ethics, healthcare, law, modern problems, poor judgment

Medical freedom… or medical freedumb?

Today I reposted a 2017 era article from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife blog. That post was written in a time of blissful ignorance of what awaited the world just three years later. In 2017, I was inspired by reading about young people who were critically ill and forced to accept medical care decisions thrust upon them by older people. Most of the cases of the youngsters in that post suffered from cancers of some kind, but a couple of them had other medical problems.

In several cases, the young patients’ parents were religious or wanted to try a more “natural” approach to healthcare. The parents were taken to task by medical professionals who wanted to override their decisions. In one case, the patient was a 17 year old young man who was deemed mature. He didn’t like the chemotherapy that was prescribed to treat his Hodgkin’s Disease, so he tried to refuse it. Doctors sought to force submission by legal means. In the end, the young man’s case was the inspiration for “Abraham’s Law” in Virginia, which allows older teenagers and their parents to refuse medical care or choose alternative therapies.

It amazes me now to read about these controversial cases involving young people, especially given that COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar at the time. Nowadays, the term “medical freedom” is a hot topic, as people fight over whether or not vaccinations against the coronavirus should be mandatory for all who can safely take it. On one hand, there’s a group of people who want to be able to make all medical and healthcare choices for themselves, although a lot of the people in the anti-vaccine group curiously draw the line at abortions for other people. On the other hand, there’s a large group of people who fear the rapidly spreading COVID virus that has, so far, killed over 650,000 Americans and well over four million people worldwide. That group believes that people should be required to get vaccinated.

Although I am all for vaccination and I do believe that the vaccines are saving lives, there is a part of me that empathizes with those who don’t want to be forced to take it. I don’t think it’s smart to skip the vaccines. Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the vaccines seem to be mostly based on misinformation and conspiracy theories. A lot of people worry that there will be terrible side effects to the vaccines. Or they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy whose balls shriveled up and fell off after the first shot. Personally, I think those arguments are pretty lame. But I also genuinely don’t like the idea of forcing people to do things. I wish those kinds of rules weren’t necessary, and more people would cooperate simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve read many stories of people who took a “wait and see” approach to COVID-19 and are now dead. Some of the saddest stories involve people who had young children or newborn babies. I’ve read at least three tragic stories about parents who have left large broods orphaned because of COVID. I’ve also read a lot of sad stories about people who are sorry they didn’t get vaccinated.

And I’ve also read about many conservative radio talk show hosts who have either gotten very sick from COVID or have actually died. There was a news story just this morning about a conservative talk show host named Bob Enyart, who had spread false information about COVID-19. He got sick and died. Enyart was vehemently against vaccine and mask mandates, and last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches. Enyart was all about making choices for his own health, but as a very vocal opponent of abortion, he apparently didn’t mind making healthcare choices for other people.

Curiously enough, Enyart was a Christian pastor, and he once gleefully read the names and obituaries of people who had died of AIDS while he played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. What a charming man… huh? As Mr. Enyart was the 5th conservative radio talk show host to die of COVID in the past six weeks, perhaps the Queen song is appropriate theme for him and his ilk.

This morning, I ran across an interesting thread in the Duggar Family News Group. Someone, yet again, compared the COVID vaccine and mask mandates to seatbelt laws.

I disagree with this comparison. I also am old enough to remember when the seatbelt laws went into effect. At the time, I was pissed off about them. Don’t be too hard on me, though. I was a teenager.

I have mentioned before that I don’t think the COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates are the same as seatbelt laws. I mean, yes, I can see how people would make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s a very accurate one. When I was a child, I hated seatbelts and would only wear them if I was forced to… and generally that only happened when my dad was feeling controlling. In those days, a lot of people didn’t wear seatbelts. They weren’t as comfortable as they are today. Thankfully, as time has passed, the technology behind them has improved. I doubt we will ever be rid of the damned things. In any case, seatbelts are kind of different from masks and vaccines, as they don’t involve being injected into someone’s body, nor do they impact normal living and communicating as much as face masks do. You only wear them in the car. They don’t interfere with speaking, hearing, seeing, eating, or breathing.

And before anyone tries to tell me that masks don’t impede breathing, let me just stop you right there. I know they don’t. But some people do find wearing them oppressive, and the anxiety that comes from that might impede breathing. There are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason… not too many, I will admit, but there are some. Likewise, some people can’t wear seatbelts for whatever reason. A lot of times, the reason has to do with being very obese, but sometimes it’s because of an injury or an occupation.

The point is, I don’t think seatbelts will ever go away. However, many of us hope the masks will go away, if and when the pandemic ends. Personally, I don’t see the pandemic ending happening unless a lot more people get vaccinated. But even though I think vaccines are an excellent idea and I would strongly encourage people to get the shot(s), I also feel uncomfortable with government mandates on things like medical care. Because, there are people who can’t or shouldn’t get vaccinations, for whatever reason. I also understand that some people are genuinely concerned about government overreach. Their concern isn’t entirely unfounded, although some of the arguments I’ve read are pretty ridiculous.

One thing I don’t think is helpful, though, is being rude and insulting to those who disagree. I don’t like the dogpile approach to trying to change minds, either. The above photo was shared in the Duggar Family News group, and it did invite contention. One woman posted this:

I remember when this page was about snarking on fundamentalist Christian families on television rather than promoting the divide of human kind based on personal choices they make for what they put in their own bodies.

That comment led to this response…

Even though I understand the frustration behind this response, I don’t think it was helpful.

The original poster was offended by the image. She expressed her dismay that a total stranger would wish death on her. Then, a big, long thread of comments ensued, with the vast majority of people name-calling, hurling insults, being sarcastic, and typing “all knowing” responses at the original poster. Her response, rather than being convinced, was to dig in her heels and respond in kind. Then, she either got booted from the group, or left on her own accord.

The last comment ends with the person telling the OP not to go to the hospital because she doesn’t believe in science. I disagree with that attitude, too. If someone gets sick with COVID, I don’t want them out on the street, infecting others. I’d rather see them getting treatment.

So… what exactly was accomplished by this contentious exchange? Not much, that I can see. I think a more respectful and friendly dialogue might have done more to foster group harmony. Maybe no one’s mind would have changed, but at least there would be listening and constructive communication going on, rather than flaming and hair flip rage exits. No matter what, I don’t think it’s appropriate to wish death on people simply because they disagree with you. On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment and the frustration behind such responses. I will also admit to occasionally being a hypocrite when I get pushed too far. I’m human, after all. I do try not to start out with abuse and insults, though.

I have never liked “nannyism”, especially in laws. However, I understand why “nanny” laws are often necessary. Many people, when left to their own devices, will not do things that are in their own or the public’s best interests. I have always hated wearing seatbelts myself, but I do understand why they’re necessary. I also have a husband who will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t wear one. So I do comply with that rule.

Even though I fucking hate face masks, I comply with that rule, too. However, I hope someday it will no longer be necessary. And I had no issues whatsoever with getting vaccinated against COVID, because as a student of public health, I know the theories behind vaccines and have seen concrete evidence that most of them work. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to learning new information, nor does it mean I’m not aware of potential risks from certain vaccines.

Below is advice given to people during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I agree with most of it, although I don’t think it matters whether or not someone “obeys cheerfully”, as long as they are compliant.

From 2018, when the Spanish Flu was killing people. They used masks then, and the masks eventually went away. I hope the same for COVID-19.

My late beagle, Zane, was a prime example of a dog who didn’t do well with vaccines. He had mast cell cancer (immune system cancer) that eventually progressed to lymphoma. He was allergic to at least one vaccination, and would get tumors when he had others. I actually think some people over-vaccinate their pets, and some of the encouragement to vaccinate is due to the revenue vaccines generate. Dogs with mast cell tumors should not get any unnecessary vaccines. I’m a little concerned about Arran, because he is due for a rabies shot next month, and the rabies shots can stimulate mast cell tumors. Arran has also had mast cell tumors, though not to the same severity Zane had. Because of Zane, I have some sympathy for people who are against vaccines, even though I think their reasoning is wrong in most instances. We don’t vaccinate people like we do pets, anyway. We certainly don’t get as many shots as they do.

Although I do believe in vaccine efficacy, I am not one to run out and demand the latest and greatest shots, nor do I get every vaccine available. For instance, I’ve never in my life had a flu shot. I would get them if I spent more time around other people, though. COVID-19 is different, at least right now. There’s hope that the virus will eventually weaken and become less dangerous, as flu mostly did. But at this point, it’s not getting better. Many people are getting sick and dying, and from what I’ve read, COVID-19 is a pretty nasty way to go.

I do think sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves and each other from those who lack insight, perspective, and wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that people should be free to make choices, whenever possible. Either way, medical freedom doesn’t do a damned bit of good to anyone who is dead. So I do hope that those who are against vaccines will wise up and get with the program. I understand wanting to wait and see how other people do with the shots, but time is running out… I have read too many sad stories about people who waited too long and got sick. There are too many stories about orphaned children, and bereaved spouses, siblings, and parents. And too many people are becoming downright mean and NASTY toward total strangers. I wish we’d all remember that when it comes down to it, we’re in a community. And being in a healthy community requires compassion, responsibility, and solidarity.

That being said… sometimes people DO need protection from crazy beliefs. Case in point, an old Mr. Atheist video I came across yesterday. Religion and politics make people do stupid things, even to their children. So while I am mindful of the so-called slippery slope when it comes to government overreach, I also think some people need to be saved from “freedumb” ideas.

JWs are just one group that have beliefs that can harm others… especially their own followers.
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mental health, modern problems, true crime

Americans are both awesome and awful people…

There has been quite an interesting array of news stories lately. Last night, I read a truly heartwarming story about a young man in Alabama who showed up to work the morning shift at a Waffle House on his graduation day. He’d had the day scheduled off, but his mom had to work and couldn’t take him to the ceremony, and he is not in touch with his dad. So he went to work, instead.

The 18 year old, whose name is Timothy Harrison, wanted to walk across the stage to get that diploma he’d worked so hard to earn. But since there was no way to make it happen, he resigned himself to going to work and making some money, instead. Timothy’s boss, Cedric Hampton, wasn’t having it. He and the assistant manager, as well as other co-workers and a couple of customers banded together to see to it that Timothy could have that rite of passage experience that is so important for so many.

By the time I’d finished reading this uplifting story, I had tears welling in my eyes. I was truly moved to read this story about good people doing great things. Americans love to help an underdog, and they are capable of great support and largesse for people who have a good story. Timothy Harrison’s story was so good that he also got a full scholarship from Lawson State Community College, whose faculty members got wind of his work ethic. Now, instead of following his plan continuing to wait tables at the Waffle House and, perhaps, later joining the military (which isn’t actually a bad plan for many people), Harrison will be going to college to study business and computer science.

As you know, I have nothing against people who join the military. It’s a great career for plenty of folks, my husband included. BUT– it’s not for everyone… and thanks to the kindness of Timothy Harrison’s “Waffle House work family”, Harrison will have another choice that could potentially change his life’s course forever. And that change could have significant ripple effects for other people in Timothy’s life. Thinking about that made me feel great and hopeful for the future.

But then I woke up this morning and read another sad and senseless story about violence over face masks… I was reminded that Americans can be awesome. They can also be awful!

Although a lot of people are ditching the masks as COVID-19 infections are waning among the vaccinated, not all areas are yet finished with the mask requirements. Such is the case in Decatur, Georgia, where Victor Lee Tucker, age 30, had stopped to pick up groceries at a Big Bear Supermarket. Mr. Tucker was not properly wearing a mask when he approached the cashier (now identified by police as Laquitta Willis, 41) to pay for his items. Tucker and the cashier got into an argument about how he was wearing his mask (according to the Washington Post, Tucker was wearing a mask, but not correctly). He got pissed off and left without buying the items. But then he immediately came back and shot the cashier, killing her.

Tucker also shot 54 year old Danny Jordan, the off duty police officer who was moonlighting as a security guard at the store. Fortunately, Jordan was wearing a bulletproof vest, which probably saved his life. Another cashier was slightly wounded by a bullet that grazed her. She was treated at the scene, while the cashier and Tucker, who was shot by the guard, were taken to Grady Memorial Hospital. Tucker is listed in stable condition. Deputy Jordan, who was shot twice, went to Atlanta Medical Center, where he is also listed in stable condition.

I have not made it a secret that I despise the face masks. I think that while they are helpful in preventing the spread of virus particles, they also cause a lot of problems for many people. For that reason, it’s my hope that they go away soon. Too many people are being inconvenienced by the masks, but more troublingly, people are also DYING over enforcing their use. Imagine trying to avoid getting COVID-19 and dying anyway because you asked someone to wear a mask properly and they shot you! Edited to add, June 16th– the indoor mask mandate was in effect in Decatur, Georgia on Monday, when Willis was killed. It’s due to expire next week.

But people definitely shouldn’t be killing and dying over the face mask issue. Of course Tucker was absolutely wrong to kill the cashier over something so utterly stupid. He probably shot her because he felt the need to “protect his freedoms”. Maybe he felt like the mask was oppressive and was finally fed up with being “oppressed”. Maybe that was why he felt justified in killing an innocent person. But that was an erroneous notion on his part. And now, he will lose his freedom and be forced to wear a prison uniform and, it’s very likely, a face mask, along with all the other stuff prisoners are forced to wear.

In all seriousness, it does make me sad to think about Tucker going to prison over this. He’s a 30 year old man, who had his whole life ahead of him. I don’t know what kind of a person he is when he isn’t losing his cool and blowing hourly wage earning cashiers away over face mask rage. I’d like to hope he’s not all bad, as I don’t think most people are all bad. But it’s hard to understand why someone would be so unhinged that he’d just callously snuff out some innocent lady’s life because of a face mask. It’s tragic and ridiculous on so many levels.

Personally, I think if I were in the States, I wouldn’t confront anyone over the masks. It’s just not worth it. Our culture is so strange– people are encouraged to be “nice”, and we hate confrontations and conflict. And yet, so many of us are carrying weapons! And so many are apparently on the edge of insanity! Would Tucker have killed anyone two years ago, before COVID-19 face mask requirements was a thing? I honestly think that the risk of getting the virus may be lower than the risk of being shot in some parts of the USA. There have been so many stories about people killing and dying over face masks! It’s crazy! It baffles me that so many Americans seem to enjoy busting people over the masks. The New York Times called it a “new American pastime.” I think I’d be too scared to say anything to someone about the masks. I’d rather just get away from them.

I don’t know if the cashier was required to enforce the mask policy or she just decided to on her own. I would certainly never say that she shouldn’t feel free to enforce the mask requirements in a private business. BUT… there is a real danger in doing so, as her story, as well as so many others, have shown. I hope there will come a day soon when the mask requirements go away so this particular issue won’t be something people continue to die over.

And that makes me think of something else… does it seem to you like America has gotten way more extreme? It seems like fewer people are moderate nowadays. I feel like I run into more extremely “woke” people and extremely conservative people than I used to. I still tend to be pretty middle of the road– leaning a bit more left lately, but not extremely so. But the past five years, which I have not spent in the States, make me a little scared to go back home. I feel like today’s America is not the America I knew.

According to the Washington Post, 2020 was the deadliest year for shootings and, so far, 2021 is even worse. Within the first five months of 2021, 8100 people in the United States lost their lives to gun violence. Much of the violence seems to come from frustration and anger over the pandemic situation and all of the problems that are affiliated with it. The Washington Post reports that the violence started to edge upwards from April 2020, when the virus started to become a real problem. I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to “normal”… but it sure is sad to me that a deadly virus killed so many people and so many citizens are also dying because of gun violence… or they’re being hit and run, like my old friend Matt was last month. The week Matt died, another person was also killed in a hit and run in the same area. It’s also a problem on the rise, perhaps caused by very angry people who have no regard for other people.

Well… at least I was able to start this post with a feel good story. I wish Timothy Harrison much luck as he embarks on what could be a very bright future. I hope he avoids gun violence and the virus. I hope he goes to school and sets the world on fire as he puts his promising work ethic to the test in a tough world. I, for one, would not want to be young again for anything! But I have high hopes for Harrison and his Waffle House family. His story, coupled with the cashier’s story, really show how awesome and awful Americans can be.

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celebrities, complaints

Now, I know why…

Happy Monday, everybody. I, for one, am glad the weekend is over. I spent it alone again, although it wasn’t without a little excitement. As I wrote in my travel blog, on Saturday night, our dog Noyzi was a naughty boy who ate part of a brand new toy. I explained the drama involved with that situation, and I’m happy to report that everything turned out fine. Noyzi is totally okay after that experience. It was upsetting and frustrating on many levels, though, because I unexpectedly found myself somewhat helpless in that situation. There was so much to think about that, two or three years ago, I wouldn’t have needed to consider.

Two years ago, my biggest issue would have been getting Noyzi into the back of the car for a trip to the vet’s office. But thanks to the pandemic, there was so much more to prepare for, right down to making sure I had a fucking face mask. In the end, it wasn’t necessary for me to rush Noyzi to the vet on Saturday night. It’s still unnerving that doing so would have been difficult. I guess if it had come down to it, I could have tried to get help from the neighbors, although I know the next door neighbor wasn’t home when this was happening.

COVID-19 has made things infinitely more complicated for everyone. I’ve noticed that people have less patience than they used to have. There’s also a marked decrease in civility across the board. I’ve noticed that people are a lot less willing to listen to opinions they don’t happen to share. And instead of just quietly scrolling by, they get into arguments that quickly get heated. Sometimes, those arguments are also offline. Which brings me to the title of today’s post.

Last night, I noticed I got a bunch of hits on an old post I wrote about the actor, Ricky Schroder, I had written for my old Google blog. I reposted that piece some time ago, mainly because I thought it was interesting. I know not everyone shares my opinions about what’s interesting and what’s not. When I repost things from the old blog, I notice they don’t tend to be read right away. But then, if something comes up in the news, people will find those reruns. Sometimes, that leads to interesting connections. For instance, I got a comment on the contact page last night from someone who had read a repost of a piece I wrote about seven years ago. I especially tend to get these kinds of comments on true crime posts– from true crime buffs, crime writers and researchers, and sometimes even friends and families of the victims or perpetrators.

So anyway, Ricky Schroder is in the news again, which has caused people to search for info about him. That’s led some new people to my blog. Ricky Schroder is notoriously conservative. He was a Mormon convert for a number of years. He helped bail teen Kenosha killer Kyle Rittenhouse out of jail last year. He’s a big proponent of gun rights. And evidently, he’s now in the news for being against being forced to wear a face mask at Costco.

Ricky Schroder posted a video to his Facebook page showing him confronting an employee at Costco, who wouldn’t let him in the store without a mask. Evidently, in the wake of the CDC’s recent announcement that face masks are no longer necessary for fully vaccinated people, Costco dropped its face mask requirements. However, the new rule only applies in places where local ordinances don’t still require masking. In Los Angeles, which is where Ricky wanted to shop at Costco, masking indoors still applies. That’s why Ricky was confronted by a Costco employee named Jason, who would not let him pass the front door. Jason sounds very much like he’s been well-trained by his corporate leaders. I sympathize with him, and commend him for keeping his cool, under the circumstances. But I guess if you live in Los Angeles, you might be used to seeing 80s era TV stars every day.

Ricky says that people should boycott Costco. He’s come to the store to get a refund and, I guess, to drop his membership. Bill and I had a Costco membership when we lived in Texas. It wasn’t very useful for us, since there’s only two of us in the house. I also don’t like shopping in big warehouses. However, I know that a lot of people love Costco and it’s a company that is reportedly very good to its employees. And, to be honest, I hate wearing face masks, so I wouldn’t want to shop at Costco right now, anyway. On one hand, I agree with Ricky that the idea that we should all wear masks indefinitely is not a good one. On the other hand, I also respect the rights of business owners to run their businesses the way they see fit. Costco is a private business, and especially as a Republican, Ricky Schroder should have respected that, and their right to set policies that work for their business. He doesn’t have to shop there, and it sounds like, from now on, he won’t.

As someone who used to have to deal with the public, I have a lot of empathy for Jason and his cohorts. And as someone who votes blue, but sometimes leans right, I understand how Ricky feels, too. I hate that COVID-19 has made everything so complicated and political. This should not be a political issue at all. It’s about avoiding getting sick and dying or spreading diseases that can kill other people. I think a person can be cooperative with policies and not be pro or against an issue. I know it’s trendy for people to make assumptions about a person’s politics by how they feel about masking or other hot button issues. Hell, I’m even guilty myself of figuring out who is pro Trump, simply based on their behavior. I remember a couple of years ago, I correctly surmised a couple of guys were Trump supporters because they got drunk and decided to test out a bullet proof vest. That’s just not the kind of thing the average liberal does… although I suppose it’s possible a Biden fan might try such a stunt.

What put this on my mind today? It’s partly because last night, I was reading a news article about how the new mask guidelines have caused mass confusion and strife in the United States. The CDC director, Rochelle Walensky, is now having to defend the new guidance as people have gotten up in arms about it. For approximately the last year (because the mask habit was slower to pick up in some areas than others) the overwhelming advice by public health experts has been to wear face masks. Just a couple of months ago, some experts were advising people to “double mask”. To be honest, that idea was not gonna fly with me at all. I found the idea of wearing two masks really horrifying. The idea that the air is so fouled with pathogens that I need to cover my face everywhere while wearing two masks? That just sounds dystopian to me. Nope… I will wear only one mask, and only where they are required and I can’t avoid going.

After the double mask fad that was going on a few months ago, it was very strange to hear the CDC suddenly reverse course. It was even stranger to hear the people who were begging people to listen to the experts at the CDC suddenly changing course, telling people NOT to listen to them. As I read that news article last night, I was reminded of how annoyed I was last year when people kept sharing the “public urination” meme, comparing wearing a mask to wearing pants and not peeing on people. I lost my temper with more than one person who shared that with me, partly because unlike many people who were sharing it, I’ve actually taken courses in epidemiology and worked in the public health field. The comparison of spreading COVID-19 to public urination was just non-sensical to me. They aren’t comparable situations. Who goes around peeing on people? Even if they did, avoiding pee is much easier than avoiding airborne viruses or other microscopic microbes.

So glad to see this meme died, at long last.

Last night, I read an angry comment from some guy who compared going maskless to driving drunk. Once again, I was shaking my head at the lunacy. Driving drunk is something that only people who drink alcohol and drive cars do. Not everyone drives. Not everyone drinks alcohol. And not everyone chooses to drink and drive. We all have to breathe, though, and until COVID-19 showed up, breathing uninhibited by a face mask was completely appropriate and okay. Moreover, even those who wear masks can spread the virus or catch it, even though the risk is much lower. But if you don’t breathe, you will die. Breathing is necessary for living. Driving a car and/or drinking booze or both are not necessary for living. The masks aren’t normal, and we shouldn’t normalize this situation. This is a temporary condition and it should be treated as such.

Ditto to the seatbelt argument. To me, the masks aren’t like seatbelts. Seatbelts are only worn in the car or on the airplane. They don’t inhibit communication, breathing, eating, drinking, socializing, vision (because of fogging up or the mask riding up), or hearing (because of the ear loops that sometimes knock out hearing aids or make lip reading hard). Moreover, we’ll probably all be wearing seatbelts for the rest of our lives… at least until cars are obsolete. The masks, on the other hand, I hope are temporary. Even if we can’t get rid of COVID, I’m hoping someone will come up with a way to temper the virus so it’s not such a threat anymore. Car accidents, I fear, are always going to be a threat to human life, no matter what.

Mark my words… someone will come up with some kind of HVAC system that kills viruses… or some other system that eventually makes the masks unnecessary indoors. A year ago, I was worried that the masks would become trendy forever, but now I know that people really do want to be rid of them. That’s comforting to me.

Noyzi this morning. He’s in fine fettle.

In any case… none of this drama affects me personally. I’m still in Germany, where vaccinations are finally picking up, but aren’t as widespread as they are in the United States. The Rewe is still only letting 35 properly masked people in their stores at a time. Things are still shut down here, although there is talk that fully vaccinated or recovered people will be allowed more freedoms. Actually, that is currently the case in Germany, although I can’t enjoy it myself until next month. I don’t get shot #2 until June 9th, and I won’t be considered fully vaccinated until the 23rd. However, it is comforting to see that widespread sickness is going down in the USA. The vaccines are working. With any luck, things will get markedly better soon for a lot of people. Frankly, I’m just glad that in a few days, Bill will (hopefully) be home… and if Noyzi eats another toy, we can handle it together. As for Ricky Schroder… I hope he finds a retailer whose policies are more in line with his right wing politics.

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condescending twatbags, politicians, politics, psychology, Trump

If you have to start a rebuttal with insults…

You’ve already lost the argument, as far as I’m concerned.

A couple of days ago, when riots were happening in Washington, D.C., a friend of mine named Chris posted this comment on Facebook.

From what I am seeing, President Trump has incited a riot where protestors have now breached and are inside the Capitol building. This is NOT the America I spent my life defending.

Chris is someone I knew in college. He’s spent most of his adult life as an Army officer. He’s offline friends with one of Bill’s former colleagues from the early days of his Army career. Although Bill hasn’t met my college friend himself, my college friend later friended Bill, because they have the Army and Bill’s former colleague in common, as well as some mutual friends. That old concept, Six Degrees of Separation, works especially well in the military.

Anyway, given my college friend’s military career, he has a lot of Facebook friends and they run the gamut in terms of their politics. Naturally, a lot of the military folks who are friends with Chris are politically conservative. Based on his public thread, which at this writing has over 300 comments, many of my college friend’s contacts are mostly Trump supporting Republicans.

After awhile, someone brought up the fact that Trump’s leadership style is an awful lot like Adolf Hitler’s. Personally, I agree with the similarities. But whenever Hitler comes into the conversation about Trump, many people vehemently deny the comparisons. They think it’s awful to even go there. I guess I can understand why comparing Trump to Hitler makes people squeamish. People don’t want to think they fell for electing a monster, and it’s true that Trump hasn’t committed atrocities on the same level that Hitler did. But I think if people stopped to think about it for a minute– cleared their minds of the obvious distaste most people have for Hitler and looked at the issue critically– they might see why some of us can see how Hitler and Trump have used the same playbook. And even if they still disagree with the comparison, they might have more respect for the opinions of others who do see things in that way.

Interesting thoughts from 2016.

So how is it that some people see comparisons to Hitler and others don’t? I’ve found that conservatives who don’t see the parallels tend to focus on nitty gritty details. For instance, one Trump supporter I’ve talked to about this brought up that Trump (supposedly) isn’t anti-semitic. Others say that comparing Trump to Hitler is hyperbole that is insulting to Jewish people. They all bring up the fact that Trump hasn’t murdered six million people (yet), and comparing Trump to Hitler diminishes Hitler’s evil deeds. They’re looking at specific policies and the actual things that were done during the Holocaust. They don’t consider how the German people got to the point of ignoring the barbaric treatment of Jews and others who were deemed “undesirable”, such as communists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, gypsies, and homosexuals, to name a few. Trump hasn’t yet managed what Hitler did. It would be difficult for him to do that in today’s world. But he motivates disenfranchised people in a way common to Hitler’s, and he has some very similar behaviors and mindsets to Hitler’s.

Americans are lazy about studying history, much to our detriment. This is pretty cringeworthy.

What these folks can’t seem to understand is that most people comparing Trump to Hitler have never said that Trump is *just like* Hitler, or that he believes in everything Hitler championed. What they’re saying is that he has a similar leadership style. Trump, like Hitler, was a mediocre person before he rose to power. Yes, Trump was wealthy and famous even before he became president, but most of his “accomplishments” came on the backs of other people. He’s definitely not a scholar, and if not for the family business, he probably never would have been regarded as a particularly brilliant businessperson. Trump made his money by screwing over and bullying other people. He is a taker. And although the role of POTUS is the ultimate government position, Trump never had an interest in government service. He had no experience as a politician and never would have been able to get a security clearance. What he is interested in is fame, power, self-gratification, and wealth, not being a leader. And those interests are what make him like Hitler, who was a similarly damaged, mentally ill person who was drunk on power.

I actually had a copy of this issue of Mad Magazine, myself… it’s rather telling, isn’t it?

Like Hitler, Donald Trump’s “gifts” are his charisma and ability to rile up people. Like all malignant narcissists, he knows what to say to motivate people. He knows how to get people energized and fool them into thinking that he’s working for them. But if you look beyond the surface, you can see there’s very little substance to what he says. And when it comes down to it, he really doesn’t care about anyone but himself and his obsession for power and money. He’s no different than a televangelist who talks people into sending him their grocery money on the promise that they’ll somehow be blessed by the Almighty. Trump ALWAYS blames other people when things go wrong, and he energizes other people, perhaps those who feel disenfranchised by virtue signaling liberals whom they think live in ivory towers, to think as he does. Of course, Trump wouldn’t deign to spend any time with most of the people who champion him. He looks down on the poor.

Hitler, likewise, was very good at riling people up and convincing ordinary Germans that his plan was what they needed to get out of their impoverished conditions. He convinced people to blame the Jews and, little by little, desensitized them to the cruelties and atrocities levied against Jewish people. Germans are, on the whole, very law abiding people, so he passed laws that enabled his campaign of hatred to go on unabated. He enlisted other people– power hungry, ambitious, cruel people– to join him in his campaign against Jews and others he deemed unacceptable or undesirable.

In 2018, Donald Trump refers to certain countries as “shitholes”… and he pushes an agenda about making American “great” again, when for so many people, it was never “great”. He clearly disdains certain people, just like Hitler did, and minimizes atrocities committed against people who aren’t like him. Not unlike Hitler.

Take a look at Trump’s policies and you might see that he similarly dehumanizes people. In his case, it’s the “illegals”. And while the practice of “caging” people didn’t start with Trump, it definitely ramped up on his watch, especially as he insisted on going forward with his idea to build as massive wall to keep out “bad hombres”. Listen to what he says about other people. He views women as objects and values them only on their beauty. But even women he thinks of as “beautiful” are still just objects intended for his entertainment and enjoyment. They are less than human in his eyes. You only have to read some of his comments over the years to see that.

When people compare Trump to Hitler, it’s not because he’s been on a campaign of mass murder. It’s his behavior and his effect on his followers that they’re addressing. It’s Trump’s ability to motivate people to go to Washington, D.C. and attempt to derail democracy that makes him like Hitler. Sadly, a lot of people never think about this and won’t consider it. They only focus on what Hitler managed to do versus what Trump has done.

They hate the media, but they get their bullshit from the media.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are easily impressed, particularly by those who make a lot of money. They are blinded by fame and wealth, and equate that to success. Many Americans are big believers in the “prosperity gospel”. They assume that a person’s power, thanks to wealth and fame, are a sign that they are favored by God. Most of them don’t think too hard about how someone would come into that much money, power, and fame. Sadly, a lot of people want to be in the orbit of fabulously rich and famous people. It doesn’t occur to them that a lot of really wealthy, famous people are shallow and selfish. Those qualities are often how they made their money and became powerful. They don’t care about others.

So anyway, a couple hundred comments into the contentious thread my friend Chris posted, another college friend joined the discussion. This friend is a woman I knew in school. She’s very bright and articulate, and she has a degree in history. Longwood University, particularly when we were students, has a very strong history department. Most of the people I know who got degrees in history at Longwood are very intelligent.

My friend brought up the Hitler connection, and she was immediately taken to task by one of Chris’s military buddies. This guy, name of Russ, is an author and a military officer. Sadly, based on his comments to my old friend from college, he’s not much of a gentleman. As the two sparred in Chris’s thread, I noticed that he started most of his comments with sarcasm, insults, and blatant rudeness. Meanwhile, my college friend, who like me, is an Air Force brat, responded to his comments with dignity and basic respect.

I was impressed by my friend’s comments. She’s definitely more patient than I am. I was tempted to jump into the fray myself, but I decided that I don’t like arguing with jerks, especially when I don’t know them and when it’s on social media. To me, it’s mostly a pointless exercise. Still, I was very proud of my friend for standing up to Russ and his obvious disrespect toward smart women. And then it occurred to me that Russ is not unlike a lot of people in the military– usually men– who look down on others. I have been on the receiving end of a lot of shit from people in the military community simply for daring to call my blog The Overeducated Housewife. These folks are usually the type who universally refer to military wives (and it’s always the wives, not the husbands) as “dependas”. A “dependa”, for those who don’t know, is a fat, lazy, parasitical woman who marries a military guy simply to drain his paycheck at AAFES and access Tricare benefits.

But even worse to the people who use the slur, dependa (which is short for dependapotamus), are smart women who feel emboldened to challenge them. Most of the men who act like Russ are the type of guys who can’t stand smart, outspoken, articulate women. And so, instead of treating them like equals, they do their best to try to diminish them with sarcasm, insults, and discounting. Here are a few of Russ’s comments:

He starts with this, after a third person called Trump a “Nazi” (which for the record, I don’t agree with– I don’t think Trump is a Nazi, but I do think many of his behaviors are like Hitler’s)…

Jesus, can we knock off the Nazi nonsense? Have you EVER stopped to think that such language is one of the reasons we’re so polarized? When someone invades the rest of Europe or kills 6 million people in systemic genocide, then maybe the Nazi comparison will be valid. Until then, it’s just a lazy way to tell everyone how much you hate those on the other side.

Then, a few comments later, Russ writes this:

no, it’s not like Hitler’s rise to power. Geez, when did our schools stop teaching actual history and start giving you whatever validates your personal political viewpoint? Hitler used a runaway inflationary crappy economy and hatred of Jews to rise to power and then systemically kill millions of people. Your over the top hyperbole isn’t helping; in fact, it’s part of what is inciting all of this.

You can sort feel his derisive mood in his words. He’s not responding to other posters with respect. He’s being insulting and rude and not even trying to see where the comparisons are coming from. And again, he’s focused on the “nitty gritty” of what fueled Hitler, not the behaviors themselves.

So my friend informed Russ about her background and wrote an explanation of why people compare Trump to Hitler. Below is what she wrote. The only thing potentially insulting to Russ is when she asks him not to question her education when he doesn’t even know her.

As someone who has a degree in history I feel that I have an accurate grasp on historical events and what leads to major historical events to parallel. Don’t question my education when you have no idea who I am or what I know.

Trump inflates the hatred of immigrants. There are camps with inhumane conditions that these immigrants are kept.

He uses the fallacy of America first to incite his followers to do his bidding. He can get a whole room of people to chant whatever party line he wants them to say. The nationalism he has evoked from people is blind to any thought other than America.

Having driven around this America during the pandemic I have seen many pockets of his followers and they are usually the very poor and the very rich. He preys on the insecurities of those who are scraping by and he protects his billionaire friends.

His actions are from a third world coup playbook. He does not have absolute power, there is a thing called checks and balances. He thinks he can tell congress what he wants and it will happen. He thinks he can determine how he wants the supreme court to make decisions. They all said, thank you, next and now he is pouting in the White House, on a twitter time out while people are still protesting in front of the Capitol building for a man who would easily thrust them in front of himself.

Your reluctance to see the parallels are because you just don’t want to be compared to an extreme government that exterminated 6 million souls and disenfranchised millions more. I can understand that, it hurts to have your belief system examined so thoroughly and compared to what has been declared monstrous.

Trumps actions are text book fascist, his hero is the leader of a dictatorship, how can you rationalize accepting this man as your leader?

He lost the election and now you are being asked to get over it like the democrats were told to in 2016.

This was a great opportunity for Russ to enter into a respectful and perhaps illuminating discussion about why some people are reminded of Hitler when they look at Trump. Even if my friend had failed to convince him, he might learn something from the exchange. Instead, he immediately insults and tries to bully her:

ooh, you have a pretty certificate? Well that just settles everything then, doesn’t it?

No, Trump is not inflaming hatred of immigrants. He does say we have a border that should be enforced, and I notice you left the word ILLEGAL out of your diatribe. BTW, remind me again when the cages went into service and who was President at that time…I kinda thought the American President was elected to look after America. Maybe I misunderstand the job.

If you’ve only seen very poor or very rich supporters, you need to get out more. I live among them, and they’re pretty much middle class. Or do you need to categorize them to justify your own opposition?

Which dictatorial actions has he taken? Has he arrested journalists and had their families followed? Oh, wait, that was Barack Obama…Hitler being appointed to the Chancellorship was a move aimed at appeasing his supporters by Hindenburg, so as to try and bring them into the governmental coalition. Hitler never won the Presidency on his own and only assumed it upon the death of Hindenburg. Moreover, he set about rounding up Jews inside Germany who were German citizens, and then he executed them. You conflating with Trump saying mean things is pretty comical.

BTW, remind me when democrats “got over” the election of 2016.

After I read this, I decided to take a look at Russ’s Facebook page. He evidently has a wife and daughters. I bet he speaks like this to them, too. I know the type. This is the same treatment I used to get from my father and my uncle, and other men in the family with military experience who have the erroneous idea that being rude and insulting is motivating. He probably treats the women in his family like trash. And this is a very typical attitude displayed by a lot of men in the military who can’t stand to be addressed by women.

So my friend continued with another comment, which I thought was pretty civilized.

Yes, I have a pretty piece of paper that states I put in the time to research my given field. It is where I met Chris, someone I greatly admire. I didn’t say it to brag, but to let you know I had the ability to read books, such as yours, to come up with my own educated opinion on matters.

And Russ comes up with this beaut…

so you continue your assertions based on your certificate and not on facts? I notice you failed to refute a SINGLE thing presented, instead relying on your degree to hopefully quell others into silence. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to dismiss you.

At this point, I’m pretty sure that Russ is just an asshole. But my friend addressed him again, I think quite respectfully, given Russ’s arrogant and dismissive tone toward her.

no, I don’t need to refute your position or points. This is not a debate. I am not required to defeat your ill informed assertions with a counterpoint to each point you make. My reference to my degree was presenting qualification to my argument like anyone would to demonstrate a mastery in a subject or skill. It wasn’t meant to put anyone down who does not have said “pretty paper” and I acknowledge there are many here more educated than me, some might even consider themselves overeducated.

At the end of the day, Congress ratified the electoral vote and Joe Biden will be the next President baring any actions taking place in Congress this week regarding Donald Trumps role in inciting violence.

It is easy for you, a male, to dismiss me because I don’t immediately defer to your superior opinion because, as a female, I must be stupid and not really understand how all of this works. Your bully tactics will not work on me.

As the daughter of a retired Air Force Colonel, I lived in a divided Germany and in school we were taught many things regarding international affairs, to include the responsibility of the people who fueled the ego of Hitler and how easy it was for him to rise to power.

We are in a poor economic situation. Trump is saying things that resonate in many hearts of like-minded people. Senators and congress-people of his own party support him at the cost of their own careers.

Four years go by fast. Instead of insurrection and sedition, why not form powerful election reform groups to ensure the next election is not “fraudulent.” Oh wait, if the presidential election was fraudulent, maybe the rest of the election was fraudulent and Mitch really isn’t the duly elected Senator from Kentucky? Shocker that the only election that is in question is the presidential election when every state had all offices on the same ballot. No one else on the ballot who lost are protesting like an angry dictator that there was voter fraud. They accepted the loss and said, get ’em next time.

And Russ couldn’t let it go, so he responded thusly:

I see, instead of taking on the points you quite obviously got wrong about rises to power, now it’s all about what is dangling between my legs. Why that’s not sexist at all!

I treated you the same way I treat everyone else. Stop acting all butt hurt b/c you got called out on your hyperbolic nonsense. It’s not about anyone bowing down to superiority – it’s about you being so full of rage and anger that it has tainted your judgment about how you pose historical context.

I went back, and golly gosh gee if I could find anywhere where I said Biden would not be the next President. Wouldn’t that simple fact, which everyone acknowledges, kinda undercut your Hitler assertion? Last I checked, Hitler was pretty unlikely to allow himself to be removed from power. But I get that you are wedded to overblown rhetoric that you somehow can’t see contributes to all the anger in our society today.

I see that you want to make this about the election in general instead of your Nazi reference bullshit. Biden won – shouldn’t that be enough for you to let go of this anger? Or are you intent on proving that it’s not Trump per se you dislike, but the Right in general, and Trump is merely a stand-in for that hatred?

He’s not even trying to understand where my friend is coming from. His attitude toward her was belligerent and insulting from the get go. But my friend stays on the high road and writes this:

If you felt any hatred from me toward Trump or the right I am quite surprised. He is not important enough to me to hate.

If there’s anything I hate, it’s when people try to tell me how I feel or what I think. Kudos to my friend for her even-handed response to a guy who did just that. But he couldn’t let it go. He had to lob one more missive.

your words tell a different story.

Nope, Russ. I don’t see it. But my friend offered these last thoughts, again, very classily stated.

I guess as an author you would know? Hate is something that is a visceral reaction. I don’t hate him any more than I hate you. I feel sorry for this country in being hoodwinked by the biggest con man to ever hold office and that is saying a lot because we have had quite a few in our history.

I can call someone a narcissist without hating them. I can describe behaviors as being childish without hating them. I can hold my ground on how I feel without being hateful toward you or anyone else who feels the same.

The feeling I feel is pity. I am unsure you understand why I feel pity without thinking that I am being condescending. This division is not the America I have been brought up to believe in so strongly. It is devolving into an us vs. them and I refuse to play into that role. So while you try to bait me with insults to get me to spew hate, it is not going to happen. I have many conservative friends who both support and don’t support Trump and I don’t treat them any different than any other friends. I will respectfully debate them when they want to debate and I will back off when it becomes uncivil.

What people don’t understand is the language of politics and how it is founded in civility. You explore the concept of hate in your book Schism as well as a fictionalized (which at the moment feels more non fiction given current political events) break of political parties where people are pitted against each other. You have some great reviews and I agree with one reviewer that this genre of literature (modern civil war) will be forthcoming more due to the political and civil unrest in the country. At some point, when courts, lawmakers, and other officials are saying there was no corruption, no fraud, when are the disenfranchised Trump supporters going to believe that? What do people have to do to make this be a settled matter?

I do hope my friend doesn’t mind that I posted about this… but this discussion is on a public thread and I was legitimately impressed by her intelligent and respectful responses to an apparently misogynistic bully (because I truly doubt he would have responded to a man in the way he responded to my friend). I already had a bee in my bonnet this morning on account of a couple of people insulting me on Gary Johnson’s Facebook page. One person called me “a special kind of stupid” and “selfish” because I wrote that the one good thing Trump has done is motivate people who ordinarily don’t vote to go to the polls and vote him out of office. I am delighted that Joe Biden won, simply because he’s a much more decent person than Trump is. But apparently, voting against Trump makes me “stupid” and “selfish” (looks like she deleted her comment after I called her out). Behold:

Granted, maybe I shouldn’t have called the guy an “idiot”, but I hadn’t had my coffee. We all make mistakes.

Anyway… it’s been a long four years and a long couple of days. Even if Trump isn’t entirely to blame for what happened in Washington, DC on Wednesday, he certainly had a hand in its fruition. The whole world is watching this, and Trump has not responded like a real leader should and would. It’s time for him to leave power before even more people get hurt or killed by his terrible policies. Maybe, with a leader who actually cares about others and sees them as more than just objects or weapons, America might be able to repair some of the damage. But I think we could all start by not immediately resorting to verbal abuse and insults, discounting other people’s opinions, and diminishing their accomplishments. That alone, would help make America much better… although we still have a long way to go before we’re “great”.

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Trump

This is not the place to defend Donald Trump…

I’m not sure if I have made it clear in prior posts, but I’m making it clear now. I try to maintain an open mind when it comes to most things. Donald Trump is another matter. I cannot and will not excuse his despicable behavior. I don’t care if you want to bring up Bill Clinton. I wasn’t a fan of either of the Clintons and never voted for EITHER of them… even though I think they are both much better suited to the presidency than Trump will ever be.

I’ve been around a long time, and I was a teenager in the 1980s, when I first heard of Trump. Even back then, people were talking about what a scumbag he is. I didn’t pay a lot of attention back then, because I never realized he’d eventually be running the country. Let me make it crystal clear. I don’t think he has a single redeeming quality. He’s a raging narcissist. I think some level of narcissism must be a prerequisite for any extremely high level American government job, since Americans seem to adore narcissists. But raging narcissists are horrible people, by and large, and for that reason I would never support Trump as president.

Aside from his narcissism, he has made it very plain what he thinks of women and, more importantly, how very little he thinks of them. He raped his first wife. It was in their divorce proceedings. She later came back and kind of recanted what she’d said about what he did… but I think the damage was done. He has openly admitted to sexually assaulting women. He’s also been sued for racial discrimination as far back as the 1970s. Just today, there was a disgusting photo op with him giving the thumbs up as his wife, Melania, held a baby whose parents were just murdered over Trump’s bullshit. That child is going to have a very tough time growing up. Sadly, a lot of people just don’t see it. It’s all about the sound byte and photo op.

If you are a Trump fan, that’s your business. You can vote your conscience all you want. I would not want to try to change your mind, because I think people should be allowed to vote their consciences. But do not come on my blog and try to defend Trump to me. In my opinion, he’s a vile piece of shit. He does not care about anyone other than those who can help him further his cause. If you believe differently, that’s your business… but I think history will show you that you’ve been duped.

Most of all, though… I just don’t care to have these arguments on my space. You won’t change my mind about him. Every day, he’s more despicable and embarrassing. Maybe being abroad makes it easier for me to see… but to me, it’s plain as day. And I have not yet seen another candidate, Republican or Democrat, as morally bankrupt as he is… although there are a few Republicans who seem to come very close.

Now… back to my vacation and a nice long nap.

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