♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫ – Redux

In light of yet another mass shooting in the U.S., this one in Virginia Beach where 11 died and 6 others were injured, this song, though I have played it here before, seems to be the most appropriate one.  One line, the very last line, always stands out at times like this:  When will we ever learn?


Pete-Seeger-1

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

Pete Seeger, who died in January 2014 at the age of 94, wrote this song, and the following is his story of how the song came to be:

“I had been reading a long novel—”And Quiet Flows the Don”—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book: ‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them / Where are the girls? They’re all married / Where are the men? They’re all in the army.’ I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I Scotch-taped the song to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counselor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing ‘Where have all the counselors gone? / Open curfew, everyone.’

“The counselor added two actual verses: ‘Where have all the soldiers gone? / Gone to graveyards every one / Where have all the graveyards gone? / Covered with flowers every one.’ Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 percent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world.”

bernie sandersThe song has been recorded by many, including Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Olivia Newton-John and even Dolly Parton, but the one that surprised me was Bernie Sanders!  Yep, the one and only Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont apparently produced an album in 1987, 20 years before becoming a senator, titled We Shall Overcome.  Who knew?

My favourite version of the song has always been Peter, Paul & Mary’s, but tonight I came across a version Seeger did sometime late in life, playing banjo and singing, and I found it moving.  So, I am including both here, and you can pick one or listen to both.  Or neither, I suppose, but then my feelings would be hurt, so listen to at least one, ‘k?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Pete Seeger/Peter, Paul & Mary

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Where Have All the Flowers Gone lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫

I try not to play the same song twice, but there are some notable exceptions, such as John Lennon’s Imagine, and Ebony and Ivory by Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney.  I just played this song by both Pete Seeger as well as Peter, Paul and Mary back in October, but in a conversation with rawgod tonight, one line from this song popped into my head … “When will they ever learn?”  And so, I replicate my post from October, for I think this is one song that will always have relevance.


This song suits my mood tonight.  I think perhaps it suits the state of our nation tonight.

Pete-Seeger-1

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014)

Pete Seeger, who died in January 2014 at the age of 94, wrote this song, and the following is his story of how the song came to be:

“I had been reading a long novel—”And Quiet Flows the Don”—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book: ‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them / Where are the girls? They’re all married / Where are the men? They’re all in the army.’ I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I Scotch-taped the song to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counselor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing ‘Where have all the counselors gone? / Open curfew, everyone.’

“The counselor added two actual verses: ‘Where have all the soldiers gone? / Gone to graveyards every one / Where have all the graveyards gone? / Covered with flowers every one.’ Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 percent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world.”

bernie sandersThe song has been recorded by many, including Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Olivia Newton-John and even Dolly Parton, but the one that surprised me was Bernie Sanders!  Yep, the one and only Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont apparently produced an album in 1987, 20 years before becoming a senator, titled We Shall Overcome.  Who knew?

My favourite version of the song has always been Peter, Paul & Mary’s, but tonight I came across a version Seeger did sometime late in life, playing banjo and singing, and I found it moving.  So, I am including both here, and you can pick one or listen to both.  Or neither, I suppose, but then my feelings would be hurt, so listen to at least one, ‘k?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Pete Seeger/Peter, Paul & Mary

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Where Have All the Flowers Gone lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

It’s Time For … Snarky Snippets!

You could probably have predicted my angst would be running high today and I would pop up with a new batch of Snarky Snippets, yes?  You guys know me so well!  I have been pounding my keyboard so hard that I no longer have an ‘I’, ‘O’, ‘L’, or ‘N’ … the keys work, but the lettering has been worn off.  Good thing, I guess, that I took that typing class back in high school so I know where the letters are even without lettering to guide me!


Aw shucks, Mr. Barr … we can read as good as you … maybe even better!

I don’t know about you folks, but I learned basic reading skills at an early age.  Since then, those skills have been enhanced and honed, and I am now quite capable of reading many things.  There are things I choose not to read, for they either bore me or are offensive, but my literacy skills are at least on a par with most people’s.  Why, I have even read the U.S. Constitution, something that has not, as I understand it, been done by the ‘man’ who swore under oath to uphold said document.

Along comes Mr. William Barr, the alleged Attorney General of the United States, who determines that We the People are not capable of reading a 400-page document, the Robert Mueller report, and that we haven’t the intelligence to understand it, even if we could make out the words.  So … Mr. Barr decided that he would just save us the trouble of having to struggle with all that reading, and he would call a press conference and ‘splain it all to us!  Why, isn’t that nice of him?

Barr-puppetAnd, guess what else!  Mr. Barr delayed the release of the document in order to have numerous meetings with Trump’s lawyers.  Why, you ask?  Well, remember back when Robert Mueller first presented the report to Mr. Barr, and Barr wrote his own 4-page little summary, whereby he informed us that Trump, Ivanka, Kushner and all the rest were innocent of any and all wrongdoing, and that Mueller’s report cleared their names?  Turns out that Barr felt Trump’s lawyers ought to write their own little report to ‘splain just how, even though Trump & his cronies were in frequent communication with Putin and other Russians, there was no wrongdoing, for we might mistakenly decide on our own that there is some guilt there.  William Barr — Trump’s puppet on a string.

I will not be watching Mr. Barr tell fairy tales at 9:30 a.m., nor do I have any immediate interest in the rebuttal document by Giuliani and Co., though I will no doubt read that later just to see how the spin doctors played their hand.  I will, however, be reading the document prepared by Mr. Robert Mueller, whom I trust emphatically.  And I will draw my own conclusions based on the modicum of intelligence that I possess.  The next act in this play needs to be for Robert Mueller to testify before Congress, specifically the House of Representatives, where not everybody is drinking Kool-Aid.


Two thumbs up 👍 👍 for New York City!

Some good news from New York City.  While Donald Trump and his cronies trash regulations to protect our environment and do everything they can think of to hasten the demise of the human race, New York is taking a big, positive step.  The New York city council is expected to pass legislation today that will set emission caps for buildings and impose strict fines for those buildings that are found not in compliance.  Their stated goal is to achieve a 40% overall reduction in emissions by the year 2030.  It’s not enough, but it’s a start, and a damn sight better than our federal government is doing!NYC skylineAccording to the New York Times

Buildings are among the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions because they use lots of energy for heating, cooling and lighting, and they tend to be inefficient, leaking heat in the winter and cool air in the summer through old windows or inadequate insulation. An inventory of greenhouse gas emissions published in 2017 found that buildings accounted for 67 percent of the city’s emissions.

I admit a bit of demonic glee picturing Trump trying to figure a way around the law.  That is, until I remember that he is ‘above the law’ and will likely be the largest violator.  I hope the city goes after him with the big guns!


It makes sense … it makes perfect sense!Bernie-Sanders-FoxWhen I first heard that Bernie Sanders, not only a democrat, but a democratic socialist candidate, was appearing on Fox ‘News’, it was one of those wtf moments.  But then I pondered on it, did a bit of reading, and suddenly the 💡 came on over my head.  It’s positively brilliant, for a few reasons:

  • Most Trump-supporters are Fox viewers, and vice versa. Therefore, they really have no idea what the democrats stand for, because all they have to judge by is what they are told by the likes of Sean Hannity, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson, and of course Trump himself.  This gives them an opportunity to see that democrats are not, in fact, the big bad wolf, but people whose goals are humanitarian.  Now, I don’t look for them all to jump up and go change their party affiliation after seeing Bernie or another democratic candidate on their favourite news network, but it might open their minds a bit, might actually cause them to start thinking about some of the issues, realizing that there is more to it than they have been told.

  • It gives the democrats an edge they would not otherwise have … it shows they are not pandering only to their own supporters, but are reaching out to everyone. That’s important, folks, if you remember my post from last night where I posited that Trump is not our president because he speaks to and for only those who praise him.  The democrats, by appearing on Fox, are showing that they are for the entire nation, not just their own corner.

  • It is irritating the heck out of Trump! Could this be the end of the romance between Trump & Fox?

Other democratic candidates are slated to appear on Fox as well, including Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker.  Sanders’ appearance at a Fox Town Hall garnered the biggest television audience of any 2020 Democratic candidate — more than 2.5 million people.  This is a great way for the candidates to begin ‘reaching across the aisle’, and who knows … maybe a few Trump supporters may decide to sit on the other side of the aisle.


Well, I’m about out of snark for tonight, so I’ll return you to whatever you were doing.  great-day

Seth Meyers and Papa Duck

Seth Meyers is is an American comedian, writer, actor, and television host. He hosts Late Night with Seth Meyers, a late-night talk show that airs on NBC. Prior to that, he was a head writer for NBC’s Saturday Night Live (2001–2014) and hosted the show’s news parody segment, Weekend Update.  Like John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and others, he helps us find comic relief in the day-to-day dramas that inhabit the current administration in our federal government (ie., the government led by he-who-shall-remain-nameless-for-today).

This clip is more than a week old, from February 7th, but is still funny, still relevant, and well worth the eleven minutes it takes to watch the whole thing.  If you are like me, you really, really need a good reason to chuckle, so … give it a watch, okay?  The bonus is really the part toward the end, where Papa Duck (Phil Robertson) of Duck Dynasty was interviewed on Fox regarding his views on healthcare!

♫ Where Have All The Flowers Gone? ♫

This song suits my mood tonight.  I think perhaps it suits the state of our nation tonight.

Pete-Seeger-1

Pete Seeger (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) 

Pete Seeger, who died in January 2014 at the age of 94, wrote this song, and the following is his story of how the song came to be:

“I had been reading a long novel—”And Quiet Flows the Don”—about the Don River in Russia and the Cossacks who lived along it in the 19th century. It describes the Cossack soldiers galloping off to join the Czar’s army, singing as they go. Three lines from a song are quoted in the book: ‘Where are the flowers? The girls plucked them / Where are the girls? They’re all married / Where are the men? They’re all in the army.’ I never got around to looking up the song, but I wrote down those three lines.

“Later, in an airplane, I was dozing, and it occurred to me that the line ‘long time passing’—which I had also written in a notebook—would sing well. Then I thought, ‘When will we ever learn.’ Suddenly, within 20 minutes, I had a song. There were just three verses. I Scotch-taped the song to a microphone and sang it at Oberlin College. This was in 1955.

“One of the students there had a summer job as a camp counselor. He took the song to the camp and sang it to the kids. It was very short. He gave it rhythm, which I hadn’t done. The kids played around with it, singing ‘Where have all the counselors gone? / Open curfew, everyone.’

“The counselor added two actual verses: ‘Where have all the soldiers gone? / Gone to graveyards every one / Where have all the graveyards gone? / Covered with flowers every one.’ Joe Hickerson is his name, and I give him 20 percent of the royalties. That song still brings in thousands of dollars from all around the world.”

bernie sandersThe song has been recorded by many, including Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, Olivia Newton-John and even Dolly Parton, but the one that surprised me was Bernie Sanders!  Yep, the one and only Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont apparently produced an album in 1987, 20 years before becoming a senator, titled We Shall Overcome.  Who knew?

My favourite version of the song has always been Peter, Paul & Mary’s, but tonight I came across a version Seeger did sometime late in life, playing banjo and singing, and I found it moving.  So, I am including both here, and you can pick one or listen to both.  Or neither, I suppose, but then my feelings would be hurt, so listen to at least one, ‘k?

Where Have All the Flowers Gone
Pete Seeger/Peter, Paul & Mary

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers every one
When will we ever learn?
When will we ever learn?

Songwriters: Peter Seeger
Where Have All the Flowers Gone lyrics © The Bicycle Music Company

Who is Kevin Williamson?

The National Review, founded by William F. Buckley and in publication since 1955, is a semi-monthly conservative editorial magazine focusing on news and commentary pieces on political, social, and cultural affairs.  Since its founding, the magazine has played a significant role in the development of conservatism in the United States, helping to define its boundaries, while establishing itself as a leading voice on the American right.  Though I disagree with most of its ideas, I have respect for a number of the contributors to the National Review, such as George Will, Jonah Goldberg, and Charles Krauthammer.  One contributor for whom I have absolutely no respect is Kevin Williamson.

The Atlantic, formerly The Atlantic Monthly, has a good reputation.  While its focus was once on literary and cultural commentary, it has shifted focus towards political commentary and reporting in the 21st century.  It has been around since 1857 and, as I mentioned, has a very good reputation for quality reporting and for presenting opposing points of view in a relatively unbiased manner.  “We reach thinking people — and make them think harder” is their motto.  The Atlantic just hired the aforementioned Kevin Williamson from the National Review.

Who is Kevin Williamson?  He is either one of the biggest jerks in the world, or else he is playing at being one of the biggest jerks in the world.  Either way. Interestingly, while Williamson is a virulent racist, a bigot, and an uber-conservative, he is an anti-Trumpeter.  But let us look at some of the things he has said over the years, for his words speak volumes.

  • In 2014, Williamson tweeted that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and “women who have had abortions should face capital punishment, namely hanging.”
  • “The fictitious rape epidemic is necessary to support the fiction of “rape culture,” by which feminists mean anything other than an actual rape culture … ‘Rape culture’ simply means speech or thought that feminists disapprove of and wish to suppress.”
  • He said that that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has a “desire to see as many poor children killed” as possible through abortion.
  • “From an evolutionary point of view, Mitt Romney should get 100 percent of the female vote,” including “Michelle Obama’s vote,” because “the ladies do tend to flock to successful executives and entrepreneurs.”
  • “As every female police officer knows, there is something maddeningly sexy about a woman enforcing rules, and something sexually repugnant about a woman without any rules at all. Miss Manners is sexy for the same reason that librarians and teachers and nurses can be sexy: she is an authority — it’s fun to play with authority.”
  • Williamson attacked transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox, writing that she was “not a woman, but an effigy of a woman,” because transgender identity is a “delusional tendency.”
  • “The left always needs an emergency because they can’t get this stuff done through normal democratic means.”
  • Williamson compared Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to a Nazi.
  • Williamson declared that the epidemic of campus sexual assault “is a fiction” and compared efforts to curb the crime to “mass hysteria” during the Salem Witch Trials. “There is no epidemic of rapes on American college campuses. The campus-rape epidemic is a fiction.”

In the words of Slate’s Jordan Weissmann …

“These are not views one would typically associate with The Atlantic, which has a long, unique history in American intellectual life that’s partly bound up with the advancement of civil rights — it was founded by abolitionists, published Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham Jail,’ and helped make Ta-Nehisi Coates a leading American voice on race … He reacted to Black Lives Matter with an O’Reilly-esque rant about ‘race-hustling professionals’ and black-on-black crime that I have a hard time picturing sharing space with a TNC essay.”

In reference to a young black child, he wrote:

“Hey, hey craaaaaacka! Cracka! White devil! F*** you, white devil!” The guy looks remarkably like Snoop Dogg … raising his palms to his clavicles, elbows akimbo, in the universal gesture of primate territorial challenge. Luckily for me, he’s more like a three-fifths-scale Snoop Dogg, a few inches shy of four feet high, probably about nine years old …”

So why would a 161-year-old, well-respected publication hire such a jerk?  According to The Atlantic editor, Jeffrey Goldberg …

“The larger question is this: What am I trying to accomplish by having Kevin write for us? The first answer is this: He’s an excellent reporter who covers parts of the country, and aspects of American life, that we don’t yet cover comprehensively. I happen to think that conservatives made ideologically homeless by the rise of Trump are some of the most interesting people in America, and I want to read them whenever I can.

As our staff knows, because I go on about this ad nauseam, I take very seriously the idea that The Atlantic should be a big tent for ideas and argument. It is my mission to make sure that we outdo our industry in achieving gender equality and racial diversity. It is also my job is to make sure that we are ideologically diverse. Diversity in all its forms makes us better journalists; it also opens us up to new audiences. I would love to have an Ideas section filled with libertarians, socialists, anarcho-pacifists and theocons, in addition to mainstream liberals and conservatives, all arguing with each other.”

Diversity, an exchange of opposing views … I am all for those.  But Williamson is a first-class jerk, plain and simple … a racist, a bigot and a man with no moral filter for his words.  Many have already criticized Goldberg’s decision to hire Williamson, to which he responds:

“I don’t think that taking a person’s worst tweets, or assertions, in isolation is the best journalistic practice. I have read most, or much, of what he has written; some of his critics have not done the same. I would also prefer, all things being equal, to give people second chances and the opportunity to change. I’ve done this before in reference to extreme tweeting (third chances, too, on occasion), and I hope to continue this practice.”

Thing is, Williamson has absolutely no intention of ‘changing’, for in his farewell letter to the staff at the National Review, he commented that …

“… I will be an apostle to the Gentiles. I am very much looking forward to raising a brand new kind of hell.”

I wish The Atlantic luck with this one … personally, I will not be reading his columns.

The “American Dream” …

“American Dream is rapidly becoming American Illusion,” warns UN rights expert on poverty


You knew it was happening, and so did I, but now it is official … Trump is turning this nation into the “world champion of extreme inequality”, according to a new report by the United Nations (UN). Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, recently completed a two-week official tour of the US and reported on his findings.

“American exceptionalism was a constant theme in my conversations. But instead of realizing its founders’ admirable commitments, today’s United States has proved itself to be exceptional in far more problematic ways that are shockingly at odds with its immense wealth and its founding commitment to human rights. As a result, contrasts between private wealth and public squalor abound.”

A bit about Philip Alston, so you know he is knowledgeable and qualified to speak on this subject:

Philip Alston teaches international law, international criminal law, and a range of human rights subjects. He has degrees in law and economics from the University of Melbourne and a JSD from Berkeley. He previously taught at the European University Institute, the Australian National University, Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He was one of the founders of both the European and the Australian and New Zealand societies of international law and was editor-in-chief of the European Journal of International Law from 1996 through 2007. In 2014, he was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as its Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. From 2004 to 2010, he was UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, undertaking official missions to Sri Lanka, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Israel, Lebanon, Albania, Kenya, Brazil, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and the United States. He has also been on the Independent International Commission on Kyrgyzstan (2011) and the UN Group of Experts on Darfur (2007) and served as Special Adviser to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Millennium Development Goals (2002-07); chairperson (1991-98) and rapporteur (1987-91) of the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; and UNICEF’s Senior Legal Adviser on children’s rights (1986-92). – New York University, School of Law, faculty bio.

Need I say more?

During his time touring and researching for his report, Mr. Alston spent time with a wide variety of people, including Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who opined that as the “wealthiest country in the history of the world” the US should be providing a model in how to treat all of its citizens with dignity. “Sadly that is not the case. We are moving into 2018 – we should not be living in a country with 41 million people living in poverty and so many more in extreme poverty, and nobody even talks about it.”

Alston requested a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, but Ryan could not make time in his busy schedule to meet with him.  Says something, don’t you think?

“The US is alone among developed countries in insisting that while human rights are of fundamental importance, they do not include rights that guard against dying of hunger, dying from a lack of access to affordable healthcare, or growing up in a context of total deprivation. But denial does not eliminate responsibility or negate obligations.”

Alston was disturbed to find that some of the politicians with whom he met referred to poor people as “wasters, losers and scammers”, and says he wonders if these politicians have ever actually even visited areas of poverty.

This week, our not-so-illustrious Congress apparently reconciled the two tax bills and plan on what could be a final vote next week.  It appears that both chambers have the necessary votes to send the bill to Trump’s desk for his signature.  Let us see what Mr. Alston has to say about that bill:

“The proposed tax reform package stakes out America’s bid to become the most unequal society in the world, [emphasis added] and will greatly increase the already high levels of wealth and income inequality between the richest 1% and the poorest 50% of Americans.  The dramatic cuts in welfare, foreshadowed by the President and Speaker Ryan, and already beginning to be implemented by the administration, will essentially shred crucial dimensions of a safety net that is already full of holes.”

I urge you, dear readers, to read Mr. Alston’s full report, the final version of which will be officially issued in May 2018.  It is a scathing report, and proves what some of us have been saying for nearly 11 months now:  Donald Trump and his minions are putting this nation on a collision course, on a path to the destruction of the very things in which we have taken pride for 230 years now.  This report was a wake up call, even for me, who has seen the destruction since January 20th. We are no longer the “leader of the free world”.  In time, if Trump continues to have nearly free reign, we may no longer even be a part of the ‘free world”. Think about it.

We DO Know What We Want — Just Not How To Get It …

On last Sunday’s Meet The Press, Chuck Todd interviewed Ohio’s republican Governor John Kasich, during which Kasich made the following statement:

Kasich“The problem with the Democrats––I can’t figure out what they’re for. I mean, they have a golden opportunity, right, to be able to come in and win elections, but they can’t figure out anything other than the fact that they don’t like Donald Trump. I mean, they better figure out what they are. What’s happened to the Democratic party? It’s almost lost its soul and it better get its act together if they want to compete.”

My initial reaction, predictably, was to bristle.  Of course we know what we stand for!  We stand for environmental protections, affordable healthcare for all, equal rights and opportunity for all, an end to racism, stricter gun regulations, etc.  But, once I was done with my internal tirade and mental foot-stomping, I realized that … he is right.  He is wrong in saying that we do not know what we stand for other than hating Donald Trump.  But he is right about everything else. The Democratic Party has done very little in the last seven months to put together a platform and even less to build strategies for successful mid-term elections next year.  Kasich is right that this is a golden opportunity, with the majority of the country disgusted by the policies of Donald Trump and with a Congress that continues to lick his boots and ask “how high?” when told to jump.

One of the biggest challenges next year, I believe, will be inspiring voters to go to the polls. If we are relying only on ‘anything but Trump’ to encourage voters to vote for democratic candidates in 2018, we are doomed.  It did not work last year and it will not work next year either.  According to a recent Gallup survey, the current percentages of registered voters by party in the U.S. are …

Republicans        28%

Democrats          28%

Independents   41%

Meaning …. It will require some serious motivation to excite those 41% of independents enough to get them to the polls and convince them to vote for a democratic candidate.

We have all, myself included, been so focused on convincing Trump supporters to ‘see the light’, to abandon their love of Trump, that we have ignored the rest. Only about 36% support Trump, and it is apparent that short of a dramatic event that affects them on a personal level, they are not likely to back down.  We can no longer waste valuable resources on the 36% to the exclusion of all others, for those resources are needed to promote strong, viable candidates in the House and Senate elections next year.

Political analyst Steve Phillips wrote a relevant article for the New York Times last month that I encourage you to read.  A few of his key points:

“The Democratic Party is at risk of repeating the billion-dollar blunder that helped create its devastating losses of 2016. With its obsessive focus on wooing voters who supported Donald Trump, it is neglecting the cornerstone of its coalition and failing to take the steps necessary to win back the House of Representatives and state houses in 2018.

In spring 2016, when the progressive independent expenditure groups first outlined their plans for $200 million in spending, they did not allocate any money at all for mobilizing black voters (some money was slotted for radio and digital advertising aimed at blacks, but none for hiring human beings to get out the vote).

Predictably, African-American turnout plummeted. According to new census data, 59.6 percent of eligible black voters cast ballots last year, down from the 66 percent who voted in 2012.

The Democratic Party’s fixation on pursuing those who voted for Mr. Trump is a fool’s errand because it’s trying to fix the wrong problem.”

In June, Bernie Sanders also wrote an OpEd for the New York Times, titled How Democrats Can Stop Losing Elections.  This piece definitely warrants a closer look.  The first paragraph is an eye-opener:

sanders“In 2016, the Democratic Party lost the presidency to possibly the least popular candidate in American history. In recent years, Democrats have also lost the Senate and House to right-wing Republicans whose extremist agenda is far removed from where most Americans are politically. Republicans now control almost two-thirds of governor’s offices and have gained about 1,000 seats in state legislatures in the past nine years. In 24 states, Democrats have almost no political influence at all.[emphasis added]

Mid-term elections typically do not generate the same level of voter enthusiasm that presidential elections do.  According to Sanders, “We already have among the lowest voter turnout of any major country on earth. Democrats will not win if the 2018 midterm election turnout resembles the unbelievably low 36.7 percent of eligible voters who cast ballots in 2014.”

election-2018.jpgGranted, it is early days yet, with the 2018 mid-term elections just over 14 months away.  But in this day of nearly endless campaigns, it is not too early to start igniting the fires of enthusiasm.  While we cannot set aside our arguments against the Trumpian regime currently in office, and we must continue to speak out against the policies that go against what we believe is right and just, we must also make clear not only what we don’t want, but what we DO stand for, as well.  And we must somehow motivate and inspire every eligible voter to realize that their vote DOES count, that they CAN make a difference.

The Democratic National Party needs to do its part by stating clear, reasonable goals and investing in viable candidates.  The 2018 elections are our next best hope for reclaiming a truly bi-partisan Congress, a legislative body that can actually legislate, rather than spend their days bickering and feuding. The purpose of the legislative branch of the U.S. government is to make law that is in the best interest of the nation and its people, to provide ‘checks and balances’ to the power of the presidency.  Its purpose is not what we have seen for the past seven months.

NOT AGAIN!!! 2020 Or Bust …

Most of last year I groused that the campaign season for the presidential election was too bloomin’ long.  It started heating up in mid-2015, nearly a year-and-a-half before the election.  My humble opinion is that 3-6 months is plenty long to subject us to the endless drivel and detritus that defines campaigns in this country.  But now … NOW … the campaigns for the 2020 election are already building momentum!  I want to close my eyes, put my headphones on and listen to classical music for the next three-and-a-half years!  But alas, we have already seen what wearing blinders and earplugs does, so …

Not only have candidates begun speaking at events and cozying up to major-dollar donors, but even Trump himself has been holding campaign-style rallies in places he knows he can succeed in rustling up a crowd that is still friendly to him.  Note that you do not see him doing pep rallies in New York or San Francisco!

Among those starting to act like candidates are Senators Tom Cotton and Ben Sasse, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Mike Pence … whoa … Mike Pence?  Did I just say Mike Pence, as in current 2nd banana?  Of course, we all hope and believe that the head clown will not be on the 2020 ballot, but this is 2017, a full 39 months before the next presidential election!  There is rather an umwritten law … or perhaps it is written … second banana will remain quietly in the background, supporting the first banana no matter how rotten, until such time as the first banana is no longer a viable candidate.  Now, were Trump in his second term, then yes, this would be in the paramaters of normal, though it is still far too early.  But in his first term?

According to  Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns of the New York Times, Pence is “creating an independent power base, cementing his status as Mr. Trump’s heir apparent and promoting himself as the main conduit between the Republican donor class and the administration. The vice president created his own political fund-raising committee, Great America Committee, shrugging off warnings from some high-profile Republicans that it would create speculation about his intentions.”

When the aforementioned article came out on Saturday, Mike Pence had a moment of panic, knowing that retaliation from Trump would be swift and painful, so he put out the following statement:

“Today’s article in The New York Times is disgraceful and offensive to me, my family, and our entire team. The allegations in this article are categorically false and are just the latest attempt by the media to divide this Administration.”

Only thing is, he lies, for as The Washington Post notes, “Pence has been meeting with donors, has been creating an independent power base (as the Times reported), has hired a politically combatant chief of staff and has been the main channel of communication between Trump and Republicans on the Hill.”

2020-5But what Pence apparently fails to consider is that he has thrown his lot in with Trump, for better or for worse, and his fate or fortune is closely linked to that of Trump. And with that said, I do not wish to discuss the 2020 election until at least the middle of 2019, though I realize that is a pipe dream, given the current state of chaos in the current administration.  My only hope is that by 2020, Donald Trump is either banished to Siberia or else wearing an orange jumpsuit and busting rocks by day.

One interesting, humorous note:  It would seem that there is already an unofficial slogan for the 2020 election …

2020

There are already t-shirts, sweatshirts, phone cases, wall art, coffee mugs and bumper stickers available, folks.  Sigh. Gonna be a long three-and-a-half years, folks.