Good People Doing Good Things — Giving Back

Today’s ‘good people’ are two men who started with almost nothing, but through hard work and determination made a good life for themselves and their families, and now they are sharing the rewards with others.  I think you’ll find them both worthy … I did.


Calvin Tyler is a success story in more ways than one!  In 1961, Tyler enrolled as a student of business administration at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore. When his funds dried up in 1963, a year shy of graduation, he left school and took a job as a UPS driver.

Tyler’s lack of a college diploma might have been considered a setback by some, but it didn’t deter this driver with a true drive from steadily rising in the ranks. By the time he retired in 1998, Tyler was Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations and was seated on the UPS board of directors.  That in itself is a success story, but there’s more.

Tyler’s hard work and grit paid off, but he knew that in the business world, his story was the exception rather than the rule. So, in 2002, he and his wife established the Calvin and Tina Tyler Endowed Scholarship Fund at the historically Black university he once attended.  By granting full-tuition scholarships to select Baltimore students in need, they hoped to elevate them to a place where they’d be able to gain a first foothold on the corporate ladder. How far they climbed would be up to them.

Calvin-TylerIn 2016, the Tylers raised the bar, endowing the fund with $5 million. Earlier this year, they broke their own record, pledging $20 million in scholarship endowments. Tyler says he and his wife were compelled by the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on students already struggling to do what they could to help close the financial gap.

“This is why we are increasing our commitment. We want to have more full-tuition scholarships offered to young people so that they can graduate from college and enter the next stage of their life debt-free.”

Calvin Tyler might not have a college diploma to hang on his wall, but he’s earned an advanced degree in paying it forward many times over—and that’s one course of study all of us can learn from.


Mark Dunajtschik escaped Knicanin prison camp near the end of WWII and was forced to flee his homeland of Yugoslavia. Five years after the war ended, he became an apprentice toolmaker.  The trade he mastered then may have shaped his career, but it was the life lessons he learned that ultimately forged the character of the man he’d someday become.

With housing in post-war Germany almost nonexistent, Dunajtschick’s only option at that time was living in a housing facility for the mentally and physically disabled. Seeing the daily challenges his housemates faced, he realized how just lucky he was.

“Because I was given the opportunity to live in that home, which was founded by an industrialist in the 1880s, now that I am in a position that I can also do something, naturally I want to do it.”

At the age of 85, as one of the most successful industrialists and real estate developers in New Zealand, Dunajtschik is indeed uniquely poised to deliver on his desire to give back.  Already known for his philanthropic works—having financed the country’s Life Flight Trust helicopter rescue service—Dunajtschik’s latest major humanitarian endeavor is overseeing the construction of a new children’s hospital in Wellington.

Mark-Dunajtschik-supplied-Mark-Dunajtschik

In 2017, he committed $50 million dollars of his own money toward building it.

“After a conversation between my business partner and my life partner we decided, why not build it? Those people that are born with a healthy body and mind can look after themselves and those unfortunate to be born with, or suffering ill health, need our help.”

Dunajtschik had no desire to simply throw money at the new hospital. He takes a hands-on approach to all his projects.

“By utilizing my expertise as a developer we would be able to produce more real estate than if we were to just write out a cheque and leave the bureaucrats to build it. 

Over the summer, construction passed a major milestone. As Dunajtschik looked on, the industrial support cranes were cleared from the site, signaling the exterior was complete.  The hospital is expected to open within a year.

It Is NOT Socialism!!!

Okay, folks … I’ve about had enough of people yammering about something of which they know little or nothing.  I’m speaking about the misuse of the word “socialism”.  Here’s the short definition of the word:  a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Now, apparently there are a good many people in this nation who have never bothered to read the definition of socialism, for they go ‘round spouting that this is now, or will become under the Biden administration, a socialist nation.  Where the hell they are getting that notion is beyond me.  What it may become, if Congress isn’t so badly broken that nothing can be accomplished, is a nation that actually cares about the people who live within its borders.  It may become a nation that ensures every man, woman and child living here has access to health care, a good education including college, and the opportunity to live, rather than merely survive.

What about any of that indicates that the businesses in the U.S. would become cooperatives, owned by the community?  NOTHING.  Though frankly, over the past two decades or so, I have become disillusioned by the uber-capitalism in this nation, for it has caused the rich to become richer, while the rest of us have become poorer.  One example, the minimum wage, which has not been raised since 2009, twelve years!  Meanwhile, see how much the net worth of the CEOs of the big three automakers has increased, or of the fossil fuel barons.

A dollar today is worth $0.26 less than it was in 2009, so the minimum wage worker who was earning $7.25 in 2009 is, comparatively, only effectively earning $6.99 today.  So, rather than any wage increases, that worker has taken a pay cut for doing the same work.  Corporations keep the minimum wage under their thumbs by threatening layoffs or even plant closures if the have to take a cut in profits in order to pay their employees a living wage, but … it ain’t so.  Those corporate bigwigs aren’t going to cut off their nose to spite their face, for even paying their minimum wage workers $15 an hour isn’t going to break their bank … they’ll still be earning millions each year, just maybe not quite as many million.

Small business owners, mom & pop grocery stores would, indeed, be hard-pressed to pay their workers $15 an hour, but an exemption could be built in for businesses with under a certain number of employees, or with net income below a certain level.  But it is the large corporations run by billionaires that are complaining the loudest.

Then there’s the health care issue.  The Affordable Care Act, passed under the Obama administration, helped ensure that every person in the U.S. would be able to receive medical treatment when they needed it.  It wasn’t, for most people, free health care, but affordable health care.  It meant the single mother who couldn’t otherwise afford to take her sick child to the doctor, could now do so, paying only what she could afford for her health insurance.  But some called it socialist medicine and fought tooth and nail to have it repealed.  They would rather keep a few extra dollars in their pockets than keep people who haven’t had the opportunities they have alive.  ACA is not socialized medicine … it is a nation trying to take care of its people!

True socialism in theory ensures that nobody is ultra-wealthy and that nobody is ultra-poor.  I say ‘in theory’ for socialism, much like communism, looks great on paper, but once you factor in human nature, there is no way it works.  Human nature is a lot of things, some good, some not-so-good, and some downright evil.  Human nature includes greed and arrogance in varying degrees, largely depending on a person’s birthright.  One who is born into a well-to-do family is far more likely to be arrogant and greedy, believing that he or she is somehow entitled to the finer things in life, entitled to have a better life than others.  Those who were born into poverty but through hard work and education have become business owners of some means, are more likely to take care of their staff, more likely to be generous to those with less than they have.

The opposite of socialism, for the purpose of this discussion, is plutocracy, a country governed by the wealthy.  That is what the United States is fast becoming, for the wealthy buy members of Congress, largely Republicans, but a few Democrats here and there, in order that Congress will vote for such things as tax cuts for those who could most easily afford to pay taxes, and vote against such things as environmental regulations that would help all of the 7.8 billion people who live on this planet, but would force the wealthy coal and oil barons to turn their eye toward converting their plants to renewable energy, would force the agriculture and forestry industries to make changes that might reduce their profit margin but would save lives.

The burden in this country is on the poor and average income earners, for many of the wealthy use tax loopholes to the point of paying no taxes at all.  As a result, we are in debt to the tune of $27.8 trillion!  That boils down to $84,000 for every man, woman, and child in the nation.  And it continues to grow every day.  The wealthy propose that we reduce the debt by cutting spending on such things as programs that help with food, housing, and medical care for those who cannot survive without it.  The sensible among us propose that the wealthy start paying their fair share in taxes, and that we cut back on military spending.

President Biden and the Democrats in Congress have a plan to ensure that no child goes to bed hungry, that nobody dies simply because they couldn’t afford to seek medical help, and that people who, through no fault of their own, do not have the opportunities the rest of us have, can help themselves to improve their lives by getting a college education.  What in hell is ‘socialist’ about that?  Nobody is suggesting we take General Motors away from Mary Barra, Mark Reuss and Dan Ammann and give it to the citizens of Detroit!

People in this country seem quite content to listen to the talking heads on Fox News or NewsMax who will feed them a line of bullshit, or to their Republican members of Congress who also will feed them a line, based on their loyalty and dedication to their wealthy donors.  It’s time for the people of this nation to start using that thing that sits atop their neck, to start thinking for themselves, start reading instead of staying glued to that box in the living room.

Uber-capitalism, not socialism, is the third biggest problem this country has today, the first two being guns and the environment.  Socialism is not, never has been, and never will be the problem as long as the U.S. Constitution is upheld.

Bits of Snarks ‘n Snippets

I tried to come up with something fun for a Saturday Surprise post, but sadly the snarky angst is bubbling over, so please forgive my lack of humour today.  Perhaps there will be a Sunday Surprise – who knows?


The not-so-great State of Ohio

I hate the state I live in – Ohio.  I have always hated it, and had it not been for a job offer from Honda back in the 80s, I would never have moved to this state.  I’ve lived in the State Capitol, Columbus, and for the last nearly 30 years, have lived in the northern suburbs of Cincinnati.  The state is heavily republican, and about 80% of the people are arrogant bigots.  But what I read today makes me more determined than ever to get the hell out of this state!

This memo put out by two state legislators says it all …

Ohio-memo

One of the “greatest presidents in American history”?????  WTF?????  If this passes, then I am definitely leaving the state, if I have to live in a lean-to in the mountains and forage for wild berries and mushrooms to eat!


Jon Stewart on Twitter

Former Daily Show Host Jon Stewart Testifies On Need To Reauthorize The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund

Comedian Jon Stewart, a long-time favourite of mine, joined Twitter two days ago, though he has long said it would never happen, and already he has nearly one million followers!  Wow … I’ve been on Twitter since January 2009 – 12 years – and I have only 140 followers!  And he’s only tweeted twice!  Hmmmm … wonder what I’m doing wrong?


Reward for bad behaviour?

Yesterday I wrote a rant about newly-elected representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene.  She is a conspiracy theorist, a gun-totin’ bitch, a Trump loyalist, and played a role in the attack on Congress on January 6th.  Many, including myself, have called for her to be removed from the House of Representatives, for she is not somebody I want making the laws that I live under. 

She is not, in fact, lawmaker material, but rather troublemaker material with her many nasty remarks and allegations that 9/11, the Sandy Hook school shootings, and the Parkland school shootings were all hoaxes.  More recently it has come to light that she said that ‘wildfires in California were not natural. Forests don’t just catch fire, you know. Rather, the blazes had been started by PG&E, in conjunction with the Rothschilds, using a space laser, in order to clear room for a high-speed rail project.’ 

But now for the worst of it! 

The only education this woman has is a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.  She does not have a degree in education, has never been a teacher, and yet she was placed on the House Education and Labour Committee!  She would be making the decisions about what is taught and how it is taught in our public schools???  NO!  Just effing NO!  After her committee placement was criticized by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and in light of Greene’s spreading of conspiracy theories regarding school shootings, Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced a motion to remove Greene from all committee assignments.  I want her removed from Congress … hell, truth be told, I want her removed from the planet Earth!  Send her to join her alien friends somewhere way up in space!  See if Elon Musk can help.


A breath of fresh air … literally

President Biden has nominated Deb Haaland to be the new Secretary of the Interior, replacing Trump’s fossil fuel entwined David Bernhardt.  Let me tell you just a bit about Deb Haaland …

deb-hallandMs. Haaland is a politician who has been the U.S. Representative from New Mexico’s 1st congressional district since 2019. The district includes most of Albuquerque, along with most of its suburbs. Haaland is a former chairwoman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. Along with Sharice Davids, she is one of the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress. Haaland is an enrolled member of the Laguna Pueblo and a 35th-generation New Mexican. Haaland is a political progressive who supports the movements to abolish ICE and to implement the Green New Deal and Medicare for All.

When President Biden picked Representative Haaland to be his Interior secretary, the positive response to the historic choice was so enormous, it virtually overshadowed any meaningful dissent.  But now that the bulk of the confirmation hearings are due to start next week, the naysayers are coming out of the woodwork.  Why?

Two words:  fossil fuel.  Senator Bill Cassidy, a republican from Louisiana who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which will oversee Haaland’s confirmation proceedings, and appears ready to hold Haaland to account for the Biden administration’s plans to stop issuing new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands.  THOSE LEASES NEED TO BE STOPPED!  Fossil fuels are just that … fossil:  a relic of the past!  Renewable energy is where we turn our sights now, Mr. Cassidy!

Ms. Haaland stands for strong conservation, climate action, and tribal rights … all in direct contrast with the fossil fuel industry, in whose pockets are many of the republicans in Congress, obviously including Mr. Cassidy.  I have sent an email to both of my state’s senators urging them to confirm the nomination of Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, for I feel strongly that her values are what this nation needs more of. 


A laugh or two

And last, I give you a bit of humour about … well, about so many things.  This clip from Jimmy Kimmel actually made me laugh, so watch it – it’ll be good for your blood pressure!

Not-So-Snarky Snippets

Ahhhhh … it is like a breathe of fresh air to have positive news on the political front to write about.  Already I can feel the difference in the tone of the news sites I frequent … well, most of them, anyway.  And it was truly bliss to troll the news this evening and see not one single thing about the person who left the White House for the final time yesterday morning.  So, forward we move.

My usual ‘snarky snippets’ came about as a direct result of you-know-who and his cohorts, and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that I will still have many more snarky snippets, for there are still many unsavory elements in our government, such as Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor-Greene, and Lauren Boebert.  Add to that the long-termers like Jim Jordan, Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham … and well, you can see how the snarky snippets will be around for a while.  However, there will also be times that, finally, I will be writing about positive things happening and those need a different name.  The best I could come up with last night was ‘Not-so-snarky Snippets’, but you guys are more than welcome to think up something better if you can.  My mind is tired and my imagination took a long hike and hasn’t returned yet.


First bit of good news …

After the inaugural festivities yesterday, something awesome happened.  Vice-President Kamala Harris administered the oath of office to newly elected Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, both from the state of Georgia, and Alex Padilla, the former California secretary of state, who was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to fill Harris’ own Senate seat.

The Senate is now tied with 50 Republican senators and 50 Democratic senators, however in the event of a tie on any given vote, Vice President Harris will provide the tie-breaking vote, so in essence, there is now a Democratic majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate.  It is my hope that this will streamline the process of President Biden’s nominees for cabinet positions being confirmed, not to mention other legislation being passed.  What would really be nice is if the two parties reached across the aisle and worked in a bi-partisan manner for the best interests of the country, but perhaps that’s asking just a wee bit too much.


Never too soon to get to work

President Biden and his wife had an exhausting day yesterday, with all the inaugural activities.  Personally, I felt more sorry for the First Lady, for her feet had to be killing her after wearing those high-heeled shoes all day!  Heck, it wore me out and all I had to do was sit here at my computer, with occasional breaks to fold a load of laundry or cook supper.  However, that didn’t stop the President from getting busy once the festivities were over.

“I think some of the things we’re going to be doing are going to be bold and vital. And there’s no time to start like today.”

President Biden signed 17 executive orders yesterday, pertaining to the environment, education, the pandemic, and immigration.  Just a brief overview of a few of them …

  • Environment
    • One order was to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords which we so negligently backed out of in 2019, though unofficially we backed out of our obligations under the agreement in 2017. This was one of my biggest hopes, that we would re-join, for we were one of only 9 nations on the planet that was not committed to reversing the effects of climate change, and in fact had increased our CO2 emissions with the rollback of environmental regulations.
    • Biden also revoked the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that has been the source of numerous leaks and spills, damaging water supplies and endangering both human and wildlife. The pipeline would also have increased CO2 emissions significantly and have further damaged the atmosphere.
  • Immigration
    • The President signed an order repealing the ban on travel from several majority-Muslim nations.
    • Another order called on the Department of Homeland Security to extend the initiative protecting ‘dreamers’, people who were brought to this country as children, from deportation and issuing them work permits.
    • He put an end to the false ‘national emergency’ that was put into place by his predecessor as a means for obtaining additional funding to build a wall – a wall that had no purpose but would cost billions, if not trillions of taxpayer dollars.
  • Pandemic relief
    • In a directive to the Department of Education, Biden asked the department to consider extending a freeze on both interest and principal payments for federal student loans until September 30th.
    • In a separate directive he asked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to extend a moratorium on evictions that expires after this month to at least through March.
  • Education
    • Biden rescinded the “1776 Commission” established by his predecessor. The commission, staffed by 18 ultra-conservative members, not a historian in the bunch, recommended the teaching of history as viewed through rose-coloured glasses.  An alternate reality, or revisionist history so to speak, that downplayed the darker side of the history of the nation, glossed over or even changing facts to glorify or ignore such things as slavery, Jim Crow, Japanese internment camps, the turning back of the SS St. Louis carrying Jewish refugees from Hitler’s Germany.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard he had rescinded the commission, for this is the way authoritarian countries educate their young, with fantasy that suits the leaders, rather than facts. 

All in all, President Biden had a busy day, and from the looks of it, all his days are going to be pretty busy.  I cannot argue with a single thing he’s done thus far, though of course some Republican lawmakers are … shall we say, not happy.  I’ve read a number of comments from them this evening and finally stopped after I found myself saying, “Shut up, bitch” to my computer.  I figured it was time for me to turn my thoughts elsewhere, for the past couple of weeks have already taken a toll.  Now’s the time to find the positive, and there will be plenty of that, I think. 


Aside from all that, I was moved to tears a few times yesterday morning while watching the ceremony.  Funny, when I watched the last inauguration in 2017, I was spitting and cursing, but yesterday morning I was mellow … and thankful that sanity has returned to the White House. 

One Man’s Quest To Conquer Hate … One Person At A Time

This is a post I originally wrote and published in August 2017, and it is one that I think bears repeating today.  Racist incidents, white supremacy and white nationalist groups, have been on the rise of late, fueled by a racist president and religious groups who somehow think their god prefers pale-skinned people.  Episodes of white police murdering unarmed Black people, for no reason, and getting away with it have become frequent events.  It seems to me we are moving in the wrong direction, my friends.  But one man is doing his part to try to bridge the racial divide, to help people understand that we are all the same, that skin colour does not make a person better or worse than any other.  I have added a few things to the original post, including a Ted-x Talks video that I think you’ll find interesting.


This is the post that I originally wrote for this week’s Good People post, but then I had second thoughts. I had quite an internal debate with myself about whether or not this man actually fit the profile.  In past posts to the category, I have highlighted people who gave of their time or money to help people in a more direct sort of way than this person is doing. I have also tried to avoid conflict, controversy and politics in my ‘good people’ posts. This is where my debate came into play.  I nearly scuttled this post altogether, but it kept nagging at me, and an inner voice told me I needed to write it. Mr. Daryl Davis has not adopted special needs kids, he has not set up foundations to help feed the poor, he has not built homes for people in need. What he has done that qualifies him for the designation ‘good people’ is quite different than the norm, yet I find it timely, in light of recent events.  So, I let my instincts lead the way, and while I have not included him in the ‘good people’ category,  I definitely DO consider him to be a good people, and as such, I want to share with you what Mr. Davis has done and is doing. So, please allow me to introduce to you R&B and blues musician, author, actor and bandleader, Mr. Daryl Davis!

Daryl Davis is a talented blues pianist who has played with the likes of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Percy Sledge and many others of Rock ‘n Roll, Jazz, Blues, and even Country music fame.  While it isn’t his music that is the focus of this post, it was music that opened the door for what he has done.  But first, let us go back just a bit to when Daryl was ten years old.

At age 10, Daryl joined a boy scout troop in Belmont, Massachusetts. He was the only black child in the troop, but that didn’t matter to the other kids, for they had not yet begun to see the world in terms of colour.  One day, young Daryl was proudly carrying the flag, with his troop, in a statewide parade to commemorate the ride of Paul Revere when the crowd began throwing rocks and bottles at him. His first thought was that perhaps the crowd did not like boy scouts.  But then he realized he was the only boy being targeted, and he soon found out that it was the colour of his skin that people did not like. This was Daryl’s introduction to racism, and it sparked a lifetime of curiosity about those attitudes, a curiosity that drove Daryl to do what he did, what he does.  And what, you ask, does he do?

The headline for the article in NPR reads:

How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members To Give Up Their Robes

For the past 30 years, Davis, a black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says once the friendship blossoms, the Klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided. Since Davis started talking with these members, he says 200 Klansmen have given up their robes.

How did it start?  I shall let Mr. Davis explain in his own words:

“I was playing music — it was my first time playing in this particular bar called the Silver Dollar Lounge and this white gentleman approached me and he says, “I really enjoy you all’s music.” I thanked him, shook his hand and he says, “You know this is the first time I ever heard a black man play piano like Jerry Lee Lewis.” I was kind of surprised that he did not know the origin of that kind of music and I said, “Well, where do you think Jerry Lee Lewis learned how to play that kind of style?” He’s like, “Well, I don’t know.” I said, “He learned it from the same place I did. Black, blues, and boogie-woogie piano players.” That’s what that rockabilly, rock ‘n roll style came from.” He said, “Oh, no! Jerry Lee invented that. I ain’t ever heard no black man except for you play like that.” So I’m thinking this guy has never heard Fats Domino or Little Richard and then he says, “You know, this is the first time I ever sat down and had a drink with a black man?”

Well, now I’m getting curious. I’m trying to figure out, now how is it that in my 25 years on the face of this earth that I have sat down, literally, with thousands of white people, had a beverage, a meal, a conversation or anybody else, and this guy is 15 to 20 years older than me and he’s never sat down with a black guy before and had a drink. I said, “How is that? Why?” At first, he didn’t answer me and he had a friend sitting next to him and he elbowed him and said, “Tell him, tell him, tell him,” and he finally said, “I’m a member of the Ku Klux Klan.”

I just burst out laughing because I really did not believe him. I thought he was pulling my leg. As I was laughing, he pulled out his wallet, flipped through his credit cards and pictures and produced his Klan card and handed it to me. Immediately, I stopped laughing. I recognized the logo on there, the Klan symbol and I realized this was for real, this guy wasn’t joking. And now I’m wondering, why am I sitting by a Klansman?

But he was very friendly, it was the music that brought us together. He wanted me to call him and let him know anytime I was to return to this bar with this band. The fact that a Klansman and black person could sit down at the same table and enjoy the same music, that was a seed planted. So what do you do when you plant a seed? You nourish it. That was the impetus for me to write a book. I decided to go around the country and sit down with Klan leaders and Klan members to find out: How can you hate me when you don’t even know me?”

That encounter happened in 1983, and since then Davis has made it his life’s mission to promote understanding, because as he says, “when two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting”. What he does may not seem like much to some, but in my mind, he is doing his part to change the attitudes of the bigots and haters, one person at a time, using words, music and intellect rather than rocks, bottles, guns and cars as weapons.  Think about it for a minute … what if every one of us who believe people should not be judged by the colour of their skin were able to sit down with just one member of a white supremacist group and, through open, honest dialog, help that person to understand that we are all a part of the human race?

In 1998, Mr. Davis wrote a book, Klan-destine Relationships: A Black Man’s Odyssey in the Ku Klux Klan, where he recounts some of his experiences.  For example, the time when one Klansman told Davis that “All black people have a gene in them that makes them violent.”  Davis recalls …

“After a time I said, ‘You know, it’s a fact that all white people have within them a gene that makes them serial killers. Name me three black serial killers.’ He could not do it. I said ‘you have the gene. It’s just latent.’ He said, ‘Well that’s stupid.’ I said, ‘It’s just as stupid as what you said to me.’ He was very quiet after that and I know it was sinking in.”

Before you say what I know you are thinking, no, I am not wearing rose-coloured glasses, am not a Pollyanna.  I realize that the majority of bigots will not be swayed by conversation alone, but I DO think some will.  Often hate and bigotry are based on a lack of understanding, a fear of that which is different.  Mr. Davis has set out to show that people, all people, are really not so different when you get down to the basics. I DO applaud Mr. Davis for the courage to do what he has done, and continues to do.  His approach is the very antithesis of what we see coming out of our own federal government and many of the evangelical churches today.

Mr. Davis was the guest speaker at a Ted-x Talk in 2018, and I’ve included the video here.  Granted, it is a bit lengthy at just over 18 minutes, but I think it is well worth watching … at least please watch the first few minutes.

My initial reason for thinking of Daryl Davis as a good person doing good things still stands … he is doing his part to remove hate from our society, one person at a time.  This is a man whose hand I would like to shake someday.

Bye-Bye Betsy

Every last one of Trump’s cabinet choices have been horrible, and as he nominated his various secretaries and directors of federal agencies, I shook my head so much that things shook loose in there and still rattle around on occasion.  The worst was probably his choices to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), first Scott Pruitt, then after ol’ Scott broke the law, Andrew Wheeler, former oil lobbyist.  But then, there was Betsy DeVos who he put in place as Secretary of Education … a more unlikely choice could not have been imagined, but she and her hubby donated millions to Trump and the Republican Party, so she somehow had to be repaid.

Ol’ Betsy didn’t much believe in public education but thought all children should be educated in religious or private schools, and … despite having the anatomy of a woman, she did everything possible to relieve women of their rights when it came to such things as being sexually assaulted on college campuses.  Whoever Joe Biden chooses to oversee the Department of Education will be a vast improvement over the ignoble DeVos.

It is reported that Biden has narrowed his choices for the position to two:  The first is Leslie T. Fenwick, dean emeritus of the Howard University School of Education and a professor of educational policy and leadership. The second is Miguel Cardona, who last year was named the top education official in Connecticut.  I know little about either of these two, but offhand I am leaning toward Cardona, for Fenwick is reportedly not a fan of education reform, something I think is going to become crucial in the coming months/years.  However, I will wait until Biden finalizes his choice then do some research and report back to you.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch …

During a departmental ‘virtual meeting’ earlier this week, DeVos spoke to the career staffers, many of whom she has fought with for the past four years …

“Let me leave you with this plea: Resist. Be the resistance against forces that will derail you from doing what’s right for students. In everything you do, please put students first — always.”

The word ‘sedition’ has been tossed about a lot lately, and this sounds remarkably seditious to me.  I wonder if all cabinet members are doing the same … urging their staff to create chaos and put up roadblocks to Biden’s agenda?  Oh, and that part about putting students first?  Betsy has not once done that, but has in fact done the exact opposite.

During her tenure, DeVos has attempted to halt the implementation of rules designed during the Obama administration to protect student loan borrowers.  During the coronavirus pandemic, DeVos directed millions of dollars of coronavirus relief funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act intended for public schools and colleges, to private and religious schools, directly in conflict with the separation of church and state.  And her most heinous crime, in my opinion, was when she repealed Obama administration guidelines for colleges dealing with reports of sexual assaults, saying that her concern was for men accused of such assaults.

Her tenure has not done anything that I can see to improve on our education system, but rather has been focused more on charter and parochial schools.  Let us hope that whomever President-elect Biden chooses will be far more concerned with actual education, an area in which the U.S. has fallen behind in recent years and will be empathetic to people who are buried under mounds of student loan debt, and also to those who are victims of sexual assault.  In other words, I’m hoping for the exact antithesis of Ms. DeVos.

Your Money Or Your Life???

Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman’s OpEd in yesterday’s New York Times needs no introduction, for it speaks for itself.  We would all do well to listen to what he says.


Trump’s Motto: Your Money or Your Life

The president claims you have to make a choice, but you don’t.

thomas-l-friedman-thumbLargeBy Thomas L. Friedman

Opinion Columnist

Whenever I talk about Covid-19 or climate change with skeptics, I use a simple analogy: Imagine that your child is sick with a disease and you decide to take her to 100 different doctors to get multiple opinions — and 99 doctors give you the same diagnosis and prescribed treatment and one tells you that there’s nothing to worry about, that your child’s disease will “disappear … like a miracle, it will disappear.”

What parents in their right minds would follow the advice of the doctor with the one-out-of-100 diagnosis?

This, alas, is no hypothetical. This, alas, is actually the most important question facing voters in choosing our next president. Are you ready to trust your own child’s and the country’s health to the guy who holds the one-out-of-100 view on both climate change and Covid-19? He being Dr. Donald Trump, founder of Trump University, where he apparently earned a B.S. in B.S.

It is stunning to me how many conservatives want to go with the doctor with the one-out-of-100 diagnosis, since doing so is anything but conservative. It’s Trotskyite radical.

And to riff off Trotsky for another moment, Republicans may not be interested in Mother Nature, but Mother Nature is interested in them. Both climate change and Covid-19 have brutally elbowed their way into our lives in the past year, and for the same reason: We have been stressing our ecosystems to their limits and beyond.

We’ve done this by invading wilderness areas and extracting wildlife carrying viruses never borne before by human beings and by emitting CO₂ that is heating the planet, amplifying storms that brought four months of rain in four hours in Florida and wildfires of epic proportions to the West Coast.

Joe Biden wants to proceed with more caution, and Trump wants to throw caution to the wind. That’s why the widely respected science journal Scientific American did something last week for the first time, declaring: “Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history — until now. The 2020 election is literally a matter of life and death. We urge you to vote for health, science and Joe Biden for President.”

The choice could not be more stark or important. Trump’s implicit motto when it comes to Covid-19 and environmental protection is always the same: Your money OR your life?

Which do you value more? Biden’s motto has been your money AND your life — you should not, and do not, have to choose between them, if we are wise and follow science.

How so? On Covid-19, for Trump, it’s jobs or masks, opening school or masks, social distancing or Big Ten football, science or church. Everything is black or white. And so is the result: So many Americans are jobless today and watching their kids learning remotely from home because Trump pitted masks against in-classroom schooling, masks against jobs, masks against indoor restaurant dining and masks against gathering for church services.

And too many Americans chose jobs and school and church out of desperation, and they’ve already paid the price or will pay it.

Biden, by contrast, is a unifier. He’s argued that if everyone wears a mask, practices social distancing and gets tested, we can BOTH protect many more jobs AND protect many more lives. Masks are not at war with jobs; they are the driver and protector of job growth in a pandemic. Masks are the vehicle to opening schools and other indoor activities — not their enemy. Just ask the Germans, Singaporeans or South Koreans.

Ditto when it comes to the environment and climate change. Trump wants everyone to believe that protecting nature means unemploying people. It’s clean air OR economic growth. It’s gas guzzlers OR unemployment. He’s forever pitting jobs against nature.

Biden stands for the unity of jobs AND the environment, the unity of jobs AND mitigating climate change. A clean, green economy equals better health AND more and better jobs. And the beauty is this: All that Biden has to do to prove his point is read aloud from the business and science pages:

Oct. 15, New Scientist: “The green economy has grown so much in the U.S. that it employs around 10 times as many people as the fossil fuel industry — despite the past decade’s oil and gas boom.”

June 30, Bloomberg.com: “Tesla Inc.’s market value has surpassed Exxon Mobil Corp.’s in a sign that investors are increasingly betting on a global energy transition away from fossil fuels.” Tesla makes electric cars, batteries and solar products.

Aug. 25, CBS News: “Exxon Mobil, which joined the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1928, is being removed from the blue-chip stock market index. Its replacement: enterprise software company Salesforce.com.”

April 6, Recharge: “Renewables accounted for nearly three-quarters of global power capacity additions last year — half of which was switched on in Asia, according to latest figures from the International Renewable Energy Agency.”

Sept. 17, Fortune editor Alan Murray: “Lululemon C.E.O. Calvin McDonald told me yesterday his company now has more U.S. stores closed due to environmental risk — fires in the West, hurricane in the Gulf, etc. — than due to Covid-19.”

If climate change turns out to be a less serious problem than predicted, and we pursue all of the above anyway, we will be like an athlete who trains for the Olympics, but the Olympics are postponed. No problem. We’ll just be that much healthier. Our air will be cleaner, our industries and vehicles and homes and industries will be so much more efficient and our economy will be the world leader in the clean power technologies that every country will want to import from us — climate change or not — as we add nearly a billion people to the planet by 2030. Yes, there will be nearly one billion more people on the planet in 10 years.

On the other hand, if we treat climate change like a daydream and it proves to be a nightmare, we will be in real trouble as a species.

So, I hope Biden goes into next week’s debate and just says: “My fellow Americans, you don’t hire an arsonist to put out forest fires. You don’t hire a divider to heal racial wounds. You don’t hire a poisoner to clean up your water supply. And most of all — most of all — you don’t hire someone who pits nature against jobs and jobs against health at a time when we so clearly need them all and we so clearly can have them all.”

Words To Ponder …

Ibram-X-KendiMost every one of us would say, if asked, that we are not racist.  We don’t think of Black people as intellectually inferior as our ancestors did, we don’t see them as someone to be feared or hated simply based on skin colour.  We have spoken out for equal rights for Blacks and other minorities, defend equal voting rights, housing rights, and employment rights for all.  But, is there a difference between being ‘not racist’ and being ‘antiracist’?  Dr. Ibram X. Kendi thinks there is, and after listening to him explain last night, I’m inclined to agree.

Dr. Kendi is an author, historian, and scholar of race and discriminatory policy in the U.S.  He currently serves as director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, and previously held the same position at the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at the American University.  I have read one of his books, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and am hoping to read his next to latest, How to be an Antiracist, for which he won the 2016 National Book Award for Non-Fiction.  He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2019, as well as numerous other awards and honours.

In the U.S. today, in light of the recent killings of innocent, unarmed black people by police, the Black Lives Matter movement is more widespread than at any other time.  Unfortunately, it has taken a back seat to such matters as the upcoming election and the coronavirus pandemic, but still, many more people are, it seems, becoming aware of the systemic racism that never went away in this country.  And now, we have a president who would re-write the history of our nation to eliminate such dark eras as slavery, making it more important than ever that we stand up, that we do not allow the darkest days of our history to be whitewashed, but that we own them and learn from them.

I’d like to direct you to the clip my friend Herb sent me last night that I found thought-provoking, and that made me take a closer look within my own self.  This is a 12-minute clip from a June interview of Dr. Kendi with Stephen Colbert, where Colbert steps outside his jokester persona and asks serious, intelligent questions of Dr. Kendi.  Please take the time to watch, listen, and think about Dr. Kendi’s words.

What did you think?  Did it make you stop and ponder a bit?  If you’re interested in Dr. Kendi and his work, please check out his website.

If we don’t know our history, we are destined to repeat it

My jaw dropped when I read the first sentence in this thoughtful and thought-provoking post by our friend Keith. I think yours will too. Trump’s desire to teach revisionist history can only lower us even further in the eyes of the world … it can only be thought of as the ‘dumbing-down of America’. Please take a minute to read Keith’s post and ponder on the direction we are headed. Thanks, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

I read this week from a UPI article that 60% of millennials and Gen-Zers are unaware that 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis in World War II. I use the word “exterminated” as that is what the Nazis did by gassing Jews after they rounded them up. If the brashness of this statement offends – I apologize for the needed candor. It is meant to wake people up.

But, the Nazi genocide of Jews is among too many persecutions around the world and over time. The United States has had three persecutions of groups of people, two of which leading to many deaths. We should never forget these sad parts of our history or white-wash (word intentionally chosen) them away.

– European settlers of the US over time seized land from, killed many and moved Native Americans over the course of three centuries. Even today…

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Trump’s Attack on History: The 1776 Project, Racism, Nationalism, and Fraudulent Patriotism to Conform History to his Twisted Ideology

Today, in yet another extreme abuse of the power of his office, Trump signed an ‘executive order’ to demand that public schools teach revisionist history, that they exclude the darker past of this nation. I tried to write about this, but was too furious to put coherent words on paper. Fortunately, Padre Steve was more successful than I, so I share his work with you. Please do read this … it is another step … a huge one … in the destruction of the United States. Thank you, Padre!

The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today President Trump launched a major attack on the history of the United States by announcing what he called The 1776  Project, a direct attack on the 1619 Project which aims to tell the story of how the English Colonists introduced what became the institution of slavery and entrenched racism in the United States. I know the subject well, my book which will be published sometime in the next year “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory!” Racism, Religion, Ideology and Politics in the Civil War Era and why they Continue to Matter” deals extensive with this history, and I can say based on his actions and utterances that the President is using this to further divide the country on racial lines and to open American history as his next front of his culture war.

Trump said he would create a national commission to promote a…

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