ethics, healthcare, politics, rants

“My body, my choice…”

Just to be clear… I am not in agreement with today’s featured photo. I’m just posting it because it’s an idea I’ve seen floating around since COVID-19 started. I don’t think being in favor of allowing abortion of an unintended pregnancy is at all the same thing as the prospect of potentially making a vaccine mandatory is, especially during a global pandemic. Maybe I’d be more in agreement with the comparison if pregnancy could be caused by breathing.

This morning, I read an interesting comment thread on an article in The Washington Post. The article was about how so many people have gotten vaccinated against COVID-19 and hoped that things would be getting back to “normal”. But, as the Delta variant continues to spread, and people stubbornly refuse to get vaccinated or take other protective measures against the virus, no one is able to “relax”. Sadly, the vaccines are not proving to be as protective against spreading the illness as we’d hoped, although evidence suggests that the vaccines help prevent severe illness, hospitalization, and death.

The comment thread was full of the usual finger pointing and nastiness. But then I saw a comment that echoed a common refrain during this pandemic. It was about being “pro-life”, and how people who refuse to take COVID-19 precautions aren’t really pro-life. The last comment in this thread belongs to me. Because I’ve seen the lame responses from Republicans about how vaccine mandates violate the idea of “my body, my choice”.

I am truly baffled by this.

Do I really need to explain why someone who is considering having an abortion is not in the same situation as people who want others to get vaccinated against a disease that spreads through the air? Okay… I’ve got nothing better to do, so here goes.

Everybody has to breathe. There is not a single person in the world who can live without respiring. But COVID-19 primarily spreads through aerosols in the air, and the virus is proving to be extremely wily. Every one of us needs all the help we can get to avoid getting seriously ill. Each new incarnation of the virus is proving to be more contagious than the last, and while many people have gotten COVID and survived, there’s a significant number of people who are winding up in hospitals, seriously ill and dying. Healthcare workers and undertakers are EXHAUSTED, and families are being devastated as family breadwinners are suddenly dying. These are people who are young and were previously perfectly healthy. And they are leaving their spouses and children bereaved and struggling.

An unintended pregnancy, or a pregnancy that threatens a prospective mother’s life in some way, is not a threat to anyone except the person who is gestating. A developing fetus takes up residence in another human being. I’ve heard and read many Republican legislators referring to pregnant people as “hosts”. As distasteful as the word “host” sounds, there is an element of truth to that concept. A pregnant person is “hosting” a developing person, and that fetus relies entirely on the “host” until it’s born. Many times, the pregnant person is happy to be gestating, but sometimes the pregnancy comes at a bad time. Maybe the person isn’t prepared to be pregnant and is dealing with health and/or economic issues that make pregnancy an insurmountable challenge. Maybe the person is pregnant due to being a crime victim. Maybe the developing fetus has a serious birth defect that would make being born crueler than being aborted.

Lots of issues can come up that would make someone consider ending a pregnancy. Any of the issues that would make someone consider having an abortion are, frankly, no one else’s business. Time and again, I’ve read disgusting comments by conservatives about personal responsibility. So many of them seem to think someone who unintentionally gets pregnant should have to “lie in the bed they made for themselves.” I’ve got news for them, though. NO ONE unintentionally gets pregnant without another person’s participation. That other person isn’t the one whose health is affected by the pregnancy, nor are they the ones whose names are on the medical bills.

Other, uninvolved people don’t want to be responsible for making sure the gestating person gets proper medical care and financial assistance, if it is needed. A lot of the people who think the pregnant person should be forced to gestate against their will also believe they should be shamed and humiliated for being in that situation. Meanwhile, the person who got them pregnant frequently gets off “scot-free”. I might be more willing to accept the pro-life stance if more people actually cared about those babies once they’ve been born. But a lot of people truly don’t care, especially if the baby turns out to have special needs and needs a lifetime of financial and medical assistance.

COVID-19, unlike unintended pregnancy, is spreading like wildfire among unsuspecting people. And no one knows how the virus will affect them. Some people get it and never know they had it. Others get it and are dead within days or weeks. So, to me, it makes perfect sense that the so-called “liberals” are pushing for everyone to be vaccinated. At this point, vaccination seems to be our best hope at arresting this menace before more people die. Maybe someone will come up with an effective treatment, but at this point, that silver bullet hasn’t yet been discovered. People are exhausted by the depressing COVID-19 lifestyle because, for a lot of people, it just plain sucks. So they heap on the pressure for others to do their parts to end the pain. That’s where all the finger pointing and demonizing come into play.

Personally, I’m not a fan of blaming others. COVID-19 is a notoriously easy to spread virus. I don’t think the vast majority of people mean to get infected. A lot of people are doing “everything right”, and they’re still somehow getting sick. But people are frustrated and angry, so they point fingers at others. Finger pointing doesn’t seem like a helpful thing to be doing, in my opinion. But you know human nature… It would be better, of course, if we all came together and cooperated. Fat chance of that happening.

If COVID-19 weren’t so easily spread, I think I would be much less concerned about who’s been vaccinated. I read this morning that the current version of the virus is as contagious as chicken pox. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that having COVID-19 gives anyone permanent immunity. The vast majority of people who get chicken pox will not get it again, although they can get shingles (varicella zoster), which is also pretty shitty. I had shingles when I was 26 years old. It was a mild case, but I sure didn’t enjoy it. It would have been better if I could have avoided being exposed to the varicella virus; that way, I wouldn’t have to worry about getting shingles next time my immune system is on a downward spiral.

I think today’s youngsters, who can get the chicken pox vaccine, are very fortunate. My generation was lucky to get the measles and mumps vaccines. I don’t know anyone who had measles when I was a child, although it was a pretty common childhood illness in previous generations. Lots of people got measles and survived just fine. Others got it and died! Some years later, when being “anti-vax” came into fashion, measles cases went up as some parents, who had never known the horror of measles, stopped vaccinating their kids. Guess what? Some unvaccinated kids started getting measles, got really sick, and were sometimes dying again.

The measles vaccine made what used to be a common childhood illness so rare that people forgot how dangerous it could be. I suspect the same could be true for COVID-19 as it continues to develop and mutate and vaccines and treatments improve. Hopefully, COVID will eventually turn into something much less threatening than it currently is.

Pregnancy, you see, is not spread through the air. People get pregnant, most of the time, by having sex, and one doesn’t have to have sex in order to live. A lot of times, the sex is consensual. Sometimes, it’s not. Sometimes, the sex is consensual, but the birth control fails. Sometimes, the sex is consensual and the pregnancy is wanted, but the developing fetus has catastrophic birth defects or the mother’s life is in peril. In no case, is another person’s decision to have an abortion harming anyone else or threatening their very life. The only person who is truly affected by the decision to have an abortion is the person who is gestating and doesn’t want to be, FOR WHATEVER REASON. I get that sometimes the father is distressed by the abortion decision, but it’s not his body or health on the line. It’s not his name on the medical bills. It’s not his bladder being danced upon or his blood sugar or blood pressure being raised. ALL of that stuff solely affects the pregnant person.

Unintended pregnancies really only threaten the person who is gestating. I know some might argue that the fetus is also threatened, but the reality is, over 90 percent of abortions occur early in pregnancies, and at that stage of development (under 13 weeks), the fetus is unconscious. Abortions that occur later in pregnancy happen at a much rarer rate, and the ones that happen at beyond 21 weeks gestation make up about 1 percent of the total… and they usually happen because there’s a serious medical issue involving the pregnant person or the fetus.

COVID-19 affects everyone. COVID-19 threatens everyone. People who don’t take precautions legitimately put others at risk.

I don’t think the “my body, my choice” argument often heard from people who rally for abortion rights really applies when it comes to COVID-19. I recognize that not everyone can safely take the vaccine, and some people have had adverse or allergic reactions to it, just as some women have adverse reactions to being pregnant. The difference is, you’re not going to get pregnant if a pregnant person breathes on you. Exposure to a COVID-19 positive person might cause you a serious illness, and you might even get sick enough to die or suffer permanent disability, or spread it to someone else who will get very sick. A COVID-19 positive person might not be recognizable, since he or she can be asymptomatic. And again, every single one of us has to breathe, or we’ll die. COVID-19 is spread through breathing. COVID-19 causes people not to be able to breathe anymore.

“My body, my choice”… when it comes to this virus, there really is no such thing. So, until we come up with an effective treatment or something else that greatly reduces the risk of spreading this disease, I am going to be on the vaccination bandwagon. I think it’s our only hope at this point. And I pray more people join me, although I feel a bit pessimistic about the future. This is probably going to get worse before it gets better.

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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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complaints, politics, rants, stupid people, tragedies, work

You should worry about yourself…

Apologies in advance for this disjointed rant. I have a lot on my mind, and it’s coming out in heaves today. I hate to say it, but I’m beginning to think that a lot of people who identify with conservative values are actual morons without consciences or souls. It’s probably because, as usual, I’ve spent too much time looking at the news.

A few days ago, I noticed that my former college professor answered a question on Facebook about whether or not she would accept a ticket to see Bill Cosby perform. She answered “no”. Just as I was about to click off the page, I noticed that my cousin responded. This cousin shares a Facebook account with his wife, so I’m not sure which person actually wrote the comment. Friends, I was a bit sickened by it. He or she wrote that Bill Cosby is “past his prime”, but was good in concert back in the day. And Cosby had engaged in some “negativity” some time back, but is otherwise a good entertainer.

I was pretty flabbergasted. So I commented, “You’re referring to dozens of cases of drugging and raping women as ‘negativity’?” I didn’t add this, but I should have also written, “And Cosby ADMITTED to doing this, too. He’s out of prison on a ‘technicality’.”

I can hardly believe I’m related to this guy. Well… actually, I guess I can believe it. I remember overhearing him tell a nasty story to another cousin when I was six years old. He and the other cousin, also male, were several years older than I was. Still, they made it seem like a funny story, so I repeated it to two younger cousins and got in trouble with my aunt, who gave me a tongue lashing I haven’t forgotten. Later, she apologized to me, explaining that her kids were very young and “didn’t know what to do with that”. Um… neither did I! I was six years old! And I had overheard a story being told by my cousin, who apparently thinks Bill Cosby’s habit of drugging and raping women is plain “negativity”! And he’s also a proud Trump supporter, who blithely ignores Trump’s disgusting record of treating other people like shit and, like Cosby, abusing women for his own vile gratification.

This morning, I read an article in The Atlantic from March 2021 about how a lot of relationships haven’t survived the Trump era. I’m sad to say, it’s true in my case, too. There are family members I used to love seeing with whom I no longer have contact. It’s not necessarily my doing, either. A lot of them have cut off contact with me because I think Donald Trump is a poisonous man. Somehow, they fail to see that Trump is a liar, thief, and a cheat, while they bitch and moan about people “abusing” unemployment insurance and welfare benefits. I’ve got news for them. Trump doesn’t pay his fair share. He hires cronies to screw over honest businesspeople while he harasses and molests women. Read Micheal Cohen’s book, Disloyal. Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who spent time in prison due to his business with the former POTUS, writes about how he would strong arm and screw over businesspeople on Trump’s behalf.

Meanwhile, your garden variety Republican is under the delusion that people who are getting unemployment insurance and welfare benefits just stay on those programs forever. Newsflash– they DON’T. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF– also known as “welfare”) is just that– TEMPORARY. And that has been the law since 1997! Granted, state leaders are allowed latitude in how they run TANF, but the program was designed to strongly encourage recipients to look for work or engage in training to prepare them for work. Recipients have to show proof that they are job hunting or getting training in order to receive temporary benefits. And that money is generally not enough to live on for long.

I ran across the above post this morning because another friend had answered the question. My friend answered “no”, he doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t taken a job due to unemployment insurance. He lives in Virginia, where payments are notoriously low. Just under his response was a rant from some guy who said he “knows people” who aren’t working because it will interfere with their housing allowance or “food stamps” (SNAP) eligibility. And then he wrote that there should be “time limits” on aid. I had to respond. As I pointed out, “welfare” does have time limits imposed– it was five years or 60 months (federal guidelines) or less (depending on the state), last time I checked. But so does unemployment insurance. When Bill retired from the Army in 2014, he got unemployment for a month. The money he got was based on what he’d paid into the system, and he had to show that he was applying for jobs. When he got a job offer, he had to return a payment he received, which wasn’t really much money.

I’ve read a lot of comments from conservatives who have bought into the “welfare queen” myth, thanks to a 1970s era story perpetuated by former President Ronald Reagan and like minded folks. They spread a tale about people who took advantage of social safety nets, which caused some people to believe in a stereotype about poor people being lazy and bilking the system. It seems to me that the whole “welfare queen” story was news because it’s not that common. Are there people who game the system? Yes, of course. I ran into a couple of them during my brief time as a social worker. But I doubt most people enjoy using benefits like SNAP cards, especially when busybodies are judging them for what’s in their grocery store buggy and watching how they pay for such items. Also, SNAP cards can’t be used for just anything at the store. Seems to me, most people would rather have the cash to buy things they want and need. Yes, some people are truly lazy, but I don’t think it’s as common as some people claim. Moreover, it’s actually expensive to be poor.

I get wanting to see people working and paying their own way. I understand that it’s distressing to be going to work every day when someone appears to be living off of the system. But what I want to ask these folks is, why is it any of your business? Do you know these so-called welfare cheats and unemployment abusers personally? Are you aware of their story? Do you have knowledge of their characters, or have any idea about their family situations? My guess is that you don’t– because why would you be “friends” with someone you think is a lazy cheat? If you were friends with them, maybe you’d understand more about why it appears that they’re “getting over”. Maybe you’d realize that, in fact, most of them aren’t getting over. Anyone who has ever worked has paid into “the system”, which exists so that people have somewhere to turn when they fall on hard times. The assistance we offer in the United States isn’t really that much, either.

Let me ask you this. If you had a family and were receiving benefits, would you really want to take a job at McDonald’s just so you could be earning your own money? Stop and think about it for a minute. Yes, you’re making your own money, which might be paid to you in debit cards that you have to pay a fee to access. But let’s say the money you make is less than what you’d get from welfare. How long can you afford to work for minimum wage? And why the fuck would you? In that situation, doesn’t it make more sense to get trained for work that pays better, or to search for a job with a higher hourly rate? What if you have children? What do you do with the children when you’re working at McDonald’s, which many people think should strictly be a minimum wage job? Do you pay a babysitter to watch the kids while you work at McDonald’s? How can a person get ahead that way?

I’ve often heard people complaining about folks who drive “nice” cars or have “expensive” cell phones, but turn up at food banks. The people want to know why the nice car driver or cell phone user doesn’t sell their “luxury items” so he or she can buy food. What if the car or the phone was paid for during better times? Why would someone sell their means of transportation or communication, if it’s been paid for? Isn’t it easier to find work if one has transportation or access to WiFi? Especially if the car also serves as shelter? Now, I get that owning a car or a cell phone requires money, and if someone is between jobs for a really long time, selling the car or the phone might make sense. But you probably don’t know that person’s story. Their need for food at a food bank may be very temporary. Why does it matter to you, anyway? You don’t know that person’s story, or the obstacles he or she is facing. You should know your own story, though, and you should worry about yourself.

And finally… yesterday, I read a couple of disturbing news stories about how Republicans are turning COVID “vaccine hesitancy” into outright hostility. Of all of the bullshit I’ve read about conservative “thinking”, I think this has got to be the most ridiculous, tragic, and demented. Why in the holy fuck are COVID vaccines being politicized? My God– this virus has killed millions of people WORLDWIDE! It’s not a fucking political issue! It’s a public health issue! And in areas where people are being vaccinated, the rates of COVID infections are decreasing. The fact that so many Republicans are spewing this bullshit about how vaccines are part of a socialist agenda is just unconscionable. It just isn’t true! But, according to The Washington Post, some Republicans are spewing lots of grade A tough guy bullshit. From the article I linked:

The notion that the vaccine drive is pointless or harmful — or perhaps even a government plot — is increasingly an article of faith among supporters of former president Donald Trump, on a par with assertions that the last election was stolen and the assault on the U.S. Capitol was overblown.

Appearing at CPAC, lawmakers like Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) took aim at Biden’s push for “door-to-door” vaccine outreach, framing efforts to boost inoculations as a creeping menace from big government.

“We’re here to tell government, we don’t want your benefits, we don’t want your welfare, don’t come knocking on my door with your Fauci ouchie,” Boebert said, referring to Biden’s top medical adviser, Anthony S. Fauci, her voice rising as she paced the stage and shook her finger. “You leave us the hell alone!”

However, I do take comfort in seeing that Mitt Romney, a man I dreaded seeing run for president, has said that we need to stop politicizing the COVID vaccines. It’s nice to know that not all Republicans are like Marjorie Taylor Green and Lauren Boebart. From The New York Times:

“We don’t control conservative media figures so far as I know — at least I don’t,” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said in an interview on Wednesday. “That being said, I think it’s an enormous error for anyone to suggest that we shouldn’t be taking vaccines. Look, the politicization of vaccination is an outrage and frankly moronic.

Yes, it’s moronic! I completely agree, Mitt. Things will not get back to any semblance of “normal” until we get COVID-19 better under control. This is why so many people were out of work in the first fucking place! This is why we’re having a problem with inflation, as supply and demand for certain products was interrupted because people couldn’t work. Why? Because of the deadly virus! However, during our unique COVID-19 crisis, people had the time to stop and think about how completely insane the American system is. Now, some of them are demanding some changes. I say, good on them! We should be demanding work that pays enough for people support themselves. We should be demanding access to benefits that makes living healthier and happier for everyone. People should NOT be going into onerous debt because they went to college or had the misfortune of getting sick or hurt. We shouldn’t have multi-billionaires paying workers minimum wage for demeaning work while they make plans to blast off into space as tourists. It’s sheer lunacy, and yes, it’s MORONIC!

I love Amazon… but you gotta admit, the working conditions are insane and, frankly, cruel. Why do we accept this?

Through it all, many Republicans decry abortion. They say that people who have abortions have no regard for the “sanctity of life”. But they don’t want to do anything to help people who have unintended pregnancies. They don’t want employers to have to provide birth control access in health insurance policies. Their answer is to tell people not to have sex, which we all know is a policy that doesn’t work for most (it DID work for me, but my situation isn’t the norm). Tell me… why would you want to bring an innocent baby into a world where he or she can look forward to low pay, high cost of living, onerous debts, shitty employers who treat their workers like robots, deadly viruses that people don’t want to work together to arrest, and old white men in charge who literally don’t give a damn about anything but money and “pussy”? I tell you what. I don’t think the world looks so great right now. We’ve got natural disasters out the wazoo, worldwide– here in Germany, over 50 people have lost their lives because of flooding attributed by global warming, something else conservatives don’t want to talk about or fix.

So yes… I think you should worry about yourselves. Conservatives have made it plain that in today’s world, it’s every person for themselves. They don’t care about you and yours. They sure don’t seem to want to lend a hand toward making the world better for everyone. And, as much as I always wanted to have children of my own, I’m grateful that my particular line of ancestry is going to die with me. It seems to me that many conservatives are interested in money and power, and they haven’t realized that we’re all connected. What good does money do you if there’s nothing to buy because people aren’t working? What good does money do if you can’t find someone to help you clean up after a flood because so many people have died of COVID-19 and the workers who exist are already engaged?

We need to worry about ourselves and have more forbearance toward others– but we also need to realize that we’re all in this together and we could all stand a bit more humanity. So instead of judging the person you think is “getting over”, why not pay attention to your own situation and do your part to make things better? And whatever you do, don’t make excuses for creepy predators and cheats like Bill Cosby and Donald Trump. It makes you look like an asshole.

August is wise beyond her years.

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history, lessons learned, musings, politics

“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it…” George Santayana

Last night, as Bill and I were enjoying the cool evening sundown in our backyard, I suddenly remembered what I had wanted to write about yesterday. Lately, I’ve been noticing a lot of connections between people, events, and other things I’ve run into, like books, videos, and music. A few days ago, we had a memorial for a guy I knew in the Peace Corps. My former colleague and I served in Armenia, which has been in the news in recent years as the people there try to get the Armenian Genocide recognized by the international community. I am now living in Germany, where people have been trying to make amends for the Holocaust, which took place during World War II.

The other day, I was watching YouTube videos and happened to see one about The Holocaust. It was very well done and informative. I’ve read a lot of books about people who survived The Holocaust, and I’ve watched many videos about the experiences of people during that time. But, for some reason, this particular video made me think more about what happened than the others had. Or maybe this idea popped up because I have been talking to people I knew in Armenia, and Armenia is more on my mind than usual. It occurred to me that I’ve lived in Armenia, where people are descended from victims of genocide. And now I live in Germany, where I am surrounded by people whose ancestors had a part in committing genocide. It definitely offers a unique perspective. Or, at least I think it does.

Before I lived in Armenia, I had never heard of the Armenian Genocide. In fact, I barely knew anything about Armenia. The only reason I’d even heard of it was because my fourth grade teacher was of Armenian descent and told us a little bit about his heritage. At that time, Armenia was part of the Soviet Union, so as a nine year old, I never thought I would ever get to visit there, let alone live there. My teacher did not speak about the Genocide. He told us about how Armenians were Christians and that most people’s last names end in “ian”. He said Armenians were very proud of being Christians, hence the “ian” at the end of their names. Now I know that’s factually incorrect, but it sounded good to me when I was nine.

I also remember my Armenian fourth grade teacher played Jesus Christ: Superstar for us. I didn’t hear that music again until I moved to Armenia in 1995, where it was everywhere. People in Armenia LOVED Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical. I even bought a bootleg cassette of the album and quickly became familiar with it. Andrew Lloyd Webber was very popular in the 80s and 90s, anyway, so I don’t know if Armenians always loved that show or it just became popular during their sudden independence in the 90s. Bill and I finally saw a production of it in Washington, DC in 2004.

I remember resisting this music when I was nine, but I ended up loving it when I was in Armenia.

The Armenian Genocide, which occurred from 1915-1917, resulted in the mass murder of over one million ethnic Armenians by Ottoman Turks. The murders were achieved through death marches into the Syrian desert and mass executions. Many Armenian women and children were forced to convert to Islam. When I was in Armenia, I worked in a school in Yerevan that was named after a famous Genocide victim and poet, Ruben Sevak. I see that it’s now an elementary school, but when I was teaching there, there were students of all ages, and I taught kids who ranged in age from 7 to 16 years old. During my first months at that school, Ruben Sevak’s daughter, Shamiram, who was then in her 80s and lived in France, came to Yerevan. She attended a party thrown for her at my school. I tried to keep up with all the toasts and got very, very drunk. That was probably the drunkest I’ve ever been in my life!

While searching for Ruben Sevak’s daughter’s name, I found this fascinating blog post about Sevak and his family. I learned that Ruben Sevak (Sevak translates to “black eyes”) was actually a pseudonym. His real name was Roupen Chilingirian, and he was born in a city called Silivri, located about 37 miles from the city now known as Istanbul, but then called Constantinople. His family was wealthy, and Ruben was well educated. He became a physician, having studied in exclusive schools, including medical school at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. He met his wife in Switzerland, Helene (Jannie) Apell. Big surprise– she was from a German military family! Their respective families objected to their romantic affair, but Ruben and “Jannie” finally got married in Lausanne, and later had a religious ceremony at the Armenian Church of Paris. The young couple had a son named Levon in 1912, and then their daughter, Shamiram, was born in 1914.

Ruben Sevak became politically active, joining the Armenian Revolutionary Federation. He was a prolific writer, and his works were published in literary journals and newspapers. He wrote a book of poetry in 1909. It was titled The Red Book, and the works within it recalled the Adana massacre— an event in which Armenian Christians were killed by Ottoman Muslims. He planned to write more poetry and political works in more books. He would never get the chance to fulfill that dream. Clearly, Sevak’s writings were threatening to the Ottoman Turks. He was one of the million people killed during the Armenian Genocide, having been conscripted in 1914 and serving as a military doctor in Turkey. In June 1915, Sevak was arrested, and though his wife and her parents tried valiantly to save his life, even involving the German government, their efforts would be in vain. Ruben Sevak was murdered on August 26, 1915.

If you’d like to know more about Ruben Sevak, I highly recommend following this link to the blog post I mentioned earlier. I wish I had known this story when I worked in the school named for Ruben Sevak. It actually blows my mind that I was once in the same room with one of Ruben Sevak’s direct descendants. I’m sure she’s gone now, but how amazing is it that she visited the school where I worked in 1995? What are the odds that I, an American from a small town in Virginia, would one day work in a country that was once part of a larger country that was pretty much off limits to Americans until 1991? And then I would attend a party held in honor of the daughter of a famous poet and doctor who was murdered in the Armenian Genocide? Fate is an incredible thing.

Playing For Time… a movie about the Holocaust that I saw on TV in the 80s.

I had heard of the Holocaust when I was growing up, but to be honest, I think it was because I had seen a made for television movie calling Playing For Time. That film aired in 1980, and my parents let me watch it, even though I was 8 years old. I remember the movie starred Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Alexander. It was about young Jewish women in a death camp who were musicians tasked with playing music for arriving prisoners and entertaining Nazi bigwigs. I’m not sure I totally understood the film as I watched it. I do remember thinking it was interesting and I never forgot it, but the horror of what it was about didn’t dawn on me until years later. And I honestly don’t remember learning about what actually went on during World War II when I was in school. Of course, that was many years ago. Maybe I’m mistaken. But it seems like there was so much that had to be covered during those years that we didn’t spend a long time talking about one specific incident in history. U.S. schools, at least in the 80s, covered world history in ninth or tenth grade, U.S. history in eleventh grade, and Government in twelfth grade. Prior to that, we had civics in eighth grade and social studies in seventh grade and below. I’m not even sure if learning about the Holocaust was considered age appropriate in those days.

Fascinating video, if you can take the subject matter.

So there I was a few days ago, watching the above video about the Holocaust, which had popped up randomly in my YouTube queue. I listened as the narrators described the conditions the Holocaust victims encountered as they arrived at Auschwitz. I tried to imagine the terror and extreme horror of it on some level. I thought to myself that I probably wouldn’t have survived, if I had been among the unfortunate people who went to Auschwitz or the other death camps. Hearing about it and seeing the footage is one thing, but actually living through that– watching friends and loved ones being marched off to be executed, freezing in filthy, inadequate clothes and shoes, starving while being worked to death, getting deathly ill or badly hurt and being forced to keep working… being treated as worse than the lowest form of life. It’s just so hard to reconcile that reality with what I’ve seen in Germany, having now spent about nine years of my life in this country. It amazes me that such decent people can be reduced to treating other human beings the way Holocaust victims were treated. I can’t imagine sinking so low… and yet so many ordinary people did.

It suddenly dawned on me that I have now lived in a country whose citizens were systematically exterminated by Ottoman Turks. And I have also lived in a country whose citizens systematically exterminated Jewish people, as well as political prisoners, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and anyone else Hitler didn’t like. I read that Adolf Hitler was actually inspired by the Armenian Genocide when he came up with his “Final Solution”.

This is a screenshot of the text on the last link… Hitler’s justification of the Holocaust, inspired by the murder of Armenians in the Genocide.

Then I thought of our present day situation. I read that Donald Trump is being encouraged to run for president again. He “handily won” a straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference. I have mentioned before that I see some similarities between Trump and Hitler. No, he’s not yet having people rounded up and sent to concentration camps to be murdered, although some people have compared the situation at the southern border of the United States to the Holocaust. I’m not sure I would go that far, as many of the people in that situation weren’t necessarily rounded up from their homes and forced to march to detention centers. And I don’t think there’s really anything that quite compares to the absolute sickness and sheer awfulness of the Holocaust. At least not yet.

Hmmm…
Worth a view.

The similarities I do see between Trump and Hitler have to do with the way both men worked a crowd, as well as some of the historical events in Germany that led to Hitler’s rise to power, and the actual things that both men say– which are things that most narcissistic types say. The narrator in the above video describes how Germans were caught up in fear, poverty, and bigotry. The public were frustrated and looking for scapegoats on which to blame Germany’s depressed economy. Hitler exploited people’s fears, humiliation, anger, and ignorance to get common citizens to accept him as the only person who could make Germany great again. Elections were suppressed, and soon Hitler became a tyrant who murdered millions of innocent people. If you listen to Trump’s speeches and compare them to Hitler’s speeches, you hear a lot of the same kind of stuff. No, they aren’t exactly alike, and they never will be. But I do see similarities that disturb me, and I am not the only one.

Another quotable idea.

I have watched from afar as people in my country have become more and more radicalized and unreasonable. I have seen a lot violence and heard a lot of disturbing rhetoric. I believe a lot of Americans think of Trump as their savior. They ignore the many disturbing signs of his extreme narcissism, as well as the obvious efforts of Republicans to suppress votes from people who won’t vote for them. People are very polarized and some have forgotten their basic sense of decency and compassion. I actually worry less that Trump will be re-elected than someone younger, smarter, more charismatic, healthier, and crueler might be waiting in the wings, ready to take over when Trump inevitably meets his end. I have noticed a lot of vocal Republicans who are rallying disenfranchised and ignorant people to support them in their quest to reclaim power.

“You don’t know me, but I’m your brother…”

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing blog posts like this one. Maybe I will end up being rounded up and killed. I’m sure the people who perished in the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust had no clue that one day, they would face the horrors they faced. But I can’t help but think of Spaniard George Santayana’s quote, “Those who cannot learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” So I hope and pray that enough of my fellow Americans open their eyes and demand decency and compassion in our leadership.

If you’re supporting a politician who is beloved by the KKK or Neo-Nazi groups, you may want to re-evaluate your choices. Do you really want to be lumped in a group of people who are driven to hate and kill others? Isn’t it better if we come together in peace and moderation? Is money and power really worth more than other people’s lives? Think about it… and all of the exceptional people who have died because of extremism and the desire for power, money, racism, and religion.

Look familiar?
Trump refused to condemn the KKK. He claims to know nothing about white supremacists, and yet they all love and endorse him.
Holy shit. This man was a protestor. Trump is all about silencing the critics.
And yet, they still love Trump, despite his “condemnation” of their groups! Why is that?

So ends today’s blog sermon… Gotta take Arran and Noyzi for a walk before the rain starts again.

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funny stories, mental health, politics, psychology

Dastardly Trump dumper gets caught with his pants down…

This morning, Bill made me aware of a disturbing story on the God page. I don’t follow God anymore, but sometimes if there’s a compelling or funny story, I will venture there manually to catch the buzz. And this morning’s scoop was literally buzzworthy (flies, y’all) and potentially stinky!

It seems that over the past ten years, 59 year old Matthew Guyette of Greenville, Ohio has been suffering the shitty intentions of his neighbor, 70 year old retired high school teacher, Jerry Detrick. Detrick admitted to the dirty deed when he was finally caught in the act of publicly taking a shit on Guyette’s yard at the “asscrack” of dawn… 3:15am on Sunday, May 30th. He’s also repeatedly urinated on Guyette’s lawn.

Guyette commented that he busted his neighbor, thanks to his new dog. He got up in the middle of the night to walk the pooch and literally caught Detrick with his pants down when he happened to glance over the hedge he shares with another neighbor. Again… this has been going on for over ten years!

According to The Smoking Gun, when Guyette confronted Detrick mid squat, the man simply stood up and walked away. Detrick was quickly identified when Guyette provided his description of the dastardly defecator to the police.

Why would Detrick “doo doo” such a thing? It can’t be good for neighborhood relations, right? Well… it turns out that Detrick is a Trump supporter, and Guyette and his husband are Biden supporters. Detrick told the police that was why he’d been on his serial pooping and running spree. He evidently thought he would get sympathy from the cops, who were unimpressed, and cited him for littering. Guyette notes that over 80 percent of the people of Greenville voted for Trump, so maybe Detrick thought the cops would be understanding.

But given that Detrick has been showing his ass for over TEN years and he openly admitted to being the culprit, I tend to think there’s more to the story. My guess is that Detrick may not approve of the gay lifestyle. He’s probably also a little bit crazy.

Talk about neighbor wars! This one got downright shitty!

Detrick lives a couple of blocks from Guyette’s residence and walks past it often to visit his favorite bar (at least he doesn’t drink and drive). Guyette posted on Facebook about busting him, adding that the stealth shitter also has a habit of leaving the napkins he used to clean himself after dropping his deuces. Detrick is not a very neighborly guy, is he? But at least Guyette wasn’t his only victim. According to a Facebook comment Guyette made, Detrick’s targets also included the local museum and some of his other neighbors.

I took a peek at Matthew Guyette’s Facebook page. He seems to be taking this incident with a good sense of humor, which is highly commendable. He has left his post about this Trump supporting stealth shitter public. At this point, over three hundred people have dropped by to offer their thoughts. Some of the comments are hilarious!

I’ll be honest and say that when Bill told me about this, my first reaction was anger. I would be absolutely LIVID if someone did this to me, and I would be pressing full charges– to whatever extent I could. I also would have busted Detrick years ago, because it would have become an obsession for me. It’s the height of disrespect and completely uncalled for behavior. But I will admit that I can laugh about the story, because it is so bizarre. It also reminds me of why I really think a lot of Trump supporters are either crazy or stupid… or just plain disrespectful.

Reading about this reminded me of a story I blogged about from two years ago involving two guys who turned out to be Trumpers. On March 31, 2019, then 50 year old Charles Eugene Ferris, and Christopher Hicks, then 36, two guys in Rogers, Arkansas, were sitting in the backyard drinking beer when they got the bright idea to test out a bullet proof vest Ferris was wearing. Ferris asked Hicks to shoot him, and Hicks obliged. The shot hurt, and that pissed off Ferris, so he had Hicks try on the vest. Then Ferris shot Hicks.

When I read about this incident, I knew instinctively that these two “mental giants” were Trump supporters. There was nothing at all in the article about their politics. But I just KNEW these two supported the orange turd. Handling loaded firearms and experimenting with bullet proof vests, especially while also loaded on alcohol, just isn’t something most liberal types are likely to do. I realized I could be wrong, though. So I went searching for verification, and sure enough, I quickly and easily got it.

Someone who followed my OH Facebook page commented. She is a Trump supporter, but has some basic respect and class. Unfortunately, one of her friends didn’t like that I was sharing my opinions and left me a pretty rude comment. I wrote a lengthy rebuttal, with the serious question why normally decent and normal people would want to be affiliated with guys like Ferris and Hicks… and now Jerry Detrick, who scarily enough, was once a public school teacher. This was my closing paragraph on that piece:

…the point I’m making is that it was obvious to me that these two guys in Arkansas are Trump supporters. It’s clear by their stupid behavior that they are. I could tell without even getting confirmation from a Facebook page, although I did at least take the time to confirm it. If I can so easily tell which political leader a person supports simply based on their asinine behavior, it really says something about that leader, doesn’t it? Do you really want to be lumped in with those people? Think about it.

I emphasize that last sentence this time, because two years later, this theory I have about the correlation of crazy behavior and support for Trump has, yet again, arisen. It’s not about Trump being a “conservative”. He’s not really a conservative. He’s just someone who says and does outrageous things, and emboldens the crazies among us. Why would any reasonable or sane person want to be affiliated with people who shit on their neighbors’ lawns over their political choices? Why would you want to share politics with guys who get drunk, don bullet proof vests, and shoot each other? Guys… I knew these people were Trumpers without even knowing them personally, based ONLY on their ridiculous antics!

In fairness, though, I am also reminded of another story I heard about a few years ago, also involving a former public school employee. Back in 2018, Thomas Tramaglini was the superintendent of Kenilworth Public Schools in New Jersey. But then he got busted for repeatedly leaving piles of shit near Holmdel High School’s track and football field. Johnathan Martin, the cop who busted him was the school’s resource officer, who was on high alert when Tramaglini’s leavings were spotted on a daily basis. Martin was promoted to patrol officer last year.

Meanwhile, Tramaglini’s life has been pretty “shitty” since he was caught dumping and later pleaded guilty to one count of defecating in public. Tramaglini filed a lawsuit against Martin, Police Chief John Mioduszewski, Holmdel Township and other unspecified officers. The suit alleged that Martin unlawfully took a mugshot of the former superintendent and circulated it.

Tramaglini resigned from his job, which paid about $148,000 a year, and was subjected to harassment, as were his children and other family members. As to why he was shitting by the track when he could have used one of the portable toilets about 30 feet from where his crap was found, I don’t know… He claims he suffered from “runner’s diarrhea” and even produced a medical certification from a doctor. But he never offered any proof that he ever sought “help” for his problem until after he was caught on camera with his pants down. So obviously, it wasn’t something that greatly distressed him, even if the piles of excrement might have bothered those who later found it. I’ll admit that I can’t tell who Mr. Tramaglini supports politically… but he’s obviously got some issues with entitlement, hostility, disrespect… and, of course, excrement.

I previously wrote about Mr. Tramaglini on my original blog. That story was married with another one about a school in North Lebanon, Pennsylvania where students were being required to “smile” on demand or else. That school was also in the news because the school’s then Assistant Principal, Benjamin Wenger, along with High School Principal Jennifer Hassler and Middle School Principal Brad Reist, were also accused of throwing around a sex toy during school hours. I don’t know who those fine educators supported politically, either… but their conduct as “educators” is definitely questionable, unprofessional, and perhaps even execrable.

Anyway… I commend Matthew Guyette for not taking this shit lying down… and maintaining a sense of humor and compassion, despite his neighbor’s crappy attitude. Hopefully, now that Jerry Detrick’s dumping habits have been uncovered, he’ll clean up his act and learn how to use a toilet… preferably in private!

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