AMERICA’S NUMBER ONE! ROUND 2: REUNIFICATION – BY TOM CURLEY

WE’RE NUMBER ONE, BUT AT WHAT?

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! We’re number ONE! We’re the BEST! 

You’ve heard it all your life. You hear it at ball games.  You hear it at every political rally, regardless of which party is telling you how great they are. Hell, we got an overdose of it during the 4th of July celebrations.


So now that there has been a “second” summit with Kim Jong-Un, described by him as “disappointing” (other translations say “depressing” and personally, I call them “futile and stupid” — and by Pompeo as “Not so bad” leaving the rest of us wondering “What summit? Was there a summit?” I have to again ask the question: What are we best at? Leaving out sports like football and baseball … what else?


Better health care? Better crime levels unless by “better” you also mean “more of them”? Where is America’s “sweet spot?” Good question, don’t you think?

But let’s get real for a second. Are we really number one? Are we the best country in the world? If so, at what?

Recently UNICEF released a “Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” study. They ranked 29 developed countries according to the well-being of their children on a number of factors. Where did the greatest nation in the world rank? Number one, right? Nope.

The US ranks #26. To be more specific we rank:

#26 for “Material Well-Being”.

#25 for “Health and Safety”.

#26 for “Infant Mortality Rates”.

#26 for “Low Birthweight”.

#22 for “Immunization Rates.

#27 for “Preschool Enrollment rates”.

#25 for “Participation in Further Education”.

#16 for “Overweight”.

#29 for “Teen-Pregnancy rates”.

#12 for “Being Bullied”.

It goes on. Were we #1 for anything? Yes. We were # for “Alcohol,” meaning we have the top rank for the absence of drunkenness. But considering our current government, can you blame the rest of the world for drinking more?

Another round for the world!

Republicans love to say that the U.S. has the greatest healthcare system in the world. The Commonwealth Fund ranks us #11 out of the 11 most developed nations. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. #37 out of all the countries in the world. Just below Costa Rica and just above Slovenia.

But you know what we are best at? Putting people in jail.


From Wikipedia: “In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents 4.4% of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.”


Take that North Korea! Take that all you Third World Dictators! We’re number one! Lock us up! Lock us up! Oh wait, we’re already doing that.

We’re number one!!

You know what else we’re good at?

Ripping children, toddlers, and babies from their mothers and fathers because they had the nerve to travel thousands of miles from their home countries seeking asylum because their lives are in danger. We’re number one at ignoring their screams as their parents get dragged away, having no idea why this is happening.

MCALLEN, TX – JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

We’re number one at putting them in overcrowded cages.

We’re number one in putting them in outdoor tent cities where the daytime temperatures reach 100 degrees.

We’re number one at telling a parent who is in custody that his or child is “taking a bath,” only to find the child has been taken to some unknown facility  1000 miles away.

How do I know this? Because I can’t think of any other country doing this!  I did a Google search. There was a country that did this and it didn’t end well for the country — or the children.

Germany 1933

It’s pretty much common consensus that our internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War 2 was the lowest point in our history — discounting slavery, of course. That would be lower. 

This horrific excuse for an administration says they are just enforcing the law. Except there is no law that says you have to rip a baby from his mother while she’s breastfeeding!

Our Chump-in-Chief says: “It’s the Democrat’s fault!”

Wow, I didn’t see that coming.

The Director of Homeland Security says there is no policy of separating children from their parents and they’re not doing it.


I watched her say it on TV next to another screen showing kids being separated from parents and being put in detention camps. 

The California top court ordered the Trump administration to get those families back together by the end of this month — July 27th. Anyone giving odds on this really happening? 


The administration has basically admitted that they are doing this as a bargaining chip for getting that stupid fucking wall. Ponder that for a second.

One man was so distraught over losing his kid he hung himself while in detention. Pity about that. Give Trump his wall and maybe this can all go away.  If there is a devil, he’s sitting in hell going WTF? Dudes, dial it back a bit! This is over the top for anyone with half a conscience.

There’s a difference between patriotism and nationalism.

A nationalist says “My Country, right or wrong. Love it or leave it.” They think our country is like a sports team you support no matter how badly they are doing.

A patriot says “I love our country but when our government is doing something wrong, we point it out and you are obliged to fix it. We’re not perfect. We can do better.

My country right or wrong? Here’s the full quote.

Our country is not a sports team. We love to say that we are a nation of laws. Great. But shouldn’t we also be a nation of human beings? A nation of compassionate people with some modicum of decency?

We’re a nation of immigrants.

We all came from somewhere else. Except for Native Americans. If you want to get really technical, even they walked here from a land bridge from Russia around 50,000 years ago, so they’re immigrants too.

One of the most important icons of this country is the Statue of Liberty.  The plaque on it has the famous words “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It should be changed now to “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We’ll rip your kids away from you and huddle them into overcrowded detention centers.”

Something to think about as the end of the month approaches and the big day of the reunification of immigrant children and their parents is on the schedule. 

I’ve made a point of trying to find some sliver of humor in any of the blogs I write. I have to admit I got nothing on this one. I even teared up a few times while I wrote it. So I’ll try to end with a joke.

How many Trump administration people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer? 20,010. One to change the bulb, three to blame the bulbs failure on the Democrats, three to blame it on Hilary and Obama, three to say the bulb didn’t need to be changed in the first place, and 20,000 ICE employees to commit horrific acts of child abuse. 

Oh well, at least I tried.

U.S.A. – Judy Dykstra-Brown

U.S.A.

Have we any doctrines? Have we any rules?
Are creeds and regulations simply meant for fools?
Has our common decency been voted away?
What of our constitution? Has it become passe?
What would our founding fathers think? What would they say?
Will loss of their declarations be the price we pay
for taking it for granted that liberty would thrive
so long all our citizens managed to survive?

We always saw the threat outside—all those foreign men.
We never thought our country would be lost to those within.
Tell our air and water. Tell each foreign son.
Our doctrines and our principles seem to have come undone.

via U.S.A.

ARE YOU A DECENT HUMAN BEING, OR ARE YOU A DICK? – BY TOM CURLEY

I listen to the various pundits on all the news stations and newspapers going on and on about what Democrats need to do to win the midterm elections. They all have a variation of the same theme. They must have a “message.” They can’t just say “Hey we are better than that asshole Trump and those fucking Republicans.”

They need to be for something, like universal health care, a 15-dollar minimum wage, not ripping innocent children from their parents for the crime of trying to come to America for a better life.  But here’s the thing.

That’s bullshit. I completely disagree. We have moved far beyond arguing about political policy. We need to run on what kind of human beings we are in this country.

It’s really simple.


Are we, as Americans, decent human beings? Or are we dicks?


It turns out that over the last two years we have found out there are a frighteningly large number of Americans who are unimaginably horrible dicks. 

If you think ripping a baby from a mother or father and then sending it to another state without any way of keeping track of who the baby belongs to or where it went is OK, you’re a dick.

If you are horrified by this and you didn’t believe such a thing was possible in America, you’re a decent human being.

If you think white supremacists and Nazis are good people, you’re a dick.

If you think a white supremacist running down innocent protesters with his car and killing at least one is bad, you’re a decent human being.  Side note: NAZIS ARE BAD.

If you are a white person who calls the police because

1 – A black family is barbecuing in a public park
2 – A black fireman is doing fire safety checks in his own neighborhood
3 – A black state representative is going door to door talking to her constituents
4 – A black woman is at a community pool to which she belongs
5 – A black man is wearing socks at a public swimming pool

you’re a racist dick.

Oddly, most of the dicks who called the police on these people were women. Turns out


You don’t need a prick to be a dick.


That might make a pretty good bumper sticker or tee-shirt.

racist white women
One of dicks who actually did one of those things.

If this stuff both surprises and appalls you, you’re a decent human being.

I’ve been covering elections for CBS since Nixon. In every election, both sides always say the same thing. “This is the most important election of our lives.”

And we all go, “yeah, sure, whatever.” But this time, for the first time in my life, I agree. We, as a country, are at an honest-to-God existential crossroad. We are being governed by the largest group of horrible dicks in modern history.

And we are being led by the biggest dick of all, the twidiot-in-chief.

So, please, get out and vote this November.

Be a decent human being.

Don’t be a dick. There are way too many of them out there already. 

ALLOWED AND FORBIDDEN – Marilyn Armstrong

Are we still free?

As our “freedom” seems to be becoming increasingly less free with each passing day, I have to wonder about a lot of things I always accepted as true. Or close to true.

I never believed Americans were quite as “free” as we said we were, but we were freer than most places I could live. Americans were under less scrutiny than most places. Our press was stronger — and freer — than most other places.

A friend told me a long time ago that one of the major differences between Europe and the U.S.A. was how we see our “freedom.”



Is that still true? I have a feeling it isn’t. You think?

Just a little note here:

The U.S. was explored by Europeans.

Spanish, Italian, English mostly. French. Portuguese. The people who didn’t “explore and settle” were the Natives whose land it was. So if a lot of what came with those original “explorers” stuck, you guys stuck it here. It didn’t get born in this soil. It was European. Brought here by the greedy guts explorers who showed up in ships and did their worst. We are your descendants. YOUR descendants. You might consider that in the midst of your condemnation.

You brought it and this is what it became.

WE’RE NUMBER ONE! BUT AT WHAT? – BY TOM CURLEY

WE’RE NUMBER ONE, BUT AT WHAT?

U.S.A.! U.S.A.! We’re number ONE! We’re the BEST! 

You’ve heard it all your life. You hear it at ball games.  You hear it at every political rally, regardless of which party is telling you how great they are. Hell, we’re going to hear it in a few weeks as the 4th of July celebrations start.

But let’s get fucking real for a second. Are we really number one? Are we the best country in the world?

Recently UNICEF released a “Child Well-Being in Rich Countries” study. They ranked 29 developed countries according to the well-being of their children on a number of factors. Where did the greatest nation in the world rank? Number one, right? Nope.

The US ranks #26. To be more specific we rank:

#26 for “Material Well-Being”.

#25 for “Health and Safety”.

#26 for “Infant Mortality Rates”.

#26 for “Low Birthweight”.

#22 for “Immunization Rates.

#27 for “Preschool Enrollment rates”.

#25 for “Participation in Further Education”.

#16 for “Overweight”.

#29 for “Teen-Pregnancy rates”.

#12 for “Being Bullied”.

It goes on. Were we #1 for anything? Yes. We were # for “Alcohol,” meaning we have the top rank for the absence of drunkenness. But considering our current government, can you blame the rest of the world for drinking more?

Another round for the world!

Republicans love to say that the U.S. has the greatest healthcare system in the world. The Commonwealth Fund ranks us #11 out of the 11 most developed nations. The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. #37 out of all the countries in the world. Just below Costa Rica and just above Slovenia.

But you know what we are best at? Putting people in jail.


This from Wikipedia: “In October 2013, the incarceration rate of the United States of America was the highest in the world, at 716 per 100,000 of the national population. While the United States represents 4.4% of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.”


Take that North Korea! Take that all you Third World Dictators! We’re number one! Lock us up! Lock us up! Oh wait, we’re already doing that.

We’re number one!!

You know what else we’re good at?

Ripping children, toddlers, and babies from their mothers and fathers because they had the nerve to travel thousands of miles from their home countries seeking asylum because their lives are in danger. We’re number one at ignoring their screams as their parents get dragged away, having no idea why this is happening.

MCALLEN, TX – JUNE 12: A two-year-old Honduran asylum seeker cries as her mother is searched and detained near the U.S.-Mexico border on June 12, 2018 in McAllen, Texas.  (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

We’re number one at putting them in overcrowded cages.

We’re number one in putting them in outdoor tent cities where the daytime temperatures reach 100 degrees.

We’re number one at telling a parent who is in custody that his or child is “taking a bath,” only to find the child has been taken to some unknown facility  1000 miles away.

How do I know this? Because I can’t think of any other country doing this!  I did a Google search. There was a country that did this and it didn’t end well for the country — or the children.

Germany 1933

It’s pretty much common consensus that our internment of Japanese-American citizens during World War 2 was the lowest point in our history — discounting slavery, of course. That would be lower. 

This horrific excuse for an administration says they are just enforcing the law. Except there is no law that says you have to rip a baby from his mother while she’s breastfeeding!

Our Chump-in-Chief says: “It’s the Democrat’s fault!”

Wow, I didn’t see that coming.

The Director of Homeland Security says there is no policy of separating children from their parents and they’re not doing it.


I watched her say it on TV next to another screen showing kids being separated from parents and being put in detention camps.


The administration has basically admitted that they are doing this as a bargaining chip for getting that stupid fucking wall. Ponder that for a second.

One man was so distraught over losing his kid he hung himself while in detention. Pity about that. Give Trump his wall and maybe this can all go away.  If there is a devil, he’s sitting in hell going WTF? Dudes, dial it back a bit! This is over the top for anyone with half a conscience.

There’s a difference between patriotism and nationalism.

A nationalist says “My Country, right or wrong. Love it or leave it.” They think our country is like a sports team you support no matter how badly they are doing.

A patriot says “I love our country but when our government is doing something wrong, we point it out and you are obliged to fix it. We’re not perfect. We can do better.

My country right or wrong? Here’s the full quote.

Our country is not a sports team. We love to say that we are a nation of laws. Great. But shouldn’t we also be a nation of human beings? A nation of compassionate people with some modicum of decency?

We’re a nation of immigrants.

We all came from somewhere else. Except for Native Americans. If you want to get really technical, even they walked here from a land bridge from Russia around 50,000 years ago, so they’re immigrants too.

One of the most important icons of this country is the Statue of Liberty.  The plaque on it has the famous words “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It should be changed now to “Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. We’ll rip your kids away from you and huddle them into overcrowded detention centers.”

Something to think about this 4th of July.

I’ve made a point of trying to find some sliver of humor in any of the blogs I write. I have to admit I got nothing on this one. I even teared up a few times while I wrote it. So I’ll try to end with a joke.

How many Trump administration people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer? 20,010. One to change the bulb, three to blame the bulbs failure on the Democrats, three to blame it on Hilary and Obama, three to say the bulb didn’t need to be changed in the first place, and 20,000 ICE employees to commit horrific acts of child abuse. 

Oh well, at least I tried.

A LOT MORE PAIN TO COME – Marilyn Armstrong

From: ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP by Steven Brill

“Donald Trump’s victory and this current political crisis were decades in the making. This moment is a reflection of serious institutional and structural problems in American society. How do you make sense of it all?

During the 1960s I was part of a generation that benefited from the expansion of American meritocracy. I was one of the first group of students to be admitted to Yale when it was opened up to Jews, admissions was made need-blind, people started getting financial aid and Yale transformed from being just the old boys’ network to something a bit more meritocratic and open. The beneficiaries of that in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990’s would become the  lawyers who created and engineered corporate takeovers and ways to fight unions in the South, as well as how to lobby so that regulations would not be passed. That generation also became the bankers who created casino capitalism.”


This was the piece on Alternet I would have liked to reblog. Instead, I thought I’d give the story and a link so you can read the original yourself. It’s long and worth the effort.

The closing lines got me. They dug right into my soul and reminded me why I find myself so troubled by today’s world. It isn’t ONLY that Trump won the election.


What are you worried about in this moment regarding the United States? And what are you happy or more positive about?

Well, if you see the people who are really in the trenches fighting back to improve society you’ll be optimistic. But the truth is we’re going to go through a lot more pain before we start to turn things around.”


I have understood for a long time that this thing we are living through didn’t start with the most recent presidential election in the U.S. We are seeing similar patterns in any number of European countries, including Great Britain, France, Holland and many more. For that matter, we see similar patterns in Muslim and Hindu nations. Hate is big.

Rolling the world back from this horror show will not be a matter of one or two elections. It is going to require a serious rethinking by many of us — including me — of what we want our world to be. Of who we, as human beings, need to be.

Right now, humankind is standing in front of a distorted fun house mirror. In it, we see evil. We see people without conscience targeting everyone. Whether they are bankers, politicians, hackers, or that nasty bastard down the street … they share a complete absence of concern for those who have less and need help.

These are not people who “help.” They are the destroyers, whether they are rich or poor. They have no moral center.

There are a lot of them. Many more than we imagined might exist in our world. Some of them are “friends” or “family.” Forgiving them because they are familiar to us is how most people deal with them, but it’s not an answer. It merely perpetuates the ugliness.

It says: “Your racism is okay because you are my uncle, cousin, or old friend from school. I will forgive you because you are part of my pack.”

But their racism is NOT okay, even if it is your twin sibling. It’s not okay under any circumstances. It is wrong, absolutely and completely. Sometimes, wrong is wrong. That’s the beginning and end of it. It isn’t okay because “Oh, well, he doesn’t really mean it.”

Yes, he means it. He always meant it. When it was politically incorrect, he shut up about it but now, it’s okay. After all, when the President says it, it must be alright. But you still think he’s okay, right? Family and all that.

You give him support and continue to support him or her. And you are as wrong as he or she is.


“Trump won every single category of white voters. It wasn’t some cartoon caricature of the “white working class” that the mainstream  media likes to paint about the rubes out there in the hinterlands. That narrative about white “economic anxiety” is easier to report on and write about than it is to dig into the real systemic and structural problems in American society.”


No matter how we want to play with the statistics — after all, Hillary Clinton won the general vote, right? — that statement should scare the wits out of you. It stands white America as one group facing the rest of America with the potential of being the biggest, ugliest, deadliest race war ever to hit this planet. It not only stands white Americans against all other Americans. It stands our white American politics against the rest of the world, most of which is not white.

Most of the world is Asian or brown or black or some mixture of these. Most of the world is not white. Our political descent from white Europeans has skewed us to think that somehow we are better, stronger, fitter than “those other people.”

That might have been true — at least in terms of resources — 75 years ago. It most certainly is NOT true now.

If nip comes to tuck, the result is likely to be a world in which none of us can live. Not here, or there, or anywhere. And science fiction notwithstanding, there’s no other world waiting for our survivors. This is it. We screw it up, it stays screwed up for us. Forever.


Note: I’m not saying that everyone is evil or racist or in any way bad. But there are an awful lot more of them than I imagined this world could support. I don’t know why I didn’t realize it. With all the wars — civil and uncivil — obviously there is a lot of room for bad people. But I’ve lived in a world where my friends are good people. My family are good people. I have not lived with hatred and racism. I know of it and had some skirmishes, but the number of really bad people out there is way outside anything I imagined possible.

FLAGS BLOSSOM IN THE OLD CEMETERY – Marilyn Armstrong

The cemetery is in the center of the town, across from the dam and just a hundred or so yards from the river itself. It’s up on a hill, so it never floods, even when the rivers rush over their banks. The people who created that cemetery knew about the rivers. And flooding. They picked a beautiful spot, but dry and safe for the bones and memories.

An old cemetery, dating back to the early 1700s. It contains traces of many generations of those who lived and died in this town, this valley. Folks who lived along the Blackstone and its many tributaries, fished in its lakes and streams. They fought in our wars and are buried here — Revolutionary War soldiers, Civil War veterans as well as those who fought in all the American wars since.

Every Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day, the cemetery blooms with bouquets and flags. The schools bring the children here, so they will remember too and traditions will be maintained. They bring bouquets of wild flowers or from the back garden. Lilacs and lilies, scarlet poppies … and always a miniature American flag. Even if there’s no special holiday, the cemetery always shows signs of caring, remembering.

At the library

Maybe it’s easier to remember here, with such a small population. Is that it? Or it’s just part of the air, the character, the history. Remembering is what we do in the Valley.

The cemetery is one of my favorite places. We’re newcomers after all, only living here 17 years. Our ancestors — Garry’s and mine — come from Sligo, Antigua, Minsk, Bialystok … from tiny villages in Ireland and the West Indies and the shtetls of eastern Europe.

Valley people have been here longer. Many came from French Canada in the late 19th century to work in the mills. Another large group formed the dominant Dutch population. They built churches, businesses and factories, dairy and truck farms, shops, horse farms and sawmills. Their names are prominent wherever the rivers run.

Newcomers, like us, aren’t quite as rare these days, and anyway, we’ve lived here 18 years, so we are no longer outsiders. Nonetheless, we have no ancestors in this cemetery.

The valley is the only place I’ve lived where the majority of families have lived in this town or in a nearby villages for three, four, five generations.

“We’ve always lived in the Valley,” they say, meaning as long as anyone can remember. If gently prodded, they may recall at some point, long ago, they came from somewhere else … but some can’t remember when or if it’s true.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

I point out they must have come from somewhere because unless they are Native American, they came to this place, even if a long time since. They get misty-eyed trying to remember old family stories handed down when they were young. Hard to remember, they tell you. “You know, that was 75 years ago … a long time.”

We nod, because it was a long time ago. Before we could remember anything, surely.

So another year passes and little flags and flowers bloom in the old cemetery in the middle of town. It’s a nice thing they do. Remembering.