Thanks for Speaking up!

"I think Putin and Russia have a big stake in making sure the Olympics work, and I think they understand that for most of the countries that participate in the Olympics, we wouldn't tolerate gays and lesbians being treated differently. They're athletes, they're there to compete. And if Russia wants to uphold the Olympic spirit, then every judgment should be made on the track, or in the swimming pool, or on the balance beam, and people's sexual orientation shouldn't have anything to do with it."

How We Can Help:
  • Please tell the President that what he said is a great start, but ask him to keep making public statements to Putin in order to start a global conversation about LGBT rights as Human Rights, and to make Sochi safe for everyone.

Oh No! He Didn’t Say That!

Oh yes they did! 
I hope Santa skipped these guys.

Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston actually said the following: “But one of the things I’ve talked to the secretary of agriculture about: Why don’t you have the kids pay a dime, pay a nickel, to instill in them that there is, in fact, no such thing as a free lunch? Or maybe sweep the floor of the cafeteria–and yes, I understand that that would be an administrative problem, and I understand that it would probably lose you money. But think what we would gain as a society in getting people–getting the myth out of their head–that there is such a thing as a free lunch." 

When now-private citizen Michael Bloomberg was asked about an article about Dasani, an 11-year-old-girl who, by virtue of His Honor’s homeless policy, found herself living in one of New York’s homeless shelters, he replied, “She’s growing up in very challenging circumstances and fighting some difficult odds. This kid was dealt a bad hand. I don’t know quite why, that’s just the way God works sometimes. Some of us are lucky and some of us are not.” 

For misinformation call this guy! For a moment during his filibuster he actually used these words, “Block Obama Care ‘cause if it works we won’t be able to get rid of it….people will get addicted to the sugar…. It’s just like the Nazis….” 

In an interview with Duck Dynasty’s Bible-thumping Phil Robertson, Drew Magary asked, “What, in your mind, is sinful?” Robertson’s answer justified my repulsion at the ads for the show. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men…. Don’t be deceived…the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers–they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

Ian Bayne, congressional candidate from Illinois, actually went lower in defense of the duck dude than Robertson himself, "In December, 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December, 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians."

How We Can Help:

"We Must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American Eagle to feather their own nests." ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

It occurred to me, as I sat with a wonderful group around the Thanksgiving diner table of a dear friend, how blessed I was to be able to enjoy such a delicious meal in such good company. Our conversation roamed from good stories to what’s happenings in the arts and in Washington DC to talk of our travels. After we’d enjoyed all we could eat and before the tryptophan kicked in, our hostess asked that we each state what we were most thankful for since last Thanksgiving. On the taxi ride home, I began to wonder how those fat cat House Republicans could enjoy their Thanksgiving meals while voting to cut $40 billion from the Food Stamp budget, thus taking food out of the mouths of recipients. Do they think the children of the poor don’t deserve nutrition, or do they just not care about the well-being of anyone unlike themselves? But then I thought, hell, they too are probably sitting down with friends and loved ones in the manner of the Pilgrims who gave thanks for their bounty in this new land (the land they had taken from its First People). Perhaps if those who oppose Food Stamps were asked to say what they were grateful for at their Thanksgiving, they might express appreciation for having no conscience to plague them, or for forgetting that America is supposed to be a country “…of the people, by the people, and for the people.“ In retrospect I’m adding to my own wealth of things to be grateful for the fact that the Republicans are finally showing the world how small-minded and unfit to serve they really are. And so I say, “Let ‘em eat crow!”

"I have learned this: it is not what one does that is wrong, but what one becomes as a consequence of it." ~ Oscar Wilde

Ted Cruz, who television host Piers Morgan perfectly characterized as the Republican’s new Sarah Palin, waxed imbecilic on the subject of one of my children’s—and now my grandchildren’s—favorite books. He used Green Eggs and Ham to represent Obamacare. “What?” you may be asking. “What has one to do with the other?” As it turns out, nothing! It seems that Senator Cruz, who many Republicans embrace as a party leader, either never finished the book and thus missed the ending, or actually missed the point of the book. In Cruz’s world, this book, created for children ages 3 - 7 in preschool to second grade, said that just like Sam I Am (the lead character) hated green eggs and ham, the country hates Obamacare—and won’t be forced to swallow it. However, since Obamacare is new it can’t have been tasted and rejected. But even more to the point, once Sam I Am is convinced to try the green eggs and ham, he likes them; he really likes them! And that may just be what happens with Obamacare, Senator Cruz, we—referring to those of us who live in the present reality—know that you can project and blowhard all you want, but the truth remains to be seen, and the black man who we the people have elected to the White House twice isn’t going away. And many, particularly those who are smart enough to see that spewing lies and hatred are not American values, may discover that Obamacare in action becomes an acquired taste. 
What We Can Do:

Please write to Ted Cruz at and:
  1. Ask him to admit to and stop the lies
  2. Ask him to come clean about his and his like’s pledged vendetta against the President
  3. Mention that his inability to understand a children’s story is a disgrace and that he should re-evaluate his stands in light of his limitations
  4. Remember, keep it simple enough for him to understand!

"People who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes." ~ Abigail Van Buren

I always keep an eye on what’s happening in Egypt, because I’ve had a love affair with the country and wonderful experiences there both for work and for pure pleasure. With the advent of the Arab Spring I kept thinking, “Shouldn’t we do something about Egypt?” but soon it felt as though the Arab Spring was changing seasons while everyone was distracted. Then one Sunday John McCain appeared on one of the morning talkfests. It had become a rarity for him to catch my attention since he seemed too often to join in the Republican sport of taking pot shots at President Obama for winning the Presidency in 2008. He became a follower of Mitch McConnell’s edict never to pass anything the elected leader of the free world suggested. But on this particular Sunday, I saw a spark of the “maverick” who had once caught my imagination. That John McCain had become a dim memory, but in this instance I found myself in agreement with what he wanted: for the President to cut off aid to post-Mubarak Egypt while the country was exploding in violence and chaos. But then he teamed up with snarky Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who blasts the president at any opportunity, including railing against Obama’s Egypt policy.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.” ~ President Barack Obama

So it seems that the massive killing of civilians by Bashar al-Assad in Syria via traditional weapons of murder and mayhem was okay with the Obama administration. But on Aug. 21st when Assad attacked Syrian rebels and civilians with chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb after being warned not to by America, things abruptly changed. I wondered if President Obama borrowed the red line image from Benjamin Netanyahu, who drew his red line across a cartoon bomb with a lit fuse to warn the Iranians not to complete the final stages of building their nuke. I never expected Obama to take on Bibi’s Little Caesar personality. In Obama’s case, he got stuck with his red line, like a 13-year old who made a threat to the school bully and can’t find a way to take it back. So, now that the Syrian government has crossed the line with glee, we are called upon to get into the game.

I’ve heard some talking heads and talking pols like our pals John McCain and Lindsay Graham say that in order to maintain America’s credibility we have to follow through. But that’s far from true. Obama did his best stiff upper lip and the congressional hawks growled for the cameras, but thank God/Allah, Secretary of State Kerry’s convenient off-the-cuff remark about, “What if they just gave us their weapons?” line gave us a second chance. Putin, not to be left in Kerry’s dust then made a smart move and offered to become the world’s primo peacemaker, or as the prime weekly news show on Russian state TV reported it: “The diplomatic duel” between Moscow and Washington over what to do with Syria’s chemical weapons had ended in “the great victory of Russia.”

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called Assad’s act a war crime. He also said no to Obama’s idea about dropping bombs. Let’s face it, why would anyone as smart as our president think we should punish Assad by dropping bombs on the very people who have already suffered mightily at his hand? The people who had looked to us to support the Free Syrian Army and other opposition? Does Obama think death by bombing is less deadly than death by chemicals? Does Obama think Assad’s chemicals give him permission to employ conventional murder?

Rouhani Speaks

Sorry President Putin, your desired image as peacemaker has been usurped by Hassan Rouhani, the president of Iran, in his fine address to the United Nations General Assembly. Since Iran is involved in Syria, we need to pay attention to his intentions. “Iran poses absolutely no threat to the world or the region,” he said. He concluded his speech by highlighting how the differences, particularly with regard to religions and beliefs, also unite us and ask us to believe in peace and tolerance. “My hope, aside from personal and national experience, emanates from the belief shared by all divine religions that a good and bright future awaits the world.... As stated in the Holy Koran: ‘And We proclaimed in the Psalms, after We had proclaimed in the Torah, that My virtuous servants will inherit the earth.'”

What We Can Do And Think About:
  1. If you aren’t familiar with the status, policies, capacity and capabilities of our nukes and the activists that first confronted this danger, do a little research  
  2. With that history and it’s ramifications in mind, be sure that you review what is going on in Syria
  3. Please learn more about Islam, Iran and Hassan Rouhani and decide for yourself about the credibility of his sincerity. I for one, despite harsh, but hardly unexpected, words about him from Bibi Netanyahu, want to give him the benefit of the doubt. Not something I can often give Netanyahu.  
  4. Let the President and your congress people know your position on Rouhani, Syria, and other similarly loaded situations:,,
  5. What might you be willing to go to war over?

50th Anniversary of the March on Washington

"A time comes when silence is a betrayal." ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Soledad O'Brien and Hill Harper were emcees at the 50th anniversary celebration of the March on Washington, "Let Freedom Ring." O'Brien is now special correspondent for Al Jazeera’s America Tonight. Harper played a good cop on the long-running CSI New York and is now a not so nice guy on the USA series Covert Affairs. The following selected remarks from speakers follow and cover the spectrum of issues that we face and can directly impact by taking action.

Melanie L. Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation: "Today there are no white sheets, but there are judges in black robes in the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, opening the floodgates in many states to pass more voter ID laws....”
Roslyn Brock, NAACP Chair: “The opponents of equality oppose our cause.”

Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP President: “The dreamer was also a doer. Let us not just walk away from here today.… When they say, 'No You Can’t pass a real racial profiling ban with teeth,' we say 'Yes We Can!' Because yes we did, two days ago in New York City."

Eliza Byard, Executive Director, Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN): “Fifty years ago, Bayard Rustin stood on this stage…. A movement spoke through him, but the world would not embrace him because he was gay. Today, LGBT voices are welcomed to this stage. And President Obama has awarded Bayard Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But we have not yet seen Dr. King's 'great vaults of opportunity' thrown open to everyone. We have so far to go before a truly great education is offered to every child."

Bill Russell, eleven-time NBA champion and five-time Most Valuable Player: “Fifty years ago, I met Martin Luther King, Jr. and he asked me to speak. I respectfully declined. I sat in the first row. It’s nice to be anywhere 50 years later.... What I want to tell you now and implore you is to keep up the fight... we can never accept the word status quo has been taken out of our vocabulary.... Progress can only be measured by how far we have to go."

Reverend Al Sharpton: "We come here today as the children of Martin Luther King who faced Jim Crow to face the Children of Jim Crow."


Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers: "Because the Supreme Court turned their backs on voters, the struggle is for public education, re-claiming the promise of public education so that we can keep the dream alive."

Julian Bond, Distinguished Visiting Professor at American University in Washington, D.C and a leader of the American Civil Rights Movement: "We are still being tested by the evisceration of the Voting Rights Act and Stop and Frisk…."

Forest Whitaker: "We must embrace this moment together as good will ambassadors and remember that Martin Luther King said, 'I’ve decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden.'"


Oprah Winfrey: "How will the dream live on in us? Not everybody can be famous but everyone can be great ‘cause greatness shines through service."


U.S. Congressman John Lewis, Georgia: “It’s been a long time coming. We’ve come a long way in these fifty years but there is a long way to go. To those who say nothing has changed, I say take a walk in my shoes."


President Jimmy Carter: "The crucial question of our time is, how do we overcome oppression and violence without resorting to either?"


President Bill Clinton: "He asked the victims of violence to meet that violence, not with violence, but with an open hand."



Martin L. King III: He reminded us that MLK said sometimes we must take positions that are not comfortable or politic, but we must take them anyway.


Rev. Dr. Bernice King, MLK's daughter and CEO of The King Center for Non-Violent Social Change: "Fifty years later we are standing in the shadow of that liberator (the Lincoln Memorial)… we are still chained by economic disparities and social unrest and now we must break the cycle. In 1967 my Father asked, 'Which way do we go, community or chaos?' We must see the dawning of a new day."

President Barack Obama: "We rightly and best remember Dr. King's soaring oratory that day, how he gave mighty voice to the quiet hopes of millions; how he offered a salvation path for oppressed and oppressors alike. His words belong to the ages, possessing a power and prophecy unmatched in our time."


What We Can Do:
  1. Notice which of these profound statements moved you most.
  2. If you are an activist, take stock of the level of your participation and check to see if you are satisfied with that participation or not.
  3. If you are already an activist and want to add to your involvement, or if you are new to activism, is there a cause above where you can serve? Each aspect mentioned can use your help.
  4. How can the quality of your life be enriched by the model and memory and mission of Martin Luther King, Jr.?  

Obama in the Promised Land

President Barak Obama went to the Middle East. He spent his first day with Bibi Netanyahu, the next with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah followed by a speech at the Jerusalem Convention Center. His last day was spent in Amman, Jordan where he met with King Abdullah, who holds a place of peace in the region. His speech in Jerusalem in a huge auditorium full of Israeli students showcased Obama at his best, which the audience acknowledged with long stretches of applause and standing ovations. He pointed out that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will be able to get everything they want, so both sides must make a leap from status quo to compromise. Sadly, it seems unlikely that his eloquence will shift the region’s ancient story, but he did make his positions clear. He reassured the students that the U.S. is a partner of Israel's, but also said that true security lies in respecting the Palestinians’ right to their own homeland, and that the settlements do not fit into a move toward peace. This drew wild applause, as the generation that is coming of age has a great stake in peace.

In an effort to be balanced, he did not overplay the fact that he had come under Hamas rocket fire near Gaza, but he also did not quite capture how much the building of settlements truly costs Palestinians, who can awaken to discover a fence and an army placed between their village their olive fields (which are their source of income). For a visceral view of one such village I recommend a wonderfully well-done documentary: 5 Broken Cameras ( or It’s a moving, eye-opening film. If you missed the President’s speech, you can find it via Google. The issues generated between Israelis and Palestinians are filled with complexities, and their relationships one to the other can have huge impact on the world. What would you suggest?

"ANN": The Ann Richards Play

ANN is a brilliant play written and performed by the Emmy Award-winning actress Holland Taylor. The Ann of the title refers to the 45th Governor of Texas, Ann Richards. She first came to national attention as the state treasurer of Texas, but became a national treasure when she delivered the keynote address at the 1988 Democratic National Convention, where she uttered the most memorable line of the gathering, “Poor George. He can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.” Memorable though it was, it was not her most profound remark. She waxed almost poetic when speaking about her granddaughter Lilly. “And as I sit there, I wonder if she’ll ever grasp the changes I’ve seen in my life--if she’ll ever believe that there was a time when blacks could not drink from public water fountains, when Hispanic children were punished for speaking Spanish in the public schools, and women couldn’t vote.”

Holland’s skillful avoidance of repeating Richards’ more famous lines invites her audience into a more intimate relationship with the glorious essence of Ann, and brings them face to face with her complex, colorful, wise and captivating brilliance and love of life. Though I never met Ann Richards, I was a fan, so I was able to grasp how fully Holland (who is a friend of mine) is able to transcend her own powerful being and become Ann. Ann is an inspiring, hilarious, beautifully crafted tour de force. It's playing in New York City at Lincoln Center's Vivian Beaumont Theater through September 1st, and is a must-see. For tickets, visit or call 212-239-6200.

And there’s more! Imagine what an honor to Ann Richards a US Postal Service commemorative stamp would be. The proposal for the stamp was officially submitted in mid-January, along with a listing of the impressive committee in support of the effort (click to view). The stamp is now officially in consideration by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. Our next step is to demonstrate support for the stamp from the general public, so please add your own signature to those of the artists, media minds, thinkers, interested citizens and activists who’ve already signed the petition on by clicking here. You can also 'like' the cause on Facebook and follow it on Twitter. Thanks for helping to honor Ann Richards.


There is so much going on in the country and by the hand of America in the world that I hardly knew where to begin. So I thought that I would make a list of the travesties we need to acknowledge and which call to us for comment and action, because when huge numbers of us let those who are impacting our lives and those of others know what we want, we are able to make our country a place where we can flourish and know that we are doing our part. I want to acknowledge Edie Windsor for doing her part in a huge way. It is one thing to say that we’re being treated unfairly, and quite another to take it to the Supreme Court. I also want to honor the women on the Court for their clear thinking and questioning. They were strong and clear. The men, not so much. Please let me know what you think.
Chief Justice Roberts
“But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet?" REALLY?! Is it at all possible that Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John G. Roberts, who is set to judge Marriage Equality, seriously sees it as an entirely new issue? Is it possible that he doesn’t understand that Marriage Equality must be seen in the context of Gay Rights, a movement which began in Chicago in 1924 and became high-powered and highly visible after a raid by rabidly homophobic cops on a little bar called the Stonewall in New York City's Greenwich Village in 1969?  Perhaps he should look up the 1996 This Week With David Brinkley that dug deeply into the subject of Marriage Equality. Wouldn’t you think the justice might do a little homework before taking the lives of American women and men into consideration? Thank you, Edie Windsor for bringing this issue to a boiling point. Thank you for demanding federal equality for your marriage to the love of your life, Thea Spyer. You, Thea, are the anti-travesty.

Thea Spyer and Edie Windsor


Mitch McConnell shows just how low someone the Republicans have chosen as a leader can go, when he says to a crowd that Hillary Clinton looks like she’s from "a rerun of the Golden Girls." He saved this mean-spirited, cheap substitute for humor for the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which is the largest annual meeting of conservatives in the country. CPAC gave McConnell plenty of opportunity to say almost everything that has made the Republicans as out-of-date and out-of-touch as they are on almost every topic of concern to Americans. Michelle Bachman managed to sound just as insane when she spoke at CPAC about how 'we the people' pay for special walkers for the Obama's dog, and having two men at ready 24/7 in case the President or someone in his family want to see a movie at any hour, and a list of other lying nonsense that it took CNN about 30 seconds to disprove. McConnell and Bachman would be a dream team on the comedy lecture circuit. The real issues we face need creative, intuitive, intelligent thinkers to rise above this kind of offensive high school rhetoric. Please write to McConnell and tell him that he needs to change his ways, put the good of the country above his hatred of his African American President (who he’s failed to derail), and be respectful. He’s an embarrassment.


U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) addressed a breakfast meeting of the 2013 Annual Legislative Summit of U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on March 19th in Washington, D.C. He began with a story about his youth, when he “…lived, worked, played and grew up alongside Latinos.” He used Spanish to emphasize his ideas about immigration and “love” for Latinas and Latinos, stated that “No one captures the romance of the Latin culture more than Pablo Neruda," then read Neruda's poem Si tu me olvidas without a clue that while Neruda was a brilliant, articulate, Nobel Prize-winning Poet, he also served as a Senator for the Chilean Communist Party. Naruda’s politics were close to mine, not Paul’s; not the Republicans’. Rand went on to say, “My hope is that today we begin a dialogue between he GOP and Latinos…a dialogue that shows that the GOP sees all immigrants as assets and that Latinos can come to see the GOP as the party of opportunity, the party of the American Dream, el partido del sueňo Americano." Seriously? Seriously Mr. Paul? Do you include Alaska’s GOP Congressman Don Young in that statement? Young, who had been forced by public opinion and the press to apologize for using the slur "wetbacks" that very same day? Please tell Rand Paul that you want him to be respectful and support real immigration reform and let him know what kind of reform you wish to see.


Remember the separation of powers that was written into the laws of our land? Our Congress is certainly having some difficulty in this matter when it comes to our food supply. Without holding any hearings, Congress has approved genetically-engineered crops, such as new versions of corn, soybean, canola, and cotton. Once these crops get planted, it will be too late to do much about it, because they will take over, leaving the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ignore any court ruling that would stop the planting of new genetically-engineered crops. This is important because the court is often our last hope, what with Congress, the White House, and regulatory agencies turning a blind eye to it all. Makes me wonder, as many things do, just whose pockets Congress and the White House are in. Please ask President Obama not to sign the budget deal that contains this provision at And please check out this article in The Guardian for further information: Monsanto Protection Act put GM companies above the federal courts.


All I have to say about drones is that drones kill in a merciless, indiscriminate, appallingly murderous manner, no matter what the president says about not loosing American lives. Americans do get killed. And there is no justification for killing innocent Pakistani men, women and children who are not involved in making war on America. Also, it should be obvious that drone attacks have many unintended consequences. Al-Qaeda loves them. Every time we destroy a house or kill a baby, an entire neighborhood wants retribution. Every attack lessens any hope of having 'real' allies in the Middle East. And what is the world to think about your ill-conceived Korea fly-over to demonstrate your sleek new black terror weapon? North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is inexperienced, is unprepared for wise leadership, and at 30 years of age still displays adolescent personality traits. This means that President Obama’s threats are not a deterrent any more than waving a red cape at a bull cowers the bull. Or maybe our president, like Korea’s, welcomes the threat of war. It’s time for our President to face a few realities. War Games was a movie, not a lifestyle. Please thank President Obama for his policies that work, and for the stiff upper lip he displays with grace despite the gross speech and sometimes outright lies thrown at him by the likes of Bachman, McConnell and Boehner. But on the other hand, he is willing to wage war. So please tell him: 1) that drone strikes are not acceptable; 2) that they turn hearts and minds against us; 3) that the lives of non-Americans are meaningful; 4) he should give back the Nobel Prize:,


"I liken it to the proverbial hunting season," Dudley Brown says. "We tell gun owners, there's a time to hunt deer. And the next election is the time to hunt Democrats." I have to admit, this guy fits right in with a certain ilk who can not think outside the parameters of their own self-interest. He founded the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners after leaving the NRA. Just what good Americans need, a target on their backs. But who can blame Brown when in this era of gun-crazed folks with easy access to assault rifles, he’s likely to get rich. And of course Brown doesn’t want universal background checks, not with his seeming romance with vengeance and violence. Guns are good for that, so of course he doesn’t want to help law enforcement identify violators, especially if there are no limits placed on gun clips or automatic weapons. He's promising political payback in next year's election. That could cost Colorado Democrats their majorities if they do what Democrats so often do, which is politically shoot themselves in the foot when they should be pulling together but watching their backs in gun-land.