Posted by: minnow | August 5, 2018


Without truth we can have no freedom.

Without freedom we can know no truth.

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by: minnow | August 1, 2018

What’s the Big Deal?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Posted by: minnow | July 20, 2018

Actions Speak Louder than Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by: minnow | July 7, 2018

What It Is and What It Isn’t

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by: minnow | July 4, 2018

Due Process

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

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

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

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

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

Impossible! Think again.

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states:

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

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


Posted by: minnow | July 1, 2018

I Will Be Civil

The Right says they care about civility. But, they take what people like Rep. Maxine Waters say, embellish and twist it, then create a lie to tell their base so they can fuel anger, and hatred, and violence not just toward Maxine but toward everyone they label “the Left” and all they see as less worthy. Are any on the Left guilty of similar behavior? Yes, I’m sure we could find some ready to exchange blow for blow. And we would probably find some who consider themselves intellectually superior. They’re there. Still, you would be hard pressed to find the same ugliness the same blatant lying coming from the leadership on the Left. So, I do not believe the Right when they say they care about civility or humanity. And, I will not believe the Right so long as they refuse to look in a mirror or so long as they refuse to hold their leadership accountable for the vile verbiage vomiting from their mouths and the inhumane policies they promote. The Right DOES NOT care about civility. So deflect if you must, but I will not yield the “both sides” argument–certainly not now and perhaps not ever.

Even so, I will be civil.

Not because the Left is treated civilly but because true discourse, honest problem solving, faithful allegiance to the Constitution, and upholding the principles of justice, freedom, and equality cannot happen without civility of speech and non-violent protest. Speaking in front of a rally in Atlanta on Saturday Representative John Lewis,  had a little something to say on the subject. He told the crowd gathered to protest the administration’s immigration policy that, when he heard the children being held in cages at our borders crying for their parents, it made him cry. That folks, is true civility. He then encouraged his audience to never give up. He reminded them of his history of fighting the good fight, that people used to say we would never have a Civil Rights Act but that they marched and it happened. In a candid note of self reflection and solidarity he told those listening:

Look, you know I been talking for some time and getting in trouble. It’s time for some of us to get in good trouble, necessary trouble. In the final analysis we may have to turn America upside down to get Her set right side up. But whatever we do, do it in an orderly, peaceful, non-violent fashion. And as Dr. King said on so many occasions, ‘Never, never ever hate, for hate is too heavy a burden to bear. The way of love is a much better way.’

A few seconds later Congressman Lewis concluded his speech reminding the people that “our foremothers and forefathers came to this land in different ships but we all in the same boat now.” And, that we had a duty to “show the world that we are better than what’s going on in America today.” I cannot agree more with Representative Lewis and Representative Waters. It costs us nothing to be civil but it costs us dearly to remain silent. The time for complacency is past. The time for letting others decide is over. We must. Stand up. Speak out. Resist hatred and fear and violence. And we must VOTE.



Posted by: minnow | June 28, 2018

To Those Who Could Have

but didn’t…

I have a confession to make. I’m afraid. I’m afraid it doesn’t matter to you. I’m afraid it hasn’t touched you personally, yet. I’m afraid you are too busy, too safe, too jaded, or just too lazy. I’m afraid, despite what we see played out on the news and social media every. single. day. you still might not.

I honestly don’t have a clue how to motivate you, shake you up, drag you out of your slumber–force you to give a damn! I wish I did.


and still haven’t…

I used to be one of you. We worshiped together, prayed together, laughed and cried together. We broke bread together, watched our children play together, suffered loss together. What happened? When did who we stood for–together–get split in two? When did your personal pocket book start mattering more to you than giving rest to the weary, food to the hungry, and medical care to the sick and dying? When did the baby in the womb become the only life worth saving? worth loving?

Where the hell did Jesus go? And, what is that I see in your eyes? Fear? You see, I think that’s a big part of the problem. I’m afraid you’re afraid. I am afraid you have forgotten your first love. I’m afraid you traded the heavy burden of compassion in for the easier load of casting blame. Yet, by managing your fear, you have chosen to cling to it rather than to the hem of the Savior.  I am left alone, wondering if I ever knew you and it grieves my soul.


And still do. Yes, I’m talking to those who voted for this president, who support this administration, and who still tell others to give him a chance.

I have another confession to make.

My soul may be grieving, but my grieving soul is filled with a fury I have never known before. And, I pity you. You are among God’s most wretched creatures. Your weak knowledge of politics, history, and economics made you vulnerable to misinformation and manipulation. Your authoritarian up-bringing caused you to gravitate toward an autocratic leader, to forgive vices in him you would never tolerate in others, and to never question his version of the world. WHY? That’s easy–because he promised to protect you, to validate you, to make you feel significant. The problem is, who will protect you from him?


We have one opportunity left to do more than be the clean-up crew for the aftermath. It will not undo the devastation which has already been unleashed. But it can slow the bleeding. We MUST change the face of Congress. We MUST elect people of integrity and courage, people who still believe in justice, who will fight for truth, who will stand up to bullies and who demand to be seen, heard, and reckoned with. If we do not VOTE–with our ballots, with our feet, and with our words–HELL is waiting to greet us.

Posted by: minnow | June 26, 2018

Stop and Think It Over

What angers you? I’m not talking about a mild irritation you don’t think much about unless it’s somehow brought to your attention. I’m asking what truly burns you, inhabits your thoughts and makes you want to scream at “innocent” people?

What moves you? What makes you tear up and catches your voice in your throat? Anything? Does anything impact you THAT strongly?

What about fear? What are you afraid might happen? Or harm you?

Finally, what principles, values, ideas, things do you hold dear? Family? Health? Security? Status? Freedom? Justice? Equality? Peace? Your faith? Your home? your job? Your appearance? When the rubber hits the road–which of these principles, values, ideas, things would you defend, no matter the cost?

As I look at the current political discourse, I’m frightened. Ideals I hold dear–freedom, compassion, equality, and justice seem to be the rope in a tug-o-war. Pulling on one end of the rope–fear and anger. Pulling on the other side–humanity. Between the two, lays a deep and dangerous chasm. The struggle seems endless, with more fear and more anger grabbing ahold of the other end of the rope all the time.

Sometimes, I feel like those hanging on to my end of the rope are behaving like lemmings. The stronger anger and fear become, the closer we get to the abyss, the more of us are pulled in. Only before we actually reach the edge we let go of the rope and jump–making excuses, justifying ugliness, and blaming others as we dive deeper into the darkness of the abyss, the rope tangling around our legs and falling into the hole along with us.

Earlier this week, on a FB thread discussing the Sarah Sanders VS Restaurant Owner incident, I was asked if I owned a business would I serve someone wearing a swastika or a T-shirt promoting a lynching. After I replied I was promptly de-friended. This morning another FB thread linked this article and suggested putting value in ones employees over the American dollar was a good thing. I actually agree with that statement but don’t that that is what the restaurant owner did. though I fully concede it was her intent.

For me, asking Ms Sanders to leave wasn’t a question of putting one’s values over the American dollar. The restaurant owner actually had a whole lot more to lose than the cost of a meal. Her review board has been sabotaged by inaccurate reviews and hateful rhetoric. 45 slandered her restaurant despite his own having considerably worse ratings. She closed her doors (hopefully only temporarily) fearing for the safety of her other guests and staff. And, though many have hailed her a hero some, like myself, found her decision counterproductive.

I understand WHY the Red Hen’s owner chose to ask Ms Sanders to leave. The pain the Press Secretary has caused others by constantly defending the lies, vitriolic blather, and destructive policies of this Administration is almost palatable. The hypocrisy makes me want to spit. If my computer had feelings it would constantly be hurt I do so much yelling at it. BUT–and I understand that makes many on the Left want to yell at me–still, the issue is not who are they; the issue is who. are. we.

When the rubber hits the road, when the person isn’t someone we already love, when saying ALL is tested to include those people whose politics we find sickening or immoral–who are we then, in that moment. If she was rude or disruptive yes, ask her to leave but if she simply wanted our service, a service we offer to the public we have a decision to make. We either practice what we preach or relinquish our right to preach it.

I would have served Ms Sanders. I would not have asked my staff to do it but I would have done it. Then, when it came time for her to leave I would have spoken up. I would have informed her that her presence in my establishment made many on my staff including myself uncomfortable because of who she represents and the destruction he and his administration have orchestrated against our nation. I would have told her that I resent her very presence in my establishment but that it is my policy to serve ALL who enter my restaurant. I would have told her that unlike the person she defends for a living, I WILL defend the Constitution and the principles this country–at least until her boss was put in power–aspires toward. I would also have strongly suggested she never come to my restaurant again because her patronage is not welcome. Then I would have refused her money and held open the door.

Would my actions have changed her or those she was with? Would it have made her think or caused her to stay awake nights? No, probably not. But more importantly, it would not have changed me.

Our national integrity has been, IS BEING, brutally ravaged and we all stand around, making jokes, calling people names, and dragging ourselves through the mud. I do not know all of what Rep. Maxine Walters said so I cannot say I completely agree with her but I know this–it is perfectly okay, as fellow citizens, to form a crowd, to let 45 and his cohorts know what you think OF THEIR POLITICS. Tell them their ideas are wrong. Tell them their support of 45 is unwelcome and unwarranted. Tell them the majority of Americans can’t wait to see them stripped of their power and legally, without violence, standing firmly on our Constitution ushered to the curb.

It is well past time. Act. Speak up. Vote. Just don’t become one of them.

If you do, they win. Every. Time.



Posted by: minnow | June 24, 2018

What’s the Difference?

This week I was challenged in a couple different ways. First, I had a lengthy (for FB) conversation with a young man about how difficult it is for opposing sides to reason with each other, agree on facts, and remain civil. The young man seemed most frustrated by an unwillingness on both sides to work together. I was frustrated by the unwillingness of “good people” to take a stand. I could sympathize with my friend’s frustration but, in my opinion, we have reached a tipping point. I argued, we cannot afford to wait for those more interested in being right than in problem solving to come to the table. Too many people are at risk of serious harm and the principles for which our nation stands are currently being ravaged. The conversation ended, I believe, giving us both something to think about.

The other way in which I was challenged came through a series of tweets and another FB post. It started with this tweet from Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

Followed by this one from her father.

When I went to former Gov. Huckabee’s Twitter thread to read comments I discovered the following tweet, on former Gov. Huckabee’s page.

Take a look at the picture included in this tweet. What do you see? I see five men, who seem to like each other posing for the camera. They’re young, physically fit, making hand gestures, and all have tattoos. A couple are bare chested, one is wearing his hat sideways, and…they’re not white. Now, I’ll wager to guess, triggering the negative stereotypes many conservative white Americans hold toward POC, specifically young Latino men, is ultimately former Gov. Huckabee’s intended purpose for using this photo. But let’s set this tweet a side for a moment since, I’m not yet finished with Ms Sanders’ story.

After the Press Secretary’s story broke my FB page lite up with support for the restaurant owner who asked Sanders to leave. Many of the same people who were outraged just weeks earlier when the Supreme Court technically sided with the baker in Colorado and more recently about separating children and parents at our southern border, posted memes about Karma and the Red Hen Owner being a hero, memes like the one below.

Are we really the same–the Left and the Right–both willing to plug our ears, point fingers at the other, and celebrate when the opposition gets humiliated or worse, wronged? “It’s funny,” I was told. But is it? Where do we draw the line? When does funny become not-so-funny, or hurtful, or hateful? When does a protest become a riot? When the first brick is thrown or when the brick is brought to the protest–just in case?

Ever since Sanders’ tweet was posted, I’ve been reminding (arguing with) my Left leaning friends about civility, keeping the bar high, needing to actually stand for the Constitution and freedom and inclusion, STANDING when it’s hardest to stand. I found the tweet former Gov. Huckabee’s aimed at Rep. Nancy Pelosi repulsive but felt the need to talk about the hypocrisy from both sides (because yes, it exists on both sides). I wanted to point out the danger of hate filled “humor”. But then, this morning, the following FB post from Franklin Graham was brought to my attention.

Can you believe that a restaurant called The Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, refused to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders and asked her to leave because she works for President Donald J. Trump? Talk about discrimination! I’ve met Sarah, and she’s a nice lady.

What do you think? You can go to their Facebook page [he included a link here for easy access to the restaurant’s review page] and leave a review.

Words have power. Words can lift us up or tear our spirits down. They can fan the flames of distrust and fear–like former Gov. Huckabee intended in the Pelosi tweet–or they can work to bring us together as the young man I began this post talking about so passionately wants to see happen. I choose to focus on the values and principles that make us better people. I urge others to grab hold of those ideals which make this nation great. And I pray we can keep our eyes on the prize.

One last thought for those who grow weary of “taking the high road”. Franklin Graham’s post probably seem harmless to most, especially by comparison to the ugly implications of former Gov. Huckabee tweet about Rep. Pelosi. But I would argue, though they were covered in sheep’s clothing, Graham’s words bare wolves teeth. One only needs to visit The Red Hen’s review board to see the kind of venom Graham’s “invitation to comment” has stirred. My biggest concern in watching the bar be brought so low by hatred and fear is that in the end, the shock and fatigue of what we see happening will get the better of the rest of us–including myself–and there will be none left for whom the bar remains high. Without the bar–what’s the point?

Posted by: minnow | June 20, 2018

It Makes a Great Headline

Earlier this morning I wrote a lengthy comment on a FB friend’s post. The post intended to build a bridge between opposing parties by sharing a link meant to sort through the facts about what’s happening on our southern border. My comment was meant to point out the real issue (as I saw it). I then went to work for a few hours, came home and boom-bada-boom, my FB news feed announced 45 had signed an executive order to STOP the separation of children from their parents. WOW! Talk about action that could make a 609 word comment obsolete in a hurry. If you are interested in reading it for yourself, here is a link to the Executive Order signed by 45 on Wednesday, June 20, 2018. I have just one question: what has changed?

Currently, under US law children cannot be held in federal prison facilities. Keeping their “Zero Tolerance” policy in tact means all who enter the country other than through a designated port of entry, even if their intent is to seek asylum, are classified as breaking federal law (international law be damned). Therefore, the following two sentences from the executive order:

It is also the policy of this Administration to maintain family unity, including by detaining alien families together where appropriate and consistent with law and available resources. It is unfortunate that Congress’s failure to act and court orders have put the Administration in the position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law. 

make it clear this executive order WILL NOT put an end to children being separate from their parents, at least not for long. One of two things is true. The EO is meant to, immediately passes the buck and points a finger at Congress. Or, worse yet, 20 days down the road 45 will throw shade at the judiciary (undermining our trust in the courts and the law), and once again “be forced” to separate children from their parents, because, well–the law.

45’s action today was not meant to solve a problem. It was designed to deflect blame, set up a future scapegoat, and produce positive headlines. It replaced pictures of caged children with one of 45 signing a pice of paper for the day’s news cycle. But what is actually being done about the children who were already ripped from their parents’ arms, who remain warehoused? From April 19 to May 31, over 1900 children, ranging in age from a few months to 17 years, were separated from their parents, turned over from ICE to DHS, and routed to mass detention centers. Another month and a half has passed since those figures were made public. Will those children ever know what happened to their parents?

Before 45 signed his EO, all 49 Democratic Senators cosponsored the Keep Families Together Act in an attempt to legally stop the practice of separating children from their parents. Not a single Republican signed on. Instead, the vocal elements on the Right defended the practice by pointing to “the law” and calling it a deterrent. Some even used the Bible to suggest following this policy was a good thing, forget that the Constitution, not the Bible, is supposed to be our basis for law.

I hope I am wrong about what looms on our horizon. I do not want to see history repeat itself. Yet, personally I believe we have reached the place where we must take an honest look at the moral danger we face as a nation and make a decision where we stand. Like many (white, middle to upper class, God-fearing) Americans, I have always had an idealized understanding of America. When confronted by a less than rosy  element of our history, I always told myself, I would have been one of the good guys. I would have stood on the right side of history.

Questions like: which side of slavery would I have been on? Which side of giving small pox infested blankets to Native Americans or forcing their children into boarding schools would I have been on? Which side of rounding up Japanese Americans and putting them in internment camps would I have been on? Which side–protesting or refusing to serve Negros would I have been on? are becoming more difficult to answer with any sort of conviction. You see, at that time in history when those actions and policies took place, they were legal, civilized, a question of the economy, passed off as Biblical, said to protect us from potential threats, or or a means of preserving our heritage. In there moment, they were white washed, justified, even made to seem patriotic. It was normal.

So, which side of history would I have really been on? I don’t want to find out. But, I am more and more afraid we are about to.

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