Commodified Culture

I have often posited that greed is possibly the single biggest cause of the mess we are in today. As we wade knee-deep into the Christmas season, with retailers hoping to turn red to black on their income statements, advertisers are in full swing trying to convince you that you simply must have that shiny new object. Our friend Hugh has written a very good, thoughtful and thought-provoking post on this topic that carries a message we all need to hear, to be reminded of. Thank you, Hugh, for this post and your generous permission to share it.

hughcurtler

You have probably seen the commercial. A young woman walks into the kitchen of a very posh house and places two sets of keys down on the counter and smiles at her husband (presumably). They race out of the posh house and stand beside two brand new GMC trucks (costs, appx. $50,000.00 apiece). One truck is blue and the other is red. The man points to the blue one, but his wife has already claimed it for herself and he weakly smiles as he realizes that the red one is his.

I have borrowed the words of Robert Heilbronner to help us grasp what is wrong with this commercial, so typical of those we see on our television at this time of year. To begin with these are apparently Christmas presents that the woman has bought for herself and her husband. Thus begins the set of problems this commercial sets…

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The Conversation — Part III (Conclusion)

This is the third and final part of my series about … anything and everything!  I’ve really enjoyed this, felt like I was actually chatting with Mary all the time.  I hope you guys feel free to chime in on any aspect or topic addressed here.  As with the first two, Mary’s comment is in normal text, my responses are in blue.

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And none of this mentions the third world countries and the horrible living conditions and poverty and starvation that are in their daily lives. And we think this will change?

No, sadly the situation in the third world countries is likely, with the effects of climate change, to become far worse in the coming years.  It would take the cooperation of all the industrialized nations and their willingness to work together to help those in poor nations, to make a concerted effort to combat the loss of arable land, to help find solutions to provide potable drinking water, and to help them become economically stable, not to mention providing a wide array of health services.  All of which is a pipe dream, when the industrialized nations cannot even agree on the simplest of concepts.

Some may say I’m pessimistic, but I feel I’m realistic. Maybe it’s just the way of Mother Nature. We are the destroyers and the only ones who can bring about a possible eventual return of a healed planet, when we are gone and nature can flourish once again in peace.

Until recently, at least a few of my friends said I got on their nerves with my optimism.  But that optimism has faded with the things I have seen from the human race in the past few years.  Like you, I consider myself neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but rather, a pragmatist, a realist.  The reality is that the human race is not living up to its potential, and in the process of destroying the planet, we are also destroying ourselves.  There is still time for us to start listening, learning and trying to change, and there are signs that some are, but unfortunately not enough.  I liked a comment Robert Vella made on Part I of this series … that we have to find a way to make Joe Blow feel like he is part of the solution.  When we figure out how to do that, then perhaps there will be hope.

And although the environment is of the utmost peril to fix if at all possible, something must be done to change people’s minds about the validity of science and the scourge of racism.  Education, to me is key. The two things that work against it are far right religion and racism pure and simple.

You are spot on!  Education is the answer to both of these things … making people realize that science is not a hoax, and that all people are equal, regardless of skin colour, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identification, height, eye colour, language, culture, etc., etc., etc.  And education begins where?  In the home.  We can blame the Department of Education for a lot, rightfully, and we can blame the colleges for not stepping up to the plate, but we, as parents and grandparents, have the most influence over our children in their early, formative years.  Racism breeds racism, bigotry is carried from one generation to the next.  The question, then, becomes … how do we break that cycle?

Future generations could maybe slowly reverse this environmental damage through scientific research and new technologies, but not if science is not taught and respected.

I think that if we wait for ‘future generations’, based on what I have read of the IPCC and NCA reports on climate change, it will be too late.  We have to convince governments and industries that if we don’t act now, the human race won’t survive, and it won’t make a damn bit of difference how much money they had or how large their investment portfolio, how many rooms in their mansion, or how many trips to the Riviera they took.  In truth, I suspect that those who claim to deny a belief in the science behind climate change know that they are being obtuse, know that the science is real, but are just too stubborn to act, for it might require sacrifice on their part.  And some of the extremely religious, I imagine, believe that their god will not allow anything bad to happen.  Blind faith, they call it.

Wars will continue as long as politicians and big business makes money off of them.

Agreed.  Many profit greatly from wars, especially arms manufacturers.  Others lose their lives, their sons, their husbands …

Racism and bigotry in the US will continue as long as religion castigates other non Christian beliefs and lifestyle choices.

Bigotry in all its forms will continue as long as people believe, whether because of religion or society, that they are somehow superior to others based on some irrelevant criteria.  We keep fighting the same battles over and over, thinking that we’ve finally learned something, and then, a generation or two later, we fight the same battles again.  It’s the fatal flaw of the human race.

And thus concludes this three-part series.  I hope you found it interesting, found some food for thought, and maybe even shared your own opinion on some of these topics.  Special thanks to maryplumbago for sharing her thoughts, and for agreeing to participate in The Conversation.

Links to Part I and Part II, in case you missed them:  The Conversation — Part IThe Conversation — Part II

The Conversation — Part I

On Tuesday night, as I was responding to comments on my post titled This Is Not A Game!!!, about climate change and the recently-released NCA climate change report, I came across one comment that provided so much food for thought that I knew I could not do it justice in a single, quick response.  The commenter is our friend Maryplumbago, and she has covered almost every single topic that is relevant to our nation today.

I asked and received her permission to use her comment as a foundation for this post.  Mary poses so many ideas and questions, that I’m afraid I stepped onto my soapbox and didn’t know when to step down, so this is Part I of … either two or three parts, depending on when you guys start throwing rotten tomatoes at me and yelling for me to step down!  While I have not left out a single word of Mary’s, I have taken the liberty of rearranging the order of her points in order to be able to break this into more manageable parts.  Mary’s original comments are in normal text, my responses in blue.

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So many thoughts here …

I believe, as do reasonable people, that climate change is real and that we contribute to it and have been warned about it for many years now and it’s coming close to being too late.

The problem is reasonableness … most people are apathetic to it and care only for their own selfish lives and not beyond that. Others think it’s all a hoax and buy into trump’s idiocy and republican greed for profit at any cost.  

I think that certainly greed and profit play a huge roll, but when you drill down to the level of the individual, resistance to change and convenience are the two driving factors.  Try telling John Doe that he must trade in that big gas-guzzling SUV for a more environmentally friendly car with better fuel-economy.  Try telling his wife that she must recycle her trash, segregating plastics from paper from metal from glass.  Try telling them both that they should forgo their vacation to Florida this year, eat less meat, carpool to work, or turn down the thermostat and wear a sweater.  They will not be happy, for it is an inconvenience, and one they don’t feel they deserve. 

Then there are the fewer reasonable ones … but what can we do? I’m afraid the answer is nothing.

Well, we cannot sit back and accept that there is nothing we can do.  I don’t pretend to know the solution, but a couple of things come to mind.  First, people typically tend to wake up and change their attitude really quickly when they are personally and directly affected.  I think that the more we publicize such catastrophic events such as the hurricanes of the past two seasons, and the devastating wildfires in California for several years now, but especially this year and last, it must make people stop and think, “what if that was me?”  Education … repetition … keep hammering the message home.  And, of course, it would be greatly helpful if our federal government would tell the truth for a change and stop pandering to the wealthy fossil fuel barons.

When you see lines blocks long for a lotto ticket, crowds pushing and shoving on Black Friday in a Walmart, a racist winning a political race, hatred for immigrants, hatred for the “other” and on and on … do you really think things can get better? That people will change even after trump is gone? And this stuff is spreading to other countries.

There’s the quandary, isn’t it?  Trump is merely the manifestation of those things that have lain dormant, simmering just beneath the surface, apparently, while the majority of us had little or no idea.  The greed, the rudeness to get that last toy on Black Friday … are, I believe, all signs of people who are not satisfied with what they have, but always seek ‘more’.  The blame?  To some extent, I think the blame falls largely on advertisers who, in their efforts to promote their products, create the illusion of “need”.  This has always been the case, of course, but today it is magnified 1000-fold by the internet, by social media where viewers are bombarded by constant targeted ads.  If, for example, you’re just pondering, say, a new washer & dryer, so you go visit a few sites just to see what’s out there and at what cost.  The next day, you will be seeing ads for the latest and greatest in washing and drying machines on every website you visit, as well as your email box being filled with ads for the same.  Pretty soon, you’re convinced that your happiness depends on that new washer & dryer – the one with all the bells & whistles. There is truly no such thing as ‘internet privacy’, and the advertisers have free reign to troll you and then target you in their marketing plan.

The hatred for immigrants is based on fear.  I cannot explain that one well, other than to look back at the European settlers’ treatment of Native Americans centuries ago, and our treatment of African-Americans as slaves until 1865, both based on he fear of ‘other’.  That fear continued until … well, apparently it has never ended.  We thought we had made remarkable progress during the Civil Rights Era, and perhaps we had, but much of that progress has since been lost. 

I used to think that yes, once Trump was gone we could set about un-doing the damage he had done and the ‘great divide’ would begin to heal.  I no longer think that, although I firmly believe he is exacerbating an already tragic situation, instilling fear, supporting white supremacists and attempting to isolate us from our allies.  That does not, however, mean that I don’t think things can improve — merely that I think it will take more than simply saying “bye-bye” to Mr. Trump.  Ideally, we need a true leader to emerge and begin to heal the illness in this nation.  We need another Martin Luther King, or John F. Kennedy, a person who is strong, intelligent, charismatic, and understands the divisiveness of today.  A person who will work with people to allay fears rather than to create them.

To be continued … Meanwhile, feel free to join in the conversation!

Mind-Numbing, Jaw-Dropping Moments …

Two things in yesterday’s news were “Say WHAT?” moments.  Mind-numbing, jaw-dropping … the things that make you want to go live somewhere inside the Arctic Circle and forget you ever heard of the United States.

Ugly Trump“One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers. As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects that you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it. You look at our air and our water and it’s right now at a record clean.” – Donald Trump in interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, 26 November 2018

One of the problems I have with that statement is that I cannot decide whether it sends me into gales of laughter or fits of rage.  “High levels of intelligence”???  Even his most avid followers must surely be either shaking their heads or laughing hysterically at that one!  Intelligence is definitely not one of the words I would use to describe this pimple on the posterior of humanity!!!

People who are truly intelligent have no need to point it out to others.  People who are truly intelligent realize that there are some topics on which others may be more well-educated, and therefore they listen to the opinions of scientists, advisors, etc.  People who are truly intelligent do not act stupidly 99% of the time.  People who are truly intelligent read books.  I could go on and on in this vein, but I think you get the picture.  Trump is undoubtedly the least intelligent person to have been in the Oval Office in my 67 years at least.  And no, I don’t say that because I dislike him immensely.  I immensely dislike Vladimir Putin, but I consider him a fairly intelligent man.

The second problem I have with this statement is that the thing Trump was claiming to be “not necessarily” a believer in was man-made climate change and the need to work cooperatively toward cleaning up our planet.  That, in itself, is proof enough that he is not possessed of ‘high levels of intelligence’.pollution-2And, it goes without saying, the third problem I have with his statement is the lie that our air and water right now are “at a record clean”.  He removed regulations that prohibited coal companies from dumping sludge into creeks and streams, he has reversed other regulations that controlled the amount of CO2 industries could put into the atmosphere.  Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed to weaken or roll back three key public health safeguards directly limiting particle pollution: the Clean Power Plan, clean car rules, and methane standards for the oil and gas industry. These safeguards also indirectly cut particle pollution by fighting climate change—which is fueling larger wildfires and unhealthier wildfire smoke.  Compared to China, our air and water may be relatively clean, but we are doing a lousy job keeping them that way, and in the last week or two, since the smoke from the California wildfires made its way across the nation to the East coast, people with asthma can tell the difference.

So no, there is nothing highly intelligent about either Mr. Trump or his statement of ignorance.  But since he disgusts me, let’s move on to Mississippi …


Hyde-SmithThis is the face of an extreme racist.  This is the woman who will be sitting in the U.S. Senate for the next two years, fulfilling the term of former Senator Thad Cochran, who resigned earlier this year due to illness.  This is the woman who has said she would like to sit in the front row at a lynching.

Yes, Cindy Hyde-Smith won the run-off election against democrat Mike Espy on Tuesday night.  For a brief time, when the returns first began rolling in, Espy was ahead by a slim margin, but with only 1% of the votes counted at that time, I was pretty sure I knew what came next.  When next I glanced over that way, she had a 9% lead and so it remained for the rest of the evening.

As Hugh reminded me not long ago, we must be careful about painting an entire group with the same brush, but I still contend that for this racist woman to win by 7.8%, or 68,585 votes, tells us some things about the majority of people in Mississippi.

The headline in the New York Times read …

In Electing Cindy Hyde-Smith, Mississippi Stays True to Its Conservative Roots

Okay, ‘conservative roots’ are one thing, but blatant, crude, cruel racism is quite another – it is dangerous.  Regarding her win, Ms. Hyde-Smith said …

“The reason we won is because Mississippians know me and they know my heart. This win tonight, this victory, it’s about our conservative values, it’s about the things that mean the most to all of us Mississippians: our faith, our family.”

Translation:  The reason she won is that she is anti-immigration, pro-white supremacy, and her “values” mirror those of at least 54% of the state.  How much of this is due to voter suppression methods, I do not know.  Either way, though, 479,278 people voted for her.  479,278 people voted against Civil Rights, against equality, against LGBT rights, against women’s rights, and more.  Way. To. Go. Mississippians.


On that note, I am going to bed.  Good night, folks.  😴 💤

Stuff From A Bouncing Mind …

Today I have a bouncy mind … too much inundation of both news and holidays, I think.  Have to bake birthday cookies, do birthday cards, get a package ready to mail overseas, Trump did a convoluted interview yesterday that I’m struggling to get through without throwing something, and a new federal judge is about to be confirmed who supports extreme voter suppression.  No wonder my mind is bouncing!  So, I share with you a few of the thoughts that have crept out from the crevices during the bounce …

FacebookYesterday morning when I logged onto Facebook for the first time of the day, planning to check messages and post my latest blog post, I was immediately assailed by a large message from Facebook itself, asking me to donate money to one of several charitable causes, and promising to match my donation.  HAH!!!  Mind you, though I haven’t much to give, I do give … I give to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Humane Society, the local foodbank.  I give to a variety of local homeless shelters.  So, it isn’t that I’m not willing to help out … it is, simply put, that I do not have any reason to trust Facebook!

Entrust my bank account number to Facebook after their recent data breach that exposed the personal data of millions of users???  And … trust them to actually match my donation?  I think not.  This is a case of “Let the buyer beware”.  I will continue to carefully choose my own causes, thank you very much anyway, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg!

packagingAnd speaking of letting the buyer beware, I am once again grumbling loudly over one of my old pet peeves.  Note to all readers:  If the package says “Easy open – pull here” … get your scissors and sharpest knives out, be prepared to spend a minimum of ten minutes fighting to get to the product inside the package, and while you’re at it … be sure your first-aid kit is handy!  I’ve been putting it down to my being old, my hands and fingers not being as agile or strong as they once were, but even the youngster in this house has trouble opening things these days.  I still get her to do it, though, for she has far more patience than I, and is therefore less likely to throw and break things.  Besides, she doesn’t swear, so it is less traumatic for the kitties!

But seriously, is there any reason that opening a new bottle of ibuprofen requires a degree in rocket science?  Or a bag of chicken tenders … “pull tab” it says … “tear along perforation” – what perforation???  There is no tab, there is no perforation … there is a dotted line, but it is not perforated!  Get the scissors … snip, clip … okay and … nothing!  I cut along the dotted line, but it is too far above that part where you can pull it open.  Finally, a butcher knife right to the heart of the package does the trick.  How much time was just wasted?  Luckily this time only a small bandage was required … last time it was a roll of gauze and adhesive tape!  And to think … people get paid big bucks to come up with these packaging designs.  Sigh.

MSNBC is not one of my ‘go-to’ sources.  First, they are owned by Comcast.  Second, they are left-biased.  Now, granted, my own leanings are toward the left of center, but when I want news, I want news … facts, reported accurately and without significant bias toward either side.  As Joe Friday used to say in the old Dragnet show, “just the facts, ma’am”.  That said, today I give MSNBC a thumbs-up for refusing, for the second time this month, to carry a White House press event.

The first time was on November 1st when the network refused to transmit live a fearmongering presidential address about immigration and the caravan in Mexico.  The second time was yesterday afternoon when, for the first time in about a month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deigned to hold a ‘daily’ press briefing.  The briefing was a joke, naught but propaganda such as Larry Kudlow, Trump’s Director of the National Economic Council, saying, “We’ll see what happens. … Our economy’s in very good shape right now”.  Sounds rather like a replay of something Trump has said many times, doesn’t it?  Toe the party line.  The entire briefing, from what I can gather, was more of the same.  National Security Advisor John Bolton saying that he hasn’t listened to the audio recording of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and sees no reason to do so. sanders-msnbcSanders herself rang in with, “I don’t think the president has any concerns about the [Mueller] report because he knows that there was no wrongdoing by him and that there was no collusion.”  It was a waste of the press’ time and a waste of anybody’s time who bothered to watch it.  Press briefings have become repetitious and uninformative.  You may disagree, but I think MSNBC made the right decision in this case, and I’d like to see more of the media outlets be a bit more discriminating about just what they choose to waste our time with.

And so, you now know how a bouncy mind works, and I shall return you to your regularly scheduled life!  Thanks for bouncing along with me today!bounce

Good People Doing Good Things — After The Fire

Y’know … sometimes it takes a catastrophic event, a tragedy, to bring out the best in people.  The devastating wildfires in California earlier this month seems to have brought out an awful lot of good in some people and it is those stories I’m bringing you today … those good people who gave of themselves to help others.  None of these good people are millionaires with money to spare, they are all just people like you and me, working every day just to pay the bills.  But they gave of whatever they had, be it food, information, love … they just gave.  These are the real heroes …


The spirit of the team …

The Cougars is the name of the Paradise, California, Adventist school’s volleyball team.  Sadly, as you might expect, they lost everything – equipment, uniforms, their school – in the wildfires that literally burned Paradise to the ground this month.  But those Cougars have spirit, they have energy, and they were determined to play their semifinal championship match on Saturday.

The team they would be playing was Forest Lake Christian High School in Auburn, some 85 miles south of Paradise.  Having already lost so much … some of these girls had lost their homes, as well as their school … they headed to Auburn on that day.  And what did they find?  Brand new uniforms, for starters!Paradise-uniformsCustom jerseys, shorts, knee pads and socks waiting for them as well as truckloads of donated clothes and more than $16,000 in cash and gift cards.  All of which was pulled together by the Forest Lake Christian community in less than 24 hours“I’ve never been so overwhelmed by so many things I would have never thought possible, and this is one of the most amazing things I could ever have thought would happen,” Paradise Adventist coach Jason Eyer said to the crowd. “Your community is awesome, and we are forever grateful.”

Forest Lake won the game, but new friendships were forged as the two teams posed for photos and enjoyed each other’s company.  This is what teamwork, compassion and humanity are all about, my friends.  These young people … bring happy tears, don’t they?


To save a kitty …

Shannon Jay is the man’s name, and he has been spending his days rescuing cats who survived the fire.  There isn’t anything much more vicious than a scared, hurt cat … trust me, I have the scars to prove it!  In this particular kitty rescue, there just happened to be a cinematographer on the scene recording the devastation when the rescue took place.  Take two minutes, if you will, to watch this … this man risked being mauled by this poor petrified cat, and his reaction after the cat was safe, tells a story all its own.  Gronda, get your tissues …


All in a day’s work …

Danny and Arek Zachara are brothers from Poland who migrated to America. They own MDD Exterior Inc. Contracting/Roofing company in Chicago.  We’ve all seen the pictures of the devastation, the lost homes, burned out cars alongside the road, and we’ve heard the stories of the people who barely made it out with their lives … and those who didn’t.  But we probably haven’t given much thought to livestock displaced by the fires.Zachara brothersBut Danny and Arek were farm boys back in the old country and they did think of the animals, how their source of food would have been burned up, so they did what anybody would do … loaded up their truck and started the 4,500-mile round trip journey to Wheeler Ranch and Feed in Biggs, California!  They had a trailer and a pickup truck filled with hay, livestock feed, and dog and cat food.

It wasn’t to be an easy journey.  It took them several days, as they encountered rain, sleet, snow and wind. That didn’t stop them.  A couple times they were snowed in and spent the night in their truck at various truck stops to guard their precious treasures for the animals and victims of the Camp Fire.  Big thumbs up to these guys!


Down on the farm …

Paulina Cortes is a preschool teacher in San Jose, California.  Last Tuesday she spent the day in and around the town of Lodi, an hour-and-a-half drive from her home in San Jose.  Why?  Because in the aftermath of the fires in California, she wanted to do something to help people.  Her thought was “Find a way to give to a community who needs help.”  And she did.  She visited farms in the area with a two-fold purpose:  to provide masks to farm workers in rural communities, and to educate the farm workers about the severity and dangers of the pollution.

“In Lodi yesterday the workers were picking fruit in ‘HAZARDOUS’ labeled air with an AQI [Air Quality Index] of 308… and worst of all is that none of them knew this. Not everyone has access to information that we have access to and what’s important is that we continue to build bridges to reach our communities.”Paulina Cortes

Most of the farmworkers in California are immigrants from Mexico, low-paid, without benefits, and many speak very little English.  Cortes made sure they understood how unhealthy the air is and why it is important they wear the masks she gave them.  Another of those “little things mean a lot” moments.


More than just a burrito …

José Uriarte owns a Mexican food truck restaurant called Gordo Burrito in Chico, California.  José is not a rich man, but in the aftermath of the Camp Fire that razed the town of Paradise, he wanted to help.  So … he pulled that food truck up to an evacuation shelter and did what he does best … started handing out tacos and burritos to the displaced in the shelter.Jose UriarteOn the first day he donated 300 meals at the Chico Elks Lodge refuge. And every day he is giving away food to others in the community who are helping in the state’s deadliest fire: firemen, EMTs, police, social workers, and displaced people in need of a warm meal.

“I’m just a small business owner but I see people and I’m like, ‘Here’s 10 or 15 burritos.’ It’s the least I can do.”food truck


These are good people, my friends.  And there are hundreds more stories like these.  I ask myself, if that happened in my community, what could I do.  What would I do?  Would I give of myself, my time, whatever resources I have available?  I hope I would … I think we never know until we find ourselves in that situation.

Still More Snarky Snippets …

It has been snowing for 24 hours now, and yet there is no more than 1/4-inch on the ground.  How does that work?  Anyway, the last time I recall seeing more than just a brief glimpse of that big, bright ball that used to be in the sky was August, I think.  Cold and gloomy make me even more grumpy than usual, which makes today a good day for just a few snarky snippets.  snow-covered-house


Where’s da salad …

I was at the grocery, my local Kroger store, on Sunday evening, my usual time to buy groceries, and one of the things on my list was a bag of salad.  Guess what?  No salad.  None.  Nada.  Nunc.  Zip.  Zilch.  Nary a bag of salad to be found.  Why?No saladLast Tuesday, two days before Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a food safety alert urging Americans to refrain from eating, and retailers from selling, any romaine lettuce.  Apparently, five people had died from an E. coli outbreak in June, and nearly two hundred people got sick.  In June.  This is November.  Okay, sigh, I bought a head of iceberg lettuce, some carrots and made my own damn salad … no biggie.  Except …

Every day in America, 96 people on average are killed by guns and hundreds more are injured.  We cannot buy romaine lettuce because … GASP … five people died, yet tens of thousands of people die from guns every year, and buying a gun is about as simple as walking into a Wal-Mart store and saying, “I’ll take that one … and 100 rounds of ammo, too.”  Does anybody see anything wrong with this picture?  Is lettuce really more dangerous than a gun?  No, but it is a hell of a lot easier to ban!


Sssssnakesssssssss in Mississippi …

You may remember my post from Sunday titled The Ugly Face of Racism, about the run-off election today in Mississippi for the Senate seat left vacant by Thad Cochran.    The republican candidate, Cindy Hyde-Smith has made multiple blatantly racist comments, and yet, the race is close.  Trump went to stump for her yesterday, which many believe will give her the winning edge. (Seriously???  Sheesh.) But this snippet isn’t about her, isn’t about whether she wins or loses, but instead is about the venomous monsters she unleashed.

Nooses and signs with messages about lynching were discovered on the grounds of the Mississippi State Capitol on Monday.  You’ll remember that Ms. Hyde-Smith said that she would be in the front row if invited to a lynching?  Well, apparently some took her at her word and are extending that invitation.Nooses.pngMs. Hyde-Smith currently holds about a 5-point lead over her African-American democratic opponent, Mike Espy.  After the bigoted insults she has hurled, she should be polling so low that she drops out. This, to me, says something about the people of Mississippi.


Prescience buried …

In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in conjunction with the FBI, released a report  titled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment. The report  warned that “rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.” It also predicted that the possibility of new gun restrictions and the return of “military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities” might mean “emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.” The report called this convergence of factors the “most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States.”

Are you scratching your head and wondering why you don’t remember hearing of this report?  It is because the report was quickly squelched after congressional republicans threw a temper tantrum.

Representative Lamar Smith of Texas said the administration was “awfully willing to paint law-abiding Americans, including war veterans, as ‘extremists.’”  Then-representative Steve Buyer of Indiana, the top Republican on the House Veterans’ Affairs committee at the time — called it “inconceivable” that some veterans could pose a threat.  But the final blow came from then-Speaker of the House, John Boehner, who issued a formal statement:

John-Boehner“To characterize men and women returning home after defending our country as potential terrorists is offensive and unacceptable.  The Department of Homeland Security owes our veterans an apology.

Furthermore, the Secretary of Homeland Security owes the American people an explanation for why she has abandoned using the term ‘terrorist’ to describe those, such as al Qaeda, who are plotting overseas to kill innocent Americans, while her own Department is using the same term to describe American citizens who disagree with the direction Washington Democrats are taking our nation.  Everyone agrees that the Department should be focused on protecting America, but using such broad-based generalizations about the American people is simply outrageous.”

Thus it came to be that the report was removed from the DHS website and never made public.

And now, perhaps it doesn’t seem so far-fetched.  Just last month, 13 people died in two incidents: A Kentucky gunman attempted to enter a historically black church, then shot and killed two black patrons in a nearby grocery store. And an anti-Semitic loner who had expressed anger about a caravan of Central American refugees that Trump termed an “invasion” has been charged with gunning down 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest act of anti-Semitic violence in U.S. history.

This month brought two more bodies: A military veteran who had railed online against women and blacks opened fire in a Tallahassee yoga studio, killing two women and wounding five. All told, researchers say at least 20 people have died this year in suspected right-wing attacks.

It is true that to a large extent Donald Trump must shoulder much of the blame for the aforementioned incidents, for his support of white ‘nationalism’ has opened the door for much of this.  And it is also true that even had the 2009 report been made public, it might not have made much difference.  But the very fact that the republicans, led by John Boehner, squelched the report that we now know contained predictive information, kept it from the public, is infuriating and perhaps some of those who were injured in Charlottesville, or killed in the synagogue in Pittsburgh, should lay the blame at the feet of Mr. Boehner.


And now, though I could go on for quite a bit longer, I must get busy.  I have a list of things that must get done today, the first one being to make a list!  Miss Goose’s birthday is tomorrow … she will be 24, but don’t tell her I told, for she is rather upset at being so “old”.

Stone Cold Criminals???

The migrant caravan that Donald Trump said we should be so afraid of, that he said was filled with murderers, rapists, and even some Middle-Eastern terrorists, the one he sent troops to the border to defend against, has finally arrived.  Here is what all those “bad hombres” look like:

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Lesly, age six, sits in her donated stroller. She has cerebral palsy and cannot walk

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María Cáceres and her 15-year-old son Javier.  Javier has Down’s Syndrome.

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Migrants pushing strollers on the road to … ???

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A migrant and her young daughter, who have just had teargas thrown in their faces

Yes, folks, these are but a few of those “stone cold criminals” as Trump referred to them in his early morning tweet:Trump tweet migrants

I cannot say, nor would I, that out of the thousands of people in this caravan, there may not be a few who have committed crimes.  Take a thousand people at random from the middle of any city in the U.S., and odds are that you will find a few who have committed crimes.  But overall, this is a migrant caravan comprised of families fleeing the violence in their native countries, primarily Honduras.

Let’s talk to María Cáceres (pictured above).  María was a tortilla vendor in San Pedro Sula, Honduras when gang members killed two of her brothers and burned down her house. She said she wants asylum in the United States, but really just “wants life to get better now.”

These are people who have, over the past two months, crossed mountains, walked through forests, crossed rivers, been soaked by rains, bitten and stung by insects, all because they are seeking a better life for their children and themselves.  When they crossed into Mexico, riot police attacked them with clubs and teargas, yet they persevered.

And then yesterday, U.S. authorities closed off the busiest port of entry along the U.S. border with Mexico and fired tear gas.  What a welcome to these poor travelers … these human beings!  soldiers at the border.jpgHomeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement Sunday that the port of entry was closed “to ensure public safety in response to large numbers of migrants seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.”  Frankly, Ms. Nielsen, I would be more afraid of these soldiers than I would be of the migrants.  Public safety???  I think not.

Donald Trump, Kirstjen Nielsen and others calling to close the border, to deny these migrants asylum, lack normal human compassion.  They would deny thousands the right to opportunity, the right to safety, for political purposes.  The U.S. was once known as a country that welcomed asylum seekers, that understood what a wonderful thing diversity was.  Somewhere along the line, we lost our compassion, we lost our humanity.

Trump’s threat to “close the border permanently” is against the law, however as he believes himself to be above the law, believes that the laws do not apply if they are at odds with his whims, I suspect there will be legal challenges and hate-filled rhetoric bouncing about for the next several months.  Just another step in our decline toward becoming a third-world country.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t wish to live in a country where the borders are closed, a country that treats human beings seeking asylum as if they were criminals.  migrant-5

The Ugly Face of Racism …

Until a few days ago, the name Cindy Hyde-Smith had no meaning to me, but it has popped up on nearly every media outlet I’ve seen in the past several days.

Who is Cindy Hyde-Smith? 

Hyde-SmithCindy Hyde-Smith is the junior United States Senator from Mississippi, in office since April 2018.  A member of the Republican Party, she was previously the Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce and a member of the Mississippi State Senate.  In 1999, Hyde-Smith was elected to the Mississippi State Senate as a Democrat. She represented the 39th district from 2000 to 2012. In 2010, Hyde-Smith switched parties and became a Republican, citing her conservative beliefs.

On March 21, 2018, Governor Phil Bryant announced his intention to appoint Hyde-Smith to the United States Senate seat being vacated due to the resignation of Thad Cochran due to health issues.  She ran in the November 6th mid-term elections to finish out Cochran’s term until 2021.  She was the front-runner, but as she did not receive 50% of the votes, there will be a run-off election between herself and the democratic candidate, Mike Espy, on November 27th.

Hyde-Smith is a lifetime NRA member, anti-abortion, opposed to same-sex marriage, and supports Trump’s unnecessary and costly wall … pretty typical republican, nothing out of the ordinary, right?  FiveThirtyEight, which tracks congressional votes, reported that as of October 2018 she had voted with Trump’s position 100% of the time.  Another boot-licker in the pocket of the NRA … yawn.

So why is she all over the news?

Because … on November 2nd, at a campaign stop, while posing with a supporter … a white supporter … she said …

“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Say WHAT???  Have I mentioned that Hyde-Smith’s opponent, Mike Espy, is African-American?

Amid the hue and cry over her remark, at least five corporations asked for their donations back. AT&T, Leidos, and Walmart had donated a total of eight thousand dollars to her campaign but reversed that decision earlier this week. Smaller companies Union Pacific and Boston Scientific have also asked Hyde-Smith to return their donations.

And then, somebody dug up a photo that Hyde-Smith had posted to her Facebook account in 2014 that further inflamed the perception that she is a racist …Hyde-Smith-rifleA rifle and a confederate hat, and she wrote “Mississippi history at its best!”  Say WHAT???

Not surprisingly, Donald Trump jumped to her defense, saying …

“She made a statement, which I know she feels badly about it, and it was just sort of said in jest. She is a tremendous woman and it is a shame that she has to go through this.”

Excuse me, Mr. Trump, but there are some things that we do not joke about, and lynching, giving this nation’s shameful history, is one of those things.  I know you eschew political correctness and respect for others, but the majority of people in this nation are sensitive to the feelings of others.  This was not “in jest”, it was a cruel and racist remark from a woman who has no business representing the people of this nation in Congress.

On Tuesday, 18 days after her heinous statement, Ms. Hyde-Smith issued one of those meaningless ‘apologies’ that politicians are wont to do when they aren’t at all sorry for anything, but they’re taking some heat and … well, you know … elections?

“You know, for anyone that was offended by my comments, I certainly apologize. There was no ill will, no intent whatsoever in my statements. I have worked with all Mississippians. It didn’t matter their skin color type, their age or their income. That’s my record. This comment was twisted, was turned into a weapon to be used against me, a political weapon used for nothing but personal and political gain by my opponent. That’s the type of politics that Mississippians are sick and tired of.”

And if all of this wasn’t bad enough, Hyde-Smith was at yet another campaign stop in Starkville, Mississippi, when she offered her view on voting rights:

“And then they remind me, that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who that maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”

For the third time, Say WHAT???

Ms. Hyde-Smith was maintaining a healthy lead in the polls over Espy until the beginning of November when she made her initial racist remark about lynching.  Since then, Espy’s numbers have come up and it is a very “tight race”.  It should not even be close, folks.  Anybody who would even consider casting a vote for this woman at this point cannot possibly be considered anything other than a racist, a bigot of the very worst sort.  If Hyde-Smith wins the election next Tuesday, it speaks volumes for the state of Mississippi and its people.  This is definitely NOT the sort of person we want to see in Congress!!!

Saturday Surprise — A Nice Story And A Cute Video

Every now and then it happens that Saturday Surprise collides with Wednesday’s Good People and the result is … awesome, heartwarming and fun!  Today is one of those times!

The story begins at Thanksgiving 2016, when Wanda Dench made a text-a-boo-boo … or an erroneous text sent to the wrong person.  The story is told in the following text messages … the recipients of the original text inadvertently included Jamal Hinton, a complete stranger …

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Wanda DenchJamal HintonAnd so it happened that 17-year-old Jamal went over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house for dinner! Wanda-JamalSince the heartwarming story first broke Dench has named Hinton as her ‘honorary grandson,’ which is quite fitting.  The two stayed in touch, and last year, he was invited back for Thanksgiving 2017.   In an interview with the Arizona Republic last year Dench said, “It was really nice having everybody here, we got to laugh about last year and reminisce about how it all blew up on our phone and how I had to change my number. We had a laugh and a good time.”

The two have stayed in touch, and ‘Grandma’ Wanda even sent Jamal a couple of gift cards at Christmas last year.  And this year … well of course Jamal was invited back and his girlfriend too!

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text-6Hinton finds the dinners and his newfound family meaningful. “The world is becoming a better place than it used to be. With all the Donald Trump going on and all the racial comments going on, it’s kind of good to see there’s still good people out there.” Dench gave her new ‘grandson’ an open invitation for all future Thanksgivings at her house, so this is a tradition likely to live on for a lifetime.

A small thing?  Perhaps, but … seems to me that a whole lot of these “small things” add up to a whole lot of good in the world, a whole lot of heart, a whole lot of love.

Okay, so that was nice and heartwarming, but the holiday season has now officially kicked off and I think we need to start the weekend with something funny, don’t you?  So, you know what that means … a funny animal video!!!

Have a great weekend, folks, and don’t let the crowds crush you if you go shopping!  I went shopping from the comfort of my own chair, in my jammies, while sipping coffee last night!  Keep warm & safe!