Voting Coronavirus Style

Voting-Coronavirus

Voted today. Was greeted behind glass, then funneled straight to a padded elevator with disinfectant spray, tissues, and waste can. No lines. Practically no people.

I voted for Elizabeth Warren in the democratic primary for president despite her campaign’s suspension.  She was the quality candidate.

My vote was a message. We deserve a leader who combines all the qualities we need–presidential temperament, vision, values, smarts and stamina–to meet these times.  Also, I deserve a chance to vote for a woman. And, my country deserves female leadership.

My message rings hollow, though, like an echo across the empty voting hall. It is hard to make forward progress, especially in times of crisis which make us run back to home base. There will always be a crisis that sets us back. Coronavirus infecting our bodies. Trumpian virus infecting our hearts and minds.

Voting for male candidates feels safe. But we don’t need safe. We need solutions. We need lasting positive change.

 

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!!

tax-tips

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

russia

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.

Pro-Choice Illinois Action Item

If you are pro-choice, I invite you to call your Illinois House Representative this Monday or Tuesday to support Illinois House Bill 40 (HB40). HB40 made it out of committee (good job filling out witness slips!), and I’ve heard it has been scheduled for its second reading on the House floor this Wednesday, February 15.

ACTION ITEM: Call your Illinois House Representative. And post or spread the word for others to call.

Background: See my earlier piece entitled “Her Body, Her Choice”. Also , here is an ACLU piece my neighbor recommended as well: http://www.aclu-il.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/HB-40-fact-sheet.pdf

Republicans for the Republic, Where are You?

Public discourse is strained, so much so that a local gathering of Republicans in sleepy River Forest, Illinois drew protestors. The lightning rod was Congressman Roskam, guest speaker, who has been under fire in his own district recently for ducking questions from his constituents on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). But perhaps protestors would have shown up anyway since they were locals, and there is growing discontent among River Forest voters over the state of national politics.

Here is what an on-the-spot reporter said of the evening in an Open Letter to Congressman Roskam.   You might be interested in reading the additional commentary from an attendee following the letter.

I was invited to protest the event by an acquaintance, but responded that I had already RSVP’ed to attend. Nationally, Republicans are our best hope in the short-term to temper President Trump’s authoritarianism. During the #womensmarch postcard project, I wrote to several nationally ambitious Republicans, such as Marco Rubio, appealing to them for positive leadership (listen to his meaningful speech the other day asking for greater civility, later in the debate during which Senator Warren was silenced).  Locally, we need competitive (moderate) Republicans to help keep Democratic representatives on the straight and narrow path. In my area, Democrats can get elected despite personal scandal or lackluster results in State governance. If politics is at least, in part, a competition of ideas, then we need fair competition and districting to keep representatives accountable and count votes fairly.

Last evening let me down. It was not like a town hall meeting. The speakers did not entertain questions. Mix and mingle, before and after, did not lend itself to meaningful dialogue.  One of the speakers lauded the Tea Party whose “North Star is the U.S. Constitution”. But when he spoke with eloquence about defending the Constitution, I kept thinking about how Trump is threatening our Constitution (free speech, other branches of government, separation of church and state). Yet the speaker did not acknowledge Trump’s controversial executive orders, (other than to share excitement that the immigration ban is testing the limits of judicial authority) and both speakers only minimally mentioned his name.   More notably, there was no conversation about local politics and how to make Republicans more competitive in the marketplace of ideas locally.

 

Where and when can we all gather for honest conversation, instead of having one set of ideas on one side of the door and one on the other? If no one else has an answer for me, I may start thinking I need to arrange a town hall myself! Are you game to help me?