♫ Don’t Lie To Me ♫

It was just a couple of days ago that I played You Don’t Send Me Flowers, by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond.  I typically try to put a few weeks’ distance between songs by the same artist, but just yesterday, a dear friend sent me information about a new song by Ms. Streisand, and I didn’t want to put it aside for any length of time, knowing I would likely forget it.  Now, I don’t intend these music posts to be political, necessarily, but sometimes they are, for the music is … well, not so much political as a statement against social injustice, or sometimes even revolutionary.

This song, Don’t Lie to Me, is Barbra Streisand’s first new original music since 2005, and was the first new single off her upcoming album Walls, due out November 2nd.   In a recent interview with Time magazine, Streisand explains what motivated her to write this song, along with John Shanks, Jonas Myrin, and Jay Landers …

“My problem is what’s been happening to America. Even basic human decency seems to be melting away faster than the polar ice caps. An artist – at least – has a form of expression, which I’m grateful for. It gives me a way to let off a little steam.  It’s easy to feel powerless, but we’re not.

They’re very troubling times. The leader of the free world doesn’t seem to care much about truth, and he’s chipping away at the pillars of democracy, like freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. I believe in the power of the truth, and I can’t stand being lied to. I don’t think the country should be lied to either. So that started me thinking about how to put down my thoughts in music and lyrics about what was on my mind.”

When asked about the title of her upcoming album, Walls, she explained …

“Well, we have a president who wants to build walls, and that got me thinking—walls can be structural, and walls can be emotional; walls between people. So I asked my dear friends Marilyn and Alan Bergman to write a song for this album, and it came out as “Walls,” which says we would have that better day if all those walls came tumbling down. I hope we find a way to tear down walls and build more bridges instead. There’s also a very hopeful song on this, “Better Angels,” that was inspired by Lincoln’s first inaugural address. It reminds us of who we have the potential to be when we listen to the better angels of our nature.”

The interview is quite interesting, if you feel inclined to take a look.  But for now, without further ado …

Don’t Lie to Me
Barbra Streisand

Why can’t you just tell me the truth?
Hard to believe the things you say
Why can’t you feel the tears I cried today, cried today, cried today
How do you win if we all lose?
You change the facts to justify
Your lips move but your words get in the way, in the way, in the way

Kings and Queens, crooks and thieves
You don’t see the forest for the trees
Head and heart on our knees
You can’t see what we all see

How do you sleep when the world keeps turning?
All that we built has come undone
How do you sleep when the world is burning?
Everyone answers to someone

Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me

You can build towers of bronze and gold
You can build castles in the sky
You can use smoke and mirrors, old clichés
Not today, not today

Kings and Queens, crooks and thieves
You don’t see the forest for the trees
Hand on heart, down our knees
You can’t see what everyone sees

How do you sleep when the world keeps turning?
All that we built has come undone
How do you sleep when the world is burning?
Everyone answers to someone

Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me

Can’t you see I’m crying?
Can’t you see we’re crying?
Where’s the new horizon?
Where’s the new horizon?

How do you sleep?
How do you sleep?
How do you sleep?
(How do you sleep when the world is turning?)
How do you sleep?
(All that we built has come undone)
Enough is enough
(How do you sleep when the world is burning?)
How do you sleep?
(Everyone answers to someone)

Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me
Don’t lie to me, don’t lie to me, you lie to me

Can’t you see I’m crying?
(Can’t you see we’re crying?)
Can’t you see we’re crying?
Everyone answers to someone

Songwriters: Barbra Streisand / John Shanks / Jonas Myrin / Jay Landers
Don’t Lie to Me lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Dorothy Thompson, the Journalist Who Warned the World About Adolf Hitler

Have you ever heard of Dorothy Thompson? I hadn’t either until our blogging-buddy Mary posted a link to another blog that she thought relevant to my topic-of-the-moment, Trump’s racism. Turns out that Ms. Thompson was a quite notable journalist during WWII, and had the distinction of being the first U.S. journalist to be expelled from Germany by Hitler! This post is noteworthy for three reasons: 1) it is fascinating and I learned much that I didn’t already know; 2) it is very well-written; 3) parts of it are chilling, as you will see, when compared to the situation in the U.S. today. Please take a minute to read and think about this post. Thank you, Peter, for permission to share this with my readers!

Life Unscripted

I write for fun, but not everyone has that luxury. A great many people in the world write to earn their living and I have always thought that to be a tough way to go: deadlines are a pain, and I can attest to that after publishing a small journal for a few years. There is this challenge to stay relevant and also inspired enough to write every day are the fabric of nightmares and sleepless nights, but some people excel at it.temerity

I was struck over this past weekend by the brazen cowardice of the U.S. Congress. It astounded me that a sitting president would tell elected members of Congress that they should go back to some country they “came from” and that

seehearspeakThe U.S. Congress

Congress would sit by silent as brass monkeys. Yet… that is what happened.

One word that has largely disappeared from our vocabulary is…

View original post 1,758 more words

Call A Spade A … Bloody Shovel?

I had no intention of addressing this issue again, thought it was a no-brainer, thought everyone got the memo a few days ago and we could move on.  But, I keep hearing people either deny or defend the fact that Donald Trump is a racist.  As my friend Mary from the UK says, “Call a spade a bloody shovel!”  I’ve heard the “yeah, well, whadabout ___________________?” (fill in the blank with any of the 20 or so republican stock excuses).  I’ve heard that the democrats are just trying to discredit him, making a mountain out of a molehill.  I’m tired of having to re-visit this, but … it is important that everyone understand that this ‘man’ is a racist, since he is in a position of so much unchecked power.  He believes that he, because of his pale skin, because of his Caucasian ethnicity, is better than the rest of us who do not match him.  Largely because of this, he represents less than half of the people in this country, and as he recently said, the rest of us, if we don’t like it, can leave!

Okay, so in my inbox today was an OpEd in the New York Times by one of my favourite journalists, Nicholas Kristof, on this very topic, and I would like to share his words with you.

Trump Is Racist to the Bone

Trump’s hate is evident from his jawbones down to his thumbs and little toes.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof
Opinion Columnist

July 17, 2019

After instructing four women of color in the House of Representatives to “go back” where they came from, President Trump now claims, “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!”

That appears incorrect. I have identified the following racist bones in Trump’s body:

Phalanges and metacarpals: These are bones of the fingers and hands that Trump has used to tweet tirades against black and brown people and to retweet Nazi sympathizers, including, twice, an account called @WhiteGenocideTM with a photo of the founder of the American Nazi Party.

Mandible and maxilla: These are the jawbones that Trump has used to denounce Mexican immigrants as “criminals, drug dealers, rapists,” not to mention to refuse to criticize the Ku Klux Klan.

Femurs, fibulas, tibias, metatarsals: These foot and leg bones carried Trump into his casinos, where black staff members would be rushed off the floor so he couldn’t see them, according to a former employee, Kip Brown.

Virtually every remaining bone was implicated in Trump’s early refusal to rent apartments in his buildings to blacks, leading the Nixon administration Justice Department (not exactly a pillar of liberalism) to sue him for housing discrimination in the 1970s. A former building superintendent working for Trump explained that any rent application from a black person was coded “C,” for “colored,” apparently so that the office would know to reject it.

“Racist” is an explosive term that should never be lightly flung as an epithet, and it is more likely to end a conversation than clarify it. For a single tweet or action there is a possibility of misunderstanding or ambiguity.

Yet for more than 45 years, since that housing discrimination, Trump has engaged in a consistent pattern of racist behavior and speech. His latest controversial tweets are not an aberration but a culmination. This isn’t a matter of a single tweet; it’s a lifetime with a narrative arc of bigotry.

America’s history is a tapestry of innumerable threads, many of them triumphant and inspiring that we should be deeply proud of, but Trump goes out of his way to weave together two of the most shameful strands.

One is the racism and nativism that go back to the 18th and 19th centuries, to the Philadelphia speaker who in 1844 denounced Irish immigrants as “scum unloaded on American wharves” and helped provoke anti-Catholic riots, to the waves of hysteria against African-Americans, Italians, Chinese, Jews, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and other immigrants. There is another strain of American hospitality highlighted by the Statue of Liberty and the admission of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees beginning in the 1970s, but the nativism is real — it’s why Trump’s family, alarmed by anti-German bigotry, pretended to be Swedish.

The other thread that Trump pulls is more political: what we now call McCarthyism, although it, too, goes back to our nation’s earliest days. It vilifies opponents as enemies of the state.

More than two centuries ago, opponents of Thomas Jefferson warned that he was a Jacobin who if elected would unleash a French-style reign of terror upon America. As one commentator put it, “The Bible would be cast into a bonfire, our holy worship changed into a dance of Jacobin phrensy, our wives and daughters dishonored.” Senator Joseph McCarthy updated that in the 20th century with reckless accusations that leftists were Communists — and now Trump picks up that mantle by suggesting that his four progressive targets in Congress “might be” Communists, not to mention that they “hate our Country” and are “pro Al-Qaeda.”

I’m not sure whether this new McCarthyism is instinctive and unthinking, or these bilious rants represent a shrewd effort to manipulate voters into seeing the 2020 presidential campaign through the prism not of issues but of racial identity, in hopes of winning Trump an edge with white voters.

I do know that Trump has taken two of the most ignominious threads in American history — nativism and McCarthyism — and woven them together in an outburst that is an affront to democratic norms.

If anyone doubts that Trump’s statements were despicable, note that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission specifically bars employers from using “ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from.’”

Frankly, I’m even more troubled by Trump’s policies than by his tweets, and I wish the reaction to Trump focused more on practical initiatives to reduce child poverty, treat drug addiction or end mass incarceration. But the question put to Congress this week was a resolution properly condemning the presidential tirade. It was grotesque to see Republicans who had been mute at presidential bigotry suddenly protest that the backers of the resolution violated rules of decorum.

Really? We’re left again with the question: How can members of the party of Lincoln today protest the label of racism, but not the racism itself — in a man who for 45 years has shown himself to be a racist from his mandible to his metatarsals?


And lastly … another well-respected journalist speaks.  Typically, we expect a bit of humour from Don Lemon, but on this topic, he is dead serious.  If you want to skip the back-and-forth between Lemon and Chris Cuomo, fast forward to about the 5:17 mark and start there.  It is well worth watching.

And now, I hope the matter is laid to rest and that we can all agree to call a spade a bloody shovel, and to call Donald Trump by what he is: a racist extraordinaire.

Mandela Day …

I did not realize that today is Mandela Day, until I was skimming my e-mail late this afternoon and came across this one from the Obama Foundation …

Obama-foundation-logo

Hi Jill,

Ten years ago today, the world celebrated the first-ever Mandela Day, on Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. Mandela himself was honored, but he emphasized that the day should not be a holiday to recognize him, but a day devoted to service. “Our struggle for freedom and justice was a collective effort,” he said. “Mandela Day is no different.”

Now, ten years later, I’m asking you to take part in another collective effort—to dedicate your time toward improving your own community.Obama-MandelaNo gesture is too small; no act of service too modest. Whether you donate books to your local library, volunteer at a shelter, or commit to mentoring someone in your neighborhood, every action is a step toward building a more gracious, more generous world. That is the world Mandela himself sought to build.

Earlier this week, the Obama Foundation convened 200 of Africa’s best and brightest young leaders in Mandela’s home country of South Africa to help them sharpen their skills, share their hopes and ideas, and build a network that can help chart the future of the continent. But before they left our Leaders: Africa convening, they gathered together to volunteer at a nearby primary school.

They didn’t sign their names on murals or stand idly by, waiting for recognition—these leaders simply gave their time in service. It’s the kind of example that true leadership demands. And I can think of no one who better defines that spirit of leadership than Madiba himself.

So this Mandela Day, commit some time to making a difference in your community. But don’t do it for yourself or even just to recognize him; do it because it’ll make our world better.

Thanks,

Barack Obama

Mandela-1Nelson Mandela International Day aka Mandela Day, is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

The Mandela Day campaign message, according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf is:

  • Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.
  • We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

A little bit about Nelson Mandela.

By the time of his death, within South Africa Mandela was widely considered both “the father of the nation” and “the founding father of democracy”.  Outside of South Africa, he was a global icon, with the scholar of South African studies Rita Barnard describing him as “one of the most revered figures of our time”.

When some attempted to portray Mandela as a modern-day messiah, his response was …

“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”

gandhi-king-mandelaHe is often cited alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the 20th century’s exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders.  Mandela’s international fame had emerged during his incarceration in the 1980s, when he became the world’s most famous prisoner, a symbol of the anti-apartheid cause, and an icon for millions who embraced the ideal of human equality. In 1986, Mandela’s biographer characterized him as “the embodiment of the struggle for liberation” in South Africa.

Mandela generated controversy throughout his career as an activist and politician, having detractors on both the right and the radical left. During the 1980s, Mandela was widely labelled a terrorist by prominent political figures in the Western world for his embrace of political violence. According to the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, for instance, the ANC was “a typical terrorist organisation”. The US government’s State and Defense departments officially designated the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organization, resulting in Mandela remaining on their terrorism watch-list until 2008.

In the words of South African historian/biographer Bill Freund …

“The significance of Mandela can be considered in two related ways. First, he has provided through his personal presence as a benign and honest conviction politician, skilled at exerting power but not obsessed with it to the point of view of excluding principles, a man who struggled to display respect to all … Second, in so doing he was able to be a hero and a symbol to an array of otherwise unlikely mates through his ability, like all brilliant nationalist politicians, to speak to very different audiences effectively at once.”

Mandela-2Like Gandhi, King, and a handful of others, Nelson Mandela left the world a little bit better place than he found it.  This is something few of us will achieve, but that we should all strive for.Mandela Day

Bad People Doing Bad Things …

red circleLook at the circle above.  What colour do you see?  What?  Red?  No, I call that blue … definitely blue.  You still claim it’s red?  Then you will not be allowed to speak about the colour of the circle, for your view does not match my own, and thus is wrong.

Dr. Rod Schoonover was a senior intelligence analyst with the U.S. State Department and is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.  Last week, Dr. Schoonover left the employ of the State Department.  Why?  Because he is a scientist.  Because he looked at that circle and called it red, even though Donald Trump and his administration warned him to say it was blue.  And then, Trump taped his mouth so he couldn’t say it was red.  And Dr. Schoonover decided he had enough and resigned his position.Rod SchoonoverDr. Schoonover was invited to speak before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence on June 5th about the security risks the United States faces because of climate change.  The Trump administration, according to leaked internal memos, tried to force Dr. Schoonover to change his prepared speech, but the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research refused and ultimately he was allowed to speak before the committee.  However, when it came time to publish his written testimony, the administration blocked it.

Why? Because it did not match the Trump administration’s views.  According to Myron Ebell, who was once considered to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) before Trump settled on Scott Pruitt, Trump’s re-election campaign consultants told him …

“We have polling showing that you need to stress your environmental accomplishments and not start controversial things that will get you bad press, like going after climate science.”

Let that one sink in for a minute, folks.

Policy decisions and governance are now being mandated by Donald Trump’s campaign for next year’s election.  Not the welfare of the country and its people, not our safety and well-being, but what will play well in the rallies, what his ‘base’ wants to hear, what will give him the best chance to spend an additional four years destroying our nation, our lives.

One of the statements White House officials objected to was this observation:

“Absent extensive mitigating factors or events, we see few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — harm does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change.”

On Monday, July 8th, Trump did, in fact, give a speech where he stated that his White House was working “harder than many previous administrations” on the issue of the environment, adding: “Maybe almost all of them.”

Given that he has spent his entire two-and-a-half years in office destroying environmental regulations, pulling out of the Paris climate accord, encouraging the fossil fuel industry, destroying wildlife protections, opening federal lands to drilling and mining, environmentalists’ jaws dropped when they heard his speech.  We shouldn’t be surprised … the man has yet to speak an honest word!

The environment and climate change should not be … should not be an issue of partisan politics!  And yet … it is.  According to a recent survey, 81% of Democrats said climate change was “very important,” compared with more than the 56% of independents and a measly 26% of Republicans.  Yo Republicans!!!  Wake up and remove your head from your arse!!!  You are killing us!

Daniel Q. Greenwood, Trump’s deputy assistant in the White House office of legislative affairs, said that Schoonover’s written testimony was unacceptable because …

“The testimony still has serious concerns with internal components and focuses heavily on the science. Because it doesn’t reflect the coordinated IC position, or the administration’s position, there is no way this can be cleared ahead of the hearing.”

It focuses too heavily on the science???  And it doesn’t reflect the administration’s position. Apparently, Dr. Schoonover didn’t read the republican’s bible that states, “Ye shall put forth no facts, but only whatever fantasy his Trumpship wishes on any given day”.

You can see and download the .pdf file of Dr. Schoonover’s written assessment, with comments and suggested changes written by Trump lackeys.  It is said that most of the comments came from William Happer, a ‘theoretical physicist’ and White House adviser on the National Security Council who denies the established scientific consensus on global warming.  Certainly that makes him uniquely qualified to edit a scientific document on climate change, doesn’t it?

Wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, flooding, droughts, melting ice caps, algae blooms, a declining bee population … all far in excess of what has been the normal range.  Where I live, we have had “air quality alerts” every day for the past two weeks, and today for the first time ever, I received an “excessive heat warning”.  This coming weekend, I will not be able to leave my house because the temperatures are expected to be around the 100° (F) mark (38° C), and I cannot survive in such.  I have lived in this general area since 1987 and have never once seen temps reach 100°.  In fact, as a rule, I can count on my fingers the number of days the temps are over 90°.

Bottom line — climate science is unpopular with Trump’s base, and there is an election in just over 15 months, so the entire planet must be doomed to the whims and vagaries of an uneducated group of people who like Donald Trump because he says there is no such thing as climate change … and oh yeah, besides that he’s gonna build a damn wall and have Mexico pay for it.

A Grand Clear Out!

My UK blogger-friend Mick is selling some of his artwork, and has asked for re-blogs! If he shipped to the U.S., I would be tempted to buy that Poppy, but sadly, postage between the U.S. and UK is cost-prohibitive, as I have learned the hard way. Still, if any of my UK readers are interested, take a look! Nice work, Mick!

Mick Canning

Most of you are probably aware of my Etsy store, where I put up some of my artwork for sale.

At the moment, I desperately need to make some space in the house, and so I am selling off a number of paintings for very much less than usual – not much more than the cost of materials and the postage.

If you’ve ever felt like owning one of my paintings (and, let’s face it, at least…er…one or two people have…) then now would be a good time. The only catch is that I’m only mailing them to UK, because otherwise it would still make them more expensive than I want to sell them at, due to the cost of the postage.

Payment would be by Paypal, which is a very secure way to pay and gives the buyer a lot of security.

The prices on here are the total…

View original post 116 more words

Ramblings …

I’m just trying to digest some of what is happening today, this week, and thought I’d share my thoughts with you all, see what your own thoughts are.

Yesterday, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens died at age 99.  One of the things he will long be remembered for is his stance that a sitting president is not above the law.  In 1997, he wrote the opinion that Bill Clinton must face Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit because a sitting president does not have immunity from all civil lawsuits for actions when he was not in office.

In another case in 2006, Hamdan v Rumsfeld, he wrote: “The Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction.”  And in a recent interview, when asked how he viewed Trump’s abuse of power, Stevens said …

“The president is exercising powers that do not really belong to him. I mean, he has to comply with subpoenas and things like that.”

I may have a tribute to Justice Stevens later, but for now I am wondering … how has this nation changed so much from the days of Justice Stevens’ rulings?  Nixon tried to abuse the power of the office, and he was stopped both by Congress and the Supreme Court.  That was in 1974 … forty-five years ago.  What changed?

Sure, Trump is a bully who rules by instilling fear of his red-faced wrath, but frankly, his power, his authority, derives from We the People.  He has no power without the approval of Congress and the Court, and Congress derives their power from us.  Or at least, so the theory goes.  Which brings me to my next thought.

After the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, Trump remarked that there were “very fine people” on both sides – one of those sides being white supremacists who had committed murder on that day.  Based on those remarks, his net approval rating dropped by 10%.  But this week, after his blatantly racist remarks … and yes, they were racist remarks … about four members of Congress, it turns out that his approval rating among republicans actually went up by 5%!

How can this be?

His approval rating among independents dropped a bit, thus his overall approval rating remains unchanged.  But … think about this.  Some people who did not approve of him a week ago, now like him because he denigrated lawmakers based on their ethnicity and the colour of their skin.  What does this say about us?

One thing it says is that the divisiveness of this nation is a division of values, or morals.  Certainly, that is not the only cause of the deep chasm between right and left, but it is part of it.  Apparently, there is a large contingent for whom money is more important than humanity, profit over people.  But, I wonder … does it also say that the white supremacists, those who believe their Caucasian ancestry makes them somehow ‘better’ than the rest of us, are gaining momentum?  Are their numbers growing, and if so … why?  What has changed?

And where does this lead us? Are those who support Trump, not in spite of but because of his bluster, his arrogance, his racism, willing to hand him the keys to the kingdom, willing to allow him complete power to rule with impunity?  For it seems to me that is the direction this country is headed.  Those of us who are not without conscience are demeaned and mocked, told “if you don’t like it, leave”.  Trump has taken the law into his own hands and dared any to challenge him.

The democrats in Congress are divided, not because any are enamoured of Trump, but simply because this situation is without precedent and they are not sure which way to turn.  It’s understandable, but unfortunate, for we need them to be unified in the fight to keep this nation from becoming an authoritarian regime.  They are the last, best hope to force accountability, but instead they sit on their thumbs because they cannot agree on how best to proceed.

It disturbs me to see what is happening in this country today.  It makes me sad that not only do we have more corruption in the upper echelons of our government than perhaps ever before, but that the people of this nation are willing to turn a blind eye.  I don’t understand it, but it flies in the face of the premises on which the nation was founded.  Where do we go from here?Text dividers

Good People Doing Good Things — Lots Of ‘Em!

It’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to leave the dark world of politics for a few minutes and take a look at some good people who are quietly going about the business of being … good people!


A trio of teens …

A little after midnight, Aeron McQuillin, Bailey Campbell, and Billy Tarbett were on their way to Tim Horton’s coffee shop after a swim when they noticed steam billowing from under the hood of a car stopped along Highway 20 in Fonthill, Ontario.

The boys, all car enthusiasts, pulled over to lend a hand. After looking under the hood, they told the driver that it probably needed a new engine and advised against starting the motor. The woman was visibly upset and said she couldn’t afford a tow.

That’s when Billy suggested they push the car to the woman’s home in Welland.

“We had nothing better to do—but even if we did I would like to think we would have helped her anyway.”

good-samaritan-teensThe teens grabbed their water bottles and pushed the Chevy Cobalt up a hill and continued for more than two hours along the dark Merritville Highway, laughing, joking, and appreciating the great ‘workout’. “We were helping her, but also she was helping us,” said Tarbett.

Another stranger, Niagara Falls resident Dan Morrison, decided to drive along behind the trio to keep them safe—he turned on his flashers and totally went into “Dad mode”.

The cooperative rescue mission, which covered over 4 miles (7 km) finally ended at four in the morning.  According to Aeron McQuillin …

“We were at the right place at the right time, and this is one of those stories that we can look back on in 10 years and say it was one of those crazy things we did, but it was all worth it.”

Dan posted about it on social media with a photo of the boys, and their phones began “blowing up” with messages from people they’d never met. Some offered a free meal or Tim Horton’s gift card.

But the boys were taking none of it.

“We really appreciate it, but we didn’t do this to get free handouts. If I was broken down on the side of the road, I would love for someone to stop and help out.”

Morrison, a father of two, said this was a great reminder that in a seemingly-negative world, “There’s good kids out there.”

Indeed … we sometimes need to be reminded of that, for in general we hear much more about those who are getting into trouble or causing mischief.


Eco-friendly skies …

Two thumbs up to Air New Zealand for slashing their use of plastic on flights—cutting out 55 million items, which will actually make the planes lighter, save a bit of fuel, but most importantly, cutting way down on the airline’s carbon footprint.

As of 2018, the company generated 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, making it one of New Zealand’s largest polluters.  Management decided it was time to be pro-active and do what they could to be more environmentally conscientious.  The list of plastics that will no longer be used is 55 million items long, and includes everything from plastic cups to water bottles, sauce packets to cheese trays. Every one of those pieces has a carbon footprint equal to around 3 ounces of carbon dioxide, so by eliminating them from the flights, Air New Zealand cuts out 10.3 million pounds of CO2 this year alone.air-New-ZealandThe majority of the 55 million items come in the form of 29 million cups. Passengers on international flights will still be able to get a cup of coffee when they want, but as of this fall, those cups will be made from plants. It’s a change the airline started earlier this year on domestic flights, swapping out 14.7 million for the plant-based version. The same goes for plastic water cups, which will be exchanged for a recyclable alternative.

Great job, New Zealand Air, and let’s hope other airlines quickly follow suit.


Two dads – six kids

Steve-RobSteve and Rob Anderson-McLean of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, have been together for 18 years. They shared a commitment ceremony in 2006 and were legally married in Maryland in 2013.  The couple raised two sons together, Parker, 25 and Noah, 21, from a previous marriage. But after their boys grew up, they decided they “weren’t done” being parents just yet and began exploring adoption.

Meanwhile, in Ohio there were six children – Carlos, 14, Guadalupe, 13, Maria, 12, Selena, 10, Nasa, 9, and Max, 7 – who had been in foster care for nearly five years.  The children had been subjected to abuse and neglect, had been separated, and the parents finally lost all custodial rights.

Steve and Rob happened to see the children on an adoption website and the rest is history.

the kidsSteve and Rob were matched with the kids in June 2018. The siblings went to live with the couple a month later and have been with them ever since.  The adoption was finalized on May 23rd.  The judge asked the couple …

“Do you understand at this point forward they are your children? They are just as much as your biological children?”

Steve says …

“Obviously we knew that, but when I looked up and saw all those eyes, it was very emotional. We never imagined we’d be lucky enough or blessed enough to have six.”

adoptionHow many couples do you know who, after raising two children to adulthood, are willing to start all over, taking on not one, not two, but six children?  Today, all six siblings have the Anderson-McLean name and two doting dads.

“I’d say our kids have brought a great kind of crazy to our lives. It’s heartwarming and so exciting to see how they connect with us and our extended family and friends.”

the family

“We’ve known them for less than a year, but at the same time, it feels as if our emotional bonds were years in the making. There are no rules as to what can constitute a family, and the love that we share.”

I give two thumbs up to these two men for giving so much to these six kids!  The world needs more like them.

An editorial aside, if you will permit me.  Right now, there are an estimated 690,000 children in U.S. foster care awaiting adoption. So, when social conservatives create laws allowing religious adoption agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, they’re denying children a chance to be raised in a loving home.


And that’s all I’ve got for this week, folks.  Isn’t it nice, though, to see people like these doing things that make the world just a little bit better place?  ‘Til next week …

Still More Tears Of Shame

It’s a known fact that Trump only likes people who are Caucasian and who pay homage to him by approving of his antics and wearing an ugly red hat.  But he took his phobia  of ‘other’ a bit too far last week when speaking of four freshman democratic members of Congress …

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly……….and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.”

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how…….it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”

The comment was sexist, Islamophobic, crass, and far beneath the dignity of the office he claims.  Nancy Pelosi appropriately chastised him …

“When @realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power. … I reject @realDonaldTrump’s xenophobic comments meant to divide our nation. Rather than attack Members of Congress, he should work with us for humane immigration policy that reflects American values. Stop the raids — #FamiliesBelongTogether!”

I concur 100% with Pelosi’s admonishment, and as always, I am stunned at the cruelty, the ignorance of the ‘man’ in the Oval Office.  But more than that, what appalls and confuses me is that those who support Trump, both in Congress and in the population at large, can hear his words and still think he is qualified for the office he claims.  NEVER before has a president been so crass, so uneducated, so disrespectful, and yet he still has a following of somewhere around 35% – 40%.  It is jaw-dropping.

I wrote the above yesterday, planned to make it the first of a couple of snarky snippets, but this morning I awaken to news that in the face of public outrage over his comments, he has dialed up the heat even more, and I decided this is to be the sole topic for this post.

He who uttered racist, hate-filled words directed at members of Congress based solely on their ethnicity, now “demands” an apology from them!  People … this is so very wrong.  As Speaker Pelosi said above, this affirms that his plan to ‘make America great’ is nothing more than a plan to make America white.  What an abomination … what a sorry excuse for a ‘man’, for a ‘president’.  His latest …

“When will the Radical Left Congresswomen apologize to our Country, the people of Israel and even to the Office of the President, for the foul language they have used, and the terrible things they have said. So many people are angry at them & their horrible & disgusting actions!”

If people are angry with the Congresswomen, then those people are immediately identified, in my book, as racists … terrible, bigoted racists.  That the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office uses this level of vitriol against duly elected officials in a branch of government equal to his own, is simply beyond belief, unacceptable.

The four members of Congress with whom he has taken issue are:

  • Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts
  • Rashida Tlaib of Michigan
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York
  • Ilhan Omar of Minnesota

4-muslim-congressAll but one, Ilhan Omar, were born in the United States and are therefore U.S. citizens by birth.  Ilhan Omar became a U.S. citizen in 2000, at the age of 17.  Every one of them have as much right as Trump himself to reside in this country, and they have as much … nay, more … right to sit in Congress than Trump has to sit in the Oval Office, for they were all actually elected by a majority of the voters in their districts, and without the help of Vladimir Putin or an ‘electoral college’.

“If Democrats want to unite around the foul language & racist hatred spewed from the mouths and actions of these very unpopular & unrepresentative Congresswomen, it will be interesting to see how it plays out. I can tell you that they have made Israel feel abandoned by the U.S.”

Frankly, their concerns about Israel are justified and mirror my own.  Under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has become a domineering bully, and Trump has fed the monster.

Only one republican in Congress found the guts to speak out against Trump’s diatribe, and that was a milquetoast reaction by Representative Chip Roy, who tweeted …

“POTUS was wrong to say any American citizen, whether in Congress or not, has any ‘home’ besides the U.S.”

All the rest of the republicans sitting in the Capitol today remained silent.  Their silence speaks more loudly than any words could, don’t you think?

Fox ‘News’ commentators Griff Jenkins, Jedidiah Bila, and Todd Piro laughed about Trump’s racist tweets.  They referred to them as “very comedic”.Fox commentatorsFortunately, other leaders around the world were appalled …

“Donald Trump telling four ethnic minority American congresswomen to “go back” where they “originally came from”. 1950s racism straight from the White House.” – David Lammy, Member of Parliament of the UK

“The President of the United States telling elected politicians — or any other Americans for that matter — to ‘go back’ to other countries is not OK, and diplomatic politeness should not stop us saying so, loudly and clearly.” – Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland

“I’ve heard it from racists and fascists. Never from a mainstream politician. Here you have the president of the U.S.A. using that same sort of language.” – Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

“It’s an insult to the Statue of Liberty, America’s most famous symbol, an insult to the American values where migrants from all over the world are united as one nation under one law.” – Ibrahim Milhim, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority

“Trump’s racism is sickening. Any European politician who fails to condemn this has questions to answer & should be ashamed of themselves.” – Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian politician and member of the EU Parliament

Donald Trump is the shame of this nation, a wart that grows larger and uglier with each passing day.  He shames us all when he speaks such hateful, vitriolic words.  Today, I am ashamed of this nation, ashamed to be called an “American”.

♫ Dancing In The Street ♫

I hope you’re in the mood for a bit of something upbeat tonight, for I am greatly in need of what I think of as ‘happy music’, which often leads me to Motown, and tonight is no exception.

This song was written by Motown songwriters Marvin Gaye, Ivy Jo Hunter, and William “Mickey” Stevenson. It became the biggest hit and trademark song for Martha & the Vandellas.  According to the song’s co-writer Mickey Stevenson, the idea for dancing came to him while riding with Marvin Gaye through Detroit. During the summer, the city would open up fire hydrants and let the water out in the streets so they could play in the water to cool off. They appeared to be dancing in the water.  I actually remember one city I lived in as a child doing that … opening the fire hydrants on hot summer days!

Martha Reeves was the leader of the group.  Back in the early days, she was trying to get her foot in the door at Motown, but they wouldn’t even give her an audition, so she applied for and got a job as secretary.  Part of her secretarial duties was singing lyrics to new songs onto tapes so backup singers could learn the words. This led to fill-in work as a backup singer, where she impressed Motown executives with her voice.  She convinced them to hire her friends, Annette Sterling and Rosalind Ashford, and thus was born Martha and the Vandellas!  After backing up Marvin Gaye on some of his songs, Motown gave them songs to sing on their own, including the hit Heat Wave.

Martha Reeves told the story behind this song …

“Marvin Gaye had recorded ‘Dancing in the Street” when I first heard it, and he had put a real smooth vocal on there, sort of like (jazzy singing) ‘Calling all around the world, are you ready for a brand new beat baby?’ and for some reason, Marvin said, “let’s try this song on Martha.” I was in the office and they let me hear the song, but I couldn’t quite feel it that way. I had been to Rio De Janeiro, I had travelled to New Orleans during Carnival time, so I just knew it had to be somewhere about dancing in the street. I said, ‘Can I sing it the way that I feel it?’ And they said, ‘Go ahead.’

So, I sang it (singing on the beat) ‘calling all around the world are you ready for a brand-new beat,’ and, they loved it. There was all kinds of congratulatory hand slaps and ‘hey man, we got a hit in that window up there,’ and the engineer, Lawrence Horn, looked and said, ‘I didn’t turn the machine on.’

I had to sing it again. So, the second time I sang it, there’s a little bit of anger there because I had to repeat it. It was a straight performance and that’s why it sounds live. I think that’s the secret of the success of the hit – the fact that I had to do it again, and I did it without a mistake or without any interruption, and the feeling was just right on that song.”

The song took on a different meaning when riots in inner-city America led to many young black demonstrators citing the song as a civil rights anthem to social change which also led to some radio stations taking the song off its play list because certain black advocates such as H. Rap Brown began playing the song while organizing demonstrations.

The British press aggravated Reeves one time when someone put a microphone in her face and asked her if she was a militant leader. The British journalist wanted to know if Reeves agreed, as many people had claimed, that Dancing in the Street was a call to riot. To Reeves, the query was patently absurd. ‘My Lord, it was a party song,’ she remarked.

Like many a Motown hit, this song has been covered by many, including The Mamas and The Papas, Val Halen, Grateful Dead, David Bowie & Mick Jagger as a duet, and many more.  But to me, Martha and the Vandellas own this one.

Dancing in the Street
Martha and the Vandellas

Calling out around the world,
Are you ready for a brand new beat?
Summer’s here and the time is right
For dancing in the street.
They’re dancing in Chicago,
Down in New Orleans,
In New York City.

All we need is music, sweet music.
There’ll be music everywhere.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing,
Dancing in the street.
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear,
Just as long as you are there.
So come on, every guy, grab a girl.
Everywhere around the world
They’ll be dancing.
They’re dancing in the street.

It’s an invitation across the nation,
A chance for folks to meet.
There’ll be laughing, singing, and music swinging,
Dancing in the street.
Philadelphia, P.A.
Baltimore and D.C. now.
Can’t forget the Motor City.

All we need is music, sweet music.
There’ll be music everywhere.
There’ll be swinging and swaying and records playing,
Dancing in the street.
Oh, it doesn’t matter what you wear,
Just as long as you are there.
So come on, every guy, grab a girl.
Everywhere around the world
They’re dancing.
They’re dancing in the street.

Way down in L.A. ev’ry day,
They’re dancing in the street.
(Dancing in the street.)
Let’s form a big, strong line, get in time,
We’re dancing in the street.
(Dancing in the street.)
Across the ocean blue, me and you,
We’re dancing in the street.

Songwriters: Marvin Gaye / William Stevenson / Ivy Hunter
Dancing in the Street lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Carlin America Inc