7-8-20 American citizens 18 and over have the Constitutional right to vote. This is one of the fundamental principles of democracy in the United States. Another thing is that Americans should be able to vote safely. We are going through a pandemic with COVID 19, and a vaccine will probably not be available until next year. Thus, the virus will still be around this November, and we don’t know how much control we’ll have over it. Right now, the number of people who qualify for mail in (absentee) voting varies from state to state. In some places, any adult can do so while in others many people can’t. People who can’t are required to show up at their polling station in order to vote. With COVID 19 out there, many medical experts are recommending all voters nationwide vote by mail in order to avoid COVID spreading at polling stations where crowds of people would be gathering and standing in close proximity to each other. Makes sense. Everyone mailing in their vote would be much safer and help more people exercise their Constitutional right to vote! A major problem is that many Republicans, including Donald Trump, oppose this idea. Why? They claim mail in voting would be ripe with fraud. But the evidence does not back this up. Mail in (absentee) voting has been done for years in many states without any significant problems with fraud. The real reason why so many Republicans oppose nationwide mail in voting is because they fear large voter turnout. They are afraid that more people voting would hurt them and help Democrats. It is not a coincidence that Republicans around the country have closed many polling stations in poor areas. It’s because people who are poor are more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican. This is a form of voter suppression. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or an extremist. I’m looking at the evidence. Folks, suppressing people’s right to vote is disgraceful, undemocratic, and goes against what the United States is supposed to be about. American adults have the Constitutional right to vote! And we should be able to do so safely. With the ongoing pandemic, nationwide mail in voting makes sense. Everyone should be able to vote and do so safely. We all need to speak out and demand our elected officials fight for nationwide mail in voting! American adults should be able to vote and do so safely!
7-8-20 I’m going to admit that personally, I’ve never been into watching football or the like. Just not my thing, but I realize that it’s a big deal to many people. A way to escape everyday life and enjoy yourself. And that is definitely important. What I’m talking about here is the Washington, DC football team’s nickname. Folks, the term “redskin” is very insulting and racist against Native Americans. Just look at history to see how the word has been used in the past as a derogatory, racist slur. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was known to be used by white Americans, or Europeans, who were hunting Native Americans in order to kill them, often collecting scalps as proof. Add to that, all the other betrayals, abuse, violence, and suffering Native Americans have had to endure since Europeans began arriving on North American shores and anyone should be able to see how wrong and hurtful it is using this term as a professional sports team’s nickname. It is way past time to change it. To find a nickname everyone in the community can support and get behind. Maybe have a naming contest where people can submit ideas. Turn the process into a fun, unifying event. However it is done, Washington needs a new nickname for its NFL football team.
Yes, you heard me right! But first, let’s start at the beginning. John Quincy Adams was born in Braintree (now Quincy), Massachusetts in 1767. He was the eldest son of John and Abigail Adams, who were both very important figures in the early United States. His father was a member of the Continental Congress during the American Revolution, served as a diplomat in Europe, and became the 2nd American President. As a result, young John Quincy grew up among movers and shakers including some in European countries. He was very intelligent, learning multiple languages and was an avid reader. Apparently, he had hoped to pursue a career in writing; though, his future lay in politics. John Quincy Adams had a long career as a civil servant and politician. He served as a diplomat overseas, was a member of the United States Senate, became Secretary of State, and was the 6th President of the United States after which he had a long career as a member of the House of Representatives. As a matter of fact, he is the only person to serve in the House after being President. In many ways, he was ahead of his time. He despised the institution of slavery and was more sympathetic to the rights of Native Americans than many of his contemporaries. As much as he hated slavery and fought against it, John Quincy Adams predicted that the only way the terrible institution would come to an end would be if the Southern states ended it voluntarily or if there was a civil war. He also predicted that if there was a civil war, the president of the time would use war powers to end slavery. This is quite close to what actually happened since Abraham Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation to end slavery in the Confederate states. In 1797 London, Adams married Louisa Johnson, the daughter of the US consul to Britain. They had 3 sons and 1 daughter together. Tragically, two died as young men after battles with alcoholism. One possibly from suicide. John Quincy likely suffered from depression and had a serious disposition much of the time. In politics, he became well known for his oratory, giving powerful impassioned speeches. In fact, when his end finally came in 1848, he was giving a fiery speech in Congress when he collapsed from a stroke. He died two days later in the US Capitol Building. Obviously, John Quincy Adams spent many years living in Washington DC. He had a habit of getting up early in the predawn hours to walk around the city getting exercise when it was quiet and other people were still asleep. If the weather was good, he was known to swim in the Potomac River. In those days, when men swam in the river, they would remove their clothes and take a dip. Although in 1821 when the British Ambassador George Canning spotted then Secretary of State Adams in the water, he wasn’t entirely naked. Canning later wrote, “The Secretary of State was seen one morning at an early hour floating down the Potomac, with a black cap on his head and a pair of green goggles on his eyes.” So yes, John Quincy Adams, 6th President of the United States, would remove his clothes and skinny dip in the Potomac River! Not something you’d catch any modern president doing! So when you have a few minutes, perhaps learn about and remember the skinny dipping President of the United States, John Quincy Adams.
It all started on a day in 1917. The place was the Yale University campus in Connecticut where the 102nd Infantry Regiment was training in preparation to join the brutal trench warfare of World War 1 Europe. What made this day different from the others was how a stray mixed breed dog wandered in amidst the regiment, apparently making himself quite at home. He quickly won over the young soldiers, was named Stubby (due to his short tail), and found himself adopted by Private James Robert Conroy. Stubby was very popular with the soldiers. He would apparently try to join them in some of the drills and reportedly learned to salute with his right paw. Finally, the time arrived to ship off to France and join the war for real. And yes, Stubby went with the regiment. Over the years, numerous stories and legends have been told about Stubby so that separating fact from fiction can be extremely difficult. One tale says that Conroy smuggled Stubby in order to get him to Europe but got caught. The story goes on to say that when the commanding officer discovered what had happened, he was won over by a right paw salute. Great story, but is it true? We’ll likely never know. What does appear true is that Stubby kept up morale in the front lines and would warn the troops of gas attacks by barking and running through the trenches. Another brave feat was the way he would go into no man’s land between the American and German positions finding wounded soldiers and staying with them until medics arrived. Stubby was also known to wander, sometimes disappearing for days at a time. But he always found his way back to the 102nd and his owner, James Robert Conroy. The brave dog suffered multiple battle wounds, but was fortunate enough to survive the war, after which he became a celebrity. He had his photo taken with General John Pershing, commander of all US forces in Europe and became the mascot of Georgetown University, where Conroy studied law. Stubby passed away in 1926 in his owner’s arms. He was stuffed and eventually ended up with the Smithsonian Institution where the brave pooch is sometimes displayed.
6-26-20 The Trump Administration has asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. If they succeed, over 20 million Americans could lose their health insurance because Republicans have no replacement. Not even a bad replacement! Think about that. We are literally in the middle of a pandemic, and Trump, along with other Republicans, is still trying to sabotage Obamacare. Obamacare is not perfect, but it has helped millions of Americans obtain health insurance who couldn’t get it otherwise. This has literally saved lives. One of the most popular parts of Obamacare is how it protects people with pre-existing medical conditions so that they can get affordable health insurance. Otherwise, many would be outright rejected by insurance companies, or their premiums would be so astronomically high that they couldn’t afford to get it. Guess what folks, when you have a serious case of cancer and can’t get health insurance, unless you are incredibly rich, you will likely die, and much more quickly. Now consider this: many of the people who could lose their health insurance, if the Trump Administration succeeds here, are in high risk categories for COVID 19. If they lose their health insurance and catch a severe case of the coronavirus, they will be much more likely going to die. We should fix and improve Obamacare, not obliterate it without a replacement! The obsession of Trump and other Republicans with trying to destroy Obamacare has gone too far. They are risking the lives of innocent people for what? Politics? Because they don’t like Barack Obama? This is sickeningly outrageous. We must all speak out against this horrible move, and we need to vote Trump and the other Republicans who are doing this out of office! Lives are literally at stake folks…
Remember folks, think independently, whomever you are and whatever your background. Don’t blindly follow anyone because frankly, there’s been a lot of that going around these days on all sides. Today, we have access to vast amounts of information, available at our fingertips! All it takes is a smartphone, tablet, or computer, and bam, an endless amount of knowledge is right there to explore and learn. It’s incredible when you think about it! The problem is that while there is a wealth of amazing, accurate information out there on the internet and social media, there is a lot of bad information too. Compounding the problem is the way too many people only use sources that tell them what they want to hear and only listen to one leader or organization instead of getting different points of view. This can distort and blind them from understanding the real situation and the truth. Get information from a variety of independent, reputable sources. Strive to learn about and explore different points of view. Get outside your comfort zone. Expand your horizons. Also, remember to use critical thinking. Double check, hell, triple check facts, sources, and ideas! Recognize that not everything you discover is accurate. Some things are exaggerated while others are just downright false. By using different, independent sources and thinking critically, you are much more likely to get a better, more accurate understanding of the subject you are delving into. Don’t automatically believe something simply because you want to believe it, for there is a very real chance that it may not be true at all. So think for yourself! Open your mind and broaden your horizons! Strive to be an independent, renaissance person. I think you’ll find that the world is a much more fascinating place and life an increasingly amazing experience if you do.
6-19-20 Some people seem to think that the movements to remove Confederate statues from city parks or change brand names and images (like Uncle Ben’s Rice) is going too far. Well, it’s not going too far. And it’s not changing history either. It’s about being honest about the past and striving to make things better for all. Let’s go back in time for a bit. Since the founding of the United States, slavery had been a festering issue that was creating frustration, anger, and division. During the 1800s, as territories became states, there were bitter arguments and clashes over whether they would be a free or slave state. The South was worried that if too many states became free, the balance of power could shift in that direction, eventually threatening slavery itself. The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was part of the effort by the American government to maintain a balance of power between the free vs slave states by admitting Missouri into the Union as a slave state and Maine as free. This was done to try to prevent war. But the slavery issue continued bleeding and dividing the nation. When Abraham Lincoln, who was against slavery, became president, tensions boiled over. Southern states’ rights advocates decided to secede creating the Confederacy. They clearly did this in order to preserve the disgusting institution of slavery. So even though a Southern soldier might have gone to war with the idea that he was fighting for his home, he was also fighting to preserve slavery. Slavery. A horrible institution treating human beings as property. That is ultimately what Confederate soldiers were fighting for. Slavery. Something else to consider with regards to Confederate statues. Many were erected by white Americans with white supremacist attitudes as part of their efforts to quash Black Civil Rights movements. This is also why the Confederate flag was included in multiple Southern state flags. It was part of the campaigns by racist white Americans to oppress the African American population. To keep Black people “in their place.” That is truly sick when you think about it. Now, think about this: statues in city parks should honor people, movements, or organizations that the majority of the current population can agree deserve such treatment. Considering this country’s history, that is certainly not Confederate soldiers or the Confederate flag. That is why it is definitely time for change. A city park is not the place for a Confederate statue, and no state flag should include the Confederate flag. It’s the 21st Century folks! As to brand names and images like Uncle Ben’s Rice or Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, they need to be changed too because they are based on grossly demeaning, racist stereotypes that were used by white Americans with racist attitudes in their desire to keep themselves in charge. It is time for positive change. Let’s learn from the past so as not to repeat the wrongs that have been done. We must embrace our diversity and be more accepting, understanding, tolerant, and supportive of everyone.
6-17-20 American citizens 18 and over have the Constitutional right to vote. This is one of the fundamental principles of democracy in the United States. Another thing is that Americans should be able to vote safely. We are going through a pandemic with COVID 19, and an effective, widely available vaccine will probably not be available until next year. Thus, the virus will still be around this November, and we don’t know how much control we’ll have over it. As a matter of fact, many scientists are concerned that there will be new spikes in infection rates when cool weather returns. Right now, the number of people who qualify for mail in (absentee) voting varies from state to state. In some places, any adult can do so while in others many people can’t. Those who can’t are required to show up at their polling station in order to vote. With COVID 19 out there, many medical experts are recommending all voters nationwide vote by mail to avoid spreading the infection at polling stations where crowds of people would be gathering and standing in close proximity to each other. Makes sense. Everyone mailing in their vote would be much safer and help more people exercise their Constitutional right to vote! A major problem is that many Republicans, including Donald Trump, oppose this idea. Why? They claim mail in voting would be ripe with fraud. But the evidence does not back this up. Mail in (absentee) voting has been done for years in many states and the military without any significant problems with fraud. The real reason why so many Republicans oppose nationwide mail in voting is because they fear large voter turnout. They are afraid that more people voting would hurt them and help Democrats. It is not a coincidence that Republicans around the country have closed many polling stations in poor areas. It’s because people who are poor are more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican. This is a form of voter suppression. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist or an extremist. I’m looking at the evidence. Research it yourself if you don’t believe me. But use independent, varied sources in doing so to be as accurate as possible. Don’t just use sites that you know will tell you what you want to hear. Folks, suppressing people’s right to vote is disgraceful, undemocratic, and goes against what the United States is supposed to be about. American adults have the Constitutional right to vote! And we should all be able to do so safely. With the ongoing pandemic, nationwide mail in voting makes sense. Everyone should be able to vote and do so safely. We all need to speak out and demand our elected officials fight for nationwide mail in voting! American adults should be able to vote and do so safely!
6-9-20 Ok, I realize a lot is going on these days, and people are tired of being cooped up at home so much. Plus there is the George Floyd situation and people’s legitimate desire to be heard. But folks, we aren’t even halfway through this pandemic. It will likely be some time next year before an effective vaccine is widely available for everyone. So it is vitally important that people don’t get too lax! Practice social distancing whenever possible. And when you can’t, wear a mask! It’s not just for your own protection, but to minimize the chances of you spreading the infection to other people, who may be at high risk. Frankly, people, who when in public are ignoring social distancing and aren’t wearing masks, are being disgracefully selfish and are potentially endangering the lives of innocent people! So do the right thing… PRACTICE SOCIAL DISTANCING WHENEVER POSSIBLE AND WEAR MASKS WHEN YOU CAN’T! WHEN IN DOUBT, WEAR A MASK! Like it or not, we are all in this together!
Loneliness… Loneliness, it’s tough. It can be painful, exhausting, heartbreaking, and potentially devastating, especially when we let it consume us. At times, it can feel almost overwhelming. Loneliness also has the potential to increase the risks of mental and physical health problems. I know all about loneliness because I’ve been living with it for decades. I understand the pain and challenges that come with it. Seeing other people have numerous close friends while I can’t seem to find even one. Anyone is susceptible. Individuals with lots of people around them or others who are physically alone and isolated. All ages, genders, sexualities, races… No one is immune. Kinda scary I know. Thing is, while loneliness can be terribly challenging to deal with, we shouldn’t let it consume us. We must learn to control it, not let it control us. Believe in yourself, even at the most difficult moments. Remember that you can rely on yourself no matter what. I know, it can be brutal at times, but never give up on you. Stay open to the possibility of connecting with someone because after being hurt so much, it can be easy to automatically shut people out to try to protect ourselves from more disappointments, letdowns, and rejections. The problem with shutting people out is that it can also isolate us even more and prevent us from establishing contact and potential relationships with others. So be open to meeting other people. Don’t automatically rule out letting them in. If they hurt you, don’t let it bring you down. I know it can be frustrating and terribly painful, especially when you don’t appear to have any close friends and attempts to find one seem to keep failing. Still, metaphorically speaking: Get back up, brush yourself off, and keep moving forward. Another thing is to try to find happiness in yourself. There is truth to the idea of love and have faith in yourself. Believe in you! Doing so will help make life more enjoyable and also increase the possibility of perhaps connecting with others. Do things you enjoy, even if you are doing them on your own. Use your imagination because there, you can experience, explore, and do whatever you want. And don’t be afraid to talk to a counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. There is absolutely no shame in doing so, and it may help you cope with your circumstances a whole lot better. And please, never give up! Remember that you can always rely on yourself!