Brief Update …

As many of you know, I have spent this week in the hospital.  I was discharged this afternoon, they say my heart, lungs and kidneys are improving, but I am far from feeling better.  I hope to get back up to speed on ye olde blog next week, but it will likely be slow going.  I appreciate you sticking with me through this difficult time and I promise to be back in the saddle soon.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.

Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa

You’re FIRED!

There was never anything that deemed Kellyanne Conway qualified to sit on the U.S. Air Force’s Board of Visitors.  She has no military experience at all and her appointment to that position by the former guy can only be said to have been a political favour.  Okay, every president has likely meted out such favours, and the next president most often reverses them if they aren’t qualified.

On Wednesday, the White House told 18 officials who had been appointed by the former guy to serve on the boards of U.S. military service academies to resign or be dismissed.  Of the 18, only one that I’m aware of was even remotely qualified for the positions to which he had been appointed:  former National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.  Among the least qualified were former Trump advisor and one-time campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.  Neither had a shred of qualifying experience for the positions to which they were assigned.

A sample of one of the letters from White House assistant Catherine M. Russell read …

“On behalf of President Biden, I am writing to request your resignation as a Member of the Board of Visitors to the U.S. Naval Academy.  Please submit your resignation to me by the close of business today.  Should we not receive your resignation, your position with the Board will be terminated effective 6:00 p.m. tonight.  Thank you.”

And the fight was on … naturally it was, for anything that President Biden says or does is food for the Republican gristmill.  And naturally, Kellyanne’s was the loudest voice of dissent, tweeting …

“President Biden, I’m not resigning, but you should.”

Former Press Secretary Sean Spicer, whose claim to fame was his ridiculous and disproven claim about the size of the former guy’s inauguration crowd in 2017, is also flapping his wings and crying “Foul!”.  Again, not surprising but also neither mature nor professional.  Spicer, in fact, has threatened to sue current White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki for her remarks when asked to comment on the terminations …

“I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and others were qualified, or not political, to serve on this board.  But the president’s qualification requirements are not your party registration. They are whether you are qualified to serve and whether you’re aligned with the values of this administration.”

And so, while wildfires are raging throughout the West, while floods are crippling the northeast, while more than a thousand people per day are dying in the U.S. alone as a result of COVID, while voting rights and women’s rights are being decimated on a daily basis, this … the removal of highly unqualified individuals from positions they never earned, will be in our faces, cost the government wasted time and money, and give more fuel to the GOP fires already burning out of control.  What’s next, I wonder?  The quality of food served in the U.S. Capitol?  Not up to Republican standards?  🙄

Black Face On White Supremacy

On September 14th, Californians will cast their vote to either keep current Governor Gavin Newsom or replace him with one of a number of other candidates vying for his job. The leading contender appears to be Larry Elder, who I have mentioned before here on Filosofa’s Word. Elder is NOT a man under whose governance I would wish to live! Clay Jones over at Claytoonz has done a fantastic job of showing us who Elder is … read on!

claytoonz

Cjones09082021

Over the weekend, a speaker at a rally for California governor Gavin Newsome said his Republican opponent, Larry Elder, is a “black face on white supremacy.” Larry Elder is a controversial right-wing Trump-supporting conspiracy-spreading whack job with a radio show who also happens to be black. But black people can be conservative lunatics too, right? Is it fair to accuse one of them, like Larry Elder, of being a “black face on white supremacy?” After all, Larry Elder is totally 100 percent in favor of reparations for slavery.

Of course, it’s not descendants of slaves Larry wants reparations for. No, Larry believe slave OWNERS should be rewarded reparations.

Ya’ see, Larry was talking to fellow black conservative lunatic, Candace Owens (which helps defend him from the charges of racism because she can be his prop for a black friend), and he argued since slavery was legal, slave owners were robbed…

View original post 773 more words

♫ Hello ♫ (Redux)

According to my records, I last played this one in September 2019, just two years ago.  I’m still reduxing this week to conserve my small amount of energy, but this one always brings a happy feeling to my heart … partly, of course, because … well, it’s Lionel!!!  And partly because it’s a beautiful song in my book.

Tonight’s selection, Hello, was Lionel’s second #1 song after leaving the Commodores and going solo (Truly, which I almost played tonight, was his first).  The album that features tonight’s song, Can’t Slow Down, won the 1984 Grammy for Album of the Year, and is the biggest-selling album in the history of Motown Records.

When you think of Motown, you probably think of Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and The Temptations, but Lionel Richie was also one of their biggest stars, and Hello was one of their biggest hits, especially in Britain. It was Motown’s first ever UK million selling single.

The song was promoted with a much derided video which included dialogue. Lionel Richie plays a teacher, Mr. Reynolds, who falls in love with a blind pottery student, Laura. When he looks in at her class, he finds that she has made a perfect clay model of his head. During the making of the video, Richie protested to the director Bob Giraldi that the story about the blind woman had no relationship to the song. Giraldi replied to him, “You’re not creating the story, I am.” The video was voted the worst music video of all time (don’t worry — I’m not playing that one!) in a poll of 8,000 music fans by UK TV music channel The Box, but Giraldi, who also directed Michael Jackson’s Beat It, stands by it. He’s quoted in the book I Want My MTV as saying, “I came up with the idea of a blind girl and Lionel as a teacher. ‘Hello’ is one of the top videos ever.” Giraldi adds that Richie was concerned that the bust didn’t look like him, until Giraldi pointed out that the girl making it was supposed to be blind.

Hello

Lionel Richie

I’ve been alone with you inside my mind
And in my dreams I’ve kissed your lips a thousand times
I sometimes see you pass outside my door
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?

I can see it in your eyes
I can see it in your smile
You’re all I’ve ever wanted, and my arms are open wide
‘Cause you know just what to say
And you know just what to do
And I want to tell you so much, I love you

I long to see the sunlight in your hair
And tell you time and time again how much I care
Sometimes I feel my heart will overflow
Hello, I’ve just got to let you know

‘Cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart
For I haven’t got a clue
But let me start by saying, I love you

Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
‘Cause I wonder where you are
And I wonder what you do
Are you somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving you?
Tell me how to win your heart
For I haven’t got a clue
But let me start by saying I love you

Songwriters: Lionel Richie / Eddy Marnay
Hello lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Lies, Lies, Lies — Is McCarthy’s Nose Growing Yet?

I have to wonder if Kevin McCarthy’s parents read the story of Pinocchio to him as a child.  You remember … Pinocchio, the wooden puppet who became an actual boy, but his nose grew with every lie he told.  If Kevin heard that story as a child, you’d think it might have made a lasting impression and he’d be less inclined to lie glibly on a near-continual basis.  I remember as a child, each time I told a lie, going into the bathroom and actually measuring my nose with my finger!

But Kevin does have a fairly longish nose, come to think of it.

In the past two weeks, he has told at least six blatant lies that I’m aware of, likely many more.  The question becomes, why?  Does he realize that his constituents are largely uncaring and ignorant of facts and only want to hear those things that can give them renewed purpose in hating any who don’t follow the Republican playbook?  But what about the rest of us?  Does it not matter to him that we see the smoke coming out of his mouth, that we DO know the facts, or at least are willing to spend 2 minutes looking them up?  Somehow, this ‘man’ has risen through the GOP ranks to become his party’s leader in the U.S. House of Representatives – a position that commands respect, but that respect must be earned, and he damn sure is not earning it.

Lie #1:  McCarthy claimed that oil prices are now “the highest that we have seen.”  Fact:  Crude prices peaked in 2008 under Republican President George W. Bush – more than double their level at the time McCarthy made this claim.  Crude prices were also higher at various points under Republican President Donald Trump than they were two weeks ago when McCarthy made his false claim or than they are today.

Lie #2:  McCarthy claimed that there is now “inflation at a number we have not seen.”  Fact:  While inflation was at a 13-year high in June and July, at a seasonally adjusted 5.3% on a year-over-year basis, it is not even close to the highest we have ever seen and not even close to the level of the late Carter era. Inflation was more than twice as high in every month of 1980 than it was in June and July of this year; its 1980 peak was 14.6%.

Lie #3:  Speaking about congressional Democrats, McCarthy asked, “Why aren’t they protecting the border from those 5,000 prisoners who have just left Afghanistan and — have the hope of coming across our borders?”  Fact:  There is no basis for McCarthy’s claim that 5,000 former prisoners have “just left Afghanistan” with the hope of coming to the US. And McCarthy neglected to mention that it was President Donald Trump’s own 2020 deal with the Taliban — a deal McCarthy had positive words about at the time — in which the US agreed to let up to 5,000 Afghan prisoners go free.

Lie #4:  McCarthy said, “We have watched state after state where Democrats have left the state.”  Fact:  Texas is the only state whose Democratic legislators left the state under Biden or Trump to deny Republicans the minimum attendance needed to pass elections legislation.

Lie #5:  McCarthy said Democrats’ new elections bill “would ban voter ID in every state.”  Fact:  The Democratic bill would not prohibit states from having voter identification laws and would not prohibit states from checking the IDs of in-person voters. Rather, it would require states to give voters an alternative to showing the ID the states normally demand — specifically, to allow voters who do not show that ID to instead submit signed statements under penalty of perjury attesting to their identity and eligibility to vote.

Lie #6:  McCarthy claimed, based on an anonymous report, that the Department of Justice has concluded that Donald Trump did not cause, incite, or provoke the violence on January 6th.”  Fact:  The report is anonymous, not an official FBI report, but is suspected to be a report published by Reuters news agency that said merely the FBI has found “scant evidence” that the January 6 riots were coordinated.  No idea where they got their misinformation.

I’m sure there are more lies, but these are enough to spread disinformation far and wide among Republican voters who are already heavily influenced by the conspiracy theories put forth by QAnon and others who seem to have members spread throughout the GOP.

Anybody have a tape measure?  We really ought to measure ol’ Kevin’s nose!!!  Or wait … maybe we should measure the noses of every Republican in Congress, for the GOP motto seems to be “Why tell the truth when a lie will work just as well?”

On A (Brief) Personal Note …

So many of you have expressed your concern over recent health issues that I thought a very brief update was warranted.  Yesterday, I finally consented to see the doctor, fully expecting to find I had some form of infection, be given antibiotics, and sent home.

Turns out, I have a fairly serious heart condition that will require a bit more than a round of anti-biotics.  After hours of tests, I refused the hospital’s generous offer to spend the night and came home.  My primary care provider obtained the test results today and has called in prescriptions that I will start tonight, after my bank account is fully drained.  I will be fine … and I should, according to my internal calculations, be fully back in the saddle by early next week.  Meanwhile, I will post here when I can, though it may not be full speed just yet.  This blog and my blogging friends & family mean too much for me to simply set it aside.

Thanks to all for the well-wishes … I love you all!

The Good, The Bad, The Hopeful

A few days ago, my dear friend Ellen sent me Maureen Dowd’s column from the New York Times.  She says so much that the topic of the column rather defies description, but her vision of where this nation is today is spot on.  She also gives us hope in a more positive, yet realistic assessment of President Biden’s policies and actions than we’re used to hearing these days.


Drowning Our Future in the Past

By Maureen Dowd

Opinion Columnist

It isn’t a pretty picture.

One coast is burning. The other is under water. In between, anti-abortion vigilantes may soon rampage across gunslinging territory.

What has happened to this country?

America is reeling backward, strangled by the past, nasty and uncaring, with everyone at one another’s throats.

Post-Trump, we let ourselves hope that the new president could heal and soothe, restore a sense of rationality, decency and sanity. But the light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be just a firefly.

We feel the return of dread: We’re rattled by the catastrophic exit from Afghanistan; the coming abortion war sparked by Texas; the Trumpian Supreme Court dragging us into the past; the confounding nature of this plague; the way Mother Nature is throttling us, leaving New Yorkers to drown in their basements. And now comes Donald Trump, tromping toward another presidential run.

It feels as if nothing can be overcome. Everything is being relitigated.

We’re choking on enlightened climate proposals but the disparity between the disasters we see, and what’s being done in Washington, makes it feel as though nothing is happening except climate change. We’re so far from getting a handle on the problem, the discussions around it seem almost theoretical.

Joe Manchin, tied to the energy industry, balks at climate change provisions in the reconciliation bill. He should be looking for ways to get West Virginia in touch with reality rather than living in the past.

“Manchin’s claim that climate pollution would be worsened by the elimination of fossil fuels — or by the resolution’s actual, more incremental climate provisions — is highly dubious, if not outright false,” The Intercept reported, noting that the truth is that Manchin’s personal wealth would “be impacted.” Since he joined the Senate, The Intercept said, he has grossed some $4.5 million from coal companies he founded.

With its new abortion law, sending women back to the back alley and encouraging Stasi-like participation from the citizenry, Texas now becomes the capital of American unreason. The law “essentially delegated enforcement of that prohibition to the populace at large,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts.

There were medieval fiefs more enlightened than the Lone Star G.O.P.

Between putting women in danger by pushing that law and putting children in danger by imposing his anti-mask mania on school districts that want to mask up, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has become a scourge of the first rank.

A cynical slice of the Republican Party — and this includes Trump — privately denigrates anti-abortion activists as wackos, but publicly moves in lock-step with them in order to cling to that base and keep power.

But the anti-abortion forces were somehow clever enough to hijack the Supreme Court and Republicans will have to contend with the backlash when the court tosses Roe v. Wade aside.

As botched as the withdrawal from Afghanistan was, at least Joe Biden was trying to move into the future and do triage on one of America’s worst mistakes.

And unlike other presidents — J.F.K. with the Bay of Pigs, L.B.J. with the Vietnam War and Barack Obama with the Afghanistan surge — Biden did not allow himself to be suckered by the generals, the overweening Ivy Leaguers and the Blob, the expense account monsters who keep this town whirring and always have a seat at the table, no matter how wrong they were, and are.

The Afghanistan tragedy, as James Risen wrote in The Intercept, was just two decades of Americans lying to one another, and it “brought out in Americans the same imperial arrogance that doomed the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.”

Unlike his three predecessors, Biden risked Saudi ire by directing the Justice Department and other agencies on Friday to review and declassify documents related to the F.B.I.’s investigation into 9/11. Families of 9/11 victims had been pushing for the release of the secret files to learn more about the role the Saudis played in the attacks.

The enablers of our misbegotten occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq have been shrieking like banshees at Biden, trying to manacle him to their own past mistakes as he attempts to lift off.

With peerless chutzpah, Tony Blair called Biden’s decision to depart cynical and driven by an “imbecilic political slogan about ending ‘the forever wars.’”

But Biden knew enough not to spend more lives and treasure to prop up a kleptocracy. He oversaw some bad weeks in Afghanistan but George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld should be blamed for 20 bad years.

Remarkably, as Jon Allsop pointed out in The Columbia Journalism Review, the word “Bush” was not mentioned once on any of the Sunday news shows the weekend Kabul was falling.

“He looks like the Babe Ruth of presidents when you compare him to Trump,” Harry Reid, the former Democratic Senate majority leader, told The Washington Post’s Ben Terris, for a story this past week on Bush nostalgia.

With a memory like a goldfish, America circles its bowl, returning to where we have been, unable to move forward, condemned to repeat a past we should escape.

♫ September Morn ♫ (Redux)

Okay, I have a number of friends a generation or so younger than I who laugh and say I’m showing my age when I say I like Neil Diamond, but they don’t scare me off.  I like Neil Diamond.  There, I said it.  Sweet Caroline, Cracklin’ Rosie, I am … I said, Song Sung Blue … and all the rest … they resonate.  Fine, throw those rotten tomatoes if you will, but I still like them.

I was feeling a bit nostalgic tonight … it’s been rather the week from hell and I am, as I told my daughter, rather mad at the world at the moment.  As I was reading and responding to comments tonight, a friend had mentioned the word “September” and that was all it took for my mind to start playing this song, September Morn, in my head.  “We danced until the night became a brand new day …” over and over.

There isn’t a lot of interesting trivia about this song, except perhaps this …

The Tennessee nursing student Holly Bobo was 20 years old when she vanished on April 13, 2011. As usual in cases of this nature, a number of “psychics” came forward with information that could assist the investigation. Authorities made it clear that these dubious tips were interfering with the investigation, but volunteer groups pushed to follow the leads.

Among the calls that came in was one from a person who insisted that the lyrics to “September Morn” contained clues to Bobo’s disappearance. Just what the lyrics supposedly revealed about the case was unclear, but it made news along with other odd claims.

Naturally, nothing came of it, although sometime later, one September in 2014, her remains were found.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, I give you … Neil Diamond …

September Morn
Neil Diamond

Stay for just a while
Stay and let me look at you
It’s been so long, I hardly knew you
Standing in the door

Stay with me a while
I only wanna talk to you
We’ve traveled halfway ’round the world
To find ourselves again

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

Look at what you’ve done
Why, you’ve become a grown-up girl
I still can hear you crying
In a corner of your room
And look how far we’ve come
So far from where we used to be
But not so far that we’ve forgotten
How it was before

September morn
Do you remember
How we danced that night away
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way
September morning
Still can make me feel that way

Songwriters: Gilbert Becaud / Neil Diamond
September Morn lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

Perhaps We Trusted Too Much

If you were born with pale skin in the United States in the last 150 years, you have led a life of great privilege, though you might not realize it.  You might begin to realize it if you could exchange brief life stories with someone your age born in Ghana, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Iraq … most any other non-democratic nation.  But here’s the thing … we are so used to that life of privilege that we no longer appreciate it, we take it for granted.

Since you were old enough to talk, you’ve understood that this is a mostly free nation, that people have certain ‘unalienable’ rights.  You can choose your own career path, can choose to be well-educated … or not.  You can choose, within the confines of your economic status, where to live, what sort of car to drive.  You are not told who, or even if you must marry.  You are not forced into any religion.  And perhaps most importantly of all, you have the right to vote in order to keep people in government who are dedicated to preserving your rights.

You were told when you first learned about the founding of the U.S. and the U.S. Constitution that this document was the foundation of our nation and was the primary safeguard against the country ever becoming a Nazi Germany ruled by a madman.  You were told that the Constitution guaranteed that religion and government would always be kept separate, that you would never be beheaded for not believing in any religion.  It is your right, you were told, to be a Jew, Muslin, Hindu, Christian, or atheist.  It is your right to marry whomever you choose.  It is your right to have the final say over your body.  And you thought all this was guaranteed, that those ‘rights’ could never be taken away from you.

It may just be that you were wrong.

We became lazy, we became complacent, we became inured to the little things that were chipping away at our lives, our freedoms, as we didn’t even realize it.  We trusted in our government and its foundational separation of powers that would always keep any one branch of government from having too much power.  We never asked ourselves what would happen if two or even three of those branches plotted to join hands and become all-powerful.  We had the utmost faith in the impartial, non-partisan, 9-member Supreme Court that would always rule in favour of ‘right’.  We trusted in the ‘Separation of Church and State’ doctrine to keep us free of bigoted, restrictive rules imposed by religious sects.

But a funny thing happened as we travelled through the decades.  Men became intoxicated by power and the smell of money. And then they lied to us.  They lied about little things, they lied about big things.  They manipulated us, told us that those who try to help people in need are ‘socialists’ and ‘communists’, even though the majority of people do not even understand what those terms mean, but these greedy men gave us their interpretation and … we were too lazy to educate ourselves with facts, to learn the truth of the matter.

I won’t go through the entire scenario of the past twelve years or so, but here we are today … dangerously close to the precipice, to that thin line that separates a democratic republic from an autocracy.  Even now, when we nearly lost our voices and our freedoms on January 6th, far too many people believe that the men lying to them on a near-hourly basis are the good guys, the guys in the white hats.  They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing that white folks like themselves are being pushed into a minority and that … somehow this is not a good thing.  They have been convinced that climate change is a hoax, that the pandemic is but a minor blip on the radar, and that somehow all evil stems from one side of the political spectrum.

A quote by Nelson Mandela speaks volumes here …

The United States is at a crossroads.  We can continue to allow the politicians, our elected representatives, to lie to us, to rob us, to cheat on us, as we take comfort in the fact that we have a job, a comfortable home, a ‘happy’ life, or we can educate ourselves, wake up and realize what could happen, how drastically our lives could change over the coming few years if we simply do nothing, continue to believe that somehow it will “all work out in the long run.”  A lot of people in Germany 90 years ago made the same mistake.

♫ Unforgettable ♫ (Redux)

I’ve really missed doing my music post these past couple of weeks.  I knew I didn’t have the energy to start a new one tonight, so I went back through my archives, I haven’t played this one since 2018 and … listening to it just made me feel happy inside, so I decided to redux it.  I hope you enjoy …

This song was first released by the late, great Nat King Cole with orchestra leader and arranger Nelson Riddle in 1951.  Nat King Cole was biggest seller for Capitol Records for much of the late ’40s and early ’50s. He did a lot of work with Nelson Riddle at Capitol, but Unforgettable was the first session where Riddle got an official credit for his arrangement. The two continued to work together, with Riddle doing orchestrations for The Nat King Cole Show, a variety show Cole hosted in 1956 that was the first of its kind starring a black man. Riddle also did a lot of work with Frank Sinatra when he joined Capitol in 1953.

Nat King Cole’s daughter, Natalie, grew up in his shadow and largely made an effort to stay away from singing so she wouldn’t face the expectations of being Nat King Cole’s daughter.  Her father died just 11 days after her 15th birthday.  In 1991, forty years after the original release, Natalie Cole breathed new life into the song, dubbing her vocals with his to make a new hit.  It is the title song on her album, Unforgettable… with Love, which sold over seven million copies and also won Cole seven Grammy Awards.

Natalie Cole died on 31 December 2015 of congestive heart failure.  She was 65 years of age.

Unforgettable
Nat King Cole

Unforgettable
That’s what you are
Unforgettable
Tho’ near or far
Like a song of love that clings to me
How the thought of you does things to me
Never before has someone been more
Unforgettable in every way
And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay
That’s why darling it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too

Unforgettable in every way
And forever more, that’s how you’ll stay
That’s why darling it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too

Songwriters: Irving Gordon
Unforgettable lyrics © Bourne Co.