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May 11, 2018

May 11-12, 2018

Updated Sept. 29, 2019
About Me

My name is Hal Brown. I am a 75 year old retired Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW, Massachusetts), who was a psychotherapist in private practice in Michigan and Massachusetts and a community mental health center director in Michigan. I was also a cranberry grower along with my late wife Betty and a member of the Ocean Spray cooperative.

I am currently living in Portland, Oregon. I moved here in 2014, four years after Betty died at the age of 65. 

I try to update this blog every day, if not with an original story which I post on Daily Kos, at least with some links to articles I find interesting, sometimes along with a brief commentary.

I used to write a column on Capitol Hill Blue. This is the oldest political website. I post stories on Daily Kos about "Trumpology: The psychological study and analysis of Donald Trump" and on general political subjects which you can read here. There are over 800 of these articles.


This is me about 20 years ago.

I was much younger when this photo was taken.

Something about me:
I received my Masters in Social Work from Michigan State University in 1971 and was a psychotherapist until my retirement in. My main salaried work experience was with one of the best community mental health programs in the country, the Mason Mental Health Center (LINK inlcudes photos) , Clinton-Eaton-Ingham Community Mental Health Board headquartered in Lansing, Michigan. I always had a private practice along with my salaried job.  

In addition to practicing psychotherapy, I was the supervisor of two rural mental health centers, a clinical supervisor, and a field instructor helping to train clinical social workers from both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan. I've presented workshops at several state and two national conferences on a variety of clinical topics.  I also particpated in research conducted by Dr. Norman Kagan in a training method called Interpersonal Process Recall (IPR) and made several training films with a real client.

Due to budget cuts the Mason Mental Health Center was closed and I was moved to a sister satellite center in St. Johns, the Clinton County Counseling Center. As the new supervisor I was supposed to remedy some major problems. I discovered the problems were worse than described to me and when I tried to address them I got into difficulty with the higher-ups at the main office.

I discovered that the program was held in low regard by the heads of the other agencies in the county. 

The steps I took unilaterally without clearing them with my superiors led to a temporary suspension, which I fought with a lawyer and eventually won a pyrrhic victory and was returned to run the program under untenable circumstances. I resigned and my wife and I moved to Massachusetts to take over her family cranberry farm.

Here's how the Lansing paper described what happened:
Click above to enlarge

All the heads of the country agencies wrote me glowing recommendations when I left.

I was in general adult practice where I worked with patients who were businessmen and women, construction and trade workers, housewives, professors, college students, farmers, techies in the electronics and computer industry and executives.

I also have had considerable experience working with with police officers and correction officers in both individual and couple's therapy. 
Because I spent 20 years as an auxiliary police officer in two cities I learned about police stress, I published the number one website on the subject, Police Stressline.  I began the website by posting articles I originally wrote for a print Massachusetts police magaize called Police Log. Some of the online articles were picked up and published in print police magazines.

My Massachsetts office was very private. It was at home with its own waiting room and entrance, overlooking the cranberry bogs which, until the summer of 2006 when they were sold, were owned by my wife and her family. 
My wife Betty and I were Ocean Spray grower-owners and we published one of the first websites to have a major impact on an entire industry, Cranberry Stressline. Because it brought together growers from across the country when there were problems with the management of Ocean Spray the website was credited with promoting a proxy war which resulted in the election of a new board of directors and the firing of the CEO, Robert Hawthorne.
As a therapist I worked with people with anxiety, depression and relationship problems, with people who are compulsive, irritable, anxious, and those who suffer from self-doubt and self-esteem problems. I also worked with people who were struggling with more existential questions such as who they are and what their life was all about. 
I always believed therapy should be a partnership between client and therapist, and that the basis for good therapy is trust, and that it was my responsibility for seeing to it that clients weren't spinning their wheels fruitlessly while I sat back and wait for them "to get it on their own," while I had a pretty good idea where they had to go to resolve their problems. 
I didn't have any particular "brand" of psychotherapy that I practiced, especially since the type of therapy I provided depended on the client's needs and desires. Generally for symptom reduction alone, therapy that gives a client support and encouragement, and helps them better understand self-defeating behaviors and change them, is the most effective. 
My understanding of personality dynamics comes from being trained in psychodynamic and psychoanalytically oriented therapy in the master's program at Michigan State University in the early 1970's. While I did not have post-graduate training in this area (I am not a psychoanalyst), I had considerable experience in providing therapy that was aimed at helping clients gain insight into themselves and how their family of origin influenced who they are.
I also blended what is known as cognitive-behavior therapy into my approach as needed. Basically this helped the client to recognize and change their self-defeating thoughts and behaviors.

I have discovered over many years that it's the personality of the therapist, their ability to listen, and the connection he or she makes with the client that dictates success or failure in therapy. I tend to be suspicious of any of the "therapy of the month" flavors of treatment often touted in best selling books and by their authors on talk shows.
Other online activities:

I was a weekly columnist for the website Capital Hill Blue for several years. I also had an online column called The Eclectic Digest which was publshed in two large daily papers south of Boston, The Brockton Enterprise and The Patriot Ledger. I have a Facebook page, pictured are my two Westies Mac and Duff:

My latest form of personal therapy, more fun than writing, is making political photoshops, for example:

Here are some more recent photos of me. They are small but you can click to enlarge them, although why you might want to do that is beyond me.

New: My essays from when I wrote a weekly politcal column for Capitol Hill Blue circa 2009. || Archive of Daily Kos articles || 

May 8, 2018

May 9-10, 2018

Thurday, May 10, 2018

My Daily Kos story today:

Morning thoughts:

Trump was in is glory meeting the three hostages at 2 AM, the three great folks captured, accused of various crimes against the regime, and just released. How does he know they were great folks, meaning ordinary innocent men? Maybe in fact, they were spies. In fact, it would be good to know we actually managed to get spies into NK. Not great spies since if they were great they wouldn't have been captured.

Meanwhile in today's news, in the ABF media world (anywhere but Fox) it turns out that Pence basically said what Nixon said about it being time to get the Watergate investigation over. MSNBC and hopefully other stations are replaying Nixon and Pense back to back. 

‘I believe the time has come to bring that investigation and the other investigations of the matter to an end. One year of Watergate is enough.’ 1974 State of the Union address

"Israeli fighter jets struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria overnight, Israeli officials said, following soon after what the Israeli military described as an unsuccessful Iranian rocket attack against its forces in the Golan Heights." NY Times This leads me to wonder why, if Iran really did this, whether this was a response to Trump pulling out of the nuclear deal, a move which Netanyahu enthusiastically supports. 

Well said: "Like a bloated, portly fake billionaire rolling off a hooker after a hot 45 seconds of passionate sex, Donald Trump’s ardor for Rudy Giuliani seems to have cooled." From "Rudy Giuliani and Donald Trump: This Will End Badly. And Probably Soon." Daily Beast story

Pro-Trump lawyer freaks after being questioned on Michael Cohen’s sleaze - watch video

Weds. May 9, 2018

Ed. Note:

The bloodluster-in-chief is Donald Trump. As a psychotherapist, I have tried to get a sense of what goes on his mind. Most of you know how child therapists take very seriously what children draw, and with adults projective tests can often tease out psychopathic violent fantasies. I would like to see a collection of drawings Trump made as a child.

Excerpts (emphasis added):

• Trump just tweeted that it might be time to “take away credentials” from some news media. He cited a report claiming that “91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake).” Trump explicitly defined all merely negative stories about him as “fake.” This is basically a declaration that the news media’s efforts to hold him accountable are inherently illegitimate, or at least are grounds for retributive action. Is Trump even capable of imagining that criticism of him flows from the crucial institutional role the press plays in our democracy? This sort of thing isn’t mere bluster: It has convinced a majority of Republicans that the press is the “enemy of the people.”

• The Senate Intelligence Committee just released a report finding that Russia waged an “unprecedented, coordinated cyber campaign” against the United States’ voting infrastructure. The larger context: Trump has failed to organize a strong response to future Russian electoral sabotage, because he is reluctant to acknowledge that it happened at all in 2016, as that would diminish the greatness of his victory. This puts Trump at odds with members of his own administration who regard the fact of Russian interference “as objective reality,” putting future elections at risk out of sheer megalomania.

Again and again and again, independent reporting has revealed that when the decision-making rubber hits the road — that is, when the actual process kicks in of weighing pros and cons, and complexities and contingencies, and upsides and downsides for the country — other factors have intruded: Trump’s rage over something else. His desire to please his base. His fear of appearing weak. His megalomania. At what point can we say that Trump’s decision-making has become detached from any meaningful effort to act in accordance with any conception of what is good for the country? It’s a question that deserves more airing.

A major story to follow:

John Bolton and Mike Pompeo Are Headed for a Clash Politco

They may seem like kindred spirits, but their personal interests are totally different. That makes them destined for rivalry.

The Special Counsel's Office Has Been Looking Into Payments To Michael Cohen's Company Since Last Year - Buzzfeed 

Ed Note: Think of your favorite guilty pleasure food. For me it's New York style pizza, my late spouse's homemade lasagna, meat loaf, and pancakes with blueberries fresh off one of our bushes. That's how delicious it would be if the Stormy Daniels / Micheal Cohen revelations turned out to be linked to Trump Russian collusion.

Trump Just Publicly Threatened to Throw Media Out of the White House for Not Being Nice Enough to Him The president mused about it on his favorite social media platform.

Ed. Note: I lost count months ago of how many times I was stymied in my attempts to find words appropriate to describe Trump's authoritarian and/or psychopathological actions. I have exhasted the thesaurus. There are simply no words yet. However I believe that years from now Trumpian will have the same meaning that Hitlerian does today. Think Progress notesBut there was also a major tell in Trump’s tweet. Perhaps more explicitly than he ever has before, by writing “negative (Fake),” the president made explicitly that he considers all negative coverage of him to be fake.

Trump fans freak out on right-winger Matt Drudge for warning against president’s ‘fake news crusade’

May 7, 2018

May 7-8, 2018

BACK, May 5-6, 2018 | New: My essays from when I wrote a weekly politcal column for Capitol Hill Blue circa 2009. || Archive of Daily Kos articles

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Quote of the day from Joe Scarborough this morning about Rudy Guiliani: “I can mention this: Everybody around Donald Trump said he was drinking too much — Donald Trump suggested as much — that was two years ago. And the fact that Donald Trump brought this guy in two years later despite his own reservations about him, almost two years ago, that’s not any, it’s not 3-D chess. That’s not even checkers, that’s a monkey throwing poo against the wall, and it doesn’t usually turn out well.”

Hey  Donald, you can see what's inside by buying a copy online. Here's the subscription link.

I rushed to get a story about this on Daily Kos before someone beat me to it.

Girlie magazine history: Trump, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter have this in common.

The Daily Beast offers a few tidbits but no photographs. So, sorry Donald, you will have to shell out $10.99 to see them.
By the end of the day, we will discover how many journalists have read the article. We can only hope that Stormy said something in the interview that would justify a reporter asking Sarah Sanders about it in the next press conference. 
What can you say when there’s an article in Newsweek like this?
From an article in the Washinton Post quoting Rick Wilson: “I’ve road-tested a ton of different insults for Donald Trump, and this is the one that seems to have a little bite to it,” he said. (It’s true: The man once called Trump an “epic douche-canoe” on CNN.) The nickname captures the “Weird affectation of this guy, with his fake skin and his fake hair” as well as the “Creepy, messianic … Jonestown aspect of his followers,” said Wilson.
A Cheeto, as it turns out, is an evocative metaphor, and politicians and activists across the spectrum bring up the dusty orange snack when they want to conjure up a certain image of their opponents: That they’re junky, artificial, bad for you, bad for America and likely to leave you with crumby fingers and a weird aftertaste.
Adult film star Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) has been inundated with requests since alleging she had an affair with President Donald Trump in 2006, but surely none stranger than the crowd who asked her to stamp on Cheetos during her "Make America Horny Again" tour.
In an interview with Penthouse released on Tuesday, Daniels says a crowd of gay men holding bags of Cheetos paid her $20 to crush the orange snacks underfoot, in what appears to be a sly reference to the president’s shade of fake tan.
“Money was exchanged, Cheetos were scattered, and the hardworking porn star turned international news story ground them to orange powder beneath her high-heeled stripper shoes,” an extract from the interview, shared by The Daily Beast, reads.  NEWSWEEK
I can imagine Rachel Maddow trying to find new words to describe how she feels about how our body-politic (so to speak) has degenerated to the degree that a Penthouse Magazine cover is making the news. 
In a surreal way this is probably the most politically significant girlie magazine article since Jimmy Carter admitted he had lust in his heart in a Playboy interview.
What Christ taught about most was pride, that one person should never think he was any better than anybody else. The thing that’s drummed into us all the time is not to be proud, not to be better than anyone else, not to look down on people, but to make ourselves acceptable in God’s eyes through our own actions and recognize the simple truth that were saved by grace. I’m not trying to commit a deliberate sin. I recognize that I’m going to do it anyhow, because I’m human and I’m tempted. And Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. Christ said, I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery. I’ve looked on a lot of women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do–and I have done it–and God forgives me for it.
Not all of Bill Clinton’s admitted and alleged lovers made it into the news. I never heard of most of these women: Bill Clinton's Loves & Hookups. Of course, there never was a whisper of a rumor that any of Bill’s peccadillos was non-consensual.
As for Melania, this has to be adding insult to injury. Not only does she have to deal with her own feelings about her husband’s infidelities and the sexual assault accusations which I think she thinks are true, but she has to worry that Baron may manage to see the images online from his friends while he’s at school. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

And, then there's Rudy:

John Oliver: Trump And Giuliani Have Something In Common And It’s Gross, HUFFPOST Rudy Giuliani’s confusing media appearances over the past week, in which his attempts to defend President Donald Trump backfired, have some wondering what happened to the once-respected former mayor of New York City.John Oliver revealed the answer on “Last Week Tonight” on Sunday. “Nothing,” he explained. “He was always this awful.” Then, Oliver took a look back at the lowlights of Giuliani’s career before concluding that the former mayor and current president were basically ”two versions of the same person.”