READING THE NEWS AS MASOCHISM by ELLIN CURLEY

I have a very nice life. By most objective standards, I have nothing to complain about. Then why do I walk around with a knot in my stomach and a sense of dread in my heart? The answer is – I read the news. Every day. Obsessively.

Why?

Why do I subject myself to ongoing angst when I could be living a minimally stressful retirement? The daily workings of the government usually have no effect on my existence. Even a major international crisis rarely intrudes on my day-to-day life. The policies of HUD don’t interfere with my peaceful existence in exurban Connecticut.

News-headline-newspapersSo why can’t I stay away from the major source of anxiety in my life? And why do I feel anxiety about things that will probably have little or no effect on me or my family? Other than masochistic tendencies, I’m not sure of the answer.

I come from generations of passionately involved women who actively protested the injustices of their day. My grandmother protested against the czar in Russia. My mother marched for labor unions in America. They brought me up to feel connected to the world around me. They made sure I empathized with those less fortunate than me. They made sure I chafed at injustice and inequality. They made it impossible for me to turn away from deprivation and suffering.

My mother and grandmother were activists. They put their money where their mouths were. I’m not like that. I’m an introvert and slightly claustrophobic in crowds. I don’t do rallies, marches or protests. I cheer them on … from home. And I worry. Perhaps staying informed is my penitence for not being out on the barricades.

Photo: USA Today

Photo: USA Today

In the late ‘60’s and early ‘70’s, my grandmother chided me for not being a part of the protests that were taking place at Columbia University, where I was at college. The whole anti-Vietnam war movement started with Mark Rudd and the Columbia SDS chapter. Their protests were news. Photos of police on horseback clubbing students at my school were everywhere. The movement created there shaped the world for the next few years until the war finally ended. It also shaped my whole generation.

My grandmother said if the younger generation didn’t make a revolution to change things for the better, who would? I could have easily been a part of my generation’s ‘revolution’. But I wasn’t. It was a good one and I missed it.

So today, I read. I can’t stop, even when what I read depresses and scares me. On some level, I believe being informed is a way of being involved. I also talk to family and friends and try to get them involved with the issues that interest me. On Facebook, I take comfort in knowing there are so many others out there who also care about what I care about. So, I post and share articles that I think my online ‘friends’ should know about. Some of these people are genuine activists.

At least I can encourage and support them. It wouldn’t satisfy my grandmother, but it’s the best I can do.

EXCESSIVE EXPOSURE CAN BE LETHAL

EXPOSURE | DAILY POST


It’s Inauguration Day. In other years, I’d be watching the festivities. This isn’t a normal year and I am not watching.

I cannot watch. To do so would feel as if I were giving credibility when in reality, I feel betrayed. I want merely to crawl under a rock and wake up to discover it was just a bad dream.

Maybe these next years will not be as awful as I expect. Maybe they will be great, but I doubt it. I’m looking at the incoming cabinet, a bunch of billionaires and sycophants with no experience and even less moral fiber.

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Maybe you can watch this travesty, but I can’t and won’t. Exposure? I will have more than enough of that in the months and years to come. I’ll skip this day. And hope it’s not as bad as I fear. Even more, I hope it isn’t worse than I can imagine.

IT’S A CRAZY IDEA! BUT IT JUST MIGHT WORK – BY TOM CURLEY

I’m not the first person to notice  or comment on this, but  60 to 70 percent of Americans have been going thru the 5 Stages Of Grief after the election of, well, you know who.

freep.com

A few are still in Stage One, Denial. A lot are still in Stage Two, Anger. Most still seem to be stuck in Stage Three, Bargaining. Particularly the press. “Pivoting” and becoming “Presidential” are daily talking points.

youtube.com

youtube.com

Many have reached Stage Four, Depression. A few have made it to Stage Five, Acceptance.  Now as any grief counselor will tell you, people go through these stages at different times and some go through some stages but not all.  For example, I’ve gone through the first four but I can’t get to the fifth. Unless disgust counts as acceptance.

handheldpyrometer.com

handheldpyrometer.com

But here’s the thing.

No matter what stage of grief you are currently in, or whether you will go through all of them or just a few …

THIS GUY IS STILL GOING TO BE

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!!!!

capitolhillblue.com

capitolhillblue.com

THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, what are we going to do about it?

business2community.com

business2community.com

We don’t have a lot of options, but one of our best options is the hope that he does nothing.

By which I mean NOTHING.

Nothing that’s Presidential, like “Running the Country” kind of stuff. Believe it or not, the government would survive.  If you’ve ever worked for a large corporation you know that if the CEO goes on vacation for a month the company still runs just fine. Sometimes even better.

The US government is a huge company and like any giant ship of state, it has a lot of inertia.

Our Ship of State (titanicstory.com)

Most government workers have worked there for decades. Their bosses come and go every four years, but they stay. They know what to do. George W Bush took 407 days of vacation during his two terms. That is one year, one month and 12 days of vacation for an 8-year job.  Looking back, would it have been so bad if he had taken even more time off?

crewof42.com

crewof42.com

So the problem becomes how do we prevent the new President from doing any “Running the Country” kind of stuff? In this case I don’t think it will be too hard. We, the American People need to KEEP HIM BUSY!

nytimes.com

nytimes.com

Think about it. For the first time ever, because of Twitter, a single individual can directly interact with the President of the United States and actually get his attention! He responds with amazing consistency. He must fight back over any “Mean Tweet”. “Mean Tweets” have occupied him from a few days to more than a week or so at a time.

youtube.com

youtube.com

So, we have to come up with “Mean Tweets.” Tweets that will cause him to retaliate.

Here’s an example:

@HeyLookOverHere! Hey Mister President! Why are your feet so small?! Why is nobody talking? Has the cover-up already started? SAD! #TinyPedaledPOTUS  #TeenyFeetInChief #TenLittleTinyPiggies

smosh.com

smosh.com

I checked this out on Snopes.com and it’s actually true!

There’s been  lots of talk and jokes made about the size of the New Commander In Chief’s hands.  But why has nobody noticed or mentioned his feet?  Turns out, they’re not that big! Proportional to the rest of his body, his feet are tiny!  According to the scales and tables set up by the “American Association of Podiatry Advisory and Measurements Board,” the President-elect’s feet are “… between 20 and 28 percent smaller than they should be for a person of his height.”

triloquist.net

triloquist.net

And people are starting to notice. People are saying they’ve heard that he buys shoes that are too big and stuffs them with paper ripped from the Wall Street Journal.

thefineyounggentleman.com

thefineyounggentleman.com

That should occupy him for a day or two. We have to all help by re-tweeting each week’s “Mean Tweet”. The more people that re-tweet a “Mean Tweet,” the more the President will notice. He pays close attention to this stuff!

politicususa.com

politicususa.com

It’s even better if the press picks up the “Mean Tweet”. That almost guarantees a rapid response from the Oval Office.

We all must work together! Organize! Come up with a schedule!! That’s the most important part. A schedule! We have  to keep him busy for four years.

purepursuitauto.com

purepursuitauto.com

But we’re Americans! We can do it!

We don’t have to stop at Twitter. Get him involved with Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat,

isys6621.com

isys6621.com

My Space!  (OK that last one’s a joke for the old folks. The ones older than 20)

This is how the next four years have to go.

CHIEF OF STAFF:  Sir, the Ambassador from (fill in the blank) is here.

PRESIDENT: Leave me alone! I’m trying to pick the right default Instagram filter for all pictures of me!

coolmaterial.com

coolmaterial.com

So again:  It’s a crazy plan, but it just might work!! And remember, any article or email or post you receive that starts with the statement: “I checked this on Snopes.com and it’s true”  … ISN’T!

I obviously made up the story about his feet. But that’s no reason not to re-tweet it. Twitter has been his secret weapon and he’s been using it well. It can also be his kryptonite.

On a separate note, I’m sort of proud that I could write this whole blog without once actually typing the name Donald Trump.

 

pinterest.com

pinterest.com

Crap.

BE NICE. STOP FIGHTING. FIX THE WORLD.

What’s wrong with this picture? Other than you know … that face. When I found this on Facebook, it gave me pause for thought.

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I am not a fan of Trump. However much I dislike his politics and pretty much everything he stands for, he is not why we this country is divided. We were divided long before Trump. Basically, this country has been divided to one degree or another — usually more rather than less — for our entire history. What Donald Trump did was successfully parlay our existing divisions into his victory. He used our prejudices, bigotry, hatred, distrust and willingness to believe the worst of others — and turned it into political capital.

We let him win. Collectively. We allowed this to happen. 

Trump did not create the divisions. We did that ourselves by allowing partisanship to infiltrate every aspect of American life. Trump is the payback and our punishment. Karma is a bitch.

We should think about this. If we want a less divisive political system, what do we need to do to achieve that? If we want to live in a less angry society, how can we make that happen?

dwight-david-eisenhower-quote-i-do-not-believe-that-any-politicalWe might start by being nicer to each other. We can be civil, kind, polite, and friendly. Personally and online. It might catch on and become a trend. Obviously, it’s not a panacea. It can’t fix what’s wrong with the world, but it’s a start. Baby steps.

Next, it’s time to start letting go of old grudges, philosophical differences, and meaningless principles. We don’t only fight with “the enemy.” We constantly fight with each other over all kinds of nonsense.

It’s reminiscent of the battles within anti-establishment groups of the 1960s. Wrangling about every stupid little thing splintered us. Groups which should have been pooling resources could not let go of petty differences. Today, either no one can remember what the fighting was about … or it seems so trivial, it’s hard to believe anyone cared.

It’s Big Picture time. We need to define common ground — not our differences. Because there will always be differences. If we let our division define us rather than the stuff we have in common, we will never win.

Living in Israel, where government is via a parliamentary system, I always wondered how the religious right got what they wanted while the rest of us — center to left liberal majority and not a small majority but a huge one — seemed to not count, even though we vastly outnumbered the right. The answer was simple. Obvious. They stuck together presenting a solid wall. Whereas what the rest of us had in common was not being them. To effectively work as a power bloc, you have to find the core issues, the stuff that really matters to everyone — and let the rest go. Otherwise, we will lose. Again.

YEAR OUT, YEAR IN. DONALD TRUMP IN MEXICO – JUDY DYKSTRA-BROWN

Just a little cross the border humor to brighten your first Monday of 2017! (2017? When did that happen? Wait a minute … it can’t be that already, can it?)

Year Out, Year In. Donald Trump in Mexico – lifelessons – by Judy Dykstra-Brown


As I drove to town the last day of 2016, this was the sight I was met with.  I couldn’t stop then as I was in a hurry, but on the way home I stopped and snapped these photos.  If you click on the first one, it will enlarge and you can see the captions.

Um. Only problem is that one of them has seemed to have lost his head. Let's hope this is not a forewarning.

There’s more at: Year Out, Year In. Donald Trump in Mexico


I’m just guessing that this means Mexico isn’t planning to pay for Mr. Trump’s wall.

TRUMPED: REALITY, REALITY SHOWS, AND REAL TV – REDUX – TOM CURLEY

And now that the election has come and gone and Donald Trump will shortly occupy the White House, this post from last March seems even more relevant than it did when it was first published. What is Truth? What is Real? Have we slipped sideways into another dimension on an alternate Earth where everything looks like it used to, but it is something else. Something sinister. Weird. Scary.

It’s almost 2017 and I’m more than a little bit lost.

Marilyn


Ellin and I were on a brief ski trip a couple of weeks ago up in Vermont. We learned three things.

  1. We are still not too old to ski.
  2. Gravity is a harsh mistress.
  3. It’s getting harder and harder to figure out what’s real and what’s not.

Let me explain.

We were on our trip on a Tuesday. One of the Super Tuesdays. I forget which one because they’re all Super now. We’re both fascinated by this incredibly bizarre presidential campaign, so of course we were watching …

house of cards

indiewire.com

House of Cards on Netflix. We love that show.

In between binge watching episode after episode, we’d check in on the (real) election coverage. And that’s when I noticed that on House of Cards, the characters are constantly on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CBS This Morning, and so on. All this stuff is shot on the actual news sets with real people playing themselves — while reporting on a fictional presidential campaign.

I’m not going to reveal any spoilers, but this season’s episodes were filmed way before the actual election began. Despite this, the show (House of Cards) contains a lot of surprisingly prescient plot lines.

We sat there watching CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows interview and talk with Frank Underwood as he brilliantly manipulates the government and the world to get whatever he wants.

Then we’d change the channel to watch CNN, MSNBC, CBS and all the other news shows talk — with Donald Trump — where they were debating whether or not Trump has a large penis.

trumphands

washingtonpost.com

Then, a bunch of pundits complained this (real) campaign is nothing more than a bad reality show. They are correct. The Republicans are currently trying to throw their leading candidate off the island, but inextricably, he keeps winning the immunity idol.

immunity idol.jpg

survivor.wikia.com

The other questions everyone keeps asking is “How did a reality show star end up running for President?”

Good question. But I know the answer.

It’s all Dan Quayle’s fault.

dan quayle

businessinsider.com

You remember Dan Quayle, the guy who was George Bush Senior’s Vice President, don’t you? Dan had a reputation for not being the sharpest pencil in the box.

He was famous for misspelling potato as “potatoe” at a campaign stop at an elementary school in 1992.

quayle potatoe

Dailyhaymaker.com

Most people have forgotten the other important thing he did.

He started a fight with Murphy Brown.

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cloudpix.com

Murphy Brown was the fictional TV journalist and anchor. Played by Candice Bergen, she headed the cast in a 90’s sitcom about a fictional news show called FYI.

In one of the late seasons, she got pregnant and was going to be a single mother. Quayle gave a campaign speech (real) calling her out as being against “Family Values” because she didn’t have a husband. Murphy Brown was “mocking the importance of fathers” (an actual quote from Quayle’s speech).

quayle v brown2

uselectionatlas.org

Here’s where it got brilliant. The producers and writers of the show didn’t put out a statement denouncing his speech. They had Murphy Brown go after Quayle on the television show. It made front page headlines (real) all across the country.

quayle v brown1jpg

dykewriter

So, now you had Dan Quayle fighting with — and being mocked by — a fictional character on a fictional show. And he fought back. In real life.

Pretty much nobody said “Has anyone noticed the Vice President of the United States is fighting with A FICTIONAL TV CHARACTER ????”

No one appeared to notice. Or care.

That’s was the beginning of the end, when American politics started down the rabbit hole. What began as a real-life politician appearing on a fictional TV news show, morphed into fictional politicians on real TV news shows. And real news shows showing up on fictional TV shows.

And a bad reality host running for President of the United States.

In the real world.

At least I think it’s the real world. I’m not sure anymore. I used to have to take drugs to get this confused. Personally I’d rather watch House of Cards. It makes more sense.

To paraphrase a quote from one of my favorite movies, Galaxy Quest, our current reality is a poorly written episode. And it’s not over, not nearly.

EXPECT THE WORST, HOPE FOR BETTER by ELLIN CURLEY

I’ve figured out how to mentally and emotionally survive the next four years under Donald Trump. (If there is a God, please let it be only four years!). I’m not proud of the plan I’ve come up with. But I think it will work for me. It is not for the faint of heart, so for some of you, don’t try this at home.

Basically, I’m going to expect the worst from the Federal Government on most fronts. I have already mourned the loss of an environmental policy that fights climate change. Therefore, I will not bleed again and again as the environmental progress we’ve made is chipped away, bit by bit. At the end of Trump’s term, I’ll be thrilled if we can still safely breathe the air and drink the water in most of the country.

2016-electoral-college-map-states-clinton-won-blue-states-trump-won-redI have already surrendered the ideal that the U.S. government will promote individual rights – civil rights, right to choose, LGBT rights, freedom of speech and press, freedom from deportation, hate crimes and voter suppression, and so on. I will look only to the Blue states to protect individual rights, as many states have already promised to do. Selfishly, I live in a Blue state block so I hope to be shielded from the worst of the onslaught against rights that will take place elsewhere in the country.

I know that neither health care nor public schools will get the programs or the financial support I believe they should. I promise not to freak out at every attempt to destroy both systems. I’ll hope that the inertia of a huge bureaucracy — and the incompetence of the incoming administration — will at least mitigate the radical nature of the changes the Trumpettes want to make. But basically I will assume that for public education and national health insurance plans, the next four years will be like Moses’ time wandering in the desert. (At least this time it should be four years and not forty!)

As for foreign policy and the economy, if we don’t end up in a major recession, a nuclear war, or under martial law, I’ll consider it a win.

Illustration: Bangor Daily Tribune

Illustration: Bangor Daily Tribune

The one area where I can’t hide my head in the sand, is the media. My only hope that we will again function as an enlightened, progressive country, lies with the press and media. We can keep our ideals alive if at least some voices in publications, on television, and online remain sources of facts, truth, and real news. With their support we can fight back against the monsters roaming the land, trying to destroy everything about us that is decent and good. We will survive to triumph again — as long as progressive voices can to be heard, and continue to share ideas and plans for political resistance.

Other than keeping some form of resistance and truth alive, I have no hope for the Trump years. So I can’t be disappointed or surprised by pretty much anything. I won’t enjoy watching the world going to Hell in a hand basket. But I may be able to weather the experience without having a complete meltdown.