Last week I wrote about the Trump administration’s directive to the CDC to ban seven specific words from future documents. See Brought to you by the "Ministry of Truth" It seems surreal that we are even having this conversation, but if you’re paying attention you will have noticed the administration’s authoritarian reach has gone far beyond words.
If you haven't been paying attention-not to worry. Someone is doing it for us and her name is Amy Siskind, a writer and Wall Street executive who’s work has focused on the advancement of women and girls. Siskind is co-founder and president of The New Agenda, a national organization working on issues including economic independence and advancement, gender representation and bias, sexual assault and domestic violence.
Shortly after the 2016 election Siskind started a list. “I read a bunch of articles about authoritarianism. They said the changes would happen so quickly that you wouldn’t realize what was happening in front of you unless you took note,” Siskind remembers. Many of the articles she read recommended keeping a record of the “erosion of democratic norms” occurring, so that’s what she did. Siskind began posting her lists on Medium and now posts them weekly on Facebook and Twitter as well. Siskind’s first list contained 9 items. We’re now on #58 and up to 133 items this week alone. In July the Library of Congress began archiving her weekly entries.
Siskind says she’s not looking to catalogue a host of people’s typical complaints about politicians but rather to detail “things that are uncharacteristic of our democracy”, like the Trump campaign’s payouts to his businesses and his attacks on the FBI.
Below are some examples of what Siskind has been compiling:
"The Trump regime closed the Community Resilience Panel for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems, a group created by Obama in 2015 to help local officials protect against extreme weather and natural disasters."
"Intercept reported Trump’s WH is considering set a of proposals developed by Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer to provide the CIA and WH with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official US intelligence."
"On Thursday, the Trump regime rolled back an Obama-era rule which required trains carrying highly explosive liquids to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes by 2021, to help prevent fiery train wrecks."
"Politico reported while on Air Force One with Trump, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said the country is at risk of a “coup d’etat” by Mueller. In a phone interview later, Gaetz stopped short of calling for Trump to fire Mueller. (#77 week 57) Later Fox News also used the word “coup” in a chyron."
"On Tuesday, Trump signed $700 billion defense policy bill, while complaining about provisions included by lawmakers to force a more aggressive policy toward Russia. Trump has yet to impose sanctions voted on by lawmakers."
"On Sunday, the Kremlin was the first to share that Putin called Trump to thank him for sharing intelligence which thwarted a terrorist bomb plot in St. Petersburg. Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later confirmed the call."
"This was the second time Trump and Putin have spoken in the past three days, and both calls were first made public by Russian sources. Trump’s Oval Office meeting in Week 26 was also reported by Russian sources."
"The WH released an odd readout of the call between Trump and Putin. It is highly unusual for leaders to publicly disclose sharing intelligence information, or to publicly thank each other."
Like many of us, Siskind’s life was turned on end by the 2016 election. She spends about 20 hours a week on compiling her lists and plans to keep it up throughout the Trump era. “We have to have a way to trace back to where we were,” she says, “to trace our way back to democracy.”
posted by Amy Levengood