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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What Next???

trump thinksWhat is he thinking???  Oh wait … Donald Trump does not think; Donald Trump acts purely on the emotion of the moment, said emotion typically being profit or revenge.

Today it is announced that he plans to ‘overhaul’ the federal government and the core of this ‘overhaul’ will be to combine the departments of Education and Labour.  Please note that while the fruits of one ultimately feed the other, these two absolutely do not go hand-in-hand.  It would be impossible to find a person to lead this new department, for what qualifies one does not the other.  Oh … that’s right … qualifications for a position are irrelevant in Trumplandia.  According to Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the two departments are “overlapping and duplicative”.  Mick, obviously, is not the brightest bulb in the pack.

Now, here is the really disturbing part for those of us who believe that the goal of education is to open minds, to teach young people to think, to understand the world (or at least try to) and to develop into active citizens who can participate and contribute to the democratic process and American society. The main goal, apparently, of this departmental merger is to “allow the Trump administration to focus its efforts to train students in vocational skills in one place.”  In other words, start preparing them at a very early age for their ‘vocation’ in life.  Rather than introducing them to a wide world of possibilities, train them, give them the skills for a job when they leave school.  Does anybody else feel a chill here?

school to workPicture this:  The ‘labour’ portion of the department determines that in ten years there will be a shortage of … oh, say bricklayers.  So, the ‘education’ side of the department begins focusing more on teaching bricklaying skills.  Yes, yes, that is a ridiculous example, but … you see my point?  Rather than opening young people’s minds, the focus appears to be on directing, or guiding young people into the bins the government decides they belong in.

The Education Department is the smallest Cabinet agency in number of employees, with just under 4,000, and a $68 billion budget. It oversees federal student loans, distributes K-12 education funding, and enforces federal civil rights laws at public schools and colleges.  Think about this:  your son/daughter is about to graduate high school and is planning for college.  He is undecided just what path he wants to take in life, so is planning to begin with a Liberal Arts program to gain some insight.  But … he cannot get a student loan.  He could get a student loan if he were interested in studying brick-laying, but the government directs what academic pathways it will or will not support.  So, the young person who wishes to study philosophy or history will only be able to do so if he can fund it himself.  The only people, ultimately, who would be well-educated enough to hold high public offices would be … wait for it … the wealthy!!!

I focus here on the effects this plan would have on education, but there are also concerns by trade unions and others that such things as worker safety, minimum wage laws and fair labour laws would suffer.

The Republican Party has long wanted to do away with the Department of Education altogether. In 2016, Donald Trump said that the Department of Education “is massive and it can be largely eliminated.”  This from a man who is ‘largely’ uneducated and cannot manage to string together a coherent sentence! And his choice for Secretary of this department, Betsy DeVos, has long advocated elimination of the department. DevosDetails have not been made available, so I can only generalize here, but I have grave concerns, knowing the mentality of the current administration, of any reorganization attempts.  We have come to understand that the intentions of Trump & Co are not pure, do not have the best interests of the nation and its people at heart, and that we are being lied to multiple times every single day.  Think about this one for a moment:  It is much easier to pull the wool over the eyes of the un-and-under-educated than those who have been exposed to a wealth of ideas and know how to interpret data and think for themselves.

Most analysts believe that Trump’s attempt to merge these two departments will fail, for it requires the approval of Congress, and with the mid-terms on the horizon, it is not likely to be a popular proposal.  Nonetheless, I am disturbed that it is even being proposed.  What next?

Idiot of the Week — Senator Jim Inhofe

Idiot of the Week medalThere are a host of reasons I have been neglectful this year, ranging from Trumpantics to personal issues to health-related issues, but the time has come to stop making excuses and get back in the saddle.  To what, you may ask, do I refer? … … … Well, are you gonna ask or not???  Okay, okay … Here it is just a few days shy of being the middle of the year, and I have not written one single Idiot of the Week post.  Not one!  It certainly isn’t for lack of available material!  Well, today I plan to rectify that situation, so without further ado, please allow me to introduce to you Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma!

radarSenator Jim Inhofe has crossed my radar a few times of late, and last time he crossed a line when he left something sticky and disgusting all over the screen.  Last week, he flitted across my screen when he blocked the proposal filed by Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander and eleven other senators that would have required congressional approval for the imposition of trade tariffs.  Blocked it.  Would not even let it come for a vote.

Now this week, Inhofe is saying that he is “a little embarrassed” to have doubted his longtime friend from Oklahoma, EPA head Scott Pruitt. Less than a week after suggesting Pruitt might have to resign amid the swirl of scandal, Inhofe said he was confident the administrator had done nothing seriously wrong. Any of Pruitt’s lapses were minor and excusable given his lack of experience in Washington, Inhofe said at a news conference Wednesday.

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … 5 … 6 … 7 … 8 … 9 … 10 …Head explosionScott Pruitt, you might remember, is the subject of at least twelve federal investigations for abusing his position in various ways, including his travel and security costs, purchase of a home in Oklahoma from a lobbyist using a shell corporation and potential use of his office to enrich himself. And Inhofe finds nothing ‘seriously wrong’ with any of this???  I think we need to take a closer look at Senator Inhofe, don’t you?

For starters, Jim Inhofe is 83 years old and since he does not come up for re-election until 2020, so he will be 85 at the time of the 2020 election.  It is time for this hombre to r-e-t-i-r-e!

Inhofe is the most conservative member of both the House and Senate, according to the 2017 GovTrack report card.

Inhofe bookInhofe is a climate change denier extraordinaire.  He once compared the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to a “Gestapo bureaucracy”.  He even wrote a book in 2012, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.  The theme of his book is a global warming conspiracy theory that through worldwide acts of professional and criminal misconduct, the science behind global warming has been invented or distorted for ideological or financial reasons, or both.  Ironically, he sits on the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.  And Inhofe has been a recipient of monies from the fossil fuel industry.  Per the Center for Responsive Politics, Inhofe has received over $529,000 from the oil and gas industry since 2012.  Inhofe’s book, by the way, has only a 2.5 star ranking on Amazon and the hardback now sells for $1.50.

At a House committee hearing in 2011, Inhofe was questioned by committee member Jay Inslee, who mentioned that perhaps the scientists were more knowledgeable than he, Inhofe.  Inhofe disagreed because, he said, he had already given “five speeches on the science”.  🙄

Now, all that is certainly enough to qualify him for the first Idiot of the Week award of 2018, but Senator Inhofe has so kindly obliged by giving us even more reason …

In a Senate speech, Inhofe said that America should base its Israel policy on the text of the Bible, then he proceeded to quote said text.  Wait … isn’t ours a secular government?  He also said in a speech to the Senate in 2002 that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a form of divine retribution against the U.S. for failing to defend Israel.  Oh for …

Inhofe is a bigot.  He has earned 0% in every one of his terms on Human Rights Campaign’s position scorecard.  He is in favor of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes, and voted against prohibiting job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Wait … this is that religious man who believes we should rely on the Bible?  Isn’t there something somewhere in the Bible about loving everyone?  I’m confused.  Inhofe’s office has said that he will not hire gay staffers.  (Perhaps he has a sign on the door like Mr. Jeff Amyx?)

Now for the really fun one.  Inhofe is a licensed pilot (yes, airplanes, Joe!).  On October 21, 2010, at the age of 75, Inhofe landed his Cessna on a closed runway at a south Texas airport, scattering construction workers who ran for their lives. In a recorded telephone call, the men’s supervisor told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that Inhofe “scared the crap out of” the workers, adding that the Cessna “damn near hit” a truck. In response to the incident, Inhofe stated that he “did nothing wrong”, and accused the FAA of “agency overreach” and causing a “feeling of desperation” in him.  Ayyyyy … pobrecito!inhofe-pruittInhofe has made, on taxpayer’s dollar, more than 140 trips to Africa over the past 20 years.  He admits that much of the reason for his trips was on behalf of The Fellowship, a Christian organization.

There’s more, but I think you get the general idea.  My biggest regret is that Inhofe will not be up for re-election this year, for I really think this dinosaur needs to GO!

village-idiot-2And so, Senator Jim Inhofe, for all of the above reasons and for just generally being a bigot and supporting the destruction of our home, the planet earth, I now award you with Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!  Please hang it somewhere that you can show it off to your visitors in the Capitol!

(I really must do these more often … I had forgotten how much fun they are!)

A Canadian Perspective – A Guest Post by John Fioravanti

After I opined strongly about Trump’s abominable behaviour toward Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, I began to wonder how the people of Canada viewed the incident.  I asked Canadian friend John if he would write a guest post for me, and he graciously agreed.  Thank you, John!


Trump’s Treatment of Trudeau – A Canadian Perspective

By John Fioravanti

 

For many months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, I have watched him behave poorly as he played to his base of supporters. I am dismayed that his enablers in the GOP party in Congress refuse to exercise their constitutional duty to oversee his decisions that are often based on ignorance of the facts and outright lies. I don’t think Donald Trump has many supporters or admirers in Canada.

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 1: President Donald Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

To be honest, I am a supporter of Canada’s Liberal Party, which is ideologically in line with American Democrats. I voted for our local Liberal candidate and was overjoyed to see Justin Trudeau win a majority government in the House of Commons in October of 2015 – despite the smear campaign launched by the Conservative Party (like the American GOP) that featured many attack ads that belittled Trudeau personally. Trudeau ignored those attacks and ran his campaign on the issues.

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

Figure 2: Trudeau & Trump at the G7 Summit 2018

It is fair to say that many Canadians were in shock and somewhat uneasy when Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016. His campaign attacks on the NAFTA accord have been unsettling. Free trade has been an economic boon to all three countries involved. Two facts that are irrefutable about our bilateral trade history: one, the USA buys more goods from Canada than from any other country in the world; and two, Canada buys more American goods than from any other country in the world. To say that the collapse of NAFTA would not hurt the US economy is preposterous. However, it would hurt Canada more.

Thinking about our historical relationship with America, I’m reminded of a quote by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who was Prime Minister from 1968 to 1984.

“Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

Figure 3: Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau 1968-1984

No country in the world has impacted Canada more than the United States. In the late 18th and 19th Centuries, annexationist American troops invaded Canadian territory during the Revolutionary War and then three times during the War of 1812. After the Civil War, American negotiators demanded that Britain hand over the Canadian colonies in compensation for damages incurred when the British helped the Confederate government. These occurrences bred feelings of unease, suspicion, and outright fear of the United States among Canadians.

In the 20th and 21st Centuries, the relationship changed to a close friendship as we became more than business partners, but also military allies through two world wars, the Cold War, the Korean War, and the War on Terrorism. On 9/11, Canadian airports accepted flights unable to land in the United States. Gander, Newfoundland, a town of just 10,000, residents took almost 7,000 passengers into their homes for five days and treated them like family. The Broadway play “Come From Away” immortalizes this extraordinary act of kindness to total strangers. Canadians and Americans have a shared history in North America and now we have a shared popular culture – it is no wonder that Europeans cannot distinguish us from each other.

I have been a student of history my entire life and in my adult years, my focus has been on Canadian and American history. My second academic passion is the study of politics, so I am fairly familiar with the constitutions of both of our countries. In my lifetime, I witnessed nothing but deference and respect between our Prime Ministers and Presidents. Sometimes friendships sprang up between our leaders when they were ideologically in tune – like Brian Mulroney and Ronald Reagan, and Justin Trudeau and Barack Obama. On the international stage, we have always had each other’s backs.

It is for these reasons that I am shocked and dismayed by Donald Trump’s abysmal behavior towards Justin Trudeau. Yes, I felt personally offended by Trump’s outright lies and insults. At the same time, I felt extremely proud that Trudeau did not respond, in kind, to Trump’s remarks nor to the vile remarks made by Trump’s minions in the aftermath.

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM's remarks at the G7 Summit

Figure 4: Trump warning Trudeau about the PM’s remarks at the G7 Summit

As an aside, my wife, Anne, and I had the good fortune to meet and chat briefly with our former Prime Minister, Paul Martin. He was PM for three brief years before being defeated by Conservative Stephen Harper. Since then, Martin has remained active within the Liberal Party and was a guest advisor at the G7 Summit. When I shared my views about Trudeau’s handling of the G7 fallout from Trump, he nodded sagely and assured me that he would pass that along to Justin Trudeau. It was such a thrill to spend a few moments alone with this kind and generous former prime minister!

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

Figure 5: Former Prime Minister Paul Martin 2003-2006

My anger and disgust are not aimed at the American people. I understand how Trump operates. I followed the presidential election campaign very closely and I’ve seen how many Americans are also angry and disgusted with him and his abominable tactics. I also understand that Trump was defeated in the popular vote and that he has the approval of a scant 40% according to polls. By the way, Trudeau has the approval of 80% of Canadians according to recent polls for his stand against Trump’s tariffs. I can’t remember the last time a Canadian PM got an 80% approval rating for anything!

Many of my American friends have apologized and are concerned that this trade debacle will do irreparable damage to Canada/US relations. My response is that no apology is necessary – most of the American people did not behave badly. Trudeau and our Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, have continued to work towards a resolution of the tariffs and the NAFTA accord. It is our hope that our American cousins will lobby their Representatives and Senators to dissuade Trump from the path of a trade war with Canada and the other G7 countries.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Figure 6: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaking to reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Senate after the G7 Summit.

Donald Trump will not change. He will continue to behave as he sees fit until the American electorate takes away his majorities in Congress and then removes him as President. I’m losing faith that the Mueller investigation will bring Trump down. I do not think Congress would impeach Trump no matter what Mueller reports. The remedy to the problem of Trump is to be found with the voters of America.

An Update and a Question …

Good morning afternoon friends!  I have been meaning to give you this update for a week or so now, and I am also seeking your opinions on a question that has arisen this week …

The Update:

Some of you may have wondered just what became of Lisa Jensen and the project we were planning to engage in civil discourse about issues, starting with guns, gun regulation, etc.  Well, the project is temporarily on hold, but I hope to be able to jump start it soon.  Lisa and her husband are in the process of a major lifestyle change, you see.  They bought a sailboat, and are planning to live on the boat!  So, as she tells me, they are busy from sunup to sundown every day trying to divest themselves of a lifetime of detritus, as well as get their house ready to rent.  They will be sailing around in the Chesapeake Bay, and Lisa will be doing her work from ‘home’ (assuming she can get a WiFi signal).

It is quite a change, and she sounds excited and happy.  I am happy for her, though I don’t think it would be a move I would like, for I am a creature of routine, not very adventurous and am always a bit ‘off’ when my schedule or venue changes, even briefly.  Lisa assures me that she does still want to engage in our discussions and we have the beginnings of one started via email, but I don’t know quite when we will be able to proceed.

 The Question:

You may remember the post I did a few days ago about Jeff Amyx, the man who owns a hardware store and has a sign stating “No Gays Allowed” on his front door.  I have been engaged in a discussion with rawgod, who I can always trust to hold my feet to the fire when they need it, about the necessity or appropriateness of posts like this.  I have always thought it was important to bring people like this into the open, to shine a light on them and their bigotry, to show them to the world as they really are.  Rawgod, however, states his case …

“I am certainly all in favour of fighting bigotry, etc. But, IMO, while you are spreading the word of a bigot, you are also helping that bigot have his 15 minutes of fame. It’s just the other side of looking at the coin.”

I acknowledge that there is some truth to what he says … the ‘other side of the coin’, as it were … and yet I have mixed thoughts.  So, he suggested that I put the question to you all, and that is what I am doing.  What are your thoughts on this?  I know that I sometimes chastise the mainstream media for giving too much attention to people who thrive on that attention, and it seems to legitimize those people.  Am I doing the same?  Or do we need to keep these people out front for all to see?

I look forward to your opinions on this!

Now go forth and have a great rest-of-the-day!

Good People Doing Good Things — Bryan Stevenson & EJI

Most often this feature focuses on ordinary people doing little things to help others and to make the world a bit better place.  Today, however, I wish to focus on a very big thing, a big man and his organization, Mr. Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).  A friend & reader, Ellen, pointed me to this organization and thought I might be interested.  I was absolutely fascinated, and I hope you will be too.  Thank you, Ellen … I owe you one!

Bryan StevensonBryan Stevenson grew up in the shadow of segregation and racism in school, on playgrounds and at the local swimming pool.  After graduating from Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania, he received a full scholarship to Harvard Law School.  It was during his tenure there that he found what would become his life’s work.  As part of a class on race and poverty litigation, he worked for Stephen Bright’s Southern Center for Human Rights. It represents death-row inmates throughout the South. Stevenson knew  immediately that he had found his career calling.

After graduating from Harvard in 1985, Stevenson moved to Atlanta, Georgia, and joined the Southern Center for Human Rights full-time.  The center divided work by region and Stevenson was assigned to Alabama. In 1989 he was appointed to run the Alabama operation, a resource center and death-penalty defense organization that was funded by Congress. He had a center in Montgomery, the state capital.  Then, in 1994, the republicans gained a majority in Congress and one of their first moves was to eliminate funding for death-penalty defense for lower income people.

Not one to accept defeat, Stevenson converted the center and founded the non-profit Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery.  He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship Grant, 100% of which he put toward supporting the goals of EJI.  He guaranteed a defense of anyone in Alabama sentenced to the death penalty, as it was the only state that did not provide legal assistance to people on death row. Alabama also has the highest per capita rate of death penalty sentencing.

In 2005, Stevenson was instrumental in convincing the Supreme Court to consider the death penalty to be unconstitutional for persons convicted of crimes committed under the age of 18 in the case of Roper v Simmons.

Now a bit about EJI.  Their mission statement on their website:

“The Equal Justice Initiative is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society.”

Diane-Tucker

Diane Tucker

In 2015, EJI won the exoneration and release of Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on Alabama’s death row after being wrongfully convicted of capital murder based on a faulty bullet match, and Beniah Dandridge, who spent 20 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted based on a faulty fingerprint match.  EJI won the release of Diane Tucker, an intellectually disabled woman wrongfully convicted of murdering an infant, after obtaining medical evidence that proved the baby never existed.

There are many stories on their website of people whose lives have been saved by EJI … far too many for me to relate here. As of 2016, EJI had saved 125 people from the death penalty. In addition, it has represented poor people, defended people on appeal and overturned wrongful convictions, and worked to alleviate bias in the criminal justice system.  Let’s take a look at one of the cases EJI took on …

Trina GarretTrina Garnett, a 14-year-old mentally disabled girl, was charged with second-degree murder after setting a fire that tragically killed two people in Chester, Pennsylvania. She was tried in adult court and sentenced to die in prison.

Trina was homeless and had suffered severe abuse, trauma, and mental illness. Her trial judge had no choice but to impose a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without parole, although he remarked “it is a deplorable situation that the state does not provide facilities where young people such as Ms. Garnett can receive help while learning in a secure environment.”

EJI took on Trina’s case as part of its work challenging life-without-parole sentences imposed on young teens. In 2012, EJI won a landmark ruling from the United States Supreme Court barring mandatory life-without-parole sentences for children.

Bryan Stevenson, now age 58, has dedicated his life to helping people. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. Mr. Stevenson and his staff have won reversals, relief or release for over 125 wrongly condemned prisoners on death row.  Mr. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in America, including major projects to educate communities about slavery, lynching and racial segregation.

Mr. Stevenson has won so many awards that I cannot name them all, but they include:

  • The National Medal of Liberty from the American Civil Liberties Union after he was nominated by United States Supreme Court Justice John Stevens
  • The Olaf Palme Prize in Stockholm, Sweden for international human rights
  • The SALT Human Rights Award
  • The NAACP William Robert Ming Advocacy Award
  • The Roosevelt Institute Franklin D. Roosevelt Freedom from Fear Award

Charity Navigator, an organization that rates non-profits based on accountability and transparency has ranked EJI 100% in all areas for the last 3 years, and they have had a four-star rating (the highest possible) since 2012.

The accomplishments of Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative are so many that it would take me a dozen or more posts to highlight them all, but I urge you to take a tour of their website, read some of the stories, explore the sections on ‘Racial justice’, ‘Children in prison’, and more.

Mr. Bryan Stevenson is a man with a heart, a man with a fighting spirit who spends every day of his life helping the people who most need help.  In this country, the poor and minorities are not treated as equals, are not valued by society.  Mr. Stevenson is working to change that, one life at a time.

Hear The Children’s Cries As They Are Separated From Parents Seeking Asylum At US SW Border

This post, my friends, speaks for itself and needs no introduction from me. Thank you, Gronda, for this post and for all that you do for us, for this nation. Hugs.

Gronda Morin

Thanks to the media outlet Propublica, we have access to the above video. Please be aware that the sound of the children’s wailing as they are being separated from their parents seeking asylum at the US southwest border, are heartbreaking.

This is a new protocol that was started with President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions with his April 6, 2018 memo. As per Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the president can end this practice of separating children from the parents with one phone call. Telling the migrants to apply for asylum at the US designated points of entry is not a realistic direction as most peoples are being turned away. There are stories about peoples waiting weeks to gain entry.

As per international law, it is NOT illegal for peoples fleeing danger, persecution, war like circumstances, to ask for asylum.

Any other republican talking point other than the above…

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P.S.

Just a short addendum to this afternoon’s post, for I have one more ‘two thumbs’ to give this evening.  This one is to Governor Larry Hogan of Maryland.  Governor Hogan has joined Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in bringing his National Guard troops home from the Mexican border in protest of “the inhumane treatment of children”.  Nat' GuardSeveral democratic governors, including Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia have done the same, but Governors Hogan and Baker are both republicans, so this was truly an act of courage for them!  Two thumbs up for the courage of the states to have more humanity and compassion than the ‘man’ in the Oval Office!  👍👍

More of Filosofa’s Snarky Snippets

Having just concluded a rant that has left me with a terrible headache, I am going with some bits ‘n pieces from last night’s news.


👍👍 Thumbs up to New York Times

Thumbs up to the New York Times for refusing to publish government handout pictures.  Reporters have not been allowed in to the makeshift shelters and detention centers where the 2,000 children separated from their parents are being held.  Instead, the government provided pictures for news agencies to use, but the New York Times refuses to publish them.  I applaud their integrity!  There was a time I might have trusted the government, but not today.

Oh, and on this topic …Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), told a group of reporters yesterday that the separation of children from their parents at the border does not constitute abuse because …

“We have high standards. We give them meals. We give them education. We give them medical care. There is videos. There is TVs. I’ve been visited the detention centers myself. That would be my answer to that question.”

Sheesh … the woman cannot even speak proper English!  Videos and television, so … no abuse.


Beware those space aliens!!!

Yesterday, Trump announced that he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the armed forces dedicated to protecting American interests in outer space.  I thought for certain this had to be a joke, but nope.  According to the New York Times …

“During a speech at a meeting of the National Space Council, Mr. Trump announced plans to protect American interests in space through monitoring commercial traffic and debris, initiatives he said would be “great not only in terms of jobs and everything else, it’s great for the psyche of our country.”

Minutes later, the president zeroed in on Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and tasked him with the undertaking of creating another branch of the military.

“General Dunford, if you would carry that assignment out, I would be very greatly honored,” Mr. Trump said from the podium, after searching for him in the crowd.

“We got it,” the general replied.”

aarghYour tax dollars hard at work, folks, monitoring space junk!  Good for the psyche of the nation??? How so?  Can somebody please ‘splain this one to me? Lawmakers and even some members of Trump’s administration appear to be troubled, cautioning that the action could create unnecessary bureaucratic responsibilities for a military already burdened by conflicts.  Y’think?


What the … ???

On Sunday, The Washington Post published a story about a previously undisclosed May 2016 meeting between Roger Stone and a Russian national who promised political dirt about Hillary Clinton.  Apparently Donald Trump didn’t take the news too well, and used it as an opportunity to double down on his personal vendetta against Jeff Bezos and The Post. trump-tweetThere is little doubt in the minds of the sane that this is just another strike against Bezos, a response to The Post’s coverage of Trump that is not rosy and glowing, as Trump would like.  👍👍 to Jeff Bezos and The Washington Post … keep up the good work!


👍👍 to the State of Hawaii …

It’s nice to be able to deliver some thumbs-up for a change!  The State of Hawaii just became the first state in the union to ban pesticides containing chlorpyrifos, the pesticide that has been linked to adverse side effects in humans, including debilitating neurological and developmental maladies.  This in the face of Scott Pruitt, who has gone to elaborate lengths to protect the manufacturers of chlorpyrifos, which is harmful to children and farm workers.

Last Wednesday, Hawaii Governor David Ige signed the bill into law, a law which also bars the spraying of any pesticide within 100 feet of schools during normal hours of attendance.

Now, I bet you’re wondering who manufactures this lethal chemical, aren’t you?  Well, of course it is none other than chemical giant Dow Chemical.  That would be the same Dow Chemical that gave a cool $1 million to Donald Trump’s inauguration and did not want chlorpyrifos to be banned.  Shortly after the inauguration, Scottie Pruitt of the EPA announced that he would not follow the recommendation of the agency’s own scientists to ban the use of chlorpyrifos.

And now?  Now Dow Chemical has a new request.  Dow sent letters to three of Trump’s cabinet heads asking them to ignore government studies regarding the harmful effects of a group of pesticides on endangered species.  They want to bury a scientific study.  I wonder … how many lives, human and animal, can $1 million buy?  Draining the swamp?  I think not.

I sincerely hope to see other states follow Hawaii’s lead and place human life above politics and greed.


U.S. vs Human Rights …

I just saw that at 5:00 this evening, Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo will announce the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council.  This, in my opinion, is a black day in the history of this nation.  I may have more to say about it later, but as yet haven’t had time to fully process the information.  I am appalled, but then I think that we are in violation of human rights in more ways than one, so I suppose that to remain in the council would be hypocrisy.  😞


Well, that’s all for today, folks.  I haven’t run out of either snark or snippets, but have run out of time and energy.  Have a great evening!

An Idiot of Long Standing

I do try not to rant very often … I really do.  I try to remain professional, keep my speech and tone well-moderated, not use profanity and … and … not beat the paint off my poor little laptop keyboard.  I apologize in advance, for this post is indeed one of those moments when the story simply pushed the wrong buttons at the wrong time.

Coulter2In July 2016, I awarded several Idiot of the Week awards, one of which went to Ms. Ann Coulter.  The others were Pat Robertson, Roger & Ann Stone, Phyllis Schlafly, and Newt Gingrich.  Less than a month later, I did a follow up on Ms. Coulter, for she continued to shriek and clamour for attention.  In recent weeks, I have seen her name, occasionally her picture floating about on my screen, but I have largely ignored her, for she is one of the few people that I simply cannot stand to watch nor listen to.

But tonight I could no longer resist the urge to slap the smile off her face.  However, since I am several hundred miles away, I shall settle for a written slap.  In a rather juvenile expression of angst, I did send her a tweet with a link to the Idiot of the Week award post.  Yes, yes … I already admitted it was juvenile, but sometimes it’s fun to get down ‘n dirty.  I needed the comic relief … my blood pressure needed it.

What has she done now?  She’s apparently been taking private lessons from Alex Jones on how to invent a totally off-the-wall conspiracy theory using kids as pawns.  The most egregious news this week is the separation of children from their parents at our southern border, per orders of none other than Donald Trump, though he has a convoluted way of trying to point the finger back on the democrats.  Pictures and sound tracks of crying children being taken from their parents, detention centers cloaked in mystery that even an elected senator was not allowed to tour … Americans are up in arms, and not just us ‘bleeding-heart-snowflake-liberals’, either. coulter-jones.jpgSo along comes Coulter and says, aka Alex Jones, that she has knowledge that the children portrayed are actually child actors who have been coached!  Sound familiar?  Of course it does … there was Sandy Hook and the Parkland, both of which Mr. Jones claimed the survivors were ‘child actors’ and had been ‘coached’.

An estimated 2,000 children have been separated from their parents and are being housed in overflowing ‘detention centers’ – abandoned stores such as the Wal-Mart in Brownsville, Texas.  Some are teens, others much younger children, even babies.  These are not … I repeat not … child actors!  These are children, for Pete’s sake!  INNOCENT CHILDREN!  Ms. Coulter … please sit down and shut the f— up!

coulter-5Coulter’s apparent ‘concern’ is that Trump, upon seeing the images on television, will have his heart softened and loosen his ‘zero tolerance’ policy.  No need to worry, Ms. Coulter, for Donald Trump has no heart to soften!

“These child actors weeping and crying on all the other networks 24/7 right now, do not fall for it Mr. President. I get very nervous about the president getting his news from TV.”

Now, why does she think that these children are little Shirley Temples being coached to cry and wail on command?  Because, she claims, she read it in the New Yorker.  Only problem is, she didn’t reference the article directly, and several news sources – reliable ones – tried every combination of keywords and came up blank.  Finally, Ms. Coulter, with her usual dripping nastiness, said  …coulter … and finally provided a link to a 2011 New Yorker article about a woman from Africa seeking asylum in the U.S.  Hellooooooooo???? And just how does this make the case that the children on the Mexican border are coached child actors???

Excuse me, but can somebody tell me why Ann Coulter is even allowed to continue breathing the same air as the rest of us???  Why she is taking up precious resources on our planet???

Sorry … I’m riled, in case you hadn’t guessed … probably wore the paint off three more keys on my laptop tonight.

Donald Trump is using 2,000 children as pawns, as bargaining chips to obtain funding in the budget to the tune of $20 billion for his damned wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.  Not, mind you, because there is  a need for the wall, but because he promised his followers.  Of course, he also promised them, foolishly, that Mexico was going to pay for the wall, and all of us who ate our Wheaties for breakfast knew from the start that was never going to happen.

And now this blonde bimbo comes along and further denigrates these innocent children whose only crime was being born???

I fully support the right to free speech, but I am also a big fan of truth, of honesty.  Coulter is lying through her teeth, Trump is lying, and innocent children are paying the price. Coulter is an avowed white supremacist who supports white nationalist and ‘scientific racism’ causes … why would anybody listen to her???  I don’t know, but apparently some do.  And that, folks, is reason enough for this rant … that we cannot even trust the people of this nation to think with their brains.

Another One Slinks Out …

Jeff Amyx is a symbol of what is wrong with this country – with the world.  Jeff Amyx is one of the creatures that I often refer to as having slithered out from under a rock with the advent of Trump and the so-called populist movement.  Jeff Amyx, my friends, is a homophobe and in short, a hater of the human race except those who fit into his small white, Christian box.

In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled on Obergefell v Hodges in a 5-4 ruling that guarantees the right of same-sex couples to legally marry.  Mr. Amyx took umbrage with that ruling and almost immediately placed a sign in the window  of his Washburn, Tennessee hardware store …homophobic-amyx-hardwareAmyx quietly removed the sign a short time later and replaced it with one that read:

“We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.”

Just how, I wonder, does he figure that a gay person coming into his store, buying a hammer and paying for the hammer, thus putting profit in Amyx’ pocket, is violating his rights to freedom of either speech or religion?  Nobody has asked him to become transgender or gay!  Nobody even cares about his opinion, so long as he keeps it to himself!

Well, Amyx popped his ugly head back up last week, after the Supreme Court ruled that a Colorado baker was within his rights to refuse to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.  Amyx put his “No Gays Allowed” sign back in the window of his store.

“Christianity is under attack. This is a great win, don’t get me wrong, but this is not the end, this is just the beginning. Right now we’re seeing a ray of sunshine. This is ‘happy days’ for Christians all over America, but dark days will come.”

But Amyx hasn’t stopped there … it wasn’t enough to harass and discriminate, but he is now selling ‘homophobic products’.  Who knew that such a thing even existed?  And why does such a thing exist??? homophobic-sticker.pngAmyx claims to be a Baptist minister, but frankly, I think he falls far short of having the qualifications for the job.  He claims that “Christianity is under attack”, but from where I stand, he is the one doing the attacking – attacking peaceful people who only want to be left alone to love whomever they choose.

Amyx may end up regretting his decision to put his homophobia on display, however.  Yelp, the most widely-used app for rating businesses and posting reviews, received so many negative and one-star reviews for Amyx’ hardware store that they eventually had to thin them out! reviewsI visited the Yelp page for Amyx’ hardware store and despite the ‘thinning out’, there were hundreds of reviews urging consumers to boycott this business.  Take heart, folks … people like Amyx are in the minority, though a loud and obnoxious minority they are.  A recent Reuters/lpsos poll found that 72% of the people in this nation believe that businesses should not have the right on religious grounds to deny services to customers based on their sexual orientation.  Granted, it should be 99%, but 72% is still a significant majority of people who are scratching their heads and wondering, as I am, just what rock Jeff Amyx crawled out from under.

I am not a vindictive person, I believe in the old adage, “Live and Let Live”, but I have very little tolerance for bigotry in any form.  I reluctantly took a trip to Mr. Amyx’ Facebook page  where I found just about what I would have expected … support of Trump and condemnation of the LGBT community.  He praised Trump for failing to even acknowledge Pride Month for the second year in a row, while acknowledging such things as  National Homeownership Month, and National Ocean Month.  I found the picture of his business and parking lot interesting … doesn’t look like he has too many customers, does it?Amyx storefrontAnd he takes the transgender bathroom issue to a new level …Amyx-2I hope the 72% of us who are without prejudice against the LGBT community will boycott his business and by this time next year, Mr. Amyx will be seeking a job in the local grocery store or service station.  Why am I telling you about this homophobic jerk?   Because the best way to send these slugs back under the rock is to shine a bright light on them. Pouring boiling water on them would work as well, but I’m not in the mood to travel to Tennessee just to get thrown in jail!