LET’S SWAP REALITIES – By TOM CURLEY

Hard to believe this was originally written more than two years ago, eh? It’s like we’re in another reality. Not a parallel reality. Just some weird place we never imagined we could ever be and most of us are still trying to figure out what’s going on.

Hey, has anyone gotten a check from the government? If you have, tell me your secret.


I figured it out! The solution to reality! This reality! This reality TV reality!

The problem is not so much that we are living in a reality TV reality. The problem is that we’re living in a REALLY BAD reality TV reality. Face it, it’s not working. Each time something happens that we might think is positive, the next day — or the next hour — we discover we were deluded.

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Do you know what does work?

Fictional TV reality!


Think about it. There was a show called “Designated Survivor.” In it, the whole U.S. government was blown up during a State of the Union Address.  The Executive Branch, Congress, Supreme Court? Wiped off the earth.

The only cabinet member that had to stay home becomes the President. He has to rebuild the government from the ground up. While he’s doing that, there’s a mysterious cabal in which the ones responsible for blowing everybody up are also trying to take over the country.

In spite of that, their government and President are doing a lot better job than ours! They are noticeably more sane and coherent and sometimes, they make intelligent decisions. Imagine that!

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So here’s what we do.  We switch realities!

It’s a win-win for everybody. How? It’s simple — at least in theory.

First


The current administration leaves the government and instead, goes on real TV, 24/7. Every day. You like watching the news? You’ll never miss another show!

SECOND


On Fox News. They all go to work on sets that look just like Washington, D.C.  They do the exact same things they do now. It will be just like on  “Big Brother”. Only bigger.

And on Fox News.

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They can pass laws, write executive orders, cancel health insurance for the whole nation, eliminate “Meals On Wheels” or just kick puppies. Whatever they want! Trump supporters won’t be upset because they only watch Fox News.

As far as they’ll be concerned, everything is normal.

It just isn’t real.

“And it’s only on Fox.”

Third


OK, great you say. But what about real reality? Who’s going to be the real President? The real cabinet?

Here’s who. Honest to God fictional ones.

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The cool part is, we have a lot of options. We have lots of choices for President. And if we dig into the DNC pool, we’ve got dozens more. Hell, every billionaire is ready to declare!

We could have Jeb Bartlett. He was a great President. Don’t believe me? Watch “The West Wing.” Again. As a matter of fact, just keep watching it over and over until you feel better. It’s like a political tranquilizer.

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We’ve got Dennis Haysbert. I’m pretty sure he was President twice.

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We’ve got Morgan Freeman. Not only was the President, but he was (is currently, I believe) also God!

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The list goes on. Michael Douglas, Kevin Kline, Jack Nicholson, Peter Sellers … (Oh, for God’s sake, Google the rest.) You get my point.

Now, appointing a cabinet becomes fun!

Fourth


Secretary of State? How about Tia Leoni? She’s already a Secretary of State and seems to be doing a pretty decent job of it every Sunday. Let’s give her the job for the rest of the week.

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Attorney General? Julianna Margulies. She’s a lawyer, ran for State’s Attorney and by almost all accounts, is a good wife.

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Secretary of Defense? I admit, at first, I was leaning toward Schwarzenegger or Stallone. Then it hit me.

CHUCK NORRIS! Think about it. We could cut the military budget down to nothing. Nobody’s going to go to war with us. Nobody fucks with Chuck Norris!

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ISIS COMMANDER: We will destroy America!

ISIS GUY WATCHING THE NEWS: Sir, America just made Chuck Norris Secretary of Defense.

ISIS COMMANDER:  Shit.

(Insert favorite Chuck Norris joke here. My favorite? Chuck Norris once counted to infinity. Twice.)

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Department of Education? The cast of Sesame Street.

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Depart of Health and Human Services? Pick any of the stern, but kindly Chiefs of Staff from any medical show you’ve enjoyed over the years. Any of them will do fine. (Except for Dr. Zorba. I’m pretty sure he’s dead.) (Extra points if you get that reference.)

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Department of Housing? Chris Rock. OK, he really doesn’t have any more qualifications for the job than Ben Carson does. But I just like the guy. He’s funny.

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(If you get that reference, you get double extra points.) I could go on, but you get the point.

Five: The Election


How do we do this?

We have an election. Not the usual kind. What with voter suppression, low turnouts, gerrymandering, the Electoral College, and just candidates that don’t have the right scriptwriters, our elections are not working out well. That’s how we got into this mess, to begin with.

We have the election the same way reality TV shows do it. Everybody gets to vote from their smartphone, their computer, their tablet, or Android device. You can email or text your vote. You are only allowed to vote up to 20 times on any given device. You can vote up until 10 pm Eastern Standard Time.

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Granted, this will fire up the Millennials and confuse the hell out of old folks. Maybe it’s unfair, but it’s still better than the Electoral College.

We can set up March Madness-style brackets and have an election every week for maybe a month until we get a winner. Imagine how many office pools there will be. You might even win!

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And we, the people, elect everybody. The President doesn’t get to appoint his cabinet. We do.

This is absolute Democracy at work!


It could work!


As a cheese-faced person who somehow actually became President of the United States said to a bunch of totally incredulous Black people:

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“Give it a try. What have you got to lose?”


A PLAGUE? REALLY? – Marilyn Armstrong

The world is bizarre, though I think we have now passed any concept I’ve ever had of what bizarre means.

  1. I was afraid if Trump lost, the Secret Service would have to carry him bodily from the White House.
  2. I was afraid the Democrats would have an insane convention and be the laughingstock of the American political world.
  3. I was afraid the electoral college would screw us … again … or it would be a tie and then the Supreme Court would screw us.
  4. I was afraid that somehow someone weird would wind up as the Democratic candidate because we’d have a brokered convention and the outcome would be strange.

I did not anticipate an actual plague. I mean, we say stuff like “a plague on your house,” but I don’t think we mean an actual plague.

Have we time-traveled back to the 14th century? Because Trump sounds about as scientific and modern as most of the nobles of the 14th century. If they had Twitter in 1347, I think Trump’s opinions would have sounded perfectly normal. They sound crazy today, but in the 1300s, he would have made perfect sense.

The view from the Apollo 11 (NASA)

What the hell is normal? I’ve completely lost track of it. I don’t know what a normal life is like or maybe I never knew, but now that everyone is living like I’ve been living, my life seems less normal. Previously, I wasn’t afraid of going places. I didn’t necessarily want to go anywhere, but I wasn’t afraid.I’m not usually fearful. But Owen has pointed out he doesn’t want to lose both parents at the same time.

We think we are going to have an election, but we aren’t sure. We don’t know who the Democratic candidate will be, though we think probably Biden. Who knows?  We should have picked Yang. He may not have seen this whole epidemic thing, but he got the message about keeping our personal economies from collapsing.

We all knew things would get crazier. Since Trump became president, we always think this is as nuts as it could possibly be, that we’ve finally hit the bottom. The next day, something happens and you realize, nope, not the bottom. We keep digging deeper. I’m sure we’ill ultimately come out on the other side of the world, somewhere in Australia. That was my goal when I was 10. I had looked at a globe and I realized that if you stuck a pin in the world in New York, you’d be in Sydney. Or maybe Melbourne.

Funny how childhood fantasies show up in adulthood, warped and twisted yet somehow, following your childhood dreams in the weirdest way.

A GAY PRESIDENT – Rich Paschall

Is America ready? by Rich Paschall

Let’s just say that you have a candidate for president that appears very likable, as political candidates go. He’s young and charming and smiles a lot. In this age of coarse political discourse, that would seem a big enough plus to give him some serious consideration. When you look further into his background, he seems even better.

Let’s just say that your candidate was the valedictorian of his high school class. As a high school senior, he won first prize in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum‘s Profiles in Courage essay contest. The subject of his writing was the courage and integrity of the independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders. From there your candidate went on to graduate magnum cum laude from Harvard University and was elected into Phi Betta Kappa, a prestigious academic honor society.  Following this, he earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University and graduated with first honors having studied politics, philosophy, and economics.  Also, he racked up an impressive list of academic accomplishments along the way. You may be proud of your candidate, but there’s more.

The candidate you are considering joined the Navy Reserve as an ensign in naval intelligence. He served a tour in Afghanistan and his work involved disrupting terrorist networks. He learned a local Dari language to aid in his job. He earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal for heroism and meritorious service.

During and after the college years he spent time on political campaigns and community organizing. He even spent time in Chicago as an investigative intern at Channel 5, the local NBC affiliate. With his illustrious credentials, he was elected at a young age to be mayor of his home town. In fact, he was the youngest mayor of a city of over 100,000 people. He won his second term with over 80 percent of the vote.  He is active in his church, knows seven foreign languages, has a long list of awards and was a guest piano soloist with the local Symphony Orchestra.  At 38 years old, he has a list of accomplishments that are too long for our normal space here.

Now that you have a candidate with a remarkable background, there is one more thing you should know. Some will question all of the above when I tell you this. For some, it will be as if this fact in some way diminishes the achievements above. He will be slandered by people who are not as intelligent, and who will never accomplish the feats he has done. Will this fact matter to you?  He’s gay.

Despite the list of achievements, of which we have only mentioned a few, some will feel him disqualified because of his sexual orientation. Pete Buttigieg, or “Mayor Pete” as he is often called, came out as gay in 2015. He is married and his husband has been seen with him on the campaign trail. This has drawn the ire of the “religious right,” which is an odd term since they do not seem to be religious at all, but I digress.

Candidates for president

At the Iowa caucus, a woman who voted for Mayor Pete asked for her vote back when she learned he is gay. She liked his message and voted for him, but his sexual orientation was a deal-breaker for her. You may have seen the video of her asking for the vote back. It went viral the next day.

The concern for one person wanting to change her vote is that she will not be the only one. Many who learn that Mayor Pete is gay and object on religious grounds will also find that the candidate they object to is active in his church.  He can talk about the important religious values that should guide leadership.

The better he does in the primaries, the more the haters will come out of the woodwork, so to speak, to attack him. Rush Limbaugh, the broadcast bigot who was given the highest civilian honor by a president of questionable morals, has already taken to the airwaves to attack Mayor Pete. He has offered the opinion that America is not ready to elect a gay guy, but is it?

Recently I was listening to WLS-AM in Chicago, a rare time indeed. I wanted to hear the comments of someone from Politico talking about the Iowa caucus. The conservative host made a point to emphasize that Mayor Pete is gay as if it was a crime. I am sure the conservative pundits who back the president, will increase the attacks if Buttigieg continues to do well   Will this slow the Buttigieg campaign? We may know as soon as “Super Tuesday.”

Being gay should not be a disqualifying characteristic for one being a national leader. In fact, several countries have LGBTQ leaders. A past Prime Minister of Iceland is a Lesbian, so is the current Prime Minister of Serbia. The Prime Ministers of Luxembourg and Ireland are gay, and so is a past Prime Minister of Belgium. Many national and regional leaders of other countries are LGBTQ. We lag behind the world in this equality and will continue to do so while we have leaders who work at dividing the country, and commentators who repeat their bigoted words.

Sources: “Iowa voter asks to change vote after learning Pete Buttigieg is gay,” Independent, independent.co.uk, Feb 4, 2020.
Pete Buttigieg,” en.wikipedia.org
Buttigieg hits back at Trump, Limbaugh over homophobic attacks,” by Chelsea Janes, The Washington Post, the washingtonpost.com, February 18, 2020.
List of openly LGBT heads of government,” en.wikipedia.org

WORLD SHARING WHILE WATCHING THE IOWA CAUCUSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Share Your World 2-4-2020


This year, politics is more critical than I ever remember it. To be fair, though, I’ve always been fascinated by our elections, debates, primaries. How they work, how people make their decisions. This year in Iowa, you can see — and I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this before — people thinking about what to do if their candidate doesn’t seem likely to win. Who will they then support?

Every single one has said that the bigger issue is getting Trump out of office and will if it comes to that, support anyone who isn’t Trump. That’s a huge change from 2016. Let’s hope it’s a national trend.


And the questions are:

When was the last time you tried something new?

Tonight I tried a recipe I found in a magazine in my doctor’s office. It was a creamed bean soup and I decided Garry liked it when he came back with his third helping. It went very well with warm garlic bread.

If you were forced to eliminate every physical possession from your life with the exception of what could fit into a single backpack, what would you put in it?

Bonnie guarding my computer

You mean like with a fire taking over my world? All my meds because I can’t live without them, my computers and back-up hard drives, and my cell phone because that’s what they are for. Stuff in a couple of cameras, too. The dogs don’t count. They won’t fit in a backpack!

What simple fact do you wish more people understood?

History matters. Our life is all in the past and we don’t know the future. Things that happened more than two thousand years ago affect us today. Like, for example, the birth of Christ, the life of Confucious, the American Revolution, the Constitutional Convention.

Going back even further, the development of democracy under both the Greeks and Romans. The invention of porcelain in China. When the rest of the world was running around in animal skins, the Chinese were analyzing porcelain glazes.

So much of history lives with us — for good and ill — today. Our failure to deal with its implications has had a lethal effect on our culture.

What food item do you go through fastest in your house?  (credit to Sandmanjazz)

Cinnamon bread and fruit-flavored sparkling water (ICE in particular).

Please feel free to share something that makes you happy!  

I’m extremely happy we discovered that our toilet was about to crash through the floor and probably kill one of us. We had NO idea how serious the situation was. It would have been a lethal fall for someone.

OUR WORLD BALANCED ON THE HEAD OF A PIN – Marilyn Armstrong

Garry was a working reporter for more than 40 years, so you have to figure I have an interest in the news. I never watched all the news. I didn’t think every shooting or fatal car accident was news. Just because something happens doesn’t make it newsworthy. Even if it’s tragic. News directors believe in bad news. Good news rarely makes the cut.

I was never a news junkie. I wasn’t — and still am not — addicted to the news, but I like to know what’s happening. Not just about things which directly affect me, but how goes my town,  city, state, nation, and world. From wondering who was going to fix our local potholes to which war we are currently fighting even though I never understand why we are having another (or the same?) war.

Film at eleven!

As far as elections go? I like to get a good, long look at candidates. If you don’t watch candidates during their campaigns, how can you know who to vote for? Having enough time to get that look at candidates is probably the only advantage of our ridiculously long election process. One of the many things you can learn is if that person has a moral center, something to which I think we’ve previously paid far too little attention.

There may be more …

Right now, as I’m watching television, it appears Iran has shot a dozen ballistic missiles at an American base in Iraq. So all of this could be a moot point. For all I know, we may be in the middle of nuclear war tomorrow or by the end of the week. I asked Garry if we should call all our friends (there aren’t that many) and say goodbye.

Maybe I don’t need a new boiler after all. Well, that’s a relief. There’s always a silver lining. You just need to look for it.

Missiles from Iran to U.S. installation in Iraq

When people said: “Oh, I don’t watch the news,” Garry took it personally. After all, he was on the news almost every day. Meanwhile, he read three papers a day as well as working fulltime for a network news affiliate. To be fair, half of that reading was sports, but we all need hobbies. He knew the candidates personally because he worked with them. He knew their records. He was really good at predicting elections. He had better than average resources and by definition, so did I.

Australian fire – clouds and embers

I never read three papers a day. I spot read one and never missed the comics or anything about archaeology. I watched and recorded Garry’s daily piece. Nonetheless, I knew what was going on. I voted almost every year. I missed a few. I never missed a presidential or senatorial election, but sometimes I’d let the local elections slide because I didn’t know anything about the candidates. When you don’t know who the candidates are, voting is like scratching a lottery ticket. It has the same resonance. I can’t throw my vote to the most appealing face on the ballot.

These days, I feel like our world is balanced on the head of a pin.

REUTERS/Noah Berger – Fires in California last summer

It’s a big, blue ball and a very tiny pin. There is no room to make a mistake. A bit of imbalance and that big blue ball will crash. Given one thing and another, it may crash regardless, but until I know it has, I’ll do the best I can to make a difference. In the course of our lives, we don’t get much opportunity to influence anything outside ourselves and maybe our family. The magnitude of the world in which we live has dwarfed our efforts.

Montecito Mudslide – 2018

This little blog is what I can do. If there’s any purpose to blogging daily, it’s because maybe I can help someone. Change someone’s mind. Show them a choice they didn’t know was available. Whenever I’m tired of the whole thing, I remember that there’s a chance I can help. Maybe I’m not just spinning my wheels.

I think everyone has a minimal obligation to have a fundamental understanding of the world in which they live. I find it appalling in a time when all our lives are on the line, that so many people still hide their heads in the sand or willingly believe lies because they feel better than the truth. Then they complain when things go wrong.

It was generations of head hiders who got us here.

COMEUPPANCE – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Comeuppance

When I think of the word, I think of Trump. I think of Lindsay Graham. I think of politicians. Then I get depressed and try to think of anything else. Something humorous although some days, humor is hard to find.

A very important cartoon!

I read an article this morning that said that unless more people vote (like in 2018) we’ll get you-know-who back. That totally ruined my day which had barely started.

STAYING 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.