Good People Doing Good Things — Ms. Shirley Raines

Well, well, well … we made it to another Wednesday, and I don’t know about you guys, but I’m more than ready to hear about some good people for a change!  First, though, I think it is worth noting that the pandemic brought out the goodness in at least some people, and charitable donations were up in 2020 by 5% over and above those of 2019!  Last year, an estimated $471.44 billion was donated to charities around the nation, making 2020 the highest year of charitable giving on record!  Just goes to show what I’ve been saying for a few years now – there are lots ‘n lots of good people out there.


I am focusing on just one very good person today, for her story is worth telling and hearing.  She is Ms. Shirley Raines, who is giving her all to helping the homeless in a 50-block section of Los Angeles, California, referred to as Skid Row.  Even before the pandemic hit last year, causing both health and economic crises, the nation’s homeless population was already on the rise.  Now, more than a year after the last official population count, many of those working with homeless communities believe numbers are much higher.  Says Ms. Raines …

“I would estimate we’ve got about 8,000 people who are sleeping out on the streets or in some of the shelters. There are more women on the street than before. The resources had dried up.”

Ms. Raines has known hardship and her early adult life was not a happy one.  In 1990, when she was only 20 years old, her 2-year-old son, Demetrius, was living with Shirley’s grandmother, for she was struggling and finding it difficult to take care of him.  Sadly, he found some of the grandmother’s medication, tried it out, and later died in the hospital on September 6th, 1990.  Shortly thereafter, Raines lost both her grandmother and Demetrius’ biological father and felt all alone in the world.

“I blamed myself for not having stability. If only I’d had my own backyard. If only I’d had my stuff together.  I just fell apart. I lived a very unhappy life. I couldn’t keep anything together. I’m telling you, anything that I could do to get myself out of this planet, this world, I tried it. And I’m still here, you know? And I’m like, ‘What is this about?'”

After struggling with anxiety and panic disorder for decades, it was Raines’ twin sister who stepped in, urging Raines to find a purpose for her pain.  That purpose came in 2017 when Raines joined a church group on a feeding mission.

“I went to Skid Row, I’m like, ‘Oh, this is where all the broken people are? Oh, I’ve been looking for y’all all my life. I never wanted to leave. It’s a place where people have amazing hearts, but nobody can see it because they can’t see the forest for the trees.”

At first, Raines, who sports brightly colored hair and makeup, passed out clothing, food, and water. But when several Skid Row residents complimented her appearance, she offered to do their hair and makeup.

“I started with the Trans community. They were telling me that no one would give them women’s clothes because they were men. I’m like, ‘Girl, I’ll bring you some women’s clothes. I’ll bring wigs, I’ll bring you eyelashes.'”

Early on, Raines teamed up with a community group of motorcycle enthusiasts called ‘Fighters for The World MC’ who accompany her on Skid Row to provide safety and structure.

“They’re like big brothers. A lot of the homeless would get lost. They couldn’t find us, but they learned to follow the sounds of the bikes.”

As Raines’ efforts evolved into a full-scale operation, with music playing and lines forming around the block, she began providing more supplies and essentials: rape whistles, tents, sleeping bags, hygiene items — and she teamed up with local health officials to offer more services.

Heidi Behforouz, medical director for Housing for Health, a program of the L.A. County Department of Health Services, has worked with Raines on the streets and says, “she is giving people hope, a break, dignity, some fun … just reminding us that we’re all human.”

Before the pandemic, Raines was making 400 meals a week in her one-bedroom apartment kitchen in Long Beach and driving three times a week to Downtown Los Angeles to feed and bring supplies to people.  Then, as Covid-19 affected many organizations’ efforts, services dried up. But Raines pivoted, opting for bagged lunches and a tweaked schedule — and she kept going.

“When I went out there, it was like a scene from The Walking Dead. All the resources had stopped. People stopped coming to feed. People were starving. Some people had socks tied around their face, around their nose.”

Raines struggled to find enough drinking water and food to purchase, so she appealed to her followers over social media who stepped up with donations and supplies.  Raines struggled to find enough drinking water and food to purchase, so she appealed to her followers over social media who stepped up with donations and supplies.

In tandem with the health department, which provided masks, sanitizer and PPE, Raines said her group and other L.A. County non-profits and community projects worked tirelessly to serve the unseen community.

“We just had to use our best judgment and figure out some ways to still keep them fed, while keeping them safe, and while keeping us safe.”

Today, as vaccination rates are on the rise and a sense of normality is returning, Raines is offering help by way of food and supplies twice a week and expanding partnerships with local groups to let this often-overlooked population know there is hope.  Ms. Raines group now consists of about 20 volunteers and the motorcycle group are still with them, helping to organize supplies and meals.


I took my information from CNN Heroes, for Ms. Raines has been nominated a 2021 Hero, but if you would like to learn more about her and her organization, here is an excellent article in People that I wish I had seen sooner.

R.I.P. Bipartisanship

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

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


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

June 20, 2021

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Starting The Week With A Grrrrrrrrrrr

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


One man’s ignorance …

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guess how many?

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

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

Friday

5 wounded in Minneapolis Friday night

A shooting in Minneapolis Friday night left five people wounded.

1 killed and three injured in Cincinnati, Ohio

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

Saturday

2 dead, 4 injured in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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

1 dead, 4 injured in Anchorage, Alaska

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

4 injured in a shooting in Newark, New Jersey

No details

1 dead, at least 6 wounded in Oakland

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

Sunday

2 children among 8 injured in Dallas shooting

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

4 injured in Richmond, Virginia

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

1 dead, 4 injured at Indiana Juneteenth celebration

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

1 killed, 4 injured at Juneteenth Celebration in Colorado

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

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

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

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

Unaccountability

Keith, as always, has words of wisdom that need to be heard and heeded far and wide. Thank you, Keith, for reminding us of that oft-forgotten concept of “accountability”.

musingsofanoldfart

Parents have tended to emphasize to our children that they need to be accountable for their actions. When I see a child or adult accept accountability, it impresses.me, probably because it should be more commonplace than it is. “It is my fault, I messed up, and I will take care of it,” are words that need to be said more often.

Sadly, one of the worst examples of the lack of accountability is the former president. He has long avoided accountability which has contributed to his blaming others or avoiding blame for his mistakes. This is a key reason he remains an “enfant terrible” even into his 70s and is well known for his deceitful bent.

The latest example is the sycophants in Congress who are rationalizing his autocratic-like spying on people he perceives as his enemies – Democrats and the mainstream media. This is on top of only seventeen…

View original post 154 more words

A Handful of Mini-Rants

If we thought that with President Biden’s inauguration our troubles would disappear and peace would reign, we were dead wrong.  It appears to me that every Republican in any position of power, be it local, state, or federal, has taken an oath to make our lives a living hell and to destroy as much as possible of the nation.  If I could afford it, I would file a lawsuit against the Republican Party for costing me sleep, health, appetite and more!  As you read today’s snippets, you might conclude that I’m just a wee bit angry, but you’d be wrong.  I’m not a wee bit angry, I am livid.


I wonder if we could sell Texas to Mexico?

Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas is planning to spend the hard-earned tax dollars of the people of Texas and solicit donations from racists in order to ‘build that wall’ that the former guy kept touting but only actually built a few miles of.  Abbott learned from the earlier fiasco that there is no way in hell Mexico is going to pay for the wall, so instead he is going to commandeer taxpayer dollars to attempt to keep refugees out of his sorry state.  He said he would take $250 million from the state’s general revenue fund for a ‘down payment’ on his wall.  He also plans to coerce landowners on the border to allow the state to begin ‘immediate construction’ on their property.  In addition, he is asking for donations of both land and cash.  There are probably a few fools who will write him a check, but they’ll be throwing their money away, because Abbott’s wall isn’t going to happen (I hope).

Most people in the know say that Abbott’s proposed wall will meet its destiny, likely in the courts.  According to David Donatti, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas …

“If the governor wants to blow hot air on TV, he can do that. I truly don’t think he has thought this through. The governor is not a king. We have checks and balances in the state of Texas.”

As it happens, the governor does not have jurisdiction to enforce immigration laws, which are the sole responsibility of the federal government.  Apparently, Mr. Abbott needs to study the U.S. Constitution and his job description a bit longer.  He is up for re-election next year and … I would like to see him toppled, for he is an ass, but his likely primary opponent, Don Huffines, is just as big of an ass who also supports the idea of a wall, saying …

“The Biden Administration won’t secure our border, so Texas will.”

Sheesh, Republicans … do you not have anybody in your party with at least half a brain and a conscience???


Meanwhile …

Unlike the former guy, President Biden understands the seriousness of climate change and part of his campaign promise was to cut carbon emissions, cut back on fossil fuels, and expand renewable energy sources.  In way of keeping that promise, one of Biden’s first actions, his first week in office, was to issue a series of executive orders, one of which was to put a temporary ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal land.  Thumbs up, I say, for I ascribe to the mantra “Leave it in the ground”, even if it makes life a bit inconvenient for some, or … GASP … reduces the profits of the big oil, gas and coal companies.

But, alas, if something makes sense and is good for the environment, good for the people, you can count on the damn republicans to nix it.  In this case, Jeff Landry, the Republican attorney general of Louisiana and attorneys general from 12 other states, all Republicans, filed suit in March to lift the White House executive order.

Judge Doughty

On Tuesday, Judge Terry Alvin Doughty of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana – a Trump appointee –  granted a preliminary injunction claiming that that the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases “lies solely with Congress” because it was the legislative branch that originally made federal lands and waters available for leasing.

DAMMIT Republicans!!!  The future of the human and many other species depends on switching to renewable energy, on leaving the damn fossil fuels where they belong … in the ground!  I don’t want your damned oil and frankly I don’t care if the CEOs of every fossil fuel corporation, who have been robbing us blind for decades now, all fall off of Wall Street and end up without a penny!  We have, for the first time in over four years, a president who cares about the future of the planet, who cares about We the People, our children and grandchildren, more than you the Rich Bastards!

As for Judge Terry Alvin Doughty … I wonder if he called the former guy to ask his advice on this one, for it reeks of trumpism.


Manchin’s “Compromise”

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia … you know, that state that has no economy and thrives on ignorance … already said he would not support the For the People Act that would ensure our voting rights, among other things.  Our right to vote … our only voice in our lives, our future … and Manchin doesn’t care enough to support it.  But wait …

Just this week, Manchin drafted a memo stating that he would be willing to compromise.  He would support at least two weeks of federally mandated early voting and to eliminate partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.  Well, that’s a good start, though not nearly enough.  But wait …

Manchin has conditions!  Manchin’s compromise would require an ID requirement for all voters and the ability of local election officials to purge voter rolls using other government records.  NO NO NO NO NO!!!

One thing that keeps many poor people, Blacks and Hispanics away from the polls is that ID requirement and it is grossly unfair!  My granddaughter does not have a photo ID, she does not drive, and I don’t have the means to take her to obtain a state issued ID.  She is 26 years old and has been voting by mail since she was 18.  Under Manchin’s version of this bill, she would not be able to vote.  I know numerous Black people here in my own neighborhood who do not have a photo ID, but they pay taxes, they are citizens, and they have the right to vote, dammit!

And Manchin’s notion of allowing election officials to purge voter rolls is far too vague.  I can understand purging voters who have died or moved out of the state, but to give state and local election officials carte blanche to purge voter rolls at will?  Surely you jest!  Said Manchin …

“I’ve been sharing everything that I support and things I can support and vote with and things that I think is in the bill that doesn’t need to be in the bill, that doesn’t really interact with what we’re doing in West Virginia. We’ll have to see what changes are made.”

West Virginia is only one of fifty states, Manchin!  The rest of us matter too!  The bottom line, though, is it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference if Manchin supports the bill or not, for it will be subjected to the senate filibuster and we all know there are not ten republicans in the United States Senate who have a conscience.  Hell, I’m not sure there are ten republicans in the United States who have a conscience!  As far as I’m concerned, Joe Manchin can stick his ‘compromise’ where the sun doesn’t shine.

Good People (And A Critter) Doing Good Things

Here we are back at Wednesday and guess what?  I found some good people to tell you about!  Surprised, aren’t you?


One heck of a gift …

17-year-old Verda Tetteh is a very smart young woman!  She graduated from Fitchburg High School in Massachusetts with a near-perfect 4.9 GPA and has earned a full scholarship to Harvard University!  Even so, her guidance counselor urged her to apply for a $40,000 merit scholarship her school would be awarding to one male and one female graduating student, saying it would help with expenses.  Verda says she had qualms about applying, but figured she wasn’t likely to win anyway, and her counselor seemed set on it.

So, imagine her surprise when on June 4th, during the graduation ceremony, the school’s assistant principal announced that she was the winner of the $40,000 award!  Stunned, she accepted the award, but then ten minutes later walked back onto the stage, apologized for disrupting the ceremony, and said …

“I am so very grateful for this, but I also know that I am not the one who needs this the most. I would be so very grateful if administration would consider giving the General Excellence scholarship to someone who is going into community college.”

Immediately after her speech, her fellow classmates and the crowd at the ceremony cheered and rose in a standing ovation.

Ms. Tetteh was 8 years old when she moved from Ghana to Fitchburg, a city of about 40,000 people, 50 miles west of Boston, a city where more than 60% of the students in the high school are identified by the State Department of Education as “economically disadvantaged,” and 67% are described as “high needs.”  Some 75% of the roughly 1,300 students are students of color, said Jeremy Roche, the school principal. At least 40% percent of those students go to community college when they graduate.

Ms. Tetteh was chosen by her fellow classmates to be the speaker at their graduation.

“Some of us were born with the odds stacked against us, that we may not make it to today. I have gotten to know so many of you these past four years and there is so much potential in our class. To every immigrant child, you can make it. To every dreamer, you can make it.”

What a remarkably compassionate, generous young woman, don’t you think?  She serves as an inspiration to us all.  I think Verda Tetteh will go far in this world, no doubt helping many people along the way.


One heck of a good deed for veterans

Marty Weber and Jeff Poissant met in the late 1980s while both were in the U.S. Army stationed in Germany.  They became business and life partners for three decades before Poissant died four years ago of cancer at age 56.

“I didn’t even know I was attracted to men. I met him, and we fell in instant love. We did. He knew, but I didn’t. We were two peas in a pod. He was a helicopter crew chief, and I was a truck driver. So, we had land and air.”

Together, they owned a successful landscaping business, a home and an adjacent 36 acres of land that is currently unused, though they had always envisioned somehow using their Ocean County Ponderosa to help fellow veterans.

After Jeff’s death, Marty was offered $3 million for the property, but he held out, still wanting to put it to good use, to use it to help fellow veterans.  And that’s when a fellow veteran Keith Petterson, suggested that Weber get in touch with the head of a local homeless outreach organization looking to create a home for homeless veterans. That person was Paul Hulse, director of Just Believe, a group he founded in 2019 that operates Toms River’s Code Blue warming shelter at Riverwood Park.

Well, Marty made that phone call and that set the ball in motion for development of an 8,000-square-foot building along Route 72, which would be divided between a treatment facility operated by a Marlton-based healthcare provider, New Life Addiction Services and a thrift store run by Just Believe.  Its name? Jeff’s Camp.

Marty Weber turned down $3 million to instead help fellow veterans.

“We thought about a cemetery for the vets. But this is going to keep them alive.”

What a marvelous tribute to his life’s partner and such a great thing for veterans who served their country and now need a bit of help.  Thank you, Marty Weber!


What a way to spend a vacation!

Stefani Shamrowicz is a 24-year-old woman from Fort Collins, Colorado, who had the great fortune of a month off from her job at a campus recreation center.  So what did she do with her time off … a trip to Disneyland?  Hiking the Rockies?  Getting a tan at a beach?  Nope, Stefani spent the entire month … wait for it … picking up trash!

She has now driven over 70 hours through Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York—cleaning up everything from pee-filled bottles to lawn ornaments.  Says Ms. Shamrowicz …

“About 80 per cent is drinking bottles and face masks have been pretty common. I’ve found a few fast-food toys and a tire with a pair of cowboy boots in it.”

Stefani said her aim isn’t to shame, but rather encourage people to do what they can.

“When I post it’s never ‘this is disgusting or we’re awful,’ it’s ‘hey I’m cleaning up this city’ and keeping a positive light on it. I’m not going to be able to pick up everything, but if everyone starts picking up some on walks or runs, that’s where the magic is. My monumental day was bag 100 in Ohio on day 16. I dedicated that to my parents because they raised me to be this independent person and have been very supportive on the trip.”

What an awesome young woman!  I haven’t been walking at our local park this year, but in years past I saw water bottles, soda cans, discarded shoes & clothing, food wrappers, and other assorted junk just thrown down on the ground, despite the fact that there are 4 large trashcans in this very small park!  A few times I came home, got a trash bag, and went back to clean up as much as I could.  I don’t know why people are too lazy to carry their trash to a bin or some other appropriate place … to me, it is ignorant and cruel to the environment.  I doubt any of us are going to spend a month picking up other people’s trash, but when you see something thrown down in a parking lot or on a sidewalk … bend down and pick it up!  And a huge thanks from Planet Earth to Ms. Shamrowicz for doing her part to clean up!!!


Give that dog a bone!

Every now and then, I have a story about a good critter doing good things, and this week look what I found!

You know how it is when there’s a toddler in the house, just learning his way around, needing to explore every nook and cranny … and stairs!  Well, Lisa is a Great Dane puppy living in a house with one of those pesky always-on-the-move toddlers, but Lisa has made it her job to keep that little tyke from climbing the stairs!  Watch …

Good job, Lisa!  Make them give you an extra bone for your hard work!

Making A Mockery Of Our Lives …

Of late, the Republican Party, aka GOP, have done most everything in their power to make a mockery of this nation, of the democratic underpinnings in our very foundation, and of the U.S. Constitution.  They have tested the limits of lunacy and it almost seems as if their entire goal is to prove that nothing really matters, that people don’t matter, the environment doesn’t matter, our very lives matter little to them.  Now, it’s easy to brush off their lies, their conspiracy theories as being beneath our dignity to even discuss.  And in one sense that’s true, but in another sense … their constituents listen to them, hang on their every word, believe them, and in far too many cases, such as January 6th of this year, act upon their words.  This means that yes, we must pay attention, we must be prepared to tell the truth, to counter their ignorance.  I have a few recent examples to share with you …


Last month, before Mitch McConnell and his band of senatorial thugs killed any hope for a congressional investigation into the lead-up and events of January 6th, the uneducated Margie Greene posted her argument against such an investigation on her social media accounts.

“They’re only going to use the January 6 Commission to tear down Trump’s legacy, tear down and smear him if he runs for president again in 2024.  And it will be used to demoralize Trump supporters and people that loved attending rallies and loved the MAGA movement and love America First policies, and it will be used to demoralize them and paint them as if they’re horrible people that entered the Capitol — breached the Capitol on January 6.”

Excuse me, Margie, but they are horrible people, else they would not have hung a noose outside the Capitol, would not have busted windows, pooped on the walls and floors, destroyed property, chanted ‘Hang Mike Pence’, and killed a Capitol policeman while injuring 140 others.  If this isn’t the definition of ‘horrible people’ then I don’t know what is.


Climate change is no laughing matter … with every passing day, the hope for a continuation of human life beyond the end of this century grows dimmer.  Scientists are working diligently to find ways in which we can slow or reverse the damage that has been done by people in industrialized nations.  They have some, but not all of the answers.  Enter U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert who claims to have the only answer we need.

Mr. Gohmert attended a House Natural Resources Committee hearing a week ago where he posed the following to Jennifer Eberlien, an associate deputy chief of the Forest Service …

“I understand, from what’s been testified to the Forest Service and the BLM, you want very much to work on the issue of climate change. I was informed by the immediate past director of NASA that they’ve found that the moon’s orbit is changing slightly and so is the Earth’s orbit around the sun. We know there’s been significant solar flare activity.  And so, is there anything that the National Forest Service or BLM can do to change the course of the moon’s orbit or the Earth’s orbit around the sun? Obviously, that would have profound effects on our climate.”

A lot of people found Gohmert’s remarks humorous … I did not.  They show a profound ignorance that should have disqualified him from holding a seat in the House of Representatives long ago.  He is an attorney and a former judge who has held a seat in the U.S. House, representing Texas, since 2005.  Listening to him, I would have guessed he had but a sixth-grade education.  Like Ms. Greene, he has made a mockery of a very serious issue.  And also like Ms. Greene, Gohmert is a follower of the conspiracy theory group QAnon.


And then there is the first-term U.S. House Representative from Georgia, Andrew Clyde, who along with Gohmert, has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that having to pass through a metal detector each day like his 434 colleagues do, largely without complaint, is a violation of … something.  His civil rights, perhaps?

“Unconstitutional!” “Authoritarian conduct!” “An active ongoing attack on our democracy!”

Oh for Pete’s sake!  Grow up, Andy … grow a pair!

Although he has been in Congress for only six months, Mr. Clyde has already been fined some $15,000 for refusing to cooperate with Capitol Police’s efforts to ensure the safety of every member of Congress.  If he is such a crybaby that he cannot man up and walk through a metal detector without having a meltdown, he surely does NOT belong in the United States House of Representatives any more than his two aforementioned colleagues do!  Mr. Clyde is a former gun shop owner back in Georgia who wears a tie clip in the shape of an automatic weapon.  Nice … real professional.


This might all be humorous if it weren’t truly a threat to our way of life, to the government we rely on in so many ways.  Is this, then, the face of the new Republican Party?  I still shake my head in amazement to remember that GOP once stood for Grand Old Party.  No more can they claim that title, for they have sold us downriver a thousand times over in the past decade.  These three examples are but a small sampling of the sheer ignorance that now dominates the GOP, the mockery they are making of our lives.

Thoughts From The Mind of Filosofa

I seem to have a real knack for getting ‘punished’ by the great Tweety god, aka Twitter aka Jack Dorsey and his robocrew.  I find it hilarious that Margie Greene, Matt Gaetz, Don Junior, Lindsey Graham and the rest can say pretty much whatever they wish, but when I make what I consider an innocuous reply to a post, I am suspended.  Here’s what happened …

The two-faced toadie Lindsey Graham made a really stupid comment whereby he said that …

“If Trump was right about the lab leak, it would change the image the public had of President Trump regarding the Coronavirus …”

I nearly choked on my laughter when I saw that one, and immediately just had to respond with …

No, Stupid, Trump is still single-handedly responsible for the more than 600,000 U.S. deaths, as he kept telling us it was “no big deal” and would be gone, and to just drink bleach. Your ‘hero’ is a madman who deserves the death penalty that he gave to this nation.

Had I not been limited to the 270 character limit, I could have done even better!  Now, you’ll note that nowhere did I call for violence or for an insurrection as some have done.  However, in less than 20 seconds, I received the following notice …

Hi Jill Dennison,

Your account, @GrannieJ has been locked for violating the Twitter Rules.

Specifically for:

Violating our rules against promoting or encouraging suicide or self-harm.

You may not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm. When we receive reports that a person is threatening suicide or self-harm, we may take a number of steps to assist them, such as reaching out to that person and providing resources such as contact information for our mental health partners.

If you are having thoughts of self-harm, suicide, or depression, we encourage you to please reach out to someone and request help. Our Safety Center has a list of resources you can consult for a variety of reasons, including depression, loneliness, substance abuse, illness, relationship problems, and economic problems. You can find those resources here: https://about.twitter.com/safety/safety-partners.html#mental-health/us.

Please know that there are people out there who care about you, and that you are not alone.   

avatar                 

Jill Dennison

@GrannieJ

No, Stupid, Trump is still single-handedly responsible for the more than 600,000 U.S. deaths, as he kept telling us it was “no big deal” and would be gone, and to just drink bleach. Your ‘hero’ is a madman who deserves the death penalty that he gave to this nation.         

Please note that repeated violations may lead to a permanent suspension of your account. Proceed to Twitter now to fix the issue with your account.

Where in the Sam Hell did they get the idea that I was suicidal???  They didn’t even have time to read the f*cking message, let alone to ponder its meaning!  I took my comment down, but then when I tried to simply ‘like’ a post by Bro, it popped up the same message, saying that my account is suspended for 12 hours!  I don’t care, I think it’s funny and I was soon headed to bed anyway, but I DO care in the sense that many people have said much worse than I and not been ‘punished’.  This is my third suspension from these jackals … Jack Dorsey is now on my shit list … and as soon as my suspension is lifted, I shall let him know it!  Stay tuned!


Y’know, folks … I’ve said to more than one person of late that this nation has let me down, that I am so disappointed in the people of this nation, that it is no longer a country that I recognize.  Racism, guns, the Big Lie, and more have darkened my view of the country I’ve spent 70 years in.  My dilemma is whether to try to escape to either Canada or the UK, likely saving my life, or to stay and fight, to keep trying to wake the ignorant masses and inject just a spot of remorse into the politicos.  And then I remember the words of the late, great Maya Angelou.  I would like to share those words with you today, ask you to think about them, decide whether you will rise …

Still I Rise

Maya Angelou – 1928-2014

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

 

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

 

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

 

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?

 

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.

 

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

 

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

 

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

 

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Ulcer-Inducing Mini Rants

Tonight’s min-rants have me growling, my ulcer flared up, and I will probably need a few hours of winding down before I can sleep.  But, rather than jump straight into a rant, let’s start out with something I found at least mildly humorous …


A bit of humour …

One of my many daily newsletters had this paragraph in talking about the comparison between the former guy and the UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, affectionately called BoJo in the UK …

There’s been talk about how Biden and Johnson — whom the President’s predecessor referred to as “Britain Trump” — won’t get on. After all, Johnson, like the 45th US President, is a populist who won power by courting blue-collar grievance, had an itinerant love life, a distant acquaintance with the truth and a blond edifice on his head that defies gravity. 

That last part about the hair especially made me laugh.  At least, though, Boris doesn’t wear ugly orange makeup!  And … he can speak in full sentences … I’ve HEARD HIM!


Where did she get her medical license?

Sherri Tenpenny is allegedly a medical doctor based in Cleveland, Ohio, though if she does, in fact, have a license to practice medicine it should be immediately revoked.  She is known for her anti-vaccination campaigns and conspiracy theories and in May she put out a video claiming that the Covid vaccine would cause infertility in males and birth defects in a fetus if the mother received the vaccine.  She claimed this is all linked to a conspiracy by “the globalists and the de-population eugenicists, the stated Satanists who are out to destroy the world”.  I wonder if she’s been hanging out with ol’ Margie Greene?  Why would a doctor … someone the public is supposed to be able to trust, tell her patients bald-faced lies?   But wait, you haven’t heard the latest.

For some reason that I will never understand, this fruitcake was invited to testify as an “expert” witness Tuesday to a hearing in the Ohio House Health Committee in regards to a bill that would prevent businesses or the government from requiring proof of vaccination.  Her testimony was bizarre, to say the least, as she claimed that the vaccine turns people into magnets …

“I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures all over the Internet of people who have had these shots and now they’re magnetized. They can put a key on their forehead. It sticks. They can put spoons and forks all over them and they can stick, because now we think that there’s a metal piece to that.”

Gee … I scan the internet 12 hours or so every day and not once have I seen a person with keys or silverware attached to them!  In fact, having recently received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, I decided to try this at home.  Nope, the butcher knife did not stick to me, though it did almost cost me a toe or two as it fell rapidly to the floor!  If you live in or around Cleveland, Ohio, please stay as far away from this quack as possible!  Meanwhile, I am writing to the State Medical Board to request that her license to practice medicine be immediately revoked … she’s a bigger nutcase than even Rand Paul!

Tenpenny also vaguely suggested that somehow the vaccine interfaces with 5G towers (those cellular towers that everyone seems to have some conspiracy theory about).  Now, you and I can blow this woman off, see her for the psycho that she is, but apparently Ohio legislators aren’t as intelligent as we are, for there was almost no pushback against her lunatic ramblings.  In fact, Representative Jennifer L. Gross, a nurse who co-sponsored the bill, told Tenpenny …

“What an honor to have you here.”

Say WHAT???  I’m moving out of this damn state!!!  My daughter’s company has its headquarters in New York … perhaps she can request a transfer!

It should come as no surprise to learn that Tenpenny is an anti-vaxxer who authored a book titled “Saying No to Vaccines” in 2008.  What does come as a surprise is that she’s still allowed to practice medicine.  And you wonder why I have a difficult time trusting the medical community?  Here we are trying to convince people to get the vaccine so that we can all be safer and freer, and this loon is perpetuating all these frightening lies to people who probably believe her and will continue being a walking germ tree.


What are they teaching their children?  What is this nation becoming?

People all across this nation and around the globe have found the brutal murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin to be a horrific crime.  We have all mourned Mr. Floyd’s death, it has led to massive rallies by Black Lives Matter groups, and there has been nothing even remotely humorous about it.  Until three high school boys … racist juveniles … thought it would be funny to re-enact the murder.

It happened at Mead High School in Longmont, Colorado when a trio of male students there published an image of them re-enacting Floyd’s murder in the school’s parking lot last month. Two of them had their knees on their classmate’s neck and back. The teen who was supposed to be Floyd was in blackface and lying motionless on the ground.  “Bye bye senoirs [sic],” the caption read, with a hand-waving emoji to the class of 2021.  They cannot even f*cking spell the word ‘seniors’ and they are in high school doing this disgusting, criminal sort of thing!

What the hell sort of values are we teaching our children?  Apparently in Longmont, Colorado, parents are teaching them to be racist jerks!  Just yesterday morning I wrote about young people seeing a need and reaching out, starting charities to help people, and now THIS!

To their credit, most students were sickened and outraged by the episode, and some claimed there has long been a culture of racism at the school.  The school’s principal of the last 12 years, Rachael Ayers, resigned as a result.

Folks … this story has literally made me ill.  I hold the parents of these three teens responsible for failing to even attempt to teach them values or kindness to others.  If we, as a nation, continue to allow these sort of incidents, then we are signing the death warrant of the nation.  The three students were each suspended from school for five days … big fat deal … they probably enjoyed those five days, rather than seeing them as punishment.  At the risk of sounding radical, I would like to see every parent of these three in jail for 50 days each and then forced to attend parenting classes, for they’ve obviously got it all wrong!


I’ll end as I began, with a bit of (dark) humour …

Good People Doing Good Things — Today’s Youth

We hear a lot about “young people today”, much of it negative.  But today’s good people are all youths who have started their own charities doing a variety of different things to help others.  If these are indicative of most young people today, I’d say the future is in pretty good hands!

I can only give a brief snippet about each of these young people and their endeavors, but I will provide a link to each one’s charity so you can find out more about them if you wish.


EVERY CHILD NOW

Every Child Now is a youth-run organization focusing on holistic development aid and empowerment projects worldwide. This nonprofit was spearheaded by two brothers, Vishal and Ishan Villay, and a small group of their peers at just 13 years old, after an inspiring trip to India.

Vishal is now 18 years old and has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work. Since the conception of Every Child Now, the charity has raised $100 000, and distributed over 35, 000 units of “basic supplies,” which are a range of resources across education, food, healthcare, shelter, and water sectors. Every Child Now has grown into a national organization and also works domestically to promote and protect children’s rights in the Villay’s home country of Canada.


HALIFAX TO BEIRUT WITH LOVE

After the recent explosion in Beirut, Halifax local Jaden Lawen decided to launch Halifax to Beirut With Love, at just 17 years old. This Canadian-Lebanse citizen spent every summer in Beirut as he was growing up. Unfortunately, he received multiple notices and photographs of his close friends in the hospital following the explosion. Upon hearing the stories of their injuries and their trauma, Jaden hoped to travel to Beirut to provide on-the-ground assistance in whatever way possible. Unfortunately, due to the current global climate amidst a pandemic, this was not an option, and so Halifax to Beirut with Love was born.

In just a few short months, the Jaden raised over $17,000 dollars for the Red Cross relief efforts.


VANILLA FEEDS TOMORROW

14-year-old William Cabaniss states that he has always been troubled thinking about how people can go hungry and that citizens of his community may be starving. Especially in the height of the pandemic, William became increasingly concerned about the unmet demand for food security resources and food hampers from the local food bank. When he thought about something that he could do to raise money to help support the food banks and shelters in the area, he thought about his talents and love of baking. “I love the added taste that comes from vanilla extract. When I bake, I like to add a touch of vanilla extract even if it is not called for”, he states on his website. And so, Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow was founded. William did some research and learned how to make premium vanilla extract at home using Madagascar vanilla beans. In his first few days of selling his homemade extract, he raised thousands of dollars and has continued to grow his operation since the beginning of the pandemic.


BALL4GOOD

After spending 20% of a 7th-grade history class on a service project, Adom Appiah decided to launch and continue his work through the charity Ball4good officially. This nonprofit aims to support various community charities and organizations through organized, charitable sports events. Adom and his team would host large sports events, and admissions fees are donated to various charities chosen by the Adom, and the community. After receiving national recognition for his work, Adom had attracted major celebrities’ attention. And now, many famous coaches and players have partnered with the charity to draw extra guests and funds to all of his events!

Adom is also the author of Kids Can Change the World, a book inspiring youth to follow their passions.


CONAN FUND

After losing his father to suicide in 2018, 16-year-old Jacob Grosberg decided to start The Conan Fund. The charity is a mental health advocacy agency that aims to raise awareness and raise funds for mental health organizations that provide resources to adults and children in urgent need of support. Since Grosberg started The Conan Fund in honor of his late father, he has raised over $12 000 and funded the help of over 60,000 people in need of mental health resources. Many national and international organizations have recognized Jacob for his work.


BE THE CHANGE COLORING CO.

Lauryn Hong, Ella Matlock, Sofia Migliazza, and Erin Rogers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started to take over the world, four high school students, Lauryn Hong, Ella Matlock, Sofia Migliazza, and Erin Rogers, from Long Beach, decided they were going to use their creative talents to serve their community. Together, they drew and developed coloring books for kids that explained best practices for staying safe during the pandemic and being kind to one another. Each customer is given a chance to choose the charity they would like the proceeds from each book sale to go to. However, each book is focused on a different issue and has another suggested organization beneficiary.


CHELSEA’S CHARITY

While not technically yet a teenager, 10-year-old Chelsea deserved a feature, without question. A firm believer in the benefits of art therapy, Chelsea decided that instead of presents for her 10th birthday, she would ask guests to donate art supplies to build art therapy boxes, which she would distribute to children going through difficult times. Chelsea knows that creative expression is an excellent way to assist in healing from grief and promote self-expression. So even after her birthday was over, Chelsea knew that she needed to keep making these kits to make art therapy accessible for everyone. After Chelsea’s Charity became an official nonprofit, Chelsea has fundraised, assembled, and distributed thousands of art therapy kits to children in the El Paso area and taught free art classes herself.

*Note:  I featured Chelsea last year in another good people post, but I am including her here, for I felt a re-visit was in order.


NOAHS ARK PROJECT

14-year-old Noah enlisted his father, Mark, to found Noah’s Ark Project after being distressed by the prevalence of homelessness on vacation. Together, they set out to acquire sleeping bags out of an emergency fabric designed by NASA for first responders to provide instant warmth. It was imperative to Noah that the sleeping bags were easily portable and lightweight and would provide adequate protection from inclement weather for those without a permanent shelter. Noah’s Ark has continued to grow exponentially and has garnered plenty of media attention. Thousands of sleeping bags have been distributed to homeless US citizens, including a large population of homeless veterans since the project began.