Rainy Day Thoughts

Just a few thoughts on this rainy Sunday afternoon …


No longer should we be shocked or even surprised by man’s inhumanity to man, for we have seen enough instances of it to know it exists.  Humans have great capacity for love, but for many there are too many conditions placed on that love, and their capacity for cruelty and hatred is even greater than their capacity for love.


You may not have heard about the teacher in Pflugerville, Texas (yes, there really is a town by that name, but don’t ask me to pronounce it!) who was fired a couple of weeks ago.  Why?  Because of the conversation he had with his class of 6th grade children …

Teacher: “Deep down in my heart, I’m ethnocentric, which means I think my race is the superior one.”

Student: “So White is better than all?”

Teacher: “Let me finish. I think everybody thinks that. They’re just not honest about it.”

Student: “You said you are a racist, right?”

Teacher: “I did, yeah, I’m trying to be honest.”

When a student asked him to repeat what he had just said, he lashed out …

Teacher: “I said, ‘I am a racist.’ That’s what I said. Do you know what that means?”

My jaw dropped when I read that! Those kids were 12-13 years old! This man was never fit to be a teacher, to be alone with a group of children at all!!!  Does this man believe that being a racist is something to be proud of?  Somebody, presumably one of the students, recorded the incident and when parents found out, naturally they were outraged and reported the conversation to the school board, who promptly fired the unnamed teacher the following Monday. How many more teachers are of the same belief, and while perhaps are not as blatant about it, subtly allow their racism to bleed into their interactions with their classes?


On Wednesday, I was at my local Kroger grocery store picking up a few last-minute things for Thanksgiving dinner.  As I was trying to reach something on a high shelf, a man literally pushed me aside to get by me.  Surprisingly, I remained cool, calm and collected, saying only loudly enough for him to hear me, “Oh, that’s okay … just shove me aside, for I’m sure that you are so much more important than I am.”  He glanced back at me and nodded.  Yes, he nodded!  No, I didn’t throw anything at him, but merely rolled my eyes and muttered an obscenity under my breath.


We have so many different ‘hate groups’ in this country that I’ve lost count of them all, media figures and even church pastors are preaching hate and inciting violence.  Pair that with the gun culture that has suddenly run amok and … is it any wonder that we must look over our shoulders in any public venue, and cross our fingers when we send our children to school in hopes that they will return in one piece rather than in a body bag?

There is a saying that “Politics makes strange bedfellows,” but the opposite is also true … it makes enemies of people who would ordinarily be friends, drives a wedge between people whose goals, hopes and dreams are really the same, but they are blinded by the loud voices telling them that the paths to their dreams are different.  Would that we humans were smart enough to realize that we are being manipulated, not for our own good, but for the wealth and power of the already wealthy and powerful.  Would that we realized that we are all – regardless of skin colour, gender identity, religion, or ethnidity – in this world together and it is only when we pull together that we can make progress toward making the world a better place.

“United we stand.  Divided we fall.” – Winston Churchill

Robin Hood Reversal

Hypocrisy abounds in the United States.  Take, for one example, those who call themselves ‘pro-life’.  They will take away women’s rights in order to ensure that a fetus, that may or may not turn into an actual human life, is protected, sometimes at the cost of the woman’s life, yet they will go out and shoot innocent animals, not for food, but simply for the ‘pleasure’ of killing, of taking a life.  Oh … you say it’s only human life they are ‘pro’?  Well, let’s delve a little deeper there.

Many of the very same ones who call themselves ‘pro-life’ support the death penalty, whereby at some point we could take the life of a perfectly innocent human who will later be exonerated … but he cannot be freed, for he is dead.  They rail against tax dollars being used in support of single mothers struggling to buy food to feed those babies that the ‘pro-lifers’ insisted they have.  They also stand firm for unlimited guns in the hands of any who want them, claiming it is a “god-given” right.  Guns, I might remind you, have a singular purpose:  to kill, to take those lives that these people claim to be protecting.  ‘Pro-life’ is really nothing more than anti-women.  Call a spade a bloody shovel, as my friend Mary says.

Perhaps one of the greatest hypocrisies that abound in the U.S. today is the attitude of some toward immigrants.  I would bet money that every single person who wants to ‘build a wall’ or ‘shut down the border’ is the child of immigrant ancestry.  Their grandparents or great-great-great grandparents – someone from their family tree came to this country from another seeking freedoms or opportunities they were deprived of in their ancestral land.  And yet, when people are knocking on the door at our southern border or seeking admission from a Middle Eastern nation, the people of this nation would turn them away.  Too bad the Indigenous People of North America didn’t have the wherewithal to turn away those who came to our shores in the 16th and 17th centuries and beyond!

As a child, I was told that ‘America’ is the land of opportunity, the ‘Land of milk and honey’, the land where you can grow up to be anything you want.  And that’s true for the mostly-white, mostly-male millionaires and billionaires, but for the rest of us … we have an opportunity to try to survive as best we can.  Dodge the bullets, folks, keep your head down and work your ass off and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to afford to pay your rent and buy groceries next week.

And speaking of those wealthy people … here’s a statistic that will blow your mind.  19,000 – The number of Americans who made at least $1 million in 2020 who also collected unemployment assistance that year, according to new IRS data. That included 4,500 people who earned between $5 million and $10 million and 229 people with eight-figure incomes or more.  Think on that one for just a minute … a person whose total salary in 2020, the year of the pandemic when people were in serious danger of going hungry or losing their homes, was over a million dollars, got an additional $13,900 from our taxpayer dollars!!!  Not just one person but 19,000 millionaires got extra money from We the People.  Talk about hypocrisy!!!  That anyone who had already made $1 million or more that year, or had millions in the bank, would even apply for unemployment benefits is the lowest of low.

Certain members of Congress are hoping to be able to cut Social Security and Medicare soon … programs that we working people have paid into every day of our working lives … but there is no mention of cutting their own pensions or salaries or perks.  I call it Robin Hood Reversal … rob from the poor to give to the rich.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 11/26

My mind seems not to have yet recovered from the Thanksgiving holiday and I can’t even seem to figure out what day of the week it is, much less put fingers to keyboard to write a reasonably coherent post.  But that’s okay — fortunately the cartoonists have my back and are as sharp as ever!  Our friend TokyoSand is also right on top of things and has searched the world over via the internet to find the best of the best.  Needless to say, Elon Musk heads the list of things that go ‘bump’ in the night, but there are plenty of others, as well.  So, without further ado, heeeeeeeeere’s TokyoSand …


As a heavy Twitter user for the past 6+ years, forgive me for all the cartoons about Twitter. It has been an important place to share news and opinions, and it’s hard to watch it overrun with trolls, especially its CEO. But there was other political news, which you’ll find covered below.…

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons!

My Thoughts On Thanksgiving This Year

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S.  The origins of this day mean nothing to me, for they are based on lies, on the whitewashing of the factual history of the nation.  However, I still treasure the day for other reasons.  It is a time to stop for a minute, to remember the things that most of us have to be thankful for, starting with family & friends.  But this year feels different to me.  I am sad.  I feel guilty that I do have so much to be thankful for.  I have my family, small though it is, and wonderful friends, all of you included.  I have electricity and can keep my house reasonably warm or cool, can keep my food cold in the fridge and then cook it in the oven.  I have hot and cold running water and plenty of it.  I have a car that runs.  We have enough money to pay our bills and still have a bit left over at the end of the month.  So yes, I am thankful, but I still feel guilty when I think of all the people, both here and elsewhere, who have none of those things.

In Ukraine, winter is setting in and many residents have no electricity, no water.  Some have lost their homes to Russian bombs.  Some have lost their spouses, their children and grandchildren. Can you imagine living under those conditions?  And apart from donating a few dollars here and there, there is little to nothing that most of us can do to help.

Even here in the U.S., often referred to as a wealthy nation, more than a half-million people are living on the streets or in homeless shelters.  37.9 million people in this country are living in poverty … that’s 11.6% of the population!  6.6 million people worldwide have died of Covid since March 2020.  Imagine how many grieving friends and family members they have left behind.

Then there is the rise in all forms of bigotry … LGBTQ people being shoved back into the proverbial closet, Black people being murdered simply because of the colour of their skin, women being stripped of their rights, and religious extremism threatening to invade the very foundation of human rights.

So yes, I feel guilty.  I am no better than a homeless person, no better than a person in Ukraine, so why should I be enjoying a veritable feast with my family and good friends, while others suffer so much?  It isn’t a perfect world, but frankly … the world could be a whole lot better if governments worked together to solve problems instead of creating them, if those who can afford to shared their wealth with others less fortunate, and if everyone set aside petty differences to work for the collective good.

That said … it is not my intent to be dreary and depressing.  We will be celebrating Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the al-Dabbagh family.  They came to this country as refugees from Iraq about 10 years ago, and almost immediately we became close friends.  They are warm and loving people and we do so enjoy sharing cultures, food, and much joy with them.  They have a new baby, Naya, this year who is just 3 months old, so I’ll get to spend time spoiling her!  I don’t suggest that we all shouldn’t have a great holiday, but I just wanted to share with you some of my own thoughts, my feelings that despite our troubles, we all have so much to be thankful for.

And on that note, I wish all my friends in the U.S. a very happy holiday with friends & family (and turkey), and to the rest, I just wish you a happy day.  I will be busy cooking for our two families (9 people in total), so I won’t likely have an afternoon post nor be answering comments today, but I will try to get caught up on Friday.  Love ‘n hugs to you all!

And Yet Again …

I have not yet written about the horrific massacre in Colorado that left 5 people dead and 25 injured, not because I had nothing to say, but rather because I have too much to say.  Meanwhile, Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner have said it for me, and in a much better way than I could have, for mine would have been a rant.  I will, no doubt, have more of my own words on this subject sometime soon, once I can stop 🤬.


Guns and Hatred

Once more

Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner

22 November 2022

Guns and hatred collide once more.

Peace is broken; lives are shattered.

Again we see the pictures and learn the names of those who have been slaughtered.

“Authorities are trying to determine a motive.” But the broader narrative is already known.

Those who feed the hate, stoke the vitriol, and profit off of our divisions hide behind meaningless expressions of thoughts and prayers. For them, there is no pause for reflection, no sense that we can do better.

Anger, waves of anger, sweep over a deep trench of hopelessness.

We have mourned before, and we surely will again.

A cycle repeats. The words we uttered for the last tragedy could be reprised for this one, and likely the one to come.

In what sane world do we accept a national impotence in the face of unending bloodshed? None.

Why do we demonize people for how they express their love for others? Or for what they look like? Or for how they pray?

Why is celebrating our common humanity not enough?

What do we tell our children? How do we teach them?

Hate is learned, and it is being taught.

If we are honest with our history, we know that hatred has been a constant in our national story. But so too have attempts to rise above it, to make progress toward a more just and equitable nation, to strive for that “more perfect union.”

We celebrate acts of heroism. We find support in our collective grief. But we should never accept this murderous hostility to our diversity. Our national strength is rooted in our differences. We are all at our best when we support each other.

Far too many continue to live in fear because of who they are. This fear is not an accident or unintentional. There are powerful people in this country who base their power on the ability to frighten.

Cultivated terror is a poison that infects our society. Once unleashed, it is impossible to control. It easily explodes in violence, as it did in Colorado Springs. There will be another set of charges to mark, another court case to cover, another verdict to await. But we can already pass a verdict on a society that allows this to continue.

Completely eliminating cultivated hate and violence is not possible, but we can drastically reduce it — if only enough Americans unite to make it happen.

Club Q

Short, sweet, and to the point … words of wisdom from across the pond.

Coalition of the Brave

Six years ago, Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, came under attack by a gun-toting lunatic, who killed 49 people at the LGBT venue. On Saturday, Club Q in Colorado Springs, came under attack from a maniac, and five people are confirmed to have lost their lives, thanks to a combination of the strange attitude towards guns in the US, and prejudice against the LGBT community.

The situation is still evolving, but it seems likely this attack was motivated by homophobia. It was made possible by easy access to deadly weapons, and a culture that worships guns. We hear the usual arguments, namely that guns are necessary to oppose tyranny, but how many lives have been sacrificed in the name of that particular philosophy, versus how many tyrants removed from power in the US? When does the culture of gun love change?

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We Cannot Abandon Them!!!

One of my biggest concerns about Republicans holding a majority, albeit a small one, in the House of Representatives next year is the threat that I’ve heard bandied about that they would cut off all future funding to Ukraine.  Some claim we “need to move on from Ukraine”, but how do you just abandon an entire nation of people?  It breaks my heart to think that this nation would simply stop aiding Ukraine, leaving them to almost certain takeover by Russia, and at the cost of how many lives?  And then yesterday I came across this piece by two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and recently-returned New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof.  This article shows us why we must continue to support Ukraine, why anything else is unthinkable from a humanitarian perspective.  The article is a bit long, so I will share only a portion here, but I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the rest.


I Went to Ukraine, and I Saw a Resolve That We Should Learn From

By Nicholas Kristof

Photographs by Emile Ducke

16 November 2022

IZIUM, Ukraine — Inna Osipova pointed to the 30-foot pile of rubble that is all that’s left of her apartment building. She and her 5-year-old son narrowly escaped when Russian shelling destroyed the structure, but her grandmother did not and is interred somewhere in the wreckage. Osipova hopes her body will be found so she can be given a proper burial.

Her voice cracked with emotion, but she held together until I asked what she thought of Americans who say it’s time to move on from supporting Ukraine.

“We’re people, you understand,” she said, and she began weeping. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Ukrainian or American — such things should not happen.” And then she was crying too hard to continue.

“We’re people, you understand,” said Inna Osipova, in front of the ruins of her apartment building, which entombs her grandmother. “It doesn’t matter if we’re Ukrainian or American — such things should not happen.”

These areas in northeastern Ukraine, recently liberated after months of Russian occupation, show what’s at stake as some Americans and Europeans seek to trim assistance for Ukraine. There are bombed-out buildings, survivors cooking over open fires outside, children injured by land mines, freshly vacated Russian torture chambers — 23 discovered so far here in the Kharkiv region alone — along with mass graves of corpses with hands tied and shattered limbs.

“Right now people are finding graves everywhere in the villages,” said Tamara Kravchenko, who runs the only funeral home still operating in Izium. “The Russians would often just throw dirt on bodies where they killed them. Every day we find someone.”

“We will be dealing with this for a long time,” she added.

While President Vladimir Putin of Russia seems unable to break the spirit of Ukrainians, he is already shattering the will of some Americans and Europeans.

“Under Republicans, not another penny will go to Ukraine,” says Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the firebrand Republican. The Republican leader in the House, Kevin McCarthy, says that it’s time to end the “blank check” for Ukraine. A Wall Street Journal poll published this month found that 48 percent of Republicans believe the United States is doing too much to help Ukraine, up from 6 percent in March. On the American left and in Germany and France, there are also signs of impatience, though fewer.

“I’m not afraid that Ukrainians will tire of being attacked by missiles but that people in other countries will say, ‘Enough. Time to turn the page,’” said Oleksandr Danylyuk, 47, a former minister of finance who signed up to be a soldier after the Russian invasion in February, was injured in June and is now recovering.

He’s right. Buck up, America and Europe! And take some inspiration from Ukrainians themselves. I see people here suffering enormous hardship — yet ever more determined to fight back.

Anastasia Blyshchyk, 26, was a television journalist whose boyfriend, Oleksandr Makhov, enlisted as a soldier immediately after Putin invaded. After reaching the front, Makhov proposed to her by video call, jokingly proffering a ring from a grenade. “Yes!” she said, and they giddily planned what to name their children.

Then Makhov was killed in May by Russian fire — and Blyshchyk signed up to be a soldier herself. I met her on an icy afternoon near her base. She may have felt shattered, but she projected strength, wearing body armor and walking carefully to avoid land mines. “Follow in my footsteps,” she advised.

Anastasia Blyshchyk, a former television journalist, joined the military after her boyfriend was killed in combat. “They killed the man I love,” she said. “Of course I’m here.”

“Today is exactly six months since Oleksandr was killed,” she said, quivering but not teary. “I’ve promised myself I won’t cry.”

I asked her why she enlisted to fight the Russians.

“They killed the man I love,” she said simply. “Of course I’m here.”

Please do take the time to read the rest, for it is both interesting and informative.

A Beacon of Light and Hope

Yesterday was a red-letter day for human rights in the U.S. Senate.  The senate passed a bill, the Respect for Marriage Act (RFMA), that, if it passes in the House of Representatives, will codify protection for same-sex marriage.  Now, that in itself is an accomplishment worthy of a big WHOO HOO!!!  But even more encouraging, the bill was passed by a margin of 62-37 with 12 Republicans voting in favour!  I had been reading for days about the Republican/conservative backlash against this bill, so when I heard that 12 Republicans voted to protect same-sex marriage, I was stunned … in a good way!

Republican Susan Collins joined forces with Democrat Tammy Baldwin and worked across the aisle to rally support for this bill.  Those Republicans who voted in favour deserve recognition.  In addition to Susan Collins, they are …

  • Rob Portman (Ohio)
  • Thom Tillis (N.C.)
  • Mitt Romney (Utah)
  • Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
  • Roy Blunt (Mo.)
  • Richard Burr (N.C.)
  • Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.)
  • Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.)
  • Dan Sullivan (Alaska)
  • Joni Ernst (Iowa)
  • Todd Young (Ind.)

Thank you, Senators!

The RFMA repeals the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law that bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages.  It also requires that every state recognize a valid same-sex marriage.  It does fall short of requiring that every state issue licenses for same-sex marriages. The reason for this distinction is to keep the bill from being overridden by the Supreme Court who has previously ruled that the federal government cannot “commandeer” states to enforce federal laws or pass specific statutes. If Congress compelled states to license same-sex marriages, the judiciary would invalidate the law as a violation of this anti-commandeering doctrine.

There has been a very real concern that the Supreme Court is poised to strike down Obergefell v Hodges, the case that requires states to license and recognize same-sex marriages.  Once signed into law, the Respect for Marriage Act will make it more difficult for the Court to overturn the 2015 decision.

As an added bonus, the bill would also protect inter-racial marriages if the ultra-conservative, backward-looking Supreme Court were to decide to overturn the 1967 ruling in Loving v Virginia the ruling that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Next, the bill moves to the House where it is expected to pass, possibly by the end of this week.  If they table it until January, it will be doomed to fail, but at present there is no reason to think it won’t pass the House and be signed into law by President Biden at least by the end of the year.  Score one for human rights, for civil rights, for LGBTQ rights!  Score one for bipartisanship.

Time To Kick The Rubbish To The Curb

Will this year’s mid-term election finally break the grip the former guy has had on both the Republican Party and the media?  Somehow I doubt it, but time will tell, and for the record I certainly hope so.  Jamelle Bouie, writing for the New York Times has a few thoughts on the topic that I found interesting and share-worthy …


Republican Elites Might Be Done With Trump

By Jamelle Bouie

12 November 2022

After the results of Tuesday’s election, where Trump-inspired and Trump-backed candidates went down to defeat across the country, Republican elites are desperate to make Ron DeSantis happen. It makes sense. This right-wing, pugilistic governor of Florida won a smashing victory in his race for a second term, albeit against a lackluster opponent — the former governor and perennial candidate Charlie Crist — and a moribund, uninspired Florida Democratic Party. But a 20-point margin is still a 20-point margin, even if you run virtually unopposed.

DeSantis, for his part, has national ambitions. He wants to sell himself to voters as the nation’s foremost defender of freedom (terms and conditions apply). He wants to lead the Republican Party back to the White House. And many of the most influential conservatives are eager to hand him the reins. But first, they have to clear the field.

Which is why the morning after Election Day saw a full-scale assault on Donald Trump’s position as leader of the Republican Party. The Wall Street Journal, for example, ran an editorial blasting him as “the Republican Party’s biggest loser” and urging Republicans to move on from the former president.

“Trump is a bust for Republicans,” wrote Rich Lowry, editor in chief of National Review, for Politico magazine. “He picked the candidates who lost. He helped make himself an issue. He changed what should have been a pure referendum on Joe Biden into what was more of a choice between Biden and a Trumpified Republican Party that couldn’t make itself palatable enough to suburbanites and independents.”

Even Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, took a (veiled) shot. “Conservatives are elected when we deliver,” he said on Twitter. “Not when we just rail on social media.”

There is a good case to make that all of this will work. The chief problem for Republican elites in 2016 was that they could not coordinate around a single candidate for president. In the absence of a figure who could unite the entire party establishment, Trump steamrollered through the competition, even if he never claimed a majority of Republican primary voters.

A unified party establishment is a powerful thing, and there’s real reason to think that Republican elites could muscle Trump out of his position if they committed to the aggressive, scorched-earth tactics it would take.

But there’s an issue. The idea that Republican elites could simply swap Trump for another candidate without incurring any serious damage rests on two assumptions: First, that Trump’s supporters are more committed to the Republican Party than they are to him, and second, that Trump himself will give up the fight if he isn’t able to win the party’s nomination.

I think these assumptions show a fundamental misunderstanding of the world Republican elites brought into being when they finally bent the knee to Trump in the summer and fall of 2016. Trump isn’t simply a popular (with Republicans) politician with an unusually enthusiastic group of supporters. No, he leads a cult of personality, in which he is an almost messianic figure, practically sent by God himself to purge the United States of liberals (and other assorted enemies) and restore the nation to greatness. He is practically worshiped by a large and politically influential group of Americans, who describe him as “anointed.”

It is one thing for Republican elites to try to break a political fandom. It is another thing entirely to try to break the influence of a man whose strongest, most devoted supporters were willing to sack the Capitol or sacrifice their lives in an attack on an F.B.I. office. Some Trump supporters will leave the fold for an alternative like DeSantis, but there will be a hard-core group who came to the Republican Party for Trump, and won’t settle for another candidate.

This gets to the second assumption: the idea that Trump would go quietly if he lost the nomination to DeSantis or another rival. Donald Trump might have been a Republican president, but he isn’t really a Republican. What I mean is that he shows no particular commitment to the fortunes of the party as an institution. His relationship to the Republican Party is purely instrumental. He also cannot admit defeat, as you may have noticed.

There is a real chance that Trump, if he loses the nomination, decides to run for president anyway. And if he pulls any fraction of his supporters away from the Republican Party, he would play the spoiler, no matter who the party tried to elevate against him. Republican elites might be done with Trump, but Trump is not done with the Republican Party.

Half a dozen plus heroes to think about today – an updated post of a few years ago

Time to look away from elections for a few minutes and take a look at some real-life heroes that our friend Keith is shining a light on today. Thank you, Keith, for such an inspiring post, for showing us the courage of those who have truly earned the title ‘hero’.

musingsofanoldfart

My wife and I watched the movie “Harriet” on Friday about the American hero Harriet Tubman. She helped over 300 slaves find their way to freedom. Her courage, tenacity, faith and smarts are highly commendable. The movie is excellent and quite moving.

It got me thiking about a few other heroes. Let me mention three more historical heroes who need more notoriety, before I close with two current ones who deserve the shout out.

I have written before about Alan Turing, the father of modern day computing. He led a team that cracked the Nazi Enigma code used in secret transmissions. Allied Commander General Dwight Eisenhower said Turing and his team helped shorten the war by two years and save 750,000 lives. Sadly, Turing had to hide the fact he was gay and was later imprisoned after his sexual preferences were discovered. What if they had discovered he was gay…

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