Posted by: minnow | October 7, 2018

The Eye of the Storm

I’m told (though having never been in one I must take this information on faith) the eye of a storm is a calm place. From November 9, 2016 until October 5, 2018, I have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions which could not ever have been called calm. One moment I was seething, then depressed, then determined, then crazy, then seething again. Over the last 23 months, I often felt pummeled by massive boulders of despondency or fear or pain. And, after watching the testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh, debating multiple women about the call to blackout profile pictures as a protest against domestic violence, and listening to Susan Collins pledge to vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation on Friday (October 5), I literally felt sick to my stomach. Then Saturday, October 6, 2018, arrived. In a 50-48 vote (one of the closest in the history of the Supreme Court) the Senate voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, a man whose behavior and verbiage during his testimony on September 27 revealed himself to be temperamentally unfit for a seat on the Supreme Court, never mind the actual assault charge leveled against him. Intellectually, I was prepared for Saturday’s vote. After listening to a series of speeches on Friday from several members of the Senate defending their votes, I was all but certain Kavanaugh would be confirmed.

Toward the beginning of summer, before the public knew anything about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations, I posted the phrase “winter is coming” on my Magnetic Poetry Board. I needed a reminder that the People still had power to change the political landscape so I borrowed the saying from the series, A Game of Thrones, as a personal message of hope. Since the 2016 presidential election, I’ve liked and reposted memes like the one accompanying this post as a way of dealing with the onslaught of racist policies and ugly rhetoric perpetrated by this administration and the Majority in Congress.  I have written numerous personal opinion pieces urging my fellow snowflake, liberal, activists to get involved, to speak up and to VOTE.

The government’s lack of compassion and calculated decisions to ignore the reality of other people’s struggle has only become more apparent the farther away from the election we have come. Those of us who were watching during Obama’s presidency already understood 45 was dangerous. We already knew Mitch McConnell was power hungry and controlling. The surprise was how many others lurked in the shadows. Some of us were stunned that the GOP base merely dug in its heels the uglier and more racist, and more misogynistic 45 revealed himself to be. By mocking a sitting senator and former prisoner of war, ridiculing the parents of a fallen soldier, mimicking a disabled reporter, and bragging about kissing and groping women against their will 45 showed us nothing was off limits–the weak were his to bully and despise. His base ate it up. By praising Putin, kissing up to Kim Jong-un, and defending white supremacists as good people the president revealed his true colors. And, while a few fell away, most doubled down on their support, defending his depravity as telling it like it is, national pride, or draining the swamp.

For some, the Sentate’s slap in the face vote on Saturday will be the final rip of the curtain hiding the true nature of the New GOP. Those who have recently awakened will feel an urgency to wake others. A certain momentum will build over the next month leading into the midterm election. I know because I’ve seen it being proclaimed in memes and status updates. But, I do not know if it will be enough. We are fighting an avalanche of curtailed freedom and discarded protections. The gap between those with money and power and those without has only widened over the past decade. In just one month we will learn if enough of us have woken to the menace threatening our Republic from within as well as from without. The New GOP is hoping we haven’t. Today we are poised in the eye of the storm.

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Posted by: minnow | September 30, 2018

Call for Help

Many women are choosing to tell their stories of abuse–domestic violence, date rape, childhood trauma, and workplace harassment. I just want to remind those who are triggered by the events of the past few weeks and the telling of these stories there is help. Please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 if you are feeling vulnerable, if you need a connection that will hear you and don’t have safe places.
That said–I have had more than one experience with sexual assault, unwanted attention, and sexist behavior from authorities. The first time I was 9 or 10. Three older boys took me to a shallow hole dug into a dirt lot in the neighborhood. They threatened to take my clothes off and held me against my will. I was saved because I heard my dad calling for me to come home and the boys let me go because they were afraid of getting caught.
Later, in high school, a friend and I were cruising the strip (driving up and down the same piece of road with a bunch of other kids doing the same thing–yeah that was a thing in the 70’s). I wasn’t supposed to be doing what we were doing and would have gotten grounded if my parents found out. We picked up a couple boys my friend thought were cute and drove to a well known “parking” spot. What was I expecting? Right? Not what I got. I thought boys would take no for an answer when they went to far. I literally had to kick him off me. My friend and I never talked about it. I remember seeing Barney at school off and on and feeling unclean every time I did. Luckily I went to a large school and he was a year or two ahead of me so I didn’t have to see him every day.
My experience with Barney was an education I did not know I needed. He taught me to be afraid, to monitor my behavior and the messages (intended or not) that I sent others, and he began a life long lesson: that I would rarely be safe unless I was willing to hold myself in check in multiple ways men never needed to.
The final story I will share here, while not my last or even most obviously abusive experience, is actually one which dramatically changed the trajectory of my life. At the end of my sophomore year in college I was sitting in my advisor’s office trying to plan out the next two years of school. I needed to decide where a semester in DC would fit best. Out of the blue my advisor said to me, “Some day you are going to make a great politician’s wife.” It was 1979. In my mind, women were supposed to have equal rights, equal opportunities, equal futures. I’d been raised by my mother to believe there was nothing I couldn’t do if I put in the work to do it. I didn’t want to be some politician’s wife–I wanted to be the politician. My goal was to go to law school, get into politics and become a senator. Yet this man–who was my advisor, who was supposed to have my best interests in mind, who’d had me in class and who had picked me as a freshman along with three other students to accompany former President Ford at a dinner and be a part of the escort to his campus address–was now telling me the greatest achievement he envisioned for my life was as some man’s wife. I left his office and never returned. I never took another political science class, never went to DC or law school, and never became a politician.
I do not know why I let his comment derail my dreams. That I did is on me. That his thinking was so narrow and that he likely said similar things to his other female advisees is on him. Now, almost 40 years later, the fact that women are still hearing such messages from men, still feeling shame because men don’t like to hear no or STOP, still needing to be hyper-vigilant with regard to the physical danger of assault from men IS ON ALL OF US.
Posted by: minnow | September 27, 2018

There Once Was a Judge

“What boy hasn’t done this in high school?”

My three sons. My nephew. The two sons of one of my closest friends. The one son of another friend. And the two sons of yet another. In fact, most of the boys I have had the pleasure of teaching, have invited into my home, and have watched grow into fine young men did not behave that way in high school or at any other time in their lives. MOST boys do not shove a girl into a bedroom, do not push her down on a bed, do not cover her mouth in order to muffle her screams, and do not try to undress her against her will. MOST boys do NOT sexually assault young girls. MOST 17 year olds do NOT attempt to rape 15 year olds. And for ALL OUR DAUGHTERS’ SAKE, if your son does engage in this kind of behavior he ought to face the consequences of his actions. He ought to be removed from your home, stripped of his freedom, and pay the price for the CRIME he’s committed because sexual assault and attempted rape are crimes. Even if you’re only in high school, even if you have a promising future ahead of you, even if you’re drunk–assault and attempted rape are CRIMES.

How can we trust Christine Blasey Ford’s version of events? Being assaulted and nearly raped is a traumatizing event. It stays with you for the rest of your life, EVEN if the perpetrator can’t remember it. Ford not only knew and named the perpetrator, she named a witness. She related the details of this event to a private counselor years before the perpetrator was tapped as a Supreme Court nominee. She disrupted her life and the lives of her family–they’ve had to move and go into hiding–in order to bring forth this information. Her risks of being re-traumatized, of being newly villainized, and of losing security have all increased. Yet she still came forward. We can believe her because others are coming forward, others who know Brett Kavanaugh is no Boy Scout. We can believe her because officials report that fewer than 2% of women who report sexual assaults make false claims. We can believe her because she has much more to lose than she has to gain.

Still, even if you do not believe her, which is your right, take care in how you voice your opinion. You can repeat Judge Kavanaugh’s denial as much as you like but you do not have a right to offer up alternative narratives. I was appalled when I heard the group of Republican women defend Kavanaugh’s actions. I found it offensive when one suggested sexual assault and attempted rape are normal–to be expected behavior–from teenage boys. But the worst part about listening to these women, for me, was imagining their daughters listening to their mothers. One woman made up a whole senario about Ford’s possible motives. Another suggest Ford’s goal was to ruin Kavanaugh’s life after Randi Kaye, the interviewer, pointed out the damage being done to Ford. And then–each. one. agreed. the TRUTH DIDN’T MATTER. Even if Kavanaugh sexually assaulted and attempt to rape Ford, in their minds, he still deserved a seat on the highest court in the land. I could not look my daughters in their eyes if I had just said their sexual assault and attempted rape should not get in the way of some man’s promotion, that their safety was less valuable than his future, and that their pain was just part of being female–assault something to be expected.

Predatory behavior is NOT normal human behavior! The idea that some women believe it is, and are willing to tolerate it, literally makes my skin crawl. Yet, we are not just talking about the handful of women who sat down for an interview with CNN. We are not just talking about a group of old white men desperate to keep control and keenly focused on stopping women from reaching equality. We are talking about sexist attitudes and behavior that are deeply entrenched in our society, so deeply entrenched we barely notice. When, for example, did you last turn off a television commercial or organize a boycott because a woman’s body was being used to sell a product? Never, you say. Yeah, I thought as much.

It may sound like I am angry at all men. I assure you I am not. But, I am angry at some of you. And I do believe that you all must advocate for change. As a whole society, we must come to terms with the fact that we allowed these hostile attitudes toward women to permeate our culture. And, unless we actively work to rewrite the narrative society will continue to paint women as less than men–less capable, less worthy, less valuable.

Thursday, September 27, 2018, Christine Blasey Ford is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about what happened to her 30 plus years ago when she was only 15. In an unusual move, the committee has called in outside counsel to ask the questions of Ford and Kavanaugh which goes against Fords specific request though she still plans to testify. My thoughts will be with her. I cannot imagine being in her shoes. Though some Senators have already stated that her testimony does not matter to them; they plan to confirm him regardless, I pray the country does not share their attitude. I pray this situation, the sickening stance of some senators and of the current administration, increases our resolve to fight for women’s rights. I pray we take courage from the women who demand to be heard and who deserve to be respected. I pray we work for justice and for change. I pray we wake up, speak out, and act. And I pray we will elect people who will lead this fight.

 

Posted by: minnow | September 16, 2018

World View: the White Lens

I recently has a FB discussion with someone I didn’t know. It began about the economy but as soon as I suggested that the economy was not as “great” for others as it might be for most white men, I was accused of bringing race into a discussion that didn’t need to be about race. When I asked why race shouldn’t be part of the discussion I was accused of being a divisive liberal. When I suggested the individual was refusing to understand the ways racial discrimination impacts over a third of the population, the conversation deteriorated further. Soon after that, I was accused of reverse discrimination and told I knew nothing about the person to whom I was talking, neither of which were true.
Bold statement I know, but hear me out. I admit I did not know personal data about the person I was engaged with, though I could probably have visited his FB page and found out a few things, but that information wasn’t actually germane to the conversation. What I needed to know, since I wasn’t planning to have an on going relationship with the guy, I gleaned from what he said and how he said it. Based on his own statements and the way in which he wanted to direct our dialogue I actually discerned quite a bit. For example, from his statement: “Every AMERICAN deserves a voice.” I understood he thought he was being inclusive. Yet as soon as I suggested for some segments of the population (people of color) more than for other segments of the population (white men) the economy was not only not “Great” it was getting worse I was expanding the parameters of the conversation. By the end of the conversation the only reason I could get from him for why it didn’t belong in the conversation is because HE–a young white man–wasn’t talking about race; HE was talking about the economy; and I–a whining liberal, like all the other snowflake liberals–only play the race card because the economy is so good we can’t call it bad (or criticize the President, or be divisive, or hate on white men) any other way.
Yeah, I kind of lost it. I told him, “You say ‘every AMERICAN’ but then insist that YOUR experience, not the experiences of EVERY American, be the only plume line allowed in a conversation. YOU aren’t discriminated against so nobody else should bring race into the discussion. YOU don’t want to look at it, because YOU don’t think it’s pertinent, because YOU, YOUR voice, YOUR experience, YOUR agenda, YOU–a relatively young white man–are THE lens through which everyone else must see the world because that’s the only view YOU are willing to discuss.” Needless to say, he didn’t start listening to me.
The problems we face are multifaceted because we are a diverse people. The group who has current control of the Republican party and has taken over our government is unwilling, if not incapable, of looking at or wrestling with the complexity of these issues. When 45, a bold, somewhat crass, authoritarian, shouted at his rallies that he was going to drain the swamp, that he wanted to lock her up, that he was going to get things done, and he would return us to a time when America was Great, he was not talking about getting rid of government corruption, seeing that law breakers would be punished, or that more people, not fewer, would have a seat at the table. The corruption the Right is worried about has little to do with “law and order” but a whole lot to do with the order of society. 45, the current GOP, and the Religious Right want to return to a time when white men sat at the top and all others, including “their” white women, serviced them. Hillary Clinton was “corrupt”, not because she broke any written law but because she is a woman and dared to expect to be seen as an equal. President Obama was “corrupt” not because of his policy or politics but because as a Black man he actually showed himself to be morally and intellectually equal, if not superior, to the white men with power, certainly the white man currently in the White House. 
You really want to end the divisiveness in this country? Try to intentionally look at the problems we face through someone else’s lens–a woman’s, a person of color’s, a person of a different faith, age, or sexual orientation. Those who are NOT systematically discriminated against do not get to cry “reverse discrimination” just because those who face discrimination every day of their lives demand the same rights, the same control over the conversation, the same seat at the power table as the people in power already have.
Posted by: minnow | September 1, 2018

A Nation Divided Cannot

We must stop judging the success of this administration by how well the wealthiest 1% are doing, economically. The stock market and our productivity don’t tell the full story. And, until recently has never been the single standard by which Americans judged themselves or the world judged Americans. If we truly believe in America–the American ideal AND the American dream then other things matter more than wealth.

If we embrace the notion of that city on a hill, first preached about by John Winthrop and later resurrected by President Kennedy, than we need to look to what makes (at least until recently) this nation a beacon of welcoming light. The integrity of those in power and opportunity for the masses must once again become our country’s plum line. Human rights matter. Equality matters. Hard working Americans matter. Healthcare matters. The environment matters. A living wage for everyone matters. Curbing gun violence matters. Our relationships with our allies matter. Truly holding despots and dictators accountable for their heinous actions throughout the world matters.

YES, we have division in this country. We have moved away from a debate over ideas and methods to childish name calling. Instead of wrestling with problems we agree we face, we have begun to question one another’s motives for even bringing up those issues. In this decline of discourse both sides have played a role and both sides–independently–must change the tenor of the debate if they want to regain the trust of the American people.  HOW we talk to one another has changed and all who truly believe in the the city on the hill must seek a return to civil discourse and reject the yipping and yapping from the toothless mutts of petty prattle and ignorant moaning. Our nation is divided ONLY when we give in to fear and lazy rhetoric. When we chose to work together we build railroads, eradicate Polio, and fly to the moon. We cannot afford to lose sight of our true strength–the diversity of our ideas which emanate from a myriad of voices. We are divided about this truth only when those in power think holding on to their power is more important than our nation’s integrity. For them personal power is more desirable than freedom, equality, and a true Republic. And ALL patriotic Americans, on both sides of the aisle must resist their influence.

Those who follow power brokers either hope to benefit from their loyalty or have been brainwashed by fear and the pain of their own poverty and hopelessness. The latter have been fed the lie that sameness–sameness of faith, sameness of culture, sameness of skin color, sameness of class–equals safety. And, they are unwilling (or unable due to sheer weariness of spirit) to consider a different way.

As a Christ follower I am dismayed. By continuing to support this administration and those currently controlling Congress, the religious right has sold its soul. It has forfeited any rights to proclaiming “Christian values”. It has used the carrot of overturning Roe V Wade or undoing Marriage Equality as a means to maintain loyalty among their minions. Yet, the only way either of those things happen is if unqualified judges, nominated by a unscrupulous president, is forced onto the Supreme Court by a morally corrupt Republican Congress. And, what is actually gained? Abortion levels are already below what we experienced prior to the passing of Roe V Wade. The only “gains” here will be an increase in maternal mortality rates, an increase in the female prison population, a black market abortion industry, and an up-tick in child neglect and abandonment due to greater poverty. Before the Supreme Court decision about marriage equality in 2015, 36 states already passed marriage equality laws. Those state laws won’t be undone because the Supreme Court is packed with patriarchal pharisees who follow mammon while proclaiming Christ.

As the Church, we should be focused on advocating for the other. The widow and orphan (James 1:27), the homeless and imprisoned (Matt. 25:34-36) should cause us to pray, not for our safety but for theirs. And, we should pray with our hands and feet in service to mend the brokenhearted and restore their souls. The foreigner in our land should be treated like our brothers (Lev. 19:34) not like a threat to our way of life. If Church leaders were truly promoting Christian values we would be encouraged every Sunday morning to share what we have with the “other” in our path whether it be goods, services, or merely a smile. Our goal would be to build bridges, not walls.

Do not let the Power brokers preach to you about division because their version of what divides us demands loyalty to power–their power–and fear of change and growth and hope and dreams. To survive is not enough. When we work together, when we help one another, we can thrive.

You, my friends, can make a difference. Register. Get your friends to register. And VOTE. Vote out the racism, sexism, and obstructionism. Vote out fear. Vote out the greedy. Vote out hate. Vote out those who are supported by big money. Vote out those who do-nothing, who have done nothing for years, who pad and protect their personal bank accounts at the expense of the people they are supposed to represent. Change the face of Congress in 2018 and rid this nation of the leeches who currently hold power, the saboteurs intent on giving our democracy away to the highest bidder.

Posted by: minnow | August 5, 2018

Freedom

Without truth we can have no freedom.

Without freedom we can know no truth.

Separating the concepts of truth and freedom is impossible. Our founding fathers knew this and included protection for a free press in the Bill of Rights.

The following tweet from 45 is incredibly dangerous. It attempts to undermine a founding principle of our democracy by offering ignorant people a lie to justify their ignorance.

The only division a free press can cause is between truth and falsehood. The only distrust a free press can conjure is between right and wrong. The only war a free press will bring about is the war waging at this very moment for the integrity of our country. This president, his administration, and the Republicans in Congress who continue to support and shield him from justice are the true Enemies of the People because they would rather have the American people believe a lie than face the real cause of division and distrust in this country. 45 continues to lie, deflect, distract, and stir up anger, fear, and hatred at every turn, just like he is doing with this tweet. He has made over 4000 documented false or misleading statements since taking office. Even 45’s beloved FOX News has called him on the carpet for lying.

To battle the slanderous onslaught of lies the free press needs to set some serious boundaries and which shouldn’t just come from those specific outlets under attack. Every reputable news agency should set these boundaries. First, avoid live broadcasts of 45’s ego rallies. If nothing new happen, report only that it happened. 45’s rallies are not news. Don’t continue to reprint his tweets as if they are news. They are not. We all already know 45 throws tantrums. It is time to move on. Run fact checking tickers at the bottom of the screen every time the president, one of his representatives, or some other politician (so as not to be partisan) speaks. Continue to ask the tough questions and back one another up if your colleague does not get a legitimate answer. Back up what you report (fact check yourselves) and keep reporting the truth. Finally, avoid name calling and don’t use labels which are triggering. Real journalist must hold themselves to a higher standard.

We already know those who continue to support the current administration, those with power, as well as the adrenalin junkies who get off on his vitriol and chest thumping and are so easily influenced by the mob mentality, will not be dissuaded from their stance. Greed and hatred are their plum line and it is not the job of the press to give them any more time to spew their poison. The people who need a free press are those who have been harmed, those who need to be awakened, and those who stand for freedom. The battle lines must be drawn accordingly.

 

Posted by: minnow | August 1, 2018

What’s the Big Deal?

Most people have debt. It might be a house mortgage, credit card debt, medical bills, a car loan, or school loans. And, most people manage. Before 45 took office, the GOP howled about the National Debt. Despite completely turning the economy around the GOP pelted President Obama for the size of the debt. And it was true. It did grow. Under President Obama the debt rose by 68% or $7.917 trillion dollars. Meanwhile, in the first six months after 45 took office the National debt fell by $102 billion dollars. But, let’s give credit where credit is due. The incoming president doesn’t actually impact the the budget or the debt until the new fiscal year which begins in September. So this relatively small decrease in the national debt was actually on President Obama’s watch signaling the completion of the recovery from the recession Obama inherited. Under our new President, the deficit has actually risen from the $19.9 trillion he started with to over $21 trillion as of March 15, 2018. During the time the debt fell we actually had a debt ceiling. The increased debt was made possible because the current administration raised the debt ceiling, and then suspended the debt ceiling altogether until 2019.

So, the United States is in debt–what’s the big deal?

With personal debt most people are able to meet or exceed their minimum payments and slowly pay down what they owe. The goal is to get out of debt completely, having benefited from the taking on of (temporary) debt with a good education, better health, or property which increases in value. Even in the case of credit card debt, if paid off monthly individuals can establish themselves as a good credit risk should they want to borrow money later for a bigger purchase. Being a good credit risk can mean the interest you are charged on money you borrow is kept lower, ultimately resulting in you paying less for what you borrow.

Still, what’s the problem with debt? Becoming a poor credit risk–not paying off your debt and causing lenders to think you might never be able to pay it off–causes lenders to be reluctant to give you a loan. When they do, the interest on the loan increases which in turn costs you more for the privilege of borrowing. The world bank believes a country is in trouble (a poor credit risk) if their debt to gross domestic production (GDP) goes above 77%.The US debt to GDP ratios for 2017 was 105.2%.  In other words, according to world bank standards the US is in trouble.

The news has been full lately of stories about how Social Security and medicare need to be reformed. The GOP would have us believe these programs contribute to the national debt and cost taxpayers money. UNTRUE. The fact is, these programs take in far more than they put out. And, while retiring baby boomers are slowing changing the workers to retirees ratio both programs still pay for themselves. The problem is Congress has borrowed heavily from Social Security and Medicare–to the tune of $3 trillion plus–and hasn’t figured out how to pay back what they owe. The need for reform is a false narrative designed to distract from GOP greed and mismanagement.

The GOP solution begun under Ronald Reagan–give more money to the people at the top–hasn’t worked and isn’t likely to start. Instead, we need to rebuild a strong middle class.  This will broaden the tax base but even more importantly, it will expand the consumer base. In order to accomplish this, the tax burden must shift toward those who can most afford it and away from the middle class which has been shouldering it since the famous Reagan tax cuts. Under President Reagan the national debt increased $186% and the middle class began to shrink. We must reverse both those trends if the US economy is ever going to thrive again.

Ultimately we, the taxpayers, are responsible for the national debt. We need to understand what causes it, what can decrease it, and what we need to do to guarantee it doesn’t harm us more than it already has. We need to get money out of politics. We need a Congress which is responsible to all the people not merely their donors. We need problem solvers, innovators, and fact based thinkers. But first, we need you to find these people, champion these people, and elect these people. Midterms are only three months away.

 

 

 

Posted by: minnow | July 20, 2018

Actions Speak Louder than Words

One lesson repeated throughout my childhood was the adage: actions speak louder than words. And given how many words my family could speak, discussing issues and ideas at the family dinning table, that was saying something. Monday (7/16) the world watched as our President, with jaw dropping indifference, sided with Russia against the United States, threw our intelligence community under the bus, discarded our allies, abandoned our foundational principles of sovereignty, liberty, equality, and justice, all to defend his electoral win. Even 45’s own advisors were shocked: what the world heard is not what they planned for him to say. Immediately certain Republicans distanced  themselves from the President, including Montana’s Republican Senator and Congressman (despite having campaigned with his earlier in the month) as well as Democrat Senator Jon Tester. (Tester’s Republican opponent for the November election, on the other hand, stood by 45).

Once home from the Helsinki summit, the President began to “clarify”. Evidently (after realizing the outrage that had risen up against him) he “misspoke”, meant “wouldn’t” when he said would, was confused by the “double negative”. I personally call BS. But, even setting aside his direct statement clearing Putin of culpability, the sum total of what 45 said during the press conference made crystal clear: our president has no intension of holding the Russians responsible for meddling in the 2016 election. Remember, back in May 45 eliminated a key position which was responsible for monitoring cybersecurity and defending against hacks and further attacks against free and fair elections. Actions speak louder than words.

45’s back peddling was clearly a play to his base which in the past has been more than willing to accept his version of events. If 45 said his talks with Kim Jong-un were substantive, they were. If 45 says Russia didn’t do it, they didn’t. If he says he misspoke, they do not even care about what or when–it was an innocent mistake. Whether it’s greedy self interest or ignorant bigotry keeping them loyal, they are his, just as obviously as 45 is Putin’s. Regardless of the loyalty of 45’s base, no question exists within the minds of our intelligence community, our allies, most members of Congress, and all who have NOT abandon our national integrity for political or personal gain, that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. When Mueller’s investigation concludes we will know to what extent. We will also find out if any Americans aided and abetted–colluded–with Russia.

45’s Helsinki summit woes don’t end with siding with Putin against the US Intelligence community, he also agreed to consider letting Russian intelligence interrogate Americans, including a former ambassador to Russia. To understand how out of line such an idea is, the US Senate immediately voted 98-0 against Putin’s proposal. In other words, even senators, who up to this point seemed to think 45 could do no wrong, refused to consider Putin’s proposal which 45 called “an incredible offer”.

Was 45’s behavior at the Helsinki summit treasonable? You might think so based on the memes, posts, and articles plaster all over social media. But social media is not a court of law. We must be patient. whether or not there is even an investigation currently depends on the 51 Republican senators and 236 Republican representatives who currently control Congress. They have the power to hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and draw up resolutions of censure. They can give Robert Mueller the time and resources he needs to continue his investigation. They can also work to assure any additional interference is exposed and rendered ineffective. Thus far they have seemed reluctant to do much. And their inaction speaks louder than words.

On the other hand,, if Congress continue to do-nothing we, the voters, can act. The 2018 elections are a little more than three months away. The question of 45’s loyalty between Russia or the United States is not the only issue on the table, though it ought to be the most important. But if for some reason you think the whole Russia thing is just the Left and the Right trying to play political football, then set it aside. Get registered and vote because of what has been happening to families at our southern border. Get registered and vote because Congress gave tax breaks to the wealthy who used their new wealth to buy back stock and become even more wealthy rather than increase wages for their workers. Get registered and vote because Congress has destabilized the ACA and millions more people are now without healthcare. Get registered and vote because Congress has undone the safeguards put in place in 2008 when banks were deemed too big to fail and now they are even bigger and the consumer is unprotected. Get registered and vote because jobs continue to pour out of the country.

The point is, the biggest change that can happen is if our actions speak louder than our words. If we don’t like what we see in politics, if we don’t like what’s happening in our country we can complain or even protest. BUT actions speak louder than words. Change is up to us so–get registered and VOTE.

 

Posted by: minnow | July 7, 2018

What It Is and What It Isn’t

Over the last few months I’ve been having on going conversations with my son (a millennial) as well as others via FB about the state of our Nation. When I comment on certain posts I’m told–you really need to stop tone policing (only not quite so politely). When I comment on other posts I’m told–you’ll never reach the folks on the sidelines by being mean to the folks on the Right (only not that politely, either). Frankly, I feel damned if I do and damned if I don’t.  I tried to explain, in my I Will Be Civil post the difference I see between justifiable protest and uncivil rhetoric. My son didn’t buy it. I tried to explain to my more vocal and angry friends on the Left that name calling and vulgarity are counter productive. But, rather than seeing their “jokes” and posts, actions and comebacks as equally bad, they call it Karma or a “taste of their own medicine”. And so it goes–a tit for tat merry-go-round–cue obnoxious music.

ARGH!

I understand the frustration of those on the Left who have actual skin in the game. Particularly POC who deal with racist political and social systems every day of their lives. I am beginning to understand the wear and tear on a person’s confidence, hope, and trust that correcting the barrage of false messages and carrying the weigh of oppressive policies, systems, and attitudes, has on an entire group as well as the individuals within the group. The oppressed should not need to wait patiently for the rest of us to wake up. They should not be expected to quietly educate the obtuse and uninspired. And they most certainly should not have to be deferential to their oppressors.

Yet, those of us who have been asleep, who are just now coming out of our slumber, sound (especially to POC, and other marginalized voices) like we are insisting they continue to be nice, wait patiently, and stay in line. I’m sorry. Truly I am. I wish we’d get our acts together faster. People with skin in the game have every right to vocalize their unwillingness to be treated as less than or ignored completely. They have every right to be angry and refuse to be silenced. They have every right to mobilize, to protest, and to demand change. To people with skin in the game I say this: no matter what you say or how you say it, no matter what you do or how you do it, I doubt its intensity could ever match the injustice and pain you have endured. And so, if your actions or your words extend beyond my ability to collaborate, I will watch you, listen to you, and try to hear you. And, I will defend your character rather than condemn your spirit. That is the best I can offer.

As for those who remain in the middle–the uninspired, the cynical, the not yet woken. I get it. You have watched a system that hasn’t worked, that favors the few and privileges white, male, and wealthy. For some of you it isn’t just a question of the marginalized and minorities. The gluttonous greed of the politically powerful is at odds with your ideals of sustainability, freedom, and global well-being. Like the flower children of the 60s and early 70s you rather drop out than sell out. You don’t buy in to the dog eat dog mentality that drives our capitalistic society. Many of you deem the currant political structure as hopelessly broken and not worth saving.

The only problem is–if what we have fails to protect us from what is coming we will not have the luxury of a self imposed simpler life style.

If I could summarize what I’ve heard my son say it would be this: 1).Attacking people makes you look small. 2). They certainly don’t deserve any more air time, so why waste your time by giving it to them? 3). By engaging with 45’s supporters, or even raging at them, you end up validating them. And 4). If we want to be problem solvers, if we want to encourage those who are disengaged from politics to re-engage tell the middle what’s wrong, not who’s wrong. Or better yet, champion a solution they can embrace. 

To my activist friends on the Left–We have no guarantees that advocating FOR something will get the attention of the middle but we’re pretty much guaranteed blaming and deflecting, name calling, and and whining won’t get this ship we call the American Dream heading in a better direction. We need to decide what we are willing to fight for and what we’re willing to do to get it.

What and who I am fighting against is diametrically opposed to who and what I am fighting for. So in November, I will vote for Senator Jon Tester and Kathleen Williams. TESTER works tirelessly for Montana farmers and educators. He has championed reforms in the VA to better serve our vets. He isn’t afraid to meet with his constituents and he isn’t afraid to stand up to 45–even when the president promises to get even. Proving he can work across the isles, Tester supported limited deregulation of banks and credit unions so “too big to fail” would not have “too small to succeed” consequences. WILLIAMS believes in honest stewardship of our public lands and natural resources. She’s aware of the need for Montana jobs but doesn’t think we’re facing an either or situation when it comes to making a living and being able to live. She fought for healthcare reform in the Montana legislature and will continue that fight at the national level. Both these candidates, Jon Tester and Kathleen Williams, live by Montana values. They work hard. They love their families. And, they respect Montanans for their grit, courage, family loyalty, love of the land, and fierce independence. Montana deserves no less!

 

Posted by: minnow | July 4, 2018

Due Process

The meme below showed up in my FB feed the other day.

The tweet Rep. Lieu refers to is the one below from, of course, 45.

For FAR too many people 45’s proposal sounds like a GREAT idea. Cut through the red tape. Send “those people” back where they belong.

The trouble is, the second we throw out Due Process for ONE we have thrown it out for ALL.

Let me illustrate. A wealthy land owned lives next door to you. He has his eye on a quarter section of your family’s farm, a farm that has been in your family for generations. Everyone in town knows that’s the old XYZ place. Your neighbor makes you an offer but you won’t sell. It’s where  your oldest boy plans to build his home someday. It has a lovely grove of trees, access to a stream. Heck, that pasture stays green all summer. It’s prime grazing land. One evening there’s a knock on your door. You answer. It’s ICE. You’re confused. The officers asks for your name and you give it to them. Immediately you’re told to turn around and put your hands behind your back. There must be a mistake. They ask your name again. You tell them, again. No mistake. They proceed to take you and your family into custody. You begin to object. But, there’s been a report of an illegal immigrant fitting your name and description living at this location. You admit to being that individual. BUT, you scream, you’re not illegal. You’re a natural born citizen. Your family has farmed this land for generations. Everyone in town can testify to that. You’ve got a birth certificate for goodness sake, right here in the file cabinet. You can PROVE everything you say. It doesn’t matter. There’s been a report that you are an illegal alien. And, well, illegals don’t have Due Process any more. There’s no one available for you to prove anything to. A few months later, after you and your family have been put in jail or deported to God knows where, your wealthy “neighbor” buys your entire farm at auction for a fraction of what he offered to pay you for that single quarter section.

Impossible! Think again.

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

This section of our Constitution is the only thing that stops the government, or those acting under the authority of the government, from taking advantage of US citizens. By offering a means of recourse to those who are not US citizens we guarantee protection to all those who are US citizens. Without the Due Process clause nothing would stop the fictional story above from becoming a reality. All it would take is a person with means and no personal integrity.

 

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