The ‘Crisis’ That Isn’t A Crisis At All

One of the big news items this week has been a shortage of infant formula.  Now, if you think about this one, it defines a problem that I have mentioned before, and foreshadows what the future may well come to look like.  First off, there is a very cheap and readily available solution to the problem … women come fully equipped to feed their babies without needing to spend money to buy commercial formulas!  They are called ‘breasts’ and most women have two of them, thus are able to produce enough milk to feed their offspring for the first few months of life.  No other species on the planet requires commercially produced products to feed their young.  But even if, for one reason or another a woman is not able to breast-feed her newborn, there is another simple solution — regular milk with a bit of corn syrup added.  When daughter Chris was a baby, we did that more than a few times when we couldn’t afford tinned formula.  So, this shortage of infant formula is a non-crisis that has been blown way out of proportion in the media.  It’s laughable, but what it portends is not in the least bit humorous, for it shows our lack of creativity and resilience when the going gets tough.

Just a few days ago, I commented to a blogging friend that the day will come when all those billions of dollars the wealthy have hoarded will have zero value to them.  There will come a day when wits and knowledge will be the de facto currency.  If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest the book One Second After by William Forstchen.  It is a chilling tale of an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) hitting the U.S. power grid and what life would be like in the seconds, hours, days, and weeks after.  Things we don’t even think about, like being able to get a prescription for a life-saving drug such as insulin, the ability to buy food, find potable water, stay warm, and more.  The premise of an EMP hitting the power grid, or a super-storm taking out power for a long period of time, or a nuclear weapon deployed … is not at all far-fetched.  If we cannot even remember how to feed an infant without tinned formula from the supermarket, how on earth would we survive with … no supermarkets, no refrigeration, no internet, no lights, no heat, etc.?

The people who will survive will not be those wealthy people who are used to having their laundry done, meals cooked & served, houses cleaned, and every other thing done for them by servants.  The people who will survive will be those who know how to grow their own food, who are resilient enough to survive without such luxuries as automobiles, electric lighting and air-conditioning.  Will those same people who cannot even figure an alternative to commercial infant formula be able to find food and water to keep their families alive?  Not the families of those who have lived their lives believing that they are somehow ‘special’ and that their money entitles them to special treatment.  It will come down to survival of the fittest, not of the richest.

Imagine Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk being on the same playing field with all the rest of us, their billions of dollars sitting offshore in a Swiss bank, or invested in whatever high-yield stocks they own, and they have access to not a single dime.  And even if they did, there is nothing that anybody could do for them – their dimes and dollars have no value to anyone, and thus no value to them. The only things of value will be food, water, and shelter.  Will humans work together for the greater good, or will they backstab and nitpick in an attempt to rise to the top of the heap?

So, back to the shortage of infant formula … this ‘crisis’ as it’s being called, is in part due to the very people who are now crying about not being able to find formula!  You see, back in 2020 when the supply chains were tied in knots due to the pandemic, greedy people fearing a shortage bought infant formula in massive quantities and hoarded it.  People had plenty, so they didn’t need to buy it for a year or so, which led to depressed sales, supply exceeded demand, and thus the producers cut back on production.  Standard laws of supply and demand, Econ 101.  This, coupled with a recall by the nation’s largest producer of infant formula, has resulted in a 43% decrease in availability.

No, the temporary shortage of infant formula is not a ‘crisis’ by any stretch of the imagination, but we should see this as a lesson, looking into the future where other, more important things are at stake, and begin preparing for the day when there is a real crisis.  Learn to grow a few healthful things, walk more and drive less, become less dependent on modern conveniences and technology.  Be prepared.  I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor a doomsayer, but let’s face it, my friends, there are so many ways available for an enemy such as Russia to retaliate for what they perceive as our improper intervention in their affairs and … what better way than to shut off the electricity? The technology exists, has existed for many years.   And please … stop obsessing over the shortage of infant formula … it is temporary and not really important, for there are viable alternatives.  There are no viable alternatives for food and potable water.

Still Hope …

I came across an OpEd by Pulitzer Prize-winning Bret Stephens in the New York Times this morning that I thought made some excellent points, gave encouragement to not lose hope, even as our nation seems to be falling apart at the seams some days.


Can We Still Be Optimistic About America?

May 10, 2022

By Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist

This is a season — an age, really — of American pessimism.

The pessimism comes in many flavors. There is progressive pessimism: The country is tilting toward MAGA-hatted fascism or a new version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” There is conservative pessimism: The institutions, from primary schools to the Pentagon, are all being captured by wokeness. There is Afropessimism: Black people have always been excluded by systemic, ineradicable racism. There is the pessimism of the white middle and working classes: The country and the values they’ve known for generations are being hijacked by smug, self-dealing elites who view them with contempt.

There is also the pessimism of the middle: We are losing the institutional capacity, cultural norms and moral courage needed to strike pragmatic compromises at almost every level of society. Zero-sum is now our default setting.

These various kinds of pessimism may reach contradictory conclusions, but they are based on undeniable realities. In 2012, there were roughly 41,000 overdose deaths in the United States. Last year, the number topped 100,000. In 2012, there were 4.7 murders for every 100,000 people. Last year, the rate hit an estimated 6.9, a 47 percent increase. A decade ago, you rarely heard of carjackings. Now, they are through the roof. Shoplifting? Ditto. The nation’s mental health was in steep decline before the pandemic, with a 60 percent increase of major depressive episodes among adolescents between 2007 and 2019. Everything we know about the effects of lockdowns and school closures suggests it’s gotten much worse.

Economics tell a similar story. “Twenty-first-century America has somehow managed to produce markedly more wealth for its wealthholders even as it provided markedly less work for its workers,” observed Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute in a landmark 2017 Commentary essay. It’s in part from the loss of meaningful work — and the consequent evaporation of pride, purpose and dignity in labor — that we get the startling increase in death rates among white middle-aged Americans, often to suicide or substance abuse.

The list goes on, but you get the point. Even without the daily reminders of Carter-era inflation, this feels like another era of Carter-style malaise, complete with an unpopular president who tends to inspire more sympathy than he does confidence.

So why am I still an optimist when it comes to America? Because while we are bent, our adversaries are brittle. As we find ways to bend, they can only remain static or shatter.

This week brought two powerful reminders of the point. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin gave his customary May 9 Victory Day speech, in which he enlisted nostalgia for a partly mythical past to promote lies about a wholly mythical present, all for the sake of a war that is going badly for him.

Putin is belatedly discovering that the powers to humiliate, subvert and destroy are weaker forces than the powers to attract, inspire and build — powers free nations possess almost as a birthright. The Kremlin might yet be able to bludgeon its way to something it can call victory. But its reward will mainly be the very rubble it has created. The rest of Ukraine will find ways to flourish, ideally as a member of NATO and the European Union.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, more than 25 million people remain under strict lockdown, a real-world dystopia in which hovering drones warn residents through loudspeakers to “control your soul’s desire for freedom.” Does anyone still think that China’s handling of the pandemic — its deceits, its mediocre vaccines, a zero-Covid policy that manifestly failed and now this cruel lockdown that has brought hunger and medicine shortages to its richest city — is a model to the rest of the world?

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, more than 25 million people remain under strict lockdown, a real-world dystopia in which hovering drones warn residents through loudspeakers to “control your soul’s desire for freedom.” Does anyone still think that China’s handling of the pandemic — its deceits, its mediocre vaccines, a zero-Covid policy that manifestly failed and now this cruel lockdown that has brought hunger and medicine shortages to its richest city — is a model to the rest of the world?

For all its undeniable progress over 45 years, China remains a Potemkin regime obsessed with fostering aggrandizing illusions: about domestic harmony (aided by a vast system of surveillance and prison camps); about technological innovation (aided by unprecedented theft of intellectual property); about unstoppable economic growth (aided by manufactured statistics). The illusions may win status for Beijing. But they come with a heavy price: the systematic denial of truth, even to the regime itself.

Rulers who come to believe their own propaganda will inevitably miscalculate, often catastrophically. Look again at Putin, who really believed he had a competent military.

Which brings me back to the United States. Just as dictatorships advertise their strengths but hide their weaknesses — both to others and to themselves — democracies do the opposite: We obsess over our weaknesses even as we forget our formidable strengths. It is the source of our pessimism. But it is also, paradoxically, our deepest strength: In refusing to look away from our flaws, we not only acknowledge them but also begin fixing them.

We rethink. We adapt. In bending, we find new ways to grow.

We have a demonstrated record of defanging right-wing demagogues, debunking left-wing ideologues, promoting racial justice, reversing crime waves, revitalizing the political center and reinvigorating the American ideal. Our problems may be hard, but they are neither insoluble nor new.

Those without our freedoms will not be so fortunate.

Things Flying Under The Radar

Who … me????

I began working on this post yesterday afternoon but had to take a break from it to fold a load of laundry.  I made the mistake of leaving the lid open on my laptop, and when I came back, there was an ‘AZAZx’ typed where I had left off, and a pop-up box asking if I wished to continue using the microphone!  BOO!!! I know it was Boo, for he’s the only one that uses the computer, but I had my microphone disabled, so how the heck did he … that darn CAT!!!  Anyway … on to the business at hand.


For the past week or so, the news has been filled with the leaked Supreme Court draft that will almost certainly overturn Roe v Wade setting women’s rights back at least 50 years, and not much else has been covered.  Even the war in Ukraine took a backseat to Roe.  Now, I am as incensed as any about this decision and plan to speak more on the subject shortly, but there really are some other things of import that we should be aware of.  One such is another Supreme Court decision that was handed down last Monday that, in my view, treads dangerously onto the concept of separation of church and state.

The case was Shurtleff v Boston and the Court ruled that the City of Boston violated the First Amendment by denying Shurtleff’s application to fly a Christian flag over Boston City Hall.  City Hall is a government building that is visited by members of all religions and those of no religion, so why should one single religion be allowed to fly a flag.  To me, the U.S. flag and Massachusetts state flag are the only ones that should be flying over the Boston City Hall.  Not everyone working there or visiting will be Christian.  Does the Court suggest, then, that Muslims, Jews, and Jains should all be able to fly their own flags at the building?  Will it soon resemble the United Nations building?  And then … does this open the door for KKK and Nazi flags, as well?  Religion and government should never mix, and the highest Court in the land, the Court that claims to understand the Constitution so well, should have realized this was a bad decision that will open numerous doors that probably should remain closed.

Already, the Satanic Temple requests Boston to fly their flag for “Satanic Appreciation Week” from July 23-29.  Good luck keeping this from becoming a free-for-all, not only in Boston but around the nation.


In other news, First Lady Jill Biden visited Ukraine over the weekend.  It is extremely rare for a first lady to enter a war zone, but then Ms. Biden, like former First Lady Michelle Obama, has class.  She entered the country from Slovakia on Mother’s Day and met Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, who had not appeared in public since the Russian invasion began February 24th.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop, and this war has been brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

First lady Jill Biden and Olena Zelenska, spouse of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, join a group of children at School 6 in making tissue-paper bears to give as Mother’s Day gifts in Uzhhorod, Ukraine on May 8. (Susan Walsh/AP)

Quite a change from the last First Lady [sic] who wore a jacket printed with “I really don’t care, do U?” when going to visit migrant children who had been separated from their parents at the U.S. border.


And speaking of Ukraine … on Saturday, the day before First Lady Biden visited, the Russians bombed a village school in eastern Ukraine, killing as many as 60 people.  There were about 90 people sheltering in the school when the bomb hit, setting it ablaze.  More than 170 civilians were evacuated from the Mariupol area on Sunday, bringing the total to around 600 given safe passage during a week-long rescue operation.  More than 3,000 civilians have been murdered by the Russians since the initial invasion on February 24th, and it is far from being over, I fear.  Perhaps it’s time to stop allowing Putin’s thinly-veiled threats hold us hostage, keep us from ending this war before half of the people in Ukraine are dead.


Here is just one example of the reason we MUST learn the lessons of history, that we must NOT whitewash or hide true history from our young people.  In the Philippines, yesterday was election day and the people chose a new president:  Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos and the infamous Imelda Marcos.  Reading about the rallies and the support he has gotten made me feel ill, was eerily similar to Trump rallies and the fans were similar to Trump’s, chanting and holding up peace signs.

According to an article in the New York Times

Rehabilitating the family name has been a recurring theme. Over the decades, the Marcoses have sought to target young voters with no memory of martial law or the torture and killing of political prisoners. Fifty-six percent of the voting population in the Philippines is aged between 18 and 41, and most did not witness the atrocities of the Marcos regime — ideal circumstances for the spread of disinformation, opponents say.

Several groups have sought to disqualify Mr. Marcos’s candidacy, pointing to a 1995 tax evasion conviction and the $3.9 billion in estate taxes that his family still owes the government. Mr. Marcos, 64, has brushed off the attacks as “fake news,” and refused to participate in nearly all presidential debates. (Sound familiar?)

At a rally in Las Piñas, Ella Mae Alipao, 15, said that she got most of her news about Mr. Marcos from TikTok and Facebook, and that she did not “believe much in books.” After Mr. Marcos’s father was ousted, Ms. Alipao said, “the Filipinos found out how good he was; that’s when they realized that they should have made him president for a longer time.”

Mr. Marcos has made similar comments: “I’m not going to vindicate my father’s name because his name doesn’t need vindication,” he said in 1995. “I am so confident that history will judge him well.”

The current dictator calling himself ‘president’ is Rodrigo Duterte, a cruel person who has been linked to more than 1,400 ‘extrajudicial’ killings, as well as many other acts against humanitarian values.  That young lady’s statement above speaks volumes, shows us what happens when true history is withheld or whitewashed.  Are we headed down that same path?

A Spectre to be Exorcised (Communal Violence)

Once again, as he does so well, Roger is making us think, ponder, question. I find that our friends across the pond sometimes see our situation more clearly than we can … that old maxim about “can’t see the forest for the trees” I suppose. Roger is a history buff, and has a talent for applying the lessons of history to current day situations. Where is our nation to go from this point? Take a look and see. Anyway, thank you Roger for your thought-provoking words!

The World As It Is. Not As It Should Be

Foreword

This post has to be long. Histories have to be considered. Social tides and trends examined. That most troublesome of all factors Human Nature faced. It is hoped you find this grim reading, but not sensationalist. This is a precursor for you to discuss in your homes, your blogs, your meeting places. These words are based on histories of communal violence throughout the world. Including the USA. I have tried to be apolitical, most of the time. It is not always possible. Blame has to be laid in places.

Introduction

The present view that so politically polarised the USA has become, a civil war could take place has moved from blog site discussion onto the mainstream where more sober assessments are. For example:

Brookings in the following assessment of September 2021 concluded there was a sizeable proportion of the USA population who were of this mindset:

Is the US…

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A Question of Inevitability?

Our friend Roger has started a new blog! This one is a bit different than his others, for its purpose is to connect history to our political world today, to discuss in-depth topics that delve into issues of human nature. His first post is about a topic he and I have ‘agreed to disagree’ on, and we do so without rancor, without angst, but simply as two adults who value our friendship. Take a look for yourself, and let Roger (and me) know your thoughts on this somewhat divisive topic! Thank you, Sir Roger!!! 😊

The World As It Is. Not As It Should Be

These posts will be long. For the simple reason nothing in the history of Humanity can be wrapped up in one simple line. And monumental events should never be subjected to this approach.

Synopsis

Politics, History and in particular Military history have been interests of mine for most of my life. Despite the dislike many folk have for the first and third of these, they have been and are likely to be for a long time fixtures in The Human Condition. And the interactions which lead up to events are complex, with long histories of Cause & Effect. For instance, it would not be flippant to suggest that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary of the 28th June 1914 led by a long route to the dropping of the Atom Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th August 1945 and 9th August 1945 respectively. It would be possible…

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El Cinco de Mayo

I was working on a ‘snarky snippets’ post for this morning when a glance at the calendar told me that it’s el Cinco de Mayo!!!  That’s the fifth of May, but most of you probably already know that.  Miss Goose used to call it the ‘sinking of the mayonaisse’!  Anyway, I thought that before I plunge back into the darker fare, perhaps you would enjoy a bit of informational fun!  I first published this post back in 2018, so a few of my comments may be dated, but the post itself is still relevant and still fun … I hope you will enjoy it!


¡Hola Amigos!  Hoy es Sábado, el Cinco de Mayo, y … what?  You didn’t understand … oh … okay … back to Inglés then.  Today, for those who haven’t yet looked at the calendar, is May 5th, or Cinco de Mayo.  Though Cinco de Mayo is a commemoration of the Battle of Puebla in 1862, it is more widely and vigorously celebrated in the U.S. than in Mexico!

The History

Battle of Puebla reenactmentIn 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the indigenous Zapotec tribe—was elected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments.

In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces.

France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.

Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla.

The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault.

The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.

Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at the Battle of Puebla on May 5 represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. In 1867—thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the Civil War—France finally withdrew.

Sadly, General Zaragoza died of typhoid four months after the Battle of Puebla.

The Celebration:

cinco de mayo-3cinco de mayo-2cinco de mayo-1In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where Zaragoza’s unlikely victory occurred, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration. Traditions include military parades, reenactments of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events. For many Mexicans, however, May 5 is a day like any other: It is not a federal holiday, so offices, banks and stores remain open.

pinataIn the United States, however, Cinco de Mayo has increasingly become a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.  Many confuse it with Mexican Independence Day, which is actually on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo in the states is often celebrated with parades, parties, mariachi music, Mexican folk dancing and traditional foods.  The largest celebrations are in Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston.Mariachi.jpgFor the past 16 years, until last year, the White House sponsored festivities and used Cinco de Mayo to connect with the Hispanic community, inviting Cabinet members, Latino celebrities and Mexican Embassy officials to the White House.  That ended last year under … well, you-know-who.

So, if you like Mexican food (and seriously, who doesn’t???) then why not pay a visit to your favourite Mexican restaurant as a part of your weekend festivities today!  Have a fun and happy weekend whatever you do, dear friends.tequila-cat.jpg

Good People Doing Good Things – Little Kids With BIG Hearts

There are two of my ‘weekly features’ that I try, no matter what is happening, never to miss:  Jolly Monday, and Wednesday’s ‘Good People’ posts.  This week, I am somewhat in a grey haze and already missed Jolly Monday (although it might just turn up a bit later in the week  😉  )  and was ready to throw in the towel on today’s Good People post.  But then … I remembered this post from early in 2017 and as I re-read it, I thought perhaps this is just what we ALL need right now to bring us back out of that grey, hazy place!  I think these kids will bring a smile to your face — they brought one to mine!


I have been working on this post for some four hours, and thus far, this sentence is all I have.  I made several false starts … people who seemed to be philanthropists, seemed to be doing good things, but on further digging were merely collecting on other people’s altruism.  Then there were scandals with some of the people/organizations I looked into.  So, as time and energy are running on fumes at this point, and my family members who walk on all fours are determined to drive me nuts, I decided to think small tonight.  Child-sized small, in fact. Children may only be able to do small-scale deeds, but it shows us that though their bodies may be small, their hearts are big. And since these pint-sized do-gooders hold our future in their hands, it is good to see that they already have a sense of caring for others, a sense of humanity.


You are never too young to understand the value of helping others.  Second grader Phoebe Brown was running errands with her mother last week in Independence, Missouri when she came across a winning, $100 scratch-off ticket, just lying on the ground. For a fleeting moment, Phoebe admits, the thought of a spree in the toy department held a certain appeal, but it didn’t take long for her to remember that her school was having a canned food drive that week, and she ended up spending the entire $100 on canned food to donate to those less fortunate.  Her good works even inspired her dad to match every dime she spent!  At the end of the food drive, Phoebe’s class had collected 541 items of food, making them her school’s winner. As a fun reward, Phoebe and her classmates were invited to shave their gym teacher’s beard.

Wed-beard.png


A group of schoolboys in New South Wales, Australia, were about to board a bus and head home after a rugby league game when they noticed an 81-year-old gentleman moving his woodpile from the front of his home to the back, one piece at a time.  Without hesitation, the boys and their dads jumped in and moved every last piece of wood for the man.  A small gesture?  Perhaps, but it is a sign of respect and caring, a sign that these kids are being taught values and compassion.  Hats off to the rugby team at Cooma North Public School!

Wed-boys-woodpile


jaden-sink-3Westboro Baptist Church, best known for its intense hatred of most everything, is located on the East Side of Topeka, Kansas, directly across from Equality House, a resource center established by the non-profit group, Promoting Peace (interesting juxtaposition, don’t you think?).  Equality House and Promoting Peace is a whole story unto itself, but that will have to wait for some other Wednesday, because today’s story is about a six-year-old girl named Jaden Sink. After Jaden’s dad tried to explain to her that Westboro members promote messages of hate, Jayden decided she wanted to raise money toward spreading messages of love and peace. So Jayden opened a lemonade stand … not just any ol’ lemonade stand, but a pink lemonade stand, mind you!  And in the first day of business, she made $1,400!  I think this is proof that love sells better than hate!  By the end of that summer in 2013, Jaden had raised more than $23,000, all of which she donated to the cause of peace.

But Jaden’s story didn’t end there.  The story of Jaden’s pink lemonade stand went viral during that summer of 2013, and other children jumped happily on the bandwagon.  Today, there are some 70 stands worldwide, with all proceeds going toward Equality House’s anti-bullying initiatives.  Says Jaden, “We’re giving [the money] to the rainbow house to help people who are sick, and to help people be nice to each other.”  That’s my kind of kid!

Wed-Jayden-Sink


When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans on August 29, 2005, it made history as one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history.  Then-10-year-old fifth-grader Talia Leman, seeing images of the destruction on the news, launched a charity urging kids to trick-or-treat for New Orleans, ultimately raising more than $10 million for the Hurricane Katrina foundation. From there, she founded RandomKid, a nonprofit that provides resources for young people who want to make a worldwide impact on any issue. Among the company’s successful efforts are reusable water bottles, which helped fund a water pump for an African village, and a push to provide crutches and artificial limbs to Haitian earthquake victims. Here is an example of a kid who started out doing small things and ended up doing some pretty big things!


Many of these stories are about small acts of kindness, but these children have the right idea, and I would not be surprised to see them make major differences in the world one of these days.  Hats off to the kids, of course, but also to their parents who have obviously taken the time to instill compassion, kindness and caring about others into the hearts of their children.

Not a Happy Man.

Sometimes our friends across the pond see things more clearly than we do, and our friend David proves that point with this excellent post! Thank you, David!!!

The BUTHIDARS

At this point I have to admit, not for the first time that I’m not a happy man with the state of the World. The war between Russia and the Sovereign state of Ukraine where the people of Russia are not being told the true picture of why there is conflict and just what is going on is allowing innocent civilians to be deliberately targeted either by the direct orders of Uncle Vlad or at least with a nod and a wink from his office. I very much doubt that anything happens that he doesn’t know about. Added to the fact that he makes vague threats about nuclear weapons being used if there is any outside interference in order to scare off any would-be supporters of the Ukrainian people and their homeland. It seems to be working to some degree even though it could well mean the destruction of much…

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Signs of Hope?

Democracy of late has taken some hard hits around the world with the “Populist” movement gaining support in the last decade, but yesterday brought a couple of signs of hope.  In France, President Emmanuel Macron retained his seat against the populist Marine LePen in a vote of 58.5% to 41.5% … a far wider margin than had been projected earlier in the week!  Neoconservative writer Bill Kristol wrote about the French election results and why it is a good sign not only for France, but also for other democracies including the U.S.


Vive la France!

Macron beats Le Pen like a drum. Democracy wins.

by William Kristol

April 24, 2022 3:43 PM

How do you say “Whew!” en Francais? Google tells me “Ouf!”

So: Ouf!

French President Emmanuel Macron has won re-election over Marine Le Pen with about 58 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 42 percent. This is down from his 66 to 34 victory of five years ago. But it’s still a pretty resounding result for a guy who had the burden of having had to govern for five tough years—which included a pandemic, breakdowns in law and order, and inflation. At one point the polls showed Le Pen closer, but when faced with the binary choice, the French gave Macron a convincing win.

Which is good. Good for France. Good for NATO. Good for Ukraine. Good for the United States. And good for liberal democracy.

The French election results came in on the heels of a New York Times report informing us that in America, “Democratic Fatalism Intensifies.” That phrase refers to Democratic party fatalism, but given the character of today’s Republican party, one could read it as also suggesting a certain fatalism about the fight to defend liberal democracy here at home.

A great Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, reminds us in Democracy in America that fatalism is a particular temptation in modern democracies, and a deadly one. Deadly to freedom, that is. Perhaps the people of France have just done their bit to awaken us from fatalist torpor and to remind us that we, too, can make our own choices and shape our own future.

And not for the first time. The Statue of Liberty was of course a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886. This was near the height of the abandonment of Reconstruction in the South, and just six years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited the immigration of Chinese to the United States.

The Statue of Liberty was neither designed, nor presumably unveiled, with either of these directly in mind. Just as the French people weren’t thinking of the United States when they voted today.

But the Statue may have had some effect in helping check racism and nativism in the following years. And perhaps today’s vote in France can serve as something of an example for the people of the United States.

Of course, gifts are what one makes of them. If we read about the French election results, exclaim, “Ouf!,” and relapse into fatalism, then we will drift on to an unhappy November.

But we could also look across the ocean, feel some national pride, and resolve not to let the French—whose democratic revolution after all came after ours and had a less happy outcome than ours—outdo us in upholding freedom and democracy in the twenty-first century.

Meanwhile, I doff my baseball cap to our beret-wearing cousins across the ocean, and say, Vive la France!

I often disagree with Mr. Kristol on policy specifics, but I respect him and as he has shown with this piece, he is pro-democracy, unlike so many conservatives these days!

In other positive news regarding democracy and elections … in Slovenia yesterday, political newcomer liberal Robert Golob defeated Slovenia’s three-time prime minister, populist conservative Janez Janša, in elections in a country split by bitter political divisions over the rule of law.  Voter turnout was nearly 20% higher than in the last elections in that country, which might be taken as a good sign that people are tiring of the populist movement and the candidates affiliated with it and that they are seeing the role they must play if they wish to maintain their freedoms.  Let us hope, anyway.


And just because I found this one actually funny …

Happy Earth Day 2022!!!

Today is Earth Day … the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, to be exact.  Typically, Earth Day is assigned a different theme or area of focus each year; last year’s theme was “Restore Our Earth” and this year’s theme is, appropriately, “Invest in Our Planet”.  This short clip is from last year, but I loved it and so am sharing it again this year.


I am always surprised by people who say, “Yeah, so???” Or those who say “What the heck is Earth Day?”  Or worse yet, those who say it isn’t their problem. Each generation has contributed to the damage that is threatening our very survival, each generation multiplying that damage as technological ‘advances’ come along, many of which only exacerbate the problems.  Modern day jets, oil & gas pipelines, bovine-sized SUVs, food waste, plastic wrappers & containers … all these and more are fairly ensuring that within a few short decades, the planet will no longer be able to support 7+ billion humans, not to mention the plants, animals and insects that were here long before humans.

In part, we need better education about our environment and how to care for it.  But of late, climate change has become a political football with some claiming that it’s a “hoax”, others who are connected to the fossil fuel industries more concerned with their own profits than life on Earth, and still others listening to false claims by the likes of right-wing media and politicians.  None of which is helpful in the least bit — if we are to save this planet for life as we know it today, we must be united, everyone working together to clean up our acts!

So, please bear with me while I explain very briefly.


History – In The Beginning

The concept for Earth Day was conceived in the mind of then-Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Senator Nelson recruited help from Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey and others, and on April 22,1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

Earth Day 2018-4Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. By the end of that year, the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom—the highest honor given to civilians in the United States—for his role as Earth Day founder.

From Then To Now

Through the years, Earth Day has focused largely on global warming and a push for clean energy. Earth Day 2000 used the power of the Internet to organize activists, but also featured a drum chain that traveled from village to village in Gabon, Africa. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the National Mall in Washington, DC for a First Amendment Rally. Earth Day 2000 sent world leaders the loud and clear message that citizens around the world wanted quick and decisive action on global warming and clean energy.Earth Day 2018-3Earth Day 2010 saw new challenges:  Climate change deniers, well-funded oil lobbyists, reticent politicians, a disinterested public, and a divided environmental community all contributed to the narrative—cynicism versus activism.  Still, some 250,000 people showed up at the National Mall for a Climate Rally, launched the world’s largest environmental service project—A Billion Acts of Green®–introduced a global tree planting initiative that has since grown into The Canopy Project, and engaged 22,000 partners in 192 countries in observing Earth Day.


And Today???

No, this is not a picture from Ukraine, but rather a landfill in New York City taken prior to 2001, obviously, for you can see the Twin Towers in the background.

Under the previous administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was nearly decimated and environmental regulations rolled back or reversed.  For the four years between 2017-2021, the United States has stood alone among all nations in eschewing the science of global climate change.  However, thankfully, the Biden administration understands the critical need to address the multiple issues that are destroying our planet and  we are, once again, an active player in the fight against climate change and other environmental issues.  I believe that the vast majority of people in this nation do understand how critical our environment and our stewardship of the planet earth is.  Unfortunately, the pandemic and the Russian attacks on Ukraine have caused problems we couldn’t have foreseen and slowed down our progress on environmental issues.  We simply must get back on track, and soon!  Read the latest IPCC report … we are quickly running out of time!

People today are so worried about the cost of fuel for their gas-guzzling vehicles, but they should be far more concerned about what the drilling, piping, and burning of that fuel is doing to our planet!  Far worse damage occurs daily than is occurring to your wallet!


What can YOU do?

You may think that there isn’t much you, personally, can do to help restore our earth, but you’d be wrong.  Each and every one of us can do a few simple things to help and little things add up to big things, as we all know.  Here are a few ideas from the Old Farmer’s Almanac …

1. SUPPORT OUR POLLINATORS!

Bring native bees and other pollinating creatures to your garden. One way to do this is by selecting the right plants. Need ideas?

2. CLEAN UP PLASTIC IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR LOCAL PARK

One of the best ways to connect with the Earth is through cleanups! Go on a walk with a trash bag and help to clean up any plastic that you find. Perhaps you know of a nearby ditch that is polluted with trash that needs a spring cleaning! You’ll start to realize that plastic permeates every aspect of our lives. But as the world wakes up to its addiction, just how easy is it to ditch plastic while growing and storing more of our own food? Don’t forget to recycle what plastic you can. See a Plastics Recycling Chart.

3. SWAP OUT YOUR KITCHEN AND HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS!

Let’s talk about the cooking and cleaning products that touch the food we eat as well as our skin. This year, we’ve discovered a line of kitchen and household products called If You Care.” Everything’s biodegradable and does not use chemicals or plastic. Think 100% recycled aluminum foil, chemical-free parchment paper for baking, compostable bags made with potato starch, and even vegetable-based inks for their packaging. We love company’s motto: “We care simply because it’s the right thing to do!” You can find If You Care products online and in stores. See the store locator.

For more ideas, visit the Old Farmer’s Almanac.

And just a few other resources, if you’re interested:

And just for fun (and to test your knowledge) … a quiz!


In Summary

This is a post about Earth Day, but more to the point it is a post about the need for Earth Day.  It isn’t just about one day a year, about marches and articles such as this one, but it is about awareness.  The entire purpose of Earth Day is to raise awareness, to stir people to take action.  Climate deniers will continue to deny the need to protect our environment, not because they are as stupid as they seem, but rather because they are as greedy as they seem.  But there is much that each and every one of us can do with very little effort.  Recycle, pick up trash when you see it on the streets or in your local parks, plant a tree, plant flowers to encourage pollination, turn the thermostat down, conserve water, reduce food waste, turn off lights, consolidate errands and trips in the car, walk more/drive less, take the bus … use some common sense and be a good steward of the planet.  And meanwhile, keep petitioning your elected officials at local, state and federal levels … let them know that a healthy environment is more important to you than the profits of the fossil fuel and other industries.  Please … my life and yours are at stake, but more importantly our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are at stake.

Happy Earth Day, my friends!  Why not celebrate by planting a sapling or a few flowers in the back yard?

Note to readers:  Some of this post is a repeat of last year’s Earth Day post, but I have also added new content and resources relevant to 2022 and the celebration of Earth Day.