condescending twatbags, politicians, politics, social media

No, I will not “sit down”! And do not call me a “libtard”!

Well hello there, folks. It’s already Friday, and I’m sitting here with mild, vague discomfort in the left upper quadrant. I’m wondering if I have an ulcer, or something worse. It will either go away, or I will be forced to access the German healthcare system, which I don’t really want to do for a lot of reasons. I’m sorry to say that one reason I don’t want to visit a German doctor is because I don’t see the point of sticking around the cesspool the world is sinking into. I mean it. Every day, I feel a little more hopeless that things will ever be “normal” again, as more and more extremists try to shut down respectful discourse.

Last night, I wrote a rant about how people were busting my chops about a comment I made on an article about Virginia Military Institute. In that case, most of the people who were coming at me were people who are probably referred to as “liberals”. They saw a shocking 1997 era photo of a small young woman being screamed at by VMI cadets, and automatically assumed that the school is an abusive hellhole. For many people, VMI probably could be considered an abusive hellhole. When I commented, I repeatedly reiterated that it’s not the kind of college that I would have enjoyed. However, I know a lot of people loved their experiences at VMI. Should I champion shutting it down just because it’s not for me? Because I know that although it has a long history of racist and sexist policies, the truth is, VMI has made a lot of progress.

For instance, a couple of years ago, they finally took down the famous Stonewall Jackson statue that cadets had to salute every day. Stonewall Jackson is a legend at VMI, but he’s a controversial figure. The statue that was removed was a gift to the college from sculptor Sir Moses Ezekiel, Class of 1866, VMI’s first Jewish cadet, and a veteran of the Battle of New Market. It had been there since 1912, and thousands of young men, most of them White people, honored it every day. But times changed, and VMI eventually desegregated. In 1997, it became coed. And, after years of controversy, the statue was finally moved to a less visible place.

Still, I’m sure that this week, new cadets are experiencing “Hell Week” as they enter the Rat Line. This is well-known ritual that has gone on for many years. It’s a variation of what anyone who joins the military goes through, although maybe people in basic training don’t get harassed by people only a couple of years older than them at the same level VMI “rats” do. But– people still choose to attend, and they are often rewarded for graduating. Just because it’s not for me, should I really be championing to deny that experience to the people who want it? Should people who have no experience or actual knowledge about a college or university have the right to declare it “abusive”? I mentioned last night that I have experienced abuse and inappropriate encounters many times, in various places and situations. Should I want to shut down Longwood University, because there are some assholes there who are abusive? I don’t think so. Because the good outweighs the bad– both at Longwood, and at VMI.

I wouldn’t want to attend a religious college. I would never willingly go to Brigham Young University or Pensacola Christian College. But many people go to those schools and love them. Some people thrive there. Isn’t it a great thing to have freedom of choice? People can and do vote with their wallets, right? We still have the right to vote. For now, anyway… I don’t think we should ban religious universities, just because I wouldn’t want to attend one. I don’t think that’s an unreasonable take. We all have a path in life.

So last night, I was feeling attacked by “leftist” people. This morning, I felt similarly attacked by right wing folks. I read a Washington Post op-ed about Liz Cheney. It was written by a man named Marc A. Thiessen, who titled his piece “Why Republicans don’t want to join Liz Cheney on her Kamikaze Mission”. The main idea of the op-ed is that Cheney sacrificed her political career because she’s more interested in defeating Donald Trump than “getting rid of” Joe Biden. Thiessen went on to blame a lot of global problems on Mr. Biden, and presented him as more “evil” and “corrupt” than the man who incited violence when he lost the presidential election, and has been trying to overthrow the government ever since.

So I made a comment along the lines that I don’t understand why Republicans can’t see that the emperor has no clothes. I don’t agree with Liz Cheney’s politics, but I respect her integrity and bravery. I don’t think we’ve heard the last from her. Personally, I think her quest to rid the country of Trump makes her heroic, even if I would never vote for her. She’s sane and decent, and she values our democracy much more than Trump and his cronies ever will.

Some guy came along, gave me an eyeroll, and sarcastically posted “Because Joe Biden has been so good for the country. Sit down.”

I responded to the guy thusly: “You sit down. I have as much right to comment as anyone does.”

Then another guy demanded that I “prove” that Joe Biden has been better. Then he called me a “dumb libtard.” I find this especially rich, since Facebook “restricted” me for using the word “dumb” a few months ago. But this guy can call me a “dumb libtard”, even though I am far from dumb, and I’m not particularly liberal. I’m for fairness and sanity.

So I wrote, “You obviously haven’t been paying attention, and you are a name caller to boot. Welcome to my block list.”

Then I blocked both men. I started thinking about this situation, and it reminded me of a discussion I saw on Janis Ian’s Facebook page. She posted that she had removed her Quote of the Day (today’s featured photo), because people were arguing about its merit, due to the controversial nature of the person who was quoted. I see that a few hours later, she reposted the quote, but limited who can comment on it. Below is the explanation she gave for removing it:

I’ve removed today’s QOTD. Though the quote was valid, and true, I have a busy day ahead and don’t feel like spending hours explaining to people that what’s important is the quote, not the person who said it. Let alone bouncing and blocking people who attack me for quoting a person they don’t like.

Judging by the initial responses, most posters worried more about the contemptible idiot who said it than they did about the quote.

I’m really tired of people trying to invalidate quotes because they don’t like the person being. quoted. Those are the same people who dismiss an artist’s work because they don’t like the artist’s politics. So let me ask this. How is that different from people who burned my records when they found out I was gay?

We don’t dismiss quotes by Socrates, a pederast. Roald Dahl was a racist and an anti-Semite. Hitchcock terrorized women, Chanel was a Nazi spy, Aristotle considered women “deformed men”, and John Lennon beat his first wife. I’ve quoted all of them to no objections.

So. Is it okay to consider a quote by a contemptible human being only if their politics agree with yours? Do you only learn from those you admire, or do you learn from anything worthwhile?

A lot of people insisted I remove the quote because of the person who said it. I want to be clear – that’s not why I removed it. I removed it because today, I refuse to spend my time back in grade school, playing hall monitor.

As they say, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

That thread generated a lot of discussion, with most people supporting Janis. I’m convinced that a lot of people truly do stay silent, because they don’t want to get into arguments with idiots. I will admit, that’s often me. I usually vent in this blog, instead. But I’m beginning to think that comment sections could benefit from fair, balanced, and reasonable comments from moderate thinkers like me. If it means I get trolled, insulted, and harassed, so what? I can always block them, and then bust them in my blog. But no, I will not “sit down”, nor will I allow someone to call me a “libtard” and then comply with their demands that I dance to their tune. Like I have said more than once, I am nobody’s ass monkey.

In spite of what some people might think, given my extreme anti-Trump attitudes, I am not against conservatives. I am against the bastardization of the Republican Party that is passing for conservatism right now. Until the party changes to something more moderate, I won’t be voting for Republicans, even if I admire some of them for doing what is obviously the “right” thing. There is no place for a corrupt leader like Donald Trump in our democracy. So I will speak out, and I will do my part to vote out these cancers on our society. I have to… because I have seen what else is in the world. Too many Americans have never left where they grew up, and have no perspective beyond what is two feet in front of them.

I won’t sit down. I won’t be quiet. And I am not going to either extreme. I think people have the right to choose, should vote their consciences, and speak out when they want to speak out. But this should be done in a civilized manner, with people hearing each other out and not resorting to name calling, ridiculing, or discounting. The people I’ve encountered in comment sections over the past eighteen hours or so are too busy pushing their narrative to learn new things. As Trump would say, that’s “SAD”.

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condescending twatbags, Military, overly helpful people, sexism, social media

“Virginia Military Institute routinely turns out bullies and domestic abusers…”

Here’s another post for the “stupid shit I learned in the comment section of a newspaper” file. I got so fired up after an exchange I had in the comment section, that I just had to write another blog post today. So here I am, venting my spleen. If you came here to read this and then straighten me out, just know that I agree with you that it’s bullshit that VMI turns out abusers. My father, uncle, and several cousins are VMI graduates. At least two of my aunts and an uncle were employed there for many years. I know about the culture at VMI. I am also an Air Force brat and former Army wife… although my husband still works for the Army, so I’m still in the culture.

Apparently, I’ve been living in the Twilight Zone, though… unaware of what REALLY goes on in the military and at military colleges. Why? Because I didn’t condemn a photo shared by the Washington Post in an article about the 25th anniversary of allowing women to attend. I will admit the photo is shocking. I have run out of free articles, so I can’t unlock this one for my readers, but if you click the link, you can see the alarming photo. It’s a picture of 18 year old Megan Smith of Colorado, who was one of 30 brave young women who matriculated at VMI in 1997, when it first admitted women. She’s tiny, and surrounded by several large young men who are screaming at her. This is a scene that has played out at VMI since 1839. My father went through it, as did my uncle, and at least four cousins. Most of them went on to serve as officers in the military, although my dad was the only one to stay in long enough to retire with full benefits.

Megan Smith is now married, and works as a European Patent lawyer in the South of France, near Marseilles. She was extensively interviewed for the article, and several photos were included of her during her time at VMI. I didn’t get the sense that she blamed VMI for any trauma. In fact, she outright stated that everyone was being treated in the same way. I’m sure some of her male Brother Rats were not much bigger than she was, either, and they were getting screamed at, too. I would also bet that learning how to deal with high pressure verbal confrontations has served her well in her law career.

I don’t think I would have enjoyed VMI myself. Personally, I don’t like being screamed at or berated. I would consider it verbal abuse. But that’s me… and I know that many people who have gone through VMI came out of it absolutely LOVING the school. My dad worshiped VMI. He was tickled pink that I got married there, even though Bill isn’t himself a graduate. Thousands of people went through exactly what Megan Smith went through at VMI. Many thousands more have endured the same treatment in basic training for one of the services or at other military colleges. Or… maybe they’ve gotten it in other training. I’ll bet many a physician has gone through their share of abuse during their internships. For some people, it’s a rite of passage. For others, it’s traumatizing. But isn’t it nice to be able to choose which path one wishes to take?

Well, some guy named Kent decided to take me on. He claimed that the type of training at VMI attracts psychopaths and abusers, and then sanctimoniously lectured me about how just because it’s “tradition”, that doesn’t mean it’s not damaging. I will agree. To some people, Hell Week and being on the Rat Line probably is traumatizing and damaging. But that’s not everyone. If you think about it, my two years in the Peace Corps might have traumatized some people. I grew from it, but others might not have been able to hack it. Not everyone is cut out for the Peace Corps. Not everyone is made for military life. It is what it is.

When I didn’t agree with Kent, he started to mansplain, which immediately turned me off. I can’t stand people who try to lecture me, especially when they make assumptions about who I am, what I know, and how I think. So I told him I didn’t appreciate him trying to tell me what I do and don’t know, especially since we’re strangers. Then I advised him to have a good day. Most people would naturally take that to mean the conversation is over, but not Kent. He came back with two more paragraphs of the same drivel. So I wrote, “I said I was done. You are not very respectful yourself, are you?” (In fact, I would call it abuse)

He came back with another two or three paragraphs that were rude, dismissive, and insulting, complete with sarcasm and lecturing. I guess he didn’t realize that as he was lecturing me about abuse, he had become rather abusive himself. So I blocked him.

Then I got a comment from a woman named Sherry, who told me that abuse always comes from the military. I told her she was wrong. Then she laugh reacted and wrote, “You must have never been in an abusive relationship.” That comment was surprising. It was if she almost would have hoped I had been abused by Bill. Like, it’s a negative that I have a good marriage! And no, I haven’t been involved in domestic violence at his hands, but he was in a domestic violence situation with his ex wife, and she was the aggressor. She was NOT in the military. He’s not the only one, either. He’s known people in the military who were abused by a spouse who wasn’t serving. I didn’t respond to her comment, other than to ask her not to make assumptions about people she doesn’t know;.

Then I got another comment from someone named Diana, who also felt I needed schooling. She was basically respectful, but once again, I failed to understand why so many people seemed to NEED to correct my opinion. As if being browbeaten and harassed by a stranger in the comment section of a newspaper is going to make me “see the light” somehow. She lectured me about herd mentality, and how it leads to abuse, after I had already bid her, too, a good day.

So I came back and wrote that I think the VAST majority of people commenting on that article didn’t read it, because it’s behind a paywall. They are reacting to a shocking photo. Most of them have zero experience with the school. I am writing as someone whose uncle actually renovated the barracks for the women in 1997, as he was in charge of the physical plant at the time. No, I didn’t attend VMI, but I have many relatives who either worked there or went there. And I have firsthand experience with the school and its graduates. I would not pay to go to VMI. It’s not for me. BUT– I did go to Longwood University, a coed school, where I experienced unwelcome and inappropriate interactions with people sometimes. But you know what? I have experienced that multiple times in multiple situations. Unfortunately as much as we’d like it not to be so, sometimes abuse is part of life. And part of life is learning how to deal with it and move on.

I also explained to Diana that I have both a MSW and a MPH, so I know something about abuse. I don’t need her to explain it to me, nor does she need to tell me about “herd mentality”. I just wanted to make a simple comment as someone with some applicable ties to the school. My comment doesn’t give people license to preach at me, diagnose me, or make erroneous assumptions about my life experiences.

No one is forced to go to VMI or any of the other military colleges. No one is forced to stay there if they hate it. No one is forced to join the military or be a police officer or do any other job they don’t like. Frankly, I think that learning how to cope in stressful situations is a good thing. At least if someone goes too far at VMI, something can be done about it.

Moreover, that exchange really, once again, reminds me why Donald Trump got elected. People don’t like to be lectured by people who don’t know what they’re talking about… or make assumptions that you don’t know what YOU’RE talking about. My father was a VMI grad, and he was a veteran. And yes, he was abusive to me at times. But I think he would have been that way regardless. In fact, I was telling Bill that I think that if my dad hadn’t joined the Air Force, he would have been worse. My dad’s drinking and abuse didn’t get especially bad until he was in business for himself, facing the stress of making enough money every month to keep the business going. Granted, the PTSD he suffered in Vietnam didn’t help, either. But he also had PTSD from being raised by an abusive alcoholic. That wouldn’t have changed if he had gone to a regular college and stayed a civilian (not that he necessarily could have in the Vietnam era).

Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if everyone felt compelled to say the same thing as their neighbor says? Or think the way their neighbor thinks? I don’t think any of my comments were that out of line. They were based on a lifetime of actual experience with people who legitimately know VMI intimately, and my own personal experiences, not just a news story and a shocking photo. It makes me sad that people feel like they need to correct other people’s opinions and make assumptions about them, especially when they are total strangers. I just wanted to leave a comment, for Christ’s sake. But I guess that’s another lesson that it’s better to keep quiet, lest you get sucked into stupidity.

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healthcare, law, politicians, politics, slut shamers

Pro life activist makes a dumb comment about ten year old rape victim and abortion recipient…

Mornin’ folks. I’m sad to report that I’m sick again. I have a sore throat, slight hoarseness, cough, and congestion, and I’ve had several near misses with the urge to hurl. Some may recall that I was sick a month ago, too. That time, it appeared to be a garden variety cold. I did two COVID tests and both were very negative. Like, there wasn’t even a hint that I might have the virus. This time, I think my luck might have finally run out, since I read this morning that COVID is now initially presenting with a sore throat, and not with a fever and loss of smell and taste.

I actually feel significantly better now than I did a couple of hours ago. Once I ate breakfast, did some coughing and clearing of my throat, and drank some fluids, the pain in my throat lessened. I still feel kind of icky, but it’s not too bad. I haven’t tested for COVID, because I don’t have any tests at home. Hopefully, this won’t linger. What sucks the most is that right now, there’s a heat wave in Europe. There’s nothing worse than being sick when it’s hot as Hell outside.

Yesterday, I mentioned a satire story that’s been rattling in my head. I told Bill about it, and he was enthusiastic and was adding ideas. Last night, when Bill came home, we brainstormed some more. It was surprisingly fun. Maybe I’ll actually get down to writing it… especially if it turns out I need to be housebound. I think it could be a good story.

Now to get on with today’s topic. I hate to write about abortion again, but I just have to… I happened to see a video yesterday that blew my mind. A few days ago, MSNBC posted the below video to YouTube.

They sure are denying reality, aren’t they? The featured photo is a picture of Eric Swalwell’s visible reaction to Catherine Glenn Foster’s lunacy.

By now, many people have heard about the ten year old Ohio girl who was raped, resulting in a pregnancy. By the time her pregnancy was revealed, she was six weeks and three days beyond conception. Since Ohio currently bans almost all abortions beyond six weeks, the girl could not get the healthcare she needed in her home state. Her doctor called Dr. Caitlin Bernard, an OB-GYN in Indiana, where abortions are currently permitted until the 22nd week of gestation. Dr. Bernard agreed to help the girl. This poor ten year old CHILD had to travel from Ohio to Indiana to get her abortion.

Meanwhile, Republicans were quick to discount and try to debunk the story about the pregnant ten year old rape victim. They dismissed the story as “liberal talking points”. Many people were saying that it couldn’t be true, that a ten year old baby girl got pregnant. Some were even “slut shaming” the girl, saying she needed to keep her legs closed. 😮 Indiana Attorney General, Todd Rokita, went on the offensive, claiming that Dr. Bernard didn’t properly report the abortion, when actually, she did. Dr. Bernard’s lawyer has since sent Mr. Rokita a “cease and desist” letter, threatening litigation to defend against his malicious and defamatory statements regarding the doctor’s work. Rokita may also face disciplinary action for the false and unverified statements he’s made regarding this case.

Ohio’s attorney general, Dave Yost, likewise scoffed at the story and cast doubt on its veracity. Yost said that he had not heard anything about a ten year old rape victim. I guess it doesn’t occur to him that not only do Americans have healthcare privacy, but minors’ and sexual assault victims’ privacy is especially protected, and for good reason. Yost, nevertheless, went on Fox News and said:

“We have regular contact with prosecutors and local police and sheriffs — not a whisper anywhere,”

He continued:

“I know the cops and prosecutors in this state… There’s not one of them that wouldn’t be turning over every rock, looking for this guy and they would have charged him. They wouldn’t leave him loose on the streets … I’m not saying it could not have happened. What I’m saying to you is there is not a damn scintilla of evidence.”

It is true that this ten year old girl was raped at least twice. One of those assaults led to her conceiving with her rapist, a 27 year old man who has since been arrested. It’s absolutely terrible that this crime happened to the girl. We mustn’t forget that this happens to other girls around the world. She’s not the first ten year old to get pregnant. Any ten year old who has sex is a victim of rape. Ten year olds CANNOT consent to having sex. When that news came out, Dave Yost’s only comment was “We rejoice anytime a child rapist is taken off the streets.” He later added, he’s “absolutely delighted that this monster has been taken off the street. If convicted, he should spend the rest of his life in prison.” No apology for casting doubt on the girl’s story, which turns out to be true. No reconsideration of the dumb comments he made regarding this case.

I think a lot of Republicans were jubilant about the overturning of Roe v. Wade, and it never occurred to them that the horrifying repercussions of that disastrous decision would so quickly become apparent. The rape case was reported just three days after Roe v. Wade was overturned, and Ohio’s abortion trigger ban went into effect. I guess I can understand why Republicans thought this was political game playing, since elections are coming up soon, and there’s about to be a desperate fight for power. But, the fact remains that this child was raped, and did get pregnant. Some people, amazingly, think this kid should have been forced to birth, even though pregnancy and childbirth are stressful, painful and traumatic, even for grown women.

Attorney Jim Bopp, who authored model legislation in Indiana in advance of the Supreme Court’s decision, said of the ten year old under his law, “She would have had the baby, and as many women who have had babies as a result of rape, we would hope that she would understand the reason and ultimately the benefit of having the child.” Figures this is an old white guy saying this. Bopp was born in 1948, and is clearly out of touch with reality. Shame on him! Doesn’t he remember what it was like to be a ten year old child?

I suppose all of this crap shouldn’t have surprised me at all, but then I saw the video I posted above. In that video, at about the three minute mark, Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) questioned a pro-life activist named Catherine Glenn Foster, asking her if she thought a ten year old would “choose to carry”. The activist stammered, hemmed, and hawed, clearly trying to evade making an exception in this case, and not answering “yes or no” to a simple question. Swalwell doubled down, demanding that she simply answer “yes or no”, which she obviously wasn’t willing to do. I was truly flabbergasted when she said:

“I believe it would probably impact her life, and so, therefore, it would fall under any exception and would not be an abortion.”

Swalwell reacted with shock and confusion, saying “Wait. It would not be an abortion if a 10-year-old with her parents made the decision not to have a baby that was the result of a rape?

Amazingly, Catherine Glenn Foster continued with her bizarre rationale, apparently changing the definition of an abortion, saying “If a 10-year-old became pregnant as a result of rape and it was threatening her life, then that’s not an abortion.

Say what?! Of course it’s an abortion, you twit!

Um… excuse me? YOU believe it would PROBABLY impact her life? Wouldn’t that be true of anyone who wanted or needed an abortion? And because YOU believe it would PROBABLY impact her life, it’s NOT an abortion? That is truly mind boggling! I wonder at which point Catherine Glenn Foster would determine that an unintended pregnancy would not impact the “host’s” life in some way? When is it permissible to force someone to stay pregnant? Would she want to force a 14 or 15 year old to give birth? I have actually known some very mature teenagers, some of whom did give birth. I’ve also known some 25 year olds who probably still shouldn’t be allowed to cross the street by themselves!

Obviously, yes, the girl had an abortion. An abortion is a medical procedure, and there really should not be any shame attached to it, especially in a case like this one. But one of the main reasons why I am so staunchly pro-choice is because I think if you’re going to assign personhood to a developing fetus, abortion has to be wrong in all circumstances, to include cases like this one. Obviously, I don’t think ten year olds should be forced to stay pregnant. If I feel that way about a ten year old, how can I not feel that way about everyone? I don’t like situational ethics applied in selective circumstances. Abortion is either always wrong, like murder is, or there are times when it’s acceptable. And how can we determine for another person whether or not their situation merits being allowed to have an abortion? Especially when we make it so very difficult and expensive to raise children? Why is it anyone else’s business?

I guess Catherine Glenn Foster was trying to say that abortion is a dirty thing that only irresponsible and immoral sluts do. Obviously, a ten year old child isn’t an irresponsible slut… at least not yet. So in her mind, yes, it’s permissible to terminate the pregnancy. We just won’t call that an abortion. Except that’s exactly what it was! And why does she think that she, or any other uninvolved party, should have any say whatsoever in a case like this? In his opinion piece about this event, journalist Steve Benen wrote:

In other words, the head of Americans United for Life believes a 10-year-old impregnated by a rapist should be allowed to get an abortion — because under her preferred definition, that abortion wouldn’t really count as an abortion.

If terminating a girl’s unwanted pregnancy isn’t an abortion, what is it? Is there a preferred word that conservatives would like us to use?

Let’s not miss the forest for the trees. Republicans and their allies have created a situation in which raped children will — in at least one instance, has — cross state lines in order to receive medical care. Unable to defend the legal conditions they’re responsible for, many on the right deny the legitimacy of real stories, while others on the right decide to redefine words for the sake of political convenience.

No one should be fooled. Abortions don’t become non-abortions when the impregnated Americans are sympathetic figures.

Right on, Steve Benen.

As long as I’m complaining about this, let me also add that I read an article in the Washington Post about the slim prospects of an increase of adoptable babies if abortion becomes totally outlawed in the United States. In that article, which I have linked and unlocked for the interested, journalist Sydney Trent included some of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s opinion regarding overturning Roe v. Wade. It made my blood run cold.

“… A woman who puts her newborn up for adoption today has little reason to fear that the baby will not find a suitable home,” Alito said, writing for the majority and summarizing the views of many Americans who oppose abortion. In a footnote, he cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report juxtaposing the tiny “domestic supply of infants” in 2002 with the nearly 1 million Americans waiting to adopt.

So basically, Republicans are hoping that forcing women to birth will provide a bumper crop of domestically produced babies for people to adopt. Where is it written that people who get pregnant unintentionally must give up their babies to fertility challenged people, or people who choose not to carry their own babies, for whatever reason? This is disgusting. There are over 400,000 children languishing in foster care today. In 2019, only about 15 percent of the children in foster care were adopted, mostly by their relatives. We certainly don’t need more babies for people to adopt. People who wish to adopt a child should take one that has already been born and needs a home NOW! Foster care is no place for kids to come of age.

I’d also like to add that babies aren’t like puppies and kittens, looking to be rehomed. They grow up to be people who will experience the trauma of losing their birth families. Yes, I know that many adoptees have great experiences with the people who adopt them. But that’s not always true. Case in point, Bill’s ex wife. Moreover, even when the experience is good, the adopted child still wonders about their origins. There’s trauma for them, and most likely, for their birth parents– at least the mother. Do people really think that’s not absolutely horrifying for the birth mom, giving up a baby that she bonded with for nine months? Especially since a lot of people will look down on her for making that choice, and/or getting pregnant in the first place.

I think we’re going to see a lot more children being neglected and abused if this situation isn’t fixed soon. There will be a lot more poverty, and more incarcerations. A lot of women will die, as they are forced to be pregnant when it isn’t safe for them, medically or psychologically. That’s not how things should be in a civilized country, like the United States used to be, before this bizarre bastardization of the Republican Party got into power and fucked up everything.

Well… I think I’ve about had my say on this… at least for today. It’s time to close this post and practice guitar for a bit. Hopefully, I’ll feel better soon, and this won’t turn out to be a really bad sickness. Or I won’t hear more ludicrous nonsense from the likes of Catherine Glenn Foster, who is apparently hoping to change the definition of abortion when the person needing to have one is a sympathetic figure, like a ten year old BABY.

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ethics, Ex, family, healthcare, lessons learned, love, marriage

Moms really should be ready for the challenge…

Yesterday evening, I read a heartbreaking article in the Washington Post written by a retired pathologist from New Hampshire named Thomas Gross. The doctor wrote about having to perform an autopsy on a tiny four month old baby girl. It was his first time doing an autopsy on a baby, and the job was breaking his heart. But because the baby had died under somewhat mysterious circumstances, the procedure had to be done. So Dr. Gross began to explore the baby’s organs.

Dr. Gross described the ghastly condition of the baby’s pancreas, which was swollen to twice its normal size and covered with huge, angry looking, blood filled blisters. Her pancreas was abnormally rigid. The baby had previously been healthy. She’d started smiling and laughing spontaneously, and was even sleeping through the night. But then she suddenly got very sick, and spent her last hours vomiting, screaming, and crying inconsolably, in obvious pain. Dr. Gross soon had the answer as to why the baby was so sick. He discovered that the disease that had killed the four month old girl was pancreatitis. According to Dr. Gross’s editorial:

The condition was caused by a bacterium known as Haemophilus, type B (HiB), once a common threat to children. The epidemic stopped abruptly after 1985, when two American physicians patented an immunization for HiB. By 1987, the HiB vaccine was approved for use in all age groups. Cases of Haemophilus infection in children in the United States dropped precipitously in just a few years from more than 20,000 cases before the vaccine to just 29 cases in 2006. Deaths now occur almost exclusively among unvaccinated children.

The baby’s parents, no doubt loving and well-meaning, had chosen not to vaccinate their baby. They probably had never heard of Haemophilus, and it never occurred to them that she would get so sick that she would die. The girl’s parents probably weren’t around when babies routinely got sick and died of preventable infectious diseases like measles and polio. Besides, nowadays, everybody’s got the Internet, daytime TV, and social media to inform them, so they don’t always want to listen to what actual doctors recommend. Dr. Gross writes:

Many parents are too young to remember when young children died from measles, polio, smallpox, strep throat and influenza. They don’t remember when there was nothing that anyone could do about it except sit and watch. When the polio vaccine first appeared, mothers dragged their children to the public health clinic and stood in lines around the block to get them immunized. Before the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, pregnant women infected with rubella would invariably deliver horribly disabled and disfigured babies. Many children still die from measles; they are almost exclusively unvaccinated.

I could feel the palpable sadness this now retired physician still felt for the tiny patient whose memory still haunts him. Then I looked at the comment section on Facebook. At that point, there were only a few posted. One of the very first comments came from a guy named Chris who posted something along the lines of, “A lot of the people posting ‘sad’ reactions would have applauded the mother’s choice if she had terminated the pregnancy.”

It pisses me off when people– especially MEN– feel the need to conflate the abortion issue with every other issue even slightly regarding the welfare of babies. Chris wasn’t the only one who brought up abortion, either. So, although I know I shouldn’t have done it, I decided to respond. I wrote something along the lines of this:

A lot of “anti-choice” types are also against vaccines. If this baby’s loving parents had vaccinated her, she’d probably still be alive.

I noticed that Chris immediately responded to me. Another man gave me a “laughing” reaction. I decided to ignore them, because I didn’t want to get into a pissing match with them on such a pleasant June evening. I knew I’d be tempted to rip into him– in a much less delicate way– than the pathologist cut into the baby about whom he wrote his heartfelt editorial. Guys like Chris make me angry. They lack compassion, and they don’t see how sometimes terminating a pregnancy is actually the kindest thing a person can do. Aside from that, the story had NOTHING to do with abortion. It had to do with making wise and informed decisions for one’s offspring. In this tragic case, the baby’s parents, who obviously loved their infant daughter and hadn’t wanted to abort her, inexplicably chose not to vaccinate her. The unfortunate decision these parents made, on their daughter’s behalf, caused the girl to suffer needlessly. Ultimately, their baby paid with her life.

Being a parent is a huge responsibility. This baby’s parents no doubt wanted to embrace the challenge, yet they made a huge, fatal mistake that cost them dearly. This story, like so many others I’ve read, only underscores how very important it is to be ready for the job of parenting. Ideally, that job starts before an infant is even born. Prenatal care is so important, but we live in a country where access to healthcare is difficult and expensive. So many people focus on forcing others to gestate, but they don’t pay attention to whether or not the pregnant person is up to the challenge, and they don’t want to see to it that moms are ready for the awesome responsibility of raising children… or if they even want the job.

Of course, sometimes shit happens. I don’t want to dump on the parents in this sad story, because even years later, they probably still feel absolutely horrible about what happened. And they probably thought they were doing right by their baby, even though the whole sketchy “autism connection to vaccines” has been debunked for a very long time now. Dr. Gross wrote:

In 1998, the highly respected British medical journal the Lancet published a study suggesting an association between immunizations and autism. The author did not show immunizations cause autism. He merely pointed out that, in 12 cases of autism, all 12 autistic patients also received vaccines against measles. Incidentally, so did a hundred million other kids who had not become autistic.

The Lancet later admitted that the paper’s authors failed to disclose financial interests. The lead author was publicly discredited. The Royal Academy of Surgeons rescinded his license to practice medicine. The Lancet withdrew the article from publication.

But the damage was done. The loving parents of the baby on my table, well-educated and well-meaning, had chosen not to immunize her. Had they succumbed to the Internet hype that immunizations cause autism? Had they ever heard of Haemophilus?

Maybe the parents just didn’t know. The baby was just four months old. Timely vaccination might have just slipped their minds. Maybe they were planning to get her vaccinated at a later date. Who knows? What we do understand is that the baby developed a likely preventable life threatening disease that ultimately killed her in a painful way. If she’d been vaccinated, maybe things wouldn’t have turned out this way.

Continuing on this same theme, this morning I read another “Am I the Asshole” column. It was written by an older woman who came of age at a time when most women were expected to be wives and mothers. The letter writer explains that she wasn’t much into being a mom, but nevertheless, she had two children, a boy and a girl. Her children were “good kids”, and she did the best she could by them. But she admits that she was very relieved when they grew up and moved out on their own. She finally had the chance to do her own thing and discover herself.

The letter writer’s son, John, got married and had three children. Her daughter just has pets. Mom treats her daughter’s pets like grandchildren, which upsets her son. He thinks she should be more deferential to his human offspring over his sister’s dog and cat.

I don’t think the mom in this story is an asshole; however, I can empathize with John. John’s mom sounds a lot like my own mom. My mom had four children, and she often told me that she hadn’t wanted four children. Since I am the youngest, that means I frequently got the message that I wasn’t welcome. I remember watching my friends with attentive mothers and feeling painful surges of envy. My mom took care of me the best way she knew how, but she was never one to dote on me. My mom couldn’t wait for me to be on my own, and that was a message that hurt me a lot. She has also referred to my dogs as her “granddogs”.

I’m not saying my mom doesn’t love me. She does, in her own way. Our relationship is better now, too, since I don’t physically need her anymore. Now we can be friends. But I do remember what it was like to be raised by someone who was sometimes cold, and didn’t seem to care that much about me. Or, at least that’s how it seemed when I was a child. I see things differently now, and have come to respect and appreciate my mom more. It’s become easier to see her perspective now. There are a lot of issues I don’t have to deal with that my friends with more attentive moms do. I was also lucky in that I have always basically gotten along with my mom, in spite of her “hands off” parenting style. I think a couple of my sisters had a much tougher time with her than I did. On the other hand, my sisters got along much better with our father, while I had a lot of issues with him that still haven’t been resolved and probably never will be.

I think John should find a therapist and talk about these angry feelings he has toward his mom. He obviously still feels very hurt about how he was raised. He could tell his mom wasn’t that into raising him, and he knows she’s not going to be “super granny”. I don’t blame him for how he feels, but it’s not appropriate for him to punish his mom and try to force her to be someone she’s not. In the end, his kids will suffer, and when he inevitably loses his mother, he’ll still have a lot of unresolved angst, like I still do about my dad. I can’t help but realize that if my mom and the letter writer had been freer to make choices, John and I would have both been spared significant pain… and we would have been none the wiser, not having been born to mothers who would much rather be doing something with their lives other than mothering.

I’ll end this post with another personal story from last night. Regular readers might know that my husband, Bill, just became a grandfather for the third time. His younger daughter, who is an excellent mother, just had a baby last week. We sent her a package with treats from Europe. There was a Harry Potter hot chocolate mug from France that we picked up in March, but couldn’t fit in the last box we sent. There was chocolate from Germany, and a few gifts from our trip to Italy. In the box we sent were two books that I picked out for the two older kids. One was an activity book about Florence. Ideally, the kid would be in Florence as he or she explores the city, but I figured younger daughter and her husband could use the Internet to teach the kids about Italy and do the activities. The other book was a charming story I found about growing up independent.

I was wandering around in the bookstore at the Uffizi and this book caught my eye. It had really engaging illustrations featuring a baby zebra from West Africa. I don’t remember the book’s title, but I do remember the story was about an independent little zebra who wanted to try new things that he wasn’t quite ready to do. His patient and gentle mom told him that one day, he’d be on his own and he could then try all the things. But for now, she was there to guide him and teach him. It was a comforting, positive, and healthy message.

Unfortunately, Bill and his daughter have both been on the receiving end of Ex’s repeated manipulative ploys involving children’s literature. Ex has a bad habit of using books and music to make other people feel like shit. So Bill felt compelled to read the book from cover to cover in the bookstore, just to make sure there wasn’t a message in the story that would make younger daughter feel bad. Fortunately, he decided that I had made an appropriate choice, so he sent her the book. Hopefully, she’ll like it. It’s a book that I doubt her mom ever would have sent, since it’s about children growing up with a strong and protective role model who actually wants them to be independent and self-sufficient someday.

I think Ex loves being a mother, but only because it means she has family members who literally owe her their lives. She uses them as tools to further her own agendas. Her children aren’t stupid, either, because they can read between the lines. They get the messages she sends when she uses a book like Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree in her object lessons. She compares herself to the tree, and her children (and Bill) to the selfish little boy who takes and takes until there’s nothing left. But the reality is, the children are always giving to their mother, and she’s never satisfied. That has caused them pain, because obviously, their mother wasn’t up to the challenge. Her goal probably should have been to raise her children to chase their own dreams and live life on their own terms.

I’m not a mom myself. I always wanted to be a mom, but that wasn’t in the cards for me, for a lot of reasons. And because I barely know Bill’s daughters, I don’t feel like a mom to them… or a granny to younger daughter’s children. I do sort of feel like a mom to my dogs, though…

I don’t know if my overall message is getting across in this post. I know Bill is glad I’m here, warts and all. And I know my mom, ultimately, is glad she raised me. I do wish she’d wanted to do it from the get go, though… and I know enough people who haven’t had happy endings after being born into situations where the mom simply wasn’t up to the job. So that’s one of many reasons why I’ll always be in favor of allowing pregnant people to make choices, and that’s why I get triggered when losers like Chris conflate the abortion issue with any story about babies who die. Life is tough enough. Babies, especially, should be wanted, loved, and cared for by parents who want them. Pregnancy shouldn’t be an obligation or a punishment, and it shouldn’t be up to anyone to solve another person’s fertility issues. Moms, especially, should be ready for the challenge of motherhood before they accept it.

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condescending twatbags, healthcare, law

Confusion, chaos, and crass behavior continues, as US ends mask mandates on transportation…

It’s a beautiful spring day here in lovely Wiesbaden, Germany. The sun is shining and the air is fresh, crisp, and cool. I can see my neighbors’ trees heavy with flowers. Later, when I walk my dogs, I expect to see plenty of beautiful blooms in well-tended gardens. I probably should enjoy being outside more, especially since the weather in this part of the world isn’t always as nice as it is right now. It’s always so nice to see spring arrive in Germany, since the earliest months of the year are usually pretty crappy, when it comes to the weather. Making things even nicer is that on April 2, 2022, Germany finally lifted face mask requirements and vaccine checks in many venues, although they remain on public transportation.

Because masks are still required in airports and on public transportation in Germany, Bill and I will be driving to Italy next week. Actually, we might have decided to do that anyway, since we will probably be buying wine, cheese, and other groceries and it’s easier to transport that stuff in a car than on a plane. I like road trips, as a general rule. In my opinion, one of the best things about living in Europe is having the option to drive to so many beautiful places.

My countrymen aren’t so fortunate when it comes to traveling abroad. A person in the United States can’t drive to Europe, Africa, Australia, or Asia. In fact, it’s not so easy to get from coast to coast in the United States by car. It takes awhile to drive from, say, Virginia to California, and a lot of Americans prefer to fly, because vacation days are precious in the US and flying takes less time. So yesterday’s ruling, made with a stroke from federal Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle’s pen, has caused a big ruckus among Americans. Public reaction to her decision has been decisively split. Judge Mizelle’s ruling makes it okay to forgo face masks on domestic flights, although it’s my understanding that they are still required on planes that are flying to places where the masks are still required.

Cue mass hysteria.
Something tells me that this decision is going to prompt policy changes.

Many people are hailing Judge Mizelle for setting them free from face masks on public transportation. Others are cursing her and calling her “incompetent” for allowing people to suddenly take off their masks mid flight yesterday. The facts that she’s from Florida, is somewhat young and attractive, and was appointed by Donald Trump, don’t help some people’s negative impressions of her worthiness as a judge. Some public health and medical experts are very concerned about this restoration of facial freedom the judge has bestowed upon the public. And some people are feeling more emboldened than ever to shoot the finger at people they regard as sanctimonious virtue signalers.

If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m liberal about a lot of things. But you may also know that I’m not a fan of face masks, even though I am a master’s level graduate of an accredited school of public health. I was never really in favor of them, even at the beginning of the pandemic. I don’t think a lot of people wear the masks properly. Here in Germany, we’ve been forced to wear heavy FFP2 masks (like N95s), but the infections continue, probably because no one is forced to cover their eyes. And so, I conclude that a lot of the masking is basically theater, although I can certainly understand why they are important in certain medical settings.

Two years ago, before we had vaccines and most people had zero immunity to the virus, I could see why they were initially necessary, even though the masks most people wore at the beginning of the pandemic were pretty useless. As the variants have become milder, and fewer people seem to be getting quite so sick and dying, I can see why the masks are being phased out. For the most part, I think it’s time. It’s been two years, and while I’m sure there are some people who would love to see everyone masked forever, that’s not a very realistic goal.

Many people legitimately hate the masks because they can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. They do cause legitimate problems for some people, particularly those who suffer from anxiety, are hard of hearing, or have sensory processing disorders. They aren’t a good long time solution, in my opinion, because they are so polarizing, and because they hinder communication. Even if face masks were the best idea ever, it would take some time for people to accept them as normal. I am old enough to remember when a lot of Americans didn’t voluntarily wear seatbelts in their cars. It wasn’t until I was a young adult that they became normal for most people. At least that was how it was in the United States. In most countries in Europe, mandatory use of seatbelts for all passengers has been the rule for a lot longer, and fines are pretty stiff for non-compliance. But even a lot of Europeans are over the masks.

I still live in Germany, where public health ministers are still wanting to limit freedoms and impose COVID restrictions. A lot of Germans seem to be fed up with the rules, too, although they do seem to be a lot more willing to submit to them than Americans are. What I like about Germany, though, is that people seem to be somewhat less insulting, whichever side of the mask debate they’re on. And Germans, as a rule, are more community minded about most things. Many people here are still wearing masks, even though they are no longer legally required to wear them. Those who don’t wear masks mostly don’t get harassed for not wearing them. Maybe they get the side eye from one or two people, but no one is getting belligerent or aggressive about it, and there’s a lot less violence all around. I doubt if the mask rules were relaxed in the middle of a Lufthansa flight, that people would be whooping and hollering like they reportedly were on US flights yesterday. But yes, there would probably be people gratefully removing them.

As usual, I took a look at the comments on the news articles. It didn’t surprise me that a lot of people were whining about their fears regarding this decision, while others were being really offensively belligerent about their “freedoms”. I suspect that if the mask mandates are reinstated in the United States, there will be even more of an uproar and possibly, more violence. I have noticed, as many have, that since the mask mandates were in place, the behavior of people on planes was more violent and unruly than it’s ever been. After all, flights in economy class are uncomfortable enough as it is. The masks made them even less pleasant for a large number of people, even though some people don’t mind the masks and never found wearing them “onerous”.

Obviously, the masks make it harder for flight crews, as people have gotten violent over having to wear them on planes.

One thing that I’ve noticed and don’t really like from either side of this issue, is that people aren’t willing to compromise or concede. Why can’t the pro-maskers, for instance, understand why people hate wearing masks? Why do they feel it necessary to insult, belittle, and berate people for their valid opinions? Being nasty and sanctimonious to people does not inspire their cooperation. Moreover, I don’t find it very convincing when a person in a mask brags about “caring for other people” as they verbally abuse those who don’t share their opinions and dare to express themselves. I’ve seen more than one comment by a supposed “concerned mask wearing humanitarian” indicating that they think anyone who disagrees with them deserves to die. That’s not a very caring and kind attitude, in my opinion, and it doesn’t necessarily make me want to wear a mask for the sake of others. In fact, I think it’s the height of hypocrisy.

Conversely, I also think it’s awful that there are so many anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers out there who feel the need to laugh, gloat, and insult people who are genuinely afraid of getting very sick from the virus. I happen to agree that masking should be a choice, even though given a choice, many people won’t choose to wear a mask. Having the right to choose is part of living in a free society. But I also empathize with people who are afraid of COVID, or are concerned that they will spread it to vulnerable loved ones. Unfortunately, this was a problem even before COVID, and it will continue to be a problem. Forced mask wearing is not going to make the basic challenges faced by immunocompromised people go away, even if they appear to make things safer. I do agree, however, that we could all stand to be kinder and more considerate about this problem.

I read an op-ed on the Washington Post this morning about the relaxed rules. Robin Givhan, who wrote the opinion piece, demonstrated the attitude that, personally, I’ve found very off-putting throughout the pandemic. Her piece, titled “Whoops of selfish delight”, lamented that people were cheering about the suddenly dropped mask mandates. The mood of her opinion was that people were behaving badly for being visibly happy to be rid of the masks. This was Givhan’s sarcastic comment about the midflight announcement:

“They reveled in the knowledge that while they might be required to buckle their seat belt, turn off their cellphone, put their seat backs in the upright position and refrain from smoking on their grueling one-hour-and-20-minute flight, the one thing they would not have to do was wear a mask. The long, torturous nightmare of government overreach, which is how so many aggrieved passengers viewed the mandate effecting public transportation, has come to an end.”

I just want to ask her what the hell she was expecting. Of course people in their tight airplane seats with no leg room, strapped in and masked up, while their neighbors eye them suspiciously and with hostility, are going to be delighted with the prospect of being free to breathe unmasked. A lot of people– and I’m sure many in the travel industry, especially– are thrilled not to have to wear masks or enforce the wearing of masks, temporary as it may end up being.

Now, maybe it was rude to “whoop” about it, if only because yelling can spread viruses faster, and there are people who are legitimately terrified of being around maskless people. But I don’t think people are being selfish when they’re happy to be allowed to unmask. It’s perfectly natural, especially after two years of this weird, dystopian, plague we’ve been enduring. And if the mask mandates are reimposed, be prepared for backlash. I suspect it could be even worse after people have gotten a taste of freedom. No amount of shaming, virtue signaling, and berating is going to cow certain people into compliance. I just hope there won’t be more violence.

Anyway… count me among those who are for putting away the face masks, although I probably won’t be flying or taking transportation anytime soon. I never liked the masks, and I’m not going to submit to peer pressure to be a cheerleader for them. I’ll wear a mask if I’m asked to, but I certainly don’t want to do it. Not wearing a mask doesn’t make me a shitty person, especially since I don’t hang around people much, anyway. I also don’t care if other people wear masks. They can wear as many as they want to. It’s their choice, and I respect that. It would be nice if we could respect each other’s choices, since we all have to breathe. When it comes down to it, COVID is just another one of the many, many risks we face on a daily basis. Over the past two years, I’ve lost several people in my life, all of whom died years before perhaps they should have. Not a single one of them died of COVID… most of them had cancer or another chronic disease that might not have been adequately addressed, partly thanks to this virus. One died of suicide, and another was killed in a hit and run. I think that’s something to consider.

In other news…

I’m in trouble again.

I got another “restriction” from Facebook yesterday. They claimed I posted “hate speech” for referring to “dumb Americans”. My “punishment” is having my group posts filtered to the bottom for a month. I’m annoyed by this new ding, but I guess I should have expected it. Facebook must have a quota of sanctioning people for posting “offensive” content. What I find especially stupid is that people can and do post all sorts of offensive stuff toward strangers, but I refer to Americans as “dumb” because they won’t allow a children’s author to read his book about unicorns, and I get accused of posting “hate speech”.

I saw this on the Duggar Family News page. Wonder if it will get flagged for being offensive…

Just as I would like to ditch masks, I would also really like to ditch Facebook. I may end up doing that at some point, although it’s the best and easiest way to stay in touch with people. But I resent their stupid bots making false accusations about my posts that are taken out of context. The other day, someone referred to me as a “baby killer”, complete with vomiting emojis because I support the rights of people to get abortions. But that’s apparently okay– to call an individual stranger a “baby killer” as you react with puke emojis. Call Americans “dumb”, and your account gets restricted. It’s very aggravating. But, based on the comments from friends, at least I am in good company with these inane “punishments”. And at least this time, my offensive post was only a few days old, instead of four years old, as it was the last time I got slapped on the wrist. And this time, Facebook said I could appeal their decision. I don’t care enough about this particular issue to do that, though. I’ll just put up with another month of wearing a red badge of shame.

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