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Monday, January 30, 2017

MUSLIM BAN PROTEST AT MIA

  Our rally at Miami International Airport went very well yesterday.  300 of us demonstrated in front of a steady line of cars passing through.  It was covered by the press so our loud chants were heard by thousands more.

  Twenty people from our Progressive Miami group participated.  We only got wind of it 2 hours before.  Francesca and I quickly posted it on Facebook, sent out  e-mails, made signs, then headed out.  










Twenty minutes later were were standing in a cold, light rain resisting the hate flowing out of the White House.
     Standing up for your rights -and those of our others- is not that hard.
It felt good be be standing up to Fascists who threaten our country.

If you can, come to our next Progressive Miami meeting tomorrow night, January 31st.  We'll fight
for justice together.
             ____________________________
 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

MARCHING ON WASHINGTON, PART III

    Last Saturday over a million Americans gathered in Washington, DC to resist the new President.
Since then, we've seen the photos, signs, and comments of friends who participated in the women's marches all over the world.  Former Miamian, Nan Deardoff-McCain, was protesting in the Hague with her family while Grove-born Ben Burns drove to Greensboro, NC, to do his part.
Here are more of last week's photos,


     As Trump was taking his victory lap in Friday's inaugural parade we were having a raucous rally nearby.



     The Women's March on Washington began the next day at the Florida Congressional Breakfast.  3000 showed up for muffins and coffee. Orlando's Val Demings woke us up with a stirring speech. She encouraged us to yell, "(What do we want?) WOMEN'S RIGHTS NOW!" loud enough to wake up the Angry Kid in the White House. The former Orlando chief of police is now a member of Congress. We need more leaders like her.
    
   Senator Bill Nelson did the Gator Chomp with our friends from Gainesville.  Florida's only Democratic Senator -the congressman who spent six days in space- will be 75 in September.  Maybe Val can replace him someday.
     After the two-hour pep rally we stepped out into the cold to march on Washington. Here is some of what we saw in the radiant crowd






The P-word was on many signs.  It was a wonderful thing how participants took the rude word the President used to brag about molesting women and they made it their own. Pink Pussy Hats were in abundance.  I'll be wearing mine for years.

There were quite a few kids in the crowd too.









We came upon a lively debate between the the pink hats and the Trumpsters in front of the Lincoln Memorial. As the greatest President looked out from his chair this young man kept saying things like , "No more Immigrants", "Obama ruined America" and "We're living in a Mexican nightmare".  At least they kept it somewhat civil. Another man described Francesca and I (we were wearing pussy hats proudly)  as "haters at a breast cancer march".





   We thank "we girls" and everyone who took the time to participate in last Saturday's marches.
__________________________________________





One More Thing:
   The Mexican-American group, La Santa Cecilia, was in concert at the UM last night.  The lead singer, Marisol Hernandez, at one point lamented the election of our new President and how he attempts to vilify Mexicans and others.  She said.


Our next song will be "Strawberry Fields".  I doubt that John Lennon was thinking about the Central California fields where most strawberries are grown, but if you've ever been there, you know that Mexican immigrants do the work.  As we sing please think about hands that harvest the food you eat.  Many of them are those Mexican and people from other countries. They deserve your love, appreciation and respect."

If you'd like to hear Marisol sing it, the link is 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkNv5Y1_Q4c
                    _______________________________________________________________ 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

DAY TWO, LOOKING FOR MARCO

        What a difference a day makes. Monday morning I was walking through 40 degree Washington rain to get to the office of Senator Marco Rubio. Twenty-four hours later I was doing the same thing under warm sun at Miami's headquarters of the American Welding Society.

        That's where Rubio resides  when he's in town.  I had gone there because MoveOn had asked its 8 million members to participate in yesterday's "Protest Tuesday". 
     The local MoveOn organizers chose Rubio's local office as a protest site.
Forty of us stood next to NW 36th Street holding signs. Most  complainted about Trump's awful cabinet. Still, I got the idea that most folks driving by thought we were standing in front of the big blue building to complain about bad welding.
     Out message did go nation-wide. A photo of our protest ended up on the Rachel Maddow show that night.

        A large sign that said, "Rubio Stinks!" would have helped.  We're learning to do this protest by protest.  Some of the activists were from Progressive Miami but most were from the Gables group, "Rise Up Florida!".  When I learned their leaders were inside talking with Rubio's office manager, I went to join them.  Many Doral police officers were guarding the entrance.  No one stopped me despite my looking like a thinner version of Michael Moore.
    Stepping inside the gaudy blue building I passed the 46 portraits of former presidents of the American Welding Society.  Just next to them was Rubio's office.

       Inside, I found the Rise Up! leaders having their portrait taken in front of Rubio's patriotic tableau. Why they were smiling I do not know. So many bad things emanate from this place. 

   They had just come out of a meeting with the office manager (Rubio is still in Washington doing whatever Trump wants him to).  
     The Gables group is working to make themselves heard.  You might want to consider becoming a part of Rise Up, Florida!,  Progressive Miami, and the MoveOn folks who organized this gathering.  After the Rubio protest some headed south to stage another one at Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's office.


       
    I asked the young woman at the front desk if I could speak with the office manager as well and was told, "You don't have an appointment and she is now unavailable".  Curious, I went on to ask if Marco was a welder, a member of the the AWS.  She had no idea.
       I asked her to tell the Senator that our group was extremely disappointed by his confirming  Trump's cabinet choices.  She said she'd make a note of it.
       Our Grove-based group, Progressive Miami, is having its next meeting on Tuesday, January 31st.  We will continue to discuss how we can resist Trump and everything he stands for.
Our gathering will be held again in St. Stephens Church, 2750 MacFarlane Road in Coconut Grove (next to Peacock Park).  It will begin at 6 p.m.
      
    Over one million of us marched in Washington last Saturday. Ten thousand did the same thing here in Miami.  These efforts mean nothing unless each of us work to put constant pressure on Trump and the politicians who support him. Forming groups helps do that. As actress, America Ferrera, said in her DC speech, "For the next four years we must fight together.  If we do not, we will lose together".
              ____________________________

Monday, January 23, 2017

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 article caught her eye,
    It said that Marco Rubio was the sole Senator threatening to block Rex Tillerson’s bid to be our country’s secretary-of-state.  
    We found it refreshing. We don’t want Exxon’s president filling this important post. We need someone better, another John Kerry or Hillary Clinton, a person with experience in governmental foreign affairs.  
    Florida’s junior Senator must know that. Maybe he is becoming a more independent, a strong political leader for a change.
    Was this a "New Marco"?  One with a spine? 

A rare Republican that actually finds fault with Russia’s attempts to taking over our country?  Someone rejecting Tillerson because he might hand the Reds 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 help hand Trump the presidency.
 

      These issues are huge, they threaten our country’s very existence.  And now, The former Little Marco was Big, a forceful man leading the charge.
     Francesca said, "Museums can wait. We need visit Marco a give him our support!". 

I had to agree.
     We had been in the world-changing Women’s March on Washington two days earlier and today, we had a chance to support our Senator, 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 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 passed. I’m a gregarious person and I wanted to walk into each office and chat with as many Senators as I could.
    But today we there to support just one, Big Marco, our new, feisty, Florida Senator. 
He and his staff of 18 fill suite 284. and when we walked in one of Marco’s many aides, Hunter Koski of Sarasota, greeted us. As I took this picture, he admonished,




“Please don’t take pictures”.  


Sorry, I thought it was a pubic place.

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

   Hunter responded,  “Senator Rubio released a public statement ten minutes ago.  He now supports Mr. Tillerson nomination”.  Our jaws dropped; Big Marco suddenly became Little again.  We had been duped by a huge publicity stunt.
    When we asked “Why?”  Hunter handed us a press release that said something like,

 "I'm rolling over for the new President and am still the suck-up I've always been. I'll do whatever it takes to make the Republican Party a world power and Comrade Putin happy".

    Actually, I didn't read it. What you just read was what I imagined. I'd see Rubio's spin in the next day's news. Hunter added that Rubio's nominating committee would have their final vote in four hours. With a Republican majority,  they would probably be confirming the President of Exxon to be our next Secretary of State.

     "Yikes" we thought, "What's our next move?". We asked Hunter if we could use a nearby desk.  We took a photo of the depressing press release then put it on Facebook.  We added, "Call Senator Rubio Now and complain. In four hours it will be too late!".
Changing the world can keep you busy.
  
    We then let Hunter know that if the Senator was not going to be available, we wanted to speak with the aides that guide him on important issues.

     A few minutes later, one-by one, we were introduced to Ansley Rhyne, Bethany Poulos, and Edwardo "Ted" Sacasa.  All were friendly, young, Republicans chosen to do Rubio's bidding. We expressed our dire concerns with the Tellerson nomination, the Affordable Care Act, and appointing Betsy Devos to lead the Department of Education.  When two other visitors from Jacksonville joined us, we were asked to take our discussion out into the hallway.

     It seems that Trump is creating an "anti-government" which starts with an "anti-cabinet".
Most of his cabinet choices are going to lead departments that, in the past, they have said that they want to eliminate. He's choosing foxes to guard the hen house.
    Go down the list, Rick Perry for Department of Energy?  An EPA pick that doesn't believe in global warming?  And Betsy Devos leading our public schools?  She's never supported them and in fact, wants to privatize them. As one sign said at Saturday's March, "Trump's cabinet?  I've seen better ones at IKEA".   

Rubio aide Ted Sacasa told Francesca public schools like hers (in a poor North Miami neighborhood) are "fail factories" that need more competition.   Ted was a political science major in college.
      
  So there we were, discussing the future of our country in a hallway with folks that advise the Senator who -an hour earlier- had given us hope in the Age of Trump. 
I told Rubio's aides my bottom line, 

You and your Senator are threatening the future of our country. You want to privatize our government, our schools, and weaken and eliminate the very institutions that protect us. We're watching you do that now.
     We won't let you. The majority of the voters do not support you, your Senator, and the President. Listen to the millions of people who protested in Washington and around the world yesterday. We abhor the President's dangerous policies. We're asking you to change your direction and stop letting corporations take over our country. Don't do what's best for them, but what's best for our citizens.

     Yes, I don't remember it word-for-word but what I just wrote is pretty close. It felt good to speak the truth to the injustice surrounding us in the cold Senate Office Building.

    Francesca then made her closing argument with Rubio's two remaining aides, those with supposed expertise in education and healthcare.  She was brilliant as she reminded them that public schools are the backbone of our nation.  Letting Betsy Devos, who has no experience in education,  head our Department of Education, would be a terrible choice.  Healthcare?  Getting rid of the Affordable Care Act without first finding a suitable replacement was irresponsible, just a mean political move. We can do better. Much better.

      Francesca also reminded them of millions who took to the streets yesterday.  Senator Rubio's aides said they would share our concerns with him.  We hope they do and hope it makes a difference.

    All of us need to speak out in difficult times.  We shared our thoughts then thanked Rubio's assistants for meeting with us. We walked
away from Little Marco's office and back into the freezing rain. It felt more comfortable there. 
            ____________________________

 

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.