A Wake-Up Call

I’ve mentioned a few times that I wonder, as Trump sees his poll numbers sliding and as we move closer and closer to election day, what new tricks Trump will try to ensure his re-election.  It seems he has pulled a number of tricks out of his sleazy bag, but are there more?  Robert Reich’s column in The Guardian today shows us what has been done, and what is left that could happen.  We all need to be aware, to stay on our toes, to be ready to fight back.  And most of all … on November 3rd … VOTE!


Donald Trump’s re-election playbook: 25 ways he’ll lie, cheat and abuse his power

From now until November, opponents of the most lawless president in history face a fight for democracy itself

Robert Reich-4By Robert Reich

Donald Trump will do anything to be re-elected. His opponents are limited because they believe in democracy. Trump has no limits because he doesn’t.

Here’s Trump’s re-election playbook, in 25 simple steps:

1) Declare yourself above the law.

2) Use racist fearmongering. Demand “law and order” and describe protesters as “thugs”, “lowlife” and “rioters and looters”. Describe Covid-19 as “kung-flu”. Retweet posts from white supremacists. In your campaign ads, use a symbol associated with Nazis.

3) Appoint an attorney general more loyal to you than to America, and politicize the Department of Justice so it’s lenient on your loyalists and comes down hard on your enemies. Have it lighten the sentence of a crony convicted of lying under oath. Order investigations of industries you dislike.

4) Fire US attorneys who are investigating you.

5) Fire independent inspectors general who are looking into what you’ve done. Crush any whistleblowers you find.

6) Demean and ignore the intelligence community. Appoint a director of national intelligence more loyal to you than to America. Demand that the head of the FBI pledge loyalty to you.

7) Pack the federal courts with judges and justices more loyal to you than to the constitution.

8) Politicize the Department of Defense so generals will back whatever you order. Refer to them as “my generals”. Have them help clear out protesters. Order the military to surveil protesters. Tell governors you’ll bring in the military to stop protesters.

9) Purge your party of anyone disloyal to you and turn it into a mindless, brainless, spineless cult.

10) Get rid of accumulated experience and expertise in government. Demean career public servants. Hollow out the state department, the Departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, and public health.

11) Reward donors and cronies with bailouts, tax breaks, subsidies, government contracts, regulatory rollbacks and plum jobs. Put their lobbyists in charge of your agencies. Distribute $500bn in pandemic assistance to corporations in secret, without any oversight.

12) Coddle dictators. Don’t criticize their human rights abuses. Refuse to work with the leaders of other democracies. Withdraw from international treaties.

13) Create scapegoats. Demonize migrants and lock up asylum seekers at the border, even if they’re children. Put a white nationalist in charge of immigration policy. Blame Muslims, Mexicans and Chinese.

14) Denigrate and ridicule all critics. Describe opponents as “human scum”. Attack the mainstream media as purveyors of “fake news” and “enemies of the people”.

15) Conjure up conspiracies supposedly led by your predecessor and your opponent in the last election. Without any evidence, accuse your predecessor of “treason”. Fabricate a “deep state” out to get you.

16) Downplay real threats to the nation, such as a rapidly spreading pandemicLie about your utter failure to contain it. Muzzle public health experts. Urge people to go back to work even as the pandemic worsens in parts of the country.

17) Encourage armed supporters to “liberate” states from elected officials who disagree with you.

18) Bribe other nations to investigate your electoral opponent and flood social media with lies about him.

19) Use rightwing propaganda machines like Fox News and conspiracy-theory-peddling One America News to inundate the country with your lies. Ensure that the morally bankrupt chief executive of Facebook allows you to spread your lies on the biggest media machine in the world.

20) Suppress the votes of people likely to vote against youIntimidate voters of color. Encourage Republican governors to purge voter rolls, demand voter ID and close polling places.

21) Seek to prevent mail-in ballots during the pandemic. Claim they will cause voter fraud, without evidence. Threaten to close the US postal service.

22) Get Vladimir Putin to hack into US election machinesas he did in 2016 but can now do with more experience and deftness. Promise him that in return you’ll further destabilize America as well as Nato. Let him even place a bounty on killing US troops in Afghanistan.

23) If it still looks like you’ll be voted out, try to postpone the election.

24) If you’re voted out of office notwithstanding all this, refuse to leave. Contest the election, claim massive fraud, say it’s a conspiracy, get your cult of a political party to support your lies, get your propaganda machine to repeat them, get your justice department to back you, get your judges and justices to affirm you, get your generals to suppress any subsequent rebellion.

25) Declare victory.

Memo to America: beware Trump’s playbook. Spread the truth. Stay vigilant. Fight for our democracy.

Trump/Putin … Which Is Worse?

I came across this in The Guardian last night and felt it was well worth sharing. It is chilling, and at the same time thought-provoking.


Interview

Masha Gessen: ‘I never thought I’d say it, but Trump is worse than Putin’

Lisa O’Kelly

Four years ago, the author predicted that Trump would transform the US into an autocracy. Now, Gessen believes the country is in a revolutionary moment

Masha Gessen is a Russian-American author and journalist who has been writing about Vladimir Putin and other modern autocrats for two decades. After Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in 2016, they wrote an essay in the New York Review of Books arguing that it was folly to regard him as a regular politician and predicting that he would attempt to transform America into a Putin-style autocracy. Gessen’s new book, Surviving Autocracy, demonstrates how Trump has come closer to achieving autocratic rule than most people would have thought possible.

How do you feel about your predictions having come to pass?

If you look at the essay, I think it holds up awfully well, unfortunately. There’s nothing in it that I would walk back. At the same time, a lot of the things that have happened in the past three years have shocked me.

Such as?

The latest scene with the bible in front of St John’s church, for instance. The iconography of that, including the clearing of the square with tear gas, the Black Hawk helicopters – it was chilling.

Who’s worse, Putin or Trump?

In a way, I think Trump is worse. I never thought I would hear myself say that. They share a lot of characteristics although they are temperamentally extremely different men. They both have this contempt for excellence, they both have a hatred of government, and they both have this way of campaigning against government as such, even as presidents of their respective countries. I think in the end, Putin is somewhat less cynical. He has an idea – it is self-aggrandising and absurd on the face of it – that if he stepped away Russia would fall apart and so he has to carry this burden. And for his labours he deserves to have the yachts and the palaces and all that. But he is doing it for his country. Trump doesn’t even have that delusion. It’s all power and money in their purest form. And you could dig as deep as you want, you would never find a shred of responsibility.

Masha-Gessen

Masha Gessen. Photograph: Christopher Lane/The Observer

Can Americans rely on their institutions – the electoral system, the judiciary, the free press – to save them from Trump’s autocracy?
There’s a way in which Americans think about our institutions as a kind of religion. There’s a faith in the wisdom of the founding fathers who put down these sacred words, this idea that we have the perfect self-repairing system and it will run in perpetuity if we don’t spoil it. The problem is that many of these institutions are enshrined in political culture rather than in law, and all of them depend on the good faith of the people running them to fulfil their purpose and uphold the constitution. So when someone like Trump becomes president, the institutions become vulnerable. As an example, I think we have seen in the last couple of weeks just how effective Trump’s attempts to weaken the national press have been.

How so?
I am talking about the way that the police throughout the country have brutally targeted the media during the Black Lives Matter protests. That’s something that I saw as a foreign correspondent in war zones where there was really no sense of any kind of rules or laws. This happened because for the past four years Trump has been vilifying the media, portraying the media as the enemy of the people, as part of the problem, as part of the great conspiracy to unseat him. And that’s very terrifying.

You were born in Russia, spent your teenage years in America then moved back to Moscow as an adult. Do you feel more Russian or American?
It doesn’t really work that way. But when you have emigrated as often as I have, you learn the benefits of being an outsider. I am very comfortable not belonging. I find it extremely beneficial to my work as a journalist to be highly attuned to this culture yet at the same time hovering outside of it. I do sometimes bristle at this idea people have that my having been born in Russia qualifies me to talk about Donald Trump. I’d rather people said 25 years of studying totalitarianism qualifies me to talk about Donald Trump.

What is the most important rule for surviving autocracy?
For the state of one’s soul, for the state of one’s mind, I think it is absolutely essential to protest and show outrage. Does that have political consequences? Not immediately and not on its own. But I think what we’re seeing in America right now is several steps on from outrage. It’s outrage, plus organising, plus sustained political activity. The big question is how sustained will it be? If it is sustained in some manner, then I think we are in a revolutionary moment. In the book I talk about how in order to actually survive Trump’s attempt at autocracy we have to give up the idea of some imaginary pre-Trumpian normalcy and commit to reinvention. And that is really what these protests are about.

I don’t think there is anyone who is involved who would say: “Oh, we just have to get rid of Trump.” These protests are about the fatal flaw at the root of this democracy and that’s a really upsetting idea for a lot of somewhat conservative commentators. But culturally and politically Americans have a story of being born of protest. These protests are calling for an American reinvention. They are protesting for a more perfect union.

  • Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen is published by Granta (£12). To order a copy for go to guardianbookshop.com. Free UK p&p over £15

U.S. readers can check out Mr. Gessen’s book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble

Grumpy

Don’t you just love it when you wake up grumpy?  Good thing I wrote Saturday Surprise last night, else it wouldn’t have been written.  So, how about I share my ill humour so you guys can be grumpy, too?


Personae non grata …

European Union (EU) officials have compiled a list of countries whose residents can visit the EU when it reopens its borders next week and guess what?  The U.S. is not on that list.  Nothing political about the decision, simply common sense.  The United States has failed to get a handle on the coronavirus, new cases are surging, and the EU doesn’t welcome us because of the high risk involved.  Russia and Brazil are also excluded.

Despite Mike Pence’s assurances that everything is under control, the daily new case tally keeps breaking records.  Yesterday’s new case total was 47,341 … nearly 50,000!  Until the past week or so, the death toll in the U.S. was over 1,000 people daily.  It has dropped slightly to around 600 per day, but it is only a matter of days before it is back in the thousand range.

Foolishly, Trump demanded that businesses re-open, even against the advice of the experts, and equally foolishly, the people of this nation felt their right to go out and have fun superseded safety.  This is the result … we are now banned from traveling to the EU, and if Boris Johnson & Co in the UK have any sense, we will also be banned from travel to the UK.  We have already been banned from traveling to Canada.  We are, essentially, stuck in this virus-infested, fool-driven nation with a clown running the show, a ship of fools controlling our well-being … or lack thereof.


And the real terrorists are …

A new study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) last week titled “Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States”, determined that the problem of domestic terrorism in the U.S. is primarily from the far right.  The report says “the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of rightwing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years”, with the far right launching two-thirds of attacks and plots in 2019, and 90% of those in 2020.  Surprised?  You shouldn’t be.  All that talk about ‘antifa’ is just that … talk.  Or perhaps an effort to distract from the real threat of white supremacy.

The report also shows the far left has been an increasingly negligible source of attacks since the mid-2000s.  Those of us on the left fight our battles with our voices, not our guns.

In February, a report by the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism reported that cases of circulated propaganda by white supremacist groups in 2019 had more than doubled from the previous year, and the 2018 figures were 180% higher than 2017.  About two-thirds of the total propaganda incidents in the new report were traced back to a single white supremacist group, Patriot Front, which the ADL describes as “formed by disaffected members” of the white supremacist organization Vanguard America after the Charlottesville rally in 2017.

Is it purely coincidence that these groups have expanded only since Donald Trump took office?  I think not.


Justice?  We’ll see …

Well finally ol’ Roger Stone is going to prison … or is he?  Stone, convicted on charges of repeatedly lying to Congress and intimidating a witness to impede the House’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, was sentenced to 40 months back in February.  Stone had already received one delay on reporting to prison when he was first sentenced, and last week he requested yet another delay … until September 3rd.  He cites the coronavirus as his reason.  However, Judge Amy Berman Jackson has had enough of the Stone/Trump show and ruled that Stone must report to the federal correction institution in Jesup, Georgia, on July 14th.

But, unfortunately for the cause of justice, Donald Trump appears to have his pardon pen fully inked and ready to go.  Just this morning, he tweeted …

“IT’s TIME TO #PardonRogerStone”

So, if I had to lay odds, I’d say that Stone will, just like another corrupt Trump crony Michael Flynn, be a free man by the middle of July.  Stone has been a nasty piece of work since he was a very young man and has only gotten more insidious as he grew older.

Sadly, ‘justice’ is no longer defined in the United States as it once was.  Today it does not matter if you are guilty or innocent, corrupt or not … it only matters what Trump thinks of you.  I never thought I’d live to see the day when the United States became a banana republic, but that day is here.


Y’know … it’s really hard to stay grumpy when there is an adorable little squirrel just outside your window eating the bird seed and every now and then looking right at you.  It’s funny, but the birds don’t seem bothered by him in the least … they just go right on eating, perfectly willing to share their food, even though he doesn’t quite look the same as them.  Is there a lesson for us in that?squirrel

Saturday Surprise — National Pollinator Week!

Saturday Surprise has been on hiatus for a few weeks, and likely would have remained so this week, but for our friend Ellen who gave me a heads-up that this week, the week of June 22 – June 28, happens to be National Pollinator Week!  Once I knew that, I felt compelled to share it with you, and I thought it might be fun for us all.

bumblebee on flowerIf you’re like me, the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘pollinator’ is the bee.  And rightfully so, as there are 20,000 bee species in the world, many of them hearty pollinators without whom our food supply would be in serious trouble.  But they aren’t the only animals moving pollen from the stamen of one flower to the stigma of another. Earth is home to a host of weird and unusual pollinators that ensure both food crops and wild flowering plants complete their life cycle.  Let’s take a look at a few …

Take the chocolate midges — small flies no bigger than poppy seeds, and the primary pollinators of cacao plants. The intricate petals of the dime-sized flowers curl down over the plant’s stamen where the pollen is made, making it difficult for larger pollinators to access. It takes many midges to gather pollen and fertilize another flower. They toil away at dusk and dawn and prefer dense shady rainforest habitats like those in the Amazon basin. Without them, chocolate would be much harder to come by.

chocolate-midge

Chocolate Midge

Or how about the clearwing hummingbird moths that hover in front of long-necked flowers, where they unroll their long tongues, insert them inside and sip the nectar, collecting pollen as they go. With their yellowish-brown or green and black bodies, and (often) clear, red-framed wings that sound like their namesake, people are sometimes confused by what they are looking at.

clearwing-moth

Clearwing Hummingbird Moth

But insects aren’t the only pollinators.  There are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds worldwide, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. With its bright green, red, blue, orange and yellow plumage, one that really stands out is the rainbow lorikeet, native to Australia and Indonesia. While sipping nectar from flowers like those of the yellow gum, pollen attaches to their foreheads and throat, and even to tiny fingers on their tongue called papillae where it hitches a ride to the next flower.

And mammals can also be pollinators.  Now, a lot of people don’t like bats, and admittedly I don’t like anything flying into my face, or getting tangled in my hair, but I think bats are cute.

cute-batcute-bat-2

Bats are responsible for pollinating over 500 plant species, including types of mango, banana, durian, guava and agave (used to make tequila). Bats work at night and are attracted to pale flowers, unlike many of their daytime colleagues. Some, like the Mexican long-tongued bat, are really specialized for the job with a long skinny tongue that can reach into tube-shaped flowers.

Mexican-bat

Mexican long-tongued bat

And then there’s the ruffed lemur, a black and white primate from Madagascar, that gets pollen on its snout while gorging on nectar from traveler’s palms.

ruffed-lemur

Ruffed Lemur

Even lizards pollinate. The sleek Noronha skink of the island Fernando de Noronha off of northeastern Brazil appears to pollinate mulungu trees, known for their fabulously weird orangey-pink flowers. Pollen collects on its scales when it’s sipping nectar and brushes up against the flowers’ stamens. The same is thought to be true of snow skinks in Tasmania, who get pollen on their scales after tearing apart the peachy red flowers of the Richea scoparia plant.

Noronha-skink

Noronha Skink

The list of non-bee pollinators goes on and on, including slugs, butterflies, wasps and many species of beetles. And those are just the ones we know about—scientists are still discovering new connections between plants and the animals that help them reproduce. And with bees so vulnerable to environmental change, a better appreciation of all pollinators and the roles they play will be essential to better crop management and the protection of wild plants in the future.

Now about National Pollinator Week.  In recognition of the significance of a stable pollinator population, the Pollinator Partnership (formerly the Coevolution Institute) collaborating with the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, established the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC) in 1999.  Their goals were to …

  • coordinate local, national, and international projects in the areas of pollinator research, education and awareness, conservation and restoration, policies and practices, and partnership initiatives,
  • aid communication among stakeholders, build coalitions, and leverage existing resources,
  • demonstrate a positive measurable impact on the populations and health of pollinating animals within five years.

And in 2006, the U.S. Senate passed a Resolution to protect pollinators and designated the first National Pollinator Week as June 24–30, 2007.  The U.S. Postal Service even got in on the act and issued a “Pollination” stamp series released in June 2007.

So, what can we do?  Bees are still the most common pollinator for most of us, and the bee population, as I have written before, is in serious trouble.  Miss Goose and I have planted bee-friendly flower seeds in our tiny front yard, and there is a flower/plant that just popped up a couple of years ago in the front of our yard that is home to both caterpillars and bees.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a list of 7 things that most any of us can do to help the pollinators:

bee-flower

  1. Use pollinator-friendly plants in your landscape. Shrubs and trees such as dogwood, blueberry, cherry, plum, willow, and poplar provide pollen or nectar, or both, early in spring when food is scarce.
  2. Choose a mixture of plants for spring, summer, and fall. Different flower colors, shapes, and scents will attract a wide variety of pollinators. If you have limited space, you can plant flowers in containers on a patio, balcony, and even window boxes.
  3. Reduce or eliminate pesticide use in your landscape, or incorporate plants that attract beneficial insects for pest control. If you use pesticides, use them sparingly and responsibly.
  4. Accept some plant damage on plants meant to provide habitat for butterfly and moth larvae.
  5. Provide clean water for pollinators with a shallow dish, bowl, or birdbath with half-submerged stones for perches.
  6. Leave dead tree trunks, also called “snags,” in your landscape for wood-nesting bees and beetles.
  7. Support land conservation in your community by helping to create and maintain community gardens and green spaces to ensure that pollinators have appropriate habitat.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit about other pollinators and enjoyed the pictures.  Now, get out there and plant some bee-friendly flowers … it’s not too late!  Have a great weekend, my friends!bee-thumbs-up

What You May Have Missed …

You could be forgiven for not noticing what Donnie Trump was up to this week, amid all the news of the coronavirus spiking, Trump’s embarrassing rally in Tulsa, his asinine comments in Phoenix, and the GOP barking about it’s police reform bill that was not much more than some mumbo jumbo that would have changed not a damn thing.


Meanwhile, Donald Trump was once again trying to repeal ACA, this time filing a legal brief urging the Supreme Court to strike down The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, even as coronavirus cases climb across the U.S. and soaring unemployment forces millions off employer-based health plans.

Yo!!!  Republicans!!!  Are you listening?  Do you understand what it will mean if the Supreme Court lets your beloved Trump have his way?  More than 2.3 million cases of the coronavirus, and meanwhile some 27 million people have lost their health insurance due to loss of employment, and Trump wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act … now.  Says Trump …

“…  just so you understand, ObamaCare is a disaster. What we want to do is terminate it.”

I guess whether it is a disaster or a life-saver depends on which side of the wealth divide you stand on.  For some 99% of us, it is potentially a life-saver, but for those like Trump who have no financial worries, perhaps it is seen as a disaster, for it costs them a few bucks, and those guys are tight with a nickel.

Even Senator John Cornyn, a republican from Texas, who has voted against ACA numerous times, is now urging people to take advantage of it …

“The good news is that if you lose your employer-provided coverage, which covers about 180 million Americans, then that is a significant life event, which makes you then eligible to sign up for the Affordable Care Act — and as you know, it has a sliding scale of subsidies up to 400 percent of poverty.”

The Court will not hear the arguments until the next term which begins in October, and a decision is unlikely before the November 3rd election.


In other news … remember those $1,200 stimulus checks that were paid out in April as part of the $2.3 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress?  Well, the implementation of the disbursements covered under that bill has been a nightmare, just as we all figured it would.  Trump refused any oversight of how the money going to help businesses would be allocated, and the bulk of it has gone to big businesses, rather than the small businesses that most needed it.  But about those $1,200 checks … turns out the IRS sent more than one million of those checks to … dead people.  Yep, leave it to our federal government to royally screw up anything they are tasked with.dead-stimulus-paymentThe cost to We the Taxpayer for their screwup?  Potentially as much as $1.4 billion … yes, billion!  So how did this happen?  Well, to distribute the money, the Treasury Department used 2019 tax return records, but it did not use “third-party data,” such as the death records maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA), to determine whether the person was still alive.  The IRS is in the process of trying to get the money back, but they admit that they do not have plans to actively pursue it.  Ah well, what’s $1.4 billion of our hard-earned tax dollars, eh?

mnuchin

Steve Mnuchin

But that’s not all!  About those loans to small businesses … we who funded this project might want to know where the money went … not too much to ask, is it?  But, according to Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin, it is.  By the end of May, we had spent more than $500 billion on some 4.5 million loans, but … to whom?  Mnuchin told a Senate committee earlier this week …

“As it relates to the names and amounts of specific PPP loans, we believe that that’s proprietary information.”

Even the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which is charged with oversight of the program, has struggled to get information from the administration.  Several media outlets have filed a joint Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking the identities of businesses that received loans through the PPP program. The Project on Government Oversight plans to file a separate FOIA request seeking the data.

So much for transparency and accountability in our government.


And another tidbit you might have missed … Trump & Co have decided they no longer want to apprise Congress in advance when they sell arms to foreign countries.  The reason?  According to Foreign Policy magazine, administration officials say they are tired of regular efforts by Capitol Hill to review arms exports to Saudi Arabia and other nations.

Lawmakers have tried to block weapons sales to countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because of concerns about human rights issues and the prospect of civilian casualties, particularly with the Saudi-led coalition’s war against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen.  It seems to be mostly Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is tired of not being able to do as he wishes without having to seek the approval of Congress.

There will still be formal notification to Congress, but in many cases the formal notification does not give Congress sufficient time to assess the potential sale and put forth objections or concerns.  Again … Trump seems to chafe at the reins of congressional oversight, thinking he should be able to do as he wishes without the consent and advice of Congress.  Another corner of the Constitution lit afire.


And on that note, have a nice day!smile

It’s the Guns, Stupid

I did not intend to post a fourth post tonight, but … on reading Jeff’s post, I felt I had to. His words speak for themselves, and for the record, I am in 100% agreement with every word. We are the creators of our own doom … the love of guns in this country is greater than the love of life. Thank you, Jeff … great post!

On The Fence Voters

I was never a fan of President Ronald Reagan and can proudly say that I never voted for him. But he did possess an ability during his time in office for communicating a hopeful tone to the American people. They used to call him “The Great Communicator.”

One of his most famous rhetorical flourishes focused around his belief that when he thought about America, he felt that it was that “shining city upon a hill.” Reagan borrowed the analogous quote from John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, who upon setting sail for New England in 1630, reflected on his hopes for what would come to signify American exceptionalism; that we would be the moral compass and example for the rest of the world.

Let’s say that these days, that “shining city” is beginning to look more like an abandoned town, with rubble and burned out facades dotting the landscape…

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Then … And Now, 2020

Today, June 17th, marks the 135th anniversary of the arrival of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour.  I did a post similar to this one last year on this date (actually, a couple of days late), but this year my point is still valid and so I have updated it to reflect the differences between then and now.  The main difference this year is the issue of police brutality, and I have added some pictures to reflect this.

The statue arrived dismantled, in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 cases, and it would be October of the following year before it was fully re-assembled and dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.  The statue was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States and came to symbolize freedom and democracy.

In 1892, Ellis Island opened as America’s chief immigration station, and for the next 62 years Lady Liberty, as the statue is nicknamed, stood watch over the more than 12 million immigrants who sailed into New York Harbor.

In 1903, a plaque inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus, was placed on an interior wall of the pedestal.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Lazarus’ now-famous words, which include “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” became symbolic of America’s vision of itself as a land of opportunity for immigrants, a land where all people, regardless of race or religion, would be treated equally.

This is that vision today …

Officer Derek Chauvin with hands in pockets kneeling on George Floyd's neck

2-year-old immigrant girl crying as mother is arrested by ICE

Police shooting tear gas against protestors

Immigrant boy behind wire cage

Line of police advancing on protestors on Capitol Hill

kids in cages at the southern border

Police knock down 75-year-old man and walk by without stopping

barbed wire and immigrants lying in the dirt

white supremacists giving Nazi salute with huge swastika burningIt’s funny that the longer humans are on this earth, the more ‘developed’ our society becomes, the better educated we become, the less tolerant and compassionate we are.Statue of Liberty crying

 

 

“But Your Friends are Fewer Now” Milton Meyer’s “They Thought They Were Free” and 2020 America

More than a few times I have wondered how the Germans in 1933 did not see what was coming. Surely the signs were all there, surely at least some were intellectuals who should have been able to foresee and act to stop the madness. Padre Steve’s post from a few days quotes a chapter from Milton Mayer’s book, “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945” that sheds a bit of light on how the Germans failed to see what was coming in the early days. It is a bit lengthy, but well worth the time to read. Thank you, Padre!

The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

This article is basically a rerun because I thought it was pertinent and instead of doing much online I was catching up on correspondence with a number of people including friends in Germany and and trying my best to write in the best German that I could. Today was a remarkable day at our shipyard as our commander dealt directly with the dual disasters, COVID19 and the murder of George Floyd. It was inspiring. I had a part to play, but it was behind the scenes, and that is totally okay with me.

The article tonight is a chapter from Milton Mayer’s “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans 1933-1945.” Mayer was a visiting professor at the University of Frankfurt in the 1950s and lived in a small Hessian town near the city. The book is about the relationships that he built with…

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♫ What the World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin and John ♫

I played this song in December 2018.  It seems this song gains meaning with each passing year, for it is more apropos today than ever.  Listening to the song tonight, in preparation for this post, I had to stop the music and catch my breath, with tears rolling down my cheeks.  Sadly, there are no Abrahams, Martins or Johns today, at least not that I can see.  Oh how we need them!


I started looking for the right song for tonight … for once there was none stuck in my head … and happened across Jackie Deshannon’s 1965 hit, What the World Needs Now is Love.  I thought perhaps, in these times of troubles all over the world, in the Middle-East, the UK, the United States, and many more places, this might be an appropriate song to play.

As I looked for a bit of information, a bit of trivia about the song, I was led to another song and it is this that I play for you tonight.  I don’t intend these music posts to be in the least bit political, and my apologies, for this one is, in a sense.  But it is also … it speaks to us today, I think, just as it did in 1971.  Today, some of the issues are different … Vietnam has ended, but Syria and Yemen have not.  And some of the issues are yet the same … racism, prejudice, bigotry.

This is a remix of two songs, the aforementioned What the World Needs Now is Love combined with Abraham, Martin and John, first recorded by Dion in 1968 as a response to the assassinations of both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy earlier that year.

Tom-Clay.jpgTom Clay was a disc jockey in 1971, working for radio station KGBS in Los Angeles, California when he created this remix.  The narrative includes sound bites from speeches of John and Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King Jr., and makes a heartfelt social/political comment.

Again, I apologize for bringing a socio-political statement into my music posts, but when I heard this song … it just … did something to me and I wanted to share it.  I promise a more uplifting music selection tomorrow, but I do hope you will take just a few minutes to listen to this one.  I have included the lyrics to both of the original songs.

What the World Needs Now
Jackie DeShannon

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don’t need another mountain,
There are mountains and hillsides enough to climb
There are oceans and rivers enough to cross,
Enough to last till the end of time.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.

Lord, we don’t need another meadow
There are cornfields and wheat fields enough to grow
There are sunbeams and moonbeams enough to shine
Oh listen, lord, if you want to know.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone.
No, not just for some, oh, but just for everyone.

Songwriters: Burt F. Bacharach / Hal David
What the World Needs Now lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Abraham, Martin And John
Dion DiMucci

Has anybody here seen my old friend Abraham,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
Has anybody here seen my old friend John,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
Has anybody here seen my old friend Martin,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?

He freed a lotta people, but it seems the good die young
But I just looked around and he’s gone.
Didn’t you love the things they stood for?
Didn’t they try to find some good for you and me?
And we’ll be free,
Someday soon it’s gonna be one day.
Has anybody here seen my old friend Bobby,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him walkin’ up over the hill
With Abraham, Martin and John.

Songwriters: Richard Holler
Abraham, Martin And John lyrics © Stonehenge Music

♫ Do They Know It’s Christmas? ♫

No no no … it isn’t really Christmas … don’t go dragging out the decorations and making your lists just yet!  We are, though, nearly halfway back ’round to Christmas, so perhaps starting a list or two isn’t such a bad idea.  Last month when I played We Are the World, David suggested another song that is about bringing people together, about helping people, about feeding the world.  The title, of course, is Do They Know It’s Christmas, but it’s a song that is apropos any time of the year, and I can’t think of a better time than now.

This is a charity single organized by Bob Geldof, who was the lead singer of The Boomtown Rats. He got the idea after watching a BBC documentary on famine in Ethiopia. Geldof wrote the lyrics and Midge Ure from the band Ultravox wrote the music and produced the track, which was no easy task since so many voices were involved.

In the UK, and much of the Northern Hemisphere, snow and numerous displays leave no doubt that Christmas is near. In most of Africa, however, it’s quite warm on December 25, since it’s summer there. This song asks us to think of those who are living in poverty and hunger in Africa during the Christmas season, reminding us that they might not even know it’s Christmas.

Most of this song was recorded and mixed over a 24-hour period on Sunday, November 25, 1984. Sting and Simon LeBon had recorded their parts ahead of time, but everyone else came that day.

None of the vocalists heard the song before they arrived, so they learned their parts by listening to a guide vocal producer Midge Ure created, then recorded them. With such a tight schedule, there was no time to quibble.  The artists were not all friends, but they set aside their differences and were at least cordial to each other during the recording – with one exception. In the book I Want My MTV, George Michael said: “The only person who didn’t succumb to the charitable nature of the day was Paul Weller, who decided to have a go at me in front of everybody. I said, ‘Don’t be a wanker all your life. Have a day off.'”

The single raised $14 million for famine relief in Africa. Geldof is Irish, so he cannot be knighted, but he did receive a KBE, which is equivalent and is popularly known as Sir or Saint Bob.

Boy George was nearly a no-show, asleep in New York the day of recording. His band Culture Club was huge at the time and Bob Geldof was counting on him for a key vocal, so Geldof called him, woke him up, and told him to get on a Concorde. George flew to London, got behind the microphone and delivered the vocal they were looking for.

Trevor Horn, who was a member of the Buggles and Yes, donated the use of his studio (Sarm Studios in London) to record the song. He also pieced together the B-side of the single, which is an instrumental version with the artists delivering messages over the music. It is called “Feed The World” on the single.

Phil Collins arrived with his entire drum kit to record a live drum track on top of the already programmed drum machine. He set up the kit and then waited patiently until early evening until after all the vocals had been recorded. Ure was content with the first take that Collins performed, but the perfectionist Collins was unhappy with it and asked for a second take to be recorded, which he was satisfied with.

Released on December 3rd 1984 in the UK, the song quickly hit #1 on the charts and stayed there for 5 weeks.  The song became the biggest-selling single of all time in the UK until it was overtaken in 1997 by Elton John’s Candle in the Wind.  In the U.S., the song reached only #13 due to a lack of airplay.

Do They Know It’s Christmas?
Band Aid

It’s Christmastime, there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade

And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer, pray for the other ones
At Christmastime it’s hard, but when you’re having fun

There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear

Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you

And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmastime
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows
No rain nor rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?
Here’s to you
Raise a glass for everyone

Here’s to them
Underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmastime at all?

Feed the world
Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again
Feed the world
Let them know it’s Christmastime again

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Bob Geldof / Midge Ure
Do They Know It’s Christmas? lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc