Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Friday we lost a great American patriot and true hero of equality. She was a woman of unquestioned character with a mission in life to ensure the freedoms and liberties of our nation are a blanket of protection and opportunity for every man, woman and child within our borders. Ruth Bader Ginsberg was, until Friday September 18, 2020, a living legend in the fight for equal rights. Most see her as a champion of women’s rights, but that is to view her through a small lens and misses the foundation and the spectrum of her contributions. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg believed in human equality. She embodied the fight for human rights, that every person is entitled to the same considerations, liberties, and freedoms under the law without regard to race, gender, sexuality, religion, financial status, or national origin. RBG understood a wise truth: that the signing of our Declaration of Independence and the ratification of our Constitution was not the culmination of liberty and freedom achieved, but the beginning of that pursuit.

Our nation began as an infant, its expressed freedoms and rights bestowed on the few: male, white land-owners. But even as the men who crafted it kept their powers close, they also understood the nature of infancy: growth. Because of this foresight, they crafted a foundation to accommodate both growth and growing pains. They formulated a document to bind us and free us, with the flexibility to grow as we grew. They gave us the ability to become a more perfect union, a more inclusive republic, and a beacon of freedom to all people. The founding fathers created a completely new idea of patriotism, giving citizens the right and duty of dissent. They made a government answerable to the people, and placed in the hands of the people the right to ratify and change the boundaries of freedom and power.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg believed freedom and liberty and equal protection under the law were more than utopian talking points, but tangible rights affordable to everyone. Because of her contributions to the fight for equality, we are all freer today. While no one should look at our nation and claim we have achieved the pinnacle of equality, thanks to RBG, we climbed higher up that mountain, ever closer. Due in great part to her contributions, and those of so many other amazing patriots, women can purchase property, open bank accounts, obtain a credit card, and even buy a car without needing a man’s consent. Yes, not that long ago, women could do none of those things without their husband, father, brother or nearest male relative cosigning for them. People of color are able to obtain business loans, open businesses in any location, have credit cards, and purchase homes without being legally excluded from ‘desirable’ neighborhoods. LGBTQ people are protected under the equal rights amendment and further, we all can marry (or not marry) the person we love without consideration to gender, sexuality, race, or religion.

It would be a kind reflection to believe we could take some time to absorb the enormity of her accomplishments and the goals she still had yet to achieve, but that time spent pausing in memorial would be to undo so much of what she fought for. Without her kind but penetrating gaze and her stalwart dedication to equal justice, it is up to each of us to lift the torch she once held with seeming ease. It is heavy in our hands, but working together, we can continue this Everest climb to that ideal summit of true equality.

Let us not mourn quietly her loss, but celebrate her life by demanding what she demanded, by continuing her fight and seeing to it she did not labor her entire adult life in vain. Ruth Bader Ginsberg showed us how much one person can accomplish. Just think of the reality we could have if we all put in even a tenth of her effort to a better world. We have the ability to see that dream fulfilled; to be a true beacon of freedom to all the world. We can see the fruition of what was begun over two hundred forty-four years ago when the founders first began this trek. They were imperfect, as are we, but that does not dismiss the call to rise above ourselves, to be better, and to choose a better life and world for tomorrow.

Thank you, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, for showing us all that even if we feel small, we are still mighty enough to move this mountain and we can defeat any giant who stands between us and our liberty.

Fairfarren, Justice Ginsberg.

by Ann Lavendar

Coronavirus: Why are we not vigorously testing?

I am writing this article today from quarantine, day three of quarantine to be exact. I have read articles and testimonies of patients and citizens across the country frustrated with the national response to this crisis. Despite the government’s statement that anyone can get tested with a doctor’s request, people across the country are stating otherwise, including the doctors requesting those tests. I can now add my own account, first hand, to the equation.

I spent six hours in an isolated room in a nearby ER on Monday, March 9, with flu like symptoms. I had not intended on being there, by any stretch. I had gone to my healthcare website to make a phone appointment with my doctor and was re-routed after answering a few questions, and asked to call a specific number. Once I called and spoke with them, they advised I go immediately to the emergency room. They called ahead so the ER would be prepared. I was told to wear a mask if I have one or, if not, use a cloth to cover my nose and mouth, to wait outside and away from other people, and have my husband (who should also wear a mask or cloth) go inside to inform them I had arrived.

Once I got there, someone came out, ushered me inside, through a door and into an isolated room where I waited for hours upon hours.

What brought me in? The previous afternoon I had began to feel some shortness of breath while out playing golf. I do have asthma, so while it didn’t feel like an asthma attack, I still felt it was more likely attributable to that. By the evening I had a sore throat. By the next morning I had a cough. A nasty cough. This was why I tried to get a phone appointment with my doctor.

Long story much shorter, I had developing pneumonia. I had taken DayQuil for my cough, so when I presented to the ER I did not have a fever, although I was able to report that I had experienced chills in the night and that morning prior to taking a fever reducing medicine. We also had potential second degree exposure through a gentleman whose daughter had traveled abroad and contracted the illness.

My ER doctor spent a good deal of time on the phone with the CDC attempting to get approval for testing. They refused to approve a test. They did, however, state that I and my immediate family or those I keep close contact with, needed to self quarantine for fourteen days. They also suggested I return to the ER for testing when they can verify a fever of at least 100.3 degrees (F).

This is with chest x-rays, negative flu testing, negative strep, and no other obvious reason for symptoms and with an onset of symptoms less than twenty-four hours before.

The doctor was exasperated and put it rather bluntly that what the government is telling people and what is actually happening are two very different things. We both agreed that since we had to be quarantined anyway, and the reality of how long it takes to be confirmed negative (which requires being tested at least twice to ensure the virus was not just missed in the first swab) it would be pointless to come back for what could be an even longer wait and waste of valuable medical resources unless I felt I needed medical intervention.

That ER doctor called daily to check on me until my follow-up phone appointment with my primary physician.

My story is not unusual. In fact, it is the norm. You cannot track the community spread of a new virus if you refuse to test people who present with symptoms. If you only test people with milder, non life-threatening symptoms who have traveled outside the country or had prolonged contact with a confirmed case, then you cannot detect the abundance of community spread. Period. Presently, you have to have severe symptoms to be tested and the majority of people do not have severe symptoms. But they are still quite contagious. This is a serious problem.

Why test people with fewer symptoms? Well, because we know that people who only exhibit mild symptoms are still contagious. They are the most dangerous people in our communities, not the ones who become deathly ill. It is the person with the stuffy nose, itch in their throat, and only mild or even no fever at all, who walks around everywhere, touching everything, and breathing on everything and everyone, who spreads it all the more. From them, the virus hops around quickly and quietly, making its way to hosts who are more vulnerable. And we are not tracking this at all. We aren’t even testing people who are clearly sick, let alone attempting to locate the more silent carriers.

Without widespread testing, there is no way to determine how many people may be infected nor who may be at higher risk based on exposure. What we know is that this virus is many times more contagious than common influenza strains and based on the data we have, much, much more deadly, especially to those over sixty or with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and lung disease.

Let’s put that into perspective. According to the American Lung Association:

“In 2017, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey found that approximately 22.5 million (9.1 percent) of adults residing in the United States and 7.9 percent of children from twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia reported currently having asthma. About 16.3 million adults (6.6 percent) reported ever being diagnosed with COPD. Close to 33.2 million adults (13.4 percent) reported being diagnosed with chronic lung disease. “


Every one of these people are at higher risk of developing the more severe COVID-19 lung illness.

Based on the American Heart Association’s “Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics-2019 Update” nearly half of all U.S. adults have “some type of cardiovascular disease.” 116.4 million U.S. adults (46%) have hypertension, more commonly referred to as high blood pressure.

Every one of these people are at higher risk of developing the more severe form the the viral pandemic.

Per the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), more than 30.3 million U.S. Adults have diabetes. Every single one of them are at higher risk for developing serious illness during this health crisis.

Even considering some of these diseases overlap in individuals, and adding age into the mix, more than half our nation is at high risk of potentially serious illness or death from COVID-19 and it is the quiet transmission which makes it all the more dangerous.

So, why is there not widespread testing? How is it places like South Korea can have literal drive-through testing for it’s people and here is the United States, we are months behind the curve of other places, with a government that seems to prefer shifting blame than dealing with a crisis? The administration appears to be more worried with keeping low “official” numbers than tracking the illness and making certain there is adequate response to the increasing healthcare needs of citizens.

Truly, we cannot stem a pandemic by ignoring it. We can’t wish it away with happy thoughts. All the banking and big business bailouts in the world can’t replace medical staff fighting the front lines, placing their own lives and families in danger, as they work with inadequate supplies, over-run hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics, or magically create new ICU beds. Slow testing keeps those official numbers relatively low, but it endangers lives.

I’d like someone to please explain to me how the NBA has somehow become more responsible in a medical crisis than the government who is charged with keeping our safety.

And who will suffer the most from the economic fallout? Minorities and lower income households. The people who may be forced from work but have no savings, no ‘telework’ options, no health insurance, and no paid sick leave or PTO. Layoffs have already begun, especially in the hospitality industry. Even worse, no one knows how long this will last.

We need to demand a better response from our government. Throwing blame at other nations for not protecting us is both futile and a dangerous deflection. FEMA has funding and the capacity to help deal with this situation, but it requires a declaration of emergency. For an administration who had no trouble declaring national emergencies to build walls or assassinate foreign officials, you’d think they could muster the ability for a literal pandemic currently in forty-five states and D.C..

Well, it is just something to think about. I’ll visit this topic more over the next eleven days of stir crazy solitude. For now, I’m going to rest because, after all, I am rather sick. Not gonna die from it, but I still feel it necessary to share just how messed up this all is. Testing saves lives. Lives are much more important than good numbers, especially when those numbers are false.

Make noise. Demand better.

We are One Woman, One world.

Endorsement Announcement: Elizabeth Warren, step right up.

As a resident of Southern California, our primaries are looming just around the corner and candidates are all about to get into the thick meat of delegate hunting. Only about 2% of the nation’s delegates necessary to win the Democratic Party nomination have been awarded, so this race is a long way from over. In fact, they have barely even left the gate. While some see Bernie as the front runner right now, we’re nowhere near the final turn. And, I’ll remind you, it hasn’t been long ago everyone felt Biden was a sure thing.

Thankfully, the race is narrowing to our prime candidates who all have the experience, network, organization, and platform to compete in November. Still, it is time to start making the difficult decision about who to support. There are many things to consider, like plans and policies, effective leadership, agendas, and even competency. However, the one thing that keeps getting tossed out there with regularity is electability.

I know, that sound important, and it is, but it’s not a real issue. Here is the fact, almost everyone still in the campaign polls to beat Donald Trump in November. That includes Bernie, Mayor Pete, Warren and Biden. Even Bloomberg, who started late and only has one campaign donor can beat Trump. So, in making my decision, electability was not a real concern.

Now, for full disclosure, I have liked and leaned towards Senator Elizabeth Warren for a long time. In fact, I listened to her speak several years ago and thought even then she would make a fantastic president. I was thrilled when she announced she would seek the Democratic Nomination.

I am not going to say I always agree with her on every issue. We may have some differences of opinion in some things, but I like to keep that in perspective. Who really agrees with someone else 100% of the time? I know I don’t always agree with my husband, but we are still happily married, and that is certainly a much longer commitment than four to eight years. Also, something I have learned from a healthy and happy marriage is that sometimes our differences are what lead us to our best decisions.

When we immediately agree on a course of action, then we may not be looking at all the possible outcomes. Sure we are in it together, but we may not end up where we intended to go. When we do not fully agree, then we are forced to look at both sides, weigh all the possibilities, and consider the ramifications of our actions. That process allows us to take the best of the opposing ideas and create an alternative which is generally better planned and more effective.

Thinking about my choices from this perspective allowed me to really give a second and third look at all the candidates. While I have liked Warren a long time, my goal is choosing the best person for the job who I believe will most accurately represent they key issues I hold most dear. After reflecting on this, reviewing the policies, plans and agendas, as well as the background and experience of each candidate, I came full circle back to Elizabeth Warren.

One of the most essential qualities we need in our next leader is someone who will answer to us. I do not care how much money someone has made, so long as they did it legally. I believe being a billionaire or a millionaire neither qualifies nor disqualifies a candidate. I also do not believe that being a successful business man or woman automatically transcends into political leadership abilities. The truth is that running a nation is nothing like running a business. Take a look at the current bull in the china shop. Granted, successful may be a bit of a stretch in terms of business. It takes a special kind of businessman to bankrupt a nice casino, but that aside. The idea is still the same. When you are the boss, you tell people what to do and they do it. They answer to you. But part of being a truly great leader, a President, is understanding you are not the boss. The country and the world does not answer to you. You interact with other nations with respect and as equals, but you answer to the people.

It is this quality in Elizabeth Warren which keeps bringing me back to her. Senator Warren’s entire platform is built around empowering the people of our nation, giving them megaphones for their voices to be heard and she has been willing to do that where it both hurts and counts the most: in the proverbial pocketbook.

Yes, she has the most realistic plans, most executable, of all the candidates. She has put real plans out to be picked apart while the other candidates just paint pictures with broad strokes. She has not been afraid to stand up and show what it takes to make big dreams into reality. Realizing dreams takes more than imagination and a go-get-’em attitude. It takes time, determination and sacrifice and she does not back down from the truth of that. It opens her up for critics, but it is also one of the best ways to find the flaws of a plan and remedy them. And she is not afraid to listen to anyone who might have a better idea. I like how she considers us, the people out here, her partners in forging the future. And that is what leads to this big difference: she cannot be bought. Not only does she not accept money from special interests, she discourages it in the election process completely. Big money in the hands of a few have bought influence in our politics for far too long. Look where it has led. If we want our nation to survive and come out stronger, then we need someone like Senator Warren who is committed to removing those influences from Washington D.C..

Why is this my tipping point issue? Well, because it is the fundamental element in achieving anything else. The vast majority of U.S. citizens support Medicare for All or a similar single payor system. But big businesses like insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and others which profit heavily off the current system keep pouring money into Washington to protect their own profits, with complete indifference to the plight of the vast majority of people. The overwhelming majority of people believe in a fair and equal voting system, but large corporations spend hundreds of millions in campaign and finance contributions to influence the drawing of districts in such ways which undermines democracy and diminishes the voices they want silenced. This is how they help put their bought and paid for politicians in office, the ones who control environmental regulations, approve trade negotiations, and introduce tax laws and incentives. You know, the ones who approve government contracts and spending, make it cheaper and easier to dump chemicals in rivers, pollute the air, and poison children without facing consequences. If we want common sense gun laws which both protect our second amendment rights and the safety and welfare of our citizens, then we have to crush the gun lobby powerhouse which wields its money for more influence than the parents of angels taken too soon in gun violence.

Every single element of both the progressive and more moderate agendas floating through the Democratic candidacies hinge on removing the big money influence from elected officials. Until we eliminate that power from the financially elite and place it back in the hands of voters, we are just throwing rocks in a gun fight. This should be a bipartisan effort. It benefits any and all parties because it makes all politicians answer solely to their constituents.

Senator Elizabeth Warren brings this to the table with complete sincerity. It has been the fundamental premise of her campaign from day one. When I couple this with her ability to devise realistic plans to accomplish real and permanent change for the betterment of our society, I find my first instinct was correct.

I am thankful Elizabeth Warren stood up to fight for us and I am hereby, officially, endorsing her candidacy. I thought President’s Day was a fitting time to do so, as we look to the past for great deeds in leadership and inspiration. With Sen. Warren, I believe we can also look to the future.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

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Democracy’s Terminal Diagnosis: Is There Hope for Remission?

First, let me say thank you to all my readers and followers for the kind words of encouragement and condolences for the loss of my father this past year and understanding that I needed to take personal time away, despite the hardships and entanglements of the nation, to grieve that loss and handle his affairs. I have not forgotten any of you nor our purpose in this ongoing fight for equality. I am happy to say I am now back at work for you and for every woman, man and child whose voice cannot be heard over the howling winds of injustice. Again, thank you for allowing me to take the time I needed. Now it is time to take this fight forward. Together, we can do what needs to be done.

Yesterday was an historic day in the United States of America. After refusing to hear testimony or review relevant evidence, after many refused to be impartial despite their oath as jurors, after the evidence presented and unrefuted clearly proved guilt of the charges brought forth, all of but a single GOP Senator [Sen. Mitt Romney, R. Utah] voted to acquit Donald J. Trump of all charges. They chose power and party over their constitutional duty and over their sworn service to the American people. While it was expected, why is it so egregious? Why does this trial and ruling have such a greater impact on our nation than, say, the Clinton impeachment trial and acquittal? Well, let me explain some of those reasons and why yesterday was such a dark mark for this nation.

First, we can begin with the fact that the Clinton trial was wholly different. The administration did not withhold evidence nor obstruct testimony. It complied with subpoenas for both information and witnesses. Second, the alleged conduct was wholly different. President Clinton did violate the law by lying under oath in a deposition about a consensual, extra-marital affair in a civil case. That said, the question was under objection, may not have been admissible, and had no factual bearing on the case as it did not substantiate the plaintiff’s claims of harassment. So, there is the possibility that even the truth would not have been admissible, but only used as cannon fodder or, potentially blackmail. This, and the fact that the House did not concentrate on the actual crime of perjury in proving its case, but on the morality of the President having an affair, meant they did not actually work to prove the legitimate case they had. Thus, acquittal was a reasonable outcome.

Note- I am not in any way defending President Bill Clinton for his actions. I supported his impeachment because, while I did not feel it rose enough to remove him from office in a legal sense, I did believe he earned the stain of impeachment on his presidency. Perhaps many people would lie in a similar situation, but that does not excuse dismissing our laws. Our leaders should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one, and he deserved to be made an example of this. Also, I do believe he used his position to attract such behavior and encourage it. He used his authority to manipulate young women and he deserves the lecherous legacy he built.

Clinton’s acquittal served to uphold the constitution. The actions of his affair were unfortunate and below the idea of the office he held and the trust placed in him as a moral leader. But it was also, and more importantly, actions which were personal in nature. Make no mistake. They did not put him on trial for the lie, but for the affair. I’m old enough I was around and watched it all, the whole C-SPAN coverage, taped daily on the old, trusty VCR. I was a Republican back then and recall the annoyance at the House’s failure to stick to the real issue. I did not care about his affair in any sense but that he lied about it under oath. I seriously doubted he was the first president with a wandering eye or loose zipper, nor that he would be the last. So long as it was consensual, the only relevance was the lie. The House failed to conduct its prosecution in a way which concentrated on why the lie deserved a conviction. Also, he could have been convicted and still not removed from office. Once convicted, the Senate would need to vote again on the punishment and determine if the crime was of such significance as to warrant expulsion from his position. Conviction without removal would have been the best outcome, as he was definitely guilty of perjury, but I did not believe that crime warranted removal from office based on the facts surrounding it.

Because of the conduct of the prosecution, no real precedent was set, other than dislodging the idea that politicians can be removed for immoral, victimless, personal actions such as consensual sexual conduct. By victimless, I am referring to victims of a crime. There are always innocent people hurt when personal trusts are betrayed, especially in such a public manner, but those private affairs are best handled as such and not in a political or public arena.

What we witnessed in Trump’s trial cannot be compared to any of this. His actions were not personal and private. They were in the direct use of his office, the leverage of his position, and in the actions and conduct of State policies and agendas, to be used for his personal benefit, and to extort foreign governments to undermine our democratic process. He then refused to cooperate in any way with the constitutional governing body charged with overseeing his conduct. He flagrantly denied and obstructed the authority of congress.

Further, the facts of the case were never in question nor refuted. The defense instead argued that believing his re-election was in the best interest of the nation superseded any governing laws or policies which he may have broken. In essence, the defense portrayed that so long as a president believes his or her actions are best for the country, no matter how self-serving, he or she is allowed to break any laws or rules they desire. They are not required to provide any evidence of actions to anyone else, nor incur any consequences for such conduct aside from election results. They contend a president can really do anything without accountability except at the ballot box. In short: if the president does it, then it isn’t illegal.

While the ballot is how we replace unsavory or ineffective politicians, it was obviously not intended to be the sole method. Further, by the defense’s own iterations, Trump is allowed to seek interference in the election, even from foreign governments, so long as he BELIEVES his actions are best for the country. This, aside from anything else, is the most dangerous precedent coming from the Senate yesterday. This is the one which will haunt us.

This precedent says that the president is allowed to cheat, to undermine our election process, our very democracy itself, under nothing more than the guise that they believe they are right. This precedent goes further to empower the executive branch as superior to that of the Judicial and Legislative branches, by being exempt from accountability for its actions. It has, in effect, created a four year dictatorship, whereby they can only be removed by an election, but is, existentially, also allowed to cheat to win that election.

That may sound a bit harsh or reaching, but it is not. This is exactly how the ruling can be applied going forward. As a result, it has made our elections less reliable by basically legalizing interference by a single party (a sitting president). Opposition candidates do not carry the same protections as the Office of the Presidency against prosecution for Campaign Finance Violations, or really prosecution of any crime like bribery, extortion, or fraud. They do not have the authority or power to circumvent subpoenas for evidence or testimony. They must follow the law, and that is a good thing. But their incumbent opponent does not have that same obligation. Sure we can hope to elect scrupulous people going forward and overcome the taint of illegitimacy already hovering over this November, but it does not change the fact that someone in the future can seize on what happened yesterday to change our nation forever.

It really is not a matter of if, any longer, but a matter of when. Will it happen in the coming months? Or will it happen in a couple of decades when the taint of this presidency has drifted into fades of history, less poignant? And is there any way to circumvent it? Can we save ourselves?

Well, maybe. Sorry, that’s the best I’ve got for you. Maybe. First, and this is the most crucial thing I can share, is that we all must become active. We need to be poll volunteers. We need to shout out when we see anything that undermines voting. Now, more than ever, we have to protect the value of our voice to make certain it is heard, loud and clear, at the polls.

Second, promote candidates who will not abuse their position or our nation. Maybe the nominees aren’t your favorite, but learn the art of compromise. No one will believe everything exactly as you do, but there will always be a best option. No candidate is a one horse pony show. Just like you, they have a spectrum of beliefs, ideas, morals, and plans for the future. But here is a real hint that might help, at least this November: any candidate who would silence or deprive anyone their vote, is a no. Any candidate who would deprive any citizen of their basic rights to love, live, work, or receive healthcare or an education based on discrimination against their race, gender, sexuality, country of origin, personal and healthcare decisions, or religion is working in direct conflict to our constitution and the people of this nation. These are the exact kinds of politicians who would use the precedent set yesterday to inflict harm on the people of this country against whom they hold a great prejudice. Be active and work against such candidates, even if you do not fully support all the positions of their opponent. Why? Because it is about the best decision between the choices we have, not just about getting everything we want.

Which brings me to the third call of action: vote. Vote in every election. Encourage your friends and family to vote. Every voice, whether you agree with them or not, deserves to be heard and counted. Every election from your school board, up. Voting is not just a flippant right, it is a responsibility. It should neither be taken for granted nor tossed easily aside. Those are the actions of spoiled people without any sense of value, who dismiss too easily the sweat, blood and sacrifice which paid for that ballot. Now we have to defend it and the only way we can is by using that very same power. So, VOTE. It matters.

The last thing I will mention comes after we successfully accomplish the first three and it is not a charge to voters, but to those elected. The only way to protect our future from this injustice, from this degradation of our democracy, is to face it head on with legislation and possibly, an amendment to our constitution. Such an amendment should better define the perimeters of impeachment and create an exact process which will apply without regard to party power. In doing this, both the House and the Senate can be held to an accountable standard and will no longer be allowed to make up the rules as they go nor be subject to undue political influence in how the process is conducted. The Judiciary Branch has been all but excluded from the process, only allowed a token appearance without any real authority to conduct the trial as a judge should. We must set it up to more closely mimic a federal trial regarding evidence, testimony, subpoena, and discovery. The House should sit as the prosecution, the Senate as the jury, and the Judiciary to oversee due process and court conduct and hold in contempt those who refuse to comply.

This is the only way I believe we could excise the cancer on our democracy and truly achieve a lasting remission. Make no mistake, history has a way of repeating itself, especially when people stop believing it can or will. This will not be the last threat facing our nation from within, but if we can learn from it, then we could come out stronger on the other side. It is really up to us to demand it.

My suggestions moving forward are not a party line thing. I’m certain that when a Democrat is in office, the Republicans would be more than happy to jump at the chance of limiting the power grab they so greedily wanted for themselves. We will want to take advantage of the fear they will have. Yes, they will be quite afraid that Democrats will use the GOP’s own actions and precedents against them. But I urge the DNC to not be what they expect. Be better. Help the people take our nation back. Help us ensure a future of responsibility and accountability. Help remove the corruption of big money donations in the hands of politicians and their campaigns. Make accountability to the people a priority and close the loopholes which allow presidents to hide their actions from their employer. Hint: We are the employers.

Unless we can do these things, we are accomplishing nothing more than treating a stage four cancer with a placebo. We are just smiling, pretending to do something and getting along okay, while the cancer continues to eat away beneath the surface, until finally our organs fail and we will have a final, disbelieving gasp as the life so many sacrificed to make a reality, dies from this world.

Freedom and equality is never really a battle won. It can be attained, but there will always be elements looking for ways to chip away at it for their own purposes. We can never stop the efforts to improve our democracy, find inclusion for the under-served, or to hear the whispers of those who have been silenced. We can never cease in our demand for justice. We can never forget that when anyone is less than equal, no one is equal.

We are one woman. We are one world.

Ann Lavendar Truong
Author & Activist

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Trump and his team are banking on “Due Process” ignorance

Well, we are certainly hearing a lot from Trump, and the stalwart Republicans backing him, about how the House is not affording Trump his due process in its investigation. There is one serious flaw with that allegation: this is an investigation and not a trial.

So what does that mean? Well, let’s put it in more day to day methods most people can at least draw on cop and lawyer television shows as a way to somewhat identify. Due process is your right to a fair trial and to made aware of the charges against you. It allows you to cross examine witnesses, have an attorney represent you and question those witnesses, offer witnesses of your own, and see what evidence has been brought to support the charges.

The problem here with screaming about due process is that there are no charges – at least not yet. The closed door testimony currently being conducted by House Committees is equivalent to a police or other law enforcement investigation. Suspects are not entitled to cross examine witnesses interviewed by law enforcement during the investigative phase. In fact, the opposite is true. It is actually illegal to contact those witnesses and discuss the issues with them or ask what they told investigators as it is seen as witness tampering, impeding an investigation, and obstruction of justice. This is the stage currently being conducted by House Committees at the moment. They have subpoena power because they are a governing body, rather than a law enforcement agency, so they use the subpoena instead of warrants (to compel evidence).

The next phase, deciding whether to introduce articles of impeachment, is after the initial investigative phase. This is basically when law enforcement passes the case on to the District Attorney or Attorney General, as the case may be. They will conduct additional interviews of witnesses, request additional information and then put it all up before the entire House to hear and view the evidence and witnesses in the case. The entire House will listen, review and ascertain the credibility of the information it has received and act as a Grand Jury.

In most Grand Juries, the accused does not testify nor do they have the option to cross examine witnesses. A Grand Jury does not determine guilt or innocence, only the reasonable possibility that a crime has occurred. Ever heard the term, “you can indict a ham sandwich,” before? It is because the bar is fairly low for an indictment. The accused has yet to enter the domain of “due process” until an indictment is handed down.

If the House votes to impeach Trump, then it has handed down the governmental equivalent of an indictment. It is at this point when due process kicks in. His representatives will have the right to view evidence and even interview witnesses, within certain perimeters so as to avoid witness tampering, obstruction, or witness intimidation. The witnesses also have the right to decline interviews from the accused or his representative, outside the courtroom.

The trial is held in the Senate. Senators act as the jurors and are charged in the same manner to evaluate the evidence and arguments presented by both sides in the case without outside influence or interference. A responsible senator should take this job very seriously and not walk in with any preconceived notion of events. It does not matter what they have heard on the news, on talk shows, across Twitter or Facebook feeds, or what anyone else thinks. They should hold themselves to the exact same standard we expect from every day citizens asked to sit on a jury panel and hear a case, criminal or civil. All personal issues should be set aside. They should only be compelled by what is presented.

The House of Representatives will send a team to act as the prosecutors, detailing the alleged crime(s), present evidence and witness testimony. The Defense will have the opportunity to dispute the evidence with evidence of their own, cross examine prosecutor witnesses, and call witnesses on their own behalf. Each side will have the opportunity to present factual arguments. The Senate will then vote based (theoretically) solely on the evidence presented and work outside political alliances. It requires a super majority vote of Senators to convict and remove a president from office.

This is the process. Not too far from an episode of Law and Order, right? This is how due process plays out. Trump is entitled to due process IF he is indicted, or, in the political realm, impeached. Impeachment=Indictment. Just as with the investigation of any citizen by law enforcement, if records or testimony is subpoenaed or a warrant for documents is issued (for a governing body, warrant and subpoena are hand in hand) then the person to testify, whether hostile or voluntary, must appear and testify or they break the law and obstruct justice. If they are required by the subpoena or warrant to provide documents in their possession, then they MUST do so, or they are breaking the law. They do not have the option of withholding information which incriminates themselves. They make exercise the Fifth Amendment in their testimony, but this does not extend to anything which can be admitted as evidence, such as documents, videos, recordings, banking or other financial statements, etc..

I might also throw in that attorney-client privilege does not extend to conspiracies to commit a crime. Meaning, if you make plans with your attorney to commit a crime, those conversations are not protected in the same way as typical attorney-client discussions and deliberations are. Your attorney is not allowed to commit crimes on your behalf or at your request or suggestion and you both get out of it because it is all protected. That is not how it works, and for very good reason.

So, the stalwart Right are pushing this notion that Trump is being treated unfairly or outside the perimeters of due process and justice. They want to paint the picture of a an illegitimate process. It is not. They are hoping you are ignorant. If you’ve read this, you can’t claim ignorance. But by all means, research what I’ve told you. Look it up. I encourage everyone to take no one’s word at face value and look at the evidence as it is presented.

I would also like to point out that it is very smart that the House has not yet held a vote. That would literally be making decisions before hearing evidence. And this is not a favor to Democrats, either. They easily have the votes. This is a favor to Republican Representatives. It allows them to actually see evidence before making a decision on their vote. It prevents them from being targeted. Many believe the inquiry is appropriate, and likely hope it proves to be without merit once the investigation is completed. But it leaves them open to accepting damning evidence should it surface. Pelosi’s move here is to protect the body of the House and the dynamic benefit is to moderate leaning Republicans.

So, now you know! Don’t get played. No due process has been denied. Those are smoke and mirror tactics to confuse and inflame an uninformed public.

Let’s let the process play out as it should and must. This is what defines our nation. This is literally the process that holds true the idea that no one man or woman is above the law, least of all someone who has been entrusted by the people. This is as patriotic and American as it gets.

We are One Woman, One world.

Ann Lavendar

If Women Don’t Have Autonomy, Then No One Does. Eat Those Apples

So, to all you pro-birthers out there that want to create religious laws that force women to carry pregnancies they do not want or are not healthy, I have an idea on evening that up. But let’s start with really explaining in depth the risks associated with pregnancy, so that there is no misunderstanding what denying a woman’s autonomy actually entails. Then we will get to exactly how that can affect men and women who would, otherwise, be unaffected by  anti-abortion legislation.

You see, every pregnancy comes with significant risks to the woman’s health, mental health, and life. Without fail, every single pregnancy. This is a basis for why it must be a choice, because she has to sacrifice herself, at least to some degree.

Pregnancy takes from the woman’s body to grow the embryo or fetus. It draws out the calcium, often depleting her bones, which later results in osteoporosis and is one reason why women are so much more likely to develop the debilitating condition. It pulls calcium from her teeth, which has a prolonged affect on the health and strength of her teeth, leading to dental problems she likely would never have had without pregnancy. It literally moves and changes the shape of her bones, painfully.

Pregnancy is marked with back pain that frequently persists and can even cause damage in the low back that never subsides, creating permanent pain and reduction of mobility. It puts pressure on other organs, which can be damaged. Most frequently damaged is the bladder. Pressure from pregnancy frequently causes the bladder to develop what is, essentially, a pocket or a little sack of sorts.

This is very common. It can happen in the first pregnancy, but likelihood increases with each subsequent one. The reason this is bad is because urine gets trapped in the pocket and grows bacteria, which results in infection. Over and over again. These infections, left untreated, can spread to the kidneys and cause pyelonephritis. And while I say “untreated,” that does not mean she ignores it. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are treated with antibiotics, but any person treated too often will build a resistance to them, thus increasing their risk of a UTI spreading and becoming more dangerous.

Women also risk complications after childbirth of things like a prolapsed uterus. Poor, single, and lower middle class women are at greater risk of this because they are the ones without the kind of jobs which offer paid maternity leave. They are also less likely to receive adequate prenatal healthcare or warnings about their activity after birth. But even with those warnings, they need to work. They have to have income. So they return to activities that are too strenuous. I’ve worked ER and had to assist on a post-birth examination of a woman whose uterus prolapsed. She was 19.

Women’s bodies are contorted, stretched, their skin marred with scars that never go away. Their breasts suffer fibrocystic changes and scarring that can later put them at greater risk to develop breast cancers. Scar tissue increases the risk of cancer. Women frequently develop hernias and umbilical hernias after birth.

The medical ramifications of pregnancy do not end with a successful birth. Some disfigurement is permanent. Scarring is permanent. Many of the most common complications I have listed here are permanent. They result in lifelong medical conditions. Most of the issues I have listed here are common. In fact, more likely than not to occur.

And these things have not even addressed the shorter term complications of morning sickness, which is prevalent in more pregnancies than not. The headaches. The aches and pains from the bones softening and moving, making it difficult to sit or stand for long. It does not address the nutritional necessities of pregnancy, which force a woman to eat much more food, or the embryo will steal the nutrition directly from her own reserves, leaving her weak. Anemia is common. And not just during pregnancy, but also in the blood loss that comes during birth and afterwards. And then there are the risks of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and other life-threatening conditions.

Most women towards the end of their pregnancy are forced to stop working. Many are placed on bed rest due to the stress the pregnancy causes on their bodies which can result in preterm labor. Adequate healthcare for these women requires weekly, or twice weekly, stress tests at their doctor’s office, frequent ultrasounds to determine the stress on the fetus, often medications to prevent preterm labor and frequently hospitalization.

Preeclampsia is very dangerous. It affects about 8% of pregnancies, which is far too many women to ignore as uncommon. That is 8 out of every 100, some more severe than others. It can kill a woman and the baby as her blood pressure increases to dangerous levels, her kidneys stop functioning properly, and she swells up with fluid retention. It is nearly impossible to control. It causes the uterus to become spongy. It most frequently results in preterm birth by emergency c-section. Yes. Many women face surgery as their only safe form of giving birth. I’ll get to that in a minute. Preeclampsia can cause permanent damage to a woman’s kidneys and uterus. Even the c-section is a serious risk because a spongy uterus bleeds too much and the bleeding is difficult to stop. Some women require blood transfusions as a result.

Many women are not able to have a vaginal birth. There are a multitude of reasons for this, like a tilted uterus. Complications, such as those listed above, are others. A breech fetus. As of 2018, 21% of births in the United States were by c-section. That is 21% of pregnancies with some form of complication which results in the necessity of surgery. That is not a small number. That is not a risk that can be shoved aside as uncommon. A c-section is performed because there is significant risk to the life of the mother, the baby or both from a vaginal birth. You really need to let that sink in. That is how dangerous pregnancy is, that more than one fifth of pregnancies are so unsafe that the woman cannot have a natural birth, but must have medical intervention and surgery, which always comes with its own risks, complications and permanent scarring inside and out.

The decision to have a child should never be taken lightly. In fact, it should be given the same weight as becoming a living organ donor. You are taking just as many, if not more, risks as donating a kidney to save someone else’s life. Choosing to become a mother is a beautiful thing that a woman does in self-sacrifice. She takes on all these potential complications, all these permanent repercussions, all these expenses which far outlast the term of the pregnancy and even the risks of future illnesses and conditions, and she does so willingly. As I have said before, she chooses to sacrifice to create a new life.

But if she does not want to take those risks, what then? What if she is not okay with risking her life or her body? What if she does not want to be permanently scarred and marred? What if she does not want to be responsible for a child or growing one? What if she doesn’t want to have to put school or her career or her dreams on hold? What if she knows she can’t afford quality prenatal care? The lower middle class are most affected by this because they make too much for medicaid and not enough to pay medical costs. What if she is alone? Pro-birthers say she can give the baby up for adoption, but that doesn’t get her through the pregnancy, does it? What if she is a minority group who knows her baby is more likely to end up in foster homes than with a loving, permanent family? What if she is in an abusive home? What if she was raped? What if its her uncle’s baby? Or her brother’s? What if she is only 11 years old? What if she is forty-five? What if she fights clinical depression and knows the consequences pregnancy can have? What if she just doesn’t want to have a baby or be pregnant?

Would you make that choice for her? Should the government tell a woman she must face these risks? Force her to make those sacrifices she does not want to make? If the government can invade a woman’s body, then it can invade anyone’s body. Remember that. If you suggest a woman must continue an unwanted pregnancy and supposedly save that child’s life at risk to her own, then why can’t the government take something from you against your will to save someone else’s life?


Why can’t they require you to donate your blood? It saves other people’s lives. Sure there may be some risk to you, but that is definitely much less than pregnancy. So are you good with the government taking your blood once or twice a month to make sure there is adequate supply for those who need it?

Notice I didn’t say donate. Donation is a choice to make that sacrifice. No, mandated taking of your blood.

And why stop there? You have an extra kidney. Why can’t the government take that if you are healthy? It would save someone else’s life. You don’t need it. Sure there is some risk, but not greater than pregnancy. You have the perfectly reasonable ability to save someone’s life! A life! A life every bit as important as a fetus!

In fact, that life may have others depending on it, or it could be a child. How selfish of you to not want to part with an extra kidney you don’t even need! And why? Because you are afraid of a little risk to your health?

Over three thousand people are added to the waiting list for a kidney donation every single month. A month! And you don’t think the government should do something about that? You know how expensive dialysis is and how many of these people are forced on Social Security Disability, Medicaid and Medicare? (Just think of the taxpayer money it would save!) You know they will eventually die a miserable, painful death without that kidney? So the government maybe should step in and start registering everyone’s blood type and health, mandate health check-ups that are kept in a government record for donor prospects. That way they can match up what is needed with who lives nearby that can satisfy that need.

What, you don’t think that is a good idea? You don’t want to be mandated by the government to give up a kidney or half a liver? Why? The risk to your life is lower than the risk in pregnancy. If a woman with nothing more than a glob of cells in her uterus is not entitled to autonomy, why should you be? Your refusal condemns someone more readily than her choice to not continue a pregnancy.

After all, that pregnancy she chooses to abort might not have even resulted in a person at all. Twenty percent of KNOWN pregnancies end in miscarriage before twenty weeks. The actual number is much higher because so many happen before the woman even realizes she is pregnant. But, at the point where she would have to choose to continue the pregnancy or not, there is a one in five chance the pregnancy would be lost anyway. The chance of saving someone with a kidney transplant is much better, but you don’t want the government to tell you to do that.


By the way, there are seventeen thousand people waiting right now for a liver transplant. There’s a good likelihood you are a match for at least one of them. Why is not your responsibility to save that life?

Oh yeah, you are selfish.

You want to mandate what people do who would make a different decision than you  regarding pregnancy or mandate risk to others that you cannot face. But if you are asked to face a similar risk and a similar invasion to your autonomy, then you would certainly balk at that. You would be quick to say they have no right to take your blood without your permission, let alone a kidney or half your liver!

But here is the thing: Taking away the autonomy of an individual is a slippery slope. You don’t get to pick and choose that it is okay to take this one group’s autonomy away, but not this other group of people. There is almost no risk to blood donation. So why not make it mandatory? What is your reason for not doing that? Because it is invasive and intrusive for the government to dictate your body?

Pro-birthers do not want their autonomy taken away. Making abortion illegal does not change their choice. Male or female, it doesn’t matter because these anti-women laws have zero impact on the choices they would make. Therefore, they sacrifice nothing. It doesn’t affect them. Their autonomy isn’t compromised in any viable way they can see. They just want others to make the same choices as they would and are willing to force them to do so. For the women, they can’t imagine not wanting a child. How short sighted and small minded they are!

And make no mistake, there is a reason these bills and new laws are not making exceptions for things like incest or rape. They have learned that if they make those exceptions, they have already lost the argument and the legal battle. They would have already conceded that the mental and emotional state of a woman, having been victimized, has greater importance than the potential life inside her. They call abortion murdering a baby. They would be saying that baby murder is okay sometimes, but not other times. This is why there are no exclusions, even though almost all conservatives are uncomfortable with the lack of exceptions.

If these people want so badly to take away the autonomy of others, then they should have to accept the loss of their own as well. For a woman who has no desire to be pregnant, forcing her to carry a child is no different than stripping a kidney out of her body by government mandate. Are you okay with government mandated taking of blood and organs? If not, then you aren’t really pro-life. You just want to control the decisions of others that you don’t agree with. But it isn’t about saving lives. You have the power to do that and don’t out of your own selfishness and fear. But your fear and your selfishness is okay. That is fine because you feel justified in it. You are self righteous.

But here is the thing, I don’t want anyone to lose their autonomy at all. I think our bodies belong to us and we should make the decisions about what happens to us. I don’t want to take away your autonomy or a woman’s right to choose when or if to become a mother. But if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, then our autonomy as women is already forfeit and I’ll be damned if we suffer that loss alone. I’ll be coming after yours and use your own laws against you.

Maybe you didn’t see that writing on the wall? Maybe you didn’t realize where it could lead? We can ride that slippery slope, starting with mandatory blood donation. The risk there is minuscule, especially compared to pregnancy. Then we can work our way up to skin grafts, kidneys and then portions of livers. How about stem cells and bone marrow? Yes, it might be painful, but so is childbirth. It might leave a scar, but so does pregnancy. If you are going to deny autonomy, it won’t stop just where you want it. And you will have set the legal precedent for the government’s invasion of your body. Karma is a real bitch sometimes.

And yes, it really does set a precedent to expound upon. When you make it law to revoke autonomy from an individual because you have placed a legal morality by mandate on that individual to accept physical and mental risks to their person for the sake of prolonging the life of what is perceived as someone else, then you have created a legal scenario which can be applied to a host of other possibilities aside from pregnancy and that apply to all people, not just women.

So, tell me, just what are you willing to sacrifice?

I vote for autonomy for all people, but, you know, if you can’t accept that, then it will be autonomy for no one instead. We will shove that cake down your throat. Are you willing to eat that poisoned apple you are trying to force on women and girls?

Go ahead, call me a bitch for threatening your autonomy. I’ll ride that wave of karma with a smile and wear that badge with pride. Oh, and I’ll save more lives than you in the process. You really want to go there? Let’s do it. See, I am a mother. I have a daughter who is scared to death right now because she lives in one of these states trying to take her autonomy away. If you are coming after her rights to her own body, make no mistake, this bitch of a mother will come after yours.

We are One Woman, One World.



Sacrificial Breeding Stock

What does it mean to be pregnant and carry a child and give birth? Sacrifice. Period. Women sacrifice their bodies, their health, their financial well-being, their careers, and potentially even their life. Every single pregnancy comes with the risk of death. Without exception. Period. Every pregnancy causes illness. Period. Without exception. Every pregnancy causes painful changes to a woman’s body, many of which are irreversible. Without exception. Every pregnancy causes a woman extreme pain and discomfort. Without exception. Every pregnancy subsists from the life of the woman, drawing nutrition and calcium from their bodies, depleting them. Every time. Without exception. Every childbirth is painful. Period. Sure, you can have procedures to help the pain, but those are expensive and also come with additional risks (atop the ones of childbirth, itself) of injury or death. A woman’s body is forever changed and scarred. Sacrifice. And the GOP wants to mandate that sacrifice. They are telling women they HAVE to risk their lives. The GOP is saying our lives are forfeit, meaningless, and unimportant. They are trying to sacrifice us to their gods. Yes. I’m saying it. They want to make us human sacrifices to their religious ideals, mandating in laws that have no basis in science or knowledge. They believe that once we are knocked up, we should be stripped of our rights, our autonomy, and our freedom. That is what these laws essentially do. They strip women of their freedom if they are pregnant, placing a higher importance on an embryo than on a living, breathing citizen. Like it or not, an unborn fetus or embryo or blasticyst is not a citizen. The constitution is quite clear on that. So, having a child demands a woman’s sacrifice. She has to give up many things and accept many consequences, many life changing and permanent even if she does not keep the child. So, is the United States now in the business of legislating a woman to sacrifice herself? Evidently so. Motherhood can be a wonderful thing for someone ready to meet that challenge. But only that woman knows if she is really willing to make those sacrifices. If you want to sacrifice yourself to have a child, that is wonderful and great, but it should always be a willing sacrifice. It should be done out of our love and care, not forced upon us against the threat of imprisonment or death. That isn’t making a sacrifice, that is being sacrificed.

The last few weeks have been difficult to digest. Women’s rights are under attack with the passage of crippling reproductive laws across the country. The GOP led initiative against women is showing its ugly head to be exactly what I’ve been telling you for a long time. Control. The “heartbeat” laws effectively ban abortion because a heart is one of the first things to develop, necessary for the embryo to grow. There is no nervous system or functional brain activity. No cognizance. No awareness. A heartbeat is easily detectable by ultrasound at six weeks, though not by stethoscope.

Now, for you idiots out there who have no understanding exactly what six weeks in pregnancy terms means, it does not mean a woman has been pregnant for six weeks, nor that the embryo is six weeks old. It means it has been six weeks since the first day of her last menstrual cycle. Now, a woman doesn’t get pregnant during her period, or at least that would be extremely uncommon. No, her period lasts anywhere from the average five to ten days. Then you have approximately one to two weeks until she ovulates. Then, only when there is an egg available, can she get pregnant. But she isn’t even pregnant yet! No, the egg fertilizes, then it has to travel down through the Fallopian tubes, during that process multiplying its cells, until it is then dumped in the uterus, where it can hang around for a while before either just passing on by or, finally, attaching to the uterus. So, at the least, three weeks, and as many as four, pass without her actually even being pregnant. Can’t detect that. Also, it takes at least a week for that pregnancy to become detectable at all. At the least, depending on the amount of hormone the woman’s body releases. Some women don’t produce as much and can still test negative on that pee stick at six or seven weeks. It would literally take an ultrasound to see the pregnancy any earlier than six weeks, and even then, it may not be large enough to be readily visible as anything more than a “maybe there is something there” and would be difficult to differentiate from a small cyst or fibroid. Basically, it would be a spot that could be anything. And how many women are going to be heading out for ultrasounds when they haven’t even missed a period yet? many women don’t even have very regular periods, how are they supposed to keep up with that? So the heartbeat law is not intended for anything but to effectively outlaw abortion, even to people who need one.

Most of these laws make little or no exceptions for rape, incest, or even health of the mother. And some laws are even taking it much further. They seek to outlaw the morning after pill, which is used to prevent getting pregnant from a sexual encounter. Those encounters might be consensual, many are not. They seek to ban birth control citing it as an abortion inducing drug. It isn’t. These laws are not based in science. They aren’t based in knowledge. They serve only the purpose to control women and demote them to breeding stock in a man’s dominated world. I told you they were coming after birth control as well. And they are. They want to control sex. Who can have it. When they can have it. Who they can have it with. Even how they have it. These laws are invasive to a ridiculous degree. They basically erase the ability for family planning. They believe sex should result in pregnancy, and if you don’t want to be pregnant, you should not have sex. Period. End of story. They want to regulate your sex life. They want to control women.

There are other interesting factors at play. For instance, birth rates in the U.S. are down for a fourth consecutive year, causing some to worry about the future of cheap labor. That’s right. If people are choosing to wait to have children until they are more financially stable, then they are more likely to have educated children who may not be content working for scraps to survive. We could have a shortage of low-wage workers. Even worse, fewer children born to poverty means less crime. That translates into fewer incarcerations. That would make it much more difficult to fill those for-profit prisons where they use inmate labor to employ their prison manufacturing facilities for pennies an hour. Slave labor.

Recently I was on a social media thread and saw something that really summed up this far right idea about women. The argument was over abortion rights, that a woman should have a choice what happens to her body. Then there was a very short response on it; short but truly telling.

“Well, some people believe there is a life inside that body.”

Of course, I had a poignant response to that, “There is a life inside that body. Hers.” But it doesn’t change the telling perception that once a woman becomes pregnant, she is no longer a person. Her life is forfeit. It doesn’t matter. If it doesn’t matter when she becomes pregnant, then it never really mattered at all. The GOP would have us believe that our value as women is in our ability to breed. They have no qualms, no guilt, whatsoever, in sentencing a child to this sentence after she has been raped or molested. They have no issue with sentencing a teenage girl to prison or death for murder because she made a single mistake and got pregnant, young and alone and scared to death. They have no issue taking birth control away from women who do not wish to be new mothers, or who cannot risk pregnancy due to their health. If they die, can the GOP be charged with murder? Can our government be charged? The states that allowed these inhumane laws? If a woman dies in childbirth, why is she the only one who sacrifices? Could a man who raped her be charged with murder? Should rape be attempted murder, since every pregnancy carries the risk of death?

No, they won’t do that. They won’t take responsibility for the death and pain they invoke. That’s for women to bear alone. We are just sacrificial breeding stock, after all. And this is made more evidenced by the new laws making filing rape charges more difficult, even punishing women with prison if, for any reason, her rapist is not convicted. Sexual assault is already difficult to prove and more often than not, victims never see justice. Look who is sitting on the Supreme Court for proof of that.

No, this has never been about saving babies. That is a fake rally cry to garner sympathy. This has always been about the subjugation of people, separating the classes, and keeping less desirables downtrodden and begging for scraps, willing to do any kind of job for any kind of pay, uneducated enough to feel grateful they have a job at all. This is why the GOP got rid of free college tuition. This is why they drove up the cost of healthcare. This is why their judges ask rape victims why they didn’t just close their legs. This is why rapists and child molesters get ridiculously light sentences. This is why they refused to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Women have no constitutional rights aside from voting We are not protected by the constitution. We are protected by a Supreme Court Decision. That decision can be changed by a new court. We are not free, let alone equal. Hell, the GOP doesn’t even see us as people. We are expendable and beneath them.

And, while I know the thought may be in the right place, boycotting sex won’t really fix this problem. The problem isn’t most men. It is a minority with a lot of power, and they do not want anything challenging that power. No, where they have to be hit is somewhere they will actually feel it. considering half these guys can’t get laid or their pricks wouldn’t work even if they could, the thought of a lot of other men being cut off would probably make them happy, having achieved their goal of an abstinence only birth control in society. They really would be controlling sex, then. No. We have to hit them in their wallets.

That could be done. Imagine just one day, one planned day that we, as women and supportive men, decided not to shop. One day where we didn’t buy anything. No online shopping. No grocery store shopping. Skip buying gas. Wait a day on that new outfit or coffee pot. But show up to work. Those businesses need to feel the pain of paying people without revenue. Yes, it would hurt a lot of people. But not permanently. It would likely come out in the wash. But what it would do is show our power. It would show our ability to have dynamic impact. It would be nice if some organizers could make something like this happen instead of more marches that may show a lot of people in the streets, but otherwise have not resulted in any change. They don’t care about our voices. They sure do want our money, though.

The majority, by large degree, support a woman’s right to choose. Even more support access to birth control and family planning. These laws do not reflect the desires of the people, not even in the states where are enacted. And even among those who do want heavier restrictions on abortions, the vast majority believe there should be exceptions for rape, incest, safety of the mother, etc.  One of the laws recently enacted makes it illegal for a woman to go to another state, where abortion is legal, to have an abortion. She can be charged with murder when she returns home. That is a far-reaching law which violates the jurisdiction of other states, literally attempting to prevent perfectly legal procedures being done in another state. They want to be able to charge women and doctors with murder for an abortion not even performed in their state, where neither the woman nor the doctor broke any laws. Think about that.

We have to fight these people who want to make us subhuman. Motherhood is a wonderful thing. I love my children more than my life, but I made that choice. I chose to sacrifice for them. I made the decision that I wanted children. It was not forced on me. I almost died in my last pregnancy. Very literally. But I made that choice. You cannot demand a person sacrifice their life. If our governments can demand we sacrifice our lives, livelihoods or health, then we are not free at all. We are oppressed. We have a gaudy imitation of the freedoms enjoyed by our male counterparts. We must demand the ERA be passed and ratified into the constitution. We cannot leave the semblance of freedom in the hands of courts. Court decisions are temporary, at best.

I will not be sacrificed to the GOP’s god. Nor will I allow my daughter to be either. Nor my nieces, sisters, cousins, friends and even the women who are so brainwashed they can’t see that oppression is wrong. I don’t care that they hate me. I’ll fight for their rights, anyway. Because, a woman’s right to choose is just that, a right of choice. And it is perfectly wonderful to choose to have a child. For those who make that choice, they have amazing joy. But for women who do not want a child, there is no joy or love. Just oppression if you take that choice away. Then they become breeding slaves of the government where their lives have less value than cattle.

But it is not just the women who do not wish to become mothers that will be affected. Every pregnant woman becomes a target. A miscarriage under most of these new laws could result in murder or manslaughter charges. This isn’t just what ‘could’ happen. It already is happening. These laws will result in women being afraid to go to the doctor early in their pregnancies, for fear of it being documented and losing the child, most especially in women who have had previous miscarriages. Early prenatal care is an absolute factor in lowering the rates of infant mortality and childbirth mortality. Having access to medical care, the proper vitamins, early detection of problems such as gestational diabetes and symptoms of preeclampsia are vital to saving both the lives of babies and women. But many, many pregnancies are lost in the first trimester for various reasons, including an inhospitable uterus, uterine fibroid, uterine and/or cervical cancers, illness such as the flu, food poisoning, and nonviable fetuses, as well as other complications from environmental toxins or things ingested prior to the mother’s knowledge of the pregnancy, such as alcohol, cigarette smoke, etc.  A spontaneous abortion can also be the result of a minor fall or injury or car accident.  The GOP wants to be able to charge women for murder if they can, in any way, warp the scenario into intent. Say the car accident was her fault. Maybe she got dizzy (pregnancy does that, you know) and accidentally rear ended someone. She could be easily charged with either reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter. But if they are feeling especially evil, they will claim she did not really want the child and acted in such a way as to promote an abortion, basically using a car accident as cover for murder. Under that circumstance, she could spend life in prison or even face the death penalty. Not even to mention the legal and financial trauma… all while grieving her lost child. No. Women won’t be able to take that kind of risk, and as a result, they will not get the healthcare they need and increase their chances of losing either their child or their life. So even women who want their child will be impacted. No woman is safe.

And just wait until the suspicion starts hitting against women who don’t become pregnant. If they have outlawed birth control and abortion and a woman doesn’t get pregnant, don’t you think people will begin to suspect her? No woman, no little girl, will be safe. And by safe, I mean safe from our government.

This is oppression. It is meant to make women unable to pursue the same dreams and goals as men. Breeding stock. The more we are devalued, the less rights we will have. We have to say no. We have to fight this, even against our sisters so caught in their own traps they can’t see their prisons. We cannot make them use the freedom we fight for, but we also cannot allow them to take ours away. Are you willing to be the GOP’s sacrifice? Are you willing to sacrifice your daughter? Your granddaughter? Your sister? Your mother? Anyone?

Tell them, “Not today.”

Tell them, “Never.”

We are One Woman, One World

Ann Lavendar

Criminalizing Sex: The Truth Behind Anti-Choice Legislation

The hypocrisy of the Right truly has no bounds. None of us should be surprised by that any more. After all, look who they chose to lead them. Even if Trump were tied and gagged and placed in Chinese handcuff toys to prevent those stubby fingers from Tweeting, he could not last a day without, at the least, farting something hypocritical. Great. Now there is an image I really didn’t need burned into my brain. Flatulence in Chief.

But the Right has become far more extremist than they once were. Where before, like in the time George W, there was primarily only a vague nod in the direction of pro-lifers. Most considered it established law and just left it alone. Don’t forget his mother, Barbara Bush, was not only pro-choice, but believed the government should  help pay for abortions for low income women because she felt it should not be a privilege for the rich, alone.

And the men pushing these horrific pieces of legislation prove over and over again that sanctity of life is of little concern to them. The Right Wing is littered with men who either encouraged their mistresses, even sometimes spouses, to have abortions, or literally paid for the procedures. This leads to the real issue, here. Choice isn’t really the problem for them, so long as the choice is THEIRS. They don’t want women to make that choice. When a woman makes that choice, these politicians decry the life of the child is paramount! Some make zero exceptions for rape or incest. Some won’t even budge if the mother’s life is in danger. Well, here is fact. Pregnancy always endangers a woman’s life. There is always a risk of death. There is always a likelihood of permanent disfigurement. There is always a likelihood of permanent medical complications. There is always a likelihood of long term illness that lasts months and can be debilitating and life-threatening. Pregnancy always results in loss of work or missing school. Pregnancy always results in financial loss. Pregnancy always results in immense pain and suffering for the woman. And for a woman who does not want a child, none of those reasons are good enough for an abortion, according to these men. BUT, if you are a man and a child might be either embarrassing or inconvenient, well, that’s a whole other story. They are saying that a man’s PRIDE is more important than the pain, suffering, permanent disfigurement, financial loss, illness and possible DEATH of a woman. They claim every life is precious, well, except for the life of THEIR OWN CHILD conceived under publicly embarrassing circumstances, or the life of any woman.

And just so you don’t think I’m tossing out that accusation lightly, I’ll throw you a softball that’s easy to catch with a few examples. I’ll just pick four here that are quick for you to verify, because, by all means, you don’t have to trust my word for it. I encourage you to dig in deeper and better arm yourself with knowledge. This war against women’s rights to their own bodies has absolutely NOTHING to do with sanctity of life, because if it did, you’d think these men would not so easily toss aside the lives of their own children.

Tim Murphy: he was outed when his text messages to his mistress leaked out showing him encouraging her to have an abortion of his child, the result of their affair. This is despite co-sponsoring anti-abortion legislation and boasting a 100% pro-life voting record. If held to the same scrutiny as he inflicts on women, he asked his mistress to murder his own child.

Scott Lloyd: Now here is a gem. Lloyd is responsible for tracking the menstruation and pregnancies of immigrant girls and women with the specific purpose of preventing them from receiving abortions if they want them. He has intentionally set up roadblocks for them having access to these services, not paid for by the government, to promote his pro-life point of view. He even prevented a seventeen year old RAPE victim from receiving an abortion that she adamantly wanted until it was too late for the procedure. He doesn’t believe those women should be allowed to choose what happens to their bodies. And here is the BUT. He not only encouraged and supported his ex-girlfriend to have an abortion (of his child) he drove her to the procedure and paid for half of it. Now, having a baby after you’ve been raped, and you live in abject poverty with no way to provide for prenatal care nor the care of an infant alone without any ability to even hold your rapist accountable for his crime, let alone hold him financially responsible for the child, those aren’t good reasons for an abortion according to Scott Lloyd. No, that life is precious because he has no responsibility or concern for that life. But the life of HIS OWN CHILD, now that’s a different story. He deemed his own child not worthy enough to live because he or she was inconvenient. His inconvenience was enough to warrant him advocating the, by the standards he places on others, murder of his own child.

Elliot Broidy: Now, here’s looking at you, Elliot. You are the kind of child murderer even Trump could respect. This former RNC Deputy Finance Chair had a good old, family values affair with a Playboy Playmate. Not only did he support her having an abortion of his child, the result of that affair, he handed over to her $1.6 MILLION dollars, using Trump’s former fixer to set up the non-disclosure deal. Playboy Playmates are, evidently, a lot more expensive to keep quiet than porn stars. Or maybe it was just the added, by his own definition, MURDER OF HIS CHILD, that he was trying to cover-up. Those are actual skeletons in his closet. Tiny, fetus sized ones. Again, HIS inconvenience and embarrassment were plenty enough to warrant cause for an abortion. The assault of his own actions against his pride were plenty enough for him to be A-okay with the termination of that pregnancy.

Scott DesJarlais: Now this man is a serial child murderer. His now ex-wife had two abortions at his encouragement prior to their marriage. Two. Both his. Those babies were too inconveniently timed. But hey, why stop at two, when you can go for three? The doctor also had an affair with a twenty-four year old PATIENT (yeah, he got fined for that) and encouraged her to have an abortion as well. This man is quick to say a woman shouldn’t have the right to choose, but it seems just as quick to kill a child that is in any way inconvenient for him.

Do you see the commonality here?  These are all men who have had big hands in pushing anti-choice agendas and legislation. They all claim their viewpoints are about preserving the life of a child, but they are all happy to excuse themselves from that responsibility. They are all too important and too superior to have that decision made for them or their partner. In other words, choice is okay for them, just not you.

So, how would these brave murderers of their own children fair under some of the new, anti-woman legislation being debated as we speak? (Again, judging them by their own standards, not mine, because I feel these are choices women should be allowed to make without condemnation- but since these guys are big on condemning women, I feel it perfectly fair to impale them with their own swords.)  Well, In Texas, as recently as YESTERDAY, they began hearings on anti-abortion legislation that would make women receiving one, under any circumstance, at any stage from conception forward, subject to murder charges and the death penalty. This legislation introduced by Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R- of course) has the intent to completely criminalize abortion, making no exceptions for rape, incest, health or life of the woman. What is the real reason here? Is it to save lives? Really? Because letting women die because you outlaw life-saving procedures really doesn’t save anyone. Maybe someone should let him know that if the mother dies in complications of pregnancy, usually the baby does, too. And how do our aforementioned baby-murderers fair? Well, just fine really. After all, it isn’t really about them. There isn’t anything in that bill about holding men more accountable for sex or giving them the death penalty. Rep. Tinderholt claimed women need to be forced to be more responsible with sex. No joke.

In fact, here is a fun quote from Tony, “Right now, it’s real easy. Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.” That quote is taken from a voluntary interview he gave some two years ago around the same time he first introduced this whammy of patriarchal legislation. While he hints at both parties being responsible, his bill does not. In fact, it has zero ramifications for a man. Oh, and notice that timing. 2017. While they are just getting around to hearings on it, the far right extremist nutcases who took over the Republican Party wasted no time coming after women’s rights thanks to the winks and nods from their top misogynist. But, in truth, that quote is very telling.

What does it say, besides that he is a proud proponent of the patriarchy? Well, it hits on some of the why and what.  What is it that they really want? I mean, if your idea of saving babies is by killing women, then maybe sanctity of life isn’t your real objective. Nor can you really claim that by refusing abortions to women whose life is critically endangered you are somehow saving a baby from… wait, that baby is already going to die, so, yeah, basically killing women by denying them necessary medical treatment without saving anyone, is definitely a far stretch away from sanctity of life. So, saving lives just really can’t be the ultimate agenda here, can it? What is?

Well, first and foremost, they want to regulate sex in our society based on their rigid, religious beliefs (not held by most, mind you) and dictate who can or should have sex and when they can or should have it, and even with whom it is appropriate (or even legal) to have it with.  It also serves to vilify women, making them ultimately responsible for sex, consensual or not. Women pay the price. Women are the ones shamed, as the Right so often does to single mothers, and they make all the real sacrifices.

Don’t think so? A man never risks his life in pregnancy. A man does not get sick for months. A man’s body is not stretched or mutilated. Pregnancy doesn’t risk a man’s future fertility (you know for when or if they actually want a child). If men are forced to pay anything, it won’t be until after the baby is born and paternity is proven, meaning the woman takes the full brunt of the costs and financial burdens of prenatal care. Men don’t miss work due to getting a woman pregnant. They don’t miss school, either. They don’t have to make or attend doctor visits. They don’t have to buy maternity clothes. Or car seats. Or breast pumps. In fact, their breasts won’t leak for months. They won’t have ongoing back pain or suffer hemorrhoids as the result of childbirth. They won’t experience excruciating pain and have zero chance of developing gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. Their feet and ankles won’t swell up and if they can’t tie their own shoes, it will mostly likely be from too many burgers and beer rather than an unintended pregnancy.

At most, after the child is born and paternity established, they will have to fork over a little money every month, and not by any means enough to support a child. After that, their obligation is done. Ideally, they would want to be involved, help, etc. But there is no legal obligation for them to do so. So long as they pay their child support, society pretty much gives them a pass.

But the mother? Sure, she could give the baby up for adoption, and many do, but reality shows us that is not the norm, nor the societal expectation. Women who do so because they do not feel ready or equipped to care for a child, are treated with disdain in our society, like there is something wrong with them. In truth, women who do not want to have children are treated that way, so giving one up is only an exacerbation of that same sentiment. And there is really no way to hide being pregnant, so they can’t exactly keep it a secret. There is a social pressure that she should be a lioness and protect her cub and women who do not want a child are labeled selfish.

Our society is just not geared to promoting adoption as a real alternative. Plus, and it is another sad fact and tell of how imperfect our society still is, it is far more difficult to place a baby of color than it is a white baby, making the option of adoption in those communities more daunting. Just think how much worse it would be with abortion illegal. Looking right at you, Texas. You might want to figure out a better foster care system to make room for all that sanctity of life you want to spread.

And the GOP wants to do all this AND cut medicaid and WIC programs, and food assistance programs. And preschool and childcare services. So, someone please tell me how that works? The people most predominantly hit will be the poor, who have less access to education and healthcare, including birth control (which the GOP wants to limit as well), which would be certain to cause a spike in low income births. So what happens then? We have babies without food to eat, clothes to wear, homes to live in and, when the parent can’t provide that, welfare services will step in and drag them off into an already overcrowded, underfunded foster system.

Oh, and don’t forget how many women will definitely wait until late in their pregnancy before even seeking medical attention because of the fears of what a law like the one proposed in Texas would mean. And what is that? Women who have a miscarriage could be subject to investigation to ensure they did not intentionally terminate their pregnancy, or take risks in their daily life which might have inflicted harm to the fetus that resulted in the spontaneous abortion. Yeah. That’s right. So if you go to the doctor and confirm your pregnancy early on, then have a miscarriage, as happens with many women, they could face legal problems and a murder investigation.  That really would not promote early detection and treatment. And failure to receive adequate prenatal care can result in complications. Unnecessary complications. This would affect even women who want to get pregnant and start a family.

It is pretty amazing how virulently the right wing is fighting against a woman’s right to choose her reproductive destiny, considering that abortions are at an all-time low since it became legal in the United States. Funny enough, setting off bombs at clinics where abortions were performed and murdering doctors didn’t really do anything to reduce that number. Nor did the abstinence only approach. Amazingly, education and better access to healthcare and birth control options has placed women in much better control over their lives and bodies, resulting in far, far fewer unwanted pregnancies. Expansions in Medicaid and family planning clinics have helped reduce abortions as a result of medical complications. Basically, I’m not sure what their beef is. Women have a choice, sure. But more and more of them are choosing when they become pregnant, and therefore, not having abortions unless medically warranted.

Of course, the GOP isn’t coming after birth control, right? Well, there are definite nods in that direction. After all, Trump did appoint Katy Talento as Domestic Policy Counsel. And why is that important? Well, because she has spearheaded the campaign to end birth control in various forms. She wrongly touts that IUD’s and birth control pills cause miscarriages or, for lack of a better way to put it, instant abortions. Instead, she suggests women use the age old and tested enough to know it doesn’t work method of counting the days between menstruation to estimate when a woman might be fertile. She outright lies, stating birth control causes cancer and infertility. She also says it gives men “consequence-free orgasms that make them lose interest in marriage and make them abandon women and children.” Yeah. She actually did say that.

Now I really can’t imagine how or why a woman would work so diligently to suppress other women, unless its kind of like being queen of the condemned. Maybe she has been brainwashed since birth. or maybe, just maybe, this is how she goes about dealing with the doubts in her head. She’s been taught this is right and the temptation to believe otherwise conflicts with the rigid ideas of her religion, so she needs to squash those evil thoughts and everything that reminds her of them. The latter is usually the case with zealots. It isn’t their faith that makes them so vengeful, it is their inability to resolve their doubts. Rather like the anti-gay legislator who vehemently opposes all LGBT rights, but then he is busted on Sunset Ave for soliciting sex from a male prostitute. What they are really after is erasing the temptations around them, anything that makes them question what they are “supposed” to believe.

So, yeah. The GOP doesn’t want you to have access to abortions, even with your life on the line. They don’t want you to have birth control. They don’t want to help pay for or care for the resultant children from these policies, either. They say you should be more responsible for having sex. They want employers to be able to fire you for your previous or present reproductive choices. One of the GOP attempts at replacing the ACA actually allowed insurance companies to deny maternity coverage to unmarried women.

None of this is sanctity of anyone’s life. This is control. Nothing else. And for a party who is supposed to support LESS GOVERNMENT involvement in our daily lives, their ideas are feeling pretty damned invasive in my life. We cannot have anything even remotely like equality with dystopian laws such as this. Women cannot be equal if they are forced, under pain of DEATH or imprisonment, to suffer illness, injury, disfigurement, and torturous pain, because they had the audacity to have sex, or worse, were raped.

As a people, we absolutely must rise against this. The 2020 elections are going to be so important. See, I don’t really care if you are Republican or Democrat or a Representative of Bagelville. Human rights and equal rights should not be a political debate. There shouldn’t even be two sides to this issue. If you don’t believe, for religious or whatever reason, that abortion is right, then, by all means, you should not get one. Even many people who support freedom of choice do not believe it is something that they could choose. Our sex lives are just not the government’s business. I don’t need Uncle Sam moderating when, if, or with whom I have sex. I don’t want the government mandating my family planning. And religious dogma is fine, but keep it in your homes and in churches. There is no place for your personal version of Sharia Law in our political system. And that is exactly how draconian this all is. These people pushing these ideas and legislation are a very loud minority and Trump handed them a megaphone because, so long as they are shouting his praises, he really just doesn’t give a shit. He doesn’t care about my rights or yours, or anyone else. So, if these people praise him and elevate him as chosen by their god, then he will likely give them anything they want. At least anything he can get away with.

I am not willing to surrender my autonomy and watch our nation contorted into a hypocritical theocratic dictatorship just so a stubby handed, balding, orange painted old man can feel better about himself. Women are half the population. We are strong and fierce. The time is long since past where we allow these pompous, patriarchal men to treat us as minorities, as a sub class of human. Yes, I’m tired. I’m sick that we have to keep fighting battles thought won. But they were not won. And they won’t be won until the Equal Rights Amendment is ratified into the constitution. Women do not have equality under the constitution. While it does not state women are less than equal, it also does not prohibit discrimination based on our gender. Why is this important? Because with the Equal Rights Amendment ratified into the constitution, laws directed only at women, such as these, would be unconstitutional. Which might be why so many states refused to take it up. While they try to claim we do not need it ratified because it isn’t necessary, what they really mean is that they want to keep the options open to discriminate against women, legally.

So, instead of trying to fight each one of these petty little laws they keep slinging out everywhere, throwing us in a thousand different directions, we need to unite behind the one that will actually give us the best footing to win this war once and for all. We need to focus on the single element, together, which will give us the weapon we really need to end these battles, so that our daughters, and their daughters, don’t have to fight like our mothers and our grandmothers (and great-grandmothers) and we have.  We need to re-institute the Equal Rights Amendment, resetting the deadline, accept the previous ratifications, and then every single one of us put pressure on the fifteen states that failed to act by the 1982 deadline. We can no longer trust our freedom to the whims of an ever-changing court. We cannot accept anything less than a constitutional guarantee that we are equal citizens that cannot be discriminated against. This is how we win the war. They will keep us busy forever, distracted and scattered. It is time to stop playing their game. It is time to fight for keeps, to fight to win.

Demand the Equal Rights Amendment be ratified into the constitution and accept absolutely nothing less. This is an issue I will raise with every candidate. I implore you to do the same.  Without it, we will never win true autonomy. We will never achieve true equality.

Don’t be afraid to tell the candidates how important this is. If they hear from all of us, then they will listen.

Speak out.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

Trump: America’s abusive husband

The Republican party has long been an abusive partner to women, in general. They blame the bad actions of men on the ‘sexual’ and ‘sinful’ nature of women. That has been part and parcel for a long time. But today, we are not talking about the party as a whole, but its leader. Rather than looking back on a year of unconscionable actions, policies and outright deception, or forward to another year that looms dark and forbidding on the horizon, I’m going to take a look at now.

Trump has shown, through his most current temper tantrum, that he is nothing more or less than our nation’s abusive spouse. That’s it. That is all that he is. And nothing has revealed this in more stark reality than the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The better part of a million federal workers are currently without pay, either furloughed or forced to work despite no guarantee for compensation nor, should compensation finally be approved, knowledge of exactly when that might occur. And why?

Not for border security. All the studies, all the logistics, all the data shows a big old wall will do little to impede illegal immigration or drug smuggling. The undeniable truth is that the number one element in illegal immigration, by a huge margin, is the result of people who enter the United States legally and overstay their visas. More than 90% of these people did not arrive here over the U.S./Mexico border, but through airports. Drug smuggling is most prominent through shipping containers brought in through our ports. For drugs that do come across our land borders, they are not typically walked across or chunked over a fence. They come through checkpoints, hidden in cargo.  They come through tunnels burrowed beneath the border with entrances and exits miles away from security surveillance set to either side. And, of course, they are flown over, sometimes in as high tech methods as unmanned drones. Drug Cartels have a lot of money. Yes, they can afford drone delivery. Because the wall does absolutely nothing to help us combat these relevant threats, it is not wise to spend billions upon billions of dollars on antiquated methods which provide us no security. Sure, a wall may have worked in ancient China, but at that time, people couldn’t just fly over it. It is little more than an arbitrary line in the sand. And Trump knows this.

In his own words he stated that the only way anyone would be able to cross his beautiful, big, plank wall would be with a ladder and some rope. Great security. I’m sure there are no ladders or ropes sold in Mexico, right? So, basically, it can be scaled in the exact same way walls have been infiltrated for thousands of years, you know, unless you take a plane or a boat. That would work, too.

No, Trump isn’t really interested in border security. And guess what, his wall isn’t even racist. Oh, make no mistake, he fans the flames of racism to get support for it, no doubt. I’m not even suggesting that he isn’t racist. I think the evidence weighs in on that pretty clearly. But the wall, that isn’t really about racism. It isn’t about border security. It isn’t about making America great.  His wall is solely about Trump. The narcissist-in-chief said it himself when he explained it had to be beautiful because it may someday be called the Trump Wall and have his name on it. Then, he went into salivating fantasy side-story, openly dreaming about how wonderful and beautiful that would be. Trump wants to build a monument to himself. He’s like a Pharaoh wanting his own pyramid. It is nothing more than selfish indulgence and this is why so many people are actually opposing it.

We can certainly allocate money to help create a modernly secured border and better, more streamlined, immigration processes to address our actual problems. But the wall is like building a vast highway to somewhere no one wants to go while overcrowded, busy freeways are crumbling. Trump wants adulation. He wants a monument he can delude himself into believing was built by the people who adore him. Granted, he initially wanted Mexico to pay for it, which would have been even better because he would have seen himself as a conqueror, a mighty leader forcing other nations to bend to his will. But, in the end, it is the monument he wants, no matter who pays for it (aside from himself, of course.)

So, does that make him an abusive partner? By itself, no. Crazy? Yes. But abusive? No, it is the manner and lengths to which he will go to demand what he wants that makes him an abusive tyrant.

After a bipartisan agreement which would have extended funding to the government, even allotting a healthy additional $1.6 billion to border security, Trump threw a tantrum, refusing to support it. He wanted $5 billion for his pretty wall, which has become less attractive and less secure by the day, degrading into what is now a slatty thing most of us would call a picket fence. Instead of supporting the bipartisan agreement that would ensure paychecks and funding for our government and its employees, he said he would be proud to shut the government down to get what he wanted. Undeniably, he thought it was just a threat and that his opposition would balk at a government shutdown over the holidays and fear reprisal from it. He expected the bullying tactic would win. Except it didn’t.  When no one caved to his tantrum, and Trump is used to getting what he wants when he wants it, a matter of his own egotistical pride stood in the way of compromise and, ultimately, the welfare of hundreds of thousands of federal workers and their families. Despite initially saying he would own the shutdown, it wouldn’t be the Democrats, but his, he did what he so often does, instantly blamed others.

To make this perfectly clear, he used, and is still using, the welfare of almost a million federal employees as hostage to try to force his opposition to build him a monument. When they showed absolutely no sign, whatsoever, of backing down, he did not seek to compromise. He did not discern that their welfare was more important and issues about additional money for border security could be debated later. No. He made more threats to the safety, welfare and prosperity of our nation.

His flailing arms and legs and screaming Twitter fits have revealed a truly violent domestic partner. He has now threatened to allow the shutdown to continue, indefinitely, and adding to that, if he doesn’t get what he wants, then he will shut down the border entirely. Such an act could cost the US as much as a billion dollars in commerce a DAY and possibly plunge our nation into recession. It would have severe consequences on markets, which are already volatile due to his policies.

This is an abuser mentality. He is willing to hurt you. He will hurt you and tell you it is YOUR FAULT because you didn’t just do what he wanted. This is what an abusive spouse or partner or parent does. They control you by making it so much easier to live by their rules and accept their wishes than face their wrath, and they blame you for that wrath.

But this is not a dictatorship. He is not entitled to his whims and he certainly is not entitled to a monument built at our expense. Make no mistake, divorcing this abuser is going to be difficult and he will do his best to make sure he hurts as many of us as possible in the process. To him there are no innocent casualties. He suggested that when he said that most of the people not getting paid in the shutdown were Democrats, as if that made depriving them of a paycheck, somehow, acceptable. Anyone who is not his blind and ardent supporter is an enemy. Abusers do not accept the free will or thoughts or the dissent views of others. It is their way, or pain. And he is inflicting that pain on more than 800,000 federal workers, with hundreds of thousands more affected in government contracts and government services which will soon cease.

Now the question. Are you content with being his abused spouse? Are you okay with giving him anything he wants just to escape his wrath? Are you willing to agree with him without thought in the hopes you will go unnoticed and he won’t hurt you? If so, then you have already sacrificed your liberty to a despot.

Make no mistake. His threats continue and broaden, but in the end, he is a bully, like all abusers. They abuse others to keep their spirits quashed. Trump lives in a cocoon of fear. Our strength and solidarity in his opposition is what will enable us to prevail. We can pass a veto-proof funding to reopen the government. We can resist him and help our fellow citizens affected by his crimes.

On this last day of 2018, let us recognize Trump for what he is and determine for ourselves going forward that we will not be his victims. We will be his survivors.

Resist. Stay safe. Be strong. Help one another.

We are One Woman, One World.

Ann Lavendar Truong

#metoo, and you…

I know there is a swarm of events happening right now and I have several articles all in the works at once, which has been a constant state of update, rewrite, and looking up something new as things are changing in a constant sweep of action. But I think this is important as well and something that has concerned me.

The #metoo movement, which I completely support and have shared some of my own experiences with sexual assault, is ripping open a festering wound in our nation and letting that poison drain out. It is extremely difficult to share these experiences.

We have been taught to hide them. We have been taught to feel shame. We have been taught that these assaults are somehow our failings. We have been taught it is better to protect our assailant than face the public ridicule a cry for help would bring. We have been taught there is no help. We have been taught and reassured by recent incidents that even should we come forward, if we do not have a witness besides ourselves, or a video or the confession of our attacker, then our witness means nothing.

Sexual assault and molestation have been a bedrock of male dominance in our society. But it has been dependent on our silence. It has been at the mercy of the deception perpetrated against us as women, and even boys, that it is better to suffer alone in silence than suffer public humiliation. And just as with all abusers, we are told no one will believe us. We saw enough and experienced enough to believe this as true.

The problem is that we have been looking at the wrong people. We wanted our parents to believe us; parents that were too frequently more worried about what other people would think if something like that happened in their family. We looked to police who were more apt to ask us what we were wearing and why we went went to a party knowing there would be boys drinking there. We looked to politicians for laws who scoffed and said boys will be boys; who didn’t want to hear about our abuses because they were distasteful and not polite conversation.

We were given reasons upon reasons to remain silent, and no one encouraged us forward. No one said we deserved justice. And the abuse continued. Not just against women, but against children, both boys and girls, as well. that is what silence bought us.

We were traumatized first by the person who violated us, and then again by those who we should have been able to go to for help. Those who have never suffered trauma like that will tell us we should just get over it. Or as Orin Hatch just said, “grow up.” (And Orin, we aren’t going to forget that any time soon.)

I posted a statement on my Facebook feed regarding a personal incident to me in a plea to ask the people I saw demeaning Dr. Blasey Ford to reconsider their abusive actions and explaining to them why it is so offensive. Here is that statement:

Marquel Lavendar Truong

I want to say something extremely important. For all you men, and women, who denigrate Dr. Blasey Ford you need to understand something. For us who survived sexual assault, at least for a great many of us, her testimony was painfully real. It rang with a truth born from our own experience, that isn’t mistakable and can’t be faked. And when I heard Kavanaugh’s testimony, it was blistering. he portrayed to a tee the angry, entitled defiance and the constant battering of, “no one will believe you,” that I heard so many times, that perpetuated my own abuse. I did tell. I did try to be helped. I did try to find a savior. But there wasn’t one. I was the one ridiculed. I was the one berated. I was called the liar, even though I was far too young to even have the knowledge to make something like that up. You all need to remember, whether you believe her or not, that we take this so seriously because it is about us. It is about every one of us without witnesses, without proof, without signed affidavits. It is about us who reached out and were called lying whores. it is about all of us who were too afraid to reach out. When you dismiss and ridicule her, you are doing that to us, also. Whether it is your intent or not. You sound exactly like the people who either ridiculed us if we did speak out, or the people we were so terrified of that we stayed silent. I’ve heard people who made false claims before. It is so easy to tell for a survivor because of what they do and don’t remember and how they remember it. I’m not saying everyone’s experience is the same or they react the same, but your mind functions differently in the act of trauma. you don’t recall the events like you would going to the grocery store yesterday. We are so adamant because, when she spoke, we felt it with her. I knew she understood. And when Brett Kavanaugh spoke, he sounded exactly like the young man who hurt me: indignant, angry, blaming others, and entitled. It wasn’t the exact same words, obviously, but it was the same reaction. So, when you ridicule Dr. Blasey Ford, when you make fun of her, you are no different than the adults I sought help from who ridiculed a little girl (I was in first or second grade). You are the reason abuse continued. You are the reason teenage girls who are raped are afraid to tell anyone. You need to understand that we take this so personally because it is about us. You need to understand that. You need to consider that before you get too carried away in your partisanship. This is not partisan. This is us, we who have survived, desperately trying to make our world a little safer. I don’t think it is too much to ask that you understand exactly who you are so flippantly degrading. If you have ever sat on a jury, then you will know that you are instructed to listen to testimony and that only you can be the judge of the weight that you give it. A single testimony, without any other witnesses or any other proof, is enough to convict someone if they are found by those listening to be more truthful. In most instances, a victim who can positively identify his or her attacker, and can testify to such, is considered a strong witness. I listened to both and I found her far more credible than him. And I have more experience than most to question and ascertain the veracity of her testimony. But no matter what you believe, please, show some respect to the survivors who take this very personally.

I place this here for full disclosure of what I have said in this regard. Also, because it brings to my next point. I have spoken very little to anyone about these instances in my life since learning my voice did not matter at such a young age. I do so now, and really for the first time so publicly, because of my outrage at the horrific treatment a woman is receiving for the audacity of coming forward, of sharing something so personal and making herself so vulnerable to the exact humiliation I have felt before. I know exactly what it is like to speak out and be called a liar. To be made fun of, ridiculed and called names like a cunt or a whore. Words a little girl should never have to hear, let alone have them directed at her by the very people who should be protecting her.

And because I know that pain, I also know why so many women are silent. That pain and fear are embedded deep into our psyche, and for some, they will never be able to speak of it, even in whispers to their own pillows. I get it. I really do.

While I am thankful I have come to a place in my life where I feel able to speak, where I am able to dismiss without care the sentiment of those that cared not for my safety, I want to remind everyone else who is a part of this movement, that not everyone has found that place for themselves. You may know someone who has been assaulted or molested, and perhaps even confided in you, but please do not pressure them to bring their pain forward and make it public. If they do choose to speak out, please be a bedrock of love and acceptance for them. But also remember, for some, the trauma is more than they can face on stage, under the glaring lights of public scrutiny. Yes. Scrutiny. It is a well chosen word, because that is exactly how it feels. It feels like you are confessing a crime for which you will then be judged.  It is painful and so difficult. For those that are ready, it can be part of a larger healing process. But for those who are not, to feel pressured to speak would only ensue more trauma.

So, those of us who are ready, we will speak. If you are not ready, you do not have to. Let me say that again. You do not have to share anything with anyone unless you feel you both need and want to do so and whatever reason compels you either way is just. You do not need a reason at all.

If you know someone who has suffered sexual assault, be their friend, be their sister or their brother, be someone they can trust. that is the most important thing. Do not pressure them. Do not bring it up to them. Just be fiercely accepting of who they are and if they want to talk, they will. If they don’t, love them anyway.

Those who do come forward, those who seek out justice, those who speak out, we will be the voice for the millions who can’t. Most of us won’t see justice in the form of our predator being found guilty and incarcerated. For me, that is really impossible and I believe that is true for a majority. But I will look to another form of justice, something I can be a part of. I will continue to work to try to make a better world for my children and someday their children:  A better world for myself and my friends and family and all the people I do not know and never will. I cannot change my past nor what happened to me. I can never see justice  executed. But maybe, just maybe, I can help someone else find justice of their own. Maybe I can help someone else not need to seek justice at all.

And that is an end to which we all can work, whether we share our trauma in public or keep it hidden in the recesses of nightmares. Even if you cannot share your experience, remember you are still important. You still have a voice and you can still help others. If in no other way, you can vote.

Find your peace. We love you. Stay strong.

Ann Lavendar Truong