Open Letter To Congress …

Dear Congressperson …

Yesterday was a day that will live on in history.  In more than 150 nations, over 4 million people (and counting) turned out in thousands of cities and towns around the globe to raise awareness and to demand action from governments.  Their words, “You had a future and so should we”, and “We vote next”, should have opened your eyes, but somehow, I sense that you are wearing blinders and did not see their banners, and have ears stuffed with cotton and did not hear their chants.

My purpose in writing this letter is to put you on notice that you are marching to the beat of the wrong drummer.  You are putting your own interests, and those of such large corporations as the fossil fuel, logging, and auto industries ahead of the well-being of not only your constituents, but all life on the planet.  Those aforementioned industries, as well as the gun lobby, may put money into your re-election campaigns, but they are not the ones who pay your salary, and they are not the majority whose votes will determine your future on November 3rd, 2020.

Make no mistake … there is a genuine climate emergency happening right under your very nose.  You know it’s true … all you have to do is listen to the scientists who, frankly, are much better educated in the subject than you.  All you have to do is check the weather for the past nine months to see that 2019 has been the hottest year on record.  Ever.  You have no excuse for saying that climate change isn’t real, that it isn’t caused by human activities.  All you have to do is read how many bees and birds have been lost in the past decade.  How many species are either extinct or bordering on extinction.

Rather than act to preserve life on earth, you sit back on your thumbs and allow a madman in the Oval Office to repeal environmental regulations that were never enough but were at least a start.  You allow him to make our air much dirtier, our water less safe, and our entire world a much uglier place.  And all for what?  How much benefit do you think you’ll get from those few hundred thousand dollars that are being added to your coffers when your children cannot even go outside to play because the air is not breathable?

Of the 192 nations on the globe, 190 are actively trying to change the way they do things in order to fix what the industrialized nations have broken – our environment.  All except the United States and Brazil are at least making an effort.  How does that make you feel?  Do you feel proud?  Believe me when I say that the majority of people in this nation look at you and see a person who has sold us downriver to line his own pockets.

Now, let me give you something to ponder on as you lie in bed tonight trying to sleep.  If every other nation is putting their efforts into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in order to save lives, and we are not, how long do you think it will be before they collectively take action against the U.S.?  Think about it this way … you live in a neighborhood where everyone takes good care of their property … lawns are neatly manicured, sidewalks are swept, no trash or litter is lying around.  But, there is one family who just doesn’t take care at all of their property.  There is trash all over their yard, and every time the wind blows, their trash is blown into your yard and every other.  How long before you and your neighbors take action against this one family?  Not long, I’m betting.

Whether you like it or not, we live in an age of globalization. Every nation is in some form or fashion dependent on the others.  Technology has made it so, and there is no turning back.  There are at least a few nations that have the ability, should they choose to use it, to shut down the U.S. power grid today … tomorrow … or the next day.  I hear you saying that we have the technology to stop such an attack, but do we really?  Congressman … we couldn’t stop Russia from hacking the 2016 election, so how great do you really think our security systems are?  I’m guessing not all that great.

The U.S. Constitution provided a system of ‘checks and balances’ with the intention of keeping any one branch of government from gaining so much power that they would pose a danger to the democratic principles of this nation.  Those checks and balances, however, only work when everybody does their job, when Congress actively provides oversight of the executive branch, the president.  YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOB!!!  You are taking a salary that millions of people work their asses off every day to provide you, and in return you are giving us nothing!

Protecting and repairing the environment is the single most important issue facing this nation and the world today, and you are playing Russian Roulette with it, with our lives.  Frankly, your ridiculous crypto currency, your pet projects, even the economy … none of them matter one whit if we don’t address the climate crisis and NOW.  Not next year, or a decade from now … TODAY!

As a citizen and taxpayer, I am determined to do everything in my power, little though that may be, to make the public aware of just how little you are doing, how little regard you have for our lives, in hopes that you will be replaced with someone who actually cares more for life than profit next year.  I find much of this entire Congress to be a sorry lot indeed, especially those of you in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and the NRA.  You allow the person whose fat arse is sitting in the Oval Office to bully you, and you cower under his wrath.  At what cost?  The cost of all life on earth.

Be afraid, Congressman … be very afraid, for those of us who care more about life than profit are the majority and we are energized, we are sick and damn tired of paying you to further your own interests instead of looking after ours.

Global Climate Strike Is Today!

Today is The Day.  Thousands of people, young and old, have taken to the streets to make their message heard.  The message?  SAVE OUR PLANET! 

climate-1In Melbourne, Australia, 100,000 protested in what was the largest climate action in Australia’s history.  Banners in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, ranged from serious to humorous. One read, “Climate Emergency Now.” Another said, “This planet is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend.” In Mumbai, children in oversize raincoats marched in the rain. Thousands turned out in Warsaw, the capital of coal-reliant Poland.climate-3Roughly 100,000 demonstrators showed around the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, holding signs reading: “Stop the Global Pyromania,” “Short-Haul Flights Only for Insects,” and “Make the World Greta Again.” Across Britain, there were large protests from Brighton to Edinburgh. The turnout in London especially large, with organizers estimating more than 100,000 participants.climate-2In the U.S., largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita in the world, and the country whose government is doing the least of any to help stop the devastation brought about by climate change, protests are planned in every city.  As I write this, it is too early yet to know how many people took the day off school and work to make their voices heard, but I believe it will be many and their voices will be heard loud and clear.cliimate-4Possibly the biggest ‘mover and shaker’ in the area of addressing climate change is a 16-year-old young woman from Sweden about whom I’ve written a number of times before, Greta Thunberg.  It was Greta who inspired the Fridays for Future movement — kids who have been skipping school every Friday to demand more aggressive steps from world leaders.climate-5Today, I share with you this video by Greta and British writer and environmentalist, George Monbiot.  Please take a few minutes to watch … I promise it will be worth your time!

 

♫ Nightshift ♫

This song, released in 1985, is a tribute to singers Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, who both died in 1984. Gaye was a Motown star known for love songs like Let’s Get It On and Sexual Healing. Wilson was an R&B singer known for his stirring performances and hits like Lonely Teardrops. Wilson was 49 when he died; Gaye was 44. Both are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The songwriter Franne Golde was brought in to help with the lyrics. She had recently seen the 1982 movie Night Shift (starring Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton; directed by Ron Howard), which gave her the idea for the title.  This is the Commodores’ only hit since Lionel Richie left the band in 1982. J.D. Nicholas, a former backup singer for Diana Ross, was brought in to replace Richie.  When this song was performed on Motown Returns to the Apollo in the early ’80s, more verses were added to honor other Motown legends who had passed on.

Nightshift
Commodores

Marvin, he was a friend of mine
And he could sing a song
His heart in every line
Marvin sang of the joy and pain
He opened up our minds
And I still can hear him say
Aw talk to me so you can see
What’s going on
Say you will sing your songs
Forevermore (evermore)

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right
On the nightshift
Oh you found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

You found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Jackie (Jackie), hey what’you doing now
It seems like yesterday
When we were working out
Jackie (Jackie, oh) you set
The world on fire
You came and gifted us
Your love it lifted us
Higher and higher
Keep it up and
We’ll be there
At your side
Oh say you will sing
Your songs forevermore (evermore)

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right
On the nightshift
Oh you found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Gonna be some sweet sounds
Coming down on the nightshift
I bet you’re singing proud
Oh I bet you’ll pull a crowd
Gonna be a long night
It’s gonna be all right
On the nightshift
Oh you found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Gonna miss your sweet voice
That soulful voice
On the nightshift
We all remember you
Ooh the songs are coming through
At the end of a long day
It’s gonna be okay
On the nightshift
You found another home
I know you’re not alone
On the nightshift

Songwriters: Franne Golde / Dennis Lambert / Walter Orange
Nightshift – Single Version lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group, Reservoir Media Management Inc, BMG Rights Management

Da Snippets, Dey Be Snarky

Puff … puff … I don’t know about you guys … puff … pant … but I’m tired.  Tired of the non-stop ‘breaking news’ updates, about half of which are “pbth … who cares?”, but the other half of which are foot-stomping, growling, jaw-dropping episodes in the ongoing saga of “Fool on the Hill”.  Please … somebody … anybody … rescue me and carry me off to a desert island where nobody has ever heard the name “Trump”!  I’m tired of all the time being snarky!  I’m tired of having my blood pressure go through the ceiling before I’m even out of bed in the morning!  I’m tired of … I’m just tired.  Sigh.  Meanwhile, though, there are more things you guys need to know about, so … Filosofa will now pick herself up from the floor, dry her eyes, and … snark on.snarky-4


Nothing to see here, folks …

You all remember when Mike Pence visited Ireland earlier this month, right?  And, he could have stayed in Dublin, the city where his meetings were to be held, but instead, he traveled (at our expense, lest anyone forget) to Doonbeg, some 180 miles away (one way), in order to stay at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel.  Why?  Because Trump had ‘suggested’ it and because Mike Pence has not the cojones to stand up to Trump.  The price?

Doonbeg is in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland, nearly a four-hour drive from most of Pence’s scheduled meetings in Dublin. According to an analysis by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pence’s stay cost taxpayers $599,454.36 in limousine service alone.  I have no idea, and cannot find information about how much the hotel bill for Pence, his wife, and his Secret Service entourage was, but the starting rate there for a single room is $228, so … he and Karen no doubt slept and ate well there.

Ol’ Mikey justified it all, though …

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says the president receives a salary while in office but “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”  Before taking office, Trump promised he would step away from his business while in office. Instead, however, he has kept his stake in his companies. So expenditures of public funds like Pence’s stay at Doonbeg directly line Trump’s pockets.

Not only that, but Pence has made more than 20 such visits to Trump properties since taking office. So has Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has made 16 visits to Trump properties.  According to Senator Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee …

“Reports now claim that at least 24 of the 32 individuals who have served in the President’s Cabinet have patronized Trump properties, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. — another property owned by the President.”

But guess what?  Trump’s republican “guardian angels” are trying to block the investigation by the House Oversight Committee, calling it a “partisan attack”.  According to a letter sent to committee chairman Elijah Cummings by Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, both members of the ignoble House “Freedom” Caucus …

“Although you coordinated your attack with Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, you failed to consult with any Republican Members before demanding voluminous information from four separate entities – none of which bore responsibility for the lodging and accommodations in Ireland. We can only assume that these letters were the result of a rushed process to capitalize on news reporting about the Ireland travel, rather than responsible and deliberative oversight.”

Yep … nothing to see here, folks … only millions, perhaps billions of your taxpayer dollars being filtered directly into Trump’s coffers … move along now.


But there is some good news …


Somebody in the Pentagon has some sense …

Last month, the Pentagon authorized about 20 miles of fencing, lighting and other border infrastructure along the southern border that would have used $2.5 billion in funds redirected from a counter-drug fund.  But on Monday, the Department of Defense announced that it would not be able to cover the costs of the project after all.  Initially, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that it would likely be able to afford the projects using the counter-drug funds, but the Army Corps ultimately advised the department that the funds would not cover the project, prompting its withdrawal on September 13th.

The projects were a part of Trump’s plan to divert Pentagon funds to build the wall he so needs to appease his base, even though said wall would do absolutely nothing to resolve the problem of immigration, would cause irreparable damage to the land and wildlife, and deprive people of their land.  It is merely an ego trip for Trump.  No word, that I can find, of Trump’s reaction to this news.


No more AR-15s?  Er … not quite

U.S. firearms manufacturer Colt announced yesterday that it will stop production of rifles for the civilian market — including the AR-15, a weapon infamous for its popularity among the country’s mass shooters.  Their stated reason?  That the market is saturated, that there are already more of their rifles on the market than people can buy.

Why is Filosofa such an untrusting soul?  Why do I not for a single minute believe them?  Because it is Colt, because they are the makers of firearms, their livelihood is dependent on people wanting to kill other people, and that hasn’t slowed down one whit in recent years.  So, what do I think (just in case anybody cares)?

I think that in light of the fact that the AR-15s have been receiving much publicity, having been used in several mass shootings recently, including Newtown, Orlando, Parkland, Aurora, Las Vegas, and Dayton, they are getting out before they get hit with lawsuits.

A bit of background here. In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which provides immunity in both state and federal court from civil liability for licensed manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and product liability actions.  So, gun manufacturers and sellers have had free reign with no possibility of being held accountable for damage caused by their product.  But this year, democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, which would allow civil cases to go forward against irresponsible actors in state and federal courts, just as they would if they involved any other product.

Now, we all know that the bill might pass in the House, but not likely in the Senate, and even if by some rare alignment of the stars it passes in the Senate, the Idiot-in-Chief would veto it.  However, there is a good possibility that in 16 months, there will be a democratic majority in the Senate, and a democrat sitting in the Oval Office, under which circumstances, it is probable that this bill, or a similar one will pass into law.  It is my belief that Colt sees the handwriting on the wall and is getting out while they can.  I could be wrong, and likely we will never know for sure if that is their reason.

So, is this good news?  Meh … yes and no.  Other arms manufacturers continue to produce the AR-15 and other assault rifles, including Palmetto State Armory and Smith and Wesson.  The better news is that companies like Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have discontinued sales of these killing machines and their ammunition.  The even better news will be when and if the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act passes into law.  And the best news yet would be a total and permanent ban on all assault-style weapons outside the military and law enforcement.  Some say it’ll never happen … I think it might, but it will take time.


And now, I return you to seek cheerier blogs than mine!

Only in America

It’s September, and you know what that means!  Shorter days, cooler temperatures, the leaves on the trees starting to turn from green to vibrant gold, purple and red.  Pumpkins and apples, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and … oh yes, those big yellow buses once again rumbling down the street – back to school! school-bus.pngYou won’t see a back-to-school ad like this in France, Germany, or the UK.  You won’t even see an ad like this in Syria or Afghanistan.  Only in America would you would ever see an advertisement like this one.

That was a Public Service Announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Raw, jaw-dropping, disturbing?  Yeah, it was meant to be.  Only in America.  What a claim to fame, eh?

This morning, I watched the neighborhood kids walking down the street, backpacks slung over their shoulders, heading to the corner to await the big yellow bus.  I was thinking, as I watched, that I hope they all make it home safe and sound today.  Only in America.

We do everything possible to make sure our kids are safe from the day they are born.  We spend hundreds of dollars on the best car seat to protect them in case of a crash. We spend even more on monitoring systems so that we can listen for the slightest aberration in their breathing while they sleep.  We sterilize their bottles and insist on only the purest ingredients in their food.  We buy them helmets and other safety equipment to protect them in the event of a fall from a bicycle or skateboard.  But the one thing the citizens of this nation refuse to do to protect their children is to demand Congress pass laws to limit guns in the hands of unqualified civilians.

I’ve often wondered, if Mitch McConnell’s grandchild were the victim of a school shooter, would he then be willing to talk about gun legislation?

Only in the U.S. will you find these …backpacksYep … kid-themed bullet-proof backpacks.  Wow, huh?  According to a CBS News report …

“Demand for bulletproof and bullet-resistant backpacks and related products are soaring this back-to-school season amid growing fear about mass shooters.”

Of course, they are only useful if the child is shot in the back and if he happens to be wearing his backpack at the time he is shot.  What next?  Full body armour and bullet-proof helmets?  Only in America.

Nearly a quarter of a million children have been affected by gun violence in their schools since Columbine in 1999.  Think about that one for a minute.  And we’re not talking about New York City, Houston, or Los Angeles, folks!  We’re talking about Newtown, Connecticut, population 27,560.  We’re talking about Parkland, Florida, population 32,202.  Columbine, Colorado, population 24,280.  The madness isn’t just in the cities … it has come right to a neighborhood near you.  Or, maybe it has come to your neighborhood.

school-shootingsThe NRA and our own lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers is the solution … more guns.  But we all know it isn’t.  Guns don’t belong in schools.  Period.  Not in the hands of teachers, and for damn sure not in the hands of students.  Only in America would such a ludicrous proposal even be considered.

The only answer is serious gun regulation.  You know it and I know it.  Our legislators know it, but their children are safe, they go to posh private schools with the latest technology to protect their children, and thus their interests lie in lining their pockets with donations from the gun industry.  What does it matter if a few of our children die?  Only in America.

Think of your children, your grandchildren, the kid down the street who brought you a handful of wilting wildflowers last week “just because”.  I think the video by Sandy Hook Promise should be required watching for every single lawmaker in this country.  Let them think how they would feel if that little girl in the bathroom at the end were their own child.  Only in America.

♫ Don’t Stop Believin’ ♫

It’s hard these days to keep a positive attitude.  I find myself in a dark mood more often than not of late, despite my friends’ efforts to convince me that Trump will lose in 2020 and order will be restored.  I once was considered an optimist, but these days … I’m anything but.  So, this song, which was sent to me by a dear friend as a reminder to never stop believing, just begged to be played tonight.

This song was not Journey’s biggest hit, but it is by far their most famous song, thanks to a resurgence in the ’00s.  This track has a unique structure, which helps it stick in your mind. Where most songs have a chorus that’s repeated several times, Don’t Stop Believin’ brings in its chorus (and title) only at the end – about 3:20 into the song.

The line, “Strangers waiting, up and down the Boulevard” is a reference to Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, where dreams are made. Keyboard player Jonathan Cain got the idea for the song when he went there to pursue his career.

“The song began with the chorus. My father had coached me. I was in Hollywood, struggling with my career, kind of lost. I was asking him, ‘Should I come back to Chicago and just give up on this dream?’ And he said, ‘No, son. Stay the course. We have a vision. It’s gonna happen. Don’t stop believin’.'”

Cain’s dream came true when he joined a group called The Babys with John Waite. In 1980, he joined Journey in San Francisco, and this song took shape.  He told Steve Perry about his idea for placing the song in Sunset Boulevard, and Perry had him describe it.

“I described the menagerie of people who would show up on a Friday night,” Cain said. “All the dreamers that had dreams to become actors. Producers, artists, lawyers, anything… they were all there on a Friday night.”

Journey lead singer Steve Perry, keyboard player Jonathan Cain and guitarist Neal Schon are the credited songwriters on this one, but the entire band contributed. Perry explained that the song originated during a series of gigs in Detroit when he found himself in a hotel room unable to sleep, staring out of the window:

Strangers waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding, somewhere in the night

“I was digging the idea of how the lights were facing down, so that you couldn’t see anything. All of a sudden I’d see people walking out of the dark, and into the light. And the term ‘streetlight people’ came to me. So Detroit was very much in my consciousness when we started writing.”

The popular resurgence of this song can be traced to its use in the 2003 movie Monster, which was based on the true story of the female serial killer Aileen Wuornos. The film was not widely seen but drew critical raves and a Best Actress Oscar for Charlize Theron, who portrayed Wuornos. In the movie, the song comes on when Wuornos and Selby Wall (played by Christina Ricci) are skating to it in a roller rink.

Don’t Stop Believin’
Journey

Just a small town girl
Livin’ in a lonely world
She took the midnight train going anywhere
Just a city boy
Born and raised in South Detroit
He took the midnight train going anywhere

A singer in a smoky room
The smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

(Chorus)
Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights, people
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night!

Working hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin’ anything to roll the dice
Just one more time
Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

(Chorus)
Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights, people
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night!

Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to the feelin’
Streetlights, people!

Don’t stop believin’
Hold on!
Streetlight people
Ohhh, woah!
Don’t stop believin’
Hold on to that feelin’
Streetlights, people

Written by Jonathan Cain, Steve Perry, Neal Schon.

Are You Tired Of Snarky Snippets Yet?

I have a few in-depth pieces I’m trying to work on, but lately all these little things keep cropping up that aren’t quite enough to fill an entire post, but that are important.  If Donnie could just be locked away for a day or two, perhaps in a subterranean storeroom under the White House, then the news cycle might slow down enough for me to catch  my breath!


Donnie didn’t get his way this time …

As we’ve heard ad nauseam for the past week or so, Donald Trump has told Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that he wants him to cut the interest rates … “to zero or below”.  To do so would be extremely foolish, but then … look who’s asking.

Yesterday, Mr. Powell announced a 0.25% cut in the interest rate, bringing it to between 1.75% and 2%.  A good portion of the members of the central bank’s rate-setting committee felt the move was unnecessary.  I am not an economist, nor do I pretend to be, but based on my understanding, I agree that it was unnecessary and likely would not have been made were it not for Trump’s bullying.  But, is Trump satisfied?

Of course not!

“Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!”

Ahhhh … such professionalism, eh?  Now, if another person in the Trump administration displeased him so, that person would likely be packing up their desk today, but fortunately in the case of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, ol’ Trumpie cannot just yell, “You’re Fired!”  Of course, he may not yet realize that, for back in June, when he was annoyed with Powell for the same reason, he said …

“I have the right to demote him. I have the right to fire him.”

Not quite true.  The Chairman can be fired only ‘for cause’, according to the Federal Reserve Act.  Historically the courts have not interpreted that to include policy differences.  Now, Trump could demote Powell if he so chose, but again, it would likely end up in a court battle that would almost certainly have an impact on the stability of the economy.  I applaud Mr. Powell for having the courage to stand up to the bully in the Oval Office and for doing what he believes to be the proper thing.


A ‘credible and urgent threat’ – but WHAT???

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that last month Trump had some interaction by phone with some foreign leader and promised that foreign leader something. Vague enough for you?  Whatever it was he promised to whomever he promised it set off alarms for at least one official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community on August 12th.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson reviewed the complaint and determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that ordinarily requires notification of congressional oversight committees.  But … acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers.

Last week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff subpoenaed Maguire for the complaint, accusing him of violating whistleblower law by failing to have notified the committee.  In his letter to Maguire, Schiff wrote …

“The committee — and the American people — must know why, in violation of law, a whistleblower complaint is being concealed, whether the underlying conduct involves the president or those around him, and whether the White House is involved in trying to cover up this authorized disclosure.”

To add insult to injury, Maguire consulted with the Department of Justice, ie., Trump’s main boot-licker William Barr, which is, at the very least, unorthodox, and leads to questions as to whether there is an attempt to cover for some wrongdoing by Trump.

Atkinson is scheduled to appear at a closed hearing of the Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning and Maguire has agreed to testify before the panel in open session a week later.  This whole thing is troubling, folks.  Obviously, Donald Trump has promised some foreign leader … Putin?  MbS?  Kim? … something that is very troublesome, and people are going to great lengths to keep it from being properly investigated or made public.  This is NOT how our government is supposed to operate.  Trump has declared himself to be above the law, and this is yet further proof that there are those in our government who are willing to sacrifice their integrity to allow it.  Stay tuned …


Is it Sean, or a giant chicken???

And, because I think you guys need a bit of humour, I share with you this short clip of none other than former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in his debut on Dancing with the Stars.  I’m not sure, but I think that’s a fluffy chicken costume he’s wearing!

Constitution Day???

Yesterday, September 17th, was Constitution Day, a U.S. federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution. It is observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

The Constitution has served this nation well for 232 years, however its future is in jeopardy today, its fate in the hands of the last person to take the presidential oath of office.  The last one to swear to “uphold” the Constitution, has trampled it almost beyond recognition.  I came across an OpEd in The Week that makes the case as well as, if not better than I could.

Happy Constitution Day to King Trump

Windsor MannWindsor Mann

Happy Constitution Day! Or, if you’re President Trump, Happy Thing You Haven’t Read Day!

During the Obama presidency, conservatives fancied themselves “constitutionalists.” In 2011, members of Congress read the Constitution in its entirety on the floor of the House of Representatives, something that Congress had never done before. Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) said this proved that Republicans were “serious about respecting the Constitution.”

Indeed, Republicans were so serious about respecting the Constitution that some of them questioned whether President Obama had violated Article II, Section 1, which requires the president to have been born in the United States. Donald Trump was one of them.

Republican adherence to the Constitution evaporated as soon as Trump took office. No president in modern American history has displayed more contempt for — and ignorance of — the Constitution than Trump has.

Trump said that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want,” which is incorrect. He said he admires Article XII, which doesn’t exist. As Jonah Goldberg said, “Every time you hear him talk about the Constitution, it’s like he’s trying to remember his high-school French.”

Of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution, Trump has spoken contemptuously of at least 10. His least favorite is the first. Before becoming president, Trump promised “to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” By “they” he meant “anyone who isn’t nice to me.”

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said in 2017. “And people should look into it.”

In July, Trump accused Google, Facebook, and Twitter of “discriminating against conservatives” and promised to use “all regulatory and legislative solutions” against them. In August, he complained that Fox News wasn’t “working” for him. Trump has more respect for his ex-wives than he does for freedom of the press.

He isn’t even a reliable advocate of the Second Amendment. In February 2018, Trump advocated illegal gun seizures. “I like taking guns away early,” he said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” Insofar as he defends the Second Amendment, he defends only the second half of it. Like the NRA, he has no interest in “A well regulated Militia,” which, of course, would entail regulations on guns.

Trump called the Fifth Amendment “horrible” and “disgraceful.”

Trump supports cruel and unusual punishment (proscribed by the Eighth Amendment), unless he is the recipient. He implored police officers to beat up suspects and suggested that drug dealers be given the death penalty.

He opposes birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. “So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other,” he tweeted.

Trump really, really dislikes the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms. Last year, he expressed interest in being “president for life.” He recently said he’d leave office in “maybe 10 or 14” years.

As for the 25th Amendment, which provides for the removal of a president if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz: “Trying to use the 25th Amendment to try and circumvent the Election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing.” According to this view, using the Constitution to remove Trump from office is unconstitutional.

“In Republican government,” James Madison said, “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Trump disagrees. As New York’s Josh Barro observed, Trump views congressional Republicans as his employees. Some congressional Republicans view themselves that way, too. A Republican congressman said that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Cal.) “works for” and “answers to” Trump.

Trump’s anti-constitutionalism runs through his party. Forty-three percent of Republicans think Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” In 2017, 52 percent of Republicans said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump told them to.

There’s a good chance that many of these people call themselves “constitutional conservatives.” They revere the Constitution in the abstract, in much the same way they cherish the flag, the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance. To them it is a symbol, not a mechanism for governance.

In 2016, the Republican governor of Maine reckoned that America needed “Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law.” This made no sense, of course. Defying the rule of law is no way to bring it back.

Trumpism and constitutionalism are incompatible. The former entails the concentration of power in a single individual. The latter entails the dispU.ersion of it.

Trump took an oath to uphold the Constitution and to see that the laws be faithfully executed. Yet he reportedly promised pardons to aides who knowingly broke the law to build his much-hyped border wall.

In 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wrote the foreword to a book called Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law. I hope he writes a follow-up about the Trump administration.

♫ Eve of Destruction – Still Apropos ♫

I had a really nice song … a happy song … ready for tonight, but the events of the day sent me plummeting into a deep, dark place, and this song seemed more appropriate tonight.  I know that I have played it a few times before, and … unless I miss my guess … I will play it a few times in the future.  It is a song that, unfortunately, never seems to become irrelevant.


Released in 1965, this song was an anti-government protest against racism, hypocrisy and injustice at a volatile time in American history.  Sound familiar?  I’m really surprised that this song hasn’t made a huge comeback in the past year or so, for it is every bit as apropos today as it was 50+ years ago.  In some ways, the issues today are different, but in other ways … not so much.  Today, instead of Vietnam we have climate change and a clown in the Oval Office, Brexit and election manipulation.  Racism is still alive and well, but today we have no Martin Luther King.  Hypocrisy?  Oh yeah, in spades, my friends.  And Injustice is the name of the game here and around the world.  I could name 100 reasons that this song is as relevant today as it was then. Different faces, same ol’ song. 😢

Eve of Destruction
Barry McGuire

The eastern world, it is explodin’,
Violence flarin’, bullets loadin’,
You’re old enough to kill but not for votin’,
You don’t believe in war, but what’s that gun you’re totin’,
And even the Jordan river has bodies floatin’,
But you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Don’t you understand, what I’m trying to say?
And can’t you feel the fears I’m feeling today?
If the button is pushed, there’s no running away,
There’ll be no one to save with the world in a grave,
Take a look around you, boy, it’s bound to scare you, boy,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Yeah, my blood’s so mad, feels like coagulatin’,
I’m sittin’ here, just contemplatin’,
I can’t twist the truth, it knows no regulation,
Handful of Senators don’t pass legislation,
And marches alone can’t bring integration,
When human respect is disintegratin’,
This whole crazy world is just too frustratin’,
And you tell me over and over and over again my friend,
Ah, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Think of all the hate there is in Red China!
Then take a look around to Selma, Alabama!
Ah, you may leave here, for four days in space,
But when your return, it’s the same old place,
The poundin’ of the drums, the pride and disgrace,
You can bury your dead, but don’t leave a trace,
Hate your next door neighbor, but don’t forget to say grace,
And you tell me over and over and over and over again my friend,
You don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

No, no, you don’t believe we’re on the eve of destruction.

Songwriters: P. F. Sloan
Eve of Destruction lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management

Good People Doing Good Things — Helpers

I’ve stumbled across two men today who have made being a ‘good people’ their life’s work.


James Anderson is originally from Liverpool, where he was a bin man (trash collector) before he became a plumber in 1998.  Now living in Burnley, James has his own plumbing company, which used to be called Northern Plumbing & Heating, but in March 2017 he changed it to DEPHER, which stands for Disabled and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Response.  What triggered the change?plumber-AndersonAt the time, he was called to provide a 2nd opinion for an elderly man who had just been given an estimate for £5,500 ($6,870 USD) for a boiler repair.  When Anderson arrived, he realized the company that gave the elderly man the estimate was trying to scam him out of what might have been his life savings for a simple, inexpensive repair.  Mr. Anderson spent 45 minutes repairing the gentleman’s boiler and handed him an invoice.  The amount?  £0.

“That was the incident that pushed me to turn Northern Plumbing and Heating into Depher cic. It got me thinking about other elderly and vulnerable people — we need to do something more to help the people who need it most. A lot of elderly and disabled people don’t like asking for assistance and if they can’t afford something like fixing the boiler, they might not do it and get into trouble. We are there to take that worry away.”

Since then, Mr. Anderson has provided free plumbing and heating services to more than 2,300 elderly and disabled people. plumber-1He continues to do some ‘for-profit’ plumbing, which helps pay the bills, but also relies on crowdfunding and other donations, though he is currently some £8,000 in debt.  When asked why he would be willing to go into debt to do this, he replies …

“To me, debt is debt… I would rather owe some money to somebody and another person be alive and happy and safe. It’s an ethos that’s in my heart and it will always stay there.”

plumber-2.jpgLast week, Mr. Anderson did some repairs for a 91-year-old woman with leukemia and presented her with this invoice …

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The woman’s daughter, Christine Rowlands, shared it on Facebook and it went viral, leading to phone interviews with BBC, CNN and others, which is how I found the story.  Two thumbs up to this man who is doing his part to help others … a true ‘good people’.


Jon Potter is 29 years of age, a handyman by trade, who lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  One day back in 2015, he was fueling his car when a woman approached and asked him for a ride to a battered-women’s shelter, and he turned her down.  She walked away, and he quickly felt a wave of regret. He got out of his car to look for her, but she was gone. Feeling terrible, he vowed to be kinder next time a stranger needed help.  And he has kept that vow … in spades!Jon-PotterA few weeks later, in the spring of 2015, he saw his opportunity when someone on a Pittsburgh Reddit group needed a hand installing a television antenna. Potter saw his opportunity, did it for no charge and felt great about it. Then someone on the same Reddit group asked for a cat sitter, and he jumped at the chance.  Says Potter …

“It snowballed from there. I decided that for the next year, if anyone asks me for help, as long as it’s legal and as long as it won’t harm anyone else, I’d do it. It sounds ridiculous, but I did it.”

Soon, he was committing near-daily acts of kindness in the Pittsburgh community: helping someone repair vinyl siding, moving furniture, fixing a leaky roof, changing a grandmother’s tire on the side of the road. All for free. He even raised $700 for a teen in his community who was injured while stopping a hate crime.

But one year led to two, then three, and now, four years later, Jon Potter is still saying “yes” to random requests from strangers, gaining Potter fame in Pittsburgh for his hundreds — perhaps thousands — of kind acts.  He’s actually somewhat of a legend around town.  On Reddit, person after person gushes about how Potter (username: pghparagliding) offered to help when it was most needed.

potter-2-3.png

But Potter’s biggest good deed yet came about last month, after he learned of a father of two who was in need of a kidney transplant.  Never one to back down from a good deed, he found out he could live a long and healthy life with one kidney. Then he got tested and learned he was a perfect match for the man in need.

In the months before the donation, the two men met and became close friends. Per doctors’ orders, Potter had to lose 20 pounds before the surgery, which he did.  The surgery took place on August 13th, and both men are recovering and doing well.

Recently, Jon was featured on a CBS segment.  Take a look …

I think it’s fair to say that Jon Potter has more than made up for saying “no” to the woman at the gas station four years ago, don’t you?


I hope this week’s dose of ‘good people’ lifts your spirits a bit and reminds you that there are good people out there … they just don’t make as much noise as the other kind.