R.I.P. Bipartisanship

I think most people see bipartisanship as the ideal way to get things done in our lawmaking branch of government known as Congress.  We’d all like to think that both Democrats and Republicans are acting in the best interest of the people of this nation and that they are taking their oaths to the Constitution seriously.  After all, we elected them and we pay their salaries, benefits and perks from our hard-earned money!  I, for one, have long felt that moderation and bipartisanship, working across the aisle, meeting halfway in the spirit of compromise was the best way to ensure that we are all served well by our elected officials.  Today, however, I honestly believe that bipartisanship is a mirage, that true cooperation between the two parties is dead, a relic of the past.  Whether or not it will ever be resurrected remains to be seen at some point in the future, but today, there is not a single Republican in either chamber of Congress who even understands the meaning of the word “compromise”.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow recently published an OpEd that addresses this and his thoughts parallel my own.  Sadly, this is the state of affairs in the United States Congress today.


Stop Hoping the G.O.P. Will Play Ball

June 20, 2021

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

I am truly baffled as to why Democrats continue to search for bipartisan support that has not only been illusory, but nonexistent — with the exception of a predictable few and only on a few issues with them.

Democrats: Republicans don’t want you to win. It’s that simple. They want no successes on your watch, and they certainly don’t want to participate in said victories.

And yet the reports keep pouring in of Democrats bending over backward and gutting their bills in a desperate effort to win Republican support.

It seems to me that this has all been a performance, a going through the motions, a checking of the boxes, so that Democrats could say that they tried, that they extended a hand but were rebuffed. Democrats always seem to want to win the moral advantage, to say that they played the game with honor.

But that is meaningless when Republicans no longer care about that form of morality, when they no longer want to play the game by the established rules at all. Democrats are playing an honor game; Republicans are playing an endgame.

Republicans are in win-at-all-costs mode. They don’t really care how they sound today or will be judged by history. The only thing that matters is winning and retaining power, defending the narrative of America that white people created and protecting the power and wealth they accrued because of it.

As The Washington Post reported Sunday, “the Equality Act, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the protected classes of the 1964 Civil Rights Act alongside race, color, religion and national origin,” has stalled because of “sharpening Republican rhetoric, one key Democrat’s insistence on bipartisanship, and the Senate’s 60-vote supermajority rule.”

Last week, Senator Joe Manchin offered some changes and reductions to the voter rights bill called the For the People Act, changes that he could support and that he hoped would win some Republican support. His compromised stance was quickly rebuffed by Republicans. Manchin had also offered alterations to the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which seeks to restore parts of the Voting Rights Act.

But, as Talking Points Memo wrote, Manchin’s changes would basically gut the bill. As T.P.M. put it, “One of those proposed changes would decrease the attorney general’s ability to deem a voting practice discriminatory without a judicial finding.”

Politico reported on Friday that the White House will lean more on the bully pulpit as its voting rights bills grind to a halt. This includes engaging the public more, partnering with corporations and leaning on the Justice Department to challenge some state laws.

Politico is also reporting that Democrats are preemptively scaling back gun control legislation — pre-emptively taking the compromise position — to avoid a Republican roadblock that will most likely still remain. According to Politico:

“Democrats are preparing to vote on a scaled-down guns bill — most likely a curtailed plan to boost background checks for firearm buyers. The goal is to unite the party and pick up a limited number of Republican votes, even as their effort appears headed towards the same doomed fate as previous proposals to curb gun violence.”

Rather than continuing to peddle a false optimism that bipartisanship on most major legislation is truly possible with this Republican Party, Democrats need to tell their voters some uncomfortable truths.

First, the obvious: Even though Democrats have control of the House and Senate, not everyone in this caucus is fully committed to a liberal policy agenda. That means that the moderates, like Manchin, are the de facto leaders of the Democratic majority. Nothing passes without their approval.

It is these very same moderates who stand in the way of eliminating the filibuster.

And it is precisely for those reasons that very little is likely to get passed through this Senate that liberals will find satisfying. Democrats must brace for massive disappointment.

Furthermore, we are barreling toward midterm elections in which Republicans are optimistic about winning back the House and possibly the Senate.

I say dispense with the phony, wish-driven narrative Democrats are selling. Go down screaming and fighting. Much of the Democratic agenda may be stalled, but never stop reminding voters why it is: not because Democrats haven’t compromised enough, but because they could never compromise enough.

The current status quo is an unwinnable negotiation, because it isn’t a negotiation. This is a war. And in it, all is fair. Republicans have embraced a liar and racist in Donald Trump because their voters embraced him. They have excused and multiplied, in fantastical ways, the insurrection at the Capitol. They are rushing to write voter restrictions that also give them more say over how results are verified.

In the face of all this, Democrats need to stop talking about reaching across the aisle, compromise and common ground.

They need to go on the record and speak plainly: The Republican Party has given up on the idea of a true and full democracy. They are attempting to tear it down and erect in its place a system that reduces voter rolls and skews the will of the American people.

For the Republican Party, the success of democracy — that growing numbers of people could participate — is its failure.

Starting The Week With A Grrrrrrrrrrr

I can tell already that it’s going to be a great week for snarky snippets and mini rants!  This afternoon’s post is one of each …


One man’s ignorance …

I have no idea what Joe Manchin’s game is, but he seems to be trying to be a one-man wrecking ball.  First, he refuses to so much as alter a single hair on the head of the filibuster, let alone kill that toxic animal.  Then he refuses to support the For the People Act that would protect our voting rights.  And now, he has set his sites on climate change … apparently hoping to help hasten the end of human and other lifeforms on Planet Earth.  Way to go, Joe!

You might never guess that Manchin is a member of the Democratic Party, nor that he is the Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, given that much of the responsibility of that committee at this point is to find alternate sources of clean energy so that we can break our reliance on fossil fuels.  But then, Manchin does come from a state that is almost completely reliant on the coal industry to support its economy, so perhaps he’s been bought and paid for by the coal barons.

“I know there’s a change coming, OK?  But I’ve always been very, very cautious about this. I’m concerned that they’re setting a very aggressive timetable.”

The “very aggressive timetable” to which he refers is President Biden’s commitment to cut carbon emissions in half from 2005 levels by 2030.  Um … excuse me, Joe Manchin, but that is NOT what I call an aggressive timetable, especially given that we have known the problem for decades while we ignored it, happily driving our gas-guzzling SUVs, keeping our homes the perfect temperature, never bothering to turn off a light.  Rather like that old saying, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.”

Those of us who listen to the scientists, who understand that life on earth could very well be in its final stages if we don’t act quickly to start to reverse the damage we humans have done, know that we cannot delay.  Those of us with consciences care about what sort of world we are leaving behind for our grandchildren and their grandchildren.  And those of us with an IQ above 50 know that we can no longer dilly dally and play games with this.

Mr. Manchin … if you are so damn concerned about the people in your state and their economic future, then I suggest you get with the program and help them help themselves by promoting renewable energy, retraining coal miners in other jobs, rather than attempting to help the Republicans destroy our lives!  For your stupidity, your perfidy, I award you Filosofa’s double thumbs down!  👎👎


Guess how many?

Guess how many mass shootings occurred in the United States over the weekend?  No, not five … no, not seven … ELEVEN!  Yes, my friends, there were eleven mass shootings in this country from Friday evening thru Sunday night.  And the weekend before?  Ten mass shootings as defined by four or more people being shot.  To date, the U.S. has had 293 mass shootings since January 1st.

This weekend left 8 people dead and 49 injured, with at least 3 children among the victims.  Last weekend left 12 people dead. What the SAM HELL are people thinking???  Let’s take a closer look … make it just a bit more personal …

Friday

5 wounded in Minneapolis Friday night

A shooting in Minneapolis Friday night left five people wounded.

1 killed and three injured in Cincinnati, Ohio

A 16-year-old is dead and three other people were injured in a shooting Thursday night in Walnut Hills.

Saturday

2 dead, 4 injured in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Two people were killed and four others were injured in a shooting early Saturday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

1 dead, 4 injured in Anchorage, Alaska

Police in Alaska are investigating an early morning shooting that killed one person and injured four more in Anchorage Saturday.

4 injured in a shooting in Newark, New Jersey

No details

1 dead, at least 6 wounded in Oakland

One person was killed and at least six others were wounded in a shooting Saturday evening near Lake Merritt in Oakland, California.

Sunday

2 children among 8 injured in Dallas shooting

Eight people were shot, including a 15-year-old and 10-year-old, after a gunfight broke out between partygoers at two separate celebrations in Dallas just after midnight Sunday.

4 injured in Richmond, Virginia

Four people were injured in a quadruple shooting in Richmond, Virginia, early Sunday.

1 dead, 4 injured at Indiana Juneteenth celebration

One person was killed and four others were injured during a Juneteenth celebration in Granger, Indiana early Sunday morning.

1 killed, 4 injured at Juneteenth Celebration in Colorado

Police responded to a shopping mall parking lot in the Denver suburb of Aurora after receiving at least 50 calls reporting shots fired at a Juneteenth celebration just after 4 a.m.

1 killed and 3 others injured in Atlantic City, New Jersey

One person was killed and three others were wounded in a shooting Sunday evening in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Am I the only person in this country who sees how utterly stupid it is for guns to be so easily obtained by any Tom, Dick or Harry?  NO, the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution does NOT give fools the right to own an assault rifle, it does NOT guarantee that fools can own an arsenal, and it does NOT give people the right to carry a gun around with them wherever they go!!!  Members of Congress and of the U.S. Supreme Court need to read the damn Constitution!  This is the stupidest interpretation of a part of the Constitution that I have EVER seen!  Get rid of the damn guns, get them out of the hands of people on the street!!!  But no, instead states are making it so easy to get a gun that before long you will see vending machines on street corners and in bars where for a $20 bill you can get a gun, and for another $10 you can get 10 rounds of ammo!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

♫ Against All Odds ♫

I have a few “go-to” artists when I am in need of a pick-me-up, as I am tonight.  I’ve been under the weather all day and just needed a voice to soothe me.  Among those favourites are of course Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie, Kenny Rogers, and Phil Collins.  So, searching back through the archives, I’ve played this one only once and it’s been two years, so … I shan’t apologize but only hope that you enjoy Phil Collins as much as I do!


Released in 1984 this was the first of seven US solo #1 hits for Collins, all of which charted in the ’80s. He was still charting hits with Genesis during this time as well, including the #1 Invisible Touch in 1986.  Collins had originally written the song for his album Face Value, but then decided against its inclusion.  The song likely would have gone unnoticed had not film director Taylor Hackford asked Collins to write a song for the film Against All Odds.

“Against All Odds was written in the same misery that the rest of Face Value came from, but I wasn’t drawn to it initially. I didn’t like it as much as ‘You Know What I Mean,’ and I thought there was only room for one of those on the album. I don’t know what would have happened to it if Taylor Hackford hadn’t got in touch.”

And in a 2007 interview, Collins recalled …

“That song was written during my first divorce. My first wife and the kids had gone and I was left there. The song was written out of experience as opposed to a ‘what if’ song. If that personal stuff had not happened to me at the time, I probably would never have made an album, and if I was to have made an album eventually, it probably would have been a jazz/rock thing. Without that stuff I wouldn’t have felt the stuff I felt sitting at a piano night after night, day after day writing stuff.”

This won Collins the 1984 Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance. It was nominated for a Best Original Song Oscar, but lost to Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You.

Against All Odds
Phil Collins

How can I just let you walk away,
Just let you leave without a trace?
When I stand here taking every breath with you, ooh ooh
You’re the only one who really knew me at all

How can you just walk away from me
When all I can do is watch you leave?
‘Cause we’ve shared the laughter and the pain
And even shared the tears
You’re the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now
Well there’s just an empty space
And there’s nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face
Ooh, Take a look at me now
Well there’s just an empty space
And you coming back to me is against the odds
And that’s what I’ve got to face,

I wish I could just make you turn around
Turn around and see me cry
There’s so much I need to say to you
So many reasons why
You’re the only one who really knew me at all

So take a look at me now
Well there’s just an empty space
And there’s nothing left here to remind me
Just the memory of your face

Now Take a look at me now
‘Cause that’s just an empty space
But to wait for you is all I can do
And that’s what I’ve got to face

Take a good look at me now
‘Cause I’ll still be standing here
And you coming back to me is against all odds
It’s the chance I’ve got to take
Take a look at me now

Writer/s: Phillip David Charles Collins
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC

Jolly Monday Strikes Again!

Good Monday morning, friends!  I hope you all had a great weekend … yesterday was the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere and I get the feeling it’s gonna be a long, hot one in more ways than one.  Today’s Jolly Monday might be a bit shorter than usual, for I am under the weather, Joyful has gone to try to lure Uncle Roger out of his basement with chocolate ice cream, and Jolly … well, Jolly found the ‘toons and such, but as you probably remember, he’s not allowed in the kitchen, so today’s treats are courtesy of a few local fast food places.  So, grab a bite and a drink and let’s see what ‘toons ‘n such Jolly has in store for us.

JOLLY!!!!  Where are the drinks???

Oops … sowwy!  Here dey are …

  

An’ dis one is for Miss Ellen …


Okay, well, let’s move on to some cartoons, shall we?

And, he found some funny memes, too …


Ol’ Maxine seems to have become a regular on Jolly Monday …


And let’s wrap things up with a cute critter video …


I hope you all have a beautiful week ahead … and remember to share those smiles and maybe even a hug or two with those who look like they need one, ‘k?  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa, Jolly, and the temporarily errant Joyful!

Sunday Afternoon Snark

Somebody said to me once that she thought I should try ignoring the news for a week or more, just think about positive things, and see if my mood wouldn’t improve.  Well, I didn’t bother to try her suggestion, for I’m a news junkie.  I think it’s our responsibility to stay on top of what’s happening, not only in our own country, but in the world.  Y’see … it’s not all about me … happiness and joy aren’t the end goal here, but rather, at least in my book, leaving a positive mark in the world we occupy, making a difference somehow.  And that’s why things like these two snippets make me growl, put a scowl on my face, and why I must share my growls and scowls with you, my friends.  Happy Sunday!


Murder by any other name …

Chris Craven, a 38-year-old NASCAR team worker, was having a mental health crisis last August 2nd and was threatening suicide.  His family called 911 for help.  Big mistake.  ‘Help’ arrived in the form of two police officers, Alexander Arndt and Christopher Novelli, apparently operating, under the philosophy of ‘shoot first, ask questions later’, and after shooting Mr. Craven 15 times with high velocity bullets, Chris Craven was dead.  The officers claim that Mr. Craven pulled a pistol on them, but Craven’s family disputes this and says he was complying with the orders the officers barked.

Last Friday, ten months after the murder of Chris Craven, the prosecutor assigned to the case, District Attorney Andy Gregson, decided not to file criminal charges in connection with the shooting.  He says that the two officers ‘reasonably feared for their lives’ when they opened fire.  Even if that is true, why did they fire their weapons 15 times and why did they shoot to kill?  They already knew that Mr. Craven was suicidal from the content of the 911 call … why did they decide to murder him rather than call for help?

The body cam footage has been kept secret and not released to the public.  Gregson claims that the body cam footage shows Craven pulling the gun, but the family says otherwise and they have not been allowed to see the body cam footage.  Craven’s wife, Amy, said in a statement that the District Attorney’s findings were …

“… a tale of twisted stories where unsubstantiated statements from the officers are mixed into the explanations of the video to create a story that suits the narrative the MPD wishes was the truth.”

The killing is one of more than 900 fatal shootings by U.S. law enforcement over the past year.  Don’t you think it’s time we changed the way law enforcement officers are trained to deal with such situations?  Don’t you think it’s time we hold police officers accountable for their actions?  I damn sure do!


Andrew Clyde once again crosses Filosofa’s radar

Freshman Representative Andrew Clyde from Georgia (the same state that sent Margie Greene to the House) has crossed my radar no less than three times in the past month.  First, he declared that the mob who attacked the Capitol on January 6th were just ‘normal tourists’ and that there was no insurrection.  Then he joined forces with the ignoble Louie Gohmert in filing a federal lawsuit claiming that the requirement to pass through a metal detector in the Capitol was in violation of his civil rights, or some such nonsense.  And third, he was one of the 14 racist members of the U.S. House of Representatives who refused to vote for the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act.  These newbies sure do know how to raise our hackles, don’t they?  They come into Congress, still wet behind the ears, and act like they know more than anybody else.

Anyway, Clyde has now set a new record by flying across my radar a fourth time in a period of a month.  This one is just downright disrespectful and as a human being, Mr. Clyde disgusts me.  Clyde voted against awarding police officers the Congressional Gold Medal for their bravery in protecting the U.S. Capitol against violent, pro-Trump rioters on January 6th, but it gets even worse than that.

Alexandria, VA – January 13: Michael Fanone, 40, is an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department that helped fend off rioters at the U.S. Capitol and was captured in a now viral video where he was dragged down stairs and beaten unconscious and suffered a heart attack. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Officer Michael Fanone was one of the more than 140 police officers who were injured that fateful day.  His injuries were severe – he was beaten unconscious and suffered a concussion and a heart attack.  Along with U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, Mr. Fanone came to Congress this week in an effort to meet with the 21 members of the House – all Republicans – who voted against awarding the officers the Congressional Gold Medal and tell their story about that day.  One of the first people Fanone ran into in the Capitol was Representative Andrew Clyde.  According to Fanone …

“I simply extended my hand and said, ‘How are you doing today, Congressman.’ I knew immediately he recognized me by the way he reacted. He completely froze. He just stared at me.  I said, ‘I’m sorry, you’re not going to shake my hand?  I’m sorry, sir, my name is Michael Fanone. I’m a D.C. police officer and I fought to defend the Capitol on Jan. 6.’  His response was nothing. He turned away from me, pulled out his cellphone and started thumbing through the apps.” 

What a disgusting piece of human flesh Mr. Clyde is!  Democrat or Republican, male or female, there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for such rudeness.  Georgia has sent to Congress at least two of the most disrespectful, horrible representatives that have ever walked the halls of the U.S. Capitol!  DO NOT send them back in 2022, Georgia!  And in the future, teach them some damn manners!

So, Andrew Clyde is now near the top of my list of the ten most horrible people in the Republican Party.

Juneteenth — Another Point Of View

While I have applauded the passage and presidential signing of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act and have chalked up most of the objections to both ignorance and racism, I did come across one thought-provoking OpEd.  This piece by a professor at Morehouse College, a historically Black liberal arts college in Atlanta, Georgia, makes some very valid points.  Professor Robert A. Brown is not against the Juneteenth holiday, but reminds us that declaring it a federal holiday is not the end goal, that there is much work to be done in this country yet before Blacks have true freedom and equality.  The phrase, ‘Talk is cheap, actions speak louder than words’ comes to mind as I read his words and ponder what he says …


Juneteenth As A National Holiday Is Symbolism Without Progress

June 19, 2021  6:00 AM ET

ROBERT A. BROWN

This week, President Biden signed into law the “Juneteenth National Independence Day.”

It is honoring the work of Black Americans, including people such as 94-year-old Civil Rights Activist Opal Lee, who had long advocated for the celebration that started in Galveston to be made a federal holiday.

Juneteenth celebrates the date when Union troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, on June 19th, 1865, bringing news that the Emancipation Proclamation had freed the enslaved population living in the Confederacy, albeit two years prior.

Yet the reaction amongst many African Americans, myself included, has been muted.

There is a growing discontent in the African American community with symbolic gestures that are presented as progress without any accompanying economic or structural change.

The vestiges of a shameful past continue

Though Juneteenth is a celebration of the people who endured slavery, the vestiges of slavery and the Jim Crow segregation designed to preserve it continue to this day.

As law professor Michelle Alexander notes, “There are more African American men in prison or jail, on probation or parole than were enslaved in 1850.”

The average white household holds almost 7 times more than the wealth of a Black household. Perhaps more concerning, education does little to close the Black-white wealth gap as white families headed by those without a college degree have more wealth than Black families headed by those with a graduate or professional degree.

And yet, in the face of these stark disparities, lawmakers have been more willing to engage in performative symbolism than passing laws to make substantive change.

We have seen federal lawmakers take a knee, draped in kente cloth, but we have seen no substantive change about reforming police brutality that inspired Colin Kaepernick’s initial protest.

Lift Every Voice and Sing” is sung across the country, while legislation for reparations for the horrors of slavery languish. Sports arenas and streets have the words “Black Lives Matter” emblazoned for all to see, and yet police reform and anti-lynching laws that were some of the initial goals of the Black Lives Matter movement remain unpassed.

What is needed are substantive steps

There are substantive steps that federal lawmakers could take to honor the historic debt owed to the descendants of the enslaved in addition to a federal holiday.

House Resolution 40 has called for a committee to study reparations. If advanced, it could ultimately begin a national discussion about cash reparations at the federal level.

Substantive reform to end the immunity police who brutalize our citizens should be enacted, as well as a reversal of the decades-long militarization of the police.

Historically Black colleges and universities, most of which were founded around the end of slavery, should receive substantial increases in federal funding.

In many ways, the history of Juneteenth and the end of U.S. slavery mirrors the uneven pace of progress for African Americans during the following 150 years.

I have celebrated Juneteenth at festivals that honor the culture and community of the descendants of those who had been enslaved. Those celebrations always featured a community singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” just like members of Congress did upon the signing of the Juneteenth holiday into law.

This year, while I’ll sing about being “full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” like many African Americans, I’ll be mindful that, as the song says, we must continue to fight on “till victory is won.”

The Catholic Church vs We The People

Karl Marx said of religion that it is the ‘opiate of the masses.’  In other words, it is the thing that keeps people in line, keeps them obeying rules that they are told by their respective churches are the rules of some higher power.  A disclaimer here:  While I am a non-believer, I fully respect the right of others to believe as they will so long as they do no harm and do not impose their beliefs on others.  But this is where the problem comes in.

I’ve railed long and loud about the evangelical Christians who would impose their will on us all if given half a chance.  They have cherry-picked their own religious tome and loudly proclaim those parts that suit their own conveniences, while ignoring other parts, such as “do unto others …”  But today, I am equally disgusted by the Catholic religion that is trying to do the exact same thing as the evangelicals, only on a grander scale.

From an article in The Washington Post

Catholic bishops on Friday voted to create guidelines on the meaning of Communion, a move that could be an early step toward limiting the serving of the Eucharist to President Biden and other politicians who support abortion rights.

The bishops voted 168 to 55 to punish the President and other politicos who support women’s rights. Let me tell you what this means in basic terms.  President Biden is a dedicated Catholic to whom receiving communion on Sundays is important.  This is a personal choice of his, he was raised in the Catholic church and is dedicated to his faith, as he has every right to be.  However, it IS a personal decision and cannot cross into his professional duties as President of the United States.  But this is exactly what the Catholic church is attempting to do … to threaten and bully our president into changing his stance on a critical human rights issue in order to appease the church.  BULLSHIT!

Make no mistake … the issue here and also with the evangelicals is not … I repeat NOT … about abortion per se.  The Catholic bishops and the evangelical leaders couldn’t care less about a fetus.  It is about women’s rights.  Period.  Back in the Dark Ages that ended only a couple of decades ago, women were considered chattel … they were dominated by males, were basically maids, cooks, and baby-making machines.  We finally got sick and tired of that status, rose up and demanded and fought for equal rights, and while we still aren’t quite to the point of being considered the equal of men, we’ve made one hell of a lot of progress, no thanks to most religions or church leaders.

President Biden is now faced with a decision … to obey the tenets of his church (new tenets, as it were, designed only to coerce him and other politicians who defend women’s rights) or to follow the will of We the People.  I have full confidence that President Biden will do the right thing, but sadly his personal religious life may never be the same.  A man (or someday, hopefully, a woman) should not be forced away from their religion in order to do their job!  They should not have to choose between their faith and their job!

The Catholic church, the various evangelical churches … they cannot be allowed to dictate whether or not women have the right to control their own bodies.  And isn’t it interesting that NONE of the churches seem to object to a man having a vasectomy, or conversely, a man asking his doctor for a prescription for Viagra so that he can … er … perform.  Again … women’s rights are on the chopping block if churches have their say.  Ask me again why I eschew religion, why I agree with Karl Marx, that religion is a tool that is used to suppress that which certain elements of society do not wish to allow.

What’s next?  Will the churches next demand that only men be allowed to vote?  Or that Blacks be relegated to the back of the bus once again?  Or that … well, use your imagination.  For every step forward we take, the religious right tries to shove us two steps back.

This nation has people of many different religions:  Muslim, Protestant, Hindu, Catholic, Mormon, Jewish, Buddhist, and others, as well as those of us who are agnostics or atheists.  We all pay taxes, we all vote, we all have the same constitutional rights.  The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state, which means that while people have the right to believe as they wish, no religion should define the laws that bind us all.  However, that is exactly what is happening when the U.S. Supreme Court rules discrimination is legal as has happened numerous times recently, the most notable case being the Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission case.

I rarely condemn a certain religion, but today I am condemning the Catholic church for trying to leverage our President to return women to a state of chattel.  Harsh?  Sure, but also true.  As a woman, I’ll be damned if I’ll sit back and let a bunch of old, white men who wear 10th century garb and funny things on their heads tell me what to do with my body, with my life.  Were I to see a priest at the grocery store today, I would likely aim a head of cabbage at his head!

Ask me again why I think religion sucks.

♫ Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ♫

Since today is Juneteenth, and a special celebration since it is now officially a federal holiday, I thought it only appropriate to play some Motown — in my book some of the best music produced in the U.S.!  Of course, since I feature Motown songs and artists pretty often in these posts, I’ve already played most of my favourites at one point or another … some of them twice.  This one I’ve played only once, two years ago in 2019, so it will be new to many of you.   And Happy Juneteenth!


Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an R&B/soul song written by the husband/wife songwriting team of Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson in 1966 for the Tamla label, a division of Motown.  Nick Ashford was inspired by an experience when he first moved to New York. He was walking down a Manhattan thoroughfare, determined that New York City would not get the best of him; the words “Ain’t no mountain high enough” popped into his head.

Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell recorded the original version, which peaked at #19 US in 1967. Uriel Jones of The Funk Brothers, who played the drums on Gaye and Terrell’s original version, recalled …

“Ashford and Simpson had written the song and they always came to the studio with charts. This time was no exception; they came with the song fully written out. The lyrics were written out too. They were one of the few producers and writers who had full charts and made us work from them. They knew 95 percent what they wanted to hear. Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua were the actual producers in charge of the recording. We did the rhythm track first, then they put the horns on second. Then they recorded Tammi Terrell’s vocal, then they did Marvin Gaye’s next. Each vocal was done separately, the singer in the studio with the producer on their own, and they put it all together at the end. You know, I never heard the finished song until I switched on the radio and it was playing.”

British soul singer Dusty Springfield wanted to record the song but Ashford & Simpson declined, hoping it would give them access to the Detroit-based label. As Valerie Simpson later recalled, “We played that song for her (Springfield) but wouldn’t give it to her, because we wanted to hold that back. We felt like that could be our entry to Motown.”

Diana Ross & The Supremes recorded a version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough which was more faithful to the Terrell-Gaye original version as a duet with The Temptations. That song was an album cut from a joint LP released by Motown Records in 1968 on the two superstar groups, titled Diana Ross & the Supremes Join The Temptations.

In spring 1970, after the Top 20 success of her first solo single, Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand), Ashford and Simpson had Ross re-record Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.

Motown chief Berry Gordy did not like the record upon first hearing it. He hated the spoken-word passages and wanted the song to begin with the climactic chorus/bridge. It was not until radio stations nationwide were editing their own versions and adding it to their playlists that Ashford and Simpson were able to convince Gordy to release an edited three-minute version as a single. Ross’ version of Ain’t No Mountain High Enough rose up to number one on both the pop and R&B singles charts. Ross received a Grammy nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.

I prefer the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell version, but the Diana Ross version is good, as well, so I proffer both!

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell

Listen baby, ain’t no mountain high
Ain’t no valley low, ain’t no river wide enough baby
If you need me call me no matter where you are
No matter how far don’t worry baby
Just call my name I’ll be there in a hurry
You don’t have to worry

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Remember the day I set you free
I told you you could always count on me darling
From that day on, I made a vow
I’ll be there when you want me
Some way, some how

‘Cause baby there ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Oh no darling
No wind, no rain
Or winters cold can stop me baby, na na baby
‘Cause you are my goal
If you’re ever in trouble
I’ll be there on the double
Just send for me, oh baby, ha

My love is alive
Way down in my heart
Although we are miles apart
If you ever need a helping hand
I’ll be there on the double
Just as fast as I can
Don’t you know that there

Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
To keep me from getting to you babe

Don’tcha know that there
Ain’t no mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough
Ain’t no river wide enough
Ain’t mountain high enough
Ain’t no valley low enough

Songwriters: Valerie Simpson / Nickolas Ashford
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Opal Lee — Grandmother Of Juneteenth

Look at this beautiful woman …

This is Opal Lee, age 94, and on this, the first time Juneteenth is being celebrated as an official U.S. holiday, I want to tell you a little bit about Ms. Lee who is known as the Grandmother of Juneteenth.  While yesterday I wrote a bit about the negativity of some racists toward the new holiday, Juneteenth, today I want to put aside the negative and focus on the positive … and the voice of Ms. Opal Lee.


When Opal Lee was growing up in Texas, she would spend Juneteenth picnicking with her family, first in Marshall, where she was born, then in Sycamore Park in Fort Worth, near the home she moved into at age 10.  Ms. Lee’s paternal grandmother was born into bondage in Louisiana, and while Ms. Lee, born in 1927, was not a slave, she felt the cruel edge of racism at a very early age.

She and her family lived in a predominantly white neighborhood in Fort Worth. On Juneteenth 1939, when Ms. Lee was 12, a mob of 500 white supremacists set fire to her home and vandalized it. The structure was destroyed, and no arrests were made.  Says Lee of that time …

“People gathered. The papers say that it was 500 strong, and that the police couldn’t control them. My dad came home with a gun, and the police told him if he busted a cap, they’d let that mob have him.  If they had given us an opportunity to stay there and be their neighbors, they would have found out we didn’t want any more than what they had – a decent place to stay, jobs that paid, to be able to go to school in the neighborhood, even if it was a segregated school. We would have made good neighbors, but they didn’t give us an opportunity. And I felt like everybody needs an opportunity.”

And that incident was the spark that lit Ms. Lee’s subsequent decades of activism.  Ms. Lee earned her college degree and became a teacher.  She joined the Tarrant County Black Historical and Genealogical Society, which oversaw local Juneteenth celebrations. But she said that after more than 40 years as a community activist, she “really doubled down in 2016” by “going bigger.”

At the tender age of 89, she decided to start with a walking campaign in cities along a route from her home in Fort Worth, Texas, to Washington, D.C. It wasn’t a straight line. Over several weeks, Lee arrived in cities where she’d been invited to speak and walked 2½ miles to symbolize the 2½ years that it took for enslaved people in Texas to learn they were free.  She made the entire 1,400-mile trek from Fort Worth, Texas to Washington D.C.

“I knew I just had to spread the word about Juneteenth to everybody.  I was thinking that surely, somebody would see a little old lady in tennis shoes trying to get to Congress and notice.”

Since then, Ms. Lee has become known far and wide as the Grandmother of Juneteenth.  So, it only made sense that on Thursday when President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, Ms. Opal Lee was invited to attend the signing.

Not only that, but the President himself called her “a grandmother of the movement to make Juneteenth a federal holiday” and got down on one knee to greet her in the audience.  During his speech before the signing, Biden asked the audience to give Lee, who was seated in the front row, a standing ovation.  And after he signed the bill into law, he gave Ms. Lee the first pen he used to sign it.

“I have to say to you, I have only been president for several months, but I think this will go down, for me, as one of the greatest honors I will have as president – not because I did it, you did it, Democrats and Republicans. It’s an enormous, enormous honor.”


What follows is a part of an interview between Ms. Lee and the New York Times last year on Juneteenth:

What is your first memory of celebrating Juneteenth?

It was in Marshall, Texas, where I was born. We’d go to the fairgrounds to celebrate. It was like going to Christmas or Thanksgiving, we had such a good time.

Some people still compare Independence Day to Juneteenth. How would you explain the type of freedom and community that comes from celebrating Juneteenth?

The difference between Juneteenth and the 4th of July? Woo, girl! The fact is none of us are free till we’re all free. Knowing that slaves didn’t get the word for two and a half years after the emancipation, can’t you imagine how those people felt? They’d been watching — that’s what they call Watch Night services — every New Year’s, thinking freedom was coming. And then to find out they were free, even two and a half years after everybody else.

So, the 4th of July? Slaves weren’t free. You know that, don’t you? And so we just celebrate the hell out of the 4th of July, so I suggest that if we’re going to do some celebrating of freedom, that we have our festival, our educational components, our music, from June the 19 — Juneteenth — to the 4th of July. Now that would be celebrating freedom.

How do you think the protests for Black lives that are happening around the country have shaped the way that people understand Juneteenth?

We have simply got to make people aware that none of us are free until we’re all free, and we aren’t free yet. There’s so many disparities. You know, we need some decent education and some decent jobs that pay money, and we need health care and all kinds of things and if people would just get together and address these disparities, we’d be well on our way to being the greatest country in the world.

Right now lots of companies are making Juneteenth an official holiday. How does it feel to see your vision coming to fruition?

Ooh girl, I could do a holy dance. I’m so happy to see things coming to fruition and the fact that we are almost there making it a holiday. We started out talking about 100,000 signatures and now we’re saying let’s take a million signatures to Congress to let them know that it’s not just one little old lady in tennis shoes.

I hope they understand that we’re talking about a holiday like Presidents’ Day or Flag Day. We’re not talking about a paid holiday. However, I’m delighted to have the big companies give their employees the day off with pay.

What changes do you hope to see in our country beyond having Juneteenth recognized on a national level?

If we would unify, if we would get together and do something about homelessness, and do something about people having decent housing, and decent food, and they would have not only a place to stay but a decent education.

If we could just love one another, you know? If you could get past the color of my skin and love me like you do that boy next door to you.


And those, my friends, are words for us all.  If Ms. Lee has one message for us it is that one – get past the colour of people’s skin and just love them!  Stop the hate, the violence, the petty bickering and … just love one another.  Life is too short to waste it with bigotry of any sort.  And on that note, I wish you all a very Happy Juneteenth!

Just Two Short Bits of Snarky

Yes, yes … Filosofa is still snarking and ranting … there is just so much wrong in this world, every bit of which could be so easily fixed with just the three ‘C’s – common sense, compassion, cooperation.  I did have more snippets than just these two short ones, but … I’m out of time, so I shall save them for later or tomorrow!  Gives you something to look forward to, eh?


Cosa Nostra rides again?

William Braddock is a Republican candidate from Florida who is hoping to be elected to fill the seat currently held by Democrat Charlie Crist, who is resigning to run for governor to (hopefully) replace the ignoble Ron DeSantis next year.  William Braddock is short on name recognition, but one thing he has plenty of is audacity.

Also running in that same GOP primary race is Anna Paulina Luna, an Air Force veteran who went on to become a conservative activist and won a crowded GOP primary in the state’s 13th Congressional District last year but lost the general election to Crist.

Apparently, Mr. Braddock has a unique plan for winning the Republican nomination next fall … kill off Ms. Luna!  Yes, you heard me right!  During a 30-minute call with a conservative activist, Braddock is heard saying the following …

“I really don’t want to have to end anybody’s life for the good of the people of the United States of America. That will break my heart. But if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. Luna is a f—ing speed bump in the road. She’s a dead squirrel you run over every day when you leave the neighborhood.”

And later in the conversation …

“I have access to a hit squad, too, Ukrainians and Russians. Don’t get caught out in public supporting Luna. … Luna’s gonna go down and I hope it’s by herself.”

And still more …

“My polling people are going to charge me $20,000 to do a poll right before the primary. And if the poll says Luna’s gonna win, she’s gonna be gone. She’s gonna disappear.  For the good of our country, we have to sacrifice the few. … For the better or the good of the majority of the people, we’ve got to sacrifice the few.”

My jaw dropped when I read this.  WHO THE HELL talks like that and hopes to win a seat to the U.S. Congress???  Does he fancy himself Don Corleone?  If so, he’s watched The Godfather a few too many times!  Even the mob don’t talk like that, especially in a phone call where they may be recorded!

This jackass belongs either in a mental institution or a prison cell, but definitely NOT in the U.S. House of Representatives!  Until reading this, I didn’t think it was possible to sink any lower than the likes of Margie Greene and Matt Gaetz, but obviously I was wrong!


DESTROY THE DAMN GUNS!!!!!!!!!!!

We’ve got another mass shooting here in the U.S., this time in Chicago.  I could give you the details, but you likely already know them, and … if you don’t, you can just Google “latest mass shooting”.  But, I will tell you that four human beings, people minding their own business, people who were husbands, wives, parents … are now dead, thanks to the gun culture in the not-so-United States.  Yesterday, I decided to check the local news for my own area, Cincinnati, Ohio.  I don’t often read the local news, but about once a week I try to catch up.

A few days ago, in a suburb a few miles from where I live, a little 6-year-old boy left his bicycle in a neighbor’s yard.  When he went back to retrieve it a while later, the neighbor shot him.  The little boy will be okay, the shot went straight through his arm, but WHO THE HELL SHOOTS A KID for nothing more than leaving his bike in their yard?????????

And on Sunday night, in another subdivision that is just a few miles from where I live, two children – a 6-year-old and an 8-year-old – were shot, as well as two teenagers.  Both of the younger children, last I heard, were in critical condition, while the teens suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  Again, the details are irrelevant, but what is relevant is that 4 young lives were nearly snuffed out, two may yet die, and FOR WHAT????

DESTROY THE DAMN GUNS, PEOPLE!!!  I’M SICK AND DAMN TIRED OF PEOPLE DYING BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE THINK THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO OWN A KILLING MACHINE.  THEY DON’T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!