condescending twatbags, healthcare, Military, obits, politicians, politics, poor judgment, stupid people

Another Republican politician dies of COVID-19. It’s like watching Darwinism in real time…

Last night, after I played my latest solo project for Bill, I took a gander at the news. There it was… another sad news story about a “freedom fighter” dying of COVID-19, years before her time. This time, the deceased was one of my contemporaries, 46 year old Kelly Ernby, who was a “rising star” in conservative politics in California.

Ms. Ernby was a political newcomer and served as the Deputy District Assistant Attorney in Orange County. Two years ago, she ran for an Orange County state Assembly seat as a Republican candidate, challenging Newport Beach Mayor Diane Dixon in the primaries. Ernby lost to Dixon, who then lost to Democrat Cottie Petrie-Norris.

In spite of losing the election, Ernby remained passionate about politics. Before the pandemic, Ernby was especially riled up about a California state law that tightened immunization rules for children in school. According to the Los Angeles Times, Erby said at the time:

“I don’t think that the government should be involved in mandating what vaccines people are taking,” she said. “I think that’s a decision between doctors and their patients…. If the government is going to mandate vaccines, what else are they going to mandate?”

More recently, Ernby was fighting COVID-19 vaccine mandates. On December 4, 2021, Ernby spoke publicly outside the Irvine City Hall against vaccine mandates at a rally organized by a group called Turning Point USA, which has chapters at the University of California, Irvine and California State University, Fullerton. The Los Angeles Times reports that the event drew “dozens”… which may be impressive, given it was California.

Ernby, who was the daughter of Navy veterans, said “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now…” She also compared the vaccine mandates to so-called 1960s era “socialist ideals”, claiming that requiring people to be vaccinated is a violation of their civil rights. I would submit that freedom is totally useless when you’re dead.

I think she should have been paying more attention to what was going on in her own backyard. If she spent any time in Norway, she might have noticed that Europeans, as a whole, are more community minded than Americans are, and less selfish. Also, Norway is not nearly as populated and has a very different medical system. It’s interesting that she was a Republican, but looked favorably at a country with universal healthcare coverage as a model to emulate.

Kelly Ernby, who was unvaccinated, is now dead, and leaves a grieving husband, who has been speaking out against conservative wingnuts who are falsely claiming that his wife died because she was vaccinated. After Ernby’s death was announced, seemingly left-leaning trolls flooded Ernby’s Facebook and Twitter accounts with laughing reactions and mocking comments. They did the same to Ernby’s husband. Mattias Axel Ernby’s social media accounts are now being hammered with comments from people on either side of the spectrum. Lefties are laughing about her death, while right wingers are promoting ridiculous conspiracy theories. It’s a fucking circus and a disgrace.

It’s too bad she wasn’t vaccinated. I have read that Kelly Ernby was a somewhat sensible Republican. She might have done some real good.

I don’t think it’s funny that Kelly Ernby died. I think it’s sad, and it was probably preventable. If she had been vaccinated, she probably wouldn’t have gotten so sick that she died at just 46 years old. I think it’s shameful that such an obviously bright and articulate woman didn’t take COVID-19 seriously enough to save herself and get a safe, effective vaccination. I think it’s sad that her widower now has to deal with Internet assholes who are taking this opportunity to harass him, when they should show him basic respect and leave him alone so he can grieve.

After I read about Kelly Ernby’s unfortunate death, I saw another article run by the Army Times about how the Navy has been blocked from acting against 35 sailors who refused COVID vaccines on “religious grounds”. A federal judge in Texas has granted a primary injunction against Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s decision to make COVID vaccines mandatory. Although servicemembers can theoretically refuse to get vaccinated for religious or other grounds, no one who has applied for an exception to policy has been granted the waiver. So Justice Reed O’Connor, who was appointed by former President George W. Bush, wrote:

“The Navy servicemembers in this case seek to vindicate the very freedoms they have sacrificed so much to protect… The COVID-19 pandemic provides the government no license to abrogate those freedoms. There is no COVID-19 exception to the First Amendment. There is no military exclusion from our Constitution.”

Again, to Judge O’Connor, I would say that freedom is pretty useless when a person is dead. I have never served in the military, but I have been around military folks my whole life. One thing I know is that the people who sued for the right to skip COVID vaccines should probably start looking for new work. I think their careers are over now. Of course, I could be wrong… but I doubt I am. The Army Times continued:

O’Connor wrote that they objected to being vaccinated on four grounds: “opposition to abortion and the use of aborted fetal cell lines in development of the vaccine; belief that modifying one’s body is an affront to the Creator; divine instruction not to receive the vaccine, and opposition to injecting trace amounts of animal cells into one’s body.”

“Plaintiffs’ beliefs about the vaccine are undisputedly sincere, and it is not the role of this court to determine their truthfulness or accuracy,” the judge wrote.

What I do know is that the military depends on the concept of “readiness”, which means that everyone has to be “ready” to deploy anywhere in the world. The last place an unvaccinated person needs to be is on a ship or a submarine, with super tight quarters and no access to medical facilities. We also know that COVID-19 spreads faster than a hooker’s legs. So a COVID positive person on a ship, in a tank, or an airplane, or any of the other tight spots where servicemembers typically operate, would be potentially disastrous.

Vaccines are just part of military and government service life. They were part of my Peace Corps experience, too. I had to get MANY shots to serve in Armenia, and I still came home with a nasty bug that took three courses of very strong antibiotics to get rid of permanently. I don’t know what these sailors have been doing over the course of their careers, but I’d love to know how COVID-19 can be exempted on religious grounds, when they clearly had no issues with the other shots they no doubt had to receive.

I went to the comment section, because I noticed a lot of gleeful laughter and love reactions. Sure enough, the first comment was by a guy who claimed that vaccines don’t work. He based his comment on the fact that vaccinated and boosted people are still getting infected. One lone brave man made a comment challenging him. I decided to chime in too, even though I usually regret communicating with certain military types, because a lot of them are ignorant and don’t appreciate “uppity women” like me. In fact, I noticed that the guy did respond to me, but I chose to ignore him completely, because I was about to go to bed.

What I wrote was that the vaccines are intended to prevent people from getting seriously ill. They are to keep people out of the hospitals so that folks with chronic diseases can still access care and the poor doctors and nurses who have to take care of the sick and dying can get a respite. I will admit I was a little testy in my response, mentioning that people who think they know more than scientists do are DYING, and many of them are pitifully BEGGING for the vaccines before they go. And then I linked the story about Kelly Ernby, who is just the latest Republican “anti-vaxxer victim” who has succumbed to COVID-19.

As much as I dislike it when people behave irresponsibly or ignorantly, I don’t take any pleasure in reading or hearing about people dying of COVID-19, alone, and gasping for breath or waiting to be intubated. I don’t laugh at people who die because they are stubborn or willfully ignorant. I think it’s tragic, and I feel sad for the people left behind when these folks refuse to behave in a sensible, community-minded, responsible manner. And I especially feel sad for the medical personnel who have to stand by, exhausted and defeated, while another one of their patients dies in front of them.

After I wrote my response to the snarky servicemember, who probably answered me in the style of “Slow down there, ‘Dependa'”, it occurred to me that people like Kelly Ernby and her ilk have the LUXURY of speaking out about “optional” vaccines because generations before them did their parts and got vaccinated. Diseases that used to be much deadlier, like polio, smallpox, diphtheria, measles, influenza, cholera, malaria, anthrax, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and so forth, no longer kill as many people as they once did. And so, people like Kelly Ernby have no concept of how terrible communicable diseases can be, and how they can KILL innocent people, or cause permanent disabilities.

A few years ago, before COVID struck, I wrote a post about how a politician was promoting an episode of The Brady Bunch as an example of how “not serious” the measles is. Honestly, some politicians are truly stupid. Ignoring the fact that The Brady Bunch was, in no way, akin to real life, I suggest that anyone who thinks measles can’t be very serious and wants to use a 70s era sitcom as “proof”, first take a look at a 2001 episode of ER called “A Walk in the Woods” for a different perspective on how measles can affect and kill children. Yes, it’s true that many people don’t get that sick from measles, but it can and does make some people very sick and cause premature death. That’s why we’ve had a vaccine against it for so many years.

I’m against government overreach, as a basic rule, but when it comes to communicable diseases, particularly the kinds that are as deadly as COVID has proven to be, I definitely think that one person’s freedom of bodily autonomy ends where another person’s begins. And until COVID mutates to something less harmful, I do agree with vaccine mandates affecting those who can take the shots. It’s a matter of life and death for some people.

And as much as I don’t want to see Republican fringed nutjobs like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert in charge, I also don’t enjoy seeing people die of their own stupidity. I really hope some of these folks wise up and learn a lesson from people like Kelly Ernby. Unfortunately, it takes personal experience to change the hearts and minds of people who can’t see beyond their own pride. Isn’t it interesting that so many Republicans are supposedly devout Christians, but they still haven’t learned a very basic proverb– “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.” Let’s hope a few Republicans stop applying for Darwin Awards before they go completely extinct.

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ethics, law, obits, religion

Sarah Weddington’s death brings out the pro-life trolls…

Sarah Weddington has just died. She was 76 years old, and had been in poor health. Nowadays, some people might think that 76 is kind of young for a person to die, but Sarah Weddington had already made history by the time she was 26. She definitely led a full and impressive life, even if pro-lifers don’t think so.

Back in 1971, Sarah Weddington was a recent law school graduate from Texas who was having trouble finding work because she was a woman. That year, having never before tried a case, she and her co-counsel, Linda Coffee, began presenting arguments on what would eventually be a landmark victory that gave American women the right to have an abortion. The two went before the Supreme Court, and on January 22, 1973, the court ruled that a Texas state law banning abortion except to save the life of the mother was unconstitutional. Weddington’s work on Roe v. Wade was groundbreaking, and whether or not pro-life advocates want to admit it, that law has actually saved a lot of lives.

Weddington got involved with Roe v. Wade because she was friends with women who were helping university students and others find doctors who would illegally perform abortions, or directing them to countries were abortions were legal. One of the women involved with this effort asked Ms. Weddington if she knew if they could be held liable, and prosecuted as accomplices. Weddington did not know the answer to that question, but said she would research the matter for free.

That was when she got in touch with Linda Coffee, who was a fellow University of Texas law school graduate, and had more experience in the matter. It was 1969, and Coffee was representing Norma Jean McCorvey, a homeless woman who was seeking an abortion. In December 1969, Coffee wrote Weddington a letter, asking if she’d like to join forces as co-counsel for McCorvey’s case. The two met a couple months later. and the wheels of progress toward women’s reproductive choice in the United States began to turn.

It was in December 13, 1971 that Weddington and Coffee began to plead their case to the highest court in the USA. Weddington was a star who enjoyed the public stage. Linda Coffee, while brilliant, was not as impressive to look at and didn’t enjoy the limelight as much. According to The New York Times, Coffee could come off looking “bedraggled”, and Weddington was younger and prettier. She had blonde hair and blue eyes, which in those days, apparently made her more “optically appealing”. In those days, maybe being “pretty” was considered especially important for women. Come to think of it, sadly, not that much has changed in that regard. But at least in 2021, more of us recognize how wrong and unfair that mindset is.

But Sarah Weddington’s life wasn’t just about Roe v. Wade. She was a person in her own right, a woman who pioneered in a profession that typically favored men. She was a young woman at a time when women were expected to stay home, raise babies, and be help meets to their husbands. She chose to become a lawyer instead, which says something about her intellect, courage, and tenacity. One would think that people might respect her for the person she was, rather than just focus on her impressive landmark work on Roe v. Wade.

Of course I know that expecting people to be decent is probably hoping for too much. Weddington’s death has brought out the pro-lifers, who feel the need to voice their objections to allowing people to choose whether or not they wish to be pregnant and give birth. They love to bring up cardiac activity in a 22 day old embryo as a sign of life that should be respected. And yet, these same people so often have very little regard for people who have already been born, nor do they seem to give two craps about providing access to affordable and high quality healthcare to the people who are gestating those potential lives that are so sacred to them. One man wrote this:

…a fetus is not a baby…but it is a human life. It’s a separate being, with its own unique human DNA. That’s why there is such passion from the pro-life side of this debate…and why the pro-choice side is loathe to concede the humanity of the fetus.

I started to write the below response to the man who brought up the “humanity” of a developing fetus. I looked on his Facebook page. I see that he’s a fireman, and has probably saved a lot of lives. I commend him for doing that work. I do wonder, however, if he’s thought about what happens to the people he saves… I’m sure it feels good to help someone escape a burning building. But once they’re out of the building, then what?

Does he simply vote for “pro-life” candidates, even if they’re all about gun rights and keeping healthcare outrageously expensive? Does he support making birth control more accessible and affordable? Does he vote for paid time off for new parents? Affordable and accessible childcare? Affordable housing? Work policies that make it possible for people to raise their children? But anyway, I did not post the comment below, because I didn’t want to argue with a stranger, and I figured it wouldn’t make a difference, anyway, except to rally the like-minded.

Why don’t you have more regard for the people who have already been born and will be affected by the burden of gestating that potential life? Do you make it a policy to vote for leaders who want to make healthy pregnancies, anti-violence, affordable healthcare access, and family friendly work policies a priority? Or are you just concerned about saving that *potential* human life who has no concept of life or death?  

I don’t think most people who are vehemently pro-life actually care about other people. If they did, they might consider why a person might feel the need to make that decision and why it’s very personal and not any of their business. A person who feels the need to terminate a pregnancy may have very painful and personal reasons for making that decision. Many pro-life people care only about their religious convictions, and they want to impose their beliefs on everyone else.  

More often than not, it seems to me that MEN who are upset about abortion are really just angry that this is a decision that women can make without their input. They don’t think it’s fair. Well, a lot of women don’t think it’s fair when men have their fun in bed, but don’t actually do anything to support that *potential* life they’ve helped create. It’s not their name on the doctor’s bills. It’s not their body that is forever changed and potentially harmed by pregnancy. It’s not their life that is potentially upended.  

Unless you are the type of pro-life person who advocates for real change in US policies that support positive changes all of those babies being born, I’m not too concerned about your opinions regarding “humanity”. It’s sad that 50 years on, we’re still arguing about what should be a fundamental right for all pregnant people.  

According to The New York Times obituary, Sarah Weddington isn’t just a lawyer who argued for women’s rights to choose abortion. She was also herself the recipient of an abortion. In 1968, having recently graduated from law school, after having earned a college degree a couple of years ahead of the usual schedule, Weddington, who was then dating her husband, Ron Weddington, got pregnant. The two went to Mexico, where the former Sarah Ragle had a safe and legal abortion.

When she and Ron came back from Mexico, Sarah realized that she was very fortunate to have been able to get an abortion. Many pregnant people of that time period were not so lucky. Sarah became aware of women who had done terrible things to themselves in an attempt to abort. She wrote in the Texas Monthly in 2003:

I had had an abortion myself, during my last year in law school. I was not as sophisticated as I should have been about preventing pregnancy. I was seriously dating the man I later married, Ron Weddington, but I was determined to finish law school, and I wanted to put Ron through law school. There were a lot of considerations. And so we decided to have an abortion. You couldn’t look in the phone book then, but Ron found a name of an abortion doctor through a friend. We made an appointment and drove to Mexico. I will never forget following a man in a white guayabera shirt down an alley, and Ron and I having no idea where we were headed. I can still remember going under the anesthetic and then waking up later in a hotel room with Ron. Driving back I felt fine; I didn’t have any complications. But it made me appreciate what other women went through, who did not have someone to go with them or did not have the money to pay for a medically safe abortion, as I did.

Later, I heard stories of women who had not been so lucky. Some had beaten their own abdomens or jumped down stairs to try to induce an abortion. Others had eaten mixtures of chemicals and cleaning products. I’ll never forget seeing a photograph of a woman lying on a black-and-white checkered bathroom floor who had died from having an illegal abortion. Doctors told me about women whom they had seen hemorrhaging or in shock or with infections, who had stuffed all kinds of things into their uteruses because they were desperate to have abortions.

Don’t “pro-life” people care about the women who feel so desperate to have abortions that they’re willing to do things like take poison, stab themselves with coat hangers, or go to “butchers” who render them sterile, make them sick with infection, or even kill them? Don’t these people, so passionate about the “sanctity of life” and the “humanity” of developing embryos, give two shits about the situations facing the people whose personal situations don’t lend themselves to being pregnant? And who gets to decide when a person’s life is “threatened” enough that abortion becomes okay? And why should those situations be anyone else’s business?

Sadly, a lot of religious “pro-lifers” think that Sarah Weddington is now burning in Hell. One man commented thusly on Weddington’s obituary:

No, we’re not delighting in her passing. We’re simply stating that she will probably spend eternity with the Prince of Darkness. Even after her evil actions before the court, she could have repented and asked for forgiveness. I highly doubt she did either.

What the fuck?

I think about “Christian” people like Jim Bob Duggar, who recently lost his bid to become an Arkansas State Senator. His time as a reality star offers a treasure trove of proof of what religious people actually think about other people. Mr. Duggar’s wife, Michelle, famously counseled their daughter, Jill, to be “joyfully available” when Jill’s husband wanted sex, even if Jill was “big pregnant” and didn’t feel like having sex. Michelle told us all that being sexually available to her husband is a woman’s lot in life, and that no one else could righteously fulfill that need, other than a man’s wife.

Jim Bob and Michelle now, of course, have a son named Josh who is sitting in jail, awaiting sentencing for getting his sexual “needs” fulfilled illegally. Their son apparently didn’t get the message that his sexual “needs” should only be fulfilled by his wife– not that Anna hasn’t done her share. Jim Bob stated that he thinks rapists should be executed. I wonder if he’d like to start with his son, Josh… who was once a “precious” embryo in Michelle’s womb. Granted, even Josh has “value”, I guess. He is the father of seven, after all, and I’m sure his children deserve all the regard that any born person deserves. Life is about to get even harder for those kids and their mother, though…

I find it curious that Jim Bob Duggar, who is apparently so concerned about the rights of the unborn, thinks that already born people are expendable and should be executed for any reason… and that being truly “pro-life” can co-exist with also being “pro-gun”. Guns are literally devices that are intended to wound or KILL living beings, all of whom I assume were God’s blessings to someone or something.

As disgusted as I am about Michelle Duggar’s comments about being “joyfully available”, I also wonder how many times she felt forced to have sex with Jim Bob, a man with chronic halitosis and poor social graces, because his dick was stirring. And how much attention did Jim Bob pay to Michelle’s menstrual cycles, so he could force her to pop out as many of “God’s blessings” as humanly possible?

Seriously–there are men who are like this. Some of them even work(ed) for the federal government. And a lot of these men– many of whom vote for pro-life Republicans and screech about small governments and their personal liberties– don’t seem to realize that not so long ago, there were some communist countries that were all about forced birthing. And there are some countries where a woman can wind up in prison because she had a miscarriage. That doesn’t sound very “freedom-loving” to me. But even those countries are starting to understand that this is a decision that should be up to the person directly involved with being pregnant, not governments, law enforcement agencies, or MEN who will never have to face being pregnant.

The bottom line is that Sarah Weddington did a huge serve to many women when she took on the fight to allow women to choose. No one is forced to have an abortion in the United States. It’s a CHOICE. And it’s a choice that should be private, involving only the person who is directly involved in the pregnancy.

Whatever the pro-life men think of Sarah Weddington’s marvelously courageous work on allowing women to choose abortion, I think she was a brave and incredible person, and there was so much more to her life than Roe v. Wade, although that was VERY important work. She was a teacher, a traveler, and a brilliant woman who fought for other women. She has no reason to ask forgiveness for the very important work she did.

It’s too bad that some people think she’s gone to Hell, simply because she didn’t have the same views about religion that they do. More often now than ever before, it’s clear to me that a lot of religious people aren’t actually very good people, when it comes down to it. They care more about their “holy book” and religious platitudes than actually helping people. At least Sarah Weddington did not live to see the day when her work was ruined by Donald Trump’s stacked Supreme Court and so-called “freedom loving men” who only care about freedom for wealthy white people with dicks.

May Sarah Weddington rest in eternal peace. I’m sure wherever she is now, it’s better than down here.

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family, healthcare, musings

COVID-19 has made some people MEAN… but one tragic story has given me the gift of perspective today.

I have been trying to make an effort to rant less about COVID-19, even though cases are rising in Germany again. I haven’t been in Germany since October 26th. We’re headed back there tomorrow. I look forward to going home and starting my travel series. I also look forward to seeing our dogs, whom I’ve really been missing… I think dogs are much better companions than most people are. At least they don’t judge people for getting sick, or parents for losing their children.

A few days ago, I read a post on the Recovery from Mormonism message board. It was posted by a popular board participant named Dave the Atheist. I’ve noticed that he’s been posting many articles about COVID-19, even though they’re technically off-topic. I don’t engage with Dave the Atheist much, although I’ve noticed he has a tendency to be kind of “salty”.

In any case, the story Dave posted was about a Texas mother named Amber McDaniel, who had to make the heartbreaking choice between having her 10 year old son, Zyrin Foots’s, arms and legs amputated, and an eye removed, or letting him pass away. Amber’s sister, Ashley Engmann, explained on a GoFundMe page that Zyrin contracted COVID, which weakened his immune system and made him vulnerable to other illnesses. Zyrin then contracted another virus, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and experienced a rare and devastating COVID related complication called MIS-C, or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, that caused inflammation in his heart.

Due to all of these medical complications, Zyrin’s heart was unable to pump blood adequately to the rest of his body. He developed gangrene in his legs. Doctors eventually told Zyrin’s mother that the only thing they could do for her child was amputate his legs, one of his arms, and remove an eye. Even if they did that, Zyrin only had a 25 percent chance of living. But if they didn’t amputate, Zyrin would surely die.

After considering what it would be like for Zyrin’s recovery, if she decided to allow the surgeries, Amber decided to let her son die. Zyrin Foots passed on October 13, 2021, having been on life support since September 30th.

I don’t know a thing about this family, other than what I’ve read in the news and the GoFundMe campaign. I know a lot of people are jaded about fundraisers. I guess I can’t blame them for that. However, I was shocked and dismayed when I read a comment from someone on RfM that was something along the lines of “the mom will be fine” and “she still won’t get vaccinated.”

I don’t usually respond to those kinds of comments, especially on RfM. But, for some reason, I couldn’t help myself. I wrote a comment pointing out that based only on the article linked in the post, there’s no way to know how Zyrin got the virus. He lived in Huntsville, Texas, where mask and vaccine mandates aren’t popular. I did find another article that went more in depth into Zyrin’s story, written by journalist, Peter Holley. Actually, after reading the more in depth story in Texas Monthly magazine, I feel even more compassion for Amber McDaniel and her family, no matter what her stance is on COVID-19 and vaccines.

Making this situation even more heartbreaking is the fact that Zyrin was not Amber McDaniel’s first loss. Eight years ago, when she was 26 years old and six months pregnant with her third son, Zekiah, Amber was hit by a truck. Amber lost Zekiah, and she was left permanently disabled and unable to work. In that accident, Amber lost the use of her right hand and was left with one leg shorter than the other. For months, she was fed through a tube. She can’t drive, although she walks everywhere she can. She now only has one living son, nine year old Zaiden, and no insurance coverage to help pay for the massive medical and funeral bills.

I know people are tired of COVID-19, and they’re fed up with entitled attitudes from people who refuse to get vaccinated and deny the existence of the pandemic. I understand that it’s frustrating when people won’t cooperate to arrest this sickness so we can all go back to a more normal life. I just don’t understand why someone would respond to this story with so much anger and vitriol toward someone they presumably don’t even know… someone who had already suffered tremendous loss and tragedy even before COVID-19 existed.

Pastor Philip A. Hagans, a father of four, has been supporting McDaniels and her family as they cope with losing Zyrin in such a horrifying way. He’s mentioned in the Texas Monthly article I linked. From Peter Holley’s article:

A few days after Zyrin’s passing, Hagans, a father of four boys who range from seven to seventeen years old, told me he was struggling with the child’s death, not just because he was sad, but also because he was frustrated. Huntsville had always been the kind of place, he said, where people looked out for one another. But that same thoughtfulness didn’t seem to extend to concerns about COVID-19, even though Walker County has experienced nearly 12,000 cases and lost 181 residents to the virus. Some Huntsville residents were still not masking around vulnerable neighbors and family members. Others, he said, were sending kids to school with COVID-19 symptoms because it was more convenient than keeping them at home. That selfish behavior, he said, may have gotten Zyrin killed, and Hagans couldn’t understand it. “I chose to keep my kids home when they tested positive for COVID, and yes, it interrupted my schedule and my wife’s schedule,” Hagans said. “But I’d rather do that than allow them to get someone else sick whose body can’t bounce back and they end up losing their life like Zyrin—all because I didn’t want to miss work? That’s a disgrace.” 

It’s not just in Huntsville, Texas where people have become mean-spirited, disrespectful, and selfish. This attitude has been spreading for the past several years, but it seems to have gotten worse in the Trump era. Perfect strangers assume the worst about someone based on things like their political beliefs or tragedies that affect them. Social media makes it worse, of course. It’s so much easier now to read a story about someone and make assumptions about their choices or their characters. Everybody does it, including me.

Reading about Zyrin Foots has made me wish for a time when it was much harder to get bad news. On the other hand, his story has also made me stop and ponder my own attitudes about things. In fact, just now, Bill came back from picking up croissants at the grocery store. He discovered that there aren’t any napkins or paper towels in the kitchen of our guest house, and was grumbling about using toilet paper instead. It struck me as ridiculous that he was complaining about that, even though Bill is generally a much kinder and more considerate person than I am. So I just explained to him that, right now, having read this story about Amber McDaniel and the horrifying choice she had to make, I wasn’t in a place in which I could really complain about a lack of paper towels. The fact is, we’ve been on a marvelous vacation together, and we are so lucky on so many levels.

In any case, it’s hard for me to imagine that so much tragedy was in the cards for someone… but I have known other people who have dealt with similarly tragic and horrible events in their lives. I often forget their stories when I’m faced with inconveniences or annoyances, or when I am feeling depressed or anxious. But even as I write this, I realize that it’s probably fleeting insight. Because I know that I might soon forget this story and complain about traffic, or a lack of paper towels, or the fact that I hate to vacuum. When it comes down to it, petty annoyances are just that.

As for Amber McDaniel and the choice she made, I think ultimately, she did the kindest and most humane thing should could do in this situation. In the unlikely event that her son had lived, he would have spent the rest of his life battling horrific health problems. And those problems, I’m sad to say, would have been a tremendous burden to his already highly burdened family, as well as to Zyrin himself.

Imagine being ten years old, having been perfectly healthy and brimming with promise, with dreams of one day being a great chef. Then, thanks to a novel virus, you’re left unable to walk, use your arms, see clearly, or go to the restroom without help. Think about the effect that would have had on every aspect of that child’s life, and his future. I know not everyone would see it the way I do… plenty of people have these lofty ideas that people with such severe and devastating disabilities can somehow overcome them and be an inspiration to others. I know that sometimes, that does happen. But the chances of it happening were definitely not in this child’s favor. Either way, death was in Zyrin’s future, just as it is in every person’s future.

Add in the fact that Amber McDaniel is herself significantly disabled and lacks resources… and she lives in a state where people aren’t all that interested in helping the poor and unlucky. Texas is also a grotesquely pro life state, to the point at which it has even forced a pregnant woman in a coma to be kept on life support, though the developing fetus was significantly deformed and would not have survived, even if he had been delivered.

It must have seemed like a heart-wrenching decision for Amber McDaniel to let her beloved son go. And yet, practically speaking, it probably was the best decision she could make. Because if Zyrin had lived, life would have been significantly more difficult for him, and everyone in his sphere, including his nine year old brother. Sometimes, death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.

Anyway… I decided to write about this story because I had read that nasty comment on RfM. As someone who has a tendency toward depression, it really disheartens me to read flippant comments from people who make the worst assumptions about those who have suffered loss or misfortune. It seems like so many people want to assume that anyone who is unlucky somehow deserves it. I even saw that attitude last year, when Jonny, our would-be new dog, escaped his pet taxi and got hit by a car. I never even had a chance to pet him before he was gone. People judged me personally for making that comment, and for the fact that he escaped. They didn’t know the facts, nor did they know me. They just judged… although, to the credit of the German people, once I explained things more fully to the ones who were blaming Bill and me, they came around.

I would like to hope that people might come around in this case and not judge Amber McDaniel for anything. Whatever her opinions were about COVID-19 before this happened, I’m sure they are forever changed now. And regardless, she has suffered profound losses that the vast majority of us will never have to try to fathom. I think she deserves all of the grace in the world, especially right now. I wish her nothing but peace and comfort.

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narcissists, politics, poor judgment, stupid people

Jenna Ryan is soon to be off to the pokey, and she’s bitter. Someone should tell her, “Pride goeth before the fall.”

Justice has finally been delivered to Jenna Ryan, the blonde real estate broker from Frisco, Texas (near Dallas) who flew on a private jet to Washington, DC and bragged about taking part in the insurrection on January 6th. I wrote about Jenna a few times last spring and I’ve noticed some folks hitting those links. So, even though we need to pack up our stuff and get on the road to our final vacation spot of Salzburg, Austria, I’m going to take a few minutes to opine about her upcoming sixty day prison stint.

First off, I want to remind my regular readers that I am truly not a big fan of incarceration, particularly for non-violent offenses. I’m the one who famously wrote a few unpopular blog posts about Skylar Mack, the pretty blonde teenager who went to the Cayman Islands and flouted COVID rules. Many people thought Skylar should sit in jail for four months, thinking about what she’d done, which really just amounted to disrespecting local laws, since she wasn’t actually sick with COVID. So many people commented that Skylar was a “spoiled brat” and needed to do time, locked up abroad, cuz’ that would “learn her” about obeying the rules. I was against Skylar having to rot for four months and wrote several times about it. I was glad when her sentence was reduced.

I remember that Jenna Ryan’s case began while Skylar’s was still in the news… and, even though Jenna Ryan technically didn’t hurt anyone when she took her jaunt to DC in January, I found her behavior much more offensive than I did Skylar’s. Jenna is in her 50s, and is supposedly a successful business person. She must have known very well that storming the Capitol building wasn’t going to be legal. And then she bragged on social media about doing that.

When she got arrested, Jenna made a point of predicting that she’d never spend time behind bars. Why? Because she’s blonde, had a “great” job, and has “white skin”. Then she attempted to crowdfund her legal fees, later claiming that she didn’t even need the money, but wanted contributors to be “blessed” by God.

Well, the chickens have finally come home to roost, and Ryan is going to have to do some time. The judge in her case has given Jenna Ryan sixty days. I read in the above link that she doesn’t have to report to prison until after the New Year. I also noticed that she seems somewhat less interested in interacting with the public. Below is her Twitter reaction to the sentence.

Pathetic… no wonder Donald Trump didn’t pardon her. What a loser.

I don’t blame Jenna for not wanting to talk to anyone about this outcome. Being sentenced to sixty days in lockup, after you’ve bragged about never having to go, is embarrassing and humiliating. But honestly, I don’t know why she didn’t see it coming. Oh wait… yes, I do know. Jenna Ryan is yet another person who seems very narcissistic. I don’t know for certain that she is, since we’ve never met, but I do think she shows all the classic signs. In fact, if I were looking for clues that someone might be a narcissist, I might think of Jenna on television, pleading for a pardon from Donald Trump, and then going on Twitter, arrogantly predicting that she was only going to get a slap on the wrist for her part in the insurrection. She really brought this on herself on all levels.

I also notice that Jenna’s attitude toward interacting with the public has changed significantly. Below is her tweeted excuse for why she’s going to be incarcerated.

Notice that she’s limited who can reply. In one sense, I can understand why she’s limited replies. I, myself, have turned off comments on older posts. Nasty comments aren’t fun to read. On the other hand, this is quite a change from last spring, when she was happily taking on all comers. Someone should remind Jenna that “pride goeth before the fall.”

I’m sure that Jenna Ryan is quite familiar with smear campaigns. She’s probably engaged in a few herself. The above tweet amounts to a pathetic excuse for her ridiculous and offensive conduct. I suspect that if she’d shown more remorse and kept a much lower profile, she might not be going to prison. Maybe she wouldn’t be doing any time behind bars at all. But she had to embrace the spotlight in a grandiose way, and now she’s “high profile”. Her behavior has been obnoxious, defiant, and insufferable, and it’s right for the judge to make an example out of her. Maybe putting her in prison won’t deter people who are anything like Jenna Ryan, but it might make more impressionable people think twice about trying to disrupt and overthrow government procedures.

I also think Jenna Ryan’s case might be a clue to Trump supporters that he does not care about anyone but himself. He certainly doesn’t care about anyone who isn’t a “winner” and can do something for him. In my view, Trump values people who can make him money, satisfy his libido, or garner him more power, fame, or prestige. Jenna Ryan and her ilk can’t do any of those things, so her dramatic trip to Washington, DC was an exercise in pointlessness and stupidity. Below is what Jenna said last January, when she found herself on the wrong side of the law…

“President Trump I want you to know that I have been a true supporter of yours and I believe that you won the election. I believe in America and I believe in your values. And I was not a violent protestor and I would ask that you would pardon me from this misdemeanor.”

Trump did not pardon anyone related to the riot prior to leaving office. And I could have told Jenna Ryan that he wasn’t going to do anything for her. She’s not his “type”. I also don’t think Trump cares if he actually won the election (and he didn’t, by the way). He expected to stay in power because he’s a malignant narcissist, and the rules that apply to everyone else, don’t apply to him. I can see that Jenna Ryan has that in common with Trump.

Well, time’s a wasting, so I’d better end this post and get dressed. I will be sorry to leave beautiful Slovenia, but I miss my dogs. I’m also itching to write up this trip and share more of the gorgeous photos I took. So, as I end today’s fresh post, here’s one last thought…

Maybe Jenna needs a little perspective about what a bully is. She obviously missed that Donald Trump is one. Instead of seeing that he’s a power-mad, dictator-wannabe, she embraced and championed his futile bid to keep bullying the American people, and the world at large.

So, to sum things up… I am not surprised Jenna Ryan got prison time. I think she deserves it. I hope she learns something from the experience. I doubt she will, but maybe she’ll prove me wrong.

The end.

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education, poor judgment, Texas

Texas school official says teachers should offer books that have an “opposing view” of the Holocaust…

It’s a rainy morning in Germany, which means that my dogs will be waiting for their walk again. Since there will be a delay, I have time to write another blog post. This one is about the continuing descent of Texas into a straight up dystopian land. It’s not enough that Governor Abbott has signed anti-abortion legislation that deprives women of the right to make personal decisions about their own reproduction. It’s not enough that Texas politicians have called for women who have abortions to be executed, or that hospitals have forced a pregnant woman in a coma to stay on life support, even as she basically decomposes. Now, the dystopia is spreading to the schools.

Yesterday, I read about how a top administrator in the Southlake district had controversial comments about what kinds of books teachers would have in their classroom libraries. Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district’s executive director of curriculum and instruction, was secretly recorded during a training session last week. According to NBC news:

“Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979,” Peddy said in the recording, referring to a new Texas law that requires teachers to present multiple perspectives when discussing “widely debated and currently controversial” issues. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust,” Peddy continued, “that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives.”

WHAT? That was, I think, a brain dead comment if there ever was one. How do you share an opposing view of the Holocaust? I’d like to think Peddy simply misspoke, as we all sometimes do. I would hope she had a brain fart, perhaps brought on by the state of things in Texas today. It was certainly a thoughtless comment, though, and it doesn’t make me think too highly of the quality of education in Texas. Is it any wonder that so many teachers are leaving the profession when they not only have to deal with the whole COVID-19 situation, but they also have to contend with these kinds of intrusions on their teaching methods?

I read that this whole thing began when a fourth grade student brought home a book called “This Book Is Anti-Racist” by Tiffany Jewell. The girl’s mother objected to the book’s content and complained to her daughter’s teacher. When the teacher did not respond in a way that satisfied the parent, the battle over what kinds of books are appropriate intensified. Local officials investigated the mother’s complaints about the teacher and declined to intervene, but the Carroll school board overturned the decision and voted 3-2 to formally reprimand the teacher. That decision, of course, made other teachers feel threatened, since they figured the board would side against them if other parents decided to complain about books in their classroom libraries.

Evidently, there’s a huge controversy about what is being taught in Texas schools. Some Southlake parents have been fighting against new inclusion and diversity programs at Carroll for over a year. They are opposed to lessons about racism, history (that paints white people in a negative light), or LGBTQ issues. Some of the parents have incorrectly identified the “progressive” lessons as promoting “critical race theory”. That’s how the new law, Texas House Bill number 3979, came to fruition.

Texas House Bill number 3979 is supposed to encourage teachers to present multiple viewpoints of controversial topics. I’m sure the law was intended to address the concern that some people have that their children will be fed a political agenda that doesn’t align with their preferred views… or that white children will somehow be made to feel guilty for the fact that they’re white. Personally, I can understand why some parents worry about that. I happen to agree that no one should feel ashamed of who they are, particularly when it comes to things they can’t change. That includes so-called “privileged” people.

However… there are some subjects that are sacred. The Holocaust is one of those topics where there is no “other view”. There have been people who have denied that the Holocaust happened, or they try to present it in a way that is sympathetic to the Nazi movement. Make no mistake about it. The Holocaust was absolutely horrifying; it’s real; and it didn’t happen all that long ago. Now, more than ever, we must be aware of the danger that can come from turning a blind eye to what happened in Europe during the 1930s and 40s. It was less than 100 years ago… and frankly, whenever I see Donald Trump rally a crowd, I’m reminded a lot of how Hitler came to power.

When a teacher asked Gina Peddy how one might oppose the Holocaust, Peddy’s response was “Believe me. That’s come up.” Wow… REALLY?

There was a time when I considered becoming a school teacher. I went to a college that is very well known for producing outstanding teachers. Many of my friends are teachers. But honestly, after reading about some of the crazy stuff teachers have to deal with nowadays, I am kind of glad that notion went by the wayside. It seems like back in my day, parents trusted and respected teachers more than they do now. I have seen what goes in to making teachers, and what they have to do to be qualified to teach. They don’t get paid a lot in many places, even though their value is immeasurable and they are vital to human development.

I am pretty appalled that someone in the education system in Texas suggested that teachers should present opposing views to the Holocaust, even if that comment was made due to a massive brain fart. It really is embarrassing. And I can see why teachers are so concerned. One elementary school teacher said:

“Teachers are literally afraid that we’re going to be punished for having books in our classes. There are no children’s books that show the ‘opposing perspective’ of the Holocaust or the ‘opposing perspective’ of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?”

Imagine having to grade masses of papers, answer dozens of irate emails and phone calls, AND be concerned that the books you’ve chosen for your classroom library might be deemed controversial, even when the validity of the subject matter is not in dispute. Teachers definitely have a tough job, and this kind of situation only makes it tougher…

And once again, it makes me glad I don’t have to deal with this problem myself. I think if I had children, I would want them to be free to read almost everything. I grew up with parents who mostly let me read what I wanted. All it did was open my mind and make me love reading. I really think this new law is misguided, even if it was well-intentioned. This situation ought to be fixed as soon as possible, before more excellent teachers decide to change careers.

The district did apologize

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