So Many Fools …

I’ve got a bit of a snarky buildup this morning and I thought I’d share some of the things that are weighing on my mind … why should I keep such fun to myself, right?

Three organizations have now issued warnings about travel to the state of Florida.  Last month, Equality Florida, a gay rights advocacy group issued a travel advisory for LGBTQ people, on Wednesday the League of United Latin American Citizens issued an advisory for people of Hispanic descent, and on Friday, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) issued a warning that it is no longer safe for Black people to travel to or within Florida.  This, in addition to all the other crap (book bans, ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws, discrimination, the Disney vs DeSantis feud, downgrading education, etc.) happening in Florida under their authoritarian governor, Ron DeSantis, has got to be a severe blow to the state whose economy relies heavily on tourism.

In part, the advisory by the NAACP reads …

“… the governor and the state of Florida have shown that African Americans are not welcome in the state of Florida.”

Ron DeSantis seems to want a straight, white state – well, it looks like he’s about to get his wish.  Only thing is that it will likely cut the state’s revenue by more than half.  Watch for unemployment numbers to go through the ceiling and the state to be unable to fund the programs to help people.  Way to go, DeSantis!  Perhaps at some point the people of Florida will look around and say, “Wha-what happened?  We thought he was gonna make Florida great again?”

The name of U.S. Representative Barry Loudermilk has only crossed my radar one other time … when it was revealed that he had given an unofficial tour (tours were banned during that time because of the pandemic) of the Capitol the day before  January 6th, 2021 – a tour that included such areas as stairwells used only by members of Congress that are typically off-limits to the public.

A still from a video that shows a tour on 5 January 2021 led by Barry Loudermilk. Why is this guy taking a picture of a stairwell?  Photograph: US House of Representatives Jan/ZUMA Press Wire Service/REX/Shutterstock

Video of January 6th shows one of the men from that tour marching toward the Capitol on January 6th, saying: “There’s no escape Pelosi, Schumer, Nadler. We’re coming for you.”

But yesterday, Mr. Loudermilk came crashing back onto my radar and nearly cracked my screen!

Mr. Loudermilk is allegedly ‘investigating’ the events of January 6th, but in fact is investigating the Capitol Police and the members of the January 6th committee who did such an excellent job at folding back the layers and showing us the people involved at every level.  In March, he set up a portal for people to submit tips from “individuals with knowledge of the events of January 6th and the Select Committee” about the security of the Capitol, delay in support from the National Guard and more.

If Mr. Loudermilk wishes to know more about January 6th, all he has to do is read the 752-page final report by the January 6th committee that was published last December.  But no … he must play cloak-and-dagger games with taxpayer dollars.  Yet another Pennywise the Clown in the Republican House.

My representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, Warren Davidson, sent out his usual weekly newsletter on Monday.  One part reads …

Freedom surrendered is rarely reclaimed, yet it must be restored to protect our constitutional Second Amendment rights. This week, I joined my friend and colleague Lauren Boebert by cosponsoring the Shall Not Be Infringed Act of 2023. This legislation repeals gun control measures passed under Democratic control and supported by Joe Biden last year. The Second Amendment is essential to defending our freedom. Read more about our legislation as reported by Newsmax here .

So damn much to stir the angst here!  First, it speaks volumes that the ignoble Lauren Boebert is his ‘friend’ and that they are co-conspirators in anything!  But more to the point, that he would seek to repeal the small amount of gun legislation that has been passed in the last year-and-a-half is simply unspeakable!  Children are getting killed by guns in schools, people are being killed by guns in the supermarkets, malls, in their neighborhoods and on the streets!  And this bastard wants to repeal the milquetoast legislation passed last year that did damn little to solve the problems to start with???  I hope his and Lauren’s bill goes down in flames, never to be seen again.  And the third thing that infuriated me was his take on the Second Amendment … has he not even read the U.S. Constitution???  Does he not understand that there is NO blanket right for the average Joe to own a gun???  And he associates himself with Newsmax, of all things???  This ‘man’ has no intelligence, no conscience, no common sense, and he does NOT belong in Congress!

Whew!  And on that note, I think I’ve shared enough angst for one morning, don’t you?  Happy Tuesday, my friends!

Bob Shepherd: Are Trump and His Allies Fascists?

I tread softly when it comes to making comparisons to Donald Trump & Hitler, to trumpism and fascism, for it can often sound like sour grapes, like hyperbole. But last Friday, Diane Ravitch dedicated the bulk of one post to Bob Shepherd, one of the wisest men I know of, and his post about the comparisons of Trump and his ideology, if he can be said to have one, vs that of fascist leaders in the past, primarily Hitler. I think he makes his point quite well. The post is a bit long, but fascinating and thought-provoking, so I really hope you’ll take the time to read it. Thank you, Diane and Bob!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Bob Shepherd is a polymath and a daily reader of the blog. He has been involved in every aspect of educational publishing, and most recently, he was a teacher in Florida. He graciously offered to help me with two of my books—The Language Police and Slaying Goliath—by carefully editing them before they were turned in to the publisher. And we have never met!

He wrote on his own blog:

A few years back, a friend, someone whom I respect, challenged me on Facebook, saying that Trump might be a lot of things, but he wasn’t an actual Fascist. Well, I beg to differ. If it steps like a goose, . . .

Here are a few of the clear signs that, yes, Fascist is precisely the term to describe Trump, his supporters, and those who wish to assume the orange mantle:

Alliance with other Fascists/Authoritarians. D.T. allied himself…

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Four Freedoms??? Hmmmmm … 🤔

On January 6th, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave his State of the Union Address.  This speech would come to be known as the Four Freedoms Speech, for he talked at some length about the four freedoms he believed that people “everywhere in the world” ought to enjoy:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of worship
  • Freedom from want
  • Freedom from fear

Today, the Republican Party has its own set of ‘four freedoms’ that are not nearly so noble as were those of President Roosevelt.  New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie explains …

The Four Freedoms, According to Republicans

Jamelle Bouie

19 May 2023

On Tuesday, Republicans in North Carolina overrode Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto to pass a strict limit on bodily autonomy in the form of a 12-week abortion ban.

In addition to this new limit on abortion, the law extends the waiting period for people seeking abortions to 72 hours and puts onerous new rules on clinics. As intended, the net effect is to limit access to abortion and other reproductive health services to everyone but those with the time and resources to seek care outside the state.

North Carolina Republicans are obviously not the only ones fighting to ban, limit or restrict the right to bodily autonomy, whether abortion or gender-affirming health care for transgender people. All across the country, Republicans have passed laws to do exactly that wherever they have the power to do so, regardless of public opinion in their states or anywhere else. The war on bodily autonomy is a critical project for nearly the entire G.O.P., pursued with dedication by Republicans from the lowliest state legislator to the party’s powerful functionaries on the Supreme Court.

You might even say that in the absence of a national leader with a coherent ideology and agenda, the actions of Republican-led states and legislatures provide the best guide to what the Republican Party wants to do and the best insight into the society it hopes to build.

I have already made note of the attack on bodily autonomy, part of a larger effort to restore traditional hierarchies of gender and sexuality. What else is on the Republican Party’s agenda, if we use those states as our guide to the party’s priorities?

There is the push to free business from the suffocating grasp of child labor laws. Republican lawmakers in Arkansas, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio have advanced legislation to make it easier for children as young as 14 to work more hours, work without a permit and be subjected to more dangerous working conditions. The reason to loosen child labor laws — as a group of Wisconsin Republicans explained in a memo in support of a bill that would allow minors to serve alcohol at restaurants — is to deal with a shortage of low-wage workers in those states.

There are other ways to solve this problem — you could raise wages, for one — but in addition to making life easier for the midsize-capitalist class that is the material backbone of Republican politics, freeing businesses to hire underage workers for otherwise adult jobs would undermine organized labor and public education, two bêtes noires of the conservative movement.

Elsewhere in the country, Republican-led legislatures are placing harsh limits on what teachers and other educators can say in the classroom about American history or the existence of L.G.B.T.Q. people. This week in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill that bans discussion in general education courses at public institutions of “theories that systemic racism, sexism, oppression and privilege are inherent in the institutions of the United States and were created to maintain social, political and economic inequities.” He also signed a bill that prohibits state colleges and universities from spending on diversity, equity and inclusion programs beyond what is necessary to retain accreditation as educational institutions.

Nationwide, Republicans in at least 18 states have passed laws or imposed bans designed to keep discussion of racial discrimination, structural inequality and other divisive concepts out of classrooms and far away from students.

Last but certainly not least is the Republican effort to make civil society a shooting gallery. Since 2003, Republicans in 25 states have introduced and passed so-called constitutional carry laws, which allow residents to have concealed weapons in public without a permit. In most of those states, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, it is also legal to openly carry a firearm in public without a permit.

Republicans have also moved aggressively to expand the scope of “stand your ground” laws, which erode the longstanding duty to retreat in favor of a right to use deadly force in the face of perceived danger. These laws, which have been cited to defend shooters in countless cases, such as George Zimmerman in 2013, are associated with a moderate increase in firearm homicide rates, according to a 2022 study published in JAMA Network Open. Republicans, however, say they are necessary.

“If someone tries to kill you, you should have the right to return fire and preserve your life,” said Representative Matt Gaetz, who introduced a national “stand your ground” bill this month. “It’s time to reaffirm in law what exists in our Constitution and in the hearts of our fellow Americans,” he added. “We must abolish the legal duty of retreat everywhere.”

It should be said as well that some Republicans want to protect gun manufacturers and dealers from lawsuits. Gov. Bill Lee of Tennessee did just that this month — after a shooting in Nashville killed six people, including three children, in March — signing a bill that gives additional protections to the gun industry.

What should we make of all this? In his 1941 State of the Union address, Franklin Roosevelt said there was “nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy” and that he, along with the nation, looked forward to “a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.” Famously, those freedoms were the “freedom of speech and expression,” the “freedom of every person to worship God in his own way,” the “freedom from want” and the “freedom from fear.” Those freedoms were the guiding lights of his New Deal, and they remained the guiding lights of his administration through the trials of World War II.

There are, I think, four freedoms we can glean from the Republican program.

There is the freedom to control — to restrict the bodily autonomy of women and repress the existence of anyone who does not conform to traditional gender roles.

There is the freedom to exploit — to allow the owners of business and capital to weaken labor and take advantage of workers as they see fit.

There is the freedom to censor — to suppress ideas that challenge and threaten the ideologies of the ruling class.

And there is the freedom to menace — to carry weapons wherever you please, to brandish them in public, to turn the right of self-defense into a right to threaten other people.

Roosevelt’s four freedoms were the building blocks of a humane society — a social democratic aspiration for egalitarians then and now. These Republican freedoms are also building blocks not of a humane society but of a rigid and hierarchical one, in which you can either dominate or be dominated.

Filosofa’s Meandering Mind …

What Is R.E.S.P.E.C.T.?

Yesterday, I played Aretha Franklin’s wonderful song, R.E.S.P.E.C.T.  And then, I did my usual perusal of the day’s news and a question began to form in my mind:  What, precisely, is respect?  My first answer was that it is something we have far too little of in this world today.

A quick look at the online dictionary gives two definitions for the word “respect”:

  • a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.
  • due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others.

Both are apt, I think, and certainly there are people who deserve our respect as per the first definition, though we might not agree on who those people are.  But the context in which I typically speak of respect is more aligned with the second definition … which can be simplified by my motto:  Live and Let Live!!!

So, let’s talk about this just a bit.  I’ve written about this before and will no doubt have occasion to write about it again, but I keep trying to understand, and keep hoping to make a difference somehow, even if only to open one mind.

I am a woman and I believe in women’s rights.  I believe in women having the same rights as men to vote, to be treated and compensated fairly in the workplace.  I believe women have just as much right as a man to own property, to divorce her spouse if a marriage isn’t working, and to make her own decisions about her own body.  I believe that a woman has a right to have access to birth control and to have an abortion if she deems that is what’s right for her, just as a man has a right to have a vasectomy if he decides he does not wish to sire children.  This does not, however, mean that I don’t respect women who choose not to have an abortion.  It is every woman’s own personal decision … it is NOT the decision of legislators, governors, and Supreme Court justices – or at least it should not be.  Just because I believe in the right to an abortion does not in any way mean that I would impose my will on your body.  It should, however, work the other way too.

Respect is a two-way street.  IF you expect me to respect your rights, then you must also respect mine … that’s just the way it works.

I am also an atheist, but I am very careful to show respect for other people’s religious beliefs as long as they do not harm anyone.  The law of this land, the U.S. Constitution, provides for freedom of religion … that means you can follow Christianity, Islam, Judaism, or be an atheist … you cannot be discriminated against for it!  But, the law of the land also calls for a “wall of separation between church and state” so that no one religion can become the national religion to the exclusion of all others.  I don’t tell you where to go to church or what to believe, and I respect your right to believe as you wish, but again … it must work the other way, too.  You must, in turn, respect my right to not believe in the religious rites and rituals of any religion.

I keep asking why people are so determined to attempt to force everyone into their own mold, and I think perhaps the answer boils down to fear of the unknown or the misunderstood.  Perhaps people spend so much time living in their narrow enclaves that they do not understand the world and therefore fear it.  Fear is a powerful motivator, and unfortunately people in power, whether political heads or religious heads, know how to use fear to drive hatred.  And We the People, like a herd of cattle, allow ourselves to be driven.

In this country, it is fear of Black people, fear of Muslims, fear of LGBTQ people, that are keeping the country so divided that it is truly a tinderbox just waiting for someone to throw a lit match.  You mind if I let you in on a little secret?  I have Black friends, Muslim friends, gay friends and trans friends, Christian friends, atheist friends, agnostic friends, and Jewish friends, and I love them all … I do not fear any of them.  I respect them, their beliefs, and it is in part our differences that keep our friendships interesting!  We learn from one another!  Wouldn’t the world be a lackluster, boring place if we were all exactly the same?

We need to learn to embrace our differences, to respect others’ rights as we expect them to respect ours, and we need to learn to LIVE AND LET LIVE!!!  If we don’t, we will soon destroy ourselves, destroy the nation from within, and turn it into some dystopian society in which nobody would want to live.

‘Toons, ‘Toons, ‘Toons!!!

As always, the politics of the day are keeping the cartoonists busy, busy, busy!!!  While the situations may be dark and dreary, the cartoonists know how to brighten them up, to explain a situation with just a drip of humour.  So, without further ado, I give you some of the best political cartoons I’ve seen over the past week or so.

This last one isn’t a cartoon, but I still thought it fit in well!

Beavis and Butthead-like

Roger and I have often talked of our mutual blogging buddy, Keith, as being our ‘gold standard’. While Christians have that saying, “What Would Jesus Do?”, or WWJD, Roger and I have one that is WWKS, or “What Would Keith Say?” But despite the fact that he is calmer, more soft-spoken and mild-mannered than people like myself and Roger, he does a fine job of getting the point across, as you will see in his most recent post!


People who follow this blog know I am not a fan of labels or name calling, as I view them as lazy arguments. The user wants you to accept their labeling without debate or further study. It is akin to weaponization of a term that can do the dirty work for the user.

I would prefer to define the actions rather than actor. So the focus should be on the lying not the liar, although it is very hard to separate them sometime. There are occasions where actions are so over-the-top that it is interesting to contrast them to characters who do the same over-the-top actions to illustrate the inappropriateness.

Earlier this month, the former president was found liable to the tune of $5 million for the sexual assault and defamation of E. Jean Carroll. While he is appealing the decision, his own deposition did not help his cause nor…

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This ‘Man’ Is NOT A Hero!!!

Two weeks ago, I was horrified by the murder of a Black homeless man, Jordan Neely, by a white man on a New York subway train.  But then, horror turned to rage when I saw some of the reactions, with people calling Mr. Neely’s murderer a “hero” and then when a GoFundMe account was established for his legal defense, it quickly amassed over $2 million!!!  WHAT THE SAM HELL is wrong with people in this country?  People whine and bitch about the economy, the price of fuel & food, but yet they’ve got money to throw away supporting a murderous white supremacist???  Well, rather than listen to me rant, here is what Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky, two writers/journalists I have a great deal of respect for, have to say on the topic …

Daniel Penny shows how much the right loves white vigilante violence

“Law and order” is often code for white supremacy.

Aaron Rupar and Noah Berlatsky

17 May 2023

Daniel Penny leaves the 5th Precinct in Lower Manhattan on May 12. (Michael Nigro/LightRocket via Getty)

Republicans often present themselves as the law and order party — the ones committed to public safety and fighting crime. But when Daniel Penny choked Jordan Neely to death May 1 aboard the New York City subway, the right did not call for police intervention.

Penny is white and a former Marine. Neely was Black and unhoused, and was talking loudly about how hungry and unhappy he was. Neely was not threatening or assaulting anyone, but Penny put him in a chokehold and killed him. Then when Penny was charged with second-degree manslaughter, the right rose as one to condemn the law.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis described Penny as a “Good Samaritan” and called on conservatives to “stop the Left’s pro-criminal agenda” — though, again, DeSantis was the one defending a man who had allegedly broken the law and been arrested.

Even more crudely, Rep. Matt Gaetz called Penny a “Subway Superman.”

Political scientist and right-wing intellectual Richard Hanania said, referring to Neely and his defenders, “these people are animals” — less a dogwhistle than a dog siren. Meanwhile, New York Times opinion columnist David French, a supposedly reasonable conservative and anti-Trumper, justified Penny’s actions by musing, “What if Penny had done nothing? Would everyone — including Neely — have emerged from that subway car unscathed?” Neely did not threaten anyone or attack anyone. But French twists himself into knots to find a way to claim that the murder was a tragic necessity.

It’s not just politicians and faux intellectuals who have rushed to Penny’s defense. Penny’s legal defense fund has raised more than $2 million from right-wing donors —including from singer Kid Rock, who declared, “Mr. Penny is a hero.”

Not hypocrisy, but consistent racism

You could argue that this is an example of conservative hypocrisy: The GOP claims to support law and order, and then turns around and rallies behind homicidal violence when it’s convenient. They don’t abide by their own principles.

But I think in this case the GOP is upholding their core beliefs. That’s because the law they promise to uphold is the law of white supremacy and impunity, and the order they want to impose is one in which Black people are deferential, on pain of death.

Scholar Frank Wilderson III writes, “White people are not simply ‘protected’ by the police; they are the police.” White people, and whiteness, are the law; Black people are always on the wrong side of it. A white person subjugating a Black person is therefore doing the work of the law, and so of course the “law and order” party rushes to his defense.

For conservatives, racist vigilante violence undertaken by white people isn’t really vigilante violence, because white people are all, in Wilderson’s words, automatically “deputized.”

The law of Dirty Harry

Vigilante violence as white supremacist law has a long pedigree in American history. In the 1830s in New York City, for instance, kidnapping rings seized Black children and transported them into slavery. While these rings were technically outside the law and operated in semi-secret, often they were aided by New York marshals like Isaiah Rynders, and by police and judges who operated what historian Jonathan Daniel Wells referred to as a “reverse underground railroad.”

Like Neely today, Black people in the 1830s in New York were considered an affront to order merely by existing, and white people were empowered to remove them from the city with or without the direct collaboration of law enforcement.

A placard featuring an image of Jordan Neely during a demonstration at NYC’s Washington Square Park on May 5. (Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty)

As before the Civil War, so afterwards. Lynchings in the South in the Jim Crow era were technically illegal. But targets were generally accused of some crime — especially sexual crimes — and so their murders were carried out in the name of law and order. Executions of Black people were often staged on the courthouse lawn as a way of emphasizing their semi-official nature and their supposed enactment of justice.

When vigilante justice was less public during Jim Crow, officials would generally hurry to cosign it. The murderers of Emmett Till — a Black 14-year-old accused of whistling at a white woman in 1955 — were acquitted by an all-white jury in deliberations that took only an hour.

The Civil Rights movements of the latter 20th century couldn’t erase the subjugation of Black Americans by white authorities. In the 1970s and continuing for 20 years, Chicago police detective Jon Burge and some of his fellow officers used torture to elicit false confessions from more than a hundred Black men in Chicago. Suspects were beaten and shocked with cattle prods. Some were in prison for decades. Mayor Richard M. Daley, then Cook County state’s attorney, covered up the crimes.

In the Burge case, the police themselves were essentially engaged in a systematic, vicious, decades-long campaign of vigilante violence with the collaboration of overseers. That vision of law and order has often been celebrated and glorified in popular culture — as in the Dirty Harry movies, in which a rogue cop takes justice into his own hands, or in innumerable Batman stories, in which the Caped Crusader violently assaults whoever he feels has it coming — all with the enthusiastic support of police chief Jim Gordon.

Bernhard Goetz, George Zimmerman, Daniel Pantaleo, Derek Chauvin, Kyle Rittenhouse, Daniel Penny. Some were cops, some weren’t. But they all received right-wing support because they all were doing the work of law and order — defined as the violent suppression of Black people.

White supremacy Is white vigilante violence

But every once in a while, a different vision of law and order wins out in the United States — one that sees white supremacist violence as a threat to public safety, rather than as its apotheosis.

In 1996, an electronics specialist named Bernhard Goetz lost a $43 million dollar civil suit brought by his victims — four men he shot on a NYC subway in 1984. Burge eventually served two years in prison for perjury related to police torture; Chicago paid reparations to his victims. Derek Chauvin was convicted for his murder of George Floyd. Sometimes, to some degree, a different vision of law and order wins out in the United States — one that sees white supremacist violence as a threat to public safety, rather than as its apotheosis.

But conservatives are desperate to preserve the privilege of white violence, which is why the defenses of Penny sound so rabid and so unhinged. For conservatives, a world in which white men are held accountable for racist murder is a world without law, without order. It’s a world in which chaos (that is, equality) is let loose, and America’s essence (that is, white supremacy) is perverted.

Scholar Thomas Zimmer, in a thoughtful essay, argues that the right’s support of vigilantes is part of a deliberate plan to fight back against creeping egalitarianism and establish an authoritarian fascist state through widespread terror and intimidation. The celebration of Penny “encourages white militants to use whatever force they please to ‘fight back’ against anything and anyone associated with the Left by protecting and glorifying those who have engaged in vigilante violence,” Zimmer says. It’s laying the groundwork for the next coup.

Zimmer isn’t wrong. I think it’s worth emphasizing, though, that legitimizing vigilante violence is the new tactic because it’s the old tactic. Whenever confronted with a threat to white supremacy — the Civil War, the Civil Rights movement, the George Floyd protests — conservatives turn to the law and order of white impunity and white violence. White supremacy in the US has always been challenged, which means it’s always on the defensive, always insisting that extrajudicial violence is necessary and glorious.

The forces of white supremacy always deputize vigilante violence, because the right to vigilante violence against Black people is arguably what white supremacy is. The right is fighting for the right of white people to police Black people, and to inflict any extreme of violence upon them in the course of that policing. Black people “have no rights which the white man was bound to respect,” in the words of that bastion of law, the Supreme Court. That’s what American fascism looks like. It’s been around a long time, and we are not rid of it yet.

♫ Ebony and Ivory ♫ (Redux)

Tonight is one of those nights when the only thing that’s going to do for me is some Stevie Wonder.  Yes, I know I just played this one last June, but folks … I want you to listen, really listen to the words and tell me we couldn’t use a whole lot more of this today!  Now, I just love seeing Stevie, and throwing in Paul McCartney is an added bonus, but when I listened to this one tonight, it brought me to tears — literally.  We have lawmakers being threatened with violence, a 12-year-old child shot and killed a man with an AR-15, an 18-year-old went on a neighborhood shooting rampage and killed three, injured nine more, members of Congress are playing Russian roulette with our lives, and states are robbing women of their rights while robbing children of an education.  And that’s only some of what weighs heavily on my mind tonight.  Listen to Stevie and Paul, listen to the words … this song should be our national anthem!!!  We could be so much better than we are, if only we all listened to Stevie and Paul sing this song …

piano-keysPaul McCartney wrote this song, saying that the message was “that people of all types could live together.”  He liked the piano analogy, since you can play using just the white keys or just the black keys, but to make great music, you have to combine them.  So true.

McCartney started recording this as a solo effort, but then got the idea to do it as a duet with Stevie Wonder. A demo made its way to Wonder, and he agreed to record it, standing wholeheartedly behind the message in the song. It was issued as a single and appeared on McCartney’s 1982 album Tug Of War.

This was Stevie Wonder’s first #1 single in the UK. His only other was I Just Called To Say I Love You in 1984.

Listen to the words, feel the camaraderie between these two men, feel the love … share the love, spread the love.  Love knows no colour boundaries, and neither should we.

Ebony & Ivory
Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder

Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don’t we?

We all know
That people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad in everyone
When we learn to live, we learn to give each other
What we need to survive
Together alive

Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don’t we?

We all know
That people are the same wherever you go
There is good and bad, mmm, in everyone
We learn to live when we learn to give each other
What we need to survive
Together alive

Ebony and ivory
Live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don’t we?

Side by side on my piano keyboard
Oh Lord, why don’t we?

Songwriters: Mccartney Paul James
Ebony & Ivory lyrics © MPL COMMUNICATIONS INC

A Young Man And An Old Geezer Meet Up

As you all know by now, I’m a big fan of former Secretary of Labour, Robert Reich.  He’s intelligent, well-spoken, experienced, and also has a sense of humour.  Recently, he interviewed Tennessee state Representative Justin Jones, who you may remember was one of two Black legislators temporarily expelled from the Tennessee House last month.  This is Reich’s take on the interview, and there is a short (6 minutes) YouTube video at the end that I really hope you’ll watch, for it is well worth the time spent and I found it gave me a sense of who Justin Jones is and his determination to bring about positive changes.  I believe this young man is going places, and he gave me a glimmer of hope for the future.

Meeting Justin Jones

Passing the baton

Robert Reich

16 May 2023

On Sunday I experienced the perfect antidote to the resurgent Trump and Trumpism. I met with Tennessee Representative Justin Jones right after he gave an inspiring talk to our graduating UC Berkeley public policy students.

As you may recall, Jones and another young Black Tennessee legislator, Justin Pearson, were expelled last month from the state’s General Assembly for protesting Tennessee’s failure to enact stronger gun controls after a shooting at a Christian school in Nashville took the lives of three nine-year-olds and three adults.

Now, he and Pearson are back. And their expulsion has caused a groundswell of support for them and the causes they’re fighting for, in Tennessee and elsewhere around America.

A half century separates us. He’s 27, at the start of his career. I’m about to be 77, nearing the end of mine.

He’s a young Black man. I’m an old white guy.

We grew up in radically different times.

But I came away from our discussion profoundly optimistic about the future of this country. In talking with him I felt as if I were passing a generational baton to someone who will be fighting the good fight for the next half century — a new generation that will be more successful than mine in achieving social and economic justice, that will lead the nation toward a strong multiracial, multiethnic democracy.

He and Pearson, who took office in November and January, respectively, are community organizers and social justice advocates. Jones has described himself as an activist.

“I think our presence as young Black voices for our constituencies, people who will not bow down, those who will not be conformed, that’s what put a target on us the day we walked in the Tennessee General Assembly. … I mean, this is the first time in Tennessee history we had a completely partisan expulsion by predominantly white caucus — all but one member of their caucus is white out of 75 members — and we are the two youngest Black lawmakers in Tennessee. … And so what we saw was a system of political hubris. This was not just an attack on us, it was an attempt to silence our districts.”

He believes the biggest challenge his generation faces is the growing assault on democracy.

“The Tennessee House Republicans’ attempt to crucify democracy has instead resurrected a movement led by young people to restore democracy, to build a multi-racial coalition … . The message is that we will continue to resist, that this is not the end. Their decision to expel us is not the ultimate authority, but the people will hold them accountable.”

Jones is optimistic.

“We have an old saying in Tennessee that a mule kicks hardest when it’s dying. They’re fighting us so hard because they realize their power and their systems are dying.”

I was also impressed by his candor about the psychological toll the fight was taking on him and others. “Your generation went through the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement,” he told me backstage,

“but you didn’t talk about what those fights demanded of you, how the hate they aroused hurt you. Some of you burned out. My generation is different. We recognize the pain, and we find solace in communities that are engaged with us. The opposite of oppression is community. We know the fight will be long. We can’t burn out.”


One Step Closer To 1984 In Florida

Ol’ Ron DeSantis has me growling again!  Oh wait … I don’t think I’ve stopped growling for at least the past week month year.  So, what’s he done now, you ask?  Today, he signed into law a bill barring Florida’s colleges and universities from spending money on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, and limiting how race can be discussed in many courses.  We’re not talking about children here, people … we’re talking about adults!  90% or more of people attending college are age 18 or over!  They are adults!  They are perfectly capable of understanding issues about diversity, about race, and about the history of this country!!!  They are more than capable of seeing with their own two eyes that racism in this country is still rampant among some.  They are old enough to drive a car, drink alcohol, serve in the military, own a gun, vote, get married, but they are not considered mature enough to learn about racism or to be exposed to other cultures???

Apparently, the legislature in Florida is comprised of friends and relatives of DeSantis, for as soon as he wants something like this done, BOOM!!!  Both the state House and Senate immediately pass the bill to play into DeSantis’ authoritarian whims and before you can blink three times, it’s on his desk and he is signing it into law!  This has happened so many times in the past several months that there is no way the state legislature can be considered to be uncompromised or to represent the people of the state.

Colleges and universities across the state of Florida will, effective immediately, no longer be considered “institutions of higher learning”, but rather will be institutions whose goal is to mold people into automatons without the ability to THINK FOR THEMSELVES!  Come time to vote, they will vote for whomever DeSantis tells them to vote, for that will be how they’ve been taught.  DeSantis and most other Republicans talk about “indoctrination” and “grooming” … well, what the SAM HELL do they think they’re doing???  They are indoctrinating college students (not to mention elementary and high school students) to become mindless proletariat.

Is this the 21st century, or did I just dream it?

If I lived in Florida, I would be packing my bags instead of writing this post.  DeSantis and his merry little men in the state legislature have pissed me off many times over the past year or so, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.  The future is pretty damned grim for Florida and its residents in more ways than one, now.  Half the state is likely to end up under water in the coming decade, but if they don’t, they will be a nation of mindless twits, conditioned to believe that white, straight, Christian males are the ”superior” people and the rest of us are the doormat upon which they will wipe their feet.

Even more frightening/enraging is the thought of DeSantis becoming president over all 50 states!  Fortunately, I can only see that happening under one scenario, or set of scenarios, and that is if Trump becomes (as I hope he does) ineligible either via his many lawsuits, and particularly his incitement of an attempted coup, or his death, and if President Biden dies before November 2024, leaving Kamala Harris the Democratic nominee.  Mind you, I love Kamala, but in 2016 the people of this nation proved that there is still a misogynistic hurdle to a woman in a leadership position.  Someday, perhaps, people will wake up, but NOT if we keep forbidding them to become truly educated!

I have a number of friends who live in Florida and every last one of them are intelligent, sensible people who strongly disagree with DeSantis’ racist, misogynist policies.  So WHY did he win his last election by a hefty margin?  Just a week or two ago, the legislature passed a bill reversing a law that said he would have to step down from the governorship if he declared himself a candidate for the presidency.  Blink.  Just like that, he can remain governor while campaigning for a higher office.  WHY???