A Bright Spot … Maybe?

Could you use a little ray of hope for the upcoming November mid-term elections?  I think we all could.  Dan Pfeiffer was a senior advisor to President Barack Obama for a number of years, and is the author of three books about politics in this new, uncharted “Maga Era”.  His newsletter on Substack is called The Message Box and today’s was an astute assessment of why there is hope for the Democratic Party to maintain a majority in the House and Senate after the mid-terms.  Read on …


Why Dems Could Win This Fall

An uncharacteristically optimistic take on how recent events have upended the midterms

Dan Pfeiffer

Optimism does not come naturally to me. If I had a family crest, “Prepare for the worst, be surprised by the best” would be the motto emblazoned on it. I have tried to avoid telling people what they want to hear about a high stakes midterm election in this absolutely miserable political environment. Up until recently, Democrats were stuck in a doom loop.. That defeatism threatened to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. What activist, donor, or voter wants to sign up for a suicide mission? And to be honest, it’s been hard to make a reasonable, fact-based case that Democrats could upend the historical trends. However, over the last few weeks, the worm has turned. Democrats now have a legitimate shot to outpace expectations dramatically.

I am not devolving into a sunny guy. This is not a prediction. It is not an admonition against bedwetting. I think the odds are still against Democrats. We have an eternity till Election Day. The future looked quite dire three weeks ago, and may look just as dire in three weeks. But as we sit here today, one can make a credible bull case for Democrats.

Reason 1 for Optimism: Success

All political analysis should begin with the fact that America has a growing, diverse, pro-truth, pro-democracy, anti-MAGA majority. Now, of course, this majority is not evenly distributed geographically, which is why the GOP often has an advantage in the Senate and Electoral College. But the bulk of the races this cycle will be conducted in states Joe Biden won in 2020. Simply reconstructing the Biden coalition in composition and turnout will be sufficient to win. Our major problem to date has been disillusion and disappointment among our base and the Independent voters who favor Biden. Less than a month ago, Democrats seemed headed for a legislative disaster. During this period, Jonathan Chait wrote in New York Magazine:

By realistic or even minimal standards of performance, this two-year term, almost certain to be the last period of Democratic-controlled government for the foreseeable future, has been a failure. The ramifications of this defeat — political, economic, and ecological — will reverberate.

And then everything changed.

In rapid succession, Democrats passed legislation on guns, microchips, veterans’ benefits, and the historic Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats now have reasons to be happy, and Independents have reasons to reconsider supporting Republicans. More specifically, the climate change provisions are an opportunity to re-engage young voters. Last week, after the Manchin-Schumer deal was announced, I wrote:

No group of our core Democratic constituency has become more disillusioned or disengaged than younger voters. Passing the most ambitious climate change bill in history creates an opportunity to re-engage this group. People won’t vote this time if they think their last vote didn’t matter. Passing a serious climate change package is proof that every door knocked, text sent, and vote cast in 2020 mattered a whole helluva lot.

Democrats now have a powerful case to convince their voters to keep them in the majority.

Reason 2: Improving Political Environment

Despite this newsletter and other strategy, tactics, and message-focused sources, the biggest factors in political success are often far outside the control of the candidates and campaign operatives. The driving force in this election is inflation — and specifically, the price of gas and groceries. In most polling, 80 to 90 percent of voters listed inflation as a top concern. Most gave Biden (and Democrats more broadly) abysmal marks for their handling of the issue. As gas prices went up, President Biden’s approval rating went down. While the near-term picture on inflation is cloudy, gas prices have been steadily declining for more than a month.

Costs are still elevated, and families still feel financial pressure, but the trajectory is good. The Biden Administration continues their valiant efforts to focus the public’s attention on the steady decline. Voters are historically forward-looking. They are willing to give politicians credit for progress even if the present is still suboptimal. If gas prices continue to drop, it’s more likely that the electorate will give the Democrats credit for the historic number of jobs created since Biden took office.

Reason 3: Backlash Towards GOP Policies

Presidents usually get shellacked in their first midterm. Reagan, Bush #41, Clinton, Obama, and Trump all lost many seats. The primary theory for this occurrence is called the “Thermostatic Model,” which Andrew Prokop described in Vox as follows:

This theory holds that the public functions essentially like a thermostat, kicking in when it’s either too hot or too cold to restore the preferred temperature. Voters could conclude things are too conservative under a Republican regime and elect a new Democratic president. But then they could quickly conclude things have become too liberal, and swing back toward Republicans in the midterms. Then after Republicans regain some power, perhaps opinion will swing back toward Democrats and get the president reelected. (The Obama and Clinton presidencies both followed this trajectory.)

Under this theory, the Republican Wave of 2010 was a response to large-scale Obama initiatives like the stimulus plan and Obamacare. Both of these bills were underwater in the Fall of 2010. Obama’s numbers bounced back when the public saw the dangerous extremism of the new Republican majority.

Like every other recent president, Joe Biden’s numbers took a big hit. His approval rating is now at or below where Donald Trump’s was at the same time. This is not great. Trump is sort of the “Mendoza Line” for Presidents. What’s unique about Biden’s political challenges is that they are not a response to his policy agenda. Every one of his major initiatives was popular when it passed and remains so today. The initial polling on the Inflation Reduction Act and CHIPS bills show broad, bipartisan support. To the extent policy backlash exists in this election, it’s a response to the extremist policy agenda of MAGA Republicans embodied by the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Dobbs case. A Supreme Court rigged by Republicans ripping a constitutional right from millions of Americans combined with a series of Orwellian Republican laws like book bans have put the GOP on defense. The public is concerned about overreach from Republicans, not Democrats. We saw the power of abortion as an issue in the recent Kansas referendum. The anti-abortion side lost by double digits in a state Trump won by 15 points. Most notably, 100,000 Independents who could not vote in the party primaries turned out to vote on the abortion initiative.

Reason 4: Candidate Quality

With the help of Donald Trump, Republicans nominated a uniquely vulnerable slate of candidates. This group of criminal, incompetent carnival barkers give Democrats a slight advantage in states they would lose under more normal circumstances. The Republican gubernatorial nominees in Pennsylvania and Michigan were active parts of the insurrection. The Republican nominee for Attorney General in Arizona is an actual member of the Oath Keepers — a Right Wing terror group. Herschel Walker’s Georgia Senate campaign has been one disaster after another. This recent (and devastating) ad shows Walker’s unique vulnerability:

Dr. Oz has flopped so badly that the Republican Party is exploring ways to replace him on the Pennsylvania ballot. J.D. Vance in Ohio is such an obvious fraud that he is in danger of losing Ohio — a state Trump won by more than 10 points twice. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Being a great candidate is rarely enough to win in a tough year, but a bad candidate can lose in the best year.

So You’re Saying There’s a Chance…?

Look, we have miles to travel between now and Election Day. The political environment changed dramatically once and could change again. To that point, the FBI raided Mar-A-Lago in the three hours since I finished the last draft of this piece.

If gas prices tick back up or President Biden’s approval ratings don’t rise with his fortunes, Dems could still be in heaps of trouble. The House is A LOT tougher than the Senate, but this election is now winnable if, and only if, we all dig in and double down on the hard work that delivered us the House, Senate, and White House in the last two elections.

♫ Olivia Newton-John … Gone But Not Forgotten ♫

Yesterday the world received the sad news that singer Olivia Newton-John had died at age 73.  A cause of death was not given, but Newton-John was diagnosed with breast cancer that surfaced for a third time in 2017.  Her Grease costar and hit duet partner John Travolta was quick to weigh in with a tribute on social media …

“My dearest Olivia, you made all of our lives so much better. Your impact was incredible. I love you so much. We will see you down the road and we will all be together again. Yours from the moment I saw you and forever! Your Danny, your John!”

While I liked much of her music, I didn’t know a whole lot about her, so I went in search of this evening.

From Songfacts, I learned …

Olivia Newton-John was born in 1948 in Cambridge, England, but emigrated with her family to Australia as a child. Her maternal grandfather was German physicist Max Born, who won the Nobel Prize in 1954 for his work with Quantum Mechanics.

She competed on the Australian TV show Sing, Sing, Sing and won a trip to Great Britain, where she formed a duo with Pat Carroll (the future wife of John Farrar, who would become Olivia’s regular producer and songwriter). In the ’80s, the pair reunited to open Koala Blue, a chain of women’s clothing boutiques.

Long before the fantasy musical Xanadu notoriously flopped, she starred in another musical sci-fi stinker, Toomorrow (1970). Producer Don Kirshner was hoping to follow-up his success with The Monkees with the title group fronted by Olivia. It didn’t work.

Despite not liking the song at all, her first hit was a cover of Bob Dylan’s If Not For You, using an arrangement by George Harrison. It topped the Adult Contemporary chart and peaked at #25 on the pop chart.

Her first #1 pop hit was 1974’s I Honestly Love You. She found even greater success in the Adult Contemporary market, where she landed 10 chart-toppers and several more in the Top 10 throughout her career.

She nearly turned down the role of Sandy in Grease because, at 29, she worried she couldn’t pull off playing a teenager (she’s always looked younger than her age, but not that young). Once she met John Travolta, however, their chemistry was instantaneous, and she signed on immediately.

Her country-pop ballads were hits on the country chart, but a 1974 Grammy win for Best Female Country Vocal Performance (Let Me Be There), coupled with a CMA win for Female Vocalist of the Year, soured Nashville veterans who viewed her as an interloper who threatened the purity of the genre. Led by George Jones, several CMA members quit and formed the short-lived Association of Country Entertainers to “preserve the identity of country music as a separate and distinct form of entertainment.”

She married Xanadu costar Matt Lattanzi in 1984, and gave birth to her only child, daughter Chloe, two years later. She and Lattanzi divorced in 1995.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1992 and stayed in remission until 2017, when she announced the cancer had returned and metastasized to her lower back.

Due to a zipper breaking, Olivia Newton-John had to be sewn into the trousers she wears in the last carnival scene of Grease.

And from an article in Variety, I found out …

Chart historian Joel Whitburn ranked the warm-voiced Australia-bred singer as the No. 1 female soloist of the ‘70s. Her nine top-10 pop singles of the decade included three chart-topping 45s; the biggest of them, “You’re the One That I Want,” a duet with Travolta drawn from the smash 1978 soundtrack of the musical “Grease,” spent nearly six months on the U.S. lists.

Originally slotted as a country vocalist, she quickly conquered the pop charts with a succession of well-scrubbed tunes. Though the hits dried up in the early ‘90s, she remained a cherished performer into the new millennium, with a durable fan base sustained by the continuing popularity of “Grease” as a cable TV staple and sing-along theatrical screenings.

In recent years, she spoke about her seemingly upbeat attitude even as the cancer returned after she had been diagnoses as cancer-free. “I’m happy. I’m lucky. I’m grateful. I have much to live for. And I intend to keep on living it,” she told Gayle King in an interview for “CBS This Morning” conducted at her California ranch in 2019. “‘Why me’ has never been a part of it.”

But you probably know most of this, and if not, you can find it easily enough.  For tonight, let’s sit back and listen to some of her tunes.

Let’s start with her biggest #1 hit …
And a few of my favourites …
While I’m saddened to learn of her death, I enjoyed doing this brief tribute post to her, enjoyed listening once again to some ‘oldies but goodies’.  R.I.P. Ms. Olivia Newton-John.

♫ Time In A Bottle ♫ (Redux)

Last night I played “Photograhps and Memories” by Jim Croce and tonight my mind still seems to be craving a bit more Jim Croce, so … I hope you don’t mind one more by a man of great talent who left us a legacy of music when he died much too young.


Jim Croce wrote this song the night that he found out his wife, Ingrid, was pregnant. The couple had been married for five years, and Ingrid found out she was pregnant when she went to a fertility specialist. She recalls a mix of terror and delight in Jim’s reaction when she told him the news. The child was a boy named Adrian, who grew up to become the singer-songwriter A.J. Croce.

Croce wrote the lyrics after his wife Ingrid told him she was pregnant, in December 1970. It appeared on his 1972 ABC debut album You Don’t Mess Around with Jim. ABC originally did not intend to release the song as a single; but when Croce was killed in a plane crash in September 1973, the song’s lyrics, dealing with mortality and the wish to have more time, had additional resonance.

On September 30, 1973 a plane carrying Croce and five other people crashed upon takeoff as he was leaving one college venue to another 70 miles away. No one survived the accident, and among those killed was Maury Muehleisen, who played guitar on Croce’s albums.

The song, released as a single in December 1973, hit the #1 spot just 14 weeks after Croce’s death.

Time in a Bottle
Jim Croce

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
‘Til eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

Songwriters: Jim Croce
Time in a Bottle lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Snarky Snippets For A Sunday Afternoon

Ahhhhh … nothing like a peaceful, lazy Sunday afternoon, right?  Curl up with a good book, maybe have a little bit of a kip, take a look at the news and BOOM … the peace is shattered, the nerves are jangled, and the snark finds its way into a blog post!


Sorry, no books today!

In the small town of Jamestown, Michigan, population 9,630 as of the 2020 census, the library may soon close.  Lack of interest?  No way!  The people in this town love their library, but the taxpayers voted against funding the library earlier.  Why?  A handful of residents – less than 50 – complained about books in the library written by or about LGBTQ people, saying their intent was to ‘groom’ children.  The library director was harrassed to the point that she finally resigned, as did the next in line for her job.

Larry Walton, the library board’s president, said “We, the board, will not ban the books.”  And thus, the voters voted 62% to 37% against a measure that would have raised property taxes by roughly $24 in order to fund the library.  This is, as I see it, yet another step toward the dummying down of American youth … making it harder for them to learn the truth about the culture of the nation they live in, as well as its history.

And along those same lines, in Florida, Collier County Public Schools added warning labels to more than 100 books, many of which touch on issues related to race or the LGBTQ community.  WTF???

The books carrying this ‘warning’ include ones by Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Ibram X. Kendi, and John Updike.  If this trend continues … I don’t hold out much hope for the humanity of future generations.  This, my friends, is what we are up against … if your skin isn’t white, if you don’t attend the right church, if you love someone who ‘society’ deems inappropriate … you don’t belong.  Not only that, but your story will never be told.  Our history … our true history which includes our horrid treatment of the Indigenous People who lived her long before European settlers arrived, Africans who were brought here in chains and sold into slavery, and many more atrocities based on race, will never be told to the next generation.  What a sad … nay, tragic … ending for what was once a nation filled with hope for a brighter future.


There may not be books in schools, but there will damned well be guns!

In Ohio, the state legislature passed and governor Mike DeWine signed into law a bill that allows teachers to carry a gun into their classrooms with only 24 total hours of firearms training.  In North Carolina, one school system is putting AR-15 rifles in every school. Nationwide, at least 29 states allow individuals other than police or security officials to carry guns on school grounds.  This, my friends, is the Republican’s response to the Uvalde school shooting in May that killed 19 students and two teachers.  They don’t respond with a ban on assault weapons such as the one that was used in Uvalde, and they don’t respond by calling for stricter gun measures.  Nooooooo … their answer, just as it has always been, is to put more guns in the hands of unqualified people!

What could possibly go wrong with AR-15s in the classrooms?  Surely there would never come a time when a teacher might step out of the classroom for just a moment and a student might get the gun and … well, use your imagination.  Surely that would never happen, right?  Right?

The strategy is fiercely opposed by Democrats, police groups, teachers’ unions and gun control advocates, who say that concealed carry programs in schools — far from solving the problem — will only create more risk. Past polling has shown that the vast majority of teachers do not want to be armed.  But … the Republican Party is so entwined with the gun manufacturers and the NRA that they are bought … lock, stock, and barrel.  Uvalde just gave them the excuse they had been waiting for.  Ban the books but bring on the guns!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …


Just a couple of decent guys … NOT!

I think ol’ Roger Stone just likes attention, so he’s back in the news.  This time, he’s seeking assistance for his buddy, Alex Jones, who has been ordered thus far by the courts to pay a total of $49.3 million for the lies he told about the 2012 Sandy Hook school massacre.  Now, Alex Jones doesn’t appear to actually have $49.3 million, as his net worth is only an estimated $40 million, so … enter Roger Stone, he of many crimes who would be in prison today, were it not for the pardon he received from the former guy.

Stone has called for contributions to support Jones, saying that …

“Alex Jones is a good and decent man.  He is a God-fearing Christian…and right now he needs our support.” 

Excuse me a moment while I go throw up my breakfast …

There is not one shred of human decency in either Roger Stone or Alex Jones!  Both are the definition of evil and belong in a prison cell for the duration of their nasty lives!


And on that note, I now return you to your peaceful, lazy Sunday afternoon …

♫ Photographs And Memories ♫ (Redux)

This is one of my favourites by the late, great Jim Croce.  I planned to go in search of a new song, something I hadn’t played before, but I’m too exhausted tonight, so … Jim Croce volunteered to step in and give our ears a treat!

Photographs and Memories is the title song from Jim Croce’s album of the same name that was released in 1974, a year after his death.  Croce was just starting to become successful when he died at the age of 30. Jim, the pilot, and other members of his group, were killed when the plane crashed into a pecan tree at the end of the runway in Natchitoches, Louisiana in 1973.  Yet another gone too soon.

Photographs And Memories
Jim Croce

Photographs and memories
Christmas cards you sent to me
All that I have are these
To remember you

Memories that come at night
Take me to another time
Back to a happier day
When I called you mine

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh how I loved you then

Summer skies and lullabies
Nights we couldn’t say good-bye
And of all of the things that we knew
Not a dream survived

Photographs and memories
All the love you gave to me
Somehow it just can’t be true
That’s all I’ve left of you

But we sure had a good time
When we started way back when
Morning walks and bedroom talks
Oh how I loved you then

Songwriters: Jim Croce
Photographs And Memories lyrics © BMG Rights Management

The Week’s Best Cartoons 8/6

Since yesterday I posted two real downers … Hiroshima/Nagasaki/nuclear arms, and Viktor Orbàn teaching authoritarianism to the GOP, I thought to start today with a bit of humour … political cartoons that combine seriousness of purpose and humour!  Thanks to TokyoSand for doing the hard work and finding the best of the lot!  Naturally, one of the main topics on the cartoonists minds this past week was the vote striking down a ban on abortion in Kansas, so let’s start there!  (Be sure to follow the link at the end to view the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!)

See all the ‘toons at Political Charge!!!

If It Looks Like A Duck …

If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck.  That’s an old saying that doesn’t need any further explanation.

The Republican Party has frequently given us hints that they are the party of white supremacy seeking to implement an autocracy here in the U.S. if they can manage to gain a majority in both chambers of Congress this year, and in the executive branch in 2024.  Donald Trump made no secret that his goal was to rule, not to preside, and that he has no use for any who are not white-skinned, straight Christian males.  When the Republicans invited Viktor Orbàn, dictator (official title is Prime Minister) of Hungary, to be their keynote speaker at the annual CPAC convention being held this week in Dallas, Texas, there could be little doubt left.  But any remaining shred of doubt was washed away when Orbàn, gave a speech talking his usual racist, homophobic trash-talk and thousands of Republicans gave him a standing ovation.  A standing ovation, my friends.

WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH THESE PEOPLE?????

Are they bored with a system where, at least theoretically, every person can vote, every vote is counted, and in this manner We the People elect the members of government who we believe will best serve our interests?  Are they tired of the relative stability of life in the U.S. as compared to countries like Turkey, Russia, DPRK, and Hungary?  Do they no longer support a free press, the freedom to believe or not believe in any or no deity?  Do they truly wish to return to a nation of slave-owners?  They claim to worship the flag, and to stand strong by the expression in the national anthem, “Land of the brave and home of the free”, and yet they would happily … enthusiastically even, give up that freedom in exchange for an authoritarian rule.

Is it requisite for a strong-arm authoritarian to be obese and show his fist often?

Orbàn recently came under fire in his own nation for a speech in which he declared “we do not want to become peoples of mixed-race.”  That speech led to outrage among his critics and the very public resignation of a long-time advisor who characterized Orbàn’s speech as “a pure Nazi text worthy of Goebbels.”  Anybody care to call me an alarmist for the many times I’ve compared Trump and others to Adolf Hitler?

Orbàn told the audience that they need to “coordinate our troops” in the fight against liberalism, exhorting them to gear up to remove Joe Biden from office (“you have two years to get ready”). The stakes, in his telling, are the very future of our civilization.  I’m surprised, actually, that he didn’t tell them they should overthrow the Biden administration.

“The West is at war with itself. We have seen what kind of future the globalist ruling class has to offer. But we have a different kind of future in mind. The globalists can all go to hell. I have come to Texas.”

The crowd cheered and gave him a standing ovation.  Disgusting.

Freedom of the press is gone in Hungary since Orbàn took over in 2010.  Immigrants are not welcome and Orban built a heavily patrolled barbed wire fence along a stretch of 325 miles that completely cuts off access from three countries:  Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia.  Hungary, once ranked a democracy, has been downgraded to a “hybrid regime” by Freedom House.  There are still elections, but they are heavily manipulated to ensure Orbàn and his cronies remain in charge of the government.  According to Wikipedia …

Orbán has passed laws, amended the constitution, and finally written a new constitution, allowing him to do what he wanted to do. Civic institutions such as courts, universities, and the apparatus necessary for free elections remain, but have been “patiently debilitated, delegitimatized, hollowed out”, controlled by Orbán loyalists. Domination of the media by Orbán prevents the public from hearing critics point of view. In 2022, Orbán’s opponent was given but five minutes on the national television “to make his case to the voters”.

And this is, apparently, what the ‘conservatives’ in this country would like the United States to look like within a few years.  Nothing … not one thing … that I have heard from the mouths of any Republican politicians, has convinced me that they aren’t seeking an authoritarian government where they make all the rules and our freedoms, our fair elections, our voices … simply disappear.

Yes, my friends, I believe it IS a duck.

♫ Overjoyed ♫ (Redux)

I figure that since last night I played Fire for Clive, tonight I get to treat myself to … wait for it … some Stevie Wonder!!!

Overjoyed is a hit single written and performed by American R&B singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder on the Tamla (Motown) label from his 1985 album In Square Circle.

The song was written first for the 1979 album Journey Through the Secret Life of Plants, but was left off the album, and re-recorded for the 1985 album In Square Circle. In the liner notes for the song, “crickets, nightingale & additional bird sounds, ocean, pebbles in pond, stone dropped, crushing leaves” are listed under “environmental percussion”. The song was first performed live on the May 7, 1983, episode of Saturday Night Live, where Wonder was the host and musical guest.

This song has been covered by numerous artists, including Diana Ross, Mary Blige, Grover Washington, Celine Dion and many more, most of whom I have never heard.

I had to force myself to listen to this four five six times tonight, just to make sure I had gotten the right lyrics, that he wasn’t singing off-key … you know, all those details that must be just right!  😉  And now, I think I might actually be able to sleep for a few hours … dreaming … of … zzzzzz … sandman has come … zzzzzzzzzzz …

Overjoyed
Stevie Wonder

Over time, I’ve building my castle of love
Just for two, though you never knew you were my reason
I’ve gone much too far for you now to say
That I’ve got to throw my castle away

Over dreams, I have picked out a perfect come true
Though you never knew it was of you I’ve been dreaming
The sandman has come from too far away
For you to say come back some other day

And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me

Over hearts, I have painfully turned every stone
Just to find, I had found what I’ve searched to discover
I’ve come much too far for me now to find
The love that I’ve sought can never be mine

And though you don’t believe that they do
They do come true
For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over loved, over me

And though the odds say improbable
What do they know
For in romance
All true love needs is a chance
And maybe with a chance you will find
You too like I
Overjoyed, over loved, over you
Over you

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Wonder Stevie
Overjoyed lyrics © Johanan Vigoda Admin. Acct. Stevie Wonder Catalogue, Jobete Music Co Inc, Black Bull Music Inc, Jobete Music Co., Inc.

77 Years Ago – 6 August 1945

Today, 06 August 2022, marks the 77th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima by the United States.  This post is partly a repost of the one I did two years ago, but I have updated it and added just a bit.  I know many disagree with me, but in my opinion, the bombing of Hiroshima, and three days later Nagasaki, were nothing short of war crimes, of crimes against humanity.  Approximately 210,000 people died as a direct result of those two bombings.. These people were not the military brass who were leading the Japanese army and navy in attacks against the allies, nor were they even the soldiers who were following orders.  They were innocents — senior citizens, women, children, civil servants — people who were only going about their lives until suddenly … BOOM … they no longer had lives to go about.  I will always believe that the use of nuclear weaponry is wrong.  Period.

In 2016, then-President Barack Obama attended the annual ceremony of the observance of the anniversary at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, attended by some 50,000 people representing 80 nations.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for global cooperation to end nuclear weapons.

“For us to truly realize a world without nuclear weapons, the participation of both nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states is necessary.”

In July of that year, the United Nations reached its first agreement to ban nuclear weapons. But Japan, along with the nine nuclear-armed nations, including the United States, refused to take part in the negotiations and the vote, saying it does nothing to counter the “grave threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.”

Japan already adheres to a policy of not possessing, producing or allowing nuclear weapons on its territory. It is the only country to have ever come under nuclear attack.  So far.

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres issued a message calling for the United States and other nuclear-armed countries to do more to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

“Our dream of a world free of nuclear weapons remains far from reality. The states possessing nuclear weapons have a special responsibility to undertake concrete and irreversible steps in nuclear disarmament.”

Every president since 1945 has worked toward test bans and global reduction of nuclear weapons … until the Trump administration who seriously considered resuming nuclear testing.   Trump withdrew the United States from arms treaties including the landmark INF agreement and the Iran nuclear deal. Today, there are more than 13,000 nuclear warheads worldwide according the Arms Control Association, most of them held by the United States and Russia.

Given Russia’s war on Ukraine and the potential fallout of support for Ukraine by the United States and many European nations, the tension is higher than it once was, the threat of a nuclear war has increased, especially with a man at the helm in Russia who lacks a conscience, who cares not one whit about human lives, even those in his own nation.  It is more important than ever that we find a way of disarmament … but I’m spitting in the wind as our late friend Hugh used to tell me often.

Contrary to the “dream of a world free of nuclear weapons”, in February 2017 Donald Trump told Reuters that “if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack.”  Trump, in fact, has said some chilling things along those lines:

  • Trump said he might use nuclear weapons and questioned why we would make them if we wouldn’t use them. – March 2016
  • “Europe is a big place. I’m not going to take cards off the table.” (Answering a question whether he would ever ‘nuke’ Europe) – March 2016
  • Trump said that “you want to be unpredictable” with nuclear weapons – January 2016
  • Trump reiterated that it was important to be “unpredictable” with nuclear weapons – March 2016
  • Trump said he’d be OK with a nuclear arms race in Asia – May 2016

Now, ordinarily I would have taken Trump’s comments out of this updated post, for he is gone, he is history … but there is a chance that he will re-occupy the Oval Office if the U.S. Department of Justice does not do a proper job of charging and convicting him of his crimes in office, so I think it remains important to realize his views on nuclear war.

In my opinion, the absolute worst invention in the world … ever … was the invention of nuclear weapons that are capable of killing hundreds of thousands of people in a matter of seconds.  This is not a toy, not something funny to play around with, and it is damn sure not something that should be used to threaten other nations.

When I originally published this post two years ago, our friend Ellen provided a quote by John Steinbeck from his 1958 book “Once There Was A War”:

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”

Truer words were never spoken.  Today, let us simply remember the atrocities, the horrors, of August 6th and August 9th, 1945.  And let us hope that somehow, someday, we can have a world free of the nuclear threat.

In Memory …

hiroshima-8.jpg

Related post: On President Obama’s Visit to Hiroshima

♫ Fire ♫

I have often said that for my music posts, I play only music that I like … which, relative to the universe of music, is admittedly a bit of a narrow scope.  Lately, Clive and a few others have been expanding my horizons and I’ve found a few new ones to like.  The song I am about to play is not one of them!  Our friend Clive asked for this one, and since he’s given me so many new musical experiences, I thought this was the least I could do.  I promised him before I listened to the song, but … a promise is a promise.  And I must admit that while I didn’t enjoy listening to the song, I had some fun with this post, with learning about the song and the artist!  This one’s for you, Clive …

Amazingly, this song reached #1 in the UK & Canada, and #2 in the U.S.  However, Arthur Brown, nee Arthur Wilton, was to be a one-hit wonder, for this was his only song to make its way onto the charts.  The song was written by Brown, Vincent Crane, Mike Finesilver and Peter Ker in 1968 and was released as a single and on the band’s debut album, called The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, which is also the name of the band.  According to SongFacts …

Growing up in England after World War II, Brown spent a lot of time around people whose lives were destroyed by the war, many of whom suffered from PTSD or other difficulties. When he started making music, instead of writing about girls, cars or relationships, he came up with a concept of an inner journey, developing a story about a man who faces his demons, heading into a figurative fire. Along this journey, he encounters the “God of Hellfire,” who shows up in “Prelude/Nightmare,” the first track on The Crazy World of Arthur Brown concept album. As the man enters the inferno, he finds himself deep in a psychedelic trip, which is described in the second track, “Fanfare/Fire Poem.”

As he falls into an abyss, the character returns, telling him: “I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you… Fire.” This marks the beginning of the song “Fire,” where our hero is taken to burn. While it works best within the concept of the album, it also serves as a standalone track, as the lyric on its own can be interpreted as a story about a man facing up to his past. Running 2:52 with the ear-catching spoken intro, it was a tasty, digestible slice of a much more complex work.

During live performances and in the black and white promotional television clip, Brown performed the song wearing a burning helmet. The helmet was improvised with a leather skull cap onto which was bolted a metal dish that held lighter fluid or petrol. As the cap was not insulated, the heat from the burning fuel quickly conducted through the fixing bolt to the top of Brown’s head, causing him considerable pain.  Apparently it sometimes caused pain for others, as well.  According to Jimmy Ryan, who backed him on bass as he recalls a gig at Wollman Skating Rink in Central Park …

“He simplified his attire with magician’s robes, war paint and a burning lyre headdress/helmet, and we were made to wear warlock cloaks and hoods, but we were forgiven the face paint. We began our show, and with a little difficulty, I managed to keep my floor length, flowing cloak from interfering with my bass strings.

Did I mention, Arthur liked to light his head on fire? As we cranked through our dark, distorted organ, pounding and pulsing bass-and-drums set Arthur, in a moment of screaming, psychotic reverie, forgot I was behind him, and hurled his lighter fluid-fueled, blazing headdress up and backwards, where it came to rest beneath my cloak. I was looking at (keyboardist) Paul Glanz at the time and only realized what had happened when I felt some red alert heat creeping up my bare legs and private parts (it was summer – no pants under my cloak). I began to spew four letter words in rapid fire, screaming and leaping around the stage, initially dragging the burning helmet with me under the cloak, unable to kick it free. Arthur thought I was ‘performing,’ absorbed in his insane, hellfire thing and was cheering me on. I thought I was about to meet the real God of Hellfire and go up in flames like a suicidal monk, right on the stage in front of 3,500 people! The stage crew was on it and came racing at me with a fire extinguisher, but Murphy’s Law of burning robes fortunately did not kick in. I managed to leap free before ignition/immolation, and they hosed the helmet instead of me. The irony was that Arthur kept going, unaware that anything was out of the ordinary, and the cheering crowd, pumping their two-fingered, metal head fists in the air, was treated to what they believed was me being possessed by demons, and doing the burning (literally) psycho hell dance.”

The SongFacts article is fascinating, if you care to read the entire thing!  And now, on to the song …

Fire

Arthur Brown

I am the god of hellfire! And I bring you
Fire, I’ll take you to burn
Fire, I’ll take you to learn
I’ll see you burn

You fought hard and you saved and earned
But all of it’s going to burn
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you’ve really been so blind
Now’s your time, burn your mind
You’re falling far, too far behind
Oh no, oh no, oh no!
You’re gonna burn
Fire, to destroy all you’ve done
Fire, to end all you’ve become
I’ll feel you burn

You’ve been living like a little girl
In the middle of your little world
And your mind, your tiny mind
You know you’ve really been so blind
Now’s your time, burn your mind
You’re falling far, too far behind
Ooh

Fire, I’ll take you to burn
Fire, I’ll take you to learn
You’re gonna burn
You’re gonna burn
You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn
Burn, burn, burn, burn
Burn, burn, burn

Fire, I’ll take you to burn
Fire, I’ll take you to learn
Fire, I’ll take you to bed
Fire, I’ll take you, fire…