Category Archives: politics

Don’t sell the flag and the values it represents cheap

I’ve been trying to articulate the angst, disappointment and frustration about the framing of free speech/Trump issue, and so of course, I find what I need in the sports pages, where on most days lives a newspaper’s best writing and perspective. A quote from Kurt Warner:
“We have this narrative that these protests are contradictory to our flag and contradictory to our military,” Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner said Sunday morning on the NFL Network. “I don’t see them that way. I see them as complementary to the ideals to the flag, to the military and what they fought for — the servicemen and women and what they fought for. I have not heard one player that has not been more than grateful to our military. This isn’t about that at all; it’s about standing up for the ideals of the flag.”
I can’t reconcile my understanding of the flag’s representation and the way the president and his supporters say how it MUST be seen. Any challenge to their idea is seen as unpatriotic, disrespectful and ungrateful. (And, Lord have mercy, there is so much “stuff” attached to that “ungrateful” characterization of black professional athletes.)
I see a lot of things when I look at the flag. I hear a lot of things when I hear the anthem. But based on what I hear from the president and others other the last few days, the flag is all about respecting veterans and first responders. That’s cheap and narrow.
We seem to be living in a moment of historic revisionism about a banner. Again.

Coffee shops make a small world turn round

Coffee shops are an integral part of a city’s connective tissue. I like their place in my world. Highlights of just the past few days:

Giant Coffee: The mayor is there. He asks me if I miss daily journalism. (That’s an emphatic, “NO!”) I tell him it’s good to see him out and about. He says it’s better than staying inside Phoenix City Hall. He dashes off, in that trademark way he comes and goes. He left me me wondering where his next political home will be, but not in a political junkie way. It was more personal. 

The Refuge: That’s the site of a business meeting with someone who is the wind beneath powerful wings. There’s lots to discuss about a long-term project that could revolutionize the way we help people in need, how we make our communities stronger. But first things first: We take our time catching up on family news. She’s wearing a sharp, black dress, heels and pearls. I’m in a shirt, jeans and flats. We’re both in appropriate work attire to handle the business before us. That’s just how we roll in Phoenix.

First Draft: Even when I’m not there, I’m there. While at the gym, I get a text from a dynamo who I’m counting on to win the most interesting Arizona legislative race in 2018. She’s at Changing Hands bookstore where we’ve bumped into each other a couple of times when I’m working out of the adjacent First Draft. It’s to the point where she expects to see me every time she’s at the bookstore. I like that connection.

None of this happens without the excuse to drink coffee and tea and to be in interesting places. Coffee shops make you feel like the world is small and intimate, but they are also places that help you keep the big picture in sharp focus. There’s a certain magic in all of that.

Trump adds another twist to my hometown’s saga

jefferson-countySmithfield, Ohio: My hometown. My Mom’s hometown. Her father’s hometown. It had hopes for an Obama administration in 2008. Now it’s an example of Trump populism.

The photo with the Business Insider article, “A small town in Ohio holds clues to Trump victory,” shows the North and Main street sign. I had a wonderful childhood on North Street where Mom and Dad built a home more than 60 years ago.

The small town’s history has interesting twists and turns. It was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Quakers had a lot to do with that.

In Mom’s youth, there was a movie theater. It was segregated. Blacks had to sit in the balcony. Decades later her brother would become mayor.

Mom tells of the time some of her kin and their friends crashed a Klan rally. Whatever happened that night made it so my generation didn’t have to deal with that, at least not until I was in high school and some out-of-towner grand wizard threatened to hold a rally. My friends, mostly white, told me not to worry about it. The rally never happened.

There were several churches back in the day when the town was booming at about 1,000 people. Dad championed ecumenical services. Pastors delivered sermons at our church. Dad took the pulpit in theirs.

The town is surrounded by beautiful farmland. Fathers’ hard work in steel mills and coal mines put a lot of kids through college.

It’s a different place today. It has taken a turn for the worse. I’m so sorry about that.