Trump-Don’t-Care: More than a nonhealthcare plan, it’s public policy

So, yeah, of course he did. Trump couldn’t get his crappy healthcare bills passed through the legislative process because, amazingly, there are still a few Republicans who refuse to completely sell their soul to the anti-Christ incarnate residing in the White House. So, Trump did what any aspiring dictator would do, if the democratic process doesn’t work, he’ll just make commandments from his throne. So in yet another abuse of executive powers, the poor rendition of an orange Putin imposter dismantled the ACA with a stroke of a pen. He keeps claiming it will make insurance so much more affordable, despite all the numbers which say the opposite. The CBO says it will cause insurance rate hikes as large as 25% by 2020. 2020 is not that far away, people. That is literally two years and two and a half months from now. Okay, sure if you are super healthy you might be able to buy a junk policy that does basically nothing a bit cheaper, but not by much once those rate hikes hit. And then, if you actually have to use it… goodbye insurance premiums you can ever hope to afford! Trump doesn’t care if you actually have access to decent healthcare. All the best medicine and resources are commodities reserved for those who can afford it. He doesn’t care if sick children die because they are just weak links in the gene pool. If the parents wanted healthy kids, they should have been rich. He doesn’t care if poor people die because he thinks they are stupid. His logic: if poor people were smart, then they wouldn’t be poor, would they? He literally equates wealth to competence. While there may be some merit in a self-made multi-millionaire/billionaire being a pretty smart person, that does not genetically transcend through the sperm and ovaries to their offspring who hit the conception lottery. Trump is a testament to this truth.

But not giving a rat’s skinny butt about people is not isolated to the administration’s stance on healthcare. Nope. It is a general, broad-spectrum domestic policy. Just take a look at the disasters. Harvey and Irma earned a rapid and reasonable response from the administration because those are voters who are in states with people he sees as his supporters. There were also a whole lot of white people affected and wealthy people. Can’t forget the wealthy people, with whom Trump immediately likes to identify. Further, helping these people also helped his donor buddies. Lifting the Jones’ Act immediately in order to move fuel was an economic decision that was good for his cronies. If it helped out a lot of people in need, then that was a bonus good for ratings. But with Maria, a whole different scenario emerged. Now, Puerto Rico actually isn’t that far away. A two hour flight from Miami gets you there. It takes that long to fly from Dallas to Las Vegas. But somehow Trump has tried to paint the island to be hidden in the far reaches of the ocean, or “big water,” as he sometimes calls it. He wants everyone to think it is ridiculously difficult for our military, you know, like the Navy with its vast fleet of ships, to reach. Despite knowing well enough in advance to ensure a rapid response by the military, Trump did not bother to order the USNS Comfort to the island until a week AFTER the hurricane hit. He did not suspend the Jones Act until eight days AFTER Puerto Rico was demolished. And the administration had a great response, initially, as to why they did not see a need to suspend the outdated restriction on domestic shipping. They said they felt US ships could handle it fine, we didn’t need foreign assistance and that it was not economically advantageous.

But, of course, Puerto Rico isn’t full of Trump supporters and voters. It is a poor island that the US invaded and forced under US rule, subjecting the people to citizenship, thus making them eligible to be shipped off to war, and squeezing the small economy for taxes without giving them representation in congress. Trump likes ranting about Puerto Rico’s debt and claiming their real disaster is of their own making. But the truth is that the restrictions imposed on Puerto Rico, without the benefit of representation or power to vote, has placed the territory in a no-win position of perpetual economic distress. Conservatives don’t want to make them a state. They feel it would be just handing the Democrats more electoral votes because it is a minority-majority. However, if the restraints on Puerto Rico were lifted so that their economy could blossom, without the advantage of statehood, they would likely seek independence from a nation who really does very little for them. BUT- those are nuances completely lost on Trump. He doesn’t care. All Trump sees is a bunch of poor minorities and that is a perfectly good enough reason to not care if they live or die, or how they go about doing so.

We aren’t finished with disasters, however. Pop over to the West Coast and have a gander at it. Yeah, it is pretty much on fire. Over five thousand homes have been destroyed. Businesses and communities have been laid to ashes. Forty-one people are dead and hundreds missing. More than one hundred thousand people are still under evacuation orders. While the state of California battles these enormous fires to the north, more keep popping up through the state due to unusually high temperatures, low humidity and the strong Santa Anna winds which blast through the region this time of year. But not a peep out of the wanna-be president. Why? Well too many people in California don’t like him and that state didn’t vote for him. It has also been hot spot for anti-Trump protests and its metropolises are sanctuary cities in defiance of his anti-immigration policies. So, all things considered, Trump doesn’t care if California burns to the ground and everyone dies. He took days to respond to relief requests. Those days could have meant resources which might have saved lives. Just like in Puerto Rico, Trump exercises the death penalty for those who disagree with him. While he may not be putting a bullet in their head or a noose around their neck, willful, spiteful  negligence still costs lives.

So, healthcare, disasters, what ese? Hmm? How about his war mongering? Yes, Trump’s ever pulsating need to puff out his chest and demand respect he has neither earned nor deserves, has led to social media saber-rattling, publicly insulting the leaders of other nations, threats to abandon our treaties and honor our commitments, and outright bullying of smaller countries. Yeah, that sounds like leading the free world, right? Trump has done nothing to promote diplomacy around the world. In fact, he literally scoffs at it and calls it pointless. He earnestly believes might is all he needs. He chooses threats to bully the world, but is it even listening? He has systematically turned allies into wary acquaintances. He is pushing enemies to the breaking point. Why? Probably because there is no greater distraction than war. He is pushing buttons in hopes of a war, eluding to its inevitability constantly, for two reasons. First, because he believes war unites the nation behind the banner of Old Glory and no one can criticize him because he is the Commander In Chief of our brave military. He has a ridiculous number of scandals and a very uncomfortable criminal investigation festering around him at the moment, which he blames for his low approval ratings. Actually, he blames it all on fake news and says it is all made up. I’m pretty sure Mueller doesn’t have a Grand Jury for naught, however. And, well, no matter how often he tweets, Trump doesn’t act like an innocent man and his mouth is frequently his own worst enemy. Second, and truly the most petulant, Trump wants to play with his army men. He does not see our sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends as people. He does not recognize that the treasure of our military is not the bombs and guns and planes and warships, but the men and women who wear the uniform. They are the national treasure. They are the measure we use to determine the need for conflict. The test for any politician should be, “is this important enough for my child to sacrifice his or her life?” Not how much money it will cost, because money is replaceable. Lives are not. Trump’s wonton and flippant march towards conflict does not ask that question. It shows an eargerness to play with soldiers’ lives like they are expendable to his whims. He doesn’t care if they die. He doesn’t care if they are injured. He doesn’t care if they are captured or tortured. In fact, he likes soldiers who aren’t captured, as he has told us. Trump doesn’t care.

Oh, we can keep going. Education? Trump doesn’t care. Environment? Trump doesn’t care. Endangered species? Trump doesn’t care. Fair wages? Trump doesn’t care. Protecting the Social Security safety net? Nope, Trump doesn’t care. Fair tax laws? Yeah right… he thinks fair equals tax breaks for him. He doesn’t care about anyone else. Equal rights for all, nope. Trump doesn’t care.

Here is the breakdown, unless your name is Trump, and you profit from it, Trump doesn’t care. That is his broad-spectrum policy on everything. Simple and easy to remember: Trump Don’t Care.

Resist. Fight. Speak.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Shout out to Anne Coffer, great friend and amazing colleague and author. She has a new book out, just released, that is fantastic, Edge of Ridiculous . I loved it! Get it! Read it! Then tell her how awesome she is! 

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

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

Hope. Not Hate.

What is terrorism? Well, we will get to that. Why don’t we start with: what first comes to mind when you hear, “Terrorist,” shall we?

Picture a terrorist in your mind. What does he or she look like? How do they speak? What language? What religion do they practice? Where do they come from?

Thanks to a rather opportunistic re-branding strategy by the Alt Right (synonymous for racist, white supremacist bigots),  the first image conjured when thinking of a terrorist is typically that of an adult, male, Middle Eastern decent, Islamic Jihadist. I’m not saying there aren’t Middle Eastern terrorists. Obviously there are.  But they are far from the only terrorist organizations in the world, and certainly not the first of modern times. And, in fact, some of these are only terrorists by perspective. It truly is amazing the difference perspective makes.

We call them terrorists because they attack both military and civilian locations. We call them terrorists because they believe our civilian casualties are acceptable collateral damage to send a message to our leaders. Let’s look at some acceptable collateral damage.

On July 6, 2008, forty-seven people in a wedding party, including thirty-nine women and children, were killed by three bombs. The bride was among the dead. Nine others were wounded.

On May 19, 2004 forty-two civilians were slaughtered by bombs and gunfire at a wedding party. Among the dead were eleven women and thirteen children.

On November 8, 2008 thirty-seven civilians at a wedding party were killed by bombs, twenty-three children, ten women and four men, in a housing complex where they had gathered for the celebration. An additional twenty-seven people were injured, including the bride.

On December 12, 2013 four bombs struck a wedding procession killing ten people, including the groom’s son from a previous marriage, and injuring twenty-four.

These are just Wedding  examples, not even all of them. The list gets really long when you throw in schools, funerals and hospitals.  The truth is, sometimes the idea of who is a terrorist depends on what side of the bomb you are sitting. If someone bombs your entire family to attempt to assassinate one or a handful of individuals they claim may be present, who would you call the terrorist? The person(s) they want to kill or the ones which said your family’s lives are so insignificant that they are disposable? Would it make you hate the target for bringing this on your family or, perhaps sympathize with them? Would you think that maybe they have good reason for attacking the monsters who killed your family?

Fighting terror with terror only incites more hate. It feeds the ‘us versus them’ mentality, a mainstay of xenophobia. It is not, however, reserved for terrorists we don’t understand, who live across oceans. We suffer it right here at home, neighbor to neighbor. Xenophobia is the bedrock of racism. Fear what is other. Anything other. It is contributing to the racism epidemic in our country. Yes, fear of terrorists is playing a part in the very public displays of racism today. Why? Because once the hate starts spilling out, the floodgates are washed away and restraint becomes near impossible.

We are not even a full generation cycle outside of segregation, meaning there are still many people alive today who lived in that reality. Though I am in my mid forties, I can recall attending a predominately white elementary school as a second grader in a small East Texas town and seeing the very uncomfortable black children who were specifically bused in to meet the judicial desegregation orders. When they first arrived, they stood against the wall looking unsure and frightened. We were poor, so that was the only year I lived in a school district like that. Most of my young childhood we lived in predominantly black neighborhoods and school districts. I believe this is why that memory stands out. I had spent most of my time playing with black children and that was the first time I had really cognitively seen or recognized society treating them as different. And sure, racial slurs were common but I was too young to understand their real meaning. I had no outside concept of anything different. However, so you can have an understanding of how embedded racism was in our society, let me give you an example.

In fourth grade we lived in a very black community. As I said before, we were quite poor, so we lived in what was then called HUD Housing. They were apartment projects which scaled the rent based on income. Just cross the street from us was the grocery store; the only grocery store in our tiny town of about 2,000 people. In that grocery store, in the produce department, they sold a variety of nuts and they always had a big pile of Brazil Nuts, except that is not what they called them. In fact I didn’t even know that was what they were until I was in High School in the late 1980’s. No, they sold Ni**ger Toes by the pound. I kid you not. That is what it said on the sign, without the asterisks. I never really thought about it at the time. That was what they were, as far as I knew. I didn’t have perspective to understand how horribly wrong that was. But every single black person in our town had to shop there and they had to see that sign every single time they went through the produce department. They didn’t have other options to buy groceries. I can specifically still remember that sign there as late as 1981, and it was likely there longer, I just don’t have a specific recollection of it.

Today, I use that memory as a reference point. It really explains the out-lashing of public racism and xenophobia we see today. We had a period of relative public calm, where people were careful not to say racist things so publicly, but the racism didn’t just go away. Those people who perpetuated this ‘us and them’ mentality to feel superior, they didn’t just disappear or even have a great and sudden change of heart. No. Their fear did not abate. Their desire to be superior did not vanish. They just became quiet and built up more and more hatred, festering in their resentment of a world demanding they change. They infected society in quieter ways to subvert the people they saw as lesser beings. They clung to their skin color like it was a badge and wrapped it around religion, distorting the value of self worth and the integrity of faith with their obsessive bigotry.  They found ways to quietly demean minority groups. They created and cultivated a culture of fear and distrust among minority communities and built policing systems which targeted them and evolved prisons into new slave labor camps. They were quiet terrorists, right here at home. But not free to espouse their hatred. Not free to publicly define superiority on their own terms.

Foreign terrorists provided an avenue to release that frustration. Not by becoming terrorists (indeed, why the KKK wasn’t deemed an illegal terrorist organization and threat to public safety suggests the government had already crossed that line domestically), but by hating them, painting them as evil and, in so doing, also labeling anyone who resembled them the same way. Finally, a socially acceptable venue to vocalize their hatred of others. They were able to call upon ancient religious conflicts and reignite them (Christianity vs. Islam of the Crusade periods). However, these radicalized Islamic terrorist groups are relatively new. They spawned after the unsuccessful war against the new nation of Israel, believing an urban terrorism tactic would prove more successful. The general idea being that if they made it miserable for Israelis to live there, they would eventually leave.

While this may sound like a terrible thing, a little perspective gives a lot of illumination. This was really not just about hating Jewish people and, truly, no one can condone terrorist acts, but understanding both sides in this conflict is the only way to ever resolve it. I am also willing to wager many of us would feel the same way in their shoes and may even resort to the same tactics.

Imagine, please, that the world came together and just decided, yes, the Palestinian people deserve a homeland, so they just took the United States and said, “That is no longer your country. It belongs to these people now. They are going to make the rules and laws and you will have to abide by them. They may or may not allow you citizenship and equal rights. Many of you will be required to relocate.” So what would we do? Well, probably say, “Like hell!,” and declare war, but with the backing of the entire world behind them, we would be alone and not likely win. We may be tough but we are not take on the entire world by ourselves kind of tough. Then what? When our war doesn’t work, what do we do? Would we just be content? Where would we go if most nations closed their doors to the mass of our refugees? While this is greatly simplified, it conveys the basis for the position in the Middle East that began this specific terrorism threat which has spread across the world, lashing out at not only Israeli interests, but those who support the Jewish nation. From there, the radicalization morphed into a jihad, seeking to not only subvert Israel, but also competing Islamic factions. The  perpetuating civil unrest is largely fueled by stagnation in their economies, with only one export sector of substance: oil and natural gas and foreign interference in regional affairs.

Please note, I am not taking sides in the Israel/Palestinian conflict. I am not blaming the Israelis or Israel for terrorism. This is just history and it is served without blame. It just is what it is. Israel is a fact. It is there and has been for almost 70 years. I like dealing with reality and feel the region needs to adjust.  But if we want everyone to eventually get along, we do need to understand and accept all the motivations which have caused the conflict to begin with. Understanding without prejudice. We can have empathy for both sides in this equation. In fact, we must.

Prior to 9/11/01, the US had a few scares dealing with these foreign terrorists, the small trade center bombing in the 1990’s, the hostage crisis during the Carter administration, and various issues at U.S. Embassies, etc. While it did cause immediate concerns, people were overall just far too busy hating the Soviet Union and fearing the cold war would heat up into a nuclear war. In fact, the IRA was a whole lot scarier. Not to mention, we had our own issues with civil rights going on coast to coast to be too bothered for too long. When the Cold War ended, we went along doing our own thing, oblivious to the interference our government played in foreign, regional conflicts in the Middle East, such as Iran/Iraq. But 9/11, and a festering of inability to vocalize hatred and fear of ‘other’ quickly changed the public discourse. Suddenly, people were free to hate again. It was okay to fear someone different. Not only was it okay, it was downright patriotic. We fought an unnecessary war in Iraq based off the spurring of that fear. Finally! Someone to hate right out in the open!

More racism. More xenophobia. It wasn’t gone. But fear begets fear. Before long, people become restless that their hate was socially limited. They felt their rights had been impinged upon by stifling their freedom to hate and belittle others. (they called it “political correctness, though most of us just call it good manners) Once bigotry starts seeping through, it pushes and pushes until it’s an uncontrollable flood. Their right to entitlement felt jeopardized for too long. After all, they never stopped being racists. They never stopped seeing themselves as superior. Their old prejudices didn’t disappear. And that brings us to today. Today we are a nation boiling over with hate, apoplectic, trying to decide who we hate the most:  the blacks, the Mexican immigrants, the Muslims, the Chinese, the poor, the Liberals, the Conservatives, the Religious Right, the non theistic, the corporations, the socialists, the wealthy or the sick?  Can there possibly be enough hate and enough fear for everyone? At the core of it all is the racist generations who imparted their false elitism on to their children. In some homes it was openly hateful, while others passed their bias on in more subtle ways.

True, it fades some with every generation, but don’t forget who our political leaders are and how they have been affected by race and prejudice over these years. Don’t forget how many of these predominantly white men tried to impede social justice and equality. A majority of these older politicians were a part of segregation. They grew up in it or grew up in the desegregation era which harbored a great deal of resentment. I have personally known judges and lawmakers who still refer to black people by the N word behind closed doors.

This is what we are witnessing when we see the calls for Muslim bans, Muslim registries, building walls, publishing crimes committed by immigrants, deporting people who should be given paths to citizenship, deporting military veterans who served under the promise of citizenship, hate crimes against LGBT, legalizing LGBT discrimination in our communities and schools, treating black people as though their skin color is enough to warrant fear of life or personal safety and shooting them for things like faulty tail lights or walking home minding their own business. It is all xenophobia, it is all racism. The fundamental cowardice of our nation is prevalent in our fear.  We fear the terrorists and so we become terrorists ourselves, instead of mantling our courage to face a foe and ask them why; instead of facing those we do not know or do not understand with brave acceptance. We see someone who looks different from ourselves and fear them instead of embracing them as brothers and sisters in humanity. We see the practice of other religions and have so little faith in our own that we must destroy them to feel safe in our eternity.

It takes a great deal more courage to open our arms and minds to change and welcome the unknown than to fling insults and brandish might to drive the unknown away. Racists, bigots, supremacists, xenophobics in all shapes and sizes, they are all cowards.

Now we are faced with a choice as this fear has reached an apex n our society. Who will we be? Will we flex our muscles, shout insults and perpetuate the cowardice by trying to push away all that is other? Or will we have to courage to disband our hate? Even those of us seeking equality and justice for all in the name of humanity? Yeah, our hate, too. Can we let the hate we see and hear from others pass over us and have the strength of will and character to, “Be the change you wish to see in the world,”? We all have our flaws. We are each different and unique. But when we unite under a common cause, in peace and with resolution, we have great power, far more power than hateful cowards brandishing their fists. We have the power to instill hope, justice, equality and undeniable human rights to everyone who calls this nation home. Hope is stronger than hate, for it looks ahead to the future, instead of walking blindly backwards, eyes affixed to the past. We already know what is behind us. let us look with eager eyes to the future and make the choice to peacefully resist those who have mistaken their cowardice for courage. Resist those who would drag us all to repeat the failed past of their tainted memory. The future is forward. Hope. Not hate.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Shout out to Anne Coffer, great friend and amazing colleague and author. She has a new book out, just released, that is fantastic, Edge of Ridiculous . I loved it! Get it! Read it! Then tell her how awesome she is! 

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

http://www.newsweek.com/wedding-became-funeral-us-still-silent-one-year-deadly-yemen-drone-strike-291403

https://www.thenation.com/article/us-has-bombed-least-eight-wedding-parties-2001/

https://wikispooks.com/wiki/US_Bombing_campaigns_since_1945

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/target/etc/modern.html

To Trump: Hear My VOICE.

Trump’s VOICE is hateful and nothing more than a propaganda machine to push his divisive rhetoric. When they do not have a story for “illegal” immigrants, it will quickly turn to the “legal” ones. This will become (and in many places already has) a war against anyone who is not a citizen, or doesn’t “look” like a citizen; more xenophobia at its worst.

My husband is a legal permanent resident, since the ’70’s. He is supposed to be 100% protected from deportation. He grew up here, escaping Vietnam as a small child. Legal residents are now scrambling to naturalize into citizenship because they are afraid those promises, like the one made to him,  will become meaningless, that with the stroke of a pen, the rights and safety they were guaranteed will be invalidated.

And how long until even their right to protest or have an opinion is stripped from them? How long before their opinion of our president or his policies  becomes a qualification or disqualification for legal residence or citizenship? How long before an immigrant protesting is stripped of their legal status and deported, their assets seized? With a stroke of a pen it can happen. As those who have been illegally detained by customs officials despite the judicial ruling against the Muslim Ban can tell you, the power of the Presidency is far reaching, and most especially in relation to immigration. It has the power to effectively silence dissent in the immigrant population.

I am ashamed of a country that has caused such fear among the people who live in it, turning them blindly upon one another. I am ashamed that our promise to the world, to all those seeking opportunity, safety, hope and freedom, has been rendered a lie. It is up to us to destroy that lie, to raise our flag into the air and wave its promise truthfully to the world once more.

People should never be illegal. We will never save ourselves by hiding, closing our doors, and fearing our neighbors. Cowards are never heroes and they never forge a path to greatness. We must stand together and be brave, to resist against the clamoring of cowards lost in the nonsense of their fear. We must fight against those who spur and use that fear to their own greedy ends.

I will fight for my husband. I will fight for my neighbors. I will fight to restore the idea of what our country should be, for our hope and our future. So, if Trump wants a VOICE, he can hear mine. Because, resisting him is my birthright. I do not fear retribution. Unlike those I am willing to fight for, no stroke of his pen can take my rights or my voice away. He cannot silence me or those citizens who stand with me. Together, we can ensure a future where every person has a voice, where no one is silenced, where being alive is not a crime… Where birthright is replaced by birth and rights are inalienable.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar-Truong

photo credit: AP/John Amis

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

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

Only Yes Means Yes: The Courts and Rape Culture, Redefining Consent

2016 was a seriously crappy year. In fact, if you were comparing dung piles, 2015 was like a toy poodle’s brown, lumpy work of yard art and 2016 looked like a giant Bull Elephant had an especially grand bowel movement- in your living room. So, when I say it was a crappy year, now you have a full, working mental picture of exactly what I mean.

The fact that it was an especially bitter and horrible election year was bad enough. The fact that ‘alt right’ (previously just known as racists and white supremacists) ventured into the mainstream and were welcomed was enough to make most of us sick. The fact that it was given a total pass by so many made us even sicker. Police brutality was brought to the fore with shining spotlights, caught on camera by ordinary citizens, in undeniable, HD quality; bringing to light injustice is never a bad thing. The ferocious backlash we witnessed in society against those actually seeking justice, however,  was deplorable. And we saw far too much of it. And then, there was the misogyny. Wow. just wow. Women were belittled beyond measure, from Trump’s pulpit to the courtroom. Women, and the rights to their own bodies, were marginalized repeatedly.

And when I say the rights to their own bodies, I’m not just talking reproductive choices. Yes, I am pro-choice, and if you want to know why, click here. But this article isn’t about that kind of choice. This is before that. Like the choice of having sex or not. It is about consent. It is about how consent is never ambiguous. It is about how I don’t have to say no. No is always the implied. The answer is ALWAYS no, unless a woman specifically says yes. There is no ambiguity there. To give consent for something is to say, “Yes.” Consent is not defined as the absence of saying “no.”

So, why is this so important? Why is defining this so crucial? Because 2016 proved that judges seem to be freaking morons. Because it became overwhelmingly apparent as the year progressed that our judicial branch had a serious lack of fundamental vocabulary skills, where they came to the conclusion that rape and sexual assault isn’t so much of a crime if a woman is intoxicated. In fact, an appellant court in Oklahoma ruled that sodomy without consent wasn’t even illegal if the victim was intoxicated because the law did not specifically provide for being incapacitated due to intoxication. I’m pretty sure it did not specifically provide for slipping on ice, a sudden drop in blood pressure causing someone to faint or a tree branch falling and whacking you on the head, either, or a drug induced sleep  (like anesthesia) or a host (millions) of other specific elements which could cause a person to be unconscious, aside from intoxication by alcohol. Some people chose to blame the law for being too vague. I am not of that opinion (though thankfully Oklahoma made a very quick legislative effort to correct any ‘misunderstandings’ by the courts).  The real problem is the same reason a frat boy gets a couple of months for raping a girl behind a dumpster, or a man gets sixty days of time served for repeatedly raping his daughter, because we place all the responsibility on the victim. If the victim was drinking it was her fault. If she didn’t report it, it was her fault. If she was wearing revealing clothes, it was her fault. If she has had sex before, it is her fault. If she accepts a ride home with a guy, it is her fault. If she goes to a party, it is her fault. If she (fill in the blank here) it is her fault. The courts have been attempting to define consent as not saying no, regardless of the victim’s capacity to say anything at all.

Consent is saying, “Yes.” Consent is having the ability to comprehend what you are agreeing to. The message the courts are sending, over and over again, is that women do not have ultimate rights over their own bodies, that they can be forcibly taken, that they can be used, that their safety and sovereignty as a whole human being is less important than a perpetrators whims and exploits and desire for domination. They don’t like to hear rape cases, not because because of the heinous act, but rather because it is an uncomfortable truth, distasteful and rooted in a misogynistic view that women should be chaste and pure and that loose women get what they deserve. It perpetuates this notion that men are primal and can’t control themselves, therefore, women must adhere to different social rules. That is what we are teaching these boys, that they can act on impulse, that they are entitled to act on impulse. They are being taught to, “grab them by the pussy,” just because they can. We saw privileged men such as Turner and Wilkerson and the unnamed seventeen year old assailant in Oklahoma, receive ridiculous sentences which were little more than slaps on wrist or complete acquittal because their future, their lives, their autonomy was deemed more valuable than those of their victims.  And they hinge it all on victim blaming and redefining the meaning of consent.

I suggest we stop this campaign of , “No means no.” We are evidently sending the wrong message. It is, apparently, being taken to imply that women must say no, or have the capacity to do so. Perhaps we should try a more positive approach. Maybe, “Yes mean yes.” or “Yes means consent, silence or anything else means no, you sick bastard.”  (I kinda prefer the latter).  Perhaps if we firmly establish defining consent as specific approval (which is what it seems to mean in every other aspect of law), and we continue our outrage against a misogynistic judicial system, then maybe we can stop giving a free pass to mistreat and violate women. Maybe we could begin accepting that women are whole persons in our society and that they do not exist under separate laws and separate freedoms. Our bodies, our choice.

So, while I applaud efforts to effectively update laws to be more inclusive and require harsher punishments, we need states to address the fundamental issue: make a no-excuses definition of consent to mean an individual gives absolute permission to take part in any form of sexual activity, with complete knowledge and understanding of that consent, and if they are incapacitated in any way which would otherwise prevent them from being bound by any other legal contract, then that consent is invalid, as the person does not have the mental clarity or comprehension of consequences to consensually take part in what could be a life altering contract or event. (You know, like how you can’t just get someone drunk and convince them to sign over the deed to their house or the title of their car… except this is your BODY, and you have no idea if that person has an STD, HIV, is using protection, if you could get pregnant, etc. So yes, life-changing consequences which you should be able to make a rational decision regarding.)

I know… that is pretty darned drastic! Why that would make men have to be really freaking responsible about having sex, especially if their idea of a fun night is getting a girl drunk and getting laid. Getting a girl drunk and taking advantage of her might be considered rape, especially if he intentionally used alcohol to alter her thought and decision making process so she would do something she otherwise would not have agreed to do.  Men never do things like that, do they? But they don’t consider it rape, they just think it is loosening her up so her boundaries get a little fuzzy and she is more ‘open minded.’  Is that a crime?

Yes.

Now, I’m not saying men and women can’t drink and have sex. Sure they can. I am saying it is outright wrong to use a drug to alter someone’s perceptions and then use that as an advantage to have sex with them when they, under normal circumstances, would not agree. And, by the way, that goes both ways. Women shouldn’t use alcohol, or any other substance, to influence a man to have sex with them, either. Yes, girls, that is rape, too. Don’t be a predator. But between consenting individuals who want to drink and have sex together just because that’s what they like to do, have at it. And how is a guy supposed to know? Well, he can ask. He can be honest, tell her he doesn’t want to get the wrong idea and doesn’t want to impose on her. Women will just have to get over being insulted by honesty. If you aren’t interested in drinking and having sex with him, politely say no. Don’t be a bitch about it. He is being responsible and he just gave you a choice while you were still rational enough to make it. Don’t discourage him from giving that choice to someone else. Men, don’t be an asshat when you ask. Be respectful. Also remember, if she changes her mind, it is a no go, I don’t care if your pants are already on the floor.

Also, boys and girls, if you are not old enough to sign a legal contract, you are not old enough for consensual sex. I’m sorry. I know it seems like fun. I know you see it on television, the internet and the movies, but here is the thing: irresponsible sex can screw up your life. Seriously. And if you think oral sex is safe, think again. You can still get awesome things like Herpes and other STDs . If you are being pressured into sex, that is a form of rape. If you are pressuring someone to have sex with you, then you are invading their personal safety. If they don’t say yes without having to be convinced, then that, my friends, is a no.

Which brings us back to the meaning of consent. Only Yes means Yes. Period. Only a sober Yes means Yes. Only a conscious person can say yes. Forget No mean No. It does, but it should never come to that because it is always no in the absence of yes. We need to send this message loud and clear to both our judiciary and legislative branches so that there is no longer even a sliver of ambiguity. We must define consent by what it actually is. Consent is saying yes, not the absence of saying no.

We are One woman, One World.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

http://

photo credit: http://www.gannett-cdn.com/

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

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

No, It Is Not the Orange Way Or No Way

Trump is trying to do to the Nation what he has done to small businesses across the country. He is attempting to force his deal down our throats. Donald Trump has a history of making great propositions, pulling people in with what appear to be fair, reasonable, even profitable agreements and once he gets what he wants, he changes the rules. He calls them in and tells them he is not going to pay them what he agreed. Trump, and his team of lawyers proceed to explain that this small businessman can either take half, or less, of what was agreed to and be happy about it, or Trump will pay him nothing and tie it all up in litigation for years. The small businessman, who doesn’t have the monetary means to pay lawyers for years of litigation, and who needs to pay those who work for him, is coerced into accepting Trump’s terms because it is the only path forward. He just has to cut his losses so he can move on.

Trump’s talk of a rigged election is his way of justifying not accepting the outcome. And now, he has made it abundantly clear he does not plan to accept defeat graciously if he loses the election. Instead, he is positioning himself, and in fact telegraphing to the country and the world, that he either gets his way, or no one wins. He is telling the American people that if he doesn’t win, then he is prepared to make it so that no one does and undermine the transition of power from one president to the next. He will attempt to throw it into litigation for an indeterminate length of time. Oh, but America, you can avoid all of that. All you have to do is give The Donald what he wants. If you vote for him, then you don’t have to worry about him holding the presidency hostage. That’s the Art of the Deal, so to speak.

This is the essence of his refusing to accept the outcome of our election, a temper tantrum meant to bully people into just accepting him on his terms. Of course, it makes sense. This is a tactic which has worked for him over and over again. He is used to using his money and power (and lawyers) to intimidate and take advantage of others.

But Donald, the Presidency of the United States of America is not a position you can bully your way into. You cannot hold it hostage in lawsuits. Your thinly veiled threat is an indecent proposal that should even shame you, if you understand that emotion. In the end, you will not only go into the bowels of history as the most petulant, vile man to ever run for the office of Commander in Chief, but as the worst loser in history. In the meantime, while you are waving your fists screaming about how unfair it all is, how the election (like so many other things in your life that didn’t go your way) was rigged against you, we will move on.

But you won’t have much time to grieve, as you have a fraud and racketeering case to attend to on November 28, and then a child rape case in December.

Vote! Your voice is important. It is your right and your duty.

We are One Woman, One World.

Photo credit: dandyfashionerdotblogspotcom

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

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