Say WHAT???

My inbox this morning contained the latest column by one of my favourite journalists, Nicholas Kristof.  As I read his column, I was torn between rage and tears, disbelief and horror.  I present portions of that column, but you can read the entire column here

A Good Samaritan and the Border Patrol

A motorist may have saved a life when she stopped to help three desperate young adults. Then she was arrested.

Nicholas Kristof

By Nicholas Kristof

Opinion Columnist

The path to Teresa L. Todd’s arrest began when three desperate Central American migrants waved frantically at her car on a Texas highway one night in February.

At least one other car had hurtled by, afraid to stop. But for Todd, compassion overrode any fear. “I’m a mom,” explained Todd, who has two boys, ages 15 and 17. “And I see a young man who looked the same age and size as my younger son. And if my son was by the side of the road, I would want someone to help.”

Todd, a single mom who works as a lawyer for a city and county in West Texas, found three siblings: two brothers ages 20 and 22 and their sister, Esmeralda, 18. To escape violence, they fled their native El Salvador years ago and recently Guatemala, where friends were murdered and a gang leader wanted to make Esmeralda his “girlfriend.”

Teresa L. Todd was detained by Border Patrol agents after stopping her car to help a group of migrants in Texas. CreditJessica Lutz for The New York Times

Esmeralda was suffering from starvation, dehydration and a potentially fatal syndrome called rhabdomyolysis that can lead to kidney failure. Seeing that Esmeralda was very sick, Todd invited the migrants into her car to warm up, and she began frantically texting friends (including one who is a lawyer for the Border Patrol) for advice about getting Esmeralda medical attention.

A sheriff’s deputy pulled up behind Todd’s car, lights flashing, and a Border Patrol officer arrived shortly afterward. The officers detained Todd for three hours, confiscating her possessions and keeping her in a holding cell.

By stopping to help a stranger, Todd may have saved a life — but this also got her arrested.

“It was totally surreal,” Todd recalled. “Especially for doing what my parents taught me was right, and what I learned in church was right, which was helping people. So finding myself in a holding cell for that, it was hard to wrap my head around.”

Esmeralda was hospitalized for four days, and she and her siblings are now in ICE custody. Todd has not been charged with a crime so far, but the authorities seem to have been considering a federal indictment. I reached out to federal and local officials for comment; they did not respond.

Todd told me that she has no regrets. “I think it’s the right thing to help those in need,” she explained. “That’s what I learned from my parents. That’s what I learned in church.”

“This is all about trying to chill the willingness of people to help others,” Todd said. “A friend told me, ‘The other day, someone tried to flag me down by the side of the road and waved an empty water bottle, and I thought about what happened to you and didn’t stop.’”

Referring to Trump, Michele Bachmann, the former Republican congresswoman, recently said, “We will in all likelihood never see a more godly, biblical president again in our lifetimes.”

I thanked Todd for her humanity, and for helping save a life. She said her assistance had been instinctive.

“I’m simply a mom who saw a child in need and pulled over to try to help,” she said. “The whole time I was by the side of the road, I was thinking: What country am I in? This is not the United States.”

Image may contain: 1 person, crowd and outdoor

♫ Blue Eyes ♫

I’m in an Elton sort of mood tonight, and this is one that I haven’t yet played.  Why am I in an Elton sort of mood?  Because I just finished writing a rant-y sort of post that has left me agitated, because I’ve lost the little rubber tip to my cigarette rolling machine, because the a/c still isn’t fixed, because I washed windows today and they don’t look much better than they did before I washed them, and most of all, I think, because I’m tired and frustrated.  A few people can relieve all those symptoms, and Elton is one such.

Released in 1982, both as a single and on the album Jump Up!, it hit #8 in the UK and #10 in the U.S. and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1983.  The music and lyrics were written by Elton and Gary Osborne, but there really isn’t much trivia that I could find about the song.  The video you are about to see was filmed in Australia, on Sydney’s famous Bondi to Bronte walk.  So, grab a cracker and some peanut butter and just listen …

Blue Eyes
Elton John

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a deep blue sea
On a blue blue day

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
When the morning comes
I’ll be far away
And I say

Blue eyes holding back the tears
Holding back the pain
Baby’s got blue eyes
And she’s alone
Again

Blue eyes
Baby’s got blue eyes
Like a clear blue sky
Watching over me

Blue eyes
Ooh I love blue eyes
When I’m by her side
Where I long to be
I will see

Blue eyes laughing in the sun
Laughing in the rain
Baby’s got blue eyes
And I am home, and I am home again

Blue eyes laughing in the sun
Laughing in the rain
Baby’s got blue eyes
And I am home again

Songwriters: Elton John, Gary Osborne
Blue Eyes lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

OH FOR PETE’S SAKE!!!

Ever notice how sometimes a headline catches your eye and your jaw immediately drops to the ground?  The lunacy, the utter ignorance and stupidity of the human race never ceases to astound me.  A couple of things brought about this head-shaking, eye-rolling, jaw-dropping reaction from me today.  The first …


Proposed Fur Ban in New York Pits Animal Rights Advocates Against Black Ministers

New York City is currently considering a proposal to ban the sale of animal fur.  For the record, and in case there was any doubt, I fully support this proposal!  If nobody can sell the fur, fewer animals will have to die.  Most of you already know that I like animals better than I like people, for the most part.  So, where’s the controversy?

Black ministers have protested the proposed ban on the steps of City Hall, saying that furs are a treasured part of African-American tradition and culture. Hasidic rabbis point to their own tradition of many Hasidic men wearing fur hats on the Sabbath. And fur shop owners and garment manufacturers have raised alarms over the potential loss of jobs and an attack on an industry that has a centuries-rich tradition in New York.

So, let me get this straight … we should encourage the wanton killing of beautiful animals so that fur shop owners can continue to make a profit, so that Hasidic rabbis can buy new fur hats when they wish (take care of the one you have, or wear faux fur!) and so that African-Americans don’t have to be deprived of cultural frou-frous?  Um … probably half of my friends are African-American and I don’t know a single one who actually owns a fur garment.

I can only imagine what the hunters and the NRA will have to say once they hear about this proposal and respond!  Have I mentioned that people are selfish, arrogant and ignorant?


Pat Robertson: God Will Destroy America if Pro-LGBTQ Rights Bill Passes

Well, Pat, you know what?  That’s fine by me, for I don’t think a nation that discriminates against people on any superficial basis should exist, and I damn sure don’t want to live in such a narrow-minded, bigoted nation.

“They always give good names to these things. This is a devastating blow to religious freedom and to the sanctity of America. If you want to bring the judgment of God on this nation, you just keep this stuff up. I was reading in Leviticus where it says because of these things the land ‘will vomit you out.’ Vomit you out. I think God will say, ‘I’ve had it with America if you do this kind of stuff, I’m going to get rid of you as a nation.'”

Pat RobertsonWhat an arrogant, narrow-minded, nasty prick!  Sorry … I try not to be vulgar here, but this ‘person’ has ruffled my feathers and I’m not biting my tongue on this one.

The Equality Act is a bill that would modify existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people in employment, housing, public accommodations, jury service, education, federal programs and credit.  Now would somebody please explain to me just what has Mr. Robertson’s knickers in a wad?  Remember when we had to pass legislation to ensure these very same rights to African-Americans?  It was called the Civil Rights Act.  Why do we keep having to legislate common sense?  Why???  Because of people like Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham who think that their religious beliefs give them the right to take away fair treatment for those of us who do not share their beliefs.

The bill’s sponsor is David Cicilline, a democrat from Rhode Island, who says …

“In most states in this country, a gay couple can be married on Saturday, post their wedding photos to Instagram on Sunday, and lose their jobs or get kicked out of their apartments on Monday just because of who they are.”

Even though the bill is all but guaranteed to pass in the House, it’s fate in the Senate is less certain, and Trump is almost certain to veto it, as he has expressed his opposition already.

Sigh.


Conservative Radio Station Plans To Rebrand As ‘Trump FM’

Yep, you read it right, folks.  And this one isn’t even down in Trump country!  A far-right conservative radio station in Connecticut plans to temporarily rebrand itself as “Trump 103.3” when it converts from an AM station to an FM one.  Like Trump needs his ego stroked even more???

Trump-103The station hosts a number of far-right-wing syndicated programs, including Bill O’Reilly, the NRA’s Dana Loesch, Michael Savage, and the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro.  Full Power Radio, which owns the station, said the goal is to “unite conservatives in Connecticut” and make the state a conservative, Republican-led one.  NOOOOOOOO … we don’t need any more of those!!!  What have these people been smoking???

“There is a real hunger for the truth and ‘Trump 103.3’ will report and uncover statewide waste and corruption that conventional media are afraid to touch.”

Truth???  Oh the irony!


Well, folks, that’s it for now … I’ve got work to do … be back later!

On Stripping The Rights Of Women …

Today I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial, to say the least:  abortion.

A number of states, the most recent being Alabama, have recently passed highly restrictive and misogynistic abortion laws.  Anti-abortion evangelicals are patting themselves on the backs thinking, no doubt, that they have once again proven themselves the rulers over women’s bodies.  But make no mistake … these laws are only a tool.  The legislators and governors who have passed these laws are well aware that they don’t hold water, for when there is a conflict between federal and state law, federal law trumps state laws, no pun intended.

The federal law on abortion was established in 1973 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v Wade in which the Court ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.  It is not within the rights of the State of Alabama or the State of Georgia to change, ignore, or override that ruling.  Period.

So … why are they passing these ‘illegal laws’, you might ask.  Because … long story short, they are hoping for a lawsuit against them that will reach the Supreme Court.  And when it does, they are hoping, believing, that the Supreme Court will then use that lawsuit as a basis to overturn Roe v Wade.

One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises that gained him a large number of followers was that he would put justices on the Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v Wade.  It is an emotional issue that gained him the support of the evangelicals.  However, the Supreme Court cannot simply say, “Let’s overturn a decades-old decision because the president would like us to.”  A case must come before them that challenges that decision before they can take it under advisement.

You might notice that the states did not pass these dranconian abortion laws when President Barack Obama was in office and the Supreme Court was still largely apolitical.  You’ll also notice that Trump was in such a hurry to appoint a second justice to the Court that he had a quiet little talk with Justice Kennedy, and shortly thereafter Justice Kennedy announced his imminent retirement.  And you’ll further notice that there was a mad dash by Trump and his boot-licking Senate to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, thereby giving the court a 5-4 right-wing, conservative majority, despite the fact that the Court is intended to be apolitical.

The stage is set … now the states who have passed these anti-abortion laws that rob women of their rights to have control over their own bodies will sit back and wait for the inevitable lawsuits claiming, rightly, that the states have no right to restrict a woman’s right of choice.  Then will begin the inevitable back and forth through the courts until sometime next year, perhaps even sooner, the cases will reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump is relying on the five conservative justices to vote in favour of overturning Roe v Wade.  Those justices are:

  • Clarence Thomas
  • Samuel Alito
  • John Roberts (Chief Justice)
  • Neil Gorsuch
  • Brett Kavanuagh

Justice Steven Breyer warned in a dissent to another decision earlier this week …

“Overruling a case always requires special justification. I understand that, because opportunities to correct old errors are rare, judges may be tempted to seize every opportunity to overrule cases they believe to have been wrongly decided. But the law can retain the necessary stability only if this court resists that temptation, overruling prior precedent only when the circumstances demand it.”

The Alabama bill, which has been passed by the state legislature and is expected to be signed into ‘law’ by Governor Kay Ivey, bans abortions at every stage of pregnancy and criminalizes the procedure for doctors, who could be charged with felonies and face up to 99 years in prison.  The Georgia bill, recently passed and signed by Governor Brian Kemp (remember him … the guy with the gun pointed at his daughter’s boyfriend?), is only slightly less restrictive, banning abortion after about 6 weeks, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

Those who are so dead-set against a woman’s right of choice, call themselves “pro-life”, but this is a misnomer, as I have noted before.  They are often the same people who support the death penalty.  They are often the people who protest their tax dollars going to help feed and clothe the poor.  Many are the same ones who fought so hard against ACA, which provided affordable healthcare to those who would not otherwise have any.  Pro-life?  No, only anti-women’s rights.

If people are so against abortion, doesn’t it make sense to support such things as birth control, family planning and counseling, and other measures to prevent unwanted pregnancies?  But no, the evangelicals are against all of those, too.  They support de-funding such organizations as Planned Parenthood who help with all women’s health issues, and they argue against company-sponsored health insurance plans covering birth control.  Sorry, folks, you cannot have it both ways!

Thus far through the years, state laws attempting to restrict abortion have all been struck down by the Supreme Court as being unconstitutional.  Will that precedent hold?  I cannot say for sure, but I’m less confident now than I would have been two years ago.  More than 60% of the people in this nation support a woman’s right of choice, but these days it seems that the minority is the only voice that is heard.  If the Supreme Court ultimately overturns Roe v Wade, it will be a slap in the face to every woman in the U.S.  What will be next?  Will they take away our right to own property?  Our right to vote?  Think about it.

♫ My Way ♫ … Annnnnnnd …

Okay, so … on Monday, I was taken to task for failing to commemorate the 69th birthday of one of my faves, Stevie Wonder.  It was subtly suggested, by our dear friend Ellen, that I might be forgiven if I played a nice Happy Birthday tribute a day late.  Which is what I did … a lovely tribute to Mr. Wonder, if I say so myself.  And Ellen did commend me, but at the same time noted rather pointedly that I managed to miss the 21st anniversary of the death of Frank Sinatra!  Oy Vey!  I am naught but a feeble-minded old woman and can barely remember that my name is … um … well, that’s not important now.

Ellen correctly noted that I have never played a Sinatra song here, and the reason is that I thought perhaps he wouldn’t have a mass appeal, though I grew up on Sinatra and like his voice and much of his music just fine.  At any rate, the suggestion was to play his iconic song, My Way, as a tribute to Ol’ Blue Eyes.  I debated, for I was rather more inclined to play New York, New York.  And finally, I threw up my hands and said “What the heck … I shall offer them both”.  Since the lyrics are on-screen with the first video, I present only the lyrics to accompany the second.

The lyrics to My Way, released by Sinatra in 1969, were written by Paul Anka and set to the music of the French song Comme d’habitude co-composed and co-written (with Jacques Revaux), and performed in 1967 by Claude François. Anka’s English lyrics are unrelated to the original French song. The song was a success for a variety of performers including Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Sid Vicious. Sinatra’s version spent 75 weeks in the UK Top 40, a record which still stands.

Paul Anka heard the original 1967 French pop song, Comme d’habitude (translation: As Usual) performed by Claude François, while on holiday in the south of France. He flew to Paris to negotiate the rights to the song. In a 2007 interview, he said, “I thought it was a shitty record, but there was something in it.” He acquired adaptation, recording, and publishing rights for the mere sum of one dollar, subject to the provision that the melody’s composers would retain their original share of royalty rights with respect to whatever versions Anka or his designates created or produced. Some time later, Anka had a dinner in Florida with Frank Sinatra and “a couple of Mob guys” during which Sinatra said “I’m quitting the business. I’m sick of it; I’m getting the hell out.”

Anka went back to New York and re-wrote the song for Sinatra …

“At one o’clock in the morning, I sat down at an old IBM electric typewriter and said, ‘If Frank were writing this, what would he say?’ And I started, metaphorically, ‘And now the end is near.’ I read a lot of periodicals, and I noticed everything was ‘my this’ and ‘my that’. We were in the ‘me generation’ and Frank became the guy for me to use to say that. I used words I would never use: ‘I ate it up and spit it out.’ But that’s the way he talked. I used to be around steam rooms with the Rat Pack guys – they liked to talk like Mob guys, even though they would have been scared of their own shadows.”

Anka finished the song at 5:00 in the morning, called Sinatra who was performing in Vegas, and the rest is history.

Frank Sinatra died on May 14, 1998, at the age of 82, after a heart attack.  The next night, the lights on the Empire State Building in New York City were turned blue, the lights at the Las Vegas Strip were dimmed in his honor, and the casinos stopped spinning for one minute.  Wow … now that’s a tribute!

New York, New York
Frank Sinatra

Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today
I want to be a part of it
New York, New York
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it
New York, New York

I wanna to wake up, in a city that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill
Top of the heap

These little town blues
Are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it
In old New York
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York, New York

New York, New York
I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps
And find I’m a number one, top of the list
King of the hill, a number one

These little town blues, are melting away
I’m gonna make a brand new start of it
In old New York
And
If I can make it there
I’m gonna make it anywhere
It’s up to you, New York
New York
New York

Songwriters: Fred Ebb / John Kander
New York, New York lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

Good People Doing Good Things — Two Restaurateurs

It is so easy to overlook the people in this world who are quietly going about the business of being humanitarians in small ways.  Oh sure, we notice the ones like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates who are pledging to give 50% or more of their lifetime earnings to charitable causes, and don’t get me wrong … I applaud them for what they do.  But, they are noticed and given kudos, while the ones who do the small things like bring meals to homeless people, or rescue an animal are largely overlooked.  In these Wednesday morning posts, I try to mix it up and present a few of those doing big things, but also those who are flying under the radar, so to speak.  This morning, I would like to introduce you to two restaurant owners who are making a difference in people’s lives.


Juan Carlos Beristain is the owner of JC’s Café in Cary, Illinois.  Although the café serves up desserts, coffee and all the other things you expect to find in such an establishment, his specialty is … soup.  Dozens of different varieties of soup are enjoyed by the café’s patrons.  But Mr. Beristain has another customer … one who cannot come to the Café.

Noah Dionesotes has multiple sclerosis and is undergoing chemotherapy.  Noah had been a regular in Mr. Beristain’s café, loved his soups, but is now unable to visit the café.  So, every week, sometimes several times a week, Juan Carlos Beristain loads up a number of containers of soup and delivers them to Noah Dionesotes’ home, free of charge.

“I really feel when other people are in pain. I felt that I could help him at least by delivering the soup that he likes, with the nutrition that is going to help him.”

For more than seven months, these special soup deliveries have provided more than just the nutrition that Noah needs to regain his strength. They’ve also led to a special bond between the two men. Noah described Juan Carlos as a warm, positive person who has become his best friend.

Juan-Noah

Noah and Juan

This, folks, is what it means to be human.  What Juan is doing is a small thing, sure, but how many people go through their entire lives without doing this much to help another?


Her name is Ruth, and she is a mere mortal, but to many she is an angel. Ruth Henricks is the owner of The Huddle restaurant in San Diego, California.  Her story begins back in 1989, during the height of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.  One of Ruth’s most frequent customers was a lanky young man named Scott, who came in for a meal every day.  As Ruth came to know Scott, he confided in her that he was dying of AIDS and that he had become too weak to cook for himself …

“When I come in, I’m greeted by everyone.  They know my name, and they pat me on the back and ask how it’s going today – no matter how I look.  I’m so grateful for you and the homecooked meals.  I depend on you for my meals, Ruth.  If I’m not at The Huddle, you’ll know I’m not eating.”

And, of course, the day came when Scott no longer came to The Huddle.  It was then that Ruth was talking to another customer, a doctor, about Scott, and the doc had a suggestion.  He said Ruth could put a note on the cash register, offering to deliver meals to people with AIDS.  She did, and the response was overwhelming.  Ultimately, Ruth, the doctor, and a group of supporters started a non-profit called Special Delivery San Diego.  Most of her original volunteers were her customers, and they started out delivering around 75 meals per day to AIDS patients.

Ruth-2

Ruth Henricks (center) and a few of the volunteers of Special Delivery

Eventually, Ruth and Special Delivery expanded their services to provide meals to people with other illnesses, including cancer, kidney disease and other debilitating, chronic diseases.  To-date, Special Delivery has served more than 6,000 people and prepared more than 1 million meals for them.

Clients are referred by social workers or doctors and receive three meals, five days a week. Many recipients are bedbound; some are living below the poverty line.  According to one of their meal recipients, Alden Steffens …

“I can’t cope on my own. I can’t cook. I’m just drained. I probably would be dead if it wasn’t for Special Delivery and the food.  It’s a joy every day when they ring the bell. It’s instant healing, even if you were sick five minutes before. They smile, and they treat you like a wonderful equal.”

In the early years, around 1993, one of the recipients of the Special Delivery meals was a young man named Rob.  Rob had served in the Navy in the early 1980s and when he later found he had AIDS, his family disowned him.  According to Ruth, “When we started feeding him, we became his family.”  When Rob died, Ruth discovered that Rob had left a $25,000 life insurance policy to Special Delivery to help keep the program going.

But Hendricks’ efforts don’t stop with only the food deliveries, for as she became more aware of her community, she began to see other needs.  She opened a food pantry, which now benefits roughly 800 families a month.  While running that pantry, Henricks found that many people had diabetes. So, she started a program tailored to their dietary needs, complete with a weekly nutrition class and free diabetic-friendly groceries.

Whew!  Did I mention that Ruth is 75 years of age?  Says Ruth …

ruth-1.jpg“I have been very fortunate to attract the most loving, caring, hardworking volunteers. We share each other’s joys, sorrows. We feel good about what we’re doing. And it is a family.  I have a few volunteers who are still with me from the day we started Special Delivery. And a lot of times I say, ‘Why do you keep coming back?’ And they say, ‘Well, we really believe in what we’ve created here.’

I’ve promised everyone that the diabetic program will be the last program, but I didn’t know there was going to be anything beyond the pantry, so we’ll see what comes. If we see some type of a food insecurity need in the community, we’re going to try and fix it. I can’t promise that everyone in San Diego will be able to eat tonight. But we’re going to try our best to feed the people in our corner of the world.”

I’ve got to give a two thumbs-up to Ruth and all her volunteers … 👍👍


I hope these stories helped to remind you that there are good people out there, silently operating behind the scenes to help others.  They don’t advertise, they don’t toot their own horns … they simply do.

How ‘Bout Some ‘Toons?

I think it’s about time to catch up on a few ‘toons, don’t you?  The political cartoons are one way of measuring which issues are on the minds of the people at any given time.  Today, one of the biggest issues is, not surprisingly, the trade war Trump has engaged in with China and the tariffs that are hurting We the People more than any.

tariffs-1tariffs-2tariffs-3tariffs-4tariffs-5


After the recent United Nations report showing that we are in danger of losing one million species from the planet due to our poor stewardship of the environment, climate change and environmental issues once again came to the forefront of everyone’s mind.

environment-1environment-2environment-3Threatened and endangered species


Congress subpoenaed Trump’s tax returns from the Department of Treasury, but of course Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is refusing to honour the subpoena.  Meanwhile, the New York Times released 10 years of Trump’s taxes from 1985 to 1994, showing that in that ten year period, he lost over $1.17 billion … naturally the cartoonists had a field day with that one, as did our friend Don Lemon!

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump the business manfinances-2finances-3


And, of course, we are still dealing with Trump’s blatant and now undeniable obstruction of justice.  The Mueller report cites no less than ten instances where Trump obstructed justice, and he is still doing it today by trying to shut down the congressional oversight committees that are trying to pick up where Mueller’s report left off and determine whether impeachment is the right path.  

criminals-2criminals-3criminals-4criminals-5obstruction-1obstruction-2obstruction-3obstruction-4


And just a few miscellaneous ‘toons to finish up …

generalking-trumptrump-tweet

♫ Happy Birthday ♫

Folks, I have been taken to task and even threatened with a big stick for missing the 69th birthday of one of my most favourite musicians, Stevie Wonder.  I’m sure you’ll never guess who it was that called me on the carpet for my perfidy and oversight, right?  😉

Today, we are all well aware that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday in January each year.  But, it wasn’t always so.  Some of my younger readers may not realize that MLK Day was only officially designated as a national holiday in 1983, only 36 years ago, when President Ronald Reagan signed it into law.  Jimmy Carter tried and failed to get congressional approval in 1979, and that is when Stevie Wonder took up the mantle.  He wrote, produced and sang Happy Birthday in 1981 as a tribute to Dr. King, and in an effort to stir national interest in creating a national holiday to honour him.

Stevie Wonder had a huge role in getting Martin Luther King day recognized as a national holiday in the U.S. He helped organize a rally in Washington on January 15, 1981 (King’s birthday), that was a key event in the movement. With the crowd chanting, “Martin Luther King Day, we took a holiday,” black leaders and celebrities appeared, and when Wonder spoke, he said:

“As an artist, my purpose is to communicate the message that can better improve the lives of all of us. I’d like to ask all of you just for one moment, if you will, to be silent and just to think and hear in your mind the voice of our Dr. Martin Luther King.”

A highlight of the rally was Wonder’s performance of this song, and over the next few years, Wonder continued his work to raise awareness of the movement and apply political pressure to get the holiday recognized. Another rally followed the next year, and on November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill. The holiday was first observed in 1986, but it took many more years before every state made it a full holiday complete with a paid day off for state workers. South Carolina was the last to do so, joining the other 49 states in 2000.

The first official Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held the third Monday in January of each year, was held on January 20, 1986, and was commemorated with a large-scale concert, where Stevie Wonder was the headlining performer.  This song was never released as a single in the U.S., but was featured on Wonder’s album, Hotter Than July, and the song charted at #2 in the UK.  In fact, Wonder also performed this song at the Diamond Jubilee Concert in London for the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.  He also performed it at Nelson Mandela Day at Radio City Music Hall on July 19, 2009.

Am I off the hook now, Ellen?  I still say you could give me some advance warning about these dates, for you know I cannot remember anything!  🙃

And now, I give you Mr. Stevie Wonder …

Happy Birthday
Stevie Wonder

You know it doesn’t make much sense
There ought to be a law against
Anyone who takes offense
At a day in your celebration cause we all know in our minds

That there ought to be a time
That we can set aside
To show just how much we love you

And I’m sure you would agree
It couldn’t fit more perfectly
Than to have a world party on the day you came to be

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

I just never understood
How a man who died for good
Could not have a day that would
Be set aside for his recognition

Because it should never be
Just because some cannot see
The dream as clear as he
That they should make it become an illusion

And we all know everything
That he stood for time will bring
For in peace our hearts will sing
Thanks to Martin Luther King

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Why has there never been a holiday
Where peace is celebrated
All throughout the world

The time is overdue
For people like me and you
Who know the way to truth
Is love and unity to all gods children

It should never be a great event
And the whole day should be spent
In full remembrance
Of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people

So let us all begin
We know that love can win
Let it out don’t hold it in
Sing it loud as you can

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday to you
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Ooh yeah

Happy Birthday…
We know the key to unify all people
Is in the dream that you had so long ago
That lives in all of the hearts of people

That believe in unity
Well make the dream become a reality
I know we will
Because our hearts tell us so

Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday
Happy Birthday…

Songwriters: WONDER STEVIE
Happy Birthday lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music Scandinavia AB, Black Bull Music, Fox Film Music Corporation, Agelong Music Publishing Inc., JOBETE MUSIC CO INC, BLACK BULL MUSIC INC, JOBETE MUSIC CO., INC., WB MUSIC CORP. O/B/O INC. SUMMY BIRCHARD, INC.

Snarky Snippets — Thriving On Chaos

Never before in the history of this nation has there been a more chaotic government, one that had so little clue what they were doing or what the ramifications of their actions would be.  It is truly as if 7-year-old children are the decision-makers in Washington today!

white-house-chaos.jpg


He wasn’t invited, but nonetheless, Mike Pompeo crashed the meeting.  A group of European foreign ministers were meeting in Brussels yesterday morning to work on how to best handle the situation with Iran that has turned into a mess, thanks to none other than Donald Trump.  The group did not grant Pompeo inclusion in their meeting, but several diplomats from the UK, France, Germany, and the EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, granted him private meetings.

The Europeans have all expressed fear not only about how Iran will behave, but equally about the aggression by the U.S.  British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said …

“We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident, with an escalation that is unintended really on either side. Most of all, we need to make sure we don’t end up putting Iran back on the path to re-nuclearization. Because if Iran becomes a nuclear power, its neighbors are likely to want to become nuclear powers. This is already the most unstable region in the world, and this would be a massive step in the wrong direction.”

Since Trump reneged on the Iran nuclear agreement a year ago, he has been taunting Iran, as well as our allies who are trying to hold the deal together without any assistance from the U.S.  Iran finally said, “Enough”, and is threatening to cancel the agreement and return to building its nuclear program.

Apparently little, if anything, was gained by the private meetings with Pompeo, as each side dug in, with Pompeo saying that the nuclear deal should be scrapped.  Apparently, he would like to have a reason to go to war with Iran?  Pompeo has enough foreign policy experience to understand that a war in the Middle East will involve many more nations than only Iran and is a no-win proposition that can only make matters worse in the area than they already are.  If, as I suspect, Trump is all too eager to try out his nuclear button … well, you know where I’m going with that.

Trump, Pompeo, and Bolton have put our allies in a tough spot and have increased tensions in the Middle East dramatically and dangerously.  Way to go, Donnie … what else do you plan to destroy?


The trade negotiations between the U.S. and China were reportedly going well and expected to wrap up within a matter of days.  But … sigh … Trump apparently never heard that old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.  He prefers to break that which isn’t broken, and that is precisely what he did last week.  He increased the tariffs on some $200 billion worth of goods the U.S. imports from China, causing China to retaliate and impose new tariffs on some $60 billion worth of goods they buy from us.

Remember how Trump has been bragging about that good economy (the one that was already doing very well when he inherited it)?  Well, guess what folks?  Based on the news of all these new tariffs being bandied about, the market took a bit of a nosedive.  Does this ‘man’ understand nothing???  No, Donnie, tariffs are not good, China isn’t the one paying for the tariffs that YOU imposed … WE are!  And NO, Donnie, trade wars are not easy to win!

Trump claimed his reason for increasing the tariffs was that China was reneging on certain concessions, but there is no evidence of that, and people who have long dealt with Trump in the world of real estate say that this is his modus operandi … he throws a fit over some imagined problem at the last minute, then attempts to bully his way into a better deal.  Trouble is … this isn’t a real estate deal and … our economy and our livelihoods are at risk here.  He is playing with the lives of real people.


I got through my first four years of college with the help of Pell Grants and by often working three jobs.  Pell Grants, for those who may not be familiar with them, are subsidies the U.S. federal government provides for students who need it to pay for college. Federal Pell Grants are limited to students with financial need, who have not earned their first bachelor’s degree.  I could not have gone to college had it not been for those Pell Grants.  Today, they are more important than ever, with the high cost of college.  But guess what?  Donald Trump has decided that playing with his space toys is more important than educating our youth.

Yesterday evening, Trump sent a budget amendment to Congress to take $1.9 billion from the Pell Grant program and give it, instead, to NASA “so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!” 

bullshit

Some spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) claims that it will not impact the Pell Grant program … I guess he must think we are all pretty damn stupid.

Trump has already proposed budget cuts for other student aid programs to the tune of $3.8 billion!  It would seem that his ultimate goal is to ensure that only the children of the wealthy can afford to attend college.  Picture the U.S. in 25 years.  Your children and grandchildren will be digging ditches, working in dead-end factory jobs, clerking at a grocery store or McDonald’s, while Betsy DeVos’ and Donald Trump’s grandchildren will be the corporate CEOs and will be the people running our government … if, in fact, there is still a government to run.


And now, I believe I have spent most of my snark, so I shall leave you to find a cheerier blog than mine to read for the rest of the morning.  But never fear, I shall return!

Just Two Thoughts …

It occurs to me that those of us writing political blogs covering U.S. politics and the regime of Donald Trump spend more time correcting misconceptions that he creates than we spend being proactive and creative.  But so be it … we cannot let the fool on the hill get by with lies that go unchecked and with tarnishing the reputations of good people.

Image result for don mcgahnThe latest, of course, is Don McGahn, former White House counsel.  According to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, McGahn testified under oath that Trump had given him a directive to order Rod Rosenstein, then-Deputy Attorney General, to fire Robert Mueller based on a ‘conflict of interest’ that did not, in fact, exist.  McGahn refused, and ultimately left Trump’s employ rather than break the law.

Naturally, Trump denied that he had told McGahn to fire Mueller …

“As has been incorrectly reported by the Fake News Media, I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller, even though I had the legal right to do so. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I didn’t need McGahn to do it, I could have done it myself.”

Ah yes, he could have, but that would have opened a can of worms and made him look even guiltier than he already did at that point.  Now really, folks, who are you going to believe … Trump who has told more than 10,000 documented lies since his inauguration, or McGahn who had the integrity to refuse an order and resign rather than break the law?

Then last month, the day after the redacted copy of the Mueller report was released to Congress and the public, Trump contacted McGahn and asked him to publicly declare that he doesn’t believe Trump obstructed justice.  McGahn refused Trump’s request.  Now if that doesn’t speak loud and clear that Trump is, to this day, obstructing justice, then I don’t know what it takes.  Are you listening, Mitchell McConnell??? 

Trump, needless to say, is in a state of rage …

“I was NOT going to fire Bob Mueller, and did not fire Bob Mueller. In fact, he was allowed to finish his Report with unprecedented help from the Trump Administration. Actually, lawyer Don McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller. Never a big fan!”

Image result for quotes about lies thomas jeffersonUnprecedented help from the administration?  I think not.  And if he wasn’t a fan of McGahn, why did he hire him in the first place?  More lies.  With apparently nothing better to do, Trump tweeted some 70 times on Saturday. Since he is so fond of giving everyone nicknames, I think his new moniker ought to be Tweety Twump.

McGahn is still, as of this writing, scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on May 21st, though Trump has ordered him not to.  I think that since McGahn is a private citizen, and since he has already testified before the Mueller team, that even Trump’s “executive privilege” cannot stop McGahn if he chooses to testify.  I hope that he will, I like and respect McGahn, however if he doesn’t, I hope that the committee will issue a warrant for his arrest for contempt of Congress.  Somewhere, somehow, Congress must find the chink in the armour and be allowed to do its job.


july-2The United States celebrates Independence Day on the 4th of July each year.  The celebration commemorates the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. The Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject and subordinate to the monarch of Britain and were now united, free, and independent states.  Of course, it would take a war to make the declaration reality, but this is the date that is remembered for its significance.  In recent decades, the holiday is, for many, not much more than an excuse to picnic or grill out, drink lots of beer, and watch fireworks after dark.  Nonetheless, there is symbolic meaning to the day.

One of the most prominent events takes place in Washington, D.C., which includes fireworks on the mall.  Correction … it did.  Until King Donald Trump decided to take over the celebration and make it all about himself, rather than the people who fought for this nation’s independence back while his own ancestors were still living in Germany.

Trump has decided to move the fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River (who said it was up to him???), but that isn’t even the worst of it.  He has decided to hold a bloomin’ campaign rally from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial!  What an irony!  The man who was known as ‘Honest Abe’ … being defaced and devalued by the most dishonest president in the history of the United States.  The man who fought to free the slaves and end bigotry being smeared by the one who is “Making America Racist Again”!

This is supposed to be the people’s celebration, not Donald Trump’s.  That’s okay, though, for just as I said last year, in my heart, there is nothing to celebrate this July 4th.  Frankly, in this, the year 2019, I wish we were still a subject of the Crown.  Queen Elizabeth is a much kinder, more intelligent leader than the one we have.