Posted by: minnow | September 23, 2016

A Peaceful Protest Against Violence

Until you are outraged about this:

Please keep your opinions to yourself about this:

This is not disrespect of the military or even our country. It is using one’s celebrity to call attention to a problem because in America we have the freedom to peaceful protest.  It suggests that our justice system is in need of attention.  It calls attention to the fact that some of our fundamental values as a nation–life, liberty, innocence until proven guilty, equal PROTECTION under the law–are not walked out with the same passion for ALL groups of people.  It makes us feel uncomfortable because it sheds a spotlight on a troubling truth of our times.  As a white person who believes in these foundational values the least I can do is recognize the privilege with which I walk the streets of my city and extend a hand of unity to those whose experience is very different from mine.

Posted by: minnow | September 11, 2016

Seek Out the Facts

This election cycle has challenged many who call themselves Christians but have also voted Republican their entire lives to truly check how those two labels line up with one another.  Most of my dear Christian friends continue to wrestle with the choice they have to make between presidential candidates.  Some will eventually toss their votes toward a third party candidate who has no chance of winning but who lets them sleep at night.  They will tell themselves such a vote is the more moral choice since they cannot bring themselves to support Donald Trump and have heard the unsubstantiated accusations against Clinton for so long that they believe they must be true.

The trouble with voting for a third party is that such a vote is meaningless even though it might ultimately impact the election.  None of the third party candidates is even on the ballot in all 50 states and only one, in only one state, has received more than 15% of the votes polled.  Whether we like it or not, one of the two mainstream candidates, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, WILL BE our next president.

Still, if you are a conservative person of faith I understand the appeal of a third party.  Honestly, most of my friends, Christian or not, cringe every time they read a report on the latest words to come from Donald Trump’s mouth.  And who can blame them?  Some, of course, tell themselves the “right” will be able to control the Donald, but I suspect they mostly hope, but don’t actually believe, it’s true.  Despite the religious right’s attempt to paint Trump as recently born again, my thoughtful Christian friends, and hopefully the rest of the country, can see such a display as an attempt to pull the wool over their eyes.  Surly you can assess for yourselves that even if somewhere there exists a seed of faith, it is not mature enough to survive the test of a presidency.  Already, we have witnessed the re-established dominance of old behavior and rhetoric.  The Donald simply cannot be corralled.

So, if all these good, kind, Christ following people cannot force themselves to vote for the GOP candidate, why not just vote for Hillary Clinton and be done with it? I suspect the 30+ years of right-wing attacks and slander, despite nothing but innuendo to support them, has a little something to do with their reluctance.  I suspect most have not actually studied Hillary Clinton’s record, researched her resume, or read her own writings.  I know I hadn’t, at least not until recently.  I was content to tell myself that even the perception of her faults was too big a hurdle to overcome especially since I had a viable candidate, to support instead.  But, the primaries are over and Bernie Sanders did not prevail so now I need to look at the options which remained.  We all need to honestly, seriously, look at the options which remain.

I am about to make a case for Hillary Clinton but before you quit reading may I ask one thing of you?  Please weigh your choices: SEEK OUT THE FACTS.  If the people you read or listen to don’t document their positions–I don’t care of it’s me, your pastor, a news anchor, an editor, or your mother–fact check their views.  Then make your decision.

For those who wonder about Hillary Clinton’s faith these are her own words spoken recently at the National Baptist Convention in Kansas City, “I am grateful for the gift of personal salvation and for the great obligation of the social gospel to use the gift of grace wisely, to reflect the love of God and to follow the example of Jesus Christ.” In the same address she used these quotes from St. Francis and the Bible, “Try to preach the gospel always, and, if necessary, use words,” “Faith without works is dead” and “We cannot just be hearers of the word, we must be doers” to explain how her faith intersects with her life. “For me,” Clinton said, “it has always been about trying to live up to the responsibility described by the prophet Micah: that we ‘do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.’”

Humility, not a word often associated with Hillary Clinton.  But I ask you, could you have walked in her shoes and still chosen to put your life under the glare of a public spotlight?  When half the nation blamed you for your spouse’s infidelity and the other half criticized you for standing by his side, would you have continued to spend your waking hours working for change while carrying that target on your back?  Had an embassy been attacked under your watch, despite the fact that a Republican congress had cut its security, would you have had the courage to get up the next day to do your job?  Would you have been willing to answer accusations years later about your role in the incident from the very people you knew had partnered in cutting that embassy’s security?  Would you still smile, still take the press seriously, if the day before you gave a historic acceptance speech the media behaved as if the biggest story of the evening was what you would be wearing?  I could not have walked in Hillary Clinton’s shoes for the last 30 years.  I could not have kept my mouth shut when I was vilified and lied about day after day in the press.  I would have been angry and expressed my anger and given the press something to write about.  So for me, humility is a perfectly fitting word for Hillary Rodham Clinton.  And, I will proudly cast my vote for her in November.  I won’t be voting for her because I line up perfectly with her policies, but rather because she is someone who will bring honor to the office and we need more of that, not less.  Hillary Clinton will execute her duties faithfully because that is what she has done her whole life, to the best of her ability.  And the proof of that is in the facts.

Posted by: minnow | July 31, 2016

You’re Correct; Trump Is Not a Nazi

So the anti-Trump folks are fond of calling him a Nazi.  It irritates the right and makes the more rational among his following uncomfortable, but it doesn’t really cause any of them to quit following him.  Of course, they are correct; Trump is not a Nazi. Instead, he’s the new brand of Republican. But, as a former Republican that is little comfort.

If we rely on fact, the true condition of America today is less like that of pre-World War II Germany than one might expect. But, as John Oliver pointed out so well in this Last Week Tonight piece, Americans seem to be more focused on feelings than facts.  Trump followers feel like America needs to be made great again because they have been told they had it so much better back when.  But when exactly is back when?  For some the answer is last year when gays and lesbians couldn’t marry. For others it was five years ago when fewer people had access to health insurance but the rates for those who did weren’t impacted.  But in all honesty, back when doesn’t exist, it never has.

Our standing in the world might have been better during World War II but we sent Japanese Americans to interment camps and at the end of the war didn’t bother to give them their homes, businesses, or livelihoods back.  The U.S. Civil War might have put an end to slavery but it ushered in the KKK, Jim Crow laws, and an US vs THEM mentality that revealed the baser nature of those in control and continues in our country to this day.  Women got the vote in 1920, a grand achievement but we’re still fighting for equal pay in 2016.  The truth is, America has always been both an inspiration and a nation in need of reform.

Bernie Sanders was not wrong when he began talking about the rich getting richer and the middle-class shrinking, but our standard of living is still one of the highest in the world.  Eight years ago unemployment was nearly 10 percent. Today it is under 5.  And, despite the violence making headlines in Orlando, Dallas and elsewhere, our overall violent crime rates are the lowest they have been in over 30 years.  Our “greatness”, at least the greatness Donald Trump eludes to, is NOT really in question.

The similarities between Trump and Hitler that bring out the label Nazi can be easily laid out. This Huffington Post article, for example, compares the first acts carried out by Hitler as soon as he was elected to those Trump espouses.  Both leaders advocated  removing government officials not to their liking.  Both suggested they should have more control of the free press. Like Hitler, Trump blames minority groups for our problems, calls those who oppose him names, and vilifies anything other than brute strength.

So, if all this is true, why are Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton neck and neck in the polls?  Why are we worried at all that Trump could actually become or next president?  Surely we understand the danger, the damage that could occur if we allow such a personality to have power.

A friend recently shared this article from Dr. Deepak Chopra. In it Chopra gives us a short lesson in psychology as it applies to our conscious mind and our unconscious mind, or in other words, those dark impulses we learn to suppress as we mature.  The article is worth your time and does a quick job of explaining the seemingly unfathomable (to those of us still functioning in our conscious mind) attraction and success of Donald Trump.  Though most of my friends and I are shocked there are so many people in America like Trump, the truth is we ALL have the potential to act like Trump, to think like Trump, to poke fun and ridicule and fall into hyperbole.  In fact, our ability to also let some of these baser expressions loose from time to time might explain why anti-Trump people resorted to sarcasm and humor as a way of dealing with our shock and horror.

Resorting to humor, however, won’t help us overcome the powerful attraction of our baser nature.  Instead, we must remind ourselves of the devastation such a nature unleashes on the world.  Those who think Trump can be controlled need to realize his is not a lone voice.  Other power hungry people have lined up behind him.  He may not be on a par with Hitler right now, but he has not yet secured control. When he does, if he does, he won’t be surrounded by people who want to control him.  He will be surrounded by people who want to join him.  Even now as some in his circle try to contain the most offensive expressions of the beast, Chopra predicts, Trump “will remain immune to all normal constraints.”

Those of us who see Trump for the danger he is must work diligently to warn the rest of America.  We must call forth our better nature.  We are more successful when we work together than when we tear one another apart.  And, we must remember our successes.  We must summon the strength we have when we are united to seek the greater good. Having base impulses is part of human nature. However, being unable or unwilling to keep those impulses in check destroys the very fabric of society.

Donald Trump appeals to the basest nature of people whenever he makes racist or sexist remarks or calls people names who don’t agree with him. He manipulates and inspires through fear and anger. His behavior may be similar to a famous Nazi, but his followers are absolutely correct, Trump is not a Nazi. Trump is currently the Republican candidate for the highest office of the land. But, that shouldn’t really make you feel any better.  America cannot afford to let Donald Trump gain more power.  He must be defeated in November. And, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate who can do it.

 

Posted by: minnow | July 28, 2016

Another Day

Tuesday night at 6:39 South Dakota put her over the top. Hillary Clinton became the first woman in the the United States to be nominated for the top spot. History was made. Tonight Hillary Clinton will take the stage and accept the Democratic nomination for president and history will be made, again.

Today, all across the country women went about their daily lives. They rushed to work, watched over children, managed their households, went to the doctor, planned their futures, thought about their pasts, and tried to remember the last item on the list they left on the counter because they were late getting out of the house and the diaper bag and coffee cup were more strategically place than the list.  In many respects, it was just another day in the long string of days that make up women’s lives. And tomorrow, for most of us, will be as well.

For our daughters however, after tonight the world will be a different place.  For the first time in the history of our nation, a woman will have the same opportunity as a man to become the President of the United States.  The playing field has been leveled.  Whether she wins or loses the significance of tonight has been set.

So why write about it before it happens?  I didn’t even vote for Hillary in the primary election.  I looked at who represented my views, who more closely shared my vision for the future, and I cast my vote.  But when I watched the roll call on Tuesday I felt a shift begin to happen. I felt both sad and proud when Bernie Sanders, my candidate, asked that Hillary Rodham Clinton be nominated by acclamation.  I certainly understood the politics of it, after all  Stronger Together is the theme of the convention. And, alhough the media has tried to stir up the drama by pointing out every boo and protest, the Democrats, as a whole, have shown a unified front.

This week we heard from the candidate’s husband–former President Bill Clinton, the sitting President and his wife–Barack and Michelle Obama, Vice-President Joe Biden, and Senator Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton’s adversary in the primaries.  That’s not all.  We also heard from representatives of the Black community, law enforcement, the LGBTQ community, education unions, various faith communities, and more.  And tonight, tonight we will hear from Hillary.  She will be introduced, though there is really no need for an introduction, by her daughter.  Thinking about that fact makes me catch my breath.

Her daughter.

Hillary Clinton is 11 years older than I am.  Meaning that women who I now consider “of my generation” had been marching and advocating and working for social justice for more than a decade by the time I got to college.  And still,…

I walked into my advisor’s office on a beautiful spring day before going home to Montana for the summer.  It was the end of my sophomore year.  I was signing up for classes in the fall and mapping out the next two years to include a semester in Washington D.C.  Ultimately, I planned to go into politics and, even though I was not a 4.0 student, I wanted to go to law school first.  I figured understanding how the law worked would be a good idea if I wanted to be entrusted to write those laws.

I was gathering up my books to leave when my advisor made what I’m sure he must have thought was a word of encouragement. “Margaret,” he said, “some day you’re going to make a great politician’s wife.”

I was stunned.  I left his office, finished my finals, and went home to Montana.  When I returned in the fall, I didn’t know what to do.  Instead of reporting him or simply ignoring him, I  changed majors. I didn’t go to D. C.  I never even took another political science class.  I didn’t understand how the very person who had helped me pick the kind of classes to get into law school and who had helped me make connections with political leaders in the state saw only my potential as a help-mate.  So, I let his comment change the trajectory of my life.

I don’t regret becoming a mother, a writer, an artist, or an educator.  However, as I listened to the endorsement speeches for Hillary Rodham Clinton this week and as I scrolled through my newsfeed this morning, I began to wonder what might have happened had I given myself permission to challenge that one man’s verdict of my future.  The thought occurred to me, if I had had a voice in my head, an image I could have conjured to counter my advisor’s assessment, the plans and dreams I had had for my life might not have been so easily dashed.  When I look at my children, I see potential, and character, and hope that makes me proud to be their mother.  I want them to know the limits of someone else’s vision need not be theirs.

37 years have passed since I walked out of my advisor’s office.  37 years of women holding ground, and pushing forward, and sliding back, and pushing forward again. 37 years on top of the eons before that.  37 years of women lifting themselves and each other, and their daughters up and out and over the barriers, and the detours, and the stoney paths toward their futures.  Tonight, one more obstacle will be removed.  When Hillary Rodham Clinton says, “I accept your nomination for the President of the United States of America” no one will ever be able to take that voice, that singular example, away.

The fact I didn’t vote for her doesn’t matter.  The fact she tried once before and was denied doesn’t matter.  And whether or not she wins in November won’t matter either, though I hope with every fiber in me that she does.  What matters is: Hillary Rodham Clinton entered the arena. A glass ceiling has been shattered. The playing field is level.

Posted by: minnow | July 26, 2016

Defining Moment

So last night in a phone conversation with my son I heard myself making a case for Hillary.  He was discouraged by the  exaggerated reports that Clinton hired Debbie Wasserman Schultz after Schultz resigned as the DNC chair as well as Clinton’s less than exciting (that is if you’re a progressive) VP choice.  Just last week my son was trying to convince me to take courage so the reversal in our conversation was interesting.  The reason I mention it is that I heard myself making a case for Clinton and that in itself gives me hope.  I will never like Bill Clinton and I will never fully line up with Hillary.  But, if my Republican roots taught me anything (at least as they played out in my family of origin) they taught me to be pragmatic.  

The best path forward, if we truly want to maintain the progress made by the movement Sanders has championed thus far, is with Hillary.  We cannot afford to waste time or energy squabbling amongst ourselves or becoming distracted by what has passed.  The fact is Bernie Sanders did not secure the nomination; Hillary Clinton did.  Even if half her super delegates were placed in the Sanders column Clinton still garnered enough votes to win.  

Should the system be overhauled?  Absolutely.  But, we knew that much going into this election.  As I told my son, we would be wrong to penalize a player just because she did well when playing by the rules.  Clinton is not responsible for the broken system even though she benefitted from it.  If we are serious about wanting to fix the way elections are managed WE will need to do the hard work of changing the system from the state level upward.  That will take time.  The first step is to secure the ground we’ve gained.  In his Monday night convention speech Sanders confirmed that Democrats have adopted the most progressive platform in their party’s history.  Sanders has pledged to do everything in his power to elect Hillary Clinton and she in turn has pledged to advance the party platform.

So what will a Clinton presidency look like?  To begin with, Clinton, not Trump, will nominate Supreme Court justices who will overturn Citizens United, advance equal rights for all our citizens, and continue to allow the federal government to protect our environment.  Thanks to the influence of Bernie Sanders the party platform which Clinton has signed off on calls for the breaking up of the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. Hillary has worked out a proposal with Sanders to guarantee that the children of 83% of the population (those families making less than $125 thousand a year) will be able to go to state universities tuition free. And I’m certain she will continue to advocate for equal rights for women, wise gun regulations, and a living wage for all Americans.  When she was in the senate, Sanders and Clinton’s voting records were almost identical.  She has come down on the progressive side of the Keystone XL pipe line and has reversed herself on the TPP.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect. BUT she is also not a quitter. She knows how to get things done and she is NOT just in this fight for herself.  My son warned me, when I urged people to vote for Hillary Clinton if only to guarantee Donald Trump not be elected, that I had succumbed to fear.  I suppose my earlier posts  can be read that way.  But honestly, there are times in life when we are foolish not to fear, or at the very least, times when we would be wise to walk forward holding in our hearts a great concern for our future. This election is such a time.

Our democracy and the constitution on which it is founded was designed by men who disagreed vehemently on many issues. Yet our founders came together and molded a system of laws layered with checks and balances which not only served to guide a brand new government but also managed to grow and evolve as that young nation grew into adulthood.  Today, we still hold the principles our forefathers fought to establish as sacred while also understanding that the needs of an infant are different from those of an adult and so our system of laws must reflect the wisdom we have obtained over the course of time.  This election is not the hour to turn back, to ignore how far we have come, to forget the sacrifices that were made by the men and women who fought for freedom, justice, and equality. We must embrace the slow steps toward progress as readily as we race to celebrate the wild passion of revolution for both are necessary to reach our goals.

Those of us who call out in warning do not cry wolf.  Who we choose to represent us  at both the state and federal levels matters.  Our principles matter.  The goals we have set before us–to champion the middle class, to advocate for the marginalized, to be honorable stewards of our planet–all matter.   My pray between now and November is that as we go we seek wisdom.  In the hands of the wrong leaders, the very fiber of our nation is at risk of being torn apart.  In my opinion, this election is that important.

 

Posted by: minnow | July 25, 2016

Out the Window

Confession: I have become a humorless person.  I cannot even laugh at Stephen Colbert or Jon Stewart anymore.  The other day, I saw a post that an island in Ireland will accept American immigrants if the GOP candidate wins.  I wonder how much a plane ticket costs? I wonder if Irishturk has an airport?  Honestly, I am at a loss.  The world seems to have gone mad.  Reason, fact, logic, humanity–have all gone out the window.  And, I am seriously afraid for our country.

My son’s response to my most recent posts exposes my dilemma, “But Mom, you sound like you support Clinton just because she’s not Trump.  That’s not going to win her votes.  It certainly isn’t going to convince anyone who plans to vote for Trump to jump ship.”  He’s correct of course.  My enthusiasm for Hillary’s election wouldn’t register on a Richter scale. I am indeed voting for Hillary because she is not Trump.  But I can say this without any hesitation or regret–SO SHOULD YOU!  If you have no other reason “She’s not Trump!” is reason enough.

I was an enthusiastic Sanders supporter.  I not only agreed with his policies I respected him as a person.  BUT Sanders is not running.  Sanders endorsed Clinton.  Sanders and Warren, both people who are on the progressive end of politics, are campaigning as hard as they can for Clinton because they know she is the only candidate, as weak as she may be, who has a chance of defeating Trump.  They know, as a Democrat, to vote for a third party candidate is courting disaster.

I admit I did not watch all of the GOP convention.  In fact I watched very little of it.  I tried.  But, I couldn’t make myself listen to the distortions, the hate, the claims to care about American values while pitting one group against another, and open threats to undo the progress made by the EPA, the Consumers Protection Bureau and equal rights.  If what the GOP adopted in its platform are American principles I no longer embrace what America does.  If their platform reflects Christian principles I can no longer recognize Christianity. Jon Stewart is correct–the GOP does not have a corner on the values market.

This is absolutely not the election to stay home.  This is not the time to stay silent.  I understand why people are angry because I am angry.  Washington has made a habit of ignoring the will of the people.  Our politicians have bowed to the will of big banks, Wall Street executives, and monied interests for far too long. But electing one of the very people who has made a career of throwing his monetary weight around Washington is not the way to solve the problem of getting rid of monied interests in Washington.

I don’t normally believe in using scare tactics in order to make a point.  But if the truth about Donald Trump doesn’t scare people then they better not be afraid of terrorist threats, a weak economy, global warming, the national debt, their jobs moving over seas, or their civil liberties being taken away.  Should Trump’s bluster toward China cause China to call in its debt the United States could go bankrupt which means that every single one of us would have to pay and pay some more just to stay afloat.  If Trump manages to offend all our trade allies by refusing to make mutually beneficial trade deals and insisting the deals he makes will only benefit us, our allies will simply take their goods else where.  And guess what?–The United States is not self-sustaining.  We could not even completely feed ourselves, forget about all the oil we still import.

I know Trump promises to take care of us.  He’ll make “them” do what he says. He’ll keep our enemies out and destroy ISIS.  But the United States is not a business.  The US president isn’t the “boss” of the world.  He can’t just fire other countries, refuse to pay what he owes, or file bankruptcy and let someone else suffer the consequences the way he did in business.  Sovereign nations don’t work the same way private business do.  He cannot simply invade another country without serious repercussions.

I may have lost my sense of humor but it is better to stop laughing than to stop thinking.  The world is watching.  It is beginning to think America has lost its collective mind.  We can, and must, continue to fight to get big monied interests out of Washington.  But, we can do that best by changing the face of Congress.  We cannot afford to minimize the threat of a Donal Trump presidency.  We cannot afford to lose the progress we have made in the last eight years with regard to equal rights, the environment, and international relations.  Plug your nose if you must, but please don’t put the United States at risk by allowing Trump to be elected.

 

Posted by: minnow | July 18, 2016

Two Parties, Two Candidates, One Choice

I’ve said a lot of negative things about Hillary Clinton.  I still believe Sanders would make a better candidate and a better president.  I would vote for him if he ran as an independent because I believe he is a man of good character. I agree with his policies. He’s got name recognition. AND I believe he could win.  But, Bernie Sanders is no longer running.  And, he will not run as a third party candidate.  He has endorsed Hillary Clinton as the only viable alternative to Trump and he will work for HER election.
Many Sanders supporters are looking at sitting this election out, writing his name in, or voting for a third party candidate. They argue that Clinton is establishment politics and in the pocket of Wall Street.  They claim character is paramount and they just “can’t in good conscious” vote for Hillary.  “She’s lied”.  “She’s cheated”. “She’s…” all the rest of the rightwing mantra.  The trouble with all this chatter is, when asked for proof they simply reply, “Well it’s evident. Look for yourself.”  And so…I have.
The truth-o-meter at Politifact indicates Hillary Clinton has been the most accurate, truthful political voice on the campaign trail. Her true, mostly true, and half true meter registered 2 percentage points above Sanders and 48 percentage points above Trump.  When I dug a little deeper and took a look at voting records I found Clinton’s record  in the Senate was as progressive as Sander’s.  And while it doesn’t account for a total difference in attitude and behavior, simply being a woman does separate her some from the Washington establishment. I am still frustrated with and disappointed by Clinton’s connections to Wall Street. Certainly, when the choice was between Sanders and her, Hillary’s Wall Street associations were a deciding factor.  Now, however, we are no longer deciding between Clinton and Sanders.  They are, for all intent and purposes on the same side.  And, we must look at the realities of this coming election.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s consider the third party option.  At this moment, the only semi viable third party candidate is Jill Stein, but she is still only on the ballot in 23 states. That is less than half.  In other words, it would be just as difficult–more difficult in fact–for people to vote for Stein than it was for people to vote for Sanders.  But let’s pretend some third party candidate is on the ballot in all 50 states. The fact remains, even if every one of us who voted for Bernie Sanders (or someone else based on the character issue) somehow got on the same page and we ALL voted for the same third party candidate, Donald Trump would be our next president.  And, our candidate would come in a distant third behind Hillary, and behind Trump.
Those of you who are seriously considering a protest vote, or worse not voting at all, PLEASE take a long, hard look at what your action would mean.  Politics in its current state stinks.  We desperately need reform which is why staying home makes no sense.  At the very least, we need to rid the system of those Senators and Representatives who have been collecting a paycheck but refusing to do their jobs.  But, fixing the broken system will take all hands on deck, which means YOU need to show up at the polls.
Based on the facts–her voting record and her policy statements–Hillary Clinton will for the most part be a status quo president.  She will extend the kinds of policies President Obama has held, some of which have favored Wall Street and some of which have favored reform.  And, she will remain an active participant in world affairs.  Clinton has been, by far, the most scrutinized, investigated, and vetted politician in recent history.  Yet she has not once been indicted, charged, or sanctioned.
I agree with those who say character is paramount.  In fact in this election, personal integrity matters more to me than where the candidates stand on any single issue or every issue combined.  And, while voting for a third party candidate might make me feel better about not compromising my own principles for the sake of politics, too much is at stake for me to cast a feel good vote. No matter how much we might want the situation to be different, Americans are stuck with two viable choices for president–Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
If you are sincerely concerned about Hillary Clinton’s integrity you should be terrified by Donald Trump‘s.  Including four bankruptcies, multiple suits over the dysfunctional Trump University, charges by the federal government for rental discrimination in the 70’s, tenant intimidations in the 80’s and conspiracy to avoid paying union pensions and welfare contributions for undocumented workers when the Trump Towers were built, Donald has spent millions in legal battles. Most often he decided to pay settlements in order to avoid having to admit guilt.  Outside of his business dealings, Trump regularly makes ugly racist and sexist remarks.  He has indicated that once he becomes president he plans to not only break international laws but also blatantly ignores our constitution and even order the military to commit war crimes, clearly displaying an attitude that he is above the law and plans to bully everyone who gets in his way.  By comparison, Hillary Clinton is guilty of only one thing for which we have proof–being a political fighter.
So, by all means vote your conscious. But please, please, make sure your conscience counts ALL the costs.
Posted by: minnow | July 15, 2016

Perception Problem

Hillary supports keep telling those of us who are considerably more reluctant to jump on her bandwagon that Clinton simply has a perception problem.  If people really knew her…if the media (and especially FOX News) would just give her a fair shake…if we quit drinking the GOP Kool-aid…then we’d see how genuine, relatable, trustworthy, intelligent, capable,…she is.  The trouble with this argument is, the more we hear it the less inclined we are to believe it.  I know, that’s not fair but that’s the way the cookie crumbles so deal with it.

Clinton needs to do more than draw a beer if she wants the Tech Gens (AKA voters age 18-40) to care about her election.  And, unless she cares about Tech Gen voters she will lose the election.  Time is running out.  The endorsements from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders will not be enough to sway 18 to 40 year olds to vote for Clinton, especially when doing so feels like compromising one’s principles.  Frankly, Tech Gen voters give little weight to endorsements, ad campaigns, a deep resume, or big money.  In fact, those elements tend to contribute to the negative impression and make her less relatable.  Clinton, more than Trump, must change her base message if she plans to attract more that the party base come election day.

The biggest negative Clinton carries at the moment is the real or perceived attitude that she’s “owed” the election. Some thinks she has the attitude because she stood by her husband when he was a cad. Others think she has it because the DNC promised her the presidency so long as she raised money for them which she most assuredly has done. Still others think she’s counting on Wall Street to buy it for her.  Very few believe she’s earned it the old fashioned way–through hard work. Ironically, if she continues to harp on the part of her message which focuses on what SHE has done or what SHE is going to do, even fewer voters are going to give a damn–deciding instead that SHE doesn’t need their help.

To win come fall, Hillary Clinton must cut the word “I” out of her vocabulary, unless it’s followed by “am sorry” or “am saddened by”.  She needs to remind the electorate–just like Sanders did, that we are in this together, that accomplishing our goals will take every single one of us, that Government of the People means the people MUST get involved.  She can’t continue to allow the perception to be perpetuated that SHE is a one-person show.  Every single chance she get she needs to surround herself with family–not necessary her family but American families–the general public, not other politicians, or the wealthy elite.  I’m not saying put her in a kitchen to bake cookies. But, I am saying maybe she should be seen reading a children’s book to some kindergartners.  Maybe she needs to visit a VA hospital, buy a plum at a a farmer’s market, or check out an internet cafe.  Let her stand at a podium looking presidential during the debates but in the meantime, she ought to be seen at a town meeting that’s held in a school gym rather than some ritzy hotel.  The walls Hillary must endorse are the ones that are easily washed away; she should let her hair get a little wind blown, kick off her shoes, role up her pants, take a walk in the gulf sand and join some children building a castle, children whose futures she wants to protect.

Damn right Clinton has a perception problem. But, if she’s going to overcome it, we need more than words of assurance that it shouldn’t exist.  If we are going to connect with Hillary Clinton, if she is going to successfully win our votes, we have to believe she wants, sincerely wants, to connect with us.  We have to believe she wants our input, not simply our vote.  We need to see her reaching out, tuning in, and rolling up her sleeves to join the battles WE have already been fighting.  If Clinton is going to win this election, the talking points and talking heads can’t be focused on Hillary.  Her language, her demeanor, her message must shift the focus away from herself and onto hard working, middle class Americans. In order to unify voters Clinton must be about doing–together–what is right for America.  If this is not who Hillary is, or who she is willing or able to become, she will lose the election.

 

Posted by: minnow | July 11, 2016

Black and Blue

I recently read a passionate and heart felt post from Jay Stalien that a FB friend reposted. While lengthy it shared his unique experience as an African-American and a police officer.  I believe we can all learn a lot from what he has to say so please check out his message for yourself. In this post, I do not intend to deny or belittle Stalien’s experience in any way.  Yet having said that, I found a few of his statements troubling and would like to discuss them further.

Stalin wrote, “Black Lives do not matter to most black people. Only the lives that make the national news matter to them.” He went on to quote statistics about Black on Black crime, comparing them to the statistics of officer related shootings.  Truly, Black on Black homicides number in the thousands every year.  BUT, our country contains millions of African-Americans. The vast majority of whom are solid citizens who care deeply about the their families, our communities, and this nation. We must take care that we don’t use the dramatically large numbers of one situation (Black on Black crime) to distract us from the reality of the other (Blue on Black crime).  We must also guard against the ease with which we vilify entire groups by failing to make necessary distinctions between the parts and the whole.

Another troubling phrase used by Stalien in his post was “…cops who were assassinated in Dallas [were] protecting the very people that hated them the most. ” This statement implies that the peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters who marched in Dallas hated the police. It further implied they condoned the actions of a lone gunman who brutally murdered five officers and injured seven others, including two civilians.  This implication could not be further from the truth.  Protesting injustice is NOT the same as hating a group of people. As concerned citizens we do not need to choose between supporting good police officers and insisting people of color receive justice.  To think otherwise is divisive and short-sighted.

The last statement I wish to address, “I realized the African American community refuses to look within to solve its major issues, and instead makes excuses and looks outside for solutions.” may apply to some in the African-American community however, blanket statements such as this are not helpful. They discount the hundreds of thousands of people who work tirelessly to find solutions to the problems facing African-Americans. Pointing out that one of the problems people of color face in America is systemic racism is not the same as making excuses. Instead, it draws attention to the fact that a disproportionate number of people of color are stopped by police daily, a disproportionate number of people of color are arrested for, convicted of, and serve longer sentences for the same crimes committed by Whites, and a disproportionate number of people of color suffer from unemployment, a lack of educational opportunities, and serious to severe poverty. We can point to the exceptions to the rule–those few who have overcome serious obstacles–and pretend they prove that a person who is willing to work will automatically succeed, or we can begin to understand the real tolls inequality, racism, and unacknowledged privilege take. Our actions, more than our words, show whether or not we believe these types of prejudice are unacceptable.

Stalin wants us to look at the serious problem of Black on Black crime.  And well we should. According to crime statistics collected by the FBI, in 2013 Black Americans took the lives of 2245 other Black Americans.  And, over 90 percent of the homicides in the Black community were committed by other Blacks. These are horrifying statistics.  (For comparison purposes over 80 percent of the homicides in the White community were committed by other Whites).

As serious as these numbers are, criticizing protesters from the Black Lives Matter group because they focus on a different type of violence is unfair, especially since the issue which causes them concern is every bit as serious and may impact how well we are able to address Black on Black crime.  In January of 2015 The Washington Post began tracking fatal shootings by the police. In their  article, “Aren’t more white people than black people killed by police? Yes, but no.”, the Post revealed some startling findings. In just over a year and a half, 1502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty officers.  732 were white and 381 were black. If we simply compare raw numbers more than twice as many Whites were killed as Blacks.  The problem is while whites make up approximately 62 percent of the population, Blacks only make up 13 percent.  At the same time, Whites account for under 50 percent of the police related fatalities and Blacks account for 24 percent, making Blacks 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than Whites.  To clarify this picture just a little bit more, according to the same article, “Of all of the unarmed people shot and killed by police in 2015, 40 percent of them were black men, even though black men make up just 6 percent of the nation’s population.”  Who can blame a Black person in America for distrusting the police when they are more than twice as likely as Whites to be killed by a police officer, even when unarmed?  And how likely would you be to call for help from the very group you distrust?

Yes, absolutely the vast majority of police officers do their jobs with integrity.  They deserve our respect and our support.  Likewise, and this fact is also too easily forgotten–the vast majority of Black people simply want to go about their business in peace.  They want to go home at night and feel safe.  They want to send their children out into the world and not worry.  They want to work with, not fear, the police. With authority comes great responsibility.  Every person who promises to protect and to serve takes on both.  Let us both hold them accountable and hold them in high esteem.

 

Posted by: minnow | June 21, 2016

It’s Been Over a Week

To be honest, I have often wanted to respond to offers of prayer–don’t bother.  But never more than at times like this.

Sunday morning (6/12), at approximately 2AM, a gunman went into a night club in Orlando, FL and began to murdered its patrons.  By 6AM the shooting stopped.  As a result, 50 people are dead. Dozens more are wounded. The violence profoundly impacted a community, cause hundreds of families and friends to mourn the loss of loved ones, and once again stunned a nation.  As the FBI and local authorities investigate we will find out more details about the shooter’s life, mental state, and beliefs than we care to know.  We will endure the continuous updates and repeated images of angry protesters, grieving sympathizers, and politicians trying to make a point, AKA score from the tragedy.

And, this vile act is a tragedy.  It reveals numerous opportunities where America has neglected to act rightly, where we have fail to protect our people, where our fear and ignorance have ruled the day over our compassion and intellect.  The fact we can refer to these tragedies in the plural, and they have their own category–mass shootings–boggles the mind.  For me, two issues dominate my FB page, news feed, and thinking in the wake of this heinous crime.  And no, I am not talking about the need for tougher immigration laws, escalating the conflict in the Middle East, shoving the LGBT community back into the closet, or finding Jesus. I am talking about the need for stronger gun control, and the role of religious hate.

The shooter in Orlando obtained his semi-automatic assault rifle legally.  He was known for violent out bursts and racist, homophobic, and sexist comments.  He was even investigated by the FBI and on a watch list.  Yet, he obtained his handgun legally. He had mental health issues.  He had known sympathies for extremist hate groups.  He was an American citizen.  And, he obtained his weapons legally.

Just so we’re perfectly clear: I personally don’t care about your gun rights!  When you refuse to come to the table to discuss reasonable laws regarding gun use and ownership your “rights” don’t deserve to be considered.  When you refuse to take responsibility for putting non-sport weapons in the hands of unstable people your “rights” don’t get a vote.  My rights and my children’s rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness trump your right to carry a gun that could kill multiple people in seconds.

And guess what–most Americans favor stricter gun regulations.  79 percent of Americans support background checks, 80 percent support preventing the mentally ill from buying weapons, and 61 % are neutral or would favor a ban–A BAN–on semi automatic weapons.  Yet Congress continues to stall and postpose any attempt to pass more stringent legislation regarding guns.  Why?  Well, between 2000 and 2012 the gun lobby poured $81 million dollars into House, Senate, and presidential races.

Our constitution does not give you or me unfettered freedom to do whatever we want whenever we want to whomever we want!  In fact, our Constitution quite frequently limits our freedom.  It regulates government but it also regulates individuals. The 2nd Amendment everyone is so anxious to defend, couples our right as an individual to bear arms with the need to maintain a well regulated militia.  And what does the phrase “well regulated” refer to?  It refers to the training a body of volunteer soldiers is expected to undergo.  Thus our freedom is paired with a responsibility, one we have severely neglected. So, if you stand with those who are unwilling to pass laws limiting  the sale and use of weapons–especially weapons of mass destructions–then in light of the most recent gun related tragedy in Orlando, take your oh so precious prayers and leave me and mine alone! Period.  prayer without feet is simply not good enough.

Now, while I am adamant on my stance about what the 2nd Amendment actually protects and our need for stricter gun laws the issue raised by the Orlando shooting which takes precedence for me today is the hate stirred up and passed off as righteousness by religion.  And, I’m not really talking about Islamic extremists; I’m talking abut Christian extremists because it’s their rhetoric which has begun to hijack my religion.  In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre, most Christian voices fell into two categories: vile hate mongers spewing all sorts of false accusations against Muslims and screaming condemnation of the LGBT community, and the much smaller group of people like Hugh Hollowell.

I refuse to give the hate rhetoric any more air time so you will find no links from me.  But I do want those people who have felt the sting from those voices to know this–they do not represent the Christian God of love.  They do not model the example of Christ we find in the Gospels.  Their words and actions come out of their own twisted fear-filled hearts.  They have no business claiming to speak for God.  While we need to figure out how to love them as well, we want you to know right now–there are gay and straight Christians alike who love you, who will support you in whatever ways we can, and who stand with you both in your anger and in your grief.  Please, forgive us for not doing more, sooner.

One last group of people need to be mentioned: the silent majority. In his post, Hollowell offers six guidelines to Christians who do not want to be counted among the hate mongers.  I recommend you read this post and apply his wisdom to your life.  Remaining on the sidelines with our mouths shut should no longer be an option.  Being ugly and spreading fear never was.  You do not need to know someone from the LGBT community or even agree with them on any topic in order to have a voice about the immorality of hate.  The time has come to speak out. Period.

 

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