The GOP is a Crime Family

How did we get here, with foreign government interests intimately involved with at least one 2016 national candidate that we know about, now seemingly influencing or even controlling policy and that so-called public servant n the Executive Office? Since 2016, it’s been one link to Trump and associates, followed by one indictment and one plea deal after another, and all, so far, connected to Republicans who, in their usual, unison message, are defending it all. This political crisis in which we find ourselves is overwhelming, even to those of us who marinate in it. It’s stunning, the amount of treason right out in the open! And former FBI agent (and expert on Russia) Andrew McCabe, who Trump fired, said Trump openly touts his trust and faith in Russian President Vladimir Putin over our Intelligence Community. The Vietnam draft dodger just went on his second “Me and Kim” ego tour in Vietnam and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov joined him. It’s like a James Bond movie only just with villains!

But I am going to set aside the fact that we have a traitor pledging allegiance to a foreign government over our own for now. I want to peel away why we have one of our two primary political parties protecting this guy. How is it we have one party, albeit imperfect, that consists of public servants and another that behaves like crime family, defending and shielding corruption in its extreme? Because that is, unequivocally, what we have. And that didn’t just happen in 2016. The Republican Party is wholly owned by the top .1%. Their only function is to enrich that heavy cream on the top of the country’s milk can and to keep themselves in power. No wonder Russia (and possibly others) went for the weak spots in our democracy, like how easily Republicans can be bought. FYI. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell took $2.4 million from Russia in 2016, which was an off year of his re-election. Thank you, Citizens United.

Let’s be honest, greed is as old as the Old Testament. It’s not going away and neither is wine, women and song or sex, drugs and rock and roll, Netflix and chill, or other things that feel really good. And the Republican brand of crooks are hooked on their feel good greed. It goes back much farther than Nixon but Nixon’s impeachment hearings and subsequent resignation turned their cabal of crimes to eleven. And a big part of it was fueled by what is now known as the Powell Memo or how corporations became people in our modern times. Republicans have never been shy about aligning with the rich but that memo triggered the forming of right-wing think tanks, media control and pretty much every Republican move since. Their message is framed by folks like Chuck and Dave Koch, ALEC, the Heritage Foundation, Fox so-called News and the like. Republicans are not representing any Americans except the very wealthiest, while punking single-issue folk like gun and fetus nuts. 

You have to hand it to them, Republicans stay on message, like any other crime organization or cult. They vote in lockstep most of the time. After all, there’s money to be had everywhere for everyone who plays along. And it’s all coming together in an infuriating, existential democratic crisis with Trump. We have fraudulently “elected” a clown who is dismantling our brand of democracy, openly taking cues from Vladimir Putin and, more than likely, other adversaries to our nation, so long as they stroke his ego and enrich him personally, and the GOP and Trump’s poorly educated cult are fine with it. As Michael Cohen said in his public testimony this week before Congress, Trump saw running for POTUS nothing more than the greatest infomercial of all time. (Remember the look on Trump’s face when Obama invited him to the White House for the first time and he had that “oh sh*t” look on his face? Ya poodle, presidenting is super hard and the real ish.) But on January 20, 2017, this was no longer a joke.

Make no mistake, powers like Putin know our weak spots, which is why they likely convinced their debtor but lifetime Democrat Trump to run as a Republican, why they targeted at least three states with Republican governors (Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania) who were and are doing their own election fraud practices and would easily look the other way if foreign entities messed with counts in their favor. (I don’t have any proof of that but a year ago we didn’t have proof Russia was micro-targeting folks in those states through social media, either.)

Republicans set themselves and us up. Ever since Nixon tarnished their brand, they’ve attempted to dilute the seriousness of impeachment by trying to impeach every Democratic president or lead candidate since. Through normalizing investigations and impeachment by making it routine, it shields and dilutes the seriousness of what their criminals have done when Dems hold impeachment hearings, which hasn’t happened yet but will any day now, now that Dems are finally back in power in the House. (Voting has consequences, people.) Or sure, maybe Reagan (or those around him because he was sundowning big time after being shot) traded arms for hostages in the Iran Contra scandal and George H. W. Bush pardoned everyone involved, and sure, President Cheney and George W. Bush made war profiting cool again, but Benghazi!!! Yes, four people died at a consulate but how often do we hear it was the GOP Congress who wouldn’t fund making the consulate a more secure embassy? And Kevin McCarthy (R) of California openly admitted to Sean Hannity on Fox News the real reason they held hearings was to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. This is what they do, intentionally. It’s petty and childish and crooked.

If you’ve bought the story that Bill and Hillary Clinton are some deep state, one world government, baby eating Satan worshiping monsters, then you are one of the Republicans’ cult members. A great documentary to catch how far back this insanity goes and why is The Hunting of the President or the 1996 piece in The New Yorker called Hating Hillary. The other day a Republican relative of mine said, “They’re trying to impeach him.” No, that’s what Republicans do to every Dem for no reason. Special Counsel Bob Mueller and SDNY are not “trying.” These crooks are making it pretty easy to convict Trump associates faster than Lucy can wrap chocolates at a chocolate factory. But that relie was only speaking the way Fox News has framed the 24/7 propaganda for the low information citizens or Republican voters who aren’t in the .1% of the wealthiest, or those “poorly educated” Trump loves. Besides begging the media to never normalize (#NeverNormalize) Trump, my other routine mantra is that propaganda is democracy’s greatest threat. Fox News is Republican media and now, because Trump is so stupid, they drive him! 

Republicans play the long game because their game is to shift power, dismantle social safety for the 99.9% of us and turn the country into a going-out-of-democracy sale to the uberist of the uber rich. The proof is in the open in their legislation and now with a cartoon villain grifter. And every GOP member has gotten in line and, I suspect, long before November 8, 2016. (Let’s see why Mitch McConnell so confidently denied a hearing for Merrick Garland or threatened President Obama about holding a bipartisan hearing into Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign the fall before the “election.” That’s the same McConnell whose wife is a Trump Cabinet member.)

Trump isn’t doing anything the Republicans haven’t done at least since Nixon and that is blame Democrats for the very thing they are guilty of doing. Dems hold impeachment hearings on Nixon for breaking into Democrats’ headquarters and covering it up? Then impeach for sloppy consensual canoodling a president wants to keep from his wife. Bloody hell, Jeffrey Epstein and Donald Trump surrounded themselves with underage girls privately and in the open for decades but Hillary Clinton is behind some dark, international child sex trade. Like some skeevy pimp, Trump paraded the same women exploited by right-wing Charlatans and Ken Starr who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct before a presidential debate. How galling is it that Ken Starr is Epstein’s attorney and Bret Kavanaugh was one of his Clinton investigation elves? To bastardize Woodward and Bernstein’s line, “Follow the really, really creepy dudes.”

It’s utterly terrifying when you count how many things Republicans have done and were found guilty to have done that they accuse the Democrats of doing with no merit at all. It’s almost quaint now to look back to the thrice married, serve wife divorce papers after her cancer surgery Newt Gingrich and convicted pedophile Denny Hastert days of Bill Clinton tarnishing. And it’s another example of accuse the Dems of that which you are guilty times a billion.

The Steele Dossier was the primer in this Trump era or horrors. It is why my sleep and concentration have been in the panic, pause, panic mode for about 27 months! We are in extreme peril. Even Michael Cohen ended his public testimony this week with the chilling remark that should Trump lose in 2020 (I echo your prayer he’s long gone to the hoosegow by then), he won’t give up power civilly. Bloody hell! And you know it!

I don’t think most members of the GOP knew all they were getting with Trump. I know I, the Democrats and certainly the flat-footed media certainly did not. I mean, I knew something was fishy when he won, I knew he was wholly unfit (morally, intellectually, psychologically) but I thought the win had more to do with red state cheating like Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004, but even I had no clue the depth of foreign meddling. I pleaded with the Electoral College to do what it was intended, prevent the unruly rabble from electing a dingbat. And January 13, 2017, a week before the “Inauguration,” I knew there was more to it when I saw Congressional members exit a closed-door meeting and Maxine Waters, John Lewis and others claimed the election was fraudulent and they would not be attending the “Inauguration,” and where now Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would pray for Trump. I knew there was something rotten in D.C. on that so-call Inauguration day when almost no one showed! But, honestly, who could have predicted all this?

For those of you who have turned off the Mueller and SDNY investigations and all the stories connecting others parties, here are some threads for you off the top of my head: The NRA, Deutsche Bank and Trump family loans, Deutsche Bank and retired Justice Kennedy’s son, Ken Starr’s minion Bret Kavanaugh, Kavanaugh’s debt that disappeared just before his nomination to SCOTUS, Facebook, Twitter, Cambridge Analytica, I work in my basement and ran Trump’s social media from my basement Brad Parscale,  WikiLeaks, Nixon’s boys Manafort and Stone, Falwell’s Evangelical mouthpiece Liberty University paying for fake polls and paying off a pool boy and even the National Enquirer. And these aren’t conspiracy theories like pizza porn. These are criminal investigations, charges and findings! If you want another good wormhole of possible things to come, check out Greg Olear (@gregolear) on Twitter. He gives a great thread to many of these connections that also include Russia and 9-11, Rudy Giuliani and the anthrax threats and the infamous National Enquirer safe. And if you want to feel sane but never sleep again, follow Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior), who knows all thing Russia. Stay tuned. No, I beg you, stay tuned. Being overwhelmed and tuning out is what they want!

And what keeps me up at night and distracted from more important matters of my daily life is the GOP is going along with all this. Trump’s a dangerous, unhinged figurehead. (What in history would ever give us the idea that an unstable leader with a cult following could have dangerous global consequences, after all?) So long as they get to stay in office, even if a hostile adversary (the enemy of my enemy is my friend) and their wealthy owners get what they want, democracy be damned. And now that most of the media is controlled by the same GOP owners, this cancer of greed and power can grow even in the bright sunlight.

The late Fredd Wayne as Ben Franklin on Bewitched, 1966.

At times, when thoughts of what may come overwhelm me, I will fantasize an episode of Bewitched where the Founding Fathers are conjured back and Ben Franklin or Thomas Jefferson open a can of whoopass on Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump. Then Endora turns them into newts or two Hillary pantsuits!

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Remember Me? The Return of My Blogging Self

This site has been blogless since the so-called election on November 8, 2016. Any submission seemed redundant to the ocean of writing covering the destruction of the country’s reputation and every single government department. Then there’s the nauseating aspect of Republican complicity, coupled with their indignation toward the Mueller and SDNY investigations, particularly in contrast with the mounting criminal indictments and more sides to this conspiracy than a myriagon (that’s a polygon with 10,000 sides). So I have been paying attention. It’s all just so terribly depressing. But I feel strength and renewed hope since the Democrats took back the House January 3rd. So I’m back, that one of you who wondered.

I got my start writing in journalism so, in as much as I want to avoid writing about a facet of the Russian coup that’s been done to death, I also like to be concise. So for that one of you out there, I submit this separate and brief explanation for my absence, in keeping with my journalism roots, rather than putting this personal prologue to the first post with legitimate content. I want to avoid resembling this guy I once had in a speech class who could not deliver one speech without first explaining in excruciating detail – like he was in his shrink’s office – his thought process for choosing his topic, what inspired him, what didn’t, his breakfast, his sock choice, route to class, and always punctuating these narcissistic prologues with failed stifles to laugh at something only he found amusing. (He’s so vain, he probably thinks this description’s about him.) One of his classmates always looked like there was a thought bubble containing a groan and eye roll overhead. OK, that was me. 

A lot has happened over the past two years, for me personally and professionally and in this world. Two years ago, who would have thought the Steele dossier would be mere Cliff Notes to the depth and breadth of the Drumpf (the original German) criminal corruption? Two years ago, who would have imagined the Mueller investigation would be ongoing, growing in indictments by the week almost and, so far, reaping tens of millions of dollars from the Manafort seizures alone? Two years ago, I would have sounded like a conspiracy nut if I said then what I believed and still do, like Hillary won, Drumpf is working against the nation’s interests or that he’s a global danger, due to his malignant narcissism and growing cognitive diminishment. Had I blogged about it then, I might have seemed prescient today. But I’ve been in a constant state of shock and outrage, like many of you. So I’ll try to offer something different and some historical framing with my blogs that may entertain, provoke or terrify. Or so I hope. I might even write about other stuff. So thanks for sticking around, that one of you!

Reality Check, Reality Grip in the Age of You Know Who

It’s logical for journalists, foreign leaders, our military and even us regular citizens to intellectually analyze Trump’s actions, particularly when someone so erratic has so much impact on the world. However, that is the very thing one must resist in order to understand or interact with him. To never normalize Trump must be your premise. I am not suggesting this from a mere partisan position. This is sound advice to understand and operate.

Trump is a two-dimensional, reality show figure. His image as president only exists for him if he’s in front of a camera or he’s watching people talk about him on TV. He is an empty suit that was made in China and sports a Trump label. He did not come to the political scene with any experience or depth in global or domestic matters. He is not reading in-depth reports about foreign or domestic issues or meeting with cabinet members to strategies and analyze intelligence and world affairs. He’s just a lazy, old guy who eats in front of the TV for hours a day, scanning channels for stuff about himself, who also happens to have the power to destroy the planet.

Coupled with his cartoon character depth is his malignant narcissism, and as such, he lacks any loyalty to or compassion for others unless it directly enriches himself. You can’t take the same approach you would with any previous president. To do so is not just incongruous, it isn’t useful and will only scramble your brain.

So he’s shallow, self-absorbed and wholly unfit mentally. Any attempt to normalize his words or deeds is a danger. It is like a board of professors and academics pouring over the process of a preschooler navigating a playroom of toys to determine whether the child left the tricycle for the building blocks because he is prioritizing infrastructure now.

Therefore, the role of journalists is more sobering than it has ever been in our history, and not just because they treated him like a serious politician during his campaign, but because now by simply asking the president a regular, ordinary question they would structure for Obama or even W, they may be steering his mind to take an unintended action. (If his family were reading this, they would be nodding their heads.) Reporters, he hasn’t formed a position about the subject of the question you are asking. And last week was a prime example of what I believe caused Trump to send tomahawk missiles to Syria. During the joint press conference with Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and on the heels of stating only days before he supported Bashar Hafez alAssad’s remaining Syria’s president (a position he likely took through Putin’s direction), PBS NewsHour’s John Yang asked him if al-Assad’s gas attack on his own people drew for him a red line similar to the line Obama said would be crossed in this incident. Trump responded without hesitation, with his usual, limited vocabulary with it “crossed a lot of lines for me.” Now no one asked a follow-up like, “Could you define a couple of those lines?” which might have either provided context or made it clear he just said it because it seemed like a good ad lib for his improv act.

I saw his face when he said it and thought, “Look out, he just got an idea that will make his junk look bigger than Obama’s.” I can’t be the only one who saw it like that, but I haven’t seen it mentioned. Trump made the decision to bomb Syria because Yang mentioned Obama and Trump had to look tougher. Forget the consequences of what he said about al-Assad being safe to stay or the fallout yet to come, this toddler maniac has the power to blow up stuff. Cool, huh? So he ordered the attack and then a juicy steak, rare. Or vice versa. 

Now the media is doing in-depth analysis of what was clearly a stunt and a failed military action. “Why the pivot on al-Assad?” “Did Ivanka’s plea for the children soften his heart?” “What does this mean concerning the allegations he colluded with Russia during his campaign and beyond?” What? No. None of this. He’s a shallow, two-dimensional, mentally unfit buffoon with a distorted ego. Hillary Clinton was right (about everything but) when she said, “There is no other Trump!” He is Being There’s Chance, the gardener.

What he does must not be mistaken as policy or strategy or even a tactic. This being doesn’t know what he is doing. He’s still in private business, sending Uday and Qusay Trump, along with many of his rich, Cabinet member friends, to make deals to enrich themselves, all expenses paid by you and me. He’s a lazy, rich guy who sits around all day, eating and watching Fox so-called news surfing for talk about himself. Then he plays golf. He lacks intellectual curiosity at best, and, at worst, is functionally illiterate; hence the SNL stories that he couldn’t grasp the scripts in their show reads, or reports that he requires no more than a page, heavy with bullets and pictures, in his daily briefings and the video of him in a deposition struggling to read and comprehend a contract he’d signed.

And now he’s sabre rattling with North Korea, a leader we can all agree is erratic and a bubble off the level. Trump is literally threatening a nuclear attack on North Korea. Attention everyone: Do not put ideas in his head! He likes the attention and the ratings’ grab. You can’t approach him like he’s clear headed or fully sane! If he sees his approvals go up as he surfs for his daily “me” news, who knows what he will do for an encore, because he only wants to be famous and have good approval ratings!

Our Constitution defines the role of the free press as the 4th Estate. It’s part of the First Amendment! No wonder this Administration’s ilk wants to attack it. There is a no more imperative than for every real news outlet to stop normalizing his actions, stop having thoughtful round tables on the Sunday shows that apply the president’s personality as a backdrop to anything other than padded walls with a foreground of professionals in white garb amply stocked with horse sedatives. He’s not intellectually fit for the job but what’s worse is he is not mentally well. That’s your premise. Don’t forget. Please. I don’t want these words to be the epitaph for life on the planet.

Voter Restrictions, Election Fraud, MSM, Russian Tampering: Hard to Prioritize

The first thing I thought the evening of November 8, 2016 was the 2010 gerrymandering, voter suppression hijinks and election tampering in Republican states worked as intended. They cheat. Ever since Nixon, Republicans will go so far as committing treason to win. I was aware of Trump’s cozy relationship with Vladimir Putin, and the ongoing, bizarre number of connections his family and campaign workers have had with Russia. I knew that had an impact but believed it was the GOP’s calculated maneuvers in those red states that stole the election, coupled with the ever-helpful mainstream media, giving Trump a billion in free media. And in spite of all that, Hillary Clinton won by about 3 million votes, with a mere 77,000 votes in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – states where hundreds of thousands of votes were not even counted – tossing the Electoral College to Trump.

I stand by all those statements because I think there is enough of a history with those Republican governors to indicate election fraud, particularly since the 2013 Shelby V Holder Supreme Court decision that gutted voting rights and triggered southern states to adopt new Jim Crow obstacles literally the next day.. And there is no arguing national media treated Trump like a sitting president during the campaign, if not a bleeding rock star. But since December, it’s Russia. This is no longer a minor issue and to dismiss it could destroy our democracy and life as we know it.

This is hair-on-fire serious. More serious than Watergate. If Watergate was a president’s cover-up of a couple hacks breaking into an opponent’s campaign office, Russiagate is a bloodless coup by a criminal organization. Oh yea, because it is!

It’s tricky because the Intelligence community can’t inform the Administration, some members of Congress or the Cabinet because they’re among those being investigated. Plus Putin has many convenient ways of eliminating his enemies. Then add the ridiculous number of coincidental connections with Russia and Trump, his family, close advisors and campaign members. Tom Clancy would laugh if you pitched him this story. But I’ll bet Oliver Stone is storyboarding it already.

There are billions in financial ties between Trump and his ilk and Russia, one Republican policy accommodation after another that benefits Russia and a president who defends Putin at the expense of his own country’s character and standing! As Malcolm Nance, former U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer working in counter-terrorism and intelligence, says, it takes a whole lot of work for this many coincidences. (By the way, Nance wrote a book “The Plot to Hack America: How Putin’s Cyberspies and WikiLeaks Tried to Steal the 2016 Election.” last July and it came out in October.)I’ve lost count the number of mysterious accidents and deaths of informants associated with Intelligence gather.ing around Russia. The list of Trump’s posse having to resign, be fired or flipping because of it is also getting tough to keep up. Then Trump had A.G. Sessions, who also committed perjury and has to recuse himself from this whole matter, fire 46 U.S, attorneys including, conveniently, Preet Bharara who was conducting his own investigation into Trump and Russia. (Not so ironically, his informant fell from a fourth-floor window a couple weeks ago. So many unfortunate accidents.)

Nance really helps bring together the pile of bits in this crisis with how the Intelligence community works. For instance, he said Trump’s tweets about Obama wiretapping him is what they call in the Intelligence world getting “buggy,” meaning signs a guilty person acting paranoid, trying to find out who’s leaking. I would suspect he’d also see Trump’s daughter-wife Ivanka getting daily briefings and an office adjacent to his in the White House as another sign of forming a fortress, drawing nearer his most intimate (pun intended) confidants because he’s getting buggy. Plus she knows how to speak toddler maniac.

The GOP may be saying publicly that this is a nothing burger but I am confident that’s not what’s in their thought bubbles, fevered dreams or their conversations on burner phones. Rep. Devin Nunes(R) could not look more guilty of collusion when he jogged over to inform Speaker Paul Ryan and Trump on the Intelligence in this matter, learned by very House Intelligence Committee he chairs!

Putin is as mob boss. He plays by those rules. Trump is mob-adjacent, has been for decades in New York. Trump robs people, cheats them out of contracted deals, operates scams on every level. Maybe that’s just “business.” I think is criminal and immoral but now i’m just being redundant. In the 1990s when he’d burned every bridge with U.S. lenders, Russia made a deal. Big, dirty loans come with big favors. Crooks like little Donnie are used to squirming out of corruption with a flock of good attorneys and a checkbook. Well, the government doesn’t work that way. Might be a good lesson for the GOP voters who think a government should be run like a business. They are entirely different institutions.

We have never been here before, where a foreign country affected our presidential election. For those in our Federal government, elected or employees, who still believe in ethics and serving their public – a.k.a their bosses – their time is now to be on the right side of history.

Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, is set to meet with the House Intelligence Committee. Apparently he is already under investigation by the IRS for his big money from Russia, among other things, like the fact that he “left” the campaign for being too close to Russia, then went back to his home in Trump Tower! But pay attention if and when we hear the NSA is conducting their own financial investigation into someone. Yes, they have their own department to sniff into people’s financial affairs. Nance says once that happens, it is over. That the last nail in the coffin for those under investigation. It’s indictment time.

When will we get the facts? Will this take down the Trump administration, including Trump? How will our government correct itself? Will there be a new election? Will, as one anonymous Intelligence officer said several weeks ago, Trump die in jail? No really, I ask because I don’t know. There are a lot of players in the FBI, Congress and the Cabinet I don’t trust and for good reason. But this can not stand. I hold out hope that no one is truly loyal to Trump because malignant narcissists don’t have human bonds. If Stave Bannon bolts, I am counting the days before the ship sinks without a lot of the rats.

I have to believe in our agencies doing what is right for country. And make no mistake, Congress knows a whole lot more than any of us do. This isn’t going away soon but after last week, things may be coming to a head a lot sooner than any of us thought, where no one, not even the Republicans in Congress, want to touch Trump with a ten-foot solid-gold pole. It sure seems to be heading that way. We are in peril. Time is of the essence.

To DIY or Not to DIY

My name is Debra, which is Hebrew for the bee. I am a worker bee.

Confucius said, “If you want a job done right, do it yourself.” Experience has taught me this is true. I’m kind of a Jacqueline of all trades so I usually am the one to “do the job.” I’ve seen more instances where people spend more time looking for someone to do a job or waiting for someone else to do a job, rather than just doing it themselves. Trust me, we have a virtual neighborhood forum and I read copious threads from people needing someone to hem pants, fix a faucet leak or pull weeds in the time it took me to do all three backwards and in heels. I’ve built about 95% of two house additions myself, do my own house repairs, landscaping, upholstery, minor auto care, cooking and cleaning. Am I foolish? Perhaps I am the one whose approach is flawed or so I have been told.

I had lunch with a group a while back and when I said I was tearing out old flooring and prepping the floors for new surfaces, one of them said, “That’s what I pay people to do,” and changed the subject. I had another husband of a friend of mine say my DIY approach is obsolete and of no value because we all specialize now in society. Of course, his husband called me when they had a mechanical breakdown on their furnace! But in both cases, no one had any interest in my work. I don’t want to think people I know socially look down on my work or those who work with their hands, but I kind of felt that way.

The do-it-yourself aspect of my character spills over in the workplace, too, for better or worse. This won’t make me sound like much of a team player but time and again, I am either let down by a colleague who drops the ball or my work is stolen for which another takes the credit. Trusting others are doing their jobs is often a disappointment and surprise. But employers love me because I will get the job done.

I was raise in a household where there was no discussion about who to get to do a job. It never occurred to me people did that. Truly. Dad had an I.Q. of 169 and really could do anything, effortlessly. Mom, too. I’ve never known a better painter, tiler, decorator or landscaper, for example. I learned from them and found the fewer hands involved, the better. Now, having someone working and bossing me around in my own house makes me uneasy. And there are some tender egos in the trades who can make your life miserable if you try to be boss.

I know not everyone is like my family or me. And I understand why those who have the money but lack the time, interest or abilities in touching anything mechanical. But does my approach really have little to no value? I have saved tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, and added immense equity to my property. I can’t even imagine what I’ve saved on my own appliance and mechanical repairs. I also think of my house as my canvass for my creative palette, with its recreated spaces. If not everyone appreciates my abilities or my house or believes I am foolish or out of step, I can feel accomplished everywhere I look. At least I have that.

I don’t understand anyone thinking people working with their hands is beneath them. I have a Masters degree and am a professional and I don’t think being mechanically capable is a weakness. In fact, I think it is quite the contrary. I wouldn’t like to think the one who dismissed my accomplishments may resent my abilities because I don’t want to appear arrogant or judgmental.

Well, back to my tiling project now that this blog post and the yard work is done. Silly me.

 

 

Memory: It’s a Blessing and a Curse

Part of my profile description on social media includes, “Sick memory for movie, TV lines and what you said.” This is not an exaggeration. I even remember what employers said from the last century, first date dialogues, song lyrics and useless stuff I hear from passersby. Movie and TV lines are my constant, mental accompaniment.

Recently, I was plagued with my inability to identify the source of a TV line that kept popping into my head. I knew it was from a well-written sitcom because those are the lines that linger. I knew the character was slightly frightened and slightly defensive when he or she said it but I just couldn’t put my finger on the character or the show. The line was, “Sure, Mac, sure, sure.” Now if you’re not like me and you don’t suffer from tens of thousands of lines and phrases freely floating through your mind, at the ready with any association with the present moment – or not – you might not understand. If I’d had anyone around me when this, “Sure, Mac, sure, sure,” wafted to the top of my inner circle of thought and I’d ask, “What’s that from?” And most would reply, “I don’t know,” and move on. Noooooo! I can’t. I mean, I don’t stop everything and obsess about it, other than a quick internet (- as of June 1, AP Style book announced the word “internet” is now lowercase -) search to see if it will appear, but my brain will keep retrieving it for days, if necessary, until the puzzle is solved. And yes, I am single.

A lot of times, those memorable lines are from “I Love Lucy,” if it’s a sitcom. That show has been on every day of everyone’s lifetime and is so much a part of our culture that, “Lucy, you’ve got some ‘splaining’ to do,” is part of our vernacular. But I tried plugging in that line to Lucy and nothing surfaced. Any show with tight, clean, smart dialogue was a contender so it could have been from “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “M.A.S.H.” :Frasier,” or “Seinfeld.” “It’s nice to be nice to the nice,” I just heard Steven Tyler say on “Ellen” the other day. It’s from Frank Burns on “M.A.S.H.” Out of the blue, Charlie Pierce contributor to “Esquire Magazine” said in an interview, “Happy and peppy and bursting with love,” which is from the original sitcom “The Odd Couple.” Neither had to attribute the lines for me nor did they. But I knew. For people like us, its like a secret language. And now I have two more fellow dialogue-memory, freak friends. It’s not surprising we all work with words in one form or another.

But I do the same thing they do. I interject lines from these shows, as well as movies, on a daily basis. I don’t need anyone to get the reference. But what a delight when someone does. So off the top of my cluttered head, here are some of my favorites. If you know the show, jot me a line below:

[In response to a sneeze] “You’re so good looking.” No? Sadly, that never caught on. How about, “These pretzels are making me thirsty.” Or “Ahh, Bach!” “Citizen’s arrest, citizen’s arrest.” “We are psychiatristsnot pugilists!” (That’s a gimme.) “But you are, Blanche, you are in a chair!” “Oh, no, it’s completely baked.” “Fasten your safety belts; it’s going to be a bumpy night.” “Keep going, teacher lady.” “I’m not going to be ignored!” “Tick tock, Arnie.” “You mean it’s in the house!?” “Grey Flannel… I don’t know why!” [Sobbing] “She came all the way from O-HI-O!” I will offer extra credit for the other lines I’ve peppered into this post and in the title.

But back to the ear worm that prompted this writing, the line that bugged me for days. Eureka! I was just getting into bed the other night experiencing that mental transition between tasks and shutting down the mind for sleep, perchance to dream, when it suddenly came to me! It was Barney Fife! You, know, Don Knotts’ character from the 1960s’ “Andy Griffith Show.” That’s a show more seamless in plot, character and dialogue than most to have followed the fifty years since it aired. Barney said the line in “Barney and the Governor,” where the governor plans to congratulate Deputy Fife in person for the nerve to issue the governor’s car a parking ticket. But poor Barney becomes an inadvertent drunk, victim of town drunk Otis who disposed his remaining moonshine in the jail’s water crock.

https://www.vibby.com/v/m11t0GuAW

Exactly like it was looping inside my head. Relief at last.

 

 

 

Gaslighting

Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which a victim is manipulated into doubting his or her own memory, perception and sanity. It’s even a term used in psychology. It’s origins are from the 1938 play and subsequent films, “Gaslight.” There are two versions of the film, one from 1940 and the second from 1944. I am a fan of the 1944 version with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.  Many may find it hard to pinpoint being “gaslighted” because of its very nature of leaving you to question your own reality. (If you’ve ever dealt with a loved one who is an addict, you have been gaslighted.) That is why the film (or play) is such a valuable tool.

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie and don’t want to know anything beforehand, please stop at the end of this paragraph. I don’t think what I share really spoils the film. In fact, knowing ahead of time what is going on will help you see how insidious and evil this tortuous game really is. But I will leave that decision up to you.

In “Gaslight,” Paula’s (Bergman) husband, Gregory, (Boyer) is a con and needs to eliminate Paula in order to fulfill his evil plan. Through a combination of independent observations and intentional deception, Paula begins to question her own sanity. Her paranoia and insecurities become a weakness Gregory exploits by validating her confusion, entirely brought on my him! He moves pictures and accuses her of doing so, hides a broach of hers in order to imply she is becoming forgetful and when she sees the (Victorian era) gas lights dim whenever Gregory is out of the house, she has no one to validate what she sees, making her doubt herself even more.

I started this post well over a week ago because I was recently gaslighted, but gave my airing this incident second thoughts. But as noted before, I believe in recognizing serendipity, the seemingly unrelated coincidences, and gaslighting keeps showing up in social media lately. So it must be germane – not just to me – but others out there..

In everyday life, gaslighting comes in the form of someone making such emphatic yet contradictory statements to your beliefs and experience, that it makes you question not just your own thoughts and reality but your own sanity. It comes from a person in authority to you or someone you consider close. Gaslighting always contains a undertone of sympathy, as if telling you this complete garbage is meant to help you in your lesser state. But don’t be fooled; the gaslighter is never, ever sympathetic. Those words of “help” are meant to hurt you deeply. “I’m not being patronizing, I’m being condescending!” The person gaslighting you doesn’t have to be psychotic, an addict or socially depraved in some way. In fact the more ordinary and seemingly normal she appears, the more unexpected, insidious, diabolical and damaging she can be.  But it is always intended to minimize and hurt.

It happened to me out of the blue a few days ago. Now, I’ve been gaslighted before by the aforementioned addicts I’ve known and loved so I only needed it to happen once to know to burn that bridge for good. But when it was happening, I was deeply hurt. Then I was stunned, which quickly turned to mental confusion. I walked away almost numb. Why would a supposed friend be doing this?

I don’t know. And I do not care one tiny bit. There are countless people out there willing to be victims but I am not one of them. I hope none of you reading this succumb to such cruelty. Just remember, you are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

 

Reflections 2016 #atozchallenge

Year two under my belt feels good. Congratulations to the geniuses who first thought up this April Blog a Day concept. And thank you to all who visited and who are now following.

The Internet allows us to connect with the world. The April A to Z Blog Challenge helps refine that to dedicated writers and creatives. I hope I can be a part of this community next year and years from now.

If you wonder about trying it yourself, I can recommend going for it. I advise that you write ahead of time so your posts don’t get backed up and you become frustrated, or give up. Personally, I will never start the challenge without completing it because that’s my nature. Having survived two of these now, I believe it gets a bit easier each time. I suppose it’s a lot about writing muscle memory.

See you our there!

Say, “Yes” #AtoZChallenge

Y: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Definitively So and the Letter Y for Say, “Yes”

The late, great Beatle John Lennon told the story of meeting Yoko Ono at her art exhibit. He climbed a ladder and at the top was a magnifying glass to use to read the tiny message on the ceiling that simply read, “Yes.” That positive message made him want to know her better.

It’s good to say, “Yes.” Yes means you are willing to take the chance on that new job, with a new mate, an unknown adventure, to affirm a friend or yourself. Of course, saying no is a great answer, too, especially when something is dangerous. And I would hope you would listen to your instincts when something tempting is really a bad idea. But taking a risk, being open, being willing has a wider, open road for the future.

We should always be open to yes. Yes implies something new, growth, tomorrow.

There’s a great scene at the end of “Bus Stop” with Marilyn Monroe and Don Murray (underrated, great actor). It is a great example of saying yes to the unknown. I just have this sick memory for movie and TV lines that run through my head in a nearly constant loop. If only I had my own YouTube site so I could share the scene I am hearing. This might be my favorite Monroe film. It’s the final scene of the movie, after Beau has been driving poor Cherry crazy, sexually harassing and stalking her by today’s standards. But she finds her heart in his and says in her whispery, throaty and a bit ditzy southern drawl, “Why I’d go anywhere with you Beau, anywhere at all!” She said yes. Here is a quick, silent clip of her enigmatic self between scenes from the film, anyway.

Recording Devices #atozchallenge

R: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Devices That Record and the Letter R for Recording Devices 

There’s a common saying that just before death, our lives flash before our eyes. I can’t confirm from experience but I have a very good memory so, chances are, if you said something to me, I remember. I have so many lines and words streaming through my brain, if anyone were to plug in to listen, it would sound like white noise. I like it that way. For some of you who enjoy metaphysical ponderances, who’s to say we aren’t all living the flashback of life that has already happened, anyway? Maybe what we think is reality is just each of our lives flashing before our eyes. If we’re in that experience or not, how would we know?

But I digress fR June Cleaverar too far to make a simple point about being able to hear and see what was said and done with recording devices, and its great value. Thank goodness we have them or no one would believe how life used to be. Yes, old TV shows were depicting the fact that families lived comfortably with one person earning money and one staying home.

Cheesy, but it was true. We had a thriving middle class and people didn’t have to work their butts off to have it.

Joseph McCarthy R McCarthyreally did try to stir up hate for Democrats or those on the political left by branding them Communists, which fueled the Cold War.  We have that excellent, exasperated remark on recording devices from Joseph Welch, US Army’s chief counsel who finally spoke up to this jerk:

Thank goodness we have that entire debacle on tape. Same goes for prohibition. Whew, glad I didn’t live through that time – but I know about it.

And the Founding Fathers wrote down their philosophies and ideas for our government, although I wish they hadn’t been so clunky with the Second Amendment. But to expound on that would mean another digression.

The country didn’t used to have freeways from coast to coast or even phone service, plumbing and electricity in rural areas. It took work and laws and government jobs. Thank goodness we have written and filmed proof because I swear many people alive today seem truly oblivious to how we got the society we have. We worked together. Our government was our partner. We paid for it with muscle and capital.

All of this is important. I wrote over a year ago a blog I titled “Born Contempt,” (https://debrastrege.com/2015/01/24/born-contempt/ ) because I was hearing too many millennials saying too often about far too many important issues, “I wasn’t born yet,” as if to dismiss the importance of knowing something or a dismissal to its relevance. And now we have a kind of rhetoric in the presidential race discourse that Germany heard in the 1930s. You bet history is important to remind us to keep vigilant.

R Doomed quote