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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How Far Is Too Far?

No president in modern times has escaped the criticism of the press.  It is a fact of life that if the press are doing their jobs, they will inevitably frustrate and even anger the president from time to time.  Most presidents, however, respect the Fourth Estate, realize that what they are doing is precisely what they are supposed to do, and try to work with them. Such is not the case with Donald Trump.

He has denigrated the legitimate press since long before he won the election, and has taken his press-bashing to new highs since taking office nearly a year ago.  But last week, he crossed yet another line of propriety.  His plan is to have a “Fake News Awards” presentation.

 “I will be announcing THE MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR on Monday at 5:00 o’clock. Subjects will cover Dishonesty & Bad Reporting in various categories from the Fake News Media. Stay tuned!” – 8:05 PM – Jan 2, 2018

Apparently something came up that delayed his plans, possibly his feud on Sunday with the Wall Street Journal …

“The Fake News Awards, those going to the most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media, will be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th, rather than this coming Monday. The interest in, and importance of, these awards is far greater than anyone could have anticipated!” – 3:35 PM – 7 Jan 2018

fake news awards.jpgCan you imagine President Obama, or even President Bush speaking in this manner? Now, obviously this is not only poor form and poor taste, but is so beneath the dignity of the Oval Office, the office of the president, that we must ask ourselves if his advisors were even consulted. Surely John Kelly could not have condoned this idiocy?

Even as far back as Thomas Jefferson, presidents have had complaints about the press. In fact, according to a February 17, 2017 Washington Post article …

Jefferson-free-press“Thomas Jefferson was as irritated with newspaper coverage as any public figure of his era. For all the talk of media bias today, it can’t compare to the overt partisanship and personal attacks appearing in papers in our nation’s early years. But Jefferson also knew that our democracy could only flourish with a free press that would keep an eye on people in power and help protect our freedoms. He understood that press coverage comes and goes, but freedom of the press must endure.” – Ken Paulson, president of the Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center

Trump, on the other hand, has criticized the legitimate media since the day he threw his hat in the ring in June 2015, and I don’t think a single day has passed that we have not had to hear his cries of “fake news”, “lying press”, and worse.  He even went so far as to label the press “the enemy of the American people”. He has threatened on more than one occasion to ‘strengthen’ libel laws to keep the press from insulting him.  And this would all be a big joke, except …

Some people actually believe him.  He cavorts freely with Fox News and Breitbart, both homes of the conspiracy theorists, while shouting loudly about the ‘failing’ New York Times, and the ‘Amazon/Washington Post’.  In October, he called for the revocation of NBC’s broadcast license.  He has trod that fine line of trampling the constitutional right to a free press.  His minions have, more than once, criticized the press, not for getting facts wrong, for that is extremely rare, but for failing to agree with their boss.

The purpose of the press is to keep the public informed and hold those who serve in public office accountable for their actions, accountable to We The People.  Their job is not to be ‘yes-men’, always agreeing with the president.  In my opinion, they have treated him more kindly than I would have, or than I have, for that matter.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), is a non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists around the globe.  They have responded to Trump’s ‘Fake News Awards’ with their own special awards …

From a January 8th Press Release:

CPJ recognizes global Press Oppressors amid Trump’s fake news awards

Acknowledging world leaders who attack and restrict press

New York, January 8, 2018–As U.S. President Donald Trump announces his “Fake Media” awards, the Committee to Protect Journalists names its global Press Oppressors–world leaders who use rhetoric, legal action, and censorship to try to silence their critics. The list features leaders from China, Egypt, Myanmar, Poland, Russia, Turkey, and the United States who have gone out of their way to attack the press and undermine the norms that support freedom of the media at a time when a record number of journalists are being jailed for their work.

“It’s staggering to see the extent to which some world leaders are so fearful of their critics and the truth,” said CPJ Advocacy Director Courtney Radsch, from Washington, D.C. “At a time when the number of journalists in prison globally is at a record high the failure of President Donald Trump and other leaders to stand up for press freedom risks weakening democracy and human rights.”

The Global Press Oppressors list includes four categories as well as an award for the Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom:

Most Thin-skinned

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Runner-Up: President Donald Trump, United States

Most Outrageous Use of Terror Laws Against the Press

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

Runner-Up: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt

Tightest Grip on Media*

President Xi Jinping, China

Runner-Up: President Vladimir Putin, Russia

*This category excludes countries with no independent media, such as North Korea and Eritrea.

Biggest Backslider in Press Freedom

State Counselor and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar

Runner-Up: President Andrzej Duda, Poland

Overall Achievement in Undermining Global Press Freedom

President Donald Trump, United States

Note to Editors: Copies of the Global Press Oppressors can be viewed at https://cpj.org/blog/2018/01/press-oppressor-awards-trump-fake-news-fakies.php

Are Trump’s “Fake News Awards” legal?  For him, sure, because he has immunity from executive branch ethical standards.  His staff, however, are a different matter.  According to a number of experts, including former Office of Government Ethics director Walter Shaub, and Norm Eisen, former special counsel for ethics for President Barack Obama, if White House staff members were involved, they would be in violation of the executive branch’s Standards of Ethical Conduct.

I do not imagine that there will be any charges levelled at staff members, and I expect Trump’s little ceremony will be a fiasco that will be applauded by his 37% followers.  What I would liketo see happen, what I think absolutely should happen, but won’t, is for the press to boycott Trump’s little ceremony.  Let Fox and Breitbard cover it, and the legitimate media put up a wall of silence.  That would deprive Trump and his little game of any sense of legitimacy, and perhaps he would get the message that We The People are sick and damned tired of him playing elementary school-type games and would like to have an adult in the White House.

I know it won’t happen, for all the news outlets depend on revenue, and “if it bleeds, it leads”, so we will no doubt see this silliness ad nauseam on Wednesday and for the rest of the week.  And yes, I will likely succumb and write another post about it also.  But beware, my friends, for this is just one more step in Trump’s attempt to oppress our free press by convincing his followers that the mainstream media are ‘dishonest’ and ‘lying’, as he has been telling them all along.  Remember … Democracy Dies in Darkness.

In Honour Of A Great Man: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: Only love can do that.” 

“That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing.”

 

mlk-3

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on 15 January 1929.  He would have been 89 years old today, had he lived. Today, we celebrate not only his birthday, but also his life and legacy. Martin Luther King Day celebrates not only Dr. King, but the movement he inspired and all those who helped move forward the notion of equal rights for ALL races, all those who worked tirelessly during the civil rights era of the 1960s, as well as those who are continuing the good fight even in this, the year 2018.

Dr. King, along with President John F. Kennedy, was the most moving speaker I have ever heard.  To this day, I cannot listen to his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech without tears filling my eyes.  If you haven’t heard it for a while, take a few minutes to watch/listen … I promise it will be worth it.

This post is both a commemoration and a plea for us to carry on the work that was only begun, not yet finished, five decades ago.  Today we should remember some of the great heroes of the civil rights movement, those who worked tirelessly, some who gave their lives, that we could all live in peace and harmony someday: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, Roy Innes, Medgar Evers, Booker T. Washington, John Lewis, Percy Julian, Marcus Garvey, Desmond Tutu, E.D. Nixon, James Meredith, and so many more.  I am willing to bet there are some on this list of whom you’ve never heard, or perhaps recognize the name but not the accomplishments. If you’re interested, you can find brief biographies of each of these and more at Biography.com .

Yet, while we celebrate the achievements of Dr. King and the others, there is still much to be done. Just look around you, read the news each day. Think about these statistics:

  • More than one in five black families live in households that are food insecure, compared to one in ten white families
  • Almost four in ten black children live in a household in poverty, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Among prime-age adults (ages 25 to 54), about one in five black men are not in the labor force, nearly twice the rate of other racial groups
  • Although blacks and whites use marijuana at approximately the same rate, blacks are over 3 and a half times more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession
  • For every dollar earned by a white worker, a black worker only makes 74 cents
  • Black families are twice as likely as whites to live in substandard housing conditions
  • Black college graduates now have twice the amount of debt as white college graduates
  • The likelihood of a black woman born in 2001 being imprisoned over the course of her lifetime is one in 18, compared to 1 in 111 for a white woman
  • Similarly, the likelihood of a black man being imprisoned is 1 in 3, compared to 1 in 17 for a white man
  • Of black children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution, about half of them will still be there as adults, compared to less than one-quarter of white children

Data courtesy of the Brookings Institute – for charts and supporting details of above date, please click on link. 

And of course the above data does not even touch upon the recent spate of hate crimes, racial profiling, and police shootings against African-Americans.  There is still much of Dr. King’s work to be accomplished. But who is left to do this work?  Most of the leaders of yore are long since gone. There are still noble and courageous people out there carrying on the programs and works of Dr. King and the others, but their voices are perhaps not as loud, and there are none so charismatic as the late Dr. King.

In the current environment of racial divisiveness, we need more than ever to carry on what Dr. King only started. A year ago we ushered in a new president, a new administration, most of whom are not fighters for equality, many of whom actually support the tenets of white supremacy. There are already signs that the U.S. is headed backward down the path from which we have come. Trump himself has made racist statements and his father was affiliated with the KKK, even being arrested as he participated in a Klan rally in 1927.  Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General, is a proven racist.  And in cities all around the U.S., racial incidents are on the rise.

Martin Luther King believed that the path to his dream was a path of peaceful protest rather than violent protest, of love rather than hate, of understanding rather than aggression … not through violence.  This is why he is, and will always be, a hero.  Today, we have a president who encourages violence, who refers to white supremacists as “very fine people”, and whose rhetoric has widened the gap of divisiveness in this nation.  We need another Martin Luther King, but would anybody even listen?

In a speech on April 12th, 1850, then-Senator and future President of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis said:

“This Government was not founded by negroes nor for negroes, but by white men for white men.” [1]

That was wrong then, it is wrong today, and it will always be wrong.  That is what Dr. Martin Luther King fought against, that is what I rail and sometimes rant against, that is why we need activists and groups dedicated to fighting for equality for all people … today, tomorrow, and forever. Dr. King fought and ultimately gave his life for the values I believe in, the values that should define this nation, though they often do not.  Dr. Martin Luther King was a hero of his time … thank you, Dr. King, for all you did, for the values you gave this nation, and for the hope you instilled in us all that your dream will someday come true.

[1] (Kendi, 2016)   stamped

For Lack Of Something To Do?

Fasten your seatbelts, folks, for this is really, really important! The Wall Street Journal quoted Donald Trump (he of such intelligent and coherent speech) as saying the following:

“I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un of North Korea.”

Trump, predictably, took to Twitter (3 days later):

“The Wall Street Journal stated falsely that I said to them “I have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un” (of N. Korea). Obviously I didn’t say that. I said “I’d have a good relationship with Kim Jong Un,” a big difference. Fortunately we now record conversations with reporters… “ 7:58 AM – Jan 14, 2018

A ‘d’.  A lousy ‘d’ and Trump is going to turn it into a major issue.  The ‘man’ who calls himself a leader has nothing better to do than quibble on social media over a lousy, bloomin’ ‘d’.  But wait, for this wasn’t to be the end …

“…and they knew exactly what I said and meant. They just wanted a story. FAKE NEWS! “ 8:01 AM – Jan 14, 2018

And then, the minions got into the act, specifically press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who tweeted the following …

Sarahs fake newsDon’t you just love the maturity with which Trump and Sanders comport themselves?  And such a productive way to spend their time, not to mention our tax dollars, yes?  But this still isn’t the end of the story …

The Wall Street Journal had already released the audio recording of the interview containing the disputed sentence.  But then, Ms. Sanders released the “official White House” audio at midnight Saturday/Sunday …

“Here is the official audio showing WSJ misquoting @POTUS pic.twitter.com/wVwoafYkHg 12:00 AM – Jan 14, 2018

Neither version of the audio provides any audible or contextual indication that Trump said “I’d”.  This is not my assessment, for I am half deaf and wouldn’t even attempt to discern which he said, but this is the opinion of professionals from an independent transcription service.

One political analyst speculates that the reason for the out-of-proportion response by Trumy & Co. may be in retaliation against the Wall Stree Journal for its report the following day that the Trump Organization paid an adult film star, Stephanie Clifford (stage name Stormy Daniels), $130,000 to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump. The timing of Trump’s and Sander’s outbursts is suspicious, for the WSJ published the story with Trump’s quote on Thursday, the story about the payout on Friday, and Trump/Sanders responded on Sunday.

This, my friends, is what our tax dollars are hard at work doing … playing stupid little games.  The outrage should not belong to Trump & Co., but to We The People, for while these buffoons ought to be doing the job for which they are hired, they are instead playing these games.

Sometimes, when I read something truly idiotic, my fingers run a bit ahead of my brain and I respond before thinking.  I took my own bit of joy when I responded to Ms. Sanders tweet with “Is this nonsense why our tax dollars pay your salary?  You’re FIRED!”  Yes, it was juvenile, but it felt good!  So, you now know the biggest story from the White House today, so I will return you to your scheduled programming …

Say WHAT???

Guess who is running for the U.S. Senate seet from the state of Maryland this year?  None other than Ms. Chelsea Manning.  For any who may not remember Chelsea Manning, she is the former United States Army soldier who was convicted by court-martial in July 2013, of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents.

Chelsea ManningAs an Army intelligence analyst, she had access to classified databases. In early 2010, she confided to an acquaintance that she had leaked classified information to WikiLeaks.  That acquaintance, Adrian Lamo, informed the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, and Manning was arrested in May of 2010.  Manning was ultimately charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which was the most serious charge and could have resulted in a death sentence.

Manning pleaded guilty in February 2013 to 10 of the charges, and was convicted of all except ‘aiding the enemy’ on July 30th, 2013. She was sentenced to 35 years at the maximum-security U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth. Including time served while awaiting trial, Manning had served just short of seven years when, in January 2017, President Obama commuted her sentence, calling it disproportionate.

Which brings us to yesterday, when it was announced that Ms. Manning has filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for the Senate in the November mid-term elections. She is running as a democrat, and in the primary will be challenging Senator Benjamin L. Cardin.  Senator Cardin is the senior senator from Maryland, and in his last election bid won by 75%.

Now that you have the facts of the matter, let’s give this some thought …

The nearly 750,000 documents that Manning released to WikiLeaks were classified or sensitive.  Some of those documents pertained to troop movement in Iraq and Afghanistan and could have potentially put at risk the lives of the men and women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  The fact that she was sentenced to 35 years should be enough, in my view, to disqualify her from holding any office, let alone one of the most important in the nation.

After a bit of initial research, I can find not one single thing that qualifies Ms. Manning for the senate seat.  She attended only one semester of college, and dropped out after failing her exam.   She has no government experience outside of her military career.

To address the elephant in the room, Ms. Manning is transgender, having been born Bradley Edward Manning.  As far as I am concerned, this is an irrelevant fact, and should not affect her candidacy one way or another.  But the reality is that we all know it will.  If Manning wins the democratic nomination, the democrats will lose the senate seat currently held by Cardin to a republican. The far right, the evangelical Christians, will pretend to be so highly offended, get their knickers in a knot, and be so morally outraged that the entire election will turn into yet another three-ring circus.

Though some have hailed Manning a hero for leaking classified documents, this writer fails to see it that way.  My take is that she broke the law, she compromised national security, and risked the lives of many dedicated military personnel.  And for what?  She said she had leaked the cables “to show the true cost of war”.  Sorry, it doesn’t fly.

She has been conviceted of very serious crimes … 21 counts of very serious crimes.  So, it is incomprehensible that her candidacy will even leave the launch pad, right?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.  It was incomprehensible that Donald Trump would be elected president.  It was incomprehensible that Greg Gianforte would be elected to the House of Representtives just a day after beating up a reporter for asking a question.  There have been so many incomprehensibles that … well, happened anyway … that I  do not think anything is outside the realm of possibility.  I am not alone …

Todd Eberly, a political-science professor at St. Mary’s College in Maryland, said Donald Trump’s unexpected rise to the presidency opened the door for political neophytes such as Manning.

“My initial thought quite literally was, ‘Donald Trump is president, Oprah Winfrey is the leading contender for Democrats in 2020, why the hell not Chelsea Manning in the U.S. Senate?’ ”

IF Ms. Manning had any qualifications for the job, and IF she were not a convicted criminal, and IF I believed for one minute that she had a well-planned agenda that promoted humanitarian/environmental values in the best interest of the nation, I would be happy to welcome her candidacy.  Since none of those three criteria exist, I have to question why she is even throwing her hat into this ring.  There is absolutely no way she will be able to beat any republican candidate, whereas Senator Cardin is considered a safe bet to win against a republican candidate.  Surely she is smart enough to realize this?  So, what is her motive?  Publicity?  Attention?  Since she has refused to issue a statement or respond to calls from the press, we can only speculate at this point.  One thing is for sure:  her candidacy is certain to create chaos, not only in Maryland, but throughout the nation.  We can only hope she has the good sense to withdraw her filing, or at the very least that she does not win the democratic nomination in June.

Another Special Election, Another Bad Candidate

We all remember the special election in Alabama last month, where republican Roy Moore ran against democrat Doug Jones for the senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions.  There is another special election heating up, this one in Pennsylvania.  While the republican candidate, Rick Saccone, is not a former judge who was twice thrown off the bench, nor is he, as far as I know, a pedophile and a sexual abuser, he comes with his own set of issues that make him largely unqualified to become a member of the U.S. Congress.

Saccone-2.pngThe special election on March 13th is to fill the vacancy left when republican Tim Murphy resigned amid allegations that he asked a woman he was having an extramarital affair with to get an abortion. Now for a bit of background on Mr. Saccone …

Saccone was first elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 2010 by a very narrow margin.  He is considered to be among the most conservative members of the General Assembly and is a strong advocate for gun rights.  Just how strong? Last year, Saccone sponsored at least four bills seeking to expand the rights of gun owners; one such bill would amend state law to prohibit discrimination against gun carriers; a co-sponsorship memorandum for the bill criticized Chuck E. Cheese’s for its “policy barring customers from carrying firearms inside” the venue.  Are you hearing this?

cHUCK e cHEESEChuck E. Cheese is a chain of American family entertainment centers and restaurants that caters mostly to the under 10-year-old crowd.  Can somebody please explain to me why we need people toting guns into a restaurant filled with toddlers and small children?  Or better yet, could somebody please explain to Mr. Saccone the potential outcome of such a move?

CHILD IN BALLPIT

Going back a bit …

In 2013, Saccone introduced and sponsored a bill, the National Motto Display Act, that would have required public school districts in Pennsylvania to post “In God We Trust”  in every school building.  Freedom of religion?  Oh sure, as long as your religion is the same as his religion. The bill failed, but another, similar bill was introduced three years later that merely ‘recommended’ the display, rather than require it, and that bill did pass.

Also in 2013, Saccone sponsored a “day of prayer” resolution, seeking to designate April 30 as a National Fast Day. This man seriously does not understand the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

And going back just a bit further …

In January 2012, Saccone introduced Resolution 535 to declare 2012 as the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania. As far as I’m concerned, he just declared his complete disdain for the 30% in this nation who do not share his religious beliefs, and thereby has no business in the U.S. Congress.  Not to mention that he has denigrated the concept of separation of church and state.

However, Donald Trump and the GOP, not surprisingly, disagree with me.

The headline in Politico read …

Trump Races To Head Off Aanother Special Election Debacle

Trump will travel to southwestern Pennsylvania next week in an effort to avoid a second electoral embarrassment in two months.

The district in question is a conservative district that Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016, so you can imagine what a slap in the face it would be for Trump if the district voted for Saccone’s opponent, Conor Lamb.  Trump himself is planning to visit next week, Mike Pence plans to visit twice between now and March, and various other administration officials and cabinet members will also be visiting.  While certainly hoping to plant Saccone’s name firmly in the minds of voters, these visits are also fund-raising efforts, for apparently Saccone has not been doing too well.  White House political director Bill Stepien said Saccone wasn’t raising enough money and asked be kept updated on his progress.

Trump, never one to miss an opportunity to toot his own horn, plans to visit a manufacturing plant outside Pittsburgh to promote the republican’s ‘donor tax reform’ bill that was passed by the republicans in Congress last year, without any popular support.

Two observations here:

  • It speaks volumes about the waning popularity of republicans when a republican candidate in what is considered to be a ‘safe’ district for republicans, cannot even raise enough funds to manage his campaign, and requires the president and his entourage to boost his efforts.
  • If you are not a registered republican, you should be incensed that your tax dollars … many of your tax dollars … will be spent so that Trump & Co. can go bolster the campaign of a single republican candidate. You have no choice … you will pay for Trump to ride on Air Force One, along with his entire retinue, including Secret Service, and probably some of his family members, to support a bigot.  Think about that one for a minute.
lamb-saccone

Conor Lamb (left) and Rick Saccone (right)

Saccone’s democratic opponent, Conor Lamb, is an Ivy League-educated 33-year-old attorney and Marine Corps veteran. Let us hope that there is nothing in his background that would give the republicans feed for the scandal machine, for that is the current way campaigns are run … not on platforms or ideologies, but on mud-slinging and scandal-mongering.

This election is seen as a harbinger of what November’s mid-term elections will bring, and the republicans are running scared, as they should be.  They have proven time and time again in the past year that they have no concern for the populace of the nation, and now their chickens may be coming home to roost.

Pennsylvania political analysts G. Terry Madonna and Michael L. Young recently noted that, “In this mix, Republican Saccone’s perceived ultraconservatism, coupled with Lambs’ perceived moderation, and Trump’s unquestioned unpopularity [emphasis added] could nationalize the race — nationalizing it may bring a Democratic victory,”  Let us hope so.

Saturday Surprise — Music with Soul

Saturday kittensWelcome, my dear friends!  Once again it is the weekend and I’m sure you all have big plans for fun things, yes?  My weekend is beyond quiet, for daughter Chris is in Kansas City, Missouri, for a band competition.  Although she is not competing this year, she and some of her bandmates have gone for the fun and experience (I think a few go just for the barbecue!) Since Miss Goose and I are both quite reclusive, we have to set our alarms for every few hours so we remember to talk to each other.  The house is eerily quiet, and it is snowing outside, so a rather peaceful weekend.  That said, I am still under the spell of mind bounce, simply cannot stay focused, so I decided to just let it bounce and share a bit of this and a bit o’ that for the Saturday Surprise.  Let us start with a nice bit of music to set the ‘Saturday mood’ …

The live clips are never of the same sound quality as the studio recordings, but I like watching these guys.  The song was written by Robert Lamm, the keyboardist and singer for Chicago, after a particularly exhilarating 4th of July spent in New York’s Central Park, where there were steel drum players, singers, dancers and jugglers.

Like most Chicago singles, this didn’t make the charts in the UK. In the U.S., however, it was their biggest chart hit to that point and also their first gold single, which at the time meant selling more than a million copies. This song contains some of the most famous nonsense singing in rock: after Robert Lamm sings the line, “Singing Italian songs,” he sings some made up words approximating the Italian language.

Saturday in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
Saturday in the park
I think it was the Fourth of July
People talking, people laughing
A man selling ice cream
Singing Italian songs
(Fake Italian lyric)
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I’ve been waiting such a long time
For Saturday

Another day in the park
You’d think it was the Fourth of July
Another day in the park
You’d think it was the Fourth of July
People dancing, really smiling
A man playing guitar
Singing for us all
Will you help him change the world
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I’ve been waiting such a long time
For today

Slow motion riders
Fly the colors of the day
A bronze man still can
Yell stories his own way
Listen children all is not lost
All is not lost
Oh no, no

Funny days in the park
Every day’s the Fourth of July
Funny days in the park
Every day’s the Fourth of July
People reaching, people touching
A real celebration
Waiting for us all
If we want it, really want it
Can you dig it (yes, I can)
And I’ve been waiting such a long time
For the day

Chicago

Hey Keith … you do like Chicago, right?


That was fun … let’s try another …

Sam Cooke … ah, they don’t make ’em like him anymore … King of Soul.  Did you know how he died?  At only 33 years of age, Cooke was shot in the chest by Bertha Franklin,   the manager of the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California.  Franklin claimed that she acted in self-defense after he broke into her office residence and attacked her. Her account was immediately disputed by Cooke’s acquaintances.  It’s a long and strange story, still an unsolved mystery, but one which I will not go into, for this is supposed to be a happy post.

Now that I’m into music mode, how about one more?

 

One of my all-time favourites and I usually belt that one out as I mop floors on Friday, or in better weather when I walk ’round the track at the park … and I dance to this one, too!  No comments from the peanut gallery, please!  Shortly after recording Dock of the Bay, Redding was killed in a plane crash, and the song became the first posthumous number-one record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts.

Well, it seems like this post had a mind of its own and decided to make this a musical Saturday Surprise.  Have you got time for just one more?  Please?

What’s not to love about Ray Charles, eh?

Well, friends, I know you have errands to run and things to be done, so i suppose this ends our time together for this Saturday.  Thanks for joining me for a brief trip down memory lane … I had fun and I hope you did too!  Keep safe and warm … until next week …

Happy Saturday.jpg

 

Words …

I had plans for this evening’s post, and they did not involve Donald Trump.  However, you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men … I am neither a mouse nor a man, but yet my plans for this post have gone awry.  Why?  Because everywhere I turn, every news story, pertains to Trump, his ‘shithole’ comment, and the reactions to it.  Still, I was giving those stories merely a passing glance, having said, I thought, everything I had to say on that topic in my two morning posts.  Until I came across a response that, even inured to the drama as I am, made my jaw drop all the way to the floor.  I will tell you about it in a moment, but first, let me set the stage …

Two children, pre-school age, are playing together, one gets angry over some minor squabble, and says, “I hate you and I’m never gonna play with you again!”  We might tell the child that wasn’t very nice, might have a talk with him and ask him to apologize, but even left unchecked, the two will likely be happily playing again in an hour, right?  Because … they are children and they have yet to develop the filters that we, as adults, have.  Now, if I say those exact same words to my co-worker because she did something I didn’t like, do we overlook my outburst?  I think not.  I think it earns me a trip to Human Resources, a lecture, and at the very least a written warning.  Why?  Because we are judged, not only on our actions, but also on our speech, on what we say.  Our words, what we say, reflects our thoughts, and our thoughts define the sort of person we are.

Jim Renacci from Ohio is a member of the House of Representatives, who is seeking a senate seat in November.  Let’s hear how Mr. Renacci responded to Trump’s ignorant, racist remark about ‘shithole countries’ …

“It’s difficult, and I know it’s difficult for the president, because many times you want to say what you’re thinking, But in the end, I know a lot of times he’s saying what people are thinking. Look, I always say judge the president after four years. Let’s judge the president after what we’ve done. Let’s not judge the president on what he says.”

Renacci.pngMr. Renacci is a fool.  We should never judge people on their looks, their religion, skin colour, ethnicity, gender or gender identification, or other such criteria that have nothing to do with what kind of person he/she is.  But words and actions are a different story.  What you say and what you do define what kind of person you are.  There is an old expression I used to hear all the time as a child: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  You know what?  That’s not true … words can hurt more than broken bones, and for a much longer time.  Several months ago, a friend said something very hurtful to me, and I still feel the hurt every time I remember his words.

We have two criteria by which we can legitimately judge Donald Trump:  his words and his actions.  To date, after nearly a year in office, his words and actions have been indicative of intolerance, of a vengeful nature, of vast unkindness, and of bigotry in every imaginable form.  Not only can we judge him by his words, but we must do so.

Frankly, if we wait, as Mr. Renacci suggests, until the end of Trump’s four years to judge him, it will be too late, for he will have likely destroyed this nation.  One doesn’t hire an employee and leave them unsupervised, unjuedged, for four years before deciding whether he is capable of doing the job for which we hired him.  This is why most workplaces have a 90-day probationary period for newly-hired employees, and periodic performance reviews.  Now that I think about it, perhaps performance reviews for members of Congress, as well as the president, would be a good idea.

More and more in the past few days I have heard that various candidates who will be running for congressional offices in November are ‘vowing’ or ‘pledging’ to support Mr. Trump and his policies.  This, people, is not why we elect our senators and representatives.  We elect them to represent We The People, to hold the chief executive accountable for his words and actions, not to make excuses and gloss over them!

It is past time for a re-boot of our elected officials, especially the one who holds the highest office in the land.  Yes, we must judge Trump by his words and actions, and by any scale of grading, Trump has earned a failing grade.  Those who gloss over his hateful rhetoric have earned the same.

What Did You Say?

Huppke

Rex Huppke

Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke wrote this article yesterday.  I think we all need to read this and ask ourselves these same questions.  I know my answers to the questions … I would like to hear the answers of some of Trump’s supporters.

 

 

Your response to Trump’s racist ‘shithole’ comment will be remembered

What did you say when President Donald Trump referred to Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries”?

What did you say when the president of the United States followed that comment by suggesting he’d rather see more immigrants from countries like Norway?

Whether now or in the future, you will be asked this question: What did you say?

Did you call out the obvious racism behind those statements? Did you acknowledge that the leader of the free world — by title, anyway — had shown himself to be a white supremacist, casually expressing his dislike of brown-skinned immigrants and preference for white European immigrants?

Were you outraged that such comments from a sitting president were antithetical to the ideals that have always made America a beacon of hope and opportunity?

What did you say?

Did you speak out?

Did you denounce the comments, as Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican whose parents came to America from Haiti, did, saying in a statement: “This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation. … The President must apologize to both the American people and the nations he so wantonly maligned.”

Or did you keep quiet?

Take note, because you will be asked. Trump’s has been a presidency filled with jaw-dropping moments of offensive behavior, but this one will stand out over time, both for its profane nature and its naked racism.

So what did you say?

Did you look for excuses? Did you toss out a “Well, what about…” scenario you thought might take the heat off?

Did you scream something about “identity politics” and try to pretend that this is the fault of others, not the fault of the transparently racist old man in the White House?

Did you say he has a point? Did you say, “Well, those countries are shitholes, aren’t they?”

Did you forget how people once described immigrants from Italy and Ireland? Did you forget the words on a plaque in the Statue of Liberty?

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Did you forget those words, or just ignore them? Did you smile about a tax break and say nothing?

Did you not put the pieces together and consider all the other times Trump has shown us exactly who he is?

Did you tamp down memories of his calls for the execution of the Central Park Five, even after the young men, four black and one Latino, were found innocent?

Did you explain away what Trump was implying in this tweet from 2013: “According to Bill O’Reilly, 80% of all the shootings in New York City are blacks-if you add Hispanics, that figure goes to 98%. 1% white.”

Did you disregard his years-long birther crusade against the nation’s first black president? His description of Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals? His regular criticism that immigrants coming from predominately nonwhite nations are examples of those countries’ “worst people”?

Did you not let yourself see the pattern? Did you twist logic into knots and blame it on the media? On political correctness?

What did you say when our president called other countries “shitholes” and you had to shield your children’s ears from profanity on the nightly news?

What did you tell your children about this moment? How did you explain the president’s words?

Tell me, what did you say? Mark it down, let it be known. Because you will be asked this again someday.

And if you stayed silent, if you made excuses, if you tried to fool yourself into believing this is appropriate presidential behavior, if you let it slide because this presidency might somehow line your pocketbook, then you will be remembered as complicit, as one who stood by and let America’s decency get dragged through the mud.

And if you laughed, or if you smiled, or if you nodded your head in agreement, you will be remembered just as Trump will: as a racist, a fool and an absolute embarrassment.

You read what I said in my last post.  What did you say?

Trump’s SHITHOLE Moment …

Since Donald Trump took an oath that he did not even understand on 20 January 2017, I have been referring to the federal government collectively as a ‘circus’. Tonight, I amend that assessment, for a circus at least has the illusion of fun, of brightness, and it has certain appeal.  Tonight, I re-name the government of the United States under the ‘leadership’ of one Donald Trump, as a Freak Show.  That’s right, a Freak Show.

The man who claims to be the leader of the United States, a once-respected Western naton, made the following statement:

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?”

The remark was reportedly in reference to people from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.  The White House did not bother to deny the comment, but rather excused it, put a spin on it …

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people … He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans.”

What a load of, please pardon my language, bullshit. These ‘stopgap measures’ save people’s lives, people who are fleeing for safety, for an opportunity to survive, to have a life for themselves and their children! I don’t know about you folks, but I do not wish to have Trump fighting for me or my rights, if that means he so rudely and obnoxiously speaks of people who come to this country for a better life for they and their children.  I would rather spend a day in the company of 100 Haitians than a single minute with a member of the Washington elite.

Donald Trump should have studied a little harder, perhaps taken some history classes when he was a youngster, for he obviously does not realize that this nation is built on the foundation of immigration, of diversity, of welcoming with open arms people from all nations, of all cultures, races and religions. Has he forgotten, or did he ever know, the words engraved on the base of the Statue of Liberty:

liberty-words“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I am not alone in my outrage:

“Trump’s comments about the immigrants from “shithole countries” is among the worst statements he has ever uttered. It might very well be the worst.” – Dan Rather, journalist and former news anchor

“What’s the word for a country that elects a racist, serial lying, profiteer who revels in conflicts of interest’ brags about assaulting women; attacks freedom of the press, freedom of religion, private citizens, & law enforcement; and calls for investigations of political rivals?” – Walter Shaub, former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics

“… are further proof that his Make America Great Again agenda is really a Make America White Again agenda” – Cedric Richmond, Democratic Representative, Louisiana

“I condemn this unforgivable statement and this demeaning of the office of the Presidency.” – Elijah Cummings, Democratic Representative, Maryland

“… unkind, divisive, elitist, and fly in the face of our nation’s values. This behavior is unacceptable from the leader of our nation.”Republican Representative Mia Love, Utah

“The American family was born from immigrants fleeing persecution and poverty and searching for a better future, Our strength lies in our diversity, including those who came here from Africa, the Caribbean and every other corner of the world. To deny these facts would be to ignore the brightest part of our history.”Republican Senator Tim Scott, South Carolina

“America was built on the backs of immigrants from around the globe. We must honor that history, not reject it. It starts with respectful rhetoric and signing bipartisan DACA legislation.” – John Kasich, Republican Ohio Governor

“@realDonaldTrump, your mouth is the foulest shithole in the world. With what authority do you proclaim who’s welcome in America and who’s not. America’s greatness is built on diversity, or have you forgotten your immigrant background, Donald?” – Vincente Fox Quesada, former President of Mexico

Quesada put a poll on Twitter asking whether, if Trump had made this comment during the campaign last year, it would have changed the outcome of the election.  See for yourself the sad results …

Trump poll election

It would have been the same.  Sad, but almost certainly true.  It did not phase his lemmings when he called for violence at his rallies, it did not matter to them that he admitted to sexually abusing many women.  It did not matter that he was a liar and a dishonest businessman, that he was a racist and a bigot.  And so, sadly, this would not mattered to them, either.

We have seen Donald Trump at his worst … or so we thought.  Every time we think he cannot possibly sink to any lower depth of crassness, of inhumanity, of utter stupidity, he proves us wrong.  Donald Trump is the absolute most disgusting president we have ever had in the 230 year history of this nation, bar none.  If this, in combination with his other several thousand disgusting, racist, bigoted, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic comments does not convince his lemmings that he is highly unqualified for the office he holds, then I wash my hands of those lemmings, for they have brought an abomination beyond my wildest imaginings into our midst and given him the keys to our lives with impunity.

Any member of Congress who condones or ignores this better be voted out of Congress in November, for this is not the nation we are, and if they support this, then they do not … I repeat they do not … represent We The People.

Trump has been abominable before … mostly every day … but this is a new low  and I suggest we work toward getting him and his cronies out of the White House before he shows us how much lower he can go.  All those in favour, please raise your hands.  🖐️