Tag Archives: Politics

What is on my mind today? Special Prosecutor…..Damn!

 

Election 11I do believe that this whole Russian business does call for a special prosecutor.  It is time to have an adult in the room and the issue settled.  I frankly am sick of hearing about it.

That being said, the gleefulness of the mainstream media and Democrats, as they convict the president almost daily with hearsay, reminds me of a story a veteran once told me, about himself and his best buddy.

These two young men were both stationed in Germany.  They enjoyed going out and having fun.  Heavy beer drinking and obliging women filled many an evening.

As it happened, on one of these occasions, the boys drank a bit more beer than they probably should have.  As they stumbled around dead drunk in the dark, trying to flag down a cab driver, they ran right into a very old, very ugly, very large woman.

The gal, while not having been created easy on the eyes, more than made up for that deficiency by having been blessed with a kind heart and a giving nature. She immediately offered to help the uniformed lads get a ride to her home where they could spend the night.

The boys did not remember another thing from that night.  When they awoke early the next morning they were in bed together with the ugly woman laying naked between them.

As she snored away in peaceful slumber, the soldier’s friend vigorously pointed at him and mockingly mouthed, “You did her, you did her!”

Well, my veteran friend, thought for a second about the situation.  He then decided that the best way to find out the truth was to just pull back the covers and reveal what was underneath. As he lifted up the blanket on his side of the bed, it was discovered that he still had all of his clothes on.

Then, his gleeful friend very slowly peaked under his side of the blanket only to shout, “DAMN!.”

 

Election 2016: The Alamo and American Voters

Today, is a good day to reblog this post written before Trump was even the Republican nominee for president. The tone of our nation’s politics certainly did not improve after November’s election.

However, contrary to the media hype, this White House is not the Alamo. Even a politically embattled president is considered innocent until proven guilty and has the right to face their accusers.

No, this White House is not the Alamo. Nor will it be. Too, many experienced generals in the cabinet. Besides, what do Republicans really have to fear? After all, if President Trump is hounded out of office, the next three in line are also conservative Republicans.

Its always important to be careful what you wish for, especially in politics. Oh, there may be a political massacre. Who ends being massacred, is the question at hand.

For the sake of our great nation…may truth will out and justice be done.

The Swedish Farmer's Daughter

2016election

I have been reading a book about the battle of the Alamo.  It is a sad tale of a besieged and surrounded fort near San Antonio, Texas. There in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, its brave defenders all gave their lives for their state and country.

The over 160 American men, of diverse ethnicity, that held that small fort from February 23 until the final assault by Mexican troops on March 6, knew that the Mexican General Santa Anna did not take prisoners and that their time on this earth would shortly and violently be over.

There were several famous American frontiersmen, including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett who died at the battle of the Alamo.  Accounts recorded later by Mexican officers and an officer’s widow and a male black slave, the only adult lives spared, are filled with the horrors of kissing a young husband goodbye as he ran out to meet certain…

View original post 722 more words

What Is On My Mind Today? Power Without the Destruction.

st g painting
2016 Painting of St. Genevieve Church in Centerville, MN. 

For weeks and weeks I have painted and repainted the sky on the same canvas.

Whenever I start a painting I have the exact image in my mind.  I can actually see it on the white canvas. As an artist, my job is to make the image appear for others to see.

I like painting landscapes especially ones with vivid skies.  I have always had a fascination with clouds.  I remember spending many hours as a small child, resting on the lawn just watching them change shapes.  Quietly watching clouds on a calm summer’s day is a very peaceful and relaxing activity, which I highly recommend.

For me the peace of clouds disappeared in an instant when I was about eleven-years-old. Cloud watching changed forever on a stormy day while traveling in a car on Highway 12 just east of Litchfield, Minnesota.  At the precise moment we were along side a huge metal factory, a tornado dropped out of the sky and shredded the big building.  Huge pieces of metal ripped through the air and rained down all around our car.   The destructive power of that small tornado was horrible, yet so very awesome.  From that moment on, I had a very healthy appreciation for power, especially power that originates in the heavens.

After experiencing that tornado up close, instead of looking for the peace in the clouds I looked to find evidence of their power. It is exhilarating to stand in an great empty field and watch a thunderstorm explode on the western horizon and come barreling at you.

It was even more exciting to stare down a menacing mesocyclone astride my Arabian mare.  Animals are naturally much better forecaster’s of weather that humans. My mare could sense stormy weather hours before it developed.  Her restlessness and whinnying told me it was time to saddle up.  Down to the edge of farm we’d gallop and wait for nature’s big show.

Radiant white clouds billowing upwards with great speed and purpose announced that the guest we were waiting for so impatiently was on its way.  Just as the first gust of wind rushed up to make our acquaintance, I would pivot my  mare and give her, her head and we’d race the storm home.

It was all speed, wind, water and…..power. Intoxicating!

I like power.  I love the power of storms.

So, my goal for this canvas was to paint a beautiful powerful mesocyclone with all of its whirl and swirl.  No matter how many skies I painted none of them seemed to meet the vision of my mind’s eye.

Since, I don’t tend to give up, I had to just keep trying and trying to succeed.  Becoming more and more frustrated with a process that is usually as easy for me as falling off a wet horse.

Last week a very good friend of mine, who knows me extremely well, called to say hello. I told her about my canvas of perpetual repainting and how frustrated I was not being able to  produce the image I wanted.  I explained to her that my goal was to capture the winds and the beauty of a great storm, but I wanted it to be a friendly storm.

As always she listened to my concerns very carefully and then responded, “So, you want all of the power without any of the destruction.”

Yup, that would be it.

 

 

What Is On My Mind Today? Auto-correct and Too Few Dictionaries

I think that one of the major problems of auto-correct is that many folks use terms or words for which they do not know the meaning.  For example the term “rule of law”  or the words, “hate”, “fascism” or “intolerant”.

As a public service, I have provided the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions  for these terms.

Definition of rule of law


a situation in which the laws of a country are obeyed by everyone.  The courts uphold the rule of law.

Definition of hate

intense hostility and  aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury

extreme dislike or disgust :  antipathy, loathing.

Definition of fascism

a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascist) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.

Definition of intolerant

unwilling to grant equal freedom of expression especially in religious matters

unwilling to grant or share social, political, or professional rights

Using political propaganda or “spin” to advocate a policy or personal position with the intention of shaping or changing personal or public opinion has been around since the Garden of Eden.   I have sat in political meetings where the goal was to use language to confuse the voting public.  I expressly did not approve of that tactic then, nor do I now.

“Spin” terms are chosen because their connotation is perceived as more positive than the word or term being replaced.  Examples of this would be: “undocumented immigrant”  replacing the term “illegal immigrant;  “gentrification” replacing “urban renewal”; or “white privilege” replacing “white guilt”.

Some words are chosen because they are intimidating and people have a natural aversion to them.  Their calculated use is intended to bully, shame or scare. Excellent examples of this propaganda tactic would be the words fascist and hate.

The cry of fascism produces instant mental pictures of history’s most brutal tyrants. Our government is a republic with a constitution that includes checks and balances on executive power.  I have no fears of American’s ever tolerating a king. However, the use of fascist tactics to shut down opposition speech has reared its ugly head. Anyone who has or plans to shut down free speech from opposing political view points through intimidation or violence has become the monster they claim to fear.

“Hate” was chosen to replace “disagree or dislike” because of its intense intimidation  “wow” factor.  It’s overuse has numbed its sting and only succeeded in promoting greater divisiveness.  Name calling is rarely a good idea. Sugar has always been known to attract more flies than vinegar. Like the school rhyme said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

So, whether you are politically on the left or right, when on top of your loving tolerant democratic religious pedestal you use these terms to bully, condemn, confuse, shame, or scare, any reasonable person would then have to provide one further definition:

Definition of hypocrisy

a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not :  behavior that contradicts what one claims to believe or feel:  the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion

 

 

Just Saying: Soft Christians, Politicians and the Media…If they aren’t just the limit!

churchill-580x326

I have had the worst writer’s block since my Uncle Mrywin died in December.  Last week my cousin Chris Schneider sent me a few old family photos I had never seen before. I have looked and looked at them. She is right, I look very much like my grandmother when she was young.

The relationship I had with my Grandmother Esther was a very special one.  She was a special person…a soft Christian.

You may not have met many of those.  They aren’t showy and are often found in the very back pews in most churches.  They don’t attend worship services to be seen, socialize or sing. Sunday was the day God set aside for them to worship and rest.  It was a time to humbly meet with their maker in his house to repent for wrongdoings, seek forgiveness, express gratitude for blessings, partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion and assess the needs of other members of their faith family.

Soft Christians were also quiet Christians. They knew their bibles and loved their Lord, but would not dream of ever shouting out a hallelujah in public for fear of being mistaken for a biblical Pharisee. Prayer was private, on your knees and between you and God. To be moved by the Spirit meant seeing human hurt and need and doing something about it. Faith was action. They would stealthily go about life doing good whenever and wherever possible, not needing or taking credit for their good deeds.

These folks would never have stood for anyone teaching a biblical falsehood. They took very seriously God’s admonishment,”that it would be better to have a mill stone tied around your neck and be drowned that to ever teach one of his little ones to error.” While there was still right and wrong, they believed that everyone, including themselves, had fallen short in the eyes of God and had no cause to boast. The, “judge not, less you be judged” was taken every bit as seriously as the drowning thing.

Oh sure, some people would label these folks as meek pushovers. Now there would be a mistake!  Mistaking mercy for weakness is always a mistake. Soft Christians are some of the strongest people that you are ever likely to meet. During their lifetimes this imperfect world forced them down onto their knees many times.  Too broken and weak to rise again on their own, they sought strength to persevere from a loving God and felt Jesus lighten their burden. They serve God, because they know God.

The grace of God they experienced during those hard times honed their character. They are the ones who have developed the patience of a saint; learned that a kind word can turn away wrath; chosen to turn the other cheek when wronged; forgiven when it was hard and bestowed undeserving mercy.

Day after day these humble, at times invisible, folks do their best to share the love of their savior Jesus Christ with a world that rejects, mocks and tries to humiliate them and Him. Determined to set a good example, these faithful followers of Christ understand that actions speak louder than words.  It is what you do, not what you say.  True leadership is by example.

When I was writing all of those history lessons on leadership, disguised as letters to a grandson on this blog, I deliberately chose examples of good and bad leaders.  All of these men and women had great oratory and leadership skills.  However, it was not their learned leadership lessons or excellent communication skills that made them heroes or villains, it was their moral values or lack there of.  The historical record provides many examples of famous leaders whose epitaphs should read, “what goes around, comes around.”

As a child when I had been the target of someone utilizing less than moral leadership by example skills that ended in unfairness, physical or emotional hurt, my grandmother would often comfort me.  Then, under her breath she’d crossly mutter, “Well, if they aren’t just the limit!”

That is how I feel about our nation’s politicians and media.  I think they could all greatly benefit from a good old-fashioned dose of Grandma Esther’s moral lessons.

Such as:
…truth will out (liars eventually get caught)
…cheaters never prosper (be honest)
…well, if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle black (don’t be a hypocrite)
…a kind word can turn away wrath (deescalate)
…leave it go (compromise)
…turn the other cheek (refuse to sink to their level)
…forgive them (forgiveness is good for them and for you)
…move on (accepting that there are things you can change and things you cannot)
…show a little mercy once in a while (everyone makes mistakes so be kind)
…there but by the grace of God go I (have empathy)
…no good deed ever goes unpunished  (do good anyway)
…pretty is as pretty does (manners and social skills count)

Soft Christians, like my grandmother, knew that violence begets violence and hate begets more hate and that no good can ever come from that.  I cannot count the number of times I was told that two wrongs can never make a right.  It never has and it never will ….just saying.

 

 

Just saying…Just saying: A very wise tweeter…Happy Birthday President Abe!

Lincoln 1

There are two things that I bet many of my former confirmation students will never forget about me. That one of my favorite books of the Bible is the book of proverbs and that I have a thing about Abraham Lincoln.

In just two days it will be Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. In my classes and at home Lincoln’s birthday was always strictly observed each year.

There are so many reasons to admire this man.  His humble beginnings, rise to the presidency with less than a year of formal education, his ability to overcome depression and huge personal losses and still function as the leader of a nation during the Civil War, and his ability to act kindly towards others when he received so little back.   Lincoln is a remarkable example of empathy; self-determination, honesty, smarts and excellent leadership skills.  He had an unfailing belief that representative government is the best government and was also one of history’s greatest communicators.

Lincoln’s mastery of the art of storytelling is legendary. His humorous stories and one-liners were earthy, self-deprecating communication tools used to reduce complex ideas, policies and practices to their simplest form. He could then present them to a semi-literate general public in a way that they could easily identify with and understand. Lincoln was a master at using what today would be called, “common speak.” It is no accident that many of his one-liners resemble Biblical proverbs.

When you read about Lincoln the person, it becomes very evident that from a very early age he used humor to salve a sore soul. By any standard his relationship with his father was abusive.  The loss of his much loved mother at age nine was devastating.  He often said that all he was and could ever be was because of his mother. In those days death was an ever ready companion in most homes, even so, think of how hard it must have been for that softhearted, sensitive, intelligent nine-year-old boy to whittle the wooden pegs for his mother’s casket.

Lincoln never made any secret of his emotional baggage.  He called the place over his heart his “sore spot.”  Several times in life that sore spot grew until it became clinical depression so severe that his friends feared for his safety and had to remove sharp objects from his room and guard him.

While Lincoln’s intellect may have had few equals, this brilliant man over and over again left his heart wide open to being wounded by those he loved. To survive he needed to bridge this gap between heart and head sense. His coping mechanism was humor. Lincoln often said that if he did not laugh he would die.  When Lincoln’s melancholy homely face lit up and his grey eyes danced with laughter at a good story or joke, it was said that he was almost handsome. That description alone would have made the man laugh.

He often told stories that made fun of his looks. Like the one he told about when he was chopping wood and a man carrying a rifle walked up to him and demanded that Lincoln look him directly in the eye. Lincoln stopped his work and obliged the man, who continued to silently stare at him for some minutes. Finally the man told Lincoln that he “had promised himself years ago that if he ever met a man uglier than himself, he would shoot him. “Lincoln looked at the man’s rifle mischievously and said nothing. Finally Lincoln pulled open his shirt, threw out his chest, and exclaimed, ‘If I am uglier than you, go ahead and shoot—because I don’t want to live!”

mary lincoln
Mary Todd Lincoln

Lincoln had a longstanding political and personal rivalry with Senator Stephen Douglas. In fact at one time they had both dated the future Mrs. Lincoln…Mary Todd. Once while debating the good Senator, Lincoln received a great shout of laughter from the audience when he said that, “Senator Douglas arguments were as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.”

Lincoln’s “one-liners” are notorious for being succinct, wise and humorous. They were the presidential tweets of that day and are just as relevant today.

Religion:
“I can see how it might be possible for a man to look down upon the earth and be an atheist, but I cannot conceive how a man could look up into the heavens and say there is no God.”

“Surely God would not have created such a being as man, with an ability to grasp the infinite, to exist only for a day! No, no, man was made for immortality.”

“We trust, sir, that God is on our side. It is more important to know that we are on God’s side.”

“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.”

“Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.”

Attitude:
“I want it said of me by those who knew me best, that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.”

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” 

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” 

“If you look for the bad in people expecting to find it, you surely will.” 

Character:
“I desire to so conduct the affairs of the administration that if, at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall have at least one friend left — and that friend shall be down inside of me.”

“I don’t know who my grandfather was; I’m much more concerned to know who his grandson will be.”

“You have to do your own growing no matter how tall your grandfather was.” 

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”

“I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.”

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”

“I do the very best I know how – the very best I can; and I mean to keep on doing so until the end. “

Communications
“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”

“Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.” 

“Tact: the ability to describe others as they see themselves.”

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”

“How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four; calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

“He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas of any man I ever met.”

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.

Friendship:
“If you would win a man to your cause first convince him that you are his sincere friend.”

“Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” 

“A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.” 

Economics:
“I can make more generals, but horses cost money”.

Governing:
“The legitimate object of government, is to do for a community of people, whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not, so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities.”

“The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly.” 

“Force is all-conquering, but its victories are short-lived.”

“Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time.”

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.”

“Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.”

“There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.”

“The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.”

Education:
“The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” 

Freedom: 
“Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere.” 

election-7
Happy Birthday President Lincoln! You were a very wise man….just saying.

 

 

Being a Press Secretary is a tough job…just saying

pat podium
Patricia Turgeon…Press Secretary and Assistant Communications Director

I have been watching the relationship between Sean Spicer and the press with interest.  As a former press secretary to a high profile elected official, who was a polarizing political figure, I can clearly state that being a press secretary is a tough job.

I rarely talk about anything that I did while employed by either Republicans or Democrats at the Minnesota State Capitol. While watching Sean Spicer’s press briefing regarding the false report of the removal of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King bust from the oval office and the dispute regarding inauguration crowd numbers, I caught myself literally shaking my head. Boy, did that bring back memories.

I worked in communication for the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State during the Coleman-Franken and Emmer-Dayton recounts.  I was there for the marriage amendments and several election cycles.  I was the lone republican on the communication’s team in a democrat office.

Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (Democrat) best described my role and gave me one of the nicest compliments of my life all at the same time.  He and I are both avid readers of history–especially  Civil War history.  One day he heard about a Civil War tour of the Capitol and enthusiastically invited me to go with him.  Through the tunnels we raced.

The tour guide explained that during the Civil War a person had to be a certain height to enter military service. Sadly, I bemoaned that I couldn’t have served, because I was too short. Secretary Ritchie’s eyes just danced as he smiled at me from ear to ear and exclaimed, “Oh, Pat, they’d have taken you…you’re a fighter!”

I definitely presented my view on a variety of issues while working in that office.  When asked for input, I can only remember losing an argument regarding press relations once. That incident did not involve the Secretary.

A reporter had called me to ask for information.  He had been following an issue and it was his story.  I told him that the information he was seeking was not yet available.  At that second, it was a truthful answer.  No sooner had I hung up the phone, than my supervisor walked into my office with a press announcement she had drafted regarding that very decision.  I vehemently argued that the reporter should be given a call before the press announcement was released.  He deserved that and it would be the right thing to do.  I was over-ruled and with the supervisor standing over me, I sent out the press release.

Within minutes my phone rang with an very angry reporter yelling at me.  His comments were unkind, personal and very terse.  During his tirade,  I told him several times that he had every right to be upset, but he was too hot to listen. I was trying to tell him, while the supervisor was staring at me, that I agreed with him. The whole time I was being dressed down by the report, the supervisor stood in my office smirking at me.  When the phone call ended, the person said that was to bad that I got told off.

When you work for other people, are not in charge and you need that job to put your child through college, sometimes you do what you are told knowing that it is not what you would do. Nobody likes to have their personal ethics compromised to keep a job. When that happens to a press secretary, it can be in front of the whole world.

My work as a press secretary taught me several things:

1. Grow a very thick skin. Let criticism run off of your back like rainwater.  Learn to recognize the difference between the war and a fight. Take the long view to win the war and learn to just let somethings go.

2. Stay out front. Remain focused on your strategy and message.  Do not get distracted by your opponents darts and arrows.  In war and politics victory belongs to those with the best offense. Even the best defense can only end in a siege.  .

3.  Be smarter than the dog. If a dog bites you once its the dog’s fault, if the dog bites you a second time it is your fault for not being smarter than the dog.  Do not do your adversary’s work for them.  An example of this would be saying that there are different facts.  No, facts are facts. The discussion is about the accurate presentation of fact and the difference between spin (opinion) and fact.

4.  If you are going bear hunting don’t bring bird shot, come loaded for bear.  When you are going to correct anyone have the quantifiable data with you and present it in a concise, easy to understand, impossible to dispute manner.

5. Keep it positive.  I have written well over a hundred press releases and any message can be delivered using positive or negative words.  Use positive.

6. Words matter–connotation and denotation.

7.  Reporters have a job to do.  By its very nature the relationship between a press secretary and the press is going to be adversarial.  Create good working relationships, be accessible and whenever possible help them.

8. Excellence is its own reward.  It is hard to make an argument against excellence.

I have never spoken to that reporter about his call. Nor to anyone else about it. I let it go.  I did and still do wish that he would have calmed down that day and heard what I was saying to  him.  That, I fought for you, I lost, you had every right to be angry and I am sorry that you were treated that way.  That person was and still is a great reporter…just saying.