America’s Wake-Up Call — Our Final Thoughts …

The election is just four days away and this will be the last pre-election post that Jeff and I will likely be doing.  We were pondering what our final words to you should be, what one last thought we wanted to leave you with before this momentous election.  The one thing that weighs heavily on all of our minds is what our country will look like four years from now, for we are at a turning point in many areas and how we respond going forward to such things as the pandemic, climate change, income disparity, healthcare and more will have a dramatic effect on whether this nation thrives or fails in the coming years.

With that in mind, we want to leave you with our thoughts on what the U.S. will be in four years under each of the candidates for the presidency.  We will not engage in hyperbole or wild fantasies but will try to imagine in our own minds what each of these candidates will realistically be able to accomplish … or destroy.


2024 Under Donald Trump

It’s 2024 and Donald Trump has now been president for seven years and a few months.  At the beginning of his second term, back in 2021, the pandemic ravaged the nation.  With more than one million dead by the end of 2021, there was not a single family that hadn’t suffered the loss of a loved one.  Worse yet, the job market tanked as most every state, with the exception of Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas imposed strict lockdown measures in order to try to save lives.  Chaos reigned, especially in the cities where bands of gun-toting marauders roamed the streets, making it unsafe for people to go about their business.  Fortunately, by the summer of 2022, a reliable, safe vaccine had been widely distributed and the pandemic was downgraded, with fewer and fewer people becoming ill.  Although the vaccine was created and manufactured at Oxford University in England, Donald Trump took full credit and told us we should get on our knees and thank him.

So many things have gone seriously wrong in these past four years that I don’t know where to begin.  It’s almost impossible to remember when the EU, UK, Canada, Australia and many other countries were our allies, and there was mutual respect between us.  Today, it’s safe to say that no nation on the planet respects the U.S.  Trump’s foreign policy is non-existent and changes on a day-by-day basis.  The only constants are that he is on the friendliest terms with Russia’s Putin, Brazil’s Bolsonaro, North Korea’s Kim Jong un, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman … all of whom are autocratic, despicable leaders.  Our former allies watch us closely with suspicious eyes and there has been talk of a wide-scale full trade embargo if we do not take drastic steps to reduce our carbon emissions, as well as plastic waste.  Trump, meanwhile, scoffs and like a schoolboy, taunts the European leaders.  There will be a price to pay … one that we will all pay — are already paying.

As a result of Trump’s trade deals and ridiculous tariffs, our cost of living has increased significantly … a trip to the grocery store is now approximately 40% higher than it was four short years ago … and yet wages have barely risen in most industries.  Time and time again, Trump has refused to sign into law a $15 an hour federal minimum wage law, and today the federal minimum wage remains stagnant at $7.25 an hour, as it has been since July 24, 2009 – some fifteen years!  In 2020, nearly 46 million people in this country lived below the poverty level.  Today, that number has nearly doubled to 89 million people, with women who are single parents being hit the hardest.

Perhaps the most heart-breaking thing over the past four years is the way in which Trump has openly promoted racism and other forms of bigotry.  While he still has managed to build only a few miles of the abominable wall he promised 8 years ago, immigrants have largely stopped trying to come to this country, for in 2021 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) shot and killed hundreds of asylum seekers attempting to cross the border between the U.S. and Mexico.  This they did with Trump’s approval, and though lawsuits were filed, while some courts found ICE guilty, the Supreme Court, now with a 7-2 conservative bench since the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer, ruled that ICE was only doing their job.  Police departments across the nation are aware that there will be no repercussions for harassing people of colour and immigrants. Last year in Portland, Oregon, a gang of white supremacist thugs murdered eight Black men on their way home from a bachelor’s party and last week, every one of the white supremacist murderers were awarded a ‘not guilty’ verdict.

The suicide rate last year doubled from just a decade ago, and such things as drug use and alcoholism are, according to the experts, at an all-time high, not surprisingly.  People are tired, they are hungry, they are struggling just to put food on the table, while the wealthy corporate executives now pay almost no taxes, and Trump has undermined such social programs as housing assistance, medical assistance and food stamps such that many see no alternative but death. Today, Social Security … the government-mandated pension plan we all paid into for our entire lives, is on the Supreme Court chopping block, leaving seniors wondering how they can survive.

The day that Trump was re-elected in 2020 was the darkest day in this nation’s history, and the darkness has not yet lifted … won’t lift until he … and his family … are out of office.


2024 Under Joe Biden

Well, here we are … another election year.  Joe Biden has been president for just over three years now, and overall, I believe the nation is better today than it was four years ago.  The first two years of his administration were rocky, mainly because it was a time of trying to reverse course from the Trump years, and so many who had given Trump their support tried to throw every possible obstacle up in front of Biden’s attempts to repair the damage.

I well remember the winter of 2021 when Biden ordered the shutting of non-essential businesses for a period of 60 days in order to try to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.  There were riots in the street, people claiming their ‘rights’ had been violated, and every day Trump was on Fox News, further stirring the masses.  But, Biden’s plan ultimately worked, and by the end of March, new cases were less than 100 per day, and deaths were down to 20-30 per day.  The masses began to see that there was method to the madness.

And then the great fossil fuel debate, after Biden almost immediately re-joined the Paris Climate Accords, setting off the oil, gas, and coal companies.  But, by early last year, there were far more jobs available in the renewable energy fields than there had been in 2019 in the fossil fuel industry, and even the most devoted climate deniers had to admit that this was a win-win.  Not, of course, before windmills and a couple of solar energy facilities were blown up by said activists, but even that didn’t stop us from moving forward.

We still haven’t quite managed a Universal Health Care plan, but we’re a step or two closer than we were four, or even eight years ago.  Joe Biden did as he had promised, built on the Affordable Care Act that had been established under President Obama, made sure that nobody could be denied health insurance at an affordable rate, and that nobody would be left out due to a pre-existing condition such as heart problems, diabetes, chronic lung problems or any other condition.  Prescription drugs are still more expensive than in most other countries, but the costs are coming down, slowly but surely.  I believe that in the next four years, if Biden is given a second term, we will achieve something very close to Universal Health Care, but I am not holding my breath.

As we feared four years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, overturn Roe v Wade and women’s rights took a hit.  However, 42 of the 50 states have passed laws allowing a woman to have an abortion up to 22 weeks into her pregnancy in most cases, which has taken the teeth out of the Supreme Court reversal.  On a brighter note, though they tried, the Court was unable to overturn Obergefell v Hodges, and same-sex marriages are still legal under federal law.  Unfortunately, the evangelical churches continue to stir antagonism against the LGBT community.

In addition to re-joining the Paris Climate Accords, President Biden has invested a great deal of time in becoming more involved in the United Nations and NATO, has re-joined the World Health Organization (WHO), and has brought the U.S. back into the Iran nuclear agreement, although by this time, Iran had already increased its supply of plutonium and was well into the testing stages of their nuclear program.  Most importantly, though, President Biden has reassured our allies that we consider them to be highly valued friends, and he has taken steps to ensure that Russia and other countries will not have access to programs that would enable them to interfere with this year’s election.  Although, since Vladimir Putin’s assassination last year, Russia has been less concerned with our affairs.

Mind you, everything hasn’t been a bed of roses.  The first two years were rocky, to say the least, and it wasn’t easy for President Biden to earn the trust of the people of this nation, particularly those who still felt cheated and left out by our government, those who had blindly supported Donald Trump and his loss felt as if the rug had been pulled out from underneath their feet.  But Biden didn’t give up, he kept his promises, he truly represented ALL of the people, not just democrats or republicans, but all of us.  By his third year, people were getting used to his sometimes-hesitant speech, to his infamous opening line, “Now here’s the thing …” People were starting to see that with the new federal minimum wage of $15 per hour they had more money left over at the end of the pay cycle, were even able to save some for a rainy day.  They were grateful to be able to take their child to the doctor without worrying about how to pay.  And, they were grateful, whether they admitted it or not, for the peace, the lack of chaos.  There has been very little turnover in this administration, agencies like the EPA and Health & Human Services have been brought back to do the job they were initially intended to do.  Domestic terror events have decreased, though groups like the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups are still around, but just not as prevalent since this administration has taken domestic terrorism threats very seriously.

Racism is still with us, and perhaps it always will be.  The number of racist incidents by police has been reduced since the Biden administration’s renewed efforts to screen and train police officers around the country, however just last month a black teen was shot and killed by police in Dallas, Texas, as he was walking home from a high school sporting event after dark.  The officer was immediately terminated and now awaits trial.

Four years ago, when Joe Biden was elected, I think we had hopes that the rifts, the things that divide us … democrat vs republican … would heal quickly, but sadly they have not.  They are healing, but ever so slowly.  There are those who would still welcome Trump and his plans to build a wall, and they are among the most vocal of all.  And there are those among the democratic ranks who haven’t forgotten Trump and all the damage he inflicted on this nation … in fact, I think it’s safe to say that this nation is still very much divided by Trump and his radical views almost as much today as we were four years ago.

I’d like to say that this has returned to being a nation I could look at with pride, but it has not.  I wonder if it ever will?  Yes, things are better today, at least in the view of the majority of us, but I feel that there is always a threat out there, that disaster is always just a day away.  I’m not sure this nation can ever heal completely.


This concludes mine and Jeff’s project.  We hope that what we’ve done over the past 10 months has helped clarify some of the issues, the candidates’ positions, and the importance of this election.  Just four more days, though the results may not be known for another week, possibly even two.  Thanks for bearing with us, for joining in our conversation, and I hope that we all get our wish next week.

America’s Wake-Up Call — Table of Contents

Discord & Dissension — Table of Contents

♫ The Way It Is ♫

I played this song in April 2019 … and tonight as I was seeking a song … a meaningful song for the strife of the moment … I came across this one.  This is one of those songs that speaks of ‘things’ that are wrong in the world, of injustices.  And today, as never before, there are many such ‘things’ wrong in our world.  So, in my angst as I finish my final post for mine and Jeff’s project, as I read the news, as I have a cup (or two) of wine to try to relax enough to sleep, I replay this song.  I know … or at least I believe … that in 50 years this song will still be as relevant as it was when it was first aired in 1986, and as it is today. 

When I posted this last year, my friends in both Canada and the UK were unable to view the video, so I have changed the video in hopes that they, too, will be able to enjoy Bruce Hornsby and the Rain … er, Range!


Sometimes one of you refers to a song when commenting on my music posts, and a 💡comes on … an AHA! moment, as I am reminded of a song I haven’t heard nor thought of in years.  Such was the case yesterday when Roger commented that yesterday’s song reminded him of this one by Bruce Hornsby and the Range.  Well, I remembered the song, always liked the song, but I thought it was ‘Bruce Hornsby and the Rain’.  I went to check and … my bad … Roger was quite right.  Sigh.

The opening verse recounts a story taking place at a line for welfare that illustrates a divide between the rich and poor. The chorus presents several lines insisting that social ills are “just the way it is”, and repeatedly suggests resigning oneself to them as a fact of life—however, the chorus ends with the author rebuking this attitude by insisting “but don’t you believe them.”

The second verse recounts past social issues from the voice of someone supporting racial segregation. The author responds in a narrative voice, insisting his view that if those who make laws took them into careful consideration they would be convinced that laws enforcing principles like racial segregation are morally wrong. The song reminds the listener that it was at one time argued that racial segregation was “just the way it is”, and suggests that legislation and what the author views as progress on current social issues should be pursued without regard to those who insist “some things will never change.”

The third verse recounts the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as a victory in the civil rights movement, but insists that more is needed. In particular, the verse highlights individual prejudice and employment discrimination as an enduring form of racism. The third chorus suggests that it only feels like “some things will never change” when we wait for social problems to change themselves rather than taking steps ourselves to actively change them.

The song was released in 1986, and here, 33 years later the song still has relevance, for we are still fighting the same battles.

According to Hornsby, who grew up in Virginia …

“My mother came from the New England area, and she was a little more enlightened about racial subjects than a lot of people in the South. So I had a different attitude to a lot of my friends whose parents were more conservative. When I was brought up, the vibe I got of Martin Luther King in my town was that he was a real evil man – just the vibe in the air, that he was terrible. And if you grow up in that environment you can’t help but be affected by it a little bit. Luckily, I came from a family that guarded us against that conservatism, but sure, I grew up in the thick of all that bad feeling.”

Believe it or not, Sean Hannity used an instrumental portion of this song as his show’s theme for many years. Hornsby, a liberal democrat, had vastly different political views, but there was nothing he could do about Hannity using the song as long as royalties were paid.

The Way It Is
Bruce Hornsby and the Range

Standing in line, marking time
Waiting for the welfare dime
‘Cause they can’t buy a job
The man in the silk suit hurries by
As he catches the poor old lady’s eyes
Just for fun he says, “Get a job.”

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them

Said hey, little boy, you can’t go where the others go
‘Cause you don’t look like they do
Said hey, old man, how can you stand to think that way?
Did you really think about it before you made the rules?
He said, son

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah, but don’t you believe them

Yeah

That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is

Well, they passed a law in ’64
To give those who ain’t got a little more
But it only goes so far
Because the law don’t change another’s mind
When all it sees at the hiring time
Is the line on the color bar, no

That’s just the way it is
Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
That’s just the way it is, it is, it is, it is

Songwriters: Bruce Hornsby
The Way It Is lyrics © Zappo Music, Sony Atv Music Publishing France, SONY/ATV TUNES LLC OBO ZAPPO MUSIC

The Pressure Builds.

A couple of days ago, our friend David wrote a piece on his blog, The Buthidars, about our upcoming (in 4 days!!!) election, the confirmation of Amy Barrett to the Supreme Court, and other current issues. Interestingly, his post coincided with the thoughts I was having about asking some of our non-U.S. readers for a guest post regarding their views on our election. Often I find that our readers from Canada, Australia, the UK and EU have a better perspective than we do about our situation. I shall start with David’s post this morning, and invite any and all from outside the U.S. to email me if you are interested in writing a guest post sharing your own views. Thank you, David, for sharing your views, and for allowing me to share them with my readers/friends.

The BUTHIDARS

In Wales we are under a Firebreak Lockdown. That’s new rules on top of the Lockdown I mentioned in my last post. It was set to last 17 days and if the Gods are smiling it should end on November 9th. That of course is going to depend on how bad the Coronavirus is in the areas that were spiking. one of which would appear to be mine. I certainly don’t mind about these rules for the sake of our health, after all I’m high risk in a high risk area and may not survive a bout with this illness. What both surprises me and annoys me in equal measure is the number of people who are happy to walk around without masks, If they want to infect themselves well and good, it’s their choice, but why take a chance on infecting me.

Another little niggle is that what they…

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Trumpism on Full Display in Omaha

This, my friends, is what it takes to be a supporter of Donald Trump.  This is the level of blind ignorance and devotion that the megalomaniac requires of his foolowers (new word, courtesy of David Prosser).  And this is what the United States is turning into.

On The Fence Voters

One of my earliest posts on this blog site wasTrumpism, Explained. In that post I gave my rather long but comprehensive definition of Trumpism:

Definition: Trumpism is a movement made up mostly of willfully ignorant traditionalists whose self-centeredness makes them oblivious to the oppression or neglect of anyone outside themselves and their closest companions and willing to defy historic ethical norms to achieve their desired goals.

Loyal Supporters Abandoned

The Trump re-election rally in Omaha on Tuesday evening, flawlessly illustrates and validates that definition. In case you have not yet heard what occurred there, here’s a report from Newsweek:

Backers of President Donald Trump were left stranded overnight, with several taken to hospitals for hypothermia after an Omaha campaign rally ended in chaos.

Hundreds were bused in to the Eppley Airfield site, leaving their cars in parking lots, but were left wandering up to four miles in…

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I Couldn’t Have Said It Better

This morning’s OpEd by Frank Bruni in the New York Times took the words right out of my mouth.  I think most everyone who reads Filosofa’s Word will be able to relate to his words, will find themselves nodding and saying, “Yes, that’s it exactly!”  His piece won’t change any minds … at this late date, just 5 days before the most consequential election of our lifetime, minds are already made up, votes already cast.  But Bruni gives us food for thought, and that’s all most of us can do.


How Will I Ever Look at America the Same Way Again?

Oct. 29, 2020

bruni-2By Frank Bruni

It’s always assumed that those of us who felt certain of Hillary Clinton’s victory in 2016 were putting too much trust in polls.

I was putting too much trust in Americans.

I’d seen us err. I’d watched us stray. Still I didn’t think that enough of us would indulge a would-be leader as proudly hateful, patently fraudulent and flamboyantly dishonest as Donald Trump.

We had episodes of ugliness, but this? No way. We were better than Trump.

Except, it turned out, we weren’t.

Never mind that the Russians gave him a boost. Or that he lost the popular vote. Some 46 percent of the Americans who cast ballots for president in 2016 picked him, and as he moved into the White House and proceeded to soil it, most of those Americans stood by him solidly enough that Republicans in Congress didn’t dare to cross him and in fact went to great, conscience-immolating lengths to prop him up. These lawmakers weren’t swooning for a demagogue. They were reading the populace.

And it was a populace I didn’t recognize, or at least didn’t want to.

What has Trump’s presidency taken from us? I’m reasonably sure that many Americans feel the same loss that I do, and I’m struggling to assign just one word to it.

Innocence? Optimism? Faith? Go to the place on the Venn diagram where those states of mind overlap. That’s the piece of me now missing when I look at this beloved country of mine.

Trump snuffed out my confidence, flickering but real, that we could go only so low and forgive only so much. With him we went lower — or at least a damningly large percentage of us did. In him we forgave florid cruelty, overt racism, rampant corruption, exultant indecency, the coddling of murderous despots, the alienation of true friends, the alienation of truth itself, the disparagement of invaluable institutions, the degradation of essential democratic traditions.

He played Russian roulette with Americans’ lives. He played Russian roulette with his own aides’ lives. In a sane and civil country, of the kind I long thought I lived in, his favorability ratings would have fallen to negative integers, a mathematical impossibility but a moral imperative. In this one, they never changed all that much.

Polls from mid-October showed that about 44 percent of voters approved of Trump’s job performance — and this was after he’d concealed aspects of his coronavirus infection from the public, shrugged off the larger meaning of it, established the White House as its own superspreader environment and cavalierly marched on.

Forty-four percent. Who in God’s name are we?

I’m not forgetting pre-Trump American history. I’m not erasing hundreds of years of slavery, the internment of Japanese Americans, the many kinds of discrimination that have flourished in my own lifetime, all the elections in which we Americans made stupid choices and all the presidents who did “un-American” things. We’re a grossly imperfect country, our behavior at frequent odds with our ideals.

But for every abomination, I could name a moment of grace. For many of our sins, stabs at atonement. We demonstrated a yearning to correct our mistakes and, I think, a tropism toward goodness. On balance we were open, generous. When I traveled abroad, people from other countries routinely complimented Americans for that. They experienced us as arrogant, but also as special.

Now they just pity us.

How much of this can we pin on Trump? Not as much as we try to. And oh, how we’ve tried. This obsession of the news media and his detractors with every last eccentricity and inanity isn’t just about keeping a complete record, I’ve come to realize. It’s also a deflection, an evasion: If he gets the whole of the stage, then Americans’ complicity and collaboration are shoved into the wings.

And the freakier we make him out to be, the less emblematic he is. The more he becomes a random, isolated event. We emphasized what a vanquishable opponent Hillary Clinton was because that diminished the significance of the vanquishing and the vanquisher. We spoke of a perfect storm of circumstances that led to his election as a way of disowning the weather.

We cheered on Robert Mueller’s investigation not just because it might hold Trump and his wretched accomplices to account but also because it might explain him away, proving that he reached the White House by cheating, not because he was what nearly half of the country decided that they wanted.

We tried to make him a one-and-done one-off. But deep into his presidency, when his execrable character had been fully exposed, his Fox News cheerleaders continued to draw huge audiences for their sycophantic panegyrics.

Trump himself continued to attract big crowds to his rallies, like the one in Greenville, N.C., in July 2019, when he pressed his attack on four Democratic congresswomen of color, including Representative Ilhan Omar, who immigrated from Somalia. Egged on by him, his audience chanted: “Send her back! Send her back!” He stopped speaking to give those words room, and he soaked them in.

Or what about the recent rally in Muskegon, Mich., where he freshly assailed the state’s governor, Gretchen Whitmer, despite the fact that his obsessive denunciations of her had possibly been a factor in an alleged plot by 14 men to kidnap her? “Lock her up!” many of the attendees bellowed, to Trump’s obvious amusement.

Again, how has his approval rating not fallen to negative integers?

I’m not saying that support for him is spun entirely of malice or bias. Keen economic anxiety and profound political estrangement are why many voters turned to him, as my Times colleague Farah Stockman explained especially well in a recent editorial that was set in America’s disheartened heartland. “Even false hope,” she noted, “is a form of hope, perhaps the most ubiquitous kind.”

The headline on the article was “Why They Loved Him.” But why haven’t more of them stopped loving him? And how did so many Americans beyond that group fall so hard for him, thrilling to his recklessness, applauding his divisiveness, indulging his unscrupulousness? He tapped into more cynicism and nihilism than this land of boundless tomorrows was supposed to contain.

He tapped into more conspiratorialism, too. And I do mean “tapped.” Trump didn’t draw out anything that wasn’t already there, burbling beneath the surface.

He didn’t sire white supremacists. He didn’t script the dark fantasies of QAnon. He didn’t create all the Americans who rebelled against protective masks and mocked those who wore them, a selfish mind-set that helps explain our tragic lot. It just flourished under him.

And it will almost certainly survive him. The foul spirit of these past five years — I’m including his hateful campaign — has been both pervasive and strangely proud. That’s what makes it different. That’s what makes it so chilling.

I could be overreacting. Maybe, just ahead, there will be moments of grace, enough of them to redeem us. Maybe I’ll look up on or after Nov. 3 and see that Biden has won North Carolina, has won Michigan, has won every closely contested state and the presidency in a landslide. Maybe I’ll have to eat my words.

Please, my fellow Americans, feed me my words. I’d relish that meal.

♫ One Tin Soldier ♫

Last night, I was searching through old emails from my friend Jerry, aka rawgod, for a specific email he asked me to look for from some years ago, when I came across an email from him requesting this song, One Tin Soldier.  I couldn’t remember if I had played it for him or not — turns out that I had, in March 2019.  But, as I listened to the song, read the lyrics, I realized that this is the perfect song for what this nation is dealing with today!  And at that moment, I knew I wanted to play it again, to hopefully remind us to be human, above all else.


Rarely do any of you request a song, and I don’t actively solicit requests, though I always give consideration if someone mentions a song or an artist they particularly like.  Tonight, I had a request and, as I like the song and think the song speaks volumes, has meaning for us all, even today some 50 years after the song was released, I am offering this one tonight.  Most of my readers from across the pond may have never heard this song, for I understand that it never made it big outside of Canada and the U.S., but give it a listen … you might like it!

One Tin Soldier is an anti-war song, released in 1969 by Canadian pop group The Original Caste.  The song charted each year from 1969 to 1974 by various artists and on various charts in the United States and Canada. However, it did not chart outside North America.

Written by Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, One Tin Soldier tells the story of two neighboring tribes, the warlike Valley People and the peaceful Mountain Kingdom which possesses a great treasure buried under a stone. The Valley People demand the treasure. The Mountain People respond that they will share it with “their brothers”, but the Valley People invade and slaughter the Mountain People. On overturning the stone, they find nothing except the words “Peace On Earth” inscribed beneath it.

The song’s message, that human greed and violence is futile, is as meaningful, as imperative as it was when the song was first written.  Unless I miss my guess, it is a lesson that on the whole we still will not have learned when the human species finally leaves the earth forever.

Thank you, rawgod, for an excellent suggestion!

One Tin Soldier
The Original Caste

One tin soldier
Listen people to a story
That was written long ago,
’bout a kingdom on a mountain
And the valley folks below.
On the mountain was a treasure
Hidden deep beneath a stone,
And the valley people swore
They’d have it for their very own.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat a friend.
Do it in the name of heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won’t be any trumpets blowing,
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.

So the people of the valley
Sent a message up the hill,
Asking for the buried treasure
Tons of gold for which they’d kill.
Came the answer from the kingdom,
With our brothers we will share,
All the riches of the mountain,
All the treasure buried there.

Now the valley cried with anger,
Mount your horses, draw your swords
And they killed the mountain people,
So they won their just rewards
Now they stood before the treasure
On the mountain dark and red
Turned the stone and looked beneath it
Peace on earth, was all it said.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor,
Go ahead and cheat and friend,
Do it in the name of heaven,
You can justify it in the end.
There won’t be any trumpets blowing
Come the judgment day,
On the bloody morning after
One tin soldier rides away.

Songwriters: Brian Potter / Dennis Earle Lambert
One Tin Soldier lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Character Matters? Not to This GOP

The majority of people in this country, including republicans, felt the confirmation and swearing in of Amy Barrett was improper and inappropriate, that a nomination should have waited until after January 20th when we have a new (please, please, please …) president. The entire confirmation process was rushed through, and Barrett is not at all qualified for the position, never even having tried a case! She can never fill the shoes of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg … perhaps nobody can, but Barrett damn sure cannot. Our friend Jeff has put into words what I think the majority of us are feeling. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Back during the Clinton years, all you heard from the Republican Party was how important character was for a president of the United States. Now, of course, you’ll never hear that word in any shape or form from the current Republican occupants in Congress. Gee, I wonder why?

It’s a trend that’s been going on for a while now. Embracing the current president as they’ve done for nearly four years shows that the party could give a rat’s you know what about character. They parked themselves squarely in Donald Trump’s orbit, rarely a whisper or a peep of discontent, other than the occasional “privately, many Senators are appalled at the president’s statements.” Privately?

Cowards – every damn one of them.

And while we’re speaking about character, how about we address a certain newly confirmed Supreme Court Justice by the name of Amy Comey Barrett? Can we please talk about her…

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Voting Rights — CHAOS!

This is our only chance for the next four years to decide who will be the president of this nation, and the Republican Party and its representatives are attempting to curtail our constitutional right to cast our vote.  This year, because of a pandemic that is once again raging out of control, many of us cannot or will not spend an hour or more in line inside a building waiting to vote, nor should we need to.  A large number of us, myself included, requested mail-in ballots and will be voting by mail, or by dropping our ballots off in person at a designated drop box.

However, the United States Postal Service, now run by a man, Louis DeJoy, who has no experience, whose only qualification for the job was the large sums of money he has donated to Donald Trump, is so inefficient that it took ten days for me to receive a letter that was mailed from 15 miles away!  That could be a problem if someone mailed a ballot on, say, October 30th, or even today!  The girls and I took our ballots to the drop box at the Board of Elections, but some people, especially senior citizens, may not have that luxury.

There are numerous lawsuits in many states to expand voting rights, to allow ballots received after November 3rd as long as they were postmarked on or before that date.  Republicans are, naturally, opposed to anything that expands voting rights.  The good news is that people have been voting, despite the obstacles thrown in their way by the not-so-grand old party, and this morning I read that 51% of the number of people who voted in 2016 have already cast their votes this year!  That is truly inspiring … I think it quite possible that in spite of the GOP’s best efforts, we will have record turnout this year.

Here are some of the latest legal developments related to voting rights cases per the New York Times – some positive, others not so much:

Pennsylvania: The state’s highest court has ruled that election officials should count mailed ballots that arrive up to three days after Election Day. Pennsylvania Republicans are trying to get the Supreme Court to reverse the order, so that only ballots received by Election Day will count.

North Carolina: Republicans and the Trump campaign have asked the Supreme Court to block the state’s board of elections from extending the deadline to receive mail ballots. The board has said ballots can arrive until Nov. 12, as long as they were mailed by Election Day.

Wisconsin: The five Republican-appointed justices on the Supreme Court sided on Monday with Republican officials in Wisconsin, ruling that ballots must arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day to count. (A lower-court ruling would have allowed state officials to count any mailed ballots postmarked by Election Day and received up to six days later.) In response, the state’s Democratic Party is urging voters to return mail ballots in person — to a drop box or clerk’s office — rather than mailing them.

Nevada: The Trump campaign has sued to stop the counting of absentee ballots in the Las Vegas area, evidently hoping to challenge the signatures on many ballots. Last night, the campaign and Nevada Republican Party filed a separate lawsuit, seeking detailed information on the vote-counting process.

Texas: The state’s top court yesterday upheld a policy announced by Greg Abbott, the Republican governor, which limits each county to a single drop-off box for mailed ballots. The state’s largest county — Harris, which includes Houston — is home to 4.7 million people.

Michigan: A conservative judge yesterday overturned an order by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, and ruled that people could carry unconcealed guns at polling places on Election Day.

In many of these cases, Republicans have argued that changing voting rules because of the pandemic could lead to fraud (a claim that’s largely baseless) and that allowing ballots to be counted after Election Day leads to confusion and chaos.

Democrats have argued that protecting people’s right to vote, during a national crisis, should be top priority. Democrats have also pointed out that some Republicans have changed their position on the counting of mailed ballots: When late-arriving ballots seemed likely to help George W. Bush in Florida in 2000, Republicans argued that the state should count them.

The Michigan decision is appalling.  Why the hell does anybody need to take a gun with them to vote???  This is possibly the most ridiculous judicial decision I have ever heard and can only lead to trouble.  In my book, anybody being allowed to take a gun into the polling place constitutes potential voter intimidation.  Now, given that the majority of gun-nuts in this country are republicans … does anybody else see a problem here?

If at all possible, my friends, take your ballots to an official drop box, or don your masks and hand sanitizer and vote in person, for I simply do not trust the USPS to get the ballots delivered on time.

♫ Everybody Plays The Fool ♫

First released in 1972, this song was written by J.R. Bailey, Rudy Clark and Ken Williams.  It was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category Best R&B Song at the 1973 ceremony.

The first recording of the song to reach the Top 40 in the United States was by the R&B group The Main Ingredient, a trio consisting at the time of Cuba Gooding Sr., Tony Silvester and Luther Simmons, Jr. Their version of Everybody Plays the Fool rose to #3 in the U.S.

The Main Ingredient was a Harlem group that began as the Poets.  This song was actually written for country singer Charlie Pride, but according to Cuba Gooding …

“He listened to it and decided it wasn’t country enough for him to sing. He said, ‘I’ll never be able to sell this as a country song. It’s more like a pop song.’  So we gave it to our arranger, put an orchestra behind it, and recorded it ourselves. But we never liked it — we never believed it was going to be a hit record. We wanted to be more like the Temptations or the Four Tops, and that’s what the rest our album was about.

They sent us on a European tour for two weeks, and when we came back, ‘Everybody Plays the Fool’ was the hottest record on pop radio.”

The record surprised them by becoming the group’s first big hit. But oddly enough, the group, who until that time had been firmly entrenched as an R&B group, at first couldn’t get airplay for it on soul stations.

“Black stations wouldn’t even play it. They said it wasn’t R&B. RCA signed me to a three-year contract as the lead singer for the group, everybody was rolling in dough because of the song, but the black stations wouldn’t play it.”

Eventually, that would change, of course, and the song sold more than a million copies, was awarded a gold record, and was nominated for a Grammy as R&B song of the year.

Aaron Neville recorded a cover of this song in 1991 which also hit the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, reaching #8 in the fall of that year, and it spent 20 weeks on the chart. This was Neville’s third Top 10 hit on the pop chart, following Tell It Like It Is and his duet with Linda Ronstadt, Don’t Know Much.

Since I like both versions almost equally well, I offer up both for your listening pleasure!

Everybody Plays The Fool
The Main Ingredient

Okay, so your heart is broken
You sit around mopin’
Cryin’ and cryin’
You say you’re even thinkin’ about dyin’
Well, before you do anything rash, dig this

Everybody plays the fool sometime
There’s no exception to the rule
Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel
I ain’t lyin’, everybody plays the fool
Falling in love is such an easy thing to do
And there’s no guarantee that the one you love
Is gonna love you
Oh-oh-oh, lovin’ eyes they cannot see
A certain person could never be
Love runs deeper than any ocean
You can cloud your mind with emotion
Everybody plays the fool, sometime
There’s no exception to the rule
Listen, baby, it may be factual, may be cruel
I want to tell ya that
Everybody plays the fool

How can you help it when the music starts to play
And your ability to reason is swept away
Oh-oh-oh, heaven on earth is all you see
You’re out of touch with reality
And now you cry but when you do
Next time around someone cries for you

Everybody plays the fool, sometime
They use your heart like a tool
Listen, baby, they never tell you so in school
I want to say it again
Everybody plays the fool
Listen to me, baby

Everybody plays the fool, sometime
(No exception) no exception to the rule
It may be factual, may be cruel, sometime
But everybody plays the fool
Listen, listen, baby
Everybody plays the fool, sometime
They use your heart like a tool

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Kenneth Williams / Ralph Bailey / Rudy Clark
Everybody Plays The Fool (Re-Recorded / Remastered) lyrics © BMG Rights Management, Carlin America Inc

Good People Doing Good Things — Woody & Luna

Just over a year ago, August 14, 2019, I wrote a ‘good people’ post that included a story about Woody Faircloth who, along with his then-7-year-old daughter, Luna, started a non-profit,  RV4CampfireFamily, to purchase RVs for people whose homes had been destroyed by the devastating Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed 14,000 homes, leaving over 50,000 people homeless.  At the time I wrote that post, Mr. Faircloth and his organization had provided RVs for temporary housing to 65 families, and ultimately provided RVs for 80 families.woody-luna-fairclothAs we all know, this year has brought in a new batch of devastating wildfires on the West Coast, and Woody Faircloth is back on the job.

As a wildfire tore through Berry Creek, California, last month, it destroyed the homes of six of the community’s seven volunteer firefighters along with the department’s fire station.  Nonetheless, the firefighters kept on doing their job, rescuing people, trying to put out fires and save homes even after having lost their own.US-CALIFORNIA-FIREBerry Creek is only about 14 miles from Paradise, where last year’s Camp Fire was centered, and the Berry Creek fire department had helped with that one too, so they were already known to Woody Faircloth.  Faircloth described the fire chief, Reed Rankin, as “a big bear of a man. He’s always got a cigar in his mouth, and he loves his community.”  Chief Rankin was among the ones whose homes had been destroyed.  Losing his home forced Rankin to sleep in his truck. He says he lost more than $100,000 worth of tools for his drilling business.reed-rankinFaircloth and Luna sourced a brand-new RV for him and delivered it personally. When they arrived, Faircloth says, the chief had nothing left but the clothes he was wearing.  The RV, which Rankin will share with another one of his firefighters, has several pop-outs and a living room. Upon seeing the RV, Rankin told Faircloth, “It’s shocking; it’s amazing.” While thanking him, the fire chief added, “It’s a home, somewhere to call home for now. … Winter is coming on here in another month and a half, and at least we have somewhere to be.”

I am unable to embed the video that accompanies this story, but you can find it on the CNN Heroes page.

Despite all he lost, Rankin says he is not leaving Berry Creek …

“I’m definitely going to somehow rebuild. Hopefully, FEMA will help us out. And I’m just gonna do the best we can, but I’m not leaving.”

Katherine Molohon is another Berry Creek firefighter now living in a mobile home provided by Faircloth’s organization. She learned that she lost her home while on the job.

“We were driving through, trying to get people evacuated, drove by my house — I said, ‘Bye house’ and kept going.”

The fire forced Molohon and her partner to live in a shed on her mother’s property before EmergencyRV.org provided shelter.  After seeing the RV that would become their temporary home, Molohon described it as “so wonderful. It’s more than words can say. This is just awesome.”

Between last year’s fires and this year’s, though, Woody and Luna have not been idle, but have expanded their mission.  They responded to the coronavirus pandemic by partnering with a Facebook group called RVs 4 MDs to provide mobile homes to frontline medical workers so they could self-isolate while continuing to fight the pandemic.  They changed the name of their non-profit to EmergencyRV in order to reflect the broader scope of the project.

They are fielding requests from people who lost homes in the storms that hit the Gulf Coast as well as the Iowa derecho. They are also working to find RVs for firefighters in Oregon.  You’ve just got to love this man and his daughter … they are doing so much to help so many …

Faircloth describes his nonprofit as a win-win for the people donating RVs and those receiving them.

“People have RVs that may be used once or twice a year, or maybe they don’t use them anymore at all. When they donate them to us, we can immediately deploy them to people that need them most. … It’s super powerful and just an amazing gift from the donors.”

Now, the main ‘good people’ here are obviously Woody Faircloth and his daughter Luna, but I think the firefighters who are risking life and limb to battle these horrendous fires round the clock every year, and the selfless first responders who are working tirelessly to save lives, and those who donate to the cause deserve a shout out as well.

Thank you, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and every other person who is taking risks to help the rest of us.  There are no words adequate to express our gratitude for all that you do without expectation of receiving anything in return.  Our hearts go out to you, and you have reminded us that there are people … lots of people … in this world who care.