Friday, May 12, 2017

Their Eyes Remain the Guiding Star of My Conscience

By Faith Chatham -  May 7, 2017

It amazes me how my thoughts parallel those of others without collaboration. I went on a twitter storm day before yesterday on immigration and other things. Then my sister in San Antonio sent me an exquisitely expressive poem she wrote about a mother crossing the border with her child strapped to her back. It is a very sad and vibrant word picture. It won't be shared *yet" online yet because it is an unpublished work and most publishers require that it be submitted before publication and they consider even posting on Facebook or small blogs publication. However, it expresses what I was feeling. She also included a poem about a relief worker in Honduras who did not save for her retirement. Both hit "close to home" for me.
Many people went to Honduras following Hurricane Mitch and we had our perceptions and hearts transformed. Those who cross the US border are usually fleeing from the crime and terror and abject poverty/ They are not faceless to those of us who were on the ground several decades ago. The crime was enormous then and it is many times greater now. We were not allowed out after dark for any reason whatsoever and every time we left the cathedral compound the Bishop sent us out with an armed guard. This was a shock to our north American sensibilities. Seeing an armed guard with a machine gun at the entrance of the cathedral was quite different to us. Yet the school, clinic and relief supplies within the compound made it a target.
During that time, donors sent several new automobiles to missionaries in Honduras. Every auto was hijacked at gun point within a few weeks of its arrival. The military government (responsible for those many "disappeared persons" during the Reagan administration} had just been overthrown when Hurricane Mitch (a series of hurricanes which stayed stationary over Honduras for over a week dumping massive rains at the same time as an earthquake) occurred, devastating the entire country. Because the government was so corrupt, and the country was in such need, NGOs and religious institutions became the conduits for relief and development during that post Hurricane Mitch recovery period instead of the government.
My memories of the mega shelters are acute. They were military tents with concrete floors. Each family had about an 8-square foot section of living space with a light bulb hanging from the ceiling. The cooking was in the aisle outside the tent by kerosene camp stoves and the sinks were tubs with a water hose. There were no locking doors on those tents in this country so terrorized by the former military who now operated as criminal banditos. These families lived for extended times in tents in a country where the Bishop required everyone who served to stay in the hotel or cathedral or at home after dark and to travel with armed guards! The children in those mega shelters grew up in tents which did not have locking doors. Most families were in the mega shelters for 9 to 28 months. San Pedro Sula is high in the hills and it is cold there much of the year.

The Episcopal Church and other folks acquired land (a rare commodity in that international fruit company controlled country) and built houses. Because all a man had to do to divorce his wife was to kick her and the children out of the house, the Episcopal Bishop placed the titles to the homes they built into the name of the wife so that if the man chose to leave, the family could retain the home! However, being legally the owner does not solve the problem of being able to retain the home if the husband is abusive and there are no authorities to enforce the law. 

When we had an influx of children crossing the Rio Grande a few years ago from Honduras it struck me that the parents of these children were the children who were in the Mega Shelters following Hurricane Mitch. Those children woke up one day and every one of them lost people who were close to them -- either parents, friends, teachers, neighbors, school mates, grandparents, siblings. Over 11,000 people died that week in Honduras. Small children were uprooted from their homes and families and displaced. The Government was unable to process paperwork or police the communities or jail criminals to a sufficient degree to establish order. Crime and gangs were already high and escalated following Hurricane Mitch. Women and children were the most vulnerable people in that society They had no rights. Rape was /is common. 

Murder is normal. Running for your life becomes the sane choice. Once North, they are viewed as economic illegal aliens instead of assault victims fleeing for their lives. If American foreign policy had not played such a key role in destabilizing Central America in our Cold War Communist/ Capitalist era struggle, the plight of these generations of Central Americans would not be as acute. We do not like having the fruits of our sins arrive on our shores. We want to ignore our roles in creating and sustaining the terror that these women and children and young men are subjected to. We choose to label them criminals for coming here or sending their children here so that they have a better chance of surviving. This is what it is about when folks say they come for a better life. Usually it means that they are coming to try to survive period fleeing a place where the realities of being beaten by terrorists with machetes is normal. 

I supported Hillary Clinton because I trusted her to work for solutions to help those who remained in such countries and for those who fled to our shores. I don't think that when our ancestors arrive here is nearly as important as the fact that people are human beings and we are all deserving of the opportunity to expect to survive each day and find a way to eat and work and care for our children and learn and be human. If we weighed the cost of terror as highly as we value economic selfishness our world would heal. I still see the eyes of the children I met in Honduras. They are part of the north star of conscience which guides me.

NOTE: Hurricane Mitch hit Oct. 22, 1998. Any US immigrant from Honduras born between 1978 and 1998 were children when it hit. Those born after 1998 in Honduras have never known a stable community where the streets and homes are reasonably safe. It was the most-deadly hurricane to hit the Western Hemisphere in over 200 years Over 11,000 persons died in a small Central American country and there was over $5 Billion in economic loss in a country where most of the wealth was held by absentee landowners and a very few resident elites. 

© 2017 J Chatham, Arlington, TX 

Slavery 2017

By Faith Chatham - May 12, 2017
The number of human beings held in slavery in the world today exceeds the total during the mid 1800s. They have an active public slave market in Libya. Most of us are aware of immigrants who are captured and sold by coyotes and of Eastern European women and African women and Asian women caught up in sex trafficking. Yet most of us do not think this will touch our families. I don't think we can afford to be very confident about that. A dear friend of mine who was a high profile political candidate had her grandson held as a slave on a Mexican ranch for nearly a year a couple of years ago. This young man had crossed the border into Baja to assist friend who sent him an SOS saying he'd had his money pick=pocketed. However, you don't have to cross the border to be caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I understand how horrific our nation's past is in regard to slavery. However, I think we should focus on stopping the slave trafficking that is currently entrapping people right now. There is no way to absolve ourselves from the failures of our forefathers. We can, however, do something about how we live now and what we do to ensure that others are treated fairly.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

1 Skillet Fast Food

By Faith Chatham - March 16, 2017

1 15oz can chili with or without beans

1 cup hashbrown shredded frozen or fresh potatoes

olive oil

salt to taste

Spash olive oil in skillet and cover surface

cook hashbrowns until lightly brown

salt hasbrowns

Add Chili and stir.

Cook until chili is warm.

Can be served from skillet.

Monday, March 06, 2017

All Politics Is Local: Arlington, TX 2017 Local Ballot

By Faith Chatham - March 6, 2017

All politics is local. Arlington is one of the largest cities in Texas and it has a 100% GOP controlled City Council. Even though City Council Seats are 'non partisan', the party affiliation of candidates and incumbents is usually known by citizens. Here is the list of people who have filed for City Council and AISD seats. There are several candidates this year for the District 3 Seat being vacated by Roberto Riveria.

Marvin Sutton is a long time Democratic activist who is running for an open seat on the City Council. Sutton is a Veteran and Air Traffic Controller. (Federal Employees are restricted from running for partisan offices but can serve in non partisan city council and school board seats.) Sutton would be a good addition to the City Council. He has served on numerous city committees including organizing Neighborhood Night Out events in his community. Transportation and Public Safety are some of Sutton's priorities. He is currently the Democratic Senate District Committee Man for SD 22 and previously served in that capacity in SD9. Sutton has consistently served the Arlington community in party and civic capacities for more than 2 decades.

Another candidate seeking that same vacant seat is Berim Elmaz, a PhD candidate at SMU. Elmaz has served in various capacities with the city and NCTCOG.

The only woman in the District 3 race is IT specialist Roxanne Thalman. Her list of volunteerism includes the 4th of July Committee.

Aircraft cabinmaker Pablo R. Frias is also on the District 3 ballot and advocates for a "small government approach."

Most of the candidates for District 3 have all served in variousl capacities on numerous city committees. It is encouraging to see a slate of candidates emerge who have the depth of experience that many of them exhibit in civic and governmental committees.

In District 4 Incumbent council woman Kathryn Wilemon is challenged by Libertarian Activist Theresa Rushing. In District 5 Dakota Loupe, a UTA Student,and Matthew Powers, a consultant, are challenging Councilwoman Llana Wolff.

Mayor Jeff Williams is being challenged by Chris Dobson. Dobson has run for various council seats during most elections for the past decade.

Social Media Networks

Faith Chatham March 6, 2017

This year Americans have shifted into a higher octane of informative activism. Utilizion of social media links persons with shared values and concerns who are geographically spread too far away to meet face-to-face. Once we have been in social media networks, encountering each other in person is a real treat.

In past election cycles, I blogged heavily. Now I have little time for blogging but utilizion of social media networks continues to enable me to reach out effectively through sharing articles and videos which inform, inspire, teach or commment.

Sharing a few articles or posts by others on Twitter sometimes generates over a thousand reactions from followers and numerous retweets by followers who have several thousand followers in their networks. On Facebook when we accept friends selectively, buildng networks close to the 5000 FB limit, a few minutes posting, sharing or commenting (reacting) to substantive posts by others can generate responses from thousands of other users in a few minutes.

Our news feeds alert us to articles and events we might otherwise miss. We are able to share constructive informative articles from many valid reputable sources. We need to be discerning and try to share only reputable sources. Usually, when something that is flimsy slips through others in the network will comment and let us know. Thanks to my nearly 5000 progressive friends on Facebook, I am more informed and receive information more quickly than any time in my life. For years I subscribed and consumed 5 newspapers daily and a stack of magazines. Now I get most of my news digitally and feel that I am better informed.

Facebook also allows people with shared interest /values to group virtually in private or in public. The ablility to set privacy settings and establish group guidelines enables organizing for groups. It also helps gruup moderators exclude trolls.

Sharing links on Twitter and utilizing the @ or # options enables us to alert others instantly and attach link to stories, articles, videos or photographs. Sharing one post to a group of a few hundred followers may reach out to thousands of their followers and then on to thousands of their followers followers. When we share content which informs and appeals to others, frequently we gain followers with little effort. People seem to be as attracted to the quality of the content on a person's newsfeed as they are to our actually original tweets or posts. Most of my friends this year use their facebook wall for activism. Do we like most of what we read? Absolutely not! However, we learn what is going on so that we can resist more effectively. We learn more so that when we write or speak or communicate we have the background necessary to speak intelligently. We are able to learn more so that when we are assaulted with lies across the back fence or by neighbors or relatives, we can refute the lies and correct those who are innocently mistaken.

Our nation was founded on the premise of participation by an informed citzentry. As we grew in population, that person on person knowledge diminished. Through social media networks of dedicated Americans linking together to learn, share, understand, and resist, we are again getting closer to the premise our founding fathers assumed would exist before people voted or served in elective office. This year for the first time in decades many Americans are showing up and holding elected officials accountable.

Net Neutrality is on the chopping block by Congress. We need to invest in the infrastructure of the internet. The World Wide Web is not a new technology and the number of users has escalated. Finding a way to finance necessary infrastructure upgrades is important without creating faster tracks for specific interest at the expense of other users.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Comfort Food - No Prep Cherry Pie

By Faith Chatham - Feb. 18, 2017

One piece of pie crust
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
3/4 to 1 cup of frozen organic sweet cherries

Heat oven to 350'
Spread pie crust over half of baking dish or pan
Pour cheeries (do not have to thaw) into the center of the half of the pie crust.
Cut the butter into pieces and scatter into the cherry mixture
Cover with the brown sugar
Fold over the other half of the pie crust and crimp
Place in oven and bake at 350" until crust is golden.
Will serve 2

Friday, February 03, 2017

The Awakening

By Faith Chatham Feb. 3, 2017

I get from 45 to 60 friend request daily. Most are from folks all across America who realize that we must be vigilant in fighting together to preserve what we hold dear and to improve what we need to change. This network is comprised of folks who are dedicated to good government, not anarchy. Each time I get a request i visit the wall of the person. I regret that I do not have space to accept more request, but am honored by those who extend the invitation. I am amazed at the people who are on this list. As I see the lives and passions and activism and compassion and determination which is reflected on the walls of people in this social media network I am humbled, encouraged, and thankful.

I have been involved in political and civic activism for decades. However, the network has grown and become many times stronger following the beak night in November when many of us stood stunned realizing how totally screwed we are as a people and a nation. Those of us who already had rather large social media networks of progressives from having key roles in campaigns, found that our networks became more focused, larger, stronger.

For every person who left. many more came. People who previously had been voters but not activist, stepped forward and begain organizing and marching and writing and supporting and emailing. This time instead of encouraging folks to get involved, people were propelled from inside their hearts to stand up for others and to fight for what we typically take for granted in this country. I have heard from many others whose experience since November is similar to mine. Yes, we grieve. Yes we fear. Yes many of us struggle with depression these days. Yes, we are frustrated and angry at those who excuse the unexcusable and refuse to take off the blinders and realize that they have been hoodwinked, that their candidate is no benevolent Messiah to rescue Conservatism from the godless liberals. I am especially frustrated at friends who quote scripture to justify their belief in the current Administration. That being said, overall, I see a health in our nation emerging like shoots coming up in the Spring after a very long, cold apathy.

For decades most elections have been determined by voter turnouts ranging from less than 1% to 25%. I think if the Presidential election were held today we would probably have in excess of 75% voter turnout. America is discovering who and what we are. Usually we have to be away from our country to realize what is unique and special about this land, its constitution and her people. I know in my own life, I never fully realized what we have until I studied abroad during the Cold War. I returned and removed the "Independent" label from my forehead and decided which party best expresses my world view. I knew that neither would mirror all of my hopes, desires and opinions. I had to choose which one more frequently paddled our nation in a direction which I believe improves the lives of the most people and honors the values which are important to us. I do not regret my decision to align myself more closely with the Democratic Party. Do I think it is perfect? Definitely not! Do I see areas which need lots of work? Absolutely? Is every position on each of the party's platforms things that I feel passionate about or enthusiastically support? No However, most are. There are always several which are key and which I cannot help but fight to forward, get passed or communicate the importance of to others.

When I review the impact we have as a community, even when we lose the election or fail to control the state legislature or win statewide offices, I know that our efforts are definitely worth the fight.

This year in 2016. we got more people to the polls than any other party yet we did not gain the White House. By failing to support challengers in GOP controlled Congressional districts for decades, we no longer have a majority in either the US House or Senate. Right now it is sinking in to many folks exactly what that means in life and death consequences. America has at last begun to wake up. The sprouts are coming up out of the frozen tundra of indifference. We are filling the streets, not because folks are telling us we should, but because we know that our life and idenity as a nation is on the line.

I am so proud of my neighbors who have filled the international terminal at DFW airport in solidarity with strangers who are being discriminated against by the Trump administration. I am so thankful that this is not just a local phenomena but is occurring in airport terminals across the nation. I am so thankful for each of several milllion people who marched the Saturday after the Inauguration. This is not just an American show of solidarity for values which are associated with America, but is occurring around the world. I am thankful for the Scientist who are moving from behind their books and microscopes into the streets and for the actors and filmwriters and talk show hosts and comedians and musicians who are speaking out for humanity, ethics, fairness and decency.

Each of us are only one small part of a very much bigger, stronger more vibrant whole. We are using our Social Media networks to learn share information, process the noise from the more pressing priorities and to vent. Thank you. Welcome. This is a very different time we are in but it is also one with greater opportunity because the giant is awakening. The wolf is loud and powerful but together we support and sustain and defend one another.

Follow Faith Chatham on twitter at @faithchathm or @txfedblueseed

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

ACTION ALERT: Steve Bannon's Nominaton to National Security Council must be confirmed by Senate Homeland Securty Committee

Action Alert: Steve Bannon goes before the Senate Homeland Security committee for confirmation to the National Security Council. Please contact member of that committee urging them to block him from membership. Here are the members and their contact info

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

INDIVISIBLE: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda

By Faith Chatham - Jan. 4, 2017

Progressives have strong networks coming out of the 2016 Campaign Cycle. Hillary's supporters are standing together combatting racism, sexism, and corruption. Despite turning out 3 million more voters than Trump, progressives know we "won the election" yet lost the White House, Supreme Court appointments, and face Congress where the GOP/TeaParty controls both houses.

For the near future, it is essential that we stand together as citizens. We have to utilize our networks to effective in resisting changes which are detrimential to our nation, our communities,and our families.

Former Democratic Congressional Staffers have authored a guide for Resistence.

I recommend that you download the guide. It is less than 30 pages. It is full of tips on how to get the attention of elected officials and how to imfluence the legislative process. Titled "INDIVISIBLE: A PRACTICAL GUIDE for RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA" is full ot tips on how to get Congress to listen!

Well, that didn’t take long.

This is being posted here as an example of how organized resistance paid off!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017 copyright The New York Times »


On the very first day of the new Congress, the Republican majority suffered its first embarrassing setback. It abandoned its plan — which it had tried to shield from public scrutiny — to eliminate the independent House ethics office. It did so after a firestorm of outrage on Monday night and Tuesday morning, much of it on social media. There is a lesson here, and it’s related to the one about grass-roots politics that I mentioned in yesterday’s newsletter, playing off an Op-Ed by Ezra Levin, Leah Greenberg and Angel Padilla.

In the coming age of Trump, Democrats and progressives may not hold much political power, but they can still have influence, much as the Tea Party did even while the Republicans were in the political wilderness, in 2009 and 2010. The key is being passionate, organized and focused. The protests against the brazen elimination of the ethics office worked — for now, at least — because they had a clear message that resonated with a lot of people, including Republican and independent voters. Ultimately, even Donald Trump half-heartedly came out against the move. Republican leaders were embarrassed, and they decided that a retreat was their best option.

Most fights won’t be so easy. They will require more organization and sustained effort. They will require making phone calls and attending meetings and marches, rather than merely posting outrage on Twitter and Facebook. And they won’t always succeed.

But it’s important to remember this fight, because there is reason to expect that even bigger ones are on the way. Congressional leaders have announced plans to take health insurance away from millions of people. Those leaders have announced their intention to shower huge tax cuts on the wealthy and to cut benefits for the poor. They have also announced plans to increase pollution, damaging the health of Americans today and the state of the planet tomorrow. They have even signaled their intention to eliminate the ethics office when fewer people are paying attention.

Every one of these issues will be worthy of the passion sparked by this week’s fight, sustained over days and weeks rather than hours.

The full Opinion report from The Times follows, including several pieces covering the ethics-office fight. “Is it any wonder that House Republicans felt O.K. about trying to slip free of some of their own ethical shackles, no matter how ugly the optics?” asks Frank Bruni in his column. “It’s the tone that Trump has set and the culture that he’s creating.”

The Editorial Board also weighs in, noting that both Trump and Paul Ryan, the House speaker, seem sympathetic to change, but wish it had been done more subtly.

David Leonhardt
Op-Ed Columnist

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