KNOTS, PRETZELS, AND THE PRESS – BY TOM CURLEY

It’s been fun since the election watching the right-wing press, mostly lead by Fox News, bend themselves into evermore twisty and convoluted pretzels as they try to explain the latest gaffe/scandal/complete act of idiocy coming out of the White House.

The Dunderhead-In-Chief keeps admitting he does things, like, I don’t know. Like, give up code word “intel” to the Russians. In the Oval Office. Admitting that he fired an FBI Director because he was being investigated by the FBI over his connections to Russia … to the same Russians!  You know, stuff like that.

Hey guys, the CIA just told me some really cool stuff. Wanna hear it?

His defenses all boil down to: “He can do that if he wants to, so there” and “It’s Obama’s fault!”

This is nothing new. If we’ve learned anything in the last four months it’s that no matter how crazy we think things will be, they’ll be even crazier. We also know that the SCROTUS M.O. is to distract today’s scandal with a worse scandal tomorrow.

So, the question becomes, where does he have left to go? What scandal could be worse than today’s? Wait, I got it. He actually shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to prove he wouldn’t lose any of his supporters.

SEAN HANNITY: Breaking news. President Trump just shot a man on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Secret service agents immediately pounced on the man and wrestled him to the ground.

SEAN HANNITY: Here to discuss this breaking story we have Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Kellyanne, let’s start with you.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well first off I think it’s very unfair the way the fake news media have been saying the President shot a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: But he did! He shot a guy! On Fifth Avenue! On live TV!

What the hell?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s one way of looking at it. I didn’t see the President shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. I saw the President save a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: Save him?? From what?!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Radical Islāmic Terrorism.

BERNIE SANDERS: WHAT???!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: And besides, the President was elected in the largest landslide in the history of the world. So, he has the right to shoot anybody he wants.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO HE DOESN’T!!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, he can order drone strikes. He can send troops into war. He can launch missiles. In every case, he’s killing somebody. So why can’t he just take out a gun and shoot a man?

SEAN HANNITY: Hmmm. That makes sense. Executive privilege.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO IT DOESN’T!! Well, actually, it makes a little sense … No! What am I saying??! This is still crazy! He shot a guy to prove that none of his supporters would leave him!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s ridiculous. He was saving a man from Radical Islam. Every White House aide agrees with me.

SEAN HANNITY: This just in: President Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News that he shot the man to prove none of his supporters would leave him.

BERNIE SANDERS: SEE???

SEAN HANNITY: This also just in. A recent CBS/NY Times Poll says that President Trump has not lost any of his supporters. 85 percent said, “The guy had it coming.” The other 15 percent said “The guy probably had it coming.”

And so it would go. Full confession. This idea is not new. Google “George Bush ate a baby” and “George Bush Saves a baby”.

Everything old is new again. Just dumber.

IF HE DOESN’T KILL US, HE’LL MAKE US STRONGER – BY ELLIN CURLEY

If he doesn’t kill American democracy, Trump could actually make our country stronger. Not because of any of his actions, but because of the sweeping and strong REaction he has created in a large segment of the population. He may end up strengthening the Progressive Movement in the U.S as well as redefining and empowering the Democratic Party.

The Tea Party and Donald Trump were both catapulted into power by a small but very active and vocal right-wing minority. Though Democrats have technically been the majority party for a long time, the left never had the grass-roots organization or the passion that the far right Republicans did.

Trump’s election may have awoken the sleeping, liberal giant. Progressives haven’t been this mobilized and energized since the anti-Vietnam War Movement. And this time, a wider cross-section of the country is involved in the ‘Resistance.’ Large numbers of people who have never been politically active, suddenly feel an urgent need to speak out and act out.

ABC News

Grass roots progressives are organizing themselves on a scale never seen before, with little direction from the top. They are marching and going to Town Hall Meetings with Congressmen in record numbers. They are overwhelming Congressional offices with letters, emails and phone calls.

They have donated millions of dollars to Progressive organizations, like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU; organizations that have taken on the Trump administration legally as well as politically. This has already helped derail some major Trump policies, from the travel ban to the repeal of Obamacare.

Democrats have not been known for voting en mass in mid-term elections. They get complacent. Now liberals are flooding the voting booths for special elections all over the country. So far, their activism is being translated into votes, the true test of political power. If this momentum can be sustained into the 2018 elections, there’s a chance that the Democrats could regain control of at least one of the Houses of Congress. That would be a game changer. If Democrats continue to vote in higher numbers than they have historically, it could mean that they could also retake the White House in 2020. That is the ultimate goal.

Another positive side effect of our national Trump trauma PTSD, is that the Democratic Party itself is also undergoing a major change for the better. The outraged populous, led by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, is demanding a more economically populist platform going forward. The activists want the Democrats to emphasize positions that will win back the struggling and angry segment of the country. The people who are hurting economically and who feel left behind by a government by and for the top 1%.

Polls show that Democrats are perceived to be out of touch with the needs of the people. In reality, their policy positions in the 2016 campaign were well designed to actually meet those needs. But somehow Hillary Clinton did not get the message across, even though she adopted most of Bernie’s left of center positions. Sanders was seen as voice for the common man and she was not.

It’s important that Bernie’s ‘image’ somehow gets transferred to the Democratic Party as a whole. His ‘voice’ has to become the ‘voice’ of the party. That seems to be the direction the Democrats are moving. Younger people and more women are preparing to run for office as Democrats. They are also getting more involved in state and local politics. This will help reshape the Democratic Party into a more openly liberal and hopefully more popular party, at all levels of government.

Maybe we should thank Trump for helping the formerly silent Democratic majority find their political legs. He may be responsible for a new and better Progressive movement that is clarifying its goals and consolidating its political clout. Hopefully this means that Trump has sown the seeds of his own destruction.

WATERGATE REVISITED – BY ELLIN CURLEY

There’s been talk in the news recently about the 1973 Watergate Hearings. Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey reminded newsmen and pundits of Nixon’s firing of the Special Prosecutors during the Watergate investigation.

For me, it brings back happy memories. I was in law school during the Watergate Hearings. AND that law school was in Washington, D.C., the epicenter of the major national crisis. On top of that, Samuel Dash was a criminal law professor at my law school, Georgetown University Law Center. He was the Chief Counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee, headed by Sam Ervin, and one of the main players in the high-profile investigation. Dash became famous for his incisive, televised interrogations. We, at the law school, felt an intimate connection with the proceedings in the Senate.

For weeks, after classes, students would gather around the television in the Student Lounge to watch the live hearings. It was obviously a major topic of conversation. Sam Dash also made appearances at the law school. He’d be besieged by enthusiastic students and faculty members. Everyone wanted every bit of strategy and inside information they could get.

It wasn’t just my law school that became obsessed with the hearings. They were broadcast live on television for several weeks in May of 1973. 85% of American households watched at least some of the proceedings. Radio stations broadcast the hearings, at least in part, as well.

It was like the O.J. trial in that everyone in the country was focused on and talking about the same thing. It was a national bonding experience, at least for anti-Nixonites.

So we got to share our legal obsession with much of the country. Friends and family from New York City were all asking the same questions we were: What did the President know and when did he know it? Did the cover-up go all the way to the top? Would the revelations eventually topple the President?

But this time, maybe it IS the crime.

It was a very exciting time. Many of us had felt oppressed by what we saw as an autocratic and corrupt administration. It was beyond gratifying to watch the giant White House cover-up unravel before our eyes. We watched a giant fall in slow motion. We knew we were witnessing history in the making. We woke up every morning and grabbed the papers for the morning news. We religiously watched the evening news and any reports in between, to get every update. We shared the latest eagerly with friends and family. (No Facebook then!) What’s going on with Trump today has a similar feel.

With Nixon, we started out being sure that Nixon and his crew would get away scott-free and that the cover-up was too air-tight to crack. We followed clues and evidence that eventually revealed the conspiracy climbing farther and farther up the chain of command in the White House.

We finally got to watch the indictment of 40 administration officials and the conviction of several of Nixon’s top aides for obstruction of justice. This, in turn, prompted the start of impeachment proceedings and forced the ultimate resignation of Nixon.

I hope we are at the beginning of another national probe, this time into Trump and his involvement with Russia. This investigation will also capture the rapt attention of a big chunk of the country. It’s fun to dream that today’s numerous investigations will be as fruitful and successful as the ones in 1973. The Watergate saga proves that ANYTHING is possible.

KEEPING DEMOCRATS MOTIVATED – 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.

From: Miami-Herald

During periods in our history when persecution was lifted, we are more openly accepted into the larger societies in which we lived. When that happens, Jews rapidly assimilate. In the process, we lose some of our Jewishness. We adopt the culture of our homeland. Intermarry and 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. We lose some of our unique spirit as a people.

I believe that Democrats/Progressives are, in some ways, like the Jews. When things are going well for us, we lose our identity and our will to fight. We don’t vote in off-year elections and we don’t participate in local and statewide politics 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.

These days, 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. 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. That may not be enough to win over one, let alone both houses in Congress. So we may not be able to get the major change in Washington that we want through the ballot box before 2020.

But we can also maintain pressure on Congress, the intelligence agencies and the media. That eventually might result in someone being able to link Trump to the Russian hacking of the 2016 election. Or to money laundering, or something else that’s clearly illegal, even to Republicans. That could result in a resignation or impeachment, if something else, like egregious conflicts of interest, haven’t already.

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.

DOOM, DESTRUCTION AND THE DNC – BY TOM CURLEY

I don’t know about anybody else but I usually spend about five minutes every day deleting the junk email from my account.

I’ve had an AOL account from literally when they first started. I briefly worked for them and got the account for free. Yes you had to pay for an email account back in those dark early days.

 I have other email accounts, but I like this one. I’ve had it for over 20 years. I know that if you have an AOL email account millennials think it’s funny and it means you’re old. Fuck you, you little bastards. I was using email before you were even gleam in your father’s eye.  And get off my lawn!

Most of my junk mail is from political organizations like the DNC, Move.on, People for the American way, Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Michelle Obama’s cousin, etc. I’m sure the Republicans do the same thing. Blessedly, I don’t get those emails.

The ones I do get are incredibly annoying. They are always at def-con five. Or is it Def-con one? Whichever is worse, these are them. The world is always coming to an end.

Here are real subject lines from just three.


KISS ALL HOPE GOODBYE!

WE FELL SHORT!

THAT’S IT! IT’S OVER! TIME TO PACK UP AND GO!


The body of the emails will tell you that the Republicans have won. It’s over. We are all doomed. Everything we hold dear is gone.

DEAD!! NO HOPE!!

But when you get to the bottom of the email it says:


“However, it you could just chip in 3 dollars,
we could fix all this and the world would be fine again.”

Excuse me?? THREE DOLLARS??

You just had me freaking out about the end of all that I love and hold dear — and you could fix it for THREE FRIGGING DOLLARS!!!?

For God’s sake, take up an office pool! Dig up lost change  in the break room couch.

Tell me there’s not a few bucks in there.

All I’m saying is, tone it down guys.

God I wish spam filters actually worked.

BRING BACK NATIONAL BROTHERHOOD WEEK

Way back in the dark ages, the third week in February (an otherwise dreary and neglected month) was designated National Brotherhood Week. As designated special weeks go, it was never a big hit with the general public. In the 1980s, it disappeared completely. Probably because it failed to sell greeting cards. Which is, I believe, the point of this kind of created event.

brotherhoodweek-624x446

The National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ) came up with the idea of National Brotherhood Week in 1934. Given the current political climate, maybe we can agree more brotherhood year round would be an improvement. Sadly, we no longer have even that one, measly week.

February is now Black History Month which seems to mean movie channels run films featuring non-white stars, unless you watch PBS or the History Channel. There you might see a documentary or two. A man who took it seriously — back in the ever older days — as he took all politics seriously, was Tom Lehrer. He taught math at Hahvid (Harvard, if you aren’t from around here). He didn’t write many songs. Till his dying day (which hasn’t occurred — he’s alive and living in California), he thought of himself as a math teacher who wrote silly songs — not as an entertainer.

Despite this unfair self-assessment, I’ve always felt Tom got this celebration dead to rights. Ya’ think?

Check him out on YouTube. He only wrote about 50 songs and most of them are posted in some video or other. Me? I’ve got the CDs.

Remember CDs?

BONUS!


Given recent interactions with North Korea, I thought I’d add these two extra little ditties. They seem so … appropriate.

HEALTH CARE AND CIVILIZATION

I was on Facebook when I realized the House had actually passed Trump’s new “version” of non-health care. I got so depressed, I went to Steam and bought Civilization VI. I used to play the game three or four versions ago, so I am pretty sure I can figure out how it works. I had finally realized I cannot live on the horrors of politics. It will drive me insane.

It really is driving me insane anyway, even though I’m not personally using Obama’s health care system. Nor are we eligible for Medicaid. This isn’t going to affect us directly, but it is going to terribly damage other people we know and so many more we don’t know. The thing is, we don’t need to know everyone this will hurt to feel bad for them.

When I read this, Garry was watching a movie with headphones. I didn’t want to ruin his movie experience, so I waited until the movie was over. Then, I told him. I think his jaw literally dropped. He didn’t say anything. I understood. What more is there to say that we haven’t said a million times? It took so long to get health care in this country. I came very close to dying for want of available medical insurance and so have many other people.

Mind you, there are lots of people who did die and of course will die. Because they couldn’t get medication, couldn’t afford surgery, couldn’t go to a doctor. Didn’t have access to antibiotics or blood pressure medication or insulin. Because they had a bad heart valve and no money to fix it. A tumor they couldn’t have removed.

People who have no access to medical insurance die. Dead, buried, gone. It’s not a joke or a political ploy. It’s a fact.

So as this “news” was rolling around what’s left of my mind. I was so angry and upset, I didn’t know what to think or whether I should simply give up thinking at all. Exactly at that point, Steam popped up and told me a game in which I was interested was on sale. Civilization VI, the latest in the Civilization game cycle. I had been thinking about buying a game, but hadn’t been sure what to buy and was wondering if I would have the time to play it if I did buy it.

This horrendous piece of news was the clincher for me.  I was so depressed, I bought something that will take me away from all this.

It’s a terrible, evil thing those politicians did today. I don’t know how they can live with themselves.