Sunday, October 4, 2015

Twitter Nation: The fatal blow to civil discourse?

Twitter is an odd place. I don't think anything of importance should be discussed in 140-character quips. (I've always held disdain for Quippers.) I think it's a wasted place for truth seekers and people who like to argue specifics. Somewhere along the way we became a sound-bite nation. Twitter Nation is much worse.

Nothing makes me wince more than hearing, "the president tweeted..." Seriously? What could sound more undignified than that? I long for the days of, "the White House has released a statement..." I guess I'm just old fashioned, or I like to wade more than ankle deep. 

I've responded to tweets about which the authors clearly knew nothing. I just want to discuss the issues. I've had many responses, but not about the subject, only barbs "informing" me that I'm stupid, uneducated, etc. One personal attack after another, some so specific I wondered why they'd bother because the odds they'd be correct were slim to none because THEY DON'T KNOW ME. 

Typical, but not exclusive to Twitter. I've had painful personal experiences when having face-to-face political discussions with people who disagree with everything I stand for. You know those people. They exhaust the talking points they've been fed, and then it's guerrilla warfare on everything about your person. 

There have been wild assumptions about my intellectual capacity, my physical health, my abilities (or lack thereof), even my sex life. This seems to happen only because, if we were politicians, there would be an (R) after my name and a (D) after theirs. It goes no deeper than that. 

I once had a response to what was a very heartfelt essay I wrote about my father-in-law's funeral, with full military honors, at Arlington National Cemetery. I wrote it to both honor him and to give the reader an eye-witness account of a uniquely American experience most will never see. Not one political statement was in it. Yet some social media geniuses responded: "Nice piece, but it would have been more meaningful if you weren't a Republican." 

Deep breath.

I've lost friends, or those I considered so, because of that (R). I've lost the common courtesy of neighbors because of the signs in my yard. Who does that?

I don't deny that conservatives sometimes originate getting-us-nowhere exchanges. (Donald Trump, are you listening?) But it seems to be a liberal gift, hewn and polished after years of indoctrination by media and education systems that deliberately discourage discourse and encourage skim-the-surface liberalism. Twitter, I believe, was inevitably conceived from this way of thinking. Its products of conception are too shallow to quench anyone's thirst, unless you thirst to belittle others. Things are seldom learned there. Ideas remain unchanged. Users tweet to the choir and bully those in the band. 

I have a few lovely liberal friends who don't hate me for what I stand for, and I feel the same about them. We love each other because of shared experiences and so much more and, frankly, an explicit agreement to never let our politics get in the way of our relationships. We discuss this openly, and we mean it when we say it.

I don't think we have to be the exception. I've seen a marriage of more than 70 years last between a liberal and a conservative. They'd joke that when they went to the polls, they cancelled out each other's votes. This isn't the only such marriage I've seen.

So some of us are capable of much more than just peaceful coexistence. Most want to beat others over the head, and organisms like Twitter would die without them. I would not mourn. 

As the great Joan Rivers used to say, "Can we talk?" I think the answer is:  maybe. We're becoming a nation of bullies and bullshitters cloaked in the the anonymity Twitter provides. That's not talking. We may be a Twitter Nation, but it's not a Twitter Universe--yet. Discourse doesn't have to die, but only if we wish to resuscitate it. I'm hearing whispers of those who wish to truly discuss the hard stuff, but it's not really happening.

I don't want to declare the Death of Discourse. Yes, I'm enough of a hard-ass to truly believe the "low-information voter" will ruin the world. Yet, I'm an inherently nice person, and I like other people, even if they voted for Obama. Maybe I'm just some naïve "Minnesota Nicer" who wants to believe people can learn from one another, and that black and white aren't the only colors.

Twitter isn't the place for me. I'll visit occasionally, but I won't live there. I'll leave that to those who love to listen to the endless echos of their own tweets.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Cast of "The View" need to be educated about women's issues

On September 10, "The View" made headlines for their hard-hitting phone interview with Donald Trump. After carefully considering the consequences, I'm not a Trump supporter, and I'm glad they were asking tough questions. During the interview, Whoopi told Trump, "'ve got to get a little bit more informed on what's going on with women's issues."

Yesterday, the ladies proved they could use some education as well.

Whoopi went on a tirade that reveals what she really believes Planned Parenthood does and how the possible loss of federal money that "isn't being used for abortions" (which she incorrectly says has been defunded--it hasn't, the house just voted to do it), could be catastrophic for women (her rant starts at 19:30):

Oh, where to begin. There are so many things to correct here. First, since Whoopi brought it up, let's remember why Planned Parenthood really came into being: (Please click on the quote to read about Margaret Sanger's real reasons, in her own words, for founding Planned Parenthood. I think it's especially important to view the video at the bottom of the page, which shows her racist agenda lives on.)

"We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population." - Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, 1939

It seems Planned Parenthood wasn't formed at all because people were sick of "tripping over women with hangers hanging out of their bodies" so much as its founder was sick of tripping over people of color, an attitude that seems to exist within the organization today. Want to keep defending it, ladies?

During the Trump interview on September 10, Joy schooled Trump about Planned Parenthood, saying "Planned Parenthood does abortions for three percent of the people that come to them. The rest is women's health. The three percent is not federally funded, so nobody's tax money is being used for abortions..."

If that's true, then why did Whoopi launch into a diatribe about how defunding Planned Parenthood will make women be unable to get abortions? She argues that defunding Planned Parenthood is taking away women's rights to abortion, adding "that's not how our government works."

If I must Dick-and-Jane it to people who don't understand, I will:  If federal money doesn't go toward abortions at Planned Parenthood, then defunding them shouldn't have any effect on a woman's ability to get one.

I've watched the show since the day it debuted. It was good to have women talking about important, fun, interesting topics. It's had many incarnations since--some good, some bad. But it's hit a new low. "The View" is now a bunch of ill-informed women with the same view who squash any opinions from the token "conservative," should she be allowed to speak. I don't remember that being Barbara Walters' vision, do you?

It wouldn't bother me except for the fact that the show has millions of viewers believing the outright lies and ignorant utterings they spew daily, which could very well influence the upcoming election.

They've lost an astounding number of sponsors in just the first two weeks of the new season because of their frivolity and ignorance of serious subject matter. It seems #DefundPlannedParenthood has a new buddy:  #DefundTheView.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Planned Parenthood's biggest lie sullies two major ABC events in one week

Planned Parenthood, ABC, and its parent company, Disney, must be so proud. First the lie was parroted and told several times on the season 19 premiere week of ABC's "The View," and once by a U.S. Senator! Then, during an unusually-but-refreshingly-brutal on-stage question portion of the Miss America Pageant, it was told again. Has Planned Parenthood's biggest lie become the truth?

No, because the facts have not changed. Yes, because people perceive it to be absolute truth. In this case, perception trumps facts because not only does this lie help form people's opinions about what Planned Parenthood really does, the lie has and will continue to affect public policy.

The lie? Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. Every time you hear the word "mammogram" come out of the mouth of anyone speaking about how Planned Parenthood provides health care for women, it's a lie. It just is. Even if Senator Elizabeth Warren says it on "The View."

(The lie is at about 28 seconds into the video.)

Now Planned Parenthood's lie has reached the Miss America stage. As a long-time former volunteer with the Miss America Organization at the state and local levels, it breaks my heart that they became involved in the lie. Here it is, from the 2016 Miss America Pageant on ABC Sunday night:

(It begins at about 2:22 into the in the video.)

Miss Tennessee parrots the lie that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms. Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms.

I sought out a mammogram at every Planned Parenthood facility in my home state. I couldn't get one because they don't provide mammograms. They provide "mammogram referral," but not one single mammogram can be performed at a Planned Parenthood facility in my state, or in any state for that matter, because there is not one mammogram machine in any Planned Parenthood facility.

Any woman could get a mammogram referral from any medical clinic, hospital, internet search, or government agency. Planned Parenthood isn't needed for this.

Pro-life activist for Live Action, Lila Rose, took it many steps further. She attempted to get a mammogram at Planned Parenthood clinics across the United States. She couldn't get one. Why? Because Planned Parenthood doesn't do mammograms.

This lie has been deliberately being spread for a very long time, and it's been exposed by several individuals and organizations. Even the breast cancer advocacy group, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, cut off their annual grant to Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms. Nancy Brinker, founder and then CEO of Komen said, "Wherever possible, we want to grant to the provider that is actually providing the lifesaving mammogram." Three days later the Foundation was bullied into reversing its decision by Planned Parenthood and its supporters. Nancy Brinker, who founded  Komen in honor of her sister who died of breast cancer, stepped down from her position. Komen has never recovered from the controversy. Planned Parenthood sent a very strong message: Don't mess with us, or we will take you down. Even if you are a breast cancer charity giving us money for mammograms we don't ever perform.

Planned Parenthood has used the media and its "useful idiots" well. It has used pro-choice women to spread its lies because they won't be questioned. My question is:  if they will lie repeatedly to every media outlet imaginable, why should we believe anything else they say?

We shouldn't. I'll be writing a lot more about Planned Parenthood here. If you are pro-life and haven't seen the videos being released by the Center for Medical Progress, I urge you. If you are pro-choice, I dare you.

So they lie about women's health care. They laugh about sending the heads of decapitated babies through the mail and eat salad and drink wine while talking about how to adjust an abortion procedure on a "17-weeker" to get the best organs to sell. (Is it in a woman's best interest to adjust the procedure? Will it help preserve her future fertility, or put it at risk? Do the abortionists give a damn? Do they adjust the abortion procedure for the sake of  "women's healthcare?")

You may have noticed a mantra of sorts throughout this article:  Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms. Every time you hear someone say they do, it's a lie. If you're pro-life, please begin to shout it from the rooftops. If anyone says it, simply say, "Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms." That's it. You don't have to argue it. Just keep repeating it, because it's the truth.

If you hear it on T.V., post on the show's website or Facebook page that Planned Parenthood doesn't provide mammograms. Then tweet it.

If you're pro-choice, please do this:   Realize that this organization has lied to you. It's lied to millions of women, media, senators, members of congress and more. They are liars. Do you care? Does it bother you that they lie and count on you to perpetuate that lie, gambling on the fact that you don't know it's not true? Is it a problem for you that they will lie about this to get at your tax dollars?

If you are Planned Parenthood fans, those who I wish, in the words of Joy Behar, "...would just get this through their heads," this is for you:

Do you wonder what else Planned Parenthood is lying about? I'll tackle that next time. Hint:  it's not abortion.

Monday, July 20, 2015

New FNR Blog Coming Soon!!!

My retooled Friendly Neighborhood Republican blog is under construction at this time. In the meantime, archived articles can be easily accessed here. I'm hoping to have it up ASAP, but I can't promise when. I'll put out a mass message when the new, improved FNR is up. Thanks for all of your support. It means everything.

Monday, May 25, 2015


This is a repost of the article I wrote on the Fourth of July some time ago about my father-in-law's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. I thought it an even more appropriate post for today. Remember a Vet; or better yet, thank one today.  -- FNR

It's been exactly one month to the day since our family traveled to Arlington, Virginia, to inter the ashes of my father-in-law, John Kelley, at Arlington National Cemetery.

John was Captain of all the Marines on the U.S.S Missouri in the Pacific Theater of WWII. He was in Tokyo Harbor when the peace treaty was signed by the Japanese on the deck of the Missouri, though he was on land that day securing the harbor and missed the ceremony. After the war, he moved his wife and daughter to Minnesota and began working in the family insurance business.

John and his wife had the awful, horrible misfortune of losing three of their daughters, all at separate times. The first daughter died while John was serving active duty, and she was buried at Arlington. The other two are buried there as well. We went to bring John's remains to rest next to his three daughters.

I'm writing about this on the Fourth of July because a funeral with full military honors conducted at Arlington National Cemetery is truly a thing to behold, a true testament to love of our country and the honor it is to serve her. This is the day we celebrate our Independence, and without people like John Kelley, we might not be celebrating at all. When one is at Arlington and beholds the vista of grave after grave covering rolling green hills as far as the eye can see, it drives home the enormity of the sacrifice our service men and women have given and the insoluble link between what they gave and the freedom we enjoy today in the United States of America.

There was a very large turnout for John's interment. Many of us came from Minnesota, and there was a large contingent of east-coast relatives. A granddaughter and her boyfriend came from Thailand for the service. A grandson came from Colorado with his wife and new daughter, born two days before John passed away.

On the day of the interment, we all gathered in a meeting room in a large marble-floored building to mingle with one another and talk about John. His widow was taken to another room to meet with the officiant for the service. On the tables peppered throughout the family reception room were photo albums of the cemetery--a view of things that would take hours to see in person.

Then we gathered for the procession to the grave site. We were in ours cars and drove up behind a horse-drawn caisson carrying a coffin draped in the U.S. flag with with a number of Honor Guard servicemen. Two of the Honor Guard, with precision and care that one would use if he were carrying a box containing the most important substance on earth, transferred the box of John's ashes to the larger flag-draped coffin being carried by the caisson. There was a small door in the back of the coffin, which they opened to place John's ashes inside.

This was when one of the most moving things occurred, at least in my opinion. From our car, we could see that as we drove through the winding roads to the grave site, there were people obviously dressed as tourists who stopped, stood at attention, took off their hats if they had them, and put their hands over their hearts. They had no idea who John Kelley was, but they gave him the respect he deserved because they knew by the trappings of the service that John had served his country. In what capacity these tourists didn't know, but they honored him anyway. I found that touching beyond words, and I'll always remember looking out of my backseat window and seeing these people stopped and standing at attention in respect for John. It gave me hope for America's future to see these civilians being so respectful. To be honest, the entire service gave me hope.

The grave site is also the grave site of John's three daughters. Their headstones were there. I had never seen them before; my son, on a choir trip to D.C., had very kindly been allowed to find his aunts' graves, on which he placed a guitar pick to let them know he had been there.

We gathered around the grave site, and there were about 15 chairs in three rows. The widow, John's brother and some of John's children sat in the front row, and I sat in the second row because of my walking and standing difficulties. Everyone else stood behind and around the chairs.

The service was officiated by a military pastor dressed in white. He was perfect in content and tone, and made us all feel proud of the man we called father, husband, grandfather, brother, and great-grandfather. We prayed and sang "Amazing Grace." Then came the military rituals.

I don't recall in which order they were done, but I do recall every one of them very well. The 21-gun salute, with gun shots so loud it was kind of startling. I've never been around guns much in my life, and I was surprised at how loud they are in person. The servicemen with the guns were somewhat away from us, on a gradually sloping hill. Then there was "Taps." If you can go to a military funeral without crying, you will only make it until "Taps." The trumpet, played by a serviceman on another hill, was so haunting and quiet and alone. It is the military equivalent of bagpipes at an Irish funeral. It's impossible to have a dry eye.

Then came two parts I will never forget. The folding of the flag, during which six Honor Guard officers meticulously, with every move practiced to a science, folded the flag that had draped John's casket, into a perfect triangle. I cannot explain how regimented and controlled their movements were as they folded the flag with the utmost care. A neighbor sent me an e-mail the other day containing the meaning behind the 13 traditional folds made in the American flag. I think it is important for us to know that every fold can have deep meaning. I urge you to take a moment to look at this link to help you understand that, though there are no "official" flag-folding symbols, everything done at this kind of military funeral has meaning behind it.

Then, one of the Honor Guard took the flag, got down on one knee in front of John's widow, and presented it to her. He removed his pristine white glove and shook her hand, and told her how it represents the country's thanks for his service. Another Honor Guard member approached her, got down on one knee and presented her with a pouch containing the spent shells from the gun salute. He removed his white glove and shook her hand. Then came the last Honor Guard member, who got down on his knee, removed his glove, and took her hand while he thanked her for her service to our country, by being a military wife and raising children alone for a while (John didn't see his daughter, Tina, until she was six months old) and all the other sacrifices a military wife makes.

What struck me most about these three young men--beautiful in their military dress uniforms, with rows of medals across their chests--was their eyes. I was sitting directly behind John's widow, so I saw how each man looked into her eyes as he spoke to her. Sincerity and reverence were just glowing from their eyes as they spoke to her, and I truly believed that it was an honor for them to be participating in the interment of the remains of a WWII Marine Captain. Sadly, we are losing our WWII heroes at a very fast pace now. The "greatest generation" is dwindling.

I came away from the service with this thought: Sometimes it seems, especially as a conservative blogger and columnist, that the country is extremely divided, and it is in danger of being lost. While those things still exist and are absolutely true, being at the service made me also believe we are still a great country, and there is still respect, honor and sacrifice going on for her sake. We are still steeped in tradition, ritual and reverence in honor of those who fought for liberty.

My daughter commented that it was awe inspiring to see so many grave stones of the people who were lost fighting for our liberty. I told her this: They were not lost. Their lives were given. For the most part, these fighting men and women give their lives--they don't lose them--for freedom. It is a gift they have given to our country, the ultimate sacrifice.

And they are not lost today. We carry these individuals in our hearts and our memories, and they will live on forever; in John's case, as a member of America's greatest generation. He will never be forgotten.