It won’t be over

Author: admin

Of all the discouraging, disappointing and shameful news coming out of our current presidential political campaign, two facts are crystal clear. One – when the campaign is over, it won’t be over. Two – this country – and we who call it ours – will never be the same.

Traditionally, political battles are supposed to end right after the votes are counted. Final bills are paid, campaign paraphernalia stored or – in the case of the losers – usually destroyed. Staffers seek new opportunities and life returns to normal. Whatever that was – it’s just over. History.

In recent national elections, that Norman Rockwell description of political campaigns has been fraying at the edges. Actually, it’s been torn down the middle. Disputes – actual or imagined- have been carried into political office by both winners and losers. Winners have been heavy handed in how they conducted themselves and their elected responsibilities. “Gotcha” legislation, rule changing and other attempts at muzzling losers have become standard operating procedure.

Losers – those whom voters have rejected – immediately set about trying to scuttle whatever the winners attempt to do. Cooperation and compromise have become signs of “weakness” – especially if you’re a Republican. Any attempt to work together is met with immediate scorn by supporters and, too often, recall attempts.

But this time – this year – it’s already worse. And there’s nothing in the political tea leaves to indicate a return to the Rockwell era. Ever.

In the Republican Party, cracks in party discipline have been turned into canyons separating members. The smallest philosophical differences are now verbal weapons with which to beat all others over the head. Language – usually reserved for bar fights – is so common it’s often run on the evening news with no censoring. Racism and lies have been accepted by followers of certain candidates as either correct in the mind of the ignorant believer or discarded as just their guy lying “like they all do.”

There’ll be no healing – no acceptance of different thought – no coming together for the “good of the country” after this one. There’ll be no alliances to work for the common good. We’ll see more attempts to divide – to disenfranchise – to exclude. Like the current GOP refusal to even talk to a Supreme Court nominee, much less hold the Constitutionally required hearing. The seeds for all of this have been sown. And, as the National Republican Party is learning, you reap bitter fruit from such planting.

A national GOP, as we’ve known it, has been bought out by billionaires and poisoned by narrow-minded ideologies. It’s been purged of rational thought and traditional standards. It has ceased to have a central core of responsibility as big money has circumvented even the most futile attempts to broaden a steadily shrinking base of support. As a national political representative, Priebus and the rest of his cohorts have no real political power of their own and find themselves running to keep up with the Kochs, Adlesons and others who pay the bills.

Some of this cancer has begun to mutate in national Democrat operations as well. There’s a bitter inside battle involving the national chairwoman and the former vice chair that’s become more apparent. Efforts to compete – even to rebuild – in races long-ago dominated by the GOP have not been effective. While Republicans gerrymander state political maps, Democrats have been largely silent or ineffective in trying to flatten the playing fields. The “loyal opposition” has too often become the “loyal doormat” or no opposition at all.

Both parties are losing membership and both need to rethink and rebuild. Democrats will likely have the easier job after the 2016 election. But it appears the GOP is in for some very serious problems if it’s to again represent any moderate and more progressive folk. Should Priebus and his neutered minions wish to thank someone for making that job more difficult, they need look no further than Donald J. Trump.

I doubt Priebus will survive long after November 8, 2016. Nor should he. But Trump has nearly single-handidly created a much larger problem. The evidence is overwhelming his base of followers is largely older white men with a distinct mix of racists, separatists and folks ignorant of government who’re destined to stay that way. For any rebuilding effort to be successful to achieve a modern, open and inclusive Republican Party, those folks will have to be dealt with. And they don’t have any use for “modern,” “open” or “inclusive” in their politics. Their way or the highway.

Which means – at least to me – two “Republican” parties. Maybe three. Or – and here is what the GOP must face squarely- a smaller Republican party after losing the aforementioned older white men, racists, separatists and the ignorant to a third party. Yes, it’s been tried before. And, yes, it’s never been successful. But Trump is not going to shut up. He’s got the money. And he’s delighted with the adulation surrounding him. He has a national – if not world – platform and, after the election, I don’t see him folding his tent and going back to just buying and selling real estate.

If the GOP doesn’t clean up its act, get back in charge, get the billionaires under control and disassociate itself with anything Trump, it faces no chance of being a viable political party for decades. None. It will become a neutered, narrow-minded, white and totally ineffective smaller “club.”

We need a healthy, robust, responsible National Republican Party. Our entire political structure is based on an active, effective two-party system. The new entity must be open, receptive to change, inclusive to minorities – who’ll soon make up the majority of this nation – and be more moderate in thought, word and deed. It can take a more conservative approach to things. That’s fine. But that conservatism must be more responsible and truer to the values that have defined it historically.

Hell of a job ahead. And I wish ‘em well!

Enough, already!

Author: admin

We here on the central Oregon coast have been concerned about rain – or the lack of it – for the last several years. Rain is not usually seen as a nuisance in these parts. It’s our life blood. For many reasons. But we’re catching up. And I’m more than ready for some blue sky. Damn, it’s wet!

Since 2012, rivers have been too low for many of the Salmon to reach their spawning grounds. That’s adversely impacted both commercial and sport fishing industries. What river flows there have been are reaching the ocean too warm for several fish and animal species. Starfish are almost gone. Sea anemones are disappearing. Many sea lions and otters have been forced further North to find colder waters. Lobster and crab seasons have been less than record-setting. All because of a stretch of unusually low rainfall.

But we’ve had some recent relief. We’re wet. Boy, are we wet! The last couple of months we’ve been so soaked the animals are walking in twos. I’ve been to the dictionary three times to check the length of a cubit. We are – to put it dryly – soaked.

“How wet is it,” you ask?

Well, let’s take our own little coastal puddle as an example. First 22 days of December, we had just over 22 inches. Average an inch a day. Rained every damned day! Double normal December rainfall. A good number of folks from Waldport to Tillamook have been flooded out. In one Newport neighborhood, an elderly lady just made it out the front door before her house split right down the middle and half of it slid 70 feet into a ravine. Highway 101 – our asphalt link to each other – has several places where guardrail posts are hanging exposed over open space left when slides took out the earth underneath. Other places where pavement has shifted, lifted or sunk.

Between Roseburg on I-5 and the coast, Highway 42 is the main route. It was closed by a slide that just kept moving. Took transportation folks a month getting even one-way traffic. You could stand there for days and hear the trees crack as the ground kept moving downhill under them.

But, let’s put all this wet excess in perspective. The whole State of Oregon gets about 42 inches of rain a year. Pretty dry over on the East side so the average statewide is higher West of the Cascades. Coastal average is over 70 inches. Still, it’s pretty liveable. Most of the time. On average. But, remember: you can drown in the water held in a tablespoon – on average.

We do have our special occasions – to put it mildly. The day after Christmas, 1926, the stretch from Newport to Lincoln city got hit with – are you ready for this – 10.98 inches in 24 hours. In 24 hours! Imagine what that would do in your own neighborhood. Pictures taken in the aftermath of that 1926 soaking show nearly all roads impassable – hardly a building left undamaged. In some places, hardly a building left all, in fact.

So, with those numbers and images in mind, our inch-a-day so far in December and much of January seems liveable. But it’s going to take several years of more-than-average rainfall to mend the fishery and habitat damages we’ve already seen. Local fishermen say they have to go many miles further away from the shoreline to find the usual schools of fish. Also, most of ‘em are using heavier weights to get nets to sink lower where the colder water is.

Oh, lodging and restaurant businesses have been cutting a fat hog during the extended summer dry spell in 2015. Tourist traffic – and the resulting tourist room taxes – set records. To the joy of local governments. Just one happy headline after another. But, those were just short term benefits of more than the usual amount of sunshine. The downside – and their certainly is one – is logging, fishing, crabbing and other outdoor industries have quietly lost ground without the usual rainfall. We’ll need an awful lot of wetness to make up.. It’ll take years.

So, as usual, Mother Nature seems to delight in feeding the needs of some of the population at a some cost to the rest. Whichever way it goes, somebody makes a buck and somebody else loses one.

But, consider this. With the resultant widespread coastal damages we’ve seen with our less-than-record rainfall of the past several years – not to mention that 1926 gully-washer – how do you suppose we’ll fare when that “big one” hits? When the ocean is pushed onshore 50-90 feet high at 75-100 miles an hour? Given what we know about what’s been – and it ain’t been nearly anything like that – what will be left around here? Who will be left around here?

Aw, maybe we can live with an inch of rain a day. But I’ll still cuss every time I take the dog out.

Sheriffs as outlaws

Author: admin

Given what’s going on in our world at the moment – especially in our national political activities – you really don’t need anything more to worry about. Just kidding. Here’s another – your local sheriff. I’m very worried about mine. And you ought to do some checking on yours.

A goodly number of sheriffs – especially in the west – are quietly joining an outfit called “Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association.” Let’s just call it CSPOA. It’s joined at the hip to the more well-known “Oath Keepers.” If you’re familiar with the right wing profile of Oath Keepers, move the scale for CSPOA a few notches right of that.

The CSPOA main website has a lot of mumbo jumbo about peace, love, liberty and extensive quotes from our constitution. But, under that B.S. and between the lines, CSPOA members believe there is no higher legal authority in the country than the local sheriff and federal laws should be enforced ONLY if a sheriff “thinks” or “believes” they’re constitutional. One of the badge wearing self-determiners of federal law and a co-founder of CSPOA is that famous constitutional “expert” from Arizona – Joltin’ Joe Arpaio. Clearer now? Any questions about parentage?

Washington, Oregon and Idaho are listed as member states claiming some sheriffs therein are practicing members. Several in Oregon – Douglas, Josephine and Lincoln Counties – espouse the CSPOA line and, therefore, should be counted as “fellow travelers” since the membership list is a big secret.

CSPOA’s legal counsel is a “Judge” Navin-Chandra Naidu who believes counties are supposed to be “Christian by nature.” Incidentally, he was a wanted man in Fiji in 2001 for forging his law degree. Also, he represented the Pembina tribe in North Dakota several years back and got the Anti-Defamation League all over his case.

CSPOA focuses on sheriffs, calling them “the highest executive authority in a county and therefore constitutionally empowered to keep federal agencies out of the county.” Co-founder Richard Mack believes “the greatest threat we face … is not terrorists; it’s our federal government (and) one of the best and easiest solutions is to depend on local officials, especially the sheriff, to stand against federal intervention and federal criminality.” Much of the other flotsam comes straight out of “sovereign nation” and “posse comitatus” movements. Great bunch of guys.

Upon close investigation, the Southern Poverty Law Center – a respected clearinghouse for identifying and following hate groups – calls CSPOA “a remarkably radical organization, considering who their members are.” My sheriff and maybe yours

High on CSPOA’s current agenda is the defeat of local lawmen and law women who don’t see things their way on such issues as gun control which, by the way, is no control. Criminal or nutcase, CSPOA says all are entitled to arm up without any restrictions.

Several Oregon and Idaho sheriff’s are being CSPOA-challenged at the polls this year. Many candidates have no law enforcement background but express innate ability to “judge for themselves” what, in our constitution, applies to their communities. And, possibly more important, what does not.

Take Oregon, for example. Our Harney County sheriff, who did a fine job trying to get the Bundy Bandits out of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, is facing a CSPOA-backed challenger in November. Dave Ward was called “weak” and “ineffective” because he wouldn’t tell the FBI and other feds to “butt out.” Apparently CSPOA doesn’t think much of patience and respect for our laws as virtues.

John Hanlon, over in Douglas County, made headlines a year or two ago denouncing all things federal in a widely-publicized letter to V.P. Biden. Hanlon proudly – and loudly – proclaimed he’d not only not enforce federal gun laws, but he’d arrest federal agents who came into his county to do so. A dozen or so other sheriffs jumped on Hanlon’s publicity bandwagon with the same claim so it could be fairly assumed they’ve got connections with CSPOA as well.

But, on the other side of the ledger, Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer, who called the Bundyites “patriots” and tried to chase the feds away, is being challenged by a local non-CSPOA type with experience and more common sense. And ol’ Sheriff Palmer is also on the wrong end of an investigation of his activities by Oregon authorities. Could end his career if he’s found to have “aided and abetted.” Which it looks like he did.

In my view, any sheriff who wants to believe this sewage flowing out of the CSPOA has a perfect right to do so. But, because of the flawed “thinking” and legally very questionable precepts of CSPOA, that sheriff should resign from office. None of them – not one – is empowered to decide for themselves which portions of our U.S. Constitution to enforce and which to ignore. None of them – not one – has legal authority to replace our national court system as arbiters of constitutional law.

There is nothing “constitutional” about CSPOA. In fact, what it preaches should be classified as sedition and those that act on that preaching are – in my mind – guilty of it as well.

Anyone who tries it – Hanlon, Palmer or any other – should be removed from office if attempting to thwart laws and court decisions instructing them how to conduct their official duties. Upon assuming office, all sheriffs take an oath to uphold the constitution – state and federal – and all laws – state and federal. They swear “So help me God.”

CSPOA seems to be telling sheriffs there were some weasel words in their oaths of office giving them special powers to decide right and wrong. Oaths that end “So help me God” are not known for weasel words.

One size can fit all

Author: admin

Sitting here next to the ocean, it’s easy to get disconnected from reality with waves hitting the shore, sea birds making their unusual noises, breezes filling the local air with smells of the Pacific. So what you’re about to read may be just the mental wanderings of an old guy drifting along in a fantasy world of his own. But I had these “peculiar” thoughts long before I was told where we’d spend our retirement years.

To wit: give up on this absolute electoral mess we’ve created in the 50 states and vote for presidential and congressional candidates on one, uniform, federal election ballot using the same rules. Fifty states using the same ballot which would have room for their own races but operating under one set of rules. Same qualifications for electors. Same way to determine electors.

Our national elections have devolved into mess after mess – challenge after challenge – lawsuit after lawsuit. But it’s gotten even worse with last year’s SCOTUS decision essentially gutting the Voting Rights Act and various GOP-dominated legislatures reconstructing election roadblocks for minorities. Now, even candidates are talking about suing states over delegate selection and appointment.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a firm believer in “state’s rights.” But congress after congress – regardless of party dominance – has chipped away at the original intent of “state’s rights” in many programs. State operation of educational and health systems are two major areas where the feds have usurped states in all or partial control. There are many others. That’s not going to change. We’ve accepted the incursions and even gotten used to them.

When it comes to elections, we’ve created a shambles. Some states use the caucus system – others closed primaries – still others with open primaries. One just has a meeting. Anyone who thinks the national convention halls are filled with people accurately representing the folks at home is living in the Land of Oz. We’ve got delegates, super delegates and others – some sworn to this or that candidate and some with no restrictions on whom they’ll bestow their voting “honor.” Horse trading votes at national political conventions is still alive and well.

Personally, I’ve never liked the caucus method. Nor do I see any real benefit to freedom-of-choice in a closed primary. Especially in Idaho where Republicans – in charge of everything – have conned all taxpayers into ponying up $2 million to pay for their closed GOP primary. Legalized thievery. Because they could.

Candidates – national and otherwise – get tangled up in a patchwork of differing laws, unique financial reporting requirements and other obstacles. Trump’s threatening to sue one state. Sanders and Clinton protest some other outcome(s). The whole process is a mess.

We and the candidates should expect – and demand – equity, equality and some common sense be applied to running such important elections. One set of qualifications for candidacy. One set of qualifications for electors. One set of qualifications – caucus or primary – for national parties everywhere.

If you’ve been licensed to pilot an aircraft, you did so federally with the FAA. I’ve often thought a national driver’s license would be a good idea, too. I’ve been licensed in nine states. Those nine exams were pretty much the same. Very little difference. I’ve been told one license wouldn’t work because “Florida drivers don’t have to learn rules for driving in the snow or on ice.” That would be a valid argument if Florida drivers only drove in Florida and never traveled to Denver or Cheyenne.

But to believe in the possibility of one uniform election system is to believe in unicorns. It won’t happen. “State’s rights” don’t you know? We’ll continue to limp along and see it get even worse before those in charge of such things admit the system doesn’t function as it should.

There’s a certain irony here. Seems to me the “state’s rights” believers should be the very voices supporting a uniform national election code to assure fairness and equity in the freedoms they loudly advocate.

Oregon – with its mail and electronic voting system – would be a good model for the other 49 to examine as part of a change to one national set of rules for elections. It’s much cleaner, cheaper to run, easier to vote, no long lines on election day, simple “motor voter” registration and nearly no fraud. Minuscule compared to the Republican-imagined “massive fraud” in other states. Except for a couple of Oregon GOP election officials.

But, again, it ain’t gonna happen. The idea of a clean, uniform, simple national elections code is just – well – a pipe dream. In the head of one old guy sitting on the beach and listening to the waves.

Turf intrusion

Author: admin

If there’s one thing politicians of every stripe agree on it’s turf. The good ones – and the not-so-good-ones – will do almost anything to grab and protect turf. Once the oath of office has been regurgitated, extreme possessiveness takes over and defenses go up. From sewer districts to Congress, turf protection is an absolute.

The bitching about someone else intruding on one’s turf is not necessarily localized. Members of Congress – the good ones and the not-so-good-ones – protect their domains and authority with mother hen-like zeal every bit as strong as your town council. Turf – politically speaking – is the most prized possession of the political animal. Someone once said of academic battles “The fighting is so fierce because the prize is so small.” So it is with most political turf wars. The protectiveness of one’s domain and its authority knows no bounds.

We, who watch the political machinations of our nation, are seeing a recent, more driven up-tick of a senior level of government stepping on a junior levels turf. I assign this increased violation mainly to legislatures being whipped into far right form by ALEC – the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is sponsored by a number of large companies, but the energy to use its perceived power comes largely from the Koch boys. Legislators of most states – especially those clinging to the fantasies of the far right – serve as the in-house distribution body for the oft-copied legislative packages coming out of ALEC.

For years, the Koch’s focused their pollution of America’s political system on Congress. Having achieved some dubious success at neutering that body, they’ve turned their attention to statehouses and governors. Using ALEC as a conduit, their self-serving ideas are shaped, printed, and copies made for those member legislators to carry the political pollution back to state capitols.

ALEC has not been terribly successful in Oregon and Washington. But Idaho has become a poster child for the Kochs. Recent legislative sessions have seen an increase in ALEC-created garbage and, far too often, passage and implementation of it. In fact, ALEC has been so successful in spud land that lobbyists with their own legislative missions have joined forces on bills of common interest.

One Idaho “success” both entities achieved this year was prohibiting cities and counties from stopping the use of plastic grocery bags. Seems like a weird topic to use your outsized legislative clout on until you consider the lobbyists involved largely represented oil and chemical companies that produce the bags. And the Kochs, whose vast fortunes include mining and – wait for it – chemicals. So, if Pocatello, Lewiston or Moscow want to require only paper grocery bags to help clean up their local environments – they can’t. Unless, of course, they pony up some big bucks and go to court to challenge the state ban.

This intrusion on local turf was quickly followed up by another lousy ALEC-Koch idea to write into law a provision that local governments – cities and counties – can’t adopt local laws prohibiting discrimination against LGBT individuals. Several cities had done so in the past but enforcement, again, would mean another court test to see if local turf is protected on this issue.

Idaho was not the only successful target for that. North Carolina has a new law almost word-for-word the same as Idaho’s. But in NC, some major American companies have told the governor to get rid what he signed or face the loss of some very large dollars that flow from manufacturing, sales, sports, tourism and other big buck entities. There’s a touch of irony there. Dow Chemical is one of the loud voices telling the governor to get rid of the law. The irony? The governor – in a former life – was a long-time vice president of Dow and lead lobbyist for its state and federal interests.

Idaho’s legislature has been known as a patsy for special interests for decades. About 70% of Idahoans live in cities but the legislature is run by people representing the 30% or so rural residents. The tail wags the dog and the majority folk lose many legislative battles. So, the minority can stick it to the majority on issues like human rights and environment protection. American Falls – population 4,376 – can thus stymie the Capitol City of Boise – population 214,237 – when Boise departs from what’s “acceptable” in American Falls. Boise’s LGBT non-discrimination ordinance appears to be one of those. Republicans – many rural – hold about an 80-20% legislative majority as well.

Other minority-driven bills made it into law this year while some went into the shredder. The issue of outside footprints steping on local turf was found in many.

Seems to me we could take one of the Koch’s strategies, tweek it and turn it back on ‘em. They started their cancerous attack on our politics at the top – Congress. With some success there, they’ve fanned out into statehouses. In this year of absurd national politics, we need to pay more attention to the “down-ballot” races for both Congress and our legislatures. Pay more attention to the bottom. After all, state legislatures and local governments are the breeding grounds from which a lot of members of Congress come.

As it stands now, the national GOP is going to produce a presidential candidate unacceptable to most voters. That’ll weaken the political capital of many of those “down ballot” cretins who’ve become impediments to dealing with our many problems. If voters can do some house cleaning in the lesser races, the tide might turn with pressure building from the bottom up. With enough pressure from us – over a couple of elections – we might send some of the flow back up the hose.

As voters, our “turf” has been tromped all over by politicians pandering to moneyed special interests and billionaires determined to buy this country for far too long. Let’s get a little more turf protective out there.

Damned technology

Author: admin

We bought a new car last week. It’s ours now. And I’m not totally happy about either the vehicle or the buying experience.

Oh, it’s a nice one. I suppose it could be called an “old man’s car.” Quite comfortable. Good looking. Very good gas mileage for one that large. And filled with most of the technological “advances” available on cars today. “Advances.” HAH! Therein lies my angst.

The version of the owners manual that came with our new “Champagne Frost Pearl” family member is about 200 pages long. But – if you really need information for all the “how to’s” to learn to operate all the gadgets, you have to go online. There, you’ll find the REAL owner’s manual and it’s about 600 pages! 600! Which means, if I want to learn how to do something, I’ve got to take a laptop out to the garage so I can read the detailed steps for the electronics as I try learn the actions required to operate everything. Whoopee!!!

The basic fact here is I will never – never – learn how to operate or benefit from all the technological “advances” purchased. Barb probably will because she’s a teacher-of-teachers who just has to master every new challenge.

Navigation is one. A bodyless voice spouting directions out of the dashboard is not something I need. Much less want. All I want to do when driving is get from point “A” to point “B” and, often, back to point “A.” Been doing that pretty successfully for four score years. Besides, the damned thing can be wrong.

When we lived in Roseburg a few years back, I’d try to give people some direction if they were coming to the house for the first time. Most often, they’d tell me to forget it because they’d use their GPS or “nav” system. Then, about half an hour after they were supposed to be there, they’d call, asking where the hell we lived because our address did not appear on any “nav” system. Take that, Google!

One of the problems buying cars these days is that nearly all of them have created “packages” of options. Usually three or four. So, if you want a particular feature, you have to buy the entire “package” because they won’t create one that doesn’t fit their marketing scheme. There were some features we didn’t want but had to buy to get the ones we did want. So, we’re burdened with expensive toys like disembodied voices and TV cameras in mirrors and the trunk, heated seats and “auto-dimming” headlights.

I’m amazed at how many changes there’ve been since we bought our last new vehicle just two years ago. For example, I tried for three hours – on-line and through the owner’s manual – to find the maintenance schedule for oil changes, tire rotation and the like. Finally called the dealer who told me there are NO scheduled maintenance schedules. Said he, “Your car will ‘tell’ you what it needs and when it needs it.”

Also, there’s no key. You have to carry around a fob about half the size of a cigarette pack. Barb has one. I have one. And the car knows the difference! Push a button within 30 feet of the door and it unlocks. Get in, close the door, step on the brake and push a red button on the dash. The seat and pedals move to fit each of us. I’m certain that fob will work fine until we’re 60 miles from nowhere and the battery in that little discriminating nuisance wears out. Then what?

The car business is rolling again these days. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014 Retail Trade Survey shows increased sales for the fifth year in a row for dealers. Those selling just new models totaled $785 billion. Throw in those who sell just auto parts and the dollars top a trillion. Trillion with a “T!” That’s pretty good evidence the need for an auto bailout a few years back kept the nation’s economy from plunging even more. Wonder what the sales dollars would be if you threw in all the used car dealers that seem to have flourished in a whole different market?

Reliability of new cars is vastly improved. Ours is one of the more popular brands and has been on the Consumer Reports list of the top 10 sellers for 30 years. It ranks third on a separate list of new cars needing the fewest repairs. And second on still another publication for brands kept the longest by satisfied owners. Which means we’ll probably trade it in two or three years down the road. All that research gone to waste.

In the meantime, Barb and our new acquisition will likely become close friends and she’ll “benefit” from knowing how to deal with all the latest in gadgetry. She’s already discovered features I didn’t know we had. And I fully expect her to develop a relationship with than damned voice.

As for me, I’ve figured out wipers (auto), lights (auto), radio, windows, heater and air conditioning. We live at point “A” and, even with the limited knowledge of all other internal workings, I can likely still get to points “B,” “C, “ and even “G” without that damned voice.

As for that battery fob that give access to all the wonders of our newest acquisition rather than a standard key, I’ll push away happily on the buttons until it stops working 65 miles East of Burns on a 110-degree day. Or a minus 10-degrees some January. Then, I will shout words of condemnation and damnation into the wind, aimed at the design team that came up with that stupid idea. Likely on a long-forgotten bar napkin.

After he’s gone

Author: admin

The other day, I nearly got into a heated argument with a friend of 40 years standing. Sensing it was coming, we agreed to disagree on the subject and talk about other things. Whew. Because the subject, which quickly raised a threatening response from my friend – then from me – was not worth the loss.

The subject was Donald Trump.

Because so many other “opinionators” have been pounding on the bastard for so long, I’ve tried – with some success – to avoid the subject. But he’s now such an undesirable icon in so much of our lives that his image and verbal obscenities are slopping over into matters other than politics. It’s nearly impossible to turn on a radio/TV, read a newspaper or converse with friends without him appearing because he has tainted so many subjects. He may, I fear, have permanently tainted our history.

I see his lasting damage in two prime areas: politics, society-at-large.

There’s no question Trump has infected civil discourse in the conduct of political campaigns. Because he is successfully drawing supporters with his baseless campaign, there’ll be copycats. Others, seeking political office at any level, will try to use his bombastic, truth-free, violence-tainted ways. I can name more than half a dozen already in national office who’ve come close in past campaigns and who now may be emboldened to step further over the limits of civility and propriety in the conduct of their next one. Especially if Trump – God forbid – has any real success. He’s a cancerous boil on the body politic and marking the low point in campaigns against which future efforts will be compared.

He’s openly and unashamedly seeking to attract racists, homophobes, the deliberately misinformed and others who would follow anyone they sense is saying the things they’re thinking. Trump’s playbook has it’s roots in political ancestors like George Wallace in 1968: “briefcase-carrying, pointy-headed liberals who need to be thrown in the Potomac.” Youthful media types, not alive in 1968, refer to Wallace now because of his iconic imagery representing the characteristics described above for Trump. In a decade or two, George will be replaced by Trump as the race-bating, hate-mongering, loudmouth playing on people’s fears.

For those reasons – and many more – Trump has deliberately created a political atmosphere that, I believe, will permanently alter future elections, the kind and quality of candidates who’ll run and how we elect presidents. Sadly, win or lose, his effects will taint future our politics.

Trump’s other lasting undesirable legacy will be on our nation at-large. Even before him, our society had become coarser, louder and more deeply affected by voices of institutional ignorance and anger. Ignorance seemingly deliberate in the face of facts easily obtained – anger at institutions and leaders caused mostly by a changing world those voices don’t comprehend. They want to deny the changes and sound a badly misplaced demand to return to some point in time when, they believe, society was more “acceptable” and “smaller” problems easily solved.

Trump has become self-appointed avenger for all wrong. “His people” see him as a “Sampson” who’ll personally tear down the institutions they fear as crooked and unresponsive. He speaks to their ignorance of our government and life as it really is by making promises he can’t keep and encouraging them to continue a fight they can’t win.

Maybe his most lasting, decaying influence on this nation is to temporarily lead in the creation of a permanent underclass of citizens. Everyday people who – bombarded by hate radio, false prophets and seemingly unlimited dollars from right-wing billionaires – are encouraged to believe they alone know the “truth.” With constant, phony affirmation, they’re being assured the way they feel and the things they believe are “real,” the “truth,” that “most Americans believe as they do” and any voices to the contrary are lying to them.

Our economy has been hijacked to send 90% of its benefits to the top 1% and allow the other 99% to fall slowly, but most assuredly, behind no matter how hard we work. That’s made millions of Americans angry. Hell, I’m one! The difference is, most of us know why and what needs to be done. The people Trump is appealing to don’t. They believe – and he’s reinforcing those beliefs – we need to turn the whole government upside down, tell the rest of the world to “go to Hell,” take care of only ourselves and bomb any country that doesn’t see things our way.

The danger Trump personally represents to the country and our cherished way of life is, to me, minimal. The more serious, urgent threat is the millions of people who believe him and his medicine man show of cheap, easy elixers, false claims and lies. Those who see him as a “savior in their wilderness” will be here long after he’s gone. They are now – and will continue to be – the political spawn of a blow-dried heretic.

When losers win

Author: admin

Time to turn over a few rocks in our national embarrassment laughingly called a “Presidential Campaign” and expose some of the hypocrisy and just plain smelly business being engaged in by some of the entrants.

One question I hear a lot is “Why do these people with no chance of winning get in, stay in so long and spend so much?” Ah, the multi-million dollar question.

Using information from the Center for Public Integrity – one outfit that truly lives up to its name – the answer is bucks. Big bucks! Even big, BIG bucks!!! Bucks for the never-had-a-chance candidate, political parties and some of the campaign pro’s that make a fine living whether their horse wins or not.

The Center used Ben Carson as an example. Never had a legitimate shot from the get-go and peaked at about six-percent. Look up the word “loser” in your old dictionary and his picture is right there. No chance. No how. No time.

So, he’s suspending his campaign. “It was a complete waste of time and money,” you say. Well, not exactly. You see, what’s left for Ben is a mailing list of 700,000 campaign donors. A mailing list only he has. A mailing list campaign professionals will pay those big bucks for. A mailing list the National GOP would dearly love to add to its data base.

One thing that makes this list so special is what we’ll call the “uniqueness” of Carson. There are thousands of new names that may never have given a dime to any other campaign at any time. Fresh donor “blood,” so to speak. Names, addresses, phone numbers. Very specific information. Virgin donor territory. Each name worth bucks.

“How much,” you ask? The Center figures each name will sell for a minimum of $5.00. Times 700,000. That’s about $3,500,000. In other words, that computerized list can make ol’ Doc Ben a very rich man.

Those numbers come from Walter Lukens who owns Lukens Company – a direct marketing outfit. He’s got a very long list of politicians including John McCain and Ted Cruz. Now, if Carson is willing to personally sign solicitations for other political committees renting that data base, the price per name goes up. Substantially. Even if he just “rents” the information, Lukens believes Carson can make $4 million or so over the next three years.

In fact, Lukens says “As long as he continues to be a viable spokesman for his unique political perspective, he can make money on that list for ever and ever and ever.” So, he’ll keep up those “chicken dinner” shows. He’s already announced he’ll head a new nom-profit (?) foundation.”

And Larry Ross, speaking for the Carson campaign, said “Dr. Carson intends to stay in public life as long as he continues to receive revenue and support of “We The People…” In plain English, as long as the dollars keep coming in, Carson will play the game.

This is not a new scam. Santorum, Fiorina, Huckabee, Walker, Christie and a bucket full of others have done it many times. The most accomplished grifter has been Gingrich. Newt got into the 2008 and 2012 campaigns without a prayer of winning. But, comparing the cost of his videos, books and speaking fees from 2008 to now, they’ve at least tripled. When he and wife Calista do their “motivational” seminars filled with Newt’s losing B.S., ticket prices are much higher now. They’re “celebrities,” doncha know.

Democrats play the game, too. Jim Webb, Jesse Jackson, et al. In the 2008 election cycle, for instance, the Hillary Clinton campaign committee reported more than $3.1 million in mailing list rental income. “Opportunism” knows no political boundaries.

Another major reason to run even a guaranteed losing race is the pile of money left in campaign coffers when you lose. Now, you can’t put it in your pocket and walk off. Though that’s been tried. And you can’t use it to bail yourself out of trouble. Idaho’s Larry Craig can speak to that.

But you CAN distribute those dollars to the campaigns of “friends.” You can buy yourself some favors from individuals and organizations. You can pick up some I-O-U’s that may be very helpful down the line. Might even “buy” yourself a plum appointment at the public trough. Those leftover campaign bucks can open doors, curry favor or send a publically rejected, failed candidate off on a whole new “career.”

Our founding fathers – part time legislators all – never thought of turning our national political system into a cash cow. Their view was do the job and go home.” It took we greedy descendants to figure out how to use faux patriotism and prostitute the political process for our own nest feathering.

Damn. What a country!

Political destruction

Author: admin

I was sitting in a barbershop the other day as the barber worked on a guy – both facing away from me while they watched the flatulent Donald on Faux Neus.

During one of his repeated oft-repeated lies, I said something like “The guy just can’t stick with the truth about anything.”

The fella in the chair, still facing the other way, asked “What’s the matter? You don’t like Trump?’‘

“I believe he’s the most serious threat our modern political system has had to deal with, “ I replied. “A very dangerous person.”

The guy got up quickly, turned to face me and half-yelled, “Donald Trump is one of the great heroes of our time. He’s the only one out there who gives a damn about us veterans!”

“Trump is a veteran,” I asked?

“Damned right,” the guy said as he walked the 20 feet between us to get right in my face.

“When and where,” I asked?

The guy stopped, fumed, said nothing, then got back in the chair. Later, as he was leaving he said to all, “Trump’s a vet. And I’m a vet. And I’m going to knock on every door in this county to get him elected.”

I asked Barber Don to change the channel. He did.

Trump is no veteran. He was kicked out of three high schools so his father sent him to a military academy. That – and multiple deferments during the Viet Nam war – are as close as he ever came to vet-dom.

I use this slice of small town, seaside life, to help illustrate what’s coming which is this: I believe Donald Trump has done irreparable damage to our system of presidential elections. We will never look at the process in the same way again. And we may never elect a president the same way again. Trump – outright lies, false claims, obscenities and all – has infected millions of people like the guy in the barbershop. He’s making a mockery of a centuries old system of selecting a president – a commander-in-chief – and convinced millions of people his lies are truth and truth is anything his “followers” believe it to be. Or, they don’t care.

Complicit in this political destruction, I believe, is the National Republican Party. By standing idly by as 24 mostly unqualified and untalented people put themselves before the country to run for president, the GOP failed to advance and fully support someone – or several someones – who had the necessary skills to become president. Preibus and the other GOP moolah’s stayed out of the fray, vastly underestimated Trump and abrogated any responsibility for assuring the party had viable and qualified candidates.

Democrats have little to crow about, either. The closest Bernie Sanders – with his avowed but universally misunderstood Socialist label – is likely to get to the White House is to join someone’s protest picket line on Constitution Avenue in 2017. Secretary Clinton – qualified without doubt – comes to her candidacy carrying so much baggage she needs a dozen personal porters. Baggage Trump – or any other eventual GOP nominee – will use to beat her bloody and undercut her candidacy daily.

There’s even more blame for an intransigent Congress led by people who long ago lost sight of their own small roles in our Republic or how to conduct themselves and the affairs of this nation to benefit the people who put them there. They, too, helped create a Trump.

The far right has no corner on uninformed – dare we say ignorant – voters by the millions. The liberal contingent to left of the Democrat center has been producing it’s own falsity and peddling some ill-founded claims.

The plain truth is a huge block of Americans – maybe more than half – knows little more about the candidates of either party than they see on TV or hear in conversation with equally uninformed friends. Evidence of lack of basic knowledge of our government is everywhere – from high school campuses to retirement homes. Breeding ground for “Trumps.”

Try it yourself. Ask people around you: when (to the nearest 10 yeas) was “In God We Trust” added to our money – when (to the nearest 10 years) were the words “under God” added to our Pledge of Allegiance – how many justices on the U.S. Supreme Court – what’s the capitol city of Alabama, New Hampshire, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Tennessee – what did the slogan “54-40 or fight” mean – find Afghanistan on a world map – how many voting members are there in the U.S. Congress?

I don’t know if P.T. Barnum really said “never underestimate the ignorance of the public” as the story goes. But he made a damned big impact doing just that! So is Trump.

Voters – especially this year – are awash in political lies, deliberate misinformation, half-truths and false claims. Both national political parties have contributed greatly by not producing fully vetted – and qualified – candidates. So have several generations of public and higher education by not making extensive knowledge of citizenship required learning from first grade through grad schools. Across the board, citizens of this country know a lot less of their government than those of other nations. Proof of that is not hard to find.

But it’s Trump who creates the most fear for our national future at the moment. Like a 9-point earthquake under a glass factory, he’s shaking and breaking the foundation of rules, traditions, protocols and requirements for an orderly political process to select the head of government for this nation and begin transition to a new administration.
His complicit handmaiden is the national media. The pursuit of ratings points – read advertising dollars – has made whores of CNN, MSNBC and the always unreliable Fox News. Trump’s candidacy is being treated like the “second coming” as networks follow his travels with cameras at the ready and breathless anchors worshiping his over-the-top pronouncements whether they contain a grain of truth or are pure B.S..

National print media has been only slightly less worshipful. Some efforts have been made to separate Trump’s wheat from Trump’s chaff but not nearly enough. Hate radio has daily relayed lie after false claim after mindless personal attack – convincing loyal followers that Trump – and Cruz to a lesser degree – will “make American great again.”

At the moment, though he’s totally unfit and completely unqualified, it’s hard to see how Trump can be denied the Republican nomination. It’s about a lock. Counting delegate noses, it’s nearly impossible to see anyone but Clinton coming out of the Democrat convention. If that’s the ticket in September, bookies in Vegas will likely put their money on Trump. In some spots, they already are.

Donald Trump is a danger to our national security that the founding fathers never saw coming. A former national security chief is already openly describing how the U.S. military might have to disobey and oppose a future President Trump.

He’s heavily damaged a political process. It’s equally possible he could damage an entire nation before it’s over.

You hear a lot of talk these days of the need for a “constitutional convention” to take up this-that-or-the-other subject. Often, this is followed by some sort of simplistic statement that such action would be “no big deal” and “the longer we put it off the harder it will be.”

Well, as in most chatter dealing with changing our founding documents, it would be a much bigger deal to get done than most folks think. For two reasons. It’s never been done and no one can agree for what purpose. A single subject? Or many? How many? If once called, would it ever end?

Yes, Article V of our Constitution says either Congress can do it or the states can if two-thirds of them agree on the need. What’s at odds is that single subject unknown – or many. And that’s the stickler.

There are two schools of legal thought. First, many scholars argue for the wide-open convention. Suppose you wanted to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget be set by Congress each session. Just that. Only that. Whether called for that purpose by Congress or two-thirds of the states, these legal eagles say delegates could go off on any subject and the whole thing could devolve into a real mess. Suddenly, there are abortion rights, women’s health, immigration or campaign spending and hundreds of delegates pulling in every direction.

The other thinking is all in attendance would be requied to stick to the one subject stated in “the call.” Problem is, once the gavel sounds to get things going, who enforces the one issue agenda? Under what authority? There’s been no test resulting in a black-and-white rule, either.

The last federal convention was in 1787 when Congress set up this whole idea. Founding fathers had required all 13 states agree on a single issue. Good thought. Impossible to achieve. Delegates argued over lots of ways to fix things but finally settled on Congress convening a convention unilaterally or at the behest of two-thirds of the states. Period.

But the issue of scope for such gatherings was never put to bed. Suppose two-thirds want a convention. That meets the legal requirement. But what if, in those requests, there’s more than one subject? Two-thirds agree on the need for the convention but not on what business is to be done. Does Congress act or wait until 34 states settle on a single subject?

Other legal voices think the two-thirds threshold is fine but subject matter would have to be confined to a single topic. Good theory. Never tested.

Fact is, an Article V convention requested by the states has never been called for these very reasons. The current Constitution says Congress “shall” call them when the required number of states petition, but it does not say for what purpose or how many purposes.

There have been two fairly recent efforts to use the Constitution’s “Necessary and Proper” clause to deal with the issue. Twice in the 1970’s, the Senate unanimously approved the idea. Both times, it died in the House. How little times have changed.

So, the subject of convening a Constitutional Convention is a lot murkier than most folks believe. And the thought of a “runaway convention” with dozens of subjects, hundreds of delegates and thousands of votes terrifies the best constitutional lawyers. Not to mention a few nervous politicians.

Further, if such a free-wheeling event did end, whatever actions were taken would have to be ratified by two-thirds of the states. Any bets on that?

All 27 amendments to the U.S. Constitution have been done by Congress. States have held their own conventions to deal with their own documents more than 600 times with relatively little fuss.

So, if you’re worried about the 1st, 2nd, 4th or 15th or any other amendment to the federal Constitution being changed while you sleep, forget it. Only in your dreams.