There a few changes in military recruiting stations since I signed up in one many, many years ago. Most now are staffed by members of each branch of the military rather than just one recruiter who could sign you up for any service. Today, they’re often located in strip malls rather than office buildings as they used to be. Slick promotional DVDs of colorful military action have replaced the old, dog-eared pamphlets.

My recruiter back then was an old “tanker.” I wanted the Air Force but that old sarge was pure Army from his shorts out. He wore a back brace, had “locked” knees and gnarled hands that gripped two canes. He’d served in North Africa under Patton where temperatures in those steel coffins topped 120 degrees daytime and dropped to the 40’s at night. Repeated exposure to cold and condensation caused crippling arthritis. He was overweight and deformed but he recruited with the best of ‘em.

These days, recruiters all look like they posed for “best-of-the-best” posters with tailored uniforms, all leather shined to a high gloss, smartly pressed pants, permanent-pleat shirts and regulation haircuts kept that way by nearly daily trips to the barber.

This description of latter-day recruiters probably fit all the personnel in that Tennessee recruiting station the day they were murdered. The day a deranged soul, with a semi-automatic, butchered five unarmed men. But “deranged” doesn’t stop there.

Flipping through Faux Neus a few days ago, I happened across “Judge Jeannie.” Her right wing rant was the recruiting office murders and how “Obama is to blame.” Not President Obama. Just “Obama is to blame.” And, from somewhere in the demented Faux audience, the network has dug up a Black police chief as much a racist as any white I’ve ever seen.

Let’s take a minute to discuss “Judge Jeannie.” Jeannie Pirro was 12 years a county court judge in Westchester County, NY. During that time, lobbyist husband, Albert, was convicted of tax evasion and conspiracy involving over $1 million. Jeannie was investigated by the feds for illegally taping her husband’s phones, trying to catch him committing adultery and other things. American “family values” at their best.

Jeannie made runs for lieutenant governor and U.S. senator with “significant contributions” from her ex’s friends while he remained in the slammer. But she couldn’t raise enough money or political support from the public and withdrew both times. Rejection. Then Faux Neus. With her non-journalistic background and political failures – a natural.

Back to the present. Jeannie’s charge was that “Obama” had prohibited recruiters from being armed. Not true. Except to her. If “Obama had not stopped recruiters from having guns they could’ve defended themselves and wouldn’t be dead.” The chief agreed! Repeatedly. Another “Obama failing.” said he. I flipped off – before I flipped out.

I’d bet the farm no president of these United States ever knew – or had given much though to – whether recruiters had guns in recruiting stations. I’d wager the same that no president – including the current one – ever ordered recruiters be armed or not armed. Like so many other Faux Neus charges about “Obama’s failures,” no thought has been given to cabinet secretaries, department heads, the IRS, Joint Chiefs of Staff or anyone else in government supervisory roles. Just “Obama.”

Successful recruiters have two main tools. First, they must look, talk and act like the best each branch of service has to offer. Many are combat vets with a lot of “salad dressing” on their chests. They’re smart, well-trained to “read” people, conversational, use proven sales tactics to make a case for new recruits to see “the best the military offers.” It’s a sales job. “Products” are patriotism, travel, education, lifetime careers, advancement and all the things young people look for and ask about.

Most recruiting offices are in malls or strip malls. Years of testing found access important for recruitment. The Tennessee office was next to an Italian restaurant. You can’t stash recruiters away someplace “safe” and you can’t arm them for defensive postures any more than you’d buy a car from a guy in a bulletproof glass cage. They are not in the offices to “return fire” when some nut – deranged local or terrorist – takes a shot.

Recruiting offices will continue to be targets for attack. They represent the American military – “the Great Satan” – and are not equipped repel armed cowards hitting “soft” targets. Like schools in Afghanistan or weddings in Iraq. There is no bulletproof way to change that. Not if recruiters are to be effective in their work. Before international terrorism made their offices hazardous duty.

The military will figure this out and do what it has to. No, I’m more worried about the “Judge Jeannie’s” of this world who keep up the lies and false propaganda to stir up people who fall for her B.S.. Far too many do. To me, she’s more the “enemy within.” Millions accept what she says without question – without checking – without confirmation of any kind – because she’s that “nice looking lady.” “And she’s a judge.”

No, my friends. She’s just another Faux Neus hack with clay feet up to her chin. She’s had her turn with both sides of the law. You want a friend? Go talk to a recruiter. They’re far more honest.

As for the civilian nuts showing up to “protect” the military, go home before you hurt someone and get sued down to your red-white-and-blue shorts.

Enough, already

Author: admin

To regain some semblance of peace of mind and order in my life, and at the risk of alienating anyone who comes upon these words, I gotta say it: I’ve heard enough of Caitlyn and/orBruce Jenner and all her/his in-laws in the Kardasian family to ever want to hear the names of any of them ever again!

There. I’ve said it. And I’m glad! GLAD, do you hear?

The media’s obsession with anything Kardasian for a couple of years now has been mind-numbing and supremely irritating. This bunch of talent-less, overly made-up society wannabe’s has been overexposed in every media you can think of. And, in just about any way imaginable. Aside from putting money back into the economy by over-the-top spending on things totally unnecessary, nothing and no one named Kardasian has contributed anything meaningful or otherwise important to society from the git-go. They are takers – not givers. They live off the fatheads of the land – and media overexposure – giving nothing back.

As for Jenner, my ire is less directed at her as it is the damned media for creating an environment in which none of us can escape the latest beauty shot or the latest completely unimportant quote about the gender transformation and all other aspects of her new life.

I’ve admired Bruce Jenner’s athletic achievements over the decades since his amazing Olympic decathlon win. You don’t do what he did without supreme dedication and an inner drive most of us never know. Athletic excellence. He whipped all comers in all events of the competition and deserved all the Wheaties boxes we saw on breakfast tables for years. Well done, Sir! Well done!

But – that was then. This is now. I neither praise nor condemn what Jenner has decided to do about his sexual identity. His life. His body. His decision – based on whatever personal prompting has caused him to take the action. The singular fact which has given him such massive over-exposure in recent months is that he was somewhat famous for his athletic feats all those years ago. AND – wait for it – he married into the Kardasian clan. That bunch of overly made-up wastrels national media can’t get enough of.

The life-altering course Jenner has set for himself is his and his alone. While his previous athletic accomplishments probably guaranteed media attention to some degree, it should be remembered gender altering is not new. Nor, is it especially noteworthy in our times. For some, complete gender change means surgery – a medical procedure not uncommon in world operating suites. As taxpayers, we’ve paid for convicted criminals to do it behind bars. We’ve even got one person in a federal slammer for betraying national secrets who’s making a physical switch. On our tab.

This morning, as I shuffled through the daily reading of The Huffington Post, I found an article on the front page about a public appearance Jenner made recently. With picture. Continuing through the various sections, I found three more Jenner “stories.” All with pictures! All in the same issue.

At the moment, this nation is deeply involved in a terribly important discussion of a nuclear treaty with Iran – racial problems from border to border – a congress full of deadheads doing their damndest to drive us into the ditch – a Mideast cauldron boiling near the spillover point – people hungry in the streets – homelessness in never-before-seen numbers – the first phase of a presidential contest filled with the most unqualified and, in some cases, outright contemptible “candidates.”

But instead of thoughtful, descriptive and thorough reporting on all this, our media is filled with Jenner and her in-laws.

It would be easy to fault the media. It’d be even easier to cast blame by the boatload on ‘em for the mindless electronic invasion of nothingness. But the fault really is us. You and me. If television ratings, focus groups, “Q” scores and other accepted indicators of public interest, weren’t hugely responsive to the Jenner/Kardasian minutiae, it probably wouldn’t exist in our living rooms and our computer screens.

With several generations raised on a bloated diet of sensationalism, phony celebrity, vacuous reporting by an ever-fawning media and return-on-investment thinking determining the lowest denominator for increasing media sales, we should not be surprised at the Jenner/Kardasian overkill. We’ve told them – through circulation numbers and ratings – what we want to see, what fascinates us and what will cause us to turn on the TV. We’ve done it to ourselves.

But those numbers didn’t come from this household. Nor – I would hope – from yours. The “bread and circuses” mentality of TV networks and national newspapers is dangerous to our health. The Jenner-Kardasian show does not belong in our diets. Like cholesterol, that crap blocks a lot of information we really need to stay healthy.

Welcome, Donald

Author: admin

Much is heard these days about Democrats welcoming Donald Trump to the 2016 presidential primaries, hoping he’ll really screw things up for Republicans. Much is also heard from many GOPers along the lines of “What the hell is Donald Trump doing screwing up our primaries?” My lone voice says, “Welcome, Donald Trump. What took you so long?”

I’ve been waiting for that most able representative of the worst in American politics to get beyond “threatening to run” to the real thing for a long, long time. I’m not saying he’ll actually do it – because he won’t. He’d have to eventually publish too much of his financial holdings to ever fully and officially qualify for the nomination. That he’ll never do.

No, it’s 99.44% certain Trump won’t be on your November, 2016, ballot. It’s also just as sure he’ll be center stage for many more months. If you’re surprised by his verbosity and dominance thus far, you shouldn’t be. The Republican candidate garden has been cross-pollinating this political weed for years. Trump is that weed taken to the extreme.

As the original Tea Party began devouring the Republican elephant more than 10 years ago, it regurgitated pre-Trump ancestors. Bachman, Gohmert, King, Issa, Mo Brooks, Don Young, Jeff Denham, Dana Rohrabacher, Duncan Hunter, Ted Yoho, Tim Huelskamp, Steve Scalise, Kevin Kramer, Mark Sanford, Jeff Duncan, Kristi Noem, Raul Labrador, Marsha Blackburn, Sam Johnson, Jeb Hensarling, Joe Barton and a couple dozen more. These spawn began devouring anything moderate in the national GOP about 2004. Dozens of level-headed, knowledgeable and acceptable Republicans were eaten alive at the polls by supporters of these nuts, or the good people just quit after trying to deal with the lies, the intransigence and nasty politics.

Though Trump has been playing around in the Republican gene pool for some years, before that he was a Democrat doing the same thing on a much quieter level. He’s old, very tarnished goods. He didn’t spring full-throated to his present undeserved prominence. The above list of much-lesser, politically-challenged earthworms preceded him, breaking up the anti-intellectual ground and sprinkling it with verbal B.S. so Trump’s most recent incarnation could be hardier stock.

The soil that grew a Donald Trump now covers the GOP garden. It’s from this diseased earth the crazies have sprung. The ones condemning nearly everything governmental. The insane voices in Texas, for example, frothing at the mouth about “secret tunnels and holding cells under empty Walmart stores” where “President Obama plans to confine them” after a long-planned military exercise starting this week. Obama taking absolute dictatorial control so there’ll be no 2016 presidential elections.” Martial law. Armed U.S. Army soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians.

Nourished by verbal excrement of Limbaugh, Beck, Savage, Ingraham and too many others to name – loons who’d normally be left to solitary mutterings are being fed tainted diets of lies and half-truths with which to weave conspiracies and whole worlds of ignorant fantasies. With superb monetary largesse from the Kochs, the NRA, Heritage Foundation, Birch Society, Faux Neus and self-serving political voices, they cling to any word that appears to justify and nourish their demented existence.

Donald Trump is the wall Republicans need to smash into before possibly bouncing back to more moderate positions – something acceptable to us normal folk. Like purging a contaminated water supply, Trump might be the impetus for thinking GOPers to finally act to retake control of what’s left of their party and do some thorough housecleaning. Because it’s now just the party of the old. Of white males. Of vanishing support. Of dwindling numbers at the polls.

One other thing about Trump and the current defective crop of GOP candidates. These “candidates” are not supported by a lot of people who, if their guy loses, will say “Oh, well” and get on someone else’s bandwagon. No, Sir. These are people who will either stay home come election day or will willingly subvert, by any means, the guy who beat their guy. They represent the zealotry of what passes for modern-day Republicanism. “Coming together” is unacceptable to zealots.

The Republican party may take a shellacking at the polls in 2016. Not everywhere. But enough to further diminish the already decreasing size of its share of the electoral pie. Not because of a Clinton or a Sanders. But because more and more folks, who usually frequent that part of the ballot, are coming to realize those running their party are as ignorant and impotent as trickle-down economics.

Trump’s embarrassing use of the Republican brand to further his own fortunes may sound the clarion call for smarter, more reasonable people to step up in and take control. This country NEEDS a healthy GOP! Soon! Donald’s as unfit as it comes in his “candidacy.” Were it not for his demented outlook on nearly everything, he’d be a cartoon character. But he ain’t funny.

Trump could be the wake-up call the GOP needs to be viable again. His racist, war-mongering, exhibitionist rhetoric may be his own undoing. Damn, I hope so!

Scofflaw sheriffs

Author: admin

His name is Dennis Dotson. Probably doesn’t mean anything special to you. More than likely you couldn’t pick him out of a lineup. Unless you live in Lincoln County, Oregon. Here, it’s Sheriff Dotson to us. At the moment, he’s giving me reason to doubt my vote in our last election.

The Good Sheriff is just one of more than a half dozen in our little state to renounce a new Oregon law he doesn’t believe in and has promised lax- if any – enforcement. Seems he’s a practitioner of a sickness that’s been sweeping the country lately: elected officials turning their backs on laws they don’t like or agree with.

In Dotson’s case, it’s the result of a new law requiring – requiring – nearly all gun sales in our state include at least a cursory background check. Even sales between private individuals. Seems like a damned fine idea to me. But not to our High Sheriff. And a few others.

No, he’s pissed. While not saying he’ll ignore our new legal requirement for gun sales, his reaction was “We’ll put enforcement on the back burner because we’ve got a lot of other things with higher priority.” In other words, law be damned. In more other words, “I’ve got to run for re-election soon and I’m not going to enforce a law that may return me to private life and no pension.” Or something to that effect.

This is not the first time Oregon sheriffs – and to some extent sheriffs nationally – have decided they don’t like their chances of re-election if they enforce an unpopular law. Several years back, the U.S. Attorney General emphasized federal authorities can step in and enforce gun laws if local representatives of any stripe don’t. Or won’t. Not only did many sheriffs throw a hissy-fit that someone from “outside” might make them live up to the oaths of office they’d all taken. Some even promised to arrest and jail the legally-constituted feds.

Now a tidy number of Oregon sheriff’s have joined county clerks in other states who’ve also become law breakers; clerks refusing to honor a U.S. Supreme Court decision by issuing marriage licenses to LGBTs. Clerks, all of whom – like the lawmen and law women – had taken an oath to perform all legally prescribed duties of their offices. Oaths of office, they’re called. Oaths. Promises to uphold all laws.

So now, as a nation, what the Hell do we do? Is someone in authority a step or two above these miscreants going to have to go from state to state – office to office – to force compliance with our laws? Do legally constituted authorities – a link or two up the food chain – step in and jail ‘em? Do we have recall drives for every recalcitrant sheriff and clerk?

Many of these lawbreakers – badged or not – claim no one can remove them from office but voters. They hide under a claim that they’re “constitutionally elected” which gives them some sort of perceived immunity from being forced to do something. Or to be responsive.

At the same time, you and I know, if some of these sheriffs who won’t enforce a gun law – even a simple, common-sense gun law – faced a recall, they’d beat a recall vote. Gun owners, many of whom haven’t been to the polls since WWII, would show up en masse to support anyone they believed was being “forced” to uphold “unjust” laws regarding guns. If the feds stepped in, there’d be shots fired.

I was raised to believe laws are not government suggestions. They aren’t informal directions to help us get along with each other. They’re requirements for a certain behavior – do something or not do something because it’s a law.

So, what do we do? Should I take a page from our local sheriff and drive 60mph in a 35 zone because my personal belief is that 35mph is far too slow and I’ve got important things to do? Should I drive 20mph above posted limits through high school speed zones because I believe kids that age are old enough to take care of themselves? If I find prices charged at the county landfill are too high – maybe onerous – can I just dump my trash along some deserted road?

If constitutionally elected law men – and law women – openly declare which laws they’ll enforce and which they’ll ignore, what becomes of our society? If legislatures can write laws – if cities and counties can enact ordinances – if congress and the president create a law – what happens when the rest of us turn our backs and act as if nothing has changed?

And, if I want to fly my confederate flag in your face, who’s going to put a stop to it?

Election to public office confers no “above-the-law” or “laws-don’t-apply-to-me” exemption. Yet that’s what these folks who won at the ballot box are telling us. Sheriffs. Clerks. Legislators. Member of Congress.

What do we do about it?

Shame enough for all

Author: admin

It’s been about two weeks since South Carolina’s Governor Haley kicked off the “Ban-The-Confederate-Flag” Olympics. Living here in our far-removed Northwest neighborhood, we haven’t seen or heard much more about the aftermath. At least less than I would have thought. But don’t think all’s quiet in the Confederacy.

In these few days, seven Black churches in three states have burned, though two may have started by some means other than arson. Still, five out of seven is substantial for 14 days. Several Black women pastors have received anonymous letters threatening them and their families. Videos are surfacing of race baiters/rednecks with Confederate flags waving on gun-toting pickups, driving fast and wild through Black neighborhoods in several states. Southern talk radio is filled with demands to save the old banner and condemning all who disagree as “crazy racist Yankees.” White-on-black crime is up. Wonder how the How should all of us feel about that.

I’ve been tickled watching Southern politicians of all stripes trying to figure which way to jump on this one. Some Democrats – not all – have gotten on-board with the banishment. Republicans – most all – are trying to figure out which way the re-election winds are blowing before making “commitments” to one side or the other. A few GOPers have dug in their heels, issuing firm “maybes” in press releases while dodging the media.

Southern newspaper editorial opining is all over the Confederate map. Letters from readers defending the flag are running much higher than those wanting it gone. Paid ads supporting keeping the flag are commonplace. Radio and TV, too.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not defending the flag or other public symbols of the old Confederacy. Not by a long shot. No, what concerns me is some voices are going too far with this “cleansing” of public conscience. Ol’ Mitch McConnell wants a statue of Jeff Davis tossed out of the Kentucky Statehouse. Same efforts in Virginia and North Carolina. Certain members of Congress – with nothing better to do – are carefully scrutinizing replicas in Statuary Hall on Capitol Hill, looking for candidates for the scrap heap. Funny thing about that is a lot of ‘em have been wandering to and fro in Statuary Hall for years without even a glance at the marble works.

Feeding all this is the usual mindless blathering of the national media. We’re being inundated with “experts” on this-that-and-the-other who appear as ignorant about Civil War era details as the makeup-covered faces posing stupid questions. Heard one chemical blonde the other day ask, “What do you think slaves would say about this issue today?” She obviously slept through a few classes in both journalism AND history.

But, lest we get too cocky in our geographical detachment from the center of the current Confederate issues, we should not forget our own historical wrongdoing and one of this nation’s most tragic sins – Japanese-American internment camps of World War II.

On orders of President Roosevelt – loudly and embarrassingly urged on by Idaho’s Sen. Borah – we abridged rights of citizenship, illegally confiscated private property in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and confined hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans in conditions sometimes less habitable than those of the South’s slave days. Our Northwest vastness was dotted with plywood and tar paper barracks in which people roasted while suffering in summer heat, then nearly froze to death while suffering in winter’s harshness. All the while surrounded by high, wire fences and armed guards. Under the American flag.

Often, some of those mixed-race Americans were farmed out to tend to land and crops formerly their own – holdings many eventually lost. We used them as conscripted labor for war projects. We provided poorly for their basic human needs. And we made them the butt of racial “jokes” and irrational thinking. Bad as it was then, what if today’s hate radio and I-net had been around in those days?

No, the Confederate flag and all its attendant issues may be geographically beyond our horizons. We may shrug and give little serious thought to the south’s history of bigotry, slavery and state’s rights dramas. But, in truth, we’re brothers and sisters in denying a generation of civil rights for thousands of innocent people here in our own backyard.
Bigotry comes in many forms. I dearly hope the South and employment-seeking politicians don’t sweep too much history of slavery and racism into the garbage heap. But, I also pray we, in our distant relationship to those matters, don’t forget our portion of the country created a period of time when we acted ignorantly and in haste to condemn and wrongfully punish hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters. Americans all.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two wrongs simply make – two wrongs.
And we’ve all done ‘em.

The week that was

Author: admin

In one week. The Affordable Care Act is upheld by the nation’s highest court – in the process assuring more frantic right wing attacks to end its life-saving existence. The same court then cast aside unconstitutional – and poorly argued – barriers to universal marriage. And the Confederate flag – long regarded as a defining symbol for 13 states in our nation – is suddenly being swept into the dust bin of history as an icon of slavery.

In a week!

It would be hard to find a single period in the last 100 or so years in which so much of the basic societal tapestry of this country was so drastically altered. In one week!

Then the inspirational coda: America’s first Black president, in the pulpit of a Black church that had been tragically assaulted, summing up those days – and that deadly assault – in 35-minutes of classic oratory, climaxed by his breaking into song and leading the congregation – and much of the nation – in the classic hymn “Amazing Grace.”

Others, with a better grasp of the English language than mine, are struggling to recap the historic political, legal, social and racial meaning(s) of all this. I wish them well. The after-effects will linger for a long, long time as they reflect and attempt to define.

One of the facets of all this capturing my attention has been watching reactions to both those whose causes have been vindicated or upheld and those who’ve seen their opposition to all this overridden legally and morally.

In a general sense, the vindicated have been happy, ecstatic, joyful, prayerful and – above all – gracious. Those in the first person, who’ve had their lives and social conditions changed for the better, have generally not been angry or expressed vindictiveness or scorn for either the process or for those who forced them into our courts for relief.

The same cannot be said for many of those who found little support for their views in our highest court. Among our Republican presidential aspirants, for example, Bush and Rubio came closest to a civilized response, expressing anger and disappointment while admitting laws of the land had been changed in proper and accepted ways; the nation needs to adjust and move on.

But Mike Huckabee – the only ordained minister and “man of God” among the GOP presidential contenders – spoke for many of his supporters and those of other candidates in a totally unfounded way regarding the gay marriage ruling. Said the “pastor:” “This flawed, failed decision is an out-of-control act of unconstitutional judicial tyranny.” Vindictive. Angry. Scorn-filled. Wrong.

Time was, you took your issue to the courts, argued your best case, presented your best evidence and placed that issue in the hands of a judge or judges. The outcome, whatever it was, was the outcome. You either accepted it and went on your way or you regrouped and began your judicial journey again, hoping for a different verdict. You did not reject the decision and you did not insult those who decided it. Now, we have elected officials urging people to “ignore” or “pick-and-chose” which laws/decisions to obey and which to disregard. Wrong headed. Dangerous. No nation – no society – can exist when laws become “suggestions” or are ignored because someone doesn’t agree.

In a most basic way, the U.S. Supreme Court exists for a single purpose: to measure issues before it to the justices’ interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. Justices aren’t tyrants. They aren’t “out-of-control.” Their decisions – whether you agree or not – are not failures despite whether your argument prevailed or lost. Those decisions are deemed to be the legal application of the Constitution by the court and are not “unconstitutional” unless subsequently proven so in another case.

Huckabee is not the problem. But he certainly is symptomatic of the way things political have been conducted in this country for too long. One group – usually Democrat – trying to do something which the other group – usually Republican – has attempted to stop the issue under discussion. In the case of the Affordable Care Act – most of which has been upheld twice now by SCOTUS and victorious over more than 50 failed legislative challenges – Republicans have not offered a version of their own. Not one. But Speaker Boehner says the efforts to eradicate ACA laws will continue. So much for acceptance.

As for the gay marriage decision, many GOP governors are telling state officials to either ignore the SCOTUS finding or not honor it by not issuing licenses until new state laws (doomed to ultimately fail) can be written and enacted. One governor even says he’ll introduce legislation to stop ALL marriages in his state. Acceptance? Gracious? Scorn!

Republicans nationally are slipping into a posture of irrelevance in politics. The courts – the demographics – the country – are changing. Foot dragging, obstinance, unrestrained opposition, angry epithets, unsubstantiated challenges to our legal system, futile efforts to swim against the tide of public opinion of reasonable gun laws, immigration and other issues will assure reduced GOP influence on this country’s direction. All of that is confirmed by overwhelming evidence.

Quietly looking back, that presidential coda to the week’s nation-changing events seemed to have even more relevance far beyond the walls of a South Carolina church than a local eulogy for a local pastor. In an often plain-spoken way – in an often soaring use of the English language – the President tied all these events of joy, anger, sorrow and tragedy into a tapestry of acceptance and hope this country has rarely seen.

Whatever your politics – whatever your personal beliefs – whatever your religion – whatever your ethnicity or race – if you haven’t heard the President’s words – all the President’s words – please search the I-net for the Pinckney eulogy. Set aside your worldly joys and concerns for 35 minutes. Watch. Listen.

The massive change our society has undergone in recent days is reason enough to take the time. Trying to understand what all this change means for the future makes it absolutely essential.

We lawbreakers

Author: admin

In the wake of the bloody church massacre in South Carolina, this nation – with the electronic aid of a frantic national media – is entering into an asinine debate: the end of Confederate flag displays. The mindless media is busy taking quotes from people who haven’t thought the issue through or don’t see the racism of it’s own such action represents. Breast beaters and vote chasers. Or both. Mindless because banning the Confederate flag from flying in the so-called Confederate states is not likely.

Commonly accepted use of the words “Confederate states” says it all. Yes, the North won the war. At least on the battlefield. But, to millions of Americans in the South, their former flag is still the most powerful visible reminder of their true history. Offensive to most of us? You bet! But, to many of them, it’s history and tradition. Racist representation? To some, I’m sure. But not to many. Not as is to the rest of us.

Then there’s this. Can you say “First Amendment?”

Freedom of speech is not “freedom of good, likeable speech.” Freedom of speech is all speech no matter how distasteful – no matter how wrong – no matter how hateful. Whether our founding fathers intended it to be that way, I don’t know. But for 239 years, the nation’s courts have pretty much interpreted the issue to include nearly every utterance. It exists to protect the speech you don’t like – not the speech you do.

Yes, the U.S. Supreme Court recently let stand a lower court order to remove the C-flag from license plates in Texas. Keep an eye on that because I doubt those plates will disappear. Just the Texas way of ignoring laws Texans don’t like. Germany outlawed use/display of the Nazi flag many moons ago. But, surf the I-net for a few minutes and you’ll find Nazi flags all over the Fatherland. The rest of the world, too.

There’ll be thousands of hours of time and millions of dollars wasted in various legislatures and Congress as bills are introduced to sweep the Confederate flag into history’s trash can. You can already hear the chest-pounding. Some may become law. For a time. Then will come the challenges in many courtrooms. Taking passion out of the issue, it doesn’t seem reasonable to expect banning the C-flag will be achieved. And, even if it does become the “law of the land,” it’s equally reasonable to expect thousands and thousands of southerners – and racists – will ignore it.

We have a lot of that going on within our borders now. People ignoring law, regulations, rules, human rights, tradition. Even common courtesy. All of us do it. Some by speeding. Some by throwing trash out the window. Shooting off illegal fireworks. Smoking in non-smoking areas. Sneaking liquor into sports activities. Not shoveling snow off our sidewalks after a storm. Drinking underage. Ignoring curfews. And on and on and on. We do it without thinking because we do it so often it’s a matter of course.

Someone once told me a law can be enforced only so long as a majority of people abide by it. One example: a stretch of highway posted at 60 mph. But authorities have found most people drive 70-75. Sooner or later, the speed limit is usually raised. Oregon’s legislators play with that constantly on I-5 and I-84 because state cops have found drivers routinely drive 10-15 mph faster than law allows. We’ll get it raised one of these days. By continuing to break existing law.

There are many instances when most of us who call ourselves “law abiding” actually violate law, ordinances, rules – thinking or not. Sometimes laws are changed to accommodate what has become fact. Sometimes laws stay on the books but enforcement stops. Look at public lands welfare queen Clive Bundy in Nevada. He owes the BLM over a million dollars in unpaid grazing fees but now the feds are talking about writing the whole thing off – much less not enforcing existing contract law.

With police officers being killed at record rates, murders of school children by the dozens, massacred church worshipers in a Bible class, thousands of illegal and unchecked gun sales, hundreds of unpunished Wall Street crooks damned near wrecking this nation’s economy still enjoying their freedom, illegal protests in our streets, racists ignoring our first Black president’s good works while spreading unbridled trash at will in social/public media, a Congress ignoring laws requiring voting decisions on declaration of war for more than a decade, a government operating on a federal budget that hasn’t been changed, updated or even thoroughly reviewed for years. Wanna keep going? With the exception of the poor and most minorities, too many of us break laws with impunity.

In their efforts to become our next president, Rick Perry calls the Charleston murders “an accident,” Rick Santorum blames those killings on the current president, Ted Cruz is on the campaign trail cracking jokes about guns and gun control, Mike Huckabee refers to a case of well-publicized incest as just “kids experimenting” and they’ll “outgrow it.” Anyone there you want to install as a new president of a nation already having problems of civic order?

If all the money and all the time and all the talent sure to be wasted on futile efforts to outlaw display of the Confederate flag could be directed to some more useful civic purpose, we might get a handle on some of the other, vastly more important issues going unchecked in our nation. I’m sure even ol’ Bobby E. Lee would agree.

Another shot

Author: admin

Did anyone but me notice this?

The front page, top-of-the fold banner headline of the Charleston, South Carolina, newspaper today was about the nine people murdered in a local church. Quite proper.

But…..

Affixed to the masthead directly above that headline, was a blue sticker advertisement now commonly used by newspapers everywhere. A sponsor buys it – you read it – you pull if off without damaging the newsprint.

This morning’s sticker ad – above that headline – was for a local shooting range. SHOOTING RANGE!!!

Now, the paper was first printed with the headline of the murders. THEN the sticker was attached by a circulation worker. Whoever did that had to know what the headline said.

That person – the one who applied the stickers by hand or machine – is my nominee for the dumbest ass in the world. Not for today. But for the rest of the year.

Two disparate story lines in our living rooms these days seem – at least to me – twin warnings about one of the most dangerous failures occurring in our society. Ignoring fact. while believing lies. Maybe you’ve put it together, too. It’s a seeming connection between Benghazi and police shootings.

The dangerous commonality is this: in both cases, hardcore groups have – without fact or even in the face of fact – determined an outcome and will accept no other. Until either faction sees headlines supporting their view – accurate or flat earth crazy – neither will surrender to any other reality.

In the case of Benghazi, there’s that kamikaze mentality among Republican loons that they’ve been lied to from the get-go. They absolutely “know” they’ve been deliberately deceived by Democrats who’ve “destroyed evidence” while creating a Satanic lie about what happened that fateful night in Libya. They “know” “murders” of American heroes have been covered up to save face for the Obama administration. They’ll accept nothing less – not one penny short – of the full “truth” they and they alone have seen since the shots were fired. Benghazi was treason!

And facts? Well, facts be damned! But FACTS there are. And if you know none of the others by which to make a rational, informed decision about Benghazi, all you need to know is ONE fact: there have been six – six – full-on, quite independent investigations costing tens of millions of dollars. The same event has been microscopically examined – beginning-to-end – by a State Department team – another by the Defense Department – a bi-partisan congressional oversight committee – an independent blue-ribbon group given total access to all information held by anyone – two exclusively by Republicans in one guise or another – and the seventh – another Republican witch hunt is currently working feverishly with spades in hand.

But it’s that sixth top-to-bottom scouring by Republicans – led by one of the most Democrat-hating GOPers – that should have buried Benghazi once and for all: the Issa committee. After two years trying to find something – a shred of incriminating evidence against anyone not of the Republican cloth – this last effort to find proof of a foregone belief of “treachery and treason” should have slammed the door. No evidence. Against anyone. Of any political persuasion. None. Zip. Nada. Officially. In writing!

No. No, now there’s yet another GOP-led group going at it again. No matter Issa and his minions have contaminated any future finding from this new bunch. The sounds of shovels can still be heard in the night coming from the GOP caucus room. Supporters – Limbaugh, Beck, Lindsey Graham and others – wait outside in the dark – pitchforks at hand and torches ready to light. They – and only they – know the Benghazi “truth.”

Then Ferguson. And Boston. And Cincinnati. And New York. Nowhere can you find better “how-not-to” examples of ignorant police administration and conduct. Nor a more treacherous display of prosecutorial abuse of office than we’ve witnessed in Ferguson. Conduct of local authorities that’s plainly outrageous. Some will be – and some are- the focus of outside investigations and there’ll be more than a few prosecutions.

And that Benghazi link? As in the case of those determined to create “facts” to justify their absolute certainties of what happened in Libya, so too, in these police shootings, many folks simply decided what “really happened” and will accept nothing less than support for what they “know.” Nothing.

The Benghazi-like similarity I see is with those in the Missouri, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania streets who – like the D.C. witch-hunters and others with conspiratorial mentalities – will not accept any outcome of any case differing one iota from “facts” they alone know. “Truths” they alone “understand.” Many – far too many – of these folks are unable or unwilling to deal with reality.

When people are determined to disbelieve, they will disbelieve. No amount of fact – no amount of evidence – no amount of truth will alter perceptions. All that can be done is for reasonable people to make reasonable efforts and, when that is done, move on. Talk time is over.

With unlimited resources and the power of federal subpoenas in both hands, Darrell Issa could not overcome the true facts of Benghazi. A superhuman effort in pursuit of an outcome that didn’t exist was a monumental waste of time and money. The destructive crowds in city streets are on a similar fool’s errand.

Issa had only the court of public opinion left. He lost there. Credibility. Integrity. Worthiness. Any residual value to his constituency. He’s a liar and a fool and will have to console himself with just being the richest member of Congress.

Protestors of police actions – if their protests are legitimate – have at least state and federal laws to stand upon and can attract other, more informed and more honest government and private support to their side. They still have a future in which they can prevail. And, maybe change some minds.

But not if they continue to follow other “Issa” delusionists and hold to “facts” legitimately discredited by truth. Reality is not Fox “News.”

Most of us were raised to believe the basic glue of democracy is the rule of law. You can refer to our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, federal and state laws, local county or municipal ordinances or that large stack of regulations some spend a lifetime complaining about. They’re rules. Our rules. All of ‘em.

We’ve learned to live with them. Or change them. Amend them when time or other conditions require – void them when courts decide they’re invalid or unnecessary. Rules, we’ve always believed, have separated us from the uncivilized or the lesser nations that live without them or under “rules” made by some dictator.

More than just having rules, we expect those in public leadership to know the applicable ones and to live by them. Be guided in the conduct of public business and in the conduct of their own lives. Which is why we get angry when they don’t. Like a Dennis Hastert. Or a Newt Gingrich. Or a Bill Clinton. Or a Bob Packwood. Or – well you get the idea.

More troubling to me than these and other public figures who befoul their own nests are the other ones – those in the current crop of “leaders” who know the law, but won’t uphold it, or have vowed to take actions that will directly break one or more laws.

Here are some examples. In Nebraska, the multi-millionaire governor knowingly, secretly and illegally purchased chemicals with which to enforce the state’s death penalty law. He bought them from a foreign country – action which U.S. laws expressly forbid. The Nebraska legislature subsequently passed a bill to eliminate the death penalty which the governor vetoed. Legislature overrode. Now, the governor says he doesn’t give a damn and will proceed with both the illegal poison purchase and what will now be illegal executions. Damn the legislature. Damn the laws he swore to uphold.

Take that goofy teapartier governor of Maine. Please! He’s been flouting numerous laws of his state for the first two years of his term. And now, with the legislature refusing to pass his irresponsible tax reduction bill that would severely damage Maine’s economy, that same nutball has promised to kill any legislative-passed bill that hits his desk – no matter the subject and no matter the consequences – if that bill was originated by Democrats. Damn the laws he swore to uphold.

Then, there’s that little bitty governor of Louisiana who wants to be somebody. Anybody. Even his own party leaders have publically said he should not be president. Well, Bobby has set out to prove his fellow Bayou State GOP brothers and sisters correct. Now, he’s promised to ignore the upcoming decision from the U.S. Supreme Court if said decision upholds the Affordable Care Act, as is expected. The dreaded Obamacare. Bobby says he’ll never let his state be a participant despite SCOTUS. Damn the laws he swore to uphold. Damn the Supreme Court of the land.

Rick Santorum. Removed from the U.S. Senate by voters in Pennsylvania and twice since rejected in bids for public pay. Now, he’s one of the more unqualified among the totally unqualified running for his party’s presidential nomination. He sides with that l’il Louisiana fella against the power – much less the wisdom – of SCOTUS. In his case, the issue is gay rights. Ricky says “SCOTUS is not the final judgement” on the subject, calling the court “a set of liberal judges.”

Rickie scores a Palin award on that one – twice wrong on a single issue. SCOTUS is not full of “liberal judges” and SCOTUS IS the final voice in our system when it comes to the constitutionality of our laws.

There are far too many ignorant scoff laws in our public life. Rather than master a system which has served this country’s legal needs for centuries, they’d sooner play to small constituencies for their own purposes. Rather than conduct themselves in accordance with laws, their personal and professional lives often run counter to them. Is it any wonder so many Americans are “turned off” to politics – that so many won’t participate even as voters – that ignorance and self-service have given us political office holders with little regard for the work to be done while doing and saying anything to preserve their places at the public trough?

These “damn the laws” and “win by saying anything” attitudes are also creating another very real problem for our nation. Good people, who might be outstanding leaders, look at this bunch of political heretics and decide against public service. People with intellectual, academic and personal skills that could restore common sense and civility to our badly abused system of government won’t put themselves forward because they don’t want the abuse. Because they see other good people walking away in frustration. Because they see the public’s disdain for politicians and politics in general. Because they don’t want to risk their futures and their family’s futures in a public service career held in lower esteem than hookers.

Election to public office is the voter’s extension of a contract to the winners. Conduct of those offices is governed by law. If the elected flout those laws – break those laws – or promise such conduct regarding those laws – they should be removed. Quickly.

Our body politic has been badly damaged by the cancers of ignorance, self-service, intemperance, malfeasance and personal greed. Those in public life who renounce the laws by which we are governed are unfit to serve. There’s just too damned much at stake.