Category Archives: soapbox

A Week in Trump USA Part 1…

My high school choir Director, a brilliant artist and loving man, posted this on his Facebook page yesterday:

“Those who study authoritarian regimes suggest keeping a list of abnormal events after a demagogue is elected, as a way to remind yourself that this isn’t normal and to keep from being overwhelmed into acceptance by the onslaught of attacks on our rights.
Here is a list below. We are 4 days in. As one author says, “when you see all of this in one list, it is easy to get overwhelmed, at first– it is also easy to see a pattern and to finally, finally recognize that none of this is normal, nor is it ok.”

  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the DOJ’s Violence Against Women programs.
  •  On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Minority Business Development Agency.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Economic Development Administration.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the International Trade Administration.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Legal Services Corporation.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the DOJ.
    * On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
  • On January 19th, 2017, DT said that he would cut funding for the Office of Fossil Energy.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered all regulatory powers of all federal agencies frozen.
  • On January 20th, 2017, DT ordered the National Parks Service to stop using social media after RTing factual, side by side photos of the crowds for the 2009 and 2017 inaugurations.
  • On January 20th, 2017, roughly 230 protestors were arrested in DC and face unprecedented felony riot charges. Among them were legal observers, journalists, and medics.
  • On January 20th, 2017, a member of the International Workers of the World was shot in the stomach at an anti-fascist protest in Seattle. He remains in critical condition.
  • On January 21st, 2017, DT brought a group of 40 cheerleaders to a meeting with the CIA to cheer for him during a speech that consisted almost entirely of framing himself as the victim of dishonest press.
  • On January 21st, 2017, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held a press conference largely to attack the press for accurately reporting the size of attendance at the inaugural festivities, saying that the inauguration had the largest audience of any in history, “period.”
  • On January 22nd, 2017, White House advisor Kellyann Conway defended Spicer’s lies as “alternative facts” on national television news.
  • On January 22nd, 2017, DT appeared to blow a kiss to director James Comey during a meeting with the FBI, and then opened his arms in a gesture of strange, paternal affection, before hugging him with a pat on the back.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT reinstated the global gag order, which defunds international organizations that even mention abortion as a medical option.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, Spicer said that the US will not tolerate China’s expansion onto islands in the South China Sea, essentially threatening war with China.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, DT repeated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing him the popular vote.
  • On January 23rd, 2017, it was announced that the man who shot the anti-fascist protester in Seattle was released without charges, despite turning himself in.
  • On January 24th, 2017, Spicer reiterated the lie that 3-5 million people voted “illegally” thus costing DT the popular vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT tweeted a picture from his personal Twitter account of a photo he says depicts the crowd at his inauguration and will hang in the White House press room. The photo is of the 2009 inauguration of 44th President Barack Obama, and is curiously dated January 21st, 2017, the day AFTER the inauguration and the day of the Women’s March, the largest inauguration related protest in history.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the EPA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to freeze all grants and contracts.
  • On January 24th, 2017, the USDA was ordered to stop communicating with the public through social media or the press and to stop publishing any papers or research. All communication with the press would also have to be authorized and vetted by the White House.
  • On January 24th, 2017, HR7, a bill that would prohibit federal funding not only to abortion service providers, but to any insurance coverage, including Medicaid, that provides abortion coverage, went to the floor of the House for a vote.
  • On January 24th, 2017, Director of the Department of Health and Human Service nominee Tom Price characterized federal guidelines on transgender equality as “absurd.”
  • On January 24th, 2017, DT ordered the resumption of construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline, while the North Dakota state congress considers a bill that would legalize hitting and killing protestors with cars if they are on roadways.
  • On January 24th, 2017, it was discovered that police officers had used confiscated cell phones to search the emails and messages of the 230 demonstrators now facing felony riot charges for protesting on January 20th, including lawyers and journalists whose email accounts contain privileged information of clients and sources.”

Thank you to Mr. Taylor for the information.

In further news, after various government agencies were asked to stop reporting scientific information about the environment numerous alternative twitter feeds for these agencies popped up. I never imagined the National Parks Service would lead the revolution but ladies and gentlemen it certainly has. Follow these alternative feeds for publications about science that the Trump administration cannot stem:

Finally, are you looking for something to do to improve your mind? How about a little light reading courtesy of the Freedom of Information Act? Take a gander on over to the FOIA.Gov site and read through how to make a FOIA request. Since the Trump Administration has put a gag order into place I suggest we help these agencies out.

FOIA requests can cost some research time and reprinting costs however, you may request a waiver of fees. “Under the FOIA, fee waivers are limited to situations in which a requester can show that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.”

I would argue that requesting the release of scientific information gathered by our government on the status of our environmental health during a time when the Executive branch has restricted the release of any information falls quite clearing under the requirements for fee waivers.

 

Racism

Time for a soapbox moment.

Racism is still rife in our culture, and our politicians are showing our nation’s true colors more clearly than they have in years.

The Racial Politics of Speaking Well, by Lynette Clemetson, explains the insidious and pervasive racism that still permeates our culture as it relates to our country’s tendency to condescend and patronize successful African Americans. The article discusses Senator Joseph Biden’s use of the word “articulate” to describe Barack Obama.

Okay, his whole description was something more befitting a classical movie racist turned liberal, rather than a democratic presidential contender, the description being: “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”.

Hmmmm…. well who wouldn’t be flattered by such uh… glowing … praise?

“Hello, I am your fellow contender for the presidency, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School in 1991, was President of the Harvard Law Review, am a US Senator for Illinois, lectured at the University of Chicago, oh, and I’m black.”

“Well I am surprised! You are so clean, so nice looking, and you can TALK!!”

Sigh. Back to the focus of the article.

Why would a black man disdain being called articulate? Well, let’s begin with the definition of the word.

articulate adjective |ärˈtikyəlit| 1 (of a person or a person’s words) having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently : an articulate account of their experiences.

Okay, so the fellow democratic contender for the presidency finds Barack Obama to be capable of fluent and coherent speech.

In my opinion, Senator Biden is either a condescending ass-hat, or is inarticulate. (The irony!) If he intended to actually compliment his fellow presidential contender, he should have had the foresight to first open a dictionary. The following words are within the dictionary, and would be far more apt compliments to a good public speaker:

1. orator |ˈôrətər; ˈär-| noun a public speaker, esp. one who is eloquent or skilled.
2. rhetorician |ˌretəˈri sh ən| noun an expert in formal rhetoric. • a speaker whose words are primarily intended to impress or persuade.

Then Biden should have decided whether or not he really wanted to impugn years of African American history by calling Obama the first clean articulate black speaker. I do realize that our nation’s text books pay scant attention to non white contributors, but even so, the last time I opened a history book, there were many more Black Leaders with the ability to shower and capacity for speech.

The article is eloquent in expressing a problem faced by any non white male in our culture. Our culture, legally, legislatively, politically, and more, places white men as the norm. Therefore we compare all other people in our culture, consciously or unconsciously, to white men. Therefore white men are stereotyped as articulate, well dressed, presentable men. Black men are not stereotyped that way. When Senator Biden said Barack Obama was articulate, he meant, for a black guy.

Whew. That is offensive. I don’t know about you, but I have heard some black people who spoke with words powerful enough to bring down thunderous applause, who can craft speeches that are still taught and remembered today, whose words carried the power to lift your heart and mind to heaven and beyond. When Al Sharpton was speaking in the last presidential race, he brought me to tears, something none of the white speakers were able to do. (Especially not Bush.)

Barack Obama is not articulate. He is a masterful oratorical speaker. Joseph Biden is clearly neither articulate, nor is he a good orator. His remarks concerning Obama were condescending and eye opening. This culture is deeply wrong to still be surprised at a black man’s ability to express himself, and our denial of pervasive racism in this country is beyond naive.

I for one am embarrassed that Senator Biden should purport to speak for me.

PETA

How PETA engages in the objectification of women to advance it’s pro-animal goals…

My professor sent me this link yesterday, PETA’s State of the Union (Un)dress. It was interesting to watch, but more interesting to think about the goals of that organization and how they apparrently differ from the goals of many women. The clip is a woman giving a speech about PETA’s goals, while undressing in front of an American Flag while clips of clapping congressmen are spliced in.

There were several points Jay and I emailed over, the most disturbing being that he had sent this link to many men he knows and they were unable to tell him what the woman said while she was stripping, nor did any of them watch anything in the video after the stripping. Even my husband was hard pressed to remember anything beyond a few sentences. So why have a naked woman deliver your message if the only thing men will remember from the experience is the naked woman?

How does this help the plight of animals? There is unlikely to be an increase of PETA members who are interested in assisting in changing the treatment of animals now that they have seen a naked woman talk about it, if none of the target audience can remember what in the heck she was talking about while she removed her business suit.

Further, this message is another in a long line of advertisements that supports objectifying women. WHO CARES if it’s for a good cause?? Should we smile and nod and say, okay, you can use women’s bodies to sell sex if the profits of said sales are going to “Save the Children” or NARAL?

The very fact that the men who watched this video said they never paid attention to the actual message indicates how poorly physical objectification helps causes. The only thing PETA has managed to do with this message is put another naked female body on the internet.

It would be nice if they could find another way to get our attention.