Posted by: minnow | January 31, 2019

But It’s Murder!

New York state recently passed The Reproductive Health Act. Even before I knew about the specifics of the law or that New York had passed something, I could tell a controversy was unfolding. My FB feed was inundated with pictures of preterm babies, tiny footprints, Bible quotes, and screaming faces captioned with self-righteous slogans or carrying a variety of judgmental posters. A couple hours later the other side rallied. Suddenly I saw women marching is pink hats, ugly pictures of Justice Kavenaugh, and more placards with different self-righteous slogans.

The New York law has been deemed a barbarous late term abortion bill by the screamers on the right. Those on the left seem to think humanity has finally been drug kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. But, the reason the law is labeled a reproductive health act is because it actually focuses on health–both the health of the woman and the health of the baby. It gives power to those most intimately involved and the ones most medically qualified to make these particular healthcare decisions.

I have been anti abortion and pro choice my entire life. If a friend came to me for counsel about an unplanned pregnancy I would encourage her to follow through with her pregnancy–even if it meant delaying school, missing a career opportunity, or being rejected by her family. I would not beat her up with moral platitudes, guilt her into compliance, or threaten her with a future I have no right to predict. Ultimately, I would respect whatever decision she makes because she alone must live with the consequences of her decision, which ever way she chooses.

The specifics of the New York law, seem to have gotten lost amid all the virtual shouting. This law is NOT a blanket right to an abortion regardless of the gestation date. Thus the hyperbole on the right is neither accurate nor helpful. It does reaffirm New York State’s commitment to women’s health, privacy, and equality but not without parameters. Under this law abortions are legal after 24 weeks ONLY in the absence of fetal viability outside the womb or when the patient’s life or health is at risk. I find it a sad commentary on our society that these criteria need to be spelled out in a law, that a doctor and his or her patient are not automatically allowed to assess a medical situation and proceed according to their expertise.

Among the posts responding to New York’s law and the radical right’s outrage, I read several accounts from women who shared heart wrenching stories. Some needed to spend thousands of dollars and leave their circles of support in order to travel across state lines so they could receive medical care. Why? Because short-sighted legislatures in their own states took the right to certain procedures away from them . Rather than allow doctors to make medically sound decisions on a case by case basis, politicians felt justified in using religion rather than science to determine a woman’s health needs.

I find it disturbingly voyeuristic that anyone outside of those directly involved thinks it his or her “right” to intrude, or even have an opinion on these rare abortion situations. Shame on all the self-righteous megaphones for a god that they have made in their own heartless image. Such ignorance is hurtful. And the slanderous name-calling of these individuals which accompanies the right’s ignorance can be crushing to already grieving people.

In one FB conversation I had since New York passed its Reproductive Health Act, the most prolific poster was determined to back choice advocates into a corner. He figured if he could make us admit that life begins at point X, we would be forced to agree outlawing abortion beyond that point is justified. To his way of thinking, all abortion would then be murder and murder is wrong. While I concede that taking a viable human life is wrong and that most early abortions end the lives of potentially healthy babies, I am still unwilling to treat the issue of abortion in such a cut and dry manner. As a society we rarely look at situations as binary absolutes and certainly not in cases of life and death.

Few people can legitimates say they abhor the taking of life in every situation. For instance, though individuals may disagree, as a society we seem very willing to accept a certain number of deaths as a necessary component of war and war as a necessary component of society. Even civilian deaths or casualties due to “friendly fire” are deemed acceptable by society at large. As another example, 30 states still have the death penalty on their books, despite the possibility of wrongful convictions. Even the crime of murder is nuanced–1st degree, 2nd degree, manslaughter, self-defense, for which punishments vary or are non-existent. And of course, we also have accidental deaths in which the perpetrator is often seen as a second victim. “But, abortion is a choice.” And, “Babies have no way to defend themselves.” Yes, yes I know. And if I could I would take every single woman who faces this decision and feels there is no other option for her into my home and into my heart. If I could, I would, but I cannot so neither can I judge her. Women facing an abortion do NOT make their decisions lightly despite what the religious righteous want the rest of us to believe.

Here are the statistical facts: Abstinence only sex education fails to reduce abortions. Defunding organizations like Planned Parenthood fails to reduce abortions. Limiting access to birth control fails to reduce abortions. These policies supported by Republicans and the religiously self-righteous are morally reprehensible and counter productive if our goal is to reduce the number of abortions in this country. Making more criminals by making abortion illegal might make you feel morally superior to the rest of us but it is NOT the best way to reduce abortions.

 

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Posted by: minnow | January 23, 2019

Grief

“I am weeping for the nation I thought I knew, and loved.” This comment from, Bob Hargreaves, appeared on a Facebook thread toward the end of last year. In one sentence, Hargraves’ words capture how I have felt since the 2016 presidential election. My nation, this place I love, has a terminal illness, a pervasive cancer for which it has been treated on numerous occasions but which has never been completely eradicated. For me, November 8, 2016 began to expose just how sick we are.

Some may think my statement a tad melodramatic, that I need to get over myself, count my blessings, and focus on what’s right with the world, and with our country–take the economy for example…But I cannot.

Hargreaves lament is one of grief, a profound sadness that I share because something we held onto, believed in, and loved, no longer exists, if it ever did. Though this attitude might disappoint some of the people in my life, I offer no apology. The days of asking for forgiveness because my feelings make you uncomfortable have passed. Your disinterest in perceptions and your inability or unwillingness to process how my grief (anger, sadness) connects to you, is not my issue to wrestle with, so I will no longer use language which allows you to put your emotion (discomfort) back on me.

Although suggesting I “get over myself” is a woefully insufficient response to grief, throwing myself a pity party isn’t exactly a stellar response either. Not because the situation doesn’t warrant sadness, disbelief, anger, and more. It does. However, self pity, as much as grief, is an individualized emotion. It neglects the fact that millions, hundreds of millions, share in this particular grief. And, if we are going to beat the cancer which has caused it, we cannot afford to turn inward with shame or self pity. We must, instead, confess our culpability and move forward.

Over the weekend an incident caught in a video between Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann exploded social media. Sides were drawn within seconds of people logging on. Assumptions, insults, accusations, and excuses flew left and right. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, became battlefields. Today, I sit wondering why I found it so easy to join the fray before the bigger story had unfolded. To be sure, the addition of a third party and longer or different video did not decrease my initial disappointment in a young man’s decision to make his body a wall and refuse a Native elder passage. Instead, the expanded story merely reinforced the fact that Saturday’s confrontation between Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann is sadly not an anomaly.

Yesterday morning I happened across Marcie Mount Shoop’s blog, Peacing Together. In it Shoop offers a calm explanation both of the incident between Sandmann and Phillips and our own reactions to it. I immediately felt understood. The intense shame I felt while watching Sandmann caused me to want to see him punished for the way he behaved but also, because I felt culpable. My white skin, my Christian faith, my Republican upbringing connected me to this boy in a way I did not, do not, want to be connected. And, I responded by trying to put distance between us. I do not want to have the kind of privilege Nick Sandmann has that allows his arrogant, confrontational behavior to be defended or see as a “right”.

We, white people, MUST UNDERSTAND our ignorance and lack of intension does not remove the fear, humiliation, or injustice another person–a person of color–experiences. We, white parents, do not need to tell our children to remain calm, respectful, and acquiescent when talking to authorities, and especially the police–NOT because they already know better than to be disrespectful or agitated (some obviously have not learned that lesson). Rather, we do not instruct them in this manner because THEIR lives are not at risk when they step across that line. This is the daily reality of white privilege: our lives, our success, our opportunities, are not at risk because our skin is white. Our lives are not made more difficult or significantly more dangerous because our skin is white. We may have face multiple obstacles as young people and as adults but one of those obstacles was not the color of our skin.

When others associate us with racists and xenophobes because those they encounter are white and we are white, we often become defensive. We may not think of ourselves in those terms, but if we have done nothing to make it clear to those within our circles of influence that we abhor racism and reject xenophobic policies then we cannot blame POC for placing us in the same category as racists and xenophobes. Our silence matters. Our silence gives bigots permission to spew hate. And, our inaction matters. Our inaction gives fear-mongers permission to become more bold.  In the words of Dr. King, “Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.” If we are going to win the battle against the cancerous spread of racism and xenophobia we cannot afford to remain on the sidelines, we must stand up. We must push back. And, we must not be muted.

Posted by: minnow | January 20, 2019

Compromise on Obstruction?

The on-line Oxford English Dictionary defines compromise as: an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions. It define obstructionist as: the practice of deliberately impeding or delaying the course of legal, legislative, or other procedures. Finally, it defines hostage as: a person seized or held as security for the fulfillment of a condition. What do these three words have in common? Well, as seen in articles, blogs, tweets, and memes, they current describe the politics in Washington. Federal employees are in effect being held hostage by the president because he wants a wall. 

The most recent proposal from the President merely exchanges one hostage (federal workers) for another (DACA recipients). Seriously, it’s a PR stunt by this administration. They have lost ground because federal workers are not a group 45 can easily vilify. He tried by calling them mostly Democrats but he can’t make it stick. So he’s scrambling.

In the deal offered by Congress before the holiday break, the administration got everything it asked for except a wall. Now, it’s acting as though the wall is the only thing it asked for rather than the only thing it didn’t get because if the American public understands that one thing they would also know that the administration is NOT negotiating in good faith, is NOT willing to compromise, and the Republican party, specifically Senator Mitch McConnell, is the only obstructionist.

45 alone benefits from the government shut down since it delays a lawsuit of which he is the target. Everyone else is harmed. The federal workers who must continue to work without pay suffer the most. Those who have been furloughed must scramble to find other work. The ripple effect to the rest of the economy becomes more damaging and intense every day the shut down drags on. Businesses and individuals aren’t getting the goods services they need, such as reimbursements for food vouchers, licenses, and permits. Finally, the very security 45 claims to be concerned about is actually threatened due to the fact that border security workers aren’t getting paid, airport security agents aren’t getting paid, the secret service isn’t getting paid, and federal agencies are working with skeleton crews.

If the President gets away with holding Federal employees hostage this time, he will do it again, and again, and again. Congress, Speaker Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Schumer must not flinch. They cannot afford to give in to the 45’s use of terror tactics on the American people. And, we, the people, need to become vocal on this issue. Call your senators. Make it clear to each of them that you do not want Congress to give in to the toddler-like behavior of this Administration. Tell them to put pressure on Senator McConnell, and the other obstructionist Republicans, to reopen the government NOW. Congress and the President are getting paid during this shutdown. Insist they earn their pay checks and get the country moving again.

We all want security, just ask Linus. But our security can’t be achieved by a wall the way Linus’ is by a blanket. We need representatives who are willing to work together.Remind your congressmen and women that after the government reopens you expect them to negotiate in good faith, to find those pieces of border security and immigration reform that moves the country forward and on which they can agree. We will be a more secure people when Congress acts in our best interests, when protecting the protecting the most vulnerable from the destructive policies and actions of this administration becomes a priority and when bullies and blowhards are held to account.

Posted by: minnow | January 10, 2019

Dog Whistles and Other Types of Legislation

FACTS are pesky little things. They get in the way of perfectly good narratives. Just ask the President, the President of Montana’s State Senate that is. Scott Sales believes Montana should give $8 million dollars of state money to the President of the United States in order to build his vanity wall on our southern border. One can almost imagine the hyperventilation as Mr. Sales urges his fellow legislators to get on board his fiscally foolish and morally questionable proposal. Thank God Governor Bullock will be able to stop him if the Republican controlled State Legislature chooses to be as reckless as Mr. Sales.

Here are the FACTS, Montana–

FACT # 1: Last year the Republican controlled legislature couldn’t find it in the budget to adequately fund state education needs and many of the health and human services needs facing Montana. They refused to fund a preschool grant program the Governor fought to establish. They neglected to increase funding for higher education causing state colleges and universities to increase tuition or cut programs.  They refused to give a raise (even a cost of living raise) to direct care workers who server seniors, to child protection service workers, and to long term patient care providers. They wouldn’t even approve a dollar a day increase for families providing foster care to over 3,000 children in Montana. But they did manage to keep $2 million dollars in the budget to fix a county road that leads to Hell Creek State Park. Yes, I know, recreation is important to Montana’s economy, and we need to maintain our roads. But, when fewer and fewer Montanans can even afford to take a vacation we might want to set some different priorities–like how to increase revenue.

FACT # 2: In addition to a state sales tax which would place a even bigger bigger burden on the poor and middle class, Scott Sales now seems to think there is money in the budget to hand Washington $8 million dollars of STATE funds.

FACT # 3: The only reason the government is shut down is because 45 decided to hold the checks of federal employees hostage. Both the Senate and the House were willing to pass a continuing resolution but the president refused. 45 has even threatened to declare a state of emergence despite the FACT there is no evidence to support such a move.

FACT # 4: 1500 Montanans are not getting paid due to the federal government’s partial shutdown. It’s been nearly 3 weeks and the shutdown shows no sign of ending soon.

FACT # 5: Though he refuses to consider pay raises for others, Senator Sales believes he and his fellow legislators deserve a pay raise of 69%. Where’s that money coming from, Mr. Sales?

FACT # 6: The criminal element 45 pretends his wall will stop do not actually cross land barriers to enter the country. In an article appearing in the Washington Post we’ve learned that, “As of July 2017, the State Department said there was “no credible information that any member of a terrorist group has traveled through Mexico to gain access to the United States.” According to separate DHS data for 2017, most of the 2,554 people on the terrorist watch list who were encountered by U.S. officials tried to enter through airports (2,170) or by sea (49).” Even those who traveled by land came through established ports of entry.

FACT # 7: When asked by Helena’s Independent Record, about the security of Montana’s borders State Senator Sales deflected, “I don’t think we’ve ever really had much of a problem with Canadians coming illegally into the U.S.” which, technically is true–Canadians don’t really want to live in the United States. But the point is, our physical northern border with Canada is as vulnerable as our physical southern border with Mexico. In truth,  more terror suspects have entered the US through Canada.  And, suggesting we give away state money for a unnecessary wall when we have cut funding for programs that actually care for Montanans is the hight of irresponsible leadership.

DON’T BE FOOLED, Montana! Mr. Sales has his eye on a bigger prize. Thanks to term limits the Senator won’t be able to run for the State legislature again. But that won’t stop him from making a run for the governorship or even the US Senate in 2020. Cozying up to 45 might capture the attention of big money donors in the GOP, but it doesn’t do Montana or Montanans any favors. We can’t afford dog whistle legislation to go unnoticed. Senator Sales–pledge your own money, if you choose to support racists and fear mongers, not the State’s! Montanans deserve better!

Posted by: minnow | January 10, 2019

Addressing the Nation

Last night (1/8/19) The President addressed the nation. There was much speculation about what he might say. Some wondered if he was going to declare a state of emergency and attempt to circumvent Congress in order to pay for his wall while at the same time giving himself more power. In the end, his speech was nothing new. He made no attempt to reach across the aisle. He repeated baseless accusations about criminals and terrorists. And, he continued to use horror stories to try and instill fear and stir-up animosity toward immigrants. Though he attempted to sound like he cared about the humanitarian crisis occurring at our southern border, the hollowness of his words are revealed, when one understands A). how drugs really get into our country, B). that crime among undocumented immigrants is, in fact, lower than among US citizens, C). the real ways in which our borders are vulnerable, D). the difference between an illegal immigrant and an asylum seeker, E). the conditions under which families are being warehoused and F). whose policy it is to hold asylum seekers in for-profit detention centers.

The bottom line is there are no legitimate reasons for the government to be shut down. Nothing about immigration reform is directly connected to the daily operations of our government. And yet, our president is holding the paychecks of innocent people hostage while he mischaracterizes Democrats as being soft on border security. In truth, Democrats recently pledged $1.3 billion dollars for a border security plan which included some barrier protection, better technology, and more border patrols. The only part of the President’s plan Democrats are unwilling to fund is the $5.7 billion dollars for a physical wall, a wall that had been deemed by multiple groups as ineffective, harmful to the environment, and too costly. (The $5.7 billion the President has proposed won’t foot the whole bill).

Our President should be ashamed and those who support him should be embarrassed. Taking the government hostage and throwing temper tantrums are not synonymous with negotiating. It’s time for Senate Republicans to tell the President to make a deal–to get the government working again, and to negotiate with the Congress in good faith. Anything short of passing the bill to open the government that the Senate passed unanimously before the break is unacceptable. It paints Senate Republicans as obstructionists, not the elected leaders they are supposed to be.

Posted by: minnow | January 6, 2019

In the Name of Getting Along

We were not a day in to the New Congress when the media’s tone police emerged. I shouldn’t be surprised since some of these same outlets (and not just the fashion rags and gossip columns) have also been more interested in critiquing the freshmen women for their attire and accessories than their historic wins and policy ideas. Still, hearing it and reading it, no matter how carefully it’s crafted or how inclusive it pretends to be, leaves a sick-sour taste in my mouth, every time.

The hypocrisy and ridiculousness of example A, Our President, speaks for itself and I won’t waste much time here. To him I say: until you retract nearly every personal reference you have uttered, it’s best if you remain silent on the subject. Since we all know his silence won’t happen, it’s best we simply ignore his verbiage until Congress or Mr. Mueller are able to detach the mic from his hand.

As exhibit B, I bring you ABC News analysts, Matthew Dowd (Of course ABC adds the disclaimer that the opinions from his column don’t necessarily reflect their views, but then they give him the space on a consistent basis, so you decide.) and his column tsk-tsking Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s use of the moniker M-Fer when referencing the President. The hypocrisy here is more subtle and his criticism tries desperately to avoid being called out. After all, he states out right that Republicans who haven’t chastised the president don’t have a leg to stand on when chastising the Congresswoman, implying of course that he has done his due diligence. Yet, he also attempts to cozy up to those who feel as Rashida Tlaib do, suggesting that merely being born on the westside of Detroit and growing up in Southfield, Michigan has given him a right to identify with “the “chip-on-your-shoulder” grittiness and saltiness of the area.” Here in is Dowd’s problem, and the problem of every single one of us like him. Being white and living next door to a person of color does not mean we understand what life is like for a person of color living in a white oriented world.

Shall I say that again, so those in the back can hear? Being white and living next door to a person of color does not mean we understand what life is like for a person of color living in a white oriented world.

So, bully for you, Mr. Dowd, you’ve muttered similar things in private and have heard as bad come from the mouths of some folks in “Detroit”. Until your finger wags EVERY SINGLE TIME your fellow white male Republicans use similar word choices, Until your if-we-want-to-be-able-to-work-together-and-avoid-being-bullies-ourselves admonitions happens EVERY SINGLE TIME 45 calls Senator Warren “Pocahontas”, Rep Walters “low IQ” (as he continually does), and other women derogatory names or describes people in vulgar terms like horse face, bloody, and pig, and until you call out every single white politician and person of power for their verbal missteps EVERY SINGLE TIME they make them, then SIT DOWN because this particular opinion is unnecessary and unappreciated.

I am fairly certain that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib will follow her conscious, as she should, with regard to walking back or walking forward everything she says. I am fairly certain her words REPRESENTED the sentiments of a whole lot of people whether they would express them in quite the same manner or not. And, it really doesn’t matter if I, an older woman who grew up in a white Republican family and lived in conservative Christian circles most of my life was offended or not.  Even though I personally try to never call people vulgar names, I’m a big girl and can get over it when someone else does.

What I cannot get over, what is truly offensive, are the attempts by the tone police to manipulate the conversation with distraction and feigned outrage. If someone’s word choice is truly more important to you than investigating the potential crimes committed by the current administration you need to ask yourself what it means to be an American. If your moral outrage is actually greater toward a woman for using a vulgar name than it is toward a policy that locks children in cages at our borders and pays for-profit companies to do it, then your moral plumb line is off and you need to ask yourself what it means to follow Christ. If your resentment toward a congresswoman’s language has indeed been raised but your indignation toward an administration currently holding a government hostage by shutting it down (while giving his cabinet pay raises) to pay for a wall that most of us don’t want, that has been shown to be ineffective in keeping the criminal element out, and that is damaging to the environment, has not, then your priorities are out of wack and you need to decide if 800,000 people should have to suffer because of one man’s inability to work with a duly elected Congress in order to move the country forward.

I’m all for civility but quit pretending collaboration rises and falls on one woman’s word choice. The vulgar lipped Left aren’t the snowflakes if the Right can’t reach beyond tone policing and fake piety to do the nitty-gritty work of wrestling out real solutions to the problems we all face. And, the hypocritical Right won’t be the obstructionist if the Left can’t set their finger pointing and “it’s our turn now” attitudes aside and find the step-by-step solutions the majority can get behind. Congress needs to remember it represents ALL the people, not just those who voted for them or paid the bills. We the people sent them to represent ALL of us, to be high minded enough to consider all reasoned points of view and thick skinned enough to avoid a civil war.

So to the media I say: report the NEWS. And Congress, in the name of getting along, DO YOUR JOB–whether I punctuate “job” with an expletive or not.

Posted by: minnow | November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving: It’s Not PC

Liking Thanksgiving these days is certainly not politically correct. And yet, it is my favorite holiday.

I am angered by the way we, white Americans, treat new immigrants. I am also embarrassed (is that a strong enough word? perhaps not) let’s say disgusted, by white America’s historical record regarding our treatment of Native Americans. Still, the story I grew up hearing every year as a child is one of the few that put Native Americans in a good light via a white lens. They saved us. They shared their feast with us. They taught us how to plant corn using fish for fertilizer. Does anyone else remember those stories?

As a child in Montana in the sixties, I wasn’t taught about how we tore families apart, put children in boarding schools, and destroyed every remnant of the Indigenous culture we could. I didn’t learn how the US government killed Native Americans with small pox infested blankets, hunted them down, rounded them up, and forced them onto reservations which became smaller and smaller as more white settlers wanted land. I wasn’t told about the trail of tears, a 1200 mile journey to “Indian Territory”, a march on which thousands of Creeks, Cherokee, and others died. I did not know the truth about white treatment of Indigenous people groups, many of which were completely obliterated. As a white person, I am ashamed of those facts, ashamed of my white history, and now ashamed of our treatment of new immigrants.

Still, I love Thanksgiving. To me it means family and lots of dessert! Stuffing is my favorite part of the traditional meal. And, since most of my children lean toward the mashed potatoes and gravy like their father, I luck out. Thanksgiving left overs are the best–yummy turkey sandwiches and more pie! Our family typically played board games after the big meal. If we were at the grandparents we could count on the Macy’s Day Parade in the morning and football in the afternoon. And laughter–in my memories there is always laughter around the table, in the telling of old stories, in the gentle kidding of siblings, and in the joy of being together. Though I have to admit, in the most recent Thanksgivings there has also been tension.

A dozen years ago I walked away from organized religion. Five years ago I separated from my husband. For four years we tried to make the holidays as “normal” as possible–I came back to town and sometimes even stayed at the house. We had a meal together and played games as a family. But it was confusing and created stress. We couldn’t recreate what we had because we were not all on the same page anymore. This year our youngest son invited everyone to his house. His youngest sister is joining him. I dropped her off on Tuesday. My oldest daughter is working Thanksgiving. And, my middle son had surgery on his wrist on Wednesday so is recovering today, Thanksgiving. (Fighting my own infection I couldn’t be with him).

Even before the other distractions, I had decided to opt out of the holidays altogether this year. I need to start over so, I am not going anywhere for Thanksgiving and won’t be going anywhere for Christmas. Instead, as fate would have it, I have another distraction and will be packing boxes for a move. (My landlady needs more space and has generously given me two months to vacate).

So, here I sit, on my favorite holiday of the year, trying to reconcile all my feelings. Guilt, sadness, and anger mix with joyful memories and a longing for family and friends. I don’t want to beat myself up, even if it’s not PC, for liking Thanksgiving. Instead, I want to renew my respect for this holiday and change its meaning. We need to repent of our history of oppression and abuse. And we need to find a path forward. For me, taking steps forward begins with thankfulness which is what this season has always, personally, been about.

I am thankful on this Thanksgiving as well as every other day of the year for the people in my life, my relative good health, and the opportunity I have to do things I enjoy doing. I am grateful for my five children who like to tease each other, don’t always understand each other, sometimes worry about one another, but always love one another. I appreciate having two months to find a new place, pack up my boxes and bags and stuff, and transition to a new roof over my head. I am thankful for that roof, wherever it may be. I appreciate this little town, as conservative as it is, because even though I’m a newcomer I’m greeted in the grocery, waved to from passing cars and offered help if I need it. I feel safe here, even if a few think I’m nuts for being a liberal. I am fortunate for a family heritage of hard work, honest dealings, standing on principles, and taking care of one another. And, I am thankful I can learn about my past and choose not to repeat it–personally or historically. I am thankful I can choose to be thankful and appreciate new opportunities to change and grow and give back. I cannot undo the past. I can acknowledge the pain that has been a part of it, however, and I can vow to make a different future beginning today.

Posted by: minnow | November 18, 2018

When Will We Ever Learn?

Hey, Democrats–with Mitch McConnell still running herd on the Senate and acting like he’s the man of Kumbaya and let’s all get along, and President 45 revoking the press passes of people he doesn’t like, and US soldiers sitting at the border because you know, midterm elections were coming up and Beto O’rourke was running up on his buddy “Lick my boots after I kick you like a dog” Cruz from Texas, and the administration threatening to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t fund his billion dollar wall, and the GOP leadership in the senate suggestion Social Security and Medicare need to be fixed because you know they borrowed money from these self-sustaining funds instead of investing, growing, and taking care of them and now they don’t want to have to pay the people back, and a very expensive going on 17 year war still raging in the mid-east with no end in site, and a commander-in-chief who would rather hang out with despots and dictators than commemorate our World War I veterans with our ALLIES and the tweeter-in-chief threatening to pull aid to Puerto Rico and just threatening California in general–let’s just shoot ourselves in the foot.  I mean why not help Republicans vilify Minority leader Nancy Pelosi. I mean really, what’s she done for us other than take the hits for all the Democrats in the House while Paul Ryan shoved ever bit of the Republican agenda he could down the collective throat of this country? (Though his actually accomplishments are few and far between because Pelosi was good at her job and organized the troops to stop him whenever they could). After all, taking the hits is no big deal. Anyone could have done it (Though no one else volunteered).

Do Democrats actually want to get something done in Washington?!!!

Yes?! Then take a lesson from Representative Pelosi.

We don’t need to do that, you say. She compromises too much.

GET A TASTE OF REALITY, FOLKS!!

Big agendas are accomplished one painfully small step at a time. And Pelosi has written a pretty effective play book. Why do you think the Republicans denounce her every chance they get?

You have a better option? Good! But just so you know “Someone Esle” isn’t an actual person. And for God’s sake get it through your head that whoever your new person is–man or woman–that person is going to be the GOP’s new public enemy # 1; that’s how they work. And if they get a whiff of who you plan to champion they’ll start taking whacks before your new speaker can swear, “I do.”

SO do the country a favor. Stop proving you know how to shoot a gun by aiming it at your foot! Go ahead, make the transition to someone you like, if you really don’t think the job Nancy Pelosi has done is a good one. BUT–and this is the hard part evidently–make your voice about the person you prefer, about your person’s qualifications for the job or vision for the party. Thank Nancy Pelosi for her service and move on. AND for the love of God and this nation QUIT thinking you have to destroy one to get the other, when the facts are both want to lead the country in a positive direction.

Democrats don’t need to help the GOP vilify fellow Democrats. They do that plenty well on their own.We cannot afford to become that which we labels repulsive, unacceptable, and undemocratic in others and we won’t attract people to our cause by becoming as ugly, as self debasing, or as deceptive as our opponents. If the Democratic party is going to thrive after the midterm, it must not squander what it has gained. So what are we going to do to keep momentum going?

The Democratic Party needs bold leadership–because bold leadership, bright new faces, and a focus on REAL ideas captured the attention of the American people and Democrats lead the the rally cry that ushered them in. Perhaps Nancy Pelosi won’t be taking the hits as the Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress come January but we need to remember, while 35 new Democratic faces have joined Congress 196 old Democratic faces are returning to Congress. Yes, we need those new voices–because Democrats invited them to the table and some of the old voices will need to hand the microphone over so that all can be heard. BUT, a new Democratic Party is possible only if we build ourselves up and don’t leave anyone behind.

Posted by: minnow | November 4, 2018

I Believe

What do you believe? We hear a lot about how divided this nation is, how ugly this election is, and how stubborn the “other side” is. What we don’t hear much about just what divides us. Why do people think this election seems so ugly? What do we think the other guys are being so stubborn about? So, I’m asking you, what do YOU believe? Whether you call yourself conservative or liberal, practical or progressive, I would like to compare notes.

Here, I’ll go first. Since I call myself a progressive I’m guessing some of you might be surprised.

I believe in the strength and importance of healthy families. I believe we need people in our lives who always have a place at their table with our name on it. We need people who, when we aren’t at our best, will offer a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand, or a word of encouragement. We need a place to belong and people we trust will understand, especially when we don’t understand ourselves and are loosing hope. Most families, but not all families, have biological components, generational threads and gender crossovers, people we actually look like, some we might even sound like. All families have psychological components, shared experiences and deeply rooted places of emotional recognition.

My conviction about the need for family broadens my definition about what families look like. It helps me see that others need family that meets their emotional need for belonging as much as I do. And, it encourages me to not be afraid of what someone else’s family might look like.

I believe in community. In order for us to feel safe we need others we can trust. We need authorities who will treat us fairly, work for the greater good, and help protect our little corners of the world. To build that kind of community I believe we must be contributing members to the degree that we can be. Volunteering is important and paying taxes is important. Participating in activities with other community members is important. Whether that means playing in the all city band, running for the school board, or attending a city league softball game, our participation and contributions to others matter. Contributing and participating is part of what it means to take ownership. Rubbing shoulders with our neighbors, even our neighbors across town, is how we build safe places for ourselves, and our families.

My conviction about community drives my desire to increase the size of my table, to try to understand those who are not like me, and to make more safe spaces in my world.

I believe in God. Although I no longer go to a building for Sunday morning worship, my faith in a Creator has not diminished. And, while my faith has simplified, it has also expanded. I am convinced of the benevolence of God–that the Being which formed the universe is for the universe. I believe that we are each individually called by all that is Virtuous to be good, by all that is Love to show compassion, by all that is Grace to extend acceptance, and by all that is Merciful to offer humanity. My God is most clearly seen in the Jesus of the gospels, and is best emulated by the service of people like Mother Theresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Corrie Ten Boon,…

My faith in God helps me seek the face of Jesus in those I encounter. It causes me to open my heart to the life realities revealed by other people’s stories. It reminds me that shared suffering and shared joy creates family.

I believe in lots of other things, too. Some of them, like self expression, the arts, and education, direct my passions and interests. Others, like excellence, dedication, and always getting up in the morning, inform my work ethic. But family, community, and God permeate every other aspect of my being. Remove or dramatically alter one of these and I would not be who I am. They are the foundation on which ever other part of my thinking rests.

For most of the people who read this I suspect Family, Community, and Faith are also foundational to who you are. Most of the people in my sphere of social media influence are willing to listen, desire to be problem solvers, and want what is best for the greater whole not just their individual lives BECAUSE they value Family and Community and are guided by their Faith. In her essay, “There is Nothing Virtuous About Finding Common Ground”, Tayari Jones states, “The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring.” What Jones implies by that statement is that standing on the side of justice and truth and morality is far more important than trying to find compromise with those who do not value justice and truth and morality. I believe the vast majority of people with whom I have interacted on social media would agree with Jones’ sentiment. So, what is actually dividing us?

I believe the short answer is–fear. We do not trust that those who are not in our intimate circles love their families, want safe communities, are willing to work together, or are guided by a faith in a Good God in the same ways that we are. Fear stops us from seeing the truth. Fear keeps us from taking the chance that the Other is more like us than unlike us. Fear is disabling.

This November 6th, I hope you vote. I hope you vote based on what fuels your hope, not your fear. I hope you vote for leaders who listen to what gives them hope, who want what’s best for everyone, who acknowledge the journey is difficult, the problems complex, and the answers require sacrifice and courage; but who also know the road toward positive change is best travelled together.

Posted by: minnow | November 2, 2018

How Long

When is something no longer a story, from a journalistic point of view? Our president lies, daily, often about the same thing, over and over and over. When should that “story” be relegated to the ash heap? When he quits doing it? THAT won’t until a new president is in office. THIS President lies. It’s part of his MO and it’s working. He lies so he can direct the traffic about what we talk about. His lies to distract us from his racist, anti-democratic, potentially unconstitutional, greedy,  self advantaging policies and behavior. He lies so WE keep talking about his lying instead of the more volatile, relevant stories. His lies are intentional and they’re working.

WE NEED TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT.

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