bad TV, movies, narcissists, true crime

I just watched Secrets of a Gold Digger Killer…

About fifteen years ago, when Bill and I were still living in my native state of Virginia, I read a true crime book by Kathryn Casey. The title of the book was She Wanted it All: A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire. At the time that I read the book, Bill was serving a deployment in Iraq. As worried as I was about him, I was also freaked out about his ex wife, who had done some extreme things in the previous year to mess up Bill’s relationship with his daughters. In so many ways, Celeste Beard Johnson’s story reminded me of Ex, only there wasn’t a murder involved.

I reviewed Kathryn Casey’s book on Epinions.com, noting that the story of Celeste Beard Johnson reminded me a lot of my husband’s ex wife, and the drama she was visiting on us at the time. I got nightmares after reading that book. You can find my review here; when Epinions.com died, I managed to save some of my old reviews and have put them on my blog.

Last week, I noticed that a lot of people were reading my review of She Wanted It All. I am Facebook friends with Kathryn Casey, and she had posted about how Celeste’s daughters, Jennifer and Kristina, had done an interview for 20/20. I wasn’t able to watch the show because I live in Germany, and I wasn’t home when it aired, anyway. Maybe I’ll see if I can find it on YouTube or iTunes.

Anyway, when I noticed I was getting a bunch of hits on that old book review from the spring of 2007, I did some Internet sleuthing and discovered that last year, Lifetime put out a made for TV movie about Celeste’s story. The movie, Secrets of a Gold Digger Killer (2021), stars Julie Benz, whom I knew from Desperate Housewives. Julie Benz and I are about the same age, but she’s still very attractive. I liked her in other things I’ve seen her in, so I downloaded the movie and watched it yesterday.

One thing it’s important to remember, of course, is that a made for TV movie is really a movie that’s based on a true story. It also requires condensing a story so that it fits in a short timeframe. Celeste Beard’s story is a hell of a lot more complicated than the way it was portrayed in the made for TV movie. I think Julie Benz was a good choice to play Celeste, but the story is a bit watered down, as it would be. What’s kind of sad about it, though, is that Lifetime’s treatment of it is actually kind of campy. That’s too bad, because I think there are a lot of women like Celeste in the world… toxic, money grifting, narcissistic assholes who are not much better than vampires.

The official trailer for the movie… At this writing, someone has also uploaded the whole thing, so you don’t have to pay iTunes to see it.

At the beginning of the movie, Celeste (Benz) is shown flirting with an older man at an Austin, Texas country club, serving him vodka tonics. The lonely old man, Steven Beard, is a wealthy Austin area television mogul. He’s loaded with money, but since his wife died, he has no one to share his good fortune with. Celeste zeroes in on him, putting on the charm, batting her eyes, and quickly convincing him to fall in love with her and let her and her two daughters, Jennifer and Kristina, move in with him. The movie doesn’t explain this, but Jennifer and Kristina are twins, and products of Celeste’s first marriage to Craig Bratcher. She alienated the girls from their father, and they even wound up in foster care a few times, when she couldn’t foist them off on family. Bratcher eventually committed suicide, as Celeste drained her subsequent husbands of money and other resources. When she married Beard, Celeste insisted that he adopt her daughters, although in the film, it looks as if adopting them was Steven’s idea.

She would marry twice more before making Steven Beard her fourth husband. At the beginning of their relationship, Beard was very kind and generous, and he was patient and understanding when Celeste would spend his money recklessly. When he finally got fed up with her crazy spending habits, Beard brought up the “D” word. Celeste responded by threatening suicide, which led to her being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. There, she met Tracey Tarlton, who was an openly lesbian woman with anger issues and a history of depression. She and Celeste became buddies, and later, had a relationship.

Tracey Tarlton is played by Justine Warrington, who gives the character an almost comic treatment. She confesses to Celeste that she got in trouble for hitting an ex lover’s husband with her truck. When Celeste asks her if she really did that, Tracey says, with a conspiratorial giggle, “No… but I thought about it.” It was at that point that I realized how tasteless this adaptation of Beard’s story really is. Lifetime turned it into a salacious tale, seeming to miss that a man who had friends and family members who loved him was killed for Celeste’s selfish agenda.

Celeste talks Tracey into killing Steven Beard. She convinces her that he’s an abusive man who will leave her destitute and alone if they get a divorce. Tracey got it into her head that if Steven Beard was out of the way, she and Celeste could be together and live happily ever after. But after Steven died, Celeste took up with her fifth husband. That was when the real life Tracey spoke up. The movie makes it appear that the girls had talked her into confessing what really happened. Celeste had signed a prenuptial agreement that would have given her $500,000 in the case of divorce. But if Steven died, she’d get half of his fortune, as the other half would go to Steven’s daughter from his first marriage, a woman named Becky (Patricia Harras) who was older than Celeste. In real life, Celeste was 38 years younger than Steven Beard. Julie Benz is clearly older than the real life Celeste was when this was happening in the early 90s. The actors portrayed Celeste and Steven were too close in age.

One thing I noticed was the detective– Detective Rolands– who seems to pronounce the name so that it sounds like “Rawlins”, which made me think that’s a common name for cops and detectives on TV. Every time he referred to himself by name and flashed a snarky look at Celeste, I was reminded of cheesy 70s and 80s era cop shows.

I didn’t think the acting in this movie was particularly good, either. I remember thinking Julie Benz was so beautiful when she was on Desperate Housewives. I thought she was a good actress, too. In this film, she was all gushy and unconvincing. I came away with the idea that she did this movie strictly for the money. It’s not that I really expected a whole lot better from Lifetime TV. Most of the newest movies I’ve seen made by them are pretty terrible on every level, from the quality of acting, to the veracity of the stories presented, to the way certain things are presented, like crime investigations. They bear little resemblance to the truth and aren’t plausible. Some of it probably has to do with the budget and needing attractive people to star. I’m also sure some people like vapid, shallow, forgettable movies rather than detailed stories.

There was a time when they made movies that were of decent quality, but the ones I’ve seen recently have been disappointing. I saw one they made with Judd Nelson in it. I like Judd Nelson as an actor– I grew up in the 80s, after all. But that movie, Girl in the Basement (2021), which was loosely based on the Josef Fritzl story, was also very campy, salacious, and poorly acted. And both of these movies, made for Lifetime TV, barely scratched the surface of the complexity of the stories. In better hands, this could have been a very compelling movie. I would hope it would have been handled with more respect, too. Lifetime treats it almost like it should be a funny story. There’s nothing funny about what Celeste Beard did to Steven Beard, his daughter, or her daughters, who– thankfully– are much better people than she is.

When I reviewed Kathryn Casey’s book, She Wanted it All, my husband was very estranged from his daughters. As time passed, one of his daughters reconnected and has shown us that, like Jennifer and Kristina Beard, she’s a much better caliber of person than her mother is. Sadly, like Jennifer and Kristina, my husband’s daughters were basically turned into servants, serving their mother’s narcissism and need to take everything from everyone close to her. But when I first read about Celeste Beard, I literally had nightmares, because she reminded me so much of Ex. This movie is laughable and silly… just as Ex has become to me… even if she’s still not a laughing matter to her poor daughter, who still takes her seriously, because she’s still her mother, even if she is a lying, narcissistic twit.

I feel like this true crime story should have been treated with a lot more seriousness and respect. If you are truly interested in this story, I would definitely recommend taking the time to read Kathryn Casey’s book. It’s very comprehensive and well-written, and you’ll get the real story, rather than this appalling bullshit that attempts to turn a tragedy into a comedy show. It’s really not funny, and shouldn’t have been turned into a campy Lifetime TV story.

Celeste Beard is currently serving a life sentence, although she will be eligible for parole in 2042. Tracey Tarleton was released from prison in 2011 and has completed her parole. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Standard
Duggars, narcissists, politicians, politics, royals, YouTube

The “red mist”, and family ties that bind… and GAG!

Yesterday was an interesting day. I watched the election results roll in, gratified to see that a lot of people made their opinions regarding women’s rights quite clear. Yes, it’s true that Greg Abbott, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Ron DeSantis won their races, but on the whole, the projected “red wave” turned out to be more like a red misting. Honestly, I don’t understand the lack of situational awareness and common sense some extreme right wingers have.

They thought they’d win because of the current high inflation and the cost of living situation. But why didn’t they consider that when people are having trouble paying their own bills, the LAST thing they’d want to be is pregnant?! Besides the fact that the anti-abortion laws are an obvious affront to privacy and bodily autonomy, having a baby is an expensive and potentially dangerous proposition for most women. Obviously, more people, than the Republicans realized, were mightily pissed off at the intrusion into their private healthcare and family planning decisions, but I’ll bet some of them realized that forcing people to have babies will make life even more expensive.

I wish Texas had gone blue, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Now, it’s time for some repercussions. I suspect some healthcare providers will leave Texas and go somewhere they can practice without draconian laws that punish them for doing their jobs. I suspect a lot of very bright women will leave the state for places where they can make private decisions about their healthcare, family planning, and their own bodily autonomy. I suspect some companies will decide not to operate in Texas, or move out of the state, so that their employees don’t have to deal with Abbott’s disastrous laws. It’s hard to attract good talent when the living conditions in a state are unhealthy or oppressive. The anti abortion laws in Texas are very oppressive, and they are going to kill women.

I do think that eventually, the abortion laws in Texas will have to be relaxed somewhat. But unfortunately, that won’t happen until the public is more outraged, and realizes exactly what they’ve wrought when they force people to have babies they aren’t ready for and/or don’t want. And it will take some deaths, too, when women who are denied timely care during miscarriages or other healthcare crises die or get much sicker… again, both propositions that will ultimately cost more on many levels, financially or otherwise. Sicker patients cost more to treat, and take up more spots in overburdened hospitals. They require more care, and take longer to go back to work. Dead mothers aren’t around to take care of their babies or other children. Eventually, I hope some people will understand these truths. I hope it happens before a lot of people actually find out firsthand. But God forbid someone actually exercise some common sense, right? They’ll get accused of spreading misinformation or cheering for “murdering babies”.

I’ll tell you what. I certainly don’t cheer for abortion, but I think early abortions are preferable to the horrors of babies growing up in violent, abusive, neglectful, alcoholic homes… And I think abortion is less traumatic and cruel than the reality of what too many of today’s children experience, sitting in classrooms or church services, terrified as gun toting lunatics storm through and randomly murder anyone who happens to be in their way or looks at them funny. At least abortion “victims” don’t know what’s coming, and don’t fear death or suffering the way already born victims do.

Anyway… I don’t mean to rant about this again. I’m just glad to see that I’m not the only one who sees why safe access to abortion is very important. I’m glad to know that the silent majority realizes that the pro-birth movement is only a good thing when there aren’t any societal ills to worry about. And Americans know that we have a lot of societal ills to fix before we start requiring all babies to be born. A few days ago, Mama Doctor Jones shared the below video on her YouTube channel… The elections are over, but I still think this is a good video. Hope you’ll watch…

These fools need to be voted out of public office.

So now, what’s up with today’s title? It was inspired as I watched Katie Joy’s video about Jinger Vuolo’s new book, Becoming Free Indeed: My Story of Disentangling Faith from Fear, about escaping Bill Gothard’s IBLP cult. Katie Joy says the Duggar parents are “terrified” that Jinger will expose their secrets and hinder their chances of getting back on TV. I think that’s entirely likely, but Jim Bob and Michelle had to know that one day, their children would be adults. I know they hoped the children would all stay under Jim Bob’s authority, and they did all they could to influence them to make those “choices”, uninformed as they might be. But come on… nineteen children… there’s bound to be some rebels in that group. And of course, there will be at least one “truth teller”, who isn’t going to stay silent about what went on, and still goes on, in that family.

I doubt Jinger’s book will be a super revealing “tell all”, but it’s probably going to be revealing enough to get her shunned by her family for awhile. As for whether or not I’ll be reading it… at this point, I don’t know. I don’t have a burning desire to read a book written by someone who escapes one cult, only to enter another. And while I know Jinger used a ghostwriter, I’m not altogether sure her book is one that’s going to excite me much. I did try to watch her video about it, but aside from liking her outfit, I didn’t find her delivery very compelling. I was reminded of when she was younger, and on the show. She was always the one who smiled, gave two thumbs up, and seemed “happy”, even if it was an act. In her latest video, she didn’t seem like the same person. Her eyes were kind of dead to me. Maybe she’s happier now, but I wasn’t convinced. But I’ve been wrong before. Maybe I’m wrong again. Anyway, if you want to see her video, you can easily find it on YouTube, at least at this writing.

I do think that Jinger should have a voice. She should be free to speak her truth. As a “freedom loving” Republican, her dad should embrace his children’s rights to express themselves. That is one of the top Constitutional rights all Americans are guaranteed. But I guess Republicans only care about the Constitution when it promotes their agendas.

The other book that’s about to come out is Prince Harry’s. His book, Spare, reportedly worries his family. The British Royal Family also has a lot of secrets they’d rather keep, and they worry that Harry’s insights will damage the family’s reputation. There’s been a lot of talk about what will happen when the book is published. Many people think King Charles III will strip Meghan and Harry of their titles, and ostracize them forever. If that happens, I will be sad– mainly about the ostracism, not so much the titles. I feel like Harry and Meghan should not use their titles, if they are going to be living in the United States and not working as royals. But… I also think that if this is the path they’ve chosen, they should have the right to express themselves. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they should have to deal with the consequences of their actions. It just means that they have the right to their own thoughts and expression, as everyone does. The British Royals aren’t wrong to be angry, but neither is Harry.

Will I read Harry’s book? I don’t know. I am a little curious about it… but I have a long list of books to be read, and I feel like some of Harry’s behavior has been pretty bad. I don’t like Meghan Markle. I think she’s a narcissist. For that reason, I feel a little sorry for Harry, because he’s caught in a trap. But I’ve also seen the toxic way narcissists affect their victims and make them unlikeable and unattractive. That’s part of the design. When narcissists get their victims to alienate other people, they prevent them from escaping their clutches. Harry used to be very well liked by people around the world. Now he’s pissed off a lot of people, which means that he has fewer places to go for help and comfort as he gets further stuck in the relationship… and as Meghan continues to devalue him until he’s no longer himself. I know some people don’t see this and will disagree with me. And again, I could be wrong. But I’ve seen this many times… and I’m married to a man who was once married to a narcissist. The signs and symptoms are pretty clear to me, even as I also acknowledge that what I see is only what’s in the media. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors?

Well… it’s going to be a busy day. I’ve got to go get the laundry, walk the dogs, practice guitar, vacuum, and take Arran in for his fifth chemo appointment. After today, he’s going to be more than halfway through his nine week protocol before the chemo appointments are less frequent. He continues to amaze us with his resilience. Yesterday, when I walked him, he demanded to go the long way. A month ago, he could barely manage a short walk, and didn’t want to eat the tempting canned food. Now, he scarfs down kibble, jumps up on the bed, and shows us love. So, I’m going to quit blogging now…

Have a good Thursday. If you’re American, I hope the elections where you are went somewhat the way you hoped they would…

Standard
Bill, narcissists, politicians, politics, social media

Yesterday was tough, and not just because of the elections…

In all of the excitement of Election Day, I forgot to mention that yesterday was significant for other reasons. Last night, Bill reminded me that it was the second anniversary of his father’s death. Because November 2020 was during the height of the COVID pandemic, we were not able to go back to the States for his funeral. Consequently, I think there’s a lot of “processing” that never got done, especially in Bill’s case. Yes, we were keeping an eye on the elections, but last night was more about remembering Bill’s dad, whom Bill loved dearly, but never got the chance to know as well as he should have.

For that reason, it was probably a good thing we weren’t able to see James Taylor. Bill got triggered, because he saw an email from Dignity– the bereavement service where people post obituaries– reminding him about his dad. He got very flustered and scatterbrained after seeing that reminder. Last night, he needed to debrief somewhat. If we’d been at the concert, that wouldn’t have happened. We still don’t know when the show will go on. ETA: November 19th…. So we will come home from France a day early.

We were also pretty tired last night, because Arran was restless on Tuesday morning and kept getting up in the wee hours of the morning for various reasons. He was not so bad last night. I think we only roused once during the night, although I was wide awake at 5:00am. Arran is now napping in his bed in my office, while I wait for the bed sheets to dry. Wednesdays are the days I usually wash them. It’s a pain to wash the sheets, but I always enjoy the rewards of clean, crisp linens on the bed. I look forward to an afternoon nap. 😉

Seriously, y’all… Women in Texas voted for a man who wants to pit neighbor against neighbor over abortion…

I am disappointed that Greg Abbott won another term as Texas governor, although I am not at all surprised. Although there are many bright people who voted blue in the big Texas cities, there are lots of very rigid people living in rural areas who are so very sure that abortions are akin to murder. They don’t seem to care about the already born children of Uvalde who cowered in fear as their classmates and two teachers were slaughtered in front of them. It always amazes me that people want to demonize anyone who needs an abortion for ANY reason– including when they are going to lose their babies due to catastrophic medical events–but they still promote gun rights, even as CHILDREN are murdered in schools.

Ah well… Maybe it’s time I stopped caring about what happens in Texas, even though it’s my “home” state for now. I don’t live there, and at 50, I won’t be bleeding out because I need an abortion for medical reasons. I read three different horror stories within 24 hours about this happening to Texas women. They need medical help, and wind up in New York or Seattle or almost DEAD in Texas hospitals, because the vile and abhorrent Greg Abbott has made abortion pretty much illegal across the board.

I really think what’s going to have to happen to change things is that women are going to have to suffer and die to the extent that the public demands changes. That’s what it took to change things in Ireland, so that women were allowed to make choices about their own bodies. But maybe it’s not my fight. I’m tired of engaging with brain dead, uneducated idiots on this issue, who REFUSE to understand why completely banning abortion is so dangerous and wrong. Like I said, I’m 50… and I don’t have any children. And now, I’m glad about that.

I did try, yesterday, to remind people about this scary and important issue, as they were blaming Democrats for inflation (which isn’t controlled by specific government administrations). One woman accused me of “murdering” 63 million babies (uh… no), totally ignoring that I specifically addressed women who need abortion for HEALTH care reasons. The other accused me of “spreading misinformation”, because Planned Parenthood takes care of women in Texas (uh… no). I turned off notifications for that post and blocked the two idiots, as well as several others who were reminding me of why I’ve been so glad to live in Germany for eight years.

It saddens me that people in America are so rigid and blind, and they can’t even entertain an alternative viewpoint. But– here in our little Wiesbaden suburb, we have community events, complete with wine and lacking in firearms… and I don’t get treated badly for being “foreign”. In fact, Germans have been very welcoming to us, on the whole. Too bad people in the so-called “land of the free” aren’t like that toward people who aren’t citizens.

In other news, Peter Gabriel is going on tour. I almost ordered tickets yesterday, but the Frankfurt show is happening on June 13, a week before my birthday. Bill says he might have to be on a TDY that week. I don’t know that I want to shell out over 900 euros if there’s a chance he can’t go. Peter Gabriel is playing other venues in Europe, of course. It might be a good excuse to visit Cologne again, which is a very nice city and not too far from us. We had a great time there in 2019, when we went there to see the Eagles. Or we could go to Amsterdam and I can have some space cakes, like I did when I turned 43. Germany is now talking about legalizing marijuana, too… which would be great, as far as I’m concerned.

It would have been really nice to see Beto beat Abbott. I didn’t expect it to happen, though. And I see Ron DeSadist won in Florida, which also isn’t a surprise. But now, Trump is threatening him against running for president, because Trump is dying to get back in power so he can become a dictator. I hope the two of them eat each other alive. They are both dirty. And hey, although we’re still stuck with the disgusting Marjorie Taylor Greene, at least the repugnant Lauren Boebert was (probably) defeated. And so was Dr. Oz… so that’s a great thing. The news isn’t all bad…

Anyway, it’s Wednesday, so that means I can watch The Handmaid’s Tale season finale and The Crown. And since it’s a wet, rainy day, it may be perfect for finishing my book and binge watching Netflix… if I don’t fall asleep, that is. So I think I’ll end here, practice guitar, and maybe take a short walk with the dogs… and get on with rotting what’s left of my brain with some television.

A screen grab from the better video of Weird Wilbur’s hit song…

Oh, and before I forget… I dedicate this song to Greg Abbott and every Texan who voted for him… (even though I bet Weird Wilbur voted red, if he managed to stagger to the polls…)

It bears repeating… over and over again.
Standard
healthcare, music, narcissists, politicians

Some people have to experience things personally to understand…

Well, today was the day we were long awaiting, but has already turned out to be disappointing. No, I don’t just mean because it’s Election Day in the United States. That is probably going to be quite a shitshow, because it seems that the United States is firmly polarized as to which direction people want our government to go. It really is distressing to see how many people are so divided over concepts like a woman’s right to make private healthcare decisions and the economy. It’s also sad to see how many truly ignorant, unkind, and unempathic people there are in the United States. We have lots of “nice” people there… but it’s really nothing but a show, isn’t it? MAGA idiots have no empathy for anyone, nor are they long on intelligence or insight.

I’m really starting to dislike them.

Over the past few days, I’ve read several heartbreaking stories from women in Texas who needed to terminate their pregnancies, not because they were careless, but because of catastrophic things going wrong. In the two most recent cases I read about, one four months pregnant woman was advised to terminate because her developing baby boy’s kidneys had failed to develop, and upon further testing it was discovered that he had other fatal conditions that were slowly killing him inside her womb. In that case, the mother ended up flying to New York for an abortion, because doctors in Texas were not allowed to help her in that way without risking legal ramifications.

In the other case, a woman was diagnosed with an incompetent cervix and would inevitably lose the baby girl she had long anticipated. Prior to 2021, her doctors in Texas could have helped her before she became seriously ill with the sepsis that almost killed her, and forced her to spend several days in the ICU. But thanks to Greg Abbott’s barbaric anti abortion law, she had to wait until she was “sick enough” for help. She almost died, and she may never be able to conceive again, due to scarring left by the infections. She has to undergo surgeries and other procedures to repair the damage wrought by willfully incompetent medical care in Texas. How is this happening in 2022? I hope she sues the ever loving fuck out of the hospital and the state for medical malpractice. I hope she sues Greg Abbott, too.

Try to point out these cases to the MAGA morons, though, and you’ll read and hear nothing but bullshit rhetoric about how abortion is “murder”. They pull fake statistics out of their asses, and talk about babies being “dismembered”. They say that 95% of pregnancies don’t involve these kind of catastrophic situations. And, amazingly, these folks– most of whom are MEN– say that the women must be lying, because the law allows medical professionals to help women who need abortions to save their lives. While that may technically be true, I have read multiple stories of pregnant women experiencing complications who were told to wait until they got very sick, even though the physicians know damned well what will happen to them. It’s obvious malpractice. I think the only way this will change is if women die, and lawsuits happen… particularly if the women are young, thin, beautiful, socially prominent, and middle or upper class. Only then can we hope to vote out misogynistic bastards like Greg Abbott and his ilk. Abbott and the rest of the MAGA crowd don’t care about women.

Last night, I tried to explain this to one man who was writing about women “murdering” their babies, and he obviously couldn’t deal with the edification. My guess is that he’s a very narrow minded person with a tiny dick who can’t stand a woman confronting his views. So, after I set him straight again, I told him I hoped none of the female loved ones in his life ever need life saving medical care in Texas when they’re pregnant. Then I wished him a “good one”.

Naturally, because he’s a misogynistic MAGA male, he responded to me, even though I made it clear I was done with the conversation. I didn’t read his response, because he’s made it abundantly obvious what kind of a horrible, ignorant person he is. I know I sound angry in this paragraph, but my initial comment to him was not written in anger. I was sincerely trying to point out the fact that all women of childbearing age are at risk in Texas, because of these laws. It’s not just women who got pregnant and don’t want to be. It’s also women who desperately want their babies, but will suffer health consequences if they don’t terminate. At the time I made my comment, I hoped that he at least cares about the women of childbearing age in his family. But, I guess he doesn’t. Maybe he just needs this issue to affect his loved ones personally, before the significance of completely banning abortion will be clear to him. Maybe one of his female loved ones needs a bonafide brush with death, or severe illness, before the truth about how dangerous these bans are finally knocks him in the head. And I hope he’s the one who has to pay the medical bills, too.

I am still a Texas voter. Bill and I sent our ballots weeks ago. We both voted straight blue. I know we aren’t the only ones, but I fear that Texas is full of stupid MAGA creeps who love Trump more than they do the women in their lives. And they aren’t bright enough to understand that the economy isn’t completely controlled by the president, nor is inflation an issue that only affects Americans. They also want to conflate abortion with COVID vaccines. The sheer stupidity of it really makes me sick. There was a time not so long ago that the two main parties in the United States weren’t THAT different. At least the candidates were, on the surface, basically decent and respectable. But Donald Trump has ruined the Republican Party. I only hope that his influence causes them to eat each other alive.

Anyway… that’s about all I want to say about the election. I truly am mostly worried about women’s rights to make private healthcare decisions and their ability to access timely abortions whenever they want or need them. I think it’s very important on many levels. I wouldn’t want to bring a baby into the world as it is today. Fortunately, it’s not an issue for me anymore. I won’t be having any babies. I always wanted kids, but now I thank God my family line will die with me. And the more this dystopian version of the United States, and the world, persists, the more I hope I can peace out of here sooner, rather than later. In fact, that’s one of the main reasons I avoid seeing doctors myself.

Now, onto the reason why today is already disappointing. We were supposed to see James Taylor perform tonight. Bill and I have second row seats. Unfortunately, yesterday afternoon, last night’s and tonight’s shows were postponed, because someone in the band got COVID. This concert was originally supposed to happen in February 2022, but that show was also postponed due to COVID– that time, because the illness as a whole was too prevalent. This time, it’s because someone in the band is sick. Bill just got over COVID himself, so I can see why this happened. It still sucks. I’m not as upset about it as some people are, though. I think a lot of people are just totally over COVID and everything that goes with it, even though people are still getting sick. If we still lived in Stuttgart, we would have seen James. That show, which happened on Saturday night, did go on as planned.

It’s probably just as well that the show won’t go on tonight, because we didn’t get much sleep last night. Arran kept getting up, wanting food, needing to pee, and drinking water. He got up three times early this morning. I know Bill is going to be really tired this evening, so it’s probably better that we’ll be home this evening. Hopefully, James won’t reschedule the concert for when we’re in France next week. I doubt that will happen, though, since his shows next week are in Scandinavia. I can’t see him bringing his band and all that goes with it down here for shows in Zurich and Frankfurt for a couple of days next week. The funny thing is, now Arran is curled up in bed, sleeping. Why he can suddenly sleep after we’re up is a mystery. We do love him, and this is a temporary thing… Soon enough, we’ll be missing him. Bill will be especially heartbroken.

Anyway… I hold out some hope that more people will vote for decency than money. Because if they vote for money, they’ll find out that once those people are in power, their money will soon no longer be their money. MAGA leaders don’t want to see ordinary people with any money. They like to keep as many regular people down as possible. Not allowing women access to abortions or birth control is one way of keeping them down. Frankly, I think it would serve these male MAGA assholes right if women just stopped having sex with them. They should just be forced to exclusively masturbate from now on.

Sorry… that’s crass, but I’m tired and feeling a bit pessimistic. Hopefully, things will improve as the day wears on… but I ain’t gonna hold my breath.

Standard
Biden, money, politicians, politics, YouTube

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standard