♫ River of Dreams ♫

I had no song in my heart tonight … still seething and grieving over the wolves … and had decided to skip my music post today, when our friend Michael (Oikos-Editorial) from Germany commented on the Billy Joel song I played a few nights ago, Honesty, and said he also liked this one by Joel.  Well, the title didn’t start any fires in my poor ol’ tired mind, but when I listened, I remembered the song well and … the rest, as they say, is history.  Thank you, Michael, for salvaging my music post today!

Billy Joel gets a lot of song ideas in his dreams, and often struggles to remember them when he wakes up. For this song, however, he woke up with the song in his head, but tried NOT to write it …

“I thought, Who the hell am I to try to pull off this gospel song, so I took a shower to wash this song away. I sang it in the shower and knew I had to do it.”

Hey … I sing in the shower!  D’you think I might have a hit song just waiting to be released?

This is a very spiritual song where Joel, who identifies himself as an atheist, includes some biblical imagery, including the line, “Through the valley of fear,”  Joel also says that the river is a religious image, as “there’s baptizing in a river and you have to cross the river – people are getting dunked in the river and there’s rivers of blood.”

The cover of the River Of Dreams album was painted by supermodel Christie Brinkley, who was Joel’s second wife.  I did not know this!  

river-of-dreams

Joel performed this song at the Grammy Awards ceremony in 1994, where it was up for Record of the Year (it lost to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”). Joel, backed by a large gospel choir on a set designed to look like a church, used the false ending about two-and-a-half minutes into the song as an opportunity to make a point: instead of waiting a beat and continuing the song, he stopped cold, looked at his watch and said, “Valuable advertising time going by… dollars.” Joel later said that he was protesting because producers cut off Frank Sinatra’s acceptance speech earlier in the telecast when Sinatra was given a Legend Award.

This song did well worldwide … it reached #3 in both the U.S. and UK, and #2 in Canada, Austria, Ireland and Switzerland, and hit #1 in New Zealand.

The River of Dreams
Song by Billy Joel

Lyrics
In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To the river so deep
I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
But the river is wide
And it’s too hard to cross

Even though I know the river is wide
I walk down every evening and I stand on the shore
I try to cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out what I’ve been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the valley of fear
To a river so deep
I’ve been searching for something
Taken out of my soul
Something I’d never lose
Something somebody stole

I don’t know why I go walking at night
But now I’m tired and I don’t want to walk anymore
I hope it doesn’t take the rest of my life
Until I find what it is that I’ve been looking for

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the jungle of doubt
To a river so deep
I know I’m searching for something
Something so undefined
That it can only be seen
By the eyes of the blind

In the middle of the night

I’m not sure about a life after this
God knows I’ve never been a spiritual man
Baptized by the fire, I wade into the river
That runs to the promised land

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
Through the desert of truth
To the river so deep
We all end in the ocean
We all start in the streams
We’re all carried along
By the river of dreams

In the middle of the night

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Billy Joel
The River of Dreams lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

“United” States??? What A Joke!

Are you as sick and damn tired as I am of the constant criticism of members of the Republican Party toward anything and everything that wasn’t their own idea, of anything that promotes common sense and racial equality?  They claim to want unity, but then they act as if they are the only ones whose opinions or ideas have a shred of value.  Frankly, I’m sick of it, sick of the blatant racism, homophobia, and utter stupidity.  On Tuesday, Texas Governor Abbot announced that there would be no more mask mandate and that businesses in Texas could now re-open.  On Wednesday, Mississippi followed suit, eliminating all pandemic-related restrictions.

Both states will pay a heavy price for these decisions, for the pandemic is far from over, not even under control.  Abbott claimed he had consulted with doctors about his decision, but the doctors deny his claim and say it was the wrong decision.  There isn’t a shred of doubt that these two states will see a rise in the number of cases and deaths before the end of the month.  President Biden responded …

“I think it’s a big mistake. Look, I hope everybody’s realized by now, these masks make a difference. We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we’re able to get vaccines in people’s arms. The last thing — the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything’s fine, take off your mask, forget it.  It’s critical — critical, critical, critical — that they follow the science: Wash your hands, hot water, do it frequently. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced. And I know you all know that. I wish the heck some of our elected officials knew it.”

What he said was a hell of a lot nicer than what I said when I heard about Texas and Mississippi, but of course the damn fools on the right had to jump on what he said.  Senator Marco Rubio from Florida claimed Biden should seek “training on unconscious bias”WHAT BIAS, Marco?  Facts are facts!  It was neanderthal thinking … worse yet, it was lunacy.  And picking a fight over this is … or should be … beneath the dignity of elected lawmakers who have a job to do and don’t need to be wasting their time and our money nitpicking every word out of the president’s mouth!  Especially given that they supported the former guy who never uttered a sincere or kind word in 4 years!

But, there is an even more serious issue on which congressional republicans are determined to fight.  The issue is HR1, aka For the People Act, a bill that primarily deals with anti-corruption and voting reform.  The bill passed on Wednesday night in the House and now moves on to the Senate, where it faces an uphill battle, especially among … yep, you got it, Republicans.

HR1 is not actually a new bill … it was passed by the House in 2019, but like most every other bill during the reign of Mitch McConnell, it sat gathering dust as he refused to even open it for discussion.  A few of the key components of the bill are …

  • Instituting nonpartisan redistricting commissions to end partisan gerrymandering
  • Creating a national system for automatic voter registration
  • Putting in transparency requirements for political advertising

When the bill was first introduced back in 2019, it had broad public support.  It might have even passed in the Senate, had Mr. McConnell allowed it to see the light of day.  Today, the criticisms of the bill are infuriatingly false.  For example, a recent Facebook post claims the Act will “permanently destroy voting in America.”  My my my … what drama queens they are!  Actually, the Act would make it easier for people to vote by mail, which would benefit us all, but especially the poor and minorities who often have difficulty getting to the polling places in time.  It would require states to implement automatic and same-day voter registration.  In short … it would allow every eligible voter to vote!!!  What the Sam Hell is so hard to understand.

The Facebook post makes alarmist claims, such as that murderers will be allowed to vote, and broad generalizations suggesting that the bill will lead to regulation of freedom of speech. While the post doesn’t use the phrase “voter fraud”, it leaves readers with the misleading impression that the bill aims to weaken election security. The bill actually includes provisions to increase security through grants and cybersecurity improvements.

43 states currently have some 250+ bills on their dockets that would restrict voting rights, make it far more difficult for people, especially those who happen to not have white skin, to vote.  WHAT the hell is fair about that?  Oh, Black people are supposed to work hard, pay their taxes, but not be allowed a voice in how those taxes are spent?  And you call this liberty???

The crux of the matter is this:  The Republican Party is in the minority, is not particularly popular with people who use their brains to think instead of playing silly putty with them, and the only damn way they can win in some areas is if they can repress the vote.  So, they criticize, they lie, they cheat, and they steal!

Mike Pence, for whom I actually had a bit of empathy after his life was nearly taken and still he proceeded to do the right thing, certifying the electoral vote on January 6th, has written an opinion piece in The Signal, a far right-wing publication, where he claims …

“After an election marked by significant voting irregularities and numerous instances of officials setting aside state election law, I share the concerns of millions of Americans about the integrity of the 2020 election.”

WHOA … let’s stop right there for a minute!  After 60+ lawsuits where not a shred of evidence was provided to support the former guy’s claim of election fraud, this statement by Pence should have caused his nose to grow by at least an inch!

“Congressional districts would be redrawn by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. Illegal immigrants and law-abiding American citizens would receive equal representation in Congress. Felons would be able to vote the moment they set foot out of prison.”

Yeah … so … your point, Mikey, is what???  I don’t want elected bureaucrats drawing district maps … I want independent, non-partisan people drawing them so we don’t see maps that make no sense other than to cram minorities into as few districts as possible.  There is no such thing as an “illegal” immigrant!  If an immigrant is working and paying taxes in this country he/she ought to be able to have a voice.  And why do you think released felons ought not to be allowed to vote?  They are citizens.  They work and pay taxes once they are released.  WHY the hell do you think they ought not to have a say???  BIGOT!  Next, you can look for Pence, who is a blatant homophobe, to try to take away the LGBT community’s right to vote!

Okay, enough about what Mike Pence and the rest of the bigots in the Republican Party have to say, for my blood pressure is already somewhere up in the stratosphere. Does HR1 stand a snowball’s chance in hell of passing in the Senate?  The short answer is ‘no’, for in order to avoid a filibuster it would require a 60-vote majority … and it’s already obvious that not more than maybe one republican will vote for it.  There is a path … a very narrow path … if the senate democrats are committed enough to it, then they can partially amend Senate filibuster rules to allow democracy reform legislation like HR1 to advance on a simple majority vote and therefore potentially be able to pass on a party-line vote. That would be different from fully blowing up the filibuster, but it still could get pushback from Senate institutionalists even in the Democratic Party like Senator Joe Manchin, a staunch advocate of keeping the filibuster in place, though I have no idea why.

If HR1 fails, then the 43 states who are trying so hard to rob us of our voice in the government we support financially will likely succeed and this will no longer be a nation I can bear to live in.  If every single person, regardless of skin colour, ethnicity, gender identification, or religion cannot vote, then what’s the point in even holding elections?  Perhaps it’s time to admit that this is by no stretch of the imagination the “United” States?

♫ Bad Bad Leroy Brown ♫ (Redux)

Jim Croce died in a plane crash on September 20, 1973 when he was only 30 years old.  A few days after his death, his wife Ingrid received a letter from him telling her that he had decided to quit music and stick to writing short stories and movie scripts as a career, and withdraw from public life.  Bad Bad Leroy Brown hit #1 on the charts just two months before his death.

The song was inspired by a tough private he met while in the army.  Croce and Brown used to hang out and sing together … until one day when Leroy Brown went AWOL.

Bad Bad Leroy Brown
Jim Croce

Well the South side of Chicago
Is the baddest part of town
And if you go down there
You better just beware
Of a man named Leroy Brown

Now Leroy more than trouble
You see he stand ’bout six foot four
All the downtown ladies call him “Treetop Lover”
All the men just call him “Sir”

And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Leroy he a gambler
And he like his fancy clothes
And he like to wave his diamond rings
In front of everybody’s nose
He got a custom Continental
He got an Eldorado too
He got a thirty two gun in his pocket for fun
He got a razor in his shoe

And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Now Friday ’bout a week ago
Leroy shootin’ dice
And at the edge of the bar
Sat a girl named Doris
And oo that girl looked nice
Well he cast his eyes upon her
And the trouble soon began
And Leroy Brown learned a lesson
‘Bout messin’ with the wife of a jealous man

And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Well the two men took to fighting
And when they pulled them off the floor
Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle
With a couple of pieces gone

And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

And it’s bad, bad Leroy Brown
The baddest man in the whole damned town
Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Badder than old King Kong
And meaner than a junkyard dog

Songwriters: James Croce

Bad Bad Leroy Brown lyrics © BMG Rights Management US, LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

They KILLED 216 Wolves!!!!! 😭

I am sickened, disgusted, and enraged to read that in Wisconsin, hunters (assholes with guns) killed 216 wolves within 60 hours!  WHY???  What is it about the human species that leads them to think they have a right to take other species lives for ‘sport’?  216 wolves died at the hands of jerks who are so cowardly they need guns to make them feel like ‘men’.

According to the story in The Guardian

The kills all took place in less than 60 hours, quickly exceeding Wisconsin’s statewide stated limit of 119 animals.

As a result, Wisconsin’s department of natural resources ended the season, which was scheduled to span one week, four days early.

While department officials were reportedly surprised by the number of gray wolves killed, they described the population as “robust, resilient” and expressed confidence in managing the numbers “properly going forward”.

wolfSo, it’s ‘okay’ that 216 wolves lost their lives in less than 3 days, because the wolf population has enough remaining wolves that it is not in danger of extinction?  But … what about the 216 who died???  They had as much right to life as the damned ‘men’ who shot and killed them so that they could brag to their friends, perhaps even hang a wolf’s head on the wall above their fireplace.  WHY should there even be a ‘hunting season’???  In this, the 21st century, people buy their food at the grocery store – there is no need to kill innocent animals for food.  The wolves weren’t threatening to harm these sorry excuses for ‘men’ … the men went out of their way to shoot and kill the wolves … wolves who, by the way, did not carry guns, could not defend themselves.

A federal judge, in response to a lawsuit from wildlife advocates, decided in December 2014 that the gray wolf must be put back on the Endangered Species List. In October 2020, the Trump administration removed the gray wolf from the Endangered Species List.

One more reason for me to despise the former guy … as if I needed another.

wolf-quote-2Last month, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources decided not to hold a hunting season on wolves this year, but a Kansas-based hunting advocacy group filed suit against them, forcing them to ‘hold a season’ before the end of February.  I will be finding out the name and address of that ‘advocacy group’ and they are going to receive a letter that will be so full of wrath that it will burn their fingers when they open the envelope!

There are far better hobbies a person can have than murdering innocent animals!  Take up bowling, knitting, wood-carving, learn a new language, maybe even learn proper English!  Nobody … NOBODY has the right to determine how many of a species should be allowed to live on this planet!  NOBODY has that right!  If they did, then I would suggest the world is far overpopulated by humans, so let’s have an open season on them and kill off a million or so every year!

I hope every last one of those sorry excuses for humans who killed a wolf has nightmares every night for the rest of their lives.

They say that the United States, aka ‘America’ is a free country, but apparently that means something different to some than it does to me.  Apparently to many it means freedom for humans, death for all other species.  Some days I hate humans.

wolf-quote

Where Was The Guard On January 6th?

What follows is the annotated testimony to Congress by the Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard regarding the events of January 6th at the U.S. Capitol and his explanation of the Guard’s delay in responding.  It is lengthy, but I think you’ll find it interesting and worth the few minutes spent to read it.  Thanks to Seth Abramson at Proof for providing both the transcript and annotations.


Annotated Testimony of William J. Walker, Commanding General of the D.C. National Guard, Before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Rules and Administration Committees

Proper names and substantive highlights of this critical March 3, 2021 opening statement—focused on the January 6 insurrection—are bolded in the text below.

William-J-Walker

“Good morning, Chairman [Michigan senator Gary] Peters and Chairwoman [Minnesota senator Amy] Klobuchar, Ranking Members [Ohio senator Rob] Portman and [Missouri senator Roy] Blunt, and members of the Committees. I am Major General William J. Walker and I serve as the Commanding General for the District of Columbia National Guard, affectionately known as the Capital Guardians. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the events of January 6—a dark chapter in our nation’s history.

I was sickened by the violence and destruction I witnessed that fateful day and the physical and mental harm that came to the U.S. Capitol Police officers and MPD [the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C.], some of whom I met with later that evening and I could see the injuries they sustained. It is my hope that my recollection of events and presentation of the facts as I know them will help your Committees in its investigation and prevent such tragic events from ever occurring again.

First, I think it is critical to understand what the D.C. National Guard’s mission was on January 6, to include what civilian agency we were supporting and how requests for support of other civilian authorities were handled.

On December 31, 2020, the D.C. National Guard [PROOF annotation: later “DCNG”] received written requests from District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and her Director of D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Dr. Christopher Rodriguez. The requests sought D.C. National Guard support for traffic control and crowd management for planned demonstrations in DC from January 5 through [January] 6.

After conducting mission analysis to support the District request, I sent a letter to then Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy, dated January 1, requesting approval. I received approval in a letter dated January 5 from Secretary McCarthy granting support of the MPD with 340 total personnel to include 40 personnel assigned to a Quick Reaction Force.

{PROOF annotation: Note that it took four days before Trump’s Pentagon responded to the Democratic leadership of D.C., meaning that the District got “approval” for National Guard assistance on one of the very two days it had urgently asked for help on—January 5. Not only did this approval come too late for January 5 aid, it left under 24 hours for aid for January 6 to be readied.}

The DCNG provides support to MPD, the U.S. Park Police, U.S. Secret Service and other District and federal law enforcement agencies in response to planned rallies, marches, protests and other large scale first amendment activity on a routine basis.

{PROOF annotation: As previously noted at PROOF, in a January 7 video Stop the Steal organizer Alex Jones claimed that he was in contact with the U.S. Secret Service prior to January 6 about leading the march to the Capitol after Trump’s speech at the White House Ellipse, with the explanation by Jones that then-president Donald Trump himself—as Trump would ultimately declare publicly during his speech at the Ellipse—would be speaking at the event Jones and his “movement” had orchestrated for midday at the Capitol steps. Per Jones, the Secret Service therefore needed to coordinate the logistics of the event. Mysteriously, there is no evidence as yet of the Secret Service at any point contacting other law enforcement agencies to alert them to Trump’s likely presence at the Capitol and the security implications thereof. And yet, beyond Trump’s own public statement on January 6 there is ample evidence that events did indeed unfold as Jones now claims. Jones says he was put in the VIP section of Trump’s audience to more easily be moved to the head of the post-speech march, and so he was; Jones is on video on January 6 repeatedly telling Trump voters that Trump is headed to the Capitol; Jones’ Stop the Steal co-organizer Ali Alexander, who has since repeatedly said he was coordinating with Trump allies in Congress—including Reps. Paul Gosar, Andy Biggs, and Mo Brooks, as well as Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle—appears on video on January 6 having the same belief as Jones that the Secret Service would be bringing Trump to the Capitol. Congress now desperately needs to speak to the Secret Service about these odd discrepancies.}

A standard component of such support is the stand up of an offsite Quick Reaction Force (QRF), an element of guardsmen held in reserve equipped with civil disturbance response equipment (helmets, shields, batons, etc.) and postured to quickly respond to an urgent and immediate need for assistance by civilian authorities. The Secretary of the Army’s January 5 letter withheld authority for me to employ the Quick Reaction Force.

{PROOF annotation: So not only did Trump’s Pentagon take four days to respond to the Democratic officials running D.C.—making it impossible for that response to address the security situation in the Capitol on January 5 and virtually impossible for it to address the security situation on January 6—but it also, when it finally responded, denied the chief request the District’s Democratic leadership had made.}

In addition, the Secretary of the Army’s memorandum to me required that a “concept of operation” (CONOP) be submitted to him before any employment of the QRF. I found that requirement to be unusual as was the requirement to seek approval to move Guardsmen supporting MPD to move from one traffic control point to another.

{PROOF annotation: The actions of Trump’s Pentagon were irregular, and consistently irregular in the same direction: making it harder for any assets under the control of the Trump administration to be used to defend the Capitol from a Trumpist assault on either January 5 or January 6.}

Beginning at 1:30PM [on January 6, 2021], we watched as MPD began to deploy all available resources in support of the Capitol Police. In doing so, the officers began to withdraw from the traffic control points that were jointly manned with D.C. Guardsmen.

At 1:49PM [on January 6, 2021] I received a frantic call from then Chief of U.S. Capitol Police, Steven Sund, where he informed me that the security perimeter at the Capitol had been breached by hostile rioters. Chief Sund, his voice cracking with emotion, indicated that there was a dire emergency on Capitol Hill and requested the immediate assistance of as many Guardsmen as I could muster.

{PROOF annotation: It is now clear that when Capitol Police issued an urgent request for help on January 6, there was absolutely no chance help would be forthcoming in any timely fashion—not because of delays on January 6, though there were many—but primarily because of the actions Trump’s Pentagon had taken prior to January 6 in taking so long to respond to Democratic officials in the District and then denying them the sort of aid those officials had every reason to expect. Media’s exclusive focus on January 6 itself continues to be misplaced; so much of what happened on January 6 was inevitable based on what had happened prior to January 6. In particular, the fact that Trump had installed loyalists Kash Patel and Ezra-Cohen Watnick immediately after learning he’d lost the November 2020 election, and that these two men were essentially controlling Trump defense secretary Chris Miller in the days before the insurrection according to Vanity Fair, have produced a significant concern that Trump and his agents coordinated the Pentagon’s refusal of Democratic officials’ urgent pleas both before and during the insurrection.}

Immediately after the 1:49PM call with Chief [Steven] Sund, I alerted the Army Senior Leadership of the request. The approval for Chief Sund’s request would eventually come from the Acting Secretary of Defense and be relayed to me by Army Senior Leaders at 5:08PM—3 hours and 19 minutes later. We already had Guardsmen on buses ready to move to the Capitol. Consequently, at 5:20PM—in under 20 minutes—the District of Columbia National Guard arrived at the Capitol. We helped to re-establish the security perimeter at the east side of the Capitol to facilitate the resumption of the Joint Session of Congress.

{PROOF annotation: This is stunning. Commander Walker is saying that had he received approval from the Pentagon at 1:49PM on January 6, he could have had Guardsmen at the Capitol by somewhere between 2:05PM and 2:08PM—in time to quell the worst of the insurrection—but instead he heard nothing from Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick, the Trump Pentagon power center, until 5:08PM. Meanwhile, the boss of Mssrs. Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick, was gleefully watching events from the White House and refusing to contact his men at the Pentagon. There is no chance that Miller, Patel, and Cohen-Watnick would have missed the clear signal from (at the very least) Trump’s silence, if not some White House communication we don’t yet know about: don’t do anything until I tell you. By the time the Pentagon acted, Trump had issued public statements about wanting the insurrectionists to leave the Capitol grounds. It was only then that his men at the Pentagon responded to the urgent pleas for aid from the Capitol.}

In conclusion, I am grateful for the Guardsmen from the 53 states and territories who supported [the] D.C. National Guard’s OPERATION CAPITOL RESPONSE {PROOF annotation: all-caps in original} and ensured a peaceful transition of power on January 20, [2021]. In particular, I am grateful for the timely assistance of our close neighbors from the Virginia [National Guard], Delaware [National Guard], and Maryland National Guard who augmented our D.C. National Guard forces in establishing a security perimeter.

I am honored to lead these citizen Soldiers and Airmen—your constituents—many of whom have left behind their families, careers, education and businesses, to ensure the protection and safety of the U.S. Capitol and those who serve in it.

Thank you again for the opportunity to brief you today. I look forward to any questions you may have.”

{PROOF annotation: Commander Walker’s subsequent testimony before these two Senate committees—meeting in an unusual joint session—is equally damning. Most notably, Walker says that the process to get troop deployments approved and troops in place took “minutes” during the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, but hours when Trump voters were storming the U.S. Capitol. This disparity is further evidence of misconduct inside Trump’s Pentagon, as was the fact that the Pentagon brought former Trump national security advisor Michael Flynn’s brother Charles Flynn into the chain of command on that day despite him not being in the regular chain of command—and then lied about it publicly. It remains unclear what role Patel, Cohen-Watnick, or Flynn played in creating a massive delay in responding to violence at the Capitol that they had reason to know their boss, Donald Trump, was overjoyed to see.}

♫ Honesty ♫

Ever have a song just pop into your head, uninvited and seemingly for no reason at all other than to annoy?  As I was wrapping up my ‘good people’ post this evening, assessing what I had left to do before I could seek some much-needed sleep, this song popped into my head and refused … absolutely refused to leave so that I could find … a song … for my music … post.  Oh.  Wait.  This is a song.  Seems this song has a desire to be played tonight.

Honesty was solely written by Billy Joel while production was handled by Phil Ramone.  It is the second song from his sixth studio album 52nd Street (1978).  Other than that, I don’t have a lot of background trivia, but I think the lyrics speak for themselves.

Joel performed the song with Elton John at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey in July 1994. First, they sang Your Song (1970) by Elton and after that they performed Honesty while playing on the piano.

Released in 1979, this song wasn’t a huge hit in the U.S., reaching only #24, hit #16 in Canada, and didn’t chart at all in the UK.  Perhaps songs about honesty make people uncomfortable?

Honesty
Billy Joel

If you search for tenderness
It isn’t hard to find
You can have the love you need to live
But if you look for truthfulness
You might just as well be blind
It always seems to be so hard to give

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve
But I don’t want some pretty face
To tell me pretty lies
All I want is someone to believe

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

I can find a lover
I can find a friend
I can have security until the bitter end
Anyone can comfort me
With promises again
I know, I know

When I’m deep inside of me
Don’t be too concerned
I won’t ask for nothin’ while I’m gone
But when I want sincerity
Tell me where else can I turn
‘Cause you’re the one I depend upon

Honesty is such a lonely word
Everyone is so untrue
Honesty is hardly ever heard
And mostly what I need from you

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Billy Joel
Honesty lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group, Songtrust Ave

Good People Doing Good Things — Giving Back

Today’s ‘good people’ are two men who started with almost nothing, but through hard work and determination made a good life for themselves and their families, and now they are sharing the rewards with others.  I think you’ll find them both worthy … I did.


Calvin Tyler is a success story in more ways than one!  In 1961, Tyler enrolled as a student of business administration at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore. When his funds dried up in 1963, a year shy of graduation, he left school and took a job as a UPS driver.

Tyler’s lack of a college diploma might have been considered a setback by some, but it didn’t deter this driver with a true drive from steadily rising in the ranks. By the time he retired in 1998, Tyler was Senior Vice President of U.S. Operations and was seated on the UPS board of directors.  That in itself is a success story, but there’s more.

Tyler’s hard work and grit paid off, but he knew that in the business world, his story was the exception rather than the rule. So, in 2002, he and his wife established the Calvin and Tina Tyler Endowed Scholarship Fund at the historically Black university he once attended.  By granting full-tuition scholarships to select Baltimore students in need, they hoped to elevate them to a place where they’d be able to gain a first foothold on the corporate ladder. How far they climbed would be up to them.

Calvin-TylerIn 2016, the Tylers raised the bar, endowing the fund with $5 million. Earlier this year, they broke their own record, pledging $20 million in scholarship endowments. Tyler says he and his wife were compelled by the impact the COVID-19 crisis has had on students already struggling to do what they could to help close the financial gap.

“This is why we are increasing our commitment. We want to have more full-tuition scholarships offered to young people so that they can graduate from college and enter the next stage of their life debt-free.”

Calvin Tyler might not have a college diploma to hang on his wall, but he’s earned an advanced degree in paying it forward many times over—and that’s one course of study all of us can learn from.


Mark Dunajtschik escaped Knicanin prison camp near the end of WWII and was forced to flee his homeland of Yugoslavia. Five years after the war ended, he became an apprentice toolmaker.  The trade he mastered then may have shaped his career, but it was the life lessons he learned that ultimately forged the character of the man he’d someday become.

With housing in post-war Germany almost nonexistent, Dunajtschick’s only option at that time was living in a housing facility for the mentally and physically disabled. Seeing the daily challenges his housemates faced, he realized how just lucky he was.

“Because I was given the opportunity to live in that home, which was founded by an industrialist in the 1880s, now that I am in a position that I can also do something, naturally I want to do it.”

At the age of 85, as one of the most successful industrialists and real estate developers in New Zealand, Dunajtschik is indeed uniquely poised to deliver on his desire to give back.  Already known for his philanthropic works—having financed the country’s Life Flight Trust helicopter rescue service—Dunajtschik’s latest major humanitarian endeavor is overseeing the construction of a new children’s hospital in Wellington.

Mark-Dunajtschik-supplied-Mark-Dunajtschik

In 2017, he committed $50 million dollars of his own money toward building it.

“After a conversation between my business partner and my life partner we decided, why not build it? Those people that are born with a healthy body and mind can look after themselves and those unfortunate to be born with, or suffering ill health, need our help.”

Dunajtschik had no desire to simply throw money at the new hospital. He takes a hands-on approach to all his projects.

“By utilizing my expertise as a developer we would be able to produce more real estate than if we were to just write out a cheque and leave the bureaucrats to build it. 

Over the summer, construction passed a major milestone. As Dunajtschik looked on, the industrial support cranes were cleared from the site, signaling the exterior was complete.  The hospital is expected to open within a year.

We will fight in the shade

Earlier this afternoon, I wrote about voter suppression and the GOP’s attempts to take away the voices of Blacks, Hispanics, and the poor. Our friend Brosephus lives in Georgia and he has written about one of those many attempts in his home state. The blatant attempts to take away our voices are so against what the Founders of this nation envisioned … let’s hope we can stop them in their tracks before the next election! Thank you, Brosephus, for helping us understand the realities, understand just how corrupt these attempts are.

The Mind of Brosephus

Years ago, I got to meet Gerard Butler, and our conversation humorously revolved around this particular movie. He told me about one time sitting next to a woman on a plane who was watching the movie 300, and the woman was oblivious to the fact she was sitting next to King Leonidas himself. Halfway through the movie, he says he tapped her on the shoulder to get her attention, pointed at himself on the screen, and pointed out it was him. We laughed at how people can be so focused on something that they’re clueless about what’s going on all around them.

Georgia House Bill 531 reminds me of that conversation, this movie, and the above scene in particular. So, let me take you on a quick journey through my cortex and see if you agree.

The 2020 election season saw record turnout which occurred in the middle of…

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Your Rights Are On The Chopping Block

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing a case, Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, that could determine what becomes of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The case could give state legislatures a green light to change voting laws, making it more difficult for some, notably non-whites and the poor, to vote.  Currently, some 43 states have more than 250 bills pending that would make it harder for Blacks, Hispanics, and the poor to vote in future elections.  The right to vote is the only thing, the single thing, that separates this nation from third-world dictatorships.  It is the only voice we have that carries any weight.  And now, they are trying to take that away from us.  Charles M. Blow’s column in Sunday’s Washington Post should be required reading for every Justice sitting on the Court today, and every lawmaker in Congress and state legislatures.


Voter Suppression Is Grand Larceny

We are watching another theft of power.

Charles BlowCharles M. Blow

By Charles M. Blow

Opinion Columnist

Feb. 28, 2021

In 1890, Mississippi became one of the first states in the country to call a constitutional convention for the express purpose of writing white supremacy into the DNA of the state.

At the time, a majority of the registered voters in the state were Black men.

The lone Black delegate to the convention, Isaiah Montgomery, participated in openly suppressing the voting eligibility of most of those Black men, in the hope that this would reduce the terror, intimidation and hostility that white supremacists aimed at Black people.

The committee on which he sat went even further. As he said at the convention:

“As a further precaution to secure unquestioned white supremacy the committee have fixed an arbitrary appointment of the state, which fixes the legislative branch of the government at 130 members and the senatorial branch at 45 members.” The majority of the seats in both branches were “from white constituencies.”

Speaking to the Black people he was disenfranchising, Montgomery said:

“I wish to tell them that the sacrifice has been made to restore confidence, the great missing link between the two races, to restore honesty and purity to the ballot-box and to confer the great boon of political liberty upon the Commonwealth of Mississippi.”

That sacrifice backfired horribly, as states across the South followed the Mississippi example, suppressing the Black vote, and Jim Crow reigned.

That same sort of language is being used today to prevent people from voting, because when it comes to voter suppression, ignoble intentions are always draped in noble language. Those who seek to impede others from voting, in some cases to strip them of the right, often say that they are doing so to ensure the sanctity, integrity or purity of the vote.

However, when the truth is laid bare, the defilement against which they rail is the voting power of the racial minority, the young — in their eyes, naïve and liberally indoctrinated — and the dyed-in-the-wool Democrats.

In early February, a Brennan Center for Justice report detailed:

“Thus far this year, thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 bills to restrict voting access. These proposals primarily seek to: (1) limit mail voting access; (2) impose stricter voter ID requirements; (3) slash voter registration opportunities; and (4) enable more aggressive voter roll purges. These bills are an unmistakable response to the unfounded and dangerous lies about fraud that followed the 2020 election.”

On Feb. 24, the center updated its account to reveal that “as of February 19, 2021, state lawmakers have carried over, prefiled, or introduced 253 bills with provisions that restrict voting access in 43 states.”

But it is the coded language that harkens to the post-Reconstruction era racism that strikes me.

In Georgia, which went for a Democrat for the first time since Bill Clinton in 1992 and just elected two Democratic senators — one Black and one Jewish — there have been a raft of proposed voter restrictions. As State Representative Barry Fleming, a Republican and chair of the newly formed Special Committee on Election Integrity, put it recently, according to The Washington Post, “Our due diligence in this legislature [is] to constantly update our laws to try to protect the sanctity of the vote.”

Kelly Loeffler, who lost her Senate bid in the state, has launched a voter organization because, as she said, “for too many in our state, the importance — and even the sanctity of their vote — is in question.” She continued, “That’s why we’re rolling up our sleeves to register conservative-leaning voters who have been overlooked, to regularly engage more communities, and to strengthen election integrity across our state.”

Senator Rick Scott and other Republicans on Feb. 25 introduced the Save Democracy Act in what they said was an effort to “restore confidence in our elections.”

Jessica Anderson of the conservative lobbying organization Heritage Action for America said of the legislation: “I applaud Senator Scott for putting forward common-sense, targeted reforms to help protect the integrity of our federal elections and the sanctity of the vote. The Save Democracy Act will protect against fraud and restore American’s confidence in our election systems while respecting the state’s sovereignty.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is pushing a slate of restrictive voter laws that would make it harder for Democrats to win in the state. On his website, the announcement read this way: “Today, Governor Ron DeSantis proposed new measures to safeguard the sanctity of Florida elections. The Governor’s announcement reaffirms his commitment to the integrity of every vote and the importance of transparency in Florida elections.”

They can use all manner of euphemism to make it sound honorable, but it is not. This is an electoral fleecing in plain sight, one targeting people of color. We are watching another of history’s racist robberies. It’s grand larceny and, as usual, what is being stolen is power.

♫ Superman (It’s Not Easy) ♫

Keith mentioned this song a few days ago, and at first it didn’t ring any bells, so I headed over to YouTube to listen and … sure enough … I’ve heard this one many times and always liked it.  Long story short, once I listened, it got rather stuck in my head and I even woke in the middle of the night singing it in my head so loudly that it woke me!  (Thanks, Keith … I guess I deserved that for all the times I’ve planted an earworm in your head!) Now, I’ve mentioned before that I rarely get the lyrics right in a song, because with my poor hearing, I never hear them right.  So, until tonight when I began researching this song, I had a feeling it was about the Muppet character, Kermit The Frog! 🐸 Why, you ask?  Because I thought he was singing “It’s not easy to be green.”  I must admit, as a long-time Kermit fan, I was a bit disappointed to learn the truth, but I did enjoy learning what the song is really about!

This song, released in April 2001, is by Five for Fighting and is the only song of his that I can recall liking.  I would have expected Five for Fighting to be a group of five musicians, but no … it is a single musician, John Ondrasik.  According to SongFacts …

This song about trying to fit in was written from Superman’s point of view. The superhero is portrayed as misunderstood and not as powerful as people see him: “I’m only a man in a funny red sheet.” Superman may be invincible, but he has feelings too, and while he’s off saving the world he sometimes wonders if anyone thinks about what he is going through.

The song reflects what John Ondrasik (who is Five For Fighting) felt at the time – he released his first album, Message for Albert, in 1997 and it went nowhere. Explaining what led him to write the song, which appeared on his next album, Ondrasik told us it was “frustration about the inability to be heard.”

This became very popular after the September 11 attacks. The reflective tone fit very well with the mood of the United States, and many radio stations put it in heavy rotation. Ondrasik heard from emergency workers and others who found it a source of comfort after the attacks.

Ondrasik performed this song on October 20, 2001 at the “Concert For New York,” a tribute to the police, firefighters, and rescue workers involved in the World Trade Center Attacks. It was a very touching moment, and he called this performance “the most important thing I’ll ever do musically.” Ondrasik stood next to James Taylor and Pete Townshend at the end of the show when they all sang “Let It Be.”

The song hit #14 in the U.S. and #48 in the UK, but actually fared better in Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Ireland, and Italy than in the U.S.!

Superman (It’s Not Easy)
Five for Fighting

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
I’m just out to find
The better part of me

I’m more than a bird, I’m more than a plane
I’m more than some pretty face beside a train
And it’s not easy to be me

I wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
‘Bout a home I’ll never see

It may sound absurd, but don’t be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed, but won’t you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
And it’s not easy to be me

Up, up and away, away from me
Well it’s all right
You can all sleep sound tonight
I’m not crazy or anything

I can’t stand to fly
I’m not that naive
Men weren’t meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me

Inside of me, inside of me, yeah
Inside of me, inside of me
I’m only a man in a funny red sheet
I’m only a man looking for a dream
I’m only a man in a funny red sheet
And it’s not easy
Oh, it’s not easy to be me

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: John Ondrasik
Superman (It’s Not Easy) (iTunes Session) lyrics © Emi Blackwood Music Inc., Five For Fighting Music