Biden, complaints, politics, rants, Reality TV, Trump, YouTube

Things are really getting uglier by the day…

Happy Friday, everybody. It’s a sunny, warm day in Germany so far, and I’m looking forward to another nice weekend with Bill. Right now, I’m listening to another video by Katie Joy Paulson, the woman behind the popular YouTube channel, Without A Crystal Ball. I discovered Katie Joy at some point last year, when I got hooked on YouTube videos while Bill was out of town on business. I mostly watch her videos about the Duggars, but every once in awhile, I watch some of her other stuff.

I know a lot of people don’t like Katie Joy. She’s been sued for defamation by a number of people. Nevertheless, she continues to make videos, and there are lots of rumors swirling around about her. I, personally, don’t have much of an opinion about the rumors. I have not been personally involved in any of the controversies about her. I mainly watch her stuff because she includes clips from the old Duggar shows, and God help me, I find the Duggars interesting… in a trainwreck kind of way.

This week, Katie Joy has been talking a lot about Todd and Julie Chrisley. Until this week, I had never even heard of Todd and Julie Chrisley, but I’m now finding myself falling down another rabbit hole. I think I heard their name for the first time last week, but it wasn’t even Katie Joy who uttered it. In fact, I think it was the lady behind Down the Rabbit Hole at Bedtime who first introduced me to this very southern, apparently very wealthy couple from Georgia, who just got convicted of bank fraud and tax evasion. The Chrisleys are currently trending, because both Todd and Julie are very likely going to go to federal prison soon. However, Todd Chrisley also sued Katie Joy for defamation, and according to a video she put out yesterday, Todd Chrisley has a habit of suing people. Katie Joy quoted Mr. Chrisley as saying that he “sues people for sport.” Charming, huh?

The video that introduced me to Chrisley Knows Best. This video is by Down the Rabbit Hole at Bedtime.

Katie Joy says she started talking and writing about the Chrisleys in 2019, when they were indicted by the feds for tax evasion and bank fraud. The couple were accused of falsifying bank documents to illegally qualify for loans, and not filing tax returns. They finally went to trial last month, and they were found guilty. The Chrisleys are facing up to 30 years in prison, although it’s unlikely that they’ll come even close to getting that lengthy of a sentence. Naturally, Katie Joy has reported about these events, even though Todd Chrisley threatened her and did, in fact, sue her. Below are three videos she’s done in the past week about this situation.

Yikes!
Todd Chrisley accused KJ of lying and threatened her…
It’s pretty ugly stuff.

Again, I don’t have a horse in the race myself. I never watched Chrisley Knows Best and, in fact, had never even heard of the show or the Chrisleys until a couple of days ago. However, listening to Todd Chrisley speak, I come away with the idea that he’s kind of a nasty, hateful, and desperate character. He repeatedly says that nobody cares about KJ, but then he sues her, and spends time talking and writing about her. Obviously he DOES care, on some level, and she is a threat to him. If she weren’t threatening, why would he bother seething about her on his podcast? Why would he sue her, especially since he now has no money to pay for lawyers? I listen to him speak, and he practically bubbles over with hatred. I can hear it in his voice, and it’s very unnerving.

Katie Joy didn’t go after Todd Chrisley for “personal” reasons. He’s a public figure, and his case was in the news. She covers those topics. It’s not like she hated him and decided to destroy his life. She covers him because he has a television show and he got busted by the feds. Todd Chrisley, on the other hand, appears to be going after Katie Joy simply because he hates her. He accused her of lying and defaming him, and yet he’s been found guilty and is very likely going to go to prison, along with his wife. So I’m not sure his lawsuit against her is going to be successful.

So why am I writing about this today? I think it’s because Todd Chrisley, and his nasty vendetta against Katie Joy, sort of epitomizes the way I see a lot of Americans lately. People are so incredibly polarized and negative. It’s just really ugly and trashy. It’s like we’ve forgotten how to respect each other as human beings. Listen to the way Chrisley speaks to and about Katie Joy. It’s the way a lot of people are talking to each other now. If you don’t agree with someone’s opinions or politics, that’s reason to dehumanize them and treat them with disdain. It didn’t used to be that way.

This morning, I woke up to a statement posted on Facebook by a woman I’ve known since I was eight years old. We grew up in the same small town in Virginia. She is a very nice person, and while we weren’t necessarily close friends when we were growing up, we now have similar views about politics. We have both abandoned voting for conservatives, mainly because of the complete shitshow the Republican party has turned into in the wake of Donald Trump. My friend, who works as a teacher and truly loves her students, posted this:

Finally got home and turned on the tv. I wish I hadn’t. Footage from Jan. 6 literally makes me sick. Crazy people shouting “USA” while behaving like animals (who should have at the very least have been tear-gassed). Knowing that people are going to again vote for the hate-monger who invoked that behavior and are condoning that behavior makes me even sicker. Unfriend me if you must, but I will forever speak out against traitors and cowards.

One of her friends– someone else from our conservative, southern hometown, wrote this:

I would never unfriend you for differing opinions as long as we understand, I too will also speak against the idiot leadership we have in office as we speak. 

But honestly I won’t have the discussion because you are so far left and I’m on the right so I will just be a friend! Lol 

And my old friend, God bless her, wrote something that really speaks to me, personally:

I’m glad that we can remain friends too. But I’m actually not far left. I don’t like Dems either and I’m not a party line person. I would NEVER condone or continue to support anyone who engaged in or incited such anti-American acts.

Bravo! I wouldn’t go so far as to say “I don’t like Dems”. The fact is, I do like a few Dems. However, there was a time, not so long ago, when I liked conservatives much more than I do now. I consider myself a Centrist. There are a lot of policies and ideas championed by the “left” that I don’t agree with at all. I don’t like cancel culture. I don’t like having “wokeness” crammed down my throat. I don’t want to be forced to wear a face mask for the rest of my life. And, while I do think COVID vaccines are a good idea, I am not in favor of forcing people to be vaccinated, unless there is a very compelling reason to do so. Like, I do think healthcare workers should be vaccinated. I do think that people who are dealing with vulnerable people should get their shots. But I hesitate to advocate for forced vaccinations– just as I don’t think anyone should be forced to stay pregnant.

But, as we all know, there are currently only two political parties in the United States that have a chance in hell of getting elected. Yes, other parties DO exist, but they can’t win an election at this point in time. So, my option is to vote Democrat, or vote for people who promote the likes of Donald Trump, who raped his ex wife, brags about molesting women, has been bankrupt repeatedly, and, when he was in office, egged on a segment of our society who tried to overthrow our government! It is also the party Josh Duggar prefers, and I don’t even need to discuss the likes of Kandiss Taylor, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Mitch McConnell, and Lauren Boebert, do I? No, I don’t align with any of those people, and high gas prices don’t enrage me, because Europeans have been paying high gas prices for plenty of years. It’s nothing new here. Americans have been spoiled.

I am not a big fan of Joe Biden. BUT– while he’s not the most dynamic or amazing leader we have ever had, he’s leagues better than Trump is. Joe Biden is not a narcissist, and he does care, on some level, about people. Donald Trump is an absolutely vile person, and he has no business being in a position of political power. I can’t fathom how decent people can champion a man like Donald Trump for president. What will it take before people see how absolutely awful he is? There’s so much proof of how selfish, corrupt, and “above the law” he is. He’s also extremely incompetent, even as a business person. I think countries should be led by human beings who CARE about the people they lead. Donald Trump doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Unfortunately, Trump has emboldened a lot of freaks, and our political system has become a huge embarrassing free for all.

It blows my mind that abortion– which really is necessary medical care for some people— is now potentially going to be illegal in many parts of the United States. At the same time, people are screaming about the prospect of gun control. How is it that so many people are horrified by an early abortion, but they are not equally horrified by an already born six year old being obliterated by an AR-15 in a classroom? How is it that we have ignorant MEN who want to force ALL pregnant women to stay pregnant, even if they are experiencing an ectopic pregnancy, which will KILL them, if it continues? I thought we settled this shit a few years ago, when the moronic MALE Ohio Republican wanted to compel doctors to “reimplant” ectopic pregnancies. Remember John Becker, who famously said of treating ectopic pregnancies:

“Part of that treatment would be removing that embryo from the fallopian tube and re-inserting it in the uterus so that is defined as not an abortion under this bill,”

Seriously!!!!

That fucking idiot doesn’t even know that ectopic pregnancies CANNOT ever be salvaged, and are often FATAL to the pregnant person if they aren’t treated with ABORTION. And yet, there he was, trying to make stupid laws about pregnancy, something about which he obviously knows NOTHING. And WHY should a woman who needs that kind of lifesaving treatment, have to explain or justify it to ANYONE? No, I don’t cheer for abortions, nor have I ever had one, and nor would I necessarily want one. But it’s not my business why someone doesn’t want to be pregnant or needs to have an abortion. It’s not my body, my finances, or my health on the line. And it’s certainly not the business of a MAN who will not ever face a situation like that, either. Why are these fucking men allowed to make laws about things they don’t know anything about?

Mama Doctor Jones speaks about ectopic pregnancies. She got the below comment from someone who clearly has no idea what they’re talking about…
Mama Doctor Jones is an actual physician! She knows of what she speaks.

It seems that abortion, guns, and gas prices are the only things most Republicans care about… Oh, and banning “illegals”… How disgusting and dehumanizing is it that these “God fearing folks” refer to other human beings as “illegals”? How would they like it if the United States suddenly became so dangerous or inhospitable that they wanted to leave for safer territory, and they were called ILLEGALS by other human beings? Actually, I kind of understand how some so-called “illegals” must feel, as I live in Germany. We are here in Germany legally, but right now, I feel like a refugee from my country. I watch from afar and feel very apprehensive about going home again, because it just seems like such a dangerous, polarized, unhinged place full of maniacs.

Living in Europe has forever changed me, and it’s changed my political views. That being said, I don’t hate all Republicans. I have many friends and family members who are Republicans… sadly, quite a few of my family members don’t speak to me anymore, all because of politics. So… I guess I don’t have a reason to go home. They don’t care, anyway. Fortunately, most Germans seem to have a more mature, humane, and magnanimous attitude about all humans, although of course there’s racism here, too. But at least here, I don’t worry about being shot when I go to the market or walk my dogs.

Anyway… I hope things get better at some point before I finally pass out of this hellhole we call Life. It’s gotten really bad, and it doesn’t seem to be getting any better. I’m just so sad to see how people seem to hate each other, simply because they have differing opinions. I thank God for Bill, because I think if it weren’t for him, I would be back in a full on depressive episode. I wish we could all come together and cooperate to make life better for EVERYONE.

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Duggars, LDS, religion

Repost: Adoptions gone wrong…

I’m going to repost two more posts I wrote about adoptions that went wrong… They are going to be reposted as/is, and I’m only posting them because I saw a video on YouTube about the despicable practice of “rehoming children” yesterday. These posts generated controversy when they were first posted, but I’m still going to try not to alter them.

The first one was posted January 28, 2013.

Adoptions gone wrong…

I have never had any desire to adopt a child, even when it became clear that my husband would not be able to get me pregnant without medical intervention.  I have a lot of reasons for feeling the way I do about adoption.  Those who want to do it have my admiration, as long as they’re doing it honorably and with the right intentions. 

I have noticed that a lot of people who are interested in adopting children are very religious.  In fact, there’s a woman who hangs out on the Recovery from Mormonism forum who has several adopted children.  She freely admits that she adopted them because she thought she was leading them to the gospel, never mind that two of them turned out to be severely affected by reactive attachment disorder and visited complete chaos on her home.  

Last night, I read with interest an update about the case of Sergeant Terry Achane, an Army drill sergeant whose ex wife had his daughter in Utah and gave her up for adoption without his consent.  The child was adopted by the Frei family, who already had five children and were hoping to find a black child to be a companion to their adopted black son.  When Achane found out about the illegal adoption, he took steps to get his daughter back.  The Freis fought back; consequently, 22 month old Teleah is just now with her rightful father instead of the people who have raised her since her birth.  

I first heard about the Achane/Frei case back in December, when someone posted a news article about it on RfM.  Here’s a quote from that story…

On a blog about the case, where the Freis have raised more than $20,000 to help with legal bills, they vow to appeal McDade’s decision, describing the arrival of Achane’s daughter in their lives “a righteous desire blessed to fruition by God.”

“We have not lost our conviction that we are in the right!!!!!!” Kristi Frei wrote after McDade’s Nov. 20 ruling dismissed their adoption petition. “We have only ever wanted to do right by Leah, and have always felt we have been acting in her best interest to keep her with our family and raise her as our own. Our hearts have demanded it — there has never been any question to us that she is OURS!!!”

I visited the Freis’ blog last night and noticed that it appears to be cut down to one page. I imagine they got a lot of negative comments about their plans to raise the child they call Leah, mainly because a lot of people recognized that they had no right to raise her. She has a perfectly good father who wanted to be in her life and legally had the right to raise her. However, the Freis believe that they had the divine right to have the little girl… I imagine they think they were anointed by God.

Changing gears, another story that has gotten a lot of press is that of Kendra Skaggs, a woman who started a blog about her attempt to adopt a Russian orphan named Polina. Polina is disabled. Kendra Skaggs and her husband are devout Christians and they decided they wanted Polina. They jumped through many hoops to get her and were almost ready to be approved when they fell into the cracks of a new law proposed by Russia’s president, Vladmir Putin, prohibiting Americans from adopting Russian children.

Many Russians are very upset about this legislation, since so many orphans languish in Russia– especially ones like Polina who are physically disabled. Looking at the Skaggs’ blog this morning, it appears that they will get their new daughter. That’s a happy ending, I think. It’s better for Polina to have a family that wants her than grow up institutionalized.

About ten years ago, there was a lot of press about Anna He, a Chinese girl who was sort of “stolen” from her Chinese parents, who thought they were giving her up temporarily to an American couple. Her biological parents and adoptive parents fought for years over who would raise her. She ended up going to China when she was a young girl, not knowing the language or the culture and totally missing her American parents, who had apparently gotten her under some shady conditions. 

I remember when Anna He was still very young and thinking her adoptive parents should let her biological parents have her before it was too late. As it turned out, by the time she got to China to live with her biological family, after her parents had split up, Anna He was a stranger in a strange land. I think she ultimately got a raw deal. She did get to visit her former foster parents in 2011, though. 

Finally, there’s the case of Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who legally adopted a little girl named Veronica in 2009. When it came to light that Veronica had Cherokee Indian blood, the adoption was challenged by Veronica’s biological father, Dusten Brown, a registered member of Cherokee Nation. Brown had apparently initially agreed to allow the girl to be adopted, but later changed his mind. 

In 1978, The Indian Child Welfare Act was passed as a means to stop abuse that had been going on for decades, which separated Native American children from their families and heritage through adoptions. From what I read on CNN, Dusten Brown thought the mother intended to raise the child herself, so he said he would relinquish his parental rights in order to avoid paying child support. But when he found out she intended to put the girl up for adoption, he decided he wanted to raise her himself.

The Capobiancos have had a very difficult time in their quest to become parents. They had gone through several IVF treatments that all failed. Adoption appeared to be their only chance at having children. I can’t even imagine their devastation at having this happen, even as I also have empathy for biological fathers who are denied rights to their kids when the mothers decide to give them up for adoption.

Had my husband not had a vasectomy when he was with his ex wife, we probably would have had kids. I always wanted to be a mother. But all these stories about adoptions going wrong (and there are even more of them out there) makes the prospect of adoption very unappealing to me. And I figure if adoption doesn’t appeal to me, it’s probably better if I don’t become a mother. The urge isn’t strong enough to withstand that kind of heartache.

In any case, I am truly happy that Sergeant Achane got his daughter back. I hope they have a good life. I’m glad it looks like Kendra Skaggs will get Polina, because I think staying in a Russian orphanage will not serve the little girl. As for the Capobianco case, I’m not sure what to think… 

Edited to add… This morning on RfM, someone posted this…

TBM niece “wants one of those” (black babies)…

A year or so ago one of our TBM nieces (with 5 kids of her own) and her DH adopted a black baby from Haiti. When she posted photos of the kids together, her TBM friends all “cooed” (quite patronizingly) about how adorable her family was, especially the new adoptee. One of our other nieces-also TBM with 3 kids posted “I so want one of those!” I was horrified but her comment was revealing of the general sense that adopting a little black child was the newest fad amongst this group of TBM Utahns.
I found it disturbing on a number of levels.

Yikes.

And the follow up, which was posted on March 21, 2014…

I noticed this morning that my blog has been getting a lot of hits on a post I wrote in January 2013 about adoptions gone wrong.  Interesting that this would come up today because I just started reading a book about adoptions, specifically those done by religious people as a means of bringing more children into a belief system.  It’s often evangelical Christian and Mormon couples that adopt kids to “bring them to the gospel” and it seems to be trendy to adopt these kids from foreign countries. 

The video I watched yesterday (in 2022) that prompted me to repost these articles.

Interestingly enough, today I read an article about a young woman from Haiti who was adopted in 2009 at age 13.  Nita Dittenber’s adoptive parents, Tony and Michelle Dittenber of Nampa, Idaho, had four biological kids and took in five more adopted ones from Haiti.  Among the five Haitian adoptees was Nita’s biological sister,   Evidently, Nita was having problems in the Dittenber home and by the time she was 14, Michelle Dittenber had taken to the Internet to offer her to another family.  She went to two other families, both of whom sent her back. 

Then, when she was 15, Nita was sent to Marysville, Ohio to live with Emily and Jean Paul Kruse and their nine kids.  The Kruses are evidently Christians.  I read an article about them that was run as a PR piece by the Ohio National Guard, which is where Jean Paul Kruse worked.  Jean Paul has a son from a previous relationship.  Emily has three kids from another relationship.  They had one child together.  Then they adopted four kids from Vietnam and Liberia.  Nita lived with the family for 17 months.  While she was there, the girls told her that Jean Paul Kruse was sexually abusing them.  Though he apparently never touched Nita, she was terrified.  She told Emily Kruse, who accused her of lying and threatened to send her back to Idaho.

One day, Nita went to visit other Kruse relatives with some of the other children.  One of the Kruses asked Nita why she was so downhearted.  Nita told the person about the abuse and then the younger girls shared their stories.  Fortunately, the relative took action, but when Emily Kruse found out that Nita had talked, she sent her back to Idaho… supposedly so she wouldn’t be questioned by local authorities.  The Dittenbers were on vacation.  Nita arrived in Boise with nothing but the clothes on her back and was temporarily taken by her adoptive aunt and uncle, Tammy and Michael Dittenber.  When Michelle Dittenber came back from her trip, she immediately offered Nita up on the Internet again for yet another re-homing.

As I read this story, I got the sense that the Dittenbers are probably LDS.  I did some searching and found evidence that at the very least, extended family is Mormon.  They live in Idaho, which is very Mormon.  They’ve adopted a bunch of kids from Haiti, which is a very Mormon thing to do.  Tony Dittenber works for a “food warehouse”, which may be a euphemism for one run by the LDS church for families in need.  Michelle works at home booking flights for an airline… probably JetBlue, which is known for employing stay at home moms and was co-founded by David Neeleman, a Mormon Brazilian-American businessman.

ETA:  Minutes after this post went live, I was contacted by Tammy Dittenber, who was mentioned in my blog post and in the story about Nita Dittenber.  She writes that she and her husband are LDS converts of 13 years, while Michelle and Tony Dittenber are Pentecostal.  Tammy Dittenber writes that she and her husband are the only members of the LDS church in the family.  As one can imagine, what happened with Nita has been devastating to the entire family.  I imagine the Reuters article, since it went live, has caused quite the firestorm for the Dittenbers.  I want to thank Tammy Dittenber for correcting me as well as being very nice about it.  I am very sorry for what that family is dealing with, even as I am also very sorry for Nita’s troubles.    

An article linked to the one about Nita Dittenber relates the sad story of Inga Whatcott, who was adopted from Russia.  A year after bringing 12 year old Inga home, Neal and Priscilla Whatcott gave up trying to raise her.  They claimed that she had problems too severe to handle.  She struggled to read and write, smoked cigarettes, was depressed, and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.  Over six months, the Whatcotts sent Inga to three different families, none of which worked out.  In one family, she had sex with a sibling who then urinated on her.  In another, she claims she was molested by the father.  She finally ended up at a Michigan psychiatric facility, where she claims she had sex with her therapist, who said he “never crossed the line physically” with Inga.  Indeed, he reports that she was very troubled.

Another article by Reuters highlights the shady non-legalized adoptions that go on too often when adoptive parents realize they can’t handle a child they’ve taken in from another country.  Sometimes adopted children end up in the care of very scary people who are never vetted by social workers or law enforcement.  Sometimes the end results of these “non-legal adoptions” turn out to be tragic.     

Just yesterday, I read another article about Stacey Connor, a woman who, along with her husband, Matt, adopted two children from Haiti.  The older child, a five year old boy, turned out to have severe problems that threatened the younger child, a baby girl, and the woman’s biological child.  She ended up deciding to re-home the boy.  In that case, it sounded like Connor did what she could to find an appropriate home for the boy, rather than just sending him away to anyone willing to take him.  Still, it’s very disturbing that these kinds of situations occur, that parents bring home kids from other cultures and then can’t keep them.

The book I’m reading is called The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption and it’s all about how adoption has become a big business, especially in religious circles.  Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, the famous couple with nineteen kids and a reality show, have said they are considering adopting more kids for their gigantic brood.  I feel pretty certain that any child adopted by them will be adopted so they can be “brought to the Lord” and perhaps keep their reality show going. 

I don’t necessarily think that it’s wrong or bad for religious people to adopt children, as long as they are adopting because they truly want to be parents.  Many times, these international adoptions work out fine and the kids end up much better off than they would have had they not been adopted.  Other times, the adoptions turn out to be disastrous for any number of reasons.  Sometimes kids that come from other countries have severe mental and physical health problems that prove to be impossible for well-meaning adoptive parents to handle.  Sometimes there is simply no bond.  When the well-meaning parents give these kids up to strangers, the kids can end up getting hurt or killed. 

Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of families who are religious take in children for the wrong reasons.  They do it so they’ll look good in church circles or to bring souls to Christ, rather than fulfilling a desire to be parents.  A few years ago, I read an incredible book by Julia Scheeres called Jesus Land: A Memoir.  Scheeres has an adopted brother named David, who is black.  Her very religious and violent parents adopted David and another black boy named Jerome.  If you ever needed to read a story about how people can adopt for the wrong reasons, Jesus Land is that story.  I reviewed it, of course…

Originally I included my Jesus Land review in this post, but since this is so long, I’ll put that review in a fresh post.

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Duggars, law, music, religion

A song leads me to ponder Christians and lawsuits…

Sorry in advance for those who are tired of this topic. I’m still working it out in my head. Also, please excuse me for taking so long to get to the point. 😉

A few days ago, I was working on my latest jigsaw puzzle. I had the music going, and a song came on that I think was by Paul Thorn. I can’t tell you which one it was, though, because I have a habit of downloading whole albums by artists I like, or even when I just hear a song I like. I don’t always get around to listening to the whole thing, like I used to when I was younger and poorer. I remember, when I was a kid, I would save my pennies for albums and listen to the whole thing over and over again, until I had the whole thing memorized. Nowadays, there’s just so much out there that I like, I don’t do that anymore.

In fact, just this morning, I was looking at songs by Stephen Bishop. I had heard his original version of the song, “Separate Lives”, which was made famous in the mid 1980s by Phil Collins and Marilyn Martin, who sang it for the film, White Nights. I was contemplating buying a live EP by Stephen Bishop, even though I already have a different live album by him. Then I noticed the Alan Parsons Project also had a song called “Separate Lives”. I have always liked the Alan Parsons Project… I’m nerdy like that, and I’m a bonafide child of the 80s. I ended up listening to a snippet, and liked what I heard, so I downloaded that. I’m now listening to that album. And I also bought an obscure early 90s album called The Law, which one of my college roommates had. I liked it back then, and it just popped into my head. So I bought that, too. I’m probably a record company’s wet dream of a customer. I’ll buy albums at the drop of a hat. It’s a good thing I gave up my obsession with horses, or Bill and I might legitimately be in the poorhouse.

Aha! I thought those backup singings sounded familiar. They also sing with the great Mike Farris, as well as on their own!

I am a recent admirer of Paul Thorn’s music. I discovered him when someone made a hilarious YouTube video using his funny song, “It’s a Great Day to Whup Somebody’s Ass”, speeding it up so it sounded like Paul was on helium. I found the original version and loved it. Next thing I knew, I was downloading shitloads of Paul Thorn’s music. His song, “I Don’t Like Half the Folks I Love” was very comforting to me in 2014, when I lost my dad rather suddenly. I was listening to my iPod on the way to my home state of Virginia, and that song, which I had never heard before came on… and I could really relate to it on so many levels.

I know Paul Thorn is the son of a Pentecostal preacher. He grew up in Tupelo, Mississippi, and was not allowed to listen to rock and roll when he was growing up. He had to hide the two records he did own– one by Huey Lewis and the other by Elton John. It’s not surprising that some of his songs are about faith issues, even though his own career has involved rock and roll, and until recently, booze. Thorn has evidently given up the sauce… something for which I heartily congratulate him.

So anyway, this song came on, and it sounded like it was an indictment against lawsuits. I thought it was a song by Paul Thorn, but I could be wrong. I’m trying to find it now, but I haven’t been successful. I should have “Shazamed” it. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could do a topic search in my music library and find the song that way? I probably could do that, but lack the technical expertise to figure out how. The song got me to thinking, though. I have heard that Christians shouldn’t sue each other. But what if the lawsuit is for a good cause?

I am rather nominally a Christian myself. I was raised to be Christian, but I don’t go to church anymore. Even if lawsuits weren’t considered a “Christian” thing to do, I don’t think that would be a reason not to engage in litigation. I do think that people should only sue someone as a last resort. I don’t think lawsuits should only be about money, either.

One of the reasons my husband sued our former landlady was because we knew she courted junior members of the military– young, inexperienced couples who might not have the time or resources to hold her accountable. She was very proud of hosting several American families in her rental house, and according to her, they were all “perfect” tenants. Except for us, that is. She said we were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had.

Now, we aren’t perfect people by any stretch of the imagination. But we do pay rent on time– early, actually– and we don’t throw wild parties, get in fights with each other or the neighbors, purposely destroy things, or complain a lot. I may not be a great housekeeper, but I do keep a basically sanitary home. She made us sound like we were total pigs. And although she accused us of being irresponsible slobs who were the “worst” tenants she’d ever had, I noticed that she never once asked us to move out of the house. She never claimed Eigenbedarf (needing the house for herself or her family). In fact, we have many emails in which she thanked Bill for paying her promptly and for being so “considerate”, which he certainly is. Although I had plenty of reason to complain about her many unplanned intrusions, I rarely did, at least in the beginning. It was only after she became verbally abusive toward me in my own home that I became really angry.

How is it, then, that she justified keeping our deposit, only begrudgingly giving us 20% back when Bill insisted? How is it that she clearly broke German laws, and we were the shitty ones? The money she kept, we could afford to lose. But there was a time when her decision to keep our money would have been financially devastating to us. I couldn’t help but notice that she appeared to prefer a certain type of tenant. Her place was priced reasonably for the Stuttgart area, although until we moved to Wiesbaden, it was one of the most expensive rentals we’d ever lived in. It was more than what we paid for housing in Texas and Georgia, though we lucked into a fairly cheap place in North Carolina. None of those landlords had problems with us, either. She was the only landlord that ever dared to rip off our deposit in such an egregious way.

We figured that if she was willing to rip us off without any compunction, she would certainly do it to younger, less assertive people with less experience living in Germany. She would count on them having to leave the country and not having had the foresight to buy legal insurance. She would bet they would be too intimidated by the court system and the lack of German language proficiency most Americans have. Plus, she’s a total bully, and most people don’t enjoy confronting bullies. That’s why they can continue to be that way to other people for as long as they do.

So, although we definitely wanted to hold her accountable for ourselves, we also saw suing her as a moral obligation toward those coming after us. She may very well continue to try to rip off her tenants, but at least someone has refused to let her get away with openly breaking German tenant/landlord laws. I strongly suspect that the people before us realized that she was a dishonest person and, instead of having the integrity to deal with her themselves, they lied to us and left us holding the bag. And then, when I started to figure out what happened, they tried to shame me into silence. They wanted us to pay the price for things that happened on their watch… because I KNOW that they didn’t get the same level of scrutiny on checkout that we did… and I KNOW that the house was not as clean for us as it was when we left it, in spite of ex landlady’s claims that it was filthy.

Bill watched her carefully when they did the walkthrough. She obviously had to look pretty hard to come up with defects, although she did have the nerve to complain that we left the trashcans full, as they were when we moved in back in 2014. I wish he’d had the presence of mind to remind her that we had paid rent and Nebenkosten (other costs– eg. water, trash) for December 2018, when we weren’t even living there. We had every right to use the trash cans in November 2018. The lease was in effect until 11:59pm December 31, 2018. If she was so upset that they were dirty, she could have asked us to come back and clean them after they were dumped. She knew we weren’t leaving the country. Of course, that would have meant she needed to cooperate with us, which she plainly wasn’t willing to do.

When it became clear that she was trying to portray us as people we clearly aren’t, to the point of even falsely accusing us of theft and other illegal things, we decided that a lawsuit was in order. It brought us no joy or pleasure to sue her. In fact, I know I was very angry about having to take that step. But what choice did we have? We could sue her and pursue what was rightfully ours under the contract, or we could let her get away with what looks to me to be like her usual scam involving Americans in Germany. To me, it seemed immoral not to hold her accountable, because it would only embolden her to continue doing the same sleazy thing to other people. In that sense, I don’t think what we did was “unChristian”. She did finally end up giving us our money, but boy, was it obvious she didn’t want to do it. Months after the case was settled, she still hadn’t paid. We contacted our lawyer, who must have sent her a very strongly worded letter. And then ex landlady didn’t pay us directly. She paid the lawyer, who then gave us our money. It must have been very painful for her to do the right thing.

And then I think about so-called Christians, like the Duggar family, who have certainly used the legal system to get what they want. Four of the Duggar daughters sued over invasion of privacy when their information was leaked to the press. That case was eventually dismissed after a couple of years of wrangling. Of course, right now the legal system is having its way with their brother, Josh Duggar, who is going to have an extra couple of months cooling his heels in the Washington County jail. His lawyers successfully petitioned the court for more time before he is formally sentenced for his horrific crimes against children. I have heard that jails are a lot less comfortable than prisons are. They are set up for short term stays, which means they have less in the way of resources for inmates. But Josh probably prefers to be in Arkansas, close to his wife, Anna, who is able to talk to him by phone. Once he gets to prison, he may be less protected from harm than he is right now. But of course he’s going to have to go to prison at some point. Frankly, I think the sooner he accepts that, the better off he’ll be.

Speaking of the Duggars… there was another wedding yesterday. Jeremiah Duggar, twin to Jedidiah, who was married last April, got married to the former Hannah Wissmann in Nebraska yesterday. Some photos have already surfaced of the event, which was apparently relatively subdued for a Duggar wedding. There weren’t any weird pranks played, for instance. This was also the first wedding Josh didn’t attend, obviously. I don’t know where they will honeymoon. Since TLC isn’t paying, I guess it won’t be anywhere in Europe.

Anyway… if I ever figure out who sang the song that inspired this post or the song’s title, I’ll try to post a link and perhaps offer more commentary. Next time, I’ll be sure to Shazam. But, suffice to say, I don’t think it’s always wrong or immoral to sue someone. Sometimes, lawsuits are completely justified and, in fact, even the “right” thing to do. It’s only when they are solely about taking money for frivolous or greedy reasons that I think they’re immoral. Sometimes, filing a lawsuit is the only way to get justice. And, I know in our case, it was also about reclaiming self-respect and maintaining dignity. Turning the other cheek is a good thing to do sometimes. Other times, it’s much better to fight.

One more thing before I go… I just discovered the wonderful music of piano prodigy Ruth Slencynzska, who is 97 years old and is Rachmaninoff’s last surviving student. If you love classical music, I would highly recommend checking out her brand new album, My Life in Music. It’s gorgeous!

It’s better to focus on Ruth’s sublime artistry and musicianship than people who lie, cheat, and steal from others.
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Duggars, narcissists, religion, YouTube

Jana Duggar… poster child for stay at home daughters and keeping sweet!

I’m getting a late start on my blog post today. It’s because I got sidetracked watching YouTube videos. One of the videos I saw was posted by none other than Katie Joy, of Without a Crystal Ball. I know a lot of people don’t like KJ for whatever reason. I am not involved in that drama myself. I think her videos are interesting and thought provoking, but I am pretty neutral when it comes to whether or not I think she’s a good content producer or about her as a person. I did find her recent video about Jana Duggar and “stay at home daughters”, in general, interesting viewing.

What is a stay at home daughter?

Stay at home daughters are usually the eldest daughters in large, fundie Christian families. They typically don’t get married or find jobs. Instead, they stay in their parents’ homes and help raise the youngest children. Then, as the parents get older, the stay at home daughter takes care of them. In the Duggar Family’s case, it’s said that eldest daughter, Jana, is a “stay at home daughter”. I don’t know if that’s actually true, although it does appear to be so. At this writing, Jana is 32 years old and evidently still sleeps in the same bedroom with her much younger sisters. But then, Jana has never had the simple luxury of having her own bedroom. She grew up with many siblings in a home that was much too small. Privacy is a concept with which she’s probably got very little experience.

Is Jana really a stay at home daughter?

I look at Jana and I think she’s absolutely beautiful. She’s very capable, in spite of having been educated at her parents’ dining room table. She’s done everything from rearing children to heavy construction work. I’ve noticed that she’s even wearing pants lately, which is a new development. I would hope that she’s been exposed to the world enough to understand that her father doesn’t own her. But there’s really no telling what the truth is about being Jim Bob Duggar’s daughter.

Young women in the IBLP cult are raised to believe that they are always under a man’s power. They belong to their fathers until they get married. Then, once they marry, they become their husband’s “property”, for lack of a better term. They’re expected to have babies and serve their husbands and the church. They don’t have a voice. They aren’t supposed to work for money. They are supposed to wear skirts and grow their hair and do what the man says.

Fundies live for this…

To be sure, Jana Duggar’s lifestyle isn’t like that of her sisters closest in age to her. They’ve all been married off and have their own babies. But there’s Jana, 32 years old and still having to take orders from her father, sleeping in a big “dorm” room with her little sisters. Maybe this is the way she prefers it. Who knows? I have heard rumors of her “courting”, but then the courtships invariably fizzle out. I’m sure Josh’s recent trial has had an effect on Jana’s prospects for escaping the Duggar compound. After all, Josh’s seven children need help with their raising now…

I think I was especially interested in watching this video because I’ve seen a similar dynamic in my husband’s older daughter’s life. Older daughter is a few months older than Jana is, and she’s still living in her mother’s home. We’ve heard that she does all of the housework and takes care of her brother. There have been a few times she’s been allowed to leave the home. For instance, she spent some time working with her brother in another state. But even though she reportedly thrived on her own and enjoyed her work, she always faithfully returns to Ex. She supposedly doesn’t have privacy, autonomy, or apparently, much respect. She takes care of everything while Ex presumably sits on her ass, grifts money and gifts from people, and tweets.

Now… older daughter isn’t a fundie. She was raised LDS, which is something her mother pushed. She was not born into Mormonism. Ex decided that she liked the church’s teachings– or maybe the emphasis on family units and staying married for eternity. Ex doesn’t like abandonment. However, the whole Mormon thing seems to have fallen apart. Ex supposedly isn’t in the church so much now, especially since it became more of a burden than a blessing. She just runs her “mini cult” by convincing her grown children that they will suffer without her. Even the ones who aren’t living under her roof anymore are given the message that they have to do what she wants, or else.

I really think this “stay at home daughter” thing often has more to do with narcissism than religion. I think a lot of narcissists are attracted to super strict religions, because it allows them to maintain control over their mini family cults. A lot of strict religions place a lot of emphasis on families, and keeping everyone in the family on the same page, as it were. Where things get into trouble is when the church tries to intervene, or people within a church point out that legalism and power mongering isn’t very Christlike behavior.

I’m sure there are people in the world who like the “stay at home daughter” trend. Some people might be very happy in that role, staying in their parents’ homes, taking care of the house, younger siblings, and later on, their parents. Maybe it works in some situations. To me, it sounds like a special kind of hell. But maybe Jana Duggar and her ilk like how they’re living their lives. I just think it’s sad… because Jana appears to me to be a very smart, capable person who could be living life on her own terms. I feel the same way about older daughter… and I think it’s sad that older daughter can’t or won’t take advantage of the many people, her father included, who would help her escape the situation she’s in. But again… maybe it makes her happy. I don’t know… she doesn’t talk about it.

Anyway… I did run across an interesting blog post about the concept of “stay at home daughters”. The person who wrote it seems happy enough with her lot. It would definitely not be for me, though. I spent two years living with my parents after I came home from the Peace Corps. It was not easy. Thank God for graduate school.

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controversies, Duggars, nostalgia, Russia, safety, silliness

I kept my kid rear facing until he was sixteen! Give me a cookie!

Now that the pandemic restrictions are slowly fading away, people are starting to go back to their old favorite soapboxes. I’m starting to see less lecturing about public health guidelines regarding viruses. And, after our glorious minimally COVID intrusive French break, I am feeling a lot better about some things.

I say “some things”, because I’m going to have to call up USAA again and bitch at them for wrongly blocking my debit card due to “suspicious activity”. They unceremoniously put a block on the card last night as I was trying to make a purchase from a vendor I use fairly often. I don’t know if it’s because I had a travel alert because we went away for a few days, or just because… but this happens to me fairly frequently, and I’m at the point now at which I’m thinking it’s time to consider finding a new bank. Perhaps we need one that is more local. I suggested that in 2014, but Bill didn’t agree. Anyway, I have to call them today, and I hate having to do that. It’s a pain in the ass. Edited to add: as I was writing this, I got an automated call from USAA, many hours after the fact, asking me to confirm the activity. Supposedly, my card is open… so maybe I can make my purchases now. I’ll give it a try later, when I can call USAA immediately and get help if it doesn’t work.

Now… on to today’s topic. I follow the Duggar Family News Group on Facebook. It’s often entertaining, and sometimes there are some great books recommended there. I also enjoy a lot of the snark regarding fundie Christian families such as the Duggars. I guess it was a natural progression, since I’m less interested in snarking on Mormons lately, even if I do still intensely dislike Mormonism (but not Mormons, in general).

This morning, someone posted one of their Facebook memories, in light of the recent car accident involving Nathan and Nurie (Rodrigues) Keller. I posted about the accident, myself, a few weeks ago. It seems that Nathan and Nurie, who have a baby boy, did not have their infant in a car seat at all. Nathan was cited.

Naturally, news of the accident generated a lot of chatter from other Duggar Family News followers, especially since Nurie’s parents, Jill and David Rodrigues, both have siblings who are permanently disabled due to serious car accidents. Jill’s sister has been a quadriplegic since 2015, while David’s brother is reportedly a paraplegic. I don’t know much about the specifics involving those accidents, but it would seem to me that, under those circumstances, car safety should be more of a priority in the Rodrigues family than it apparently is. But this post is less about how I think the Rodrigues and Keller families should be more cognizant of safety, than it is about the public ego stroking that goes on any time someone brings up the subject of car seats.

Someone posted that the below image came up in their memories the other day, and they decided to share it with the group:

Yikes!

This is the video referenced in the above image.

Blood flows red on the highway!

Now… I want to make it very clear that I am not against people being as safe as possible when they’re driving. It’s true that I have always hated wearing seatbelts, but I wear them anyway, because Bill turns into Pat Boone if I don’t. But aside from that, I’m not an idiot. I know that seatbelts and car seats save lives. This is not a rant about car seat safety, five point harnesses, or rear facing children for as long as possible… although I’m pretty sure I would have puked a lot if that had been the rule when I was a child. I tend to get motion sickness when I ride backwards. But what’s a little vomiting when your life is at stake, right?

This rant is about what happens when people share these things on social media. It practically turns into a circle jerk of self-congratulations, as poster after poster brags about how strict they are about car safety with their own kids. In fact, looking on YouTube, the same phenomenon is happening among commenters there. So many people are boasting about how safety conscious they are, patting themselves on the back. They are probably at a higher risk of breaking their arms that way, than in a car accident.

Here’s a sampling of the comments on YouTube.

The comments on the Facebook post are very similar to the ones above. Based on the self-congratulatory mood of these responses, one could be led to believe that everybody who’s anybody rear faces their kids, their husbands, their wives, their pets, and would also rear face themselves, if they didn’t have to drive! And these threads almost always devolve into segues about how long to keep kids in booster seats, harnesses, and what not. I’m surprised people haven’t started making their toddlers wear helmets, elbow pads, and knee pads in the car. Below is another screenshot of comments on the YouTube video…

A little dissension creeps into the discussion… and it starts looking like there are a bunch of physics experts weighing in…

Again… I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with being concerned about car safety, especially when children are involved. After all, if Princess Diana had worn a seatbelt on her last car ride, she’d probably still be with us. I just don’t understand why some people feel so compelled to share their personal philosophies about it to the point at which it looks like they want a cookie or something. Do people really need validation about their personal choices that badly? I mean, rear face your eight year old if you can, and you want to do that. Keep that kid in a five point harness. Slap a helmet on them, if it makes you happy. Far be it for me to judge you on your car safety choices. But why tell the whole world about it? And why judge other people for not doing what you’re doing? Especially if they’re following the law?

Remember, though, I write this as someone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s, when kids were allowed to bounce all over the car… and although my parents were always devoted to safety and wore their seatbelts religiously, I was usually only forced to wear them when my dad was in control freak mode. That’s probably why I’ve always hated wearing them. I associated them with my parents– really, more my dad– being mean and controlling, and punishing me for being myself. It wasn’t about them caring about my safety, or the chance that I might become a flying object. It was about my dad being large, and in charge. Seatbelts, in those days were also uncomfortable, especially for short people like me.

It amazes me that I survived my childhood, when so many people smoked, and kids rode bikes without helmets and played outside for hours, their parents not knowing where they were, and not worrying until darkness fell. I’ve mentioned many times before that I grew up in rural Virginia, and it was not uncommon to see some of the kids in my neighborhood riding on the hood of their mother’s car to their trailer home at the end of our dirt road. It was hardcore redneck living, I tell you! I remember being embarrassed when I was forced to wear a seatbelt in the car, circa 1980 or so. It was not the “cool” thing to do in those days. It wasn’t until the late 90s, after I spent two years in Armenia, where NOBODY wore seatbelts, that I finally started to wear them 95% of the time.

Nowadays, just about everybody wears seatbelts. You’re not cool if you don’t wear one. And even people in the back seat wear them, which was definitely not the case even twenty years ago. The pendulum has shifted to the point at which people go batshit nuts when they see anyone not wearing a seatbelt. And if a child isn’t strapped in perfectly… well, prepare for the hammer of judgment to come crashing down. While I’m sure most people mean well, others seem to get off on edifying and judging their neighbors. It must give them a surge of sanctimonious supply to get to instruct someone on the errors of their ways…

Dreadful… and no seatbelts to be seen. I was about twelve when this aired. Blair tells Tootie to put a seatbelt on Natalie at 7:17, only because Natalie is embarrassing her. At 9:09, Natalie smiles as she talks about how she “bit down” on the seatbelt when they were stopped by a cop.

Yesterday, I was watching a truly wretched episode of The Facts of Life that aired during the sixth season. It was called “Cruisin'”, and it involved Blair, Natalie, Tootie, and Jo driving around Peekskill, New York in Blair’s daddy’s Caddy. Blair and Jo are in the front seat, and they’re all listening to God awful remakes of popular songs of decades past, acting like mom and pop to Natalie and Tootie. Neither of them are wearing seatbelts, and Tootie folds the front seat forward, causing Jo to chastise her. In fact, at one point, Blair tells Jo to hit the window locks and Tootie to “slap a seatbelt” on Natalie, when she gets too rambunctious. That was kind of the attitude back then. Then, at 9:09, Jo snarks on how Blair came up with a lame excuse for a cop, claiming Natalie was in labor. Natalie smiles and says, “Did you notice how I bit down on my seatbelt?”

Sometimes, in the 70s and 80s, seatbelts were used as disciplinary devices for the unruly children of the world. It’s a weird mindset, I know… When I see evidence of how we were in the 80s, I suddenly feel really old. It’s amazing how many years have passed, and how much some things have really changed. I’m going to be 50 very soon… and I’m starting to realize that I’m getting old. Like, for instance, I often wake up with pain in my back… and I have to squint to read fine print. It’s hard to believe the women on The Facts of Life are even older than I am!

Our mindsets have really changed in a lot of ways, though. In the 70s and 80s, kids were a lot freer to do things on their own. And yet, it seems like less was expected of us. I see so many kids today being prepared for their lives as adults as if they were already adults. There’s so much pressure, yet so much protection. In my day, we all worried about nukes, especially in the 80s. And now, the threat of nuclear war seems even closer than it ever was. It almost makes wearing a seatbelt seem silly. If Putin hits the red button, we’re all probably doomed, anyway. The constant emphasis on safety could be completely pointless soon… if something isn’t done about that madman.

Here’s another thing that reminds me of how old I am… Bill retired from the Army 8 years ago. His service began during the Cold War, and he was trained to deal with Soviet style combat. He has a degree in International Relations from American University, which he earned before the Soviet Union fell apart. For the second half of his career in the Army, that training became almost obsolete, as the focus was more on the Middle East. Now, the Russians are a huge concern again, and Bill’s old training is becoming relevant again. It may even end up making him more employable. Isn’t that weird?

Well, anyway, I don’t think anyone should feel badly about rear facing their children in the car, if that works for them and makes them feel better… especially if the kid doesn’t mind it, isn’t uncomfortable, and doesn’t puke. I’m surprised more car manufacturers haven’t made cars with passenger seats that rear face by design. But I don’t understand why so many people feel like they have to announce this to the world. I mean, look at this…

I often tease Bill, because he’s very safety conscious. He’s also very health conscious. However, he doesn’t get on my case about never going to the doctor. It’s likely that I won’t die in a car accident… I’ll probably die of an undiagnosed chronic disease. I do know, though, that that’s ultimately my responsibility… I just think it’s funny that he’s so safety conscious. And I think it’s funny that so many people are so fixated on things like car seat safety, when there are risks everywhere that a lot of us ignore or downplay. I think seatbelts and car seats, much like face masks, are things that are easy to see, and easy to judge others on, particularly if they aren’t being used properly. It’s easy to judge someone for not using a seatbelt or car seat, or not wearing a mask. That’s why people do it with wild, reckless abandon!

However, chances are, we are all letting a lot of other things slide that will probably kill us someday. And chances are, someone is silently judging you for that, too… even if you’re still rear facing and harnessing your adolescent in the name of car safety. Yes, that includes every sanctimonious twit who wants to brag about their superior parenting skills and health and safety measures. But I guess there’s no harm in a little validation seeking online. Hell, we all do it. Now pass me another slice of pizza and a beer. Gotta get that cholesterol up so I can take that big trip to the great beyond… safely strapped in, of course.

*** But… this all being said, allow me to go on record that I think it’s crazy that Nathan and Nurie didn’t have their baby in a car seat. I hope they learned a lesson and will do better in the future. I’m not going to send them hate mail, though.

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