Posted by: minnow | October 25, 2016

I Had Five “Abortions”

At least that’s how the medical personnel who worked with me kept referring to what had happened. The first time in the hospital, I was a conservative, on the verge of Bible-thumping, evangelical Christian.  The nurses kept chatting about my “abortion”. I eventually got so irritated with their character assassination, I yelled at one of them, “I did NOT just have an abortion!” She patted my hand and assured me, “Oh no sweetie, you had a spontaneous abortion, not an induced abortion. It’s okay.” But, it wasn’t okay with me.  I didn’t believe in abortion.  A couple days later, when I was cleaning the fish bowl I accidentally washed my son’s goldfish down the drain. I fell completely apart, “I was a murderer!”

During my next “abortion” I actually held the baby I lost in the palm of my hand.  I could see her nose and her eyes and count her toes. She was perfect. Except she was in the palm of my hand not the safety of my womb. I hemorrhaged. I nearly passed out in the ER.  The doctor ordered a D and C to stop the hemorrhaging.  And, I felt totally guilty.

The last time my body aborted was the most frightening. It started with “spotting”.  I’d spotted before, with my son, but given the loss of my two most recent pregnancies, I went in for an ultra-sound.  No heartbeat.  In fact, no baby.  Where a tiny embryo should have been growing I had a mass of cells that looked like a giant cluster of grapes.  Cancer….well, potentially cancer.  My body was obviously trying to expel it.  Another D and C was ordered to help it along.  Yes, the blood test said I was pregnant.  But, no I wasn’t. Not with a baby. It was this Molar Pregnancy instead. And it could become life threatening if I didn’t become unpregnant fast.  But what if the ultrasound was wrong?…what if… No, my doctor insisted. The blood test was wrong.  The hyper elevated hGC actually indicated an abnormality.  There really was NO baby.

So, I had a medically necessary, induced abortion, to rid my body of behaviorally cancerous cells that were pretending to be a baby.  I needed monthly follow-up blood tests for a year to make sure my hGC levels went back to and stayed normal.  And, it was highly recommended I never become pregnant again.  The chances of a viable pregnancy after a molar pregnancy were low, at best.

Abortion.  The latest topic to reach center stage in this election.  I shared my personal journey through the land of “abortion” in part because I want to bring some humanity to the table before I start blasting my way through with facts and opinions.  I could keep sharing stories, like this one from a woman who needed a life saving late term abortion, but, the real problem, at least for those in my circle of friends who plan to vote for Trump in order to honor their objection to abortion, isn’t a lack of compassion.  Most of you care deeply not only about the lives of the unborn but about the rest of humanity as well.  I do not fault your heart when it comes to the issue of abortion.  But I do fault your logic.  And frankly, I don’t understand your faith.

Prior to the Roe VS Wade decision, abortions were legal in 17 states.  Most, however, were much more dangerous for the women getting them than they are today, thus the “safe, legal, and rare” campaign leading up to and possibly impacting the Supreme Court decision.  Between 1950 and 1960 (before Roe vs Wade) the abortion rate was as high as 1.2 million, with nearly 5,000 maternal deaths annually, impoverished women suffering the most complications and casualties. Since Roe VS Wade, the abortion rate has decreased steadily from a 1990 high of 1.4 million to approximately 700,000 in 2012.  In other words, WE ARE ALREADY BELOW most estimates of pre Roe VS Wade abortion rates.  Thus, comparatively speaking abortion has become more rare and is definitely more safe.

Those who think abortion is immoral. period. might not care why women seek abortions.  However, if we honestly want to decrease the occurrence of something we might benefit from understanding why it occurs in the first place. Maternal health, rape, and incest combined account for only 4% of all abortions, while women seeking late term abortions (after 20 weeks) account for only 1.5% of all cases. Those are the extremes, but here are some other factors based on 2014 statistics that might help to paint an honest picture. 75 % of women seeking abortions were slightly above to well below the poverty line. 46% were single women many of whom reported the lack of support and resources as contributing to their decision (think no childcare and no health insurance). Over 50% identify as Christian. More than half were in their 20s and 12% were in their teens. Finally, many women voiced concerns for how a baby, or even a pregnancy, would change their lives (think job loss, disrupted schooling, and loss of community and family support).

So, when we throw all these factors on the canvas what picture do they actually paint? First, the passage of Roe VS Wade did not dramatically impact the number of abortions in the United States.  Thus, spending time, energy, and resources trying to over turn it instead of using that same time, energy, and resources to create an environment where fewer women  seek abortions, is a waste of our time energy and resources.  Secondly, voting Republicans because they promise to make abortions more difficult to obtain, yet rarely fulfill their promise, is illogical, especially since they also contribute to a pro-abortion environment. Their policy and laws that discriminate against single moms, allow unwed pregnant women to be fired, try to make healthcare more difficult, if not impossible, to obtain, and keep women in poverty by refusing to support an increased minimum wage and equal pay for equal work laws are completely counter productive. Therefore for all these reasons, Democrats who fight for social justice in fact do more to reduce abortions than the GOP.

Earlier I shared my experiences to bring a little humanity to the table. I also want to used it as an illustration, specifically for Christians.  I felt guilty even though technically I had no control of my situation.  The medical personnel didn’t blame me, but the language they used triggered a sense of shame that was extremely powerful. I wanted to hide, and did to the degree that I didn’t even tell my own parents what I was going through.  In addition to understanding what your actions are not doing–voting for a pro-life Republican is NOT reducing the number of abortions–I want you to understand what you are doing.  Remember, over 50% of the women seeking abortions identify as Christians.  The vast majority understand that an abortion ends the life of their baby. Yet, they choose to have an abortion anyway. They choose to live with the guilt and shame they put on themselves rather than the guilt, shame, and potential abandonment by their families.  The language we use as we describe abortions and the women who get them, the damnation we cast on women (not men) who become pregnant outside of marriage, and the attitudes perpetuated by the Republican party that the poor are freeloaders, lazy, and unworthy of our concern creates a pro-abortion environment.  Many women are hiding, just like I did because they are too afraid of the consequences if they are found out.  I am not saying we need to avoid teaching our children to be morally responsible individuals but we must re-evaluate how we teach those lessons. If we do not couple our “superior” morality with lessons of grace and compassion then we are NOT walking out the love of Christ.

I believe my Christian friends and family are caring people, people who personally would walk the extra mile.  I just think the Republican party has sold you a pack of lies and you need to do a reality check.  If you sincerely want our nation to return to Christian principles it won’t be accomplished by throwing your support behind the Republican party in its current manifestation.

Posted by: minnow | October 16, 2016

Entertainment Isn’t News

Ever since Donald Trump became the heir apparent to the GOP crown, we have seen numerous attempts by the media to explain how it happened. Thoughtful conservatives, whether fiscally or morally motivated, are in shock. And, more and more of these same conservatives are parting ways with the Grand Old Party as a result. They simply refuse to climb in bed with the fiscally reckless and morally bankrupt Trump, even if it means Hillary Clinton becomes president.

So, how DID it happen? We have the first woman to be nominate by a major political party, a person more qualified than any previous candidate to run for the office, and a second candidate who has never spent a day in public service, is less qualified than any previous candidate, and the most publicly vulgar individual we have ever had run for the office, and still, SHE has been just as hard a sell to voters as he is?

Something is seriously wrong with this picture but the problem is NOT Hillary Clinton. Nor, interestingly enough, is the problem Donald Trump, though he is his own brand of problem.

Quite frankly, the reason these two candidates have been running neck and neck (until Trump’s most recent scandal, that is) lies squarely at the feet of the media.  The “fourth estate” is no longer in the business of truth telling, news reporting, fact finding, or serious story telling.  Instead, it is in the ratings game, the business of entertainment, and the sensationalizing of every scandalous story it can get its hands on.  Surprisingly, they even admit it.  Just before the first presidential debate, Chris Wallace, the host of FOX News, said it won’t be his job–as a moderator of an upcoming presidential debate to be the “truth squad”.

Yet, the rest of the world sees him, and other newspeople, as someone who should know the facts.  Sadly, when he offers no follow-up question to get to the truth, when he avoids confronting the interviewee, the public assumes the speaker said nothing wrong.  When a person is allowed to tell the same lies over and over again without challenge, without being asked to prove their accuracy the public’s perception becomes skewed.

For almost 30 years Hillary Clinton has had to answer accusation after accusation.  Even when she’s been cleared by investigators of any wrong doing, even when her accusers offer no evidence, even when the facts are in her favor.  Policies aside, if no names were attached to the resumes and the only information the public had was the list of their accomplishments and service no one could honestly say Trump would make a better president than Clinton.  No one.  But honestly, the media’s treatment of Clinton just set the stage for this election.  Their other decision nearly spelled our doom.

Trump’s selling power (because he is so ridiculously easy to joke about and make fun of), coupled with the media’s greed for ratings meant he has received an inordinate amount of attention.  He garnered so much attention that the other GOP candidates had trouble getting any. (Let’s face it–even Cruz was dull by comparison).  The estimate is, Trump was handed 3 billion dollars worth of free air time–3 BILLION dollars worth.

Sadly, we refused to recognize the danger until it was nearly too late. As the nominee for a major political party Trump received the legitimacy he lacked.  Had he actually had some degree of self restraint, had he one or two policy ideas he could (and would) actually promote the media might have dug us an inescapable hole.  Fortunately for the press, and the American people, Trump’s scandals just might undermine his victory–no thanks to the press.

Unfortunately, the damage to our safety and international reputation has already occurred.  That some members of the press still claim it is not their job to help the public understand the truth about Trump’s lies and ignorance completely baffles me. But, even without THAT craziness, the obsession on the part of the press to continually point out Hillary’s every “misstep” is mind boggling: ‘She nearly passed out during a 9-11 memorial service.  They say its pneumonia but could it be something bigger.  You know she hit her head 5 years ago, maybe…’  Trump is heard talking about groping women, making sexual advances that are not consensual.  He faces hearing in December for raping a 13 year old girl.  But Hillary, she stood by her man. REALLY!??!  Can any sane person seriously argue that these two actions are comparable?

Now a word specifically to the media:

Even though the public laughed at the Late Night stand-up routines lampooning Trump, is that a good enough reason for legitimate news sources to give Trump a pass?  Is it a valid reason to show clip after clip of his bombastic rhetoric as though he actually had something of value to say. The media has forgotten its first calling: reporting real events, no matter how unpopular, informing the public of the FACTS and the hard truths. The minute you began to care more about an attractive face, broad shouldered men and good figured women than an anchor’s ability to think, and reason, and postulate, the NEWS was lost. We need to find it again!

You pride yourselves on balance? Then start being more provocative! Because what America lacks is real, hard hitting news! We have comedy.  We have reality TV.  We have late night entertainment.  We need the serious truth.  Stumped? Try emulating The Newsroom!  

The American public is angry.  And, your trustability ratings are the lowest they have ever been.  We are entering dangerous time–thanks in part to media’s laziness and timidity.  We cannot afford to give Donald Trump, or his minions any more room to spread their lies and fear.  What comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth IS NOT NEWS just because he says it.  If you cannot substantiate his claims with an independent source, don’t report them.  Truly, it is that simple.

Please, for the sake of the American people, take back your integrity.

Posted by: minnow | October 11, 2016

Trump’s Conservative (?) Christian(?) Support

Most of the labels attached to Trump which actually describe him–racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, egomaniac–haven’t seemed to damage his popularity much.  On the other hand, one label I would argue has no place any where near Mr. Trump seems somehow permanently attached–Christian Conservative.  Simply do not understand.

Mr. Trump is about as far from a true conservative or an authentic Christian as one can get. But sadly, we don’t have many true conservatives left.  And, far too many Christians have forgotten what it means to follow Christ.  These days it seems we mostly have Trump and Trump-wannabes. So, what’s the difference between Trump’s brand of conservative Christian and the real McCoy?  Let’s explore the real McCoy first.

True Conservatives want to invest in the United States economy for their own benefit certainly but also for the benefit of the country as a whole.  They believe a solid day’s work should yield a solid day’s reward.  They recognize and respect the men and women who keep America going and growing and believe the working class should be compensated for their efforts. True conservatives want government to be fiscally responsible. They invest in their communities.  And, they pay their fair share of taxes because they know their tax dollars are necessary for maintaining the infrastructure, quality public education, a trained and equip military, social services, and law and order.  True conservatives are found at every social and economic level.

Likewise true Christians come is all shapes and sizes. They believe the fruit of a person’s life reveals his or her spiritual health.  They take seriously the words of Jesus when He told his followers to take care of the widows and orphans, the downtrodden, and the foreigners.  True Christ followers walk humbly, share their blessings including their wealth, and live at peace to the best of their ability.

Trump, on the other hand, has no interest outside of himself.  As this article from the New York Times explains, his business dealing have been reckless and self-serving, though technically legal.  For years, he has been a major contributor to what is wrong with Washington, donating to politicians on both sides of the isle in order to garner favor, thinking only about what would help him get rich, the rest of the country be damned.  In the early 90s Trump encouraged lawmakers to create loopholes that would allow him to avoid paying taxes on the loans he took out while at the same time declaring bankruptcy and refusing to pay those he hired.  He has declared bankruptcy on four separate occasions and buried most who have tried to sue him for non-payment with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of legal bills.  Throughout the campaign he has avoided laying out any sort of plan for rebuilding the economy, restoring our flailing infrastructure, improving education, or creating jobs.  He wants to cut taxes on wealthy people like himself but calls workers too poor to pay taxes freeloaders.

The other adjective which seems stuck on Trump–Christian–is equally confusing. The most recent storm to hit the air wave concerning Trump, a video tape recorded in 2005  on which he explains–using extremely vulgar language–how easy it is for him to assault women, should be enough to illustrate just how far away from Christian values Donald Trump stands. The fact it is only one of dozens of such comments denigrating women, slandering Hispanics, condemning people in the LGBT community, and vilifying Muslims should cause Christians who claim to vote according to their principles grave concern.  Yet, for some unfathomable reason, except that it is not actually unfathomable but rather very patriarchal, evangelicals on the Right–Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Ralph Reed of the Faith and Family Coalition, David Bozell head of ForAmerica, Robert Jeffress senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a member of Trump’s Faith Advisory Council, David Brody from the Christian Broadcasting Network, evangelist Franklin Graham, James Dobson of Family Talk, president of Liberty University Jerry Falwell and Mark Harris the pastor at First Baptist Church in Charlotte, WV–all continue to support him.

After the latest scandal, some tried to suggest Trump’s values are not why they support him but rather the more pressing issue of a justice to the Supreme Court is the more important factor.  Others insist that, that (meaning the latest scandal) was then and Trump has since been born again. To that suggestion I say, bologna! If we were talking about a before and after that were different from one another then perhaps the argument could hold some validity. The problem is Trump’s after  is very much like his before. The example of scripture is that once we come to Christ we understand how desperately we need forgiveness. We recognize our past failings as despicable. We humble ourselves before our Maker and yes, before Man as well. NONE of this rings true for Donald Trump. Since his supposed come to Jesus moment Trump has: 1. stated that the President and Secretary Clinton were founder and co-founder of ISIS, 2. tried to embarrass Humayun Khan’s family by ridiculing his mother, 3. called Clinton the devil, 4. threatened the Muslim neighbors of a terrorist with “consequences”, 5. slandered former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, excused the latest scandal as “locker room talk” and 7. suggested the 2nd Amendment folks could do something about Hillary. These are not the ravings of a man who has had a life changing encounter with Christ. Trump’s behavior threatens the physical and economic safety of the United States. His excuses and explanations reveal extreme arrogance, a desire to deflect blame, and a troubling refusal to accept responsibility.

If you do not agree with Hillary Clinton’s proposals and policies then don’t vote for her.  But for the sake of God and country stop pretending Trump embodies any conservative or Christian value worth holding. The man can’t remember what he said an hour ago let alone what promise he made or what platform the Party faithful drew up.

Posted by: minnow | September 23, 2016

A Peaceful Protest Against Violence

Until you are outraged about this:

Please keep your opinions to yourself about this:

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

Posted by: minnow | September 11, 2016

Seek Out the Facts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: minnow | July 31, 2016

You’re Correct; Trump Is Not a Nazi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by: minnow | July 28, 2016

Another Day

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

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

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

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

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

Her daughter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by: minnow | July 26, 2016

Defining Moment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by: minnow | July 25, 2016

Out the Window

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Posted by: minnow | July 18, 2016

Two Parties, Two Candidates, One Choice

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

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