ethics, healthcare, law, poor judgment, tragedies, true crime

The right to “bear arms”, versus the right to “bare arms”…

Special thanks to a witty commenter on The Washington Post for the inspiration for this post’s title… and special thanks to Wikipedia user Cimmerian pastor for use of today’s featured photo– a woman with “bare arms” enjoying her right to “bear arms” in the Czech Republic.

I actually started to write this post yesterday morning, just after I posted my rerun blog about Gene Wilder, but a friend came up from Stuttgart and wanted to visit the Christmas market in Wiesbaden, so I never got around to finishing. Now that it’s Monday, I can go back to my regularly scheduled programming… 😉

On this peaceful morning, I’m sitting here thinking about items from the news. There have been a few interesting stories this week. Of course, in the United States, there are several high profile legal proceedings going on involving Josh Duggar and Ghislaine Maxwell, and now, Michigan parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, who bought their fifteen year old son, Ethan, a pistol for Christmas.

Ethan won’t get another chance to play with his new Christmas toy… This is a screenshot of Ethan’s Instagram page before it was deleted.

On November 26, Ethan Crumbley posted a picture of the gun on Instagram. He captioned the photo with “Just got my new beauty today. SIG SAUER 9mm”, finishing with a heart-eyes emoji. Ethan’s mother, Jennifer Crumbley, also posted about the gun, and took him to a shooting range last weekend.

One week ago, a teacher at Oxford High School, in Oxford, Michigan, where Ethan is a sophomore student, noticed Ethan searching on his phone for ammunition for his new weapon. The teacher reported the discovery to school officials, who then notified Jennifer Crumbley about her son’s strange Web searches. Crumbley didn’t respond to the call from school officials, but she did send Ethan a text that read, “LOL I’m not mad at you. You have to learn not to get caught…”

On Tuesday of last week, the day of the school shooting, another teacher noticed Ethan had a drawing that showed a semiautomatic handgun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me.” There was another drawing of a bullet with the words “Blood Everywhere” written above it, and a “laughing” emoji below it. Also found on the note is the statement, “My life is useless” and “The world is dead.”

School officials contacted Ethan’s parents again, but they declined to take him out of school. For some reason, Ethan was instead allowed to go back to class. Later on Tuesday, Ethan then proceeded to use his new Christmas present to perpetrate the latest school shooting.

Ethan Crumbley is now a suspected school shooter, allegedly responsible for the deaths of four students. His parents have also been arrested; James and Jennifer Crumbley are now in jail, each with $500,000 bonds. They were apprehended after a manhunt, and were found hiding in a building in Detroit, Michigan. According to CNN, all three of the Crumbleys are on suicide watch, even though none have indicated that they plan to harm themselves.

My friend Alex wrote about the Crumbleys crumbling Christmas season on his blog. Alex wrote:

When I read in various articles that Jennifer Crumbley had written an open letter to then-President Donald Trump in her now-deleted blog thanking him for protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights a few years ago, I was not surprised. The Crumbleys embody everything that is wrong with the American right: a mixture of anger, victimhood, entitlement, and disregard for laws and public safety.

As I read Alex’s comment about how the Crumbleys praised Trump for “protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights”, I was suddenly reminded of another story I read last week… that of an unnamed man in Italy who used a fake arm when he went to get his COVID vaccine. The nurse noticed that the skin was a different color and texture, even though it looked pretty lifelike. The guy, who is in his 50s, was unsuccessful in his plan to get the shot injected in a fake arm, thus sparing himself the vaccine. He is supposedly a dentist in Italy who has been suspended from his job, as all healthcare workers in Italy are required to be vaccinated.

In Italy, vaccine mandates are making it a lot harder to work or otherwise live a “normal” life. People are getting creative in their ploys to avoid getting “jabbed”, yet they still want to live as if they had done their civic duty. Germany, like Italy, and a lot of other European nations, is also making it harder to live normally without getting vaccinated. I think it won’t be long before COVID unvaccinated people find themselves deprived of liberty, much like recalcitrant tuberculosis patients are.

And then it occurred to me… the Crumbleys have abused the “right to bear arms” in the United States. And the unnamed guy in Italy who tried to use a fake arm to fool the health workers, abused the “right to bare arms” in Italy. Isn’t that clever?

I suspect Jennifer and James Crumbley are in deep legal shit right now, in part, because Kyle Rittenhouse just got acquitted of murder. Many people felt Rittenhouse’s mother should have been prosecuted for her son’s role in killing two people and wounding another man at a demonstration. Of course, it appears that the Crumbleys were even more negligent in keeping their minor son away from deadly weapons than Kyle Rittenhouse’s mom was.

I have a feeling that the Rittenhouse verdict is going to cause new laws to be passed, making parents responsible if their minor children get ahold of weapons and and kill or injure others. I do think that if that does become the case, though, the minors involved should be tried as minors, rather than adults. If parents are going to be held responsible for not protecting the public from their minor children, then it doesn’t seem right to me that the “child” would also be tried as an adult. On the other hand, it does appear to me that there’s something very wrong with Ethan Crumbley, and he probably needs mental health treatment. That could be true for his parents, too, but it does appear to me that they were very negligent. And now, it looks like they’re going to be headed to prison on the family plan, much like Travis and Greg McMichael are.

As for the guy in Italy with the fake silicone arm, I think he, and most of his anti-vaxxer sympathizers, ought to be ashamed of themselves. We’re not going to get past COVID-19 until people start thinking of others and get the vaccine. Aside from that, if you’re not going to get vaccinated, have some fucking integrity and don’t try to pull a fast one on already exhausted fellow healthcare workers. They’ve been through enough since this plague began last year. Have the decency to stay home. Oh… and grow the fuck up, too!

I will probably get my booster after the New Year. Bill got me an appointment for January 5th. But maybe I’ll be able to get one even sooner than that. I don’t look forward to the achy fallout, but I will be glad to be boosted, because I am so tired of the COVID rigamarole. This shit needs to end, already.

I will probably write yet another rant, at some point soon, about how Republicans are now trying to ban abortions… but they sure do like their guns. And I haven’t seen a whole lot of “good guys with guns” showing up to save students who just want to get educated so they can enjoy life… you know, that thing that Republican “pro-lifers” are so hellbent on protecting? As George Carlin famously said of Republicans, “If you’re pre-born, you’re fine. If you’re pre-school, you’re fucked!”

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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 to 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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athletes, celebrities, mental health, psychology, tragedies, YouTube

Partial repost: Christy Henrich and Karen Carpenter, and discovering Dr. Todd Grande…

Recently, I watched a video done about Karen Carpenter by YouTube shrink, Dr. Todd Grande. Dr. Grande does videos about mental health topics in a trademark “flat” kind of way. When I first encountered him on YouTube, I didn’t like his videos that much because his delivery was so dry. But I kept coming back, because he chose interesting topics. After awhile, I realized that I enjoy his videos and even his “flat” style… especially when he throws shade in kind of a bland way. In the video he made about Karen Carpenter, Dr. Grande remarked that in terms of her musical talent, Karen was “like a Ferrari stuck on a go cart track”. He implied that she was much more talented than her brother, Richard, is. I got a kick out of that observation.

Karen Carpenter… Dr. Grande implies that her wings were clipped by her brother… Frankly, I think her mother was more of a wing clipper.

Personally, I disagree with Dr. Grande that Karen’s talent was that much more impressive than Richard’s is. They had strengths in different areas. Richard is a fantastic pianist, and he’s a great arranger. He knew what songs went best with Karen’s vocals. Karen was a magnificent singer and drummer. Together, they worked well. Both of them worked apart with somewhat less success. I do think that Karen and Richard had a very controlling mother, and personally, I think if anyone should be blamed for what happened to Karen Carpenter, it could be her mom that deserves the most shade. Agnes Carpenter was overbearing and overreaching… and she didn’t want her children to be independent adults. Moreover, she obviously favored Richard, which probably took a toll on Karen’s self esteem. Maybe that had to do with her development of anorexia nervosa. I don’t know.

Anyway… I enjoyed watching Dr. Grande’s video about Karen Carpenter and realized he’d done a bunch of similar videos about other celebrities. It occurred to me that it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on Christy Henrich, a brilliant 80s era gymnast who famously perished from anorexia nervosa in 1994. So I left him a comment. Maybe he’ll read and heed it. I really think it would be interesting to hear Dr. Todd Grande’s deadpan views about Christy’s public struggle with anorexia. She had a tremendous work ethic, which extended to her illness. At one point, Christy’s weight fell to 47 pounds. It’s not that I admire her for being that emaciated. It’s more of a comment on her sheer will power and relentless pursuit of her goals, self-destructive as they were. I’m sure a mental health expert would have a lot to say about her.

A video a YouTuber made about Christy Henrich.

In the meantime, below is a repost of an article I wrote in February 2014 about Christy Henrich for my original blog. It was inspired because Bill and I went on a “hop” to Spain and Portugal in January of that year. On the way back to Texas, we landed in Missouri and drove through Christy’s hometown of Independence, Missouri. I thought of her as I realized how much Missouri reminds me of Virginia. As usual, the repost appears “as/is”.

Remembering Christy Henrich

Back in the late 1980s, I had a brief but intense obsession with watching gymnastics.  I would catch meets on ESPN or Home Team Sports.  In those days, ESPN only had one channel and I believe HTS is now defunct.  I remember seeing very old footage of Shannon Miller when she was just 12 years old.  I remember watching Brandy Johnson and Phoebe Mills.  I could never so much as turn a cartwheel myself, but I really enjoyed watching the tiny girls compete.  I admired them for being so tough and strong.  I was into horses myself, though.

I also remember Christy Henrich, who was less than a month younger than me.  When I first saw her, she reminded me a bit of a soccer player.  Short and muscular without an ounce of fat on her, she didn’t have the long, graceful limbs of the Russian or Romanian gymnasts.  But she was very strong and had an amazing work ethic.  Her coach, Al Fong, even called her E.T. for extra tough. Sometimes, that extra tough work ethic worked against her, as you can see in the video below.

This may have even been the first meet I ever saw Christy in… This performance was not very good. The commentators say she “looks tired” and “doesn’t look right”. They also mention that she was warming up way before everyone else was.

Not being privy to anything going on in gymnastics that wasn’t aired on TV, I didn’t know about Christy Henrich’s eventual slide into anorexia nervosa and bulimia.  Back in those days, I had a bit of an obsession about eating disorders, too.  I knew a lot about them and even flirted with them.  If I had known about Christy, I might have even admired her for her anorexia.  That’s how dumb I was at 16.

Christy Henrich at 17

I remember watching the very intense 1988 Summer Olympics gymnastics trials.  I was kind of rooting for Kristie Phillips, an adorable strawberry blonde who had seemed poised for gymnastics stardom.  A growth spurt and weight gain had sidelined her in 1987 and she was back to try to win a spot on the team.  She placed 8th and was named a second alternate.  She would not be going to Seoul unless someone got hurt.  Christy Henrich missed the team altogether by .0118 of a point.  There was no hope for her at all, unless she set her sights on 1992 in Barcelona.

About Kristie Phillips, who also suffered from an eating disorder.
Kristie Phillips was on Oprah, along with Christy’s mom and boyfriend. Here, she talks about her suicidal ideation after she missed the Olympic team.

In 1990, a judge supposedly told Christy Henrich after a meet in Budapest, Hungary that in order to be a serious contender for the Olympics, she would need to lose weight.  At 4’11” and 93 pounds, Christy didn’t have much weight to lose.  But she took the judge’s words to heart and went on a serious diet, quickly shedding five pounds.  She was praised for the weight loss at first, but then she slid headlong into a battle that would eventually cost her her life.

Christy Henrich in 1990

By January 1991, she had lost so much weight that her coach, Al Fong, kicked her out of the gym.  A week after he kicked her out, she came in to tell him she was quitting the sport.  Though she had a loving family and a boyfriend who wanted to marry her, the eating disorders had taken hold of her.  On July 26, 1994, she died of multiple organ failure.  She had just turned 22 years old and she weighed less than 60 pounds.  At one point, her weight was just 47 pounds.

A clip from a 1995 episode of Oprah in which Christy’s mother and boyfriend talk about her struggles with eating disorders.  

I remember reading Joan Ryan’s book, Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.  In fact, I read an excerpt of it in the Washington Post just days before I left the country for Armenia to serve in the Peace Corps.  When I got home in 1997, I bought the book and read it.  It was about female gymnasts and figure skaters.  In 2000, Ryan updated the book, including discussion about Dominique Moceanu’s desire to be emancipated from her parents because her father was spending her money. 

I don’t know what made me think of Christy today.  It’s not her birthday or the anniversary of her death, though in July of this year, she will have been dead for 20 years.  That amazes me.  It seems like yesterday, we were 22 years old.  The older you get, the faster time flies.

Last month, as Bill and I worked our way back to Texas from our trip abroad, we drove through Christy’s hometown of Independence, Missouri.  We stayed a night in Kansas City, which is where Christy died.  For some reason, I even thought about Christy’s mother as we passed through.  It was frigid during our brief time there and, looking around, it didn’t look like the kind of place that would excite me.  On the other hand, I did notice how nice and folksy everyone seemed to be.  It seems like the kind of place you could get to know your neighbors.

Christy Henrich in 1987.

I’m sure that the last twenty years have been tough for all who knew and loved Christy Henrich.  What happened to her was just gruesome.  I still like watching gymnastics today, but remember Christy’s story reminds me that the sport has a bit of a dark side.  To read more about Christy Henrich, I recommend the book Little Girls in Pretty Boxes.  

An eye opening read.

Edited to add: in 2014, I still had no idea how dark gymnastics can be… that was before we knew about John Geddert and Larry Nassar.

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tragedies, true crime

Death of a coward…

At about this time last year, I was reading and reviewing a lot of books about the state of U.S. women’s gymnastics. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you might know that about three years ago, former U.S. gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, was outed for the abusive pervert he is. He’s currently sitting in a prison cell for sexually abusing hundreds of female athletes over the course of his career.

Yesterday, I became aware that high powered elite gymnastics coach, 63 year old John Geddert, who had once called Larry Nassar a friend and a colleague, was charged with a couple dozen felonies. Mr. Geddert was supposed to turn himself in for arraignment at a sheriff’s office yesterday. When he failed to show up for his 2:15pm appointment, police went looking for him. They found his dead body at 3:24pm ET at a rest stop in Grand Ledge, Michigan. The cause of death was suicide.

I guess he couldn’t face the music.

John Geddert was a successful coach, having been the coach of the 2012 women’s gymnastics Olympic team. But he was also notoriously abusive to his athletes. According to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel:

“John Geddert used force, fraud and coercion against the young athletes that came to him for gymnastics training for financial benefit to him,”

And,

“The victims suffer from disordered eating, including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and self-harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault. Many of these victims still carry these scars from his behavior to this day.”

Indeed, in a number of the books I read about Larry Nassar and the huge sex abuse bombshell that was dropped on U.S. women’s gymnastics, John Geddert’s name came up frequently. He was described as the type of coach who would scream, throw things, and punish his gymnasts. Larry Nassar, by contrast, was described as quiet, gentle, and caring. The two men were said to be best friends, and Larry Nassar worked out of Geddert’s Twistars gym where he would minister to the injured girls. They would come to him looking for kindness and caring, having been beaten down by Geddert’s physically abusive tactics. It created the perfect storm for Nassar’s sexual abuse, which went under the radar for decades.

As the abuse was made public, attention shifted to John Geddert, who lied to police when he was questioned about Larry Nassar. Michigan Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark said, “Mr. Geddert knew that Nassar was sexually abusing these patients and that he failed to take action. And that when he was asked about it by police officers during the 2016 investigation into Nassar, he lied about that.”

I’m not all that surprised that Geddert killed himself. He no doubt paid close attention to what happened to Larry Nassar. He probably also paid attention to what happened to Jeffrey Epstein, the fabulously wealthy bastard who victimized and trafficked scores of girls for the pleasures of wealthy and perverted men. Epstein was about to go on trial for his crimes when he was found dead of suicide in his jail cell. There was speculation that Epstein was murdered by those who didn’t want him to talk, but the official cause of death was suicide. I think either scenario is plausible, and I’m sure Epstein felt suicide was better than a lifetime in prison. John Geddert clearly felt the same way.

Gymnasts thought of Geddert and Nassar as a “dynamic duo”.

I’m sure there’s a lot of sadness regarding this death. Many of Geddert’s victims no doubt wanted to testify in court about what happened to them. Geddert cheated them out of justice. But Geddert probably also had friends and loved ones who are legitimately shocked by all of this. I feel sad for all of them. I’ve noticed a lot of comments chastising people who express empathy for Geddert’s friends and loved ones. I won’t do that, because I think those people deserve consideration, too. As awful as abusers can be, they usually do have some people in their lives who have no idea or love them regardless… and when the abuse does come to light, they suffer, but get little empathy. So I want to go on record that I empathize with everyone personally affected by Geddert’s suicide, regardless of how and why they are affected.

I feel sad for all of the parents, too. They no doubt thought they were doing a great thing for their daughters, enrolling them in gymnastics. They put their trust in John Geddert and Larry Nassar, paying them a lot of money for the training and medical care… only to find out that they abused their gymnasts, using them for their own pleasure. I know that I would be extremely pissed off if I had a child who was abused by someone. But then to realize that I spent thousands of dollars for my child to be abused and permanently harmed– I think it would send me over the edge.

So… I send my good thoughts out to those who are upset by Geddert’s cowardly decision to take himself out. I think it’s pretty clear that he was guilty as hell. At least he won’t be hurting anyone else. But that may be small comfort for those who were hoping to see him held accountable.

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tragedies, true crime, Trump

Twitter bans Trump…

And it’s about time, isn’t it? It’s about fucking time someone cut off Trump’s mouthpiece. People are still defending Donald Trump, in spite of all of the evidence that he’s a threat to democracy. I wish they’d done it— cut off his Twitter mouthpiece—years ago. Now that there’s talk of impeaching Trump a second time, I realize that my worst fears from four years have come to pass. In fact, they have been surpassed. I never thought it would get this crazy… but lo and behold, it has. DC was overrun by wingnuts galore, intent on destroying democracy and trampling on the will of the people. It’s sheer madness.

Five people died as a result of Wednesday’s melee in Washington, DC. Most of the people who died were people who were there to cause a ruckus. One guy, an Alabaman named Kevin Greeson, reportedly had a heart attack thanks to all of the excitement. He was also carrying a Taser, which some people have said went off in his balls. I’m serious. And he’s just one of the mental giants who thought he could come to Washington, DC, raise hell, and live to tell about it unscathed. This man was supposedly a devoted husband and father. He was described as a loving person who loved his job, his motorcycles, and his co-workers. And yet, despite being “loving”, he encouraged people on Parler to spend all of their money on guns and ammunition and take to the streets. Quoted from an article about Greeson:

In November, Greeson wrote on Parler, “All males over the age of 18 join a group.. be ready to defend our country!! Spend your money on guns and ammo… It’s time to stop this shit!!!!!” “I don’t give two f**ks about COVID.. we have a coup going on in our goddamn country.! These motherfuckering demos are going to make COVID look like a runny nose! They’re goin to f*ck this county up!” he wrote in December. “Let’s take this f**king Country BACK!! Load your guns and take to the streets!” he posted days later.

Yep… sounds like a real upstanding citizen. And now he’s dead. I’ll be honest. My first instinct was to laugh about Greeson’s Taser reportedly going off and shocking him in the balls (which is now reported as false info). But then I realized that it’s really not funny at all. Now his wife has lost a husband and his kids have lost their dad.

What a way to go.

Another widely reported casualty of Wednesday’s hell raising is a woman named Ashli Babbitt, who was shot by police while trying to breach the Capitol building. Babbitt, who spent years in the Air Force, Air National Guard, and the Air Force Reserves, and was deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Arab Emirates, was deeply committed to Donald Trump’s agenda. She came to DC from California, wearing a Trump flag as a cape as she yelled at cops and tried to break in to a government building. She was killed as a couple of rioters hoisted her up.

I suppose I feel a little sad for her… that she was so radicalized that she felt the need to go to such extreme measures to try to force her will on the rest of us… It was a foolish plan that was doomed to failure.

I want to feel sorry for Ashli Babbitt, but everything I’ve read about her paints her as a very troubled woman. She was married twice. Her second husband’s ex girlfriend took out a restraining order on Babbitt for ramming her car three times on a roadway. The ex said Babbitt was screaming at her and verbally threatening her with violence. Also, Babbitt’s rank at the time she left military service is telling. She was in for fourteen years, yet department the Air Force as a senior airman. After that much time in service, most people opt to stay in so they can collect a retirement. And yet Ashli Babbitt didn’t… or couldn’t. And now she’s made a name for herself as a nut who tried to overthrow the government so her criminal hero, Donald Trump, could stay in office.

“No the fuck you will not!” Ashli Babbitt replied to [Kamala Harris on Twitter]. “No masks, no you, no Biden the kid raper, no vaccines…sit your fraudulent ass down…we the ppl bitch!”

Charming… perhaps it’s good that she’s been put out of her misery. Obviously, she was very agitated about something. And I find it funny that Trump supporters call Joe Biden a “kid raper” when their hero was a regular at Jeffrey Epstein’s private island of debauchery and was, himself, accused of raping teenaged girls who resembled his daughter.

Why wasn’t Ashli Babbitt outraged about this story?

There were three others who died, including Benjamin Philips, a 50 year old man who shared teenaged sons with his ex wife, Nicole Mun, whom he divorced in 2004. Philips had a stroke while enjoying the “festivities”. Before he died, Philips founded and ran a site for Trump supporters called Trumparoo. He organized rides to the Capitol for Trump supporters. And now his kids have lost their dad, all because he couldn’t accept that Donald Trump was voted out of office.

Whom did these people die for? A man who was partying, listening to Laura Branigan’s 80s era hit, “Gloria”, while they were all out in the streets, screaming, yelling, threatening, breaking things, and smearing blood and shit on one of our nation’s most beautiful and venerated buildings and its priceless works of art. A man who did his best to bully Georgia election officials into overturning the results of a fair election. A man who inspires ordinary people to act like terrorists and thugs, harassing people who aren’t like them as they try to walk home from work. A man who brags about hurting and molesting people. This morning, I read about Democrat Representative, Andy Kim, literally cleaning up the mess left by these marauding Trump loving thugs in the Capitol. I suspect he will be helping to clean up their mess figuratively, too, as the sane government officials do what they can to unravel Trump’s governmental Gordian knots.

Trump has already been impeached once. He has just eleven days left in office, and he’s very likely to be impeached again, or be subjected to the 25th Amendment. And he’s been banned from Twitter, while Apple and Google Play are banning the Parler app because of the hatred and vitriol spewed there. There’s no doubt, people were spun up by the negative energy of the Parler application– supposedly where conservatives can speak freely. Well… they can speak freely as long as they make money for the app’s developer and other companies. When they become a liability, the privilege of speaking freely disappears.

It always surprises me to read some of the bluster from Trump supporters screaming about freedom. They want to deny freedom to everyone else by claiming that the election was stolen, even though it clearly wasn’t. They don’t understand how other people could possibly vote against Donald Trump, their hero. Anyone who didn’t vote for Trump was obviously voting illegitimately. Well, I think those of us who still have sense all know that’s bullshit.

And now, there’s a good chance there will be more violence until Inauguration Day and possibly beyond then, which Trump has wisely vowed to skip. Nice going, Trumpers. You sure made America… well, not so great. This is not a great look. It’s shameful and embarrassing. The chaos needs to stop.

“Trump or war. Today. That simple.”

“If you don’t know how to shoot: You need to learn. NOW.”

“we will storm the government buildings, kill cops, kill security guards, kill federal employees and agents, and demand a recount.”

“Trump WILL be sworn in for a second term on January 20th!!,” said a commenter on thedonald.win, a pro-Trump online forum, on Thursday, the day after the siege. “We must not let the communists win. Even if we have to burn DC to the ground. Tomorrow we take back DC and take back our country!!”

Are these really the words of people who love freedom? I don’t think so. Meanwhile, their hero is being abandoned in droves and losing his honorary degrees… not unlike fellow womanizing narcissist Bill Cosby. Hopefully, he’ll end up behind bars like Cosby did, too. Fuck Donald Trump and his followers. They are a disgrace! I hope Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues throw the book at him.

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