Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WHY WOMEN MUST SAVE AMERICA

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 "Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul." 
- Coretta Scott King

America ranks 101st globally in the percentage of women in legislature. 
Let me repeat this: ONE HUNDRED COUNTRIES IN THE WORLD SURPASS US in women representing our government. A man who brags that he can grab women by the pussy and can do “anything he wants” to them, is now our President, and the GOP Senate Majority leader feels emboldened to shut Elizabeth Warren down for reading the words of Coretta Scott King. 

Steve Bannon, the President’s chief strategist, was chief executive of Breitbart.com the alt-right website (that calls itself a news organization) that consistently belittles and attempts to disempower women. 

Check out a few of the articles Breitbart has published in the last year or so:

“THE SOLUTION TO ONLINE HARASSMENT IS SIMPLE: WOMEN SHOULD LOG OFF” (http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/07/05/solution-online-harassment-simple-women-log-off/)
Here’s a brief quote from that one: “Given that men built the internet, along with the rest of modern civilisation, I think it’s only fair that they get to keep it. And given what a miserable time women are having on the web, surely they would welcome an abrupt exit. They could go back to bridge tournaments, or wellness workshops, or swapping apple crumble recipes, or whatever it is women do in their spare time. I, Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining. It will be fun! Like a big fraternity, with jokes and memes and no more worrying about whether an off-colour but harmless remark will suddenly torpedo your career.”

“HERE’S WHY THERE OUGHT TO BE A CAP ON WOMEN STUDYING SCIENCE AND MATH” http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/15/heres-why-there-ought-to-be-a-cap-on-women-studying-science-and-maths/ This “article” says that women just can’t cut it in highly competitive fields, and can never make up their minds.

“BIRTH CONTROL MAKES WOMEN UNATTRACTIVE AND CRAZY”
This piece says that the pill alters women’s bodies so that they don’t “jiggle” in the right way to attract men, gives women cottage cheese thighs, and makes women sluts. http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2015/12/08/birth-control-makes-women-unattractive-and-crazy/

Trump and Bannon are planning a complete takedown of our current government, and you can guess what that means for women. If you notice, WOMEN are the ones standing up to Trump and his regime. Attorney General Sally Yates. Ann M. Donnelly – the 1st New York judge to stand up against the Muslim ban. Elizabeth Warren. Nancy Pelosi. 

If the Senate and House were 51% women, we wouldn't be in this mess. We wouldn't be shut down on the Senate floor, our reproductive rights wouldn't be threatened, the ERA would have already been passed, we wouldn't allow Trump's regime to wipe out all federal programs for victims of domestic violence (they just eliminated all) and women would finally receive equal pay.

EMERGE is an organization that trains women how to run for office. http://www.emergeamerica.org/ There are over 500,000 elected positions in the US. Many of them are small and local, and that’s where you begin. Find the Emerge chapter in your state. Even if you think you could never run, just attend an event or join a free informational phone call and learn what’s involved. Think you’re not qualified to run for a local position like School Board or City Council? Donald Trump is the leader of the free world. If there’s anything he’s taught us, it’s that anyone, literally anyone, can be President. You can do this.
Here’s an article about newbies who ran for office and won, and how they did it; http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/01/i_ran_for_office_and_won_here_s_how.html

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Put your broken heart aside and #RESIST


Have you ever heard of the term "MORAL INJURY"?  This happens when what you believed about the world turns out not to be true. I learned this term recently at the Women Against Gun Violence Firearms Suicide Summit. A military psychiatrist explained it to us, and told us it’s the number one reason Veterans commit suicide.

Moral injury is what many of us are experiencing right now. We lived through, or saw what our parents and grandparents lived through with World War II and Vietnam and the long hard struggle for civil rights. We were grateful those times were behind us, that we could learn from them and never repeat those mistakes again. We lived through 9/11 and Matthew Sheppard and the fight for marriage equality. We worked hard to elect the first African-American President, and were about ready to see another step toward equality in America with the first woman President. We thought there was no stopping the beautiful progress America had made. We were becoming a kinder and more inclusive society. We were evolving!

We slapped our “LOVE TRUMPS HATE” bumper stickers on our cars and planned our victory parties with friends because there was NO WAY a married man who had bragged about grabbing women by the pussy could EVER be elected President. I mean, look what happened to Bill Clinton, right? We laughed at Trump's campaign as we watched it unravel after he insulted Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, veterans. We never, ever believed that anyone, no matter what side of the aisle they were on, could elect such a hateful person – especially a hateful person with absolutely no experience in government, nor any understanding of how our government works. Americans are a good people. The majority will vote the right way. After all, we’ve evolved!

But Republicans voted party over morals. Trump received less votes than Romney, but still got the lion’s share of Republican votes. He won because Democrats – a LOT of them, just didn’t bother to show up. They were sulking. They didn’t like the choices so they decided to sit this one out. I warned, over and over again on social media, that bad politicians are elected by good people who don’t vote. And it happened. President Obama reflected what we aspired to be, but Trump reflects back to us what we’ve become.

So now we are faced with the consequences. We are shocked and in mourning. We didn’t unite against hate and misogyny, and now it is being visited upon us. The President of the most powerful nation in the world is a self-deluded narcissist who knows less than nothing about foreign policy and how the government works. A white supremacist has been chosen as the President’s top advisor. A climate change denier has been chosen to head up the Environmental Protection Agency. Ben Carson, who claimed that homosexuality is a choice and evolution is an idea encouraged by the devil, is in charge of HUD. The GOP has the steering wheel for all three branches of government, and the NRA was just thrown the keys to the car. You think you’re hurting? Our children are the ones who will suffer most for our mistakes.

Yes, we are suffering our moral injury, but there’s no time for hand-wringing. Rome is burning and we’ve got shit to do. We’ve got two years until midterm elections- you know, those elections that Democrats never show up for? These are the elections when Congress is elected. You better work like you never have to make sure every person you know gets to the polls. You better work harder than you knew you could to learn the issues and the candidates, and educate those around you. What ever you do, do NOT become lulled into a sense of complacency and delude yourself that everything will turn out okay if we just “give him a chance” and “think positive.” Never before in our nation’s history has a man with NO experience in governing been given the helm of the most powerful country in the world. STAY WOKE, people. Stay woke and get to work.

START LOCAL: Contact the Democratic party in your state, find out what local and statewide elections are coming up and when. Call the campaigns and ask how you can help. http://asdc.democrats.org/state-parties/
STAY WOKE and wake the people around you.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Don't Let Them Take Our Healthcare!

I lived six years without health insurance, due to a pre-existing condition. What was my pre-existing condition? I had seen a therapist for depression and anxiety after my house burned down. Every insurance company denied me, even after I appealed annually and wrote numerous letters to all of the major providers. When I found out I was pregnant with Evan at 41- I had NO INSURANCE. I was incredibly lucky to find a California program that covered pregnant, uninsured women. They paid for my high-risk pregnancy and emergency cesarean delivery. Many other women, in other, less progressive states, will not be so lucky. 

I turned to Planned Parenthood for my annual checkups and breast exams during those six long years that no one would insure me. I would have had NO health care at all if it were not for Planned Parenthood. I watched a documentary on how many homeless women and mothers there are in the US. Many of them have become homeless after being bankrupted by medical bills. If, during these 6 years, I had been hit by a car, or gotten cancer, I would have lost everything. My job, my house, all my savings. I could have been homeless.

Last night, while we slept, the Republican Senate voted 51 - 48 to:
1. To end coverage for pre-existing conditions, veterans benefits, and aid to rural hospitals. (50 miles to an ER rural voters)
2. To remove discrimination protection for women in healthcare.
3. Against the provision allowing children to remain on their parent's insurance till the age of 26.
4. To cut off funding for the Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
5. Against ACA contraceptive coverage and maternity care provision.
6. To direct committees to send budget legislation to defund and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

And by the way, they also voted to defund Planned Parenthood.
The house votes on Friday, January 13.

And for those of you who get health insurance through work, no pre-existing conditions,  and lifetime caps for coverage are back for everyone.

How can GOP representatives defend being the party of American values when they strip Americans of life-saving healthcare?  My Facebook feed today is filled with posts of friends who are cancer survivors, who have mental health struggles, who have sick children and spouses, all who will be denied healthcare for having a "pre-existing" condition. Some who will die if denied their expensive medications. CALL YOUR HOUSE REP NOW! They vote tomorrow to repeal the ACA. Tell them what this means for you!  (202)225-3121

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sifting Through the Rubble



Lately, I've been sifting through the rubble of what was my former optimistic self, trying to figure out what to make of what I'm filled with since the election, which is mostly this: pain and suffering and despair.

Pain is real, and should be acknowledged. Pain tells me to pull my hand out of the fire. Pain tells me to do something...NOW. Pain should be acted upon.

Suffering is self-created: a choice. Suffering happens when I resist what is. Suffering isn't noble. It doesn’t help me, and it doesn’t help anyone around me. Suffering keeps me trapped in pain.
 
Despair is when I search outside myself for hope and, finding none, I believe that hope doesn't exist. Despair isn't real.

So here's what I make of these messy emotions: We are entering a dark era. The only way I get through this is to ditch the suffering and despair, and act on the pain. I can't look for someone else to save me. I've got to find hope inside of myself first, and let it build. I have to connect to every other flicker of hope I find, and create networks of hope. I have to appreciate every tiny beautiful moment; a cat sleeping in my lap, a kind word from a stranger, an extraordinary sunset...and let those tiny moments carry me until the rest of the world reflects light again.


The light will return. Maybe not now, maybe not soon...but it will return. That much I know.
It returns, because we create it. 

DARKNESS DEFINES THE LIGHT


“Darkness defines the light.” That’s what my yoga/meditation teacher Kristen Eykel said, as we engaged in a deep discussion after a group meditation this morning. The darkness that is sweeping the country and the world right now is defining a message for us: RISE.

I woke up today, like every day since the election, with a feeling of dread in my stomach. I've been miserable and short-tempered, and not much fun to live with, even though i meditate and do yoga and I try, really try, to be positive. But today, I think I finally figured out why I can't shake this awful feeling; I am changing. Life is changing me and change is fucking painful -- it just is. I wrote about this in Fire Season. When a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly, it's an ugly affair. Before the butterfly can form, the caterpillar must first completely liquefy inside the chrysalis, becoming what my friend Lyena Strelkoff termed "caterpillar soup." So maybe that's where a lot of us are at right now. We are lying on the floor in a puddle, beat down by life, caterpillar soup -- and that's okay. It's a stage, a step on the ladder of metamorphosis. 

My brilliant friend Lyena had this to say on the subject, "The only way to become more than we were (plus it's the fastest way out of the soup) is to surrender to dissolving. The more we deny how we feel, the more we try to run away from it, cover it up, try to shove ourselves prematurely out of the chrysalis with inauthentic gratitude or positivity, the longer the process will take and the more likely we'll get stuck there. 'Who am I willing to become?' --that's the only question I have to ask. And then let the process of becoming take its (uncomfortable, miserable at times) course. Adversity sucks. But adversity of any kind, personal, professional, communal, global, is always presenting us with the opportunity to become more than we've ever been. The thing is, we have to say yes. And if we don't, then adversity only sucks."

If there’s any silver lining behind these shitstorm clouds, it’s that people are beginning to wake up and answer the call of their higher selves. Human rights, equality, and basic goodness are not granted to us. We are the ones who work to make these things a reality. So how do we do it while the bad news is pummeling us, daily? There is so much: the environment, women's health, defending the marginalized, protecting journalism and the truth. Each of has to decide what our personal activism will be, and then take action. Some of us are warriors who will march, some of us are surgeons who will actively cut the cancer out of this country through legislation, some of us are seamstresses who will stitch the fabric of our society back together, some of us are wordsmiths who will renew the troops with hope and direction, some of us are healers who will hold up the wounded. We all have a role. 

And when we finally pull ourselves out of the soup, when we finally rise, we have to become more than we ever knew we could be. We have to look ourselves in the mirror and say, "I am willing to step into my full potential and own my power."  We have to shine brighter, be bigger, be more than we were before. What other choice is there?

 One thing is certain: the time for hand-wringing is over. All hands on deck. 
 RISE.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Don't Tell Me To Get Over It



DON'T TELL ME TO GET OVER IT.
Not since George Wallace has a Presidential candidate run on a platform of hate and divisiveness. (The difference? Wallace didn’t win. We must have been a more tolerant nation in the sixties.) If you voted for Trump, regardless of your reasons, you put the stamp of approval on his hate, bigotry, xenophobia and misogyny. You sent a message around the world that this is our American value system.

I will be ashamed when I travel next month, when people in other countries eye me with suspicion and fear. As I walked into my son’s school yesterday, I looked at the other parents and wondered, are you one of the people who outwardly smiled and feigned tolerance, but privately endorsed this candidate of hate? And then dread gripped my stomach when I realized that people of color are probably looking at me because I am white, and wondering the same thing. I want to tattoo my forehead “I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM! I LOVE YOU!” Trump politics have set up a horrific scenario where we can no longer trust one another. So no, I can’t get over it. And neither can you. It’s going to take a long, long time before our country can repair the damage he has done.


DON'T TELL ME NOT TO PROTEST.
Protest is an American right, protected by our Constitution.
I am sickened by the posts on social media calling the protesters “idiots,” calling their marches “pointless.” I suppose they’d have said the same about the march on Selma, or the march against the Vietnam war. This country was founded by protest. Ever heard of the Boston Tea Party? Or the American Revolution? Before you start calling protesters “idiots,” go back and study American history and the Constitution you claim to love so much, and then tell me who’s the idiot.


DON'T TELL ME THIS IS DEMOCRACY.
Webster’s defines Democracy as “control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.” The majority of Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. She, like Gore in 2000, won the popular vote but lost the election. In any other Democracy around the world, Clinton would be our nation’s leader. It’s time to overturn the Electoral College and let our country be a true democracy where the majority of Americans decide who will lead them.


DON'T TELL ME TO CHEER UP.
There is no bright side to bigotry and hate. There is no upside to misogyny. There is no “making the best of” xenophobia. I may not be the silver lining person you’ve come to know, not for a while anyway. My faith in America has been shattered and I am grieving. I may not cheer up for a long, long time. Maybe four years. But as each day passes, I am gathering my resolve, and my strength, and my voice. You’ll probably be hearing a lot from me over the next few years. It may not be cheerful, but it will be loud.


DON'T TELL ME HE'S MY PRESIDENT.
I didn’t vote for him. He is unqualified, undignified, unhinged, and represents the antithesis of American values.
He is #NotMyPresident.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

What's happened to political decency?

I'm horrified by what I'm seeing in this Presidential election season. We have lost all decency and decorum. I remember back when America was appalled that Dan Quayle misspelled the word potato. People couldn't believe that a man who couldn't spell was Vice President of the United States. But now, America holds ignorance up like it's a virtue.

During the debate, I watched Donald Trump spew unintelligible rants about Russia and Syria, proving he knows nothing about the world or foreign policy. And yet his followers cheer for him and the talking heads say he did well in the debate. 

I remember when it was unconscionable to call someone a liar, back when the most shocking thing said during a debate was "Senator, you are no Jack Kennedy." Donald Trump has dragged our political system into the gutter, pointing his finger in Secretary Clinton's face and calling her a liar, calling her the Devil, saying she has a heart filled with hate, saying he will throw her in jail while his supporters jeer and holler. And the talking heads praised him for ending the debate by saying she was a fighter, as if that somehow made him a gentleman. Trump has turned this campaign season into a dystopian reality show. Jerry Springer even tweeted that he'd like to have Trump on his show. What an embarrassment we are, in front of the entire world. I am so concerned for our young citizens watching this, worried that they will become calloused and immune to how wrong this is. I hope to God we can find our way back from this dark era. I hope we can return to a two-party system in which our elected officials may not have agreed but they worked together and respected one another. The objective of a two-party system was to discuss our differing ideas and come up with bi-partisan compromises that best serve the people. It was never intended to be a death match.

#ImWithHer