DAMN YOU, Donald Trump

The news of the day is that the U.S. unemployment rate fell in May to 13.3%.  Ho hum … yawn.  First … don’t be fooled.  Yes, with the re-opening of businesses, employees were called back to work and thus the unemployment rate was destined to fall, though I would question the 13.3% rate, as the figure comes from the federal government, and thus is not to be believed.  Plus … just last week, new unemployment claims totaled over 1.9 million.  Plus … with the re-opening of businesses and people out and about more, there will be a resurgence of the coronavirus.  Will businesses shut down again?  Quite possibly.jobs-graph

Even the Department of Labour cautioned that data-collection issues that have plagued the agency throughout the crisis continued last month. Some temporarily jobless workers were characterized as “employed” in May; had they been counted correctly, the department said, the unemployment rate would have topped 16 percent.

On the news of the drop in the unemployment rate (which, it should be noted, is still nearly triple what it was in the pre-coronavirus days), the stock market surges.  Stupid people.

More than half of the jobs added were in the food and beverage industry – restaurants and bars.  But even so, business is not what it once was, and once restaurant owners see that they are not making a profit … and they likely won’t for some time yet, as many people are still unwilling to mingle in public … businesses will start to go out of business.  There are so many variables in play that only a fool would take the numbers released today as a sign that the economy is on the rebound.  And speaking of fools …

Donald Trump gave himself his usual disgusting ‘pat on the back’ when the numbers were released this morning, claiming that the jobless numbers represent “the greatest comeback in American history.”  Not true … not even if the numbers were accurate would it be true, but then since when does Trump deal in truisms?  He also tweeted …

“Really Big Jobs Report. Great going President Trump (kidding but true)!”

What a pompous ass.   He had little, if anything, to do with employees being called back to work.  And in yet another foolish tweet, he claimed this single number, shaky as it is and in the midst of a nation afire with racism and police brutality, would cinch his bid for re-election …

“Oh no, the Dems are worried again. The only one that can kill this comeback is Sleepy Joe Biden!”

But all the bullshit aside, in his impromptu news conference this morning in the Rose Garden, he crossed a line when he said …

“We all saw what happened last week. We can’t let that happen. Hopefully, George is looking down right now, and saying, ‘This is a great thing that’s happening for our country.’ This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”

I was speechless when I read this … speechless for all of about 3 seconds until I let forth a string of expletives worthy of a truck driver.  How could anybody with a shred of human decency, anybody with even a tiny bit of conscience, make such a ludicrous, offensive statement?  But then, decency and conscience are not things that Trump has ever been accused of having.  Still … this is perhaps a new low for even him.

No, Donald, this is not a “great day” for George Floyd who was brutally murdered on May 25th.  It is not a great day for this nation, which is burning down around us.  It is not a great day for virtually anyone living in the United States, though some are not capable of realizing it.  Damn you, Donald Trump … just DAMN YOU.

Snarky Snippets … Or … Mini Rants?

I’m not sure if this is a snarky snippet or a mini rant … I’m leaning toward mini-rant, but I’ll let you decide.  I know that by the time I finished writing it, there was smoke coming out of my ears, and my throat was sore from incessant growling.  Aren’t you glad you don’t have to live with me?


Rogue cops … or is this the wave of the present?

Y’know … I have long said that most police officers are good people doing their best to keep the public safe, and that there were only a few rogue cops giving them all a bad rap.  Today, I’m not so sure about that.  From an article in The Washington Post

“Police swarmed an impromptu field station in Asheville, N.C., on Tuesday, dispersing medics who had gathered in an alley to treat protesters.

The officers, wearing riot gear and carrying shields, violently dismantled the station. Police can be seen stomping on the provisions and stabbing water bottles in video and images captured by journalists at the Asheville Citizen Times.”

Asheville-policeWTF??????

Sean Miller, a student at University of North Carolina at Asheville who spoke on behalf of the medics, told the Citizen Times that about a dozen people — including doctors and first responders — were at the medical station when police suddenly arrived.  The medics moved the station to a public park after the police smashed about $700 worth of eyewash, food and other supplies.

This reminds me of something I would expect to see in a movie about Nazi Germany, not the former United States of America.


Sure, just trash the environment, Donnie!

Yesterday, Trump signed another one of his executive orders, this one calling on agencies to waive required environmental reviews of infrastructure projects.  Environmental reviews.  Waived.  So, if a project will contaminate the water source that serves a community of thousands of people … oh well.  If a project will completely eradicate a species of rabbits that live in its path … so what?  This is Donald Trump’s land, after all, Donald Trump’s water and air supplies … none of the rest of us matter one whit!

The stated goal is to fast-track big new infrastructure projects to boost the economy, but in truth it is yet another bonus for the fossil fuel industry.  Trump’s order directs federal agencies to look for ways to avoid time-consuming processes and build transportation and energy infrastructure, including highways, oil and gas pipelines, and fossil fuel export terminals.

Usually big projects like these require long approval processes under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). President Nixon signed NEPA into law in 1970. It requires agencies to examine the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and consider alternatives. It also gives people a chance to see how a project might affect them and weigh in on what decision the government should make. If a project affects an endangered animal or plant the Endangered Species Act might also be involved.  Nixon may have been a crook, but he hads a hell of a lot more conscience than Trump has!


Another one takes a stand …

Grassley-1I am not a fan of Senator Chuck Grassley.  He has been in the U.S. Senate since January 1981, nearly 40 years, and before that he served six years in the House of Representatives.  He has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, which tells you a lot right there, and after Trump took office and almost immediately fired James Comey, Grassley told people to “Suck it up and move on.” 

But yesterday, he did something that I have to applaud.  He announced that he is blocking Trump’s nominations of Christopher Miller to head the National Counterterrorism Center and Marshall Billingslea to be the State Department’s undersecretary for arms control and international security, pending explanations by Trump for the firing of a number of Inspectors General.  He said he will not allow consideration of Miller’s nomination to proceed until the White House provides answers on Trump’s firing in April of intelligence community inspector general Michael Atkinson.  In addition, he said Billingslea’s nomination cannot proceed until Trump explains why he terminated State Department inspector general Steve Linick last month.

In recent months (since February, when the Senate, including Grassley, gave Trump a free pass by refusing to convict him of the well-proven impeachment charges), Trump has fired five Inspectors General.  In addition to Atkinson and Linick, he has pushed out Glenn Fine, chairman of the federal panel Congress created to oversee his administration’s management of the government’s $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package. He removed Christi Grimm as principal deputy inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services, after Grimm’s office criticized the administration’s response to the pandemic. And he replaced the acting inspector general at the Department of Transportation.

Says Grassley …

“Though the Constitution gives the president the authority to manage executive branch personnel, Congress has made it clear that should the president find reason to remove an inspector general, there ought to be a good reason for it. The White House’s response failed to address this requirement, which Congress clearly stated in statute and accompanying reports.”

This time, anyway, I’m proud of Grassley … it apparently takes a lot of courage to stand up to the bully in the White House … courage that very few of them seem to have.


They’re spending our tax dollars on WHAT???

You remember that $2 trillion bill Congress passed back in late March?  Some taxpayers received $1,200 from the bill, some small businesses received some money, large chunks went to corporations affiliated with Trump & his cronies, but much of the money that was allocated to the Pentagon to “battle the coronavirus pandemic” has been spent on things that have literally not a damn thing to do with providing medical equipment or helping people in any way.

The Washington Post received a copy of the Pentagon’s spending plans to use the money.  To date, of the $10.5 billion they received, they have spent only $2.65 billion.  Most disturbing though, are some of the things they are spending the money on, such as submarine missile tubes, space launch facilities, and golf course staffing.  GOLF COURSE STAFFING???  And just what earthly purpose in battling the coronavirus pandemic do submarine missile tubes and space launch facilities have???  Are they going to torpedo the virus, or send those who contract the virus into outer space?  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Take a look at the article in The Post  … it is guaranteed to make smoke start pouring out of your ears!

Snarky-Inducing Things On My Radar

You would be surprised if I said I didn’t have any snarkiness built up and just waiting for an outlet, wouldn’t you?  Just when we think it’s gotten as bad as it can get here in the U.S., fate (or Donald Trump) steps in to prove to us that no, it can get much worse.  Which has me lying awake nights wondering … what’s next?  But, for today, here are a few of the things on my radar …


The press must do better!

I am fully supportive of our free press, I realize that they are the only thing standing between us and a dictatorship, but sometimes I get frustrated with them.  One example … the headline reads:

The president’s convention speech will be moved from Charlotte, N.C., after Republicans clashed with Democrats over virus concerns.

Makes it sound as if it were just more political fighting … democrats vs republicans, round 2,114.  But that was not the case at all!  North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper refused to allow a full-fledged, packed stadium style convention to take place in light of the precautions the state is taking due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Yes, Governor Cooper is a democrat, but his decision was not an attempt to stifle the Republican National Convention on political grounds, but rather to protect the people of his state.  That is, after all, his job!

Now, the republican leadership and Donald Trump may choose to view it as a political move, but the free press should be neutral, should be above the petty grievances of political parties.  I am disgusted and disappointed that the New York Times stoops to such cheap tactics.  Governor Cooper did offer a compromise, a smaller convention with safety measures in place, but Trump and the GOP said, “All or nothing at all.”  So fine, let them have it elsewhere — it looks like Florida’s Governor DeSantis is eager to invite more coronavirus cases to his state.  North Carolina may lose a bit of bar and restaurant revenue, but they may also save a heck of a lot of lives.  Thumbs up to Governor Cooper!


One bit of good news …

Representative Steve King of Iowa has been on my radar for several years.  He is a blatant racist and doesn’t care who knows it.  He even earned the Idiot of the Week award back in 2017.

In the past year or so, his rhetoric has become even more offensive, so much so that last year his own party stripped him of all his committee assignments.  But on Tuesday, Steve King got what he deserved!  He lost the Iowa primary by ten points to his contender, Iowa State Senator Randy Feenstra.

King claims that his loss came from an effort to “push out the strongest voice for Christian conservatism”.  He then went on to claim that the “spirit of America is being fractured by anarchists in this country.”  Yep, he’s still as much an idiot as he was in 2017!

Thumbs up to the people of Iowa for finally removing this ugly racist wart from our Congress!


Another good bit of news …

Donald Trump has been throwing his weight around (and there surely is a lot of it to throw around!) these past few days, and one of his threats has been to send the military into our cities to quell the protests, most of which are peaceful, that are a response to the continual racism in this nation.  Turns out that his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, doesn’t agree with him.  Esper actually found his cojones and said in no uncertain terms that he opposes sending active-duty troops into U.S. cities to deal with violent protesters.

“The option to use active-duty forces in a law enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and only in the most urgent and dire situations. We are not in one of those situations right now.  I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.”

Is it possible that even some of Trump’s sycophants are beginning to see what sort of tyrant they’ve aligned with?  We can only hope.


About damn time …

Finally, more than a week after the brutal murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota, the other three officers involved who stood watching while Derek Chauvin choked Mr. Floyd to death, have been charged with “aiding and abetting murder.”  The three former officers are Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34.  Thus far, Thao is the only one who has been arrested, though there are warrants out for Kueng and Lane.

Tou Thao has faced six prior misconduct complaints in his career with the Minneapolis Police Department. He also was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed he and another officer punched, kicked and kneed an African-American man, leaving the man with broken teeth and bruises.

In addition to the charges against the three, charges against Chauvin were upgraded to 2nd degree murder on Wednesday, charges that carry a potential maximum sentence of 40 years.  I really hope he serves every single day of those 40 years.  And, since these are not federal charges, Trump won’t be able to pardon him!


And speaking of pardons …

On Tuesday, Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative group Turning Point USA, wrote on Twitter (do any politicians actually communicate in more than 280 characters anymore?):

“Roger Stone will serve more time in prison than 99% of these rioters destroying America All because he supports Donald Trump. This isn’t justice. RT for a full pardon of Roger Stone!”

Trump went on to share the tweet Thursday morning, writing in his own accompanying message:

“No. Roger was a victim of a corrupt and illegal Witch Hunt, one which will go down as the greatest political crime in history. He can sleep well at night!”

roger-stoneRoger Stone … a lifelong criminal with a list of crimes longer than my arm, can sleep well at night as Trump will pardon him, ensuring he doesn’t pay for his crimes. Meanwhile the rest of us lie awake worrying about the state of our nation with a madman at the helm.  See the irony here?


TrumpThe answer is “EVERYTHING!”

A Wiser Man Speaks …

mattisGeneral James Norman Mattis served 44 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, commanding forces in the Persian Gulf War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Iraq War.  After his retirement, Mattis served as the 26th U.S. Secretary of Defense from January 2017 through January 2019.  His resignation came about as a result of Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, leaving the area vulnerable, but Mattis had disagreed with Trump on a number of issues before, such as pulling out of the Iran nuclear agreement.  I have tremendous respect for General Mattis, and thus I am sharing an OpEd he wrote that was published in The Atlantic yesterday.


In Union There Is Strength

I have watched this week’s unfolding events, angry and appalled. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” are carved in the pediment of the United States Supreme Court. This is precisely what protesters are rightly demanding. It is a wholesome and unifying demand—one that all of us should be able to get behind. We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers. The protests are defined by tens of thousands of people of conscience who are insisting that we live up to our values—our values as people and our values as a nation.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battlespace” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate.” At home, we should use our military only when requested to do so, on very rare occasions, by state governors. Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part. Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them.

James Madison wrote in Federalist 14 that “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier, exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign ambition than America disunited, with a hundred thousand veterans ready for combat.” We do not need to militarize our response to protests. We need to unite around a common purpose. And it starts by guaranteeing that all of us are equal before the law.

Instructions given by the military departments to our troops before the Normandy invasion reminded soldiers that “The Nazi slogan for destroying us…was ‘Divide and Conquer.’ Our American answer is ‘In Union there is Strength.’” We must summon that unity to surmount this crisis—confident that we are better than our politics.

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.

We can come through this trying time stronger, and with a renewed sense of purpose and respect for one another. The pandemic has shown us that it is not only our troops who are willing to offer the ultimate sacrifice for the safety of the community. Americans in hospitals, grocery stores, post offices, and elsewhere have put their lives on the line in order to serve their fellow citizens and their country. We know that we are better than the abuse of executive authority that we witnessed in Lafayette Square. We must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution. At the same time, we must remember Lincoln’s “better angels,” and listen to them, as we work to unite.

Only by adopting a new path—which means, in truth, returning to the original path of our founding ideals—will we again be a country admired and respected at home and abroad.

James Mattis

“Final decisions about the nation’s existence are at stake here…” America at the Tipping Point of Dictatorship and Democracy

As we see the threat of an authoritarian regime becoming increasingly real, comparisons to the start of Hitler’s regime in the 1930s come to mind. Last night, I read this post by Padre Steve, a historian whose views I value. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read his wise words, and understand why it is so important that we take action to change the course the U.S. is currently on. Thank you, Padre.

The Inglorius Padre Steve's World

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

I started this article last night but could not finish it because of how upset I was after seeing President Trump’s speech last night where he threatened the use of active duty military forces against protestors, declared an unorganized amorphous group known as Antifa, as a terrorist organization on the order of Al Qaida, and launched into a tirade worthy of Hitler in a teleconference with the nation’s governors.

But what got me was what happened during his speech. He promised the use of dominating protestors, as he ended his speech tear gas was launched and a line of unarmed peaceful protestors near St John’s Episcopal Church were suddenly assaulted by heavily armed police in riot gear and officers mounted on horseback. An aid station was overrun and two priests handing out water assaulted. I do not know if National Guard personnel were involved in…

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♫ A Change Is Gonna Come ♫

Sam CookeThis one was never a #1 hit, maybe some of you have never even heard it before, but in light of the recent murder by police of George Floyd and the blatant racism we see by our own elected officials, I felt this was a very appropriate song to share.  I do hope you will spend the 3 minutes to listen … it is poignant, moving.

The song was inspired by various personal events in Cooke’s life, most prominently an event in which he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only motel in Louisiana. Cooke felt compelled to write a song that spoke to his struggle and of those around him, and that pertained to the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans.

On October 8, 1963, en route to Shreveport, Louisiana, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara, and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies. While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to calm him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.” When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.

Upon hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1963, Cooke was greatly moved that such a poignant song about racism in America could come from someone who was not black, and was also ashamed he had not yet written something like that himself. However, his image and fears of losing his largely white fan base prevented him from doing so. Cooke loved the song so much it was immediately incorporated into his repertoire.

Many others, including Aaron Neville and Patti LaBelle have recorded this song, but … well, it belongs to Sam Cooke, so without further ado …

A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cook

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Sam Cooke
A Change Is Gonna Come lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

Good People Doing Good Things —

Good people are everywhere.  In the past week, we may not have noticed them as they quietly went about the business of helping others, for chaos and drama were much more at the forefront.  But the good people were still there …


Scott Rudes is the principal of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas, Texas.  The school, like all others in the U.S., closed in mid-March as a result of the coronavirus, and like every other school in the nation, its students missed out on the rites of passage otherwise known as ‘graduation’.

Dr. Rudes, however, found a way to make graduation special for the 249 seniors graduating from his school.  While other schools have held online ceremonies, Dr. Rudes wanted it to be more personal for his students, so he hopped in his pickup and spent the next 10 days driving 1,500 miles to personally present each student with a diploma!Scott-Rudes-1

“When I get to the house, we’re all masked up and we’re all sanitized, and I bring them their diploma cover and we have an opportunity to take a socially distanced picture. Many of the places that I’ve shown up to, it’s been a mini-graduation ceremony with the red carpet and the backdrop and everything.  Even though we’re going through extraordinary times right now, they are extraordinary people and they’re worth this effort.”

Scott-Rudes-2

“Whatever presents in life, find the opportunity with that and run with it. That’s one of the things I think we do best at a school like ours with artists, to teach them to view the world from multiple perspectives and to be creative and expressive. I think that’s what gets them through the hard times.”

Two thumbs up 👍👍 to Dr. Scott Rudes for giving the gift of time … for caring.


I first became aware of Captain Thomas Moore a month or so ago, and considered him for a ‘good people’ post back then, but for some reason that I cannot remember, he didn’t quite make the cut that week, and by the next week I had forgotten Captain Tom.  But this week when he came back onto my radar, I knew I had to include him.

Captain Tom, is a former British Army officer who served in India, the Burma campaign, and Sumatra during the Second World War, and later became an instructor in armoured warfare. After the war, he worked as managing director of a concrete company and was an avid motorcycle racer.

On April 6th of this year, at the age of 99, he began to walk laps in his garden to raise money to aid the NHS Charities Together (NHS is the National Health Service in the UK), with the goal of raising £1,000 by his hundredth birthday on April 30th.  In the 24-day course of his fundraising he made many media appearances and became a popular household name in the United Kingdom, generating much interest in his life story, earning a number of accolades and attracting over 1.5 million individual donations. He featured in a cover version of the song You’ll Never Walk Alone, with proceeds going to the same charity. The single topped the UK music charts and made him the oldest person to achieve a UK number one!Tom-MooreWhile Captain Tom started with the modest goal of raising £1,000, he far surpassed that goal!  On the morning of his hundredth birthday the total raised by his walk passed £30 million, and by the time the campaign closed at the end of that day had increased to over £32.79 million, or about $41.2 million USD! Tom-Moore-bdayMore than 1 million people from around the world signed a petition to have him knighted—but despite all the appreciation and praise, Moore remained humble during his birthday celebration with the press and requested that they end the event with a round of applause for healthcare workers.  Thanks to a special nomination from Prime Minister Boris Johnson which was approved by Queen Elizabeth II this week, however, the veteran’s official new title is Captain Sir Thomas Moore.Tom-Moore-tweet

100 years old and giving his all to help others … now THAT’S what I call a good people!


I’d like you to meet former bartender Doc Hendley …Hendley-1Now, back in 2009 Doc was one of the CNN Heroes of the Year for his work starting a non-profit, Wine to Water, to provide clean water and sanitation to communities around the world.  I may feature him and Wine to Water in a future ‘good people’ post, but today Doc is on my radar for another reason.

When restaurants across the country closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of service industry workers suddenly lost their jobs.  As many of them found themselves struggling to make ends meet, Doc wanted to do something to help.

“It was devastating for the service industry community … People were scrounging, trying to file for unemployment, trying to figure out how are they going to make their rent payment.”

Hendley and his team of volunteers started putting together care packages in his hometown of Boone, North Carolina. The group distributes the packages, which are filled with 40 meals and other household necessities, to laid off restaurant workers throughout the state.  Even as restaurants across the country start to reopen, Hendley knows it will be crucial for his box program to continue.

“The problem is that revenue will still struggle for a lot of these places and many workers will still be out of the job since businesses will be trying to run extra lean. A lot of those workers are living paycheck to paycheck, or trying to pay their way through school, or a single mom trying to take care of kids.”

The boxes include fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, fresh baked bread, and toilet paper, among other food and hygiene items.  Since March, his organization has already given out more than 72,000 meals.Hendley-2But that’s not all!  His non-profit Wine to Water has risen to the challenge of the pandemic as well.  When the epidemic broke out, the organization’s water filter factories around the world began mass producing portable hand washing stations, which are placed in heavily trafficked areas such as police stations, health care clinics, and larger hospitals.

“It’s been so inspiring to see how many people have gotten behind and supported our programs around the world. When the sun does come out after the storm’s over, I think that we as a people are going to come through this stronger and more together than we’ve ever been.”

This guy deserves a medal of honour in my book!


I end with a bit of a lump in my throat … it felt soooooo much better to write about these people than the people and situations I’ve been writing about for the past week.  I hope this week’s good people raised your spirits just a bit, as they did mine.

What is White Privilege?

Jeff’s post needs no introduction from me — it speaks for itself. Thank you, Jeff.

On The Fence Voters

I’d like to share something with all of you. I’m not on Facebook, nor do I like Facebook. I think the platform is intrusive and, quite frankly, a danger to America in many ways, especially now, with the complicit Mark Zuckerberg refusing to fact check any political ads, regardless of whether they are outright lies. That’s a story for another day.

But while I’m not a participant on the platform, my wife is, and she shared a post with me that’s been getting a lot of attention. It’s very subtle and understated, but it shows the sheer volume of young black men and women who’ve lost their lives in recent years. For, quite simply, being a person of color in America and engaging in activities that many of us could never imagine might jeopardize our lives.

I do not have that problem. I’m white and have never once been stopped…

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When Silence Is NOT Golden …

There is an old saying that, “Silence is golden”.  Sometimes that may well be true … I utter that line frequently when Trump is heard going off on another of his many tangents.  But, there are times when silence is criminal.

Last week, as you all know, a man by the name of George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, who kept his knee pressed into Mr. Floyd’s throat for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, causing Mr. Floyd’s death by asphyxiation.  Chauvin has been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter, for which he could be sentenced to as much as 15½ years, or as little as 3½ years.  George Floyd will still be dead when Chauvin is released from prison.

But, there were four officers at the scene.  What did the other three officers do?  Not a damn thing.  They stood there looking on while their compadre killed a man for no reason.  In my book, they are just about as guilty as Chauvin, for they could have stopped him and instead they stood silently by.

Who were the other three officers?  We haven’t seen much about them in the media, have we?

  • Tou Thao, videotaped watching as Chauvin continued to press on Floyd’s neck with his knee, has left Minnesota, his lawyer confirmed Friday. Criminal defense attorney Robert Paule said Thao is “safely elsewhere” and that he couldn’t comment further.
  • J Alexander Kueng, one of the two first officers at the scene who helped pin Floyd down, is believed to be staying with family in Minneapolis.
  • Thomas K. Lane has left and didn’t tell anyone where he was going, a relative said Friday.

Although Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced murder and manslaughter charges against Chauvin and said he anticipated charges against Thao, Kueng and Lane, no such charges have been filed as yet … more than one week since Mr. Floyd’s murder on May 25th.  WHY???  It isn’t rocket science, Thao, Kueng, and Lane were complicit in the murder of George Floyd.  Are prosecutors hoping it will all simply disappear, as the three former officers have done?  Not.  Gonna.  Happen.

enablersThere were bystanders who can be heard on the video yelling at Chauvin to let him go, to remove his knee, to no avail.  But the bystanders … where was the one brave enough to push Chauvin off Mr. Floyd?  Sure, he probably would have been arrested, but so what, if he saved a life?  He (or she) wouldn’t have stayed in jail long, once the facts of the matter were revealed.  Where was that brave soul?  Not in the group of gawkers, that’s for sure.  Would you or I have been that courageous bystander?  I like to think I would have, but when push came to shove, would I have, or am I all talk and no moxie?

Courage.  It’s something within us that we likely don’t even realize is there until one day something happens and we just jump into the fray.  Twice in my adult life, there have been situations where I found that my brain disengaged completely, adrenaline took over, and I plunged into the middle of a fight, once stopping a man from beating his wife, another time keeping a group of teens from hurting a younger child.  Would I have jumped on Chauvin?  I still cannot say.  It’s one thing to threaten a man with a rolling pin if he hits his wife again, and quite another to assault a police officer who has a gun!

The point that I’m trying to make, though, is a larger point.  I have friends … we all do … who are content to ignore what is happening in the world today so long as their own little lives aren’t affected.  I often hear, “Oh, I ignore the news … it stresses me too much.”  Not all of us can actively protest in the middle of the city, but we can all do something.  Write a letter to the editor of your local paper, write to your representatives and senators in Congress, make your voice heard!  If you can join a peaceful protest (note that I am NOT encouraging any of you to loot or riot, for I cannot cover your bail!), then by all means do so!  But if you cannot, there are other ways of being heard.  Condemn the racism, condemn the attacks on our free press, condemn the rollbacks of environmental regulations … stand for something.  Those who remain silent, who are more interested in posting pictures of their meals on Facebook or playing games rather than waken to the fact that our nation is in crisis, are guilty of supporting the destruction of this nation.  Period.  There are times that silence is golden, but these are not those times.

Voice Of Wisdom — Barack Obama

The people living in the United States have no leader, the country is a rudderless ship adrift in a very stormy sea.  But one man stands out, his words are wise and offer real solutions, and today I would like to share with you those words, the words of a true leader, President Barack Obama …


How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

Barack Obama

Barack-Obama

As millions of people across the country take to the streets and raise their voices in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ongoing problem of unequal justice, many people have reached out asking how we can sustain momentum to bring about real change.

Ultimately, it’s going to be up to a new generation of activists to shape strategies that best fit the times. But I believe there are some basic lessons to draw from past efforts that are worth remembering.

First, the waves of protests across the country represent a genuine and legitimate frustration over a decades-long failure to reform police practices and the broader criminal justice system in the United States. The overwhelming majority of participants have been peaceful, courageous, responsible, and inspiring. They deserve our respect and support, not condemnation — something that police in cities like Camden and Flint have commendably understood.

On the other hand, the small minority of folks who’ve resorted to violence in various forms, whether out of genuine anger or mere opportunism, are putting innocent people at risk, compounding the destruction of neighborhoods that are often already short on services and investment and detracting from the larger cause. I saw an elderly black woman being interviewed today in tears because the only grocery store in her neighborhood had been trashed. If history is any guide, that store may take years to come back. So let’s not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it. If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.

Second, I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

Moreover, it’s important for us to understand which levels of government have the biggest impact on our criminal justice system and police practices. When we think about politics, a lot of us focus only on the presidency and the federal government. And yes, we should be fighting to make sure that we have a president, a Congress, a U.S. Justice Department, and a federal judiciary that actually recognize the ongoing, corrosive role that racism plays in our society and want to do something about it. But the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

It’s mayors and county executives that appoint most police chiefs and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions. It’s district attorneys and state’s attorneys that decide whether or not to investigate and ultimately charge those involved in police misconduct. Those are all elected positions. In some places, police review boards with the power to monitor police conduct are elected as well. Unfortunately, voter turnout in these local races is usually pitifully low, especially among young people — which makes no sense given the direct impact these offices have on social justice issues, not to mention the fact that who wins and who loses those seats is often determined by just a few thousand, or even a few hundred, votes.

So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.

Finally, the more specific we can make demands for criminal justice and police reform, the harder it will be for elected officials to just offer lip service to the cause and then fall back into business as usual once protests have gone away. The content of that reform agenda will be different for various communities. A big city may need one set of reforms; a rural community may need another. Some agencies will require wholesale rehabilitation; others should make minor improvements. Every law enforcement agency should have clear policies, including an independent body that conducts investigations of alleged misconduct. Tailoring reforms for each community will require local activists and organizations to do their research and educate fellow citizens in their community on what strategies work best.

But as a starting point, here’s a report and toolkit developed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and based on the work of the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that I formed when I was in the White House. And if you’re interested in taking concrete action, we’ve also created a dedicated site at the Obama Foundation to aggregate and direct you to useful resources and organizations who’ve been fighting the good fight at the local and national levels for years.

I recognize that these past few months have been hard and dispiriting — that the fear, sorrow, uncertainty, and hardship of a pandemic have been compounded by tragic reminders that prejudice and inequality still shape so much of American life. But watching the heightened activism of young people in recent weeks, of every race and every station, makes me hopeful. If, going forward, we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action, then this moment can be a real turning point in our nation’s long journey to live up to our highest ideals.

Let’s get to work.