Perhaps We Trusted Too Much

If you were born with pale skin in the United States in the last 150 years, you have led a life of great privilege, though you might not realize it.  You might begin to realize it if you could exchange brief life stories with someone your age born in Ghana, Afghanistan, Hong Kong, Brazil, Iraq … most any other non-democratic nation.  But here’s the thing … we are so used to that life of privilege that we no longer appreciate it, we take it for granted.

Since you were old enough to talk, you’ve understood that this is a mostly free nation, that people have certain ‘unalienable’ rights.  You can choose your own career path, can choose to be well-educated … or not.  You can choose, within the confines of your economic status, where to live, what sort of car to drive.  You are not told who, or even if you must marry.  You are not forced into any religion.  And perhaps most importantly of all, you have the right to vote in order to keep people in government who are dedicated to preserving your rights.

You were told when you first learned about the founding of the U.S. and the U.S. Constitution that this document was the foundation of our nation and was the primary safeguard against the country ever becoming a Nazi Germany ruled by a madman.  You were told that the Constitution guaranteed that religion and government would always be kept separate, that you would never be beheaded for not believing in any religion.  It is your right, you were told, to be a Jew, Muslin, Hindu, Christian, or atheist.  It is your right to marry whomever you choose.  It is your right to have the final say over your body.  And you thought all this was guaranteed, that those ‘rights’ could never be taken away from you.

It may just be that you were wrong.

We became lazy, we became complacent, we became inured to the little things that were chipping away at our lives, our freedoms, as we didn’t even realize it.  We trusted in our government and its foundational separation of powers that would always keep any one branch of government from having too much power.  We never asked ourselves what would happen if two or even three of those branches plotted to join hands and become all-powerful.  We had the utmost faith in the impartial, non-partisan, 9-member Supreme Court that would always rule in favour of ‘right’.  We trusted in the ‘Separation of Church and State’ doctrine to keep us free of bigoted, restrictive rules imposed by religious sects.

But a funny thing happened as we travelled through the decades.  Men became intoxicated by power and the smell of money. And then they lied to us.  They lied about little things, they lied about big things.  They manipulated us, told us that those who try to help people in need are ‘socialists’ and ‘communists’, even though the majority of people do not even understand what those terms mean, but these greedy men gave us their interpretation and … we were too lazy to educate ourselves with facts, to learn the truth of the matter.

I won’t go through the entire scenario of the past twelve years or so, but here we are today … dangerously close to the precipice, to that thin line that separates a democratic republic from an autocracy.  Even now, when we nearly lost our voices and our freedoms on January 6th, far too many people believe that the men lying to them on a near-hourly basis are the good guys, the guys in the white hats.  They have allowed themselves to be brainwashed into believing that white folks like themselves are being pushed into a minority and that … somehow this is not a good thing.  They have been convinced that climate change is a hoax, that the pandemic is but a minor blip on the radar, and that somehow all evil stems from one side of the political spectrum.

A quote by Nelson Mandela speaks volumes here …

The United States is at a crossroads.  We can continue to allow the politicians, our elected representatives, to lie to us, to rob us, to cheat on us, as we take comfort in the fact that we have a job, a comfortable home, a ‘happy’ life, or we can educate ourselves, wake up and realize what could happen, how drastically our lives could change over the coming few years if we simply do nothing, continue to believe that somehow it will “all work out in the long run.”  A lot of people in Germany 90 years ago made the same mistake.

Sixty-Six Years Ago …

It was sixty-six years ago today that a 14-year-old boy, Emmett Till, was brutally murdered for the crime of being Black in a town called Money, Mississippi.  You all know the story, but allow me to just quickly refresh your memories …

Emmett was from ‘up north’ in Chicago, but his mother had sent him to Mississippi to spend the final two weeks of summer with his beloved grandfather before returning to school.  One day he went into a small store to buy some candy and as the cashier returned his change, his hand accidentally and briefly touched hers.  That, my friends, was all it took to get this young man killed.

By the time the story had been spread and embellished on, it was said that he caressed the clerk … a woman much older than Emmett who he would likely have seen as being the age of his own mother … had wolf-whistled and flirted with her.  While none of these are crimes, more importantly, he did none of the above as witnesses would later recall.  But this was Mississippi in the 1950s, the Jim Crow era.

Long story short, his assailants—the white woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, John Milam—dragged young Emmett from his grandfather’s home and made him carry a 75-pound cotton gin fan to the bank of the Tallahatchie River and ordered him to take off his clothes. The two men then beat him nearly to death, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head and then threw his body, tied to the cotton gin fan with barbed wire, into the river.

In September a trial was held for the two murderers and on September 23, the all-white, all-male jury deliberated 67 minutes before acquitting Bryant and Milam. Jurors later admitted in interviews that although they knew Bryant and Milam were guilty of Till’s murder, they did not think imprisonment or the death penalty were appropriate punishments for white men who had killed a black man.  The white woman, Carolyn Bryant, later recanted her testimony.

Why do I rehash this story today?  This is one of thousands of tragic stories from that era, but it is one that has received the most attention, one that we can point to and say, “That is who we used to be.”  Or … can we?  I have fairly recently come to believe that it is still who some of us are today.  I don’t think it’s a long stretch of the imagination to think of a similar atrocity happening in 21st Century Mississippi … or Alabama … Louisiana … Texas.

This is why we MUST teach about Emmett Till and the others in our schools today.  We must open the eyes of our young people to the past in order to ensure we don’t repeat that sordid past.  Just a few weeks ago, before Afghanistan took the spotlight, there was a big brouhaha about teaching ‘Critical Race Theory’ in the schools.  There is an element of our society who would have future generations believe that the U.S. was founded only on compassion and altruism, that the nation’s history is all rosy and beautiful.  It isn’t.

Every single schoolchild by the age of 12 should be aware of the story of Emmett Till, as well as Thomas Moss, Will Stewart, Calvin McDowell and thousands of others. Don’t recognize those names?  Look them up!  Some 6,500 Black people were lynched in the United States between 1865 and 1950 – and that’s only the ones we know about.  No, this is not the ‘pretty’ part of our history BUT … it IS part of our history, part of what has made this nation what it is today.  To hide it, to sweep it under the carpet, is criminal and ultimately will lead us right back to that dirty, dark place of the Jim Crow era.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go back there.

Let There Be Consequences

Y’know … some mornings I wake up and wonder what alternative world I have stumbled into.  Nothing is as it once seemed, norms that I’ve known for some 7 decades have been shattered, replaced by utter stupidity and conspiracy theories, and I am not sure how to cope with this not-so-brave new world.  It’s tempting to simply stay in bed surrounded by books, disconnect from the rest of the world, and never come out of my cocoon.  In the past, I have mocked people for doing just that, but now … I understand.  When it seems we have absolutely zero control over what is happening in the world, when the minority are paving the way to chaos while the majority sit quietly on the sidelines wringing their hands, I wonder just how much longer this nation can survive.

I did manage to find one sign that there is still a bit of sanity left in this country …


Remember in the days and weeks immediately following last year’s election when the former guy refused to acknowledge that he could possibly have lost?  He had countless lawyers filing frivolous lawsuits attempting to get courts to overturn the election results without so much as a single shred of evidence that the results, by which President Biden won by more than 7 million votes, were anything but legitimate.  The court cases dragged on, costing more and more money, each one thrown out for lack of credible evidence.

I wondered at the time why any self-respecting attorney who had worked hard to get to this point in his/her career would associate with the likes of the former guy, a known con artist and liar.  I think the key word there is ‘self-respecting’ … the attorneys who filed these cases were not serious about their career in law, but rather wanted to make a name for themselves, sought to trail in the spotlight that seemed to be constantly on the former guy.  Fame & fortune?

And now, those same attorneys who will never again be trusted by honest people are being sent back to school!  Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Linda Parker imposed sanctions on Sidney Powell, Lin Wood and seven other pro-Trump lawyers in a strongly worded denouncement of what the court called a frivolous election fraud lawsuit, saying they “filed this lawsuit in bad faith and for improper purpose.” That’s an understatement if ever I’ve heard one, but okay.

As part of the sanctions, the attorneys must take legal education classes and also reimburse attorneys’ fees that the city of Detroit and Michigan state officials paid in seeking the sanctions.  I hope the next step is disbarment, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.  This ruling was over one case in Michigan … dozens of frivolous suits were filed late last year … if every single one comes before a conscionable judge and more sanctions are heaped on, then perhaps we can rid the public of yet another clump of human trash.

We Don’t Need More Babies!!!!

I saw an article headline in the New York Times this morning …

Who Has the Cure for America’s Declining Birthrate? Canada.

A number of things went spinning through my mind, but the dominating thought was – why does our declining birth rate need or deserve a cure???  All things considered, this world does not need any more humans hellbent on destroying our precious resources!  It seems, especially of late, that there is a taint in the gene pool here in the U.S. that more and more of our population are affected with TS – Terminal Stupidity.

Rather than trying to increase an already hefty population, let’s focus on educating the ones we have!  In fact, I would advocate sterilization for every single individual who blatantly refuses to be vaccinated or to wear a mask.  They are the breeders of TS.

And then there’s the environment.  At the current rate which we are ignoring the dire warnings of the scientific community and the IPCC, human life on this planet cannot possibly last past the end of the century, likely not even that long.  So … WHY does anybody think it’s a good idea to bring more lives onto the planet to suffer the devastating effects that are going to take place in the coming years???  What a cruel thing to do!  Over the next generation or two, there will be food and water scarcity, devastating fires, droughts, floods.

Rather than try to boost the birthrate, I say we make birth control free and widely available, same with abortions.  It is unconscionable to keep piling people on top of people who have no future.  We, humans, have no future and we have only ourselves to blame.  Don’t subject even more people to a slow, painful, drawn-out death.

Now, some of you may argue that one of those new lives could be the very person who grows up to find a way to save the planet.  And there was a time that would have been my view as well.  However, as I watch those with TS parading around doing far more harm than good, even to their own loved ones, I realize that if we were handed a solution on a silver platter today, there are far too many affected by TS who would rebel, who would refuse to make whatever sacrifices were needed on their part, for it would, in their book, “infringe on their freedoms”.  They would sooner see this planet crash and burn than to make some small effort to help save it, so no matter how brilliant the plan to save the planet might be, the TS bunch will stomp on it.

Sorry, folks, but my faith in the goodness of human nature is gone.  Done.  When I see a parent ripping the mask off of a teacher, see hordes of people cheering a madman who has done more than his share to add to the destruction of not only this nation, but the world, and see a motorcycle rally where not one lousy person of the thousands in attendance is wearing a mask, despite the surge in both new cases and deaths, despite the new Lambda variant on the horizon, then I know there isn’t much hope for rallying the crowd in a huge effort to save the planet.  Let the birth rate continue to decline.  It’s for the best.

And for those of you who haven’t yet had the joy of grandchildren … buy a puppy.  They’re cuter, much more low-maintenance, cheaper to feed, and loyal.

A Powerful Voice … The Voice Of The Future

Dear friends …

I haven’t been blogging much this week, and likely won’t for the next few days, for my “little bit under the weather” has worsened and I just don’t feel up to doing much besides sleeping.  But no worries … I will bounce back … soon, I hope.  Meanwhile young Greta Thunberg is back with a powerful piece that we should all take note of …


This Is the World Being Left to Us by Adults

Greta Thunberg, Adriana Calderón, Farzana Faruk Jhumu and 

The authors are youth climate activists from Sweden, Mexico, Bangladesh and Kenya, working with the international youth-led Fridays For Future movement.

Last week, some of the world’s leading climate change scientists confirmed that humans are making irreversible changes to our planet and extreme weather will only become more severe. This news is a “code red for humanity,” said the United Nations secretary general.

It is — but young people like us have been sounding this alarm for years. You just haven’t listened.

On Aug. 20, 2018, one child staged a lone protest outside the Swedish Parliament, expecting to stay for three weeks. Tomorrow we will mark three years since Greta Thunberg’s strike. Even earlier, brave young people from around the world spoke out about the climate crisis in their communities. And today, millions of children and young people have united in a movement with one voice, demanding that decision makers do the work necessary to save our planet from the unprecedented heat waves, massive floods and vast wildfires we are increasingly witnessing. Our protest will not end until the inaction does.

For children and young people, climate change is the single greatest threat to our futures. We are the ones who will have to clean up the mess you adults have made, and we are the ones who are more likely to suffer now. Children are more vulnerable than adults to the dangerous weather events, diseases and other harms caused by climate change, which is why a new analysis released Friday by UNICEF is so important.

The Children’s Climate Risk Indexprovides the first comprehensive view of where and how this crisis affects children. It ranks countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, as well as their underlying vulnerability to those shocks.

It finds that virtually every child on the planet is exposed to at least one climate or environmental hazard right now. A staggering 850 million, about a third of all the world’s children, are exposed to four or more climate or environmental hazards, including heat waves, cyclones, air pollution, flooding or water scarcity. A billion children, nearly half the children in the world, live in “extremely high risk” countries, the UNICEF researchers report.

This is the world being left to us. But there is still time to change our climate future. Around the world, our movement of young activists continues to grow.

In Bangladesh, Tahsin Uddin, 23, saw the impacts of climate change in his village and other coastal areas and was moved to action. He is passionate about climate education and has created a network of young journalists and educators to spread awareness, all while organizing cleanups of waterways teeming with plastic waste pollution.

In the Philippines, Mitzi Jonelle Tan, 23, has had to complete her homework by candlelight as typhoons raged outside and wiped out her community’s electricity. She told us there were times she was afraid of drowning in her own bedroom as water flooded in. Now she is leading youth in her country to respond to the aftermath of those typhoons and other hazards through sharing food, water, clothes and support with the most affected communities.

In Zimbabwe, Nkosi Nyathi, 18, is worried about a potential food crisis if weather patterns continue. Heat waves made school a challenging experience for him and his peers. Now he speaks to leaders from around the world to demand the inclusion of young people in decisions that affect their future.

The fundamental goal of the adults in any society is to protect their young and do everything they can to leave a better world than the one they inherited. The current generation of adults, and those that came before, are failing at a global scale.

The Children’s Climate Risk Index reveals a disturbing global inequity when it comes to the worst effects of climate change. Thirty-three countriesincluding the Central African Republic, Chad, Nigeria and Guinea, are considered extremely high-risk for children, but those countries collectively emit just 9 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. The 10 countries with the highest emissions, including China, the United States, Russia and Japan, collectively account for nearly 70 percent of global emissions. And children in those higher-emitting states face lower risks: Only one of these countries, India, is ranked as extremely high-risk in the UNICEF report.

Many higher-risk countries are poorer nations from the global south, and it’s there that people will be most impacted, despite contributing the least to the problem. We will not allow industrialized countries to duck responsibility for the suffering of children in other parts of the world. Governments, industry and the rest of the international community must work together to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as 195 nations committed to do in the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015.

We have less than 100 days until the U.N. Climate Change Conference, also known as COP26, in Glasgow. The world’s climate scientists have made it clear that the time is now — we must act urgently to avoid the worst possible consequences. The world’s young people stand with the scientists and will continue to sound the alarm.

We are in a crisis of crises. A pollution crisis. A climate crisis. A children’s rights crisis. We will not allow the world to look away.

Open Letter To All Republicans In Congress

Dear Sir or Madam,

Never in my 70 years have I been as disgusted with the Republican Party as I am today.  You have taken politics to an all time low, completely disregarding the will of the people and the best interests of the nation.  Your only goal seems to be to take over the nation and hand the reins of power to a cruel and evil dictator.

Note that your party is in the minority, both in Congress and in the nation, yet rather than trying to develop policies that would help people and thereby attract new members, you push people away with your hateful, guttersnipe rhetoric.  One example, Margie Greene, the QAnon conspiracy theorist who sits in the House of Representatives.  Just since returning from her Twitter ban, she has said that she will personally spend money to ensure that every one of the 19 senators who voted for the infrastructure bill will face a primary candidate next year.  Why?  Only because they worked across the aisle in an attempt to do their jobs.  And then, she claimed that she is drawing up impeachment papers against President Biden … no reason given.

And speaking of the infrastructure bill, there’s Ron Johnson who tells us that he hasn’t even read it and doesn’t plan to … he just knows he plans not to vote for it no matter what is or isn’t in it.  This is obstructionism to the nth degree.

Politics is a career intended to be peopled by educated people who understand how government works and who are dedicated to the principles enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.  Instead, what we get from your side of the aisle is gibberish that makes less sense than a kindergarten child on the playground.  Those of us who have even a basic knowledge of the Constitution and understand a bit about how government is supposed to work are appalled by your actions of the last decade or so, and especially the past year.

We elect you to act in our best interests, to put our welfare ahead of your own personal wealth and lust for power, but thus far you have not done that.  We elect you, then pay you a fair salary, and in return we expect you to show up for work every day, to read every bill you are asked to consider, to give those bills due consideration, debate them, and then make a decision based on whether this bill will be good for the nation and its people.  That’s really all we ask of you!  We don’t ask you to flit about the country holding rallies in which to spew a message of hate.  We don’t ask you to visit the former guy to help him work up his campaign strategy for the next election that is more than three years away.  In fact, that is a conflict of interest and We the People would be well within our rights to call for the resignation of those who have done so.  We don’t ask you to tweet condemnation of every single thing the president says or does – that’s not in your job description.

We the People are your employers, not Mitch McConnell, not Kevin McCarthy, and for damn sure not Donald Trump!

In 1854, your party was founded for a very noble purpose:  to stop the spread of slavery.  Throughout the years, the Republican Party has made some positive contributions to this nation.  But today?  You contribute only to the angst of the people who need help, who need you to put on your grown-up underwear and step up to the plate, do the right thing.  You have an opportunity to make vast improvements in the Republican Party, but instead you are more concerned about increasing your own power and wealthy at the expense of the very people to whom you owe your jobs.

For far too long now, the Republican Party, once known as the Grand Old Party, has been the “party of ‘no’”, the obstructionist party with no relevant goals or policies other than to naysay any legislation that is proposed by the Democratic Party.  Well, guess what … at least they have ideas!

It is time for the Republican Party to reassess their values, to step back and ask yourselves exactly what are you contributing besides chaos?  With all the challenges that face us today, I would think this would be the time to set partisan politics, greed and arrogance aside and work toward fixing the problems, toward making this a safer, more equal nation.  Instead, you are doing the exact opposite.

Think about it.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, independent voter, taxpayer, citizen

When Will They Ever Learn???

I am appalled by the anti-mask, anti-vax bunch and the lengths they will go to in order to ensure that we never come out from under the Covid thumb!  To ensure that their own children have an equal opportunity to die at a young age.  For PETE’S SAKE PEOPLE!!!  Wake the hell up!

There is yet another new variant of Covid just beginning to make the rounds and it is thought to be largely resistant to the vaccines we have today.  It is called the Lambda variant, that started in Peru but is quickly popping up all over the globe.  And so … how are people ensuring that we all keep safe?  By breathing on us, by refusing to wear a mask or to allow their children to wear one.  Damn fools!

On the first day back to school in California this week, a parent assaulted a teacher when he saw his son come out of school with a mask on.  The teacher was not seriously injured, having only some bruises, lacerations, and a knot on his head, but this is horrifying!  The man would, apparently, rather see his son dead than wearing a mask!  I wonder if, when the son is in the hospital on life support, the father will assault the doctors and nurses for putting an oxygen mask on his face?

The anti-life group is now attacking restaurants, as well, even restaurants they have never eaten in.  They are leaving 1-star reviews on sites such as YELP, a restaurant reviewing site, simply because those restaurants require proof of vaccination.  The owners of some restaurants requiring proof of vaccination are being called ‘Nazis’ and ‘communists’ and more.  WTF???

To a large extent, I blame the nation’s Republican politicians for this, as well as the right-wing Fox ‘News’, for far too many of them have often done and said things that the uneducated and the willfully ignorant take to heart.  But let me be perfectly clear here:  lack of education and purposeful ignorance are NOT an excuse for risking the lives of others!  People who claim their ‘rights’ must also accept their responsibility to their own family and to the rest of the world.  No, you do NOT have the right to risk my life or even the lives of your own children.  They are not possessions that you can either care for or toss in the rubbish!

This nonsense has gone beyond ridiculous and those who choose to infect the rest of us may well end up being responsible for the extinction of the human species!  Maybe that’s for the best, since we humans seem to have zero respect for the planet or other species.  Perhaps humans were the worse example of a bad experiment.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has written a column for The Atlantic titled “Don’t Be a Schmuck. Put on a Mask.”  I strongly urge you to read it, but here are a few snippets from his piece:

Earlier this week, I delivered a simple message: There is a virus here. It kills people. The only way you can prevent it is to get vaccinated, wear masks, and do social distancing.

Some people are complaining, “Well, my freedom is being kind of disturbed here.” Well, I told them, “Screw your freedom.” You have the freedom to wear no mask. But if you exercise that freedom, you’re a schmuck—because you’re supposed to protect your fellow Americans.

But some of the responses really worried me. Many people told me that the Constitution gives them rights, but not responsibilities. They feel no duty to protect their fellow citizens.

That’s when I realized we all need a civics lesson. I can’t help but wonder how much better off we’d be if Americans took a step back from politics and spent a minute thinking about how lucky we are to call this country home. Instead of tweeting, we could think about what we owe to the patriots who came before us and those who will follow us.

The Constitution aimed to “promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.” It’s right there in our founding document. We need to think beyond our selfish interests.

Our country began with a willingness to make personal sacrifices for the collective good. It’s right there in the closing line of the Declaration of Independence: “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Almost two centuries later, John F. Kennedy posed his famous challenge: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Our country became great because every generation before us knew that liberty and duty go hand in hand. I am worried that many of my fellow Americans have now lost sight of that.

Wake up, people.  Were it in my power, I would issue a nationwide mask mandate and have police arrest anybody found in a public venue not wearing a mask.  Alas, nobody asked my opinion.  So, I’ll likely continue to opine here, as the new lambda variant creates surges in hospitalizations and raises the death tolls once again.  Meanwhile, just get vaccinated and wear a damn mask!

Oh Da Snark … Try Watching Grass Grow!

It seems I keep finding things to snark about.  I have tried to clear my mind of the detritus, tried lying in the yard watching the grass grow to find some peace of mind, but some of the blades of grass began looking like politicians after a while.  I threw myself into housework … for all of ten minutes … and then I was tired, so I went back to reading the news.  So, letting loose the snark here on ye olde blog seems to be the only way to evict it from my head!


Punished for doing the right thing

Okay, my friends … I’m going there again … ‘there’ being the place I try very hard to stay away from:  religion.  Well, not religion per se, but rather certain religious ‘leaders’ who have flown repeatedly onto my radar, almost as if they are begging me to swat them down.  Sigh.  I really don’t like delving into the realm, for I understand that in this area, I am a minority and my views have little or no value to the majority.  However …

Greg Locke, pastor of the Global Vision Bible Church in Nashville, Tennessee, is not a nice man.  He has floated across my radar numerous times, but until recently I swished him away, pooh-poohed him as just another foolish evangelical.  Until recently, that is, when he actually had the unmitigated gall to tell his congregation that if they wore a mask, they would be thrown out of church!

“If you start showing up [with] all these masks and all this nonsense, I will ask you to leave. I am not playing these Democrat games up in this church.”

‘Democrat games???’  Who’s playing games now, Greg?  What’s next for Mr. Locke?  Will he throw out parishioners who have been vaccinated?  What about those who eat healthy and exercise regularly … are they to be given the boot?  Folks, this is not about whether one chooses to believe in a higher being or not … this is about life and death, about personal choices, about our health.  Mr. Locke has just mandated that his congregation must engage in dangerous, life-threatening behaviour in order to have the dubious ‘privilege’ of hearing him opine on that of which he is proven ignorant.

This isn’t Locke’s first foray into the unconscionable.  Previously he insisted President Joe Biden was not legitimately elected and claimed only “crack-smoking” leftists would think he beat Donald Trump to the White House.  He has falsely accused the State of Tennessee of building ‘quarantine camps’ to house the unvaccinated, and last September he published a book titled, This Means War: We Will Not Surrender Through Silence (Pastor Greg Locke: Spiritual Warfare Series).

What a joke he is … I wonder how many people will die because they listened to him?


And on the subject of masks …

Do you ever look around, read the news, and just wonder if the whole damn world has lost its collective marbles???

On Tuesday night, a meeting of the school board was held in Williamson County, Tennessee, the wealthiest in the state and one of the 20 wealthiest counties in the country.  The purpose of the meeting was to decided whether or not there would be a mask mandate in place when children return to school next week.  Unlike some other states, there is no ban on mask mandates in Tennessee and the decision is left up to each school district.

The meeting was so chaotic that it ended up taking four hours to decide that yes, they would mandate masks for teachers and students at the elementary school level.  Masks will be optional at the junior high and high school levels where most students are over 12 years of age and thus eligible for vaccination.  Angry parents showed up, almost none wearing a mask, and frequently disrupted the meeting, expressing their fury that their child might be ordered to wear a mask.  One person became so violent that he had to be escorted out by county deputies.

But it was what came afterward that makes me think our nation is devolving into something cruel and inhumane.  As the meeting broke up, hundreds of protestors were waiting outside.  The meeting had included health care professionals who attested to the value of wearing a mask during this time when the Delta variant of the coronavirus is running rampant.  Upon leaving the building, the health care professionals were surrounded by protestors chanting and issuing threats such as “We know who you are,” and “We will find you.”

If this is what it means to be an American, then I want no part of it!  These people are loons!  Doctors and nurses, trying to keep the children of these loons safe and alive, are threatened for doing so.  PEOPLE!  WAKE UP!  This is not how rational human beings behave!!!  Or is it?  Are people completely losing the ability to disagree in a civilized manner?


Something to ponder

Our friend Jerry, aka Grumpy1180, left a comment on my post about Andrew Cuomo’s resignation that I found very astute …

I’ve had several epiphanies since leaving the Republican Party. Here’s one of them: When a Republican “leader” gets caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar–or his or her pants down, or choose your cliche–Republican followers turn on the accusers, the law enforcers, the court system, the media, and anyone else who would dare to question the integrity of their hero. They side with the person over the principle. When a Democrat leader gets caught violating a law or an important social norm, Democrat voters say, essentially, “Sorry, _____. I liked you, but principles come first. Time for you to move on and be replaced by someone who understands the importance of upholding crucial, society-sustaining principles.”

Think about that for a minute … he’s right!  Did you hear a single Republican call for Trump’s resignation in light of his many proven sexual harassment accusations, his lies, his corruption?  He even admitted to some of them, yet not a whisper was heard from Republicans in or out of Congress.  When confirmation hearings were being held for Brett Kavanaugh to occupy a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, and a highly credible woman accused him of sexual assault, who did Republicans turn on?  The woman, not Kavanaugh.  And more recently … have you heard a single Republican call for Representative Matt Gaetz, who is being investigated on sex trafficking charges, to step down?

Think about it … which party has shown integrity?  Jerry is right … it damn sure ain’t the Republican Party!

Two Monsters In Governor’s Clothing

The state of Florida currently has more hospitalizations due to COVID than any other state in the nation.  Cases in Texas are also surging, sending hospitals scrambling to find ICU beds for all the patients.  Both of these states have Republican governors who are doing everything in their power to reduce the population in their states.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Both Governor DeSantis of Florida and Governor Abbott of Texas have banned mask mandates in their state, meaning that localities cannot legally put a mask mandate into effect in order to protect the people.  Bad enough under any circumstances, but now, with parents preparing to send their children back to school in a week or two, it is critical.

Columnist Greg Sargent has the latest on the battle between the governors, localities, and school boards …


The rebellion against pro-Trump, anti-mask GOP governors is gaining steam

Opinion by

Greg Sargent

Columnist

Yesterday at 11:04 a.m. EDT

Let’s state this up front: GOP governors are not required by some higher Trumpian law to use official powers to actively thwart efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Some are choosing not to do that: In South Dakota, the governor left decisions about mask mandates to local officials, and in Arkansas the governor admitted that an earlier ban on them was an “error.”

But the Republican governors of Texas and Florida — Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis — are in a class by themselves. Their states are seeing some of the worst surges of covid in the nation, yet they are continuing to hamstring local officials from acting to protect their constituents.

Which is why these governors are facing a rebellion of sorts. In both states, ABC News reports, officials are defying limits on mask mandates, setting up direct conflicts with those governors.

This will flush out into the open the truly twisted nature of what DeSantis and Abbott are doing. They piously claim to be defending their constituents’ freedom from government mandates. But they are using their power to prevent local officials from implementing basic public health measures in a highly selective way that is plainly molded around the obsessions of former president Donald Trump and his movement, not anchored in any genuine public interest rationale.

Local officials are rebelling

The derangement of this position is particularly clear in Texas. On Monday, Abbott announced that he is seeking the help of outside medical professionals to deal with the state’s covid surge. He is also asking hospitals to postpone all elective medical procedures as hospitals fill up.

Amid all this, the Dallas schools superintendent has reasonably announced that students, visitors and staff will have to wear masks in schools. He noted that the decision is an “urgent” matter of “protecting” children, teachers and workers.

Yet this directive required him to defy Abbott’s executive order barring mask mandates by government entities. To be clear, Abbott’s own actions amount to a stark admission that the state is in serious trouble — yet he continues to ban localities from taking measures to protect public health.

The absurd result, as the New York Times reports, is that local officials are scouring legal codes to find ways to get around Abbott’s blockade on implementing public health measures. This isn’t how officials should have to spend time and resources during a public health emergency.

In Austin, where cases are surging, local officials have recommended masking, but cannot require it, which has led the mayor of Austin to declare the situation “dire.” The Austin school district just announced a mask requirement, defying Abbott.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools is moving ahead with mandatory masking. This is in defiance of DeSantis’s recent executive order empowering the state to withhold funds to punish school boards who implement mask mandates.

Incredibly, it appears DeSantis may make good on this threat. The superintendent, Carlee Simon, told “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that she’s received a letter from the state demanding justification for her move and essentially indicating that funding is at risk if she continues.

A handful of Florida parents are now suing DeSantis. One mom told CNN that she “never envisioned” that the governor “would actively be trying to harm my child,” and lamented correctly that limits on mask mandates are interfering with her son’s ability to get educated safely.

Anyone who has taken a young child to a camp or gathering this summer has witnessed how children playing together continue to drift inevitably into very close contact. It’s particularly ludicrous and venal to bar local officials from acting to defend these children from spread.

Abbott and DeSantis love to proclaim that they are defending the liberty of their states’ residents to proceed free of public health mandates, and that they should merely exercise “personal responsibility” in dealing with covid. But it’s hard to discern any genuine ideological vision here, since they have no apparent objection to all manner of other public health mandates.

“We have plenty of mandates,” Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “We require elementary school students to get various vaccinations. We require drivers to wear seat belts. We require adults to wear clothes.”

“There are any number of ways in which the laws of every state, including Florida and Texas, impose mandates that are designed to protect individuals,” Vladeck continued.

‘Covid exceptionalism’

All of which suggests that the real working ideology here is something you might call “covid exceptionalism.”

Obviously it would theoretically be possible for DeSantis and Abbott to believe, in good faith, that mandates against covid represent unacceptable incursions on liberty while other mandates do not.

But everyone knows the real reason DeSantis and Abbott are suddenly concerned with protecting people from public health mandates on covid in particular is that government officials eager to battle covid this way have become associated with assorted enemies of Trump and his following.

Because Trump and his movement have required this adherence to covid exceptionalism, local officials are being hamstrung from carrying out their own official responsibilities to act in defense of public health. It’s hard to find the right language to describe the seething contempt for public service and the public good that’s truly on display here.

Good People Doing Good Things — Super Kids!

Just two ‘good people’ today, but they are small fry with huge hearts!


Let’s start today’s good people with a small, very cool young person. His name is Rowyn Montgomery, he is all of seven years old, and lives in Tiverton, Rhode Island.  Young Rowyn … this kid is gonna knock your socks off … he’s smart, he’s compassionate, he’s got more sense than a great number of adults I know.  And he’s even got his own YouTube channel, “Rollin’ with Rowyn“.

Rowyn first came up with the idea of making inspirational videos after being bullied himself.  Says Rowyn …

“When I make videos, it makes me feel happy that other people can watch them and feel happy. If they’re getting picked on or if they’re shy or something, they can watch the videos.”

Take a look at this one …

Rowyn’s mother, Michelle, helps him post videos to his YouTube channel …

“He’s so funny. He’s an old soul. You can talk to him about such deep things.”

Just watching his videos, I have no trouble believing that!  This kid is going places, and he’s going to do it with kindness and by helping others.  Check out just one more short one …

I laughed at the part where he threw his hands up and said, “God knows how many grades there’s gonna be …”

Rowyn will start second grade this fall, and hopes to follow in his mom’s footsteps when he grows up. She currently works in the behavioral health field as a case manager and helps people with mental illness.


Orion Jean is just ten years old, lives in Fort Worth, Texas, and last year, when he was a fifth-grader, he was the winner of the National Kindness Speech Contest.  Orion wrote, practiced, and gave this 90-second speech all within 24 hours, for that was all the notice he had.  Take a look at his 90-second speech …

Orion received over 2,800 votes in the contest, and the prize was $500 … a lot of money for a then-nine-year-old kid!  But, Orion didn’t buy himself a new bicycle or anything else with his prize money.  Instead, he put his money where his mouth was, for Orion didn’t just write and speak about kindness, he IS a kind young man who wanted to do something for others.

He decided to start by donating toys to sick kids at Children’s Medical Center Dallas. “These kids are my age, and they’re just kids like me,” he recalls thinking before he launched a drive for five hundred toys in August 2020. Jean’s parents had helped him set up social media pages, and he filmed videos about the toy drive for them to post on his behalf. Donations began streaming in, and he collected and donated 619 toys to the hospital in only a month.

An avid reader, Jean says he saw a statistic stating that two out of three kids living in poverty have no books of their own. He decided to collect 500,000 books for disadvantaged children. So far, he has gathered some 120,000 books and hopes to have the rest by the end of August.

“Kindness is a virtue we can all possess. If we are willing to. So why not start today. Because right now, it’s what we need more than ever.”

Ain’t it the truth!

Orion Jean has done even more, and you can read more about him and learn how you can help, in an article from last month in Texas Monthly.


These two young men are inspiring to all, I think.  If these guys are our future, then perhaps there is hope for humanity after all!