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.

 

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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.

 

 

Posted by: minnow | May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

I’m one of the lucky few. All the soldiers I have known who went to war have come home. Far too many people cannot say that. MEMORIAL DAY remembers those who made the sacrifice of their lives so that we might know liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Those who made it home deserve our respect and our care but this day, MEMORIAL DAY, is to honor the fallen.

As you encounter veterans today please recognize that this day may be especially difficult for them. They may be remembering friends and family members who did not make it home. Some may be suffering survivors guilt as a result. America has been engaged in war for 147  of her 243 years as a nation. That’s well over half of her existence. During these wars 949,503+ soldier, as estimated by the Department of Veterans Affairs and reported in a 2017 Memorial Day article by The Los Angeles Times, lost their lives in battle. Today, even while we honor the dead more American soldiers will join their numbers. The Global War on Terrorism is the longest single war in American history and has cost more lives than were lost on 9-11. For many veterans coming home does not end the war they fight it only makes their battles invisible to those around them. An estimate 20 active duty soldiers as well as veterans commit suicide every day. These victims of war also deserve our respect.

There are many political issues concerning war, soldiers, veterans, and foreign policy that we need to wrestle with especially as the 2020 election approaches. But today, let us set aside our political issues. Let us recognize those who died defending a country they believed in, fulfilling a duty they felt obligated to fulfill, and facing an enemy on whom we, as a nation, declared war. Their sacrifices, their deaths, are burdens we all must carry. And, they cannot be carried lightly. Their lives had meaning. Their deaths should not go unnoticed. Let us not confuse the living with the dead. The blood of the dead paves the road to our future. Let us remember them. And, let us honor them by acknowledging what they gave to secure what we have.

Posted by: minnow | May 14, 2019

Such a Time as This

Today I learned another Democrat threw his hat in the ring as a candidate for president. Another well liked governor, this one from a red state, thinks he has what it takes. Another middle aged, white, male–surprise, surprise. I have nothing specific against Governor Bullock, from Montana, but, as a presidential candidate he’s just more of the same, back to politics as usual, and an attempt to forget America elected 45.

Bullock says all the right things, vowing to “take our democracy back” in his announcement address. He even some has evidence to support he means what he says. He pushed a red legislature to expand Medicaid in 2016 and to fund a pilot program for preschool education in 2017. In 2015 he signed the bipartisan Montana Disclosure Act which was upheld by the Supreme Court last February. MDA requires political committees to make public the donor names of committees that spend money on state-level elections. Finally, as a test balloon for today’s announcement, Bullock declared last summer he supported a ban on military grade semi-automatic weapons with removable clips and magazines of 10 or more. Later he clarified, it was something we should consider and he wouldn’t take guns away from hunters and  law abiding citizens. Hmmm… At any rate, Bullock offers Americans a “centrist Democrat” who  isn’t the front runner, Joe Biden. Huh?

The problem with Bullock, and frankly with Biden, is that middle America has all but vanished. The underbelly of old school politics that touted Reagan Democrats and Clinton Republican has been exposed. The facade is a fraud, a mask old white men in suits wear to hide behind while they manipulate the economy making themselves rich. True, blue-collar Democrats, like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have warned us about these political realities their entire careers. Sadly, it took the symptom of a 45 presidency to reveal how sick our democratic republic is. If candidates like Bullock and Biden had the country’s best interest at heart, they’d set egos aside and put their energy and political capital elsewhere.

So, what should they have done?

Well, Biden should have picked, and then thrown his support behind, one of the qualified women currently running. Period. Championing women is where America needs him most. It’s where he’s done the most good in the past and it’s how he could best serve now. As a “moderate” Democrat, Biden’s endorsement in the primaries might have thrust a particular candidate forward. It certainly would have sent a message of solidarity and resolve to the country–a message that we are in this together and that Democrats hear the people shouting, “We want to control our country”. As it is, Biden’s presence in the race reveals that the Democratic party still has far too many people willing to do politics as usual.

Bullock’s better choice might have been more difficult to make, but it would not have been more difficult than a run for the presidency to achieve. In 2020, Governor Steve Bullock of Montana should have taken on Senator Steve Daines of Montana. Plain and simple. As much as I wish it wasn’t true of my home state, being a white male here has its advantages. America needed Bullock to help turn the Senate blue, to remind Montanans that we can value family, hard work, our faiths, community, independence, the land, and freedom–without selling our souls. Instead, he’s one more example  that suggests playing politics is still more important to some Democrats than making government work for everyday Americans.

Before Governor Bullock announced his presidential bid I wrote him urging him not to run. I told him, he’d have my tireless support if he ran against Daines in 2020, but that if he announced for the White House I would work just as tirelessly against him. I still make that pledge. Some may call it hyperbole. After all, what can a middle-aged woman, on a limited budget, in a conservative state that takes over 9 hours to drive across, do? The truth is–not much. I can and I will VOTE. I can and I will be out spoken about what’s happening in this country, why we should all care, and what I think we need to do about it!

The first thing we need to do is understand this: the candidates who pledge to take us “back to a better day”, even just a time before 45, are not looking out for America’s best interest. Our past, distant or otherwise, is not a dream we should want to relive. The fake bravado with which we have regarded the rest of the world was born long before the 2016 election. Our decisions as a nation to enslave, intern, segregate, subjugate, marginalize, and demonize various people groups tarnish the ideals our Constitution points us toward. Our focus on profit margins, our insatiable consumption, and our inclination to horde belies our self proclaimed greatness and instead paint us as arrogant and afraid rather than free and brave.

Bullock and Biden are products of an era best left in the dust of progress. Don’t get me wrong, the Governor and the former Vice President are far from the self-absorbed, politically dangerous, whiner in the White House. These two men have served our country with personal and professional integrity. BUT, that is simply not enough.

America needs risk takers, problem solvers, and out of the box thinkers. We need to do more than tell ourselves we’re the envy of the world–we need to live up to our self proclaimed reputation. I believe the world is in crisis. And, America is on the brink of destruction–self destruction. It won’t happen tomorrow, but if we do not change course–it. will. happen.

For our first 243 years America proved that we could withstand all external threats. But, the danger we face today is not foreign. It will not be defeated with bombs, or boots, or other traditional weapons of war. It will only be defeated, if America wakes up and realizes our house is on fire.

Posted by: minnow | May 12, 2019

What Would My Mother Do?

I don’t know how well I knew my mother. She played her cards close to her chest and few strong emotions, or passions, ever escaped.  The phrase to describe my family: private…to a fault, originated with her. Most of what I understood about her was observed, or deducted through story telling (an activity I loved about my family). Mom was well liked, intelligent, well-read, kind, but also no nonsense. She enjoyed being with my father, socializing with her friends (most of whom were sorority sisters), reading, playing cards, going to the theatre–especially musicals, and (I think) interior decorating and party planning. (She had a talent for it at any rate). My mom was fiercely loyal, conservative, not particularly religious but a woman with a strong moral core. Professionally, she was stylish in her attire and well informed. I believe I would have liked her had I met her as an adult, though we may never have traveled in the same circles.

My mother and I were not particularly close. I allowed a heated exchange when I was in the fifth grade (the only time I ever remember my mother raising her voice to anyone) build a permanent wall between us. After that, as long as I did not demand attention via misbehavior, she left me alone and I told myself I preferred it that way.

This year I turned 60. At times that feels a whole lot older than at other times, especially these days when there’s trouble in the world and I feel helpless to do anything about it. “These days”–that phrase reminds me of the song from Fiddler on the Roof, “Do You Love Me”. Tevye, the father figure in the story, asks his wife if she loves him. Their daughters have been carried away by feelings of love and he wants to know if her feelings for him have grown over the years. She avoids the question by talking about the “trouble in the town” and their “daughters getting married” but he persists. The first time I saw the movie version of Fiddler on the Roof was with my parents. I remember watching my dad gently reach over and take a hold of my mother’s hand  during that song and I’ve never been able to watch that scene since without thinking of my parents.

So, what’s with the sudden nostalgia?

I miss my mom. It’s that simple. More than I ever remember missing her before. And, with the trouble in our nation I want to know what she would think. I want to know if she would be angry about the direction McConnell and 45 have taken the Republican party. I want to know if she would see what is happening with a sense of urgent concern or if, like far too many other upper middle class Republicans, she would point to the stock market and the low unemployment numbers and try to assure herself that everything was going to be fine, that the ship will right itself.

You see, my mother was never particularly outspoken–certainly not in public–though I knew she had strong opinions, a formidable character trait with deep roots. She did not appreciate spectacle, self-righteousness, or hyperbole, so I know at least that part of 45 would disturb her. My mother’s views were anchored to concepts like, personal accountability, civic responsibility, and intellectual integrity. And now, I want to know what would win out, if what is happening in the world would have pushed her out of her silent observer modality and into an activism, or at the very least the encouragement of activism. I want to know if the feminist and humanitarian I always gave her credit for being, would rise up to be heard. I guess what I really want to know is if I would have her support, her guidance, her wise encouragement and if we would stand together.

At 60, I face a society that does not honor age, does not value women, and does not embrace personal change. These facts leave me vulnerable. I believe the systems that, in my mother’s lifetime, were the pillars of society and seemed indestructible–government, church, family, and education–are cracking and at risk of collapse. And I see that our society, which relies on these institutions, has become less secure because their power brokers have been willing to sacrifice their stability for personal, immediate, gain. Even though those in power have doubled down on their efforts to maintain control and those who do not yet feel in danger of falling may not want to hear that our structures are unstable, those of us who see the danger must rise up. We must sound the alarm. WE must right this ship.

We cannot simply go back to the way things were, for the way things were brought us to this point. We have reached the place in our journey where we must forge a new path if we are going to preserve the integrity of our principles. The only way to repair our foundations is to recognize the threat to their existence comes from within and then to remove the rot. I believe more Americans have anchored their lives to the principles my mother’s life exemplified–personal accountability, civic responsibility, and intellectual integrity–than have given in to blame, self aggrandizement, and intellectual fraud. I believe those voices–if they choose to be heard–can still make a difference, that it is not too late, that our destruction is not inevitable.

I believe the women in my family–my Mother, her Mother, and my Great Grandmother before her–would stand with me, if they could. I believe, as we look toward an uncertain future, these women would encourage me to embrace the challenge, to forge a better path forward for the whole, and to never give up hope that the greater good will prevail. So, that is what I choose to do. That is how I  honor my Mother on Mother’s Day.

Posted by: minnow | April 28, 2019

A Record Number

A record number of women are running for president and any one of them, including Marianne Williamson, would be better than the person currently holding the office. But just being better than 45 is not where we should set the bar. So, I won’t suggest we consider Williamson. As for the rest of the women in the pack, we ought to take a closer look.

With the integrity, intelligence, experience, and proven successes of these women we honestly have no reason not to vote for one of them. Four have proven themselves as senators and before that, as lawyers. One was a state Attorney General, another a law school professor, and yet another a military veteran before becoming a state Representative. Yet, I keep hearing things like–“But is the country ready for a female president?” followed by the wringing of hands and the ridiculous suggesting that to learn from what happened to Hillary we should not push so hard for “a woman”.

Really!?!

I get “being a woman” can’t be the next president’s only qualification for the job but let’s face facts–Hillary Clinton was the most qualified person to run for the presidency in my life time, possibly in forever. And still, the media covered her like being a woman was her greatest, sometimes her only, accomplishment. Not every slight, women in this race face, qualifies as sexism. However, we must insist the media does its job and considers the qualifications and policy proposals these women put forth.

As for a few of the male contenders…Like much of the country, I’m surprised by the rise of Pete Buttigieg to the level of serious candidate. And while he might attract younger voters, the Mayor is weak on substance. So, if he wants to be a serious contender for the top spot he’s going to have to up his game. Progressives love Bernie, no question. I voted for him in the primaries and was sickened by how the DNC treated him in 2016. But this is not 2016. We should thank Sanders for giving progressive issues a platform, but age and gender hurt him and frankly, we still need his presence in the Senate. Beto couldn’t beat Cruz. Enough said. Former Vice President Biden was the left–15 years ago. He deserves our thanks for his years of unselfish service but if this election turns into a fight for the middle–Democrats will lose. THERE IS NO MIDDLE. Senator Cory Booker is the last male candidate I want mention. He’s a phenomenal fund raiser, especially via PAC money and Big Pharm, which could be a red flag for some progressives. He’s been a strong voice on the issue of income inequality, and like Kamala Harris, was a fierce presence during the Kavanaugh hearings. Yet once again, what he brings to the table is not unique and his presence is needed in the Senate.

Did you know Senator Kristen Gillibrand can speak Mandarin? I’m guessing if you do, it’s because you saw the same FB meme I did and not because the mainstream media has seen fit to think her language skills are much of a story, despite their fawning over Buttigieg’s. In her launch for the presidency Gillibrand asks: Will Brave win? She pits her optimism for the country against 45’s fear mongering and has a record worth promoting. She’s a passionate advocate for the #MeToo movement, voted against the Wall Street bailout, and rejected corporate and individual PAC money. Gillibrand’s views have become more progressive with her move from the House to the Senate as she’s co-sponsored a Medicare for All bill back in 2017 and has voiced strong support for the Green New Deal.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii and Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota are the underdogs in this group of strong female voices. In her announcement, Gabbard, the youngest woman running and an Army National Guard veteran, made her military stance clear, stating, “We must stand up… against powerful politicians from both parties who sit in ivory towers thinking up new wars to wage [and] new places for people to die.” The statement was met with cheers. Klobuchar sees herself and a strong supporter of unions and the working class. She’s tired of the divisiveness in politics and wants to turn our obstacles into opportunities.

The biggest criticism against Senator Kamala Harris is that she’s cautious–plays it safe and close to the vest. Like Booker, much of Harris’ campaign money comes from law firms and lawyers, securities and investments, and real estate. She has carefully built her political capital–for this moment–and seems to be swinging for the fence. On the trail, Harris is for reparations, legalizing pot, reasonable gun laws, and the Green New Deal–despite voting “present” when it actually came up for a vote. She is eloquent, poised, and pointed–a strong contender.

Elizabeth Warren is my personal favorite, for several reasons. She makes the economy, racism, and campaign finance reform issues worth talking about. She’s not afraid to offer up policy specifics, like easing the burden of school loan debt and affordable healthcare. And finally, Warren knows how Washington works. She has not been sucked in to the power for the most willing puppet exchange, and thus far has managed to avoid being eaten alive. Given the vindictive natures of the current occupant of the White House and the Senate Majority Leader Warren’s survival in politics is no small feat.

All the ladies running for president of the United States have impressive resumes. Some of them are already proposing legitimate policy changes and a workable progressive direction for the country. Even so, they still poll in the single digits, if their campaigns have registers at all. SO YES, we need to talk about THE WOMEN running for president. We can’t let gender become their only message. We must make sure these women are seen, their voices heard, and their ideas given a platform. MADAM President–should only be the icing on the cake.

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