Good People Doing Good Things — Mister Rogers

I was scouring my usual sources for a few good people to write about today and I did find some, but they will have to wait until next week’s post, for during my search something popped up on my radar and by the time I finished reading it, I had tears and knew this would be my good people story this week.

We all knew that Fred Rogers, star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a good guy.  But this one story shows just how good, just how caring an individual he was.

It all started in early 1987 when …

A mother called into PBS, asking if Mr. Rogers could send an autograph to her daughter. She was suffering from seizures and set to have brain surgery. When Fred Rogers heard about it, he flew to see her in the hospital rather than merely sending an autograph.

When Beth Usher was in kindergarten she had her first seizure. Doctors couldn’t find the problem and sent Beth home.

A few days later, Beth had another seizure. Then another. And another. Eventually, she had around 100 seizures a day. She was diagnosed with Rasmussen’s encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disease that only affects one hemisphere of the brain.

Miraculously, during the 30 minutes when Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood aired, Beth never had a seizure.

“I found his voice comforting. I felt like he was talking to me and nobody else.”

Before surgery that involved removing parts of Beth’s brain affected by the disease, her mother Kathy reached out to the Mister Rogers Neighborhood studio and spoke with the secretary, explaining the situation and asking if she could get a signed copy of Mr. Rogers’ picture for Beth. Less than an hour later, the secretary called back with a special message.

“Will you be home this evening at 7? Fred would like to call and speak with Beth,” the secretary told Kathy. “He called, and I said to Beth, ‘Beth… there’s a friend on the phone for you.'”

Beth spent over an hour on the phone with Mr. Rogers.

“I told him things I hadn’t told my mom or dad. I told him about the surgery and how I thought I might die. It was like talking to an old friend.”

On February 4, 1987, Beth underwent a 12-hour procedure to remove the left hemisphere of her brain. Initially after surgery, she was fine. But things took an unexpected turn, and she slipped into a coma.

“Mr. Rogers would call the hospital every day to check up on me. When he found out I wasn’t improving, he decided to make a trip.”

Beth’s family and nurses stood in the doorway watching as Rogers removed his puppets from his case.

“He gave Beth her own private show,” said Beth’s mother.

Shortly after Mr. Rogers visit, Beth did wake, surrounded by friends.

When Mr. Rogers called that day, Kathy told him the good news.

“He said, ‘Praise God’.”

Mr. Rogers and Beth’s friendship continued through the years. He always called Beth on her birthday until his death in 2003.


In this age where it seems that people think it is ‘cool’ to curse and act stupid on television, Mr. Rogers was the gold standard for children’s television.  So much so that the story goes that his car was once stolen, but when the thieves saw the news coverage, they promptly returned the car with a note reading, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”

Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002, and one year later, after Rogers passed away at the age of 74, the U.S. Senate approved a resolution to commemorate his life.  It read, in part …

“Through his spirituality and placid nature, Mr. Rogers was able to reach out to our nation’s children and encourage each of them to understand the important role they play in their communities and as part of their families.  More importantly, he did not shy away from dealing with difficult issues of death and divorce but rather encouraged children to express their emotions in a healthy, constructive manner, often providing a simple answer to life’s hardships.”

Who knows how many lives he touched in such a positive way that those people grew into ‘good people’ themselves?  So, although I’m ‘a day late and dollar short’ as my grandpa used to say, I say Mr. Rogers deserves to be our ‘good people’ for this week!

“They Call Me Mr. Tibbs” — R.I.P. Sidney Poitier

It was less than a week ago that I shed a tear over the death of the beloved Betty White, and today I shed yet another upon reading of the death of another Hollywood icon, one who broke the colour barrier on the ‘big screen’, Sidney Poitier.  Mr. Poitier was 94 … not quite as old as Betty White who died just a few days short of her 100th birthday, but like White, he had a long and meaningful career … he made a difference.  How many of us can say that?

Sidney Poitier (r) with Nelson Mandela

A bit about Mr. Poitier’s start in life from today’s Washington Post

Sidney Poitier was born on Feb. 20, 1927, in Miami, where his parents were on a visit to sell tomatoes they had grown on their farm in the Bahamas. The family soon returned home, to the desperate poverty of Cat Island. His mother dressed the seven Poitier children in flour sacks.

At 15, after being jailed overnight for stealing corn, he was sent to live with an older brother in Miami who could provide a roof but little else. After the frightening encounter with police in Florida, he left for Harlem, hoping to find a more welcoming environment for Black people.

At first, he scrounged for change to sleep in pay toilets. When it became too cold to sleep on benches, he lied about his age (he was 16) and joined the Army in 1943.

He became a physiotherapist at an Army psychiatric institution on Long Island, but his anger at what he called the “abusive” attitude toward the patients and the racism he encountered at a local roadhouse antagonized him. Through the intervention of a sympathetic doctor, he received an honorable discharge.

Flipping through help-wanted ads in 1945, he saw a call for actors at the American Negro Theatre in New York. He figured it was easy work — that any profession that advertised next to requests for porters, busboys and dishwashers must require no special talent.

At his audition, Mr. Poitier’s unintelligible, singsong island accent dismayed theater founder Frederick O’Neal. But O’Neal was in such dire need of male actors that Mr. Poitier was hired with the understanding that he would also moonlight as the theater’s janitor.

During his first Broadway appearance, a small part in a 1946 production of Aristophanes’ ancient Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” Mr. Poitier suffered stage fright and began delivering lines out of order. But citing his “terrible fierce pride,” he later said he was determined to refine his skills. Over the next several years, his good looks and sensitivity as a performer brought him to the attention of Hollywood, and he made a strong impact in “No Way Out,” his film debut.

In his second feature film, Mr. Poitier was cast as a young clergyman in “Cry, the Beloved Country” (1951), based on Alan Paton’s novel about apartheid. Working on location in South Africa, Mr. Poitier was forced to live far from the studio, and he had to deal with other restrictions and insults. Officially, he was an “indentured laborer” of director Zoltan Korda. Mr. Poitier later called South Africa “on a racial, political and social level, the worst place I have ever been.”

Still a relative unknown on-screen, Mr. Poitier owned and operated a Harlem ribs restaurant to support his growing family between movie assignments. He had married Juanita Hardy, a model, in 1950, and they had four children.

As we now know, Mr. Poitier went on to help change the way the world viewed Black people through his many, many films and roles.  I first remember seeing him in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and then in To Sir with Love, both in 1967, but the role he may be most famous for was that of Virgil Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night.  There is no way I could possibly summarize Mr. Poitier’s life and career in a single blog post, nor will I try.  A few accolades are in order, however.  Mr. Poitier was the first Black man to win an Academy Award for best actor.

In 2002, Mr. Poitier received a lifetime achievement Oscar for “his extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence.” That year, Denzel Washington became the second Black man to win the best-actor Oscar.  In 2009, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

Mr. Poitier was modest about his legacy, saying …

“I was part of an influence that could be called paving the way. But I was only a part of it. I was selected almost by history itself. Most of my career unfolded in the 1960s, which was one of the periods in American history with certain attitudes toward minorities that stayed in vogue. I didn’t understand the elements swirling around. I was a young actor with some talent, an enormous curiosity, a certain kind of appeal. You wrap all that together and you have a potent mix.”

R.I.P. Sidney Poitier … you made a positive difference in the world.

♫ Uptight (Everything’s Alright) ♫

You already know that when I need a lift, I turn to da man, Mr. Stevie Wonder.  Tonight I need a lift, and this song just conveniently popped into my head as I was unloading the dishwasher.  My feet began to tingle, needing to tap, and my head began to sway back and forth just as Stevie’s often does when he sings.  Sadly, tapping feet and a swaying head while hefting a stack of plates into the cabinet may not be the wisest thing!

I knew that Stevie had been something of a child prodigy, but I didn’t realize he had his first #1 hit at the age of only 13!  Blind since birth, Stevie has overcome all obstacles and has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time. He has won 22 Grammy Awards. He was the first Motown artist and second African-American musician to win an Academy Award for Best Original Song, for the 1984 film The Woman in Red. Wonder has been inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, and has received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday in the United States. In 2009, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. In 2014, he was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Whew!  That’s quite a list of accomplishments … no wonder he had to start young!

StevieThis song was released in 1965 when Stevie was a ripe ol’ 15 years of age, and it was the first single that Stevie co-wrote.  An accompanying album, Up-Tight (1966), was rushed into production to capitalize on the single’s success. It also garnered Wonder his first two career Grammy Award nominations for Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance.

The single was a watershed in Wonder’s career for several reasons. Aside from the US number-one Fingertips (1963), only two of Wonder’s singles, Workout, Stevie, Workout (1963) and Hey Harmonica Man (1964) had both peaked inside of the top forty of the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #33 and #29 on that chart respectively. And despite receiving a modicum of chart success, the then 15-year-old Wonder was in danger of being let go. In addition, Wonder’s voice had begun to change, and Motown CEO Berry Gordy was worried that he would no longer be a commercially viable artist.

With the top Motown producers passing on Stevie, it was looking bleak until he started working with Sylvia Moy and Henry Cosby. Moy had Stevie play her different song ideas he had come up with, but wasn’t impressed with any of them. Pressing to make sure he didn’t have anything else, Wonder reluctantly played her something he had been working on: a ditty where he sang, “Everything is alright, uptight.” Moy likes what she heard and helped him develop the song along with Cosby. The song went to #3 in the US and from that point forward, Wonder was a regular at the top of the charts.

And now, get ready to tap your toes and sway your head, but put the dishes down first!

Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Stevie Wonder

Baby, everything is all right, uptight, out of sight
Baby, everything is all right, uptight, out of sight

I’m a poor man’s son, from across the railroad tracks
Only shirt I own is hanging on my back
But I’m the envy of every single guy
Since I’m the apple of my girl’s eye
When we go out stepping on the town for a while
My money’s low and my suit’s out of style
But it’s all right if my clothes aren’t new
Out of sight because my heart is true

She says, baby everything is alright, uptight, out of sight
Baby, everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight

She’s a pearl of a girl, I guess that’s what you might say
I guess her folks brought her up that way
The right side of the tracks, she was born and raised
In a great big old house, full of butlers and maids
She says no one is better than I, I know I’m just an average guy

No football hero or smooth Don Juan
Got empty pockets, you see I’m a poor man’s son
Can’t give her the things that money can’t buy
But I’ll never, never make my baby cry
And it’s all right, what I can’t do
Out of sight because my heart is true

She says, baby everything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight
Baby, everything is all right, uptight, clean out of sight
Baby, everything is all right, uptight, hahahahaha, yeah
Baby, everything is all right, uptight, way out of sight
Baby, everything is all right, uptight-

Source: Musixmatch
Songwriters: Wonder Stevie / Moy Sylvia Rose / Cosby Henry
Uptight (Everything’s Alright) lyrics © Black Bull Music, Stone Agate Music, Jobete Music Co. Ltd., Sawandi Music, Jobete Music Co Inc, Jobete Music Co., Inc.

Oh Da Snark Keeps On Coming …

How much snark can a snarkster snark?  A lot, it would appear.  Between the pandemic and the republicans’ refusal to accept reality, the snark buildup is something to behold.  If it were a tangible thing, it would tower over the tallest buildings and take a demolition crew at least a year to remove it.  Luckily, it isn’t tangible and exists only in the corners of my mind.  And so on it goes …


The honour is gone …

Yesterday, the outgoing ‘president’, Donald Trump, awarded another Medal of Freedom.  He has given these out willy-nilly throughout his tenure in office, the most ridiculous having gone to right-wing conspiracy theorist Rush Limbaugh in February.  The medal he awarded yesterday was to a wrestler.  What wrestler Dan Gable actually did to earn the medal is unclear … my best guess is he donated to Trump’s re-election fund.

Let me plainly state that at this point, the Medal of Freedom is no longer an honour, has no relevancy, no real meaning.  Those who actually earned the medal for their work in civil rights or other humanitarian causes should send their medals back to the White House with a note saying that the medal is severely tarnished and it is no longer the honour it once was.

During his awarding of the medal, Trump did not miss an opportunity to toot his own horn … falsely, as it happens, when he said …

“He won 117 consecutive matches and lost only one. Well, you know, in politics, I won two, so I’m 2-0, and that’s pretty good, too. But we’ll see how that turns out.”

No, you son of a bitch, you did not win 2!  You didn’t even win one, but through a fluke in the electoral college system you were installed into an office you never deserved!

Sports figures have been awarded the medal in the past for things they accomplished off the field, such as Jackie Robinson who was awarded the medal posthumously for his work in civil rights.  Gable apparently ‘earned’ his award simply for being able to fight people and come out on top.  Wow, huh?


Speaking of Trumps …Tennis Anyone?

Melania came under criticism yesterday when she announced that that a new tennis pavilion is set to be unveiled on the south grounds of the White House.  A f$%&ing tennis pavilion when more than a quarter of a million people in this country have died of the coronavirus this year and more than 2,000 are dying nearly every day!  A damn tennis pavilion!  But then, what do you expect from a nude model who married a circus master for his money and a path to citizenship and stays with him for the money.  What more could you expect from a woman who, when going to visit abused children being forced to live in cages wore a jacket that said, “I really don’t care do U?”

I wonder how much the damn tennis pavilion cost we the taxpayers?  The project has been ongoing for over a year, since October 2019, so I’m guessing it cost us a pretty penny!  According to Politico, “the White House did not disclose the cost”. 

Molly Jong-Fast, editor-at-large for the Daily Beast, had the perfect response:

“Oh good, those people in their ICU beds will feel so much better knowing that she has finished her tennis pavilion.”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.


He LOST … get over it!!!

As of midnight last night, only two states, Hawaii and Missouri, have yet to certify their state’s election results.  The current count stands at 302 electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden and 222 for Donald Trump.  Nothing foreseeable is likely to change that result.  It is time, my friends, for our elected representatives to accept the election results, call Joe Biden to congratulate him, and let us move on!

Electoral

Last week, I wrote (again) to Ohio’s republican senator, Rob Portman, to tell him that I am disappointed in the fact that he is not supporting the election results, has not stated that Joe Biden is the President-elect.  Yesterday morning, I received a cordial response from him (again), basically admitting that there is nothing that is likely going to change the outcome, but still … he hesitates.  In his letter, he apparently thought I was something of a dumbo, and he proceeded to explain to me how elections work, as per the Constitution.  Given that I have both a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science and have studied Constitutional Law for many years, I was a bit offended by his condescension, but not enough to respond to him as such.

The bottom line is that he and likely the majority of the republicans in Congress are well aware that Joe Biden will be taking the Oath of Office at noon in just 43 days, regardless of what Trump tries to do in the interim.  They need to open their damn mouths and speak the truth … it would go a long way toward beginning to calm the ruffled feathers of the people in this nation.


And speaking of Trump’s shenanigans …

After his efforts to coerce Georgia Governor Brian Kemp to overturn the will of the people fell on deaf ears, now he turns his sights to Pennsylvania once again.  In the past week, he has twice called Pennsylvania Speaker of the House Brian Cutler, pleading with him to use the state legislature to override the will of the people.  Cutler turned him down, but … then Cutler implored the Pennsylvania representatives on Capitol Hill to object to the state’s electoral votes when Congress convenes to formally accept the votes of the Electoral College.  WTF???

baby-trump

This is beyond old, people.  This is the third time that Trump has, in violation of all federal ethics laws, attempted to subvert the voices of the people.  NO MORE!  Somebody shut this braying ass up and NOW!  He is doing more damage by the day to the people of this nation.  Maybe the republicans find some perverse humour in all of this, but it has given me stomach ulcers and cost me many night’s sleep.  Trump reminds me of a spoiled brat child who will upend the entire household in order to get another cookie.

Watch this asshole representative from Indiana prove just what a big idiot he is … George Stephanopoulos didn’t even have to help him!

The math is not hard.  7 million more people voted for Biden than Trump.  Biden won.  Trump lost.  End of story.  Grow up, America, and play by those rules you claim to believe in.  Stop supporting a wanna-be dictator who cannot accept his loss, cannot accept that we are tired of him destroying what’s left of the democratic principles in this nation.  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Black History Month — Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson died today at the age of 101.  When the ‘breaking news’ flashed across my screen, I was working on a different post, but I quickly switched gears.  Some of you may not recognize her name, so let me tell you just a bit about Ms. Johnson.

Katherine Johnson loved to count.

“I counted everything. I counted the steps to the road, the steps up to church, the number of dishes and silverware I washed … anything that could be counted, I did.”

And so it began for this young girl from West Virginia in the U.S. Born in 1918 in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., Johnson’s love for mathematics was inherent, an inclination she had from birth. At a young age, she was ready and anxious to go to school. She could vividly remember watching her older siblings go to school and wishing so much that she could go with them. The opportunity to attend school finally did come. Johnson so excelled that she began her studies in the second grade, then moved into advanced classes. By age 10, Johnson was in high school.

In school, one teacher stood out to Johnson. Miss Turner taught geometry, and Johnson couldn’t wait to take her class. The teacher was a great encourager to the students and a strong mentor to many of them. Johnson did so well in her classes that she graduated early from high school, and at age 15 she entered West Virginia State College. She had two years before having to declare a major, so Johnson wavered between English, French and mathematics. One of her professors at West Virginia State College helped Johnson with her choice. She told Johnson, “If you don’t show up for my class, I will come and find you.” And so it was, through part threat and part joke, Johnson steered her way into what was already her first love: mathematics.

At West Virginia State College, Johnson became immersed in academia and the mathematics program. She loved being surrounded by smart people, she said, and knew all of the professors and students on campus. One of her professors, the renowned Dr. William W. Schiefflin Claytor, recognized the bright and inquisitive mind that Johnson had. “You’d make a great research mathematician,” he told her. Then professor Claytor did something else. He told Johnson that he would help her become one. Johnson said…

“Many professors tell you that you’d be good at this or that, but they don’t always help you with that career path. Professor Claytor made sure I was prepared to be a research mathematician. Claytor was a young professor himself, and he would walk into the room, put his hand in his pocket, and take some chalk out, and continue yesterday’s lesson. But sometimes I could see that others in the class did not understand what he was teaching. So, I would ask questions to help them. He’d tell me that I should know the answer, and I finally had to tell him that I did know the answer, but the other students did not. I could tell.”

He saw that Johnson took all of the mathematics classes listed in the catalog that were needed to pursue her life’s passion, and even went so far as to create a class in analytic geometry of space just for her. At age 18, Johnson graduated summa cum laude with Bachelor of Science degrees in mathematics and French!

Johnson ended up teaching after college; at that time, teaching was the only option for her in her community. And then one day, at a family function in the 1950s, a relative mentioned to Johnson that the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, was hiring. They were specifically looking for African-American females to work as “computers” in what was then their Guidance and Navigation Department. In the 1950s, pools of women at NACA did calculations that the engineers needed worked or verified. Johnson immediately applied for the job, but the agency already had filled its quota for the year. By the time the next year rolled around, Johnson had applied again and found herself with two contracts on her table. One was a contract to teach, and one was to work for NACA. Remembering what professor Claytor had always told her about becoming a research mathematician, she took the job at NACA.

Johnson began working for NACA in 1953. She started as one of the women who worked on problems assigned from the engineers in what was then the Guidance and Control Branch. As Johnson worked on the problems, she would ask questions. She didn’t want to just do the work — she wanted to know the “hows” and the “whys” and then the “why nots.” None of the other women had ever asked questions before, but by asking questions, Johnson began to stand out. She was told that women didn’t participate in the briefings or attend meetings; she asked if there were a law against it. The answer, of course, was no, and so Johnson began to attend briefings. NACA was just beginning its work on space. Space itself may be perceived as a series of plane surfaces, and as Johnson became known for her training in geometry, she began to work with the team more and more. Eventually, she became known as a leader, and the men increasingly relied on her. She remembers quite clearly her experience at the time.

“The women did what they were told to do. They didn’t ask questions or take the task any further. I asked questions; I wanted to know why. They got used to me asking questions and being the only woman there.”

It was this inquisitive nature that made her a valuable resource to the team and the only woman at the time to ever be pulled from the computing pool to work on other programs.Katherine-Johnson-2In 1957, Katherine provided some of the math for the 1958 document Notes on Space Technology, a compendium of a series of 1958 lectures given by engineers in the Flight Research Division and the Pilotless Aircraft Research Division (PARD). Engineers from those groups formed the core of the Space Task Group, the NACA’s first official foray into space travel, and Katherine, who had worked with many of them since coming to Langley, “came along with the program” as the NACA became NASA later that year.

In 1960, she and engineer Ted Skopinski coauthored Determination of Azimuth Angle at Burnout for Placing a Satellite Over a Selected Earth Position, a report laying out the equations describing an orbital spaceflight in which the landing position of the spacecraft is specified. It was the first time a woman in the Flight Research Division had received credit as an author of a research report.

Then in 1962, President John F. Kennedy charged the country to send a man to the moon. Johnson became part of the team, and she began to work on calculating the trajectory for America’s first space trip with Alan Shepherd’s 1961 mission, an early step toward a moon landing. She went on to do the calculations for the first actual moon landing in 1969.Katherine-Johnson-5In 1962, when NASA used computers to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, Glenn had one request: He wanted Katherine Johnson to personally recheck the calculations made by the new electronic computers before his flight aboard Friendship 7 – the mission on which he became the first American to orbit the Earth.

Katherine-Johnson-4Johnson worked at the agency until 1986, when she retired after 33 years of service. During her tenure at NASA, Johnson received many prestigious awards, including an honorary Doctor of Law degree and an honorary Doctor of Science degree. In 2015, at age 97, Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.

Johnson’s pivotal role, along with others at NASA, was highlighted in the 2016 film Hidden Figures, based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.  The film was nominated for three Oscars, including best picture. Though it won none, the 98½-year-old Mrs. Johnson received a sustained standing ovation when she appeared onstage with the cast at the Academy Awards ceremony that February.

R.I.P. Ms. Johnson, and the nation thanks you for your great contributions.

 

 

Snarky Snippets — Yes, Again

Good afternoon, my friends!  As you might expect, the events of the last two days – Iowa caucus, impeachment trial, State of the Union address – have my hackles raised and have left me filled with snarky angst.  And you know what that means, right?  Snarky Snippets!


The economy is … what???

Trump claims the economy is so great, but I see signs to the contrary.  One of the largest and oldest retailers, Macy’s, plans to shut down 125 stores over the next three years, 30 in this year alone.  They will also be cutting some 2,000 corporate jobs.  Hmmmm … that doesn’t sound like a sign of a booming economy to me.

Yesterday it was announced that the number of homeless students in the U.S. is at its highest number in over a decade – 1.5 million!  Most are staying with friends or other family members, but some 7% are living in abandoned buildings or cars.  It begs the question, for whom is the economy so great?

As I mentioned in a previous post, there is more to the economy than just the stock market and employment rates.


Time for her to go

The self-serving senator from Maine, Susan Collins, lost part of her vertebrae and found it impossible to stand for what is right, once again, so she plans to vote to acquit Trump on both charges today, along with all but two of the other republican boot-lickers.  But Sue had an interesting spin … she is convinced that because of the impeachment, Trump will be a better president going forward …

“I believe that the president has learned from this case.  The president has been impeached. That’s a pretty big lesson.  He was impeached. And there has been criticism by both Republican and Democratic senators of his call. I believe that he will be much more cautious in the future.”

Oh, sure, Sue … he’s going to stop calling people names, stop using vulgar language, start acting like a human, stop throwing away OUR money on his damn wall, start supporting humanitarian causes, and treat our allies like friends instead of like enemies.  Perhaps we should all sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya?

Susan Collins wasn’t alone in her blind stupidity, though.  Senator Joni Ernst was equally sycophantic …

“I think that he knows now that, if he is trying to do certain things — whether it’s ferreting out corruption there, in Afghanistan, whatever it is — he needs to go through the proper channels.”

Are these people really so utterly clueless, so stupid?  No, I don’t think so … I think they know full well that Trump has broken just about every law in the book in his efforts to first get and then hold the center of power that is the Oval Office.  I simply think they care more about their own future than ours.


A few had courage

Kudos to four members of Congress who skipped the campaign rally/State of the Union address last night:

  • Ayanna Pressley: “The State of the Union is hurting because of the occupant of the White House, who consistently demonstrates contempt for the American people, contempt for Congress & contempt for our constitution. I cannot in good conscience attend tonight’s sham.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “After much deliberation, I have decided that I will not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution. None of this is normal, and I will not legitimize it. Consequently, I will not be attending the State of the Union.”
  • Maxine Waters: “To think that I would attend the #SOTU to hear the message of an IMPEACHED president is a thought that in no way would be consistent w/ my fight and struggle against this dishonorable president. I will certainly NOT be there!”
  • Bobby Rush: “It would be painfully hypocritical of me to endure 90 minutes of unrelenting lies and all types of distortions and untruths, while at the same time watching his Republican apologists cheer. I cannot honor this man in any way.”

I’m told that several other democrats did walk out during the speech, once they realized that it was being turned into little more than a campaign rally.  What, I wonder, kept the rest of the democrats in Congress from doing the same?  I’m sure they will claim professionalism, but frankly the time has come for them to show the nation that this “president” is not legitimate, that he deserves no respect.  At least House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave him the proverbial finger when she ripped up her copy of his speech, later explaining that she couldn’t find a single page that contained truth.


A slap in the face

I do not know of another time in the history of the nation that the Presidential Medal of Freedom was awarded to such an undeserving person as Rush Limbaugh.  Mr. Limbaugh is a racist, a misogynist extraordinaire, a hypocrite who calls abortion “murder”, yet fully supports the death penalty.  He is a climate denier and referred to the 2017 Women’s March as “”Deranged Feminazi March”.  While not of the same caliber as Alex Jones, Limbaugh has engaged in a number of his own conspiracy theories, and his statements have an 84% “untrue” rating.  He has done not one damn thing in his entire adulthood that would qualify him for the Presidential Medal of Freedom … not one!  

And yet, during his State of the Union address, Donald Trump awarded him that honour.  Why?  No doubt because Mr. Limbaugh has been such a strong supporter of Trump’s, has defended the indefensible time and time again.  This, my friends, is a slap in the face to the people such as Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa who have received the medal for acts of bravery and humanitarianism.  In fact, this is a slap in the face to every person in this country.  The medal no longer has any meaning, any value.  It is naught but a trinket, handed out for political favours.

There will no doubt be some who tell me that I shouldn’t criticize Limbaugh, who has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer, but let me make my position clear from the outset:  being ill does not suddenly erase all the evil he has perpetuated.  He is not a good man, not a kind man, not deserving of any honour, let alone the freedom medal.


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I Can’t Seem To Stop The Snarky …

Will there ever come a day that I don’t have an excess of angst just bubbling over, demanding to put fingers to the keyboard and words to the page?  I have my doubts.


On Sunday morning, Trump posted the following tweet that was liked by 52 thousand mindless people:

“A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

There are multiple problems with these brief 103 words.

The first, of course, is that the New York Times is not failing, nor is The Washington Post, and that neither are necessarily dishonest, though they occasionally get it wrong.  Both have made mistakes, and to their credit, they have printed apologies and retractions when necessary.  Neither are “the enemy of the people”, and in fact they are #2 and #3 on my daily source list, preceded only by The Guardian.

The second problem with Trump’s tweet is that Trump is doing nothing that even has the remotest chance of making the United States ‘great’, and it is highly speculative that he will have another six years, at least, if we have such a thing as a fair and honest election in 2020.

And lastly, though perhaps most importantly, is his innuendo that perhaps “people would demand [he] stay longer”.  No.  Effing.  Way.  The United States Constitution which, albeit singed around the edges, remains in place today, is clear on just how long a president may serve, and it is not one single day over eight years.  Trump will be an exception ONLY IF he is, at the end of his term, a dictator rather than a president.  If that happens, I blame every single person who ever voted for him, who ever attended one of his rallies and chanted “lock her up”, or who ever wore a maga hat.


Arthur-Laffer

Arthur Laffer

On Wednesday, Trump will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a man named Arthur Laffer. Who, you might ask, is Arthur Laffer?  Laffer is best known for the Laffer curve, an illustration of the concept that there exists some tax rate between 0% and 100% that will result in maximum tax revenue for government.  More to the point, Laffer was an economic advisor to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.  This, more than anything, is why he is receiving the Medal of Freedom.  Like Miriam Adelson, who received the medal last year for no reason other than her and her husband’s magnanimous donations to Trump’s election campaign in 2016. The medal no longer has any meaning for it is now being given as a reward to those who lick Trump’s boots.


Last week ABC News aired an interview on This Week between Donald Trump an ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.  There is quite a bit that was of interest in the interview, and the part where he said he would accept information from a foreign entity about his political opponent if it were offered has already been discussed at some length in the news and other blogs.  But, I want to share with you a bit of the dialogue they had concerning Robert Mueller’s report.  Remember, folks, don’t expect truth from the mouth of da trumpeter …

STEPHANOPOULOS:  What’s your pitch to the swing voter on the fence? 

TRUMP: Safety, security, great economy. I think I’ve done more than any other first-term president ever. I have a phony witch hunt, which is just a phony pile of stuff. Mueller comes out. There’s no collusion. And essentially a ruling that no obstruction. And they keep going with it. You know what? People are angry about it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: I don’t think that’s why he found — but we don’t have time for that now. We’ll talk about later.

TRUMP: That is what they found. Excuse me. He found no collusion. And they didn’t find anything having to do with obstruction because they made a ruling based on his findings and they said no obstruction.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They didn’t examine collusion. He laid out evidence of obstruction. 

TRUMP: Oh, are you trying to say now that there was collusion even though he said there was no collusion? 

STEPHANOPOULOS: He didn’t say there’s no collusion. 

TRUMP: He said no collusion.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He said he didn’t look at collusion.

TRUMP: George, the report said no collusion. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did you read the report? 

TRUMP: Uh, yes I did, and you should read it, too. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: I read every word.

TRUMP: All right, let’s go. You should read it, too, George.

monday-toon-1It’s reminiscent of an Abbott and Costello clip, don’t you think?  A more stupid man has never sat in the Oval Office.  And then the conversation turned to former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who testified under oath to Robert Mueller’s team that Trump had asked him to fire Mueller, and then later that he had asked him to deny that he had ever asked him.

TRUMP: I don’t care what he says. It doesn’t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was. Now, he may have gotten confused with the fact that I’ve always said, and I’ve said it to you, and I’ve said to anybody that would listen, Robert Mueller was conflicted. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: But why would Don McGahn lie — … Why would he lie under oath? Why would he lie under oath to Robert Mueller?

TRUMP: Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer. Or — or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen, including you, including the media, that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.

After the interview, he tweeted …

“Think I will do many more Network Interviews, as I did in 2016, in order to get the word out that no President has done what I have in … the first 2 1/2 years of his Presidency, including the fact that we have one of the best Economies in the history of our Country. It is called Earned Media. In any event, enjoy the show!”

I think it is a threat to torture us!  And by the way … Trump’s approval rating based on an aggregate of polls rose from 41.2% to 42.5% just last week … an increase of 1.3%.  Can anybody ‘splain to me what the heck he did last week to make more people like him???


Last but not least, I promised a picture of my latest bumper sticker …

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And now, I return you to your own life, and I am going to knead some onion bread for tonight’s supper.

Good People Doing Good Things — Mr. Rogers

Once again, I take a short detour from my normal ‘good people’ post to honour someone who died 16 years ago today, but throughout his life was most definitely a shining example of a ‘good people’.

Mr. Rogers-header-3I’m fairly certain that I don’t need to introduce Mr. Rogers to those of you in the U.S., who have almost certainly seen Mr. Rogers on his children’s television show, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  I find no evidence that it was aired across the pond, however, so Mr. Rogers may not be familiar to our European friends.

Now, just being the host of a kids’ television show doesn’t automatically qualify one as a good person, but Fred Rogers went well beyond the call to entertain children, but also gave them something more, a sense of self-worth as well as a sense of security.

Mr. Rogers-header-2During the 33-year tenure of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, he tackled a wide variety of topics, addressing some of the fears and anxieties that most children have, such as the first day of school, a trip to the hospital, death, divorce, AIDS, and war. He felt that children were far too intuitive to accept the normal response of adults to children, “don’t worry about it”, and that kids would worry anyway, so it was better to talk about these things, to explain them.

His calm demeanor was reassuring, and it was the real Fred Rogers.  He refused to change his persona on camera compared to how he acted off camera, saying …

“One of the greatest gifts you can give anybody is the gift of your honest self. I also believe that kids can spot a phony a mile away.”

Fred Rogers graduated magna cum laude from Rollins College with a degree in music in 1951.  When he returned to his parents’ house, he found they had bought a newfangled contraption called a ‘television’ set, or ‘t.v.’ for short.  But he hated what he saw on the t.v.  All he saw was angry people throwing pies in each other’s faces, and he vowed then and there to use the medium to make the world a better place.Mr. McFeely-Mr. RogersAnd he did just that.  He tackled the tough subjects that sometimes parents are afraid to talk to their children about.  Shortly after his show began in 1968, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated.  Mr. Rogers took on the topic in a manner that few could, by explaining that it’s okay to be sad when something like this happens, and that different people react differently to such sadness.  It is one of his most memorable and most-watched clips.Mr. Rogers-feet.jpgOn another notable episode, Rogers soaked his feet alongside Officer Clemmons, who was African-American, in a kiddie pool on a hot day. The scene was a subtle symbolic message of inclusion during a time when racial segregation in the United States was widespread.

In a 1981 segment aired in Season 11, Episode 4, Rogers met a young quadriplegic boy, Jeff Erlanger, who showed how his electric wheelchair worked and explained why he needed it. Erlanger and Rogers both sang a duet of the song “It’s You I Like.”  Years later, when Rogers was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999, Erlanger was a surprise guest to introduce Rogers. Rogers “leaped” out of his seat and straight onto the stage when Erlanger appeared.

He ended each show by saying …

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just your being you. There’s no person in the whole world like you; and I like you just the way you are.”

Fred Rogers was a religious man, an ordained a minister of the United Presbyterian Church, but he left religion out of his show, saying he preferred his show to be inclusive, not to let any child feel left out or unwanted.  Rather, his theme was ‘kindness’, pure and simple.   Or, as many have defined it, ‘radical kindness’.

Daniel-Mr. RogersMr. Rogers did more than talk to kids each day, he advocated for them.  In 1969, Rogers appeared before the United States Senate Subcommittee on Communications. His goal was to support funding for PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, in response to proposed budget cuts. In about six minutes of testimony, Rogers spoke of the need for social and emotional education that public television provided. He argued that alternative television programming like his Neighborhood helped encourage children to become happy and productive citizens, sometimes opposing less positive messages in the media and in popular culture. He even recited the lyrics to one of his songs.

The chairman of the subcommittee, John O. Pastore, was not familiar with Rogers’ work and was sometimes described as impatient. However, he reported that the testimony had given him goosebumps, and declared, “I think it’s wonderful. Looks like you just earned the $20 million.” The subsequent congressional appropriation, for 1971, increased PBS funding from $9 million to $22 million.

Years later, Mr. Rogers also swayed the Supreme Court to allow VCR’s to record TV shows from home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.Mr. Rogers-headerFred Rogers died on this date in 2003 of stomach cancer, but his memory lives on through the many children, now adults, who were touched by his words and acts of kindness for more than three decades.  He won numerous awards, including four daytime Emmys, a 1997 Lifetime Achievement award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and, in 2002, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1999, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame.

As I said in the beginning, I don’t typically honour people in my ‘good people’ posts posthumously, though I did so once before when I featured Mike Ilitch  two years ago.  But our friend Ellen made this as a suggestion a few days ago, and as the anniversary of his death fell on a Wednesday, it seemed somehow right, for Fred Rogers was indeed a “good people”.