Safety, Sanity and Sanitary Tips for The Trumpzilla Protest

By Gamal Hennessy

Resisting the Trumpocalypse is going to take many months and require long term thinking. But before we get there, we have to get through this weekend.

A lot of people I know (and a lot of people around the country) are planning on protesting the Pretender in Chief, as part of the Women’s March on Washington, but even during a normal inauguration there practical concerns to deal with. So as a public service to the millions of people who read this page, please allow me to provide you with some helpful information*:

Safety

Trump has already inspired violence at his campaign rallies. Protests in Ferguson and Flint have created violent tensions. This weekend might continue the trend. The Committee to Protect Journalists have listed some safety guidelines in advance of the inauguration that are, like the Moscow Rules, applicable to everyone, including:

  • Ensure that you have a full battery on your mobile phone.

  • Get familiar with the area you are going to.

  • Work out in advance what you would do in an emergency.

  • Always try to stay with a friend

  • Wear clothing and footwear that allows you to move swiftly.

  • Plan an evacuation route as well an emergency rendezvous point if you are working with others.

  • Read body language to identify aggressors and avoid them whenever possible.

Laws

Trumpzilla may have already broken dozens of laws to help him get sworn in. We don’t have that luxury, but we do have rights of protest, assembly and free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union has a list of helpful questions and answers about what you can and can’t do during a protest on their website.

Bathrooms, Food and Phones

The Women’s March might be completely safe and without interference from law enforcement, but it’s still going to be a day of long lines, standing outside and a lot of waiting.  You’re going to need to charge your phone, use the bathroom and eat. It’s best to bring the necessary accoutrements with you, but if you are going to DC, the Washingtonian has put together a list of places to help you live off the land for the day.

Back to Basics

Finally, if you need information about what you can bring, what to expect and how to get in and out of the area, the city of DC has put together this set of general rules and tips

Stay safe out there and let this protest inspire you to action.

Remember the Moscow Rules.

Have fun.

Gamal

* This post focuses on DC, but the general advice is applicable to any protest in any city.

Unite and Conquer Against the Trumpocalypse

By Gamal Hennessy

Although Trumpzilla can’t seem to get anyone to perform at his inauguration, plenty of people are planning to be there. By their accounts, the Women’s March on Washington will have more than 350,000 people protesting the Tweeter in Chief. Ahead of what could be a historic event, the group has released its guiding principles in a PDF you can see here.

What’s interesting about this statement is the inclusionary nature of the goals. This march isn’t just about what are naively thought of as women’s issues (abortion, sexual assault and economic disparity), the group claims to be fighting for racial justice, voting rights and clean water. They are planning to fight against police brutality, sex slavery and attacks on LGBTQ citizens. Based on this manifesto, it feels like this movement will see women’s rights connected to human rights on a fundamental level.

Of course, it will take more than a PDF to resist the illegal occupation of the federal government. Words, marches, and emotions have to be backed by coordinated action. Otherwise they’re fuel without an engine. But a unified message of resistance can help bring us together. It can create the foundation we can use to help each other through the dark days ahead.

Have fun.

Gamal

Trumpzilla Might Be the Best Spy Ever

By Gamal Hennessy

I’ve been interested in spies and espionage for my entire adult life. I write about spies in my Crime and Passion Series. I read books on real and fictional spies. I watch a ton of spy movies. When I got out of law school, I might have even applied to the CIA (but I can’t confirm or deny anything). I consider myself a proud spy nerd, which is why Trumpzilla’s latest scandal is such a guilty pleasure for me.

According to unconfirmed reports, Russian spy agencies have collected a dossier of compromising information against Trumpzilla

“The memos describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Trumpzilla. They also suggest that Russian officials proposed various lucrative deals, essentially as disguised bribes in order to win influence over him. Finally, they describe several purported meetings during the 2016 presidential campaign between Trumpocalypse representatives and Russian officials to discuss matters of mutual interest, including the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee and Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, John D. Podesta.”

  • Scott Shane, Adam Goldman and Matthew Rosenberg for the New York Times

All this is pretty wild stuff, but the implications of the alleged information are of special interest to spy nerds everywhere. See, when a spy wants to manipulate someone, there are four major ways to do it based on the acronym MICE (which stands for Money, Ideology, Coercion and Excitement). Under normal circumstances, a spy picks one of the four methods depending on his or her target. But if the memos are accurate, then Putin made sure to use all four methods on Trumpzilla:

  • Money: Bribes
  • Ideology: *
  • Coercion: Sex Videos
  • Ego: Stroking his ego by helping him beat Clinton

From the perspective of a spy nerd, gaining control of a United States president has to be one of the most successful operations in the history of history. The Trojan Horse, D-Day and Madam Butterfly all pale in comparison. Why fight a war or steal secrets when you can control an entire country on demand?

Of course, if you are an American (or live on the planet Earth in general) this might be the worst thing ever, especially if the Trumpocalypse wipes out everything everywhere.

Well played, Comrade Putin. Well played indeed...

Have fun.

G

* Ideology is a dubious concept when it comes to Trumpzilla, since the only thing he believes in is himself.

Who Does Trumpzilla Work For? (Hint: Not for You)

By Gamal Hennessy

There is a myth in American politics about elected officials and private businesses. In theory, the people who run governments as public servants are supposed to think and act for the benefit of the country as a whole, not for themselves or specific corporations.

But like many other aspects of American politics, Trumpzilla is throwing the illusion of public service out the window. According to Julie Bykowicz and Chad Day of the Associated Press, “days before the inauguration, he continues to own or control some 500 companies, creating a tangle of potential conflicts of interest without precedent in modern U.S. history.”

We already know he has to repay Putin for his help in hacking the election and ushering in the Trumpocalypse. We already know he’s filling his cabinet with cronies, ass kissers and denizens of the swamp. Now we have indications that he will insist on maintaining business relationships with the potential to turn the presidency into his personal Monopoly bank.

So when it comes time for him to make a decision that will impact the American people (like on January 21st) whose interests do you think is going to be important to him? Putin? Trump International? His own fragile ego? Whoever he’s working for, people like you and I will rank very low on that list, if we are on the list at all.

I’m reading a book now called The Shock Doctrine that explores the recent history of disaster capitalism and corporatism in America. As I read this book, I understand that Trumpzilla is far from the first to use his office to line his own pockets. But unless we fight him, we might suffer the most for his greed.

 

Have fun.

Gamal

 

 

The Trumpocalypse is a Black Hole of Fake News

By Gamal Hennessy

There is a cliche in self-help circles known as “fake it until you make it.” No one exemplifies the power of this slogan more than our president elect. He took a fake name, bragged about his fake business skill, parlayed it into a third rate fake TV show, and then rode a wave of fake promises and fake news all the way to the White House.

Trumpzilla might be the product of our age, but it appears that ‘Merica isn’t really sure what to do with him now that he’s coming into power. His supporters, his staff and “his” party are all struggling to deal with him and according to The Nation, the press is too fixated on the fake to report on the real.

:Then there’s the Twitter feed. Filled with falsehoods and threats, it has become a crack-like addiction for reporters, successfully diverting attention from reporting about Trump’s corruption, incompetence, ignorance, dishonesty, misogyny, prejudice, and authoritarian tendencies, to name just a few of the new president’s charms. Favoring spectacle over substance, journalists fall for this gambit every time—like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football."

Eric Alterman: The Nation,  The American Press Is Under Threat as Never Before

In 2004, Stanley Bing wrote a book called “What Would Machiavelli Do?” with a specific chapter on bullshit. One of his main examples of successful bullshit was Trumpzilla, even back then. Bing wrote “...in the art of bullshit (and it is an art, not a science) Trump towers above all others like a Colossus.”

This might have been fine for shady real estate deals and banal reality TV, but now he’s made it. While he can’t only perform at the level of his ability (160 characters or less), we don’t have to.

Sun Tzu said, “All warfare is based on deception.” In the modern war of information, Trumpzilla’s Twitter is a weapon of mass distraction. Once we look past the smoke and smear campaigns, we can resist the Trumpocalypse and restore some semblance of our sanity.

Have fun.

G

The Active Struggle Against the Trumpocalypse ​

By Gamal Hennessy

The dark cloud of the Inauguration creeps closer. Obama is taking his “victory” lap, making his “farewell” speeches. All of us have to prepare ourselves for a 2-4 year resistance. There have been several pieces written in the past few weeks offering advice on fighting the scourge that is Trumpzilla, but Charles Blow was succinct in his oped piece in today’s New York Times.

"When politics seem out of your control, remember that community and culture are very much in your control. We help shape the world we inhabit every day. A life is a collection of thousands of decisions, large and small, made every day. Make those decisions with purpose and conviction, especially [during the Trumpocalypse]"

- Charles Blow, The Anti-Inauguration

His suggested list of activities are broad and varied:

  • Protest him, his actions and what he stands for in public.

  • Volunteer to help all the people he plans to attack

  • Donate to the causes he plans to victimize

  • Subscribe to credible news sources

  • Read to educate yourself on the issues

  • Write to the people in power to frame the discussion

  • Love your tribe and let them know it

January 20th, 2021 can’t come soon enough. Until the final day of the Trumpocalypse, many of us will fight him and what he represents. This list and others like it will help. Some of us will not make it, but it is often the struggle that defines us, not the outcome.

Have fun

Gamal

The Criminal Congress

By Gamal Hennessy

When I was learning how to be a writer, I found out there are two types of criminals. One type breaks the law, the other makes the law. The law breakers include robbers, rapists and murderers. The lawmakers include the underhanded members of Congress who voted to abolish the Office of Congressional Ethics yesterday.

"House Republicans voted to eviscerate the Office of Congressional Ethics, the independent body created in 2008 to investigate allegations of misconduct by lawmakers after several bribery and corruption scandals sent members to prison. The ethics change, which prompted an outcry from Democrats and government watchdog groups, is part of a rules package that the full House will vote on Tuesday. The package also includes a means for Republican leaders to punish lawmakers if there is a repeat of the Democratic sit-in last summer over gun control."

- Donna Cassata: Associated Press

Now what might motivate Congress to eliminate ethical oversight? Is it possible that they are so upstanding and moral that the OCE is an unnecessary expense? Or is it because they plan to conduct so many ethical violations that they want to avoid any and all oversight into their illegal activities? 

And what is worse? Is it the murderer who kills a man in cold blood or the politician who cripples national healthcare, imprisons people for profit and helps destroy the environment for his corporate masters? Is it a matter of intimacy, or a matter of scale?

We’re about to find out.

Have fun.

Gamal

 

Misogyny in the Doctor’s Office

When men are oppressed it is a tragedy. When women are oppressed it’s a tradition.
— Letty Cottin Pogrebin

Misogyny, rape culture and male insecurity manifests itself in a variety of ugly ways. The ‘Merican variety is particularly insidious, because it hides behind euphemisms like “religious freedom” and “personal choice.”

The latest example of this self-destructive mindset comes from a federal judge in Texas who ruled that doctors may turn away women who have had abortions and transgender patients on the basis of religious freedom

The judge justified his ruling by claiming that individual doctors’ refusal to treat trans patients or women who have had abortions does not limit their access to health care and coverage.
— Marie Solis: Mic.

The impotent discrimination against women would be laughable if it wasn’t so repulsive. Even if we (like this judge) ignore the impact of this ruling on rural Texas women who only have access to one bigoted doctor, how can we justify the gender bias?

Are doctors allowed to refuse treatment to men who take Viagra or get hair implants?

What about denying service to rapists, child molesters and other male specific criminals, who unlike women who have abortions and transgender patients, actually commit crimes that harm individuals and society?

The double standard against women and transgender people isn’t about religious freedom. It’s about gender tyranny. It’s not about personal choice. It is sexual assault disguised as morality. It is repulsive way to treat women and we are repulsive for allowing it to exist in our society.

Have fun.

G

The Mental and Emotional Defenses to Sexual Violence

By Gamal Hennessy

In rape culture, it is the duty of the victim to repress, avoid and escape her potential rapist. Women have to control where they go, what they wear, how they behave and how they respond to sexual aggression. Deviation from patriarchal norms is not an option. We don’t teach rapist not to rape. The concepts of respect, honor and support of women have no place in rape culture, so since the beginning of recorded history, women have been forced to adapt.

It is in this spirit of survival that RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network) has developed a set of tips to help women and other potential victims of sexual violence escape a dangerous situation before it occurs. When and if you find yourself faced with a potential rapist, the post suggests that you:

  • Trust your instincts
  • Avoid blaming yourself for the problem
  • Lie if it helps you escape
  • Plan and use an escape route

Many of these suggestions mirror the more general advice I gave in a post called Misogyny, Racism and the Moscow Rules, and provide a useful starting point for evading hostile strangers. It doesn’t work as well against sexual predators who are in your social circle, but until we teach men not to rape, ladies need any edge they can to adapt to a hostile environment.

Have fun.

G

Has America Already Turned its Back on Trumpzilla?

By Gamal Hennessy

Trumpzilla claims to have lots of friends. He’s desperate for the photo ops with Kanye (while building his Legion of Doom). He pontificates about his love for Putin (especially since that whole election tampering thing). He even talks to the President of Taiwan (threatening to destabilize Asian geopolitics). Yes, a lot of people love Trumpzilla, but does America?

According to a recent article by George Edwards III of the Washington Post, Trumpzilla lacks four of the basic fundamentals of popular support:

1.       He has no mandate based on the popular vote

2.       The American people don’t support his policies

3.       Public opinion is polarized

4.       Our public opinion is not a malleable factor

Now keep in mind, a lack of public support isn’t necessarily going to end the Trumpocalypse. Trumpzilla will still try to run rampant over the Constitution and sell the country off to his friends. And we are the same people who just knew Clinton was sure to win the White House, so we could be completely wrong…again. We know ‘Merica loves Trumpzilla, but he might not have as many friends as he thinks. Maybe long term public rejection will subdue the raging beast and send him back to the tacky golf course he came from.

Have fun.

G

 

Effort vs. Destiny in Long Term Relationships

By Gamal Hennessy

Many romantic relationships suffer from an expectation of fantasy. We understand that health, wealth and personal growth require effort over a long period of time. But our intimate relationships, especially when it comes to sexual expression, are often caught up in concepts like “soulmates”, “true love”, and “happily ever after”. Social psychologist Jessica Maxwell calls this phenomenon sexual destiny belief. She contrasts it with the idea of sexual growth and suggests one is superior to the other when it comes to improving our long term partnerships.

Results suggest that those who are higher in sexual growth beliefs—who think sex takes work—are more satisfied in their sex lives and overall relationships. On the other hand, those who were stronger in sexual destiny beliefs, those who saw sexual problems as a sign that they and their partner weren’t truly soul mates, were more likely to lose faith in a relationship when sexual difficulties arose.
— Jessica Maxwell: How Implicit Theories of Sexuality Shape Relationship Well Being

The implications are clear and they make perfect sense. If we’re willing to learn to improve our minds, or exercise to improve our bodies, or work to improve our finances, then it only makes sense that we need to improve our sexual expression too…

And building a better sex life with your partner is more fun than going to work anyway…

Have fun.

G

Who Gave the Trump Zombies a Monopoly on Social Media?

By Gamal Hennessy

As the Trumpocalypse begins to take shape on the horizon, the Resistance looks for new tactics to help in the struggle. Like everyone else in the modern world, law makers on all levels are using social media to get the message out and win the war of words. But that will change if the Trump Zombies get their way.

House Republicans have proposed punishing representatives who shoot video or take photos on the floor of the chamber — a change in rules seen as a direct response to a dramatic sit-in in June by House Democrats demanding a vote on gun control legislation that was streamed live online.
— FRANK THORP V: NBC News

So why is it that Trumpzilla can tweet anything he wants, any time he wants, and manipulate mainstream and social media at will, but any attempt by the Resistance to shed light on the process of government is met with a proposed fine? The hypocritical demand for asymmetric media access isn’t new. Totalitarian regimes do it all the time. But maybe if we get a chance to see how Washington is really governed, we can limit the damage Trumpzilla and his Zombies can do.

Have fun.
G

2016 Is Our Year of Brutality

By Gamal Hennessy

There are only a few days left in the year, and for many of us the end can’t come soon enough. Members of my generation have seen our icons fall in film and music. The wider world is bracing for Brexit, the Trumpocalypse and ongoing bloodbaths in Syria, Yemen and South Sudan. The most sensational brutality of the year might be a recent phenomenon, but the cruelty that has faded from the headlines and mainstream consciousness is embedded in the fabric of ‘Merican culture.  Police brutality and violence against people of color had a prominent place in the public consciousness this year, but not much has changed on the ground.

From Anton Sterling to Jessica Williams to Philando Castile to Korryn Gaines to Tyre King to Terence Crutcher to Taiwon Boyd to Levonia Riggins to Keith Scott to Alfred Olango to Deborah Danner we find a pattern.  The gender, age, and geographic location might have been different for each victim, but the outcome was the same. Our police use our funding to murder us and face little or no consequences for their actions.

And all this occurred under the administration of an arguably progressive, feminist, black president. Do we have any reason to believe police brutality will decrease under Trumpzilla? Is there any chance the motivations of police will change? What is the likelihood that people will stop labelling us as criminal simply because of our race? Our society shares several characteristics with the slave ships of the Middle Passage. Those similarities are likely to deepen once we replace Obama with Trumpzilla.

None of us are fortune tellers. We don’t know what 2017 will bring, but it’s safe to say some of us won’t make it to see 2018. All we can really do is listen, learn, fight, work, create and love the people who are important to us.

Good luck to everyone who reads this. Remember the Moscow Rules.

Have fun.

What is Wrong with Us?

By Gamal Hennessy

Ten questions raised by yesterday’s subway stabbing in New York

1.       How many of us think “I might get stabbed on a subway train today?”

2.       Why is so much of our violence based in hatred of “The Other”?

3.       How does our own internal anger translate into stabbing someone who did something so offensive as offering us a seat?

4.       Why can’t we be comfortable in our own skin without worrying about the violent hatred of strangers?

5.       If violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum, what triggered this attack? Was it really just a racist woman who didn’t want to sit next to a Black person?

6.       If we can’t be safe in a public place surrounded by people, where can we be safe?

7.       What did she hope to accomplish by stabbing a person who offered her a seat? What was she trying to prove? What did she hope to gain?

8.       What details are missing from this story?

9.       How long will it take for the white nationalists to claim this hate crime as symptomatic of everything wrong with women, Hispanics, Blacks and transgender people in America?

10.   What the fuck is wrong with people?

United We Stand

There are going to be more than 100 POC congress people when the Trumpocalypse starts, and they're planning to fight Trumpzilla at every possible turn.

My role as a member of Congress, as a Latino member of Congress and as a veteran, is to make sure that we remind a lot of our immigrants, a lot of our minority citizens in general, that this country is still theirs.
— Ruben Gallego D. Arizona

These are the people we need to support through the next four years. We can rally, protest, donate and write letters, but these are going to be the people staring across the table at Trumpzilla and his Legion of Doom. If we work together, maybe some of us might make it out in one piece.

Trumpzilla Might Be the Best Recruitment Tool for ISIS

By Gamal Hennessy

Question: What do racist hatemongers, Wall Street executives, and Middle East terrorists have in common?

Answer: They will all probably benefit from the coming Trumpocalypse.

In the case of the terrorists, consider what Trumpzilla said when asked if the attack in Berlin Christmas Market attack would cause him to evaluate the proposed ban or a possible registry of Muslims in the United States:

"You know my plans. All along, I've been proven to be right, 100 percent correct."

Let’s break this down.

  • First, no one knows his plans. He might not even know himself.
  • Second, he has rarely if ever been proven right, since the vast majority of his statements conform to the classic elements of bullshit.
  • Third, if the goal of ISIS is to drive a wedge between the moderate international Muslim population and the secular governments of the West, then all of Trumps “ideas” play into the hands of terrorists. Discrimination, isolation, and abuse radicalize lone wolf terrorists, which is exactly what ISIS needs to survive.

I’m not an expert on counter terrorism. I’m not an expert on ISIS. Having said that, I am pretty sure that pouring gasoline on a fire is not the best way to put the fire out.

But I don’t think Trumpzilla wants to put the fire out. He needs the crisis to hide his crimes and ignorance.

Have fun.

G

The Best American Erotica 1993: A Book Review

By Gamal Hennessy

From my perspective, Susie Bright is a luminary in the genre of erotic fiction. Not only has she written, edited, and published several books on the subject over the years, her writing guide How to Write a Dirty Story has been an inspiration for all six of the novels I’ve written. I’ve wanted to read her first anthology The Best American Erotica 1993 for years, so when it went on sale on Audible, I downloadedit as soon as I could. Unfortunately, my experience was less than ideal.

The book does have positive qualities. First, there is a wide array of authors who contributed short stories to this collection and the range of erotic expression is very diverse. LGBT, straight and BDSM flavors are all mixed and represented here. Characters of different ages, ethnic backgrounds, nationalities and economic realities all get time in the spotlight. And the range of sexual expression is also broad. Some characters fully explored their passions, others lost their chance just before they could attain satisfaction, and some struggled to repress or deny the only thing they couldn’t stop thinking about.

But all the stories shared similar flaws. The stories had little or no turning points, no crisis choice that the characters had to make to expose their true nature or alter their condition. They were unchanged from the beginning of the story to the end, and the sexual experiences they had (or didn’t have) did nothing to bring about change in their lives. What they did was on full display. Why they did it or how it defined them was always left out.

It doesn’t have to be that way in erotica or any other genre. We only have to look at the short stories in Delta of Venus, Night in a Moorish Harem or Erotic Interludes to see that sexual expression can be the catalyst for change in a character’s life. Of course, not every sexual encounter alters our existence, but when every story in a collection lacks that element, the whole book suffers.

In terms of the overall presentation of the audio book it’s also a mixed experience. The readers of each piece were very good and their voices matched the nature of the narrator well. However, most of the sex in this book skews towards the nonconsensual. There is diversity here too, as the scenarios range from lack of consent to rape and sustained torture. If you don’t enjoy those types of stories the book might be hard to get through.

Overall, I appreciated the diversity of Best American Erotica, but the stories themselves didn’t satisfy. The series continues for several more volumes, so perhaps the first one can be seen as a viable proof of concept.

Have fun.
Gamal