The Religion Of The Gun — A Guest Post By Roger Jacob Llewellyn

A couple of days ago, I asked if any of my non-U.S. readers would be interested in writing a guest post about how they view our gun culture from outside our borders.  I had a couple of takers, and Roger was first in line with a historic view and an opinion of where we are today.  There is a saying that sometimes we “can’t see the forest for the trees”, and that is why I value the views of those outside this nation, who often see our situation far more clearly than we can.  I’ll let Roger tell you in his own words … Thank you, Roger, for this very thoughtful, honest view!


The Religion of The Gun

A Brief Opening Statement on Humanity

All belief systems have a historical start bred out of a perceived necessity. This is embraced by followers who in turn are part of a population. In time the belief system becomes ingrained into a culture and often forms its own symbiosis with other sympathetic or empathetic beliefs, until it is hard for the outsider to separate one from the other, while to the insider they are all part of the identity.

Within The American Lore

At the start of the American journey there was an idea that in too much central government lay a path to tyranny and that the ideal was in a combination of communities coming together for the common good when the need required this, otherwise independence would be the norm. Being realists of that time it was understood self-defence would be a requisite, for there were perceived hostile European empires ever predatory and natives seen as alien savages. A standing army was viewed with suspicion as this could be the tool of a central government which might see fit to impose its will. In addition in an ever expanding nation local defence was seen as a wise stance against lawless elements. Thus was born the notion that a citizen should have the right to bear arms and be on call to come together with the rest of the community for that common good. It was assumed the community would be the one best to decide what was the common good.

Frailties of All Belief Systems

At this juncture it should be noted all belief systems start out with a set of simplistic ideas as to what is the best solution. All accept that Humans have flaws, some maintain strict adherence to their idea of the belief is the true and only way. This misses the point of an old saw that in one version says ‘The Rule Book is for the guidance of the wise and the adherence of the unfortunate’

In The Beginning Was The Gun

A measure of Brevity requires we move on two centuries and a few decades and consider the current state of the evolution of the right to bear arms and suspicion of central government in the development of the USA as the two are linked in one political symbiosis which has become cancerous.

The growth of the Legal Gun Culture is of course linked to that mis-used part of the Constitution ‘Right to bear arms’. To quote the full sentence “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  does not actually help the Gun Control argument, because the Gun Lobby has enough followers who are willing to subscribe to the ‘Suspicion of Central Government’ belief and that guns are necessary just in case Central Government tries to impose its will on them, ignoring the fact that the said body is imposing its will on a daily basis because that is how government works. The events of January 2021 in Washington is sufficient evidence of effects of the cancer.

The Gun Lobby also are content to see gun ownership as a defence against mob (ie other races) violence coming near their community; the term ‘violence’ being very elastic in their view; such as say a BLM march. It is difficult for the Gun Lobby to argue against this, when most of their own marches are groups composed of ‘White Folk’. It is a nascent racial/cultural aspect prevalent around the world. The problem being in the USA there is a very efficient commercial arms manufacturing and distribution network.

Add to this the tragic entrenchment of sections of the White Communities into the idea that they are under threat, a view fostered and encouraged by extremists, and opportunists with an excess of media outlets and you have a replay of the Cold War mentality. Thus the manufacture and sales of guns is seen as part of an insurance scheme- ‘because you never know’  is in the back of minds fed by all manner of febrile propaganda.  From this breeds another fear, from those in communities who feel they are under threat from the perceived ‘White’ Gun Lobby, that being they had better arm themselves…’because you never know…’ A Cold War without government and diplomatic channels to damp down any heating up.

In this febrile and fractured social situation it becomes a near impossibility for government to impose the required sanctions to limit the gun owners and the amount of weaponry they can legally hold. For the ever opportunistic opposition to such laws need only raise the twin spectres of  ‘Central Government’ and ‘They’ taking our guns away’ and out come the proverbial torches and pitchforks. Never mind that such access allows volatile folk means to a violent solution to their disaffection. Never mind that in even the most disciplined and trained army in a battle zone when shot and shell are flying there will be those struck by their own side, thus forget the ‘good guys’ carrying guns solution.

The View From Outside

Any Gun Lobby supporter reading this will tell me I don’t understand America. Actually I understand their part of America all too well. It is a place of fundamentalist views, of narrow-eyed suspicion, angry that there are still heretics and ‘those people’. It is a place of a fiery unforgiving warped version of core beliefs. It is a place which is willing to accept other people dying needlessly so that it can cling to its obsessive bitterness. A place where as far as it is concerned all ills and woes are down to a corrupt elite and their effete lackies. It is the mirror image of views you would find in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, vast swathes of Saharan and Sub-Saharan Africa, in areas of South East Asia, all hiding behind religions they claim they follow but never bothered to study in depth; all who see the gun as the final arbiter in any argument.

These so-called Americans, who care nothing for the Nation but only their enclave. They are little different from the chanting mobs in any of the aforementioned locations. I would like to think these fine white folk are offended by being likened to ‘those people’. Because here is the kicker folks. We outside of the USA are inured to the news of suicide bombs and attacks on villages, we lament them and then move onto the next news. And it is now the same on the gun killings in the USA, we shake our heads, we are sorry for the dead and their nearest but then move on, because we can’t get ‘Those Gun Freak types’ to see any sense. ‘Those people’.


Be sure to check out Roger’s blog, Writing Despite Computers and Programmes!

Looking Forward Doesn’t Mean Forgetting The Past

The attacks on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th of this year are destined to become a notable part of the ongoing history of this nation.  We rely on the media to help us find answers to the ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions, but instead the press, whose independence we cherish and protect, is turning a blind eye, has moved on without delving too deeply for answers.  The GOP prefers to simply ‘move on’ and the press is giving in to them, it seems.  Robert Reich’s piece in The Guardian yesterday speaks to this issue …


Republicans tried to overturn the election. We can’t just forget that

Robert Reich

Americans like to look forward but the effects of Trump’s lies about Covid and the 6 January insurrection are still with us

America prefers to look forward rather than back. We’re a land of second acts. We move on.

This can be a strength. We don’t get bogged down in outmoded traditions, old grudges, obsolete ways of thinking. We constantly reinvent. We love innovation and disruption.

The downside is a tendency toward collective amnesia about what we’ve been through, and a corresponding reluctance to do anything about it or hold anyone accountable.

Now, with Covid receding and the economy starting to rebound – and the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol behind us – the future looks bright.

But at the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, let me remind you: we have lost more than 580,000 people to Covid-19. One big reason that number is so high is our former president lied about the virus and ordered his administration to minimize its danger.

Donald Trump also lied about the results of the last election. And then – you remember, don’t you? – he tried to overturn the results.

Trump twisted the arms of state election officials. He held a rally to stop Congress from certifying the election, followed by the violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died. Senators and representatives could have been slaughtered.

Several Republican members of Congress encouraged the attempted coup by joining him in the big lie and refusing to certify the election.

This was just over four months ago, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our memory.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Post hosted a live video chat with the Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley, a ringleader in the attempt to overturn the results of the election. Hawley had even made a fist-pump gesture toward the mob at the Capitol before the attack.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley’s new book on the “tyranny of big tech”. It even posted a biography of Hawley that made no mention of Hawley’s sedition, referring instead to his supposed reputation “for taking on the big and the powerful to protect Missouri workers” and as “a fierce defender of the constitution”.

Last week, CBS This Morning interviewed the Florida Republican Rick Scott, another of the senators who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of his sedition. The CBS interviewer confined his questions to Biden’s spending plans, which Scott unsurprisingly opposed.

Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson and the House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, also repeatedly appear on major news programs without being questioned about their attempts to undo the results of the election.

What possible excuse is there for booking them if they have not publicly retracted their election lies? If they must appear, they should be asked if they continue to deny the election results and precisely why.

Pretending nothing happened promotes America’s amnesia, which invites more attempts to distort the truth.

On Monday, Trump issued a “proclamation” seeking to co-opt the language of those criticizing his falsehoods. “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the BIG LIE!” he wrote, repeating his claims that the 2020 election was stolen and that President Biden is illegitimate. Most Republican voters believe him.

Trump’s big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify new laws that restrict voting. On Thursday, hours after Florida installed new voting restrictions, Texas’s Republican-led legislature pushed ahead with its own bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona senate is mounting a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa county – farming out 2.1m ballots to GOP partisans, including at least one who participated in the 6 January raid on the Capitol.

The Republican party is about to purge one of its leaders, the Wyoming representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth.

It is natural to want to put all this unpleasantness behind us. We are finally turning the corner on the pandemic and the economy. Why look back to the trauma of the 2020 election?

But we cannot put it behind us. Trump’s big lie and all that it has provoked are still with us. If we forget what has occurred, the trauma will return, perhaps in even more terrifying form.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 5/8

Yesterday, our friend TokyoSand published her weekly roundup of political cartoons and there is just to much material right now that I don’t know how she can even decide which ones to choose!  She does always manage, though, to pick the best of the lot, and this week is no exception.  Most of them, you’ll notice, feature the Republican Party as the brunt of the joke … a position they have worked hard to earn!  Thank you, TS, for your hard work on these ‘toon posts!

Source: The Week’s Best Cartoons 5/8

♫ Creeque Alley ♫

I sat back earlier tonight, closed my eyes, and waited for a song to come to me.  Well, a song didn’t come to me, but a group did … The Mamas and the Papas!  Checking my archives, I found that I haven’t played very many by them, and they certainly deserve a wider venue than what I have given them thus far.  There wasn’t much verifiable trivia in my two usual ‘go-to’ sources, SongFacts and Wikipedia, so I delved deeper, went further afield, and hit the jackpot!  I apologize for the length of the post, but I found the trivia fascinating … all news to me … and I thought/hoped you would, too.  If not, then just skip to da song!

From a website titled Best Classic Bands

Numerous autobiographical songs have been written since the dawn of rock, but few have told the story of a band’s formation as vividly and colorfully as The Mamas and the Papas’ “Creeque Alley.” Released as a single in late April 1967, it climbed to #5 on the Billboard Hot 100; it also appeared on the quartet’s third album, Deliver, which itself rose to #2.

The song, credited to the group’s husband-and-wife co-founders John and Michelle Phillips, chronicles the events leading up to the 1965 creation of the Mamas and the Papas, which also included Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty. The lyrics are stocked with names and places, some of which may have been (and still are) unfamiliar to fans of the group. We’ll break it down.

First, there’s the song’s title. Creeque (pronounced creaky) Alley is a real place, one of a series of alleys (actually named Creeque’s Alley and owned by the Creeque family) on the docks on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands. The soon-to-be members of the Mamas and the Papas spent time there shortly before changing their musical direction and taking on their new name. There they were still performing folk music, at a club called Sparky’s Waterfront Saloon, and basically trying to make ends meet and figure out their futures.

The song’s story line only makes passing reference to the Mamas and the Papas’ time on the island though, and never mentions Creeque Alley by name. It starts in the years leading up to the seemingly preordained coalescence of the four singers.

The first line, “John and Mitchy were getting’ kind of itchy just to leave the folk music behind,” refers to John and Michelle’s activities as folk singers in the early ’60s. John Phillips, then 26, had been singing with a folk group called the Journeymen when he met 17-year-old Michelle Gilliam during a tour stop in San Francisco. They fell in love and, after John divorced his first wife, married on Dec. 31, 1962, moving to New York where they began writing songs together while Michelle did modeling work to earn some cash. By late 1964, with the rock scene exploding, John and Michelle had become, like many others, “itchy” to move away from folk. It wasn’t all that easy, they quickly discovered, and the couple, along with Doherty formed the New Journeymen in the meantime. (Trivia note: Early New Journeymen member Marshall Brickman, who was replaced by Doherty, went on to co-write some of Woody Allen’s best-known films and won an Oscar for Annie Hall.)

In the meantime, other similarly inclined folk artists were coming into one another’s orbits. First, there were “Zal and Denny, workin’ for a penny, tryin’ to get a fish on a line,” which refers to Zal Yanovsky and Dennis (known as Denny) Doherty. Both Canadians, they’d been working together in a folk trio called the Halifax Three in their home country. “In a coffeehouse Sebastian sat” brings into the picture John Sebastian, the New York City-born singer-songwriter who at the time was part of the Even Dozen Jug Band and would soon form one of the most beloved American rock bands of the era. And then there were “McGuinn and McGuire, just a gettin’ higher in L.A., you know where that’s at.” McGuinn, of course, was Jim (later Roger) McGuinn, whose group the Byrds would vault to the top of the charts with their cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” in the late spring of ’65, while McGuire was Barry, whose rendition of P.F. Sloan’s protest song “Eve of Destruction” struck a nerve that summer, also catapulting to the #1 position.

The first verse leaves off with a name-drop of the fourth member of the Mamas and the Papas: “And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass.” Cass Elliot (born Ellen Naomi Cohen), originally from Baltimore, she also had a background in folk music when she came to the attention of the other folkies in the song. She’d sung in a trio called the Big 3 with Tim Rose and Cass’ husband, James Hendricks (not to be confused with New York scene regular Jimi Hendrix), but like the others she saw the proverbial writing on the wall and wanted to expand her range of music. The “gettin’ fat” remark has a double meaning, however: not only was Elliot physically large but she was the only future M&P member who was making a decent living with her music, singing jazz in the Washington, D.C., area.

The second verse begins with a couple of mutual compliments: “Zally said, ‘Denny, you know there aren’t many who can sing a song the way that you do, let’s go south.’ Denny said, ‘Zally, golly, don’t you think that I wish I could play guitar like you?’” And so they headed south from Canada, soon finding themselves at a popular club in New York’s Greenwich Village: “Zal, Denny and Sebastian sat (at the Night Owl), and after every number they’d pass the hat.” (More trivia: The Night Owl would become the home base of the Lovin’ Spoonful, Sebastian and Yanovsky’s group, and much later on would be the site of the famed New York record store Bleecker Bob’s.)

Meanwhile, McGuinn and McGuire were “still a-gettin’ higher in L.A.” and Mama Cass was still “gettin’ fat,” but no one had yet found their destinies.

Verse three gives us some more background on Cass’ run-up to joining the group. She was planning to attend college at Swarthmore, the song says, but instead hitchhiked to New York to see if she could make it in the music world. (Trivia note: Cass never planned to go to Swarthmore—she wanted to attend Goucher College near her hometown of Baltimore. But John Phillips needed a rhyme so he used sophomore and Swarthmore.) Upon her arrival in NYC, she met Denny Doherty and fell in love with him.

“Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps” adds the next piece to the puzzle: The Mugwumps were a folk quintet formed in 1964 featuring Elliot, Doherty, Sebastian, Yanovsky and Hendricks. (The John here refers to Sebastian, not Phillips.)

The Mugwumps recorded enough material to be compiled into an album in 1967, which did not feature Sebastian, but the group was short-lived as its members were also “itchy to leave the folk music behind.” The next verse ties up the loose ends and takes us to the point where everyone is on the verge of fame: “Sebastian and Zal formed the Spoonful; Michelle, John and Denny getting’ very tuneful; McGuinn and McGuire just a-catchin’ fire in L.A., you know where that’s at.”

And there you have it: the various figures peel away from folk and move into what was then called folk-rock: Sebastian and Yanovsky teamed with bassist Steve Boone and drummer Joe Butler in the Lovin’ Spoonful; the Phillipses, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty became the Mamas and the Papas; McGuinn led the Byrds for several years; and McGuire had a chart-topping hit as a solo artist. In fact, says a previous verse, “McGuinn and McGuire couldn’t get no higher and that’s what they were aimin’ at.”)

“And everybody’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass,” goes the final line in that verse, inferring that success had arrived. But there’s some unfinished business, that matter of the time spent at Creeque Alley.

The last chorus/verse informs us that it wasn’t overnight success for the Mamas and the Papas by any means. It’s here, at the end of the song, that the scene shifts to the Virgin Islands. The singers, still called the New Journeymen and minus Cass at first (as the song said, they “knew she’d come eventually”) are cash-poor and borrowing on their American Express cards. They’re “broke, busted, disgusted,” but thanks to some help from a fellow named Hugh Duffy, who owned a boarding house in Creeque’s Alley, the four young singers who would soon be known worldwide were able to start thinking about their future: “Duffy’s good vibrations and our imaginations can’t go on indefinitely,” they sing toward the end of “Creeque Alley.” So the four returned briefly to New York, then all headed out to Southern California to see if they could catch a break.

“And California Dreaming is becoming a reality” is the final line of the song. We all know what that one means.

The song, released in 1967, charted at #1 in Canada, #5 in the U.S., and #9 in the UK.

Creeque Alley
The Mamas & the Papas

John and Mitchy were gettin’ kind of itchy
Just to leave the folk music behind
Zal and Denny workin’ for a penny
Tryin’ to get a fish on the line
In a coffee house Sebastian sat
And after every number they’d pass the hat
McGuinn and McGuire just a gettin’ higher
In L.A., you know where that’s at
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass

Zally said Denny, you know there aren’t many
Who can sing a song the way that you do, let’s go south
Denny said Zally, golly, don’t you think that I wish
I could play guitar like you
Zal, Denny and Sebastian sat (at the Night Owl)
And after every number they’d pass the hat
McGuinn and McGuire still a gettin’ higher
In L.A., you know where that’s at
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass

When Cass was a sophomore, planned to go to Swarthmore
But she changed her mind one day
Standin’ on the turnpike, thumb out to hitchhike
Take me to New York right away
When Denny met Cass he gave her love bumps
Called John and Zal and that was the Mugwumps
McGuinn and McGuire couldn’t get no higher
But that’s what they were aimin’ at
And no one’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass

Mugwumps, high jumps, low slumps, big bumps
Don’t you work as hard as you play
Make up, break up, everything is shake up
Guess it had to be that way
Sebastian and Zal formed the Spoonful
Michelle, John, and Denny gettin’ very tuneful
McGuinn and McGuire just a catchin’ fire
In L.A., you know where that’s at
And everybody’s gettin’ fat except Mama Cass
Di di di dit dit dit di di di dit, whoa

Broke, busted, disgusted, agents can’t be trusted
And Mitchy wants to go to the sea
Cass can’t make it, she says we’ll have to fake it
We knew she’d come eventually
Greasin’ on American Express cards
It’s low rent, but keeping out the heat’s hard
Duffy’s good vibrations and our imaginations
Can’t go on indefinitely
And California dreamin’ is becomin’ a reality

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: John Edmund Andrew Phillips / Michelle Gilliam
Creeque Alley lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

A Woman Of Principles

There aren’t too many congressional Republicans for whom I have even a modicum of respect these days.  Liz Cheney is at the top of the list of those I respect.  I don’t agree with her political positions, and quite often detested her father, but … Ms. Cheney has proven herself to be a woman of conscience, a woman who is not afraid to stand by the courage of her convictions.  She has what so many … almost all … Republicans lack these days:  integrity.

And it is because of her conscience, her integrity, her refusal to support the lies being told by the former guy and his minions, that she is almost certain to lose her leadership position as the third highest ranking Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Think about that one … because she is honest, she is to be punished by dishonest people like Kevin McCarthy, who knows damn well that the election results were fair and aboveboard, but for his own political purposes has tied himself to the former guy’s train.

Ms. Cheney has written an OpEd for The Washington Post that I think deserves to be widely read.  I don’t agree with everything she says toward the end of her column, but that doesn’t diminish my respect for her for being one of only a handful of people in her party who put country before self.  I expect to have ideological differences with those on the right … I just don’t expect to be lied to, deceived, and threatened as we all have been by today’s Republican Party. This is what sets Liz Cheney apart from the rest of the party … her honesty.


Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.

Opinion by Liz Cheney

May 5, 2021 at 5:05 p.m. EDT

In public statements again this week, former president Donald Trump has repeated his claims that the 2020 election was a fraud and was stolen. His message: I am still the rightful president, and President Biden is illegitimate. Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6. And, as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested, there is good reason to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again. Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.

The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) left no doubt in his public remarks. On the floor of the House on Jan. 13, McCarthy said: “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters. He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.” Now, McCarthy has changed his story.

I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law. Each of us swears an oath before God to uphold our Constitution. The electoral college has spoken. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple Trump-appointed judges, have rejected the former president’s arguments, and refused to overturn election results. That is the rule of law; that is our constitutional system for resolving claims of election fraud.

The question before us now is whether we will join Trump’s crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have. I have worked overseas in nations where changes in leadership come only with violence, where democracy takes hold only until the next violent upheaval. America is exceptional because our constitutional system guards against that. At the heart of our republic is a commitment to the peaceful transfer of power among political rivals in accordance with law. President Ronald Reagan described this as our American “miracle.”

While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country. Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people. This is immensely harmful, especially as we now compete on the world stage against Communist China and its claims that democracy is a failed system.

For Republicans, the path forward is clear.

First, support the ongoing Justice Department criminal investigations of the Jan. 6 attack. Those investigations must be comprehensive and objective; neither the White House nor any member of Congress should interfere.

Second, we must support a parallel bipartisan review by a commission with subpoena power to seek and find facts; it will describe for all Americans what happened. This is critical to defeat the misinformation and nonsense circulating in the press and on social media. No currently serving member of Congress — with an eye to the upcoming election cycle — should participate. We should appoint former officials, members of the judiciary and other prominent Americans who can be objective, just as we did after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The commission should be focused on the Jan. 6 attacks. The Black Lives Matter and antifa violence of last summer was illegal and reprehensible, but it is a different problem with a different solution.

Finally, we Republicans need to stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality. In our hearts, we are devoted to the American miracle. We believe in the rule of law, in limited government, in a strong national defense, and in prosperity and opportunity brought by low taxes and fiscally conservative policies.

There is much at stake now, including the ridiculous wokeness of our political rivals, the irrational policies at the border and runaway spending that threatens a return to the catastrophic inflation of the 1970s. Reagan formed a broad coalition from across the political spectrum to return America to sanity, and we need to do the same now. We know how. But this will not happen if Republicans choose to abandon the rule of law and join Trump’s crusade to undermine the foundation of our democracy and reverse the legal outcome of the last election.

History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.

Let’s talk American History

The U.S. has a uniquely diverse history, parts of which are often glossed over, ignored, or revised in its teaching. That needs to stop … we need to learn the history of the nation — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it. Yet, there are those who would simply erase parts of the history of this nation. Blogging buddy Brosephus has once again knocked the ball out of the park with his take on this topic … thank you, Brosephus!

The Mind of Brosephus

American history has been a hot topic as of lately, primarily because of Republicans striking out against what they’re calling “wokeism”, revisionism, or whatever the code word is for the day. There’s been a lot of crap being spewed from the Tennessee Republican claiming the Three-fifths Compromise was passed to end slavery to Tim Scott claiming America isn’t a racist country.

Individually, the statements that have been made are outrageously stupid and wrong. Collectively, these statements all feed into the cult-like behavior Republicans now exhibit where up is down, the sky is green, and grass is blue. This is dangerous because this creates a society ignorant of its own history of accomplishments and mistakes. You can’t know who you are if you don’t what you have and haven’t done.

So, first up is Rick Santorum and his statement on Native Americans. The easiest and quickest way to disprove his statement…

View original post 527 more words

What The GOP Looks Like In The 21st Century

Is there a single member of the former guy’s inner circle who isn’t in deep legal doo-doo?  First, there’s Giuliani whose home and office were raided by the FBI last week and who is in more than one pot of boiling water.  Then there’s Jared Kusher whose apartment company has been charged with repeatedly violating state consumer protection laws by collecting debts without required licenses, charging tenants improper fees and misrepresenting the condition of rental units.  Former Attorney General William Barr is being investigated for a possible conflict of interest in the case against heavy-equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., and the list goes on.  Hopefully, at the end of the day, charges and indictments come down against the former guy himself, for he is undoubtedly at the helm of most of these issues.  It is my fondest hope to see the former guy in an orange jumpsuit and behind bars for the rest of his life.

And yet, the GOP goes on, producing more, nastier criminal types like Kevin McCarthy, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Margie Greene, Matt Gaetz and more.  In my mind, I can almost hear Richard Nixon loudly asserting that, “I am not a crook!”  In truth, Nixon was no more a crook than some 90% of today’s GOP … but he paid the price, while today’s lot are applauded.  The difference?  Probably the likes of Fox ‘News’, the New York Post, and other Murdoch-owned outlets that wouldn’t recognize truth if it hit them in the patootie, and the influence of social media.  Compared to Nixon in 1973, today’s liars and crooks have nearly unlimited coverage ‘round the clock … Twitter, Fox, Newsmax, Facebook … they are all complicit in giving voice to the lies, to giving the crooks a megaphone with which to make their meritless case.  To be a star on Twitter or Facebook, you needn’t be honest or intelligent … you only need to have a huge number of followers, which you can get by being off-the-wall outrageous.  Integrity?  Not necessary.  Honesty?  Not a requisite.

You’ll hear, from many on all sides of the fence, that “both sides do it”.  No, my friends.  While the Democrats are not beyond party loyalty, and while no doubt they tell a lie or two here and there, they are in no way the accomplished Pinocchios that today’s GOP is home to.  One single example:  The GOP and its right-wing media arm have put out the completely baseless lie that Joe Biden is “coming to take your beef burger”!  Biden has never, to the best of my knowledge, even mentioned cutting beef consumption, and he’s a smart enough man to know he’d find his head on the chopping block if he did.  Now personally … my family and I eat beef maybe once a month, so I really don’t care if the powers that be stop slaughtering cows, but that’s just me.

But you’ll hear it on Fox, you’ll hear it out of the mouths of the Republican fools … and there is not a single element of basis in fact for that outright lie.  It bears as much merit as if the Democrats put out the lie that Republicans are going to force every person over the age of 18 to own a gun.  But see, we don’t need to make up lies about the Republicans, for they make themselves look bad every day without our help!  They think we sit around trying to find ways to make them look like idiots, but they’ve done that job for us!

But let us talk about substance … if the Republicans don’t like President Biden’s ideas, why don’t they come up with alternate policy proposals, meet at the table, and give a little, take a little, ending with a compromise that benefits the nation?  Why don’t they propose ways to ensure that everyone, regardless of employment, gender, ethnicity, or religion has affordable health care?  Why don’t they give us their ideas for how to repair the damage done to the Earth’s environment by humans?  Why don’t they propose ways to meet the challenges that face us in the 21st century?  Why?  Because they have none, because they are too busy being the party of racism, of negativity, of conspiracy theories, to actually propose meaningful, useful, legislation.  Does anybody doubt that they have spent more time promoting the Big Lie than thinking about how to help the people of this nation?

Republican Representative Anthony Gonzalez, when asked about the beating of Representative Liz Cheney by other Republicans because she stood by her beliefs in voting to impeach the former guy, replied …

“If a prerequisite for leading our conference is continuing to lie to our voters, then Liz is not the best fit. Liz isn’t going to lie to people. Liz is going to say what she believes. She’s going to stand on principle. And if that’s going to be distracting for folks, she’s not the best fit. I wish that weren’t the case.”

And that, folks, sums it up in a nutshell … if you have a conscience, if you are honest and a person of integrity, then you are “not the best fit” for today’s Republican Party.  Need I say more?

Focusing On People … ALL People

There are numerous ideological differences between the two major political parties in the United States today, some are superficial, others deep-rooted.  But one of the main ones, I believe, is what their view of the purpose of government is.  The Democratic Party largely believes in investing in people, while the Republican Party is more concerned with investing in Profit … profit for the already wealthy, that is, not for the average Joe.

I have shared two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Nicholas Kristof’s work before, and his column yesterday in the New York Times is another that needs to be read, pondered and absorbed.  He makes the case for President Biden’s proposals for investment in the people of this nation, and he makes it well.  If the Republican Party chooses not to participate, then perhaps it’s time we leave them behind … for the greater good, the good of the nation and all of its people.


Joe Biden Is Electrifying America Like F.D.R.

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

YAMHILL, Ore. — The best argument for President Biden’s three-part proposal to invest heavily in America and its people is an echo of Franklin Roosevelt’s explanation for the New Deal.

“In 1932 there was an awfully sick patient called the United States of America,” Roosevelt said in 1943. “He was suffering from a grave internal disorder … and they sent for a doctor.”

Paging Dr. Joe Biden.

We should be cleareyed about both the enormous strengths of the United States — its technologies, its universities, its entrepreneurial spirit — and its central weakness: For half a century, compared with other countries, we have underinvested in our people.

In 1970, the United States was a world leader in high school and college attendance, enjoyed high life expectancy and had a solid middle class. This was achieved in part because of Roosevelt.

The New Deal was imperfect and left out too many African-Americans and Native Americans, but it was still transformative.

Here in my hometown, Yamhill, the New Deal was an engine of opportunity. A few farmers had rigged generators on streams, but Roosevelt’s rural electrification brought almost everyone onto the grid and output soared. Jobs programs preserved the social fabric and built trails that I hike on every year. The G.I. Bill of Rights gave local families a shot at education and homeownership.

Roosevelt’s Public Works Administration provided $27,415 in 1935 (the equivalent of $530,000 today) to help build a high school in Yamhill. That provided jobs for 90 people on the relief rolls, and it created the school that I attended and that remains in use today.

In short, the New Deal invested in the potential and productivity of my little town — and of much of the nation. The returns were extraordinary.

These kinds of investments in physical infrastructure (interstate highways) and human capital (state universities and community colleges) continued under Democratic and Republican presidents alike. They made America a stronger nation and a better one.

Yet beginning in the 1970s, America took a wrong turn. We slowed new investments in health and education and embraced a harsh narrative that people just need to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. We gutted labor unions, embraced inequality and shrugged as working-class America disintegrated. Average weekly wages for America’s production workers were actually lower in December 2020 ($860) than they had been, after adjusting for inflation, in December 1972 ($902 in today’s money).

What does that mean in human terms? I’ve written about how one-quarter of the people on my old No. 6 school bus died of drugs, alcohol or suicide — “deaths of despair.” That number needs to be updated: The toll has risen to about one-third.

We allocated large sums of taxpayer dollars to incarcerate my friends and their children. Biden proposes something more humane and effective — investing in children, families and infrastructure in ways that echo Roosevelt’s initiatives.

The most important thread of Biden’s program is his plan to use child allowances to cut America’s child poverty in half. Biden’s main misstep is that he would end the program in 2025 instead of making it permanent; Congress should fix that.

The highest return on investment in America today isn’t in private equity but in early childhood initiatives for disadvantaged kids of all races. That includes home visitations, lead reduction, pre-K and child care.

Roosevelt started a day care program during World War II to make it easier for parents to participate in the war economy. It was a huge success, looking after perhaps half a million children, but it was allowed to lapse after the war ended.

Biden’s proposal for day care would be a lifeline for young children who might be neglected. Aside from the wartime model, we have another in the U.S.: The military operates a high-quality on-base day care system, because that supports service members in performing their jobs.

Then there are Biden’s proposed investments in broadband; that’s today’s version of rural electrification. Likewise, free community college would enable young people to gain technical skills and earn more money, strengthening working-class families.

Some Americans worry about the cost of Biden’s program. That’s a fair concern. Yet this is not an expense but an investment: Our ability to compete with China will depend less on our military budget, our spy satellites or our intellectual property protections than on our high school and college graduation rates. A country cannot succeed when so many of its people are failing.

As many Americans have criminal records as college degrees. A baby born in Washington, D.C., has a shorter life expectancy (78 years) than a baby born in Beijing (82 years). Newborns in 10 counties in Mississippi have a shorter life expectancy than newborns in Bangladesh. Rather than continue with Herbert Hoover-style complacency, let’s acknowledge our “grave internal disorder” and summon a doctor.

The question today, as in the 1930s, is not whether we can afford to make ambitious investments in our people. It’s whether we can afford not to.

Filosofa Takes on Mitch

Mitch McConnell has found a permanent home on my radar, it would seem.  Every day he says or does something to spark my temper and this week he’s been on a veritable roll.


Mitch McConnell, aka Moscow Mitch, says we don’t matter!

I have never been a fan of the ignoble, inglorious Mitch McConnell, but now he has crossed my red line.  Referring to President Biden’s plan to increase taxes on corporations and on the wealthy (such as Mitch himself), McConnell claimed he would not support Biden’s infrastructure plan because of the “massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.”  Think about that one for a minute, friends.  “All the productive parts of our economy” in Mitch’s mind, are the wealthy like himself.  We, the people who have worked 40+ hours per week every week of our adult lives, the people who built the cars, mined the coal, grew the food, educated our children, are nothing!  F*ck you, Mitch McConnell!

I had my first full-time job when I was 13 years old, and apart from a few years off to raise three children and earn three college degrees, I worked my entire adult life until I retired in 2008.  Throughout my career, I often worked long hours, sometimes as much as 16 hours a day … but I’m not one of the “productive parts of our economy”???  Today, my daughter works 12-14 hour days as a nurse, but according to McConnell, the rich bastard sheltering his assets offshore is a more productive part of our economy than she is?

President Biden guaranteed there would be no tax increase on anyone earning less than $400,000 per year.  In my wildest dreams, my most profitable year, I came nowhere close to making $400,000 per year, or even $100,000 per year.  Anyone making more than $400,000 per year ought to pay a higher tax rate!  Corporations profiting hand over fist ought to be paying their fair share.  And those millionaires and billionaires who have long enjoyed paying accountants to create tax shelters and loopholes rather than pay their fair share in taxes ought to have to make amends!  For years, the wealthy and the corporations they own have paid a smaller percentage in taxes than the average working stiff.

The backbone of our economy is the people who produce the goods and services, and they already pay more than their fair share in taxes.  They are the productive parts of our economy.  NEVER forget that, Mitch McConnell!


And in other Mitchie-related news …

I wrote in August 2019 about the New York Times venture into history in the 1619 Project

… a worthy project …

The 1619 Project is a major initiative from The New York Times observing the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.

I haven’t spent as much time as I had hoped reviewing the project, but everything I’ve seen of it has been absolutely excellent … a factual, honest view of our history.  But yesterday we learned that Mitch McConnell sent a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona asking him to abandon the factual recounting of the true beginnings of the United States as perpetuated by such as the 1619 Project.  McConnell calls this “revisionist history”!  WHAT, Mitchie … do you think your friggin’ ancestors didn’t own slaves, beat them with whips, and sell their children to the highest bidder?  Do you think that is all a myth?  Do you think that Black people were brought here on tourist cruise boats and made to feel welcome at the Ritz-Carlton???

McConnell claims these programs such as the 1619 Project “re-orient” the view of American History “away from their intended purposes toward a politicized and divisive agenda.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

In fairness, Mitch makes a valid point near the beginning of his letter …

“A 2020 survey found that only 51% of Americans can name the three branches of our federal government. A 2019 study found that majorities of Americans in 49 states and the District of Columbia would earn an “F” on the U.S. Citizenship Exam. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress found that just 15% of American eighth-graders are “proficient” in U.S. history. School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic have almost certainly intensified these problems by triggering substantial learning losses, particularly for students from underserved backgrounds.”

He is right, our children are not being taught the things they need, and the former Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, added a heaping dose of ignorance to our education system.  But then he continues, putting down the administration’s proposal to update American history curricula to more fully flesh out the consequences of slavery and contributions of Black Americans.

The most ludicrous statement in Mitch’s letter is …

“Americans do not need or want their tax dollars diverted from promoting the principles that unite our nation toward promoting radical ideologies meant to divide us.”

Say WHAT???  I cannot speak for everyone in this country, but for my part I want our children to be taught truth – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Facts, man, just the facts.  Fact:  the United States was a slave-owning nation from 1619 until 1865 … nearly 250 years!  Fact:  even today, in the 21st century, Black people are still fighting for equality, to be treated as equals.  Children need to learn all of the history of their nation, not just the rosier parts.  In the words of Winston Churchill …

“Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

The U.S. has some very ugly things and dark periods in its history, along with some wonderful, bright moments.  They are all part of our history, from slavery, the Japanese internments, turning away the St. Louis, the white man’s treatment of the original people who were here long before Europeans came.  The United States is no worse, no better than most Western nations and we must remember both the good and the bad.

If the civil rights legislation that was passed in the 1960s were put forth today, no doubt Mitch McConnell would filibuster and ensure it didn’t pass.  Perhaps it is Mitch that needs to be educated.

Racist Country

I don’t know about you guys, but I was NOT impressed with Senator Tim Scott’s speech on Wednesday night. He claims this is not a racist nation, but I see the evidence that it IS every day. Clay Jones of Claytoonz fame has done a sadly apt ‘toon and commentary on the subject … Thank you, Clay!

claytoonz

Cjones05022021

Republican Senator Tim Scott was chosen to deliver his party’s response to President Joe Biden’s address to Congress. In his speech, Scott said, “Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country. It’s backwards to fight discrimination with different types of discrimination. And it’s wrong to try to use our painful past to dishonestly shut down debates in the present.”

Republicans, who struggle with race, rallied around this message in hopes that we can finally stop talking about race so they’ll be left alone to create racist legislation.

If America is not a racist country, at the very least, the Republican Party is a racist party. Proof of this is they chose their one black senator to deliver the message that they’re not racist. It’s not like they said, “Hmmmm….which one of our many black members should we choose to deliver this address?” And to be a successful black Republican…

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