World That Once Was … Redux

I wrote this post over a year ago, but I think it is as relevant today as it was a year ago, and with the environment being top news this week, it seems a good time to ‘re-play’ it.  


I was sitting dozing before the fire when my two great grandchildren rushed into the room …

“Grannie, Grannie … we’re bored!  Will you tell us some stories?  Will you tell us about the cabin in the woods?”

“Yeah, an’ Grannie … will you tell us again ‘bout how you used to play outside … an’ how there was grass an’ you could even see the sky?  Please, Grannie, please?”

Now, I know their mother would not wish me to fill their heads with what once was and can never be again, but … it is all I have left to give them … the world that once was.  And so, I make room for one of them on either side of me, and I begin …

Well, you see, when I was a little girl, so many years ago, I would wake up on Saturday morning, do the few chores assigned to me, and then run outside to play with my friends.  Sometimes we played football in the street, sometimes we rode bicycles, and other days we went out in search of caterpillars that we would keep in canning jars with holes poked in the lids and some grass and water in the bottom.  And then we would wait for them to turn into beautiful butterflies.

“An’ you didn’t even have to wear an oxygen mask to go outside, Grannie?”

“What’s a butterfly?”

No, child, we didn’t need to wear oxygen masks to go outside back then, for the air was fresh and clear, and you could look up and see how blue the sky was … not like today when all you see is murky yellow air.  A butterfly, sweetie … well here … let me draw you a picture …butterfly

They aren’t around anymore … I guess they couldn’t survive in the bad air. We would play outside all day, sit in the grass to eat our sandwiches, and when night fell, we caught lightning bugs.  They aren’t around anymore either, but they were little bugs that had some chemical at the tail end of their body, and as they flew, they lit up a pale yellow or green colour.  It was how they ‘talked’ to the other lightning bugs. When I was a young girl, sometimes there would be hundreds of them in the yard, all lighting up at once.  Oh, it was quite a sight to see and I always looked forward to their arrival in summer.

“What about the parks, Grannie?  Tell us ‘bout the parks … pleeeeease!”

Oh yes, the parks.  Sigh.  Back then, we had national parks … hundreds, maybe even thousands of acres of forests with streams where the water was so clear you could see the fish swimming and the rocks in the very bottom.  And nobody could build a business or a factory or even houses in the national parks, because they were protected land.  The government protected them so that the critters that lived in them could live in safety and so that we would always have beautiful natural land to visit.

“What kind of critters lived there, Grannie?”

Well, it depended on where the park was, but most were home to deer, elk, snakes, squirrels, bears, wolves, coyote, birds and many others.

“Why did the parks go away, Grannie?  Didn’t people want them anymore?”

“What happened to the animals?”

Well, child, I think that most of us wanted the parks, we appreciated them and loved being away from the cities, just enjoying the beauty of nature.  But, there were some people who thought it was more important to use that land to drill for oil and gas, and to build hotels and factories, and the government gave in to the wishes of those people without listening to the rest of us.

“Why?”

Because those people who wanted to get rid of the parks had more money than the rest of us, and people with more money … well, they always get their way.  Now as to what happened to the animals … some of them were taken to other places, but as a rule they didn’t adapt well to their new environments and … well, they … just … died.

“Grannie … why are you crying?  Are you sad because the animals died?”

Oh, child … yes, I am very sad because the animals died, but I’m also sad because … well, because the whole life I once knew has died.  I remember running through open fields, watering flowers and letting a big bumblebee land on my nose.  I remember hiking in the woods with my friend Herb, how green the foliage was, how tall the trees, how clear the water in the streams.  And I am sad, for all of that is gone now.  Did I ever tell you about the great redwood trees on the west coast?  Why, those trees … some were so wide that they even made a road right through the center of the tree!!!  And they got so tall that you could barely see the top … sometimes as tall  as almost 400 feet!!!  I saw them plenty of times when I was a girl, but they were always a sight to behold.

“What happened to the redwoods trees, Gran?”

Well, mostly I think they were chopped down, but I hear the ones that were left just died for lack of oxygen.  They can’t put oxygen masks on trees like they can people, you know.  Same reason there’s no grass left in people’s yards … living things need clean air to breathe, even plants.  I’m tired now, children, and it makes me too sad to remember how life used to be.  Tell you what … bring that book about the bears that you like so much and I’ll read to you.

“Grannie … how come you never go to church with us?”

Because, child, I don’t believe in any of that nonsense they tell there about how some people are better than others because of the colour of their skin or who they choose to love.  It’s a waste of time that I can spend doing better things.

“But mommy says you’re gonna get in trouble with the law and have to go to jail if you don’t go to church …”

Hush child … it matters not anymore … now go get that book like I told you.trees-2.jpg

You May Have Missed This One …

Did you all know there was another mass shooting in the U.S. on Saturday morning?  It happened in Lancaster, South Carolina at a sports bar – 2 people were killed, and 8 others injured.  There was no “breaking news” update on my phone, I saw nothing in the usual places about it, and even once I saw brief mention of it on the Associated Press (AP) website and went in search of further information, I found the story only in the back pages of the New York Times and Time magazine.  Nowhere else.  Why?

Is it because only two people were killed?  Because it took place in a bar?  Because it was South Carolina?  Or because we are becoming so inured to the news of mass shootings that this wasn’t really considered by the editors to be ‘big news’?  Or … more ominous still, was it suppressed intentionally?  I don’t know the answer, and I’m not trying to put forth some conspiracy theory, but folks … 10 people were shot!  Why was this not ‘breaking news’???

A clue to why this wasn’t national news may lie with the statement by Lancaster Country Sheriff Barry Faile …

“This was a violent incident of huge magnitude that was witnessed by lots of people.  We don’t think this was a situation where a random person armed himself and went into a randomly selected location and shot a bunch of unknown people.”

Apparently, the sheriff believes that the shooting was the result of a local conflict.  While he declined to discuss the nature of the dispute, he said that one of those killed had been involved in the conflict, which had been going on for a couple of months.  He also said that neither the victim involved in the dispute nor the person officials were seeking as the gunman were legally allowed to have guns, both having been previously convicted on firearms charges.

So, because it was rather a Hatfield vs McCoys situation in the rural south, it’s not newsworthy?  It’s still a mass shooting with people dead and injured because … because … well, guns. I guess that since it wasn’t widely reported, the NRA and our elected lawmakers didn’t feel they needed to bother to even send their ‘thoughts and prayers’ … it’s the weekend, after all … they obviously have more important things to do, like playing golf or watching sports on television than to be bothered that people are losing their lives.

This summer, we heard about El Paso, Dayton, and Odessa … they were big news, for a few days anyway.  But did you realize that between Memorial Day in May, and Labour Day in September, there were 26 mass shootings in 18 states, leaving 126 people dead?  More than half of the mass killing suspects this summer had a family or romantic tie to at least one victim. Among them: A teenager in Alabama accused of killing five relatives, a father in Iowa who killed his wife and two school-aged sons, a man in Oklahoma charged with killing his wife and stepchildren.

A variety of scenarios and motives.  The common denominator?  A gun.  Time and time and time again we hear the tired old NRA motto that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”.  True, but people use guns to kill people.  Sure, people also use knives and fists to kill people, but a gun does it so much quicker and more efficiently.  You stand a good chance of outrunning or outmaneuvering a man with a knife, but you cannot outrun a gun.  Make no mistake … contrary to what those gun lovers will tell you, a gun has one purpose and only one purpose:  to kill.

While several of the summer’s 26 mass shootings dominated national headlines, others — like a triple homicide in rural Pennsylvania — received little attention beyond where they happened.  WHY???  Is this nation becoming so numb to the daily toll of gun violence that it is no longer considered newsworthy unless it happens in the public eye? Or is it possible that the ‘free press’ is not as free as we believe?

With each mass shooting that did receive national media attention, the public outcry grew louder and louder.  When Ohio’s governor spoke at a vigil in August, Dayton residents drowned him out with shouts of “Do something!”  Imagine if every mass shooting had been headline news … how loud might the public be screaming for gun laws today?  Instead, most are swept under the carpet …

Think about it.

Today’s ‘Toons!!!

The cartoonists have been working overtime ever since Trump took the Oath of Office (an oath he never understood nor intended to keep) on 20 January 2017.  I have to hand it to them, they do one heck of a job!  I wish I had their talent.  Let’s take a look at a few of this week’s toons.


With the Global Climate Strike yesterday, and the United Nations’ Youth Climate Summit today, and the UN Climate Action Summit on Monday, needless to say climate change is on everyone’s mind this week.  The U.S., specifically Donald Trump, is working hard to add fuel to the fires of the global climate crisis by rolling back environmental regulations, trashing the Clean Water Act, and attempting to forbid states from enacting their own, stricter emissions standards.  To add insult to injury, while world leaders from around the globe travel to New York for the UN Summit on Monday, Trump has announced that he will be too busy at some religious conference to attend the Climate Summit.  So it is only right and proper that the cartoonists have made the U.S. and Trump the brunt of their humour.

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It’s been just three weeks since the last mass shooting in the U.S., and the subject of gun regulations is never far from most of our minds.  We the People (at least the sane majority of  us) have been calling for gun legislation for … forever, I think.  Expanded background checks and a ban on assault weapons is a good place to start, but when you mention either of those, the gun nuts in this country go so crazy that you’d think we were asking them to give up their wife and kids.  Well, actually I think some of them would give up their wife and kids with less argument than they would give up their guns!

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Ol’ Brett Kavanaugh, the only person I’ve ever seen who can make even uglier facial expressions than Donald Trump, is back in the news this week, as a new book, The Education of Brett Kavanaugh:  An Investigaton, by two New York Times reporters, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly, was released on Tuesday.  The two reporters covered Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and they say that the “foundational mission” of the book was not just to learn more about the allegations against Kavanaugh but to get “a much better context for who he was as a person and what his educational years and career were like, and who is the man who has been portrayed in these two starkly polarized ways.”  I haven’t read it, and am not sure that I can stomach reading an entire book about such a horrible excuse for a human.

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Recently, Ivanka was asked what she had gotten from her parents, and she said that from her father she got her moral compass!  🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

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You’ll remember Trump’s juvenile antics, re-drawing the path of Hurricane Dorian on an official map, with a Sharpie?  When you do something that bloomin’ stupid, you gotta expect it to catch the eye of the cartoonists for quite a while …

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Lies.  Trump lies.  Most every time he opens his mouth, he lies.  Need I say more?

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And I end with just a bit of humour at the expense of former White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer.  Sean-Spicer


Have a nice weekend!

 

Open Letter To Congress …

Dear Congressperson …

Yesterday was a day that will live on in history.  In more than 150 nations, over 4 million people (and counting) turned out in thousands of cities and towns around the globe to raise awareness and to demand action from governments.  Their words, “You had a future and so should we”, and “We vote next”, should have opened your eyes, but somehow, I sense that you are wearing blinders and did not see their banners, and have ears stuffed with cotton and did not hear their chants.

My purpose in writing this letter is to put you on notice that you are marching to the beat of the wrong drummer.  You are putting your own interests, and those of such large corporations as the fossil fuel, logging, and auto industries ahead of the well-being of not only your constituents, but all life on the planet.  Those aforementioned industries, as well as the gun lobby, may put money into your re-election campaigns, but they are not the ones who pay your salary, and they are not the majority whose votes will determine your future on November 3rd, 2020.

Make no mistake … there is a genuine climate emergency happening right under your very nose.  You know it’s true … all you have to do is listen to the scientists who, frankly, are much better educated in the subject than you.  All you have to do is check the weather for the past nine months to see that 2019 has been the hottest year on record.  Ever.  You have no excuse for saying that climate change isn’t real, that it isn’t caused by human activities.  All you have to do is read how many bees and birds have been lost in the past decade.  How many species are either extinct or bordering on extinction.

Rather than act to preserve life on earth, you sit back on your thumbs and allow a madman in the Oval Office to repeal environmental regulations that were never enough but were at least a start.  You allow him to make our air much dirtier, our water less safe, and our entire world a much uglier place.  And all for what?  How much benefit do you think you’ll get from those few hundred thousand dollars that are being added to your coffers when your children cannot even go outside to play because the air is not breathable?

Of the 192 nations on the globe, 190 are actively trying to change the way they do things in order to fix what the industrialized nations have broken – our environment.  All except the United States and Brazil are at least making an effort.  How does that make you feel?  Do you feel proud?  Believe me when I say that the majority of people in this nation look at you and see a person who has sold us downriver to line his own pockets.

Now, let me give you something to ponder on as you lie in bed tonight trying to sleep.  If every other nation is putting their efforts into replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in order to save lives, and we are not, how long do you think it will be before they collectively take action against the U.S.?  Think about it this way … you live in a neighborhood where everyone takes good care of their property … lawns are neatly manicured, sidewalks are swept, no trash or litter is lying around.  But, there is one family who just doesn’t take care at all of their property.  There is trash all over their yard, and every time the wind blows, their trash is blown into your yard and every other.  How long before you and your neighbors take action against this one family?  Not long, I’m betting.

Whether you like it or not, we live in an age of globalization. Every nation is in some form or fashion dependent on the others.  Technology has made it so, and there is no turning back.  There are at least a few nations that have the ability, should they choose to use it, to shut down the U.S. power grid today … tomorrow … or the next day.  I hear you saying that we have the technology to stop such an attack, but do we really?  Congressman … we couldn’t stop Russia from hacking the 2016 election, so how great do you really think our security systems are?  I’m guessing not all that great.

The U.S. Constitution provided a system of ‘checks and balances’ with the intention of keeping any one branch of government from gaining so much power that they would pose a danger to the democratic principles of this nation.  Those checks and balances, however, only work when everybody does their job, when Congress actively provides oversight of the executive branch, the president.  YOU ARE NOT DOING YOUR JOB!!!  You are taking a salary that millions of people work their asses off every day to provide you, and in return you are giving us nothing!

Protecting and repairing the environment is the single most important issue facing this nation and the world today, and you are playing Russian Roulette with it, with our lives.  Frankly, your ridiculous crypto currency, your pet projects, even the economy … none of them matter one whit if we don’t address the climate crisis and NOW.  Not next year, or a decade from now … TODAY!

As a citizen and taxpayer, I am determined to do everything in my power, little though that may be, to make the public aware of just how little you are doing, how little regard you have for our lives, in hopes that you will be replaced with someone who actually cares more for life than profit next year.  I find much of this entire Congress to be a sorry lot indeed, especially those of you in the pockets of the fossil fuel industry and the NRA.  You allow the person whose fat arse is sitting in the Oval Office to bully you, and you cower under his wrath.  At what cost?  The cost of all life on earth.

Be afraid, Congressman … be very afraid, for those of us who care more about life than profit are the majority and we are energized, we are sick and damn tired of paying you to further your own interests instead of looking after ours.

Global Climate Strike Is Today!

Today is The Day.  Thousands of people, young and old, have taken to the streets to make their message heard.  The message?  SAVE OUR PLANET! 

climate-1In Melbourne, Australia, 100,000 protested in what was the largest climate action in Australia’s history.  Banners in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, ranged from serious to humorous. One read, “Climate Emergency Now.” Another said, “This planet is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend.” In Mumbai, children in oversize raincoats marched in the rain. Thousands turned out in Warsaw, the capital of coal-reliant Poland.climate-3Roughly 100,000 demonstrators showed around the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, holding signs reading: “Stop the Global Pyromania,” “Short-Haul Flights Only for Insects,” and “Make the World Greta Again.” Across Britain, there were large protests from Brighton to Edinburgh. The turnout in London especially large, with organizers estimating more than 100,000 participants.climate-2In the U.S., largest emitter of carbon dioxide per capita in the world, and the country whose government is doing the least of any to help stop the devastation brought about by climate change, protests are planned in every city.  As I write this, it is too early yet to know how many people took the day off school and work to make their voices heard, but I believe it will be many and their voices will be heard loud and clear.cliimate-4Possibly the biggest ‘mover and shaker’ in the area of addressing climate change is a 16-year-old young woman from Sweden about whom I’ve written a number of times before, Greta Thunberg.  It was Greta who inspired the Fridays for Future movement — kids who have been skipping school every Friday to demand more aggressive steps from world leaders.climate-5Today, I share with you this video by Greta and British writer and environmentalist, George Monbiot.  Please take a few minutes to watch … I promise it will be worth your time!

 

Da Snippets, Dey Be Snarky

Puff … puff … I don’t know about you guys … puff … pant … but I’m tired.  Tired of the non-stop ‘breaking news’ updates, about half of which are “pbth … who cares?”, but the other half of which are foot-stomping, growling, jaw-dropping episodes in the ongoing saga of “Fool on the Hill”.  Please … somebody … anybody … rescue me and carry me off to a desert island where nobody has ever heard the name “Trump”!  I’m tired of all the time being snarky!  I’m tired of having my blood pressure go through the ceiling before I’m even out of bed in the morning!  I’m tired of … I’m just tired.  Sigh.  Meanwhile, though, there are more things you guys need to know about, so … Filosofa will now pick herself up from the floor, dry her eyes, and … snark on.snarky-4


Nothing to see here, folks …

You all remember when Mike Pence visited Ireland earlier this month, right?  And, he could have stayed in Dublin, the city where his meetings were to be held, but instead, he traveled (at our expense, lest anyone forget) to Doonbeg, some 180 miles away (one way), in order to stay at Trump International Golf Links & Hotel.  Why?  Because Trump had ‘suggested’ it and because Mike Pence has not the cojones to stand up to Trump.  The price?

Doonbeg is in County Clare on the west coast of Ireland, nearly a four-hour drive from most of Pence’s scheduled meetings in Dublin. According to an analysis by the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Pence’s stay cost taxpayers $599,454.36 in limousine service alone.  I have no idea, and cannot find information about how much the hotel bill for Pence, his wife, and his Secret Service entourage was, but the starting rate there for a single room is $228, so … he and Karen no doubt slept and ate well there.

Ol’ Mikey justified it all, though …

Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says the president receives a salary while in office but “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.”  Before taking office, Trump promised he would step away from his business while in office. Instead, however, he has kept his stake in his companies. So expenditures of public funds like Pence’s stay at Doonbeg directly line Trump’s pockets.

Not only that, but Pence has made more than 20 such visits to Trump properties since taking office. So has Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has made 16 visits to Trump properties.  According to Senator Gary Peters, the ranking member of the Senate’s Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee …

“Reports now claim that at least 24 of the 32 individuals who have served in the President’s Cabinet have patronized Trump properties, including the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. — another property owned by the President.”

But guess what?  Trump’s republican “guardian angels” are trying to block the investigation by the House Oversight Committee, calling it a “partisan attack”.  According to a letter sent to committee chairman Elijah Cummings by Representatives Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows, both members of the ignoble House “Freedom” Caucus …

“Although you coordinated your attack with Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, you failed to consult with any Republican Members before demanding voluminous information from four separate entities – none of which bore responsibility for the lodging and accommodations in Ireland. We can only assume that these letters were the result of a rushed process to capitalize on news reporting about the Ireland travel, rather than responsible and deliberative oversight.”

Yep … nothing to see here, folks … only millions, perhaps billions of your taxpayer dollars being filtered directly into Trump’s coffers … move along now.


But there is some good news …


Somebody in the Pentagon has some sense …

Last month, the Pentagon authorized about 20 miles of fencing, lighting and other border infrastructure along the southern border that would have used $2.5 billion in funds redirected from a counter-drug fund.  But on Monday, the Department of Defense announced that it would not be able to cover the costs of the project after all.  Initially, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that it would likely be able to afford the projects using the counter-drug funds, but the Army Corps ultimately advised the department that the funds would not cover the project, prompting its withdrawal on September 13th.

The projects were a part of Trump’s plan to divert Pentagon funds to build the wall he so needs to appease his base, even though said wall would do absolutely nothing to resolve the problem of immigration, would cause irreparable damage to the land and wildlife, and deprive people of their land.  It is merely an ego trip for Trump.  No word, that I can find, of Trump’s reaction to this news.


No more AR-15s?  Er … not quite

U.S. firearms manufacturer Colt announced yesterday that it will stop production of rifles for the civilian market — including the AR-15, a weapon infamous for its popularity among the country’s mass shooters.  Their stated reason?  That the market is saturated, that there are already more of their rifles on the market than people can buy.

Why is Filosofa such an untrusting soul?  Why do I not for a single minute believe them?  Because it is Colt, because they are the makers of firearms, their livelihood is dependent on people wanting to kill other people, and that hasn’t slowed down one whit in recent years.  So, what do I think (just in case anybody cares)?

I think that in light of the fact that the AR-15s have been receiving much publicity, having been used in several mass shootings recently, including Newtown, Orlando, Parkland, Aurora, Las Vegas, and Dayton, they are getting out before they get hit with lawsuits.

A bit of background here. In 2005, Congress passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), which provides immunity in both state and federal court from civil liability for licensed manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms, as well as their trade associations, in most negligence and product liability actions.  So, gun manufacturers and sellers have had free reign with no possibility of being held accountable for damage caused by their product.  But this year, democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act, which would allow civil cases to go forward against irresponsible actors in state and federal courts, just as they would if they involved any other product.

Now, we all know that the bill might pass in the House, but not likely in the Senate, and even if by some rare alignment of the stars it passes in the Senate, the Idiot-in-Chief would veto it.  However, there is a good possibility that in 16 months, there will be a democratic majority in the Senate, and a democrat sitting in the Oval Office, under which circumstances, it is probable that this bill, or a similar one will pass into law.  It is my belief that Colt sees the handwriting on the wall and is getting out while they can.  I could be wrong, and likely we will never know for sure if that is their reason.

So, is this good news?  Meh … yes and no.  Other arms manufacturers continue to produce the AR-15 and other assault rifles, including Palmetto State Armory and Smith and Wesson.  The better news is that companies like Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods have discontinued sales of these killing machines and their ammunition.  The even better news will be when and if the Equal Access to Justice for Victims of Gun Violence Act passes into law.  And the best news yet would be a total and permanent ban on all assault-style weapons outside the military and law enforcement.  Some say it’ll never happen … I think it might, but it will take time.


And now, I return you to seek cheerier blogs than mine!

Only in America

It’s September, and you know what that means!  Shorter days, cooler temperatures, the leaves on the trees starting to turn from green to vibrant gold, purple and red.  Pumpkins and apples, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and … oh yes, those big yellow buses once again rumbling down the street – back to school! school-bus.pngYou won’t see a back-to-school ad like this in France, Germany, or the UK.  You won’t even see an ad like this in Syria or Afghanistan.  Only in America would you would ever see an advertisement like this one.

That was a Public Service Announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Raw, jaw-dropping, disturbing?  Yeah, it was meant to be.  Only in America.  What a claim to fame, eh?

This morning, I watched the neighborhood kids walking down the street, backpacks slung over their shoulders, heading to the corner to await the big yellow bus.  I was thinking, as I watched, that I hope they all make it home safe and sound today.  Only in America.

We do everything possible to make sure our kids are safe from the day they are born.  We spend hundreds of dollars on the best car seat to protect them in case of a crash. We spend even more on monitoring systems so that we can listen for the slightest aberration in their breathing while they sleep.  We sterilize their bottles and insist on only the purest ingredients in their food.  We buy them helmets and other safety equipment to protect them in the event of a fall from a bicycle or skateboard.  But the one thing the citizens of this nation refuse to do to protect their children is to demand Congress pass laws to limit guns in the hands of unqualified civilians.

I’ve often wondered, if Mitch McConnell’s grandchild were the victim of a school shooter, would he then be willing to talk about gun legislation?

Only in the U.S. will you find these …backpacksYep … kid-themed bullet-proof backpacks.  Wow, huh?  According to a CBS News report …

“Demand for bulletproof and bullet-resistant backpacks and related products are soaring this back-to-school season amid growing fear about mass shooters.”

Of course, they are only useful if the child is shot in the back and if he happens to be wearing his backpack at the time he is shot.  What next?  Full body armour and bullet-proof helmets?  Only in America.

Nearly a quarter of a million children have been affected by gun violence in their schools since Columbine in 1999.  Think about that one for a minute.  And we’re not talking about New York City, Houston, or Los Angeles, folks!  We’re talking about Newtown, Connecticut, population 27,560.  We’re talking about Parkland, Florida, population 32,202.  Columbine, Colorado, population 24,280.  The madness isn’t just in the cities … it has come right to a neighborhood near you.  Or, maybe it has come to your neighborhood.

school-shootingsThe NRA and our own lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers is the solution … more guns.  But we all know it isn’t.  Guns don’t belong in schools.  Period.  Not in the hands of teachers, and for damn sure not in the hands of students.  Only in America would such a ludicrous proposal even be considered.

The only answer is serious gun regulation.  You know it and I know it.  Our legislators know it, but their children are safe, they go to posh private schools with the latest technology to protect their children, and thus their interests lie in lining their pockets with donations from the gun industry.  What does it matter if a few of our children die?  Only in America.

Think of your children, your grandchildren, the kid down the street who brought you a handful of wilting wildflowers last week “just because”.  I think the video by Sandy Hook Promise should be required watching for every single lawmaker in this country.  Let them think how they would feel if that little girl in the bathroom at the end were their own child.  Only in America.

Are You Tired Of Snarky Snippets Yet?

I have a few in-depth pieces I’m trying to work on, but lately all these little things keep cropping up that aren’t quite enough to fill an entire post, but that are important.  If Donnie could just be locked away for a day or two, perhaps in a subterranean storeroom under the White House, then the news cycle might slow down enough for me to catch  my breath!


Donnie didn’t get his way this time …

As we’ve heard ad nauseam for the past week or so, Donald Trump has told Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that he wants him to cut the interest rates … “to zero or below”.  To do so would be extremely foolish, but then … look who’s asking.

Yesterday, Mr. Powell announced a 0.25% cut in the interest rate, bringing it to between 1.75% and 2%.  A good portion of the members of the central bank’s rate-setting committee felt the move was unnecessary.  I am not an economist, nor do I pretend to be, but based on my understanding, I agree that it was unnecessary and likely would not have been made were it not for Trump’s bullying.  But, is Trump satisfied?

Of course not!

“Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve Fail Again. No ‘guts,’ no sense, no vision! A terrible communicator!”

Ahhhh … such professionalism, eh?  Now, if another person in the Trump administration displeased him so, that person would likely be packing up their desk today, but fortunately in the case of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, ol’ Trumpie cannot just yell, “You’re Fired!”  Of course, he may not yet realize that, for back in June, when he was annoyed with Powell for the same reason, he said …

“I have the right to demote him. I have the right to fire him.”

Not quite true.  The Chairman can be fired only ‘for cause’, according to the Federal Reserve Act.  Historically the courts have not interpreted that to include policy differences.  Now, Trump could demote Powell if he so chose, but again, it would likely end up in a court battle that would almost certainly have an impact on the stability of the economy.  I applaud Mr. Powell for having the courage to stand up to the bully in the Oval Office and for doing what he believes to be the proper thing.


A ‘credible and urgent threat’ – but WHAT???

On Monday, The Washington Post reported that last month Trump had some interaction by phone with some foreign leader and promised that foreign leader something. Vague enough for you?  Whatever it was he promised to whomever he promised it set off alarms for at least one official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community on August 12th.

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson reviewed the complaint and determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that ordinarily requires notification of congressional oversight committees.  But … acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers.

Last week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff subpoenaed Maguire for the complaint, accusing him of violating whistleblower law by failing to have notified the committee.  In his letter to Maguire, Schiff wrote …

“The committee — and the American people — must know why, in violation of law, a whistleblower complaint is being concealed, whether the underlying conduct involves the president or those around him, and whether the White House is involved in trying to cover up this authorized disclosure.”

To add insult to injury, Maguire consulted with the Department of Justice, ie., Trump’s main boot-licker William Barr, which is, at the very least, unorthodox, and leads to questions as to whether there is an attempt to cover for some wrongdoing by Trump.

Atkinson is scheduled to appear at a closed hearing of the Intelligence Committee on Thursday morning and Maguire has agreed to testify before the panel in open session a week later.  This whole thing is troubling, folks.  Obviously, Donald Trump has promised some foreign leader … Putin?  MbS?  Kim? … something that is very troublesome, and people are going to great lengths to keep it from being properly investigated or made public.  This is NOT how our government is supposed to operate.  Trump has declared himself to be above the law, and this is yet further proof that there are those in our government who are willing to sacrifice their integrity to allow it.  Stay tuned …


Is it Sean, or a giant chicken???

And, because I think you guys need a bit of humour, I share with you this short clip of none other than former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in his debut on Dancing with the Stars.  I’m not sure, but I think that’s a fluffy chicken costume he’s wearing!

Constitution Day???

Yesterday, September 17th, was Constitution Day, a U.S. federal observance that recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution. It is observed on September 17, the day in 1787 that delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

The Constitution has served this nation well for 232 years, however its future is in jeopardy today, its fate in the hands of the last person to take the presidential oath of office.  The last one to swear to “uphold” the Constitution, has trampled it almost beyond recognition.  I came across an OpEd in The Week that makes the case as well as, if not better than I could.

Happy Constitution Day to King Trump

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Happy Constitution Day! Or, if you’re President Trump, Happy Thing You Haven’t Read Day!

During the Obama presidency, conservatives fancied themselves “constitutionalists.” In 2011, members of Congress read the Constitution in its entirety on the floor of the House of Representatives, something that Congress had never done before. Rep. Michele Bachman (R-Minn.) said this proved that Republicans were “serious about respecting the Constitution.”

Indeed, Republicans were so serious about respecting the Constitution that some of them questioned whether President Obama had violated Article II, Section 1, which requires the president to have been born in the United States. Donald Trump was one of them.

Republican adherence to the Constitution evaporated as soon as Trump took office. No president in modern American history has displayed more contempt for — and ignorance of — the Constitution than Trump has.

Trump said that Article II of the Constitution gives him “the right to do whatever I want,” which is incorrect. He said he admires Article XII, which doesn’t exist. As Jonah Goldberg said, “Every time you hear him talk about the Constitution, it’s like he’s trying to remember his high-school French.”

Of the 27 Amendments to the Constitution, Trump has spoken contemptuously of at least 10. His least favorite is the first. Before becoming president, Trump promised “to open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” By “they” he meant “anyone who isn’t nice to me.”

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said in 2017. “And people should look into it.”

In July, Trump accused Google, Facebook, and Twitter of “discriminating against conservatives” and promised to use “all regulatory and legislative solutions” against them. In August, he complained that Fox News wasn’t “working” for him. Trump has more respect for his ex-wives than he does for freedom of the press.

He isn’t even a reliable advocate of the Second Amendment. In February 2018, Trump advocated illegal gun seizures. “I like taking guns away early,” he said. “Take the guns first, go through due process second.” Insofar as he defends the Second Amendment, he defends only the second half of it. Like the NRA, he has no interest in “A well regulated Militia,” which, of course, would entail regulations on guns.

Trump called the Fifth Amendment “horrible” and “disgraceful.”

Trump supports cruel and unusual punishment (proscribed by the Eighth Amendment), unless he is the recipient. He implored police officers to beat up suspects and suggested that drug dealers be given the death penalty.

He opposes birthright citizenship, which is guaranteed under the 14th Amendment. “So-called Birthright Citizenship, which costs our Country billions of dollars and is very unfair to our citizens, will be ended one way or the other,” he tweeted.

Trump really, really dislikes the 22nd Amendment, which limits a president to two terms. Last year, he expressed interest in being “president for life.” He recently said he’d leave office in “maybe 10 or 14” years.

As for the 25th Amendment, which provides for the removal of a president if he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office,” Trump quoted Alan Dershowitz: “Trying to use the 25th Amendment to try and circumvent the Election is a despicable act of unconstitutional power grabbing.” According to this view, using the Constitution to remove Trump from office is unconstitutional.

“In Republican government,” James Madison said, “the legislative authority necessarily predominates.” Trump disagrees. As New York’s Josh Barro observed, Trump views congressional Republicans as his employees. Some congressional Republicans view themselves that way, too. A Republican congressman said that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Cal.) “works for” and “answers to” Trump.

Trump’s anti-constitutionalism runs through his party. Forty-three percent of Republicans think Trump “should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” In 2017, 52 percent of Republicans said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump told them to.

There’s a good chance that many of these people call themselves “constitutional conservatives.” They revere the Constitution in the abstract, in much the same way they cherish the flag, the national anthem, and the pledge of allegiance. To them it is a symbol, not a mechanism for governance.

In 2016, the Republican governor of Maine reckoned that America needed “Donald Trump to show some authoritarian power in our country and bring back the rule of law.” This made no sense, of course. Defying the rule of law is no way to bring it back.

Trumpism and constitutionalism are incompatible. The former entails the concentration of power in a single individual. The latter entails the dispU.ersion of it.

Trump took an oath to uphold the Constitution and to see that the laws be faithfully executed. Yet he reportedly promised pardons to aides who knowingly broke the law to build his much-hyped border wall.

In 2015, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) wrote the foreword to a book called Lawless: The Obama Administration’s Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law. I hope he writes a follow-up about the Trump administration.

You CAN’T Do This, Donald Trump!!!

I was just getting ready to fold a load of clothes when the ‘Breaking News’ came across with this headline:

Trump administration to revoke California’s power to set stricter auto emissions standards

NO … No No No No No!  This is not right!  I was so furious that I nearly shredded poor Miss Goose’s favourite shirt as I was folding it.  Just who in hell does this ‘man’ think he is?  He is not the king, nor is he the dictator … at least not yet!

For decades, California has had stricter emission standards, has been a frontrunner in trying to protect life on earth.  Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have vowed to adopt California’s standards if they diverge from the federal government’s, as have several major automakers.  But now, Donald F. Trump (yeah, I know it’s a ‘J’, but in my book he now has a new middle name) has decided that he and he alone can doom all life on earth, bring about our demise even sooner than was previously planned?

In July, California reached an agreement with four companies — Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW of North America — under which they pledged to produce fleets averaging nearly 50 mpg by model year 2026.  The deal upset Trump and his buddies in the oil industry, for it would, conceivably, cut down on the amount of fuel they could sell … never mind that it would make the air cleaner, healthier, more breathable, and perchance help cut down on the carbon emissions that are killing life on planet Earth!  By all means, the profits of companies like Exxon Mobil, and by extension Donald Trump, are far more important than our lives!

Congress has repeatedly reaffirmed California’s right to set its own emissions standards, and in 1977, lawmakers said other states could legally adopt California’s stricter car emissions standards.  Over time, emissions control strategies first adopted by California — catalytic converters, nitrous oxide regulations and “check engine” systems, to name a few — have become standard across the country. Over the decades, the EPA has repeatedly approved waivers for California under the Clean Air Act.  And now, along comes Donald Trump whose fortunes are obviously tied to the fossil fuel industry, and says we all have to spend more money and sacrifice our very lives to put money into the pockets of he and his rich cronies.

This simply cannot be allowed to continue.  We don’t have a president, we have a madman bent on destroying the earth as rapidly as possible.  Let us hope that there is broad intervention by both Congress and the Courts, and that Trump and his oil buddies will have their tiny hands slapped and removed from the cookie jar.  Someone, somehow, must prove to this sorry excuse for a president that he is NOT the dictator of the nation, and that his job is to ensure the safety and best interest of the people of this nation … not to try to destroy us all!pollution-2