Posted by: minnow | October 1, 2017

Trying to Keep Up

Before I dig in let me offer a gentle reminder: Monitoring everything the current administration and the Republicans in Congress have thrown at us can be exhausting. So, the first rule of response must be: take care of yourself.  Don’t try to read every article or all the comments. Don’t stress over every “disaster”. Don’t try to follow every issue. Pick your top two topics of concern and focus most of your energy and time on those. Network with others who also care about what’s happening and want to keep informed. Stay in contact with two or three others you trust to have your back. Let them follow the issues you aren’t personally following as closely.  Then when a major action is underway you’ll know in time to offer important support  such as emails and phone calls. In order to stay in this fight for the long haul we need to effectively network and we need to take a break every now and then.

That said–this has been a busy week.  While many of us were defending #takeaknee protests or calling attention to the disaster in Puerto Rico and our President’s lame response, the GOP unveiled their tax cut plan. While they may label it a tax cut for the middle class, not surprisingly the super wealthy and large corporations actually benefit the most.

Short on details as to how these cuts will be paid for the stated focus is to eliminate loopholes and streamline the code. Even with that laudable goal, it is difficult to see how the middle class will benefit. The rate for the highest income bracket (individuals with taxable income over $400,000,000) decreases by 4.5% while the rate for the lowest income bracket (those with taxable income under $9,300) increases by 2%. Corporate tax rates decrease by 15% and the estate tax, which only effects those with assets over $5.49 million, will be eliminated. Their stated goal–to simplify the tax code–plays well to audiences but the devil is indeed in the details.  One deduction on the chopping block is the deduction for state and local taxes, which incidentally targets states currently run by democrats, like New York and California. Finally, even the GOP admits their plan is likely to increase the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars over the next decade. Sadly, if they’re admitting that much it will probably be more.

Along with a simpler tax code backers of the GOP plan continue to proclaim trickle down economic theories as a reason to give the wealthy and corporations the biggest pieces of the tax cut pie.  But history has proven something must be blocking the flow–after all, we’re all still waiting for the Reagan tax cuts to trickle on down to the middle class. The truth is, prior to Reagan’s tax cuts the poorest workers generally saw the largest positive income growth while the most wealthy showed growth but at a modest rate. 30 years later, the poor actually experience negative growth while the very affluent have seen sharp increases, well beyond the modest growth they experienced in the 1980s.

When looking at how the economy works we must keep in mind this common sense fact–if you spread the buying power across more consumers more goods will be consumed.  Thus the economy will grow.  Even if the super rich each had seven mansions and five cars they still could not make up for the 100 million consumers who must tighten their belts every time the rich get another tax cut.

Please America–don’t get swallowed up by nicely worded sound bites!  The GOP tax plan is NOT FOCUSED ON HELPING THE MIDDLE CLASS. Republicans in Congress owe their donors.  They couldn’t get it done by shutting down the ACA so now they want to maintain favor but sticking it to the middle class via their tax plan. Demand the GOP show us the fine print before they implement their plan! Expect them to tell you how they plan to pay for their the cuts, the cuts that benefit the wealthy and corporate America. Hold them accountable for the deficit. Remind them they’ve already proposed increasing the military budget by $80 billion dollars.

You wanted change?! DEMAND IT! And if your representatives in Congress don’t listen to you–VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE!


Posted by: minnow | September 24, 2017

Race and White Privilege

White America, it’s time we take a knee. Today, since it’s Sunday, we might want to make it two. We need to repent. For far too long we have tolerated racist behavior in the US. For far too long we have benefited from the color of our skin and ignored what happens to People of Color. And, for far too long, if we have noticed, we have remained silent. It is time we opened our eyes. It is time we understand our culpability. If Collin Kaepernick’s protest has shown us anything it has revealed the ugly truth that for Black America no type of protest is acceptable to White America.
If they riot we shift the conversation to their criminal behavior.  If they march and shout we accuse them of being unwilling to engage in rational conversation. And if they take a silent knee, we call them unpatriotic, or as the President recently demonstrated, worse. What we have failed to do is address the real problems–the reason for the violence, the hostility, or the frustration.
Let’s look at some statistics. According to data collected by The Guardian black men between the ages of 15 and 34 are nine times more likely to be killed by police than any other demographic. Even though White people make up more than 60 percent of the population they account for less than 49 percent of those killed by police. Blacks, however, make up only 13 percent of the population yet  over 21 percent of those killed by law enforcement. In the year since Collin Kaepernick first took a knee, 233 of the 963 people kill by law enforcement were Black, another 113 were other People of Color. That translates to 38.8 percent of the people killed by police officers being People of Color. Additionally, while only 18% of youth under the age of 18 are Black, 32 % of juvenile arrests are Black children.
Now before you start assuming these stats are because Blacks commit more crime take a look at some other statistics. Blacks are twice as likely to be arrested for drug crimes as Whites even though Whites use and sell drugs at a comparable or higher rate. Police are three times as likely to search the car of a Black person than a White person and Blacks are more likely to be pulled over even though they are not as likely to receive a citation–meaning they were stopped without cause. Additionally, they more often face jail sentences and less frequently get off with community service, a fine, or time served even though they spend more time in jail awaiting trial.
As heartbreaking as these statistics are, we are not simply facing a criminal justice problem. People of Color suffer a disproportionate rate of other injustices as well. 42 percent of Black children 38 percent of Latino children, and 31 percent of Native American children are educated in high poverty schools. Compare that to the 6 percent of white children in high poverty schools. Among students who drop out of school, 47 percent of Blacks face unemployment compared to 26 percent of Whites. The unemployment rate for Blacks with a 4 year degree is 8% while the rate for Whites with similar degrees is almost half that. Finally, America’s homeless population is over 40 percent Black despite being only 11 percent of the general population. Hispanics are 13 percent of the homeless although they are only 9 percent of the population and Native Americans constitute 4 percent of the homeless population while making up just 1 percent of the general population.
Sadly, I am no longer shocked by the vulgar commentary from our 45th president.  I am also not surprised by the behavior of the party who currently controls Congress.  But, despite these very disappointing truths, I am hopeful for my nation. My hope rests in the voices of a new generation of social justice activists, politicians like Joe Kennedy Jr. who as a white man reminded us after the tragedy in Charlottesville that, “We draw strength, not from those who chose silence, but from those who choose to refuse to be silenced.”  And who, just a couple weeks later, when the President slammed the door on DACA, reminded the Speaker and his colleagues in Congress that they have the power to intervene when injustice threatens. Speaking on the House floor Kennedy admonished, “We all suffer when this country breaks its promises, but for our children that cost compounds. They pay the interest on our inaction and our inadequacy. They pick up the piece of the precious things that we broke, the sacred resources we took for granted, and the battles that we were too afraid to fight.”
We cannot afford to be afraid of the battle which looms on the horizon because if we are, if we continue to turn our heads, to look the other way, and to ignore our responsibility then fear and anger and hate will wreck havoc on this nation. The issues that impact race relations in America may be complex but the conflicts which have manifest will never be resolved unless our part in creating them, as white people of privilege, is confronted. Personally, I much prefer the peaceful protest of a bended knee than the ugly confrontation of rioting and war.
Posted by: minnow | September 23, 2017

And in Healthcare News…

Doesn’t it make sense, as in common sense, you know the kind we all hope the people in Washington have, that if the GOP actually thought their bill was an improvement over the ACA they would want the whole country to see it. One would expect them to brag about all it will accomplish. One might even think they would want to carefully walk it through the process of public scrutiny–a thorough review by the Finance Committee, a vigorous debate on the Senate floor, and multiple endorsements from various health organizations. One might hope…

Sadly the current proposal–the Graham-Cassidy Bill–is the polar opposite. The Senate Finance Committee doesn’t have time for a thorough review.  Republicans plan to limit the floor debate to a few minutes. And multiple groups have come out against the proposal, including: the American Medical Association, AARP, Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Cancer Society, a group of bi-partisan governors (including the governors of Alaska and Montana despite the fact both would be exempt from the Medicaid caps), the March of Dimes, and the National Association of Medical Directors (a group that represents all 50 states).

The GOP wants a win.  One of my own state senators sent a form letter reply to my plea that he vote against this proposal. His letter repeated the Republican mantra that under the ACA premiums have gone up and the Republican party wants to fulfill their promise to the American people to repeal Obamacare.  What my senator neglected to acknowledge, and what he would prefer none of us understood, is that the GOP refused to allow premium caps on the ACA and it is the insurance industry–A MULTIBILLION DOLLAR PROFIT ORGANIZATION–which is responsible for increased premiums NOT, I repeat–NOT, the Affordable Care Act.

Individuals in the Republican party are desperate to please their donors. At least part of the thinking of the GOP goes like this–we need to fulfill our promise to our big money donors to provide a tax cut.  We have to find money in the budget to do it.  We just approved a $80 billion dollar increase for the military. We can’t look like we don’t care about the deficit. Oh yeah–Obamacare–we hate that anyway. Here’s what we’ll do.  We’ll pretend we want to give control to the States, throw a chunk of money in a pool, set a date after the 2020 elections for that money to dry up and miracle of miracles our donors have a tax cut and we’ve shoved the problem of healthcare onto the states.

Money buys influence. It’s a sad fact of human nature.  But it shouldn’t have unlimited power within a free society’s political system.  If we don’t want to have to keep fighting the same fight with healthcare over and over again we need to work to change the system.  YES, today you must call your senators, urge them to defeat the Graham-Cassidy Bill and remind them we are watching.  Yes, this is an urgent issue that needs your immediate attention.  Follow this link to find out how to contact your senator or Google his or her name, go to contacts on his or her political website, and get the needed info there. Be brief. Be polite. BUT BE FORCEFUL! If we are going to win the battle for our nation’s soul we must put in the time consuming work. We must be diligent!

So, the above is the solution for the short term.  For the long term–WE MUST HAVE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM! We must organize at the grassroots level and elect people of integrity, people who can’t be bought, people who will work for us and not for corporations. We must become savvy with social media–figure out how to wage the soundbite war.  And we must focus on giving the people a voice. It may take a village to raise a child but it will take the citizenry of every state to reframe the American dream to include ALL AMERICANS.

Posted by: minnow | September 12, 2017

Shoulda Coulda Woulda

As the most qualified person to have ever run for the presidency Hillary Rodham Clinton should have been the unanimous pick. We could have had a smart, capable, compassionate president.  Clinton would have kept favor with our allies and caused concern among our opponents. The EPA would still be protecting the environment. The Department of Education would still be focused on a quality public education. DACA children and Muslim immigrants would still be welcome in our nation. More than 60% of the appointments that should have been made by this point in her presidency would have been made, including the appointments of several key Ambassadors–South Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Geneva, Turkey, and more.

As a feminist, I was more than disappointed by the results of the 2016 election; I was depressed. For months I was depressed. How did we not only NOT elect the most qualified person on the planet but also end up with HIM? Wake me up from this nightmare. Someone, please, explain this to me! …I get it.

But in all honesty Hillary, you and the DNC should have known better.  We all should have known better. You and the DNC were sadly, tragically disconnected from the hearts and minds of the American people. You, and the intellectual, reasonable, comfortable folks on the Left. You–WE–failed to see the anger, not on the part of feminists like yourself and like me who felt it was a woman’s turn, but the anger on the part of the working class Americans who needed someone to understand what was happening to them. For your part, you played by the rules after a life time of having the rules shoved in your face. You met every criteria and then some. But, the game changed without most on the Left realizing it. Waiting your turn was no longer enough. Playing nice was no longer an option. Being more qualified than every single man in the room no longer mattered.

I admit, I haven’t read your book.  I would probably agree with most of it. But, if you blame Bernie Sanders for your loss, you only prove how disconnected from the heart and soul of the American people you still are. Bashing the man who tried to hand you the play book for the new game you found yourself in, is simply sour grapes. I’m sorry being the best wasn’t enough. I can’t begin to understand your disappointment and frustration after years of taking the hits for other people. The whole situation is unfair. It stinks.  But it’s over. The election is over. And we MUST move on. Let history sort out the mess. I can almost guarantee, you will be vindicated.

TODAY–Democrats need to stop looking backwards in order to blame someone for Clinton’s loss. The DNC screwed the Democrats by playing old school politics. Clinton was never going to win just by playing by the rules. That she was the most qualified candidate both when she ran against Obama and when she ran against 45 didn’t matter. Hillary Rodham Clinton had too much baggage, not because she deserved the baggage–SHE DIDN’T–but because the “Good ol’ Boys Club” doesn’t work for women and the GOP and the religious right would rather lock arms with a Nazi sympathizer than let THAT WOMAN win. She was smart.  She was savvy. She adjusted her image like a chameleon. She stood by her man. Nothing that would actually matter received our attention. The Right sold their collective soul and the Left was a deer in the head lights, unable or unwilling to see how the game had changed.

If 2018 or 2020 is going to be any different, Democrats need a makeover! But, it must be more than cosmetic. Sanders, Warren, Booker, Kennedy, and Harris are currently the Democrats strongest voices in Washington. If the Dems want to take back the House and make a run on the Senate in 2018 and 2020 they must listen to these voices. Democrats must get the pulse of the people. And who better to help them with that than Bernie Sanders. They must fight to get big money out of politics. And who better to help them with that than Elizabeth Warren. They must championing younger politicians–men and women, but especially people of color. And who better to help them with that than Cory Booker, Joe Kennedy, and Kamela Harris.

We live in a world of soundbites and memes. Twitter puts the topic on the agenda and Facebook gets the ball rolling. 1000 word blogs and multiple page policy papers might be able to flesh out some details but the fact remains: we now live our lives with 140 characters. The intellectual snobs on the Left must rise to the occasion or plan on writing their shoulda, coulda, woulda swan songs into the apocalypse.  It’s not going to be easy; but it really is that simple.

Posted by: minnow | August 20, 2017

Are You White?

Read this. Read about “Hate that Doesn’t Hide” by Roxanne Gay. It appeared in The New York Times the week after a Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA. Or read this one by Aliyah Frumin and Amanda Sakuma about being a Muslim-American in the aftermath of 9-11. Or this personal narrative from Nick Valencia, a third generation Mexican-American who was told to “go home” by a white woman because he dared to speak Spanish. Read “Native Americans: We’re not your mascot” by Simon Moya-Smith. Until you do, until you decide to educate yourself about the experience of racism in America, until you seek guidance and insight from those most closely impacted by a racist, white America, you have nothing germane to add to the conversation, nothing anyone else needs to hear.

Harsh, you say? Absolutely. It’s about time.

My goal here is not to shame you. Shame tries to hide in the corner. Shame immobilizes. My goal is to ring the alarm, TO WAKE YOU UP! Many of us watched the events in Charlottesville unfold and had the novel experience of being shocked. “That’s not America,” we told ourselves. But the painful reality is–THAT IS AMERICA, the very worst of America to be sure, but America none the less. And, until we are willing to look at that reflection square in the mirror, that truth about who we are, we. will never. change.

Rose Sampley gets it.  Read her post. A young, white woman from the South, she knows removing from the town square a statues of a man who fought to preserve the “right” for one man to own another and who was willing to cede from the Union and declare war on his own country in order to maintain that right, is not the same as rewriting history. In fact, it is just the opposite. It’s correcting the revision of history these monuments have allowed.

For the past century, monuments and parks and schools and roadways carrying the names of Southern traitors and oppressors have served as an ugly reminder to people of color. “We are still here,” they threaten. “If we can’t own you physically, we will still own your mind and the minds of white people.” Until recently, these messages were only repeated in whispers. Saying anything close, at least in public, could be career ending, especially if you were a politician. Yet, even under the cover of politically correct language, the underlying culture of racism and bigotry was built. And it has been carefully–calculatedly–maintained.

By honoring traitors in the public square, by pretending they were brave soldiers defending their families and an idyllic way of life, without acknowledging the immoral brutality of slavery and the growing hatred of racism we camouflaged the truth. The idea we might today feel sympathy for a white nationalist who is fired because of the racist slurs he or she flings at another person, betrays just how deeply our white preferences are entrenched.  Neo-Nazis, the KKK, Vanguard America, and other white supremacist groups promote the removal of people of color (and Jews) from the United States. They claim the U. S. was and should again be a whites only nation. They encourage violence and spew hate. Just because they use their “right to free speech” they do NOT deserve our sympathy. Their words and actions deserve our outrage. Their fabricated myth of what America once was is a lie! And, spewing lies and hate, marching while waving torches, carrying weapons, and chanting Nazi slogans, and threatening others with physical violence should have consequences!

Are you white? Talk to people who aren’t. Ask them tell you their story of race in America. AND LISTEN. Don’t talk back. Hear and try to understand what they have to say. Don’t stop at one conversation. Don’t defend your ignorance of how others have been treated simply because the same words the same gestures have come from you, personally. Decide to be educated and start to observe how others black and brown and white are treated. Begin to wrestle with the fact that while all people may be born equal in America, all people are not treated equally in America.

Posted by: minnow | August 17, 2017

So You Object to the Rewriting of History

And, to the fabricating of truth.

Well, I’m right there with you.  So here are a few HISTORICAL FACTS for those who think the conflict in places like Charlottesville, Baltimore, Helena, and Gainesville is about history, statues, or equally valid points of view:

  • America has never been a pure white nation. Black slaves arrived on our shores in 1619. Spain (Hispanics) had control of what we now call Florida and New Mexico before Europeans landed in Jamestown and in 1691 today’s Texas was a separate Spanish providence. The first Asians landed on our shores around 1750.  And, Native Americans were here before any other people group. Period.
  • The South’s attempt to cede from the Union was an act of treason.
  • Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were not American heroes. They were not great American generals. They do not deserve to be immortalized or honored. They were traitors. Their side lost. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox effectively ended the Civil War. Every single southern state reaffirmed its allegiance to the U. S. Constitution before it was readmitted. The fact Lee was never imprisoned is due to his support of President Johnson’s plans for reconstruction, his vocal approval of the end of slavery, and his original opposition to succession.  Though his citizenship was eventually reinstated, he was never again allowed to vote and some of his property was permanently seized.
  • The descendants of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis have publicly stated  they wish to see the statues of their ancestors removed from the public square and transferred to historical museums where they will be seen in the proper context.
  • History belongs in museums and history books where it can be explained, understood, and a learning tool.
  • And finally, white privilege has less to do with how you treat others than with how you, as a white person, are treated.

If you are white and believe it is time our nation wrestles with the question of race in America you may need to understand your own privilege a bit more before calling yourself an ally. Undoubtedly you do not think you treat others as less than because of the color of their skin, but do you recognize the ways others treat you as more than because of the color of yours? Do you understand how people of color see you in your role as an ally? Did you even consider that question something you should ask yourself?  We must not over advocate on behalf of those society has marginalized. Instead, turn the microphones in our hands over to them. Whenever possible their voices, not ours, need to be heard. So in that spirit, I highly recommend you read and heed these words from Courtney Ariel.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, the question: “What’s wrong with calling out both sides?” has continually received air time. Consider this question as a response, for what reason are you calling out both sides? Every American must understand–one side arrived in Charlottesville intent on abusing our First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly in order to spread their racist propaganda and carry flags of treason under our flag of freedom. The second group showed up like the soldiers on the shores of Normandy to defend American principles of freedom, equality, justice, and truth. Members from one group shouted racial slurs and hate-filled rhetoric, were armed with knives and guns, carried torches as they chanted and marched, and ultimately plowed a car into a group of peaceful protesters, killing one and injuring at least 19 others. The other group defended (some forcefully pushing back against that which both insulted and assaulted) our Constitution, our national heritage, and individual citizens. There is NO MORAL EQUIVALENCY here.  There are NO EQUALLY VALID talking points.

If these words sound judgmental to you–they are! Hatred, Neo-Nazi propaganda, physical aggression, and domestic terrorism deserve nothing short of our harshest rebuke and our absolute refusal to submit or be intimidated! We do not need a declaration from Congress to know the United States is at WAR.  We are fighting for our national soul.

The outcome of this conflict will not be decided by a single battle. Charlottesville was not a lone skirmish. In words most millennials understand, “winter is coming”. We must decide now on which side we stand. Our silence, our vacillating, and our reluctance to get involved paints us with the same brush strokes history painted the German people after World War II. But we. have. no. excuses. because we. have seen it. before.  We must not allow a racist, narcissistic leader bribe us with the promise of economic growth. We cannot allow this evil to snuff out what most of the world once regarded as a shining city on a hill.

Choose.  Choose this day which god you serve–money or freedom, fear or courage, silent self interest and the spoils of war or the unfettered voice of truth and justice.  Choose where you stand and where you fight.  Choose who you stand beside and what you fight for. Ultimately, this war will be won or lost in the hearts and minds of the American citizen. History is being written. Choose yours.

Posted by: minnow | August 15, 2017

No Time for Rose-Colored Glasses

I do not wear rose colored glasses.  I do not tell myself out of ignorance or fear that everything will be alright. I am a realist. At least I thought I was a realist before 45 became our president.  The first 200 days of 45’s presidency have emotionally and mentally overwhelmed me.  I have been depressed and angry and afraid and shocked and confused and rendered helpless, stuck, and agitated ALL AT THE SAME TIME.  Day after day after day a new outrage clamors for our attention, insisting it is more urgent than the problem from the day before. For eight months, saner minds have attempted to sort through the chaos and triage the situation. Yet only one thing is clear–America is in crisis. Immigrants face increased peril. Old people face increased peril. Women face increased peril. People of color face increased peril. Those who identify as LGBTQ face increased peril. The poor face increased peril. Non-Christians and the “wrong kind of Christians” face increased peril. This nation, as a whole, faces increased peril because our democracy and our Constitution are under attack.  We are in danger of being destroyed from within and no one seems to know what to do.  Not since the Civil War have we come so close to self destruction. And even so, the walking out of this evil rampage against our principles, against our institutions, against the very moral fiber of this country, is just getting started.

If you need proof of the evil we face, just look at the events which took place this past week in Charlottesville, Virginia.  If you doubt this truth ask yourself why it took the president two days to condemn by name the KKK, white supremacists, and Neo-Nazis who brought hate and violence to American streets and why few on either the left or the right have expressed surprise or dismay that it took him less than 24 hours to begin to walk his statement backwards.  If you have any questions about the increased threat we as a nation face since this administration and his apologists in Congress lay siege to our democracy ask those who resisted the spread of hate over the weekend in Charlottesville.  Ask the members of Black Lives Matter who were spat on and beaten.  Ask the clergy who attended to the wounded and called false on the anti-semitic and racist slurs chanted by far right “Christian” hate groups. Ask the friends and family of Heather Heyer who was murdered and the 19 others who were intentionally run down while peacefully protesting the presence of the self-righteous white evil in their midst.

In my own state, the debate over the removal of a fountain commemorating the Confederacy and commissioned by the United Daughters of the Confederacy  has brought the issue of racism close to home. Richard Spencer and his mouth piece, The Daily Stormer, already terrorized the peaceful community of Whitefish, Montana last winter. Must we prepare for another onslaught? Will we once again be a target for the Alt-Right?  According to this article, The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Montana as the #1 state with the highest concentration of hate groups in America.  Granted we have wide open spaces and a low population so an argument could be made that the numbers do not represent native Montanans.  Still, Montana is my home and this statistic is alarming.  I want this statistic to be more than skewed; I want it to be non-existent. But, the only way that will happen is if the good people of Montana stand up, speak out, and rid our state of Hate.

In the wake of Charlottesville, many on the left question the wisdom of the direct confrontation of the extremists on the Right.  Instead, they ask, shouldn’t we just ignore them, let them fizzle out, and hold peaceful protests at a later time?  Isn’t non-violent passive resistance a better strategy? While MLK fought racism in the 60’s using such a philosophy, his success was due in part to the fact that those who held office at the federal level were people of high moral character, at least that is the face they needed to show the public.  In this hour, the moral character of our elected officials in Washington is in question.

If truth, equality, and justice are to win the day we must weed out those politicians who have thus far neglected to stand up for every American. We must elect leaders and representatives who are willing to serve their constituents regardless of the party with which they affiliate, the color of their skin, the faith they profess, the gender with which they identify, or the economic status they have achieved. We must be willing to expose deception, advocate for fairness, and defend freedom. And in the end, if we are going to sustain the peace we ultimately desire, we must win the day but we must not become vindictive victors. One of the casualties of this war for the soul of our nation cannot be our moral character or we will have won the war for our enemies.

I will not borrow troubles from an unseen future, but neither will I don a pair of rose colored glasses.  The time to wake up is now. The time to resist is now. The time to take a stand is now. We cannot be ignorant of the specter of hate hanging over our country.  Claims of ignorance no longer hold water.  Racism is not morally ambiguous.  We have no immoral equivalence on the left for the vile rhetoric spewed from the mouths of the Alt-Right–the Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and the KKK. Bigotry ought not be greeted with indifference.  And, hatred should never be shielded by tolerance. 45 may not overtly acknowledge the putrid stench radiating from his base but it permeates through out their ranks and they hail him their hero. Like a rabid animal, racism, bigotry, and hatred must be put down.  This disease must be eradicated before it infects the entire population.

Posted by: minnow | July 13, 2017


He yelled via caps on Facebook.  Honestly, I’d never asked myself that question.  Certainly the majority of people in the world don’t have healthcare as a right.  They live in developing nations where access to healthcare is the issue, never mind the cost. But here, in the US we face a different problem. Cost is the issue.  The majority think it’s too high.  A few, sadly most of whom are the same few who currently hold the power, couldn’t care less.

The ACA gave 20 million people healthcare who otherwise could not afford it.  Some, who already had healthcare, were angry because premiums increased.  People didn’t realize (or were fooled by the rhetoric on the Right) that insurance companies, not the ACA itself, increased those costs. Now, after undermining the success of the ACA, the GOP has come up with an alternative plan.  If you were upset with rising premiums before, just wait.  42 million are at risk of losing healthcare and insurance companies will want to recoup their losses somehow.  Dozens of pre-existing conditions will no longer be covered.  Rates will be connected to age, with seniors losing out.  And while it will be perfectly okay to go without insurance for a time, under the House GOP plan providers will be allowed to charge a 30% fee from those who have a gap in their coverage.  The Senate plan is…well since few have seen it we aren’t sure, but it’s safe to say similar.

The GOP argues equal access–They give everyone access–but as we know access in America isn’t the issue.

In order to distract us from the real problem–HOW MUCH HEALTHCARE COSTS (and why)–supporters of the GOP plan have flooded social media with memes, posts, and stories suggesting we are unreasonable to expect old men to pay for maternity care, or the middle class to pay for poor people who smoke.  Seriously!? Are we really unreasonable to expect insurance to function the way it was designed to function–as a pool of resources that everyone contributes to so those who have need can dip into it when their particular need arises, regardless of what their need is!?

In truth, people do a lot of things which do not serve their best interest.  They eat bacon and highly processed foods.  They drink highly sugared or diet soda.  They don’t get enough exercise.  They put chemicals on their skin to look and smell better. Even though these are socially acceptable behaviors their practice costs us at a health level. Should we calculate the risk factor of each and every thing we do and charge insurance accordingly?  
Have we, as a society, truly come to the place where making sure the “undeserving” don’t benefit from a compassion based system is worth neglecting those in sudden need? If wanting equitable and affordable healthcare for all makes me a bleeding heart liberal, so be it.  I proudly stand on the side that believes a happier, healthier work force is a more productive work force.  I gladly side with those who believe taking care of the weak and vulnerable is a moral imperative and distinguishes us from the Godless. I don’t even mind if you call me a socialist since from what I have seen socialists stand a long side the masses, the working class, those who produce the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and the roofs over our heads.  Healthcare is a right–if we want to claim our faith as a motivating factor for the decisions we make.  Healthcare is a right–if we want to claim justice as a foundational principle.  Healthcare is a right–if we believe America can ever be a great nation. My right to life should not end the minute I was born.
Did you know, it used to be illegal to profit from healthcare? Now it’s a multibillion dollar FOR PROFIT industry. SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE is only one way to help the masses find some degree of stability. But, while we, the people, know the answer getting our current Congress to agree with us is a different story.  The GOP had six years of the Obama administration to come up with the better plan than the ACA (Obamacare).  They couldn’t do it.  Despite all their bravado and bluster the plan they finally rolled out breaks every promise they made to take care of middle class America.  WE MUST FIND AND ELECT REPLACEMENTS for ALL those in Congress who have proven once again they are only interest in representing special interests and the wealthy elite! 
Hold Congress accountable in 2018!
Posted by: minnow | May 14, 2017

Stuck in the Middle

Once again I stand on a seemingly deserted island.  Fundamentalism to the left of me and extreme LGBT advocacy to the right.  I wish I knew how to build bridges, how to blow away the chaff of offense and present the hurt and anger to God so God could saturate the situation with grace and peace, healing and comfort.  The mom who wrote this post agonizes because her religion demands she sever all ties with her son and she thinks she must “turn him over to Satan” in order to comply with what she’s been taught.  The woman who wrote this post thinks the author of the first post is heartless and deserves to be ridiculed, based on what her post does.  To me, both stand lost and clearly in pain.

I do not believe issues like who started it or who is hurting more or even who is right and who is wrong about the fate of the young man in the story have a whole lot to do with what is so grievous about these two posts.  But, let me be clear before I talk about that: the adult son of the first poster has been wronged.  His mother’s rejection of him may have been prompted by her religious conviction, nevertheless those convictions are grounded in a faulty understanding of scripture, an authoritarian manipulation of emotion, and a misguided, if not overtly damaging practice of one’s faith.  She (and supposedly her husband) have harmed a child God placed in their care. I pray the injury can heal and the damage undone, though in all likelihood we will never know how those prayers are answered.

I don’t know the woman who wrote the second post.  I don’t know where she identifies on the gay-straight spectrum.  I don’t know if she’s married, has her own child or children, is supported by her family of origin, or had to manufacture a family from friends because hers rejected her. The words in her post are biting.  I believe they spring from a place of personal pain and not simply empathy for someone else.  Their force has venom and claws and I feel myself recoil when I read them even though I am not their target.  I want to reach out to her, to hold her, and to let her know she’s not alone.  I sense her pain; hurt people so often hurt others. Yet, I also want to stop her, to caution her not to make the same mistake that so offends her.

In part, the second blogger wants to shock the first out of the vegetative state in which her unquestioned belief system has placed her.  I, too, wanted to scream–“Wake up!”  Still, battering those who have been battered rarely gets the results one wants.  In general, a public flogging rarely results in private reflection, though it often makes us better at hiding.  Believe me, I understand the temptation; I have spent far too many arguments parroting tone and words in a desperate attempt to force the person I’m talking with to understand how receiving hateful words feels.  But these battles spiral. The self righteous indignation and vicious retorts returned to me exposed my failure to make the enemy feel my pain.  Sometimes when those who have damaged us are no longer around we take our anger out on others.  Perhaps the mom from the first post is a surrogate for the second.  Whatever the case, I choose to believe her passion stems from a desire to defend a young man who has done nothing to deserve the abusive punishment which has been brought against him.  If this is true, her motives are good even when her methods are unhealthy and unhelpful.

My years under the influence of multiple fundamental Christian fellowships helps me understand the dual agony of the first women as much as my freedom helps me understand the purposes of the second.  A warped version of a once loving religion has manipulated a loving mother into thinking her son must quit being gay if he is to escape hell.  This same religious spirit threatens her own salvation if she shows sympathy toward her son.  It has deceived her into believing rejecting him could somehow lead him to a repentance he doesn’t actually need.   Instead, we–in the Church–are the ones who need to repent.  In countless ways  we have separate ourselves from God. We do so every time we judge, abuse, condemn, and reject others and every time we judge, abuse, condemn, and reject ourselves.

All through the Gospels we witness Jesus opening His arms to others–to those eager to learn, to those hurting and afraid, and to those floundering in the limits of their own thinking.  The New Testament tells us repeatedly to avoid the judgement of others because it will mess us up; we will end up bringing judgment on ourselves. If I am angry at anyone in this whole scenario, I am angry at those who highjacked the Gospel, who have replaced its message of love and hope with fear and condemnation.  The Mother and the Advocate in this story both want to love the man at the center of their posts but they are each blind, unable to see their own salvation in the love of Christ.  What Christ asks of us with His out stretched arms is not easy but love is the answer for both these women, just as it is the answer for us.

Jesus rejected injustice.  He entered the courts of the powerful, denied their authority over His life, and gave Himself up.  He did not quit loving His Father when he sat with sinners, dined with the Pharisees, or broke bread with His disciples. He walked out His love for the Father. We may be guilty of either or thinking but Jesus never was.  “My ways are not your ways,” declared the Lord and He sent His Son to show us what He meant.

Posted by: minnow | May 9, 2017

Demand an Independent Investigation NOW


I have started 5 posts since May 5.  Obviously I haven’t finished any of them yet, but stuff keeps triggering my thoughts. Even so none of it fell in the urgent category so I jotted down a few thoughts and figured I could always come back to it later.  Then today, I hear the President fired the director of the FBI, James Comey, on the recommendation of Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.

Yes, that’s right, the same FBI director who announced his office would reopen its investigation into Clinton’s e-mails 10 days before the election but failed to mention that the GOP candidate and his campaign were also under investigation has been fired.  But that isn’t all.  Just after his confirmation, Sessions, the man who recommended 45 fire Comey, needed to recuse himself from the investigation into the President and his campaign’s involvement with Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. You see, Sessions had met with the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, twice during the 2016 campaign but failed to disclose that information during his confirmation hearings. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?  In fact, if this were a Hollywood movie we’d all be giving the plot a cynical, “Naaaah, come on. We’d never let that sh@# happen.”  And yet, it’s happening.

If the time is ever going to come for politicians to set aside their party differences and–for the security of our nation–demand we hold an independent investigation into Russia’s interference with our election and the President’s knowledge of Russia’s interference, that time is NOW!  Impeachment proceedings were brought against President Clinton for less.  The only other president to fire someone in the middle of an investigation which implicated him was Richard Nixon.  We must call out the President and demand he quit meddling in the cause of justice.

I’ve written both my senators urging that they request an independent investigation.  Now I urge you, let your representatives know you are watching.  Tell them you want action.  Put pressure on Washington by raising the bar of your expectations.  When we unite, we can make a difference.  Democrats and Republicans alike must be warned the electorate is no longer willing to sit idle while Washington ignores our concerns. If they refuse to listen and act on our behalf we will show up at the ballot box and let them know–Americans not Russians, the people not politicians, votes not money run this country.  They have until November 6, 2018 to show us who they represent.

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