A Few Mini-Rants …

I am growling today.  Every headline I read raises my hackles and makes me wish I had never heard of the United States, let alone have to live here.  Typically, I blame 90% of it on Donald Trump, and certainly he deserves the lion share, but I also have to blame the blind 40% of this nation that still … STILL … after the corruption, the childish temper tantrums, the shredding of the Constitution and the ill will he’s brought from our allies … they STILL effing love him!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …


Ditch the veggies – give the kids burgers instead!

Donald Trump’s main mission in life, it would seem, is to attempt to erase President Obama from the annals of history.  It must be miserable to be so jealous of one man.  Granted, Obama was far wiser, much better looking, had integrity, dignity, spoke well, and had a genuinely beautiful family … all those things that Trump lacks.  But, his envy is costing us in so many ways.  First, there was the rollback of all the environmental regulations that had been put in place during Obama’s tenure to try to do our part to combat climate change.  Then, there was the rollback of law enforcement oversight to try to better screen and train law enforcement officers as we hoped to reduce the tragic shootings by police of unarmed black men.  Then there was the utterly ludicrous pulling out of the Paris Accords and the terrible decision to leave our allies holding the bag on the Iran nuclear deal.  And all for one reason and one reason only:  because he is jealous of President Obama.  But this latest …

You may remember that Michelle Obama’s key initiative during her time as First Lady was fighting childhood obesity and providing better nutrition in school meals.  A worthy endeavour, indeed.  Well, that’s the latest thing being rolled back.  Yes, pick your jaws up off the floor, but the USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps proposed new rules for the Food and Nutrition Service that would allow schools to cut the amount of vegetables and fruits required at lunch and breakfasts while giving them license to sell more pizza, burgers and fries to students.

Why, you ask?  Well, the gobblety-gook explanation Mr. Lipps gave was something about having to provide students with two bananas to meet dietary guidelines.  Okay … sooooo … bananas are cheap … what’s the problem?  Well, the real problem is that it was under Obama that we began taking school nutrition seriously, and both Obamas were instrumental in providing more healthy foods and less fat to kids in school.  Can’t have that now, can we.

Another likely reason is the potato lobby that has been pushing for this change, and that the potato industry was behind a change that happened quietly last March making it easier to substitute potatoes for some fruit in weekly breakfast menus.  Once again, corporate profit over the well-being of people.  Sigh.


Senator Martha McSally, bitch extraordinaire

The incident in and of itself was bad enough.  A CNN reporter, Manu Raju, asked Senator McSally a legitimate question …

Raju: Senator McSally, should the Senate consider new evidence as part of the impeachment trial?

McSally: You’re a liberal hack. I’m not talking to you.

Raju: You’re not going to comment, Senator?

McSally: You’re a liberal hack, buddy.

Whoa!  McSally is quite a step down from her predecessor, the late Senator John McCain.  McCain once interjected when, at a campaign event while he was running against Barack Obama, a fan was being critical of Obama, calling him an “Arab” among other things.  McCain did not let the woman finish, but took the microphone from her and said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man, citizen, that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign issue is all about.”  And here is his successor calling a reporter a ‘liberal hack’ simply because he asked a very valid question.  Yes, that would have been bad enough, but …

McSally was so proud of her behaviour that she put a video of the incident on Twitter.  And, McSally’s re-election campaign is already using the incident as a fund-raising tool!

McSally-tweet

Now, McSally faces re-election later this year, as she was only appointed to finish the term vacated by reason of John McCain’s death.  She ran for the other Senate seat from Arizona in 2018, but lost to Kyrsten Sinema.  And, she wasn’t even Governor Doug Ducey’s first choice to fill McCain’s seat … he initially chose Jon Kyl, but Kyl resigned due to health concerns.  With such low values as she has shown, I don’t care if it’s Moe from the Three Stooges running against her, I hope she loses big-time.  Where is the decency in politics today???  Oh … I guess she’s just following this example …Trump-mocking-reporter


A great bunch of people … NOT!

Yesterday, Trump announced that Alan Dershowitz; Ken Starr, the independent counsel during President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial; former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi; as well as  Robert Ray, who succeeded Starr at the Office of the Independent Counsel during the Clinton administration; and Jane Raskin, who helped defend Trump during the Mueller probe, would join White House counsel Pat Cipollone and Trump’s personal attorney Jay Sekulow in defending the president on the Senate floor.

I don’t know much about some of them, but let me share with you what I do know.  For one thing, Dershowitz, Starr, and Ray have made roughly 300 appearances on Fox News in the past year, which should tell you something about their integrity right there.

Ken Starr was named the 14th president of Baylor University in Waco in 2010 and chancellor in 2013. After the mishandling of campus sexual assault allegations, he was ousted as president in 2016 and resigned as chancellor and law professor shortly after, cutting all ties with the university.

Alan Dershowitz defended Trump’s ol’ buddy Jeffrey Epstein in his sex abuse cases, and was himself accused by no less than three women.

Pam Bondi was Florida State Attorney General back in 2013 when her office was investigating the now-defunct Trump University on charges of fraud.  Donald Trump wrote a check for $25,000 to Bondi’s re-election campaign and suddenly there was no longer an investigation.

So, Trump has a fine, upstanding legal team.  Doesn’t matter, does it, since the jury reached their decision before there was even a case to try.  Welcome to the tinpot dictatorship of America.


I shall now retire to my dark tower to growl in private and practice howling at the moon.  Have a fine weekend, if you can.

Good People Doing Good Things — Eva & Linda

Today is Wednesday, and you know what that means!  Time to look around at some of the good people in this world who are doing good things to help other.  I have only two today … not that I couldn’t find more, for I could … but I got a bit carried away with these two and ran out of time and space.  But, I think you’ll love these two women!


Eva Gordon of Seattle, Washington, lived to be 105 years old!  Sadly, Eva died last June, but … many will have reason to remember her for much longer.  Let me tell you just a little bit about Ms. Gordon.

She was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon, and though she very much wished to attend college, it was the height of the Great Depression, and the money simply wasn’t there. Eventually she moved to Seattle where she took a job as a trading assistant at an investment firm.  She was a frugal woman, salting away whatever she could, saving for a rainy day.  Early in her career, she began investing in a small way, buying partial shares in oil companies and other industries; when Nordstrom went public, Ms. Gordon was one of the earliest investors. She also invested in Seattle utility companies.

In 1964, when she was in her 50s, she married Ed Gordon, a Navy pilot-turned-stockbroker.  They had no children, but were always close to Ms. Gordon’s godson, John Jacobs, a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley in Seattle.  In her early years in Seattle, Eva had shared a room with Jacob’s mother and the two became close friends.Eva-Ed-GordonEd Gordon died in 2008, and Eva continued just as she always had with her frugal ways.  And so it was that when Eva died last June, nobody realized the wealth she had amassed.  So much, in fact, that she left $10 million to be split among multiple technical and community colleges in King and Pierce Counties in Washington.  According to Jacobs, who represents her estate …

“A lot of people didn’t know the wealth she had. If there was a coupon for two-for-one at Applebee’s, she was all about that. She liked seeing students working, earning and doing things. Her goal was to provide an opportunity for those folks who could ill-afford it, whether vocational training or an academic skill.”

Jacobs informed the schools that while there are no stipulations in Gordon’s will and testament for how the money should be used, she expressed her preference for the money to help the disadvantaged students of her adopted home state.

Each of 17 colleges will receive approximately $550,000.  This isn’t the case of some wealthy philanthropist sharing some of his wealth … this is a woman who lived frugally, clipped coupons, and saved her money so that when she died she could help others have the education she was denied.

Thanks to Scott Lawlor for sending me this story!


Linda Herring is a spring chicken at age 75, as compared to Eva Gordon, but Linda gets to share this week’s ‘good people’ spotlight because in her 75 years, she has been a foster parent to … wait for it … more than 600 children!

Herring and her husband Bob began taking in foster children some 50 years ago …

“My best friend was doing foster care for teenage girls and I thought, ‘Well, that would be nice to do the same,’ but I wanted little kids. So, I talked to the Department of Human Services and agreed to take kids with medical needs.”

As a foster mom, Herring ran a home daycare for local families and worked as a night custodian in a nearby high school. If that wasn’t enough, she also volunteered as a first responder for nearly 50 years.

Herring was known by everyone in Johnson County, Iowa, for never turning away a child, no matter their age, gender, or special needs, and would regularly travel to pick up foster children who needed a home.

Linda and Bob adopted three of their foster children, adding to their five biological children.  Two of Herring’s adopted foster children have severe medical and special needs. One of them, Dani, is fully dependent on others for care. While Dani wasn’t expected to live long after her birth, she is now 29 years old.

Herring passed on what she likes to call her “foster care trait.” Four of her biological children have fostered children, and three of them followed their parents’ footsteps and adopted kids of their own. Three of her grandchildren fostered children as well.  This is the great thing about good people … they inspire others to become good people too!Linda-Herring-2.jpegAccording to her son, Anthony …

“She also worked hard to keep families together. Keeping siblings together. Helping biological parents make the changes needed to be able to keep their children. She always makes sure a new child in her home was given a professional photograph that was placed on the wall in the living room. That seems like a small thing, but it helps them feel like they’re at home.”

When it comes to Herring’s inspiration to foster children, she had one explanation: love.

“I would just love my foster kids just like they were my own, probably more than I should. I cried when the kids would leave my home, no matter how long they had been there. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to them. I always questioned, ‘Why do I keep doing this?’ because it was never easy to say goodbye to a child. But I kept doing it because I had so much love to give to these children in need.”

Last October Herring chose to stop fostering children due to health concerns.  After announcing her decision to stop, Herring was honored by the Johnson County (Iowa) Board of Supervisors, with a resolution of appreciation.

“The Department of Human Services would call Linda in the middle of the night to take a child, and she would meet anywhere to get a child. Linda mostly fostered young children with special medical needs and kept bins of clothes in her garage, stacked to the ceiling, labeled by size and gender. No one had to worry about a child going without clothes at Linda’s, even if they arrived with nothing but what they’re wearing.”

Linda-HerringWhile Herring’s time as a foster parent is over, she enjoys the photos and cards she receives from the children she fostered after they’ve been adopted. Her favorite part is when her foster children come back to visit after they’ve grown up.

I raised three children and I can tell you that alone exhausted me … I am in awe of this woman who gave of herself so selflessly and tirelessly.  Two thumbs up to Linda Herring!  👍👍


A bit of a bonus today … after I finished this post, I was trying to catch up on friends’ blogs, and came across two who had posted something about good people, so I am including a link to JoAnna’s and Bee’s posts!  Thank you both for adding to the good news of the day!


I hope the tales of Eva and Linda have brightened your day just a bit, helped you remember that there are a lot of people out there giving so much, whether money or time or just love.  And remember, folks, let’s all try to do our part to be a good people, ‘k?

Thought-Provoking Words

Until just a couple of weeks ago, I had not, that I can recall, heard of Umair Haque.  Then, our friend David sent me a piece by him that I found to be thoughtful and thought-provoking, so I did a bit of research on the man.  Umair is a London-based consultant, and author of at least three books1.  I read several articles by him, in addition to the one David sent, until Medium, where he publishes, told me I had reached my limit of free articles.  While I do not necessarily agree with all he says … after much pondering, I mostly agree.  I have highlighted in red the parts that really made me sit up and take note.  Please read the following and give it some thought.  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.


Umair-Haque

Umair Haque

Here’s a tiny observation. Forgive me. You might not like it.

I’ve seen many countries collapse. Pakistan. Afghanistan. The Soviet Union. Turkey. Iran. Sri Lanka. Egypt. Some, first-hand. Some from afar, through the eyes of friends and colleagues.

But I’ve never seen a country collapse as fast, as severely, and as hard as America is.

America’s collapsing at an unprecedented rate. Light-speed. Terminal velocity. Turbo-charged implosion. I don’t think a country has collapsed as fast as America — maybe not in all of history. Especially not a rich and powerful one. Rome took centuries. The Soviet Union’s took decades, and it’s still rolling on. Maybe only small countries which had never really built strong institutions, barely-democracies, have I seen crash this fast, hard, and badly — but that’s the point. American collapse is something unique in modern history.

Of course, that’s a subjective judgment — we don’t have an objective speedometer for the collapse of societies. But that is what this essay will be about. To show you, a little bit, what leads me to the idea that America’s crashing and burning at light speed. I want to take a moment to share what I see, by pinning down precisely what I mean by collapse.

First, of course, there is political collapse. From democracy to autocracy, kleptocracy, and authoritarianism. America’s political institutions simply don’t function anymore. It’s [sic] democracy doesn’t represent the 70% of people who want functioning healthcare, gun control, education, safety nets — but only the 25–30% of immovable extremists who apparently want to live in the Handmaid’s Tale meets 1984 by way of Mein Kampf. Its rule of law has devolved to mass trials and mass disappearances and mothers being separated from their kids at the border. It’s critical systems of governance are so broken that 5000 people died from negligence after…a storm.

The American polity doesn’t resemble the French or German one — in fact, it looks very much like the Pakistani polity, the Saudi, or maybe the Soviet polity. It is completely and utterly dysfunctional, to a degree that is unimaginable among its rich peers. And all that took perhaps a decade or two.

Then there is cultural collapse — from a culture of thought, reason, and accomplishment, to one of superstition, violence, and extremism . Kids shoot one another in schools regularly. People die for a lack of basic medicines like insulin — and the average American appears not to know that insulin doesn’t cost $1000 a month, but pennies, even in the world’s poorest countries. Why is that? It is because the are misinformed and kept ignorant by a media that feeds them a diet of Ancient Aliens and Paranormal Files. Hence, what should be a functioning culture is now rife with dark age style superstition.

Vaccinate my kids? No way! Never mind that humanity only eradicated smallpox in 1977. But vaccination is the least of America’s descent into superstition: then there is conspiracy theory, “truth” movements, a kind of hypocritical religious fundamentalism that’s quite happy to let kids shoot each other, bigotry, supremacism. And among the professional classes who look down on that, there is a culture of overwork and abuse and greed and cruelty — followed by lowest-common-denominator consumerism as a salve for the wounds of its emptiness. All these things rising are a function of a culture that fails to educate, inform, connect, or bond people together anymore.

A culture’s role is to help people makes sense of the world, as Marcel Mauss once argued — but American culture appears only to drive people into a kind of madness, either a frenzy of violence, a paralytic resignation, or a blind rage of fear and ignorance now. How fast did that happen? Well, it didn’t seem to do that so much even a decade ago, did it?

Then there is social collapse — from a modern society of broad-based prosperity, to something more like a dystopian caste society, where each stratum bitterly resents the next, and tries to pull it down, no one lifting anyone else up. The structure of American society is not that of a healthy society any longer. A once prosperous middle class has imploded into a new poor — while a tiny number of rich grew ultra rich. American society now resembles something more like Latin America in its darker times, Egypt, or Pakistan, perhaps. But even that understates the issue, because in America, trust imploded. People don’t trust institutions. They don’t trust society. They don’t trust their neighbours. Social bonds have completely imploded — predatory capitalism’s dream of a disintegrated society of atomized human commodities has finally come true.

As a result, of social bonds imploding, norms and rules no longer appear to work at all in America. Kids shooting each other? Ah, that’s terrible — but what can you do? Shrug. Every day brings a fresh scandal — this TV star is a supremacist, that celebrity is a bigot, that politician is a wife-beater ,and so on. How far have norms of decency shattered? There is an open pedophile and rapist running for public office.2 I don’t think that has happened anywhere in the modern world, ever, so far as I know. Not even in Pakistan, Iran, or Rwanda. And it would have been unimaginable even in the America of the 2000s.

Then there is economic collapse — from modernity’s rising living standards to a new kind of poverty. America has pioneered a new kind of impoverishment — precarity, living at the knife’s edge, in constant anxiety and panic and trauma. The average person has less than $500 in emergency savings. His or her income has been stagnant for decades — and even that economic “number” vastly understates the issue, because while their parents had jobs with benefits, pensions, retirements, protections, they have none of those things. Meanwhile, the price of the basics of life — healthcare, education, finance, food, housing — has exploded, skyrocketed, gone supernova.

How much? So much so that just the hospital bill for having a child costs half of median income. Who can afford to live a decent life in a society like that? Not even in Pakistan, Iran, or Afghanistan does having a child cost so much. Not even in severely broken countries do relatively well off people face so constantly the plight of living every day right at the razor’s edge — there, they have, at least, informal safety nets, family support systems, communities to shield them, and public goods to protect them. But Americans have none of these — because predatory capitalism has reduced them to prey.

For all these reasons, the average American has no optimism left in the future. He doesn’t believe that his children will live a better life. He is right, sadly. And that is because America is now collapsing at terminal velocity — faster than any society in history, as far as I can tell.

And I think that while Americans have a sense things are breaking down around them, they don’t really understand — because they aren’t often told — that a) this is the real thing, genuine collapse b) it is happening not slower or better than elsewhere, but in fact far faster, worse and harder, and c) because it is happening so fast, there is added to the constant stress of predatory capitalism, the heart-stopping turmoil of all these kinds of collapse, political, cultural, social, and economic.

Terminal velocity. So what happens when a society hits the ground? Usually, like anything, it shatters, breaks, and explodes.

Umair
June 2018

Text dividers

1 The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business (2011); Betterness: Economics for Humans (2011); Why Are Europeans (So Much) Happier Than Americans? (2019)

2 The pedophile and rapist running for office was Nathan Larson, who in 2018 was running for election to Congress from the 10th congressional district of Virginia, an election he lost by a landslide.  Larson served 14 months in prison for the felony of threatening President George W. Bush’s life.

The Great Debate … #5

I just finished watching most of tonight’s Democratic debate (I had to take a 15-minute break to roll a pack of smokes).  This is the first of the debates this year that I have watched for a number of reasons.  One, when there were 20 candidates on the debate stage, it seemed pointless.  No way was any candidate going to be able to have enough time for us to get a good feel for his/her platform, ideas, and persona.  Second, I actually hate watching debates.  Why?  Because I do not like to see the infighting that typically takes place … the sly remarks, the arguing, the cutting of other candidates.  Third, because as a rule, I see little value in them … it often turns into more of a personality contest than an actual presentation of ideas.  Tonight, the field was narrowed to a more manageable, though still twice as large as it should be, number of candidates (10), the infighting wasn’t too bad, and I came away with a somewhat better idea of the differences between the candidate’s platforms.  I wanted to share my (unsolicited) thoughts about the debate while it is fresh in my mind, for by tomorrow I will have forgotten half of my impressions.

Overall, my biggest complaint about the debate topics was the omission, once again, of any meaningful discussion about climate change.  It was touched on briefly, but far too little relative to its importance, and only in the most general of ways.

The candidates, in my order of least to most likely to win the nomination (I have included links to their Politico profile which includes their platform):

Tom Steyer speaks well, has some good ideas such as term limits for Congress, and is an environmentalist.  He is not, however, qualified to be president of the United States.  He is a billionaire businessman … we do not need another of those.  He stands no chance and would be doing the nation a favour by dropping out, so that future debates can focus on the more viable candidates.

I found Tulsi Gabbard to be incredibly arrogant and combative.  Gabbard is a veteran of the Iraq War, and I respect that.  But, she has been highly critical of such people as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic Party in general, while cozying up to the likes of Steve Bannon, and has among her fans, the ignominious Tucker Carlson.  She struck me as somehow ‘false’, not genuine. She is polling very low and, like Steyer, would be better off dropping out.

Amy Klobuchar has some very good ideas, such as ending Citizen’s United (one of my top priorities), and is well-spoken, but something about her bothered me, and quite honestly, I don’t know what it was.  She had one line, however, that brought the house down and had me laughing out loud:  “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.”  That line alone should bring her up a few points in the polls!  I have mixed thoughts about Klobuchar, however since I don’t expect to see her in the top 3, I’m not going to overthink it.

This was the first time I really took much notice of Andrew Yang, and I liked what I saw and heard.  He was very down-to-earth, his humanitarianism seemed genuine, and he came across as very intelligent.  However, he has no government experience of any sort, is an entrepreneur, and that just simply falls short of the qualifications in my book.  It might not have three years ago, but after the experience of the current administration, I want somebody in office who at least halfway knows what they’re doing and how our government operates.

Kamala Harris has always impressed me, and tonight was no exception.  She has some experience in government at both state and federal levels, having been the Attorney General of California for 6 years, San Francisco District Attorney for 7 years, and has currently served as a U.S. Senator from California since 2017.  She speaks with passion, intelligence, and I found nothing in her platform that I disagreed with.

I like Cory Booker.  No, I don’t think he stands a snowball’s chance, but I like him, like his ideas, his platform, and think that while maybe 2020 isn’t his time, perhaps 2028 might be.  I disagreed with him on one thing, that he is against increasing taxes on the wealthy, though he said he definitely does support estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and he agreed that the nation needs to find additional sources of revenue.  He was friendly, congenial to the other candidates, and his closing statement brought a tear to my eyes when he noted that Representative John Lewis, a hero in my book, was in the audience and referred to Mr. Lewis’ civil rights heroism of the 1960s.

Pete Buttigieg was ranked as one of the debate ‘winners’ by The Washington Post, and I would agree.  He is intelligent, and while his governing experience is limited to being Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012, it is certainly more than the current president has.  He speaks well, has some good points, such as in the areas of housing, minimum wage, and education.  He took some guff tonight, as was expected given that he has been rising in the polls of late.  I rank Mayor Pete fourth of the ten remaining candidates.

Which brings us to the top three.  I truly cannot rank these as #1, #2, #3, because they are all excellent candidates and I am very much torn between the three, yet all three have the same Achilles Heel … their age.

bernie_palestine_debateBernie Sanders did a great job tonight.  He was passionate, spoke with strength and compassion, had all the right answers, in my book.  He had many good moments in the debate, but I think the one that received the warmest audience response was when he said, “It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel. But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve.”  The concern with Bernie Sanders is his age and health.  He is 78 years old and recently suffered a heart attack.

Elizabeth Warren had the most speaking time on the debate stage, and I absolutely loved the passion with which she spoke, not to mention that I always like her ideology.  One of the most controversial topics was Medicare-for-All.  I liked many of the ideas that were floated, but I think perhaps I liked Warren’s best, for hers was to phase it in over a three-year period in order to have time to work out the kinks, and to give people time to “feel it and taste it and live with it”.  As with Bernie Sanders, her age is a factor, at 70.

I have thought, since the beginning of this never-ending campaign season, that Joe Biden is the most viable candidate, and … I still think that, with reservations.  Biden, obviously, has the most relevant experience, and he is more moderate than some of the others that I like.  The sad truth is that next year’s presidential election is not about any issues … it’s not about climate change, health care, education, foreign policy, housing, or any of the other issues.  It is about one thing and one thing only:  Who can beat Donald Trump.  Everything else is secondary.  Biden is, of the ten remaining candidates, the most qualified, and the most ‘trusted’, for he is a known factor, while the others are unknowns, relatively speaking.  Biden would be a good president.  However, as far as the debates, I must admit that relative to almost all the others, Joe Biden was not exciting … in fact, he damn near put me to sleep. Additionally, Biden gets cantankerous when challenged … not a good thing.  At the moment, I think he is the best choice to beat Trump, but … for a number of reasons, that may change.

The most recent polls …

Candidate Economist/YouGove Politico/Morning Consult
Biden 30 32
Warren 22 17
Sanders 12 20
Buttigieg 9 8
Harris 4 5
Bloomberg 0 3
Yang 2 3
Gabbard 3 2
Klobuchar 2 2
Booker 1 2
Steyer 1 1

Overall, the debate was worth watching, and I was glad I did.  I’ll likely watch one or two more if I can.  Though it wasn’t captioned, the audio quality was excellent, and I had no trouble hearing the candidates.  I would like to see the next one, which I believe is later this month, whittled down to five candidates, but I am not holding my breath there.  The candidates engaged in a bit of humour from time to time, which helped, and I chuckled aloud more than once, ‘til finally daughter Chris asked what the heck I was watching!

I will have more on the candidates and their platforms in the coming weeks/months, but those are my thoughts about tonight’s debate.  It’s gonna be a loooooooooonnnngg 12 months, my friends.

Snarky Snippets, Volume #105

That’s right, folks, this is the 105th  version of Snarky Snippets!!!  The concept started as just one post on a day that I didn’t have a major topic, but had several little things I wanted to write about.  Several commentors suggested I should do this more often, so I began writing snarky snippets once a week or so.  Nowadays, however, it is more like 3-4 times a week!  This morning I wondered if I had done one hundred yet, so I did a quick keyword search and came up with 104, making this the 105th!  I start with some rather cheering news to kick off the weekend …


Roger goes down in flames!

roger-stoneWell, folks, you know how Trump has said that the Mueller investigation into the ways in which Russia interfered with our 2016 election and who may have been involved within Trump’s campaign, is naught but a ‘hoax’, a ‘witch hunt’, and that nobody has been convicted of anything?  WRONG!  Just this morning, Trump’s long-time friend, ally and former aide was convicted on all seven felony counts with which he had been charged!  ALL SEVEN!

The friendship between Stone and Trump dates back more than 40 years.  Does anybody really believe that Stone was involved, but that Trump knew nothing about it?  I don’t.  Trump did not testify in person in the Mueller investigation, but rather submitted answers in writing to the questions posed by Mueller and his team.  In one such answer, he claimed that he could not recall the specifics of any of 21 conversations he had with Mr. Stone in the six months before the election.

Stone is the sixth individual to be convicted on charges stemming from the Mueller investigation.  The others are:

  • Rick Gates, Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman
  • Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor
  • Michael Cohen, Trump’s former longtime attorney and “fixer”
  • George Papadopoulos, a former Trump campaign aide
  • Paul Manafort, Stone’s former partner

Stone-orange-suitRemember how, after the Mueller report was released and Attorney General William Barr gave his misleading summation of the report, Trump kept screeching, “No obstruction, No collusion!”  It was a lie then, we all knew it was a lie, and Stone’s conviction proves the lie.  I wonder what ol’ Trumpie will have to say now?

Stone’s sentencing will be interesting.  On one count alone, he could face up to 20 years, which at age 67 could amount to a life sentence.  It is anticipated that he will receive a lighter sentence, but then again … remember when he posted a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson with the cross hairs of a gun near her head?  Might not go so well for him after all.roger-stone


Ohio wants to “Make America Stupid Again”

Most days, I am ashamed to say that I live in the state of Ohio.  Like any other state, it has its ups and downs, but since the state’s electoral votes went for Trump in 2016, I would just as soon live in Bangladesh or somewhere.  Today’s latest had me picking up my jaw from the floor where it had dropped.

A proposal in Ohio would allow students to be exempted from answering questions correctly in school if their wrong answers conform with their personal religious beliefs.  In essence, a student wouldn’t be penalized if their answers were scientifically wrong, even if they’re in a science class or science-based school.

In part, the bill reads that no school “shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments.”  So, for example, if a young person answers on a test that the earth is flat, his/her answer cannot be counted wrong as long as he or she claims it is what is taught by their religion???  Science is factual, not subject to the whims of one religion or another.  The U.S. Constitution calls for a separation of church and state.  This bill is discriminatory, for if two children both get the answer to question #14 wrong, but one claims it was a result of her religious beliefs, then she will not have it counted against her, while the other will.  Discrimination!

The proposal has already been passed as a bill in the Ohio state House of Representatives. It now goes to the Republican-led Senate, where, if passed, it would move onto Republican Governor Mike DeWine’s office for his signature.  I swear if this one passes, I’m moving to a different state!


Only in Kentucky …

I have a number of friends who live in Kentucky, so I am not putting down the state per se, but let’s face it, this is the state that keeps sending Mitch McConnell back to the Senate time and time again … says something, don’t you think?

Well, this latest has nothing to do with politics, but it crossed my radar last night and I let out a WTF before I could catch myself.  The headline reads …

Kentucky man wins 3-year court battle to put ‘IM GOD’ on license plate

Back in 2016, the man, one Ben Hart, ordered personalized plates, otherwise known as ‘vanity plates’ for obvious reasons.  He requested the plates read “IM GOD”, but was turned down by the state Department of Transportation.  Some things are just deemed to be inappropriate.  Most people would have just picked something else, or given up on the personalized plates altogether, but not Ben Hart.

He took the state to court, aided by the American Civil Liberties Union in Kentucky and the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  Three years this has been in process, until finally on Wednesday a U.S. District Court judge in Frankfort ruled in favor of Hart, saying personalized license plates are private speech, and protected under the 1st Amendment. 🙄

ben-hartI wonder how much money was spent on this foolishness?


Well, folks, that’s a wrap for today’s episode of Snarky Snippets!  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Will The Court Do The Right Thing?

Nearly a million young people may soon find themselves adrift, without a home or a job, and yet it is barely a blip on the radar, lost in the hoopla surrounding the impeachment proceedings.  Granted, the impeachment of a corrupt president is high priority, is perhaps the most important thing happening in this nation at the moment.  But, the lives of 700,000+ young people are pretty important, too.

Imagine you came to this country as a very young child … your first memories are of life in the United States.  You speak English, you went to school in this country, got an after-school job when you were 16, graduated high school with honours, and now you’re in college, studying to become a doctor, a teacher, or an accountant.  Your grades have earned you a partial scholarship, you are working nights at a food processing plant … and tomorrow it could all be taken away.  You could lose your job, be kicked out of school, and in fact be deported.

Deported?  To where?  You’ve never been outside the U.S. in your conscious memory!  This is your home!  You know nobody in the country of your parents’ origin.  What will you do?  How will you live?  You barely even speak Spanish!  And why?  What have you done wrong?  You’ve never even had so much as a parking ticket … you’ve lived your life well, respecting others, respecting the country that gave your family the opportunity for a better life.

More than 700,000 young people may face this situation soon, if he Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favour on the issue of ending DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy that has been in effect since 2012.  Yesterday, the Court heard arguments from both sides, and indications are that they will likely rule in Trump’s favour.

In 2012, President Barack Obama introduced the program, which shields people who were brought to the United States as children from deportation. It was intended as a stopgap measure, and didn’t provide a pathway to citizenship. But it did allow participants, known as Dreamers, to get work permits, and in some states, including California, to access in-state tuition and legally drive. Dreamers can renew their status in two-year intervals.

To be eligible for DACA status, applicants had to show that they had arrived in the United States before they turned 16 and were no older than 30, had lived in the United States for at least the previous five years, were a high school graduate or a veteran, and had committed no serious crimes. The status lasts for two years, allows recipients to work legally and is renewable, but it does not provide a path to citizenship.

In 2017, for reasons I cannot understand, Trump decided to end the program.  Trump had previously indicated his support for DACA, but it was the work of white supremacist Stephen Miller and racist former Attorney General Jeff Sessions that convinced Trump to end the program.  They claimed that the program was illegal and unconstitutional, and apparently Trump, never having read the Constitution, decided to end the program.  In his formal announcement to end the program, Trump wrote …

“I do not favor punishing children. The program is unlawful and unconstitutional and cannot be successfully defended in court.”

However, it has been successfully defended in court, not once, not twice, but three times.  Three federal appeals courts have ruled that when an administration revokes a policy like this, on which so many people, businesses and even the U.S. economy have relied, the administration must provide a fully supported rationale that weighs the pros and cons of the program, the costs and the benefits. Faced with those lower court decisions, the Trump administration appealed to the Supreme Court, where it now awaits its fate.

These young people have faced discrimination that nobody reading this post has likely ever faced. They are banned from many colleges, are not eligible for any federal grants or loans, and in most states,  they cannot even qualify for in-state tuition.  And yet thousands of them have graduated from college in the United States. How do they do it? The motivation of many of these students is so strong it is almost absurd.  And if Trump has his way, it may well be a death sentence for many of the 700,000.

Maria Nava, who graduated from high school in 2003, received no state aid. But her generous sister promised to contribute her own earnings to help put Nava through college. Trouble was, their combined earnings weren’t much. Nava used up the small private scholarships she earned as a top-ranking student. Most semesters, the sisters could afford just one class at Nava’s local community college. One class at a time. Nava graduated from her two-year college in 11 years.

If the Supreme Court overturns lower court injunctions and says Trump followed the law in rescinding DACA, not one of these amazing, accomplished young people will be able to work for a law-abiding employer in the United States.  After Nava’s 11 years at a two-year college, after more than 8,000 DACA teachers have been hired by U.S. school systems, after 14,000 DACA nurses and other professionals got jobs in health care — all who have jobs will have to be fired when their DACA expires. Those who are students will be ineligible for a job with a law-abiding employer.

I sincerely hope that there are five justices on the Supreme Court who have not exchanged their conscience for partisanship.  If the Court sides with Donald Trump & Stephen Miller on this issue, we will know that the Judiciary Branch of our government is no longer an independent, non-partisan branch, but rather an extension of the Executive Branch, currently led by a bigoted, corrupt, wanna-be dictator.

Jolly Monday Wishes A Happy Birthday To Sesame Street!!!

Welcome to another episode of Jolly Monday on this cold Monday morn.  This is a special day in many ways, but one of those ways is that it is Remembrance Day (Canada and the Commonwealth countries) and Veteran’s Day (in the U.S.), a day to remember and honour those who died while in military service.  I’ll have more about that in a later post today, but I just wanted to mention it here.  Well, toss your coats over there, and grab a nice hot drink and a snack off the table, for I have a couple of cool things to bring smiles to those blue lips this morning!

fruit              autumn-cookiescroissants

Sorry guys, no bacon today!  I forgot to buy any, and I used the last of it last week!


🎈 Happy Birthday Sesame Street!!! 🎈

The anniversary was actually yesterday, November 10th, but since yesterday was Sunday, there was no appropriate venue for me to celebrate, so we are celebrating this event one day late.  Do you know what the event is?  I’ll give you a hint … 1969.  Still don’t know?  Okay, how about this … Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Elmo, Bert & Ernie … NOW you got it?  That’s right, folks, it was fifty years ago yesterday that Sesame Street made its television debut!

The show was the brainchild of Joan Ganz Cooney, a former documentary producer for public television. Cooney’s goal was to create programming for preschoolers that was both entertaining and educational. She also wanted to use TV as a way to help underprivileged 3- to 5- year-olds prepare for kindergarten. “Sesame Street” was set in a fictional New York neighborhood and included ethnically diverse characters and positive social messages.  There was Linda, the librarian who taught sign language, and Tarah who taught us about wheelchairs …

Sesame Street taught ABCs and 123s, but also much more … it taught our children about diversity and acceptance, taught them how to deal with tough situations and emotions.  And most important of all, it made learning completely painless and even fun!

They had a foster child character, an HIV-positive character, and once Elmo even testified before Congress! Elmo-CongressWhen Will Lee who played the shopkeeper Mr. Hooper, died unexpectedly of a heart attack, Sesame Street tackled the concept of death …

Well, okay, now I’ve gone and made you cry on Jolly Monday.  But, say ‘Hi’ to the gang over at Sesame Street, wish them a Happy 50th Birthday, and then I promise to make you laugh!Sesame-Street


Big Foot has been STOLEN!

Police in Florida are seeking information on the disappearance of an unusual piece of property — a 300-pound Bigfoot statue.Bigfoot-missing.pngThe Boynton Beach Police Department said the 8-foot-tall Sasquatch statue was stolen from in front of a store called Mattress Monsterz in October.

“Bigfoot is missing,” the department tweeted.


But if you think that’s bad …

In Marysville, Ohio (I used to work at the Honda plant in Marysville!) thieves made off with a roller coaster!!!kiddie-coaster-2The Union County Sheriff’s Office is looking for a white, Dodge Ram with a flatbed that was spotted by a traffic camera taking the roller coaster.coaster-thievesThe roller coaster, which is worth about $50,000, has alligator-themed cars that measure 20 feet in length.

Who the heck steals a roller coaster???  What are they thinking they can do with it … give it to their kids for Christmas?  Set it up in the back yard?  Sheesh.


Campus parking fines payable by … WHAT???

This one caught my eye, and while I expected to find humour, and I did, I also found something kind of nice.  I never had to pay parking fines during my undergrad years, but when I went to grad school, I racked up quite a few.  They were all written off thanks to a couple of kindly profs, but still …

This happened at University of Alaska in Anchorage.  Students can pay outstanding parking fines with donations of peanut butter and jelly for fellow students facing hunger.

“Any nut butter-almond, cashew, peanut butter- or any flavor jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves, etc. will be accepted. All donations must be commercially produced (no home canning), unopened and not expired.”

The jars will be distributed through the UAA Emergency Food Cache at the UAA Student Health and Counseling Center.  Two jars can erase $10 worth of fines, while five jars eliminates $60.

I think that’s really nice, don’t you?


Time for a few ‘toons, don’t you think?toon-1

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toon-3

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And a few cute or funny picturespic-1

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I’m sorry guys … I just couldn’t resist!  You know I don’t mean it, right?  Right?  Guys???

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And that wraps up another …

jolly{pssssst … Gwammie … did ya forget about the aminamal video?}

Oh … Jolly just reminded me … how could I possibly end Jolly Monday without a cute animal video???


jollyOkay, folks, this is really it for this morning, for some of you have jobs (you know, the kind where they pay you to go there and do work?), and others of us have … um … jobs that pay only in the currency of personal satisfaction!  Please, remember to share those lovely smiles with others you see today … speak kindly, for you don’t know what people are dealing with.  Have a great week, dear friends!  Love ‘n hugs from Filosofa and Jolly!

How Have We Lasted This Long?

Remember not long ago, I told you that Popeye’s had come out with a chicken sandwich that was said to be the equal of Chick-Fil-A’s?  I was happy to hear this, for I refuse to set foot in a Chick-Fil-A restaurant because of their overt bigotry, but I did like their chicken sandwiches long ago.  Well, before the girls and I got around to trying Popeye’s new sandwich, it was announced that they were sold out and would have more in the near future, so I rather forgot about it.  Apparently, though, the Popeye’s sandwich is … um … I don’t even know what word to use … controversial?  Worth risking life and limb for?  Just in the past week …

On Monday, the headlines read “Man Is Fatally Stabbed Over Popeyes Chicken Sandwich”, and on Wednesday it was “Driver Damages Own Car Trying To Jump Popeye’s Drive-Thru Line”Popeye-1.jpgThis post is not about those two events specifically, and I won’t waste my time or yours going into detail.  But rather, this post is about the thought that occurred to me upon seeing these two stories:  I wonder how the human species has managed to survive this long?

Ever since humans evolved from their simian cousins, it seems that they have been trying to kill one another, sometimes with cause, but more often for no good reason.  The more laws we make in our effort to establish a ‘civil society’, the more violent we become.  The more we enhance our education systems, the more ignorant we become.  The more we claim to care about others, the less we seem to care.

Part of the problem, of course, is that we don’t know when to stop reproducing.  The population on earth today is roughly 7.7 billion people, which is more than double the number of people on earth in 1972, just 47 years ago.  The amount of land on the planet, however, remains roughly the same, although with rising sea levels it is on the downturn.  The land on the planet is roughly 196.9 million square miles, which translates to .03 square miles per person.  But, of course, some of that is taken up by forests that are critical for the survival of life on earth.  The bottom line is that we cannot continue to double the population on the planet every 50 years and survive!  Maybe China’s ‘one-child’ rule wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

But, there is more to the problem than overpopulation.  I think that technology has a role in the way people treat each other these days, as well.  Mind you, I’m not putting down man-made technology in general … there have been many amazing inventions, as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting in my comfy chair, and within minutes I have discovered the amount of land and the number of people on planet earth without moving more than my fingertips. Then with a few more clicks of the fingertips, I was able to make the calculations I needed.  Now, I am writing words, again with my fingertips, and in a couple of short hours, people across the globe will be reading my words.  Back in 1972, nobody would have believed it possible.

However, in some ways I think that technology has made our lives too easy.  If the Internet died tomorrow, how many high school kids would know how to go to the library and look up the information I just found at my fingertips?  I’m betting very few.  And, technology has put distance between us – not physical distance, but we are emotionally disconnected from others as we text messages on our cell phones, play video games, watch movies, or troll the ‘net.  We have become emotionally isolated, and when we do have the occasion to interact with others, we have little tolerance.

We are easily frustrated by the actions of others.  Going back to the chicken sandwich example … a man was rude and cut in line in front of another, and the other was so frustrated that he pulled out his knife and stabbed the rude man to death.  Is this what we call ‘civilization’?  All species will kill if they feel their lives or the lives of their pack are threatened, but humans are the only species I know that will kill a person because of the colour of his skin, or where his ancestors came from, or because he was in a hurry to buy a sandwich.

At the same time as we are losing more and more of our humanity, we are also failing miserably to take care of the Earth on which our lives, in fact the lives of every living thing, depend.  The human species seems, as it becomes less tolerant toward one another, to either have a death wish or to believe that they are invincible – I’m not sure which it is.

There are those that will say “Well, species come and go, it’s the natural progression of life”.  Not true.  This extinction will be near-total, and it differs from the extinction of other species in the past because this one was completely, entirely avoidable.  Our fate was in our hands all along, yet we chose to take the path of least resistance, the path that gave us the greatest pleasure, but at the highest cost. It is the arrogance of mankind that has led us to the brink of extinction, and as I ponder it, the only real surprise is that humans have survived this long.

A ‘Letter’ From Trump to MAGA’s

These days, we often find ourselves saying, “You have to laugh about it, else you’ll cry”. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written a great bit of satire in the form of a letter from Trump to his ‘fans’, that I think will give you a chuckle … at least until you stop and think about it. Thank you, Jeff, for adding a bit of humour to our day!

On The Fence Voters

A confidential letter from Donald J. Trump to his supporters … P.S, please don’t tell the fake news.

Dear MAGA’s,

Hello everyone. As you know, in a few days we’ll be celebrating the anniversary of the most miraculous day in the history of modern civilization. That’s right. Thanks to all of you and my pal Vladimir, I was elected to serve as your President of the United States of America. Almost instantly, our country went from being the laughing stock of the world, to well, a bigger laughingstock of the world.

Soon though, our calendar will switch to a new year, 2020. And you all know what that means, right? Yes, your favorite little President is running for reelection, and I’m going to need your help again to stave off the radical socialist Democrats. I know I can count on you.

From time to time over the next year, I’m…

View original post 1,184 more words

Yes, We Still Ban Books 📘

This week, 22 September thru 28 September, is Banned Books Week.  According to the American Library Association (ALA) …

banned booksBanned Books Week (September 22-28, 2019) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it spotlights current and historical attempts to censor books in libraries and schools. It brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have all been targeted for removal or restriction in libraries and schools. By focusing on efforts across the country to remove or restrict access to books, Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

Banned Books Week was launched in the 1980s, a time of increased challenges, organized protests, and the Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982) Supreme Court case, which ruled that school officials can’t ban books in libraries simply because of their content.

And yet … and yet, schools and libraries are still banning books.  Take a look at some that were banned just last year …

  • George by Alex Gino – banned because it features a transgender character
  • A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo by Jill Twiss – banned for LGBTQ content, political & religious viewpoints
  • Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey – banned because it includes a same-sex couple, and also was felt to ‘encourage disruptive behaviour’

Are you starting to see a pattern here?  How the heck are we ever to break the chain of homophobia if we don’t allow young people to be exposed to the LGBT community???

  • Drama by Raina Telgemeier – banned because it features LGBTQ characters
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – banned because it deals with teen suicide
  • Skippyjon Jones series by Judy Schachner – banned because the lead character, a Siamese cat, ‘depicts cultural stereotypes’
  • This Day in June by Gayle E. Pitman – banned because of illustrations of a Pride parade

Good grief.

In 2018, more than half the books that drew complaints did so because they contained LGBTQ content, according to ALA. Other reasons include profanity, sexually explicit content, religious viewpoints and materials that candidly portray injustices and inequality experienced by people of color.

Now, mind you I do understand that there is such a thing as age-appropriate content, and I wouldn’t necessarily want a third-grade child to be reading Mein Kampf.  But, to ban books because they might open a young readers mind to the possibility that there are other acceptable lifestyles and viewpoints besides the ones they are exposed to at home is simply narrow-minded bigotry.

In 2017, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini was banned because some felt it would ‘lead to terrorism’ and ‘promote Islam’.  How is that not racist and Islamophobic?  In the same year, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was challenged because of the use of the ‘N-word’.  Heck, when I was 10 years old, I was bedridden for a period of time, and every evening my father would read to me from Catcher in the Rye!!!  I suppose today’s society would be aghast, yes?

banned-booksIn 2016, the Little Bill series written by Bill Cosby was banned because of the sexual allegations against Mr. Cosby … not because of anything in the books, and frankly I have read those books to my granddaughter and it is an excellent series.  But some, it seems, would throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Some that have been banned in year’s past … makes no sense at all …

  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein was banned because it was interpreted as being sexist. Some readers believe that the young boy continually takes from the female tree, without ever giving anything in return. As the boy grows up, he always comes back to the tree when he needs something, taking until the tree has nothing left to give him.
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss was banned … this one will really make you roll your eyes … because it was believed to portray logging in a poor light and would turn children against the foresting industry.
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak has been challenged numerous times, as it is considered by some “too dark”, and psychologically damaging and traumatizing to young children due to Max’s inability to control his emotions and his punishment of being sent to bed without dinner.

banned booksToday, with the far-right evangelicals attempting to impose their own beliefs on society as a whole … a group that is anti-LGBT, anti-women’s rights, anti-immigrants, anti-everyone-who-is-not-Christian … it is more important than ever that we guard against censorship in our schools and libraries.  Books open pathways in our minds, delight us with the unknown, and teach … teach us about other cultures, other lifestyles.  I find it frightening that some communities would stifle the knowledge and pleasure that is to be found in books of all sorts.  Censorship is just another form of bigotry.