Time is marching along, and so should we…SAVE THE DATES

Do you feel like 2018 is moving fast? Let’s Mark Our Calendars for cool and important dates…

February 28PeristList.org has a bunch of events scheduled tomorrow in Illinois/Chicago. The Attorney General forum is tempting.

March 1 – Eleven Minutes of Silence for eleven million undocumented immigrants. As noted in a prior blog, I want to be in the kind of nation that people yearn to live in. Many cities, including Chicago, are hosting an event this day. Wear black. See details here.

Now in theaters: Black Panther. This (almost) all-black cast delivers stunning performances in this Marvel action movie that mixes moral dilemmas with hints of rebellious humor. This is a game changer, a cultural event. People came out in droves and waited in long lines (even after pre-purchasing their tickets), in order to get good seats. I plan to see it again. P.S. Alex Jones is wrong about parallels to Trumpism, he apparently did not stay for the end-credit scenes or capture the essence of a false and unworthy leader.

March 4 – Meet Daniel Biss, Illinois Gubernatorial candidate this Sunday in Oak Park.  Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the formal invite ($100 per guest, this is a fundraiser). He is our Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; high integrity and for the people. My husband loves this one-minute clip, Biss’s take on the Opioid crisis.

March 4 – Voter Registration deadline online in IllinoisLast day for voters to register to vote through the State Board of Elections website. Ask your friends, neighbors, mail carrier and sales clerks if they are registered to vote! Need help registering?

March 5 – Early Voting in Cook County, IL begins (ends March 19). Check out this nonpartisan resource BallotReady.org to read about every single candidate on the ballot! The CEO of this organization is committed to expanding this site across the country. If your location is not included yet, it will be eventually.

March 8 – International Women’s Day. Last year I invited a group of friends to join me for a tour at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum in Chicago. It felt great honoring a woman of such import and positive impact. This year I suggest we play a game of “count the female statues in your town”…send your results to my comment box! Anyone with over 3 gets special mention. Also see Facts You Should Know about the state of women around the world.

March 20 – Primary Election Day in Illinois. Check out your state and county for details. Explore this cool new resource, BallotReady.org  which will help you find voting locations as well as information about all candidates on the ballot.

March 24 – March for our Lives – Support the youth-inspired movement for sensible gun laws that was born out of reaction to the Parkland, FL school shooting. In Chicago this starts at 11 am, location TBD. Marches are scheduled all over the United States, so search for your city. The primary march is in DC.

April 14 – March for Science – Our family enjoyed this march last year, clever signs, friendly people.

April 22 – Earth Day: End Plastic Pollution. Likely there will be local marches and activities. Stay tuned.

Pick one or many events from this list and let’s have fun as active citizens this month and beyond!

Don’t get distracted, Democracy demands more of us

Must Watch: Vox’s Video on Democracy (5 minutes)
Must Read: America is losing its democratic standing in the world

The irony of it all. Americans are too skeptical when they shouldn’t be, and too trusting when they shouldn’t be. Let’s use our brains, and our own eyes and ears, and get this right.

So remember when President George W. Bush tried to convince Congress and the American people that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and that they were responsible for 9/11? Both were lies with dire consequences, costing thousands of American lives and causing trillions of dollars of debt that continues to plague and restrict our nation’s economic freedom and spending choices. Well, gullible folks who trusted that “the president knows more than I do” allowed that debacle. My response at the time was,  “In our democratic process Congress declares war, not the President, for the very reason that we need our people to have true facts we can clearly articulate as to why our people need to risk our lives in a war.” Recall that Bush’s White House even went so far as to reveal the secret identity of a covert CIA agent in order to chill any of them from bringing forward facts that would belie the lie. The lies scarred our democratic profile and made Marks of the people who trust authority figures without question. (See a well-written update since this blog was posted on Bush years

Now we have Republicans in Congress attempting to stifle a critical investigation into how Russia attacked our democracy, possibly with help from American traitors. Their line of attack is to make us question everything, take words out of context, and to invent a new false adversary in the form of an FBI deep state with the Nunes Memo. Instead of questioning the president whose public behaviors and decisions naturally invite formal investigation, they ask us to presume conspiracies where no evidence exists to suggest private opinions influenced professional judgment.  They are willing to release classified information to wage a misinformation campaign. They are injecting free-floating paranoia about our American institutions even though those  institutions are currently our best hope to restore law and order and protect our democracy. (See an update, since this blog was posted, about the Democratic memo authored and released in response to the flawed and misleading Nunes memo)

If you’ve been paying attention to public behaviors and actions, you will not be fooled.

Fact #1: Russia is a known adversary to U.S. interests. Recently Russia cyber-attacked 20+ state voter registration databases, paid hackers and trolls to con Americans (including targeting U.S. military families), through misinformation campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and other social media, and backed the theft and release of DNC emails. Recall that Watergate was about theft of information from the DNC office.

Fact #2: Trump and his team are violating U.S. law right now to avoid enforcing sanctions on Russia that were voted overwhelmingly into law by all but five members of the House and Senate (and reluctantly signed into law by Trump) last July. This is a Constitutional crisis!

Fact #3: Trump met with three Russian spy chiefs in the White House a couple of days before deciding not to enforce the sanctions last week. One of those leaders is not even allowed into our country. Our press corps were not told of this important meeting. We only learned of it through Russian press. So much for freedom of the press in America.

Fact #4:  Trump has been praising Putin at every turn as both candidate and President. This was really odd in the presidential debates. Recall also that the single change made to the Republican platform upon Trump’s nomination by the Republican party was a more pro-Russian stance with regard to Ukraine.

Fact #5: Trump filled his inner circle with Russian-connected people from the start, many of whom have since pled guilty or otherwise been indicted for acting as foreign agents in connection with Russia or Russian-backed Ukraine. (Flynn, Manafort, Page, Papadapolous). Yet remember how Trump insisted repeatedly that he had no connections with Russia? No meetings with Russia? And yet even is own son and son-in-law (Donald Jr and Kushner) have had meetings with the Russians which they had kept secret. Furthermore, Russian money may have been behind the dark money that funded Trump’s campaign with a $30 million gift out of the NRA.  Also, Russian money-laundering may have buoyed the Trump Organization through economic hard times when U.S. banks would not lend to Trump anymore.

Fact #6: Trump has repeatedly expressed desire and taken steps to cut short the investigation into Russian wrongdoing. His actions may indeed amount to obstruction of justice. A full and proper investigation is needed.

We don’t need imagination and speculative conspiracy theories to see what is right in front of us. The investigation into Russia’s dealings with Trump, far from being illegitimate, is essential to restoring law and order and restoring America’s democratic standing in the world.

What can you do? Write to your U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative to request they continue to support committee investigations and the investigation of the special prosecutor.

 

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