We Must Applaud Political Courage

As always, our friend Keith brings a bit of reasoned calm to the dialogue of the past several days. Please give it a look. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

Earlier this week, two Republican Senators, Mike Lee and Rand Paul, said the briefing by the White House on the assassination of the Iranian Soleimani, was not just poor, but the worst of briefings. I applaud their political courage to push back on the president for less than satisfactory explanation. I have called each Senator to share my thank you as an Independent and former Republican voter.

I had the same type of kudos for the parade of diplomats and other public servants who testified under oath and at great risk to the House Intelligence committee about their concerns over the shadow diplomacy being used by the president in Ukraine to strong arm action for his personal benefit. I watched these witnesses speak under oath about how we should be doing our best to nurture and protect the young democracy in Ukraine. On the flip side, I saw a president…

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True Believer Pompeo Drives Iran Policy

The United States is a secular nation, one that welcomes people of all or no religions, but does not govern based on the beliefs or principles of any religion. At least, that’s the intent as laid forth by the U.S. Constitution. Today’s “leaders”, the people driving public policy, seem painfully unaware of this principle. Our friend Jeff over at On the Fence Voters has written an excellent post about this, the greatest hypocrisy. Thank you, Jeff …

On The Fence Voters

It’s an open secret that the evangelical community has forged a somewhat uneasy alliance with the current president of the United States. He gives them the judges they want, gives them lip service supporting ‘religious liberty,’ and does a travel ban on Muslims. All of this overrides the fact he’s perhaps the most un-Christian president in history who’s a pathological liar and who publicly bullies people he doesn’t like.

To them, while he’s an imperfect leader, he’s the ‘chosen one’ who might get them the ‘end days’ they so desperately crave. And while that’s enough to make me grab a shot of whiskey (even though I’m a beer drinker), even more frightening is that the two men driving his Iran policy are Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Both consider themselves proud members of the evangelical community.

I’ve known about Pence for sometime now. He’s a pretty…

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The Monsters Under My Bed

Some nights, of late, there are monsters under my bed, just like when I was a child.  Some nights, the nightmares are vivid and I wake up thinking that I am screaming, but not a peep is coming out of my dry throat.  Given the things I write about, the things we all live with day-to-day, I suppose it’s no wonder.


Who knew a tweet …

Could cause such a stir?  Here’s how it started …

U.S. Representative Paul Gosar from Arizona, a republican, posted this tweet

rouhani-obama-tweet-2.jpgThe image purports to show President Barack Obama shaking hands with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.

Trouble is, other than the obvious, that a) the photo was photoshopped – Obama never met Rouhani in person, and b) Rouhani is still in power, still the president of Iran.  The purpose?  Well, as best as anyone can figure, Mr. Gosar was, as many republicans have been scrambling to do over the past several days, attempting to find some justification or purpose for Trump ordering the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s second-highest ranking government official. The name of the game is “blame Obama”.

But Mr. Gosar’s response, when it was pointed out that this was obviously a fake picture, is what I find interesting.  His response was basically of the “yeah, so what?” sort …Gosar-tweetI guess that makes me a dimwit, eh?

Y’know, folks, Trump & Co, the Republican Party as a whole, have an unnatural hatred of President Obama and seemingly everything he stood for, but it has gone many steps too far.  Obama was a hundred times the man Trump is, and a thousand times better president than Trump.  It’s time for the republicans in power to start doing their jobs and stop finding ways to prove how much they hated having an African-American president, for that is what it really all boils down to.

Mr. Gosar has flown onto my radar a time or two before.  For one, he is a member of the ignoble House Freedom Caucus – a misnomer if ever there was one.  And for another, as a recipient of donations from the NRA.  He has engaged in conspiracy theories ala Alex Jones about such things as the fatal Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and has also supported Iowa Representative Steve King, who was removed from his congressional committees for his blatantly racist public remarks.  He has accused both the FBI and the Department of Justice of treason and has referred to Native Americans as “wards of the federal government”.  He claims that the 2nd Amendment is the single most important amendment set forth by the Bill of Rights, even more important than the 1st Amendment, freedom of speech, press & religion.  He has signed the Koch Brothers pledge promising to vote against any legislation to combat global warming.  In September 2018, prior to the 2018 elections, six of Gosar’s nine siblings actively supported his democratic opponent, David Brill, saying their brother had become an extremist.  And the list goes on … this is the face of our republicans in Congress today, my friends.  This is the sort of garbage that has been lured out from under the rocks in the past decade.  Thirty years ago, such a sample of pond scum would not have gotten even 1% of the vote.

Arizona … do not send this dolt back to Washington in November!  You dishonour the name of your favourite son, the late, great John McCain when you send your trash to Congress!


Tie his hands … please!!!

The House of Representatives is expected to vote today on a resolution to force the president to halt any military action against Iran unless Congress authorizes it.  Nothing quite like closing the barn door after the cow’s already out, eh?

The measure would require that Trump cease all action against Iran unless Congress votes in advance to approve it, effectively tying his hands in the escalation of tensions between Trump and Iran.  We all see the handwriting on the wall, yes?  The House, with a democratic majority, will approve it and send it to the Senate where either it will languish along with a few hundred other House-passed bills, or rapidly be voted down.  There is a ray of hope, albeit a slim ray, because yesterday, two Republicans signaled they were inclined to support it.  Just need two more … any takers?  Doubtful, as most congressional republicans are still praising Trump for assassinating Iran’s highest ranking general.

In her statement yesterday, Nancy Pelosi said …

“Members of Congress have serious, urgent concerns about the administration’s decision to engage in hostilities against Iran and about its lack of strategy moving forward. Our concerns were not addressed by the president’s insufficient War Powers Act notification and by the administration’s briefing today.”

The divide in Congress is representative of the divide in this nation … and it is a lethal divide.  Make no mistake … that old saying, “United we stand, Divided we fall” is apt.  We certainly cannot continue as we are … that much is clear.  There is a disconnect among the people of this nation, and it extends well beyond political parties.  Donald Trump and his minions are using that disconnect to widen the gap, to make this nation so dysfunctional that it is an easy prey.  Frankly, I am sick to the death of the “us vs them” mentality. Trump-fate

Mid-Week Snarky Snippets

Well, the conflict between Trump and Iran seems to be simmering rather than boiling over, at least for the moment.  Trump claims no lives were lost in last night’s bombings, though I am very skeptical.  You don’t drop 12 ballistic missiles without their being some casualties.  It’s rather a shame when one doesn’t trust a single word the president utters, but he has brought that on himself with his constant lying.  About the only thing you can predict about Trump is that he will lie.  Time will tell.  Iran announced, after attacking two military bases in Iraq last evening, that they are finished … for now … retaliating for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.  Trump insists he will impose even harsher “punishing” sanctions on the country than before.  I read his speech and all I really saw was “blah blah blah” … nothing relevant or likely true.  I have to wonder, though, if he realizes that the sanctions he imposes do not hurt the government but hurt the people, people who are already struggling to survive?  Or if he even cares.  Doubtful.  Well, since that situation appears to be relatively stable for the moment, though it’s not likely to remain so for long, I shall turn my thoughts to other things today.


Mitch’s Dog-and-Pony Show …

Mitch McConnell proves to us once again that the will of the people matters not one bit.  He has decided to move forward with the impeachment trial, despite the fact that Nancy Pelosi has not yet sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate.  He really wants to just sweep this bit of dust under the rug and get it over with before we get close to the November election.  He has better things to do, y’know, like campaign for his own re-election, and protect li’l Donnie from the big, bad democrats!

Mitch announced yesterday that he will not commit to calling witnesses or hearing new evidence.  As we heard last week, both Mitch and Lindsey Graham have made it perfectly clear that they have no intention of conducting a real trial, but rather a dog-and-pony show that will result in the predetermined acquittal of Donald Trump.   Mitch says he “has the votes” to move forward … in other words, the republican senators have already decided their vote without seeing the articles of impeachment, without hearing from any witnesses, and without seeing the evidence.  Wow.

If the events of the past week have not convinced the republican senators that this “president” is a clear and present danger to the survival of life on planet earth, then they are as blind, deaf and dumb as I originally thought.  The majority of people in this country do not support Trump, but … we really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things, do we?


Snowball vs bullet

Remember when you were a kid?  Ever throw a snowball at a person or a car or other object just because it was fun?  You didn’t intend harm, you were just having fun.  A group of kids in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, were having fun lobbing snowballs at passing cars last Saturday.  Harmless fun … a snowball thrown at your car isn’t likely going to damage the car or cause an accident.  But …

The driver of a white Toyota took umbrage and fired shots into the group of children, striking two — a 12-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy – and then drove off.  Both children are expected to recover, and police have yet to find the driver of the vehicle and are asking for any information from possible witnesses or nearby home-surveillance cameras.

It’s a sign of the times in this country … people are angry and it doesn’t take much to set them off, which in my book is yet another good reason that we do not need guns in the hands of every Tom, Dick and Harry in this nation!


What will $20 million buy?

Two Super Bowl add slots.  Both Trump and Democratic hopeful Michael Bloomberg have spent $10 million each to buy a 60-second ad during the Super Bowl on February 2nd.  I don’t watch the Super Bowl, but if I did, this news would be enough to cause me to skip it this year.

My first complaint is that Super Bowl ads are usually the ones that sponsors go all out on, like Budweiser’s Clydesdale commercials … the ads are usually more fun than the game itself!  And so now, people have to watch two rich, old men running their mouths and telling who-knows-what lies?  No thanks!

My second, more viable complaint is … how many people could be provided a home, how many children could be fed … how much better use these two privileged men could have put that money to.  It literally sickens me to see so much money literally thrown down the toilet for self-interest.  Yes, yes … I realize this is the way of the world, or at least the political world in the United States.  I do know that every political candidate takes money from both rich and poor, then uses it to get their name and face splattered all over the media so people will remember them on November 3rd.  But, I still think it’s a crappy way to spend money when people are living on the streets, children are going to bed hungry at night, and people are dying because they can’t afford medical treatment.


The earth moved …

Among the news of the Trump-Iran embroglio and the Mitch & Lindsey show, you may have missed the fact that a major earthquake measuring 6.4 on the Richter Scale hit Puerto Rico yesterday.  The island has been mostly without electricity ever since. earthquakeI had an email this morning from our dear friend Horty, aka Dr. Rex, telling me that she and MJ are safe, though their plans to return back to the states have been delayed.  Apparently, the island has been experiencing tremors constantly since December 28th and the earth still trembles today. earthquake-2According to The Guardian

Many Puerto Ricans woke up on Wednesday to a second day without electricity after the island’s worst earthquake in a century knocked out power, collapsed homes and killed at least one person.

All schools remained closed and public employees except police and health workers stayed at home as engineers checked the safety of buildings after Tuesday’s 6.4-magnitude quake and powerful aftershocks.

Some Puerto Ricans in the hard-hit south of the island moved beds outside on Tuesday night and slept outdoors, fearful their homes would crumble if another earthquake hit after a week of tremors.

Keep safe, dear Horty & MJ!


Well, I have imposed enough of my ill-humour on you for one afternoon, so I shall go take my hostilities out elsewhere … perhaps on the load of towels sitting in the dryer!

Good People Doing Good Things — Mama Rosie

I am doing something that I have never done before, never intended to do .. I am redux-ing a good people post!  I offer my apologies, but this evening, when I normally would have been working on my good people post, I was instead following updates about the attacks on Iraqi military compounds housing U.S. soldiers, and then came the news of the Boeing passenger airline that crashed near Tehran, Iran, killing all 180 on board. 

As you might imagine, my thoughts were elsewhere, and I was not able to focus on ‘good people’, but still, I know how much you guys count on this feature, and I didn’t want to let you down, especially right now when we all need a reason to hope that there is humanity in this world.  So, I am re-posting the good people that to this day remains my favourite from almost exactly two years ago — January 10th 2018.  Hopefully if you saw it then, you have forgotten about it, or at least don’t mind meeting Mama Rosie again.  Again, my apologies, but sometimes I just can’t …


You probably don’t remember, but back in mid-October, I mentioned that I had started a piece about ‘Mama Rosie’, who was definitely a good candidate for this feature, but that she had done so many wonderful things that I couldn’t finish the piece in time for that week’s post.  At the time, I thought I would feature her the following week, but who-knows-what came along and distracted me, and I never did return to finish that one.  Mana Rosie is back on my radar this week, however, because apparently I am not the only one who thinks she is worthy of notice.  Mama Rosie, aka Rosalia Mashale, was one of CNN’s Top Ten Heroes of the Year for 2017!  So without further ado, please allow me to introduce … Mama Rosie!!!!

Mama RosieIn 1989, Mama Rosie was a schoolteacher who had recently retired and moved from the Eastern Cape to the township of Khayelitsha, in Westerna Cape Town, South Africa.  Khayelitsha is a poor and overcrowded township of approximately 15 square miles, and a population density of more than 26,000 people per square mile.  The unemployment rate is 54.1% and Khayelitsha is afflicted by the largest HIV/Aids epidemic in the world. Many days Mama Rosie noticed children scavenging for food in a nearby dumpster, and one day she invited them in …

“I called them in, and we sang rhymes, and I gave them bread and something to drink. And that was the birth of the daycare center.”

Mama Rosie enlisted the aid of other women in the community and by the end of the first week, 36 children were being cared for.

Mama Rosie had run the free daycare center for over a decade, and was thinking of retiring when one morning she opened her door to find a child who had been abandoned on her doorstep.

“He was between the age of two and three. He was naked and full of sores. He didn’t even know his name.”

She did what anybody would do, and took the boy to the police, who, knowing her reputation of caring for children, told her that she should care for him!  And that was the beginning of the orphanage!  Before long police and social workers were bringing orphaned and abandoned children to Mama Rosie, and hospitals were calling her to pick up babies whose mothers had died in childbirth. She never turned a single one away.  By the end of the first year, she was caring for 67 children in her own home!

“I didn’t have the heart to turn anyone away. Young girls and boys and babies were in every part of my house.”

Baphymelele.jpgIn 2001, she established Baphumelele which means “we have progressed”, and boy have they ever … progressed …

“We have a medical clinic for children and another facility for adults. We care for those who have HIV/AIDS and other chronic diseases, such as cancer, tuberculosis, diabetes, and (we) operate a hospice for children.”

Please take a minute to watch this short video … I promise that you will fall in love with Mama Rosie!

Baphumelele has developed into a thriving community project over the years. In addition to the Children’s Home and Educare Centre, Baphumelele has expanded to include the Adult Respite Care Centre, Child Respite Centre,  Hospice in the Home, Child Headed Households, Fountain of Hope, and Rosie’s Bakery/Sewing Project.

Baphumelele takes care of more than 5,000 orphaned, abandoned or sick children in desperate need of loving homes. Some have lost their parents to Aids, while others are themselves HIV-positive.

When the children in Mama Rosie’s care grow up, she helps them find jobs, or else gives them work in the bakery.

Mama RosaBut Mama Rosie’s efforts don’t begin and end with only the children!  She founded a women’s group, Sakhulwazi Women’s Organisation where women come together to learn skills such as sewing, beading and growing food … skills that will help them earn a living in the community.

At the CNN 2017 Hero of the Year awards ceremony last month, Mama Rosie gave a speech, where she said …

“They always say it takes a village to raise a child. Please join us to raise more orphans.”

I give two thumbs up to Mama Rosie for all her tireless efforts on behalf of the people of Khayelitsha!

two-thumbs


Sadly, Mama Rosie did not win the CNN Hero of Year award, but one of my previous ‘good people’ did!  Amy Wright of Wilmington, North Carolina was named Hero of the Year. 

It Has Begun …

Just a short while ago, I received ‘breaking news’ on my phone that Iran has launched missile strikes aimed at US troops in Iraq in retaliation for the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani last week.  Reports vary, but at least 20 U.S. servicemen are left dead.  Their blood, as well as the blood of every man, woman and child, is on the hands of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Mike Pompeo, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.  It isn’t their children who will be coming home in body bags, but ours.

Trump was told to pull troops out of Iraq, but he was too stupid and too stubborn to do so.  This, then, is only the beginning.  Where is the ending?  I have no idea, but somebody better get rid of Trump before he gets us all killed.  And to any who still support Trump … stay the hell away from me!

The Playground Bully

Last Friday, Donald Trump ordered the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.  Trump and his minions claimed they had solid evidence that Soleimani planned ‘imminent’ attacks on U.S. diplomats and troops.  Turns out, this ‘evidence’ may have been manufactured or at the least embellished by Trump & Co.

Since Iran, predictably, threatened retaliation, the Iraqi Parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country, a move that is fully understandable.  U.S. troops abroad are the most likely targets for Iran’s retaliation, and the likelihood of massive collateral damage is high.

The U.S. said they will relocate some troops within the country, but that they will not leave Iraq.  Meanwhile, Trump was busily threatening Iran with the potential destruction of 52 Iranian ‘cultural’ sites, a violation of the 1954 Hague Convention.

Iraq wants U.S. troops gone.  Trump tells Iraq that if they expel U.S. troops, he will “impose harsh economic punishments” on the country.

Now, think about all of this for a few minutes.  Iraq and Iran are each sovereign nations in and of their own right.  We may not like some things they do, but frankly, they don’t like some things we do, either.  That does not give us the right to murder one of their leaders, it does not give us the right to force them to accept U.S. military troops within their borders, and it sure as hell does not give us the right to start bombing cultural icons willy nilly.

The United States is supposedly a civilized nation with democratic principles, but you couldn’t prove it by our actions in the past week.  When one nation sends troops into a nation uninvited, it is called an invasion.  Our troops were welcomed at one time in Iraq for one reason only … to help Iraq fight Daesh, also known as ISIS.  Trump claims that ‘he’ defeated Daesh, so there is really no longer any need for our troops to be in Iraq, unless they are invited.  Our troops pose a significant danger to Iraqis now, and they want us gone.

Nothing the U.S. has done in this situation makes one bit of sense.  We are bullying other nations … and for what?  To what end?  Trump’s “America First” policy has gone too far … it was a ludicrous policy to begin with, and what he fails to understand is you cannot have your cake and eat it too.  You cannot treat other nations poorly, place the lives of their citizens in danger, then expect them to come to your aid.  There is a price to be paid for being a bully, for stirring the pot that didn’t need stirring.

The headline in Business Insider reads …

Top US allies are abandoning Trump and warning ISIS will benefit following the assassination of an Iranian general

  • The US’ top allies, including the UK and France, have continued to back away from President Donald Trump following the US military’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassim Soleimani on Friday.

  • Some European allies argue the US’s dramatic escalation of conflict with Iran will benefit the Islamic State, increase the risk of terror attacks in Europe, and undermine global economic growth.

  • A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a conservative ally of Trump’s, said the US president’s recent threat to target “Iranian culture” sites would constitute a war crime.

  • On Monday, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called for “restraint and de-escalation” and said a new conflict with Iran “would be in no one’s interest.”

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at the Europeans during an interview on Friday and claimed the US strike against Iran “saved lives in Europe as well.”

It is past time for Donald Trump and his minions to be shut down.  Trump praises murderers like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, and stabs our allies in the back.  These are not the actions of a sane man, they are not the actions of a world leader, but they are the actions of a madman!  This madman is going to get people killed all over the world, for he is ignorant of the ways of the world, has chosen not to become enlightened but rather to continue to act as the playground bully.

Pompeo Speaks … Sometimes Silence Is Golden

And so it begins.  Iraq’s parliament voted to expel U.S. troops from the country.  This move is understandably for the safety of their own citizens.  Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has promised retaliation for the assassination of Iranian General Soleimani, and one likely target for such retaliation would be U.S. military bases in Iraq and elsewhere.  According to Ammar al-Shibli, a member of the Iraqi parliamentary legal committee …

“There is no need for the presence of American forces after defeating Daesh (Isis). We have our own armed forces which are capable of protecting the country.”

Mike-PompeoSecretary of State Mike Pompeo made the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, hitting NBC’s Meet the Press, CNN’s State of the Union, CBS’s Face the Nation, and Fox News Sunday.  On one show he was asked whether the U.S. will leave Iraq, given that they have been asked to, and Pompeo replied …

“We’ll have to take a look at what we do when the Iraqi leadership and government makes a decision. But the American people should know we’ll make the right decision …”

How the Sam Heck should the people of this nation “know” that Trump and/or Pompeo will make the “right” decision when they have made so many wrong ones just in the past week alone, not to mention the past three years?  Trust?  No way, Josè!  Trust and respect are earned … neither Trump nor Pompeo have earned either.  Oh, and by the way, where was Trump while Pompeo was making the rounds trying to convince people that this administration has some clue what they’re doing?  In the Oval Office meeting with advisors?  No … in sunny Florida … on the golf course … of course.

Pompeo went on to say that …

“We are confident that the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there to fight the counterterror campaign. And we’ll continue to do all the things we need to do to keep America safe.”

Now wait just a minute … the “counterterror campaign” was against Daesh, aka ISIS, and didn’t Trump say he had defeated ISIS?  Most of us knew he was tooting a fake horn when he said it, and now Pompeo just admitted it.

And speaking of the madman at the helm, yesterday evening he tweeted …

“Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!”

Since when do world leaders use Twitter as a venue for communicating with other world leaders?  But more to the point … this is basically a declaration of war at a time when tensions are already very high in the region, thanks to Trump’s idiocy.  And, by the U.S. Constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war.  This is equivalent to a foreign power threatening to obliterate the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial, and the White House itself, and dozens of other significant places.  This is the rhetoric of a spoiled brat, a juvenile delinquent … these are not the words of a ‘man’ who leads a nation of some 330 million people!

Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tweeted back …

“Having committed grave breaches of int’l law in Friday’s cowardly assassinations, realdonaldtrump threatens to commit again new breaches. Targeting cultural sites is a war crime; – Whether kicking or screaming, end of US malign presence in West Asia has begun.”

The assassination has placed European nations in danger as well.  Now, I don’t know if Pompeo is truly just stupid, or if he’s continuing to play the little games on behalf of Trump, but apparently he expected the EU and UK to jump up and applaud the foolishness of the United States …

“Frankly, the Europeans haven’t been as helpful as I wish that they could be. The Brits, the French, the Germans all need to understand that what we did, what the Americans did, saved lives in Europe as well.  This was a good thing for the entire world, and we are urging everyone in the world to get behind what the United States is trying to do to get the Islamic Republic of Iran to simply behave like a normal nation.”

Perhaps Mr. Pompeo doesn’t actually understand foreign policy at all, in which case I call for his immediate resignation from the State Department, for he is highly unqualified.  The other alternative is that he is on drugs and is delusional much of the time.

It is my humble opinion that the UK and the EU would be well advised to request that the U.S. close their embassies in those countries and send their ambassadors and diplomats back to the U.S., at least until the tensions ease, for those embassies may well be targeted by Iran at some point, thereby placing innocent citizens in danger.

And all of this, my friends, because of the people in this nation who voted an ignorant madman into the highest office in the land.  Way to go … just way to go.

Just as I finished this post, I received breaking news that Iran has announced it is suspending all commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.  

♫ Big Yellow Taxi ♫

A conversation with David yesterday triggered the thought of tonight’s song, a very meaningful one back then … and now.

Released in 1970, Big Yellow Taxi was written, composed, and originally recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell.

“I wrote ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ on my first trip to Hawaii. I took a taxi to the hotel and when I woke up the next morning, I threw back the curtains and saw these beautiful green mountains in the distance. Then, I looked down and there was a parking lot as far as the eye could see, and it broke my heart… this blight on paradise. That’s when I sat down and wrote the song.”

The song is known for its environmental concern – “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot” and “Hey farmer, farmer, put away that DDT now” – and sentimental sound. The line “They took all the trees, and put ’em in a tree museum / And charged the people a dollar and a half just to see ’em” refers to Foster Botanical Garden in downtown Honolulu, which is a living museum of tropical plants, some rare and endangered.

In the song’s final verse, the political gives way to the personal. Mitchell recounts the departure of her “old man” in the eponymous “big yellow taxi”, which may refer to the old Metro Toronto Police patrol cars, which until 1986 were painted yellow. In many covers the departed one may be interpreted as variously a boyfriend, a husband or a father. The literal interpretation is that he is walking out on the singer by taking a taxi; otherwise it is assumed he is being taken away by the authorities.

Interestingly, the song fared better almost everywhere than it did in the U.S.big-yellow-taxi

Mitchell lived in Laurel Canyon, which is a section of Los Angeles, when she wrote this song (that’s the reference in the album title). At the time, big news in California was the battle to save the redwood forests, which were threatened by developers eager to cut down the trees to build shopping centers and other amenities. As Mitchell implies in this song, this could lead to trees someday becoming something you could only see in a museum.

Now, Joni Mitchell’s is the iconic version of the song, but many in the U.S. may better remember a later recording by a group called Counting Crows … and so, I present you with both here … take your pick, or check them both out!

Big Yellow Taxi
Joni Mitchell/Counting Crows

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

They took all the trees
And put ’em in a tree museum
And they charged the people
A dollar and a half to seem ’em

No no no
Don’t it always seem to go,
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey farmer farmer
Put away the DDT
I don’t care about spots on my apples
Leave me the birds and the bees
Please!

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
Hey, now they paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Why not?

Listenin’ late last night
I heard the screen door slam
And a big yellow taxi
Took my girl away
Now, don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Hey now, now
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you got
Til its gone
They paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Why not?
They paved paradise
To put up a parking lot
Hey hey hey
Paved paradise
To put up a parking lot

I don’t want give it
Why you want give,
Why you want give it all away?
Hey hey hey
Now you want give it,
Ah she want to give it
Cause she givin’ it all away
Now now now

I don’t want give it
Why you want give,
Why you want give it all away?
Giving it all, giving it all away

Why you want it?
Why do you want it? (She’s giving it all away)

Hey pave paradise
Put up a parking lot

Songwriters: Joni Mitchell
Big Yellow Taxi lyrics © Crazy Crow Music / Siquomb Music Publishing

A No-Snark (Mostly) Sunday

After my last couple of rather rant-y posts, I felt like giving some thumbs-up and kudos tonight, proving that there are some things to be thankful for.


Christmas was over more than a week ago, but I thought I’d like to highlight a special Santa …Santa-1

That’s right, folks, it’s former President Barack Obama decked out in a fluffy red cap to surprise patients and pass out a few gifts on Christmas Day at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.  The facility is the same one his wife, Michelle Obama, visited every holiday season during her time as first lady to read stories to patients. She sometimes came with one of the couple’s two daughters.santa-2.pngThis year, it was the 44th president’s turn. He walked the hospital halls with a giant red bag of goodies slung over his shoulder. He visited a hospital playroom and stepped inside patient rooms, to the delight of the children and teens inside.  Dressed casually in a sweater and pair of jeans, Obama posed for selfies while handing out jigsaw puzzles, race cars and other gifts he and his staff collected recently.

santa-3.pngHe also recorded a video message that could be relayed for the people he couldn’t meet during his visit.  Before he left, hospital staff members greeted the president with a rendition of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Obama responded by thanking the crowd for their work during the holidays.

“At a time that obviously is tough for folks, and as the dad of two girls, I can only imagine, in that situation, to have nurses, staff and doctors and people who are caring for them, and looking after them, and listening to them and just there for them and holding their hands. That’s the most important thing there is. What a great reminder of what the holiday spirit is supposed to be all about.”

santa-4.png

santa-5One could make a comparison to another who spent the day in a luxury resort and on a golf course, but I won’t go there.


Two thumbs up to Germany who will close all 84 of its coal power plants. The nation — one of the world’s largest consumers of coal — will rely on renewable energy instead.  The announcement came earlier this year as Germany revealed its struggle to meet its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions targets. Coal accounted for 40% of Germany’s electricity at the start of the year.coal-vs-windCoal is the EU’s biggest economy. Germany accounts for the lion’s share, responsible for around one-third of electricity-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. It generates roughly half of the EU’s electricity from brown coal (lignite), which emits higher levels of CO2.

More than halfway into 2019, German coal production had fallen by a fifth, largely replaced by renewables such as wind farms and solar. Wind is on track to become the country’s largest source of electricity, surpassing environmentally-unfriendly lignite. Germany also pledged to close its 19 nuclear power plants since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Renewables will account for 65 to 80 percent of Germany’s electricity by 2040, officials say.


And more good news on the environmental front comes from Australia, where bans introduced by two major retailers, Coles and Woolworths last summer, resulted in an 80 percent reduction in the country’s overall use of single-use plastic bags.

Initially, some customers felt “bag rage” about having to BYO-bag or fork over 15 Australian cents (11 cents) to buy a reusable one. Woolworths execs blamed slumping sales on “customers adjusting” to the plastic bag ban. Coles even briefly backed down on the bag ban and caught a lot of flak from environmentally conscious shoppers for giving away reusable plastic bags.

But the good news is that it seems most Aussies haven’t found it too hard to adjust to the change—and that’s fantastic for our landfills, oceans and the greater environment, which have become dumping grounds for our plastic waste.

There has been a growing movement to ban or tax these bags. Around the world, at least 32 countries have bans in place, according to reusable bag company ReuseThisBag.   The U.S. is obviously NOT one of the nations to ban single use plastic anything.  Only two states, California and Hawaii, have bans on single-use plastic bags.  A handful of others have either a tax or mandatory recycling, but on the federal level there is … nothing.plastic-bagsA personal note here … thanks to the initiative of my environmentally conscientious granddaughter Miss Goose, I now use my own re-usable canvas bags to bring groceries home, and re-usable mesh bags for my produce rather than the store’s plastic bags.  Most of the cashiers and baggers are upbeat about it, but on occasion I have had a surly clerk who acted as if I were intentionally making her life hard by bringing my own bags.  Twice in the past few months, I have written to the management of my local Kroger store, asking what their plans are for replacing plastic bags with paper or some other biodegradable material, but have yet to receive any response.  The U.S., it would seem, is far behine Australia and at least 31 other countries.


Well, that’s your good news for the month, and now I’m going back to my usual fare, complete with snarking, ranting, growling and grumbling.  Have a happy Sunday!