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?

 

Take Heart – Yes We Can

Today we can be glad that federal judges are protecting our Constitutional rights. But meanwhile, what can you and I do to help too?

I previously shared some of my favorite links to help Americans fight for the integrity of our great nation. Friends have since shared some additional resources:

  • Read this uplifting article in The Nation with their favorite links to action-oriented groups and web resources.
  • Attend the Pro-Choice Rally and March to support Planned Parenthood – this Saturday, February 11 at  11 am in Oak Park (Scoville Park at the corner of Lake Street and Oak Park Avenue).
  • Also see upcoming protests and rallies in Chicagoland in this new online resource, PersistList.org
  • Consider 5calls.org or DailyAction.org for easy grassroots political action (more effective than signing online petitions or liking a post on Facebook).
  • Stay abreast of local politics with this In These Times series on Illinois Budget Crisis.

 

Time Travelers Didn’t Do It, So We Have To!

My thirteen year old was looking forward to Inauguration Day when many others couldn’t. He theorized that it would be a good day to look for time travelers sent here to stop a Trump Presidency. I didn’t have the heart to tell my young budding scientist that a Trump presidency may set science back and may be the time ripple that stops breakthroughs in time travel altogether  (or clean energy, clean water, clean air).  Our future selves are the most at risk from this Presidency and Congress. Either they couldn’t come or they failed in their mission. So we head to D.C. on a bus filled with women (see Why Women’s Rights are Human Rights)  as I write this…to be seen, to protest, to inspire and be inspired. To begin. After all, we are traveling through time just now, not just Illinois. And tomorrow we are our future selves. So we time travelers can still do something about it.

As we consider the future, let’s remember wisdom from the past. I invite you to read these telling quotes ( http://www.notable-quotes.com/a/addams_jane.html) from social justice reformer, Jane Addams.

What Would MLK Do? Or Maybe Even Popovic? Or You?

As we commemorate Martin Luther King Jr., let us consider what he would do if faced with our current political situation. I invite you to read this terrific article from CNN, “How MLK Can Get You Out of Your Trump Slump.

I am also currently reading Blueprint for Revolution, gifted to me for Christmas. This book by modern revolutionary Srdja Popovic, reminds us to use fun and engaging methods to build support and move people. His book cover elaborates: “How to use rice pudding, Lego men and other nonviolent techniques to galvanize communities, overthrow dictators, or simply change the world.”

Organizing around a cause gives us unprecedented opportunitites to engage with vibrant ideas and people. Let’s make this time in our lives transcend the unproductive anger or depressive apathy that is still pervasive post election.

One quirky thing I have been doing, which has been a hoot and lifts my spirits, is that every time I get a sales call I ask, “what state are you calling from?” and something like “what are the politics like in your state?” Charities know better than to advocate politics, but even with them I say, “before you finish your piece, I would like you to hear mine,” and I ask them to register to vote, to make sure their friends register to vote, and to read multiple news sources before they make up their mind about news. This started when I felt helpless in my “blue state” about being able to connect with people in “red states”, until it occured to me that sometimes they are coming to me! Not a single person has taken offense and some folks have said some amazing things.

So what are you reading or doing that is giving you a lift? Please share your ideas.

Be Brave, Fellow Patriots

Be Brave Fellow Patriots,

On the first day of the 115th Congress, Republicans sought less accountability to the people, by proposing to gut the bi-partisan ethics committee.

On that same day Republicans resurrected an old procedural rule (Holman Rule) which would help them intimidate individual members of the non-partisan civil service. This rule would be an authoritarian tool considering the current political climate, and comes not long after the startling and unprecedented request by President-Elect’s transition team to receive a list of individuals in the administration who supported science on climate change.

Before that the President-Elect was already showing unethical corrupt behavior which has tainted his presidential transition efforts. If we were to measure Trump by his own yardstick, and what he falsely accused Hillary of, and what he is actually doing, he “would be in jail!” by now. Yet he holds himself above the law as an individual, as a President-Elect, and most likely will as a President.

And before that Trump showed deference toward Russia and consistently denied Russian cyberattacks and their misinformation campaign against the U.S. Even now he continues to deny the facts despite our own military and intelligence reports, and our ally reports, and he refuses to defend our country against its enemies.

While our President-Elect is trying to ingratiate himself with enemies who are not trustworthy, he seems to be striving to make new enemies out of allies, trading partners, and friends.

Add to all this the fact that most of Trump’s cabinet picks are foxes in charge of hen houses, ready to dismantle Congressionally-authorized departments. And they come with a slew of conflicts of interest which are difficult to ignore or disentangle, so much in fact that Newt Gingrich has suggested that to legally avoid his Cabinet’s conflicts of interest, Trump could pardon Cabinet members along the way. This is gangster rule.

Consider the threat to our Constitution by Trump–his policies, cabinet choices and rhetoric–in stark contrast to his oft-stated campaign promise to uphold the Constitution.

Add to all this the poisoned well effect of Trump’s leadership toward racism, sexism, xenophobia which has stirred the pot of discord between American citizens causing hate crimes to increase.

Republicans do not yet have all branches of government under their control, and Trump is not yet sworn in, and yet they are already wreaking havoc with American values and real outcomes for us all.

So what can we do? First we have to be brave and recognize that taking steps to speak out is being patriotic On this momentous occasion commemorating the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., let us remember what organized, peaceful demonstration, and sustained legal action and strategy, can achieve.

 

Selling off the North Pole. The Ghost of Christmas Past (or Future?)

You might think from the headline that I am about to write about how Russia is racing to own the Arctic, and how Rex Tillerson is chummy with Russia (Tillerson is currently testifying in confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State), or even how Trump denies climate change and has chosen cabinet picks, Scott Pruitt and Rick Perry, who are also climate deniers

Alas no. At dinner my kids wanted to know if internet hype was true about Trump’s press conference yesterday….Did Trump try to pass off a mound of blank papers as evidence that he has been hard at work in distancing himself from his businesses?  So of course we visited Snopes.com who neither denies nor confirms the allegation, listing it as “unproven”.

But here is the funny thing…there was another Snopes article about a 1950’s TV series Trackdown (S1, E30) with a snake oil salesman named Trump (WATCH THE CLIP) who tried to convince the town to “build a wall” to protect itself, saying “I alone can help” and warning how “a big lie can turn people into kids”, easy to manipulate. Wow.

And this reminded me that during Christmas, there was a random TV movie, Twice Upon a Christmas (2001) airing about how Santa’s wicked daughter was slyly selling off pieces of the North Pole and plotting to sell the land to, you got it, Donald Trump, who planned to score with a new casino and hotel. Naturally this was killing off the Christmas Spirit and the good daughter had to fight to bring the Christmas Spirit back again.

So even if people don’t read professional newspapers, they watch movies, right? Granted this was a bad movie, but we’ve got plenty of classics like A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version is my favorite) and It’s a Wonderful Life to remind us that extremely wealthy people can be greedy, mean, and power hungry. Don’t put them in charge of your policies and freedoms!

But back to the North Pole, because this all ties together…Trump’s parlor trick with the files (a confidence man maneuver) reminds us that he has too much in common with the snake oil salesman from the the 1950’s TV show. Also, his law firm (coincidence or not) serves to remind us that Trump is too cozy with Russia and big oil interests. Trump’s lawyer who spoke at his press conference comes from a law firm whose Russian office was named as Russia’s top law firm last year, not surprisingly specializing in energy and banking. Trump is doubling down on fossil fuels (not modern alternative energy).

At this point, Trump already put a damper on the Christmas Spirit of 2016. How long before his policies destroy the environment, kill our crops, and cause economic disaster and human suffering. I want policy-makers who are concerned with Christmas Future.

President Obama’s Farewell Sparks our Democracy Hello

This evening’s Presidential Farewell Address by President Barack Obama reminds us that democracy requires each of us to participate. For the moment, I think that means paying attention to the confirmation hearings for every single cabinet pick and writing to our Senators and talking to our friends and neighbors about them. I invite you to start by reading and sharing these many (too many) good reasons to oppose the appointment of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General written by one of the 1,400 law professors nationwide who warn of his appointment.

 

 

Why Women’s Rights are Human Rights

Happy New Year! I am feeling better than ever after a fantastic holiday visit with twin baby nephews, sisters, and Vegas performers. Now I am looking forward to the March for Women in Washington, January 21, to which my 13-year old son will accompany me. Are you going or someone you know, take this 30 second headcount survey.

Why do I march? Because marching unites us and is good for democracy. Because even though I have a special love for men (Hi Honey and boys!), I genuinely like women. Because I laughed out loud all four times I saw the Ghostbusters reboot (that’s right…I got the eighties jokes, and I enjoy female banter, and I appreciated the irony of gender role reversal). But most of all I march because standing up for one marginalized group means standing up for all of them, all of us.

How we treat women in any given society is a litmus test for how civilized, fair and advanced that society is. But make no mistake, when I march for women I am also marching for minorities, and men, and the rust belt, because all of us take turns being down and out (some of us just spend longer in the down and out position than others). At the end of the day, sexual harassment/discrimination, racism, nationalism, etc. all stem from the same roots: power, abuse of power, and how to divvy resources to maintain power.  It’s about getting away with it simply because you can, and about dividing people to make it easier to control them, and about limiting resources to some in order to enrich yourself.

When people abuse power, they no longer deserve power. No matter if it is in the locker room, the bus, the classroom, the workplace, or our Nation’s top leadership.

Republicans abused their power then they made their pact in 2008 to oppose Obama every step of the way, even when they agreed with him, even when it was best for the country to agree with him; their sole purpose was to “get back in power”, (seeking absolute power) not to use their power for the good of the country by doing the hard work of compromise. And Trump abuses his power almost daily with lying, irresponsible, reckless, and unethically self-enriching tweets.

So I will don my knitted pussy hat (gift from a dear friend) as we stand indivisible and march for all of us.