Grounded

Those of you who have followed Filosofa’s Word for more than a year may remember a series of posts that I re-blogged by justascottishgirl, a young woman from Scotland who, in late 2015 to mid-2016 took time from her own life to volunteer helping refugees on the Greek Isle of Kos. Her tales were often heartbreaking, but I was so impressed with what she and others were doing – giving of themselves for the cause of humanity – that I shared her story a few times in March 2016. She eventually returned to Scotland, but has now moved to the Greek Isle of Kos. She has started a new blog, titled From Greece With Love, and shares her very astute thoughts on not just the refugee crisis, but the terrible inhumane incidents taking place around the globe. I am sharing, with her permission, the first post on her new blog where she starts with a question: How does one stay grounded with all the terrible things happening around the world? She concludes with: “Stand together, show love where you find hate and don’t let fear win.” Just A Scottish Girl is an excellent writer, thinker, and humanitarian extraordinaire, and this post is well worth the read. Please take a few moments to read her words, for they reflect what most of us are thinking in these troubled times. Thank you, Scottish Girl, for all you do, for your beautiful heart, and for permission to share your thoughts and words.

From Greece With Love

All through life when times get tough, when things start to run away with us or when things start to get too much we often hear the advice “stay grounded.” We are told to “keep our feet on the ground” to balance us, to remind of something solid, something steady that can help bring us down from those dizzying heights that challenging times can take us to. But what happens when that safety net fails, when you can no longer trust the earth to keep you steady?

Recently I experienced a rather nasty earthquake which has left this question playing on my mind. When we live in a world of such uncertainty, how exactly do we stay grounded when we can’t even trust the ground we walk on?

But this idea of losing trust in your surroundings goes further than a shift in tectonic plates, for me personally anyway. Over…

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Impeaching Trump: What would the Founders say?

Impeachment, or as Trump calls it, “the I-word”, is on the minds of many of us these days. It is debatable whether impeachment would be successful at this juncture, hence the caution being exercised by Speaker Pelosi. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has done his homework and pondered the situation from the perspective of how the framers of the U.S. Constitution might have viewed it, and I think the results of his pondering are worth sharing. Thank you, Jeff, for this thoughtful work and for allowing me to share …

On The Fence Voters

In the course of any given day lately, I find myself grappling with the following question: What would the Founders do about it? Or, even better—what were they thinking and what were their arguments as they went about writing that sacred document we call the United States Constitution?

Actually, it’s a practice I’ve been doing for quite some time. I mean, between gun rights, abortion rights, immigration, and so many other issues, our Constitution is the basis for trying to figure out how to deal with these controversial issues. Often, we try to gauge what the intent of the Founders was. We can read their words in such publications like The Federalist Papers, and other discussions and arguments they were engaged in, that have been documented in letters, debates, and of course, The Constitutional Convention itself.

Currently, though, the impeachment process is front and center. Ever since the Democrats took…

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♫ Maggie May ♫

I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired to play a song tonight and was prepared to skip my music post.  But, it came down to this: I had just finished scheduling my rather dark & gloomy morning post, and now I had two choices:  roll cigarettes, as I am down to my last 6, or play some music.  About that time, this song came into my head and rescued me from having to roll smokes, though I will still have to do it before going to bed, in case of a sleepless night!

Released in 1971 and co-written by Rod Stewart and Martin Quittenton, Stewart says his inspiration for the song was a memory of the 1961 Beaulieu Jazz Festival …

“At 16, I went to the Beaulieu Jazz Festival in the New Forest. I’d snuck in with some mates via an overflow sewage pipe. And there on a secluded patch of grass, I lost my not-remotely-prized virginity with an older (and larger) woman who’d come on to me very strongly in the beer tent. How much older, I can’t tell you – but old enough to be highly disappointed by the brevity of the experience.”

This song came together when Stewart began working with guitarist Martin Quittenton from the band Steamhammer (who I don’t recall ever hearing of). They convened at Stewart’s house in Muswell Hill, where Quittenton played some chords that caught Rod’s ear. He started singing the words to the Liverpool folk song Maggie Mae, which got him thinking about that day 10 years earlier.

This was the first big hit of the rock era to feature a mandolin, which was mostly heard in folk music. Stewart first used the instrument on Mandolin Wind, which was one of the first songs he recorded for the album Let It Be. He liked the results, so he used it on Maggie May as well.  Maggie May remains the biggest mondolin-based hit ever recorded.

I was surprised to see that this was a #1 hit in the UK also, but then I discovered that Rod Stewart is British!  Who knew?  Not I, that’s for sure.  🙄

Maggie May
Rod Stewart

Wake up, Maggie, I think I got something to say to you
It’s late September and I really should be back at school
I know I keep you amused, but I feel I’m being used
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more

You led me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my heart, and that’s what really hurts

The morning sun, when it’s in your face really shows your age
But that don’t worry me none in my eyes, you’re everything
I laughed at all of your jokes, my love you didn’t need to coax
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more

You led me away from home, just to save you from being alone
You stole my soul, and that’s a pain I can do without

All I needed was a friend to lend a guiding hand
But you turned into a lover, and, mother, what a lover you wore me out
All you did was wreck my bed, and in the morning, kick me in the head
Oh, Maggie, I couldn’t have tried any more

You led me away from home ’cause you didn’t wanna be alone
You stole my heart, I couldn’t leave you if I tried

I suppose I could collect my books and get on back to school
Or steal my daddy’s cue and make a living out of playing pool
Or find myself a rock ‘n’ roll band that needs a helping hand
Oh, Maggie, I wished I’d never seen your face

You made a first-class fool out of me
But I’m as blind as a fool can be
You stole my heart, but I love you anyway

Maggie, I wished I’d never seen your face
I’ll get on back home one of these days
Ooh, ooh, ooh

Songwriters: Martin Quittenton / Roderick Stewart
Maggie May lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Teetering On The Brink?

I am not a psychologist and have no medical education or knowledge.  However, I know full-blown insanity when I see it.  I know that my daughter would call for an ambulance and police if I ever went on a tirade such as Donald Trump went on yesterday.  I know that the behaviour he exhibited yesterday is dangerous enough for anybody, but when the person who has lost all sense of reality is the leader of a nation with nuclear capability, it is a potentially lethal combination.

In September 2016, Trump, speaking of his opponent Hillary Clinton said …

“I also have a much better temperament than she has. … I think my strongest asset, maybe by far, is my temperament. I have a winning temperament. I know how to win.”

And in January 2018 he tweeted …

“Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!”

That “much better” temperament was nowhere in evidence yesterday.  What the world saw yesterday was an unhinged 72-year-old male acting like a two-year-old whose nap was an hour past due.

He stormed into a meeting that was scheduled to discuss infrastructure 15 minutes late, refused to shake hands or be seated, and proceeded to rant for three full minutes before storming back out of the room saying he would not work with democrats as long as they continue to investigate him.  Then, he immediately gave an impromptu 12-minute press conference in the Rose Garden where he claimed that everybody was out to get him, that Jerry Nadler had long been his enemy, and that the Mueller investigation had been a hoax from day one, a ‘failed takedown attempt’.  He bounced from topic to topic with no thread, no cohesion, seemingly no purpose other than to say, “Poor me … nobody likes me”.

Folks, I debated about writing this piece, for my initial thought was that there are far more important things to focus on that the temper tantrum of a spoiled brat.  However, the more I heard, the more I read, the more I pondered, I came to realize just how dangerous our situation has become, and this fit he had yesterday is the symptom of a much more serious problem.

The simple statement that supposedly set him off was spoken by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi …

“We believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a coverup.”

Donald Trump has been digging his own grave on this for months now, he has been acting as guilty as a fox with chicken feathers on his mouth, and it is his own attempts at obfuscation that have led us all to believe he is hiding things.  For the record, I, too, believe that Donald Trump is engaged in a coverup, perhaps one of massive proportions.

I have long said that when Trump feels backed into a corner or threatened, he lashes out without thinking, and I believe that is what is happening.  Just this week, two separate judges have ruled against Trump’s attempts to hide financial records from the investigating congressional committees, and an IRS memo came to light stating in no uncertain terms that the Department of Treasury must turn over the Trump tax returns requested by Congress.  I imagine he feels the walls closing in, but his response, his behaviour, make him look even guiltier than he did to start with, if that’s even possible.

Under other circumstances, it would be prudent for the vice president and majority of the cabinet to declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” under the 25th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, for it appears, even to the casual observer, that he is indeed ‘unable’.  However, today we do not have a vice president nor cabinet members who are particularly concerned with the well-being of the nation, but rather have their own agendas and Trump plays well into their hands.

Meanwhile, two democratic senators, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico pushed for a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on a proposal that would require congressional approval before US could launch a strike on Iran, but the proposal was shot down in a 13-9 vote.  One republican senator, Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted with democrats in favour of the proposal.  Obviously, there are concerns about Trump overstepping his bounds in dealing with Iran.

I don’t know what the solution is … I wish I did.  But I do know that the ‘man’ in the Oval Office is showing signs of a loss of mental acuity and we should all be concerned.  It seems to me that there are two options here: Invoke the articles of impeachment, for which there is ample justification, though as things currently stand, the likelihood of him being removed from office is slim-to-none.  Or, wait and let him finish digging his own grave.  Ordinarily, I would suggest the latter, for he is doing a fine job of it thus far.  But, under the circumstances, given his antagonism toward Iran, given his erratic decision-making processes, I fear that disaster might strike before he digs that last shovelful.

I think Nancy Pelosi showed just how concerned she is when, after his tirade, she said …

“I pray for the president of the United States. And I pray for the United States of America.”

Oh, The Irony …

On February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died unexpectedly, leaving the Supreme Court with an open seat.  President Barack Obama nominated a moderate, middle-of-the-road judge, Merrick Garland, to replace Scalia.  However, the Senate, led by none other than Mitch McConnell, not only refused to confirm Garland, but refused to even schedule interviews with him, let alone hold a confirmation hearing.  McConnell said that, with less than a year left in Obama’s term, the empty seat on the bench should be left vacant until a new president was elected.

Fast forward to 2019 when the House Oversight and Reform Committee subpoenaed Trumps accounting firm, Mazars, for some portion of Trump’s financial records.  Trump filed a lawsuit in order to keep Mazars from handing over the subpoenaed records.  That suit came before Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Long story short, on Monday Judge Mehta upheld the subpoena and ordered Mazars to turn over the requested records, saying that the committee had demonstrated a facially valid legislative purpose for its investigation and the issuance of the subpoena.

“It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

Trump, predictably, called the judge’s ruling “crazy” and once again blamed Obama for his troubles …

“We think it’s totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama-appointed judge.”

Naturally, Trump’s lawyers immediately filed an appeal asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case and overturn Judge Mehta’s ruling.  Judge Merrick Garland serves as the chief judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.  Let that one sink in.

Now, before you begin jumping for joy, talking about poetic justice (pun intended) and all, let me urge caution, for there is no guarantee that Garland will be one of the three judges who will hear the case.  And even if he is one of the three, Merrick Garland is a man of integrity, unlike some others, who will follow the letter of the law and not let past grievances colour his judgement.  But take some pleasure in the knowledge that Trump likely had nightmares last night in which Judge Garland was banging his gavel on Trump’s head!

And just for kicks, take a look at Stephen Colbert’s and Jimmy Kimmel’s take on this whole thing … both are guaranteed to bring you a few deep belly laughs!

 

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♫ Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves ♫

I did not play a song on Sunday night/Monday morning, for by the time I finished my Jolly Monday post, responding to comments, catching up email, I was exhausted and struggling for breath due to the humidity, so I went to bed instead.  I hang my head in shame as I realized that it was singer Cher’s 73rd birthday … an occasion that deserved at least a bit of a tribute.  However, I will not kick myself over it, for I am only human with the limitations of an almost-68-year-old woman, and … I can make up for my lapse tonight!

Now, my inclination was to play the Sonny & Cher song, I Got You Babe, or The Beat Goes On.  But, I had already played the first some time ago, and as I thought more about it … well, it was Cher’s birthday, not Sonny’s.  So, to honour Cher, I picked my favourite, Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves.

According to SongFacts …

This was Cher’s first #1 solo hit, and part of a big comeback. 1967 was the last time she had a hit either on her own or with Sonny & Cher. She released a financially disastrous movie in 1969 called Chastity, and that same year released an album that tanked. That year she and Sonny revived their nightclub act, which Cher credits with improving her vocal skills. In 1971 the couple got a deal for their own variety show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, and Cher got a record deal. The show launched in August and was a ratings success; “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves” came out in September, and in early November, it became the #1 song in America for two weeks. The show stayed on the air until 1974, and Cher charted six more times in the ’70s before a career lull that set the stage for an even more remarkable comeback in the late ’80s.

This was written by a music producer named Bob Stone, who also wrote Dottie West’s 1981 country hit “Are You Happy Baby?” Cher’s producer was Snuff Garrett, who was known for hiring Phil Spector to work at Liberty Records. Garrett was looking for a song that would accentuate Cher’s husky voice and exotic image, and Stone delivered it. The song was originally titled “Gypsies and White Trash,” but Garrett had Stone revise it to make the title less offensive.

I like this song, more for the beat and the tune than for the lyrics.

Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves
Cher

I was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show
My mama used to dance for the money they’d throw
Papa would do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of doctor good

Gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
We’d hear it from the people of the town
They’d call us gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Picked up a boy just south of mobile
Gave him a ride, filled him with a hot meal
I was sixteen, he was twenty-one
Rode with us to Memphis
And papa woulda shot him if he knew what he’d done

Gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
We’d hear it from the people of the town
They’d call us gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

I never had schoolin’ but he taught me well
With his smooth southern style
Three months later I’m a gal in trouble
And I haven’t seen him for a while, uh-huh
I haven’t seen him for a while, uh-huh

She was born in the wagon of a travellin’ show
Her mama had to dance for the money they’d throw
Grandpa’d do whatever he could
Preach a little gospel, sell a couple bottles of doctor good

Gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
We’d hear it from the people of the town
They’d call us gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
We’d hear it from the people of the town
They’d call us gypsy’s, tramps, and thieves
But every night all the men would come around
And lay their money down

Songwriters: Bob Stone
Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Good People Doing Good Things — Robert F. Smith

It’s graduation season at colleges all across the nation, but one commencement ceremony will stand out in the minds of many for the rest of their lives.  Graduates of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, will be telling their grandchildren about their graduation “way back in 2019”.  Why?  Because of the generosity of one man, Robert Frederick Smith.

Mr. Smith gave the commencement speech at Morehouse last Sunday.  Watch (pay particular attention to the guy in the lower left-hand corner)

Who, you ask, is Robert Frederick Smith?  Never heard of him, have you?  Well, he is a 56-year-old African-American man, originally from Colorado, currently living in Austin, Texas.  He is a businessman, investor, and philanthropist, a former chemical engineer and investment banker. He is the founder, chairman, and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity Partners.  Not the sort of person I typically feature in my good people posts, and not the sort we usually think of when we think of ‘generosity’.

Smith’s net worth is estimated at $5 billion, but he is not your typical billionaire.  Smith was not born into abject poverty, but neither was he born into wealth.  Both of his parents were schoolteachers and his was very much a middle-class upbringing.  But Smith had drive, he had ambition, and he knew at an early age what he wanted.

As a junior in high school, Smith landed an internship at Bell Labs — by calling the company every week for five months until he got a slot. Smith tinkered with computers during his summer and winter breaks and went on to study chemical engineering at Cornell University. He earned an MBA from Columbia University, followed by an investment banking job at Goldman Sachs. After advising billion-dollar mergers for tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple, he left Goldman to found Vista Equity Partners in 2000.  Today, Robert Smith is the wealthiest African-American in the nation.

Smith’s gift to Morehouse graduates is far from his first act of generosity.  Prior to the 2003 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Smith donated $20 million.  In 2016, he gave $50 million to Cornell University for its chemical and biomolecular engineering school, and to support black and female engineering students. He is the founding director and president of the Fund II Foundation. Under his leadership, Fund II Foundation has invested in organizations such as Cornell, United Negro College Fund (UNCF), National Park Foundation, Susan G. Komen, and Global Wildlife Conservation, among many others.

In 2018, Smith was the largest individual donor at the City of Hope Gala, earmarking funds towards prostate cancer treatment for black men and for breast cancer research for black women. Smith also donated $2.5 million to the Prostate Cancer Foundation to advance prostate cancer research among African-American men.

In 2017, Smith signed on for The Giving Pledge, joining such notable philanthropists as Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and currently 190 others.

Robert-Frederick-Smith“I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know. Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward. For these reasons, on behalf of my family, I am privileged to join the Giving Pledge with a commitment to invest half my net worth—during my lifetime—to causes that support equality of opportunity for African Americans, as well as causes that cultivate ecological protection to ensure a livable planet for future generations.”

As you all know, I typically have little or no use for billionaires, as very few use their wealth to help people.  But when a man pledges to pay off the student debt for 396 college graduates, my hat is off to him.

I did a bit of research and found that the average white college graduate leaves school with $28,650 in student loan debt.  But, according to Brookings Institute, the average black student has an additional $7,400 in debt, in part because black parents have less wealth to help pay for their children’s educations.  So, what Mr. Smith has done for these graduates is no small thing, for the total could well end up being around $15 million, according to my calculations.  And what he said toward the end of his speech … he called on those graduates to “pay it forward” … will ensure that his gift is one of those that ‘keeps on giving’.

Tuesday’s ‘Toons …

I decided to hop around and see how the cartoonists are handling things this week.  Y’know, it’s odd that we can still manage to find humour in the atrocities our government is inflicting on us every day, but … I guess in order to maintain some degree of sanity, we must find something to laugh about, yes?

This week the three biggest topics were Trump’s & Bolton’s taunting of Iran and the likely fallout, the draconian anti-abortion laws being passed in many states, and Trump’s trade wars.  But first … the world lost two fabulous entertainers last week, Doris Day and Tim Conway … so let’s start there.


Doris-DayBruce Plante Cartoon: RIP Tim Conway


Alabama, Georgia, Utah, Ohio, Missouri, Mississippi and other states have recently passed highly restrictive laws banning abortion, in some cases calling for long periods of incarceration for both mother and doctor.  The ultimate goal of the far right evangelicals and Trump, of course, being to get these cases to the Supreme Court and overturn the federal law established by Roe v Wade, thus completely subjugating women to the whims of a few.  They call it “pro-life”, but it is, in fact, anti-women’s rights, nothing more.

abortion-1abortion-2Power grababortion-3abortion-4abortion-5abortion-6


Trump and his National Security advisor John Bolton have been seemingly trying to poke the beast (Iran) and start a new war in the Middle East.  Just what the world needs, eh?

Iran-1Iran-2Iran-3Iran-4


Trump’s trade war … some time ago he said, “Trade wars are easy to win”.  Well, we know … we knew then … that he is clueless, that he doesn’t understand international trade any better than a banana does, and now he’s proven it.  He has gone tariff-crazy and it is hurting US, especially the farmers, but he’s oblivious and doesn’t care anyway.  

trade-war-1trade-war-2trade-war-3trade-war-4trade-war-5trade-war-6trade-war-7trade-war-8trade-war-9


And I close with just a few miscellaneous ‘toons …

democracyguns-1Lindsey-Grahamrepublican

♫ If I Only Had A Brain ♫

Usually, if a song is stuck in my head, I play it here to exorcise it from my own mind and drop an earworm in your heads!  No … no thanks are necessary … it is my pleasure!  Tonight, as I was cooking supper (a casserole that was rather a disappointment), I found myself whistling (I sing only when I am at peace and content, other times I whistle) this song from The Wizard of Oz.  Now, to be sure, I had no thoughts of playing it here, but now it is midnight and the bloomin’ song is still stuck in my head, threatening to invade my sleep!  I am seriously considering watching the whole movie, as it is one I always enjoy, and I need a little break from “all things political”.

Now, you may wonder how this song came to be stuck in my head, as I haven’t heard it since … oh, probably the late 2000s.  Well, at least 13 times today I have done something so totally stupid that I had to stop, smack meself upside the head, and call meself a name.  I seem to have taken my stupid pill this morning!  No, I’m not going to tell you of my lunacy … I will only say that throwing away a perfectly good plate and silverware was the least of it.  No worries, I retrieved them from the trash quickly enough, and luckily Miss Goose was in the house when I locked myself out of it.  She kindly let me in.

This tune was used three times in the movie, once as If I Only Had a Heart, sung by the Tin Man (played by Jack Haley, who replaced Buddy Ebsen due to a makeup-induced illness).  The other rendition was If I Only Had the Nerve, sung by the Cowardly Lion (played by Bert Lahr).

If I Only Had A Brain
Ray Bolger

I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers,
Consulting with the rain;
And my head I’d be a scratchin’
While my thoughts are busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain.

I’d unravel ev’ry riddle for my
Individdle
In trouble or in pain
With the thoughts that you’ll be thinkin’
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain.

Oh, I, could tell you why
The oceans near the shore
I could think of things I’d never
Thunk before,
And then I’d sit down and think some more.

I would not be just a muffin’,
My head all full of stuffin’,
My heart all full of pain;
And perhaps I’d deserve you and be
Even worthy even you
If I only had a brain.

Songwriters: E Harburg / E.Y. Harburg / Harold Arlen
If I Only Had A Brain lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Only Two Snarky Snippets Today …

Is there no end, you ask, to the snark of the Filosofa?  And the answer is … I don’t think so.  If there is, I haven’t found it yet.  The problem is that I have at least 30 topics backlogged that are snark-inducing and I don’t know where to start.  Okay … let’s start here …


Coward of the county …

Don McGahnI had hoped that former White House counsel Don McGahn had conjones.  I hoped he was a man of honour and integrity.  All indications were that he cared about the letter of the law, for he resigned his position rather than do Trump’s bidding which would have meant breaking the law.  A sign of an honourable man.  But I was wrong. McGahn is just as afraid of Trump as are the rest of his minions.

Legally, since McGahn is a private citizen and no longer employed by the U.S. government, there is nothing Trump or Barr can do to stop McGahn from testifying.  What hold, then, does Trump have?  Well, let me tell you … Trump has made it known in a rather offhand sort of way that if McGahn testified before the House committee, he (Trump) would instruct republicans to cease dealing with McGahn’s law firm, Jones Day.  McGahn’s lawyer said that McGahn would honour Trump’s wishes.  What about the wishes of the citizens of this nation?  What are we, chopped liver?  I was a fool to believe that Don McGahn might put the best interest of the nation, the common good, before his own personal concerns.  Silly me, for believing that anyone who was ever associated with Trump had a backbone or a conscience.

Committee chair Jerry Nadler responded …

“This move is just the latest act of obstruction from the White House that includes its blanket refusal to cooperate with this committee. It is also the latest example of this Administration’s disdain for law.”

Right, Mr. Nadler, so instead of scratching your head, let’s do something this time.  Hold McGahn in contempt, swear out a warrant for his arrest, fine the heck out of him.  DO SOMETHING!!!

Trump, of course, is gloating, saying …

“I think it’s a very important precedent. And the attorneys say that they’re not doing that for me, they’re doing that for the office of the president. So we’re talking about the future.”

Bullshit.  If this is to become the future, then let us simply disband both the executive and legislative branches right now … today … for neither of them is worth a damn at this moment.  We the People are being royally ripped off!


Kris Kobach thinks highly of himself …

kobachYou remember Kris Kobach, right?  Well, perhaps I’ll just briefly refresh your memory, for he has been out of the news for a while now.  Kris Kobach is the former Secretary of State of Kansas who was named the vice chairman of Trump’s short-lived, ignominious ‘Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’ which was a rather draconian committee attempting to prove that there had been massive voter fraud in the 2016 elections.  The truth was that the only election irregularities were on the part of Trump and his ‘people’, including his Russian buddies.  Kobach demanded that the states turn over all information on all voters, including private information such as address and social security numbers.  Most states flat-out refused, there was no evidence of voter fraud, and the commission simply fell apart.

Kobach has a long history of bigotry and attempted voter suppression techniques, and at one point had called for a “Muslim registry”.  He was also an advisor to good ol’ Sheriff Joe Arpaio, America’s #1 racist.

Fast forward to today.  Trump is trying to create a new position in his administration that would be titled “Immigration Czar”.  Say WHAT???  We don’t have ‘czars’ in this country!!! Donnie has been hanging out with the Russians too long! The position would be ostensibly to “coordinate immigration policy across government agencies”.  There is no doubt that it would, in reality, be much more than that.  Trump is considering a couple of people for that position, and Kris Kobach is one.  Well, he thinks highly of himself, and he provided the White House with a list of his ‘requirements’ for the job:

  1. Office in the West Wing.
  2. Walk-in privileges with the president.
  3. Assistant to the President rank – at highest pay level for WH senior staff.
  4. Staff of 7 people (2 attorneys, 2 research analysts, 1 scheduler, 1 media person, 1 assistant).
  5. POTUS sits down individually with Czar and the secretaries of Homeland Security, Defense, Justice, Ag, Interior, and Commerce, and tells each of the Secretaries to follow the directives of the Czar without delay, subject to appeal to the President in cases of disagreement.
  6. 24/7 access to either a DHS or DOD jet. Czar must be on the border every week.
  7. Ability to spend weekends in KS with family on way from border back to DC, unless POTUS needs Czar elsewhere.
  8. Security detail if deemed necessary after security review.
  9. Serve as the face of Trump immigration policy – the principal spokesman on television and in the media.
  10. Promise that by November 1, 2019, the president will nominate Kris Kobach to be DHS Secretary, unless Kobach wishes to continue in Czar position.

My jaw had to be picked up from the floor … in fact, I laughed so hard that I had to be picked up from the floor!!!  Who does this yahoo think he is???


A closing note …

Please keep our good friend rawgod and his family in your hearts tonight.  They have had to evacuate their home due to wildfires in Alberta, Canada.  They and the kitties are safe, but don’t know yet whether they will lose their home to the fires. 😢

On Feeding Our Children …

Imagine you are a child in school.  The lunch bell rings, you head to the cafeteria with your friends, stand in line, select your lunch, and when you get to the cashier, you are told that you cannot have your lunch, for your parents haven’t paid your lunch bill.  You are handed a sandwich … or worse, the cashier throws your lunch in the trash and tells you to move out of the line.  Your friends … they are looking at you … you feel as if every single kid in the cafeteria is looking at you.  You are so embarrassed you wish the ground would open and swallow you.  You run to the bathroom in tears.  This is happening all over the United States.embarrassed-child.jpgSome children are eligible for free lunch, but those who are not must rely on their parents to keep money in their school lunch account.  Sometimes perhaps the parents are a bit short one week, or perhaps they simply forgot.  It happens.  Children should not have to go without a nutritious lunch and be shamed in front of the entire school for something over which they had no control.  And yet, that is exactly what is happening across the nation.

In Warwick, Rhode Island earlier this month, the school district implemented a new policy that any child who has unpaid lunch fees or cannot afford to pay for his/her lunch will be denied a hot lunch and given only a “sunflower seed butter and jelly sandwich”.  The district claims to have “tens of thousands of dollars” of unpaid lunch fees and can no longer afford to extend lunch credit to the children.

Enter a good Samaritan, Angelica Penta, owner of a local restaurant, who offered $4,000 to help pay some of that lunch debt, but her offer was firmly rejected … twice! She was told that the school would have to decide which children’s accounts to apply the money toward, and so unless she specified whose accounts she wished to pay, or unless she paid the total they claim is owed, they could not accept her generosity.  Meanwhile, children are being embarrassed and subjected to a sandwich made of … sunflower seeds???

But Warwick is only one such example, as I found out on researching for this post.  This is happening all over the country and has been for some years!  In Phoenix, Arizona, children’s arms are stamped with the words “Lunch Money” if their accounts are empty.  In Santa Fe, New Mexico, lunches are thrown in the trash, rather than given to the children if they cannot pay.  What a waste!!! A few states have recently banned what is called “lunch shaming”, but in others it is standard practice.  In Rhode Island, legislation requiring all students to receive the same hot lunch regardless of their financial circumstances is pending, but meanwhile kids in Warwick schools are eating sunflower seed sandwiches and continuing to be embarrassed.

There are any number of steps the schools could have taken other than hurting the children.  They could have contacted the parents by phone, discreetly sent a note home with the child, or even called the parent in for a consultation.  The children do not have control of the family finances! donation-jar.jpgThere are a few heroes here, though.  Ms. Penta’s assistance was ultimately accepted by a portion of the district, West Warwick, and she has set up donation jars in her restaurants where patrons can add money to help the cause.  The rest of the district, however, continues to insist that she must specify which children she wishes to help.  She has posted on her Facebook account that if anyone needs help paying for their lunch, to contact her and she would help.

Chobani.jpgChobani, the yogurt makers, has given the district $47,650 to apply toward the debt the district claims it is owed.  Now, oddly, the district first claimed the lunch debt was in the $40,000 range, but just a few days later claimed it was $77,000.  Something fishy here … surely they do have an accountant?  Thumbs up and hats off to Chobani for their compassion and humanitarianism, and thumbs down to Warwick, Rhode Island, where officials are putting profit ahead of the nation’s children.

It is wrong to punish the children for their parents’ oversight, and in most cases it is simply oversight.  We’ve all forgotten to pay a bill, or other important tasks.  We send our children to school to learn, and it’s hard to learn much if you are hungry, or if you have been embarrassed so badly in front of your friends that you just want the day to be over so you can go home.  School lunch … such a simple thing … and yet it has become a monumental issue in this nation.  We are so obsessed with money that we are harming our greatest resource, our children.


Along those same lines …

Remember a few days ago when I posted Nicholas Kristof’s piece about Teresa L. Todd, the good Samaritan who stopped to help three immigrant teens and was arrested by Border Patrol agents for her efforts?  Well, here’s another similar story.

Bonnie-KimballBonnie Kimball was a cafeteria worker at Mascoma Valley Regional High School in Canaan, New Hampshire until recently.  Then on March 28th, she was fired by vendor Café Services for letting a student have a lunch even though his account had no money in it.  Turns out that Café Services’ contract with the school was coming up for renewal and the school was considering switching to another company, so Café Services had head honchos in the school keeping an eye on the staff.  Her letter of termination stated …

“On March 28, a District manager was on-site and witnessed a student coming through the line with multiple food items that you did not charge him for. This is a strict violation of our Cash Handling Procedures, the Schools Charge Policy and Federal Regulation governing free meals.”

Once the story was reported nationally by CNN, The Washington Post and others, the company told The Post that they would offer Ms. Kimball her job back, but it was obvious to all that their purpose was to stop the negative publicity that was having a negative effect on their contract negotiations, and Ms. Kimball declined.

The situation came to the attention of chef José Andrés, a humanitarian who has provided thousands of meals to victims of natural disasters and the homeless.  Chef Andrés tweeted …

“New Hampshire school cafeteria worker fired for giving food to student who couldn’t pay … The hero is Bonnie Kimball! If she needs a job we have openings at @thinkfoodgroup if you know her, let her know!”

Is our society becoming so self-focused, so intent on squeezing every last cent out of people that we punish those who try to help others?  It would seem so.