Posted by: minnow | January 20, 2020

Birds of a Feather

Will Rogers once said, “It is easier to fool a man than to convince him he’s been fooled.” How sad this truth is in our current world. Right now in the United States, a large portion of the American public is being duped. And, most of the Republicans in the US Senate hope their constituents will remain ignorant for a little while longer. They don’t want us to understand how Mitch McConnell subverts the Constitution. They don’t want us to see the evidence of the President’s wrong doing for ourselves or demand we hear from relevant witnesses. They want the American people to remain confused about what the job of the House WAS and what the job of the Senate IS. As long as they confuse us they can bend and break the rules, they can stir up frustration and anger, and they can avoid accountability. They continually cast blame and pretend the President, and not the people’s trust, is the victim. They don’t want us to point out how the Constitution orders them to conduct the business of government because that would get in the way of how they want to conduct their business. It is an inconvenient truth that our representatives do not get to do whatever they please and some in our government do not want you to understand that truth. 

Read the US Constitution for yourself, not like you “read” the phone transcript–by saying you should (because that’s what the President said) but not actually doing it (just as the President calculated). Actually, read the Impeachment clauses. Then understand this: the job of the House is to decide if impeachment is warranted. That means–the House forms a committee to investigate. The committee considers charges, seeks information, and looks at the evidence against the President in order to determine if a trail is justified. Once the investigators line out the evidence and present it to the whole body, the body votes, much like a grand jury. A YES vote means the House found enough evidence to go forward with a trial. A NO vote means the House did not find sufficient evidence to move forward. For only the third time in our nation’s history, the House vote confirmed the majority saw enough evidence to suggest significant wrong doing on the part of our 45th president. He should be allowed to defend himself and so we should proceed to the next phase of the impeachment–the trial.

All the belly-aching by the GOP about not giving the President an opportunity to counter the testimony or discredit the evidence against him was premature, a distraction in order to confuse the process in the minds of the American people, and as it turns out, a hollow critique. The House is not charged with the duty of conducting a trial–the part of the process where counter arguments are made, evidence is refuted, and witnesses are cross examined. The trial–what the Republicans pretended was happening during the hearing–is still to come. The trial is the part of the process left to the Senate.

Now however, Senator Mitch McConnell, who has publicly stated he is in league with the president with regard to the impeachment –does not want the evidence to be presented or the witnesses to be called. He has decided the opening arguments must be heard first, and then “we’ll see” if witnesses are necessary. The Senator does not want the truth to come out. He cannot avoid the trail, but he will do what he can to limit its scope and limit our access. He has already place severe restrictions on the Press.

Rest assured, Mitch McConnell’s mind is made up. He will pressure his Republican colleagues to acquit the President but he would rather do his arm twisting behind closed doors and having to deny, while the public stares it in the face, as little truth as possible. The fact that, since his appearance on FOX, the Senator has signed an oath to conduct the impeachment trail in an unbiased manner just goes to prove how dimwitted he believes the American people to be. And if his brazen statements on the Hannity Show truly revealed his hand, Mitch McConnell himself deserves to be impeached.

Will the public continue to be fooled? That is left to be seen. You can work to insist these proceedings be as fair and unbiased as possible. Call your senators. Tell them you expect them to honor their oaths of office and defend our Constitution even if it means crossing party lines. Urge them to demand to see all the evidence and hear all the testimony pertinent to the charges brought against the President. And finally, make it clear that the American people want access to this trial. The Bill of Rights guarantees us a free and unfettered press and we require nothing less!

Posted by: minnow | November 3, 2019

I Would Not Resign

This week Katie Hill, newly elected millennial Democrat from California resigned from the House. In her statement she points out the double standard under which we operate. Still, she resigned. She pointed out how the person holding the highest office in the land was heard bragging about his sexual assaults and was still elected, supported by the religious right–the self-proclaimed “moral authority” in our nation. Yet she resigned. She explained that the pictures of her, which have caused the uproar, were taken and published without her knowledge and against her will. She further explained that she and those closest to her have received threats, including the threat of a slow leak of more photos which she believed would continue to be a distraction from the only person who deserves to be investigated–the President. So, her last act as a Congresswoman was to vote for the Impeachment resolution against 45. And then she resigned.

I would NOT have resigned.

Don’t get me wrong, I do not fault Ms Hill for acting within her own conscious but I would not have given in to the despicable behavior of the right. In my speech to Congress I would, perhaps, have pointed out the same double standard Hill highlighted but I would have come to a different conclusion for how to respond. Hill was elected to do a job. As far as anyone has seen she has been doing just that. Certainly being publicly dragged through the mud by ugly, vicious people whose only hope is that she gives in is not something we have a right to ask another person to endure. Feeling overwhelmed and having to explain to family, friends, colleagues, and constituents is difficult, maddening, and an embarrassment.  Yes, it would be a distraction. Yes, it is exhausting. Yes, threats are frightening. YES! Yes. yes… BUT–The double standard would have made it imperative for me to stand my ground.

Bullying tactics are used because they succeed. Lies are repeated because they work. And they work because nice people, kind people, empathetic people, moral people don’t stand up to bullies, don’t want to rock the boat, don’t want to put our families, friends, and colleagues through the pain. We don’t want innocent people, whose only “crime” is being associated with us, to be targeted. Our mistakes or even our causes shouldn’t cause others suffering. When the cost is measured late in the game–after the dirt comes out or the struggle begins, it almost always becomes too great to let our allies bear. After all, they didn’t sign up for THAT.

I sound heartless, but I honestly believe we don’t care about the other, about justice, freedom, or truth. At least, we don’t yet care about them enough. Sure, the GOP and 45 have sullied our nation’s reputation throughout the world, but most of us think–even if 45 is re-elected, we’ll be able to weather the storm. Most of us may be a little worried about climate change, a little tired of endless wars, a little frightened by mass shootings, or a bit concerned about the cost of healthcare but most of us are still “doing okay”. We take care of our own and don’t know many people outside our immediate circles. Most of us don’t see the people who aren’t “doing okay”. The homeless guy panhandling outside the grocery doesn’t count. He may causes us a twinge of guilt as we pass by. But we tell ourselves he can go to the homeless shelter if he really needs help and chose to be irritated that we even feel guilty. After all, how can we know we wouldn’t just be feeding an addition.  When we get to our car we flip on some music for a distraction and forget about him by the time we pull out of the parking lot.

I understand that asking Katie Hill to stay and fight would be asking her to do something I haven’t signed up to do myself. And so, I don’t ask. Still, I wish she’s stayed. I’d like to be writing a blog defending her right to remain in Congress, to do the job she was elected to do. I want I be telling the double standard bearers of the GOP to go look in a mirror, which is kind of ironic. The saddest lesson in the whole Katie Hill saga is that until doing that which is right becomes more valuable to us than our personal comfort and security, we will continue to let the bullies win. Regardless of how well intended our ideas are, until defending them becomes a matter of personal integrity we remain a people protected by our privilege, insulated by good fortune, and unwilling to take an honest account of ourselves.

Posted by: minnow | October 13, 2019

From Which Rock Were You Hewn

The meme to the left says everything that needs to be said except for one thing. While it specifically references the Supreme Court, it really should be talking to each and every one of us. WE are responsible for what this Supreme Court does. We allowed the current administration to come to power. We allowed the Republican Congress to hamper President Obama. We did not bothered to vote in 2016. We are bored with politics.

Of course somewhere within the conversation someone asserts that we aren’t personally homophobic or racist or sexist or xenophobic which makes us ALL feel much better about our white privilege. These assertions also seem to justify proclaiming how the current state of affairs in the United States isn’t really our fault with memes  like the one to the right. But such an attitude is incorrect. We allow this president to represent us every single time we fail to speak out. When we’re too tired to call or write our Senators and Representative, when we excuse our lack of action with thoughts or statements like–“other people will call” “my vote doesn’t make a difference” “I already know what my ____________ is going to do/say”, when we watch someone else get harassed and fail to speak out, or when we tone police those who are angry, hurt, or oppressed and choosing to speak out, we are in essence supporting this president in all his ugliness.

The truth is–people in LGBTQ communities, people of color, people who practice faiths which aren’t specifically labeled Christian, and many women, live in fear in the United States. How well the Stock Market does should not matter when in fact the actions from the current administration whittle away at our freedom. His behavior services foreign dictators. And his policies concentrate more and more wealth in the top one percent. Our president has spit on the Constitution. His rhetoric stokes the flames of bigotry, hate, and fear. And, his attitudes undermine the security of our nation. This president does not deserve our allegiance or our respect–he deserves our contempt and our outrage. And, his followers–those neophytes who stand behind him at his ego rallies with gaping smile, ignorant chants, and a collective refusal to consider facts–do not deserve equal time with a mic. They deserve a cold shoulder. They deserve to be shutdown and shut up. They deserve to be ushered back to the rock from which they crawled.

To 45’s base I say–justify locking children in cages. Justify our nation turning its back on our allies and leaving them to be slaughtered. Justify thumbing your nose at the Constitution. Justify stealing from military families and veterans to built a useless wall. Justify the evil results of this administration’s policies. And  then, and only then,  point to our economy–which is actually leaving more and more of the working class behind–and pretend it is a good enough reason to support this president.

45 has already been given every chance he deserves to prove he cares about anyone or any thing other than himself. He does not. The time for deference toward him because of the office he holds has past. I will never support this president because this president will never change. Your right to expect graciousness from anyone impacted by this man or his administration has come to an end. I will not over look your bigotry. I will not ignore your greed. And, I will not give your white privilege a pass.

Posted by: minnow | October 9, 2019

Defending Under-Dogs

Greta Thunberg may have started out a lone figure protesting climate change but she, and we, have found many others in her generation are as vocal and as active as she is. That fact gives me hope. And, it should scare the heebie-jeebies out of the Michael Knowles, Robert Jeffress, and Laura Ingrahams of the world.

Here’s a look at a few other young people giving their voices, time, and resources to the issues of climate change, toxic water, and our violated environment. Autumn Peltier, 15, is a fresh water advocate from Canada. Bruno Rodriguez, 19, from Buenos Aires recently addressed the UN calling climate change the “political, economic and cultural crisis of our time.” And, Helena Gualinga, 17, uses social media to fight for the rights of indigenous people. She believes that if the rights of indigenous people are protected the land will not be exploited. Tokata Iron Eyes, a Native American activist from Standing Rock recently admonished her audience in front of the US Capitol to “remember that you are always going to be a part of the very ground that you stand on. There is no us without her.” Mari Copeny, better know as Little Miss Flint has been in the fight since she was 8. Sadly, the Flint water crisis is no better than it was five years ago. A flash point in the 2016 presidential election, the crisis in Flint has largely been ignored  by the adults in the room since then, though Copeny continue to raise money and awareness. The group of young people who created Zero Hour have participants all across the nation with the goal “to sound the alarm and call for action on climate change and environmental justice.” Madeline Tew, the groups financial director secured a $16,000 dollar grant from Common Sense Fund. According to Tew the goal isn’t simply to build “more cooperative farms” but to marry sustainable environmental policies with business so “we can continue the American economy’s future.”

It is bad enough to dismiss the ignorance of climate change deniers  but when the talking heads and fake experts in the Republican party start slandering and patronizing young people the adults in the room need to stand up. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! We ought to be championing those young people who are brave enough to speak up and actually DO SOMETHING about the problem of climate change. Our foolishness and greed has threatened their future. The very least we can do is support their right to protest.

Posted by: minnow | September 1, 2019

Your Thoughts and Prayers are Blasphemy

I will believe your thoughts and prayers are sincere when you denounce the hate filled rhetoric of the current administration. I will believe your thoughts and prayers are genuine when you begin to point out the problems of systemic racism, xenophobia, and poverty which are tearing our country apart. I will believe your thoughts and prayers are serious when your votes prove you expect your political leaders to solve the problem of gun violence in the United States. I’ll believe your thoughts and prayers are heart felt when you stop stigmatizing the mentally ill by blaming metal illness every time a white male opens fire on a group of innocent people. I’ll believe your thoughts and prayers are serious when you write letters to your state legislatures, US Representative, and US Senators demanding stricter gun laws. I’ll believe your thoughts and prayers  are heart felt when your thoughts and prayers grow hands and feet and protest voices.

You’ve heard it all before–the US has a gun violence problem. But while the president’s latest ploy is to blame mental illness the truth is, unlike every other developed country with mental illness or violent video games the US has access to guns. Even though poll after poll shows a majority of Americans want stricter gun laws the president talks big and then listens to the NRA. Even though the Democratically lead House has passed multiple bills to curb gun violence, the Republican lead Senate–controlled Mitch McConnell–refuses to act on the will of the people.

Over his career, Mitch McConnell has received $1.2 million dollars from gun rights groups and the NRA has consistently given him an A rating. Can you imagine how many bills you’d have to squash over the course of 35 years to get straight A’s from the NRA? Senator McConnell, if you’re watching, on August 31, 2019, near Midland and Odessa, Texas at least 5 more people were killed and 21 more people were injured from yet another mass shooting in the United States. Their blood is pooling at your feet.

51 innocent people were gunned down in August alone. According to the Gun Violence Archive the US has seen 281 mass shootings since January 1 resulting in 305 deaths. That’s more mass shootings so far this year than we’ve had days.  Even so, those horrific figures don’t begin to tell the full story of gun violence in America. To do that we would need to count those killed during domestic squabbles, accidents, home invasions, and suicide. That total is nine thousand nine hundred thirty-eight.

Maybe part of the problem is we are actually numb to it all–numb to parishioners killed while they pray, numb to students shot in school, numb to shoppers slaughtered while buying school supplies. One of Saturday’s victims, a 17 month old girl, was hit in the face by a bullet fragment. She was airlifted to Lubbock and is currently in stable condition. Her parents are probably numb from shock–but yeah, the rest of us…the rest of us are mostly desensitized.

Of course, some folks continue to push back. These are using humor to point out the hypocrisy of politicians and their supporters sending thoughts and prayers while refusing to actually do what they could to change a situation for the better. But, humor just doesn’t work for me any more, not when we’re talking about the difference between life and death. Your thoughts and prayers, for yet another group of people torn apart by preventable gun violence, are a blasphemy against the Creator. I will not pretend civil conversation, calmly discussing the Second Amendment while innocent lives hang in the balance, is an option any longer.

I want change and I want it, yesterday. I want laws put in place to stop hateful people from getting their hands on guns. I want people held accountable for selling and owning guns that are used to commit a crime, and for using guns to kill innocent people. I think guns should be registered and owners licensed and insured. I want weapons of war–assault style rifles and hand guns with large capacity magazines–taken off store shelves and city streets. I want back ground checks, and red flag laws, and waiting periods. If it’s costly to own and operate a motor vehicle that is involved in an accident, it should be very expensive to kill a person with a gun, even in self defense.

At least 5 people are dead in West Texas. And since McConnell didn’t bother to call the Senate back in session after El Paso or Dayton we shouldn’t expect him to do so now. What the public needs to do is start counting down the day to when Mitch McConnell and his A from the NRA cronies can be voted out of office. As of this writing there are 429 days until November 3rd 2020. Make them count.

 

Posted by: minnow | August 5, 2019

Dear Congress, NRA advocates, and Gun Owners,

I went to bed Saturday, August 3rd thinking about 20 people who lost their lives in El Paso, TX due to hate and the fact Congress refuses to pass sensible gun laws in this country. I woke Sunday morning, August 4th, to learn another 10 people lost their lives in Dayton, OH for the same reason.  29 DEAD in less that 24 hours and over 40 injured. Today, August 14, I came home to the news that a stand-off between police and a shooter has already injured 6 officers in Philadelphia and is on-going. We’ve seen 40 mass shootings in the past month alone, 62 people dead and hundreds injured not to mention more who have been traumatized. The Gun Violence Archives needs 11 pages of single line entries just to cover the number of separate mass shooting incidents since January 1, 2019.

Folks, we have a gun violence problem in the United States of America. We have a white nationalist terrorist problem. We have a domestic gun violence problem. And it’s past time to take these problems seriously. This should not be a state’s rights issue because the impact one state’s weak gun laws has on another state’s security is deadly–just ask the victims of last week’s shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. And don’t try to suggest that more guns in the hands of more people would curb the violence. It took the police less than a minute from the first gun shot to take out the shooter in Dayton and still he killed at least 9 people and left 27 injured.

While the majority of Americans want sensible gun laws, Washington sends thoughts and prayers and little else. According to the Quinnipiac University Poll 63% of Americans support banning assault style weapons. 94% support background checks before people are allowed to purchase guns. 65% believe banning high capacity magazines would reduce gun violence. And, 58% believe it’s more important to control gun violence than protect gun rights. No doubt the protests which arose after the Stoneman Douglas shooting in Florida helped Democrats turn the House blue in 2018. But the Senate, thanks in large part to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, has thus far blocked all gun safety legislation to come their way.

The next election is November 3, 2020–a little more than a year away. If you don’t already know, find out where your Representative stands on gun violence and vote accordingly. If your Republican Senator is up for re-election–like Montana’s Steve Daines, Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham are–vote for whomever is going against him or her! We will get sensible gun laws in this country ONLY if Americans make their voices heard via the ballot box and those we elect stand up to the NRA, gun lobbies, and gun manufacturers!

It is time for the American people to demand Their Senators and Representatives address this problem. And on that note, several groups have outlined what they see as a sensible way to begin. We need a law at the federal level that demands–

  • A two-week waiting period in order to conduct a back ground check.
  • An assault style weapon ban.
  • A 10 round magazine limit.
  • An end to cranks and bump stocks.
  • NO private or gun show sales without the same wait period and back ground check as a store.
  • Licensing and registration for all weapons.
  • A domestic abuse ban.
  • A minimum age of 21 to purchase a fire arm.
  • Mandatory safety and firearm use classes that must be passed before you are legally allowed to fire a weapon.
  • And last but not least, mandatory child locks on gun storage lockers.

As a person from a red state, with a family history of hunting I am NOT OKAY with the status quo and you shouldn’t be either. Even if you are, or perhaps especially if you are, an avid hunter or someone who enjoys competitive shooting wise practice should be something you advocate for. If you bring a gun into your home to protect your family, it only stands to reason that you don’t want that weapon to be the cause of your son’s or daughter’s death or injury. And every hunter knows you don’t need a magazine to fire more than 10 rounds or your skills as a marksman need considerable improvement.

It’s time we look at the facts, and start talking solutions that don’t make more people feel less safe. We must at least try to decrease gun violence in our schools, at our shopping malls, and on our streets. I am willing to listen to alternatives if you sincerely believe the measures above are too punitive or unreasonable but I want you to consider the fact that personal vehicles didn’t suddenly disappear because society decided to put parameters around their use. And I’ll give you a fair warning, if refuse to even consider sensible gun regulations then don’t bother to comment. If your rhetoric indicates that you love your guns more than most people love their children, your comments will be deleted. And finally, if you send up thoughts and prayers every time a tragedy strikes but your votes and opinions don’t support your thoughts and prayers, then please, don’t bother sending them–blood red hypocrisy isn’t a good color on anyone.

Posted by: minnow | July 20, 2019

PSA

I saw the meme to the left this morning and it reminded me of a conversation I had with my son just yesterday. We were talking (or maybe I was talking) about the futility of writing Senators and Representatives who have already shown they side with 45, especially with regard to race related issues like the humanitarian crisis on our border. I suggested a better place to send our complaints, concerns and urgings would be to visual media outlets and news papers. Why not bombard the wall Street Journal, CBS News, or the Houston Chronicle with our postcards and letters demanding that Americans wake up and our politicians listen to the people. If a news paper got 100 letters to the editor on a single topic they’d need to print at least some of them. If ABC was flooded with demands that they cover the border crisis more accurately or loose viewers–they’d do it.

So here’s my proposal. Instead of wasting time, energy and stamps writing Congress men and women who have already made their positions clear write your local newspaper. Instead of whining to a def and dumb GOP tell your nightly news channel you expect more from them. Tell Congress via the public media that their jobs are on the line if they don’t start listening to their constituents. And, tell the media outlets their viewership will go down if they can’t be relied on to REPORT the news instead of obsessing on the latest outrage from the commander of tweets.

Memes on social media reach the people who already think the way you do–there are literally algorithms for that. It’s time for the rest of our communities to be woken up! We need to get creative and we need to impact the masses.

Posted by: minnow | June 22, 2019

These Camps by Any Other Name Still Stink

AOC’s use of the term Concentration Camp is accurate–whether defined by Merriam-Webster or by history. What we need to remember is the mass murder of Jews and other undesirable groups in WW II concentration camps (which is the association the GOP and others don’t want us to make) was deemed the “final solution”. Sadly, the United States might just be getting started. Although we may not like the perception, America has become (if we weren’t all along) a country that is quite capable of severely inhumane treatment of INNOCENT people. And whether or not we like that self perception we aren’t going to solve the problem by quibbling over semantics.

What matters most are the deplorable conditions and treatment children receive in these facilities. While alarm bells have rung over recent deaths of children in these detention centers, immigrant deaths is not exactly a new problem. According to the Nation more people died in fiscal year 2017 than in any single year since 2009. In February, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department received more than 4500 complaints of sexual assault in the last four years alone, with an increase noted since 45’s policy to forcefully separate children from their parents. Additionally, Newsweek reported this week (6/20/19) that the current administration actually insisted it is not part of their job to provide immigrant children with basic hygiene products, like soap and toothbrushes, and sleeping on cold cement floors is adequate care. According to a Wall Street Journal article from October 2018, “It costs about $750 a day per child to keep children in such emergency shelters, according to government data. The average permanent shelter spends about $250 a day per child.” Think about that for a moment. The government is paying someone between $250 and $750 dollars a day per child–let me say that again, between  $250 and $750 dollars a day per child–to house children, yet can’t even provide them with a toothbrush! But yeah, don’t call them concentration camps because that, um, might conjure a negative image.

Well here is a negative image to try and get out of your head–A 17 year old mother and her premature baby were discovered by an advocacy group at the McAllen processing facility instead of in a hospital. Or this–A 2017 report on sexual assault and physical abuse in DHS component agencies indicates that while there were 33,126 complaints between 2010 and the time of the report only 570 were investigated. Or, this:

Related image

Children being held in cages under armed guards. PHOTO FROM WASHINGTON ENGLISH CENTER

To be clear–if this behavior existed under President Obama, or any other president, then that was wrong and we should have addressed the issue a lot soon. But, who started it really isn’t the problem now. THE PROBLEM IS children are being forcefully separated from their parents at our borders. The problem is children are being held in cages, not getting the medical care they need, and are not kept safe. The problem is how we treat these children causes long term trauma. The problem is the government is having difficulty reuniting parents and children. The problem is drugs are not being stopped, gangs are not being stopped, and other criminal activity is not being stopped; children and families are being stopped. The problem is for profit facilities are making a hell of a lot of money to do the bare minimum and they are doing the bare minimum badly.

Obviously, the United States needs a comprehensive immigration policy overhaul. However, the likelihood that will happen under the current administration is next to nil. Even so, you SHOULD be calling or emailing your Congress men and women to register your complaint about the current situation. Humanitarian legislation is currently being considered in both the House and the Senate. One of these stop gap measures must be passed. Your Representative and Senators need to know you’re appalled by the conditions being reported and that their lack of action will bite them in the butt later. We also need to start working NOW to replace this administration and the members of Congress who continually obstruct attempts to address the HUMANITARIAN problem at our border.

Posted by: minnow | June 20, 2019

If Not Now–When?

At 20%, Congressional approval ratings are in the toilet. The public sees Congress as not caring about the American people, unable to solve the problems the country faces, and more interested in playing politics than doing its jobs. Some will tell you that it doesn’t matter who is in control. They point to Obama first two years as president when Democrats controlled everything and plainly state Congress didn’t get anything done then either. However, perceptions are not always the same as reality–and the newest members of the House want you, the American public, to take a closer look.

The House is passing legislation. While media has been focused on “will they or won’t they Impeach”, the House has tried to protect preexisting conditions in healthcare, lower prescription drug prices, take care of veterans, save net neutrality, establish background checks for gun purchases, provide disaster relief, protect public lands, and pass the Equal Pay Act. Bills addressing these issues and more languish in the Senate gathering dust on the Senate Majority Leader’s desk. Meanwhile, McConnell and company ram conservative justices down the throat of the judiciary. 45 saw his 100th nominee confirmed the last week of April.

So with the 2020 election seemingly around the corner what should we do? Obviously the presidential race will receive the most media coverage. The first primary debates are scheduled for June 26 and 27. Elizabeth Warren will be the headliner for the first night, with Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke nipping at her heels. Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg will vie for top spot on night two, but Kamala Harris and Kirsten Gillibrand will make certain the ladies are not left out. This match up might mean fewer people watch night one compared to night two but it could also mean Warren establishes herself as the front runner to beat since Biden will no doubt spend at least part of his night in defense mode. WATCH BOTH DEBATES! Pay attention to what candidates actually say and figure out what resonates with the viewers. If we want to change the way Washington does its job–and we should–we must get involved NOW.  Armchair politicking works just about as well as armchair quarterbacking.

Although the top spot generally garners the most attention and what happens presidentially influences elections up and down the ballot, changing Congress will change Washington.  Shortly after the mid-term election, Five Thirty Eight‘s election analyst Nathaniel Rakich spent a little time predicting the future concluding it will continue to be an uphill battle for Democrats in 2020. 2016 proved running against 45 will not be enough for a presidential candidate to win. And it won’t be enough for a congressional candidate either! We must champion men and women who actually want to represent the people and who take key issues–healthcare, climate change, getting big money out of politics, immigration, and criminal justice reform–seriously!  We must elect these people and we must insist they keep their word!

Obviously, we cannot track every race or donate to every candidate that needs help. So find out who your Representative is and if your Senator is up for election. Do what needs to be done in those elections to elect the most progressive candidate possible. Below are lists of Representatives and Senators who are considered at risk. If your candidate appears on these lists that is where you should focus your time and resources. If not, consider helping a candidate from another state and on election day and the days running up to the election work to get out the vote.

Every member of the House is up for re-election. Several Democrats are considered vulnerable. Once the primaries are decided, these races need to be fiercely defended. Incumbents for these races include: Finkenhnauer in Iowa, Golden in Maine, Kim in New Jersey, Small in New Mexico, Rose, Brindisi, and Delgado in New York, Horn in Oklahoma, Cunningham in South Carolina, and McAdams in Utah. Fewer Republican seats appear to be vulnerable and must be vigorously challenged. These include: Woodall’s in Georgia, Bacon’s in Nebraska, Fitzpatrick’s in Pennsylvania, Hurd’s in Texas, and an open seat in North Carolina.

These Republican Senate seats are up for election: Mitch McConnell (KY), Lindsey Graham (SC), Thom Tillis (NC), Lamar Alexander (TN), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Susan Collins (ME), Bill Cassidy (LA), John Cornyn (TX), Tom Cotton (AR), Steve Daines (MT), Mike Enzi (WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Cory Gardner (CO), Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS), James Inhofe (OK), Martha McSally (AZ), David Perdue (GA), James Risch (ID), Pat Roberts (KS), Mike Rounds (SD), Ben Sasse (NB), and Dan Sullivan (AK). Alexander, Enzi, and Roberts announced they are not running for re-election which means Tennessee, Wyoming, and Kansas will have two “new” candidates to choose from. According to John Isaacs, writing for the Council for a Livable World, incumbents Doug Jones from Alabama is the most vulnerable Democrat and Cory Gardner of Colorado is the most vulnerable Republican. In addition, seats in Maine, North Carolina, and Iowa could also be turned blue. Additionally, Democrat Tom Udall of New Mexico is retiring so even though it is traditionally a blue state Republicans may focus some attention there as it’s considered open.

Congress’ 20% approval rating is OUR FAULT! We haven’t held our representatives accountable. We haven’t replaced the do-nothings with visionaries and problem solvers. And, 46% of those who could vote, haven’t voted! 2020 is our chance to change that fact! The time has come to prove there is no longer a magic middle in American politics. We have those who work for the wealthy–for big banks and CEOs who made million dollar bonuses after American taxpayers bail them out of trouble and for corporate giants who get away with paying no taxes despite billions in profits–and those who work for the rest of us, who see America as something better and more valuable than the profit margin for stockholders. But, we need the discouraged and disenfranchised to renew their strength and get to work. You can be that someone in 2020!

Posted by: minnow | June 17, 2019

Mourning

I woke up to heartbreaking news Saturday morning–both at a personal level and on a national scale. My friends’ trans daughter/niece was taken by suicide. I do not know what precipitated the suicide, if this kind and sensitive young woman had been assaulted or bullied, if she was tired of carrying the enormous weight of the current political and social climate in the US, or if she wrestled with a health issue, like depression. I do know any one of those options could be the case and the grief felt by her family and those who knew her would still be as deep. As for the other news, it seems Rev. Patrick Boyle was allowed to pretend he speaks for God while instead spreading hate at the “Make America Straight Again” New Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church conference in Orlando, Florida. Boyle’s type of preaching contributes to the toxic atmosphere rising in our country today. And, it’s really no surprise people are dying because of it.

I remember wondering, when I studied the Holocaust in high school, how it was possible for the people of Germany to be so callous. How could they watch while their friends and neighbors were rounded up, crammed into ghettos, later sent to concentration camps, and eventually murdered? But the truth is we don’t have to look far to find similar situations beginning to occur in America, right now. I’m not the first to make this comparison. Eye witnesses point to our southern border and cry out for the madness there to stop. We are caging children, ripping them away from their parents, and allowing them to die. Understanding how the holocaust happened in Germany is truly no longer difficult. The truth is, our own behavior before and during World War II is nothing to brag about. We did not begin to care about the Jews until pictures of emaciated survivors, piles of gassed bodies, and mass graves started showing up after the war. The truth is, our own lack of compassion turned asylum seekers away back then just like we are doing now, only back then we didn’t separate the children from their parents first.

Just like the Jews were not the only targeted group in pre-World War II Germany, the people  begging for refuge at our southern borders, while perhaps the most visible as far as the media is concerned, are not the only people at risk in the United States. POC, non-Christians–especially Muslims, and those in LGBTQ communities are also singled out for attack. Our own president uses vile names to refer to the refugee families at our border in order to dehumanize them. POC are accosted in public, sometimes by law enforcement but more often by ignorant white people embolden by the bigots they listen to. Right wing religious voices, like Patrick Boyle, Robert Jeffress, Franklin Graham, and James Dobson, routinely portray LGBTQ people as evil, dangerous, and even undeserving of life. All these leaders enflame their followers to hate and refuse to take responsibility for the violent results.

As people’s lives are threatened, as their security and freedom is whittled away by fear turned to anger and hatred, the name of God is sullied. While the Church remains silent, children are dying in cages. While the Church remains silent unarmed POC are shot down in the street by “peace” officers. While the Church remains silent LGBTQ people are assaulted, denied services, lose their jobs, rejected by their families, and ejected from the military. While the Church remains silent worshipers are shot in their mosques and their synagogues. While the Church remains silent, voices of hate lift up the name of God, spew their venomous rhetoric about these others, and pound new nails into the feet and hands of Christ. I do not understand the god they proclaim–it is surly not my God. But even more pressing–I do not understand the silence of the Church. And I cannot let silence have the final word.

Advocates for reform, like Martin Luther King, Tammy Baldwin, Elie Wiesel, Desmond Tutu, Alice Walker, and the list goes on realized–realize–that silence is deadly. Silence allows evil to exist, to grow, and to gain power. Silence makes room for and contributes to trauma and destruction. Silence serves the tyrant and leaves the oppressed vulnerable. Some are beginning to stand up and be heard. An openly gay man and several people of color are running for president as Democrats. A few voices within the Church, like Rev. William Barber, John Pavlovitz, and Nadia Boles Weber, are beginning to break the silence. But if hate is going to be drowned out, If the redemptive love of God is to be lifted up, we must add to their numbers.

 

 

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