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Tweets of the Week – January 23, 2021

Bernice King

Bruce A. Heyman

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Best Quotes of the Week – January 23, 2021

“This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge.  Unity is the path forward. And we must meet this moment as the United States of America. If we do that, I guarantee you we will not fail.”

President Joe Biden, in his inaugural address

“The idea that you can get up here and … let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic during a White House press conference

“We cut taxes for $5 trillion, almost all of it to the wealthiest people in America.  And we borrowed every penny to do that.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), criticizing the sudden concern about the U.S. budget deficit by his Republican colleagues during a U.S. Senate hearing

Bennet added that “we’ve made some poor choices in terms of what we’ve borrowed money to spend on.  Two wars in the Middle East that lasted for 20 years that cost us something like $5.6 trillion, all of which was borrowed, none of which was paid for.”

“Opine all you like, but if you’re going to opine, begin with the truth and opine from there.  When people begin with a false premise and lead people astray, that’s injurious to society and it’s the antithesis of what we should be doing: Those of us who are so honored and grateful to have a platform of public influence have to use it for the public good.”

Shephard Smith, former FOX News host and current CNBC anchor, on why he left FOX

Smith also revealed that he stayed at Fox News from its 1996 inception until 2019 to act as a counterbalance to the network’s right-wing leanings.

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Dead Friend

Have you ever had a friend with whom you disagree on something?  You know what I mean – someone you’ve known for a while; shared things with; commiserated with; know some of their family; treated to lunch or dinner for their birthdays.  I have a few of those friends.  As a bonafide introvert, I don’t have many friends in the first place, so I value those relationships I’ve managed to maintain over any length of time.

I had one such friend, Pete*, until recently.  He and I have known each other for over 30 years.  Ironically, we attended the same parochial grade school in Dallas.  I didn’t know him back then, as he’s three years younger.  Even more curious is that our fathers had known each other; they grew up in the same East Dallas neighborhood and attended the same high school.  When Pete’s father died several years ago, my father was heartbroken, as the two hadn’t spoken in a while.  I attended the funeral service at a church in downtown Dallas.  In turn, Pete attended my father’s memorial service in 2016; his sister and her young daughter joined him.

Pete used to host annual Christmas gatherings at his apartment; his sister and her two sons, along with many of that family’s mutual friends, joining us.  In effect, I became part of their family.  I was fond of Pete’s parents, as he was of mine, and was truly excited when one of his nephews joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2006.

So what happened?

Politics.

Last month “The New Yorker” published an editorial on the sudden and unexpected support for Donald Trump among Latinos.  In Texas trump won a larger share of the Latino vote in the last election than he did in 2016.  Reading the piece left me stunned – and curious.  How could a man who made such derogatory comments about Mexicans in general, the same one who hurtled rolls of paper towels at people in Puerto Rico, find greater support from others in those same groups?  Even though Trump had disparaged Mexican immigrants, I felt it was just a small step away from demonizing all people of Mexican heritage or ethnicity; people whose Indian and Spanish ancestors had occupied what is now the Southwestern U.S. since before Trump’s predecessors arrived on the East Coast.  Many of those people are also among the nation’s working class; the blue collar workers who form the unappreciated and under-appreciated backbone of any society.  And yes, even the white collar workers, such as myself, who have struggled through the chaos of corporate America.  Regardless of race or ethnicity we’re the ones who suffered the most in the last Great Recession and in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  That an arrogant, elitist, tax-cheating buffoon of a charlatan can find kindred souls in this crowd truly boggles my mind.

Pete, on the other hand, said the editorial made “perfect sense” so him.  He had already expressed some support for Trump, especially in relation to his reactions to China.  He then went on to demonize both Joe Biden and Kamala Harris; dubbing them “evil” and decrying what he perceived to be their socialist agenda.  In other words, Pete was reiterating the paranoid mantra of right-wing extremists.

But he went further.  He bemoaned the stimulus payments coming out of Washington; claiming they were unnecessary and that anyone suffering financial distress during the pandemic and the ensuing economic downturn deserved no help or sympathy; that they should have prepared better for such a calamity.

Seriously?

I pointed out that I was one of those people struggling now.  I had taken off a lot of time to care for my aging parents and had managed to save some money over the years; adding that a lot of that hard-earned money was now gone and reminding him I have had trouble – like so many others – finding a job.  I also noted that it’s that people don’t or won’t save money; it’s that they can’t – not with both the high cost of living and stagnant wages.

Pete sounds like many evangelical Christian leaders – the folks he once denounced as the heathens of Christianity – the idiots who propagate the myth that poverty is a result of moral failings; that people choose to be poor because they have no desire to work hard and sacrifice.  He got upset with me over that; he – a devout Roman Catholic – being compared to an evangelical Christian?!  The people who read and study only half the Christian Bible?!  How dare I make such an analogy!

But that’s how I felt.  Then and now.  His new-found beliefs and sudden change of attitude are one reason why I left the Catholic Church and why I no longer align with any branch of Christianity.

I reiterated my discussions with Pete to friends and a relative who his both agnostic and generally conservative.  The latter considers himself a Republican and has been very successful in life.  He also subscribes to “The New Yorker” and had read that particular editorial.  And he found it “awful” that so many Texas Latinos supported Trump who he does not like.  He also noted that anyone can experience financial problems and that a lack of personal resources isn’t always a sign of any kind of moral failings.  Like me he was raised Roman Catholic, but – unlike me – is not in any way spiritual.  He also reassured me that I’m not a failure.  A few other friends have told me the same.  At times like this, I need that kind of support.

It’s a shame I felt the need to sever ties with Pete.  I mean, how does a 30-plus-year friendship come to an end over an editorial?  Is that something that needed to happen?  I wonder if I was overreacting or my past hyper-sensitive persona had suddenly resurrected itself.

I’d like to know if any of you folks have encountered the same dilemma.  Have you ever felt the need to end a friendship with someone over such strong personal disagreements?

*Name changed.

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Photos of the Week – January 16, 2021

Yes, it’s been another crappy week here in the United States, with the ongoing madness of the 2020 presidential election, refuse of the January 6 Capitol Hill riots, and worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help soothe everyone’s souls (short of providing free alcohol and unlimited sex), I present these pictures of baby goats.

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Tweet of the Week – January 16, 2021

Marjorie Taylor Greene

In response to the tweet from Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Taylor Greene wrote in an email: “Healthy people do not spread COVID.  COVID positive people spread COVID.  Everyone was exposed ALL week by the COVID positive members who Nancy Pelosi brought into the Capitol and into Washington DC.”

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Best Quotes of the Week – January 9, 2021

“History will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.”

Barack Obama, in response to Wednesday’s riots in Washington, D.C.

“Well, the deaths are real deaths.  I mean, all you need to do is to go out into the trenches, go to the hospitals, see what the health care workers are dealing with.  They are under very stressed situations in many areas of the country.  The hospital beds are stretched.  People are running out of beds, running out of trained personnel who are exhausted right now. That’s real.  That’s not fake.  That’s real.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, on ABC’s “This Week”, in response to guest host Martha Raddatz asking about a tweet by President Trump calling the coronavirus case and death toll “fake news” and blaming it on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention methodology

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Photo of the Week – December 19, 2020

Vice President Mike Pence receives a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine shot at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex, on Friday, December 18, Washington.  His wife, Karen Pence, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams also received shots. Photo: Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

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Angriest Quote of the Week – December 19, 2020

“Millions of Americans are struggling during what should be a joyous time of year, yet Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is holding COVID-19 relief hostage. His ransom? Total immunity for corporations that recklessly endanger consumers and workers during the pandemic.

For months, McConnell has insisted that Congress take action to protect corporations alleged to engage in wrongdoing.

For months, McConnell has insisted that Congress should take action to protect corporations that are alleged to engage in wrongdoing and endanger their employees, consumers and patients. Companies that don’t provide protective equipment or mandate physical distancing in the workplace, for example, would face no civil liability when their workers become sick.

Even as Americans go hungry and confront homelessness, McConnell is trying to leverage the coronavirus emergency to greenlight corporate abuse, instead of helping vulnerable families.

Worse, he is lying to the American people about his motivation, claiming that an “epidemic” of coronavirus-related lawsuits must be addressed. The actual epidemic, of course, is COVID-19, taking thousands of lives every day and sickening the very workers businesses depend on for their profits.”

 – Rep. Katie Porter, in a video essay on December 15

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Photos of the Week – December 12, 2020

This week COVID-19 vaccinations began in Great Britain.  Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person to receive the new vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech at Guy’s Hospital in London.  These are just a handful of photos taken during this unprecedented event.

The first man to receive a vaccine in the UK was an Englishman named William Shakespeare.

A woman with the first of two COVID-19 vaccine shots administered at Guy’s Hospital in London. Victoria Jones/Pool via AP

The deputy charge nurse Katie McIntosh waiting to administer the first of two vaccine shots to workers at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Tuesday. Andrew Milligan – Pool / Getty Images

Syringes in a tray at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh containing the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Andrew Milligan – Pool / Getty Images

Nurse Katie McIntosh administering an injection of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to the clinical nurse manager Fiona Churchill at the Western General Hospital. Andrew Milligan/Pool via AP

A box of vials of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine concentrate being transported from storage ready for use at Guy’s Hospital in London. Victoria Jones/Pool via Reuters

Josephine Faleye, 80, with senior nurse Dilhani Somaweera at the Royal Free Hospital in London. Jack Hill – Pool / Getty Images

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Most Ominous Quote of the Week – December 12, 2020

“I don’t know how this ends without violence and death.”

Clint Watts, a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at George Washington University, expressing concern about the response by right-wing extremist militia groups to Donald Trump’s loss

Watts also believes the worst is yet to come, adding, “They now have had time to think about what they want to do.  They have heard continuous false claims – which they want to believe – and now they are being pushed and pointed to places to mobilize.”  Watts noted the dynamic could intensify after Trump is ejected from the White House, COVID-19 becomes less of a threat, and there are more public targets as people start returning to public life.

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