A bullet for Jesus

Author: admin

The extended coverage of the Umpqua Community College massacre – much of it wrong or unnecessarily overwrought – has inundated about everyone with a communications device. Lots of real and deserved anguish from and for many folk. But also a lot of fully expected “duck-and-run“ by politicians, strained voices on both sides of the gun debate with nothing helpful to add – also fully expected – with no new answers to keep these killings from continuing. Again.

When reviewing reports of some of the 294 multiple gun murders in the country as of the first of the month – and throwing in Sandy Hook Elementary, Aurora’s movie massacre, the Clackamas shopping center and the rest we’ve become so familiar with – there’s not much new in this one.

They all seem to follow the same script i.e. unsuspecting victims, public areas where we’ve always assumed our safety, a depressed/suicidal/angry or otherwise deranged young male, multiple weapons, a shooter’s decision to die (most of the time), massive law enforcement response, demands for gun control, demands for less gun control, excuses, blame-casting and denial. That about covers it.

But the UCC shooting near Roseburg, Oregon, did have one new wrinkle. A shooter, with no apparent particular religious faith, is said by survivors to have tried to determine which of his targets would die immediately or more slowly for their faith. Which impending victim would say he/she was a Christian – or believed in God – and which wouldn’t. And that got me thinking. Would I take a bullet for my faith? Would I take a bullet for Jesus? Would you? Would anyone? Especially when you’ve just seen fellow classmates killed after answering?

Each person to be murdered or wounded was reportedly asked beforehand about a religious belief? If the answer was “Yes” or “I’m a Christian” or “I believe in God,” the shooter put a bullet in the respondent’s head. In the case of other answers, there was a body shot which might – or might not – kill but would certainly inflict huge pain. It can be surmised most victims – dead or alive – answered one way or the other. What’s not clear is what would’ve been the case if someone responded with “Hebrew,” “Muslim” or “Atheist.” A wound or dead on the classroom floor?

Taking a bullet for Jesus. Not something you can give a quick answer to.

History is full of instances of Christians being killed for no other reason than professing their faith. Or denying it so as not to be killed. One of the first such recorded was when Salome danced and got the head of John the Baptist as payment for services. Or, maybe when Jesus was being tried and sentenced to death. All of his followers – the ones closest to him on this earth – fled. Peter – the “Rock” – even denied him three times in a span of a few hours. No “bullet for Jesus” among even his closest companions. Of the 12, only his brother, John, came to the crucifixion. But, eventually, all of them died violent deaths for being Christians.

We’re told the UCC shooter had expressed an interest in the Irish Republican Army or Irish Catholicism or some such. But he wasn’t known to be affiliated with any religious grouping personally. So why was the questioning of a certain victim’s faith important during what he believed were his own final hours? The answers to that – if answers there be – died with him. Just as well.

Still, there’s that other question. Would you – would I – tell someone with a rifle aimed at us that we were practicing Christians? Would we do that after seeing classmates and friends just murdered for their answer? What would our responses be?

To my deep personal shame – as a self-professed “Christian” – I have to say I don’t know my answer. Believing a statement affirming my “faith” could get me killed on-the-spot, makes the stakes as high as any I’ll face in this life. Opening my mouth – much less coming up with a truthful answer – seems impossible.

But, if I could speak, what words would come tumbling out? A plea for my life made to someone intent on killing? Some sort of effort to get this mad, irrational person to stop in the middle of a mad, irrational act to which he seemed committed? Words of prayer for him and the victims he’d just created? Would I say loudly and firmly, “Yes, I AM a Christian?” Or – nothing. How would I respond?

What would be YOUR answer?

A sheriff scofflaw

Author: admin

Some time ago, I wrote in this space of Oregon’s Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin and his 2013 temper-tantrum letter to Vice President Biden.

Hanlin was putting the VP on notice that he – and now more than 20 other Oregon lawmen – would not be enforcing any new federal gun laws. Further, Hanlin bluntly told VP Biden, his officers would arrest any federal types that came into “his” county to enforce such laws. So there!

Well now, our nation’s latest gun massacre of innocent Americans has taken place in Hanlin’s county, about seven miles from his desk. We’ve got nine grieving families, hundreds of saddened friends and relatives, the cold body of a deranged killer and a national media trying to get Hanlin to say the blood-letting has given him reason to re-evaluate his position.

I know Hanlin. And I’ll give ol’ Wolf Blitzer the Sheriff’s ultimate response. “NO! There will NOT be a change.” Wolfie can take that to the bank.

In my own Oregon county, we’ve got another badge-toter saying he has better things to do. Oregon’s scofflaw lawmen aren’t alone. Many hundreds of these artless dodgers across the country are taking a similar defiant and dangerous stance on gun laws. While all have sworn various oaths to uphold state and federal constitutions, the plain fact is – they aren’t.

Like that crazy, in-it-for-the-money Kentucky county clerk who won’t issue marriage licenses to gay couples, these guys have set themselves apart from the rest of us by openly flouting both their oaths and the law. That clerk, by the way, has signed a book deal and has an agent talking to movie and TV producers. I’m waiting for one of these sheriff guys to follow suit.

There are probably lots of excuses for these “tough” law enforcement guys to hide behind. You’re certain to hear Hanlin’s choice before this is all put to bed and we’re “shocked” by another mass killing spree elsewhere. I’ll give you one scenario I’ve thought about for awhile.

Most sheriffs I know are elected to office. They have to become politicians and openly compete. They have to solicit endorsements from other local political heavyweights, recruit volunteers and raise money. Just like others who want to be on the city council, the county commission or the legislature. Those “talents” are not in the official job descriptions we have for our local law enforcement chiefs. But they’re real.

Playing into that is the fact most people who run for sheriff – and in some communities chief of police – have many years of experience behind them. That’s their prime requirement to compete for the job. In that regard, their concern about future retirement at the public trough is no different from any other civil servant working for any other level of government. Like the rest of us, they’re looking for future monetary security.

Now, given those two factors – personal future job concerns based on all the years of employment already served and having to be a politician who doesn’t want to make enemies among the voters needed to keep you in office – you’ve got a toxic mixture. If the sheriff goes around willy-nilly enforcing all those pesky laws, that could mean stepping on a voter’s toes – or even worse, on those dollar donor’s pinkies. So, well, you can just see longevity in the job would be sorely threatened.

Over the years, I’ve known many, many lawmen at all levels of government. Private, too. The vast majority have been honorable and carried their responsibilities with courage and respectability. Until you mix politics – money and votes – into the mix. Then, my respect factors have taken hits.

I’m not saying the best course would be to appoint or hire sheriffs from the open market. Lots of problems there, too. But we can’t have effective enforcement of our laws – ALL our laws – if fear of losing votes or political support or campaign funding factors into how and which laws are effectively enforced.

Sheriffs know their constituents. They get a feeling for how much enforcement is going to be tolerated and when there will be resistance – even armed resistance- as we’re seeing across the country right now. The easy way out is to not provoke that pushback by aggressive sheriffing. In Oregon and other Western states, gun laws create pushbacks. And while that means public safety is often compromised – and it really is – by looking the other way and letting gun laws slide, some of these guys think that’s important to their political and economic futures.

That’s not the kind of sheriff I want in the job. The guy who blasted nine people off the face of the earth in Roseburg, Oregon, had no concern for the political future of his victims. Or, the economic future of Sheriff Hanlin. If Hanlin and these other guys want to choose which laws they’ll enforce for the good of their retention in office, it’s time voters who need and expect full lawful protection in all instances choose someone else to do the job.

One other thing about Hanlin’s performance bears noting. He told reporters they would never hear him say the name of the shooter. Since Hanlin made himself the chief spokesman between the sheriff’s office and the public, where should news people go to get that name?

Turns out a Los Angeles news bureau came up with it. Hanlin has yet to confirm – or deny – the information.

One of the prime duties of law enforcement, when acting as the lead agency in an emergency or crime, is to get as much information to the public as possible in the shortest time. Hanlin personally put himself in that spot, yet wouldn’t disclose important information his staff had developed and confirmed. And which the public had a right to know.

Seems Sheriff Hanlin won’t enforce laws he doesn’t like and won’t fulfill his public obligation when faced with a situation he finds personally objectionable. Could be he should consider another line of work where the duties he swears to uphold aren’t so personally distasteful.

Term limits testing

Author: admin

There are those who believe term limits for elective office will “fix” some of the problems we face with “career” politicians. While the idea is tempting for some reasons offered by supporters, I’m not convinced. In one Oregon county, we’re about to see if term limits are even legal.

Last year, Douglas county voters approved term limits for just their county. Now, one of the best and most effective commissioners in the state is running into the limit wall and taking the issue to court. While her case pertains to only one county in one state, it offers a look at how the issue could play out elsewhere. And where the courts are on the subject.

Susan Morgan has served two consecutive terms. Prior to that, she was in the Oregon legislature for several years. She’s experienced, effective, dedicated to public service and is as good at her job as they come. She is NOT the kind of public servant you want to lose in some “one-size-fits-all” attempt to rid the system of bad apples.

But, as she attempted to file her re-election papers with the County Clerk, she was rejected because of the Douglas County term limiting law. Viewed from the outside, it appears the clerk was simply doing what he was legally bound to do because of the 2014 referendum. So, Commissioner Morgan has filed what can be called a “friendly” action challenging the law.

In her filing, she says two independent legal opinions have concluded term limiting is “most likely unconstitutional because it imposes additional qualifications on the office of county commissioner (in addition to) the qualifications set out in the state constitution.” Further, “the ordinance limits the rights of voters to vote for the candidate of their choice.”

But, even before Morgan got to the filing stage, Clerk Dana Jenkins had been seeking some legal advice to have on hand if/when the term limits issue came up.

The legal eagle contacted opined the limiting ordinance is more than likely “unconstitutional as it impermissibly imposes additional qualifications to the office of county commissioner.” As for implementation, “It is evident the text and context of the Measure are ambiguous. It clearly imposes a term limit of eight consecutive years (but) is not clear…to whom or when the term limits apply and how they apply. It uses undefined and inconsistent terms and addresses similar concepts multiple times but in different ways.”

Term limiting is another “simple answer to a complex problem.” There are several basic reasons to oppose it. One is the loss of “institutional memory” from those who’ve served for some years. That’s often important because it can keep newcomers/reformers from making the same mistakes of the past. (NOTE: The Idaho Legislature is a stark exception to that as evidenced by the continuing waste of tax dollars in repeated losing attempts to fight both state and federal law. And common sense.) Institutional memory is more often than not deemed a good thing in almost any other field – and any other state – and is certainly important in public service areas.

Throwing excellent, long-serving office holders out just for the arbitrary mathematic hell of it also means more power for lobbyists who’re often around for many years. The newly elected would have to rely on the “institutional memory” of professional “civilians” paid to influence lawmaking. Is that how you want the process to work?

That same transfer of power would go to long-serving – but unelected – civil servants who’re also around for decades in their careers. If one such “servant” wanted to thwart creation of a new law – or of some elected lawmaker – he/she could just wait around, outlasting the office holder trying to get something done.

There are many other reasons why the seemingly simple “solution” offered by term limits would not be in the nation’s – county’s – state’s best interests. As the Morgan suit moves through the legal system, I expect many such problems will be duly expressed.

I’ve known Republican Commissioner Morgan for a number of years and would put her in the ranks of the best elected officials I’ve ever met, regardless of office. In some ways, it’s too bad such an effective politician has to be the test case for a bad law. On the other hand, she’s respected all over Oregon because of her tireless work in the legislature and elsewhere. It could be her justifiably respected reputation will assure her legal action is expeditiously handled by the courts before she gets to the absolute filing deadline and Douglas County loses her talents. And experience.

I admire many professionals who support term limits. I just disagree. Besides, we’ve already got ‘em. It’s called the ballot. Use it. It works!

“Off your ass”

Author: Barrett Rainey

I know many people in many occupations – the vast majority of whom I admire. But, once in awhile, someone comes along who is so absolutely unsuited in a chosen career, you just have to just say “DAMN!” The continued under performance of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is the most worthy example of that epithet as anyone I know.

John Boehner is not just bad at his job. He’s set a new low bar for achieving badness. And crudeness And divisiveness. And spinelessness. And arrogance. And crassness. Actually, his bar is now flat on the floor.

Boehner’s televised “Democrats-ought-to-get-off-their-ass” outburst some weeks ago, betrays what little is left of 240+ years of decorum in the operations of our Congress. You can go back to the “You Lie!” shout from that idiot South Carolina Republican during the President’s “State of the Union” speech a couple years ago. That cretin was not punished or censured for his arrogance and obvious violation of House rules. After that, others of his ilk started spewing more vitriol and verbal garbage into the House record. Spend some time reading that daily log and you’ll find a lot of crap you’ve not heard before. For mental health reasons, I don’t recommend it.

Boehner’s words might be something you’d expect to hear as he talked to other Republicans in his suite of offices. Or the Ohio bar he grew up in. Probably worse. But not on national television and not in your living room.

If those words are meant to express some sort of personal disgust with who he sees as his “foes” in Washington, he ought to seek out those other members of what passes for Congressional leadership these days and say what he feels directly. Facing a scrum of reporters with microphones and cameras is the coward’s way of throwing around verbal abuse without having to look the abused in the eyes, then listen to someone his equal – or better – respond with a few well-chosen and pointed words of their own.

Boehner is no fool. You don’t amass a survival record such as his by being outwitted and outmaneuvered by your adversaries. But, since his caucus was first contaminated with the crazies from the old Tea Party crowd, he’s acted like one – more often that not playing their game rather than his own. If he once thought giving the governmentally-ignorant back-benchers a small voice in the direction of the House was going to appease them, he certainly knows by now appeasement is not part of their square worlds. Yet he’s still being operated like a hand puppet by that vocal minority of minorities.

Boehner’s words and attitude are just part of what’s wrong with too much of our politics these days. People in government with little to no understanding of how that government works or even fulfilling their own job descriptions. Civically illiterate. Just listen to ‘em talk. Painful as that is. Idaho’s Raul Labrador comes to mind for some reason.

Look at all the GOP rabbits running for president. Twisting, turning, denying past positions on issues, pandering, lying. None of them – not one – can utter a statement of personal belief without following up with a whimpering disclaimer if they think you disagree with ‘em. All of ‘em are trying to find some “safe spot” in the midst of the political winds so they can slip under the radar of real public questioning.

Democrats have little to brag about. The whole pack is standing around waiting for the Clinton coronation at convention. Biden, Sanders, Webb, O’Malley not going anywhere. Quick now. Come up with another realistic Democrat. Quick. The next tier for any sort of candidate is so far removed from consideration they’ll be lucky to even get credentials to the convention.

Really, is this the best this nation can do? Are the names out there – regardless of party – names of people you want in the Oval Office? Are they capable of negotiating with leaders of other nations? Are they thoughtful, strategic-thinking heavyweights? Do they have positions on issues important to you that are morally and intellectually honest? Is any one of them someone you’d go to for help or you’d want to confide in?

So far, I haven’t found one. And we damn-well need one. Now!

From that unpunished cretin who hollared “You lie” with no consequences to the “Democrats-ought-to-get-off-their-ass” crassness of Boehner, we’re witnessing the kinds of small-minded politicians who are feverishly dividing a nation. They represent the worst political cancer of perpetuating themselves in office rather than being the cure of honest public service.

There’s a reason why the Koch’s and other billionaires have turned their attentions to the 50 statehouses. They’ve succeeded in poisoning the waters in Congress with people who’ve crippled it. Now, they’re attempting to “breed” the next generation of office seekers in state politics where most in Congress come from. With the full bought-and-paid-for participation of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), their work to build an oligarchy they can control is doing real damage to our entire nation.

It’s not just the Democrat targets of Boehner’s disgraceful remark who need to “get off their ass.” It’s the rest of us. Off our asses and into the polling places where we can deliver some electoral justice. Surely we can do better.

Aw, shoot

Author: admin

Remember when a teacher/professor once gave you a low grade you didn’t think you deserved? As you dealt with the shock of the perceived injustice, you probably said something like “I’ll get him” or “I could just kill!” Well, now a days, friends, you can actually do that.

About a year ago, a grad student at the University of Maryland just picked up the old .45, made a beeline for the prof’s office and BANG! No more undeserved, low grades from that S-O-B. You showed him!

Sorry to say, that educational tragedy was not a first. No, not by a – pardon the phrase – long shot. Universities, colleges and even public schools have been the locales of low grade avengers, fraternity haters, slighted sorority pledges, disgruntled athletes and even a jilted staff member or academic or two. This week it was an apparent love triangle at Mississippi’s Delta University. The Smith & Wesson solution has been all too apparent.

Which got me thinking. Aside from the ivy-clad walls of higher education, where else have we innocents been used as clay pigeons by the unhinged. Let’s see, now. Theaters, bars, gymnasiums, school lunchrooms, banks, classrooms, grocery stores, shopping malls, car dealerships, doctors and dentists’s offices, beauty salons, barbershops, interstate highways, airports and airplanes, cruise ships, marinas, football, basketball or baseball seating areas, sidewalks, a plethora of stores in shopping malls, mobile home parks, funeral homes, churches, synagogues, museums, art galleries, military bases, hospitals, nursing homes, city halls, county courthouses, state capitol buildings, under the U.S. Capitol dome, the White House, backyards, living rooms, bedrooms and – as in the Pistorius case – the ever lovin’ bathroom.
In case I missed a few, go ahead and add your own.

The American public has been worried for years about “right to privacy” and being under surveillance by cameras here, there and everywhere. Not me. I gave up stressing about strange folks watching and listening to my comings and goings long ago. The damned devices are everywhere with more coming. Including those nearly silent drones we can’t hear and don’t see whirring over our heads. Can’t be stopped. No, Sir! I’ve just made up my mind to dress better and pay more attention to my personal appearance with so many agencies and governments watching and listening.

I’m far more stressed by going to a movie. Or, shopping for new clothes. Or, wandering a used car lot. Or, sitting in a prayerful mood at church. Or, jogging the nearest greenbelt – driving the interstate – sitting at a stoplight – stopping for a latte. I get nervous now in my dentist or doctor’s waiting room. Noises I used to think were cars backfiring or blasting from a movie soundtrack now send me behind a tree or under the seat in front.

We used to be the good ol’ U.S. of A. But now, U.S. of A means “United State of the Armed.” Thanks to the N-R-A – and all the political cowards that won’t tell ‘em to take their money and “shove it” – we’ve traded our “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” for becoming shooting targets agt anyh moment we try to reach for those lofty guarantees.

The same bastards who wrap themselves in a “Constitution” they’ve likely never read – and which far too many don’t understand – are in danger of taking away the rights assured by that document for the rest of us. Including those who HAVE read the damned thing. And DO understand it.

How did we get to be a nation that witnesses Americans of all ages being blown away because of a idiotic gun culture instead of living under our recognized system of laws and of enforcement of those laws?

When the boys in Philly signed off on the Constitution in 1776, they realized a lot of the new American communities needed to be protected when the men of those communities were out fighting in the Continental Army. So they provided for a “well-armed militia” to protect the home front. Good idea then. Before creation of the National Guard as an instrument of “protecting the home front.”

Second Amendment rights have been twisted into a contorted definition meaning any breathing soul has a “right” to be able to kill anyone he/she pleases regardless of competence or mental state. That has to stop!

The N-R-A uses a scoring system to determine which member of Congress will receive an uncontested primary or access to outsized political handouts. The higher the score, the more loved/rewarded you are by its old PAC. Well, here’s a “breaking news” flash for Wayne LaP. I’ve checked on your rankings for every politicians on my ballot in 2016. Any of them scoring higher than zero will not get my vote. Makes no difference the political party or where that person is on any other issue.

I used to loudly condemn “single issue” voting. But this issue – an Americans’ right to live life without being in someone’s cross hairs – is just too damned important.

Happily watching a public falling out among political thieves is one of my more harmless diversions – particularly when it’s the right wing where such events are regular and always predictable. It’s happening again. This time, it’s the big guys. The really big guys. And a whole political party. And I don’t mean that jerk Trump. And it’s been a really big insider secret.

A couple of years ago, I noted in a previous column how the then-reclusive Kochsters were gutting the top level staff of the National Republican Committee. Charley and Davy wanted to step up their cancerous growth on the body politic. So, they went looking for talent. They settled on the top GOP staff and proceeded to lure many of ‘em out with big bucks. Really big bucks.

They nearly cleaned out the information technology office at the top. They also took several department folk who knew the ins and outs of mailing lists and operations of GOP field offices. They paid highly – read richly bought – a pollster or two. Poor ol’ Reince Priebus almost wound up alone.

They did one other – at the time – curious thing. Charley and Davy laid out some of their greenbacks to help what was left of the GOP crew develop some new computer software – programming that would identify such things as all state office staffs, workers – paid and unpaid – and a very snazzy voter identification system. Rience apparently agreed if only in an effort to stop the talent raiding and keep at least some of his staff intact. The deal was the GOP would do the development work and the Koch’s would pay the bill. For two years or so. Then they’d talk again.

Some months back, it was time for that talk. But Charley and Davy had other ideas. Apparently, in the original agreement, there was a clause allowing the Kochs to duplicate all that software and all the goodie information it contained. And guess what’s believed to have happened?

The Koch’s – who have more money than the national GOP AND Trump combined – and who can raise more money than the national GOP – now apparently have at least a working copy of all the computer files and all the voter info the national GOP thought it owned exclusively. It appears the stage is set for Charley and Davy to step up and over Reince’s body and what’s left of the NRC and go straight to voters with ad campaigns, direct mail, registration efforts and voter identification. Whoops! Wha’ hoppened?

The plain fact is the Kochs appear now even more in a position to become major and even more viable actors on the American political stage. They’ve got the bucks – they’ve got a new and higher public profile – and they’ve got direct access to millions of voters. Seems to me all this mostly defines what a political party is supposed to be. They now seem to be one!

The Kochs and all their various political fronts have been playing fast and loose with the truth for several years now. So have Priebus and his minions. Rience has dictatorially tried to limit debates, limit media access, pick and choose media “favorites,” stack the cards for who gets the most national GOP support. Hint: those running for office that sign “no tax” pledges, hold the line on abortion, help disenfranchise whole classifications of voters and generally see things his way.

But now, all the GOP office-holders – and would-be GOP office-holders – have a new voice in their ears. Make that “voices.” Trump. And Charley and Davy. Directly. Distinctly. With the background sound of dollars clinking. Dollars they own. Dollars they can give. Dollars they can withhold. More of ‘em than the national GOP.

It would seem the Koch boys have – or will soon possess – a parallel Republican Party. It would also seem the boys have reduced – or are about to reduce – the national GOP to National Republican Party Lite.

Now, some reading this may say “Look, Rainey. The National Republican Party is a recognized national political entity with a long history and lots of resources. These Koch guys may have big bucks but they’re just a couple of guys. And, while they may have some clout, they’re more like the tail on the elephant.”

Oh, yeah, sez I? Consider what a teenager with a bad complexion and an anti-social streak can do with his laptop in his basement in Cincinnati. One such teen can use today’s technology to infiltrate federal computers, bring large banks to their knees with a few keystrokes and tap into national security files. All with just a bit more knowledge about technology than the average bear. And the Koch’s ain’t your “average bears.”

With massive amounts of information they now apparently “own,” Charley and Davy can do a lot more than that Cincinnati kid. With their various front organizations, a heavy hand in the affairs of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) – which has operatives in every state capitol – and with the political propensity of many political candidates to grovel for folks/companies with big bucks, seems to me the Koch’s are more scary now than they’ve ever been. Being “outed” by the media hasn’t reduced their clout. It’s just easier to see what that clout is and how/where they use it.

The public falling out of thieves. But it’s really more than that. It’s about the largest power grab in American politics in the last 80-90 years. And it almost got past us.

This is something that needs watching. Notice I didn’t say “fun to watch.” ‘Cause “fun” it ain’t!

Breaking news

Author: admin

Well, here we are. It’s been about seven weeks. Time for a “battle” report and a list of “casualties” from the latest “occupations” – er, locations – of “Operation Jade Helm 15.”

I’ve reached out to friends and readers in all seven Western states where “massed” federal troops have been operating. I’ve asked all to check local vacant Walmart’s to get a prisoner count. Really check ‘em. Not just look in the dirty windows because civilians who’ve been “rounded up” are supposed to held in the basements of empty stores. I’ve never seen a Walmart with a basement but that’s where we’ve been told the captives are.

So far – in just over seven weeks – I’ve received not a single report of citizen “prisoners” stemming from Jade Helm. Nope. Not one. Which means either the civilians are cleverer than we thought or SEALS and Rangers haven’t learned a thing in recent engagements overseas.

Our crew of “searchers” has also been checking with county clerks by the dozens – looking for newly recorded documents describing federal property “takings” by the invading forces. So far, none. Not one!

And this has been a very, very thorough search. We’ve looked at Bastrop/Smithville, Big Spring, Caddo Lake, Christoval, Dell City, Eldorado, Goliad, Junction, Leakey, Menard and Victoria. And that’s just in Texas. No community larger than a Birch Society cell meeting has been spared our research over seven states. None!

Still, the old I-net machine is ablaze with warnings – extreme warnings – of the dangers inherent in “several thousand” U.S. military forces running amok on our home soil. We’re being told those of us on the outskirts of this “invasion” have no idea how large it is and how “out-of-control” the “thousands” of soldiers, sailors and Marines have become. Nor are we being told of the martial law declarations and destruction of private property going on in several states. It’s got to be damned scary!!!

We’re also being warned not to listen to “official” news coming out of the Pentagon or from the “Jade Helm” headquarters locations. To hear their official blather, you’d think there were only about 1,200 military personnel involved – drawn from just about any branch you can name – rather than the “thousands” we “know” are “really” out there. And all this official crap about the economic gains in cities and towns where the feds are operating? Just more government “propaganda.” Don’t you believe it.

But not to worry. At least in Texas. Because the governor called out the National Guard to keep wary watch on the U.S. military so nothing illegal or un-American takes place. Except – the Texas Guard’s not out there any more. Seems the old Guv came to his senses after looking like a public fool and told all the Guard guys to go home. He’d handle it. Quietly.

Comedian George Gobel was on “The Tonight Show” some years ago. During the Korean “war,” he trained bomber pilots in Waco, Texas. Very proficient flying instructor was he. His proof? With him flying bombers in Waco, no invading enemy aircraft made it east of Houston. Not one.

Which seems to sort of sum up the conspiracy crackpot outcries of “Jade Helm” crazies. Because of these “alert citizens” and their leaping to action, no American military “invaders” in seven states have been successful undermining local authority, locking up civilians or taking private property.

But, idiotic as all this “Jade Helm” paranoia has been – and continues to be despite proof to the contrary if any proof were needed – it’s only a short mental step from there to the most incompetent, unqualified and disastrous field of presidential candidates offered in recent years. Most would be as embarrassing and frightening as Commander-In Chief as the Texas governor has been, with his nut-ball appeal to a crazy voter base.

Our national politics are awash in craziness, paranoia and ignorance. We’re told people are “angry” and “frustrated” with government, that we lack leadership and direction. The knock on Pres. Obama has been he wasn’t experienced enough to be president. Yet Trump and the accompanying class of miscreants are all appealing to people who say they don’t want “professional politicians” to run the country. Huh?

“Jade Helm” craziness continues with not a shred of proof anything was amiss with it or the similar military exercises in the years that came before. But the mental vacuum of thousands of citizens continues. So, too, the political campaign continues with idiocy, unsupported accusations, baseless “facts,” phony claims and paranoia among candidates rushing all directions to attract an audience. Any audience. Like that Texas governor.

If anyone knows of a vacant Walmart store with a basement, we may really have need of one.

James Earl Carter

Author: admin

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good, bad and ugly: Us

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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