Tag Archives: United States

Ending Radio Silence

25 Jul

I know I have been largely absent (or, actually, entirely absent) since my last post on April 20th about Bill O’Reilly but I am back because honestly, this shit is fucked.

Back when Donald J. Trump (heretofore referred to as SCROTUS), was elected President of the United States of America there was one thing I simply couldn’t wrap my head around. It wasn’t, as you might have guessed, the Access Hollywood tapes. I have been a woman for far too long to ever think that a recording of white men degrading women would be the thing that brought SCROTUS down. Let us not forget that Bill Clinton was impeached and it wasn’t because of statutory rape or sexual harassment. It also wasn’t for that time SCROTUS told an audience at a campaign rally in Sioux Falls that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and (he) wouldn’t lose voters.” This country, it seems, doesn’t care too much about threats of violence when they come out of the mouth of a white man. No, it wasn’t either of those things. It was, instead, SCROTUS’ dismissive comments about John McCain’s status as a war hero. It was back in July, 2015 when, still on the campaign trail, candidate Trump said,

“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Say what you want about John McCain. About his politics, about his run in 2008, about his temper, about his sense of humor that is oftentimes wildly inappropriate and not in the least bit funny. All of those things are up for conversation and debate. His status as a war hero, however, is not. And so when then-candidate Donald Trump, who by the way was granted 5 deferments during the Vietnam draft, essentially called McCain a loser I figured he was finished. This country is fucked up in a lot of ways but it respects its war heroes. Not enough to provide them physical and mental health care or job training, mind you, but when it comes to verbal respect, we’ve got that shit on lock. Especially the Republicans. It’s sort of a calling card for them. So when a man campaigning for the Republican nomination talked shit about a war hero, and one who had served in the senate for decades no less, I figured his days were numbered. But then he went on to get the nomination from the GOP and that’s when I knew this country was fucked. I still didn’t think he would win the goddamn election (fuck you #FailingElectoralCollege) but it was at this moment when I realized the divisions in this country run a lot deeper than I ever thought possible.

All of this is to say that despite my disagreement with John McCain on a lot of policies – for example that time he ran a successful filibuster to stop the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy or that time he voted in support of Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court – I always respected the guy. I, perhaps naively, thought that compared to other Republican politicians he was at least reasonable, at least willing to work with people on the other side of the aisle. He did, after all, say that the Citizens United decision was “arrogant, uninformed, naive.” But today whatever I thought about him perviously, about his desire to do what was in the best interest of the citizens of the United States, went forcefully out the window. This man who has served this country for the majority of his life today voted against its future. He voted against the future of every single American and so I have this to say:

Senator John McCain you can fuck right off. 

Seriously though, fuck off. You went in for surgery on your eye and came out with a diagnosis of glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of brain tumor. People rallied around you. Spoke about your reputation and everything you have done for this country. And then, to a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle, you returned to the senate floor and voted to open a debate to try and pass a bill that would strip millions of Americans of health care. And after that, after you basically said that the care that you have received should be a privilege for the rich and not the right of everyone, you delivered a speech. No, not even a speech. It was a condescending admonition of your colleagues. And honestly in that moment, I lost every bit of respect I ever had for you as a senator, as a war hero, as a human being.

You stood up there and you talked about how partisan the government has become, and you admitted to the role you played in that. And then you said that at times you had “let your passion rule your reason” and to that I have to say, no. In this case you certainly didn’t choose based off your passion because what human with a soul could ever be passionate about so unjust a bill. And so where’s the reason, John? What was your reason? Because I, for the life of me, outside of partisanship and greed cannot come up with a reason why you would support this. And why you would think that your chastisement would be appreciated. Because as far as I am concerned, you’re worse than the rest of them. You traveled to Washington from your sick bed to vote for something that would bar millions of people from getting the same level of care that you have received over the past week. And so again I say this:

Fuck right off.

I’m sorry but you don’t get my sympathy anymore. You talked today about the price of winning. That so much of the poor decisions and the governmental gridlock and the backroom moves and dishonesty are all with the goal of a short term win and that that attitude won’t help us and I agree on that. But today? Today we lost. We all lost. And you were incidental in that. So get the fuck off your high horse. This time your status as a war hero cannot save you. Not in my mind.

How I’m Dealing

26 Jan

This has been a really rough few days, friends. Hellish, I would venture to say. And I am going to be completely and totally honest with you, as I normally am, and tell you how I have been handling it. Not well. Not well at all. Here’s a recap:

Thursday: Trained at a new job from 9am to 4:30pm. I tried to gage where all my coworkers stood on the issues by asking them some questions that I will not divulge here because I am actually afraid that some agents for the government might arrive at my door and whisk me away under the cover of night. That’s where we live now, folks. After work I headed off to a bar that my friend works at and had a few very necessary drinks in preparation for the end of the free world.

Friday: Trained again at the job. This time for 12 glorious hours. The benefit was that this allowed me to entirely miss all the fracas surrounding the inauguration of Tr*mp or, as my friend Ben suggested we call him, SCROTUS. My friends Emily and James came into town so that was great, but there was still just a very heavy gloom that hung over everything. When I got home that night I turned on The Internet, read a few things and cried myself to sleep.

Saturday: Women’s March day. I went to the march with Emily, James and Emma. I wore my “unpresidented” shirt (thanks Beth!) and we all carried signs. I would like to acknowledge here that there were some problems with the marches in general (underrepresentation of POC being high on that list and something I will get into in another post because it is way too important to be just a talking point in an overview) but overall it was nice for me to be in the company of friends and surrounded by a bunch of badass women and men who disagreed with the inauguration of SCROTUS and were just as apprehensive of what the future would likely hold. This was especially important for me seeing as how I just moved to a new city and lack the sort of support system I had in New York. Also, the South is different.

Sunday: Had to be at work to train at 8am.  At a restaurant. I know, I know. But the people must have brunch, after all. It was a really hard day. I hadn’t slept enough, but I had certainly read a lot about what all has been going on. I had the time to have conversations with a lot of good friends who feel similarly to me and it was all just crashing down. The reality of it all. Like a giant, horrible wave teeming with dead sea creatures who could no longer survive in the increasing temperature of the oceans. The shift was awful. Not because of my coworkers or the managers, who are all lovely, but because everyone is politically charged these days, and down here a lot of people voted for Tr*mp. It isn’t like in New York where those people are few and far between. They are everywhere here. Especially when you work in a restaurant that is in a highly touristed area and has a lot of domestic tourists from cities and towns that are significantly less progressive than New Orleans. There were some things said. Like the young white women who insisted that women (read: them and the white women they know) already have equal rights and what the fuck were all those idiots marching for. (I summarized.) I had to keep my mouth shut. It felt like my soul was just melting. Luckily Emily and James were still in town so I was able to run to them after work and decompress. I also called my dad and started crying on Canal Street amongst all the normal New Orleans revelers. No big deal.

Monday: I woke up crying and basically didn’t stop all day. I tried to quit my job because I felt like everything was horrible and I wanted to just hide in my house forever. My managers would’t let me quit, though. Apparently I’m okay at my job. Who knew. But in the process of trying to quit I entirely lost my shit in front of not one but TWO managers at work and, if my estimates are correct, about a third of my coworkers and now I feel sort of like a crazy person. Lots of tears, lots of eyeliner running down my face. Great first impression, Rebekah. Luckily my friend Carie is awesome and I called her and we spent the day doing fun things interspersed with me crying. By the end of the day it dawned on me: there was a good chance that, for the next four years, whenever I wasn’t otherwise occupied (or even sometimes even when I was) I would likely be crying. That seemed to me rather unsustainable.

Tuesday: Woke up still feeling like everything was totally fucked. Kept reading The Internet and panicking (but at least I wasn’t crying?). Carie and I ran some errands which helped to take my mind of our impending collective doom. I was supposed to go to running group but didn’t because I am pretty sure I had cried out the entire salt content of my body and was exhausted. I went to bed early.

So, I mean, needless to say if you are wondering how I have been handling all this the answer is, as I said before, not well. I have sat down to write about 5 different blogs in the past few days and nothing comes out how I want it to. I think that is partially because I am so overwhelmed with the onslaught of information and, honestly, an intense feeling of loss. It is like I am in mourning. And, you know what, I am. I am in mourning for the world I thought that I lived in now that I live in one that operates under a completely different set of rules, if we can even call them that. Here’s what I realized (with a lot of help from friends) and how I am going to operate going forward.

I cannot longer assume that I live in the same reality that I always have. Our government operates largely through precedent and the moral foundation of those who work within it. Regardless of whether we agree with the politics and whether we feel the person him or herself is of good moral character, there was a general area in which people operated, and that area was largely predictable and normalized. We might not agree with it, we might find the actions themselves morally bankrupt, but there was still, for lack of a better phrase, a general code of conduct within which people operated.

That is no longer the case. The code is gone.

We have been shown, throughout the campaign itself and now during these first few terrifying days, that Donald J. Tr*mp does not abide by any code outside of whatever one is guiding him in that particular moment. And for those of us, myself included, who believed that there was something codified in law that required a certain level of behavior, there is not. So all those times we scream

But how can he do this? Can he really do this?

The answer, it seems, is that he can. The rules of the game have changed. He can remove information from government websites regarding climate change and LGBTQ issues as if they no longer even exist. He can demand that the National Park Services stop tweeting from their official handles, but he cannot stop them from making a new one that is not associated with the government, and he cannot stop the 1.8 million followers and counting from supporting that action. He can appoint cabinet members with little to no relevant experience and they can somehow get questioned and confirmed regardless of the fact that many of them have not yet passed ethics screenings. He can become President of the United States of America without releasing his tax documents and he can repeatedly say that the only people who care about that information are reporters, which is patently untrue. I am not a reporter and I would like access to those documents. He can shut down the media and send us all into a tizzy with these fucking “alternative facts” which makes us doubt every single bit of information that we read. If this administration is known for one thing, it will be known for the number of synonyms for the word “lie” it uses on a regular basis to justify the man that they, and Russia, and James Comey, and all those fucking white people, empowered.

Our President, is a man who has never heard the word “no.” People have said it to him I’m certain, but he has never heard it. “No” is simply not a word that applies to Donald J. Tr*mp. And when you have a man for whom the word “no” doesn’t apply, you have a man who can not compromise, you have a man with a huge temper, you have a man with the social mentality and awareness of a 5-year-old. That is who we are living under. We are living under a 6’3″, 240-pound toddler who pouts and stamps his feet at the mere smell of any sort of negative feelings cast in his direction. And yet he is quite possibly the biggest bully to ever darken the doors of the Oval Office.

So no, this is not normal. But it is even less normal than we previously thought. There are no rules, there are no precedents, there are, it seems, no laws that can touch Donald Tr*mp. And so then the question becomes:

What do we do now?

We cannot use the normal routes, we cannot take the same actions, we cannot think this will change or our displeasure can be registered in the same ways they have always been because this is not the same reality. This country will never be the same. We will never be the same. It’s as if we have been living in a world with a ground that is made of rubber, only before we thought that it was made of steel. And he is pushing that ground, stretching it, and we are all off balance and we have to walk differently. Because you cannot walk the same way on something that moves and changes and thins out as you can on something strong and flat and secure. So again I ask,

What do we do now?

And honestly, I don’t really know. I wish I fucking knew. But for me just wrapping my head around the fact that everything is different, and that I mean that word everything to be all encompassing, is helpful. Because it means I have to open my mind and stretch it and challenge it to respond to all the changes that are coming at me, at all of us. Because we, friends, have brought knives to an unregulated gun fight. So we have to be smarter and quicker and we have to use our bodies to keep coming at them again and again and again. And honestly, as much as I loved to hear Michelle Obama say “when they go low we go high,” there is no low or high anymore. There are those with morals and those without morals and those are two completely unrelatable realities. There are those who care about the future of the world and those who care only about the immediate future of themselves.

So, what do we do? Seriously, what do we do?

This is NOT a Peaceful Transition, Stop Playing.

19 Nov

To start off, please read this article by Teju Cole. I know that I already linked to it the other day, so I am sorry for being repetitive. But, honestly, sometimes things are good enough to require repetition. And this is one of those things. I sort of want to link to his article in everything that I write for the next few years that in any way relates to the complete and utter horror show that is our in-coming presidential administration. I want to link to it and I want to send it to people and I want to slide it under doors and fold it up in holiday cards and mail it to my elected officials. I want to keep telling people that no, this is not normal and that no, we should not fall in line. We should not stop protesting and talking and writing and calling our senators and representatives to register our sheer disbelief, despair and dread that there is now a white supremacist mere feet from the Oval Office. That Donald Trump has just made Jeff Sessions Attorney General. Jeff Sessions who, by the way, opposes both immigration reform and bipartisan efforts to cut mandatory minimum prison sentences. Oh, and he also thinks the NAACP is communist inspired and anti-American and once referred to an African American prosecutor as “boy.” And while we’re at it how about that time he was rejected by the majority Republican Senate Judiciary Committee to be a federal judge in the 1980s, back when we used to disallow racists from holding high posts in the judiciary. He also doesn’t like the Voting Rights Act which makes sense if you think about it, because his chances of re-election most likely decline with every person of color that has access to the ballot box. Oh how far we have fallen.

And then there’s Mike Pompeo. So for those of us who find President Obama and Hillary Clinton too hawkish, we should be pretty upset about Mike Pompeo. And for those of us sick of hearing BENGHAZI screamed over and over and over and over again as some sort of sick rallying call against Obama, Clinton and the entire current administration, we should be prepared for a new uptick because, despite hours of hearings and a panel that found no new evidence of wrong-doing by the Obama Administration, Mike Pompeo and Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio are still convinced there was a cover-up. Much like the email fiasco, it seems as though evidence doesn’t hold quite as much weight as a hunch does with some of these guys. And they are all being assigned top posts in the government. It makes me feel as though the next four years are going to be much more about evening a score and much less about the effective governing of a multi-cultural, multi-racial nation that is in the midst of a serious crisis.

But I guess I already knew that.

So through all of this I keep thinking about Hillary’s concession speech and how she said,

We must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle [that] we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

On Wednesday the 9th when I watched this speech in utter disbelief, it seemed like the right thing for her to do. I was impressed by how well-rested she looked; how prepared to do the unthinkable; how poised and eloquent she was in the face of a result that must have been even more shocking to her and her team than it was to a lot of us watching from home. (Except for maybe those people who called a Trump win weeks or months ago and are bragging about it. It’s like, great, you were right, but you still have to live here in the shit with the rest of us so shut up.) In that moment, while watching her encourage us to demonstrate the democracy we want to live in, I thought to myself

FUCK! This is exactly why she should be our goddamn President!

But now that over a week has passed and we have Donald Trump and Mike Pence and Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions and Mike Pompeo and a whole host of other angry white men who just won’t fucking go away I am starting to think that maybe that speech wasn’t all that I thought it was. Maybe it wasn’t the right thing to say. I mean, I still think she should be our President, that remains unchanged (duh!), but the speech? I don’t know.

Here’s the thing. I totally agree that one of the hallmarks of a democracy is the insistence on a peaceful transition of power. It is one of the things that makes our country great. I mean, just look at this letter that George HW Bush left for Bill Clinton when the former was bested in his re-election campaign. It exemplifies true class and is a perfect definition of a democracy in action. But I think that one of the important things about a peaceful transition is that it must be peaceful on both sides, and that simply has not been the case. I am not talking about how Donald Trump essentially said he would not accept the winner of the election unless that winner was him. In an alternate, superior universe in which the popular vote fucking mattered and Hillary was our commander-in-chief we would all be prepared for some long, drawn-out bullshit legal charade that Trump would have used to jumpstart his media empire. No, what I am talking about is that there is nothing peaceful about the appointments that Donald Trump has made so far. There is nothing peaceful about appointing documented bigots to some of the most important posts in our federal government. There is nothing peaceful about a man who believes in conversion therapy; there is nothing peaceful about someone who publicly declared that he didn’t want his children going to school with Jews; there is nothing peaceful about someone who jokes about the Ku Klux Klan by saying that he thought they were “okay until he learned that they smoke marijuana;” there is nothing peaceful about someone who has ties to the Koch Brothers.

So I don’t know exactly what I am proposing here. I feel like living in the United States over the past week has been this incredible process of emotions. It’s like, every day there is a new absolutely terrifying thing to accept, a new asshole to read about, a new way that so many of us are realizing we are going to be governed by people who hate us. Because it isn’t just that I don’t like them, it’s that they don’t like anyone who doesn’t look and sound like they do. Anyone with a different skin tone, a different accent, different genitalia, different abilities, a different religion, or different ideas about romantic partners. It’s that they are not going to try to Make America Great Again. They are going to try to Remake America in their own image. And that image is repressive and violent. Because repression is violence.

So, no. Maybe on Wednesday November 9th when there was still a dying hope that all the bigotry and hate that Trump spewed during his campaign was smoke and mirrors and he was really not as bad as we all thought, maybe at that point we owed him an open mind. Although I am reluctant to say that after all the hate he stirred up he was owed anything good from us. But now, on November 19th that time has passed. We tried and he made us look a fool. There is nothing peaceful about this transition and it is about time that more Democrats in power, and that more private citizens, start making that point. We are not a country at peace, we are a country in complete and total turmoil; a country in which people feel afraid to be themselves.

As far as I am concerned we owe Trump nothing but what we owe ourselves: a fight.*

 

*And to stop reading his fucking Twitter feed. Seriously. How can we expect his staff to do fucking anything if they can’t stop him from making a fool of himself on Twitter every goddamn day like a giant, orange-colored toddler in tasteless neck ties.

Swastikas at The New School

13 Nov

How much do you guys know about The New School University, formerly The New School for Social Research? I know a few of my readers (oh hey, GPIA!) know this little tidbit but for the rest of you, I just want to fill you in on a little history. It’ll tie in. I swear. The New School was founded in 1919 by a bunch of progressive educators unhappy with the direction academia was going in the United States. In 1933, it was set up as a University in Exile; a graduate division that was set up as an academic haven for scholars who had been fired from jobs in fascist Italy or were fleeing from Nazi Germany. The University in Exile had later incarnations and some of the notable scholars associated with it include Hanna Arendt, Erich Fromm and Max Wertheimer among others.

So let me just, real quick again, say something which is actually probably more for me than for any of my readers because this shit has been violently banging against my head all night. The New School for Social Research, my alma mater, with the motto “To the Living Spirit,” acted as a University in Exile during one of the darkest times in this world’s history for academics fleeing certain death. For academics fired by Stalin and fleeing Hitler. And last night someone drew a series of swastikas in one of the dorms. There were four large swastikas scrawled on four separate dorm room doors. Each of the rooms housed at least one Jewish student.

Open anti-semitism in New York fucking City at a school that has acted as a safe haven for scholars fleeing totalitarian and fascist governments at home.

And so I guess I have to say this because, I don’t know, I feel confused that some people maybe are missing the point.

This election is different.

This isn’t that someone won that we didn’t like. I mean, listen, I will be the first to say I would have been massively disappointed if Jeb Bush or John Kasich won. And I would have cried if it had been Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz, but especially the latter. But this is not just about someone who isn’t “our gal” winning. This is that the forces of hatred have been awoken and they have been thrust into the middle of our cities and our towns. The hate is coming from the darkest depths of the internet and appearing on the dorm room doors of young, Jewish students at a progressive university in a progressive city. The hate is coming from our peers. It is everywhere, all around us, and it is fucking scary.

So for those people who keep telling everyone to stop protesting? I mean, sure, you are welcome to your own opinion and of course and I respect that. But I think you should read this article by Teju Cole. It was in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend and it is everything. It basically lays out, in words so beautiful I could never manage to formulate them on my own, let alone get them to flow from my brain and onto a piece of paper, how easy it is to normalize and excuse what is going on all around us. It says what so many of us have been trying to say. It says that this election is different. And so again, while I respect your beliefs that the protests are getting in the way and setting us back I have to disagree with you, and strongly. This is a democracy in action. And it has to happen this way, it has to continue. For most people it isn’t about contesting the election, it isn’t about being sore losers and not accepting a result or anything like that. It is about communicating that we simply cannot stand by and watch as our government, our country, our goddamn home is coopted by hate and fear. We simply cannot let this stand. We must refuse. Because the alternative is simply too hard to imagine. When we stop fighting, when we stop protesting, when we stop organizing and writing and talking that is the moment when we let the fear and the hatred take hold of us, that is the moment that we throw our hands up and say, “well, the people have spoken.”

No.

So I don’t know about you but I am not about to let that happen. I have spent a lifetime being active in my social circles and in my small space on the internet but more or less complacent the rest of the time. But enough is enough. If we needed this to awaken us all, then we needed it. But we sure as hell better take this as an opportunity to fight for change and for equality and for the end of hatred and abuse, otherwise we are no better than the rest of them. So, yeah, protest. Keep protesting. Protest for the next four years, no matter what form that protest takes. I am finding mine.

Swastikas at the fucking New School. This shit has got to stop.

We Do Not Deserve Trump

1 Nov

So first and foremost I want you all to know that I am incredibly, incredibly stressed about this campaign. My stomach has been acting up in ways it hasn’t acted up since college and every mention of the possibility of a Hillary loss sends my heart dropping through my feet with such speed and intensity that it blows a hole through the ground beneath me and just keeps falling on and on forever. I have been #withher since the early days and proudly so. And no, this is not because she is a woman although that certainly helps. It is true that I have asked my close girlfriends repeatedly where we all want to be watching when the first woman is elected President of the United States of America. The significance, you see, is not lost on me. But the significance of the Rise of the Matriarchy, as we have begun to call it, is also not what made me support Hillary from the jump, even over the perceived Messiah Bernie Sanders. I have simply just believed that she is the best person, not the best woman, but the best person for the job. That does not mean, however, that I think she is perfect. None of us are. She has made her fair share of mistakes. So have I. But 30 years of public service shows me that she has the work ethic and the desire to do the job to the best of her ability and I honestly believe that her ability is of a higher quality than anyone else’s at the current moment. I cannot wait to vote for her next week. I’ll probably cry. And I cannot wait to sit somewhere, with my friends, and watch as she wins the election. I will definitely bawl. And the next day I will celebrate, and maybe the day after that. But then the work will begin anew because for me, the election of Hillary is not the ends. It is just one step in a long, long process that will never end but will hopefully, bit by painful and hard-earned bit, bring us to a better place than we are today. A better place for everyone. And so, with that out there, I have something to say.

We do not deserve a President Trump.

Did you all read that? Did you all understand? Because time and time again on my timeline and on the timeline of my friends, as well as in newspaper columns and magazines, I have read as people have said that maybe we should get a President Trump because we deserve him. And time and time again I have looked up the person who uttered those words and that person has been white. Oftentimes male, sometimes female, but basically always white. And here’s the thing. Among all people, straight, white cis males will be least affected, although by no means unaffected, by a Trump Presidency. The rest of us though? We will be massively impacted to varying degrees. A Trump Presidency more or less means a Pence Presidency and Pence is a scary dude. And Trump, for his part, has traded almost exclusively in hatred, bigotry and lies. This is a less safe country than it was at the beginning of this campaign season and I don’t think the unease and violence will end with the election of a President Hillary Clinton. What Trump has done throughout this campaign has been to empower the people who we least want empowered. He has made David Duke national news again. He has tapped into white supremacist groups that regularly use racist, bigoted, misogynist and anti-semitic language. He has made them believe that their language, their hate, is welcome in mainstream politics; he has released them all from under the rocks and from deep within the caves where they have long been hiding. And what’s really scary is that as the language seeps out from the depths of the internet where it’s been alive and well, albeit somewhat cordoned off, from the majority of users, what we become accustomed to begins to change. My fear is that a Trump Presidency will mean that that vitriol will leak drip, by drip out into the mainstream so that what we will just shrug our shoulders and walk away from shaking our heads are the things that get us red-faced and angry today. I’m afraid we will become  increasingly numb to the ugliness among us. And that petrifies me.

So I guess what I am saying is that I wish people wouldn’t be so irresponsibly glib. We should all think about what we’re saying. We deserve a President Trump as much as Germany deserved Hitler; as much as Columbia deserved Pinochet; as much as England deserved Thatcher; as much as Syria deserves Assad; as much as The Philippines deserve Duterte. Which is to say not at all. What we deserve is to be a better country for everyone than we are today and a President Trump would be better for no one, not a soul, not even Donald Trump himself.

So get out there, friends. Vote. Volunteer. Donate. I know a lot of you don’t like Hillary Clinton and I understand that, that’s okay. We all have our own opinions. But one thing that I can say for certain is that no person will ever be perfect, no person will ever be the ideal President for every single person. But this is not an election between the lesser of two evils. This is an election between an existentially dangerous showman and a highly qualified person. We don’t deserve a President Trump. We deserve the best that we can get and as far as I’m concerned, that’s Hillary Clinton. And if you don’t do it for yourself, if you don’t vote for you, vote on behalf of all the people who are being kept from the polls through questionable practices and intimidation; vote on behalf of the women who want control over their reproductive health; vote on behalf of the people of color living in inner cities who have heard their communities blasted as hell holes throughout this entire election; vote on behalf of the millions of people throughout the world who still see America as a beacon of freedom, safety and possibility. Vote on behalf of them. Because a President Trump doesn’t just fuck us, he fucks the world. And the world doesn’t have a say in our elections but we certainly do. So let’s do the right thing here.

Let’s bring Trump down and send those of his supporters who traffic in bigotry and hatred down with him. We have room for a lot of people here in the United States of America, but we don’t have room for that.

Joe Biden 4Ever

5 Oct

As I said last night during the Vice Presidential debates, my overall feelings remain as follows: I would very much like Joe Biden to be VP forever. Where is science when what this country really needs is the ability to make Joe Biden live on for the rest of time? Behind. That’s where. But seeing as an immortal Biden is probably not in the offing at the moment, perhaps we should discuss what we do have: a Democratic VP candidate who came off overbearing, condescending and elitist against a cool as a cucumber Republican who is horrifyingly socially conservative, but who managed to essentially dodge every single barb lodged his way to come across the clear winner. Not good folks, not good.

So I know we all have lots of very valid feelings about how incredibly unqualified Donald Trump is to be President. Watching him and reading about him and coming to terms, over and over again, that yes, this is in fact happening right now to us here in the United States in the year 2016, is a harrowing experience. Even more harrowing? Thinking about what our future might be if the unthinkable happens. I have been largely incapable of actually engaging with what the reality of a Donald Trump presidency would be. All my brain calls up is nuclear winter. Seriously. I think about where we will be like 2 years in and all I can really envision is myself emerging from some shack that has replaced my previously comfortable and lovely apartment and looking around, seeing only the remains of what once was, with people walking around in drab, worn out clothing searching for food for their children, emerging occasionally with a somehow preserved piece of organic rainbow chard from the co-op. I know that is probably a little bit extreme. Of course we will still have chard. There will always be chard. But things will not be good. That man is going to be in charge of appointing at least one Supreme Court Justice along with all the different Secretaries of different things. He knows no one in the political world. Where would he even find these people? Under his bed? In his pantry? I don’t know. And then there’s the speeches to the country and, worse, the world; the trips overseas to speak with foreign leaders; his presence in towns as a voice of empathy and resolve when, inevitably, another shooting occurs; him sitting in the Situation Room, beating his chest and declaring that he alone knows about war, even though the only thing he really knows about war is how to avoid being drafted to fight in one. And also…and also…he is going to be a man at the helm during the formative years for so many young people. How do you tell boys to respect girls, tell girls they are worthwhile and smart and equal, with that man as President? I just don’t know.

It’s all very scary. Scarier? Mike Pence. Over the past few weeks people have said to me in voices both hushed and not-too-hushed that they either think someone should or someone will kill Donald Trump if he wins the Presidency. Now I don’t think that will happen and, honestly, I hope it doesn’t. I dislike Trump as much, maybe more than, the next gal and wish he would just sort of decide that he is just too great to share his tremendous greatness with an undeserving populace made up of losers and dogs and just sort of fade away. Saying I want him dead though, that makes me feel like garbage. Also a dead Trump means that we have a Pence presidency and that proposition is scary as fuck.

Pence is currently the Governor of Indiana. As the Governor, he signed the most restrictive abortion regulations in the country. House Bill 1337 requires women to view an ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat hours before an abortion; it criminalizes fetal tissue collection or transferring, a practice that has been useful in trying to understand Zika, among other things; it bans women who wish to abort a child based off the race, color, national origin, ancestry, or sex of the fetus*; it defunded Planned Parenthood which led to an outbreak of HIV in one county because it cut off access to the only HIV testing center available to many residents**; by criminalizing many abortions it opens up the possibility that abortion providers can be sued for wrongful death; the list goes on and on and on. That shit is no joke. Pence even said on the campaign trail that under a Trump/Pence ticket “(w)e’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.” My non-child-wanting womb is screaming for mercy just thinking about it. And this man, in the event of Trump’s demise, could become president and therefore appoint a Supreme Court Justice who could be the swing vote on so many things. So, so many. What other things? Ill tell you.

In 2015, Pence helped to pass one of the harshest “religious freedom” laws in the country. It would have protected businesses who wished to refuse service to LGBT people if they cited religious objections. Does Mike Pence remember segregation? Does he remember how incredibly unethical, inhumane, immoral and illegal that was? How would Mike Pence feel if people decided to not serve him because he is a bigoted asshole? Probably not too good, if I had to guess. Furthermore, when he was a congressman he supported legislation that refused to fund treatment for people suffering from HIV or AIDS, and instead wanted to invest that money in programs that would discourage people from engaging in same-sex relationships.

Following the attacks in Paris he tried, unsuccessfully thanks to the sometimes-functioning court system, to block Syrian immigrants from entering Indiana. Back in 2004 Pence supported a bill that would have potentially deported undocumented people from local hospitals. If passed, the Undocumented Alien Emergency Medical Assistance Amendments Bill, HR 3722, would have required hospitals to report information on undocumented patients before they could be reimbursed for any care given, basically giving ICE unfettered access to people in their most vulnerable moments. In 2006, he introduced a plan that he called a “no amnesty immigration reform.” In Pence’s summary of the plan he wrote,

“The Border Integrity and Immigration Reform Act is a bill that is tough on border security and tough on employers who hire illegal aliens, but recognizes the need for a guest worker program that operates without amnesty and without growing into a huge new government bureaucracy”

Dude has an A rating from the NRA. An A fucking rating. I mean I know there are a lot of responsible gun users out there but it sort of feels like there is a shooting in a school or a nightclub or a movie theater every other day. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, “firearms were used to kill more than two-thirds of spouse and ex-spouse homicide victims between 1990 and 2005.” And that is only in the realm of DV. That doesn’t include unintended homicide or injury, suicide, etc. Shit is bad. But more guns are the answer, right? Mike? You think so? Obviously you do.

He also is skeptical of climate change. Which I mean, I know that earlier in this post I was disappointed in science’s inability to make Biden immortal, but I trust it on climate change. Maybe we should send him to chat with a polar bear. Maybe he’ll get eaten. Moving on, he believes in the privatization of education. Back in 1990 he used campaign donations to pay for his mortgage and his credit card bills.

And if you saw the debates last night you saw how Mike Pence managed to win without ever really saying he agreed with Donald Trump. Because clearly he doesn’t. Mike Pence is not stupid. Mike Pence is gearing up for his own run at the Oval Office, assuming his career can withstand such a close relationship with the biggest dunce of a candidate we have ever seen. Christie’s certainly couldn’t. But Christie did give us the circus that is BridgeGate so there’s that.

So now, because I am hungry and need to lleave this be in order to eat some food, here is my new theory: you know how back when no one thought Trump would actually be the Republican candidate people kept saying that he was really a plant by the Democratic party to insure a Republican win? What if in reality Pence is the plant. Get Trump elected. Trump gets to brag about what a winner he is. And then he says

Nah, I’m good. It was all about the tremendous chase.

And then he introduces President Pence. And the entire world shudders.

* I know the idea of sexual, racial, etc selection sounds awful, but what this effectively does is turn abortion into a he(she)-said she(he)-said. How do you prove that this was the reason behind someone attaining an abortion? Do you record every session? Or does this open the door for anti-choice activists to target women who have obtained an abortion regardless of the reason?

** This is what pro-choice activists have been saying about the increasingly restrictive regulations surrounding abortions for decades. There are many unintended consequences to the defunding of Planned Parenthood seeing as how a significant percentage of those who rely on PP for annual check-ups and the like are low income and therefore cannot simply hop in a car and drive, where? Two counties over?

 

 

 

The Difficulties of Buying a Travel Guide

30 Dec

I am going to Puerto Rico with my super awesome friend Dee this coming Sunday straight from work. Which means my flight is at 5:30am. I would just like to comment on the fact that I always book flights stupid early and I always, always, ALWAYS regret doing it. One of the times I did this I ended up sleeping on a marble slab in the Cancun Airport and the only way I managed to get the small amount of sleep in that I did was because I did not, at that point, know that the Cancun Airport is infested with cockroaches the size of New York City rats. Seriously they are fucking huge. If I had known they were there everything would have been different. And I mean everything.

Anyway, in anticipation of my trip I walked up to the bookstore to buy a Lonely Planet guide for Puerto Rico. I know, I know, we totally have phones for that but I still like to hold on to those days before smart phones and WiFi when I had to rely on guide books and really poorly drawn and labeled maps. I suck at maps and would always end up hopelessly lost but then something super fun and awesome would happen and it would be worth it. So I still buy the books. I don’t care that they are overpriced and non-returnable. All of that aside I found myself standing in the travel section at the book store and had the following questions:

Where do I even look for Puerto Rico? Will it be in the international or domestic travel section?!

Puerto Rico is not a state but it is an unincorporated US territory. Puerto Ricans are not able to vote in US elections but they do pay federal taxes to the United States government. So in my mind Puerto Rico is pretty much the same thing as Washington DC only with more beaches and less lawyers and Washington DC is definitely in the domestic section. So I looked in the domestic section. (This is actually how this all went down, by the way.)

In case you haven’t visited it recently, the travel section at the bookstore is very confusing. For me, anyway. In grade school, using the magic of music, I learned all about organizing library books (and, by extension, books in the bookstore) and how there are different rules for different types of books. We sang songs. We marched around. Here is an excerpt from the song about nonfiction books:

Nonfiction books
Are books that are so true!
They’re on the shelves in number or…
Number oooooor-derrrrrrr

And here is the one about biographies:

Biography!
It’s a real story!
About real people!
Woo!

We never had a song about travel guides though. I’ve had to learn this one on my own. So the way that they do travel guides, I have found, sort of depends on what bookstore you go to. Mostly it depends on how much people care about keeping it organized. The travel section is always getting all sorts of fucked up. I blame the wanderers who spend time leafing through the books. So in the domestic section the books are organized alphabetically by state, and then under the state the big cities are also organized alphabetically. So if you are looking for New Orleans you would look under L for Louisiana and not under N for New Orleans. Sometimes. Sometimes things are also organized by region. I don’t know, it’s weird and confusing. The international section is generally easier, as long as you stay away from Europe. The Europe section is all fucked up also because a lot of Americans go to Europe and so there are all kinds of country groupings, and regional groupings, and books about specific areas within certain small countries (France and Italy have a lot of little mini-books for more specific travel). Other areas of the world that seem less relevant to the majority of American travelers are not nearly so broken up and so are easier to find in the alphabatized world of travel books. So, for example,  it’s hard to buy a book called ALL OF EUROPE but you can get a book called ALL OF SOUTHEAST ASIA AND ALSO A FEW OTHER PLACES. It is located under A. For ALL OF.

As it turns out Puerto Rico was in the international section. The travel section was all like

Fuck you Puerto Rico you are not a real state.

But the thing that was crazy about it was that right near Puerto Rico, in the same international section, were all the books on Hawaii. Now that threw me for a little bit of a loop because last time I checked Hawaii was, in fact, a state with a star on the flag and everything. Also voting rights. So then I thought to myself,

Self, maybe the staff at Barnes and Noble only considers the contiguous United States to be domestic.

I mean, that is absolutely incorrect but I suppose I could see a small amount of logic in there? Maybe? So I looked around in the international section for Alaska. Alaska is not part of the contiguous United States. Alaska was also not in the international section. It was domestic. There goes that theory. So then I figured perhaps they only considered the continental United States, which is the lower 48 plus Alaska, to be domestic. Still inaccurate, by the way, but whatever. Which also brings me to wonder about why we call the contiguous United States the lower 48 when Hawaii is also lower, geographically, than Alaska. It should actually be the lower 49, if we are being specific. But perhaps that labeling came about before August 21, 1959 when Hawaii officially became a state and we just never stopped saying it.

So then I thought maybe the staff of Barnes and Noble just decided that the United States is not a country that brings to mind islands and so anything that is an island — Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam — is obviously not part of the actual country and therefore should be located in the international travel section. And besides, Hawaii is not in the Americas but instead in Oceania which sounds like somewhere you would need a passport to visit. Also it doesn’t follow daylight savings time although neither do parts of Indiana and Indiana is squarely located in the domestic section…I mean, it would be…I think…if there was a travel guide written about it.  Maybe it’s the volcano that does it? Or the fact that Hawaii has two official languages: English and Hawaiian.

Hold on a second!

Puerto Rico also has two official languages! English and Spanish! Or, more accurately, Spanish and English.

And then it dawned on me! Obviously the person who organizes the travel section is a linguist and made the domestic/international call based entirely on whether or not a place has more than one official language! Or, on the shittier end, maybe the person is not a linguist and is, in fact, one of those fucked up “English-only” people who doesn’t believe anyone should officially speak anything other than English in the United States, or its territories, and therefore places that do not abide by that rule must be relegated to the international section with the rest of the fascists and their subpar, fascist languages. (Have you noticed that closed-minded people are always throwing accusations of fascism around? I have.)

I think I might write a letter.