PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Rules Of Engagement

As a blogger and Facebook presence, I use my forum to give my opinions but have always steered away from engaging in debate with others online, especially people I don’t know … until now.

Perhaps it is because my posts and blogs are shared a lot and I get tagged in them, but in the past week, I have been trolled by more than a few people, spouting inaccuracies, and I am no longer holding my powder.

Not because it is me they are attacking. I’m an old hand at being attacked. But because they are defending a policy that I believe is morally bereft and indefensible.

I want to actively engage with people who are supporting what I believe is an evil policy of our U.S. government, challenging false statements and forcing them to think about the morality of what they are supporting. But I want to do so in a way that honors my values.

After talking to a few people about it, I thought it might be helpful to share my rules of engagement.

1. If possible, have face-to-face or one-on-one discussions with people you know. It promotes relationship and is the best way to change hearts and minds. But it is OK to confront hatred, ignorance or meanness. Sometimes we can’t leave it unchallenged or unchecked.

2. Treat others the way you want to be treated, whether in the cyber world or the real world. The view from the high road is always better.

3. Facts matter. Be relentless in relying on them, share them freely and if you make a mistake, acknowledge it and correct it. I posted an inaccurate picture, was called out on it, apologized and corrected it. And then posted accurate photos. It reminded me to check and double-check because inaccurate information provides fodder to deny accurate information.

But remember, just because someone says something often enough doesn’t make it so. Lies are lies.

And we cannot “agree to disagree” when what the other person believes is wrong. (I, for example, will not agree to disagree that the world is flat or that this current crisis can only be solved by Congress. The administration can do it with a phone call and refuses.)

4. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” I serve a Lord who is merciful, compassionate and always sides with the oppressed. I don’t assume everyone shares my faith, but I will boldly proclaim that I make my choices guided by my understanding of God and am not afraid of confronting those who claim the name of Christ with the words, “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me and whatever you do not do to the least of these you do not do to me.” There are some things worth fighting for, and this is one of them in which Jesus picked a side. If that makes others squirm, so be it. I stand with Jesus.

4 Jesus was a criminal. So was the Apostle Paul. Committing a crime is not an excuse for cruelty. “Remember those who are in prison as though you were in prison in with them; those who are tortured as though you are being tortured.” — Hebrews13: 3

5. Ask questions and tell stories. It promotes dialogue. Share why you feel this is wrong and tell your own story. I go to refugee camps. I’ve seen and heard firsthand what people experience. Tell your story and why you care. Don’t let people reduce you to a trope or caricature.

6. Kindness is a virtue. Selfishness is not.

7. Silence is complicity.

TOM DAVIES: The Verdict — We’re On The Path To Isolationism

Webster defines isolationism as “a policy of national isolation by abstention from alliances and other international political and economic relation.” This definition may be rather limited, but it describes what is happening in this country right now.

Webster also defines a dictator as “a person granted absolute emergency power … one holding complete autocratic control: a person with unlimited governmental power.”

Here’s the question: Can one assume all of the power and policies described in the preceding paragraphs here in the United States of America?

A sincere attempt appears to be in process in this country in the form of Donald J. Trump. Meanwhile, the Congress of the United States is complicit in rubberstamping his actions without question.

In simple terms, we now for all practical purposes have only two branches of government — the judiciary and the presidency. The legislative branch has surrendered its authority to the president.

When President Trump attends the G-7 meeting with our allies, the first thing he does is demand that Russia be readmitted. Russia, of course, was kicked out of what was then called the G-8 because of its military incursions into Ukrainian territory after the fall of the Russian puppet who had been installed as its president. A Russian missile has been determined to be the cause of the destruction of a fully occupied civilian airliner. Those incidents, and more, caused our allies to kick them out of the G-8 in 2014.

Trump has also created his own set of numbers. He rates the meeting with the G-7 a “10,” which in our world would mean it was great. Unfortunately, we now know the truth. It was a 10, all right, but out of 100 … and that was no compliment to Trump.

The president has turned lying into an art form. After praising the G-7 allies, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to their faces, he boarded Air Force One and instantly became braver, trashing Trudeau on Twitter. The next day, one of the men in Trump’s echo chamber doubled down, saying “there is a special place in hell” for Trudeau. Shortly thereafter, he had a heart attack.

What was it that got Donald so upset? Prime Minister Trudeau calmly and professionally said that Canadians are good people but aren’t about to be bullied by anyone. Of course, our Bully in Chief couldn’t let that pass, so he attacked him and his country.

Perhaps our president has forgotten (or more probably has never known) that right now Canadian forces are working side by side with our military in foreign wars.

Google that photo of the two men side by side at the G-7 meeting. Note the difference in stature. It looks like Trump forgot to exercise and Trudeau has no such problem. It’s like a “before,” long before, picture alone with a “long after.”

Not having insulted all of our allies enough at the G-7, the president made up for lost ground afterward by visiting one of the world’s most dangerous dictators, Kim Jong Un of North Korea. He glad-handed Kim, said he was honored by the presence of North Korea’s answer to Putin and proceeded to make who-knows-what promises, among them canceling scheduled war games without consulting South Korea, whose leaders had no idea to do this, along with Japan and Australia.

This man we call president met privately with the enemy without any diplomatic experts in the room with him. He expects us to trust he knew what he was doing.

In his private life, Trump used to do the same thing with his contractors and suppliers. They relied on his word — and they paid a sad price to find out his word was worth nothing. Hundreds of lawsuits continue today.

I know one thing for certain: We should not have to wait for the next election to demand our legislators to do their jobs. They must honor their oath of office and protect the citizens who they represent.

President Trump withdrew from the detailed nuclear program with Iran. It was far from perfect, but the net result was a nuclear-free Iran with provisions for onsite inspections. But President Obama presided over that agreement, so on that basis alone, Trump trashed it.

If only one of his advisers would convince Trump that Hillary Clinton is not the president (although she trashed him in the popular vote) and President Obama has retired! Then perhaps he could stop fixating on them. Amen.