POLITICAL DEMENTIA

I have to go to the hospital today for a brain scan. Presumably they will discover I have some. Brains, that is. Meanwhile, I will again be missing from today’s action. Life keeps getting in the way of blogging. 


I know a bunch of people older than me who have developed dementia. As the problem has gotten worse, they have drifted from liberal, middle-of-the-road tolerance to far right I-hate-everyone dementia. I want to know why people move to the far right when they are overcome by dementia.

What provokes a response from them which would have been unthinkable to these same people in earlier years? Why don’t they adopt socialism? Or radical progressive liberalism? Communism? Scientology?

Not demented. Loves everyone except the neighbors. Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was suggested to me by Martha that this is because old people remember Communist threats … but these are people who can’t remember the location of their refrigerator or whether those people are their children or complete strangers. Why would they remember Communism as opposed to some other miscellaneous type of government? Is there some law that says the demented must become right-wingers? Some of them become downright fascists. They may have been liberal before, but suddenly, they hate all the folks they never hated in the past.

Does dementia destroy the ability of the brain to love or tolerate others? Does this mean that an awful lot of people in this country are … demented?

That would certainly explain a lot, don’t you think?

CONSPIRACIES ON STEROIDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve been watching the Republicans trying to convince themselves and the world, yet again, that 2 + 2 = 5. An overtly political Republican Congressional memo was released recently that clearly states “A”. However, it is being touted as proof that “A” is false. Most of the country has not been taken in, but a majority of Republicans have been.

Republican Congressional Memo released to the public

This is just the most recent example of a Republican misinformation campaign. This one is designed to prove that the entire intelligence community, all 17 agencies in the government, are all biased, corrupt and working together to overthrow the Trump government. This is a ludicrous, far-fetched and dangerous idea.

But so was the popular right-wing conspiracy theory about the Newtown School massacre. The conpiracists claimed that the massacre never really happened. Actors were hired to make it look real. It was faked to make Second Amendment gun advocates look bad. Hard to believe that people actually bought into this craziness. But many Republicans did.

Whatever happened to the rubric, ‘When you hear hooves, assume horses, not zebras’? What kind of person is willing, if not eager, to believe the convoluted conspiracy theory rather than the simple reality? Do you have to be somewhat paranoid yourself to believe this shit? Can you just be a low information person who never goes anywhere near critical thought?

I think you have to believe that people are horribly nefarious and at least a little bit out to get you. But you also have to so desperately want to cling to your beliefs that you will buy into anything that allows you to keep them, untarnished.

I strongly believe what I believe. But I critically evaluate the information I’m given both for and against my positions. I would get no comfort from a flimsy, outlandish theory that could not be verified, just because it bolstered my world view. I would analyze it and reject it as false or unsubstantiated. And move on.

So we’re back to what makes me reject the ridiculous theory and others embrace it. Maybe it’s that my most fervent belief is in the existence of absolute facts. I believe that there is a way to determine, definitively, what is real and what isn’t. Maybe others have a looser definition of ‘truth’ than I do. Maybe others don’t care if something is true once they choose to believe it.

Have you ever watched “America’s Got Talent”, or any other talent show? There are people out there who genuinely think they are great singers or dancers, or whatever. And they are, in fact, horrible. So horrible that they get booed by a huge audience and eviscerated by a panel of judges. Yet most of these performers leave the stage believing that everyone is wrong about them. That nobody sees or ‘gets’ their true talent.

That may be the answer to my question. People have a great capacity for self-deception. Particularly when there is a deep seeded need to perpetuate that deception.

People don’t want to be bothered informing themselves and finding actual facts to back up their beliefs. They just want to ‘feel’ that they know what they’re talking about, that they understand the world around them. Most important, people want to ‘believe’ that they are 100% right about their beliefs.

Everyone wants to think they are smart and have a good sense of humor. So they just ‘believe’ it. And they live happily ever after.

LIVING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Carrie Fisher was Bi-polar. To her credit, she talked about her condition openly and honestly. She brought attention to the disorder and tried to reduce the stigma associated with this, as well as other, mental illnesses. It’s sad that we need celebrities with diseases to increase public awareness about their given malady. But mental illnesses are inherently hard to diagnose, treat and talk about. So as long as people get educated about them, I guess it doesn’t matter how or why.

Carrie Fisher

I have an unwanted and involuntary expertise in Bi-Polar Disorder. Both my ex-husband and my son had/have the disease (my ex is deceased). Each of them manifested the condition differently – my ex was mostly manic and my son was mostly depressed. One of the most difficult aspects of this disorder is the fact that it can look so different in different people. This makes it much harder to diagnose because there is no one size fits all set of symptoms to identify.

This makes it harder on the families too, who don’t always get the support they need from the medical community. It also makes it easier for the Bi-polar person to deny that they have an identifiable syndrome that requires treatment. This denial is very common in Bi-Polar Disease. Also common is the refusal to stay on medication. These factors just add to the difficulties and pain of the family members.

The families of Bi-polar sufferers feel different from other families. We know that other families’ lives are not fraught with the unpredictability, volatility and often violence (emotional if not physical) that ours are. We seem to be the only ones living on a roller coaster. We feel inferior, ashamed and isolated. Family members, me included, try to ‘cover up’ the problem and cover for the often inappropriate behavior of the bi-polar loved one. I made countless excuses for the actions and absences of my ex. My daughter tried to avoid the issue altogether by going to friends’ houses and never having friends come to ours when Daddy was ‘off’ or ‘acting up’.

When you live with a bi-polar person, you wonder what’s wrong with you that you live like this. You wonder why you aren’t like other people. Your ego and self- esteem suffer. This is particularly devastating for kids. My kids are in their 30’s and are still dealing with these issues. They are moving on from some questionable relationship choices they made in the past because of their lingering psychological demons.

On the other hand, denial and defending are also big parts of life with a B-polar person. While married to my ex, after one of his particularly bad manic episodes, I was advised by psychiatrists to go to a program for abused spouses. I thought that they were crazy. I was in therapy already and I was clearly not in that pathetic category! That label did not apply to me! Of course I didn’t go. I often wonder what would have been different in my life if I had received the support and empowerment I needed at that point in time. I now realize that the whole family needs support and treatment specifically designed to deal with the mentally ill family member. My individual therapy was not enough.

Today, there are claims that too many people are being labeled ADHD or Bi-Polar; that it’s become a psychiatric fad to assign mental illness labels to people and ply them with drugs. To me, it’s better to spread a wide net to catch all the people with serious issues and get them the treatment they need. You’re not going to be misdiagnosed if your behavior is perfectly within the range of normal. Something is going on if a doctor thinks you might be Bi-polar! If it’s not manic depression, then it certainly is something else that needs attention and possibly medication! Sometimes the only way to come up with an effective treatment is by experimenting.

I became very pro-active psychiatrically. My daughter started to have panic attacks at age eleven and I got her on medication immediately. She is grateful to me that she never had to go through the torture of years of horrible anxiety symptoms. She would not have been able to function effectively through school and in jobs without her anxiety meds.

I couldn’t get my ex to stay on meds and get a stable life. But at least I got my daughter on medication early so she had fewer issues getting through life than she would have without my early intervention. At least I have one psychiatric success story to brag about!

IT’S EXPONENTIAL, DR. WATSON – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m not the first person to see this, but have any of you noticed that 2018 seems like 2017 on steroids? January is barely half over, and it seems like over a half-year has gone by. In 2017, we experienced “Trump Time.”

A crazy story that would have normally lasted a week or two, or maybe even a month, lasted for two days, tops. We were reeling from the insane shit the Shithead-in-Chief did on a Monday, only to completely forget about it because he did something even crazier on Tuesday. And that’s how it went all year.

But something happened, or seemed to happen on January 1, 2018. The crazy went into overdrive. I say ‘seemed’ to happen because his turning the crazy up to eleven was inevitable.

Why? Well, it’s because of the word exponential. Most of us know what it means, but I think most of us don’t really understand it.


ex·po·nen·tialˌekspəˈnen(t)SH(ə)l/

adjective

1. (Of an increase) becoming more and more rapid. “The social security budget was rising at an exponential rate.”

2. MATHEMATICS – Of, or expressed by, a mathematical exponent, for example, “an exponential curve.”


More specifically, we need to understand exponential growth, something that gets bigger and bigger, or grows faster and faster over time.

It’s hard for humans to think like that because we are hard-wired to think linearly. It’s easy for us to understand it takes a guy two hours to paint a room, so he can paint two rooms in four hours. Commonsense, right? That kind of commonsense  is part of our DNA. It helped us survive in the old caveman days. Back then, we had to be able to figure out in a hurry how fast we had to run to get to that tree before the really large saber tooth tiger caught up to us and ate us for lunch.

The best example of exponential growth today is in technology. Like, say, computers. There’s a thing called “Moore’s Law.” It says the processing power of computers doubles and the cost is cut in half every 12 to 18 months.

That was true, but, it is a perfect example of linear thinking.  In reality, the time that computers double in power and drop in cost is taking less and less time. Science and all knowledge, is growing at an accelerated rate.

It has always been that way. The increase in human knowledge has always been on an exponential curve, but the way the curve works didn’t make it seem that way until recently. On an exponential curve, things grow at a steady rate for a long time. Then suddenly, it hits a tipping point and everything begins to race along much faster.

Think about it. Humans have been on this planet as Homo sapiens for a few million years. Most of that time, we spent surviving. And throwing rocks at each other. Then, about 12,000 years ago, we stopped roaming and settled down. Although we still threw rocks at each other.

We created agriculture and civilization. Why did we do that? Because we discovered beer. I know this sounds like a joke, but it’s true. There’s a great documentary called “How Beer Saved The World.’  It’s fascinating, but that’s another blog for another day.

Basically, we had a choice. We could continue to wander around and throw rocks at each other. Or,  we could stay home and make more beer. And throw rocks at each other. It wasn’t a hard decision.Think of all the science — all the knowledge — mankind figured out starting 12,000 years ago up until 1900. By the 1900’s the industrial revolution was well underway. Cities were lit by gas and some places, by electricity. People and industry moved on steam-powered trains. The internal combustion engine was in production.

All this knowledge doubled between 1900 and the 1960’s. From  horse-drawn carriages to putting a man on the moon.

Well, that was fast.

The knowledge of mankind doubled again between 1960 and 1980, then doubled again by 1990.

Can we remember when smartphones didn’t exist? When iPads didn’t exist? They’ve been around for a while, right? Actually, the iPhone came out June 29, 2007. That was just ten years ago. The iPad was released on April 3, 2010. Just seven and a half years ago!

When my step son was diagnosed with kidney disease, he was told he would need a transplant. I asked his doctor if an artificial kidney would soon be available. He said, yes, but not for at least 50 years.

A few years later, he received the transplant and Ellin was the donor. After the surgery was over I asked the same doctor the same question. His answer? “Oh yeah, they will probably make a kidney from his own stem cells. Maybe five, ten years from now. ”

That was five years ago. Today, they’re talking about making kidneys with a 3D printer.

What happened?

Mankind reached the tipping point of that exponential curve. We’re at the point where the curve ends and the line goes straight up. This is when our knowledge quite literally explodes.

We’re way over to the right.

This is not something I thought of myself. There is a fascinating book by futurist Robert Kurzweil, called “The Singularity Is Near.” I highly recommend it.


What does any of this have to do with our Toddler-In-Chief? A lot. In particular, with his mental illness. Literally hundreds of psychiatrists and psychologists are screaming at the top of their lungs that this nut job is, well, nuts. and getting worse.

They have collectively pointed out that the stress of the job is accelerating his illness. He’s not merely getting crazier at warp speed. He has gone all the way to plaid!

You can see it yourself and you don’t need a Ph.D either.

Every interview he gives is a trip further down the rabbit hole. His last few interviews have gone from, “Bizarre” to “Unhinged” to “Insane” to “Insanely insane.” Read the transcript of his last interview with The Wall Street Journal. It was a literal word salad. Not a single sentence was complete or made any sense.

I just watched a news conference where the doctor that supposedly just examined Trump said he passed a cognitive mental test and he got all 30 questions right!

Really? The questions were things like “name four animals” and “point out what 3:15 looks like on a clock.” Wow, so the President is sane because he recognizes a cow, a pig, a dog,a rhinoceros and a pussy. He also knows when it’s quarter after three.

Short red hand was. at 3 and is now. moving toward 4. Long blue hand. has moved. to 15.

Do the same test next month.

I think Grandpa is not just losing it. He’s losing it faster and faster each day. It’s time to take away the keys to his car. Remove the big nuclear button from his desk. Get him into the memory care unit at a good nursing home. Hell, you can designate Mar-A-Lago as his official nursing home and lock him in his room. It’s only the middle of January as I write this and I’m hoping we make it to February. Last year, at this time we were hoping to make it to 2020. The month isn’t even over yet and he’s managed to shut down the government. Maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I apologize for not finding more humor in all of this. I try, but sometimes it just ain’t there. So, to make up for it. Here are two dogs playing “I Got Your Nose!”.

THINGS WORTH FIGHTING FOR – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My first marriage was not what you would call good. My ex, Larry, was bipolar. He would have periods of ‘normalcy’ followed by periods of worse and worse paranoia, hair-trigger anger, irrationality plus erratic and hostile behavior. In this state, he was excessively critical and demeaning to me and to the kids. I was told by psychiatric professionals that I was an abused spouse.

One of our few wedding photos (don’t ask!)

Thirteen years after we were married, Larry was diagnosed as bipolar and put on Lithium. It worked well and gave us a year or two at a time of calm and predictability. But then Larry would stop taking his medication and would devolve again into a volatile, irritable manic state. This would also last a year or so before we could get him back on his meds.

Larry and me the year he was diagnosed

But you know the saying “When it was good, it was very, very good, but when it was bad, it was awful”. That was my marriage. I stayed for twenty-five years because the good times were really good between us. I lived in hope that Larry would stay on his medication and banish the bad times forever. Unfortunately, that never happened.

Larry and I had crazy chemistry. Off the charts. We had a serious connection – one that even survived divorce. Even while we were negotiating the terms of our divorce, our divorce lawyer believed that Larry still had ‘Svengali like’ influence over me. He said that it was clear that we were still bonded in some way.

Larry and me in 1994

We would tease each other and banter like in Cary Grant movies. Or like Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. We were always holding hands or had our arms around each other. We always slept holding each other, even when we were fighting.

Larry wanted to be with me as much as possible. He took me on his frequent business trips as often as possible. After we had kids, we took the kids along so we could be together.

Skiing on a frequent business trip

Something odd happened to us late in our marriage that illustrates our positive connection. It was Mother’s Day, 1998, three months before Larry left me in a manic rage for the last time. Larry had left me twice before and I had taken him back. Not this time. The kids and I just couldn’t go through these ups and downs any more.

We were in a New York City furniture store, doing a major shopping. We had to buy furniture for Larry’s small New York apartment and there was a big Mother’s Day sale. We spent four hours in the store, working with a salesman, let’s call him James. Larry was always very involved with every decorating decision throughout our marriage. We designed our house in Connecticut together (with the help of an architect) and we did all our decorating together.

Larry and me eight months before we split up

As usual, Larry wanted to buy high price items (spending lots of money can be part of the manic phase of bipolar disorder). I was trying to get him to focus on more reasonable choices. We cajoled, we teased, we persuaded, we argued. But all in good humor. I ended up letting Larry get one pricey chair (which became the dog’s chair, of course!) and he compromised on other items. It was a productive day.

When we were sitting with James getting ready to pay the bill, James said something that blew us away. He said “I’ve been doing this job for twenty years. I work with couples all day, every day. And I’ve got to say, I’ve rarely seen a couple who get along as well as you do and who work together as well as you do.”

Larry and me in 1996

Larry and I looked at each other and laughed. Larry was in one of his up and down periods and all was not well. But we also realized that James was right; we did have something special. And we were about to throw it all away.

This story is bittersweet for me. It confirms objectively something our close friends already knew – that Larry and I could be very good together. But it also points up how sad it was that this relationship was destroyed by mental illness. I stayed for twenty-five years because there really were things worth fighting for.

WE HAVE TO GET AHEAD OF THIS GUY. NO REALLY — WE DO! BY TOM CURLEY

This post was originally written months ago.
It should have been topical and no longer relevant. 
Instead, it’s even more relevant.


In almost all TV cop shows and movies, the bad guy, usually a mad psychotic, a mad genius or a mad, psychotic genius, is always one step ahead of the good guys.

sdsouthard.com
sdsouthard.com

For at least the first half of the show, the good guys keep getting caught in the bad guy’s traps.

fantendo.wikia.com
fantendo.wikia.com

Or (and?) the bad guy keeps escaping at the last minute.

imgur.com
imgur.com

Inevitably, at some point (usually about half way through the show) the chief good guy says: “We’re constantly playing catch up. We gotta get ahead of this guy.”

This is when someone on the team, usually the brilliant but nerdy computer expert, will find a tidbit of information which leads the good guys to finally capture or kill the bad guy. The end. Stay tuned after the break for scenes from next week’s episode.

After a year of 45’s rule … it seems impossible, but has it really been just a year? It feels like a lifetime!

countercurrentnews.com
countercurrentnews.com

We’ve learned a few things.

  1. As bad as we all thought 45 would be, it’s a hundred times worse.
  2. 45 is not going to “pivot” or become “Presidential.” He is actually doing every crazy thing he said he was going to do during the campaign. No matter how stupid, counter-productive, or dangerous.

We learned who the President really was. Steve Bannon. Or was. Now … I have no idea.

thevilliagesuntimes.com

Bannon was the one writing all these insane executive orders. For months, the guy running the country (until he either quit or was fired or some bizarre combination of both) was an avowed White Supremacist who stated he wanted to blow up the government. He wants a world-wide “Crusade” against Muslims and he considers himself “The Thomas Cromwell to the court of the Tudors.”

bbc.co.uk
bbc.co.uk

Yeah, he really said that. I’m surprised he knew who Thomas Cromwell was. I wonder if he also knew what happened to Mr. Cromwell.

tudors.wikia.com

The U.S. government has been turned into a very, very bad reality show.

The American press has been declared “The Opposition Party” and the enemy of the state. Fake news. Or as I believe they are going to be, “The Good Guys”.

In this new, very bad, Reality Show, we’re early in the first half of the show. The media are constantly playing catch up. They have to react to every insane tweet. Every blatant lie. Every horrific executive order. Before they can fully expose how crazy the last tweet or lie is, another one comes out.

This is not the way to handle these chuckle heads. The press has to get ahead of these guys. And we don’t need a brilliant but nerdy computer genius to do it. The press hasn’t caught on yet, but they are the people driving this administration.  It’s been reported extensively that 45 has the attention span of a puppy.

dogtime.com
dogtime.com

He obsessively watches cable news.  He then goes off on a twitter rant over whatever it is that he sees.


This is how you get ahead of him. Don’t react to the latest tweet with hours of dissection.  Report it and keep going back to a single narrative, a single point. And that point is: “Is The President of the United States Mentally Ill?”

It’s a question being raised more and more all over the world.

“There’s something wrong with this guy.”

“This is not normal.”

“This guy is nuts.”

brietbart.com
brietbart.com

This is a valid question, the kind of thing cable news is really good at. Cable news spends much more time putting pundits and “experts” on the air to blather over the latest tweet or the last lie than actually doing investigative reporting. Let’s start getting experts and pundits talking about this for real.

The current resident of the Oval Office is a textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (yes, you can have multiple personality disorders at the same time).

kathyescobar.com

This is something both my wife and I are intimately familiar with. Both of our exes suffered from the former. Here is a test sample question from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The DSM-V.

DSM-V

Any of that sound familiar?

Now, when the press starts asking these questions, the blowback from the administration will be intense. Which is great. Why are they so defensive? Does the President have something to hide? I personally don’t know, but I hear lots of people saying  that the President is loony as a tick. (See, we can do that trick too). But in this case

IT’S A VALID QUESTION!!

The President has to have an annual physical exam — which he never did, by the way — so. why not a psychological exam?  This needs to become the narrative of the day. Every day. From now on. No matter what “President Bannon” orders. Whatever Cheesy McCheese Head tweets, we have to keep coming back to this topic.

IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES MENTALLY ILL?

It’ll work.

We gotta get ahead of this guy.

NUTS, NUT-JOBS, AND NUTTER BUTTER – BY TOM CURLEY

Back in August I posted a blog called Normal, Normalizing And Normalizing Nuts. It was about how we all have to start recognizing that our “Nut-Ball In Chief” is well, nuts.

I pointed out that it was really important the press and the media focus on this fact like a laser beam. Every story about our NBIC (I’m too lazy to keep typing Nut-Ball In Chief), or coverage of his latest NBIC Tweet should always go back to the same topic. “THIS GUY IS MENTALLY ILL!!”

I’ve said this before and I will keep saying it. When Grandpa’s mind starts to slip and he  shows signs of dementia, we take away his car keys. We hire nurses to come into his home to help him. Or we put him in a nursing home. But what is the one thing we don’t do? WE DON’T PUT GRANDPA IN THE OVAL OFFICE!!!

On the plus side, the media has been doing this more and more. There is a large group of psychiatrists and psychologist called “Duty To Warn” that are writing letters and screaming at the top of their lungs. THIS GUY IS BAT-SHIT CRAZY! They just use more medically correct language.

But I didn’t start this particular post to talk about our NBIC. I want to talk about a larger group of nut-jobs. Specifically, the nut-jobs who voted for this nut-job. Trump supporters.

Let me be even more specific. Trump supporters who still support this NBIC. I understand that on election day lots of former Obama supporters voted for him and lots of other people who felt he might “shake things up” voted for him. As far as the latter group goes, I would say an earthquake also shakes things up. That doesn’t mean I want to be around when one happens.

I get it. You had your reasons. That was then. This is now.

We know how crazy this guy is. We know how incompetent this guy is. We know how clueless this guy is. We know this guy is “A fucking moron.”  And still, 28 to 33 percent of Americans still support this train wreck??

The media has been doing something since this guy got elected which drives me crazy. No matter what he does, no matter how stupid it is, no matter how mind-boggling and horrific it is, the media always tags the story with this. “But his base still supports him.”

To this I say “SO WHAT!!!”  Because those assholes still support this jerk, everything he does is OK? Well, they say Republicans won’t do anything because they are “afraid of his base.” They are afraid of being “primaried“ by a more right-wing Republican.

Really? Has anybody noticed that most of the Republicans in office are folks who “primaried” a more moderate Republican. Most are Tea Party whack jobs. They’re all white supremacists. They defend NAZIs! Who the hell is out there who is more right-wing than the crazy bastards who are currently there???

The only thing we can do is to vote them out next year.

The other thing that drives me nuts are the constant stories about “How do we reach the Trump voter? What will it take to turn them against Trump?


I have the answer.


NOTHING. These whack jobs are lost. They believe every stupid conspiracy theory put out by the alt-right. They will never wake up. Even after they don’t get new jobs. Even after their taxes go up when rich billionaires’ taxes go down. Even when they get poorer and poorer. Even when they lose their health care.

They are lost. Forget them. Ignore them.

Try to remember this very, very important fact. THEY ARE A MINORITY!! Our NBIC lost the popular vote by more than three million votes. Almost three-quarters of the population of the U.S. DON’T LIKE THIS IDIOT. Focus on the other half of the country, the folks who didn’t vote at all. At least there’ s hope for them.

As for “the base?” You are never going to change their minds.

What a lovely couple

Or this guy.

Or this one.

Trying to reason with a current Trump supporter is like trying to teach a pig to fly. You just frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.

PS:  What does any of this have to do with Nutter Butter? Actually, nothing. I just like to write alliterative titles in threes. And I like Nutter Butter.