The Death of Lady Liberty 🗽

Yesterday marked the 137th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.  Four years ago, I wrote this post.  At that time, we were in the throes of the former administration and immigrants were ‘personae non grata’ by the government.  I posited that we no longer deserved Lady Liberty, for we had failed to keep our promises.  Today, we have a different president, one who values ALL people, yet we still have a humanitarian crisis at our southern border.  There remains a large contingent of people in this country who would denigrate, expel, and even kill any who don’t look and think just like them.  As a nation, are we any better today, any more deserving of this statue that stands in New York Harbour than we were four years ago? 


One hundred and thirty-three years ago today, the Statue of Liberty came to our shores.  Lady Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America, arrived in some 200 cartons, in 350 pieces – rather like a puzzle to be put together.  She was reassembled and dedicated the next year and would become known around the world as an enduring symbol of freedom and democracy.

Perhaps we no longer deserve having her grace our harbour.  But first, a bit of history, courtesy of History.com

Intended to commemorate the American Revolution and a century of friendship between the U.S. and France, the statue was designed by French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi (who modeled it after his own mother), with assistance from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later developed the iconic tower in Paris bearing his name. The statue was initially scheduled to be finished by 1876, the 100th anniversary of America’s Declaration of Independence; however, fundraising efforts, which included auctions, a lottery and boxing matches, took longer than anticipated, both in Europe and the U.S., where the statue’s pedestal was to be financed and constructed. The statue alone cost the French an estimated $250,000 (more than $5.5 million in today’s money).

Finally completed in Paris in the summer of 1884, the statue, a robed female figure with an uplifted arm holding a torch, reached its new home on Bedloe’s Island in New York Harbor (between New York City and Hudson County, New Jersey) on June 17, 1885. After being reassembled, the 450,000-pound statue was officially dedicated on October 28, 1886, by President Cleveland, who said, “We will not forget that Liberty has here made her home; nor shall her chosen altar be neglected.” Standing more than 305 feet from the foundation of its pedestal to the top of its torch, the statue, dubbed “Liberty Enlightening the World” by Bartholdi, was taller than any structure in New York City at the time. The statue was originally copper-colored, but over the years it underwent a natural color-change process called patination that produced its current greenish-blue hue.

In 1892, Ellis Island, located near Bedloe’s Island (which in 1956 was renamed Liberty Island), opened as America’s chief immigration station, and for the next 62 years Lady Liberty, as the statue is nicknamed, stood watch over the more than 12 million immigrants who sailed into New York Harbor. In 1903, a plaque inscribed with a sonnet titled “The New Colossus” by American poet Emma Lazarus, written 20 years earlier for a pedestal fundraiser, was placed on an interior wall of the pedestal. Lazarus’ now-famous words, which include “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” became symbolic of America’s vision of itself as a land of opportunity for immigrants.

Some 60 years after President Calvin Coolidge designated the statue a national monument in 1924, it underwent a multi-million-dollar restoration (which included a new torch and gold leaf-covered flame) and was rededicated by President Ronald Reagan on July 4, 1986, in a lavish celebration. Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the statue was closed; its base, pedestal and observation deck re-opened in 2004, while its crown re-opened to the public on July 4, 2009. (For safety reasons, the torch has been closed to visitors since 1916, after an incident called the Black Tom explosions in which munitions-laden barges and railroad cars on the Jersey City, New Jersey, waterfront were blown up by German agents, causing damage to the nearby statue.)

Today, the Statue of Liberty is one of America’s most famous landmarks. Over the years, it has been the site of political rallies and protests (from suffragettes to anti-war activists), has been featured in numerous movies and countless photographs, and has received millions of visitors from around the globe.

The Statue of Liberty once stood for something, but today when I read those words … “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, I shake my head, for they are a great hypocrisy.  We no longer welcome immigrants, but rather abuse them, call them names, and take their children from them.  We are planning to spend tens of billions of dollars – enough money to feed those tired and poor for many days, weeks, perhaps even months or a year – to build a huge wall, the sole purpose of which will be to keep immigrants out.

Here is how we greet immigrants today …With the exception of the Indigenous People in this nation, we are all descended from immigrants, but as time and generations have passed, we have become an arrogant lot, believing that somehow we are entitled to more, to better than others.  We no longer welcome the “tired and poor”, but instead would choose, in the words of Donald Trump, “only the best and brightest”.  Huddled masses?  Oh no, throw them in jails and detention centers, humiliate them, berate them, beat them and even kill them.No, my fellow Americans, we no longer deserve the Statue of Liberty for we are no longer the ‘land of the free’, but rather the land of the wealthy.  Only the wealthy are welcome here.  If you or I were attempting to flee to the shores of the U.S. today, would we be welcomed and embraced? I think not, but then … I would not choose to come to this country today, either.

Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers who have dedicated their lives to being awesome dads!

They Are NOT Heroes

Suddenly I’m hearing Mike Pence, Bill Barr, Ivanka Trump, and others referred to as ‘heroes’.  I don’t see it that way at all.  At some point, they did step up to the plate and do their job for We the People, but for years before that, decades in the case of Ivanka, they failed.  Instead they licked the boots and played “yes-man”, enabling a lunatic who was intent on turning the United States into his own personal playground.  I am not alone in my view of these and other people, for yesterday Frank Bruni wrote of them in his column in the New York Times


Don’t Let Bill Barr and Ivanka Trump Visit the Reputation Laundromat

June 16, 2022

By Frank Bruni

The Jan. 6 committee’s televised hearings are many things: the coalescence of scattered revelations into a clearer, cleaner narrative; an unblinking appraisal of the madness of King Donald; an opportunity for Americans to reflect on how close things came, and might yet come, to falling apart.

But for Bill Barr, Bill Stepien, Ivanka Trump and others, they are also something else — something we should not be taken in by.

They are a trip to the reputation laundromat (or perhaps, for this crowd, the reputation dry cleaner). Donald Trump’s onetime acolytes are trying to expunge the stain of their sycophancy. And they’re betting that in a country and era of fickle attention spans and feeble memories, they’ll have more luck with that spot than Lady Macbeth did with hers.

Early this week, the committee showed testimony by Barr, the former attorney general, that he told Trump again and again that Joe Biden had won the 2020 election fairly and definitively. It showed testimony by Stepien, who was Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, that he was among a group of aides — “Team Normal,” he called them — who pushed back against Rudy Giuliani’s hallucinatory insistence that the election was being stolen.

And last week, of course, was Ivanka Trump’s star turn. That’s when we saw her testimony: that she said a big no to the Big Lie.

But her, Barr’s and Stepien’s words don’t amount to moral reckonings. They reflect professional calculations.

Team Normal? If you were still working for Trump by the fourth year of his presidency, there was nothing normal about you. If you served that campaign, during which Trump repeatedly telegraphed his intention to declare any result other than victory an illegitimate one, there was nothing normal about you. If you’d taken the measure of the man before Election Day 2020 and decided, yes, he’s fit to lead America, good for this country and worthy of my efforts and energies on his behalf, there was nothing normal about you.

And if, in the weeks after Election Day, you finally stopped abetting his delusions, midwifing his megalomania and whispering sweet reassurances in his ear, you weren’t returning to normal. You were simply cutting your losses. It was time to hitch your wagon to a sturdier, steadier horse, to find another patron and another payday.

Stepien, as my colleague Michelle Cottle wrote in The Times on Tuesday, “slunk away, coat collar flipped up and hat brim pulled low in the hopes that no one would notice him fleeing the spiraling freak show to which he had sold his services and his soul.”

Susan Glasser, in The New Yorker, also had it right. Reflecting on how Stepien and Barr are now styling themselves (and being showcased) as blunt tellers of Trump-foiling truths, Glasser wrote on Monday evening that they are “not only Trump’s accusers but also first-class enablers of Trump and his lies — until Trump finally found a lie too big for them to enable. Even when it came to their qualms about Trump’s ‘rigged election’ crusade, their outrage came conveniently after the fact, not when it might have made a difference.”

Amen. We can be grateful that Barr and Stepien didn’t travel the final autocratic mile with Trump and not discount their disgraceful road to that point. We can remember how Barr, in advance of Robert Mueller’s report, released a toned-down summary of it that was clearly meant to dull its impact.

We can remember that before Mike Pence patriotically refused Trump’s order not to certify the election results, he pathetically performed the role of Trump’s evangelical beard. And don’t get me started on Ivanka. I’ve spent ample time in her temple of self-celebration, as have others. She and her husband, Jared Kushner, will always do what’s profitable for them, and if that occasionally intersects with the public interest, well, accidents happen. We can think a word of thanks without uttering a syllable of praise.

There were Republicans who took a chance on Trump at the start and got out fast, accepting that either he’d fooled them or they’d kidded themselves. There were Republicans who signaled that much was amiss. Those who didn’t — including Pence, Mike Pompeo and others with presidential aspirations in 2024 — forfeited the moral high ground and can’t credibly reclaim it now.

Nor can they pretend that they were anything other than transaction-minded actors in the most transactional administration I’ve observed. When they benefited from their proximity to Trump, they held their noses, bit their tongues and cuddled close. It’s possible they persuaded themselves that his flaws weren’t so different from any other vain leader’s, that politics is invariably messy and that their compromises were “normal” ones. That’s awfully convenient. And utterly absurd.

Another Highly UNqualified Candidate!

When, somewhere in the early years of my political/constitutional education, I learned that there are virtually no requirements to run for and hold most public offices, such as president, senator, representative, I was appalled!  What?  No requirement that they even studied Constitutional Law, or have any combination of education/experience relevant to the job they seek?  The only requirements are related to age, citizenship, and domicile, not to whether they have the necessary knowledge to do the job!

We have seen the results of this oversight lately in such congressional newbies as Margie Greene, and Lauren Boebert.  Greene has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and her only career experience prior to winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives was as a gym owner and trainer.  Boebert dropped out of high school and her career consists of working at McDonald’s and later owning a restaurant called Shooters, where the wait staff all carry guns.  These two do not belong in Congress, but there is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that prevents it.  And now, we have on the horizon one who is equally unqualified and distasteful, a former athlete named Herschel Walker.

Herschel Walker did go to college, but it appears that his only goal was sports and to pursue a sports career, for he dropped out without graduating and went on to join the United States Football League, and later the NFL.  I gather he was a very good athlete, and I give him kudos for that, but … he has absolutely nothing that would qualify him for a seat in the United States Senate!  Yet that is exactly what he’s vying for, challenging the incumbent senator, Ralph Warnock, for his seat this November.  From everything I’ve read, Walker is an arrogant man, believing that playing football, having a black belt in taekwondo, and having competed in the Olympic bobsled competition somehow mean he should be voted into a senate seat.  This would be akin to me saying that I’m qualified to be the Queen of Poland because I can speak Spanish!  (For the record, they speak Polish, not Spanish, in Poland, and they don’t have a Queen)

Now, not only is Mr. Walker highly unqualified for the senate, but he should be disqualified for some of his antics.  He has been a staunch supporter of the Big Lie, even spreading numerous conspiracy theories about the election.  He also said of the January 6th attempted coup that it was a “well planned” distraction from election fraud.

But Mr. Walker does have one qualification that is requisite for today’s Republican Party, and that is that he is a consummate liar.  He falsely claimed that he had graduated from the University of Georgia, and in the top 1% of his class, when in fact he dropped out a year short of completion.  He has a history of exaggerating the number of people employed by his companies and the assets held by his companies, and the failure of several business enterprises led to creditors bringing lawsuits.  He has claimed that he was once a police officer for the Cobb County Police Department, and also that he was once an FBI agent.  Neither one is true.

He also seems to have a very short fuse.  In 2001, he took a gun to chase a man who was late delivering a car.  Also in 2001 his wife filed for divorce, claiming he had been “physically abusive and extremely threatening.”  She said that Walker pointed a pistol at her head and said, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” She also said he had used knives to threaten her.  In 2005, a restraining order was imposed on Walker regarding his wife, after her sister stated in an affidavit that Walker told her “unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her boyfriend in the head.”

Now for the real kicker … Herschel Walker and Senator Ralph Warnock are tied neck-in-neck in the race for the U.S. Senate seat representing Georgia.  TIED!!!  Ralph Warnock is a good man by all accounts, an honest man, a man of integrity.  How can there be any question of who is best qualified?  But then, this is Georgia, the state that also sent us the QAnon supporter, conspiracy theorist Margie Greene.  🙄

C’mon, people … is this really the kind of crap you want sitting in our Senate, making the decisions that will affect the lives of every person in this country???  Surely even the Republicans cannot condone a person like this … can they?  Is this an example of the new Republican Party since they swore their oath of fealty to the former guy?  Conservative columnist Michael Gerson was spot on when he said that the GOP is a party in decay.  Herschel Walker is but one of the many examples that prove it.

A Cautionary Vision

I woke to the sound of gunfire.  Looked at the clock — 4:17 a.m.  Waking to gunfire is nothing new here, but still, it took several cigarettes and about 25 pages of reading before I calmed down enough to get back to sleep, and it seemed like only minutes until my alarm clock awakened me.

The date is November 15th in the year 2030.

Today is an important day for me and my two children, Eddie and Beth.  Today is either the first day of the rest of our lives, or else it is the last day of our lives.  I do not know which it will be, but I know that I am willing to risk not only my own life, but that of my children to get us away from the living hell that has ensued since 2024 when a true madman took over the nation.  We have friends in Canada who have told us where to cross in order to avoid detection, and who will help us with shelter and food until I can find a job and we can get back on our feet.  What, you ask, has led me to such a dangerous and traumatic decision?  Let me tell you about the year 2025, the first year of hell.

The 2024 election was won by the Democratic candidate, but he and his family mysteriously disappeared less than three weeks after the election.  Six years later, and there is still no sign of him, his family, or his body, but it is believed that he and his family were murdered.  I still do not understand how the election results were overturned, but they were, and long story short, the Republican candidate took office … and he is still there today with no plans for any future elections.

What changed, you ask?  So many things have changed that I cannot even keep track, but a few of the most crucial things are the nightmares that invade my sleep each and every night.  First, the new ‘president’ was inaugurated on January 20, 2025, and he gave a lengthy speech thereafter, promising (warning) that ‘big changes’ were coming.  He was surrounded by ‘his people’ who applauded until I thought their hands must surely have blisters.  Among those ‘big changes’ that came in the first year were cuts to such things as Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, housing and food assistance for the poor, and programs that provided financial assistance for college students whose families couldn’t afford college.

But the next year was worse.  2026 would normally have been a mid-term election year, but as we neared November, something didn’t smell right.  I had a bad feeling, a bad vibe you might call it.  And sure enough, in late October, there were six school shootings resulting in the deaths of 223 students and the injuries of far more.  This led to protests in nearly every city across the U.S. as people demanded gun regulations.  But, instead of responding with any degree of empathy, even false empathy, the ‘president’ called out the National Guard and put the entire nation under a lockdown.  We were allowed to go only to work and back home, or to buy food, medicine, and absolute essentials, and even then we had to show ‘passes’.  What followed, of course, was that the president declared the nation to be in a ‘state of emergency’ and the election was cancelled.  When the state of emergency was finally lifted some seven months later, the ‘president’ had appointed the new members of Congress using ‘emergency powers’ that he created and the U.S. Supreme Court, such as it now is, supported.

Schools are now regulated, meaning the only science courses that can be taught are such things as Physics, Astronomy, and Oceanography.  Biology is taboo.  U.S. History is now a joke.  Our children are taught that white men brought Black people here to rescue them from the horrible conditions in their native Africa, and that white people treated them so well that they begged to live and work forever on white man’s plantations.  Indigenous People are no longer mentioned in the history books and such men and women as Martin Luther King, Harriet Tubman, Booker T. Washington are not found in any book in the schools or public libraries.  Such books are considered ‘contraband’ and possessing one can send a person to prison.

Legislation has been passed and signed into law making Blacks, women, Hispanics, Asians, Muslims and Jews basically 2nd class citizens.  If a white person is caught out in public with one of these people, they can go to jail.  The 2nd class citizens can only hold certain jobs, such as maintenance, auto repair, sales clerks, restaurant and factory workers.  They are not allowed to enroll in any college.  Colleges and high-level jobs, government positions, are all reserved for white males only.

There is a state religion that everyone is forced to become a member of and adhere to.  It is a very intolerant religion that praises white males, calls for subservience by the rest, and calls for the execution of LGBTQ people.  On August 20, 2027, more than 12,000 LGBTQ people were rounded up in every city around the nation and executed in a very public manner.  It was replayed on television endlessly for days.  I’ve never cried so much in my life, for my brother was one of those who was murdered so brutally before a firing squad.  I watched with tears rolling down my face, while the crowds applauded and cheered and said they were “making America great again.”  Perhaps my definition of ‘great’ differs from theirs.

We live under a brutal regime, our every move watched 24/7.  Our lives are not our own.  I cannot live like this any longer.  My children and I are so hoping for a better life north of the border, but if we fail, we will have no life and will fade into the annals of obscurity.  Either way, we will be free of these chains that bind us.  Our world is on fire and there is nobody to save us.


Fiction?  Yes, this is my nightmare of late, or some variation of it.  The things I wrote about above … well, my friends, those things or some semblance of them could come to pass if we don’t guard and protect our Constitution, our republic.  Today, there are so many in positions of power who are, at heart, autocrats and who have whatever it is that brings followers, ignorant souls who do not know history and cannot envision the future, to their cause.

Shall We Stop Educating Our Children?

Betsy DeVos served under the former administration as Secretary of Education.  Ms. DeVos brought no qualifications in the field of education to the position – her only qualification was the huge sum of money (reported to be in the multi-million dollar range) she and her husband, Dick, had donated to the former guy’s campaign in 2016.  Ms. DeVos was no more qualified than I for the position, and did an even worse job than I would have, but that is all water under the bridge, for she and her corrupt boss have left the federal government … or have they?

It seems these days that anybody and everybody who served in the former administration feels qualified to write a book, and they believe that we will pay money to read their first-hand experience, or drivel, which is what most of these books are.  There are a few exceptions, such as Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy by Jamie Raskin, which I am currently reading.  However others, like One Damn Thing After Another: Memoirs of an Attorney General by former Attorney General William (Bill) Barr are merely ego trips for the authors.  The latest in the batch, slated for release on June 21st, is Hostages No More: The Fight for Education Freedom and the Future of the American Child by none other than Betsy DeVos.

Apparently Ms. DeVos defines ‘education freedom’ differently than I do, and hopes for an entirely different future for today’s children than I would wish for.  During a tour this week to promote her upcoming book, Ms. Devos made this statement:

“I don’t think the Department of Education should exist.”

My jaw dropped … she was, after all, paid $199,700 per year from our hard-earned tax dollars to lead the very department she now claims should not exist.  I read two articles about her ideas, why she believes the Department of Education should be shut down, and in my view she didn’t make one bit of sense.  She drones on about how ‘children are political pawns’ and “how poorly the system is serving children,” but offers no facts upon which she bases her opinions.  She apparently does not believe that every young person should have the opportunity to go to college, for she said …

“There are millions of great jobs going unfilled that don’t require a college degree.”

And regarding President Biden’s proposed student loan forgiveness program, she believes …

“It’s a horrible idea, and I don’t know how anyone can defend it. All you’re doing is buying a bunch of political goodwill.”

Way back in 2017, when DeVos was first made Secretary of Education, I posited that the goal she and Trump had was to ensure that only the children of the wealthy would ultimately be able to afford or qualify for a college education, that the other 99% of us would remain the proletariat, doing the heavy lifting for subsistence wages while those wealthy kids went into politics and managed their family’s multi-million dollar corporations.  Seems I was right.

Now, I consider her to be irrelevant and wouldn’t waste my time writing about her, except that … her ideas are becoming the ideas of the entire Republican Party that wants to diminish the education our kids are getting by failing to teach them facts, teach them history, teach them what they need to get into college and learn to think for themselves.  What if … perish the thought … the former guy somehow avoids the long arm of the law and is allowed to run for president again in 2024, and what if he were to win?  Would he follow DeVos’ advice and demolish the Department of Education?  And what would it be replaced with?  The Department of Christian Learning?  Will forced school prayer return to our schools, replacing such things as Biology, Literature, and History, all of which are seemingly being given the axe in many states today.

From banning books to refusing to teach about such things as slavery – the true cause of the Civil War – and the Tulsa Race Massacre, and the Civil Rights Era, and how white people treated the original owners of this land, we are turning education upside down and not in any good way.  I hope, I truly hope, that Ms. DeVos is never again in charge of anything in our government, but there are other equally noxious people in the Republican Party like Ron DeSantis who support the dumbing-down of our children.  What will this nation look like in 50 years if they succeed?

A Toothless, Useless, Waste of Time

There are so damn many issues to claim our attention and concern today that it seems something important is always falling by the wayside.  There are some things, though, that we simply cannot afford to lose sight of – climate change, the threats to democracy, the ‘dumbing-down’ of education, the pandemic that is still a pandemic, and our massive gun problem.  Speaking of the gun crisis … I have looked at the ‘bi-partisan’ agreement in Congress and said, “pbthhhh … it has no teeth.”  In my book, it is even less than the very minimum I would expect or demand, were I in a position to make demands.  It is the Republican’s attempt to placate us, to shut us up, to brag that they took our concerns seriously, when they don’t at all.  Did you know that according to the latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 59% favor curbing gun violence, while 35% do not. That includes 92% of Democrats in favor, along with 54% of independents. However, “70% of Republicans say it’s more important to protect gun rights.” 

Yesterday, Paul Waldman published an OpEd in The Washington Post that echoes my own sentiments on the topic …


More guns in schools, and everywhere else? Have we gone mad?

By Paul Waldman

Columnist

June 14, 2022

There’s nothing like a massacre of elementary school children to get the attention of lawmakers, who will be eager to show they’re at least willing to pretend to do something about the gun carnage we Americans endure. But while Democratic states often respond to mass shootings by passing new gun restrictions, Republican states tend to pass laws loosening regulations, driven by the psychotic idea that protecting us from gun violence requires getting more guns in more places.

While there are some glimmers of hope — senators might soon agree on a few worthwhile things on guns — we might emerge from this moment realizing that the flurry of lawmaking after the latest mass shootings took us to an even darker place.

If you want a hint of the dystopian future that might await us, look no further than a bill Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) signed into law Monday.

The new law’s guiding principle seems to be that we should turn every school into an armed camp as quickly as possible. The law lowers the amount of training required for a teacher to go armed in Ohio from around 700 hours down to 24 hours. According to its text, teacher training must include “at least four hours of training in scenario-based or simulated training exercises.” Four whole hours!

Think for a moment about your schoolteachers, or your children’s teachers. Maybe a few were past their prime and not as enthusiastic as they used to be. Some were young and idealistic, devoted to the well being of children. Some were brilliant; all had a difficult and stressful job.

But I’ll bet none of them were Jason Bourne, were they?

This is the world Republicans want us to live in, where every spasm of deadly violence is met with what is essentially a military response. If we face a threat from guns, we should get more guns and put them in more people’s hands. If there’s a school shooting, it means schools are “soft targets” that we must harden. Then we’ll do the same to stores and parks and synagogues and churches and mosques — and everywhere else we gather.

It’s a tribute to the GOP’s political and communication skills that it can take any idea, no matter how deranged — we have mass shootings because schools have too many doors! — and push it right to the heart of the discussion. Yes, we could theoretically turn your neighborhood elementary school into something like a supermax prison, but what would that do to the children inside?

We already have a clue from the proliferation of active-shooter lockdown drills in recent years. Meant to tell students that “this will keep you safe,” instead it told them that “this is the nightmare you live in now.” Over and over, they were told to live in fear, that a violent death was their possible future. In some cases, officials have organized simulated attacks where murders were acted out; as one teacher said, “I felt more traumatized than trained.”

We simply don’t know what kind of effects members of this lockdown generation will carry with them. But we’re apparently going to keep subjecting more and more kids to it — better that than force anyone to suffer any minor inconvenience when purchasing their arsenal of deadly weapons.

That’s certainly how the Republicans who control the state legislature in Ohio feel. On the same day DeWine signed that bill, another one he signed took effect. This one enacts “permitless carry,” meaning almost anyone is allowed to carry a gun almost anywhere in the state — no license or training required.

If almost anyone in Ohio could be carrying a gun, shouldn’t the teachers have guns? And if the teachers have guns, shouldn’t the students have guns? Perhaps we should discuss whether a 5-year-old’s constitutional right to bear arms is being infringed if they can’t pack a Glock in their lunchbox.

What we have here is a profound disagreement about what it means for a place to feel, and to be, “safe.” You can weld shut the doors and windows, fill the school with armed personnel and make the kids think every day about their deaths, and you will have achieved a kind of “safety.” But it’s a poisonous kind, one that will terrorize every child who enters there.

Unfortunately, we’re going to see a lot of that in the near future, because “hardening” schools is one of the only ideas Republicans will agree to in response to mass shootings. Money for “school safety” will be in the bipartisan gun bill (if it passes), and states will offer the same, so Republicans can say they responded to the endless wave of mass shootings.

Heaven forbid we should say someone has to be 21 years old to buy a military-style rifle designed to kill as many human beings as possible in the shortest amount of time. But if your school wants a grant to install more metal detectors? Step right up.

And Mrs. O’Neill, the kindly librarian at the elementary school? Put a gun in her hand. That’ll make everyone safe, won’t it?

♫ Just Like Me ♫

I hinted last night that I was planning to do a music post for a friend.  Roger mentioned this one way back a week ago when I posted Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, but I’m just now getting around to playing it … where the heck does time go???  So anyway, Sir Roger, this one’s for you!

I am not able … and I’ve searched high and low … to find much background or trivia about this song.  Released in November 1965, it was Paul Revere and the Raiders’ first national hit and one of the first rock records to feature a distinctive, double-tracked guitar solo, performed by guitarist Drake Levin.  The song peaked at #11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in January 1966 during a then-lengthy 15-week run.  And that is all of the factual info I have, so you’ll just have to settle for giving it a listen!

Just Like Me
Paul Revere and the Raiders

It’s just like me
To say to you
Love me do
And I’ll be true

And what I’d like
For you to say
Is you’ll come home
To me each day

Hiku be my girl
That’s what I want
Just you sweet thing
And not a thing

It’s just like me
To feel so good
And fall so much
In love with you

It’s just like me
It’s just like me
I’m acting the fool
That’s how I’ll be

But it’s just like you
To say goodbye
And leave me all
Alone at night, waaa

It’s just like me
To say to you
Love me do
And I’ll be true

And what I’d like
For you to say
Is that you’ll love me
Here each day

It’s just like me
It’s just like me
I’m acting the fool
That’s how I’ll be

But it’s just like you
To say goodbye
And leave me all
Alone at night, waaa

It’s just like me
It’s just like me…

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: R. Hart / R. Dey

Just Like Me lyrics © Daywin Music, Inc.

Tuesday’s gone with the wind – a few more windy remarks

I think that sometimes when we can make our points with humour, they are more likely to be listened to and pondered. Our friend Keith has made a few points today with a bit of ‘windy’ humour and it makes for a fun post! Overall, Keith … like all of us … just doesn’t want to see our nation become “Dust in the Wind” 😉 Thank you, Keith, for a fun and at the same time thoughtful post.

musingsofanoldfart

Using one of my favorite Lynyrd Skynyrd songs, “Tuesday’s gone” one more time, let me offer some more windy remarks. This is in deference to many politicians who tend to be big bags of wind with contrived and exaggerated truths.

  • I know everyone is anticipating the Roe v Wade impacting ruling from the Supreme Court, but another major ruling will affect jurisdiction over corporations, making it easier on these entities to cut corners. I have said before, the primary reason Republicans like conservative judges is not things like Roe v Wade, it is to help companies avoid having to be held liable for their misdeeds. Everything else is window-dressing to that primary purpose.

  • The Wizard of Oz-like actions of the most recent former president is underway to get people not to look behind the January 6 insurrection curtain. If they do, they will see a person pulling everyone’s levers to…

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Kevin McCarthy Is NOT A Good Man

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is a real piece of work, as they say.  If the ‘man’ has a compassionate bone in his body, I have yet to find it.  He whines incessantly and his values, such as they are, are so skewed that it’s impossible to determine what they are, for they may vary from one day to the next.  He had one single moment of dignity on the 6th of January, 2021, when he said …

“Let me be clear to you, and I have been very clear to the president. He bears responsibility for his words and actions. No if, ands or buts. I asked him personally today if he holds responsibility for what happened, if he feels bad about what happened. He told me he does have some responsibility for what happened. But he needs to acknowledge that.”

Just a few weeks later, McCarthy visited Trump at Mar-a-Lago and pandered to him in order to get back in his good graces and likely apologized for his earlier comment — a comment which he now tries to deny having said, though it was recorded and has been verified more than a few times.

So, we know he is not an honest man, not a principled man, and cares more for his own political future than for our lives.  But of late he is outdoing himself in the ‘whine-and-blame’ department.

Yesterday, he tweeted multiple times about gas prices having hit $5.  I finally responded to him asking him if he had a point to make, and also whether he had checked fuel prices in other countries, for it is the same around the globe.  The rise in fuel prices is caused by a combination of the war in Ukraine, an excess of demand over supply as people begin traveling more in these ‘post-Covid’1 summer months, and the blatant greed of the oil companies who are seeing remarkably high profits of late (profits on which they pay relatively little taxes).  Canada, Australia, the UK … all report high fuel prices just as ours are.  But ol’ McCarthy wants to point the finger at President Biden and tell the maga crowd that it’s all Biden’s fault.

The thing that got me the most about McCarthy in the past week or two, though, is illustrated by this tweet he made yesterday …

“For the 3rd time in a week, I’m calling for a vote for stronger security for Supreme Court Justices—ALL of them. This isn’t partisan. The threat is real. Why is Speaker Pelosi blocking something that the Senate has already passed unanimously?”

This is a result of the arrest of a man last Wednesday who, while he didn’t actually attempt it, considered murdering Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  He thought better of it and called the police, acknowledging that he was having suicidal thoughts and wanted to kill Kavanaugh because of the pending Roe v Wade decision.  Okay, one man with a mental health issue who didn’t even follow through with his threat, and ol’ McCarthy has tried to pass bills three times within a week to protect the nine Supreme Court Justices.  Don’t get me wrong here … I do not deny that we need to put in place some additional security for the justices if they’re going to keep making anti-humanitarian decisions, and I do NOT wish to see any of them murdered.  However …

On May 24th, a teenager with an assault rifle brutally massacred 19 school children – 4th graders – and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.  In addition to that horrific event, there were a number of other mass shootings including one ten days before Uvalde, where 10 people were killed by yet another teenager with a military-style assault rifle at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York.  The rise in mass shootings is the stuff nightmares are made of, and so once again the members of Congress who are people of conscience proposed new gun legislation.  The proposal passed the House (but with much watering down when it finally passed in the Senate, to the point that it is not much of a help at all).  But to my point … guess who voted AGAINST that bill in the House?  You guessed it – good ol’ Kevin McCarthy.

So, let’s get this straight … he is driven to devote all his time, day and night, to getting a bill to protect the nine members of the Supreme Court passed and is downright nasty when he doesn’t get his way, but he cannot be bothered to vote for gun laws, milquetoast though they are, when thousands of people are dying from senseless gun violence, hundreds of them children, every damn year?  Hmmmm … the only conclusion I can draw here is that Kevin McCarthy does not care about the people of this nation, nor does he care about our children.  I think that Kevin McCarthy is NOT a nice man, not a man with a conscience or the capability for humanity, for empathy.  I hope the good people of California think long and hard about his skewed priorities and vote to replace him in the U.S. House of Representatives in the November election.


1 Although mask mandates, vaccine mandates, social distancing requirements and other Covid restrictions have largely been lifted, we are NOT “post-Covid” by any stretch, with the nation still seeing hundreds of deaths daily, but some large portion of people have convinced themselves that Covid is gone and it’s time to PAR-TAY!

History Repeats Itself … If We Let It

As I so often say, and as many with better minds than mine have long said before me, if we fail to learn the lessons of history, then we are destined to repeat our mistakes.  In an article in The Guardian, Steve Philips writes about the lessons we need to have learned from the post-Civil War era and what our future holds if we fail to heed those lessons …


If America fails to punish its insurrectionists, it could see a wave of domestic terror

Steve Phillips

We must not repeat the mistakes of the years after the 1860s war for white supremacy that we call the civil war

The last time the United States failed to properly punish insurrectionists, they went on to form the Ku Klux Klan, unleash a reign of murderous domestic terrorism, and re-establish formal white supremacy in much of the country for more than 100 years. As the House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack begins televised hearings this week, the lessons from the post-civil war period offer an ominous warning for this moment and where we go from here.

It is often difficult to sustain the requisite sense of urgency about past events, however dramatic and shocking they may have been at the time. Memories fade, new challenges arise and the temptation to put it all behind us and move on is strong. On top of all that, Republicans quickly and disingenuously called for “unity”, mere days after failing to block the peaceful transfer of power. If we want to preserve our fragile democracy, however, Congress and the president must learn from history and not make the same mistakes their predecessors did in the years after the 1860s war for white supremacy that we call the civil war.

In 1860, many people believed that America should be a white nation where Black people could be bought and sold and held in slavery. The civil war began when many of the people who held that view refused to accept the results of that year’s presidential election. They first plotted to assassinate president-elect Abraham Lincoln (five years later, they would succeed). Then they seceded from the Union, and shortly thereafter started shooting and killing people who disagreed with them. By the end of the war, 2% of the entire country’s population had been killed, the equivalent of 7 million people being killed based on today’s US population.

Despite the rampant treason and extraordinary carnage of the war, the country’s political leaders had little appetite for punishing their white counterparts who had done their level best to destroy the United States of America. After Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth successfully assassinated Lincoln in 1865, Andrew Johnson ascended to the highest office in the land. Johnson, a southerner who “openly espoused white supremacy”, “handed out pardons indiscriminately” to Confederate leaders and removed from the south the federal troops protecting newly freed African Americans.

The historian Lerone Bennett Jr captured the tragedy of the moment in his book Black Power USA: The Human Side of Reconstruction, 1867-1877, writing: “Most Confederate leaders expected imprisonment, confiscation, perhaps even banishment. Expecting the worst, they were willing to give up many things in order to keep some. If there was ever a moment for imposing a lasting solution to the American racial problem, this was it. But the North dawdled and the moment passed. When the Confederates realized that the North was divided and unsure, hope returned. And with hope came a revival of the spirit of rebellion … this was one of the greatest political blunders in American history.”

With that revival of white supremacist hope came ropes and robes and widespread domestic terrorism. Mere months after the ostensible end of the civil war in April 1865, half a dozen southern young white Confederate war veterans gathered in Pulaski, Tennessee, in December 1865 to discuss what to do with their lives, and they decided to form a new organization called the Ku Klux Klan. The first Grand Wizard of the KKK, Nathan Bedford Forrest, was a Confederate general who had been pardoned by Johnson. In less than one year, Forrest would go on to orchestrate “336 cases of murder or assault with intent to kill on freedmen across the state [of Georgia] from January 1 through November 15 of 1868”.

The effectiveness of the domestic terrorism in crushing the country’s nascent multiracial democracy was unsurprising and undeniable. In Columbia county, Georgia, 1,222 votes had been cast for the anti-slavery party in April 1868, and after the reign of terror that year, the party received just one vote in November .

Lest we think this was all a long time ago, the House committee hearings are about to remind us all that we had an insurrection just last year. Not only did a violent mob attack the country’s elected leaders and attempt to block the peaceful transfer of power, but even after the assault was repelled, 147 Republicans – the majority of the Republican members in Congress – refused to accept the votes of the American people and attempted to overthrow the elected government of the United States of America.

And far from being chastened, the enemies of democracy in the Republican party have only become emboldened, like their Confederate counterparts of the last century. Just as happened in the years after the civil war when the prospect of large-scale Black voting threatened white power and privilege, the defenders of white nationalism have engaged in a legislative orgy of passing pro-white public policies – from trying to erase evidence of racism and white supremacy from public school instruction to laws making it increasingly difficult for people of color to cast ballots. As journalist Ron Brownstein has warned, “The two-pronged fight captures how aggressively Republicans are moving to entrench their current advantages in red states, even as many areas grow significantly more racially and culturally diverse. Voting laws are intended to reconfigure the composition of today’s electorate; the teaching bans aim to shape the attitudes of tomorrow’s.”

All of this is happening because the insurrectionists have not and believe they will not be punished. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Democrats control Congress and the White House, and they can take strong and decisive action to ensure appropriate consequences for people who seek to undermine democracy. The House of Representatives impeached Donald Trump in 2021 for incitement of insurrection, and Congress can still invoke the 14th amendment’s provision banning from office any person who has “engaged in insurrection”. All those who aided and abetted Trump’s insurrection should face the full force of the laws that are designed to protect the multiracial democracy that the majority of Americans want. The fate of democracy in America is quite literally at stake.