law, true crime

Wonder if Josh Duggar will see a video like this when he gets to prison…

A couple of days ago, when I mentioned “diesel therapy” on this blog, I ran across an article written for The Marshall Project by a white collar ex-con, who was initially doing time in a minimum security camp. The author of the article, Michael Rothenberg, was a white collar criminal who had made the mistake of befriending another white collar criminal who escaped from their lockup at FPC Montgomery, in Alabama. Because he had associated with the escapee, prison officials figured he somehow knew the guy was going to escape. They decided to send Rothenberg to a harsher facility in Lovejoy, Georgia. He and other inmates were shackled and handcuffed, then put on a bus with an overflowing toilet for a drive that lasted several hours.

When Rothenberg got to his destination, he was kept in a crowded holding cell for hours. Then, he was shown a video about avoiding prison rape, which freaked him out. Rothenberg had never been to a “real jail” before. His camp in Alabama had been more like a dormitory than a prison. The idea that he might be raped while he was in prison was, naturally, very upsetting.

While I can understand why Rothenberg was unsettled by the video about prison rape, I thought it was kind of progressive. And then, completely by coincidence, I was watching YouTube the other day, and in my queue of suggested videos was a video made by the Alabama Department of Corrections. It was about how to avoid being raped or sexually harassed in prison, and how to make a report if an assault happens. I watched it, and was actually surprised by how respectful and well done it was.

Several inmates spoke about their experiences, and there were also comments by correctional officers and the Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Corrections. The commissioner explains that the video was made in response to the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). PREA requires that federal, state and local correctional facilities maintain and enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault for both inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate misconduct. Given that this is a law that applies to all facilities, I’m surprised that Rothenberg’s first encounter with an anti prison rape video was at the second facility.

I don’t know how seriously people take this video, but it seems like a good idea to show it…

Since Josh is going to a federal facility in Texas, at least initially, he’ll probably see a film much like this one, only it will be made by the feds. I’m not sure how much this video and others like it actually help prevent prison rapes and sexual misconduct. Based on what I’ve heard about prison, a lot of correctional officers don’t care too much about making sure prisoners avoid harassment. It could be that showing this video is just a way to comply with the law. I still thought it was an interesting video, though… and surprisingly well done. It would be nice if the correctional officers who say they want prisoners to get through their time safely really mean what they say. I don’t like Josh Duggar, and I hate what he did, but I don’t wish for him to meet violence. On the other hand, I don’t have high hopes that he can be reformed.

The above video, by the way, comes with a trigger warning. I didn’t think it was hard to watch. It was certainly a lot easier to watch than whatever Josh was watching on the videos that got him sent to prison in the first place. I’m sure it won’t make him as squeamish to watch it as it did Michael Rothenberg.

Rothenberg writes that after he saw the video, he was taken to solitary confinement, where he listened to other inmates scream. One guy passed him a note begging him to give him the food he wasn’t going to eat, since he was starving. Meanwhile, Rothenberg’s wife and children were in Alabama, planning to visit him in the prison camp in Montgomery. They didn’t know he’d been moved. Rothenberg was threatened at the Lovejoy facility, then sent to Oklahoma City, where he spent three weeks of hell before he was sent to South Dakota. On the flight to South Dakota, another prisoner begged to use the toilet, but was denied. The prisoner said he was going to piss himself, and the guard told him he’d tase him if he pissed himself. The prisoner said being tased would also make him piss himself. When he finally did pee on himself, he got tased, as promised.

Rothenberg was then moved to a private facility in Nevada, where he saw lots of ICE detainees. To comply with the kosher diet he maintained as an observant Jew, he was given nothing but celery and rice to eat. Then, from Nevada, he went to Utah, and on the way there, he was shackled to a Neo-Nazi, who had “white power” tattooed on his knuckles. The Nazi told Rothenberg that he was okay with most Jews. He just didn’t like the Jews involved with banking. Rothenberg wrote:

We remained stuck together for the next two weeks. Over that time he told me his story—how he dropped out of school and followed in the footsteps of his older brother, whom he idolized and who was serving time for a hate crime as well. His father had left them. He was not able to afford his mental-health medication. He took a gun and went to the local synagogue. It was empty; he was intending to kill himself. At the last minute, he decided he couldn’t go through with it and emptied his clip into the empty synagogue instead.

He asked me for forgiveness for what he did. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.

When Rothenberg’s mom called to complain and demand accountability as to where her son was, the prison officials said they’d never heard of “diesel therapy”. Hmmm… As I mentioned before, I first heard about “diesel therapy” listening to Jim Bakker, of all people.

Rothenberg is now an ordained Rabbi and prison consultant. It sounds like he’s mended his ways. I hope he avoided being sexually assaulted. I hope Josh does, too. But it’s probably not very comforting to be welcomed to prison with a video about how to avoid and report prison rape. I bet it makes settling in a bit difficult.

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book reviews, celebrities, mental health, psychology

My review of River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, by Naomi Judd

It’s hard to believe that a month ago, country music legend Naomi Judd, the maternal half of country music mother-daughter act, The Judds, was still among the living. I was in Italy at the time, enjoying an eagerly anticipated vacation. I was shocked, like so many others were, when I heard of her sudden death on April 30, 2022. Although they weren’t saying it at the time, it was pretty clear that she took her own life. It came out that Naomi Judd had suffered for many years with terrible, untreatable depression and anxiety. And, although she and her daughter, Wynonna, were to be honored for their musical achievements the very next day, Naomi simply couldn’t face life anymore.

Megyn Kelly interviews Naomi Judd about her depression, and her book, River of Time.

I was not a huge fan of The Judds, during their heyday. I do enjoy their music very much now, and I have a few of their greatest hits compilations. I read Naomi’s first book, Love Can Build A Bridge, which was published in the 90s, when Naomi was forced to temporarily retire due to her diagnosis of Hepatitis C. I also saw the made for TV movie based on that book. I also once saw Wynonna perform at a U.S. Army Birthday Ball. But, I am not a super fan of The Judds’ music, and wasn’t following news about them when Naomi died. I didn’t know about Naomi’s struggles with mental illness, and until my friend and fellow blogger, Alex, mentioned it in a comment, I also didn’t know that in 2016, Naomi published a book about her experiences with severe depression and anxiety. Although Naomi’s story clearly turned out to be less victorious than the book’s title, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope suggests, I decided to delve into it.

I read Naomi Judd’s book for several reasons. First off, I too, have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety myself, and I understand why it seemed so hard to beat it, because I remember how it made me feel. I was fortunate, in that my depression was treatable with talk therapy and Wellbutrin SR. It does, on occasion, rear its head again, but for the most part, I am much better than I once was. Secondly, I am a musician. No, I am not a “star”, and at this point in my life, I will probably never be a star… and frankly, I probably would not WANT to be a star, anyway. But I do make music, and I admire Naomi’s talents as a singer and songwriter. Thirdly, I come from similar, salt-of-the-earth, family stock. I didn’t know it when I started reading River of Time, but I could really relate to a lot of Naomi Judd’s comments about her family, and how people in her family made her feel. I’ll get more into that as this review progresses.

River of Time reads as if it comes straight from Naomi, but in fact, it was ghost written by author, Marcia Wilkie. I appreciated that this book really seemed to come from Naomi Judd’s heart, and I never noticed an intrusion by a professional writer. Some people felt that the book “jumped around a lot” and was “repetitive”. Personally, I didn’t find that an issue, but again, it did seem to me that this was a book coming from Naomi, rather than Marcia Wilkie. I see that at this writing, the book is offered on Kindle for $1.99, probably because ultimately, Naomi succumbed to her depression and committed suicide. I still think it’s well worth reading, for MANY reasons. So here goes…

Naomi Judd’s early years never suggested the great heights she would eventually reach…

Naomi Judd was born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky on January 11, 1946. Naomi describes Ashland as a “grey”, ugly, industrial city. Her parents were poor, and not at all loving or demonstrative. Naomi made excellent grades in school and was a talented pianist, but her parents barely noticed. However, whenever she got any negative feedback from school officials, her father was quick to get out his belt and “whip” her. Naomi writes that she used to “borrow” her mother’s stiff rubber girdle when her father wanted to use the belt. She’d go to the bathroom, put on the girdle, and let him go to town, while she “hollered” like she was in pain. Apparently, he never caught on to Naomi’s ruse.

In this book, Naomi never refers to her original first name, or Wynonna’s. Wynonna was born Christina Claire Ciminella, although Naomi’s husband at the time of Wy’s birth was not her biological father. Wynonna was conceived when Naomi was seventeen years old, during Naomi’s very first sexual experience. She had a one night stand with a football player, she’d known in high school, a man named Charles Jordan. Naomi explains that she and Jordan got together for their tryst, because Naomi’s brother, Brian, was dying of leukemia. Naomi was very close to Brian, and she was feeling alone and vulnerable. As a lot of young girls do during their teen years, Naomi must have felt that connecting with a young man would make her feel loved and valued. Unfortunately, Charles Jordan abandoned Naomi, as soon as he found out about the pregnancy. Naomi quickly married Michael Ciminella, Ashley’s biological father, because Naomi’s mother, Polly, kicked her out of the family home.

Michael Ciminella’s family was sort of well off, and they lived a more comfortable lifestyle than Naomi’s family did. But Mrs. Ciminella was extremely obsessive about cleanliness and order. Naomi writes that when Wynonna was a baby, her mother-in-law had totally sanitized the whole house, and insisted that everyone wear masks and gloves before handling the baby. Even Naomi was expected to comply.

Naomi and Michael eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where Ashley was born in April 1968. But the marriage didn’t last, and Naomi was soon raising her young girls by herself, with almost no help from Ciminella. After the divorce, Naomi reclaimed her maiden name and took the opportunity to change her first name, too. She enrolled in nursing school and eventually became a registered nurse. Unfortunately, when she was 22, Naomi was stalked by a violent, ex-con heroin addict, who beat and raped her. Still, somehow Naomi persevered and managed to launch her career in nursing. Meanwhile, she and Wynonna developed their musical chops, and eventually moved to Nashville, where they finally got their big break. Wynonna was eighteen years old when The Judds were on their way, but she and Ashley had still experienced a hardscrabble childhood, as their mother did everything she could to ensure their survival.

Naomi’s life heads south…

The Judds were wildly successful in the 1980s. They had fifteen #1 hit songs, and won dozens of music industry awards. Things seemed poised to continue in that direction, when Naomi started feeling ill. She went to a doctor, who told her that she had contracted Hepatitis C. She was told that her liver was “almost cirrhotic”, and that she had about three years to live. Fortunately, the medical establishment was wrong about her prognosis, but the diagnosis did force Naomi to retire in 1991. The Judds did a huge pay per view concert, which was a very successful event. Naomi eventually remarried in 1989, this time to Larry Strickland, a member of the Palmetto State Quartet, and former backup singer for Elvis Presley.

Although Naomi Judd had achieved great success in music, and also found the love of her life, she experienced extreme episodes of depression that left her feeling suicidal. So she did what wise people do when they feel sick. She saw a Nashville area psychiatrist. The psychiatrist did what a lot of psychiatrists do, when it comes to treating depression. He put her on antidepressants. She went through a huge list of them, and at times, she was never properly tapered off before the next drug was tried. Her doctor also prescribed the anti-anxiety medication, Klonopin. I took Klonopin myself at one time. Fortunately, it did nothing for me, and I quit taking it with ease. A lot of people get addicted to Klonopin, and other benzodiazepines. Naomi did, as did Stevie Nicks. Both women said that the drug destroys creativity and ambition.

The psychiatric drugs, and their lack of efficacy, along with the lack of talk therapy, made Naomi’s situation worse. She eventually landed in a psychiatric hospital at Vanderbilt University to be weaned off of the psychiatric drugs using IV phenobarbital. That was the first of several stays at mental health facilities, to include the psych ward at UCLA, as well as some posh rehab centers. She describes these experiences as if they were all horrifying– even the really plush, luxurious psych hospital was oppressive and terrifying. Eventually, she was able to get treatment from Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, a renowned psychiatrist at Mass General, in Boston. However, it was in Boston that she had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which used shock waves to improve. A lasting side effect from that treatment was the destruction of her ability to enjoy the taste of food. While ruining her sense of taste helped her lose weight, it also made one of her passions, cooking, a lot less enjoyable. She couldn’t even eat the treats she would make for others, because it all tasted “putrid”.

Still, Naomi Judd did find help when she discovered dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is a technique discovered by psychologist, Marsha Linehan. Naomi explains how the technique helped to center her and improved her mental health. DBT is a technique that is often suggested for people who aren’t helped by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a well-known method for treating depression. As of 2016, Naomi did seem to be very edified by DBT. Unfortunately, we now know that the help she received from DBT was temporary. She never lost her urge to end her life.

Naomi also writes a lot about her family of origin. There was a lot of tragedy in her personal history, some of which came before she was even born. Some of her blood relatives were legitimately severely mentally ill, and more than a couple of folks were real criminals. Indeed, Naomi’s granddaughter, Grace Pauline Kelley, has done time in prison for drug offenses. As I read about Naomi’s grandmother, Edie Mae, who allegedly killed her husband, Howard (who had almost been killed by his own dad, when he was a child), I could definitely see a pattern.

Other people’s reactions to this book…

I took a look at the reviews on Amazon, to see what others thought of Naomi’s story about her mental illness. A lot of people wrote that they found River of Time “depressing”, and they described Naomi as engaging in a “pity party”. Some people wrote that they felt this book was a plea for attention.

Having now read River of Time, I guess I can understand why some people didn’t like the book. The truth is, Naomi’s life was depressing. She came from a family where there was a lot of mental illness and abuse. Naomi was sexually abused when she was very young, and she was not treated with love, consideration, or kindness when she was growing up. And so, it stands to reason that her true story is sad, and it should not be surprising to anyone that there are many depressing elements to Naomi’s life story. She had severe DEPRESSION, for God’s sake. What were people expecting? I do think that anyone who reads this book should NOT be expecting a chirpy book about how beautiful life is. That would be very disingenuous.

I mentioned earlier in this review that I can relate to Naomi’s story. My early years weren’t nearly as traumatic as hers were, by any stretch. But I grew up with an alcoholic father, as she did, and my father’s method of discipline was usually the corporal punishment kind. While I think my mom was more loving that Naomi’s was, she was somewhat cold and uninterested in me, especially when my dad was still alive. Mom is very different now, but when I was a kid, she was rather neglectful. And so, I could relate to Naomi’s yearning to have some acknowledgement from her parents, and other people in her family. I think that “pity party”, “whiny”, and “attention seeking” aspect of her writing that some people don’t like, was actually a facet of her illness. Her parents were, in part, responsible for the condition was was in… and make no mistake about it, it WAS a very real, physical, and mental illness that she couldn’t help. But at least she did TRY to get better, which is more than a lot of people can say. And she was fortunate enough to be able to consult some of the biggest and most successful people in the business. She was even friends with Maya Angelou.

I think the negative comments she got in Amazon reviews came from people who, bless their hearts, just don’t have a clue! They have not experienced depression themselves, so they don’t understand why Naomi, with all she had going for her in life, simply couldn’t snap out of it and be happy. They see her as selfish and self-indulgent, and don’t understand that she experienced real torment. Obviously, that torment was what led her to kill herself at age 76, even as she and Wynonna were about to be honored again. And no, she wasn’t the better singer in The Judds, but she was clearly a big part of the duo’s success. Wynonna was probably destined to be a star, but there’s no denying that her mom helped her on her way. I can understand why Naomi felt that she was left behind, and why that would be one of the many causes of her depression. On the other hand, she also accomplished a lot on her own, and somehow, those accomplishments evidently didn’t raise her opinion of herself, or her life.

Overall…

I’m glad I read River of Time. It is a sad book, and it does have the capability of being depressing, but to me, Naomi’s story felt authentic. I could relate so much to a lot of what she wrote. My heart went out to her, on more than a couple of occasions, and I even felt a little verklempt at times when I read this. I really wish that she could have conquered her demons, and enjoyed her life until its natural end. As we all know, that wasn’t to be. Depression CAN be deadly, though, and her story is a stark reminder of that verifiable fact. It’s easy for people to look at someone else’s life and think they have no reason to be sad, or to complain about anything. I would urge people not to make those kinds of judgments. When it comes down to it, you never know what kind of hell someone might be experiencing privately. Life is tough for most people… even famous, beautiful, talented, and rich people, like Naomi Judd was. I hope wherever her soul is now, she’s finally at peace.

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Duggars, law, true crime

Josh Duggar gets sentenced to 12-13 years in Texas…

Today is going to be a busy day for my blog. Besides this post about Josh Duggar’s fate, I also have a new book review to write. I was thinking of combining my posts, but decided that I don’t want my book review to be commingled with the absolute ickiness of Josh Duggar’s crimes against children. So here’s a quick post on my thoughts regarding Josh Duggar’s punishment, since I know a handful of people out there actually seem to care about my opinions. 😉

Bill and I were in the middle of dinner when the sentencing for Josh Duggar was announced. The prosecution had demanded a full twenty year sentence for Josh, who was convicted of downloading horrific images of child sexual abuse. Josh’s defense team had asked for five years. Judge Timothy L. Brooks seemed to take the middle road, ultimately sentencing Josh to 151 months (12 years and seven months) in federal prison, either in Seagoville, Texas, or Texarkana, Texas. Judge Brooks seemed to prefer Seagoville, since there is a sex offender treatment program there. It’s my understanding that Josh would not be required to attend the sex offender treatment program, but would be strongly encouraged to do so.

Josh will probably have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he can be considered for release. When he is eventually released, he will be on supervised probation for twenty years. He will not be allowed to have any unsupervised contact with children, including his own. He will not be allowed access to a computer with Internet access, nor is he allowed to view any pornography. Judge Brooks vacated one of the charges against Josh– the charge of possession of child pornography, which was the lesser of the two charges against him. However, the charge was dismissed without prejudice, so he could conceivably be charged again for that crime. Additionally, Josh has to pay a roughly $50,000 fine.

Attending the court session yesterday was Josh’s long suffering wife, Anna, who wore a subdued navy blue dress and a face mask. After he was sentenced, Josh signed “I love you” to Anna. Josh’s father, Jim Bob, was also there, also masked, but apparently doing a lot of smirking. Sister Joy Anna Forsyth was there, sitting on the prosecution’s side of the courtroom, with her brother, Jason. I read that she got up and left the room, apparently upset, when Josh’s conduct toward her when she was a child was discussed. That must have been horrible for her.

Josh, Anna, and Jim Bob appeared to be stoic as the sentence was announced. Josh was even described to be in “good spirits” before the sentence was handed down; he was described as wearing a grey suit and having a beard, but less hair on his head. Anna was described as “blonder”, and some people in the Duggar Family News group were speculating that she might be pregnant again. Personally, I think it’s more likely that she’s still got baby weight from her most recent pregnancy, and perhaps has gained some weight from stress eating. I hope she isn’t pregnant again. It’s possible, I guess… but I think it’s unlikely.

Brother-in-law Derick Dillard was not at the sentencing hearing, although he did attend the trial. Derick did tweet yesterday…

Not surprisingly, Derick uses the Bible to send a message to Josh.

A lot of people don’t think Josh’s sentence is long enough. Personally, I am not surprised that he got 151 months. That’s about what I predicted he would get. I came to my conclusion, in part, because this is technically his “first offense”, even though we all know it’s not really his first offense. I’m sure the judge was careful to make sure to do everything according to normal standards, so that there would be less reason for appeals or complaints about unfair treatment.

While I firmly believe that his attraction to illegal pornography is going to be a lifelong issue for Josh, and I think he will eventually reoffend, it’s unrealistic to expect him to get a super harsh sentence from the start. Yes, he’s gross, but he’s not the grossest… and the reason we know so much about him is because he was a reality TV star. He was a reality TV star because his parents are greedy fame whores. As nasty as Josh is, there was a time when he was innocent. His parents failed him spectacularly. However, as much as they’ve failed Josh, they have also failed the rest of their children… especially the sisters who were among Josh’s first victims.

I don’t understand how any decent parents with a scintilla of sense would keep having babies when there’s a known sexual predator in the family. And yet, beyond 2002, when Josh’s proclivities were exposed, Jim Bob and Michelle kept having babies. They encouraged him to marry very young, and Anna became the recipient of his attentions, while they continued making babies who were probably victimized by Josh, too. I don’t know what is the best thing for parents to do in a tough situation like this– but I do know that adding more children to the mix was not the right thing to do.

In any case, Josh will soon be headed to Texas, where he’ll have some time to think about what he’s done. Some people are hoping he has access to the general population… or they have access to him. I don’t wish for prison justice. It’s not anyone else’s place to visit retribution against Josh Duggar. He should do his time safely. He will be in a low security facility, though. Both Texarkana and Seagoville are low security prisons, which means that as bad as prison is, it won’t be as bad as it could be. Violence is typically pretty low at low security prisons. If Josh is able to stay out of trouble, he’ll probably be okay. Of course, the tabloid newspaper, The Sun, describes the prison as “hellish”. But there are certainly worse places Josh could be going, and possibly could go, if he doesn’t do his time like a model prisoner.

It may turn out to be a relief for Josh to leave the Washington County Jail in Arkansas, where he’s been since December, when he was convicted. I have heard that prison is much better than jail is, if only because prisoners are freer to move around, and there’s more to do. Jails are intended to be temporary, so there usually isn’t much for prisoners. They are locked down a lot more. At prison, Josh can get a job and maybe further his education. And his children might have a fighting chance of growing up with less chance of abuse, although given that they are probably going to be taken care of by Jim Bob, it’s definitely not an ideal situation.

Josh’s attorneys will appeal the sentence. I doubt it will go anywhere, but one never knows. For now, I suppose we can await the news that he’s been transferred to whichever facility he goes to in Texas. I suspect the drive down there will be pretty horrible. But twelve years isn’t so long. Twelve years ago, I lived in Georgia, and this blog was in its infancy on Blogger. Those years have gone by in a blur. So, while I wouldn’t want to do twelve years in prison… or twelve hours, this isn’t so bad for Josh. But he better watch himself. And in case anyone is wondering, yes… I think he will get in trouble again. I will be very surprised if Josh doesn’t end up back in prison at some point, after he’s released. We’ll see what happens.

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law, mental health, politicians, politics, racism, Texas, true crime

Enough pro-life platitudes! Texas Has Its Priorities Completely Screwed Up!

Early this morning, I woke up to the horrible news about Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It’s another school shooting, this time perpetrated by a lonely, bullied, obviously mentally ill young man named Salvador Rolando Ramos. Days after his 18th birthday, Mr. Ramos legally purchased the weapons he would use to shoot and critically wound his grandmother, and then go on a shooting rampage at the elementary school. Mr. Ramos, who wore body armor and carried a rifle during his deadly rampage, was fatally shot, apparently by police.

At this writing, at least nineteen children were murdered, along with two adults. Both adults who died were teachers; one was Irma Garcia, a teacher with 23 years of experience at Robb Elementary, while the other, Eva Mireles, had taught for 17 years, and had a daughter in college. Many other people have been physically injured, and will forevermore carry the emotional and physical scars from yesterday’s shooting spree. The rest of us– the decent ones, anyway, are injured by yet another senseless school shooting in a country that professes to be “the land of the free”. And this time, the shooting happened in a state that professes to be so “pro-life” that many of its citizens will do almost anything to force women to stay pregnant.

The “right to life” crew, many of whom are men, claim that a developing fetus’s right to be born is more important than anything. The claim that abortion is cruel and inhumane. But at least a developing embryo is completely unaware of its being aborted. Children sitting in classrooms– some of whom were probably conceived with help from modern scientific reproductive methods– were no doubt absolutely terrified when Ramos opened fire on them. For those kids, Texas Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers”, and ridiculous suggestions about arming teachers and “good guys with guns”.

I am technically a Texas resident, although I haven’t lived there since 2014. Every year, when I cast an absentee ballot with my votes, the ballot goes to Texas, which is where Bill and I happened to be living when he finished his service with the Army. I didn’t hate Texas when I left there. I thought it was too hot, and there were way too many religious wingnuts. I didn’t like the extremely right wing politics of people in Texas, nor did I enjoy all the gun toting wackos I saw in downtown San Antonio. But I kind of respected Texas’s free-spirited culture. I enjoyed most of the people I met there, the music, the food, and having temporary access to members of my family, and Bill’s mom and aunt. When we left in 2014, I thought maybe we could move back at some point. Now I know that I don’t want to live there again. In fact, I’m not sure I really want to live in the United States again.

In the almost eight years since we left Texas, I have come to really dislike a lot of things about it. I despise the politics of Governor Greg Abbott and his relentless attack on women, as he also champions gun lovers. I can’t wait to cast a vote against Mr. Abbott. I don’t really care too much about who runs against him, either, which is a pretty terrible place to be. I would like to care about and even like the politics of the people who run for public office. But lately, the people who are running are so incredibly lacking in sense that I find myself voting AGAINST people, instead of for them.

According to the Washington Post, Salvador Ramos was severely bullied by his peers for having a strong lisp and a stutter. He had friends when he was younger, but then started doing self-destructive things, like cutting up his face with a knife “for fun”. Still, his friends said he was a very nice kid– shy, but nice. He’d be bullied for being different, but he had a few friends who stuck by him. Things seemed to go really downhill for Ramos when he shared a picture of himself wearing black eyeliner. For that, he was bullied by his peers and called a derogatory term for a homosexual male. Then, one of the friends who would try to stand up for Ramos, left the area when his mother’s job was transferred. At that point, Ramos began to dress all in black, grow out his hair, and wear military style boots. He quit going to school. At night, he and a friend would drive around and shoot at people with BB guns. He’d also egg people’s cars. He told one new friend that he wanted to join the Marines so he could “kill people”. The new friend became an ex friend after that.

Ramos’s mother eventually tried to kick him out of their home, and Ramos posted about it on Instagram. The incident showed Ramos calling his mom a “bitch”, as police intervened to break up the fight.

Ramos had a wish list of automatic weapons he wanted. A few days ago, he posted a picture of himself with a couple of rifles. There were some people who tried to help him, in spite of his odd proclivity for guns, but Ramos’s home life was terrible. According to a neighbor, Ramos’s mother used drugs. He eventually moved in with his grandmother, who owned the house where Ramos lived with his mom. A few days ago, the neighbor saw the grandmother, who mentioned that she was in the process of evicting Ramos’s mother, because she was abusing drugs.

I read all of this stuff, and I wonder how much help Ramos got from people who could do something for him. Did he ever speak to counselors? Was he encouraged to address his mental health and educational issues? At this point, I don’t know. I don’t want to blame educators, because I know they’ve got enough to deal with every day. And while it would be easy to blame people who bullied Ramos at school, being bullied is not a reason for someone to go on a shooting spree. I wonder what life situations led to Salvador Ramos’ fatal decisions yesterday.

I think these kinds of stress related meltdowns will only get worse, as guns are promoted as a solution to ending violence and maintaining “freedom”, and desperate women are being compelled to be pregnant when they aren’t ready to have babies. How many troubled women will be forced to give birth, thanks to the idiotic bans on abortions? I believe that people like Salvador Ramos evolve because they have very fucked up home lives, and not enough is done to help them make things better. There are too many children being born into situations where there’s substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, racism, and poverty.

I haven’t even touched on the horrific gun fueled rampage that happened at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14th. That incident, which occurred at the hands of Peyton S. Gendron, a disgruntled 18 year old racist White guy with a gun, resulted in the premature deaths of ten people and the wounding of three. Eleven of Gendron’s victims were Black. Gendron survived his rampage, and is now in protective custody and on suicide watch. If the police hadn’t stopped him when they had, Gendron says that he would have shot more people. He’d had plans to visit churches and an elementary school. As awful as Gendron’s attack was, at least his victims were all adults. But that doesn’t make it much better, does it?

I’m so tired of violent, thuggish, Republican bullies with guns and big mouths. I’m so angry at people who champion narcissistic cretins like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the usual gang of idiots in the Republican National Committee. No, I don’t think Democrats are perfect, by any stretch. I don’t like extreme left wing politics, snooty attitudes, and lack of common sense some Democrats have. But at least Democrats have something to offer besides thoughts, prayers, more guns, and restrictions on abortion. This news just makes me sick… and it makes me feel an odd mixture of relief that, for now, I live outside of my country, and guilt, that I’m so far away, watching from a distance as the United States I’ve always known turns into a weird dystopia.

It’s hard to believe that a lot of us were looking forward to today, as Josh Duggar finds out his fate. I was also looking forward to finding out more about Tariq Witherspoon, the man who ran over and killed my friend, Matt, last year. He supposed to go to court in New York today. Those were two cases of callous, lawless men facing their crimes. But I sit here and think of how many people have died in the last two years… from COVID-19, cancer, murder, manslaughter and recklessness, and suicide. And we want to bring more babies into this mess? When we don’t even have enough formula to feed them? We can’t offer citizens decent, affordable healthcare, housing, or an infrastructure that doesn’t collapse as the climate becomes less hospitable to humans! Why in the hell would we want more innocent babies born into this hellish reality on Earth?

In a matter of days, Bill’s third grandson will be born. He will join his four year old brother and two year old sister. I worry about those kids, who are going to be growing up in a country that continues to grow more troubled by the year. I know how much their parents love them, and have wanted them to come into the world. I only hope that by the time they’re ready for school, more has been done to repair the serious issues that are causing little kids like them to die when all they’re trying to do is go to school, attend church, shop for food, or just be children, exploring the world.

I’m so glad I never had children. This world is completely fucked. Below is an “oldie but goodie” Facebook post that was making the rounds six years ago, and is sadly still very relevant.

Yeah. I am for shutting down the gun stores.
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documentaries, Duggars, law, true crime, YouTube

Tomorrow is the big day… Josh Duggar’s fate will be sealed… and a little more about Amber and Daniel Carter…

Several months ago, I watched the French documentary, “America’s Broken Dream”, and found myself writing about a young married couple whose story captivated me. I did some checking back in December and discovered evidence that Amber Carter, who had seemed like a really good mom in the video, might have gotten in trouble with the law for having a couple of babies who were addicted to meth.

I still don’t know for certain that the Amber Carter I found is the same one who was in the documentary. Some people point to the discrepancy in the women’s ages. But– the narrative seems to fit, and there is a very strong physical resemblance.

A couple of days ago, a reader left me a couple of comments on the Amber and Daniel Carter story. The person told me that it appears that Daniel Carter is in San Diego, California, and his mother, Cindy, has custody of the children. I don’t know how true that is, but I will try to do some checking to see if I can find any evidence that the girls are safe. I hope they are.

What’s more on my mind today is that Josh Duggar is going to get sentenced to prison for receiving and possessing images of children being sexually abused. A lot of people are hoping that Josh gets a very stiff sentence. I agree that Josh’s conduct during the trial was pretty outrageous. There were a lot of images of him smiling, joking, and just being generally disgusting and disrespectful. His crimes, too, are pretty shameful. What I find especially terrible, though, is that Josh and his posse have been trying to pin the blame on Caleb Williams for what was found on Josh’s computer.

Caleb Williams was, a few years ago, falsely rumored to be courting Jana Duggar. The truth is, he was betrothed to a young girl, whom he got pregnant out of wedlock. She was sixteen years old, and he was 23, when they had sex. Because the girl was underage, her parents prosecuted Caleb for sexually abusing a minor. Caleb is now a registered sex offender, and is not allowed any contact with his daughter. The Duggars, being “fine, upstanding Christians”, (/sarcasm) decided to try to blame Caleb for what is clearly Josh’s crime.

Heigh ho, heigh ho… it’s off to the joint you go…

I find it absolutely disgusting that a family that is supposedly Christian, is trying to frame an innocent man for a truly vile and reprehensible crime and against children– to include toddlers and babies. It’s true that Caleb is a sex offender, and he did do wrong, but what Caleb did isn’t even in the same stratosphere as what Josh has repeatedly done, and never had to pay for in the criminal sense. Moreover, how can a person call themselves Christian, yet be so dishonest and unwilling to repent? I guess, in the Duggar world, if one just prays and asks Jesus for forgiveness, dresses the “modest” way, and listens to Jim Bob on all matters, that’s enough to win God’s favor. The cognitive dissonance is astonishing.

I hope and expect the judge will see through this, and give Josh some time to consider his actions. But, given that this is officially his first offense, I won’t be surprised if Josh doesn’t get the time a lot of people are hoping for, which is 20 years locked up in federal custody. Personally, I think he may get twelve to fourteen years. That would still give his children some time to get older, and hopefully, escape the fundie cult. Maybe Anna will even consider divorcing Josh during that time, although she definitely doesn’t seem to want to do that at this point.

There are a whole bunch of videos on YouTube about Josh’s potential fate right now. I’ve watched a few of them, and all I can say is that everybody seems to be saying the same thing. Just pick your channel– Without a Crystal Ball, Down the Rabbit Hole, or any of the other people talking about Josh and his gross crimes against children, his enabling parents, and his completely brainwashed wife. I don’t have too much to add to what the people on YouTube are saying. I think Josh should be out of society, because he can’t control himself, and I think he WILL reoffend, if he has the opportunity. I’ve seen and read too many stories about sex offenders who could not control their dark impulses.

In fact, I even know of a guy from college who was once a pillar of his community, until he was caught with illegal pornographic images and videos involving minors. He was sentenced to fifteen years in federal prison. He went to prison and was eventually released early, after just four years– only to reoffend within weeks. The person I knew in college moved to Texas and, to my knowledge, is now in a federal prison in Texas, receiving treatment for his issues. Maybe he will meet Josh Duggar. Who knows?

It will be interesting to see where Josh goes to prison. I know that many people expect that he’ll go somewhere with a child sex offender treatment program. But I don’t know if he would be required to get treatment, or if there is space available for him. And, to be honest, I’m not sure how effective treatment programs are, particularly when someone is in denial. Given that Josh hasn’t accepted responsibility for what he was caught with, is trying to blame Caleb Williams (and Joe Biden, WTF), and has made some very damning statements indicating his guilt, I think Josh has a ways to go before he can be helped with his obvious problems. But that’s just my opinion.

Anyway… I hope justice is served. Josh will probably soon get some “diesel therapy”, as the “Reverend” Jim Bakker put it. Diesel therapy is when prisoners are loaded up into a bus (or on a plane) and driven (or flown) to new facilities. It’s not pleasant at all. Actually, I think transporting prisoners without giving them bathroom breaks is inhumane. However, I understand that it’s done that way because of the security risks. In any case, at the very least, I think Josh is about to experience prison transportation. Based on what I’ve heard, and read, it’s going to suck. Below is a video about “diesel therapy”.

Yikes.

My guess is that Josh will soon be intimately acquainted with this aspect of the federal prison experience, along with many others… We shall see. I don’t think it’s right to “torture” prisoners, even ones as yucky as Josh is. And as gross as Josh is, he isn’t the worst person in the world. However, he is pretty vile… and he may soon become more vile, as he meets and mingles with others who are as icky as he is.

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