Only in America

It’s September, and you know what that means!  Shorter days, cooler temperatures, the leaves on the trees starting to turn from green to vibrant gold, purple and red.  Pumpkins and apples, the smell of woodsmoke in the air, and … oh yes, those big yellow buses once again rumbling down the street – back to school! school-bus.pngYou won’t see a back-to-school ad like this in France, Germany, or the UK.  You won’t even see an ad like this in Syria or Afghanistan.  Only in America would you would ever see an advertisement like this one.

That was a Public Service Announcement by the Sandy Hook Promise, an anti-violence nonprofit founded by the parents of victims of the Sandy Hook shootings in 2012.  Raw, jaw-dropping, disturbing?  Yeah, it was meant to be.  Only in America.  What a claim to fame, eh?

This morning, I watched the neighborhood kids walking down the street, backpacks slung over their shoulders, heading to the corner to await the big yellow bus.  I was thinking, as I watched, that I hope they all make it home safe and sound today.  Only in America.

We do everything possible to make sure our kids are safe from the day they are born.  We spend hundreds of dollars on the best car seat to protect them in case of a crash. We spend even more on monitoring systems so that we can listen for the slightest aberration in their breathing while they sleep.  We sterilize their bottles and insist on only the purest ingredients in their food.  We buy them helmets and other safety equipment to protect them in the event of a fall from a bicycle or skateboard.  But the one thing the citizens of this nation refuse to do to protect their children is to demand Congress pass laws to limit guns in the hands of unqualified civilians.

I’ve often wondered, if Mitch McConnell’s grandchild were the victim of a school shooter, would he then be willing to talk about gun legislation?

Only in the U.S. will you find these …backpacksYep … kid-themed bullet-proof backpacks.  Wow, huh?  According to a CBS News report …

“Demand for bulletproof and bullet-resistant backpacks and related products are soaring this back-to-school season amid growing fear about mass shooters.”

Of course, they are only useful if the child is shot in the back and if he happens to be wearing his backpack at the time he is shot.  What next?  Full body armour and bullet-proof helmets?  Only in America.

Nearly a quarter of a million children have been affected by gun violence in their schools since Columbine in 1999.  Think about that one for a minute.  And we’re not talking about New York City, Houston, or Los Angeles, folks!  We’re talking about Newtown, Connecticut, population 27,560.  We’re talking about Parkland, Florida, population 32,202.  Columbine, Colorado, population 24,280.  The madness isn’t just in the cities … it has come right to a neighborhood near you.  Or, maybe it has come to your neighborhood.

school-shootingsThe NRA and our own lawmakers have suggested that arming teachers is the solution … more guns.  But we all know it isn’t.  Guns don’t belong in schools.  Period.  Not in the hands of teachers, and for damn sure not in the hands of students.  Only in America would such a ludicrous proposal even be considered.

The only answer is serious gun regulation.  You know it and I know it.  Our legislators know it, but their children are safe, they go to posh private schools with the latest technology to protect their children, and thus their interests lie in lining their pockets with donations from the gun industry.  What does it matter if a few of our children die?  Only in America.

Think of your children, your grandchildren, the kid down the street who brought you a handful of wilting wildflowers last week “just because”.  I think the video by Sandy Hook Promise should be required watching for every single lawmaker in this country.  Let them think how they would feel if that little girl in the bathroom at the end were their own child.  Only in America.

Snarky Snippets To End The Week …

I was plugging along, working on a post about the democrats and last night’s debate, when I came across a few snippets that … well, I just couldn’t resist another snarky snippets post!  The debate post will come later, hopefully tomorrow afternoon, but for today I was sidetracked … that seems to happen a lot!


She got WHAT from WHOM???

Trump’s kids are hot on the campaign trail, stumping for daddy.  Late last month, daughter Ivanka (you know, the useless one whose sole purpose in the administration seems to be to stand by daddy fluttering her lashes) attended a “retreat” (what the Sam Heck are they retreating from?) arranged by Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Jackson Hole in the Wyoming mountains. The sole purpose was to bilk money from the wealthy potential donors in attendance.IvankaIvanka was asked what personality traits she has inherited from her parents.  She said that her mother gave her an example of how to be a powerful, successful woman, and that … wait for it … her father had given her his “moral compass”! Hoo-boy!  If that one didn’t make you nearly fall out of your seat laughing, then nothing will!  Moral compass???  What moral compass???  Well, folks, you’ve got to feel sorry for the little Trumps, if nothing else.  Ivanka and Jared have three (this family really makes the case for forced sterilization):  Arabella Rose, Joseph Frederick, and Theodore James.  See, they cannot even give the poor kids simple names … well, at least their last name isn’t Trump, though I’m not sure ‘Kushner’ is any more respectable.


Skewed priorities

I’ve heard of ‘vaping’, but never cared enough to figure out exactly what it is. I knew only that it was a replacement for smoking.  But, in the past few weeks it has been in all the headlines, as apparently a few people … I believe it is six people, to be exact … had died as a result of vaping.  I still wasn’t all that interested, and I’ll tell you why.  I am a smoker.  I started smoking at age 13, some 55 years ago.  I smoke, on average, 3 packs a day.  That is my choice, and I’m well aware of the health risks involved, and I accept full responsibility for my actions and the results of those actions.  Period.  So, if people choose vaping instead of smoking tobacco, fine, but accept that the onus is on you, not society at large.

But what did finally catch my attention was when it was announced that Trump is considering a ban on flavoured electronic cigarettes.  The reason?

“We can’t allow people to get sick. And we can’t have our youth be so affected.”

Oh … oh oh oh … the IRONY!!!  This, from the ‘man’ who has fought tooth and nail to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, and cause some 20 million people to lose their access to affordable health care!  This from the ‘man’ who refuses to even consider the most minimal of gun regulations, due to pressure from his buddies over at the NRA!

There is not even any evidence thus far that it was vaping that caused the six deaths.  Consider the most recent case, a 50-year-old man from Kansas who had a history of underlying health issues!  Not a child, not even a healthy adult!  Six cases … and he’s going to ban it!  Heck, last year in the U.S., five people died from eating lettuce contaminated with E. coli from contaminated water that was used to irrigate the crops.  Simply testing the water would have prevented it, but Trump & Co. even then refused to make testing of irrigation water mandatory.  And … Trump did not ban lettuce … I know this because I just bought some on Wednesday.

There have been 22 school shootings in the U.S. in 2019 thus far.  Six deaths possibly related to vaping, and he’ll ban e-cigarettes, but 22 school shootings don’t even warrant a consideration of enhanced gun safety laws???  This, folks, is a problem.  This is an upside-down setting of priorities. The only thing I can figure is that the vaping industry doesn’t have a strong enough lobby.


And, since nobody … not even me … does snarky better than the late-night hosts, let’s let Jimmy Kimmel start our weekend out with bunch of laughs!


Have a great weekend, my friends!

There’s A Plan??? Who knew???

Alexandra Petri is a columnist for The Washington Post who only recently came onto my radar.  I love her style … subtle yet unmistakable snarky!  In 2010 she became the youngest person to have a column in The Washington Post; she also runs the ComPost blog on the paper’s website, on which she formerly worked with Dana Milbank.  Her column yesterday was, I thought, brilliantly spot-on, and I decided you guys would get a bit of humour from it, too.


Trump has a plan! His plan is for nothing to go wrong.trump-iceberg

By Alexandra Petri
Columnist
August 30

Alexandra-PetriFirst off, do not worry about the economy. There is nothing to worry about. Who’s worried? If you were to worry, that would make the economy second-guess itself and grow agitated. Don’t worry about the economy. It’s fine. Worry about the Space Command.

Second, if there are any problems with the economy (there aren’t, but if there were), they would have nothing to do with the president. The last thing that would possibly impact the economy are his trade policies. It is “badly run and weak companies,” as he wisely clarified on Twitter.

Third, if there were to be any kind of downturn (not necessarily a bad thing, at hotels, people pay for such a service!), there is a plan. The plan is for it to be, as Mick Mulvaney told a gathering of donors last week, “moderate and short.”

This plan is without flaw, and, indeed, is the approach the administration is taking to all forms of crisis. That is, I am pleased to report, why there are currently no crises whatsoever.

Consider, for instance, the new rollback of methane regulations — even over the objections of people in the affected industries. A similar, ingenious philosophy is being applied here. To try to limit the amount of methane released into the earth’s atmosphere would send the earth a message that we thought it might be getting to the point where additional methane and CO2 could be dangerous to the planet, and that realization might cause the earth to panic, hyperventilate and destroy all human life.

Nothing depresses a planet so much as the suggestion that its continued health is hanging by a very fragile thread. The last thing we would want the earth to do is think there was a problem. If we were to take any steps that made it look as though we were aware of a problem and were addressing it, well, that would be the end, for all of us. No, we must keep it in a state of blissful ignorance.

Indeed, we have taken this attitude broadly in all areas of our lives. Take health care, for instance. If you do not have a plan that allows for bad things to happen, you will be amazed, for instance, how many fewer times you will visit the doctor and how much less prescription medicine you will obtain! Probably this is because you are healthier.

Similarly, imagine what might happen if we were to make any effort to regulate guns. If guns knew we were thinking of regulating them, why, something terrible might happen in America, on a regular basis, even.

This is why we are not even contemplating a plan for removing bedbugs should they ever come to the Doral resort. If you devised a plan to remove them, then for that plan to work bedbugs would have to show up in the first place — simply unthinkable!

We must stand firm in our refusal to plan for anything but good outcomes.

The second you make a plan for something bad to happen, you may as well be sending it an engraved invitation. If we make any plans that will invite people to see us as not confident, and then the bears of the economy will fall upon us and destroy us. Oh no, I have mentioned them! Now they will hear us.

No. Our plan for if the economy is ʙᴀᴅ (shh, not so loud, you must not frighten the economy) is for it not to be ʙᴀᴅ. If we have a ʀᴇᴄᴇssɪᴏɴ (hush), our plan is for it not to be the bad kind, and for it to leave quickly.

Umbrellas invite rain. Safety harnesses inspire people to drop from great heights. Do not get me started on what helmets do.

This is why the Titanic brought so few lifeboats on board. To bring too many is to imply that a disaster might happen, in which case such lifeboats might be needed and might lead the ship to lose confidence in itself and capsize. This would have been disastrous!

The last thing we need is to invite disaster.

‘Toons To Jump-Start The Weekend!

Whew … what a week, eh?  Take heart, my friends, for it’s Friday and hopefully we’ll have a two-day break from any major screw-ups by you-know-who.  I think he usually spends the weekends golfing and pigging out at one of his golf resorts … on  our dime, of course.  What better way to head into the weekend than with a few ‘toons, mostly at ol’ what’s-his-name’s expense?


Of course the biggest news item of the week was Trump’s idea that he could just pick up the phone, contact Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, and purchase Greenland.  Never mind that Congress had not authorized such a purchase, never mind that Greenland is an autonomous nation … he had a wild hair and acted, foolishly, on it.  Well, at least the cartoon artists had some fun with it.

COLORgreenland-2Nick Anderson cartoongreenland-4greenland-5Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump and Greenlandgreenland-7


The saddest, most maddening news was that Trump has decided to strip the Endangered Species Act, placing profit ahead of life, ahead of the earth.  All living things are part of earth’s ecosystem and when we lose one species, it disturbs the balance.  Sadly, the only ‘balance’ that Trump and his cronies are concerned about is the one in their investment portfolio.  

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sad


Economists have been warning for a while now that there are signs of a pending slowdown … or worse.  Still, da man in da Oval lives in his own little world, listens to nobody, and says he trusts his ‘gut’ more than all the experts.  Sure is enough of his gut, isn’t there.  Anyway … for two weeks now, certain indicators of a potential recession have caused some market fluctuations.  Trump has an economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, who doesn’t even have a degree in economics … he, apparently, listens to Trump’s ‘gut’, too.  Trump has been bouncing off walls … first he’s going to cut payroll taxes, then he’s not.  He’s demanding that the Federal Reserve lower interest rates even more (really bad move, folks), and when Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell indicated that a huge cut was unlikely, Trump called him “the enemy”, said he didn’t know whether our real enemy was China or Powell.  And as if that weren’t enough, so far he has blamed both the democrats and the media for trying to crash his economy just to make him look bad.  As if he needed help with that … 

economyeconomy-2economy-3economy-4


As we all knew he would, he reversed course on backing any new gun legislation, such as expanded background checks or red flag laws … {yawn} … it was only a matter of time.  We the People are far less important than his buddies over at the NRA …

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I particularly liked this one …

Trump-tweets


And lastly, I just couldn’t resist a poke at the ginormous ego that is part and parcel of Donald Trump.  He was giving a press conference, when suddenly he stopped, looked up at the sky, and declared, “I am the chosen one”.  Please, somebody, shut this man up!!!  First, I have to ask … the chosen WHAT???  And chosen by whom?  Vladimir Putin? 

chosen-onechosen-one-2


Have a great weekend, my friends!

A Scrapbook Of Life In America: Excerpts From The Pro-Gun Forums

Just over a week ago, I re-blogged a post by Greg, aka Ohio Realist, over at On the Fence Voters. It was the initial post of their new project on the issue of guns and the tragic gun culture in the U.S. Today, I share with you the second post in the project, a plethora of excuses for the fact that there is almost zero regulation on guns in this country. We have a problem … a huge problem … and the key to solving that problem is awareness. Please take a look at these pictures and read the words. The U.S. doesn’t lead the world in much these days, but we certainly do lead in gun fatalities, and once you see this post, you’ll understand why. Thank you, Greg and Jeff, for keeping this issue in the limelight … great work!

On The Fence Voters

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Out of the pool

Once again, our friend Keith has been thinking and come up with some ideas that I think have a great deal of merit. Granted, they will likely never see the light of day, but … I surely wish they would. Heck, I’m all for starting a campaign to elect Keith Wilson as the next president of the United States! All in favour? Thank you, Keith, for some excellent thoughts.

musingsofanoldfart

I think it is time to fire any politician in Washington who is forgetting why they are there. We could start with the White House incumbent and then take out hundreds of members of Congress in both Houses. I understand fully Congress must investigate and provide oversight over the Executive Branch. That is part of their job and the current incumbent has given them cause to dig further.

Yet, I have this simple idea that leaders of both houses sit down with legislative liaisons from the White House and figure out some things they can pass and sign into law. I think a civilian board could list about a dozen major issues to focus on and say work these out. It should not take a civilian board, but these folks are too beholden to funders to come up with a workable list.

A key reason for not listing the problems…

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Eric Swalwell: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 14th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Eric Swalwell is on deck today. I know next to nothing about Mr. Swalwell, other than that he is currently serving his 4th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He seems to have the right ideas, but with 23 candidates currently in the running, I don’t see anything that stands out and says, “Pick me!” Nonetheless, I believe all the candidates should be given fair consideration, for you never know where you will find a diamond in the rough. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. Swalwell!

Political⚡Charge

swalwell Rep. Eric Swalwell

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. Each of them brings their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve gathered quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope that these guides serve as a helpful starting point for you as you look into which candidates (or how many candidates!) you are interested in…

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emma gonzalez

On February 14th, 2018, seventeen students and staff members died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students were heartbroken, and they spoke out, letting us know that this was beyond tolerable, that they were fed up with we “adults” allowing these things to happen … think Columbine, think Sandy Hook and many, many others. One of the young activists was Emma Gonzales, a courageous young woman who said, “No more!” And still today, the government and the people of this nation are letting our young people down.

Every time there is a mass shooting, especially a school shooting, we are horrified … for a few days … and then, while we don’t exactly forget, we let other matters take precedence and we put it out of our minds. How many of our children must die before we wake up, before we force our legislators to put our children ahead of the profits of the all-powerful gun lobby?

Our friend Larry has written an excellent post featuring a tribute song by Madonna. Thank you, Larry, for this post and your permission to share it.

QUEST

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photo by SIMON MATZINGER

“So we are speaking up for those who don’t have anyone listening to them, for those who can’t talk about it yet, and for those who will never speak again. We are grieving, we are furious, and we are using our words fiercely and desperately because that’s the only thing standing between us and this happening again.” EMMA GONZALEZ

We rise every morning anticipating a great day filled with joy, happiness and safety in our daily endeavors.  We hug our loved ones as they go out the door about their day’s agenda.  We expect to see them later, don’t we?

We know life has no guarantees, but we trust in goodness and mercy.  Emma Gonzalez chatted with friends before classes at Marjory Stoneman Douglas not knowing that there were a few whom she would never again see alive.  Shots rang out, young people were murdered and…

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Beto O’Rourke: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 10th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Beto O’Rourke is on deck today. Last year, Mr. O’Rourke challenged Senator Ted Cruz for his Senate seat and came very close to winning. He is, in my opinion, an exciting candidate, so let’s learn a bit more about his platform. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Mr. O’Rourke!

Political⚡Charge

Beto Beto O’Rourke, Photo by MICHAEL STRAVATO via The Texas Tribune

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve gathered quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope that these…

View original post 1,441 more words

Filosofa’s BIG Announcement!

Okay, folks … here is my big announcement:

I’ve decided to run for President of the United States in November 2020! 

Um … don’t everybody wear your hands out applauding now … well, a little bit of applause might be nice … okay, I’ll settle for those few chuckles I heard.

Now, I can’t afford a huge campaign, and I will NOT take a single dime from any business or lobbying interest, so that puts me at a disadvantage before I even get to the gate. However, I do have a few advantages over the rest of the pack, but I’ll get to those in a minute.

First, a few of my highest priorities:

  • Environmental
    • The United States will immediately, the day after I take office, rejoin the Paris Accord
    • All regulations on the fossil fuel and auto industries that were revoked by my predecessor will immediately be re-instated
    • I will petition Congress for emergency funding to re-build the Environmental Protection Agency and will nominate a conscientious person as director of that agency
    • We will enhance our renewable energy resources and provide incentives for companies to develop new sustainable energy sources
  • Constitutional Issues
    • I will support freedom of the press to the fullest, even when I don’t like what they say about me – the free press is our only hope for remaining a free people
    • Separation of church and state will be the law. There is no place for religion in government, and this government will support no particular religion over another
    • I will petition Congress for a ban on all assault weapons, and for expanded background checks, as well as training and licensing in order to obtain any sort of firearm
  • Education
    • All funding for the Department of Education will go toward public schools where all children will be treated equally; taxpayer money will NOT be used for ‘charter’ schools that benefit only the few
    • I will propose that Congress introduce legislation to provide free college tuition for a minimum of two years to all students whose annual family income falls below $100,000
    • School curriculums will be evaluated and re-designed as necessary in order to provide students with a well-balanced education that includes both career training and a liberal arts education
    • Religion will not be taught in public schools. Parents who wish their children to obtain religious training may send their children to religious schools at their own expense
  • Health Care
    • No person in the country will be without affordable healthcare. Most will pay according to their ability to pay, without such payment placing undo hardship.  Those who cannot afford to pay will receive free healthcare
    • There will be an ad hoc committee to study prescription drug costs and appropriate caps will be put on all pharmaceuticals
  • Taxation
    • The tax brackets will be expanded for those earning over $100,000 per year. Those whose net worth is $1 million or more will fall into the highest income tax brackets, to be determined before year end
  • Economy
    • Unfettered capitalism will cease to exist. My administration will place a higher value on human life than on GDP
    • The Chairman of the Federal Reserve will decide at what point it is prudent to raise or lower interest rates without coercion from myself or others. This is not a political agency, but one based on the best interest of the nation
    • We will aim for a balanced budget, or at least reduce the deficit by 20% each year, and will not increase the national debt beyond its current levels
  • International Relations
    • We will begin re-building trust among our allies in whatever way possible
    • We will hold Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman accountable for the brutal murder of our journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year by severing any arms agreements, and imposing other sanctions as seen fit
    • There will be NO wall on our border

This is by no means a comprehensive list, but merely the top bullet points of my platform.  Now, what do I bring to the table, since it damn sure isn’t money or fame?

Honesty and integrity, for starters.  I will take not a single dime from any organization that seeks special favours or sees their donation as creating an obligation.  I will not lie … if I cannot tell you something, I will simply say that I cannot discuss it, but I will not lie or over-inflate my achievements.  I will demand the same from any cabinet members that I select.

Compassion and humanity.  I will put the people of this nation … all the people … ahead of profit.  One thing this means is that I will never demean or mock another human being.  We’ve had enough of that to last a lifetime.  I will not tolerate bigotry in any form. The emphasis of this government will be people, not weapons of war, not profit for the biggest corporations, but the well-being of people.

Literacy.  Unlike my predecessor, I have studied politics and history all my life, hold a B.S. in both Accounting and Political Science, and an M.A. in International Relations.  I have read the U.S. Constitution at least 50 times in the past 30 years and have taken a number of classes in Constitutional Law.  I have studied past presidents.  And I can write more than 5 words without a spelling error.  In other words, I know the difference between ‘origins’ and ‘oranges’.

Common Sense.  I am smart enough to realize that there are many, many things I will not know, but unlike my predecessor, I am willing to seek the advice of those who do know those things.  I am also smart enough to realize that sometimes we all make mistakes, but the important thing is to admit those mistakes, then take steps to rectify the errors.  This I will do.

And that, my friends, is all I have to offer.  Now all I have to do is find a running mate who shares my values and vision.  Any takers?