I’m a “repeat offender” when it comes to criticizing the national media. There’s so much wrong there that at least some of my anger must have some merit. This time, the whole mess of ‘em are mucking through something that will, eventually, change us all as consumers.

Having been a very small part of it many years ago, I learned a lot and am happy for the opportunity – lucky to have had the experience. Maybe that’s a big part of why I use this space to rant against some of the current practitioners from time to time. “Been there. Done that.” So, when they screw up, it touches a reflexive nerve which brings out the angry reaction. I’ve got one of those reactions going now. But, this time it’s different. Angry AND uncertain.

Not many in today’s media crowd were around in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s when I was learning the craft. Their early training and mine are a couple of generations apart. Oh, some of the basics are still the same i.e. who, what, where, when, why and how. Still gotta have all that.

Then we – and they as youngsters – went through the Watergate era where the most prized reporting came to those doing “investigative journalism.” Woodward, Bernstein, Mike Wallace et al. Dig out the dirt, confront the bad guys and make major headlines. Or a 10 minute “package” leading the evening’s national TV news. Journalism turned a sharp corner then, and the “who, what, where…” guys largely disappeared. So did a lot of “getting it right” with facts before being the bearer of constantly “breaking news.” Damn, how I hate that phrase!

Now, another “sharp corner” is being turned. Labeling public officials – up to and including the President of the United States – liars. Which – on a daily and often hourly basis – he, and nearly all the appointed minions who “speak” for him, are. Without question.

Most of the “street” reporters in the national media are less than 50-years-old. Such training as they received was much different than us older types had in the ‘50’s, ‘60’s and ‘70’s. That – and Trump”s continuing reprehensible public conduct – has resulted in a very different “code of conduct” between them and news makers.

Case in point: Richard Nixon. I didn’t like Nixon when he was in Congress in the ‘50’s. He was a liar then, just as he was in the presidency. He felt persecuted, disrespected, undervalued and cursed with being a perpetual “outsider” in Washington. All of which he carried into the White House years later.

My limited, working contact with him was usually as a weekend reporter or subbing for regular, daily beat reporters. Also had a couple of minor personal occasions to be in his presence. Each time, my innards churned with disrespect. A lot of contemporaries felt the same. But nearly all of us played our different roles professionally and – all in all – until Watergate, respectfully. If not for him, then for the office. But we knew he often lied. Big time.

Now, the next generation of reporters is faced with Donald Trump – the most unqualified, unprepared, unskilled and biggest misfit ever to hold the office of President. To that can be added his penchant for distortion and outright lying on a daily basis. And, his selection and use of people equally unskilled at their jobs who share the same distasteful habit of publically – and often – speaking “truth” as they see fit to create it.

Trump operated in the same dishonest manner for nearly two years of the national campaign. For a long time, he wasn’t openly challenged for his regular, daily “untruths” by a media not used to dealing with an openly confident, perpetual liar at that level.

Then, editors and others in charge of content for broadcasters and print, had to make some decisions. Should they continue to avoid or soft-pedal the daily torrent of lies and, thus, become complicit in passing them on to viewers and readers as fact? Should they employ fact-checkers and give the job of separating truth from fiction to them? Or, should they step outside the boundary of simply reporting and call the torrent of lies what they were? Lies!

Though the media is currently held in very low esteem by much of the American public, I can tell you, from experience, a lot of good scotch and considerable bourbon was consumed, a lot of sleep was lost and a lot of professional soul-searching was done by some very dedicated people. To openly challenge the voices and the blatant lies would forever change the honored – and mostly respected – balance between government officials and media. The relationship would never be the same.

The resulting decision for nearly all media has been to label this administration’s lies for what they are – lies. Not just once in awhile. Not just when the lie is a big one. Not just for spite. Not just for anybody but the President. A lie is a lie is a lie is a lie. Anytime. And anyone.

To my mind, this puts us on a whole new path. Those who persist in lying are going to be called on it – regardless of who they are. At least nationally. And the national media, once simply an institutional reporting source, has become a daily arbiter of fact.

Will this continue when Trump and his minions are gone? No one knows. But, that sweeping difference in one of our most significant national institutional relationships is what exists today.

I’m not comfortable with that. But it is what it is.

Doing my own laundry

Author: admin

Despite the oft-quoted “wisdom” of the young, there are some things you really can’t talk knowledgeably about in life until you’ve lived a good many years. Gotten lots of rings on your trunk, as it were. One such subject is the dignity of work.

I’m a people watcher. Guess it’s part of the old reporter instinct – always keeping an eye on folks on the street, in a store, a fast food joint, the doctor’s office, church or … well, just anyplace. But, because of my four-score-plus years, it’s the older ones I’ve been noticing more lately.

When I say “older,” I mean 65 and up – people who’ve retired or reached the age when they could retire if financially able. Which not everyone is. Just because you physically reach 65, that doesn’t mean retirement is automatic. And Social Security? Few of us could live on the $1,200 or so a month which is the national average. That ain’t living.

So, lots of grayhairs work. Some because we have to – some because we want to – some because that’s what we’ve considered a normal part of living during a long life. It’s where we find value and a sense of self-worth. Maybe a little extra money is nice but having a place to go – a time to be there – a task to complete – those may be as important. Or more so.

Oregon has many fine things to offer. But not legally being able to pump your own gas isn’t one of ‘em in most of the state. So, there are several examples of seniors working at the station I frequent. Just above minimum wage and no more than 20 hours weekly. No benefits, either.

One guy is retired military. Probably Marines. Always a fresh buzz cut – stout physical frame – deliberate moves when working – looks you right in the eye. Another one appears retired from business or corporate life. Short but very fit stature. Wears black slacks and white shirt like the rest but his look is tailored, black shoes shined, haircut just the right length – always. And always calls me “Mr. Rainey.” These two work, I’d guess, because they have done so all their lives, it’s important to stay active and the extra few dollars are great but not the driving force. The kid with the tattoos, an ear ring and a bad complexion while listlessly pumping gas – who knows?

Across town at a fast food joint, a small, plump woman, probably of Italian heritage – 70+ with jet black hair piled high on her head and always with a colorful comb tucked in. Light makeup. Her uniform seems to fit better than the others because she likely tailored it herself. Always a pleasant word for strangers as she empties garbage cans, mops floors or cleans public restrooms. Always! Probably working mostly for the money.

At another fast food spot in town, a guy in his 70’s with the obligatory uniform complete with the ridiculous little cap on his head. He dusts things off a lot and looks like he’d rather be anyplace else. Any place. Never says a word. When a 20-something manager gives him a task, you can see hurt – if not disgust – on the guy’s face. He needs the $500-600 a month. Needs it.

There’s a 70-something guy where I get my oil changes. Greets, washes windows and checks air in the tires. They won’t let him down in the pit area. The ladder climb is bad for his legs. He doesn’t talk much but, when he does, it’s bad grammar and often a complaint about weather, politics or something else. I’d guess he’s probably related to the kid manager who tolerates the attitude because the senior family member needs the money.

These are people that come to mind when some blowhard member of Congress – making $175,000 a year plus health insurance, expense account and staff – makes threats to cut Social Security, Medicare or some other senior-earned entitlement. The mouth runs but the brain has no concept of the guys at the gas station – the lady and the fella cleaning fast food joint restrooms – the 70-something washing my windshield.

These are people who work. Some because they have to. Some because they want to. All of them – ALL are products of the 30’s-40’s-50’s who grew up learning to work, having to work, knowing they would likely always have to. They don’t think about “entitlements.” They work now because they need the small, extra income or because they want to – some because they need something outside themselves that adds value to their lives. Maybe the value of dollars. Maybe the value of still participating and staying active. Maybe just the value of the work.

The old know it. The young will learn it. The people I know who seem to have the most meaning in their lives are the busiest. Some for money. Some for just the work itself. It’s called dignity.

On a dreary coastal morning, that sort of dignity can even help you get through doing your own laundry.

Theft of a nation

Author: admin

“That’s all I can stands.
I can stands no more.”

Popeye, Philosopher

For several weeks, I’ve avoided the “elephant in the room.” I’ve tried to opine about – and have fun with – a number of subjects without referring directly or indirectly to our interim President. With his name and likeness everywhere, and with his massively covered, lying bombast filling the media, it’s been difficult.

But, as in the words of the spinach eating philosopher cited above – and with precisely that feeling – “I can stands no more.”

For some weeks following the 2016 election, I tried to put a best face on the situation. I kidded myself that, sooner or later, wise and responsible heads would exercise both wisdom and responsibility to straighten out the mess and return the troll to his rightful place under the nearest bridge. They haven’t. And kidding myself is no longer providing effective mental relief.

Following the election, for many political watchers, conventional wisdom was a fear that someone in the Oval Office, with not a day of political experience, would screw up working the machinery of the job. That was quickly followed by a second widely held belief he would commit a series of major mistakes which would draw some of the Republican pros to his side to help him get a handle on things.

Neither has happened.

In the first instance, with rare exception, nearly every Trump decision made and action taken were previewed in the presidential campaign. What he’s done, most often, is what he said he’d do. Clumsy though he may be. But the executive orders, what few policy decisions there have been, appointments made and actions taken – most were foretold. The feared ignorance has been, for the most part, actions of someone with absolute determination to have his own way, regardless of both laws to the contrary and unintended outcomes. Not ignorance.

In the second instance, GOPers who could bail him out have shunned the opportunity. Some have even tried to use his ignorance and elephant-sized ego for their own ends. Evidence of that was the near unanimous and speedy Republican confirmation of his cabinet full of misfits, crooks and self-serving billionaires. The most unfit bunch ever appointed to top positions of government authority in our national history.

Additional proof of using Trump for Republican self-service came when Mitch McConnell blew aside 240 years of bipartisanship, history and tradition to put Judge Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court. There was nothing so important in the Gorsuch nomination that it required the rupture of the system of judicial – and other – appointments in the conduct of the U.S. Senate. Nothing. Feeding his own oversized sense of self-worth, McConnell has fundamentally changed how our legislative system will function for all time if not corrected.

Being four score years for the first time, I’m not sure how much of my thinking these days is due to age or other factors like predisposition. But I’ve recently had this desperate feeling we’re losing our country. That factors which seem out of anyone’s control are destroying values and traditions we grew up with and have traditionally lived by.

Advancing technology, increased scientific knowledge, new experiences, changing climate and geographic variables combine to alter conditions around us all the time. But it feels like more than that. Foundations on which this nation has stood for 250 years seem in flux – seem in danger of decay or disillusion. Traditionally unchanging factors of national pride, loyalty, fidelity, trust, sympathy, citizenship, accomplishment seem less valued and often ignored in the relationship between individuals and our current governance.

In fact, our system of government actually seems to have changed from representative to authoritarian. The idea that we elect others to represent us in matters of the conduct of state seems to have devolved into us becoming something to be ignored and “represented” only the second Tuesday in November.

This is not a time when we can afford a megalomaniac in the front office as the Syrian bombing proves. We do not want – and can’t afford – sycophants who enable an egomaniacal leader to carry out his own fantasies without defiance.

It’s been 100 days, give or take. We’re already launching missiles against another country without Constitutional authority, actively treating climate change – which can end civilization – as though it were a parlor game, denying food and shelter to millions in our nation deemed unworthy of care, threatening the quality of air, water and other resources necessary for life on this planet, denying rights of citizenship to minorities guaranteed those benefits, rewriting tax policies to reward billionaires for simply being rich, threatening the foundation of our nation’s public education system, denying national entry to diverse peoples whose ancestors built this country, using the taxpayer as a family’s personal piggy bank and more.

This is not the country I grew up in. It’s becoming one I don’t know and am growing increasingly uncomfortable living in. And those who have the power to change it seem to have no interest in doing so.

Eclipse clipping

Author: admin

For better or worse, we live on the central Oregon coast. There’s nothing really special about it – except the Pacific Ocean keeps us from driving West.

We seldom make the news. Unless people are talking about the Cascadia plate or a “killer tsunami.” Then we’re usually referred to as the “doomed” or “dearly departed.”

But, come August 21st, we’re gonna have something special here. Seems we’ll be smack in the middle of a track for a very rare, major solar eclipse. The path will make a large curve heading Southeast as it moves over us. Idaho will see some of it as will a piece of Utah. But in our neighborhood, we’ll be blacked out for a couple of minutes – about 10:17am we’re told. And that’s making for a lot of excitement. And price gouging.

Costs for motels and dining around here are usually divided into two categories – Memorial Day to Labor Day (higher) and Labor Day to Memorial Day (high, but not so high). The only exception is Spring Break which lasts two weeks because Oregon, Idaho and Washington operate on different attendance schedules.

But the eclipse. Ah, the blessed eclipse. As a headline in our local weekly put it the other day, “Eclipse promises to be a money-maker.” Well, that depends.

Let’s take lodging. In the off-season, a standard motel room (two queen beds, bath and microwave) usually run $150 to $275 a night. Pretty standard. But, at least one local non-oceanfront outfit is up to $1,000 for a room for eclipse night that normally goes for $170 that time of year. $1,000! And they’re getting it.

Another is charging just $320. BUT – you’re charged for a five night minimum. Which makes the tab $1,600! Then, all of these places tack on a local transient room tax of 11% a night.

One other eclipse screwing that locks my jaw. Some of the lodging outfits are cancelling reservations made many months ago for that time – a lot of ‘em by people who come back year after year. Not only cancelling, but then having the guts to offer to re-register at the higher rate! I know what I’d tell ‘em. And it ain’t polite!

Not all local outfits are jumping on the price gouging wagon. My favorite place, for example, (with by far the best food and ocean views) is increasing the overnight by just $36.

But this whole business doesn’t end there. City officials are talking 50,000 tourists over at least a 48 hour period. Try to rent a porta-potty within 150 miles anytime during eclipse week. Can’t be done. All law enforcement agencies are calling in volunteers and the reserves and cancelling all time off for that period. Garbage service will be working overtime. Fire departments and ambulance services will be fully staffed.

And who’ll pay all the extra costs for all those service an emergency providers? Who? We do. The taxpayers who live here. We get the tab for all the extra overtime.

And who’ll struggle with the highway gridlock up and down U.S. 101 for several days? WHO? WE DO. Those of us who live here and who didn’t ask for this damned eclipse to come anywhere near.

I’d just as soon this eclipse thing was up or down the coast by 200 miles or so. Leave us the hell alone! We don’t want it.

But – if you’re determined to make the trip to our edge-of-the-Pacific-neighborhood, you can rent our house for the day. $2,000. Up front. We’ll be in Salem. Oh, and feed the dog.

A Texas gotcha

Author: admin

If you’ve spent a goodly portion of life reporting/commiserating about politicians, you probably have some little hidden quirk about the species. I’ve got one. Mine is thoroughly enjoying the self-created angst as they stick a foot in a bear trap when what was called for was “mind your own damned business.”

If you watch a lot of Republicans recently – especially the subspecies of “born agains” – such enjoyable hoist-on-your-own petard moments are not hard to find. Especially in Texas.

That arrogant, too often mindless subspecies was on display from Austin to Chugwater regularly. There appears to be a sizeable cell of ‘em in Frisco, Texas. Frisco is a smallish burg of about 161,000 that stradles Collin and Denton counties, about 40 miles outside Dallas. It was the fastest growing city in the nation from 2000-2009.

Frisco, thanks to a high school principal with some smarts, is the site of my latest enjoyment of watching a completely off-base pol getting cut off at the mental pass. Actually, several pols.

Several years ago, teachers told Frisco’s Liberty High School Principal Scott Warstler Muslim students were missing several hours of class daily. Just getting up and walking out of classes a few minutes before noon and not getting back till after one. Warstler checked and ‘twas so.

What he found was the Muslim kids were going home or to mosque for midday prayers. In either case, they were traveling several miles going and coming. Warstler, ever resourceful, started thinking.

He remembered Room C112. It was a small, spare classroom that had been used for all sorts of other things for years. Teachers spent time there grading papers when they had a break. And Buddhist kids did their meditation in C112. Why not Muslims?

He did some checking. Kids were OK with that. So, C112 soon added another world religion and Muslim kids – and Catholics and Presbyterians and anybody with a faith claim – worked out a schedule with the Muslims and the Buddhists. Everybody happy!

Until a born again parent got wind of it and contacted the Texas Attorney Generals’ office. Not the principal. Not the school district. The ultra-right, GOP AG. And an overzealous deputy therein fired off a letter. He said “It appears the prayer room is dedicated to the needs of (only) some students.” He later admitted those “some students” were Muslim.

The Texas AG, already running for governor and anxious to slay a liberal, surefire vote-getting dragon, also sent out a news release to the media the same day the letter was written. He denounced the “prayer room for excluding other faiths.” “Texas Constitutional violation,” he publically opined. It wasn’t.

All this without any Texas AG legal eagle journeying from Austin to Frisco to check things out. “Fact finding,” as it were. Had a few hours been spent on the four-lane, he/she and the ultra-conservative “friends” would have known what the hell was going on. Not to be.

Oh, one more tidbit. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott – something of a loon himself – quickly responding to that same fringe group, firing off a very public tweet quoting his deputy’s letter and echoing the same Constitutional B.S. Again, no checking. I call it “Trump Tweeting.” Hang the subject – then have a trial.

Frisco School Supt. Jeremy Lyon did some research, then a little media work of his own. “The ‘press release’ appears to be a publicity stunt by the Attorney General to politicize a nonissue,” he wrote in HIS media update. “The Frisco District is greatly concerned this type of inflammatory rhetoric in the current climate may place the District, students, staff and community in danger of unnecessary disruption.” Period.

The plain fact is Room C112 is open to all students of any religion – as it had been from the get-go – for any purpose whatsoever. Pray. Meditate. Study. Read a Bible or a Koran. Do a religious crossword. And the state “investigation” didn’t start until two weeks after a story about the success of the “prayer room” appeared in the school newspaper.

Frisco administration is still trying to figure out what the hell the AG’s office was all excited about, what real information it had (if any) and who the “concerned citizens” were (if any). A letter to the AG went unanswered. Well, imagine that.

Frisco District Spokesman Chris Moore says the district still doesn’t know what all the fuss was about. “We hadn’t been contacted by any right-wing groups, left-wing groups or in-between groups so getting the questions from the attorney general was surprising.”

Whatever. Moore says Room C112 will be open for prayers as usual come Monday. Just as it has been for years. Until that little school newspaper story about its success caused a hubbub.

Don’t you just love it when some publicity-hungry politicians get caught with their shorts in a lock? And their clay feet are exposed up to that hole in their chest where most of us have a heart?

I’m sorry, O.K.?

Author: admin

The time has come to offer my Republican friends an apology. A really sincere apology. Like a lot of opiners, I’ve been guilty of painting the GOP with a very broad brush lately. And, to their oft-expressed dismay, these folk feel lumped in with the bad guys of their political persuasion. I really didn’t mean that. I’m sorry. O.K.?

It’s easy to do – this lumping. After all, there isn’t much of a Republican Party left that can be readily administratively identified. The “members” you hear most about these days are those in Congress. Or that dangerous, temporary President fella.

The intended recipients of my apology have nothing in common with those Potomac folk. They’re good people – living good lives – doing good works – raising good families – making good contributions to their communities. Nothing like those similarly labeled “Republicans” in Congress.

Again, I apologize for speaking/writing so loosely that it appeared to conflate one group with the other.

Nearly all of us were raised to understand we lived under a “representative” system of government. We were taught it began with us voting for a member of a governing body who most closely represented our thinking about issues. Further, we were expected to keep them informed of how we wanted things done and they were expected to respond accordingly to a majority of us. Representing us, as it were. And it really worked as designed for a very long time. Always seemed a good and efficient way to run a country.

But, in recent years, that governing concept has disappeared. It went from us telling them how we wanted things handled to them telling us to “go to Hell” and doing whatever they damned-well pleased. It’s happened in both parties to some degree. It’s happened most completely with Republicans in Congress. Which is why I feel obligated to apologize to my GOP friends at home who, like me, still believe in that representative system we were raised with. They’re not part of the problem. They’re being ignored just like the rest of us.

I could take up a lot of column inches enumerating all the issues in which GOP members of Congress have told us lately to “stick it!” But you already know a lot of ‘em. No, let’s just deal with the largest one – the one they’re hellbent on running with – the one they haven’t got a chance of winning on their present course. Health care reform.

More than eight in 10 of us, according to several years of national polling, have said “Don’t – DO NOT – repeal the Affordable Care Act Don’t do it!” “FIX IT,” we told ‘em. We’ve even told ‘em which parts we want to keep – insure the previously uninsurable – keep kids on parent’s policies – remove lifetime dollar caps – stop increasing premiums until they’re unaffordable – no Medicaid denial to selected individuals, etc.

But, instead of listening and acting appropriately, they’ve raised a collective middle digit, turned their backs on us and literally demolished what we told them we wanted and wrote something certain to die aborning. They even came up with personal tax breaks just for CEO’s of health insurance companies already making millions in self-enrichment.

What they created was so grotesque doctors, hospitals, financial institutions, labor unions, patient advocacy groups – just about everybody involved in anyway with health care – rejected the “Rosemary’s Baby” they created.

Did they hear us before acting? Sure they did. But they also heard the siren’s song of billionaires with money. Lots of money. Money to finance primary elections. Money to build up campaign coffers. Money to assure their continued, uninterrupted federal employment as “the peoples’ representatives.”

The fact is, many of these GOP “peoples’ representatives” fear a healthy, balanced primary contest more than they do a few angry voters. It’s that fear – coupled with fat cats with fat checkbooks – that’s killed what was our representative form of government.

These are the same “public-be-damned” S-O-B’s who backed an ignorant and dangerous President by affirming the most seemingly corrupt, most intellectually vacant governing cabinet in our history. They did it with the same “facts be damned” attitude they exhibited when violating our instructions to be careful with health care reform. And with the same extended middle digit!

My Republican friends deserve an apology. Not being billionaires, they’re suffering the same congressional contempt as the rest of us. And, ironically, they’re the only ones who can fix it. ‘Cause they’re the only ones who vote in the Republican primaries. They’re the only ones who pick the Republican candidates. They’re the only ones who can cut the idiots and self-servers out of the herd.

So, I’m sorry. Now, get up off your collective Republican ass and go to work!

Costly slight of hand

Author: admin

Awaiting the eventual end of an American Presidency is a rare experience for the younger of us. Only other such occasions in my lifetime were the death watches for Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon. You knew it was coming. Only date and hour were missing.

As we hold the same “wait-for-the-hour” session for Trump, I’ve come to a new appreciation for his seemingly random method of operation. Misdirection, it’s called in the craft. While making an ass of himself in the headlines, his minions – and those similarly inclined in the leadership of what was the Republican Party in Congress – are quietly gutting some very important programs. With the daily melodrama of his “presidency,” we hardly notice. He’s that good.

You could make a good list of what’s being undone as we look the other way. Gutting EPA regulations (thus protections), slashing important and necessary professionals off the payroll at the State Department (thus much-needed experience and expertise), gagging all federal personnel down to the cleaning crews in agency after agency with threats of job terminations for violators, ending major research projects dealing in science and health and the list goes on.

One such misdirection play of recent days is likely to cause serious harm to some of us in Northwest states. Especially Idaho and Oregon. And that’s the Muslim immigration ban. Ironically, it’s likely to hit a lot of Trump supporters in small towns therein.

Our part of the country has benefitted greatly from a federally-backed program which brings a goodly number of foreign doctors to our most rural and low income areas. And by rural, the feds are including some pretty good-sized places like Salem, Boise, Yakima, Spokane and Nampa-Caldwell. One of my own current physicians is from Ethiopia and he’s a good one.

Foreign doctors are offered some very good enticements to come to America and practice for several years in rural and medically under-served communities. Enticements like paying off medical school loans and other benefits. But a new survey by Harvard Medical and MIT has found the Muslim ban is going to greatly reduce the flow of applicants. Not just from the six banned countries but several others who worry about overall changing immigration policies. The Association of Medical Colleges is projecting the loss of hundreds of new docs yet this year alone.

While the newcomers tend to settle most in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Michigan, we Westerners attract our share. In 2010, more than 25 percent of doctors and surgeons practicing in this country were foreign-born.

Oh, and something else. Trump’s also ended an expedited process which sped up approval of H1-B visas granted to highly skilled foreign workers. That’s part of the entry hurdle for physicians who complete their medical residencies and ultimately go into practice here. It also affects a lot of high tech folks.

Here’s another personal medical experience that relates. I’ve been referred to a neurologist for an examination over in the Willamette Valley. The earliest appointment? Three months out no matter the symptoms! Clinics are closing. Physicians are quitting. Others will take no new patients. Uncertainty about the political future has got to figure into some of their decisions.

The loss isn’t only in medical students. Grad departments in science and engineering claim student applications for many programs have declined by 20 to 30 percent for 2017. Partly because of the ban but also because of the uncertainty of what the hell Trump will do next.

This is just one of the important government functions being gutted by Trump and Republicans in Congress. He keeps the media mystified with craziness on the nightly news while the GOP bandits behind the scenes do their dirty work. The fine art of misdirection.

And finally, if you think no detail is too small to get the attention of government-castrating Republicans with budget knives to our throats, I give you exhibit ”B.” An excellent example of whose “health” concerns them. Not you and me. That’s for damned sure!

No, it’s those millionaire health insurance company CEO’s. The ones just struggling to get by. Tucked inside the GOP health care “replacement” is a special little gift for these indentured “servants.” A personal income tax reduction on their “paltry” earnings.

Misdirection? Not on your life!

A petulant POTUS

Author: admin

There used to be a fun, entertaining social fixture on the Washington D.C. annual event calendar called “The White House Correspondent’s Dinner.” A night to get duded up, shove some job resume’s in your breast pocket, enjoy some good food and a show at the Shoreham Hotel, have a toddy or two and mingle with the Who’s Who of the national media business. Alas, no more.

The fun, the entertainment, the food and drink, the job hunting and a few hours rubbing shoulders with network news big shots effectively died when some idiot – maybe more than one – turned it into a televised prime time “special.” “Special” it ain’t.

Really enjoyable professional media comradery left the room the first time that happened. “Celebrities” became the focus. Some on the way up – many on the way down – and some you never heard of. Too many of ‘em with no firsthand knowledge of the edgy relationship between politicians and media. So a lot of comedic material with a good bite to it went right over their coiffed heads.

Media and politicos used to make up the audience. You’d put on a tux – mine were always rented and looked like it. You were allowed – but not especially encouraged – to bring a guest. Entertainment was always first class. For the two I attended, headliners were Pearl Bailey and George Carlin.

But, for many reporters in the large crowd, the most interesting hours came after the formal event ended. That’s when many of us in the ranks toured the suites sponsored by CBS, NBC, ABC, and many large, regional broadcasters. The hors d’oeuvres were good and the booze free. You could spend a few minutes chatting with Mike Wallace or Harry Reasoner, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings or others from the “nets.” You might even get a resume’ in the hands of just the right producer or corporate news VP.

It’s been many years since my “tour of the suites” and I’d guess not a lot of that goes on now. What was a damned good evening is now a TV “reality” show meat market for those who like reality unreal.

The spotlighted guest at the head table for many, many years has been the President of the United States. Only one in the last 70 or so years that didn’t show up was Reagan . His limp excuse – somebody tried to kill him. But, even then, he called in from his hospital bed to crack a few one-liners and receive a lot of warm applause. A pro. Never had done a standing ovation for a phone call till that time.

Even Nixon – a guy who hated the press and who generally reaped the same feeling from most of us media folk – even Nixon showed up. He took a lot of shots. And he gave a lot. Most in the audience had little regard for the man. But they had to give him a lot of credit for just being there. Especially toward the end of his White House days. It couldn’t have been fun. Or easy.

Trump says he won’t go this year. Which is fine. And not unexpected. He’s been in the audience for a couple previously. Took some public jabs and hated it. You could see it on his face. The ego he carries is huge and tender as a baby’s butt. If he can’t have top billing and the final word, he won’t play. Again, that’s fine.

The Association is talking about inviting Barack Obama. I hope they don’t. He made several dinners while in office. Good writing, a natural sense of humor and excellent timing made his moments very entertaining. Something Trump could never do. They’re also talking of cancelling the evening. Again, hope they don’t.

No, what I’d like to see is an empty chair right next to the podium where Trump would normally sit if he had the guts. Might even put a spotlight on it. Just the empty chair. That would say more than any comedian. Just a hot light. And that empty chair.

The Association raises a lot of bucks with this annual event. After expenses, most of the money goes for scholarships at journalism schools. Good program. Helps a lot of deserving kids.

No, “the show must go on” as Irving Berlin said. With or without a POTUS. If the nation can struggle through without one, so can the Correspondent’s Association.

What rule of law?

Author: admin

When future historians write of these years in which we’re living, the common thread will likely be how divided – how splintered – how fractured – was our nation and nearly all political, cultural and societal relationships within its structure. How could they not?

Pick your own example for those historians. Pick a national subject like politics. Or a personal subject like religion. Pick almost any “Mom and Apple Pie” topic. You’ll almost certainly get an argument from somebody.

Divisions are open and deep. Even those who’ve been saying “Give him/them/someone a chance” have quieted down. Public debate has largely lost all tones of civility and courtesy while respect for a different viewpoint is as hard to find as truth in the White House.

No one knows how all this will shake out. But it will. Eventually.

There’s one area of our current trials of divisiveness I don’t hear much about – the subject of the rule of law. In my four score years, the rule of law has been a constant. Whatever the issue – whomever the protagonists – however divided – constancy of the law was simply taken for granted. Disrespect it – break it – ignore it – and there were consequences.

Now, our lives are filled with individuals, political entities and even government itself flouting the law and, seemingly, getting away with it.

A few years back, many county sheriffs across the country decided not to enforce any new gun laws – state or federal. They announced to all – including the federal government – that if its duly appointed agents came into the various states to enforce new laws, they’d be arrested and jailed. The rule of law? Ignored.

More recently, in Southern Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Montana and elsewhere, federal agents attempting to enforce federal laws on BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands, were faced by armed civilians who wouldn’t be moved and law enforcement backed down. In one case in Oregon, even the regional BLM office was closed and the agents transferred. Trespassing? Armed insurgence? Rule of law?

Several major cities across the country – and the entire states of New York and California – have told the President and the Department of Justice they will ignore federal orders and continue to be “sanctuaries” for illegal immigrants. Rule of law?

Washington State Governor Inslee has issued an order telling state employees not to follow federal executive orders on immigration. Oregon’s Brown is doing much the same. What of the rule of law?

There are dozens more examples. The law says one thing; local government says another. Feds say “do this” and other elected officials say “No.”

There are laws on the books of various levels of government I haven’t agreed with for years. There’ve been regulations by the pile I’ve not liked most of my adult life. Our “unfit-for-any-public-office” President has been throwing executive orders this way and that for over a month. Haven’t found one yet that seems necessary and deserving of my obedience. And he’s been flouting the law and the Constitution even as he holds elected office

But – what about the rule of law? Without it – without all of us respecting and following our laws – where is this nation heading? What will be our national future if the various parts that make up the whole of our government pick and choose which laws will be followed and which ignored?

The guy sitting in the Oval Office today has the respect of only a minority of Americans. A significant majority wants him gone. He’s the punch line of social media – the butt of comedians everywhere. He’s unsuited for his job and has surrounded himself with equally unqualified minions who seem scared to death of the guy. He’s frightened and confused heads of government around the world. Honesty, integrity, moral character and respect for the office have become victims of continual lies about everything. Then, there’s his top aide, Steve Bannon, using Trump for his own purposes.

In short, the President himself has created an atmosphere which makes respect for him and his pronouncements impossible to accept by others who are far more equal to their public tasks. Many have reached a point they can no longer accept guidance from someone so obviously flawed who represents thinking antithetical to good and proper governing. Many are refusing to obey.

The rule of law is what’s at stake here. The foundation of a civilized society and the basic precept that creates the order in which that society has its being.

We are seeing ruptures in that foundation. What future will this nation have if that foundation breaks?

Un-representative

Author: admin

REPRESENTATIVE:
“a: Standing or acting for another through
delegated authority;”
“b: …(c)onstituting a government in which the many
are represented by persons chosen…by election”

It’s no secret an “un-representative” majority of the U.S. Congress doesn’t give two hoots in Hell about what the constituency thinks or expects from their Potomac residency. Despite what the good folks at Merriam-Webster have to say.

That comes as no surprise. But, never has it been so brazenly and gutlessly demonstrated as in recent weeks as the most intellectually vacant and outrageously unfit nominees for a President’s Cabinet were paraded before congressional committees.

Even the most unbiased observer would have to admit the more egregious examples of un-representative votes in those hearings came from Republicans far more than Democrats. In overwhelming numbers, folks at home – voters who elected the un-representatives – told them how they felt on one nominee after another. And, with a consistency rarely found in politics, those elected “un-representatives” – Republicans mostly – ignored them.

It’s widely accepted that, when considering a new President’s appointees, a lot of latitude is given to the Chief Executive to have the crew he wants. Often, this means swallowing hard because of a nominee’s tenuous talents to serve in a particular post. But this batch! Front to back – top to bottom – monied fools whose “leadership” abilities stopped far short of the vaguest qualifications. One, in fact, didn’t know for two days after appointment what his new job would be – believing it was to travel the world to promote this country’s oil and gas industries. A Dallas reporter had to “‘splain it” to him.

But un-representative members of Congress bellied up to the bar to approve everyone that reached the Senate floor.

Idaho had to look no further than Sens. Risch and Crapo to find what voters wanted them to do wasn’t worth a damn. Neither would meet with constituents – wouldn’t talk to them at district offices – wouldn’t come to the phone or return emails. In fact, neither would even make public what the public said about the list of unqualified nominees. Finally, one clerk in Crapo’s employ let slip that opposition to the Dept. Of Education chief was over 95%! Still, you know who ol’ Mike confirmed. Yep, he went with the 5%.

In state after state – district after district – across the nation, members of Congress “holed up.” Wouldn’t meet – wouldn’t talk – wouldn’t be interviewed – wouldn’t answer mail or phones. Some locked office doors – doors voters pay for in federal buildings we own. It was in your face. Our face. Locked doors and unanswered phones.

One flat out lie came from un-Rep. Cathy McMorriss Rogers, the highest ranking woman in the GOP in the House whose home office is in Spokane. She told voters she’d meet last week but only two at a time since the fire marshal had written her that was the most people that could be in her office at once. “Safety,” you know. Except he didn’t write. In fact, he said her office could “safely” handle 30 people.

Two reasons for this chicken-heartedness, I think. First, lobbyists with pockets full of money. Oil and gas people turned on all the money spigots for the new EPA chief, for example. Big bucks flooded in to D.C.. Textbook publishers and private charter school companies trucked in loads of greenbacks for the most unqualified billionaire ever to buy the Secretary of Education’s job. And so it went. Voices of greed outweighed voices of voters and filthy lucre supplanted “the right thing to do.”

Second, our un-representatives – mostly Republican – are scared to death of the President. Terrified of retribution – of having a primary opponent at home – of having their continued employment ended by a guy not worthy of his own elected position. They lack the guts to do their jobs for fear they’ll be violently ripped from the public trough in an act of Trump pique.

It’s doubtful the dollars will stop rolling in. So, there’ll likely be that obstacle between voters and members of Congress until that Citizens United decision is overturned. But, the fear factor may soon be ended. Especially in the Senate. When six or eight members – enough to sway the balance of voting – decide to do what’s right, Trump/Bannon will cease to be an employment or career threat. Then we may begin to see some semblance of independence.

There’s also the possibility a numbers/reality change in that same Senate could lead to a vacancy in the White House. You can already get betting odds in Vegas and Reno on impeachment. And those odds are slipping closer to 50-50 as we go along.

However all that may turn out, there’s a lesson here we voters must not forget. While 2018 is still a ways off – and some members won’t be up for re-election even then – we must remember who the un-representatives are. We need to clearly recall that, when we needed them to do the job we gave them, they didn’t show up. When we, in large numbers, needed to talk to them about what we wanted, they locked their doors and took their phones off the hook.

We were paying them to do their jobs. Others paid them not to.