Military, modern problems, true crime, Virginia

Mass shootings in the United States have become almost banal…

The featured photo was on Facebook last night. There was a time when I would have found it funny, but I have to admit that I was actually a little triggered seeing it… Given all of the gun violence these days, it’s hard for me to laugh at jokes involving weapons, even if the actual joke is about men peeing and missing the toilet. But at the same time, I no longer feel “shock” when I read or hear another story about someone dying due to another person’s hatred, rage, and inability to control their violent impulses.

Yesterday morning, I was reading about the terrible mass shooting incident at Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There were many people at the club, there to have a good time watching a drag show. Suddenly, 22 year old Anderson Lee Aldrich burst into the venue and started shooting, eventually killing five people and wounding at least 19 others. He was tackled by Richard Fierro, a man who spent fifteen years as an Army officer and went on four combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Mr. Fierro left the service in 2013, just a few years before he would have been eligible for retirement. I don’t know the circumstances of why he left the military. My guess is that the repeated war zone deployments had a lot to do with it.

On Saturday, November 19th, 45 year old Mr. Fierro had gone to Club Q with his wife, daughter, and his daughter’s boyfriend, who would sadly perish in the chaos that erupted that night. The family was having a good time watching Fierro’s daughter’s friends perform in a drag show, when Aldrich ruined everyone’s evening with his AR-15. Without a single thought, Fierro leapt out of his seat and charged toward the hulking young man, said to weigh at least 300 pounds and wearing body armor. The combat veteran tackled the gunman, throwing him to the ground as the AR-15 clattered out of his reach. Aldrich pulled out a pistol, which Fierro immediately relieved him of and began beating the shit out of Aldrich with the gun until he was bloody. Another man grabbed the AR-15, while a drag queen stomped on the man with her high heels.

As the wife and the daughter of men who went to war, I have seen what time in a literal war zone can do to a person’s psyche. Fierro went into action because of his training, and because he spent a long time in combat, training himself to go on autopilot when violence erupts. He didn’t think. He simply reacted to the indoctrination that he had to kill or be killed. This is an instinct that never really leaves a person. I saw it in my father, who went to Vietnam and came home with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My husband, Bill, also spent time in Iraq during the war. Fortunately, he wasn’t involved in any war zone violence; he just had to work with a malignant narcissist, which was certainly triggering enough. But there were still some lingering effects from his time downrange. War changes people.

In this case, it was a lucky thing that Mr. Fierro had been to war and had the reflexes and will to take action. He is a genuine hero. However, I know that this incident will traumatize him. He’s not at home enjoying his hero status. I know that all he wanted to do was go out with his family, and have a good time. He never should have had to use those sharply honed war zone skills again. He did enough for his country, having earned two Bronze Stars. And now, he’s going to have to live with the trauma of what happened at the Q Club, where people had just wanted to dance and have a good time. I fear that he’s never going to feel safe again… not that he necessarily did before this tragic incident occurred. I pray that he’s able to access adequate mental health services. I’m sure he’s going to need them.

Bill and I talked about Mr. Fierro over breakfast yesterday, not knowing that today, November 23, 2022, we’d be hearing about another incident. This time, it happened at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia. I happen to know Chesapeake, because I grew up about an hour away from there. I have friends who live there now. This morning, my friend Mary Beth posted on Facebook about a shooting in her town… and then I saw the news.

Not to be outdone by Anderson Lee Aldrich, a man believed to be the store manager at a Walmart in Chesapeake, opened fire in the store and killed six people and injured more before killing himself. The man who did this has not yet been named, as, at this writing, the crime happened only a few hours ago. It does appear that, at this point, the man acted alone. Naturally, there are a lot of “thoughts and prayers”, which do fuck all to stop the violence. I guess it sounds nice to offer up prayers… but what good are prayers when someone suddenly loses their parent, child, or friend to gun violence?

Leo Kosinski, a spokesman with the Chesapeake Police Department, said “I mean it’s sad, you know we’re a couple days before the Thanksgiving holiday.” As if it wouldn’t be just as sad in the middle of September or March? Okay, I guess a mass shooting does cast a sad pall on the holiday, especially for those who lost loved ones in these horrific attacks. Still, I find that statement kind of shocking in its banality. I think a lot of us are just numb to the violence. I haven’t set foot in the United States in 8 years. I haven’t seen most of my family in the time I’ve been away. You’d think I’d miss being “home”, but home is becoming less recognizable by the year, as more people go off the rails and kill perfect strangers with high powered weapons.

Meanwhile, there’s a whole contingent of people who are hellbent on forcing women to gestate, no matter what. And there’s no shortage of internet based idiots who want to argue– even with board certified OB-GYNs like Mama Doctor Jones– about what constitutes abortion. I ran into one of those idiots last night. She was relentlessly arguing with people about this subject… shaming Mama Doctor Jones for correctly referring to treatment for an ectopic pregnancy as an abortion. That is PRECISELY what it is, by the way. Abortion is not a dirty word. But these folks refuse to understand that, and they want to pass barbaric laws that will KILL women. Or force them to birth babies they aren’t ready to raise… which will lead to a childhood potentially full of poverty and abuse, as well as escalating violence from gun toting right wing nuts. Below is what one idiot posted to Mama Doctor Jones’ Facebook post about treating ectopic pregnancies. She was taking on all comers, berating them for pointing out her lunacy.

Abortion is directly related to the uterus. Literally. Once you started with that lie that treatment for ectopic pregnancy is abortion in order to minimize actual induced abortions, I stopped watching. Do better.

Reading these kinds of moronic comments enrages me… but still, even as angry as I get at people who want to deny freedom of choice to women and spread LIES, I don’t wish for them to be blown away by the gunfire from an AR-15. How is it that the people who claim to value the lives of the unborn so much, are so unwilling to do a fucking thing about the gun toting wackjobs? And they want to send people like my father, my husband, and Richard Fierro into war zones, so that they come back traumatized to the point at which they willingly hurl themselves into violence?

I haven’t even addressed the recent gun violence at the University of Virginia, where three football players were murdered by a former football player who opened fire in a garage. Yeah, I saw the headlines and the photographs of three smiling young Black men, wearing their orange and blue striped neckties. But again… I feel so numb. Because there have been SO MANY shootings. A person in the United States can’t even go to the damned grocery store nowadays without having to worry about being shot! And yet, some folks want to bring more innocent souls into the world, with no plan for supporting them, nurturing them, and protecting them from crazed lunatics with guns, invading churches, movie theaters, nightclubs, schools, and grocery stores.

When did our society become so incredibly hateful and violent? More importantly, WHY are people like this? It’s just so sad. People just seem to hate each other so much now. I kind of wonder if it’s because of social media, to be honest. It’s like we can’t stand to be so exposed to people who are different than we are… and that somehow translates to feeling like murder is the answer.

Anyway… I think I’ll take care of some chores so that we can enjoy Thanksgiving, such as it is celebrated among Americans in Germany.

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language, rants, royals

Death is an inevitable part of life; it’s not automatically “tragic”…

Yesterday, I happened to see a video about Queen Elizabeth’s death. It was made by a popular content creator that routinely makes videos and shares social media worthy articles. I couldn’t help but notice that, more than once, the person (or AI) narrating the video described Queen Elizabeth’s recent death as “tragic”. Then I realized that other people, even media personalities who ought to know better, were referring to a 96 year old wealthy white woman’s death as “tragic”, even though she died in the company of her loved ones and attended to by very highly qualified physicians.

So I took to Facebook to air my grievances. This is what I wrote:

I have seen a lot of people referring to QEII’s death as “tragic”. I think people need to look up the word “tragic” and realize that nothing about the queen’s death was tragic. “Tragic” would have been dying alone and in pain, forgotten in a hospital room after spending months on life support. “Tragic” would have been dying in a freak accident in her 20s, or being gunned down by a maniac in the middle of the Platinum Jubilee.

The queen died in her favorite place, surrounded by loved ones, with excellent medical supervision, at the grand age of 96. She lived a fabulous life, enjoying robust health for most of it. Queen Elizabeth had a death many would envy. Her death isn’t tragic. Death happens to all of us. She has left a wonderful legacy that won’t be forgotten, and she is no longer in any pain. That is not a tragedy. We should all be so lucky to end life in such a way.

But she will be missed by many. Perhaps that is tragic for those who will mourn her the most.

Yesterday morning, I read a story in The New York Times about a man’s death that struck me as truly tragic. Marc Lewitinn, aged 76, spent the last 850 days of his life on a ventilator before he finally succumbed. Mr. Lewitinn had survived lung cancer and a stroke that had left him unable to speak when the COVID-19 crisis began in March 2020. Because of his delicate health and age, his family urged him to stay socially distanced. Later that month, when cabin fever got the best of him, Mr. Lewitinn decided to venture out to a crowded Starbucks near his home. Soon after that fateful visit to Starbucks, Mr. Lewitinn was lethargic and had a blood oxygen level of 85 percent. He had contracted COVID.

Because of his falling blood oxygen levels, doctors decided to intubate Mr. Lewitinn and induce a coma. His family was told that in spite of the measures being taken to help him, Mr. Lewitinn would likely die within a few days, due to his fragile health and age. Instead of saying goodbye, his family urged Mr. Lewitinn to fight for his life. And he did. He remained in a coma for six months and was moved to a hospital closer to his home. He survived COVID-19. But the disease and being on the ventilator had weakened his lungs so much that Mr. Lewitinn was never able to be weaned from the machine. He spent 850 days on it until he finally suffered a fatal heart attack on July 23, 2022.

I’m not sure how Mr. Lewitinn’s family members feel about their father’s last two years. Maybe they were grateful that he hung on for as long as he did. I’m sure his case did some good for those who no doubt learned from it. However, in my personal opinion, and realizing that I wasn’t there to see the actual conditions he was living under, his last two years don’t sound like they were quality years. I noticed the comments on the obituary pretty much indicated the same thing. This man’s death, to me, sounds much more tragic than Queen Elizabeth’s was.

Maybe a better example of a tragic death would be any of the ones caused by gun violence. I think of the children who died in terror at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. They were in school to learn, and probably felt safe there. But then they were murdered by yet another unhinged man with a gun, while living in a state where guns are practically worshiped. Survivors of that horrifying incident are now starting a new school year. I’ll bet there isn’t a single child attending school there who still feels safe and comfortable.

Or perhaps another good example of a tragic death is that of Eliza Fletcher’s. The pretty 34 year old kindergarten teacher and mom went jogging in the wee hours of September 2, 2022. During her run, she was abducted and murdered by a man who had a criminal history of kidnapping and had only recently gotten out of prison. Fletcher had two beautiful young children, who will now have to grow up without their mother. That, to me, is tragic.

Today is September 11th. Twenty-one years ago, the United States was attacked by terrorists, resulting in the loss of thousands of innocent lives. That was a real tragedy. It’s laughable to me that some people are calling the Queen’s death tragic, when I consider how 9/11 victims died in 2001.

Everybody dies. Most people have at least one person in their lives who will miss them when that inevitable event happens. But there are worse things than death.

I think of my father, who had always been a healthy man, getting afflicted with Lewy Body Dementia. For six years, he slowly became less like himself, unable to tend to his own needs, and losing his ability to think, communicate, and move at will. He died at age 81, after having emergency gallbladder surgery. He had survived the surgery, but was unable to recover from the anesthesia. It was kind of a shock when he died, since the gallbladder attack had been sudden. But I remember feeling relieved because, even though his death meant saying goodbye to him forever, it also meant he no longer had to suffer as his body failed him. And although I wasn’t there when he passed, my sister was, and she said he had a look of utter amazement and peace on his face as he died.

Many people expressed condolences to me when my dad died, assuming that his death would devastate me. I didn’t feel devastated, though. My father lived a long, productive life, and he spent his last days with my mother, who took very good care of him in their luxury apartment. He had many friends and loved ones who were there to pay respects to him. He didn’t suffer a terrible death, alone, destitute, or in severe pain. People loved him, and were there for him as he exited the mortal coil. That isn’t tragic. Neither was Queen Elizabeth’s death.

Maybe in the strictest definition of the word, any death is “tragic”, simply because death is fatal. But by that account, if everyone dies, everyone experiences tragedy. That seems like a very pessimistic way of looking at life. Life is full of winners and losers. It’s not necessarily fair, but that’s the way it is. Queen Elizabeth was certainly one of life’s winners. She is already missed by countless people, as she was a beloved figure to millions of people around the globe. She had a very good death, not a tragic one. And now, her spirit is hopefully reunited with Prince Philip’s. I like to think it is.

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Biden, money, politicians, politics, YouTube

I’m intrigued by the timing of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan…

Yesterday, I wrote about how President Joe Biden has announced a plan to forgive a portion of student loans for many American borrowers. Plenty of people are expressing their opinions about this idea. I’ve seen lots of people laud Mr. Biden for helping regular people who are struggling with student loan debt. And I’ve seen many people who are presumably angry that some people are getting “free money” when they’ve been “irresponsible.”

For the record, I don’t have a problem with Biden’s plan to forgive some educational debt. I won’t be benefiting personally from Biden’s “largesse”, but as I explained yesterday, the timing of my own school loans were fortuitous. I lucked into a low interest rate, which was very helpful for me. It was hard enough to get ahead of the loans even with that low rate. I see that now, a lot of people are paying significantly more in interest than I did. One friend shared the graphic below, which came from a longer, viral Facebook post:

Yes, I know signing for loans is a big deal, but how many 18 year olds– people we don’t even allow to legally drink a beer– understand what this will mean in the long run? Especially when they have been told since childhood how essential college is for a successful life in the United States.
The rest of the post… I think it makes a lot of sense… and cents.

As I mentioned before, I got my loans paid off after years of concentrated effort and gradually rolling larger payments into what I was regularly paying every month. After five years of paying the minimum, which barely covered the interest, I voluntarily started paying more and more. There was no penalty to prepay, and we could afford it, starting back in 2007, when Bill was in Iraq and temporarily got paid more. It wasn’t like I was spending money on anything exciting during that time, so I just rolled the extra money into paying off debts. I paid off Bill’s shitty high interest credit cards, too, and he was soon able to get a much better card. But if I’d had a higher interest rate, it would have been much harder to pay off the debts. I’d probably still be paying.

In any case, I am not upset that other people are getting help with their student loans that I won’t be getting. I’m just grateful that I don’t need the help, and that against all odds, I managed to pay off those loans. It makes no sense for me to be upset about this, either, because it’s a done deal, and there’s nothing I can do about it. There are plenty of other reasons to be angry right now.

For instance, I’m very upset about the fact that as of yesterday, abortion in Texas is virtually illegal. As of yesterday, a trigger law went into effect, making abortion a felony for those who provide the service. Yes, there are exceptions for when the mother’s life is at risk, but because of the political climate in Texas right now– and, oh, maybe the fact that it’s the number one death penalty state– physicians are reportedly committing malpractice and not giving pregnant women who actually need an abortion for medical reasons the care they need. Why? Because they don’t want to go to prison and be fined $100,000.

It occurred to me last night that the timing of Mr. Biden’s student loan assistance package is rather fortuitous, as the midterm elections approach. Lots of Republicans are positively GLEEFUL about overturning Roe v Wade. However, there is also evidence that a lot of people– Republicans included– are upset, worried, or even downright pissed that a political party is taking away a fundamental right from all women of childbearing age, not to mention their right to healthcare PRIVACY. If we learn anything from the results in Kansas, when voters were asked to vote on abortion rights, it’s that this is an issue that affects a whole lot of people. Some of the people who voted for abortion rights were, no doubt, Republicans.

I have also read reports of Republican politicians abandoning their party, because they simply can’t abide the cruel, intrusive, and downright stupid policies that today’s Republicans are pushing. Yes, there are still a lot of people who are vocal about supporting Trump and his ilk, but some conservatives are seeing the light. Some also don’t want to be associated with the likes of shady characters like Matt Gaetz, Ron De Santis, and, dare I say it? Trump himself.

I think that Biden’s decision to offer student loan help may sway some Republicans to vote blue in November. Not only would they be voting for women’s rights, healthcare privacy, and the right to have an abortion, but they would also be voting for much needed financial help with their loans instead of another corporate bailout. You can’t tell me, either, that Republicans who qualify for the $10,000 forgiveness of their student loans won’t take the help. Of course they’ll take it. Some will happily take that benefit as they loudly complain about it. I don’t remember hearing too many people from the Republican Party complaining about the temporary financial assistance Trump offered during COVID-19’s worst months.

Now, I could be completely wrong about this. Maybe the timing of Biden’s student loan announcement is completely unrelated to the cluster fuck being perpetrated by Republicans right now. However, I have a feeling I could be on to something. I also think the main reason Republicans are so upset about this development is because, ultimately, it will help a lot of the people they’d like to keep down… women, minorities, people who don’t identify as mainstream. This help will be useful to people who could use a financial leg up in order to improve their lots in life. For many people, the $10,000 will be a “drop in the bucket”, but some people’s loans will be completely paid off because of this help. And some will have their burdens greatly reduced. That simple fact will make Biden look pretty good to some of them.

On the other hand, the reverse could also be true. Some Democrats might not like Biden’s decision, either because it doesn’t go far enough, or because they agree that doing this “rewards irresponsible people”. However, my guess is that most Democrats who don’t like this plan will still vote blue, because they will still consider Democratic candidates better than the alternatives. I can’t imagine someone who supports progressive, humane, public policies voting for a Republican candidate over something like this. But then, much stranger things have happened, right?

I haven’t even mentioned some of the totally ridiculous and backwards school policies being enacted right now. I will never know why so many conservatives are so much more concerned about what’s in a teacher’s classroom library than they are about kids being killed at school by gun violence. I mean, they’ll do all they can to “save” a fetus from being aborted, even if the pregnant person isn’t ready or wanting to be a parent, but they don’t do anything about those same “babies” being blown apart in a classroom by some unhinged nut with a gun. And what if they happen to be reading a book about a kid with two dads when that happens? Personally, I just think that kids should be encouraged to read. I think teachers should be better supported for their efforts, because it’s not an easy job to educate kids, nor is it necessarily well paid or respected work. Every day, teachers put their lives on the line to see that children are properly educated, but we have elected officials doing everything in their power to make their job harder. No wonder so many good teachers are leaving the field. It seems that many Republicans just want the citizenry to be dumber.

So… kudos to Joe Biden for offering this help, especially at this point in time– as Trump is fighting many legal battles and people are in a tizzy over everything. Experience has taught me that money talks. A lot of regular people are fed up with the way the country is heading, and they want to see some real help and change. I don’t think it’s an accident that this student loan measure, controversial as it is, is being presented now, as Republicans are doing all they can to take away women’s rights, dumb down kids in school, and force us back into the Dark Ages. Some Republicans will appreciate Mr. Biden’s efforts enough to vote blue in November. And some of those people will become permanently former Republican voters, like I am.

Before I go… I want to share these videos I watched by Mr. Atheist yesterday. They were pretty infuriating. I will probably end up writing about “pro-life” activist Kristan Hawkins soon, but I won’t do it today, because this post is long enough. I’ve got laundry to fold and dogs to walk. But I do want to share them with those who read this post and need a new reason to be disgusted. Maybe, if anyone is interested, I’ll offer my thoughts about these videos tomorrow.

Mr. Atheist is right. I legitimately cringed when I heard Kristan Hawkins speak.
Yep… yikes is right.

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law, mental health, politicians, politics, racism, Texas, true crime

Enough pro-life platitudes! Texas Has Its Priorities Completely Screwed Up!

Early this morning, I woke up to the horrible news about Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. It’s another school shooting, this time perpetrated by a lonely, bullied, obviously mentally ill young man named Salvador Rolando Ramos. Days after his 18th birthday, Mr. Ramos legally purchased the weapons he would use to shoot and critically wound his grandmother, and then go on a shooting rampage at the elementary school. Mr. Ramos, who wore body armor and carried a rifle during his deadly rampage, was fatally shot, apparently by police.

At this writing, at least nineteen children were murdered, along with two adults. Both adults who died were teachers; one was Irma Garcia, a teacher with 23 years of experience at Robb Elementary, while the other, Eva Mireles, had taught for 17 years, and had a daughter in college. Many other people have been physically injured, and will forevermore carry the emotional and physical scars from yesterday’s shooting spree. The rest of us– the decent ones, anyway, are injured by yet another senseless school shooting in a country that professes to be “the land of the free”. And this time, the shooting happened in a state that professes to be so “pro-life” that many of its citizens will do almost anything to force women to stay pregnant.

The “right to life” crew, many of whom are men, claim that a developing fetus’s right to be born is more important than anything. The claim that abortion is cruel and inhumane. But at least a developing embryo is completely unaware of its being aborted. Children sitting in classrooms– some of whom were probably conceived with help from modern scientific reproductive methods– were no doubt absolutely terrified when Ramos opened fire on them. For those kids, Texas Republicans offer “thoughts and prayers”, and ridiculous suggestions about arming teachers and “good guys with guns”.

I am technically a Texas resident, although I haven’t lived there since 2014. Every year, when I cast an absentee ballot with my votes, the ballot goes to Texas, which is where Bill and I happened to be living when he finished his service with the Army. I didn’t hate Texas when I left there. I thought it was too hot, and there were way too many religious wingnuts. I didn’t like the extremely right wing politics of people in Texas, nor did I enjoy all the gun toting wackos I saw in downtown San Antonio. But I kind of respected Texas’s free-spirited culture. I enjoyed most of the people I met there, the music, the food, and having temporary access to members of my family, and Bill’s mom and aunt. When we left in 2014, I thought maybe we could move back at some point. Now I know that I don’t want to live there again. In fact, I’m not sure I really want to live in the United States again.

In the almost eight years since we left Texas, I have come to really dislike a lot of things about it. I despise the politics of Governor Greg Abbott and his relentless attack on women, as he also champions gun lovers. I can’t wait to cast a vote against Mr. Abbott. I don’t really care too much about who runs against him, either, which is a pretty terrible place to be. I would like to care about and even like the politics of the people who run for public office. But lately, the people who are running are so incredibly lacking in sense that I find myself voting AGAINST people, instead of for them.

According to the Washington Post, Salvador Ramos was severely bullied by his peers for having a strong lisp and a stutter. He had friends when he was younger, but then started doing self-destructive things, like cutting up his face with a knife “for fun”. Still, his friends said he was a very nice kid– shy, but nice. He’d be bullied for being different, but he had a few friends who stuck by him. Things seemed to go really downhill for Ramos when he shared a picture of himself wearing black eyeliner. For that, he was bullied by his peers and called a derogatory term for a homosexual male. Then, one of the friends who would try to stand up for Ramos, left the area when his mother’s job was transferred. At that point, Ramos began to dress all in black, grow out his hair, and wear military style boots. He quit going to school. At night, he and a friend would drive around and shoot at people with BB guns. He’d also egg people’s cars. He told one new friend that he wanted to join the Marines so he could “kill people”. The new friend became an ex friend after that.

Ramos’s mother eventually tried to kick him out of their home, and Ramos posted about it on Instagram. The incident showed Ramos calling his mom a “bitch”, as police intervened to break up the fight.

Ramos had a wish list of automatic weapons he wanted. A few days ago, he posted a picture of himself with a couple of rifles. There were some people who tried to help him, in spite of his odd proclivity for guns, but Ramos’s home life was terrible. According to a neighbor, Ramos’s mother used drugs. He eventually moved in with his grandmother, who owned the house where Ramos lived with his mom. A few days ago, the neighbor saw the grandmother, who mentioned that she was in the process of evicting Ramos’s mother, because she was abusing drugs.

I read all of this stuff, and I wonder how much help Ramos got from people who could do something for him. Did he ever speak to counselors? Was he encouraged to address his mental health and educational issues? At this point, I don’t know. I don’t want to blame educators, because I know they’ve got enough to deal with every day. And while it would be easy to blame people who bullied Ramos at school, being bullied is not a reason for someone to go on a shooting spree. I wonder what life situations led to Salvador Ramos’ fatal decisions yesterday.

I think these kinds of stress related meltdowns will only get worse, as guns are promoted as a solution to ending violence and maintaining “freedom”, and desperate women are being compelled to be pregnant when they aren’t ready to have babies. How many troubled women will be forced to give birth, thanks to the idiotic bans on abortions? I believe that people like Salvador Ramos evolve because they have very fucked up home lives, and not enough is done to help them make things better. There are too many children being born into situations where there’s substance abuse, sexual abuse, violence, racism, and poverty.

I haven’t even touched on the horrific gun fueled rampage that happened at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York on May 14th. That incident, which occurred at the hands of Peyton S. Gendron, a disgruntled 18 year old racist White guy with a gun, resulted in the premature deaths of ten people and the wounding of three. Eleven of Gendron’s victims were Black. Gendron survived his rampage, and is now in protective custody and on suicide watch. If the police hadn’t stopped him when they had, Gendron says that he would have shot more people. He’d had plans to visit churches and an elementary school. As awful as Gendron’s attack was, at least his victims were all adults. But that doesn’t make it much better, does it?

I’m so tired of violent, thuggish, Republican bullies with guns and big mouths. I’m so angry at people who champion narcissistic cretins like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, and the usual gang of idiots in the Republican National Committee. No, I don’t think Democrats are perfect, by any stretch. I don’t like extreme left wing politics, snooty attitudes, and lack of common sense some Democrats have. But at least Democrats have something to offer besides thoughts, prayers, more guns, and restrictions on abortion. This news just makes me sick… and it makes me feel an odd mixture of relief that, for now, I live outside of my country, and guilt, that I’m so far away, watching from a distance as the United States I’ve always known turns into a weird dystopia.

It’s hard to believe that a lot of us were looking forward to today, as Josh Duggar finds out his fate. I was also looking forward to finding out more about Tariq Witherspoon, the man who ran over and killed my friend, Matt, last year. He supposed to go to court in New York today. Those were two cases of callous, lawless men facing their crimes. But I sit here and think of how many people have died in the last two years… from COVID-19, cancer, murder, manslaughter and recklessness, and suicide. And we want to bring more babies into this mess? When we don’t even have enough formula to feed them? We can’t offer citizens decent, affordable healthcare, housing, or an infrastructure that doesn’t collapse as the climate becomes less hospitable to humans! Why in the hell would we want more innocent babies born into this hellish reality on Earth?

In a matter of days, Bill’s third grandson will be born. He will join his four year old brother and two year old sister. I worry about those kids, who are going to be growing up in a country that continues to grow more troubled by the year. I know how much their parents love them, and have wanted them to come into the world. I only hope that by the time they’re ready for school, more has been done to repair the serious issues that are causing little kids like them to die when all they’re trying to do is go to school, attend church, shop for food, or just be children, exploring the world.

I’m so glad I never had children. This world is completely fucked. Below is an “oldie but goodie” Facebook post that was making the rounds six years ago, and is sadly still very relevant.

Yeah. I am for shutting down the gun stores.
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ethics, healthcare, law, poor judgment, tragedies, true crime

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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