Recognition of African-American Women in 1960s long overdue

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Now, as Black History Month begins, is an ideal time to celebrate the heroism of the largely unsung African-American women who put their lives on the line, fighting next to their men.

Few of the women activists in Martin Luther King’s day—women whose zeal and courage matched his—earned lasting fame. In the 1960s, women’s voices didn’t carry very far, despite the fact that their activism was critical to the movement. The resounding chorus of men, few of whom realized or acknowledged the intelligence and dedication of the black and white women who worked and protested alongside them, all but drowned them out. Of those women, only Daisy Bates, who spearheaded the desegregation of the Little Rock Schools, spoke at the rally that concluded the famous 1963 March on Washington.

A half-century later, black and white women organized massively: On January 21, 2017, hundreds of thousands of women marched not only in Washington, but in cities and towns across the U.S. Their voices reverberated throughout the world.

Here are some of the African-American women of the 60s whose stories must be told again: Continue reading

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Don’t like the direction the government is heading? Then DO SOMETHING

Do SOMETHING… Do What You Can, but do what works mostly… This is very helpful guidance from a high-level staffer for a Senator:
You should NOT be bothering with online petitions or emailing.
Online contact basically gets immediately ignored, and letters pretty much get thrown in the trash unless you have a particularly strong emotional story – but even then it’s not worth the time it took you to craft that letter.
There are 2 things that all Democrats should be doing all the time right now, and they’re by far the most important things:

1. The best thing you can do to be heard and get your congressperson to pay attention is to have face-to-face time – if they have townhalls, go to them. Go to their local offices. If you’re in DC, try to find a way to go to an event of theirs. Go to the “mobile offices” that their staff hold periodically (all these times are located on each congressperson’s website). When you go, ask questions. A lot of them. And push for answers. The louder and more vocal and present you can be at those the better.

2. But, those in-person events don’t happen every day. So, the absolute most important thing that people should be doing every day is calling.
You should make 6 calls a day (yup. SIX): 2 each (DC office and your local office) to your 2 Senators & your 1 Representative.
Calls are what all the congresspeople pay attention to. Every single day, the Senior Staff and the Senator get a report of the 3 most-called-about topics for that day at each of their offices (in DC and local offices), and exactly how many people said what about each of those topics. They’re also sorted by zip code and area code.
And this is IMPORTANT:
She said Republican callers generally outnumber Democrat callers 4-1, and when it’s a particular issue that single-issue-voters pay attention to (like gun control, or planned parenthood funding, etc…), it’s often closer to 11-1, and that has recently pushed Republican congressfolks on the fence to vote with the Republicans. In the last 8 years, Republicans have called, and Democrats have not.
SO, WHEN YOU CALL:

A) When calling the DC office, ask for the Staff member in charge of whatever you’re calling about (“Hi, I’d like to speak with the staffer in charge of Healthcare, please”). Local offices won’t always have specific ones, but they might. If you get transferred to that person, awesome. If you don’t, that’s ok – ask for their name, and then just keep talking to whoever answered the phone. Don’t leave a message (unless the office doesn’t pick up at all – then you can…but it’s better to talk to the staffer who first answered than leave a message for the specific staffer in charge of your topic).
B) Give them your zip code. They won’t always ask for it, but make sure you give it to them, so they can mark it down. Extra points if you live in a zip code that traditionally votes for them, since they’ll want to make sure they get/keep your vote.
C) If you can make it personal, make it personal. “I voted for you in the last election and I’m worried/happy/whatever” or “I’m a teacher, and I am appalled by Betsy DeVos,” or “as a single mother” or “as a white, middle class woman,” or whatever.
D) Pick 1-2 specific things per day to focus on. Don’t go down a whole list – they’re figuring out what 1-2 topics to mark you down for on their lists, so, focus on 1-2 per day. Ideally something that will be voted on/taken up in the next few days, but it doesn’t really matter…even if there’s not a vote coming up in the next week, call anyway. It’s important that they just keep getting calls.
E) Be clear on what you want – “I’m disappointed that the Senator…” or “I want to thank the Senator for their vote on…” or “I want the Senator to know that voting in _____ way is the wrong decision for our state because…” Don’t leave any ambiguity.
F) They may get to know your voice/get sick of you – it doesn’t matter. The people answering the phones generally turn over every 6 weeks anyway, so even if they’re really sick of you, they’ll be gone in 6 weeks.
From experience since the election: If you hate being on the phone & feel awkward, don’t worry…there are a bunch of scripts (Indivisible has some). After a few days of calling, it starts to feel a lot more natural. Put the 6 numbers in your phone all under Politician, which makes it really easy to tap down the list each day!
Now go get ’em!!
ps – please COPY/PASTE/POST vs Share – it will be visible to more people – thanks)

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Is anybody home? The Department of State– what’s left of it

dostateThis is a diagram of the seniormost staff of the Department of State. Blue X’s are unfilled positions; red X’s are positions which were purged. Note that the “filled” positions are not actually confirmed yet. (From Trial balloon for a coup?) The reproduction is pretty bad, but you can see how many positions remain vacant.

Will Kim Jong Un decide to send an explosive ambassador? What about the minor players who have severely injured us in the past?

Trump has stripped the major agencies of the people at the top who make decisions. He fired the Acting Attorney General for overruling his immigration order. The rule of law is under siege. We are truly in uncharted territory.

It’s not looking good.

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Is impeachment the only way to depose Trump?

trumplisteningThe chaos of the first eight days of the Trump presidency is not especially surprising. The transition exposed his complete ignorance about the complexity of the president’s job and worse, his admitted disinterest in learning the ropes and studying the briefing books that Obama’s staff had prepared for him. Trump refuses to read the all-important President’s Daily Briefing (PDB), a highly classified document with critical information about national security. It’s too long for his taste. “I like bullets or I like as little as possible,” he said. Ideally, he’d like a single page with bullet points. Breezily he continued, “I don’t have to be told – you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years.” Trump prefers to watch the news on television, preferably Fox News. A White House aide told Politico that the president gets bored and likes to watch TV.

Perhaps Trump gets bored because he is so out of his depth. He has no inkling of the conventions and accords that have been agreed upon by allies and adversaries after extensive negotiation. He denigrated NATO, seemingly ready to trash the mutual defense treaty in effect since the Cold War. Today German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to explain to Trump that the Geneva Convention requires the international community take in war refugees. She “regrets” Trump’s decision to ban refugees and immigrants from certain countries. In an interview with ABC News two days days earlier, Trump casually opined that the US should have essentially s.tolen Iraqi oil after the war. “We should have taken the oil. You wouldn’t have ISIS if we took the oil.” When interviewer David Muir countered that critics said that would have been a violation of international law, Trump responded, “Who are the critics who say that? Fools.”

Examples abound of Trump’s ignorance of domestic and international law and his willingness to flout them. What is to be done?

The Constitution provides for the removal of a president for treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors, but we’re not quite there yet. Impeachment and trial in the Senate can be a lengthy process.

There is, however, another avenue in the Constitution to remove a president from office. Article 4 of the 25th Amendment provides for a transfer of power to the vice president if the president is incapacitated. The hitch, and it’s a big one in this case, is that “the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” are the ones to determine “that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” Republicans will have that power for at least the next two years, so President Trump would have to transgress in especially egregious ways to persuade the party elders that his position was untenable. Of course, in this case, the vice president might be less than reluctant to assume the highest post in the land.

There are some rumblings, even now. A few Republicans are starting to chafe. Trump’s tactics are “unconventional at best and disastrous at worst,” said Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina. “These distractions have the capacity to sink his entire administration, and they’re not representative of the quite serious people he’s assembled.”

Stay tuned.

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Democracy lives!

 

Anti-Trump protesters flood O'Hare Terminal 5 on Saturday. | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

Anti-Trump protesters flood O’Hare Terminal 5 on Saturday. | Matthew Hendrickson/Sun-Times

Gloomily pessimistic, I shuddered with each blast in the fusillade of Trump’s executive orders. It is happening so fast, I thought, as Trump defunded, gagged and paralyzed one essential agency or program after another.

But people reacted. They resisted, protested, called their members of congress and demanded to be heard. The Women’s March was larger than any demonstration in history, drawing millions of people into the streets, united in their opposition to the increasingly unpopular demagogue.

On Friday Trump shocked and infuriated all Americans who are proud to be a nation of immigrants. We refused to target and reject our neighbors. It was Holocaust Remembrance Day, and Trump decreed that the US would not admit Syrian refugees. Families who had survived the carnage were already en route to asylum and new lives. Instead, they were detained upon arrival, sequestered for hours in windowless rooms.

Protesters streamed to the airports, chanting and carrying defiant signs. The ACLU and lawyers from big law firms and small descended on the federal court. By Saturday afternoon they succeeded in trumping the despot by obtaining a temporary stay that allowed the release of the detainees.

In Boston, Mayor Marty Walsh defied the president. Not only did he refuse to aid the feds in rounding up undocumented residents, he offered to shelter them in City Hall as long as they were afraid and subject to deportation. Mayors in other sanctuary cities united in opposition to Trump and defense of their people.

Now I see the resilience of American democracy. It has taken the darkness of a fascist cloud to rouse its citizens from decades of apathy. Today I am much more hopeful and confident that we will counter and deter the megalomaniac who has managed to diminish America’s greatness in less than a week.

Make America great again? Trump has no idea what makes America great, but he’s about to find out.

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Women united to fight for rights

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Streaming to march into Manhattan

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Forty-second St. and Park Ave.

The day after President Trump’s inauguration wasn’t an especially beautiful day in New York City, but it was perfect for marching: not too cold, not too hot, cloudy but not rainy.

And march New Yorkers did— hundreds of thousands of women and men and children filled the streets and sidewalks, marching from the United Nations by the East River to Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue. They marched in solidarity with their sisters in the original Women’s March on Washington. The New York demonstration was one of the Sister Marches throughout the country. In all, an estimated 3.3 million people took part. They gathered support from every continent as women all over the world marched with them.

In midtown Manhattan, streets were spilling over with people who could barely move. The subways were teeming with rivers of humanity. When they finally reached the street above, they found a wall of marchers. On 42nd Street, it took 10 minutes to wade through and cross to the other side, one hour to advance one block. But no one complained. Courtesy and friendliness prevailed. The sense of community pervaded the throng because all were committed to the same goal: to hold on to the hard-won gains made in the last six decades. They carried signs that championed civil rights, women’s rights, healthcare and reproductive rights. A concern about climate change was another common theme, and politics was everywhere. The new president is not popular and that was reflected in most of the signs.

I asked psychotherapist and artist Judy Warren why she was marching. “Because I have to,” she answered. “Everything in me makes me do this because I am so dismayed and disheartened at what has happened in this election and the kinds of things that Donald Trump stands for. They are so opposed to all my values— values of equality, freedom and caring that Obama represented.” Continue reading

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Time to stand up!

indivisiblecoverI know, it is very hard to accept that the Orange Menace will hold the U.S. and a good part of the world in his tiny hands in just three days. But accept we must, so it is incumbent on anyone with something to lose to fight back instead.

There have been some excellent articles recently that explain how to do just that. Demonstrating, marching, writing blog posts are fine, but they are not enough. Everyone has to do something — volunteer, raise money for causes you believe in, speak out at community meetings — get involved and involve your friends.

“Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda” was written by congressional staffers who know the ropes. “Indivisible” shows the most effective ways to make your voice heard by your representatives in Congress. If you are frustrated and angry but don’t know what to do, then check out the booklet, read online or download and get going!

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