Shame on Us: Tommy Orange captures White destruction of Indigenous Peoples

51RuAbKH+tL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Tommy Orange opens his award winning book “There, There” (Knopf, 2018) with a discussion of the Indian head which used to appear on TV channels as a test pattern, circa 1939 to 1970. I’m old enough to remember this profile of an Indian Chief with circles around it, random bull’s-eyes and buzzing in the background.  The head meant no TV to me, hard to imagine today with our 24 hour news cycle.  But Orange uses the head as an indication of white culture devaluing Indigenous People.312px-RCA_Indian_Head_Test_Pattern.svg

The question of misuse of Native American symbolism bubbled up in Idaho where the four Tribal nations who live in the state have asked that school mascots reflecting Native Americans be shelved.  This request has been met with mixed results. In Boise’s liberal North End with the highest academically ranked high school in the state, the Boise Braves have been transformed to the Boise Brave. The ubiquitous Native American mascot has been removed and a contest is underway to identify a new symbol reflecting the  “Brave” value.  This change in mascot was not done without some public disapproval, but not as much as one might think because of the long liberal roots of the North End. Boise High is now “Home of the Brave”, a personal value shared by students. I read in the paper that some testimony at public hearing said, “a value can’t be a mascot.”  Having sat in a full gym and heard the entire student body shout in unison, “BRAVE” with fists raised high, I think an athletic opponent will be able to understand strength in community as a symbol of school spirit.

seminolesI was reading the Tommy Orange’s book when the Boise State Broncos played the Florida State Seminoles this fall.  I was surprised watching the game on national TV how offended I was when the Seminole mascot, clearly not a Native American,  rode out in full regalia  on an Appaloosa horse.  A Native American profile is the FSU symbol. Having just read how poorly Whites have treated Indigenous People, watching whites role  playing native people on national TV during a ballgame seemed a travesty. It gave me some sense of how offensive all these Native American mascots must be to Indigenous People.

Having a Seminole as the Florida State Mascot is extremely ironic. President Andrew Jackson launched two wars against the Seminoles between 1842 and 1855.  By the time he was done, 4000 Seminoles were forcibly transported to Oklahoma and the 350 remaining tribal members fled to the Florida swamps, not exactly a proud moment for white America. Yet Florida State still clings to this inappropriate mascot.  This is not to say that Idaho has a better record with Native Americans.  After all we are part of the Trail of Tears.  This is  name given to the retreat of the powerful Nez Perce in 1877 led by Chief Joseph in his unsuccessful effort to lead his people to Canada.  He and his people were captured in Montana.

White mistreatment of Indigenous People continues to this day not only on reservations but as Tommy Orange immortalizes in beautiful vignettes in our cities as well.  Mr. Orange’s fictional piece on the Big Oakland Powwow captures the strange limbo land in which Native Americans living off the reservation find themselves.  They are neither wholly Indian or fully integrated into urban settings. Whites have much more to regret than native mascots in our treatment of Indigenous People.  If you have any interest in emotionally understanding our despicable legacy, reading Tommy Orange’s “There, There” is a good place to start.


Will Streaming Replace Movies?

The Marvelous Mrs. MaiselWhen I was a kid growing up in Wyoming, my older sister and I would go to the movies once a week in the summer. These week day showings were sponsored by Dairy Gold and an empty milk bottle got us in free. Mom always gave us a quarter for popcorn, no candy or pop. I remember sitting down front in luxurious maroon velvet seats in a dimly lit theater with a bunch of noisy kids, crunching loudly on kernels like rabid chipmunks, waiting in anticipation for the show to begin.  I can’t remember a single show from these adventures. I do remember going to the movies was a special treat, an experience to be savored.

This week in a New York Times interview (Buchanan, Sept. 4, 2019), Brad Pitt was not particularly bullish on the future of movies in the era of streaming.  Pitt told Buchanan, “I’m curious to see if movies last, if movies stick around in the period of streaming.”

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Friday of this week (Morgenstern, WSJ, 9/6/19) described the recent Telluride Film Festival as showcasing largely movies for streaming. A move Morgenstern described as “tectonic” or a major shift similar of the earth’s crust, movements that cause earth quakes.

This last month I have had foot surgery giving me lots of time to stream movies and series. My experience is that some streaming productions, especially movie length features are unbelievably terrible.  For example, well known stars Jennifer Aniston and Adam Sandler’s “Murder Mystery” (released on Netflix, June, 2019) is a ridiculous farce, that transforms into a who-done-it, overlaid on a romantic comedy. My teenage daughter and I could hardly sit through the entire feature.  Both of us spent more time playing with our phones than watching the show. I was left wondering why any reasonable woman would marry the bumbling Sandler character.

Just out is another example of the travesty of full-length streaming, “Otherhood” short for motherhood (Nextflix, August, 2019). Featuring 3 middle aged women devoted to their grown sons  who said, “hasta la vista” many years ago and moved to New York, found apartments and jobs. The sons seem to be fully functioning adults.  Their moms, on the other hand, literally have no lives and no real connections to their sons. As the mother of a 25 year old son, who has moved successfully from Idaho to Seattle, I found the premise offensive.  Women can have children, careers, fun, hobbies and a life separate from their children and husbands.  But in “Otherhood” these three lost souls journey into New York, dropping in unexpectantly on their non-communicative sons to manage their lives. The sons, by the way, are young,  good looking and not the brunt of the writer’s humor.  The writers seem to think three older women who obsess about their looks, drink too much, interfere with their adult children’s lives and haven’t been dancing in years are not only hilarious but representative of the older female. This movie should never have made it onto the production schedule.Netflix

The one streaming movie featuring a strong woman I have seen this week is “Late Night” (Amazon) staring Emma Thompson.  I admit to my personal bias here.  I’ve never seen a movie with Emma Thompson that I didn’t like. “Late Night” features witty repartee about women, ageism, diversity and the white male culture of TV.  The basic plot is the difficulties of  successful aging focused on the challenges of pursuing both excellence and change in later life.  Would this show have drawn me to a major theater at a minimum $20 price point (ticket, parking, popcorn)? I’m not sure.  But the show is the best of my recent viewing of women leads in feature-length online movies.

The streaming plots seem more nuanced when they are structured as episodes.  “The Handmaiden Tale” on Hulu (Season 1) is gripping.  It’s back for a fourth season but I haven’t watched  seasons 2 or 3  because someone from Costa Rica stole my Hulu account.  “ The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” on Amazon Prime is a great period piece, showcasing strong women in non-traditional roles with writing that leaves the viewer laughing at the pathos of the characters as they struggle with various neurosis. Both seasons 1 and 2 were outstanding.  I am eagerly waiting  season 3. “The Good Fight”  (3 seasons streaming on CBS All Access), stars attorney Diane Lockhart (Christin Baranski) as a tough, high powered,  older woman lawyer working in an almost all black law firm. She is the only white partner. For liberals, the plot focus on current events, dark humor, and undercurrents of an unknowable national conspiracy make the show binge worthy in my book.good fight

Even when I enjoy streaming a show, I don’t get the same excitement as I do waiting in a big dark theater with my over-priced popcorn for the show to begin. Short, high quality streaming episodes with a solid plot line can keep viewers watching night after night or binging away an entire day. But to get us out of our cozy homes and entice us to spend at least $50 for a family, movie producers and writers need to continue creating that special spell-binding magic that transforms our ordinary lives for a couple hours.  Without the magic, movies may go the way of my land line telephone which never rings or my dusty VHS collection, a relic of a past that was transformative at the time but unable to adapt to new technology.   But for right now, I still love a great movie on a big screen in a dark theater .

Find Me

Find MeFind Me is an award winning, Indie film, streaming now on Amazon Prime. Tom Huang, writer-director and star realized he wanted to make a movie about our western national parks when he was wading through Narrows Canyon in Zion National Park.

The unlikely hero in this movie is Joe, a Chinese-American middle-aged divorced accountant living a dreary existence of work, home, work. Amelia (staring Sara Amini), his bubbly younger Hispanic coworker and friend, challenges Joe to get out and see the world and shares her many adventures with him. That is, until she disappears.  But she doesn’t disappear until she steals some company funds and makes Joe promise to do anything to “Find her”.  That promise is the premise of the film as Amelia sends hints to Joe of her whereabouts.

Joe searching for Amelia discovers the beauty of the American west.

Joe’s journey takes him and the viewer through some of the most gorgeous vistas in America’s west including Zion National Park, Death Valley, and Yosemite National Park. An underlying theme in “Find Me” is diversity.  Joe is a Chinese American, a change up from the traditional sexy macho western hero.  His bumbling efforts to understand the bread crumbs Amelia leaves along the way provide moments of quiet humor. Other change ups from traditional white shows, Joe camps with a black woman from Detroit and of course, Amelia is a young Hispanic woman.  Amelia carries a secret with her as she crisscrosses the west.  The ultimate theme of “Find Me” is that we are in charge of our own destinies.  Fate may be an unequal broker but in the end, each of us has the opportunity to live life as we choose.

The scenery alone is worth cuddling on the coach with a loved one and a bowl of popcorn.  I have had the opportunity to travel the places showcased in the film but I am always awed by the beauty around us.

The underlying pathos of “Find Me” is also worth some personal reflection.  Are we living our best lives now?  Does the routine of life dehumanize your spirit and keep you from exploring new vistas.

Trump Lexicon

Trump Lexicon

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Alternative Facts: Terms used by Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway in a Meet the Press interview on January 22, 2017 to explain White House Press Secretary’s Sean Spicer’s description of the crowds at President Trump’s inauguration as  “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period.”the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in-person and around the globe,” Spicer claimed. These remarks were contrary to the numerous photos taken of the National Mall on Friday that appeared to show a smaller audience than the crowd at former President Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.  Mr. Spicer later clarified it was the largest audience if streaming; tv etc was taken into account. Urban dictionary defines explains alternative facts as lies invented to protect an individual when the truth is too unfavorable to the presenter.

Alt-right (Alternative Right): Loosely organized group of individuals who reject mainstream Republican conservatism. The term was originally coined in 2010 by individuals who supported white nationalism and white supremacists to refer to themselves and their ideology,  emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States.  Because of it’s fluid structure alt-right groups have been associated also been associated with anti-Semitism, antifeminism, and homophobia.  The generally support President Trump, emphasize preserving and protecting the white race in the United States, oppose multiculturalism and political correctness. The positions of the alt-right exist in a virtual world of web-pages,  twitter,  and internet memes (a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users).

Bad Hombre: Uncomplimentary reference to undocumented Mexicans living in America.  Hombre is Spanish for man. Trump used the reference to reinforce his vision of increasing hordes of criminals illegally crossing the Mexican border.  In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that the number of illegal Mexicans coming into the U.S. has stabilized in recent years and declined by about 1 million since 2007.  About 2/3 of all illegal immigrants have lived in the U.S. for a decade or more.  About half of immigrants coming into the U.S. are women.  There are 5000 children in foster care whose parents have been detained or deported by U.S. immigration authorities.  This figure is estimated to rise to 15,000 children over the next five years because of tightening immigration policies.  These women and children have not been part of any policy discussion during this presidential season.

Bannon, Steven: Former and now current head of Breitbart News (see below), CEO of Trump Presidential Campaign and for a short period of time Mr. Trump’s Chief Political Strategist in the White House .  Mr. Bannon is considered the primary ideological defender of the ultra-right. Mr. Bannon was quoted in an interview after the election that “Darkness is  good.  Darth Vader. Satan. That’s Power.”  Before removing him from the White House, President Trump gave Mr. Bannon a seat at the National Security Council table, a move considered unusual for a political strategist.  Now back at Breitbart, Mr. Bannon is committed to electing conservatives to Congress to support the Trump agenda.

Bowling Green Massacre: Kellyanne Conway told Chris Mathews on MSNBC’s Hardball that President Obama had instituted a six month ban on Iraqi refugees after the Bowling Green Massacre. She complained the media had failed to cover the incident. The media didn’t cover the massacre because there never was one. Bowling Green Kentucky was never home to a terrorist attack. Two men were arrested in in Bowling Green in 2011 on federal terrorism charges after one of the men’s fingerprints had been traced to a roadside bomb detonated in Iraq in 2005.  Ms. Conway corrected her error through tweeting “Bowling Green terrorists” rather than “Bowling Green massacre.”

Braggadocios: A braggart who boasts so much about themselves that they become annoying to their audience.  The term was commonly used in the 19th century.  The word is so seldom used in the 21st century, braggadocios is not considered part of our common vocabulary.  Mr. Trump, who usually says he does not want to seem braggadocios, has breathed life back into this word.

Breitbart News: Website featuring right wing views run by Steve Bannon before Mr. Bannon became President Trump’s campaign manager. Mr. Bannon referred to Breitbart News as the “platform of the alt-right”.   Known for taking on establishment Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan.  Mr. Bannon returned to running Breitbart within a week of leaving the White House. Critiques say the website is a platform for white nationalist sentiments of hate groups. 

Dreamers:  President Obama implemented through executive order a program called  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).   The program initatited in 2012 offered a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under the age of 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military.  The 718,000 individuals taking advantage of the program are called Dreamers. There are an estimated  1.8 million potential Dreamers in the United States presently. Seven-tenths of the dreamers are Mexican American and half live in Texas and California though the rest are scattered throughout the United States.  The program is currently accepting applications but the long term status of the program in the Trump administration is in limbo.

Extreme Vetting: Mr. Trump’s proposal to conduct ideological screening of new arrivals from countries with a history of terror (specific countries are unspecified).  Mr. Trump had previously said he would ban all Muslims from coming into the country.  This proposal would allow in some individuals.  However, all individuals from countries harboring terrorists would be banned from the U.S. until this new screening test was designed and in place.  The U.S. already has extremely rigorous screening approaches in place sometimes taking many years.  In addition, it is difficult to assess an individual’s most innermost beliefs and private opinions.  In a country that values free speech, this proposal may be difficult or impossible to implement.  Finally, individuals from other countries are less likely to engage in violence than native born Americans.

Going Nuclear: Nuclear option is a parliamentary procedure  allows the U.S. Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of by a supermajority of 60 votes. The United States Senate has a tradition of requiring a 60 vote threshold for confirmation of Supreme Court nominees.  Going nuclear refers to changing Senate rules so a Supreme Court nominee could be confirmed by a simple majority, which the Republicans hold in the Senate.  the nuclear option would allow Judges to not only be “nominated to the Court by a Republican president, but also be confirmed by only Republican Senators in party-line votes.”

Johnson Amendment: An amendment to the tax code in 1954, introduced by then Senator Lyndon Johnson, providing a legal separation between religion and politics.  Under the law, churches and charitable organizations are unable to directly or indirectly participate in apolitical campaign on behalf or in opposition to a candidate or risk loosing their tax-exempt status.  President Trump has vowed to destroyed this amendment to appease conservative religious groups who want to actively engage in politics and maintain their tax-exempt status.  Rev. Jerry Falwell Jr. has said it would “create a huge revolution for conservative Christians and for free speech.”

Locker Room Banter: Mr. Trump’s justification of the conversation he was having with Billy Bush prior to an appearance on Access Hollywood in 2005.  In the recorded encounter, Mr. Trump used extremely vulgar terms to describe women and what he would do to them. When the tape was released, Mr. Trump defended the conversation as the kind of talk that routinely goes own in all male places such as locker rooms.  My husband played college basketball and when I asked him about it, he responded that young guys might not use the best language but this is an example of a 60 year old man (at the time) who could be expected to have outgrown the titillation of talking dirty. Billy Bush was relieved of his position on Good Morning America for his role both in the conversation and for not bringing the tape to light sooner.

Post Truth: The 2016 Oxford Dictionary word of the year. Post-truth was selected because usage has dramatically rose during the last year and terminology has become of mainstay of discussion of national politics without needing definition.  Post-truth describes the milieu of the 2015 U.S. presidential election in which appeal to emotions and personal opinion are more impactful than facts..

Repeal and Replace (Affordable Care Act or OBAMA Care): The first executive order signed by President Trump was to scale back as many aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)(Obamacare) as possible. The one page order gave broad latitude to government agencies to change, delay or waive provisions of the law that they deemed overly costly for insurers, drug makers, doctors, patients or states, suggesting that it could have wide-ranging impact, and essentially allowing the dismantling of the law to begin even before Congress moves to repeal it.  In 2015, HHS estimated that ACA had provided insurance to 16.8 million Americans who previously did not have insurance and dropped the U.S. uninsured rate by over 5%.  With so many Americans receiving insurance through ACA, the Republicans have vowed to repeal ACA but simultaneously replace it with something better.  The something better is still undefined. There have been suggestions of replacing Medicaid the state/federal entitlement program with block grants to states.  Block grants to states during the Reagan administration allowed for significant federal cuts to the grants from previous levels.  While entitlements require that every person receive the same minimum level of service, a block grant provides a capped amount of funding. The argument is that states should not need as much funding to operate block grants because they can redesign the program, eliminate federal red tape and provide the same services at significantly less cost.  Block grants in operation and have led to significant reduction in services because states have been unable to identify significant cost savings measures.

Rigged Elections: As political polls have begun indicating that Mr. Trump might lose, Trump has become more strident in his claims that the media and the Democratic machine are rigging the election.  Mr. Trump has said he would accept the election results if he won.  However, when questioned during the third debate, he refused to confirm that he would accept the results.   The charge of rigged elections is at the very heart of the U.S. democracy where for centuries Americans have cast their votes and lived with the results.  Mr. Trump’s charge also suggests he is not familiar with the structure  of U.S. elections.  Elections (even for national candidates such as Congress and the President) are under the control of the states. Forty-seven of the fifty states and the Puerto Rico have  a Secretary of State position. The primary duty of this individual is to serve as the chief election officer for the state.  In the three states without a Secretary of State, the responsibility for elections falls to the Lieutenant Governor.  Given the diffuse structure of elections in the U.S. it would be difficult to rig the outcome nationally.  As we know from the 2000 Bush/Gore Presidential election, the role of the Secretary of State in a close election can be very important. Former Vice President Gore received about 540,000 more popular votes than Bush across the nation.   In Gore’s presidential run, the Florida Secretary of State, Republican Katherine Harris certified that Bush had won the popular vote in Florida.  Her decision was confirmed by the United States Supreme Court on a 5 to 4 decision preventing a recount of key precincts in Florida.  Former Vice President Gore honored the decision and has been largely invisible on the national stage since.

Shock and Awe: Term comes from military for rapid deployment of military strikes to demonstrate dominance and force opponent into  President Trump’s rapid issuance of executive actions has been referred to as “shock and awe” approach to executive administration in an effort to impose Trump philosophy on the federal government and force opponent and world into a reactive position.

The Wall: Mr. Trump’s proposal to have Mexico pay for a wall dividing Mexico and the United States with the intention of stopping  Mexicans from illegally entering the U.S. Mr. Trump estimates the wall will cost $5 billion dollars. He promises the entire cost will be paid for by the Mexican Government. The Mexican President has refused to pay for the wall in a tweet.  Tweeting seems to be the primary form of policy development in this election year. Mr. Trump sees the wall as a beautiful thing with a door right in the middle for legal Mexicans to be welcomed to America.

Travel Ban: Trump executive order issued January 27, 2017 banning all immigrants and visa holders from six  majority Muslim countires(Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen and Syria)  from entering the US for 90 days,  and opens the door to more country-based bans in the future. Also bans all refugee admissions for 120 days—and bans Syrian refuges indefinitely.  The order essentially overhauled US refugee policy—laying the groundwork for a fundamental shift in how the US allows people to enter the country. Signed late Friday afternoon without consultation with Congress or impacted federal agencies, the order caused at airports for individuals raveling from the seven countries listed in the order and refugees who had been granted approval to the United States.  By Wednesday, February 1, 2017, the Trump administration said the ban did not include citizens from the 7 countries hold valid U.S. green card, a permit allowing a foreign national to work permanently in the United States..   On Friday,  February 3, 2017, the Justice Department estimated that the order impacted about 60,000 visa holders.  Tens of thousands of visas for foreigners inside and outside the U.S. have been revoked with notice.  If any of these leave the U.S., they have probably lost their ability to return. Judge Brinkema, Federal District Court in Alexandria, described the Trump’s administration lack of planning and notice as causing “chaos.” Judge Brinkema went on to say, “This order touched something in the U.S. I’ve never seen before. People are quite upset.”

Trumpism: Words made up by Mr. Donald Trump in his run for President of United States in 2016.  Mr. Trump has a vast, original lexicon which creates sweeping indictments and vicious mental pictures using just a couple of words or phrases. Some of his words are spoken; others have been tweeted in the wee hours of the morning.  Trumpism could also be considered Mr. Trump’s political platform.  Trumpism pushes nativism (foreigners are suspect) and populism (giving power to the people rather than political elites).  Through twitter and his speeches, Mr. Trump has created a mish-mash of images of America as a dark, dangerous place in deep economic decline.  Mr. Trump’s America needs saving.  His slogan is “Make America Great Again” as if returning to the past is a positive. His primary policy proposals are deporting illegal immigrants, tightening and/or stopping future immigration of certain groups particularly Muslims,  emphasizing  that foreign individuals living in America commit the majority of violent crimes particularly  rape and robbery while taking away American jobs.  Trumpism’s primary focus is that Muslim refugees are terrorist infidels, illegal Mexicans are criminals and global trade has crippled America.

Women’s March:  protest for human rights and other civil rights issues  and against President Trump’s positions on these issues held January 21, 2017 in Washington D.C. with sister marches throughout the world.  The largest single day demonstration in U.S. history, drawing at least 500,000 marchers in Washington D.C. and  an estimated 4.8 million world wide.  A theme was “Build Bridges not Walls” in response to President Trump’s inauguration speech the day before the march which focused on “America First”.

Yuuuge: Mr. Trump’s unique way of saying huge.

Pink Politics

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Random Thoughts from Easter 2017

I awoke to a glorious Easter Sunday in Boise! Always a blessing to get up and greet the sun.  We’ve had a winter that didn’t seem to want to end. There was snow just last Thursday.

Our minister told a packed house; “Anyone who likes to garden has faith. It is an act of faith to put a seed in the ground and look forward to it springing forth with new life.”  Let’s get out there planting little sprouts to bring hope to ourselves and others.

Five years ago I would never expected to see police in uniform on duty with a bomb sniffing dog at church.  Now we are getting to use to it.  We had one at the Cathedral of the Rockies at Christmas too.  This time the policeman was extremely kind to everyone and the gorgeous German Shepard was very photogenic.  Fortunately, their presence was not needed.

We always buy flowers at Easter from the church youth group to help support youth mission trips in the summer. The pink and blue hydrangeas have thrived in my back yard. The one we go this year practically shouts, “Look at me!”

I buy the Calla Lilies in honor of my daughter Kayla, both the lily and Kayla have roots to China but grow well in Idaho. This year I am blessed to have both flowers and daughter grace my house with beauty.

This is the twenty-second year I have hidden Easter baskets, a family tradition. I will miss it when Kayla goes away to college, one more year of baskets.  We learned this year with Scott home for a while that you are never too old to bite off the ears of a chocolate bunny.

My son is off to Seattle May first to expand his world and hopefully hunt down a good first job.  We are all very excited for him.  The purpose of parenthood is to raise children who can float by themselves.  I will miss his good humor, beautiful photographs  and noise around the house.

Our male tom cat, Satch, had a good Easter. He discovered a box in the house just his size, always a delight.  The weather was perfect for cats to lay outside and soak up sun.

Easter is a time of new beginnings. May this year bring out the very best in you and your family.  Thanks for reading.

Pink Politics

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month: This year’s National Sexual Violence Resource Center campaign theme is “Engaging New Voices.” We definitely need more voices to fight President Trump’s budget.  Trump proposes eliminating the Justice Department’s Office on Violence against Women.  In the estimated 1 in 4 women will suffer severe physical abuse in their life-time. About 3 women a day are murdered by someone they date or are married to. The highly publicized killing of a teacher and student yesterday (April 10, 2017) was by an estranged husband. The President’s proposed cuts would reduce services to at least 260,000 victims of sexual assault and violence annually (

Trump Properties Serve as Second White House: President Trump has spent nine of his 11 weekends as president visiting at least one of his properties. While a number of these weekends have been recreational, the world was treated to Trump Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan responding to news of a ballistic missile test by North Korea.  This week Trump was at Mar-a-lago when he announced firing 50 cruise missiles on Syria.  Problems with using Trump properties for White House business include increased security costs, conflict of interest (the properties and Trump brand get continuous advertising at no cost), and informal unscheduled meetings with members to the club.  Media and general public do not have access to who is in attendance as required by public meeting laws.

Melania Trump Thwarts Her Husband’s “Made in America” Campaign: Mrs. Trump’s official portrait was released last Monday (April 2, 2017). Rather than showcasing an American designer, Mrs. Trump chose a tuxedo jacket from Italian luxury house Dolce & Gabbana. Mrs. Trump’s choice of European designers for a majority of her appearances seems in direct conflict President’s Trump’s emphasis on American manufacturing and inflammatory rhetoric on imposing limits on global trade. Mrs. Trump looked stunning in a blue outfit by American designer Ralph Lauren for Trump’s Inauguration. Obviously, if she chose to highlight American designers, she could be very influential in selling American haut couture around the world.

Trump’s Tweet Wars Continue: Syria may have provided President Trump with the opportunity to demonstrate his willingness to take dramatic military action.  His tweet action continues unabated.  Since being elected he has waged tweet wars on the Australian Prime Minister, an acting Attorney General, seven predominately Muslim countries, a “so called” federal judge, Sweden, “Fake Tears”, Chuck Schumer, Saturday Night Live, the FBI, the un-American leakers in the intelligence community, the City of Paris, Mark Cuban, John McCain, millions of protestors, Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Cuomo, the University of California at Berkeley, ratings “disaster”, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, the “Traitor” Chelsea Manning,  Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, Barack Obama, the City of Chicago, Susan Rice, among many, many others. While Trump pounds out alarming negative tweets about most people, he was call Bill O’Reilly a “good man”. This was at the very time Fox News is hemorrhaging from paying off sexual harassment law suits and loosing advertisers for O’Reilly’s inappropriate treatment of women.

Ivanka Trump, A Goddess in China and Featured as Complicit on SNL in America: Ms. Trump’s daughter entertained Chinese President XI anad his wife when they visited Mar-a-lago April 6 and 7. Ivanka was called a “Goddess” on Chinese social media. This post was one of the most read, shared and discussed posts from NYTIMES.COM last week. Ms. Trump recently became a federal employee and top advisor to the President, without pay, formalizing a role she had been undertaking as a volunteer.  Here in America, Saturday Night Live has spoofed Ms. Trump for her failure to defend women’s issues by naming a perfume “Complicit” for her.

Confusion Reigns in Trump White House while Trump Poll Numbers are Lowest in History: Trump is still in his first 100 days of office, a honeymoon period for most presidents. But Trump’s approval rating of 40%  (Real Clear Politics) are the lowest of any President in history at this stage in their Presidency.  Karl Rove in a recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal argues that White House staff needs more structure ( Recent leaks about infighting in the White House suggest that President Trump is unable to assemble a team with a coherent strategy. This weekend was particularly alarming when Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations stated on national TV that the U.S. was committed to removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power in Syria while Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, argued that defeating the Islamic State (ISIS) is the Trump priority. Sean Spicer, White House Press Secretary, explained the two differing statements as essentially the same thing.  Trump is committed to developing a national strategy which protects Americans. Spicer has to have the worst job in American, trying to make sense out of chaos.

New Spin on Oldest Love Story of All Time, Adam and Eve: Tired of women being the “bad guys” in Genesis, try Bruce Feiler’s The First Love Story: Adam, Eve, and Us (Penguin Press, 320 pp.), Feiler writes that rather than Eve being a secondary creation, Adam and Eve were made to be equal partners. They represent a profound example of true love and companionship.

* Dr. Julia Robinson’s blog “My Private Idaho” will be going dark  on May 1, 2017 for six months.  Dr. Robinson has been asked to write for Pink Politics LLC . P squared was created to provide a social media platform for progressive women living in red states. Primary activities include a weekly blog synthesizing national news  with links for people who don’t have time to keep abreast of changing stories or don’t have access to informational resources.  Below the Radar is a second weekly blog on topical information that is not headline news.  Commentary and inspirational blogs will also be published by various authors on the Pink Politics page along with a podcast. Starting May 1, 2017 look for Pink Politics on facebook and twitter @Pinkpoliticsusa.  Pink Politics logo is P2 pink x politics = power