An 11-point Plan to Open Dialogue, Support the Oppressed, and Resist

With Joan Bolton at Santa Barbara's Women's March in January. Don't you love her sign?

With Joan Bolton at Santa Barbara's Women's March in January. Don't you love her sign?

Last weekend I attended a Huddle Up event sponsored by Santa Barbara members of the Women's March Support Team and We had a great conversation about ways to keep the resistance movement vital and moving forward.

Below is my list from the discussion—I think #4 is probably the most important, and I'm interested in doing this in Santa Barbara. Let me know if you want to help me organize something.

1) Use the power of your purse and boycott products and companies that support the administration. You can find the list at

2) Say thanks by tweeting or writing a company and Congress members whenever they take a stand—Apple, Lyft, the two GOP women senators who voted against Betsy DeVos, etc.

3) Keep talking to Congress—attend town hall meetings, call, write postcards, etc.

4) Create dialogue and conversation with those who support the administration. It’s tough, but we have to learn to understand each other and find common ground.

5) Stand your ground: express your beliefs even as you welcome others to the table.

6) Encourage faith communities to speak out. There’s been a noticeable lack of comment from the very people who claim to care for the poor, disadvantaged, immigrants and others who are discriminated against.

7) Support refugee populations—monetarily, materially, spiritually (my favorite blogger Jon Katz says his tiny community in upper New York state set up a way for people to buy needed goods through Amazon for refugees getting settled into the community. It’s been a huge success).

8) March! There is a Tax Day March on April 15, and an April 29 march in Washington, D.C., for jobs, etc.

9) Organize. Ask local businesses to host events to raise money for various causes: ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Southern Poverty Law Center, etc.

10) Support your local mosque. Reach out and ask if there’s anything you can do to support the Islamic community. Organize a town hall with various religious and community leaders to talk about how best to communicate with Trump supporters and to resist the administration’s policies.

11) Write! Raise your voice.

For our mothers, for our sisters, for our children.

Remembering My Dad, and a Republican Party That Was

Today would have been my dad’s 91st birthday. A lifelong Republican, he would be astounded and appalled at the state of our nation and world if he were alive today.

The rise of the Orange Menace would have left him deeply puzzled. And ashamed. His GOP cared about small businesses and worried over the size of government, but it always acknowledged its relevance and necessity. His GOP was never mean-spirited or bent on punishing the poor for being poor, as this Republican Party has been since the 1990s. His GOP would never have considered abolishing two of the nation’s signature social safety net programs—Social Security and Medicare—that raised a majority of our elderly out of poverty and eased the ravages of old age.

His GOP understood that a functioning democracy required people of good faith on both sides of the aisle to hold the interests of all people in equal measure. His Republicans knew that governance required negotiation and compromise, and placing the common good above their own craven grabs for power and money.  

How far we’ve strayed from that principle.

I am slack-jawed at the recklessness with which the GOP has moved to abolish the health insurance of more than 20 million people in this country. The chaos that will ensue in both the health care and insurance industries will be equally devastating.

Are there no grown-ups in this party? People who can put all Americans’ interests above their own? Who do they think they are helping?

These truly are dark days.

Sleeping with the Enemy

A very personal and political piece posted this week on, a little out of the ordinary for me, but the times are anything but:

I have been sleeping with the enemy for more than two years. Rob is a Republican. But on the morning after the election, he held me close as I sobbed and promised, “It will be okay.”

He promised. But he doesn’t know. And nothing that has happened since that morning has made either of us feel better....(continue reading)

Rise up. Speak. Resist.

Photo by mheim3011/iStock / Getty Images
Photo by mheim3011/iStock / Getty Images

A good friend of mine fled Nazi-occupied Hungary with her family during World War II. Her parents had gone into hiding and she was placed in a Christian boarding school in Budapest in an effort to shield her. She was forced to wear the yellow star on her clothing, and by sheer luck and her own chutzpah ultimately escaped a death camp sentence.

On the phone the other day, I said: “Well, perhaps this will all work out. Perhaps the president-elect won’t actually turn out to be the despot he appears to be. Maybe he won’t actually go through with all his ill-conceived promises.”

She said: “I have lived through this. Don’t think it isn’t what it seems.”

I am reminded of the adage: When someone shows you who he is, believe him.

As each extreme Cabinet pick is revealed, I grow more anxious. His pick for Health and Human Services is an Obamacare foe and ardent anti-abortionist. The president-elect has chosen the nation’s most vocal climate change denier to head the EPA. This week, he announced an anti-minimum wage, anti-labor fast-food mogul to lead the Department of Labor. Ben Carson—a neurosurgeon, not to mention nutcase—has been tapped for Housing and Urban Development. His Education secretary choice is a staunch anti-public education, pro-voucher advocate who would dismantle much of our educational system.

Trump, who attended—and thrived in—a rigid and harsh military boarding school as a teen, is packing the Cabinet with former generals and other military chest-beaters bent on advancing a pro-conflict stance globally.

These extremists have the potential not only to undo many of the Obama administration’s hard-won policies—policies that have provided rights previously denied to the LGBTQ community and other minorities—but may do lasting damage to our country’s foreign relations and economic policies.

As for “draining the swamp,” he’s nominated people who are anything but outside the establishment, and most are millionaires and billionaires.

They want to return to an America that hasn’t existed in decades: a paternalistic, authoritarian society dominated by white and male dinosaurs. Never mind Trump’s inability to control his emotions, his thin skin pricked by the smallest slight. He has opened the door to a Republican Party whose influence and policies have been roundly rejected by a majority of Americans (2.7 million more than voted for him, and counting).

I am afraid for the homeless, the mentally ill, the arts and education, women, children and all those who are the least among us. The whole country is in danger of losing its soul if we turn our backs on the poor. To counter a popular Republican trope, there is no such thing as the “welfare state.” Since the 1960s, welfare (once known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children) has increasingly been replaced with welfare-to-work programs intended to get welfare recipients into jobs. In 1996, Congress and then-President Clinton approved the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which replaced AFDC with Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). For the first time states were required to meet minimum work participation rates to receive federal funding.

Today, virtually no one receives welfare without proving they are working or actively seeking work. Food stamps, renamed the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), provides a stipend for food each month (in debit cards) to the poorest of the poor. The allotment is based on the family’s income. The maximum monthly benefit for one person is $194; a family of four would qualify for up to $649 (again, depending on income). Could you buy groceries for a month on that? It’s a travesty.

Earlier this year, Speaker Paul Ryan, speaking before the Conservative Political Action Conference, repeated what turned out to be a false story about the reduced and free lunch program offered at schools across the country. He told about a little boy who didn’t want a free lunch; he wanted to be able to bring a brown bag lunch to school because that would mean his parents cared about him. It was hogwash, as is the myth that those who receive government assistance are lazy. The fact is most of those kids’ parents do work, often two or three jobs. It’s just that minimum-wage jobs and part-time work often don’t add up to a livable income, especially in the more expensive regions of the country.

Don’t even get me started on Ryan’s dream to privatize Medicare and Social Security.

I am appalled at the fact that most of Trump’s Cabinet picks are driven more by ideology than by facts and knowledge. And his willingness to attack (by Twitter, no less) individuals and corporations, and engage in uninformed conversations with foreign leaders without regard for the consequences, is alarming.

I know there are several efforts at recounts and Electoral College vote switching to try to change the outcome of the presidential election. I applaud them. But I think it is more incumbent upon us—citizens, artists, writers, thought-leaders and educators—to stand up, speak out, and resist these disastrous choices and their beliefs at every turn.

If you can attend one of the many Million Woman Marches being planned around the nation, go, speak, let your voices be heard. Writers Resist is organizing events in January all across the country for writers to express our concern.

Do not remain silent or allow yourself to be lulled into the delusion that this president-elect will not be who he has showed us to be.

In 1963, the white ministers in Alabama urged Martin Luther King Jr. to moderate his rhetoric and tone down his call for peaceful resistance in the civil rights cause. In his thoughtful and stirring letter from the Birmingham jail to those who had criticized him, he wrote:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.”

King was talking about the fact that rights denied to black Americans were rights indirectly denied to all, and white Americans didn’t have the right to tell blacks to simply wait for the laws to be changed in due course.

We, all of us, are responsible for standing up for those Americans whose lives may be terribly affected by the changes anticipated from a Trump presidency. None of us has the luxury to wait and see what will happen. That’s what good people in Germany did when the Nazis came to power, and Hitler promised to make Germany great again.

Rise up. Write. Speak. Take action. Resist.

Fifty Shades of Grey - God Save Us From Men Like This

My book club, mostly women with kids in high school and college, picked Fifty Shades of Grey for this month’s book. It was with a wink and a nudge, based on the titillating reviews we’d heard about this “instant” soft-porn international bestseller. I read it, and I have to say it is the most disturbing book I’ve read in a long time.

Much has been said about its lack of literary quality, and I agree the writing is mediocre at best. What I found unsettling, though, is author E. L. James’ unveiling of a manipulation, the slow descent of a young, but insecure, woman into an abusive relationship.

When the book opens, we encounter Anastasia Steele, a soon-to-be-college-graduate who is conscripted to interview the CEO of Grey Enterprises because her college roommate, the editor of the campus newspaper, gets sick on the eve of the interview. Of course there is instant attraction between Miss Steele and the accomplished Mr. Grey, who, despite his enormous success, is only a few years older than she.

He pursues her, but has something in mind outside of what most of us would consider a “normal” relationship. He wants to abuse her, take her into his Red Room of Pain and do all kinds of unspeakable things to her. He proposes this as a business arrangement. She would sign a contract. He would become the “dominant” and she would be the “submissive.” He tells her she would have control to the extent that she can declare certain acts “hard” or “soft” stops, like red and yellow lights.

Already this is a set-up of such bizarre circumstances that I wondered how the author would pull this off. But despite the awful prose, she manages to evoke the slow seduction, the infinitesimal movement toward complete psychological manipulation that occurs when a twisted man makes a women believe he is doing it all for her.

When Grey first proposes the “contract” that will give him permission to abuse her, she thinks, naturally, “No way!”

He tells her part of the deal, under the contract, is he will never sleep with her through the night, she is forbidden to look him in the eyes, and she can’t touch him. Then he sleeps with her, twice. Lets her touch him. Leads her to believe that she is more to him than his previous “submissives,” whom he freely acknowledges.

James does a skillful job of showing this young woman’s descent into delusion, believing Mr. Grey’s seductive web of lies, despite all evidence to the contrary.

That Anastasia seems to know this on some level, that she questions herself while still falling under his influence and ultimately agrees to his degradations, is depressing and revolting. Why would a young woman do those things? That is the overarching question, and there is no adequate answer in Fifty Shades. Too many women find themselves in abusive relationships because they believe a man can give them something they can't give themselves, that he can somehow fill a need she can’t seem to fill on her own.

“Saturday Night Live” did a very funny skit about the book, implying that women the world over were reading the book for its (actually, limited) sex scenes. But Fifty Shades of Grey is more stomach-turning than titillating. As the mother of a 20-year-old young woman, I worry about the message she and others will take away from the cultural response to this book. It’s hard enough for young women to navigate the roiling waters of romantic relationships, let alone having to wonder if being sexually active might include acceptance of physical abuse.

Fifty Shades of Grey is a twisted tale of seduction, wherein a smart young woman confuses Grey’s sadistic yearnings for some semblance of love. It’s all wrong. And, sadly, a story that probably would be familiar to legions of abused women.

Wish I could get my money back.

Smart Women; Deaf Men

Today's guest post is by Lois Phillips, Ph.D., who writes that things really haven't changed much for women when it comes to being heard by men in power.

Women's Brainpower vs. Men's Power

By Lois Phillips, Ph.D., Educational Consultant

How far have women advanced really, and should we remain optimistic that women will continue to advance into top leadership roles? In "Sonic Boom: Globalization at Match Speed" Gregg Easterbrook is optimistic, predicting five future trends so enormous in scale that the author equates them to "sonic booms." Easterbrook postulates that one trend is that women will contribute to the world's supply of big ideas:

In Western nations, women's education levels and personal freedom already are on track to equal men's; in much of the developing world, this could happen in the next two generations. Throughout history, most women have been denied a fair shot at contributing to research, engineering, business-management, and leadership roles. As this changes, there will be twice as many people applying their brainpower to the world's problems.

While this is an admirable and progressive point of view, I'm disappointed by three recent examples that demonstrate the push-back that can occur when well-educated, competent, and experienced professional women attempt to apply their brainpower to solving the world's problems. Look what happened to Brooksley Born, Elizabeth Warren, and Sheila Bair when they asserted big ideas and attempted to speak truth to power. (read more)