Okay Folks … ‘TOON Time!!!

There are just so many awesomely apt ‘toons out there in ‘toonland these days … I am truly in awe of these guys and their talent!  Take a look …


To start, I want to pay tribute to two people who made a positive difference in this world, who died last week.  The first, Caroll Spinney, was an American puppeteer, cartoonist, author and speaker most famous for playing Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street from its inception in 1969 until 2018.

And the second was Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve, who helped shape American economic policy for decades, notably by leading the Federal Reserve’s brute-force campaign to subdue inflation in the 1970s and ’80s.


A few days ago, Trump went on some strange, unhinged rant about toilets and plumbing, saying people were flushing their toilets 10-15 times instead of once, and so his solution to the made-up problem is to have the Environmental Protection Agency look into ‘rolling back’ water efficiency regulations as he did with energy regulations.  Needless to say, the pundits had fun with this one.


Recently, Trump’s Department of Agriculture announced phase I of a three-phase program that would ultimately take away food stamp assistance to some 3 million people.

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Naturally, impeachment is the first thing on everybody’s minds, superseding even thoughts of “oops, I forgot to buy a gift for Aunt Helen”, and “where will we put a tree this year?”, and “did you call the piano tuner?”  It is a serious process, but there are a number on the right-hand side of the congressional aisle that are doing everything in their power to turn it into a three-ring circus.


Well, folks, that’s a wrap for this time, but you know I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more!  If we don’t find a way to poke fun at our situation, we will go nuts for sure, so keep those smiles handy.

♫ Loco-Motion ♫

Ever since my post on Monday about the legislation piling up in the Senate because Mitchell McConnell won’t even allow some 250+ mostly bi-partisan bills to be brought to the floor for discussion, I have had that Schoolhouse Rock song in my head … “I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill, and I’m sitting here on Capitol Hill …”  Not only is it driving me bonkers, but the girls are pretty much sick of it too, especially since I have been singing it while cooking supper, folding laundry, etc.  (Note to readers:  near-deaf people do not sing well … in fact, my singing could win an award for “Worst Warbler of the Year”).  So, in order to exorcise that particular tune, I was planning to play it here tonight.  But, lucky for you guys, a friend and I were talking this evening and another song came up in conversation, and it replaced I’m just a bill in my feeble brain, so …

Tonight I am taking you back in time to 1962, the year Little Eva had a hit with this song, Loco-Motion!  Remember this one?  I was 11 years old, with coke-bottle glasses and braces on my teeth!

The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Carole King and Gerry Goffin wrote this song. Little Eva was Eva Boyd, the babysitter – actually more of a nanny – being paid $35/week to watch their daughter Louise and clean the house. They were all young: Eva was 17, King 19 and Goffin 22. One day King came up with a melody that Goffin thought sounded like a locomotive, and when he saw Eva dancing with their daughter to the tune, he got the idea to make the song about a brand new dance – The Loco-Motion. He wrote the lyrics and they brought Eva to the studio and had her record the song as a demo.  They offered the song to Dee Dee Sharp, but she turned it down.  Producer Don Kirshner thought Eva’s vocal was just fine, so they named her Little Eva and had her record the song. The only downside for King and Goffin was losing their nanny: when the song became a million-seller, Eva was able to buy a place of her own.

In 1974, this became an unlikely #1 US hit for Grand Funk Railroad, who did a rock version of the song. It was just the second time a song hit #1 for two different artists – the first was Go Away Little Girl by Steve Lawrence in 1962 and Donny Osmond in 1971. That song was also written by King and Goffin.

I like both versions … I prefer Little Eva’s, but Grand Funk’s doesn’t hurt my ears, so I will offer you both tonight.

The Loco-motion
Little Eva/Grand Funk Railroad

Everybody’s doing a brand-new dance, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
I know you’ll get to like it if you give it a chance now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
My little baby sister can do it with me
It’s easier than learning your a-b-c’s
So come on, come on, do the loco-motion with me
You gotta swing your hips, now

Come on, baby
Jump up
Jump back
Well, now, I think you’ve got the knack
Wow, wow

Now that you can do it, let’s make a chain, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
A chug-a chug-a motion like a railroad train, now
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
Do it nice and easy, now, don’t lose control
A little bit of rhythm and a lot of soul

Come on, come on
Do the loco-motion with me

Ye-ye-ye-yeah
Move around the floor in a loco-motion
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)
Do it holding hands if you get the notion
(Come on baby, do the loco-motion)

There’s never been a dance that’s so easy to do
It even makes you happy when you’re feeling blue
So come on, come on, do the loco-motion with me

You gotta swing your hips, now
(Come on) that’s right (do the loco-motion)
You’re doing fine (come on, do the loco-motion)
Come on, babe (come on, do the loco-motion) hm-hm-hm
Jump up (come on) jump back (do the loco-motion)
You’re looking good (come on, do the loco-motion) hm-hm-hm
Jump up (come on) jump back (do the loco-motion) hm-hm-hm yeah yeah yeah

Songwriters: Carole King / Gerry Goffin
The Loco-motion lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The Majority of the People Want Better Gun Governance

One of my biggest pet peeves, as most of you know, is the gun culture in this nation. Were it within my power, I would revoke the 2nd Amendment, and I’m fairly certain that the Founding Fathers would kick themselves if they could see what a misinterpretation we have made of it. Our friend Keith has written an excellent post pointing out that the majority of the people in this nation actually SUPPORT stricter gun legislation, yet … our legislators ignore us. Thank you, Keith, for this excellent, eye-opening post!

musingsofanoldfart

From an article called “Polls find Americans mostly are supportive of stricter laws on guns” by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughn of the Raleigh News and Observer, please note the following cited survey results. Note these results have been fact checked by the paper’s Fact Checking Project.

– Gallup’s poll from August, 2019 noted “61% would support a ban on semi-automatic guns known as assault rifles.”

– The Civitas Institute (a conservstive policy group) poll from September, 2019 showed “58% of respondents saying gun laws were not strict enough.” Note of the Civitas poll respondents, “48% either owned a gun or had someone in their home who owned a gun.”

– A Quinnipac University poll from May, 2019 showed “61% of Americans support stricter gun laws. The same poll showed 94% of Americans support required background checks for gun buyers. And, 77% of those polled support ‘requiring individuals to obtain a license…

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Nancy Pelosi Spoke Today-Loud and Clear

Our friend Jeff at On the Fence Voters has done it again! I wish I had his way with words. This post is an excellent summation of the events yesterday in the House of Representatives, and he reminds us why the impeachment process is not only justified, but essential to the principles of the Constitution. Thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

Nancy Pelosi spoke today, and Donald Trump’s day of reckoning fast approaches. For only the fourth time in the history of this republic, articles of impeachment were submitted against a sitting president of the United States of America. Two articles, one for abuse of power, the other for obstruction of Congress, were released by the House Judiciary Committee. You can read them here.

In all, the document consists of only eight pages, a nod towards an increasing attention-averse population. The entire inquiry proceeded in this manner. Just short of 80 days, we’ve seen the committee do its work in swift and sweeping fashion. The Republican Party is left with no other option than to whine and complain to whoever is within shouting distance. President Trump is about to be impeached. As Trump’s Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said in his press conference weeks back, “Get over it!”

There’s an…

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Good People Doing Good Things — Don Stephens, Et Al …

I’d like to introduce you to Don Stephens, founder of Mercy Ships.

Don-Stephens

Back in 1978, Don and his wife Deyon purchased an ocean liner, the Victoria, for scrap value of $1 million.  It took them four years to convert the retired ocean liner into the hospital ship MV Anastasis. Anastasis sailing at seaThe 9-deck, 522-foot ship was equipped with three operating rooms, a dental clinic, an x-ray machine, a laboratory and 40 patient beds.  Since then, they have outfitted three other ships for the same purpose, with a fourth in the making.  And what, you may be wondering, is that purpose? 

The purpose is to provide humanitarian aid like free health care, community development projects, community health education, mental health programs, agriculture projects, and palliative care for terminally ill patients.  Mercy Ships has operated in more than 57 developing nations and 18 developed nations around the world, with a current focus on the countries of Africa.Deyon-DonBut just what inspired Don and Deyon to dedicate their entire lives to this project?  Don says one major motivator was the work of the international hospital ship SS Hope. Stephens’ research showed that 95 of the 100 largest cities in the world were port cities. Therefore, a hospital ship could deliver healthcare very efficiently to large numbers of people. The birth of Stephens’ disabled son, John Paul, also inspired him to move forward with his vision of a floating hospital. And finally, a visit with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India, further deepened his commitment to serving the world’s neediest people.

Now, Don and Deyon are certainly good people, having invested their money and time … their lives, really … into this venture.  But, with the limitations of both time and space, there are many other good people in this story.  As Don noted in a July interview when asked how he came to found Mercy Ships …

“The real story of Mercy Ships is the thousands of volunteers and supporters who are now a part of this journey. These are the ones at the ‘coal face’ of bringing hope and healing …”

I chose just a couple of those volunteers at random to highlight here.

Emmanuel-EssahEmmanuel Essah left his native home in Benin, Africa, and flew all the way to Texas to become a Biomedical Technician—and finished top of his class. Then he joined the Africa Mercy. Today, Emmanuel is a long-term crew member, supporting the hospital and helping with repairs and calibration of the hospital equipment.

Dr-Sherif-EmilAfter growing up in a family of doctors, Sherif Emil thought he would like to try something different and carve his own path. He completed an undergraduate engineering degree before coming to the realization that he really did want to pursue medicine. “I like the personal aspect, I like the interaction and I like the human aspect of it.” That change in career path would lead him to specializing in pediatric surgical medicine in the United States and Canada and eventually would bring him to Mercy Ships. Dr. Sherif began preparations to visit the ship as a volunteer surgeon. Recently those plans came to fruition and he was able to experience the joy of serving in the operating theatre aboard the Africa Mercy.

heather-morehouse.jpgSeeing the before and after pictures and the ability of Mercy Ships to meet a basic need touched Heather Morehouse. “I was heartbroken to see what people live with. They don’t have access to help themselves and there is such despair that comes with that.” Heather decided that she needed to be a part of the organization for seven weeks during its 2013-2014 field service in the Republic of Congo. She quickly realized that seven weeks wasn’t long enough. “My time in the Congo changed me; it changed what I wanted in life. I rented out my house, quit my job and came back.”

These are just a few of the people who are dedicating their lives to the betterment of humankind.  But, let’s take a look at some of the good work that Mercy Ships has done and is doing.


Aicha was three months old when her parents started noticing there was something wrong with her vision. She wasn’t moving or looking around the same way her two older siblings had at her age. By the time she was starting to crawl, it was obvious that she could hardly see what was around her. Aicha-beforeFatmata and her husband, Mohamed, were nervous to trust strangers with their daughter’s eyesight, but they decided to bring Aicha to a Mercy Ships eye screening.Aisha-lightWhen they met with the screening team, it was unsure whether there was hope for Aicha’s eyesight. Having her cataracts from such a young age could mean that her vision had stopped developing — making her permanently blind. But, as they shone a flashlight in the baby’s eyes, all tension broke. A toothy grin spread across Aicha’s face; she grabbed the flashlight closer, her eyes not leaving its beam.

According to Ophthalmic Clinical Technician Larina Brink …

“I knew that the surgery would turn out well because of her being able to follow the light as I moved it around. My heart was filled with joy to be able to offer her a surgery that would open the world up to her.”

The surgery was, indeed, successful, and one week after her surgery, Fatmata and Aicha returned to selling fruit. Now that Aicha can see, she tries to grab hold of every colorful item around her: the orange handed to her; the red cap of a water bottle; her mother’s dangling earrings. There’s joy and excitement in the air, and Aicha’s no longer the recipient of strangers’ jokes. Instead, she’s a little miracle.Aisha-after


Sekouba-before It was an ordinary morning when then 10-year-old Sekouba first noticed a tiny bump in his mouth. He showed it to his mother, M’mahawa, who thought it would simply go away on its own. But it didn’t. What began as a button-sized growth inside Sekouba’s mouth, grew as big as a tennis ball. It was a dangerous tumor. Breathing soon became difficult, threatening his life.

SekoubaSekouba loved school, but he dropped out. The shame was too much. Even his brothers were embarrassed to be seen with him. No one saw Sekouba for himself anymore. All they saw was the growing tumor that had filled his cheek. Sekouba’s family couldn’t afford the surgical costs needed at a regional hospital. So, a neighbor told them about Mercy Ships.

After being admitted onboard the Africa Mercy, Sekouba received surgery to remove the maxillary mass, followed by several weeks of appointments to closely follow his recovery process. Surgery was a success. The first thing Sekouba said he wanted to do after returning home was to get back in the classroom to continue his studies. Then he shared that he had his eye on a girl who he never stops talking about. “Now, I’m going to be able to marry her one day,” he beamed.Sekouba-after.png


There are many, many more success stories here, and I could have made this post at least 5 times as long as it already is and still not have finished.  But, as I am out of both time and space, I encourage you to visit Mercy Ships website, for there is a plethora of heartwarming stories and information. I wish I could share them all.  Meanwhile, I would like to give a huge shout-out to Don and Deyon Stephens for having the vision and the motivation to start this wonderful project, and to all the volunteers who give so much to helping people.  Earlier this year, Mercy Ships celebrated performing it’s 100,000th free surgery.  Thumbs up!!!  I leave you with a short video clip of one young patient’s story.

Human Rights Day …

Today is Human Rights Day, marking the 71st anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.  First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt played a key role as chairperson of the drafting committee of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and I initially considered using her speech before the United Nations as the basis for this post.  However, the speech is long … over 4,000 words … and I decided instead to listen to some of the voices from the past, including Eleanor Roosevelt, speaking of human rights.


11B-Mahatma-Ghandi

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it—always.” – Mahatma Ghandi


Eleanor-Roosevelt

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.” – Eleanor Roosevelt


nelson-mandela

“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” – Nelson Mandela


Martin-Luther-King

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” – Martin Luther King


desmond-tutu

“I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.” – Desmond Tutu


cesar-chavez

“Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” – Cesar Chavez


These are but a few of the thousands of people who have worked tirelessly to bring about equality and fairness for everyone, not just for a select few.  Let us hope that today and into the future, there are many more like them.

Just A Bill … Sittin’ Here On Capital Hill

Last Saturday night, a Police Sergeant in Houston, Texas, was killed when he responded to a call of domestic abuse.  The officer was Sergeant Christopher Brewster, he was 32 years old, and now he is irrevocably dead.  Just another statistic?  There is the danger, that with more than 36,000 gun fatalities already this year, each one becomes just another statistic.

But Houston Chief of Police, Art Acevedo, has seen enough and he is angry …art-acevedo

“We all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate and Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are not … getting the Violence Against Women Act reauthorized is because the NRA doesn’t like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends who abuse their girlfriends.  And who killed our sergeant? A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend.”

H.R. 1585: The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, is one of more than 250 bills that have been passed by the House of Representatives and are now languishing in what has come to be known as “Mitch McConnell’s graveyard”.  McConnell has called himself the “grim reaper” of progressive policies in the Senate.McConnell-graveyardSome of the other bills that have not seen the light of day in the Senate …

  • H.R. 1: For the People Act – aims to require states to provide an online option for voter registration and allow voters to register the same day they go to the polls. It would also require states to automatically register citizens who don’t register themselves. To protect elections from any foreign meddling, the bill mandates that states use paper ballots and that the Department of Homeland Security evaluate threats to election systems 180 days prior to an election and inform states of their conclusions. The bill includes campaign finance and ethics reform measures, including mandating presidential candidates release their tax returns.
  • H.R. 5: The Equality Act – seeks to provide comprehensive anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, education, federal funding, housing, public accommodations and more.
  • H.R. 6: The American Dream and Promise Act – would protect young immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children — known as Dreamers — and establish a path to citizenship for more than 2 million immigrants without legal status.
  • H.R. 8: The Bipartisan Background Checks Act – seeks to expand background check requirements on private sales, including those at gun shows, on the internet or through classified ads.
  • H.R. 9: The Climate Action Now Act – would block the Trump administration from exiting the Obama-era Paris climate agreement.
  • H.R. 987: The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act – seeks to lower prescription drug prices, bolster the Affordable Care Act and protect care for those with pre-existing conditions.
  • H.R. 1644: The Save the Internet Act – would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s party-line vote in 2017 to repeal net neutrality that prohibited broadband companies from blocking, throttling or prioritizing certain websites.

im-just-a-bill-6These and a couple hundred more bills have run into a brick wall named Mitch McConnell as they passed from the House to the Senate.  Now … as I see it, it is the job of the senators, including McConnell, to legislate.  That means, we are paying them $174,000 per year … except McConnell who, as Senate Majority Leader is being paid $193,400.  For. Doing. Nothing.

Chief Acevedo places Sergeant Brewster’s death firmly at the door of McConnell and others who are stubbornly and without purpose ignoring their duty.  I would agree, and I would also ask how many others have died because of the inaction of the Senate?  More than once, McConnell has said he will refuse to consider any legislation that does not have Trump’s support.  WTF???  Trump is not the employer of the U.S. Congress!!!  WE THE PEOPLE are their employers!

Now, we have an election coming up next year, and Mitch McConnell is up for re-election.  We can hope that the people of Kentucky have had enough by now and will vote him out.  Or …

Article I, Section 5 of the United States Constitution provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.”

Yes, I know it’s a longshot, for most of the republicans in both chambers of Congress have drunk Trump’s poisoned Kool-Aid and are too cowardly to stray from the party line.  In other words, my friends, they have set aside their oaths of office, have set aside their duty to We the People, and are intent only on pleasing the ‘man’ in the Oval Office and their big-money donors such as the NRA and fossil fuel industries.  And the ‘man’ in the Oval Office has also set aside his oath of office … well, actually he never had any intention of honouring his commitment to the people of this nation … and is about to be impeached for doing so.

Folks … our government is B-R-O-K-E-N.  We are on a rudderless ship that, as I have said before, is headed for a big iceberg (one of the few left).  How much longer are we going to put up with this?  We damn well better make some sweeping changes on November 3rd, 2020, else we WILL hit that iceberg.vote-animated

 

A New Batch Of Snarky Snippets … Grrrrr

There are a number of relatively minor things that have cropped up in the last couple of days with seemingly the sole purpose of stirring my ire.  So … you know what that means … it must be time for some snarky snippets, yes?


Let’s start with Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and some speculate next vice-presidential running mate for Trump in 2020.  As governor, I had a great deal of respect for Ms. Haley.  As ambassador, I had less, for she fell in line with Trump’s ideology, if he can be said to actually have one.  She became one of his sycophants, and I lost much of my respect for her.Nikki-Haley.jpgSo, why is she raising my hackles today?  Well … last Friday she was being interviewed in a podcast on conservative Glenn Beck’s radio program.  One segment of the podcast was about Dylan Roof who, in June 2015, opened fire in an African-American church, killing nine people.  Roof was an avowed white supremacist who had posted pictures of himself posing with the Confederate flag prior to his attack.

dylan-roof-confederate-flagMs. Haley said …

“Here is this guy who comes out with his manifesto, holding the Confederate flag and had just hijacked everything that people thought of. We don’t have hateful people in South Carolina. There’s always the small minority who are always going to be there, but people saw it as service, sacrifice and heritage. But once he did that, there was no way to overcome it.”

Let’s call a spade a bloody shovel here.  The Confederate flag never stood for “service, sacrifice and heritage”.  It has always stood for a lifestyle that included slavery, the ownership of other human beings simply because of the colour of their skin.  Period.

Ms. Haley’s argument was that the Confederate flag was noble until Dylan Roof made it appear to represent white supremacy.  IT DOES represent white supremacy, fool!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Michael Steele, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, shot back on Twitter …

“Really, Nikki?! The Confederate Flag represented ‘service, sacrifice and heritage’? To whom? The black people who were terrorized & lynched in its name? You said it should never have been there. Roof didn’t hijack the meaning of that flag, he inherited it.”

Racism, folks … it’s alive and well in the United States of America.


Seema Verma has flown beneath my radar since she was appointed by Trump, then confirmed by the Senate in March 2017 to the position of Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  This is the agency that oversees Medicare, Medicaid, and the insurance markets.Seema-verdaNow, Ms. Verma came into the job with some conflicts of interest, and had the Senate done its job, she likely would not have passed muster.  She is the founder and previous CEO of SVC Inc., a health policy consulting firm, which was acquired by Health Management Associates (HMA) just prior to Verma’s nomination to head CMS.

One of her first actions was to send a letter to the nation’s governors urging them to impose insurance premiums for Medicaid, charge Medicaid recipients for emergency room visits, and encourage recipients to get jobs or job training.  In her role as CMS administrator, Verma spent more than $2 million of taxpayer funds on Republican-connected communications consultants and other expenses to boost her visibility and public image.  She has made numerous speeches and attacks against the concept of Medicare-for-All … enough so that she is now the defendant in a lawsuit claiming she is in violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal officials engaging in political activity.

But what placed her on my radar was a trip she took back in August.  She claims that jewelry, clothing and other possessions, including a $5,900 Ivanka Trump-brand pendant (that she owned one speaks volumes about her character, in my book) were stolen from her luggage during that business-related trip.  Okay, fine … if that were me or you, we would file a claim against the airline and maybe, if we were lucky, get reimbursed for some small portion of it.

But, Ms. Verma decided that We the Taxpayers ought to reimburse her for what she claims was the value of her ‘loss’.  To the tune of $47,000!!!  More than most of us make in a bloomin’ year!  And what sort of a numptie (been listening to my Brit friends too long) takes things of that value on a business trip anyway?  And why is it my fault or yours?  And why should we pay for her ignorance???  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Her claim included $43,065 for about two dozen pieces of jewelry, based off an appraisal she’d received from a jeweler about three weeks after the theft.  Who takes 24 pieces of jewelry on a business trip, then fails to insure them?  And the claim further included $2,000 to cover the cost of her stolen clothes, a $325 claim for moisturizer and a $349 claim for noise-cancelling headphones.  My entire wardrobe does not consist of $2,000 worth of clothing.  My moisturizer costs $4.99, and my headphones are Skullcandy, $29.99 at Best Buy!  Just one more alligator in the huge swamp that Trump built.

Not to worry, though, for the federal health department that oversees her agency decided to reimburse her for only $2,852.40 of OUR money.


owen-shroyerOwen Shroyer … ever heard of him before?  Neither had I.  He’s a host on Alex Jones’ Infowars program, which I thought had long since met its timely demise since being banned from Apple, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.  Apparently, they still exist somewhere on the fringes.

It would seem that there is no screening process for entrance to the impeachment proceedings, for Mr. Shroyer managed to get in yesterday.  Moments after Representative Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, opened the hearing, Shroyer rose from his seat in the packed hearing room and shouted …

“Jerry Nadler and the Democrat Party are committing treason against this country! Trump is innocent!”

owen-shroyer-2Police quickly removed him from the room, during which time he was livestreaming to his personal Twitter account and yelling at the top of his lungs …

“So I’m being arrested right now for disrupting Congress. I’m a criminal for my First Amendment rights.”

Is there any doubt in anybody’s mind that Alex Jones was behind this, that it was naught more than a publicity stunt?  At what cost?

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Shroyer actually called for President Barack Obama to be lynched just this past June …

“Barack Obama is a treasonous…he belongs in jail. He belongs in Guantanamo Bay. I mean look, I’m not saying this should happen but Barack Obama, you know, find the tallest tree and a rope.”

All my life I have been a proponent for 1st Amendment rights to free speech, but in the past year, maybe two, I have begun to re-think it.  It has been abused so much, by so many unsavouries such as Mr. Shroyer, Mr. Jones, Mr. Carlson and a few thousand others, that I’m coming to believe there must be limits.  As our friend Roger said to me the other evening, “Free speech is not a right; it is something which has to be earned.” I’m not so sure the people of this nation have earned it. Rather a damn shame for the rest of us who use our rights responsibly, don’t you think?


I had one more, but … I shall stop here and give you a chance to breathe.  Make America great again, says Mr. Trump?  I think not … I think he has placed the United States in the worst light it has been in in all of its 232 years.

The Scope Of Impeachment

The big question about Trump’s impeachment is whether the scope should be narrow or broad.  Initially, Nancy Pelosi seemed determined to keep the focus on Trump’s attempts to bribe/blackmail Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for personal gain.  That, in and of itself, is enough for impeachment, but there is so much more … should the House expand the horizon and include Trump’s other violations of his oath of office?  There are mixed feelings about it among the experts and journalists.  Today, I would like to share New York Times columnist David Leonhardt’s view, for it is one with which I largely agree.

The Eight Counts of Impeachment That Trump Deserves

The lessons from Nixon and Clinton.

david-leonhardtBy David Leonhardt

Opinion Columnist

During Watergate, the House Judiciary Committee considered five articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon — and voted down two of them. During the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the House voted on four articles — and rejected two.

That history serves as a reminder that impeachment is not a neat process. It’s a chance for Congress and voters to hear the evidence against a president and decide which rise to the level of an impeachable offense.

My own instincts have leaned toward a targeted, easily understandable case against President Trump, focused on Ukraine. And that may still be the right call. But the House shouldn’t default to it without considering a larger airing of Trump’s crimes against the Constitution. A longer process, with more attention on his misdeeds, seems unlikely to help Trump’s approval rating.

So last week I posed a question to legal experts: If the House were going to forget about political tactics and impeach Trump strictly on the merits, how many articles of impeachment would there be?

I think the answer is eight — eight thematic areas, most of which include more than one violation.

In making the list, I erred on the side of conservatism. I excluded gray areas from the Mueller report, like the Trump campaign’s flirtation with Russian operatives. I also excluded all areas of policy, even the forcible separation of children from their parents, and odious personal behavior, like Trump’s racism, that doesn’t violate the Constitution.

Yet the list is still extensive, which underscores Trump’s thorough unfitness for the presidency. He rejects the basic ideals of American government, and he is damaging the national interest, at home and abroad. Here’s the list:

  1. Obstruction of justice.

Both the Nixon and Clinton articles included the phrase “prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice,” and Trump’s impeachment should start with his pattern of obstructing investigations.

He has admitted that he fired the F.B.I. director to influence the investigation of his own campaign. He has harassed Justice Department officials who are Russia experts, including Andrew McCabe and Bruce Ohr. Trump also directed his White House counsel to lie about their conversations over whether to fire Robert Mueller. Most recently, the White House tried to hide evidence about Trump’s phone call with Ukraine’s president, by improperly classifying material about it.

  1. Contempt of Congress.

Another article of impeachment against Nixon said that he had “failed without lawful cause” to cooperate with a congressional investigation. Trump has gone much further than Nixon, outright refusing to participate in the constitutionally prescribed impeachment process. As a result, the country still doesn’t know the full truth of the Ukraine scandal.

  1. Abuse of power.

The House will almost certainly adopt a version of this article, impeaching Trump for turning American foreign policy into a grubby opposition-research division of his campaign.

The most haunting part is that if a courageous whistle-blower hadn’t come forward, Trump most likely would have gotten away with it. He would have pressured the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of the Bidens, and we in the media would have played along, producing the headlines that Trump wanted to see.

  1. Impairing the administration of justice.

That phrase appears in the second impeachment article against Nixon, which detailed his efforts to use the I.R.S., F.B.I. and others to hound his opponents. It’s a version of abuse of power — but distinct from the previous item because it involves using the direct investigatory powers of the federal government.

Trump has repeatedly called for investigations against his political opponents, both in public and in private with aides. For example, as the Mueller report documented, he pressured Jeff Sessions, then the attorney general, to investigate Hillary Clinton: “You’d be a hero,” Trump said. This behavior has violated the constitutional rights of American citizens and undermined the credibility of the judicial system.

  1. Acceptance of emoluments.

The Constitution forbids the president from profiting off the office by accepting “emoluments.” Yet Trump continues to own his hotels, allowing politicians, lobbyists and foreigners to enrich him and curry favor with him by staying there. On Sunday, William Barr, the attorney general, personally paid for a 200-person holiday party at Trump’s hotel in downtown Washington.

The Democratic-controlled House has done an especially poor job of calling attention to this corruption. It hasn’t even conducted good oversight hearings — a failure that, as Bob Bauer, an N.Y.U. law professor and former White House counsel, told me, “is just astonishing.”

  1. Corruption of elections.

Very few campaign-finance violations are impeachable. But $280,000 in undisclosed hush-money payments during a campaign’s final weeks isn’t a normal campaign-finance violation. The 2016 election was close enough — decided by fewer than 80,000 votes across three swing states — that the silence those payments bought may well have flipped the outcome.

  1. Abuse of pardons.

The president has wide latitude to issue pardons. But Trump has done something different: He has encouraged people to break the law (or impede investigations) with a promise of future pardons.

And he didn’t do it only during the Russia investigation. He also reportedly told federal officials to ignore the law and seize private land for his border wall, waving away their worries with pardon promises.

  1. Conduct grossly incompatible with the presidency.

This is the broadest item on the list, and I understand if some people are more comfortable with the narrower ones. But the “grossly incompatible” phrase comes from a 1974 House Judiciary Committee report justifying impeachment. It also captures Trump’s subversion of the presidency.

He lies constantly, eroding the credibility of the office. He tries to undermine any independent information that he does not like, which weakens our system of checks and balances. He once went so far as to say that federal law-enforcement agents and prosecutors regularly fabricated evidence — a claim that damages the credibility of every criminal investigation.

You may have forgotten about that particular violation of his oath of office, because Trump commits so many of them. Which is all the more reason to make an effort to hold him accountable.

♫ You And Me Against The World ♫

Sometimes, I push myself too hard, I care too much about … well, everything.  And when that happens, I fall into a dark hole I call, for lack of a better term, the ‘rabbit hole’.  Often, whether intentionally or not, my music selections reflect that state of being, that dark rabbit hole.

This was the first song that Kenny Ascher and Paul Williams wrote together. They teamed up again to write the Oscar nominated score for the movie A Star Is Born, and the song Rainbow Connection for The Muppet Movie. Says Williams …

“We went to England to do a television show, Kenny was a member of my band. And when we got there there was a problem with the work permits, so the guys in my band couldn’t play. I had to use local musicians. So Kenny’s sitting around with nothing to do in a hotel in London. So we’re sitting there, and we’re having a few drinks, because that’s what I did in those days. I’m 17 years sober (2007), in those days I drank. We’re sitting around and we’re talking about writers, and we all love Cole Porter and a certain kind of writer and all. And we started talking about Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman. I loved Harry, but every time I tried to tell Harry how much I loved his songs, he would always tell me, ‘No, here’s the great writer,’ and he’d play me Randy Newman, who I also loved.

So Kenny and I wrote this little song, ‘Do you love me, babe, do you love me not? Let’s decide in the morning, not now. Boy, you don’t like Shuman, or Randy Newman, Nilsson ain’t your cup of tea. You think Van Heusen is a shirt worth choosin’, but you’re still undecided ’bout me. Bo-wo do you love me, babe, do you love me not, let’s decide in the morning, not now.’ It was really kind of a cute little song.

And Kenny’s sitting at the piano, turned to me, and he said, ‘If that was on an album…’ and he played, ‘bomp bomp bomp bomp bomp.’ He played the intro to what became ‘You And Me Against The World.’ And I just looked at him when he finished the intro and sang, ‘You and me against the world,’ and he hit another chord, and I went, ‘Sometimes it feels like you and me against the world.’ And we went on from there. It’s the first song we ever recorded, and God bless Helen Reddy, she had a big hit with it.”

There are more … professional versions of this song, but … as  I am a huge fan of Kermit, then it can only be this one tonight …

You and Me Against the World
Helen Reddy

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walked away,
You can count on me to stay.

Remember when the circus came to town
How you were frightened by the clown,
Wasn’t it nice to be around someone that you knew,
Someone who was big and strong and looking out for

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world
And for all the times we’ve cried I always felt that
God was on our side.

And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
Of you and me against the world.

Songwriters: Kenneth Lee Ascher / Paul H. Williams
You and Me Against the World lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management