To Laugh? Or To Cry?

I can honestly say I don’t know whether to laugh or cry over some of the latest news stories.  At first, I chuckle, maybe even let out a guffaw.  And then, I ponder … and soon the corners of my mouth turn downward as I growl.  A few examples …

In Iowa, the House Republicans have proposed new ‘restrictions’ on food stamps and what a person can purchase with them.  Mind you, food stamps are intended to help lower income people feed their families healthy meals so that they can survive, maybe even grow up healthy.  Among the restrictions are:

  • No white grains — people can only purchase 100% whole wheat bread, brown rice and 100% whole wheat pasta.
  • No baked, refried or chili beans — people can purchase black, red and pinto beans.
  • No fresh meats — people can purchase only canned products like canned tuna or canned salmon.
  • No sliced, cubed or crumbled cheese. No American cheese.

I fail to see the method to the madness here.  They cannot buy sliced cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches, but can buy unlimited amounts of unhealthy soft drinks?  I seriously doubt this proposal will get past first base, but then again … it’s Iowa … who knows?  The very fact that they want to place those in need under their thumbs is, in my book, unconscionable!

It appears that the U.S. Department of State, led by Antony Blinken, has its priorities lined up, and one of them is … wait for it … what font to use in its communications!  OH YES, be still my heart!  I’ve always hoped that someone would dedicate their life (and our tax dollars) to deciding on a universal font for public communications!  What, after all, could be more important than that???  (Sarcasm intended)  From an article in Politico

Earlier this week, a memo from Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN directed all department personnel in the agency’s Foggy Bottom headquarters and posts around the world to use Calibri, a large sans-serif font, for all official documents. His deadline: Feb. 6.

“The Times (New Roman) are a-Changing,” the cable was titled.

The change, a spokesperson for the State Department said, was recommended by the secretary’s office of diversity and inclusion as a way to make the print easier to read for people who use screen readers or other assistive technologies. It grew out of the agency’s iCount campaign last year, an effort to create a more inclusive workplace for employees with disabilities.

It happens that my Word program is set for Calibri, for I do find Times Roman and other ‘serif’ fonts more difficult to read, but … does it really require a federal directive???

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is a racist.  Full stop.  He neither respects nor likes the Black people who comprise some 16% of the people in his state.  He has banned the teaching of Advanced Placement (AP) African-American history, a program that has been approved at the federal level by the U.S. Department of Education, and that will be taught in all other 49 states of the union.  Names like Harriet Tubman, Medgar Evers, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Rosa Parks and others may never be taught in Florida schools if DeSantis has his way. Their contributions to this nation were as important as those of any white people!  Maybe more so!  Floridians will be stupid in regards to the history … the factual history … of this nation because their parents kept voting for a racist.


DeSantis likes to throw around the word ‘woke’ as if it were some horrible thing to be.  Let me tell you something, Ronnie … I am ‘woke’ and because I am woke, I go to bed every damned night with a clear conscience.  Because I care more about living beings – both human and otherwise – than I care about money and ‘things’, I am ‘woke’ and damned proud to be so!  I don’t know how DeSantis and his ilk can even look at their own face in the mirror without cringing.

Okay … enough of my grousing … go enjoy the rest of your weekend!

The Dark Road Ahead: The Future of U.S.-Iranian Relations

A few days ago, I re-blogged a post by new blogging friend Quentin over at WeTheCommoners.  The post detailed the history of U.S.-Iranian relations and provided a timeline of how we got where we are today.  At time, I asked Quentin if he might consider a follow-up giving his assessment of where we go from here, where he sees the relationship heading over the coming years/decades.  This post is a result of that conversation, and I think you’ll find that Quentin has a good understanding of the relationship between the two countries and has provided a thought-provoking assessment.  Thank you, Quentin, both for this post and your permission to share it!

The Dark Road Ahead: The Future of U.S.-Iranian Relations

By Quentin Choy

July 30, 2021

One of my most popular posts “How We Got Here: An Illustrated Timeline of U.S.-Iranian Relations” went over the last couple of decades of U.S.-Iranian relations. The illustrated timeline showed the events that deteriorated relations to the poor point at which they now stand.

In this post, I’ll discuss what I believe the future will look like for U.S.-Iranian relations based off of current political and diplomatic trends.

Continued U.S. Escalation Through Rhetoric and Sanctions

The U.S. and Iran have engaged with one another in a tit-for-tat fashion over the last few decades, with the C.I.A. coup in 1953 and subsequent Iranian Revolution in 1979 serving as catalysts toward disaster. The kidnapping of American hostages in the Tehran embassy will always serve as a hot point between the two nations as well.

The return of American hostages from Iran.

Following attempts to restrict Iranian access to nuclear weapons through the Iran nuclear deal, the United States withdrew from the deal in 2018 with then-president Donald Trump citing that the deal wouldn’t sufficiently ensure that Iran would not gain access to nuclear weapons.

The United States has placed sanctions on Iran for decades, and those sanctions continue on to the present day.

… Read more of this post

Ponder On This …

Robert Reich’s opinion piece in The Guardian today is especially relevant … he covers a number of topics, all of which point in the same direction … the destruction of the democratic principles that were once the foundation of this nation.

Republicans have taken up the politics of bigotry, putting US democracy at risk

Robert Reich-4Robert Reich

There is no ‘surge’ of migrants at the border and there is no huge voter fraud problem – there is only hard-right attack

Republicans are outraged – outraged! – at the surge of migrants at the southern border. The House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, declares it a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration”. The Arizona congressman Andy Biggs claims, “we go through some periods where we have these surges, but right now is probably the most dramatic that I’ve seen at the border in my lifetime.”

Donald Trump demands the Biden administration “immediately complete the wall, which can be done in a matter of weeks – they should never have stopped it. They are causing death and human tragedy.”

“Our country is being destroyed!” he adds.

In fact, there’s no surge of migrants at the border.

US Customs and Border Protection apprehended 28% more migrants from January to February this year than in previous months. But this was largely seasonal. Two years ago, apprehensions increased 31% during the same period. Three years ago, it was about 25% from February to March. Migrants start coming when winter ends and the weather gets a bit warmer, then stop coming in the hotter summer months when the desert is deadly.

To be sure, there is a humanitarian crisis of children detained in overcrowded border facilities. And an even worse humanitarian tragedy in the violence and political oppression in Central America, worsened by US policies over the years, that drives migration in the first place.

But the “surge” has been fabricated by Republicans in order to stoke fear – and, not incidentally, to justify changes in laws they say are necessary to prevent non-citizens from voting.

Republicans continue to allege – without proof – that the 2020 election was rife with fraudulent ballots, many from undocumented migrants. Over the past six weeks they’ve introduced 250 bills in 43 states designed to make it harder for people to vote – especially the young, the poor, Black people and Hispanic Americans, all of whom are likely to vote for Democrats – by eliminating mail-in ballots, reducing times for voting, decreasing the number of drop-off boxes, demanding proof of citizenship, even making it a crime to give water to people waiting in line to vote.

To stop this, Democrats are trying to enact a sweeping voting rights bill, the For the People Act, which protects voting, ends partisan gerrymandering and keeps dark money out of elections. It passed the House but Republicans in the Senate are fighting it with more lies.

On Wednesday, the Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz falsely claimed the new bill would register millions of undocumented migrants to vote and accused Democrats of wanting the most violent criminals to cast ballots too.

The core message of the Republican party now consists of lies about a “crisis” of violent migrants crossing the border, lies that they’re voting illegally, and blatantly anti-democratic demands voting be restricted to counter it.

The party that once championed lower taxes, smaller government, states’ rights and a strong national defense now has more in common with anti-democratic regimes and racist-nationalist political movements around the world than with America’s avowed ideals of democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Donald Trump isn’t single-handedly responsible for this, but he demonstrated to the GOP the political potency of bigotry and the GOP has taken him up on it.

This transformation in one of America’s two eminent political parties has shocking implications, not just for the future of American democracy but for the future of democracy everywhere.

“I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy?” Joe Biden opined at his news conference on Thursday.

In his maiden speech at the state department on 4 March, Antony Blinken conceded that the erosion of democracy around the world is “also happening here in the United States”.

The secretary of state didn’t explicitly talk about the Republican party, but there was no mistaking his subject.

“When democracies are weak … they become more vulnerable to extremist movements from the inside and to interference from the outside,” he warned.

People around the world witnessing the fragility of American democracy “want to see whether our democracy is resilient, whether we can rise to the challenge here at home. That will be the foundation for our legitimacy in defending democracy around the world for years to come.”

That resilience and legitimacy will depend in large part on whether Republicans or Democrats prevail on voting rights.

Not since the years leading up to the civil war has the clash between the nation’s two major parties so clearly defined the core challenge facing American democracy.

Mostly Positive With Just A Bit Of Snark

One of the most devastating things we lost under the previous administration was our standing in the global community.  We lost much ground, lost the respect of the world, became first the laughingstock of the world, and later the least trusted nation among our allies.  President Biden said he would make it one of his top priorities to rejoin agreements we had let lapse, and to work with our allies to become a team player once again, rather than a nation that isolates itself from the rest of the world.  After 30 days in office, progress is already being made.

Coming back into the world …

Today is a red-letter day for the United States, hopefully only the first of many.  The U.S. has officially re-joined the Paris Climate Accord!  Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement saying …

“The Paris Agreement is an unprecedented framework for global action. We know because we helped design it and make it a reality. Its purpose is both simple and expansive: to help us all avoid catastrophic planetary warming and to build resilience around the world to the impacts from climate change we already see.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. promised to reduce its carbon emissions by about 25% by 2025 compared with 2005 levels. But according to analysts, the country is only on track to achieve about a 17% reduction, largely due to the rollback of numerous environmental regulations that took place under the previous administration.  Can we catch up?  Well, the lives of future generations around the globe depend on it, so we damn well better.

No other country has emitted more cumulative carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the industrial era began in the mid-1800s than the United States. And even though U.S. emissions are falling, the rate of the reduction is far too slow to avoid catastrophic warming, according to climate scientists.

President Biden has also assured world leaders, during a virtual address to the Munich Security Conference this morning, of the U.S. commitment to NATO.

“The United States is fully committed to our NATO alliance, and I welcome your growing investment in the military capabilities that enable our shared defenses. An attack on one is an attack on all. That is our unshakeable vow.”

And earlier, during a virtual G7 meeting, Biden also sought to assure world leaders that he and his administration are committed to once again being an ally, rather than an enemy …

“I know the past few years have strained and tested our transatlantic relationship, but the United States is determined – determined – to re-engage with Europe, to consult with you, to earn back our position of trusted leadership.”

Now, I know that these words must be followed up with actions that prove the intent.  I also know that the damage done over the past four years will not be undone overnight.  There will long be a mistrust among our allies, and for a long time, they will wonder if the people of this nation will be so foolish as to bring back another administration such as the previous one.  It may take decades before the trust is fully restored, but we are on the right path.

And just a bit of snark …

And lest you think that today I have only positive news without a bit of snark …

I strongly suspect that two new members of Congress will be single-term congresswomen, for they are more suited to a position in the circus than in Congress.  The two, of course, are Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.  The latest?

During a virtual House committee hearing yesterday, Ms. Boebert logged in remotely with an arsenal as her backdrop.


The freshman lawmaker and gun-rights advocate, who owns a gun-themed restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, had two AR-15-style rifles arranged like an X on a shelf behind her head and another large firearm lying across books on the shelf below. There was also a handgun.

Representative Jared Huffman of California rightly took umbrage, saying …

“If somebody wants to have a shrine to their gun fetish as a Zoom backdrop in their private life, they can do that. But this is our hearing room, and at some point we will get past the covid epidemic and we’ll all start showing up in person. It’s necessary that we lay down these ground rules that whatever your fetishes or feelings are about guns, you’re not going to bring them into our committee room.”

Boebert whined that he was infringing on her ‘constitutional rights’.

There has been an ongoing debate recently about whether guns should be allowed into committee rooms.  My question is:  WHY???  Why should guns be brought into committee rooms or anywhere else in Congress?  Don’t we have enough violence in this world?  Ms. Boebert herself further proved my point when she said …

“Who says this is storage? These are ready for use.”

Has sanity left the room?