James Earl Carter

Author: admin

For anyone with an honest interest in the true profession of politics, the name James Earl Carter has been on your mind for the past week. If you’re fortunate to have access to any form of media expression, coupled with that sincere interest in all things political, you’ve been wrestling with what to say about the Carter story – and how to say it.

The best regional piece I’ve read is from friend Marc Johnson in Boise, on his blog “Many Things Considered.” To read something political – with heart and substance – take a minute right here and go to http://manythingsconsidered.com/. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

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So much for the well-written, scholarly approach to the Carter story. My response is far more visceral.

Historians will debate the Carter presidency as they do those of all temporary occupants of the Oval Office. The good – the bad – the important – the trivial. That’s their job and they’re welcome to it. I possess none of their scholarly credentials. So don’t look for any of that here.

But, I’m an adult American male with some longevity and understanding of what I admire in someone of the same description. And, politics aside, I can think of almost no other public figure who rises to the common definition of role model and just plain decent human being as does James Earl Carter.

With some training in matters of hospice care, I’ve also watched Carter’s public discussion of the very private issue of impending death with interest. In sum, those few minutes embodied what nearly every hospice professional looks for in someone in their care – thoughtfulness – perspective – reflection – understanding. And humor. Humor from – and directed at – the human experience that death is a part of living. If religion is part of someone’s life – as it certainly has been with Carter – invoking one’s faith is not only relevant but crucial in how matters of fate can be accepted.

But, within a few hours, matters of politics soon interrupted this moment of witnessing humanity at its best. It took less than a day for one of the cretins running for president to take a public shot at the Carter presidency. A shot that was not only ill-timed but factless. Embarrassment and personal humiliation don’t exist in the Cruz world.

But Cruz and others – whoring for dollars and votes – offer the most glaring examples of how far our national politics have fallen when compared to the humanity and moral stature of a Jimmy Carter. I include all but two in the current crop. Trump is not prostituting himself for big bucks. He’s whoring on his own campaign tab. His prostitution is selling himself for public adulation and to gorge his own billionaire-sized ego. I also don’t include Sanders because he’s not looking for big donors and not running the kind of “selling-your-soul-in-the-marketplace” campaign of the others. Including Ms. Clinton.

Try to simultaneously hold in your mind the kind of life lived, and the contributions to humanity made by Carter since his White House years, while also considering our current presidential choices. Pick one of the strident voices from the entire pack – just one – from whom voters could expect a future personal life of humanitarian service, public dignity and selfless contribution. With the possible exception of Sanders, I can’t.

Our moment in political history is befouled by money, lies, unfounded fears of government spread by callous but well-paid voices, wide-spread willful ignorance, candidates far, far exceeding the “Peter Principle” and scores of office holders not qualified to do the jobs to which they’ve been elected.

The National Republic Party is reaping a harvest of shame from years of accepting the lowest denomination of unqualified candidates. This scrum of flotsam has been propped up by billionaires determined to set our country’s agenda for decades to come. In Democrats, the leading candidate is someone whose run has long been “ordained” but who’s not been sufficiently publically challenged and who’s become profoundly rich at the public trough.

And it’s our fault. We’ve accepted all that. We’ve accepted people who’ve disdained educating themselves or participating in the conduct of their government as having some sort of personal right to do so. They don’t! We’ve not been involved enough with a selection process that puts names on the ballot – the names from which we have to chose to set our national course. We’ve stood at the polling place too often and cursed while making a choice of “the lesser of two evils.” By our careless and uninformed vote, we’ve allowed office seekers – and holders – to become whores chasing dollars while rewarding big donors with favoritism. We’ve failed to demand high standards and have allowed incompetence to be perpetuated and accepted. We’ve allowed elected office holding to be perpetual employment.

Then, a former peanut farmer from Georgia displays the grace, dignity, acceptance and guts of someone you can’t help but admire, whatever his politics. He does it in our living rooms, face-to-face, showing us how to deal with our own mortality by offering the finest of ourselves.

For centuries, travelers have navigated by the North Star because of its reliability and stability. Future presidents would do well to navigate their own courses using the same personal qualities of James Earl Carter.

Big stories and hot topics don’t always burst on the scene in a recognized way so we’re all suddenly aware of them. Often, they creep up on us a little at a time and the “watchful” national media look right past ‘em. One such story is moving under our feet at the moment – apparently out-of-sight of that “watchful” bunch. And it scares the Hell out of me.

Two words. “Oath Keepers.” If you haven’t heard of ‘em or don’t know much about ‘em, I strongly advise you do your research and get familiar with this band of armed misfits. Because they’re here – from coast to coast.

If you believe the “official” website, they’re just former military fellas out to have a good time or – more realistically – here to see to it the federal government is kept in its place. By force. The founder has written “The greatest threat we face today is not terrorists; it is our federal government.”

“Oath Keepers” was hatched in 2009 in Nevada as a non-profit by one Stewart Rhodes – Yale law grad, former paratrooper and former Ron Paul staffer. One of Rhodes “beliefs” is, if German soldiers and police had refused to follow orders, Hitler could’ve been stopped. Maybe. But think about that. If two groups whose sole purpose at that time was to keep the peace had REFUSED to follow orders, Hitler would have been powerless? Really? Rhodes may have gotten out of Yale law but he sure missed a few classes. Especially one about circular logic. And others on 1930’s history.

Membership is open to active and former military, Guard, police, fire fighters, other first responders, sheriffs and their staffs. In other words, anyone who wears or has worn a uniform. They’re armed to the teeth. Weapons of choice – anything semi or fully automatic. Camo outfits with military boots. Lots of patches signifying anything military. Oath Keepers is flat-out a paramilitary unit. Rhodes calls his various sub-groups “cells.”

Rhodes and his military minions have popped up all over the country recently. A few months ago, they were near Grants Pass, Oregon, to defend a miner who was in violation of several BLM regulations and at least two federal laws. With AK-47’s at the ready, they took up positions between the feds and the miners for a couple of weeks.. The feds blinked and left.

Remember ol’ Clive Bundy – Nevada public lands scofflaw and cattle-grazing welfare queen who still owes you and me over a million bucks? Oath Keepers showed up there. Armed to the teeth. BLM backed down again. Then, they traveled to Montana this month to, again, “defend” a miner near Lincoln who was in violation of federal rules. Again, feds left.

They got to Idaho this month, too. A retired Navy vet up north had been notified by the VA his medical records showed a deteriorating mental condition and he had to surrender a very large collection of guns and other weapons. Up popped Oath Keepers with their automatic firepower to get into the action. Most troubling thing here is the local sheriff sided with the Keepers against the feds. In the end, feds backed away. Seems to have been true in several other cases as well. Paperwork error was the claim.

Now, they’ve turned up in Ferguson, Missouri. To do what? Defend the cops, that’s what. Siding with the St. Louis County Sheriff who didn’t seem to mind the unrequested “assistance.”

So here’s why this group really terrifies me. Seems local law enforcement has been O.K. with these gun nuts in all these instances – and more – because none of them have been arrested or chased back under their rocks by any jurisdiction. If not welcomed with open arms by lawful authority, there’s certainly been a tacit acceptance of these militaristic civilians. Why?

The explosion of people openly carrying guns everywhere is one thing. But why are the feds and local law folk giving these guys a pass? What if one of them fires on a fed – or a crowd – for whatever reason? Who’s liable? Who goes to jail? Does anybody go to jail? What’s the difference between some local citizen with an AR-15 on the scene – who’d normally be chased away or arrested – and these Oath Keeper guys? What about some of their armament? Are private citizens supposed to have fully automatic weapons?

The Southern Poverty Law Center – watcher of all things violent, anti-Semitic and racist in this country – calls Oath Keepers “a fiercely anti-government, militaristic group.” SPLC is seldom wrong.

I’m one of those who believes our government is not responding to our needs and concerns at the moment – that billionaires have squeezed the rest of us from representation and participation – that we need to change direction, tone and a lot of elected personnel in Washington D.C.. But damned if I’ll pick up an AK-47 to prove the point. Oath Keepers should not be allowed that option, either.

Good, bad and ugly: Us

Author: admin

A lot of smoke being blown about the Confederate flag seems to have set off a fever in this country that is more than a little worrisome to me. Take it off government buildings? Yes. But now, there’s a bunch of folk who want to wipe out other public displays – too many public displays – of too many things they find “disturbing” to their sensitivities. Seems a bit like overkill. The State of Idaho is dealing with such a case.

The old Ada County Courthouse, owned by the State has leased portions to the Idaho Supreme Court and the University of Idaho College of Law. Uof I wants a Boise campus for its Moscow-based law school since Boise is the state capitol and, not surprisingly, the Idaho Supreme Court is there. Along with its attendant excellent law library. So far, so good.

Except someone an overdeveloped sense of “correctness” – apparently at U of I and possibly inspired somewhat by efforts to take Confederate flags off public property – is pushing that “correctness” a shade too far.

Let’s step back for some history here. The old court house was built in the late 1920’s and was functional for a long time; beautifully designed, sturdy, well-built and located across the street from the State Capitol. It served very well until the ‘90’s when a new court house was built on 14 acres several blocks away. Eventually, the State of Idaho bought the old landmark and struggled for some time to find a suitable use for it. Recently, along came a Boise law school campus and the rest is history.

More history. In 1935, the Works Progress Administration was created as part of the Roosevelt administration’s “New Deal” to put people back to work in post-depression era days. WPA it was called. Between 1935 and 1943, more than eight million Americans worked under WPA, building bridges and highways, water and sewer plants, airports, dams and other public projects. Also, the arts. Music was composed by WPA musicians. Poetry and books were published under WPA. And art. Lots of public art for many public buildings.

It’s here – at the old Ada County Court House – where WPA and the State of Idaho intersected. Works of WPA art were commissioned for interior walls. It was wisely and appropriately decided those paintings would depict Idaho history. The good, bad and ugly. And they do. Large colorful paintings based on real events or – with some artistic license – depictions of life-in-general in Idaho’s early years.

Two scenes depict lynching of a Native American. Of which there were some, I’m sure, in darker parts of Gem State history. Other states, too. But, with U of I preparing to occupy a major portion of the court house, someone decided these two panels, having been there for more than 60 years, had to come down or be covered from public and law student eyes. As we used to do with nudity.

After a lot of justifiable public fuss, fuming and oral outrage from preservationists, a deal was struck. The murals would stay. But they’d be covered “temporarily” until a decision can be reached “long term.” Whatever that means. And “decision” by whom? And on what basis?

Which that brings us back to the flag. Should Confederate flags be removed from general public display and retired to museums or other suitable representations of Civil War remembrance? Certainly. It flat out represents slavery in all its forms and all that means to the shame of an entire country. And those statues of Southern historic figures, too? “Out! OUT,” they cry. Banished. Loud voices want things burned, buried or otherwise dumped in the dust bin of history.

Mine is not one of them. History is history. State’s rights are history. Slavery is history. Indian lynching in Idaho is history. And Oregon. And Washington. And Wyoming. And Colorado. And on and on and on. Legitimate history. As are the ruins of World War II Japanese-American internment camps. Shameful history. But our history, too.

We’re big boys and girls. We’ve all had a history class or two. We know, however noble and high-spoken our national goals and efforts are, we’ve committed terrible atrocities and run over more than a few people in our national aging. Slavery? Certainly. But can you say “internment camps?” Can you say “abridging guaranteed rights of citizenship” in the guise of “national security? Can you say “police brutality?”

Banishment of representations of our national history is wrong. We are who we are. And we got where we are by means fair and foul. We’re dedicated, honorable, well–meaning, patriotic, gutsy and proud. We’ve also been arrogant, shameful, deceitful, murderous, dishonest and cruel. We’re all of these things. And, a whole lot more.

Rather than fill the air with platitudes, breast-beating and knee-jerk reactions to the parts of us – or the symbols of those parts – we find shameful and criminal, we need to honestly reassess where we are and who we are. We need to examine the totality of being an American, then decide how we honestly want to represent what that means.

In a true, historical sense, these are “baby-and-bath-water” situations. A great deal of care needs be taken to see we do right by ourselves. And right ain’t always nice. Or “correct.”

Bombast vs knowledge

Author: admin

As the national media herd runs from one embarrassing Trump affront to our national dignity to another, there’s an interesting story all are missing. In they rush to pick up another specious, ego-filled, churlish sound bite, a smarter, far more effective race is being run showing positive campaigning on just the issues is far more effective.

Though the foot-in-mouth New Yorker is drawing some civilian attendees to his traveling road show of put-downs, gaffes, insults and ego-massaging, it appears many are there because they want to see a “celebrity” rather than be swayed by his “statements” about anything. I doubt significant numbers of them go home with the thought “You know, there’s a guy who ought to be our next President.”

Now – leave the fawning media behind and walk over to the campaign of one Bernie Sanders. You won’t have problems finding him. Just look for the larger crowds – much larger gatherings than Trumps. Crowds Trump and his Cretin campaign team would kill for. Crowds they couldn’t get even if they paid people to turn out. Crowds listening intently to Sander’s views on national debt, immigration reform, Social Security, health care, voting rights, infrastructure repair and other important issues going begging for Republican – not to mention Trump’s – attention. Sanders speaks to those issues because – unlike a majority of other “candidates” – he know the issues.

Note also, at these Sanders sessions, people are respectful, attentive, boisterous when responding to statements they agree with but – above all – listening. They want to hear his message – they want to know more about this New England independent who speaks with a New York accent.

And, here’s the kicker – what the national media is just plain missing. Sanders is campaigning with entirely positive messages on the important issues that need to be dealt with. He castigates no one. He speaks without name-calling. He sticks to the subject. He’s enthusiastic but not bombastic. He knows what he’s talking about. He can communicate it! I’d guess many who hear Sanders in those large crowds – even in those red states – go home with the thought, “That guy could be our next President.”

Both national parties are losing registered membership because they’re anachronistic, money-grubbing ghosts of “politics past.” Neither stands for much of anything. Dem’s are so far from the middle nationally that many former members no longer relate. The GOP has dived into a hole with positions so narrow and irrelevant only a few diehards remember the “glory days.” For both, billionaires have replaced wide-spread voter appeal and money – lots and lots of money – has become the party purpose for existing.

To me, Trump’s “candidacy” is the most dangerous threat to our political system since the Kochs built themselves a “Tea party.” Look how far to the right – to near national irrelevance – the Republican party has gone in the last 15-20 years. Look at the absolute stalemate the elections of Ted Cruze, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, Raul Labrador and about 50 others have caused. None of them – not one – has been effective with new legislation, problem-solving, healing our national political wounds, standing for anything while doing nothing but cashing a paycheck. They’ve made a eunuch out of Congress, extended misery for the poor and homeless, played almost exclusively to the rich and ignored finding solutions to national ills that are the exclusive province of Congress.

Now, Trump is attracting audiences of the same disaffected, unthinking, scared and mostly white, elderly people. In poll after poll after poll, results show far too many people don’t have any idea how their government operates, how legislation becomes law, what our system of checks and balances is. And they have no idea what the role of government is as defined by the Constitution many of them swear by but are ignorant of both content and meaning.

People like Trump – and to some extent nearly all the Republican presidential candidates – are offering simple answers to complex problems they can’t solve. Trump – with his trashy name-calling, jingoistic, belittling statements – is capitalizing on the ignorance of those people looking for someone who talks like they do – feels like they do – about whatever’s bothering them at the moment. He’s dispensing verbal snake oil.

If some of these people who look to Trump for political salvation would set aside their fears and their loathing of a government they don’t understand – and in too many cases fear – and spend some time at a Sanders’ rally, they might be both enlightened and educated by a far different experience.

Please don’t take this as an endorsement of Sen. Sanders. It is NOT. But it IS an endorsement of the politics of any candidate of any party who understands the issues and who speaks to them with educated, informed ideas and temperate words while appealing to the best in us.

Take your choice. In a field of some 20 candidates of both parties, fill in your own choice of someone else who’s doing that. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

There a few changes in military recruiting stations since I signed up in one many, many years ago. Most now are staffed by members of each branch of the military rather than just one recruiter who could sign you up for any service. Today, they’re often located in strip malls rather than office buildings as they used to be. Slick promotional DVDs of colorful military action have replaced the old, dog-eared pamphlets.

My recruiter back then was an old “tanker.” I wanted the Air Force but that old sarge was pure Army from his shorts out. He wore a back brace, had “locked” knees and gnarled hands that gripped two canes. He’d served in North Africa under Patton where temperatures in those steel coffins topped 120 degrees daytime and dropped to the 40’s at night. Repeated exposure to cold and condensation caused crippling arthritis. He was overweight and deformed but he recruited with the best of ‘em.

These days, recruiters all look like they posed for “best-of-the-best” posters with tailored uniforms, all leather shined to a high gloss, smartly pressed pants, permanent-pleat shirts and regulation haircuts kept that way by nearly daily trips to the barber.

This description of latter-day recruiters probably fit all the personnel in that Tennessee recruiting station the day they were murdered. The day a deranged soul, with a semi-automatic, butchered five unarmed men. But “deranged” doesn’t stop there.

Flipping through Faux Neus a few days ago, I happened across “Judge Jeannie.” Her right wing rant was the recruiting office murders and how “Obama is to blame.” Not President Obama. Just “Obama is to blame.” And, from somewhere in the demented Faux audience, the network has dug up a Black police chief as much a racist as any white I’ve ever seen.

Let’s take a minute to discuss “Judge Jeannie.” Jeannie Pirro was 12 years a county court judge in Westchester County, NY. During that time, lobbyist husband, Albert, was convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy involving over $1 million. Jeannie was investigated by the feds for illegally taping her husband’s phones, trying to catch him committing adultery and other things. American “family values” at their best.

Jeannie made runs for lieutenant governor and U.S. senator with “significant contributions” from her ex’s friends while he remained in the slammer. But she couldn’t raise enough money or political support from the public and withdrew both times. Rejection. Then Faux Neus. With her non-journalistic background and political failures – a natural.

Back to the present. Jeannie’s charge was that “Obama” had prohibited recruiters from being armed. Not true. Except to her. If “Obama had not stopped recruiters from having guns they could’ve defended themselves and wouldn’t be dead.” The chief agreed! Repeatedly. Another “Obama failing.” said he. I flipped off – before I flipped out.

I’d bet the farm no president of these United States ever knew – or had given much though to – whether recruiters had guns in recruiting stations. I’d wager the same that no president – including the current one – ever ordered recruiters be armed or not armed. Like so many other Faux Neus charges about “Obama’s failures,” no thought has been given to cabinet secretaries, department heads, the IRS, Joint Chiefs of Staff or anyone else in government supervisory roles. Just “Obama.”

Successful recruiters have two main tools. First, they must look, talk and act like the best each branch of service has to offer. Many are combat vets with a lot of “salad dressing” on their chests. They’re smart, well-trained to “read” people, conversational, use proven sales tactics to make a case for new recruits to see “the best the military offers.” It’s a sales job. “Products” are patriotism, travel, education, lifetime careers, advancement and all the things young people look for and ask about.

Most recruiting offices are in malls or strip malls. Years of testing found access important for recruitment. The Tennessee office was next to an Italian restaurant. You can’t stash recruiters away someplace “safe” and you can’t arm them for defensive postures any more than you’d buy a car from a guy in a bulletproof glass cage. They are not in the offices to “return fire” when some nut – deranged local or terrorist – takes a shot.

Recruiting offices will continue to be targets for attack. They represent the American military – “the Great Satan” – and are not equipped repel armed cowards hitting “soft” targets. Like schools in Afghanistan or weddings in Iraq. There is no bulletproof way to change that. Not if recruiters are to be effective in their work. Before international terrorism made their offices hazardous duty.

The military will figure this out and do what it has to. No, I’m more worried about the “Judge Jeannie’s” of this world who keep up the lies and false propaganda to stir up people who fall for her B.S.. Far too many do. To me, she’s more the “enemy within.” Millions accept what she says without question – without checking – without confirmation of any kind – because she’s that “nice looking lady.” “And she’s a judge.”

No, my friends. She’s just another Faux Neus hack with clay feet up to her chin. She’s had her turn with both sides of the law. You want a friend? Go talk to a recruiter. They’re far more honest.

As for the civilian nuts showing up to “protect” the military, go home before you hurt someone and get sued down to your red-white-and-blue shorts.

Enough, already

Author: admin

To regain some semblance of peace of mind and order in my life, and at the risk of alienating anyone who comes upon these words, I gotta say it: I’ve heard enough of Caitlyn and/orBruce Jenner and all her/his in-laws in the Kardasian family to ever want to hear the names of any of them ever again!

There. I’ve said it. And I’m glad! GLAD, do you hear?

The media’s obsession with anything Kardasian for a couple of years now has been mind-numbing and supremely irritating. This bunch of talent-less, overly made-up society wannabe’s has been overexposed in every media you can think of. And, in just about any way imaginable. Aside from putting money back into the economy by over-the-top spending on things totally unnecessary, nothing and no one named Kardasian has contributed anything meaningful or otherwise important to society from the git-go. They are takers – not givers. They live off the fatheads of the land – and media overexposure – giving nothing back.

As for Jenner, my ire is less directed at her as it is the damned media for creating an environment in which none of us can escape the latest beauty shot or the latest completely unimportant quote about the gender transformation and all other aspects of her new life.

I’ve admired Bruce Jenner’s athletic achievements over the decades since his amazing Olympic decathlon win. You don’t do what he did without supreme dedication and an inner drive most of us never know. Athletic excellence. He whipped all comers in all events of the competition and deserved all the Wheaties boxes we saw on breakfast tables for years. Well done, Sir! Well done!

But – that was then. This is now. I neither praise nor condemn what Jenner has decided to do about his sexual identity. His life. His body. His decision – based on whatever personal prompting has caused him to take the action. The singular fact which has given him such massive over-exposure in recent months is that he was somewhat famous for his athletic feats all those years ago. AND – wait for it – he married into the Kardasian clan. That bunch of overly made-up wastrels national media can’t get enough of.

The life-altering course Jenner has set for himself is his and his alone. While his previous athletic accomplishments probably guaranteed media attention to some degree, it should be remembered gender altering is not new. Nor, is it especially noteworthy in our times. For some, complete gender change means surgery – a medical procedure not uncommon in world operating suites. As taxpayers, we’ve paid for convicted criminals to do it behind bars. We’ve even got one person in a federal slammer for betraying national secrets who’s making a physical switch. On our tab.

This morning, as I shuffled through the daily reading of The Huffington Post, I found an article on the front page about a public appearance Jenner made recently. With picture. Continuing through the various sections, I found three more Jenner “stories.” All with pictures! All in the same issue.

At the moment, this nation is deeply involved in a terribly important discussion of a nuclear treaty with Iran – racial problems from border to border – a congress full of deadheads doing their damndest to drive us into the ditch – a Mideast cauldron boiling near the spillover point – people hungry in the streets – homelessness in never-before-seen numbers – the first phase of a presidential contest filled with the most unqualified and, in some cases, outright contemptible “candidates.”

But instead of thoughtful, descriptive and thorough reporting on all this, our media is filled with Jenner and her in-laws.

It would be easy to fault the media. It’d be even easier to cast blame by the boatload on ‘em for the mindless electronic invasion of nothingness. But the fault really is us. You and me. If television ratings, focus groups, “Q” scores and other accepted indicators of public interest, weren’t hugely responsive to the Jenner/Kardasian minutiae, it probably wouldn’t exist in our living rooms and our computer screens.

With several generations raised on a bloated diet of sensationalism, phony celebrity, vacuous reporting by an ever-fawning media and return-on-investment thinking determining the lowest denominator for increasing media sales, we should not be surprised at the Jenner/Kardasian overkill. We’ve told them – through circulation numbers and ratings – what we want to see, what fascinates us and what will cause us to turn on the TV. We’ve done it to ourselves.

But those numbers didn’t come from this household. Nor – I would hope – from yours. The “bread and circuses” mentality of TV networks and national newspapers is dangerous to our health. The Jenner-Kardasian show does not belong in our diets. Like cholesterol, that crap blocks a lot of information we really need to stay healthy.

Welcome, Donald

Author: admin

Much is heard these days about Democrats welcoming Donald Trump to the 2016 presidential primaries, hoping he’ll really screw things up for Republicans. Much is also heard from many GOPers along the lines of “What the hell is Donald Trump doing screwing up our primaries?” My lone voice says, “Welcome, Donald Trump. What took you so long?”

I’ve been waiting for that most able representative of the worst in American politics to get beyond “threatening to run” to the real thing for a long, long time. I’m not saying he’ll actually do it – because he won’t. He’d have to eventually publish too much of his financial holdings to ever fully and officially qualify for the nomination. That he’ll never do.

No, it’s 99.44% certain Trump won’t be on your November, 2016, ballot. It’s also just as sure he’ll be center stage for many more months. If you’re surprised by his verbosity and dominance thus far, you shouldn’t be. The Republican candidate garden has been cross-pollinating this political weed for years. Trump is that weed taken to the extreme.

As the original Tea Party began devouring the Republican elephant more than 10 years ago, it regurgitated pre-Trump ancestors. Bachman, Gohmert, King, Issa, Mo Brooks, Don Young, Jeff Denham, Dana Rohrabacher, Duncan Hunter, Ted Yoho, Tim Huelskamp, Steve Scalise, Kevin Kramer, Mark Sanford, Jeff Duncan, Kristi Noem, Raul Labrador, Marsha Blackburn, Sam Johnson, Jeb Hensarling, Joe Barton and a couple dozen more. These spawn began devouring anything moderate in the national GOP about 2004. Dozens of level-headed, knowledgeable and acceptable Republicans were eaten alive at the polls by supporters of these nuts, or the good people just quit after trying to deal with the lies, the intransigence and nasty politics.

Though Trump has been playing around in the Republican gene pool for some years, before that he was a Democrat doing the same thing on a much quieter level. He’s old, very tarnished goods. He didn’t spring full-throated to his present undeserved prominence. The above list of much-lesser, politically-challenged earthworms preceded him, breaking up the anti-intellectual ground and sprinkling it with verbal B.S. so Trump’s most recent incarnation could be hardier stock.

The soil that grew a Donald Trump now covers the GOP garden. It’s from this diseased earth the crazies have sprung. The ones condemning nearly everything governmental. The insane voices in Texas, for example, frothing at the mouth about “secret tunnels and holding cells under empty Walmart stores” where “President Obama plans to confine them” after a long-planned military exercise starting this week. Obama taking absolute dictatorial control so there’ll be no 2016 presidential elections.” Martial law. Armed U.S. Army soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians.

Nourished by verbal excrement of Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, Ingraham and too many others to name – loons who’d normally be left to solitary mutterings are being fed tainted diets of lies and half-truths with which to weave conspiracies and whole worlds of ignorant fantasies. With superb monetary largesse from the Kochs, the NRA, Heritage Foundation, Birch Society, Faux Neus and self-serving political voices, they cling to any word that appears to justify and nourish their demented existence.

Donald Trump is the wall Republicans need to smash into before possibly bouncing back to more moderate positions – something acceptable to us normal folk. Like purging a contaminated water supply, Trump might be the impetus for thinking GOPers to finally act to retake control of what’s left of their party and do some thorough housecleaning. Because it’s now just the party of the old. Of white males. Of vanishing support. Of dwindling numbers at the polls.

One other thing about Trump and the current defective crop of GOP candidates. These “candidates” are not supported by a lot of people who, if their guy loses, will say “Oh, well” and get on someone else’s bandwagon. No, Sir. These are people who will either stay home come election day or will willingly subvert, by any means, the guy who beat their guy. They represent the zealotry of what passes for modern-day Republicanism. “Coming together” is unacceptable to zealots.

The Republican party may take a shellacking at the polls in 2016. Not everywhere. But enough to further diminish the already decreasing size of its share of the electoral pie. Not because of a Clinton or a Sanders. But because more and more folks, who usually frequent that part of the ballot, are coming to realize those running their party are as ignorant and impotent as trickle-down economics.

Trump’s embarrassing use of the Republican brand to further his own fortunes may sound the clarion call for smarter, more reasonable people to step up in and take control. This country NEEDS a healthy GOP! Soon! Donald’s as unfit as it comes in his “candidacy.” Were it not for his demented outlook on nearly everything, he’d be a cartoon character. But he ain’t funny.

Trump could be the wake-up call the GOP needs to be viable again. His racist, war-mongering, exhibitionist rhetoric may be his own undoing. Damn, I hope so!

Scofflaw sheriffs

Author: admin

His name is Dennis Dotson. Probably doesn’t mean anything special to you. More than likely you couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Unless you live in Lincoln County, Oregon. Here, it’s Sheriff Dotson to us. At the moment, he’s giving me reason to doubt my vote in our last election.

The Good Sheriff is just one of more than a half dozen in our little state to renounce a new Oregon law he doesn’t believe in and has promised lax- if any – enforcement. Seems he’s a practitioner of a sickness that’s been sweeping the country lately: elected officials turning their backs on laws they don’t like or agree with.

In Dotson’s case, it’s the result of a new law requiring – requiring – nearly all gun sales in our state include at least a cursory background check. Even sales between private individuals. Seems like a damned fine idea to me. But not to our High Sheriff. And a few others.

No, he’s pissed. While not saying he’ll ignore our new legal requirement for gun sales, his reaction was “We’ll put enforcement on the back burner because we’ve got a lot of other things with higher priority.” In other words, law be damned. In more other words, “I’ve got to run for re-election soon and I’m not going to enforce a law that may return me to private life and no pension.” Or something to that effect.

This is not the first time Oregon sheriffs – and to some extent sheriffs nationally – have decided they don’t like their chances of re-election if they enforce an unpopular law. Several years back, the U.S. Attorney General emphasized federal authorities can step in and enforce gun laws if local representatives of any stripe don’t. Or won’t. Not only did many sheriffs throw a hissy-fit that someone from “outside” might make them live up to the oaths of office they’d all taken. Some even promised to arrest and jail the legally-constituted feds.

Now a tidy number of Oregon sheriff’s have joined county clerks in other states who’ve also become law breakers; clerks refusing to honor a U.S. Supreme Court decision by issuing marriage licenses to LGBTs. Clerks, all of whom – like the lawmen and law women – had taken an oath to perform all legally prescribed duties of their offices. Oaths of office, they’re called. Oaths. Promises to uphold all laws.

So now, as a nation, what the Hell do we do? Is someone in authority a step or two above these miscreants going to have to go from state to state – office to office – to force compliance with our laws? Do legally constituted authorities – a link or two up the food chain – step in and jail ‘em? Do we have recall drives for every recalcitrant sheriff and clerk?

Many of these lawbreakers – badged or not – claim no one can remove them from office but voters. They hide under a claim that they’re “constitutionally elected” which gives them some sort of perceived immunity from being forced to do something. Or to be responsive.

At the same time, you and I know, if some of these sheriffs who won’t enforce a gun law – even a simple, common-sense gun law – faced a recall, they’d beat a recall vote. Gun owners, many of whom haven’t been to the polls since WWII, would show up en masse to support anyone they believed was being “forced” to uphold “unjust” laws regarding guns. If the feds stepped in, there’d be shots fired.

I was raised to believe laws are not government suggestions. They aren’t informal directions to help us get along with each other. They’re requirements for a certain behavior – do something or not do something because it’s a law.

So, what do we do? Should I take a page from our local sheriff and drive 60mph in a 35 zone because my personal belief is that 35mph is far too slow and I’ve got important things to do? Should I drive 20mph above posted limits through high school speed zones because I believe kids that age are old enough to take care of themselves? If I find prices charged at the county landfill are too high – maybe onerous – can I just dump my trash along some deserted road?

If constitutionally elected law men – and law women – openly declare which laws they’ll enforce and which they’ll ignore, what becomes of our society? If legislatures can write laws – if cities and counties can enact ordinances – if congress and the president create a law – what happens when the rest of us turn our backs and act as if nothing has changed?

And, if I want to fly my confederate flag in your face, who’s going to put a stop to it?

Election to public office confers no “above-the-law” or “laws-don’t-apply-to-me” exemption. Yet that’s what these folks who won at the ballot box are telling us. Sheriffs. Clerks. Legislators. Member of Congress.

What do we do about it?

Shame enough for all

Author: admin

It’s been about two weeks since South Carolina’s Governor Haley kicked off the “Ban-The-Confederate-Flag” Olympics. Living here in our far-removed Northwest neighborhood, we haven’t seen or heard much more about the aftermath. At least less than I would have thought. But don’t think all’s quiet in the Confederacy.

In these few days, seven Black churches in three states have burned, though two may have started by some means other than arson. Still, five out of seven is substantial for 14 days. Several Black women pastors have received anonymous letters threatening them and their families. Videos are surfacing of race baiters/rednecks with Confederate flags waving on gun-toting pickups, driving fast and wild through Black neighborhoods in several states. Southern talk radio is filled with demands to save the old banner and condemning all who disagree as “crazy racist Yankees.” White-on-black crime is up. Wonder how the How should all of us feel about that.

I’ve been tickled watching Southern politicians of all stripes trying to figure which way to jump on this one. Some Democrats – not all – have gotten on-board with the banishment. Republicans – most all – are trying to figure out which way the re-election winds are blowing before making “commitments” to one side or the other. A few GOPers have dug in their heels, issuing firm “maybes” in press releases while dodging the media.

Southern newspaper editorial opining is all over the Confederate map. Letters from readers defending the flag are running much higher than those wanting it gone. Paid ads supporting keeping the flag are commonplace. Radio and TV, too.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not defending the flag or other public symbols of the old Confederacy. Not by a long shot. No, what concerns me is some voices are going too far with this “cleansing” of public conscience. Ol’ Mitch McConnell wants a statue of Jeff Davis tossed out of the Kentucky Statehouse. Same efforts in Virginia and North Carolina. Certain members of Congress – with nothing better to do – are carefully scrutinizing replicas in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill, looking for candidates for the scrap heap. Funny thing about that is a lot of ‘em have been wandering to and fro in Statuary Hall for years without even a glance at the marble works.

Feeding all this is the usual mindless blathering of the national media. We’re being inundated with “experts” on this-that-and-the-other who appear as ignorant about Civil War era details as the makeup-covered faces posing stupid questions. Heard one chemical blonde the other day ask, “What do you think slaves would say about this issue today?” She obviously slept through a few classes in both journalism AND history.

But, lest we get too cocky in our geographical detachment from the center of the current Confederate issues, we should not forget our own historical wrongdoing and one of this nation’s most tragic sins – Japanese-American internment camps of World War II.

On orders of President Roosevelt – loudly and embarrassingly urged on by Idaho’s Sen. Borah – we abridged rights of citizenship, illegally confiscated private property in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and confined hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans in conditions sometimes less habitable than those of the South’s slave days. Our Northwest vastness was dotted with plywood and tar paper barracks in which people roasted while suffering in summer heat, then nearly froze to death while suffering in winter’s harshness. All the while surrounded by high, wire fences and armed guards. Under the American flag.

Often, some of those mixed-race Americans were farmed out to tend to land and crops formerly their own – holdings many eventually lost. We used them as conscripted labor for war projects. We provided poorly for their basic human needs. And we made them the butt of racial “jokes” and irrational thinking. Bad as it was then, what if today’s hate radio and I-net had been around in those days?

No, the Confederate flag and all its attendant issues may be geographically beyond our horizons. We may shrug and give little serious thought to the south’s history of bigotry, slavery and state’s rights dramas. But, in truth, we’re brothers and sisters in denying a generation of civil rights for thousands of innocent people here in our own backyard.
Bigotry comes in many forms. I dearly hope the South and employment-seeking politicians don’t sweep too much history of slavery and racism into the garbage heap. But, I also pray we, in our distant relationship to those matters, don’t forget our portion of the country created a period of time when we acted ignorantly and in haste to condemn and wrongfully punish hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. Americans all.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two wrongs simply make – two wrongs.
And we’ve all done ‘em.

The week that was

Author: admin

In one week. The Affordable Care Act is upheld by the nation’s highest court – in the process assuring more frantic right wing attacks to end its life-saving existence. The same court then cast aside unconstitutional – and poorly argued – barriers to universal marriage. And the Confederate flag – long regarded as a defining symbol for 13 states in our nation – is suddenly being swept into the dust bin of history as an icon of slavery.

In a week!

It would be hard to find a single period in the last 100 or so years in which so much of the basic societal tapestry of this country was so drastically altered. In one week!

Then the inspirational coda: America’s first Black president, in the pulpit of a Black church that had been tragically assaulted, summing up those days – and that deadly assault – in 35-minutes of classic oratory, climaxed by his breaking into song and leading the congregation – and much of the nation – in the classic hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Others, with a better grasp of the English language than mine, are struggling to recap the historic political, legal, social and racial meaning(s) of all this. I wish them well. The after-effects will linger for a long, long time as they reflect and attempt to define.

One of the facets of all this capturing my attention has been watching reactions to both those whose causes have been vindicated or upheld and those who’ve seen their opposition to all this overridden legally and morally.

In a general sense, the vindicated have been happy, ecstatic, joyful, prayerful and – above all – gracious. Those in the first person, who’ve had their lives and social conditions changed for the better, have generally not been angry or expressed vindictiveness or scorn for either the process or for those who forced them into our courts for relief.

The same cannot be said for many of those who found little support for their views in our highest court. Among our Republican presidential aspirants, for example, Bush and Rubio came closest to a civilized response, expressing anger and disappointment while admitting laws of the land had been changed in proper and accepted ways; the nation needs to adjust and move on.

But Mike Huckabee – the only ordained minister and “man of God” among the GOP presidential contenders – spoke for many of his supporters and those of other candidates in a totally unfounded way regarding the gay marriage ruling. Said the “pastor:” “This flawed, failed decision is an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.” Vindictive. Angry. Scorn-filled. Wrong.

Time was, you took your issue to the courts, argued your best case, presented your best evidence and placed that issue in the hands of a judge or judges. The outcome, whatever it was, was the outcome. You either accepted it and went on your way or you regrouped and began your judicial journey again, hoping for a different verdict. You did not reject the decision and you did not insult those who decided it. Now, we have elected officials urging people to “ignore” or “pick-and-chose” which laws/decisions to obey and which to disregard. Wrong headed. Dangerous. No nation – no society – can exist when laws become “suggestions” or are ignored because someone doesn’t agree.

In a most basic way, the U.S. Supreme Court exists for a single purpose: to measure issues before it to the justices’ interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Justices aren’t tyrants. They aren’t “out-of-control.” Their decisions – whether you agree or not – are not failures despite whether your argument prevailed or lost. Those decisions are deemed to be the legal application of the Constitution by the court and are not “unconstitutional” unless subsequently proven so in another case.

Huckabee is not the problem. But he certainly is symptomatic of the way things political have been conducted in this country for too long. One group – usually Democrat – trying to do something which the other group – usually Republican – has attempted to stop the issue under discussion. In the case of the Affordable Care Act – most of which has been upheld twice now by SCOTUS and victorious over more than 50 failed legislative challenges – Republicans have not offered a version of their own. Not one. But Speaker Boehner says the efforts to eradicate ACA laws will continue. So much for acceptance.

As for the gay marriage decision, many GOP governors are telling state officials to either ignore the SCOTUS finding or not honor it by not issuing licenses until new state laws (doomed to ultimately fail) can be written and enacted. One governor even says he’ll introduce legislation to stop ALL marriages in his state. Acceptance? Gracious? Scorn!

Republicans nationally are slipping into a posture of irrelevance in politics. The courts – the demographics – the country – are changing. Foot dragging, obstinance, unrestrained opposition, angry epithets, unsubstantiated challenges to our legal system, futile efforts to swim against the tide of public opinion of reasonable gun laws, immigration and other issues will assure reduced GOP influence on this country’s direction. All of that is confirmed by overwhelming evidence.

Quietly looking back, that presidential coda to the week’s nation-changing events seemed to have even more relevance far beyond the walls of a South Carolina church than a local eulogy for a local pastor. In an often plain-spoken way – in an often soaring use of the English language – the President tied all these events of joy, anger, sorrow and tragedy into a tapestry of acceptance and hope this country has rarely seen.

Whatever your politics – whatever your personal beliefs – whatever your religion – whatever your ethnicity or race – if you haven’t heard the President’s words – all the President’s words – please search the I-net for the Pinckney eulogy. Set aside your worldly joys and concerns for 35 minutes. Watch. Listen.

The massive change our society has undergone in recent days is reason enough to take the time. Trying to understand what all this change means for the future makes it absolutely essential.