Letter To Republican Senator

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

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

Dear Senator Portman,

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Jill Dennison, voter/citizen/taxpayer

S-S-Snarky S-S-Snippets!

Folks … the time has come … for … SNARKY SNIPPETS!  Yes, I’ve not done any for at least a day now, and I have several tabs hanging open that I thought would be perfect for a snippet here and there, so … here we go … !!!


Scott-WarrenYou may remember a post I wrote back in May about a man, Scott Warren, who was about to go on trial because he had committed a terrible crime … he had provided food, water and shelter to a pair of immigrants who were crossing the Arizona desert.   Warren was part of a group called No More Deaths or No Mas Muertes that provided immigrants struggling across the desert with food, water, clothing, and a bed for a night.  Humanitarian aid, not anything criminal or seedy … the barest essentials required to sustain life.

His trial that started last May ended in a hung jury, but this time, his second trial, the jury unanimously agreed that he should be found not guilty of harboring undocumented immigrants.  Score one for common sense and decency!!!  Says Warren …

Scott-Warren

Scott Warren (center) of Ajo, Ariz., celebrates with his attorneys Amy Knight and Greg Kuykendall outside court in Tucson, Ariz. on Wednesday.

“The government failed in its attempt to criminalize basic human kindness.”


Back in the early days of Trump’s tenure in office, I did a little thing that brought me a bit of a sense of being a rebel, a part of the resistance.  Every time I was at a bookstore, most often Barnes & Noble, I would turn any Trump books I saw backward on the shelves. I rather saw it as a public service, keeping people from having to look at the face of ugly.  I got caught once or twice, but the staff there all know me and only gave me a wink and a nod for my ‘crime’.  I’ve since stopped doing it, for now there are at least 30 different books on the shelves with Trump’s ugly mug on the front, and I have better things to do with my precious bookstore time than to spend it all turning books around, just making more work for the staff.

Well, it turns out that at the library in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, someone has been hiding books!  Not, mind you, books about Trump or that are favourable to Trump, but rather books that criticize Trump. They wind up misfiled in out-of-the-way corners where readers will be sure not to find them.

Library Director Bette Ammon received a note from the prankster …

“I am going to continue hiding these books in the most obscure places I can find to keep this propaganda out of the hands of young minds. Your liberal angst gives me great pleasure.”

anti-Trump-books.jpgWhile none of the books in the latest incidents appear to have been stolen, some have been hidden in ways that made it nearly impossible to find them when patrons wanted to check them out. They have been discovered inexplicably filed in the wrong sections, hidden behind a row of Stuart Woods novels, or shelved with the spine facing inward.

After a local television station did a story about the missing books, one person called Ms. Ammon to praise whomever had hidden them, complaining that the library only carries books that represent a liberal point of view.Idaho-libraryThis isn’t the first time the Coeur d’Alene library has gone through this situation.  Back in the 1970s, Richard G. Butler, a former engineer at Lockheed Martin in California, bought land north of Coeur d’Alene to build a compound for a white supremacist group known as the Aryan Nations.  Long story short, city leaders successfully led efforts to combat the racists, and in 1986 the city was awarded a Raoul Wallenberg Civic Courage Award for its role in combating the hate group and used funds from that prize to establish a collection of human rights literature in the library.

It included books about the Holocaust, the persecution of African-Americans and the history of various religions. Then the books started disappearing.  The library ultimately decided that the best way to protect the books was to put a lock on the floor-to-ceiling glass cabinet where they were kept. They stayed there until Ms. Ammon took over the job in 2005 and decided they should be integrated into the rest of the library’s collection.

The latest wave of book disappearances started in 2018.  Over the months, they found books moved from prominent displays to the wrong stacks, or hidden behind rows of books against a back wall, near a pillar labeled “TEEN ZONE.”  Some dealt with social issues, such as “The Women’s Suffrage Movement.” One book, “Guns Down,” detailed a political strategy for defeating the National Rifle Association.

Hmmmm … I’m getting ideas here … and we will likely be at Barnes & Noble sometime this weekend …


Yesterday, it was announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, making him the first Israeli premier to be indicted while in office.  (Are you listening, Bill Barr?)

The cases against Netanyahu centers on allegations that the prime minister and his wife, Sara, accepted more than $260,000 worth of luxury goods in exchange for political favors and that Netanyahu interceded with regulators and lawmakers on behalf of two media companies in exchange for positive news stories.  Interestingly, during the three years this investigation has been ongoing, Netanyahu has frequently referred to it as a “witch hunt”.  I think Donnie & Benjamin must have gone to the same school to learn how to distract and obfuscate, for they seem to speak a common language!

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, William Barr’s counterpart, made this statement that I think Mr. Barr should read carefully …

“I made this decision with a heavy heart but with a whole heart and a sense of commitment to the rule of law. Law enforcement is not a discretionary matter. It is an obligation that is imposed on us. It is my duty to the citizens of Israel to ensure that they live in a country where no one is above the law and that suspicions of corruption are thoroughly investigated.”

Key phrases here:

  • Rule of law
  • No one is above the law

Rather than hindering the investigation into Trump, William Barr should be taking the role that Mandelblit took and be leading the investigation.  We have the same rights the Israeli people have, to live in a country where corruption is thoroughly investigated and where no one is above the law.

Netanyahu has, predictably, acted in much the same manner as Trump, demanding that an independent body review the prosecution, or “investigate the investigators”.  In a combative address Thursday night, Netanyahu called the indictment “a coup attempt” driven by a corrupt set of prosecutors.  Sound familiar?

Surprisingly, I’ve not seen any response by Trump to Netanyahu’s indictment … perhaps his tweety-machine is broke?  We can only hope.


Just a brief note that today marks 56 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas.Kennedy


Well, folks, that’s all the snippets I have time for today, but you know I’ll be back with more before much time passes.  Have a wonderful weekend!

The Great Debate … #5

I just finished watching most of tonight’s Democratic debate (I had to take a 15-minute break to roll a pack of smokes).  This is the first of the debates this year that I have watched for a number of reasons.  One, when there were 20 candidates on the debate stage, it seemed pointless.  No way was any candidate going to be able to have enough time for us to get a good feel for his/her platform, ideas, and persona.  Second, I actually hate watching debates.  Why?  Because I do not like to see the infighting that typically takes place … the sly remarks, the arguing, the cutting of other candidates.  Third, because as a rule, I see little value in them … it often turns into more of a personality contest than an actual presentation of ideas.  Tonight, the field was narrowed to a more manageable, though still twice as large as it should be, number of candidates (10), the infighting wasn’t too bad, and I came away with a somewhat better idea of the differences between the candidate’s platforms.  I wanted to share my (unsolicited) thoughts about the debate while it is fresh in my mind, for by tomorrow I will have forgotten half of my impressions.

Overall, my biggest complaint about the debate topics was the omission, once again, of any meaningful discussion about climate change.  It was touched on briefly, but far too little relative to its importance, and only in the most general of ways.

The candidates, in my order of least to most likely to win the nomination (I have included links to their Politico profile which includes their platform):

Tom Steyer speaks well, has some good ideas such as term limits for Congress, and is an environmentalist.  He is not, however, qualified to be president of the United States.  He is a billionaire businessman … we do not need another of those.  He stands no chance and would be doing the nation a favour by dropping out, so that future debates can focus on the more viable candidates.

I found Tulsi Gabbard to be incredibly arrogant and combative.  Gabbard is a veteran of the Iraq War, and I respect that.  But, she has been highly critical of such people as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as the Democratic Party in general, while cozying up to the likes of Steve Bannon, and has among her fans, the ignominious Tucker Carlson.  She struck me as somehow ‘false’, not genuine. She is polling very low and, like Steyer, would be better off dropping out.

Amy Klobuchar has some very good ideas, such as ending Citizen’s United (one of my top priorities), and is well-spoken, but something about her bothered me, and quite honestly, I don’t know what it was.  She had one line, however, that brought the house down and had me laughing out loud:  “If you think a woman can’t beat Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi does it every single day.”  That line alone should bring her up a few points in the polls!  I have mixed thoughts about Klobuchar, however since I don’t expect to see her in the top 3, I’m not going to overthink it.

This was the first time I really took much notice of Andrew Yang, and I liked what I saw and heard.  He was very down-to-earth, his humanitarianism seemed genuine, and he came across as very intelligent.  However, he has no government experience of any sort, is an entrepreneur, and that just simply falls short of the qualifications in my book.  It might not have three years ago, but after the experience of the current administration, I want somebody in office who at least halfway knows what they’re doing and how our government operates.

Kamala Harris has always impressed me, and tonight was no exception.  She has some experience in government at both state and federal levels, having been the Attorney General of California for 6 years, San Francisco District Attorney for 7 years, and has currently served as a U.S. Senator from California since 2017.  She speaks with passion, intelligence, and I found nothing in her platform that I disagreed with.

I like Cory Booker.  No, I don’t think he stands a snowball’s chance, but I like him, like his ideas, his platform, and think that while maybe 2020 isn’t his time, perhaps 2028 might be.  I disagreed with him on one thing, that he is against increasing taxes on the wealthy, though he said he definitely does support estate taxes and capital gains taxes, and he agreed that the nation needs to find additional sources of revenue.  He was friendly, congenial to the other candidates, and his closing statement brought a tear to my eyes when he noted that Representative John Lewis, a hero in my book, was in the audience and referred to Mr. Lewis’ civil rights heroism of the 1960s.

Pete Buttigieg was ranked as one of the debate ‘winners’ by The Washington Post, and I would agree.  He is intelligent, and while his governing experience is limited to being Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012, it is certainly more than the current president has.  He speaks well, has some good points, such as in the areas of housing, minimum wage, and education.  He took some guff tonight, as was expected given that he has been rising in the polls of late.  I rank Mayor Pete fourth of the ten remaining candidates.

Which brings us to the top three.  I truly cannot rank these as #1, #2, #3, because they are all excellent candidates and I am very much torn between the three, yet all three have the same Achilles Heel … their age.

bernie_palestine_debateBernie Sanders did a great job tonight.  He was passionate, spoke with strength and compassion, had all the right answers, in my book.  He had many good moments in the debate, but I think the one that received the warmest audience response was when he said, “It is no longer good enough for us simply to be pro-Israel. I am pro-Israel. But we must treat the Palestinian people with the respect and dignity they deserve.”  The concern with Bernie Sanders is his age and health.  He is 78 years old and recently suffered a heart attack.

Elizabeth Warren had the most speaking time on the debate stage, and I absolutely loved the passion with which she spoke, not to mention that I always like her ideology.  One of the most controversial topics was Medicare-for-All.  I liked many of the ideas that were floated, but I think perhaps I liked Warren’s best, for hers was to phase it in over a three-year period in order to have time to work out the kinks, and to give people time to “feel it and taste it and live with it”.  As with Bernie Sanders, her age is a factor, at 70.

I have thought, since the beginning of this never-ending campaign season, that Joe Biden is the most viable candidate, and … I still think that, with reservations.  Biden, obviously, has the most relevant experience, and he is more moderate than some of the others that I like.  The sad truth is that next year’s presidential election is not about any issues … it’s not about climate change, health care, education, foreign policy, housing, or any of the other issues.  It is about one thing and one thing only:  Who can beat Donald Trump.  Everything else is secondary.  Biden is, of the ten remaining candidates, the most qualified, and the most ‘trusted’, for he is a known factor, while the others are unknowns, relatively speaking.  Biden would be a good president.  However, as far as the debates, I must admit that relative to almost all the others, Joe Biden was not exciting … in fact, he damn near put me to sleep. Additionally, Biden gets cantankerous when challenged … not a good thing.  At the moment, I think he is the best choice to beat Trump, but … for a number of reasons, that may change.

The most recent polls …

Candidate Economist/YouGove Politico/Morning Consult
Biden 30 32
Warren 22 17
Sanders 12 20
Buttigieg 9 8
Harris 4 5
Bloomberg 0 3
Yang 2 3
Gabbard 3 2
Klobuchar 2 2
Booker 1 2
Steyer 1 1

Overall, the debate was worth watching, and I was glad I did.  I’ll likely watch one or two more if I can.  Though it wasn’t captioned, the audio quality was excellent, and I had no trouble hearing the candidates.  I would like to see the next one, which I believe is later this month, whittled down to five candidates, but I am not holding my breath there.  The candidates engaged in a bit of humour from time to time, which helped, and I chuckled aloud more than once, ‘til finally daughter Chris asked what the heck I was watching!

I will have more on the candidates and their platforms in the coming weeks/months, but those are my thoughts about tonight’s debate.  It’s gonna be a loooooooooonnnngg 12 months, my friends.

America’s Failure to Support Troops…Economically

Yesterday, I was stunned by the statistics in this post by Brendan Birth … I think you will be too!  The United States has the largest military budget in the world, in fact it is larger than the next seven nations combined!

defense-spendingAnd yet … we have homeless veterans, and military families who must rely on government assistance simply to put food on the table.  There is something wrong with this picture, folks!

Thank you, Brendan, for this eye-opening post!

“Support our troops.” People in the United States frequently hear and see this phrase in a variety of settings: on cars, from politicians, and from friends posting on social media, to name a few. We hear it especially on days like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

And I agree. We should support our troops. While my personal opinion is that we should avoid war except in the most extreme of circumstances (example: if our own nation is attacked, like with Pearl Harbor), people who risk their own lives on behalf of the entire country should be supported. Since people in the military serve our country, our country should in return serve our military veterans. It’s the least we can do in the United States.

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Filosofa’s Mini Rants

Because I cannot afford a new computer at the moment, I shan’t write about today’s impeachment proceedings except to say that should Jim Jordan and I ever run into each other in person, his head is likely to look like a rotten turnip once I am done bashing it!  Since it is not prudent for me to write about the proceedings today, I figured a few snarky snippets or mini rants might alleviate some of the pressure in my head.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell posted the following on Twitter last evening …

“Critical legislation is currently frozen in place. Casualties of Democrats’ apparent inability to make headway on anything besides fighting with the White House.”

Seriously, Mitchie???  How many bills have been passed by the House that are sitting somewhere in your office because you refuse to even bring them to the Senate floor for a vote???  This was the most hypocritical statement I have ever heard!  The House is doing its job at the moment, investigating the criminal activities of the person sitting in the Oval Office.  You’ll get your chance to try, and hopefully convict him soon.  Meanwhile, why not earn your fat paycheck by passing some of the legislation that has been sent to you by the House?McConnellYou could start with … For The People Act to secure America’s elections, expand voting rights, and get money out of politics.  It was passed by the House and sent to the Senate 250 days ago!  The election is in less than 12 months, and your fat patootie is still sitting on the bill to ensure the integrity of the election.  Do Your JOB, Mitchell!


Gonna need a new computer after all if I keep beating the lettering off the keys …


U.S. representative Devin Nunes from California is an idiot.  There has never been any doubt.  I’m seriously considering reprising my Idiot of the Week feature for people like Jim Jordan, Mitch McConnell, and Devin Nunes! The man once co-sponsored an act to discourage frivolous lawsuits, but yet he himself seems to be ‘sue-crazy’.  In just the past two years, he has sued …

  • A stone fruit farmer in Dinuba, and two other people, for conspiring to damage his 2018 reelection by asking that Nunes not be allowed to call himself a “farmer” on the ballot.
  • The research firm Fusion GPS and a Democratic group called Campaign for Accountability for attempting to interfere with his “investigation” (quote marks are mine) into ties between President Trump and Russia when he was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
  • Twitter and a couple of parody accounts, including @DevinCow, who has called Nunes “a treasonous cowpoke.” He is asking for $250 million to assuage his hurt feelings.
  • McClatchy, parent company of Nunes’ hometown paper, the Fresno Bee, for writing that he had a financial interest in a winery sued by an employee who was asked to work on a charity cruise where men behaved very, very badly.
  • And, most recently, Esquire magazine and the journalist Ryan Lizza, who Nunes claims have defamed him to the tune of $75 million in writing about the Nunes family dairy farm, which is not in California, but in Iowa.

nunesSheesh … is he trying to compete with Donald Trump for the Guinness World Record of most lawsuits?

I could actually write an entire post about Nunes, but he’s not worth that much of my time or energy, so I will confine myself to his latest antics.  Now, Nunes is a conspiracy theorist … almost as much of one as Alex Jones!  Back in 2018, he came up with some long-winded theory that the FBI was conspiring against Trump.  As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes participated in yesterday’s impeachment hearings … the ones I’m not writing about tonight.

Nunes began with an opening statement which included a misleading claim that Democrats on the committee had tried to “obtain nude pictures of Trump from Russian pranksters who pretended to be Ukrainian officials.”  Then he went on to allege that the Ukraine whistleblower who reported Trump’s call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was “acknowledged to have a bias against President Trump” and falsely claimed that the whistleblower’s “attorney touted a ‘coup’ against the president.”

Nunes also falsely claimed that Trump’s July 25 phone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was to express “concerns about foreign corruption,” even though Trump did not mention “corruption” once on the call. Nunes also falsely claimed that the “officials’ alarm at the president’s actions was typically based on second-hand, third-hand and even fourth-hand rumors and innuendo,” even though multiple witnesses testified about first-hand interactions with Trump and with others.

Here’s another one whose head should be made to look like a rotten turnip!


Oh, and now that you’ve gone and mentioned Trump …


The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, arrived at the White House today for a visit with Donald.  Don and Recep have a close relationship, there are ties that bind them.  Back in 2015, after Trump threw his hat in the ring, he did an interview with then-Breitbart host Steve Bannon.  When asked about how he would deal with Turkey if he were to become president …

“I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul. It’s called Trump Towers — two towers, instead of one. … And I’ve gotten to know Turkey very well. They’re amazing people. They’re incredible people. They have a strong leader.”

Yep, straight from the horse’s mouth … a “little conflict of interest”.  But wait, it gets even better.  Two of Erdoğan’s sons-in-law play a role here.  One is Turkey’s Minister of Finance, and deals directly with Trump and Trump’s own son-in-law, Jared Kushner (you remember, the one who lied on his security clearance forms and was, therefore, not given the highest level security clearance?).  The other son-in-law is actually a Trump business partner and advisor.

After a phone conversation between Trump and Erdoğan last month, Trump pulled our troops out of Syria, leaving Erdoğan to invade the Kurdish-held lands and devastate our allies, the Kurds.  And yet, Trump praised Erdoğan …

“We’ve been friends for a long time, almost from day-one. We understand each others’ country. We understand where we are coming from. They’re highly respected in their country and in the region.”

Understands???  Trump understands NOTHING!  Another dictator that Trump praises and claims a kinship with, while he feeds our allies to the sharks.


Well, I thought this little rant might help me calm down, get rid of some of the angst residing within my head, but it has only made it worse.  Perhaps a little snack …

Good People Doing Good Things — Young People Around The World!

Today is World Kindness Day, so it’s rather a good day for this post, don’t you think?  Good people come in all sizes, shapes & colours, and there is no age requirement for being a good person.  Every now and then, I like to focus this feature on young people who are doing good things, for it gives us reason to hope for a brighter future.  And believe me, there are plenty of them out there!


Take, for example, Nicholas Lowinger.  Now, Nicholas had a good example to follow, for his mother worked in various homeless shelters across the state of Rhode Island.  When Nicholas was only five years old, his mother took him to visit in one of the shelters, and he quickly realized that the children in the shelter were living in circumstances that were very different from his own.  While Nicholas had a brand-new pair of light-up sneakers, he saw children in the shelter who had no shoes.nick-lowinger

“I saw other kids my age who looked just like me. The only difference was, they were wearing old, tattered shoes that were falling apart. Some didn’t have a pair of shoes to call their own. I’ve been very fortunate to grow up in a family that is able to provide me with whatever I need. A lot of kids here in the U.S. don’t have the same opportunities.”

Fast forward to 2010, when Nicholas was 12 years old and met a homeless brother and sister duo at school who took turns going to school because they only had one pair of shoes between them.  Nicholas gave the boy a pair of his own basketball sneakers, but it gave him an idea.

“I didn’t want to make one donation and stop there. I wanted it to be something I could do for the rest of my life.”

With the help of his parents, he then started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation.   Since 2010, the organization has donated new footwear to more than 100,000 homeless children in 35 states.  Take a look at this short clip to see Nicholas tell a bit of his story.

Two thumbs up to this young man whose social conscience began at a very early age!  👍👍


Or how about sisters Melati and Isabel Wijsen … Six years ago, these two sisters, then ages 12 and 10, decided they were going to do something about the plastic problem on their island of Bali.  The girls were inspired by the country of Rwanda’s ban of polyethylene bags in 2008 and decided to try to get their native Bali to do the same.

Bali is part of the island nation of Indonesia, which is the world’s second biggest polluter when it comes to marine plastic, trailing only China.

The two sisters got the idea for Bye Bye Plastic Bags in 2013 after a lesson at school about influential world leaders — change-makers — including Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi.

“My sister and I went home that day thinking, ‘Well, what can we do as kids living on the island of Bali?’ You see, we didn’t want to wait until we were older to start making a difference. It wasn’t even a question, really. It was more like, what can we do, as kids, right now.”

The answer was right in their own backyard …Bali-beach

“It got to the point where on weekends when we would go to our childhood beach, if we went swimming there, a plastic bag would wrap around your arm. And you say just, enough is enough.”

They went online and discovered that over 40 countries had already banned or taxed plastic bags.

“We thought, ‘Well, if they can do it, c’mon, Bali! C’mon, Indonesia! We can do it, too!’ So, without a business plan or a strategy or a budget, like my mom will tell you, we went forward with a pure passion and intention to make our island home plastic bag free.”

They got some friends together, went online to start a petition and got 6,000 signatures in less than a day! They spread awareness through school and community workshops. They organized massive beach cleanup campaigns, all the while drawing international attention and that of local politicians too.

“I think one of the biggest tools that pushed us forward was our decision to go on a food strike.”

The sisters put the word out about their plan on social media. Local media picked it up, and that prompted the governor at the time, I Made Pastika, to do what any savvy politician would do when faced with two teenage girls threatening a hunger strike. He invited them to come see him.

“Within 24 hours, we had a phone call and then the next day we were picked up from school and escorted to the office of the governor.”

Pastika signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the sisters to work toward eliminating plastic on the island — and later pledged to rid Bali of plastic bags by 2018. That didn’t happen, but the sisters kept engaging government at every level — local, municipal and national — to keep up the pressure. Melati Wijsen says she learned a lot about dealing with politicians in the process.Melati-IsabelBut … in December 2018, the new governor of Bali announced a law banning single-use plastic in 2019, thanks in part to the sisters’ efforts and those of like-minded NGOs.  Last year, the girls founded their own NGO (non-governmental organization), Bye Bye Plastic Bags.

“We’re actually now in 28 locations around the world, and it’s all led by young people. We’ve created a starter kit and a handbook that guides them through this process of how to start a movement.”

Bali-beach-2These young women are pretty awesome, don’t you think?  Perhaps we need them to come over here?  Another two thumbs up!  👍👍


And then there’s Kelvin Doe from Sierra Leone, the “world’s youngest self-taught engineer”.  Kelvin got his start when he began looking for ways to fix local problems with technology as an 11-year-old, just five years after the country’s volatile civil war ended.Kelvin-DoeKelvin Doe grew up in Freetown, Sierra Leone. At the age of 11, he started collecting scrap material on the way home from school. He discovered that with a little bit of tinkering he could make working parts from things that others had thrown out. Feeling inspired he’d go to bed at 7pm only to wake up in the middle of the night and tinker while the rest of his family slept.

He went on to build a community radio station out of recycled parts that he powered with a generator also made out of reused material. David Sengeh, a PhD student at the MIT media lab and Kelvin’s mentor, said: “In Sierra Leone, other young people suddenly feel they can be like Kelvin.”

In 2016, at the age of 19, Kelvin became an honorary board member of Emergency USA (a global non-profit that provides free medical care for those affected by war and poverty) and founding the Kelvin Doe Foundation, a non-profit organization that is committed to empowering young people in Africa to design innovative solutions to tackle some of the most critical issues in their communities.

Take a look at this video from when he was only fifteen …

Wow, huh?  I’m in awe of this young man!  Another two thumbs-up!  👍👍


Okay, folks, I’ve run out of thumbs now, so that wraps this week’s “good people” post up, but hopefully you found something to love and to inspire you about these young people!  Until next week … remember, if you can’t find a good people, then just go ahead and be one!

In Honour Of The Real Heroes …

Today, 11 November, is Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations and Veteran’s Day in the U.S.  In all our nations, it is a day to remember and honour those who have died while in military service.  While the specifics and the observances may vary somewhat from one country to the next, the meaning is much the same — to honour those who fought and died in wars they did not start.  It is also Armistice Day world-wide … a day that marks the end of World War I, the “war to end all wars”.  Only, sadly it didn’t … end all wars.

One of the first blogs I connected with way back in the early days of Filosofa’s Word when nobody read what I wrote was a blog about a dog and his human, A DOG’S LIFE? (STORIES OF ME AND HIM).  The dog is Ray, who graciously allowed a man named Colin to adopt him, and the blog is mainly about their adventures together.  We drifted apart over the years, but recently reconnected through another blog, NUGGETS OF GOLD.  Long story short, as I am rambling here … on Saturday, I happened upon Colin & Ray’s blog and found a poem that … well, it sums it all up far better than I could have.

Our friend David said it best this morning …

“I honour the dead on both sides in all conflicts.  The all fought because of decisions made by politicians.”  

Those who fought did not start the wars, they did not want to kill others, but they did their duty.  Let’s honour not only those of our own country, but all who have lost their lives in the service of their country.

Thank you, Colin, for sharing this touching poem.cemetery

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER

(A Soldier Died Today)

He was getting  old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,
And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,
But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land
A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?
Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives
Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.
While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,
That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know
It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,
Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?
Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend
His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part
Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor while he’s here to hear the praise,
Then at least let’s give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps just a simple headline in a paper that would say,
Our Country is in mourning, for a soldier died today.

© 1987 A. Lawrence Vaincourt

Take a minute today, no matter where you live, to thank a veteran, or even give one a hug, okay?  And, to all the veterans in my life, a personal and heartfelt “Thank You”.

How Have We Lasted This Long?

Remember not long ago, I told you that Popeye’s had come out with a chicken sandwich that was said to be the equal of Chick-Fil-A’s?  I was happy to hear this, for I refuse to set foot in a Chick-Fil-A restaurant because of their overt bigotry, but I did like their chicken sandwiches long ago.  Well, before the girls and I got around to trying Popeye’s new sandwich, it was announced that they were sold out and would have more in the near future, so I rather forgot about it.  Apparently, though, the Popeye’s sandwich is … um … I don’t even know what word to use … controversial?  Worth risking life and limb for?  Just in the past week …

On Monday, the headlines read “Man Is Fatally Stabbed Over Popeyes Chicken Sandwich”, and on Wednesday it was “Driver Damages Own Car Trying To Jump Popeye’s Drive-Thru Line”Popeye-1.jpgThis post is not about those two events specifically, and I won’t waste my time or yours going into detail.  But rather, this post is about the thought that occurred to me upon seeing these two stories:  I wonder how the human species has managed to survive this long?

Ever since humans evolved from their simian cousins, it seems that they have been trying to kill one another, sometimes with cause, but more often for no good reason.  The more laws we make in our effort to establish a ‘civil society’, the more violent we become.  The more we enhance our education systems, the more ignorant we become.  The more we claim to care about others, the less we seem to care.

Part of the problem, of course, is that we don’t know when to stop reproducing.  The population on earth today is roughly 7.7 billion people, which is more than double the number of people on earth in 1972, just 47 years ago.  The amount of land on the planet, however, remains roughly the same, although with rising sea levels it is on the downturn.  The land on the planet is roughly 196.9 million square miles, which translates to .03 square miles per person.  But, of course, some of that is taken up by forests that are critical for the survival of life on earth.  The bottom line is that we cannot continue to double the population on the planet every 50 years and survive!  Maybe China’s ‘one-child’ rule wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

But, there is more to the problem than overpopulation.  I think that technology has a role in the way people treat each other these days, as well.  Mind you, I’m not putting down man-made technology in general … there have been many amazing inventions, as evidenced by the fact that I am sitting in my comfy chair, and within minutes I have discovered the amount of land and the number of people on planet earth without moving more than my fingertips. Then with a few more clicks of the fingertips, I was able to make the calculations I needed.  Now, I am writing words, again with my fingertips, and in a couple of short hours, people across the globe will be reading my words.  Back in 1972, nobody would have believed it possible.

However, in some ways I think that technology has made our lives too easy.  If the Internet died tomorrow, how many high school kids would know how to go to the library and look up the information I just found at my fingertips?  I’m betting very few.  And, technology has put distance between us – not physical distance, but we are emotionally disconnected from others as we text messages on our cell phones, play video games, watch movies, or troll the ‘net.  We have become emotionally isolated, and when we do have the occasion to interact with others, we have little tolerance.

We are easily frustrated by the actions of others.  Going back to the chicken sandwich example … a man was rude and cut in line in front of another, and the other was so frustrated that he pulled out his knife and stabbed the rude man to death.  Is this what we call ‘civilization’?  All species will kill if they feel their lives or the lives of their pack are threatened, but humans are the only species I know that will kill a person because of the colour of his skin, or where his ancestors came from, or because he was in a hurry to buy a sandwich.

At the same time as we are losing more and more of our humanity, we are also failing miserably to take care of the Earth on which our lives, in fact the lives of every living thing, depend.  The human species seems, as it becomes less tolerant toward one another, to either have a death wish or to believe that they are invincible – I’m not sure which it is.

There are those that will say “Well, species come and go, it’s the natural progression of life”.  Not true.  This extinction will be near-total, and it differs from the extinction of other species in the past because this one was completely, entirely avoidable.  Our fate was in our hands all along, yet we chose to take the path of least resistance, the path that gave us the greatest pleasure, but at the highest cost. It is the arrogance of mankind that has led us to the brink of extinction, and as I ponder it, the only real surprise is that humans have survived this long.

Afternoon ‘Toons!

The first thing I saw in the news this morning made my blood boil … the republicans in the House of Representatives are requesting that Hunter Biden and the whistleblower be subpoenaed to testify before the investigative committees.  First, Hunter Biden?  They have no reason to ask Hunter Biden to testify … that is harassment of a private citizen without cause.  But even worse, is their “demand” that the whistleblower testify.  That is akin to painting a big, red target on his or her back.  It would almost certainly be signing his/her death warrant, given the crazies in the Trump camp that are running around fully loaded for bear.  So, I knew that anything I would write at the moment would be a rant.  It’s Saturday, and this afternoon I will be going out for lunch and a bit of shopping with the girls, so I really don’t want to be in a growlie mood.  So, instead I decided to look at some of those brilliant political cartoons and at least maybe have a chuckle or two, at the expense of the idiots in Washington.


Lindsey Graham.  Sigh.  Lindsey seemingly has no conscience, is two-faced, and seemingly goes in whichever direction he perceives the winds of fortune to be blowing, even if it means stabbing a friend in the back, as he once did his ‘best friend’, John McCain.  More recently, ol’ Lindsey, who fully supported Bill Clinton’s impeachment back in 1998-1999, is refusing to even do his job, says he won’t even read the transcripts from the impeachment investigations.  

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Since long before he took office, Trump has called climate change a ‘hoax’.  Since taking office, he has actively done everything in his power to add to the problem, to decimate and destroy our environment.  He has long said that he would take the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, making us the only nation on the planet not committed to doing everything in our power to keep the planet from becoming uninhabitable.  Last week, he kept that “promise”, and took the first step toward pulling out of the Accord.  It was a sad day for the citizens of this nation, and one that will ultimately make us the pariah, the most hated nation on earth.  Climate change is real, folks … it’s Trump who is the hoax!

climateclimate-2climate-3climate-4climate-5Nick Anderson cartoonclimate-7


Trump recently announced that he is changing his state of residence from New York to Florida.  I don’t recall what b.s. excuse he gave, but the reality is it’s naught but a tax dodge.  New Yorkers cheered, while Floridians drowned their sorrows in either a bar or the rising sea tides.

Trump-floridaTrump-florida-2Moving to Florida

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I rather thought this looked more like Boris than Donnie …


There was some good news last Tuesday, as people in states like Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania used their vote to tell the nation that they are fed up with the GOP corruption running rampant in the Era of Trump.

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And, of course, as I mentioned in my opening blurb, there is the whistleblower and the fact that the GOP is basically calling for his/her execution …

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And, of course, there is that proverbial ‘elephant in the room’, the looming impeachment, which I hope succeeds beyond our wildest dreams and that Trump is booted out of the White House before the end of the year!  Yeah, I know, I’m dreaming.

impeachimpeach-2impeach-3Attacking the CIATom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c191103.tif


And, to offset any angst you might be feeling … take a look at this … guaranteed to give you a chuckle.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, my friends!

This Cannot Become “Normal”

I came across this OpEd in the New York Times by one of my favourite opinion writers, Nicholas Kristof, earlier today.  It is a prescient warning that I think is worth sharing.


Don’t Let Trump Make You Numb to What’s Unacceptable

Our species has an ability to adapt. Now’s not the time.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

  • Nov. 6, 2019

The problem with being a frog in a beaker is that you may not notice the water temperature rising to a boil.

Humans, too. In New Delhi, people get used to air that is filthy. In Syria, to checkpoints. In Angola, to corruption. In China, to propaganda. And in America, we risk becoming numbed to a political, social and moral breakdown.

Scandal and dysfunction dribble out from Washington day by day, numbing us so that we may forget just how unprecedented and outrageous the trends are. It was only five years ago that Fox News was deploring a “shocking” and “desperate” presidential scandal that Republican Representative Peter King described as inexcusable: Barack Obama wore a tan suit! Now we can’t even keep track of how many countries President Trump has asked to do him political favors.

I’ve been traveling abroad, so I’ve been asking journalists and officials how they see America, and from a distance they offer blunt assessments. “If your president isn’t a Manchurian candidate,” one senior European official said, “he’s doing a pretty good imitation of one.”

In 2016, Obama’s passivity and Republican intransigence may have allowed Russian cyberattacks to swing the presidency to Trump (there’s no way to be sure, but that’s what the forensic work of Kathleen Hall Jamieson suggests). Yet despite improvement, the United States still doesn’t have an adequate strategy to foil Russian or Chinese interference in the 2020 election.

Trump is a hero of many evangelical Christians who previously emphasized the importance of personal values and restoring “honor and dignity” to the White House. Meanwhile, he is on his third wife, has cheated on all three and has been accused of sexual misconduct by 25 women. And Trump tweeted a supporter’s praise likening him to “the second coming of God.”

Since taking office, Trump has made more than 13,400 false or misleading statements, according to a Washington Post database. The Post found that he has recently accelerated his falsehoods to a rate of 22 per day, more than one per waking hour. (I’ve covered many world leaders, and the only two whom I consider pathological liars are Trump and former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.)

Trump has declared “I am the chosen one.” His press secretary last month spoke of “the genius of our great President.”

Trump, who according to a Times investigation is wealthy partly because of fraud, pledged to fight corruption and “drain the swamp.” Since then, he has lost more first-term cabinet members to scandal than any president in history.

 “I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said before his election. In fact, he has visited golf clubs approximately 224 times since taking office, including more than three months in total at Mar-a-Lago. These vacation trips have cost taxpayers more than $100 million.

Trump’s mother was an immigrant, as are two of the women he married (his current wife may have been undocumented). Yet he has ripped children from parents at the border, and his administration has argued that detained immigrant children do not need soap or toothbrushes.

We haven’t even gotten to Trump trying to buy Greenland, marching into women’s changing rooms to admire undressed teenagers, borrowing Stalinist language to denounce the press as the “enemy of the people,” claiming that climate change is a Chinese conspiracy, banning Muslims or diverting money to build the wall that Mexico supposedly would pay for.

Oh, and that multibillion-dollar wall is now being cut open by smugglers with $100 saws.

Yet America’s dysfunction goes beyond Trump, and it will outlast Trump, even as it is aggravated by him.

American kids ages 1 through 19 are 57 percent more likely to die than those in other advanced nations, according to a study in the journal Health Affairs. That’s partly because the United States is virtually alone in failing to provide universal health coverage: Trump didn’t create that problem, but he did magnify it so that the number of uninsured children is now increasing.

Longstanding economic inequality in the United States, exacerbated by Trump’s tax cuts and other policies, is staggering. A single hedge fund tycoon, James Simons, made $1.6 billion last year, or more than $4 million each day — yet the United States has 100,000 children who on any given night are homeless. Since 2000, 61,000 foster kids have simply gone missing. Girls and boys are sold by pimps for sex in every American city.

America is not, as President Trump once called it, a “hellhole.” It is a nation of enormous strengths and resources, but we need to muster them now. A merit of our species is that we are adaptable and resilient and can get used to almost anything.

But we should never get accustomed to all this. Let’s not let ourselves be numbed by the daily drip into accepting a level of Trumpian dysfunction that should always be unacceptable.

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