Pay Your Bills, Part II

Recently, President Joe Biden and Congress enacted legislation forgiving $10,000 of student loans for certain individuals under certain circumstances.  I’ve paid off all my loans (and wouldn’t qualify anyway, for myriad reasons), but I do have two kids who have grad school loans and who may benefit from this new law.  As usual, there’s been a lot of self-righteous indignation by Republicans (all of whom claim to have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps, paid their own way, having been born in a log cabin they themselves built).  They cry, “this only benefits the rich who take out loans!” (maybe – but not at interest rates that would make doing so advantageous).  The yell, “why should Joe Sixpack be paying off the loans of some loser who majored in Lesbian Dance Theory, who can’t get a job and is living in their parents’ basement?” (even though there are a lot of unemployed kids living in their parents’ basements, some of whom have college degrees and some who don’t).  They yell, “people should pay off their loans, no matter what!” (even though every other kind of debt a person can incur in the US but student loans can be discharged in bankruptcy).

This first argument – that the rich are taking out student loans – is a fallacy that may have had some truth back in the 1980’s, when students could take out nearly limitless amounts of low-interest government loans (as could their parents), making it attractive for the wealthy to apply for such loans at 5% and invest them in financial vehicles making three times that.  These days, there’s a limit to how much students and parents can borrow, and the interest rates aren’t nearly as favorable.  The grad school loans my daughter took out this year are somewhere around 7% (far higher the the current WSJ prime rate).  Not much incentive to take out that kind of debt in the hopes of making a profit in this economy.

Also interesting is the fallacy that people taking out student loans exclusively major in obscure, “worthless” fields, all of which fall within the umbrella of women’s studies (because what value could there possibly be in such work?) and literature (less obviously a waste of time, but still, of no real use in today’s world).

This assumption – which allows naysayers of any discipline not included in the 1963 Penn State Course Catalogue to create ever more silly fields of study they imagine might be offered at those ivy-covered walls of academia where they assume all of those student loan dollars are going – does not withstand the reality that the most popular majors for graduating seniors over the last five years have been business, health professions, social sciences /humanities, engineering, and biology. While the second most popular major (social sciences/humanities) would encompass the ridiculous made up majors that these loan-takers are apparently all studying, most of their peers are obtaining degrees in areas I think we can all agree would have meaningful applications in today’s world.

I don’t think it much matters what people major in, and it is inaccurate to suggest that one’s undergraduate major is determinative of whether or not they will be a productive member of society able to obtain a job with sufficient income to repay their student loans. The larger and more important questions are (1) whether or not everyone needs to or should go to college in the first place, and (2) whether or not college tuition is overpriced – it is.

One can debate whether student loan debt should be repaid by taxpayers. My opinion? Not if the money could have been used to fund universal preschool, after school programs, hot breakfast/lunch programs, after school programs, college counseling programs in underserved school districts, or any other program that would have benefitted the most needy communities’ children in getting a better head start. Will a $10k break make much of a difference for a med school graduate with $300k in loans? Nope. That’s 4 months of loan payments. Drop in the bucket.

Higher education needs to cost less, period. Predatory “for profit” schools (one big reason for high loan balances) need to be better regulated. Kids need to be directed to community college or trade schools instead of college unless they really want or need a four year degree.

But there is a way to avoid taking on too much debt in the first place.  Many schools offer work study and aid, and there are literally thousands of scholarships that go unawarded year after year because no one applies for them. For the neediest students, most schools offer a “sliding scale” based upon the “expected contribution,” which is based upon the family’s economic picture.  Thus, a student accepted to a school that costs $70,000 may only be expected to contribute a fraction of that ($20,000, say, that can be financed by work study, scholarships, and loans).

Students should also consider public universities, which are a much better bargain that private colleges.  Many brilliant young men and women have eschewed the Ivies and places like Stanford or Duke because a public university offered a full ride – and I’m not so sure that the quality of education is any different.  Unless you’ve got your heart set on the Supreme Court (and these days, who would want to be in that club?), it doesn’t matter where you go to college – it matters what you do once you get there.

Life isn’t fair. It would be nice if we were all rich and could have whatever we wanted whenever we wanted it. When our kids were little, everyone we knew had bigger houses and went to Disney ever year. We didn’t. Someone told me I must have a lot of debt because I lived in such a modest house – the same house I still live in. We weren’t poor, we just had different priorities (and $125k in student loans that we paid back). We wanted to be able to pay for our kids to go to college. When they went to college, we were. That was our gift to them. Graduate school is on them.

There has to be a point where you man up and pay your way. The system isn’t, and never has been fair, and the cost of tuition is way out of proportion with other big-ticket items. The result isn’t going to be fewer college graduates, but fewer colleges, as those colleges that really aren’t very special and aren’t offering a quality product for a good price fall by the wayside. And, public universities are always a strong bet.

But if you do take on that debt, it is YOUR debt – and no one else’s, and the only person who should be paying it off is YOU, and here’s why:  The reason most people go to college (or grad school) is because they hope, at least in part, to earn more than they would if they only had a high school diploma, and in most cases, they do – 84% more, in fact, according to recent data.  The cost to earn that college degree, the cost to have an 84% greater earning potential – is an investment in oneself, and I can think of no good reason why, as a general principle, the citizenry as a whole should underwrite the cost of that investment.  It’s true that higher earnings mean higher income taxes, and thus more money flowing back into the public coffers for the benefit of all (hence, the cost of loan forgiveness ultimately inures to the benefit of those who funded loan forgiveness).  It’s also true that taxes are used every day to fund some college tuition for some students – usually those who are economically needy.

But those who take out student loans responsibly – and who are also responsible with their finances in general – will eventually find a way to pay them back, even if it takes time, and even if the interest that accrues on those loans ends up costing as much (if not more) that the principle. The problem is that in today’s society, we have been trained to believe that we deserve to have everything we want – whether we can afford it or not – NOW.  We spend money we don’t have on things we don’t need, or take out other loans for the things we think we’ve “earned” – a new home, a new car – because we have a DEGREE! We’ve made it! We DESERVE to have nice things, and we’re making more money than we ever did before.  Getting a college degree is hard work! We ought to be able to have some nice things! Isn’t that the point of it all?

Maybe, but not if it means begrudging a student loan payment, much in the same way we resent having to pay for a new water heater – and absolute necessity unless you really love cold showers, but not nearly as much fun as buying a new sofa. 

You may be saying to me, Wendy, have you not read about all the college graduates who can’t find jobs in their chosen fields, or who can find jobs, but can’t find affordable housing and pay off their student loans? Yes, reader, I have.  What I have also read is that many of those people are looking for jobs in fields that are already overcrowded, or that they are looking for jobs in areas where housing is notoriously expensive.

And once again, we come back to the idea of sacrifice, which means that sometimes you have to take a job you don’t want in order to pay your rent, or you have to compromise about where you’re going to live in order to work in the field of your dreams.  It’s unusual for all but the all-stars to graduate with the perfect job in the perfect city or town with the perfect paycheck – that’s what your twenties are all about:  Living in a crappy apartment eating ramen noodles, working in a job you hate, shopping at H&M, and figuring out what to do with the rest of your life.

Student loans are the ticket to a better life, and it is fitting that the cost of this ticket be paid by the person taking the journey.

Some Thoughts on the New King

I’ve been wanting to post on this for a long time – 25 years to be exact. I got busy having kids and working and then I got involved in scrapbooking and sewing and gardening, and then I had a grandchild, but this afternoon I found myself with a few extra minutes, and what with the Queen’s Royal Jubilee in the can, it seemed like a good idea to say what’s been on my mind for years:

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles are dicks.

That’s right. 100%, USDA Certified dicks. SCOTUS voted 8-1 (Thomas was the lone dissenting Justice) that they’re dicks. It’s the one thing that I and Vladimir Putin agree on – I called him this morning, and he said, and I quote, “Charles and Camilla DICK.”

Whether or not you liked Diana, they were dicks, and now I’m going to tell you why.

Charles and Camilla fell in love well before Charles ever met Diana. After a lengthy courtship, Charles asked Camilla to marry him, but she said no because she did not want to live a royal life. (Remember this part because it’s important – HE ASKED HER TO MARRY HIM AND SHE SAID NO).

Then she married someone else, and he (Charles) was heartbroken. Before the ink was even dry on her wedding certificate, however, she (Camilla) and Charles resumed their shenanigans – either beknownst or unbeknownst to her unlucky hubby. I guess if you’re the Prince of Wales, you can do that without worry of offending the Church of England, and in fact, he was encouraged by male relatives to sow his wild oats however he liked, before, during, and after his marriage. After all, what’s the point of being the King if sport fucking is off the table?

The affair continued. The pressure on Charles to find an appropriate wife, however, escalated – Queen Elizabeth II was anxious for her party boy son to settle down – but not just any girl would do. She must be pretty, demure, obedient, of sufficient peerage, and, of course, a virgin. By the 1980’s, however, there weren’t a lot of women over the age of 20 that Charles hadn’t already dated who fit that profile, so he had to start trolling teenagers, and, at the age of 32, he found one Diana Spencer, 13 years his junior, and his 7th cousin once removed on the Spencer side of the family (and 16th cousin once removed on the Tudor side of the family).

After a whirlwind courtship (six months) during which they likely spent very little time actually getting to know each other, and where most of the decision-making about the future of their relationship was being done by other people, they announced their engagement. When asked if they were in love, Charles, that crazy guy, gave the answer every girl longs to hear: “Whatever that means.”

Diana then spent the next several months living in Clarence House with the Queen Mother where, it was charmingly related, the older, beloved Elizabeth had taken the dewy-eyed young thing under her wing to teach her the ways of all things royal. Later, Diana would describe these days as lonely and isolating, as she was cut off from family and friends, including the fiancé with whom she was starry-eyed infatuated. And remember…this is a young girl who never went to university, who up until this time lived in a flat with three girlfriends, taught at a nursery school, and babysat and cleaned for her older sister (the only real maternal figure she had had since her mother left the family when she was very young).

Think about what you were like when you were 19.

Think about how much you had in common with an 80-something year old woman who, it turns out – for all her warm, glowing smiles on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and the adoration of a nation who remembered her, ever steadfast, at the side of George VI during the horror of WWII – was not all that nice to Diana – ever.

And then there was the tragic, tacit, truth that Charles had not picked Diana because he loved her, or even liked her, and EVERYBODY KNEW IT, BUT NOBODY FUCKING TOLD DIANA.

No, she actually thought he loved her, and that it was a fairy tale come to life, and she was so young and sheltered and crazy in the love with this big-eared jackass that no one had the heart to burst her bubble, and maybe there was even a collective hope that he would come to see what was obvious to everyone who wasn’t a foppish, inbred, cosseted pantywaist: That Diana might actually have the potential to be a very good queen indeed, that she might prove to be smart, with good instincts, and even a good help-mate, if only given a chance.

No one really ever gave her a chance, and for all the lessons in how to properly curtesy and pour tea, there was little emotional support in the days leading up to the wedding. And what is a 19 year old who is about to take part in the wedding of the century supposed to do when she starts to have doubts? When the entire WORLD is talking about your wedding and selling tea towels and egg cups and souvenir buttons and glasses and mugs and china plates and pretty much anything that can be embossed with your image, and you’ve ordered a dress with a train that’s 20’ long…it’s sort of hard to call it all off.

Especially when you’re 19, and the only person you have to bounce stuff off of is an 80-something year old woman who remembers having the shit bombed out of London by Nazis for 4 years and barely surviving Hitler, and who probably doesn’t have much patience or sympathy for a 19 year old bride-to-be with the jitters.

This whole time, by the way, Charles and Camilla are still banging away like the ugly-ass horse-faced dicks they were and are.

So, Charles and Diana get married. For a short time, Charles seems to finally appreciate what the people of Britain (heck, the entire WORLD) see in his wife. She lovely! She’s charming! And unlike any other royal in history, she appears to actually care about her subjects…even the ones who aren’t rich, pretty, or titled! She wows everyone with her warmth and style, she produces two boys right quick, and that smile…my, she is dazzling!

But then she becomes too dazzling, and Charles (who, we must remember, has never stopped his studies in animal husbandry with Camilla), gets jealous and mad. People like Diana more than him, which is SO unfair, because HE is descended from GOD and SHE is not, and ALSO, Diana has the audacity to want to be a hands-on parent AND to be involved with charities with which nice people most definitely do not associate – AIDS and mental health, for fuck’s sake. It’s just too, too much. And why no love for Charles, with his interest in organic gardening? That’s a real thing, and no royal has ever done THAT before! Charles sulks and retreats and makes Diana feel unloved. Diana develops an eating disorder. She dances with John Travolta during a visit to the Reagan White House. Charles stands by looking like a frumpy old mop.

Charles and Camilla continue their uber-icky relationship, which can probably best be summed up by a hacked mobile phone conversation in which Charles says he wishes he could be Camilla’s tampon – oh, yes, he did. So, so gross. Not that women menstruate or use tampons…not that part…but you would hope a man with a Cambridge education could manage an expression of libidinal desire that did not involve an aspect of life that most women find, at the very least, an inconvenience.

The affair continued for the entirety of Charles and Diana’s marriage, during which time Camilla – such a dick – referred to Diana as “that ridiculous creature,” apparently willfully ignorant of her role in placing Diana in that position (ridiculous or not) in the first place. One wonders what might have become of Camilla had Charles (1) actually fallen in love with his first wife; or (2) been loyal to her regardless of his feelings for Camilla, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT MARRIAGE IS, YOU WIDE-HIPPED ASSHAT, but here’s the thing: When a man asks you to marry him and you say no, then marry someone else, then continue to sleep with that man, even after he marries someone else, you don’t get to criticize his wife, even if you are a soulless cow without a conscience.

Diana was aware of the affair before she even walked down the aisle. She tried the best a 20 year old could to make the marriage work, but you can’t really make a marriage work when the person you married was in love with someone else before they met you, and never stopped being in love with that person; and also, never loved you, never wanted to marry you, and only DID marry you because his mother made him. That’s a marriage that was never going to work, ever, unless both participants are masochists.  A hundred years ago or more, a wife would have simply sighed, accepted it, and resigned herself to a loveless marriage.

Not Diana. She wasn’t going to tolerate the loveless farce of her marriage, nor the Douche Bag Dick and his girlfriend, Stinky Butthole Dick. It’s true that Diana was not blameless – she used the press to her advantage when it suited her, she didn’t always play fair, she knew exactly how other-worldly popular she was, and that a picture of her doing anything had staggering influence. Her death proved just how true that was.

I was a Diana fan – not because she was pretty or had a great sense of style, but because the royal family – which more and more makes very little sense to me as an institution – plucked her up and tried to bend her to its will at a time when she had no power. Her own husband threw her to the wolves knowing exactly how well she was likely to fare, and treated her with so little respect or compassion, she might well have been one of his servants. Diana placed her children first (to the extent she could), and focused her service on those who were the “least of His people,” insisting that her sons join her in bringing attention to some of the world’s not so pretty places.

It is true she could be frivolous and petty and immature, and that her relationships after Charles were often obsessive and did not exhibit the best judgment. For a person who had led a sheltered, motherless childhood, and who then was thrust into a media spotlight the likes of which perhaps only one or two people in history have ever experienced, with no real guidance from anyone who truly cared about her, perhaps she can be forgiven her missteps.

After her death, Charles and Camilla – those two big dicks – finally married. Apparently, Mr. Parker-Bowles got tired of being the world’s most famous cuckold, and his marriage to Camilla ended. Now, 25 years after Diana’s death, C & C appear together like an old married couple, dandling Diana’s grandchildren on their laps, petting dogs, and looking every bit the well-heeled, silver-haired older couple that may someday be King of England and whatever they will call Camilla.

Maybe they have rehabilitated themselves enough for Britons to accept and love them should Charles ascend to the throne. Maybe Camilla will make a wonderful consort, a sort of Jill Biden-Michelle Obama-like modern king’s wife (the precursor to the kind we know Kate Middleton will surely be).

But in my book, they’re both dicks.

Harvard Degree Not Required

Not every kid was meant to attend college.

Being “gifted” does not exclusively apply to the intellectually superior.

If you measure a fish’s value by how well it can ride a bicycle, you would probably conclude that it had little worth.

A person who never got an “A” in anything may turn out to be the finest person you ever met.

Three of my kids have college degrees. One does not – she lacks the intellectual capacity. She has a job she loves where she is valued, works very hard, and is treated with great respect by her co-workers for her conscientiousness and the pride she takes in her work. She has accomplished more than we ever imagined for her after we were given a diagnosis we never expected and, for a long time, refused to accept.

My three college girls are great kids – they also work hard and have much to be proud of. We communicate on a completely different level, and our relationships change and grow and deepen. It’s harder with Allie, because her ability to be in relationship is the heart of her disability, but the growth she has demonstrated over 28 years has been staggering to watch. She has developed a level of insight that rivals that of her neurotypical sisters – and that is nothing short of Nobel-prize level work in my book.

Our kids’ academic accomplishments are fun milestones to celebrate, and with all we go through as parents, why not? But Allie has taught me – thank God she has taught me – that the grades and AP exams and college acceptances mean so little compared to raising decent children (although those two things are not mutually exclusive).

When it first occurred to me that Allie would never go to college, I was devastated. Then came the period where I wondered if there might be some other area where she could excel – and she is a gifted rider – but I finally learned that she’s just my Allie – and she’s really pretty magical just the way she is.

Some kids are academic dynamos, or compete on an Olympic level in sports – they are superstars, otherworldly, who win every award and will probably excel at everything their entire lives.

Most kids are not, but they do okay. Then there are kids like Allie, whose gifts are harder to see, and perhaps not as worthy to some. That’s okay – the people who know her understand, and I can always tell if someone is going to be worth my time by how they treat Allie.

I’m so glad she’s mine.

Pot-Smoking Liberals and Gays Take Aim

So Ohio lawmaker, Candice Keller, has finally figured out why so many people out there are shooting up this country, and it’s a doozy. Since she’s now taken down her Facebook post, here’s what it said. Are you ready? Here we go:

“After every mass shooting, the liberals start the blame game. Why not place the blame where it belongs?

“The breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates); fatherlessness, a subject no one discusses or believes is relevant; the ignoring of violent video games; the relaxing of laws against criminals (open borders); the acceptance of recreational marijuana; failed school policies (hello, parents who defend misbehaving students); disrespect to law enforcement (thank you, Obama), hatred of our veterans (thank you, professional athletes who hate our flag and National Anthem); the Dem Congress, many members whom (sic) are openly anti-Semitic; the culture, which totally ignores the importance of God and the church (until they elect a President); State officeholders, who have no interest whatsoever in learning about our Constitution and the Second Amendment; and snowflakes, who can’t accept a duly-elected President.

“Did I forget anybody? The list is long. And the fury will continue.”

Gosh, that’s a LOT of blame! Basically, only Christian Trump Voters (an oxymoron, I know) are exempt from responsibility.

But maybe Candice has a point. Let’s take this one at a time and see who is really to blame for all this gun violence:

The LGBTQ Community: I’d have to do some research, but I don’t think anyone in this group has ever perpetrated a mass shooting, and certainly not in the name of gay rights, although I have to agree that all of those lesbians and drag queens out there have ruined my marriage. I can barely give my husband a blow job anymore, I’m so upset. We’re about to celebrate 30 years of a very happy marriage, but if it weren’t for all those gays out there, we’d be even happier.

Fatherlessness: By this, I assume Ms. Keller means all those dead-beat dads out there that don’t pay child support for or raise their children. Yeah, that’s a problem. And dead-beat dads suck. So do dead-beat moms, because kids need loving parents, and they deserve to be well taken care of. So can we agree that people that don’t treat children well suck? Yes? Okay. Then Republican lawmakers suck.

Violent Video Games: I actually agree with this one. Score one for Ms. Keller.

Undocumented Immigrants: The reason for everything that’s bad in our country, like having fresh produce available for purchase in our stores pretty much any day of the year; or hotels that are clean and restaurants, period; or a poorly-paid labor market to scrub the toilets and raise the children of the rich. It’s really astonishing how those illegals are shooting up the country, like, just the other day this guy drove 10 hours to El Paso, Texas to kill – oh, wait a minute. Never mind.

Recreational Marijuana: If this were true, everyone in Colorado, Massachusetts, California, or Canada would have killed each other already. I sort of think that if you gave everyone who was thinking of shooting up a McDonald’s a few edibles, they’d probably just eat a box of Oreos and fall asleep. So…

The Educational System: Let me see if I understand: Teachers and administrators are responsible for turning out psychopaths who procure (in some cases, illegally) assault weapons or other firearms. I think this is a very good theory because those educators are so lazy. All they do all day is try to impart knowledge to overcrowded, underfunded classrooms of students, some of whom have no support at home, are living in poverty, and don’t have enough to eat, AND make sure every kid gets really high test scores so they don’t get fired. Goddammit, it’s the teachers!

President Obama: Well, obviously.

Professional Athletes: You know, nothing gripes my cookies like those professional athletes who HATE VETERANS. You know they do, because they say it all the time. They say, “I am taking a knee because I want to call attention to aspects of this country that are unfair to people of color (thanks, Colin Kaepernick!) or people who are gay (thanks, Megan Rapinoe!).” That’s what they say, you know, and then whenever they see veterans, they kick them and shove them and beat the shit out of them and leave them for dead…oh, wait…that was Matthew Shepherd. I’m sorry.


Patriot Fun Fact #1: You can’t be a patriot unless you can only have one idea in your head and cannot tolerate hearing another viewpoint without melting into a puddle of Snowflake Juice.

Patriot Fun Fact #2: People who both love our country AND think that people shouldn’t be treated differently because of the color of their skin are NOT patriots.


We were talking about who’s fault it is that the only place you can go without getting shot these days is a Pizza Hut, and that’s because the diarrhea starts the moment you walk in. If you go anywhere else, you’re going to get shot by:

The Anti-Semitic Democratic Congress: Although Jews make up 2 percent of the U.S. population, nearly 7 percent, or 36 of 535 members of the current Congress are Jewish. Of those 36, 34 are Democrats. Yeah, it’s the Democrats, all right.

All Those Non-Christians: To the extent that you are implicitly including Donald Trump in this group, yeah, I would have to agree. Apparently, it’s impossible to be non-Christian AND not shoot people. Which is why the First Amendment established Christianity as the national religion.

People Who Have No Interest in Learning About the Second Amendment: Are they better or worse than those people who aren’t interested in learning about the First Amendment? Just asking for a friend.

Snowflakes: You mean all those embittered straight white Christian males (spoiler alert: A lot of them are closeted gays who would feel so much better if they’d just accept who they are and meet a nice guy and settle down in a cozy little bungalow with a chocolate lab and frequent trips to Turks and Caicos)? You know – the ones who are enraged to the point of shooting up concerts and churches and synagogues and Wal-Marts and grocery stores and movie theatre and kindergarten children because they can’t handle that just having a pulse is no longer good enough to guarantee them a life of success, happiness, and the assured domination of anyone who isn’t also a straight white Christian male? Yeah, that’s what I thought you meant…Because that’s the actual definition of every Snowflake I’ve ever met.

People Who Can’t Accept a Duly Elected President: Not to quibble, but I don’t think it’s the “duly elected part,” (which, of course, is problematic, what with the fact that he didn’t actually win the popular vote), I think it’s the “Racist, Misogynistic, Sexually Predatory, Uneducated, Incurious, Undisciplined, Divisive, Thuggish, Unprepared, Narcissistic, Mentally Ill, Morally Bankrupt, Disabled-Mocking, Muslim-Hating, Unprincipled, Lying, Deceitful, Untrustworthy, Laughable, Treasonous Son-of-a-Bitch” that has some people just a tad bit fired up.

Surprisingly, Ms. Keller did not mention the mentally ill – and not, I am sure, because she doesn’t think they are part of the problem, but because, I am certain, she opposes any sort of funding for the identification and treatment of mental illness.

So that’s whose fault it is. Not the (overwhelmingly Republican) lawmakers across the country who refuse to enact even the most modest of gun control laws.

Not the NRA, which pours money into the coffers of said lawmakers in order to make sure that they don’t enact even the most modest of gun control laws.

Not a president who encourages hatred and division in order to divert attention from the fact that he’s a…well, you know what he is. Yeah, you do.

Not those who hate/cannot tolerate the existence of anyone who doesn’t look/worship/think like them and who believe that having lots of guns will protect you from having to face the fact that they’re an asshole. Yeah, they are.

Not even those who actually pull the trigger – even though guns don’t kill people, people kill people, and even though the people who have been pulling the trigger of late are overwhelmingly racist, xenophobic, prejudiced dicks.


Dear Snowflakes:

You know how you’re all angry and shit because you were too lazy and entitled to achieve your dreams and goals?

Nobody did that to you. Not the immigrants or the gays or the Muslims or women or people of color.

Love, Wendy


To sum up, the people responsible for all these mass shootings are the Democratic Atheistic Immigrant Pot-Smoking Gay Teacher-Athletes.

So now you know.



I hear a lot of people worrying about all those poor guys out there who get accused of rape – you know, people like Donald Trump, Jr., who is more concerned about his sons than his daughters where the issue of sexual assault is concerned.

And you know, let’s be honest here:  Guys have it tough.  It’s hard when all women, without exception, immediately report that they have been sexually assaulted (that is, maybe 20%, at best), and most women who accuse men of rape are lying (a whopping 2% – 10% according to one US Study, 8% according to the FBI), so what’s a guy to do?

Lucky for you boys, it looks like you the criminal justice system has got your back.  Between prosecutors who won’t charge and judges who aren’t sure sexual assault is really so bad, you can be free to rape away without cause for concern.  At best, you’ll walk with no jail time, and at worst, you may have to serve a few months (less if she was drunk, because she was asking for it).

Here’s the story – a Play in Five Acts – curated expressly for all those Rapey McRapersons who just can’t keep their hands to themselves.


In June 2015, Brock Turner, a student at Stanford University and a member of its swim team, was discovered by two graduate students as he raped an unconscious woman.  Although Turner attempted to flee, one of the students chased him down and tackled him as Turner smiled and laughed.

The victim, whom Turner had approached and tried to kiss at a fraternity party earlier that evening, was taken to the hospital, where she was found to have dried blood on her hands and elbows, abrasions, bruising, and penetrating trauma to her genitalia.  Turner admitted to having consumed nine drinks on the evening in question and had a blood alcohol level of 0.17% at the time of his arrest.  The victim’s BAL was estimated to be roughly 0.22% at the time of the assault, a level which would have precluded her from giving consent.  A year prior to the assault, Turner was arrested on campus for underage drinking; his cell phone texts included extensive discussions of his use of alcohol and illegal drugs.

At trial, the jury convicted Turner of assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman, sexually penetrating an intoxicated person with a foreign object, and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object.

Prior to sentencing, Turner’s father read a letter in which he lamented that his son “will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve… He will never be his happy go lucky self with that easy going personality and welcoming smile,” and stated that a prison sentence would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.”

Although the prosecuting attorney had requested a sentence of six years (the minimum guidelines for the charges of which he was convicted), Presiding Judge Aaron Persky sentenced Turner to six months in prison, followed by three months of probation.  In support of this decision, he cited Turner’s youth, lack of a significant prior record, and lack of “criminal sophistication,” noting as well that “there is less moral culpability attached to the defendant who is legally intoxicated” and that a prison sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner.

In September 2016, Turner was released from jail after serving only half of his six-month sentence.  Turner has never admitted to the conduct which led to his conviction and maintains his innocence.

Takeaway:  A “dry humping” defense may not be particularly effective – a better strategy is to blame it on “the party culture and risk-taking behavior” that is a part of college life.


On August 8, 2017, 34-year-old Justin Schneider offered a young woman a ride in his truck.  She accepted, and he agreed to take her to her destination after he stopped to pick up a few things from a friend.  A few minutes later, he pulled over, stopped his vehicle, and asked her to get out of the truck to help him load up.  When she did, he grabbed her by the throat and choked her until she blacked out, all the while threatening to kill her.  He then masturbated to completion on her face.  As the victim regained consciousness, Schneider was zipping up.  He threw her backpack at her and drove away.

Somehow, the victim had the presence of mind to call 911 and report Schneider’s license plate.  Schneider, who is married, did not contest the victim’s version of the events, but he didn’t have to:  In Alaska, it’s not a crime to jerk off all over someone’s face.  Assistant District Attorney Andrew Grannick also declined to pursue kidnapping charges because “the victim willingly got into Mr. Schneider’s vehicle and willingly drove with him to the location of the assault.”

Schneider plead guilty to a single count of second-degree assault and was given a suspended sentence of one year in prison.  The district attorney who agreed to the plea deal stated that Mr. Schneider should be on notice that this is his one “pass,” noting also that Schneider had already received a “life sentence” when he lost his government job as the result of his conduct.  Sentencing Judge Michael Corey warned Schneider, “this can never happen again.”

As he walked out of the courtroom a free man, Schneider stated, “I would just like to emphasize how grateful I am for this process.”

Teachable Moment:  If you ask the girl if she wants a ride and she says yes, anything goes!


Scene 1:  If There is No Gun, It’s All in Fun

In 2017, a 16-year-old Eagle Scout “from a good family” raped an intoxicated teenage girl, filmed it, and sent it to his buddies with the text, “when your first time having sex was rape.” The video showed the assailant penetrating the young woman from behind and banging her head against a cement wall.  Prior to the assault, the defendant and other males at had sprayed Febreeze on the victim’s buttocks and slapped her so hard that she had visible hand marks even many hours later.  Video of the victim at the time of the rape revealed that she was stumbling and slurring her speech.

After the victim pressed charges, the prosecutor sought to have the assailant tried as an adult.  Judge James Troiano declined to do so, stating that the defendant had good test scores, was from a good family that had sent him to an “excellent school,” and was destined to go to a good college.  Troiano also refused to characterize the defendant’s behavior as “rape,” but suggested what had happened was merely a “sexual assault” because there was only one assailant, and no weapons were involved.

Troiano also attributed the defendant’s admission of guilt via text to “a 16-year-old kid saying stupid crap to his friends” and chided the prosecuting attorney for telling the victim and her family that bringing charges against the boy could have a “devastating effect” on his life.

Scene 2:  It’s Not a Crime, Even if it’s Her “First Time”

Judge Marcia Silva of the Middlesex County, New Jersey Family Law Court, declined to try a 16-year-old boy who raped a 12-year-old girl in 2017, finding that “the offense is not an especially heinous or cruel offense.”  Although the victim reported that her assailant had

pushed her, grabbed her hands, removed her clothing and penetrated her without consent, causing her to lose her virginity, Judge Silva concluded, “beyond losing her virginity, the State did not claim that the victim suffered any further injuries, either physical, mental or emotional.”

A Tip from the Pros:   Location, location, location!


Judge Calvin R. Holden seems to have a special love of child molesters – let’s look at his record:

  • In 2019, he sentenced 22-year old Joseph Robert Meili, who plead guilty to third-degree child molestation after raping an 11-year-old girl in his Missouri home, to five years of supervised probation, with no jail time.
  • The same day, he issued the same sentenced to 21-year-old Avery Genovese, who was convicted of the statutory rape of a 12-year-old girl.
  • In 2016, he sentenced a 24-year-old man who sexually assaulted an 8-year-old he had agreed to babysit to 30 days in jail and five years of probation.
  • ater that year, Beau Maurice Gormley, 33, who had been convicted of the statutory rape of a 16-year-old co-worker, received the same sentence from Holden.

Practice Pointer:  The probationary period is a great time to get your online degree – at the end, your criminal record may be expunged, and you’ll be so much more marketable!


  • A Texas woman who had been hospitalized and sedated was repeatedly raped by a physician, Shafeeq Sheikh. The victim tried calling for help, but the nurse’s button was unplugged.  He was eventually convicted of rape but was given no prison time (2013, Texas).
  • Austin James Wilkerson sexually assaulted an intoxicated freshman at University of Colorado at Boulder, after telling her friends he would take care of her. Judge Patrick Butler, however, said he “struggled” with the idea of putting Wilkerson in jail, ultimately sentencing him to 20 years probation, and two years in a prison work-release program (Colorado 2014).
  • Owen Labrie, a student at the elite St. Paul’s School, was accused of raping a 14-year-old female classmate as part of “Senior Salute,” a game of sexual conquest. He was found him guilty of misdemeanor sexual assault charges and endangering a child’s welfare and was sentenced to a year in jail, of which he served less than nine months, having been released for “good behavior” (2015, New Hampshire)
  • Baylor University student Jacob Walter Anderson repeatedly raped, gagged, and choked a woman at a 2016 frat party. Anderson pleaded no contest to the lesser charge of unlawful restraint, and agreed to go to counseling and pay a $400 fine.  He will not be required to register as a sex offender or serve any jail time (2016, Texas).
  • 18-year-old David Becker sexually assaulted two of his classmates while they were sleeping following a house party, stating he thought there was nothing wrong with his conduct because the victims – who, again, were asleep – “didn’t protest.” He was sentenced to two years’ probation.  Said his attorney, “[h]e can now look forward to a productive life without being burdened with the stigma of having to register as a sex offender.” (2016, Massachusetts)
  • Nicholas Fifield of Iowa, met a woman who suffered from seven mental disorders, including autism and dissociative identity disorder through an online dating website and convinced her caretakers at the group home where she lived to let him take her to the movies. Instead, he allegedly took her to his home and forced her to perform oral sex.  Fifield was charged with third-degree sex abuse of a person “suffering from a mental defect or incapacity, which precludes giving consent.” But plead guilty to a lesser crime.  Polk County prosecutor John Sarcone told the press he would not pursue jail time for Fifield, claiming “prison would not do this kid any good” (Iowa 2016).
  • John Enochs of Illinois received one year of probation after being accused of raping two women; prosecutors accepted his plea to the charge of misdemeanor batter despite surveillance video which clearly showed him entering the room of one of the victim and notwithstanding that the second victim produced an eyewitness, who confirmed her account of rape (2016, Illinois).
  • A South Dakota high school student was raped by a classmate during a summer band trip to Minnesota. The rapist, Nicholas Schumacher, was found guilty of felony sex assault the following year, and sentencing guidelines called for a four-year prison sentence.  Instead, he was given a year’s sentence in the county jail but released after only nine months (2016, Minnesota).
  • A woman alleged that University of Virginia student Stephen Baril (the grandson of a former Virginia governor) offered to walk her home from a bar but ended up taking her to his apartment where he raped and sodomized her. Baril plead guilty to misdemeanor sexual battery and felony unlawful wounding and was sentenced to five years of supervised probation (2017, Virginia).
  • Logan Michael Osborn, met a 14-year-old girl at a high school play, asked her to take a walk, then pushed the girl down, tied a belt around her neck and hands and performed a sex act as he pushed her against a fence and down to her knees. Osborn plead guilty to carnal knowledge of the victim but claimed that the encounter was consensual. Osborn was originally sentenced to 10 years in prison with eight years suspended, but Osborn never served any time after the trial judge issued a stay with respect to the 2 years’ jail time despite seven prior allegations of sexual misconduct (2017, Virginia).
  • 26-year-old Shane Piche admitted to raping a 14-year-old girl who rode the school bus he drove. Piche, who plead guilty to third-degree rape, invited the 14-year-old victim to his New York home, gave her alcohol and raped her. He was sentenced to no jail time and received 10 years’ probation (2016, New York).
  • Alec Cook was convicted of multiple sexual assaults, stalking and choking women at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Cook admitted to these charges at his sentencing hearing, stating “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”  The charges carried a possibility of 40 years in jail.  He was sentenced to three (2018, Wisconsin).
  • Michael Wysolovski admitted to keeping a 17-year-old teenage girl in sexual captivity for more than a year. When she was found, she was severely malnourished and been kept in a dog cage.  Her assailant plead guilty to first-degree cruelty toward a child and was sentenced to 8 months in jail, plus 10 years’ probation (2018, Georgia).


Are you mad now? No?

Well, maybe you will be when I tell you that there are people sitting in jail right now, who have been sentenced to life in prison, for the following crimes:

  • Attempting to cash a stolen check
  • Possessing stolen wrenches
  • Siphoning gasoline from a truck
  • Shoplifting three belts from a department store
  • Taking an abusive stepfather’s gun from shared home

Consider also that the unfortunate ones below served more time that most of the rapists on the above list:

  • Gary Harrington served a 30-day jail sentence after collecting rainwater on his property. It was apparently a violation of a state law that says that all water is publicly owned, according to the 1925 Oregon law.
  • Ashley Huff spent a month in jail after she was accused of possession of methamphetamine when police found a suspicious spoon in her car. Turns out the residue was in fact sauce from a can of SpaghettiOs.
  • Lori Teel was summoned to appear in court after she forgot to return one Twilight book and two DVDs of the set Twilight: New Moon. When she failed to do that, a warrant was issued for her arrest and she was incarcerated for a night.
  • Tonya Ann Fowler didn’t like her unattractive police mugshot, so she called 911 to complain. She got arrested and had the chance to have a new mugshot before spending three days in custody.

Are you mad now? No?

Well then, I give up.


Choice and the 63 Million

Pro-Choice advocates are appropriately concerned about recent laws enacted in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri that effectively outlaw abortion under any circumstances and would imprison physicians who perform them.

These laws are unconstitutional. All sitting Supreme Court Justices testified under oath during their confirmation hearings that, consistent with stare decisis (the bedrock principle of our judicial system) they would uphold the precedent of Roe v. Wade, as that is a matter of settled law.

If the justices act as they have promised they would (so help them God), these laws represent an obstacle for women seeking legal abortion – no small thing – but ultimately one which is temporary.

If the justices do not act as they have promised they would (so help them God), then Roe is overturned and states are free to enact legislation outlawing abortion.

We all know what happens next: Unsafe, life-threatening back alley abortions for the poor; safe, “therapeutic” D & C’s for the rich. Same as it ever was.

There isn’t much any of us can do to influence the make-up of the Supreme Court…that ship sailed 2 1/2 years ago when 63 million Americans put their faith in an unhinged narcissist whose single consideration in all things is, which choice will inure to me greater power and total control?

What we can do is make sure he doesn’t get re-elected, which, given his behavior thus far, shouldn’t be a tall order, except it turns out that our country is a lot more racist, homophobic, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, and misogynistic than anyone ever suspected.

And then there are those lawmakers in Georgia and Alabama. They didn’t just wake up one morning as legislator or governor…someone elected them. A whole lot of people, actually, and one must assume that those people are okay with ending a woman’s right to choose whether or not she wants to have a child, even if that decision was foisted upon her by a rapist.

And so I guess what I’m saying is, if you don’t like where we are headed, then thank the good people of Alabama, Georgia, and the 63 million who elected a king.

Me? I’m proud to be one of the 66 Million.

On Mother’s Day, If You Care About Mothers…

It’s Mother’s Day…time for all who have mothers to be guilted into buying florid, ornate greeting cards, wildly overpriced flowers, or jewelry chain store bling, so as to check off that box.

A time for some politicians, in a transparent act of pandering, to wax rhapsodic about the importance of mothers while enacting legislation that limits reproductive choice, gutting critical educational programs and funding, lifting regulations intended to address the impact of climate change, repealing the ACA, all while enabling children to be gunned down in school day after day after day.

If you care about mothers, support their right to make family planning decisions free from the threat of criminal liability.

If you care about mothers, make sure their children have access to quality education.

If you care about mothers, work to guarantee that their children will have a healthy planet on which to live.

If you care about mothers, insist that they can assure their child’s good health by demanding affordable health care.

Finally, if you care about mothers, scream at the top of your voice for sensible gun control, so that those mothers don’t end up burying their children.

Or you can just buy a card and call it a day.

The Truth About Autism

We recently began watching a TV series in which two parents learn that their son is on the Autistic Spectrum. They freak out. They cry a lot. They act like assholes.

Over the course of several episodes, they consult a specialist because he’s the best, then challenge him…like assholes…when they hear the news that their son is, indeed, autistic. They push their way into a school for kids on the spectrum and berate the director when she tells them the school simply has no openings…perhaps because the school wants to make sure it can meet the needs of the kids who are already enrolled. They eventually get their way, and their kid jumps the line…because his parents are assholes.

They hire a therapeutic behavioralist and immediately challenge her methods, then complain about how much her services cost, but ultimately everyone is happy because now the wife can stop faking her orgasms. Yes. They’re assholes.

It’s a TV show. It’s targeted at people who are 20 years younger than I am. The life lessons it seeks to teach are ones I learned a long time ago, and I can spot most of the conflict coming thirty seconds after the theme music has ended. So, it’s not my thing, and, also, it’s a TV show. Some of it is probably pretty accurate. Some of it is probably relatable. But most of the parents are assholes.

When we found out Allie was autistic, we freaked out, too. There was a whole year where I thought I could “fix” her if only I could combine the perfect combination of therapy, interventions, equipment and a rigorous home program.

This was in the 90’s, mind you. Before Autism Speaks, before the blue puzzle piece logo, before most people knew anything. There was almost nothing in the way of support, and for five years I went from doctor to doctor practically screaming, “tell me what’s wrong!” only to be told there was nothing wrong.

They were wrong.

Allie was diagnosed at 5. It took us 4 years to get an appointment with the only autism specialist in Philadelphia, and during those 4 years we tried to figure it out for ourselves. By the time we got in to see the specialist, she basically told us that she had nothing to offer us other than her seal of approval for the team we had cobbled together for Allie – the occupational therapists and speech therapists, the educators at the school we couldn’t afford but sent Allie to anyway, and the medical specialists (neurology, psychiatry), the behavioral specialist and the TSS and wraparound service people, the meds, the homemade equipment to address sensory integration issues. It was pretty much the best we could do.

Allie is now almost 25. It has already been a long road. She’s been so fortunate to have had outstanding, tireless advocates in the form of teachers and therapists and our dear friends who have loved her and supported her. She had 4 years at a specialized sleepaway camp for kids on the spectrum, and she spent a difficult year in a remote corner of West Virginia with virtually zero support from the faculty at her equine studies program, buoyed only by the amazing young woman we hired who became her champion.

Allie now works at a therapeutic equine program that has embraced her as part of their family, and where she knows and loves each horse as a dear friend. She works part time at a movie theatre. She’s in a book club. She’s the adoring owner of a ginger Maine Coon cat who is almost as beautiful as she is. She’s pretty amazing.

Of course no one rejoices when they are told their child will almost certainly struggle every day of their life, and no one jumps for joy when they think about how hard it will be that their kid is going to be different in ways that may profoundly impact how – or whether – others value them.

So, I get that these parents on this TV show freaked out, because, of course they did, and who wouldn’t, and it’s really dumb to get pissed off by a TV show that exists mainly to sell advertising and generate revenue, and no one ever watched a network television show and said, “that precisely reflects my actual life experience, without comedic or dramatic embellishment.”


But here’s my point: People often behave as though autism is a fate worse than virtually anything else that could befall their child, ever. Worse than being blind, or losing a limb, or getting cancer. The fear of autism is so great that many people refuse to vaccinate their kids against DISEASES THAT CAN KILL YOU on the basis of a thoroughly discredited “scientific study” and the say-so of a Playboy centerfold model who got her medical degree from the University of Oh, That’s Right, I’m an Asshole.

My daughter has autism, and guess what? It’s no more and no less a part of her than her startlingly beautiful sapphire eyes, her grace while trotting her horse in a dressage ring, the earnest pride she takes in being a reliable worker, or her determination to lead a meaningful life. Freak out all you want, asshole TV character parents, but even though you aren’t real, I wish I could meet up with you when your TV kid is 25 and ask you whether you’d want him to be anything but what he is.

My Allie is everything I ever hoped she would be – she is hardworking, honest, kind, and empathic. She is loving and silly and a good cook. She has a frighteningly exhaustive memory and looks great in a Carhart coverall. She’s our Boops, our Lissie, our Rosebud. And she’s perfect just the way she is.

A Few Thoughts About the College Admissions Scandal

Dear Felicity and Lori:

When I was a college senior, we typed our applications on an IBM Selectric (if we were lucky enough to have a mom who access to one at work), and we used Wite Out to cover up the mistakes.

We wrote our own essays, we took our own SATs, and we ended up where we ended up.

And we survived.

We were blessed with friends who, with a most loving heart, recommended we read Frank Bruni when, during a rainy visit to Pitt, our beloved Beanie got a shitty rejection from the School of Her Dreams (Fuck You, School of Beanie’s Dreams! Like you would EVER have understood how miraculous she is!)

And we survived.

My kids did not go to USC, they did not pretend to be on a crew team, and we did not have $500k lying around for us to bribe some university coach so we could skip the line.

How did our kids ever manage to survive?

I don’t know, really, but one of them earned a Masters in speech and language pathology and now helps young adults on the autistic spectrum express themselves. One helps others with disabilities gain confidence and greater vestibular/sensory awareness through equine therapy. One hopes to help us better understand our humanity through the paleo anthropological record.

That’s what you do when you don’t live in Hollywood.

Love, A Mother Who Didn’t Pay $500,000 to Get Her Kids into College

P.S. Bill Macy, I thought you were better than that.