When Good People Don’t Act …

Over the last couple of years, I have wondered how so many of my friends could seemingly ignore what was happening in this nation.  It is as if they are oblivious to anything that is outside their own little world, as if they were wearing blinders and could not see the atrocities happening in our nation, but instead focus exclusively on what’s for supper, what concert they will go to next weekend, the cute little things their kids or grandkids said yesterday.  As if … nothing has changed, life goes on, it isn’t their problem that kids are kept in cages, that more than a thousand people die every day from the coronavirus, fires are raging on the West Coast, climate change is taking a steep toll and we are doing less than nothing to stop it, and there is a madman at the helm who will soon drive this ship into an iceberg.  None of that seems to bother far too many of the people I know.  Where is the outrage?  Do they simply not care?

The following by Charles Blow in yesterday’s New York Times mirrors my own thoughts, only much more eloquently than I can state them.


When Good People Don’t Act, Evil Reigns

Stop thinking that the horrors of the world will simply work themselves out.

Charles BlowCharles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

I have often wondered how major world tragedies and horrors were allowed to unfold. Where were all the good people, those who objected or should have? How did life simply go on with a horror in their midst?

How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade play out over hundreds of years? How did slavery thrive in this country? How was the Holocaust allowed to happen? How did the genocides in Rwanda or Darfur come to be?

There is, of course, nearly always an explanation. Often it is official policy; often it is driven by propaganda. But I’m more concerned with how people in the society considered these events at the time, and how any semblance of normalcy could be maintained while events unfolded.

It turns out that our current era is providing the unsettling answer: It was easy.

As I write this, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died — many of them needlessly — from Covid-19, in large part because the Trump administration has refused to sufficiently address the crisis, be honest with the American people and urge caution. Instead, Trump has lied about the virus, downplayed it, resisted scientists’ warnings and continues to hold rallies with no social distancing and no mask requirements.

Things are poised to get worse: Models now predict that the number of Americans killed by the virus could double between now and Jan. 1. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington:

“We expect the daily death rate in the U.S., because of seasonality and declining public vigilance, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December. Cumulative deaths expected by Jan. 1 are 415,090; this is 222,522 deaths from now until the end of the year.”

And yet, Americans still flock to Trump rallies, Republicans continue to defend his pandemic response and it is not clear that he will be defeated in November. We are, in many states, back to restaurants and bars, schools and churches, gyms and spas. It’s not as if we don’t know that there is a deadly virus being transmitted through the air, but it seems as though many Americans, weary of restrictions, have simply made their peace with it.

We have a climate crisis that continues to worsen. Storms are getting stronger. Droughts are severe. Rivers are flooding. The sea level is rising. And yet, we don’t do nearly enough to stop it and may not do enough before it’s too late to do anything.

Right now much of the West Coast is ablaze with hellish scenes of orange skies, and yet too many of us entertain climate change deniers, or, perhaps worse, know well the gravity and precariousness of the situation and still haven’t changed our habits or voted for the candidates with the boldest visions to save the planet.

Right now, China has detained as many as one million mostly Muslim citizens, in indoctrination camps, hoping to remold many into what The New York Times called “loyal blue-collar workers to supply Chinese factories with cheap labor.”

And yet, the world does little. Many look away. Life goes on.

This is how these catastrophes happen — in full sight — and people with full knowledge don’t revolt. People sometimes think that the issue is far away, or if it’s not, that it’s too big and they are too powerless.

They think provincially, or even parochially, concerned with their own house, their own street, their own community.

“It’s too bad that those children are in cages, but I can’t worry about that now, the clothes in the dryer need folding.”

“It’s too bad that an unarmed Black man just got shot by the police, but I can’t worry about that now, the yard needs mowing.”

I guess in some ways this impulse is self-protecting, preventing the mind and spirit from becoming overwhelmed with angst and rage. But, the result is that evil — as a person or system — rampages, unchecked, taking your personal laissez-faire as public license.

If you don’t complain, you condone.

But this mustn’t be. Stop thinking of yourself as weak or helpless. Stop thinking that things will simply work themselves out. Stop thinking that evil will stop at the gate and not trample your own garden.

Gather the energy. Gather your neighbor. Fight, vote, email, post. Do all you can to stand up for the vulnerable, for the oppressed, for the planet itself. Don’t let history record this moment as it has recorded too many others: a time when good people did too little to confront wickedness and disaster.

As Edmund Burke wrote in his 1770 “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

But you may be more familiar with another quote often attributed to Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Roger Stone Strikes Again

I have long been against the death penalty, but I think I could make an exception in the case of Roger Stone. On July 10, Trump commuted a 40-month prison sentence that was handed down to Stone after he was convicted of lying to Congress and tampering with witnesses as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into 2016 election interference. Namely, Stone lied to Congress about his contacts with WikiLeaks, which released hacked emails with the aim of boosting Trump’s prospects. In the weeks leading up to the commutation, Stone made a number of media appearances where he asked Trump to grant him clemency and said that in exchange, he could be a more effective campaigner for the president’s 2020 reelection efforts.  Well, he is living up to that promise.roger-stoneLast Thursday, Stone made a video appearance on Alex Jones’ conspiracy theory program, InfoWars.  Stone declared that the only legitimate outcome to the 2020 election would be a Trump victory. He made this assertion on the basis of his entirely unfounded claim that early voting has been marred by widespread voter fraud.

Stone argued that “the ballots in Nevada on election night should be seized by federal marshalls and taken from the state” because “they are completely corrupted” and falsely said that “we can prove voter fraud in the absentees right now.” He specifically called for Trump to have absentee ballots seized in Clark County, Nevada, an area that leans Democratic. Stone went on to claim that “the votes from Nevada should not be counted; they are already flooded with illegals” and baselessly suggested that former Senator Harry Reid (a democrat from Nevada) should be arrested and that Trump should consider nationalizing Nevada’s state police force.

Are you growling yet?  Just wait … it gets even better.

Stone recommended that Trump consider several actions to retain his power. Stone recommended that Trump appoint former Representative Bob Barr, a republican from Georgia, as a special counsel “with the specific task of forming an Election Day operation using the FBI, federal marshals, and Republican state officials across the country to be prepared to file legal objections and if necessary to physically stand in the way of criminal activity.”

Stone also urged Trump to consider declaring “martial law” or invoking the Insurrection Act and then using his powers to arrest Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, “the Clintons” and “anybody else who can be proven to be involved in illegal activity.”  Apparently, Stone defines “illegal activity” as anything that is not supportive of Donald Trump!  In essence, I am engaging in illegal activity by his definition simply by writing this post. roger-stone-3Now, it’s easy enough to write Stone off as the nutcase he is, but the danger here is that in the past he has been one of the people Trump listened to.  Is he still?  Are there saner heads in the Trump administration who would … or could … talk Trump out of following Roger Stone’s clearly unconstitutional advice?  Would the republicans in Congress finally grow a pair and understand that this behaviour is in essence burning the U.S. Constitution, breaking the highest law in the land?  Would the military refuse to do Trump’s bidding, should he decide to follow Stone’s advice?  Would William Barr finally decide to do his job instead of toadying up to Trump?

Yes, I hear you saying, “It’s not possible.  Even Trump wouldn’t act in such an irresponsible dictatorial manner.”  Think again.

The ‘norms’, the restraints on presidential power that are built into the Constitution, the checks and balances we once believed would ensure that we would not lose the democratic principles on which the nation was founded, have all been shattered in the past three years.  You also never imagined a president would turn on the people of this nation, calling them anarchists and criminals, simply because we don’t agree with him.  You also never dreamed a president would have so little regard for our lives that he would keep the secret of a deadly virus and encourage us to go out and be exposed, and if we die, well, “it is what it is”.  Think back … there are hundreds of things he has done that you never thought possible.

I told you this morning how the Trump administration is once again playing Russian roulette with our lives, altering and manipulating CDC data so as to not “make Trump look bad”.  The agencies we have always counted on to protect us are now agents of Donald Trump and are diligently seeking to undermine our freedoms, our Constitution, our alliances, and in fact our very lives.  So, is it really such a stretch to believe that Trump might impose martial law, or break the law to devalue our election?  Are we really so sure the safeguards are strong enough to hold against a corrupt president and his band of boot-licking sycophants?  Think about it.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/12

Every week, our friend TokyoSand searches high and low for the best political cartoons of the week.  This week was no exception.  TS has had some WordPress issues this week (we can all relate to that, I think!) and so I cannot re-blog her post in the usual way, but can only include a link.  I do hope you’ll pop over and check them out!  Thank you, TS, for all your amazing work!


A roundup of cartoons from the nation’s best editorial cartoonists reacting to this week’s top news stories.

Source: The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/12

“It Is What It Is” Says He

According to the latest reported numbers, the U.S. now has 6,676,601 total cases of the coronavirus, and 198,828 total deaths.  Both of those statistics are under-reported.  Let’s be clear, the daily “new cases” number has been significantly smaller of late, but NOT because we have fewer cases!  It is a result of a combination of things, including less testing being done, per Donald Trump’s orders.  Remember when he said that if we did less testing, we would have fewer cases?  Only an imbecile would make such a statement, but it is Trump we’re talking about here.  But there’s more … there seems to be some outright manipulation of the numbers.

From a Politico report yesterday …

The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages [emphasis added] about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.

Now listen, folks.  I know all about political gaming and I know that with Donald Trump, everything is a game, is all about him, his image, his profit, and what benefits him.  BUT these are our lives he and his adoring sycophants are playing with and I’m sick and damn tired of it!  We are not simply Donald Trump’s chattel to play with as he wishes!

The story continues …

But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”

As a CPA, I once worked for a company that asked me to make the monthly revenue numbers match the predictions the managers had sent to the corporate offices earlier in the month.  In other words, alter the facts to mirror the projection.  I refused and gave my notice the next morning.  It’s called ‘integrity’.  Facts and statistics cannot be tampered with to make a corporate manager or politician look good, for at that point they are no longer facts and statistics but are mere fantasy. Just as financial reports should have integrity, so should reports about how many people are sick and dying because of the greed and cruelty of the so-called president.

We the People cannot make wise decisions if we don’t have the facts.  Period.  If we had believed Trump back in the first quarter of this year, we would have gone on about our merry way, exposing ourselves on a daily basis … oh wait, that is what a lot of people, mainly Trump supporters, did, and that is why our death toll will surpass 300,000 by the end of this year!

And we now know, thanks to Bob Woodward’s book, Rage, coming out on Tuesday, that not only did Trump lie to us, but he did so fully knowing that lives would be lost as a result of his lies.  And now … he’s trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as he has his minions trying to manipulate the actual numbers.  Now, we have no credible source of information.  Now, we are entirely on our own to try to figure out what is safe and what isn’t.  And we will never know how many cases there actually were in the U.S., nor how many died as a result of the pandemic when they could have been saved if only Trump had put us ahead of his own financial & political gain.  Remember last month, when in an interview where he was being questioned about the death toll, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It is what it is.”  That is how much he cares about you, me, or anybody else.

trump-coronavirus

While The West Coast Burns …

The West Coast of the United States is on fire.  Property is being devoured by the hungry flames, lives are being lost, people are being uprooted with nowhere to go, having lost everything.  Surely the nation’s leader must be on top of this situation, must be worried and seeking help from all venues to assist in the firefighting, yes?  Well, no … not exactly.  In fact, he hasn’t actually mentioned the fires since a few weeks ago when he taunted California’s Governor Gavin Newsom for not … um … raking the forest properly and threatened to cut off funding to the state.

fires-5Oh, but the so-called leader has many things to draw his attention away from the disaster that is taking lives and leaving thousands homeless!  He is busy throwing away his campaign money on such foolishness as limos and paying his businesses for his own profit.  And he’s very busy watching Fox ‘News’ for 6-9 hours per day, and denigrating Democrats and thinking up new nasty names for us all, but especially his likely successor, Joe Biden.  Oh, and holding mask-free campaign rallies even in cities that have banned large gatherings.

While the nation burns.  The fires that started in California, then spread to Oregon, have also now spread to Washington State.  Consider, if you will, that those three states account for 16% of the U.S. population total, as well as some of the most beautiful natural resources in the nation.  So, why is the person in the White House ignoring the fires in those three states?  For starters …

All three states have Democratic governors:

  • California – Gavin Newsom
  • Oregon – Kate Brown
  • Washington – Jay Inslee

Trump seems to have some misguided notion that democrats are not his problem, that his job is only to represent republicans, and especially those who “like” him.  Another reason …

fires-4The fires are largely a result of climate change.  Trump can still be heard calling climate change a “hoax” (one of his most favourite words) and during his 45-month tenure, he has done everything possible to add to the destruction of our environment.  He has rolled back regulations … nearly every one that was in place to help repair and protect our planet … he has pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accords, letting down every other nation on earth.  He has signed “executive orders” to virtually destroy the planet by the end of the century.  So, to spend time focusing on the fires would be to open himself to intense scrutiny and criticism in his handling of all environmental issues.

And the third reason, I think, is that to care about what is happening on the west coast would require a certain level of empathy, of compassion, and Trump is an emotional black hole when it comes to caring about any but himself.  Even his children and grandchildren are judged by him and found wanting, they may get financial help from him, but they will never receive love or compassion from him.  So, how can we expect him to care about Jacob and Jamie Hyland who just lost their one-year-old child to the wildfires in Washington, while they themselves both suffer serious burns?

fires-7fires-6Or Blake Campos who just lost his house and the family farm to the fires.  Or Dewey and Anabel Bratcher who lost not only their home, but all five of their kitties.  Jesus Mendoza, a 42-year-old tree-trimmer who lost his home, truck, car and all of the equipment he uses for his gardening business. Eileen Menzies Gram, age 78, who lost her ranch, all of her possessions and several of her animals in the fire. The list is endless already and there is no end in sight.  Do you believe for one minute that Donald Trump cares about any of these people?  If you do, please contact me, for I can give you a great deal on a bridge – practically new, barely used!

fires-1fires-2fires-3I have a number of friends who live on the west coast, who are potentially in danger of losing their homes, their livelihoods, perhaps even their lives.  In fact, our friend Jeff Marzick (Brookingslib from On the Fence Voters) lives in Oregon, not too far from the site of one of the fires.  Never having been up close to a wildfire, I can only imagine the trauma, based on the pictures I’ve seen.  For the “leader” of this nation to shrug it off and put all his energies into his re-election bid, his hate campaign against the 60% of the people in the nation who do not support him, is beyond unconscionable.  It is criminal.

We learned this week that Trump intentionally downplayed and blatantly lied about the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a “democratic hoax”.  His greed and corruption, his self-dealing, cost thousands of lives in this nation.  And now, we have wildfires out of control and all he can do is shrug his shoulders and … “Nothing to see here, folks, let’s move on to the Trump Family Circus Show”.

When Trump took that oath of office on January 20, 2017, he swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution and he took his office to support all 330 million people in this country.  Not just whites.  Not just males.  Not just Republicans.  Not just people who “like” him, for whatever reason.  But he has let us down … has let us all down.  Congress cannot step up to the plate and fill in the gaps Trump is leaving, because the majority in the Senate are paid to do Trump’s bidding!  Oh sure, We the People pay their salary, but they are paid much more by big corporations and lobbying groups that see an advantage to keeping Trump in office and therefore they care NOT ONE WHIT about the people in California, Oregon, and Washington.  They care NOT ONE WHIT for the Black people who have been killed by police for no reason other than the colour of their skin.  Like that ‘man’ they have sold their soul for, they have only their own self-interests at heart.

To all our friends on the West Coast … keep safe, and know that you are in my heart and thoughts.

♫ Monster ♫

I have a policy for my music posts … I do take requests, and if I like the song, I’ll play it, if I don’t, I just let the request fade into oblivion.  However, there are a few exceptions.  A) If the requester is a long-time reader and old friend, B) if I find some value in the song, and C) if it doesn’t make my head hurt.

Yesterday (Thursday), in a comment on my post titled No Longer The Country We Think We Are, Roger Jacob, one of the first people to stumble across this blog back in 2015 and a dear friend, said that “Next song you put up Jill just has to be ‘Monster’ by Steppenwolf.”

I listened to the song, which I had never heard before — no surprise there, as Steppenwolf is not ordinarily on my list of favourites.  But, when I studied the lyrics, what I found was that while the lyrics were written in 1969 about the Vietnam War, loss of justice, and other issues, they are just as relevant today.

So, without further ado, I give you Steppenwolf!

Monster
Steppenwolf

Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of Kingdom and pope

Like good Christians some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands, to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And till the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end

While we bullied, stole and bought a homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The Blue and Grey they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war was over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has its share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But its protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it’s a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind
Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
Now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told

Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin’

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin’ the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can’t understand

We don’t know how to mind our own business
‘Cause the whole world’s got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who’s the winner we can’t pay the cost

‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin’

America, where are you now
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster

America, where are you now
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster

America…America…America…America…

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Jerry Edmonton / John Kay
Monster lyrics © BMG Rights Management

America’s Wake-Up Call — Jeff & Jill Are Baaaaack!!!

The date for the re-start of mine and Jeff’s project, September 11th, came about quite by accident … to start with, that is.  We counted back eight weeks from election day, picked the first Friday in those 8 weeks, and … were stunned to see that with this logic, our first post would be on the 19th anniversary of 9/11.  Nineteen years … wow.  In some ways, it seems like only yesterday, doesn’t it?  The building I was working in, a publishing company here in Cincinnati, has since been demolished, but I remember the exact place I was standing when one of my staff called me over to tell me that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  The rest of that day is a blur, but that single moment in time remains frozen in my mind.

For a number of reasons, 9/11 is very personal to me, as it is to many of you but that isn’t my focus with this post.  This is the final leg of mine and Jeff’s project, started back in January of this year with the goal of helping our readers understand the importance of this election year, the issues, and why it is so crucial that each and every one of us do our part.  It just happens, though, that this anniversary of the events of September 11, 2001, provides us with a good lead-in to jumpstart our project.  The title for this second half of our project is “America’s Wake Up Call”, and by the time you finish reading this post, I think you will understand why.

On September 11th, 2001, terrorists flew planes into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and one that we believe was headed for the White House that was brought down by heroes in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.  In under two hours, our lives were changed.  At that time, President George W. Bush was at the helm.  No matter what happened later, no matter what mistakes or poor decisions he made in the months and years that followed, I will always remember him for what he did in the hours and days that followed:  he united us.  He comforted, he understood, he grieved along with us.  His was the voice of caring, of compassion, of intellect, of … calm and reason.

This is the text of his address to We the People on the evening of 9/11 …

bush-2Good evening.

Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts. The victims were in airplanes or in their offices: secretaries, business men and women, military and federal workers, moms and dads, friends and neighbors. Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror. The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge — huge structures collapsing have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness, and a quiet, unyielding anger. These acts of mass murder were intended to frighten our nation into chaos and retreat. But they have failed. Our country is strong.

A great people has been moved to defend a great nation. Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve. America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil — the very worst of human nature — and we responded with the best of America. With the daring of our rescue workers, with the caring for strangers and neighbors who came to give blood and help in any way they could.

Immediately following the first attack, I implemented our government’s emergency response plans. Our military is powerful, and it’s prepared. Our emergency teams are working in New York City and Washington D.C. to help with local rescue efforts. Our first priority is to get help to those who have been injured, and to take every precaution to protect our citizens at home and around the world from further attacks. The functions of our government continue without interruption. Federal agencies in Washington which had to be evacuated today are reopening for essential personnel tonight and will be open for business tomorrow. Our financial institutions remain strong, and the American economy will be open for business as well.

The search is underway for those who were behind these evil acts. I have directed the full resources of our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.

I appreciate so very much the members of Congress who have joined me in strongly condemning these attacks. And on behalf of the American people, I thank the many world leaders who have called to offer their condolences and assistance. America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism.

Tonight, I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whose worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a Power greater than any of us, spoken through the ages in Psalm 23:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil for you are with me.

This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world.

Thank you. Good night. And God bless America.

Now, fast forward to 2020.  Can you envision the current occupant of the Oval Office, whom I refuse to refer to by the title of “president”, giving such a speech or acting in such a rational manner as G.W. did on that day?  Try to imagine, if we had a similar crisis in this nation today, how Donald Trump would react.  He would screech, he would point fingers, his face would be twisted into a hundred contortions.  He would blame … he would blame Democrats, he would blame Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer.  He would blame any and every one of us in one way or another.  Would we feel comforted as we did nineteen years ago?  Hell no!  We would be terrified! 

Bush-1George W. Bush united the people of this nation … he brought us together in our shared grief, and helped us to understand that we needed to reach out to each other, that we were all in this together and that together we would get through the days ahead, the loss of loved ones, the shattering of our lives.  Donald Trump is not anywhere near the man that George W. Bush is and was on that day.  Donald Trump would use the crisis as a means to drive the wedge that already exists between the people of this nation just a little bit deeper, to cause us to fear one another instead of reaching out and offering comfort, just as he has done with the current pandemic.

I can offer at least one hundred reasons that Donald Trump must be defeated on November 3rd, that Joe Biden must be elected, but this may well be the best reason … we need a leader who leads, who cares about us, who has the intelligence and demeanor to remain calm in the midst of a storm and unite rather than divide.  We do not have that leader today … let’s make sure that next January we do.

Discord & Dissent Table of Contents

♫ Imagine ♫

Yes, I know I have played this one several times already, but please bear with me.  I tend to play this song when … well, when I need to … imagine.  When I need to imagine that there is hope for this world, when I need to believe that humans will eventually find their better side, will begin to care someday, care about others, care about the land, about all living creatures.  Today is the 19th anniversary of the horror that would become known as 9/11.  2,977 people died on that day, more than 400 of them police and firefighters.  Since then, hundreds more rescue workers have lost their lives as a result of the toxicity at Ground Zero. But, we lost more than human lives that day.  We lost … I think that was the day we all came to realize, though even today we would deny it, that “Peace on earth” is a myth that will never be realized.  We came to realize, I think, that … nothing would ever be quite the same again, and that no, it won’t all be okay.  But we want to still believe … I think we must still believe, else … what is the point in it all?  And so, my friends, I give you John Lennon and his view of … a better world.

Imagine
John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management

No Longer The Country We Think We Are

Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times today speaks for itself …


‘We’re No. 28! And Dropping!’

A measure of social progress finds that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decade, even as it has risen almost everywhere else.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

This should be a wake-up call: New data suggest that the United States is one of just a few countries worldwide that is slipping backward.

The newest Social Progress Index, shared with me before its official release Thursday morning, finds that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s.

“The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation, and we hope it will be a call to action,” Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index, told me. “It’s like we’re a developing country.”

The index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists, collects 50 metrics of well-being — nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and more — to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom, with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind.

The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.

“We are no longer the country we like to think we are,” said Porter.

The United States ranks No. 1 in the world in quality of universities, but No. 91 in access to quality basic education. The U.S. leads the world in medical technology, yet we are No. 97 in access to quality health care.

The Social Progress Index finds that Americans have health statistics similar to those of people in Chile, Jordan and Albania, while kids in the United States get an education roughly on par with what children get in Uzbekistan and Mongolia. A majority of countries have lower homicide rates, and most other advanced countries have lower traffic fatality rates and better sanitation and internet access.

The United States has high levels of early marriage — most states still allow child marriage in some circumstances — and lags in sharing political power equally among all citizens. America ranks a shameful No. 100 in discrimination against minorities.

The data for the latest index predates Covid-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the United States and seems likely to exacerbate the slide in America’s standing. One new study suggests that in the United States, symptoms of depression have risen threefold since the pandemic began — and poor mental health is associated with other risk factors for well-being.

Michael Green, the C.E.O. of the group that puts out the Social Progress Index, notes that the coronavirus will affect health, longevity and education, with the impact particularly large in both the United States and Brazil. The equity and inclusiveness measured by the index seem to help protect societies from the virus, he said.

“Societies that are inclusive, tolerant and better educated are better able to manage the pandemic,” Green said.

The decline of the United States over the last decade in this index — more than any country in the world — is a reminder that we Americans face structural problems that predate President Trump and that festered under leaders of both parties. Trump is a symptom of this larger malaise, and also a cause of its acceleration.

David G. Blanchflower, a Dartmouth economist, has new research showing that the share of Americans reporting in effect that every day is a bad mental health day has doubled over 25 years. “Rising distress and despair are largely American phenomenon not observed in other advanced countries,” Blanchflower told me.

This decline is deeply personal for me: As I’ve written, a quarter of the kids on my old No. 6 school bus in rural Oregon are now dead from drugs, alcohol and suicide — what are called “deaths of despair.” I lost one friend to a heroin overdose this spring and have had more friends incarcerated than I could possibly count; the problems are now self-replicating in the next generation because of the dysfunction in some homes.

You as taxpayers paid huge sums to imprison my old friends; the money would have been far better invested educating them, honing their job skills or treating their addictions.

That’s why this is an election like that of 1932. That was the year American voters decisively rejected Herbert Hoover’s passivity and gave Franklin Roosevelt an electoral mandate — including a flipped Senate — that laid the groundwork for the New Deal and the modern middle class. But first we need to acknowledge the reality that we are on the wrong track.

We Americans like to say “We’re No. 1.” But the new data suggest that we should be chanting, “We’re No. 28! And dropping!”

Let’s wake up, for we are no longer the country we think we are.

So, Why Are You Voting in the 2020 Election?

I think most everyone who reads my blog plans to vote this year, but there are still, believe it or not, some who think it’s not worth their time or trouble! Our friend TokyoSand reminds us that when we ask people to explain why they aren’t going to vote, they may ask us why we ARE planning to. Think on that one for a minute … how would you answer? Thanks TS for a thought-provoking post!

Source: So, Why Are You Voting in the 2020 Election?