Biden, money, politicians, politics, YouTube

I’m intrigued by the timing of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan…

Yesterday, I wrote about how President Joe Biden has announced a plan to forgive a portion of student loans for many American borrowers. Plenty of people are expressing their opinions about this idea. I’ve seen lots of people laud Mr. Biden for helping regular people who are struggling with student loan debt. And I’ve seen many people who are presumably angry that some people are getting “free money” when they’ve been “irresponsible.”

For the record, I don’t have a problem with Biden’s plan to forgive some educational debt. I won’t be benefiting personally from Biden’s “largesse”, but as I explained yesterday, the timing of my own school loans were fortuitous. I lucked into a low interest rate, which was very helpful for me. It was hard enough to get ahead of the loans even with that low rate. I see that now, a lot of people are paying significantly more in interest than I did. One friend shared the graphic below, which came from a longer, viral Facebook post:

Yes, I know signing for loans is a big deal, but how many 18 year olds– people we don’t even allow to legally drink a beer– understand what this will mean in the long run? Especially when they have been told since childhood how essential college is for a successful life in the United States.
The rest of the post… I think it makes a lot of sense… and cents.

As I mentioned before, I got my loans paid off after years of concentrated effort and gradually rolling larger payments into what I was regularly paying every month. After five years of paying the minimum, which barely covered the interest, I voluntarily started paying more and more. There was no penalty to prepay, and we could afford it, starting back in 2007, when Bill was in Iraq and temporarily got paid more. It wasn’t like I was spending money on anything exciting during that time, so I just rolled the extra money into paying off debts. I paid off Bill’s shitty high interest credit cards, too, and he was soon able to get a much better card. But if I’d had a higher interest rate, it would have been much harder to pay off the debts. I’d probably still be paying.

In any case, I am not upset that other people are getting help with their student loans that I won’t be getting. I’m just grateful that I don’t need the help, and that against all odds, I managed to pay off those loans. It makes no sense for me to be upset about this, either, because it’s a done deal, and there’s nothing I can do about it. There are plenty of other reasons to be angry right now.

For instance, I’m very upset about the fact that as of yesterday, abortion in Texas is virtually illegal. As of yesterday, a trigger law went into effect, making abortion a felony for those who provide the service. Yes, there are exceptions for when the mother’s life is at risk, but because of the political climate in Texas right now– and, oh, maybe the fact that it’s the number one death penalty state– physicians are reportedly committing malpractice and not giving pregnant women who actually need an abortion for medical reasons the care they need. Why? Because they don’t want to go to prison and be fined $100,000.

It occurred to me last night that the timing of Mr. Biden’s student loan assistance package is rather fortuitous, as the midterm elections approach. Lots of Republicans are positively GLEEFUL about overturning Roe v Wade. However, there is also evidence that a lot of people– Republicans included– are upset, worried, or even downright pissed that a political party is taking away a fundamental right from all women of childbearing age, not to mention their right to healthcare PRIVACY. If we learn anything from the results in Kansas, when voters were asked to vote on abortion rights, it’s that this is an issue that affects a whole lot of people. Some of the people who voted for abortion rights were, no doubt, Republicans.

I have also read reports of Republican politicians abandoning their party, because they simply can’t abide the cruel, intrusive, and downright stupid policies that today’s Republicans are pushing. Yes, there are still a lot of people who are vocal about supporting Trump and his ilk, but some conservatives are seeing the light. Some also don’t want to be associated with the likes of shady characters like Matt Gaetz, Ron De Santis, and, dare I say it? Trump himself.

I think that Biden’s decision to offer student loan help may sway some Republicans to vote blue in November. Not only would they be voting for women’s rights, healthcare privacy, and the right to have an abortion, but they would also be voting for much needed financial help with their loans instead of another corporate bailout. You can’t tell me, either, that Republicans who qualify for the $10,000 forgiveness of their student loans won’t take the help. Of course they’ll take it. Some will happily take that benefit as they loudly complain about it. I don’t remember hearing too many people from the Republican Party complaining about the temporary financial assistance Trump offered during COVID-19’s worst months.

Now, I could be completely wrong about this. Maybe the timing of Biden’s student loan announcement is completely unrelated to the cluster fuck being perpetrated by Republicans right now. However, I have a feeling I could be on to something. I also think the main reason Republicans are so upset about this development is because, ultimately, it will help a lot of the people they’d like to keep down… women, minorities, people who don’t identify as mainstream. This help will be useful to people who could use a financial leg up in order to improve their lots in life. For many people, the $10,000 will be a “drop in the bucket”, but some people’s loans will be completely paid off because of this help. And some will have their burdens greatly reduced. That simple fact will make Biden look pretty good to some of them.

On the other hand, the reverse could also be true. Some Democrats might not like Biden’s decision, either because it doesn’t go far enough, or because they agree that doing this “rewards irresponsible people”. However, my guess is that most Democrats who don’t like this plan will still vote blue, because they will still consider Democratic candidates better than the alternatives. I can’t imagine someone who supports progressive, humane, public policies voting for a Republican candidate over something like this. But then, much stranger things have happened, right?

I haven’t even mentioned some of the totally ridiculous and backwards school policies being enacted right now. I will never know why so many conservatives are so much more concerned about what’s in a teacher’s classroom library than they are about kids being killed at school by gun violence. I mean, they’ll do all they can to “save” a fetus from being aborted, even if the pregnant person isn’t ready or wanting to be a parent, but they don’t do anything about those same “babies” being blown apart in a classroom by some unhinged nut with a gun. And what if they happen to be reading a book about a kid with two dads when that happens? Personally, I just think that kids should be encouraged to read. I think teachers should be better supported for their efforts, because it’s not an easy job to educate kids, nor is it necessarily well paid or respected work. Every day, teachers put their lives on the line to see that children are properly educated, but we have elected officials doing everything in their power to make their job harder. No wonder so many good teachers are leaving the field. It seems that many Republicans just want the citizenry to be dumber.

So… kudos to Joe Biden for offering this help, especially at this point in time– as Trump is fighting many legal battles and people are in a tizzy over everything. Experience has taught me that money talks. A lot of regular people are fed up with the way the country is heading, and they want to see some real help and change. I don’t think it’s an accident that this student loan measure, controversial as it is, is being presented now, as Republicans are doing all they can to take away women’s rights, dumb down kids in school, and force us back into the Dark Ages. Some Republicans will appreciate Mr. Biden’s efforts enough to vote blue in November. And some of those people will become permanently former Republican voters, like I am.

Before I go… I want to share these videos I watched by Mr. Atheist yesterday. They were pretty infuriating. I will probably end up writing about “pro-life” activist Kristan Hawkins soon, but I won’t do it today, because this post is long enough. I’ve got laundry to fold and dogs to walk. But I do want to share them with those who read this post and need a new reason to be disgusted. Maybe, if anyone is interested, I’ll offer my thoughts about these videos tomorrow.

Mr. Atheist is right. I legitimately cringed when I heard Kristan Hawkins speak.
Yep… yikes is right.

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Biden, Ex, money

Interesting reactions to Joe Biden’s controversial decision to forgive student loan debt…

I’m sure you’ve heard about it by now. Yesterday, President Joe Biden announced that many borrowers with federal student loans will be forgiven $10,000 of their debt. Those who borrowed and also got Pell Grants qualify for an additional $10,000 of forgiveness. This applies to anyone earning less than $125,000 per year, or married couples jointly filing tax returns earning less than $250,000. Loans after June 30, 2022 aren’t eligible.

Although I won’t be personally affected by this plan, I think it’s a good idea. Bill and I paid off my student loans in 2018, nine years early. But we were able to do that because we’ve been extraordinarily fortunate. Living in Germany has been very good for us in most ways, but especially financially. We don’t have children or elderly relatives to support, and we don’t own a home. Back in 2007, when Bill went to Iraq and got a temporary bump in pay, I made paying off my loans a priority, so we wouldn’t be burdened with them as we aged.

I was also very lucky in that in 2002, just after I graduated from the University of South Carolina with dual master’s degrees, I was able to take advantage of a very low interest rate that probably isn’t available anymore (although I haven’t checked). I consolidated my loans and locked in that rate (3.75), and that really helped me a lot. I remember thinking the $57,000 in Stafford Loans I owed would never get paid off– but I was able to do it, little by little. Now I realize that I actually got a bargain. Some people borrow that much for just one degree. I managed to get three.

Even though we managed to pay off my loans in full, I have a lot of empathy for today’s borrowers. The cost of higher education has skyrocketed since I was last in school. At the same time, salaries have stayed pretty stagnant. Then we had the pandemic, which caused a great deal of chaos for people in the workforce. Bill and I were responsible, and we did make paying the student loans off a focal point. But that’s only because we could. Not everyone has that choice. And when you’re working your ass off for employers who don’t necessarily value you with decent pay, it can feel like you’re on a hamster wheel. I know how it is. I was there myself when I was single.

It seems like Mr. Biden can’t do anything to please some people. I’ve noticed many folks whining about this new plan to help borrowers. So many folks think it’s unfair to forgive debt, especially if they’ve paid off their loans. I’ve seen a lot of people who are shocked that people earning up to $125,000 will qualify. Do those people understand that some areas of the country have a much lower standard of living than others do? Someone making $125,000 may seem “wealthy” in rural Kentucky or Arkansas, but they would be far from wealthy in California, New York, or parts of Virginia. I’m also willing to bet that a lot of Republicans will gladly take advantage of this plan, even as they complain about Biden.

I know it’s normal for people to complain when their preferred politician isn’t in office. The level of contempt some people have for Joe Biden is pretty sickening. I don’t understand it. I mean, I get that he’s not the most exciting we’ve ever had. He inherited quite a mess, though. I don’t remember any other incoming president facing the level of chaos Mr. Biden did in January 2021. Moreover, Donald Trump has literally done things that are CRIMINAL. People still think he should be in charge, in spite of his obvious propensity to lie, steal, cheat, and molest. I don’t understand why more Americans don’t want a law abiding, decent, responsible person in the White House. But try to ask some people about this, and they will accuse you of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and being a “hater”. I wouldn’t “hate” Trump if he didn’t act like he’s above the law and make the United States a laughing stock around the world.

Count me among those who think Mr. Biden has done remarkably well, under the unusual circumstances he’s faced. I don’t know if he’ll make it to a second term, but I will vote for him again if anyone like Trump or De Santis is running for president in 2024. I do think it would be good if he bowed out of a second term, mainly because he is so elderly and being POTUS has got to take a severe toll on him. I would like to see a younger person run for the Democrats. But I would take him ANY DAY over Trump, simply because he’s humane and decent, and he doesn’t steal classified documents, constantly golf, mug for the camera, or post on social media, nor does he brag about grabbing women by the pussy. Anything good Trump did for the United States was done at someone else’s expense. He is a classic narcissist, and they are never good for anyone but themselves.

Speaking of narcissists, I did take a peek at Twitter and noticed that Ex was crowing about this news. She claims her loans are paid off, but this will “help” her children. I couldn’t help but shake my head, because I know the reality behind her comments. Below is how she responded to one person who was lamenting about student loans:

That’s horrible! It’s like loan sharks just like another poster said. My student loans are no longer owed but my husband and several of my children have student loan debt and this will help our family tremendously! The only thing I’m worried about is my daughter in college now!

Ex forced Bill’s daughters to drop out of high school, get GEDs, enroll in college, and take out student loans, of which she helped herself to the excess after tuition was paid. The loans were taken out in her daughters’ names, which means that they alone were responsible for paying them off, even though it was Ex who was using the money. Younger daughter explained all of this to us, and told us that she had managed to pay off the debt, even though she doesn’t have a degree to show for it.

I also know that Ex has declared bankruptcy several times, including one time when she and Bill were married. Besides the bankruptcy, there was also a foreclosure. But there’s ol’ Ex, acting like she’s fiscally responsible. I don’t understand why she feels the need to lie to strangers on Twitter, but I guess it’s just a facet of her “extra” personality. When I met Bill, his credit rating was abysmal, and he was carrying credit cards with loan shark level interest rates. He now has an excellent credit rating, but that didn’t come without significant hard work and several long years of being very diligent about our finances. The end result is that we’ve both managed to recover from the financial disasters she wrought.

I probably shouldn’t pay any attention to her… but she is genuinely fascinating. If she’s out there in the wild, you know there are a lot of others like her. So many people feel like they have to fake it until they make it, and present a false self to everyone.

I’m glad that Joe Biden is doing something that will help middle class student loan borrowers. I know that some people don’t think this measure is enough, while some are resentful that they paid off their loans and won’t be benefiting. I, for one, think this is a good decision. What I think would be even better is if the cost of attending college went down significantly, as alternatives to college are also offered to those who would fare better learning a trade.

One thing I think Germany does right is offering higher education to those who are most likely to succeed, while also offering people the chance to learn skills or trades. Not everyone is cut out for academics, and not everyone needs a college degree to succeed. I am very grateful I had the chance to go to college and graduate school, and obviously, I could handle the work. But I often feel badly about the fact that I went to school and use my education, mostly, for this blog and entertaining Bill. It seems like a waste… even though I know that when I started graduate school, I had no plans to marry anyone. I was sure I was going to be an old maid. It’s funny how life changes just when you least expect it.

For those who wonder how I managed to pay off my loans… I’m going to offer my best tips. It may not work for you, but this is what worked for me. It’s pretty simple, actually. I started by paying an extra $20 per month on my minimum payment. At first, that extra money didn’t make a big dent, but it did help pay off interest faster, which led to the principal finally going down on a steady basis instead of staying the same. Always remember that if you’re paying the minimum, you won’t get anywhere with any expediency. That minimum will just pay for interest, and you want to work on the principal, which will also lower the amount of interest you get charged.

As time went on, I continued to add to the extra amount I paid each month. Maybe six months after I started paying an extra $20, I bumped the extra amount to $50. Then I went to $100 extra, and watched with delight as the principal diminished. I started getting letters from my lender, letting me know that I was paid ahead and didn’t need to keep paying extra. I ignored those letters and paid more and more, until I had finally whittled down my principal to about $2000. At that point, we had the money to just pay off the last of the loan, so that’s what I did. Boy, was that a good feeling! Again… we accomplished this nine years ahead of time! I’ve successfully used the same technique on car loans and paid them off ahead of time, saving money on interest and ridding myself of stress and headaches caused by debt.

It may initially seem very difficult to part with that extra $10 or $20 when it feels like you can’t keep ahead of your bills. But, if you’re buying $4 coffees or other little luxuries, you probably can afford to pay a little extra on your loans. It won’t seem to make a difference at first, but as time goes by, you will find that the little bit adds up, and you will soon have a cushion that will make paying off the debt more comfortable and less stressful. Of course, you do have to keep at it– consistently pay a little extra, and consider adding to the amount extra over time. That takes discipline, diligence, and determination. But if you set your mind to it, you will find that it really pays off in the long run. Just my one little pearl of advice to anyone who reads this.

Well, it’s time to practice guitar… got to do my Thursday vacuuming, too. It’s another hot day, and our poor backyard is just parched. I am praying for some rain.

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complaints, money, weather

This heat can go away now! So can scammers!

Yesterday, it got up to about 98 degrees. I spent most of the day in rooms where I have portable air conditioners, which helped a bit. It’s still pretty miserable, though, this time of year in Germany. I was sweating all day, and spent a good portion of the afternoon sleeping and having weird dreams. I even pulled out a cold wrap I bought on a trip to Maine about ten years ago. It can be microwaved or frozen and put over the shoulders. It does help to cool one off, but only for as long as the wrap stays cold… which isn’t that long.

Just before I was about to go to bed, I got an email from USAA. Someone tried to use my credit card to buy $107 worth of chicken wings from Wingstop! I had been watching the card all week, because there was a pending fraudulent charge all week from Stack Magazines. The charge was authorized, but the merchant never took the money. I didn’t call, because in the past, when I’ve called the bank about pending charges, they tell me there’s nothing they can do until it goes through. Obviously, the person who got my credit card number decided to be bold and try to order food. Thankfully, USAA caught it, but now once again, I have to wait for a new card to get to me.

A few months ago, my debit card got scammed, and I had to wait for a new one to get to me. I was pretty angry about it, because they kept denying legit charges, but then when an obviously fraudulent one went through, they approved it. It was obvious, because it was for a food outlet in the USA, and I can’t even access their Web site from my location because it’s geo restricted. They denied charges in Europe, thinking that was “weird”, even though I live in Europe and have for eight years. But then they let some idiot in the USA pay for food and an Uber with my card.

At least this time, they immediately blocked the charge, so good on USAA for that. I see that they’ve also already assigned me a new number, though I still have to wait for the card to get to me. I do think it’s crappy that I’ve had this happen twice now with USAA’s cards, just in 2022 alone. It’s probably not their fault, though. It’s the lowlife scumbags who think they have the right to steal from other people by committing credit card fraud who are at fault. Also, I was happy that the person I spoke to last night was professional and polite. Unfortunately, that’s no longer a given with USAA. They used to have stellar customer service, but things have definitely gone downhill.

I’ve been trying to get rid of USAA’s banking services, but it’s really hard to do that over here. German banks don’t like doing business with Americans, thanks to our tax laws. They are required to report to the US government on any accounts held by US citizens. So, that’s why we use American banks… It’s a pain. Cumbersome banking is a somewhat small price to pay, though, since the lifestyle is good here. Except, of course, when it gets hot, and there’s no air conditioning. Slowly but surely, Europe is starting to embrace the concept of cooling homes… but our house doesn’t have it yet. I bet our landlord will eventually put it in, though. He says he wants to install a heat pump, replacing the oil system we have now.

I’ve been reading more horror stories about the state of the world. I could write about them today, but I think I’d like to take a short break from those headlines and keep things somewhat “light” for my Friday post. Right now, I’m listening to Doris Day and thinking I’d like to try one of her songs. Writing about the usual topics doesn’t exactly contribute to the romantic mood of Doris Day’s songs. So, I think I will close today’s post and do a little music for a change. It’s good for my mood. Better than reading about gun violence, anti-abortion zealots, and child abuse, anyway…

Happy Friday, y’all.

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complaints, healthcare, law, money, politicians, politics, religion, social media, social welfare

Something I hadn’t thought about here on the “Road to Hell”…

I meant to write about today’s topic yesterday. It was inspired by a New York Times opinion piece I read the other day that pointed out some unintended consequences of our new post Roe v. Wade reality. But I got mired in a contentious Twitter conversation that led me astray and got me so pissed off that I donated money to the pro choice cause. Yesterday, I decided to write about that decision, instead of the new insight I gleaned from that very wise opinion piece, written by Tressie McMillam Cottom, a Black woman who is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science, the author of “Thick: And Other Essays” and a 2020 MacArthur fellow. The piece she wrote, titled “Citizens No More”, really drove home some of the ways life for women in the United States could change if we don’t nip this anti-abortion nonsense in the bud.

For a long time, I have been writing about the potential negative health consequences that could arise in the wake of making abortion illegal. What I hadn’t considered, though, is that criminalizing abortion will likely also affect women in the workplace. Tressie McMillam Cottom spelled it all out in her opinion piece. She writes:

I grew up choosing where and how I work because Roe v. Wade gave me many of the same basic rights of personhood as men, for example. Millions of women have, to different degrees, been able to do the same.

I agree. It was the same for me, my entire life. I was born months before abortion became available to all women in the United States. My whole existence, I’ve known that if I ever needed or wanted to have an abortion, I could get one. In fact, I grew up in southeastern Virginia, and I distinctly remember that Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that opened in Norfolk, Virginia the year after I was born, used to run radio ads on the station I listened to before school every day. I remember hearing the commercials about how a woman could access safe, compassionate care if she wanted to terminate a pregnancy. It was not a big deal to me, because I heard those ads all the time. I never thought twice about them.

Here’s a news clip about the Hillcrest Clinic, an abortion clinic that used to operate in Virginia when I was a young woman.

Then came the 1990s, and I remember reading in the news that abortion clinics were being bombed and doctors who performed abortions were being targeted, harassed, and in at least a couple of instances, murdered. Dr. Barnett Slepian was one abortion provider who was executed in 1998 by a gun toting anti abortion zealot. Another was Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was shot in both arms years before he was finally murdered in 2009. On December 31, 1994, 22 year old John Salvi came into Hillcrest Clinic and opened fire, shattering the doors, but not injuring or killing anyone. The day prior, Salvi had stormed into two abortion clinics in Massachusetts and opened fire, killing two receptionists and wounding multiple clinic employees and volunteers. In many of the violent cases involving abortion providers being assassinated, pro-life zealots justified the killings, claiming they were “saving the unborn babies”. It seems ridiculous to me that highly trained physicians who simply wanted to help women were killed by people claiming to be “pro-life”. But life in the United States is often kind of confusing and odd, isn’t it?

I was a young woman in the 90s. Fortunately, I was not sexually active at the time, and I never had any gynecological issues, so I never needed to consider taking birth control, let alone having an abortion. But I knew that if I ever did need abortion services, and I was still living in Virginia, I could go to the Hillcrest Clinic in Norfolk.

The years went on, and lawmakers did more and more to restrict abortion access and discourage women from ending their pregnancies. They passed new laws, forcing clinics to upgrade their facilities to the point at which they were almost like hospitals. Hillcrest Clinic finally got to a point at which they could no longer operate. Ironically, it was because fewer women needed or wanted to have abortions, probably because they were getting educated about sex and had access to effective contraception. Hillcrest Clinic closed its doors in 2012, after serving the community for about 40 years.

Along came 2002. I finished graduate school and got married. Getting pregnant at a bad time was never an issue for me. But the same could not be said for my peers. I do know some women who did seek abortion care, and none of them has regretted their decision. I know they are living productive lives now, with families they formed when they were ready to be parents.

Now, with this new reality of conservatives trying desperately to force women to give birth, those choices are in jeopardy, even for women who never get pregnant. Tressie McMillam Cottom explains:

With Roe v. Wade toppled, we do not have the same rights in all labor markets. In a global market, an empowered worker is one who can migrate. With Dobbs, women cannot assume that we can safely work in Idaho the same way that we can in Oregon or Washington. I cannot negotiate wages or time off with an employer with the same risk profile as those who cannot become pregnant. An employer who offers lower pay in a state with abortion care indirectly benefits from women’s inability to take our labor on the open market across the nation. Thanks to a rogue court, women’s lives are now more determined by the accidents of our birth than they were a week ago.

Those accidents of birth include circumscribing women’s lives by making them dependent upon corporate beneficence. Some companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, immediately issued statements that they would offer reimbursements to employees for traveling for abortion services. The largess of Dick’s and other companies is noteworthy. But it requires women to disclose their health status to a boss they have to hope is well meaning. That says nothing of also hoping that corporate management or leadership does not change. Well-meaning employers can come and go. They also vary in how well meaning they are in terms of pledges of their employee support.

Those two paragraphs made me stop in my tracks. All along, I’d been focusing on health and happiness. It never occurred to me to consider how not being able to access abortion could affect women in the workplace, even in states where abortion access is guaranteed (for now). I also hadn’t considered that the companies who offer women help in getting abortions would also be requiring those women to discuss their private healthcare decisions with their employers. And, as the article also points out, some companies, such as Starbucks, have placed conditions on their offers of assistance. From the article:

 [Starbucks noted that] it cannot guarantee that benefit to workers in unionized stores. Union drives at Starbucks have increased worker power. Many of those workers are women and people who can become pregnant. Potentially attaching support for abortion care to non-unionized labor is a perfect example of why corporations should not be arbiters of human rights.

So basically, people who can get pregnant will have to decide what’s more important to them– access to abortion services, or worker’s rights.

I noticed in the comment section that most people were arguing about the morality of abortions. It seemed that very few had bothered to read Tressie McMillam Cottom’s opinion piece, which I thought was very sobering and kind of scary. I decided to leave a comment that people really should read her piece. If you click the link in this post, you should have free access to the link, as I am a New York Times subscriber and allowed to gift ten articles per month. If you are a person of childbearing age and can get pregnant, you might want to consider what is at stake. It will affect all women who work, unless it’s obvious that you’re beyond childbearing. Then, you’ll just experience age discrimination. 😉

I want to also bring up another alarming news article I read yesterday that complements Tressie McMillam Cottom’s piece. According to the Washington Post, some Republican lawmakers are trying to draft legislation that could block pregnant people from crossing state lines. Again, I’m gifting the link to this article, since I am also a Washington Post subscriber. From the article:

The National Association of Christian Lawmakers, an anti abortion organization led by Republican state legislators, has begun working with the authors of the Texas abortion ban to explore model legislation that would restrict people from crossing state lines for abortions, said Texas state representative Tom Oliverson (R), the charter chair of the group’s national legislative council.

“Just because you jump across a state line doesn’t mean your home state doesn’t have jurisdiction,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society. “It’s not a free abortion card when you drive across the state line.” (Figures it’s a MAN who said this. I hope he goes straight to Hell.)

I read about this development yesterday, after having yet another fruitless discussion with two older pro-life people on Twitter– a man and a woman, both of whom were conservative, and both of whom clearly never really stopped and thought about what eliminating abortion will mean to women, and American society as a whole. The first person who took me on was an obviously conservative man, who basically said that people who get pregnant by accident should be forced to gestate. He was kind enough to allow abortion for rape and incest cases. For everyone else it was, “she made her bed and now she needs to lie in it.”

I noted that he seemed to think pregnancy should be a punishment. He disagreed, arguing that birth control can prevent pregnancies, and “personal responsibility” should trump a gestating person’s right to make healthcare decisions about their own body. I tweeted to him that I didn’t think he’d really thought very long or hard about the abortion issue at all. I could have come up with a laundry list of my concerns, to include healthcare privacy and the fact that women in many states will have to prove their need for certain obstetrical procedures. Instead, I wrote that it doesn’t seem wise to me to force people to be pregnant when they don’t want to be, because it could mean that they won’t take care of their prenatal health. And fetuses would be developing in someone who might be very depressed and unwilling to seek medical care. That could then lead to babies being born with medical conditions that might have been prevented if the pregnant person had simply been more “responsible”.

I won’t even go into the huge list of reasons why this mindset isn’t fair to women. Men seem to forget that their health is never affected by pregnancy. It’s just their livelihoods that are potentially affected. What I was really thinking of, though, is that pregnant folks might soon find themselves in a different class of people, with fewer civil rights. This guy on Twitter was insisting that he didn’t think pregnancy should be a punishment, as he was also clearly pointing out that people should be forced to gestate. And, I’ll bet if I pressed him, asking him what he thought should happen to pregnant women who don’t seek appropriate medical care (which, of course, they would have to pay for), he would say the women should go to jail. Sounds pretty punishing to me. Now, granted, he didn’t actually say that during our discussion– which went on for much too long– but I’ll bet money that he would get there. Americans seem to LOVE to see people go to prison.

This isn’t an empty threat. I looked up forced prenatal care yesterday. It has happened. The link leads to one case from 2000, but there are others, and that Washington Post link I provided is about how some extremists would like to make it illegal for pregnant people to cross state lines. That sounds very punitive to me, and it would likely discourage people from seeking medical care. Another unintended consequence is that there will be some women who will stop having sex with people– particularly men– who can get them pregnant. I’ve already seen at least one Reddit thread from a man who is upset that his girlfriend is on a sex strike because of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

In an earlier blog post, I shared Jessica Kent’s very distressing video about her experience giving birth while she was incarcerated in Arkansas. If we don’t do something about these wackos who are trying to criminalize abortion, there will be more women who experience the hell of being pregnant behind bars. It won’t be good for women OR those precious babies. And, things are already getting shitty in Texas. Yesterday, I watched this woman’s heartbreaking video about the horrible trauma she experienced, trying to take care of her miscarriage in Texas last year.

This video is absolutely horrifying. My heart breaks for her. She had a lot of trouble accessing prenatal care, too.
Sharing this again for those who missed it. This could be a reality for many more women if the pro-life zealots get their way.

The other person who engaged me yesterday was an older woman who had many of the same arguments the man did. She was very condescending to me, and kept preaching about personal responsibility. I didn’t tell her that I was SUPER responsible when I was younger. I was a virgin until two weeks after my wedding day, and was 30 years old when I finally had sex for the first time… with a man who’d had a vasectomy. I also didn’t tell her about my background.

But toward the end of our chat, she wrote that she has a four year old granddaughter who was conceived accidentally. Her granddaughter is the light of her life. And you know, that’s really lovely. I’m happy for her. I wrote that I hoped her granddaughter never needed to have an abortion, which is sometimes necessary for health reasons. And I hoped that her granddaughter wouldn’t lose some of her healthcare privacy rights, due to her sex. The woman wrote back that my concerns about healthcare privacy were “ridiculous”. All I can do is shake my head… as Randy Newman sings, “I’m dead, but I don’t know it…” I think that observation would apply to this woman’s brain.

Clever song. I think this could be the state of women’s healthcare privacy and freedom very soon.

But instead of sharing the link to Randy Newman’s song, I wrote that my concerns about privacy are NOT ridiculous, and a lot of us are very concerned about it, and with good reason. Then I bid her a good night, because I was tired of tweeting in circles and felt my time would be more productively spent cleaning the lint out of my belly button or something.

Well… I could go on. I am kind of rueing exploring Twitter, because now I get exposed to some real twits besides Bill’s ex wife. But at least it gives me another source for my blog, right? And since I mentioned Ex… here are a couple of her most recent comments. I could start a blog that focuses on the inanity of Ex’s Twitter feed. For your amusement…

My daughter is 19, a HUGE fan of yours(read your book), along with TMNT; she wants to be a voice actress more that ANYTHING! Rob, how can I encourage her? I can’t afford acting school in NY, though she was accepted! Please, any advice for a mom who just wants to support a dream?!

Omg … my eyes…. My ears… make it stop! It’s like reliving the day I sang “If” by Bread in 1981 at a school talent show with, literally, the sweetest and kindest guy in the world! Except, alas, it was never to be… still love him with all my heart!!

She once sang “The Sweetest Thing” by Juice Newton to Bill. To this day, he can’t abide that song.

So ends today’s rantings. Hope it provides food for thought.

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ethics, Ex, family, money

She’s back “on the fence” about things…

This is going to be another frank, and potentially “inappropriate” post. Proceed with care. And if you think I’m a jerk for writing this, you’re probably right. But that may be the worst you can say about me.

It’s Memorial Day, but not in Germany, where it’s a normal workday for German people. It’s not a workday for Bill, though, so he’s home, sneezing because of all the trees having sex, as spring begins to turn into summer. Bill’s big plans today are to get himself on my cellphone contract, at long last, and to pay a visit to the local Telekom and speak to someone about the useless cable box we’ve been renting since late 2018.

A technician came by our house at that time, but was unable to hook up the cable to our television. He didn’t tell me why, other than to say “it’s not possible”. My guess is that it has to do with the phone line, which we don’t use, since we have cell phones. Anyway, we are technically subscribed to German cable TV, but we can’t watch it. I’ve been bugging Bill to do something about it, since his German skills are better than mine are. He’s decided that today is the day.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to recover from my restless night. I am not quite menopausal yet, in spite of my apparently ancient appearance to mean-spirited “pro-life” losers on the Internet. I spent all night having to go to the bathroom, because it’s that time of the month. Consequently, for the second night in a row, I didn’t get much sleep.

Then, when I finally did fall asleep, I had a nightmare about the singer, Anne Murray, and her daughter, Dawn. There were some aspects from my recent life that were in the dream, to include people moving (common in the military community at this time of year), and people committing suicide, which sadly has also been something in our lives recently. But, you know how dreams dissipate when you wake up, unless you’re very disciplined about remembering, like Bill is. He’s been working with a Jungian therapist for the past year, so he makes a point of remembering his dreams. He even writes them down and sends them to his analyst. Then, at their weekly meeting, they have fascinating discussions about what the dreams might mean.

I have no idea why Anne Murray was in my dreams this morning, or why she would be part of a nightmare. I like Anne Murray’s music. Remember, I am a child of the 70s and 80s, so her music was a big part of the soundtrack of my extreme youth. I find some of her songs comforting, even.

Once I was awake, and tried to tell Bill about my bad dream, adorable Noyzi, the street dog, decided to pay us a visit. He still hasn’t figured that he can push open doors by himself. Maybe he’s too polite to try that. It took him forever to realize that he can push open the screen curtain on the back door, which is poorly held together by magnets. Once again, I’m amazed by how different Noyzi is from the beagles we’ve had. He’s very well mannered, and doesn’t try to make trouble. Ironically, I’m sure our former landlords wouldn’t have wanted him in the house, because he’s a big guy. But he’s probably the best behaved dog we’ve ever had.

So, once we were awake and enjoying breakfast, I decided to check in on Ex, to see if maybe she knows about the latest grandchild. I would have expected her to mention it on her very public social media by now. But nope… she still advertises her “4.5 grandchildren”. She was actually pretty quiet over the past few days, but I guess she needs money again, because she’s posted another crowdfund request for people to help fund a fence for her youngest son, whom she’s said has severe autism. Now… I have no reason to doubt that her son has autism. In fact, I’m sure he does have severe autism. However, I have learned to take what she says and writes with a grain of salt. After twenty years of observing her, I have concluded that she’s not a very honest person.

Regular readers might recall that a couple of months ago, Ex was begging people to help her erect a tall fence for her son, whom she says has a bad habit of escaping her home. She’s said she’s been confounded by his efforts to run away, and she’s tried a whole bunch of things to keep him from taking off. All have reportedly failed. So now, she needs the help of strangers to pay for a fence to contain the young man, so he can “play” outside. She also wants to get a therapy dog for him, and that costs big bucks that she doesn’t have, because there’s only one paycheck coming in to her household– my guess is that it’s #3’s work as a certified nursing assistant that keeps their household going.

In March, Ex paid a manipulative visit to my husband’s widowed stepmother, and asked her for “financial help”, which SMIL wisely declined to offer. Then, Ex brought SMIL packing and mailing supplies, in case SMIL wants to give Ex anything to “pass down” to Bill’s MIA older daughter, who still doesn’t speak to Bill, and didn’t have much of relationship with Bill’s dad when he was still living. On the trip to see SMIL, Ex brought older daughter and her daughter with #3. I’m not sure what she did with her “escape artist” son with severe autism, who desperately needs a fence because he runs away. Perhaps #3 took some time off work. I’ve heard that #3’s mother lives with them, but I’ve also heard that she isn’t in the best of health. It seems unwise to have her watch a teenaged boy with autism who runs away.

Anyway, after that visit, I noticed that Ex quietly took down the link to her fundraiser. But yesterday, she put it up again. Or, she put up another one, and tweeted celebrities, begging for money. Looks like she’s leaving Mark Hamill alone this time, but George Takei got tweeted at, as did a couple of actors from a show she watches, and a famous author whose books she reads. This time, she’s asking for $6000, instead of $5500. Last time she did this, she contributed $500 to her own campaign, which didn’t result in inspiring anyone else to add any funds.

You’d think that Ex might try to come up with another way to get the money she claims to need so badly, given that the crowdfunding technique hasn’t worked in the recent past. I know it can be difficult to apply for grants and loans, and I know for a fact that Ex isn’t the most creditworthy person. She says that crowdfunding is her only recourse. But, as someone who has a master’s degree in social work, I call bullshit on that. I think she just needs money, and figures that her son’s situation is the best sob story to present.

Money provided by grants and loans would likely require accountability, or at least paying back the money, plus interest. Ex would rather depend on the kindness of strangers to take care of her family’s alleged financial needs, as she also plays fangirl to entertainers, artists, and authors. Does she access their works from the library? Or does she buy autographed copies of things… or monthly “gift” boxes of trinkets from Scotland? Seems to me she might have more luck funding the fence if she spent more time figuring out how to make the money herself. But… I don’t think she actually wants to build a fence. I think she has bills to pay, or burning desires that she wants to fulfill. And she rationalizes that if nice people who have money to spare can help her out, she won’t have to repay them, and they don’t have to know how she uses the money.

I also wonder what will happen if she actually manages to get a service dog for her son. Does she realize that dogs are a financial commitment? How does she intend to pay for all of the things a dog needs? And what will she do when the dog is more into her son, as is appropriate, than her? She’s not proposing getting a family pet. She claims she wants a service dog. But if they get a service dog, that dog will have to pay attention to the boy. Knowing Ex, I think that might be a real challenge for her.

Anyway… I realize it’s none of my business. I am lucky enough to be wise to her. I think that younger daughter is wise to her, too. I suspect that she hasn’t told her about the latest addition to her family being born. I’m sure that’s because Ex will make it about her, and might even threaten to visit. And I’m sure that younger daughter could use some peace and quiet, not to mention some rest. I do think it’s interesting, though… that the people who were denied access to younger daughter for so many years, are the ones who care the most about her baby being born. And they were evidently the first to know. Meanwhile, Ex is “back on the fence about things”, again. 😉 Come hell or high water, she’s gonna get that fence… maybe by the time her son is legally a grown man.

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