Women’s March Chicago: Big, Beautiful Historic, Sober, Determined

womensmarchchicago-vote-triumphant (2)

How was the Women’s March today? Depends on who you ask.

“Big!” Says my sixteen year old son. “Lots and lots of people.” Considering he is over six feet tall I suppose he had a good view of the crowd and the pink hats. He also was not at the Women’s March last year and so his biggest march was Earth Day with roughly 45,000 people. Today’s crowd was more like 300,000.

“Beautiful!” said the police commander when my friend asked him how it went. Peaceful and pleasant almost to a fault. Right before the march an organizer said, “Remember to be respectful of each other and public property.” And we were.

“Historic”, said our friend who also was impressed that it marks the anniversary of the birth of a Movement.

“Sober and mature” I thought, compared to last year’s marches which swelled beyond expectations. Last year in D.C. everything felt electric as people rushed with outrage and urgency to defend Americans and the nation’s ideals.  Now both their heads and their hearts are in the game. People know better how to proceed, how to pace themselves, how to win the long game to restore this country.

I saw ‘Dan Biss for Governor” signs. Meanwhile, JB Pritzker wound his way through the crowd near us , accessible to folks for chat and pics. Lisa Madigan gave one of the most inspiring and focused speeches. Basically she said,  “1. You can do anything (you already do, like build businesses, teach, volunteer), 2. You are powerful, 3. We are more powerful together. 4. Get out there to vote and run for office.” Powerful message we can think on, and act on!

My recommended 2018 To Do list:

  1. Register to vote
  2. Ask everyone you know to register to vote–friends, neighbors, sales clerks, the mailman, (I remind telemarketers who call my home)
  3. Stay alert for rallies, marches and other organized activity in your area. See PersistList.org for happenings in Chicago and/or sign up for your favorite causes who will send you alerts.
  4. Stay informed about candidates as we approach elections. Go to ballotready.org for information about candidates up and down the ballot, and triangulate news sources for good information.
  5. Let’s all get in formation and march to the polls for 2018!

Heed MLK Jr.: Women’s March Chicago this Saturday, Jan. 20 at 11 am (Columbus & Congress)

LADY LIBERTY IS STILL WATCHING YOU!

This Saturday heed the warning of Martin Luther King Jr.

“…And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights….” Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream”

Were moms and men, women and children, simply blowing off steam when they marched in last year’s Women’s March? Will they be content to return to business as usual? NO!

The reasons I marched are equally true today if not more true. This administration has proven to be even more bigoted, cruel, incompetent, and corrupt than we warned last year. The president has continued to falsely bash Americans and American institutions, eroding the fabric of our democratic society.

If you add up the hateful things Trump has said about women, Muslims, Mexican-Americans, American cities, FBI, Intelligence agencies, journalists, free press, judges, Congressional Democrats (and Republicans!), his own “loyal” staffers, foreign allies, (and fill in blank___!), and then add up who Trump has endorsed or failed to condemn…

…it becomes clear that he has no interest in protecting Americans, and upholding American laws and American ideals.

Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans remain complicit. It is up to us to “Show me what democracy looks like!” See you this Saturday!!

Women’s March in Chicago

Sat, January 20, 2018

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM CST

Add to Calendar

LOCATION

Downtown Chicago –

302 S. Columbus

Chicago, IL 60604

View Map

 

OTHER LOCATIONS NATIONWIDE

The gravitational force of S***holes: A story of my lost innocence

SAVE THE DATE: January 20, 2018, Women’s March in Chicago

My friends will find it hard to believe but, yes, I swear now, well sometimes. Up until the 2016 presidential election I had probably spoken a swear word less than five times in my four-plus decades of existence. Imagine my surprise when the first victim of my new-found vocabulary was my own son…

It never seemed a natural thing for me. The words didn’t come to mind. I have a naturally more positive and optimistic nature that staved off harsh words, and perhaps also an old-fashioned sense that ladies do not swear.

But I now think the real reason I did not swear all that time was because I was never angry enough, or cynical enough, or desperate enough to reach for the words, finding that all others failed me.  As a teen I remember when my mom said “you have to be f**ked before you can say the word.” I knew what she meant from the context of her story. She did not mean intercourse she meant when you are screwed, betrayed, ill-used.

That’s how I felt in the days following November 8, 2016. Betrayed…not by lying, cheating, sexually harassing, corrupt, Trump. Betrayed by my fellow countrymen who fell victim to his con. Desperate…to be trapped in a boat with people who were either greedy, racist, reckless for change, fearful, ignorant, gullible, or some toxic combination of any of the above.

I knew that life just got harder. Suddenly I was answering to my kids about local vandalism involving swastikas, fending off their requests to move to Canada and, worst of all, responding to one of their suggestions that they “pretend not to be Jewish” for safety’s sake.

So when I arrived at home on a Friday night, a few weeks into December 2016, with a headache and a smile painted on my face for their sake, I found it hard to withstand the banal bickering over what movie to watch. One kid was a hold out and after 30 minutes of him being uncooperative I finally lost it and said in dead pan fashion (because I was too tired to yell, I suppose), “I don’t f’ing care what you want to watch. I simply want escapist entertainment, any f’ing movie will do, because I had an f’ing hard week, and f’ing Trump was elected president, and I’m f’ing going upstairs to crawl into bed.”  A few minutes later I could hear my husband enter the house, “Where’s mom?’, “She’s upstairs…in bed” one answered, and another blurted out, “She swore at us, Dad!”. My husband’s voice rose to a yell, “She SWORE at you?!!”, “Well then you get upstairs right now and apologize to her!!” (God bless him).

So liberating in that moment and so handy for some months to come when once again other words would escape me or feel inadequate. But here’s the thing. Once you go so low, there is no lower. (Except for violence). And sometimes I feel like our American dialogue keeps inventing new lows. Candidate Trump gained support by swearing. We thought we hit rock-bottom when Scaramucci was cursing up a storm in the White House and was dismissed. But cursing has become and remained a norm in the Trump White House and today Trump combined his foul mouth with his racist disdain for black or brown immigrants: “Why are we having all these people from s***hole countries come here?” (referring to Haiti and African nations)….”why don’t we bring more people from countries like Norway?”

Ignoring the geopolitical implications of pissing off African countries–where China is vying for a global monopoly on precious metals, where fighting ISIS requires cooperation from African countries, where people are likely more upright and worthy than our very own president–how can we ignore the ongoing racism and cruelty of this President?

==>Here is a thoughtful question by one pundit…What was your response to Trump’s S***holes” comment? Will we be dragged into the gravitational force of going lower and lower until physical violence is the only retort? Or can we yet save ourselves?

==>And here is something you can do to respond as an American: Join me on Saturday, January 20 for the Women’s March in Chicago or in other cities (enter your zip code) that weekend. Bring your friends, spouses, family. Let us stand up for what is good and decent about our country. Bring your body, and your best (and worst) words in defense of what America stands for.

Charitable Perspectives on 2017

sun-treeAs the sun sets on 2017, you may be scrambling like me to round out your charitable donations for best tax advantage and to ensure that your best intentions for giving were satisfied this year. So this 2017 retrospective highlights groups of people who uphold American ideals and principles. They fight for you, for us, every day. Consider giving to them today…

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) One of the first things my family did following the 2016 Presidential election was turn to the ADL for tools (see table talk for families) and educational material. We had started to experience bigotry and antisemitism in our community and schools close to the election and since then in ways we had not seen before (swastikas, calling kids Jews, hail Hitler gestures, signs on bathroom doors: “For Whites Only”). Our fears in November 2016 were justified as evidenced by a rise in hate crimes in 2016 (up 26%), emboldened activity by white supremacist groups (remember the Nazi salute “Hail Trump” weeks after election day, and the Charlottesville tragedy), and a president who continually re-tweets white nationalist lies and appoints white nationalist sympathizers and champions to key positions.

Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)– As I broadened my knowledge of news and current events I began to notice how many people rely on the foundational work of the SPLC on issues of income inequality, racial justice, and civil rights. In addition to the their cases and programs they offer research and information of use to everyone. See, for example, their simple yet comprehensive piece tracking Hate in Trump’s White House.

Planned Parenthood – Meanwhile, the Republican Party’s continual attacks not just on health care for Americans, but specifically health care benefits for women including basic birth control, brought me to learn more about how Planned Parenthood provides vital health services for women, from cancer screenings to birth control and, yes, safe alternatives for abortions (and, no, those abortions are not funded by federal dollars). Also, Planned Parenthood does amazing grass-roots and advocacy work that ultimately lifts up all women’s issues, such as by getting women to advocacy days. We need to keep this organization strong on behalf of all women.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – The ACLU is urgently relevant in today’s political and legal climate. They ramped up in 2017 to train regular people on civil rights through PeoplePower.org. They have consistently championed free speech, including for the neo-Nazis rallying in Charlottesville (though they are adjusting their policies to avoid supporting armed demonstrators in future). And they are working to protect voting rights.

National Resource Defense Council –  People I know in the EPA recommend we support national environmental organizations because the EPA is no longer positioned to protect our healthy environment now that Trump placed anti-EPA Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. By the way, my EPA friends have been working under strained circumstances all year, so if you think you’ve got it bad at work, think again. See this Step-by-Step guide to fighting Trump’s anti-public health/environment agenda.

YMCA – Then there are American institutions like the YMCA whose mission has always been to lift people to their better selves while bridging the divides between us.

Most of these sites above are offering double or triple match on donations made today. So let’s finish the year strong and have a productive and healthy new year. Cheers!

 

Blogging blossoms into book pursuit

I started blogging in September of 2016 as a light pursuit, mainly as a method to engage my cyber-tuned boys. I ended up writing 60 blogs in the 12 months that followed, mainly about politics, and primarily as a method to help me digest the news of the day in a productive manner. As frustrating as it is to read the news these days, it is even more frustrating if it all becomes overwhelming or blurs together. Blogging helps avoid the blur.

For the last two months I’ve been on hiatus from blogging (my apologies to loyal followers). Not because I’m losing interest, but rather because blogging is blossoming into a fuller pursuit. I have been busy lining up ducks to write a book about what America really is, and really could be, in the context of our history and dearest dreams. Think of it as a guideposts for the American citizen. My man-on-the-street interviews are taking on a new meaning in this context. Also, I have been spending more time reading and researching about past civilizations, American history, economics, and citizenry.

I will also get back to blogging about news of the day, though. Someone has specifically asked me to write about the tax plans pending in Congress (check out Eric Zorn’s 9 reasons not to be thankful for the GOP’s tax plans , and a quick summary of why they are ridiculous, and how taxes will likely increase). Also someone asked me to write a “catch-me-up” piece so it is easy for them to understand the most important things that happened last year in national politics. The genesis of this request is that they finally feel ready to start getting involved now (yay!), and do not want to feel ignorant entering the political sphere.  For starters, let’s consider if democracy has been holding up. So some thoughtful blogs on these topics are forthcoming.

Meanwhile, if you have any interest in hearing more about my book project, please contact me. I am collaborating with a dear friend on this project and we welcome more input and voices. The topics we plan to cover so far include: economic inequality and concentration of wealth; how we talk to each other in a civil society (freedom of speech, civility, truth, and misinformation); education and healthy communities; racism and other-isms; gender equality; rule of law and social justice; models of self-governance;. These topics will help us triangulate on what a successful America looks like.

We are especially interested in interviewing regular Americans (not just experts) from across the country who represent a variety political positions and philosophies. So if you care to be interviewed yourself, or nominate someone, just let me know.

Also, in case you are interested, here are some books that are currently fascinating me:

  • Guns, Germs and Steel
  • How to be Alive: A Guide to the Kind of Happiness that Helps the World
  • Impeachment: A Citizen’s Guide

 

What do Hurricanes, Hunger Games, and Trump Have in Common?

800px-Jean-Leon_Gerome_Pollice_Verso

While we awaited official word this weekend about the state of emergency in Puerto Rico, what we got instead from our President was distracting and hateful comments about the NFL and players brave enough to address injustice.

Our NFL responded with an unprecedented show of unity on Sunday, essentially out-classing our President. We even experienced the irony of Charles Barkley calling out the President for swearing.

But some lingering words from Trump remain to be addressed.

  • His complete disregard for players who are peacefully protesting unchecked police brutality
  • Trump’s call for unquestioning fealty to the flag and national anthem is un-American, not the peaceful protest of the players. We are in a free country and no one can make us bow to the flag or the president.
  • Suggesting that players should feel “privileged to be in the league” mistakes the fact that the League should feel privileged to have such talent on the field. The League is its players and they’ve earned their stripes.
  • His reckless call for viewers to walk out or stop supporting the NFL until owners make the players stand for the anthem. That doesn’t support his supposed friends among NFL owners. And how does that grow our economy?
  • Yes, his swearing which remains a disturbing pattern in this White House
  • And most alarming, his desire to return to a more violent game by saying “it’s a different game” now that there are penalties for hard hitting, despite modern understanding of the danger of concussions

The problem with Trump’s comments, when viewed together, is that they reveal an utter disregard for people (and really he is targeting people of color). They imply that people should feel privileged for jobs they’ve actually earned (because as people of color you are lucky we let you in at all?), even dangerous jobs, and they must perform with a smile on their faces at all times. Sing for your supper!  His comments conjured images of gladiators fighting to the death, or “honored” youth fighting in the Hunger Games. I could imagine him saying, “look how hard they hit, they like it!”  And I could see him forcing these gladiators to salute him and the Roman Empire, or suffer the consequences! His joy in the pomp, and his pleasure in the pain, is so President Snow.

Meanwhile, I fear that real-life hunger games are underway on an island of 3.5 million people hit by Hurricane Maria. Power will be out for months, flooding persists, and water, medicine, and other critical resources are scarce in Puerto Rico right now. These are fellow Americans. Shall we send them flags or sing the anthem to them? Or shall we actually show them what it means to be American by helping them? If you know how best to help, please comment below.

Trump’s rants stir the pot of racial discord, like Hurricanes stir winds of destruction. And just like a hurricane, Trump’s damage starts with a lot of hot air, rapidly rising in our collective consciousness to create friction. What results is a vacuum, swelled by the vacuum in moral leadership in our country. The resulting swirl leaves broad scale damage, unintended consequences, and needless despair.

We may not be able to control for Hurricanes (though we can each take steps to slow global warming from human activity that is feeding them), but we can control for who is elected to lead our great nation. Whether it is Congressional and legislative elections, gubernatorial elections, or the presidency, let’s do our best this time to steer clear of President Snow, Hurricane Trump, and any other man-made disasters.

A Muddy Road to Recovery after Hurricane Harvey

IMG_30681My sister’s family and their horses weathered the storm. See one pictured above on the day sunshine returned. It is a hopeful scene, which belies a whole lot of hurt still happening in Houston.

There are not a lot of words to help what happened in and near Houston. But our donations could do a lot to help people recover. If you are looking to target your donation dollars locally for immediate and long-term recovery, then I recommend the  YMCA’s Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund.

Also, here are some other recommendations passed to me by a friend:

The Texas Workers Relief Fund. A union-relief effort by the Texas AFL-CIO, donations are tax-deductible. The state fed has been closely coordinating with the Houston and Corpus-area central labor councils to provide material aid.

RNRN Disaster Relief Fund. Our ally the National Nurses United organizes medical relief for major disasters through this fund.

Texas DSA. DSA chapters (also allies) have been organizing both volunteers and those in need at a grassroots level. Sign up here to offer help (or ask for it) or donate directly to Houston DSA.

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group Fund. If you want to donate directly for relief in the Coastal Bend towns hit directly by the hurricane.

Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund. Houston’s mayor has set up this fund to assist with victims of Houston’s ongoing and increasingly dangerous flooding. Donations are tax-deductible.

The extreme enforcement policies of SB4 and ICE have put immigrant workers in increased harm’s way through the crisis. Immigrant and refugee groups such as RAICES in San Antonio are moving to get aid directly to immigrant families. Jumping in now is just the beginning.