In The Words Of Dan Rather … A BFD!

On Tuesday, President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).  It wasn’t everything we had hoped for, as compromises had to be made in order to get West Virginia’s Joe Manchin on board, but it was, as Dan Rather tells us, a BFD … I’ll let Dan ‘splain that one!


A BFD

But Republicans fail the future (and the present)

Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

President Joe Biden has signed into law a bill that is, to quote former President Barack Obama, a “BFD.” In other words, a “big deal” with a colorful adjective sandwiched in between for emphasis. It was Obama’s way of paying homage to Biden’s whispered comment (caught on mic) from back in 2010 with the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  

With apologies to decorum, Obama’s summation is warranted.

The bill is called the Inflation Reduction Act, which most economists think is an accurate description. Inflation reduction is a worthy goal, but what is even more noteworthy — rising to the level of historic — is how the legislation intends to accomplish that feat. It is a compendium of long-desired action on the part of Democrats around health care costs, taxes, and climate change (representing the most ambitious climate measures ever enacted by Congress).

The details are varied and have been covered admirably in other publications. Were they everything that most Democrats sought? No. But they were significant. Once again, a BFD.

For the sake of this column, however, let us focus less on the policy than on the politics, and specifically the fact that this bill squeaked through on a purely party-line vote. All Democrats in the House and Senate voted “yea.” All Republicans who voted (four representatives did not) voted “nay.” All of them.

Perhaps we have become inured to this unblinking partisanship. Chalk it up to cynicism, to pure party politics, to the zero-sum game that seems to rule Washington, particularly from Republicans when Democrats are in the majority. Obstruct. Delay. Obfuscate. That is the playbook. But while extreme partisanship might explain the actions, it certainly does not excuse them.

This bill aimed to tackle tough challenges, particularly climate change. And on this issue in particular the politics of our time should not be measured in some temporal tally of wins and losses for congressional seats; this is about wins and losses for the habitability of our planet.

This isn’t about four-year election cycles. It is about epochs measured in millennia.

Those are the stakes. And on this score, most prominent Republican elected officials seem eager to deny reality. And the few who don’t fall into that camp are apparently satisfied with doing nothing.

There may not be a more serious yardstick by which to measure our political era than this failure. As we have often cautioned here, the future of American democracy is at risk these days. But, let us be clear, so is the future of planet Earth. Perhaps even more so.

When I tweeted the above, I expected to get a decent response; I never expected this level of engagement, but it makes sense. Unlike the politicians, according to polls, most Americans understand the peril and want action.

In this upside-down reality, questions emerge that demand answers and accountability:

  • How can a politician who doesn’t take climate change seriously be taken seriously?
  • How can someone who fails to protect our nation from the increasing threat of natural disasters be considered a voice to heed on national security?
  • How can someone who denies this reality be considered a credible judge of the truth?

This is not a debate about policy. “How should we tackle this existential threat?” is a legitimate question on which fair minds can disagree. Should it be tax cuts for business or government regulation? Or both? A carbon tax or subsidies for new technologies? Is nuclear energy a viable option? Should we invest more in electric cars or public transportation? Let’s have a vigorous debate. Go at it. There is no monopoly on wisdom. And the country needs a strong two-party system, with a Congress of conscience on both sides of the aisle, to have such debates.

But debate whether we should do ANYTHING??? Really????

(Perhaps from the all caps and the number of question marks you can sense my feelings.)

This bill was a major step forward on addressing climate change. It’s not nearly enough. But it is something. A lot. A BFD. So say the scientists. It’s a foundation upon which to build.

But it was also a test of the seriousness of the Republican Party on the most serious of issues. It is a test they failed. All of them in Congress.

That is not political spin. It’s the truth. Just ask Mother Earth. She’s screaming out for all to hear. Maybe at some point the politicians who refuse to listen to her pleas will be forced to answer why, and not be taken seriously until they can answer in accordance with reality.

Understanding Juneteenth (Reprise)

This is the post I posted on Juneteenth in 2020, but since I couldn’t say it any better today than I did then (actually, Jamelle Bouie did most of the work on this) then I thought it apropos to run it again.


Today is Juneteenth, and I would like to start with a few words from President Barack Obama …

Obama“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible––and there is still so much work to do.”

I planned to write a piece about Juneteenth, but I found that it had already been done, much better and much more authentically than I could possibly have done it, by Jamelle Bouie, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, and former chief political correspondent for Slate magazine.


Why Juneteenth Matters

It was black Americans who delivered on Lincoln’s promise of “a new birth of freedom.”

jamelle-bouieBy Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves. They helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment, but they were not themselves responsible for the end of slavery. They were not the ones who brought about its final destruction.

Who freed the slaves? The slaves freed the slaves.

“Slave resistance,” as the historian Manisha Sinha points out in “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” “lay at the heart of the abolition movement.”

“Prominent slave revolts marked the turn toward immediate abolition,” Sinha writes, and “fugitive slaves united all factions of the movement and led the abolitionists to justify revolutionary resistance to slavery.”

When secession turned to war, it was enslaved people who turned a narrow conflict over union into a revolutionary war for freedom. “From the first guns at Sumter, the strongest advocates of emancipation were the slaves themselves,” the historian Ira Berlin wrote in 1992. “Lacking political standing or public voice, forbidden access to the weapons of war, slaves tossed aside the grand pronouncements of Lincoln and other Union leaders that the sectional conflict was only a war for national unity and moved directly to put their own freedom — and that of their posterity — atop the national agenda.”

All of this is apropos of Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, to lead the Union occupation force and delivered the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in the region. This holiday, which only became a nationwide celebration (among black Americans) in the 20th century, has grown in stature over the last decade as a result of key anniversaries (2011 to 2015 was the sesquicentennial of the Civil War), trends in public opinion (the growing racial liberalism of left-leaning whites), and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Over the last week, as Americans continued to protest police brutality, institutional racism and structural disadvantage in cities and towns across the country, elected officials in New York and Virginia have announced plans to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, as have a number of prominent businesses like Nike, Twitter and the NFL.

There’s obviously a certain opportunism here, an attempt to respond to the moment and win favorable coverage, with as little sacrifice as possible. (Paid holidays, while nice, are a grossly inadequate response to calls for justice and equality.) But if Americans are going to mark and celebrate Juneteenth, then they should do so with the knowledge and awareness of the agency of enslaved people.

Juneteenth-2

Credit…David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Emancipation wasn’t a gift bestowed on the slaves; it was something they took for themselves, the culmination of their long struggle for freedom, which began as soon as chattel slavery was established in the 17th century, and gained even greater steam with the Revolution and the birth of a country committed, at least rhetorically, to freedom and equality. In fighting that struggle, black Americans would open up new vistas of democratic possibility for the entire country.

To return to Ira Berlin — who tackled this subject in “The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States” — it is useful to look at the end of slavery as “a near-century-long process” rather than “the work of a moment, even if that moment was a great civil war.” Those in bondage were part of this process at every step of the way, from resistance and rebellion to escape, which gave them the chance, as free blacks, to weigh directly on the politics of slavery. “They gave the slaves’ oppositional activities a political form,” Berlin writes, “denying the masters’ claim that malingering and tool breaking were reflections of African idiocy and indolence, that sabotage represented the mindless thrashings of a primitive people, and that outsiders were the ones who always inspired conspiracies and insurrections.”

By pushing the question of emancipation into public view, black Americans raised the issue of their “status in freedom” and therefore “the question of citizenship and its attributes.” And as the historian Martha Jones details in “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America,” it is black advocacy that ultimately shapes the nation’s understanding of what it means to be an American citizen. “Never just objects of judicial, legislative, or antislavery thought,” black Americans “drove lawmakers to refine their thinking about citizenship. On the necessity of debating birthright citizenship, black Americans forced the issue.”

After the Civil War, black Americans — free and freed — would work to realize the promise of emancipation, and to make the South a true democracy. They abolished property qualifications for voting and officeholding, instituted universal manhood suffrage, opened the region’s first public schools and made them available to all children. They stood against racial distinctions and discrimination in public life and sought assistance for the poor and disadvantaged. Just a few years removed from degradation and social death, these millions, wrote W.E.B. Du Bois in “Black Reconstruction in America, “took decisive and encouraging steps toward the widening and strengthening of human democracy.”

Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved black Americans to the cause of human freedom. It gives us another way to recognize the central place of slavery and its demise in our national story. And it gives us an opportunity to remember that American democracy has more authors than the shrewd lawyers and erudite farmer-philosophers of the Revolution, that our experiment in liberty owes as much to the men and women who toiled in bondage as it does to anyone else in this nation’s history.

Understanding Juneteenth

Today is Juneteenth, and I would like to start with a few words from President Barack Obama …

Obama“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory, or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible––and there is still so much work to do.”

I planned to write a piece about Juneteenth, but I found that it had already been done, much better and much more authentically than I could possibly have done it, by Jamelle Bouie, an opinion columnist for the New York Times, and former chief political correspondent for Slate magazine.


Why Juneteenth Matters

It was black Americans who delivered on Lincoln’s promise of “a new birth of freedom.”

jamelle-bouieBy Jamelle Bouie

Opinion Columnist

Neither Abraham Lincoln nor the Republican Party freed the slaves. They helped set freedom in motion and eventually codified it into law with the 13th Amendment, but they were not themselves responsible for the end of slavery. They were not the ones who brought about its final destruction.

Who freed the slaves? The slaves freed the slaves.

“Slave resistance,” as the historian Manisha Sinha points out in “The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition,” “lay at the heart of the abolition movement.”

“Prominent slave revolts marked the turn toward immediate abolition,” Sinha writes, and “fugitive slaves united all factions of the movement and led the abolitionists to justify revolutionary resistance to slavery.”

When secession turned to war, it was enslaved people who turned a narrow conflict over union into a revolutionary war for freedom. “From the first guns at Sumter, the strongest advocates of emancipation were the slaves themselves,” the historian Ira Berlin wrote in 1992. “Lacking political standing or public voice, forbidden access to the weapons of war, slaves tossed aside the grand pronouncements of Lincoln and other Union leaders that the sectional conflict was only a war for national unity and moved directly to put their own freedom — and that of their posterity — atop the national agenda.”

All of this is apropos of Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Gen. Gordon Granger entered Galveston, Texas, to lead the Union occupation force and delivered the news of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved people in the region. This holiday, which only became a nationwide celebration (among black Americans) in the 20th century, has grown in stature over the last decade as a result of key anniversaries (2011 to 2015 was the sesquicentennial of the Civil War), trends in public opinion (the growing racial liberalism of left-leaning whites), and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Over the last week, as Americans continued to protest police brutality, institutional racism and structural disadvantage in cities and towns across the country, elected officials in New York and Virginia have announced plans to make Juneteenth a paid holiday, as have a number of prominent businesses like Nike, Twitter and the NFL.

There’s obviously a certain opportunism here, an attempt to respond to the moment and win favorable coverage, with as little sacrifice as possible. (Paid holidays, while nice, are a grossly inadequate response to calls for justice and equality.) But if Americans are going to mark and celebrate Juneteenth, then they should do so with the knowledge and awareness of the agency of enslaved people.

Juneteenth-2

Credit…David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Emancipation wasn’t a gift bestowed on the slaves; it was something they took for themselves, the culmination of their long struggle for freedom, which began as soon as chattel slavery was established in the 17th century, and gained even greater steam with the Revolution and the birth of a country committed, at least rhetorically, to freedom and equality. In fighting that struggle, black Americans would open up new vistas of democratic possibility for the entire country.

To return to Ira Berlin — who tackled this subject in “The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States” — it is useful to look at the end of slavery as “a near-century-long process” rather than “the work of a moment, even if that moment was a great civil war.” Those in bondage were part of this process at every step of the way, from resistance and rebellion to escape, which gave them the chance, as free blacks, to weigh directly on the politics of slavery. “They gave the slaves’ oppositional activities a political form,” Berlin writes, “denying the masters’ claim that malingering and tool breaking were reflections of African idiocy and indolence, that sabotage represented the mindless thrashings of a primitive people, and that outsiders were the ones who always inspired conspiracies and insurrections.”

By pushing the question of emancipation into public view, black Americans raised the issue of their “status in freedom” and therefore “the question of citizenship and its attributes.” And as the historian Martha Jones details in “Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America,” it is black advocacy that ultimately shapes the nation’s understanding of what it means to be an American citizen. “Never just objects of judicial, legislative, or antislavery thought,” black Americans “drove lawmakers to refine their thinking about citizenship. On the necessity of debating birthright citizenship, black Americans forced the issue.”

After the Civil War, black Americans — free and freed — would work to realize the promise of emancipation, and to make the South a true democracy. They abolished property qualifications for voting and officeholding, instituted universal manhood suffrage, opened the region’s first public schools and made them available to all children. They stood against racial distinctions and discrimination in public life and sought assistance for the poor and disadvantaged. Just a few years removed from degradation and social death, these millions, wrote W.E.B. Du Bois in “Black Reconstruction in America, “took decisive and encouraging steps toward the widening and strengthening of human democracy.”

Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved black Americans to the cause of human freedom. It gives us another way to recognize the central place of slavery and its demise in our national story. And it gives us an opportunity to remember that American democracy has more authors than the shrewd lawyers and erudite farmer-philosophers of the Revolution, that our experiment in liberty owes as much to the men and women who toiled in bondage as it does to anyone else in this nation’s history.

♫ Bill Withers — A Tribute ♫

Yesterday was yet another sad day in the music world, with the announcement that soul singer Bill Withers had died at age 81.

Withers’ songs are some of the most beloved in the American songbook. Ain’t No Sunshine is regarded as one of the all-time great breakup tracks, while Lean on Me, an ode to the supportive power of friendship, was performed at the inaugurations of presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

Born William Harrison Withers Jr in 1938, he faced a difficult childhood in Slab Fork, West Virginia. A stutter held him back from making friends, and, after his father died when Bill was 13, his grandmother helped to raise him. Withers would write a tribute to her with the song Grandma’s Hands from his 1971 debut album Just As I Am: “Grandma’s hands / Used to issue out a warning / She’d say, ‘Billy don’t you run so fast / Might fall on a piece of glass / Might be snakes there in that grass.’”

Withers spent nine years in the US Navy before pursuing a career in music. After moving to Los Angeles in 1967, he found a job making toilet seats and recorded demos through the night. Possessed of a smooth and soulful baritone, he signed to Sussex Records and enlisted Booker T Jones to produce Just As I Am. That album spawned the hit Ain’t No Sunshine, which won Withers his first Grammy for best R&B song.

The 2009 documentary, Still Bill, explored his reasons for quitting the music industry and painted the picture of a fulfilled musician and human being. Writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, film critic Roger Ebert said: “Withers still lives and survives as a happy man. Still Bill is about a man who topped the charts, walked away from it all in 1985 and is pleased that he did.”

I debated about what song to play in honour of Mr. Withers tonight.  I have already played my three favourites, and since I couldn’t decide, I offer all three here, with links to the original posts for trivia and lyrics if you’re interested.

 

Links to original posts:

Ain’t No Sunshine

Just the Two of Us

Lean On Me

Mandela Day …

I did not realize that today is Mandela Day, until I was skimming my e-mail late this afternoon and came across this one from the Obama Foundation …

Obama-foundation-logo

Hi Jill,

Ten years ago today, the world celebrated the first-ever Mandela Day, on Nelson Mandela’s 91st birthday. Mandela himself was honored, but he emphasized that the day should not be a holiday to recognize him, but a day devoted to service. “Our struggle for freedom and justice was a collective effort,” he said. “Mandela Day is no different.”

Now, ten years later, I’m asking you to take part in another collective effort—to dedicate your time toward improving your own community.Obama-MandelaNo gesture is too small; no act of service too modest. Whether you donate books to your local library, volunteer at a shelter, or commit to mentoring someone in your neighborhood, every action is a step toward building a more gracious, more generous world. That is the world Mandela himself sought to build.

Earlier this week, the Obama Foundation convened 200 of Africa’s best and brightest young leaders in Mandela’s home country of South Africa to help them sharpen their skills, share their hopes and ideas, and build a network that can help chart the future of the continent. But before they left our Leaders: Africa convening, they gathered together to volunteer at a nearby primary school.

They didn’t sign their names on murals or stand idly by, waiting for recognition—these leaders simply gave their time in service. It’s the kind of example that true leadership demands. And I can think of no one who better defines that spirit of leadership than Madiba himself.

So this Mandela Day, commit some time to making a difference in your community. But don’t do it for yourself or even just to recognize him; do it because it’ll make our world better.

Thanks,

Barack Obama

Mandela-1Nelson Mandela International Day aka Mandela Day, is an annual international day in honour of Nelson Mandela, celebrated each year on 18 July, Mandela’s birthday. The day was officially declared by the United Nations in November 2009, with the first UN Mandela Day held on 18 July 2010.

The Mandela Day campaign message, according to a statement issued on Mandela’s behalf is:

  • Nelson Mandela has fought for social justice for 67 years. We’re asking you to start with 67 minutes.
  • We would be honoured if such a day can serve to bring together people around the world to fight poverty and promote peace, reconciliation and cultural diversity.

A little bit about Nelson Mandela.

By the time of his death, within South Africa Mandela was widely considered both “the father of the nation” and “the founding father of democracy”.  Outside of South Africa, he was a global icon, with the scholar of South African studies Rita Barnard describing him as “one of the most revered figures of our time”.

When some attempted to portray Mandela as a modern-day messiah, his response was …

“I was not a messiah, but an ordinary man who had become a leader because of extraordinary circumstances.”

gandhi-king-mandelaHe is often cited alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. as one of the 20th century’s exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders.  Mandela’s international fame had emerged during his incarceration in the 1980s, when he became the world’s most famous prisoner, a symbol of the anti-apartheid cause, and an icon for millions who embraced the ideal of human equality. In 1986, Mandela’s biographer characterized him as “the embodiment of the struggle for liberation” in South Africa.

Mandela generated controversy throughout his career as an activist and politician, having detractors on both the right and the radical left. During the 1980s, Mandela was widely labelled a terrorist by prominent political figures in the Western world for his embrace of political violence. According to the UK’s Margaret Thatcher, for instance, the ANC was “a typical terrorist organisation”. The US government’s State and Defense departments officially designated the African National Congress (ANC) as a terrorist organization, resulting in Mandela remaining on their terrorism watch-list until 2008.

In the words of South African historian/biographer Bill Freund …

“The significance of Mandela can be considered in two related ways. First, he has provided through his personal presence as a benign and honest conviction politician, skilled at exerting power but not obsessed with it to the point of view of excluding principles, a man who struggled to display respect to all … Second, in so doing he was able to be a hero and a symbol to an array of otherwise unlikely mates through his ability, like all brilliant nationalist politicians, to speak to very different audiences effectively at once.”

Mandela-2Like Gandhi, King, and a handful of others, Nelson Mandela left the world a little bit better place than he found it.  This is something few of us will achieve, but that we should all strive for.Mandela Day

A Little Dose of Snarky Snippets …

The big news of the day, of course, is that Robert Mueller let Attorney General Barr know more than a month ago that he was displeased with Barr’s 4-page summary of Mueller’s report, when Mueller had provided summaries for Barr to use.  And today, as I write, AG Barr is testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and methinks he has much to answer for.  I peeked in on the hearing and saw Barr chewing his lower lip and looking downright unhappy.  Serves him right … his lies are catching up with him.  Anyway, since I’m not prepared to write about that whole situation today, but as it has left me in a state of some angst, I am bursting forth with more snarky snippets!Barr-toon.jpg


Trouble brews over at Fox …

Just as Hermie, in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer did not want to make toys, apparently some of the talking heads over at Fox ‘News’ don’t want to tell lies!  It is reported that Fox’s Corporate CEO Lachlan Murdoch has quite the task on his hands to keep Donald Trump and the White House satisfied with regards to loyalty and coverage. They also have to keep advertisers happy. Lachlan also has to deal with the internal conflicts between Fox’s rank and file journalists and the prime time hosts who are the faces of the network.

According to one source …

“Reporters are telling management that we’re being defined by the worst people on our air.”

Ya think?  Golly gee.  You lie down with the dogs, don’t be surprised to get up with a bad case of fleas!

CEO Lachlan Murdoch is in a bit of a tough spot here, for the people who see themselves as journalists, such as Chris Wallace and Shepard Smith don’t appreciate the image the network has taken on, that of being more of an entertainment venue rather than a news station.  And, to further complicate Murdoch’s life, advertisers have begun boycotting some of the more offensive Fox personalities such as Tucker Carlson, Jeannine Pirro, and Laura Ingraham, costing the network money.

Perhaps, however, Murdoch’s biggest worry is that Sean Hannity is said to be leaving when his contract expires in 2021 (Oh yes, please, GO!).  According to one of Hannity’s staffers …

“Sean doesn’t feel supported,. He has no relationship with Lachlan. Sean thinks, Wait a second, I was hired to get ratings and I get ratings, but now people are embarrassed about me? He feels Fox spends a lot of time supporting Shepard Smith but his show makes no money. That’s annoying to him.”

Awwww … poor li’l fella …


Donnie’s mad at the firefighters …

The national firefighter’s union, International Association of Fire Fighters, has given their endorsement for the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden, and little Donnie is none too happy.  To let the world know just how unhappy he is, he tweeted no less than 60 times about it this morning.

“I’ve done more for Firefighters than this dues sucking union will ever do, and I get paid ZERO!”

“The Dues Sucking firefighters leadership will always support Democrats, even though the membership wants me. Some things never change!”

Trump mafiosoIn addition to his own juvenile tweets, he re-tweeted some 53 tweets by others who claimed to be firefighters in support of Trump.  All this in a 30-minute span … wait, is this what we are paying him to do???

He also said that Biden is “not the brightest lightbulb”.  Ahem … do I even need to point out the irony here?

There is a bright side, however, and that is that within a short time after his ‘tweet storm’, people began ‘unfollowing’ him and within an hour and a half,  he had lost 1,150 Twitter followers!  Is it just possible that people are finally getting sick and tired of his crude language, his lies, and his promotion of hate?  We can only hope.


Nitpicking words

After the Easter Sunday bombing attacks on hotels and churches in Sri Lanka that killed hundreds, public figures expressed condolences.  Three such people were former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and former HUD Secretary Julián Castro.

  • The attacks on tourists and Easter worshippers in Sri Lanka are an attack on humanity. On a day devoted to love, redemption, and renewal, we pray for the victims and stand with the people of Sri Lanka. – Barack Obama
  • On this holy weekend for many faiths, we must stand united against hatred and violence. I’m praying for everyone affected by today’s horrific attacks on Easter worshippers and travelers in Sri Lanka. – Hillary Clinton
  • On a day of redemption and hope, the evil of these attacks on Easter worshippers and tourists in Sri Lanka is deeply saddening. My prayers today are with the dead and injured, and their families. May we find grace. – Julián Castro

Note the common denominator is that they referred to the victims as “tourists and Easter worshippers”.  Not a problem, right?  It was Easter and they were in church, presumably ‘worshipping’.  Unless, of course, you are a right-wing evangelical, and then it becomes a problem, apparently.

Fox ‘News’ hosts and other conservatives took this opportunity to rant that it was an attempt to avoid using the word “Christian”.

“How do President Obama and Secretary Clinton both come up with Easter worshippers in their tweets about the murders in Sri Lanka? To have both of them use the same term the same day is strange. Is Easter Worshipper the left’s new way to avoid the word Christian? Pathetic.” – Newt Gingrich

Seriously, Newtie?  Have you nothing better to do than nitpick the verbiage of a condolence message?  Even Kellyanne Conway jumped on this bandwagon …

“I think there’s anti-Christianity. That’s why the Sri Lankans were gunned down. They’re not Easter worshippers, Obama and Hillary Clinton. They are Christians.”

Nearly 300 people were killed, and all these fools can do is nitpick the words from well-intentioned people who happen to be democrats.   I think this speaks for itself.


Well, that’s all I’ve got time for today folks.  Have a happy evening!

Presidents Day ?????

Today is Presidents Day.  I considered ignoring the ‘holiday’ because we currently have no president worth honouring, but then I realized that the holiday is to celebrate all our past presidents.  While I could bore you with the history of the day, you can go to History.com  for a comprehensive history, so I decided to regale you with some presidential trivia instead.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first president to name a woman to his cabinet: Roosevelt appointed Frances Perkins as his secretary of labor in 1933. She was previously a social worker who worked in settlement houses in Chicago and Philadelphia. During her tenure at the department, she established the Labor Standards Bureau and was a principal architect of the Social Security Act.

Warren Harding had the largest shoe size: Size 14. His slippers and golf shoes are still on display at the Smithsonian.

Theodore Roosevelt wore a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair during his inauguration: The lock of hair was contained in a ring that was gifted to Roosevelt by John Hay, who worked for Lincoln during his presidency. Roosevelt wore the ring at his second inauguration in 1905. A great admirer of his predecessor, Roosevelt had watched Lincoln’s funeral procession pass by his house in New York.

Gerald Ford was a fashion model in his youth (even appearing on the cover of Cosmopolitan): He was talked into the job by Phyllis Brown, a woman Smithsonian.com describes as his “first love.” They appeared together in a ski resort spread of Look magazine in 1940, as well as on the Cosmopolitan cover in 1942. Ultimately, however, she wanted to pursue modeling while he wanted to begin his career as a lawyer, which ended their relationship.

Four presidents have received the Nobel Peace Prize: Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama. Roosevelt was honored for his work on international peace, including on efforts to broker a peace treaty between Russia and Japan in 1905. Wilson was given the prize in 1919 for his work toward founding the League of Nations after World War I. Carter had already retired from the presidency but won the Nobel prize in 2002 because of his efforts on human rights resolving international conflicts. Mr. Obama was nominated for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said at the time.

George Washington owned a profitable whiskey distillery. Whiskey was one of Washington’s most important business ventures at Mount Vernon. At peak production in 1799, the distillery used five stills and a boiler and produced eleven thousand gallons of whiskey. With sales of $7,500 that year, it was perhaps the country’s largest distillery.

William Howard Taft became a Supreme Court Justice after his retirement. A graduate of Yale and Cincinnati Law School, Taft loved law but was unsure about politics. At the urging of his wife, Nellie, and mentor, Theodore Roosevelt, he reluctantly accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency, calling the presidential campaign “one of the most uncomfortable four months of my life.” After losing the 1912 election to Woodrow Wilson, Taft served as a professor of law at Yale and was later appointed by Warren Harding as chief justice of the United States, a pose he considered his greatest honor.

John Tyler had 15 children. Tyler was married twice. He had eight children with his first wife, Letitia. After she died, the 54-year-old president married the 24-year-old Julia Gardiner, with whom he had seven more children. Tyler wins the prize for being the most prolific of all American presidents.

Abraham Lincoln attended séances at the White House. Lincoln’s wife, Mary Lincoln, became interested in séances after their young son Willie died in 1862. At the White House, she engaged mediums, who conducted “spirit circles” or ceremonies during which those who attended could communicate with their loved ones who had crossed over into the next world. Mary was eager to believe in these mediums as it made her loss somewhat bearable, and she encouraged the president to attend a few séances, which he did. It is not clear if Lincoln participated to appease his wife or out of real interest and belief.

And a few really short tidbits …

George Washington’s false teeth were made from elephant and walrus tusks, gold, and ivory not wood.

John Adams was the first to live in the White House.

Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia.

James Madison was the shortest president at 5-foot-4 inches.

James Monroe was the last founding father to serve as president.

John Quincy Adams skinny dipped in the Potomac every morning.

Andrew Jackson had a pet parrot he taught to curse.

Martin Van Buren coined the word “OK.”

William Henry Harrison had a pet goat.

Franklin Pierce was arrested during his presidency for running over a woman with his horse.

James Buchanan was a bachelor and never married.

Abraham Lincoln is honored in the wrestling hall of fame.

Ulysses S. Grant was given a ticket for riding his horse too fast.

Rutherford B. Hayes was the first president to use a telephone and his number was 1.

James A. Garfield could write with both hands at the same time in different languages. (Pretty impressive when you consider that today’s prez cannot write in a single language with any hand!)

Chester A. Arthur owned 80 pairs of pants.

Grover Cleveland was the first and only to be married in the White House.

Benjamin Harrison never touched light switches because he was afraid he would be electrocuted.

Grover Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms. Making him the 22nd and 24th president.

William McKinley was the first president to have mass produced campaign buttons.

Theodore Roosevelt was shot while giving a speech and finished his speech with the bullet in his chest.

William H. Taft was the only former president to serve as chief justice on the Supreme Court and swore in presidents Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

Woodrow Wilson is the only president to have a PhD.

Warren G. Harding gambled away a set of White House china.

Herbert Hoover spoke Chinese to his wife to keep their conversations private.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor, were fifth cousins once removed.

Harry S. Truman does not have a middle name. His parents gave him the middle initial “S” as a tribute to his relatives whose names started with the letter S.

Dwight D. Eisenhower installed a putting green in the White House and played over 800 games of golf while in office.

John F. Kennedy was awarded a Purple Heart, which he received for his service in WWII.

Lyndon B. Johnson was a teacher before becoming president.

Richard Nixon partly funded his first political campaign with money he won playing poker while in the Navy.

Jimmy Carter filed a UFO sighting in 1973.

Ronald Reagan loved jelly beans and placed a standing order of 720 bags per month to be delivered to the White House and various federal buildings.

George H. W. Bush loves wearing colorful, patterned socks.

Bill Clinton is a two-time Grammy winner.

George W. Bush was the head cheerleader at his high school.

Barack Obama collects comic books.

And now you know enough about Presidents Day!  Oh … and don’t bother to check your mail today, for there is no mail delivery.Presidents Day

America In The Eyes Of The World — A Guest Post By Colette

Today I have another guest post in response to my plea for readers around the globe to share with us their views of the U.S. in today’s world.  Colette has generously taken the time to write a thoughtful analysis of how the U.S. fits … or doesn’t fit … with the rest of the world today, and how our policies and leadership have affected the rest of the world.  Thank you so much, Colette, for this excellent and sobering analysis!


How did America Lose its Way in the World?

The USA, for many decades, maintained leadership in the world of economics, politics and living standards.

In 2008, that all changed when a poor economy, during the end of the Bush administration, triggered job losses and foreclosures on newly purchased real estate. The Prime Rate Mortgage scheme unravelled spectacularly, as people walked away from their homes. Financial Institutions holding the debt load across the world, fell like dominoes, crippling the world economy. The Bush administration had allowed for a scandalous mortgage scheme to exist. Outrageously, Senator John McCain exonerated Republicans by falsely pinning the blame for the financial fallout on the Democrats. Trust was lost in America.

Then, the rise of Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, and Indian (BRIC) economies created the global financial growth once enjoyed by the USA. They, and the fifth member, South Africa, have developed enormously. These nations are forming stronger inter-development alliances with interested parties and no longer depend on the EU and the US economies for survival.

America, despite the best efforts of Barack Obama to rebuild confidence, has lost the respect of other nations. With the loss of trust in America, came the loss of safety for political allies. America was no longer a major player in the World. Barack Obama was unable to adequately rebuild those fractured relationships. There were no viable Democrats waiting in the ‘wings’ who had a definitive strategy for bringing back jobs and rebuilding the economic status that the American public wanted. A political void existed.

I don’t like Donald Trump. I read his ‘Art of the Deal’ when it was first published in 1987. It didn’t take me long to realise that the man could use spin to sell any abhorrent idea to anyone. I also noticed how he manipulated officials to win planning permission for constructing his ostentatious buildings.

I thought Donald Trump to be the perfect TV host of the American version of ‘The Apprentice.’ His bullying, bellow of ‘You’re Fired!’ to contestants was an accurate personification of his real self. Donald Trump is not the perfect man for the position of President of the United States.

Trump, fresh from his instant TV stardom, rode in like a cowboy with guns blazing. Mowing down friends and foes alike, he boasted to his TV audience, “We’re gonna Make America Great Again!” It was a terrible ‘John Wayne’ imitation, but it was enough to mobilise poor-town Americans into lifting their heads up from dusty bars across the Nation. They recognised Trump from his appearances on their living room screens as someone who knew business and how to make money. As a collective, they put their fists in the air and said, “Yeah, we’re gonna make America great again! They were not seemingly aware of the debts that Trump had incurred in his own dealings, nor of his use of tax avoidance and double dealing tactics.

My husband, a financial man for much of his working life, saw a visionary Donald Trump providing hope for a better economy. His view, was to give the man a chance! He tells me that Donald Trump, whether you like him or not, has made progress on his pre-election promises.

I don’t really think my husband knows Trump’s full history, nor do I think that he cares, so that may also be true of Trump’s many supporters.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is full of old ideas, old philosophies, and old tricks. And he believes that he, ‘The Donald,’ is above the law, above the Constitution, and above any need to be diplomatic with other nations. He plays the Presidency as he did his own empire. He believes that his only hindrances are the Democrats and a few million Hispanics on his southern border. He does not personally like or feel any compassion for economic migrants because he is a covert racist and doesn’t want them in ‘his’ America.

The lack of trust in America has extended into the very real issue of world climate change. There is hesitation on global action as America, under Donald Trump’s instruction, has now left the bargaining ‘table.’ Other nations mumble verbal commitments, but their trust in American leadership has been abused yet again. Suspicion and hostility about how the Paris Agreement might work without US involvement has ground proceedings to a halt.

I watched a May 2018 interview with ‘Stephen Fry,’ a British actor. How did he see America today? He dropped his head saying, “Oh it’s terribly unfortunate! ” He also went on to say that Donald Trump used gangster and criminal tactics to force his agenda. He says Trump’s popularity is driven by ‘clickbait’ issues posted on social media, that is then reiterated over and over again, in televised news.

Stephen Fry also predicts that Donald Trump will run a second term, and so does my husband. Why? Because Donald Trump commands attention. He keeps his fingers working on his Twitter account so that he makes world news every day! A certain percentage of Americans see Donald Trump’s constant barrage of media blustering as ‘the real thing.’ They are fooled into believing that ‘America IS Great Again! ” So, they will vote him in again because Trump’s fake news fiasco is working!

Donald Trump tosses out outrageous propaganda which the media just gobbles up and feeds to us wholesale. Stephen Fry said that if nobody listened, and nobody clicked on the social media links, all the propaganda would disappear, and so would Donald Trump’s success.

Brits in general, feel that they hear far too much about American politics, especially during elections. And in truth, not many ordinary people on this side of the pond care what Donald Trump does, but those same people lap up the articles written about Trump because they reinforce some parallel issues that arise with Brexit.

Trump’s firings of his staff, the withdrawal of troops, the detention and degradation of migrants, the threat to keep the government in lock down, and his never-ending tirade about the ‘wall,’ all invoke fear. Trump hopes to trigger a state of emergency in a paralysed nation fearful of attack. These are the ‘plays’ of a man desperate to have the rest of the world take notice of America and see her power. Trump wants to build the economy using the steel industry to build the ‘wall’ and to create an arsenal of new weapons (in the event of a war that he will likely instigate). It is so unfortunate for the American people who must endure the consequences of the lies churned out by Trump. They may see the economy build, but it is not building for them.

The sinister side to all of this, is that Trump may eventually use his bullying tactics one too many times with China. It could backfire spectacularly in 2019 as a China/Russia alliance becomes a mega joint strategy against the perceived US threats. Donald Trump is playing with fire. His military commanders know it, and so do his allies. Other countries are quickly backing away from Trump’s influence as he drags the good citizens of America down a very dark black hole whilst chasing his own empire.

 ‘Trust’ and ‘Safety’ no longer exist in my vocabulary for describing Donald J. Trump’s America. And the consequences of Donald Trump’s flawed plans could herald a change of leadership on the political world stage. If so, it will not be the United States of America in that lead role.

A Stark Contrast …

Donald Trump is spending his Thanksgiving weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate. However, rather than spending a nice, quiet weekend with his rather macabre family, he spent the day on Thursday doing his usual routine of criticizing people, places and things, while patting himself on the back.  Only this time he crossed a line.  During a series of phone calls with members of both the military and the media on Thanksgiving Day (what, does he think these people got nothing better to do with their holiday than listen to his mindless ramblings???), he was asked by a reporter what he is most thankful for.  His answer?

“I made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you won’t believe it.”

He is thankful … for himself???  To be sure, he has made a difference, but not one that he should be either proud of or thankful for.  He has, in two short years, taken us about 25% of the way down a path toward becoming a friendless, third-world nation where violence and bigotry in all their ugly forms run rampant.  The difference he has made in this country is not a positive one, either on an international, national or personal level.  If asked the question: ‘Are you better off today than you were two years ago?’, most would have to respond with a resounding NO!

Trump-phone2Not content to stop there, he kept talking …

“And I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can’t even believe it. When I see foreign leaders, they say we cannot believe the difference in strength between the United States now and the United States two years ago. Made a lot of progress.”

By ‘foreign leaders’, he is referring to the likes of Vladimir Putin and Mohammed bin Salman, not the leaders of democratic nations.  The remainder of the phone call was dedicated to Trump attacking … attacking anything and everything he could think of to attack:  judges, Mexico, military technology, and people seeking asylum.  Same ol’, same ol’, and it doesn’t even bear repeating.

But let’s take a look at what the last real president we had was doing on Thanksgiving …Obama-ThanksgivingBarack, Michelle and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia, were at the Greater Chicago Food Depository helping serve Thanksgiving dinner to people in need, as they have done nearly every year:  In 2015, the Obamas helped feed military veterans at Friendship Place; in 2014, they were at Bread for the City; in 2011, they went to the Capital Area Food Bank; in 2009 and 2010, they chipped in at Martha’s Table.  Not golfing or feasting at some high-end country club, not spewing hate and venom, but simply volunteering their time for the benefit of others.  While Trump was tooting his horn about the ‘difference’ he had made, the Obamas were actually making a difference.

And what was Obama thankful for this year?

“I am grateful for the next generation of leaders—the young people who are tolerant, creative, idealistic and doing the work to create the world as it should be. Who understand that hope requires action. From the Obama family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving.”

Oh, how I long to have our real president back!

Obama-oval-office

We’ve Come A Long Way …

We’ve come a long way from the civilized country we once were.  Our forefathers are either looking down groaning and holding their heads or laughing uproariously at what the United States of America has become.

On Monday, a pipe bomb was found in the mailbox of philanthropist (and democrat) George Soros.  Today, bombs were sent to former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and media outlet CNN.  Once upon a time, the United States was considered above such behaviour.  We were once considered “the leader of the free world”.  We were once a kinder, gentler nation, one that was looked up to, respected, and valued human rights, human life.  Today, we have sunken to the level of a third-world nation.

We refer to a number of nations, mostly in the Middle East, as ‘terrorist nations’, or ‘countries that harbour terrorists’.  The U.S. has now become just such a nation.  These bombs are acts of terrorism, and I would bet my life that they were not constructed and delivered by Middle Eastern terrorists, nor by Muslims nor Hispanics.  These were thought of, concocted and delivered by white males, unless I miss my guess.  White males who are angry for some reason that the majority of us cannot comprehend.

It would be easy to lay all this at the door of Mr. Trump, for he has been highly vocal in his rabid, vitriolic rhetoric condemning democrats and the press, Obama and Clinton.  And certainly, he must share some of the blame.  But the bulk of the blame is on We The People.  I have spoken enough times on this blog about the loss of civil discourse that I will not do so again today.

Today there are migrants from violent nations heading to the United States to seek asylum from the violence in their own countries.  Soon, I think, there may be caravans of U.S. citizens making their way to the Canadian border to seek asylum from the violence in our own nation. liberty-cries

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These words, written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, once meant something.  They were words we were once proud of.  We have sullied the words, just as we have sullied the notion of democracy in the U.S. We no longer deserve to be known as a the ‘land of the free’, for we are not.

To Mr. Trump and to every person who has supported his hate-filled rhetoric, who applauds when he screams and incites violence, I hope you are pleased with yourselves today.  Understand that the majority in this nation do not feel as you do and that we have had just about enough.  We will fight back.  To whomever decided to make those bombs and attempt to murder good people like President Obama and Secretary Clinton, Mr. Soros, and the employees at CNN, I hope you are captured and spend the rest of your life in prison being beaten and abused in the worst possible way.

I am expecting a package to be delivered this week.  I wonder if I will hesitate before opening it?  Probably.  Isn’t this a sad state of affairs?