Absolute Loyalty is Destroying America

Congressman acting as though they are employees or loyal servants to the president is not the way America should be.  It just isn’t. Doing whatever it takes to stay in power is not what the framers had in mind. What they are supposed to do, among many other things, is a) represent the people b) protect the United States from enemies foreign and domestic and c) serve as a check on the executive branch.  They are failing spectacularly at executing these duties!

Some prime examples of Congressman that epitomize absolute loyalty are:

I could go on and on.  I’m tired of watching them ignore testimony/evidence that the president is actively trying to impact our 2020 election and just looking for any tiny hole they can exploit.  I’m tired of watching them continue to push ‘false narratives’ when they know full well that they aren’t true.  I’m sickened by how mean and vindictive they are, not only the witnesses that came in to testify, but to the Chairman and everyone else that doesn’t agree with them.  Claiming there’s no evidence and then defending the White House for withholding evidence is nonsensical. The constant whataboutism is driving me mad! Arguing that we should let the election decide is crazy because Trump is actively trying impact the results of that election.  Of course, there’s no end to this is sight.    

This is clearly all about power.

Impeachment is about presidential behavior/action, but the behavior/actions of our Congressman are just as consequential in this moment.  Willful ignorance has become par for the course and it’s not because they don’t know better. It’s because they are fearful that if they break from the president they will lose their seat in Congress.  It’s as simple as that. They don’t care about the people, America’s values or protecting our elections. They care about staying in power.  

Just think about how quickly defenses of Trump have evolved:
  • It was a perfect call
  • No quid pro quo
  • Not a corrupt quid pro quo
  • This happens all the time
  • Trump didn’t know
  • Whistleblower complaint is hearsay, inaccurate, politically biased, deep state, etc
  • Process is bad
  • Democrats are out to get Trump
  • Ukraine didn’t know about the held up aid
  • Ukraine didn’t comply with requests
  • The media made it all up
  • Ukraine has the server

This was over the course of just a few weeks!  These are not principled people. Changing their view/argument changes as quickly as the political winds.  Retaining power and relevance is the main objective. This is not what public service is supposed to look like.  Not at all. 

Just a reminder, you work for the people.   

Some might argue that these people are representing their constituents.  Many polls show that in the swing states there isn’t a lot of support for impeachment.  Now, politicians use polls very selectively. We all know that because polling for gun control is just about the only issue that most people agree on.  We also know that is ignored on a constant basis. However, impeachment polls are watched incessantly and always cited by people defending the president.  I would argue that Reps/Senators should take most polls with a grain of salt.  

Most people do not have time to: 

  • Study every issue 
  • Take time to think about the implications for society 
  • Talk to/question experts in the field
  • Receive classified information
  • Field calls from fellow constituents
  • Fully immerse themselves in public service
  • Hold regular town halls
  • Employ staff devoted to reading all relevant studies, becoming experts in public policy 

I believe the people’s job is to elect principled people they believe with do all of the things listed above, come to thoughtful, reasonable conclusions and make decisions with their constituents in mind.  It is not the job of the people to do all the things listed above. By casting our vote, we are ‘hiring’ and paying a representative to devote themselves to these things. Electing a person is giving the people’s consent to use their best judgment when it comes to policy making.  So, I find it really frustrating when elected officials base their decisions solely on polling. Also, have you ever been polled? Yeah, me neither.

Now is the time to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic.

Matters of national security and foreign policy should crush all political calculations in a perfect world.  It should be, as Fiona Hill would say, ‘nonpartizan’ (I just loved how she pronounced that!). Both Marie Yovanovitch and Fiona spoke extensively about the importance of putting US national security above our partisan whims.  There are enemies that are at work that the US needs protection from. Here are a few that they, and all the witnesses, testified about: 

  • Actively trying to impact 2020 election 
  • Propagating the conspiracy theory that Ukraine was actually behind the 2016 hack on the DNC undermining American trust in our law enforcement/intelligence community/government institutions 
  • Occupying 7% of Ukrainian sovereign territory violating international law 
  • Currently engaged in a hot war with Ukraine
Rudy Giuliani:
  • Working with corrupt Ukrainians to dig up dirt on American citizens
  • Smearing a sitting ambassador to the point of removal
  • Putting financial interests ahead of US interests
  • Conducting shadow foreign policy undermining the official State Department policy
  • Working closely with now indicted Americans to help further his interests
Donald Trump:
  • Directed Americans to work with Rudy
  • Asked President Zelensky to investigate Crowdstrike and the Bidens
  • Ordered security assistance to be withheld from Ukraine
  • Canceled Pence’s trip to inauguration
  • Withheld White House meeting
  • Stayed in contact with Sondland to get updates on pressure campaign
  • Removed ambassador fighting corruption
  • Blocked all testimony/documents from State Department/Executive Branch 
Other key Americans:
  • Mike Pence
  • Gordon Sondland
  • Mike Pompeo
  • Mick Mulvaney
  • Rick Perry
  • Kurt Volker
  • Donald Trump Jr.

These are just the foreign and domestic enemies that we know about.  Instead of looking at the facts of the case, Republicans are muddying the waters, blaming the Democrats, blaming the Obama administration, the whistleblower and anyone else they can think of.  They are supposed to be protecting our country. They are supposed to be upholding the rule of law. Instead, power and prestige are the only things that they care about. Protecting the president is the only thing they are willing to do. 

Republicans in Congress, you have the power you lust after. Use it.  

Honestly, I find it super embarrassing that these Republican Congressmen are letting the president bully them into submission.  They have just as much power as he does. The constitution says so! There have been numerous reports about Republicans admitting what an obstacle this president is and how much they dislike him so I don’t understand why they don’t take this opportunity to rid themselves of him.  Why don’t they get together with their buddies at Fox News and begin a campaign to remove this guy?  Surely one of them would love to take his place. 

Here’s my advice for you Republicans which, to me, seems so obvious if you want to continue your disgusting corruption:
  • Demand all witnesses testify 
  • demand the documents 
  • demand Trump put forth evidence that exonerates him
  • Start calling out Trump’s lies  
  • Use the damning evidence to create a path for one of you to take the presidency in 2020  
  • Use the evidence to change public sentiment through the Fox News machine
  • Hold up one of your own as being the hero for America
  • Portray your party as the one that protected US
  • Staff ‘smart’ criminals instead of amateurs to help you shake down foreign governments
  • Highlight all your cronies that helped oust a corrupt president
  • Win the election 
  • Appoint said cronies to all cabinet positions
  • Act respectable in front of cameras
  • Stop mean tweeting
  • Continue your corruption with the blessing of the American people 

For people who care about power so much I’m shocked that they don’t use the power that they possess to deploy a plan like this.  Their cowardice is shocking, even in this Trump Era we find ourselves living through. Use your power you fight so hard to keep.  Check this president. The assumption that the only path to survival is defending Trump might be a false one.

It’s up to us.  

Elections matter.  If the Democrats didn’t take the House in 2018, the American public would have no idea the level of corruption of this administration.  It’s obvious that many of our elected officials have abandoned their duties. We must not do the same. The rest of us must focus on doing our duty as citizens. 

Electing candidates that represent our values, use thoughtful reasoning to make decisions and care about society as a whole is absolutely critical in our endeavor to protect America.  We must win this election, but we are not going to do it by tearing each other down. The Republicans want us to do that. Let’s work hard over the next year to inspire nonvoters to register, rally behind our Democratic candidate and to show our neighbors what Democratic values are all about. 

The Whistleblower Story: What is going on?

This whistleblower story has captured my full attention and my curiosity like no story since Jeffery Epstein.  Here are just a few details:

  • A complaint deemed “credible and urgent” by the IG
  • DNI’s refusal to share it with Congress 
  • Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee accusing leaders of breaking the law
  • A letter that states Executive Branch involvement
  • Hearings scheduled
  • A promise made to a foreign leader

There are so many moving parts! The trouble with a story like this is it loses its impact if someone doesn’t know a lot about how the government works.  Who are the players? Who answers to who? Let’s clear things up a little.

What is the whistleblower law? 

The Intelligence Community Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (ICWPA) establishing a pathway for people working in the intelligence agency to file a complaint without disclosing classified information to the public. Here are some details to know:

  1. Whistleblower files complaint with Intelligence Community Inspector General (IG)
  2. IG has 14 days to determine whether the complaint is of ‘urgent concern’ and is credible
  3. IG hands the full complaint along with his determination over to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) 
  4. DNI then hands the complaint over to the House Intelligence Committee with any comments he chooses to add within 7 days of receiving.
  5. House Intelligence Committee resolves the issue

It seems as though the first 3 steps were followed with regard to this whistleblower.  Step 4 is when it starts to get fishy.  

What is an inspector general? (IC IG – Michael Atkinson)

Michael Atkinson, current IG for the intel community, is due to testify to Congress today

An IG is an internal watchdog that functions kind of like an HR department or internal affairs department at a police department.  There are 72 IG offices in the federal government. Their job is to carry out audits and investigations to promote efficiency and to prevent/detect fraud or abuse within a department.

What is the Director of National Intelligence? (DNI – Joseph Maguire)

Joseph Maguire, current acting DNI, has refused to hand over complaint deemed urgent

The DNI is a position that was created after the September 11th when it was determined that there needs to be more coordination between the 17 intelligence agencies. It oversees all intelligence agencies including the CIA and NSA.  This position directly reports to the President of the United States.

Joseph Maguire, acting DNI, received the complaint and issued a letter to Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, telling him he’s not handing it over.  Schiff’s response,

“The DNI acknowledged that this involves someone apparently outside of the authority of the DNI. Someone above the DNI — there aren’t that many in that category. And they also suggested that there may be privilege issues here, which means that it would have to involve communications of the President or people around him.”

It has since come out that the complaint involves a ‘promise’ President Trump made to a foreign leader.

What is the House Intelligence Committee? (Chairman Adam Schiff D – California)

Adam Schiff, Chairman of House Intel Committee, demands full complaint be handed over.

The House Intel Committee (HPSCI) is a group of elected members of the House of Representatives that are in charge of overseeing the 17 intelligence agencies.  The leader, or Chairmen of the committee, decides what issues to investigate, when to issue subpoenas and when to hold people accountable. The Committee is a mix of Democrats and Republicans.  The Chairman will always be a member of the majority party. 

Adam Schiff has issued a subpoena for the DNI to hand over all related materials with respect to the complaint that was made.  It seems as though no one is going to comply with it.

Keeping the details straight about how the government is suppose to work will help as more details come out.  This complaint is yet another example of how Trump can’t be trusted and has no business being President.  Everyone please register to vote and let’s get him out of there in 2020!

Concentration Camps Exist in America

AOC has recently taken a lot of heat after calling the detention centers at the border concentration camps.  Critics from both sides of the aisle say that the use of the term is extreme and makes a very unfair comparison to the death camps of Auschwitz.  So, is it an unfair comparison? In my view, the answer is no.

These detention centers are detaining people seeking asylum and taking their children.  The kids are forced to endure cold temperatures, lights on around the clock, filthy conditions, inadequate food and water with little to no contact with lawyers or relatives.  This is torture.  The US is torturing innocent children.  

Children are forced to care for toddlers/infants and pack limited supplies for incoming separated kids.  Illness is common due to overcrowding, moldy bathrooms and spoiled food. Kids have no diapers, soap, toothpaste or clean clothes.  Guards wear face masks to protect themselves from the unsanitary conditions.  Concerned US citizens have tried to donate supplies to the suffering children only to be turned away.  

This is all horrible, but is it a concentration camp?  Well, let’s start with the definition:

A place where large numbers of people, especially political prisoners or members of persecuted minorities, are deliberately imprisoned, for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment,  in a relatively small area with inadequate facilities, sometimes to provide forced labor or to await mass execution. Persons are placed in such camps often on the basis of identification with a particular ethnic or political group rather than as individuals and without benefit either of indictment or fair trial

Now, here are all the examples that prove that this situation at the border is in fact America running concentration camps. 

A place where large numbers of people are held in a relatively small area? Check.

The Homeland Security inspector general has found “dangerous overcrowding” at a CPB facility in El Paso, Texas.900 people were found in this facility when the capacity is only 125!  People were forced to be in standing-room-only conditions for weeks!  Can you imagine? We don’t treat our dogs like this.. 

Cells designed for 35 occupants are holding 155 people.  80,000 people are currently in custody with more coming everyday.  The requests for more detention space made by Border Patrol get denied by the government, the agencies continue to detain noncriminals and there’s constant miscommunication between HHS, CPB, DHS and ICE causing many to be held longer than legally allowed.  Unbelievable.

The detained are often members of a persecuted minority?  Check.

Trump, Fox News and some employees of border agencies constantly dehumanize these asylum seekers.  There are countless examples of Trump trashing immigrants on his twitter.  We all watch him call them animals, rapists, bad hombres along with language like people crossing the border is like an infestation of our country.  There’s no question that he doesn’t care one bit about the well being of the people at the border.

Fox News recently had a segment that argued that these kids aren’t our kids trying to downplay what is happening to human beings at the hands of this government.  Seriously? A kid is a kid no matter where they are from! Innocent little souls that have no choice in this matter whatsoever.  The only reason they say these things is to make migrants seems like human or less valuable so Trump supporters will support these horrible policies.  Sadly, this strategy seems highly effective.

Right wing websites and media take every opportunity they can to paint immigrants in a terrible light.  We’ve all seen it. Accusations of migrants carrying deadly disease into the country, taking our jobs, mooching off the system, murdering innocent women and the like.  Viral videos zoom around social media of people yelling go back to your country or chanting build a wall at people of color.  It’s so discouraging to see.

There are many examples of border agents and other employees of the government treating people under their care with cruelty.  Remember the audio of the agent making fun of the crying children after their parents were removed?  Or how about the agent that mowed down a man with a government truck?  Text message exchanges between agents reveal a disturbing culture among the people charged with caring for migrants.  “Fucking beaners”, “guats” and “subhuman shit” are just a few terms that are commonly used. 

Wow… these are the people we are trusting to care for immigrants?  It makes me sick.

People are detained for reasons of state security, exploitation or punishment?  Check.

The Trump Administration is constantly citing national security as a justification for ‘cracking down’ on migrants.

  • State Security: Do I even need to explain?  How many times have we heard that Trump is the only guy that wants to keep Americans safe from rapists (except if it’s him), drugs, MS-13 and the rest?  Close the border then! Keep America safe!  It’s the entire premise behind building that wall.
  • Exploitation: There are numerous reports of sexual abuse and assault within these facilities.  People in power preying on those that have no protection, no support and no way to get justice is the definition of exploitation in my view.  Based on the culture among the agents highlighted in my last point, I assume there are agents that detain vulnerable potential victims or work to hide their misconduct.
  • Punishment:  Jeff Sessions said that zero tolerance would be used as a deterrent.  In other words, if you cross the border you will be punished. Also, as highlighted in the latest IG report, agents routinely punish people by withholding rec time, segregating them from others and using restraints without holding the required hearings before punishments are used.

Detained with inadequate facilities?  Check.

The Office of Inspector General found “immediate risks or egregious violations of detention standards at facilities.”  They did unannounced inspections at 4 facilities.  Here is what they found:

  • Spoiled, moldy and expired food in kitchens
  • Thawing meat with no indication of how long it had been sitting out
  • “At Essex, the food handling in general was so substandard that ICE and facility leadership had the kitchen manager replaced during our inspection”
  • Raw chicken leaked blood all over refrigerator
  • Outdoor space unavailable at 2 facilities (no fresh air or direct sunlight)
  • Bathrooms in poor condition
    • Mold in walls, ceiling, vents, mirrors and shower stalls
    • Peeling paint on walls, floors and showers
    • Unusable toilets
  • Improper sizes of clothing given and never replaced (3X and 4X only)
  • No underwear in stock
  • No shampoo or lotion given
  • Required detainees to purchase toiletries at commissary

And this inspection didn’t include the Texas facility that all those lawyers went to!  In addition to the IG’s findings, there have been multiple reports of no showers, no beds, no blankets, no diapers, no clothes, no soap, no toothbrushes, served frozen food, inadequate water, no contact with the outside, no medical care and no idea what is going on.  

Detainees sometimes provide forced labor?  Check.

The children are caring for the toddlers/infants.

Any parent knows how much work it is to care for infants and toddlers.  Most days I can’t wait to get in bed after spending the day with my two little ones.  Caring for children is hard even when you have diapers, beds, food, activities, tv and everything else.  My love I feel for my own children also helps get me through the hardest moments. I’m capable, 33 years old and have all the support I need.  Child rearing still breaks me fairly regularly.

Now, imagine a 7 or 8 year old child being forced to care for a child that they don’t know, that is sick, hungry, sleep deprived, dirty, relieving themselves with no diaper, snot stained clothing, confused, clingy and crying all the time with little to no adult support.  Even the strongest of adults couldn’t deal with this situation.  Lawyers interviewing the children reported some children falling asleep during the interview due to exhaustion from caring for one another.  Forced labor happening right before our eyes. 

People detained without proper indictment or fair trial?  Check.

Do asylum seekers and people detained by ICE get their day in court?  Eventually, but the average stay for asylum seekers in a detention facility is 102 days. Then, they wait another 577 days for their case to reach an immigration court. So, all this happens before a judicial proceeding:

  • Immediately detained 
  • The children are removed 
  • Remain in custody for 102 days where they must endure conditions akin to torture
  • Released with little support and perhaps an ankle bracelet
  • Track down their children without help from the government
  • Attempt to repair the trauma inflicted on themselves and their children (if they were able to find them)
  • Live in fear of ICE for roughly two years while waiting for the courts
  • Endure citizens/President treating you like subhuman for roughly two years
  • Can’t legally work

Plus, how fair are these court proceedings?  I’ve seen clips of two year olds facing the judge by themselves!  I’ve read of agents giving ultimatums to parents forcing them to sign their own deportation documents to get their children back before they are able to face a judge.  The government destroys families and makes it impossible for them to advocate for themselves.  This isn’t what America is supposed to be.

By definition, concentration camps are alive and well in America.  This should make every person in this country outraged and uncomfortable.  Don’t look away. The course of this nation is in our hands.  Stay informed, keep the pressure on and most importantly cast a vote against Trump in the next election.  It may be the only thing we can do for these little ones now.

Whatever Happened to Love Thy Neighbor?

Being a stay-at-home mom comes with challenges, many of them I write about. One of the greatest things about being around kids all the time is that it’s really easy to remember right from wrong. All day long I am teaching my kids about how to ask nicely, be respectful, be nice to everybody, don’t hit, share and take turns. One of the main things that Oliver is working on in therapy is listening to other kids’ ideas. He has trouble playing with other kids sometimes because he is so fixated on his stuff that he doesn’t want to do anything else. Max, bless his little heart, is used to letting Oliver lead the way when they are playing. Because of this dynamic, Oliver has a hard time understanding that other kids like to do different stuff than him.

For example, we had some girls over and they wanted to play house. He wanted to play baby Yoshi’s egg, which is the name he’s given a game where he hides under a blanket and you have to wake him up. The girls didn’t want to do that so he ran away crying. He kept trying to change their minds about the game with no luck. Of course, in the moment, the whole situation broke my heart. I was thinking, come on girls! Just play Yoshi’s egg! It kills me to watch him struggle to interact, but it also gets me thinking about bigger things. Learning that other people are different is an invaluable skill to have in the long run. Other people think about things differently, have different interests and different needs. Luckily my kids are learning at a very young age that it’s important to be flexible and kind when you are dealing with others, even when you want to do something else.

Now, I was also watching my niece and nephew this week which made kid life all consuming. I didn’t get much time to follow the news, read or listen to my pods. I was pretty much disconnected from everything Trump for about 5 days aside from reading a few headlines. Yesterday I got back on my routine. The juxtaposition of all things kid to Washington politics was unbelievable. I don’t realize how desensitized I become to all the BS that happens on a daily basis. The purity of little kids makes the behavior of adults look so disgusting I can’t believe my eyes.

For starters, a top official of HHS ( Health and Human Services) said that he warned the Trump administration that the zero tolerance policy would have lasting psychological effects on children. Here is a quote from Commander Jonathon D. White of HHS:

“[the HHS officials were worried] about any policy which would result in family separation due to concerns we had about the best interests of the child.”

“There’s no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child.”

The White House then responded to the department with “there was no policy which would result in separation of children from family units.” That was a flat lie. There have been multiple times the administration has said the policy was to deter immigrants. That, to me, means that they knew they would hurt people and that was the intention. They wanted to hurt these people so they would run home and tell people not to come so the same wouldn’t happen to them. They lied about it so the department wouldn’t stop them. What happened along the way that made us forget what we teach our kids? You’re not suppose to purposefully hurt other people or lie? Whatever happened to the ‘Golden Rule’ or ‘Love Thy Neighbor’? This was such a blaring example of how we, collectively, have lost our way.

I had a twitter hater message me about how we don’t share the same ideals and told me I was clueless. He tagged a post I made about Oliver and wishing that people would be more empathetic. I was so confused. What are your ideals then? The opposite of mine? What’s the opposite of empathy? Hatred? Indifference? Can someone really hold those values? If my sons dismissed another person for their special needs I would truly be so disappointed and feel like a total failure as a mom.

Another example that just killed me was at Trump Florida rally. There has been a video circulating on Twitter of a crowd taunting, swearing at, flipping off and screaming at a journalist that was covering the event. I am floored that grown people think this is ok. I understand disagreeing with one another, but calling for the eradication of the other side blows my mind. I just couldn’t believe my eyes. I look at my kids and look at this angry mob and think to myself, when did this happen? How do we get back to being on the same team? That’s one of the things that is most disturbing to me about living in a red state. Would people around here do the same thing? I don’t know to be honest. I feel helpless. All I can do is teach my kids that this isn’t ok. Hopefully they take my word for it because it seems like there are plenty of people out there that will tell them the complete opposite.

There’s hope of course. Trump broke Washington. In a way, he’s breaking us all. He’s shining a light on all the problems we have in society and in politics. He didn’t invent any of these problems, he just gives us permission to act on our worst instincts. He’s making us confront things that we haven’t had to confront, at least in my lifetime. He’s making us take a side. He’s forcing us to figure out who we really are. There are so many good candidates running for office now that I think there might be a brighter future. We just have to make it through this period of time. It’s always darkest before the dawn, right? Good has to win. It has to. Good will only win if people get out to vote in this upcoming election and every single one going forward. Most people are good. I have to believe that.

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Be Bold! Or Not. There’s Room for Both.

There seems to be a steady drumbeat of headlines warning democrats not to drift too far to the left. Fears of isolating moderates is cited as the primary reason for holding the center. This debate reminds me of a conversation I had with my dad a couple years ago.

I was dating someone (the person before I met my delightful husband lol) and we had just decided to become exclusive. Now, this person had an ex that was still in love with him. He made time for her and insisted that I couldn’t be part of it because it would hurt her feelings. For me, this felt like we were not exclusive. I was complaining to my dad about the the situation and I was coming up with solutions we could all live with. “ Maybe he could see her once a week,” I would say. “Maybe he can only hang out with her in group settings.”

My dad was listening to me negotiate with myself without much to add. Finally, I asked him what he thought about it. He told me if you come to the table with the solution that you’ve negotiated with yourself then, for sure, you won’t get what you want and you will likely agree to something you think is completely unacceptable. It stopped me in my tracks. He asked me what do you really want? Do you really want the person you’re dating to see another woman once a week? Do you really want another person to have the power to put boundaries around your relationship?

Clearly the answer was no to both these questions. What I wanted was for him to tell her that he’s dating someone else now and that their relationship was over. Sure that sounded bold and he might reject it, but that’s exactly what I wanted. If I was going to compromise, I should enter the negotiation with exactly what I want even though I truly believed I wouldn’t get it. If I started the negotiation with a position that was already watered down then I was bound to be pushed further than I would like to go. There’s also the off chance that by starting with what I wanted, I might just get it.

This conversation with my dad is so similar to the debate that is going on the in the democratic party right now. While I understand the fear of moving to the left, I think it’s time for democrats to be bold, to say what they we think, even if the chances of that happening once in office is low. We must come to the table with uncompromised positions. The compromising happens after you take office.

A campaign needs to be easy to understand. Trump proved to us that quick, digestible positions make a big impact. Build a Wall! Repeal and Replace! Of course these positions would have to be watered down in office, but the bones of what was constantly chanted run through the administration to this day. Why can’t dems do the same? Healthcare for All!, which can mean repairing the ACA, moving to a Medicare for all system or anything in between. Education For All!, which can mean more funding for public schools, free college tuition or anything in between. Justice For All!, can mean comprehensive criminal justice reform, protecting illegal immigrants rights or anything in between.

Sure, each of these things are complicated and will take multiple steps to achieve, but the bones are there. The country is so diverse. Every candidate should feel free to say exactly what they believe will help the constituents they are trying to represent. 2016 turned us on our heads and it’s time to try something new. The risk/reward is in democrats favor. We should run like we have nothing to lose. It’s gonna range from screaming Abolish Ice in California to pro-gun liberals in Pennsylvania and we have to be ok with that. I love that people are deciding to run on strong progressive positions. Fear of being ‘too left’ has lead us to this point and it’s time to think outside the box. We need to move forward unafraid of what the other side will say because the other side is ever ready to twist anything democrats say no matter how moderate the position. We should just go for it!

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How Did We Get Here?

After a few days offline and a few days of analysis paralysis, the big resounding thought in my head is how did we get here? The bigger one that comes after is how are we going to recover? The latter question is the one that scares me more than anything Trump can really do. Seems strange to feel that, but I have plenty of proof in my own life as to why I feel that way. It all goes back to the beginning.

What it’s like being raised by a pathological liar.

When I look back on my upbringing I can’t help but think of a huge pool of muddy water. Thick, slimy muddy water. When I look closely, I can see me and my other siblings lurking around underneath the surface. Every once in while, one of us comes to the surface for a much needed breath. Passersby look down and wonder what on earth are they doing? Don’t they see they are swimming in disgusting water?

What the people don’t see, behind the pool, hidden in the maintenance closet, is our mother filling bucket after bucket of muck and mire. Anytime any one of us finds our way to the surface, finds any clarity, she is ready to pour more mud. As she pours she tells us not to worry. I love you, I’m protecting you, the only person you can trust is me. How do these 5 people accept this? How come they don’t just see what’s happening to them? It’s because it didn’t happen overnight.

It took time, effort, persistence, cruelty and gaslighting.

Back when I was young and the water was clear I loved my mom. Just like every other kid, I trusted her. Admired her even. Anything she would say I took as truth. So, when she began telling me that I was too shy to make friends, I believed her. When she would tell me don’t even bother, people won’t like someone like you anyway, I believed her. When she told me that her husband is just a touchy guy and my discomfort was silly, I believed her.

Slowly, she started putting little tablespoons of mud into the pool with me. With each little lie, another tablespoon. When I was a little older, middle school age, I started to see some things that were confusing. I had some friends. They seemed to like me. I was good at basketball. The coaches seemed to think I had potential. I was sitting in health class in 8th grade when I realized that my relationship with my stepdad wasn’t normal. Maybe she was wrong all along. Maybe I am smart, athletic and funny.

Then, I didn’t get asked to dance at the first after school dance. I came home crying to my mom. In that moment of vulnerability, my mother told me, ‘see, I told you. Nobody likes you. You’re too shy to make friends. You’re best off here where nobody can hurt you.’ And, like most kids, I believed her.

By this time, the water was murky. It was hard to tell what was true and what was false. We would go back and forth between my mom and dad’s house. Life was so starkly different between the two. My dad was predictable, consistent. After a couple days of being there I could start to see the harm my mother was doing.

I would go back to her, try to call her out on her lies and deception only to be gaslighted and confused again. Enormous fights would erupt after she pitted me and my siblings against each other. I would always be the first to cry. She would turn to me and call me weak. She would taunt me, ‘awwww, you gonna cry now? Is Sarah just too sensitive to deal with her life?’ At the end she would hug and comfort me.

It’s confusing to want comfort from the thing that hurts you, but I did. I grew up paranoid that something bad was going to happen at any time. I was afraid of being stabbed in the back by my siblings. I had to keep my guard up to make sure my ‘weaknesses’ weren’t used against me. I became desensitized to sex and privacy to get through my days. The only thing she could think about was herself and it didn’t matter what happened or who got hurt as long as she came out ok. After years of emotional and sexual abuse, pathological lying and deception, I couldn’t tell up from down. I couldn’t see that I was swimming in a pool full of slime.

How was I going to overcome this situation?

My solution was to escape and never look back. I got married young, moved out and tried to pick up the pieces. I was still in a muddy pool. I still don’t know up from down. The only thing that has changed is the person filling the pool is gone. What do I do with the mess that is left? First I had to drain the pool. That takes time. Years of counseling to try to sort out what parts of my life were a complete lie and what parts were real. Great, the water is gone. I looked down and saw that I was still covered in the filth that was left behind. How do you clean that off?

With counseling, a lot of guessing and checking (HUGE mistakes) and time (10 years!), I was able to figure out basics like right from wrong, how to hold a job and to trust other people. The road to recovery was almost harder than living through the deception and abuse. It took constant effort to change my worldview. The crazy thing about recovery is it’s never finished. Every once in a while I will still find some dirt left behind that needs cleaning.

The country is going through the same thing with Trump.

Oddly, the experience with the Trump administration feels very similar to this period of time for me with one major difference. This time I am a passerby. I look into the cesspool of all things Trump and think how does anyone believe this guy? How can he gaslight so shamelessly and people just fall in line? How does he have so many people hoodwinked that we are abandoning basic principles like ‘be nice to one another’? The parallels between my mother and Trump are uncanny.

Here are a few examples:

  • pathological liar
  • incapable of feeling empathy
  • fosters an environment paranoia amongst people close to him
  • over sexualizes his own daughter
  • disrespects women
  • taunts and bullies people he views as weak
  • spends most of his time convincing his followers that the only person that can be trusted is him

He does this by design. At this point, he could shoot someone on 5th Ave. He’s got a pool with half of America in it and he’s the one muddying the water. Lucky for us presidents come and go. My fear is that when his reign is over and the water drains, what will we be left with? How much time will it take to recover? Who is the person that is capable of dealing with the filthy aftermath? If the recovery is going to be worse than the damage, we are at the tip of a very ugly iceberg. Hopefully I’m wrong.

Zero Tolerance? It’s More Like Cruel and Unusual

I can’t believe this is real. I can’t believe we’ve reached a point of such moral bankruptcy. Innocent children, as young as 8 months old, are being torn from their parents at the border. This is the kind of thing you read about in history books or about oppressive regimes in some distant country. We are a country of law and order along with Iran, Russia and North Korea.

The thing that makes America different is our humanity. We are supposed to be a country of refuge. ‘Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ When did we lose sight of this? I look at my kids and see their innocence. I would do anything to protect them. I see these kids at the border in cages, crying while border agents make jokes about them. This cruel heartless policy is keeping me up at night. I’ve been forcing myself to look beyond the emotion I’m feeling to think of other things we could do to solve this immigration problem.

The first thing that I have to point out is that it is not illegal to cross the border seeking asylum. It is perfectly legal to go to a port of entry or present yourself to a border agent and request asylum. At this point a person or family is interviewed and turned over to Health and Human Services to be detained, given to family members or sponsored by an American family. They then have to prove their case in immigration court. The asylum seekers are allowed to reside legally in the US until the courts reach a decision in their case. If they are granted the asylum status, they have a path to citizenship that takes years. If they are denied they are returned to the country of origin. In order to start this process a person must be on American soil which is one of the reasons people cross the border.

(This is a very simple description of the asylum process. There’s more information here

https://www.americanimmigrationcouncil.org/research/asylum-united-states )

Here are a few things that we could do to deal with the immigration problem instead of traumatizing children for an adults transgressions:

If these people must be detained, detain them together. There is no reason to separate the families except to be cruel. It’s just as simple as that.

Building a wall is a stone age solution to a modern problem. The people walking across the border are fleeing violence, persecution or political oppression. Building a wall would put an obstacle in front of the most vulnerable group of people. Drones is a cheaper way to detect border crossings making it easier for asylum seekers and border agents to address the issue.

The majority of noncitizens in the US are people that have overstayed their work, school or vacation permits. The US doesn’t have a system in place that keeps track of expired visas. We could start by getting an agency that is in charge of registering/reregistering work permits. We could have a system that checks in with people as their permit nears expiration and make determinations about which permits to extend which would hold people accountable to their permit.

There are plenty of companies that knowingly and willingly employ non citizens. By doing this we create a culture that doesn’t require people to go through the proper channels. Companies pay under the table or pay them less so it works out for them. It’s time to stop having it both ways. We can’t constantly berate people for crossing the border to find work and say nothing about the people who employ them. If we’re really gonna talk about ‘zero tolerance’ the companies must be punished too.

I’m sure there are many other solutions that can be explored and this is the reason I am totally ashamed of the policy at the border. Instead of looking for real solutions we are criminalizing already traumatized people. This is one of the many things that makes me feel extremely urgent about this upcoming election. We need people that are willing to find consensus with one another to solve the very real problems that face our country.

3 Things to Know About the G7

There’s been so much news about President Trump causing trouble at the G7 Summit this weekend. He made some passing remarks to reporters about Russia being invited and some other stuff. But what is the G7 exactly? Here’s 3 things to know:

  • The Group of Seven (G7) are the countries with the most advanced economies and strongest democracies.

They include the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom. The G7 makes up 62% of the total global economy.

  • The G7 countries are America’s closest friends and allies.

Operating with similar guiding principles creates strong relationships between these countries especially over time. These summits are essentially rubbing shoulders with your dear friends for 70 or so years.

  • The point of the G7 Summit is to strategize on how to work together on global issues.

HIstorically, the meeting is about getting on the same page on current issues like climate change, refugee crises, national security issues and addressing human rights abuses throughout the globe. It’s generally smooth sailing due to the like-mindedness of the leaders. Issues are easier to iron out among each other because the basic fundamental values are quite similar between them all. So, they meet and release a statement, also called a communique, laying out an agreed upon path forward on whatever issues were discussed and how they are going to work together.

The G7 Summit in 2018 didn’t go quite as it does normally. The leaders butt heads with President Trump. They talked about trade due to the new tariffs placed on them by him. The US cited national security issues as the reason for the new tariffs which, as you can imagine, rubbed the Canadian president, Justin Trudeau, the wrong way. So, long story short, Trump didn’t sign the statement and called Trudeau weak and dishonest on Twitter.

On top of it all, he said Russia should be allowed into the summit in his Trumpian way, repetitive language, no logical reasons why randomly to reporters. He didn’t mention it when he was face to face with the other leaders which is also just like Trump. He talks loud and carries a small stick. He left the summit early to go to Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong Un. I can’t barely wait to see what happens.

Twitter Probs

I started following Trump on Twitter last year because I was curious how many times he tweets compared to how many times his tweets make news. At first I was shocked at the volume, but now I rarely stop to open a tweet from him. One of the main reasons is because he lies a lot in them. He lies or he is misleading or he’s name calling. He quotes Fox and Friends and talks crap on other media outlets. He never misses an opportunity to disparage our government institutions. That is why I was shocked when a dear friend texted and said their favorite thing about Trump is the fact that he uses Twitter. He said he bypasses the media therefore we get all the facts directly from him. That would be great if Trump wasn’t constantly lying. I’ll put the bullying aside and just focus on the ‘facts’ that Trump dropped today in one of his tweets.

“Looks like Jerry Brown and California are not looking for safety and security along their very porous Border. He cannot come to terms for the National Guard to patrol and protect the Border. The high crime rate will only get higher. Much wanted Wall in San Diego already started!”

Now, right off the bat, saying the Governor of California is not looking for safety and security seems wrong. Gut feeling maybe. Jerry Brown has already committed 400 troops to the effort of combating transnational crime. He currently has 250 troops working on this, 55 of them at the border. The number of troops being sent to the border is still being discussed at the Department of Homeland Security. Brown is working with all appropriate departments to get the troops down there and is currently waiting for a written confirmation from Washington.

So, he has agreed to sending troops to the border, the number is still being determined. As for the border wall in San Diego, I assume he’s referring to the Calexico project that has been planned since 2009 and has nothing to do with his border wall. The omnibus bill he signed in March allocated $1.6 billion for border security, but not on construction of a wall. So, this tweet is misleading on every level. Fox and Friends aired a segment on Gov Jerry Brown this morning in the 6am hour so it makes sense that Trump tweeted about this at 6:24am.