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.

UNHINGED – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Captured

My marriage is fine. My house is not falling apart. The car was repaired and runs well. Yet I feel quite unhinged. A prisoner of war in my own country. Or that’s how I feel.

From Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman’s “Good Omens”

The World is killing me. I live in a country where the courts think it’s okay to kidnap and cage children. To put five-year-olds in front of a judge — without a lawyer.

There was another mass shooting today.

If somewhere there exists a particularly reactionary and stupid lawyer, Trump will appoint him or her and while I won’t live forever, my kid and granddaughter will spend the rest of their lives in this oppressive world we have created.

My world is crumbling. So is yours, even if you don’t know it.

I am troubled. I have nightmares. Small things which would normally not bother me are making me crazy. I feel damaged as if I’d been in a car accident.

I have trouble finding anything funny because today there was another mass shooting and there are thousands of children in cages.

The world is broken; I am bruised all over. I feel helpless to fix anything. It’s a bad way to feel. It’s also weird. I’ve always been able to separate the personal from “the rest of the world.” Somehow, I can’t seem to do that anymore.

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 TINY, MONSTROUS FANGED HEAD – Marilyn Armstrong

Being Jewish is a religion, but for many of us, it isn’t only a religion. In fact, for a lot for us, Judaism isn’t religious at all, but rather a commitment to a lifestyle. It entails a wide range of ethical and moral beliefs.

One of the things it includes — if you are of my generation — is a lingering belief that all non-Jews are secretly your enemy, no matter what they say to your face. This remains true even when you are married to a Christian and got married in a Christian church. And your kids don’t even consider themselves Jewish. Somewhere inside, some little piece of you is screaming “Remember the Inquisition and the Holocaust.”

It’s an angry and frightened little voice, always alarmed and ready to grab the Torah (like I own a real Torah, right?) and run for the caves.

My kids don’t have this voice in their heads or this fear because I did not bathe them in the blood of our tortured ancestors or the piles of corpses from the Holocaust. I didn’t push this on them because I thought it was time to let it go and move on.

My mother was an atheist. She did not believe in God or gods. Her bonds to Judaism were entirely ethnic and tribal. So are mine … but ethnicity and a fondness for our cuisine isn’t something one can always pass along.

Regardless, Judaism is a religion. When you are ethnically Jewish but practice no aspect of the religion, what do you pass to your children other than recipes and a totally irrational fear of non-Jews.

Your ethical and moral commitments can stand on their own. They don’t need a religious attachment. They ought to be a part of the mental armament of any sane person. Religious or not, you ought to know the difference between right and wrong.

I didn’t pass this on to my kid or grandchild because I thought it was time to end the terror and move on to a different world.

These days, though, I wonder if maybe I was precipitous. Just because I thought the danger ended, it reared up its monstrous little fanged head again. And suddenly, safety is not so safe.

Maybe it’s about more than recipes for matzoh balls. Hatred appears to live a lot longer than I imagined possible.

TODAY IS TOLKIEN READING DAY – MARCH 25th

March 25, 2018 – TOLKIEN READING DAY

Celebrated around the world on March 25, Tolkien Reading Day is a favorite among fans of the renowned author. When we were younger and drank more, it was also Fall of Sauron Day.

This day commemorates the dropping of the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom and the non-extinction of the human race. Sadly, I think Sauron is back.

Mount Doom

I don’t know if he-who-has-gone-to-Mordor (aka Florry-duh) or whether or not he has the one Ring of Power, but the extinction of the human race seems to be exactly his goal. If he can’t kill us by getting rid of our medical care, maybe he can wipe us out by destroying the planet. If that doesn’t get the job done, there’s always the nuclear option.

So perhaps this is the right day for celebration after all.

If we can remember a couple of hobbits and an insane mad creature named Gollum climbed through the darkness and horror of Mordor to get the ring into the fire, maybe we can get through this too.

J.R.R. Tolkien (Jan. 3, 1892 – Sept. 2, 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist and university professor. He was best known as the author of the classic works: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarrillion as well as Roverandom and Farmer Giles of Ham.

HOW TO OBSERVE THE DAY? 

Read some of Tolkien’s works and use #TolkienReadingDay to post on social media. As it happens, not only did I just finish reading the entire three book series, but Garry and I also watched the extended 3-movie extended version of “Lord of the Rings.”

HISTORY

This day was officially started in 2003 by the Tolkien Society to encourage the readings of J.R.R. Tolkien. March 25th was chosen as the date to honor the fall of Sauron in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

Personally, from our point of view, they were very late to the party. We’d been joyously celebrating that day for years, from the late 1960s right through the 1970s. By the time the Tolkien Society made their pronouncement and declared it a special day, we had largely disbanded. I had gone to Israel, others moved to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Utah, and Massachusetts.

But we never forgot that day or the ceremony — which involved considerable drinking and a very short service, noticeably reminiscent of a Passover Seder. I  steal my material from wherever I can find it.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT “THE LORD OF THE RINGS”

The book is about good and evil. On the bad side, there’s Sauron, the greatest and most powerful of evils. Saruman, who would have become Sauron — given the chance. The horror of those who follow these worst of men.

The fear that engulfs the world as Sauron’s shadow began to cover it. The fearful hope that somehow, when power fails, that the determination and dedication of the least of them may yet win the day — and does win the day. It was definitely worth a party and it still is.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it online:


Eomer said, “How is a man to judge what to do in such times?”

“As he has ever judged,” said Aragorn. “Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”


In the great fabric of  life in which we are threads, good and evil are part of us. We are born knowing both. It’s in our DNA. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times and excuse the evil around us– we become part of it. No spoon is long enough to keep you far enough away from the Devil.

A bad man and his wicked followers and adherents don’t have “a good side.”

And in the darkness bind them …

Happy Fall of Sauron Day. Read Tolkien. Watch the movies. They’re available on Netflix. Maybe elsewhere, too.

THE FABRIC OF GOOD AND EVIL – ARAGORN TO EOMER

I’m rereading for the umpteenth time, “The Lord of the Rings.” Essentially, the book is entirely about good and evil. The great evil that is Sauron, the lesser evil of his cohorts, the striving evil of Saruman … and the fear of all involved in the battle hoping they can see the  right way and remain woven in the fabric of good. When evil is everywhere, goodness is not a given.

I bumped into this quote last night. I was tucked in for the night and I hoped I would remember it in the morning. I didn’t exactly recall it, but luckily for me “Lord of the Rings” is such a well-quoted book, I found it quickly.


Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’ As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.


In the great fabric of  life in which we are threads, good and evil are part of us. We are born knowing both. It is in our DNA, should we choose to recognize them. When we see evil and allow ourselves to become part of it — when we live in evil times and excuse evil — it become us too.

A bad man and his bad adherents never have “a good side” and lying about it changes nothing — except probably you. Because when you mouth evil, you absorb it and make it part of you.


Please note that when you read this book, you eventually wind up talking like this.

And in the darkness bind them …

CONFESS LEST THE DEVIL TAKE YOUR SOUL?

Last night we watched the final episode in this year’s “A Place to Call Home,” a really good Australian melodrama. This was its fifth year and who knew we’d get all tangled up in an Australian melodrama? It’s their version of Dallas, sort of … but I like the people better.

In this final episode of year five, the Very Bad Girl of previous seasons eventually kills herself to implicate a Very Bad Guy. It is a sacrifice to all the evil she did in previous episodes. In the end, at least one member of the family feels it is wrong to let the Very Bad Guy go to the gallows when this family knows, even if no one else knows, that the Bad Guy didn’t really kill her.

It got me to thinking about life and death decisions … when you are obliged to save the life of someone who has done you wrong and  every fiber of you is screaming “let the bastard die.”

I believe most of us can’t do that.

Despite the fact that today, in this time and space, our country is being run by awful people who have no conscience and no sense of right and wrong — or good and evil — it doesn’t mean that we are the same. Have once been in that position, I couldn’t do it. Should I have done it? I sometimes wonder, though really don’t know. I was sure then and I’m reasonably sure now I would have regretted it. If I didn’t regret it, it would have changed me and made me into someone else, someone I could not recognize as me.

things we do, good and bad, alter us on a fundamental level. Technically — legally — no one is responsible for saving the life of someone whose death they did not cause. If you see someone trying to commit suicide, you are not legally obligated to stop them. You aren’t breaking the law if you let them jump from that ledge or take the poison. But your soul knows. Your conscience knows. Your gut knows.

The bad things we do never go away. They are little poison pellets that grow inside us. Forever.

That’s why looking at our so-called leadership, I wonder how these people can look at themselves in a mirror and not be struck with horror at what they see. I would like to believe that at some point, this will catch up with them and the poison in their souls will eat them alive. I don’t know it’s true and I have no belief system to prove it, but I want it to be true.