Willow Stromer, Guest Blogger, age 11

My time at the Women’s March, on January 20, 2018, was a whole new and different experience than it was last year for me. For example, last year, I just went there because that’s what my Mom and her friend were doing. I didn’t actually understand the meaning of the cause. Sure I knew about what Donald Trump was doing in office and I supported equal rights for women, but I didn’t know the meaning of the word “feminist”.

[fem-uh- nist]

1. Advocating social, political, legal, and economic rights for women equal to those of men.


1. An advocate of such rights

This word. A very powerful one. And even more powerful when a person uses it. Many people think that to be a feminist you have to be a lesbian, or hate men, or you can only be a female to be a feminist. But all of these stereotypes are false. To be a feminist you are supporting who you are as a person or as a woman. Whoever you are, no matter your race, gender, sexual orientation or beliefs, we should all stand together. It is commonly misused and people are quick to judge it. So if you don’t understand this word, feminist, just think of who you are.

You are not less-than because of your gender.

You are not dangerous because of the color of your skin.

You are not dumber because of your class.

You are not bad or mean because of who you love.

We are all EQUAL.

During the March, I focused my attention toward the men who came out and supported us females. These men were helping us protest to show that it’s not just females who won’t tolerate sexist, racist, narcissistic behavior.

I know, up on the top

You are seeing great sights,

but down here at the


We too, should have rights.

-Dr. Seuss

This quote is from the children’s book by Dr. Seuss called Yertle the Turtle. This book was written during the Holocaust about Hitler. In Yertle the Turtle, the king of the pond wants to sit in the highest seat of all so he stacks his fellow turtles on top of each other so he can be the highest and the best turtle. This book translated into the awful and gruesome actions of Adolf Hitler. He put himself before others so he could have the most power. Unfortunately, this book was banned and burned in some parts of Germany and other countries too. Our current president, Donald Trump, is also demonstrating in many ways that what he mainly wants is power. Power has torn many countries apart. It is not power that we should strive for, it is the love and happiness we all should feel and work for, fight for, and even die for. I loved my experience at the Women’s March and I marched for many different causes I know and understand. So if you’re wondering why all these men and women march, go experience it for yourself and you’ll understand.

A storm has been brewing on social media about hats. And not just any hat—the pussy hat. You know, the knitted pink hat with little ears that made its debut a year ago during the Women’s March. An enthusiastic marcher prepping for the Women’s March of 2018 asked on social media where she could find a pussy hat and she unleashed a firestorm of pussy hat haters.

What’s there to hate about knitted pink hats? A lot apparently. Some claim that the pink pussy hat tribe of the 2017 march was primarily comprised of middle class white women and wasn’t inclusive of people of color. Well, hell, who else still knows how to knit? Some 2018 marchers claimed the pussy hat was not inclusive of men and transgender folks. By the end of the thread, the enthusiastic marcher was so discouraged, she said she no longer felt like marching. To that I say: let her have her pussy hat. Let Americans have hats—whatever hats inspire them. Let the marchers wear penis hats, pussy hats, or hats with no genitalia whatsoever.

Trump may be a very sad leader—the worst ever—but he got one thing right in the lead-up to his reign of terror. He tapped into Americans’ yearning for hats. It didn’t matter that his bright red hat was inscribed with a promise he couldn’t keep; what mattered was that he gave out free hats. Had Hillary doled out promising blue, I’m with Her hats, she might have won the 2016 election. Seriously.

If you’re thinking: could Americans possibly be that shallow, you’re missing the point. Americans have an unmet historical yearning for head-wear. And I’m not talking just baseball caps and skullcaps—the least sexy of the hat family. I’m talking fancy Kentucky Derby, Buckingham Palace, British royalty hats—the kind that are fanciful and declare that the person beneath the hat is all that. We come from a long lineage of hat-wearers. And not just women, either. Consider the cowboy, the fedora, the bowler, the panama, the beret, the ascot, and the top hat.

Just think about the promise of becoming a hat-wearing society. People would no longer look at a guy in a hat and think: he’s bald. People undergoing chemo wouldn’t stand out. As it is now, the cancer scarf screams: chemo! and makes one’s heart hurt. And let’s face it: heads aren’t all that pretty. They’re like giant hairy eggs. But put a fancy hat on a hairy egg and things quickly become festive.

Americans could use an uplift right now. Good jobs are being shipped across the border, overseas, or to robots who will eventually be better at everything than us. In fact, we will soon be competing with robots (who have no penchant for booze, drugs, porn, or gambling) for jobs and life partners. America is riddled with an opioid crisis, in part because of the aforementioned job crisis. Our President is a Twitter-addicted disaster with two generals between him and the nuclear codes. Americans who get sick still have to launch Go Fund Me campaigns so they don’t die.

So, yes, we could use some good hats.

Maybe it’s time to create: “We’re coming for you in 2018” hats. If we give them hats, maybe, just maybe they will give us their votes.

I’ve had it with Donald Trump 24/7. I remember saying I couldn’t wait until he lost the election because I’d never hear about him again. That was over a year ago. And any time I turn on news, it’s a Donald Trump-a-thon—on the left and the right. My New Year’s resolution is to turn off any media outlet covering him.

That’s not to say Trump isn’t a problem. We’ve gotten ourselves into a world of trouble by checking out (40% of Americans sat out the last election), wanting to shake things up (blow up DC), electing a reality TV star, and buying neatly packaged false propaganda. And we have by many accounts an incompetent, mentally failing, unstable, narcissistic oaf who needs to be removed from the highest office in the land. We are in a pickle, America.

But if we blame our failings on Trump and leave it at that, we’re missing out on what’s really going on: we elected Trump to serve as a mirror to reflect the current state of the American psyche. Runaway greed, profit at all costs, self-centeredness, over-consumption, shallow thinking, delusional tendencies, bullying, rampant sexism, and no ability for self-reflection. If we like what we see in the mirror, then by all means pursue it. Follow a path of greed and gluttony at the expense of everything and everyone else. If we don’t like what we see, it is time to change course toward a commonsense society where we prioritize health care, education, jobs, infrastructure, safety, and mental health. This will require more collectivism. Instead of hoarding, we will share, instead of I’ve-got-mine, we will make sure you have yours, too. And we won’t just do it on the Sabbath, Sundays, Christmas, Passover, and Easter. We will do it every day. And we won’t just do it at church, temple, or mosque we will do it in our town halls, city halls, our courts, the White House, and the halls of Congress. We won’t just line the pockets of the privileged so they can live in gated golden towers; we will make sure the less privileged have what they need to provide for their families and to contribute meaningfully to society. Yes, it becomes everyone’s concern. It’s not a selfish frenzied race to the top, squashing the people below; it is a networked reaching out to ensure there are no weak links in the chain.

We must stop blaming the black or brown ones, the yellow ones, the gay ones, the rural ones, the urban ones, and the ones who cross the border. It’s not their fault. It’s the men hiding behind the gold-plated curtain who want you to blame the ones who don’t look like you. Those folks are more like you than you’ll ever know. And if you stop throwing stones long enough to see, they’re your neighbors and they could be your friends. Together you can become stronger than you are alone. The men in the golden towers want you to feel afraid and alone. They don’t want you to know you have to power to change everything.

If we blame Trump, we change nothing. Yes, he’s a problem. But the bigger problem is doing nothing and saying it’s Trump’s fault. If we do nothing, it’s our fault. If we do nothing, we are part of the problem. Let’s decide in 2018 to be part of the solution.

How, you ask? Pick your issue—gun control, health care, education, social programs, economic inequality, poverty, homelessness, mental illness, incarceration, urban violence, decaying rural communities, or the opioid crisis. I could go on, but you know what issue you care most about. I don’t need to tell you. Get off your couch, stop being distracted by devices, and do something. Do something so that you can say in 2018, you were part of the solution. And, yes, you can still bitch about Trump, but you don’t waste your talents, abilities, passions on hating a man who is here to teach us all something. Is he the change we hope to see in America? If not, let’s work like hell to make it different.

America used to be a compassionate society.

Empathy, and its close cousin compassion, can be reflected in public policy that shows concern for fellow humans. In response to the economic crisis of the 1930s, for example, America embraced the New Deal, with public works projects that benefited everyone and other programs that promoted a sense that, as a society, they were all in it together. Even though politics were still contentious and the nation grappled with numerous social problems, a sense of a shared humanity was seen in public policy and political rhetoric.

But now compassion is in short supply, particularly among people who claim to be Christians. So, for example, among Republican Congressional members who identify as Christians and represent constituents in the Christian brigade, there is momentum to cut programs like SNAP, which serves meals to poor children and Medicaid, which serves the disadvantaged, disabled and elderly. Their thinking goes like this: bloated government programs only serve to enable lazy to live off the dole.

Compassion and greed are inversely related. As a society becomes greedier, the level of compassion drops. As billionaires hoard wealth and the 99% struggles to make ends meet, compassion is seriously lacking in American society. No wonder the politics of hate and bullying are in vogue, promoting an atmosphere of: I have mine, now get to work, you lazy good-for-nothing poor, disabled, and old people. Here’s the problem with that thinking: a certain percentage of people in every society, including ours, will be unable to work due to no fault of their own. Perhaps they are too sick or handicapped or elderly or even so disadvantaged that they can’t fit into the normal work-a-day world. A compassionate society knows that the more people that are taken care of the better off the society as a whole.

We’ve taken individualism to its extreme. While it was once liberating for our immigrant forefathers to champion their individualism over their oppressive religion, monarchies, or governments, it has become an affliction that threatens the well-being of our society. We are plagued by entitled narcissists who have forgotten what it means to be a collective society. In a collective society, people contribute part of their earnings to pay for services that benefit everyone. In a collective society, people are concerned about their fellow citizens’ well-being and they realize they benefit when we all thrive.

In a compassionate society when people are privileged—especially when they are privileged—those fortunate few give more money, time, effort to help those less privileged. They don’t engage in shaming the poor or underprivileged. Instead they see it as their obligation to do something to help.

What really bothers me is that the people you’d most expect to be leading the charge in building a compassionate society are the very ones tearing it down. I suppose they feel if they tithe, volunteer, or go on missionary trips, they’re doing their part. But they’re hypoChristians. Because the thrust of Jesus’ message was to help the unfortunate, the outcasts, the sick, the disabled. And social programs that effectively serve Jesus’ people are under attack by so-called Christian conservatives. They’re on the chopping block to make way for massive tax breaks for the people who least need them, for the people who are hoarding wealth.

When people hoard possessions, they are considered eccentric or mentally unstable. But when people hoard wealth, they’re revered and admired, and their admirers seek to emulate their hoarding behavior. Worshiping wealth has supplanted worshiping other gods.

If we’re going to survive as a society, we need to bring back compassion. Otherwise, we will self-destruct in our selfie-stick-studded world.

The things that excite me most about the GOP tax bill are: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge because it’s too damned pristine and giving fetuses personhood; power to fertilized eggs, damn it! Oh, and the fact that the tax bill seeks to use churches as political tools, which is long overdue. Not only should they be houses of worship; they should be bastions of political power. Never mind that none of this pertains to taxes. Details, details!

My favorite tax provisions are: no taxes on personal jets, cuz I have several. Reduced taxes for hedge fund managers because they can now take advantage of the aforementioned untaxed personal jets. The corporate tax rate deduction means that corporations already swimming in record cash profits will be drowning in them so stock holders and corporate execs can buy that much-needed villa in the South of France and a fifth home in Telluride And it’s high time we raised taxes on grad students because we all know they’re lazy good-for-nothings who want a free ride. And because they tend to be the most politically engaged (and left leaning), it’s good to punish them for their involvement. One more thing: the removal of Medicare payments for cancer drugs because cancer patients need to stop being such wimps and fight cancer on their own w/out meds. Finally the coup de grace: this bill is a precursor to “restructuring” Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare–also long overdue. The freeloaders who’ve been suckling the teats of the US government need to be cut loose once and for all.

How it went down in the halls of the US Capitol was something to behold. Unleashed exultant looting, pillaging, and hoarding by senators who could finally stop hiding behind false pretenses–Jesus and compassion for the fellow man–and let their lust for the almighty dollar shine bright. It was a veritable orgy in the middle of the night with previously neglected DC lobbyists adding their wishlists to the bill at the last minute in illegible scribbles in the margins. Just in time for Christmas! Santa has met his match. No more oppressive procedures like typing the provisions in the bill so they’re legible. For all we know, the scribbles said: hand over the US to Putin, our new besty. Ah, the vision of Russian and American oligarchs toasting with vodka and caviar, whilst the restless masses whine about their plight. American people: members of Congress are just not that into you anymore.

Cable news has devoted valuable airtime to analyzing the Las Vegas shooter’s background, motives, psychological state, strategy, intentions. Who cares why he armed himself with 49 guns and carried out a mass shooting on innocent civilians? Maybe he had a screw loose, or delusions of grandeur, or issues with his manhood, or perhaps he wanted to go down in a ball of flames, or all of the above? Playing armchair therapist will help no one. It won’t bring back the people massacred in his shooting spree. It won’t heal the survivors or the trauma experienced by those who lost loved ones. Covering a mass shooting madman drives up cable news ratings and makes advertisers happy, but how does it prevent the next mass shooting in America, which is frankly inevitable?

May I request that instead of covering post-mortem analysis of a dead madman that we devote 24/7 coverage on how to prevent the next one? Aside from the profit-at-any cost NRA and the lawmakers the NRA has by the balls, and a handful of psychopaths, who is excited about the next mass shooting that may strike at any time in a school, a theater, a music venue, or a shopping mall, or a place we haven’t even considered? It’s crazy that we have to think twice about going to a concert or a movie, and if we go, we plan our escape route should a mass shooting incident occur. Let me say that again: It is not normal. It is insane.

Of course, the NRA would never go on record as being pro-shooting massacres, but there’s no doubt that such killing fields drive up gun sales. Guns bought by those hoping to protect themselves. Guns bought by the next mass shooters with dreams of going down in a media-frenzied mass shooting suicide. Guns bought by people afraid that mass shootings will result in gun control. Who needs a war overseas when we have one right here at home?

The truth is: the NRA is holding us hostage. All 310 million us. And very few of us do anything other than hand-wringing over how powerless we are in the face of the NRA, the lobbyists, and Congress. But there are millions more of us than them. And, yes, they might be intimidating because they’re armed and dangerous, and super-wealthy, but we’re more powerful than we know. Let’s stop with the myth that there’s nothing we can do. It’s our country. We can take it back. Take it back from the clutches of those peddling in and profiting from killing machines. Those driving the mass shootings that won’t stop until we do something. Those who send out hopes and prayers after a massacre when their actions are driving mass murders in America.

According to the Guardian, no other developed nation comes close to the rate of gun violence in America. Americans own more than one gun for every adult. Data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive reveals a shocking human toll: there is a mass shooting – defined as four or more people shot in one incident, not including the shooter – every nine out of 10 days on average. Translation: that’s a mass shooting almost every day. It is not normal. It’s insane.

Let’s decide right now that there will be no more Las Vegases, or Sandy Hooks, or San Bernadinos, or Orlandos, or Columbines, or Virginia Techs, or Auroras, or shootings that don’t even make the front page. Let’s stop the war on America.

According to Lucian Truscott writing for Salon Magazine, in Gun Control Will Not Stop Mass Shootings, if you want to curb the violence, you only have to remember two words: gas-operated. Gas-operated rifles make mass shootings possible. Gas-operated systems are used in all automatic and semi-automatic weapons including the assault-style weapons used by the Vegas madman. There are no reasons American civilians need gas-operated weapons. None. Scratch that. There is one reason: to massacre fellow Americans.

Only if Congress passes a law banning the manufacture, import, and sale of gas-operated weapons except for use by the military and police will our country be safer. Contact your Congress people and insist that they ban gas-operated weapons for civilians. No, don’t insist. Demand. And don’t stop demanding until the killing fields cease.

I, for one, never believed in the promise on the red hats: Make America Great Again. I do, however, agree with the implied message that America is broken. It used to be great for the middle class before trickle-down economics pooled money at the top of the socioeconomic strata, and failed to shower working-class Americans with promised riches and shared wealth. Add to that the fact that jobs have been shipped overseas for decades to lands without labor laws to unempowered workers with few rights. And the final blow–that will require us to rethink jobs and incomes–is the automation of the workplace. In other words, robots, not immigrants—illegal or otherwise—are taking American jobs. That’s a trend that’s here to stay, because what employer doesn’t want “workers” who never get sick or uppity and will work ungodly hours?

Stephen Hawking says that “we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity” and that the “rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative, or supervisory roles remaining.”

So, when Trump promised to make America great again, he spoke to the angst, panic, depression over disappearing and scarce jobs that offer a living wage and benefits. The great orange-tinged white hope did one thing right: he tapped into the national angst over the disappearing American dream. And maybe he does believe in a grand narcissistic delusion that his mere presence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. will turn the tide and bring back the America of yesteryear—good jobs, prosperity, and a thriving Main Street. As a king, he can declare it, and it will be so. Like many who entertain delusions, reality doesn’t come into play unless it serves the deluded. Quite often, reality’s not relevant and pesky realists are deemed fake newsers and dismissed.

Let’s look at some of Trump’s delusions:
• Obama is a Muslim without a birth certificate.
• Global warming is a hoax.
• Jared Kushner will solve the Middle Eastern crisis.
• His inaugural crowd was the biggest in history.
• He’ll build a wall that Mexico will finance.
• Three million illegal voters cast votes in the 2016 election.
• He has great chemistry with Angela Merkel.
• He’s the most productive president in history.
• Obamacare is a disaster.
• He’s going to bring back the coal industry.
• He’s going to create millions and millions of jobs.

We can’t dismiss the realities at play in America just because we have a president who wants to peddle in magical thinking. He can afford to be out of touch with reality. No matter what happens on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Trump will return to his golden tower, beach club, and riches and live out his days like a king. The rest of us can’t afford to peddle in make believe. If we’re not careful, our lives could come crashing down around us with no buffer zone. Most of us have no golden tower or real estate empire to gamble and certainly no Russian oligarchs to bail us out. What’s at stake here? Our humble lives.

What are the American people to do with a delusional president? Ignore his delusions as best we can and strengthen our grip on reality. What do we know?

Here’s the current state of need in America:
• 95 million working-age Americans are no longer in the workforce.
• Over 1/3 of Americans are on government health insurance.
• 26.9 percent of Americans are on Medicaid.
• 45 million Americans rely on food stamps
• 42 million Americans struggle with hunger.
• More than 1/5 of American children face hunger.
• 63% of Americans don’t have enough savings for a $500 emergency.
• One in three American families have no savings at all.

Many Americans work full-time yet can’t cover their expenses. Some have full-time jobs yet require food stamps or Medicaid. Many Americans must hold two or three jobs just to make ends meet.

What do we need to do?
• Move immediately toward universal healthcare.
• Invest in job retraining: manufacturing to high tech.
• Establish a universal basic income in the next ten years.
• Redirect corporate welfare money to healthcare and education.
• Raise the minimum wage to a living wage.

America is broken. In so many ways, it is broken. We don’t need America to be great; we just need it to work for vast numbers of American people. And if by working for most of its citizens, America achieves greatness: bring it on!

In the meantime, we need to fight like hell to make America work again.