Oh yes, it’s different

Author: admin

“He’s 92 and I’m 88 and we’d like a divorce,” she said.
The attorney asked, “Why did you wait so long?”
Said she, “We didn’t want to do it when the kids were alive.”

Disgusting, right? A bit sick, too? Yep. But, when you live in one of three adjoining 55+ communities comprised of about 90,000 seniors, you hear “jokes” like that. Few folks seem to take offense and often have one to give back.

Though we moved here when I was past four score years, we’ve learned a lot about retirement we never knew. Things no amount of “due diligence” visiting would have uncovered unless you lived here awhile.

For example, normal driving here doesn’t exist. It’s rubber tired bumper cars. Our insurance rate went up 40% – same car – same driver. Most companies use zip codes in their factoring of rates. After six months here, it’s easy to see why we got a hike.

As I said, I’ve passed four score years. But, we got a new state driver’s licenses with no written or behind-the-wheel testing. So did everybody else it seems. Crazy! So, pick a violation. Aw, go on. Pick an imaginary driving aberration. You can’t come up with one we haven’t seen. Daily.

Despite the fact a lot of our major roads are six lanes wide – excellent roads – many oldsters drive “souped up” golf carts. Hundreds and hundreds of ‘em. Not your usual country club variety. No Sir! These have been updated with “mechanical steroids” to go 30 mph! Seat belts, mirrors and (unused) turn signals added. State licensing and liability insurance required. Imagine yourself sharing those six lanes with these miniature hotrods being driven by 80-somethings.

Church is interesting, too. At ours, the director of our wonderful music program is a pro. Stickler for detail in everything. When he wants the choir to stand or sit, he wants them to all move at the same time. Boom! But, with a couple of dozen hip and knee replacement choristers in their 80’s, the ups and downs look more like exposed cylinder heads in an idling Chevy V-8.

“Snowbirds” are a pain for permanent residents. “Birds” come from all over – even Europe and Asia. Canadian “birds”can only stay for six months so they’re usually here first – come down in September. Rest arrive in October and leave in April/May.

When “birds” are here, tee times at the dozens of golf courses in the area are booked out days-weeks in advance. Lines at theaters and restaurants are never-ending. When your gas gauge is on “empty,” you’ll make eight loops around the gas pumps looking for a spot. Beards can grow just while waiting in checkout lines.

The better grocery stores are an experience. Because folks come from all over, shelves are stocked with not only the usual wares found at Safeway or Fred Meyer, but with larger kosher and outsized Hispanic departments. Even Norwegian and Swedish. For the Michigan-Minnesota-Dakota crowd. And, for those who want a little more in a shopping experience, one of our local markets has a large wine and beer bar right in the middle of the store. Opens each morning at eight and seating goes on until evening. Nice rest stop between frozen foods on one wall and bakery across the huge store on the other. And you meet the nicest people. Usually after you’ve been there awhile.

Almost no residential grass here. Which attracted me. Fool! Most “lawns” are crushed rock with citrus trees and cactus for greenery. What we didn’t expect is that the rock needs to be “raked” because, somehow, it moves. People walking leave footprints or kick it up. Our resident coyote leaves the extract of his digestive tract. Birds, too. Rain (yes, rain) exposes the black vapor barrier. Underground digging critters leave holes and unexpected gravel piles. The yardwork may be different. But it’s still damned yardwork!

Unusual businesses. Rabid rightwing politics. Very different utility practices from the Northwest. Unusual ecology efforts for- well – unusual ecology. More grist for future columns.

Oh yes, there is this one other thing. Nearly every building material for houses and all other buildings for dozens of square miles is stucco. Top to bottom. And, nearly all are the same color – tan. Entire subdivisions of tan stucco. Far as you can see. Every subdivision. Every where.

Makes it damned hard to find your way home after a grocery trip. And an extended layover at that wine bar.
 

The timing is right

Author: admin

So. Paul Ryan counted on his fingers and toes and found there probably wouldn’t be enough Republicans in the House after the next election to make up a bowling team.
And, faced with a minority – probably a distinct minority – the best he could hope for would be leader of a distinct – well – minority. And maybe not leader.

Ryan decided to cash in his 20 years in Congress and take his taxpayer $79,000 a-year lifetime “entitlement.” Since he failed to slash Social Security, he must have figured, “What the Hell, gimmie some.”

With Ryan’s exit – stage right, of course – that Trump fella has taken complete control of what used to be a functioning, respected Republican Party. A national Party now headed into a well-deserved irrelevance for at least a couple of election cycles. Maybe more. A Party without honor as it uses what’s left of its “influence” to prostitute itself to dishonestly defend our dishonorable president.

It’s to be dearly hoped that, during that enforced hiatus, the GOP will do some surgical cleansing of philosophy. That it will return to what made it respectable before letting the far right purge intelligence and common sense.

The only humans likely to believe the cover story that Ryan “checked out” to “spend time with his growing kids” are likely the kids themselves. He saw the handwriting on the wall and decided he didn’t want to be part of the graffiti.

Ryan’s fleeing the mess on Capitol Hill might also be a good time for Democrats to do some cleaning in their own houses – House and Senate – after the 2018 elections.

Nancy Pelosi is 78 – Chuck Schumer is 68. They’ve each served much of their elected time in some form of leadership. They’ve done well in those posts, have weathered many political storms and – for the most part – honorably carried the Democrat banners.

But, January, 2019, might be a good time for each to pass the torches and either exit – stage left, of course – or take more comfortable seats on the “back bench” in more advisory capacities.

Judging from candidacy filings, the next crop of new faces in Congress will be younger – in their 30’s to 50’s. There’ll be more women in both houses. Many will be new to both Washington and national politics. While they’ll be coming in with their own ideas and energy, Pelosi and Schumer could provide a lot of quick education about the “ins and outs” of how things work. Not telling them WHAT to do – more like teaching them HOW to do.

As for the vacancies, if Pelosi and Schumer were to step aside, there are some seasoned, younger people ready to go. In the Senate, Patty Murray, Rob Wyden, Amy Klobuchar, Ed Markey and Chris Van Hollen have “earned their spurs.”

In the House, Joe Kennedy, Joaquin Castro, Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee and a dozen more have grounded themselves in the grunt work and earned promotions to leadership.

Democrats are in a much better position to reorganize their Party than are Republicans. They have a more singular set of values, broad enough nearly all can get behind. They can, that is, if they’ll bury the Clinton-Sanders squabbles. That battle is over.

Republicans, on the other hand, are so fractured they don’t have enough “timber” to build the stairs to a platform, much less flooring for a platform itself. It’s to be dearly hoped the GOP will find new, more moderate blood to move things more to the center of the road instead of noisily floundering in the right hand ditch.

Whether Trump will still be there in 2019, is an open question at this point. With or without his divisive presence, real power is likely to shift to Congress and the courts for the next several years. That’s what makes this November’s balloting so damned important.

About 60% of Americans eligible to vote in 2016, did not. And look what happened. Given the damage Trump and his band of unfit minions have done to our government, we cannot afford that again.

Ryan’s exit can mean more than just one zealot being kicked to the political curb. The “attack” by voters has to be twofold: cut the irresponsible and dangerous voices off at the bottom of the ticket and encourage new leadership at the top.

Gut check time

Author: admin

I’m one of those current and former media folk whose guts are churning about the massive attack on our free press – and society as a whole – by Sinclair Broadcasting. It’s something like a “journalistic Pearl Harbor” for this country and Sinclair ain’t the good guy.

The background, of course, and the source of my angst, is Sinclair forcing more than 100 TV stations it owns or operates to broadcast handout video and scripted propaganda favorable to the Trump presidency while demeaning legitimate news sources. News anchors are handed “speeches” to read each night and newscasts are to include videos of corporate “spokesmen” offering a Trump-supporting diatribe of phony “news.”

It’s something everyone should be aware of. If we had a more responsible Congress, we could reasonably expect legislative action to end this travesty. Unfortunately, most people seem unfazed by this attack on free speech. And our Congress continues to suffer “mental erectile dysfunction” caused by an overabundance of campaign dollars.

The issues at stake are self-evident and need no further discussion. But, judging from their nearly unanimous reaction, most of the would-be reporters and staff at Sinclair seem to have a personal case of self-pity.

We’re hearing a lot of ‘em claim they feel tied to contracts signed in better days when they were looking for that professional “pot-of-gold.” “The ticket to fame and riches.” Now, they’re using those documents to say they can’t quit Sinclair because “they’d be sued” or they can’t leave because “they have young families.”

Take it from someone who’s been there. Leaving Sinclair now is likely the best possible move you can make for a better career future. It also might be the best tonic right now to help you be that professional you think you are.

A wise and thoughtful friend wrote something the other day, giving me a different perspective. Forget Sinclair. Think, instead, of the thousands of teachers marching for better pay and improved state support for children and the necessary equipment and materials to do their jobs. Some of their administrators threatened to fire them if they marched. But, march they are. They, too, have young families to support and student loans to pay off. But, they’re marching.

And the kids. Some of those same school districts threatened to give them failing grades and other punishments if they marched. But, hundreds of thousands are out there. At a time when a failing grade on a transcript could cost them badly when trying to get into college, they made the decision that enough students had been murdered with uncontrolled automatic weapons.

At eight score years, I’ve had many periods of employment and unemployment. I’ve signed contracts. I’ve broken a few. And a few were broken for me. I’ve walked away from incomes when such things as a court-ordered child support order had to be kept current – income or no. I’ve made professional and personal choices and lived with the consequences.

I only say those things to make this point. To the Sinclair people who think they’re captives and can’t possibly do the responsible thing, “Yes, you CAN!” And some of your brothers and sisters are doing just that.

The vast majority of reporters, editors and other news professionals alive today are in your corner. They’re “mad as Hell,” too. Like me, most of them have been around and around the block. But, you’re the only ones who can take the right step this time. Now, it’s your turn. You’ve got thousands and thousands of shoulders to stand on.

But, if you persist in the pity-party, here’s something else to consider. The longer you stay with an employer nearly all your fellow professionals despise, the more time with Sinclair will show on future job applications. If you show it, that time will be an impediment that could result in a rejection. If you leave that space vacant, they’ll ask. Either way, staying with Sinclair will be a cancer on your career.

We’re cursed with a current political situation in which those who could take responsible action, and do what must be done to defang Sinclair, won’t act. They’ll walk on hot coals through Hell for the Second Amendment but won’t take one step to protect the First.

It’s up to you. What’s your career worth?

News mismanagement

Author: admin

If all national media ownerships could be sued for malfeasance at once, now would be that time. If ever this nation was poorly served by those noisy entities, now is that time.

I’m sick to death of Stormy. Of Karen McDougall. Michael Cohen. Michael Avenatti. Of wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling overblown “coverage” of our adulterous and sexually overactive president not being able to keep his pants zipped! There are other, far more important stories of terrible, life-and-death events going on in our world.

But, in a rush to satisfy stockholders, boards of directors and bean counters of the mega-ownerships, nearly all big media is turning a collective back on people, events and tragedies in this world that we need to know more about. More now!

Here’s one. Have you thought about this countries direct involvement in at least three undeclared wars? And there may be others if you throw in our military death counts mounting in secret battles in Africa, South America and several Middle East countries. This has been going on since the first years of Bush-The-Junior. We’re losing huge amounts of young lives and billions-after-billions of national treasure in these and other places. With no constitutional authority to do so.

We’ve completely failed Puerto Rico. Houston and other Southern environs have been struggling to recover from hurricanes of two and four years ago. Water has been undrinkable in major parts of Flint, Michigan, for four years. Capetown, South Africa, a city of four-million souls, is due to run out of water in about 30 days. England’s exit from the European Union is fast-approaching with world-changing effects expected on entire national economies. Immutable evidence of rapid climate change is mounting much earlier than previously predicted. Stock market’s gone to Hell. A new threat of a North Korean nuclear attack covering much of the American mainland has appeared within the last year. And on and on and on.

Relying only on the mass media markets for your information, have you been fully informed what the significance of these and hundreds of other stories are on your world? And the world’s of your children and grandchildren? These are significant events and major disasters happening now. They’re not just subjects of some distant collection of historical trivia.

As an “informed country,” are we as knowledgeable of the expected huge effects of Brexit on our national economy as we are about the titillating details of Stormy’s latest TV appearance? Has the constitutional issue of undeclared wars been answered to your satisfaction? If you sent a son or daughter off to Syria to be returned in a body bag, do you know why politicians allowed your family to pay that unreasonable price without their authorization?

Since the Reagan administration allowed multiple media market ownerships by the same business entity (“media convergence,” it’s called) and with the elimination of the Fairness Doctrine at the same time, the nation has been more poorly served.

An example of legal media abuse is the Sinclair operation owning dozens of stations across the country including Boise, Seattle and Portland. Full, unbiased reporting has been axed at Sinclair. Now, in those markets – and many more – nightly right-wing scripts and videos are being sent to all with the order to “read ‘em” and “run ‘em.”

Those are legitimate evidence of the failure of our mass information system. There are many others. And, when coupled with board-stockholder-bean counter demands for profit regardless of content, we get “Stormy and friends.” Or reporters interviewing reporters about their opinions. Or endless B.S. about which weird, talent-challenged “celebrity” – read Kardashian – did what to whom.

To be more informed, it’s become necessary to seek out small niche market sources. Mother Jones – The Hill – Politico – Vox – to name a few. These – and a few more – are filling in the news “vacancies” infecting major outlets.

My heartfelt suggestion to the national folks – who appear to be forever lost to us for real, trustworthy and informative news – is to set aside the last 10 minutes of each broadcast hour. Call it “Stormy Today.” Take all the other salacious crap of the day and shove it in there.

Or, you could just tell the CNN’s, Fox’s et al. to just shove it!

Listen carefully

Author: admin

CONSERVATIVE: (1) Tending or disposed to maintain existing views; conditions, or institutions: traditional conservative policies; (2) Marked by moderation or caution; (3) Marked by or relating to traditional norms of taste, elegance, style, or manners.

OPPORTUNIST: (1) Someone who tries to get an advantage or something valuable from a situation without thinking about what is fair or right.

Those definitions are from my well-worn Merriam Webster dictionary. No editing. Now, the question of the day is this: which definition best applies to the guy in the Oval Office? Which best defines his actions – his character – his “political” presence? Go ahead. Pick one.

In my book, there’s no question. “Opportunist” fits our Crisis-In Chief to a “T.” In fact, it doesn’t go far enough.

Yet, day-after-day, night-after-night, our “friends” in the media business use the word “conservative” to describe that person. Over and over and over, they attach the wrong word as if it just has to be so.

One reason is probably because most media types have never met a bonafide Conservative politician. No GOP voice today can be described by that word as were Bob Dole, Howard Baker, Fred Thompson, Ben Nelson, Connie Mack, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, etc.. And, at the far right end of that term, Barry Goldwater.

Trump’s “politics” or character don’t measure up to any of those – not in any way. In fact, in terms of Presidents, his “politics” – whatever they are – match none other.

Would you put Idaho’s Mike Simpson in the same political file as Louis Ghomert, one of the craziest of crazies? Never. But, day-after-day, we’re told the two are “conservatives.”

People who should be most concerned with this mislabeling ought to be actual Conservatives because politicians with proven Conservative credentials are being continually lumped in with the current crop of crazies destroying the GOP. If the Republican Party ever hopes to have honest political currency in our national affairs, real Conservatives should be stepping up with new candidacies.

Many Republicans can’t support the GOP as it exists today. They feel shut out and spend time grousing when they should be taking action. Surely there must be legitimate Conservative Republicans out there who can be encouraged to run – to offer viable choices to nutcases who run unopposed time after time.

Bona fide, hurting Republicans need to stamp out this phony “we don’t want professional politicians “ crap and admit our best governance has been when experienced “professional” politicians did the work that needed doing. Professionals from both parties.

Democrats need to do some “house cleaning” as well. Shut down the Sanders-versus-Clinton voices, put up some new, younger faces with fresh thinking and get out of this circular firing squad concocted years ago.

Absolutists in both parties should be shown the nearest door. This “you’re-with-me-on-every-issue-or-you’re-my-enemy” B.S. needs to be thoroughly cleansed. Republicans say it. Democrats say it. And all it does is fracture political opportunities both parties have repeatedly squandered.

Republicans, especially, should be looking at these thousands and thousands of marchers in the streets from coast-to-coast. Today, the message out there might be gun control. Tomorrow it might be women’s rights. Or ending sexual abuse in society.

But, the real “message-from-the-streets” is most Americans want change. They want effective government to help rather than hurt. They want control of the process. In a very real sense, they want their country back. Not some 1950’s imaginary fantasy that never existed. They’re asking – demanding – a process and a government at all levels that cares, that acknowledges problems of the lack of meaningful health care, homelessness, poverty, an end to “government for the few” rather than a “government for all.”

It’s not that we don’t have issues. We’ve got lots of ‘em. Rather it’s getting the cancer of unbridled money out of our national politics – enacting policies of fairness and justice for the many – recreating a nation to be proud of and one that can return to being respected everywhere.

You want true Conservatism rather than opportunism? Go for those things. That’s the message!

Doing DUE diligence

Author: admin

Six months ago, fed up with the worst winter on the Oregon coast that locals could remember, Barb and I packed up the dog and cat and drove 1,310 miles Southeast. To the “great” Southwest.

We’re now in the second fastest growing county in the nation – the Census Bureau estimates about 200 new faces a day – and surrounded by a lot of white hair, expensively tinted hair and the most bald heads we’ve ever seen in one place. The three “cheek-by-jowl” unincorporated “active” retirement communities that make up our new neighborhood total about 92,000 folks – 55 and up.

While you’ll see some criticism here, please remember I’m four score plus two. So, this isn’t being written by a critic from the outside but from my own 82 years. If you haven’t experienced this “active senior living” as it’s called, you might see some surprises here.

When we came down a year ago on a scouting mission, the first thing that caught our eye was $2.28 a gallon gas. A buck or more less than the Coast. We also found real estate taxes on a $200,000 house were about $800 a year. That’s $1,600 less than we’d been paying. A good steak dinner is about $11.00. Shopping within a five mile radius includes hundreds of stores from Neiman-Marcus to Goodwill. Everything you can name! More places to eat out than you could count and a gas station or bank on every corner.

Sounds a bit like senior Nirvana, doesn’t it? Well, while all those good things are quite true, there are other details to consider, too.

For one, our $1,100 a year car insurance went to $1,900. Same car. Same driver. Zip codes are a big factor in setting rates. When you’ve lived here awhile, and driven our roads filled with seniors from everywhere, your sense of self-preservation is heightened and you understand why the increase. Oh, and our car license went from about $200 for two years to $485 for one!

Another local phenomenon is the lowly golf cart. They look the same as those at the country club. But – these have been modified to go between 35-40mph! Gas or electric. With mirrors, seatbelts and appropriate insurance added, they move! And are driven everywhere! Right out in the rest of the traffic. Four lanes or six! Like many others, we use ours as a second car. Easier to park when shopping.

Electricity in our former home was about seven-cents a kilowatt hour. Here, 13-cents and up. Nuclear generation rather than hydro. Water/sewer bills that used to be $60 or so for two months are $60-100 a month now. Also, our state’s water rights in the regional compact are junior to all other states so an extended drought could be a disaster.

Still, just in our little unincorporated “heaven” of about 30,000 oldsters, we have nine – count ‘em – nine 18-hole golf courses to keep up. Two private. Seven public. Using about 2.4 billion gallons of water per year. Residents use about 1.3 billion. So, when water isn’t as available as it is today, (a) already high residential rates will skyrocket and (b) someone is going to have to decide which – and how many – golf courses will be cut to nine holes. Or closed. Them’s fighten’ words hereabouts.

Our current special election to replace our adulterous former Congressman features an adulterous minister – endorsed by the outgoing adulterer, another who’s a twice-convicted felon and James Dobson. The other candidate claims to have loved Trump even before he was elected. Such are our ballot choices. To say we’re a “conservative” state is to confuse “conservative” with outright nuts!

Still, at least for now, we’re not unhappy with our move. Let’s just say we’re here on a “trial basis” and continue to observe life around us. Our “due diligence” continues unabated.

Over the next few months, we’ll describe more of this newfound “active retired” senior living lifestyle and the blessings/curses that go with it. It’s really a little of both. But, you might want to make that “due” in due diligence “DUE” before you take the step.

A deep state?

Author: admin

One of the moral issues all of us face from time to time is this: is it right to support a concept or an action we may know is wrong or is without factual basis or do we reject it for those same reasons?

Here’s one I’m wrestling with at the moment. Members of the Trump “family” – and a few other conspiratorial minds – are screaming there’s a “deep state” cabal working against our president. On the one hand, that’s highly doubtful. On the other, I hope so, because, left unchecked, the man is just plain dangerous to our survival!

Let’s set a common definition for that term “deep state.” The words are most often used by conspiratorial types to describe a “deep rooted civil service – or other behind-the-scenes group – at work to undermine elected officials.” Including presidents.

The latest White House denizen to publically use the term is Trump’s second son who lumped Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Ellen DeGeneres (?) together as “forces for evil.” Said it on Twitter. Just like Dad. Bannon and Faux Neus like it, too. And use it often.

It’s really too easy to poke sticks at anyone in the Trump family or others who think of him as our “political savior.” But, there’s a serious bent to this as well. Which brings about my ambivalence.

Some weeks ago, I used this space to highlight a couple of Air Force generals publically stating they would not necessarily follow a presidential order to unleash the force and nuclear weapons. The qualifier used was the question of a “legal versus illegal” order. I’ve since discovered there are as many legal definitions of those words as there are generals. Or staff attorneys. Whom we don’t have time to consult when there are incoming warheads.

But more evidence is piling up – as in some ‘50’s-‘60’s movies about renegade generals – that the military and other agencies are going their own ways on things. Rogue, if you will.

Case-in-point: last year, Trump said “no transgender people in the military.” The Pentagon, however, now says, as of January 1, transgender enlistees have been – and still are – welcome.

Case-in-point: Trump made a big public issue of claiming our embassy in Tel Aviv will be moved to Jerusalem. But State Department professionals – not Trump-appointee Tillerson – are saying there are “no plans in the foreseeable future” for such action.

Case-in-point: Trump continues to berate and insult North Korea’s leader while State Department professionals – not Trump-appointee Tillerson – continue back-channel discussions with counterparts in North Korea, South Korea, China and Japan.

Case-in-point: Trump pulls U.S. out of climate accords so individual states are now signing up directly with foreign governments.

Case-in-point: Trump’s own staff attorney did not tell him he had the authority to fire an F.B.I. director because his own staff attorney figured that’s just what Trump would do.

Case(s)-in-point: Trump continues demanding a stop to immigration – even legal immigration – but eleven courts have overruled him.

Upper level civil service professionals have often walked different paths from political appointees. That’s not new. What IS different is it’s currently being done more openly – more “in-your-face” – than previously. Especially in military, State and DOJ issues.

Trump has repeatedly proven he cannot cooperate with – nor countenance – people who are experts in their fields holding any different view from his. He refuses to recognize his job is not to call every shot but to oversee departments of government while recognizing it’s the professionals who really know what ’s going on. And how to do it. They may – and should – bend to changing political guidance. But we’re starting to see open defiance in some quarters.

Which brings us back to “deep state.” Is institutional resistance to Trump and his authority real? And, if so, who’s in charge? Which decisions will be carried out and which ignored? Is someone – or many someone(s) – working deep underground to subvert the power of the Presidency or just Trump? And, if so, who? And, to what end?

For the first time in my life, I go to bed at night wondering (a) if I’ll wake up and (b) if I do, to what? I have no use for Trump. He scares me. I want him gone. Preferably today.

But, he IS the President. He DOES have certain constitutional powers at his disposal. He DOES have the legal right to exercise them. And, what scares me more than him, is the idea that others may actually be working to thwart the lawful exercise of that authority.

We live in a technological (read nuclear, world-ending) environment requiring immediate decisions that can – within minutes – result in life-ending consequences. The evidence seems to indicate a “going-my-own-way” attitude in some portions of our government. Despite Trump, that’s not the way to run a country.

Mueller leaking?

Author: admin

If you want to keep a secret, never consider living in Washington D.C.. Nobody – absolutely nobody – can keep a secret there. Details of the most clandestine conversations often are relayed before the original speaker can take a deep breath.

Fact is, the continual sieve-like communications of the D.C. verbal plumbing system keep the place going, providing uninterrupted grist for the media mill. Some people you’ve never heard of – hangers-on mostly – make a pretty good living leaking.

The constant stream of “I-shouldn’t-say-anything-but…” is mother’s milk to the national media. Without the constant dribble, many of those folk would be unemployed. Whether that’s a good or bad thing we’ll leave for another time.

At the moment, those national writers and talkers are going on and on about the lack of leaks in the Robert Mueller investigation. “Air tight,” they say. “We have no idea what’s happening because no one’s talking.” Sitting out here in the arid Southwest, I’m not convinced.

I think the Mueller team IS leaking and it’s with such finesse and understatement those media types are either not paying attention or, if they are, some of ’em are in on the game.

Case in point. Ripped from CNN and NBC front pages as I write, a story headlined “Mueller asking if Trump knew about hacked Democratic emails before release.” It goes on to report Mueller’s team is asking “pointed questions” about whether Trump was aware those emails had been stolen before that fact was known publically.

Now, that’s a detailed report. And, if true, it gives us a bit of a window to what’s going on in the investigative offices. “If true.” And I’d bet it is.

In fact, I’d bet a sizeable amount that Mueller’s people have been strategically “leaking” since the git-go.

More cases in point. Before Mueller’s people talked to Manafort, Page, Ryan or any of the others, we learned of the impending sessions from the media. There were no filed documents in advance. No news releases about upcoming talks. No talking head interviews. No published schedules. All the interviewees were privately contacted. It’s not likely they tipped the media types beforehand. Would you?

No, I suspect Mueller and team have been “creatively leaking” bits and pieces to cooperative reporters. Little dribs and drabs that make headlines.

“Why would they do that,” you ask.

Pressure, sez I. I think Mueller is lifting the curtain – just a bit – every few days or so, to keep up the mounting pressure on folks in the White House. As more names from Trump’s inner circle show up in the headlines and on the HDTVs in the living quarters, I’d wager pulses are quickening and it’s getting harder to breathe.

When subjects are interviewed, there aren’t cameras around for the coming and going. Sometimes, the face-to-face sessions are in a third party location unknown to the media. Other times, subjects converse on closed-circuit TV.

We most often see file photos of Manafort, Ryan, et al. entering or leaving a court house or other public building when pleading to charges. But, not when visiting Mueller. Public locations are routinely staked out by the media. We sometimes see old pictures of the miscreants when documents are filed or unsealed. What we see most is file footage, shown repeatedly.

Mueller and friends are running a deep, searching, wide-ranging, thorough investigation. Unintended leaks or talented reporter sleuthing have amounted to zero.

But, leaks there have been. Many. And, they’re likely to continue. Mueller seems to be using them skillfully to create tensions and nervousness among both those his team’s talked to and those yet to sit in front of his microphones and cameras. He’s controlling the atmosphere around the investigation to twist the nerves of those waiting for both shoes to drop.

How’d you like to be waiting for his call? Oh, hold on. Donny, your phone’s ringing.

The Graham effect

Author: admin

Rev. Billy Graham has died. Christian communities are mourning his death. Condolences are even coming from a number of foreign countries. All out of respect for a major voice of evangelism.

Though worthy of respect, many of us were disappointed in Graham with publication of the Nixon tapes. As Nixon spit out a series of slander regarding Jews and Blacks, Graham was heard repeatedly agreeing and even offering some negative comments of his own. As more people heard the tapes and read transcripts, Graham’s public persona took a big hit. He later apologized but didn’t recant.

Aside from those unexpected conversations, Graham seemed to live the life he preached. A Graham biographer once commented, after the word “God,” the second most used word in his sermons was “faith.” That, Graham seemed to have in abundance.

But, Graham was also big business. Large corporate offices, many hundreds of support staff, advance teams, DVD’s, books, tapes, tracts, movies and more.

It was this business side that attracted me when Graham held one of his crusades in what is now called Taco Bell Arena on the Boise State University campus in the early 80’s. I began an eight month continuing story about that event.

Many weeks before Graham arrived, his advance people contacted all Christian churches in Southwest Idaho. Churches weren’t so much “asked” to participate as they were told what the Crusade “expected” in support. So many choir members, ushers, set up and takedown labor, underwriting of some local expenses, etc.. Even housing.

Days before the big event, large trucks arrived with scaffolding, choir risers, lights, sound system and other staging hardware. All was made ready.

In advance, I contacted six Christian churches to determine then current average attendance. I would do so twice more after the Crusade.

Graham drew several thousand people. The event went as it had so many times before in venues all over the world. When he made his “altar call” near the end, asking those who wanted to openly express their faith to come forward, a couple of hundred did. About the expected percentage I was told later. By sunup the next day, all evidence of the Crusade was gone. As if it never happened.

My first followup calls were made about three weeks later. All denominations contacted reported attendance had, indeed, gone up. The Crusade had apparently been successful.

Six months later, I checked with each church again. In all contacts, regular attendance had returned to pre-Crusade levels. Reporting later, I termed that “the Graham effect.

It appeared what we’d seen at the Crusade was personal involvement at an emotional moment in some lives. Those walking forward seemed moved to do so right then. But, without ongoing individual reinforcement, those emotions subsided and previous lifestyles returned. Though Graham’s staff had instructed churches how to reinforce the outpouring, it didn’t seem to work.

Drop off in church attendance some months after Graham’s appearance was not isolated. I found it in other cities.

None of this is to disparage Billy Graham or his life’s work. Those who got to their feet and walked did so, I’m sure, with honest feeling and emotion.

We’re seeing something very similar right now with school students moving people to their side through emotion. As with Graham and his Crusades, that’s not a bad thing. But, emotion won’t bring success if there’s no followup – no reinforcement of initial reactions with facts and a solid plan to turn the heartfelt outpouring into long-term support.

My prayer – and I’m sure Rev. Billy would concur – is that national action replaces our individual emotional responses to mass murder. Our individual attention has been “captured.” We need to keep our sympathetic responses alive until November when we’re asked to answer the “altar call” of the ballot box.

Bottom up politics

Author: admin

The United States Congress, as now constituted, is irretrievably broken. Maybe you agree. Maybe you don’t. If not, you can stop right here.

My belief in that statement is simple. The basic reason we have a Congress is to “provide for the common good” by meeting the ever-present needs of the nation at any given time. That may mean economic needs, societal needs, safety, infrastructure replacement or, especially, action in time(s) of war. To do what needs to be done as a nation that can’t be accomplished individually or by lesser bodies of authority.

But Congress is no longer legislating on the basis of national need. In fact, in all honesty, it’s not legislating at all! Needs – critical, life-saving and national needs – are being willfully ignored. The ability to accomplish anything meaningful has been lost in what can best be termed “bunker politics.”

Political success has always been accomplished by negotiation and compromise. I give a little. You give a little. We get the job done. The need is met. Not any more.

Yes, money is a key factor. But, it’s more than that. It’s individual and party entrenchment where one side has to be right and the other wrong. A minefield of distrust, anger, resentment, incumbent survival at all costs and a poisonous atmosphere filled with extreme partisanship separates the two sides. So, failure is predictable. Legislation seems no longer proposed to solve problems. In fact, much of it will create problems. The Idaho Legislature, for example, is now doing exactly that. Two bills have drawn warnings by the Attorney General that the Idaho House and Senate could – again – cost taxpayers millions in losing legal costs if enacted into law.

One piece of legislative cat litter would allow Idaho to ignore any federal laws or regulations somebody doesn’t like. In fact, the State would be prohibited from enforcing them. If this garbage becomes law, taxpayers – voters – will be large dollar losers. Yet again.

The other flotsam would prohibit any hint of Sharia Law in legal or legislative proceedings in the state. Something that’s never been present. Something that never will be. If passed and enacted, it’ll be some law firm’s retirement plan.

Congress, too, has hoppers filled with this crap. Some of it has actually become law! Not to address needs of the nation but the economic needs of billionaires, lobbyists and members of Congress concerned with their own job security.

Congress no longer acts on national needs from the bottom up – health care, homelessness, poverty, security, etc.. Members seem constantly in search of “top down” ways to serve small constituencies of the rich, religious zealots, conspiracy theorists and other special interests, Much like the Idaho Legislature.

All of this – and so much more – makes the November elections so damned important. Replacement candidates are, thankfully, going to be more plentiful – at all levels – than we’ve seen in a very long time. Some will be the self-serving, misfit variety we have now. But many won’t.

A lot of ‘em will be in the political fray for the first time. Many won’t have the experience needed to run successful campaigns. They likely won’t have the economic support necessary. They’ll need volunteers by the dozens. They’ll need access to service clubs and other citizen organizations to get their message out. They’ll need HELP in every way!

From dogcatcher to the Congress of these United States, this election is so very important. We can’t afford more mistakes at the ballot box. If ever we needed an informed electorate to weed out the miscreants, it’s right now.

And that message must come from the bottom up!