Posted by: minnow | March 12, 2017

The Pieces of the Puzzle

Have you ever put the border of a jigsaw puzzle together only to feel like all those left over pieces couldn’t possibly fit?  For the first month of the new Administration the craziness and chaos felt like it didn’t fit. Irrational tweets, illegal bans, unqualified cabinet picks, unsubstantiated claims, and a GOP leadership who couldn’t or wouldn’t rein in their guy. Day after day we faced an all too real Saturday Night Live skit.

From The Wall Street Journal to the Huffington Post, print media tried to explain the phenomenon that hit the White House. Talking heads predicted, commentators surmised, and bloggers from coast to coast offered their two cents. Yet the madness continued. Anyone who dared to point out the plethora of lies pouring from the Administration were berated and labeled fake.  Conway, Spicer, and Miller defended the defenseless and most of the press left their blather unchallenged.

Even more frightening, the enablers in the Republican dominated Congress happily fly under the radar which is POTUS. We seem to be watching a race to see who can inflict the most damage the fasted–45 or GOP leadership.  The President’s unprecedented behavior and irrational accusations have pulled so much focus that the wrecking ball legislation in Congress has floated along relatively unchecked.  BUT BE AWARE! While the President may have more power to harm the American people in the short term, the harm inflicted on the people by Congress is far greater and will last much longer. Unless 45  manages to get the US into a nuclear war (which may not be too far fetched) the betrayal from Congress could also be more costly.

Key benefits and safe guards for the American people are already on Congress’ chopping block.  The first step to deregulating corporations and subsequently making re-regulating them more difficult was the passage of the Midnight Rules Relief Act. Basically congress can bundle regulations established in the last year of an administration, vote them all down together and require Congressional approval of each one separately before it could be enforced.  Not only does this legislation impact environmental regulations which would be damaging enough, it also affects paid sick leave, school lunch programs, and most importantly–the rights of individuals to form class action law suits. Make no mistake government in the hand of the current GOP leadership is not a friend of the people. The current power in Washington has no intention of representing OUR wishes.

Ready for some additional bills Congress hopes to pass or already has while Americans aren’t looking. The 115th wants to withdraw from the United Nations. It made an initial attack against Dodd-Frank by by passing a law that ends the requirement for gas and oil companies to disclose payments made to the US and foreign governments which allow commercial development.  Congress has also begun the process of defunding Planned Parenthood which may make cold hearted conservatives cheer but will leave hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women and children without affordable healthcare.  This includes prenatal care, STD tests, and cancer screening.

Evidently, leaving millions without healthcare is not a problem Republicans find too disturbing. Along these lines, they actually have a plan now to repeal the ACA (Obamacare). While their plan does away with mandatory coverage, it allows insurance companies to charge a 30% penalty for those with gaps in their coverage. Translated this means, if you can’t afford healthcare now it will become even more costly to get it later. The GOP also plans to cover cost with tax credits but, “Estimates from congressional budget analysts and the White House’s Office of Management and Budget kept showing that the credits would be both too small to provide enough help to lower-income people and too expensive overall for a GOP determined to slash federal spending that the ACA has required.” Additionally, Money Magazine and Rolling Stone explain that while pre-existing conditions can’t be denied they will be a reason for more costly insurance, older consumers will pay more under the GOP plan, and medicaid expansion will be phased out.  Finally, premium support will be capped at the rate of the Consumer Price Index plus 1 percent.  In 2016 this was 3.1%.  Meanwhile premiums rose by 25% in the same time period. Thus, the poor and much of the middle class will again be without insurance.

Oh well, perhaps we’ll save money by letting private investors (foreign and domestic) rebuild our infrastructure.  Though this idea originated with 45, Congress is sure to catch on. We have just one small catch, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao insists the federal government can’t pay for it all. Normally this means taxpayers need help from wealthy corporations which also benefit from a strong infrastructure.  This time however, wealthy corporations that might initially foot part of the bill will be allowed to charge tolls for the use of the roads and bridges they help build.  In other words, the corporations (not government) will get their money back through tolls while the people not only pay their portion of the cost through taxes but then again every time they drive. It works like this: “I’ll loan you some of the money to build,” says the private investor. “You then pay (possibly my company) to do the building. Then I’ll charge a toll from everyone who uses what I’ve built (even though taxpayers have also helped via taxes). Finally, I get to increase the toll whenever I need a little extra cash.”  Sound fair?  Yeah, not to me either.

People like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders represent the first line of defense against the fleecing of America by the wealthy elite and their puppet Congress–both morally and economically.  Red flags, like the resurgence of for profit prisons coupled with rounding up undocumented immigrants, bring the picture of our puzzle into focus. And, it isn’t pretty.  Resisters–protest is important, but it isn’t enough.  Get organized.  Find intelligent, compassionate people willing to step up. Then, get them elected! The world needs Americans willing and ready to fight.

Posted by: minnow | March 6, 2017

SPECIAL ELECTION

Now that Zinke has been confirmed as Secretary of Interior Montana is one of five states to need a special election or new appointment to replace a person joining 45’s cabinet.  We actually have an unique opportunity to lead the efforts to push back against POTUS, his support team, and the GOP power in Washington. Interestingly enough, Montana is the only one of the 5 to have a Democratic governor and at least one Democratic senator.  In other words we are not a completely RED state. Several Democrats voiced their interest in running for Zinke’s spot. In the end, State leadership selected Rob Quist to go up against the yet unnamed (though probable big money raiser Greg Gianforte will get the nod) Republican candidate.  The election will be May 25th.

With so much at stake, I must admit for this progressive, Quist is a disappointing choice.  He has no experience running a campaign.  He has no experience raising money.  He has no experience writing a bill, functioning on a political committee, working with other politicians, or fighting for important issues on any political front let alone in Washington D.C. But he sports a cool cowboy hat, plays a mean banjo (or so I’m told), and has a penis, which evidently means a lot to Montana Democrats.  I hear he’s on the progressive side of the issues but, I’ll need to take him at his word since he has no track record.

Folks, from my perspective our democracy is going to hell in a hand basket. And, I am angry that with so much at stake the Democrats decided an experienced woman on the correct side of the issues we’ve been told are SO important is somehow less electable than the inexperience man. I don’t know how to sell that to my son or his friends who felt betrayed when the DNC was so overtly anti-Sanders. Why should they trust those who have betrayed the progressive voice, yet again?

Maybe Rob is on the same side of the issues I am on but since we only have his words, I’m simply expected to trust that he is. I’m supposed to give him my money. I’m ordered (for the good of the country, because we must resist 45, because our very democracy is at stake) to vote for Quist and to tell others to vote for him as well. (If we can each get 20 we’ll turn this state purple). The reality is Rob’s biggest claim to fame is he was part of the Mission Mountain Woods Band which toured all over the state over 30 years ago and since then he’s been a big advocate for the arts.

I have to tell you, as a woman I’m pissed. As someone who cares about education, the environment, public lands, LBGT rights, gender equality, immigration, Social Security, healthcare, and the economy, I’m pissed. I feel betrayed, again.  I feel unheard, again.  I feel ignored, again. Yes. Yes. Of course, yes! I will vote for Rob Quist.  He’s closer to a progressive than anyone the GOP will put up, especially Gianforte. But, I can’t in good faith say I trust he’ll actually represent my best interests or my son’s or his friends’ because I have nothing on which to base that kind of confidence.

Let me just give you a little head’s up and then I’ll keep these kinds of opinions to myself, at least until after the election.  The so called undecided voters in Montana, and I believe through out the country, are simply not voting.  They are “undecided” because they can’t make up their minds between mediocre and meh.  They are frustrated with the status quo and tired of politicians who don’t have a backbone.  While the GOP has been taken over by the religious right, tea partiers, and bigots, Democrats have ignored their base for so long the base has given up hope and is staying home.  46% of eligible voters did not vote in the most important presidential election in my lifetime–and I’ve been voting for 4 decades.

I heard every excuse in the book for why Amanda Curtis wasn’t selected but every excuse boils down to the same thing.  Traditional Democrats are not willing to fight for progressive ideology. You have convinced yourselves (even though it has proven to be less true with each election) the only way to win is to snag a few moderate voters from the GOP.  Meanwhile the middle has moved further and further to the right.  Hate to break it to you, but Democrats–you are the middle voter. There aren’t any others hiding in the bushes. So, unless you want a People’s Progressive Party to rise up and start fighting with the GOP over your votes, you need to get reacquainted with your roots.

Democrats need to champion the working class and the disenfranchised, you need to listen to women, and yes, you need to light a fire under the butts of the millennials.  If you don’t, if you keep pushing the status quo, keep playing the safe game, keep insists unexperienced men are easier to elect than experienced women, and keep trying to sell us the notion that soft spoken white guys are more palatable than persistent, articulate, hard hitting women, the only place you’ll be hearing about Democrats is in the history books.

By all means folks, vote for Rob Quist.  I hope he is elected.  I plan to vote for him and will encourage others to as well.  He’s certainly more reasonable than the guy whose comment about Social Security was that Noah lived to be 600 and worked every day of his life.  But honestly, that’s a pretty low bar even if it brings a ton of money with it.  2020 is right around the corner.  What is this party going to look like then?

Posted by: minnow | March 3, 2017

Lessons from History

I am tired of being told to settle down, to find something positive to focus on, to give POTUS a chance, and to quit dwelling on our mistakes.  A recent letter, from C. T. Ripley, to the editor of the Billings Gazette in Montana suggested we need to stop talking about WWII internment camps as if we did something wrong by protecting American citizens.  I could not let this letter stand.  AMERICA must decide to learn from our mistakes. We need to remember the horrific things we have done out of fear so we learn how not to be afraid.  In response to Ripley I wrote:

I cannot let  C. T. Ripley’s letter stand.  When we call rounding up American citizens, allowing their homes and businesses to be taken without compensation, and placing them in camps with armed guards, little food, and few resources “common sense”, we can no longer claim to value justice or freedom.  The reason compassionate people talk about one of the blackest marks on America from the 20th Century is so we do not, in the 21st Century, repeat our grave error in judgment. 

Ripley’s letter stated, “I empathize with the internees…, but had they been interred by their own countrymen as suspected American sympathizers their fate would have been far worse.” Ridiculous! They were interned by their own countrymen—Americans were their countrymen!  That’s the point. To prove their loyalty, many sons, husbands, and fathers of the  interned fought for the United States during WWII.  For their service, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the 100th Infantry Battalion, comprised almost entirely Japanese Americans received 9,486 Purple Hearts, 8 Presidential Unit Citations, 559 Silver Stars, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, and 21 Medal of Honors. Approximately 18,000 served in the 442nd and 6,000 as part of the MIS.  800 died in action.

If we want to preserve our Constitution, if America wants to continue to be the champion of individual liberties and justice, we must stand against any action that singles out one group of people based on the color of their skin or the nation of their ancestors.  We must NOT repeat the mistakes of history.

For the first time in a long time,  during his address to Congress, POTUS sounded rational, calm, at times even “presidential”.  But, like I said in my last blog, I will judge POTUS, his supporters, and Congress based on their actions not merely their words.  So far those actions make me worried for the future of this nation.  So far, the Administration’s actions and those of the GOP cause me to doubt the stability of our economy as well as our security.

When one part of the citizenry is threatened, we all are threatened.  When one group of people has unfettered power, all others are at risk of loosing their self governance and protection from harm.  When our laws, and especially the Constitution, are applied to some more than others, we all are at risk of unfair treatment under the law” and of losing our individual rights.  Differences in ethnicity, gender, religious believes, sexuality, and age are not reasons to fear our fellow Americans.  The presence in your neighborhood or school or congregation of someone who is “not like you” does not put you at risk of harm; it puts you in danger of learning something new, making a friend, and even changing your thinking.  And if your response to the “other” is open then perhaps your goodness will put them in danger of the same.

Posted by: minnow | March 1, 2017

So How Did POTUS Do?

When 45 sticks to the script he actually sounds quite intelligent.  He speaks in complete, coherent sentences. He even can appear to have a heart.  The post speech talking heads all seemed to agree last night’s address had fewer references to himself than any speech they could recall. And while singling out individuals who had suffered loss at the hands of undocumented immigrants was seem by some as unfairly maligning immigrants, using Bill Owen’s widow was a powerful move.  Of course, it may backfire if Owen’s dad gets the investigation he wants but in the short term it humanized our new president a little at a time when he needed it most. But, what did our new president actually say in his address?
A quick Fact Check of 45’s speech last night reveals he hasn’t stopped fabricating the truth.
Once again, 45 accused immigrants of costing the US billions of dollars.  Do they?
Ultimately the statement is FALSE. Over the long haul, the positive financial impact of immigrants out weighs the short term expense.
He took credit for saving millions on the F-35 fighter.
This statement was also FALSE. Most of these savings were secured under President Obama.
POTUS claimed a massive tax cut for the middle class.
In FACT, the most massive cut benefits the top. On average his plan will result in an over $200,000dollar savings for the richest 1%. Additionally, the proposed program cuts which will allow for the tax relief hurt working class Americans by removing safety nets.
He stated that 94 million Americans are out of the labor force.
In TRUTH however, his figure included every teen and adult 16 and older. Some of these people are WORKING in school instead of for pay, a good many have RETIRED after working their whole lives, and another percentage are stay at home moms who WORK taking care of children and/or aging parents.
The President also bashed immigrants by saying the vast majority of individuals convicted of terrorism since 9/11 were foreign born.
The REALITY, however is quite different.  Home grown, born in the US, terrorists actually account for over half the terror attacks in the US according to both the Justice Department and Homeland Security.
Additionally, POTUS took credit for jobs he hasn’t created and asserted that the ACA is collapsing without providing evidence to back up his assertion.  He waxed eloquently about working together but directed his most critical remarks to the Democratic side of the chamber.
The President bragged about cutting red tape in order to get the economy rolling again. And, no doubt removing protections from the EPA and deregulating big banks and Wall Street will have a short term positive effect on the economy. However, we are not so far removed from the public bail-out of 2008 that we should be blind to the dangers of an unfettered banking system. Even as our politicians betray us, the public should be seriously concerned about the long term impact of deregulation. We should also be aware of how disastrous and expensive failing to protect our environment can become.  For the past 35 years the EPA has committed over a billion dollars a year to cleaning up hazardous materials.
The last big announcement made by POTUS was a proposal to increase the military’s budget by $54 billion dollars. However, when the military can’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars from its past budgets, increasing their budget should be laughable. Since POTUS thinks his get rid of two regulations for every new regulation created is so clever perhaps he should apply the same thinking to the Pentagon—for every new dollar of spending they “need” they ought to cut two dollars of waste or at least be forced to account for it!
While most commentators can’t seem to get over how eloquent and civil the President can sound when he’s reading someone else’s words, I plan to wait for actual policy to be enacted before I take those words at face value. If the last 30 days have taught us anything, they surly taught us things are not always as they seem in this new administration.  45 may be the most unpredictable political figure  in Washington but but he is not the only politician we need to watch. the newly empowered GOP, hiding behind their lightening rod President, may soon inflict just as much damage as 45 already has.
Posted by: minnow | February 25, 2017

The Free Press; the People’s Voice

When Senator McConnell said he hoped Democrats would treat the new President the way President Obama was treated by Republicans his message was insincere, even if he only meant 45’s cabinet picks.  President Obama’s nominees waited an average of 35 days for confirmation, with his nominee for Attorney General taking a full 161 days. Just for perspective, President George W. Bush’s nominees waited 16 days on average. In truth, Senator McConnell wants his guy to be treated better than how he and his cronies treated President Obama. For eight years their behavior was both partisan and petty. President Obama was the only President to literally need to show his birth certificate.  President Obama was the only President to face 500 filibusters in the Senate,  the only president to be denied a budget hearing, and the only president denied a hearing for his Supreme Court Justice nominee. Senator McConnell himself made the public announcement that the top priority of the GOP would be to deny President Obama a second term. And, although they failed, McConnell and his gang did everything in their power to achieve that end.  So today when Senator McConnell whines about Democrat obstructionists he actually knows his GOP has an exclusive on that particular market.

Another fact about the last eight years is: President Obama set a high bar when it comes to political and social discourse.  Ideas are up for discussion.  Policy can and should be debated, actions analyzed, and rhetoric criticized.  But personality is not to be maligned without irrefutable evidence to back up each and every claim.   My sincere hope is the men and women of Congress give our newly elected President more respect than the man deserves. Congress should respect the office and the Constitution which established that office.  As part of the electorate, I expect them to maintain the high bar set by President Obama.  I expect them to refrain from belittling, name calling, and mockery because such behavior reflects negatively on them and does nothing to confront the very real threats our current President poses.  And while most are arriving late to the party, this administration must be held to account.

The level of dishonesty, betrayal, and menace America has experienced from the White House since the inauguration IS NOT NORMAL.  We cannot afford to be distracted by playground charades or barnyard banter in response.  We must be clear about the difference between the petty whining perpetrated by the GOP for the past eight years and the serious danger we face today. POTUS, Bannon, Spicer, and Stephen Miller among others, do not have the American people’s best interests in mind when they enact and defend bans on people who pose no actual danger to Americans. They are not looking out for our safety when they rescind individual civil rights, threaten military action in our city streets, and ignore or make light of real attacks made by  home-grown individuals and hate groups.  They are not watching out for American interests when they only allow journalists access to White House briefings who routinely stroke their egos, ask soft questions, and report favorably about their actions.  

If you are not alarmed by the events of the past month you have either not been watching or your personal privilege has made you comfortable, and blind.  The President undermines the Constitution by his abuse of executive power. By-passing Congress, who alone has the ability to make law, levy taxes, and allocate money, his order to build a wall on our border and his threat to place a tariff on Mexico to pay for it are an over-reach of his authority. Our civil liberties are under attack by POTUS as well. His refugee ban has harassed innocent American citizens, sullied blameless immigrants who hold valid visas and green cards, and created fear where none is warranted.  Rescinding  President Obama’s protection for transgender students has left some of our most vulnerable citizens even more at risk and do nothing but placate the Religious Right. Additionally, several of the administration’s cabinet picks–Betsey DeVos, Scott Pruitt, Steven Mnuchin, and Wilbur Ross–are poised to compromise the effectiveness of or completely deconstruct the departments to which they’ve been appointed.

Yet, given all that, 45’s most treacherous  and revealing  behavior continues to be his relentless attach on the free press.   As a president Thomas Jefferson may have been critical of the press, but as a Founding Father he had a different opinion and with good reason. Writing to Edward Carrington, a delegate to the Continental Congress, Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”  In other words, Jefferson understood how vital access to information is to the public good, and not just information but truth.

Unlike Jefferson, our current president and his followers labels every fact they don’t like, fake. Paris Dennard, for example, tried to tell Don Lemon of CNN that a story about 45’s travel expenses was fake.  And, while it certainly does not show the President in the most flattering light, the $10 million dollars tax payers have shelled out for his multiple weekend trips to Mar-a-Lago is real.  Fake News is the garbage Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer have tried to peddle to the American people about a massacre in Bowling Green and voter fraud in California and New Hampshire. They spew assertions without evidence, lies which have been repeated despite being proven false, and misinformation that far too many Americans continue to swallow hook, line, and sinker.

Make no mistake, 45 and friends want power. They are interested in personal gain alone. And, they do not want to be questioned. Frighteningly, the GOP leadership, who could at least hold them at bay have so far been more interested in courting favor.  If justice and freedom are to prevail the American people must resist the agenda of this President and defend the fourth estate and the People’s voice.

Posted by: minnow | February 19, 2017

“Freedom”

William Wallace’s famous last line in the movie Braveheart often comes to mind when I listen to conservative Christians.  In general, I’m struck by how legalistic most are.  When I look back at my own life, I have to admit my adult children’s religious upbringing was steeped in religious legalism, and for this I am sad.  As a parent, I wish I’d seen it sooner, taught them to question the information handed them.  I wish I could have given them permission to step out of line without feel they might disappoint God.

As an adult looking back, I can see where and how I was taken in and why ultimately religious propaganda failed. Often set through the language of love, brainwashing in the fellowships I attended was accompanied by smiles and plenty of hugs. People desperate to fit in, longing for family, and/or geared to please authority became malleable. Specific displays of  loving concern such as tears, hugs, praying for one another, and lots of smiles, overflowed during alter calls or small group meetings. Prophetic words prayed over people highlighting their destiny as leaders, roll as prayer warriors, and children of the King were intoxicating.  We cheered: God is love.  We’re the family of God.  Bible up; Devil down.  Even, freedom in Christ. But the tenants taught from the platform were never unconditional. And while we gave lip service to a God that loved the whole world, what loving God in return looked like, was made crystal clear.  Ultimately, my own discernment was seen as divisive and my questions as proof of an un-submitted spirit.  The Men of God in the House of the Lord (and they were all men) were not to be doubted, because the Bible (according to patriarchal Western interpretations of English translations) is very clear.

Fast forward 10 years to the 2016 presidential election. Evangelical leaders, like James Dobson and Franklin Graham, took on the arduous task of convincing their followers that the front runner for the GOP, the man who would (thanks in part to them) eventually be crowned President of the United States, is a Christian.  Denying all evidence from his past and present behavior and ignoring his racist fear mongering throughout the campaign, these leaders not only proclaimed this man’s faith to the world but insisted he must be supported in order to save the nation from the anti-Christian likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Church, you have been brainwashed. You have been taught that anyone who does not believe exactly as you believe–about God, about the government, and about the foundation of the United States–is A). wrong, B). therefore the enemy, and C). as the enemy unworthy–unworthy of your trust, unworthy of your consideration, and unworthy of God’s love.  As extreme as it might seem to those on the outside, the jump from point A to point C is not actually a big one.  After all, your fight is against the spiritual forces of evil! And, God surly does not love evil. So, how could these men of God–Dobson, Graham, some of your own pastors–be wrong?!

The trouble is point A.  This type of thinking creates enemies in every facet of life not overtly controlled by your particular belief system.  For eight years the right painted Obama as anti-Christian, despite his history of church attendance and personal integrity.  For over 20 years they painted Clinton as worse than anti-Christian, despite her knowledge of scripture, personal testimony, and years of civil service.  For years, thousands, hundreds of thousands, believed that message.  Then, in 2016 a racist, sexist, xenophobe rose to the top of the Republican Party.  Some evangelicals tried to make excuses for their candidate’s vile rhetoric and ugly behavior saying things like, “He’s a baby Christian.” and “God’s ways aren’t always our ways–just look at King Saul.” (Saul who 1 Samuel 8 tells us was not actually chosen by God but was in fact a rejection of God by the people).  Yet, while many stuck with the plan and voted for the GOP candidate, others experienced a crisis of faith, a moral conflict which continues to assault their minds and spirits today.  They could see that the GOP’s King Saul was no more ordained by God than I Samuel’s King Saul.

You may not have been able to vote for Hillary Clinton, but I suspect, you were sickened by what you saw and were glad when the election was over. Now life could finally get back to normal if only those crazy protesters would quit…then maybe…

Yeah,…good luck with that.  The Holy Spirit wants to waken you.  And the Holy Spirit is not easily thwarted.

Christianity, (evangelicalism) has been split in two.  Some may hear that as end times prophecy.  Don’t go there.  If you need to put it in a historical context, think of it as a different kind of Azusa Street. Matthew 7:2 tells us we will be judged in the ways we judge others. One side of this split reads the Bible like a book of law that allows them to treat humanity like a giant game of Wack-a-Mole. Christianity has become their prison. The other side chooses to leave judgment up to God.  Their goal for the United States is to honor the separation of Church and State established by the Constitution. They are political only in so far as hate makes love political. Their moral imperative, as followers of Christ, is to treat all people with equal respect, equal value, and equal rights. In order to achieve this end, those who have been discriminated against, via our ignorance or our prejudices, must be protected.  These individuals do not seek, or receive, extra consideration by gaining our protection, but rather they seek–and we must see they receive–equal consideration under the law.

I pray the Holy Spirit continues to work in our hearts. In the mean while, if you want the United States to reflect your religious views–practice them and it will.

 

Posted by: minnow | February 17, 2017

News Conference

On February 16, 2017 the President held a news conference supposedly to announce Alexander Acosta as his new pick for Labor Secretary in light of Puzder’s dropping out of the running.  He also hinted he had a replacement for Flynn but the ex-Navy Seal he asked, declined.

After his announcement about Acosta, the President decided he needed to malign the media, spending several minutes and making multiple jabs at the press through out the hour and a half “news” conference.  He seemed to be mostly obsessed with his version of  “fake new” getting a hold of real leaks and reporting what was said, when those conversations were supposed to be confidential, or was that classified, or maybe just not what the President wanted people to know. Yet, he assured us his administration is running smoothly. There aren’t any problems except that the bad media is getting information illegally and reporting it. Hmmmm…Smooth, Mr. President.  The information in the leaks which concerned  him the most regarded his ties to Russia and various staff members’ conversations with people connected to Putin.  In other words, he still insists Flynn was just doing his job even though 45 called for Flynn’s resignation.  Our Commander in Chief even tried to say while so far it’s only been little stuff, if the press leaked something important while he was dealing with, say North Korea, it would be really bad.  Of course, he neglected to mention having had a phone conversation about the North Korean security crisis while in a crowded dining room at Mar-a-Lago last weekend.  Oops.

More than once the President insisted he owns nothing in Russia, has no loans in Russia, and no deals with Russia.  He hasn’t got a deal, but he wants to make a deal with Russia which is why he hasn’t done anything in response to Russia’s spy ship off our coast, Russia’s testing of ballistic missiles, or the Russian aircraft which buzzed a US destroyer.  Evidently our President thinks Putin is afraid the climate in the US isn’t conducive to deal making, but the President really want to make that deal. His strategy for making this happen is to build Putin’s confidence in him by not reacting to Russia’s threats toward America and broken treaty agreements.  (I guess we’ll get the details later as to what that “deal” the president really wants to make might entail.  I suspect it might be spelled OIL.  The GOP did after all confirm Rex Tillerson).

In addition to continuing to call CNN fake news (because they report things he doesn’t want reported) and the New York Times a failing newspaper (despite their on-line subscriptions being the highest they’ve been since 2011), the President told more than a couple lies on Thursday. So, let’s fact check the news conference a little, shall we.

Beginning near the beginning, NO his was not the biggest electoral college margin since Reagan. 45’s margin is in fact 46th out of 58 elections.  His 304 votes puts him behind both Obama’s wins of 332 and 365, both Clinton’s wins of 370 and 379, and George HW Bush’s win of 426.  This man obviously cannot stand having others beat him.

The President’s insecurity might also explain why he bashed the media by claiming their approval ratings were lower than those of Congress. The truth is in the latest poll from Gallup Congress has a distrust factor of  55% while Newspapers and Television have a 36% and 40% distrust factor respectively.  It might also be worth noting that while the Rassmussen poll shows 45’s approval ratings at 55% 10 other polls (including FOX News) show him below 50%. Gallup weighed in at 38%.

45 told another whopper when he stated that Clinton gave Russia 20% of the United States’ uranium. It simply didn’t happen.  Russia bought a major stake in a Canadian company, Uranium One, which has mines in the United States. While Clinton was Secretary of State at the time, she was not personally on the panel that oversees the types of transaction as Uranium One.  It should further be pointed out, 20% of our uranium capacity is a far cry from 20% of our existing uranium.

Resuming an old theme of denigrating the courts in order to discredit them, the President repeated the falsehood that the 9th Circuit court has the highest number of overturned cases.  Both the 6th Circuit Court and the 11th Circuit Court have had higher records.  BUT, that’s not actually the point.  Most cases which go to appeal are overturned.  It’s part of the reason cases are appealed; if the likelihood is not high a case will be decided differently it doesn’t move to an appellate court.  Putting it into perspective a little further, the number of cases which see an appellate court are miniscule. Only 11 to 15 cases a year from the 9th Circuit Court, which sees approximately 12,000 cases annually, are accepted for appeal. (That’s .00125 percent of its cases).  45’s remarks are exaggerated for the sole purpose of creating an issue where there is none.

Finally, 45 bragged that no president before him has accomplished so much so quickly.  Perhaps  that’s because past presidents understood the difference between a democratic republic and an authoritarian regime.  Perhaps past presidents didn’t actually attempt rule by executive order.  And just maybe past presidents did have a lapdog Congress so drunk with their own power they were willing to pull the democracy right out from under the feet of the American people.

Posted by: minnow | February 7, 2017

Dear Republicans in Congress

I understand some of you may still be feeling giddy from your newly acquired power–the House, the Senate, the Executive Branch and soon the Judiciary.  You got it all! And the only thing you had to do to get all this power was lie a little or keep your mouths shut. I bet you hardly know what to do first now that you’ve won.  The possibilities are endless. Maybe you will decide to take the breaks off Wall Street.  Dismantle the Affordable Care Act, you know the healthcare plan you nicknamed Obamacare just to make it less palatable. Perhaps you will dissolve the EPA. Who needs clean air or water?  Flint has survived for years now without it. I bet one of the first things you do is sell off our public lands to the highest bidder.  Your “friends” with money will be able to get more oil and gas and coal that way.  Or, maybe you want to focus on gutting public education with a voucher system so only the rich can afford to be educated and the rest of us can keep populating the service industries and trades.  Oh, I know, your first big order of business will probably be to open the way to privatizing the penal system.  The for profit owners could even charge the inmates rent, thereby creating a permanent class of indentured servants.

Didn’t you think we could read between the lines?!  Americans aren’t stupid.  Despite career politicians treating us as if we are.  Our worst quality is that we had too much faith.  We trusted you who have made a career in politics to actually care about serving the common good. Most in your party who voted for the President did so because he promised to drain the swamp not fill it with alligators. But, thanks to YOUR leader your party has woken the cynic in your ranks. And, it has woken the realist, and the hard working activist on the left.  So, we are going back to our roots, to the place President Obama got his start.  And we will rise–one community activist at a time.

Progressives will rise because even though you have shown us now, by passing The President‘s cabinet picks–Flynn, Puzder, DeVos, Sessions, Tillerson, Zinke, Mnuchin, Mulvaney, Price, and Pruitt–that you have no interest in representing Americans or America’s interests, we have opened our eyes. We are tracking your votes.  We are following the money.  We know who and what you support.  And, WE DON’T LIKE IT!

So, before you completely destroy Her sovereignty, before you totally  decimate Her beauty, before you manage to gut Her of all Her compassion and liberty and justice  WE THE PEOPLE will organize.  We will fight.  And we will win. All those calls you tried to pawn off as robots, they were an awakened electorate. So take heed–we are not going to settle down.  We are not going to compromise with the devil.  We are not going to quietly fade into the background or be intimidated by your Bully. Comparisons of Your President to Hitler aside, America is not Germany in the 1930s.  History is our ally and we can learn from the past.  You may feel giddy with power right now but your glee will not last.  Yet, our passion for what is just and what is good will!

Posted by: minnow | January 29, 2017

To My Progressive Friends

I get it; I’m mad as hell and everything in me wants to break glass. If only doing so would achieve a purpose and not simply make a mess. {sigh}

I, too, did not understand women belittling other women for marching. And when someone suggested the resources it took to pull off the January 21st Women’s March could have been better allocated, I was incensed. How dare they!  We were marching for every woman! even those who CHOSE to remain ignorant.  Just a couple days later, I heard myself lamenting the annual waste of resources by the Right to Life March and their continuous support for GOP candidates who say the right thing but who make laws and policies which burden the already burdened poor, single parents, unwed pregnant women, etc. When I heard myself doing the very thing I was so frustrated by the other side for doing I started thinking…I must find a way to connect with those who do not see what I see because until a larger portion of this nation stands up for freedom and justice for all we will be lost.  The disenfranchised, the ignorant, and even the vilified do not trust that government or even other Americans care about their pain.

I understand how difficult this sounds–they don’t want to understand–they’re burring their heads in the sand–if it isn’t hurting them, they don’t care–If they can’t see how evil this is they’re blind OR WORSE.  Educating the masses seems impossible especially when those in control are doing their best to discredit the media and blur the facts.  Taking time out to build relationships with and share our lives with people who don’t want to change seems unreasonable especially when there is so much else going on.  But we must keep trying. We must find and then build on our common values.

Believe me, you are not alone in your frustration and anger. I, too, have felt overwhelmed by the unending assaults of Trump and his minions. I have seen post after post warning about the coming days.  And, the next day it is worse than I imagined the day before. I’ve read and sympathize with the hundreds of FB posts decrying the danger and insanity of it all.  We all feel powerless at times. This is not my America.  I don’t recognize her. And, I often feel helpless to keep up with the onslaught, the attack of the values and beliefs I have held my whole life! But that’s just it–I am not ready to let go of those beliefs and values.  I am not ready to let my nation be overrun by the greedy self-interest of a few men at the top. I am angry and I will not go down without a fight.

Even though unqualified people  have been selected to run Trump’s cabinet despite the tireless efforts of people like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Saunders to expose their lack of experience, conflict of interest, and ill intentions, we cannot quit.  Even though his executive orders threaten to wreck havoc on not only the United States but the world we cannot surrender our convictions.  The moral conscious of our nation is at stake. The key is staying connected, making new connections, and celebrating every victory. At the same time, if we do not hold our outrage in check, if we give in to the temptations of petty name calling or blaming the other we risk become filled with the very thing we are struggling against–hatred and fear toward the other.

So in the spirit of celebrating our victories I want to share a recent story.  Shortly after Trump’s ban of Muslim immigrants, protesters showed up at Kennedy airport to demand the previously vetted refugees be allowed to stay. And last night (1/28), Judge Ann Donnelly blocked part of Trump’s order.  We are indeed stronger together.  Additionally, the attention brought to the President’s ban by the protestors brought to light Trump’s well documented conflict of interest. While the president has no business dealings in the seven countries he banned, he has business dealing with several countries not on the list including the EAU, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. The fact that the banned countries have not threatened the US with terrorist attacks in over 25 years where as the countries not on Trump’s list have been part of US terrorist attacks is sure to be problematic.

I know what I ask is mammoth. Building relationship with with people who do not think the way we do and not giving into the despair inherent in such efforts will take courage and determination–a strength of character which will be challenged at every turn.  But remember we stand on the right side of history and in the end it is history that will tell our story.  When my grandchildren and great grandchildren learn about this time in history I want there to be no doubt in their minds as to which side I stood.

 

Can we be honest about the presidential election a moment? And I don’t mean can we look at the facts and then look at the “alternative facts” as if “alternative facts” are equally valid or anything other than a lie. “Alternative facts are NOT valid.  They are not facts they are lies.  Facts do not come with multiple choice options.

FACT, Trump did not score an electoral landslide. His win ranked 46th out of the 56 elections listed in the electoral college records. He lost the popular vote by over 2.5 million. And NO evidence has emerged to support his claims of voter fraud despite his continuous obsession. We do however have evidence showing Russia interfered with the election, evidence FBI Director Comey sat on until his hand was forced post-election. We also know Comey made a statement that “more Clinton related e-mails” were discovered and would be investigated. Not surprisingly, his announcement damaged Clinton’s campaign and the e-mails in question were duplicates. Collusion? I hope we find out, but doubt the investigation ordered by President Obama will be continued.

PROBLEM # 1--The transition of power occurred and the powers that be, with a few notable exceptions, seem more than willing to muck around in the swamp with Trump no matter how ridiculous or dangerous he becomes.  Case in point, Monday night in a meeting with Republicans and Democrats, Trump claimed he won the popular vote had it not been for voter fraud. Tuesday, Trump’s mouthpiece to the press, Sean Spicer without any evidence repeated the claim. And when asked, Rep. King of Iowa and Senator McConnell from Kentucky, both Republicans, refused to denounce the claim, instead leaving open the idea he might have information they didn’t have.  The lone voice of reason from the GOP, Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina, suggested (much more politely of course) that Trump put up or shut up.  Perhaps in response to the Senator, but more likely because Trump hates to lose or maybe because he needed a distraction from a more sinister plan, Trump tweeted on Wednesday he would ask for a “major investigation”.

PROBLEM # 2.–The implication of the investigation is clear.  If government shows concern, even fake concern, for “fair” elections, it can more easily control who votes and who doesn’t.  Since 2006  when Indiana implemented the first voter ID laws 35 other states have followed suit.  Trump’s current whining about unverified fraud paves the way for more states to jump on the voter ID bandwagon.

But, isn’t avoiding fraud a good thing? Of course. But here’s the catch, voter ID laws only monitor in-person voter fraud which is the rarest form of fraud.  Between 2003 and 2005 only 9 people were accused nation wide of in-person voter fraud and only 5 were found guilty.  Additionally, voter ID laws are more burdensome for the poor and elderly thus suppress the vote in those demographics.  Ironically, since Trump called attention to “duel registration” as part of the problem, his daughter, Tiffany, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, were each found to be duel registered.  But remember: duel registration is not illegal–voting twice is.

PROBLEM # 3.--Trump uses tweets to obsess about seemingly silly matters.  It is a distraction technique he has mastered. And, we need to recognize it when its happening so we can look to see what else may be going on.  So, what emerged this week that hasn’t gotten as much attention?

Several executive orders have come from Trump’s desk with promises for more. Early in the week Trump put a gag order on the EPA and several other agencies.  He cut federal funding to sanctuary cities and set aside government funds to build a wall on our southern border. There was also talk of collecting a border tax to help pay for it. He reinstated the Mexico City Policy or Global Gag Rule. And, he issued a memorandum to the Commerce Secretary to review federal regulations in order to streamline and expedite manufacturing permits.  Trump put a freeze on all federal hires and asked for the resignation of nearly all the top State Department officials. He also signed an order removing all the roadblocks to the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline.  (Can you say conflict of interest). Still, the first thing he did this week was to void President Obama’s Mortgage cost reduction plan which would have helped low income and first-time home owners. His very first action was to take a direct shot at America’s working class.

PROBLEM #4–brings us somewhat full circle.  Trump and his spokesmen continue to criticize, contradict, and vilify the press.  Their behavior serves two purposes.  Operating on the theory “if you repeat a lie often enough people will believe you” the King of the Birther Movement has perfected the art of lying.  Backed by Conway, Spicer, and Bannon, Trump will continue to single out legitimate news sources, like CNN, by calling them fake news whenever they paint him in a less than flattering light or whenever they report on truths he doesn’t want covered.

Secondly, by criticizing legitimate news sources, and calling them the “opposition party”as Trump’s chief strategist did on Wednesday, Trump and his team feed distrust, confusion, and fear.  Fanning these fires got Trump elected and he’s counting on it to increase our vulnerability and his power.

But, the FREE PRESS is NOT the opposition.  Facts and information are essential to a thriving democracy.  The only need a president has for shutting down the free press is to acquire more power and hide his true agenda. When a President threatens to show his might and send federal troops into a city the day after the mayor of that city was critical of the president (like Trump did this week with Chicago) warning bells should be clanging in your ears.  Trump and his cohorts must be monitored and we need a free press willing to ask the hard questions and go after the real answers if we are going to protect our freedom and this democracy.  

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