I have to go to the hospital today for a brain scan. Presumably they will discover I have some. Brains, that is. Meanwhile, I will again be missing from today’s action. Life keeps getting in the way of blogging. 

I know a bunch of people older than me who have developed dementia. As the problem has gotten worse, they have drifted from liberal, middle-of-the-road tolerance to far right I-hate-everyone dementia. I want to know why people move to the far right when they are overcome by dementia.

What provokes a response from them which would have been unthinkable to these same people in earlier years? Why don’t they adopt socialism? Or radical progressive liberalism? Communism? Scientology?

Not demented. Loves everyone except the neighbors. Photo: Garry Armstrong

It was suggested to me by Martha that this is because old people remember Communist threats … but these are people who can’t remember the location of their refrigerator or whether those people are their children or complete strangers. Why would they remember Communism as opposed to some other miscellaneous type of government? Is there some law that says the demented must become right-wingers? Some of them become downright fascists. They may have been liberal before, but suddenly, they hate all the folks they never hated in the past.

Does dementia destroy the ability of the brain to love or tolerate others? Does this mean that an awful lot of people in this country are … demented?

That would certainly explain a lot, don’t you think?


I’ve been watching the Republicans trying to convince themselves and the world, yet again, that 2 + 2 = 5. An overtly political Republican Congressional memo was released recently that clearly states “A”. However, it is being touted as proof that “A” is false. Most of the country has not been taken in, but a majority of Republicans have been.

Republican Congressional Memo released to the public

This is just the most recent example of a Republican misinformation campaign. This one is designed to prove that the entire intelligence community, all 17 agencies in the government, are all biased, corrupt and working together to overthrow the Trump government. This is a ludicrous, far-fetched and dangerous idea.

But so was the popular right-wing conspiracy theory about the Newtown School massacre. The conpiracists claimed that the massacre never really happened. Actors were hired to make it look real. It was faked to make Second Amendment gun advocates look bad. Hard to believe that people actually bought into this craziness. But many Republicans did.

Whatever happened to the rubric, ‘When you hear hooves, assume horses, not zebras’? What kind of person is willing, if not eager, to believe the convoluted conspiracy theory rather than the simple reality? Do you have to be somewhat paranoid yourself to believe this shit? Can you just be a low information person who never goes anywhere near critical thought?

I think you have to believe that people are horribly nefarious and at least a little bit out to get you. But you also have to so desperately want to cling to your beliefs that you will buy into anything that allows you to keep them, untarnished.

I strongly believe what I believe. But I critically evaluate the information I’m given both for and against my positions. I would get no comfort from a flimsy, outlandish theory that could not be verified, just because it bolstered my world view. I would analyze it and reject it as false or unsubstantiated. And move on.

So we’re back to what makes me reject the ridiculous theory and others embrace it. Maybe it’s that my most fervent belief is in the existence of absolute facts. I believe that there is a way to determine, definitively, what is real and what isn’t. Maybe others have a looser definition of ‘truth’ than I do. Maybe others don’t care if something is true once they choose to believe it.

Have you ever watched “America’s Got Talent”, or any other talent show? There are people out there who genuinely think they are great singers or dancers, or whatever. And they are, in fact, horrible. So horrible that they get booed by a huge audience and eviscerated by a panel of judges. Yet most of these performers leave the stage believing that everyone is wrong about them. That nobody sees or ‘gets’ their true talent.

That may be the answer to my question. People have a great capacity for self-deception. Particularly when there is a deep seeded need to perpetuate that deception.

People don’t want to be bothered informing themselves and finding actual facts to back up their beliefs. They just want to ‘feel’ that they know what they’re talking about, that they understand the world around them. Most important, people want to ‘believe’ that they are 100% right about their beliefs.

Everyone wants to think they are smart and have a good sense of humor. So they just ‘believe’ it. And they live happily ever after.


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.


A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away … well, actually, it was a week or so ago and it was in Florida (which many could argue, is another world), something really different and really not normal happened. There was yet another mass shooting. This time at a high school in Broward County. 17 dead, more wounded. But that wasn’t the not normal thing. That happens all the time. That’s normal.

No, the really different thing that happened was the students who DIDN’T GET KILLED rose up and formed a rebellion. A rebellion against the Empire.  Also known as the NRA.

And as rebel fighters, these kids are good. Really good. In just a week or so they’ve knocked down or destroyed all of the Empire’s usual tricks.

EMPIRE: Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
REBELLION: Fuck your thoughts and prayers! We just got shot at! Get rid of machine guns!
EMPIRE: But now is not the time to talk about gun control.
REBELLION: Fuck you. Now is exactly the time and we’re talking about it!
EMPIRE: This is a mental health issue.
REBELLION:  No shit Sherlock! We’ve been telling you this guy is fucked up for a while now. He was voted “most likely to shoot up the school”! But that didn’t stop him from legally buying a military assault rifle and KILLING US with it!

EMPIRE: We need armed guards in schools. We need to arm teachers. The only way to beat a bad guy with a gun, is a good guy with a gun.
REBELLION: We had an armed guard! He left the building! And arming teachers? Are you kidding? A bad guy  shoots at everybody. It’s a “target rich environment”.  That’s why he’s there. The teacher can only shoot at one target and one target only.  And  all this  while we’re all running around like crazy, trying NOT TO BE KILLED !  You’d have to be Luke Skywalker  to make that shot! What the hell is wrong with you??

And the rebellion is spreading. All around the country. You  think the Russians are the best at using social media to effect politics?   You have no idea what a nation of pissed off teenagers can do.

And it’s only just begun. Business sponsors are already leaving the NRA. They’re on the defensive. Will the Rebellion win? Will the Empire Strike Back? Of course they will. But don’t count out this rebellion.

Strong the force is with these young ones.


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!

Robert Reich: The Meaning of America – http://robertreich.org/


Robert Reich: The Meaning of America
We are forgetting the ideals on which our nation was built.
By Robert Reich / Robert Reich’s Blog February 18, 2018, 2:33 PM GMT

When Trump and his followers refer to “America,” what do they mean?

Some see a country of white English-speaking Christians.

Others want a land inhabited by self-seeking individuals free to accumulate as much money and power as possible, who pay taxes only to protect their assets from criminals and foreign aggressors.

Photo Credit: Celso FLORES / Flickr CC

Others think mainly about flags, national anthems, pledges of allegiance, military parades, and secure borders.

Trump encourages a combination of all three – tribalism, libertarianism, and loyalty.

But the core of our national identity has not been any of this. It has been found in the ideals we share – political equality, equal opportunity, freedom of speech and of the press, a dedication to open inquiry and truth, and to democracy and the rule of law.

We are not a race. We are not a creed. We are a conviction – that all people are created equal, that people should be judged by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin, and that government should be of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Political scientist Carl Friedrich, comparing Americans to Gallic people, noted that “to be an American is an ideal, while to be a Frenchman is a fact.”

That idealism led Lincoln to proclaim that America might yet be the “last best hope” for humankind. It prompted Emma Lazarus, some two decades later, to welcome to American the world’s “tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

It inspired the poems of Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes, and the songs of Woody Guthrie. All turned their love for America into demands that we live up to our ideals. “This land is your land, this land is my land,” sang Guthrie. “Let America be America again,” pleaded Hughes: “The land that never has been yet – /And yet must be – the land where every man is free. / The land that’s mind – the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME –.”

That idealism sought to preserve and protect our democracy – not inundate it with big money, or allow one party or candidate to suppress votes from rivals, or permit a foreign power to intrude on our elections.

It spawned a patriotism that once required all of us take on a fair share of the burdens of keeping America going – paying taxes in full rather than seeking loopholes or squirreling money away in foreign tax shelters, serving in the armed forces or volunteering in our communities rather than relying on others to do the work.

Robert Reich is the nation’s 22nd Secretary of Labor and a professor at the University of California at Berkeley.

Source for complete post: http://robertreich.org/


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?