E. Thomas said. And experiments have shown that while normal people show fear when they see disturbing images or are threatened with electric shocks, sociopaths tend not to.

RED FLAG #6. Behaving irresponsibly or with extreme impulsivity. (Leaked information to Russia from Israel, anyone? Making fun of a disabled reporter during a campaign rally? Suddenly firing the director of the FBI “because he is President”and therefore allowed to do it.)
Sociopaths bounce from goal to goal, and act on the spur of the moment, according to the DSM. They can be irresponsible when it comes to their finances and their obligations to other people.

RED FLAG #7. Having few friends.
Sociopaths tend not to have friends—not real ones, anyway. “Sociopaths don’t want friends, unless they need them. Or all of their friends are superficially connected with them, friends by association,” psychotherapist Ross Rosenberg, author of the Human Magnet Syndrome, told The Huffington Post.

RED FLAG #8. Being charming—but only superfically. (Another obvious one…think of all of the charm and promises he made to the country before he was elected. Now think of how many of those promises he’s kept, and the violent reaction he has to journalists who try to ask him about any of them.)
Sociopaths can be very charismatic and friendly — because they know it will help them get what they want. “They are expert con artists and always have a secret agenda,” Rosenberg said. “People are so amazed when they find that someone is a sociopath because they’re so amazingly effective at blending in. They’re masters of disguise. Their main tool to keep them from being discovered is a creation of an outer personality.”
As M.E. Thomas described in a post for Psychology Today: “You would like me if you met me. I have the kind of smile that is common among television show characters and rare in real life, perfect in its sparkly teeth dimensions and ability to express pleasant invitation.”

RED FLAG #9. Living by the “pleasure principle.” (Mara Lago, Trump Towers with gilded ceilings and over-the -top luxury in all of his many residences. And just HAVING many residences!)
“If it feels good and they are able to avoid consequences, they will do it! They live their life in the fast lane — to the extreme — seeking stimulation, excitement and pleasure from wherever they can get it,” Rosenberg wrote in Human Magnet Syndrome.

RED FLAG #10. Showing disregard for societal norms. (Grabbing women by their private parts, not releasing his tax information, allegedly colluding with Russian spies and not revealing it, and deciding that the presidency is his ticket to do anything he wants.
They break rules and laws because they don’t believe society’s rules apply to them, psychiatrist Dr. Dale Archer wrote in a blog on Psychology Today.

RED FLAG #11. Having “intense” eyes. (Hmmm…I just sort of see him using his gaze as an intimidation technique when dealing with others…refusing to acknowledge the presence of Angela Merkle, for example, or using his famous violent handshake that he uses to try to intimidate others.)
Sociopaths have no problem with maintaining uninterrupted eye contact. “Our failure to look away politely is also perceived as being aggressive or seductive,” M.E. Thomas wrote for Psychology Today.

For me, the saddest part of this goon’s relationship with his supporters is that by using typical abusive partner’s tried and true techniques to manipulate and deceive them– doing something wrong, getting called out for it, and then blaming others or circumstances, claiming he was a victim to illicit sympathy from them.  (Think–O.J. Simpson on steroids!) The sad truth is that people caught up in abusive relationships  are often more afraid of the consequences if they should leave than staying with their abuser. That, perhaps, explains his supporters have dug in their heels and vocally supporting him publicly. Just like a woman who is living with a violent and abusive partner, leaving is often not an option until the level of  misery or injury is greater than they can bear. How long will we tolerate the abuse Donald Trump inflicts upon us?

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Well, of course he’s narcissistic! (Trump psychology, part 2)

This is starting to get ugly…and we are only on the second issue! Yikes! It’s not unusual for a politician to be fairly narcissistic…they are, after all, putting themselves up as someone who knows better than we do what is best for us.  And they  have to sell that to us. What does it mean, though, when the Politician-in-Chief, who is NOT a career politician but an inheritance millionaire is so much worse than the worst politician you’ve ever seen? 

 

9 Things A Narcissist Will Never Do

Looking back, it’s my hopefulness that irritates me most. I kept thinking that he’d see the light, get what was wrecking our relationship, understand that I couldn’t live with his constant manipulation. He’d placate me with promises but I don’t believe he ever intended to behave any differently. Actually, I think he liked jerking me around.

As I can personally attest, it’s not always easy to recognize that the person you’re with is high in narcissistic traits. (I’m using the masculine nouns and pronouns because there are more men at the end of the spectrum but feel free to switch up the gender.) Not everyone is the “Look at Me!” type, full of grandiosity, constantly needing to be the center of attention, and wholly self-referential. The narcissist in your life may be soft-spoken, even a bit shy, but the tip-off to who he really is isn’t so much as what he does but what he doesn’t do.

I didn’t realize it while I was in it but he manipulated me in every discussion I tried to have about the problems in our relationship. He’d either refuse to talk about it outright—by stonewalling or saying something like ‘Not that again. Do we have to cover the same ground over and over? It’s always the same tattoo”—or he’d turn the tables on me, saying I was unhappy because I made myself unhappy. Or he’d deny there was a problem at all. It took me a while to realize that he never took responsibility for anything.  He blamed other people for doing things to him, including me. It was mind-bending.

What the person high in narcissistic traits doesn’t do constitutes a pattern of its own and, in many ways, makes him easier to identify. Once you’ve focused on what he isn’t doing, you can see that what motivates him isn’t the need to connect to you in any meaningful way—which is, of course, what you’ve been hoping for all along—but a very private and specific agenda which is making sure that his vision of himself stays protected and invulnerable.

So, if he’s not doing any of the following nine things—which people who actually want real connections do all the time—you need to wise up pronto.

      1.Own his feelings

Dr. Craig Malkin calls this playing “emotional hot potato” because it’s a common pattern –ascribing whatever he’s feeling in the moment to you which is a form of projection. This becomes a manipulative tactic as well, especially if the narcissist in your life also uses stonewalling and can be emotionally very confusing. (I am speaking from experience here.) Let’s say that you want to talk through a problem and you begin calmly, stating what the problem is. He reacts defensively and he’s clearly getting angry—you can tell by the way he’s folding his arms over his chest, how his jaw muscles are working, and how the furrow between his eyes deepens—and says he doesn’t want to talk about the issue. You start to feel angry and frustrated but you try again and he cuts you off. You ask him why he’s getting so angry and he responds by saying he’s not angry but you are. Yes, that’s the hot potato moment but the fact is that you are angry and getting angrier by the minute. Escalation is built into this and now you’re screaming at him and he looks at you and says, “I’m tired of your anger” and leaves the room.

The truth is that you’ve been played but the likelihood is that you don’t know it. The narcissist is expert at making you feel unsure.

      2. Stop playing games

And it’s not just about emotional hot potato either. People high in narcissistic traits want to be in relationships but only on their terms and they thrive on feeling that they have power and control over their partners, as studies show, and feel autonomous.

So, no, playing games isn’t coming off the menu any time soon.

      3. Care about emotional consequences

It’s widely known that people high in narcissistic traits have impaired empathy but the better way of thinking about it is that they—unlike most people—don’t care about the emotional fallout from their behaviors. Most of us care about being well-thought of and we also like thinking of ourselves as people who don’t hurt others deliberately; we’re more likely to fall into the trap of becoming inveterate pleasers to avoid upsetting others than we are to engage outright war. None of that is true of the narcissist.

If he has to burn every bridge to win and feel good about himself, he’ll grab the kerosene. This is especially important to remember if you are divorcing a narcissist.

      4. Stop one-upmanship

This is closely allied to #2 and #3 but being indefatigable is also a hallmark of the narcissist. As Dr. Joseph Burgo notes in his book The Narcissist You Know, the narcissist is highly vindictive. Burgo believes that what motivates the narcissist is his need to cover unconscious shame and whenever that shame starts rising into awareness, he feels under siege and reacts to deflect the feeling and to wreak revenge.

There is no “off” button as those who’ve been unlucky enough to be the target of the gossip and slurs a narcissist will avail himself of.

      5. Tell the truth

The irony is that the narcissist only recognizes one brand of truth (his own) and it doesn’t really matter whether his version of events is utterly contradicted by facts or even a paper trail. He’s sticking to his guns because you are the liar.

       6. Apologize

Since the narcissist never takes responsibility for his acts, words, or feelings, what’s there to apologize for? He only did what he had to do in response to other people’s actions, after all.

       7. Make peace

Not happening for a number of reasons.

First and foremost is his need to feel superior to others and to be in control; he likes the rough-and-tumble of conflict and discord because it makes him feel powerful.

Second, because he sees himself as merely reactive to slights and provocations by others, he’s not going to yield and look like a weakling.

Third, he’s happy with scorched earth if that’s what’s needed to feel like a winner. This is why divorcing a narcissist is an utter nightmare—don’t count on him to negotiate or meet you in middle—and why co-parenting is an extended one.

       8. Let you go

Not until you’re replaced. The narcissist needs you as a planet circling his sun to feel good about himself so he’s not going to go no contact until he’s geared up and found someone new. He’ll keep on engaging—sending you texts, writing you emails, leaving you voice mail—just to try to keep you in his orbit so he can feel good about himself and winning.

       9. Change

Barring an out-of-body experience or major epiphany of near Biblical proportions, not likely.

 

 

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Is Trump Pathological?

Hello my friends….this is an article I found that reassures me that “it ain’t me” that is losing the marbles…. cannot say the same for the current White House resident. This is the first in a series of examinations of the President and why he acts the way he does.  This could describe any number of people in DC, but is particularly frightening how many of the characteristics fit Mr. Trump….

6 Subtle Characteristics of The Pathological Liar

Pathological lying (PL) has been defined by the Psychiatric Times as a “long history (maybe lifelong history) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned.” There is no real consensus on what pathological lying is and many people have developed their own definition. Pathological lying is something that has negatively affected many people, even professionals, who are often unaware of the psychiatric instability or personality disorder of the liar.  For example, in one of my previous articles I focused on Judge Patrick Couwenberg, a Superior Court Judge of California, who lied repeatedly while serving the public. The former Judge maintained the lie that he was a Caltech graduate, a wounded war veteran, and a CIA operative in the 1960s. All of these statements were easily identified by his peers as unreliable and inconsistent, but Couwenberg continued to attempt to evade others. He was later removed for “willful and prejudicial misconduct” for lying about attending Caltech. This education was critical to his Judicial position.

 The sad part about this story is not so much that the former Judge lost his job in the end, but that he lacked insight into the fact that his steps could be traced and that many people would ultimately find him out. An appropriate level of consciousness was missing from Couwenberg and is missing in so many other people who are compulsive liars. The very fact that a lie could be found out does not affect the pathological liar. They have an inability to consider the consequences or even fear being found out. It’s as if the pathological liar believes they are smarter than everyone and will never be found out. The very fact that the pathological liars’ work-life, home-life, or reputation could be in jeopardy as a result of the lies, does not phase the liar. Guilt, shame, or regret does not affect the liar. Consequences also do not seem to affect the liar. So then why does the liar engage in such behaviors? 

Multiple research studies have attempted to find an answer to this question to no avail. Trying to understand the mind, behaviors, and intention of the pathological liar is not an exact science. It is very much an inexact science and entails years of study. Humans are complex and trying to understand the reasons for why they do all the things they do takes more than a graduate school degree in psychology and years of work experience. For many mental health professionals and psychiatrists, trying to understand the pathological liar (or sociopath and narcissist who engages in this behavior) will entail a combination of intuition and science. Science alone cannot answer the many questions we have about pathological liars, but experience can offer some clues. We now know that pathological lying is spontaneous and unplanned. Impulsivity is often the culprit. We also know that pathological lying is more likely to occur in certain disorders or among individuals who have certain personality traits. Some diagnoses that might include pathological lying includes but is not limited to:

  1. Personality Disorders:
    1. Antisocial Personality Disorder (better known as sociopathy)
    2. Borderline Personality Disorder
    3. Narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder
  2. Behavioral disorders:
    1. Conduct disorder (often diagnosed in children and teens who have criminal-like behaviors or who demonstrate sociopathic traits such as animal cruelty, fire setting, and oppositional behaviors toward authority)
    2. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and CD (conduct disorder)
    3. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often combined with ODD or CD

Certain personality traits where pathological lying may occur include:

  1. Narcissism or self-centered behaviors and thought patterns
  2. Selfishness
  3. Abusive attitude
  4. Obsessive, controlling, and compulsive behaviors
  5. Impulsivity
  6. Aggressiveness
  7. Jealous behavior
  8. Manipulative behaviors
  9. Deceptiveness
  10. Socially awkward, uncomfortable, or isolated
  11. Low self-esteem
  12. Tempermentalness
  13. Anger

It is important to keep in mind that there are pathological liars who quite frankly just cannot help telling so many lies. It is almost like an automatic thing for the liar. Their world is much different from our world. But there are also liars who are gratified by telling lies, are good at it, and do not regret anything they have ever said. These individuals are “skillful” liars who attempt to evade and harm everyone they come across in their lives. In fact, these liars would meet diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder (or sociopathy). They also tell truths in ways that give incorrect perspectives. In other words, they tell the truth in a misleading way to cause people to view things in an incorrect fashion. Such individuals enjoy and get much gratification from keeping you confused and believing their stories. It is the experience of watching a “victim” run through the maze of confusion that gives gratification to most liars.

Based on my clinical experience and general research of the profession, I encourage you to keep 6 things in mind as you deal with the pathological liar:

  1. Know that a pathological liar will study you: The goal of the liar may be hidden, but you can count on the fact that the they don’t want you to know the truth. In order to evade someone, you certainly need to study the person and examine what that person might or might not believe. Liars, often sociopaths, are known to “study” the person they hope to take advantage of. In other words, they look for weaknesses.
  2. Don’t forget that the liar lacks empathy: As hard as it is to believe, it is true. The liar does not have any moral consciousness of how the lying behavior may make you feel. The liar does not think before he lies: “oh, I better not say that or I could hurt that person or mislead them.” The liar does not care anything about your feelings and never will. A question many parents of my former clients have asked their child who lies is: “Why don’t you just tell me the truth? Why is that so hard!?” As difficult as it is to believe, it is not that easy for the liar to divulge the truth. The liar lacks the ability to consider what you might feel in response to their lie (which is empathy).
  3. Normal people feel guilty and are relieved when you change the topic or stop asking questions: This was an interesting point that I learned about as I studied forensic psychology as a graduate student some years ago. While working with juvenile delinquents, I found that the pathological liar shows no emotion when lying which makes them believable. A person who is lying and has normal levels of empathy and concern for others, will often show relief when the topic being discussed is changed. For example, if someone told you that they grew up in a concentration camp and experienced a lot of trauma as a result, you would ask questions about it to further understand. If you changed the topic at the point when you observed stress or anxiety in response to your questions, you would see the person relax because they are aware of the consequences of their lying. Most of us will relax when others cease from asking too many questions about a topic we are lying about. A pathological liar is not fazed. You will rarely if ever see emotion.
  4. All liars do not do the common things you think liars do: Believe it or not, liars do not always touch their nose, shift in their seats or from one foot to the next, or even look sneaky when lying. Some really experienced liars are good at giving you direct eye contact, seeming relaxed or “laid back,” and may appear very sociable. The thing to look for is eye contact that feels piercing. Some sociopaths have learned how to evade people with direct eye contact, sociable smiles, and humor. Trust your instincts and discernment. What do their eyes tell you? What does their behavior or laughter tell you?
  5. The most sneaky liars are manipulative: I once heard someone say “we all manipulate.” While this might be true to a certain degree, the liar tends to manipulate more than anyone else and has learned how to become a “pro” at doing it. There is nothing impressive about the dangerous or evil manipulator. They know everything to say and do, they know what you want and don’t want, and again, they will “study” you. In fact, many pathological liars (and sociopaths) use sexual or emotional arousal to distract you from the truth. Proceed with caution when dealing with someone who seems to be directing their attention to you in such a way as to stimulate your arousal to distract you. That arousal could be psychological (peaking your interest), emotional (causing you to feel connected to them), or sexual.
  6. Pathological liars exhibit strange behaviors: Can you remember how you felt, perhaps as a child or teen, after you were caught lying to a teacher, a parent, or friend? Did you feel guilty, sad, or afraid that the other person would no longer accept you? Some research suggests that pathological liars show no discomfort when caught lying, while other studies suggest that liars may become aggressive and angry when caught. The bottom line is that no pathological liar is the same.
 As you can see, trying to understand the liar is as difficult as trying to understand how the world began. It’s something that requires a lot of study, patience, intuition or discernment, and wisdom. Research continues in trying to understand the mind and behavior of the pathological liar. Psychiatrists and mental health professionals continue to research the liar in order to understand why they do what they do and how we can protect their victims.

I wish you well

About Támara Hill, MS, LPC

Támara Hill, MS, LPC, is a licensed therapist and certified trauma professional, in private practice, who specializes in working with children and adolescents who suffer from mood disorders, trauma, and disruptive behavioral disorders. Hill strives to help clients to realize and actualize their strengths in their home environments and in their relationships within the community. She credits her career passion to a “divine calling” and is internationally recognized for corresponding literary works as well as appearances on radio and other media platforms. She is an author, family consultant, and founder of Anchored in Knowledge.com. Visit her at Anchored-In-Knowledge or Twitter.

 

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Who’s REALLY in charge here?

I have grown quite weary of playing whack-a-mole with Donald Trump’s game of “Controversy of the Day”, haven’t you?  In an effort to understand just what the h*ll is going on from day to day, I realized that what I need to do is to look beyond the information we receive from Trump’s tweets, his lackey crew, or the timid television news media and try to figure out the “why’s” for some of-or all of-the bizarre actions & appointments of this administration so early in the term.  After weeks of trying to avoid the headline of the day and look for the “big picture” of what these folks are up to, I figured I’d start by taking a look at the inner circle filling and surrounding the Oval Office and why they’ve been appointed to their positions.

First, of course, the nepotism in the Trump cabinet is very clearly on display. Somehow they have managed to circumvent the law that says government officials may not hire family members to work in the same place by claiming that at least one of those family members, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, will forgo receiving a salary in order to occupy the office next to the Oval one. Even though she is, then, not an official member of the President’s cabinet, she has been called upon to receive and interpret sensitive, classified information, act as an official host to dignitaries of other countries, and develop policy regarding women and the issues we face in 2017.    Then, of course,  the “Russian Connection” is quite curious; the players in both  countries are caricatures of characters from every James Bond or Tom Cruise/Matt Damon movie ever made.   I get a massive headache trying to follow media coverage of  all those individuals and then attempting to connect the dots. It’s obviously suspicious that there is such a shady connection between our president’s cabinet appointees and the “unofficial officials” in the Russian government they are said to have been talking to. Isn’t this is the same party that anointed Saint Ronald Reagan for his perfect example of “conservative Republican” politics, and who, as President, deemed the Soviet Union “The Evil Empire” and the enemy of Democracy? Yes, this is presumably the “party of Reagan”. So what happened to change the US-Soviet relationship from “enemies” into a “bromance”? Something about it stinks. So what do we have to do in order to open the curtain on the multiple layers of dark money and secret meetings and the reasons for them? We ask questions, and we keep asking until we get the real answers.

Of course, the first clue the hero acts on in any sort of Hollywood blockbuster is to “follow the money”, right? Never has the axiom “Money is the root of all evil” been so perfectly revealed! Given Trump’s obvious lust for money and power, and his grandiose displays of both, it seems only logical to start there.

What we think we know about Donald Trump is only the information he has spoon fed us.  He says he’s worth billions, but that is not a provable statement in the absence of his filed tax returns.  And if he is worth billions of dollars, how is it that he has acquired so much wealth? He is said to have real estate holdings in countries around the world, but even a cursory examination of the real estate transactions we know about don’t add up to such a hefty payout.  Again, no independent acknowledgement of those transactions, who he dealt with, or what kind of financial resources are provided.

Let’s face it, the first 100 days of this Trump presidency have been an embarrassing disaster for the citizens of the US.  And most of it, probably, has to do with the hubris that Trump himself causes. But he does not operate in a vacuum, and his favorability rating is lower than any president in our history. The citizens of our country are disgusted, but that does not seem to have any meaning for Donald Trump. But what does seem to be important to him is that powerful people see him as powerful. His reputation is one he has created in other countries; here in the US, that reputation is a bit more tarnished. Simply by virtue of his flamboyant presence in the headlines or in the entertainment industry, we have some inkling that maybe this man isn’t quite as brilliant as he claims; and he has enemies. Even among the members of his own Party, there are opposing forces operating to try to manipulate him for his ignorance of the law, protocol, and statesmanship.  But what force in this country has enough presence to think that they could sway his actions or speech? His allegiance, despite his many promises to the contrary, is to his fellow millionaires and billionaires; but many of them are not convinced that he is capable of leading the most powerful nation on earth, and are making his presidency into the exact opposite of the presidency he thought he would have. But what could create such frustration for him in such a short time? Is there someone or something in this country that could make him bow or relinquish some of the power he thought he would be entitled to? Who could dare to go toe-to-toe with his supportive Russian billionaire oligarchs? Who would have the money, the stamina, the influence to be able to take on wealthy Russians who are not satisfied by the felonious fortunes they have acquired or the lucrative but hidden roles they play in their own governments? The answer was simple, really.  All I had to do was go back to the largest source of  Republican money, influence, and policy in the US: the Koch brothers. 

Who are the Koch Brothers?  Charles and David Koch are prolific conservative donors who helm the nation’s second-largest privately held corporation, Koch Industries. It is an energy and industrial conglomerate with $115 billion in annual revenues that has “fingers” in many aspects of our country’s foundational operations, including lobbying legislators on political issues and donating large sums of money into the campaigns of politicians willing to sell their votes (and souls) to further the brothers’ goals.

For citizens who may not know much about the Koch brothers, or those who want to deny the Koch influence, their presence is as influential as any of the Russian oligarchs that seem to have aligned themselves with Donald Trump.  That alliance with the Russians, however legal or illegal, is fairly obviously a real one, and has contributed to a real rift between the Russian-backed Trump group in the White House and the Koch-backed Mike Pence and Congress.  While there are some Republicans who have allied themselves with Trump, more of them recognized where the real money is and voted the way the Kochs “suggested”, most recently and most obviously on the “repeal and replace Obamacare” bill.

As Theodore Schleifer of CNN reported on Thursday, March 23, 2017:

“A powerful network of conservative donors said Wednesday it would create a new fund for Republican 2018 reelection races — but they’ll only open it up to  GOPers who vote against the bill. The advocacy groups helmed by Charles and David Koch have unveiled a new pool of money for advertisements, field programs and mailings that would exclude those who vote for the health care bill they oppose on Thursday. The effort, which they described as worth millions of dollars, is an explicit warning to on-the-fence Republicans from one of the most influential players in electoral politics not to cross them.
The Koch-aligned networks oppose the bill because they think it does not do enough to scale back former President Barack Obama’s health care policies….The Kochs typically support Republican congressional candidates in competitive races, though they have withheld their volunteers and advertising in the past when they felt snubbed by a particular candidate, such as Kelly Ayotte, the New Hampshire senator who lost her reelection battle in 2016 and did not receive Koch funding for much of the race.”   (Emphasis mine)

Striking how obvious the passive aggressive maneuver to control our legislators is! If we want to know about the relationship between the Koch brothers and the latest appointment trying to pass in the House, Schleifer adds:

[The Koch Brothers] have spent some of their sums to boost Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and have applauded his attempts to scale back federal regulations.
The group of high-powered donors plans to spend between $300 million and $400 million on political projects over the 2018 cycle. (Emphasis added)

So how does that work?  In years before the Citizen United ruling in 2010, large donations to political candidates running for office was illegal.  Of course, wealthy (men) have always provided funds backing political candidates in exchange for favorable rulings that would influence the providers and further line their pockets.  But then, the repercussions for trying to buy that kind of influence was usually a jail sentence or ruined career.  There was, (officially anyway,) no tolerance for graft and bribery in our political processes. Then came the Citizens United ruling that granted “personhood” to corporations, and then decreed that corporate contributions were, in fact, a form of “free speech”

My very strong belief that the repeal of the Citizens United ruling is the first and IMO, the most important action that must be taken to prevent the “Wall Street” politicians and other power/money hungry characters from destroying no less than our very Democracy.  And as wealthy as Donald Trump claims to be, he is no match for the influence the Koch money can buy.  When Trump gets mad at someone, his childish response has been to reprimand the offender with at least one nasty “tweet” containing foolish threats of non-support from the administration. The consequences for any politician who goes against the Koch brothers or any of their numerous PACs, such as Americans for Prosperity (AFP) can be harsh and swift.  The current strong arm of the US Congress, The Freedom Partners, is a committee of all Koch-backed politicians.

In the March 21 edition of USA Today, the AFP spokesperson is quoted as saying:

“We have spent tens and tens of millions to fully repeal Obamacare, and we’ll commit whatever resources” are needed, said Levi Russell, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity. “We plan on seeing it through.”
“This is nothing new for Americans for Prosperity,” the group’s policy director, Akash Chougule, told NPR’s Audie Cornish on Thursday. “[T]his is what Americans for Prosperity exists to do.”

So what is it that they do, and who are the beneficiaries? The scope of their influence is hard to gauge, because the Citizens United allows for large donors to give anonymously. But there are a few known undertakings:

  • David H. Koch was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential candidate in 1980. He advocated for the abolition of Social Security, the FBI, the CIA, and public schools.
  • In 2010 they supported California Proposition 23, which would have suspended the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. The Kochs have also funded efforts to stop the growth of solar power.
  • In 2011, Koch Industries’ political action committee had donated more than $2.6 million to primarily Republican candidates.
  • In the 2012 election season, the Kochs  pledged to defeat President Barack Obama. (According to the Center for Responsive Politics, of $274 million in anonymous contributions, at least $86 million is “attributed to donor groups in the Koch network”.)
  • Support and financial assistance has gone to:
    • Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas;
    • Governors Bobby Jindal and Haley Barbour;
    • commentators John Stossel, Charles Krauthammer, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh;
    • Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn; and
    • Representatives Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, and Tom Price.
    • Through Americans for Prosperity, the Koch brothers influenced more than 400 members of Congress to sign a pledge to vote against climate change legislation that does not include equivalent tax cuts.
    • In 2010, Koch Industries supported efforts to roll back emission regulations in California.

And just in case you missed it, the failure to pass the Trumpcare health care policy was NOT the devastating victory for the Left that you might have thought. Actually, it was a significant victory for the Koch brothers, who felt that the new plan DID NOT GO FAR ENOUGH IN GUTTING THE ACA/OBAMACARE.  The fight to control health care access  is not over–they will be back.

As we are entertained by Trump’s ridiculous tweets, his oversized ego, thin skin, governmental ignorance, we have to remember that Donald Trump is not the one actually running things.  He is merely the public face of Vladimir Putin’s goal to embarrass the US, and the representation of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan’s smug connivances to get the rulings and personnel they want in the White House without having to get their own hands dirty.  That Donald Trump is so caught up in his own narcissism he cannot–or will not–see that while he feels like he is “the best/most/greatest” savior of US pride and glory, the strings that pull him so easily from one thing to another are being manipulated by forces better/more/greater than even Donald Trump.

Resist

 

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The fight for Bernie Sanders–a year out. 

Facebook just posted one of those “Anniversary” posts of mine from a year ago today, and WOW! What a difference a year makes! I’m sharing that 20/20 hindsight look here:: 

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DID YOU GET INVITED TO THE PARTY? 

Not exactly an “argument” (yet), butHere’s a little discussion I’m having over The Donald:

SOME TRUMPSTER: It’s so unfair that america found out that Hillary and the Democrats had been selling ambassadorships and political appointments and government contracts for their own wealth. If those internal emails hadn’t been leaked then Hillary could have had the presidency she stole from Bernie Sanders. It’s so unfair, we need a Do over!!!!!!!!!!
ME:Yep, I agree we Dems are a slow-moving, confused bunch and it infuriates me more than I can say. The DNC was complicit in this too, because of their own unethical behavior. The problem now, as I see it, is the millions of uncounted or disposed of ballots that gave millions of citizens no voice and no vote. 
But honestly, the whole thing comes down to the billions of dollars that flood the parties and candidates. And The Donald, while pretending to be a real populist who will “make America great” again by appointing fellow millionaires and billionaires so blatantly to positions of power depending on how much money they can make him or have donated. Linda McMann alone donated $7 million and was promptly offered a cabinet position…that he appointed Vladimir Putin’s best friend as our Secretary of State is just appalling–and potentially treasonous. The Citizens United Decision has unleashed a torrent of greed in nearly every politician’s brain, and makes our government open to the same kinds of things that so dismay us about other countries. THAT is why this election has been so important–it keeps the big money rolling in for big pharma, big oil, big chemical companies….who then turn around and buy themselves some politicians who will “see things their way.” The scariest part of this past election is that all this shit WAS known, Matt Simmons, and because both parties benefit, everyone just played along. And some invited their friends in Russia to join in the fun!

MATT SIMMONS: It was them or the Saudis, but one way or the other a foreign frenemy was going to get its wish, yep. Citizens United has GTG. But only way that will ever happen is an amendment. Hopefully Bernie keeps running with that torch.

MARK HARDY; Unethical behavior? That’s putting it mildly to say the least. Tillerson has been in the same room as Putin about 6 times since 1999….. The idea that makes them BFFs is, there’s no other way to put it, but bat shit crazy.
Honestly, not all that many people (who weren’t voting trump anyway) paid much attention to the wikileaks that is the outrage de jour. What sank hillary was her BFF’s husband sexting a 15 year old girl. That’s when HRC lost any chance of buying the presidency with her reccord $1.3B campaign.

MICHAEL KATICH: This is just B.S.! NO ONE HACKED THE ELECTION! People voted and the votes were counted…. no one hacked THAT! IF anything was hacked, it was informatioon PRIOR to the election to the supposed benefit of Trump. IT IS UP TO THE AMERICAN CITIZENS TO DECIDE WHAT TO DO WITH THAT INFORMATION. Don’t you all see how this narrative is being played by the media?!?! People are just being led about by a freakin’ nose ring that is the Democratic National Party and the media. So let’s just rip up the constitution while you’re at it.
ME: I’m not going to get involved in an argument about who “outhuskered”(?) who—there’s been plenty of that since this nation was founded, and one group gets to hang on for a little while, then the other…ad nauseam. But what it comes down to, and always has, is MONEY. Who has it, who wants it, and who is going to do more than the other guy to get it. And it’s been like that since the beginning…the difference now is that instead of calling it “political graft” to slip some politician wads of money under the table in an assumption that it will buy you influence, or an ambassadorship, or a cabinet seat, it’s called “Citizens United”, parts 1 & 2, and its right there on the front page. Michael Katich, I don’t know who or what your source is that you can say with such certainty that no one hacked the election, and all the votes have been counted when the people who are supposed to figure all that out, and who have the tools to do that don’t know themselves what happened to the 10+ million ballots missing from Michigan, California, & possibly Ohio. But maybe you have better sources than I do. 

It is funny, though that “people are just being led about by a freakin’ nose ring that is the DNC and the media” when we know that a) there are five major news organizations in this country that decide up& down what information we get, and that, by & large, those corporate news controllers are wealthy Republican billionaires who would very much like to stay billionaires, and that b) the US citizens have just been led around the ring by one of the biggest con artists to ever participate in this circus. Donald Trump may not be a dangerous man all by himself–he’s had the benefit of surrounding himself with a very closed circle–his children, for example–who may be nice looking, and well mannered, but who are as politically savvy as a box of rocks. And in today’s world, you have to not just know how to win the game, you’ve got to keep playing it for the next four years without stepping on the wrong toes or pushing over the wrong stack of blocks and causing WWIII. Are these spoiled, wealthy children or his other “people” capable enough or smart enough to do that? We willl see, I suppose, if we survive long enough to have another election in 4 years–but it isn’t them damned Dems who are “ripping up the constitution”, sir. That’s the guy chomping at the bit to take the reins and make sure that all of his million -and billionaire- pals get to stay that way, all while failing to disclose his taxes paid (0), or reading a book (0) or putting his company into a blind trust (0) or paying attention to the nepotism laws about family members being given seats at a great big table posing for selfies and “tweeting” them as they unravel 50 years of intricately negotiated treaties, chumming around with guys whose mission in life 30 years ago was to “take down America without firing a single shot”. 
Come on, now, you can’t possibly believe that he’s going to invite people like you or me or even the esteemed Matthew Simmons (esq?) to his next party? I don’t think so–he won’t want to shake his manicured little hands with the people covered in coal dust or might be flammable from the fracking-infested water they showered in this morning, or the seriously disabled people who drool when they attempt to speak to him about the social security or Medicaid checks that get smaller and smaller if they get to those folks at all. No sir, from the penthouses at the quiet, golden rooftops of any Trump Tower, what they see from those gilded windows are simply bugs that need to be squashed or at least “managed” enough to do what he wants them to do. And he will squash us and manage us and threaten us and put our money into his very full pockets, all while telling us how “great” he is, and how much better off we are now that we can’t drink or even swim in non-flammable, non-cancerous water or how proud we should all be that those “unsightly” wind turbines are replaced with deep-rock drills and oil extractors and backhoes rumbling through your backyard and mine in order to build yet another pipeline of some sort to send filth from Canada into Mexico and beyond in order to have it route through Texas and his pal Harold Simmons’ Waste Control Specialists LLC, wherein he would take in all the toxic, poisonous gunk in the US and dump it into a 20 square MILE dump in (west?) Texas that his pal, then-Texas governor Rick Perry bent over forwards and backwards to get the permits for….even though—and this is amazing–the Texas panel invited to make that piece of stinking hell discovered–according to their own findings!–was waaay to close to-wait for it–the Oglala aquifer, a clean water resource forEIGHT STATES! Hahaha! Success in the Dakotas doesn’t mean shit in Texas! (On second thought, maybe that’s exactly what it means!)
And soon after that, Perry & his minions gave him not only the right to take in NUCLEAR waste as well, but were also busy passing legislation making it nearly impossible for people who might get sick or die from a leak anywhere on Simmons’ super pipeline! They call that “Tort reform” and if you get sick from some toxic sludge leaking into your backyard or your drinking well….well, it sucks to be you. 
Remember Julia Roberts in “Erin Brockovich”? Watch it again. Because even though she was brave and successful in the cases she worked on, NOTHING HAS CHANGED. 
If you think HRC is the devil incarnate, I suggest you widen your scope—including the view of those drinking champagne and toasting their billion-dollar schemes in the penthouses of the (how many?) Trump Towers. You’ll find a few devils in that crowd , for sure!

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Colin Kaepernick? Wait…who? 

Yes! Yes! Yes! I love it when that lone voice crying in the wilderness finally gets heard! This young man (Colin Kaepernick) is smart, thoughtful, and, judging by many of the ugly replies given here and in the press, obviously he’s brave, too. I’m not usually impressed with most football players’ knowledge of history, or even current events for that matter, but it’s obvious that this is something that he has thought about, and that affects him deeply; and I believe he understands that by using his public status to call attention to this issue especially, he needs to risk a very public action. To those of you who slam him for being “rich”, and therefore ineligible to speak about oppression or any other social issue, bulls#+t. This isn’t about HIM. It’s about the racist bile that passes for political dialogue these days; it’s about the sustained fear white people have for black men and their corresponding response to them; it’s about being able to see injustice and want to correct it. For those of you who doubt that he has ever faced oppression or prejudice, I wish you could all be riding in a nice car in a lily-white suburb at, say, 2 or 3 in the morning. If he’s not stopped for simply Driving While Black, god help him if he gets a flat tire or has an accident. But that really isn’t the issue, is it? Because, again, ITS NOT ABOUT HIM. Do you really not believe that someone can give a shit about stopping an injustice even if they are not a victim of it? Do YOU not see or care or do anything beyond your own little pink noses? Sad for this old, white, lady activist to think that the work we’ve done in this country for the last 40 years to try to create a better America boils down, now, to creating a better America “for only me.” 

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