Some ‘Toons For Your Weekend Chuckles

No matter how dark and seemingly humourless things get in the world of politics, the cartoonists always seem to manage to find the humour.  Some people have that talent … unfortunately, I have two left hands when it comes to drawing anything!  Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of the ones I thought were the best of the bunch from the past week or so.  Naturally, the Dominion v Fox case and settlement took the headlines, so let’s start there …

But there was other news for the ‘toonists to tackle as well …

USSC, Supreme COurt, low polling, lack of trust, Clarence Thomas, Trump Justices, political cartoon

Now go forth and have a fun weekend … put all the detritus out of your mind and just enjoy life for a few hours.

The Republican Taliban?

It would be a misstatement to say that Republican males hate women.  They don’t hate us, but they also don’t see us as equals, either physically, intellectually, or culturally.  We are, it would appear, put on this earth for their pleasure, to meet all their needs – sexually, taking care of their homes, cooking their meals, etc.  Sadly, they have convinced many Republican women that this is the case, and those women dutifully, as Loretta Lynn once sang, Stand By Your Man.  Thus, the majority of Republicans are trying in this, the 21st century, to return women to their ‘place’ as they were in the last century and before.  When we speak of “women’s rights”, Republicans roll their eyes as if we were ignorant children and completely ignore the laws that have given us such rights as equality in the workplace, the right to vote, to own property, divorce our husbands, and the rights to make our own healthcare decisions, just as men do.  We women would be well-advised to stock up on clothes hangers before they ban those, too!

Joyce Vance of Substack, has written of the latest decision by a Texas judge to further strip us of our rights, and she does so far better than I could …

No More Mifepristone

Joyce Vance

08 April 2023

On the Friday before Easter, just after the end of the work week in Texas, a federal judge in Amarillo decided that Mifepristone, one of two key drugs used for medicated abortion, should be banned. This despite 20 years of data showing it’s safe and effective. Mifepristone has a lower rate of complications than Tylenol.

The judge also entered a stay, which means his order won’t go into effect for seven days. He did it to give the government an opportunity to appeal. But if neither the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, deeply conservative after a tranche of Trump appointments, nor the Supreme Court orders a lengthier extension, legal access to Mifepristone will come to an end. Not just in Texas, but nationwide.

The government didn’t need seven days. It filed its appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals a few hours after the decision.

DOJ was prepared to file immediately because they understood the inevitable ruling in this case. Judge Kacsmaryk, who the plaintiffs judge-shopped for by filing this case in the Amarillo division where virtually all cases are assigned to him, has a background of deep antagonism to letting pregnant people make their own decisions. Kacsmaryk’s legal ruling affects the entire country, not just Texas. A federal district judge in Washington state entered a ruling ordering the FDA to keep Mifepristone on the market, just moments after the Texas ruling.  But Kacsmaryk  entered a nationwide injunction that rescinds the FDA’s approval of Mifepristone nationwide—even in states where abortion is still legal and without exception for the mother’s health.

That’s not the legal landscape the Supreme Court said it was creating when it ended 50 years of abortion rights under Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs case. When the Court decided Dobbs, it said decisions about whether and under what circumstances abortion should be legal would be left up to each state. But now, Judge Kacsmaryk has made that decision for all of us—you and me, for our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends, regardless of medical necessity or our personal religious and moral beliefs. Judge Kacsmaryk knows best.

Challenged legal rulings are typically stayed to preserve the status quo while appeals work their way through the courts. But the post-Trump, uber-conservative Supreme Court has always had a different jurisprudence when it comes to abortion, permitting restrictive measures like Texas’s SB-8 vigilante justice law to go into effect while the appeal was pending. Nothing says “result-oriented” like special rules for anti-abortion litigants (to say nothing of reversing the long-standing precedent of Roe that had worked well to balance rights and did not meet the Court’s test for when precedent should be reversed). It’s tempting to think the Court might decide the Mifepristone decision is a bridge too far, if not based on legal principles and the expectations it set when it decided Dobbs, then out of purely pragmatic political considerations some of Justice Clarence Thomas’s billionaire friends might want to see in order to avoid steep Republican losses at the polls following yet another anti-abortion decision. But it’s difficult to imagine this Court walking it back so close to its goal of extinguishing abortion rights. DOJ has strong arguments to make on appeal—compelling ones on threshold issues like whether the plaintiffs had standing to bring this case, as well as on the merits. Whether the Court will give them a fair hearing is an entirely different matter.

Soon, we’ll find out if the Court meant it when it said abortion would be up to the states. Or, can one judge in Texas resurrect the long-disfavored Comstock Act and terminate people’s rights across America. The Act is an 1873 law that makes it illegal to advertise or mail anything, including information, related to preventing contraception or producing abortion (as well as outlawing sending “obscene, lewd or lascivious,” “immoral,” or “indecent” publications). The Comstock Act fell into disuse because of its effect on 1st Amendment rights—it involves prior restraint by the government on speech. The prohibition on materials and items related to contraception was removed after the Supreme Court’s 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which held that Connecticut’s “mini-Comstock” law unconstitutionally invaded the privacy rights of married couples. Be concerned about where a resuscitation of this law could lead.

Restricting abortion today does not seem to be about good faith conservative values and protecting the sanctity of life. It’s hard to believe that a party that denies access to basic medical care and education, and that lets school kids die at the hands of mass shooters in the name of the Second Amendment is deeply committed to unborn children, unless it’s become somehow morally righteous to protect them only until they leave the womb. Ending abortion is a political rallying cry, used to bring voters to the polls and raise money, with a healthy side-effect of owning uppity liberal women.

It’s really not that difficult. If you’re against abortion, don’t get one. We live in a pluralistic society and there are religions other than conservative Christianity, for instance Judaism, that command their followers to protect the life of a mother over that of an unborn fetus. Somehow, their rights are now ignored, while a minority that has gained control of the Supreme Court dictates to the rest of us.

Interestingly, banning Mifepristone isn’t just part of the trend to make abortion less available, it’s also part of the trend to make it less safe and to endanger women’s lives. I spoke with Jesanna Cooper, a friend and a doctor in Birmingham, who is an experienced Ob-Gyn. She told me, “the take home is that without mifepristone more people will hemorrhage and/or get septic from incomplete expulsion of the products of conception.” Using Misoprostol, the other drug used in a medication abortion procedure, alone is “less effective,” she told me. It involves the “same amount of pain but [is] more likely to be incomplete, which can be dangerous.” It doesn’t sound very pro-life.

More information about the two drugs, if you want to read some of the science, here.

In 1996, then-Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (D-CO), tried to convince the House to take the Comstock Act off the books. They didn’t. But her floor speech has resonance today. She explained that the Act was named for a man named Anthony Comstock, who “was one of these people who decided only he knew what was virtuous and right, and somehow he managed to convince all sorts of people that this was correct.” That sounds familiar.

She continued, “Anthony Comstock was a religious fanatic who spent his life in a personal crusade for moral purity–as defined, of course, by himself. This crusade resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of a multitude of Americans whose only crime was to exercise their constitutional right of free speech in ways that offended Anthony Comstock. Women seemed to particularly offend Anthony Comstock, most particularly women who believed in the right to plan their families through the use of contraceptives, or in the right of women to engage in discussions and debate about matters involving sexuality, including contraception and abortion.” We don’t need a new Anthony Comstock and we don’t need Judge Kacsmaryk to dictate the health care—or absence of it—to people across the country.

You know what the solution is: go vote. Democrats will need sufficient majorities in both houses of Congress to restore protections for abortion. It’s not enough to win the House or the Senate, Democrats must take both to ensure access to abortion, and 2024 is not that far off.

We’re in this together,


Joyce Vance is an American lawyer who served as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 2009 to 2017. She was one of the first five U.S. Attorneys, and the first female U.S. Attorney, nominated by President Barack Obama.

Our good friend Annie also has an excellent take on this that I hope you’ll take time to read.

Filosofa’s Famous Snarky Snippets!

It’s hard to focus on a single topic these days, as there are so many things pulling our attention, demanding a voice in our heads!  I’ve been working on two posts for over a week now, but every time I get back to them, I seem to veer off on some other tangent.  I will get them finished though, and soon, before they lose their relevance … as if anything ever does any more!  Meanwhile, I have a bunch of angst building over a few little snippets from the last day or so, and you know what that means!  It means it’s time for some of Filosofa’s famous Snarky Snippets!

O’ Da Hypocrisy!!!

Contradictions and hypocrisy are the platform of the Republicans

From Jonathan V. Last’s newsletter “The Id theory of politics”

It’s not like Republican voters have been overburdened by logical consistency over the last decade. By turns they have:

  • Insisted that character and virtue are the paramount issues in politics; then voted for the thrice-married liar who cheated on his postpartum wife with a porn star and was on the cover of Playboy.
  • Proclaimed the importance of Christian teaching in public policy; then celebrated using refugees as political pawns.
  • Claimed that January 6th was a false-flag operation conducted by Antifa activists; insisted the protests were entirely peaceful; and also believed that the people engaging in violence were brave patriots trying to stop a constitutional usurpation of the presidency.
  • Demanded unquestioning support of law enforcement when minorities are beaten or killed by police; then argued for defunding the FBI when it investigated Trump and also called the Capitol Police crisis actors after January 6th.
  • Argued that America shouldn’t be giving aid to Ukraine because we should be “helping people at home”—even though they opposed the Child Tax Credit to help working families.

What a mum!

Here’s one to make you roll your eyes and shake your head …

Michigan Man Arrested For YouTube Threats Against Whitmer And Biden

Randall Robert Berka II was arrested and charged with federal firearms violations after Google tipped off the feds that he was making threatening remarks on YouTube, according to news reports and court filings.

There’s a lot going on here (emphasis mine):

Investigators went to Berka’s house, in Huron County, and spoke with his mother, who said she had purchased a handgun and three long guns for her son in the past year. She said he keeps the guns, as well as ammunition and body armor, in his room at their house.

Berka was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment in 2012, court documents say, and his mental health history is what prohibits him from having a gun. His mother told investigators she didn’t think his treatments are working and that he should be arrested and imprisoned.

The YouTube rants also included threats against FBI agents and the LGBT community.

His threats were made using the handle “@killthefeds42”, writing …

  • “Hey FBI! My name is Randall the 2nd and I live in Sebewaing Michigan and I am willing to kill these people.”
  • “im going to kill these democrats biden deserves to die” and that he was “more than willing” to kill Gov. Whitmer, also a Democrat. He also allegedly wrote that LGBTQ+ people need to “die and be genocided.”

Now, he is obviously a problem and should not walk among us, but the thing that I don’t understand is the mother.  WHY THE HELL would she buy guns for her son, knowing of his threats, knowing of his mental illness???  Personally, I think the mother should be in a cell right next to her son!

And down in South Carolina …

There is currently a proposal in the South Carolina General Assembly that would make people who obtain abortion care eligible for the death penalty.  Did you hear that?  Death Penalty.  And this from those who call themselves the “Right to Life” bunch???

Now, you might say that this is just a fringe bunch of Republicans and that the bill is going nowhere, but as it happens, 21 Republican legislators are in support of this bill!  Proposed by state Representative Rob Harris, it is titled the “South Carolina Prenatal Equal Protection Act of 2023” and does not include an exception for people whose pregnancies result from rape or incest.  Some who have read the proposal say that the language is vague enough to suggest that some people who suffer miscarriages could become eligible for the death penalty.  WTF????

I have to ask the question … what do you think they would say if someone proposed making men who have vasectomies eligible for the death penalty?  I’m telling you, sisters, it’s time we take a stand for our rights!  A strong stand!  Lorena Bobbitt … calling Lorena Bobbitt … help, we need you!

Fifty Years …

On this day in 1973, exactly 50 years ago, the United States Supreme Court decided in the case of Roe v Wade to decriminalize abortion and give women the right to make decisions about their own bodies.  The vote was 7-2 with only Justices Rehnquist and White voting against it. Until seven months ago, June 24, 2022, we thought we would be celebrating the 50th anniversary of this momentous decision, but instead we are once again fighting to be treated fairly, fighting in many cases for our very lives.

Members of the Supreme Court on April 20, 1972. Front row, from left: Justices Potter Stewart and William O. Douglas; Chief Justice Warren E. Burger; Justices William J. Brennan Jr. and Byron R. White. Back row, from left: Justices Lewis F. Powell Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Harry A. Blackmun and William H. Rehnquist. (John Rous/AP)

Above is the Supreme Court of 1973.  It would be another eight years until the first woman justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, would take her seat on the Court in 1981.  In June 2022, when the decision in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization was handed down, there were three women on the Court, and yet women’s rights were slashed.  Six days after the Dobbs decision, a fourth woman, Ketanji Brown Jackson, would take her seat, bringing the number of women on the court to a historic four.

Formal group photograph of the Supreme Court as it was been comprised on June 30, 2022 after Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson joined the Court. Seated from left are Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justices Samuel A. Alito and Elena Kagan. Standing from left are Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil M. Gorsuch, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Ketanji Brown Jackson. Credit: Fred Schilling, Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Even prior to Roe v Wade, in most states a woman could have an abortion if the pregnancy threatened her life, but since the decision in the Dobbs case, many states have even taken that right away.  The woman is left to die, else forced to travel to a friendlier state where her life is deemed to have some value.

Since the founding of this nation, when it was written in the Declaration of Independence, signed on August 2nd, 1776, that “… all men are created equal,” leaving women out altogether, we have been fighting to be included in that ‘equality’.  Women have had to fight for the right to own property, to divorce their husband, to receive equal pay for equal work, and perhaps most importantly, to vote.  To this day, the nation has failed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, that would codify equal rights for all citizens, regardless of gender.  The Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in December 1923, nearly 100 years ago, and still has not managed to pass.  Its history is long and convoluted, albeit interesting.  If you’re interested, check out this article in

Now, I could make a damn good argument for why I think the Supreme Court made a huge mistake in their ruling on Dobbs, but you likely already know the argument.  Instead, I’d like to pose a question, one that has bothered me ever since I was old enough to ponder such things:

Why are women considered somehow lesser beings than men to begin with?

Is it because of that religious myth that man was created first, and woman was an afterthought created from a rib bone of a man?  Is it because we are typically smaller?  Is it because our voices aren’t as deep?  Is it because we don’t have that all-important extra appendage (I’m trying to keep it family-friendly here so as not to offend)?  Seriously, I have never understood why we are still, after all these thousands of years, considered somehow … substandard.

Women have proven themselves in every field – law, medicine, education, politics, science, business – and yet we are deprived of our rights simply because we are women.  We still struggle against that ‘glass ceiling’ in the corporate world, though we’ve come a long way.  Look at the demographics of the U.S. Congress … the most recently elected House of Representatives has 29% women, and in the Senate, 25% … though women comprise some 50.47% of the population. And this is a 59% increase from a decade ago!  You can probably guess which political party has the highest percentage of women … and it isn’t the Republican Party.

Talk is cheap.  Saying that women have equal rights, but denying them the right to even make decisions regarding their own health choices, is hypocrisy.  A man can walk into a doctor’s office and walk out 15 minutes later with a prescription for Viagra that will enable him to engage in sex all night long if he chooses, but a woman is denied the right to even birth control in many states.  A woman who is raped and becomes pregnant cannot get an abortion in many states today, but must be forced to live with the results of a crime for the rest of her life, while the child’s sire sits in a bar bragging about yet another ‘conquest’.

I don’t understand it, will never understand it, but I know it’s wrong.  Today, we should be celebrating 50 years of Roe v Wade, 50 years of women’s rights, of respect for women.  Instead, we are back to square one … no wait … we are actually at square minus one, because birth control is harder for us to get now, and even in cases where a woman’s life is at risk, abortion is illegal in many states.  We were actually better off 50 years ago.  All thanks to Justices Alito, Thomas, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, Barrett, and Chief Justice Roberts.  I hope that someday, somehow, it comes back to haunt each and every one of them.

Mini-Snippets — Snarkies — Or Snarklets!

Well, folks, just 19 days until the big day … November 8th Election Day!  I wish I could say I’m excited, but I’m more concerned than anything.  Concerned about not only the election results, but the aftermath, since a fairly large number of candidates claim they will not accept any results other than their own win.  As happens sometimes, I’m not focused on just one thing today, but have small snippets floating about in my head, so it must be time for Mini-Snippets!!!

We have been ripped off!!!

I’m sure you’ve all heard the latest, that Trump has far overcharged the Secret Service agents assigned to his protection detail at his hotels.  In fact, it is reported that the Agency has been charged up to six times the going rate, as much as $1,185 per room per night!  No hotel room on the planet is worth that much!!! These are the men and women whose job it is to protect Donald Trump’s sorry life, We the Taxpayers are paying for not only his protection, but that of his family as well, and he is ripping us off!  If you’re not incensed over this, you should be!  But, my question is … why did it take this long to find out about it?  Why didn’t someone in the Secret Service, the Office of Management and Budget, or the Treasury Department sound the alarm?  If nothing else, where were the whistleblowers?  How could this have gone on for so long … and more to the point, will it continue?  Personally, I’d suggest he and his family are undeserving of protection paid for by We the People – halt his Secret Service protection and let him pay for his own security guards, since he claims to be so wealthy!

Short-sightedness rules the day

While recent polls show that some 71% of the people in the nation believe democracy is under threat, a far smaller percentage … some 19% … believe it is the most important issue facing voters in November.  What, instead, are voters concerned with?  Their own pocketbooks.  Yep, my friends, rather than democracy on the chopping block, or the environment that is on course to bring about the extinction of all life on Planet Earth, or women’s rights that are also on the chopping block, Americans are more worried about what they pay for a gallon of fuel or a stalk of celery. Live for today and to hell with tomorrow seems to be the motto.  One woman even said, “I’m shifting more towards Republican because I feel like they’re more geared towards business.” Seriously???  With all the life-threatening issues on the docket, people care more about business and their short-term economic woes?

Women’s rights anyone?  Not in this church!

It shouldn’t really have come as a surprise, but admittedly my jaw dropped to the floor when I read that the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, unanimously approved a resolution encouraging the seminary’s administration to continue theologically training both men and women, “but with men alone reserved for the office and function, and thereby title of pastor.”  Say WHAT???

Once again, let the women do the work and the men get the glory, eh?  Bigotry in all its fine forms is obviously alive and well in this particular cult!

Weaponized bees???

A 55-year-old woman in Massachusetts is facing multiple assault charges for unleashing a swarm of bees on county deputies who were attempting to serve an eviction notice!  The woman, Rorie Susan Woods, pulled into the driveway of the house where deputies were serving an eviction notice, and immediately went to the beehives being towed by her SUV, and tried to open the lids to unleash the bees. Woods then smashed the lid and flipped a hive off the flatbed, which made the bees very aggressive.

The bees stung several officers and bystanders who were watching nearby. Woods put on a professional beekeeper suit to protect herself, then carried a tower of bees near the front door of the home to try and stop the eviction.  Poor bees … but at least they weren’t arrested!

And I’ll end my mini-snarks with a meme and a few cartoons I’ve gathered over the past few days … I especially like the last one!

Progress Unraveling

Three years after the Brown vs Board of Education decision that partly struck down Plessy vs Feguson (1896) and called for schools to be de-segregated, Judge Thomas P. Brady of Brookhaven, Mississippi, gave a speech to the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco.  The speech is lengthy, but I have culled a few of the most damning parts to share here.  In the event you have the stomach for it, you can read his entire speech here.

  • I want you to distinctly understand that the South does not hate the Negro. I dare say you know little, if anything about the true Southern Negro.  Among the finest characters I have ever known are Negroes.  There is a great deal of genuine affection and understanding between the races.  We have lived harmoniously together with a minimum of violence and bloodshed.  We have nurtured the Negro, taught him, provided for him, educated him and endeavored to make of him a worthwhile citizen.  The Negro has made great strides and the Southern white man is largely responsible for these advancements.
  • There is, as every honest socialist knows, a distinct correlation between the degree of segregation of the races and the numerical strength of the Negro. The reason is obvious.  If in the South the Negro was permitted, as in some Northern States, to obtain the ballot by simply reaching 21 years of age, it would mean that no qualified white man in many counties throughout the South could ever hold public office.  It would also mean that in the halls of Congress, seats now held by competent white representatives would be held by ignorant, incompetent Negroes.
  • While I regret that I must do so, I must nevertheless comment upon some of the intellectual and moral aspects of the reason why the South must remain socially segregated. The average vocabulary of the Negro in the South consists of approximately 650 words.
  • It is because of an inherent deficiency in mental ability, of psychological and tempermental [sic] It is because of indifference and natural indolence on the part of the Negro.  All the races started out at approximately the same time in God’s calendar, but of all the races that have been on this earth, the Negro race is the only race that lacked mental ability and the imagination to put its dreams, hopes and thoughts in writing.
  • Never forget that the leftwing socialist groups are forever grading down, never grading up the intelligence, the industry and the genius of this country! They wish to equalize, thereby reducing to a low minimum the intelligence of America.
  • The Negro, in so far as sex is concerned, is not immoral, he is simply non-moral. He merely follows his natural instincts.  We cannot disregard his utter disregard for the laws relating to theft.  We cannot overlook his proclivity for drunkenness and dope addiction.  We cannot overlook his natural tendency to immorality and violence and subject our children to the terrible consequences resulting from such traits through integration.

He goes on to say that the people of Mississippi, having formed the ‘White Citizens Council’ will defy the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown vs Board of Education and …

  • As long as we live, so long shall we be segregated, and after death, God willing, thus it will still be!

As I read his words, realizing that those very words were not uttered centuries ago, but actually in my own lifetime, I felt physically ill.  A full decade after the ruling in Brown v Board of Education, 98% of school children in Mississippi were still attending segregated schools!

And then, a few years later in 1963, came the brutal murder of civil rights worker Medgar Evers in front of his wife and children, and the following year, the murders of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner who were trying to help Black citizens register to vote.  In the interim, the KKK and the White Citizens Council were busily terrorizing Black people in Mississippi and throughout the South.  Far too many members of law enforcement in the South were also members of the KKK in the 1960s and perhaps beyond.

So now you’re wondering, “Why the history lesson, Filosofa?”  Patience, grasshopper … there is method to my madness.

Look today at Florida, Texas, even Virginia.  The states, particularly in the deep south, are using the excuse of Critical Race Theory … something that is not taught in elementary or secondary schools (though perhaps it should be) and something that the average person knows nothing about other than the lies they’ve heard from the likes of Tucker Carlson and others.  They seized on it as an excuse to stop teaching about the racist history of this nation.

Many believe that the current Supreme Court is all but set to overturn Roe v Wade (1973) that gave women the right to make decisions about their own bodies.  There is also talk of the Court attempting to overturn Obergefell v Hodges (2015) that gave same-sex couples the right to marry.  There is also talk of overturning Loving v Virginia (1967) that removed the barriers to interracial marriage.  Given the composition of the Court today, is it such a stretch, then, to think that ultimately, they might also overturn Brown v Board of Education?

Women’s rights, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and perhaps most importantly, voting rights … all are potentially on the chopping block in this, the 21st century.  States are overstepping their bounds, writing laws that directly conflict with federal laws, conflict even with common sense, decency, and human rights.  This nation is traveling backward today, seemingly bent on destroying the progress of the last 70 years or so.  Why?  I am told that white people fear they will lose their “majority status”.  SO WHAT???  Who cares what colour skin anybody has, or how many white people as compared to Black or Brown people?  Apparently, some people care and those are attempting to change the course of history, to turn this ship around and take us back into the Dark Ages.

Read Judge Brady’s words again … is that a world any of us want to live in?  I certainly don’t.  I won’t.

A Tribute To A Great Woman — Madeleine Albright

Madeleine Albright was one heck of a woman, my friends.  Her death last week took me aback, though it shouldn’t have, given that she was 84 years old!  I wanted to write a tribute to her, but didn’t know quite where to begin, for she was truly larger than life.  Ms. Albright served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997, and as U.S. Secretary of State in the Clinton administrations from 1997 to 2001, but those are facts … they are single-dimensional and they don’t tell who Madeleine Albright was, the person she was.

While I struggled to write a memorable tribute, one that would be worthy of the woman she was and what she gave to the world, I stumbled across a tribute written by none other than Hillary Clinton.  I think Ms. Clinton captured the essence of who Madeleine Albright was, for she had a personal connection, and her words are far more moving than mine would have been.  Thus, I share with you, a tribute to a great woman, Madeleine Albright!

Madeleine Albright Warned Us, and She Was Right

By Hillary Clinton

March 25, 2022

Late one night in 1995, in a cramped airplane cabin high over the Pacific, Madeleine Albright put down a draft of a speech I was set to deliver in Beijing at the upcoming United Nations conference on women, fixed me with the firm stare that had made fearsome dictators shudder, and asked what I was really trying to accomplish with this address.

“I want to push the envelope as far as I can,” I replied. “Then do it,” she said. She proceeded to tell me how I could sharpen the speech’s argument that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.

That was Madeleine, always cutting right to the heart of the matter with clarity and courage. She pushed the envelope her entire life. She did it on behalf of women and girls, shattering the glass ceiling of diplomacy as the first woman to serve as secretary of state and calling out atrocities against women all over the world. She did it for the country that took her in as a child fleeing tyranny in Europe, championing the United States as an indispensable nation and the leader of the free world. She never stopped pushing the envelope for freedom and democracy, including cajoling sometimes skeptical generals and diplomats to see human rights as a national security imperative.

For Bill and me and her many friends all over the world, Madeleine’s passing is a painful personal loss. She was irrepressible: wickedly funny, stylish and always game for adventure and fun. I’ll never forget how excited she was to walk me through the streets of her native Prague and show me the yellow house where she lived as a girl. We couldn’t stop laughing when an unexpected rainstorm blew our umbrellas inside out, and couldn’t stop smiling when the captivating playwright and dissident turned president Václav Havel charmed us over dinner. Madeleine was 10 years ahead of me at Wellesley, and for decades we used to address and sign our notes to each other “Dear ’59” and “Love, ’69.”

Madeleine’s death is also a great loss for our country and for the cause of democracy at a time when it is under serious and sustained threat around the world and here at home. Now more than ever, we could use Madeleine’s vital voice, her cleareyed view of a dangerous world and her unstinting faith in both the unique power of the American idea and the universal appeal of freedom and democracy. We can honor her memory by heeding her wisdom.

Stand up to bullies and dictators

In the 1990s, when my husband named Madeleine U.N. ambassador and then secretary of state, she went toe-to-toe with the blood-soaked Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. She helped marshal American power and the NATO alliance to end the brutal war in Bosnia and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. She saw the chronically underestimated Russian president Vladimir Putin for what he is: a vicious autocrat intent on reclaiming Russia’s lost empire and a committed foe of democracy everywhere. In a prescient column in The Times published Feb. 23, she warned that an invasion of Ukraine would be “a historic error” that would leave Russia “diplomatically isolated, economically crippled and strategically vulnerable in the face of a stronger, more united Western alliance.” As happened so often, the man with the guns was wrong and Madeleine was right.

Madeleine Albright talking to Kim Jong-Il, center, in Pyongyang, North Korea, in 2000.Credit…Andrew Wong/AFP/Getty Images

She was a woman of action, especially when facing injustice. Madeleine understood that American power is the only thing standing between the rules-based global order and the rule of the sword. That did not mean she was ever quick or casual about the use of force, even for the right cause. Madeleine was a diplomat’s diplomat, ready to talk to even the most odious adversary to advance the prospects of peace. In 2000, she was the first secretary of state to travel to North Korea, where she spent 12 hours negotiating with the dictator Kim Jong-il. But, as she often said, her crucial historical frame of reference was Munich, not Vietnam, so she had a deep appreciation for the risks of inaction. Today, with a rising tide of authoritarianism threatening democracy not just in Ukraine but all over the world, that is a lesson worth remembering.

NATO and U.S. alliances are the cornerstone of world peace

As secretary of state, Madeleine helped my husband welcome Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic into NATO after the end of the Cold War. Years later, I asked her to head up an international commission for the Obama administration to redefine NATO’s mission for the 21st century. Having experienced Europe’s historic traumas firsthand, she understood that the security provided by NATO was the key to keeping the continent free, peaceful and undivided. She saw it as a political alliance, not just a military pact, cementing democracy in countries that had only recently freed themselves from authoritarianism.

Madeleine rejected the criticism, renewed recently, that NATO’s expansion needlessly provoked Russia and is to blame for its invasion of Ukraine. As the Princeton historian Stephen Kotkin has noted, that argument ignores Russia’s centuries-long efforts to dominate its neighbors. Madeleine would be quick to add that it also erases the aspirations and autonomy of the former Soviet bloc countries that threw off their chains, built fragile democracies and rightly worried about Russian revanchism. She would encourage us to listen to the insights of leaders like our friend Mr. Havel, who said the message of NATO expansion is that “Europe is no longer, and must never again be, divided over the heads of its people and against their will into any spheres of interest or influence.”

Make no mistake, if NATO had not expanded, Mr. Putin would be menacing not just Ukraine but the Baltic States and likely all of Eastern Europe. As the historian and journalist Anne Applebaum recently argued, “The expansion of NATO was the most successful, if not the only truly successful, piece of American foreign policy of the last 30 years.”

Madeleine Albright, right, with Hillary and Bill Clinton at the funeral for Václav Havel, the former Czech president, in 2011.Credit…Michal Cizek/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Madeleine also strongly disagreed with Donald Trump’s approach of treating America’s alliances as a protection racket where our partners must pay tribute or fend for themselves. She knew that U.S. alliances — especially with other democracies — are a military, diplomatic and economic asset that neither Russia nor China can match, despite their best efforts, and are crucial for our own national security.

Attacks on democracy at home play into the hands of dictators abroad

They make it harder for the United States and our allies to champion human rights and the rule of law. In her searing 2018 book, “Fascism: A Warning,” Madeleine described Mr. Trump as the first U.S. president in the modern era “whose statements and actions are so at odds with democratic ideals.” She observed that his assault on democratic norms and institutions was “catnip” for autocrats like Mr. Putin. After the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and Mr. Trump’s efforts to overturn a free and fair election, Madeleine imagined Abraham Lincoln weeping. “My family came to America after fleeing a coup, so I know that freedom is fragile,” she wrote. “But I never thought I would see such an assault on democracy be cheered on from the Oval Office.” With the Republican Party recently declaring the insurrection and events that led to it to be “legitimate political discourse,” and some of the party’s most powerful media allies pushing Kremlin talking points on Fox News and elsewhere, it’s clear that the threat to our democracy that so alarmed Madeleine remains an urgent crisis.

The fundamental truth that Madeleine understood and that informed her views on all these challenges is that America’s strength flows not just from our military or economic might but from our core values. Back in 1995, Madeleine told me a story that still inspires me. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, she visited parts of the Czech Republic that had been liberated by American troops in 1945. Many people waved American flags as she passed, and to her surprise, some had just 48 stars. They had to be decades old. It turned out that American G.I.s had handed out the flags a half-century earlier. Czech families said they had kept them hidden all through the years of Soviet domination, passing them down from generation to generation as the embodiment of their hope for a better, freer future.

Madeleine knew exactly what that meant. Even at the end of her life, she treasured her first glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, sailing into New York Harbor in 1948 as an 11-year-old refugee on a ship called the S.S. America. She would have been thrilled by President Biden’s announcement on Thursday that the United States will welcome up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine, and she would encourage us to do more to respond to this unfolding humanitarian nightmare. She would warn, as she did in her book, about the “self-centered moral numbness that allows Fascism to thrive,” and urge us to keep pushing the envelope for freedom, human rights and democracy. We should listen.

A Stranger In My Own Country

Y’know … lately I’ve begun to feel very much a persona non grata in the nation I was born in and have lived in for all of my 70 years.  Why?  Comments like this one from Florida governor Ron DeSantis …

“We want people that are going to fight the left, and that’s what we need to do in this country. That’s what we’re doing in Florida, standing up for people’s freedoms. We’re opposing wokeness. We’re opposing all these things.”

So, to be clear, DeSantis says ‘they’ (whoever ‘they’ are) oppose equal rights for Blacks, LGBTQ people, women, Latinos, atheists, Jews, Muslims, and anyone who doesn’t meet DeSantis’ approval, for that is what “wokeness” is, as defined by the narrow-minded conservatives who see white, Christian males as superior to all others.  And ‘they’ oppose helping people in need, oppose international alliances and trade, and oppose basically anything that is supported by people like me.  Since I was 13 years old, I have been a taxpayer in this nation, and yet today I am intentionally made to feel an unwelcome entity.

Another example is when the former guy makes claims like “Americans want _________” and yet it is nothing that I support or think is just.  Am I no longer an American, then?  Did my citizenship expire sometime in the past decade and nobody thought to tell me?  For the record, I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat … I am an Independent.  I am an Independent for a number of reasons, the first being that I don’t wish to be hounded by phone calls, emails, and texts begging for donations for one candidate or another.  Beyond that, however, is the fact that I don’t support every policy of either party, or every candidate of either party.  I largely, probably 90%, lean toward the same values as the Democratic Party, but I’m not willing to commit to any political party.  Although I have voted for Republicans in the past, the current ideology (or lack thereof) of the Republican Party is such that I cannot foresee ever doing so again.

I am an independent thinker, always have been.  My antennae start twitching the instant somebody tries to tell me what I should think, and then I head off to do my own research and form my own opinion.  As Euripides was fond of saying, “Question everything.”

State legislatures all around the nation are doing their darndest to keep people from voting … poor people, Black people, young and elderly people.  Why?  Because those are the demographics that typically care more about the average people in this country than about the wealthy, therefore those are the people who would more than likely vote for a Democrat.  Legislatures and governors in nearly every state are also passing laws that would hurt LGBTQ communities.  They are also trampling women’s rights in many states, robbing us of our rights to decide what is right for us without the interference of a male-dominated legislature.  The only people who seem to matter to the Republican Party are the wealthy, white, straight males – the rest of us can go to hell in a handbasket for all they care.

I used to think this nation had values, that the people, the average working people, would see through the political arrogance and greed and vote for those who pledge to ‘do the right thing’ by the nation and its people.  Today, I no longer believe that.  I don’t know if it’s a reflection on our devolving education system or that people are changing, but today it seems that people fall for the flimsiest lies on the part of the politicians and eat up every word that comes out of the mouths of the Fox “News” opinion people.  Humans pride themselves on being an intelligent species, but I’m just not seeing it in the general public.

Back in the day, Richard Nixon was demonized for his corruption, but in this, the 21st century, we see people like Donald Trump being worshipped as heroes not only in spite of their cruelty and lies, but in some cases because of them!  They seem to be cheering on the most horrific people, while turning against those who are trying to do the right thing, to care about the nation and its people.

After I wrote my post about Montana governor Greg Gianforte and others murdering endangered wildlife for trophies, my friend Mary Plumbago commented “What is wrong with us! Why are we this way!”  I’ve been ruminating on this … trying to find an answer … but the truth is that I just don’t know.  There is definitely something very wrong with some of the people … maybe many of the people in this nation, but I don’t know how we got here and the bigger question is … how much worse will it get?  What will it take to stop the madness, to bring the people of this nation together to fight for a set of values that benefit ALL people, not just some?

I will tell you this much … if the people of this country are so ignorant as to return Donald Trump to the Oval Office in 2024, I will thereby renounce my citizenship on that very day and will begin seeking my best option for relocating myself and my family outside the United States.  And that is a promise.

Making Me Growl … Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

A number of things in yesterday’s news set my teeth on edge, so let’s talk about some of them.  The first two are ugly, but the third one is the stuff that invokes @$%& words and deep-throated growls, maybe even the launching of a projectile at a wall!

Send Republicans to live in Russia!

In 2016, the former guy met with Russia’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, at the Helsinki summit, whereby Mr. Trump claimed that Putin denied interfering with our 2016 presidential election in order to assist Trump’s ascendence into the Oval Office (note that Trump actually lost the election by nearly 3 million votes, but due to the quirks of the electoral college system, was able to occupy the White House for 4 ugly years).  Trump praised Putin and denigrated our own intelligence community who had indisputable evidence of Russia’s attempts to sway the election.

More than a few times, Trump praised Putin just as he did other autocratic leaders such as Kim Jong-un of the DPRK and Victor Orbán of Hungary.  In light of that, consider the following statement by one of many brainwashed Republicans: “I’m convinced that Putin would be a lot, LOT more hesitant to invade if Trump was President. Biden simply does not evoke any sense of strength or danger to our enemies.”

Say WHAT???  Trump himself claimed Putin’s aggressive moves toward Ukraine to be “wonderful”, “savvy”, and said Putin is a “genius”.  And the majority of people in the Republican Party think this ‘man’ should be president again???  Rather than an Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, I believe the U.S. is the victim of an invasion of the brain-snatchers!!!  The question becomes, how do we educate those who have been lied to so convincingly that they are now truly incapable of sorting fact from fantasy, good from evil?

Women have more rights WHERE???

For those who continue to believe that the U.S. is more advanced than Latin American nations, consider this … at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court seems poised to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction, on Monday, Colombia’s highest court decriminalized abortion.  Not only that, but Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion in a similar decision last September, and Argentina’s Congress legalized the procedure in late 2020. Now three of the four most populous Latin American countries have opened the door to more widespread access to abortion.

At a time when women’s rights are on the chopping block, thanks largely to ultra-conservative evangelicals, more and more countries are finally recognizing women as people with rights.  If the Court does overturn Roe v Wade it will set women back a hundred years or more in this country, and we will no doubt see a return to back alley abortionists and an increase in the sale of wire coat hangers.  Funny, nobody questions a man’s right to a vasectomy … think about it.

Rick Scott’s “11 Points”

Since the Republican Party has been unable to come up with any sort of a platform, U.S. Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, has released what he calls his “11-Point Plan to Rescue America” and frankly I’ve never seen so much bigoted crap in one document in my life!  Here are his ‘points’ …

  1. Education — Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them.
  2. Colour Blind Equality — Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government form.
  3. Safety and Crime — The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end. We will re-fund and respect the police because, they, not the criminals, are the good guys.
  4. Immigration — We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump.
  5. Growth/Economy — We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism.
  6. Government Reform and Debt — We will eliminate all federal programs that can be done locally, and enact term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress.
  7. Fair, Fraud-Free Elections — We will protect the integrity of American Democracy and stop left-wing efforts to rig elections.
  8. Family — We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs.
  9. Gender, Life, Science — Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. We believe in science.
  10. Religious Liberty and Big Tech — Americans will be free to welcome God into all aspects of our lives.
  11. America First — We are Americans, not globalists.

Check out the details of his plan for each item has a number of growl-inducing statements, but the one that got the attention of the public was under #5, Growth/Economy …

“All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

The uproar was so intense that he had to walk it back within 24 hours of releasing his “points”.  First, roughly 50% of Americans on the bottom half of the income distribution do not pay federal income taxes because they do not earn enough to have income tax liability and because many receive tax credits.  Second, most people 65 or older and receiving Social Security do not have income tax liability unless they also earn more than a certain amount outside their Social Security checks.

No doubt I will be writing more about his “11 Points”, but for today this seems to be the one that is most on people’s minds.  Many of his other points would take away women’s rights, Black people’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and would erase factual history from our schools … do take a look at it and delve into some of the ‘finer’ points!

The funny thing is, though, that nowhere in his statements on the economy did Mr. Scott plan to ensure that the wealthy finally pay their fair share of taxes!  Oh, but wait … it makes sense when you realize that with a net worth of $259.7 million, Rick Scott is the wealthiest member of Congress!  Why would he want to raise his own taxes?  No, much better for him to raise taxes on the poor, the homeless, and the elderly!  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.  In my book, Mr. Scott is a filthy piece of human flesh, a waste of space on planet Earth!

The Week’s Best Cartoons: Texas’ Abortion Ban

I haven’t re-blogged TokyoSand’s Saturday cartoon post for the past two weeks, for there is so much deeply wrong in this country today that the cartoons seemed to somehow fall flat with me.  However, given my own malaise and the primary topic of this week’s cartoons — women’s rights, which is near and dear to my own heart — I’ve decided to re-blog this week’s post.  The main topic, of course, is the new Texas law, currently upheld by the white-male-dominant Supreme Court, that has set women’s rights back a hundred years or more.  And then, there’s climate change — no longer is it possible to reject the science of climate change when we’re had uncontrollable wildfires, floods, and mega-storms, not to mention killer heat all summer long.  So, sit back and enjoy the ‘toons … you’ll find the entire collection over at Tokyo’s place (link at end).

Note to readers:  I have been having health issues for some 3 weeks now and my energy levels are on a roller coaster ride, mostly at the bottom of the track.  Therefore, I have not posted much and have not responded to comments at all, nor am I likely to try to catch up at this point.  I have read all comments, and appreciate those of you who have helped out by keeping the conversations going.  I shall pick up here and try not to fall behind again.  I appreciate your patience and apologize for my laziness.

See The Rest Of The ‘Toons Here!