Year: 2019

Reflections on healing from abuse in the past decade

So I picked up Sunday’s newspaper and saw what looked like Richard sitting at a training session in Madison for the 2020 Trump campaign.  It was blurry, so it was hard to be sure, and I couldn’t find the picture on the newspaper’s website to make certain.  But it sure looked like him–same size, same hair, same head shape, glasses–and had me thinking–

Well, I could say what I thought, but let’s just say I’m disgusted at the idea of him helping that potential antichrist get re-elected.

The end of the decade has me thinking a lot about the beginning of the decade, and how it’s gone so lightning-fast that 2010 might as well have been yesterday.  The events are still so clear in my head–Heck, the events of 2000 still feel like yesterday as well.  Two decades have just flown by so fast that I feel like I stepped into a time machine that suddenly aged me 20 years without me even feeling it.

That’s the thing that scares me about aging: that I’m going to blink my eyes and be 66.  Then I’ll blink again and be dead.  If I’m going to be 50 in several years, couldn’t it at least FEEL like it’s been 50 years, rather than maybe 25?  A century doesn’t sound so long anymore.

Things that happened in college are finally starting to feel like a Long Time Ago, at least.

But what a decade!  It feels like the late 90s and 00s were me starting to process and resolve what happened to me in college, along with a huge amount of religious questioning and revamping.

The 10s have been me processing and resolving the narcissistic abuse that Richard and his wife committed on me, along with the narc, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse I witnessed them commit on others including their own children.

In the midst of this, thanks to Facebook, I’ve discovered that my abusive ex’s behavior can all be blamed on his own diagnosed mental illnesses and narcissism–and NOT ME.

Then midway through the decade, we survivors of narcissistic abuse have been subjected to someone just like our abusers, becoming president–and this time we can’t escape the person or go No Contact.  So I suppose it wouldn’t be surprising if my abusers are now supporting this person who is really just like them.

Though it is surprising in a way, considering how Richard used to go on about freedom and human rights of immigrants etc.  Now he appears to be supporting a fascist who has a Nazi (Stephen Miller) advising him on immigration?

But this is yet another thing that helps resolve the abuse that happened at the end of the 00s.  In 2010, nearly 10 years ago now, I was in agony over whether we had done the right thing in breaking off relations with Richard and Tracy.  I was stuck in an endless loop of trying to remember what happened and figure out what was right, along with terrible grief because I thought Richard was my best and dearest friend.  Writing and blogging about it was the only way I could finally stop that loop; researching old e-mails and other things helped me clarify what exactly had happened and why I felt the way I did.

The first half of the decade, I longed for Richard to apologize and make things right so that we could be friends again.

Almost ten years later, I don’t feel that way anymore.

One reason for that is what was revealed about his and Tracy’s character during this decade.  There was Richard’s conviction for choking one of his kids.  There was the two of them stalking me online, complete with a threatening message sent through Facebook.  (They were both blocked, so they set up a fake account for the purpose.)  Then they stalked me in person as well for a while.  That stopped, and I’ve received no more messages, but to this day they stalk my blog.  They were just on it a few weeks ago.  That’s EIGHT YEARS of stalking my blog, as of next May.

EIGHT YEARS.

I even know where Tracy works these days because she reads my blog at her workplace.  Aren’t you supposed to be working and not stalking people at work?

There’s also learning how many ways my supposed “best friend’s” actions were anything but: the selfishness and lack of empathy, the mansplaining, the one-upmanship, the criticism and mocking, the mind games, the belief that he knew better than I did about *everything*.  And don’t forget the gaslighting whenever I called out some abuse he or Tracy had been doing.  And defending one of his friends after this person sexually harassed me, telling me I needed to “get over it.”

The only excuse I can come up with for putting up with Richard for so long, is that he had me under such a spell that I couldn’t recognize how badly he was treating me.  (He even told me he hypnotized me without my knowledge.)  I knew Tracy was abusing me, because she had no such spell over me.  But I kept missing how Richard himself was also abusing me.

Now, ten years later, it’s all so clear and easy to recognize that I’ve long since stopped wishing he would come to us to make things right.  Now, ten years later, I have a group of good friends online and off, who don’t make me cry all the time, or tell me I have to change myself to make them happy.  I’ve met so many good people that I no longer fear that the next person I befriend will be a secret narcissist.

Oh yeah, another thing just happened: A couple of weeks ago, I found a message Richard sent to me on a gaming forum.  It was in my old purse, which I was clearing out; back in 2008, I printed it out and put it there so I could tell the parish council his ideas on how to revitalize my church.  I never took it out, so forgot it was even there.  Now I read it, and found this in the second half:

And your friends [sic] husband just helped Satan seize complete control of this country.  The next time I pay taxes I will have killed a baby because your friends [sic] husband helped bring about that “change.”

Seriously, I do not want to hear about anyone who voted for Obama, supported Obama or whatever.  Obama is a murderer who supports murder, and anyone who voted for Obama is not an accomplice but a murderer as well.  Those who voted for someone who supports killing newborns, which is all a baby in a womb is newly introduced to life [sic], a “newborn” are murderers [sic], directly and indirectly.  I do not mean to sound mean but this issue is the most important.  God curses those who sacrifice their babies to idols, which selfishness is the worst idol of them all, and the lands of those who murder their own are usually decimated within a generation or two from those who did so, historically.  Well, that’s about another four to eight years from Roe vs. Wade, is it not?

(Check….Well, it’s been eleven years, and we’re not decimated yet.)

When I read this a couple of weeks ago, I decided to hold onto this unhinged rant as a reminder because it’s so nutty.  So my friends [sic] husband was a murderer because he voted for a Democrat–one under which the abortion rate dropped, I might add?

Republican policies drive abortion UP and into back alley butchery; Democrats try to solve the problems that lead to abortion, making the numbers go DOWN.  Republicans have been lying to us about abortion for many years.

As I ponder this, I think, “I thought he was more sane than that.”  But then I begin to remember the many insane far-right conspiracy theories I used to hear from him, how he turned away from Evangelicalism and yet still sounded like the extremist Evangelicals fighting in the religious right culture wars.  I remember how both he and Tracy used to go on and on about things that made me want to roll my eyes, all coming down to those wacky far-right “alternative facts” that I had already discovered were all lies.

This kind of thinking is one of the biggest reasons why I ran screaming from Evangelicalism all those years ago.  It’s one of the reasons why I turned away from the Republican Party and hated the TEA Party.

Meanwhile, Richard himself, after writing the above, nearly killed one of his own children a couple of years later.  He’d be in jail now but for a hand-slapping plea bargain.

Meanwhile, the same person who wrote the above, is he really supporting the worst person who has ever been called a US president–a criminal, a rapist, a serial liar, a wannabe dictator who is doing his best to dismantle everything that keeps this country a democracy?  A man who has been enabling our country’s enemies to destroy us, too, who looked the other way at Khashoggi’s murder?  A man who doesn’t care about children (and adults) being tortured and dying in concentration camps on the border?  A man who uses every narcissistic trick in the book to surround himself with butt-kissing sycophants and gaslight everyone in the country?  A man who my 90-year-old acquaintance recently said reminded her of Hitler?

Even “Anonymous,” the Trump administration official who wrote “A Warning” and who obviously is right-wing just the same, wrote that we in the Resistance are correct about why Trump does and says what he does.  There is no altruism in Trump; cruelty really is the point.

So was it Richard in the picture, possibly Tracy beside him, campaigning for Trump?  I keep looking at it and I’m almost certain it is.  It looks just like Richard, and certainly fits with what I know of their politics.  Anyone who actively supports the current Republican party (including during the days of Scott Walker) and Trump, anyone who actively campaigns for them, I don’t see how I can possibly have anything in common with such people.

Because these days, supporting the Republican Party means supporting evil and the demolition of our great democracy.  It means supporting racism, torture, mistreatment of immigrants, oppression of various minority groups, yanking food and health care and help away from the poor.  It means ignoring cries that someone has been sexually assaulted.  It means permitting persecution as long as your favored group commits it.  It means forcing women to carry babies to term even when they are at high risk of dying, or the father is her father, or they’ll be so poor they can’t even keep a roof over their heads, while doing absolutely nothing to help those women so they don’t see the need for abortions.  It also means that if the 15-year-old girl does carry the baby to term, she’ll now be seen as a bad sort of girl who (gasp) has had sex.

It makes me not want to hear about anyone who voted for Trump, or supported Trump or whatever.

Many of us are saying that we can now see and understand how Hitler took control of the hearts and conscience of the Germans, because we see it happening all over again in our friends, neighbors, and family.

So while it seems like July 1, 2010 was just yesterday, my grief on that day is long gone.  I’m out of the spell; I have no illusions anymore about Richard’s character.  And I’m glad of the decision we made then to break off relations with him and Tracy.

 

Lawmakers: Change WI loophole that lets children be placed with abusers (like Richard)

A story alert from the local paper just came on my brand-new (used) Samsung Galaxy S7 (my first actual, good smartphone, not some cheapo thing that doesn’t work):

‘Ethan’s Law’: Story on boy’s tragic final day moves lawmakers to close fatal loophole in Wisconsin law, improve child protections

Ethan Hauschultz was placed with an uncle who was a known child abuser, with convictions–but because he pled to lesser charges, social workers were forbidden to even consider the convictions as a bar to placing children with him.  This uncle, who could not use physical violence to punish, used other methods on the children under his care, which proved to be fatal.  Though it was actually another child who carried out the punishment, it was at the uncle’s direction while he was away from home.  Story here.

Now, two lawmakers want to keep this from happening again.

Today’s article would explain why Richard’s step-child, Tracy’s child, was placed back with Richard and Tracy even after Richard nearly choked her to death. He was charged with Child Abuse, but it was dismissed and the charges reduced to Battery after he pled no contest.  (Story here.)  I always wondered why the [email protected]$k I saw all four of their kids, including the step-child, with Richard and Tracy after the charges and the conviction.  A man who can choke a 9-year-old child is not fit to have any children around him–and this was not the only thing he had ever done to her.  Richard and a mutual friend both told me of things that had happened before; the mutual friend said Richard had beaten the crap out of her when she was real little.  Yet there she was, still with Richard, rather than placed with her father as I would’ve expected.

This loophole in state law would explain why this happened.  But after the Hauschultz case hit the papers, lawmakers now want to change that loophole:

Hauschultz, who in 2009 had admitted to beating a child with a wooden carpentry tool, had been found guilty of felony child abuse. But through a plea bargain, the conviction went on his record as disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor that doesn’t involve violence.

That created a loophole that eventually proved fatal to Ethan.

Had Timothy Hauschultz been convicted of child abuse in the 2009 case, Wisconsin law would have barred human services workers from placing children in his care. But because there was no child abuse conviction on his record, caseworkers were barred from even considering the incident — though pages of detail were available in a public file in a courthouse a short walk from the human services office.

Jacque’s bill would bar human services workers from placing a child in the custody of any adult who’d admitted in court to abusing a child, pleaded “no contest” to a child-abuse charge or been convicted of a lesser offense via a plea bargain in a child abuse case.

 

I just saw Wings of Desire…

Turns out “City of Angels” (Nicholas Cage, Meg Ryan) was based on a German film from 1987.  And like usual with an Americanization, it focused on plot and romance and changed the ending….The original film is “Der Himmel über Berlin.”  It means Heaven over Berlin, but for some reason was translated as “Wings of Desire.”  And there’s much more in it than a love story (or an angel discovering sex).

There’s Peter Falk (a former angel himself) wandering the streets talking to the angels, while working on a film about Nazis, and Berliners say, “Isn’t that Columbo?”

There’s Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performing in the underground clubs as punks and Goths bop their heads.

There’s an old man remembering Berlin before the Allied bombers came through, and the aftermath.  We get images from old newsreels of dead children and Berliners digging through the rubble.  We see the Wall with its graffiti art, and the stark cleanness of the other side, with a couple of soldiers instead of life.

Berlin is full of diversity: Muslims, people of color, along with the native Germans.

Most of the movie is in black and white, until our angel starts getting a taste of human sensation.

The movie is just as much about the thoughts and lives of all these other people, and the angels listening to them, while children can see them–as it is about an angel falling in love with a human.  I even caught a few references to Genesis and the Book of Enoch when the woman speaks to the angel at the very end.

The woman is a French trapeze performer in a failing circus, rather than a surgeon.  Their names are different.

He’s not even a handsome angel, looks middle-aged and has lines in his face, yet this beautiful young woman (the actors are 20 years apart) falls in love with him.  Apparently she sees beyond the surface and connects to his spirit.

Usually Americans like their happy endings, but this time it was switched: The German one has a happy ending, while the American one is sad.

Roger Ebert compared the two movies here.  He wrote, “To compare the two films is really beside the point, since “Wings of Desire” exists on its own level as a visionary and original film, and “City of Angels” exists squarely in the pop mainstream.”

This also reminds me of recently watching “The Return of Martin Guerre” vs. “Sommersby,” yet another example of Americanizations changing everything and suffering missteps where the original was a masterpiece, losing the depth of the original.  This is why I prefer foreign originals and not American remakes.

Trump, Putin, and the Antichrist

I was raised in premillennial dispensationalism during Rapture Fever. I’ve tried to set that all aside and be more amillennial, after much study and becoming Orthodox–but those alarm bells keep going off these days.  Many people have been wondering if Trump is actually the Antichrist, if maybe it’s time to take those End of the World predictions seriously after all.

It even trended on Twitter a while back, not seriously but jokingly–though some people pointed out alarming prophecies that sounded like him.  Shortly after, I tweeted that Trump can’t be the Antichrist if he gets impeached.  But then he said we were pulling out of Syria, and I tweeted that I take that back because here he goes and sparks Armageddon: His actions allowed captured ISIS members to escape, and Turkey and Putin to get what they wanted in Syria–along with one of our military bases.

However, Putin seems a more likely contender for the Antichrist, with the Russian Orthodox Church as his Prophet.

Trump may be too much of a puppet of other nations to be the Antichrist, too easily manipulated by Putin, Erdogan, the leaders of Saudi Arabia, etc.  Putin’s definitely smarter than Trump, and he’s got the Russian Orthodox Church in his pocket (the Prophet).  The last two patriarchs are rumored to have been KGB agents.  The church blesses nuclear weapons, and separated from the rest of us when the Ecumenical Patriarch allowed the Ukrainians to form their own church separate from Russia.  Putin’s tentacles have been reaching all over–all documented as truth, and not conspiracy theories, by intelligence agencies of various countries.

He’s even got members of the GOP doing what he wants, along with Trump.  We see signs of this in both the Mueller Report and the Ukrainian debacle, along with reports in the news of politicians being benefited by Russians, Saudis, and others.

(Such as, McConnell is accused of allowing the end of sanctions against companies owned by an oligarch named in the Mueller Report–so that one of those companies could build in Kentucky.  Also, a group of aides and former officials are accused of working around Congress in a potentially illegal deal to get nuclear power to Saudi Arabia–and fill the pockets of many.)

GOP House members have been pushing conspiracy theories that are confirmed by government officials (particularly Fiona Hill in the latest Impeachment Hearing) to have come straight from Russia’s propaganda machine, his cyber war to turn the West against Ukraine and weaken NATO.  The biggest proponents of these conspiracy theories in the hearings included Nunes and Jordan, trying to shout down and ridicule and silence witnesses and House reps who told the truth.

Through Trump, American Evangelicals are falling into Putin’s trap as well, supporting Putin’s own tool to bring down our democracy.

As an amillennialist and preterist, I believe that the events commonly attributed by dispensationalists to the End Times refer to events that have already happened in history, either before or after the apocalyptic books (Daniel, Revelations) were written.  Also, that several events referred to by Jesus happened in AD 70, when Jerusalem was besieged with devastating results.  (Josephus describes the horrific events, complete with cannibalism.)

But the Bible also refers to antichrists not as a one-time event, but as a spirit that continually emerges.  A good run-down of the various interpretations is here.  My studies, including of Orthodox interpretation, have led me to believe that the prophecies refer to things that have happened, and things that will continue to happen.  I thought we didn’t hold to any part of premillennial dispensationalism, but some Orthodox sources say the prophecies refer to the End Times as well.

So you can say that Antiochus Epiphanes was an antichrist.  Nebuchadnezzar was an antichrist.  Caligula was an antichrist.  Hitler is the most obvious antichrist of the twentieth century, with the state-supported church as his prophet, bringing the whole world into Armageddon, then finally defeated.  But he’s certainly not the only one even of that century.  Soviet Russia was full of the spirit of antichrist.  Communist China is also filled with the spirit of antichrist.

Trump is shaping up to be an antichrist of the 21st century, throwing our government into disarray, systematically setting himself up as a dictator until nobody is left around him but sycophants and justices who’ll do what he wants.  The great irony is that Evangelicals, after spending decades warning us of the Antichrist, didn’t recognize him and are now worshipping him, becoming his Prophet.

But there are many people in power now who qualify as an antichrist: Putin, Kim Jong-Un, Erdogan, Orban; the crown prince of Saudi Arabia is certainly shaping up to be one.  Trump is doing his best, but we still have the workings of democracy trying to get him in check.  But are any of these the Antichrist at the End of the World?

That one can’t be answered until it happens.  However, there are some significant elements now in the world that make it possible: Climate change, for one.  We’re getting countless accounts from scientists warning us that the clock is ticking and if we don’t make drastic changes, we could soon see the end of human life on Earth.  This has been going on since the Industrial Revolution, but never faster than now.  Yet governments keep ignoring the warning signs because their fat cats don’t want to lose money.  Another element is the computer age.  Putin has been infiltrating the elections of various NATO countries not with the military, but with the Internet.  He’s found it easy to manipulate millions through Twitter bots, not just in America but in the UK and probably other countries as well.  There are ridiculous, unfounded rumors of body counts around the Clintons, but there are actual body counts piling up around Putin.

But then again, throughout history, antichrists keep meeting their end.  They all die eventually, after all–often prematurely.  Hitler met a spectacular end–like the hand of God–that led to the destruction of Nazi Germany and the deaths of many of the people in charge.  Kingdoms and empires are strong for a time, but always fall eventually, sometimes thanks to people rising up and fighting back.  We may still turn climate change around.  Trump is most definitely going to be impeached; there are many reports of his health deteriorating, and if enough people speak out, the GOP Senate could very well change their minds about removing him.  Putin could meet his own end in one way or another, or we NATO countries could finally win the cyber war.

Ever since my teens, I’ve seen various predictions of the End of the World from Christian “prophets” who turned out to be wrong.  I don’t want to say we are definitely heading into the End Times only to find out nope, wrong again.  Maybe, like every time before, the antichrist will fall but the world will keep turning.  But we do need to keep an eye out for the spirit of antichrist, and take care not to fall into his trap–whether he is “an antichrist” or “THE Antichrist.”

Update 12/30/19: This is not specifically an “endorsement” because I haven’t checked out the site/videos yet.  But here’s somebody who is convinced that Trump is the Antichrist: Brother James Key

Update 6/23/20: Benjamin Corey, a “former fundie” who starts out planning to make light of the whole thing, ends up, as he puts it, “unsettled” by what he finds in biblical prophecy, here.  He updated his post a few weeks ago; things have happened since he originally wrote it that are alarming (such as COVID-19 and events during the BLM protests) and add more support to the idea that Trump could be an antichrist–or even the Antichrist.

Running commentary on yesterday’s impeachment hearing

Yesterday, I posted a running commentary on Twitter while watching the Yovanovitch hearing.

This is what I posted, in text form because there’s no good way to embed 25 tweets from a thread.  I’ll expand abbreviations, because tweets don’t allow for more than 240 characters, and add some interjections here and there:

1) Just started watching the next testimony on C-Span….Skipping past Nunes’ Nunesense…..

2) And the GOP is doing their best to turn this into a clown show and act surprised when Schiff shuts them down.

3) My birdies approve of Yovanovitch’s voice.

4) Ever notice how Trump keeps saying he’s allowed to do things–but not whether they’re morally correct?

5) There’s so much corruption in the GOP–from local to national–that there’s no way I can see myself voting for a Republican again for the rest of my life–without some major housecleaning.

6) Beginning to wonder if the GOP strategy is to say that everything except the July 25 call itself is irrelevant–making the quid pro quo the be-all end-all. But that’s not the case at all.

7) Um–Rep Stewart, it has been PROVEN! [Russian collusion] It’s not ridiculous–It’s FACT! And yes, there was collusion. Did you not notice [Roger] Stone got convicted today?

[Also note that Stewart merely asked if Yovanovitch had any information regarding Trump’s criminal activity.  Just because SHE has none, doesn’t mean he’s innocent of all charges.  It only means that SHE has none.  Yet he twisted it into proving Trump is innocent of all charges.  He also asked if Trump *accepted* a bribe, not if he *offered* one, yet twisted her answer into meaning that Trump is innocent of bribery.  Just shows the mind game the GOP establishment has been playing on the American people.]

[To “The American people know this is nonsense. The American people know this is unfair”: ]
8) The American people know that Rep Stewart is full of 🐂💩

9) The GOP keeps trying to bring in their conspiracy theory 🐂💩but Schiff keeps shutting them down and they get whiny complainey.

10) And Quigley brings in some levity, while pointing out that things didn’t end all hunky-dory making everything that happened before to the ambassador okay.

11) Yovanovitch’s response to [Sondland’s suggestion of] praising Trump via tweet to keep her job: that’s 🐂💩 (yeah, I’m having fun with emojis, lol)

12) uh-oh Stefanik again with more conspiracy 🐂💩

13) Geez….The GOP keeps insisting on bringing in the whistleblower. Those are TWO MONTH OLD articles [in which Schiff spoke of bringing in the whistleblower to Congress]. Things have changed: ie, now the whistleblower’s life is at stake because Trump put a target on his head. And the GOP is trying to give Trump the gun.

14) The whistleblower IS NO LONGER RELEVANT. You have the many witnesses proving what he said. WHEN I REPORTED MY EX-FRIENDS FOR CHILD ABUSE, NOBODY CONTACTED ME TO BACK IT UP. THEY DID THEIR OWN INVESTIGATION ON THE FACTS & LEFT ME OUT OF IT. That’s how it works.

15) The only abuse of power is coming from the frickin’ GOP.

[Rep Jordan complained that four transcripts have not yet been released to the public for the American people to see:]
16) And, you know what, Jordan, the American people could really use the unredacted Mueller Report.

[Jordan complained with faux outrage that Ukrainians complained about Trump while he was a candidate, and that Yovanovitch said nothing to them about it.  She responded, “I think from my point of view, that doesn’t — that doesn’t create a Ukrainian government strategy to interfere in our elections.  So I would just say that, you know, U.S. politicians will often criticize policies of foreign — foreign counterparts, even perhaps during their elections. You know, this happens in politics and I think that it doesn’t necessarily constitute interference.”]

17) To Jordan’s questions: So officials of other countries aren’t allowed opinions, especially for a candidate [not elected yet]?

18) So nobody in Ukraine was supposed to prefer one candidate over another, especially where their own interests were concerned?

19) So if I say it’s stupid to vote in Boris Johnson, or for Brexit, am I now “interfering” with Britain’s elections?

20) So Jordan expects that the ambassador from a land of FREE SPEECH should tell Ukrainians WHAT THEY SHOULD THINK?

21) Near the end, some key points: There was a 1-month gap between ambassadors to Ukraine [Yovanovitch and then Taylor]. During that time, Trump tells Sondland and others to talk to Rudy about Ukraine. Parnas & Fruman [“Lev and Igor”] tried to open a natural gas company in Ukraine; at noon today, we hear that feds are investigating Rudy for planning to profit from that natural gas company.

22)

[To Nunes saying that this impeachment hearing “is an embarrassment”: ]
23) Yes, Nunes, you are an embarrassment.

24) I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if others stood to benefit from the Parnas and Fruman natural gas company: Nunes, Ratcliffe, Jordan, Stefanik, McConnell, Graham, etc. It would explain a lot.

After this, I posted:

Funny thing is I saw a guy in that audience who reminded me of Richard, except he has blond hair–and he was applauding.  It made me wonder if it was him.  Except it seems to me Richard wouldn’t be applauding, unless he’s actually broken free of the Trump worship on the right, like Amash did.

The transcript for the hearing is now out here.

 

Seth Abramson’s Proof of Conspiracy: A review

I just finished reading Seth Abramson’s Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump’s International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy.

Seth Abramson's Proof of Conspiracy: A review 1

Seth Abramson has become known for posting looooong Twitter threads (I believe one had about 100 posts) on politics of the day.  In order to share them on Facebook, I had to resort to the Thread Reader unroller app, which turns long threads into blog posts to make them easier to read.  But of course, while what he says is shocking, you’ve gotta wonder how reliable it is.

So I picked up the Kindle version of Proof of Conspiracy, which came out just a few months ago, so I could check into this.  Contrary to the spin by the GOP, Abramson argues that the Mueller Report proved both collusion and conspiracy (this book is in tandem with a previous book, Proof of Collusion).  And since I’ve read the Mueller Report, along with documents and analyses, I can confirm Abramson’s conclusion.

Publishers Weekly writes:

[Proof of Conspiracy] alleges a ‘Red Sea Conspiracy’ hatched in 2015 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates and then Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. Their plan….was to illicitly help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in order to gain his support for a ‘grand bargain’ that would end U.S. sanctions on Russia in exchange for Vladimir Putin’s help in evicting Iran from Syria, pave the way for dozens of new Saudi and Emirati nuclear plants, and forge an anti-Iranian, pro-Israeli military alliance among Sunni Arab nations….[CNN analyst Abramson] traces labyrinths of murky ‘ties,’ meetings, and business deals….[and offers] serious criticisms of Trump’s foreign policy, including his support of the Saudi regime’s brutal war in Yemen.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working through POC, finally finishing last night.  Right about the time I started it, Trump pulled troops out of Syria–and I began to see, right before me in the daily news, eerie confirmation of things I had only just read in Proof of Conspiracy.  Not just regarding Syria, but other issues as well that started coming to light during the impeachment inquiry, allegations being corroborated by witness testimony.  Names in Proof of Conspiracy started showing up in the news.  We learned new names as well, which traced back to and confirmed claims made in Proof of Conspiracy.

Another way to confirm the claims of the book is the extensive bibliography, which was a PDF posted on the Web instead of in the Kindle book.  I also downloaded it onto my Kindle, where I could click on the links and verify the articles whenever I felt the need.

Then at the end of the book, in the acknowledgements, I discovered that Abramson relied on four fact-checkers.  People complained that Michael Wolff didn’t fact-check Fire and Fury, making it unreliable, so it is a relief to see that Abramson did not repeat that mistake.

And what are the claims of the book?  That Trump’s presidency has not just been a series of blunders, but that Trump is being manipulated–through his greed and desire for power–by leaders of several Middle-Eastern countries in a Red Sea Conspiracy.  Every day, the news confirms that this isn’t just some wild theory.  It certainly explains the Putin and MBS high-five at the G20 last year, while Trump looked on jealously.  It helps explain why Trump would withdraw troops from Syria, to the objections of pretty much everybody, even his attack dog Lindsay Graham.  It also explains why Mueller said Israel–one of our closest allies–is threatening our 2020 election integrity.

Abramson notes how overwhelming it is for Americans to try to keep up with the news when there are so many different sources and so many stories; his book helps by pulling together those stories that most of us probably missed in our busy lives.  I certainly learned a lot of things that were covered a year or two ago in the media, but I missed, despite constantly checking the news since Trump was elected.  Abramson writes on page 561,

At the end of December 2018, the United States for the first time in its history became one of the five most dangerous nations in the world for journalists. We cross this dark threshold at a time when the nation’s journalistic ecosystem simultaneously produces too much quality investigative reporting for even the nation’s best analysts to synthesize; too little accountability for corporate journalism that places profits above ethics; too many stories where commitment to evenhandedness masks an unwillingness to render conventional journalistic and even moral judgments about truth and falsehood, integrity and moral degradation; and too little attention for innovations in the journalistic enterprise that might allow the profession to survive, even if generatively transformed, amid the bewildering transfigurations of a digitized and increasingly virtual (if too rarely virtuous) world.

…The New Yorker quotes Tamir Pardo, the director of Israel’s chief spy agency Mossad from 2011 to 2016, as saying of the Russian election-interference operation in 2016—which appears to have received significant assists from Israeli, Saudi, and Emirati entities—“It was the biggest Russian win ever. Without shooting one bullet, American society was torn apart.” Yet U.S. media still spends more time dissecting Trump’s tweets than seeking to curate the hundreds of major-media investigative reports from around the world that confirm that it is Trump who is, piece by piece, dissecting our nation’s foreign policy and domestic institutions.

This, by the way, also confirms a Facebook post written several years ago by a Ukrainian American friend I met on an Orthodox forum many years ago.  After the invasion, he wrote that it wasn’t just about Ukraine, that Putin would eventually come for us as well.  He thought it would be a military invasion, however, so a few weeks ago, I told him he was right–except that Putin had a much more clever way of toppling us.

Abramson writes on page 546,

The question, of course, has never been about what Donald Trump can or cannot resist. Rather, it has always been about what a society that values the rule of law is willing to tolerate. And more recently—since November 8, 2016—the question has been an even more dire one: What happens to a nation when it not only tolerates the worst excesses and degradations of the human condition but celebrates them? What happens when a once-great nation makes of its very worst instincts and proclivities a shudderingly grotesque political and cultural idol?

What we find when we train this sort of lens on a man like Donald Trump is that his desire to rule has always been co-extensive with his desire to accumulate. Indeed, the fact that, as president, Trump now wants to combine diplomacy with business—even if it threatens America’s national security—is clear.

In short, I recommend this book if you want to understand the strange events that keep going on in our nation and world these past several years.  It is also a warning of why we can’t afford to be complacent about politics in this country.

[Update: Shortly after I posted this, the author himself saw it and retweeted it, which made it go viral.  🙂 I can barely keep up with checking my stats….]

 

Seth Abramson's Proof of Conspiracy: A review
Seth Abramson's Proof of Conspiracy: A review 3

I just finished reading Seth Abramson's Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy.

Editor's Rating:
5

Why I Left the GOP

As a kid, I was raised Republican–but not for religious reasons.  The Democrats were stupid donkeys; the Republicans were smart elephants.  Abortion and gay rights were barely a blip on the fundie screen in those days.  Adding religion to it didn’t happen until I started watching The 700 Club around 1987 or 1988.

I watched it on and off starting around age 12, but it wasn’t until around 14 or 15 that I started watching it every day, seeing it as important as my new determination to read the Bible daily.  Pat Robertson indoctrinated me into the idea that Democrats were evil atheist liberals out to destroy all we hold dear, while the Republicans were righteous warriors saving our country from baby-killers and homosexuals and big government.  I believed everything he said because he was a Christian preacher.

And yet, even though my dad was very conservative, he still told me that voting by party when the other guy is a better candidate, is stupid.  He still said not to listen to Pat Robertson or the people who say we need to put prayer back in schools.  He said that presidents could not do anything they wanted, that the courts told Nixon he had to turn over the tapes.

In college, chinks in the wall started coming as I took classes on Persuasion and Mass Media.  I learned about logical fallacies and how words can be manipulated to bring emotional responses.  I learned that The 700 Club hadn’t always told the truth about stories in the news.  I learned that Rush Limbaugh was highly manipulative, how he cut people off when he didn’t like their comments and formed the reactions of listeners.  Pat Robertson kept saying over and over that God told him over and over that Bush would win in 1992; when Clinton won, Pat’s only explanation was, “I guess I missed it.”

I started to recognize that everything Pat said about the cultural wars was also suspect–not abortion or gay rights yet, but everything to do with the Satanic Panic: rock music, Dungeons and Dragons, Halloween, etc.  I had no idea he might be a racist until he defended a school board in 1994 that wanted to focus on white history.  I began hearing about the religious right during that time, realizing finally just what Pat really was.  Once in a while I’d turn on The 700 Club, but only to criticize.  It took longer to break from the show’s teachings on charismatic sign gifts, which led me into believing God wanted me with guys who were very wrong for me.

In 1994, I also dated a guy for a month who was very much into Rush Limbaugh and the extreme end of the party.  I was turned off when he screamed at an elderly woman in the cafeteria for saying something that he thought was too “liberal.”

So I was not an extremist by any means, recognizing by now that I had been misled by them, but you didn’t have to be an extremist Republican to be against abortion or gay rights.  I was also influenced by the teachings of conservative Christianity as well.

But over time, probably starting around 1995, I began to say that it was gay sex, not the passive act of being gay, that was the sin.  In the next several years, as I learned that my own behavior (introversion, NVLD/Aspergers, etc.) was influenced by things I was born with and could not change, I began to listen to the argument that being gay is something you’re born with and can’t change or be blamed for.

That particular issue took a long time to deal with, as I first examined papers put out during the mid-naughts by the liberal ends of the Presbyterian and Lutheran churches, then read Orthodox views on the subject, then realized that maybe the Presbyterians and Lutherans were right after all.  Re-examining the abortion issue came later.

But as for strict politics–Because I had finally recognized the religious right for what it was, the extremist end of the party, and the fact that Pat Robertson had not told me the truth about Democrats, I was now more aware of how Republicans behaved in the halls of Congress.  Locally I didn’t see much to worry about, but in Washington, Republicans were actively trying to destroy Democrats.  Ever since Clinton was elected, the GOP members of Congress had been trying to bring him down.  They fought everything he did, badmouthed Hillary, and started the Whitewater investigation–which all looked like a bunch of nothing.

Even though I thought Clinton was scummy because he cheated on his wife, Kennedy did the same thing, and Clinton did do some good things, such as balancing the budget and bringing us a surplus.  From what I recall, I hated Clinton, but not with the passion of the GOP leaders.  I agreed with Republicans on abortion, but was beginning to move further away from their views on most everything else.  And when Clinton was impeached for lying about getting a BJ in the Oval Office, I wrote to my penpal saying I was done being a Republican.  But I didn’t like the Dems, either, so I didn’t know where to go.

In 2000, for the first time, I liked both candidates (though I would’ve preferred McCain) and examined the platforms of both sides.  I was turned off Gore, however, during one debate when he seemed to physically threaten Bush.  I rooted for Bush during the Recount and thought I was more Republican after all.

But in the naughts, it all changed for good.  First, I kept taking quizzes that said I agreed with everything the Democrats stood for–except for abortion rights.  (That changed later as I discovered that I wasn’t being told the truth about that, either.)  I supported Bush in the early years, but then things started coming out like torture, Gitmo, and a few items in the Patriot Act that seemed to overstep onto our freedoms as Americans.  The more I learned about these things, and that there were no WMDs in Iraq, the more I saw Bush as evil.

And yet no matter what he did, the GOP–both in Washington and here in Wisconsin–supported it all: torture, the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq.  The Dems temporarily blocked a Supreme Court pick because he helped justify torture, but to this day the GOP spins it as just being arbitrary obstructionism, which they use as an excuse for their own.

Then the Downing Street Memo came out, but got buried, everybody forgetting about it, when I thought for sure it and torture would lead to the impeachment of Bush.  I remember reading it, and I probably wrote letters and/or e-mails to representatives about it as well, trying to get something done–but then it all went away.  That’s when the GOP powers of persuasion really became obvious, and the way that the GOP circled their wagons and supported everything their leaders did, no matter how evil.  Around this time, a venerated citizen of our little city voted against the GOP for the first time in his 105+ years, because, as he said, Bush had “hijacked the Republican Party.”

In 2004, I was now an Independent, and voted for a Democrat for President for the first time.  This was also the year “Megalomaniac” by Incubus came out; even though it wasn’t actually about Bush, the video clearly was, and it just cemented what I was learning about the GOP.

In the naughts, I also learned that the opposition to the science of climate change could be traced back to the Koch brothers, who funded “studies” with fake conclusions, since their oil earnings would be affected.  I learned that a lot of the ridiculous claims I was hearing from right-wing conservatives came from the John Birch Society, which also traced right to the Koch brothers.  I didn’t hear about George Soros–the “boogeyman” to the GOP–until much later, but while I could find verification about the stories about the Koch brothers, the stories about Soros were very easily debunked.

I also met a very poor family and saw how their circumstances kept working against them; they were one reason why I turned Democrat: because Republican policies totally ignored the realities of poverty, expecting people to help themselves.  Ironically, this family fervently voted and worked against their own interests, believing Democrats were “baby killers” and that the GOP or Libertarians were their saviors.

In 2008, I voted for McCain, since I was Independent, not Democrat.  But the more I learned about Dems, the more I realized I identified with them best.

Over the years, I’ve seen and heard a lot; there have been occasions when Democrats behaved badly, but by and large, the Republican Party has been committing the largest part of the grave offenses.  They have been grasping more and more for power, hypnotizing their people with lies through FOX News and various radio show hosts (such as Limbaugh).  The more power they get, the harder it is to fight back.

It doesn’t matter where they are in the political chain–Washington, or locally–they have been continuously lying to the people, brainwashing them into thinking that the interests of big corporate fat cats are somehow the same as the interests of the little guy.  They’ve been lying about abortion and homosexuality, while at the same time, using those issues as lures for gullible Evangelical voters.

Somehow the GOP has become “God’s Own Party” even though it goes against everything Jesus ever taught us about how to treat the poor, minorities, women, and others.  Current GOP policy also violates everything the Bible teaches about treatment of immigrants.  It doesn’t matter to them if it saves or improves lives or is wildly popular with the people–If Democrats propose something, the Republicans oppose it.  If Dems manage to pass the thing, the GOP will try to get rid of it as soon as possible, bringing back the bad old ways under which people suffer.

They constantly harassed Obama, refusing to do anything he wanted, and criticizing everything he did.  Their followers posted pictures of him as the Joker and with a noose around his neck.  Obama was a good president and a devoted family man, a Christian, but the GOP painted him as EVIL and lots of people believed it.

Meanwhile, we now have a president who is the epitome of a malignant narcissist, with a history of selfishness, greed, rape and other criminal behavior, and no trace of Christianity, who is showing every sign of wanting to be dictator, yet the GOP paints him as a glorious savior who couldn’t possibly do anything wrong.

Obama did his best to promote peace, though he did make serious errors; the GOP maligned him for this.  Meanwhile, Trump is an actual security risk, destabilizing the Middle East with his reckless actions and putting our country at greater risk of everything from blackmail to nuclear attack–and the GOP supports him.  (I wrote this before getting the news that the GOP is upset about pulling out of Syria–but who knows if that’ll last long, either?)

They’ve been gerrymandering.  We Americans keep falling further and further behind other industrialized countries, who have things like high speed rail and government-paid medical care and even pensions.  Meanwhile, if we Americans can’t find a job in our small town, we’re stuck unless we pick up our lives and move away from friends and family, because the commute to a better job is too far.  We Americans get easily bankrupted by health problems, and can expect to work until we’re dead, with very little vacation time.  This all suits the fat cats just fine, because they’re rich and getting richer.  While the little guy keeps voting against his own interests because he’s been brainwashed into thinking the alternative is “EVIL socialism.”

Encountering the TEA Party up close and personal among friends back when it started, showed me just how ignorant and harmful it actually was.  I didn’t need the “liberal media” to “spin” it for me.  I watched in horror as it took over the GOP, kicking out more moderate members and turning the whole party TEA.  I remember, in 2007, looking at Ron Paul’s platform and thinking, “Geez, what a nutcase.”  Now his nutty ideas are GOP dogma.

Some people didn’t leave the GOP until recently, because of Trump.  Some people don’t seem to realize that ousting Trump will get rid of a security risk who is totally inept and self-serving–but won’t fix the problem, because the fault lines go back decades.

The TEA Party takeover of the GOP may have just happened in the last decade, but it comes from the extremism that was already there in the party for years.  And it has been pushing out what was still left in the GOP of moderation and decency, until we now have this: a party that goes from criticizing Trump to kissing his backside, and defends every crappy thing he does, until now they’re trying to tell us,

“Don’t believe the mainstream media.  They’re LIBERAL and can’t be trusted.  Don’t believe what they tell you is in the Mueller Report.  Don’t believe the whistleblower.  No, only believe what we tell you.  Nothing to see here–No, Kavanaugh didn’t commit sexual assault against at least three girls.  No, Trump is not corrupt.  No, Trump did not collude or obstruct.  No, Trump did not threaten the leader of another country into helping him smear a political opponent.  No, it’s all liberal lies.  WE’LL tell you the truth.”

And the scariest part is when I hear loved ones repeat the lies the GOP has been saying.  I post something on Facebook and friends/family react with “laugh” emojis even though it wasn’t a joke.  I’ll post factual articles, while they respond with GOP talking points, and sound ignorant because those are not facts.  It’s frightening what the right-wing has been doing to this country.

What Richard Told Me about border guards: Investigating its Truth

Back in 2007-2009, Richard told me many hair-raising stories about his time in the southern Border Patrol.  He was there while Clinton was president.  Here’s what he told me:

  1. Clinton told them to shoot the illegal immigrants on sight, through a secret Executive Order that drove many border guards to emotional distress, drinking, etc.
  2. Many border guards were corrupt, taking their own piece of the drug smuggling and human trafficking going on there.
  3. He shot somebody.  I won’t go into more detail.  But the guilt drove him to leave the job.
  4. He left before Bush came into office.  Other border guards told him that Bush saw the EO, was horrified, and rescinded it.

For many years–including when we were still friends–I have searched the web for answers, trying to find out if the “shoot on sight” EO was for real.  I have never found anything–though I have dug up lots of confirmation of corrupt border guards.  I’ve found plenty of people saying that Bush should implement “shoot on sight” (I think one was Richard’s own wife).  I’ve found plenty of confirmation that Clinton’s border policies were just as harmful as Trump’s, causing deaths by forcing people to take dangerous routes, militarizing the border.  I’ve found confirmation that some guards have indeed killed people–but zero confirmation that such an EO ever existed to cover their actions.

Of course, Richard told me confirmation didn’t exist because the government wouldn’t allow anybody to talk about it.  If he posted about it online, he said, he would get a Visit….

But if anybody would talk about such an order, it would be the human rights groups who report on deaths caused by border guards and whether or not they lead to justice.  I found reports of such deaths caused during the Clinton era, but Richard was nowhere listed.  If he really had killed somebody, wouldn’t they have mentioned him on one of their lists?  They don’t care if governments don’t like what they say, and don’t give Clinton a pass for being a Democrat–wouldn’t they have mentioned the EO as one of Clinton’s harmful policies?

Recently, I posted about it on Facebook, wondering if anybody knew anything about this.  One friend said Richard is so full of sh** that his eyes are brown (making me wonder if this person knew him).  Another friend said that she knew somebody who’s been a guard for years, and that such an EO never existed.  But this person was not a guard during Clinton’s era, so I didn’t know what to think, especially as confirmation of border guard abuses back to the 1920s keeps coming out.

Well, finally I found somebody who WAS a guard on the southern border during the same time Richard was (she was in from 1995-2001), and here is what she, Jenn Budd, writes about it:

It’s been some time since you left the force, what are some of the things that have changed? What are some of the things that have remained the same since you left?

When I became an agent, there were just under 5,000 agents and 1.3 million apprehensions. Today there are about 20,000 agents for just over 300,000 apprehensions. Judging by those statistics, I honestly don’t know what today’s agents do all day. When I was an agent, I played soccer with the kids in the flat fields of Tecate. Today they shoot them for getting too close to the fence. The Patrol is far more militarized and has greater extraordinary powers than in my day, yet there is little accountability.

After 9/11, agents told me they had the authority to do whatever in the name of “national security.” For example: before 9/11, we had a no pursuit policy if it endangered lives; no high speed chases that could result in the loss of life. After 9/11, agents stated they could justify it because it was a national security issue. This is the same excuse given when they pull over vehicles without cause, when they shoot children playing too close to the fence, to justify caging infants. The Patrol has also become aligned with anti-immigrant hate groups and promotes their websites to their agents through the union. This did not exist when I was an agent.

Some things have not changed though. The agency still refuses to admit they have a serious issue with sexual harassment and assault perpetrated by its male agents on its female agents.  That helps explain why there are so few female agents. Agents are routinely found to be taking bribes and engaged in corruption, smuggling drugs, and people. They are also often charged with murder. Yet the Border Patrol prefers to defend their agents even when there is clear video evidence they have committed crimes. The agency is more concerned with bad press than it is about enforcing laws and holding their agents accountable.

So yes, the corruption stories were true.  Yes, guards sometimes commit murder, then as now.  But this contradicts Richard’s claim about Clinton’s EO.  This would suggest that if anybody made such an order, it would’ve been Bush, not Clinton.

And that makes me wonder why the heck Richard would make such a claim.  Why would he say he murdered somebody if I can find no proof that he ever did?  Wouldn’t he have gone to jail for this?  Even if the EO had kept him out of jail, wouldn’t the human rights groups have mentioned him someplace in their long lists of guards accused of murder?  Why would guards even be accused of murder in the Clinton era, if they were acting under orders?  Jenn Budd now blogs about border issues and has an open letter telling border guards to either quit or fight back against human rights abuses; wouldn’t she say if such an EO ever existed when she was a guard?

The only reason I can think of for Richard’s claim of murdering somebody, is political, to suit his usual narrative that Democratic presidents are evil and only conservative presidents can be trusted to do the right thing.  Or maybe it was from some narcissistic desire to paint an image of himself as bigger and badder than he really was, in order to impress people.

A mutual friend has confirmed some of the other stories Richard told which are just as hard to believe, such as the Mafia gem smuggling–but this particular story keeps falling apart no matter how many times I try to confirm it.