Good People Doing Good Things — Ms. Shirley Raines

Well, well, well … we made it to another Wednesday, and I don’t know about you guys, but I’m more than ready to hear about some good people for a change!  First, though, I think it is worth noting that the pandemic brought out the goodness in at least some people, and charitable donations were up in 2020 by 5% over and above those of 2019!  Last year, an estimated $471.44 billion was donated to charities around the nation, making 2020 the highest year of charitable giving on record!  Just goes to show what I’ve been saying for a few years now – there are lots ‘n lots of good people out there.


I am focusing on just one very good person today, for her story is worth telling and hearing.  She is Ms. Shirley Raines, who is giving her all to helping the homeless in a 50-block section of Los Angeles, California, referred to as Skid Row.  Even before the pandemic hit last year, causing both health and economic crises, the nation’s homeless population was already on the rise.  Now, more than a year after the last official population count, many of those working with homeless communities believe numbers are much higher.  Says Ms. Raines …

“I would estimate we’ve got about 8,000 people who are sleeping out on the streets or in some of the shelters. There are more women on the street than before. The resources had dried up.”

Ms. Raines has known hardship and her early adult life was not a happy one.  In 1990, when she was only 20 years old, her 2-year-old son, Demetrius, was living with Shirley’s grandmother, for she was struggling and finding it difficult to take care of him.  Sadly, he found some of the grandmother’s medication, tried it out, and later died in the hospital on September 6th, 1990.  Shortly thereafter, Raines lost both her grandmother and Demetrius’ biological father and felt all alone in the world.

“I blamed myself for not having stability. If only I’d had my own backyard. If only I’d had my stuff together.  I just fell apart. I lived a very unhappy life. I couldn’t keep anything together. I’m telling you, anything that I could do to get myself out of this planet, this world, I tried it. And I’m still here, you know? And I’m like, ‘What is this about?'”

After struggling with anxiety and panic disorder for decades, it was Raines’ twin sister who stepped in, urging Raines to find a purpose for her pain.  That purpose came in 2017 when Raines joined a church group on a feeding mission.

“I went to Skid Row, I’m like, ‘Oh, this is where all the broken people are? Oh, I’ve been looking for y’all all my life. I never wanted to leave. It’s a place where people have amazing hearts, but nobody can see it because they can’t see the forest for the trees.”

At first, Raines, who sports brightly colored hair and makeup, passed out clothing, food, and water. But when several Skid Row residents complimented her appearance, she offered to do their hair and makeup.

“I started with the Trans community. They were telling me that no one would give them women’s clothes because they were men. I’m like, ‘Girl, I’ll bring you some women’s clothes. I’ll bring wigs, I’ll bring you eyelashes.'”

Early on, Raines teamed up with a community group of motorcycle enthusiasts called ‘Fighters for The World MC’ who accompany her on Skid Row to provide safety and structure.

“They’re like big brothers. A lot of the homeless would get lost. They couldn’t find us, but they learned to follow the sounds of the bikes.”

As Raines’ efforts evolved into a full-scale operation, with music playing and lines forming around the block, she began providing more supplies and essentials: rape whistles, tents, sleeping bags, hygiene items — and she teamed up with local health officials to offer more services.

Heidi Behforouz, medical director for Housing for Health, a program of the L.A. County Department of Health Services, has worked with Raines on the streets and says, “she is giving people hope, a break, dignity, some fun … just reminding us that we’re all human.”

Before the pandemic, Raines was making 400 meals a week in her one-bedroom apartment kitchen in Long Beach and driving three times a week to Downtown Los Angeles to feed and bring supplies to people.  Then, as Covid-19 affected many organizations’ efforts, services dried up. But Raines pivoted, opting for bagged lunches and a tweaked schedule — and she kept going.

“When I went out there, it was like a scene from The Walking Dead. All the resources had stopped. People stopped coming to feed. People were starving. Some people had socks tied around their face, around their nose.”

Raines struggled to find enough drinking water and food to purchase, so she appealed to her followers over social media who stepped up with donations and supplies.  Raines struggled to find enough drinking water and food to purchase, so she appealed to her followers over social media who stepped up with donations and supplies.

In tandem with the health department, which provided masks, sanitizer and PPE, Raines said her group and other L.A. County non-profits and community projects worked tirelessly to serve the unseen community.

“We just had to use our best judgment and figure out some ways to still keep them fed, while keeping them safe, and while keeping us safe.”

Today, as vaccination rates are on the rise and a sense of normality is returning, Raines is offering help by way of food and supplies twice a week and expanding partnerships with local groups to let this often-overlooked population know there is hope.  Ms. Raines group now consists of about 20 volunteers and the motorcycle group are still with them, helping to organize supplies and meals.


I took my information from CNN Heroes, for Ms. Raines has been nominated a 2021 Hero, but if you would like to learn more about her and her organization, here is an excellent article in People that I wish I had seen sooner.

Filosofa Is Snarking … AGAIN!

Just once I would like to wake up with a smile instead of a scowl on my face.  Just once I would like to get through an entire day without referring to certain of our ‘public servants’ as the scum of the earth pusilánime bastardos tirón con cara!  I thought that once we rid ourselves of the maniacal former guy, life would settle, but it seems that certain elements (whose salaries we pay) are determined to kill us with either ulcers or heart failure!  Hence I am still the Queen of Snark as my dear friend Ellen calls me, forever writing snarky snippets …


If you can’t trust the judge …

In my Sunday post titled “We Have Met The Enemy” I wrote about U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez who had struck down California’s 30+ year ban on assault weapons, comparing the AR-15 to a Swiss army knife.   There are a few extra details to that story, one that stands out for being a boldfaced lie.  In his 90-page opinion on this case, Benitez wrote …

“The evidence described so far proves that the ‘harm’ of an assault rifle being used in a mass shooting is an infinitesimally rare event. More people have died from the Covid-19 vaccine than mass shootings in California.”

Not, mind you, that more people have died from the disease, but that more people have died from the vaccine, which to put it bluntly, is NOT TRUE!  Such claims often come with citations to back them up, but Benitez offers none, probably because there isn’t one.  It’s bad enough that for the past four years we have had a president who lied to us at every turn, every day.  It’s bad enough that we cannot trust the people we send to Congress to be honest.  But when a f*cking federal judge out and out lies, then I’ve had ENOUGH!

A bit of history on Judge Benitez

When Benitez was nominated in 2003 by then-President George W. Bush, the American Bar Association deemed him ‘not qualified’.  California lawyer Richard M. Macias, writing for the committee, said …

“All too frequently, while on the bench, Judge Benitez is arrogant, pompous, condescending, impatient, short-tempered, rude, insulting, bullying, unnecessarily mean, and altogether lacking in people skills.”

The California Attorney General has promised to appeal Benitez’ ruling, and I hope the state wins on appeal.  But we do not need judges like Benitez!  We need judges who are fair and even-tempered … Benitez is neither of those things.


Dr. Fauci is NOT the enemy!

Dr. Anthony Fauci has dedicated his life to medical science and to the people of this nation.  In return, he is being vilified, his ouster from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), an institute within the National Institute of Health (NIH), is being called for by numerous members of Congress, including my own ignoble representative Warren Davidson.  Why?  Because as a result of a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA), Dr. Fauci’s emails have been made public.  Okay, no big deal … except that there are certain people in this country who would rather create a conspiracy theory by taking statements out of context and making up crap to try to eviscerate Dr. Fauci.

Among those are the right-wing conspiracy-based television networks such as Fox, OANN, and Newsmax, but also certain members of Congress such as Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and others … you might notice it is all on the Republican side, for they are the ones who simply cannot resist a good bedtime story with either a wicked witch or an evil wolf!

These networks and their ‘guests’ have concocted a brand-new conspiracy theory that almost tops Margie Greene’s fake story about space lasers setting last year’s California wildfires.  The newest one is that Dr. Fauci and President Barack Obama approved and funded a program whereby the coronavirus (Covid-19) was deliberately engineered to infect people.  To what end they haven’t said, but you know that the fools on the right side of the aisle in Congress have jumped right onto this bandwagon!  Hawley, Cruz, Rubio, Davidson and others who are a bit intellectually deficient have called for Fauci to be fired immediately but wait … it gets even worse.

Don Junior … you remember him, the hanger-on eldest son that Trump never much liked … has decided now that Fauci might be murdered … and he f*cking laughed about it!  Now, every damn Trump supporter in this country owns at least a few guns, probably assault rifles among their collection.  And you know damn good and well that at least a few of them will take Junior’s words to heart, take it as a ‘call to action’, so to speak.

Dr. Fauci is 80 years old, has served this nation valiantly, and even put up with Trump throughout the first year of the pandemic … a feat that should earn him a medal of valour!  I have the utmost respect for and trust in Dr. Fauci, unlike those congressional boobs who wouldn’t know a virus if it smacked them upside the head.  If anything happens to Dr. Fauci, I will personally contribute to his family to help with the lawsuit that they will no doubt bring against Junior and the members of Congress who lied so abominably.


And speaking of brainless Republican lawmakers …

… There’s Mo Brooks, representative in the U.S. Congress from the state of … you guessed it … Alabama.  Alabama and Mississippi are the two most backwater states in the nation, so it should come as no surprise that Mr. Brooks and his wife aren’t heavy in the intellect department.

Mo was one of Trump’s biggest boot-lickers, and when it became clear that Trump had lost the 2020 election ‘bigly’, Mo was among the first to jump on that “voter fraud” bandwagon.  Brooks was the first member of Congress to announce his objection to the certification of the Electoral College results on January 6th and harshly criticized other Republicans in Congress for not aiding him in his efforts to overturn the election.

Well … over the weekend, Mr. Brooks was served with notice of a lawsuit filed by U.S. Representative Eric Swalwell of California, charging Brooks with ‘instigating violence’.  In part, the complaint by Swalwell reads …

“The peaceful transfer of power is a sacrament of American democracy. Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., his advisor Rudy Giuliani, and Congressman Mo Brooks, together with many others, defiled that sacrament through a campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric which led to the sacking of the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021.”

Swalwell’s legal team had had difficulty serving Brooks and hired a private investigator to give him the papers, according to court filings.  Mo wasn’t home when the investigator showed up with papers in hand, so he left the papers with Mo’s wife, Martha.  Apparently, ol’ Mo wasn’t too happy ‘bout that and is going batshit crazy, claiming on Twitter …

“Well, Swalwell FINALLY did his job, served complaint (on my WIFE). HORRIBLE Swalwell’s team committed a CRIME by unlawfully sneaking INTO MY HOUSE & accosting my wife!”

Whoa, dude!  Accosting her?  Sneaking in?  I think not.  Long story short, nobody broke into Mo’s house or accosted his wife … why would they?

Mo & Wifey

Since the U.S. Senate, coerced by Mitch McConnell, has denied We the People the right to an investigation to determine exactly WHO was involved on the attack on our Congress on January 6th and in what capacity, We the People, at least those of us with functional brains, will support Eric Swalwell and others who are trying to get to the bottom of January 6thWe the People want (and have a Constitutional right) to know who helped fund and incite the attacks, we want to rid ourselves of the vermin still residing in the Capitol.  We know that Mo Brooks is one of the worst offenders and it is only right that he answer for his role in the events of that horrific day.

FACTS Matter And Ignorance Is NOT Bliss

Truth is not subjective!  Truth is based on facts.  Period.  Fact:  the sugar bowl on my kitchen counter is in the shape of a strawberry.  That is not disputable by any reasonable mind who has ever seen my sugar bowl … or a strawberry.

Today, however, there are people who will argue any point, even when a thousand facts have been presented by credible, well-respected experts.  Take, for example, climate change.

97% – 98% of all climate scientists worldwide support the consensus on human-caused climate change, and yet there are people who will tell you it’s all a hoax.  A HOAX???  For some, it is a matter only of ignorance, for they do not understand the difference between climate and weather.  For others, it is a matter of Terminal Stupidity for they believe what their favourite politicians tell them despite all the facts to the contrary.  Those favourite politicians take their marching orders from the heads of such companies as Exxon Mobil (oil company) and Murray Energy (coal company) because those are the CEOs that are lining the politicians’ pockets.  As of 2020, 88% of Democrats believe that climate change presents a major threat, while only 31% of Republicans believe it. The facts are there for all to see … melting icecaps, rising sea levels, rising temperatures, prolonged droughts, more severe and frequent tropical storms, and more.  How can anybody deny the science here?

And speaking of science, conspiracy theories and lies abound in Republican circles about the coronavirus pandemic and the vaccine.  Even though it is a fact that more than 600,000 people have died in the U.S. alone and 3.5 million have died worldwide as a result of the coronavirus, there are still those who thumb their nose, refuse to wear a mask, and are refusing the vaccine, saying it infringes on their ‘right’.  And yes, once again, the majority of those are Republicans.  A poll taken last month shows that 45% of Republicans say they will not be vaccinated.  One of the leading Republican conspiracy theories making the rounds is that the coronavirus pandemic is a cover for a plan to implant trackable microchips via the vaccine, and that the Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it.  This one ranks right up there with the Pizzagate conspiracy theory that claimed Hillary Clinton was running a sex trafficking ring in the basement of a pizza parlour. That one almost got people killed … the vaccine refusal will absolutely get people killed, perhaps innocent (not Republican) people.

And then there is that Big Lie that says the former one-term, twice-impeached guy actually won the election for president in 2020, despite the fact that not one single shred of evidence exists to support that lie.  In fact, every bit of evidence proves that President Biden won the election by more than 7 million votes!  And, if you want to talk about election facts, that former guy was never the legitimate president of the United States, for he LOST the 2016 election by nearly 3 million votes!  But, due to a little thing known as the Electoral College and gerrymandering, that really boils down to racist cheating, he was allowed access to the Oval Office and spent four years there tearing down instead of building up.  A national poll conducted just last week shows that fully 53% of Republicans still believe that the former guy is the “true president” now.  61% of Republicans believe the election was “stolen” from the former guy.  My jaw drops every time I see these figures … how in the Sam Hell can anybody be so bloomin’ stupid???

For more than four years, I have made every effort not to paint Republicans with a broad brush, not to lump them all in together, and not to label them, but I can no longer continue that effort.  Every single thing I am seeing today tells me two things:  Republican politicians are as corrupt as they come, they would rather rob us of our rights than lose their power; and the majority of Republican voters are just plain ignorant, not bothering to dig a bit for a few facts, but instead content to believe everything they hear on Fox ‘News’ and out of the mouths of such blathering idiots as Margie Taylor Greene, Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz, and others.  They say that ‘ignorance is bliss’ … and it may well be for the ignorant, but their bliss is quite literally killing the rest of us. Sorry, Republicans, but respect is earned and you have lost my respect by your ignorance, by the danger you are putting us all in with your ignorance.  If you want respect, get up off your arses and educate yourselves, try studying a few facts, and using your brain.  Earn that respect.

A Few Coronavirus Thoughts …

With some 156.2 million people in the U.S. partly or fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, there is much to be pleased about.  That is, after all, nearly half the population of the country.  But wait … it’s not quite time for cheering and bow-taking just yet, for there are still the other half that are not yet vaccinated.  A large number say it infringes on their “rights” and they do not plan on being vaccinated.  Others are still convinced by the conspiracy theories that the pandemic is a hoax, or that the vaccine is the government’s way of implanting a microchip in their body, though for what purpose is anybody’s guess.

The bottom line is that while at one point last month, 100,000 were being vaccinated every day, the number has slowed down significantly, and many states are requesting that the government send them less than originally requested.  I have a couple of points to make about the current status quo.

First, the State of Ohio, a state that is withholding the extra $300 per month in federal unemployment benefits passed by Congress and signed by the President as the American Rescue Plan, is now planning to use those funds to establish a lottery to bribe people to get vaccinated.  Yes, you heard me right.  Rather than use the money for the purpose for which it was intended – helping people buy groceries, pay bills, seek medical treatment – it will be spent to award five $1 million prizes to people who get the vaccine in five weekly drawings beginning on May 26th. Talk about a reverse Robin Hood — taking money away from those in need and giving it to those who will never again struggle to buy food, if they ever did. We have to PAY people to protect their own health???  What the hell is the matter with people???  Meanwhile, struggling families will still be facing unpaid rent and utility bills, and wondering how they will feed their children.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine

This is not and never was the purpose of those funds!  Governor Mike DeWine, who I have long considered to be one of the saner, more moderate Republican governors, made the announcement in a speech last Wednesday and seemed quite pleased with himself.  I find it abhorrent that he’s playing a lottery game with people’s lives, and I strongly suspect his decision to redirect funds that were supposed to be used to help the unemployed survive, to providing a financial windfall for just five people is illegal.  Remember folks, this is federal money, so your tax dollars are in play here!  In addition, he has said that he would be lifting all health orders that were enacted during the pandemic on June 2, except for those affecting nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.  That includes the mask mandate, social distancing rules for bars and restaurants, and more.  Which brings me to my second point.

The CDC suddenly reversed course and said that it is no longer necessary for those who are fully vaccinated to wear a mask in public venues.  I think this is the height of stupidity for a number of reasons.  First, how can you tell who has been fully vaccinated at a glance.  You can’t.  Republicans have been running around sans mask whenever they could get by with it since day one, and we all know there are many who will simply shed the mask whether vaccinated or not.  Second, over just the past two days, there have been 65,000 new cases reported in the U.S.  Granted, that number is significantly smaller than it was a few months ago, but 65,000 is nothing to sneeze at, either.  I may not be as bright as the scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but when I hear we’re still averaging over 30,000 new cases each day, then I know the virus is not gone, is not ‘under control’.

So, what happens in the coming few weeks when every Tom, Dick and Harry sheds his mask and goes back to living a ‘normal’ life, frequenting bars, restaurants, amusement parks, sitting within inches of others, nobody wearing a mask?  Take a wild guess?  Yep, the number of cases will rise, the number of deaths will rise, and we’ll be halfway back to square one.

I have as much difficulty wearing a mask as anyone.  Last week, I wore one for 20 minutes and almost passed out for lack of oxygen.  But I will continue to mostly stay home, go only to the grocery store once a week with a mask on my nose and mouth, and a bottle of hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in one hand.  If I can nearly die of suffocation from wearing a mask but do it anyway, then surely the rest of the fools in this country can wear one too.

I saw a comment on Twitter yesterday where a guy said “I will continue wearing a mask in public, because I don’t want to be mistaken for a Republican.  That would be so embarrassing.”  I have to agree with him.

Look, people, I think President Biden and his team have done one hell of a good job getting the vaccine where it is needed, encouraging the public, but the truth is we are not out of the woods yet.  Let common sense be your guide, please.  Remember that there are a number of new variants out there, and it has not yet been determined whether the current vaccines are fully effective on each of them.  Oh, and yes, I will be getting the vaccine soon, along with my granddaughter, and no, I will not enter that damn illegal lottery!  They can keep their blood money.

GOP Wants You to Think Americans Don’t Want to Work

The GOP, the Party of Crooks and Liars, has a new theory that unemployment benefits have made people too lazy to work, hence companies paying only minimum wages cannot find workers. Some states are actually in the process of cutting off employment benefits! For several days now, I have been growling under my breath about this, but hadn’t gotten around to writing about it yet. Jeff, however, was more on-the-ball than I was and has done such an excellent job on this that I will simply share his, for his views reflect my own.

On The Fence Voters


There’s enough uncertainty around these days to drive us all crazy. But there’s one thing you can count on as sure as the rising sun: The GOP’s continued assault on the character of the American people. To hear them tell it, we’re nothing but a bunch of lazy, entitled takers.

In case you haven’t heard, we’re slowly coming out of the worst pandemic in a century. Our lives have been turned upside down in every which way imaginable. Lives were lost, people got sick, kids couldn’t go to school. On and on I could go. The year 2020 will go down in infamy as one of the worst on record.

And the economy was, of course, one of the biggest losers as far as how the pandemic played out. We lost 20 million jobs during the peak of the lockdowns back in April of last year. Slowly but surely, we’re…

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Only Two Very Snarky Snippets

There are days when I feel there is a large contingent of people in this nation that truly do not have functional brains.  No, none of you, dear readers, but others seem not to understand this concept of rights being accompanied by responsibilities.  I’ve long said that my rights end where they begin to infringe on somebody else’s, but in the United States today, that concept has flown out the window!  I often feel these last few years that this country, has gone, as my grandpa used to say, “to hell in a handbasket!”


2nd Amendment freaks!

When I first heard a day or two ago that Texas has passed legislation that would end the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns, I thought surely this must be wrong … how can Texas do such a lunatic thing?  It would mean no background checks would be done, no license to even know who owns what guns.  But, a bit of research shows me that … Texas would not be the first state to enact such a lunatic law!  The bill has passed both chambers of the Texas legislature and Governor Abbott has already said he would sign it, so it’s pretty much a done deal … all over except the shootings, the tears, the useless ‘thoughts and prayers’.

The following states, for example, to not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Iowa (as of July 1, 2021)
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota (residents only and concealed carry only)
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee (as of July 1, 2021)
  • Utah (as of May 5, 2021 for concealed carry only)
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming (for open carry and concealed carry for residents only. Concealed carry will be legal for all legal U.S. residents as of July 1, 2021.)Source

This means that in those states, people who have never passed a background check, who may be child molestors or domestic abusers, may have serious mental health issues, are walking around with guns in their pockets.  Is this not the craziest thing???  Is it any wonder people are opening fire in grocery stores, on the streets, and at birthday parties?  If I lived in any of those states, I would never leave my home, and nobody would ever be allowed in!  In fact, I’d move!

This nation has gone way too far off the rails when it comes to guns.  The 2nd Amendment that the gun nuts love so much was never intended to be abused in this way.  The Founding Fathers would be horrified to see what a mockery we have made of the 2nd Amendment, how it has been so badly and intentionally mis-interpreted over the years.  I blame the gun manufacturers who put their own greed above our lives; I blame the NRA who have riled the masses, told them blatant lies about what the 2nd Amendment intended, and then bought and paid for members of Congress, largely Republicans, in order to ensure that no sensible gun legislation can ever pass;  I blame those same members of Congress; and lastly I blame the fools and idiots in this country who think their right to own a lethal toy supersedes our right to safety.

Is it any wonder that people in every other nation on earth look at the United States and laugh at what bloody fools we are?  No, it is not.  Were it in my power, I would take every gun in the hands of private citizens and throw them into the ocean!  Enough said … my blood pressure just hit a new record high and I must calm down now.

For more information on state-by-state gun laws, or more appropriately lack of gun laws, check out Wikipedia.


And speaking of really, really stupid laws …

You have no further to look than Florida, where it is now against the law to ask employees or customers if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.  This is ridiculous and is a tremendous disservice to both employees and customers!

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed executive orders canceling all Covid-related restrictions for the entire state, including mandates for facemasks and rules limiting capacity in public places. At the same time, he also signed into law legislation prohibiting vaccine passport requirements in the state.  Said the guv …

“This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses. In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”

It should come as no surprise that, per an ABC News report just two days ago …

“Variant COVID-19 infections skyrocketed following spring break in Florida and there have been more than 10,000 variant cases reported throughout the state, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported based on data from the Florida Department of Health.”

In addition to all the lives DeSantis has put at risk with his greed and foolishness, Florida may well have another reason to regret this foolishness, as some cruise lines are already considering moving their business out of Florida.  Most cruise lines require proof of vaccinating from both employees and customers.  This isn’t discriminatory, it is for public safety, for Pete’s Sake!  Do you want to be in close quarters for days on end with somebody who may not show symptoms but may have the coronavirus?  I don’t!  At least one company, Norwegian Cruise Line, has made its position clear when CEO Frank Del Rio said …

“That’s an issue, but at the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and god forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from. And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would’ve gone to Florida.”

I would bet money that other cruise ship companies will feel the same, for I seriously doubt they want all the lawsuits that could evolve as a result of just one infected passenger or employee.


And now, Filosofa is done ranting and I shall return you to your regularly scheduled programming …

American Winter – what poverty looks like (a reprise from 2013)

Please take 5 minutes to read Keith’s timely reminder about those less fortunate than many of us. We cannot simply ignore the fact that there are many working poor and homeless people who only need a helping hand from us. Thank you, Keith!

musingsofanoldfart

The following post was written eight years ago, but unfortunately still applies today. Our situation has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, where too many small employers had to close their doors. Some of the observations come from my volunteer work to help homeless working families.If you only have a minute, read the next to last two paragraphs, which speak volumes of why we should help.

There is an excellent documentary on HBO called “American Winter” by Joe Gantz which trackseight Portland families who are struggling in this economy. Please check it out atwww.hbo.com/documentaries/american-winter. This documentary puts a face on poverty and shows what these families are dealing with during the economic crisis. Since Ivolunteer with an agency that helps homeless families, I can assure you the problems portrayed in Portland arein evidence inNorth Carolina and elsewhere in the United States. For example, the median family income…

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Beyond Salvation?

As far as I can tell, today’s Republican Party has no actual platform, no ideologies of its own, but instead is simply against anything that Democrats support, and vice versa.  What the former guy did to that which was once recognizable as a legitimate party with actual views, has left a party that is no longer in control of its senses.  Max Boot, writing for The Washington Post, shows us just how low the Republican Party has gone, and one must question whether there is a future for the party outside of conspiracy theories, racism, incoherent rants and obfuscation.


The Republican Party is beyond salvation — even without Trump

Opinion by 

Max Boot

Columnist

April 20, 2021 at 1:05 p.m. EDT

That was a very telling comment that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) posted on Twitter last week. He noted that tweets from President Biden’s account “are limited and, when they come, unimaginably conventional” and that his “public comments are largely scripted.” In Cornyn’s mind, this “invites the question: is he really in charge?

On one level, this shows a senior Republican senator — someone who is seen as a staid establishmentarian — trying to spread smarmy insinuations that the president has lost his marbles and is being manipulated by shadowy leftists. That’s an article of faith on the conspiratorial far right that has now migrated to the mainstream despite the total lack of any substantiating evidence. When called out by Chris Wallace on Fox News, Cornyn retreated to the usual, despicable defense of conspiracy theorists: “I simply asked a question.” I didn’t say the moon landing was faked — I was only asking if it was!

But what is even more disturbing about Cornyn’s tweet is the upside-down assumption that it’s normal for a president to spew deranged, ungrammatical, abusive tweets — and that there is something wrong with a president who refuses to do so. Most people thought that President Donald Trump’s tweets were bonkers — but for a large portion of the GOP, they have now become the standard by which his successors will be judged. Republicans have gone down the rabbit hole where sanity and sobriety are inexplicable and indeed suspicious.

This is a sign of how the Republican Party is adjusting to post-Trump life. It has embraced Trumpism without Trump. This is not really a set of policy preferences; the GOP in 2020 passed on a platform beyond allegiance to the Orange Emperor’s whims. It is more of a mindless, obnoxious attitude — it’s all about “owning the libs,” spreading conspiracy theories, and waging culture wars as a way to rile up the rabid base and keep the cash register ringing.

Three of the major tenets of the Trumpified GOP have been on public view the past week — if you can bear to watch.

Hostility to science: Watch the video of Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) yapping at Anthony S. Fauci, one of the nation’s leading infectious-disease experts, like an enraged chihuahua. “Dr. Fauci, when is the time?” Jordan kept asking. He wanted to know when it was “time to pull back on masking” and “physical distancing.” “When do Americans get their freedoms back? … What is low enough? Give me a number.” Fauci tried to explain that restrictions could be lifted as infection rates got lower. But for Jordan, this had nothing to do with eliciting information — it was all about showing his contempt for a leading scientist and demonstrating that he is much more exercised about prudent public health restrictions than about a virus that has already killed more than 567,000 Americans. It’s no surprise that vaccination rates are lower in counties that Trump won than in counties that voted for Biden.

Racism: Some of the most pro-Trump members of the House tried last week to start an America First Caucus. “White People First” is more like it: Their manifesto declared that “America is a nation with a border, and a culture, strengthened by a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions. History has shown that societal trust and political unity are threatened when foreign citizens are imported en-masse into a country.” There was so much blowback that the America Firsters backed off. But, as my colleague Aaron Blake notes, the white supremacist “replacement theory” — which claims that shadowy elites are importing people of color to replace native-born Whites — has gained wide adherence in the GOP. It has been pushed recently by everyone from Fox News’s Tucker Carlson to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who recently wondered (there’s that question again!) if Democrats “want to remake the demographics of America to ensure — that they stay in power forever.”

Authoritarianism: The Big Lie has become Republican orthodoxy — just like tax cuts and conservative judges. Polls show that 78 percent of Republicans don’t think Biden legitimately won and 51 percent say Congress “did not go far enough” to support “Trump’s efforts to overturn the election.” Little wonder that so many 2022 aspirants — including leading Republican Senate candidates in Ohio, Alabama, Missouri and North Carolina — are pushing the falsehood of the stolen election. The willingness to deny the election outcome — and thereby to reject democracy itself — has become the new litmus test for Republican primary voters.

This is by no means the whole of the GOP — but the Trumpy wing is by far the most vocal, militant and important. The “mainstream,” by contrast, is weak, vacillating and uncertain. Former House speaker John A. Boehner is a case in point: He denounces the “crazies” who have taken over, but he admits that in 2020 he voted for Trump — the leader of the crazies — because “I thought that his policies, by and large, mirrored the policies that I believed in.”

As I’ve said before, this is a party that is beyond salvation. I just wish Republicans didn’t insist on proving that bleak judgment right with dismaying regularity.

From The Mind Of Filosofa

Today I have so many thoughts on a variety of topics rattling around in my old head that I thought I’d share some of them with you.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m still reeling from all the shootings last week and over the weekend.  So many things have gone wrong in this country over the past 4+ years, some I fear will never be reparable, such as the gun culture, but not only that.  I was watching a clip a few days ago of Congressman Jim Jordan literally browbeating Dr. Anthony Fauci, accusing him of “robbing Americans of their civil liberties”, yelling at him, interrupting him, gesticulating wildly, and demanding an exact date when people could stop wearing masks, stop social distancing, etc.  My thoughts were that this is not the way a professional lawmaker behaves!  Finally, Representative Maxine Waters told Jordan to “shut your mouth”, which I found very appropriate under the circumstances, but now the most unqualified member of Congress, Marjorie Greene, has made a motion to have Ms. Waters expelled from Congress for what she said to Jordan.  This, my friends, is just one example of the lack of intelligence and professionalism in certain of today’s members of Congress.

Then, I saw a question posed by a friend on Twitter:  Why do people who refuse the vaccine because they believe their god will protect them, think they must own a gun?  Think about that one for a few minutes.

This country has many problems today, perhaps more than at any other time in its history, and the gun culture is in the top five.  Worse yet, as long as a vast majority of congressional republicans are in the pockets of the gun lobby, ie NRA, this isn’t going to change.  They will obfuscate even policies that 80% of the people in this country support, in order to keep their donors happy.  This is not what we elect and pay these people for, and we are being cheated on a daily basis.  I have readers from all over the world, and those who are outside the U.S. are appalled by our gun culture.  Remember when the former guy called certain countries “shithole countries”?  Well, that’s how the U.S. is coming to be viewed around the globe.

There are those who would say that immigration and the economy are our biggest challenges today, but in my book, we have far greater problems.

Also in my top five is racism … and other forms of bigotry such as those who are intolerant of the LGBT community, those who believe men are superior to women, those who would demand that everyone follow their religion and that laws reflect their own beliefs and biases.  The blatant racism we see in police departments across the country is intolerable!  What’s worse is that it’s always been like this … we just didn’t see it.  The internet has placed such things under a large microscope, and we are just now awakening to the horrors that Black people have been living with … forever.

Then there’s our response … or lack thereof … to climate change in recent years.  Sure, there are many of us here who do our best to respect the environment, planting bee-friendly flowers, turning our thermostats down, driving less and driving fuel-efficient vehicles, but there are those who selfishly refuse to be inconvenienced.  Just yesterday I read an article by a woman who said we should support the fossil fuel industry, should not have re-joined the Paris Climate Accords, and basically argued that climate change is a hoax.  It seems to me that half the people in this country believe that way, are unwilling to make lifestyle changes in order to preserve this planet for their own grandchildren.

The majority of Republicans still believe the Big Lie, that the former guy won the 2020 election, despite all evidence to the contrary.  As long as that many people are that ignorant, they will continue voting for people like Marjorie Greene, Mitch McConnell, Jim Jordan and others who are intent on destroying what few democratic principles are left in this nation today.  And the votes of the few will outnumber the votes of the majority if the states are allowed to continue creating legislation that disenfranchises Blacks, Hispanics, the poor, the elderly, and the young.  If they have their way, our government will be elected only by white people of privilege.  The rest of us will become second-class citizens without a voice.

It is obvious to me that this nation is on a downhill path and the only hope for the future is for people to become educated about reality, to stop believing the myths and conspiracy theories that fill the airwaves 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on such places as Fox ‘News’, Twitter and Facebook.  Unless people wake up and learn to separate fact from fantasy, I don’t even want to think about what the U.S. will be twenty years from now.  Fortunately, I won’t be here to see it, but my daughter and granddaughter will, and millions of other people will have to live with the ‘legacy’ we are leaving them.

Did The Press Let Us Down? Yes.

I am a staunch supporter of the rights of the free press, for without a free press, we are subject to being held hostage by the lies and cruelty of a dictatorship.  However, in exchange for We the People supporting the free press, we have a right to expect them to give us facts, not fiction.  We have a right to expect that they will provide us with all the facts, not just the ones that sensationalize a story and bring them readers, aka profit.  Sure, there are the likes of Fox ‘News’ and Newsmax that exist for the sole purpose of providing right-wing conspiracy theories, but I’m talking about the legitimate press, what some refer to as the mainstream media.  Over the past decade, the press has let us down numerous times in a number of ways, but today’s example is one that could cost lives, as Eric Boehlert of Press Run tells us …


How the media botched the J&J vaccine “pause” story

Headlines matter

Eric Boehlert

Concerned about six rare and severe blood clot reactions out of nearly seven million Americans who have received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, the CDC and the FDA on Tuesday announced a sweeping pause of the immunization in order to investigate the handful of cases.

The J&J vaccine, with its single-dose regimen, currently represents less than five percent of the 100 million-plus vaccines that have been administered this year. The government has more than enough Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to hit the goal of 200 million shots by the end of the month, according to the White House.

Unfortunately for Tuesday’s J&J breaking news, crucial context was missing from most of the headlines. Instead of stressing that less than one in a million J&J shots had produced the troubling blood clot reaction, the press focused on “concerns” surrounding the “halt,”  and how the move “threatens to slow U.S. pandemic progress”:

  • “Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Halt Across Country After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge” (New York Times)
  • “CDC and FDA Recommend US Pause Use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns” (CNN)
  • “US Recommends ‘Pause’ For J&J Vaccine Over Clot Reports” (Associated Press)
  • “Pause of J&J Vaccine Threatens to Slow U.S. Pandemic Progress Amid Rising Caseload” (Washington Post)
  • “Stocks Wobble After J&J Vaccine Halted, Inflation Uptick” (Wall Street Journal)
  • “US Calls For Pause in Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Over Blood Clot Concerns” (ABC News)
  • “U.S. Recommends Pausing Use Of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Over Blood Clot Concerns” (NPR)

It would have been such a simple fix to include “six cases” in each of those headlines, or “extremely rare” in order to give the story crucial, factual context. It’s especially important to provide that full meaning during a public health crisis. Reading those headlines, people likely assumed there were hundreds if not thousands of cases that prompted the vaccine “pause.”

The key omission played into the hands of conservatives who work hard to raise doubts about the virus shots.

It’s true that news consumers who dug into the reports discovered how rare the vaccine-related blood clots were. But those consumers were likely in the minority. According to a  a 2016 study by computer scientists at Columbia University and the French National Institute, nearly 60 percent of links shared on social media have never actually been clicked. “People form an opinion based on a summary, or a summary of summaries, without making the effort to go deeper,” the chief researcher announced.

The J&J news also attracted lots of media attention speculating whether the halt would cause more people to not want to get vaccinated.

It was a bit ironic Tuesday to watch reporters repeatedly press White House officials at the daily media briefing about whether the J&J pause will increase vaccine hesitancy, while never addressing the role the press might play in that phenomenon. By repeatedly failing to put the J&J pause in proper context, specifically with headlines, news outlets bear some of the responsibility this week in pushing alarmist narratives that don’t match the facts.

The CDC and FDA move comes at a time when the conservative media have raised doubts about the vaccines and Republican voters, and white evangelicals in particular, have expressed disdain for getting vaccinated as the country tries to achieve herd immunity in order to return to normalcy. For that to happen, anywhere 75% to 85% of the total population — including children, who are not currently getting the shots — need to be vaccinated.

Nationally, a recent Marist poll in partnership with NPR and PBS found 49% of Republican men said they would not take the vaccine. In Texas, 61 % of white Republicans say they’ll decline. In one county in Alabama, just seven percent of the eligible population has opted to get vaccinated. (More than 90% of county voters backed Trump last year.) And in North Carolina, a coastal county will stop administering vaccines at the end of the month because so few residents are scheduling appointments for the shot.

On Tuesday, the J&J announcement was treated as the biggest Covid news in weeks. The halt came at a time when there had been endless encouraging news about the vaccine rollout during Joe Biden’s presidency.

Is it possible the bad-news angle appealed to the press? A recent study found that the U.S. press prefers to lean into bad Covid news:

The [pandemic] coverage by U.S. publications with a national audience has been much more negative than coverage by any other source that the researchers analyzed, including scientific journals, major international publications and regional U.S. media. “The most well-read U.S. media are outliers in terms of their negativity.”

The important J&J pause story was one that cried out for full context in all aspects of the coverage, including the all-important headlines. Instead, the press bungled the assignment.