Dumb, Dumber and Dumbest

The sheer arrogance and ignorance of some within the Trump regime, including Trump himself, is astounding, jaw-dropping and mind numbing!  Keep in mind that U.S. foreign policy is in tatters at the moment.  Donald Trump is literally despised by all truly democratic nations and loved only by autocrats and strongmen dictators.  Trump has no idea how to conduct foreign relations.  Well, given that he is on wife #3, and has cheated on her at least twice that we’re aware of, I think it’s safe to say he has no idea how to conduct relations.  Period.  However, that doesn’t stop him from sticking his nose into others’ business and telling them how to run their countries.  Three examples in the news just this week …


Dumb

For starters, we have Richard Grenell back in the news.  You may remember the post I did about him last June when he first went to Germany as the Ambassador from the United States.  Grenell is a former Fox ‘News’ commentator, which should tell you something.  When he first arrived in Germany, he made a fool of himself by criticizing Chancellor Angela Merkel on just about every and any issue he could think of, including immigration.

grenell

Richard Grenell

Grenell is back in the news this week, and at least one German lawmaker is calling for his expulsion, saying he is acting like “a high commissioner of an occupying power.”  In his remarks, Grenell criticized the budget of Germany’s finance minister and said it was unacceptable that the country was once again going to miss its NATO defense spending target.

This is not the role of a diplomat and in fact flies in the face of the very definition of the word ‘diplomacy’!  I hope Germany does send him packing, for he is further damaging relations between the U.S. and Germany that Trump has already rent with his frequent criticisms of Ms. Merkel.  Imagine if Pete Wittig, Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. tried to tell Trump that, say, he is wrong to declare a state of national emergency just to rob the U.S. of funds to build his ego wall.  Trump would expel him in about 2 seconds flat, right?


Dumber

Then there was Trump himself, who in all his narcissistic arrogance offered President Macron an unsolicited lecture.

“How is the Paris Environmental Accord working out for France? After 18 weeks of rioting by the Yellow Vest Protesters, I guess not so well!”

After similar comments by Trump last December, France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian appropriately said …

“We do not take domestic American politics into account, and we want that to be reciprocated. I say this to Donald Trump, and the French president says it, too: Leave our nation be.”

It seems to me that Trump’s own nation is in worse shape under his reign than those nations he chooses to criticize and condemn.  Perhaps he should clean up his own house first.


Dumbest

And finally, the very definition of ignominy, is Don Trump, Jr.

Don Trump, Jr., who has proven more than a few times that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and he is truly as much of an idiot as his father, had the unmitigated gall to criticize UK Prime Minister Theresa May for her handling of Brexit.  He went so far as to actually write an OpEd piece published in Britain’s The Telegraph, chastising May … taking her to task for not following the advice of his father! It would be funny, except it isn’t.  He claims that …

“… and ultimately, a process that should have taken only a few short months has become a years-long stalemate.”

A ‘few short months’???  And he knows this because …???  Junior’s international experiences are limited to colluding with the Russian’s to get his father elected and murdering wild animals in Africa! don-trump-junior.pngTrump the Younger went on to inform the land of the Magna Carta, John Locke and Oliver Cromwell that, in his “expert” view, “democracy in the U.K. is all but dead.”  Say WHAT???  Savvy readers will note that it is the U.S. where democracy is ‘all but dead’ and his father is the very one to have pulled the trigger!  This is simply beyond words … this young idiot, this “chip off the old block”, this killer of beautiful animals … has the nerve to give his unsolicited and unwanted opinion on a topic of which he knows nothing!  Junior has no role in our government, is not a member of the cabinet nor the administration … why does he even speak???  My apologies to all my friends in the UK for this abomination … and his father.


Never before has a United States president acted with such reckless abandon, seemingly intent on destroying every relationship the U.S. has worked toward building since it’s founding.  Never before has a president’s family member taken it upon himself to stick his nose into the business of our allies.  Never before has a madman taken the helm, determined to plow into the largest iceberg he can find at warp speed.  To all our allies, on behalf of We the People, I apologize for the terrible behaviour of the ‘man’ in the White House, his family members and appointees, and hope you will bear with us until we are able to rectify this situation.

♫ Let It Be ♫

At the time of its release in 1970, this Beatles tune had the highest debut on the Billboard Hot 100, beginning its chart run at number 6. It was written and sung by Paul McCartney and was their final single before McCartney announced his departure from the band.

McCartney said he had the idea of Let It Be after he had a dream about his mother during the tense period surrounding the sessions for The Beatles aka the White Album in 1968. According to McCartney, the song’s reference to “Mother Mary” was not biblical. McCartney explained that his mother – who died of cancer when he was fourteen – was the inspiration for the “Mother Mary” lyric. He later said: “It was great to visit with her again. I felt very blessed to have that dream. So that got me writing ‘Let It Be’.” He also said in a later interview about the dream that his mother had told him, “It will be all right, just let it be.”

Now here’s something I didn’t know. According to Songfacts …

The Beatles weren’t the first to release this song – Aretha Franklin was. The Queen of Soul recorded it in December 1969, and it was released on her album This Girl’s In Love With You in January 1970, two months before The Beatles released their version (she also covered The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” on that album).

Aretha recorded it with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, who were a group of musicians that owned their own studio in Alabama, but would travel to New York to record with Aretha. David Hood, who was their bass player, told us that Paul McCartney sent demos of the song to Atlantic Records (Franklin’s label) and to the Muscle Shoals musicians. Said Hood, “I kick myself for not grabbing that demo. Because I think they probably dropped it in the garbage. Our version was different. We changed it a little bit from his demo, where their version is different from that demo and from Aretha’s version, as well. Just slightly, but little things.”

A few other bits of trivia:

  • Sesame Street used this with the title changed to “Letter B.” The lyrics were changed to list words that begin with B.
  • The album had the largest initial sales in US record history up to that time: 3.7 million advance orders.
  • This was the first Beatles song released in The Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.
  • This song was played at Linda McCartney’s funeral.
  • This was the first Beatles song released in the Soviet Union. The single made it there in 1972.
  • John Legend and Alicia keys performed this song on the tribute special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, which aired in 2014 exactly 50 years after the group made their famous appearance on Ed Sullivan Show. Legend introduced it as “a song that has comforted generations with its beauty and its message.”

Something else I didn’t know comes from The Vintage News site …

In July 1966 the Beatles toured the Philippines and unintentionally snubbed First Lady Imelda Marcos. Accustomed to high praise if not worship, she invited the group to attend a breakfast reception at the Presidential Palace in Manila, expecting the group to attend without hesitation. When the Beatles were presented with the invitation, however, they asked their manager, Brian Epstein, to politely decline it on behalf of the group, with an explanation that it had never been their policy to accept such “official” invitations.

Soon after, the band realized that the Marcos regime had rarely heard “no” from anyone–and there would be consequences. Imelda Marcos was infuriated when she found out that her grand planned party of 200 guests would not include the Beatles as special guests. Interestingly enough, the Philippine television and radio stations broadcast the snub. Shortly after, all of the Beatles security police suddenly disappeared. Epstein called for an interview, trying to make an apology on Chanel 5 at the Manila Hotel. But when his interview was about to be aired, the state-controlled channel blacked out.

Let It Be
The Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted, there is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the night is cloudy there is still a light that shines on me
Shine until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be, let it be, yeah, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
Let It Be lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

The Electoral College … Keep, Abolish, or Circumvent?

One of the big debates in Washington and around the nation is whether it is time to get rid of the electoral college.  It’s funny in retrospect, but after President Barack Obama won his second term of office, Donald Trump tweeted this …

trump-tweet

But, when the electoral college put him, against the majority vote, into the Oval Office, suddenly he didn’t mind it so much anymore.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

trump-tweet-2.png

One of Elizabeth Warren’s talking points as she campaigns for next year’s presidential election is the abolishment of the electoral college, and it seems a majority in this country are in agreement.  A Pew Research Center poll last year found that a 55% majority support picking presidents by popular vote, compared to 41% who prefer keeping the electoral college.  The usual 4% were asleep … again.

Most of the candidates from both political parties, a number of members of Congress, and others have opined on this issue in recent weeks, but I don’t really care about any of that right now.  I prefer to talk facts … you know, those pesky statements that are supported by hard data?  Let’s first take a look at the rationale behind the electoral college as it was first written into the U.S. Constitution.

There were two primary reasons for the electoral college.  The first was to ensure that only a qualified person becomes president (are you laughing yet?).  The framers of the Constitution believed that with the Electoral College no one would be able to manipulate the citizenry. It would act as check on an electorate that might be duped.  The founders did not trust the population to make the right choice. The founders also believed that the Electoral College had the advantage of being a group that met only once and thus could not be manipulated over time by foreign governments or others.

The second reason for the electoral college system was to mitigate the disadvantage of states with smaller populations.  That, however, is rather a myth, as I will show in a bit.

Now, the majority in this country believe the electoral college has outlived its usefulness.  I have to agree … it is obvious that in the 2016 election it did the exact opposite of what it was intended to do and put the candidate who actually lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, or 2.1%, in office.  This was the least qualified candidate imaginable, yet he now sits in the Oval Office.  It is time for a change.

However, the only means to repeal or abolish the electoral college would require a constitutional amendment, which is not even remotely likely to happen at this point.  But … there is another option.

Contrary to popular belief, the Constitution does not mandate that the winner take all in each state … that was the decision of the individual states over the course of the 19th century.  A state can decide, as 12 states plus the District of Columbia have recently done, to essentially bypass the electoral college.  The states that have signed onto this plan, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, are …

  • District of Columbia – 3 electoral votes
  • Colorado – 9 electoral votes
  • Connecticut – 7 electoral votes
  • Hawaii – 4 electoral votes
  • Illinois – 20 electoral votes
  • Maryland – 10 electoral votes
  • Massachusetts – 11 electoral votes
  • New Jersey – 14 electoral votes
  • Washington – 12 electoral votes
  • Vermont – 3 electoral votes
  • California – 55 electoral votes
  • Rhode Island – 4 electoral votes
  • New York – 29 electoral votes

If enough states pass the bill to account for 270 electoral votes, the bill will become law of the land and as a result, would ensure that every vote will be equal throughout the U.S. and that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.  Not only would this bypass the electoral college, but would also make gerrymandering* pointless.  There are 8 additional states, totaling 72 more electoral votes, where the bill has passed one chamber of the state legislature.  If all 8 pass the bill and the governors sign it into law, added to the 181 electoral votes above, that accounts for a total of 253, a mere 17 short of the magic number.

Under the compact, states pledge to allocate all their electoral votes to the winner of the nationwide popular vote in presidential elections.  While this would not abolish the electoral college, it would guarantee that the candidate with the most popular votes would win the election.  Seems to me there can be no logical argument about that … it is as it should be.  We the People are supposed to elect a president, not the Republican Party nor the Democratic Party … We The People!

The argument against this compact mainly comes from the Republican Party, and their argument is that a popular vote system would encourage candidates to only campaign in the larger (population) states, and the smaller states would suffer.  The reality is that in 2016, two-thirds of the visits by both Clinton and Trump took place in just six states (Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan), and 94 percent of the visits went to just 12 states. Twenty-four states plus the District of Columbia got zero campaign visits.  Kind of puts that argument to rest, don’t you think?

I’ve put together a chart showing each state’s population and electoral votes (electoral votes, by the way, are equal to a state’s representation in Congress).

State Electoral Population # of people represented by each elector
Number of Electoral Votes % of Total Population % of Total
Alabama 9 1.67% 4,874,747 1.50%          541,639
Alaska 3 0.56% 739,795 0.23%          246,598
Arizona 11 2.04% 7,016,270 2.15%          637,843
Arkansas 6 1.12% 3,004,279 0.92%          500,713
California 55 10.22% 39,536,653 12.14%          718,848
Colorado 9 1.67% 5,607,154 1.72%          623,017
Connecticut 7 1.30% 3,588,184 1.10%          512,598
Delaware 3 0.56% 961,939 0.30%          320,646
District of Columbia 3 0.56% 702455 0.22%          234,152
Florida 29 5.39% 20,984,400 6.44%          723,600
Georgia 16 2.97% 10,429,379 3.20%          651,836
Hawaii 4 0.74% 1,427,538 0.44%          356,885
Idaho 4 0.74% 1,716,943 0.53%          429,236
Illinois 20 3.72% 12,802,023 3.93%          640,101
Indiana 11 2.04% 6,666,818 2.05%          606,074
Iowa 6 1.12% 3,145,711 0.97%          524,285
Kansas 6 1.12% 2,913,123 0.89%          485,521
Kentucky 8 1.49% 4,454,189 1.37%          556,774
Louisiana 8 1.49% 4,684,333 1.44%          585,542
Maine 4 0.74% 1,335,907 0.41%          333,977
Maryland 10 1.86% 6,052,177 1.86%          605,218
Massachusetts 11 2.04% 6,859,819 2.11%          623,620
Michigan 16 2.97% 9,962,311 3.06%          622,644
Minnesota 10 1.86% 5,576,606 1.71%          557,661
Mississippi 6 1.12% 2,984,100 0.92%          497,350
Missouri 10 1.86% 6,113,532 1.88%          611,353
Montana 3 0.56% 1,050,493 0.32%          350,164
Nebraska 5 0.93% 1,920,076 0.59%          384,015
Nevada 6 1.12% 2,998,039 0.92%          499,673
New Hampshire 4 0.74% 1,342,795 0.41%          335,699
New Jersey 14 2.60% 9,005,644 2.76%          643,260
New Mexico 5 0.93% 2,088,070 0.64%          417,614
New York 29 5.39% 19,849,399 6.09%          684,462
North Carolina 15 2.79% 10,273,419 3.15%          684,895
North Dakota 3 0.56% 755,393 0.23%          251,798
Ohio 18 3.35% 11,658,609 3.58%          647,701
Oklahoma 7 1.30% 3,930,864 1.21%          561,552
Oregon 7 1.30% 4,142,776 1.27%          591,825
Pennsylvania 20 3.72% 12,805,537 3.93%          640,277
Rhode Island 4 0.74% 1,059,639 0.33%          264,910
South Carolina 9 1.67% 5,024,369 1.54%          558,263
South Dakota 3 0.56% 869,666 0.27%          289,889
Tennessee 11 2.04% 6,715,984 2.06%          610,544
Texas 38 7.06% 28,304,596 8.69%          744,858
Utah 6 1.12% 3,101,833 0.95%          516,972
Vermont 3 0.56% 623,657 0.19%          207,886
Virginia 13 2.42% 8,470,020 2.60%          651,540
Washington 12 2.23% 7,405,743 2.27%          617,145
West Virginia 5 0.93% 1,815,857 0.56%          363,171
Wisconsin 10 1.86% 5,795,483 1.78%          579,548
Wyoming 3 0.56% 579,315 0.18%          193,105
Totals 538 100.00% 325,727,661 100.00% ————–

As you can see, the smaller states are better represented in the electoral college than the more populous ones.  Take a look, for example, at California, the most populous state, that gets only 1 electoral vote for every 718,848 people, versus the least populous state, Wyoming, with 1 electoral vote for every 193,105 people.  Something doesn’t seem quite fair here, don’t you think?

It is my belief that the electoral college has been proven not only unnecessary, but a direct impediment to a fair and honest democratic election.  Since at this juncture it is virtually impossible to pass an amendment to repeal it, the next best thing is to pass legislation to make certain that every vote counts equally.  I also think this might go a long way in overcoming voter apathy, one of the biggest stumbling blocks we have.  Let us hope that enough state legislatures and governors will see this as the best way and choose to do the right thing.

* This small graphic explains the effects of gerrymandered districts as well as any I have seen.gerrymandering

Still More Snarky Snippets …

Will there ever come a day that I can read a news story and not want to throw something?  I wonder.  I had a greater plan for today, but as you may have noticed, my plans often go awry.  Today, I slept too late to finish the post I started last night, so instead, I bring you more snarky snippets …


Abandoning ship?

Donna-BrazileDonna Brazile has long been associated with the fight for liberal causes.  And yet, this week Ms. Brazile joined none other than state television network, Fox ‘News’.  Why?  Brazile is far above the likes of Jeanine Pirro or Ann Coulter.  I first saw Ms. Brazile on This Week with George Stephanopoulos many, many years ago, and she impressed me with her intelligence, knowledge, her ability to speak well on nearly any topic and the warmth she projected.  So why would she align herself with a network known for its extremely right-leaning views, and outright conspiracy theories?

“I know I’m going to get criticized by my friends in the progressive movement for being on Fox News. My response is that, if we learned anything from the 2016 election, it is that we can’t have a country where we don’t talk to those who disagree with our political views. You can be darn sure that I’m still going to be me on Fox News.”

Hmmm … that almost makes sense.  We do have to talk to each other, to try to understand those on the “other side” of the aisle.  Perhaps this should be looked upon as an opportunity for Trump’s supporters to actually hear a reasoned voice, a logical opinion for a change.  I simply have no respect for Fox at this point, and do not trust them or their motives.  I will reserve judgment until we see the results.  Will Fox allow Ms. Brazile to “still be me”?  I have my doubts, but time will tell.


Score one for Planet Earth!

Judge-Rudolph-Contreras.jpgThumbs up for Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who ruled against the Trump administration and in favour of the environment.  Judge Contreras concluded that the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) “did not sufficiently consider climate change” when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state.

While the judge did not void the leases, what his decision does is to force the BLM to perform environmental impact studies on hundreds of projects currently under way in Wyoming.

The Interior Department began to take into account the climate impacts of federal oil, gas and coal leasing toward the end of President Obama’s second term, but Trump jettisoned those plans almost immediately after taking office.

No doubt Judge Contreras’ ruling will be appealed and will work its way up the judicial ladder, but it is a start … a step in the right direction.


Two peas in a pod …

two-peas-in-a-pod.pngYesterday, Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, visited Donald Trump in the White House.  Bolsonaro had nothing but the highest praise for our Idiot-in-Chief:

“It gives me great pleasure to be here in the United States, to take part in this visit, after decades on end of anti-U.S. presidents in Brazil. We will certainly work toward the benefit of our two nations. Just as [Trump] wants to have a ‘great’ America, I…also want to make sure we have a great Brazil. We have a great deal in common. I have been highly criticized because of this but I will not, of course, deny what I do think. … I’m willing to open my heart up to him and do whatever is to the benefit of both the Brazilian and the Americans.”

Pity the poor people of Brazil!  I cannot help but wonder if Bolsonaro’s election was bought and paid for by Putin, just as Trump’s was.

Bolsonaro-Trump.jpg

Two peas in a pod — Bolsonaro & Trump

Since Bolsonaro took office, police in Rio de Janeiro have averaged more than three killings a day, and residents have accused the police of brutality, including waging unauthorized sniper campaigns and firing indiscriminately from a helicopter.

Bolsonaro’s embrace of fiery populist rhetoric has also frequently boiled over to galvanize supporters into acts of violence, specifically targeted at opposition supporters and the media.  Sound familiar?  During the Brazilian election last November, the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism documented more than 140 cases of violence against reporters, mostly by Bolsonaro supporters.  Sound familiar?

On Monday night, Bolsonaro appeared on Fox ‘News’, and said …

“The vast majority of potential immigrants do not have good intentions.”

Sound familiar?

“Brazil and the United States stand side-by-side in their efforts to ensure liberties in respect to traditional family lifestyle, respect to God, our creator against gender ideology or politically correct attitude and against fake news.”

Sound familiar?  Pity the people of Brazil … and we of the United States.


And that, folks, is a wrap.  Have a great rest of the day!

♫ Only You ♫

I was chatting with a friend via email this evening, and he mentioned having smoke in his eyes.  Naturally, that put the old Platters’ song “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes” into my head, and I intended to play it tonight.  But … sigh … when I checked to make certain I hadn’t already played it, I found that sure enough … I had already played it, and only two months ago!  You would think my memory could hold data for a mere two months, wouldn’t you?  So, I settle on the next best thing, having now gotten the Platters stuck in my head, and I give you, Only You.  Well, okay, I must give credit where credit is due … it was the friend with the smoke in his eyes who suggested Only You.

There is some fun history behind this song.

The Platters first recorded the song for Federal Records on May 20, 1954, but the recording was not released, for reasons unbeknownst to moi. In 1955, after moving to Mercury Records, the band re-recorded the song (on April 26) and it scored a major hit when it was released in May.  Platters bass singer Herb Reed later recalled how the group hit upon its successful version:

“We tried it so many times, and it was terrible. One time we were rehearsing in the car … and the car jerked. Tony went ‘O-oHHHH-nly you.’ We laughed at first, but when he sang that song—that was the sign we had hit on something.”

This was the only Platters recording on which songwriter and manager Ram played the piano.  The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in its inaugural year of 1998.

Only You (And You Alone)
The Platers

Only you can make all this world seem right
Only you can make the darkness bright
Only you and you alone can thrill me like you do
And fill my heart with love for only you

Only you can make all this change in me
For it’s true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand I understand the magic that you do
You’re my dream come true, my one and only you

Only you can make this change in me
For it’s true, you are my destiny
When you hold my hand I understand the magic that you do
You’re my dream come true, my one and only you

Songwriters: Buck Ram / Ande Rand
Only You (And You Alone) lyrics © T.R.O. Inc.

Good People Doing Good Things — Austin Perine

I have vacillated over today’s ‘good people’ post, and I opted not to do the one I originally wrote. I feared it might stir controversy, and that is not what my good people posts are intended to do.  Right decision?  Wrong decision?  I don’t know, and you may yet see it here later this week, but for today I do have one awesome ‘good people’ to introduce you to!  It is a little good people with a huge heart!

Austin Perine of Birmingham, Alabama, is only four years old, but this little guy has won my heart!  He knows, better than most adults, I think, the value of helping others.  What were you doing when you were four-years old?  The entire focus of my life at 4 was my dog, Shadow.  I slept, played, and sucked my thumb at age 4, and that’s about all I can remember.  Austin, however, leads a much different life than many 4-year-olds, for he is helping feed the homeless!

Here’s how it all started, according to Austin’s father, TJ Perine …

“This whole thing started when we were sitting at home watching Animal Planet and a baby panda was abandoned by its mom. Just to give him an answer, I told Austin that the panda would be homeless. Then he asked, ‘Well, are people homeless?’ and I said yes. That sparked an idea for him to want to come and feed the homeless, so here we are just a few months later.”

A few days later, TJ took Austin to one of the city’s homeless shelters to give him an up-close-and-personal view of what it means to be homeless.  Not quite expecting Austin’s response …

“He said, ‘Can we feed them?’ I didn’t expect to feed homeless people that day. But when a 4-year-old asks you, what can you say?”

Austin-Perine-2So, they headed to Burger King and picked up a batch of chicken sandwiches. Austin agreed to use his allowance to buy food instead of a weekly toy.  And later, Austin told his parents he wanted to use all of his allowance from now on, plus any money they would spend to buy him a toy, to feed the homeless.  As word of his mission spread, Burger King offered to give Austin an ‘allowance’ of $1,000 per month for a year to help him achieve his goal.

Austin wears a superhero cape when he goes on his feeding outings with his father. At Linn Park recently, the little guy handed sandwiches and drinks to the homeless. Every time, he exclaimed, “Don’t forget to show love!”

Birmingham’s mayor, Randall Woodfin, calls him “the city’s ambassador” …

“It’s one of our younger generation that gets it and understands the importance of helping others. And it’s one that we all want to cherish and make of importance which is showing love.”

Austin-Perine-1Now, at age 4, Austin is definitely a ‘good people’, but Austin had some help, I do believe.  I think we should also shine a light on TJ for helping show Austin the way, for himself being possessed of a big heart.  Caught up in Austin’s enthusiasm, TJ started a GoFundMe called Show Love Fight Hunger, and he has plans to expand on Austin’s good works …

“We’ve gotten a lot of support from the country, and what we want to do is expand from more than just giving out sandwiches.”

His vision is to build a facility that addresses the many causes of homelessness.

“Mental illness, drug abuse, addiction, and things like that. Austin and I want to build a facility and get some specialists in there that can actually help these people get back into the workforce.”

I think that the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

A few of the homeless at Linn Park knew little Austin with his superhero cape, and exchanged hugs and fist bumps. Those who did not know him were flabbergasted. One homeless man said he’d never seen anything like this.  Austin explained how doing this makes him feel inside …

“When I feed the homeless it makes me really happy and I think what I do is very special. When I grow up I want to be president. My jobs when I become president would be to feed the homeless and to chase the bad guys out of schools.”

I don’t know about you all, but I really, really want this little guy to grow up to be president!!!

Now, Austin has one last good deed I want to share with you that has nothing to do with feeding the homeless.  Austin’s older brother, Taylor, 16, has severe autism.  Austin … well, check out the tweet for yourself …austin-tweet-e1553055948590.pngNow, isn’t that the pinnacle of brotherly love?  Big kudos to Austin Perine, his dad TJ, and also for Burger King and everyone else who has so generously helped Austin in his quest to be a good people and feed the homeless.  Here’s to the future President of the United States, Austin Perine!

Saudi Crown Prince MBS Cracked Down On Dissenters With Saudi Rapid Intervention Group

There are a few expressions that say the same thing: “If you lie down with dogs, you’ll get up with fleas”, and “You are judged by the company you keep”. Last October saw the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, an act ordered by Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Donald Trump has thrown his lot in with MBS, refuses to condemn the killing, and is considering selling nukes to Saudi Arabia. This, to me, makes a loud statement of where Trump’s loyalties lie. But there is more … much more … that has been happening in Saudi Arabia, and our friend Gronda brings us … the rest of the story. Thank you, Gronda, for this excellent piece and permission to share!

Gronda Morin

Image result for photos of JAMAL BIN KHASHOGGI JAMAL KHASHOGGI/ MBS

It turns out that the brutal dismemberment murder of the Washington Post journalist and US resident Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi embassy in Turkey, around October 2018 at the hands of  the Saudis led by its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmam (MBS), was not the first time that the Saudis had conducted this type of operation. It seems that ever since the Crown Prince Mohammed came into power sometime in late-2016-2017, as the heir apparent to its King,  that he increased the assignments of a “hit squad”—called the Saudi Rapid Intervention Group.

In short there was a major crackdown put into action around late 2016-2017 by the man known as MBS, which included the surveillance, kidnapping, detention/ imprisonment, torture and killing of Saudi dissenters. These operations were conducted under the auspices and orders of the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. So, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi was…

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♫ Crazy For You ♫

I am not and never have been a Madonna fan.  However, she has done a few songs that I like, and Crazy for You happens to be one of them.  A few minutes ago, I was folding towels and this one just popped into my head and refused to leave.  Well, you know what I do when that happens, right?  I bring the song to you guys and plant it in your heads so that I can sleep in peace tonight!

This song, released in March 1985, was written by John Bettis and Jon Lind.  It is from the soundtrack album to the film Vision Quest, which I have neither seen nor heard of!  I am a cultural throwback, I do believe.  It earned Madonna her first Grammy Award nomination in the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance category in 1986. The song became Madonna’s second number-one single on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and reached the top position in the charts of Australia and Canada as well. It also peaked at number two in Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, where it was released twice, once in 1985 and again in 1991.

According to SongFacts …

This was recorded for the soundtrack to the wrestling film Vision Quest, which also featured a guest appearance by Madonna herself, who played a singer at a local restaurant. After the success of this song, the film was renamed Crazy For You in some European countries to capitalize on the song’s popularity.

Crazy for You
Madonna

Swaying room as the music starts
Strangers making the most of the dark
Two by two their bodies become one

I see you through the smokey air
Can’t you feel the weight of my stare
You’re so close but still a world away
What I’m dying to say, is that

I’m crazy for you
Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true
I never wanted anyone like this
It’s all brand new
You’ll feel it in my kiss
I’m crazy for you, crazy for you

Trying hard to control my heart
I walk over to where you are
Eye to eye we need no words at all

Slowly now we begin to move
Every breath I’m deeper into you
Soon we two are standing still in time
If you read my mind, you’ll see

I’m crazy for you
Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true
I never wanted anyone like this
It’s all brand new
You’ll feel it in my kiss
You’ll feel it in my kiss
Because I’m crazy for you
Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true
I never wanted anyone like this
It’s all brand new
You’ll feel it in my kiss
I’m crazy for you
Crazy for you
Crazy for you
Crazy for you

It’s all brand new, I’m crazy for you
And you know it’s true
I’m crazy, crazy for you
It’s all brand new, I’m crazy for you
And you know it’s true
Yeah, I’m crazy for you
Crazy for you, baby

Songwriters: John Bettis / Jon Lind
Crazy for You lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Universal Music Publishing Group

White Fascism

Fascism is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultra-nationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.

White nationalism is a type of nationalism or pan-nationalism which espouses the belief that white people are a race and seeks to develop and maintain a white national identity. Its proponents identify with and are attached to the concept of a white nation.

Of late, it’s been called ‘white nationalism’, and it is that, but it is so much more than that.  It truly is fascism, for it is supported by authoritarian dictators and wanna-be dictators, and it is spreading.  Donald Trump denies that it is a growing problem, and also that he has anything to do with it, but the truth is that he is the personification of white fascism.  Even the New Zealand mosque shooter, Brenton Tarrant, cited Trump as a part of his ‘inspiration’.

Let’s take a look at just two of the many manifestations of the ever-growing white fascist movement.

Corinne Terrone was a school teacher in the Hamden, Connecticut school district. Last Friday she was shopping with her two children at a ShopRite supermarket in East Haven.  There is a video recording of what transpired when she confronted an African-American couple who were also shopping for groceries.  I choose not to post the video here, for it is disgustingly vulgar, however here is a brief synopsis of what happened:corinne-terrone.jpgThe video begins with Terrone screaming, “…I will. Don’t you dare talk to me like that in front of my children motherfucker.” A few words are inaudible until she’s heard saying “they’re fucking ni**ers in East Haven, that’s why.”

The man to whom she was directing her rage can be seen heading toward Terrone as people he’s with hope to calm him down, saying, “Don’t do it.” But Terrone yells, “put your hands on me. Come on. Come on,” and then points her phone close to his face as if to record. Another man attempts to get between them when the first man pushed the phone out of her hand and walks away.

But Terrone hurries after him shouting, “Oh you motherfuc*er, you motherfuc*er. That’s why there’s ni**ers in East Haven.” And when a person who appears to be a store employee comes toward her Terrone yells: “Fu*k you, ni**er.”

Terrone comes at the couple and spits at them. Twice.

Keep in mind that Ms. Terrone was a school teacher who has a role in building ideas in the minds of our nation’s young people, our future.  Ms. Terrone is a white fascist.  The East Haven police department is considering criminal charges, but the victims of her attack have chosen not to come forward, at least for the moment.  The Hamden Superintendent of schools responded with a public statement condemning Ms. Terrone’s actions and notifying her that an investigation is pending.  Ms. Terrone thereby tendered her resignation.  The school superintendent also reported the incident to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families, since her two children were with her and were exposed to her horrid language and behaviour. The town’s mayor also issued a public statement condemning Ms. Terrone’s behaviour.

Just one woman, you say?  Just one incident?  No big deal?  According to the FBI, hate crime numbers jumped more than 17 percent in 2017, and that may be a low figure.  Now is it a bigger deal?  Consider the incident involving Jill Cronenberger who was eating at Tampico Mexican Restaurant in Parkersburg, West Virginia last month.  Cronenberger happened to overhear the restaurant’s owner, Sergio Budar, speaking Spanish.  Seems logical in a Mexican restaurant, owned by a Mexican-American man, yes?  But, apparently Cronenberger failed to see the logic and immediately lashed out at Mr. Budar.

“I lived in California for 20 years. English is our first language, so you need to speak English.  Get the fu*k out of my country.”

When Mr. Budar tried to reason with her, explained that he is a U.S. citizen, and even told her he was sorry she was upset, she came back with “Will you shut the fu*k up!”  Ms. Cronenberger is a white fascist.  The man who was with her merely hung his head and apologized for her behaviour, saying that she was “just a friend”.

Mr. Budar showed remarkable restraint and at the end of Cronenberger’s tirade, he simply said that he would pay for her meal and asked her to please leave.  And then …

“I got raped by illegal aliens and you want me to be nice to you? You’re a rapist. You’re rapists!”

Sound familiar?

trump-face“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” – Donald Trump, 16 June 2015

These are but two of hundreds of examples of this sort of behaviour in the past few months.  Friends, it almost feels as if we are living in the pre-civil rights days.  It almost feels as if we are living in Germany in the 1930s.  Now, I have been mocked for making Trump/Hitler comparisons, but I stand by my assessment.  We have a demagogic person at the helm who is a white fascist, who has denigrated quite literally people of every other ethnicity or religion in the nation.  He has taken upon himself power that was never intended for the president.  He has bypassed Congress and made a shamble of the system of checks and balances.  He has locked Hispanic children in cages, far away from their parents.  How many steps are there between a ‘detention camp’ and a ‘concentration camp’? And worst of all, he has in essence said to those who feel ethnically superior, that it is “okay” to be a racist, that it is okay to hurt anybody who doesn’t fit the WASP mold.

There seem to be a hell of a lot of people in this world today who believe they are better than others simply because they have pale skin, or because they claim to be “Christian”, or because they chose to love somebody of the opposite sex, or … you name it, there’s an ‘ism’ for it.  What makes these people tick, what makes them believe that they are superior?  I don’t know, but I do know that the leader of this nation is feeding them, encouraging them, and on his shoulders must lie a portion of the blame.  Donald Trump is not alone in his white fascist ways … there are many around the globe, and I would call most of the evangelical leaders in the U.S. white fascists, for they send the message of hate and supremacy, rather than the message of love and peace.

Hate crime is rising, not only in the U.S., but around the globe.  We simply must put a stop to it soon, else we will destroy ourselves.  We must carefully choose leaders who open their arms to people of every race, colour, religion, and gender.  We must choose leaders who will unite, not divide.  And we must choose leaders who are capable of moderate speech, who do not incite their citizens to violent acts.

Just a few … just a small group, says Trump.  Judge for yourself

Last Week Today

I was reminded that I didn’t do a post with ‘toons last week, so consider this to be last week’s post this week.  Rather like the title of John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight.  Much was in the news this week, but the cartoonists grabbed one topic as their central focus … the college admissions scandal.

collegecollege-1college-2Tom Toles Editorial Cartoon - tt_c_c190314.tifcollege-4college-5college-6college-7college-8college-9

Then there was Trump’s ludicrous budget proposal …

budgetbudget-2budget-3Federal budget

The tragedy of immigrant children, separated from their parents and kept in ‘detention centers’ …

immigrantimmigrant-2Bruce Plante Cartoon: DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen

And a few just about Trump and his circus act …

Reduced sentence

TrumpA Trump embraceTrump-3Trump-4Trump-5Wall

Have a great week!