Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Using fear as a weapon

Today I’d like to talk a little bit about fear. There’s certainly a lot of it going around nowadays. It seems like every time you see the news, there’s a report of another terrorist attack, mass shooting, or both, in a foreign country or even right here in America. Lately, it even seems hard to keep track of the reasons why our flags are at flying at half staff. So it’s natural that we are all a bit nervous that something might happen to us or someone we know. 

 

Since the beginning of time, fear has been a great motivator. Sometimes just the mere hint of a pending invasion by another country was enough to make nations surrender. Leaders know that the scarier they make something appear, they can get their citizens to respond in ways that often seem irrational. 

 

During the Cold War, as America and the Soviet Union faced each other down in Europe and built stockpiles of nuclear weapons, all of us lived in fear of an all-out nuclear war. They called it “Mutually Assured Destruction” or MAD, and it worked incredibly well. Just search YouTube sometime for examples of films like “Duck and Cover,” which were shown to young schoolchildren convinced that their classroom desk could save them from a Soviet ICBM. 

 

In the 80s at the height of the Reagan era, I went to high school in Omaha, Nebraska – not too far from Strategic Air Command – otherwise known as “Ground Zero, USA” because so many Soviet missiles were aimed at it. In fact, Strategic Air Command always kept a plane flying in the air over Omaha with a general who held the launch codes for an all-out attack on Russia. Needless to say, it felt quite ominous when it flew over my house. 

 

In our personal lives, fear also governs much of what we do. We put up fences around our homes, buy extra padlocks and alarm systems, and avoid certain parts of town after dark. And in the American tradition, if owning one gun is good, owning two must be even better, right? 

 

So it’s not surprising that some individuals running for political office through the years have used fear in order to rally people behind their cause. In 1964, President Lyndon Johnson suggested that Republican Senator Barry Goldwater was eager to use nuclear weapons against North Vietnam. In 1984, Democrat Walter Mondale ran a TV spot against President Reagan, saying that the Strategic Defense Initiative or “Star Wars” would actually lead to an escalation in the nuclear arms race. 

 

And not to be left out, the Republicans have certainly used fear in their campaigns. In 1988, George Bush painted Democrat Michael Dukakis as “soft on crime” and aired the famous Willie Horton ad, featuring a man who committed a rape while he was furloughed from prison in Massachusetts. The implication was that if Dukakis were elected, the gates of America’s prisons would swing open on Inauguration Day, allowing hardened criminals to roam the streets.

 

Most recently on the Republican side, fear has been the preferred campaign weapon of choice for billionaire and professional talker Donald Trump. First, Trump warned us about rapist Mexicans coming to steal our jobs, then it was women in the news media, then it was Senator John McCain, then he mocked disabled people, then it was immigrants from everywhere. He has encouraged his fans to “rough up” Latinos and African-Americans at his rallies. And now he wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States, even if they are citizens or returning from serving abroad in our armed forces.

 

Why do glorified carnival barkers like Trump use fear when running for such an important office? Because it works, pure and simple. But as long as we understand what it is, and recognize when it is being used, we don’t have to stand for it. 


It’s time for all of us, Republicans, Democrats and Independents alike, to find leaders who can motivate us through optimism and positive ideas for our country, rather than seeking to divide us. There’s no reason it can’t happen if we want it to. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Ace Hardware to fill portion of Goodwill property

Contacted this afternoon, Zander Fried, leasing agent for the former Goodwill property in Westview Center, confirmed the hardware store planned for the site will be an Ace Hardware. No additional details are available at this time. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hastings Happenings reaches a milestone - more to come!

As you have probably noticed, Hastings Happenings has primarily been active on Facebook over the past year or so. We continue to see steady growth in the number of Hastings residents (and others) who see the page as a place to see news, information and opinions related to our great community. In fact, earlier today, we reached a milestone that is worth mentioning - we reached 1,500 "likes" (followers) on our Facebook page. (We also have 667 followers on Twitter - @hastingsminn).

Judging from the positive response we have received to this approach in the past year, it is clear that readers enjoy having the opportunity to learn more about what's happening in Hastings, freely share what their organizations are doing (events, fundraisers, celebrations, etc.), and openly contribute their opinions as well. 

In recent months on our Hastings Happenings social media channels, we have shared posts from other news sources and simply asked readers to give their opinions. And at other times, we have raised questions that are particularly "hot" at the moment and solicited feedback from residents. In the near future, we will be writing more original stories here at HastingsHappenings.co and posting them to our Facebook and Twitter pages. 

In other words, our objective is to increasingly be known as a multi-channel news source for all things Hastings. A few things to keep in mind: 

- We are locally owned, not run by an out-of-state corporation with news outlets in multiple cities.
- We are dedicated to providing accurate information about issues affecting Hastings residents and business owners. 
- We believe a news-gathering organization has an obligation to cover all sides of the news and keep an open mind.
- We will share our opinions on issues (and endorse candidates) just as other news outlets have done. But our endorsements will come from us, not someone who doesn't live or work in Hastings.
- Guest opinion pieces and news stories are welcome. Please feel free to send us an email with your letter or story idea. 

Thank you again for your support for Hastings Happenings since we started in 2008. The best is yet to come!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hastings City Council approves own double-digit salary raises

In a vote that came as a surprise to no one, the Hastings City Council approved salary raises for itself last night in a unanimous 6-0 vote. Mayor Paul Hicks, who received a 12.5% raise effective January 2015 (he will now earn $9,600 annually), was on vacation and not present for the Oct. 20 vote. Also in January, council members will receive a 16.7% salary increase for their part-time work representing Hastings residents. They will each make $7,200 annually.
One of the council members present Monday night, Tony Alongi, made a point of reminding the viewing audience that members of the Hastings City Council had not received a raise since 2000, and had even decreased its pay for one of those long 14 years, seemingly in solidarity with the Hastings city staff, before returning its pay to its original level the following year.
Fast forward to 2014 and it was Alongi, along with Council Members Schultz and Nelson, who formally recommended the very raises that passed on Monday night. As members of the council Finance Committee, the three officials said they studied other cities’ council and mayoral salaries and learned that Hastings was paying less than the average. None of that is in dispute.
What some in the community may call into question is the large leap the Hastings council is taking to “catch up” with other cities. Many of those other cities have been, and still are, in better economic shape. If it’s critical that Hastings council members get paid the same as other cities our size, why not just increase salaries in 3-5% increments over time?
We also thought it was telling that, during his commentary on Monday night, Alongi described the salary he receives as a “stipend.”  Some folks may think that $600 per month (after the raise) qualifies as a bit more than a stipend – some might even call it “grocery money.”
So, if the “stipend” our council members and mayor receive is so insignificant, why the need for such a large increase? And if it’s truly such a token amount of money, why even collect a salary at all? Why not just earn $50 per meeting? Or, better yet, if the mayor and council would work for nothing, as true “public servants” and “volunteers,” that would put another $52,800 back into the Hastings general fund.
I’d like to see at least one of the council members (or mayor) turn down this raise and give it to the charity of their choice. $1,200 would be a great donation – and think of the positive publicity.     (breath not being held).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Hastings Council Candidate Forum Now on YouTube

Here's the link to the Hastings City Council candidate forum held July 24. Please remember to get out and VOTE on Tuesday, Aug. 12. 



Saturday, July 26, 2014

Hastings City Council candidate forum now airing on Channel 15

A big thank you to the four Hastings City Council candidates who appeared at the Hastings Happenings candidate forum on Thursday, July 24. Thanks also to Our Saviour's Lutheran Church for use of your wonderful facility.

Hastings residents will have four great candidates from which to choose on Tuesday, Aug. 12 (primary) and Tuesday, Nov. 4 (general election).

Candidates include: Joanna Bayers, Lori Braucks, Ian Martin and Mark Vaughan.

Those who couldn't make it to the forum may now watch replays of the event on Hastings Community Television - Channel 15. It will air each day at 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m.. 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Stay tuned to Hastings Happenings here at www.HastingsHappenings.CO, on Twitter at @HastingsMinn and on Facebook for upcoming coverage of the local Hastings election. Please let us know what you would like us to ask these candidates in the coming months.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hastings llama breeders mentioned in New York Times article

Sue Morgan and one of her mini-llamas in Hastings.
Susan and George Morgan of Hastings have an unusual side business - they raise llamas just outside of town.

The couple, which operates Gemini Mini-Llamas, was recently mentioned in a New York Times article about folks around the country who have taken up this vocation.

From the Times article:

It’s part of the bonding process, said Susan Morgan, 54, a home-care nurse in Hastings, Minn., who breeds miniature llamas with her husband, George, 56, an engineer. “They recognize each other by the hum,” she said. Two months after one of her females gave birth, Ms. Morgan said, they were still humming at each other.
Her husband said he gets a lot of questions about it. “People come up to me and ask, ‘Why are the llamas humming?’ ” he said. “And I’ll say, ‘Because they don’t know the words.’ ”

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