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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Trump Got It All Wrong … Again

Let’s be perfectly clear on something here.  It is NOT against any law to sit, kneel, or even lie prone while the Star Spangled Banner is being played.  It is everyone’s right to do as they will.  According to Title 36 (section 171) of the United States Code, “During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in (military) uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart …”  ‘Should’ does not equate to ‘must’, and there are neither penalties nor punishment for failing to do so.  It is not a law.

Before a pre-season game in 2016, Colin Kaepernick sat down, actually took to one knee, as opposed to the tradition of standing, during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. During a post-game interview, he explained his position stating, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

KaepernickFor the record before we move along, I stand, or rather sit/kneel, with Mr. Kaepernick in his protest.  It is not that I am not loyal to my country, for I am.  But frankly, the flag is a symbol, a mere piece of cloth, that is supposed to represent certain values and ideals.  Today, those values and ideals are being trampled, and I would have done exactly as Mr. Kaepernick did.

Last night, when Donald Trump was in Alabama to support senate candidate Luther Strange, he made the following statement …

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out. He’s fired. He’s fired!’”  No, Donnie, I would not love to see that.  You have almost single-handedly shredded the values for which that flag once stood. Trump also said such an owner would “be the most popular person in this country. Because that’s a total disrespect of our heritage. That’s a total disrespect for everything we stand for.” He added that if fans were to “leave the stadium” in response to a protest, “I guarantee things will stop.”

I strongly, adamantly disagree with Mr. Trump, but then what’s new, right?  The right to protest is an important part of our right to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  Mr. Kaepernick, and many others who took his lead and ‘took a knee’ since, are doing nothing more than speaking out against the injustices that have run rampant in recent years in this once-great nation.

Those of us with small voices like mine do what we can to speak out against abuses by our elected officials, and social injustices.  But those like Jimmy Kimmel in his recent series of clips against the abominable Graham-Cassidy health un-care bill, have much larger voices and reach a larger audience, thus they can be said to be actually making a difference.  Colin Kaepernick is a football player of some fame, and as such, his voice is large.  He made a choice to use that voice to speak out against racism and racial injustice in the U.S., his country.  I applaud him and those who followed him, notably Seattle Seahawks’ Michael Bennett and Oakland Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch.  It is not only their right, but in some cases, their duty, their responsibility, to do so.  Time magazine got it right when they said …

“The President of the United States tore into NFL players exercising their free speech rights with more conviction than he condemned white supremacists — one of whom allegedly drove a car into protesters, killing one of them — in Charlottesville.”Time, 23 September 2017

I find it encouraging that Kimmel, Kaepernick, Bennett and Lynch are standing with courage by their beliefs, standing for the values they support.  Some have said that by failing to stand for the National Anthem they are somehow denigrating the veterans who have fought for the independence of this nation.  I say that nothing could be further from the truth … the right to stand up for what we believe in is precisely and exactly what those veterans fought for.  They did not fight for the right of white cops to shoot and kill unarmed African-Americans.  They did not fight for Donald Trump’s right to condemn millions to live without adequate healthcare.  They did not fight for the United States’ right to deny climate change and thus shorten the lives of mankind on earth.  They fought for us to be able to speak out, to maintain our constitutional freedoms, the right to ensure that our government is working for us and not against us.

Donald Trump has it all wrong, but then what else is new?

Saturday Surprise … On Stolen Cars and Stolen Hearts

Happy first official weekend of autumn!  Although here it does not feel much like autumn. With temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, it feels more like mid-July.  But, I know that it is autumn, for the leaves on the trees are beginning to display their beautiful show of oranges, reds and yellows.  And I can tell, also, that it is no longer light until after 9:00 p.m. as it was just a short time ago.  Sigh.  This is what I miss most … the longer days, the opportunity to go walking after dinner …

One suggestion when I first started the Saturday Surprise feature came from Erika of Dorky Mom Doodles, who said, “I’d love to hear more about how your experiences/life stuff has shaped you and your beliefs.” Now personally, I don’t think my life has been all that interesting.  No doubt the experiences of the past 66 years have contributed to who I am today … but again, not all that interesting.  However … since I am very tired at the end of a very long week, and since Erika is a good friend from long before, I thought I would give it a shot this Saturday.  So, I present you with two somewhat humorous glimpses into my past … one from 50 years ago, the other from less than 12 hours ago.


My First Car Theft …

I was a really ornery child, and an even ornerier teen.  You guys thought I was always a real sweetheart, right?  Well, I joined the workforce at age 13, and my parents, who traveled frequently, decided that if I was old enough to have a job, I was old enough to look after myself, so I had a great deal of  autonomy at a very early age.  Oh sure, the neighbor was supposed to ‘check in’ on me, and my father’s secretary would call once in a while, but otherwise, I was on my own.  So, I learned to drive.  I worked with a lady who had a ’57 Buick, stick shift, and though I probably almost ground her gears to a nub, she did teach me to drive.

Now, my parents were trusting souls, and the keys to the family car were left atop their dresser in their bedroom.  Whenever they were out of town, I took the car keys and went out.  Let me just intersperse here, that I wasn’t really bad … I did not do drugs, nor alcohol, nor sex … I just liked to drive and feel free.  So, I took the car out, went to visit friends, went to the library, sometimes a movie … and then I went home to bed.  This went on for several months, and I wasn’t too bright, for I didn’t think they would ever find out … I mean, I put the keys back just so every time.

vista-cruiserBut apparently some of my parents’ friends saw me toodling about town in the ol’ Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon, and reported my transgressions.  Nothing was said, but the next time they left for the other coast, the keys were nowhere to be found.  So, I did what any self-respecting ornery teen would do … no, I did not stay home and watch Dragnet … I had a friend teach me to hot-wire a car, and off I went!  Unfortunately, the car was low on fuel, so when I stopped for gas, I then had to pop the hood and cross the wires to re-start it.  I guess someone thought that was a bit odd and called the cops.  So ended my first experience in grand theft auto.

behind bars

Shortly thereafter I bought my own car, a ’56 Chevy, for $50 and never needed to steal one again!

56 chevy


A Cute Kid and Expensive Popcorn …

This evening I needed a few things from the store … salad fixings, since Chris is out of town until late Sunday night, so Miss Goose and I are on our own.  So, I borrowed (no, I did not steal it … I asked for the keys and she happily handed them over) my neighbor and friend Maha’s car, and set off for Kroger.  Upon entering the store, there were a gaggle of Boy Scouts in the lobby, and the cutest, most adorable little guy came running to me immediately.  He was maybe 5-6 years old, curly sand-blonde hair, and thick, horn-rimmed glasses.  I think he may have reminded me of myself at that age, for I fell in love with this little guy.  He held up a bag of something … backward, so I had no idea what it was … and said, “Please, please, please buy some?”

I asked him to turn the bag around, and it turned out to be white cheddar popcorn.  Now, I love white cheddar anything, and I always try to be supportive of the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, so I told him I had just a bit of shopping to do, would be back out in 5 minutes and would then buy some.  When I came out just a few minutes later, li’l cutie came running up to me, grabbed my legs, and said “you came back!!!”  Oh be still my heart!

cute-kid

So, I proceeded to the table where the scout moms had the goods on a long table, along with a calculator and a cash box, little guy still clinging to me.  I picked up a bag of the white cheddar popcorn and saw a bag of caramel corn, so I picked up one of those too.  Now, best I recall, last year those were each around $5.  So, waiting for scout-mom to use that calculator and tell me a total, I pulled a $20 from my pocket.  Yeah … you already see it coming, don’t you?  Guess … just GUESS how much?

$35

Yes, $35 for two bags of not-even-very-great popcorn!!!  Me being me, I would normally have explained to those scout-moms what they might do with their overpriced popcorn … but there was my little guy with the thick glasses, looking up at me with what I can only define as love … and so, I sighed, pulled another $20 out of my pocket, and left with 2 bags of salad, some crispy onion straws, and $35 worth of popcorn.  It does occur to me that I should have had the opportunity to bring the little guy home for a day or two, for the price.

download


So now you have seen both my extremes … the car thief and the softee.  Hope I did not bore you beyond tears or cause you to re-paint your image of me in a darker shade.  Now it’s your turn … share with us, if you will, a funny story from your past in the comment section!  And then go out there and have a terrific weekend!  Love and hugs to you all …

 

STOP!!!!

Enough already!  Can we just step back and try to act like adults here … just for a few days?  I refer, of course, to the continuing game of ‘nyah-nyah-nyah’ being played by two so-called ‘men’ who are in the position of leading nations consisting of millions of people, Kim Jong-un of North Korea and Donald Trump of the United States.

I find that I truly want to take both of these juveniles and bonk their heads together, put them into a ‘time-out’ room with no twitting devices, and send them to bed without their supper!

Both of these ‘men’ need to be removed from office, for neither are sufficiently mature, even-tempered, knowledgeable or compassionate to hold the lives of so many in their hands.  But, the odds of that happening being slim-to-none, these two must somehow be taken in hand and convinced to act as adults, for together they hold hundreds of millions of lives in their tiny little hands.  Lives, it would seem, for which they have little, if any, regard.

While the tensions between Trump and Kim go all the way back to before Trump was even elected, the current ‘tit-for-tat’ escalation began in earnest on Tuesday when Trump gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.  I assume that somebody wrote the speech for him, and that person should be terminated immediately.  He may simply have gone “off-script” … I have no way to know, but either way, his words, as I wrote on Tuesday, were highly inappropriate and inflammatory.

Trump began by referring to Kim Jong-un as “Rocket Man”, presumably an attempt at humour, but it was definitely not funny.  And then he threatened to “totally destroy North Korea”.  He went on to wantonly attack leaders of Iran and Venezuela.  He called Iran “a corrupt dictatorship” whose “chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos”. And of Venezuela he said the government “has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.” Iran’s foreign minister responded that it was “ignorant hate speech [that] belongs in medieval times”.  Venezuela’s foreign minister said, “Trump is not the president of the world … he cannot even manage his own government.”  Both of these statements ring true, but it is North Korea’s response that proves just how dangerous Trump’s rhetoric is.

Kim Jong-un responded on Thursday with a speech that is lengthier than I can share here, but you can read the full text. Here are a few of the more relevant snippets:

“But, far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors.

A frightened dog barks louder.

I’d like to advise Trump to exercise prudence in selecting words and to be considerate of whom he speaks to when making a speech in front of the world.

The mentally deranged behavior of the U.S. president openly expressing on the U.N. arena the unethical will to “totally destroy” a sovereign state, beyond the boundary of threats of regime change or overturn of social system, makes even those with normal thinking faculty think about discretion and composure.

His remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last.

Action is the best option in treating the dotard who, hard of hearing, is uttering only what he wants to say.

I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech calling for totally destroying the D.P.R.K.

Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation.

I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.”

And, not to be outdone and determined to have the last word, Trump responded this morning with a tweet:

“Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was spot-on when he responded to Trump’s UN speech by saying, “We are a world in pieces. We need to be a world at peace. The solution must be political. This is a time for statesmanship. We must not sleepwalk our way into war.”

Margot Wallstrom, Sweden’s foreign minister said, “This was a bombastic, nationalist speech. It must have been decades since one last heard a speech like that in the UN General Assembly. … This was a speech at the wrong time to the wrong audience.”

Foreign policy experts all agree that Trump’s remarks were inappropriate, some even calling them ‘terrifying’ and ‘delusional’.  I would agree with all of the above, but none of this answers the question of what to do with these two ‘man-child’ world leaders who are playing a dangerous game of one-upmanship.  Both have huge egos and neither is likely to back down, so it is essential that cooler heads and stronger minds prevail upon them and attempt to convince them both to just simply SHUT UP.

I am less concerned that one of them will decide to attack the other’s nation with nuclear weapons, as surely they both understand how that would end.  But I am concerned that neither of them seem to care about the nearly 400 million people residing in the two nations, not to mention the rest of the globe.  This childishness is creating unrest and uncertainty around the world, and there is no doubt that ultimately it will have an effect on global markets and economies.  Whether Trump likes it or not, we are a part of a larger community.  Globalization is the way of today’s world, and that will not change … neither Donald Trump nor Kim Jong-un can change the reality of the 21st century.  The only solution is to learn to live together in relative peace.  Now if somebody will just sit the two little boys down and explain this to them … ???

From Failed Judge To U.S. Senator???

Next Tuesday there will be a special primary runoff election in the state of Alabama to determine the republican candidate that will run the race to elect a senator to fill the seat left vacant when Jeff Sessions was nominated U.S. Attorney General.  The general election will be held on December 12th.

Now, guess who is one of the two main candidates for the republican nominations?  While he was not one of my infamous Idiots of the Week, Roy Moore probably ought to have been.  However, I did write a post about him last September, almost a year ago, titled When Justice Is Unjust.

roy-moore

Roy Moore

To briefly recap, Moore was Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court … twice, in fact, having been removed from the bench in 2003, and then re-elected in 2013.  He was once again removed in May 2016, for directing probate judges to continue to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage despite the fact that it had been overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. Moore is a religious zealot who does not accept the concept of separation of church and state, and has done everything in his power to sabotage said separation.  As such, he has been the source of numerous controversies and the Alabama court system is far better off without him.

However now, he wants to be a Senator and is determined to shake things up.  One might expect that he would be Donald Trump’s choice, yes?  But one would be wrong, for Trump is actually supporting Moore’s opponent, Luther Strange.  But wait, for it gets even more interesting.  Many in Trump’s camp, notably Steve Bannon, Sarah Palin and Papa Duck Phil Robertson are actually supporting Moore, despite the fact that Trump himself is not. The polls show Moore with a 6-point lead over Strange, 53 percent to 47 percent, despite the fact that the Strange campaign has spent four times more than Moore’s.

A brief bit about Luther Strange …

Luther Strange

Luther Strange

Luther Strange was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R). He was previously elected as attorney general of Alabama in 2010.

Strange announced his intent to fight for his seat in April 2017, saying, “As I’ve said for months, I’m a candidate and I’m ready to run whether the election is next month or next year. As the only announced candidate for this office, I will spend the next several months being the best Senator I can be, upholding Alabama values and working with President Donald Trump to drain the swamp and help make America great again.” On his campaign website, Strange listed defending religious freedom, supporting the Trump administration’s agenda, and repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act as top issues. His tenure as attorney general of Alabama focused on challenging the Obama administration’s healthcare agenda and environmental regulations in court. – BallotPedia 

Obviously Strange is not, by my standards, an ideal candidate either, but at least he is not steeped in racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and overall bigotry, as Moore is.

An article yesterday in The Washington Post  provided some interesting insight into Moore’s intentions, should he actually be elected into the Senate.

The central argument of Moore’s campaign is that removing the sovereignty of a Christian God from the functions of government is an act of apostasy, an affront to the biblical savior as well as the Constitution.

“We have forgotten the source of our rights. We put ourselves above God. And in so doing, we forgot the basic source of our morality.”

In his current campaign, he has called for the impeachment of judges, including possibly Supreme Court justices, who issue rulings for same-sex marriage …

He seems to forget that not everyone in this nation is Christian, that not all of us believe as he does, yet our rights are guaranteed by the Constitution no less than his or his constituents.  This is a nation of tolerance, it is a nation that does not promote one religion over the other, and contrary to what some believe, Christianity is not the state religion.

For more in-depth analysis of the differences between Strange and Moore’s platforms, visit BallotPedia.

So with two less-than-desirables vying for the republican nomination, what about the democratic candidate?

doug-jones

Doug Jones

Doug Jones was appointed U.S. attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, by former President Bill Clinton in 1997. Jones was the lead prosecutor in the reopened 1963 Birmingham church bombing case that killed four black girls during the Civil Rights Movement. His private practice involved white collar criminal defense and commercial litigation.

“The national election was very disturbing, quite frankly, and I know a lot of people in this state voted overwhelmingly for … [Donald] Trump. But there were about 37 percent of the people who did not, and they need a voice too,” he said a few weeks after announcing his candidacy.

Jones identified increasing the minimum wage, prioritizing education as a job creator, encouraging renewable energy and conservation, abortion rights, and preventing discrimination against individuals with pre-existing conditions as policy priorities. – BallotPedia

Obviously, I see Jones as the better candidate for the U.S. Senate, however … this is Alabama.  In the 2016 election, republican Richard Shelby received nearly twice the amount of votes as the democratic candidate, Ron Crumpton.  In fact, the last time a democrat won a senate race in Alabama was in 1992. The three leading polls indicate that the republican candidate, whomever it is, will have a safe to strong lead on  December 12th.  While no one senator has absolute power, and a majority is required to pass legislation, confirm presidential nominations, etc., one outspoken senator does have the power to disrupt the entire body and create chaos.  Please, Alabamans … keep Roy Moore out of the U.S. Senate!

Four disasters this week

My friend and fellow-blogger Keith has written another excellent post that I would like to share with you today. He speaks of four disasters this week, and … well, I will let Keith tell you in his own words, for there is really nothing for me to add. Thank you, Keith for such an excellent, well-stated post, and for your permission to re-blog.

musingsofanoldfart

Between the horrible earthquake outside of Mexico City and Hurricane Maria, two disasters are harming people. This is on top of the two terrible hurricanes that hit Texas (Harvey) and Florida and the Caribbean Islands (Irma) in the past three weeks. We need to help those impacted and who may still be impacted as Maria continues onward. At last count, 245 people in Mexico City and the area have died from the earthquake and Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, etc. have been decimated by Maria.

While it is highly likely man-influenced climate change has made the hurricanes more powerful, two other disasters are clearly man-made and harmful to people. For one, we have to travel to Myanmar and Bangladesh as the government of Myanmar is doing an ethnic cleansing of a minority group of Muslims called Rohingyas. Over 400,000 Rohingyas have sought refuge in Bangladesh to escape the raping, killing, beating and burning of their homes…

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Idiot of the Week — Senator Charles (Chuck) Grassley

Idiot of the Week medalSenator Chuck Grassley, a republican from Iowa, is one of the best arguments I can give for congressional term limits.  Grassley has been in the Senate since 1981 … 36 years!  He also served three terms (6 years) in the House of Representatives before that. And on that note, allow me to introduce you to this week’s winner of Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award!

Grassley-1I will jump right to what put Mr. Grassley on my radar tonight, and then tell you the rest of the story.  This headline caused my jaw to drop:

GOP Senator Says It Doesn’t Matter How Bad The Latest Obamacare Replacement Is – He’s Voting For It

Wonder why?  I shall let the not-so-good senator tell you in his own words:

“I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered. But Republicans campaigned on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign. That’s pretty much as much of a reason as the substance of the bill.”

There you have it, folks.  If you doubted me before when I told you that there is zero consideration for what is in the best interest of the majority of the people in this country, it can no longer be denied or sugar-coated by the republicans.  Mr. Grassley plain as day states that it isn’t a matter of whether the bill will help people or not, it is a matter of the GOP doing what they said they would do … repeal ACA.

Now, I was curious, so I took a look at where Mr. Grassley’s last campaign contributions came from.  I was not able to find the itemized listing for his 2016 campaign (time constraints) but as of his 2010 campaign, here were his major contributors:

  • Health professionals – $1 million
  • Insurance industry – $997,674
  • Pharmaceuticals/health products – $538,680
  • Lawyers/law firms – $625,543

His largest corporate donors have been Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance, Amgen biotech company and Wells Fargo bank. I leave you to draw your own conclusions as you will.

His willingness to vote for a bill that, by his own admission, is not in the best interest of the people he represents would almost be enough, in and of itself, to qualify the man for Idiot of the Week, but wait … there is so much more to love hate about this man.

In February 2017, Grassley said that while Russian interference in U.S. elections was “bothersome”, the United States did not have clean hands and had, for instance, interfered with the 1948 Italian election.  1948???  Sixty-nine years ago???  And that justifies …. What …. How … ???

After President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Grassley advised people suspicious of the Trump administration to “Suck it up and move on.”

Last year, after Donald Trump’s assertion that U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel is incapable of being impartial due to his ethnic heritage, Grassley refused to condemn Trump for the remark, while other senators on both sides of the aisle, condemned Trump’s rhetoric as inappropriate and racist.  That earned him the following comment by the Des Moines Register:

“As Edmund Burke said, the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. And when it comes to Donald Trump, there are invertebrates that have shown more spine than Sen. Charles Grassley.”

That is the 2nd time this year I have had occasion to applaud the Register!  Good work, Editors!!!

Grassley is, like Trump, a fan of Twitter, and also like Trump, he is often … shall we say, confusing.  Here are a few examples from 2012 (no corrections have been made):

  • “Constituents askd why i am not outraged at PresO attack on supreme court independence. Bcause Am ppl r not stupid as this x prof of con law”

  • “P”

  • “When is PresO going to start running agsf DoNothing Democrat Senate i e no budget for 1060 days. No nrgBill Far fewer bills and votes”

  • “I now h v an iphone”

  • “Contraceptives&totalitarian mindset of Pres O; ‘oh we would never do that’ then they do it. Just shred the 1stAmendment”

  • “Evrybody asking how Romney ‘relates’to avg person Me thinks‘no problem’ but if so I hv answer ‘just lv starch out of shirt’”

  • “Pres O in radio adres complaind of Congress obstuction. Has he evr spoken to his leader Sen Reid abt hv Senate actually work&work”

  • “History. No history. Axe man Timber Nothing historical. Back to FOX. Sigh. Suggest name to change channel name”

Above tweets courtesy of Tim Mak, Politico, 09 April 2012 

Covfefe anyone?

Grassley-3Senator Grassley is, since January 2015, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a position for which he is ill-qualified, given that he has no law degree and has never even been to law school.  He has proven his un-fitness more than once.

He rejected calls for restoring the Voting Rights Act by saying, “If you want to fix more minorities voting, more minorities are already voting.”

Grassley-2In 2016, when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat on the Supreme Court vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Grassley took the lead in calling for a blockade against confirming Garland … for no other reason than that he did not much like President Obama, as you may have surmised from his tweets. This, despite the fact that in 2006 he is quoted as saying, “A Supreme Court nomination is not a forum to fight any election. It is the time to perform one of our most important constitutional duties and decide whether a nominee is qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court.”

I could go on, but … well, you get the picture.  As I began this post, I repeat … Senator Charles (Chuck) Grassley almost single-handedly makes the case for the need for congressional term limits.  This man has long since outlived his usefulness in Congress and needs to GO!  Only problem is, he was just re-elected last year, so barring something unforeseen, he will keep his seat until 2023.

Grassley-4And so to conclude … Senator Grassley, for slapping the American people in the face with your vote for the abominable Graham-Cassidy “health care” bill, and other prior acts of idiocy, you have earned this most prestigious award and I hope you will accept it in the spirit in which it is intended! Please be sure to dust it weekly and enjoy it in good health.

EPA Is Now The SPPA … ‘Scott Pruitt Protection Agency’

EPA Director Scott Pruitt’s life is worth more than yours or mine.  We all know that the Environmental Protection Agency is being scaled back, their hands tied when it comes to doing their job monitoring and enforcing laws that were intended to protect our environment, our health and our very lives.  This was Trump’s dream, to repeal all laws and actions that were implemented by President Obama … or any previous presidents, for that matter.

In a Washington Post article this morning, however, the assault on the functionality of the EPA has been taken to a new level.  Agents who are trained in investigating environmental crimes have been taken away from their jobs … and placed on a security detail to protect, not the environment, but director Scott Pruitt.  Pruitt is now receiving round-the-clock security protection by agents whose jobs it has been to monitor assaults on the air and water we rely on to survive.

Reportedly, Pruitt has been the victim of threats … threats he brought upon himself by his own rhetoric, his denial of human contributions to climate change, and his intent to rollback previous efforts to protect our planet.

epaIn the past, the EPA director has had one of the smallest security details of all cabinet members.  It should still be so.  The agents being relocated to Pruitt’s personal security detail are, understandably, not happy.  Michael Hubbard, a former special agent who led the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division office in Boston said, “These guys signed on to work on complex environmental cases, not to be an executive protection detail. It’s not only not what they want to do, it’s not what they were trained and paid to do.”

Who pays the price for keeping Pruitt safe and cozy?  Well, you already know the answer to that, folks.  But what is that price?  I do not know what it is costing today, but to put it into perspective, during Pruitt’s first three months in his current position, his personal security detail cost We The People $832,735.40.  Since then, his security detail has nearly tripled, so I will leave it to you to do the math. The $800k was nearly double what the previous director required.  Process that one for a minute.

But even the cost of Pruitt’s security pales in comparison to the cost of the damage that is going unnoticed

pruittPatrick Sullivan, the EPA assistant inspector general for investigations, said, “A lot of correspondence we have reflects that people are unhappy with his perceived unenforcement of environmental laws.” Now, we all know that! The vast majority of people in the U.S. do believe the scientists and do wish to preserve the planet for future generations, contrary to the rhetoric of Trump & Co. Shouldn’t these ‘threats’ be a wake-up call to Pruitt that he is on the wrong track?  Wouldn’t you think that somebody in power would assess the situation and realize that we care more about our planet than apparently Trump or Pruitt do?  But alas … I must have forgotten for a moment, that our needs are secondary to Trump & Co.’s personal goal of reversing every good thing that has been done in the past 8 years.  Whatever was I thinking?

This is yet another nail in the coffin of our hopes for any meaningful enforcement of environmental laws …  the few that remain, that is. My own opinion is that Pruitt was the worst possible choice for this job, given that he has filed multiple lawsuits against the very agency he now leads, and it is his own words and actions that have placed him in this situation.  If the threats are real, and I have some doubt about the volume of threats quoted by the agency, he brought them on himself, so let him hire his own bodyguards from his own pay.  His net worth is valued at somewhere between $1 million and $5 million, so he can better afford it than we can.  I do believe in providing security for our employees, but to take people away from doing an important job so they can protect a man who is purposefully destroying our lives, is unconscionable.

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Good People Doing Good Things — Maria Conceição

Today I have a wonderful young woman and her foundation to tell you about, but first, I must make an apology for my faux pas in last week’s Good People post.  My Ghanaian friend Senam, who I call ‘little brother’, gently pointed out the error of my ways, and I must admit he is quite right.

“I loved your recent article about the Nigerian woman, Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo on Good People Doing Good Things…..

Like you wrote, the US doesn’t have a monopoly on good people so it was cool of you to shine the light on the works of this lady….

I have a little concern tho, and forgive me if this is a bit presumptuous…..

You started with “Can’t pronounce it?  Neither can I”, and while I’m sure you really can’t pronounce it correctly, saying that feeds into the stereotype that African names generally are difficult to pronounce. When people say that, it usually means, to us, that they can’t be bothered to learn our names, which is actually funny when you consider how diverse the United States. I mean, nobody has any problem pronouncing schwarzenegger for example

Names are important to us here. Our names have meanings. Olajumoke for example means Cherished Wealth, and making the effort to pronounce is a sign of respect and appreciation….

Again though, it was really great of you to tell her story….. “

Senam is correct, and I was thoughtless, so for that I apologize, and promise to be more careful in the future.  Names ARE important and we need to respect them. And now, please allow me to shine a light on yet another good person …


“These children are my family, I love them, will fight for them and will do all I can to help them succeed.” – Maria Conceição

Twelve years ago, Maria Conceição, then 27 years of age, was a flight attendant for Emirates Airlines when she flew her first flight into Bangladesh. Born in Vila Franca de Xira, Portugal, Maria became a flight attendant in 2003, and had flown mostly to luxury spots.  But then in 2005, she was scheduled to work a flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh, which included a 24-hour layover.  It was that layover that would change her life, and the lives of over a thousand children.

With 24 hours to explore, Maria set out to do some sightseeing, and she kept noticing the large number of homeless and starving in every street, many of them children.  Rather than touring museums and visiting upscale shops, Maria spent her free time touring slums, an orphanage and a hospital in Dhaka.  What she saw there horrified her.

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Dhaka – often called the worlds most overcrowded city

In the hospital, conditions were deplorable and Maria met a young girl who had just given birth to twins, was very sick and basically left to die.  Near her hotel she met up with another young woman, this one living on the streets, and Maria was so moved that she took her food and other essentials, hoping that she could make some small difference in the homeless woman’s life.  But when she returned home, she could not erase the images, and she realized she could not simply turn her back on those people.

Back home, she asked for every flight to Bangladesh, and returned multiple times, each time taking food and other items.  Still, Maria was not satisfied and the following month, May 2005, Maria sold all her possessions save for a few clothes, cashed out her savings, and made her plans to head back to Bangladesh.  Many of her friends helped by selling some of their own possessions and donating the proceeds to Maria’s cause.

Maria returned to Dhaka and set about raising both awareness and cash to help the people living in abject poverty in the slums.  At first it was slow going, both because she was an unknown, and also because people’s pride kept them from accepting charity.  But Maria persisted, and in 2006, along with three other people, established the Maria Cristina Foundation (MCF), named after her adoptive mother.

She received help from colleagues, friends and family, as well as her employer, Emirates Airlines.  And she established a school that began with 39 students from the Korail slum.  Although at first it was slow going, Maria managed to accomplish a lot in that first year.  She opened a home sewing school so women could learn to work, a daycare center, a driving school for rickshaw drivers.  And small things, like providing containers to families to capture rainwater, a first aid and dental center were established, trash cans distributed.

mc-2By the end of 2006, the school had expanded to some 150 students and, though still struggling for donations, the foundation was on the road to success.  In 2007, Bangladesh saw floods and a major cyclone that caused inflation, thus the donations did not go as far, but nonetheless, the foundation began a vaccination program for the children.  The foundation was now taking care of about 600 children, thanks to generous contributions from Maria’s employer, Emirates Airlines, as well as others.

2008 brought about many difficulties:  natural disasters, the worldwide financial crisis, and naturally donations fell off.  So, Maria did something extraordinary to draw attention to the needs of the foundation and its community — she set out to become a sportswoman of note, and in that she clearly succeeded, becoming the first Portuguese woman to climb Mount Everest; holding three records as a marathon runner; and establishing six Guinness World Records. Most recently, she attempted to swim the English Channel but was forced to abandon her bid due to overpowering tidal currents.

Her accomplishments did put the foundation in the limelight, and they now receive donations, job assistance and other forms of help from a number of large corporations.

mc-4Ultimately, the school that Maria started in 2005 was overwhelmed, and the foundation made arrangements for 450 of the 600 students to attend an excellent school in Bangladesh and the foundation pays their tuition.  A handful have been offered scholarships to an excellent GEMS school in Dubai, UAE.  By 2013, there were only 150 students remaining at the Gawair when the school was forced to close due to lack of funding.

Maria and MCF have done so much to help the poor of Dhaka, Bangladesh, that I cannot even begin to cover them all.  They have adult programs, family programs, and of course the highest priority is always the education of the children, for it is that that will provide them with opportunities to rise well above their beginnings.  There are numerous articles and interviews online with Maria, but the best I found was in Arabian Business.  And there is a must-see Ted Talk.  It is rather long … 19:18 minutes, but worth every minute, if you can spare the time, to listen to Maria tell her story in her own words.

We have come across a lot of wonderful people since I began this feature back in February, haven’t we?  Today’s good person is no exception, for she is quite literally living her life to do good for others, and I give her a big thumbs-up!

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Links:

Maria Cristina Foundation website

MCF Facebook page

UNCONSCIONABLE!!!!!


On November 18, 1956, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev, addressing Western ambassadors at a reception at the Polish embassy in Moscow, said …

“About the capitalist states, it doesn’t depend on you whether or not we exist. If you don’t like us, don’t accept our invitations, and don’t invite us to come to see you. Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you!”

we-will-bury-you-2On September 19, 2017, U.S.’ Donald Trump, addressing the United Nations in New York City, said of North Korea …

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea …”trump-fist

I was 5 years old when Khrushchev gave his speech.  Within days, posters appeared everywhere showing his picture with those words:  We Will Bury You.  Even at age 5, even though I was not quite sure what it all meant, I was chilled.  I am now 66, and at hearing Donald Trump’s words, I am chilled to the bone.

The so-called president of one of the largest western nations, in theory a democratic republic, just threatened to murder 25 million innocent people.  If there are those who applaud this bombast, they are inhumane.  If those who are responsible for writing Trump’s prepared speeches thought this was a show of strength, they should be script-writing in Hollywood, not Washington.  Donald Trump has made many outrageous claims, said many horrific things since he first entered politics in mid-2015, but in my opinion, this is the worst, the most unforgivable, the most inhumane statement he has ever made. 25 million people’s lives were just threatened by a man who is not even good enough to clean their stables.

Trump accused Kim Jong-un of overseeing a regime that has starved its people, yet he threatens to murder those very people.  The people of North Korea are human beings, a fact that seems to escape Trump’s notice. His threat is nothing less than a threat of genocide.

John Bolton, former ambassador to the United Nations, applauded Trump, saying the speech was Trump’s best yet.  A few random comments from readers of The Independent, a UK publication, were “reckless idiot”, and “the problem isn’t North Korea, it’s the U.S.”.  As of this writing, the world has not yet had time to react, but most assuredly, Trump’s remark will do absolutely nothing to calm the already high tensions around the globe.

Here are just a handful of the people Trump has threatened to ‘totally destroy’ …

 

On Beating A Dead Horse …

Two men who know less about health care and medical insurance than even I, have suddenly become experts in what is good for the health of our nation.  Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy have brought the dead horse issue of repealing ACA (Obamacare) back to some form of life in the Senate, apparently in the hope of currying favour with Donald Trump.

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There was a time that I had some grudging respect for Senator Graham, but that time has long since passed, the final nail driven into the coffin last weekend when he lowered himself into the dung heap and appeared on Breitbart to make a plea to the masses.  The ‘nationalist’ Trump-supporting masses, that is, for the other 65% of us do not appear to matter to him.

The Graham/Cassidy bill looks remarkably like a clone of the bill that failed in July that was drafted by Mitch McConnell and his goons, none of whom know any more than I do about the details of a comprehensive health care plan.  Where are the experts?  Where are the people for whom this is charted territory, the people who understand the ramifications and effects on We The People?  They are not in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Capitol, that’s for certain.

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Lindsey Graham/Bill Cassidy

When Senators McCain, Murkowski and Collins cast ‘nay’ votes on the Senate floor in July, I thought the issue was done … the dead horse had been beaten for the final time.  Trump ranted for a bit: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” He told them to go back to the floor and try again, but the senators were tired, it was time for their break, and they had other work to do. They also knew they could not sway the three who voted their conscience.

But now for some reason, Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy are determined to attempt to breathe new life into that dead horse. Make no mistake … it is the same horse and it is still dead.  The goal of Graham and Cassidy, I think, is to bully and browbeat and push for a very quick vote before the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has time to remind us of the terrible consequences of the repeal.  I hope … I sincerely hope … that nothing has changed and that at the very least, Senators McCain, Murkowski and Collins will continue to stand by what they know is right.  I believe they will.  Senator Rand Paul has also said that he will not vote for the bill. But what about the other 49 senators?  Where are their consciences?  I think I know where … buried deep in their wallets, gathering dust and being crushed by their fat arses every day.

toon-1.jpgIf the Graham/Cassidy bill fails to pass by September 30th, then it will require a 60% majority to pass, which would mean at least 8 democratic senators would have to cast their votes in favour.  I would like, ultimately, to see bi-partisan efforts such as those being proposed by Lamar Alexander and Patti Murray to fix the cracks in the ACA and maintain it, rather than recklessly throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

On Saturday, Graham appeared on Breitbart to convince those who watch such things that his plan would somehow make them happy, I suppose.  One thing he said, though, sticks in my craw:

“So the goal is to get the money and the power out of Washington. This is not about repealing and replacing Obamacare. This is about stopping a march towards socialism.”

This was in reference to the single-payer plan laid out last week by Bernie Sanders.  I can speak only for myself, but if Bernie’s plan is considered socialist, and Graham’s plan is anti-socialist, then call me a socialist. Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal,  Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom all have universal health care, and none are socialist nations.  Senator Graham is wrong, just plain wrong. He is simply more interested in pleasing Trump and the lobbyists for the insurance industry than he is in seeing to the best interests of those who have voted him into office since 2003.

My best guess is that this latest incarnation will have essentially the same effect, that of leaving between 24-26 million people without health insurance and without the ability to pay for their own health care.  If so, that is an abomination.  Graham claims the states will then implement their own health care bills, but we all know that a) these things take time, and b) we cannot always trust the states to act in our best interests.

Meanwhile, folks, it is time to start once again making those phone calls and writing those emails once again.  This administration is going to owe us all new laptops and cell phones before it’s all over. Some analysts are saying it looks close this time, but of course it was close last time, and if Senator McCain had not pulled a rabbit out of his hat, it would have passed in July.  But we cannot rest on our laurels, and we cannot count on ‘right’ to win out over ‘might’, for Trump is a powerful bully who wears people down with his schoolyard tactics.  Please, take a few minutes to write to your senators and let them know how you feel.

We need to put this idea of repealing ACA at all costs, to bed.  If the GOP had a viable plan whereby everyone … everyone … would have access to affordable health care, I would not object. Obviously, they do not. It is not the senators who need to worry about how they will be able to afford a doctor next time they need one … no, it is you and I, our friends and our families.