Okay Folks … ‘TOON Time!!!

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


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

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


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


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

snap-1snap-2


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


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

Just A Bill … Sittin’ Here On Capital Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Saturday Surprise — Saving Bees!

bees-toonI almost didn’t do a Saturday Surprise again this week, for as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been unable to corral my mind and it just wasn’t working.  But then, I was going through some notes I had of saved topics and realized I could do Saturday Surprise on a topic I’ve been wanting to do for a while, just never found time … BEES!  Don’t worry … I promise you won’t get stung!

Now, we all know that the bee population in the U.S. and globally has been declining for years.  Most of the reasons are attributable to humans … loss of habitat and bee-killing pesticides being two of the main causes.  And, all living creatures depend on bees for food … one-third of all our food depends on bee pollination, so those little guys are pretty important!

Since this is a Saturday Surprise post, one of the rules is ‘no politics’, so I won’t mention what some governments are doing to exacerbate the decline of the bee population, but instead will focus on some of the good things people are doing to try to save the bees!  Rather a hybrid of Saturday Surprise and Good People!


Let’s start with a trip to the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht, to be specific.  This city has transformed all 316 of its bus stops into bee sanctuaries.  The Netherlands is home to 358 different bee species but more than half of them are already endangered and have been placed on the Dutch Red List of threatened species.utrechtThese bee sanctuaries or rather ‘bee stops’ are essentially standard bus stops with grass and wildflowers planted on the roofs to encourage pollination. Not only do bee stops support the city’s biodiversity by attracting honey bees and bumblebees, they also help capture fine dust and store rainwater.

Bee stops are tended to by workers who drive around the city in electric vehicles. But the scheme requires little maintenance because the roofs are mainly composed of sedum plants, which are a favourite among pollinators and require very little water to survive. To improve facilities for the human visitors, the bus stops have also been fitted with energy-efficient LED lights and bamboo benches.utrecht-2This is just one of the many measures Utrecht has introduced to improve urban biodiversity. It also runs a similar scheme which allows residents to apply for funding to transform their own roofs into bee sanctuaries. And as part of its clean transport goals, the aim is to introduce 55 new electric buses by the end of the year and to have “completely clean public transport” by 2028. The electricity used to power these buses will come from one of the Netherland’s most iconic attractions: windmills.

Now THAT’S what I call an environmentally conscious city!  And one of the most bee-friendly I know of.


You all know actor Morgan Freeman from such movies as Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and others, but I bet you didn’t know that he owns a 124-acre ranch in Mississippi that he has turned into a bee sanctuary! morgan-freemanFreeman’s foray into beekeeping began in 2014, where he discussed his new hobby with Jimmy Fallon during The Tonight Show. Freeman had taken up beekeeping just a couple of weeks before appearing on the show and talked about his experience keeping bees and the need to preserve and save wild bees for healthy environments.

Freeman imported 26 bee hives from Arkansas to his ranch in Mississippi. There, Freeman works to feed the bees sugar and water and has help planting bee-friendly magnolia trees, lavender, clover, etc.

“There is a concerted effort for bringing bees back onto the planet…We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation…”

bee-thumbs-upTwo thumbs up to Morgan Freeman … and a sincere ‘thank you’ from all of us who care about the future of life on this planet.


Ever hear of the National Pollinator Garden Network?   Neither had I until a few hours ago.  What is it?

The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) is a partnership between conservation organizations, gardening groups, volunteer civic associations and participating federal agencies to inspire people and organizations to create more pollinator habitats. The nine founding organizations launched NPGN in June 2015.

The focus of the NPGN is: to inspire individuals and community groups, institutions and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat through sustainable gardening practices, habitat conservation and provide these groups the tools to be successful.

The organization launched an initiative called the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, in hopes of getting one million organizations and individuals to plant and maintain ‘pollinator gardens’, consisting of pollinator-friendly plants and wild grasses that are both native and non-invasive species. Well, they now have more than met their goal with 1,040,000 as of last February.

Since the campaign launched, many gardening centers have also contributed to the challenge by offering more pollinator-friendly plants, services, and education.

Increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes will help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across the country.

cute-beeBe sure to check out their website … if you have a garden and can take part, this is certainly a worthy venture to join!  We plant bee-friendly flowers in our tiny 2’ x 4’ postage-stamp ‘garden’ and have for years, but I haven’t got quite enough space to make much of a difference.


It’s encouraging to know that people are becoming more aware of just how crucial the bee population is to life … all life … on earth and are doing something about it, don’t you think?  And now, since I always try to end Saturday Surprise with a cute animal video, I thought this one would be appropriate today!

Have a bee-ootiful weekend, my friends!

Give Us Back Our Elections …

One of my pet peeves is the 2010 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Citizens United v Federal Election Commission (FEC), in which the Court ruled that the free speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting independent expenditures for political communications by corporations, including nonprofit corporations, labor unions, and other associations.  In a nutshell, it opened the door to unlimited donations by wealthy corporations, such lobbying groups as the NRA, and others to basically buy our politicians.  This is why we have a Congress that is unwilling to enact gun regulations, despite the fact that some 80% of the people in this country are in favour of such things as enhanced background checks and a ban on assault weapons.  This is why our very lives are placed at risk by the rolling back of environmental regulations that are so crucial to preserving life on earth.  And this is why there is an ever-widening income gap between the billionaires and the rest of us who live payday to payday.  And this is why ours is no longer a government ‘of the people, by the people, and for the people’, but rather of, by, and for only the wealthy and powerful people.

I have featured Robert Reich on this blog a few times before.  He is an economist, professor, author, and political commentator. He served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. He was Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997. He was a member of President Barack Obama’s economic transition advisory board.  He, better than most, understand the inner workings of our government.  Sans partisanship, he explains why we simply must overturn Citizens United, must get the big money out of politics, and return our elections to We the People.  Please take three minutes to watch …

About Those Amazon Fires …

The Amazon rainforest plays a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change, by removing CO2 from the atmosphere.  It is the largest such ‘carbon dioxide sink’ on the globe.  While it is not at all unusual for fires to occur in the Amazon during the dry season, this year’s fires have been particularly intense and have led to international concern, for obvious reasons.

Bolsonaro-2

Jair Bolsonaro

During the summer, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who had previously stated his intention to destroy parts of the rainforest to make way for agriculture, mining, and other business development, mocked the environmental groups who were expressing concern about the fires.  In August, as the fires intensified and photographs of the ongoing fires and impacts caught international attention and became a rising topic among world leaders, suspicions that at least some of the fires had been deliberately set were noted in the press.

The National Institute for Space Research in Brazil (INPE) reported that at least 74,155 fires had been detected in all of Brazil, which represents an 84-percent increase from the same period in 2018.  Bolsonaro mocked the INPE data, and mocked the concerned environmentalists, even going so far as to call himself “Captain Chainsaw”.  This, combined with Bolsonaro’s declared intent to destroy parts of the rainforest, led to speculation that perhaps he was responsible for the setting of some of the fires.

But on Wednesday, August 21, Bolsonaro said he believed non-governmental organizations could be behind the fires as a tactic “to draw attention against me, against the government of Brazil.”

“The fire was started, it seemed, in strategic locations. There are images of the entire Amazon. How can that be? Everything indicates that people went there to film and then to set fires. That is my feeling.”

In August at the G7 summit, a special meeting was called to discuss the Amazon fires.  Trump, by the way, did not attend and lied about his reason for not attending, but what’s new?  At the meeting, the group pledged $22 million to assist with putting out the fires.  The next day, Bolsonaro rejected the offer.

In September, at a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, leaders from around the globe offered assistance in fighting the fires, but Bolsonaro rejected the offers of help, and said that he would use the rainforest’s resources as he sees fit. The Amazon isn’t in flames, he told the group, but brimming with riches. And Brazil will decide how to develop it.  Rather like seeing your neighbor’s house afire, offering to assist in putting the fire out, and being told to go home, that there was no fire and he would appreciate you minding your own business.  You can plainly see that it is afire and could easily spread to your own home, thus making it your own business, but … what can you do?

Since the annual rains started last month, though some fires are still burning, for all intents and purposes the majority have been quelled.  So, I hear you wondering why I am bringing all this up now.  Well …

Bolsonaro’s latest round of the blame game is pointing the finger at none other than actor Leonardo DiCaprio!  Now, this would be laughable just in and of itself, but … Leonardo DiCaprio is an environmental activist who, in August pledged $5 million to help save the Amazon!  Bolsonaro has vowed to drive environmental NGOs from Brazil, and so on Friday he told a group of his supporters …

“This Leonardo DiCaprio’s a cool guy, isn’t he? Giving money for the Amazon to be torched.  Leonardo DiCaprio, dammit, you’re collaborating with the burning of the Amazon.”

It would be bad enough, thinking of the plant and animal life lost, if these fires had only affected Brazil.  The people of Brazil, after all, elected this narcissistic, arrogant, ignorant fool, and it could be said they deserve what they get, just as the people of the U.S. deserve the chaos they invited upon their nation.  But, in this case, it is estimated that the Amazon rainforest is responsible for some 20% of the world’s oxygen.  I said … 20% OF THE WORLD’S OXYGEN!!!  Think about that one for a minute.trump-bolsonaroIf that means that 1 in 5 people are going to have to stop breathing, I vote that Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump should be the first two to stop, and then all the rest of the climate deniers should simply be forced to stop breathing, then perhaps there will be enough oxygen for the rest of us.

It is estimated that it will take between 20 – 40 years for the trees that were burned to be fully replaced.  We don’t have that kind of time, folks.  Did Jair Bolsonaro bankroll the destruction that was caused this summer?  Perhaps we’ll never know, and perhaps at this point it no longer matters, except … he’s still the president of Brazil and he’s shown the world how little he thinks of protecting the environment.  If the human race is determined to extinct itself, as appears to be the case, we have certainly made a good start at it.

The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)

I rarely follow new blogs these days, as I don’t have time to keep up with the ones I already follow, but recently one crossed my path that seemed exceptional, so I followed it. The blog is Enigma in Black, and according to the authors bio it is “one man’s opinion about matters primarily involving politics, education, and race.”
We all know that Trump is profiting from the presidency, that he sees this nation as his own private domain and that his hired thugs are profiting as well. This post, however, shines some new light on it all and is appropriately titled, “The Licensing of the Presidency (White House for Sale)”. Thank you, Enigma, for both this excellent post, and your permission to share.

ENIGMA IN BLACK

It’s how Trump has done business the past couple of decades. After six bankruptcies, Trump did learn a new trick and started selling his name and not trying to run a profitable business. Trump doesn’t really own many of the properties with his name on them. In 2015, his name was on seventeen properties in New York of which he owned only five. At present, the number of buildings in New York with his name has dwindled to eleven, as the six“Trump Place” properties elected to have the Trump name removed. The Trump Organization continues to manage the properties. A typical deal involves Trump licensing his name which once attracted buyers/renters for a fee while also being paid for management duties.

Trump’s new business model allowed him to eliminate risk while raking in a percentage, whether the venture succeeds or fails. When The Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower…

View original post 786 more words

Just Two Snarky Snippets …

Well, guys, Thanksgiving is over and it’s time to get down to business here.  Filosofa is back on the job with a dose of snark to start your Friday with a grrrrrrrrrowl!


Donnie goes on the campaign trail … in London!

Guess what, folks?  Trump is going to be visiting the UK again next week.  Yep, he’s going back to embarrass us some more, demean our allies yet again, but that’s not all!  He’s also planning to hold a fundraiser there, whereby he plans to collect $3 million in donations from the Brits.  You can pick up your jaws from the floor now … yes, you heard me right … he’s going on a campaign rally, albeit a high-class campaign rally, in London.  But, more about that in a minute.

The initial reason for his trip is the annual NATO summit.  Trump has bullied and threatened until finally the NATO leadership has given in to at least one of his ‘demands’, and they have reduced the amount the U.S. contributes to the alliance’s central budget.  According to the alliance’s secretary-general, Jens Stoltenberg …

“The U.S. will pay less, Germany will pay more, so now the U.S. and Germany will pay the same.”

The concession was made in hopes that there would be no grandstanding and drama at the summit, but I’m not holding my breath, for no doubt Trump will find something else to bitch about, will find yet another way to humiliate the citizens of the U.S.  To all my UK friends, please accept my sincere apologies in advance.

Now, about that fundraiser …

The invitation lists three tiers of donors:

  • For $125,000, a donor can join a roundtable, get a photo with the president and attend the reception.
  • For $50,000, a donor gets the photo and reception.
  • For $35,000, they can just attend the reception.

First of all, who in their right mind would pose for a picture with him???  But, to pay $125,000, or even $50,000 for it???  What comes to mind, though, is … what would anybody in the UK donating to his campaign have to gain?  Now, your ordinary person like me or you might kick in $25 to a presidential hopeful, and if we did, it would be only to help the candidate we believe best qualified for the job, for we are not in a position to trade favours.  But, when people donate hundreds of thousands of dollars, they do so in exchange for political favours.  Ponder on that one for a bit.

It is said that he is expecting to attract expatriates, and that donors must present a valid U.S. passport in order to attend, but … I guess I just have a suspicious mind.  And … if an expatriate is living in London, it seems unlikely to me that he would have an interest in helping Trump win next year’s election. Trump-State-VisitThe fundraiser will be hosted by Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, co-chair Tommy Hicks Jr., national finance chair Todd Ricketts, and Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale.  I sincerely hope the Brits put on their best display and that the baby Trump balloon is flying high!


Donnie’s twin across the pond?

I have long said that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shared DNA with Donald Trump.  Two peas in a pod.  Granted, Boris is smarter and more literate than Donnie, and even slightly easier on the eyes, but beyond that, they think alike, which is no good thing for either the U.S. or the UK.  As we all know, Donald Trump and his band of thugs have done everything in their power to roll back environmental regulations, putting animals, people and our very planet at risk.  Apparently, Boris isn’t much of a believer in climate change either.

On Thursday, a British television station, Channel 4 News, hosted a climate debate ahead of next month’s election.  Neither Prime Minister Johnson nor Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage bothered to show up.  Nigel’s excuse was that the discussion wouldn’t be about Brexit, apparently the only topic he knows how to talk about, but his absence was no great loss.  One would think, however, that the nation’s leader would be concerned enough to want to attend, to share his own views with those who will be voting in just a couple of weeks.ice-sculpture-2The Brits know how to do things up right, though.  Since Boris and Nigel failed to show up, their places on the debate stage were occupied by ice sculptures with their party’s logos.  Melting ice sculptures.  The network said the ice sculptures “represent the emergency on planet Earth.”  Seems fair enough to me.  Nigel’s absence wasn’t much noted, but Boris’ absence fueled criticism that he has sought to avoid both the public and tough questions from the press during the election campaign. In typical Trump fashion, Boris’ party, the Conservative Party, accused the network of ‘partisan bias’ just as Trump continually claims the U.S. media are biased and ‘out to get him’.  And again, in a Trumpian-style movement, the party has threatened to ‘review the network’s broadcast license’ … but not ‘til after the election.  Boris and Donnie … possibly twins separated at birth?  Both sore losers, both with juvenile temperaments, neither putting the best interests of their nations in the foreground.  Oh yeah, and both with really fake hair that looks like the straw in a horse’s stall.  And apparently, I’m not the only one who sees the resemblance …

twinstwins-2twins-3twins-4twins-5

Giving Thanks

Our friend Jeff takes this opportunity to tell us a little bit about how & why he and Greg started On the Fence Voters, and what direction they plan for the coming year. I am looking forward to working with Jeff on a project or two in the coming months … thank you, Jeff!

On The Fence Voters

With news coming at us at blinding speed, it’s tempting to do a rant on HIM today. I’m not going to do it, though. There will be plenty of time for that in the coming weeks. We have turbulent waters ahead, and it’s going to take all of us to stay focused so that we can exile the current President of the United States to one of his failing properties. We cannot allow the man to win a second term.

But today, I’d like to veer in another direction. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and well, I’d like to take the time to give thanks.

When my long-time pal Greg, aka Ohio Realist, called to ask if I’d be interested in doing this project in early 2018, I couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Both of us had remained in contact with each other after I moved to the West Coast in 2004…

View original post 556 more words

Good People Doing Good Things — A Helping Hand/Paw

Earlier this evening, my girls were watching the movie Elf … you know, the one with Ed Asner as the real Santa Clause, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, and Will Ferrell in the title role.  I glanced up to catch a minute of it every so often … I’ve only seen it a few dozen times, after all.  When I glanced up toward the end, I was struck by a woman saying that Santa’s sleigh couldn’t fly for there wasn’t enough ‘Christmas spirit’ here on earth.  And then, as I began working on my ‘good people’ post, I found myself thinking about that.  I think these people I am writing about tonight have what I would define as ‘Yearlong spirit’.


Grandma goes postal!

Meet Laura Landerman-Garber, a grandmother and full-time clinical psychologist living in Hollis, New Hampshire.  Laura has a ‘spare time’ project.  It started on Thanksgiving Day, sixteen years ago, when Laura told her family that nobody was getting a bite to eat until they had each written cards to military members. She called it the “ticket to turkey.” With the threat of turkey on the line, of course, they all pitched in.

Through the years, the project gained momentum, with other families pitching in to help.  Five years ago, her daughter’s friend was deployed in the Navy to the USS Theodore Roosevelt. Landerman-Garber pledged she would send cards to all the soldiers on what she then called a “boat.”  Her project really expanded when she found that the USS Theodore Roosevelt was actually an aircraft carrier with more than 5,000 crew members!

Ms. Landerman-Garber has a ‘can-do’ attitude, and she wasn’t about to break this promise!  So, she began to call it a “challenge” and enlisted the help of churches, synagogues, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and even politicians! cards-1The project kept growing … and growing … and this year, Ms. Landerman-Garber will be sending out over 100,000 cards to military personnel in all branches of the service!  Heck, it taxes me to mail one or two cards!  Presidential candidates Mark Sanford, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have even contributed handwritten messages on cards!

“The thought of someone being away at a time when in our culture, in American culture particularly, the holidays are all about gathering together… for me, I wanted to be able to reach out and just maybe give a little bit of a bridge so that person who is far away feels a little tiny bit closer to home. I just love the idea that whether you’re a presidential candidate — and those people have a lot of experience in our country — or you’re a 3-year-old preschooler that you can send holiday cheer to someone that’s away from home and let them know you appreciate what they’re doing.”

It may be a small thing she does, but I bet that if you asked a service member stationed far from home, he or she would tell you that to them, it’s a pretty big thing.


Cleaning up after everyone else …

Afroz-ShahAfroz Shah is a lawyer in Mumbai.  In 2015, he moved to a community in Mumbai called Versova Beach. He had played there as a child and was upset to see how much it had changed. The sand was no longer visible because it was covered by a layer of garbage more than five feet thick — most of it plastic waste.

“The whole beach was like a carpet of plastic. It repulsed me.”

Mr. Shah is not, however, one of those people who shakes his head and soon forgets about it.  In October 2015, Shah began picking up trash from the beach every Sunday morning. At first, it was just him and a neighbor, and then he began recruiting others to join in. Word spread and with help from social media, more volunteers got involved.versova-beach-plastic.jpgThe unsightly mess Shah had stumbled upon is part of a global environmental crisis. More than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans each year — the equivalent of a garbage truck dumped every minute. It’s predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish!

Mr. Shah has dedicated every weekend for the past 209 weeks to cleaning up the beach.  He inspired as many as 200,000 volunteers to pitch in, and it took three years, but by October 2018, Versova Beach was once again beautiful!Versova-Beach-before-afterIt has been called the world’s biggest beach cleanup.  But, Mr. Shah didn’t stop there.  He turned his sights elsewhere and began spending every weekend cleaning another beach as well as a stretch of the Mithi River and other regions of India.

Mr. Shah has my appreciation, and I definitely think he is one heck of a ‘good people’!  And folks … we gotta do better on this plastic thing, alright?


A good guy named Guy …Guy-BryantHis name is Guy Bryant, but they call him … Mister B.  Who is Mr. B?  Well, he’s a good people, of course!  Mr. Bryant has worked for 32 years as a community coordinator at New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. His job focuses on a specific age group:  18-21 year old kids that have ‘aged out’ of foster care, yet are in no way prepared to face the world on their own.

“It’s a big population. There’s definitely a need for the services because what happens is when a youth gets 18 years old, a lot of times they feel like, ‘I can do this.’ Most of the kids, they can’t admit who they are. Their identity is lost somewhere between the home they’ve lived in and the other 10 foster homes they might have lived in.”

In 2007, one of the young men in Bryant’s caseload asked him a question: “Will you be my father? Will you take me?” After some thought, Bryant decided to take the chance.  It worked out well.  It worked out so well, in fact, that Bryant also decided to foster the young man’s friend, as well as the friend’s brother!  But wait …

Before Bryant knew it, he had nine young men in his home and rented the floor above his apartment to have additional space.  Bryant initially had some trepidation about being a foster parent, especially as a single dad.

“Some of my fears were this: People say, ‘Why is this man doing this?’ People always think you have ulterior motives, not understanding who I am.”

Bryant does more than just provide these young people with a roof over their heads … he gives of himself.  He gives the most important thing any adult can give to a young person … he spends time with them.  He talks to them, does things with them, he plans fishing expeditions a few times a year and sometimes cooks meals with the young men, developing bonds over time.

“The difficult thing about building trust is their past interactions with adults. If I can get you to engage in conversation with me about how you’re feeling and what’s going on, then that right there, my job is done. They constantly need to be reinforced that ‘I am here. I am going to do what I say.’ My kids will tell you whatever I say, I’m going to do for you. I always do it because I don’t want you to look at me like one of those adults who let you down.”

To date, Mr. Bryant has taken in more than 50 young men, and he says he isn’t finished yet …

“The Mr. Bryant approach is I love you regardless. You could become a brain surgeon or you could be a bathroom cleaner — it doesn’t matter. Once you come into my home and you’ve been with me and you’ve been here, you’re my kid for life. That’s my approach. You’ll always have a bed to come to, a shower to take — you’ll always be able to come home. This is home.”

MrB-and-kidsMrB-cooking-lessonsFolks … I love all of my ‘good people’, but this one brought a lump to my throat.  What an awesome man, don’t you think?

And last, but not least …


Who says good people have to be humans?

The Pet and Wildlife Rescue in Chatham Kent, Ontario, found a dog curled up on the side of the road.  When they investigated further, they found the dog was taking care of … four tiny baby kittens!dog-kittens-1

dog-kittens-2

Wait!  Didn’t they say ‘four’?  I’m counting five … or is it six???

The shelter plans to keep them together until they can locate owners or find them homes.


That’s all I’ve got time for tonight, my friends, but remember … let’s all try to be ‘good people’. You don’t have to take in 50 foster kids, or spend three years cleaning a beach … there are opportunities all around you.  Just do something nice for somebody, and you’ll see how great it feels to be a ‘good people’!

Letter To Republican Senator

I think that if there is a chance that the U.S. Senate will remember their oath of office, will remember that their oath is to the U.S. Constitution, not the president, and that their loyalty damn well better be to We the People, it will only happen if we remind them.  Seems many of them have forgotten where to look for their conscience, their values.  I think the time has come to remind them.

Below is the letter I have sent to the republican senator in my own state.  Feel free to take any of the ideas expressed within if you write to your own senators.

Dear Senator Portman,

I am writing to you today, because as a resident of the State of Ohio, a citizen of the United States, I am very concerned about the actions of the Senate. 

First, I would like to remind you that you took an oath whereby you swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution.  Your loyalty is to the people of this nation, not the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office today.  We currently have the most corrupt president in the history of this nation, and frankly he has brought our reputation to its knees.  We are no longer regarded as a trusted ally by virtually any nation.  We have let the people of the entire world down with our complete disregard for the environment.  And all this has occurred in the last three years, and all because of the corruption that begins and ends with Donald Trump.

I believe it is a foregone conclusion that the House of Representatives will vote to impeach Donald Trump, possibly before the end of this year.  And then, Senator, the ball will be in your court.  The majority of people in this nation support the impeachment, conviction, and removal from office of Donald Trump.  Nothing less is acceptable, for the fate of not only this nation, but every nation in the world is at stake.  I firmly believe that within the next twelve months, Donald Trump will do everything in his power to ensure that next year’s election will be so dishonest and unfair that it will be a complete sham, a mockery of any democratic principles that remain in our nation.

I ask that you think long and hard about the actions of the Senate, search your own conscience and ask yourself if your loyalty to Donald Trump is of more value than your loyalty to the people who voted you into office.  Is your dedication to Donald Trump truly worth selling out your own values?  Is it worth risking your own career?  Can you look your three children in the eye and tell them how important it is to always ‘do the right thing’?  And perhaps for you the most important question:  Do you wish to be re-elected in 2022?  We the People have long memories, and if you fail us this time, I promise to do everything in my power to see that you never serve a third term in the U.S. Senate.

I think you know the right thing to do.  Please remember your oath of office, remember the people you are paid to serve, and do the right thing.

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, voter/citizen/taxpayer