Colin Kaepernick vs The Nation

“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” — Colin Kaepernick, August 2016

I am, once again, going to wade into this controversy with my own semi-humble opinion.  It is a topic I have dealt with at least once or twice before, but people are losing their grip on reality here and it has set my radar to ticking.

To start, there is not a single word in the U.S. Constitution about kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.  The national anthem wasn’t even thought of in 1787 when the Constitution was signed and ratified.  The lyrics to the song were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814, but the song was only adopted as the national anthem in March 1931.  Additionally, there is no federal or state law making it a requirement to stand when the song is sung or played.

Last October, former judge and then-senatorial candidate from Alabama, Roy Moore claimed …

“It’s against the law, you know that? It was a act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That’s the law.”

Judge Moore lied.  There is no such law.  Congress indeed passed a law dealing with decorum during the national anthem. But the etiquette is merely a suggestion, not a legal obligation.  It is a song, folks … only a song.  Hardly worth people threatening other people’s livelihoods over.

There is a legal precedent that protects people’s rights in such cases.  In 1943, the Supreme Court ruled in West Virginia vs. Barnette that the First Amendment protects people from being forced to participate in patriotic ceremonies that offend their conscience or beliefs.  And more recently, in the 1989 case of Texas vs. Johnson, the court protected the the right to burn the American flag as a form of symbolic speech.  Just as the national anthem is but a song, the flag is but a piece of cloth.  People matter more!

Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University who specializes in First Amendment law, said “If the Constitution protects the right to burn the flag and the right not to participate in the pledge as aspects of free speech, it must also protect the right to kneel respectfully during the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance.”  I strongly suspect that is how the courts would rule.

Colin Kaepernick used to play for the San Francisco 49ers.  From what I understand, he was one of the league’s best quarterbacks.  As such, he has a voice, a presence, a public persona and in August 2016, he used his voice to call attention to the atrocities being committed against African-Americans in this nation by police.  After a spate of police killing unarmed black men, it was time for somebody to take a stand … or, in this case, a knee, for Mr. Kaepernick took a knee when the national anthem was played.  And, based on the uproar, you might have thought he murdered a room full of babies.

Kaepernick began receiving death threats, one NFL official referred to him as a ‘traitor’, and worst of all, he was black-balled from the NFL and no team would sign him in 2017.  He lost his livelihood for a peaceful protest against proven injustices by law enforcement in this country.

Pause here for just a moment, if you will.  After the rally by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, Donald Trump claimed that among those hate groups there were some “fine people”.  Lives were lost that day, murder was committed, and the most abominable form of hatred was on display by those “fine people”.  And yet, a man engages in a peaceful protest that hurts no one, simply goes down on one knee to remind people that this country is losing its values, and here’s what Donald Trump had to say about him …

“I think it’s personally not a good thing, I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won’t happen.” – 30 August 2016

And more recently …

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’” – 23 September 2017

“You have to stand proudly for national anthem, or shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem. And the NFL owners did the right thing.” – 24 May 2018

Why did the president of the country feel a need to involve himself to start with, and why the Sam Heck is he still, two years later, injecting his hateful and uneducated opinion?  This, folks, is the piece of work we have sitting in the highest seat of government in this country.  But back to Mr. Kaepernick …

In May of this year, the NFL, presumably under pressure from Donald Trump, approved a policy that forbids players from kneeling during the playing of the anthem.  As a compromise, they may stay in the locker room, but if they are on the field, they must stand.  The decision was made without input from or negotiation with the players union, which is a flagrant violation of the employer’s duty to bargain in good faith.  It might behoove them to remember that it is the players, not the team owners nor NFL officials, who make the money that supports the NFL and the teams.

What I find equally, if not more disappointing is that the majority of people in this country do not support players’ right to protest peacefully by kneeling during the anthem.  43% of voters believe kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate way to protest racial inequality, while the majority, 54%, say it is not appropriate.  The other 3% were asleep.  Predictably, though sadly, the results fell along political and racial lines.  We are no better than we were 200 years ago, my friends.

Meanwhile … Colin Kaepernick, who has been out of work since March 2017, was made privy to leaked audiotapes of an NFL meeting held in October where, in response to players questioning whether Kaepernick had, in fact, been blackballed, the team owners expressed their fears about further aggravating Trump.  Patriots owner Robert Kraft—a supporter of Trump—worried that “the problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don’t feel is in the best interests of America.”

Colin Kaepernick filed a collusion grievance against the NFL, asserting that the league conspired to deprive him of his right to sign with any team.  The burden of proof is on Kaepernick, and collusion is not easy to prove.  The NFL had high hopes that Kaepernick would not be able to convince arbitrator (and University of Pennsylvania law professor) Stephen Burbank that there is sufficient evidence of collusion.  However, last week those hopes were dashed when Burbank, who was appointed by the league and the NFL Players Association, said lawyers for Kaepernick had unearthed enough information in the past year for the case to proceed to a full hearing.  It is a preliminary step, but an important one.

For the record, this writer fully supports Colin Kaepernick and any other players who have the courage to stand by their convictions, who are not afraid of the bullies in government, the NFL and society.  The flag and the anthem ought to stand for something, but more and more these days, they stand for hypocrisy rather than values.

An Ugly Voice — Peter T. King

I had no intention of writing about this topic again this week.  I was fairly certain it would come up again in the near future, for I don’t think the final word has been said yet, but I thought the topic was put to bed for a nap, at least.  Until, that is, the abominable New York Congressman  Peter King had to open his mouth and spew the most ludicrous thing I have heard and get the needle on my radar twitching and my fingers itching.  And what topic is that, you may be wondering?  The NFL decision to fine teams & players who refuse to stand for the playing of the national anthem before games.

My feelings on this are well-known and do not bear repeating, but an examination of Mr. King’s statement is definitely in order.  As I mentioned in my last post about this topic, Take A Knee, there was one team owner who stood above all the rest in the decision of the team owners.  Christopher Johnson, acting owner of the New York Jets, stood up for his players …chris johnson.jpg“I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest. There are some big, complicated issues that we’re all struggling with, and our players are on the front lines. I don’t want to come down on them like a ton of bricks, and I won’t. There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

I applaud him for being the only one to stand heads above the rest, to have the courage of his convictions, to stand for his players.  But apparently Representative King viewed it a bit differently …Pete King.pngHe is comparing taking a knee rather than standing at attention for a stupid song to a Nazi salute?  He is comparing a peaceful protest against police brutality and racial injustice to a group of people who commited murder, who committed genocide, who committed crimes against humanity when they killed more than 6 million people???  What tree did this ‘man’ fall from?

I commented on his tweet:

“You are delusional, Mr. King, and not worthy of the office you hold.  Have you ever read the U.S. Constitution?  I suggest you do so, post haste.”

That was mild, compared to what I wanted to say, but Twitter has a word limit, and presumably a set of standards about language, so I restrained myself.  But let us ask a question here:  Is this the ‘new norm’?  Is what used to be admirable no longer so, and bigotry now what is looked up to?

I was encouraged that, with few exceptions, the comments to King’s tweet were along the lines of voting him out of office, which tells me that no, We The People have not become cruel, heartless, anti-freedom idiots.  But how did we come to this point, to this place where we are electing people to high offices in our federal government who have so little humanity, no empathy for humans?  And in New York, of all places!  C’mon, New Yorkers … you’re better than this!

Peter King photo.pngMr. King piqued my curiosity … people don’t just become this way overnight, after all … so I dug a little deeper.  What I found is an unapologetic racist, an intense Islamophobe, homophobe.  King has been in office since 1992, and it is the opinion of this writer that it is well past time to take out the trash.  Let us hope that there is a strong, viable candidate running against Mr. King in the 2nd congressional district of New York in November.

Snarky Snippets for a Saturday Afternoon

Our friend, Eschudel, suggested after my last ‘snippets’ post that ‘Snarky Snippets’ might be a fitting title when I write a compilation of bits ‘n pieces.  Another friend, John, seconded the motion, and since I liked it too, these posts will from now on be called just that!  Thank you Emily and John – there will be a little something extra in your Christmas stockings this year!

Today, I am working on the next stage of our ‘listening and understanding the other side’ project … I really need to come up with a name for it … with Lisa Jensen, and I have to go out in a bit and run some errands, so I am in a bit of a time crunch.   A few worthy things in the news caught my eye this morning, so I shall take advantage of this opportunity to write another Snarky Snippets post!


The headline in Politico read:

Week 53: Trump Goes Spy Hunting and Gets Skunked

Even some of his staunchest supporters couldn’t manage to applaud his performance.

By JACK SHAFER May 26, 2018

“Master table-turner Donald Trump is at it again, spinning the latest damning news from the Russia investigation and flinging it back at his critics to make him look like a victim, not a perp.

This week’s twirl of the table had Trump spinning his interpretive energies into “SPYGATE,” his racy label for the alleged “Criminal Deep State” conspiracy against him. Why call it Spygate? Trump, who lives for catchy buzz-phrases and slogans, told an ally he wanted “to brand” the informant as a spy, and that such language would leave a more lasting impression on the media and public.”

spy v spyNow, personally I am finding this whole “spygate” thing tedious, ridiculous and beneath the dignity of any politician, let alone one who occupies the Oval Office.  But to the point here … we, my friends, are being played.  We sensed it all along, but this is the proof.  He chooses his words and phrases for maximum impact.  Even though he angers the majority of us, it does not matter, for we remember, we notice, we comment, and the media keeps the story alive – that is all he really wants.

It would be wonderful if I could propose, as I have before, a moratorium on everything Trump.  If the media could go, say, a full week without so much as a mention of his name, and if those of us who write these sorts of blogs could write about, say, horse-racing, flowers, art and gnomes for a week, without mention of DT, life would be better. But it won’t happen, can’t happen, and there are some very good reasons why it shouldn’t happen.  Just be aware, though, that he is playing us for fools – let us not prove him right.


Conway vs Conway

It would appear that George Conway, wife husband of Trump’s main boot-licker Kellyanne Conway, does not agree with his wife’s boss’s politics.  Gee … might it be he has a functioning brain, unlike his wife?

As far back as last June, Conway began tweeting tweets that were less than complimentary to Trump, things like this:george-conway-tweetMild, in my book, but it raised eyebrows among Kellyanne’s co-workers, and likely Trump himself.  After that, it is said, he became a Twitter star.  I wish I had known, for most have since been deleted and I haven’t time to dig around the ‘net for archived copies.  But he hasn’t stopped there, according to Business Insider.  Two writers of political commentary say that they occasionally receive emails from Mr. Conway with suggestions on how to strengthen their anti-Trump arguments.

Early in the Trump administration, Mr. Conway was offered positions in the Trump White House, first as Solicitor General, and then as the head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.  He turned both down – probably a good thing.

You have to wonder how this affects their home life, since Kellyanne seems to have been programmed to nod and agree with everything Trump, and hubby is leaning more and more anti-Trump.  Do I hear divorce lawyers salivating?


Gotcha?

Harvey Weinstein was finally arrested yesterday, some seven months after he was accused of sexually harassing, assaulting, or raping more than a dozen women last October.  Weinstein was led in handcuffs past a gantlet of photographers on Friday as he appeared in court to face charges that he had raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex.  But look at this picture, folks …Weinstein smilesWeinstein smiles-2Don’t you just want to slap that smile right off his ugly mug?  Since October, I have hoped to see him spend the rest of his days in prison, but now I am even more hopeful of that outcome.  To smile … that smug little smile … they should tie him to a stake in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard and let women come throw eggs, rotten tomatoes or just spit on his face!

No, not a cruel bone in my body …  😈

After stating the charges, the prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi added that the inquiry had shown “that this defendant used his money, power and position to lure young women into situations where he was able to violate them sexually.”  She also noted that the investigation is still ongoing.  Weinstein’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said Weinstein intends to plead “not guilty”.  Seriously???  Weinstein was released on $1 million bail after only a few minutes in the courtroom.


And I end with a cartoon or two to bring you a smile … or more likely an eye roll.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks!

toon-2toon-3toon-4

Snippets, Snippets, I Got Snippets!

Good afternoon, friends!  I am working on a post that involves a great deal of research, and I had hoped to complete it for this afternoon, but have not.  So, instead I am bringing you my take on a few of the snippets in this morning’s news, but I warn you that I am in full-on snarky mode today, so don’t expect much kindness toward certain unsavory elements in Washington at the moment.


Better polish that résumé, Mr. B …

bridenstine-nasaLast month, Jim Bridenstine was confirmed by the Senate to be the new administrator of NASA. Most of us were not thrilled by Trump’s nomination of Bridenstine, for he did not seem to have a single qualification for the job.  He had no science background, and his relevant experience was limited to having managed an Air and Space museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And while he agreed that humans may have played some role in climate change, he did not believe they were the major contributor, which was likely Trump’s main reason for choosing him. Even some members of the Republican Party voiced concerns. But, as we all know, if Trump wants it, the bootlickers will do their best to give it to him, and so Bridenstine was confirmed.

Now, I’m betting that Mr. B will not have his job for long, and I’m almost sad about that.  Why?  Because yesterday he made the following statement:

“The National Climate Assessment, that includes NASA, and it includes the Department of Energy, and it includes NOAA, has clearly stated it is extremely likely, is the language they use, that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming, and I have no reason to doubt the science that comes from that.”

WHOA!!!  A Trump pick has gone against one of Trump’s ten commandments.  Will he survive?  I doubt it.  Too bad, for the man seems to actually have a conscience and some guts.  I wish him luck in his next endeavour.


Ho-hum … more BREAKING NEWS …

trump-kimThe big “BREAKING NEWS” of the day is that Trump has canceled the summit with Kim Jong-un that was allegedly scheduled for next month.  Ho-hum.  No big news there … the summit was never going to happen.  Kim had already indicated that it was unlikely, and Trump, predictably, couldn’t let Kim be the one to cancel, so he did it himself.  There were reasons, or excuses … yada yada yada … but I predicted way back in the beginning that it would never happen.  Frankly, it’s probably for the best, as neither man has the maturity to craft any sort of reasonable compromise.  Unfortunately, it also means we will go back to the name-calling and threat of ‘button-pushing’ from last year, and the world will feel a bit less safe.  Happily, it means Trump can stop envisioning that Nobel Peace prize.


Does he really not understand, or is he deliberately obtuse?

clapper-beharTrump doesn’t seem to understand English.  He certainly doesn’t speak it well, never quite managing to string a sentence together that makes sense, but his comprehension is not good either.  Yesterday, James Clapper appeared on The View, and was asked:

BEHAR: “So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?”

CLAPPER: “No, they were not.”

Okay, that seems a fairly straightforward answer, don’t you think?  So Trump’s response?

“Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign. Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal. Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE – a terrible thing!” — 8:21 AM – May 24, 2018

I think the problem came in when Clapper went on to explain that the FBI was gathering information about what the Russians were doing.  Perhaps he should have just stopped at “No, they were not”, rather than elaborating.  Trump seems to understand very short, direct sentences, but gets confused if too many words are used.


Trump vs the NFL …NFLI can sum this one up in two words:  they caved.  Yes, the NFL, or at least one team owner, admits that the reason for their ban on player protests of kneeling rather than standing during the anthem was due, at least in part, to pressure from Trump.  According to an article this morning in NBC Sports …

“Asked if Trump came up in their discussion, Packers president Mark Murphy replied with a laugh: “Oh yeah. It was more how [Trump] might react, anticipating that. Also, how the fans will react, how the media will react. That’s what we tried to think through. . . . No matter what we did, [Trump] would probably try to get involved one way or the other—either criticizing us or taking credit for the change.””

Though I’m not a sports enthusiast, I recognize that it is entertainment, intended to be FUN.  When politics enters the arena, it ceases to be fun.  Now for Trump’s response to the NFL announcement yesterday …

“You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem, and the NFL owners have done the right thing, if that’s what they’ve done.”

Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country?  Seriously?  Well, maybe I shouldn’t be either, for I would gladly take a knee if I heard the anthem played at this point.  Though, I find it difficult to get back up and might need a hand …


So there you have it, folks … Filosofa’s snippets for the afternoon.  Have a great rest-of-the-day!

Take A Knee …

1st amendment Today, the National Football League (NFL) took it upon itself to slash the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  The owners implemented a new rule that teams and therefore players will be fined if they take a knee on the field during the national anthem.  Now, they are allowed to remain off the field during the playing of the anthem, but they cannot show their protest as Colin Kaepernick did in August 2016.  Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne said it well …Dionne-tweetCommissioner Roger Goodell had this to say …

“The policy adopted today was approved in concert with the NFL’s ongoing commitment to local communities and our country — one that is extraordinary in its scope, resources, and alignment with our players. We are dedicated to continuing our collaboration with players to advance the goals of justice and fairness in all corners of our society.

The efforts by many of our players sparked awareness and action around issues of social justice that must be addressed. The platform that we have created together is certainly unique in professional sports and quite likely in American business. We are honored to work with our players to drive progress.

It was unfortunate that on-field protests created a false perception among many that thousands of NFL players were unpatriotic. This is not and was never the case.

This season, all league and team personnel shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room until after the anthem has been performed.

We believe today’s decision will keep our focus on the game and the extraordinary athletes who play it — and on our fans who enjoy it.”

People of conscience who are fortunate enough to have a wide platform want to use that voice to rally against injustice, and they will be fined if they do so.  What’s wrong with this picture?  How did we get so out of sync here?

kneelingPatriotism?  Loyalty to country?  The flag is a piece of cloth and the anthem is a song.  Nothing more.  They are symbols, but symbols of what, exactly?  What is patriotism?  Does patriotism require that we sit down and shut up when we would speak out against an unarmed black man being killed by a cop for no reason other than that he was black?  Does being loyal to our country mean that we cannot speak out when people are being discriminated against because they are gay?  If that’s what patriotism and loyalty mean, count me out!

POLICY STATEMENT
The 32 member clubs of the National Football League have reaffirmed their strong commitment to work alongside our players to strengthen our communities and advance social justice. The unique platform that we have created is unprecedented in its scope, and will provide extraordinary resources in support of programs to promote positive social change in our communities.
The membership also strongly believes that:
1. All team and league personnel on the field shall stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
2. The Game Operations Manual will be revised to remove the requirement that all players be on the field for the anthem.
3. Personnel who choose not to stand for the anthem may stay in the locker room or in a similar location off the field until after the anthem has been performed.
4. A club will be fined by the League if its personnel are on the field and do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
5. Each club may develop its own work rules, consistent with the above principles, regarding its personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.
6. The commissioner will impose appropriate discipline on league personnel who do not stand and show respect for the flag and the anthem.

You know what I would like to see?  I would like to see every single player on every team take a knee during the anthem in the first games of the season.  At least one team owner had some cojones.  Christopher Johnson, the chairman and C.E.O. of the New York Jets, said the team would not punish players who choose to kneel during the anthem, despite the cost.

“There will be no club fines or suspensions or any sort of repercussions. If the team gets fined, that’s just something I’ll have to bear.”

Mike Pence, a known bigot and Trump sycophant, tweeted thisPence tweetStunning. Victory. For. Trump. That, folks, is what this is all about. If Trump speaks out against the NFL, they are afraid they will lose fans and thus lose some of those billions they rake in every season. Gotta keep the madman at the helm happy.

There may be some hope for a reversal, as the NFL and the team owners failed to consult with the players union.  The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) issued the following statement:

“The NFL chose to not consult the union in the development of this new ‘policy,’ ” the NFLPA said in a statement. “NFL players have shown their patriotism through their social activism, their community service, in support of our military and law enforcement and yes, through their protests to raise awareness about the issues they care about.

The vote by NFL club CEOs today contradicts the statements made to our player leadership by Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Chairman of the NFL’s Management Council John Mara about the principles, values and patriotism of our League.

Our union will review the new ‘policy’ and challenge any aspect of it that is inconsistent with the collective bargaining agreement.”

I hope they find the entire policy to be inconsistent.  This is a slap in the face to the 1st amendment, to the right of free speech, the right to protest.  Football players cannot take a knee, but white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK can shut down entire cities and create an atmosphere of chaos and violence?  Trump denigrates the football players for a peaceful, calm, silent protest, while he calls the violent bigots and racists from the Charlottesville rally ‘very fine people’. Trump nfl vs kkk.jpgThink about this one for a while, folks.  Trump is cherry-picking the U.S. Constitution.  He likes to always be “the winner”.  And who, then, is the loser?  We The People.

Sunday Afternoon Bits ‘n Pieces …

It’s Sunday afternoon, friends, and I know you have better things to do than listen to me go off on some long-winded tangent that will only serve to anger or depress you.  So, I am going off on a few short tangents that shouldn’t get your knickers into too much of a twist.  (Have you noticed that my UK friends are having an influence on my vocabulary?)  So here are just a few little Sunday snippets, and then you can go back to grilling out, tossing a ball around in the back yard, planting a tree, or hugging your ‘significant other’.

A well-deserved honour

Colin Kaepernick, the man whose humanitarian values far exceed those of a president who so cruelly mocked him, has been publicly acknowledged for putting his knee down for the cause of justice.  Amnesty International awarded Kaepernick its Ambassador of Conscience Award for 2018, in recognition of his sideline protests against racial inequality. The former San Francisco 49ers star was given the award at a gala ceremony in the Netherlands.  A few snippets from his acceptance speech:

“Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex. How can you stand for the national anthem of a nation that preaches and propagates, ‘freedom and justice for all,’ that is so unjust to so many of the people living there? While taking a knee is a physical display that challenges the merits of who is excluded from the notion of freedom, liberty, and justice for all, the protest is also rooted in a convergence of my moralistic beliefs, and my love for the people.”

Kaepernick is most deserving of this award, for his single, courageous act started a movement whose voice is heard loud and clear by many who would prefer to remain deaf.   However, he does not deserve the treatment he is receiving at the hands of his former team, the San Francisco 49-ers, the NFL, and the ‘man’ who sits in the Oval Office.

Did he find his conscience?

I have largely regarded Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a man without a conscience.  He is a documented racist, and since taking his current position in the U.S. government, has proven himself to be a lap-puppy to Donald Trump, asking ‘how high?’ when Trump tells him to jump.  But last weekend, he did something that indicates he might be developing a late-stage conscience after all.

In a phone call with White House counsel Donald McGahn, Sessions indicated that he is seriously considering resigning his post if Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  True, he only said he “might consider”, but this is more than I would have expected of the Sessions of yore.

An update …

Last month I wrote a post about three men in Kansas who had plotted to blow up a mosque and a community of Muslim immigrants on the day after election day 2016, but were caught by an FBI informant.   The three, Curtis Allen, Gavin Wright and Patrick Eugene Stein, had their day in court last week and all three were convicted on Wednesday of one count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and one count of conspiracy against civil rights.  Their sentencing will take place on June 27th, and all three could potentially face life in prison.

Prosecutor Risa Berkower said at the trial, “They wanted to send the message that Muslims are not welcome here – not in Garden City, not in Kansas, not in America.”  Funny, isn’t it, how a few men think they know what the entire nation of nearly 326 million people want?  Who elected  these three to speak for us all?

Another small kudo to Jeff Sessions here for his support of the ruling:

“The defendants in this case acted with clear premeditation in an attempt to kill people on the basis of their religion and national origin. That’s not just illegal—it’s immoral and unacceptable, and we’re not going to stand for it.”

I hope these three men are given the maximum sentence, for their brand of evil, of hatred, has no place in this world.

When all else fails, blame it on Obama!

The NRA, who in the eyes of most of us bears a large portion of the responsibility for every  single person who dies in a mass shooting where the shooter uses assault-style weapons, has decided who is to blame for the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

NRATV host Grant Stinchfield claimed in a segment on his show Friday that President Obama owes an apology to the survivors of the February 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead.  The ‘rationale’?  That President Obama put students in danger by implementing school discipline guidelines and refusing to arm teachers.

In the words of Peter, Paul & Mary … ‘When will they ever learn?  When will they ever learn?’

And I now return you to your regularly scheduled Sunday afternoon activities … hopefully you are doing something fun this afternoon!

Good People Doing Good Things – Ben & Chris

Hello Friends!!!  As I do every Wednesday, I went in search of good people who are doing good things, and I think your hearts will go out to these people … I know mine certainly did.


Ben-Carpenter-3Meet Ben Carpenter.  Ben, age 33, is a single gay man living in Shepley, West Yorkshire.  What makes Ben unique?  He has adopted four very special children, children with special needs, and provides them with a wonderfully loving home.

Ben began his journey some eleven years ago, in 2006, but it took him four years before he was able to convince the authorities that he was serious about adopting and could be a good dad. “I only ever wanted one child when I started on the process of adoption,” says Ben.  But fate had other ideas …

Ben-Carpenter-4Each of the children has special needs: 10-year-old Jack is autistic and has autism-related OCD. Ruby, 7, has Pierre Robin syndrome, a visual impairment, scoliosis and limited use of her arms as a result of missing radius bones. Lily, Ruby’s 5-year-old biological half-sister, is deaf and uses British Sign Language (BSL) to communicate. The most recently adopted, 2-year-old Joseph, has Down syndrome and uses a colostomy bag.

“All my children have the, ‘I have a disability. So what?’ attitude,” he says. They enjoy what he feels is a normal family life on the Huddersfield, United Kingdom, farm they share with resident rabbits, chickens, geese, ducks and peacocks.

“As of yesterday, the weather was lovely. They were playing in the garden from morning ’till night,” he says. “Our life is so complete. They’re complete with me and I’m complete with them, really,” he says. While he fields the question “How do you manage?” quite often, Benjamin says it’s just what he’s meant to do — and so far, the kids have been relatively easy.

Ben-Carpenter-2“I’ve been very lucky. I may get it when they become teenagers. Obviously they will have their own demons when they get older with their adoption.”

All the kids are learning to communicate with Ruby. Benjamin is teaching them Makaton, a simplified form of sign language, in lieu of BSL. Ruby’s difficulty moving her arms prevents her from forming the signs, so the sisters have learned to communicate in other ways.

“They do it through facial gestures and body language. It’s quite fascinating to see, really, when they’re together,” Benjamin says.

In fact, Ruby has learned to do many things independently without the use of her arms. Whatever the challenge, Benjamin resists the urge to do it for her, instead talking her through doing it on her own.

“She’s learned to adapt, so she’ll use her legs or she’ll use her mouth or chin to do it,” he says.

Ben works part-time as a teacher of British Sign Language, and also volunteers his time working to educate other would-be adoptive parents.

Recently Ben and the kids appeared on a morning show in the UK … watch this short (37 seconds) heartwarming clip 

My hat is off to Ben Carpenter for having the courage, the heart, and the compassion to take in these very special children and give them every bit of his love.  Isn’t it wonderful to find people like him in this world?


I am tired of hearing the criticism of NFL players who are using their broad platforms to make a statement about racial injustice.  I fully support those players and find it a shame that they are being attacked, even by the leader of the nation.  As with any group of people, there are some good individuals and some not-so-good.  But today I would like to highlight one who is beyond just good.  Allow me, please, to introduce Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long.

Chris-LongI will let Chris tell you in his own words what he is doing …

“I’m playing the entire 2017 NFL season without collecting income because I believe that education is the best gateway to a better tomorrow for EVERYONE in America,” Long wrote on Pledge It. “I’m encouraging fans, businesses and every person with a desire to join in my pursuit of equal education opportunities for all students to make their own pledge. My goal is that through this campaign my donation will be doubled by those inspired to join the effort — because together we can accomplish more.”

Yep, you heard the man.  He has already given up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. He will be using his next ten to launch the “Pledge 10 for Tomorrow” campaign. On the Pledge 10 website, Long has written …

“CALLING ALL EAGLES FANS

I have had an amazing opportunity to play 10 years of NFL football. I want to give back to the communities who were part of that journey. The city of Philadelphia and Eagles fans have taken me in, supported me and made me and my family feel at home, now I am excited to invest back in the community with you.”

Giving isn’t new to Long. Six years ago, while playing for the St. Louis Rams, Long and then-teammate William Hayes founded the Waterboys initiative for building clean water wells in African communities, which earned him the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

“My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality. I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country.”

Two thumbs up to this very giving, very caring NFL player.  He, like so many others, is using his voice, his platform and his hard-earned money to do good things in this world.  Thank you, Chris Long!


And now, while I usually try to do three or more, I must cut this short, as I got a late start and am hoping to get in bed before 5:00 a.m. this morning.  Take heart, dear friends, for whatever bad news we see this week, we must remember that there are still a lot of good people doing good things out there.

The Idiot Strikes Again – Rush Limbaugh

Does anybody actually listen to this creep, except for entertainment, a few laughs?  On Thursday night, Sean Hannity interviewed Rush Limbaugh … a junction of two of the media’s most outrageous fools … and the results would be hysterically funny, if we could be assured that nobody actually takes these goons seriously.   Check out Limbaugh’s conspiracy theory …

“I do believe that the left wants to cause great damage to the NFL. What does the NFL stand for? Masculinity, strength, toughness. So what are they doing to it? You go to college campuses now, and you’ll find classes on how to take masculinity out of men. It’s actually happening. There are studies and courses in college that do this.

It’s patriotic. You’ve got the flag, you’ve got the anthem, you’ve got uniformed military personnel — all the things that the left wants to erase from this country. They don’t like displays of patriotism, strength, rugged individualism. And that’s why the players are being used here. They think it’s about police brutality; they think it’s about righting social wrongs and so forth. This is an attack on the NFL as an institution, for shaking it down and lowering its profile and impact on American culture. We’re in the midst of a culture war; everybody knows it.

The left is doing everything it can to erase elements of our country’s founding, the traditions and institutions — and they don’t stop. And once they get their hooks in something… This is why I’m sad about it. They’re not gonna let go of this. So when I see the owners? They’ve gotta be scared to death. They have to be scared to death. On the one hand, do they side with their players? Linking arms? Go to sideline? Take a knee or whatever? That’s just driving the central fan base away. I almost think that it’s part of the strategy. If you did want to damage the NFL, what would you do? You would do something to cause its fan base to leave it. What’s happening?

I don’t want the NFL to get smaller. I don’t want it to become insignificant. I don’t want it to be taken over by a bunch of wusses. I don’t want it to be taken care of by left-wing social justice causes. You know, use something besides the NFL sideline. Use something besides the flag. Use something besides something that people use to escape everything leftists are trying to force on us.”

Limbaugh actually tried his hand at being an NFL commentator … it did not last long nor end well, as he was forced to resign after making racially charged comments on air about a black quarterback, Donovan McNabb, in 2003.

Much of what Limbaugh says is disturbing, but the first thing that stood out for me was “What does the NFL stand for? Masculinity, strength, toughness.”  Is Mr. Limbaugh, I wonder, aware of the fact that a July report by researchers at Boston University identified all but one of 111 players studied as having Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease caused by repeated blows to the head?  Or is he aware of Robert Grays, 19, a sophomore cornerback at Division-II Midwestern State, who died last week as a result of a neck injury suffered during a game?  Or does he even care?  Is it more important to him to concoct conspiracy theories to rile the masses who tune into his show?  Is it more important to him for the NFL to project the “cultural values” of ‘masculinity strength and toughness’?

robert-grays

Robert Grays

I sometimes wonder if the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Alex Jones actually believe the conspiracy theories they spout, or if it is all for the sake of ‘entertainment’?  This rhetoric is what is dividing the nation, attacking every cause as being the “liberal left wing” as trying to “force something on us”.  Surely they cannot be as ignorant as their speech makes them seem? And would somebody please tell me that the 3.715 million people who watched this interview tuned in just to have something to laugh at, that they are not seriously lapping this stuff up?

Did You Hear? Trump Does Not Like The Debate Schedule! OH NO!

The debate schedule for the presidential election, as I posted a few days ago, is as follows:

  1. Monday, 26 September – 1st Presidential debate – Hampstead, NY
  2. Tuesday, 04 October – Vice Presidential debate – Farmville, VA
  3. Sunday, 09 October – 2nd Presidential debate – St. Louis, MO
  4. Wednesday, 19 October – 3rd Presidential debate – Las Vegas, NV

These dates were set by the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) last September, almost eleven months ago.  As you might guess, there is a bit more involved in the process than, say, scheduling an appointment with the dentist, or reserving a hotel room for a family trip.  The venue must be selected and reserved, the media must be notified with adequate time to schedule staff, etc., hotel reservations made, and much more.

Quite surprisingly, since he has been so reasonable about everything else for the past year, presidential candidate Donald Trump does not like the debate schedule and wants it changed, less than two months before the first debate is to take place.  Here is the relevant portion of the transcript from Donnie’s interview with George Stephanopoulos on The Week this morning:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Let’s talk about debates. You can accept the recommendations of the debate commission? Three debates, one VP debate?

TRUMP: Well, I tell you what I don’t like, it’s against two NFL games. I got a letter from the NFL saying this is ridiculous, why are the debates against — because the NFL doesn’t want to go against the debates because the debates are going to be pretty massive, from what I understand. 

And I don’t think we should be against the NFL. I don’t know how the dates were picked. I don’t know why those particular dates.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So, you don’t like the dates that are out there. 

TRUMP: Well, I don’t like dates against — you know, Hillary Clinton wants to be against the NFL. She doesn’t maybe like she did with Bernie Sanders where they were on Saturday nights when nobody’s home. 

But they’re against the NFL. I saw the dates. Two — I think two of the three are against the NFL, so I’m not thrilled with that. But I like three debates. I think that’s fine. I think it’s enough. Somebody said one debate, I would rather have three. I think they will be very interesting.  

As always, Donnie speaks with such intelligence and occasionally even in full sentences.  However, I think this is one time his bluster is not likely to win.  The Commission on Presidential Debates responded as follows:

“The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) started working more than 18 months ago to identify religious and federal holidays, baseball league playoff games, NFL games, and other events in order to select the best nights for the 2016 debates. It is impossible to avoid all sporting events, and there have been nights on which debates and games occurred in most election cycles. A debate has never been rescheduled as a result.”

Nonetheless, Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, claims that they will be discussing the debate schedules with CPD “in the next week or so.”  I don’t know about you, but the above statement sounded pretty firm to me.  RNC chairman Reince Priebus said “Certainly we’re not going to agree with anything that our nominee doesn’t agree with. But we’re not going to be having debates on Saturday and Sunday nights, I don’t believe.”  Well, Reince, you can agree or not agree, but I suspect your power to change things at this late date is nil.  At least I would hope that is the case. But hey … perhaps you could talk to National Football Commissioner (NFL). Roger Goodell, about the NFL re-scheduling their games for those nights!  I’m sure that he would do everything in his power to accommodate the “Great and Mighty Trumpeter”!

In 2012, each of the debates fell on football game days, and still, each debate had at least 58 million people watch each, with the first debate drawing nearly 70 million viewers. I think that makes the case that if people want to watch the debate, they will do so.  Others would tune into Downton Abbey or Duck Dynasty, just to watch anything else besides the train wreck that the debate is sure to be.

trump in diaperIt is just one more piece of evidence, if we needed any more, of Trump’s level of maturity and his obsession with having everything his own way.  As I see it, he now has two options:  to do the debates or not.  A simple decision, though I suspect we will hear him rant many more times about how it was all a part of some grand plot to conspire against him.  I can hardly wait.  Sigh.