On the Bright Side of Hellbent

Good News from the Resistance: Lately I’ve been thinking about my all-time favorite Saturday Night Live character, Father Guido Sarducci, the chain-smoking priest. Father Guido created a Five-Minute University, an education concept I bet Cruella DeVos could get behind. The idea was simple: In 5 minutes, students learned everything they would remember five years after graduating from a 4-year university. Economics: Supply and demand. Spanish: ¿Como está usted? Business: Buy low, sell for more. Spring Break: 20 seconds under a sun lamp, and a Dixie cup full of orange juice. Tuition: $20.

In 1976 — about when I was watching Father Guido on SNL — I was taking an Organizational Behavior class. Here’s all I remember:

Performance = Motivation x Ability

Translation: Performing well at anything is a function of how motivated you are to get the job done, and how capable you are at the task. Lazy (motivation = 0) geniuses are not productive. No matter how motivated you are to finish a work project one night, if you splash tea on your computer keyboard, the screen goes black and you can’t fix it (ability = 0), your project will remain unfinished.

The Good News? The sky’s the limit when you are 100% committed to achieving your goal, and you’ve got the smarts and ability to stick with it. Which is where we are right now.

Never has our motivation been higher to oust an Occupant of the White House. And never have we been so well organized to get the job done.

Highly Motivated Voters x Well-Organized Voters = Ousting the Grifter-in-Chief

Highly Motivated Voters x Well-Organized Voters = Flipping the Senate

Yes, Iowa was an embarrassment. Yes, there is (at this point) a void in party leadership. N.H. did little to calm our fears.  And yet. On-the-ground grassroots organizers aren’t being hamstrung by the mess at the top. They’re running full-speed ahead, fueled by three years of the Grifter-in-Chief’s antics.

So get off that sofa, stop reading all of the Chicken Little, click-maximizing news, and heed the motivating words of Shinedown’s hit song, “Get Up“:

I’m on the bright side of being hellbent
So take  it from me, you’re not the only one
Who can’t see straight

If you were ever in doubt
Don’t sell yourself short … 
Hard to move mountains when you’re paralyzed.

Get up, get up
Get a move on!

There are dozens of organizations, represented by thousands of organized groups in every Congressional District and state, that are educating and registering voters, getting out the vote, and building infrastructure that will ensure we have the ability to win the White House, flip the Senate, and keep the House. Fear-mongering sells clicks, not reports of organized citizens knocking on doors and registering new voters.

One thing is certain: You-Know-Who will continue to provide our motivation. It’s up to us to use our tenacity and smarts to get him out of our lives. ¡Sí, se puede, people! Get up!

Here’s what you can do to create more Good News from the Resistance:

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How to Apologize

Good News from the Resistance: Lately we’ve been bombarded with a rash of public apologies. So many opportunities for hanging-close-to-the-surface attitudes to be laid bare, so many ways to backtrack. Thankfully, American Greetings has created a useful, step-by-step roadmap, Apology Messages. The card company’s guide provides custom mea culpas. Did you offend a friend, lover, co-worker, or boss? No matter who you’ve insulted or pissed off, they’ve got you covered. American Greetings, listen up! Given our political milieu, I’m quite certain there’s money to be made in a new line of cards, Political Apology Messages. Here are just a few, lifted from recent events. Effective, or not? You be the judge.

How to apologize to Blacks and Latinos for stopping, frisking, and locking them up. “I was wrong. And I am sorry.”

How to apologize to the American People if you are the National Archives, and you have airbrushed photos from the 2017 Women’s March, to remove images of “offensive posters.” “We made a mistake.”

How to apologize to a Black Congresswoman whose anti-white supremacy MLK Day speech you called “a rant,” if you are a white Republican governor. “The governor agreed with Congresswoman Pressley’s remarks today and believes her speech was moving.”

How to apologize to wheelchair users for charging them $25,000 for a $16 train ticket. “We apologize for their inconvenience as we have been working through how to serve their travel needs.” 

How to apologize to your political rival if you are running for president, and one of your surrogates writes an Op-Ed accusing him of having “a big corruption problem.” “It is absolutely not my view that Joe is corrupt in any way. And I’m sorry that that op-ed appeared.”

How to apologize to a newly elected Latina city councilor after getting outed for leaving a message on her voicemail that started, “Let me tell you something you bigot, you fascist, you criminal….” “I’m a hothead sometimes. I am not a hateful person… You’re going to make a difference. Whether I agree with you or disagree with you.” 

How to not apologize to your husband if he’s the Treasury Secretary who’s just insulted Greta, whom you adore. “I stand by Greta.”

The Good News? Hateful comments and bad behaviors are being called out – and the perpetrators feel the need (for whatever reason) to apologize. Yes, there’s more Good News from the Resistance:

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Good People:
Erica Etelson

Good People for the Resistance is a monthly interview with people who give me hope. This week, meet Berkeley, CA-based writer Erica Etelson. In her new book, Beyond Contempt: How Liberals Can Communicate Across the Great Divide, Etelson takes on the gargantuan task of urging liberals to stop demonizing Trump, and start speaking to his supporters with curiosity and respect.

As a person experiencing severe “contempt fatigue,” I was excited to learn of Erica’s book. Reading it, my feelings vacillated between contempt for Trump and his supporters, guilt that I feel so much contempt,  and gratitude that Erica wrote this book. Learn why Trump-related contempt is like Doritos — it makes us feel good for a moment, but that feeling just doesn’t last. 

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Erica Etelson

Rx to Battle Trumpschmerz

Good News from the Resistance: How to sum up 2019 — in a Good News blog, nonetheless — a year marked by relentless, soul-crushing anxiety? New Yorker writer Susan Glasser approached the task by inventing a term that captures our collective state-of-mind: Trumpschmerz. Schmerz is German, referring to the “continuous pain or ache of the soul that results from excessive contemplation of it all.” No need to explain the Trump part.

Chances are we’ll be feeling Trumpschmerzy well into 2020. Which is why, I suspect, that over the last few weeks we’ve been bombarded with more “Best of” lists than ever in the history of the printed word. Of course we’ve always been able to count on year-end “10 Best Movies” or “Best Books of the Year,” but this year the lists multiplied like fruit flies on a bowl of decaying peaches. Yet, unlike fruit flies, my attitude towards the lists gradually morphed from annoyance to gratitude, when I came to realize that each was a tiny antidote to my deepening Trumpschmerz.

10 Best Rom-Coms of the Decade9 Most Overlooked Movies of 2019; 10 Most Anticipated Movies of 2020; 10 Best TV Shows of 2019; 25 Top New Yorker articles; 15 Best TV Moments; 50 Best Podcasts; Best Social Media Moments remind us there is an abundance of brilliance and creativity in our world — and provide a roadmap on those days when Trumpschmerz prevents us from getting out of bed.

The next time our Tweeter-in-Chief lets loose another ignorant zinger, don’t despair.  50 Moments That Actually Made Us Happy; 10 Saturday Night Live Sketches That Made Us Scream; and 20 Funniest Performances of 2019 are your anti-Trumpschmerz Rx.

Still longing for the 44th? Obama’s Best Of Playlist and Obama’s Favorite Books of 2019 remind us this, too, shall pass.

Need to know that all your Resistance efforts were not for naught? 10 Stories to Renew Your Faith in Politics will remind you that despite The Grifter-in-Chief’s best efforts, 2019 was filled with plenty of big, beautiful wins. Here’s one more Good News-filled, final year-end list:

10 Most-Clicked Marla’s Good News from the Resistance Stories in 2019

10. “P#ssy Grabber Plays”: Trump’s Accusers take the Stage

9.  Most ridiculous Inauguration expenses  

8. Hero-child who slept through Orange Clown’s State of the Union 

7. Obama’s letter to prisoner he freed

6. Ben & Jerry’s new flavor for these times

5. Trader Joe’s makes a move against plastic

4. Impeachment movies with happy endings

3. Randy Rainbow’s hysterical Cheeto Christ Stupid Czar song

2. What happens if Melania divorces the Clown

  1. GOP racist who dissed Michelle Obama goes to jail

Sign Up. Show Up. Never Give Up. 

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Yes, We are Bending Towards Justice

Good News from the Resistance: It’s become de rigueur for political writers, talking heads, and members of the clergy (with the exception of Evangelicals) to conjure MLK’s, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” to soothe us each time the Swamp Thing-in-Chief concocts a new way to impose hate. Increasingly, the quote is making me feel sick. Unwilling for the Swamp Thing to ruin even MLK for me, I decided to take a look at recent news through an arc-of-justice lens. Good News! As it turns out, the arc is bending towards justice in many places, and it isn’t all that long. (Except in the VA and PA suburbs, where it took quite a while, but last month it finally moved).

Exactly how long is the arc ? Within the last few weeks …

Yes, there’s even more Good News from the Resistance:

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Good People:
Filmmaker Beth Dolan

Good People for the Resistance is a twice-monthly interview with people who give me hope. This week, meet Los Angeles-based filmmaker Beth Dolan, who is in the final stages of  finishing a documentary, Stranger At Home: The Untold Story of Military Mental Health. After working on TV situation comedies, NBC movies-of-the-week, and most recently, Los Beltran, an award-winning Spanish language comedy for Sony/Telemundo, Dolan has turned her attention to elevating awareness of the mental health crisis in the U.S. military.

(Personal note: This post is dedicated to my niece, Sergeant First Class Rosalind Atkins Green, who served 24-years in the military, including a year in combat in Iraq. Ros has taught me much about what it means to be a warrior – in every sense of the word. Years after retiring, she’s still there for any of her soldiers who need her).

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Filmmaker Beth Dolan

What a Piece of Work is Man!

Good News from the Resistance: Let’s consider for a moment all we’ve learned about the nuances of the U.S. Constitution since the Grifter-in-Chief moved into the White House. We’ve had one big fat lesson in How to Lie, Cheat, Abuse and Steal Your Way Into and Throughout the Presidency. It’s clear sailing with Moscow Mitch at the helm! Now, as  Pelosi, Schiff et. al. turn up the heat, we have much to learn from the latest chapter of the GOP playbook: Grace Under Pressure: What to do When the Vise Tightens. My favorite lessons learned (so far):

  • If you are a GOP Congressman asked an uncomfortable question about our Russian-Asset-in-Chief, avoid answering it by head-butting the reporter’s camera,
  • If you are a pre-verbal MAGA-hat-wearing goon who finds himself outnumbered at an anti-Trump protest (go figure!), whip out the bear repellent spray,
  • If you are a GOP lackey nominated for a judgeship, and during confirmation hearings you are confronted with your own homophobic statements, cry, baby, cry (warning: this is the most cringeworthy video I’ve seen in a long while),
  • If you are the president’s personal lawyer and his former cybersecurity expert, and you can’t remember the password on your iPhone, head to the closest Apple Genius Bar for help, and
  •  When losing your job becomes a real possibility, get a note from your podiatrist.

There will be no mention of the “I” word in this post. Instead, there will be stories that make me smile. Because no matter how dark the news, the daily reminders of our fellow humans’ creativity and ingenuity never cease to brighten my day.

Here we go …

In Massachusetts, local politicians are fighting for the right to see their neighbors’ nightgowns and underpants hanging on clotheslines; if you cut off someone in traffic and suddenly hear the sound of a loud fart or bleating goat, it’s the Tesla driver behind you;  grandmas are the new flower girls; when a middle school principal announced he would not stock bathrooms with free sanitary products, 7th grade girls said, “chew on this“; a black lab was sworn in at Chicago’s state’s attorney’s office (she has a real job); Rudy G. keeps butt-dialing an NBC reporter, and the messages captured are the stuff of political reporters’ dreams; there’s been a resurgence of witches!

Yes, there’s even more Good News from the Resistance:

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Good People:
Enrique Chiu

Good People for the Resistance is a twice-monthly interview with people who give me hope. Today, meet Mexican artist Enrique Chiu, who is painting an enormous “Mural of Brotherhood” on the Mexican side of The Wall.

How’s he do it? With lots of volunteers, from all over the world. Interested in traveling to Tijuana with  a group of Good News readers to help him? Send us an email. Read on to learn more ... Read more Good People:
Enrique Chiu

In Praise of Incompetence!

Good News from the Resistance:  Last week we learned about a new piece of Trump’s immigration policy — he dreamed of building a border moat, and filling it with alligators and snakes. His aides got cost estimates. The Good News? After three years, our Clown-in-Chief still has the ability to make me laugh so hard I fell off the couch. The Really Good News? This was just one of a litany of reminders of the childish ineptness of the current Administration. To quote my friend Billy Shore, who leads a national anti-hunger organization, “(their) incompetence has worked in our favor.” To which I say, Praise Ye Incompetence!

Our Reality TV star-in-Chief made a lot of campaign promises, yet after close to 1,000 days in the White House, he’s failed to deliver. Thanks to his stunning incompetence, and a bit of help from his loyal and corrupt henchmen and dangerously clueless family, he’s been unable to: ban all Muslims from entering the U.S.; remove Syrian refugees; create a Commission on radical Islam; build a wall (or a moat) and make Mexico pay for it; end birthright citizenship; cancel federal aid to sanctuary cities; expand fast-track deportation; add a citizenship question to the U.S. Census; change the vaccination schedule for children; or bring back waterboarding. Obamacare still stands, Mt. Denali has not be renamed Mt. McKinely, Medicaid is not funded through block grants to states, and $20 billion has not been invested in “school choice.” Praise Ye Incompetence!

But that’s legislation; our Grifter-in-Chief ran on a “this country needs a businessman who knows how to run things!” platform. How’s he doing with that?

Our  Bankrupter-in-Chief already — with a year to go —  holds the record for both Cabinet and White House turnover; he’s lost more Cabinet heads to ethics violations and corruption than any president in U.S. history, and underlings who don’t buy what he’s selling (Comey, Scaramucci, McCabe, Shulkin, Sessions, Omarosa, Bolton) are dismissed by the boss with his signature phrase, “You’re fired!” Which is why White House morale is so low (former WH chief-of-staff John Kelly said, “working for Donald Trump was the worst fucking job I’ve ever had”), that we, the taxpayers, are footing an $18,000 bill for a White House executive coach. (Good luck with that). Let’s hope the coach continues to be unable to control the gut-bustingly funny mistakes and retributive leaksPraise Ye Incompetence!

And yet. While our Baffoon-in-Chief continues to outdo his own mendacity, unlikely fixers are stepping up.  Auto manufacturers are fighting Trump’s relaxed air pollution and emissions rules. Walmart is filling a void on gun policy. Greta has mobilized young people across the world, and she will not stop. Cities like L.A. are out in front on electric vehicle adoption. Amazon just ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans; FedEx ordered 1,000 more.

Note to our National Clown: This is how you run a thriving business. Praise Ye Competence!

Yes, there’s even more Good News from the Resistance:

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Good People:
Billy Shore

Good People for the Resistance is a twice-monthly interview with people who give me hope. Today, meet Billy Shore, co-founder and executive chairman of Share our Strength, a D.C.-based organization that is well on its way to eliminating childhood hunger in the U.S.

Through the use of creative food events and the support of the nation’s top chefs, food industry executives, and Hollywood celebrities, Shore has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to feed millions of hungry kids in their schools and homes. How’s he do it? Largely by helping food insecure families connect with federal food programs that already exist, but which for a variety of reasons, they are not accessing.

Why do the Shake Shack, Williams Sonoma, Kevin Bacon, the Big Lebowski, and P!nk support Billy and Share Our Strength?  Read On …

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Billy Shore