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

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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.

March for Truth, Our American Integrity

Join the March for Truth tomorrow, Saturday, June 3, to protect our Democracy, 11 am Federal Plaza, Chicago.

https://www.indivisiblechicago.com/march-for-truth/

Why march?  On the way to the Science March I met a young woman styled upscale on the el train who smirked at the idea of marching. “Is that because you are a Trump supporter, or that you agree with the direction of our nation’s leadership right now?” I asked. “No”, she said, “I just don’t want to get stressed out.”  I responded that doing something about it keeps me from being stressed out. Helps me sleep like a baby knowing I am doing what I can.

She added that things will work out for good in the long run. I said, “sure there is ebb and flow to good times and dark times. But the dark times don’t have to happen on my watch. And I would rather have 400 years of a strong democracy than settle for 200.”

But finally she revealed a more cynical  reason she is not taking action. She believes that everyone is already corrupt. “If he shows his taxes, who is to say it is even accurate?” Assuming even tax agents are bought.  This means accepting all the conspiracy of lies told about Hillary, media, and government institutions by Trump and Neo Republicans.  This is their strategy to neutralize criticism of  themselves.

If we accept the idea of widespread corruption, lies, and conflicts of interest of the Trump Administration, then we might as well live in Russia.

“America is special”, I told this young woman. We live by the rule of law. We care, or we used to care, that our leaders tell the truth. Demand it. Now.

P.S. The young woman seemed swayed finally after I told her that we could stand back and watch a toddler at the edge of a cliff. Maybe she’ll fall, maybe not. But it is for the good in the long run. Eh? Or we could go take the toddler’s hand and redirect her away from the edge. Because we can. I also suggested that the young woman may yet find some simple, special or powerful way to make a difference. I encouraged her to find it. I encourage you. I am still finding my way to the toddler’s side myself.

Time to step up! This Saturday, next Saturday, and so on!

Roll up your sleeves and put on your walking shoes. April is so full of good stuff that you simply must pick one. If you pick two I will kiss you. If you pick three I will mow your lawn. If you pick four, you are my hero! The world needs more heroes!!

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Saturday, April 15 Tax Day March in Chicago (11:00 am at Daley Plaza) This is about ethics and transparency in government, so any of the scandals are fair game. “Bankrupt billionaire”, “Russian Puppet”, “Trump U Tax 101 (‘Fool them all of the time’)”

Saturday, April 22 Science March in Chicago (10:00 am east of Michigan and Jackson) Ironically, my kid is in a science symposium this day, so we may need to skip the march. But perhaps we can have a sign on our car with a picture of Einstein’s face, “Glad we welcome immigrants”.

Tuesday, April 25 Illinois Women’s March on Springfield Illinois. (Noon to 3 pm in Springfield)  I am taking time off work to go to this. It is really important to help pending legislation strengthening on equal pay laws, protect a woman’s right to choose, and other common sense bills. My sign will be “Lady Liberty is Watching You.”

Saturday, April 29 People’s Climate March in Chicago (Noon at Federal Plaza). We won’t be able to make this one, but it might be the most critical. As my Dad said in the sixties, “Earth, Love it or Leave it!”

Other political action: It is still worthwhile to write to your U.S. Congressmen and Senators asking for independent investigation of the Trump-Russia Scandal. Did you notice the quiet signing Trump did today related to reducing women’s access to healthcare? And here is a good article to help you remind people of some of Trump’s flip-flops, lies and ignorance.  And in local politics, write to your legislators and state senators to support the women’s bills pending:

Here is the list of legislation and fact sheets that the Illinois Women Moving Forward Coalition is advocating for:

  • HB40 (Feigenholtz) – Safeguarding and ensuring access to legal and safe abortion
  • HB2771 (C. Mitchell)/SB1296 (Hutchinson) Securing paid sick time and paid Family Medical Leave for working families so that women can take care of themselves and their children
  • HB2462 (Moeller)/SB981 (Biss) – Strengthening the Illinois Equal Pay Act to target systemic discrimination
  • HB3215 (Wallace)Learn with Dignity: Requires a school district to make feminine hygiene products available, at no cost to students, in the bathrooms of school buildings
  • HB3904 (Stratton) – require the IDOC to establish gender responsive, trauma-informed, evidence- based and family-centered practices, policies & programs throughout all women’s correctional facilities.

Stepping up! Townhalls are fair game.

Not long ago, after extreme frustration and bewilderment with local skirting of national politics, I pondered hosting my own townhall if our elected officials keep running from their constituents. Well Michael Romain of the Village Free Press did just that (in cooperation with The Wednesday Journal) soon after that. And tomorrow,  he will be facilitating another town hall meeting on April 1st to explore Maywood government and candidates (with support from The West Cook YMCAs).

It is wonderful to see people, journalists, and organizations stepping up to lift up citizenry and help people understand self governance. Many thanks to one and all!

So what can you do? Write to Congress? Write the next political folk song? I have songs on the brain due to Spring Break in Nashville. More on that later.

Russia, Russia, Russia

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As I watched President Trump’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress this evening, I was relieved that he had a more measured tone, but troubled that his policies remain focused on the wrong problems or are likely to make real problems worse. However, I could not help thinking over and over about Russia. He did not mention it, thank goodness, and yet ongoing revelations make it the biggest story we aren’t talking about. (READ MORE)

Trump had a more upbeat tone, but it does not make me forget his authoritarian tendencies, his generally  dark vision of America and the world, his negative lies that stir the pot of hatred (like with Sweden), that his Chief Strategist is manifesting going to war in as little as 5 years with China…and it does not erase this dark spectre of Russia hanging over us and casting a dark shadow on American politics.

Here is a guy that was supposed to be so rich that he was incorruptible, no one could buy him (so says my garbage man). Yet he has repeatedly acted like he is beholden to Russia and is surrounding himself with people who have deep Russian ties. Why?

****Rachel Maddow’s Monday night show starts to crack this nut.
WATCH THIS VIDEO (21 min.): http://player.theplatform.com/p/7wvmTC/MSNBCEmbeddedOffSite?guid=n_maddow_aross_170227

For context…consider that some people were concerned with Hillary Clinton’s “appearance of impropriety” for raising money for the Clinton Foundation (a legitimate and well-regarded charity) while working at the State Department. Those same people should have been outraged by Trump’s actual illegal violations (illegal, not merely appearance of impropriety) of using his Trump Foundation money for personal gain. But hold onto your seats for this one. Here is Donald Trump with shady dealing while indebted to Deutsche Bank, a bank who has been money laundering for Russian Oligarchs…

As we approach the April 15 Protest, urging Trump to show his taxes, we really need to focus the theme on revealing the truth about Russia. The transparency we seek is to ensure that Trump’s conflicts of interest do not compromise national security nor his ability to act in the best interests of America.

So tonight, as Trump spoke about making America stronger, as he exploited the presence of the widow of the Navy Seal who might not have died but for Trump’s casual dinner time decision to authorize the raid, and as I pondered the reach and depth of Russian control in our White House and nation, his words rang hollow to me.

 

 

A Day Without a Woman? I choose a Day to Celebrate Women.

Are you taking off on March 8, 2017 to honor International Woman’s Day and the call to action from the The Women’s March 100 Days of Action? At first I balked, thinking that subtracting myself from the workforce or economy for the day was insufficient, unhelpful, or counter to my own personal goals for contributing every single day to a better America. But I have since thought better of it.

On March 8, I am taking the day off work. Not to strike or protest, but to pause and reflect, to honor and celebrate, to be in solidarity with women around the world and across time.

I plan to visit and tour Jane Addams’s Hull House in Chicago, IL. (800 S. Halsted).  Jane Addams was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Her social reform efforts helped immigrants, women, and children. Her messages are entirely relevant today. Her example is instructive and inspirational, especially at this precarious time in U.S. history. The current attack on immigrants is making national news, where counter to promises, non-criminal immigrants are being included in sweeps for deportation. But consider also the regressive effect on child labor laws of old, in the face of some law-makers attempting to depress teen wages in order to skirt minimum wage increases popularly enacted.

Join me in informing and encouraging your friends, teachers of your children, and your employers or clients that you will be off that day and you respect their choice to be off too. I will be taking my children out of school that day.

If you want to come along, drop me a line. I have arranged a group tour at 11:30 am that can scale up to 50 people. It will cost $10 per person (more or less depending on the number who attend and whether or not we see the democracy movie).

What other ways do you suggest we honor women on March 8? Here is a list of women to explore. Perhaps your local museums and libraries offer you a moment to pause, reflect and celebrate.

 

Action Item: Call your U.S. House Rep. to support women’s reproductive health

ACTION ITEM: If you are Pro-Choice, in support of the reproductive health of women, then here is a simple way to call your U.S. Congressman, with instructions included. These type of phone services are terrific. I once made calls while waiting in an airport.

BACKGROUND: The link above provides a quick summary. In addition, see previous posts for some decent background articles with statistics to show how funding education and abortion services help to reduce abortion rates.