celebrities, condescending twatbags, healthcare, rock stars, slut shamers

No, Lindsey Buckingham doesn’t need your input on charities…

This morning, I looked at my Facebook memories and realized that one year ago, the world lost Christine McVie, the luminary singer, keyboardist, and songwriter for Fleetwood Mac. As I remembered my shock at the sudden departure of McVie, a musician I’ve admired for most of my life, I remembered that one of her former bandmates was also recently on my mind.

Lindsey Buckingham, legendary guitar player, songwriter, singer, and former member of Fleetwood Mac, is running an ad on his Facebook page that I happened to see. I fully support Lindsey’s decision to support Planned Parenthood through Wear Your Music, an organization that makes and sells jewelry from guitar strings. In fact, I applaud it. For the most part, Planned Parenthood does good work, offering reproductive healthcare to people– men and women– who need it. Yes, Planned Parenthood offers abortions, but abortion is a very small part of what Planned Parenthood does… and if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you already know how strongly I feel about the need for safe and legal access to abortion healthcare. I do not, by the way, wish to argue about this point. I won’t be changing my mind.

I think this is a good thing, and I applaud Lindsey Buckingham’s courage. Plenty of anti-choicers were flooding the comment section, though.

It always amazes me how many trolls come out when an artist expresses support for something like reproductive healthcare. While many people were congratulating Buckingham’s decision to support a very worthy cause, plenty of other people– many of them men and older women who no longer have to worry about unintended pregnancies– were chiming in on how awful Planned Parenthood is, and how wrong it is for Buckingham to support it. Lots of people were commenting about how Buckingham’s decision changed their opinions of him… as if that is going to matter a whit to Lindsey Buckingham. I doubt he’ll lose any sleep over their outrage.

Poor Bill had to listen to my outrage at some of the braindead comments on Buckingham’s ad. It infuriates me to read the sanctimonious, slut shaming, and just plain clueless remarks made by people who insist that they care about the sanctity of life, as they vote for people who don’t give a fuck about anyone but the super wealthy. One woman commented repeatedly about how she’d rather Buckingham donate money to pay for ultrasounds for pregnant people who are considering abortion. When someone asked her how many babies she’d adopted, she responded that she hadn’t adopted any… but gives money to “organizations that do.”

That struck me as a strange comment. This woman is no doubt a Republican, and Republicans constantly yammer about how government needs to be smaller and less involved in people’s personal decisions. And yet, she feels perfectly fine about inserting herself in one of the most private and personal decisions a woman can make. I also didn’t see her commenting about what she does to make sure the babies born to women who aren’t ready to be parents have a good start in life.

I NEVER see pro-life people ever offering to help pregnant women with anything that would make pregnancy safer, and parenthood more feasible for them. I don’t see them offering to hire pregnant women, helping them pay for food, rent, or medical bills, or otherwise trying to make pregnancy easier for women who find themselves facing parenthood when they aren’t ready. They repeatedly bring up adoption as a good solution, but never seem to consider that pregnancy is physically and emotionally risky for some people.

Some of those babies born to mothers who aren’t ready for them are going to suffer from abuse, neglect, poverty, and other social ills, because, at this point, we don’t force people give up their babies to “good” parents. Moreover, left to their own devices, a lot of women who would want to have an abortion for the sake of convenience would do it as early as possible, if people would just leave them alone and let them make the decision without interference. The people who speak of carelessness and convenience don’t seem to realize that pregnancy shouldn’t be a punishment. Life is hard enough as it is. I wouldn’t want a very irresponsible person maintaining a pregnancy, especially if they don’t have any support. Republicans don’t want to support anyone or anything but the wealthy and the religious.

I have repeatedly stated that, personally, I don’t think I would have ever chosen to have an abortion. Thankfully, I was never in a situation where I would have needed to consider it. But that’s me– and that’s my choice. And I was lucky enough to grow up at a time when I still had the choice, if I needed to make it. Today’s young women are no longer guaranteed that choice. While a lot of pro-lifers remind everyone that pregnancy is prevented by abstinence, quite a few of those folks are men, and as almost every woman knows, men can be very persuasive when they’re in the mood for sex. Unfortunately, not all of them are willing to wear condoms.

Planned Parenthood has helped many people with reproductive healthcare issues that have nothing to do with abortion. The organization offers affordable, accessible care to people who really need it. As someone with master’s degrees in public health and social work, of course I support the valuable work they do. Someone else’s choice to have an abortion is NONE of my business. It’s none of yours, either.

Someone who doesn’t support Planned Parenthood posted that they were glad Lindsey was upfront about where the money would be going. I thought that was a reasonable comment. If you choose not to support Planned Parenthood, of course that’s your prerogative. I highly doubt the man who posted his thoughts on this was going to buy any guitar string jewelry, anyway. I mean, I support Lindsey’s choice in charities, but I’m not interested in buying guitar string jewelry myself. It makes me think too much about what a pain it is to change the strings on my guitar.

I have donated to Planned Parenthood, though, and maybe it’s time I did so again. That’s a cause I believe in, wholeheartedly. I just wish there was a way to donate that didn’t potentially put my credit card at risk. Last time I donated to a cause, my card got hacked, and it was a huge pain in the ass. Just a few days ago, someone got ahold of my old number and tried to use it for nefarious purposes. I wish those criminal dirtbags would get jobs.

Anyway… it saddens me that so many Americans think they need to weigh in on other Americans’ reproductive choices. Especially when MOST of them have no desire to do anything more than slut shame, scream about their gun rights, and vote for people like Donald Trump. It really saddens me how very ignorant people are. And frankly, it reminds me that I’m glad I don’t have any children to worry about… especially daughters.


I am very glad to see women in Texas suing the state over the ridiculous and extreme abortion bans there. I wish most of them would simply leave the state. It’s so dangerous to be a woman in a state where doctors are afraid to do what is medically correct, because they don’t want to go to jail, get sued, or lose their license to practice over the abortion issue. IT IS A DECISION THAT SHOULD BE PRIVATE… just as private as John MAGA’s prostate surgery is. And just as sacred as John MAGA’s guns are…

book reviews, politics, Trump

My review of Enough, by Cassidy Hutchinson…

A very good Friday morning to you all. As I sit here listening to old songs from the 70s and 80s, I’m thinking about today’s blog post, a review of Enough, Cassidy Hutchinson’s much anticipated book about her work with disgraced former POTUS, Donald Trump. Hutchinson’s book was published September 26, 2023. I usually don’t pre-order things on Amazon, but I see I ordered Enough on September 25th. I didn’t start reading it until a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been making a concerted effort to get through it. I must admit, it hasn’t been the easiest book to read, but I also can’t read as fast as I used to, when my eyes were better.

Like so many people, I was shocked and amazed when I heard Cassidy Hutchinson’s extraordinary testimony to the January 6th Committee. I was also interested in her on a personal level, as she is a graduate of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia. I grew up near Newport News, and CNU (called CNC when I was college age) has come a really long way since I was Cassidy’s age. When I heard that Cassidy Hutchinson came from Pennington, New Jersey, I was even more intrigued. When I was growing up, CNU was sort of considered a glorified community college. It had no dormitories, and a lot of the people I knew who went there were going because it was close to home and relatively inexpensive. But it’s really grown by leaps and bounds, and Cassidy Hutchinson has kind of put the school more on the map.

It’s also no secret that I DESPISE Donald Trump and his cronies. Anyone who tells the truth about his criminal behaviors and outright lies to the American people is alright with me. Or, at least that’s how I felt when I started reading Enough. Now that I’ve finished reading it, my feelings about Cassidy Hutchinson are a bit more complicated. I still think she is a brave woman who has ultimately done a huge service for the American people and, perhaps, even the world. But by the time I reached the end of her book, I realized that what she did, she mostly did to save her own skin… and that doesn’t necessarily make her heroic.

It’s not that I blame Cassidy for cooperating with Liz Cheney and the rest of the committee seeking to hold Trump responsible for what happened on January 6th, 2021. It was the right thing for her to do, morally speaking. It was also the practical thing to do, as she didn’t have the money for a decent lawyer. If she hadn’t cooperated, Cassidy Hutchinson would likely be in as much legal hot water as her former bosses are right now. But based on her book, I’m left with the impression that if Trump and his cronies had thrown her more of a bone– hadn’t labeled her as a “leaker” and turned on her– she would still be toeing the party line and parroting their talking points. I truly do hope that she’s come to her senses, at least about Trump.

Enough also includes some rather distasteful anecdotes from Cassidy Hutchinson’s childhood that, honestly, really turned my stomach and made me question some of her claims. At the beginning of the book, Hutchinson writes about her parents and her brother. She writes of how her family almost moved to Indiana and her mother had single handedly moved a baby grand piano by herself. As someone who owns a very heavy spinet piano that is in storage, I HIGHLY doubt that (it takes a couple of men to move my spinet, which is a much smaller instrument than a baby grand is). Cassidy’s father eventually decided that he couldn’t leave Pennington, New Jersey. So, just like that, the new house in Indiana was put on the market and they moved back to New Jersey. I suppose it could have happened that way, but I think there must have been much more to the story. And no matter what, I don’t believe that Cassidy’s mom moved a baby grand piano by herself.

According to her story, Cassidy Hutchinson’s father is a complete batshit crazy right wing conspiracist. He always spoke of her being a “warrior” and reminded her that warriors don’t cry. He’d go hunting and fishing, and Cassidy wanted to join him. One time she did, and watched in horror as her father obliterated a turtle with his gun. After her parents divorced, Cassidy’s dad sent her and her brother deer hearts that still dripped with blood. Not surprisingly, Cassidy’s father loves Donald Trump, and it was a tremendous source of pride to him that his daughter worked for Trump. I sense that part of the reason she identifies so much with Republican politics has to do with wanting to connect with her father, whom she admits was never a good father to her. She even outright writes that she now sees her stepfather, Paul, as more of a “dad” to her than her biological father ever was.

Like her father, Cassidy Hutchinson had also adored Donald Trump. She even put it in those terms, even though she admitted that he often behaved in a way that wasn’t presidential. I can excuse Cassidy somewhat for being young and naive, and I think maybe a bit starstruck. I also get the sense that Cassidy truly was very ambitious and really wanted to get into politics. She writes repeatedly that she thought of what she was doing as serving her country, and she demonstrates a real knack for working with people, even when they are insufferable. And yet she laughed at some of Trump’s antics, and admitted to becoming “inured” to some of his worst and most criminal behaviors. She ignored blatantly unethical and illegal actions by Trump and others in his administration. She had even committed to staying on Trump’s team until the very end, and even afterwards, when he went back to Mar-a-Lago.

It wasn’t until it became clear that Cassidy Hutchinson wasn’t going to be welcome in Florida that she started to change her tune. And then when she got served with a subpoena by federal marshalls, she realized that she was potentially in big trouble. What ended up happening is that she became loyal to their people who were willing to set her up with competent legal counsel. Fortunately, they were better people than Trump and his allies.

I took a look at Amazon’s reviews of this book. A lot of people seemed to love it. I can understand why. It was pretty awesome to hear Cassidy Hutchinson spill about working with Donald Trump and Mark Meadows. They screwed her over and wildly underestimated her. I love to see narcissistic creeps like Donald Trump and Mark Meadows get a much deserved comeuppance when they underestimate people they think can do them no harm. That part of the book– I won’t lie– is VERY satisfying.

However, I don’t think Cassidy realizes that a couple of the main reasons she was chosen for her job have to do with the fact that she’s young, very attractive, and, at least as a fresh, idealistic college graduate, easily impressed and pliant. I highly doubt Cassidy Hutchinson would have landed in her position if she had been a little bit older, wiser, and less fresh and beautiful. She was initially very loyal, trusting, and trustworthy, willing to work long hours for apparently low pay, take orders without question, and look pretty while doing so.

It’s true that Cassidy Hutchinson turned out to be much more capable than people realized. I just think it’s kind of sad that it took her so long to see the writing on the wall. My comments about Cassidy’s looks aren’t meant as a slam on her, by the way. It’s just that I’ve noticed that most of the women working in Trump’s administration had eye appeal, and that seemed to be every bit as important as their savvy and actual qualifications for the job.

If it weren’t for Liz Cheney hooking her up with lawyers who were willing to work pro bono, Cassidy Hutchinson would probably be living in Florida, still trying to advance Trump’s cause. Or, at least that’s the impression I got from reading her book. When it came down to it, her decision to cooperate with the January 6th Committee seemed to have a lot more to do with her not having enough money for a good lawyer, and not wanting to face legal repercussions, than actually doing what was right for the good of the country.

But… the most important thing is, in the end, Cassidy Hutchinson DID do the right thing and testify against Trump and his cronies. For that, I’m very grateful to her. I wish her the best of luck, though, especially if she intends to stay Republican. It may be a very long time before Trump is washed out of our political system. Right now, the Republican Party seems to be infected with Trump loyalists. Cassidy Hutchinson may find herself with a very tough row to hoe if she plans to stay involved with politics. She does seem to have a good friend in Liz Cheney, though, and maybe Cheney will be her saving grace. I don’t agree with Liz Cheney’s politics at all, but I do think she’s much more forthright and honest than Trump is. She’s more like the kind of Republicans I grew up with, back in the dark ages.

One other thing I want to mention about Enough is that it’s written in historical present tense, which I found kind of awkward and annoying. It reminded me of when I used to write papers for my English lit classes in college. I think I would have preferred Cassidy Hutchinson’s story to be written in past tense, as if she were telling the story in person. But that’s just a personal preference. Other people might not notice it or care. I do think the book would have been better if she had written it with a ghost writer, or at least a competent editor. Her writing isn’t bad, but it could use some polishing and tightening… and maybe fewer references to the many alcoholic drinks she consumed toward the end of her time in Trump land.

Overall, I think I’d give Enough 3.5 stars. I truly appreciate Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, and some of the anecdotes in her book are illuminating and entertaining. Some are even funny– especially when she writes about Mark Meadows unwittingly taking his first alcoholic drinks in front of a devout Mormon staffer. However, some of her stories seem a little like stretches of the truth. I don’t like her use of historical present tense. The book could use some editing. And I think she might be kidding herself somewhat, trying to come off as this virtuous, caring, savior, when what she was actually doing was saving her own skin (not that I blame her for that, mind you). Still, I have certainly read worse books by people involved with the Trump administration. John Bolton’s boring snorefest comes to mind.

I will recommend Cassidy Hutchinson’s book, Enough, for the interested, and I wish her much luck and success in her future endeavors. Above all, I hope she stays safe. Unfortunately, there are some very dangerous people out there who remain loyal to Trump. I’m sure some of them wouldn’t think twice about coming after anyone who threatens their orange dear leader.

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language, misunderstandings, Virginia

What it means to be a native…

Good morning, blog fans. It’s a cool, rainy Thursday here in Germany, and I’ve been up for two hours already. Bill woke me up when he came back into the bedroom after his shower. I had to get up a few times last night and needed cough syrup to fall asleep in the first place. I’m mostly over my cold from last week, but still have an annoying cough. It takes me forever to get over coughs, thanks to asthma and acid reflux. So, even though I’m now feeling mostly normal, when I lie down to go to sleep, I still cough a lot. Thank God for NyQuil.

While I was eating breakfast with Bill, I looked at the weekly newspaper put out by my hometown of Gloucester, Virginia. I like to look at the obituaries to see if anyone I know has passed and read about things going on in the community where I came of age. Sometimes, I also read the opinion pieces and letters to the editor, but those often end up disturbing me.

Gloucester is a VERY red county, even though it was somewhat recently in the news due to a transgender student at the high school wanting the right to change bathroom preferences. That case went to the Supreme Court, which was quite a shock to me… not so much because of the case itself, but because it involved my high school.

I remember reading some of the letters to the editor when that was going on, and I was pretty horrified by what I read. Many people were full of hatred for Gavin Grimm, the transgender student who eventually won his fight after graduation. In August 2021, the school board was ordered to pay $1.3 million to resolve Grimm’s case. This sounds like a lot of money, but it was used for five years worth of attorney’s fees and court costs. It seems like it would have been smarter and much less expensive to just let Gavin use the boys room. But hey, that’s Gloucester, and people there are pretty set in their ways. A lot of people who live there are the type of people to put the below sticker on their cars…

This was actually suggested to me on Facebook. I reported it as promoting violence. Facebook said it was okay. And yet, I got a red badge of shame for calling Americans “dumb”.
Some of them might even put this on their cars… although I would hope they wouldn’t.

The point is, I don’t have the highest of expectations for people in the county where I spent most of my youth. Most of them are “salt of the earth” type people who call a spade a spade, and are slow to change their views on things. Don’t get me wrong. There are some genuinely fabulous people living in Gloucester, and I still have many friends there. But there are also some ignorant folks living there, as I guess there would be anywhere. And some are happy to stay ignorant as they stubbornly cling to their small world views.

So this morning, I was reading the obituaries and I noticed a photo of a woman in a wedding dress listed as among the dead. I didn’t recognize her name, but she looked young enough that I might have known her at some time. I took a look at her obituary to see if she might be someone from my past. It turned out she wasn’t, but her obituary was memorable anyway, because of this…

She was born in Rhode Island and was a native of Virginia Beach.


Uh, if she was born in Rhode Island, she can’t be a “native” of anywhere but Rhode Island. It doesn’t matter how long a person lives somewhere. If they weren’t born there, they aren’t a “native”. There are several definitions of the word “native”, but they all basically refer to someone or something being born in a specific place.

From Merriam-Webster: Middle English natif, from Middle French, from Latin nativus, from natus, past participle of nasci to be born.

In Merriam-Webster, there is a lesser known meaning that “native” can possibly be used to denote that a person has always lived in a certain place, which would distinguish them from being a visitor. But it seems to me that in the above case, the word wouldn’t be correct, as the person in the obituary did eventually leave Virginia Beach for the “quieter” living available in Gloucester County. This was actually written in the obituary– that they preferred the simpler lifestyle in Gloucester.

It was an obituary, so that means that it was probably written by one of the deceased’s loved ones, rather than a journalist. And I think, just as people misuse the word “prone” when they actually mean “supine”, this was just someone who thought they knew the definition of “native” and didn’t bother to look it up as they wrote the obituary. I also know this issue is not a big deal to most people. Most of us understand what the writer meant, which means they accomplished what they set out to do when they wrote the sentence. However, technically, what they wrote is incorrect, and as someone who finds words and language interesting, I decided the mistake would make for a good and potentially educational blog topic today.

I like to study different mechanics of the English language to see how it all fits together. If you know what prefixes, suffixes, and roots mean, you can often figure out what a word means– or doesn’t mean– without having to consult a dictionary. And it can also be very helpful in other languages, as you try to understand what the announcer on a Google Ad is saying while you wait for your YouTube video to begin. If you know the word “nate” or “natal” denotes birth, you know that a person who grew up in Virginia Beach, but was born in Rhode Island, can’t actually be a native of Virginia Beach.

I was born in Hampton, Virginia. That’s where my mom now lives, and where my father died in 2014. I am a NATIVE of Hampton, because I was born there. But, to date, I have spent only about six months of my life living in Hampton, and that was just after my birth in 1972. I have no memories whatsoever of living in the place where I was born, although I’ve visited there MANY times.

In 1973, we moved to Dayton, Ohio, which I also don’t remember, because I was a baby at the time. My earliest memories are of England, from where many of my ancestors hailed. I have a whole lot of Scottish and English DNA– like over 97 percent, according to two of the best known DNA sites– but I am certainly not a “native” of the United Kingdom. I am a native of Virginia, and to date, I’ve lived the most years of my life in Gloucester, where I’m also not a native. Germany is starting to catch up with Gloucester, but I’ll never be a German native, even if I live here until I’ve reached a ripe old age.

I don’t think there are as many true natives of Gloucester as compared to nearby larger cities like Williamsburg, Richmond, Hampton, and Newport News. Gloucester’s hospital doesn’t offer maternity services, and hasn’t for as long as I can remember. Because a lot of Americans would rather give birth in a medical setting, a lot of pregnant people in Gloucester give birth somewhere else. However, at least two famous people in history were Gloucester natives– Pocahontas was one, and Dr. Walter Reed was another.

Anyway, I thought I’d get that off my chest. My condolences to the family and friends of the deceased woman who prompted today’s rantings. It sounds like she was a very lovely woman who will be missed by many people. It also sounds like they are a good fit for living in Gloucester County, which does have its positives, in spite of some people wanting to keep living in the past.

controversies, healthcare, memories, videos, YouTube

The price of being motivated by Mary Lou Retton…

A couple of days ago, when I was writing about Mary Lou Retton’s recent health crisis and her daughter’s subsequent crowdfunding campaign, I went on YouTube to jog my memory. I found a large collection of ads she did in the 80s and 90s. Watching some of them was quite a time warp for me, although I still remembered them well. Below are just a few ads from back in the day…

This is one I remember really well, probably because of the opening lines of the ad…

But I also remember Mary Lou pitching Energizer batteries… and she did so a few times.

You got it!
She actually looks really excited about the batteries!

She also did a lot of ads for Revco, which was a drug store chain that was eventually sold to CVS. I remember her saying “And another thing…” in a lot of those ads, but I can’t seem to find those particular commercials on YouTube. However, there are plenty of other Revco ads she did back in the day. Behold…

Here’s she’s talking about how Revco allowed people to talk with the pharmacists and gave them low prices.
Here she talks about how her Revco ads saved some woman’s life by encouraging her to read the patient information leaflet. The woman had been taking her medication wrong.
And the ever popular Wheaties ads…

Obviously, Mary Lou Retton has historically been pretty good at pitching things. She has a big smile that is always convincing. Her eyes twinkle, and she has no problem hamming it up for the camera. It’s interesting to me that Mary Lou did so many ads for Revco, a place where people used their health insurance benefits, but she doesn’t have health insurance herself. As of today, just a few days after her second eldest daughter, McKenna Kelley, posted a crowdfund plea for donations to fund Mary Lou’s current hospital care, the fund is up to $414,195. That is an astonishing amount of money, although sadly, it’s probably still not going to be nearly enough to pay off her medical debts if she really doesn’t have any insurance.

I remembered that Mary Lou Retton has also done public and motivational speaking. I also remembered seeing her profile listed on a site that pitched her services. Last night, I decided to see if the profile was still available on the Washington Speakers Bureau Web site. It was, and still is… Feast your eyes.

Notice that her fee ranges between $25K and $40K. Granted, we don’t know how often she’s been asked to speak recently, nor do we know if the people who would book her would be expected to pay for her airfare, ground transportation, and hotel. However, I would expect that if she was less in demand recently, that asking amount would be less than it is now. Mary Lou is also listed on a site called Celebrity Speakers Bureau, and interested parties are advised to call for her fee. On Sports Speakers 360, she asks for $20,001-$30,000 to speak.

The Washington Speakers Bureau site is very interesting browsing, by the way. There’s a huge range of speakers available– everyone from George W. Bush to Elizabeth Smart. And it does look like, based on this site, Mary Lou’s fees are quite a bit lower than some others. I see some of the most powerful and influential people require calls to the WSB for information on fees, while lesser known people have their fees readily listed.

I don’t begrudge Mary Lou Retton for charging whatever she can for her public speaking talents. She worked very hard in the gym for years, and she was the first American woman to win all around gold at the Summer Olympics. She is a legitimately successful person and should earn money accordingly for everything she’s accomplished. It still doesn’t explain why her daughter has to ask the public to fund Mary Lou’s medical costs when it looks like she could have purchased health insurance for herself. And her family is not being forthcoming about why Mary Lou lacks health insurance.

I guess what I really find sad about this situation is that there are so many people who aren’t famous, and don’t get paid five figures to give speeches, who also need help paying their medical bills. I mean, it’s great for Mary Lou Retton that she’s well known and loved by many, but I can’t help but think about much less fortunate people who can’t raise money to pay for their necessary healthcare. And living in Europe for the past nine years reminds me that there are so many developed nations in the world where this kind of thing isn’t necessary, because healthcare is so much more affordable and people are expected or even required to be insured. Most people also don’t have access to the U.S. Olympic Committee, who are reportedly reaching out to Mary Lou’s family to help with her expenses.

Mary Lou Retton is still motivating people to spend money, even though she’s in the hospital. It used to be she’d get them to spend by lending her likeness and perkiness to commercials. Then she’d get them to spend in order to hear her speak about her accomplishments and how to be a winner. And now they’re spending to help pay for what will almost surely be astronomical hospital bills, to say nothing about the doctors and pharmacists who will also need to be paid. While people are certainly free to spend their money as they choose, it does seem to me that the least Mary Lou’s family could do is be more transparent about why she needs the money, especially if she’s reportedly worth millions and can command such high fees for motivational speaking engagements. And especially when she is aligned with a political party that is all about personal responsibility and not looking for handouts (unless, of course, we’re talking about corporations).

I continue to wish Mary Lou Retton well in her recovery. I hope her situation highlights how badly the United States needs extreme healthcare reform and a complete revamping of our system. In the meantime, we still have videos like the one below for a good reminder as to why Mary Lou used to pitch Energizer batteries…

Yikes! The 80s were weird!

celebrities, healthcare, sports

Mary Lou Retton is in the ICU. She needs your money.

I woke up at about 1:00 AM this morning. I had a terrible coughing fit, thanks to this cold I’ve been fighting for the past few days. After a couple of trips to the bathroom to deal with the cough and the inevitable call of nature, I was pretty wide awake. I went on Facebook and saw a news article by The New York Times about 1984 Olympic gold medalist, Mary Lou Retton.

I realize that I may have some readers who weren’t around in 1984 and may not know much about the legendary Mary Lou. In 1984, after she became the first American to win Olympic gold in the women’s gymnastics all around competition, Retton was everywhere. She was the first female athlete to grace a box of Wheaties, a cereal famously promoted as the “breakfast of champions”. After the Olympics, she got in tight with Republican politics, appeared in a couple of films, had her own kiddie exercise show, and was in lots of commercials. I distinctly remember her as the pitchwoman for the now defunct drug store chain, Revco, in the 1980s. She was also on Energizer battery ads and wrote at least one book, which I read about twenty years ago. More recently, she was on Dancing With The Stars, although I didn’t see her perform.

In 1990, she married Shannon Kelley, a football player, had four daughters, and made her home in Houston, Texas, where she reportedly purchased a huge home. The marriage broke up in 2018, and Mary Lou reportedly suffered from some health problems. A former professor of mine recently commented that she’d seen the famous gymnast on an ad for Colonial Penn life insurance and didn’t think Mary Lou was aging well. I remembered reading about her having total hip replacement surgery on account of hip dysplasia exacerbated from many years of demanding gymnastics training. I mentioned the surgery to my old professor, thinking maybe that was part of the reason why she might have seemed poorly.

Mary Lou Retton pitches Colonial Penn life insurance… but she has no health insurance.

I was still surprised when I read about Mary Lou’s most recent health issues that landed her in the ICU (intensive care unit) with a “rare” form of pneumonia. Her daughter, McKenna Kelley, also a gymnast, posted a Spotfund campaign for her “amazing mom”. Below is a screenshot.

Why isn’t Mary Lou insured?

Now… far be it for me to want to know the minute details of Mary Lou’s medical condition. It’s none of my business. And God knows, I understand that medical care is very expensive in the United States. What I don’t understand is why Mary Lou doesn’t have medical insurance. I can only make assumptions, which I will now proceed to do, realizing that I don’t know what her personal circumstances are. Based on this May 2022 article by homedit, Mary Lou has had nice digs, at least in the past. To be fair, I’m not sure if she still owns the house mentioned in the article, since I did see that it was listed on the market at one point. Hell, she has actual streets named after her in at least two states– Texas and her home state of West Virginia. And yet her daughter needs to crowdfund her medical care.

People are heeding the call for funds, though. When I woke up again at about 5:00 AM, I noticed the original goal of $50K had already been surpassed by about $60K. About three hours later, I see that people have donated about $134K. Every time I refresh, the total increases. It’s good that Mary Lou Retton has so many fans and friends.

I don’t know why Mary Lou isn’t insured, but sadly, I do know that the money collected so far is probably going to be a drop in the bucket for what the final costs will be. She’s already been in the ICU for at least a week. And because she doesn’t have insurance, she will pay the “list price” for her medical care, rather than the negotiated price health insurance would have gotten her. Mary Lou Retton is famously Republican. I don’t want to get too far into it for the purposes of this post, but I’ve also seen people mention that in 2017, Retton spoke to Congress against a bill presented by the late Dianne Feinstein that would have made it mandatory for national governing bodies of Olympic sports to report sexual assault to the police. According to the link:

The [US Gymnastics] federation has had no shame, either. When the sex abuse bill was introduced, Penny and others from U.S.A. Gymnastics met with Feinstein about the federation’s sexual assault policies. How about this for a public-relations stunt: Tagging along was Mary Lou Retton, the smiling, bubbly sweetheart from the 1984 Games, as they said that the federation’s policies were solid and that gymnastics was a happy, safe place.

You would think that Mary Lou, as a gymnast and a mother of four daughters, would have some empathy for the hopeful girls in the sport, dying to achieve what she and a few other Americans have in gymnastics. After all, it was Mary Lou’s big victory in the Soviet Union boycotted 1984 Olympics that enticed so many girls to the sport. But instead of trying to protect girls in gymnastics and other sports and showing respect to the many gymnasts who have already been victimized, Mary Lou chose to side with the conservative establishment. And, it appears that she may have done it again by not having health insurance. Maybe it’s because of a reason other than not wanting to participate in “Obamacare”, but I’m hard pressed to determine what that reason might be.

As I sit here reading about Mary Lou’s troubles, I’m reminded of the last communication I ever had with one of my very conservative cousins, who was a big time Trump supporter. I’ve written about the conversation in the original OH blog, and on this blog. But for those who don’t want to read the posts about that conversation, here’s a brief rundown. I was discussing high drug prices on Facebook with my friends. My cousin, who was then a Facebook friend, but rarely commented on my posts, came along and basically chastised us for lamenting the high cost of medical care in the United States. She wrote:

So success is defined by having cheap drugs? Those 35 million Americans that take these drugs don’t realize they are dying quicker by taking them than by doing without. We’re enslaved by Big Pharma whether the price is small or great. BTW, I’m a Republican. I am 62 and don’t take any medicine.

Later, when some of my friends (even one of the conservative ones) were writing WTF comments, my cousin came back and posted this:

Don’t mind me, I’m just Jenny’s off the grid organic farmer cousin. I don’t mean to be insensitive to those who really need medicine but there are drug companies and doctors who push all sorts of medicine unnecessarily. For the most part if folks would just take responsibility for their diet 3/4ths of the medicine now prescribed would not be necessary. But Medicine is big business. I live on the edge with no health care and use a lot of essential oils. I would rather pay a penalty than pump $6K a year or more into the healthcare insurance business. Call me crazy. (Indeed I will)

You know where my cousin is now? Six feet underground. My cousin died of colon cancer at age 67. She had no health insurance, and when she developed stomach pains, she decided to write it off as a potential ulcer and wait until she was eligible for Medicare (horrors, more socialism!) to see a doctor… which she never actually did until it was far too late and her cancer was well advanced. In January 2021, a couple of months after her death, I wrote this:

Last night, I read about how my cousin had let her disease go unchecked for at least six months because she didn’t have health insurance and was waiting for Medicare to kick in. The dramatic event that led her to her sick role had occurred in May of 2019, but she’d had Medicare coverage since late October 2018. As of May of 2019, she’d experienced severe abdominal pain for over six months. Still, she’d ignored it, dismissing the pain as a potential ulcer until she was passing bright red blood rectally in the wee hours of the morning.

I’m actually surprised that my cousin agreed with using Medicare, since she was a proud Republican and a Trump supporter, and a lot of Republicans seem to think Medicare is a socialist idea. If she had seen a doctor right when the pain started, would she have survived 2020? Would she have had another Christmas and New Year’s with her family? Would she have made it to her 70s and been there to see her grandchildren come of age? We’ll never know, but I suspect that she would have had a much better quality of life and a more favorable outcome if she’d been able to see, and pay for, a doctor much sooner than she did.

To be fair to my cousin, both of her parents died of different forms of cancer. She watched them go through the treatments of that era and probably really feared them. And she probably avoided doctors for much the same reason I do. But she had children and grandchildren, many friends and doting family members, as well as a couple of businesses she ran with her loving husband. If she’d done something about that pain sooner, maybe she’d still be with us. On the other hand, given my cousin’s loudly proclaimed love for Jesus, maybe she’s better off dead. She believed in Heaven, after all… and being in Heaven would mean being with her parents and our beloved Granny and Pappy, as well as the many aunts and uncles who have also passed.

I guess what really pissed me off about her situation was, she intruded on a conversation I was having with my friends, on my space, lectured us about desiring more affordable drugs and health care, pushed “essential oils” as an elixir for health, and then promptly got very sick with cancer and passed away. It was sheer stupidity, hypocrisy, and stubbornness on her part. And, aside from that, she was very publicly a Christian, even though she voted for people who were not very Christian at all.

I should mention that I don’t think this cousin liked me very much. I, in turn, returned the sentiment, especially after that exchange. She used to get offended when I cursed, and would chastise me for enjoying alcohol (which– sorry– I come by honestly. Our family is full of alcoholics). I suspect she also didn’t like that I sing, because before I came along, she was the family troubadour. I am sorry she got cancer and died. I didn’t wish death on her. But I couldn’t help but see the irony… she chastises us about hoping for more affordable healthcare, refuses to pay for health insurance, and pays a huge price. Or, rather, her family is paying… because in spite of my less charitable feelings toward her, I know they loved her very much.

I don’t actually know why Mary Lou Retton isn’t insured. I just think there’s no real good excuse for it. Moreover, it always BLOWS my mind when Republicans want to crowdfund things like medical care and funeral expenses as they lament people who access welfare, that if the recipients have ever had a job, their tax dollars actually went to help fund. Why is crowdfunding better than accepting welfare? Frankly, I think crowdfunding is worse than welfare, since you’re essentially begging, and relying on other people’s pity and compassion to pay your necessary bills. We all die, and we all have a need for healthcare. And if everybody pays for health insurance, that means there’s less bad debt for the rest of us to pay in the form of higher healthcare costs… and less need for crowdfunding.

By the way… as I finish this post, the results of Mary Lou’s crowdfund appeal is now up to $138K (as of less than six hours later, it’s at $174 K). That’s great for her, but most people don’t have Mary Lou Retton’s ability to make people want to reach into their wallets to help pay for healthcare expenses. And again… I strongly (and sadly) suspect that Mary Lou’s bills will be a hell of a lot higher than just six figures. I do wish her well, and I hope she will make a full recovery. I just wish she’d done the responsible thing and been insured. I’m pretty sure she’s one who could have afforded it.

Featured photo is from the current crowdfund Mary Lou’s daughter is running in support of her mom’s medical expenses. You can donate to it by clicking here.

Edited to add: Yesterday, Mary Lou got a $50,000 donation from the wife of a Texas tycoon. Her crowdfund is now at over $332K… Most people commenting have been very kind, but one person wrote this:

While I don’t necessarily disagree with this person’s very harsh take and wouldn’t have left a comment this mean, I can kind of see their point.