Posted by: minnow | May 7, 2016

“They” Don’t Get It

Fear is a powerful motivator.  So my question is–what do you fear more–Donald Trump, moneyed interests continuing to tighten their grip on American politics, or a progressive socio-economic agenda?  The 1% fear the latter which should cause the rest of us to examine our options carefully.

Personally, I’m sick and tired of the pro-Clinton media making every Sanders win sound like it lines up in the loss column.  AKA shame on the Chicago Tribune article found here.  I’m tired of the Clinton campaign throwing Sanders supporters bread crumbs to try to entice us to follower her into the political forest of half steps toward progress.  AKA her suddenly vocal whining for campaign finance reform found here that makes it sound like it was her idea to start the conversation.  And, I’m tired of the opposition slapping Sanders with “comrade” cracks and swastikas as if caring about the social fabric of our nation, wanting to give the middle class a break, and thinking we have an obligation to the nation’s poor are somehow un-American positions. Such patronizing rhetoric is proof positive that Clinton, her supporters, and the GOP simply don’t get it.

“But wouldn’t you prefer Clinton to Trump?” I’m constantly asked. “Yes,” I answer, “if those are my only options.  But, just barely.  And, those are NOT my only options.”  Voting for Clinton at best is voting for four more years of deadlock.  Voting for Clinton is also voting to give the Republicans four years to regroup while they continue to sling mud at progressive ideas.  But more importantly, voting for Clinton feels like we’re throwing the movement to take back our political process under the bus.  It is telling hundreds of thousands–millions–of people to wait because it is just too risky right now, too much is at stake. We can’t afford to…

TO WHAT?  Seriously, what can’t we afford to allow?  What is at stake now that won’t be equally precarious the next election cycle and the next and the next.  These arguments are textbook fear tactics.  Every election since I began voting (almost 40 years ago) has been described as pivotal.  But have they been?  Realistically, much more may be at stake if we don’t use the momentum Bernie Sanders campaign has given us to solidify our message  of political reform.  Revolutions take work and sacrifice.  Clinton can never be part of the revolution because her thinking, how she functions as a politician, is part of the problem.  Sanders’ supporters aren’t obligated to elect Hillary Clinton.  The very reason they support Sanders is because he stands against many of the things she stands for, or at the very least is using to get elected.

If Clinton supporters can’t come up with enough party faithfuls to defeat Trump then they deserve him.  After all, the party faithfuls are the ones who put Hillary on the ticket. If she loses–and I personally believe the likelihood is high that she will–they have only themselves to blame.  I have said ever since her  nomination was deemed inevitable that Democrats underestimated how much she is reviled by the GOP.  Her haters will come out in mass and vote for anyone, including Trump, in order to vote against Hillary Clinton.

So, if Bernie Sanders were to decide to run as a third party candidate I will do everything in my power to get his name on the ballot in my state! Because, Americans deserve the opportunity to vote FOR someone we can respect, someone we can trust to work for the general good.  It should not be enough to vote AGAINST the other guy.  When you vote for the lesser of two evils you still accept evil as an option.  Far too many people, in far too many elections, have chosen to stay home rather than engage in that kind of political battle.  The last year voter turn out was above 60% was in 1968.  I was 10.  Such apathy, such hopelessness, saddens me.

The  Sanders’ campaign and the movement he currently leads has controlled the conversation of this election cycle–precisely because those are the conversation we should be having. We feel passionately about what Sanders stands for, almost as passionately as he does.  Giving us lip service about incremental raises in minimum wage, tweaking Obamacare, and taking on Wall Street, or telling us you’re going to work hard to bring the youth vote on board smacks of politics as usual. The media’s irresponsible obsession with the circus of the Republican campaign is bad enough. But add to it Clinton’s latest anti-Trump ad that assaults our intelligence with a 30 second sound byte of more GOP whining and our deepest suspicions are confirmed: without Sanders in it, we won’t be focused on the issues because Trump wouldn’t know an issue if it made a nest in his hair, and Clinton is not about the issues; she is about getting elected. Period.

So yes, Sanders’ supporters want him to take his message all the way to the convention.  We deserve to be heard, not because we’re more important than anyone else, but because our concerns are shared by most other Americans. We want this election to focus on campaign finance reform, and putting an end to welfare for the rich, and making sure working 40 hours a week means you can pay your rent, buy food for your family, and afford healthcare.  We want to spend more money educating Americans than incarcerating them.  And, we want to work toward sustainable energy sources and becoming better stewards of the planet.

Most Americans, not just those who support Sanders, have had enough of politics as usual.  So, stop insulting us by insulting each other. Stop playing to our fears and insecurities and start helping us to over come them.  Stop pretending you have so much more to offer us than the other guy, when so far that sound byte is all you’ve had to offer.  You think you deserve our vote?  Then start to earn it. Period.

 

Posted by: minnow | April 30, 2016

Inevitable Is Old Politics

The more people warn that, as a Sanders supporter, I must eventually jump off this wagon and vote for Hillary because if I don’t do the politically correct thing Trump will win, the less I want to do it.  I’m exceedingly frustrated by her “inevitability” as the Democrats nominee.  I am tired of people suggesting that the only reason I don’t already support Hillary is because I have been unduly influenced by the lies about her from the right.  If this election has show me anything it’s shown that the delegate system, especially for the Democrats, is undemocratic.  It works against the will of the people rather than for it.  On the Republican side winner take all states make close races seem like landslides.  Yet, for the Democrats super delegates cast a shadow nearly impossible to out run and “closed primaries” disallow thoughtful, independent-minded voters because they aren’t “registered” democrats.  We say that one person’s vote matters, but…Is that actually true?

The latest headlines have Hillary trying to unite the party by urging Sanders supporters to get behind her.  I just might have to be the one to break it to you, Mrs. Clinton, but you need to show us how you actually intend to represent us with more than the threat of Trump, or we, quite frankly, might just ignore you.  More and more Sanders supports look at the differences between Clinton and Trump, and other than his crude expression, don’t see much.  Both change their tune depending on their audience or which way the wind is blowing.  Both are hawkish with regard to foreign policy.  Neither is interested in changing much on Wall Street.  And both have actually supported or befriended one another over the years–personally and politically.

If you want our vote, Secretary Clinton–you will need to earn it.  Quit telling our candidate to drop out and get in line behind you.  Quit telling us HE’S dividing the party when the truth is the democrats divided their party from the electorate when they decide to close their primaries.  Quit patting us on the head by suggesting you are simply talking about taking reachable steps to the same goals when the truth is you have NO INTENTION of taking on campaign finance reform, the pharmaceutical industry, or our broken penal system.  You’re not about to undo the trade agreements you helped to put in place.  Wall Street is your friend and the problems with education are simply too big to take on.  That Trump is an embarrassment but you’re not, isn’t a good enough reason to vote for you, Madam Secretary. You will need to earn our votes and I’m not sure you can.

The biggest difference between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is that Clinton wants to get elected and Sanders wants to lead a movement.  After she’s elected, Clinton wants to wield her influence, HER power.  Sanders want to get to work on reforms.  Clinton wants to manage the Middle East and the economy and whatever else is laying around, FROM THE OVAL.  Sanders wants to change how we do politics and get the middle class back on its feet.  Clinton wants people to need her help, want her support, and acquiesce to her positions because she is the most powerful woman in the world.  Sanders wants people to get off their butts and join the fight because change takes more than one person.

If Hillary Clinton is elected, (and should she get the Democratic nomination I think she will be) I will consider her presidency as successful as it could be if she picks one or two fairly liberal Supreme Court Justices and pushes their nominations through the Senate.  But honestly, I won’t be surprised if her judges end up being fairly moderate. And I will truly be surprised if we don’t end up in another war.  I can easily see the Middle East turn into an uglier and less understandable Viet Nam–endless troops, endless resources, no real progress/success, and increasing incidents of terrorism.

The biggest difference between Clinton and Trump that I can see, besides his boorishness, is that more people will be willing to go along with Clinton and her presidency is more likely to last eight years. Though I suppose, if Trump gets in he could stay around for eight as well. That scenario might all depend on how many people end up getting off their butts, rolling up their sleeves, and joining in the fight.  I for one aim to keep fighting.  Sanders deserves my support NOW and he deserves my support later.  For you see, the real difference between Clinton and Sanders is that Sanders hasn’t changed his stripes.  He’s been doing the work he’s doing in this campaign, behind the scenes for the last 40 years.

 

Posted by: minnow | April 28, 2016

Love Never Looks Like Hate

Recently the mom’s (of LGBT-identifying children) group I belong to via FB asked us to share our “coming out” stories.  Initially, I didn’t think I had a “coming out story”, at least not one worth telling. But later, I posted a slightly different version of the following because, while not earth shattering, we did “come out”, out from under an unhealthy mindset that let religion hijack our faith.

My son came out to us when he was 18. My husband “came out” to his men’s prayer group soon after and inadvertently “outed” our son to our church “family”.  Despite a prayer room rule that what is shared in the prayer room stays in the prayer room church leadership (who did not attend the men’s prayer group) were “notified”.  My son was told he was no longer welcome in the church youth group until he repented of being gay. (This was before he’d had any physical same-sex relationship, mind you).  Obviously my son felt betrayed.  It drove a wedge between my husband and son which, five years later, is still healing.  Since I and one older brother had already stopped attending that fellowship, I didn’t think too much about the fact that my youngest son suddenly quit going.  Had I known the full situation sooner I would like to think I would have confronted them but since I had not fully found my footing I don’t honestly now what I would have done. In this past year, I have written each of the current pastors (3).
Beyond this church fellowship, I have had no family or friend talk to me directly about my son “being gay”.  I am separated from my husband so his side of the family and I don’t talk.  And, my side of the family doesn’t ask personal questions so I don’t honestly know how most of them feel.  The few friends I have either don’t care, don’t need me to see it their way, or know I wouldn’t and don’t want to get an ear full. I freely share on Facebook so the “friends” I have via FB know as much as anyone.  Finally, I have mentioned casually to most of my students that I have a gay son. I wanted anyone who needed a safe place to know there was one–in school–especially since I live in a very conservative corner of a pretty conservative state.
Honestly, I have had it easy by my group’s standards.  I was already climbing out from under religious oppression when my son told us he is gay. By God’s grace, I was never so far under religion’s thumb that I would have considered my son to be anything but who he is. I accepted him immediately; there wasn’t anything not to accept. My son, however, was wrecked with guilt and self-loathing.  He had been under the church thumb much more intensely than I had been and I am convinced had I not “gone before him” he might easily have told us he was gay in a suicide note, afraid that like the Church we would reject him.
When religion causes a child the kind of pain it caused my child–THAT religion is evil. Our children and our world deserve better.  And the God we claim to believe in, the God we tell the world we serve, the Christ we say is our role model, deserves better as well.  I will never be convinced “God’s ways” look anything like the fearful, judgmental, character assassinations people like James Dobson, Franklin Graham, Michael Brown, and Kevin Swanson spew forth while others make excuses and repeat the mantra: “God’s ways are not our ways”.
I have told my story, my son’s story, in other posts. I do so now because once again people in the LGBT community are the targets of discrimination in the name of religion–most recently with a we-need-to-keep-our-women-and-children-safe twist. The right to discriminate laws passed by NC and elsewhere are indefensable.  And Christians, who truly believe in a God of love should be standing with their transgender brothers and sisters not against them.
Statistics do not support the claims by the religious right and their GOP puppets that women and children are at risk when transgender people are allowed to use the bathroom of their choosing. IN FACT, a well-traveled public restroom is a notoriously bad place for a would-be attacker to hang out unless he hopes to be caught. IN FACT: women and children are at greater risk of being assaulted or sexually abused in their own homes than any other single place. According to the Rape and Abuse Crisis Center, 93 % of child sexual assault victims know their assailant. 34.2 percent are family members.  IN FACT: in states where transgender individuals are free to choose which restroom to use there have been no verifiable cases of a bathroom assault by a transgender individual or person pretending to be transgender.
On the other hand, crimes against transgender people paint a dismal picture.  Transgender people are at a greater risk of assault and rape than any other single group of people.  According to the Office for Victims of Crime in Washington DC, a conservative 50% of transgender people experience sexual assault in their lifetime. This figure increases to 66% when talking about people of color.  Hate crime statistics release from the FBI indicated that such crimes perpetrated against transgender individuals tripled from 31 to 98 between 2013 and 2014.  Of the 53 transgender people murdered from 2013 to 2015, not a single case has been prosecuted.  When you consider the fact that transgender people make up only .3 % of the US population these numbers are alarming.
I have no desire to minimize the damage done or the trauma experienced from sexual assault and rape. However, laws like North Carolina’s HB2 will do more to allow such crimes than to stop them.  Harming innocent people never solves a problem. We must be willing to “out” the fear and ignorance behind these kinds of laws. For God’s sake, don’t let hate win this debate.  True love never looks like hate.
Posted by: minnow | April 6, 2016

Fuel the Revolution

Lately, the suggestion that what Bernie Sanders has championed will continue under Clinton, if she wins the nomination, is making the rounds.  I say: BOLOGNA. In fact, I think such talk is actually double-speak for, “vote for Hillary, so we don’t have to actually change.”  PLEASE, HEAR THIS CLEARLY.  And, give it some SERIOUS thought: Hillary Clinton cannot maintain what Bernie Sanders is leading.  She doesn’t. Even. Want to. 

Despite a similar voting record, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are not the same brand of Democrat. 

This article from Rolling Stone’s editor Jann Wenner suggests Clinton is the better candidate than Sanders because she knows how Washington works and her incremental plans are more practical, more realistic.  In other words they won’t upset the powers that be…oops I mean the DNC..or, er…the apple cart.  Sanders, according to this sage (?) wisdom, well…he’s just too, too pie in the sky, too unwilling to compromise, too angry. This article, also from Rolling Stone Magazine, written last year warned that we may have a different Senator Sanders problem.  Too many American just might agree with Bernie. 

Fast forward to today and the mainstream media and the Democratic machine continue to repeat the same old mantra.  Both  insist Sanders doesn’t have a chance. He shouldn’t be taken seriously. He can’t possibly beat the Democrat’s darling. America needs a woman at the helm.  (AKA: Women can not call themselves feminists unless they vote for Clinton).  He doesn’t have the Black vote. (For get that while she was working for Goldwater he was helping to organize sit-ins).  How dare he bring up who contributes to her campaign. Sanders ought to play nice. He should do the honorable thing, admit defeat, and bow out.  Look at the delegate count.

But, guess what mainstream media–America, at least young America, isn’t listening to you anymore. In fact, more and more Americans–new Democrats, young Democrats, and old(er) Democrats–think the party bosses are part of the problem NOT the solution.

This article, also from Rolling Stone, hits on a couple key differences between Sanders and Clinton.  First, Hilary is part of the machine, which may be why she understands how Washington works.  Secondly, even though she like to paint herself as the champion of Black America she has actually been on the wrong side of many racially charged issues.  This article by Michelle Alexander, Author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, is far from an endorsement of Bernie Sanders.  Yet, it does an excellent job discussing the relationship the Clintons have had with Black America and suggests strongly it’s a relationship that ought to be reexamined.

Up until now I have been careful not to criticize the former Secretary of State too harshly.  I have not wanted to need to eat my words should she get the nomination and I begin to urge thinking people to vote for her.  Recently, however, as her national lead has begun to shrink and the primaries move away from the South where she has had a comfortable lead (though might I remind you, in a general election most southern states go red), the Clinton campaign has shown signs of feeling threatened.

A month or so ago articles suggesting the only reason Sanders supporters prefer Bernie to Hilary is because we believe the lies the right has told, started showing up in my news feed.  These Clinton advocates insist Hilary is the most honest candidate running and therefore doesn’t deserve the bad press from the right.  And it is true, according to PolitiFACT Clinton receives more “mostly true” ratings and fewer “pants on fire” ratings than anyone else.  Sanders being her close second.  Yet, honesty, at least for me, is not simply a matter of getting more facts right in a debate.  And integrity is not only measured by staying within the law. These are important qualities, attributes I expect my leaders to hold.  But character is tempered and revealed by more than the jot and tittle of the law.

I have always been disturbed by the notion of super delegates.  And now more than ever.  They feel dishonest to me, like they undermine the purity of the individual’s vote and the notion that a single person,  without fame and without fortune, can make a difference.  So, when I read an article accusing Sanders of foul play because he dared to talk about where Clinton got some of her money (oil and coal, and Wall Street) and then I read this article from Margot Kidder discussing how the Clinton campaign bought the primaries at the Democratic Convention back in August, I saw red.  Of course, buying the primaries of 33 states, including mine, was all done legally, sort of like Trump using our current bankruptcy laws to get rich while others were left without jobs, etc…But, legal and moral are not necessarily the same thing.

I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the primary election because I believe he will push harder and fight more sincerely for the changes I believe need to take place in our country.  I trust him.  He has fought this fight his whole adult life.  But, if in the general election my preferred candidate is NOT the nominee I will still, reluctantly, vote for the Democratic candidate because the alternative is, for me, terrifying.  I indicated in my opening paragraph that the notion that Hilary Clinton could continue the movement Sanders is currently promoting is ludicrous primarily because she has no interest in doing so.  Saying so does not mean, however, that the movement itself will die.
We may face darker days before we greet the dawn.  Our struggle may end up costing us more dearly later than it will if we choose to act now.  But in the end, I believe the sun will rise.  America will find her better self.  We will decide to work and live together rather than surrender to fear and die apart.  We can.  We will.  We must.
Posted by: minnow | March 18, 2016

The Coming Hour

I admit, the Bernie sign cut in half with a hand written note on the other side is actually kind of clever, no wonder it went viral.  That said, it also reveals, yet again, our sad willingness to remain ignorant about how the American system works and has worked since its inception.  Currently, our infrastructure, our public education system, and the social security program (to name just a few) are all socialist concepts.  Do away with everything that has anything to do with socialism and our cities would crumble or be overrun with disease, destruction, and crime.  In short, America is, and has always been, socialist.  We are also democratic which means every citizen has the right to vote and every vote counts.  Finally, our economy is based on capitalism, which means our country’s trade and industry are privately, not State, controlled enterprises.

When the anti Bernie folks clamor about socialism they  want you to envision some huge militarized government threatening to take away your freedom, and steal your guns.  Bernie Sanders however, expects something entirely different. In the way the police keep us safe from criminals and the EPA is designed to protect the environment (and ultimately us), Sanders expects government to protect individual people from corporate bullies and the wealthy elite because individuals cannot mount those battles alone.  Sanders wants to restore our nation to a time when the individual vote counted.  He wants to make certain that faceless dollar bills don’t wield undue influence in Washington. He is tired, like most Americans are tired, of ego inflated politicians collecting paychecks for doing nothing. Ultimately, for Senator Sanders socialism is about making a social contract with one another to work for the common good.

Not so long ago, most of the people we entrusted to positions of leadership were concerned with the greater good, with moving the nation forward, with successfully navigating the storms which battered our will and tested our moral fiber.  Today, that is simply not the case.  The Republican party has lost its way.  Their threats to block any nomination  President Obama makes to the Supreme Court, their denying veterans benefits while calling for a greater military presence everywhere in the world, and their allowing the GOP presidential front runner to incite violence during his rallies, threaten to commit war crimes when he becomes president, and suggest we monitor specific groups of American citizens because of their religion or ethnicity, without so much as a public slap on the wrist, ALL call into question the Republican party’s ability to govern our nation responsibly.

While Secretary Clinton knows how to play the political game, Senator Sanders know how to do the political work. As a veteran in the Senate, Sanders has demonstrated he will roll up his sleeves and get things done.  When Republicans blocked his first veterans bill he went back and drafted another.  He also helped to make healthcare reform a reality, a feat which proved too daunting for Secretary Clinton. Sanders has not been afraid to stand alone when his principles demand he takes a stand, and  yet he has demonstrated his ability to build bipartisan coalitions as well.  This is the kind of presence we need to maintain in the Oval Office.

Our country can not afford to conduct business as usual, to play politics with our future or to gamble America’s integrity away.  A safe vote in this election might be for Secretary Clinton.  But the Republicans have shown they aren’t interested in safe–or even reasonable.  If they were we would probably see Governor Kasich ahead in the polls.  Instead, Republicans are going for radical, in your face, bring it on machismo.  Their front runner think he can bully everyone on the playground into doing what he wants.  But, we forget every real bully has a goons squad behind him and Mr. Trump has no one.  Oh,..well,..maybe one.  I guess Governor Christie–who once called Trump a 13-year old, a carnival barker, and a thin-skilled entertainer-in-chief whose policies make no sense and who is painfully naïve–endorsed the self absorbed billionaire. So, I guess Trump can count on one thug.  But our allies, those nations we would need to rely on in an emergency are seriously scratching their heads. According to a USA Today article: “Negative reactions to Trump have also come from some of the United States’ most stalwart allies, including Canada, Ireland, Britain, France, Germany, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia.” The same article quotes Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who compared Trump to “dictators Benito Mussolini and Hitler, populists who rode a tide of economic discontent to power.”

Our friends are afraid we’ve gone mad. And can we blame them?  I understand.  America wants change.  We’re tired of all the talk and no action.  But we cannot afford Donald Trump, no matter how far outside of Washington he started.  The truth is Trump has been dipping his hand in the cookie jar for as long as he’s been a businessman.

Now as wonderful as Hillary Clinton is to her supporters, she is still tightly tied to what many believe is wrong with Washington politics.   And, while it can be argued her vision is more realistic, Americans are ready for something MORE, something radical, A FUTURE TO BELIEVE IN.  Sanders believes in that Future.  He is unwilling to tell a new generation of Americans that they should not expect to do as well as their parents did.  Instead, he is asking us if we are ready for a revolution. Sanders envisions a better America, the same America King and Kennedy envisioned and died for, a nation strong enough and confident enough to face our fears, to be tested by our difficulties and challenged by our adversaries and still be able to emerge united in a common cause, the cause of liberty and justice and the pursuit of happiness and a future to believe in for everyone.

 

 

 

Posted by: minnow | March 10, 2016

Preachin’ Tolerance…NOT

Sunday (3/6) I was accused of picking a fight, needing to be contrary, and preaching tolerance.  One of these things is not like the other and it is also categorically incorrect.  I do not preach tolerance. I acknowledge (allow, recognize, accept, even encourage)  differences.  But, for me [SIDEBAR: I admit I am tweaking the dictionary definition of tolerance a bit to make my point so please if you’re going to comment don’t waste time trying to point out all or any of the times I have, in your opinion, “preached tolerance”.  Instead, just try to understand the point and focus your comments there.] tolerance is cowardly.  It is knowing something is wrong but being too afraid or too lazy to do anything about it.  Considering how I know the person who accused me of “preaching”, I might suggest it is praying when you ought to be advocating change, defending the marginalized, and walking out–as opposed to hiding–your faith.  But please, do not hear what I am not saying.  Jesus spent a heck of a lot of time praying so I am not against prayer.  Jesus, however, did not confuse prayer with action and neither should we.  He understood in a very literal sense what being the hands and feet of God meant–as in: His were nailed to a cross.  Still, he told his disciples that they would DO greater things than he had done (John 14:12).  We need to start behaving like the Jesus of the Gospels.

Now, I would not say I pick fights or am contrary just to be contrary but I am more likely to contradict a post, or blog, or comment or post-it when I think looking at the issue or idea differently might actually help us love our neighbor just a little more effectively.  I do not preach tolerance because I think, tolerance is a dirty word.  Those of us who have experienced God’s love ought not be tolerant!  Instead, we ought to be walking  out His love.  But wait–aren’t those the same thing?! NO! Perfect love casts out fear.  Perfect love picks up the cross.  Perfect love confronts injustice.  Perfect love includes the unworthy.  Perfect love covers the broken.  Perfect love lifts up the down trodden.  Perfect love actually makes the table bigger which is not the same as making a big show of inviting people to come look at the table or glean the crumbs from the table.  If we have no intention of listening to their stories or caring about their experience we have no business pretending to welcome strangers into the fold.  If our expectation is that people start looking like us, talking like us, thinking like us, and behaving like us before we are willing to treat them with respect or value, then we have no business calling ourselves little Christs.

So, if what I just said offends you–good.  But before you start shaking your head and thinking I’m hopelessly lost, begin to think or speak ill of me, or add me to your prayer list of lost souls, do me a favor–ask yourself why you’re offended?  You see, I haven’t used vulgar language.  I haven’t called anyone names. I haven’t even called anyone by name. I haven’t belittled anyone’s faith, mocked their value system, maligned their character, or slandered their being.  The closest I came to any of that was to mention prayer and even then, I was quick to clarify that prayer, per se, is not an issue. What I did do is point out very specific behavior, imply that a semi-specific group of people is more likely than others to engage in that behavior, and explain, specifically, where I have a problem.  You feeling offended, to me, indicates one of two things–either I hit the nail on the head and you feel a twinge of guilt or, I hit the nail on the head and you share my position.  All other reactions to what I said would not pick up offense.  Sure, you might want to point out where you disagreed with me.  You may choose to explain where I come across as harsh, sarcastic, or overly critical. Or, maybe you would simply move on.  But if you are feeling offended, you probably need to figure out why.

One of my favorite passages in Revelations is when the Lord tells the church in Laodicea he is about to spit them out because they are only lukewarm.  I am not suggesting we should walk around intentionally offending people to prove we aren’t standing in the MEH camp.  But I am saying, the time has come for compassion and justice to join hands.  Silence in the face of prejudice, fear-mongering, and discrimination is unacceptable and unlike Christ.  So by all means–call me the B-word, complain about how irritating and insufferable I can be and then become a little B-word-y yourself. The world is full of wounded, helpless, discouraged people who need to see Jesus on the faces of their neighbors.

 

Posted by: minnow | March 8, 2016

Fear NOT and Vote

I don’t hide the fact I support Bernie Sanders.  I do so for many reasons, not the least of which are I find him to be sincere, serious, and able to work well with the opposition.  Over and over again in the Senate he has shown that while he pushes the issues he cares about forward he’s willing to compromise, to take small steps in the right direction rather than remain stuck going nowhere.  I also respect Bernie Sanders because, for the most part, he plays nice.  He is not afraid to criticize someone’s idea but name calling and belittling aren’t part of his repertoire. So, when others intentionally misrepresent him I begin to feel a little cranky.

Overall, Sunday (3/6) night was a good night for Mr. Sanders. He received news that his campaign reached 5 million donors.  Also announced was his win in the Maine caucus which brought him a weekend total of three wins–Maine, Kansas, and Nebraska–to Clinton’s one, Louisiana.  His opening remarks during the debate were well received by the heavily Black audience, suggesting the name recognition argument, as an explanation for the polling differences between Clinton and Sanders, may be on to something.  Still, one other factor should be considered–the media slant.

The ground Senator Sanders gained from his announcement in April of 2015 to today is absolutely phenomenal.  Yet, nay-sayers still seem to get more press.  Repeatedly we are told  Clinton’s delegate count is double, almost triple that of Sanders. However, even that prognosticating is skewed.  Democrats have what is known as superdelegates.  These are delegates that are pledged ahead of time but not necessarily guaranteed and have nothing to do with the popular vote.  The true delegate count has Hillary Clinton at 663 and Bernie Sanders at 457.  In 2008, Clinton had a similar lead over candidate Barack Obama.  Because of her superdelegate pledge then, just like now, it appeared she was unstoppable.  But, a funny thing happened on the way to the convention, Obama began winning the popular vote.  When the two got to the convention, Clinton’s superdelegates jumped ship.  The truth is today both Clinton and Sanders are a long way away from the 2,383 delegates they need to win the nomination. And, regardless of how the media choses to spin the results, the voters have not abducted their voice.

Having said that, I have one more point to make.  In every article I read about delegate counts, information about the superdelgates is included, even if the writers still conclude Secretary of State Clinton is the probable nominee.  Though tilted, these reports are not intended to outright deceive.  The same cannot be said, however, for others.

FOX News notoriously gets the facts wrong causing one poll to conclude people were more likely to have correct information if their sole news source was late night television  rather than FOX.  So, if a source intentionally edits a quote in order to make it seem to say something the speaker did not intend that source crosses a line and no longer deserves to be seen as a legitimate source, which is exactly the case when FOX “News” reduced this quote:

I was with young people in the Black Lives Matter movement.  A young lady comes up to me and she says to me, “you don’t understand what police do in certain black communities.  You don’t understand the degree to which we are terrorized.”  I’m not just talking about the horrible shootings we have seen which have got to end. We have got to hold police officers accountable. I’m talking about everyday activities where police officers are bullying people.  To answer your question, I think it’s similar to what the Secretary said. When you’re white you don’t know what it’s like to be living in a ghetto. You don’t know what it’s like to be poor.  You don’t know what it’s like to be hassled when you walk down the street or get dragged out of a car. I believe as a nation in the year 2016, we must be firm in making it clear: We will end institutional racism and reform a broken criminal justice system.

to this: “When you’re white you don’t now what it’s like to be living in a ghetto.  You don’t know what it’s like to be poor.” Of course, they were not alone in trying to manipulate what Senator Sanders said.  They were simply the most egregious.  Even the VOX analysis, which ultimately gave Sanders good marks, suggested Sanders  made a “medium size misstep” by implying that only Blacks live in ghettos. Personally, I think Sanders intended no such message. But, I am white, so I am predisposed toward giving Sanders the benefit of the doubt.

Now, we could get bogged down at this point in a discussion as to whether or not a white candidate can possibly understand the complexity of issues facing Black America, or any other ethnic group for that matter. But, the fruit of such a debate would be miniscule and distracts us from the situation at hand. Understanding racial divides is paramount to solving the problems which plague race relations in America.  Still, race alone cannot be the deciding factor as to whether or not a person votes.  People of color must vote in the coming election. The situation is not that Republicans can’t address the corrupt judicial system, broken school system, or growing economic divide. They simply prefer to use America’s brokenness to stir up fear by pointing fingers and building an atmosphere of distrust. Their divide and concur tactics only work when we buy into their fear.

That said, Bernie Sanders more than any other candidate is focused on the American people.  His life’s work and his pledge as president is to focus on issues that strengthen the middle class– like making the minimum wage a living wage, developing a single payer healthcare plan, getting big money out of politics, holding Wall Street accountable for its behavior, making education affordable, and fixing the broken justice system.  That is why Sanders gets my vote.

Posted by: minnow | March 5, 2016

Americans Believe in Rambo

Why is Donald Trump doing so well?  The answer is simple, really–Americans believe in Rambo.  Even when, or maybe especially when, Rambo is the lone soldier who goes up against the strongest military power in the world–America herself.  Of course, in the Hollywood version by movie’s end our hero receives undeniable confirmation that his is the righteous cause and the mission will succeed!! Drumroll please.

We seem to see a new theory everyday trying to explain Trump’s success.   Some suggest, he appeals to the racist, sexist, xenophobe.  And, perhaps he does.  Much of the verbiage spewing fourth from his mouth encourages distrust, blame, isolating self-protection, and greed.  All attitudes which fit the theory   But surely, those prejudices alone cannot account for the huge numbers supporting him at the polls. Others argue he’s popular he says what he thinks, what others want to say but are too afraid to say for fear they’ll be fired or vilified.  Again, this theory can only partially account for his success.  At least as many people are embarrassed by his bluster and bluntness as are impressed by it.  His unfounded and unwarranted attacks, every time someone disagrees with him, outrage and alienate at least as many people as they attract.  besides, as was clearly pointed out by the moderators during the most recent debate (3/3) he has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth so speaking his mind is a bit unsettling. A third theory gaining ground suggests Trump’s self-made man persona charms the voters. We all know–because he’s told us so often–that his campaign doesn’t cost the voters a dime.  He is paying for the whole thing himself.  With all the talk about special interests buying elections it’s no surprise voters like the sound of a guy spending his own money.  In fact, some like it so much they’ve been sending the billionaire contributions–to the tune of $7.5 million dollars. And Mr. Trump, if you can believe the complements he’s handed out to himself in every single debate, is just too gallant to send it back. When we look a little closer, however, we discover that most of Mr. Trump’s campaign contributions have come from a series of loans he made to himself, a little more than $17.5 million dollars.  These are loans his campaign is allowed to pay back to Mr. Trump so long as it happens before the election.  In other words, Trump hasn’t actually paid his own way; he’s borrowed it.

Still, none of these theories explain Trump’s allure quite as well as Rambo.  All our feelings of anger at having been wronged (by someone–our boss, the education system, the government, our healthcare providers–anyone) ; our fierce independence (The national version of: I can do it myself.  I’ve always had to do it myself.  And no body needs to help me.  I’m just going to get ‘er done! Damn it anyway!); the need to be seen as GREAT, and strong, and a hero; our desire to take back what’s been taken away (Our rightful place as # 1 to begin with, even if it’s only in our heads. And our sense of security for another thing).  All of these find expression in blindly seeing Trump as Rambo. Of course he’s crude he’s got too much to do, to worry about nice words.  Of course his talk is tough.  He has to regain our rightful place on the world stage.  He can’t waste time worrying about the feelings of the little guy.  The little guy better thank him for saving the day or get out of his way.  RAMBO TRUMP now there’s a man who can gets things done! And we want something done! Enough talk.

The trouble with Rambo is he’s make believe.  He cannot succeed without a willingness to suspend reality on the part of his audience and  a great deal of help from the special effects department in Hollywood.  Trump obviously has the former in those who are voting for him but he doesn’t have the latter.  Even if we were able to set aside his sexist and racist drivel and fear mongering Donald Trump simply cannot deliver on his promises.  Trump has nothing the other guys need.  Mexico is not going to build a wall for us.  Putin isn’t going to suddenly become Mr. Trump’s BFF.  ISIL will use anything we do to flex our muscle in the Middle East as their next recruitment tool.  And our honorable men and women in the US military are not going to commit war crimes because a egomaniac becomes offended.  Trump must be stopped.  If it doesn’t happen from within.  If the saner voices in the Republican party don’t overcome this windbag before their Convention this summer, then Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders MUST stop him in November.

Trump fancies himself a fighter.  So,the best way to stop him is to quit getting in the ring.  Don’t take the bait, don’t pick up the offense.  Simply step out of the ring.  A fighter has got to have someone to spar with in order to make himself look tough.  The rest of the Republicans should refuse to debate him.  He refused to debate them once but got right back in the ring because he was useless on his own.  Just imagine it–Trump on the stage by himself trying to answer questions about issues and policy.  It would be a disaster.  Ratings would plummet and the audience would start channel surfing at the first commercial break.  You simply couldn’t pay me enough to have to get on stage with the man and behave as if he deserves my continued consideration.  legitimate Republicans ought to be embarrassed and the news media that keeps giving him airtime ought to be ashamed.

 

 

 

Posted by: minnow | March 1, 2016

Obstruction and Devision

In a recent conversation, a FB friend called President Obama divisive and an obstructionist.  I had challenged a comment she made on my post about the republican response to the SCOTUS vacancy and she justified her original comment with the accusation about the president.  Rather than continue to argue, I let it go.  Interestingly, the meme that is the subject of this article showed up in my feed the next day and this meme showed up the day after that.  So, I decided to do a little digging.

I found a Gallup poll from President Obama’s fifth year in office. The poll indicated a 71% approval rate gap between the Republicans who approve of his job performance by only 11% and the Democrats who approve of it by 82%. This was down slightly from his election year gap of 76%. According to information put out by PEW research found here,  President Obama’s lowest approval ratings when averaging both Republican and Democrats together is better than the previous eight presidents. At the same time, his highest approval rating is lower than all eleven presidents for whom statistics are available, indicating the division between parties definitely exists.

One of the biggest complaints heard from Republicans is that President Obama forced the Affordable Care Act down their throats.  In truth, Obamacare, as it has been affectionately renamed, went through several months of hearings and revisions and was eventually passed by both the House and Senate before it was signed by the President. Obamacare was even brought before the Supreme Court. Thus, no slipping the law in through the backdoor while no one was looking was at play.  In fact, since Republicans took over the house in 2011, 40 separate votes to repeal or defund Obamacare have been attempted and have failed.  In other words, their attempts to repeal Obamacare have not even gotten as far as the President’s desk to be vetoed.  The evidence needed to legitimately call the President’s behavior over Obamacare divisive or obstructionist simply does not exist.  The shoe actually belongs on the Republican’s foot.

It is safe to say, perception and opinion are not necessarily accurate measures of whether or not President Obama’s behavior can be describes as divisive or obstructionist. So how, in addition to the above example, should we measure this behavior?  Well, if Obama used his veto power to stop legislation that could be seen as obstructive.  And, if he used his executive power to do an end run around Congress that might also be seen as divisive.  So what are the statistics regarding these two measures.  With regard to Executive Orders, President Obama’s numbers through February 20, 2016 are lower, yes lower, than G. W. Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Carter, Nixon, Johnson, Eisenhower, Truman, and FDR. (I quite looking after that).  And, his first term numbers are lower than Bush Sr., Ford, and JFK. Obviously, he can’t be considered the most divisive president in the modern age because of his use of executive order. So, let’s turn to his record of vetoes.  Since Obama took office he has used the veto a total of 9 times.  That’s not nine since the new year, that’s nine total vetoes. Bush has 12, Clinton had 37. Bush Sr. had 44, and the Republican’s beloved Ronald Reagan had 78.  Clearly, Obama is not playing the obstructionist game.  But there are a few people who are.  And, they are doing so at the expense of the American people.

Let’s look at how Republicans are behaving.  Several Republican senators, including two who are currently running for president, have promised to shut down any SCOTUS nominee President Obama makes. This is their attitude even before they see who the President nominates That’s divisive.  From expanding the Children’s Health Insurance Program to  Wall Street Reform, to the Small Business Jobs Act Republicans in congress have withheld their support from everything the president endorses.  That’s divisive. Even the Disclosure Act–which was designed to rein in the flood of secret campaign contributions was blocked from ever coming to a vote in the Senate. That’s divisive.  The words of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, spoken during Obama’s first term in office revel the GOP’s true agenda and it’s not to work with the President or even let the American public have its say.  After all, President Obama was reelected by over 5 million votes. “Our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny Barack Obama a second term.” The GOP’s unprecedented bias and unreasonable distain for all things Obama deserve a response from the American people.  Clearly it is time to vote the obstructionists OUT!

Get registered and VOTE in November!

 

 

Posted by: minnow | February 27, 2016

Our Social Contract

I had a crap filled day.  So, I shouldn’t have, but I scrolled through my FB news feed. Frankly, I am ashamed to call myself a Christian and even more ashamed to call myself an American. I used to think those two things represented the best of humanity.  Not today. Today, my compassion-for-the-other tank is running close to empty. But before I continue, I should explain who my “other” actually is.

Half my other group are people I identified with most of my adult life–the true silent majority.  They might shout Amen in a Church service but they probably won’t ever weigh-in on a serious FB meme. They are sheep.  They leave thinking and wrestling with real life issues to leadership, to the Man (and I mean that literally) of God in their respective houses. Their guiding philosophy is “don’t rock the boat” and pray–pray for those poor misguided souls who just can’t seem to “give it to God” as well as the silent majority can.  This philosophy protects them from getting in the trenches themselves.

A few in this other group (the leadership or leadership approved) are outspoken, self-righteous, finger pointers. Unlike their silent counterparts, they think it’s their job to correct all who don’t believe what they believe because of course what they believe is the only true interpretation of scripture.  How do they know?  Well, according to their mantra God (and therefore their version and interpretation of the Bible) is the same yesterday, today, and forever, no matter how well you document the evidence to the contrary.

Personally, I haven’t had many of these people in my life but I’ve heard about them, read or listened to some of their messages.  The moms in a FB group I’m part of frequently lament their experiences with the judgments and ridicule of these self-avowed Christians who demand they choose between loving God or accepting their LGBT identifying children.  The pain and ugliness inflicted from such Christian charlatans makes me ashamed–not of Christ–but of Christianity.

The other half of my other group is more political in nature.  While I was once a die-hard Republican, I have moved away from their ways of seeing the world. I am not offended by conservative perspectives or priorities so long as they are motivated by the greater good.  But sadly, few reasonable voices are left in the Republican party and those who do exist have been drowned out by fear-mongering, power hungry, extremists. These smug elitists see average citizens as expendable, and unimportant.  They seem to regard the basic needs of the working class as a nuisance.  The attitudes and behavior exemplified by these politicians, and others like them, make me embarrassed to be called an American.

I was raised to believe I had a responsibility to the community in which I lived.  Both my religion and my citizenship encouraged me to look out for those less fortunate than I. They taught me to work hard and to do my best, but they also expected me to have compassion, to not look down my nose at another individual.  My conservative roots gave me a godly and noble foundation.  So, it breaks my heart–and makes me a little more than angry–to see how ugly and twisted the Republican party and the loudest voices of evangelical Christianity have become.

How is it possible that the top contenders for president, within the Republican Party, are Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio?   Oh, I understand the frustration with the gridlock in Washington.  I agree that the same ol’ same ol’ isn’t working.  But if you sincerely want Washington to work and work together what sense does it make to support a candidate who can’t even get along with his fellow Republicans?  The behavior of these men in  the most recent GOP debate was as appalling as it is typical.  Senator Rubio behaved like an overly excited yapping dog at the feet of an unaffected bully. Meanwhile, Senator Cruz who has been at odds with his own party as well as the Democrats since he entered the senate was completely overrun and summarily dismissed by King Trump who couldn’t say something nice about someone else if his life depended on it.  He even took a swipe at the moderator.  If that is Trump’s plan for keeping his underlings in line, it’s the only plan he he’s got!  Yet, somehow Republicans think one of these men  will be able to bring both sides of the isle together.  Answer me this–HOW!!??

The tragedy for the Republican party is, even if Trump is dethroned, the pettiness, the lack of compassion, and the love affair with war and Wall Street, AKA power, doesn’t go away.  As senators, Cruz and Rubio voted against the Veterans Benefits Bill  and the Violence Against Women Act. If elected president both plan to de-fund planned parenthood, lower taxes on the wealthiest Americans, repeal the Affordable Care Act, and end marriage equality. Of course, for some evangelicals that’s exactly what they want to hear because as we all know–it’s the government’s job to keep those sinners in line.  Their tax plans and their promises to balance the budget and increase military spending would literally wipe out  all support for the middle class and working poor.  Except for the top 1 %, neither Marco Rubio nor Ted Cruz have any interest in helping individuals.

I still believe we have an obligation to the communities in which we live.  Our goal should be to leave our world in better shape than how we found it.  In order to do so, I can easily walk away from the Republican party.  It is, after all, only a political organization whose philosophies have warped in ways that no longer focus on improving the whole or serving the greater good. It deserves to be abandoned.  At the same time, for me personally, walking away from Christianity would be a much more gut wrenching process, one I am still not certain is the best solution. Even though the numbers of people I know who have done just that are steadily increasing, walking away is not a journey I desire to make. Yet, when one can no longer recognize the face of God on the people who claim His name leaving remains an option. My prayer, and where I will continue to focus my efforts, is to see that more reasonable, compassionate, voices and leaders prevail.

 

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