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. 

WE HAVE TO APOLOGIZE TO CANADA – BY TOM CURLEY

I’ve given up trying to make sense out of anything anymore. After over a year living in the waking nightmare that is our current government, I thought nothing could surprise me anymore.

Do I know what SCROTUS is going to do tomorrow? What he’s going to do in the next hour? Hell no. I gave up on trying to figure that out a long time ago. You can’t figure out what a crazy person is going to do. That’s what makes them crazy.

Our cheese-headed-so-called president has pissed off a lot of people. 60 to 75 percent of Americans. Pretty much all of Mexico. His new US Ambassador to Germany pissed them off so much his first day on the job they’re threatening to throw him out. For the last year, there’s been constant talk about rage fatigue. We can’t keep up this level of anger.

I’m not worried about that. No matter how mad you get at what he did today, I guarantee you he’ll come up with something tomorrow that will shoot your blood pressure right back up to 11.

But last week, the idiot-in-chief did something unbelievable. Even for him.

He pissed off Canada.

Think about that for a second. HE PISSED OFF CANADA!

I didn’t know that was possible! I mean, we’re talking about Canada! The country whose worst stereotype is that they’re all incredibly polite and they apologize for everything. Hell, they apologize for apologizing!

CANADIAN: Hey, sorry about that, eh?

AMERICAN: You didn’t do anything wrong. You don’t have to apologize.

CANADIAN: Oh, I see, sorry.

This moron goes to the G7 summit, called the G6 + 1 by all the other members. And insults everyone. He then threatens them with more tariffs if they don’t do everything he tells them to do.

His excuse for doing this to Canada, Europe, and Japan?  Our allies? An obscure rule in the trade agreement that says the President can impose tariffs on a country if it’s a “threat to our national security.”

Not surprisingly, everybody, especially Canada went “WTF!! We’re a threat to your national security?? We fought with you in two World Wars for Christ’s sake!”

What was his reply? “Well, didn’t you guys burn down the White House?” referring to the burning of the White House during the War of 1812. Which is when the British burned down the White House. When Canada wasn’t even a country!  Then, he leaves the summit early, in a huff. After he left, Justin Trudeau gave a press conference where he basically told the US president to go fuck himself.

He did it in the most polite way possible. He said, “I know we have a reputation for being polite, but we won’t be pushed around.”

He didn’t apologize for the statement! The media and the world were shocked. If we translate what he said into American it would be something like this. “WTF! You want to start a trade war with us!? FUCK YOU, you Goddamn moron! You think you can fuck with us? Oh, hell no! Oh, and sorry about the foul language.”

There’s a great picture that Angela Merkel released. It sums up the whole meeting. It looks like it should be a Rockwell painting.

You need to go to your room and think about what you did!

I’ve realized that we Americans have to stand up, take responsibility and do something about this. We have to apologize to Canada.  We need to start a movement. Use Twitter, Facebook, email, Instagram. I don’t care.

Each of us needs to say “Canada. I’m sorry. We all know this guy’s a fucking moron. He’s embarrassing all of us. Our bad.”

If you don’t have a social media account, just send Canada an “I’m sorry” greeting card. You can find them in any drug store.

The majority of us didn’t vote for the asshole

And while we’re at it, we also need to apologize to France, England, Germany, Italy, and Japan. Who am I kidding? Except for China, Russia and now, North Korea, we have to apologize to everyone.

We are sorry, World.

We’re working on fixing this next November.

BECOMING A POLITICAL PESSIMIST – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I used to look forward to reading the news. I know it sounds crazy, but every day I looked forward to reading about another advance in the Mueller investigation. It seemed to be moving inexorably toward its ultimate goal – the exposure of the crimes of Trump, his campaign and his family.

In my fantasy world, there would be a day of reckoning. Trump would be forced to resign or would be impeached. We’d get to watch all the shady characters around Trump get their comeuppance. Justice and the rule of law would be restored. And all this before the 2018 midterm elections!

Mueller is my only hope that something so cataclysmic will be revealed that even the soulless, spineless, amoral Republicans will throw up their hands and say “This is enough! We’re out!”

Unfortunately, my fantasy world is crumbling around me. The forces of evil seem to be winning – or at least not losing. Instead of anticipating exciting news from Mueller’s probe every day, I dread the day I’m going to read that Ron Rosenstein has been fired and that the Mueller investigation has been terminated. I know it’s coming. It’s just a question of when and how.

Once Mueller is gone, I’ll have nothing positive to look forward to politically except the 2018 elections. And they are too far away to get my blood boiling yet. Without my daily dose of hope from Mueller, I have nothing to blunt the impact of three and a half more years of a Trump Presidency. That is truly depressing.

I also don’t put too much hope for salvation on the upcoming elections. Even if the Democrats win the House of Representatives in November, they can impeach but they can’t convict and remove Trump from office. Only the Senate can do that with 67 votes – way more than the Democrats can even dream of winning.

So, barring a thunderbolt from Mueller, and soon, I can’t foresee anything keeping Trump from serving out his full term. And the damage he can do in three and a half more years is mind blowing!I feel for the country and fear for our democracy. I cringe at the thought of what this country will look like after four full years of a Trump Presidency.

I’m also selfish. How will I get through each day of Trump without a total moral and emotional breakdown? What will I cling to each day to get me through to the next? I can try to avoid the news. But for me, that can only last for a few days. I’m addicted and so is my husband. He’s even worse than I am.

Maybe after November, it will be enough for me to watch a Democratic House pummel Trump and renew criminal investigations into him and his merry band. Maybe that will be enough to keep me sane. Maybe it will be gratifying enough to watch the inevitable decline of the Republican Party. Maybe that will keep my spirits up.

Maybe watching Trump squirm under a Democratic thumb will brighten my days.

Who knows what will have happened by the time November rolls around? I pray it will be something with which I can maintain my equilibrium until the next national election.

THE FAILURE OF DEMOCRACY – RICH PASCHALL

The Illinois Primary, by Rich Paschall

The weather was a bit cold and the skies were partly cloudy when I went to vote in our primary.  Our political future is mostly cloudy with a 98 per cent probability of discontent.  I guess that is nothing new for a primary, but in the current political climate, I was hoping for a better atmosphere.

The voter turnout was astonishingly low despite the massive amount of money spent on television ads and the large quantity of social media madness.  A friend of mine who always votes immediately took to Facebook to tell all the non-voters to just “stfu.”  If you don’t know what that means, you can consult your urban dictionary.  We are trying to keep a “G” rating here.

Illinois counties
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“I am surprised,” said Cook County Clerk David Orr of the low turnout.  The county estimate late in the voting day was 23 percent.  Cook County contains Chicago and suburbs so the one county of 102 counties can pretty much determine the outcome of statewide races.  Imagine if we had double the turnout and they all voted for someone other than the eventual winner.  All races would have a different candidate and the voter turnout would still be less than half.

The county clerk thinks that all of the negative advertising has a negative effect on voters.  If you think all candidates are bad, why vote?  The days of voting for the “lesser of two evils” seems to be gone.  If voters don’t like the choices, they stay home.

If you think Millennials are going to bail us out in the future, you might wish to think again.  Their voter turnout was pegged at about 3 per cent.  THREE per cent!  You might get them to register to vote at voting drives on college campuses and some local hot spots, but getting them to actually vote seems to be another matter.

Voters between 54 and 74 helped to bring up the percentage.  The turnout in this age group was 42 per cent.  OK, we care about the outcome and we want to get rid of as many bad politician as possible.  Our numbers, however, are dwindling and so is our influence.  When we are gone, who will be voting?  Will ten percent of the population decide for everyone?  We know extremists with a rabid fan base will get voters out, how about the sane ones?

When I arrived at the polling place in the local grade school near the house, I noted that you had to go up stairs to get in and then down stairs to the polling area.  It is not what you would call handicapped accessible.  I know there is a handicapped entrance as it is a public school, but I believe it is on a different side of the large building.  This has been my polling place for almost 40 years.  Now the stairs bother me and friends say I should report this to the Board of Election Commissioners.  That would be the democrats who help decide where all these polling places are put.  They must have heard the complaint by now.

We have paper ballots where you fill in the arrow for the candidate you want with a fine tipped black marker.  I took the large sheet of paper for the Democratic primary to the voting booth where I could sit rather than stand.  There was no one else there, so why not?  I carefully considered the list of billionaires and multi-millionaires running for governor.  The favorite was J. B. Pritzker, billionaire businessman and venture capitalist.  He hopes to unseat billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner, businessman and venture capitalist, in the fall.

The Pritzker family is well-known for philanthropy.  I know this by the amount of things that have their name on it in Chicago.

Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy – Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast

Despite the 70 million dollars in ads bought by Pritzker with his own money, I decided to vote for Chris Kennedy, son of the late Senator Robert Kennedy.  No one here considers him a carpetbagger, by the way.  He met his wife at Boston College and after graduation in 1986, he married her and moved to Decatur, Illinois.  Decatur!

For years he ran the Merchandise Mart properties.  The Merchandise Mart in Chicago is the largest commercial building in the world. He has been involved in various local and civic causes.  He was not liked by the establishment and did not have the kind of money Pritzker had for ads.  He lost.

After I turned in my ballot and headed out of the polling place, there were a couple more voters there, but I did not get a good look.  From a distance they looked like Boris and Natasha, but I did not think those two lived in my precinct.  Anyway, the turnout was sparse.

Outside there were political operatives handing out polling cards or “palm cards” to voters.  These are cards you can take into the polling place so you can vote for the candidates endorsed by the Democratic Party. This is a long and time-honored tradition here.  It probably has less influence than in the Mayor Daley era.

Two of the street operatives looked amazingly like moose and squirrel, but I could not tell for sure as they hid behind a tree when the Boris and Natasha looking characters came out.  I was going down the street in the other direction so who can say who these characters actually were.

In fine Chicago tradition the County Clerk received complaints of fighting at a polling place.  It seems some political operatives got into a fight with other operatives over the placement of campaign posters.  Yep, your signs might be too close to someone else’s signs so maybe he should punch you.  That’s what we call here “the fight for democracy.”

Sources: “Illinois Primary 2018: Large majority of voters stay home on Election Day,” abc7chicago.com
“Illinois Primary Voter Turnout,” chicago.cbslocal.com
“Christopher G. Kennedy,” en.wikipedia.org
“Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to Face Democrat J.B. Pritzker in General Election,”  http://www.wsj.com

MOTIVATING DEMOCRATS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s an interesting strain in Jewish history. When Jews are persecuted, killed, locked in Ghettos or severely discriminated against, as in most of our history, we stick together. We stay strong and united. We cling to our traditions and our religion. We stay proud and unbowed as we fight to survive, as individuals and as a culture.

However, there have been periods in our history when the persecution was lifted and Jews are more openly accepted into the larger societies. When that happens, Jews tend to rapidly assimilate. In the process, we lose some of our Jewishness. We adopt the culture of our homeland. We intermarry. We raise our children less Jewish. This has happened in America since the 1960’s. Without an external enemy, we lose our motivation to maintain our cultural and religious identity.

We become complacent and lose some of our unique spirit as a people.

I believe that Democrats and  progressives are, in some ways, similar. When things are going well for us, we lose our identity and our will to fight. We don’t vote in off-year elections. We don’t participate in local and statewide politics nearly as much. We don’t stay organized, motivated, and active without an external crisis to propel us into action.

We were motivated by George W. Bush. We became a vocal anti-Bush, anti-Republican, anti-Iraq war force. We voted, we protested, we became a presence on late night TV. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” became the most trusted man in America. “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” became some of the left’s major sources of news and sustenance.

Then Obama came along and we went back to our daily lives, leaving politics far behind. We stayed home for the mid-term elections and a large majority of states were totally taken over by Republicans. In the 2016 election, many Democrats were not ‘excited’ about Hillary Clinton. No one believed that Trump could win. So too many of us stayed home on election day or voted for third-party candidates. Now we have Trump to motivate us again.

And we sure are motivated. We are marching and organizing with a vengeance. We are running local candidates against Republicans, even in deep Red states. We are pulling in record vote tallies in special elections all over the country. We are winning local and national elections in deep red areas. Progressive organizations are raising money like crazy, with small donations as well as large ones.

Now there are many more late night shows to take up the Democratic/Progressive banner. Facebook, Twitter and other internet platforms have been a big factor in this Progressive explosion. The outrage is everywhere.

Hopefully we can maintain this level of activism and enthusiasm into the mid-term elections in 2018. Hopefully that will be enough to win over one, or maybe even both houses in Congress. If not, we may not be able to get the major change in Washington that we want through the ballot box before 2020.

There shouldn’t be a problem keeping Democrats active as long as Trump or Pence are in the White House. Let’s just hope we’ve finally learned our lesson and don’t crawl back into our apolitical holes once we get rid of the current Republican scourge on our country.

TRUMP OVERLOAD – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Something has changed in me. A switch has been turned off. I am no longer obsessed with Donald Trump. I don’t feel compelled to follow every statement, every interview, every tweet from the President. He no longer seems as important or relevant.

Trump’s National Security and Foreign Policy Cabinet members apparently agree with me. They have recently told the rest of the world to basically ignore Trump, particularly his tweets. They have tried to reassure everyone that our foreign policy is what it always was, not what Trump seems to think it is — or wants it to be.

Trump’s Chief of Staff, John Kelly, said that he doesn’t even read Trump’s tweets. Nothing to see here folks. Move along!

The government seems to be working over and around Trump in many ways. Not with him or for him. He can still veto things and issue signing statements, but what he says and does on a daily basis is no longer of major importance to the rest of his administration. Or to me.

I don’t want to watch Trump any more or hear him talk. It’s like chalk on a blackboard. I’m over him. I’m sick of being sickened or outraged. At least first-hand.

I still read editorials and articles analyzing the effects of things that Trump says and does. I can’t avoid him completely on Cable News, which I still watch. But it’s as if he is dead to me now. I don’t get a knot in my stomach every time I hear him say something awful. He no longer has the power to push all my buttons up to eleven, over and over, day after day.

I expect him to be vile and psychopathic, outrageously ignorant and untruthful, narcissistic, annoying and enraging. All the time. So nothing surprises me or ‘gets’ to me anymore. Everything he does is a big “Whatever! What else is new?”

I don’t know where this leaves me going forward. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sustain this healthy distance from the toxicity of Donald Trump. I just know that this attitude is better for my blood pressure and my overall physical and mental well-being. My mood has improved and I’m more upbeat and positive. So far, so good.

I’m still passionate about what is happening in my country. I’m still following the news closely every day. It’s just not all about Donald Trump anymore for me. Maybe the key to surviving the rest of his term is for everyone to marginalize him. Make him irrelevant. Laugh at him and don’t take him seriously.

If nothing else, it will drive Trump friggin’ crazy!

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?

I need to admit something up top here. I think I wrote this piece because it includes some of my all time favorite folk music — played by the original people. The final one, “Everything’s Fine Right Now” was a love song from me to my baby in 1969 when my big tall adult was a little, funny kid. So if you don’t feel like reading this, don’t … but play the music. It’s great music. I think that may really be what the world needs more of. Folk music. Lots of it.


When I started writing Serendipity five years ago, I was enthusiastic and full of energy. Undisciplined. All over the place. Writing too much, leaping from subject to subject. Angry one day, mellow the next. Ranting about the wrongs of the world and how we needed to fix everything. I think I knew more when I was younger. I even ranted about philosophy. Imagine that.

And then I just dropped everything and took pictures of autumn leaves.

I was so passionate I probably contradicted myself a dozen time a week, but who was counting?

Parkland along the canal

A hideous election that completely altered my world view — and massive heart surgery — and now, I am living in my nightmare world. I expect awful things and to no ones surprise, that’s what we get. Because somehow, through the perfect storm of politics, we elected the worst possible president and now we are living under his … tweets.

I remember 2012, when I was full-bore into the election and all the positive change I expected to see. The election ended. Gridlock began. The air went out of my bubble. Life got grim and rather ugly. I got sick. I didn’t want to get down in the trenches and duke it out with people with whom I disagreed. I didn’t feel like bothering to call out the crazies for being crazy. I wanted to hear music. Not new music. Old music.

As we head into elections in 2018, we need to be much smarter. Less passionate, more intelligent. Anyone who still thinks voting has nothing to do with them is beyond help. Let’s find people we can help. Let’s give up on all those people who live in a state of blind hate. They aren’t going to change and we will never convince them of anything. More than half the people I hear from are irrational, stupid, and fascist. We aren’t going to bring them to our side. They don’t have a side. They simply hate.

How do you talk to people who are completely irrational? Who don’t care whether what they believe is true or not? People who think their personal feelings are more important than truth? Any truth?

Meanwhile, there’s music.

The current future looks a little bleak. I have started to discover where the cuts to Medicare are. I can’t afford my drugs. I could barely afford them last year, but it’s just February and I’m not optimistic about the upcoming year.  I hope I live to see this disaster end.

I want to move back to the United States. I’m pretty sure — this ain’t it. Are you hearing Phil Ochs singing “I ain’t marching anymore …” Are you wondering where have all the flowers gone?