Biden, disasters, Military, politicians, politics

A comparison of presidential condolences…

This morning, I read an article in the Washington Post about the father of one of the Marines who died last week in Afghanistan. The father, whose name is Mark Schmitz, was at Dover Air Force Base, waiting for his son’s remains to be repatriated. Schmitz’s son, Jared, was 20 years old when he perished. Schmitz was reportedly angry, and initially didn’t want to speak to Joe Biden. He didn’t vote for Biden, and he blames the president for the fact that his son died.

But then Mr. Schmitz changed his mind, and he and his ex wife did speak to President Biden, just days after losing Jared to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Schmitz said he “glared” hard at the president, so Biden paid more attention to Schmitz’s ex, speaking of his son, Beau, who died in 2015. I suspect that Biden might have thought that reminding the grieving family members that he’s lost a child, too, was his clumsy attempt at empathy.

Naturally, Mr. Schmitz didn’t want to talk about Beau Biden. He wanted to talk about Jared, who died much too young. And Schmitz is pissed off at Biden because his son is gone. He said to Mr. Biden, “Don’t you ever forget that name. Don’t you ever forget that face. Don’t you ever forget the names of the other 12… And take some time to learn their stories. ”

According to Schmitz, Biden’s response was “I do know their stories.”

Schmitz did offer “kudos” to Biden for one thing. Biden pulled out a card that he carries in his breast pocket that shows the number of Americans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the end of the card, Biden had written “Plus 13.” Schmitz was apparently glad to see that Biden wasn’t totally full of it, even if his comments seemed “scripted and shallow”. Schmitz also recognized that the meeting must have been very hard for Joe Biden. Schmitz said:

“It had to be one of the hardest things he’s ever had to do. You make some calls, here’s the aftereffect. It’s got to be difficult. I’m not saying it was easy at all. But you can’t run up and hug someone as if you had nothing to do with it. It’s not going to work that way when you’re commander in chief.”

Other people were a lot angrier at Biden. One person said she hoped he burned in Hell. Roice McCollum, the sister of Ryan McCollum, one of the fallen, said this to the Washington Post:

“He cannot possibly understand… My dad and I did not want to speak to him. You cannot kneel on our flag and pretend you care about our troops. You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry. This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands. The thousands of Afghans who will suffer and be tortured is a direct result of his incompetence.”

As I read this account of the “tough” meeting Biden had with the families of the mostly very young American servicemembers who died in Afghanistan, I couldn’t help but remember an incident from October 2017 involving Donald Trump. On October 4, 2017, there was a deadly ambush in Niger, and two weeks after the event, Donald Trump made phone calls to family members of the fallen Soldiers. One of the calls he made was to Myeshia Johnson, widow of La David Johnson. La David Johnson was one of four Army Soldiers who had died in the ambush.

Prior to making the phone call, Trump was advised by former Marine General John Kelly, who lost his own son in Afghanistan when the 29 year old stepped on a land mine. Kelly told Trump a story about how his best friend, Joe Dunford, was Kelly’s casualty officer, and said something along the lines of this:

Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. 

In my 2017 blog post about Trump’s interaction with La David Johnson’s family, I wrote:

It seems to me that if you are two guys in the military, brothers in arms, as it were, it would make sense to say something like what General Kelly’s friend and casualty officer said. People who serve in the military understand that there is risk when a war is going on. They can talk to each other about the business of war, because they have a concept of it. They understand the job; they’ve been through the training and indoctrination; and saying something like “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do…” makes sense. However, I don’t think the same thing is true for family members of the fallen.

In the course of Trump’s phone call intended to express condolences to Myeshia Johnson, he forgot La David Johnson’s name. He told Mrs. Johnson, who was pregnant at the time, that her husband “knew what he signed up for… but it hurts anyway.” And then Trump said, “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do…” If memory serves, Trump also repeatedly referred to La David Johnson as “your guy” to his grieving wife.

I don’t know why La David Johnson joined the Army, and I certainly don’t know what his wife knew about her husband’s motives for serving. Maybe he wanted to be a Soldier because of a sense of duty, or maybe he just wanted the money and benefits. Maybe it was a combination of factors that influenced him to join. But I am willing to bet that Johnson would have preferred to have been with his wife and children to being in Niger. Even if Johnson actually did prefer to be working in Niger, as a spouse, I sure wouldn’t want to hear that my husband preferred a war zone to being at home with me. I’ll bet Mrs. Johnson didn’t want to hear that, either.

When Mrs. Johnson later complained about how tone deaf and insensitive Trump’s phone call was, Trump didn’t apologize. Instead, he tweeted “I had a very respectful conversation with the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, and spoke his name from beginning, without hesitation!”

Meanwhile, Myeshia Johnson said that Trump’s phone call had made her feel worse. She said, “… I was very angry at the tone of his voice and how he said he couldn’t remember my husband’s name.”

As people condemned Trump’s graceless handling of the Niger ambush, Trump took the opportunity to throw shade at past presidents. He said, “If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn’t make calls – a lot of them didn’t make calls.”

Now… I’m not saying that the families of the fallen who met with Joe Biden are wrong to be angry. I’m sure that a lot of them didn’t vote for Mr. Biden, and they think Donald Trump would have handled leaving Afghanistan better. They see Biden as “weak”. He has a very different personality than Trump has. He doesn’t come across with as much charisma, force, or bluster. They perceive Biden’s less flashy personality as less effective, and they blame Biden for “fucking up” the exit from Afghanistan as he ended America’s longest war.

Personally, I am shocked that only 13 Americans have been lost, so far, in the departure from Afghanistan. I think if Trump had been in charge, the fallout would have been much worse. Moreover, I am impressed by the number of people who were successfully evacuated from Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, over 124,000 people have left Afghanistan alive. Yes, we did lose 13 Americans last week, and that’s a terrible thing. And there’s nothing anyone can say or do to make the families of those who died feel better. But, I do think Mr. Biden’s attempt at offering condolences was much better than Trump’s attempts to comfort the bereaved.

Some people seem to have forgotten that Donald Trump has historically had no empathy for other people’s pain and suffering. I remember what he said about the late John McCain, who was captured and tortured in Vietnam. Donald Trump, who never put on a uniform because of his “bone spurs”, called John McCain a “fucking loser”. Trump also said of McCain, “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”

Trump also memorably referred to members of the military as “losers and suckers”, having canceled a trip to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018. At the time, Trump falsely claimed rainy conditions had made it impossible for the helicopter to fly, and the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. The truth is that Trump was worried about his hair getting mussed in the rain, and he didn’t think honoring the American war dead was important enough to risk messing up his hair. According to an article written by Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic:

In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

As I read about people who are angry at President Biden because 13 Americans died at an airport suicide attack in Kabul, then they criticize Biden’s attempts to express condolences and apologize, I can’t help but wonder how they would have reacted to Trump in the same situation. People died during the Trump administration, too. I wonder if Trump would have met personally with those family members, having remembered each and every servicemember’s name and story. I wonder if he would have pulled out a card with the names of the fallen written down. I also wonder if there would have been more dead servicemembers sent home.

The United States has been engaged with Afghanistan for 20 years. A lot of money, time, and talent has been wasted on a country whose people are still living in a different era. It was time for the conflict to end. I don’t think there was a way to win in this situation. It was bound to be messy.

Many people, safe at home, are blaming Biden. Some are also blaming military leaders, claiming that they should have recognized the threats and addressed them. I guess it’s only natural to try to second guess what people do and the decisions they make in a war zone. I just wonder if people ever stop and think about it longer than a minute.

My husband spent thirty years in the Army. He never went to Afghanistan, but he did go to Iraq. Bill never talks about what should have been done in Afghanistan, in spite of his experience. He can’t speak to what should have been done, because he wasn’t there. Most of the people who are criticizing the president and the military don’t have a concept of what was going on in Afghanistan, beyond what was in the news.

I get that the families of the fallen are grief stricken. I understand that many of them preferred Trump to Biden, and this is a great opportunity for them to cement their hatred of Biden. But, as the wife and daughter of military veterans, I can’t help but notice the difference between Biden’s style of presidential condolences and Trump’s. I think I would much prefer Biden’s clumsy attempts to comfort– talking about his son, Beau, and compulsively looking at his dead son Beau’s watch– to Trump’s tone deaf attempts– forgetting the names of the fallen, bickering with widows on Twitter, and falsely claiming that he cares more than other presidents did in similar circumstances.

In my view, Donald Trump would not have done any of this better. It probably would have been an even bigger fiasco. More people would have died, and fewer would have been evacuated. And when it came time to comfort the grieving, history shows that Trump would have probably really fucked things up even more.

I have never served in the military myself, but I have been surrounded by veterans my whole life. One thing I’ve learned is that everyone who serves knows that there’s a chance they could be killed. That’s something that comes with the territory of military service. But, if you think about it, there’s a risk in everything we do. Hell, nowadays, just breathing can get you killed.

I’m glad that the people who met with Joe Biden had the chance to look him in the eye, speak to him, accept hugs from him, or even tell him they hope he rots in Hell. Under Trump’s watch, they would have probably just gotten a phone call at the very most, with glib cliches about “knowing what they were getting into” and “dying doing exactly what they wanted to do…” coupled with forgotten names, awkward stammering, and no chance to respond.

Joe Biden didn’t kill those people who died in Afghanistan last week. They were killed by a terrorist. The young man who strapped 25 pounds to explosives to himself, went to the gate, and blew himself up for his god is the one who did the killing and maiming. If anyone should be blamed for those senseless deaths, it’s that guy, and people like him. The last military plane left Afghanistan this morning. Thank God for that. I hope we don’t ever go back. I congratulate Joe Biden for finally ending our 20 year war with Afghanistan… and for having the courage, humility, and decency to meet with the people who are grieving the tragic loss of their family members.

There’s a stark contrast in Biden’s sense of duty compared to Trump’s… Again, from my blog post from 2017, regarding La David Johnson’s death:

La David Johnson was laid to rest yesterday.  His devastated widow was there with the children and Sergeant Johnson’s other loved ones.  Mrs. Johnson kissed her husband’s casket goodbye as she clutched two folded American flags. 

Trump, by contrast, was playing golf, as usual… and, ever classy, he posted on social media as mourners were preparing for the funeral…

What a tragic disaster this man is.

Think about it.

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Biden, narcissists, politicians, politics, Trump

Sorry folks, but Trump would have been way worse…

Sorry to bring this up today. I’d rather be writing about something really hilarious. But I feel the need to bring up something that has been bugging the crap out of me ever since the Afghanistan debacle happened.

Last night, one of my relatives posted a nasty diatribe about Joe Biden’s handling of Afghanistan. He called Biden a “POS” and then berated people for thinking Trump is worse than Biden is. I fought to stop myself from commenting. I decided not to, mainly because my relative has a huge number of conservative friends, as well as lots of mutual family members hanging out on his page. And I just didn’t feel like getting into it with anyone last night, especially since we’re about to leave town.

Sadly… and what makes it worse is that I know a lot of people who support Trump aren’t like him themselves.

I also recognize people’s rights to post what they want to on their social media. It’s almost always better to just scroll by things that are inflammatory and/or hide the post. So that’s what I did. But my husband, who has over 30 years of military experience, as well as actual experience “downrange”, did decide to respond. I haven’t gone to look at the aftermath of Bill’s comment, because again, I don’t want to feel the need to respond. The “need to respond” is definitely a troublesome family trait on my dad’s side of the family, and it doesn’t always lead to things that are good.

Trump doesn’t think about what he says before he speaks, and he acts impulsively. He regularly says things that are incredibly hurtful and offensive, and he does harmful things without a second thought about the outcome. A man who brags about grabbing any woman he wants by the pussy is not someone who would handle pulling out of Afghanistan with any grace or finesse. He apparently doesn’t even operate that way in the bedroom.

We have had four years to see Trump’s way of handling things. Maybe the optics would have been more palatable to the armchair warriors who are safe at home, watching the news… and being manipulated like everyone else is by the way the media portrays things. But I don’t in a million years believe that the outcome would have been better. In fact, I think it would have been much worse.

Anyway… here’s why I think Trump would have botched Afghanistan much worse than Biden has. It’s because Trump is probably a malignant narcissist. That’s really the main reason. Trump’s narcissism is apparently off the charts. And that fact, in and of itself, is what makes him a terrible leader, and what would have made him seriously fuck up Afghanistan in a way that probably would have gotten a lot of people killed.

What is a malignant narcissist?

You can click this link to read a pretty good description of what a malignant narcissist is. But in brief terms, a malignant narcissist is someone who is completely preoccupied with their image and has superficial charm. They seek to win at all costs, and don’t care what they have to do or who they have to hurt in order to win. They can’t handle criticism, listen to counsel or advice from others, or regulate their behavior. And they are amused by other people’s pain and suffering.

Dr. Grande also presents a pretty good look at Trump and narcissistic behavior.

Donald Trump regularly and obviously displays his extreme narcissism. He says and does whatever he wants. He doesn’t care when people get hurt, unless it suits his narrative. When the cameras aren’t rolling, he doesn’t give a shit about other people. There are thousands of people who are affected by what’s going on in Afghanistan. And, as it was said on one of Dr. Grande’s videos, “Narcissism is a barrier against reason and logic.” If there’s a time when having reason and logic is paramount, it’s now.

Another video worth watching… and a reminder of why Trump is dangerous, and would not have handled Afghanistan well. He talks a lot about characteristics good leaders should have.

I know some people don’t think Trump’s narcissism is significant. But if you have had personal dealings with this type of person, you will come to know all too well how narcissists put other people in grave danger and serious personal risk. Seriously narcissistic people like Trump do not care about anything or anyone but themselves. That is a fact. And given that, he would not care about the people of Afghanistan or the Americans who are trying to get out of there safely.

Is it better to have a “weak” person like Biden handling pulling out of Afghanistan? Or is Trump’s bluster and perceived “strength” better?

In my opinion, Biden is clearly a better person to be handling this crisis. Let’s be honest. This was a mess 20 years in the making. Joe Biden didn’t start it. In fact, he didn’t even really end it. Donald Trump made one of his famous “deals” with the Taliban last year. Trump wanted to get America out of Afghanistan, but instead of dealing with the Afghan government, he cut a deal with the Taliban. Maybe the Taliban still would have struck if Trump had dealt with the government instead of an extremist terrorist group, but as Trump likes to say, “it wasn’t a good look” for him to be negotiating with terrorists.

Trump wasn’t wrong to want us out of Afghanistan, since the war was a huge cash drain. Moreover, history has shown us that Afghanistan doesn’t want to “change”. Other countries have tried and failed to bring Afghanistan into the 20th century (and yes, I do mean 20th, not 21st).

So Trump wasn’t wrong to want to end the war… But he made a deal with the Taliban. He basically sold out Afghanistan to a bunch of terrorists. And then he lost the election– and yes, he DID lose– but there was still that deal with the Taliban. We had to get out of there, and it was not a secret that we would be leaving.

Biden clearly didn’t handle this situation perfectly, but I think this would have been a shitstorm regardless. And I would much rather have someone like him leading the country– someone who does care about others and has pledged to try to help the Afghans who helped the U.S. military for twenty years. Biden’s priority is to get Americans out, as well as those who helped Americans. He’s doing that. Thousands of Afghan refugees have already arrived in Germany. In fact, one was even born on the transport to Germany from Afghanistan. Thanks to my husband’s work, I know that those people are being taken care of. I doubt they would have been under Trump.

Donald Trump has proven that he doesn’t think much of brown people. But aside from that, Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, and won’t listen to anyone who does. So I think that if he had been in charge, the situation would have been much, much worse. There certainly would have been more death and destruction.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan with lots of cash. Why did he take off? Because of what happened to his predecessor when the Taliban took over. According to The New York Times, Ghani left because he was afraid he’d be lynched. In 1996, former Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah was executed and strung up in a public square. Prior to his execution, the former president was castrated and beaten.

Ghani did not want to be tortured and executed, nor did the world need to see another leader desecrated in such a way. I can’t really blame him for getting out of Afghanistan. But when it comes down to it, Afghanistan was Ghani’s responsibility, wasn’t it? And they had 20 years. Biden’s first priority was getting Americans out of Afghanistan. That’s what he’s been doing.

My relative is a military veteran, but he left the military after four years. His service was in the 1990s, which was a relatively peaceful era. I don’t think he’s ever even been to Europe, let alone a place like Afghanistan. I’m not sure what he thinks qualifies him to criticize Biden and the way he handled this situation, which was bound to be a chaotic shitstorm regardless.

So… the bottom line is, I agree that this situation is tragic and could have been done better. But Donald Trump was certainly not the one who could have done it better. I think if Trump had been in charge, it would have been a huge catastrophe. He doesn’t care about anything or anyone but himself. That makes him a totally unsuitable leader. I’m really glad he’s not the president anymore. I hope more people will realize how dangerous he is, but more importantly, I hope the American people won’t vote in someone much worse than Trump.

Well… we’re off to the Black Forest for a few days. Gotta get our teeth cleaned and burn up some leave.

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Biden, disasters, healthcare, lessons learned, politicians, politics, poor judgment

Incognito immunization idiocy equals misery in Missouri and elsewhere…

This morning, I woke up to a private message from my Facebook friend, Marguerite. She sent me a link to an article that appeared in The Atlantic. It was about people in Missouri who are choosing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but wish to do it incognito. Why? Because they’re afraid if their family and friends find out they’ve gotten immunized, they’ll be disowned or unfriended or whatever.

There are so many people coming to Ozarks Healthcare who don’t want to be recognized for getting the shot(s) that they’ve actually had to make a private setting. People are showing up in disguises and begging healthcare workers not to tell anyone they’ve gotten vaccinated. Healthcare workers aren’t supposed to be telling people about people’s private healthcare business, anyway. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, though.

I guess I’ve been away from my family and American friends for a really long time now… Maybe watching Bill being “disowned” by his children has also made me realize that being cast out of the family isn’t necessarily a death sentence. One can survive being ostracized by friends and family. But contracting the Delta variant of COVID-19 certainly could be a death sentence for a lot of people. I just can’t wrap my head around the sheer lunacy of people who are still denying that this is a REAL illness that is KILLING people.

Shared by the ex wife of one of my Trump loving relatives… It’s sheer stupidity on an epic level.

Missouri, in particular, is dealing with surging COVID-19 infections. Yesterday, I saw a video about Daryl Barker, a 31 year old married man and father who was vehemently against getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He contracted COVID-19, and it got bad enough that he had to go to the hospital. The video below, which was made last month, shows Barker in his bed wearing oxygen and hooked up to wires while his wife, Billie, and son, Brody, “camp outside” at Barker’s hospital room window. Unbelievably, Daryl Barker’s wife says she’s still against the vaccine, but concedes that she’d rather deal with side effects from the immunization than get the illness. Billie knows of what she speaks, because the virus has run through Barker’s extended family, and she has had it herself. Once Daryl gets well– if it actually happens– they plan to get the shot(s).

So why are people denying the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines? Daryl Barker says he was against getting the shot(s) because “we’re a strong conservative family.” What exactly does Barker mean by “strong”? Is he saying he “strongly believes” in conservative values, and that somehow means not getting vaccinated? Or does he mean being he’s “strong” in that being conservative somehow makes him impervious to the virus? Clearly, he was wrong on that count. When he arrived at the hospital, which was almost completely full, Barker was critically ill. He was given just a 20 percent chance of survival!

When did Republicans become so anti-vaccine in the first place? I always thought anti-vaxxer types were “crunchy” people who believed in avoiding putting “unnatural” things in their bodies? How did avoiding vaccines become affiliated with being Republican? Hell, even Donald Trump got the vaccine after he and Melania got sick last year. If he hadn’t been POTUS and gotten amazing medical care, he might have died from COVID-19. Yet somehow, Trump supporters are not getting the vaccines themselves. It makes no sense to me. COVID-19 has NOTHING to do with U.S. politics. It’s a global public health crisis that is affecting and killing people worldwide.

My friend Marguerite lives in California and we “met” through the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. I have never met her offline, but we seem to have some things in common, like our mutual love for musical theater and other music. We also shake our heads at the sheer lunacy of what’s going on in the United States right now. I wonder if I will recognize the United States when I go back there. It seems like a very different place to me now.

I didn’t used to think of Republicans as any less intelligent than Democrats or any other political group. In fact, when I was growing up, it seemed like Democrats were less likely to be “smart” about things. Maybe it’s because of the environment I lived in; southeastern Virginia is chock full of conservative types. It wasn’t until I joined the Peace Corps that I started meeting a lot of “liberals”, and it took some time after that experience that my political leanings started shifting. I think I’ve always been somewhat socially liberal. I used to be much more fiscally conservative than I am now.

It’s shocking to me to read comments from so-called conservatives about vaccines on social media. Some people are incredibly misinformed. I totally get being worried about vaccine injury and side effects. There are potential risks to anything a person does, and some people have legitimately suffered ill effects and even died from the vaccines. But I can’t imagine how a person, looking rationally at the risks of being vaccinated versus getting the virus, would assume catching COVID-19 would be safer. Many people have gotten immunized and they’re really fine afterwards. The vaccinated people who get COVID aren’t getting nearly as sick, either.

In all seriousness, though… if this incognito immunization idiocy keeps up, we won’t have to worry too much about Trumpers. A lot of them will either be debilitated by COVID long hauler syndrome or they’ll be fucking dead! I read another sad story yesterday in The Washington Post about how COVID is devastating families, not just because of the loss of loved ones, but also because of the financial consequences of being so sick.

33 year old Lisa Grim, an Ozark, Missouri based mother of two, lost her 37 year old husband, Alan, to COVID-19 last October. When her husband died, Lisa lost her ability to pay mortgage on their home. She and her sons, 10 year old Ralphie, and 4 year old Walker, were forced to move into a crappy apartment. It took over a month for her to find the apartment, which is 35 miles from her house. She rented it sight unseen, because the landlord was the first one in twenty she called who actually responded.

Lisa Grim is drowning in medical debt– outstanding bills from her husband’s illness, as well as an emergency room bill of her own, when the stress of her crumbling life got to be so bad that she had a full on panic attack and a severe case of gastroenteritis. She has legal bills, and both she and her older son are in therapy. Her husband died without a will, and left her just $42,000 in life insurance. She has credit card bills, too.

I have a lot of empathy for Lisa Grim. I remember how it was for Bill and me as he recovered from his disastrous first marriage and subsequent divorce. But in our case, we could work together and there weren’t children of our own to consider. Lisa Grim is dating now, but she still has two young children, and somehow she’s got to support them as she climbs out of the huge financial hole COVID-19 has wrought in her life.

I get that people don’t want to cooperate with Joe Biden, because some people wrongly believe that he “stole” the election from Donald Trump. Somehow, these folks can’t understand how a normal person wouldn’t want Trump to be president anymore. I really don’t get why that is… I mean, I can understand wanting to vote for the candidate who represents one’s political preferences. But Donald Trump is a just a walking humanitarian nightmare. He’s literally a criminal. Why not insist on someone basically ethical, yet still conservative? And Trump got the vaccine. I see a lot of conservatives holding Trump and his ilk up as people to emulate. Why don’t they emulate one of Trump’s better decisions and get vaccinated?

We have people clamoring to go back to school and work, but they don’t want to have to get vaccinated. And they don’t want masks to be required. I completely understand not liking the masks. I hate them, too, and I hope someone comes up with something that works better in controlling the spread of the virus. I still mostly stay at home because I don’t like wearing masks. I do wear the masks when they’re required, though, because this isn’t a political hill for me to literally die upon. COVID-19 is not the way I want to go out of this life. There is no doubt whatsoever that COVID-19 is real, and it’s killing people in heartbreaking ways. Those who are left behind are bereaved and broke… it’s senseless, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

I truly don’t understand why some people are afraid to tell their friends and families that they’re being vaccinated. I don’t see why the “freedom loving” crowd is concerned about the personal decisions their friends, family members, and associates make. I get not liking to be lectured or condescended to, and I don’t like the insulting and all knowing attitudes people on both sides have regarding COVID and vaccinations. But really… watch the videos and read about some of the people who have perished because of this virus.

Even conservatives who have fallen ill are changing their tunes… A lot of them want to be vaccinated when it’s too late. Some have admitted that they made the wrong decision. A few, who have ended up dying, have said that if they recovered, they would get the shot(s) and be a voice of reason for the holdouts. Dick Farrel, a now deceased radio host and coronavirus vaccine skeptic, was one of those people who claimed he would have made amends, given the chance. But sadly, the vocal Trump supporter is now pushing up daisies. I’m sure Mr. Farrel would advocate for being an example to his conservative friends who still think this is a hoax or a joke of some sort.

It’s long past time for people to wake up and do the right thing. If a person’s family and friends have a problem with his or her choice to get vaccinated, they quite simply need to get over it. Time is running out.

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Biden, politicians, politics, Trump

“Joe Biden sucks…”

Yesterday, I noticed a complaint on social media about gas prices. It was posted by Republican Idaho gubernatorial candidate, Janice McGeachin. At this writing, according to Wikipedia, McGeachin is currently Idaho’s 43rd lieutenant governor. And based on the gas receipt she posted, and her snarky jab at Joe Biden, she thinks Biden is to blame for higher fuel prices.

Um… is Joe Biden really responsible for this? Seems like a cheap shot based on emotion rather than facts.

Now… don’t get me wrong. It sucks to have to pay a lot for gas. Over here in Europe, we’re well acquainted with high gas prices. Here, you pay by the liter, and it’s a lot more expensive than what you pay in the United States. That’s why Americans who live in Europe under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) are entitled to buy gas on military installations and/or use coupons at participating Esso stations, where they get a substantial break on fuel prices.

I remember in the late 90s and early 00s, just before 9/11, gas hovered at around 99 cents to $1.10 a gallon. It was a blessing for me, since I was in grad school and had little money, but had to do client home visits in my car. You’re damned right I’m glad gas didn’t cost then what it costs now, even in the US.

But– can we really blame Joe Biden for higher gas prices? According to multiple sources, the answer to that question is “no”. There are a number of reasons why the price of gas has gone up. One major reason is that the demand has increased as people leave lockdown and go back to commuting or leisure traveling. Another major reason is because there’s less fuel available because people weren’t working. It’s the same reason why, when you go to McDonald’s, you may be facing a skeleton crew and things take longer. People are expecting things to be like they were pre-pandemic. But things aren’t like that, and probably won’t be like that for a good, long while, if ever again. Seriously, though… gas has gone up because the demand is up, and there’s less to go around. That’s got nothing to do with Biden. In fact, isn’t reopening the economy what Republicans wanted?

Aside from that, gas prices aren’t something presidents can easily control. According to the CNN link I posted in the previous paragraph, “the price of gas is determined by four major factors: taxes, the cost of marketing and distribution, refining, and the cost of crude oil. Biden’s enacted policies have not currently had a significant effect on any of these four factors.” It surprises and saddens me that as a lieutenant governor, particularly one who would like to be governor, Janice McGeachin doesn’t understand how this works. I suspect that if she does win the governor’s race in Idaho, she may be in for similar treatment, though. People will blame her for shit she can’t control, either.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Some woman, in response to the lieutenant governor’s post, wrote “Joe Biden sucks, and y’all know it!”

I was feeling cheeky, so I wrote “But Trump swallows.”

The lady wrote back something along the lines of, “Ooh, what a creative response!”

To which I wrote, “I could say the same thing about your comment. Besides, Donald Trump DOES swallow. Especially Big Macs and Whoppers!”

If you think about it, we ALL swallow, don’t we? Unless we have a feeding tube or something. That’s a function of healthy living. Does Biden literally suck? Maybe… although he probably doesn’t suck as much as he did as a baby. But that’s true for most of us, too.

Does the commenter mean Biden “sucks dick”, which is what “sucks” used to mean? I don’t know. But I’ve seen no evidence that Biden likes to suck dick. I HAVE, however, seen plenty of evidence that Trump is a lover of sexual conquests and exotic sexual acts. He probably HAS swallowed, in the nastiest meaning of that saying. But then, he’s in good company with other people who have hung around with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein… Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew, and plenty of other rich and famous men. There’s no telling what kind of shenanigans went on back when Jeffrey Epstein threw his wild parties on his notorious, infamous, “private island”, teeming with teenaged girls brought to him by Ghislaine Maxwell and company.

There’s no denying what kind of company Trump keeps… and when you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.. (thanks, Mary Beth).
“Donald Trump is the Hugh Hefner of the 90s”… Seriously, he probably does swallow.

But even if he doesn’t “swallow” in the sexual sense, he definitely DOES like fast food. And he clearly does swallow that, based on his “figure”. So what I wrote wasn’t a lie. Saying that Joe Biden “sucks”, is probably more of a lie by most counts.

There’s no doubt that Trump likes his Whoppers… is he also the “home of the Whopper” like the pervert neighbor I used to have? The jury is out. This is so embarrassing for the United States.

In any case, Joe Biden has been in office for about six months. I’m feeling somewhat better about a lot of things than I did a year ago– at least for right now. A year ago, I woke up every day feeling dread about what new craziness would be in the press regarding Trump. Now, I worry less about Trump and his embarrassing bullshit, but I do worry that someone else is being groomed to “MAGA”.

I get that a lot of people think Trump’s “awesome” and his polices are “great for America”, as one Trump loving friend (who incidentally lives in Thailand) enthusiastically told me this morning. I wonder what my friend is doing in Thailand. I think he married a Thai woman, and he probably gets to enjoy a decent standard of living there… if Trump was so “great”, though, wouldn’t he have wanted to move back to the States during Trump’s tenure? Wouldn’t he have wanted to live in the USA, basking in all of Trump’s MAGA splendor? And yet, he didn’t. He’s been in Thailand for awhile.

I, of course, live in Germany and managed to miss ALL of Trump’s presidency. I haven’t set foot on US soil since November 2014. I have a feeling that when I do go back, it’ll be a shock. And that will be true, even if Biden doesn’t get pushed out in 2024. Lord help us all.

In any case, allow me to state on record that, so far, I don’t think Joe Biden sucks. I do, however, know for a fact that Trump swallows. But maybe someday we’ll get lucky and he’ll fail his swallow test. Perhaps that will keep him out of our hair so we can make sure no one worse picks up where Trump has left off. I think Joe Biden is a decent man, and I’m glad to see someone decent in the White House. Trump is not a good person who cares about other people. That, in an of itself, makes him unsuitable to run anything involving other people, let alone a country.

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Biden, complaints, Duggars, healthcare, politicians

Scientists are worried… what else is new?

Arran let me “sleep in” until about 5:30am. I finally got up because his stomach was gurgling so much that I couldn’t ignore it. He’s been having some issues lately with his stomach and bowels. The vet reports that he has no parasites, so there must be something else going on that will probably smack us in the face soon. He was happy to eat his breakfast, though, and went back to bed. I am now wide awake, having just read more articles on the Internet that have me feeling a bit triggered.

First, I read about how the governors of Texas and Mississippi have decided to pander to their ignorant conservative base by re-opening everything and doing away with mask mandates. To be clear, I hate face masks. I have not made a secret of that. I do think it’s too early for things to go back to “normal”, though. The pandemic is definitely real, and I think this step is probably going to cause a lot of problems that no one needs.

Just because Texas no longer has a state mandate requiring face masks, that doesn’t mean individual businesses aren’t going to require people to wear them. So the onus will be on low paid workers to enforce the rules. Also consider that Texas is loaded with people who carry weapons, many of whom are a bit unhinged. I don’t have the scientific data on this, but I did used to live in Texas, in a relatively liberal part of the state. I saw a lot of crazy shit, and that was during the somewhat sane Obama era. So it’ll be interesting to see where this decision leads.

I did have a good time reading the comments, though… One person described himself as a “front line worker” who was glad to see the mandate go. He wrote that he doesn’t like wearing masks and he thinks people should be able to decide for themselves. Naturally, that upset a lot of people, who just piled on this guy. One dude cited his own experience in the military as he went after the mask free front line worker. But then it turned out the front line worker had also been in the military and got out. The first guy assumed front line guy couldn’t “hack it”. Front line guy said he was tired of being deployed to Iraq. I can’t blame him for that. Below are a few of the best comments in response to this statement:

“My heart goes out to all of the frontline workers impacted by these decisions. Their work has been hard enough. They deserve better.”

While I personally do think it’s a bad idea to re-open everything completely and live as normal, I do think it’s cool that “Mario” calmly took on all the virtue signalers and their tired arguments. I don’t understand why people feel the need to spout off the same crap when someone is obviously going against the grain. I mean, I’m sure Mario has heard that masks supposedly protect other people. I’m sure he’s heard the stupid seatbelt analogy (which, in my opinion, is truly not a good comparison). All he’s said is that he doesn’t like wearing masks and supports people’s rights to choose for themselves. For simply stating that, he gets a whole shitload of blowback, some of which was pretty embarrassing for those who swung and missed.

Why is it that so few people can simply let someone voice an opinion? Why do we have to quash comments by those who go against the grain? Is it really so dangerous for people to speak their minds? You’d think COVID-19 safety measures are akin to the Bible. Going against what the so-called experts say is akin to actual sacrilege to some people. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to stay away from people as much as possible. That’s what I do. I comply with the mask rules, but I hate them and expect that they’re temporary. But God forbid I say that out loud. I’ll get a whole load of people who are graduates of the Google School of Public Health trying to school me on COVID-19.

How is it that I, someone who has actually gone to graduate school and earned a MPH from an accredited program, can’t be on the “masks and closures forever bandwagon” with everyone else? Well… truth be told, I have a feeling that if you were to poll people with healthcare backgrounds, you might find that their personal opinions on this issue probably run the gamut. But the ones who disagree with the official opinions don’t say so, because if they do, they have to deal with backlash like that above and people questioning their competence and intelligence. So while I don’t necessarily agree with Mario’s opinions, I give him credit for having the guts to speak up and take on all of the people who feel the need to correct his opinions and quash his freedom of expression.

The truth is, even if everyone on the planet wore a mask 24/7, people would still get sick and die. And being masked up 24/7 is not a great way to live, for so many reasons. I think people really need to think seriously about that. It doesn’t mean I’m non-compliant, immature, stupid, or selfish to say that, either. But so many people have a knee jerk reaction to anyone who says something that isn’t the norm, especially when it comes to COVID-19. It’s ridiculous, and it shows a serious lack of critical thinking skills. Yes, masks are a good idea for now. But they shouldn’t be a permanent solution. That’s why I think they aren’t akin to seatbelts. And even if I’m totally wrong, I think it’s a mistake to discourage people from sharing their opinions. Information can’t evolve if everyone always says and only believes the same things. Someone has to think outside of the box for innovation to happen.

I also don’t like how people make assumptions about perfect strangers who dare to speak their minds. I don’t know Mario at all. He could be a fabulous guy. So could all the other people commenting. But we’ve gotten so accustomed to just ripping people’s heads off because we’re behind screens and can’t stand dissenting opinions. It’s alarming how uncivil people are in the Internet age.

Anyway… moving on, because I’ve written about this ad nauseam and I’m tired of it.

The next article I want to comment on is about how scientists are concerned that there hasn’t been a COVID-19 baby boom. Apparently, experts expected that there would be a big increase in babies born thanks to the lockdowns. That didn’t happen. In December 2020, which was nine months after the lockdowns began, health departments in the United States reported a 7% drop in births. And this is causing upset, because of our aging population. From the article:

“We need to have enough working-age people to carry the load of these seniors, who deserve their retirement, they deserve all their entitlements, and they’re gonna live out another 30 years. Nobody in the history of the globe has had so many older people to deal with.”

Okay… first off, when I was getting my MPH, I heard about our “aging population”. I distinctly remember hearing that when smoking fell out of fashion, it put a strain on our healthcare system. People were living longer and developing more chronic diseases. That was causing them to use the healthcare system more, which ran up costs and crowded the hospitals. Yes, it’s a good thing overall that people are smoking less, but now we have a new problem. I finished my MPH in 2002, so it wasn’t that long ago…

Now, it’s 2021, and we have a public health crisis. It won’t be the last one. However, I’ve been hearing for YEARS how overpopulated the Earth is, and how we don’t have enough resources for everyone. I have also seen how shitty things are getting… from global warming and the ensuing natural disasters, to the lack of social justice, to children being forced to go to school at home to avoid a deadly virus. Why in the hell would any sane person want to have a bunch of kids now– sane being the operative word?

I am 48 years old, and I paid off my student loans in 2018. I have yet to own my own home. Imagine if I’d had children and they were trying to launch at a time when there’s massive unemployment and disease. When I was a young person, I could always go work in a restaurant or service industry if I needed to make some money. Right now, people in the restaurant and service industries are hurting because there aren’t any jobs for them during a pandemic. A lot of those jobs depend on tips. If no one is allowed to go out to eat, there go the tips. And I’m sure finding a job is very difficult right now. People go back to school to avoid shitty job markets, run up bills and take out loans… and then they graduate to this shit and wind up financially ruined.

I am fortunate that my mom and Bill’s mom are both very independent. I have friends who are not only trying to raise kids and pay off their student loans, but are also having to support their elderly parents. Children and the elderly are also groups of people who need supervision, and that costs money, too. Both childcare and senior care are very expensive. So I don’t blame people for not reproducing. I always wanted children, but in retrospect, it’s probably a blessing that I never had any kids.

I mentioned this in the Duggar Family News group, and someone basically responded to me with what I quoted above. Not having enough babies means there will eventually be no one to take care of the “old folks”. Well, pardon me, but I think that’s a really stupid reason to have kids… just so there are people around to take care of the elderly. People should have kids because they want to be parents and are up to doing the job of raising them well and providing for them. They shouldn’t have kids just in case one or more of them might want to work in healthcare. That’s ridiculous. Moreover, we all have to die. Maybe we should rethink saving lives at all costs. Dying isn’t the worst thing to happen to a person.

I think there’s little to worry about, though. Justin Duggar just got married. He’s 18, and his wife, Claire, is 20. They’ll probably start popping out kids soon. His siblings, likewise, are pairing up and popping out babies. Yes, those kids are going to grow up Quiverfull, but maybe some will break out of the fundie cult and be “normal”. Anyway… all of this makes me think I might want to look again at buying longterm care insurance. But even then, chances are, I’ll be alone when I’m an old woman… if the virus doesn’t get me first.

Joe Biden has stated that doing away with mask mandates is “Neanderthal thinking”. I think that’s a poor choice of words, given how many of us have close ties to Neanderthals. I found this out thanks to 23andMe. He might want to rethink disparaging the Neanderthals… they’re probably craftier than the average Trump supporting Texan.

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