Statements and Resources

Monday, March 13, 2017

Rapists Should Not Get To Be President

Rapists should not be allowed to become President of the United States. Full stop.

Tonight, ladies and gentlemen of #TheResistance, I am going to talk about some difficult things, and I am going to reveal my scars to you. When I began this public journal of life in the Trump era, I made a decision not to talk too much about myself, because I wanted this journal to be accessible to anyone. I envisioned it sort of as America's public journal.

But, frankly, that was a stupid idea.

That was stupid because for anyone to be real, they must first be themselves. I cannot offer an unflinching view into The Trump Era if I hide myself from my readers. Moreover, if I hide the fact that I am a survivor of domestic violence and multiple sexual assaults, then I am hiding one of my main problems with Our Dear Orange Leader. I know I am not alone in this regard, and by hiding I cheat myself out of a way of connecting with my readers.

So here goes, full disclosure time. (Trigger warning: rape and sexual assault).

I am, as I said, a survivor of multiple sexual assaults. I have been raped by five men. The first time I was nine. He was my mother's boss. He raped both my sisters (ages five and eleven) and I, and a three year old girl we lived with on a regular basis during the time we all shared the same dwelling. Our mom got us out of there, but to this day denies the reason.

The next time I was raped I was fifteen. He was a boy my age. We lived in a group home for troubled youth. He climbed in my window while I slept.

The last time I was raped I was seventeen. Over the course of eight years, five different men sexually assaulted me. I can't even remember how many individual instances there were. 

It doesn't matter how many individual instances there were. The damage was done the first time. Every woman who suffers sexual assault--and there are way too fucking many of us--are damaged with the first attack.

  
Sexual assault of any kind--from groping and grabbing to rape--teaches the victim (mostly, but not always a woman) that she exists for the taking by others. That she has no worth beyond what part of her can be consumed by others. Rape and sexual assault have nothing whatever to do with desire (save for the desire for power and aggression) or lust (save for the lust for power and aggression).

It's about dominance, pure and simple.

Our current President is a rapist. He has been accused of assault by an alarming number of women. He has been caught on tape bragging about his ability to get away with grabbing, groping, and kissing women without consent because "he's a star." Not only has he denied any of the claims, he has threatened to sue his victims for speaking out publicly. A January article from The Independent quoted Trump at one of his campaign rallies last year:

Mr Trump dismissed the claims from Natasha Stoynoff, telling the crowd at a Florida rally, "Look at her", suggesting she was not attractive enough to be assaulted.

Let's break that statement down. That is a pretty goddamn loaded statement, and it is one that damages not only the victims of sexual assault, but all women.

First and foremost: rape and sexual assault are not about a man's sexual desire for a woman, and they are not about a woman's desirability.

Dismissing a woman's claim that she was sexually assaulted on the basis that you do not find her attractive is disgusting, and it says WAY more about you than about her. 

Mr. Trump, when you called that woman out for not being "pretty enough" to be raped, what message were you sending the attractive women in your life? That they win, and the prize is earning the right to be sexually assaulted? 

And Mr. Trump, what of that woman you first assaulted and then scoffed at? Because I fully fucking believe you assaulted her. In fact, I believe ALL of your accusers.

One of the less discussed scars that rape and sexual assault cause is the ugliness scar. Being assaulted makes you feel ugly. It makes you feel undesirable. It makes you feel unlovable. It is because it is an act of violence and because the predator uses your body without permission, taking what he wants and then leaving. 

Victims of sexual assault and rape are left feeling hollowed out, dirty, and ugly.

And again, it doesn't matter if it "only" happens one time or if it happens a thousand times. Rape and sexual assault are pernicious. The after-effects--and there are many, many after-effects--have a way of coming back again and again throughout your life. 

So, in a very real way, when Trump stood before his throngs of MAGA-hat-wearing admirers and scoffed at a woman he assaulted, claiming he couldn't have done it because "Well, look at her," he re-assaulted her. He re-victimized her, and for a punchline!

There are so many things I hate about Trump, but that is the number one thing. He embodies everything about toxic masculinity, and he knows it, and he is stupid enough to think those character flaws are benefits. 

Trump is a vile, pathetic, lying, serial assaulter of women. He doesn't deserve to be president of HELL, let alone the United States.

I wept on Election Night when it became clear to me that the rapist was going to win. And, to be honest, I haven't been fully okay since then. I am fortunate to have a loving and supportive husband, and a loving and supportive daughter. And I'm fortunate that it has been over two decades since the last time I was personally assaulted, and I am fortunate that I haven't had to see any of my rapists since.

But imagine for a moment what it feels like for TRUMP's numerous victims? Can you imagine what it's like watching your RAPIST ruin our country while scoffing at your pain and calling you a liar?

We have to get this predator out of the White House. Thank you for listening while I opened up. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. 

Follow me on twitter: @LiteraryGrrrl The revolution will be tweeted!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Get Out is the Movie America NEEDS: SPOILERS

WARNING: SPOILERS THROUGHOUT



The premise of Get Out is deceptively simple: an interracial American couple (yes, of course it's a white woman and a black man) goes home to spend a weekend with the woman's family in the country. We learn in the first few minutes that Rose hasn't forewarned her parents that her boyfriend Chris is black. We see Chris struggle with that, and we watch as Rose assures him he has nothing to fear from her family except maybe a little awkward overcompensation.

After all, she argues, they raised her. How racist could they be?



With Chris's fears momentarily assuaged, they set out for Rose's family's country estate: and it is an estate, with sweeping, gorgeous grounds and a home that would not look out of place in 1840s Tennessee. On the way, Rose behind the wheel, they hit a deer. They pull over, and Chris walks away to find the deer (he hears what he thinks are its dying bleats). Meanwhile, Rose calls 911. We learn this when Chris returns to the car. He approaches in time to hear the officer explain that animal control would have been a better agency to call. Rose, visibly embarrassed and still a little shook up, apologizes.

"Of course, I'm so sorry. I freaked out."

Then the officer asks for Chris's drivers license. Chris, reaching for his wallet, explains that all he has is a state ID. He doesn't seem offended, but Rose is. She tells the officer that she was driving and demands to know why he has to see Chris's ID. Chris tells her it's okay, the officer--in a tone far more gruff than her boyfriend's--tells her this is standard procedure. But Rose wasn't interested in either of their assessments of the situation. She declared it bullshit, and that settled the matter. Chris returned his unopened wallet to his pocket.

The white woman told two men (one a police officer!) who were trying to override her objections that she wasn't having it, and she got her way. That was the first display of the Power of White Women in Get Out, but it wouldn't be the last.


I'm not going to give you a play-by-play of the whole movie. That would be boring to read and I really want you to go see it, and besides, that's not why I'm writing this review. The meat and the might of Get Out is not in the action that plays out on the screen (although that is beautifully shot and entertaining to watch), but in what it reveals about all of us. The "action" in Get Out can be summed up in two sentences:

Black man becomes increasingly uncomfortable at a retreat with his white girlfriend and her surprisingly racist family. And then the killings begin.

Of course that's an oversimplification. Still, it helps to think of Get Out as having two distinct sections. In the first section, Chris and Rose are a normal, loving couple going to and then navigating within a family retreat. For Chris, the difficulty is his constant inner struggle: are the people he encounters really as racist as they appear? Or is he being paranoid? For Rose, the difficulty is in trying to act as go-between for both her family and Chris. She apologizes for her family's eccentricities (including the two oddly servile black servants employed by her parents) and has to try to interpret their statements and motives for her boyfriend. 

That's part one, and that, I think, is recognizable for most of us regardless of race (although, of course, Chris's struggles are especially poignant for people of color.) This is regular life in America: everyone trying to navigate issues of race without anyone actually discussing issues of race. But then the movie hits us over the head with part two, the power of which is set up by the increasing tension of the seemingly normal events of part one.



Massive spoilers ahead!!

In part one we learn that Rose's father is a neurosurgeon and her mother a hypnotherapist. We learn the mother's profession when it is revealed that Chris is trying to quit smoking. Rose's mother offers to help, and her father tells Chris that he also used to smoke but after one session with his wife the sight and smell of cigarettes make him physically ill. Chris politely declines.



Part two begins with the single most significant, most contested, and most brilliant moment of the film: Rose's betrayal of Chris.

When the culmination of slights and odd events at the family retreat become too much for Chris, he and Rose decide to leave early. They pack up their things, Chris with way more haste than Rose, and while she finishes, he investigates a suspiciously open crawlspace in the corner of the bedroom. Inside he finds a box of photos. There are photos of Rose growing up, and many, many photos of Rose with previous black boyfriends and a black girlfriend. A black girlfriend who looks exactly like Georgina, the family's female servant.

Chris is aghast. What could that possibly mean? Rose has told him that he is the first black man she ever dated. And what's with the photo of Georgina: her hair is styled completely differently in the picture and her whole affect seems different. Chris doesn't display any suspicion of his girlfriend, and frankly I didn't feel any, either, as a member of the audience. 

My first thought was of Rose's mother, the hypnotherapist. We watched her hypnotize Chris against his will the night before. Would it be too much of a stretch to believe that she had been hypnotizing Rose her whole life? That would be more than a little odd, but the whole family certainly seemed odd.

Chris grabs Rose and tells her they have to leave NOW, but she can't find her car keys. They scurry downstairs as Rose digs in her purse. The rest of the family meet them in front of the door. Chris barks at Rose to hurry, the family hovers menacingly, and then...

Rose pulls her hand out of her purse to reveal her car keys and says "You know I can't let you leave, right?"

At that moment, sitting in the theater, my heart dropped into my gut and the audience erupted. It was a perfect moment of storytelling and a beautifully sinister moment in the movie. And it makes all the goddamned difference for our nation.

Here's where I'm going to get a little preachy, so if you don't care about the socially important aspects of this film you might want to stop reading.

Regardless of how the movie would end if Rose never betrayed Chris, it would have been a pointless exercise. America doesn't need any more discussions of how racist our country used to be. We don't need any more examination of the horrors of Jim Crow. We need discussions about how racist we continue to be and how horrible things are right now for people of color in America.

Think about it: if Rose wasn't a racist character, then the central point of Get Out would simply have been about racist old white people. That's not news. We are very comfortable in this country pointing out the racism of our elders--and then forgiving them of it, because "that's just how things were." In order for Get Out to be a socially relevant horror film, it had to get at the heart of current American racism, and it had to do so with unflinching directness. And, by God, does it deliver.

The horror in Get Out is the revelation that white America appropriates black culture and it consumes black bodies and black talent--and it quite often does so with a smile and a compliment.

In the movie, Rose's entire family is involved in a ghastly enterprise: to quite literally hijack the bodies of black people. Rose befriends black men (and, at least once, a black woman) and delivers them to her parents. Her mom hypnotizes them, and then her father swaps their brains with that of the wealthy white person who paid for the privilege. (There is a sinister scene of Chris being auctioned off halfway through the film). The conscious mind of the black person-turned-puppet is still present in its body, but it is powerless. The original occupant of that body is reduced to being a passenger: horrifyingly aware of everything, but entirely impotent. 

The buyers do this to enjoy the benefits of what they describe as the "superior genetics" of black Americans. Think of this in social terms. Once upon a time, racist white America described black Americans as genetically inferior and then wrote laws that restricted their rights and movements according to that belief. But that's not the way that current racism thinks, is it? Current American racism, when it's being honest, sees black Americans as, in many ways, genetically superior to white Americans. Terms such as "athletically gifted," and "musically gifted," are bandied about and don't even get me started on the ways in which the black male phallus is fetishized. 

But this tacit acknowledgement of black American superiority was not accompanied by a relinquishment of the privileged position of white Americans. If anything, in a subversion of historical reasoning, that acknowledgement is now used to defend white defensiveness about their privileged social status. Modern-day white American racists tell themselves and each other: "I don't hate black people. I don't know anyone who hates black people. My niece is dating a black man! We had a black president! Racism is over!" 

Full disclosure time. 
I am a white American woman. I was born into a poor family and have experienced some of the worst deprivation that Americans can. I grew up in and out of foster care and as a child I suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of my parents and guardians. I'm a high school dropout. I've been homeless. So, for all of those reasons, for a long time I couldn't wrap my head around the idea that I had white privilege. There is nothing about my personal story that screams "privilege." As an adult, I earned my GED and then went on to college, earning first an associates of art, then a BS in sociology and finally an MS in mass communication. I worked HARD for all of it, borrowed every penny, and am now being sued by my student loan company.

So: privilege? Really? 

YES. EVEN I HAVE WHITE PRIVILEGE.

Let me tell you a short story about my friend Kellyanne (that's not her real name). She, like me, is in her forties. Unlike me, Kellyanne is a black woman. One day she and her teenage daughter Melania (also not her real name) wanted to visit an historic scenic spot here in Austin, Texas: the 360 bridge. The 360 bridge is just that: a bridge on highway 360 that overlooks Lake Austin. It's a beautiful spot. Kellyanne and Melania drove there one gorgeous afternoon, pulled over to the side of the road, and stood there for a time, enjoying the view.

And then some racist white man drove by, screaming "NIGGERS!" out his window at them.

My friend Kellyanne and I have a number of things in common. We were both born into poor families. We both suffered awful physical and sexual abuse as young girls, and we both worked for everything we have. But unlike Kellyanne, I can stand on the side of the road without having my very existence condemned by racist strangers.

And that, Dear Reader, is my white privilege. It has taken me a lifetime to come to terms with this. I learned lessons on my privilege little by little, over time, but I credit Get Out with finally driving it home. Such is the brilliance of this movie.

I want to make one more point about Get Out before I sign off and let you get back to your life. While racism and white privilege are themes in the film, it's my contention that white women are the REAL monsters of the story. Rose's father and brother physically brutalize black people (we see the brother bash a black man over the head in the opening scene before kidnapping him, and of course the father performs the surgeries that enslave them), but Rose and her mother are the movie's real, pernicious threats. Rose is the hunter: she seeks out relationships with black men and invests real time and energy into those relationships before turning the men over to her family. She apparently dated Chris for five months! In this way, Rose consumes her victims. Rose's mother, meanwhile, hypnotizes the victims before the surgeries. She literally gets inside their heads and hollows them--consuming them--out before her husband turns them into puppets. 

In my graduate mass communication program, we discussed the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation (read about it here, if you're not familiar). We were taught that the movie celebrated the KKK as the saviors of White Christian Womanhood. Get Out, by contrast, subverts the notion of White Womanhood as sacred fragility, and presents white women as the primary threat to black men. What a BOLD, truthful stance to take! 

(By the way, by acknowledging the threat that white women present to black men in both historical and contemporary terms I am NOT ignoring either historical or ongoing structural misogyny. Indeed, the notion of White Womanhood's Sacred Fragility has, in fact, been damaging to women as well. But that is another discussion for another time.)

Anyway, in sum:

Get Out is amazing. Thank GOD this movie exists. Go see Get Out. Go see it with an open mind.

The revolution will be tweeted. Follow me: @LiteraryGrrrl









Saturday, February 25, 2017

Taking a Deep Breath

Welcome back, dear friends.

It's been two weeks since I checked in with my public journal of Life in Trump's America. Last weekend my husband and I went away to La La Land, where we took in some comedy, some bad ass women's wrestling, and generally avoided anything news-related.

It was great, but in the end the real world caught up to us. It does tend to do that.

I've had a lot of thoughts since returning to Real Life, and believe it or not, not *all* of them have been about the obnoxious Orange One who now inhabits the White House. Some of them have been about chocolate, for instance, and others have been about wrestling.

Indulge me in a divergent train of thought for a moment, reader. Is it weird that at the same time our nation is facing a crisis, one pillar of which is about reality itself, professional wrestling is experiencing a much-heralded revolution? Professional wrestling, an athletic endeavor whose detractors deride as being a "fake sport," is about spectacle and storytelling and seeks to wring emotions out of its followers. 

Professional wrestling is also a big business, and its billionaire administrators have ties to the White House and the Orange One himself. Linda McMahon, wife of WWE owner Vince McMahon sits on Trump's cabinet as Secretary of the Small Business Administration.

President Trump loves to rail publicly against what he calls the "Fake News Media." A very real argument can be made that he and his administration seek to shape public opinion and push policy agendas via the creation of spectacles and sowing fear and discord in our citizenry.

Is that weird? Or am I simply, as is my wont, overthinking this? Is there a connection or am I nuts?

It's weird. Anyhow. Sorry for the digression. 

Actually, no. I'm not sorry, and frankly that wasn't much of a digression. Because the rapidly vanishing distinction between what's fake and what's real--between surreality and *actual* reality--is a central problem to life in Trump's America. I'm no longer talking about the twin rise of professional wrestling and the Trump administration. I'm talking about EVERYTHING about life now. All of it.

Our President last weekend made up a terrorist attack in Sweden. In the past month, his surrogates have also made up terrorist attacks in Kentucky and Georgia.

Trump constantly refers to the media as "fake," and polls that show his low approval ratings as "rigged."

All members of the GOP have taken to pretending that the millions of Americans who now routinely protest this administration are paid agitators. At a conservative conference this past week, NRA president Wayne LaPierre said: 

“Right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us,” he said. “The leftist movement in this country right now is enraged. Among them, and behind them, are some of the most radical political elements there are. Anarchists, Marxists, communists, and the whole rest of the left-wing socialist brigade.”
LaPierre also noted that “many of these people hate everything America stands for,” including “democracy” and “free-market capitalism.”
All of these activists, LaPierre continued, were funded by left-wing billionaires such as George Soros, and are also “angry,” “militant,” and “willing to engage in criminal violence.”
Read the full article here. 
Friday the White House officially banned many solid, well-respected media outlets (including CNN, NYT, BBC, and more) from its press briefing, but allowed overtly biased outlets such as Breitbart to attend.
FYI: Breitbart's twitter bio is: "News, commentary, and destruction of the political/media establishment."
For comparison: the new masthead of the Washington Post, one of the outlets banned from the White House's press briefing, is Democracy Dies in Darkness.
Did I mention that Steve Bannon, Trump's chief political strategist, was until very recently editor-in-chief at Breitbart? Or that at least two other senior editors from that media outlet now serve the administration in a national security advisory capacity? (Read the Times article here.) 
I could cite many more examples of truth-bending from the Trump administration and its advocates. But I won't. Instead I will leave you with this quote from British politician and social activist Arthur Ponsonby:

When war is declared, truth is the first casualty. 
The revolution will be tweeted. Follow me: @Literarygrrrl



Saturday, February 11, 2017

Am I Losing My Effing Mind?

Greetings. We just finished the third week of our new America. We now know that it's possible for the entire nation to live in a state of perpetual shock and outrage for at least three weeks without exploding.

Today is Saturday, February 11. Yesterday I woke up with one question in mind: What horrible thing is going to happen today? What horrible revelation or new Executive Order will come out of the White House today to horrify the nation and dominate the weekend's news?

Because that's been the pattern so far. Two Fridays ago, the Executive Order known colloquially as the Muslim Ban came out and we had a weekend of detentions, deportations, and families ripped apart. Last Friday a courageous judge in the state of Washington placed a restraining order on the ban, so we got a weekend of DJT maligning that judge, and, indeed, the entire judiciary, on twitter. So I knew that something was coming. Something had to. 

And indeed it did. It came to the nation's attention yesterday that Trump's promised mass-scale deportations of undocumented immigrants have begun. As it turns out, the operation began the previous Monday, but it ramped up towards the end of the week. You can read about it here. 

Yesterday when I turned on my car and NPR's Morning Edition poured from the speakers, I heard a report about an ICE detention that happened just two hours earlier less than half a mile from where me and my family live. A family of undocumented immigrants were stopped on the highway. Why? It wasn't reported. The driver, an adult male, was detained. ICE says he has a criminal record, but they won't provide details or evidence. He and his family fought back, and an ICE officer was taken to the ER with minor injuries. I'm positive there will be repercussion from that.

This shook me. I immediately texted my husband with what little I gleaned from the half of the news report that I heard. He looked online but couldn't immediately find any other news. By yesterday evening, however, there were reports coming from around the country.

That's exactly what I thought would happen. That's this administration's pattern: dump scary or ugly news Friday evening to whip the nation into a frenzy and encourage more protests in the nation's cities. That serves two functions: it puts on a big show of force, and it mobilizes the opposition, which will play into the federal government's hands whenever they decide to go ahead and criminalize protests and demonstrations.

Do I sound crazy? Paranoid? That's what living in Trump's America has done to me. But I'm also right. Trump's administration is working hard to divide us, and they're succeeding. There are many, many Americans who will not and do not understand why we are outraged over the start of coordinated, nationwide mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. After all, the laws being enforced predate the Trump administration, and THOSE PEOPLE ARE HERE ILLEGALLY, ANYWAY. This will be the third straight weekend of large nationwide protests, and this time we've gone from marching against a ban on refugees and LEGAL immigrants from specific Muslim countries to marching against deportations of immigrants who came here illegally.

The marches, demonstrations, and protests against Trump's unconstitutional Muslim ban, border wall, and mass deportations are wonderful and amazing and I'm so very, very proud of my fellow Americans. But that's not how everybody feels. And by associating these loud, disrupting events with so-called 'Criminal Aliens' and 'Illegals' will further inflame the passions of the Americans who wish we would all just shut up and adjust to our new way of life. 

News flash: we will not and MUST NOT shut up and adjust to our new way of life.

Even if (when) things get worse. Even if (when) the new administration criminalizes protests. Even if (when) the new administration criminalizes aiding undocumented immigrants. 

We must resist. We must persist.

I ask myself at least twenty times every day if this is real. Is Trump really saying what he's saying? Does he mean what he tweets? Is Bannon really masterminding anarchy? Are they really turning our democracy into an authoritarian regime? Or do they just want us to think so, and to be paralyzed by fear? Because it's really one or the other, right? Surely they don't believe what they're doing is democratic.

I'm trying to train myself to stop asking those questions, and to stop getting trapped into the logical mazes they create. Because, in the end, it doesn't matter. In the end, it amounts to the same thing. The only reason to cripple us with fear tactics is so they can do whatever they want without challenge. 

Whether Donald Trump calls himself President or Fuhrer, and whether Bannon ever steps out of the shadows is irrelevant. They ARE what they ARE: evil, greedy, corrupt, racist, misogynist and hell-bent on a world of chaos.

Last weekend I was demoralized. This weekend I'm ANGRY. Time to #Resist!

The revolution will be tweeted! Follow me ----> @LiteraryGrrrl

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Two Weeks Down, An Infinty to Go?

If I had to choose five key words to describe the way I feel after lurching through Trump's first two weeks as president, I would go with:


  1. Tired
  2. Achy
  3. Demoralized
  4. Nauseous
  5. Irritable


Welcome back to my public journal of Life in Trump's America! Sorry to begin with such an odious tone, but I vowed to be honest with you. I wish I could say that my 5 key words these past two weeks were motivated, self-empowered, powerful, excited, and successful, but that would be a lie and I think we both know it.

The hardest part for me (and maybe also for you) is trying to strike a workable balance between keeping up with my regular day-to-day responsibilities and staying on top of--and trying to fight--every single awful development in the Trump administration. 

So many horrendous changes happen every single day. From sunup to sundown, I'm hit with periodic waves of terrified nausea.

The good in all this, if there is any good, is the tremendous backlash Trump's administration is receiving from the American people. I am so proud of my country for not rolling over.

Congress, on the other hand...

Anyway. Just this morning it came to my attention that the USDA has removed a bunch of information about animal safety from its website. (Click here to read). The information is from the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. From the Associated Press article: 

The information is used by advocacy groups and other members of the public to look up information on commercial dog and horse breeders, some of whom have had a history of abuse. The reports included lists of animal welfare violations at those facilities and also at animal testing labs, and whether those violations have been corrected.

Nowhere does it say that the Trump administration forced USDA to do this, but that does seem in line with actions taken by the Trump administration since assuming office. 

Why do I care? My daughter is studying chemistry in college, with the goal of first working for and then (hopefully) running her own cruelty-free cosmetics company. If the government is no longer going to provide the public information on which companies are abusing animals, how can we make informed decisions? Also, it follows that if the government stops reporting on companies who abuse animals, it will likely stop (if it hasn't already) inspecting those companies to make sure animal rights laws are followed. 

And then guess what? Those laws aren't going to be followed anymore.

USDA says the public can still access the revoked information through Freedom of Information Act requests. Oh, really? I decided to test that by making a request.

Aaaaaaaannnnnnnnndddd ran into a brick wall. I will have to return to that later. I am in a considerable amount of pain and this isn't helping.

Now to go analyze the President's tweets, because that's the world we live in now.

See you next time. #Resist

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oh Shit Trump is President!

Wednesday January 25 2017

I'm really not sure how this journal is going to work.

I got the idea for this public journal a few weeks after the election night. But the idea wasn't fully formed. About all I knew for certain then--indeed, all I continue to know for certain--is that I wanted to keep a journal about living in Donald Trump's America, and that I wanted it to be public.

Forgive me for throwing up in my mouth when I typed the words "Donald Trump's America."

I expect I will use this space to vent, and to gather my courage for the continuing fight. I also want to share my experiences with you so that we can feel more connected, because I predict that the country's fractures are only going to deepen. Americans are an independent folk, and that generally serves us well, but it also works to enable an US vs. THEM mentality. The presidential campaign really ramped up that kind of rhetoric, and now that the Trump administration is installed in the White House our nation is getting a pretty clear picture of just what the government feels the official THEM look like. And how they worship. And how they vote. And who they love.

I do not intend for this journal to become a list of the horrible things that the Trump administration is doing, because there are much better sources for that kind of information. However, I do want to give you a little picture of where we are right now, in case you've been living under a rock or you're reading this from the future. (If you are reading this from the future, please tell me we make it out ok! What's it like? Do we finally get flying cars??)

Donald Trump has been president of the United States for 6 days now. Less than a week. And already things are changing. Already things are looking grim.


  • Trump's administration immediately paved the way for the coming repeal of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, which provides health insurance for some 20 million people
  • Trump and his press secretary Sean Spicer made overt threats to the media, insinuating that they would cut off access to the White House if they receive unfavorable coverage
  • Trump and his administration continue to tell obvious and needless lies to the media and the country about such things as the size of the inauguration crowd in DC
  • Trump's administration put a gag order on many federal agencies, such as the USDA, the EPA, Department of Commerce and others that states they cannot talk to the press, cannot share any information with the public, cannot make public any scientific findings, etc.
  • Trump's administration froze all funding for the EPA and ordered all employees to stop working and to make no communications with anyone until further notice
  • On Twitter, Trump made a threat to the city of Chicago, saying that if they didn't get their gun violence and homicide rate under control he would "send in the feds"
  • The GOP is pushing through a bill with the absolutely Orwellian name of First Amendment Defense Act that would make it legal to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans on the basis of their sexuality

Remember, a WEEK AGO Barack Obama was president and America was leading the world in our efforts to combat climate change and fighting against discrimination of transgender Americans. This is nightmarish.
And this is just a teeny-tiny sample of what's going on right now. I could go on for hours. But this isn't a newspaper and you didn't come here to read a rundown of current events. This is a public journal designed to be...what?

I guess I want this to be a conversation. I want you to feel like I've taken you by the hand and am leading you through my day. Maybe we're sitting on the porch having a drink and bitching about work. I want this journal to not only give you an idea of what life looks like in Trump's America, but also what it feels like. 

So let me tell you a little about me. My name is Shana Hammaker Roy. I'm a forty year old wife and mother. I live with my husband Brandon and my college-age daughter Meredith. I am a pharmacy technician but am looking to (finally) make the move into journalism. I have lived in Austin Texas for the past four and a half years, but was born and raised in California. In between, I spent varying amounts of time living in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Tennessee. 

I'm a high school drop out with three college degrees. I owe more than I make in two years in college debt.

I've been around. I've met a lot of people. I feel like I have a unique perspective of our great nation.

And now, along with the rest of America, my life has been upended. I feel like I'm standing at the edge of a precipice and I can't see what's below me. Is it razor-sharp spikes? Is it a sea teaming with electric eels and hungry sharks? Is it sun-baked desert sand? Is it fluffy pillows?

It's probably not fluffy pillows.

Anyhow, welcome to my journey. If you're from a nation that has already struggled with autocracy and moved beyond it, please read my worries with a gentle heart. As you know, America is a young country. We're still figuring shit out. If you're in the future, I guess you know how this story ends, which is sort of weird to think about. Thanks for taking this ride with me anyway! I plan to add to this journal as often as I can, but at least twice a week. For now, see you soon and be safe!



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

3 Facts About Trump and his BFF Putin

(Hello from the future! The post below was written on December 14 2016, so before Trump assumed power and before many, many more revelations came out concerning his ties to Russia and Putin. Read it with that understanding, then continue to the update that follows.)


My fellow Americans, we are living in dark times.

This Christmas, when we gather with our loved ones, we will be doing so knowing that our nation is facing its most critical moment since the Bay of Pigs. Indeed, a reasonable argument can be made that our current crisis eclipses the Bay of Pigs. 

Because, my fellow citizens, last month on Election Day we thought we were voting for the next President of the United States. As it turns out, we were merely acting out the final scene in a play that was a joint production of the Trump campaign and Putin's government.

There has been a veritable ton of information passed around in recent days about Russia's involvement in the election, from such venerated sources as the New York Times and the Washington Post. Outrage over the meddling is bipartisan. Few people are left who doubt the fact that the Russian government interfered in our election deliberately to help elect Trump. 

Of course, President-Elect Trump is among those few who dismiss the intelligence community's conclusion that Putin's government messed with the election.



In addition to those stunning words, Trump's transition team released a formal statement pertaining to the C.I.A. report. Let's say it was...succinct:


Pithy denials aside, this is a thing that actually happened. A foreign power breached our defenses and played us for fools. Putin's government hacked into government computers and waged a propaganda war in our sovereign territory for the express purpose of getting their puppet--Trump--elected.

And they succeeded.

3 Facts about Trump and his Bromance with BFF Putin

  • The Russian government hacked into BOTH the Democratic National Committee AND the Republican National Committee emails

It is mentioned in the aforementioned NYT article from December 11 that we now know that the Russian government-sponsored hackers broke into the Republican National Committee's emails, too. The attack, it turns out, was bipartisan. So why were only the Democratic emails leaked?

Excerpted from C.I.A. Judgment on Russia Built on Swell of Evidence, NYT 12/11/16


Because the end game was to get Trump elected. Leak the Democratic emails, shame and smear the Clinton campaign, but hold on to the Republican emails to use as leverage later on, if the newly installed American leader doesn't behave the way Putin wants.

  • The list of Trump cabinet picks with political and/or financial ties to Russia is staggering


The mutual admiration between Trump's team and the Putin government can best be summed up by a December 13 Fortune magazine article headline:



I don't have the time or the insider knowledge to cover everything, but here is a list of some of the players and their Russian ties:

  1. Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson Currently CEO of Exxon-Mobile, Mr. Tillerson has zero foreign policy experience but so many financial ties to the Russian oil sector that Putin once awarded him the official Order of Friendship, the highest award the Russian government can give to a foreigner.
  2. Transition team member and cabinet pick adviser: Paul Manafort Mr. Manafort, who was Trump's campaign manager until he was asked to leave because of his scandalous ties to Russia, is now back in the picture and advising the transition team on cabinet picks, according to multiple sources. Manafort worked as a consultant for a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine, from whom he accepted cash payments totaling more than twelve million dollars.
  3. National Security Adviser: Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn Mr. Flynn has appeared on Russia's state-run television making statements about how the U.S. and Russian relationship needs mending. He also attending a gala dinner with Putin, and, while at the Defense Intelligence Agency, strongly advised President Obama to change his stance regarding Syrian President Assad. (To be sure, Mr. Flynn's ties to Russia don't seem to be as outlandish as Mr. Manafort's or Mr. Tillerson's. Keep in mind, though, that while the Secretary of State pick needs to be confirmed by the Senate, the National Security Adviser does not. Mr. Flynn's already got the job.)

Honorable mention: Former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page. Mr. Page is currently under investigation by the F.B.I. for "suspicion of illegal communication with Russian leaders." He was reportedly in Moscow last week to give a talk about U.S.-Russian relations, during which he reportedly leaked the name of Trump's pick for Secretary of State before Trump made the announcement here at home.

  • President-Elect Trump consistently belittles the work of the American intelligence community while he praises Putin's leadership


The above clip excerpted from the third presidential debate says all we need to know about the President-Elect's view of the American intelligence assessment of Russia's illegal involvement in our election.

Donald Trump is a threat to American security, American democracy, and American values. Patriots and all freedom-loving Americans MUST resist him.

The revolution will be tweeted! Follow me: @LiteraryGrrrl

UPDATE
February 11, 2017
Here is a non-comprehensive list of facts, rumors, and revelations that have been reported since the above post was published that further underscore the connection between DJT and Putin:


  1. On January 10 Buzzfeed published a dossier that, although unverified, purported to show evidence that the Russian government "has been 'cultivating, supporting, and assisting' President-Elect Donald Trump for years." Read the article (which has links to the full dossier) here. WARNING: the dossier contains (apparently) disgusting stories of Trump hiring hookers in Moscow for golden showers. So I've been told. I didn't read the full thing.
  2. Just a couple of weeks later, reports came out of Russia that spies involved in the leaking of the dossier were killed. Read about it here. The British spy who wrote the dossier took his family and went into hiding.
  3. During the transition period, President Obama placed additional sanctions on Russia in response to their hacking of our election. That very day, General Michael Flynn, Trump's pick for National Security Adviser, had several phone conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He claimed he was wishing the ambassador a merry Christmas. It has now come out that he was sending his assurances that the new president would likely lift the sanctions. Read about Flynn's activities here.  
  4. February 1, the same day that former Exxon CEO and recipient of Russia's Order of Friendship Rex Tillerson was confirmed as Secretary of State, a prominent Russian dissident was poisoned in Moscow. Read about it here. The timing was not a coincidence. This is the second time that dissident was poisoned by Putin's government. After the first time, the State Department intervened on his behalf. This is a test to see if Tillerson's state department will do that. (As of the writing of this update, February 11, no one in the Trump administration has said a word about the assassination attempt.)
  5. Yesterday, Putin reportedly made an offer to send Wikileaks founder Edward Snowden back to the U.S. as a gift to the Trump administration. Read about it here. Remember that Snowden is living in exile in Russia after leaking classified military information. Remember also that Wikileaks has been implicated in leaking DNC emails that were hacked by the Russian government in order to discredit Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and get Trump elected.

And this is where we now are. Trump has been president for less than a month. We have more than enough evidence to start an impeachment trial. COME ON GOP! YOU IMPEACHD CLINTON OVER A BLOWJOB. THIS IS BIGGER THAN THAT.