Greta Thunberg — Simply Amazing

I have written before about the young Swedish climate activist, Greta Thunberg, and in fact she was one of my ‘good people’ one Wednesday last December.  Sometimes an activist will start like gangbusters, and then after a few months you hear nothing more about them, but not so Ms. Thunberg.  I see her name in the news at least once a week, and she has been inspirational to many young climate-conscious groups around the world.

Today, she is back in the news, and in a big way! A couple of big ways, actually.

Greta-Thunberg

Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and The 1975’s Matty Healy pose for a photo. (Photo: Jordan Hughes)

The first is that she is featured on the first track of the forthcoming album of British pop-rock band The 1975.  In the track, Greta delivers a speech about the global climate emergency, against an instrumental background by the band.  Now, I have never heard of The 1975, but I give them two thumbs up for this effort, as well as the fact that all proceeds from the track will be going to the climate action group Extinction Rebellion.

The full text of Greta’s speech on the track is at the end of this post.

In an interview with The Guardian, Greta said …

“I’m grateful to get the opportunity to get my message out to a broad new audience in a new way. I think it’s great that The 1975 is so strongly engaged in the climate crisis. We quickly need to get people in all branches of society to get involved. And this collaboration I think is something new.”


The second thing is that Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize this year.  She was nominated by Freddy Andre Oevstegaard, a parliamentary representative in Norway …

“We have nominated Greta because the climate threat may be one of the most important causes of war and conflict.”

greta-2.pngThe Norwegian Nobel Committee will announce its latest laureates in October, and those selected will receive their prizes in December.  I do so want to see her win it!


And the third thing that has put Greta in the news this week is that she will be coming to the U.S. next month to attend a United Nations summit meeting on global warming in New York!  Now, you may remember from my previous post about Greta that she does not fly on airplanes because of the CO2 emissions, so you may be wondering how she plans to get here.

“Good news! I’ll be joining the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York. I’ve been offered a ride on the 60ft racing boat Malizia II.”

Malizia-2

Malizia II

Malizia II, is outfitted with solar panels and underwater turbines to generate electricity. That should make the entire trip possible without burning any fossil fuels.

Boris Herrmann, who will skipper the boat, said the voyage would not be the luxury cruise that a high-tech yacht might conjure in the popular imagination. The Malizia II is built for speed, not comfort. It has no kitchen, refrigeration system, air-conditioning or showers.

Think about this one for a minute, folks.  This young woman is so committed to saving our planet that she is willing to spend two weeks on a small boat, eating mostly freeze-dried and vacuum-packed meals, in order to do her part to save the environment.  Greta is sixteen years old … most kids her age are attached at the hip to their cell phones, ipods, laptops, and wouldn’t dream of missing a shower or a hot meal, let alone spend two weeks in a small boat on choppy seas!

Greta will be accompanied on the trip by a filmmaker; her father, Svante; and Pierre Casiraghi, the head of the Malizia II racing team who is also the grandson of Prince Rainier III of Monaco and the American actress Grace Kelly.

Greta is, with her parents’ approval, taking the year off from school to campaign against climate change, also plans to attend the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in December in Santiago, Chile.

I was impressed by this young woman when I first wrote about her eight months ago, but today … the only word I have is “WOW!!!”  She puts us all to shame, and particularly those who would “deny” climate science in order to justify their own greed.


I would like to end with a quote that was sent to me tonight by a very special friend:

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” – Helen Keller

Ms. Thunberg is doing something that she can do … let’s all try to do just one thing more that we can do to help heal and protect our home, planet Earth.


Full text of Greta’s speech on The 1975 track:

We are right now in the beginning of a climate and ecological crisis.

And we need to call it what it is. An emergency.

We must acknowledge that we do not have the situation under control and that we don’t have all the solutions yet. Unless those solutions mean that we simply stop doing certain things.

We admit that we are losing this battle.

We have to acknowledge that the older generations have failed. All political movements in their present form have failed.

But homo sapiens have not yet failed.

Yes, we are failing, but there is still time to turn everything around. We can still fix this. We still have everything in our own hands.

But unless we recognise the overall failures of our current systems, we most probably don’t stand a chance.

We are facing a disaster of unspoken sufferings for enormous amounts of people. And now is not the time for speaking politely or focusing on what we can or cannot say. Now is the time to speak clearly.

Solving the climate crisis is the greatest and most complex challenge that homo sapiens have ever faced. The main solution, however, is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop our emissions of greenhouse gases.

And either we do that, or we don’t.

You say that nothing in life is black or white.

But that is a lie. A very dangerous lie.

Either we prevent a 1.5 degree of warming, or we don’t.

Either we avoid setting off that irreversible chain reaction beyond human control, or we don’t.

Either we choose to go on as a civilization or we don’t.

That is as black or white as it gets.

Because there are no grey areas when it comes to survival.

Now we all have a choice.

We can create transformational action that will safeguard the living conditions for future generations.

Or we can continue with our business as usual and fail.

That is up to you and me.

And yes, we need a system change rather than individual change. But you cannot have one without the other.

If you look through history, all the big changes in society have been started by people at the grassroots level. People like you and me.

So, I ask you to please wake up and make the changes required possible. To do your best is no longer good enough. We must all do the seemingly impossible.

Today, we use about 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground.

So, we can no longer save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed.

Everything needs to change. And it has to start today.

So, everyone out there, it is now time for civil disobedience. It is time to rebel.

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Snarky Snippets, Volume #105

That’s right, folks, this is the 105th  version of Snarky Snippets!!!  The concept started as just one post on a day that I didn’t have a major topic, but had several little things I wanted to write about.  Several commentors suggested I should do this more often, so I began writing snarky snippets once a week or so.  Nowadays, however, it is more like 3-4 times a week!  This morning I wondered if I had done one hundred yet, so I did a quick keyword search and came up with 104, making this the 105th!  I start with some rather cheering news to kick off the weekend …


Roger goes down in flames!

roger-stoneWell, folks, you know how Trump has said that the Mueller investigation into the ways in which Russia interfered with our 2016 election and who may have been involved within Trump’s campaign, is naught but a ‘hoax’, a ‘witch hunt’, and that nobody has been convicted of anything?  WRONG!  Just this morning, Trump’s long-time friend, ally and former aide was convicted on all seven felony counts with which he had been charged!  ALL SEVEN!

The friendship between Stone and Trump dates back more than 40 years.  Does anybody really believe that Stone was involved, but that Trump knew nothing about it?  I don’t.  Trump did not testify in person in the Mueller investigation, but rather submitted answers in writing to the questions posed by Mueller and his team.  In one such answer, he claimed that he could not recall the specifics of any of 21 conversations he had with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election.

Stone is the sixth individual to be convicted on charges stemming from the Mueller investigation.  The others are:

  • Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman
  • Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor
  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime attorney and “fixer”
  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide
  • Paul Manafort, Stone’s former partner

Stone-orange-suitRemember how, after the Mueller report was released and Attorney General William Barr gave his misleading summation of the report, Trump kept screeching, “No obstruction, No collusion!”  It was a lie then, we all knew it was a lie, and Stone’s conviction proves the lie.  I wonder what ol’ Trumpie will have to say now?

Stone’s sentencing will be interesting.  On one count alone, he could face up to 20 years, which at age 67 could amount to a life sentence.  It is anticipated that he will receive a lighter sentence, but then again … remember when he posted a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson with the cross hairs of a gun near her head?  Might not go so well for him after all.roger-stone


Ohio wants to “Make America Stupid Again”

Most days, I am ashamed to say that I live in the state of Ohio.  Like any other state, it has its ups and downs, but since the state’s electoral votes went for Trump in 2016, I would just as soon live in Bangladesh or somewhere.  Today’s latest had me picking up my jaw from the floor where it had dropped.

A proposal in Ohio would allow students to be exempted from answering questions correctly in school if their wrong answers conform with their personal religious beliefs.  In essence, a student wouldn’t be penalized if their answers were scientifically wrong, even if they’re in a science class or science-based school.

In part, the bill reads that no school “shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments.”  So, for example, if a young person answers on a test that the earth is flat, his/her answer cannot be counted wrong as long as he or she claims it is what is taught by their religion???  Science is factual, not subject to the whims of one religion or another.  The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.  This bill is discriminatory, for if two children both get the answer to question #14 wrong, but one claims it was a result of her religious beliefs, then she will not have it counted against her, while the other will.  Discrimination!

The proposal has already been passed as a bill in the Ohio state House of Representatives. It now goes to the Republican-led Senate, where, if passed, it would move onto Republican Governor Mike DeWine’s office for his signature.  I swear if this one passes, I’m moving to a different state!


Only in Kentucky …

I have a number of friends who live in Kentucky, so I am not putting down the state per se, but let’s face it, this is the state that keeps sending Mitch McConnell back to the Senate time and time again … says something, don’t you think?

Well, this latest has nothing to do with politics, but it crossed my radar last night and I let out a WTF before I could catch myself.  The headline reads …

Kentucky man wins 3-year court battle to put ‘IM GOD’ on license plate

Back in 2016, the man, one Ben Hart, ordered personalized plates, otherwise known as ‘vanity plates’ for obvious reasons.  He requested the plates read “IM GOD”, but was turned down by the state Department of Transportation.  Some things are just deemed to be inappropriate.  Most people would have just picked something else, or given up on the personalized plates altogether, but not Ben Hart.

He took the state to court, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union in Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Three years this has been in process, until finally on Wednesday a U.S. District Court judge in Frankfort ruled in favor of Hart, saying personalized license plates are private speech, and protected under the 1st Amendment. 🙄

ben-hartI wonder how much money was spent on this foolishness?


Well, folks, that’s a wrap for today’s episode of Snarky Snippets!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

♫ I’ll Be There ♫

Tonight’s song has nothing whatsoever to do with shirts, cats, cookies, dirty dishes, or coffee mugs …

Released in 1970, this was the first Jackson 5 hit not written by “The Corporation,” a collection of Motown writers lead by the chief of the label, Berry Gordy. The Corporation were based in California, unlike most Motown writers, who were in the Detroit offices. This song was written by Hal Davis (who also produced it), Bob West, Willie Hutch, and Berry Gordy.

In this song, a man tells his former lover that he will always be there for her, and that even if she finds someone new, she can always go back to him. This statement of unconditional fealty makes it one of the more touching and romantic songs of the era, sweetened by the innocence of Michael Jackson’s voice – he was just 11 years old when he recorded it.

Now, I like the Jackson 5 version quite well, but 22 years later, Mariah Carey would release her own version of this, and I like that quite well also.  Mariah’s is more of a romantic duet with Trey Lorenz.  In fact, if you asked me to choose between the two, I couldn’t … each is special in it’s own way.  So, I offer you both tonight … take your pick!

I’ll Be There
The Jackson 5/Mariah Carey

You and I must make a pact
We must bring salvation back
Where there is love, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

I’ll reach out my hand to you
I’ll have faith in all you do
Just call my name and I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

I’ll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I’m so glad that I found you

I’ll be there with a love that’s strong
I’ll be your strength
I’ll keep holdin’ on (holdin’ on)
Yes I will, yes I will

Let me fill your heart with joy and laughter
Togetherness, girl, is all I’m after
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

I’ll be there to protect you (yeah baby)
With unselfish love that respects you
Just call my name, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

I’ll be there to comfort you
Build my world of dreams around you
I’m so glad that I found you

I’ll be there with a love that’s strong
I’ll be your strength
I’ll keep holdin’ on
Ooh ooh ooh
Yes I will (holdin’ on, holdin’ on)
Yes I will

If you should ever find someone new
I know he better be good to you
‘Cause if he doesn’t
I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

Don’t you know baby I’ll be there
I’ll be there I’ll be there

Just call my name, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)
Just look over your shoulders honey, ooh!
I’ll be there, I’ll be there,
Whenever you need me, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)

Don’t you know baby
I’ll be there, I’ll be there
Just call my name, I’ll be there (I’ll be there)
Oh oh oh oh I’ll be there, I’ll be there

Songwriters: Berry Gordy Jr / Bob West / Hal Davis / Willie Hutch
I’ll Be There lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

A Chef Who Cannot Cook?

What would you think of a bartender who has never mixed a drink, or a chef who has never cooked a meal?  Or how about a judge who has never tried a case?  All pretty unqualified for their jobs, wouldn’t you say?  Oh wait … or how about a president who has never read the Constitution, who has lied, cheated and stolen, and who has never held a government position?  Seems we’re on a roll here, folks!

But, my point today is the third one … a judge who has never tried a case.  That would be Judge Steven Menashi, whom the Senate just confirmed to a lifetime appointment on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Let’s look at a summary of Menashi’s experience …

  • In 2001, Menashi earned a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Dartmouth College.
  • He then worked at the Hoover Institute for three years as a public affairs fellow and an associate editor of the institute’s Policy Review.
  • From 2004 to 2005 he was an editorial writer for The New York Sun.
  • In 2008, he graduated in 2008 with a Juris Doctor from Stanford Law School.
  • He served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit during the 2008–2009 term, and to Associate Justice Samuel Alito of the Supreme Court of the United States during the 2010–2011 term.
  • From 2011 to 2016, Menashi worked in the New York City office of Kirkland & Ellis, where he became a partner.
  • From 2016 to 2017, Menashi was an assistant professor of law at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School.
  • In September 2018, Menashi moved to the White House to become a Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President.

Th-th-that’s it, folks … the sum total of Mr. Menashi’s career in eight short bullet points.  Never sat on a judicial bench, never tried a case … and now he’s a lifetime, high-ranking judge.  Well, I think I’ll just run for U.S. Senator next year … I’m as qualified for that as Menashi is for a judgeship!

Menashi

Steven Menashi — what a look, eh?

But this is an interesting appointment and sped-up confirmation folks.  You see, his confirmation hearing was on September 11th, more than two months ago, and there were objections from both sides of the aisle, in part because he refused to answer their questions regarding the role he played in shaping the Trump administration’s immigration policies.  Another point of contention was about an article he had written in the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law about ethnonationalism and Israel.

In addition, Menashi has a history of speaking against women’s rights, as well as LGBT rights.  And, when he was sent a letter by the Senate Judiciary Committee asking about his knowledge of Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Menashi refused to respond.

It is interesting, as well, to note that on Wednesday, the same day the Senate invoked cloture, putting an end to further debate about Menashi’s nomination and forcing a vote, a federal appeals court ruled against Trump’s claim that his financial records should remain closed, upholding last week’s ruling by the very court Menashi has been confirmed to, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.  Perhaps if Menashi’s confirmation had not been held up for two months, he would have already been on the bench last Monday, November 4th, and Trump might well have won his case.  Think on that one for just a minute.  As it is, he is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, begging them to ‘shield’ his tax returns being released.  In other words, begging the Court to affirm that he is, in fact, above the law of the land.

Trump’s argument was that U.S. presidents are immune from investigation while in office. A district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled against him, saying that the subpoena was proper and that the president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, must comply.  If there is any integrity left on the Supreme Court, they will rule in favour of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and against Trump’s desire for secrecy and dishonesty.  Don’t hold your breath.

Another seemingly unqualified nominee, Lawrence VanDyke, who Trump nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  His confirmation hearing was held on October 30th, and the Senate is expected to decide on his nomination on November 21st.

VanDyke

Lawrence VanDyke

A couple of things go against Mr. VanDyke … he has taken an anti-LGBT stance in the past, and initially refused to state that he could and would be fair to LGBT people who came before him in the courtroom.  The second thing is that the American Bar Association (ABA) has rated him “not qualified”.  As there is some dispute about the fairness of the ABA rating, and I haven’t as yet had time to do sufficient research, I will withhold my judgment, but just warn that this is one we should keep an eye on.

Since his inauguration, Trump has been stacking the courts with ultra-conservative candidates.  As of November 14, 2019, the United States Senate has confirmed 162 Article III judges nominated by President Trump, including 2 Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, 46 judges for the United States Courts of Appeals, 112 judges for the United States District Courts, and 2 judges for the United States Court of International Trade.  Only a relative handful have been rejected by the Senate, or are on hold pending further consideration.

The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of powers between the three branches of federal government, it calls for a system of checks and balances to ensure no one branch oversteps its bounds, and it calls for the Judiciary Branch to be non-partisan and independent of the other two branches.  More and more, that independence seems to be slipping away, just as do the separation of powers and the checks and balances.  There are enough boot-lickers in both branches of Congress to ensure that almost no legislation is enacted … and now, it appears there may be enough in the judiciary to ultimately ensure that Trump will, indeed, always be above the law.

Funny, isn’t it, how Mitch McConnell blocked so many of President Obama’s nominees, the most notable being the nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the shoes of the late Antonin Scalia?  Ah well, I guess if you’re rich and powerful, you don’t need to be fair and just, but can make your own rules, eh?

Day One of Inquiry-Media Already Drops the Ball

Since I couldn’t bring myself to write about yesterday’s televised hearings, I will share with you Jeff’s take on the media’s response which was, to say the least, largely lackluster. Thanks, Jeff, for a great assessment … you are spot on!

On The Fence Voters

So day one of the impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump is now in the books. Ambassador William Taylor and Under Secretary of State George Kent gave testimony for over five hours. Day two is tomorrow, with former Ukrainian Ambassador Maria Yovanovitch set to take the stand. I thought day one went well for the Democrats, and I planned on giving my overall opinion on some of what I observed–until I saw the following tweets:

Unfortunately, my mood changed quickly. Really NBC News and Jeff Mason of Reuters? Is this is the best you can do? A “lack of pizzazz,” “boring,” and “hearings begin…

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Filosofa Reflects …

snap-crackle-popYou all remember Snap, Crackle and Pop of Rice Krispies fame?  Last night, after working for a few hours on emails, posts, comments, etc., I stood to refill my coffee cup, and I distinctly heard those three characters … in my knees.  And hips.  And feet.  What the …???  It’s likely not the first time I had heard this cacophony of sounds, but … perhaps the first time it penetrated the fog that surround my brain and allowed me to realize that sound was coming, not from a box of cereal, but from ME!  Yes, those were my body parts crackling, snapping, and popping!  What can this possibly mean???  OH NO!!! 

I’m OLD!!!old-shocked

Seriously, though … there comes a point in our lives where we look in the mirror and ask ourselves, “who is that?”  Or, “how did I get to this point, and where have the years gone?”

At this point, once we accept that we are no longer 30 years old, and no longer have the world on a string, we reflect.  We look back on the years and ask ourselves some tough questions.  Was I a good person?  If there is a scorecard, did I give more than I took?  Did my life have purpose, in the grand scheme of things?  What was my single greatest achievement in life?  What was my worst mistake, and did I atone for it in some way?  And the real kicker … if I had it to do over again, what would I do differently?

Thing is, though, that the answers on Tuesday might be entirely different from the answers on Friday.  Take that first question, for example.  “Was I a good person?”  Well, first of all, define “good”.  There was the time that I threatened to beat a lady with a shovel for taking too long checking out at a local market.  I wasn’t very good that day.  But then, there was the time that I gave a family $1,000 that was most of my own bank account at Christmas to buy gifts for their children.  Does one outweigh or offset the other?

And, about that “single greatest achievement in life” … is it my children?  Well, one child now.  That one child is making a difference in the world every day.  She is a nurse, and one who entered the field because she wanted to help people, to dedicate her life to others.  I gave birth to her, taught her all of life’s important lessons, taught her to think for herself.  Do I get a brownie point for that?  No, I think that point belongs on her scorecard.

I spent some 30 years as an accountant … more than once, I compared the field of accounting to a career in prostitution, reckoning that the most successful accountants sold their souls upriver.  Twice during my career, I quit jobs rather than break the law or sacrifice my integrity.  Does that make me a good person?  Doubtful, as somebody else simply stepped in to do the dirty work.

On to another question, then.  Did I give more than I took?  This one is easy … or is it?  I think that yes, I did, but then … did I really?  I first thought the answer was a resounding “yes”, but then … I look around.  I have given small amounts from time to time to a variety of humanitarian organizations, but … I have also lived a life of convenience.  It is snowing outside, and my heat is set at a comfortable 72°.  I have a refrigerator and freezer full of food, a chicken is simmering in the crock pot, and quite literally, I want for nothing.  Or at least nothing that money can buy.  I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but neither am I suffering.  I spent $89 at the grocery today, $10 of which was for a bottle of wine to help me relax enough to sleep at night, and $5 of which was to purchase the aforementioned chicken.  Some people are living on $25 or less for a week.  More to the point, perhaps, some people would not see a chicken killed for their own pleasure, so here again, I fail.

So, at the end of the day, I could compare myself to some and be seen as a good person, or to others and be seen as a total dud, a failure.  So, the question really is, I think, whether we, each and every one of us, believe we did our best, gave our all.  For me, I am not proud of all the times I have put self ahead of the greater good, but neither will I kick myself for the times I have failed, for through failure I have learned.

As we get older, as we come to realized that our lives are on the downhill side, we ask ourselves the questions, we contemplate whether we might have done more … and I think that we will, if we are honest with ourselves, come up lacking.  But you know what?  I think that just the fact we take the time to ask the questions, to look back, to assess and analyze, says something about our character.  I hope that at the end of the day, more people will remember me with a smile than with a scowl.

♫ Lean On Me ♫

I rarely have to go looking for a song … they are usually playing around in my head, just begging to be released.  But, for the past couple of days, the last one I played, Al Green’s Let’s Stay Together, wouldn’t leave my head, even though I played it here, gave it permission to hop out of my head and into yours, but it had seemingly carved out a niche somewhere in my head and … given the cold temps outside, I think it liked it in there.  So, tonight I went in search of something that I maybe hadn’t heard in a while, and came across this little gem.

This song, written and recorded by singer-songwriter Bill Withers, was released in April 1972 as the first single from his second album, Still Bill.  It was his first and only number one single.  According to Withers …

“This was my second album, so I could afford to buy myself a little Wurlitzer electric piano. So I bought a little piano and I was sitting there just running my fingers up and down the piano. In the course of doing the music, that phrase crossed my mind, so then you go back and say, ‘OK, I like the way that phrase, Lean On Me, sounds with this song.’ So you go back and say, ‘How do I arrive at this as a conclusion to a statement? What would I say that would cause me to say Lean On Me?’ At that point, it’s between you and your actual feelings, you and your morals and what you’re really like. You probably do more thinking about it after it’s done.”

Withers did not record his first song until he was 32 years old. He was in the US Navy for nine years, then worked at a factory making parts for airplanes. Says Withers:

“Being from a rural, West Virginia setting, that kind of circumstance would be more accessible to me than it would be to a guy living in New York where people step over you if you’re passed out on the sidewalk, or Los Angeles, where you could die on the side of the freeway and it would probably be eight days before anyone noticed you were dead. Coming from a place where people were a little more attentive to each other, less afraid, that would cue me to have those considerations. I think what we say is influenced by how we are, what’s been our life experiences. Now, I notice young guys writing about shooting each other in the city and stuff like that, well I would never have said anything like that because it was not my experience, I’m not from a big city. I think circumstance dictates what people think.”

Lean On Me
Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can’t carry
I’m right up the road
I’ll share your load

If you just call me (call me)
If you need a friend (call me) call me uh huh(call me) if you need a friend (call me)
If you ever need a friend (call me)
Call me (call me) call me (call me) call me
(Call me) call me (call me) if you need a friend
(Call me) call me (call me) call me (call me) call me (call me) call me (call me)

Songwriters: Bill Withers
Lean On Me lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

Filosofa’s Mini Rants

Because I cannot afford a new computer at the moment, I shan’t write about today’s impeachment proceedings except to say that should Jim Jordan and I ever run into each other in person, his head is likely to look like a rotten turnip once I am done bashing it!  Since it is not prudent for me to write about the proceedings today, I figured a few snarky snippets or mini rants might alleviate some of the pressure in my head.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell posted the following on Twitter last evening …

“Critical legislation is currently frozen in place. Casualties of Democrats’ apparent inability to make headway on anything besides fighting with the White House.”

Seriously, Mitchie???  How many bills have been passed by the House that are sitting somewhere in your office because you refuse to even bring them to the Senate floor for a vote???  This was the most hypocritical statement I have ever heard!  The House is doing its job at the moment, investigating the criminal activities of the person sitting in the Oval Office.  You’ll get your chance to try, and hopefully convict him soon.  Meanwhile, why not earn your fat paycheck by passing some of the legislation that has been sent to you by the House?McConnellYou could start with … For The People Act to secure America’s elections, expand voting rights, and get money out of politics.  It was passed by the House and sent to the Senate 250 days ago!  The election is in less than 12 months, and your fat patootie is still sitting on the bill to ensure the integrity of the election.  Do Your JOB, Mitchell!


Gonna need a new computer after all if I keep beating the lettering off the keys …


U.S. representative Devin Nunes from California is an idiot.  There has never been any doubt.  I’m seriously considering reprising my Idiot of the Week feature for people like Jim Jordan, Mitch McConnell, and Devin Nunes! The man once co-sponsored an act to discourage frivolous lawsuits, but yet he himself seems to be ‘sue-crazy’.  In just the past two years, he has sued …

  • A stone fruit farmer in Dinuba, and two other people, for conspiring to damage his 2018 reelection by asking that Nunes not be allowed to call himself a “farmer” on the ballot.
  • The research firm Fusion GPS and a Democratic group called Campaign for Accountability for attempting to interfere with his “investigation” (quote marks are mine) into ties between President Trump and Russia when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
  • Twitter and a couple of parody accounts, including @DevinCow, who has called Nunes “a treasonous cowpoke.” He is asking for $250 million to assuage his hurt feelings.
  • McClatchy, parent company of Nunes’ hometown paper, the Fresno Bee, for writing that he had a financial interest in a winery sued by an employee who was asked to work on a charity cruise where men behaved very, very badly.
  • And, most recently, Esquire magazine and the journalist Ryan Lizza, who Nunes claims have defamed him to the tune of $75 million in writing about the Nunes family dairy farm, which is not in California, but in Iowa.

nunesSheesh … is he trying to compete with Donald Trump for the Guinness World Record of most lawsuits?

I could actually write an entire post about Nunes, but he’s not worth that much of my time or energy, so I will confine myself to his latest antics.  Now, Nunes is a conspiracy theorist … almost as much of one as Alex Jones!  Back in 2018, he came up with some long-winded theory that the FBI was conspiring against Trump.  As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes participated in yesterday’s impeachment hearings … the ones I’m not writing about tonight.

Nunes began with an opening statement which included a misleading claim that Democrats on the committee had tried to “obtain nude pictures of Trump from Russian pranksters who pretended to be Ukrainian officials.”  Then he went on to allege that the Ukraine whistleblower who reported Trump’s call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was “acknowledged to have a bias against President Trump” and falsely claimed that the whistleblower’s “attorney touted a ‘coup’ against the president.”

Nunes also falsely claimed that Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was to express “concerns about foreign corruption,” even though Trump did not mention “corruption” once on the call. Nunes also falsely claimed that the “officials’ alarm at the president’s actions was typically based on second-hand, third-hand and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo,” even though multiple witnesses testified about first-hand interactions with Trump and with others.

Here’s another one whose head should be made to look like a rotten turnip!


Oh, and now that you’ve gone and mentioned Trump …


The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, arrived at the White House today for a visit with Donald.  Don and Recep have a close relationship, there are ties that bind them.  Back in 2015, after Trump threw his hat in the ring, he did an interview with then-Breitbart host Steve Bannon.  When asked about how he would deal with Turkey if he were to become president …

“I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one. … And I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well. They’re amazing people. They’re incredible people. They have a strong leader.”

Yep, straight from the horse’s mouth … a “little conflict of interest”.  But wait, it gets even better.  Two of Erdoğan’s sons-in-law play a role here.  One is Turkey’s Minister of Finance, and deals directly with Trump and Trump’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner (you remember, the one who lied on his security clearance forms and was, therefore, not given the highest level security clearance?).  The other son-in-law is actually a Trump business partner and advisor.

After a phone conversation between Trump and Erdoğan last month, Trump pulled our troops out of Syria, leaving Erdoğan to invade the Kurdish-held lands and devastate our allies, the Kurds.  And yet, Trump praised Erdoğan …

“We’ve been friends for a long time, almost from day-one. We understand each others’ country. We understand where we are coming from. They’re highly respected in their country and in the region.”

Understands???  Trump understands NOTHING!  Another dictator that Trump praises and claims a kinship with, while he feeds our allies to the sharks.


Well, I thought this little rant might help me calm down, get rid of some of the angst residing within my head, but it has only made it worse.  Perhaps a little snack …

Will The Court Do The Right Thing?

Nearly a million young people may soon find themselves adrift, without a home or a job, and yet it is barely a blip on the radar, lost in the hoopla surrounding the impeachment proceedings.  Granted, the impeachment of a corrupt president is high priority, is perhaps the most important thing happening in this nation at the moment.  But, the lives of 700,000+ young people are pretty important, too.

Imagine you came to this country as a very young child … your first memories are of life in the United States.  You speak English, you went to school in this country, got an after-school job when you were 16, graduated high school with honours, and now you’re in college, studying to become a doctor, a teacher, or an accountant.  Your grades have earned you a partial scholarship, you are working nights at a food processing plant … and tomorrow it could all be taken away.  You could lose your job, be kicked out of school, and in fact be deported.

Deported?  To where?  You’ve never been outside the U.S. in your conscious memory!  This is your home!  You know nobody in the country of your parents’ origin.  What will you do?  How will you live?  You barely even speak Spanish!  And why?  What have you done wrong?  You’ve never even had so much as a parking ticket … you’ve lived your life well, respecting others, respecting the country that gave your family the opportunity for a better life.

More than 700,000 young people may face this situation soon, if he Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favour on the issue of ending DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that has been in effect since 2012.  Yesterday, the Court heard arguments from both sides, and indications are that they will likely rule in Trump’s favour.

In 2012, President Barack Obama introduced the program, which shields people who were brought to the United States as children from deportation. It was intended as a stopgap measure, and didn’t provide a pathway to citizenship. But it did allow participants, known as Dreamers, to get work permits, and in some states, including California, to access in-state tuition and legally drive. Dreamers can renew their status in two-year intervals.

To be eligible for DACA status, applicants had to show that they had arrived in the United States before they turned 16 and were no older than 30, had lived in the United States for at least the previous five years, were a high school graduate or a veteran, and had committed no serious crimes. The status lasts for two years, allows recipients to work legally and is renewable, but it does not provide a path to citizenship.

In 2017, for reasons I cannot understand, Trump decided to end the program.  Trump had previously indicated his support for DACA, but it was the work of white supremacist Stephen Miller and racist former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that convinced Trump to end the program.  They claimed that the program was illegal and unconstitutional, and apparently Trump, never having read the Constitution, decided to end the program.  In his formal announcement to end the program, Trump wrote …

“I do not favor punishing children. The program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.”

However, it has been successfully defended in court, not once, not twice, but three times.  Three federal appeals courts have ruled that when an administration revokes a policy like this, on which so many people, businesses and even the U.S. economy have relied, the administration must provide a fully supported rationale that weighs the pros and cons of the program, the costs and the benefits. Faced with those lower court decisions, the Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court, where it now awaits its fate.

These young people have faced discrimination that nobody reading this post has likely ever faced. They are banned from many colleges, are not eligible for any federal grants or loans, and in most states,  they cannot even qualify for in-state tuition.  And yet thousands of them have graduated from college in the United States. How do they do it? The motivation of many of these students is so strong it is almost absurd.  And if Trump has his way, it may well be a death sentence for many of the 700,000.

Maria Nava, who graduated from high school in 2003, received no state aid. But her generous sister promised to contribute her own earnings to help put Nava through college. Trouble was, their combined earnings weren’t much. Nava used up the small private scholarships she earned as a top-ranking student. Most semesters, the sisters could afford just one class at Nava’s local community college. One class at a time. Nava graduated from her two-year college in 11 years.

If the Supreme Court overturns lower court injunctions and says Trump followed the law in rescinding DACA, not one of these amazing, accomplished young people will be able to work for a law-abiding employer in the United States.  After Nava’s 11 years at a two-year college, after more than 8,000 DACA teachers have been hired by U.S. school systems, after 14,000 DACA nurses and other professionals got jobs in health care — all who have jobs will have to be fired when their DACA expires. Those who are students will be ineligible for a job with a law-abiding employer.

I sincerely hope that there are five justices on the Supreme Court who have not exchanged their conscience for partisanship.  If the Court sides with Donald Trump & Stephen Miller on this issue, we will know that the Judiciary Branch of our government is no longer an independent, non-partisan branch, but rather an extension of the Executive Branch, currently led by a bigoted, corrupt, wanna-be dictator.

Good People Doing Good Things — Young People Around The World!

Today is World Kindness Day, so it’s rather a good day for this post, don’t you think?  Good people come in all sizes, shapes & colours, and there is no age requirement for being a good person.  Every now and then, I like to focus this feature on young people who are doing good things, for it gives us reason to hope for a brighter future.  And believe me, there are plenty of them out there!


Take, for example, Nicholas Lowinger.  Now, Nicholas had a good example to follow, for his mother worked in various homeless shelters across the state of Rhode Island.  When Nicholas was only five years old, his mother took him to visit in one of the shelters, and he quickly realized that the children in the shelter were living in circumstances that were very different from his own.  While Nicholas had a brand-new pair of light-up sneakers, he saw children in the shelter who had no shoes.nick-lowinger

“I saw other kids my age who looked just like me. The only difference was, they were wearing old, tattered shoes that were falling apart. Some didn’t have a pair of shoes to call their own. I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in a family that is able to provide me with whatever I need. A lot of kids here in the U.S. don’t have the same opportunities.”

Fast forward to 2010, when Nicholas was 12 years old and met a homeless brother and sister duo at school who took turns going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them.  Nicholas gave the boy a pair of his own basketball sneakers, but it gave him an idea.

“I didn’t want to make one donation and stop there. I wanted it to be something I could do for the rest of my life.”

With the help of his parents, he then started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.   Since 2010, the organization has donated new footwear to more than 100,000 homeless children in 35 states.  Take a look at this short clip to see Nicholas tell a bit of his story.

Two thumbs up to this young man whose social conscience began at a very early age!  👍👍


Or how about sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen … Six years ago, these two sisters, then ages 12 and 10, decided they were going to do something about the plastic problem on their island of Bali.  The girls were inspired by the country of Rwanda’s ban of polyethylene bags in 2008 and decided to try to get their native Bali to do the same.

Bali is part of the island nation of Indonesia, which is the world’s second biggest polluter when it comes to marine plastic, trailing only China.

The two sisters got the idea for Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 after a lesson at school about influential world leaders — change-makers — including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

“My sister and I went home that day thinking, ‘Well, what can we do as kids living on the island of Bali?’ You see, we didn’t want to wait until we were older to start making a difference. It wasn’t even a question, really. It was more like, what can we do, as kids, right now.”

The answer was right in their own backyard …Bali-beach

“It got to the point where on weekends when we would go to our childhood beach, if we went swimming there, a plastic bag would wrap around your arm. And you say just, enough is enough.”

They went online and discovered that over 40 countries had already banned or taxed plastic bags.

“We thought, ‘Well, if they can do it, c’mon, Bali! C’mon, Indonesia! We can do it, too!’ So, without a business plan or a strategy or a budget, like my mom will tell you, we went forward with a pure passion and intention to make our island home plastic bag free.”

They got some friends together, went online to start a petition and got 6,000 signatures in less than a day! They spread awareness through school and community workshops. They organized massive beach cleanup campaigns, all the while drawing international attention and that of local politicians too.

“I think one of the biggest tools that pushed us forward was our decision to go on a food strike.”

The sisters put the word out about their plan on social media. Local media picked it up, and that prompted the governor at the time, I Made Pastika, to do what any savvy politician would do when faced with two teenage girls threatening a hunger strike. He invited them to come see him.

“Within 24 hours, we had a phone call and then the next day we were picked up from school and escorted to the office of the governor.”

Pastika signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the sisters to work toward eliminating plastic on the island — and later pledged to rid Bali of plastic bags by 2018. That didn’t happen, but the sisters kept engaging government at every level — local, municipal and national — to keep up the pressure. Melati Wijsen says she learned a lot about dealing with politicians in the process.Melati-IsabelBut … in December 2018, the new governor of Bali announced a law banning single-use plastic in 2019, thanks in part to the sisters’ efforts and those of like-minded NGOs.  Last year, the girls founded their own NGO (non-governmental organization), Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

“We’re actually now in 28 locations around the world, and it’s all led by young people. We’ve created a starter kit and a handbook that guides them through this process of how to start a movement.”

Bali-beach-2These young women are pretty awesome, don’t you think?  Perhaps we need them to come over here?  Another two thumbs up!  👍👍


And then there’s Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone, the “world’s youngest self-taught engineer”.  Kelvin got his start when he began looking for ways to fix local problems with technology as an 11-year-old, just five years after the country’s volatile civil war ended.Kelvin-DoeKelvin Doe grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At the age of 11, he started collecting scrap material on the way home from school. He discovered that with a little bit of tinkering he could make working parts from things that others had thrown out. Feeling inspired he’d go to bed at 7pm only to wake up in the middle of the night and tinker while the rest of his family slept.

He went on to build a community radio station out of recycled parts that he powered with a generator also made out of reused material. David Sengeh, a PhD student at the MIT media lab and Kelvin’s mentor, said: “In Sierra Leone, other young people suddenly feel they can be like Kelvin.”

In 2016, at the age of 19, Kelvin became an honorary board member of Emergency USA (a global non-profit that provides free medical care for those affected by war and poverty) and founding the Kelvin Doe Foundation, a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering young people in Africa to design innovative solutions to tackle some of the most critical issues in their communities.

Take a look at this video from when he was only fifteen …

Wow, huh?  I’m in awe of this young man!  Another two thumbs-up!  👍👍


Okay, folks, I’ve run out of thumbs now, so that wraps this week’s “good people” post up, but hopefully you found something to love and to inspire you about these young people!  Until next week … remember, if you can’t find a good people, then just go ahead and be one!

Please Mayor Bloomberg, Don’t do it

Jeff shocked me today by posting not one, but TWO posts! This one … he speaks for me with every single word. We do NOT need wealthy businessmen running our government … men who have never in their entire lives known what it’s like to have to beg for someone to help you pay the rent, or make a choice between paying the electric bill or taking your sick kid to the doctor! Thank you, Jeff, for this timely and apropos post!

On The Fence Voters

Instead, how about an effort to end homelessness?

So now Michael Bloomberg is considering a run for the presidency. Please, Mr. Mayor, do us all a favor and un-consider.

I’m sorry. I’ve had about enough of billionaires with political aspirations. Look, I admire what many of these guys have accomplished in life. Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have donated billions of their fortunes to worthy causes. And Bloomberg himself has donated to many charities. I do not begrudge them for making a ton of money. It’s not their success that turns me off — whining about paying a bit more in taxes? Oh yeah, that does it.

Have we not learned anything at all? The idea that people can dip into their massive fortunes to, in a sense, try to buy themselves into political office is unseemly and just plain wrong. It’s something we need to fix as part of…

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