book reviews, politicians, politics, Trump

Reviewing Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House…

I finally got around to reading Washington Post reporter, Bob Woodward’s 2018 book, Fear: Trump in the White House, even though I bought the book when it was first published. I still have a bunch of other books about former U.S. president Donald Trump that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I have a bad habit of buying books and letting them stack up, sometimes waiting to be read for years. But I also find reading about Donald Trump particularly difficult, mainly because I find him disturbing and depressing to read about, even if he is also kind of fascinating. I mean, it saddens me that so many people think he’s so great, but it also fascinates me that people don’t see what I can see so plainly.

This morning, after a concerted effort, I finished reading Fear, and I have Woodward’s follow up book, Rage, waiting to be read. I think I finally read Fear because there has been so much press about Woodward’s more recent book, Peril, which was published last month and is about the transition of Trump’s administration to Biden’s. I haven’t purchased Peril yet, but the reviews made it sound like a compelling read. I figured I should read the previous books before I get to that one. I did start reading a new book this morning, but it’s not about politics. I need to take a break after reading Fear. I guess the title was appropriately chosen.

So… on with my review…

Bob Woodward is an award willing journalist and associate editor who has worked for The Washington Post for 50 years. So far, he’s written at least 20 books that have been national bestsellers, and he’s shared in two Pulitzer Prizes. The man has quite an impressive pedigree as an author, as fourteen of his books have been on The New York Times bestseller list. Having just read Fear, I can attest to Woodward’s ability to write. Fear was easy to read and understand, and I never found myself skimming, as I did when I read John Bolton’s book, The Room Where it Happened. Bolton came off as kind of pompous, writing for himself and, more pointedly, his ego. Woodward, on the other hand, writes for his readers. That’s the kind of writing that is a pleasure for me to read.

Fear tackles the beginning of the Trump era. It’s mainly about Trump’s staff, and the lengths they went to try to “handle” him– harnessing the tremendous power Trump suddenly and surprisingly got when he was elected president. Woodward explains how staff members were chosen to work with Trump, as well as the difficulties Trump’s staff faced as they tried to deal with Trump’s overwhelming personality. Many of the people who worked in Trump’s White House were experienced professionals, particularly within the military. On the other some staffers were people who got jobs because of how they looked, or because they were friends of Trump’s… or because they were his relatives.

Steve Bannon gets a lot of coverage in this book, although Woodward was probably kinder to Bannon than he should have been. I always got the sense that Steve Bannon was a bit of a manipulative snake, but Woodward makes him seem more professional than he ever appeared to me in this news.

In straightforward, clear prose, Woodward uses his investigative journalist skills to uncover Trump’s early days in power. Woodward clearly tried to be impartial and often gives Trump more credit than he probably deserves. I can appreciate the attempt at trying to be fair and impartial, especially given the fact that Trump is the most polarizing president I have seen in my lifetime. It could not have been easy for Woodward to maintain such decorum.

I think Fear is a well-written and researched book, and I learned new things by reading it. However, I agree with some of the reviewers who mention that there’s nothing particularly “earth shattering” or deliciously juicy about Fear. The trouble is, Trump was so heavily covered in the press that a lot of what’s in Woodward’s book, while easy to read and digest, is stuff that was already in the news.

I probably waited too long to read Fear. If I had read it when it was first published, I might have gotten a lot more from it. I might enjoy Peril more, simply because it covers the end (hopefully) of Trump’s political career, when things really got weird. But, as I mentioned earlier in this review, I felt like I should read the first book of Woodward’s highly touted trilogy. I did learn some new things, and there were some entertaining passages about some of the interactions Trump had with some of his staff. I particularly enjoyed reading about Trump’s long suffering lawyers, who did their best to get Trump to take their advice rather than simply acting on impulse. Many of Trump’s staffers were the “adults in the room”, but they could never seem to get him to settle down and get to work. Most of them were always “putting out fires” and dealing with Trump’s tantrums.

Anyway, according to Amazon, most people thought this was a good book. Some people thought it sucked. I didn’t think Fear: Trump in the White House was bad at all, but it could have been better. I did feel like the end of the book was a bit abrupt. I was reading about Trump’s lawyer, John Dowd, deciding to resign from Trump’s service. Then, suddenly, the book ended, and I was knee deep in footnotes and sources. I do think Fear is a good reference for those who want to read more about Trump. There’s plenty of associated reading to be explored.

I think if I were giving this a rating between one and five stars, I’d give it a 3.5. I found it easy to read and mostly interesting, but I wasn’t too shocked or surprised by much of what I read. If I had read this in 2018, I probably would have had a slightly more favorable reaction to Fear: Trump in the White House. But in September 2018, I was about to move and had a lot of other stuff going on… and frankly, I remember not being able to bring myself to read a book about Trump, because I found him rather terrifying. I still do, to be honest.

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healthcare, politicians, politics, rants

The Party of Family Values, my ass!

Last night, I read a New York Times article about how the Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to block the Abortion Law in Texas. The Biden administration is planning to challenge the law, giving the Supreme Court Justices the opportunity to take another look at it.

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people commenting about the article. Quite a few comments came from conservative white men, many of whom wanted to know why women didn’t simply “abstain” from having sex. I had to have a laugh at that. In my experience, it’s usually not the women who are wanting sex the most. I mean, yes, there are lots of women who enjoy having sex, but I think men are the ones who are mostly driven to have it.

As we all know, when a woman gets pregnant, she’s usually pregnant for nine months. A man, on the other hand, can do his part in creating babies with a woman, then do the same thing with another woman the next day… and the day after that… and the day after that…

So why are we so focused on women when it comes to stopping abortion? Why aren’t we more focused on the men?

No… I don’t support forced vasectomies, just as I don’t think women should either be denied or forced to have abortions (and when I was a social worker, I did have a minor client who was forced to have an abortion she didn’t want). But I do think a lot of men need to be shaken up a little bit and reminded that if they’re so against abortion, there are things that they can do to stop them. For one thing, they can stop having sex for fun. Do you think that’s extreme? It’s what the men often tell women when this issue comes up. So many of them seem to think pregnancy should be punishment for what they deem as immoral, “slutty”, behavior. They don’t seem to think of the aftermath of what happens to the poor child who could be born into that situation.

A lot of men want to blame women for “getting themselves pregnant”. But no woman gets pregnant by herself. I’ve never seen a man’s name on a medical bill for a pregnant woman’s care, though. And I’ve never head of a biological man having to be on bed rest during a pregnancy. And when the baby is born, the man often has an easier time of going back to work. There’s no healing involved… no breastmilk coming in… no postpartum health issues.

Anyway, I managed to restrain myself from commenting too much on that particular piece, although I did comment that sometimes abortions are medically indicated. I added that at no time is it anyone’s business when someone else chooses to have one. A lot of women were adding their thoughts, and one guy was taking them on, one by one. He asked me what medical conditions might require a woman to have an abortion.

Seriously, guy? My response was that I wasn’t wasting my Friday night to teach this dude about obstetrics and gynecology. Instead, I directed him to the excellent video by Mama Doctor Jones that I’ve already shared in this blog more than once. She very clearly spells out why this new law, Senate Bill 8, is very bad news. Here’s the video again for those who missed it.

As Mama Doctor Jones pointed out, people who are pregnant are always at a higher risk than people who aren’t.

But, in short terms, someone who is pregnant and happens to have any kind of chronic disease, like diabetes, or lupus, or cancer, or someone who has mental health or addiction issues, or someone who can barely support themselves… those are all people who might benefit from having the choice to have an abortion. And there are other situations that may make someone consider terminating a pregnancy. At no time is it anyone else’s business.

I finally navigated away from the infuriating comments from the men on that thread and went to sleep. Then this morning, I woke up to this headline from the Washington Post— “Republicans fault Buttigieg for time off with newborns. Democrats say he’s showing the need for paid parental leave.“. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, became parents of two newborns in August. They spent over a year trying to adopt the babies, often coming close to success, only to have their hopes dashed. They finally got their wish, and now the couple is rightly taking parental leave.

Republicans, who often refer to themselves as The Party of Family Values, apparently don’t think it’s cool that Buttigieg is taking time to bond with his new babies. Tucker Carlson, of Fox News, actually mocked Buttigieg for taking paternity leave, saying

“Pete Buttigieg has been on leave from his job since August after adopting a child. Paternity leave, they call it, trying to figure out how to breastfeed. No word on how that went…”

So… basically, the Republican Party is all for family values, as long as they’re “traditional”. All of these Republican men are so against abortion, but then they mock two dedicated parents for taking time off to nurture their new families? Republicans want to force women to give birth, but they object to allowing new parents time to actually care for their babies? That doesn’t seem very “family friendly” to me.

Many Republicans probably just don’t like the idea of homosexuals raising families. That’s a real shame, since most of my homosexual friends and relatives are some of the finest people I know and are wonderful parents. They certainly understand the importance of a loving and supportive family. Too many of them have been cast out of their families simply due to who they choose to love.

Now… I’m not saying that all Republicans are homophobes. I’m sure there are plenty of people who identify as conservative, but aren’t actually homophobic. The trouble is, too few of them are in public office. The United States is unusual among developed nations for not recognizing the need for parents–both male and female– to be able to take family leave. Slowly, things are changing. Bill told me this morning that even the Army is allowing new dads to take leave. I’m sure the positive effects of that policy will become apparent in the future.

President Biden is trying to introduce new policies that will make the United States a more family friendly place. Maybe if we had more policies that made having babies and raising children easier, there would be fewer abortions. Just a thought.

Republicans want women to have babies no matter what, but they don’t support allowing parents to actually take care of those babies. So what does that mean? The baby goes to a child care facility while the parent goes right back to work? Aren’t these the same people bitching about socialism and government overreach? Okay, so maybe the child care facility is privately owned and run… and super expensive! Wouldn’t it be better if we allowed the parents of babies to actually take care of their babies when they’re super young?

Recently, Buttigieg has been more present on the job. He recently commented about his new role on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”:

“It’s been wonderful,” Buttigieg said during that appearance. “It’s everything people tell you to expect and more. I think the biggest thing that has surprised me is just how much joy there is, even sometimes in the hard parts. Don’t get me wrong — it’s the most demanding thing I think I’ve ever done, that Chasten and I have ever taken on, but it’s just amazing.”

He sounds like a good dad to me. A good, and present, dad makes for a healthier family.

Even Fox News gives new parents six weeks of leave– which is not enough, in my opinion. But, in March of this year, “Fox & Friends” co-host Todd Piro took six weeks of paternity leave after his daughter’s birth. Piro was grateful for the time to spend with his new baby girl.

“I cannot thank Fox enough for providing all fathers who work here with such a generous paternity leave,” Piro wrote in an op-ed in April. “This experience has changed me in a profound way and in ways I won’t fully comprehend until my daughter is older. But for now — that smile coming from the crib each morning, immediately followed by morning snuggles — is what I will cherish the most.”

And other Fox hosts have also praised having the chance to take leave. When his third child was born in April 2021, Fox News host Jesse Watters admitted that he now supports paid paternity leave.

“Now I am pro-paternity. I used to mock people for taking paternity, I used to think it was a big ruse, but now, you know, I wish I could take six weeks,” Watters said.

But Republicans are still bitching about Pete Buttigieg’s “gall” at taking parental leave. They’re criticizing his leadership potential and making personal insults instead of working with him to make policies that actually benefit American families. They’re trying to force women who aren’t ready to have babies to stay pregnant, while denying them any assistance that would help them have healthy babies and actually raise those babies into well-adjusted and well-prepared adults.

Meanwhile, Democrats are lauding the idea of parental leave, as well as leave that would allow people to care for their sick and aging parents. Bill and I are in the “sandwich generation”– that stage of life in which we might have been really squeezed if we’d had children. So far, we aren’t affected the way many of our peers are– I have friends who are caring for their children, as well as their elderly parents. It really puts a strain on middle aged people and, frankly, makes them vulnerable to chronic diseases themselves.

I don’t think Republicans actually are the The Party of Family Values. I think they are The Party of Greed, Sexism, and Racism, and trying to control women’s bodies. There’s much more to living than working and making money. The conservative men, many of whom are drunk on their own toxic masculinity, ought to step aside and think about this for a minute. They say they’re against abortions because it’s an assault on the “sanctity of life”. They say adoption is a better choice. But Pete and Chasten Buttigieg have adopted two babies, and now they’re getting their chops busted by Republicans who mock them for wanting to have a family…

I guess “family values” for Republicans only apply to traditional couples. What a shame. I think Pete and Chasten Buttigieg are going to be fabulous parents. I wish them well, and I’m glad they took some time to adapt to their new life roles. All Americans should have that opportunity. Republicans should embrace the idea, especially if they’re serious about wanting to curtail abortions. Stop the slut shaming and moralizing and actually make some policies that would make the prospect of having children more workable and feasible.

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healthcare, politicians, politics, poor judgment

The COVID curse… Lora Reinbold, an outspoken conservative, comes down with the virus.

Several weeks ago, I read about Republican Alaska lawmaker, Senator Lora Reinbold, having an unusual problem. Reinbold represents Eagle River, Alaska, which is near Anchorage. The capital of Alaska is Juneau. Reinbold is not able to travel to Juneau, because it would require flying on Alaska Airlines, which is the only airline that offers flights this time of year between Anchorage and Juneau. Reinbold is not allowed to fly on Alaska Airlines right now.

Last April, Lora Reinbold, an outspoken critic regarding federal face mask mandates, got into an argument with Alaska Airlines staff at Juneau International Airport about the mask rules. Because of that heated exchange, which was captured on video and went viral, Reinbold has been banned from flying on Alaskan Airlines until the federal mask mandates are lifted. At this writing, they have been extended until January 18, 2022.

I’m sure a new meme is forthcoming…

Delta Airlines offers flights to Juneau at other times of the year, but is not offering them now. So Lora Reinbold’s choices are to either take a boat, or drive for two days, to get to the state capital. She has been excused from legislative sessions until next year.

Meanwhile, as she sits at home, stuck in Eagle River, Reinbold has now come down with COVID-19 herself. She announced on social media that she’s got the virus and has promised to defeat it. Below is a screenshot of her Facebook post.

Well… I do hope she can stay out of the hospital. But other outspoken conservatives before her have made similarly bold statements on social media and did not survive to do a victory dance.

And here’s a follow up posted 12 hours later. She paired this with a photo of a sweet looking golden retriever.

I hope, for her sake, she’s right… but I wouldn’t necessarily bet the farm. She might still “buy the farm”, if you know what I mean.

All of the photos I have seen of Lora Reinbold show her wearing what looks like some kind of plastic mask thingy. It does appear to cover her nose and mouth, but it’s made of a clear material, so her whole face can be seen. I don’t know if that type of “mask” is effective or not. I’ve never seen anyone else wearing them. I do remember last year, some waiters and waitresses at a restaurant Bill and I like had a sort of clear shield that covered the lower half of their faces. We visited that restaurant the other day and no one was wearing them then; they all had surgical masks.

I don’t know if the plastic mask Reinbold has been shown wearing does more or less than a surgical mask would. I have never had much faith in cloth masks and, in fact, have never worn a cloth mask myself. They aren’t allowed in Germany, anyway. I mean, you can wear one if you want to, but if you want to go into a shop or take public transportation, you have to use a medical grade mask. I have stated from the beginning that if I have to wear a mask, I prefer them to be masks I didn’t buy on Etsy. I also think that staying away from people is better than wearing a mask, especially when the isolation is coupled with a COVID vaccination. I also don’t know if Reinbold is vaccinated. It was not made clear in the articles I’ve read. Based on the screenshot below, I suspect she’s not been innoculated.

Oh dear.

I do think it’s interesting that after she made a big stink about wearing a mask on a plane and referred to the masks as “suffocating”, Lora Reinbold now has the virus. Now she has to put on a brave face to her public. She says she’s doing fine. I truly hope she is. Alaska hospitals don’t need another patient. From what I’ve read, hospitals in Alaska are having a hell of a time dealing with COVID patients.

I don’t cheer for anyone getting COVID-19, even people who act like fools. Well… okay, maybe I did kind of smile when Trump got it, but that’s because I despise Donald Trump. I think Trump is dangerous and repulsive. But I recognize that even Trump has loved ones who would miss him if he died. I’m sure Lora Reinbold does, too. Aside from that, I’ve read that dying of COVID is a pretty awful way to go. I try hard not to wish suffering on others, even if sometimes I fail. I’m human… but the Golden Rule is still a good mantra. If I were sick and dying, I would hope most people wouldn’t cheer about it. I know a few people would, though. I’ve got my enemies.

What I do find concerning is the way people “laugh” about COVID. Below is a comment someone left for Senator Reinbold. Notice that she got “laughing” reactions. I don’t understand why people are so shitty. It appears that the people who “laughed” are liberal types… I guess it just goes to show that assholes come in all political flavors.

She’s a human being who just lost her mother. That’s not really a laughing matter, is it?

I do hope Lora Reinbold recovers and is able to stay at home. And I hope if her “get well soon” recipe works, she’ll share it and help save some lives. However, it’s my guess that she may be in for a tough time… I have some friends who have had COVID. At least a couple of them had to spend time in the hospital. We’re all about ten years younger than Lora Reinbold is.

I like to hear about people getting over COVID-19, especially since while some of us are sick from COVID, we’re all really sick of COVID. So count me among those who hope that Lora Reinbold gets well soon, even if she did make an ass of herself at the airport. I don’t blame her for hating face masks. I hate them too. I hope someday, they are no longer necessary. I do my best to stay out of situations that would require me to wear them for long, including flying on airplanes. Bill has to go to Poland next month. He invited me to go with him, but it would require flying, and I just don’t know that I want to deal with that, even if I would enjoy seeing Warsaw.

I do think that the situation with flying isn’t going to improve as long as masks are required. Many people keep saying they’re “not a big deal”, but clearly they ARE a big deal to some folks. There’s been a noticeable uptick in bad behavior in airports and on planes since the masks became required. So obviously, not everyone is okay with wearing them. And while I cooperate with the mandates myself, I can understand why some people feel the need to fight them, even if I don’t condone violence or bad behavior. What I’m saying is that I get that the masks suck, and I think it should be okay to say that without being “corrected” by the PC police. At the same time, COVID sucks more… and we’re not going to get past this shit until people cooperate.

I don’t think Lora Reinbold’s approach to COVID is a particularly smart one, but it’s her life. I don’t know that Ivermectin and vitamins are going to save her, but we’ll see what happens. Maybe she has a super excellent immune system… or maybe she got a less dangerous variant… or maybe she’s going to be lucky. Time will tell. I hope the other conservative pundits who want to publicly declare their superiority over COVID will take note. Maybe they shouldn’t say it out loud. At this writing, several conservative radio show hosts have mocked COVID and later died of the virus. It’s way past time more people started taking this seriously. COVID is not a joke.

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politicians, politics, Trump

Trump is gearing up for another go at being POTUS… I can’t stand it.

The above photo is a screenshot that is enough to inspire nightmares. On another note, I doubt Trump ever had a physique like that one. He’s the Eric Cartman of world leaders.

Last night, as I struggled to fall asleep, I read an article about how Donald Trump is chomping at the bit to run for president again. The idea of another four years with him running the White House is enough to give me anxiety induced indigestion. I really hate the idea of it. But I am not surprised he’s gearing up for another run, since he’s a malignant narcissist who can’t lose with dignity. And he doesn’t seem to know when the party is over and it’s time for him to go home.

I know there are still many people in the United States who would dearly love to see Trump run and win again. Lots of people I grew up with– many of whom are, pardon the expression, total rednecks– feel like Trump is the one president who didn’t ignore them and spoke up for their needs. What they don’t seem to understand, though, is that Donald Trump actually disdains people who are just “plain folks”. They seem to think Trump would invite them over to his house for a well done steak covered with ketchup and watch football and pitch horseshoes with them, or something. That’s not the case at all.

Donald Trump disdains people he thinks of as “losers”, and that would certainly include people who aren’t wealthy, well-connected, or very good looking. At the same time, he’s threatened by people who are winners. He would rather those people work to elevate him, rather than congratulate them on their own successes and encourage them to keep succeeding. Unless, of course, he can somehow parlay their successes into something he can use for himself and his agenda.

Some time ago, I remember seeing a cartoon posted on social media depicting Trump sitting at an old fashioned soda counter next to a small child. In the drawing, Trump looks “fit” and muscular, and leans over to a boy wearing a pro-Trump t-shirt. The caption was, “Don’t worry kid, we’re coming back.” It depicted Trump as this old fashioned, all American, God fearing, heroic, great guy, who loves children, families, and the American way. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is, Donald Trump is just a con man with racist and “rapey” proclivities. He’s always been that way, and he will always be that way. He’s a narcissist, and they don’t change, nor do they do anything that isn’t strictly for them, and their agenda. That’s what makes him a disastrous failure as a “leader”. Moreover, I don’t see Trump getting that close to anyone who hasn’t made his dick hard. He is reportedly a germaphobe, and I strongly doubt he has much affection for children, even ones who wear pro-Trump t-shirts. He especially has disgraceful attitudes toward girls.

Recently, I read that Donald Trump is being asked not to publicly declare his candidacy for the presidential run in 2024. This is because people are afraid he will upset the midterm elections. Many voters are still reeling from the shit Trump did when he was in office, and I think Republicans are hoping they can somehow sway those people to vote red again after another year with Biden at the helm. A lot of people don’t like Joe Biden, and I think Republicans are hoping for more time to show that Biden isn’t a good president. But Trump is probably not going to listen to the powers that be in the Republican party. Why? Because he’s a narcissist, and narcissists don’t listen to other people. They do what they want, other people and their needs be damned.

Kellyanne Conway’s husband, George, gets it.

I also think that many Republicans secretly realize that they have created a monster in Donald Trump. He will not stop interfering in politics, now that he’s gotten a taste of the power that comes from being president. It will probably take his death to stop him. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who apparently is also eyeing a bid for the White House, used to champion Trump, and Trump championed him. But now, Trump sees DeSantis as a threat, and is trying to psych him out of a presidential run by calling him a loser. Frankly, I would absolutely hate to have DeSantis as president, either… but I do think this situation is an example as to why people should never have trusted Trump. He has no honor and no loyalty, and he does not care about anyone but himself. Trump doesn’t support his supporters. He thinks of them as chumps.

In fact, Mike Pence’s former coronavirus advisor, Olivia Troye, made a video last year slamming Trump. In that video, she noted that he was much more concerned about being re-elected than preventing deaths from the pandemic. According to Troye, Trump said:

“…maybe this Covid thing is a good thing… I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people…”

Of course, Trump and Pence both claimed that Troye was just a “disgruntled former staffer” who wanted to say bad things about Trump. But what about the time Trump referred to America’s military war dead and injured as “losers and suckers”? This from a man who didn’t do his part in Vietnam, due to “bone spurs”… and yet, many people in the military still think Trump is “da man”. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I have up close and personal knowledge of how many people in the military become indoctrinated to the cause and their leadership, especially when the leader is a Republican.

I read another article about Melania Trump’s former press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, who is now throwing the Trumps under the bus in a new tell-all book. I haven’t decided if I will read her book, since I hate to give money to someone who fully supported the Trump regime and is now very much a hypocrite. I may decide to read the book, simply because it may have some truth in it worth revealing. Like it or not, Grisham was privy to a lot of “tea” during her stint in the White House. And she has publicly said, “I am terrified of him running for president in 2024…” Grisham says that it would be all about revenge if Trump were to run. Grisham further states that she believes if he won, Trump would push “some very draconian policies” shaped by his base.

In other words, he would not have to worry about re-election, so we could all look forward to Trump becoming completely unhinged, and feeling totally emboldened to act like a crazed monkey throwing shit at the masses. It would be a disaster. Human rights and any policy devoted to decency, cooperation, and democracy would go down the shitter. I would expect a lot of people to become disabled and/or die, too, because of more gun violence, disease caused by public health and health system failures, and irresponsible health choices associated with poorer safety and wellness. Trump is not, for instance, a leader who encourages people to take care of themselves and other people. He encourages people to be selfish, irresponsible assholes, like him.

But people love junk food, and lots of people love Trump, because he is the political equivalent of junk food. He’s a “hamberder and fries” to the “grilled turbot and steamed vegetables” of more liberal candidates. Which isn’t to say that I would want the “tofu and bean sprouts” of an extremely left wing candidate, either. I support moderates, and candidates who have everyone’s best interests at heart. I support leaders who care about other people, not just half-cocked, drunken uncle types, who only care about fat wallets and their own sexual gratification.

Trump supporters see Trump as being for their brand of “freedom”, which is all about their individual liberties– except for when it comes to private health decisions made by pregnant women. They don’t want the government dictating how they spend their money, what they wear on their faces, or if they get a vaccine to protect themselves and their communities against a deadly novel virus. They want to ignore all of the dangers of today and live their lives as if it was still 1955, and women were barefoot and pregnant, people of color “knew their places” in society, and conservative white men were on top of things. It really is nauseating if you think about it for long and you have any sense of decency.

A screenshot from the insurrection on January 6. If Trump comes back, I expect more of the same.

I read this morning that some of the people who stormed the Capitol on January 6, 2021 are starting to get their punishments for trying to overthrow the government. One story was about a guy from San Antonio who got sentenced for 45 days in jail for traveling to DC, being part of the mob, and spending twelve minutes in the Capitol building. The guy hadn’t actually engaged in violence or vandalism, but the judge noted that he’d made a conscious choice not to respect the results of the 2020 election. These folks were cheered on by Donald Trump. He encouraged them to riot in his name. I only hope that some of the people who were involved in the January 6th rioting get a clue and cast their votes differently in 2024. I don’t think the United States can survive another Trump presidency.

I truly do get being conservative. I understand wanting to vote Republican. But PLEASE– let’s find someone to run who is not a complete sociopath. Let’s find someone with a conscience who cares, on some level, about other people. It’s true that most politicians are a bit narcissistic, but Donald Trump is narcissistic on an epic scale. We can, and should, do much better than voting him in again. It’s time for all decent people to pull their heads out of their own asses, open their eyes, and see beyond the bullshit. Vote for people, not parties.

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healthcare, law, politics, rants, YouTube

Women behind bars are having a bloody awful time handling their periods…

Last week, I wrote a post about how adorable YouTuber, Mama Doctor Jones, who is an OB-GYN and mom to four, did a video about a woman who had a baby while she was incarcerated. I was really moved by Mama Doctor Jones’ reaction video to Jessica Kent’s story. Next thing I knew, I was on Jessica Kent’s YouTube channel, which is full of interesting videos about her time in prison. Jessica Kent is tiny, well-spoken, and apparently sober, having spent much of her youth in trouble with the law.

I haven’t yet familiarized myself with all of Jessica’s story, but I have watched a bunch of her videos. As I listen to how this fiery young woman wound up on the wrong side of the law, I can’t help but wonder what might have happened to her if she’d never gotten arrested. She’s very bright and articulate, and I think she’s determined to go far. Jessica has obviously embraced the power of the Internet, and has a presence all over social media. She’s pursuing a college degree, but I wonder if she’s already making a lot of money creating videos for YouTube.

Last night, I watched a video by Jessica Kent that made me very angry. It was about how she and her fellow female inmates in Arkansas were forced to make tampons out of the maxi pads doled out to them. Jessica explains that female prisoners in Arkansas are not given tampons and, in fact, can only get really poor quality maxi pads– and just two per day at that. Jessica says the pads are state issued, and she’s never seen the type of pads the state issues for sale outside of the prison walls. Because the pads are so poorly made, they have to be turned into tampons, which last longer than the pads do. So Jessica made a video to demonstrate how to make the tampons.

This is absolutely infuriating!

More than once, Jessica implores her viewers not to try to make these “tampons” at home, since the pad she’s using is not really the type she would have used in prison. Apparently, the pads we can get at the store are too “cottony” and “powdery”. In any case, I can’t imagine why someone would want to make a tampon like this if they weren’t incarcerated and forced to do so.

Jessica says that not all states have this draconian limit on feminine hygiene supplies in their prisons. For instance, when she was incarcerated in her home state of New York, Jessica had no problem getting all she needed for that little feminine monthly chore. New York, of course, is a blue state, and human rights are apparently more valued up north.

For some reason, the powers that be running the prisons in Arkansas think that two maxi pads per day are all a female prison inmate needs when she’s menstruating. I think about my own menstrual habits and realize how disgusting and unhygienic that is. As a woman, and a person with a public health educational background, it amazes me that prison officials in Arkansas are allowed to get away with this practice. At the very least, it seems like it would be a serious health risk to everyone who is incarcerated. Many diseases, some of which cannot be cured, are spread via blood exposure. Plus, it’s just so nasty!

I read in another article that, in some prisons, women who can’t get proper feminine hygiene supplies will pass up visits with family or their attorneys when they have their periods. They have to wait until they can get their laundry done, before they’re not sitting in their own blood. Kimberly Haven, the author of that article, writes that before and after each visit, inmates are strip searched, and have to squat and cough. The whole process is so demoralizing and horrifying that a lot of female inmates would prefer to skip it, even though attorneys and family members are powerful advocates for the inmates.

In another article, I read about how, in Connecticut, two female cellmates would have to share five state issued maxi pads among themselves. Every woman is different, of course, so there’s no way to tell how long a period is going to be and how often feminine hygiene products need to be changed. But the inmates in Connecticut also had to learn how to stretch their products out, sometimes by reusing them. The inmates in Connecticut could purchase supplies from the commissary, but for those who don’t have money, that $2.63 cost might mean one less phone call home or not being able to pay for a visit to the prison doctor. Also, realize that prison jobs often pay very little– like 20 or 30 cents an hour. It takes a long time to make enough money to buy the proper supplies if there’s no one on the outside helping.

I have stated before in this blog that I’m not a big fan of incarceration, but I especially dislike inhumane treatment toward people who are incarcerated. Yes, it’s true that the best thing for anyone to do is to avoid going to prison in the first place, but people who are locked up are not going to improve their behavior if they’re treated cruelly. Forcing women to handle their body functions in this way is demeaning and cruel, and it doesn’t deter crime. Prison is supposed to be unpleasant– it shouldn’t be dangerous and unhealthy.

According to my reading:

In 2017, then-Sen. Kamala Harris and her colleagues Sens. Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Richard Durbin introduced a bill to provide free menstrual products to incarcerated people in federal women’s prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons issued a guidance memo, separate from Harris’ bill, mandating that menstrual products be available to all incarcerated people in federal correctional facilities at no cost shortly after. In 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a more general justice reform effort that included access to menstrual products. 

So… if you’re a woman who goes to a federal lockup, or a prison in a blue state, you’re more likely to be able to take care of these basic body function needs. But there’s no legislation in most states that require state prisons to accommodate menstrual periods. Frankly, I think that’s a sin, and I would love to see some high profile lawsuits happen that force states to do a better job in this area. In a wealthy country like the United States, this unsanitary practice should be outlawed. We’re supposed to be “better” than this… although I think many Americans are fooling themselves thinking that the United States is a civilized country. When we have female prisoners who are sitting in their own menstrual blood every month for want of adequate feminine hygiene supplies, we’ve lost the right to refer to ourselves as “civilized”.

It’s also unfair that prisons don’t automatically take care of this issue, since this is not a problem that male prisoners have to face. In fact, men don’t even need toilet paper as much as women do, but according to Jessica’s videos, women in Arkansas prisons only get two rolls a week. That’s really not much, especially when it’s that time of the month. But a lot of men involved with making laws don’t want to hear about this problem. It’s too “gross” for them. The first paragraph of an article in the Public Health Post opens with:

When Arizona’s all-male House of Representatives heard House Bill 2222 on feminine hygiene products, Representative Jay Lawrence said “I’m almost sorry I heard the bill…I didn’t expect to hear about pads and tampons and the problems of periods.” Introduced by Rep. Athena Salman, Arizona House Bill 2222 allocates funds to provide women in state prisons with unlimited and free access to feminine hygiene products. Access to sanitary menstrual products is considered a basic human right in European prisons. Not so in the US.

Wow, Jay… you’ve shown us just who you are with your lack of compassion or comprehension of how necessary it is for you, and your male colleagues, to hear a bill about providing necessary supplies for women who menstruate. I wonder if Jay Lawrence can even fathom how humiliating and shaming it is for a woman to have to deal with this problem when she can’t get the supplies she needs. Does he have any women in his life that he loves? What an asshole.

Aside from how gross, messy, and unsanitary this problem is, the practice of turning pads into tampons could potentially be unsafe or even deadly. Consider that the inmates probably don’t have the cleanest surfaces for improvising these products and they may not be able to keep themselves optimally clean. Then they’re sticking the tampons into their body orifices, where the improvised tampon might abrade the skin or otherwise introduce pathogens into the body. An inmate could potentially get very sick or even wind up with toxic shock syndrome doing this. Toxic shock syndrome can lead to sepsis, which can cause a person to lose limbs or even their lives.

A tampon did this to Lauren Wasser.

Model Lauren Wasser, who was not incarcerated when she left a tampon in too long and got toxic shock syndrome, lost BOTH of her legs to the sickness. She very nearly died.

I know a lot of people don’t care about the plight of prisoners. Personally, I still see them as human beings who are entitled to decent, respectful, and humane care when they are incarcerated. And part of being humane is making it possible for people in custody to be able to take care of private, personal body functions like menstrual periods. I know I would support legislation requiring that clean and hygienic feminine hygiene products be made available to women in prisons. I hope others can see how important this is.

And… once again… I am so glad menopause is around the corner.

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