Signs of the Times — The Great Divide

The ludicrous-ness of the polarized political climate came to the fore multiple times yesterday and today, but a few things stand out as being beyond belief.  These are the signs of the times we are now living in, folks.


I received a “BREAKING NEWS!!!” update yesterday afternoon from no less than three media outlets.  I thought that surely somebody must have dropped a nuke as I was folding towels and listening to my phone urgently squawking  “bzzzzt … bzzzzt … bzzzzt”.  What, you ask, was the big crisis?

“Trump feels ‘terribly’ for Kavanaugh”

That’s right, folks … Trump spoke at a news conference …

“I feel so badly for him that he is going through this, to be honest with you. This is not a man who deserves this. Honestly I feel terribly for him, for his wife, who is an incredible, lovely woman and for his beautiful young daughters. I feel terribly for them.”

… and it was BREAKING NEWS!!!  It was so damn important that I was dragged away from my clean towels and damn near given heart failure just to hear Trump empathize with a fellow pervert!  Surely there was something more important going on in the world than this?  And today, it is on the front page of every outlet, Trump’s disparagement of Christine Ford and his empathy for poor little Brett K.  The press’ credibility wears thin when they cannot prioritize any better than this.


And then there was this one that hit my inbox no less than four times:

Ted Cruz claims Beto O’Rourke is ‘going to ban barbecue across the state of Texas’

What … did some brain-eating bacteria invade the confines of Ted Cruz’ skull cavity?  It turns out to be a tweet that Cruz apparently thought humorous …Cruz tweetI don’t find it particularly funny, but neither do I find it worthy of top billing in an email.


Andy Kim-1

Andy Kim

In New Jersey, Andy Kim is running on the democratic ticket for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, against incumbent Tom MacArthur.  MacArthur is a Trump boot-licker and the people of New Jersey may be getting tired of it, for the race is tight, with Kim having a 2% lead at present.  Oh … did I mention that Andy Kim is Asian-American?  No, I didn’t, because it shouldn’t be of any importance.  But alas, this is the year 2018 when evidently ‘race matters’.

The New Jersey Republican State Committee thought it would be cute to target Kim in an ad that can only be considered racist …

Andy KimNeed I say more?  Hopefully this perfidy will only serve to increase Kim’s lead.


I have long believed that those who have never struggled to pay the rent, put food on the table or be able to afford to take their children to the doctor cannot possibly understand what it’s like to be poor.  Unfortunately, throughout history, our lawmakers have never done without anything a day in their lives, but never has this been truer than it is today, with the wealthiest Congress and the richest administration in the history of the nation.  So, it should come as no surprise that Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce whose net worth is estimated at $2.9 billion, said this …

Confirmation Hearing Held For Trump's Pick To Become Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

Somebody slap that stupid grin off his face!

“If you have a 10 percent tariff on another $200 billion, that’s $20 billion a year. That’s a tiny, tiny, tiny fraction of 1 percent total inflation in the U.S. Because it’s spread over thousands and thousands of products, nobody’s gonna actually notice it at the end of the day.”

Christmas is around the corner.  Were you planning to buy your kid a new bike, or a new kitchen gadget for your mom?  Be sure to let ol’ Wilbur know how much more you paid for it than you would have last year.  Or … more likely for most of us … send him a picture of your son’s face on Christmas morning when he finds some t-shirts and underwear in lieu of the bike he asked Santa for.


Just as I finished writing this piece, an email from political analyst Larry Sabato dropped into my inbox, a portion of which I thought might interest you.

A series of new Reuters/Ipsos/University of Virginia Center for Politics polls found close races in the key Senate battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Texas.

The polls, conducted online in English from Sept. 5 to 17 with roughly 2,000 respondents per state (narrowed down to about 1,000 likely voters per state), found the following results for the Senate and gubernatorial races among likely voters in the five states surveyed:

Arizona Senate: Kyrsten Sinema (D) 47%, Martha McSally (R) 44%

Arizona Governor: Doug Ducey (R) 51%, David Garcia (D) 39%

California Senate: Dianne Feinstein (D) 44%, Kevin de León (D) 24%

California Governor: Gavin Newsom (D) 52%, John Cox (R) 40%

Florida Senate: Rick Scott (R) 46%, Bill Nelson (D) 45%

Florida Governor: Andrew Gillum (D) 50%, Ron DeSantis (R) 44%

Nevada Senate: Dean Heller (R) 46%, Jacky Rosen (D) 43%

Nevada Governor: Adam Laxalt (R) 43%, Steve Sisolak (D) 40%

Texas Senate: Beto O’Rourke (D) 47%, Ted Cruz (R) 45%

Texas Governor: Greg Abbott (R) 50%, Lupe Valdez (D) 41%

I found some of these numbers encouraging, especially the Florida governor’s race.


Okay, I could go on and on, but I have ranted enough that I’m feeling the angst and need to get up and do something physical, like punch a wall, or wash some dishes since my landlord still hasn’t fixed my bloomin’ dishwasher!  Have a great afternoon, my friends … and remember, this too shall pass … maybe.light at the end of the tunnel

Good People Doing Good Things — Luke Mickelson

I had to flip a coin tonight, for I was hard-pressed to decide between two good people, both of whom are dedicating their lives to helping children.  I didn’t want to leave either one behind, but there was only so much time, so after the coin flip, I promise to bring you the other next week.

Mickelson-2Luke Mickelson’s life changed back in 2012 when he was asked by his church to build a bed for a little girl who had none.  It was Christmas time, a cold and blustery winter in Twin Falls, Idaho where a little girl was sleeping on the floor on naught but a pile of clothes.

“This little girl had a nest of clothes, it looked like a little bird’s nest. And that’s what she slept on, that’s what her bed was. When we delivered the bed, she hugged it and just couldn’t let go. It was such an eye-opener to me. I sat there in silence thinking, ‘Is that really what’s going on?’ I had no clue about what the need was. There’s kids next door whose parents are struggling just to put food on the table, clothes on their back, a roof over their head. A bed was just a luxury. “

Using his daughter’s bunk bed as a template, Mickelson started buying wood and supplies to build beds with his own money. He recruited friends and family members to help around the holidays.  As word spread, interest and involvement from his and other communities surged — along with Mickelson’s bunk bed output.

Mickelson-3That first year, Luke and his team of volunteers built 11 bunk beds in his garage, and the next year it was 15. As their project became known around the community, the demand rose and before long, Luke had a dilemma … he had a lucrative job, with a six-figure income, but building beds was becoming more and more time-consuming.  What to do?  Luke did what few would likely have done … he quit his job to make beds!  He took a significantly lesser-paying part-time job to support his family and turned his attention toward the needs of his community.SHP-2Mickelson set up a non-profit called Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP) and their motto is “No kid sleeps on the floor in our town”.  With the help of volunteers and donations for materials, SHP in Twin Falls built and delivered 612 beds to children in 2017.

But the organization is no longer just in Twin Falls, Idaho. Mickelson began a training center where people interested in starting a chapter in their own community can come and learn how to make beds and how to organize their own chapter.  In February, Mickelson and SHP were featured in a Facebook video feature titled Returning the Favor and the response was so overwhelming that they increased their chapters from 14 in February to 100 today.  And per their website, they have more than 900 pending requests for new chapters.  This is an idea that is taking off like wildfire, and for such a good cause. mapIn September 2017, a storage unit used by SHP to store materials, mattresses, etc., was burglarized and over $2,000 worth of materials stolen.  From the Idaho State Journal …

CHUBBUCK — A local charity wants those who burglarized the storage unit that contained several mattresses and bedding supplies to know that their actions have kept eight children sleeping on the floor at night.

“It’s very heart-wrenching,” said Luke Mickelson, the founder of the non-profit Sleep in Heavenly Peace, or SHP, which builds and donates bunk beds to children and families who don’t have anywhere to sleep. “Anytime you have something stolen you feel very stripped. But in this case, when you think about it, those people just robbed eight children of a place to sleep.”

First reported to the Chubbuck Police Department on Sept. 1, Mickelson said the thieves stole eight Malouf Lucid twin-size mattresses, along with several boxes of sheets, pillows, pillowcases and custom handmade quilts from a storage unit located in Chubbuck.

Mickelson continued, “If someone is so desperate they have to steal bedding, I hope they were in dire need and they can put it to good use because the quilts were really priceless and were donated from these awesome elderly ladies that put a lot of time into making them. How do you put a price to their time?”

In June, Luke Mickelson and SHP were featured on CNN Heroes. From the SHP website:

We have grown a lot in just the last year. As you can imagine, we are still working out all our processes and bugs. We are currently a 100% volunteer board and staff. No one currently receives a dime from any of the donations.  

Where we didn’t expect such a torrent was in requests to start a new chapter. It was such a flood of requests to start up that we had to better define our processes. As of the writing of this post, we have have a total of 521 requests to start new chapters in 47 states, in 4 provinces of Canada, 1 in the Philippines, 1 in Kenya and 1 in Mexico.

Perhaps the most important thing we can give to others is our time.  Luke Mickelson gave up a lucrative job and countless hours of his time to do something for children.  He and his team of volunteers from coast-to-coast are bringing smiles to kids’ faces every day.  People like this, my friends, are the ‘real’ people in this world, the ones that restore our faith in humanity.

On Being Found Wanting

Today, our friend Roger wrote a post that I have to share with you all. In the politically divided world we find ourselves in today, it is altogether too easy to wake up one morning and find that ‘we’ have become ‘they’, that our own voices are just as toxic as those with whom we disagree. Several times in the past year I have written a post, then scrapped it after a 2nd reading, realizing that it was more vitriolic than informative. Roger’s post speaks of his own struggles to remain above the fray, and his words, spoken from his heart, have value for us all. Many thanks, Roger, for sharing your thoughts and for your kind permission to re-blog.

Raging from the Lectern

Citizen present yourself before the tribunal….. 

Back in the good (that’s irony for all you humourless folk out there, of whatever political stripe) old days of Communist Rule, the powers in charge were very big on Critical Self-Examination. This meant some hapless person who had fallen out of favour got hauled up before a tribunal to confess whatever they’d been told to confess to if they really cared for their family or hoped they might get out in one piece. Having said they had been very, very wrong for whatever it was they had been told they had done wrong they would be shunted out to a firing squad, prison camp in the back of beyond, or if it was being blamed for the demise of the Committee’s potted plants simply sent to clean sewers with their bare hands for a while. No one considered ‘Not Guilty’ as an option.

View original post 905 more words

Sign Of The Apocalypse?

When I first began reading Hugh’s post, I inadvertently let out a primal scream, and after another paragraph, slammed the lid on my laptop, got up and reheated a small bowl of rice before I could finish reading the post. This may not sound like an endorsement for the post, but believe me, it is. Hugh has brought to light something that is happening today that has far longer reaching and outlasting consequences than any of the many abominations tied to Donald Trump. The subject? The re-writing of history, the replacing of facts with opinions. Please, please take a few minutes to read Hugh’s excellent post and think about what he is saying. Get your bowl of rice before you start, though. Thank you, dear Hugh, for bringing this to our attention, and for your generous permission to share.

hughcurtler

One of the more insidious movements in this country is that toward the rewriting of history– eliminating unpleasant facts from the history books. This movement is perhaps a part of the New History movement about which I have blogged in the past — the attempt to reduce history to a form of literature, giving special attention to minor historical figures that have been ignored in the past (probably with good reason!)

In any event, one does wonder why this sort of censorship is not only allowed, but encouraged — even by the Texas State Board of Education which has decided to erase any mention of Hillary Clinton from the history textbooks in order to “streamline” history. As a recent Yahoo news story tells us:

The Texas State Board of Education voted Friday to remove mentions of Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller from the state’s mandatory history curriculum . . .  The…

View original post 334 more words

NRA Takes On … Thomas & Friends???

A few days ago, several readers made the comment that the world has gone mad, and I agreed with them.  Today, I am more convinced than ever that there is something toxic in the atmosphere that is turning people into raving lunatics.  The headline in the New York Times reads …

N.R.A. Show Puts Thomas the Tank Engine in K.K.K. Hood to Criticize Diversity Move

The story begins last Friday, when the kids’ show Thomas and Friends announced that it was adding new characters in partnership with the United Nations, as part of an effort to introduce its preschool audience to new cultures and issues.  The new characters are mostly female and international characters, including Nia, a train from Kenya.

Nia

Nia

The character Thomas the Tank Engine was invented more than 70 years ago by the Rev. W. Awdry, as a story for his son. Mr. Awdry turned the story into the first of many books in 1945, and in 1984, Thomas became the star of a new British animated show that was narrated by Ringo Starr. The show made its American debut in 1989 on PBS.

Apparently, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch has a problem with Nia … or is her problem with diversity … or is her problem with non-whites?  Loesch hosts a program titled Relentless on NRA-TV (yes, for those who didn’t know, the NRA has its very own television network).  On her program last Friday she questioned the ‘need’ for diversity on Thomas’ show …

Dana Loesch“How do you bring ethnic diversity? I mean they had to paint, what I guess they thought was some sort of African pattern on the side of Nia’s engine? How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they’re trains? They don’t even have skin pigmentation. Was there some concern that the show had racist undertones?”

Obviously, Ms. Loesch has no understanding of ethnic diversity, the intolerance that exists in this nation today, or the need to teach children to value those of different cultures & ethnicities.  And so, Ms. Loesch, along with producers at NRA-TV, came up with this …thomas-tank-kkk

I don’t know about you, but when I first saw this image, I was speechless. This is a new low even for the NRA that, as we all know, has no values and cares not a whit about humans … only about money. But to target a very popular kids’ show??? Can anybody say “social conscience”?

What does Loesch’s grotesque distortion of a children’s cartoon have to do with gun rights? Nothing, according to the laws of common sense.  But of late, the NRA has taken its culture war cues from Trump and its segments are anti-Black Lives Matter, pro-cop, anti-media and pro-Trump.  It is no longer just guns the NRA is defending, but its way of life, its identity.  And apparently a children’s television program that promotes peace, understanding and love of others is offensive to Ms. Loesch and the NRA.

There is something ugly about all of this.  There is something vitriolic, toxic in Ms. Loesch and others such as Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter who bring the message of hate and bigotry, even to small children.  I have been engaged in a back-and-forth discussion for the past week or so with a reader concerning whether there ought to be limits to free speech. This abomination by Ms. Loesch and the NRA further cements my viewpoint that when a person or organization fails to accept the responsibility that accompanies the right to free speech, it is further proof that there need to be some limits, some constraints.  Try explaining the above picture to your 4-year-old:

“Well, you see honey, there are some people who don’t like people who don’t look like they do, and so they put white sheets on their heads and go around setting fires on people’s property and killing people.”

Doesn’t make sense even to me, and I’m not 4-years-old!

Where do we draw a line, folks?  Surely even supporters of the 1st and 2nd amendments must be incensed by this?  Surely nobody can defend Ms. Loesch’ attack on diversity?  Or … can they?  Have we gone too far?  For me, the answer is ‘yes’.  What about you?Pooh-sad

A Dose of Saturday Snarky Snippets

Saturday afternoon … and all the news is about Paul Manafort’s plea bargain and Hurricane Florence.  While these are both very important stories, I cannot add much to what is already being said, so, I went in search of a few snippets beyond today’s headlines.


The last laugh …

nike-toonWhen Nike announced that their new ad campaign for the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” motto would feature Colin Kaepernick, the man who took a knee to take a stand against racial injustice, some portion of the nation went a bit berserk.  There were reports of people burning their Nike clothing & shoes, cutting holes in their socks, and all manners of rather stupid (considering they paid for those clothes & shoes) protests.  Boycotts were called for, and Donald Trump, of course had to get in on the act saying, “I don’t like what Nike did. I don’t think it’s appropriate what they did.”  Rather tame for him, come to think of it.

The rumour mill, aka ‘social media’, fed by people who have entirely too much time on their hands to think up stupid things to do, went wild.  Within days of the announcement, for example, it was reported that Nike scotched the deal after Kaepernick launched into an “anti-white rant” in public (false), that Nike lost an $80 million U.S. government contract because of the deal (false), and that former NBA star Michael Jordan had resigned from Nike’s board of directors in protest of the Kaepernick deal (also false).  Then on September 9th, it was reported by a junk website that Kaepernick was arrested for trespassing after running onto the field during the national anthem “as a publicity stunt” at an NFL game in San Francisco.  Also blatantly false.  Trump talks a lot about libel laws when somebody reports something unfavourable yet true about him … these stories about Kaepernick are what libel actually looks like.

And of course, the predictions by some were that Nike would be on the verge of bankruptcy within a year. Thus, it is with great joy that I report that on Thursday, Nike stock reached an all-time high, closing at $83.47, and gained yet another two-cents yesterday, closing at $83.49!  Additionally, Nike’s online revenue increased by 31% in the days after the announcement. Go Nike!

nike swoosh-2


NRA oopsie … 

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting corporations and unions from making expenditures in connection with federal elections.  Known as Citizens United, this case opened the door for massive amounts of money to be spent by big businesses and lobbyists such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) on advertising for individual candidates who they believe will, in return, vote in their favour once in office.  There are, however, some rules & limitations.

One such rule is that while such groups can raise and spend virtually unlimited amounts on an election, they must do so independently of the candidate. In other words there cannot be an agreement between, say, the NRA and a specific candidate.  And so, when the following conversation between republican senate candidate Matt Rosendale of Montana and an unidentified person took place in a bar one July night, it was in violation of the Federal Election Commission (FEC rules).

“I fully expect the NRA is going to come in… in August sometime. The Supreme Court confirmations are big. That’s what sent the NRA over the line. Because in ’12, with [Republican Senate nominee Denny Rehberg] they stayed out, they stayed out of Montana. But Chris Cox told me, he’s like, ‘We’re going to be in this race.’”

matt rosendaleChris Cox is the head of the NRA lobbying efforts, and sure enough, earlier this month, the NRA spent more than $400,000 on ads hitting Rosendale’s democratic opponent, incumbent Jon Tester over the precise issue that Rosendale mentioned—the senator’s votes on Supreme Court nominations.  Dirty pool?  You betcha.  Is anything likely to come of it?  It is extremely doubtful, for there is no evidence in the audio recording that Rosendale consented or encouraged the contribution. Just one more of the many tricks the GOP and NRA have up their sleeves.


‘Fear’-less library …

fear-libraryThe town of Berkeley Springs is located in Morgan County, West Virginia.  West Virginia voted 75% for Donald Trump in 2016, which says something about the state.  Nonetheless, there is a library in Berkeley.  The Director of the Morgan County Public Library is one Donna Crocker.  On Tuesday, when Bob Woodward’s book, Fear:  Trump in the White House, was released, Berkeley Springs resident Rob Campbell generously attempted to donate a copy of the book to the library but was turned down flat.  Crocker declined his offer, saying that they “… wouldn’t be putting books like that on the shelves anymore.”  Books like that???  Like what?  What year is this, again?

After a hue and cry on Facebook by residents who are apparently eager to read the book, Ms. Crocker’s decision was overridden by Connie Perry, the president of the trustees of the Morgan County Public Library.  Ms. Perry attempted to pass the incident off as just a ‘misunderstanding’, saying “It was an employee who . . . wasn’t aware of what she should have done.”  And yet … Crocker is the Director, not just any employee.  I strongly suspect Ms. Crocker made the decision based on her own political preferences, for when asked in a phone interview about her decision, she said “I don’t want to get in the middle of that. We have other Trump books.”book banning


And thus concludes yet another episode of Snarky Snippets. Have a great rest-of-the-weekend!

Not A Success … A Damn Disaster!

On Tuesday, Donald Trump made the following statement:

“The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did, working along with the Governor in Puerto Rico, I think was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success. If you ask the governor, he’ll tell you what a great job.”

Not content with that, on Wednesday morning at 5:51 a.m., he tweeted …

“We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work in Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent Mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!”

Undoubtedly, some fell for his braggadocio, but for most of us, it was a jaw-dropping moment, knowing as we do that our response in Puerto Rico was anything but ‘great’.  A year later, Puerto Rico still struggles.  Remember Trump’s sole contribution?trump paper towelsPuerto Ricans are still struggling with basic necessities. Fully 83% reported either major damage to their homes, losing power for more than three months, employment setbacks or worsening health problems, among other effects of the storm. The power is spotty, and many are leery of drinking the water. Roads are damaged, dangerous, and difficult to navigate — like “the surface of the moon,” according to one resident — and in some places, the roadways remain impassible.

Eighty percent of Puerto Ricans rate Trump’s response to Maria negatively, an assessment that contradicts the president’s claim two weeks ago that “most of the people in Puerto Rico appreciate what we’ve done.”

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who Trump had suggested the press ask about the great job we had done, responded:governor response

The most recent death toll from Hurricane Maria is 2,975.  Nearly three thousand people died, and Trump calls it an “unsung success”?  No, this was no success, it was a disaster … a damn disaster!

Earlier this month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report assessing how recovery efforts had fared.  Among their findings …

  • Problems with debris removal and a shortage of proper equipment for the task. “Officials said there were resource constraints,” the report reads, “so they had to prioritize debris removal from state-managed roads, before clearing local roads.”
  • Insufficient bilingual employees to communicate with residents and translate documents.
  • Not enough generators were available to meet demand, and not enough recovery material was positioned on the island in advance of the storm. The day before Maria made landfall, four generators had been delivered to the island. Thirty-five were delivered to Texas ahead of Harvey.
  • About 1.6 million meals and 700,000 liters of water were delivered and eight shelters opened to hold 306 people. By contrast, before Irma made landfall in Florida, 4.8 million meals and 9.9 million liters of water were delivered and 249 shelters were opened to hold nearly 50,000 people. That Puerto Rico is harder to access than Florida is both accurate and noted in the report.
  • FEMA faced a staff shortage of 37 percent as of Sept. 1, 2017. Of “reservists” called up to aid the recovery efforts in all the disasters, 46 percent of those deployed last year were not rated as “qualified” for their job functions. At least 15 percent refused a deployment for medical or other reasons.
  • Many reservists on Puerto Rico “were not physically fit to handle conditions on the island,” according to one official, who suggested that “a fitness test should have been required before they were eligible to deploy.”
  • Volunteers similarly indicated that their skill sets weren’t matched to assigned tasks and that training was insufficient.

And that death toll.  Nearly 3,000 people – human beings, U.S. citizens.  😢  No, Donald Trump, we were not in the least bit successful, despite your throwing paper towels at people who had just lost everything.

pr-2pr-3pr-4pr-5

Newsworthy …

The news of the day is predominantly predictions and warnings about Hurricane Florence, expected to hit the Carolinas tomorrow.  Our friend Keith is in Charlotte, North Carolina, so I’ll be thinking of him and hoping he and his family are safe.  And, Trump is running his mouth & thumbs again, falsely claiming what a “great job” he did in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico, and slamming San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.  I will have more to say about that tomorrow. But a couple of other things crossed my path this morning …

And we thought the NRA was bad? 

In yesterday’s New Hampshire republican primary, a man named Eddie Edwards won over Andy Sanborn by just over 3,000 votes, or 6.8%.  Eddie, endorsed by Rudy Giuliani, is a big Trump fan …

“The president’s doing one hell of a job in Washington. It’s about time we had a president who understood the values of our country and stood up for our country.”

eddie edwardsThat in itself is enough to make one want to head for the nearest bathroom, but that is far from the worst of it.  Edwards is a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, the likes of which we have never seen, not even in the most ardent gun supporters such as the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre.  Hold on to your hats for this one, folks.  Eddie fully supports a total repeal of the background check system.  A TOTAL repeal … no background checks … ever … for anyone.  But wait … there’s even more.

He says he would vote to shrink or eliminate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms (ATF). He would oppose any legislative or regulatory prohibition on “bump stocks.” He also vows to repeal the 1996 federal law that prohibits bringing guns within 1000 feet of schools, to end limits on gun imports that are not for “sporting purposes,” and to even repeal the 1996 Lautenberg amendment that prevents people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns. In other words, not only would he eliminate the background checks, but would also arm more domestic abusers.  Listen to Eddie …

A 2013 poll by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that even in pro-gun New Hampshire, 89 percent of likely voters supported universal mandatory background checks for gun purchases.  Now, aside from the fact that I don’t foresee Congress, even if Mr. Eddie Edwards were to attain a seat in the House, passing laws to make any of Eddie’s dreams come true, I find it extremely disturbing that a man with these ideas could make it as far as he has in politics.  At least 21,767 people  in new Hampshire support this insanity.


Free speech runs amok … again

It’s called the Institute for Historical Review (IHR).  Sounds innocuous enough, yes?  But no.  It is an anti-Semitic hate group whose main ‘claim to fame’ is in denying that the Holocaust happened, even claiming that the Anne Frank’s diary was a hoax and the gas chambers never existed.  This month, IHR has been allowed to place advertisements on San Francisco’s mass transit system, BART (Bay Area Regional Transit). BARTWhy?  Why would BART allow a blatantly, unapologetic anti-Semitic organization to advertise on its trains?  Because …

“You have to look at it for exactly what words are used and what images are used … There is plenty of case law and court rulings that show if you deny the ad, you can be taken to court, and you’ll lose, and that’s obviously costly.”

Anti-Semitism is on the rise … hate crimes and discrimination against Jews rose by 57% in the U.S. in 2017.  To be fair, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe also, but at least there, they have laws that curtail such abomination as hate groups advertising in public venues.  But here … anything goes under the guise of free speech.  This is not free speech … this robs people of their right to peace of mind!

In 2015, a judge ruled that New York’s MTA (Mass Transit Authority) could not stop an ad from being run that read “Killing Jews is Worship that draws us close to Allah.” The ad was created by a pro-Israel organization whose president, Pamela Geller, is a well-known Islamophobe.  And just last August, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) took the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to court for refusing a number of ads, including one by right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos.

Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I am a staunch supporter of free speech, for I believe that it is the only thing keeping this nation free from a dictatorship.  Even when I don’t particularly like or agree with what is said, I support the person’s right to say it.  However, in my mind there is a line, and advertising anti-Semitism or any other form of hate on public transit crosses that line.  The divisiveness in this country today, and Donald Trump’s support of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups has contributed to this madness.  What’s more, I see no end in sight, but predict an escalation to these types of hate speech.

It is quite possible to support freedom of speech without supporting speech that denigrates others and invites violence.  Think about  it.

Good People Doing Good Things — Carolyn Collins

I was working on a special piece for this week’s ‘Good People’ feature, but as often happens, I find that it requires more digging and research than I have time for right at this moment, so I will have that one next week.  But for today … you are going to fall in love with this woman!  She will restore your faith in human nature!  Please allow me to introduce …Carolyn-Collins-2Carolyn Collins, a high school custodian in Tucker, Georgia.  About four years ago, Carolyn was working the early shift, it was still dark out, and she was getting ready to take out the trash when there came a knock on the cafeteria door.  Two students — a boy and a girl — looked at her nervously. “Can we please come in?” asked the boy, even though school didn’t start for two more hours. “Me and my sister are getting tired of waiting outside.”

Talking to the two, Carolyn learned that they were homeless, living in a car with their mother, and hadn’t had much to eat for several days.  She fixed them something to eat and sat chatting with them for a few minutes.  It was from them that she learned there were actually several homeless kids in the school, some living in cars, some in homeless shelters, some even living on the streets.  Carolyn’s heart was touched, and she knew she had to find a way to help.giving closetAfter work that evening, Carolyn stopped at several dollar stores on her way home, purchasing $200 worth of snacks, toiletries, socks, underwear, notebooks, and pencils.  The next morning, she dropped into Principal Eric Parker’s office to let him know what she was doing and to ask if she could make use of a small, mostly-unused storage closet near the cafeteria.  And with that began the Giving Closet.

Many of the students at Tucker High School live in poverty, and according to Principal Parker, at any given time there are typically 10-15 students who are homeless.  Carolyn started out with just a few items, but as she realized how great the needs of the students were, she expanded and now has clothing, belts, shoes, gloves, hairbrushes … you name it, she’s got it, and if she doesn’t have it, she’ll get it.  She spends a few hundred dollars of her own hard-earned money each month keeping the closet stocked.  These days, teachers, other students, and members of the community also bring items to help keep the closet stocked.

Carolyn’s son was murdered during the Thanksgiving weekend six years ago in a home invasion.  She hopes that what she is doing will help keep the young men and women of Tucker High off the streets and prevent what happened to her own son from happening to these young people.

Earlier this year, her efforts came to the attention of television host Steve Harvey after Atlanta-based TV station 11Alive shared Carolyn’s story in December of 2017. Grab your box of tissues and take peek …

“I never anticipated it would get this big, lots of good people want to help. Not every kid who comes to the closet is homeless — some come from single homes and don’t have dads in their lives. It’s hard not to have a dad at home, especially when you’re a young boy. I just hug them and love them and let them know that I’m here for them.”

One of the young men she helped who has since graduated and is now a sophomore at Savannah State University, says of Carolyn …

“I love her with all my heart, she was my angel. Ms. Collins took me aside a couple of times and made sure that I was doing okay and asked me what I needed. And I basically told her, ‘everything.’ I didn’t have clothes or good shoes or food, or even a toothbrush. She gave me all of that and more.”

I so admire Ms. Carolyn Collins … she is what we should all aspire to be, don’t you think?

Carolyn-Collins-3

“They can come to me for anything. If I have it, I’m going to give it to them.”

 

Wrong Place, Wrong Time …

One night a few years ago, Chris was out of town at a band function, and Miss Goose and I were in the living room each engaged in “doing our own thing”, when the front door opened, and a man walked in.  He was as startled as we were, for he thought he was entering his daughter’s apartment, so imagine his surprise to be greeted by my “WTF”!  It was an honest mistake, for this is a complex of some 200 attached townhomes and they all look exactly the same.  We all did an embarrassing chuckle, he apologized and left to find his daughter’s apartment, and we remembered to lock the door thereafter (though we still sometimes forget).

A similar mistake happened in Texas this week, only this one turned deadly.  Amber Guyger is a four-year veteran of the Dallas, Texas, police force. Ms. Guyger had just gotten off duty and was returning home, but perhaps tired or distracted, she entered the wrong apartment.apartmentBut instead of doing what our ‘intruder’ did, apologizing and leaving to find the correct apartment, Ms. Guyger pulled her gun and shot the resident of the apartment, Mr. Botham Shem Jean.  Only in America, I think, is the first response to a difficult situation to shoot first and ask questions later.  But oops … it’s rather difficult to ask questions of a dead man, isn’t it?  Mr. Jean, a 26-year-old accountant, died at the hospital a short time later.

Amber-Guyger-and-Botham-Shem-Jean.png

Amber Guyger (left) and Botham Shem Jean

Daughter Chris is fond of all things British, and as such when she is home on weekends usually has some British television show on … not necessarily watching it … but it’s on.  I happened to glance up earlier this morning as she was watching a British police show, Scott & Bailey.  In that episode, a female with an ax to grind against a female police detective, ambushed the female detective and wrested her into a car, using … a kitchen knife.  Not a gun.  In the U.S., it would have been a gun, and likely the show would not have had the same ending as it did – the detective survived uninjured.

Gun advocates, of whom there are many in this country, argue that people are killed with knives, baseball bats and other implements as well.  I agree, however it is not a valid argument, for I can survive a knife wound or a bonk on the head with a baseball bat.  I cannot likely survive a gunshot wound.  What if the man who had entered my home had a gun in his waistband?  Or what if I had one on the table next to where I was working?  Would he have shot me or I, him?

I could offer many more examples of people dying because of a hasty decision when a gun was all too handy, but I won’t bother, for you’ve all heard them before.  The United States is the only nation on the globe where a gun is considered as necessary as a pencil or a pair of shoes.  Want to “make America great”?  Stand up to the NRA and the gun lobbyists.  Rally for more gun laws and fewer guns in the hands of people who are, after all, only human and don’t always think before acting.  Granted, Ms. Guyger was a police officer, entitled to carry a gun, but why did she still have it on her person after going off-duty?  And why, for Pete’s sake, did she instinctively fire her gun before looking around and realizing she wasn’t in her own home after all?

It is time for the U.S. to use some common sense.  In the current climate of political discord leading to a divisiveness such as has not been seen in this country since the end of the Civil War, the last thing we need is for people to be on the streets carrying firearms.  But yes, I realize my pleas will fall on deaf ears and by this time next year, nothing will have changed except thousands more people will be dead … some for no reason other than that they were in their own home, minding their own business.  Or in school, trying to get an education.  Think about it.