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!

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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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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

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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 …

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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!

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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!

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Let’s Move the Statue of Liberty to Portland?

Good News from the Resistance: Maine has the oldest and second whitest (Go Vermont!) population in America. So when 400+ asylum-seekers landed in the state this past summer, mostly from the Congo and Angola, many — including Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling — recognized an opportunity. “If we have discovered the magic wand that will bring young families to Portland to help us build the next generation, why would we want to stop that, especially when it costs us so little money?” the mayor said.

Why Maine? No one knows exactly. Some recent arrivals said they’d heard through the grapevine that Portland was a safe, aging city that needed more workers. Others had heard there was a strong safety net.

After making their way by air to Brazil, then by foot and bus through Mexico to the Texas border, what the migrants found in Portland was a welcoming community. When the city set up hundreds of cots in the Portland Expo and school gyms, 1,200 residents volunteered to help. In Cape Elizabeth, there was a Welcome! 4th of July picnic. The Portland City Council voted to allocate $900,000+ of private donations for the new arrivals’ housing and basic needs. Non-profits like the New Mainers Resource Center helped find the migrants more permanent housing in Portland and nearby townsProsperity Maine – whose executive director Claude Rwaganje was born in the Congo — provides financial education, “the first step to achieving your American dream.”

Last week, Luc Mpangaje flew from his home in Texas to Portland, to thank members of the First Parish Church for helping him in 2010 when he’d been an asylum seeker fleeing Burundi, where he’d been jailed and beaten by police for his political views. He’d arrived in Portland with $80, speaking no English, without his family. Now a U.S. citizen living in Dallas, and reunited with his wife and 10-year old son Malcolm and 13-year old daughter Yasmine, Mpangaje works as an airport shuttle driver. He’s saving to move his family back to Portland.

“If you do something good for me, you’ll always stay in my heart,” Mpangaje said. “That’s why I keep coming back here – because I feel like I owe something.”

Mainers, listen up! Ditch Susan Collins, and you’ll soon be topping another list: Best State in the U.S. 

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It’s Obama’s Fault!

Good News from the Resistance: Have you been keeping track of all the culprits the Occupant of the White House (OWH) has blamed for the recent mass shootings? Here’s a quick recap: the mentally ill (specifically, a shortage of institutions to house them), racist Hollywoodfake newsvideo games, the internet and social media.

And what about the looming recession? That’s a conspiracy between people who want to see the OWH lose in 2020, selfish Democrats, the media, and his own “clueless” Fed Chair– who said he won’t leave if the OWH fires him. Further demonstrating the boundless fantasy-based derangement of the party of Bullets & Blame, Ohio GOP state rep Candace Keller blamed homosexual marriage, drag queen advocates, legalized marijuana, parents who defend misbehaving students in school, and Obama for the Dayton mass shooting. And while we’re on the subject of Obama, guess whose fault it is that the White House air conditioning system isn’t up to par? Bingo! You got it!

Good News Trivia Quiz: Who remembers the 1970’s jazzy disco song, Pick Up the Pieces? It’s mostly instrumental, except for, “Pick up the pieces!,” being shouted a couple of times throughout it. Why is it that a song I never really liked, and certainly haven’t thought about in 40+ years, is now playing an infinite loop in my head? Because it so aptly explains what so many are doing in response to the non-stop barrage of OWH-created tragedies.

After the Mississippi ICE raid, a pizza shop, pastors, and several hundred outspoken Latinx marchers picked up the pieces. In Chicago, neighborhood volunteers are picking up the pieces by accompanying undocumented immigrants wherever they go. NFL players picked up the pieces in L.A., by posting $50,000 bail for a student who had been jailed by ICE for three months. Lady Gaga picked up the pieces in Dayton, Gilroy and El Paso; The King of Sitcoms, Chuck Lorre, picked up the pieces with yellow IMAG hats; California professors picked up the pieces with see-saws; Brunswick, Maine picked up the pieces by hiring a cultural broker.

Democrats, listen up! We’ve got a campaign slogan and theme song for our presidential nominee: Imagine this playing as thousands of balloons are released from the ceiling at the Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. The Good News? The band that sold over 1 million copies of Pick Up the Pieces is still touring. The Bad News? Average White Band is in serious need of a name change. Guys, you’ve got 11 months to do it. 

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We’re Still Showing Up

Good News from the Resistance: Take this quiz: Name 5 Trump-related dramas (typically Twitter-induced) that got extensive press coverage the first half of July. Hard to do, right? There are just too many stories, changing too quickly. Yet, there’s one sticky issue that won’t go away: immigration. Our Racist-in-Chief is relentless in his efforts to rid the U.S. of all non-white immigrants. The white ones? He’s okay with those. Our forward-thinking Sexual Predator-in-Chief doesn’t want to limit his dating pool once Melania leaves him.

Here’s the thing: Contrary to predictions made after the 2017 Women’s March, we have not become inured to “the new normal” of racism and hate. Spiteful Executive Orders and callow Tweets still rouse us to action. In a weird way, the object of our resistance is protecting us from resistance fatigue, by handing us such a diverse menu of options. Does the mental health crisis in immigrant detention centers get you to call your member of Congress? If not, then perhaps the spike in children being separated from their parents at the border will. Do the threatened ICE raids motivate you to have that conversation with your neighbor about why she should register to vote? If not, then maybe the vitriol he’s lobbed at The Squad will. Our resistance has not fizzled. Rather, it’s become more creative, targeted, and diverse. It’s now big enough and strong enough so that when some of us need to take a break to recharge, others are ready to jump in and carry the torch.

Yes, we’re still showing up. At the beginning of July, tens of thousands of us rallied across the U.S. to #ClosetheCamps, and two weeks later we showed up again, at 600+ Lights for Liberty events protesting ICE detention centers. Japanese-Americans who were interned during WWII and #JewsAgainstICE are showing up in force with the message, “never again.” Latter-day Saints are protesting poor treatment of immigrants, whom they consider like-minded “pioneers”; a 90-year old nun got arrested in D.C., along with 70 of her Catholic colleagues. And during the World Cup, a group of French soccer fans joined the resistance by chanting “F*ck Trump” during a live Fox TV broadcast.

In Iowa, 50 moms took over Senator Joni Ernst’s office to protest the treatment of immigrant kids. In Phoenix, an abandoned school was turned into a Welcome Center for asylum-seeking families.. In Nashville, when ICE showed up for a father and his 12-year old son, their neighbors formed a human chain to protect them. Kindness keeps breaking through.

What do we have to show for our work? A recent poll shows Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as the country’s most disliked Senator, followed closely by Susan Collins (R-ME). In 2020, McConnell will have a strong opponent, and Collins just announced she may be retiring. States are passing laws ensuring voting rights and immigrant rights. ICE’s highly publicized sweep that was intended to roundup 2,100 undocumented immigrants netted 35 people. Lawmakers representing the RNC’s host city passed a resolution condemning Trump’s “racist and xenophobic” language, adding that it will not be tolerated in the city. And critics of the Administration’s immigration “policies” are winning the on-line messaging fight.

At the same time, large swaths of Trump’s immigration agenda are being held up in courts. This week, a judge issued a preliminary injunction against new restrictions that would have stopped most asylum-seekers coming into the U.S. via Mexico. His attempt to deny bail to asylum-seekers who have been jailed was quashed. And don’t forget –  the Supreme Court ruled not to allow a  citizenship question on the 2020 Census. Trump was ready to fight that, too, but ultimately backed down. Public pressure is likely to have had something to do with his decision. That’s you, that’s me, that’s us.

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Won’t You Be a Helper?

Good News from the Resistance: It’s been a horrible few days for Good News Seekers. Which means it’s time, once again, to turn to one of our favorite philosophers for insight: Mr. Rogers, who told us, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You always find people who are helping.'” Now’s the time for each of us to step up to be a Helper. Our voices matter.

This morning we reached out to Congressional aides to ask what we can do. Our immediate course of action is simple: 1) Send a message of support or call everyone on The Squad to say thank-you, we’ve got your back, 2) Call or send a message of support to the 13 GOP lawmakers who condemned the Racist-in-Chief’s remarks, and 3) Call or send a message of outrage to the 13 GOP lawmakers who supported the Racist’s remarks.

Don’t have time to send 30 notes or make 30 calls? Then check the lists to see if there is a lawmaker from your district, and contact them. If not, figure out what you feel most strongly about — supporting The Squad, thanking the 13 GOP Lawmakers with a Spine, or condemning the 13 Super Duper Extra Special Evil Racists. Just do something.

We’ve made it easy. Click on the link of the person you want to contact, and all the info you need will be there.

To send a message of support to each member of The Squad: (Note: Preferred method is to send a postcard or letter unless you live in the Congresswoman’s district; staff answering phones and email are being overwhelmed).

Ayanna PressleyAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Ilhan Omar; Rashida Tlaib

To send a message of support to GOP lawmakers who condemned Trump’s remarks:

Kelly Armstrong (R-ND); Troy Balderson (R-OH); Tom Cole (R-OK); Joni Ernst (R-IA); Mike Gallagher (R-WI); Bill Huizenga (R-MI); Will Hurd (R-TX); David Joyce (R-OH); Lisa Murkowski (R-AK); Pete Olson (R-TX); Rob Portman (R-OH); Marco Rubio (R-FL); Michael Turner (R-OH)

To send a message of outrage to GOP lawmakers who supported Trump’s remarks:

Ralph Abraham (R-LA); Jim Banks (R-IN); Bradley Byrne (R-AL); Dan Crenshaw (R-TX); Steve Daines (R-MT); Sean P. Duffy (R-WI); Lance Gooden (R-TX); . Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC); Andy Harris (R-MD); James M. Inhofe (R-OK); Jim Jordan (R-OH); Ralph Norman (R-SC); Scott Perry (R-PA)

Extra Credit: Forward this post to family and friends, especially those who live in districts represented by GOP lawmakers listed above. Politicians care first and foremost about getting re-elected. They need to hear from their constituents.

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