Are You Feeling Safe Yet?

Trumpaloompa has done absolutely nothing to unite this country. This country of immigrants. This country of refugees. He continues, executive order after order, to inflict his small, bigoted mind on the masses.  His Middle East ban is nothing short of a ban on Muslims, a method to discriminate based on religion. We know this because Trumpaloompa ensures that Christians will be given priority. But, hey, you alt-right so-called Christian conservatives, Trump’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. He got a Muslim ban for you, like he promised, but he couldn’t quite take it far enough to threaten his own pocket book. So, he left out all the countries where he has business ties, you know, the ones where actual deadly terrorists, who attacked the US on US soil and killed US Citizens actually came from. So, he is with you, so long as it doesn’t hurt his profits.

And in case anyone ever has any question about how I feel on this issue, here is some info for you to digest. I am married to a refugee. My husband had to escape a war torn country (that the US was at war with and lost) as a child, with his family. My husband, who is an absolutely wonderful man, was once a desperate child on a boat trying not to die, watching as others were killed or lost to disease and famine. He has been in the United Sates for thirty-seven years and he is thankful for his life here. He is a resident alien.

When I see these children, I see him. I wonder what would have been his life if he had been turned away because of someone’s unjustified fears? Are you really such a coward that you would sacrifice countless lives to hide from the fractional percent of danger that someone might pose? Is your faith that small? I would rather die today doing the right thing than live a long life cowering behind the sacrificed, innocent lives of others. And if you are not willing to die or sacrifice yourself, or even your own convenience, to do what is morally responsible and just, then you have no business calling yourself a Christian. You have forsaken your god for an idol; you have placed more value on yourself than your faith. You are a coward.

We are a nation of immigrants, a nation of refugees who came here in the hopes of a whispered promise.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My husband’s mother smuggled her children out of a Communist won country, suffered through pirate attacks, were lost at sea and were left to die by passing ships. A last pirate attack proved they had nothing left to take, no food, no valuables, nothing but a slowly sinking vessel.  So the pirates towed them to a sand bar which allowed them to walk into Thailand, where they spent more than a year in a refugee camp. Not all of their family survived the journey. The atrocities he witnessed are chilling. Were it not for the compassion of those last pirates, he and his family, along with many others, would have died. So when I look at what we are doing today, what I see is that we have less compassion, less moral aptitude, than pirates. We truly are, collectively, cowards brandishing our chest and might, hiding our fear behind a false show of strength to disguise how hollow we are inside. Empty.

The Trumpaloompa administration has now come after immigrants. It has challenged religious freedom by attacking Muslims. Next on the slate, per released White House leaks, is an executive order against the LGBT community. Are you complacent because you are not an immigrant, or you are not Muslim or because you are not LGBT? Well, be reminded

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

We are all something. We each have something which can identify us. Women, Men,  LGBT, Minority, Religion or Atheist, Homeless, Poor, Elderly, Disabled, Middle Class, Sick, Unemployed, Under employed, Children, Veteran, Liberal, Conservative, Single Parent, Married… we all live behind labels. If you restrict anyone’s rights based on a label, it is real people who suffer and only because they are different. It becomes easier and easier to justify xenophobia. It becomes easier and easier to suppress those who are different. But eventually, you will come to realize that we are all different, when they come to suppress you.

I will not be a coward. Though I can never imagine being as brave or strong as my husband or his family, I will fight to help ensure that we remain the kind of nation which welcomes a child, seeing his or her potential, knowing their diversity gives us strength and hope. Though I know not every immigrant will be a good person, because that is not realistic, I refuse to use the excuse of the very few to justify cowardice. I will not disgrace my country by standing aside while cowards close our borders and hide, cowards who will never feel safe because there will always be someone who is different.

We are One Woman, One World.

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Are you equal enough?

While working on another article the last few days, I have been distracted by a bombardment of people, both men and women (though mostly men) filling the social media universe with condescending diatribe and snippets against the peaceful marches protesting Trump over the weekend. But out of all the hateful things said, the “alternate facts” given, and the disparaging comments, there is one, central theme I found the most disturbing. Repeatedly I saw women’s rights in the United States being compared to oppressed women in other places of the world, in an effort to point out how good women have it here as opposed to places where they are nothing more than property to men. This, above most other arguments, reveals the embedded misogyny in our culture. Why does it reveal so much?

This argument says you have it better here than somewhere else, so you should be thankful. The implication is that these are not your rights, so much as privileges which could be revoked. It is the same method used by abusers to rationalize and normalize mistreatment. Abusers tell their victim that smacking them here and there isn’t really abusive, because they don’t have black eyes, a bloody nose, or broken bones. They tell their victim how much worse someone else has it, how those are the people who are really abused, and remind the victim what all the abuser does for them, so they should be thankful. Abusers use this language to undermine the value of those they overpower, by making them believe they should be thankful their life is not worse, to make them feel guilty for wanting more; make them ashamed and feel greedy at the thought of a better life. It is a psychological abuse to keep them in line and under the abuser’s control.

Now the deep, abusive misogyny is revealed. Equality is not based on someone’s misfortune. We do not measure our freedom against those who are oppressed in other places in the world. The measurement of our equality, the measurement of our value and our rights are against our fellow citizens. And we are not equal.

The white patriarchy of this country enjoyed designing for itself a system of great rewards. That constitution we hold so dear did not apply to lesser humans, like women and minorities. We have been forced to fight for every single right, every tiny step towards equality was a monumental struggle: in women’s rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, and actual religious freedoms.

It is time we see the patriarchy for what it is, and those who support it for who they are. It is an abusive spouse continually trying to shame us for wanting more, telling us to be thankful for what we are given because it could be so much worse. They seek to distract us with our own shame, so we will fall in the line of complacent obedience. They tell us we should be grateful. They tell us we are equal enough.

But women are still fighting for the right to govern their own bodies. The wage gap between men and women is between 53% to 75% depending on your minority status. Girls are taught in school that they must dress certain ways or they will distract boys, meaning a boy’s education is more important than a girl’s and that girls are responsible for the behavior of boys. The judicial system continually dismisses or hands down ridiculously light sentences to men who commit violent crimes against women. Sexual consent is defined as not saying no, rather than saying yes. Victims of rape are shamed for what they wear or drink instead of rapists being held accountable for their actions. Black communities are targeted by law enforcement to fill private prison quotas. Prisons have become the new slave drivers. Healthcare is a for-profit commodity extorting money from the most vulnerable of people. Child poverty, hunger and homelessness is actually still a problem. People are being attacked for what bathroom they use. The disabled are being ridiculed and education funds are being ripped away from schools to care for and enable  our special needs children. A woman seeking an abortion is condemned, but an unwed mother is shamed. Men with money buy political power and influence while paying less in taxes, while people working just to survive foot the government’s bill. Corporations are given more authority and rights than citizens, allowed to destroy properties and undermine the natural resources necessary for life for communities, all in the name of profit. The EPA, FDA and even the Parks and Wildlife Administration are no longer allowed to answer to the people. Citizens can no longer call the Whitehouse, the People’s House, with complaints or concerns. Doctors no longer are required to treat patients regardless of their sexual orientation or social choices. People can be denied medical attention based on the religious ideologies of the doctor or facility. This also means that employers will be able to discriminate against employees, or the hiring of employees, based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion or any bigoted idea they can claim as part of their religion. Minimum wage has failed to increase with cost of living and the tax cuts given to corporations in the Trickle Down Economics Theory did not consider that the benefits would trickle no further than the top, making the corporate executives far wealthier while maintaining the lowest possible wages for employees. The minimum wage was not created for part-time students. It was created to ensure that hard working people earned a reasonable wage to live. Congress and the the Senate give themselves cost of living raises, but don’t seem to think the citizens of the United States require a livable wage to survive.

But you are supposed to feel equal enough. You are supposed to be thankful it isn’t worse. You are supposed to take what you are given like it is some great gift you didn’t earn, rather than your right as a human being. You have a right to your body and should not have to ask anyone for permission or their approval to exercise that right. You do not have to accept public shame for crimes committed against you. You do not have to accept less pay for the same work. You do not have to accept pollution in your community because it benefits corporate profits. You should not have to suffer or die, or watch those you love be consumed by illness because you can’t afford designer healthcare. People should not be living in abject poverty while working full time jobs. You never should be forced to hide who you are or who you love. You should never have to fear the police.

Being thankful for what you have does not make you equal. United, we must stand against this abusive ideology. When you see this thrown at you, call it out for what it is. Ask them if what they really mean is that we are equal enough so we should stop complaining.

I refuse to accept their abuse with complacency. I refuse to be their subjected victim. I am going to continue to fight, to fight back, because NO. We are not equal enough.

We are One Woman, One World.

Women’s Global March

photo credit: http://designedthinking.com/

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MARCH IN BODY, MARCH IN SPIRIT: WOMEN AROUND THE WORLD STAND AGAINST TRUMP

Today in cities large and small, across the United States of America and across the ocean, women, men and children have taken to the streets in a sign of solidarity against the oppression of women’s rights. Many, unable to march, are contributing by other methods: through social media, by sponsoring marches, signing petitions, writing letters, sending emails, making phone calls, or in a host of other ways. While it is true there are (too many) women (and men) who support Trump and his backwards policies, blatant misogyny, and rape culture, the vast majority are appalled. We, as women, are right to feel threatened as we watch the birth of an amoral, religious fundamentalist administration intent on revoking the rights so many have fought, suffered and, some, even died to win and protect.

Women around the world are standing today to say, “No.” We will not accept being pushed back under the thumbs of men, reduced to breeders with our value determined by physical attributes rather than our intellect and ability to contribute in society. We will not speak only when spoken to, but shout to the world, to those that seek to oppress us, “We are strong. We have power.” We are not just mothers, daughters, aunts, nieces and sisters. We are people and we will not sit meekly aside while our rights, even to our own bodies, are dismantled.

To quote one of the strongest women to ever walk this planet, who has withstood misogyny hurled at her with grace and poise and never backed backed down, “Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights.”

Today’s marches around the world are not the culmination of our protest. They are the beginning.

We are One Woman, One World.

Women’s Global March

CNN

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Could California put a leash on Trump’s radical administration? Why, yes, perhaps they can.

2016 was a Douglas Adams kind of year. That is not an insult to the late, great author of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. No, it is more on point in recognizing that 2016 felt like we were taking a long, arduous journey in his Improbability Drive powered space craft. We saw events that made us all scratch our heads and go, “Huh? What the hell? How did that even happen?” Well, it happened because even the most improbable of things have the possibility of reality. And 2016 was like rolling snake eyes ten times in a row: sure as heck unlikely, but technically possible.  Now we have to deal with the asshole at the table who thinks he is brilliant because he bet on those snake eyes and won. Ninety-nine percent of the time, he is a loser, so when he wins, he makes everyone suffer. Yay for us all. [insert sarcasm… please].

So how does this come back around to California? Well that is a great question and I am happy to pretend you actually asked it! 2016 taught us a very harsh mathematical reality. The improbable is possible. Between Brexit and Trump, the world is in shock. Some people would be inclined to think we need to calm things down, try to find our sanity, use our golf clap and fake smiles and attempt to pretend we are not lurking at the edge of disaster. But I was thinking about that. Now, I’m not a doctor or anything, but in the Bugs Bunny cartoons, Yosemite Sam hits his head and loses his memory (kind of like how we seemed to forget our moral responsibility to not cast stupid votes) and while Bugs definitely took advantage of Sam, and pretended like everything was just like it should be, Sam didn’t get better until he was hit on the head again. Maybe, just maybe, we don’t need a “coming together” and holding hands solution, which primarily involves sticking our heads in the sand for the next four years praying the fallout won’t be too bad when we dig ourselves back out. Perhaps what we need is another hit on the head (or kick in the arse). Maybe we need to embrace the improbable, ride that space ship, own it and use it. California is poised to do exactly that.

California is the third largest state in the union in acreage, but has the greatest population. It is followed, not even remotely closely, by Texas. In fact, you can easily fit Ohio’s entire population in the difference. Likewise, California contributes roughly $300 billion in federal taxes every year. And, you guessed it, that is a lot more than anyone else. California ranks 46th (out fifty states) for receiving federal money in return. The four states receiving less are Kansas, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Delaware. The combined population of those four states is 16,315,125 (as per census bureau 2013). Compare that to California’s population of  38,332,521 citizens. The fact is that California is paying more and getting a lot less for it. They have more citizens to care for, which includes ensuring their safety, human, and civil rights, maintaining infrastructure, and providing education. To top it off, Californians have less voting power than any other state, as much as 3.6 times less than some states (which means it takes 3 1/2 voters in California to almost equate to one vote in some other states.)

Now, using Trump’s own ‘good deal, bad deal’ analogy, California is not in a healthy relationship with the United States. As reported by Reuters in June of 2016, California surpassed France and skyrocketed from the eighth largest economy in the world in 2014 to sixth at present, with a 4.1% real terms growth. So, considering California’s robust and stable economy, perhaps it should take a feather out of Trump’s hat and renegotiate the terms of its position in the Union. Believe it or not, California may be willing to take Trump to task.

Calexit. I know you have seen the memes, played them off as a loser’s fantasy, but who thought Britain would leave the EU or the US would have an oompaloompa as president? The truth behind the meme is that this is actually real. A committee for Yes California is presently preparing the petitions necessary to place an exit option on the ballot for Californians to consider. Should it garner the half a million signatures required to put it on the 2018 ballot, California could definitely see a change of standing with the federal government. The ballot measure is actually a call for a special election in 2019 to determine the desires of Californian citizens. Neither measure would immediately result in the secession of California from the United States. It merely paves the way for that process with the support of the population. The first vote is to create the opportunity to secede, the second is to pursue that opportunity.

Yes California’s website yescalifornia.org provides many compelling reasons and statistics to support the position of secession. However, I am not quite ready to endorse actually leaving the United States, just yet. Trump does make the offer so tempting, however. What I do support, what I will endorse, is signing the petition and even voting yes on the 2018 proposition. Does that sound contradictory? Maybe. But it won’t when I explain why.

Far separated from all the reasons listed on Yes California’s website, I see a different, but equally valuable opportunity. The truth is, the petition and even the initial vote are for nothing more than to have an open discussion, a public debate. Discussions and debates hurt no one. In fact, California has absolutely nothing to lose from this discussion, but the whole country could gain from it. How? Let me tell you what I see.

I see an extremely dangerous and fundamentally extremist administration coming into power, with a compromised, narcissist, wanna-be dictator leading it. We have already witnessed a dismemberment of our core values, like equality, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to protest, and our freedom of speech. We are at the cusp of entering a new world order, where women no longer have the right to govern their own bodies, marriage equality is reversed, religious dogma is taught as science, immigrants are hunted down, religious freedom means the right to choose what denomination of Christian you want to be, a crashing economy, police states where citizens have no recourse for abuse of power or brutality, misogyny is welcomed, homophobia is encouraged, racial tensions and hate crimes are intensified and wars are fought, sacrificing the lives of our children, parents, siblings, and friends, for the financial benefit of warmongers, or, worse yet, Trumpaloompa’s pride. Millions of people are about to lose their healthcare options. People are going to die as a result. We are standing on the edge of this precipice. And how do we stop it? How can we keep the country from tumbling over? Well, California might can.

Placing secession on the ballot sends an absolute message to Washington DC. That message says bluntly, “Don’t go where we can’t follow.” In essence, placing this measure on the ballot and voting yes in 2018 puts a leash on Trump and Washington. As much as they don’t care about the West Coast state, they do love its money. They know an historic vote to leave the Union would cause chaos, for them, and lead to other states joining suit. The Religious Right, Alt Right, would discover quickly it does not have a mandate to turn back the clock and stuff their contradictory morals down everyone’s throats. If the Golden State can stand unified in its own self interest against Washington DC, it could literally save the nation and ensure the continuation of this democratic republic experiment.

But, what if Washington doesn’t play nice? What if they continue down that dark path in spite of California’s attempt to reign in sanity by whopping the country over the head? Well, then they have options and have opened the door for others, as well. If Trump tries to burn down everything the US stands for and with the swipe of a pen undoes decades of hard fought for rights and freedoms, if the American dream is lost, then California would have the option and opportunity of dreaming anew.

However, and given what 2016 brought us I almost dare not say this, the former is more likely than the latter. Meaning, it is more probable the leash will hold this beast back and keep it somewhat tame. If it holds, it could save the nation. If it doesn’t, the nation was already lost.

So, to summarize: I think Yes California is doing the right thing for right now. We may not completely agree on the reasons, although I do not disagree with any of their points, as they are all valid, but by themselves, for me, would not be enough to take on the enormous challenge involved in creating a new nation. But, added to the dismal prospects of the Trump Kingdom, or Trumpdom, I can find absolutely nothing but benefit in continuing this conversation into 2019. The more seriously we look at it, the more seriously DC will take it, and, therefore, the greater an impact it can have. Sometimes you have to threaten to quit for your boss to realize how important you really are and, perhaps, you should be afforded more respect for your contributions. In the end, the US needs California a lot more than California needs the US.

So, in my continued interest to promote equality for all people, end misogyny and promote women’s rights, human rights and civil liberties, I am going to support the discussion of this measure, support the petition and a 2018 yes vote. It is not treason, it is not unAmerican or unpatriotic. In fact, it could be the most patriotic thing  most people do, as it affords a genuine opportunity to reign in an illegitimate administration and prevent it from imposing radical changes not supported by the majority of citizens. It is utterly peaceful but displays strength and power. It is like a protest with options. I like it.

We are One Woman, One World.

For more information about Yes California, to contribute, ask questions, find local chapters, find events, or visit their blog : http://www.yescalifornia.org/

Resources:

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/usa/states/population.shtml

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_tax_revenue_by_state

https://wallethub.com/edu/states-most-least-dependent-on-the-federal-government/2700/

http://fortune.com/2016/06/17/california-france-6th-largest-economy/

photo credit: http://www.freakingnews.com/Rosie-O-Donnel-with-Donald-Trump-on-a-Leash-Pics-112626.asp

Links: More ways to find me or colleagues of mine to check out!

AnnLavendar.com     LeeLooPub.com   Author Mishka Williams BrickWilson.com    UtimateGalacticUniverse.com