Thursday, December 16, 2010

Give the Guy a Break!

President Obama addresses 30,000 supporters at USC, October 2010
*photo courtesy of Christina Martinez

He’s just a man. Walks, talks, eats, sleeps, hopes, cries, doubts and hopes…just like you and me. Oh, and he also happens to be the President of the United States. That means he answers to BILLIONS of people, not only in this country, but all over the world. Now how do you suppose one human could set out to please every one of us, each with our unique outlooks and opinions?

If you are a right-winger, a tea-partier, independent, radical progressive or anyone else against him for the decisions he’s made, I ask you this. Who better to run this country at this moment? Mc Cain/Palin? Come on…I’m serious. Jon Stewart? Who?

I’m not thrilled about tax cuts for the rich being extended. No, I am not. Mostly because he has been pretty damned good about keeping his campaign promises, and this is one that was broken/severely compromised at the least.. BUT- I also remind you that he campaigned on a platform of bi-partisanship. He said we weren’t red or blue states, but “purple” United States. He said that. Don’t you remember? He never promised to be an ultra-liberal-leftist President. Never.

It disappoints me to see Democrats turning on their own President so aggressively. It’s like political cannibalism. You know why the Republicans are so good at winning? Because they stick together now matter how sucky their guy is (one letter – W.) The least we could do is rally behind the guy we voted in – give him our support for his entire term. He needs it.

As much as I may read, watch the talking heads and listen to progressive talk radio, I am not a politician. I have my opinions, but I’ve never been in the game, and neither have most of you. Can we all agree that maybe just maybe, it’s a more complicated process than we realize? Maybe it’s not so easy to make all those promises happen on the timeline we prefer.

The bottom line is: You will never agree with every decision any President makes, but let’s look at the big picture here. He passed health care reform, and as an American who was denied Health Care by every major carrier, that is a miracle I never thought I’d see in my life. He has integrity, honor, intellect, a cool head. He is thoughtful, brilliant, passionate, highly educated, a Constitutional scholar, came from nothing and worked his way to the top of his class at Harvard…I mean, really. He has championed Veterans, women’s issues, education, healthcare, put two women on the Supreme Court (and the first Latina). Who better to run this country? I’m not talking some hypothetical superhero politician who doesn’t exist. What ACTUAL person is better qualified right now, right this moment?

I don’t always agree with my President, nor my husband, my friends or kids…but I still support them and believe in them.

So….where is your loyalty?

(To see a list of Obama's campaign promises kept so far, or in the works, click here. It’s pretty damned impressive.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Written by Hollye Dexter & Amy Ferris

For years my husband has pined for a woman President. He believed there would be no unnecessary wars and the world would be a better place, as women are the mothers, nurturers and healers of the world. But that was before he got a load of Sarah Palin, Christine O Donnell, Jan Brewer, Carly Fiorina, and Sharon Angle.

I agree we need the balance of more women in leadership roles, but not just any women. We need those who embody the best of what it is to be woman. There are some dangerous girls in politics today. Ignorance and lust for power make for a lethal combination.

When I reflect on our long struggle for the right to vote, then the battle just to be included in the political process, I can feel in my DNA the strength and courage of our foremothers. That’s why it breaks my heart to see women not striving anymore. In the past, we had to sharpen our blade to work toward shattering that glass ceiling. We had to be the best, the brightest. And now? Some women today glide in with no effort, knowledge or wisdom, get some money behind them and shoot right to the top. 

Mediocrity has become the measure of the day - in politics, media,  and pop stars. Young women look up to reality stars like Kim Kardashian, and know more about Snooki, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay Lohan than what’s going on in their own country. Women of the generation before them hold powerful roles in the media, helping to perpetuate the idolotry of these uninformed, average “role models”. We are a country enamored of mediocrity. Big Macs. Reality shows. Cheap appliances and furniture. Phones that break after a year. Fast food. Fast information devoid of truth or fact. Quality doesn’t seem to count any more. We are spoon-feeding the next generation with empty-headed junk. And still more women are exploiting it, cashing in on it. Don't we owe something more to those generations of women who fought for our rights?

The politicians we vote in to power are only a reflection of our culture. It’s not our politicians who need to change, it’s us. Maybe when Christine ODonnell said “I’m YOU” – she was on to something. She is us. Average, uninformed, un-striving us.

As women, the mothers of this country, we who foster the creative spirit, the intuitive wisdom, have a responsibility to rise up to our own excellence again. Where is our ingenuity, our fighting spirit, our brilliance? We must summon that suffragette spirit to be our best and brightest, because surely, this isn’t what they dreamed of for us. 

It's time to take an honest look at where we are and ask ourselves - what are we passing down as the mothers of this generation? 

I am not a mother.
And for a good portion of my years on earth - 56 to be exact - I prayed, I chanted, I screamed at the UNIVERSE: I do not want to be like MY MOTHER. Oh good god(dess), no... I am not a mother, I don't want to be a mother.
And so, I never had children.

But I will tell you what I learned from my mother:

I learned to be kinder. She was not very kind.
I learned to give another human being a kiss, a hand, a shoulder, a thank-you: for their life, their contribution, their gifts. Afford them their mistakes. She was not a generous soul that way. 
I learned to pay attention, especially to the world around me. She paid little, if no, attention.

I learned that women who compete, who are jealous, who don't wish you well (or at least not too well), who are righteous, who fight and scream and go to battle like men, who believe they know better, who will push you down to lift themselves up, who say and know what's right FOR YOUR LIFE, who don't forgive - these are not, by any means, mothering women.

I think (one of) the greatest threats is not that ill-informed women are rising in power, I think the greatest threat is that women think if they act and behave like their mean spirited, ignorant, arrogant, and fiercely competitive counterparts, other women will be safe and feel at home. It's just "that home," will never be a safe haven.

As women, we are here to make this world better, to keep our children safe; to honor another color, religion, belief, faith, spirit, choice. To unite, to hold tight, to embrace, to share, to move, to trust, to create value... to share our wisdom, to nurture another heart and soul and life. To believe in the wisdom and true power of the feminine -- to know without that we do not and could not exist. 

I was wrong. 

I am a mother.
Just not mine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

oh. my. obama.

I had just moved into my new apartment on the upper Westside. It was my first grown-up apartment.

It was January 15th, 1990.

I walked into my building, got into the elevator, and before the doors closed, two huge black men got into the elevator with me.

All I thought was, “Oh my god, I’m gonna be raped.”

I grew up in a family where the word schvartza was common. It was sprinkled about as frequently and as often as salt and pepper on steak. If there was an abandoned car on the side of the L.I.E with all tires stripped, my mother would casually say, “Schvartzas.” If there was a robbery or a break-in in our all white neighbor, it was the “schvartzas” who would be blamed. Anything unattractive, unappealing, it was always, undoubtedbly, the schvartza.

Schvartza, goy, faggot… not uncommon words used in my house. And these words were passed down generation to generation. Rumor has it that when a black person got up from their seat on a bus, my grandmother would take her cotton handkerchief and wipe down the seat. And yet, I can’t say that my parents were hateful or prejudice. My parents were friends with gay people, non-jewish people, “colored/non-white” people. All races, all walks of life. I think the truth is there was an underlying unease, feelings of superiority and unconscious (or not) fear that seeped out without any thought what so ever. Both my brother and I, on more than one occasion, were mortified at what came out of our mother’s and father’s mouth. An off color joke here, a nasty remark there, a vile dig here, and a loud rant there. My mother often said that if I dated a black man she would disown me, and I would often respond, joke, ask ... “what about sleeping with one?” She would laugh and smile. I had then, and have now, many friends who are black.

BUT... I grew up with the word schvartza embedded - like a chip - in my soul, and I would wager I’m not sharing anything new, however, it is not something I have ever admitted.

Back to the elevator.

There I was standing in the back of the elevator, convinced that these two men – both at least 6’7” – were going to hurt me. Rape me. Kill me. I heard the word schvartza playing over and over and over in my head. I heard my mother saying it, I heard my grandmother saying it. Schvartza. I knew I was afraid. I knew I was petrified.

I also knew it was the night of the Cooney/Forman fight, a big night in boxing. One of the guys asked me, “You like boxing?” I said, "Yeah, oh, yeah.” “Really?” he asked, “who you betting on to win?” Without blinking, I said, “I’m betting on the Black guy.”

They both laughed.

It turned out one of the guys lived in my building, in the penthouse. He was a professional basketball player. He played for the Nets. He was throwing a party that night - a Cooney/Forman party – and right there in the elevator, invited me to come, as his guest.

I asked if there would be any food.

“Yeah,” he said, “We’re roastin’ the white guy.”

I lost every bit of color I had regained. He looked at me, and saw how scared I was.

“Hey,” he said, “I’m jokin’. Really. Cooney’s gonna lose, Forman’s gonna knock him out in the first round. Please, come on up… we’re ordering Chinese. You like Chinese?”

“Yes, I like Chinese,” I said.

I was the only white person in a sea of black people watching Forman punch the shit out of Cooney in the second round.

At the end of the evening, my new friend made sure I got home safe and sound - two floors below him - and thanked me for coming to his party. He was gracious and kind, and he and I remained good friends until he moved out of the building a few years later. He was traded and moved to a different city.

As I think about what’s happening in this country, and the tapes that play over and over and over again in someone’s head – the words that are embedded, the phrases that stick, the stories repeated, the hatred circulating, the ugly, the nasty ... the nigger, the faggot, the homo, the goy, the kike, the jew, the queer…

I think about that night, in that elevator, and that bet that I made ... and I never, ever thought years later I would say, “I’m betting on the black guy,” out of complete love and respect, and not one ounce of fear.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


i'm pro-choice. i'm all for people making choices in their lives.

and, you know, they don't have to make the same choices as me.

they can have their OPINION.

i love that i have choices. i get to choose friends, and partners, and clothes, and food, and furniture, and politicians, and hair salons and doctors and restaurants and medication and pets and cars and all sorts of things, i get to choose where i live and what i say and who i love. my choice. and i just love that. and sometimes i make choices and wow oh fucking wow are they the wrong choices, so i get to make new choices, and hopefully i get to learn from my mistakes, and if not, well, then i get to make more choices.

and it seems to me that those who are so clearly pro-life get to choose too. boy oh boy do they choose. they get to choose who they love and what they wear and who they don't like and what they say and who they vote for and where they eat and where they picket and what they burn and what kind of cars and houses they buy and what news and radio they listen to and the company they keep. and you bet a lot of their choices i don't agree with. not my choices.

so, it looks like everyone is choosing. holy shit ... everyone it seems is pro-choice.

and to clarify, i'm pretty pro-life also, i love (okay, maybe not every single day....) waking up in the morning, i love that i get to kiss my husband and friends (yes, on the lips, thank you very much!), that i get to watch the sun rise and set, that i get to write and speak and share my thoughts, visit my friends, go to the movies, and theater and laugh and cry and help someone else get through a day. i'm pretty found of life. i think life is extraordinary, even in the worst of times. i'm all for life.

yep, yep, that sounds pretty pro-life to me.

someone said to me yesterday that she was pro-life and ... tada.. "didn't think i was," which by the way, i can understand, so, i kinda looked at her and asked, well, why, what makes you think that? and she said, well, because you're clearly pro-choice, and i said to her, well yes, I am pro-choice, and she asked, well how can you be "pro-life and pro-choice" and i said:

well, you know, i'm also all for pro-bowling, and pro-tennis, and pro-golf, and all for pro-bono work (which is very different than sonny bono work), and pro-skating and pro-duce, and pro-phylactics, and pro-mo and pro-ton, and pro-baseball...

and she kinda looked at me and said, yeah, well, what about an abortion, you think that that's okay? is that what you're saying?

and i looked right at her and said, "you my dear are trying to kill my opinions, wouldn't you call that an abortion?"

i left it at that.

Bigfoot's Cousin

Once upon a time Cavemen roamed the Earth. The first known human was the Neanderthal. But as the story goes, one day he evolved into the newer slicker model of human, Cro Magnon, and supposedly the Neanderthals all just…*poof*… disappeared. Or did they?

Now mentally, the Neanderthal was one enchilada short of a combo plate, if you know what I mean, and operated solely out of fear. When he encountered something he couldn’t understand with his little lizard brain (which was most everything), he feared it. Then he usually clubbed it to death.

But Cro Magnum- well he seemed to be capable of rational thought and problem solving. He learned how to use fire, and make tools. He learned how to build a peaceful society. Why you might even have called him a “Community Organizer”.

Some say the Neanderthal died out when ‘ole Cro Magnon came along, but….I’m not so sure. I have a personal belief that descendants of both still walk the earth. And I’m not talking about Bigfoot, I’m talking about everyday people who walk among us. Recently Science Journal revealed that many of us still carry traces of the Neanderthal in our DNA. Proof that my theory is correct, thank you very much!

Now, how can you tell when you’ve been in contact with a descendant of the Neanderthal tribe? Ask yourself, is this a person who operates solely out of fear, and then tries to destroy what he fears? If so, congratulations – you’ve just met Bigfoot’s cousin!

So keep your eyes open folks! Exciting discoveries are to be made everywhere you look. You don’t even need to carry binoculars or travel to far away places. Just look where fear and hate abide.

Here are a few places sightings might take place, so have your camera ready!

Tea Party Rallies
E Entertainment
Wall Street
The Dr. Laura Radio Show
Religious organizations who profess hate (especially those run by oppressed homosexual men!)

Be sure to let me know if there are other places you’ve seen Bigfoot’s cousin!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


I had a great time at the Los Angeles Rally for Sanity yesterday. What I am most happy about is not only the huge turn out in D.C. (CBS estimates 215,000) but the many satellite rallies like ours in Los Angeles, and all over the world! I wonder if all those crowds were tallied, what the grand total would come to? From Alaska to Hawaii, Texas to Minnesota, Illinois, New York all the way to France! ALL OVER THE WORLD! (See to see all the Sanity rallies that took place yesterday). Pretty cool, huh? It just goes to show you…we are not discouraged and apathetic as the polls and pundits would have you believe. We do care about our country, we will show up and vote. Maybe we aren’t loud and nutballs about it – but we care.
There was a wonderful smattering of unusual characters at the L.A. rally (well it is L.A.) which made it fun. But overall, it was filled with calm, rational citizens showing up to support sane politics. Here we were in MacArthur park, which was sort of known to be a tough neighborhood, all walks of life, young and tattooed, old and gray-haired, families with kids running around (like us) watching the D.C. Rally on a Jumbotron Screen together, cheering along. I saw only two parked cop cars- no police anywhere. It wasn’t necessary. There were a lot of people picking up trash, just to be helpful. It was feel-good day. No anger, no shouting, no hateful racist signs. I think bringing humor and levity to our political situation is the most healing thing we could have done at this point. Laughter is good medicine for what ails us as a country. I love that we are taking politics back with good humor. Hooray for us!
After the Jon Stewart rally ended on the Jumbotron, the crowd thinned out. There was an after-show featuring a flash mob in Halloween costumes doing Thriller (totally cool!) then some L.A. stand up comics, some of them worked blue, and that was uncool. We were in a park in the middle of the day with tons of kids running around, not at the Comedy Store in Hollywood. There was one wingnut in the crowd with a sign stating that everyone was going to burn in Hell, or some such thing, and one comic went after him in a really ugly way, and that was NOT what our day was about. Extremism in any form is wrong. That’s my one criticism of the event. (But our rally was organized by an individual organization not affiliated with Jon Stewart.) Other than that it was a great day and I was really proud to be part of it with my family and friends.
Now if we all show up and VOTE on Tuesday, then maybe we won’t have any kooky tea-party candidates in Congress, and we can all (Democrats AND Republicans) breathe a sigh of relief.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What You Didn't See on the News...

Close to forty thousand people showed up to see President Obama at the USC rally I attended last Friday. It was peaceful and orderly- no drama. Today I can find NO COVERAGE by any major network or news outlet. Now had it been twenty people from the Tea Party, it would have been on every TV channel. Just goes to show you how our media works. Only drama sells.

As we stood for hours in lines that stretched on for eight city blocks, I noticed first how positive and happy everyone was. People showed up with their young children, babies in strollers, grandmothers in wheelchairs. There were young college students and silver-haired couples, buses full of school children. Everyone was smiling, excited, chatting with one another about our President, his integrity, how he’s kept his campaign promises and continues to do so. Forty thousand people getting along. Happy.

And no media – no cameras, no film crews, anywhere.

When we finally proceeded inside USCAlumni Park, it was a human sea of bodies pressed tight together, everyone trying to get closer to where the President would soon stand. And yet, not once was there a fight, no shouting matches, nothing. Peaceful. Forty thousand people.

There was a group of young Republicans standing outside the entrance holding signs “We’ll knock the left out with a HARD RIGHT.” No one said anything to them, just walked past. I had no problem with them being there. America is a two party system, but it just bothers me how aggressive and sometimes violent their slogans are ( RELOAD, AIM …). It’s just unnecessary. How about some good ideas on those signs instead? Don’t have any?

For the seven hours I was there, I searched the crowd for signs of news media, and saw nothing but a Fox News truck. They must have been hoping to catch some negative drama. Sorry guys.

The rally was so exciting. The crowd was pumped up, and started spontaneously chanting OBAMA OBAMA….Let me tell you, forty thousand voices in unison is pretty thrilling when you’re standing in the middle of it. Jamie Foxx was the emcee. He was taking videos of us chanting for his twitter feed. Next was a concert of world music, then speeches by our local democratic candidates – Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer. (Jerry Brown quoted Ghandi in his speech. I like that in a candidate.)

And finally…what we’d all been waiting hours for - President Obama. The crowd’s cheers were deafening. It was such a thrilling moment. The President gave an inspiring speech, as he always does. One of the things he said that stuck with me was “I know many of you are thinking back to Inauguration night, the celebration, the party…but I told you then the road ahead was going to be hard. I told you – power concedes nothing without a fight.” I remember him saying that and I remind people when they start to criticize him for not getting everything crossed off his To-Do list after two years. Give the guy a break. I mean, aside from the mess he inherited, he’s had pirates and flu epidemics and oil spills. I mean, he’s not Superman. But the overall message was – don’t get tired. Not now. Don’t give up on our mission. Don’t get discouraged. Stand up, be counted, vote!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

We The People

So the other day I’m at my local cafĂ© where I do much of my writing…and these two guys walk in. Let me just say that from the get-go, it was obvious these two were a little off. Not to be judgmental, but they were dressed awkwardly, and ordered their coffee too loud, to where everyone in the place stopped and looked up. Then, unfortunately, they settled right next to me and proceeded to have an obnoxiously heated conversation about how the “government” is a bunch of criminals no different from the 39th street Crips, except they have better P.R. They railed against the indignity if you don’t pay your taxes (which by the way collecting taxes is illegal according to these guys) the “government” would come with their guns and haul you away, and steal all your stuff like the thugs they really are. I used to be proud to be an American, but not anymore…one of them said.
Okay. I don’t like to use my blog as a political soapbox, but this is just common sense stuff, people. First of all, I am proud to be an American, because in America, WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT. We live in a democracy, not a dictatorship. It’s WE THE PEOPLE, remember? WE are free to choose the people who represent us. WE are free to become one of those representatives. WE are FREE. And the folks who work in government offices? Just everyday American citizens like you and me, not some mythical villains from a comic book. We are the government, so stop making the “government” out to be some scary boogieman who comes in the night and steals all your freedoms away. Quit playing the victim. You don’t like the way things are - quit flapping your gums and get involved in your community. Run for office. Volunteer to campaign for someone you believe in. Do something to make your world better.
Second, democracy is a two-party system. It’s designed that way to make sure that any one party doesn’t become all powerful….like that scary government so many of you talk about. The two-party system was not designed to be a death match. We aren’t supposed to hate each other because we see things differently. It was put in place to encourage healthy debate, to consider many sides of an issue before we enact the laws of our land. So quit with the hate already!
And third, countries who don’t pay taxes are called THIRD WORLD countries. They don’t have paved roads and freeways and fire departments and veteran’s hospitals and schools and museums and libraries. If you want to live in a civilized country, you have to pay taxes. Period. If you don’t wanna pay taxes - try your fate in another country. You won’t hear me cryin’ as you pack your bags…
Finally, Quit yer bellyachin’! The rest of us would like some peace and quiet while we’re trying to write stuff in a coffeeshop!