condescending twatbags, law, Police, politicians, racism, safety, social media

“Let’s start properly shaming these people [for calling the police…]” Really?

Here’s one of my random “deep thoughts” pieces… I know they’re getting rarer lately. Special thanks to Wikipedia user, WanderingMogwai for use of the spotted lanternfly photo, which appears here unaltered.

A few days ago, I read articles in both the Washington Post and The New York Times about 9 year old Bobbi Wilson, a brilliant and community minded Black girl who lives in New Jersey. Last summer, Bobbi had heard about how lanternflies, an invasive species, were threatening the environment. The lanternflies, which came to the United States via China, ruin crops and damage trees.

Bobbi decided she wanted to help. So she mixed a solution of dish soap, apple cider vinegar, and water, then went out into her Caldwell, New Jersey neighborhood, resolved to spray as many of the insects as she could. The goal was to disarm them, so she could collect them in a jar, or with her mother and sister, stomp on them. Scientists and state authorities had launched a campaign, urging people to stomp on the bugs when they see them, and if possible, destroy their eggs.

Bobbi was hard at work when she was confronted by a police officer. Her next door neighbor, reportedly a White, Republican, former local councilman by the name of Gordon Lawshe, had called the non-emergency line at the local police department to report that a “real tiny Black woman” was in the neighborhood, spraying things. He said she was wearing a hood, adding, “I don’t know what the hell she’s doing,” he said. “Scares me though.”

The cop who spoke to Bobbi asked her what she was doing. She showed him her jug of solution and explained her project. The officer quickly realized that she wasn’t a threat. Bobbi’s mother, Monique Joseph, asked the police officer why he had come, and he told her that a neighbor had called about the child. Bobbi asked if she was in trouble, and the officer said, in a kind voice, “No, you’re not in trouble.”

When the officer told Lawshe was Bobbi was doing, Lawshe’s response was “What a weirdo, huh?” Lawshe later reportedly apologized to Bobbi and her mother, but now complains that he’s getting death threats.

Glad this was a relatively positive interaction with the cops…

Bobbi has recently been honored by Yale University for her work. The Yale School of Public Health also thanked Bobbi for donating her personal lanternfly collection to the university’s Peabody Museum. Dr. Ijeomi Opara, an assistant professor at Yale’s School of Public Health invited Bobbi and her family to visit Yale for a campus tour and to see Yale’s laboratories and meet other Black female scientists. Dr. Opara explained that Black children are often described as older than they are.

From The New York Times article:

Ijeoma Opara, an assistant professor of public health at Yale who also directs its Substance Abuse and Sexual Health Lab, said she found Bobbi’s story especially compelling. It closely aligned with her research interests — the impact of racism on Black girls and other children of color. It represented a phenomenon that she and other researchers have called the “adultification” of Black girls, who, they say, are more likely to be seen as more criminal and less innocent than white children.

“Often our society, we don’t view Black children as children,” Dr. Opara said. “We view them as much older than what they are. They end up getting less protected; they end up getting judged more. They end up not being forgiven for mistakes.

Dr. Opara asked her Twitter followers to help her find Bobbi in November after watching a video of her mother and older sister, Hayden, 13, speaking about Bobbi’s experience during a borough council meeting. She offered to give the family a campus tour so she could visit Yale’s labs and meet other Black female scientists — a small group on campus whose members now call themselves Bobbi’s “Yale Aunties.

In addition to the honor from Yale, Princeton, the American Museum of Natural History and a host of other universities and state and local officials have recognized Bobbi for her lanternfly solution. In July, both Wilson sisters will attend a summer research program at the New Jersey Institute of Technology on scholarships in science, technology, engineering and mathematics for young scientists.

Although this situation could have turned out tragically, Lawshe’s call to the authorities has turned into something potentially very positive and life changing, not just for Bobbi, but for other kids like her. I was very touched when I read this story. I literally had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. I honestly feel very happy and proud of Bobbi, and I know she’ll go far.

But then I read some of the comments from people… I know. I know… big mistake!

The first thing I noticed was the assumption that the person who called the police must have been a “Karen”. If you read this blog regularly, you might already know how much I hate that particular pejorative. People trot it out anytime someone does something they consider overly entitled, and generally speaking, it implies that the person who’s done it is a privileged, White, middle-aged woman.

I find the term “Karen” to be pretty offensive on many levels. I mainly dislike it, though, because there are many fabulous people named Karen– male and female (Karen is a masculine name in Armenia)– who don’t deserve to have their name hijacked and turned into a catch-all synonym for a clueless, racist, entitled asshole. As we all know, people who behave in that way are not necessarily always White women of a certain age. Moreover, because it’s kind of a “quaint” name that has fallen out of fashion, its use as an insult is also kind of ageist.

The second thing I noticed was the attitude that the person who called should be “properly shamed” and harassed for calling the police. Now… don’t get me wrong. It’s pretty obvious, in this case, that Gordon Lawshe had no business calling the cops on Bobbi. She certainly wasn’t a threat to him. She clearly isn’t a “tiny woman”, either. She is a child who was doing a great thing. Moreover, Lawshe’s comments about Bobbi are very offensive. By all rights, Lawshe should be very embarrassed about his actions, but he probably isn’t. He should also be formally reprimanded in some way. I might even support a large fine for him for wasting the police officer’s time and resources.

However… I do think people should be allowed to call the police if they legitimately think they need help. The police are supposed to protect and serve. I know it doesn’t always turn out that way, particularly in situations involving people of color. But when it comes down to it, it is the role of the police to investigate when people feel like they are in danger. There should not be any shame in asking for police assistance. And police officers should not behave in a way that make the public distrust them.

I do understand that regaining the public’s trust is a big problem facing the police today, especially since a lot of them have proven they aren’t worthy. I also understand that policing is a very difficult and dangerous job. We live in a world where even children can threaten people. I noticed many people in the comment section suggesting that Mr. Lawshe should have just come outside and spoken to Bobbi himself. Many people asked, “Who’s afraid of a nine year old?”

I’d like to remind those folks that only a month ago, a six year old child shot his first grade teacher in a classroom in Newport News, Virginia. The sad reality is, we really don’t know who’s packing heat these days. Granted, the vast majority of children don’t have access to weapons, but last month’s incident is a reminder as to why some folks would rather not be confrontational, even when a situation involves a child.

Police officers see violence every day. I don’t personally know a lot of police officers, but I would imagine that repeatedly being exposed to the criminal elements of society might make them less trusting and, perhaps, even hostile toward the public. Cops have a very dangerous job. It seems natural to me that being exposed to that kind of stress on a daily basis might change who a person fundamentally is… or perhaps have a negative psychological effect on them.

I think, instead of shaming citizens for calling the police, we should be doing more to make police work safer, so that fewer police officers feel compelled to react so violently. The goal should be to reduce the number of deaths and injuries suffered by people when they encounter the police, not to stop people from asking for help when they need it. And yes, there’s also a lot of work to be done to dispel racism, too. That is a huge part of the problem.

Finally, it is never justified to send death threats to people, no matter what they’ve done. Gordon Lawshe was absolutely wrong to summon the police over what Bobbi Wilson was doing. The fact that he was an elected public official is very dismaying. Personally, I think we must hold our leaders to a much higher standard than some of us do. Both major political parties have issues with this, but lately it seems like Republican elected officials, overall, behave with less humanity than Democrats do. We should choose better leaders, and not allow people like Lawshe to get in power. His conduct, along with that of people affiliated with Donald Trump, is one reason why I don’t plan to ever cast another vote for Republicans in my lifetime.

I do think that people who feel okay about calling random folks “Karens” when they disagree with them are the worst kinds of hypocrites. Because, as they are on their moral high ground, using a proper name as an insult and encouraging shaming, they are basically stereotyping others. In this specific situation, most of the people condemning the police call by using the term “Karen” are assuming that it was a certain type of White woman “of a certain age” who harassed this child. That turned out to be untrue. So, instead of addressing the behavior, they’re busy trying to come up with a similar pejorative name for a man (some use Ken or Kevin). Since when does name calling serve a real purpose, or do anything to solve a problem?

I am absolutely delighted that Bobbi Wilson’s police encounter turned out to be so positive. She is getting the recognition she richly deserves for wanting to be helpful and caring about her community. And it’s a great thing that she is being encouraged to study science and will be mentored by high achieving Black women who work at one of the world’s most prestigious universities. I hope Bobbi never loses her drive to learn new things and be genuinely helpful to others.

I also want to commend the police officer in this situation for being kind, courteous, and extremely professional… although that should be expected of ALL police officers at all times. The cop who spoke to Bobbi Wilson is clearly a credit to his profession. Based on the huge number of police related videos I’ve been watching on YouTube, I’ve come to learn that some cops aren’t much better than the people they arrest. Cops are human, of course, but we should be striving to make all of them worthy of the trust the public puts in them. Society depends on it.

So, to recap…

People should be allowed to call the police if and when they feel they need help. The police should be expected not to hurt or kill people as they carry out their duties, unless a situation is life threatening. There is no use in having a police force if people don’t feel comfortable calling them because they might go viral.

Recent history has shown that children are not inherently safe to approach, just because they are young and small. Yes, we all should be able to talk to a child who is doing something “strange”, but if someone doesn’t feel safe in doing so, they shouldn’t be shamed for asking for help. There are a lot of guns in the United States, and some children are, sadly, getting their hands on them.

The pejorative term “Karen” is ageist and sexist, and people who use it are usually being very hypocritical, especially when they are complaining about racism. Calling someone a “Karen” is negative stereotyping, which is pretty much the crux of what makes racism such a cancer on society. It’s also lazy, uncreative, rude, and disrespectful.

Sending death threats is NEVER okay. It’s acting as judge, jury, and potentially executioner. People who send death threats should face legal consequences.

People should never use the police to harass their neighbors. Those who do should face legal consequences.

True racists or other offensive “ists” are not going to be “properly shamed” by random people on the Internet. It’s not really up to the public to do that, anyway. They should be handled by the criminal justice system, not private citizen vigilantes.

I’m really happy for Bobbi Wilson and the extraordinary opportunities she’s getting because of this disgraceful incident with her neighbor. She absolutely deserves the recognition and the honors. But I also think that it should be a given that Bobbi, or anyone else, would be basically safe in any encounter with the police. That is a goal we, as society members, should strive to achieve.

Just my opinions, y’all.

Edited to add… forty years ago today, we lost this wonderful Karen… She’d probably be sad to know that her name is now used as an insult.

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healthcare, law, politicians, politics, Reality TV, sexism

“Activist judges” in South Carolina have defied the right wing alpha MALES, and I am so here for it!

Featured photo is in the public domain.

Yesterday was an interesting day. After I wrote my too long and too opinionated review of Jamie Lynn Spears’ book, Things I Should Have Said, I waited all day for the Amazon guy to show up with my latest toys. I bought an Amazon Echo Dot for my bedroom, as well as a couple of “smart” power strips that I can’t figure out how to configure. I was inspired to make that purchase because Bill bought me an Echo Dot for my office. I don’t really need one for either place, since I have so many other devices, to include my big desktop iMac computer that is outfitted with Siri. But they are nice to have… and it’s kind of fun when Alexa gives me a notification that turns its ring yellow. Makes me think of all the 70s era space travel shows I missed when I was a kid.

While I was waiting for my delivery, I noticed some exciting news coming out of South Carolina, the state where I spent three years earning my “overeducated housewife” status. The South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that the six week abortion law is unconstitutional. The law has been struck down, as the majority of the five justices determined “that the law that restricted abortions after detectable fetal cardiac activity [is] ‘an unreasonable restriction upon a woman’s right to privacy’.” Thanks to the 3-2 decision, abortion is now, once again, legal in South Carolina until 20 weeks gestation. This ruling comes almost two years after current South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law the Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act. That law made abortion illegal after six weeks of pregnancy, except in limited situations such as pregnancies that would endanger the pregnant person’s life or were caused by rape or incest.

I was heartened to read the comments by Justice Kaye G. Hearn, who wrote the opinion of the majority. She stated, “Few decisions in life are more private than the decision whether to terminate a pregnancy. Our privacy right must be implicated by restrictions on that decision.”

Naturally, some people were rattled by Justice Hearn’s statement. I noticed the ones who were quoted in the Washington Post article link I unlocked were all MEN. Governor McMaster tweeted, “Our State Supreme Court has found a right in our Constitution which was never intended by the people of South Carolina. With this opinion, the Court has clearly exceeded its authority. The people have spoken through their elected representatives multiple times on this issue.

McMaster added that he “look[s] forward to working with the General Assembly to correct this error.”

I find McMaster’s wording very intriguing. He wrote, “Our State Supreme Court has found a ‘right’ in our Constitution…” That’s right, Henry. It is a RIGHT. I lived in South Carolina and worked in maternal and child health and healthcare policy there. I know about South Carolina’s moronic and ineffective approach to preventing unintended pregnancies… Just tell the girls to abstain.

Well, it’s not their public health approach, really. I found the public health folks working at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to be quite intelligent and informed on the issue, including why it’s important that women have access to abortion healthcare. It’s the right wing MALE legislators who have their heads firmly lodged in their asses. These same folks have no desire whatsoever to do anything to help people who find themselves unintentionally pregnant. They don’t give a damn about making sure those babies are born healthy to people who are prepared to raise them. It’s all about fear and shame, and telling women to keep their mouths closed and their legs crossed. Ridiculous… and completely unrealistic.

I don’t see how McMaster’s comments square with what happened to our federal rights to have abortions. For fifty years, women all across America had that right, and it was unceremoniously taken away from us by Trump’s trio of pro-life “activist judges”. Now, McHenry is accusing his own state’s Supreme Court judges of “exceeding their authority”, simply because he doesn’t agree with their interpretation of South Carolina’s Constitutional law. They were doing their jobs, Henry. You should do yours, and work for the betterment of ALL South Carolinians, not just your hyper-male, conservative, Republican buddies. 😉

The other quote in the article comes from another Republican male, Jeff Duncan, who says he’s “extremely disappointed” with the decision made by “activist judges” in South Carolina. Sounds to me like these judges are compassionate, Jeff. Do you have the same level of compassion for women who, for whatever personal, private reason, do not wish to be pregnant? Do you value the right to privacy for all people? Why should a woman who finds herself unintentionally pregnant have to justify terminating her pregnancy to ANYONE? It’s her BODY, Jeff; not yours. You will never face this choice. You will never have to deal with the multitude of changes that happen when someone gets pregnant. So kindly develop some compassion for the already born, and do what you can to make life better for them. Maybe then, your constituents might not feel like they need to have an abortion for reasons you don’t deem “acceptable”.

It seems to me that people who don’t like abortion should simply not have one. They should not lobby to take that right away from other people. Developing embryos and fetuses don’t have a concept of abortion, nor do they experience pain until quite late in pregnancy, beyond when the vast majority of people would consider having an abortion. And those who do, almost universally do so because the alternative to having one would be much worse.

Even MAGA idiot Donald Trump has recently opined about the foolishness of being extreme about taking away women’s abortion rights. He was recently complaining about the Republicans’ poor showing during the midterms. He said on his very own Truth Social:

“It wasn’t my fault that the Republicans didn’t live up to expectations in the midterms.” Then he added, “It was the ‘abortion issue’, poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest, or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters.” Then he finished with, “Also, the people that pushed so hard, for decades, against abortion, got their wish from the U.S. Supreme Court, & just plain disappeared, not to be seen again.”

Those comments are now prompting anti-abortion groups to fire back, and indeed, a bunch of Trump’s former supporters are turning on him. I guess they’re finally seeing what some of us have noticed all along. But, in this case, Trump is actually right. A lot of people in the United States are legitimately angry about abortion rights being taken away. And many of the pissed off among us are women who would ordinarily vote Republican. Those women, many of whom are business people whose livelihoods could be adversely affected by unintended pregnancies, don’t want to be forced back into the kitchen. Quite a few of the rest of them are, like I am, disgusted by the idea that they would have to explain to anyone why they want or need to have an abortion. It’s, quite frankly, no one else’s business, no matter what the reason is. And basic privacy is, if not a right, an expectation, especially when it comes to healthcare. Abortion is healthcare for the already born women who need it, even if it’s not for the developing embryos or fetuses who have the potential to be born.

I, for one, am so ready for this issue to be settled, once and for all. This constant back and forth ping ponging about abortion is ridiculous, and it’s preventing actual work from being done to help the rank and file already born people who are actually struggling to survive. When a person is having trouble paying their bills, the last thing they want to be is unexpectedly pregnant, especially when they live in a state that is notoriously stingy about funding social welfare programs. And I am SO SICK of MEN inserting themselves in this issue, especially since a lot of them don’t even know the first thing about pregnancy or even female anatomy. They just want control over women. It’s plain and simple. Of course, some of the idiot Republican males who are claiming to be “disappointed” about this decision would not hesitate to provide access to and pay for abortions for their knocked up daughters or mistresses, would they?

Moving on…

It was totally random that I reviewed Jamie Lynn Spears’ book yesterday, and she is now participating in a new Fox reality show called Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test. I heard about the show yesterday, which also includes actress Beverley Mitchell, gymnast Nastia Liukin, Kate Gosselin (who has already washed out), and Dr. Drew Pinsky (also already eliminated). The first two episodes dropped on Wednesday, so I downloaded them yesterday and watched. I have to say, I found the show kind of boring and hokey. But… the cast mix is kind of interesting, given that it’s a mix of a lot of different kinds of people, to include reality TV stars, Olympic athletes, and actresses. I’ll probably watch the whole series and groan the whole time.

Yes… they’re REALLY going to let these “household names” die on TV. What bullshit. They must have really needed the money.

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politics, Trump

Cassidy Hutchinson is truly a hero, as far as I’m concerned…

I know I’ve already written a book review today, but I wanted to add a few comments about Cassidy Hutchinson, former junior White House aide to Mark Meadows in the Trump administration. Yesterday, I read and heard about how she was “encouraged” by “ethics attorney” Stefan Passantino to lie under oath to protect Donald Trump and his cronies. Or, rather, the attorney advised her “not to recall” things that she remembered from her time in the White House. When Hutchinson asked the lawyer if that wouldn’t be perjury, he told her no one would know what she did and didn’t remember. So she could say “I don’t recall”, even though that would have been a lie. And yes, technically it IS perjury.

Thank God Cassidy Hutchinson has integrity.

After I watched the above video yesterday, I posted on Facebook that I think Cassidy Hutchinson is a hero. I truly believe she is, even though she worked in the Trump administration. I’ve seen a number of people holding her work for Trump against her, and minimizing the fact that what she did took immense courage and maturity. She has proven that she’s very professional and has a high level of personal honor.

Consider this. Last summer, when she was all over the news, Cassidy Hutchinson was 26 years old and had never needed to hire a lawyer. When this stuff came up, she was out of work, because Trump lost the election. She didn’t have the money to pay for a lawyer. One lawyer she contacted said they could help, but requested a $150,000 retainer. I bet that lawyer is kicking themselves now.

Stefan Passantino, one of Trump’s crony lawyers, offered to help her, and said she didn’t need to worry about legal bills. He refused to tell her who was paying for his services. It is legal for lawyers to be paid by third parties, but clients are supposed to know who pays so that they can give “informed consent”. Someone working for Trump would expect Hutchinson to be on Trump’s side, rather than allowing her to tell the truth.

Shortly after Passantino started working with her, some of Trump’s buddies started contacting her about job opportunities. I remember what it was like to be 26 and hungry for work, although I was waiting tables at that time of my life. I’m sure it was tempting to keep her mouth shut and take the job security and legal assistance. Naturally, once it became clear that Hutchinson was cooperating with investigators, those lucrative job offers were pulled, just like the proverbial carrot on a stick.

Fortunately for all Americans, Hutchinson realized that accepting this help from Passantino was akin to making a deal with the devil. She went to her parents for help. Her mother couldn’t help. Her father, with whom she understandably doesn’t have a relationship, is a big Trump supporter and refused to assist her in hiring a lawyer. In spite of her fears about retribution from Trump and lack of financial resources, Hutchinson told the truth. And now, a lot of people are thinking of her as a hero. I doubt she’s going to have to worry about finding a job. She has her self-respect, and she may have done a lot to help save our democracy. We’ll see what actually happens to Trump. Still… what she did took some guts!

I know a lot of people think Hutchinson should be criticized for working for Trump in the first place. I am inclined to cut her a break, though. It sounds like she was raised by Republicans, like I was. She may have never had a chance to consider other political views. Her father is a Trumper, so much so that he would protect Trump over helping his own daughter. She describes herself as a first generation college student, which probably means her parents are working class. Democrats used to be considered the party for “working class” people, but now it seems that Republicans are mostly folks who aren’t big on education. Trump even famously said that he “loves the poorly educated”. Hutchinson also went to Christopher Newport University, in Newport News, Virginia, which is very close to where I grew up. It’s a very conservative, red, part of Virginia. She’s only twenty-six years old. Maybe she hasn’t been exposed to other ideologies yet, in spite of her degrees in political science and American studies. Or maybe she considers herself the old style of Republican, which is what I used to be.

I’m sure Trump and his minions thought Cassidy Hutchinson would be easy to manipulate, flatter, bribe, or threaten into compliance. There she was, a beautiful young woman with just a bachelor’s degree and some entry level experience. She had her sights set on a political career and was making it happen. Surely they could get her to cooperate in this little matter, right? She sure proved them wrong. Maybe it would make sense to do Trump’s bidding, but it would have meant being beholden to him forever. Lots of Trump’s pals were contacting her relentlessly before she was to testify, trying to sway her testimony. I’m glad she realized that trusting them would be foolhardy. Trump is a snake, and he has no honor. There’s no guarantee that Cassidy Hutchinson would be rewarded for her cooperation. People like Trump routinely use people until they’ve gotten all they can and then ditch them. So Hutchinson was absolutely right to do the right thing.

According to the Washington Post:

“It wasn’t just that I had Stefan sitting next to me; it was almost like I felt like I had Trump looking over my shoulder,” Hutchinson testified. “Because I knew in some fashion it would get back to him if I said anything he would find disloyal. And the prospect of that genuinely scared me. You know, I’d seen this world ruin people’s lives or try to ruin people’s careers.”

And…

Hutchinson testified: “Pam [Bondi- Former Attorney General of Florida] texted me that night and said something to the effect of: ‘Susie, Matt Schlapp, and I had dinner with POTUS at Mar-a-Lago tonight. Call Matt next week. He has a job for you that we all think you’d be great at — that you all — we all think you would be great in. You are the best. Keep up the good work. Love and miss you.’”

I’ll bet none of those people are calling her now… The article continues:

Ben Williamson, a former White House aide who was still working for Hutchinson’s former boss, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, reached out to Hutchinson the night before her second scheduled interview with the committee with a friendly reminder.

“He said something to the effect of: ‘Well, Mark wants me to let you know that he knows you’re loyal and he knows you’ll do the right thing tomorrow and that you’re going to protect him and the boss,’” Hutchinson testified. “‘He knows that we’re all on the same team and we’re all a family.’”

Williamson did not immediately offer a comment.

Hutchinson was still concerned about lying under oath. She spoke to Passantino about her misgivings, and he said:

“I would have heard if he was mad about anything discussed in yours, but it’s just a good reminder that the boss does read transcripts,” Hutchinson recalled Passantino telling her. “And we want to make sure that, like, whatever he’s reading isn’t going to put you in a bad situation.”

Yeah, right.

The WaPo article I linked indicates that there’s another brave woman who deserves some credit. Alyssa Farah Griffin, another former Trump aide who had managed to break free of the MAGA cult, spoke to Hutchinson, who confided that she was withholding information at Passantino’s request. Griffin served as a conduit to the January 6th committee, letting them know that Hutchinson had more information that she was willing to divulge.

Through Griffin, Hutchinson answered more questions from the committee. When Stefan Passantino found out about it, he demanded to know how the committee found out. She tried to maintain plausible deniability, but the jig was up. The lucrative job offers dried up, and she was out in the cold. Hutchinson told a staffer, “I’m about to be fucking nuked.” She soon started to realize the price she could be paying for betraying Trump. I’m sure she experienced great anxiety and sleepless nights, realizing that these heavy hitting Republicans could and would happily steamroll her in their bid for maintain power and money. She could have given in to that and been a slave to Trump’s MAGA cult. She chose integrity, instead.

According to The New York Times:

“They don’t know what you know, Cassidy,” she quoted [Passatino] as saying. “They don’t know that you can recall some of these things.”

After the interview, Ms. Hutchinson said, Mr. Passantino told her that he would help her get her “a really good job in Trump world.”

“We’re going to get you taken care of,” she quoted him as saying. “We want to keep you in the family.”

But obviously only if she lied for Donald Trump and his cronies… and only if she was willing to sell her soul to his MAGA cult. It’s not a nice way to live, is it? Yes, she should have avoided Trump in the first place, but because she was there and was willing to talk, we know a lot more than we might have. Cassidy Hutchinson is to be commended for her grace under pressure, her commitment to honesty and professionalism, and her extreme bravery and integrity. I’m sure she will be rewarded for this on many levels. The biggest and best reward of all, in my opinion, is maintaining her dignity and self-respect. She’s going to go down in history as a courageous young woman who didn’t bow to Donald Trump. She seems to be one of the few and proud. I think she has a bright future ahead of her, as long as she stays healthy and safe… because, frankly, I would not put it past Trump to try to get her offed somehow. He has proven, time and again, that he’s an insane, ruthless, vindictive bastard who will stoop to incredibly low levels to get revenge on his enemies. I sincerely hope she has some protection.

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bad TV, good tv, modern problems, nostalgia, politicians, politics, Russia, Trump, YouTube

TDY weeks are made for made for TV movies…

As I mentioned in today’s first post, my husband, Bill, is gone this week on a business trip in Bavaria. I don’t have any local buddies to hang out with, so that means I have a lot of empty time on my hands. When Bill was deployed to Iraq back in 2007, I spent a lot of time watching reality TV. At that time, we lived in the States on Fort Belvoir, and we had FiOS (fiber optic cable TV and Internet– which is just becoming a “thing” here in Germany). This was before Apple TV, so I couldn’t spend my time watching relics from my childhood, the way I do today. I’m glad for Apple TV and YouTube, because now I can watch stuff I missed back in the day.

Back in February 1987, I was fifteen years old, and very busy with school and taking care of my horse. I wasn’t at all interested in politics, religion, or current events. I was kind of “dumb” then, as we didn’t have all of the news and information sources we have now. In those days, the Soviet Union was still very much a thing. People worried about nuclear war to the extent that it was a topic on sitcoms, like The Golden Girls. There were a number of Soviet themed films that were released for the big screen. I remember the movie, Red Dawn, came out in 1984, when I was 12 years old. It was the very first PG-13 rated movie, mainly because it was, and still is, a very violent film about Soviets invading the United States. I remember being very “fired up” when I saw that movie the first time. I was young and impressionable, and thought the height of patriotism would be to join the military and fight for my country. Hell, when I was 12, I might have even made the military’s weight standards. 😉 Actually, I’m kidding. As a teenager, I thought I was fat, but I really wasn’t. Like I said… I was kind of dumb in those days… dumber than I am today. But today, I am fatter than I was in the 80s.

Since the Soviet Union was still so threatening, the American Broadcasting Company, otherwise known as ABC, made the mother of all miniseries. It was a seven night EVENT, which even in the era of network TV, was a big production for a miniseries. Most miniseries lasted two or three nights. I was interested in very few of them, because like I said, I was BUSY then… and not interested in politics, religion, or current events. But other people were interested, so ABC made this miniseries called Amerika. It was set in 1997, in a fictional midwestern town called Milford in Nebraska. It starred, Kris Kristofferson, Mariel Hemingway, Cindy Pickett (“Ferris Beuller’s mom”), Christine Lahti, Robert Ulrich, and a very young Lara Flynn Boyle, among other people who are now either dead, or more or less famous than they were in 1987.

The premise of Amerika was that the Soviet Union’s leaders had messed with our elections and that had led to a “bloodless” coup. The United States was no longer. Instead, it was broken up into smaller areas. The flag and national anthem were changed, and the idea of communism was introduced to our capitalistic society. The miniseries was about how the country changed. It wasn’t a pretty sight, and it was obviously based on the propaganda of the time. Remember, the Soviet Union ceased to exist in December 1991, so a lot of today’s adults weren’t around when it was still in existence. But some of us old farts remember it very well.

Well, I completely missed seeing Amerika when it originally aired. It only aired once, because it caused a lot of issues with leaders in the Soviet Union, who were outraged by it. It was also a really long television event that was probably expensive and disruptive to air. In the 80s, we had our “must see TV”, and these kinds of special shows would usurp our old favorites. And then, after just a few years, Amerika seemed over the top and ridiculous, as the Soviet Union literally fell apart, and formerly closed borders started opening. Hell, the movie was set in 1997, but I was actually finishing up my Peace Corps assignment in Armenia, a former Soviet country, in 1997. So, as you can see, it didn’t make a lot of sense to air the program again. It was later released on video, but it doesn’t look like a DVD set was ever released. However… someone did upload the entire series to YouTube. I watched the whole thing in several sittings, as the program is over fourteen hours in length. Even couch potatoes like me need to get up and move sometimes.

A trailer for Amerika.

I don’t want to get too much into the specific plot of this series, because frankly, it seems like an overwhelming task. As I mentioned up post, the series was set in a fictional town of Milford, which was named after the enterprising American family that helped build it. Some of them still lived in Milford, only to watch their town being overrun by Soviets and American politicians who figuratively “got in bed” with them in a bid to seize power. We watch as people with private businesses can no longer offer what they used to have. A woman who ran a cafe for over thirty years was forced to serve soy products instead of the comfort food she used to offer. Later, everyone is forced into a curfew and heavily armed Soviet soldiers bust the woman’s neon sign, which had been lit for decades. She cries as she’s forced into the back of a truck to be driven off to God knows where.

We see a talented young dancer (Boyle’s character, Jackie Bradford) being ignored when she auditions for a show because she’s too good and would ruin the uniformity of mediocrity of the others. By the way, while I can see where the writers were going with this point, years of watching Soviet athletes and listening to Soviet trained musicians tells me that the culture certainly embraced the talented. They were showcased! Just watch any 70s or 80s era Olympics or a Russian ballet! But the point is, communists didn’t give anyone an incentive to excel, since everyone was “treated equally”. Except they actually weren’t. There were certainly people in communist countries who had it better than others did, due to their stations in life.

We see dissidents being forced into “re-education” camps. Kristofferson’s character, a former politician and 1988 presidential candidate named Devin Milford, had been imprisoned in Texas for trying to fight against the regime and speaking out against corruption. At the beginning of the series, we see him being released and sent into exile in Milford, where he is to stay within 25 miles of his property or risk being jailed or shot. He watches as families lose their homes as Soviet squatters are not recognizing the former Americans’ rights to own land. Children in school are being propagandized with communist principles, which they spout off by rote.

Devin’s eldest son is sent to a psychiatric hospital to be “treated” for thought crimes. He and his fellow patients are shown propaganda while hooked up to electrodes, drugged, and kept in cells. His middle and youngest sons are kept from him. The middle child is bright enough to see through what is happening, but the youngest child becomes very indoctrinated, to the point at which he turns on his father, with a literal gun. Devin’s ex wife, Marion Andrews (Wendy Hughes), is becoming a government leader who wants her ex husband killed.

Fellow Milfordite, Peter Bradford (Robert Ulrich) becomes president, with his wife Amanda (Cindy Pickett) as his first lady. Amanda is very disturbed by all she sees, and tells Bradford that she can be his wife, but not his first lady. Sounds kind of like Melania Trump! Except Amanda is nowhere near as narcissistic and vacuous as Melania is. 😉

And then there’s Kimberly Ballard (Mariel Hemingway), who was very young and beautiful in 1987. She plays a musical theater actress whose work is affected because of censorship. She also gets involved with a Soviet military leader– well… she falls in love with him, and he falls in love with her. But their love can’t survive, because she’s an American through and through, and he’s a Soviet. And politics always take precedence over love.

Mariel Hemingway “sings” as Kimberly Ballard… or does she? This is disturbing.

Like I said, this is a very long series, and to be honest, it was a bit of a plod to get through it. It starts off rather slowly, but then gets more interesting. The musical score may be familiar to some people, too, as the composer of much of the music was Basil Poledouris, the same guy who did the music for the original Red Dawn. In some ways, this film reminded me a bit of Red Dawn, minus most of the violence… at least at first. As Americans start waking up to the reality of communism, a la a frog in slowly heated water, there’s more violent action. Some of it was kind of chilling to see, even by today’s bloodthirsty standards. There are a lot of “dead” people shown– eyes frozen open in shock and horror, as fake blood runs down their faces. In 1987, it was still uncommon for Americans to see mass shooting events.

In some ways, Amerika still seems far fetched and ridiculous. It’s now 2022, and 1997 was a long time ago– 25 years! But realizing that this movie was made in 1987, it’s kind of interesting to see what we had in 1997 that wasn’t yet conceived of in 1987. So, for 1997, Amerika seems pretty quaint and antiquated. However, I moved to Armenia in 1995, which was only about 3.5 years after the Soviet Union fell apart. Things were still very antiquated there in 1995, and things were still pretty much run like they were in the Soviet era. In fact, conditions were worse there at that time, because they were on their own. We had no electricity most of the time; some places had no running water; and almost no one had hot water from a tap. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia in 1995, I took bucket baths with water heated on my kerosene heaters or propane stove. I read books at night by kerosene lamp light. Anything I wanted to buy was behind a counter. And I lived in a series of ugly Soviet era cookie cutter apartments.

But, in other ways, Amerika is scarily prescient. The miniseries was probably conceived of by right wing political conservatives, as it has a very anti-communism message. BUT… as we all know, in 2016, the Russians fucked with our presidential elections. We had a “Republican” leader in Donald Trump, who doesn’t really resemble an old style Republican at all and, in fact, isn’t one. Trump is a fascist, dictator wannabe, and he’s spawned a bunch of power hungry acolytes who would love to follow in his footsteps, even though he’s clearly against freedom and outwardly said the Constitution needs to be “suspended” so he can be put back in power.

This bitch needs to be voted out… but Georgians are too wedded to being “Republicans”. She says that if she and Steve Bannon had been “in charge” of January 6th, they would have “won”. What a fucking loser she is. How DARE she?!

Yesterday, there was news about how, on January 17, 2021, South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman sent a text message to Trump White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, calling for Trump to institute “Marshall law”. He means “martial law”, of course. But he was actually calling for Trump to use military force to overturn the legal and fair 2020 presidential election, to prevent Joe Biden from taking his rightful place as the US President. Can you fucking believe it? These are Republicans! Aren’t they supposed to be about smaller government, the Constitution, and freedom for everyone (except women of childbearing age)?

How dare he? These MAGA motherfuckers need to be run out of power. Especially Marjorie Taylor Greene, who is among the worst of the lot.

I saw a lot of comments on the Amerika videos. Many people were trashing Biden, and saying that America is headed for the scary communist dystopian reality presented in Amerika. And yet, I lived in a former Soviet country, and I learned that the people living there weren’t bad people. They really weren’t that different than I was. They just came from a poorer country in need of assistance. In the 25 years since I left Armenia, I have been really heartened to see how far the country has come. It’s truly become a cool place to be, in terms of the incredible culture and the insane talents of its citizenry. Meanwhile, the United States is starting to look more like it could go the way of the old Soviet Union, as Trump and his minions try to take over and force us to accept his “leadership”. I’m actually not that afraid of Trump anymore, because he’s old and has been revealed for what he is. BUT… I am afraid of the younger, smarter, more polished, power hungry types in his wake who claim to be patriots and fans of the Constitution, but want to do away with fundamental American principles like separation of church and state, the right to privacy, and not having the military running the government so that the overall unpopular extremist, dictatorial types like Trump can stay in charge.

Peru and Germany DID something about their dictator wannabes. Let’s get with it, America, and put these dangerous people away, before they ruin the country.

This week, there was a coup stopped in Germany, which is where I live right now. The people involved in that are now in massive legal trouble. They have been arrested. In the United States, Donald Trump is still a free man, in spite of showing us who he is, and what he wants to do. For some reason, Republicans think their party is still what it was years ago, when it was about keeping government out of people’s private business and keeping taxes low. Do these folks really believe that Trump and his deplorable minions won’t be trying their best to take what’s yours? Trump just wants money and power. But there are people inspired by him who want more. They have shown us… and there are a lot of awful people in public office who care more about being re-elected than doing what is right for the citizens of the United States and running free and FAIR elections, without corruption.

One thing that I did learn, having lived in Armenia, is that abortion wasn’t really a big deal in the Soviet Union. I met many women who’d had them, mainly because birth control wasn’t freely available, and their men didn’t want to bother with condoms. And when you’re making the US equivalent of $10 a month, it’s hard to have enough money to raise children. But, it hasn’t escaped my attention that a lot of Republican business owners who don’t want to pay a living wage, nor do they want to offer birth control coverage on health insurance policies provided through work, are very much against allowing abortion. At least for now. 😉 Some of those folks might eventually realize that religion makes it harder for them to control the masses, as people have a power higher than the state. I think with time, religion and the so-called morals espoused because of “God” will become much less fashionable among Republicans, just as the Constitution apparently has.

Yeah… she’s all for church, until she realizes that people are giving money to churches that they could be giving to government officials, like her. What an un American idiot she is. And no, the church is NOT supposed to direct the US government.
It’s UNBELIEVABLE to me that people are so blind to WHO these MAGAts are!!!!

Anyway… just like I was in 1987, a lot of Americans are concerned about other things. And they aren’t paying attention, even though we have a lot more ways to pay attention now, than we ever had in the past. I hope some people wake up before we start seeing America turn into Amerika. I don’t even want to say that all Republicans are bad, per se. It’s just that the old school ones are being replaced like MAGAts… like cancer cells, they are taking over.

So, although Amerika was a “plod” to get through, I am glad I took the time to watch it. It made me think. If I had taken more time, I probably could have written a much better blog post about it. But if I manage to inspire someone to watch it and draw their own conclusions, maybe I will have done my good deed for the day. It was eye opening for me, but not in the way that other viewers saw it, apparently. This is the type of thing conservatives would tend to watch, because of that dirty word– communism– and Soviet Union style politics. They don’t see the similarities between Soviet Union style communism and Trump style fascism that I see, like the Trump style desire to suppress the media— something very much in the Soviet playbook. As someone who has experienced life over there, and has voted on either side of the spectrum, I see other, more frightening things. We, as a nation, need to collectively wake up and do something about these deranged, fascist, violent people before it’s too late.

WHEW… I meant for this to be about two movies. Guess I’ll be writing another post, which seems fair enough, since it’s snowing outside right now.

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politicians, politics

Thank heavens good sense has prevailed in Georgia…

This morning, I woke up with a headache and the news that Republican Herschel Walker has lost the runoff election in Georgia. That means that Democrat Reverend Raphael Warnock will remain as a Senator in Georgia.

My sense of relief about this result has little to do with actual politics. Politically speaking, I’d call myself pretty much “purple”. Before the MAGA movement, I didn’t really think there was a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans. I was inclined to vote for candidates in either major political party or, quite often, I would cast a vote for a third party candidate. Most of the time, I was voting for people over parties. However, ever since Trump invaded the political arena, the Republican Party has put forth terrible candidates who are extremely flawed and inappropriate for holding public office. For so many reasons, Herschel Walker was an egregiously bad candidate for Senate. What’s terribly sad, though, is that even though Walker was a terrible candidate, the race was still very close. It’s obvious that a lot of people in Georgia vote for parties over people, and some are stubbornly resisting seeing that some candidates for the Republican Party are just plain bad choices.

Herschel Walker never should have been allowed to run for Senate. He is eminently unqualified, can barely string a coherent sentence together, and doesn’t even live in Georgia, although he was born and raised there, and went to the University of Georgia. Walker resides in a mansion in Texas. Walker is best known for his prowess on the football field as a running back, not as a statesman or a scholar. Although he had once claimed to be the valedictorian of his high school class and graduated at the top of his class at the University of Georgia, fact checkers have determined that both of these claims are untrue. In fact, Walker never even graduated from college. He dropped out of school so he could play professional football, which was probably the right career decision for him, since he was very successful on the football field. However, his athletic ability doesn’t necessarily translate as an important skill in the political arena.

Like Donald Trump, Walker is not known for his strong sense of family values, which the Republicans supposedly push with their allegiances to Protestant and Evangelical Christians. He’s had multiple children with different women. Also like Donald Trump, Walker has been accused of domestic violence. In spite of being “opposed” to abortion and any exceptions to abortion bans, Walker has been accused of pressuring at least two women to have abortions. One of the women even produced a check for $575 and a get well card, allegedly from Walker. Mr. Walker has also spoken publicly about his diagnosis with dissociative identity disorder, and has served as a spokesperson for a mental health program for veterans. While I would never want to automatically count out someone from political service, solely because they have a mental health issue, I do think that some diagnoses are incompatible with political service. Dissociative identity disorder is a very serious diagnosis.

It seems to me that only a few years ago, people who ran for public offices, particularly on the federal level, met some minimum standards and levels of decorum. Donald Trump has introduced a new era, which includes people who are wildly inappropriate as leadership candidates. As these folks get elected to office, we find out that they’re completely and embarrassingly unprepared to do their jobs. So, instead of solving problems that affect the citizenry of the United States or even more locally within their states, they pursue issues that are irrelevant. And now, Donald Trump has openly stated that he thinks it’s time to “suspend” the United States Constitution! Why? Because the Constitution is an obstacle in his way. The man wants to be back in power, and he wants to stay there for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, he champions stooges whom he hopes will do his bidding, rather than work for the people who elected them. I think Herschel Walker is an obvious example of that type of candidate.

I have a number of relatives who live in Georgia. I’m sad to say that the probably all voted for Walker over Warnock, simply because they are dyed in the wool Republicans who are convinced that Democrats are evil “communists”. And so, instead of choosing the obviously more qualified candidate– one who isn’t a Trump croney– they will simply vote for the “R” or abstain. They’re good people, and I love them, but this inability to vote for the best interests of everyone makes me feel very sad.

I really hope that the recent election results will convince both of the major parties that it’s time to stop championing people who are suitable candidates for public office. We have a lot of problems that need to be solved, and they will never be fixed if we keep getting seriously flawed candidates like Herschel Walker taking up precious space on the ballots. Enough is enough. We’ve got lots of important shit to do, and we need people in public office who can and will do the work.

In other news…

I was right about younger daughter’s birthday yesterday. She was delighted to receive my gift to her, and sent me a very thoughtful thank you note. It’s so nice that we’re enjoying this turn of events. I just wish this could have happened sooner, but I suppose this was the way things were supposed to evolve. In any case, I’m very appreciative. It’s always a good thing when a narcissist loses. And, as we can see, it looks like Trump, the biggest narcissist of all, is finally losing, too.

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