book reviews

A review of Yes You Can! Have a Second Life After 60

This review also appears on my travel blog.

Yesterday, I mentioned that I had downloaded the book my former Peace Corps colleague, Loretta Land, published in 2019. I spent a good portion of today reading it, finally finishing it a little while ago. Loretta’s book, Yes You Can! Have a Second Life After 60, appears to have been self-published in 2019. Loretta died in January of this year, so she evidently just made it under the wire to fulfill her goal of writing a book. I remember back in 1995, when we first met as trainees for Peace Corps Armenia, Loretta told me she was going to write a book about her experience. Little did I know that after our service ended, Loretta would go on to work in Armenia, the Republic of Georgia, Uzbekistan, Ghana, and China.

Loretta’s overseas adventures began in Armenia, when she decided she wanted to be a Peace Corps Small Business Volunteer (SEAD). Originally, she’d planned to go to Fiji when she was 63 years old. This was because she figured she could do her two years, then come home eligible for Social Security. But she writes that God had other plans for her, and she, along with 31 others of us, got the chance to come to Armenia instead, two years sooner than she’d planned. As she mentions frequently in her book, God’s plans don’t always line up with ours.

Loretta Land was the eldest member of our Peace Corps group, A3. We were the third group to come to Armenia and probably the first group that didn’t run into a significant number of problems. Loretta explains that A1, the first group, had arrived in Armenia in the dead of winter and things were not quite up to speed. A lot of people in that group either quit or found jobs. A2 was a smaller group that arrived just as the first group was finishing up. Likewise, that group endured a lot of hardships. Quite a few people quit or found jobs. Our group arrived when things were still pretty tough in Armenia, even in the capital city, Yerevan, but logistics had worked out enough that things were pretty livable. We did have a few people quit and/or get medically separated, and one woman decided to marry her host brother rather than serve (she never swore in). But, by and large, our group was pretty resilient and most of us did our two years.

I didn’t get to know Loretta as well as I would have liked. We both lived in Yerevan, but she lived on the other side of town. I always had great respect for her, as she was always so kind, productive, and caring. I admired how she had decided to come to Armenia and be of service to the people there. And boy, was she of great service to the people. I was very impressed with all she managed to do while she was a Volunteer, as well as afterwards. She came back to Armenia to work on a couple of occasions, and I guess found that she preferred living abroad in developing countries rather than working in the States. She did have a three month stint working in Americorps (formerly called VISTA), but ended up resigning from that and coming back to the former Soviet Union.

Loretta’s book was fun for me to read, mainly because I knew a lot of the people in Armenia she mentioned, as well as some of the situations she writes about. However, the fact that I was in Armenia with her also presented some problems. I’m kind of a stickler about editing, and as much as I enjoyed Loretta’s book, I also think it really needed a few rounds with an editor. Because I knew a lot of the people she mentions in Armenia, I know that a number of names were misspelled, and I don’t think she did that on purpose. Any of us who were in Armenia at the time she was would know the people she mentioned.

She also got some facts incorrect. For instance, on more than one occasion, she mentions that the Soviet Union consisted of thirteen republics; it actually consisted of fifteen. I knew this, but double checked just in case. She mentions that the wife of the U.S. ambassador who served Armenia when we were there was Korean. Actually, she was Vietnamese. I double checked that fact, too. And she mentions that abortion is illegal in Armenia. This is incorrect. I actually knew several women who’d had multiple abortions, as it was the main source of birth control. I actually went to a meeting to discuss the abortion situation in Armenia. A couple of A1s who were working in Armenia had done some work on the abortion issue and we had a discussion about how rampant it was. And I also double checked that fact, too.

Large portions of Yes You Can! consist of letters and emails Loretta lovingly wrote to her children. I enjoyed reading the letters and emails, although sometimes she addressed people within them without explaining who they were. I’m sure her family members and friends know who they are, but this is a book that was being sold on Amazon and presumably read by strangers. So the lack of explanation could be a problem for those reading who didn’t actually know Loretta. She repeats herself a few times, which adds to the length of the book, which according to Kindle, is about 670 pages. An editor could have helped her pare down some redundancies and make the book shorter and easier to digest. There are lots of footnotes, too, which I sometimes found distracting and/or unnecessary. The title of the book implies that it might be a “how to” book, when it’s really a collection of stories about Loretta’s experiences overseas.

I know it sounds like I’m being very critical, and I am. But my criticisms don’t mean I didn’t like Yes You Can! I’m actually really glad I read Loretta Land’s book. She managed to accomplish so much, and she made so many lifelong friends. One thing that puzzled me, though, and I wish she were still around to explain, is why more than once, she writes “I never learned how to love.” She mentions that she went to high school at a boarding academy because she had no home to go to, although she also mentions that she was the youngest child of six. She doesn’t really explain her upbringing, nor does she explain why she says she “never learned how to love”, when it’s very obvious to me that she was a person who both loved, and was loved very much by other people.

Above all, I am just really impressed by Loretta’s bravery and her fortitude. I was in my 20s when we lived in Armenia, and I thought it was tough living there. I think Loretta’s living conditions were harsher than mine were. I didn’t have electricity much during the first year, but I did always have running water. Loretta apparently didn’t have much of either. She faced some truly frightening situations, too. At one point, early in our Peace Corps stint, Loretta was actually threatened by the Armenian Mafia. She writes of two other situations in other countries in which she was afraid for her life. I did have a couple of scary incidents myself, but none involving the Mafia!

I mentioned in yesterday’s post how grateful I am that I had the chance to be a Peace Corps Volunteer. One reason I am grateful is because I got to meet people like Loretta, who was very inspiring. I really looked up to her, and now that I’ve read about how she spent the last years of her life– serving and teaching other people– I admire her even more. She really lead a fascinating life. She mentions that one of her sons predeceased her. I’m sure the rest of her children are amazing people. I already read about her son, Andy, who is a hospice nurse and climbs mountains. A few years ago, Andy was climbing Mount Everest when there was an earthquake an an avalanche. Andy managed to survive, but not before Loretta was interviewed by the news. I later caught up with Loretta on Facebook, amazed that she looked and sounded just like I remembered her years ago.

So, despite my criticisms, I am glad I spent the money and took the time to read my former colleague’s book. It was a treat to read, but mainly because I knew her. She was a wonderful woman. I’m glad she managed to accomplish this goal she had before her time on Earth came to an end.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

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complaints, expressions, healthcare

That “Karen” stigma can actually be dangerous…

Good mornin’ y’all… it’s another day here in COVID-19 paradise. As much as I would like to escape the reality of the virus, it’s pretty much impossible if you read the news. And as you know, I read the news a lot.

I did play Sims 4 yesterday. It was the first time in months. I laugh at myself now, because when I lived in Germany the first time, from 07-09, I used to waste hours playing Sims 2. It kind of makes me sick to think about it, especially since those were the heady days before the COVID-19 plague hit us. I should have been out enjoying Europe instead of living in a fantasy world. In those days, I also wasn’t on social media and was spared a lot of drama… I also didn’t blog back then. Hmm… maybe it’s time I delved back into Sims life.

Anyway, on with today’s topic. I was going to write about how COVID-19 is starting to remind me of a bizarre BDSM themed novel. I was inspired by that thought when I read about how people in China are now getting their anuses forcibly swabbed to test for COVID-19. I first learned about this new phenomenon when one of Bill’s very right wing friends mentioned it. He heard about it on the radio, but now the news is making the rounds. Apparently, the virus lives longer in the anus than the respiratory tract, so anal swabbing for the common good is becoming a thing. Isn’t that just typical? COVID-19 is a pain in the ass… literally!

But think about it… we have lockdowns, extended isolation, forced face masks, which some people think look like gags, wristbands that monitor one’s movements to make sure they quarantine, and the overall stern attitude and tendency to lecture others that many people have adopted. It is a little kinky, particularly if you’re also in a car, wearing a seatbelt. And now, we have anal swabbing too? Not to mention all the latex gloves… and if you’ve spent any time around kinky people, you know that latex is a very popular thing in certain circles. I sure hope no one invents a COVID-19 PPE suit made of latex. When you’re as fluffy as I am, latex is not your friend. I’ll bet some people have gotten spankings over not properly masking, too. In fact, I bet someone’s written a dirty story or made a porn video about it.

I could go on about the BDSMification of COVID-19. In fact, I could probably have a lot of fun with that topic. But I’m not going to go any further with that right now, which I’m sure will disappoint the many secretly kinky readers among us (seriously, I get tons of hits on my posts about kinky stuff- especially the naked spas– even got one from Baghdad today). Instead, I want to trot out one of my tired old topics… that much maligned insult, “Karen”.

I have repeatedly written about how much I despise the trend of hijacking people’s names and turning them into pejoratives. I have even been bold enough to state it out loud a few times. I often get a bunch of shit from other people, who think it’s their right to use perfectly good first names that were popular years ago to insult others. As I wrote yesterday, a lot of people refuse to think beyond the box, so they won’t consider why calling someone a “Karen” could be a really bad thing. They will simply insist that the “Karen” pejorative is here to stay and it’s their right to use it instead of coming up with something more original and clever on their own. And the end result is that now, lots of people live in fear of being labeled a “Karen”, which in the era of COVID-19 can be a deadly mistake.

Consider today’s article from Dr. James Hamblin, a medical doctor who is also a staff writer for The Atlantic. Besides being a physician, Hamblin is also a public health lecturer for Yale University’s School of Public Health. I ran across his advice column this morning as I was drinking my coffee. It was about a letter he got from a woman from Georgia with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. She writes that the lady who runs the drive in pharmacy where she picks up her medications refuses to wear a mask properly. She wants to say something to the technician, but doesn’t want to be labeled a “Karen”. She asks how she should confront this situation.

Dr. Hamblin’s response is a bit long-winded… and, in fact, annoyed me quite a bit. He writes about how masks are supposed to be a show of empathy and unity, as well as acting as a medical device. Personally, I’ve about had it with people who want to preach about empathy and unity when it comes to wearing face masks. Given what happened at our Capitol a couple of weeks ago, I think promoting mask wearing as a way of showing people how “nice” you are is kind of misguided and pathetic. I’m sure a lot of the maskless people who stormed the Capitol are perfectly nice folks when they aren’t breaking the law for Donald Trump. I really mean that. There’s no telling what gets someone so upset that they decide to storm the Capitol. Some of the protestors were clearly bad actors, but a lot of them were probably normal folks who were simply misguided and misinformed. Many Trump fans truly are basically good people. Conversely, there are lots of liberals who are legitimate jerks. Believe me; I’ve met them. I disagree with the idea that whether or not a person is wearing a mask is a direct measure of their quality as a person, and I refuse to get on that particular bandwagon.

I think people should simply wear masks to slow the spread of the disease. I prefer to leave the preachy platitudes and moral judgments about them out of it. A person can be a perfect asshole and yet wear a face mask without complaint. Or, a person can be sweet, generous, and loving, and not want to wear a mask for whatever reason. I don’t see it as having much to do with the type of person someone is… it’s just something we’re doing for now, and I can definitely do without the lectures on morality or assumptions about a person’s character. As long as the person complies with the rules, what difference does it make? And if they don’t comply, I’m more likely to just get the hell away from them, if I can.

I took a look at the Facebook comments on this post, and ran across several responses from people who do NOT want to be called “Karens” and, in fact, are so afraid of being labeled as such that they don’t say or do anything when someone is breaking the rules. I’m going to be honest and say that there are times when I don’t mind speaking up when something isn’t right. There are other times when I don’t bother. Scratch that. There are MANY times when I don’t bother. Confronting people is often exhausting and futile at best, and in the United States, it can actually be very dangerous. You never know who’s unhinged and packing heat or looking for a fight.

One woman wrote that last summer, she’d politely asked someone at the grocery store to pull up her mask so she could get around her. She claimed that at the time, she had been taking care of her father, who was then very ill and, in fact, recently passed away of Parkinson’s Disease. But, the commenter wrote that instead of politely pulling up her mask and letting the commenter get around her, the maskless woman then went ballistic and complained about her to the store manager. She claims that the maskless woman “told a bunch of lies”. The manager then called the police, who confronted the commenter as she was trying to drive away. Now, the commenter laments, her name is permanently logged on a police record, all because she’d decided to speak up at the grocery store. And, to add insult to injury, the police officer who approached her also wasn’t masked. It would seem to me that this story is one that might discourage someone from being confrontational about masks.

Lots of people were telling this lady to “lawyer up”. I thought that was funny, since people don’t seem to realize that lawyers cost lots of money, and unless there is money to be made, suing someone is a lot of stress and expense for, perhaps, not the greatest payoff. I will admit that it was satisfying for us to sue our ex landlady. She blatantly ripped us off and needed a knot jerked in her, because I suspect she’s done it to other people. But Germany’s legal system is more reasonably priced than America’s is, and you can get legal insurance here to defray the cost (although it’s still expensive). Also, I have my doubts that the commenter’s account may not have been entirely truthful. Let’s face it. When someone relates a story, it’s often embellished to put the storyteller in the best light. The situation she described made it sound like she was the only rational one involved. Maybe it happened exactly the way she reports it, but I have my doubts.

There were a lot of other responses from people who wrote that confronting people over mask wearing is not really “Karen” behavior. And I would tend to agree with that. However, enough people obviously think of being confrontational in any situation as being entitled and annoying– in short, being a “Karen”. The definition of a “Karen” is a middle-aged, usually white woman who is overly demanding and complains a lot. And given how polarized people are over face masks, and the fact that many Americans, as a whole, don’t like to be confrontational or considered high maintenance, the threat of being labeled a “Karen” could deter them from doing the “right” thing. What you consider the “right” thing to do, in this situation, depends on who you are.

It’s true that hanging around someone who isn’t masked could potentially be very dangerous, so it’s not unreasonable to speak up. On the other hand, I can also understand why many people would prefer not to. No one wants to end up on the news or YouTube for a situation like that. And even if some people don’t think speaking up about improperly worn face masks is stepping into “Karen” territory, not everyone will agree that it isn’t. Some people would prefer to avoid the temporary drama, potentially at their own peril.

I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back that in this situation, I think I would simply find a new pharmacy, or barring that, I would get my meds through the mail. Since I have Tricare insurance, getting regularly dispensed meds by mail is probably the way I’d get them regardless. It’s cheaper, and the military/government prefers to do it that way. I might, or might not, send a letter or email to the pharmacy explaining why I moved my business elsewhere. The reason I wouldn’t automatically do it is because the pandemic has been going on now for about a year and if people haven’t gotten the message about masks yet, a complaint from me probably won’t make that much of a difference. The original letter writer for The Atlantic’s article mentioned that she lived in a small town in Georgia. It does occur to me that maybe there aren’t other pharmacies. Or maybe no one in that town cares about masks. Either way, if the pharmacy tech hasn’t yet been confronted by her boss, there’s a good chance that complaining probably won’t change her behavior.

I have never used a drive in pharmacy myself. Are they like drive in tellers? If so, is the technician even in direct contact with anyone? Wouldn’t you be staying in your vehicle anyway? Is it like getting food from a fast food place? Or is it more like making a deposit at a bank? If it’s like getting food, I could see why not wearing a mask is problematic. If it’s like going to the bank, it would seem like it’s less so, since banks have drawers and/or canisters that they put the stuff into.

I agree, wearing a mask is the right thing to do in a healthcare setting, to include pharmacies, where you would be coming into contact with sick people. But it seems to me that a technician alone in a room dispensing medications maskless might be less risky than working the desk in a store, where people are coming up to pay and pick up their prescriptions perhaps without benefit of a window. I don’t know. I mean, yes, the germs can aerosol into the air and land on things, but that’s probably happening anyway.

However, I also know that many people feel better when they see others properly wearing a face mask. And conversely, many people hate the fucking things and are creeped out by them. I would imagine that in Georgia, more people are creeped out by them than not. I base that on having lived in somewhat rural Georgia for a relatively short spell. Nice people, but they don’t want to be told what to do. I can’t blame them for that, even though I’m smart enough to know that the fucking plague isn’t going to go away if we just ignore it. Personally, my solution is just to avoid people as much as possible, but I know not everyone can do that.

Anyway… this post has gone on long enough. I’m rambling like Dr. Hamblin. I’ll close by saying that I’m happy to be weathering this particular storm in Germany, where people are more sensible and there are fewer guns. And no one calls anyone “Karen” unless it’s their name… Fun fact, in Armenia, almost all Karens are men. Know why? Because in Armenia, Karen (pronounced Car-en) is a masculine name. Now you’ve learned something new and useful! Have a great day, and try to avoid being anal swabbed!

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politicians, politics, stupid people, Trump

Strange times…

We are definitely living in them. Yesterday was a relatively normal day for me. I’m six hours ahead of my American friends and family, knowing that by the evening, things were going to get weird. But until the evening, we enjoyed a regular day of clouds and drizzle. I did some writing, practiced guitar, washed my sheets, and put together a new bookshelf to hold some of the fancy foodie books I’ve gotten for Bill over the years. An added bonus is that I also have a place to put board games and jigsaw puzzles I’ve done. I thought I’d put the shelf in the living room, but there’s no good place for it down there.

Usually, by now, I would have taken down the Christmas trees. I haven’t done it yet, because the trees make the living room look cozier and I like the lights. I find them comforting. I’ll take the trees down this weekend, when Bill can help me with that chore. Then I’ll do a thorough vacuuming… I’ve made such mundane plans.

And yet, what we saw in the news last night was anything but mundane. Like so many other Americans I was absolutely horrified, but not at all surprised, to see people rioting in Washington, D.C. over Trump’s assertion that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him. It was appalling to see crazed, lawless people breaking the windows in the Capitol building as our lawmakers were evacuated. No, I’m not particularly shocked that this happened. Trump said it would, and it probably made him proud to see all of the chaos reigning as Congress was trying to settle the election.

We knew that many members of Congress intended to object to the electoral votes cast in favor of Joe Biden in certain states. I am sure that the fact that both run off elections in Georgia, one of the formerly red states that turned blue, ended in victories for the Democrat candidates. It’s clear that a lot of people who ordinarily don’t vote came out to make their voices heard, and the majority voted against the Republicans. Republicans, who had been enjoying their powers under Trump, have now been checked by the majority of the American people. A lot of them are pissed off, threatened, and just plain scared that things are going to swing way to the left. So their response is to fight back in a lawless way. One of my conservative friends actually posted this on her Facebook page. All I’ve got to say to it is… wow. Talk about someone who is out of touch with reality.

I feel like half of Americans have Stockholm Syndrome. How can they not see that their dear leader is the biggest abuser of all?

There is nothing cool or honorable about what happened in Washington, D.C. yesterday. So far, four people have died over this stupid shit. A lot of people were injured and arrested. And how many will get sick with COVID-19 remains to be seen. What’s even worse is that the world is watching this crap unfold. This is the kind of thing that happens in banana republics. It’s senseless and ridiculous and completely embarrassing. Trump is cheering it on and encouraging people to be violent and disorderly.

The highest leaders in Washington are talking about invoking the 25th Amendment. It’s an unprecedented move, but it may be the one thing the saves the country.

I really think it’s long been time to invoke the 25th Amendment. It’s sad that it’s only NOW that people in the government and talking about removing Trump from office. Trump was never suited to lead the country, and what we’re witnessing right now is the reason WHY he was never suited. And this behavior is also why I have repeatedly compared Trump to Hitler. It’s not because he’s rounded up six million people and assassinated them, but because his seditious rhetoric inspires the unhinged to react with violence and commit mayhem. It is appalling and terrifying to watch this from afar. I can only imagine how scary it is to actually live near D.C. and see this happening up close and personal. It makes me glad Bill is retired from the National Guard and we no longer live at Fort Belvoir.

Author Michael Wolff said in 2019, Donald Trump’s presidency would end in tears… Donald Trump’s tears. He says Trump is “more isolated, more alone…” and this is the story of one of the greatest political meltdowns in history. How astute he was in June 2019!

Anderson Cooper says speaking to Trump is like speaking to a child.

And yet people are still cheering him on and championing him, to the point of storming the Capitol building and interfering with Congress’s attempts to finalize the election.

Trump has no impulse control. He has no shame. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself, and clearly he is not an adult who knows how to negotiate. He’s just a bully and a tyrant and he needs to be escorted out of the White House… sooner than January 20, 2021. And every single one of the miscreants who breached the Capitol building needs to be arrested and punished. Law and order is for everyone, not just BLM. But… like I said, this isn’t a surprise for me. Donald Trump, like all malignant narcissists, has never hidden who and what he is. If you’ve spent any time with a narcissist, you know what’s coming. Some are worse than others. Trump is clearly among the worst.

I truly hope more people have seen the truth… and we’ll all learn from this craziness.

And now, Joe Biden is formally on track to be our 46th president. Thank GOD.

I am so ready for the Trump chapter to close forever.

I’m also delighted that Mitch McConnell’s unholy reign of terror as Senate Majority Leader is finally over. However, I will commend him and Mike Pence for FINALLY going off on Trump and defying him as he melts down. Too bad it’s taken so long for the two of them to grow spines. This never should have happened. Trump never should have been allowed to run for president.

And finally, a little old school humor that hits home as I watch this crap unfold…

Tell me about it.
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narcissists, politicians, politics, true crime, videos

Gabriel Sterling is outraged. So am I.

My friend Andrew shared the below video this morning. Well, it was probably night where he is, but it was morning when I saw it. I must say, I’m very impressed with the speaker, Gabriel Sterling, an elections official in Georgia who is outraged. Why? Because he and his staff are getting threats over the election results!

People who are just trying to do their jobs are being threatened, all because some people are angry that Trump has lost the election.

I really think this video is worth watching, not just because Mr. Sterling speaks so eloquently about how wrong it is that elections officials are being harassed and threatened, but also because the guy doing the sign language translation is amazing. He expertly conveys the outrage coming from Sterling’s words through his facial expressions and gestures. In fact, the interpreter in this video is one reason why I hope face masks don’t become permanent. He would not be able to do this work so effectively while wearing a mask.

But anyway, back to the original subject at hand. Donald Trump has lost the election. With every passing day, it’s more and more clear that the people chose Joe Biden. I know Joe Biden isn’t perfect, and plenty of people have pointed out why he’s “unsuitable” to be president. Frankly, I think Biden is leagues better than Trump is, if only because he’s not nearly as delusional or narcissistic as Trump so obviously is. I’m clearly not the only one who feels this way. Biden won, fair and square. It’s time for Trump to do the right thing and concede, but I doubt he ever will. To Trump, concession is admitting fault and showing weakness. The reality is, a strong person would admit that he lost, condemn violence and threats against the election workers, and do whatever he could to make things seamless for his successor, for the good of the country.

I watched the video before I saw any of the news articles about this impassioned speech. I hear the pain and frustration in Gabriel Sterling’s voice as he frets about people possibly getting hurt or killed over the election. I sense the total dismay and shock Sterling conveys as he implores Trump to at least say something to the unAmerican whack jobs who are promoting violence against people who are simply doing their duties. The very fact that these folks are being targeted for doing what they’ve been employed to do is one major reason why Donald Trump has to go. He’s done nothing but encouraged division and uncivilized behavior among the American people.

I know it’s not one-sided. Emily Murphy, who is the administrator of the General Services Administration, basically the person who controls the funds that would allow Mr. Biden to set up his affairs as he prepares to take over the White House, has said that people have been threatening and harassing her, too. She refused to grant Joe Biden the funds to start the transition to power in spite of mounting pressure to do her job and growing evidence that Trump’s complaints about corruption and a “stolen election” are false. Murphy finally did her duty, but sent Biden a letter complaining about being threatened. She wrote that even her pets have been threatened with violence.

I don’t remember any other election fraught with as much chaos and polarization as this one has been. It’s absolutely batshit crazy. And I don’t know how or where people have gotten the idea that it’s appropriate to threaten people with violence for any reason, but particularly over something like a presidential election. The president doesn’t have all of the power… and thank GOD for that.

What good does it do to try to intimidate people? Who taught these people that promoting violence and issuing threats are the ways to make the United States a better place to live? Do the people who have resorted to threats and intimidation really think that is what will make American “great” again (not that it ever really was, our whitewashed history lessons notwithstanding)? Is that what they would like to happen to them someday if someone disagrees with them?

I do think it’s funny, though, to see how some Republicans are finally turning on Trump. It’s like watching rats jump off a sinking ship. Yesterday, I watched a video of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey letting a call from Trump go to voicemail as he was certifying his state’s election results in favor of Joe Biden. Ducey had once bragged that he had a special ring tone for Trump and Pence. Whenever his cell phone rang with “Hail To The Chief”, he knew it was a call from Trump or Pence and he needed to be sure to answer promptly. On the video I saw yesterday, one can see Mr. Ducey signing paperwork as his phone rings with that ring tone. He doesn’t answer. Instead, he glances at the phone and ignores it. Maybe that’s what we should all start doing… although Trump has gotten so big for his britches that doing so could be disastrous. If there’s one thing narcissists can’t stand, it’s being ignored.

Yup… they are all the same, when it comes down to it. There’s no real loyalty in politics. Looks like Doug Ducey has moved on.

Well… it’ll be interesting to watch what happens as the inauguration approaches. Hopefully, not too many people will get hurt or killed by violent, unhinged, and frankly obsessed people. It’s bad enough that people are dying of a dangerous virus. Do we really need crazy Trump supporters running around with weapons, threatening innocent people who are just doing their jobs?

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healthcare, politicians, politics

If this story is true, we’re getting even closer to Nazi territory.

This morning, I read a very disturbing article about Irwin County Detention Center, a privately run ICE facility in the U.S. state of Georgia. The center, run by LaSalle Corrections and located in Ocilla, is about 200 miles of Atlanta. It’s in the news because of whistleblower Dawn Wooten, a licensed practical nurse who worked in the detention facility and observed some horrifying conditions.

Wooten alleges that staff members at the ICE facility are not taking proper precautions against preventing the spread of COVID-19. She claims that cases are being underreported; detainees are not getting proper medical care, nor are they being tested; and, most shocking to me, women are having unwarranted hysterectomies without proper consent. Wooten claims that some women have seen a gynecologist for somewhat minor conditions like heavy menstrual periods, and the physician has been “treating” them by removing their uteri or ovaries.

In a letter she sent to the Inspector General Office at the Department of Homeland Security, Wooten claims that she was asked to triage a man with COVID-19, even though she did not even have a face mask for protection. She also says that warden David Paulk told a staff member not to let anyone know that the man with COVID-19 had tested positive because he “didn’t want people to panic” (where have we heard THAT before)? Wooten reports that nurses were claiming to have seen patients who complained of COVID-19 symptoms when they hadn’t, and that she had actually seen nurses shredding a box of detainee complaints without even looking at them. Two $14,000 rapid testing COVID-19 machines were purchased by ICE for the facility, but Wooten says she only saw them used once. No one was trained to use them.

When Wooten complained to the powers that be at the facility, she lost her full-time position and was demoted to an “on call” job, for which she was only offered a few hours of work per week. Wooten, who suffers from sickle cell anemia and is at an elevated risk for COVID-19 was deliberately exposed to patients who had the virus. Management at Irwin neglected to tell her that detainees she had contact with were symptomatic and, in three cases, had tested positive for COVID-19.

Wooten’s claims were corroborated by other medical staff at Irwin who did not want to be identified because they fear reprisals. It was also verified by people who are currently or had recently been detained at the center. As of Sunday, 42 people at the facility had tested positive for COVID-19, but no precautions were being taken to try to stop the spread of the disease.

Because the first article I saw about this was from Yahoo!, I started checking to see if more reputable sources were sharing this story. Sure enough, I found articles in the Washington Post and the Guardian, as well as the Atlanta Journal Constitution. The emphasis in the other papers seemed to be less focused on the mass hysterectomies.

It’s horrible enough that people are locked up in a prison with no way to protect themselves against a deadly virus that spreads through the air. But what got me to read about what’s happening at the center was a news article from Yahoo! that a friend shared. The headline for that piece was about the forced hysterectomies, rather than COVID-19. That, to me, just screams human rights violation– akin to the horrors of the Holocaust and awful eugenics policies that were carried out in another, somewhat recent, era in the United States. Have we learned NOTHING from our past?

The “doctor” who allegedly did these hysterectomies, along with removing the wrong ovary from one of his patients, rendering her sterile, has not yet been named. I would be interested in hearing his explanation as to why he’s doing these operations, especially since the women are apparently not being informed of the purpose of doing them or the risks. While it would be easy for me to conclude that he’s doing these procedures to prevent the women from having “anchor babies” (and he probably is), I would love to hear that there’s a reasonable explanation. The doctor who is performing the hysterectomies is being referred to as a “uterus collector”. To me, this practice conjures up an image not unlike veterinarians who desex animals and release them to the streets so they are rendered unable to breed. Maybe that makes sense when the subject is feral cats. It does not make sense when human beings are involved. Again… it reminds me of the dreadful eugenics programs that ran in my home state of Virginia as recently as the 1970s.

I doubt I will ever hear a reasonable explanation for the gynecologist’s practice of doing the mass hysterectomies. I’ll bet he’d say he’s somehow doing those women a “favor”– or, at least he’s doing the United States a favor by not allowing them to have babies that would be U.S. citizens. It seems to me that ever since Donald Trump took office, people who hate others based on their skin color or country of origin are incredibly emboldened to carry out barbaric acts motivated by their ignorance and hatred. These racists don’t see immigrants or migrants as fellow human beings. Instead, it’s more like they see them as akin to vermin who need to be exterminated, or at least no longer able to “breed”, a positively disgusting and horrifying mindset.

My heart goes out to the women who have permanently been rendered sterile because they had the grave misfortune of landing in the detention center in Georgia. Even if they are locked up for justifiable cause– not just because they were born in the wrong place and rounded up by ICE– there is no excuse for the cruelty that has been alleged by Dawn Wooten. I am also very sorry for everyone else who is incarcerated in that facility, completely helpless to protect themselves against what could be for many of them, a deadly virus and a potential death sentence. They must be terrified.

I think a lot of us are terrified right now. Yesterday, Forbes.com ran a story about Donald Trump saying that he will “negotiate a third term, because he’s entitled to it.” Clearly, Trump has not read the Constitution, but many of his supporters harp about that sacred paper whenever they justify voting for him. Their fervor seems to be mostly about their right to bear arms, which is, indeed, the Second Amendment. The rest of the Constitution apparently matters much less to them, as well as the humane and freedom loving image that Americans have always tried to disseminate, at least for as long as I’ve been living.

Four years ago, I might have laughed off Trump’s comments about a potential third term, which I hope will be rendered moot when he’s soundly defeated in November. But now that I’ve seen how much he admires dictators like Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un, I find it terrifying that Trump is in office NOW, and that people are still championing him. Many of the people championing him are folks that I love and respect, but I feel very certain that they are going to be on the wrong side of history. They don’t seem to understand that Trump is not just a political joke. He’s done some real damage that will take many years to undo… and that’s if COVID-19 or the many natural disasters we’re facing don’t wipe out civilization. I worry that when the inevitable end of his tenancy in the White House comes, there will be actual bloodshed.

Anyway… I remember the days when I truly believed that the United States was the “best” country in the world. I don’t believe that anymore. In fact, I find myself feeling more and more empathy for refugees who feel forced to flee their homelands. I know my situation is not nearly as dire as theirs is, at least right now, but I do feel like I have an inkling. I really don’t think that fearing another four years of Trump is an overreaction. To me, it looks like he’s destroying the country and maybe even parts of the world. I can only hope that one of those Big Macs he’s always shoveling in his big maw causes him to have a massive stroke… preferably on live TV. But aside from that, I fear that there are worse people than Trump waiting in the wings, ready to pick up where he will inevitably leave off… whether by defeat, death, being being forcibly dragged out of the White House by a coup.

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