When Good People Don’t Act …

Over the last couple of years, I have wondered how so many of my friends could seemingly ignore what was happening in this nation.  It is as if they are oblivious to anything that is outside their own little world, as if they were wearing blinders and could not see the atrocities happening in our nation, but instead focus exclusively on what’s for supper, what concert they will go to next weekend, the cute little things their kids or grandkids said yesterday.  As if … nothing has changed, life goes on, it isn’t their problem that kids are kept in cages, that more than a thousand people die every day from the coronavirus, fires are raging on the West Coast, climate change is taking a steep toll and we are doing less than nothing to stop it, and there is a madman at the helm who will soon drive this ship into an iceberg.  None of that seems to bother far too many of the people I know.  Where is the outrage?  Do they simply not care?

The following by Charles Blow in yesterday’s New York Times mirrors my own thoughts, only much more eloquently than I can state them.


When Good People Don’t Act, Evil Reigns

Stop thinking that the horrors of the world will simply work themselves out.

Charles BlowCharles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

I have often wondered how major world tragedies and horrors were allowed to unfold. Where were all the good people, those who objected or should have? How did life simply go on with a horror in their midst?

How did the trans-Atlantic slave trade play out over hundreds of years? How did slavery thrive in this country? How was the Holocaust allowed to happen? How did the genocides in Rwanda or Darfur come to be?

There is, of course, nearly always an explanation. Often it is official policy; often it is driven by propaganda. But I’m more concerned with how people in the society considered these events at the time, and how any semblance of normalcy could be maintained while events unfolded.

It turns out that our current era is providing the unsettling answer: It was easy.

As I write this, nearly two hundred thousand Americans have died — many of them needlessly — from Covid-19, in large part because the Trump administration has refused to sufficiently address the crisis, be honest with the American people and urge caution. Instead, Trump has lied about the virus, downplayed it, resisted scientists’ warnings and continues to hold rallies with no social distancing and no mask requirements.

Things are poised to get worse: Models now predict that the number of Americans killed by the virus could double between now and Jan. 1. According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington:

“We expect the daily death rate in the U.S., because of seasonality and declining public vigilance, to reach nearly 3,000 a day in December. Cumulative deaths expected by Jan. 1 are 415,090; this is 222,522 deaths from now until the end of the year.”

And yet, Americans still flock to Trump rallies, Republicans continue to defend his pandemic response and it is not clear that he will be defeated in November. We are, in many states, back to restaurants and bars, schools and churches, gyms and spas. It’s not as if we don’t know that there is a deadly virus being transmitted through the air, but it seems as though many Americans, weary of restrictions, have simply made their peace with it.

We have a climate crisis that continues to worsen. Storms are getting stronger. Droughts are severe. Rivers are flooding. The sea level is rising. And yet, we don’t do nearly enough to stop it and may not do enough before it’s too late to do anything.

Right now much of the West Coast is ablaze with hellish scenes of orange skies, and yet too many of us entertain climate change deniers, or, perhaps worse, know well the gravity and precariousness of the situation and still haven’t changed our habits or voted for the candidates with the boldest visions to save the planet.

Right now, China has detained as many as one million mostly Muslim citizens, in indoctrination camps, hoping to remold many into what The New York Times called “loyal blue-collar workers to supply Chinese factories with cheap labor.”

And yet, the world does little. Many look away. Life goes on.

This is how these catastrophes happen — in full sight — and people with full knowledge don’t revolt. People sometimes think that the issue is far away, or if it’s not, that it’s too big and they are too powerless.

They think provincially, or even parochially, concerned with their own house, their own street, their own community.

“It’s too bad that those children are in cages, but I can’t worry about that now, the clothes in the dryer need folding.”

“It’s too bad that an unarmed Black man just got shot by the police, but I can’t worry about that now, the yard needs mowing.”

I guess in some ways this impulse is self-protecting, preventing the mind and spirit from becoming overwhelmed with angst and rage. But, the result is that evil — as a person or system — rampages, unchecked, taking your personal laissez-faire as public license.

If you don’t complain, you condone.

But this mustn’t be. Stop thinking of yourself as weak or helpless. Stop thinking that things will simply work themselves out. Stop thinking that evil will stop at the gate and not trample your own garden.

Gather the energy. Gather your neighbor. Fight, vote, email, post. Do all you can to stand up for the vulnerable, for the oppressed, for the planet itself. Don’t let history record this moment as it has recorded too many others: a time when good people did too little to confront wickedness and disaster.

As Edmund Burke wrote in his 1770 “Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents”: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

But you may be more familiar with another quote often attributed to Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/12

Every week, our friend TokyoSand searches high and low for the best political cartoons of the week.  This week was no exception.  TS has had some WordPress issues this week (we can all relate to that, I think!) and so I cannot re-blog her post in the usual way, but can only include a link.  I do hope you’ll pop over and check them out!  Thank you, TS, for all your amazing work!


A roundup of cartoons from the nation’s best editorial cartoonists reacting to this week’s top news stories.

Source: The Week’s Best Cartoons 9/12

“It Is What It Is” Says He

According to the latest reported numbers, the U.S. now has 6,676,601 total cases of the coronavirus, and 198,828 total deaths.  Both of those statistics are under-reported.  Let’s be clear, the daily “new cases” number has been significantly smaller of late, but NOT because we have fewer cases!  It is a result of a combination of things, including less testing being done, per Donald Trump’s orders.  Remember when he said that if we did less testing, we would have fewer cases?  Only an imbecile would make such a statement, but it is Trump we’re talking about here.  But there’s more … there seems to be some outright manipulation of the numbers.

From a Politico report yesterday …

The health department’s politically appointed communications aides have demanded the right to review and seek changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weekly scientific reports charting the progress of the coronavirus pandemic, in what officials characterized as an attempt to intimidate the reports’ authors and water down their communications to health professionals.

In some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump’s optimistic messages [emphasis added] about the outbreak, according to emails reviewed by POLITICO and three people familiar with the situation.

Now listen, folks.  I know all about political gaming and I know that with Donald Trump, everything is a game, is all about him, his image, his profit, and what benefits him.  BUT these are our lives he and his adoring sycophants are playing with and I’m sick and damn tired of it!  We are not simply Donald Trump’s chattel to play with as he wishes!

The story continues …

But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department’s new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump’s statements, including the president’s claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether.

Caputo and his team have attempted to add caveats to the CDC’s findings, including an effort to retroactively change agency reports that they said wrongly inflated the risks of Covid-19 and should have made clear that Americans sickened by the virus may have been infected because of their own behavior, according to the individuals familiar with the situation and emails reviewed by POLITICO.

Caputo’s team also has tried to halt the release of some CDC reports, including delaying a report that addressed how doctors were prescribing hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug favored by Trump as a coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. The report, which was held for about a month after Caputo’s team raised questions about its authors’ political leanings, was finally published last week. It said that “the potential benefits of these drugs do not outweigh their risks.”

As a CPA, I once worked for a company that asked me to make the monthly revenue numbers match the predictions the managers had sent to the corporate offices earlier in the month.  In other words, alter the facts to mirror the projection.  I refused and gave my notice the next morning.  It’s called ‘integrity’.  Facts and statistics cannot be tampered with to make a corporate manager or politician look good, for at that point they are no longer facts and statistics but are mere fantasy. Just as financial reports should have integrity, so should reports about how many people are sick and dying because of the greed and cruelty of the so-called president.

We the People cannot make wise decisions if we don’t have the facts.  Period.  If we had believed Trump back in the first quarter of this year, we would have gone on about our merry way, exposing ourselves on a daily basis … oh wait, that is what a lot of people, mainly Trump supporters, did, and that is why our death toll will surpass 300,000 by the end of this year!

And we now know, thanks to Bob Woodward’s book, Rage, coming out on Tuesday, that not only did Trump lie to us, but he did so fully knowing that lives would be lost as a result of his lies.  And now … he’s trying to fit a square peg into a round hole as he has his minions trying to manipulate the actual numbers.  Now, we have no credible source of information.  Now, we are entirely on our own to try to figure out what is safe and what isn’t.  And we will never know how many cases there actually were in the U.S., nor how many died as a result of the pandemic when they could have been saved if only Trump had put us ahead of his own financial & political gain.  Remember last month, when in an interview where he was being questioned about the death toll, he shrugged his shoulders and said, “It is what it is.”  That is how much he cares about you, me, or anybody else.

trump-coronavirus

♫ Monster ♫

I have a policy for my music posts … I do take requests, and if I like the song, I’ll play it, if I don’t, I just let the request fade into oblivion.  However, there are a few exceptions.  A) If the requester is a long-time reader and old friend, B) if I find some value in the song, and C) if it doesn’t make my head hurt.

Yesterday (Thursday), in a comment on my post titled No Longer The Country We Think We Are, Roger Jacob, one of the first people to stumble across this blog back in 2015 and a dear friend, said that “Next song you put up Jill just has to be ‘Monster’ by Steppenwolf.”

I listened to the song, which I had never heard before — no surprise there, as Steppenwolf is not ordinarily on my list of favourites.  But, when I studied the lyrics, what I found was that while the lyrics were written in 1969 about the Vietnam War, loss of justice, and other issues, they are just as relevant today.

So, without further ado, I give you Steppenwolf!

Monster
Steppenwolf

Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of Kingdom and pope

Like good Christians some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands, to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And till the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end

While we bullied, stole and bought a homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The Blue and Grey they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war was over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has its share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But its protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it’s a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won’t pay it no mind
Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
Now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it’s all just an echo of what they’ve been told

Yeah, there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin’

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin’ the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can’t understand

We don’t know how to mind our own business
‘Cause the whole world’s got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who’s the winner we can’t pay the cost

‘Cause there’s a monster on the loose
It’s got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin’

America, where are you now
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster

America, where are you now
Don’t you care about your sons and daughters
Don’t you know we need you now
We can’t fight alone against the monster

America…America…America…America…

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Jerry Edmonton / John Kay
Monster lyrics © BMG Rights Management

♫ Imagine ♫

Yes, I know I have played this one several times already, but please bear with me.  I tend to play this song when … well, when I need to … imagine.  When I need to imagine that there is hope for this world, when I need to believe that humans will eventually find their better side, will begin to care someday, care about others, care about the land, about all living creatures.  Today is the 19th anniversary of the horror that would become known as 9/11.  2,977 people died on that day, more than 400 of them police and firefighters.  Since then, hundreds more rescue workers have lost their lives as a result of the toxicity at Ground Zero. But, we lost more than human lives that day.  We lost … I think that was the day we all came to realize, though even today we would deny it, that “Peace on earth” is a myth that will never be realized.  We came to realize, I think, that … nothing would ever be quite the same again, and that no, it won’t all be okay.  But we want to still believe … I think we must still believe, else … what is the point in it all?  And so, my friends, I give you John Lennon and his view of … a better world.

Imagine
John Lennon

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky

Imagine all the people
Living for today (ah ah ah)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too

Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Songwriters: John Winston Lennon
Imagine lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Downtown Music Publishing, BMG Rights Management

11 September 2020 … Memories

With the exception of 2018, I have published this post each year since 2015 on September 11th, sharing memories of that day in 2001 when life changed, my thoughts and reflections.  I planned to write a new one this year, but as I read over it, I realized that I cannot say it any better today than I said it five years ago, and frankly, amidst the rubble of chaos, turmoil and divisiveness in our nation today, inspiration simply did not come to me.   I’ve come to realize that not only did we not learn the lessons of that day, but that in every way imaginable, the United States has become a much crueler, harsher, less respected and less respectable nation today than it was in 2001.  I skipped my 9/11 post in 2018, for I felt that amidst the chaos and divisiveness of this nation, it had lost its relevance.  I was wrong … we need to remember … we must not forget, we must look in the mirror and ask ourselves if we have learned anything in the 19 years since our world turned upside down in a matter of 102 minutes.


Humanity

911-cover-4Nineteen years ago.  It seems so much longer … another lifetime.  And yet … and yet, it seems like such a short time ago. I remember the morning well.  A key staff member was on vacation and I had to cover, so I arrived at work well before dawn, but I stepped outside sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 for a smoke break.  The sky was the bluest I could recall ever seeing it and I thought it must be the most perfect day ever.  Within a half-hour, I would be left in tears, cursing the day, hoping to awaken from this nightmare.

911-cover-9I went back inside from my smoke-break, and an employee, Susie, came up to me and asked if I had heard about the plane that crashed into the World Trade Center.  If the building I worked in then had not since been demolished, I could show you the exact tile I was standing on at that moment, just as I could tell you that when we received news of the assassination of JFK, I was at home plate with bat in hand, waiting for the pitch that would never come.  Just as my grandfather often told exactly where he was and what he was doing when the news of the attack on Pearl Harbour came over ‘the wireless’. You think it is a literary trick when an author says “time stood still”?  Well, I can tell you … for me, time did stand still, as I must have also.  I seemed to have lost all feeling, all senses shut down … I could not hear nor see.  After that, it all blurs into a series of news updates … a 2nd plane, then the Pentagon, then a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the name Usama bin Laden.  A gathering in the cafeteria, a television rolled into another room where we all gathered.  Financial statements, payroll, printing presses and the like forgotten for the moment.  Tearful phone calls home to the girls.  Then day after day, glued to the television every waking moment.  In my household, we had a then-6-year-old and finally had to turn to Nickelodeon, but the images remained in our eyelids, in our hearts, in our souls. And the tears never stopped.

911-cover-2Today we mark the 19th memorial of that awful day.  We do so in many ways, but the saddest thing for me is that we did not learn the lessons we needed to learn from that tragedy.  Today, our nation is more divided than ever.  In the days and weeks that followed what would become known simply as 9/11, it seemed we were on the right path.  People from all over the nation and Canada traveled to Ground Zero to help with search and rescue, and eventually cleanup operations.  Shopkeepers gave out free food and water.  People helped neighbors, friends and strangers.  We all empathized with each other, treated each other a little kinder, gave a bit more freely of our hugs and kind words.

Compare and contrast to today, when we are a nation divided by hatred, divided by a lack of understanding for those who do not look, act or think like us.  And there are many who blame today’s vitriolic environment on 9/11, those who decided to hate all who share a religion with the plotters and perpetrators of the horrific acts of 9/11.  But it doesn’t stop there … our nation has renewed its call for racial discrimination, religious intolerance, and hatred of those who are perceived as ‘different’ in one way or another.  We have lost our way.


Commercialism

That which “we will never forget” has already been forgotten by some, it would seem.  A mattress company releases the following ad:

“Right now, you can get any sized mattress for a twin price!” says a grinning woman flanked by two employees in the 20-second spot. She flings her arms out and the men tumble backwards, knocking over two tall piles of mattresses. The woman screams “Oh my God!” in mock panic, then immediately recovers her composure and adds, with a half-smile: “We’ll never forget.”  It quickly attracted local, then national outrage. The ad was taken down, and Mike Bonanno, the owner of Miracle Mattress, issued the following statement:  “I say this unequivocally, with sincere regret: the video is tasteless and an affront to the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11.” 

How did he not realize how “tasteless” it was before it aired?

9-11One Wal-Mart, in conjunction with Coca-Cola, erected a display to “commemorate” the 9/11 anniversary.  It was taken down after much criticism.  And other companies have also tried to use 9/11 for sales and profit.  It is not a commercial holiday. We do not celebrate with hot dogs and beer. It is a day of national mourning.  It is a day of solemnity.  Commercialism has no place on this day, no right to use it as a gimmick.  Can you imagine Pearl Harbor, or the assassination of President John F. Kennedy being commercialized?  There was one commercial ad that truly was a tribute to the day.  It aired only once, in 2002.  I still find it to be a beautiful tribute and it still brings tears.  Please take just one minute to watch it.

Before airing the commercial, Anheuser-Busch sought and received approval from Congress, as well as then-mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani. There is no company logo until the end, and since it aired only once, given the cost of producing the ad, the company made no profit from it, nor did they intend to. It truly feels like a tribute rather than a cheap shot. It was tasteful … respectful.


Positive, Encouraging, Hopeful Messages

In 2016, in a rare display of partisanship, 200 members of Congress stood on the steps beneath the recently restored Capitol dome and prayed, observed a moment’s silence and, accompanied by a marine band, sang God Bless America to mark the imminent anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The remembrance ceremony, with Democrats and Republicans standing side by side, was heartening, though it would have been much more so had all 535 members of Congress participated.  Will we see that repeated this year?  I doubt it.

I understand that Donald Trump and Joe Biden both plan to attend a 9/11 memorial held at the field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania today.  In my opinion, politics has no place in this ceremony or others, and Trump only desecrates the day with falsehoods, as I can never forget that after the towers fell, he bragged that now his was the tallest building in the city.


I end where I began, by saying that we have lost our way, we have failed to learn from this, and to some extent we have failed to keep our promise to “never forget”.  The nation is more bitterly divided, more everything-phobic today than it was prior to 11 September 2001.  Rather than embracing our differences, we are using them as an excuse for hatred.  Rather than loving our fellow man, we are killing him.  Unless we learn to unite and work together for the sake of not only our nation, but of humanity, we are doomed to repeat the past. I would ask the readers of this blog to do this one thing:  be kind today, do not put anyone down, offer a smile to any you see, and hug your family just a little tighter today … just for today. Below are just a few pictures I would like to share, to remind us all of that day.

911-1

911-4

911-dust-lady

Marcy Borders, the ‘dust lady’, sadly died 25 August 2015 of cancer related to 9/11

ground zero

twin-towers

No Longer The Country We Think We Are

Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times today speaks for itself …


‘We’re No. 28! And Dropping!’

A measure of social progress finds that the quality of life has dropped in America over the last decade, even as it has risen almost everywhere else.

nicholas-kristof-thumblargeBy Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

This should be a wake-up call: New data suggest that the United States is one of just a few countries worldwide that is slipping backward.

The newest Social Progress Index, shared with me before its official release Thursday morning, finds that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. And the declines in Brazil and Hungary were smaller than America’s.

“The data paint an alarming picture of the state of our nation, and we hope it will be a call to action,” Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index, told me. “It’s like we’re a developing country.”

The index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists, collects 50 metrics of well-being — nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and more — to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom, with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind.

The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece.

“We are no longer the country we like to think we are,” said Porter.

The United States ranks No. 1 in the world in quality of universities, but No. 91 in access to quality basic education. The U.S. leads the world in medical technology, yet we are No. 97 in access to quality health care.

The Social Progress Index finds that Americans have health statistics similar to those of people in Chile, Jordan and Albania, while kids in the United States get an education roughly on par with what children get in Uzbekistan and Mongolia. A majority of countries have lower homicide rates, and most other advanced countries have lower traffic fatality rates and better sanitation and internet access.

The United States has high levels of early marriage — most states still allow child marriage in some circumstances — and lags in sharing political power equally among all citizens. America ranks a shameful No. 100 in discrimination against minorities.

The data for the latest index predates Covid-19, which has had a disproportionate impact on the United States and seems likely to exacerbate the slide in America’s standing. One new study suggests that in the United States, symptoms of depression have risen threefold since the pandemic began — and poor mental health is associated with other risk factors for well-being.

Michael Green, the C.E.O. of the group that puts out the Social Progress Index, notes that the coronavirus will affect health, longevity and education, with the impact particularly large in both the United States and Brazil. The equity and inclusiveness measured by the index seem to help protect societies from the virus, he said.

“Societies that are inclusive, tolerant and better educated are better able to manage the pandemic,” Green said.

The decline of the United States over the last decade in this index — more than any country in the world — is a reminder that we Americans face structural problems that predate President Trump and that festered under leaders of both parties. Trump is a symptom of this larger malaise, and also a cause of its acceleration.

David G. Blanchflower, a Dartmouth economist, has new research showing that the share of Americans reporting in effect that every day is a bad mental health day has doubled over 25 years. “Rising distress and despair are largely American phenomenon not observed in other advanced countries,” Blanchflower told me.

This decline is deeply personal for me: As I’ve written, a quarter of the kids on my old No. 6 school bus in rural Oregon are now dead from drugs, alcohol and suicide — what are called “deaths of despair.” I lost one friend to a heroin overdose this spring and have had more friends incarcerated than I could possibly count; the problems are now self-replicating in the next generation because of the dysfunction in some homes.

You as taxpayers paid huge sums to imprison my old friends; the money would have been far better invested educating them, honing their job skills or treating their addictions.

That’s why this is an election like that of 1932. That was the year American voters decisively rejected Herbert Hoover’s passivity and gave Franklin Roosevelt an electoral mandate — including a flipped Senate — that laid the groundwork for the New Deal and the modern middle class. But first we need to acknowledge the reality that we are on the wrong track.

We Americans like to say “We’re No. 1.” But the new data suggest that we should be chanting, “We’re No. 28! And dropping!”

Let’s wake up, for we are no longer the country we think we are.

Good People Doing Good Things — Quietly

Yesterday, I thought my frame of mind was going to make it difficult to get in the mode to go in search of ‘good people’ for this morning’s post, but … I was wrong.  Once I got started, good people just began pouring onto my screen and I had to pick and choose just a few!


Investing in the future …

As most of you know, I don’t have a lot of respect for ‘Corporate America’ … I see capitalists as a greedy bunch, unwilling to pay their fair share and always on the lookout for ways to take shortcuts, to further their wealth while reducing ours.  However, every now and then a corporation does something that makes me sit up and take notice, and today, Hormel Foods is one such company.

Hormel Foods announced last week that it will begin offering two years of free college tuition to all the children of their U.S. employees beginning next year.  Not based on achievement in test scores or GPA, the new program is a way to create equality in education admissions—and the company hopes many who take advantage of the offer will be first-generation college students in their families.

Called “Inspired Pathways,” the program will begin in the fall of 2021. A spokesperson for Hormel Foods said the company has 16,000 domestic employees and the program is open to any dependent child of those workers. The company has more than 30 plant and office locations in the U.S., primarily in the Midwest, and the kids can attend any community college of their choice as long as they graduate from high school and meet the school’s entry requirements.

Hormel’s President and CEO Jim Snee said …

“When you think about how a college education can change lives and start a ripple effect that will be felt for generations, that’s the change-maker Hormel Foods wants to be.”

Additionally, the company offers tuition reimbursement for current team members who go back to school while working at Hormel Foods.  There can be no better investment than in our children’s education, and my hat is off to Hormel for making that investment in our children, our country, our future.


One good turn deserves another …

Jocelynn James of Franklin County, Alabama, used to have a drug problem – she was addicted to opioids and supported her drug habit by stealing and breaking the law.  She wasn’t very good at that law-breaking thing, and was arrested numerous times between 2007 and 2012, most often by Officer Terrell Potter.  She finally managed to get back on track and has now been drug-free for eight years.

Officer Potter, however, recently found out that his kidney was failing and that the waiting list for a donor kidney was so long that he would not live long enough for his name to come to the top of the list.  Ms. James found out from a Facebook post and she decided to help if she could.  She was tested and turns out she was a perfect match to donate a kidney to Officer Potter, and that is just what she did!James-PotterThe surgery was performed a month-and-a-half ago, and Officer Potter is doing well, grateful to Ms. James, who says it seemed only right that she could save his life, for she believed that he had saved hers all those many years ago.


One meal at a time …

In St. Louis, Missouri, Chef Tyler Davis is on a mission to feed St. Louis area kids who are out of school due to the coronavirus pandemic.  His good deed started with a handful of volunteers preparing nutritional meals for students in a small kitchen in south city. Just this week, Davis and his team fed another 400 children. As of April 10, they’ve distributed a total of 1,600 lunch kits to area children.  Says Davis …

Tyler-Davis“I’m not trying to let anybody go hungry and if I can do anything you know to feed one or two individuals, then that’s what I want to do.  So many people were very, very receptive and were asking me, ‘How do I help? How do I donate and how do I volunteer?  It started out kind of being like just three, four, five and then it grew to 120 delivered during our first round. Now, it’s blown up. I’m very, very grateful for all the help from my volunteers, all the donations we’ve received, and we will keep doing this as long as this pandemic continues. I don’t even have to receive any ‘thank yous.’ I just want to help people “

What a wonderful man!


A bunch of helping hands …

A Warwick, Rhode Island, police officer just reminded the world that while the coronavirus pandemic can claim lives, shut down cities, and change life as we know it, it can’t take away kindness.

The Warwick Police Department received a call on Friday night from a community service organization alerting authorities that an 87-year-old woman had no food in her home.  Officer Jill Marshall, who works with the department’s Community Services Division, volunteered to conduct a welfare check and found the elderly woman, who was living with her disabled son, had nothing to eat.  Officer Marshall offered to go food shopping for the family — and their cat.

Marshall visited a local grocery store, which donated $25 to help cover the cost of groceries. When other people in the store heard of what Marshall was doing, they donated enough money to buy $100 worth of food for the family.

“I was ready to use my own money to help them but the generosity of those shopping and Shaw’s (grocery store) paid for her list. I would have never left them and make them wait for food. That’s just not humane.”


See, folks … there are still people out there doing good things to help others.  They just don’t make quite as much noise as all the assholes do, so maybe we don’t notice them as much.

Former Republican Chair is committed to seeing Trump lose

Another influential Republican signs on for Joe Biden! Keith writes about Michael Steele, a long-time Republican and former Chair of the Republican Party, who is urging Republicans to wake up and see the damage Trump is doing/has done to racial relations in the U.S. Please be sure to check out the link to the article in The Guardian, as well. Thank you for this encouraging information, Keith!

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Michael Steele, a long-time Republican and former Chair of the Republican Party, has had enough. Steele is actively working to assure the current president loses in November. Wny? David Smith writes in The Guardian about his interview with Steele, an African-American, in the following piece entitled “‘They capitulated to Trump’: Michael Steele on the fight for the Republican party’s soul.”

Here a few paragraphs from the article, which can be linked to in full below.

“’I asked myself, what are the things that matter to you? It mattered that this president has openly said to us, I’m not going to accept the outcome of this election if I don’t win. It matters to me what he’s done with the Postal Service to prevent Americans from accessing the ballot box. I see this is the time for choosing, and the choice that unfortunately many in my party, particularly in the party…

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The First 100 Days …

If a president serves his entire four-year term, he will have been president for 1,459 days.  The first 100 days are some sort of a marker, though they are less than 15% of his expected tenure, because there is always an analysis of what a president accomplished in his first 100 days.  Additionally, a part of a candidate’s campaign platform also includes “What I plan to accomplish in my first 100 days”, which is later used as a benchmark for the aforementioned analysis.

I would like to clear some things up regarding Joe Biden’s “First 100 Days To Do List”.  Donald Trump seems to think he has a copy of Joe’s list, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t.  Donald Trump has falsely declared that in his first 100 days, Biden plans to …

  • Implement a $4 trillion tax hike
  • Demolish the U.S. energy industry
  • Shut down the entire U.S. economy to combat the coronavirus pandemic
  • Remove windows from homes and offices (Say WHAT???)

Now, obviously Trump has made all of this and more up in that demented mind of his, but … remove windows???  Where does he get this shit?  Anyway, I thought it prudent to take a look at what Joe Biden actually plans to accomplish in the early days of his presidency.

  • Rejoin the World Health Organization (WHO) and restore our leadership on the world stage
  • Rejoin the Paris Climate Accords
  • Contact NATO allies, saying “we’re back and you can count on us again.”
  • Work with Congress to pass hate crime legislation
  • Send a bill to Congress repealing liability protections for gun manufacturers, and closing background-check loopholes
  • Send an immigration bill to Congress creating a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and retaining rights for “dreamers,” who were brought to the United States illegally as children.
  • Move to eliminate tax cuts passed under Trump in 2017
  • Direct his secretary of housing and urban development to form a task force and provide a road map for ending homelessness
  • Restore federal worker’s right to unionize
  • Reinstate federal guidance, issued by Obama and revoked by Trump, that would restore transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity.
  • Issue new sweeping ethics standards that would apply to members of his administration
  • Give the inspectors general full power to investigate any allegation of improper influence

And there is more, but I think you get the picture … none of his goals and plans are ‘evil’, none are power grabs, none favour only the wealthy, and all are things that will benefit the people … We the People.

Joe Biden’s plans for his first 100 days and beyond are necessarily ambitious, for Donald Trump has broken much that needs to be fixed … PRONTO!  And, whether Biden is able to accomplish his initial goals largely depends on whether Mitch McConnell and his band of republican thugs continue to hold a majority in the Senate, for if they do, Biden and the rest of the Democrats in Congress will have to fight tooth and nail for every inch of progress.

Now, let’s think for a minute about what Donald Trump actually did during his first 100 days in 2017.  I can sum it all up in three words:  He Broke Stuff.  In April 2017, Trump touted that …

“No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.”

I guess it all depends on how one defines an accomplishment.  If I kill my neighbor, did I accomplish something, or am I a murderer?  In his first 90 days, it is true that Trump signed bills and issued executive orders … but not a single one did anything to help the people of this nation, or to make us a better nation.  Many of his orders were overturned within that same 90-day period, such as his ban on travelers from predominantly Muslim countries.  His executive orders overturned and reversed environmental regulations that were put into effect to protect and preserve the air we breathe, the water we rely on, and the ecosystems that are essential to life on this planet.

He attempted to reverse the Affordable Care Act (ACA, aka Obamacare) that enabled millions of citizens to have affordable health care.  He did manage to place Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, after bribing Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire, thus ensuring that the Supreme Court would lean to the right in most decisions – not a good thing for We the People if we are women or people of colour or non-Christians.

But to my original point.  Donald Trump has no idea what Joe Biden has pledged to do, and he is making up ridiculous lies, rants, to attempt to slur Joe Biden.  I saw a post by a (former) friend on Facebook tonight accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile, and most every comment pertained to Roe v Wade, accusing Biden of wanting to “rip poor unborn children …”.  I could not help myself … I rebutted a number of the comments before finally asking myself why I was wasting my time with these low-life misogynists.  My point here being that, while Trump’s accusations are obviously uneducated, inaccurate, and blatant lies … some of his less intelligent followers will believe every word.  Therefore, I think it is important that we tell the public … over and over and over again … what Joe Biden really stands for and what he truly hopes to accomplish in his first 100 days.  Joe Biden is a good man with integrity and good values … something that has been sorely lacking in the Oval Office for the past 1,327 days since Trump’s inauguration.  Joe Biden cares about people, he cares about our planet.  Donald Trump cares only about … Donald Trump.  Your choice, my friends.