The Many Faces of Garbage….

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The Laughing Stock of the World

(Michael Moore recounts how a once-proud advancing nation is moving downward too quickly. Why do we not care about our poor and working class citizens? Our priorities are apparently helping the wealthy. Many countries make a point of helping their citizens. Isn’t that the purpose of government? It appears we don’t care enough.–TBPR Editor,  P.S. Don’t miss the video. Very enlightening!)

Why the world pities us and fears us

By Michael Moore/ MichaelMoore.com/ November 1, 2021

As the week drew to a close and President Biden desperately tried to get Congress to vote on his infrastructure bills (build roads, help people) before he headed to two major summits in Europe, pundits and corporatist Dems railed against the progressive lawmakers for holding things up. Of course the only people holding things up were two pro-wealthy Democratic senators — and every single Republican. The progressives? They were holding out on behalf of the vast majority of Americans whose lives would be turned around and vastly improved should Biden’s big bill pass. 

Biden was beside himself to get something enacted before going to the G-20 summit and the COP-26 climate meeting. So he started tossing major pieces of his beloved bill overboard. He threw out paid family leave, got rid of free community college, took dental and eyeglasses away from the elderly and made a thousand other little cuts. He also decided the wealthy would not have to pay their true fair share of the taxes. 

So Biden left for Europe without anything becoming law. In the weeks leading up to his trip, he (I mean the Republicans and the two lame Dems) also failed to raise the minimum wage and they failed to protect voting rights. The pundits howled. “Biden goes to Europe as a weakened president!” “Biden humiliated in front of the world!” “The US cannot govern itself and Biden enters these summits with America as the laughing stock amongst world leaders.”

Seriously?

Are the press and politicians that clueless as to why the world is laughing at us? I hate to tell you, it ain’t because of the roads and child tax credits. We are the laughing stock because we refuse to take care of our own people — and NO ONE around the world can understand why we force our old people to suffer and why we put our own children last. Not other country’s children. OURS!  

Biden and Treasury Secretary Yellen at the G20 Summit in Rome (Photo via EPA)

I hate to reveal this secret, but here it goes:

Every one of the E.U. countries has:

•Universal free health care.
•Free or nearly-free college. 
•Paid Family Leave for at least four months.
•Complete care of all elderly. 
•Robust funding of schools. 
•All sorts of help for the jobless and the poor. 
•Workers enjoy mandatory paid vacation with a minimum of four weeks off (some countries are almost double that).
•Women having full equal rights. Abortion and birth control is free and easily available in all but two E.U. countries (Malta and Poland). Most of their constitutions have what we don’t have — an equal rights clause for all women. 

The list goes on. And not just social safety net policies. Portugal has stopped mass incarceration and made possession of drugs legal — and has seen drug use go down because they treat drug addiction as a medical problem, not a crime.

Countries like Slovenia and Germany not only have free college, they will let any foreign student come there and attend college for free. Yes, you read that right. They will even let American students come to their countries and get a free four-year degree! What? You say you can’t speak Slovenian? No problem! They have a whole curriculum taught in English

Spain, France, Italy and others all have high speed affordable bullet trains.Cheap mass transit is everywhere. 

In Austria you can vote at 16. Teenagers have held seats in the Austrian parliament!

In Norway, when you commit a crime you spend a few years going to school, learning a trade, making amends to those whom you’ve hurt — and no sentence can be longer than 21 years (including for the mass murderer of 77 people, mostly teenagers). 

Yes, other countries have their own problems. But, while American school boards are enacting rules prohibiting teaching students about the history of American slavery, racism and genocide, these other countries REQUIRE its young people to be taught about their own evil past (and present) in the hopes that the next generation won’t make their parents’ mistakes. So German students are thoroughly enmeshed in learning about the Holocaust. French students are taught about their brutal colonial past in Algeria and Vietnam. Irish students are well aware of the abuse caused by the Catholic Church. Spanish students get courses on the evils of fascism and Spain’s fascist past. Antifa, you say? Right down the hall in Room 104, 3rd Hour social studies with Señora Valdez! 

Yes, we are a laughing stock. Biden’s “humiliation” this week in Europe is that the nation he leads is a brute to its own people. It’s not that the other leaders are laughing at him. They feel sorry for him. They pity us. “Those poor Americans!” Most people around the world actually like us. They admire our creativity and inventiveness. Which makes their incredulity even worse — they simply can’t figure out why in a democracy we allow this misery to continue! Why we haven’t thrown the bastards out. Why 50+1 votes out of 100 senators isn’t called a majority. American math says 60 out of 100 is the majority. We look like idiots. The Europeans, the Japanese, the Australians, the Argentinians, the South Africans — they don’t hate us. They pity us and they cannot friggin’ figure us out.

And they fear us. Not because of our weapons and desire to invade other countries (although they should remain very, very afraid of that). No. They’re afraid because, if we treat our own people this way, if we require an enforced ignorance and teach lies to our students, then what they truly fear is what will happen to this planet if the wealthiest nation, the one blessed with the most resources on Earth, shits so easily and happily on itself. It is MIND-BOGGLING to the rest of the world that we are so hell-bent on destroying our Democracy and ourselves.

I do feel sorry for Joe Biden sitting on that world stage this week. But not because he couldn’t get an infrastructure bill passed. It’s because he has to sit there over Scottish tea and explain why our old people are now finally going to get to have free hearing aids! — but not glasses, and not a visit to the dentist. “You see,” Uncle Joe will explain, hanging his head, “in America, if you are old, you do have a right to hear — but not to see. And not to chew. God Bless America.”

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Exposed: The Insidious Cancer at the Core of Democracy that Could Take Down Biden

Billionaires & their companies now own politicians — and the Supreme Court set it all up with their poisonous Citizens United decision

By Thom Hartmann/ Hartmannreport.com/ October 29, 2021

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If President Biden’s Build Back Better plan goes down in flames, you can blame the US Supreme Court. Their Citizens United decision, in fact, is destroying both American politics and the planet.

Case in point: Oil industry executives testified before Congress this week, suffering a barrage of questions, including particularly intense ones from Reps. Ro Khanna, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Katie Porter.

The CEOs exhibited the same sort of arrogant insolence Mark Zuckerberg displayedin July of last year when he was hauled before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law.  It was, basically, a smug, “Screw you, Congressperson.”

Why were the representatives of Big Oil and Big Tech unafraid of the power of Congress? 

Because, at the end of the day, they own that power.  The Supreme Court gave it to them with their poisonous Citizens United decision.

It turns out that Big Oil has spent, just over the past decade, over $450 million lobbying the federal government.  We used to call this political corruption or even bribery until the Court ruled in Citizens United that money in politics isn’t money: it’s “free speech.” 

And, the Court added, corporations aren’t corporations: they’re persons, complete with a First Amendment right to free speech.

Representative Khanna repeatedly asked the CEOs of Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, and BP America if they’d stop funding advertising and PR efforts that are filled with outright lies about climate change.  Pretty much every time he asked, he was met with a “screw you” silence

These CEOs effectively own multiple members of Congress, as the world could see when it was the turn of the meek and obeisant Republican members to ask questions that mostly amounted to, “May I fluff the pillow you’re sitting on, sir?”

And it’s not just Big Oil.  Every industry in America laughs at Congress. 

Our elected representatives are there, in the minds of corporate America, to hand out subsidies and tax breaks, but if they take the smallest step toward protecting the American people from giant corporations or predatory billionaires they’re simply brushed aside like troublesome lint.

The majority of Americans don’t want Medicare privatized: but we’re more than 40% of the way there through Bush’s “Medicare Advantage” scam.

The majority of Americans don’t want our Post Office gutted: Congress sucked tens of billions out of its budget in 2006 after the PO said they were going to electrify their fleet of cars (the largest in America) and DeJoy is using that as an excuse to cut service and raise prices.

The majority of Americans would like debt-free college like every other developed country in the world: the $1.5 trillion student loan industry just makes a few phone calls and the effort dies.

The majority of Americans want a national healthcare system that actually works at little cost to citizens: the health insurance industry hands Joe Lieberman over a million dollars and he kills the public option so we’re left with an entirely corporatized Obamacare with $5000 annual deductibles.

The majority of Americans want something done about high drug prices: Big Pharma calls up Kurt Schrader, Scott Peters, Kathleen Rice, Kyrsten Sinema and a few other wholly owned members of Congress and that’s the end of that.   

The majority of Americans want their banks to stop hitting them with absurd feesfor the smallest errors and would like some occasional customer service: Big Banking pulls a few strings and Senators are dancing like marionettes.

The majority of Americans want something done about climate change before our planet becomes uninhabitable: Big Coal and Gas light a fire under Joe Manchin and the entire GOP and that’s the end of that.

The majority of Americans would like open and transparent elections and for their democracy to work like in other countries, without barriers to voting or bought-off politicians: neofascist rightwing billionaires will have the final say on that and it’s not looking good.  

The majority of Americans would like net neutrality and for corporations to stop spying on them: Big Tech just leans on the members of Congress they own and that effort comes to an abrupt halt.

The majority of Americans would like well-funded public schools that teach things like civics and critical thinking skills: the multi-billion-dollar Charter School industry gets last word.

The majority of Americans would like to be free of gun violence in our homes and streets: the gun industry gets final say here.

The majority of Americans would like good union jobs: the nation’s giant employers have paid off politicians to gut union protections.

The majority of Americans would like a food supply free of toxic chemicals that harm children and cause cancer: giant fast- and processed-food companies laugh at us while their buddies in the chemical industry hold their beer.

Hell, the President of the United States would like all these things and a few more.  He will almost certainly not get them because the Supreme Court gave corporations and rightwing billionaires final say over every single piece of legislation that goes through Congress.

We’re ripped off left and right, from airline tickets to cell phone service to cable TV and the internet: citizens of Europe, South Korea and Japan pay, on average, about half of what we do because they all enforce competition and don’t allow monopolies. 

Here, every industry is now dominated by 3-5 major corporations that function as a monopoly or oligopoly, which is why the average American family pays around $5000 a year more for everything as I documented in The Hidden History of Monopolies: How Big Business Destroyed the American Dream

The US Supreme Court brought us all of this with the vile Citizens United decision and its progenitors, Boston v Bellotti, Buckley v Valeo, and Santa Clara County.

Thus, we now face a real crisis. 

The Court gave control of Congress over to billionaires and their companies, and only Congress can overrule the Court (Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution).  But how does Congress do that when none of the corporations or billionaires who now own Congress want it to happen?

There is only one force that can make this happen now: citizen outrage. 

People are genuinely disgusted by this corruption, and they’re voting with it in mind.

Even Donald Trump was elected on a promise to “drain the swamp” of big money corruption in DC.  He claimed that he knew how the game was played because he played it himself, buying off politicians whenever necessary. 

During the August 2015 GOP primary debate, he called out all the other Republicans on the stage, saying: “I gave [money] to many people, before this, before two months ago, I was a businessman. I give to everybody. When they call, I give. And do you know what? When I need something from them two years later, three years later, I call them, they are there for me.”

In September he ran that line again at the next primary debate, saying: “The donors, the special interests, the lobbyists have very strong power over these people,” as he waved at the other Republicans on stage. “I am not accepting any money from anybody. Nobody has control of me other than the people of this country.”

Sadly, enough Americans believed that professional grifter to get him into the White House (with a little help from Russian oligarchs), but the principle remains: even Republican voters are disgusted by this crisis of corruption the Supreme Court has foisted upon us.

More than a decade ago I did a fundraiser for the Congressional Progressive Caucus with its then-chair, Rep. Raúl Grijalva. It was a small affair with a half-dozen politicians and around 100 activists.

Because of citizen outrage with how corrupt and bought-off our politics have become since the Supreme Court rewrote the rules of politics, today almost 100 members of Congress have been elected on “no corporate PAC money” pledges and become members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 

Today we’re watching an epic battle to rebuild America being fought valiantly by progressives like Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Mark Pocan, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.  They may lose this one battle, but the path they’re on is steadily upward.

This is the only way we can now claw back our democratic republic from the corrupt billionaires and corporations. 

We have to get money out of politics and the only way to do that is to get more people in office who are not addicted to or corrupted by money.

There’s an election coming up in a year, and primaries will be conducted in the months ahead.  We must do everything we can to identify, elect and support politicians who openly and sincerely pledge never to sell their souls to the devil of Big Money.  

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Who’s In Charge Here?

socialismBy Arlen Grossman

 

That Louis DeJoy is still leading (and messing up) the U.S. postal system is indicative of the power differential between Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats can’t seem to get rid of this unethical buffoon, yet Trump had no problems nominating him. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell, Ted Cruz, and other Republicans seem to be blocking most if not all of Biden’s nominees for diplomatic and other posts.

It feels as if, despite being in charge of the House, Senate, and Presidency, Democrats are afraid to use their power. Republicans seem eager to use their limited power to their advantage. Democrats don’t seem eager to play hardball like the GOP.  Instead they are more eager to play teeball. The Democratic Party appears to be afraid to use their power, unsure of how to use it and unwilling to make use of any of their leverage.

Of course, it’s a little more complicated than that. There is the narrow lead in both houses of Congress. And of course there’s Manchin and Sinema, who seem closer ideology to the opposite party. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that if the shoe were on the other foot, Republicans would find a way to get their way. President Obama failed to get his final Supreme Court pick confirmed. But Trump just had to snap his fingers and Amy Barrett Comey is on the court. Something is wrong here.

There is an imbalance in power between the two parties which doesn’t seem wise nor necessary. Does the Democratic Party have the backbone to assert their power? You can bet they will be floundering if Republicans take power in the next two elections (not hard to imagine). It’s far past the hme for Democrats to look and act tough. In fact, this may be their final chance. For when Republicans gain control of the government  they will use it to bury their opposition and make sure the Democratic Parrty is essentially a museum relic, with a commendable history and important accomplishments but one that has seen its better days.

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Faux News

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Random Musings……Virginia Election

By Arlen Grossman

Tuesday’s battle for governor of Virginia will give us some early indication of potential trouble for the Democratic Party in the upcoming 2022 and 2024 elections. Democrat and former governor Terry McAulliffe is a decent candidate and Virginia has been turning blue for several election cycles. But the Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has been running neck and neck with McAuliffe and the race now is a tossup. Joe Biden won Virginia by ten points in 2020. And although Youngkin has tried to distance himself from Donald Trump, the former president has made a point of endorsing the Republican.

virginiaMy concern is that as toxic and uninspiring as the Republican Party has been since Trump’s election in 2020, this race shouldn’t be this close. But with Biden’s approval numbers sliding downward and the constant attacks from the right-wing media (see “It’s the Media, Stupid!”post above), the Democrats could lose this race. If they do lose, it would be a bad sign for the party. Ideally they could learn something useful and maybe they could learn some new strategies.

But as worthless and awful as the Republican Party is these days, the fact that the election is as close as is, tells us the Democratic Party is not where it should be, and dangerous times could be ahead. If Trump’s people gain one or both houses of Congress, democracy will not be guaranteed any more in this country.

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Is America on Strike?

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“It’s the Media, Stupid!

How the Rise of Right-Wing Fake News is Ruining Democracy

By Arlen Grossman/ October 20, 2021

Headlined at OpEd News, October 21, 2021

As our democracy unravels, as it surely is doing, Donald Trump and his reactionary co-conspirators should be assigned much of the blame, along with our outdated and flawed electoral system. Yet we can’t ignore nor downplay the steady and alarming growth of right-wing fake news and disinformation. Because of this disturbing phenomenon we have become a nation of intense political and cultural division incapable of governing the country nor improving the lives of its citizens.

“It’s the economy, stupid!” insisted Democratic political strategist James Carville in 1992, when the economy was the biggest issue of the day. The Bill Clinton campaign drove that talking point all the way into the White House. In today’s polarized political landscape, that slogan needs to changed to “It’s the media, stupid!”

The change in focus is significant. The political culture of this country has devolved into two angry, polar opposite sources of news, information, and opinion. The onslaught and popularity of the right-wing (ultra-conservative) news media has fueled this division and seriously damaged our political and cultural discourse.

Nearly half of America lives in what they perceive as a scary world in which conventional media is no longer trusted. Truth and honesty have been devalued and discarded among Republicans and their allies, for the sole purpose of winning elections and regaining power. Whether it’s the Big Lie about election results, or dismissing the January 6 insurrection as not much more than a pep rally, right-wing media– television, radio, internet, etc.–will report and promote anything that furthers their agenda.

Republicans, importantly one of our two major political parties, currently exist in a world partial to conspiracy theories and whatever Donald Trump has said that day. Their only apparent agenda is to win power back, even at the cost of lives (the Covid virus) and the future of our planet (climate change).

How bad is it? Consider that just last year 74 million-plus Americans, egged on by right-wing fake news and propaganda, cast their vote for a clearly incompetent, mentally unstable, serial liar to lead their country. And if circumstances were only slightly different, that deranged man might still be our commander-in-chief. These conspiracy-minded and morally bankrupt sources of news and information have transformed nearly half the country into a poorly informed, cult-like mob of angry voters.

The beginnings of this phenomenon can be traced to 1987, when the Fairness Doctrine, which required radio and television stations to give fair and balanced coverage to all sides of controversial issues, was repealed by President Ronald Reagan’s Federal Communications Commission. The following year Rush Limbaugh burst onto the scene with a nationally syndicated radio program. His meteoric rise in influence and popularity helped propel right-wing AM talk radio and movement conservatism to new heights. Limbaugh’s influence on conservative politics, hate speech and conspiracy theories was enormous. Imitators followed, and it became evident that conservative commentary was popular and profitable.

Television also learned how powerful their platform could be. Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-born American media mogul, perceived a need for a conservative-oriented television network in the United States to counter the perceived liberal bias of network broadcasting. His Fox News network was launched in October 1996, and soon became the dominant cable news network in the U.S. Later, two new television networks, One America News and Newsmax, both even more extreme than Fox, joined the fray.

When the internet took off in the 1990s, the right-wing took to it like a cat to catnip. They have forged it into a powerful tool, far more effective than anything the Left had to offer. Websites, blogs and social media spread their toxic message. They had money and a political party behind them and took advantage of it.

What attracts millions of people to these news sources that stray so far from truth and reality? I believe it is because this brand of news and information confirms and reinforces many people’s feelings and opinions, often the kind likely to go unsaid in “polite company.” Prejudice and intolerance (racism), gun worship, hatred of liberals, science denial, religious fundamentalism, Trump worship, etc. are usually not considered politically correct, but now, thanks to right-wing fake media, their beliefs are confirmed and encouraged. Yes indeed, “It’s the media, stupid.”

How much trouble are we in? A great deal, because these views threaten our long-standing democracy and our ability to work together as Americans to effectively fix our problems as a nation, as we historically have done. But the right-wing fake media is not going to quit their profitable, influential onslaught, no matter what damage they cause. The solution is unclear. Bringing back the Fairness Doctrine would make a difference, but would be strongly resisted.

Darker days of hate, gaslighting, and propaganda are likely ahead. We need to recognize and figure a way to fight this fast-growing cancer before it destroys us. Our democratic safeguards and ideals are on the line. But the “stupid” media threatens our institutions and our fragile democracy. That’s unacceptable and we need to do everything we can to prevent this hostile takeover before the country we used to be proud of is little more than a distant memory.

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I Like America.

Well, I like 13 things about it

By Michael Moore/ Michaelmoore.com/ October 17, 2021

Deep in thought after Anupa’s question on Tuesday

On Tuesday night, while conducting this Substack’s first live-stream Q & A (a now monthly “thank you” to our paid members), I was asked a question by Anupa Perera from Toronto that took me a bit by surprise:

“Thank you so much for all that you do! My question: What do you like about America?”

What do I like about America? Wow. A dozen things immediately came to mind. But then I paused, wondering at first if she was asking me this question because she thought I disliked my country. What had I done to make this Canadian think such a thing? Of course I realize I am seen as one of America’s most vocal critics. That’s Ok. I am. Proudly. So this is the answer I gave her:

“Does it sound like I don’t like America? I think one of the best things you can do is, if you love your country and you love your fellow citizens, is to point out the things which we’ve got to fix — and then fix them. Obviously, I want it to be better here. I want to live in a better country. I want us to treat the people of this world better. Some of you have heard me say this before — that I want to ‘save the America we’ve never had.’

And the truth is, I’m really tired. Just like a lot of you during this pandemic, I’m really burned out and exhausted. I’m sorry that the rest of the world has to see us this way. But we can change that and we can fix ourselves.”

And all of that is true. But my answer felt incomplete. And impersonal on my part. It wasn’t the whole story.  The truth is, I really, really love this country and its people, my people. Still, I worried that perhaps I’ve never made this abundantly clear.  

For days I haven’t been able to get her question out of my head. And what I truly wanted to say to her — and to all of you. 

So here I go. Let’s set the record straight. There are, I’ve concluded after much thought, 13 things I desperately like about the USA. Here they are:

1.  The First Amendment 

You can literally and legally say anything you want in the United States of America — except you can’t yell “THIS MOVIE SUCKS!” in a crowded theater. The free speech protections are so absolute, you can even lie as long as you don’t know you’re lying and you are not doing it with malice. You can hold any kind of opinion you want, and you can conduct any form of peaceful protest. You can even legally brandish your gun at that peaceful protest! You can belong to the craziest religion and worship an old shoe as your god if you want. These rights are hard-fast and intractable. Some will argue this has not helped us lately. But I take the position that the crazy surrounding us now forces the rest of us to sharpen our brains and engage in the debate, armed with facts and compassion — and with that we will come out ahead. And we have. By over 7 million votes! More of that! And yes, that makes me like America.

2.  We are not a melting pot — we’re a big, beautiful stew!     

What makes this such a crazy, cool, exciting place to live is its immense diversity — thousands, millions, from each and every country on Earth. A nation whose people speak between 350 and 420 different languages.

Thank God we are not a melting pot. Who would we be if we all just melted into one homogenous caldron of iron? Isn’t it better that we are more like a stew or a salad — a variety of ingredients that keep their own individual identity, but come together as one entity to create something very tasty and often quite good?

Our American diversity creates a vast expanse of ideas, inventions, creativity, politics, beliefs, food, culture, community — and all of this is happening despite the high levels of racism, misogyny, capitalist greed and the relentless everyday crushing by the haves of the have-nots. What a testimony to us that, with all of the hate we have to overcome from each other, our country has ended up giving the world everything from the Polio vaccine to the zipper to Chuck D to the World Wide Web. Two brothers from Ann Arbor invented Photoshop. Two sisters and a friend began Planned Parenthood. Two siblings from Dayton were the first to build and fly an airplane. A Syrian Muslim American baby is adopted by two Armenian Americans and they name the baby Steve Jobs.

The son of a Syrian and Muslim American immigrant


Fortunately, there is no mass assembly of our citizenry into robotic automatons. We all seemingly have a different sense of humor. In any given minute there’s a million new directions in which we can go because we are constantly asking “WHY NOT?!”  Even the idiots amongst us are just so cute and adorable as they walk around clueless in a zombified state, completely unaware that we have brought the planet to its reluctant knees. We take and post spectacular snapshots of our grilled salmon. We make silly Tik-Toks of ourselves dancing to “Billie Jean” and we try not to worry about our cousin who just sent us “proof” of the aborted fetal cells secretly placed inside the Pfizer vaccine. Madness. But we are also Ava DuVernay, Cornel West, Quentin Tarantino, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, AOC, Aziz Ansari, Barbara Lee, Ang Lee, Billy Collins, Linda Sarsour, Rod Birleson, Susan Sarandon, Alexandria Villaseñor, my mailman “Willy” Williams, Kathy Najimy, Daniel Ellsberg, Mehdi Hasan, Katie Halper, Sam Riddle, every IATSE member on my union crew, Francesca Fiorentini, and Mr. Vineski, our beloved and crusty grade school janitor.

I love all of this about all of us and I can’t imagine wanting it any other way. 

3.  There are more women than men in medical school and law school, more American women than men who won medals at this year’s Olympics, and most weeks on the New York Times Fiction Bestseller List there are as many or more women authors than men.     

Welcome to our new American future. I’m trusting it will be kinder and smarter when old angry white men won’t be calling all the shots. By the 2040s, white people will be the minority. Women are already the majority — in part because they live four years longer than men. They go to the dentist. They vote more than men. And they account for a whopping 80% of all fiction books sold in America. The average age of an American today is 37 years old. The average member of the working class is a woman of color in her 40s. This is turning into a great and much better stew.

4.  Broadway.       

Save up and come to New York City just once for a long weekend (Thursday-Sunday). Go to Times Square and get the cheap, half-price Broadway or Off-Broadway tickets — and see 6 plays over those 4 days! You will go back home with your feet a-dancin’, your horizons expanded, and your mind blown. Your 9 to 5 cubicle will never look the same again. Some day you may pick up a pen, get a notebook, and export the crazy wonderful stories that are in your head and, with your own hand, put them down on paper. Paper! They will be read by you over and over and they will bring you joy and comfort. Perhaps later they will be read or experienced by others. This is the ticket to Freedom. This is why I like America. (Note: When I was on Broadway in 2017, I asked my producers to lower the ticket price in the balcony to $29 — and if anyone from my town in Michigan wrote me and said they couldn’t afford that, I told the box office to let them in for free. And in spite of all those discounts and freebies, I was still the top-grossing Broadway play (non-musical) for 6 weeks of my 12-week limited run. My point to Broadway producers: let’s make all theater affordable to everyone!)

Jeff Daniels takes a bow during curtain call after the opening night performance of “To Kill A Mocking Bird” at the Shubert Theatre. (Slaven Vlasic/Getty)


5.  I like America because we have good neighbors. The Canadians invented the Telephone, Basketball, and the Garbage Bag. 
And then they didn’t!     

You probably thought we Americans created all that! Ha! That’s why we’re so good. Masters of illusion! We’re the kind of neighbor that borrows the Tupperware and forgets to return it. We love borrowing all kinds of ideas from our neighbors and then making them better — and then finally making them ours. And don’t forget Mexico! They think we’re so great and wonderful, they want to live here! They look at us and see millions of white supremacists and say to themselves, “Now THAT is where I want to raise my kids!” Why reject people who love us in spite of our flaws? I don’t know any French who want to give up their homes and citizenship and dessert and be one of us. Plus, don’t forget — the Mexicans gave us popcorn, chocolate, chewing gum, cotton, potatoes and the tomato. Mmmmmerica!

6.  We are the only country on Earth with an Arctic AND a Tropical climate. And surrounded by three oceans. 

In other words, I can roam in the desert, slide down a vanishing glacier, take a walk in the woods, make snow angels in a blizzard, wrestle an alligator, climb a 20,000 ft mountain, grow oranges, live in a city of 9 million yet be just 10 minutes from the wilderness of the Palisades, chase tornadoes, outrun hurricanes, live in a bayou, dig up dinosaurs, and sit and watch a Joshua Tree survive or a honeybee die. I can do all of this — and never leave my home.

7.   There are so many people here, you can find your audience for whatever your talent is.      

You can be a niche musician of any genre, and if you’re good at it, there are so many Americans — 330 million of us — from which to find your audience. Your chance of filling a thousand-seat auditorium is not as difficult as you might think. You can be an indie filmmaker with 299 million of your fellow Americans who detest your movies — but if just 1/300th of this country friggin’ loves you, you’ll have an incredible $10 million opening weekend! Sounds doable! Play the massive numbers — they’re in your favor. This isn’t Belgium. Just 40,000 readers out of 300 million citizens is all you need to make that bestseller list! You can like America, and it can like you, too.

8.  We Americans already know how to fix the climate catastrophe, replace capitalism with democratic socialism, and make great pizza.      

From the over 1,000 socialist mayors and other elected officials of the early 1900s to the socialist programs of FDR to Bernie winning nearly half of all the state Democratic primaries in 2016, the majority of Americans are standing ready to finally have paid family leave, free community college, free pre-K, expanded Medicare with free hearing aids and glasses for the elderly, student debt forgiveness, child care costs cut in half, two hot meals a day in school for all children, a $15 to $20-an-hour minimum wage and the cost of prescriptions cut by 59 to 79%. And nearly everyone now agrees the rich need to start paying their share of the taxes. Americans are natural democratic socialists — “We, the people“ are the first three words of our country’s constitution! We created the world’s first massive system of free public libraries, free fire departments (yes, back in the day, if your house caught fire, you had to pay to have it put out) and free public schools for everyone. Whether we use the “S” word or not, most of us believe everyone deserves a seat at the table and a fair slice of the pie. That’s what makes it so nice to live here, knowing that a couple hundred million people think just like you do! I like this about America and I like knowing we’ll soon be a flawed but well-meaning quasi-socialist paradise — and I’ll be alive to see it.

9.  Rock-n-Roll, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Punk, Soul, The Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Gospel, Detroit Techno, American Folk and Weird Al Yankovic.       

Just a sampling of the music we’ve invented and given to the world. This alone is reason enough to be grateful to have grown up here, live here and go for a nice long drive here — with the windows open or the top down and the radio cranked to 11.

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (Anthony Barboza/Getty)


10.  For a nation of great killers, none of us are forced by the State to kill anyone. 
     

If there’s a military draft, anyone can sign a card saying they refuse to kill and they won’t be given a gun. I liked that when I was 18 and I said to the local draft board, “No Vietnamese ever called me a snowflake!” Hell no, I wouldn’t go, and I liked that I could do that in such a militaristic country. 

11.  You can pass a ten dollar bill during a game at the stadium down a row of 15 strangers…      

…and not only will the ten bucks be faithfully delivered to the vendor in the aisle, both hot dogs with mustard and relish will make it all the way back to you, unstolen, uneaten and intact. Yes, we have crime, but no one steals another person’s hot dog. UnAmerican. 

12.  The Moooovies!       

Nuff said.

Stanley Kubrick giving direction on the set of Dr. Stangelove (George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty)


13.  We Are a Hot Mess!

Yes, there’s a lot wrong in America. But that gives us each a chance to fix it. There’s literally something we can do to fix something here every single night and day. Never boring! Never a dull moment! What would we do if we all lived in Denmark?! Ride bikes?

So there you go. What’s not to like?! 13 great things about America! How ‘bout we go for 13 more…

Jasper Johns, Flag, 1969
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This one hits home…..this time more than ever!

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