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December 30, 2020

Hal Brown BLOG

 My Bio.

Hal Brown's blog  (scroll down for archive)

Jan. 5/6, 2020

Jan. 4, 2020

Jan. 3, 2020

A small local story:

Jan. 2, 2020

Jan. 1, 2020

Dec. 29, 2020

Dec. 28, 2020

Dec. 27, 2020

Click above to enlarge image

Dec. 26, 2020

Dec. 25, 2020

Dec. 24, 2020

By Hal Brown


On Monday I wrote a diary saying that I was sick of seeing Trump’s picture used to illustrate so many articles.

Yesterday I wrote an actual story about Donald Trump and in keeping with my previous pledge not to subject readers to pictures of Trump I put a paper bag over his head.


When I was a child I  used to look through the volumes of our Encyclopedia Brittanica  at random reading articles that piqued my interest. I came across the entry on medieval torture devices which had several illustrations. This is their current online article. It has the photo I used above. One of them literally gave me nightmares. It was the Iron Maiden. Of all the devices that scared me the most the thought of being locked inside was the worst.

I thought I could use the top of the device to hide Trump’s face for this story. It turned out it wasn’t particularly difficult to make the image so I made the illustration. Then at 2:00 AM after I wrote this I realized that someone might report this to Daily Kos as violating the rule against posting anything suggesting violence towards anybody so I took it down and replaced it. 

I suppose the notion of being crushed alive held a special terror for me since the only other nightmare I had several times as a child came from one scene in the lushly photographed movie which won the Oscar for best cinematography,  King Solomon’s Mines (the 1950 version — there have been five versions). This one starred Deborah Kerr and Stewart Granger. My parents obviously thought it would be a suitable adventure movie for a six year old to see. Unfortunately even though it was an amazing adventure movie it featured a realistic animal stampede which ended very badly.


(Click to enlarge image)

The scene that was imbedded in my mind and caused nightmares was the where one of the natives had his head crushed by an elephant. I am not sure if my memory embellished what was actually shown onscreen but I recalled and dreamed it as extremely graphic and gory. I can remember how red that Technicolor blood appeared.

What does this have to do with Donald J. Trump? I think it is that of the many ways the era of Trump has been described one of them it that it’s been like a nightmare you can’t wake up from. 

Like all of us who also feel trapped in the Trump nightmare I can’t wait to spend January 20th watching Joe Biden and Kamala Harris being inaugurated. Finally I will shake off the four year nightmare. 

I don’t think this illustration breaks any Daily Kos rules.


The Poll

Sharp eyes may notice that this was posted at 3:30 AM Pacific time. I have often awakened in the wee hours worrying about Trump. Sometimes this is when I get the idea for a story. When this happens I put it together in my mind and realize I’ll never get back to sleep unless I get up and write it. Trump has effected all of us in negative ways. It’s impossible to separate the stress caused by Trump and the stress caused by Covid.  Here’s a list from Mayo Clinic of what stress can do to people.                

Emotional symptoms of stress include:

  • Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
  • Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control
  • Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed
  • Avoiding others

Physical symptoms of stress include:

Cognitive symptoms of stress include:

  • Constant worrying
  • Racing thoughts
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Inability to focus
  • Poor judgment
  • Being pessimistic or seeing only the negative side

Behavioral symptoms of stress include:

  • Changes in appetite -- either not eating or eating too much
  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities
  • Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
  • Exhibiting more nervous behaviors, such as nail biting, fidgeting, and pacing


Dec. 23, 2020

Dec. 22, 2020
First illustration
Dec. 21, 2020

My comment:
The need to vastly expanded free mental health service must be addressed for everyone but also for this group. One way is for states to make it easy for retired psychotherapists like me to reactivate their licenses to practice. Mine expired 10 years ago when I retired and moved to a different state. I am 77 so I will hopefully be vaccinated soon. I have had experience providing individual and in group therapy for those suffering from PTSD. I, and I am sure others like me, would be glad to volunteer some of my time to a program to address this need.

In 1982, the Mason Mental Health Center was one of the first programs to receive a grant from the Veterans Administration to operate a program to treat Vietnam veterans suffering from delayed post traumatic stress disorder. In fact, I believe we were one of only two community mental health centers to receive such a grant. Eventually the VA itself opened outreach programs themselves all over the country, and programs like ours were phased out.

Our program began in November of 1981 without any involvement with the VA. Not a veteran myself, I had been working with a few Vietnam combat veterans in therapy. They were involved in a Vietnam veterans' organization and were contacted by the local PBS television station, WKAR in East Lansing, MI, to put together a group to take phone calls at the station after they aired a special on post Vietnam stress syndrome. 

They suggested that I be one of the resource people available, not to take calls, but to assist those vets who were. The phone calls began to pour in after the program and I decided on the spot to offer a group at Mason Mental Health for any vets who wanted to attend. A few nights later 25 showed up for the first of many vets groups, and spin-off groups for spouses of vets. 

That was how we did business in those days. If we saw a need, we tried to met it. We weren't volunteers, one of "the thousand points of light." We were paid for what we did, but we did it because it needed to be done. The real heroes of the Vietnam veterans programs were the clients themselves. They hung together and helped each other through touch times as they dealt with inner demons. 

One man in particular went on to be appointed to the Governor's Agent Orange Commission where he distinguished himself, until he succumbed to a cancer that was probably caused by agent orange. I am certain he would give me permission to publish his name as he made no secret of having been part of the Mason Mental Health program as a client. I still have to maintain his confidentiality, but those who read this will know who he is. 

I would have liked to keep the program independent from the VA, but I knew that I needed to hire a Vietnam veteran who was also a professional psychotherapist, and there weren't many of them around. So when VA funds became available I wrote the grant and we were able to hire the first of several dedicated therapists. 

Unfortunately, the VA took over much of the control of the program and while it continued almost until Mason Mental Health closed, our relationship with the VA was never very good. They insisted on approving clients before we saw them, even for first time emergency sessions that we were willing to do for free. We had to attend regular meetings at a VA center 60 miles away, and our therapists ended up having two supervisors. One hated bureaucracies and the other seemed to thrive in one of the biggest bureaucracies in the government. One knew his therapists could empathize with Vietnam veterans far better than he could and the other... well, I'm sure you get the idea.

Dec. 20, 2020 

Dec. 19, 2020

Trump finally reacted to the security breech:

Dec, 18, 2020

Yesterday's Daily Kos story with 400+ comments is still online on the Trending list so I won't write another one today.

There are so many people that karma  should target for getting very sick from  Covid: ‘Truly, Truly Evil’: Tucker Carlson Slammed For Sowing Doubt About COVID-19 Vaccines Karma got this guy.

Yesterday's Daily Kos story with 400+ comments is still online on the Trending list so I won't write another one today.

Excerpt: The American people will need to internalize concepts such as "necropolitics" (the literal politics of death, in which the state decides which individuals and groups live or die); "pathocracy" (the idea that American culture is unhealthy on a fundamental level, which generates antisocial behavior among the public as a whole and empowers dangerous leaders like Donald Trump); "the culture of cruelty" (an interlocking system of institutional power relationships and norms that create human misery across society); and "gangster capitalism" (neoliberalism), which prioritizes profits over people. 

In all, the American people need a vocabulary of resistance to take what they know instinctively to be wrong and then to translate that understanding and energy into collective action.

*  *  *

President-elect Joe Biden is continuing with his pleas for "unity," urging Americans to "come together" and "move forward" as a nation after the Trump nightmare ends. Beyond the absurd demand that his voters and other decent Americans should embrace Trump's deplorables, Biden may even include some Republicans in his administration to show "middle America" that their concerns are being "heard." 

In too many ways, Biden is choosing to back away from the confrontation that is required to force a national reckoning with the evils of Trumpism and the harm it caused America. At a minimum, there should be a truth commission and public hearings to expose the Trump regime's crimes. If merited, Trump himself and other members of his regime should face criminal prosecution.

My comment: There is no "American people" who need to understand how close Trump brought the country to a white nationalist dictatorship because this assumes that we are a unified country. Enough people wanted Trump to be a modern day Hitler and were more than willing to be his willing executioners so I think we can make a case to say that the country is as divided as it was during the Civil War. The only hope I see is for Republican members of Congress, no matter who controls the Senate, to recognize this and reverse the draconian measures Trump took to turn the country into his version of a Thousand Year Reich. Biden can plead for "unity," and he can keep urging Americans to "come together" and "move forward" as a nation after the Trump nightmare ends, but he can't succeed in this when something close to half the country doesn't consider the Trump era a nightmare but rather think of it as a sweet dream.

Excerpt: These last four years in the United States have underscored not only the persistence of this systemic racism, but also the eruption of a demented form of the biopolitical plague. Beyond the malignant narcissism of Trump, one finds a cultural narcissism and civic illiteracy among significant segments of the U.S. population. The biopolitical environment of racism and xenophobia are particularly, but not exclusively, evident among the white working class, especially those living in rural areas. The very real decline in living standards and the attendant rise in morbidity statistics contribute to this environment while also resulting in what Jonathan Metzl has brilliantly exposed and analyzed as “dying of whiteness.” As Jessie Daniels notes: “The lie of whiteness holds out a promise that being white will save you from social isolation and disconnection through materialism, individualism, and the satisfaction of superiority. When the world changes, it burns off those false promises like a flame melting wax and what is left may not seem like enough to go on.”

This is what's on Trump's mind today.

Dec. 17, 2020

On Daily Kos a community member's story (or diary as they are sometimes called) isn't recommended it only stays on their main page for a few hours. It generally takes about 30 early recommends to make the list. You have to be a registered reader there to recommend or comment on a story. Only about 10% of what I have posted there have made the list. This is the first time I have two of three stories in a row over three days make it. I have posted 1305 stories there since 3/23/16 and have had 124 recommended. As a retired psychotherapist I have posted many stories about the president's psychopathology or what I call Trumpology.  

Quote of the day: In paying close attention to how Trump and McConnell approach politics, Biden seems to have learned something important: Hitting back is the only way to get the current Republican Party’s attention. Asking nicely won’t cut it in 2021. EJ Dionne in The Washington Post

Dec. 16, 2020
Perhaps not quite yet 
certifiable but stay tuned...

Dec. 15, 2020

Dec. 14, 2020
Biden wins electoral college,
Trump is dancing on the gallows to YMCA
by Hal Brown

Dec. 13, 2020

The Trump cronies trying to destroy democracy aren't crash car dummies and they aren't dumb (i.e. stupid). They are really living and breathing Republican members of Congress and other officials who are willfully participating in an assault on our democracy, trying to knock it down as it were. I would have drawn the cartoon with real people on the bus and the observer saying "fortunately it held up this time" or something akin to that.

How I put together the image:

Dec. 12, 2020

Dec. 11, 2020

No doubt that picture had to be photoshopped due to covid which is a real shame.
I bet not too many people realized this.
 A photo session with a top portrait photographer would have been a moving
experience not only for Joe and Kamala but for all who were involved.
Read Article

Dec. 10, 2020

Dec. 9, 2020
I got nothing...
Dec. 8, 2020

Dec. 7, 2020

Quote of the day: "Unfortunately, whether they call themselves the conservative movement, the Reagan Revolution, proud patriots, the Tea Party, MAGA, Trumpism or something else, that rabid base will still be with us. They love to worship their leaders, but when they get tired of them they toss them out like yesterday's papers and start looking for the next one. But Wingnut Nation will live on, Trump or no Trump." Heather "Digby" Parton

Dec. 6, 2020

Excerpt: Over the weekend, President-elect Joe Biden fractured his foot while playing with Major, his German shepherd. After the news broke, it was momentarily unclear what the collective response would be. 

Throughout the election, Biden struggled with being perceived, as "The Hill" contributor Charlie Gerow said in September, as a "fragile, frail old man." This accident could have further spotlighted what some voters already saw as a shortcoming. However, it quickly became clear that most people — myself included — responded to the story by simply saying, "Thank God we have a normal human in charge of the country again." 

It was a feeling that was only strengthened when the Biden-Harris transition sent out a special "paws release" that read, "Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark Bark." 

It offered a helpful translation for human readers: "I wish my adopted father a speedy recovery but I strongly maintain that I have done nothing wrong. I look forward to the Secret Service's investigation, which I expect will confirm that I am a very good boy."

Dec. 5, 2020

Dec. 4, 2020

Excerpt: Liberals wonder constantly why Trump supporters aren't more embarrassed by the man, who can barely read and who suggested, with a straight face, that doctors might want to treat COVID-19 by injecting bleach into people's lungs. How do they not cringe in shame to vote for such a person?

Not to get too galaxy-brain about this, the truth is that Trump's cringeworthiness was part of the pleasure for his supporters. Being able to foist this embarrassment of a president on the nation was quite the flex! It was a demonstration of raw power, being elevate a man so absurdly unqualified to the highest office in the land.

When owning the liberals, subtlety is not required. On the contrary, those who worship power couldn't get enough of watching the smart people of the world — the Dr. Anthony Faucis and the Nancy Pelosis and the Justin Trudeaus — have to sit in a room with this ignorant tub of self-regarding goo and take him seriously, just because he was legally the president. 

Trump himself understands this dynamic. It's why his very first act as president was to tell a ridiculous lie, that his inauguration crowd size was bigger than Barack Obama's. It was a lie he made his then-press secretary Sean Spicer repeat to reporters, as a clear test of Spicer's skills at keeping a straight face through obvious whoppers. Soon enough, Trump's supporters were in on the con, insisting to pollsters that they believed Trump's crowd was bigger than any crowd ever, no matter what the photographic evidence indicated. 

Many liberals responded by assuming that everyone involved with bolstering this lie had to be a delusional idiot, but experts in authoritarianism saw it differently: Trump was testing his newly obtained power.

Dec. 3, 2020

My Daily Kos story:

Dec. 2, 2020

It would be funny... but it isn't...

EXCERPT: In June 2019, at the end of the G20 summit in Japan, New York Times reporter Peter Baker asked President Trump what he made of recent comments by Russian president Vladimir Putin that western-style liberalism was obsolete. Trump’s answer managed to combine all his trademark menace, stupidity, and comic narcissism.

By “western liberalism,” Putin meant that democracy as it is practiced in Western Europe and the United States (with a free press, rule of law, and so on) is decadent and weak. Trump understood “western” to mean the west coast of the United States” and “liberalism” to mean the progressive aims of the Democratic party.

Proceeding from his inability to understand the terms of this debate, which encompasses the fundamental international ideological struggle of the post–Cold War era, he found himself caught between two characteristic desires. Trump did not want to insult Putin, but he also did not want to accept blame. He resolved the dilemma by agreeing that yes, liberals had made the West Coast terrible, but no, it was not the president’s fault:

“Well, he may feel that way. He says what’s going on. I guess you look at what’s happening in Los Angeles, where it’s so sad to look, and what’s happening in San Francisco, and a couple other cities which are run by an extraordinary group of liberal people, I don’t know what they’re thinking but he does see things that are happening in the United States that would probably preclude him from saying how wonderful it is. At the same time, he congratulated me as every other leader of every other country did for what we’ve done economically.”

Dec. 1, 2020

Nov. 30, 2020