Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Exodus: How Americans are Turning their Backs on Organized Religion

 by Nomad

As a child, I was never obligated to go to church on Sundays. It was, my parents said, something which they felt they should leave up to me. Although I can't recall any quotes, I sensed that in our home, organized religion was not highly thought of. It was, my mom and dad often implied, little better than a racket.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Orange Poison: How Toxins in Ohio Streams Are Being Turned into Works of Art

 by Nomad

When you hear Mr. Trump talk about opening new mines, there's something he doesn't mention about coal mines. We all know about the environmental damage caused by burning coal. Parts of China have been rendered uninhabitable from the coal smoke pollution. And of course, as a carbon, coal adds to the greenhouse gas levels.

However, what is less discussed is the harm caused by mines themselves. That's true even for mine operations that have long been shut down. Decades after the mines have been closed, and the companies have been forgotten, and any person who had anything to do with the mine has become a permanent underground fixture,  the poisons continue to leach out of the ground.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

"Rift" - A Look at Life for the "Have Nots"

by Nomad

This award-winning documentary was directed American writer-director, Travis Hanour. It reveals the struggles of an impoverished family at the edge of the Great Rift Valley. We meet a brave, 14-year-old boy named Henry as he goes about his daily routine.
Hanour explains:
We found a village in Kijabe with a wealth of compelling stories. The children and families here require superhuman bravery and perseverance in order to survive. But at the same time, they exude an infectious amount of joy. This is a truly humbling dynamic to witness.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Return of the Florida Panther: Something Close to a Success Story

 by Endless Summer

A remarkable tale of survival of Florida's wild cat.

A Small Band of Survivors

When European settlers arrived in North America wild cats roamed the entire continent. As population on the Eastern Seaboard increased, habitat for large predators became scarce.

For decades American farmers and ranchers hunted to eliminate predators like wolves and cats, hunted them to the brink of extinction. The survivors moved primarily to the west. But one small band of wild cats moved south. They survive today in Florida’s Everglades.

We know them as cougars and mountain lions, catamounts, puma and panther. Documented by Spanish conquistadors in the 1500’s, by the late 1800’s they had disappeared from the east and the mid-west. Survivors continued to move west, but by the late 1960’s they were threatened with extinction.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why It's Time for the Rabble-Rousing Right-Wing Media and Politicians to Pay the Piper

by Nomad

Denying, Thrashing and Flailing

The phrase "to pay the piper" is described as having "to bear the consequences of an action or activity that one has enjoyed." That perfectly describes what's been going on in the right wing media ever since this last weekend.

Those who have sat back and supported Trump- and continue to support him- despite all of the warning signs during his hate-filled rallies- are now attempting in vain to find solid ground again after the events in Virginia.

It's tough going. They are in a bit of an uncertain quandary, searching for some way to distance themselves from the worst images of the "Unite the Right" rally, to clear the president's name (and their own ) while also attempting not to contradict their own past statements. 
It's a wonder to behold.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Time Out: Teen Heartthrob Match Up

 by Nomad

Next week I will have few informative posts for you but for the moment, I can offer you a  diversion from the nerve-racking world of Trump politics. 

The rules of this puzzle-game are simple: Just connect faces to names of the teen idol. By the way, there are some spare photos to make the game more interesting.  
Good luck!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Lost Cause: Why HBO's "Confederate" is a Really Lousy Idea

  by Nomad


Controversy over "Confederate"

Recently HBO announced its plan to produce an alternative history called Confederate, which poses the question "What if the South had won the Civil War? What would America look like today?"

"What if..." has always been a source of great fiction but this decision sparked off a round of protests online. This was, many people felt, a really bad idea.
Co-creator David Benioff felt compelled to respond to the objections. He said that while he had "great respect" for critics, he also said that HBO also hoped that the public would "reserve judgment until there is something to see.”

Indeed, there isn't even a script yet. Benioff's comment might seem reasonable, at first glance. Yet. national correspondent for The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, isn't buying it and explains why this bit of historical fiction is an idea whose time has not come.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Good News Round for Week 2- August 2017

by Nomad

It's time for a monthly roundup of brighter news than our usual fare.
I have chosen a few stories that might brighten your day somewhat. From free treatment for a killer disease whose victims were once so highly stigmatized to a fresh approach to tackling climate change, there are five links to good news stories coming your way.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Three by Don McLean

by Nomad

Whenever we think of singer and songwriter Don McLean, we remember his classic "American Pie" and the immortal "Vincent."

However, on that same 1971 album (American Pie), there were so many other great songs. I have chosen a selection of three.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Film Friday - Hate for Sale

  by Nomad

The short animation, Hate for Sale, by Anna Eijsbouts, is based on a poem by Neil Gaiman. Anna says "I like to make things move, so I became an animator."

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Think You Know Geography? Take this Challenging Trivia Quiz and Find Out

by Nomad

We are living in historical times, no doubt about that. Most of the news is bleak nowadays. So, to take your mind off of current events for a brief moment, I will be providing my friends with a few diversions.

Here's another trivia quiz, this time on geography. Fifteen questions in all. Some are easy and some are more challenging. Let me know how you do on this.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

After Last Week's Blunders, Is Donald Trump Now Officially a President in Free Fall?

by Nomad

In the heart of Texas, there's a feeling that President Trump's administration is going nowhere but down. And last week proved it.

Even before yesterday's stunning announcement that Scaramucci, a man hired only 10 days before, had been shown the exit door, Trump seemed to be unable to maintain control. Shakeups amongst his staff had quickly become a non-stop event even as Sarah Huckabee smirked and shrugged her way through press conferences with assurances that things were 120% normal.  
Like Richard Nixon in the middle of the Watergate scandal, Trump is spending more and more time and energy unsuccessfully defending himself from an avalanche of bad news. Most of it locally produced.
But every day is proving to be a little more degrading and vulgar than the day before. Last week, Trump craziness went into overdrive. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Four by Shirley Ellis

by Nomad

This Sanity Sunday throws the spotlight on the songs of Shirley Ellis.

Even though it is not reflected in her music, Ellis was of West Indian origin with her father was a native of Montserrat and her mother was born in the Bahamas.
She recorded only three albums in her career (with two later compilation albums).
  • 1964: In Action
  • 1965: The Name Game
  • 1967: Sugar, Let's Shing a Ling
In 1968, for unknown reasons, Ellis retired from the music industry. Before she passed at the age of 76 in 2005, her music had experienced something of a revival, (or perhaps better put, an appreciation) with lots and lots of cover versions made by diverse artists.

Let's get to the music.
Prepare yourself for one wild dance number with the song "The Nitty Gritty."  Along with "The Clapping Song" and of course, "The Name Game," this 1963 song was one of her many novelty hits.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Want to Create Jobs in the Energy Sector? Just Stop Listening to Mr.Trump

by Nomad

Elimination of the Rules

Back in January, when Trump was fresh and full of spunk, he told Americans that he would be the "greatest job producer God has ever created." 
A couple of months later, when Trump was no longer so fresh and cared more about his golf time, he signed an executive decree calling on every federal agency to loosen the regulatory reins on fossil fuel industries.
Trump directed all departments to identify and target for elimination any rules that restrict U.S. production of energy, and he set guidance to make it more difficult to put future regulations in place on the coal, oil and natural gas industries.
Surrounded by burly coal miners, President Trump said.
"This is the start of a new era in American energy production and job creation. We will eliminate federal overreach, restore economic freedom and allow workers and companies to play on a level playing field for the first time in a long time, a long time."
In the name of making America great again, Trump has pulled out all stops domestically to handicap the growth of alternative energy and promoted the continuation of a carbon-dominated economy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Trivia Quiz- The Last Week in July in History

by Nomad

As you all know, last week, I posted a quiz involving questions from the US naturalization application. I was happy- though not surprised- to hear about your high scores.

This week, I've decided to offer you something a bit more challenging- but certainly not impossible. The rules are simple. Make your best guess using your logic and intelligence, using the process of elimination, or using your memory.
Good luck!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Why One Veteran Journalist Warns about Comparing Watergate to Trump's Scandal

by Nomad

As we all grope blindly in the slimy darkness of the Trump scandal, it is perhaps natural that we attempt to make comparisons to the past, for some sort of precedent. And when the topic of a president in trouble arises, the first name that comes to mind is, of course, Nixon in the Watergate debacle.

However, one journalist who witnessed first-hand the presidential contortions and the political chess game back in the 1970s warns that comparisons are misleading for a variety of critical reasons.

Witness to Watergate

Politico's Susan Glasser interviewed veteran journalist Elizabeth Drew, a Washington correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly from 1967 to 1973. Drew was at ground zero when President Nixon's met his Waterloo and kept a real time record of the event. In 1975, she published her account of the Watergate scandal in her book, Washington Journal: The Events of 1973-74.

Her book was reprinted back in 2014 before Trump appeared as a serious presidential candidate. That book, for obvious reasons, is now selling like hotcakes.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Film Friday- "Made in Iowa"

by Nomad

When the main employer of Webster City, Iowa, (pop.8,070) closed down on March 31, 2011, nobody had much hope that the town would survive.
The Swedish appliance maker, Electrolux, like so many companies, had decided to shut its washer-dryer plant and move its production plant to Mexico.
By 2013, with the two-year the government-supported retraining program coming to an end, the news from Webster City was bleak, the future uncertain.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Can You Pass the US Naturalization Test?

by Nomad

Now for a quick diversion from the news.

As part of the process of naturalization for all foreign applicants, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers are obliged to ask at least ten questions from 100 questions. The questions cover basic government civics and the fundamental outlines of US history.
One would think that these questions ought to be a breeze for all American citizens. Want to give it a shot?

Even though I expect perfect scores from my nomadic brigade, I admit that there were a couple I didn't know and a couple I got the answer to only by elimination. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Sanity Sunday - Four by Jim Croce

by Nomad

Even though they may not have ever realized it at that time, on 20 September 1973, music lovers lost a rising star. Upon takeoff from an airport in Natchitoches, La, the single-engine plane in which singer/songwriter Jim Croce and five others were riding failed to gain altitude and crashed.
All aboard died.

At the time, Croce was well on his way to fame and fortune.
Tragically, his career was abruptly cut short.

Born in South Philly on 10 January 1943, Croce learned music at an early age. For most of his short life, he struggled to earn a living and music was not a dependable profession. In an interview he once said:
"I've had to get in and out of music a couple of times, because music didn't always mean a living. You don't make that much in bars; I still have memories of those nights, playing for $25 a night, with nobody listening."

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Dangers of Living in an Arrogant Age

 by Nomad

David Hockney

The artist David Hockney once said:
We seem to live in an arrogant age; in fact, the idea that there's not much to learn from the past is rather disturbing. In some ways, we might say we do know more but we seem to have forgotten some things they knew in the past.   
It's an excellent observation, I think. I have no idea what the context of that remark actually was - most likely art- but it got me a bit nostalgic.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Dog Eat Dog: A Nomadic Film Review of "The Founder"

by Nomad

Sometimes it is nice to be outsmarted- at least, in the theater.
In real life, it's not so much fun.

Outsmarted is how I felt after watching the film "The Founder." Initially, the 2016 film appeared to be a 2-hour long advertisement (in story form) for the fast-food giant, McDonald's. I presumed it was a kind of publicity campaign to counter the highly critical "Super Size Me."

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Five by The Seekers

by Nomad

Formed in Melbourne in 1962, the Australian pop/folk group, The Seekers were the first Australian pop music group to achieve major chart and sales success in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Good News Round-up for Week 1- July 2017

by Nomad

Starting this month, as a regular feature, I would like to offer a round-up of some recent  good news. For the sake of our sanity, it is important that we do not too bogged down in the mire and muck of the Trump age. It's easy to forget that the gloom is not global.
Here are five positive diversions.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Five by 2Cellos

by Nomad

In my opinion, there's something incredibly seductive and expressive about the sound of the cello. So. what could be better than two cellos with two extremely gifted musicians playing them?

If you've never heard of the dual 2Cellos, allow me to introduce you. Both accomplished musicians independently, Croatian cellists Luka Sulic and Stjepan Hauser, have become something of phenomena by pushing the cello to new levels and attracting new audiences.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Extortion of the Sick: How For-Profit Health Care Has Destroyed US Medical Care

by Nomad

Book Cover

In the past, an armed mugger would offer his victims a stark choice: "Your money or your life!"
That bleak option, in our times, has literally become the business model for the US health care system.

An Inescapable American Burden

Physician-turned-journalist Elisabeth Rosenthal, opens her new book, An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, with these lines:

In the past quarter century, the American medical system has stopped focusing on health or even science. Instead, it attends more or less single-mindedly to its own profits.
Everyone knows the healthcare system is in disarray. We’ve grown numb to huge bills. We regard high prices as an inescapable American burden.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Let's Talk Trash: A Few Thoughts on Garbage

  by Endless Summer

Found Itens

Lately, we have been dealing with a lot of garbage.
I keep thinking at some point the goings-on in DC will abate somewhat and we will be able to catch our breaths, but so far the chaos proceeds at a smashing pace and we watch our political norms and the social contract between the people and the government being ripped asunder in a startling way. Our outrage can barely keep up with the injustices perpetrated by Trump and his crew.

So, while we wait for Mueller, et al, to take out the political garbage in DC, I wrote this post about literal garbage in our world, and some good things that are being done to take out our trash.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Story of Franklin Roosevelt's Alternative Destiny

by Nomad

Here's an obscure bit of trivia about our 32nd President president: a story of a path that was never taken and that made all the difference

The Best Thing

My mother tended to be an optimist and whenever I came home with some tale of woe, no matter how desperate or despairing the situation was, she would usually say, "You know, that might just be the best thing that ever happened to you."

That kind of Pollyanna approach was not exactly what I wanted to hear. I wanted hand-holding sympathy. However, looking back, I think she was, for the most part, correct.
If one chooses to believe in fate, then it is the invisible hand of destiny that nudges us this way and that to keep us on a certain path. Every obstacle in our path, every disappointment has actually been a challenge that we had to learn from.

In my mother's world, nothing happened randomly: there was a reason why terrible things happened, why our hopes and dreams were sometimes crushed or deferred. The detours were just as important as the destination.

FDR: A Man Adrift

The other day, I stumbled across this story about the early career of Franklin Roosevelt. I cannot vouch for the veracity of the story but it sounds plausible enough. I have filled in the details as best I could.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

President Trump and the Tragedy of American Ingratitude

by Nomad

Gratitude-The Parent of all Virtues

I've been doing some thinking on the subject of gratitude. How grateful am I? How much do I take for granted and do I count my lucky stars enough? Do any of us?
As the Roman Cicero said:
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others."
As a concept, it often seems like it has gone the way of solitude and horse and buggy. Meaning, when you do find it, it's an exceptional and underrated thing.

Gratitude is defined as a feeling of appreciation or thanks. Unique among the nations of the world, the US is the one country that actually has a holiday (supposedly) dedicated to giving thanks. There was a time when saying blessings at dinner was fairly common. You'd think, therefore, giving thanks would still be an unshakeable American principle.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trump's Runaway Effect: Tracing the Science of Climate Change and Trump's Denials

by Nomad

President Trump's ignorance of the long history of the science of Climate Change has fueled his irrational denials and conspiracy theories. That, and the prodding and solicitation of special interests. 

First Glimpse of the Ultimate Horror

In the summer of 1982, businessman Donald Trump was celebrating the opening of the 58-story skyscraper, Trump Tower, in downtown Manhattan.
Trump was well on his way to building his own formidable business empire. In that year, Trump reported a personal net worth of $321 million. True, his wealth was built largely on his father’s connections, as well as loans and guarantees for bank credit, it was nevertheless an impressive figure for a man of 36.

Nobody asked but it's doubtful whether or not he took any particular interest in the climate. It is safe to assume he wouldn't have cared whether it was changing or not. Why should he have cared? The topic offered him no path to greater fame nor greater wealth. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Four by Vashti Bunyan

  by Nomad

There's probably never been a career quite like that of Vashti Bunyan. In 1970, when her first album, Just Another Diamond Day, was released it was blasted by critics. Commercially, it was a flop, with only a few hundred copies pressed with little to no advertisement.

The experience was enough to make the English folk singer-songwriter, disillusioned and discouraged, turn her back on the music industry and retreat into obscurity. That might well have been the end of the story.

However, in the thirty years that followed, something peculiar happened. The album (along with her singles that never made it on any albums) began attracting the interest among record collectors and bootleggers. Eventually, that reevaluation of her short music career led to official re-issues that album.
This led to inspiring a whole new generation of folk artists and her music has reached a wider audience than ever.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Four by Antonio Carlos Jobim

 by Nomad

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1927, Antônio Carlos Jobim, also known as Tom Jobim, became known for as the moving force for bossa nova style in the 1960s.  Jobim was a composer, pianist, songwriter, arranger, and singer.
He was described by friend
He was a gentle man highly interested in all kinds of music, from classical and jazz to Brazilian, Latin and American popular music. Even then he was a great talker when the subjects were music and women.
If that photo is anything to go by, I am sure he was a hit with the ladies. Make no mistake, Jobim was a serious artist.
Generally speaking, he was much more intelligent than most musicians, but he respected the ones he considered talented and intelligent. Usually, he lost patience easily when someone argued things without a musical base, with nonsense arguments.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Visit to PPLA: Planned Parenthood Does More Than You Ever Knew

 by Leadfoot

Because of the volunteer work we have done promoting the Power Pom, Bella and I were recently invited to tour Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA).

For some reason, it never occurred to me just how eye opening this experience would be for a 14-year-old. However, the questions she asked during the tour opened my eyes to just how much of her innocence is left, and how important it is to discuss women’s health issues with our daughters, as early as possible. It has been 6 days since the tour, and she still hasn’t stopped talking about it. Below is a re-telling of our experience.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Unfit on Day One: Paul Ryan Offers an Insulting Excuse for President Trump's Fiasco

by Nomad

The Foundation Stone

It is hard to find the just one adjective to describe former FBI Director Comey's testimony before the Senate yesterday. "Riveting" for most viewers, "devastating" for Trump and his defenders but perhaps, whichever side of the political spectrum you find yourself, it was a "historical event."

Under oath, Comey made a solid case that the President knowingly attempted to quash an investigation of the alleged Russian collusion of Mike Flynn. Comey's notes claimed that Trump actually said:
I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go.
As the hearing was wrapped up, it was impossible not to conclude that the foundation stone for articles of impeachment had been solidly laid.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Day of Affirmation: Robert Kennedy's 1966 Speech in South Africa

by Nomad

A Voice for the Silenced

The sixth of June marks a historically important day. It is, most famously, the day that saw the Allied landing on the beaches of Normandy in 1944. It was the day the tide turned against fascism and barbarity. There is, however, another event that occurred on this day which took place 51 years ago, to 6 June 1966, to the sixth day of the sixth month of 1966.

Our Nomadic Time Machine takes us to the University of Cape Town in South Africa where Robert Kennedy, former Attorney General and brother of the slain president takes the podium.

Much to the concern of many in the South African establishment, Bobby Kennedy had been invited to give the address at the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS) in honor of the "Day of Reaffirmation of Academic and Human Freedom" union president Ian Robertson. Kennedy, Robertson thought, "captured the idealism [and] the passion of young people all over the world."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Three by George Harrison

by Nomad

I  wanted to dedicate this Sunday sanity break to George Harrison who died 16 years ago next November. Hard to believe so much time has passed already.

A few trivia notes about George Harrison:
  • Harrison was the youngest member of the Beatles.
  • George and Paul McCartney were the first two Beatles to meet. Back in 1954 when Paul was 12 and George was 11, they rode on the same school bus. 
  • George played 26 different instruments. 
  • George's greatest joy was gardening. He claimed to have "planted 10,000 trees" in his lifetime. In 1980, he published his autobiography I Me Mine. The book was dedicated "to all gardeners everywhere."

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Gay Marriage Bans, Religious Freedom and the Battle of the Armrests

by Nomad

The Armrest Story

About fifteen years I had to fly back to the US, having learned my mother was ill. I wasn't in the mood for arguments. I really wasn't in the mood for traveling.  I had long since lost my thrill of air travel. It's now something I put up with but seldom enjoy. I just pray it will be uneventful. That's the best I can hope for.

Part of the problem is that I can't stand being packed in close quarters with strangers. If you share this particular dread, then you know that flights are a whole lot of un-fun. 

On this particular flight- from Izmir to Istanbul- the first leg in was to be 16-hour flight, I was unfortunate enough to be sitting next to a classic nightmare passenger. Almost anybody who has traveled has had at least one experience with one of the countless varieties of detestable types.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hillary Clinton: "There's a Full-Fledged Assault on Truth and Reason"

by Nomad

"Now, you may have heard that things didn’t exactly go the way I planned. But you know what? I’m doing okay." Hillary Clinton told the graduating class at Wellesley, a private women's liberal arts college in Massachusetts. "I won’t lie. Chardonnay helped a little, too. But here’s what helped most of all: remembering who I am, where I come from, and what I believe.” 

Ms. Clinton had stood at the podium before, forty-eight years ago, to give her own student commencement speech. In this return engagement, the former first lady and Secretary of State had an important message for the young women of the Class of 2017. This the assault on the truth now going is "serious business." Lives of innocent people will be devastated.

As evidence, she cited the recently proposed Trump budget which she called "an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us, the youngest, the oldest, the poorest, and hard-working people."
And to top it off, it is shrouded in a trillion-dollar mathematical lie. Let’s call it what it is. It’s a con. They don’t even try to hide it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

ACLU: “Sanctuary Cities” Law Wrongheaded, Racist, Undemocratic and Un-Texan

by Nomad

On the issue of the new laws banning "sanctuary cities" in Texas, there's a showdown on the calendar between the state, civil rights groups and city governments.

ACLU and the Strike of Pecan Shellers

When 12,000 pecan shellers- mostly Hispanic women- went on strike in San Antonio in January 1938, one of the effects of that three-month labor action was the formation of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas

At that time, Texas was famous for its pecan production and accounted for nearly half of the nation's pecan production. The center of that production was- you guessed it- San Antonio. It might have been a big business but there wasn't much of a trickle down effect for the workers.
The pecan-shelling industry was one of the lowest-paid industries in the United States, with a typical wage ranging between two and three dollars a week. In addition that, the fine brown dust of the pecan shells was the suspected cause of the high rates of tuberculosis in San Antonio. 

When workers demanded better working conditions and something closer to a living wage, local law enforcement cracked down on the picketers despite their right to free speech and free assembly. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Brookings' Elaine Kamarck Explains the Delicate Process of Impeachment

by Nomad

One of the helpful things a blog like Nomadic Politics can do is to provide its readers with accurate information on complicated or misunderstood issues. This, in turn, can lay the foundation for an intelligent discussion based on informed opinions.

One topic which is much talked about but rarely explained in depth is the topic of the impeachment pf the president. In US history, there have been only three times this constitutional provision has been attempted.

Elaine Kamarck is, as senior fellow in the Governance Studies program at Brookings and the founding director of the Center for Effective Public Management, an esteemed authority on the way things work in politics and government.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Goodness of Gardening: Renewing our Spirits and Urban Spaces

 by Endless Summer

The Need to Refuel

First, let me say a big thank you to Nomad for allowing us to continue this community here in this space he so graciously hosts. And thank him for giving me the opportunity to communicate with the community through this post.

The 2016 election has brought us a set of challenges unlike most of us have seen in our lifetimes. Daily, we see Trump and the GOP rend the fabric of our democratic society, and the pace and breadth of the assault threatens to overwhelm us. Trumpression is real, and most of us have expressed it here in our comments. So I asked Nomad if I might write a post with the intention of uplifting the community, and he obliged.

Resistance, no matter the form it takes, requires fuel. Whether it’s marching in protests, calling and writing lawmakers, attending organizational meetings, it takes a lot out of you. It’s fatiguing, not to mention infuriating, to have finished a round of phone calls to lawmakers, only to check twitter and see another abomination unleashed on us. It’s been just over 100 days and I’m exhausted. I know y’all are too, so let’s refuel.

I think of refueling, or some say self-care, as feeding the soul; the things we can do each day that bring us joy and generally make the world a better place.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Presidential Pardons and the Question of Justice

by Nomad

As reported a couple of months ago, one of the last official acts of President Obama was to commute the remainder of Chelsea Manning's 35-year sentence.
On Wednesday, Manning walked out of the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, bringing to a conclusion, as the New York Times called, "one of the most extraordinary criminal cases in American history over the leaking of government secrets to the public."

Manning and Snowden

The other day I was reading an online discussion regarding the subject of presidential pardons. Specifically, the topic was whether President Obama was right in pardoning Chelsea Manning and not pardoning former National Security Agency contractor  Edward Snowden. 

Snowden, who currently lives in exile in Russia,  faces charges under the Espionage Act of 1918, a law the constitutionality of which has been contested ever since it was enacted. 
Among other things, that law makes it a crime to convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies during wartime.  

The campaign to pardon Snowden picked up momentum after Oliver Stone's film but sputtered and ran out of gas. Indeed, all members of  House Select Committee on Intelligence, (13 Republicans and nine Democrats, ) sent a letter to the White House urging against a pardon for Snowden.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Here's Why Trump's $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan is Likely to Go Nowhere

by Nomad

Second to None

As a candidate, Trump talked a lot about the sorry state of the US infrastructure. The list was extensive, from roads and highways barely navigable because of potholes to bridges literally rusting away. There were less conspicuous things in desperate need of an overhaul, for example, the electric grid and water systems.
And nobody's denying that America is coming apart at the seams.

The UK Guardian reported only last month:
The most authoritative report of the country’s infrastructure gave the country’s crumbling roads, bridges, dams, schools and other essential underpinnings an overall D+ grade ... Not a single element of America’s framework received an A grade. 
It's a crying shame for the world's wealthiest and most powerful country. Moreover, the long-term neglect has put lives in danger.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Four by Nina Simone

by Nomad

I really think this artist needs no introduction. So let's get straight into it. First up is Simone's signature piece- probably her most famous work- which captures not only her musical abilities but her power to move her audience.
I dedicate the song, Sinner Man, to a certain person that has been on everybody's lips for well over a year now. Probably the most detested person on the planet at this moment.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Three Wise Quotes by Susan Sontag

by Nomad

Jewish-American writer, filmmaker, intellectual, and political activist, Susan Sontag died in December 2004 at the age of 71. I recall reading her essays."On Photography" and the 1964 "Notes on Camp" and admiring her ability to explore and analyze.

When I saw the quote below in an essay the other day, it brought home the immorality of denying any person the kind of health care they need. Life and death, how much more universal can that get?

Susan Sontag

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

"The Art of the Deal" Co-Author Offers Insight to the Scary World of Donald Trump

by Nomad

Tony Schwartz, as the credited co-author of Trump: The Art of the Deal, has had more than his share of regrets. Despite his own evolved sense of ethics- instilled in him at an early age- he made the fatally easy of being lured into the Trump web.
Schwartz acknowledges that the bait was a combination of curiosity and the right price at the right/wrong time in his career.
His mea culpa is concisely summed up like this:
My association with Trump has quietly haunted and dogged me for thirty years in many ways the rest of my life has been a reaction to having written "The Art of the Deal."
On the eve of the presidential election, Schwartz appeared before The Oxford Union is the world's most prestigious debating society. It was an interesting speech with a lot of insights into what Schwartz found to be a grotesque and disturbing man. 

At the time, the writer could never have dreamt that Trump would one day occupy the White House. Not even in his most terrifying nightmares. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Five by Sam Maher and his Hang Pan

  by Nomad

Without any doubt, the gut-wrenching events of this week require some deep cleansing.

From the weary prince who fooled us by not dying, to the horrific Congressional health care vote, from Trump's attempt to destroy the separation of Church and State by decree, to the FBI director's defense before the Senate. All in all, it's been a painful few days.
Nevertheless, despair cannot be a nomad's creed.

For me, one of the most effective ways to relax is to sit back and listen to the hand pan (one of the names for this percussion instrument.) I think I may have featured this instrument before but not this particular musician. 

Let's meet Sam Maher, a talented West Australian instrumentalist, and drummer who has journeyed around the world. In fact, he has used the hand pan to finance his travel as well as a means of wordless communication to other cultures.
To date, Mr. Maher has now performed in over 22 countries.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Film Friday - Making it in America

by Nomad

Joris Debeij's documentary- part of a series called "I Am Los Angeles," focuses on the life of a former immigrant turned citizen. Her story may seem ordinary. That's precisely the point. She has the same dreams and goals as any other American.
As a teenager, Alma Velasco had dreams of finishing school and getting a degree in El Salvador. But her dreams were shattered by the dangerous conditions created by the El Salvadorian civil war which first broke out in 1979, and lasted for almost 13 years. Alma's mother lived in fear for the safety her children, and although it meant she may never see her daughter again, she made the difficult decision to send Alma to cross the border into the United States.
At the age of 16, Alma managed to survive the exhausting and dangerous trip across the border to join her uncle in California. That's right. She came to this country as an undocumented immigrant.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Yanqui Matón: How Trump's Bullying of Mexico is Playing With Fire

 by Nomad

In his book "Trump: The Art of the Deal," Mr. Trump- or somebody he paid- wrote:  
"Bullies may act tough, but really they're closet cowards. "
it is hardly an original observation but given the source, it is typical Trump hypocrisy. 
Perhaps nowhere can we better see the Trump's bully personality than his position on our neighbor to the South.  

La Intimidación del Yanqui

Trump's hard-ass diatribes against Mexico included blaming that country for exporting its undesirables (criminals, drug dealers, and rapists) to the US to cause mayhem and to steal American jobs. 
He has- at least, in the past- boasted that he would build an extremely expensive wall to keep Mexicans out and would somehow force the Mexican government to pay for it. In addition, Trump has been pushing to renegotiate NAFTA, the trade agreement that has bound the economies of both countries (and Canada) for more than 20 years.
During the campaign, a lot of voters bought the hateful rhetoric and unfounded allegations. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Sanity Sunday- Three on a Theremin

by Nomad

The year 1928 produced a lot of technological marvels. British inventor John Logie Baird broadcasted a transatlantic television signal from London to New York.
Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic as a passenger on June 18th of that year.
And the first machine sliced, machine- wrapped loaves of bread were sold in Chillicothe, Missouri.

It was also in that year that Russian inventor, Léon Theremin (Термéн), patented the electronic musical instrument known as thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox and later shortened to simply the Theremin.