Good People Doing Good Things — Team Rubicon Again! And Yet AGAIN!

In October 2017 in another ‘good people post I wrote about Team Rubicon, a group of veterans started by Jake Wood, in 2010, initially in response to the devastating earthquake that had hit Haiti, leaving hundreds of thousands dead and at least that many more homeless.    Wood convinced a former classmate and a few other former Marines to join him and starting off with a group of 8, they headed to Haiti with medical supplies and equipment.  But, the story didn’t end there.  After Haiti, Wood and his friend William McNulty did some brainstorming, realized that their group was pretty effective, and veterans had the skills and know-how to do such things.  In the years since, the group expanded to over 150,000 volunteers, 70% of them veterans, and have been all over the world providing assistance to people in the wake of natural disasters and regional conflicts.  In all, they have responded to more than 500 humanitarian crises in the past decade.

Then in July 2021, Team Rubicon crossed my radar once again when CNN reported on them for their response to the pandemic since 2020.  When the pandemic first hit, Wood knew there would be a need for their services, and they were there, supporting food banks, delivering groceries, setting up Covid testing sites, vaccination sites and much more.  And here we are, just over a year later, and Team Rubicon has volunteers helping people in three areas:

  • In Puerto Rico AND Prince Edward Island, Canada, helping to clean up in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona that hit both locales in late September
  • In Western Alaska where people are trying to recover from Typhoon Merbok that destroyed nearly all the food supply when it hit last month
  • In Florida, coordinating relief and clean-up efforts in the wake of Hurricane Ian that hit at the end of September

When I first wrote about Team Rubicon in 2017, they had 33,000 volunteers … today they have more than 150,000!  Here are a few tidbits from Team Rubicon’s website regarding their most recent efforts.

In Florida

One week after Hurricane Ian made landfall in Florida, Team Rubicon is expanding its disaster response operations in the state. As of October 5, the veteran-led nonprofit’s route clearance teams had conducted 37 route clearance events, moved 6,680 cubic yards of debris, and removed 131 obstructions across the state. 

One week out, roadways remain covered in debris and home owners and residents are faced with extensive damage and flooding, and the overwhelming question of where to turn as they try to recover. To assist the survivors of Hurricane Ian, Team Rubicon has been expanding operations in multiple counties in Florida.

Currently, 67 Greyshirts are deployed in Charlotte County where they are clearing debris, mucking out flooded homes, performing chainsaw operations, and tarping roofs. Another 25 Greyshirts are currently deployed to Lee County and eight are on the ground in Polk County. The veteran-led disaster response organization hopes to deploy more than 300 volunteers to Florida to assist with Hurricane Ian disaster relief over the next month.

In Alaska

On September 16, remnants of Typhoon Merbok produced widespread damage to communities in Western Alaska, including Golovin. The storm flooded homes and businesses; damaged infrastructure—including the power grid and water supply system—and washed away roads and bridges. According to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski’s office, the 2022 typhoon damaged approximately 1,000 miles of coastline. 

Set along the Bering some 200 miles below the arctic circle and 500 miles from Anchorage, as the crow flies, Golovin was one of the areas most heavily damaged by Typhoon Merbok. Much of the village was under 6 feet of water, and all of it was without power for days. To assist in the village’s recovery, Team Rubicon is deploying a team of volunteers, or Greyshirts, to Golovin to provide muckout and expedient home repair services to the remote coastal village before winter freeze up. 

Over the course of the operation, which is expected to last until October 7, Greyshirts will muckout damaged homes and teach local volunteers how to perform muckouts. Due to the remoteness of the village and lack of local resources, all equipment, supplies, and food needed for the operation will be flown in from Anchorage with the Greyshirts who will be camping and working in primitive conditions for the duration of the operation. To support the community going forward, all excess or unused equipment and supplies will be left in Golovin at the end of the operation.

In Puerto Rico

Less than 20% of the island had electricity and 55% percent of Puerto Ricans were without water. “This is even bigger than it looks,” says Team Rubicon CEO Art delaCruz. “Any disaster that knocks out an entire power grid is a very big deal.”

The first dozen Greyshirts from the Continental U.S. are engaged in recon and establishing operating locations, then will begin assisting with recovery efforts. The organization expects to begin deploying numerous other Greyshirts soon.  

The deployment to Puerto Rico is not the veteran-led humanitarian aid organization’s first trip to the island: It responded to Hurricane Maria in 2017. Greyshirts then returned in 2018 to help with rebuild and recovery efforts, putting new roofs on 512 homes.

This is the third time I’ve written about Team Rubicon, but these guys deserve all the kudos we can give them, for these are people who drop everything to go thousands of miles to help others when the need arises.  They certainly get two thumbs up from me, and I suspect this won’t be the last time, either!

♫ Black Water ♫ (Redux)

While I was working on my ‘snarky snippets’ post last night, for no known reason this song popped unbidden into my head.  I thought … AHAH!  There’s one I’ve never posted before, and I kept humming the tune, even though I could not remember the title.  Well, a few words came to mind, so a quick Google search gave me the title, and I was all set to write a … wait a minute … better check and make sure I’ve never played this one bef … oopsie!  Yep, played it just over a year ago!  Drat.  Oh well, it’s a good song and I’m in the mood to redux it!  The second version, the ‘pandemic version’ is so much fun!  I hope you guys enjoy it, even if it is a repeat!

Last week I reduxed a song by the Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music, and our friend Clive mentioned two others that were his favourites by the band:  China Grove and Black Water.  Well, China Grove was one that I had never heard before, and when I listened it didn’t exactly make me want to jump up and dance.  But Black Water was another story altogether … I recognized it immediately, and what’s more … I like it!  And so …

Patrick Simmons, who is the group’s guitarist, wrote this song and sang lead. It has the Louisiana swamp rock feel of earlier Doobie Brothers songs like Toulouse Street and Black Eyed Cajun Woman.  The song is about the Mississippi River, with lyrics likely inspired by Mark Twain’s books Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, which tell stories about rafting down the river.

A personal aside … while I have heard this song many, many times and always liked it, I must admit that I always thought they were singing, “Hold that water …”  Ah, the joys of being hearing-impaired!

Black Water wasn’t seen as having hit potential, so it was relegated to the B-side of Another Park, Another Sunday in March 1974. Black Water wasn’t issued as an A-side until November, and it didn’t reach #1 until March 15, 1975.

In discussing how the song became an unlikely hit, says Tom Johnston, the Doobie Brothers frontman …

“That’s a story that could have happened back then, but never would ever ever happen now: Roanoke, Virginia picked that tune up and started playing it in heavy rotation, and somebody in Minneapolis who I guess knew somebody in Roanoke heard the song and decided to follow suit, and it ended up becoming our first #1 single. That was Pat’s first single. And oddly enough, it was never looked at as a single by the record company.

I remember when I first heard it was #1, we were in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and we were just getting ready to go on stage, and then I guess Bruce [their manager Bruce Cohn] must have told us. I think we were already aware of the fact that it was getting airplay, but nobody was really paying a lot of attention. And then all of a sudden it became #1 and we were paying attention. I remember I went in and congratulated Pat backstage, and we’ve been playing it ever since.”

Lead singer Tom Johnston became severely ill on the eve of a major tour beginning in Memphis, Tennessee in 1975, which led to the group replacing him with Michael McDonald, who became the lead singer of the band. Johnston was restored to fitness in 1976 and briefly back in the band, although he was sidelined once again in the fall due to exhaustion.  Michael McDonald remained with the band until their split in 1982 (they reunited in 1987, with Johnston).

Released in 1974, this hit #1 in the U.S., #11 in Canada, but did not chart in the UK.  Still, since our friend Clive knows of it and likes it, I must assume it did receive airtime in the UK.

Tonight, I have what I hope will be a treat for you.  I’m playing the original, official version and also one made within the past year, a ‘pandemic’ version where the members of the band all tuned in virtually and played their parts!  Needless to say, they are a bit older now, and of course the quality doesn’t match the original, but I thought it was fun anyway.

Black Water
The Doobie Brothers

Well, I built me a raft and she’s ready for floatin’
Ol’ Mississippi, she’s callin’ my name
Catfish are jumpin’, that paddle wheel thumpin’
Black water keeps rollin’ on past just the same

Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?

Yeah, keep on shinin’ your light
Gonna make everything
Pretty mama, gonna make everything all right
And I ain’t got no worries
‘Cause I ain’t in no hurry at all

Well, if it rains, I don’t care
Don’t make no difference to me
Just take that streetcar that’s goin’ uptown
Yeah, I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland and dance a honky-tonk
And I’ll be buyin’ ev’rybody drinks all ‘roun’

Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?
Old black water, keep on rollin’
Mississippi moon, won’t you keep on shinin’ on me?

Keep on shinin’ your light
Gonna make everything, everything
Gonna make everything all right
And I ain’t got no worries
‘Cause I ain’t in no hurry at all

I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
(By the hand) hand (take me by the hand) pretty mama
Gonna dance with your daddy all night long
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with your daddy night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)
I’d like to hear some funky Dixieland
Pretty mama, come and take me by the hand
By the hand, take me by the hand, pretty mama (I wanna honky-tonk, honky-tonk)
Gonna dance with you all night long (honky-tonk with you all long)

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Patrick Simmons
Black Water lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc

Good People Doing Good Things — In Linda Taylor’s Neighborhood

Today I have just one good people story, but the story has lots ‘n lots of good people and is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.  And at the end, I have an idea that I need your help with!

It’s amazing what people can do when they work together to help someone.  Linda Taylor, at 70 years of age, was given two months’ notice from her landlord to vacate the Minneapolis house she has lived in for nearly two decades.  It wasn’t that she didn’t pay her rent, or that she somehow violated the rental agreement for the house she has lived in for 19 years, but the owner was eager to sell the house and take advantage of skyrocketing housing prices.  The landlord,  Greg Berendt, was asking $299,000 and told Linda she could buy the house, or otherwise be out by January 31st.

Until 2020, Linda had worked for a local non-profit organization, but was laid off due to the pandemic.  Since then, she has struggled to make her rent payments, using some of her savings, and with help from family plus a government program started during the pandemic to help keep renters from being evicted.  But there was no way Linda could buy her home for $299,000!

Now, Linda was a beloved neighbor in her Minneapolis community, often referred to as the “bright star” of the neighborhood … everybody loved Linda.  So, when word got out, the neighbors, about 400 of them, decided to step up to the plate.  The Powderhorn Park community decided it would not allow their neighbor to be displaced.  Says Andrew Fahlstrom, who lives across the street from Linda …

“We have an active local neighborhood group because we’re within two blocks of George Floyd Square.  The infrastructure was there, the communication line was there, the neighborhood relationships were there.”

First, the neighbors wrote a letter to the landlord, urging him to wait on eviction and start negotiations with Taylor so she could buy the house. It was signed by about 400 neighbors and hand-delivered to Berendt.  The landlord responded that Linda could remain in her home until June 30th, and he also lowered the price to $250,000 – still out of Linda’s budget, but a bit better.

Another neighbor, Julia Eagles, took the initiative to organize such things as an art show, bake sale, pro-bono work by a real-estate agent, countless small donations, and other community-fund drives to come up with the money … and they did!  By May 31st, they had raised enough money for Linda to purchase her house!  Said Ms. Eagles …

“I don’t want anyone getting displaced or priced out of the community. We all believed collectively that we were going to do what it takes to keep Miss Linda here. So many people know and love this woman.”

In just four months, the people of Powderhorn Park raised $275,000 for Taylor — enough to buy her home and cover some needed repairs. Any additional funds will go toward utility payments.

Says Miss Linda …

“I knew my neighbors loved me, but I didn’t know how much.  Yesterday I went and did the closing for the house. It makes me feel so good, everything that I have given, it’s coming back to me and I want to continue to give. I love this neighborhood.”

I had an idea the other night that I wanted to share with you and maybe get your help.  I know we all have been on the receiving end of good people before – friends, neighbors, family members, and sometimes even strangers.  I certainly have throughout my life!  My own most recent ‘good people’ encounter took place over a period of several months after the onset of my heart problems. I was unable to do much more than walk 10 steps without passing out, so my beautiful neighbor, Maha, would cook extra each evening and bring over enough supper for me and my family.  She did this for months, and in fact even now she sends food over at least once a week, despite the fact that she’s having her own health issues at the moment. She also brought me flowers, balloons, chocolates, and other little special treats, and either she, her husband Ali, or one of their three sons came to check on me every day!

Every week, I write about good people, some doing huge great deeds like traveling to Ukraine to help people find housing, or cooking for the displaced refugees, and others doing small things, like shoveling an elderly person’s walkway, rescuing an abandoned kitten, or buying a meal for a homeless person.  And these stories inspire us, remind us that there are many good people in the world, far more than the not-so-good ones we see on the news every night.  But I was thinking … I would love it if you guys shared stories of the good people who have crossed your paths recently.  You know … if your neighbor helped you carry your groceries in, or a stranger stopped and helped you change a flat tire, or a local teen carried your weekly trash to the curb.  Little things mean so much.

So, no pressure here, but if you’d like to tell the story of an encounter you’ve had with a ‘good people’ recently, I would love to hear and share your story in next week’s ‘good people’ post!  If you’re interested, let me know in the comment section and then you can email me your story!  Again, no pressure at all … it’s just something I thought might be fun to do!

Still Hope …

I came across an OpEd by Pulitzer Prize-winning Bret Stephens in the New York Times this morning that I thought made some excellent points, gave encouragement to not lose hope, even as our nation seems to be falling apart at the seams some days.

Can We Still Be Optimistic About America?

May 10, 2022

By Bret Stephens, Opinion Columnist

This is a season — an age, really — of American pessimism.

The pessimism comes in many flavors. There is progressive pessimism: The country is tilting toward MAGA-hatted fascism or a new version of “The Handmaid’s Tale.” There is conservative pessimism: The institutions, from primary schools to the Pentagon, are all being captured by wokeness. There is Afropessimism: Black people have always been excluded by systemic, ineradicable racism. There is the pessimism of the white middle and working classes: The country and the values they’ve known for generations are being hijacked by smug, self-dealing elites who view them with contempt.

There is also the pessimism of the middle: We are losing the institutional capacity, cultural norms and moral courage needed to strike pragmatic compromises at almost every level of society. Zero-sum is now our default setting.

These various kinds of pessimism may reach contradictory conclusions, but they are based on undeniable realities. In 2012, there were roughly 41,000 overdose deaths in the United States. Last year, the number topped 100,000. In 2012, there were 4.7 murders for every 100,000 people. Last year, the rate hit an estimated 6.9, a 47 percent increase. A decade ago, you rarely heard of carjackings. Now, they are through the roof. Shoplifting? Ditto. The nation’s mental health was in steep decline before the pandemic, with a 60 percent increase of major depressive episodes among adolescents between 2007 and 2019. Everything we know about the effects of lockdowns and school closures suggests it’s gotten much worse.

Economics tell a similar story. “Twenty-first-century America has somehow managed to produce markedly more wealth for its wealthholders even as it provided markedly less work for its workers,” observed Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute in a landmark 2017 Commentary essay. It’s in part from the loss of meaningful work — and the consequent evaporation of pride, purpose and dignity in labor — that we get the startling increase in death rates among white middle-aged Americans, often to suicide or substance abuse.

The list goes on, but you get the point. Even without the daily reminders of Carter-era inflation, this feels like another era of Carter-style malaise, complete with an unpopular president who tends to inspire more sympathy than he does confidence.

So why am I still an optimist when it comes to America? Because while we are bent, our adversaries are brittle. As we find ways to bend, they can only remain static or shatter.

This week brought two powerful reminders of the point. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin gave his customary May 9 Victory Day speech, in which he enlisted nostalgia for a partly mythical past to promote lies about a wholly mythical present, all for the sake of a war that is going badly for him.

Putin is belatedly discovering that the powers to humiliate, subvert and destroy are weaker forces than the powers to attract, inspire and build — powers free nations possess almost as a birthright. The Kremlin might yet be able to bludgeon its way to something it can call victory. But its reward will mainly be the very rubble it has created. The rest of Ukraine will find ways to flourish, ideally as a member of NATO and the European Union.

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, more than 25 million people remain under strict lockdown, a real-world dystopia in which hovering drones warn residents through loudspeakers to “control your soul’s desire for freedom.” Does anyone still think that China’s handling of the pandemic — its deceits, its mediocre vaccines, a zero-Covid policy that manifestly failed and now this cruel lockdown that has brought hunger and medicine shortages to its richest city — is a model to the rest of the world?

Meanwhile, in Shanghai, more than 25 million people remain under strict lockdown, a real-world dystopia in which hovering drones warn residents through loudspeakers to “control your soul’s desire for freedom.” Does anyone still think that China’s handling of the pandemic — its deceits, its mediocre vaccines, a zero-Covid policy that manifestly failed and now this cruel lockdown that has brought hunger and medicine shortages to its richest city — is a model to the rest of the world?

For all its undeniable progress over 45 years, China remains a Potemkin regime obsessed with fostering aggrandizing illusions: about domestic harmony (aided by a vast system of surveillance and prison camps); about technological innovation (aided by unprecedented theft of intellectual property); about unstoppable economic growth (aided by manufactured statistics). The illusions may win status for Beijing. But they come with a heavy price: the systematic denial of truth, even to the regime itself.

Rulers who come to believe their own propaganda will inevitably miscalculate, often catastrophically. Look again at Putin, who really believed he had a competent military.

Which brings me back to the United States. Just as dictatorships advertise their strengths but hide their weaknesses — both to others and to themselves — democracies do the opposite: We obsess over our weaknesses even as we forget our formidable strengths. It is the source of our pessimism. But it is also, paradoxically, our deepest strength: In refusing to look away from our flaws, we not only acknowledge them but also begin fixing them.

We rethink. We adapt. In bending, we find new ways to grow.

We have a demonstrated record of defanging right-wing demagogues, debunking left-wing ideologues, promoting racial justice, reversing crime waves, revitalizing the political center and reinvigorating the American ideal. Our problems may be hard, but they are neither insoluble nor new.

Those without our freedoms will not be so fortunate.

Filosofa Is Ranting … AGAIN!

More and more, this ‘United’ States of America is becoming a nation that I do not recognize, a nation of people who have thrown common decency and humanity out the window.  The latest thing that tore at my heart was a speech given by an Oklahoma Republican who is running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives this year.  The ‘man’s’ name is John Bennett, and he is the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.  His words at a recent campaign ‘event’:

“We’re in a war with bureaucrats who have forced vaccine mandates on us, mask mandates on us, and you know what — they are pushing this wokeness confusion down our throats.  And by the way, we should try Anthony Fauci and put him in front of a firing squad.”

And the worst part, my friends, is that the crowd cheered and clapped.  Now, I know these people do not represent the majority of those in this nation, but the number of fools who have zero respect for … anyone … seems to be on the rise … exponentially.  This disgusts me, it sickens me, it saddens me, and it infuriates me – all at the same time.

Dr. Anthony Fauci

Dr. Fauci is the nation’s top virologist and has, for more than two years now, attempted to guide this nation through a pandemic of epic proportions, one that has taken more than a million lives in this country alone, and more than six million worldwide.  He had the courage to stand up to the former guy when the former guy was touting dangerous ‘cures’ with no knowledge whatsoever, and making false claims that cost lives — many lives.  Dr. Fauci and his family … HIS FAMILY … have been subjected to death threats by people like those at Mr. Bennett’s rally.

THIS is not what this country … not what ANY country … should be.  Anybody who can applaud or cheer when a politico wanna-be calls for the execution of an innocent person, is not, in my book, a human.  How can this person, who stood in a public venue calling for the execution of another human being, be allowed to run for … and possibly obtain … a seat in the United States Congress?  Is this the kind of person we want to put in charge of our very lives???  Is this the sort of person we want making the laws under which we live or die?  It is against the law in all 50 states to incite violence, and yet isn’t that exactly what Mr. Bennett did?  Why is he even allowed to walk among us, let alone run for one of the highest offices in the land?

A note to Republican voters:  I understand that, as Republicans are actually a minority in this nation, you ave to work harder to keep the playing field level.  But do not sacrifice your values, your humanity, just to put a candidate of your party into office at ANY level.  People like Mr. Bennett, Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Gaetz, Ms. Greene, Ms. Boebert, Mr. Gosar, Mr. Cawthorn, the former guy, and so many more are beneath our dignity.  Surely you can find qualified candidates who still have human compassion, who are not racists and would actually uphold their oath of office?  If you cannot find such people, then the Republican Party is truly on the skids and you should get out now before it destroys your credibility as a human, before it destroys your self worth, before it destroys US ALL.

Just Two Snippets de Snark

I just have two short snippets of snark today.  Sometimes two is enough.

Pandemic or no pandemic???

“You cannot have your cake and eat it, too” said my mother on a near-daily basis.  And yet, that is precisely what a portion of this nation would like to do.  They pushed and pushed to declare the pandemic “over” and finally got their way.  Mask and vaccine mandates are largely now a thing of the past and people are going on about business as if there had never even been a pandemic. The girls and I went to 📚Barnes & Noble yesterday (first time since March 2020!), responsibly wearing our masks, and there was not one single other person there, not even the staff, wearing a mask.  There will be a price to pay for this perfidy, but that’s a story for another day.

Today’s point is that … while people selfishly wanted to believe and convince others that there is no longer a pandemic, they are now ranting and carrying on because President Biden lifted Title 42, a restriction against immigration put into place by the former guy because of the pandemic!  Now, if there is no more pandemic, then there must be no more Title 42.  If you want Title 42 to remain in place, then you must believe the pandemic is still a danger and must agree to mask and vaccine mandates!  You cannot have it both ways!!!

The reality, as we all know, is that a sizable portion of the people in this country are anti-immigration and they see the pandemic as an excuse to deny asylum to migrants and refugees.  Plain and simple bigotry.  Call a ♠️ a spade.

Right to life???  Don’t make me laugh

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, guns have become the leading cause of death for children and adolescents in the United States, surpassing car crashes, drug overdose and poisoning.

“There were more than 4,300 firearm-related deaths among people under 19 in the U.S. in 2020, a 29 percent increase from 2019.”

According to the report,  the rise in gun-related deaths among Americans between the ages of one and 19 was part of an overall 33.4% increase in firearm homicides nationwide.

Population of U.S.               330,000,000
Percentage of population that owns guns 32%
Number of gun owners in U.S.               105,600,000
# of guns in hands of citizens               390,000,000
Average # of guns per gun owner                              3.69

People scream and yell about the “right to life” when the subject is abortion, but nary a peep do you hear when the topic is kids being murdered by guns.  Way to go, Americans!  With more than 390 million guns owned by US civilians that we know of, and only a total of about 330 million people in the nation with only about 32% being gun owners, something is seriously wrong here. This means that on average, each of the 105.6 million gun owners owns 3.69 guns!  WHO THE HELL NEEDS 4 GUNS???  I guess it’s one way of cutting back the population … see, there’s a positive side to everything.

And a belated ‘toon in honour of Earth Day (yesterday) …

Let The Snarky Snippets Roll!

I’ve always been a news junkie, I think since I learned to read at around age 5 or so, but I cannot remember a time that the news created as much angst as these last few years, and especially the last week or so!  What to do with all that angst?  Well, turn it into snarky snippets and share it with my friends, of course!  😏

Florida’s #1 Jerk

Numerous states in this country have the misfortune to be governed by fools who put their own political careers ahead of the well-being of the people of their state, but I often think there is none so corrupt, so uncaring for the people of his state, as Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis.  Now, mind you that DeSantis has never been mistaken for a great humanitarian, having spoken and passed laws against immigrants, against the LGBTQ community, against women, against voting rights, and more.  But since the beginning of the pandemic in early 2020, DeSantis has been even more crude & cruel than usual, refusing any sort of restrictions such as lockdowns, mask mandates or vaccine mandates.  All of which, naturally led to Florida being the state with the highest per capita hospitalizations for COVID in the nation.

But what he did this week is beyond unconscionable.  On Wednesday, DeSantis scolded students for wearing face masks at a press conference he called, saying, “You do not have to wear those masks, I mean, please take them off.  Honestly, it’s not doing anything, and we gotta stop with this Covid theater. So if you want to wear it, fine. But this is ridiculous.”

The governor of a state of 21.48 million people telling school children to take off their masks, to expose themselves, their families and friends, to a deadly disease that has already killed nearly 1 million people in this country, with Florida having the third highest death rate from Covid in the country!  What a bastard!  I’ve heard that DeSantis is actually considering a run for president in 2024 … Florida, you can keep him … he’s not setting foot in the Oval Office if We the People have anything to say about it!

They say they love veterans, but …

Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would expand health-care eligibility for veterans who were exposed to burn pits and other toxins.  Interestingly, just 34 of the Republicans in the House voted for the bill, with 174 voting against it.  The final tally was 256-174.

The U.S. military used burn pits throughout Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of waste, medical and hazardous materials, and jet fuel, exposing veterans to toxins that have caused long-lasting medical problems. Veterans who have been exposed often face difficult disability benefit claims processes with the Department of Veterans Affairs to get necessary health care.  Under the House bill, 23 health conditions, including respiratory conditions and cancers, would be considered to have either been caused by or exacerbated by military service, meaning veterans with these conditions would no longer have to prove that they were caused by their exposure to the toxins.

However, the Republicans decided the cost was too high, so … let the veterans suffer.  This from the very people who claim to be dedicated to the nation’s veterans, who tout their own ‘patriotism’.  Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi hit the nail on the head when she said …

“It’s a cost of war. For the Republicans to go to the floor and say that veterans really don’t want this help because it’s going to cost money, and they’re more concerned about the budget than they are about their health. Oh, really? You just gave tax cuts in 2017 to the richest people in America. Tax cuts for the rich, cancer for our veterans … That’s how we see this discussion.”

She’s right.

The bill will have to go through the reconciliation process with the Senate bill that passed last month and is much narrower in scope, only extending how long post-9/11 combat veterans are guaranteed VA care by expanding a window of health-care eligibility from five to 10 years after they’ve been discharged.

Republicans claim they are the friends of veterans … with friends like that, who needs enemies?

Filosofa Grumbles

Okay, I gave you cute critters to bring smiles to your faces this morning, but now it is afternoon, and I am back in my snarky, grumpy, growly mode.

Miscarriage of justice

Former Minneapolis police officer Kimberly Potter was sentenced yesterday.  Hennepin County Judge Regina Chu sentenced Potter to a total of 24 months, 16 months to be spent in prison, and 8 months on ‘supervised release’.  Murder. Racism.  16 months in prison.  Oh, but wait … Ms. Potter is white, so she gets a slap on the wrist.  If she were Black and her victim had been white, what do you think the sentence would have been?

It started as a traffic stop last April.  20-year-old Duante Wright called his mother and told her he expected they had stopped him for the air fresheners he had dangling from his rear-view mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota.  But, when police checked his license, they discovered that he had an outstanding warrant or warrants, so they attempted to take him into custody.  Given the fact he was only 20 years old, I’m guessing those warrants weren’t serious enough to end his life over.  Mr. Wright jumped back into his vehicle and as he was attempting to drive off, Officer Kim Potter, a 25-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, drew her gun and shot him through the window of his vehicle.  The vehicle travelled for a few blocks before coming to a stop after striking another vehicle, but Duante Wright was already dead.

Now, Ms. Potter tried to say that she thought she had taken her taser, not her pistol, from her belt and that was the entire basis for her defense – that it was an accident.  But consider this:  Potter had been on the Minneapolis police force for 25 years and surely knew the difference in the looks and feel of a taser vs a pistol!  I, who have never touched either a taser or a pistol could tell the difference at a glance!

The one on top is a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol, the one on the bottom is a taser.  Tasers are most often in bright colours to avoid just such an ‘accident’ as Ms. Potter claimed to have made.  Pistols weigh significantly more than tasers.  AND … for her entire 25 years on the police force, Ms. Potter had followed the protocol that the pistol is worn on the dominant side, in this case her right side, and the taser on the opposite side.  After 25 years she suddenly ‘forgot’???  Give me a break … I wasn’t born yesterday!  But apparently Judge Chu was.

If Duante Wright had been white, in all likelihood he would still be alive today, but he committed the crime of being a Black male.  And if Ms. Potter had been Black, she would likely be spending the next 20 years in prison.  Still want to tell me there is no racism in our system of ‘justice’?

It’s still a damn pandemic!

Let’s make something clear right now … COVID IS STILL A PANDEMIC!  Yes, I trust Dr. Fauci, but if he honestly believes that it’s time to remove mandates and other precautions, he is dead wrong.  Take a look at just the past 10 days’ death toll in the U.S.

Does that look to you as if Covid is gone???  A few months ago, it was predicted that we would reach one million deaths by the end of April … I’m thinking it looks more like by the middle of March at the current rate!  Look at the numbers and realize that these numbers represent HUMANS!  They are mothers, fathers, grandparents, neighbors, co-workers … they are not just numbers!

Every state in the U.S. has either lifted or will soon lift restrictions such as mask and vaccine mandates.  WHY???  Because there is tremendous pressure from the fools who claim Covid is a hoax, or that their right to ‘personal freedom’ is more important than our lives!

Please, friends, despite the foolishness that apparently rules here in the U.S., continue to wear your mask, avoid crowds, and if you haven’t already, get the damn vaccines!  Be smart, be safe, care about your family, friends and co-workers.

Whose Freedom — Yours Or Ours???

It’s puzzling to me … the variety of ways that people view ‘freedom.’  The United States is considered a relatively free nation, but that doesn’t mean that people living here can do as they damn well please.  The same is true of Canada … yes, the people are free in most every important way, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rules.  The rules in the U.S., Canada, and most every other western nation are put into place to protect people, the ‘greater good’ as we tend to think of it.  For example, there are speed limits on highways to keep people safe, and there are age requirements for such things as a driving license, drinking alcohol, etc., all intended to keep us safe. Childhood vaccines keep our children safe in schools and rules against smoking in public keep us all safe in public venues.  But some things are less clear, though common sense should rule but often fails to.

In early 2020, a global pandemic hit most nations including the United States, and safety measures were quickly put into place in an attempt to protect everyone from this deadly illness.  Many states closed all non-essential businesses and implemented travel restrictions, restrictions on gatherings, and mask mandates.  Most people respected and observed these measures – sure, we may have grumbled a bit, but we could plainly see, despite the lies told by then-president Trump, that this pandemic was serious and was taking people’s lives, so we did the right thing.  Most of us, anyway.

Quickly, in the grand scheme of things, a vaccine was developed, tested, and proven effective against the coronavirus.  The vaccine was rolled out at record speed, and everyone was happy to do their part and be vaccinated, yes?  Wishful thinking.  In fact now, a year or so after the first vaccines were administered, there is still some 30% of the population in the U.S. that are, by their own choice, unvaccinated.  They claim that they have the ‘freedom’ to choose whether to be vaccinated or not.  On the surface, this almost sounds reasonable except … these people walk among us.  They go to work and risk exposing their co-workers, their children go to school, often without masks, and take a chance on infecting their schoolmates.  They go into public venues such as grocery stores, libraries, restaurants, tobacco shops and more, again without masks, and risk the lives of any they come in contact with.  Why?  Because they claim it is an infringement on their ‘personal freedom’ to expect them to be vaccinated.  Some, like the ignominious Sarah Palin, have even said they would choose death over the vaccine.

In my book, these people have no understanding of what personal freedom is. You cannot live in and be a part of a society if you have no care for the other members of that society.  You cannot take without giving.  When, by exercising that which you mistakenly believe is your ‘right,’ you put other people at risk for serious disease and possibly even death, then you have effectively pointed a loaded gun at them.

Unfortunately, some members of one of the two main political parties in the U.S. appears to be on the side of people’s ‘personal freedom’ over other people’s lives.  Certain Republicans in Congress have voiced a desire to see a trucker’s convoy to protest mask mandates similar to the one that has disrupted life in Ottawa, Canada, happen in the U.S.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has expressed his ‘thoughts’ on the Canadian convoy …

“I’m all for it. Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates. I hope the truckers do come to America, and I hope they clog up cities.”

Specifically, he said he hoped they disrupted the Super Bowl that was played in Los Angeles yesterday (they didn’t) and that they would go to Washington D.C. on the day of President Biden’s State of the Union Address scheduled for March 1st.   Interestingly, Senator Paul’s idea of freedom apparently only applies to people with white skin, for he gave no such support to Black Lives Matter protests after the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others by police. He referred to those protestors as ‘thugs’ and a ‘crazed mob.’  They were protesting vicious murders by the very people we pay to keep us safe, and Rand Paul called them ‘thugs,’ yet he praises those who would disrupt the entire country both physically and economically because they are told to wear a mask in public and get a little vaccine that doesn’t even hurt!  Paul had the poor taste to joke about a potential trucker’s convoy, saying, “It’d be nice change. We’d actually have some traffic.”

The Department of Homeland Security distributed a bulletin to law enforcement agencies warning that a convoy of protesting truckers will potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in D.C. as late as mid-March.  And all of this because some people are so selfish that they consider it a burden to protect their own health as well as that of their friends, co-workers, and families.  This is not ‘freedom,’ my friends, this is greedy, arrogant ignorance.

The Virus and Abortion

Our friend Nan’s post today is spot on. One cannot simply cherry-pick one’s freedoms … if you believe in the freedom to control your own body, then you must also believe in MY freedom to control my own body. Good post, Nan … Thanks!

Nan's Notebook

Does anyone else see the correlation between those who reject COVID-19 vaccinations and those who supportAbortion?

Again and again the anti-vaxxers scream that it’s their PERSONAL RIGHT to reject the vaccine and/or to go maskless. They will frequently provide examples where they attended maskless gatherings of friends … “and no one contracted the virus!”

For some, it has become so important for them to “exercise their rights” (e.g., the Canadian truckers) that they lose all empathy for anyone who might be negatively impacted. Indeed, many are so adamant about enforcing their personal choice that they have physically attacked others and even disrupted public gatherings where masks were required. One individual even encouraged an armed attack against those who supported masks and/or vaccines!

Yet in many cases, these same individuals will attempt to take away a WOMAN’s right to seek an abortion. Even though it is as much HER RIGHT to…

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