Saturday Surprise — Guest Post by Colette!!!

Happy Saturday Surprise, Friends!!!  Last week, I asked (shamelessly begged) readers to volunteer to do a guest post this week, as several of the suggestions when I first started this feature included making it a more interactive feature.  Friend Colette generously offered to write a true and funny story for our enjoyment today.  It is a win-win … I am getting a bit of a break, and we are all getting a great story!!!  Many thanks, Colette, for your contribution!


‘Animal Magic’

A visit to Cat Hell 😾

The ad was innocent: ‘Mad Cat Lady,’ requires house sitter for one dog, one indoor cat and approximately nineteen outdoor cats and a few strays. And the email to my husband and me asked if we were available? The house looked nice enough on photos and although we didn’t know the location, it was only about 40 minute drive from Malaga Airport. We said ‘yes.’

We got stopped by La Guardia just outside the nearest village and the two officers demanded all our papers and passports and then grilled us for 20 minutes about where we lived in Spain (so they could charge us with incorrect documentation) and eventually asked where we were going? As soon as we mentioned the destination, they decided that we were indeed, as claimed, British tourists. They had rolled their eyes at the mention of the address…Mad Cat lady also ran a B&B. But it was not a successful one…it was remote (more so than advertised) and a long way from any tourist area.

Arriving twenty minutes late, and just a little harried, our host opened up the gates for us and then closed them behind us.

As my husband got out of the car, three cats immediately jumped in and started rummaging through our stuff, causing him to duck back in again to root them out. His bum greeted our host, Mad Cat Lady.

A muscular Spanish Water dog bounded up as I exited the car, and growled. Looking at me with wild eyes, he jumped up and caught my free bare arm in his mouth, and chomped away excitedly on his new toy (me). I pushed him away with a hand up “Off!” My command had no effect…he just launched himself at my other bare arm. Our host said, (laughing nervously), “he’ll be alright in a minute, he just gets over excited.” My arms sprouted capillaries of minuscule blood flow. I frowned “I’d rather you called him off now!”

I should have known at this point that we were entering into pet sitting hell, but I have a real soft spot for all animals and so I smiled at Mad Cat Lady.

“I can’t,” she said apologetically. “I’ve had three different trainers, and no one can do anything with Badger.” Her eyes sparkled, “but he was rescued and he is such a charmer…he speaks you know?” Mad Cat Lady had a wistful adoration in her eyes, as her monster dog chewed his way through what was left of my skin.

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Badger

I later found out that Badger’s conversations (usually initiated by him) occurred when he would jump on to the table where one sat to drink tea. He would stare at you face to face, growling and generally showing his superiority as he tried to make you ‘blink first. Then, mission accomplished, he’d lay down and proceed to chew his paws, his wagging tail threatening to remove your teacup from the table! The Mad Cat Lady always laughed adoringly!

My husband soon banned Badger from our separate  accommodation in a Casita, after Badger had upset all the contents on a coffee table and smashed my husband’s phone to the floor, breaking the back off it. Mad Cat Lady had said, “but Badger must have company,” so now I had to stay in the main house on my own for much of the day with Badger.

It was only day one, and my husband didn’t want anything more to do with the ‘pets.’ He couldn’t abide going into the house. Only 29 days to go then!

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Clary

Badger was only the tip of a big iceberg…Clary, was the owners tiny black house cat. Tiny, yes, pretty? No. She was slightly cross-eyed, covered in scabs and looked suspiciously like a vampire with a temperament that went with the image. The rest of the cats were feral…and untrained, but they didn’t stay outside at all! Nineteen feral cats came and went in the house that always had an open door. They did exactly as they pleased twenty four hours a day. The house was a nightmare.

Clary_2.JPGEverything inside the house had the strange mixed odour of  cat pee and something resembling cockroach spray. Diatomaceous earth filled the air when ever I sat on the couch, or walked over the living room carpet (supposedly controlling ticks and fleas). Mad Cat Lady lived holistically, organically, and without any apparent need to clean. Cats roamed in dark corners and glared at me with glowing green eyes before raising hackles and backing into cupboards.

It was an interesting mix of The Adams Family meets The Fockers!

The worst room was without question, the kitchen. I almost gagged at the awful odour when I walked in to a small room full of mewling cats to learn from our host, what I needed to know about feeding her brood who now sat atop of the counters, shelves, and the wooden table in the centre of the kitchen. The table legs looked in danger of collapse as they had become favourite scratching posts and were perilously worn away.

Badger’s food was easy (except that I was warned he might refuse to eat), the rest of the gang had a complicated schedule. I had to know each and every one of the cats by name, so that I didn’t get their diet mixed up. Most of them ate two different special meals (as well as dry food that was put down in the kitchen, an ensuite bathroom and a disgusting laundry room filled with ants and pillows infused with the dainty aroma of cat pee and hair balls).

The refrigerator and freezer were filled with containers full of liquidized raw liver (a gut-wrenching smell), gazillions of prawns, and a range of weird meaty bits for Badger.IMG_20171015_140037_628.jpgI was given a menu for each kitty and strict instructions on how to feed “this one liver, and a bit of packet meat n’ gray, and that one prawns only, and stop that one coming back for seconds (this particular Ginger, was identical to her two sisters and a brother looked very similar – so impossible to know if I’d fed her or a sibling). This little girl, ‘Blondie,’ needs extras, as of course does Clary. And the latest addition, six-month old Dora, will eat everything but liver and will usually throw it up again. Be careful of George (the blonde son of an old Siamese called Maisie) he will steal prawns,”…I learned quickly that he has sharp claws indeed. He was a beautiful cat though.

The instructions went on for an hour as we tracked down each cat to feed them ….”Throw Dek a prawn… he won’t come near enough to take it. Cuckoo will have two prawns, don’t give him the heads…he’ll choke. Fez has double helpings of liver, and Maisy has one plus half a packet of moist cat food…” I scribbled notes furiously on a piece of paper next to each name and tried (in vain) to memorise the appearance of each feline menace who either tried to snatch the food from me or run like hell for cover. It was a bit like trying to pet piranha fish! And just as frantic. ‘Chaos’ doesn’t really describe it!IMG_20171015_140230_930.jpgAs I placed two prawns (shelled and cut up) in front of a fiesty male Siamese called ‘Majesty,’ I noticed a ragged ear and a firmly attached tick. ‘Majesty’ indeed. He looked like an ancient warrior king of a feline dominion; ‘Planet of the Cats.’

We drove Mad Cat Lady, and her sister, to the airport in her car (ours was much too small). I inadvertently sat on a warm wet patch… fresh cat pee. I squirmed! The whole car stank. On our return, my husband opened the five doors on her vehicle, vacuumed out all the filth, removed everything loose and then turned a water hose on and blasted all the upholstery, the floor, the ceiling…everything…. It really was that bad! It took a week to dry out (windows cracked open so that the cats couldn’t get in).

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Badger & Majesty

Our month turned into a steady routine of me doing all the pet work and my husband doing the gardening. He cleared drainpipes, dug out clogged outside shower trays and repaired broken stuff. We both cleaned vigorously. He transformed the laundry room while I bleached the kitchen into a sanitised condition (only to have an anonymous cat redecorate the kitchen counters when I wasn’t looking)!Badger on table.jpgBadger soon got used to the new routine. A steady use of training treats (never leave home without them), stopped him attacking and biting my feet on stairwells (a particularly aggressive act), and aided in the abolition of ‘growling’ conversations. He began to behave normally and trotted after me happily as I made my rounds of the feral brood. I became quite fond of him. I could not touch his feet though…he would really go for me. However, I was able to brush him (something that Mad Cat Lady said he didn’t like). And he ate his meals. When Mad Cat Lady’s ex showed up to make sure that we hadn’t run off with the family silver, he was amazed that Badger stuck to my side and wouldn’t engage in the ‘growling’ conversation of old nor jump up at him. In fact, Badger ignored him altogether. This man was Badger’s rescuer??? But Badger came and put his head in my lap and then lay at my feet ignoring his former buddy!

Badger’s walks were quite short by necessity. We were positioned between two farms, both with aggressive packs of dogs. The mangy dogs in each pack outnumbered Badger at least 6 to one. He would have been torn to pieces (as might I). However, there was enough space for a short 20 minute constitutional, and yes, more feeding of other ferals along the way. One of them, a shy grey Tabby, was pregnant. She would come when I called,  and then gobble the food madly so that she could run when the other, territorial moggies showed up! Mad Cat Lady went through at least two 20kg sacks of dry kibble a week.IMG_20171015_135453_305.jpgI got used to days filled with removing ticks, coaxing, feeding and playing with the brood. They were not the healthiest animals though, and would eat all wildlife that moved (despite the spoiling by Mad Cat Lady). I came across lots of dismembered bodies everywhere. One morning, I found Dora with a huge gash in her side…claws had made four neat holes where blood oozed. I patched her up and put her on a clean blanket to sleep. I guessed that one of the Gingers had caught her…they were always chasing her. She was a quick getaway, but obviously one of them had outwitted her and taught her a lesson. I nursed her back to health and she started to attach herself to me… I felt bad that I would leave and it wouldn’t be fair, but it was unavoidable. She needed to heal up, and I had to protect her from the Gingers. She became my shadow. She and a few of the others would be waiting by the Casita door first thing. Badger would be waiting too on the other side of the terrace gate and he no longer jumped or growled. He would sit happily waiting for his morning treat and then follow me and all the others into the kitchen for breakfast.

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Dora

When Mad Cat Lady came home, all the old behaviours came back in the brood (including, alas Badger) except for one. Tiny Dora had lost her heart to me. She ate properly now, no longer threw up everywhere and as we packed our car, she tried to get in with us. As we drove through the open gates, that one lone little cat watched us go and tried to follow. I felt such a lump in my throat as we watched her figure fade in the rear view mirror.

Cat Hell was gone…or was it Cat Heaven? I felt a real pang at having to leave tiny Dora. Poor little bullied girl! 😿

Brought to you by …

  • Badger (Spanish Water Dog)
  • Dora (a tiny calico)
  • Clary (a tiny black vampire)
  • Ant & Dek (wild Tiger cats)
  • Fez (black with a white feather)
  • Maisie (long hair Siamese)
  • Majesty (Medium hair Siamese)
  • George (Blond mix Siamese)

FAMILY …

  • Cuckoo (Large Black)
  • Sharon, Sherri, Sharma, Sugar (The Four Gingers) SIBLINGS
  • Blonde (Blonde, Ginger mix)
  • Big Tom (Large Tabby)
  • Little Tom (Small Tabby)
  • Milo (Ginger and White)
  • Micky (Black & White)
  • Monkey (Black & White)

BROTHERS

  • Grey Ghost (Light Grey Tabby)

Many thanks, Colette, for sharing this story!  And congratulations for surviving you Cat Hell or Heaven … a little bit of both, I think!

I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend doing fun things!  Happy Saturday!!!

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Rachel Maddow Connects Dots Between President’s Travel Ban On Chad And Tragedy In Niger

When Trump seemed to completely ignore the deaths of the four Green Berets killed in Niger on 04 October, it seemed strange. He wasn’t ranting about the terrorists who had killed the soldiers, but instead was on the golf course. Not a tweet, not a news conference, just silence. Something was fishy … but what? Then reporters began asking why he had not contacted the families of the slain soldiers, and people began asking questions. We now have the answers. Friend Gronda has put together a post that clarifies what, exactly, happened and why, and I urge you … nay, I beg you … to read this. It will make your blood boil, but you need to know … the world needs to know … that the blood of those four soldiers is on Donald Trump’s hands. Many thanks, Gronda, for helping us to understand how the dots connect.

Gronda Morin

Rachel Maddow on her October 19. 2017, MSNBC TV show connected the dots regarding the October 4, 2017 tragedy in Niger where 4 Army green beret soldiers were ambushed and killed; how the president’s travel ban on Chad exposed these soldiers to harm; and then why the republican President Donald J. Trump avoided any discussion of what happened in Niger until confronted about this subject by a reporter at the 10/16/17 Rose Garden press conference.

It had been reported 7 days ago that Chad military forces had pulled out of Niger after the republican President Donald Trump instituted his travel ban which included the African country of Chad. It turns out that the Chad soldiers had been keeping the terrorist group, Boko Haram and Islamic extremists like ISIS at bay in Niger.

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Before the president added Chad to his travel ban, he had been warned against this move by…

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Two Former Presidents … Voices of Reason

When your ‘enemies’ say things about you, say that you are no good, a liar and a cheat, and call you names, you rather expect it and most of us simply laugh it off.  I have acquired many new monikers during the last 28 months, since that day in June 2015 when I fell off a stool laughing because Donald Trump actually had the gall to throw his hat into the ring of presidential contenders.  But those new names don’t phase me, for they are people who disagree with me and have declared me their enemy.  A few threats have set my teeth on edge, but those are few and far between.  But when your allies and friends start calling you names and saying things about you, then perhaps it is time to take a long, hard look at yourself and ask yourself some tough questions.

The GOP is not exactly a tight-knit, cohesive organization these days, and more and more we are hearing members of Congress and other party officials speak out against Donald Trump.  The latest in this series was former President George W. Bush who yesterday gave an unexpected and rather eloquent speech at a forum for the George W. Bush Institute in New York. If he had said no more than a handful of words, it would have spoken volumes, simply because he is a fellow republican and a former president.

Like Senator John McCain’s speech on Monday evening, Bush did not specifically mention Trump, but his meaning was obvious to all with half a mind.  I will not replicate the entire speech, but merely a few of the most relevant snippets.

  • And we know that when we lose sight of our ideals, it is not democracy that has failed. It is the failure of those charged with preserving and protecting democracy.

  • Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

  • We have seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty. At times, it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together. Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization. (Think, “Lyin’ Ted,” “Little Marco,” “Liddle” Bob Corker, “Crooked Hillary,” “Lock her up,” to name but a few)

  • We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade — forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.

  • Our country must show resolve and resilience in the face of external attacks on our democracy. And that begins with confronting a new era of cyber threats.

  • According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media platforms. Ultimately, this assault won’t succeed. But foreign aggressions — including cyberattacks, disinformation and financial influence — should not be downplayed or tolerated. This is a clear case where the strength of our democracy begins at home. We must secure our electoral infrastructure and protect our electoral system from subversion.

  • This means that people of every race, religion, and ethnicity can be fully and equally American. It means that bigotry or white supremacy in any form is blasphemy against the American creed.

  • We need a renewed emphasis on civic learning in schools. And our young people need positive role models. Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children. The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.

The ones in bold are the ones I find the most relevant, especially the last two.  You can read the entire transcript if you wish.

And, though much lower keyed, President Obama also made some statements this week, while stumping for Democratic gubernatorial candidates in New Jersey and Virginia:

  • What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries. Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That has folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st century, not the 19th century. Come on!

  • You can’t take this election or any election for granted. I don’t know if you all noticed that.

For two former presidents to speak out against the policies, actions and behaviours of the sitting president is … unprecedented (pun intended – needed to lighten things up a bit).  That they are doing so speaks loudly that they are concerned for the fate of our democracy and the path that the nation is on.  I concur and I appreciate them using their large, yet elegant and respectful voices to make these points.

A Sort of Despotism

Our friend and fellow-blogger Hugh Curtler has provided a short excerpt from Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, long considered one of the most influential and relevant books of the 19th century. This is a short piece, but even though it was published 182 years ago. Please take a moment to read it and think about it. Many thanks, dear Hugh, for such a timely piece and implied permission to re-blog!

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In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States for nine months ostensibly to examine our prison system, but in fact to examine the American political system. He later wrote Democracy In America, a most remarkable book that very few read any more (sad to say). In a chapter of that book titled “What Sort of Despotism Democratic Nations Have to Fear” he provided us with an analysis that is as timely today as it was when he wrote it, proving once again that the classics are always relevant:

“I seek to trace the novel features under which despotism may appear in the world. The first thing that strikes the observer is an innumerable multitude of men all equal and alike, incessantly endeavoring to procure the petty and paltry pleasures with which they glut their lives. Each of them, living apart, is a stranger to the fate of the…

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The Better Man …

It seems to me that it is highly unbecoming, unprofessional and undignified behaviour for a leader of a nation to threaten his political antagonists.  But then, ‘professional’ and ‘dignified’ are not words that I have ever heard or considered applied to Donald Trump.  Earlier, I posted John McCain’s speech upon acceptance of the Liberty Medal on Monday evening.  The day after McCain’s speech, Donald Trump had this to say:

“Yeah, well, I hear it. And people have to be careful because at some point I fight back. I’m being very nice. I’m being very, very nice. But at some point, I fight back, and it won’t be pretty.”

This, my friends, is how the man sitting in the White House, the highest and most revered position in the United States government, speaks of a member of his own party, a man who is a war hero and who just received a very great honour from the National Constitution Center for his “courage and conviction”.  Courage and conviction … also words nobody would associate with Donald Trump.

McCain’s response to Trump’s threat was a simple, “I’ve faced far greater challenges than this.” Indeed he has.  McCain’s plane was shot down and he was held in a prisoner of war camp in Vietnam for five-and-a-half years.  Severely injured, tortured, beaten and denied medical care, McCain was offered repatriation and could have returned home sooner, but he refused as long as other POWs remained in the camp.  Definitely a greater challenge than Trump’s threat.  And now, McCain is battling terminal brain cancer, the same type that ultimately took the life of Senator Ted Kennedy in 2009.  Another challenge greater than any words Trump might utter.

Though McCain did not mention Donald Trump, he did not need to when he said …

 “To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of Earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

He is saying what I have been saying for this entire year … that Trump and his ‘policies’ are destroying the reputation of this nation.  There is no rebuttal for this, for truer words have never been spoken.

Trump began his hostilities toward McCain shortly after beginning his presidential campaign in 2015, saying that in his opinion …

“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Donald Trump evaded military service by receiving five draft deferments.

I have neither the time, space, nor inclination to list all the things that set these men apart from each other, but suffice it to say that, apart from the fact that both are republicans and both are elected officials, they are as different as night and day. For the man sitting in the Oval Office (when he isn’t on the golf course) to threaten a highly respected and respectable U.S. Senator because that Senator spoke the truth about the direction of this nation, is an abomination.

I would ask those who helped put Donald Trump into the office he holds today to look at these two men side-by-side, to compare their backgrounds, their political ideologies, their speech, their professionalism and how they treat others.  Just look at the differences, then go look in the mirror … look yourself in the eye and tell yourself who is the better man.

A Most Deserving Recipient — Senator John McCain

On Monday night, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Senator John McCain received the Liberty Medal, and I cannot think of a more deserving person for this honour.  The Liberty Medal is awarded annually by the National Constitution Center to men and women of courage and conviction who have strived to secure the blessings of liberty to people the world over. The Medal’s roster of recipients includes many of the men, women, and organizations that have shaped and guided the world through the past two decades, including Nelson Mandela, Sandra Day O’Connor, Kofi Annan, Shimon Peres, and Colin Powell. Last year’s medal was awarded, appropriately, to U.S. Representative John Lewis for his “courageous dedication to civil rights”.

Former Vice-President Joe Biden, Chairman of the National Constitution Center’s Board of Trustees, awarded the medal.  McCain and Biden go back a few decades or more, and the banter between the two was easy …

McCain: Thank you, Joe, my old, dear friend, for those mostly undeserved kind words. Vice President Biden and I have known each other for a lot of years now, more than forty, if you’re counting. We knew each other back when we were young and handsome and smarter than everyone else but were too modest to say so. Joe was already a senator, and I was the Navy’s liaison to the Senate. My duties included escorting senate delegations on overseas trips, and in that capacity, I supervised the disposition of the delegation’s luggage, which could require – now and again – when no one of lower rank was available for the job – that I carry someone worthy’s bag. Once or twice that worthy turned out to be the young senator from Delaware.  I’ve resented it ever since.

Biden: The son of a gun never carried my bags. He was supposed to carry my bags; he never carried my bags.

Biden-McCain

And then came McCain’s acceptance speech. I initially planned to provide only some excerpts, but as I read and re-read the speech, I found I could not choose, for the speech is exceptional … humble, meaningful, and important in its entirety. And so, my apologies for the length, but I think is well worth reading and pondering:

“Joe has heard me joke about that before. I hope he has heard, too, my profession of gratitude for his friendship these many years. It has meant a lot to me. We served in the Senate together for over twenty years, during some eventful times, as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening.

We didn’t always agree on the issues. We often argued – sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other’s patriotism and the sincerity of each other’s convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in. We believed in our mutual responsibility to help make the place work and to cooperate in finding solutions to our country’s problems. We believed in our country and in our country’s indispensability to international peace and stability and to the progress of humanity. And through it all, whether we argued or agreed, Joe was good company. Thank you, old friend, for your company and your service to America.

Thank you, too, to the National Constitution Center, and everyone associated with it for this award. Thank you for that video, and for the all too generous compliments paid to me this evening. I’m aware of the prestigious company the Liberty Medal places me in. I’m humbled by it, and I’ll try my best not to prove too unworthy of it.

Some years ago, I was present at an event where an earlier Liberty Medal recipient spoke about America’s values and the sacrifices made for them. It was 1991, and I was attending the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The World War II veteran, estimable patriot and good man, President George H.W. Bush, gave a moving speech at the USS Arizona memorial. I remember it very well. His voice was thick with emotion as he neared the end of his address. I imagine he was thinking not only of the brave Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941, but of the friends he had served with and lost in the Pacific where he had been the Navy’s youngest aviator.

‘Look at the water here, clear and quiet …’ he directed, ‘One day, in what now seems another lifetime, it wrapped its arms around the finest sons any nation could ever have, and it carried them to a better world.’

He could barely get out the last line, ‘May God bless them, and may God bless America, the most wondrous land on earth.’

The most wondrous land on earth, indeed. I’ve had the good fortune to spend sixty years in service to this wondrous land. It has not been perfect service, to be sure, and there were probably times when the country might have benefited from a little less of my help. But I’ve tried to deserve the privilege as best I can, and I’ve been repaid a thousand times over with adventures, with good company, and with the satisfaction of serving something more important than myself, of being a bit player in the extraordinary story of America. And I am so very grateful.

What a privilege it is to serve this big, boisterous, brawling, intemperate, striving, daring, beautiful, bountiful, brave, magnificent country. With all our flaws, all our mistakes, with all the frailties of human nature as much on display as our virtues, with all the rancor and anger of our politics, we are blessed.

We are living in the land of the free, the land where anything is possible, the land of the immigrant’s dream, the land with the storied past forgotten in the rush to the imagined future, the land that repairs and reinvents itself, the land where a person can escape the consequences of a self-centered youth and know the satisfaction of sacrificing for an ideal, the land where you can go from aimless rebellion to a noble cause, and from the bottom of your class to your party’s nomination for president.

We are blessed, and we have been a blessing to humanity in turn. The international order we helped build from the ashes of world war, and that we defend to this day, has liberated more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. This wondrous land has shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world. And as we did so, we made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.

We live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. We are the custodians of those ideals at home, and their champion abroad. We have done great good in the world. That leadership has had its costs, but we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did. We have a moral obligation to continue in our just cause, and we would bring more than shame on ourselves if we don’t. We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.

I am the luckiest guy on earth. I have served America’s cause – the cause of our security and the security of our friends, the cause of freedom and equal justice – all my adult life. I haven’t always served it well. I haven’t even always appreciated what I was serving. But among the few compensations of old age is the acuity of hindsight. I see now that I was part of something important that drew me along in its wake even when I was diverted by other interests. I was, knowingly or not, along for the ride as America made the future better than the past.

And I have enjoyed it, every single day of it, the good ones and the not so good ones. I’ve been inspired by the service of better patriots than me. I’ve seen Americans make sacrifices for our country and her causes and for people who were strangers to them but for our common humanity, sacrifices that were much harder than the service asked of me. And I’ve seen the good they have done, the lives they freed from tyranny and injustice, the hope they encouraged, the dreams they made achievable.

May God bless them. May God bless America, and give us the strength and wisdom, the generosity and compassion, to do our duty for this wondrous land, and for the world that counts on us. With all its suffering and dangers, the world still looks to the example and leadership of America to become, another, better place. What greater cause could anyone ever serve.

Thank you again for this honor. I’ll treasure it.”

One does not have to always agree with Senator McCain’s ideas to respect him as a patriot, a member of Congress, and most importantly, a human being.  I say a big “Thank You” to Senator John McCain.

*Donald Trump threatened to “fight back” against McCain for this speech.  I will have more on that later today.

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I Am A Failed Writer!

I thought I had, if not a talent for writing, at least moderate skill such that I was able to communicate with words and make my thoughts, my meaning, clear.  I have failed in that, and am thinking that if I am going to continue to write, I must take some classes, study harder, learn the tools of my trade better.  I am a failure … a complete and total failure … as a writer.

Let me ask you, dear friends and readers … have I not made myself clear about my feelings toward the MITWH, Donald Trump?  Have I somehow been too milquetoast in my daily diatribe (yes, I realize there is an oxymoron in there)? Do any of you think, based on my posts from the past two years, that I actually like, support or approve of Trump?  Where oh where have I failed?

Yes, yes … I am rambling and must get straight to the point.  The point, then, is that Donald Trump thinks I am a fan of his!  He has even begun emailing me!  I was tempted to delete my entire email box, burn its contents and close that account … an account that I have had for more than 25 years!  But, there were some special and important emails in there, so I could not do that.  Here is just one sample:

Friend,

No matter what the Fake News Media reports, we’re working to advance our agenda every day.

In the first 9 months alone, we’ve delivered on our promises and have proven we’re ready to fight for what we believe is right for the future of this great country.

We did it together in 2016, and there’s no doubt in my mind we have the momentum to keep it going. But I need to know you’re committed to our movement, Friend.

This is your last chance to update your record before our end-of-quarter deadline, and I’m hoping you’ll do so by renewing your Sustaining Membership:

Please contribute $250, $100, $75, $50, $35, or $10 to renew your Sustaining Membership for the 2017 year.

We cannot allow the Fake News Media and obstructionist Democrats to flood the airwaves and mislead the American people, Friend, and they are our strongest opponent yet.

So please, be sure to renew your 2017 Sustaining Membership before the September 30 deadline.

Thank you,

trump-sign_1468880899

Donald J. Trump

P.S. – I’ve requested a list of every person who steps up and renews their 2017 Sustaining Membership before the September 30 deadline. I hope to see your name on the list.

See what I mean?  He called me ‘friend’.  How could I possibly have miscommunicated my scorn, my wrath, my utter disdain for him to the extent that he considers me a ‘friend’?  I am a failure!  And … how did I get on the “nice” list anyway?  I want to be on the “naughty” list!  And does anybody else detect an implied threat in that very last line?

But then, it got even worse!  Look what else he sent me …

trump-coin.jpgWhy on earth would anybody want a Donald Trump coin???  Why, oh why, would they think that I, of all people, would want to own such a monstrosity?  The only reason I can think of is that I have failed to use my words to clarify my position. And can you imagine if I took their advice and gave this as a holiday gift to my friends???  I would not only have no friends left, but would likely be run out of town on a rail!

train.jpgSigh.  I must sign up today for some classes on writing, to learn to express myself better.  Please, dear friends, help me out and let me know what is missing in my snark that has enabled Trump to consider me a “friend”.  I need all the help I can get!

Good People Doing Good Things … Little Things Mean A Lot

I started today’s good people post about a single person, Mama Rosie, who is doing wonderful things.  But, she is doing so many wonderful things, and having such an impact, that I quickly realized I would not be able to finish it in time, so I switched gears (another symptom of my bouncy mind) and decided to write about multiple good people doing good things.  I went in search, and I found these …


I had never heard of the band Midnight Oil, but of course daughter Chris had … she knows every band that has existed since the beginning of time (and refers to my music as “bad taste”).  Anyway, the band Midnight Oil, an Australian band dating back to the 1970s,  is giving a concert in Fremantle, Australia on 29 October.  According to the band’s lead singer, Peter Garrett, every single cent will go to support marine protection organizations, charities that work in the areas of reef protection and climate change.

peter-garrett

Peter Garrett

The band has long identified with environmental causes, and Garrett himself was on the international board of Greenpeace for two years from 1993-1995.

One of the organizations the environmentally-minded band will be supporting will be the Australian Marine Conservation Society. Started in 1965, the independent charity works to create large marine national parks and sanctuaries, support sustainable fishing practices and protect threatened ocean life such as whales, sharks and seals. The organization also works to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system (344,400 square kilometres), which is severely threatened by environmental pressures and climate change.

Midnight Oil typically earns up to $210,000 per concert, so their contribution is nothing to sneeze at!  Great job, guys …. and thank you!


Joseph Badame and his wife, Phyliss, were survivalists who stocked up on everything: dry food, generators, fuel, survival books, thousands of rolls of toilet paper — all to keep them alive in the event of a disaster or some other crisis. When the crisis came, however, all the food they had stockpiled would be of no use.  In 2005, Phyliss had a massive stroke that left her paralyzed, and she died after another stroke in 2013.  Joseph, then nearly 70 years of age, had quit his job years before to take care of his wife, and had eight years’ worth of medical bills. He managed for a few years, but this year he defaulted on his mortgage and could not pay his taxes, and in August received a foreclosure notice from the bank.

Joseph planned to move to a small apartment that he could afford with only his Social Security, but what to do with all this food stored in the basement of the house?  Sometimes, I think, fate steps in and brings people together for a reason.  Last month, Joseph met Victoria Barber, a local food truck owner who just happened to be taking donations to help people in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Joseph donated $100 in cash, but more importantly … he took Ms. Barber to see the food in his basement and told her he would like her to send it to the people of Puerto Rico, who needed it more than him.

Barber and her husband spent the next week raising money to transport the barrels. Badame helped, too, and wore a red T-shirt: “#PRSTRONG” it said, with a heart below it. Members of the local police department and a high school soccer team helped carry the supplies out of the basement, and the barrels were repacked so that each contained a variety of dried goods.

joseph-badameBadame said it was his own life that was saved. “I’m tired, old, depressed, feeling like I’m a failure regarding the survival thing,” he said. Then Barber “came along, gave me a shot of adrenaline. I couldn’t believe it.”

Sometimes things just happen that way.  Hats off to Joseph Badame and Victoria Barber whose ships just happened to pass one day, and together they made a difference to the good people in Puerto Rico.


jonathon drouinPro athletes have been much in the news of late.  Until recently, I thought of most pro-athletes as overpaid, greedy people, but I am learning that many of them have big hearts and generous spirits. Not a hockey fan, I had never heard of the Montreal Canadians player, Jonathan Drouin.  Drouin has partnered with the Canadiens Children’s Foundation to host less fortunate children at a Bell Centre suite for the team’s games. He is making a personal annual contribution of $165,000 that will go toward a suite that will be used to provide underprivileged children and their families an opportunity to attend games they would not otherwise be able to. And just last month, Drouin donated $500,000 to the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM), and a pledge to help raise $5 million for the hospital.

This is one athlete with a heart of gold!


It’s just a little thing, really … it didn’t cost anything except a small bit of time.  But sometimes those little things mean so much.  An unnamed 92-year-old man went to his local Bank of America in Montebello, California, to withdraw some cash from his account.  Unfortunately, his state-issued I.D. had expired and the bank teller refused to honour his request.  Perhaps confused, and definitely upset when the employees would not help him, he was told to leave, but he refused, for he needed to withdraw his cash.  So, the bank employees called the police (nice folks, eh?)  Luckily for the man, the officer who arrived on the scene was Officer Robert Josett, a man with a good heart.  Officer Josett took his time to take the man to the nearest DMV (Division of Motor Vehicles) and helped him renew his identification card.  Officer Josett then took the man back to the bank and made sure he was able to withdraw his money.  As I said, a small thing, but we can understand how much it meant to the man.  Thumbs up to one caring officer!

Josett and man


Stephen Davies was born without a lower left arm.  He spent his first decades on earth without the aid of a prosthesis, and finally, as an adult, decided to invest in one.  He was disappointed in the available designs … he wanted something ‘cool’, but they were all the same … functional, yet boring.  He posted about his experience online, where it was seen by one Drew Murray, a volunteer for a group called e-NABLE that was doing some innovative things using 3D printing to create artificial hands.  Drew offered to make a functioning arm for Stephen.  Stephen was so impressed with the results that he talked Drew into a partnership, and together they formed Team UnLimbited, an organization that makes prostheses for children free of charge.

While I do not understand this technology of using a 3D printer to create prosthetic limbs, I do understand innovation, character, and generosity, and these two men are rich in all three of those!  Just look at some of the fun ones they have made …

“We’ve done Iron Man designs, Harry Potter, Lego and Spider-Man. The key is making something the child actually wants to wear and feels is cool enough to show their friends.”

Two great men, a wonderful organization, and a bunch of happy kids!


 

And I end with a story about the City of San Diego in California.  In March, 2016, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced a “Housing Our Heroes” initiative to provide secure rental housing for 1,000 homeless veterans.  Last week, they exceeded that goal and have provided housing for 1,007 previously homeless veterans. But the city is not stopping there.  According to CEO Rick Gentry, they will be expanding the program to include other homeless people and hope to house another 1,000 by the end of the year.

For incentives, landlords received $500 for the first units they rented to a homeless veteran and $250 for each additional unit. They also received an average of $1,500 in security deposits and $100 in utility assistance per household.

San DiegoJimmie Robinson, a landlord who rents out several houses, took in seven homeless veterans in the Housing Our Heroes initiative. Robinson said the incentives were “eye-catching,” but were not the greatest motive for taking in homeless veterans.

“When you get to meet them, the satisfaction of helping people turn their lives around was more important. When you see somebody rebuilding their lives, that’s what it’s become for me, more than than the incentives.”

Wonderful job, San Diego!  I hope we see more cities taking this initiative soon.  That there are people living on the streets in this nation of plenty is unthinkable.


These are just short stories about people doing mostly small things, but every one of those things counts, each one of these people are showing compassion for their fellow man, and they are making a difference.  My hat is off to each of these fine people!

doffing-hat

Thoughts on “Value Voters”

Recently I have heard the term “value voters” bandied about.  I did not really think much about it until this past Saturday when Steve Bannon spoke harshly at a “Value Voters Summit”, and then I began to wonder … what, exactly, are value voters?  The short answer I found is …

“One who participates in elections and makes decisions based on issues such as religion, abortion, capital punishment and same-sex marriage.”

In other words, one who places their own personal morals above the good of the nation, the security of the world, and the important issues that should be the business of government. Banning same-sex marriage is, to the value voter, more important than protecting the environment, the air we breathe and the food we eat.  Banning abortion takes precedence over international security.  And prioritizing one religion over another ranks higher than human rights.

And the Values Voter Summit at which Bannon spoke on Saturday is …

“An annual political conference held in Washington, D.C. for American social conservative activists and elected officials from across the United States. The Values Voter Summit is hosted by the Family Research Council. There are numerous conservative organizations sponsoring or otherwise participating in the conference. In the most recent summit, 38 organizations and an audience of 2,000 people participated. The summit is usually held in September or October of each year.”

The all-star cast of previous summits have included right-wing commentators and conspiracy theorists Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter.  All three of these have received Filosofa’s Idiot of the Week award … need I say more?

This year, Steve Bannon, Trump’s friend, ‘former’ chief strategist, and advisor, spoke at the summit and ‘declared war’ against the GOP at the ballot box in next year’s midterm elections.

“This is not my war. This is our war. And y’all didn’t start it. The establishment started it. But I will tell you one thing — you all are going to finish it.”

Bannon’s two main targets were Senators Bob Corker and Mitch McConnell.  Corker, you may remember, spoke out last week, saying that republican lawmakers were privately concerned about Trump’s ability to lead the country, and later tweeting, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift …”  Bannon said the incumbents in Congress must now “come to a stick [microphone] and condemn Senator Corker.”

Since leaving the White House in August, Bannon has returned to his post as chairman of Breitbart and made it his express mission to purge the Republican Party in the 2018 primary challenges to sitting members of Congress. His efforts are reportedly being backed by conservative hedge-fund mogul Robert Mercer, a real piece of work in his own right.

White supremacist and former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka also spoke at the summit …

“The left has no idea how much more damage we can do to them as private citizens, as people unfettered. 2018 will be the crucial year. This is the year. Steve has declared war on the RINO class as have I and we must tell them we have had enough.”

Not one to pass up an opportunity to be in the spotlight, Trump also spoke at the summit, the first sitting president ever to do so.

“We know that it’s the family and the church — not government officials — who know best how to create strong and loving communities. We don’t worship government, we worship God.” (Somebody shoot me now, please?)

Trump continued to toot his horn and condemn Congress for failing to rubber-stamp his own agenda, but nothing that we haven’t all heard before, so I won’t waste mine or your time repeating it ad nauseam.  What I would focus on, however, is the ideology of the ‘value voters’ who attended this conference.

This was a group, at least some of whom believe that God placed Donald Trump in the White House.  My snarky self simply cannot resist asking the question, do they believe, then, that Vladimir Putin is God? This is a group who place their own religious values far above truth and integrity in government, environmental protection, global security, human rights, justice, international relations, crime prevention, healthcare, the economy, or any of a number of other serious issues facing our nation today.  These are people, evangelical Christians, as they refer to themselves, who believe this nation should have a state religion:  Christianity.  They have no room in their hearts for those who are Muslim, Jewish, atheist or agnostic.  Many have no room in their hearts, even for those who are Hispanic or African-American.  I am not speaking of Christianity as a whole, but this relatively small group of ‘value voters’ who choose to push their religion upon us all, to the detriment and exclusion of all else.

Bannon, Gorka and Trump knew their audience, knew what would sell.  But they also spoke to a much larger audience:  We The People.  This writer found their message ridiculous, but also chilling, for if they have their way in November 2018, a large portion of Congress will be their hand-picked choices from the radical-right.  Soldiers for Bannon’s army in his self-declared “war” on the 64% of us who do not support Trump and his ideology – an ideology that is the opposite of “government of the people, by the people, for the people”.  That is the government that Abraham Lincoln proclaimed “shall not perish from the earth.”  If Trump, Bannon and the value voters have their way, I fear it will perish after all.

Lincoln

A Fairy Tale Even Grimmer Than Grimm’s

Once upon a time there was a president, a leader, and he tried to do the right thing for the people who had elected him.  Some of the people did not like him and made up stories about his religion, his birthplace, and anything else they could think of.  They said they hated him, and they rallied against everything he wanted to do to try to help the people.  But he was a kind and benevolent leader, well-reasoned and being possessed of an even temperament, and he did not respond to their taunts.  Eventually, as must happen at least every eight years, he was replaced by another, a man possessed of a sharp, untruthful tongue, a man who thought only of himself and cared not one whit for the people who had elected him.  When the first leader spoke to the people at an event called a ‘news conference’, he used the opportunity to present information about things that were important to the people, to the nation.  He informed, he sometimes joked briefly with the reporters, and he always tried to explain what he and his team were doing and why it was important.  But when ‘the other’ came along, he rarely spoke at these news conferences, but he held rallies to tell the people lies about how great he was. And when he did speak to the people, it was ugly-speak.  He spoke in an ugly language, criticized most everyone, threatened, bullied and spoke falsely about what a great job he was doing.  And the people, most of the people, cried and asked themselves, “What have we done?” And they did not live happily ever after …

The ’other’, of course, is none other than Donald Trump.  Last evening, he gave a press conference whereby he bashed Hillary Clinton for her election loss, criticized former President Obama, praised himself, and went to great lengths to assure every one of his “outstanding” relationship with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell was at Trump’s side, looking rather like a recalcitrant child or an obedient house pet. Trump’s speech was relatively short, a lot of tooting his own horn, but the more interesting parts came with the rather lengthier Q&A session afterward. Let us take a look at a few of the ‘highlights’ … as always, my snarky remarkys are in blue italics.


Trump: What Mitch will tell you is that maybe, with the exception of a few — and that is a very small few — I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate, and with the people in Congress.  (This came totally unsolicited, as a response to a completely unrelated question.)


Reporter: Why haven’t we heard anything from you so far about the Soldiers that were killed in Niger?  And what do you have to say about that?

Trump: I’ve written them personal letters. They’ve been sent, or they’re going out tonight, but they were written during the weekend. I will, at some point during the period of time, call the parents and the families — because I have done that, traditionally. I felt very, very badly about that. I always feel badly. It’s the toughest — the toughest calls I have to make are the calls where this happens, soldiers are killed. It’s a very difficult thing. Now, it gets to a point where, you know, you make four or five of them in one day — it’s a very, very tough day. For me, that’s by far the toughest. (Aye, pobrecito!!!) So, the traditional way — if you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn’t make calls, a lot of them didn’t make calls. I like to call when it’s appropriate, when I think I’m able to do it. They have made the ultimate sacrifice. So, generally, I would say that I like to call. I’m going to be calling them. I want a little time to pass. I’m going to be calling them. I have — as you know, since I’ve been President, I have. But in addition, I actually wrote letters individually to the soldiers we’re talking about, and they’re going to be going out either today or tomorrow. (Multiple points here.  1) The Green Berets killed in Niger were killed on October 4th, fully 12 days before this speech.  2) It is highly unlikely that Trump wrote any letters, but more likely that someone on his staff hastily wrote them, if they have even been written, once Trump came under criticism.  Trump spent the weekend at his golf course. 3) President Obama not only called the families of slain soldiers, but in some cases even visited them.)


Reporter: Mr. President, in 2012 you tweeted that “Obama’s complaints about Republicans stopping his agenda are BS,” in your words, “since he had full control for two years.”  You wrote, “He can never take responsibility.”  But today, you’ve said about some of the challenges right now in Congress and in Washington, “I’m not going to blame myself, I’ll be honest. They’re not getting the job done.”  So what’s different then than now?  (Oooh … good one!)

Trump: Well, let me just explain what’s different. We have nominations pending right now, and we have 182 approved — if you look at this:  the number that he had approved was 65 percent and 70 percent, and we have 39 percent. They’re holding up every single nomination. (Did he answer the question and I missed it?)

Reporter: How about the agenda broadly?

Trump: Schumer and the group are holding up every single nomination. They are obstructing. They’re doing — I’m telling you, they’re not good politicians, but they’re very good at obstruction. (But I thought Schumer and Pelosi were his new, best friends?)


Reporter: If it would help you — if it would help Special Counsel Robert Mueller get to the end of the Russia investigation, would you –

Trump: Well, I’d like to see it end. Look, the whole Russian thing was an excuse –

Reporter: Would you –

Trump: Excuse me. Excuse me. The whole Russia thing was an excuse for the Democrats losing the election, and it turns out to be just one excuse. I mean, today Hillary blamed Nigel Farage. That one came out of nowhere. So that was just an excuse for the Democrats losing an election that, frankly, they have a big advantage in the Electoral College. They should always be able to win in the Electoral College, but they were unable to do it. So there has been absolutely no collusion. It’s been stated that they have no collusion. They ought to get to the end of it because I think the American public is sick of it. (No, Mr. Trump, the American public is not sick of it. The American public wants answers and it is clear to any who can see, hear and think, that you and your team have, in fact, colluded with Russia.)


Reporter: Mr. President, in the wake of an avalanche of allegations made against Harvey Weinstein, your campaign is being subpoenaed for any documents relating to sexual harassment allegations made against you. Do you have a response to that?

Trump: All I can say is it’s totally fake news. It’s just fake. It’s fake. It’s made-up stuff, and it’s disgraceful what happens. But that’s happens in the world of politics. (There has, in fact, been a subpoena for those documents.)


Reporter: Do you maintain that the federal response [to Puerto Rico] has been outstanding?

Trump: Oh, I think — well, that’s according to the Clinton administration’s head of FEMA, it’s been outstanding. Puerto Rico is very tough because of the fact it’s an island. (REALLY???) But it’s also tough because, as you know, it was in very poor shape before the hurricanes ever hit. Their electrical grid was destroyed before the hurricanes got there. It was in very bad shape, was not working, was in bankruptcy, owed $9 billion. And then on top of that, the hurricane came. Now, you’re going to have to build a whole new electrical plant system. We’re not talking about generators. We moved — Puerto Rico now has more generators, I believe, than any place in the world. There are generators all over the place. The fact is, their electrical system was in horrible shape before and even worse shape after. So we are working right now — as you know, relief funds were just approved and are in the process of being approved by Congress. And that includes Texas, by the way. That includes Florida. And it also includes Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, et cetera. But it was in really bad shape before. We have done — I will say this, we have done – (No snarky remarky required here … he does it to himself)


Reporter: Mr. President, in an interview earlier today, Hillary Clinton said that she did not believe that players taking a knee in the NFL was about disrespecting the flag — at complete odds with the way that you have referred to this. You fired back in a tweet saying that you hope that she runs again in 2020. Why –

Trump: Oh, I hope Hillary runs. Is she going to run?  I hope. Hillary, please run again.

Reporter: So she’s at odds with you over whether or not this is disrespecting the flag. Is she right or is she wrong?

Trump: I think she’s wrong. Look, when they take a knee — there’s plenty of time to do knees and there’s plenty of time to do lots of other things. But when you take a knee – But when you take a knee — well, that’s why she lost the election. Honestly, it’s that thinking — that is the reason she lost the election. (Who knew?)


There is much more, but I have already far exceeded my self-imposed word limit.  And, I have run out of patience for tonight … there is only so much of this one can take.  You can read the full transcript or watch the full video (1 hour 17 minutes), if you are a masochist and really want to do so.

And thus ends this chapter in the fairy tale book, but we are a long way from the end of the book.  Let us hope that there is a Prince Charming to come rescue us … perhaps his name is Robert Mueller?