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Monday, January 23, 2017

MARCO, ARE YOU LISTENING?

MARCO, ARE YOU LISTENING?

      I woke up in our nation’s capitol this morning and asked my wife, "How shall we spend our last morning here?  We discussed museum possibilities as we drank coffee and perused The Washington Post.This headline caught her eye,

It said that Marco Rubio was the sole Senator threatening to block Rex Tillerson’s nomination to be our country’s secretary-of-state.  

    We found that refreshing. We don’t need Exxon’s president filling this important post. We need another John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, someone with experience in governmental foreign affairs.  
Maybe Florida’s Senator knows that. Maybe he is becoming a more independen, strong, political leader for a change.
    Were we reading about a New Marco? A Republican that actually found fault with Russia’s attempt to  taking over our country from the inside?  Someone rejecting Tillerson because he might hand Ruskis our front door key?
   For the a last two weeks in committee hearings Rubio had been asking the oil zillionaire tough questions. He had accused Tillerson of having a serious bromance with Vladimir Putin, and like our new President, harboring doubts about what Russia did to give Trump the presidency.
These issues are huge, they threaten our country’s very existance, and now, The Former Little Marco was Big, A manly man leading the charge.
     Museums could wait.  We were in Washington and decided to pay Marco a visit. We had been in the fantastic Women’s March on Washington two days ago and today, we had a chance to support Marco, defeat the God of Exxon (Vladimir’s best buddy) and in the process, possibly save America.
Some weekend this turned out to be.
   Bundled up for freezing rain we headed to the Senate Office Building. I’d never been there before and very much enjoyed just being inside. There are a hundred offices, I guess, as there are that many Senators. Each had the Senator’s name and the state represented on a bronze plaque next to the door  One had an additional one which read, “Former Office of Senator Harry Truman”. 

     Most doors were open and I waved at each senatorial desk jockey that I saw. I’m a gregarious person, I wanted to walk in each of them, and their Senators, to and share my political thoughts.
    But today we there to support our re-designed, feisty, Florida Senator.  He and his staff of 18 fill suite 284. and when we walked in one of Marco’s many aides (“Hunter””) greeted us.  As I took this picture, he told me,

“Please don’t take pictures”.  

I thought it was in a pubic place.

  After introductions We told Hunter that we wanted to thank his boss for doing a good job.  The aide nodded then told us his boss was in a meeting.  We then asked to meet with someone who could tell him how proud we are for his tough stance against Tillerson.

   Hunter responded,  “Senator Rubio just released a public statement in which he  supports Mr. Tillerson nomination”.  Our jaws dropped.
    When we asked “Why?”, he handed us that press release that said something like, "I am still the suck up I was a month ago.  I'll do whatever it takes to make myself look temporarily good and the Republican Party a world power, even if we have to share it with Comrade Putin".
    Actually, I didn't read it.  Hunter said the deal was done at four this afternoon, the committee, with a Republican majority, will confirm Tillerson.
We walked away from the wussy Senator's office and back into the freezing rain.  We felt more comfortable there.


adding, “Later today the committee will vote”.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

THE AMAZING WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON

    Francesca and I were two of the thousands who took to the streets on Saturday in Washington, D.C. We were there to resist our country's new President in the "Women's March on Washington". A half-million activists gathered to tell our new leader, "Our numbers are vast and we will resist your evil, divisive agenda".

     By 7 a.m. we were on a subway already stuffed with excited, pink-hatted people heading to the march.               

                                             A colorful group from Gainesville 

 Our first stop was the Library of Congress where Florida's female Democratic congresswomen were hosting a "Breakfast for Florida". When we arrived there were already a thousand in line.
  An hour later we were inside sipping coffee with Debbie Wassermann-Shultz and Florida Senator Bill Nelson. 

The Grove Guy making a fashion statement in his "Protest T with Pussy Hat" outfit. Senator Bill seemed okay with it.


     I told the astronaut senator about our Progessive Miami group and he seemed pleased.
Today we ran into him again at the new African-American museum.  Bill looked like a tourist in his Teach for America jacket.  

    After Breakfast With Bill we hit the crowded streets and headed to the march. Five hundred thousand people did the same thing. At times, we were bunched up like cattle. Thankfully, we were able to slip to the perimeters of the growing multitude every time we got trapped.
     About five percent of the protestors at the Women's March were men. All of us wanted to be near the stage for the rally before the march. We wanted to hear encouraging words from our post-Obama leaders which included Michael Moore and Madonna. 
It was not to be.
    It took an hour of circuitous hiking to get a hundred yards from the rally's stage. Then we discovered, with ten thousand others, we were behind the damn thing. A huge curtain separated us from seeing anything.
   To heck with that. We barely squeezed out of that crowd to make our way to a place where we could see the entertainment.  
   That didn't happen either. There were just too many of us. The stage event was created to serve about 50,000 people and by now, ten times that number were pouring into downtown Washington.

    1,800 buses brought protestors from all over the country.  Forty-eight friends from the Coral Gables' Congregational Church drove 18 hours to experience this historic day.  We never saw them, too crowded.

They'll be back in Miami again this afternoon.


      Missing the rally was unfortunate, we later heard the speakers were terrific (except for Madonna threatening to burn down the White House).  While they were at it we were having our own rally with the colorful people and their signs that surrounded us.
   Our satellite rally was probably just as inspiring as the one we missed. Some of the world's greatest museums were all around us too. If we needed a break we'd step into one and check out the Picassos. 

It wasn't easy to get inside as museum steps  became bleacher seats to watch the grand affair. Everyone entertained each other with singing, chanting, and warm conversation.

    
                              A group of health care workers put on a show protesting Trump's attack on affordable health care. They performed it every ten minutes for the people passing by.

     At Saturday's march we were on our own with no way to connect with friends or other Miamians there. That's what happens when a million people gather in one place. 
    We were our own Woodstock, small fish in a sea of people carrying cell phones that did not work. I imagined a world with none of these hand warmers and it was good.

    We were very, very happy.  We proudly carried our signs as did everyone else. Francesca's connected us with many other teachers,

  and gave her the opportunity to be interviewed by Julie, a local high school student.

    At one point on Independence Avenue we encountered Miami friends, Cathy Martin and Paula Musto. They were bundled up for the 45 degree weather.  The happily sat on on a planter wall, rare seats for the passing parade.  

   When we veered north across the mall we saw Miami's Diane Atkins having a smoke. It was great to see her too. A few other Grove friends soon found us.

    There were energized  people all around and every few minutes, the massive crowd would create "sound waves" which flowed over the multitudes. They were similar to the ones in football stadiums without the flailing arms (our arms were holding signs! I saw one that said, "My arms are tired").
    As we stood outside the Museum of Modern Art I noticed a sound wave (people yelling in unison)
that barely moved. It's creators were excited about someone striding through the crowd.
I  headed that way and saw John Kerry walking along. 
      Twenty-four hours earlier he was our country's Secretary of State. Twelve years ago Francesca and I met working on his presidential campaign.  Yesterday he was one of us again wearing a smart leather jacket and his familiar gray mane of hair.  
    Kerry shook a few hands but he seemed intent on heading towards the main stage a half-mile away.  As he left us his sound wave followed.



       Someone told us the far-away rally would end, and the march would begin, at 1 p.m.  It was half past noon. We had no idea where it would start or where it could go.  Floating in a sea of smiling people we could see slight movement in the middle of a nearby street.  It was a line of signs trying to get somewhere, reminiscent of a parade. I told our gathered Grove group, "Let's have our own parade; we'll join up with those people and go somewhere".  We did and it was good.


      Everyone else took up this notion and soon you were either marching up the street holding your sign, or you were a member of the parade audience holding signs as well. 

 


 These kids sat on a tall truck next to our parade route.  America's rebellious youth were well represented Saturday.
   


    

As it turned out, there were too many people to fit on one thoroughfare.  The planned march morphed from one giant snake into several.  They forged  paths on parallel streets and ln the wide Washington Mall. All of them became one as they reached the Washington Monument.  The march then proceeded to the White House (which, I might add,  has its own presidential hairdresser now).

   We didn't know any of this at the time.  We assumed our march was the only procession. Thousands of us were heading west, past the great museums, with no particular place to go. The street was packed and progress was slow.
    We didn't care.  Everyone seemed happy just to marching in our nation's capital for equality, clean air, the climate and everything else that the new President threatens.
 
       Three (or more) parades merged as we reached the Washington Monument. 
   It took three hours to march to the White House (about a mile and a half) and when we arrived near the south lawn we made noise.  We knew that Trump could hear us. 
   Our chants ranged from, 
"This is what Democracy looks like!" to "Hey, hey ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!".  
FULL ORWELL

As the day ended people laid down their signs outside the White House to create a People's Quilt of Protest.
   

  At this Dupont Circle hotel, the guests decorated the front lawn.

    





Please don't suggest that I  "give the guy a chance".  
He spent his first 24 hours in office bragging about himself, threatening the press, and complaining about the size of his inaugural audience. He told us, through his press secretary, that we now have to pay attention to "alternative facts". As a Washington Post writer described it, "We've gone full Orwell".




   We'll have to deal with this, um, "stuff" until his reign ends. Let's hope the angry kid president decides he's not having fun, he quits the game, and take his marbles back to New York.  Pence? Pee Wee? Anyone seems better than Trump at this point.
    
    Yesterday's world-wide protests were an inspirational show of force. We just learned that ten thousand people attended the resistance rally in downtown Miami. That's terrific for our sun-tanned town.
   I thank all of you who participated in yesterday's events.  There were 3 million of us world-wide, the biggest planet protest ever. If you couldn't make it, join us for the next one. We need your help.
     Don't let the orange-haired demagogue divide and destroy our nation. We are the majority. We will maintain this surge of energy, confront the Trump agenda and win the many battles that lie ahead.
           ______________________________

 


I took many photos at the March. I'll put more on the blog later this week.

Friday, January 20, 2017

TODAY'S ANTI-INAGAURATION IN WASHINGTON, D.C.

       We timed it perfectly, flying over Virginia when Trump became President.  By the time our plane landed it was over. We only caught glimpses of his  inaugural speech as we passed TVs heading to baggage claim.  

     We didn't want to hear it. We didn't want him to be our President. We came to to our nation's capital for the anti-inauguration today and tomorrow's Women's March to protest everything he stands for.
       The protests started off ugly unfortunately, this morning. Police pepper-sprayed dozens who took our their frustrations by bashing fast food restaurant windows with bats. Over 200 hundred were arrested. Despite that, 95% of the protests have been peaceful in this City. 
     The city created a central place for protests today, a park just north of the inaugural parade route. That way, I guess, they could keep an eye on us.  It was energetic but peaceful, many policemen surrounded us. A half-hour after we left trash cans were being set on fire a block away. There are protests all over this town from morning 'til night for at least three days.  I expect they'll go on for years. 
  We are in Washington  to resist the new administration, the one that repealed Obamacare (without a suitable replacement) this afternoon. We make protest choices by looking at on line "protest schedules".
      We went the park this afternoon and heard Michael Moore give a rousing -and hilarious- speech.  Humor makes it a little easier. The filmmaker point out that, "America is in deep shit.  It's up to all of us to dig ourselves out". 



He's a funny guy and the thousand people listening were entertaining as well with their costumes and signs. There were other speakers and musicians at the three-hour affair. Here are  a few photos,









 Wouldn't it be great it he was only paper mache?

  Of course, we were there for much more than entertainment. A misogynistic, inexperienced bigot became our President today. We rant, we joke, but what really need to do is dig ourselves out of this mess.
      Tomorrow we will join two hundred thousand
activists for the Women's March on Washington.  If you can't be here join your local rally, like the one in downtown Miami on Saturday.  We will fight this guy and the awful things he represents. 

 




Today's Miami Herald editorial asked us to "give the guy a chance".  I did but it ended when he spent his first hour as President  eliminating A) healthcare for 20 million Americans (without a suitable replacement), B) environmental laws that protected our health and climate C) Lying to us about how his inauguration audience was "the biggest ever". What a creep.
   We've got work to do. We are the majority and starting tomorrow, at your local rally,  say "NO" to our new President.  
   Working together we will win.
                  ________________________

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

RESISTING TRUMP IN COCONUT GROVE

    "It gives me hope, being around so many positive people resisting the Trump agenda", is what one woman told me.  She was one of 126 people attending our political action gathering Sunday night. It was a MoveOn meeting sponsored by the Grove's new group, "Progressive Miami".
     Our skate-boarding city commissioner, Ken Russell, got us off to a good start giving a rousing speech. We were there to share ideas on how to deal with the dark days ahead. This Friday we get new President, one so embarrassing he makes Pee Wee Herman look like Lincoln.

   After Ken's speech we broke up into four groups to discuss the Affordable Care Act,




women's rights,







immigration issues, and,


the inexperienced billionaires Trump has chosen for his cabinet.
      
When we re-convened each group shared their issues and ways to resolve them. 
   The road ahead is long but in groups like this, we will be walking -and working- together.
 It was inspiring to be there.

  South Miami Mayor gave us some tips on how to influence politicians.

  
    




At one point I was presented with a "pussy hat", one that I will proudly wear in Saturday's Women's March on Washington. 
 


One of our tremendously talented members, Susan Barimo, knitted it on the way to the meeting. She can apparently make these in less time than it takes to yawn.

   Our Grove group began when I invited seven friends over after  November's election. Looking for answers, we realized most of our country's voters had rejected Trump. We decided to help mobilize these fifty million voters into something positive. Hundreds of other community groups are doing the same thing. National organizations like MoveOn, Indivisible, Wall-of-Us, and the Democratic party are pointing the way.

      Thirty people attended our second meeting at a Grove church and we took our first political action.  Now we have a name, a growing, energetic crowd, and a terrific new Facebook page, "Progressive Miami".

       Come join us if you share our values of truth, tolerance, and dignity. Jump in if you want to work for social and economic justice. Together groups like Progressive Miami will protect our community, defend the country, and help build an America that we can be proud of.
                  _______________________