MY NEWS OBSESSION – 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. Somewhat obsessively.

The question is – 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 rarely, if ever interfere with my peaceful existence in the ruralish suburbs of Connecticut.

Dogs playing in my peaceful backyard in the woods

So 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 about the answer.

I do know that I came from generations of passionately involved women who actively protested the injustices of their day. My grandmother protested against the czar in Russia and my mother marched in favor of 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 chaffed at injustice and inequality. They made me incapable of turning away from the deprivation and suffering of others.

Early 1900’s protests against the czar in Russia

My mother and grandmother were both activists. They put their money where their mouths were. I’m not like that. I’m an introverted coward. I’m slightly claustrophobic about crowds. I don’t do rallies or marches or protests. But I sit at home and cheer them on and worry. Maybe staying informed is my penitence for not being out on the barricades.

Protests in favor of Unions in the 1930’s and 1940’s

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 made the news. Photos of police on horseback clubbing students at my school were everywhere. The movement that was created there shaped the world for the next few years until the war was finally ended. It also shaped the whole Baby Boomer generation.

1967-1971 protests at Columbia University in NYC

My grandmother said that if the young generation didn’t make a revolution to change things for the better, then 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 out.

My form of political involvement

So today, I read. I can’t stop, even when what I read depresses and scares me. On some level, I believe that 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 honest to God activists. At least I can encourage and support them. It wouldn’t satisfy my grandmother, but it’s the best I can do.

GUN WARS: EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE – BY TOM CURLEY

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.


THE MARCHING MORONS – BY TOM CURLEY

I wrote a post the other day when the white race riot at Charlottesville, Virginia was going on. It got an unusually large number of hits and comments. Marilyn wrote on the topic also and I noticed again, the high amount of … conversations. And the main question was, what the hell do we do with these morons? These marching morons?

Actual morons. Marching.

How do we deal with this evil, these vile excuses for human beings, these … morons?  I don’t know, but I have some ideas to throw out. They may work, they may not. Most people seem to want to convert these idiots, understand them, talk to them, swipe right when you see them on Tinder.

The thing is, this approach doesn’t seem to be working out so well. But I just read an article on how the tech world is handling the problem. Facebook and Twitter have suspended the accounts of identified white supremacists. Go-Daddy, Google and other ISPs will no longer host Nazi, KKK and white supremacist’s websites.

These morons are getting fired from their jobs when people recognize them from their news photos.  The Klan at least knew enough to hide under sheets.

This is the part where the morons who read these posts (Yeah, I have a few on Facebook when I post these blogs there) are fuming. They are furious. They’re going “What about our First Amendment rights!!!!? You fired me because I exercised my First Amendment rights! This is Obama’s fault!”

And that brings me to the point. Your first amendment rights mean you can say whatever you want, no matter how evil or vile or repugnant it is. And nobody can stop you. But here’s the other part we all seem to forget.


WE DON’T HAVE TO LISTEN!

My Precious! These idiots are morons!

You don’t have the right to have your evil, vile, repugnant vitriol published by any social media service. They are all companies that have their own standards about acceptable content. They have every right to fire you, cancel you or close your account.

You can stand on a street corner and spout your crap, but nobody is required to pay any attention to you. Soap boxes are hard to come by these days, but consider an old tree stump. Very traditional.

In ancient cultures, one of the most severe punishments that could be meted out to a towns person, or tribe member who had done something wrong was “shunning”. The entire town would not talk to, deal with or even recognize the person being punished.

Eventually the person would leave town. The punishment was severe. Think about it. Nobody in the world would acknowledge you existed.

Hey. I’m talking to you. The Moron!

Maybe that’s what we need to do. Shun them in person and online. Google, Facebook, etc. already started it. The Virginia Governor said it in clear language. “You are not welcome here.”

When these morons stage a march. Go. Line the streets where they are marching. Turn your backs and ignore them. If they talk to you, tell them to “talk to the hand,” and walk away.

If they are going to some site to protect some stupid statue, let them. Don’t show up. No news coverage.Nothing.

Recently hundreds of these morons showed up to “protect Confederate memorials in Gettysburg from being defiled by the left.” The “left” never showed up. There are no Confederate memorials at Gettysburg. All that happened was one of the more moronic of the moron Trump supporters shot himself in the foot. 

Yes, he shot himself in the foot. That was a successful event.

That’s the template for these types of events. But if you need to show up at these events, and you can’t ignore them, mock them. Yelling doesn’t work. Fighting only helps their cause. Trying to reason with them is like teaching a pig to fly. You frustrate yourself and you annoy the pig.

I’m working on mocking white supremacist jokes, but all I’ve got so far is ripping off Jeff Foxworthy:


“If you go to family reunions to meet women, you just might be a white supremacist.

“If you walk your eight-year-old child to school every day because you are in the same grade, you just might be a white supremacist.”

“If you think Tiki Torches and polo shirts inspires fear in the liberal élite, you just may be a white supremacist.”


OK, the last one was mine, but you see where I’m going.

Oh, and if I’ve offended any white supremacists by calling you morons throughout this  post. I apologize. When I went to charm school, they taught me to say moron instead of asshole.

P.S. Anyone who catches the short story title reference, gets double points and years supply of Rice-A-Roni, the San Francisco treat.

 

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.

SMACK IN THE GOB

I’ve heard this from a lot of people in a lot of places, so maybe there’s something to it.

Trump is a horrible president. He not only won the office, but has been a sore winner from day one. Of all the people elected to the presidency, he has to be the most unpleasant of any man to step into the Oval Office. Instead of taking this “honeymoon period” as an opportunity to try to make a few friends, maybe win over a couple of disaffected Democrats, he broke out of the gate hating everyone. From day one, he has been spiteful, nasty, bigoted, and thoroughly ill-tempered. Some people think he’s mentally ill, but regardless, he is extremely disagreeable. Any of us who hoped he might not turn out to be as bad as we thought … well, we sure were wrong about that!

He has been as bad as we feared — and worse. Every day in every way, he has been our political nightmare come to life.

Which may be the upside of his presidency.  The awfulness of these months or years may be  what finally blows the door off our proverbial electoral wall, getting people actively involved in politics and trying to make the world a genuinely better place.

Suddenly, after many a long year, people are out in the world. Demonstrating. Getting involved. Active. For the first time in 50 years, I’m seeing younger people waking up from their stupor and paying attention.

Is Trump horrible? You betcha. But maybe he was the smack in the gob we needed to get our act together.

You think?

WHEN GOD CLOSES A DOOR, HE OPENS A WINDOW YOU CAN FALL OUT OF – TOM CURLEY

I meant to start this yesterday. Yesterday was January 20th 2017. I tried not to watch live TV so I ended up spending the whole day watching episodes of Star Trek.

theatlantic.com
theatlantic.com

BBC America runs them all day long. I soon realized I was watching them because the Star Trek Universe is the way things are supposed to be. The Earth has no poverty. Everybody has jobs. The planet is doing just fine.

nmr.org
nmr.org

The only problems in the 24th century are Romulans and grouchy Klingons.

afortmadeofbooks.blogspot.com
afortmadeofbooks.blogspot.com

But eventually I had to come back to reality. All day today, January 21st 2017, I have been watching live TV. All day. I just finished watching the new President give a speech from CIA headquarters in Washington DC.

It was sort of a stream of consciousness rant. He mostly talked about himself. He pointed out for some reason that he has been on the cover of Time Magazine more than anyone else in history. Yes, he said “In History.” Of course, that’s a lie. The person who was on Time Magazine’s cover most often in history was … Richard Nixon! Why? For being President. But he was on the cover a lot more because of Watergate and the fact that he was the only U.S. President ever to resign in disgrace. Trump may be bad for the country but he’s great for irony.

He then complained about the crowd estimates for his Inauguration. The “dishonest media” were reporting that 250,000 people showed up. He said that he saw maybe a million. Two “sort-of” sentences later he said that he saw at least one and a half million people! Why was he so obsessed with this topic?

trump-protest-rgoldberg-2

Well, as he was giving this speech an actual half million people were in Washington DC protesting against him! There were marches on every continent, including Antarctica. Seventy countries, 673 towns across the world held HUGE protests; 370 cities in the United States alone. At least one protest in EVERY STATE! And here’s the thing that really surprised me.

trump-protest-rgoldberg-4
Photo: R. Goldberg

When he finished, I expected the mainstream media pundits to start dissecting every crazy thing he said and waste hours pointing out why 90% of what he said made no sense. But no, the media just interrupted the coverage of all the protests, aired the speech and as soon as it was over they went right back to the coverage of the protests. They ignored him.

That is when it hit me. The media are covering the real story. It’s bigger than you think.

To put this in perspective, I’ve been in the news biz for a long time. I rarely went out in the field, but on my first time out I covered the anti-Vietnam war protests in May 1970 in Washington DC for my college radio station, WVHC.

Photo: ABC News
Photo: ABC News

It was a big deal. More than 100,000 people showed up. I was up on the stage at the base of the Capitol looking out over a sea of people, shoulder-to-shoulder as far as the eye could see. Then, Country Joe and the Fish sang “The Fish Cheer”. But instead of Fish it was F#@K. More than 100,000 people where chanting: “What’s that spell? F@#K!  “What’s that spell? F@#K!

Aah, the good times. That’s it. Those were good times. Even though we were there to protest a horrible war, everybody was upbeat. It was positive. It was a real movement. It took years of war in Vietnam, a war which had taken thousands of lives to get people to the point where they were willing to get up, get out, and march.

Today I watched more than 500,000 people march in Washington. I watched Madonna tell the new President “F@#K You. The news outlets are reporting that these are the biggest and most widespread protests in history. Biggest. Protests. Ever. It’s not hyperbole. It’s true and real and important because …


IT’S ONLY HIS FIRST DAY IN OFFICE!!!!!

The other interesting thing is how diverse the crowds are. All ethnicities. Women, men, young, old. The placards are great. My favorites:

“There is so much wrong, it cannot fit on this sign.”
“We Shall Over Comb”
Photo: R. Goldberg
Photo: R. Goldberg

I can see the baby boomers realizing that they have to get out of their recliners, go out into the streets — and do it again. The thing that keeps coming out is how positive all these marches are. This new “Women’s Movement” has been much bigger than anybody anticipated. I’m not surprised. To paraphrase Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto when he was told of the successful attack on Pearl Harbor, “I feel all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill her with a terrible resolve.”

Photo: R. Goldberg
Photo: R. Goldberg

Many are complaining that a lot of these people:

“Didn’t vote for Hillary”

“Didn’t vote at all”

“Where the hell were all these people before the election?”

You know what? It doesn’t matter. They’re here now. Will it continue? I don’t know, but I don’t think it’s a flash in the pan, either. It’s more like a shot heard round the world — with the whole world shooting.

On January 20th 2017, a door closed.

On January 21st 2017, a window opened. Through that window appeared rays of hope. Right now, that is pretty much all we’ve got. I hope we don’t fall out.

Oh yeah, and don’t take the brown ant-acid.


From Marilyn: A  big thank you to my cousin, Dr. Roberta Goldberg, who actually got up and went out and did her part in keeping American great and keeping America AMERICA.. We ARE great. She took pictures — another thank you!

I AIN’T MARCHIN’ ANYMORE

Phil Ochs said it. I agree. I served my time, marched my miles. Signed an infinite number of petitions. Fought on the right side, believed in the good guys.

Now … I’m retired.

You, younger people. Yes, you. The ones on the sofa swigging beer. It’s your turn.

Go protest. Carry signs. Fix the world, because I ain’t marchin’ anymore.

Peace and love my friends. Carry the torch for me!

Daily Prompt: Breaking the Ice