Today’s the day

Author: admin

The future success of the National Democratic Party in the November election is at a critical junction today. This day. Right now. Today. Not some months down the road. NOW!

Ironically, it’s in the hands of just two people. Two. Just two human beings in the entire universe can assure the party’s immediate future ascendancy. Or disaster. If they don’t make the right, gut wrenching decision at this moment, we’re going to have a Trump in the White House and a totally unpredictable future as a nation.

Bernie Sanders. Hillary Clinton. It’s all up to you!

Ol’ Bern set out to do something a year ago that the wisest political chiefs of any persuasion thought was impossible. While he isn’t likely to meet his goal of being the party’s presidential nominee, he’s had astounding success in all sorts of things: amassing an amazing pile of dollars from individuals while refusing PAC and large donor bucks; tackling subjects this nation needs to hear more about and take action on; reached an unheard of number of young people with little previous political interest; getting them to act; staying true to his ideals without currying support by changing them. And a whole lot more.

Candidates and their professional hired hands will examine the Sanders campaign inside and out for years. Political academics will do repeated autopsies on the body politic to understand how he, with very scant support from his own party, was able to reach so many people, motivate them and come so close to the national prize as just one guy remaining true to himself and those who supported his candidacy. Amazing!

But now it’s time – today – for Bernie to admit the statistics and facts are all against him getting any further up the political ladder. He cannot – and he will not – be the Democrat Party presidential nominee. His road has ended. Very, very near to the finish line. But short of it.

This is not to say he hasn’t been successful in many areas. Nor is it to believe he’s failed in any way. Not at all. His campaign trail from near obscurity to how close he got to the mountaintop is to be admired. Nor is he without the ability to be an effective influence as a Democrat.

But, now is the time for him to put all his cards on the table – use the accumulated power he holds by simply representing the desires of some eight million voters and offer up his petition of those desires for the future of his party. What he wants talked about and acted on – issues like minimum wage increases, equal pay for equal work, commitment to kill Citizen’s United which has befouled our national politics, necessary system-wide improvements in veteran’s health care and a couple of other major items. All good.

Then, the spotlight – and the immediate urgency – must shift to Hillary. She must – must – be magnanimous, gracious and open to including some if not all of Bernie’s issues in the party platform to be built at convention in Philadelphia. She already supports many of his positions and could easily accommodate the others. After all, platforms hardly ever come up in campaigning. Even most of the people at conventions don’t read ‘em and their impact on the general public is flat nil.

But, the moment of her very public acknowledgment – and her open acceptance of what Sanders presents – can create the foundation on which immediate party unity can be built. She loses nothing – suffers no handicap – by allowing Sanders and his eight million followers to feel included and represented. She gains immediate additional widespread acceptance of her own by assuring Sanders – with his list of desires – a seat at the head table. And, she’ll suddenly have millions more backing her in November.

Then the light will shift back to Sanders. It’ll be his turn to act the role of the effective leader those who have turned to him believe him to be. He loses nothing. He’s no less a man or less an effective politician. But, if he makes that turn at that moment – and does it with the sincerity and the fire he’s known for in his campaign – he’ll keep a compulsive, lying, racist, politically ignorant, misogynist from tearing this country apart.

Someone Sanders goes to for counsel – someone whose advice he routinely takes – whose wisdom and support he relies upon – that person alone can keep Bernie from setting fire to this Republic while realizing only a hollow and worthless personal victory. This is no time for false pride. Sanders first – then Clinton – then Sanders.

This is political Russian roulette with five live rounds in the six shot cylinder. And it’s NOW!

No, not these two

Author: admin

There are a couple of bad ideas being floated by some Democrats and portions of the media these days. Ideas I hope never bear fruit. Both involve Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

They merge into one bad idea in this: if Hillary Clinton is the Party’s eventual nominee – and there’s a good chance that’ll happen – either Warren or Sanders should be named vice presidential running mate. In Sanders case, that’s assuming he doesn’t become President on his own.

In either instance, those promoting such an arrangement are either unschooled in politics or operating on emotions and not fact. Because the fact is, either of these two experienced pros would be absolutely wasted in an office a previous holder called “not worth a bucket of warm spit.” John Nance Garner, I believe.

Joe Biden – due to his personality, certain life events and decades of experience in the Congress – has made more of the Vice President’s job than anyone in my memory. The President has said he picked Biden largely because of the aforementioned traits and a “gut feeling.” He should continue listening to his gut.

Biden has been an excellent fit. He was nearing the end of his extensive career in the Senate, knew nearly all the leaders in major countries around the world on a first-name basis, understood the “art of the deal” in Washington politics and exhibited a sense of absolute loyalty in the entirety of his life – personally and professionally. Though sometimes acting like a loose cannon, he has much more often been the voice of reason, tactics and political guidance behind “the throne.”

Neither Warren nor Sanders fit that mold. They are, in fact, much, much more valuable right where they are – in the U.S. Senate.

Warren has been a pleasant surprise to me. Especially in her most recent role as “attack-dog-in-chief” for Democrats. She’s launched several effective broadsides against the Trumpster and has indicated she’s going to continue keeping up the “social” media attacks. Never thought that would be the case with a former Ivy League professor. Don’t think The Donald expected that, either.

Additionally, Warren is an old school populist. She has a knack for picking the right issues to communicate directly with voters – minimum wage, health care, human rights, etc. Like Biden, she has a talent for dealing one-on-one with almost any portion of the public – something both parties haven’t done in decades. She can deliver very effective speeches in Senate debate. And she can just as effectively touch hearts in a PTA or business forum. Few politicians with those – and other – skills are better placed to be effective for a large constituency.

Sanders, too, would be wasted in the Old Executive Building VP suite. Like Warren, he has built a career of being an activist – leading on popular causes or being an effective spokesman for ideas. His recent work with veterans groups is one of his most effective roles. Sanders has never really been a “party man” – preferring to stay independent and a free thinker. He really doesn’t possess the skills of a “second in command” in his personality or conduct of his public career.

Besides, neither would bring much of importance or experience that Clinton doesn’t already have. She needs to come up with someone for the VP job that both complements her skills and brings support from areas of the public where she lacks it. Someone with support in minority communities. Someone who has greater experience in domestic issues. Someone with his own constituency.

Yes, “his.” Realistically, two women at the top of a national ticket would not pass public muster at the polls. Rightfully dedicated as she is to equal treatment of women in the workplace, Clinton can make such change possible in her cabinet selections and filling other key posts. But, at the top of the ticket, she needs to go with a male.

I’ve long harbored a liking for Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Low key personality, a real worker in the trenches, not someone seeking publicity in the media, knowledgeable in the skills of effective political give-and-take, highly respected by his peers. He also comes at things with a “common touch” and represents a large state. He’s widely recognized for his effectiveness in the Senate in almost anything he undertakes. He’s also 63-years-old. An age where – if he’s going to make a run for higher office – he’s right on the cusp.

These factors – and his kind of “aw, shucks” personality – add up to a really excellent candidate. If he’ll take the job.

No matter how you come at it, neither Warren nor Sanders would be good VP choices. If Democrats retake either the Senate or House, they have an excellent opportunity to destroy some of the political gridlock we’re suffering. With a Democrat majority in the Senate, either of the two would be a vast improvement in leadership positions.

The selection of a vice presidential nominee is something Clinton – and her party- need to get together on. Really together. This is not a normal election year. This is not a normal election. Whoever fills out the Democrat ticket, odds are he’ll have a leading role in national direction to a greater degree than in the past. And possibly for many years.

Hey. I’ve got a thought. There’s this guy from Ohio, I believe. Brown something. Good guy.

Let’s just chill out

Author: admin

All right. Let’s just calm down here. Take some deep breaths. Count to a hundred or two or five. Take a couple of sips of whatever soothes your nerves. Let’s sit quietly for a few minutes and get our heads straight.

Donald Trump is NOT going to be the next President of these United States. Not gonna happen. No way. No how. Just not gonna happen. I promise. Period.

Since The Donald appeared to sew up the nomination of the GOP a few days back, politicians – and wanna be politicians – of every stripe have been quivering in their patent leather slip-ons. Aided by a willing and equally as frenetic media, they’ve been loudly bemoaning the fate of their own careers, the fate of their beloved Republican Party and, yes, even an occasional thought now and then to the fate of our country – if allowed to rant long enough. Terrible thing for grown ups to hear.

Trying to find a voice of common sense in the aural maelstrom has been difficult. Damned few out there. But those few experienced prognosticators as can be found all seem to agree Mr. Trump will eventually end up in the ash can of discarded egos.

One other point these low key sages agree on. Donald will do it to himself – that he’ll eventually be a victim of his own mouth, a lack of acceptable qualifications, racist/sexist beliefs and pronouncements and a wearing-on-the-nerves demeanor that’ll find him ultimately insulting and degrading just about every human being within the sound of his voice. With his penchant for publicity, coupled with a bad case of overexposure at the hands of the ratings hungry media, give him four or five months and the Trump “luster” will likely become the Trump “rust.”

I tend to agree. That’s not to say “ignore him and he’ll go away.” No, not at all. The stakes are too high to just dismiss him. He truly is the worst candidate either of the two major national parties could put forth. Except that idiot Palin floozy. He’s dangerous for many reasons. But he’s not mythical with special powers. He’s not infallible. Fact is, he’s very fallible.

The political earth is shaking under our national feet. Politicians are running this way and that – either trying to get on Trump’s loud bandwagon or out of the way so as not to be rolled over by its gaudy wheels. Alarm bells are going off all over Washington and beyond as vote chasers try to figure out if Trump is the voter catnip they’ve been seeking or the Hemlock that’ll make them go out and look for honest work come November. Like chickens who’ve seen the fox, there’s more sound and fury than sensible evaluation.

It’s going to take some time for things to settle down and some level-headed plans developed. I’d bet there are dozens and dozens of private meetings going on all over the place as some of the few realists left in the national GOP hierarchy try to come to grips with the scary situation created by their far right brethren. Some of those wiser heads will likely realize hope of retaking the White House is almost nil. The real problem, they’ll decide, lies in Congress and the statehouses where their majority rule is very, very vulnerable.

Keep in mind statehouses have become as important – if not more so – than Congress. The far right billionaires have been scoring victory after victory in state-level legislation. They’ve been successful accomplishing their goals for everything from blocking minority voters at the polls to preserving plastic grocery bags to usurping powers of local governments to act on various issues. They don’t want to lose those state capitol GOP majorities just because primary voters have given them a political vagrant at the top of the national ticket. There’s too much at stake in the 50 states.

Also, many in the national party have investments and links to foreign operations around the globe. Feedback they’re getting on Trump from leaders of other countries – plus bosses of those overseas businesses – is uniformly upsetting at the moment. They’ve got to head the guy off. If not for our national good, then for their own bank accounts..

Sixty or so days from now, we’ll probably look back on today’s rampant political scurrying as the exercise in futility it is. The sneaker waves rocking the national Republican boat today will have become more placid and some of the wiser heads will have laid out some more realistic plans for GOP survival. Maybe with some losses. But survival nonetheless.

One other thing keeps rattling around in my head. I’ve thought for some time, while Trump might want to be President, deep down I don’t think he really wants the job that goes with the title. He’s already got an international “empire” to run – an empire that seems to exist mainly because of his recognized heavy-handed, personal control. What would happen to his millions if he had to spend most of his waking hours trying to head off World War III? Or starting World War III?

But, maybe that’s changed. Now that he’s locked up the nomination, maybe his lunar-sized ego is totally involved and he really wants the prize. Maybe – like so many other campaigners in our national history – maybe he’s hooked.

Well, whatever the case, let’s all take a few deep breaths, read a good book, turn to whatever calms your nerves and let today’s political dogs chase their own tails for awhile. I think there’s still some Jack Daniels in the cupboard. Always works for me.

The other view

Author: admin

I can’t stop thinking about a piece written by my Ridenbaugh Press co-hort and friend Chris Carlson on these pages a few days back. The subject was voluntary end of life, Canada’s impending creation of a new law allowing it for some residents and a “profile” of who – in this country – his research appeared to show had ended their lives with this option.

At the outset, it should be recorded Chris and I are poles apart on the concept of assisted suicide. His well-thought out position opposing the practice is not surprising given his lifelong Catholic background and firsthand experience with a loved one’s suicide. Just as my support is not surprising given my lifelong beliefs and some years working in Hospice care.

Chris and I also are bound by a shared first-person experience with cancer. When you become the one in cancer treatment, issues of life and death rise to a level of personal attention those who’ve never had the disease can feel. The diagnosis and subsequent treatment can shape – or reshape- your thoughts on many subjects.

That being noted, you may be surprised he and I are in complete agreement in some areas. Possibly the most basic is the shared belief government should have little to no role in the matter. There are just two roles I would assign government. One is to remove laws blocking the choice for terminally ill patients. The other, allow medical professionals to create the necessary guidelines for when and how assisted suicide should be considered an option, then codify those requirements for the protection of all involved. Physicians and nurses who may participate in the final act need legal protocols. Such guidelines now exist in Oregon and Washington.

Chris and I have each been affected by someone related – or otherwise close to us – committing suicide. That desperate act may stop whatever the real – or perceived – suffering is felt by the departed. But it ignores the terribly painful load for those of us left behind. Guilt. Rage. Anger. Loss. Endless questions. Suicide is a terribly selfish act because there’s no consideration of loved ones and others who will be severely affected. The person committed to dying is beyond such thinking by that time.

He and I have other mutual experiences. So, the most interesting aspect to me is how such commonality can result in two positions so far apart.

Chris wrote of his opposition. My views come from very different exposures to end-of-life issues. I’ve been a Hospice volunteer, have had some Hospice training and participated for several years in a citizen advisory position overseeing a Hospice program. I’ve been at the bedsides of many people facing certain death. I’ve observed firsthand how patients deal with the waning days of their own mortality. I’ve seen it quiet and peaceful. I’ve seen it loud and hard.

My fervent support is not based on the Hemlock Society or any other citizen advocacy. It’s rooted deeply in personal witness of suffering and what the end of life experience is in its many guises. It’s confirmed by the many statements I’ve listened to from someone – or their families – who’ve said they wish they’d thought more carefully about the end of life before being overwhelmed by the subsequent trauma and pain.

One issue on which Chris and I disagree concerns who has used or favors use of the option thus far. He states it’s “the rich and powerful … who come from the top one-tenth of one percent” of the citizenry who “brag about not paying taxes.”

That hasn’t been my personal experience. You may recall the 30-something woman from California who came to Oregon a few months ago with her husband to take advantage of our assisted suicide law. About as middle class American couple as anyone could be. She had a certain prognosis of a protracted, painful death. She chose not to wait. I’ve attended bakers, salesmen, blue collar workers and the homeless. Pain and death disregard economics. The choice to forestall suffering knows no social ranking or privilege.

I’m personally aware of at least three other assisted suicides in Oregon. In each case, there was no “rich and powerful” – no part of the top minuscule percentage of society. All were repeatedly diagnosed with debilitating, painful, end-of-life conditions. Whether not wanting to burden families with huge bills, no desire to suffer, or just wanting to take control of their situations, we don’t know. But those, and many other factors, come into sharp focus when you’re lying in that bed. I understand the desire to avoid those conditions and – if possessing the courage – to leave this world as easily and as comfortably as possible.

To me, the issue of end-of-life care is very much like that other one government keeps sticking it’s nose into – abortion. Both subjects are as personal and private as any can be. Both involve the patient, family and a physician. Neither has space in the treatment room for someone from government to kibbitz. There ultimately comes a time when desires of the one person at the center of both abortion and end-of-life issues are all that should be considered. Privately. We’re talking life and death.

I suspect Chris opposes abortion as well as assisted suicide. But, I suspect – despite our differing backgrounds – we hold similar views on both subjects. Our greatest commonality is a belief that there’s no role for government in such deeply personal life experiences. It grieves me politicians, bureaucrats and public do-gooders keep pushing their unwanted and unnecessary views in both matters.

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.