Healthruptcy

14 09 2017

healthruptcy

noun   /   health-rupt-cy    /    \ ˈhelth-(ˌ)rəp(t)-sē \

1the quality or state of being forced into bankruptcy due to one catastrophic healthcare incident places a large financial burden on a person or family without the actual capability of paying off the debt. 
2utter failure or impoverishment
 

Example: I literally live in fear of healthruptcy, and am losing sleep over the very real risk of this happening to me. And I actually have health insurance. 

health care bill

American Health Care is Broken

Today Bernie Sanders proposed an aggressively pro-access health care bill, that would expand medicaid to younger age brackets, utilizing a multi-year phase in of expanded coverage. Democrats who opposed similar bills just 8 years ago are now in support. This bill has as much a chance of being approved as Sperry Glacier has of surviving climate change past 2030.

 

What’s changed?

I’m not going to get into all the politics of why the new administration has failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or how the original passing of ACA was a massive compromise by Democrats to appease Republicans, or how- like most brand new programs- there were huge failures in the rolling out of the ACA. Regardless of all that history, the facts are clear. Americans are suffering from skyrocketing rates of Healthruptcy. And most of the rest of us are now stricken with Healthruptcyphobia. 

 

The American Dream…

The fact is, our insurance markets are out of control, which is slaughtering the American Dream. Health care costs, partly because of onerous reporting requirements, have skyrocketed higher than Space X. Most Americans are considered lucky to have ‘catastrophic’ coverage that requires them to pay the first $5,000-20,000 out of pocket before insurance even kicks in, and now, what used to be commonly covered by your employer, is now a new living expense for American families. Six percent of your gross income, on average, goes toward this. (Check back later this week for a separate post on how this has personally affected my family after a tragic car accident).

Or, in my case, I take 16% of my gross monthly income and set it aside for health care costs.

SIXTEEN PERCENT! That’s as much as I pay for housing!

 

The New Normal?

We are the only developed country in the world that does not provide universal health care. And you know what? It’s hard to be healthy, happy, or productive in life when you are constantly living in fear of healthruptcy. Every major study on happiness clearly shows that developed countries where people don’t live in fear of a healthruptcy have the happiest people in the world. (We could have another discussion on why poorer countries are also happier than developed countries, but that’s outside this scope of conversation). 

 

All the countries shown below in green provide free access to health care for all citizens, as a shared cost that all citizens contribute to through taxes:

map insuranceAnd you know what? Happy people also live longer! Win-win!!

 

…But it’s a flawed system!!

Will taxes go up? Absolutely. But will my taxes go up by more than that 16% of my gross income that I’m already paying? Doubtful. Especially once the market adjusts to reflect cost benefits of buying in bulk.

brexit-lemmingsAre there problems with universal health care? Sure! But they are nowhere near as dire as the healthruptcy cliff Americans are heading towards if we don’t move towards a better solution.

And, P.S., here’s the underlying reason why every other developed country already does this:

WE ARE ALL HUMAN.

Would you walk past a child crying with a bloody knee? Would you not help a wounded soldier limp to safety? If you recognize that it’s for the betterment of society to pay taxes to educate our next generation, even when you don’t have kids yourself, then you understand what it means to be part of a community. To deny another living creature the basic ability to be free from pain and stay healthy is just not the right thing to do.

 

As Bernie said:

“Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. Every man, woman and child in our country should be able to access the health care they need regardless of their income. The only long-term solution to America’s health care crisis is a single-payer national health care program.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders

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D.C. Pride

22 06 2017

Back in November, my wife and I were shocked by the results of the U.S. election. We felt numbed and despaired over what would happen in this alternate reality that we must now call our future. When the plans for the Womens March on Washington emerged, we had a brief discussion and decided that, one way or another, we had to be there. ww3

 

Flash forward to January. Shortly after our new POTUS was officially sworn in, there were 7 busloads of invigorated women (and a handful of wonderfully feminist men) departing from a parking lot in Indianapolis Friday evening, . We road through the night, marched with a million other women, then got back on those buses Saturday night to ride home, too energized to sleep. 16143153_10212060536858928_8363833951619441822_n

 

The ensuing response from the 45th administration was comical. Clearly, we had made an impression. Our numbers, as well as our voices, were heard around the world. It felt empowering, in a time of great despair, to know that I WAS THERE. I felt like I was part of history, and no matter how much hot air he blew trying to claim we weren’t, the new president clearly saw us as a powerful force.

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Upon our return to home, I worked hard to maintain a balance of vigilant activism, and healing self-care. It wasn’t easy. This president proceeded to launch a relentless twitterstorm of daily lies, distractions, smoke and mirrors to overwhelm and obfuscate the barrage of controversial bills he pursued. It quickly became clear to me, that we needed to do more to make our voices heard.

 

In this new era of so-called ‘fake news,’ ‘alternate facts’, and a shocking roll back of transparency in our federal administration, we are scared about what secret dealings may be underway. If #45 is good at anything, it’s being secretive, lacking loyalty, and flip-flopping to appease whomever he wants something from. So, despite some supporters’ claims that he was ‘pro-LGBT,’ our community is appalled by the horribly anti-LGBT people he has put into powerful positions.

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Our very own governor of Indiana (aka VP Pence), made headlines in 2015 with his rushed decision to try to institutionalize a religious freedom to discriminate (RFRA), before the business communities outcry forced him to repeal the anti-LGBT law. Our state lost over $60Million in business due to Pence’s irresponsible insistence on pushing his own personal anti-LGBT religious agenda onto our state. No matter what this POTUS thinks personally, he is clearly willing to throw us under the bus if it helps him get something else that he wants. He has no moral scruples.

 

So, I checked my balance of airline miles, and booked us a flight back to D.C., to march with our LGBTA brothers and sisters.

If ever there was a year to celebrate LGBT Pride in our nation’s capitol, this is it.

While Indianapolis has a (surprisingly) amazing pride celebration every year, I expected D.C. Pride would be bigger, especially this year. Not surprisingly, everywhere we went, we met other people who had the same idea we did. Seattle, Mexico City, Detroit, Toronto- we flew in from everywhere to show our strength!! We all showed up in force, flooding and overwhelming the city over several days of festivities, so that #45 could not deny our numbers. Everywhere you walk in D.C., rainbow flags outnumber even American flags, as an otherwise very proud community made itself even more visible. Allies, like our friends who put us up in their guest room for free, also proudly displayed their freshly purchased rainbow gear.

dc pride

Thank you.

Thank you to all our allies, who proudly celebrate with us every Pride, every day, every year; who shed tears and shared hugs when our community suffered the most deadly mass shooting in history; who walk us home when we don’t feel safe; who refuse to ignore overheard homophobic comments; and who stand up to strangers to tell them that it’s not okay to use ‘gay’ as a derogatory adverb.

Thank you to Washington D.C. Your community warms my heart. It makes me feel good knowing that #45 is literally surrounded by LGBT pride, and that our former homophobic governor has to dodge rainbows on every street corner!

Thank you to my LGBTQA brothers and sisters, who were brave enough to out yourselves, to normalize our existence by simply being unapologetically you, to defy the estimations of how many of us there truly are, and who, above all else, demonstrate on a daily basis that we are simply human, just like anyone else. We are still a minority facing intensive legal and personal discrimination, though it’s getting easier, especially in large cities like Indianapolis or Washington D.C. Our visibility is key to our acceptance.

Especially, a huge thank you to my beloved trans folks, for whom the fight is ten times harder; who need our support more than anyone; who teach me constantly how I can improve, to be more aware, to be more considerate, to keep adjusting my language, to be a better ally, and a better human.

Thank you to the rest of you, especially in smaller towns and communities, who don’t personally know any LGBTQA people (that you are aware of), who might be uncomfortable and have questions, but who are willing to learn how to be, what to say (or not), and how to embrace & support people who are different than you in some ways, but just like you in even more ways.

 

Together, we are winning.

If you build LGBT inclusion, we will come out.

 

 

 

 

 





The Year of the Woman-2017

8 03 2017

17191117_1512593198823299_2500333079812462773_nToday is International Women’s Day, and I am wearing my red in solidarity, to raise awareness for all the fights that we are continually fighting. Last year, I remember reading about the massive walk-outs in other countries, how services were disrupted and some places had to shut down because the women of that country refused to be silent, and were determined to demonstrate the importance and power of women in our global economy. I, however, did nothing. 

 

This year, I am doing something about it. And there is one person to thank…

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Our battle has only just begun, but the backlash against our new President (aka #45) is already yielding incredible growth in anti-apathy activism. The momentum of the Women’s March on Washington started with a roar, and is still growing.

 

Lots of people were confused about the goals of the Women’s March on Washington. I know that when you gather 3 million people together, each individual goal will vary. Let’s clarify, at least one perspective.

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I traveled 12 hours on an overnight bus to Washington D.C., not because I wanted to have a rough night of sleep and protest the next president. I came to D.C. to make it clear to the new administration that women are NOT going to sit back and let them ignore us. The president can NOT call us ‘nasty’ or ‘pussy’ or ‘bitch.’ There is no undo button. There is no ‘Back.’

 

I march because I am not willing to let our children live in a society where women are STILL less than. I don’t have kids. But I live in a village, so I (kind of) have dozens of kids. The march in DC only affirmed my faith in humanity. When I boarded the bus (1 of 6) from Indy, I was surprised to see several men. After just a few minutes of conversation, I could see that these people were allies, and self-proclaimed feminists.

 

At 4am, our bus stopped at a rest area in the middle of nowhere, and we filed off of the bus, bleary-eyed and sore. I stood in line waiting for the women’s room for 15 minutes, then realized there was no line for the men’s. Along with a half dozen other ladies, and a couple of men, we relieved ourselves and discussed how silly it is that people worry about who’s in which bathroom. I just had to pee. And no one was arrested.

 

My wife disappeared, and came back telling me about how she randomly ran into 4 women we know who were traveling from northern Indiana, and just happened to be stopping at the same rest stop, for the same 20 minutes in the middle of the night. What a coincidence! On my way back to the bus, I ended up somehow leading an impromptu yoga session for strangers waiting in the queue. They were stretching, and I stopped- as a joke- to share an exaggerated stretch with them… and then a group of 6 of us moved through my regular yoga poses together, before I left to get back on my own bus. It was an unexpectedly beautiful experience!

 

16143153_10212060536858928_8363833951619441822_nWhen we arrived in DC, we were sorely missing our Metro cards, which we ordered weeks in advance, but never received in time. We got to RFK stadium at 7am, but our group decided to enjoy the unseasonably warm (thank you climate change) walk to the national mall. We were lucky for warm, dry weather, and we were grateful. At the mall, things got crazy real fast. I’m not a fan of crowds, but was prepared for the worst. We ended up with a group of 13, all linking hands to try to not be separated. It took at least 30 minutes of pushing through a crushing crowd of hundreds of thousands, but we did end up getting separated.

Once we got into the thick of things, there was really no turning back. We could not move. We could barely turn around. We could not hear or see the presenters. After not too long, the three of us who remained together had to escape to the fringes of the national mall to get a breather, and find some nourishment.

 

The day was intense, amazing, AWESOME! I was inspired by all the people I met along the way. The 80 year old woman who showed up with her 3 adult sons willing to march for women’s rights! The young, early 20s women who marched for their future. I’m proud for this diversity! There were over a million marchers. And no one was arrested.

 

16194931_1438807779535175_1141294287900534876_nFunny coincidences? There were several. The night before the march, our friend, Christine, told us that she decided last minute to also go to DC, from Michigan. She wanted to make plans to meet up, which we weren’t sure about, logistically. We made semi-vague plans for a time but no place, knowing that cell service in the massive crowds would be challenging. As we were marching down Independence, listening to women’s voices chanting, distant drums booming, I heard a squealing sound rapidly growing in intensity. All of the sudden, I saw my friend’s face come crashing into me! Literally- she smashed her forehead into mine as she tripped to hug me, and we almost fell over together, perched on the curb. She had recognized my sign from an earlier Facebook post, and didn’t want to lose sight of us, so she launched into action. I could not believe that she found us. It was LITERALLY a 1 in a million chance. 

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My heart lacks for nothing. In one tiny weekend, I was filled with so many rich experiences. A woman searching for direction? Done. A woman wanting to document our pride flags? Done. A woman who lacked anything to carry, liked my planet poster, and wanted to carry it? Done. Lifelong memories of being a part of something far bigger than myself? You betcha. The fire has been stoked, and I am raring to go! Each and every person I encountered at that march has reaffirmed my passion and commitment.

I hereby declare 2017 the Year of the Woman!

 





Why I March

20 01 2017

dcrainAs I type this, many are weeping at the end of an era. Many others are cheering at a new chapter in American history. The clouds are crying into dark & heavy atmosphere, which feels fitting.

 

But, I’m done crying. I’m done being shocked. I’m done being distracted by another stupid tweet or another mindless meme. I’m done sitting on the sidelines. I’m ready to fight.

 

582b7d491800002c0030e402Let me be clear- I hate politics. I hate filling space in my brain with lists of people I’ve never met and the reasons why I should or should not like them. I hate wondering what a company’s values are every time I lay my plastic card down at the cash register. I’ve never marched in a protest. I’ve never spent hours making poignant and powerful signs. I hate everything to do with politics.

 

This is how I know that we are entering an era that is unprecedented.  People who never before felt compelled to get involved, suddenly feel like they have no choice. And I am one of them. 

 

10436160_891482897601002_2027435962132802493_nTo clarify, I have taken some actions before. I’ve signed countless online petitions to protect rights for my fellow citizens. I’ve worked to educate others on issues of the environment. And I did attend a few rallies to fight for marriage equality, just as we reached the crescendo, from 2013-2015. But I don’t like crowds. I don’t like to be noticed. I don’t like to be the center of attention. So I mostly just looked on quietly, while I proudly watched other people be my voice, carry that sign, shout our chants.

 

tsunami-2I feel like I am a relaxed tourist, sitting on a beach, ignoring reality, and enjoying the sunshine, when all of the sudden I look up to see an enormous tsunami of change preparing to crash down upon me. I can either give up, sit in my chair, and dig my feet into the sand fruitlessly. Or, I can fight. I can stand up, grab that inflatable tube, put my swim goggles on, and take a deep breath in. I’m not going down without a fight. I refuse to drown, no matter how massive the wave may be before me. I’m choosing to go in, and it’s gonna be a wild ride.

 

Tonight, I am getting on that bus. I’m heading to Washington D.C., to our nation’s capitol, and I am going to carry that sign, I’m gonna march in that march, I’m gonna sing every song I know the words to, and I am going to make my voice heard.

 


We ARE what makes this nation great.
And we want to make the next administration damn sure, that we are watching, we are listening, and we are keeping track. We will NOT let this nation get sunk beneath the tsunami. We will fight to survive! No matter how many waves crash down upon us, we will not drown! Instead, we will find more ways to float, we will bring our sisters and brothers up onto our rafts, and we will keep going!

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Parapet PhotographyThis morning, I went to Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee, to see some of my favorite people before we go to D.C. They gave me hugs, and love, and support, and gratitude. As I was sitting there, a man sitting alone at a nearby table was listening to our conversation, and said to me, “Hey, I’d like to show you something,” motioning to his laptop. I walked over and looked over his shoulder as he said, “THIS is why I march,” with tears in his eyes. On the screen was a picture of a 4 year old girl in a Rosie the Riveter shirt.


I am marching because
I cannot let one president set us back 40 years. I march because, although I have no children of my own, I worry for the future of my village’s children. I march for Dean’s daughter. I march because I believe in community, and love, and acceptance. I believe that we ALL must be invested in our shared future, which means caring about not only your neighbors, but those around you that you do not know, may not understand, may not recognize, or may not even like. No matter what, a rising tide raises ALL ships, and I refuse to sit by and watch someone else drown.

 

I am marching because:

Climate change IS REAL.

Love is LOVE.

Women’s rights ARE HUMAN rights.

Black Lives MATTER. 

No lives are ILLEGAL.

And Kindness is FREE. 

 

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Trump: Is it not the ‘End of the World’?

12 11 2016

Half of America is reeling from a gut punch. A quarter is celebrating what they hope will mean positive economic change. The remainder is ripping off their hoods in joyous devolution to a segregated America.
Many, many of my friends, allies, and acquaintances are scared. This is not, “oh shit, how did Bush get re-elected?” scared. This is far deeper than politics. This is, “will I be safe walking home now?” scared.
racists-trump-followers

What’s terrifying is the sheer volume of very real and probable actions that the president-elect claims to enact “on day one.” Add to that the immediate physical threats from some violent and hateful Trump followers (no, not all Trump followers are violent or hateful, but some are, and that’s enough to change my life), with horrific stories pouring in daily. It’s overwhelming, trying to comprehend all the ways that this might negatively impact my life. I could write an entirely separate post on risks to dark-skinned people, women, non-Christians, LGBTQ folks, etc. But I’m also scared for us all, globally, and you should read on to understand why.

 

We don’t really know what will happen once Trump steps into the white house. He can change his mind and do the opposite of what he proposed (which, in many cases, was very vague). I believe that this former democrat was actually much more liberal than he purported himself to be in order to get elected. With zero record of any public office, we have absolutely nothing to go on other than his own words- which contradicted themselves countless times depending on his audience.

 

Much of what will happen over the next four years will, indeed, be infuriating.We will fight. We will march. We won’t sit idly by and watch our rights flushed down the toilet. But with so many fights, how do we prioritize our efforts?

Global Detriment

Many things that Trump has threatened to do can be undone in four years. Many cannot be effectively undone. Most of them will impact America directly, and foremost. But there is another concern that, for me, as a sustainability expert, I find the most troubling.

What Trump plans to do to our planet will be devastatingly irreversible.

If this next president manages to royally fuck up our country, I can always move, because I’m lucky enough to have a college education, relatively little debt, and diverse skill sets. The rest of you struggling to make ends meet are stuck here, suckas! However, if his actions reflect his rhetoric, Trump is slated to make several bold, disastrous moves for the planet. Last time I checked, we don’t have a Planet B, so…. FUUUUCK.

What am I talking about? Let me tell you. For the sake of brevity, I won’t regurgitate the countless pages written by experts on these matters, but a quick google search should fill you in if you doubt any of my facts. And if you’re pretty sure it’s all a hoax by the Chinese government… well… you’re probably qualified to hold a position in Trump’s cabinet, so congrats!

 

#1- Paris Climate Treaty

paris-climateTrump has promised to back out of this multilateral agreement- involving 196 countries- in which the U.S. committed to carbon emissions reductions in order to curb climate change. This type of agreement takes decades to get all the right players at the table. There’s a very delicate balance, as industrialized nations point the finger at third world countries that are growing ans aspiring to be like us. “Why do we have to cut emissions so much but they are worse polluters than us?!” (Answer: because we’ve been polluting like this for over a hundred years already, we are better equipped to make changes, and it’s our fault that we are in this climate mess to begin with).

We are the world’s second-largest greenhouse gas polluter, after China.

Once the U.S. backs out, it’s likely that countries like Venezuela and India will have a fervor of fresh debate over what their commitments should be. This will stall the progress further, which will delay emissions reductions, and we will progress even more rapidly towards the climate cliff- the point at which our atmospheric CO2 equivalent levels hit a point of no return. We are already dangerously teetering on this edge as we speak. We have no more time to debate this, as summers keep warming, oceans keep rising, coral reefs keep dying, floods and droughts keep devastating farmers, and our costs continue to rise from rapidly increasing insurance claims.

This year is on track to be the hottest on record, blasting past the previous records set in 2015 and 2014.

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#2- Federal Oversight

child-laborRemember when the industrial revolution started? Ah, those glory days! There were no regulations back then, and companies prospered! Workers came home coated in soot, inside their lungs too, which is why they commonly died in their 50s and 60s. But government kept out of American lives! Back at home, the kids played outside in fields leaching chemicals from the factory downtown, frolicking in the polluted river next to mysteriously dying fish and frog carcasses. This was before we had a word for cancer, so many people just died of “unknown causes.” Once Trump comes to power, he is expected to appoint a new head of the EPA who chooses to ignore 98% of all scientists warning about climate change. Trump has vowed to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency “in almost every form.” He would need congress approval to completely abolish the EPA.

At least we’ll still have a Department of Energy, right? With a darling of the industry- McKenna- at that helm, there surely is zero risk for corruption, of course. Thank goodness we elected someone who has no personal business interests that would conflict with U.S. policy moves. We don’t need check and balances anyway, right? Companies always have our best interest at heart, always do the right thing, never focus solely on profits, and don’t require any oversight, ever.

 

#3- Clean Power Plan

Fortune magazine is also concerned about Trump’s plans for the world. Trump vows to repeal ALL executive orders made by President Obama. All of them, regardless of which ones are actually successfully improving our lives. Among those, is the Clean Power Plan.

trump-coalThe plan is projected to cut United States power plant emissions 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. “If Trump steps back from that, it makes it much less likely that the world will ever meet that target, and essentially ensures we will head into the danger zone,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which produces global reports on the state of climate science. (By the way, if you’re really concerned about American energy & the economy, you might want to better understand the negative implications of Trump’s Mexican wall & NAFTA threats)

According to the New York Times, he “could target the rules by appointing an industry-friendly justice to the Supreme Court and then refusing to defend the plan when it goes before the court.

He could also direct the E.P.A. to reissue the plan to be extremely friendly to industry. Such a move would also be subject to lawsuits by environmental advocates, which would further drag out the process. And in concert with congressional Republicans, he could decimate the E.P.A.’s budget, crippling its rule-making capacity.”

What about the coal miners? I hate to tell you this, but, much like VHS tape manufacturers, your job is becoming obsolete. Coal has been declining consistently due to market pressures, so if you’re pissed about layoffs, blame the free market. coal_employment_1985_to_2014

#4- Federal Lands

Trump has promised to open up federally protected lands to oil drilling, and pretty much anything else that will make a buck. He probably has no idea what a “proven reserve” is, or the fact that nobody actually knows how much oil is really beneath the snow in Alaska. But he’s willing to sell it to the highest bidder. If that runs dry, he’ll look elsewhere. Big Bend National Park in Texas is 801,163 acres, surely there must be some oil in there somewhere, right? Oil drilling won’t possibly leach into the Rio Grande, will it? No? Let’s try Glacier National Park in Montana next then. What endangered species?

alaskagallery-mendenhall2015So if you ever thought you’d enjoy seeing these expansive parcels of pristine wilderness, you better get there quick. Between melting glaciers and massive oil rigs waiting in the wings to move in, change is upon us. You might want to tell the caribou too.

There is good news. It’s not the end of the world.

Or at least, not the planet. Even the worst case scenario of climate change will only make the planet uninhabitable, so humans could die off, much like dinosaurs did, but not for a hundred years or so. Earth will still keep spinning, with or without us.

The good news? All international companies will continue to reduce their emissions. Most American companies that are already reducing their emissions through energy efficiency projects have realized that emissions reductions = cost savings, and will continue to pursue reductions.

And the shift away from coal has already happened. Low natural gas prices mean that electricity production from coal is cost prohibitive, and power companies are already planning their 5 year transitions to alternative energy sources including natural gas.Killing the Clean Power Plan won’t stop the business trends, but it will slow some of them.

What can we do?

First, self-care. You cannot fight without internal strength, which comes from rest, healthy habits, and love. Then, donate time or money to action groups with legal recourse. ACLU, Hoosier Environmental Council, etc.

Stay tuned in. Sign petitions. March in peaceful protests. Raise awareness.

The challenge is that there are so many alarming changes coming, it’s likely that some will simply get swept under the rug, missed by media while many larger stories dominate the news. Know these 4, pay attention, and fight like hell. We only have one planet, and if we fuck this up, there is no back up plan.earth





Trump v. Clinton: The Fear of Bad Temperament in Foreign Relations

4 11 2016

Our Facebook feed has been filled with memes about controversial policies that have everyone up in arms leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The candidates themselves are being busted during debates for saying non-truths (aka ‘lies’). And while these political statements may amount to mostly bravado, with no political will to actually pass any of these ridiculous measures, there are some truly scary ramifications that will come from our next President of the United States.

Believe it or not, the U.S., while being fairly isolated geographically, no longer lives in an insular world. What we do, who we threaten, which international efforts we support, all has dramatic impacts on our national security and our local economy. This is the 21st century, folks. We live in a rapidly changing, completely global economy, and there’s no turning back. We cannot simply say, “eh, we don’t like you guys, and we are going to stop talking to you and just pretend you don’t exist.”

 

Besides alienating ourselves from our international allies, there is a far greater threat to having a leader with no foreign policy experience or knowledge. It’s only a matter of time, I suspect, before “the best temperament” gets us in deep waters with political enemies who possess very real weapons of mass destruction. There’s a reason why we value the term “diplomat.” The leaders of this free nation must be calm, cool, and collected, and capable of seeing the long term ramifications of off the cuff comments about foreign dictators. POTUS simply cannot speak their mind without any filter. This is NOT a tit for tat world we live in, when it comes to foreign policy. Our leaders need to have skin as thick as bark, to choose what is right for our country, not to impulsively react in defense of their personally bruised ego. This has been a long standing element of civil international discourse, and it is not something that can be easily compromised.

 

Imagine, a world in which the President of the United States gets his feelings hurt & lashes out vindictively every time someone disagrees with his approach…

 

england

 

russia

north-korea

ww3





The Rise of the Narcissist

15 10 2016

This election cycle- unlike any other in U.S. history- truly terrifies me. Not because I’m scared that some ‘other party’ will win (I believe in issues & values, not political parties). I’m scared because there is a man running- successfully- to be the ruler of the free world, who is a textbook case of narcissism.

Believe me, I should know. I grew up with one in my household.

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1-181I want to be clear- my dad is nowhere near as insidious as Donnie Trump. My own father never claimed that, “If [Kelly] weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” That would be beyond gross, right?!? I’m sure what Donnie meant was “look at what a fabulous specimen I created- my genes are THE BEST.” Every narcissist is unique, and being in a relationship with one is extremely dangerous to their victims. In my own case, I was born into this situation, and his subtle and persistent comments about my physical appearance and eating habits left a lasting impression on the adolescent version of myself. I’ve learned to recover from this toxic relationship, and America can too. 

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to be involved with a narcissist, you know how difficult and manipulative they can be. They are masters of deception and mind games. They have a super power that enables them to somehow make everything someone else’s fault. They are always “the best” at everything they do. They have to be the best, or else life isn’t worth living. And they aren’t just good at deceiving others. They believe their own lies. 

s-l300Simply by stating that his goal is to “Make America Great Again,” Donald Trump is already asserting that America is a pathetic, disgusting loser, and should be so lucky to have him as president. We are already being collectively pushed into the position of a narcissist’s victim, which can be a sticky web to pull out of, but it is possible.

 

We all have some healthy levels of narcissistic traits necessary for survival, but for about 1% of the population, unusually high levels develop into a pathological form known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).  For actual Narcissists,  the “patient overestimates his or her abilities and has an excessive need for admiration and affirmation.”

So how do you know when your presidential candidate (or another person pervasive in your life) is suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder? Hotchkiss identified the seven deadly sins of narcissism. See if any of these sound familiar:[9]

  1. Shamelessness: Shame is the feeling that lurks beneath all unhealthy narcissism, and the inability to process shame in healthy ways.
  2. Magical thinking: Narcissists see themselves as perfect, using distortion and illusion known as magical thinking. They also use projection to “dump” shame onto others.
  3. Arrogance: A narcissist who is feeling deflated may “reinflate” their sense of self-importance by diminishing, debasing, or degrading somebody else.
  4. Envy: A narcissist may secure a sense of superiority in the face of another person’s ability by using contempt to minimize the other person or their achievements.
  5. Entitlement: Narcissists hold unreasonable expectations of particularly favorable treatment and automatic compliance because they consider themselves special. Failure to comply is considered an attack on their superiority, and the perpetrator is considered an “awkward” or “difficult” person. Defiance of their will is a narcissistic injury that can trigger narcissistic rage.
  6. Exploitation: Can take many forms but always involves the exploitation of others without regard for their feelings or interests. Often the other person is in a subservient position where resistance would be difficult or even impossible. Sometimes the subservience is not so much real as assumed.
  7. Bad boundaries: Narcissists do not recognize that they have boundaries and that others are separate and are not extensions of themselves. Others either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Those who provide narcissistic supply to the narcissist are treated as if they are part of the narcissist and are expected to live up to those expectations. In the mind of a narcissist, there is no boundary between self and other.
Does this describe Donald? Are these traits ‘unbecoming’ of a president?
Surprisingly charming. Narcissists often do not initially come across as ‘bad’ people. In fact, they are quite charming! They are verbose storytellers, eagerly fabricating any version of truth necessary to twirl their audience around their little fingers. They will say anything to win you over, regardless of whether or not they believe it. The most important thing is that you believe in them and their abilities. Donald uses dominating words, with bold, overarching statements, spoken repetitively and with extreme enthusiasm. And it works. 
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Excessive vanity. He truly, genuinely, believes that he is the most handsome person around, and everyone is attracted to him. For this reason, narcissists also do not age well, struggling with severe depression once they can no longer believe the lies they are telling themselves about their own perfect appearance. In 2004, Trump told the Daily News: “All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

 

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Willing to change  his opinions only when required to be liked (or right). A narcissist doesn’t just care what people think, they NEED to be liked- though they will never admit that. And if that requires flip-flopping on an issue, so be it (as long as the change of heart was due to their own reasons, not anyone else’s). According to the UK’s Telegraph, Donnie Trump, “having previously supported the pro-choice lobby, Trump has now changed his stance on abortion to fit in with the Republican party.”

 

All of his accomplishments are attributed to him alone. Narcissists don’t think they need anybody else, which is good since they have no real friends. Even if you think you are their friend, they will drop you like a hot potato the second you question them. They will rarely acknowledge others who helped them to get to where they are, instead making you feel like you should be grateful just to have had the opportunity to work with them. “I alone can fix it.” –Donald Trump in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, July 21, 2016 cl6bcblwcaaxp1w

 

Distorted sense of reality. Narcissists think they are the best of the best. Everything they do is perfect, and they shit bricks of solid gold. And if you don’t believe them, it’s because you’re too stupid to understand (you’re clearly inferior, duh!). “I will be so good at the military your head will spin.” — “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” 2015donald-trump-narcissist

It’s never their own fault. This one took me years of psychology and sociology courses to figure out. In my own life, my father did something that involved repeated lies to hide, and when he was caught in his lies, he denied it, refused to apologize, and refused to admit fault. I poured open my soul to him, describing in great detail why his actions hurt me so deeply, thinking that the combination of my extensively laid out logic and the tears streaming down my face would lead to his epiphany and an apology. It didn’t. He just got mad at me for blaming him. I’ve since realized that I will never, ever hear a real apology from a narcissist, since they truly believe they’ve never done anything wrong. They are infallible. Similarly, in the first debate, Donald worked hard to turn every opportunity into a chance to place blame on Secretary Clinton, resulting in this exchange:
Clinton: “I had a feeling by the end of this evening that I’d be blamed for everything.”
Trump: “Why not?”
So, America, you are in a toxic relationship. It’s not too late to get out. Don’t blame yourself (although the Narcissist WILL blame you). Don’t try to rationalize that their good qualities outweigh the bad (no amount of cocktail party stories will make up for the emotional abuse). Don’t try reasoning with them (no amount of logic can penetrate such an overly inflated skull). And don’t tell people, “I’d leave him, but…” Just like your mom taught you as a kid, it’s okay to disagree with someone, but it’s not okay to badmouth other people, and you shouldn’t put up with someone who puts you down.
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You ARE great. You ARE beautiful. You ARE smart. And you are worthy of someone better. You deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Go vote for someone who treats you right, and let’s stand up to our narcissistic abusers like Donnie Trump.

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