Damned Brits

Author: admin

It’s a day or so after Great Britain’s Brexit vote and I’ve been sitting at the old computer machine for several hours watching the bottom drop out of my IRA. Nearly 40 years of saving and, at this hour, the listed value of my retirement plan is about $38,000 less than the cash amount I put in over all those years. Forget the interest. Others, I’m sure, are seeing that and much worse.

World markets are drowning in red ink, keepers of the economies of nations around the world are wondering what the Hell just happened and the Brit’s home ground is cracking beneath their feet. Politicians everywhere are struggling to get on the “right” side of what’s happening although most have no idea which side that is.

For many years, I’ve privately clung to the belief some important national issues should never be given directly to the public to decide en masse. Brexit is one such. One proof of that is how many millions of Brits and others were asking Google “What does Brexit mean” and “What is the EU” the day AFTER. Where were they the day BEFORE and in the last few weeks as England’s media covered little else?
You know how the enormously complicated Brexit issue got to a referendum ballot? We’re told it’s ‘cause PM David Cameron, his chief of staff and a couple of other British politicians were sitting in a pizza shop at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport a few months ago and wondering what to do. Cameron was trying to come up with an idea to heal some of the many riffs in his nation’s populace at-large. He wanted home folks happier.

One of the four hit on the idea of a referendum on whether the nation should remain a member of the European Union or go its own way. So, the pizza gang – after a brew or two, I’d guess – decided nothing could be more “unifying” than a vote on the country’s entire economic future.

So, how did that work out? Well, Cameron resigned the morning after the vote and it can only be deeply hoped the others – with tomato sauce and cheese on their fingers – do so as well.

Thanks to those four pepperoni-loving pols, a nation previously dealing with a number of far lesser political disagreements is now one deeply divided smack down the middle. About 52% on one side- 48% on the other. And the economic wreckage will pile up for years. Yes, Sir. Nothing like a good, old popular vote to smooth everything out.

Like it or not, the British system of government – and ours – requires the election of people to public office. It’s how we do things governmental. Once in office, their chief responsibility is to research and study issues, use the committee process to get all the facts, make an educated recommendation to the entire larger body for that body – with a studied committee report in hand – to decide what to do. It works, most of the time. But odds of it working are a whole lot better than dropping this terribly complicated question into the laps of millions of citizens when most of them are unprepared to cast an intelligent ballot using whatever facts may – or may not – be at hand. Or even knowing the facts at hand.

Suppose, just for giggles, our nation faced the question of whether to return to the gold standard. Our Congress studied, researched, conducted endless committee meetings and came up with no clear decision. So, over a large Domino’s, the powers-that-be decided to put the issue on the good old American ballot. Let the voter decide. What kind of a well-informed, fully educated, studied decision would be forthcoming? Look up and down your street. How many of your neighbors would you think could cast a fully-informed vote?

Yes, there are issues which should be in the hands of the electorate. Most questions should be decided by those who will have to live with the consequences. But, once in awhile, a subject comes along that defies the ability of the public-at-large to come up with a researched, intelligent decision. That’s why we have a government. Why we elect people to office – to study issues of great import and make decisions based on research and recommendations of well-informed experts. Think seriously about that the next time you vote for someone.

Most Americans have no idea what the implications of switching an entire nation’s monetary system would mean. But that ignorance could be the basis of the collapse of an entire economy. Or, the world’s.

Such, I think, was the case with Brexit. Rather than cold, hard facts that could be understood by “the least of these” – if they cared to pay any attention – the issue was handled like a major marketing program. Thousands of slick TV commercials, newspaper pages filled with thousands of fancy ads and wall-to-wall talk radio going in all directions. If there was a repeated, easily accessible program of facts and a full disclosure of lasting, national effects either way, it was hard to find in the flotsam.

Our own little Faux News proudly proclaimed Great Britain was “pulling out of the United Nations” – which it isn’t. The Trumpster on his way to Scotland tweeted how happy he was the Scots had voted to leave the EU – 64% of Scots voted NOT to leave. Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan called the vote “the worst economic happening in my more than 40 years of public service.” And on and on and on.

Well, the market is now down another 150 points in the last hour. That’s about $500 more cash loss to the retirement plan. I think it was Mark Twain who quipped “England and America – two nations separated by a common language.” Given today’s dire effect on my standard of living here in the senior years, that separation hasn’t been near far enough.

Mad as hell

Author: admin

For many months now, the chattering class of talking heads has been telling us people in this country are mad. More directly, a lot of prospective voters are angry at nearly everything governmental, they say. Thus, the voices reason, that pent up anger is being turned to support for the most unqualified belligerent ever to run for president. Trump.

We’re repeatedly reminded this anger comes from feelings of frustration, disappointment and outright rejection of all things governmental. The rise – so far – in political influence of the far right is being offered as “proof” of this oft-quoted speculation. Trump – though he lies, cheats, lacks facts or ideas for improving our national condition – he’s become a lightening rod attracting every sort of angry condition being thrust on our national political environment. So we’re told.

Here – at the edge of the Pacific – my response to this “common wisdom” is that it amounts to a lot of conjecture, speculation and outright B.S..

The flaw in this widely accepted “theory,” is only a portion of the populace is “angry” and acting out – that the rest of us looking for sanity, leadership and exceptional quality in our next President aren’t unhappy, too. That we are content with things – accepting of how governmental affairs have been conducted – and are trudging along in a national attitude of peace and love.

Not by a long shot! A VERY long shot!

Like Howard Beale in Paddy Chayefsky’s “Network,” I’m “mad as Hell.” And, as followers of the electronic musings in these “SECOND THOUGHTS” can attest, I’m not a dues-paying member of any right-wing fringe element. Neither, I’m happy to say, are most of my friends, most of my day-to-day contacts and regular correspondents who are equally as mad but who’ve not turned to supporting or accepting the aforementioned B.S.. Still, we ARE angry. We ARE mad! We ARE frustrated every bit as much as any Trump backer. And we’ve probably got more concrete examples for our angst. Here are a few raising my civic temperature:

## One Greg Abbott, governor of Texas. He’s launched an effort to call a constitutional convention to rewrite portions of our grand old document so states could refuse any federal government law or mandate states don’t like. This from a licensed attorney. Now, I’ll be first to say, being a law school graduate doesn’t give him any special intellectual prowess. But the doctrine of federal supremacy – over which an entire Civil War was fought – was settled many eons ago. He could, of course, have slept through an entire six weeks it was featured at the University of Texas. But this bastard’s serious!

## One Sam Brownback, governor of Kansas. His new Executive Order 16-01, “Protecting Kansas from Terrorism” attempts to block relocation to Kansas of refugees from “anywhere in the world” who present a “safety and security risk.” Which, to him, means all. For the rest of us, details of how to define or assure someone meets those two qualifications were, of course, not defined. Read “shut the borders of Kansas.”

## One Matt Bevin, governor of Kentucky, who, upon election, promptly killed the state’s Obamacare participation which immediately disenfranchised a half-million people who lost coverage.

## A U.S. Supreme Court that made Citizen’s United the law of the land. Also, the Chief Justice who said “states have learned their lessons, changed their procedures” and portions of the Voting Rights Act requiring federal approval of local voting changes “are unnecessary.” Since that decision, the legislatures of Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, North and South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi have enacted new laws disenfranchising voters totaling a million-plus. Wiped ‘em out.

## The U.S. Congress which has voted 59 times – 59 – to kill the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Would have become law were it not for a Democrat in the White House with a veto stamp. More than 12 million Americans could’ve been without health insurance.

## Louis Ghomert, Steve King, Raul Labrador, Darrell Issa, Roy Blunt, Jim Risch, Tom Cotton, Duncan Hunter, Michael Burgess, Pete Sessions, Don Young, Pete Sessions and several dozen more members of Congress who’ve repeatedly shown their existence along the Potomac is for no other reason than to remain on the banks of the Potomac and perpetuate themselves at the public trough they repeatedly decry. They offer nothing constructive, author no positive legislative improvements, complain bitterly about a system of government they were elected to run – if not improve. All the while depositing $175,000 a year from us. Plus-plus-plus.

I could run this on for a couple more pages. I won’t.

The point is, there are millions of Americans just as mad – just as angry – just as frustrated about government, about stagnation and bitterness in our political system as those the media counts as Trump voters. But the fact is, we who reject those voices of political lunacy, may be more deeply affected because we know why we’re “in the winters of our discontent.” We understand the failures. But we’re not ignorantly casting around for someone – anyone -regardless of qualifications – to solve our national issues. Our anger is because we know what’s wrong. We understand why. And who. We even have some serious thoughts about how to get back on track.

Trump is not the answer to our anger. More accurately, he represents the cause of it! A system – a political party – that can produce nothing more positive than that cretin is the result of previous elections when voters lashed out by choosing flawed candidates offering no answers to perceived wrongs at the time.

Like anchorman Beale, I, too, am “MAD AS HELL!” His next words were “…and I’m not going to take it anymore!.” Individually, none of us can make that a meaningful, serious threat. But – collectively and informed – we can answer what the talking heads tell us is anger from the right. We can express our own displeasure with conditions – doing so in a more thoughtful and informed way.

The ballot’s in your hands. Just how mad are you?

For those who don’t live in the world of political wonks, our presidential primaries, such as they’ve been, are about over. The mostly disenfranchised citizens of our captive “colony” – Washington D.C. – add a few ballot voices this week. But other than that, it’s finis! Right?

Ah, not so quick there, polling breath. Trips to the polls may be nearly over but the fat lady definitely has not hit her first note.

Some months ago, I opined the Trumpster might not really want the job of President of these United States. Caught some flak. But nothing has changed my mind. In fact, he’s on the record – a long, shameful, disastrous, racist, bigoted, misogynist record – saying he doesn’t see himself doing the day-to-day work. Just “chairman of the board,” an above-it-all position with details/work “farmed out” to “experts” like CEO’s and CFO’s. Says he’ll keep an eye on things but not daily duty in the office.

Well, he has his views. And, thank God, the rest of us have ours. In fact, there’s an outside chance his run to November won’t reach the finish line. The factors that could save him – make him a viable candidate if that’s possible – just aren’t there and don’t seem to be coming.

What he needs most is a team of specialists – speech writers, fund raisers, advance teams, media spokesmen, ad buyers, state campaign teams, precinct workers and local phone banks, logistics people, experienced – and trusted – advisors on all the important issues he needs to know. At least, know more than he does.

Problem is, those people aren’t swamping him with job applications. Especially the political professional types who don’t like looking foolish when the boss double crosses them in public – and the knowledgeable advisors who don’t like having their expertise given, then ignored.

Trump’s current list of “advisors” could be seated around my dining room table. His spokesmen include family members. Maybe most damaging of all, the National Republican Party has not yet stepped up with the important national resources – if it still has any. And Trump’s fund-raising efforts are largely confined to repaying himself for the millions he “loaned” his campaign. Anyone who seriously thought he was going to bankroll his run – as he has promised so many times – has little grasp on reality.

Then, there are the surrogates. The other prominent – mostly Republican – figures he needs to stump their own states and the hinterlands spreading his “message.” Whatever the hell that is. They aren’t leaping at the opportunity. Maybe that’s because (a) they can’t see themselves saying or endorsing the things he says and does and (b) they watched the only congressional candidate Trump endorsed – an incumbent – go down in flames last week. Get too close to the fire and a political career could become a pile of ashes.

Then there’s the terrible – and possibly career-ending – short list of politicians who’ve already endorsed. At least three have now “un-indorsed.” Mitch McConnell has tiptoed around doing as much. And poor Paul Ryan – the GOP’s “great white hope” – has roundly condemned Trump for his racist, bigoted mouthings while still “supporting” him to be commander-in-chief with his erratic finger on the nuclear trigger. Ryan will likely survive his idiotic move – though he, too, may un-indorse. But the dozens of idiots he’s riding herd on in the House will see fresh blood and a sign Ryan is damaged goods. (ED NOTE: First time I’ve agreed with them.)

Trump’s victory speech last week also contained some hints. Rather than using a large, public location to reach out to the masses, his toned-down, obviously non-Trump script – was badly read off teleprompters in a small meeting room at one of his private country clubs to a small, invited audience. A carefully controlled environment for a carefully controlled crowd. But, even then, he couldn’t help deviating to throw in some red meat comments and a couple of zingers. So much for the “pro advisors” who’ve told him to “tone it down.” Ain’t gonna happen.

Before the national GOP convention, Trump will have insulted something near and dear to just about every American. He’s already started. And he’s demanding his nomination – and his acceptance speech – be held in a “large sports arena” and not the Republican convention site. He’s also told several reporters – hence their media employers – they will “not be allowed” to attend to cover either event.

Then there’s this. What does Donnie do with his real estate and investment empire? A billion – 5 billion – 10 billion. Whatever. He can’t stay in control. He’s got to put everything – ALL of it – into some sort of blind trust. Which he can’t control or even check on from time to time. Who’ll take over? His son? A wife? Attorneys? Some phony board of directors that doesn’t exist or, if it did, couldn’t make a decision without him? Trump doesn’t turn loose of control. Of anything! This could be the “make-or-break.”

Bottom line: Trump seems destined to fail either at his own hand or for lack of a reality-based, professional, national support system. The “cat’s” further out on that limb than he ever thought he would be. And the fire department is not coming to his rescue.

But – Clinton is no sure thing. The entry of former governors Johnson and Weld as Libertarians could well take 15-20% of the November vote. Maybe more. Depends on who shows up to vote and who stays home. And there’ll be some others emerging from the nutball woodwork to siphon off some more numbers. Add the fact we have no idea – at this point – what the Sanders effect will be. Will he renew his donkey credentials, get behind the Clinton bandwagon and push? Or will he go back to Burlington and sit it out?

No, friends, we’re a long way from the finish line and the imponderables are many. Except one. The Donald will not be getting the keys to the Oval Office. Whether by his own hand. Or yours and mine.

Beware the seniors

Author: admin

Used to be, when people got to a certain age, they were supposed to follow the example of old elephants who – at that certain are – slowly walk out into the forest, lean against a tree and wait for the Grim Reaper. Then came “60 is the new 50,” “70 is the new 60,” and so forth. More exercise and better drugs, I guess.

These aging thoughts were brought to mind recently by a demographic survey done by the National Conference of State Legislatures and an outfit called “Stateline.” Ranked by the age of its members, Idaho’s Legislature is the second “oldest” in the country. Average age: 63. Oldest individual member: 80. Only New Hampshire averaged older: 66.

Our neighboring states came in quite a bit younger. Washington’s legislature averages 58 years with a general population average age of 47. Oregon’s lawmakers average 58 years with a population average of 46. Residents of Idaho average 47. If you’re thinking about average years of a member of Congress, it’s 59. Both parties are about identical. Democrats just seem older.

At the youngest end of the legislative spectrum, Puerto Rico and Michigan tied at 50 – with Florida third at an average of 51 years.

Now, before anyone hits the “reply” key to accuse me of “ageism” – whatever the Hell that is – let it known I am the same age as Idaho’s oldest member: 80. You may be thinking of this discussion of the elderly in terms of older folks. I’m talking about peers. And younger.

While the studies didn’t survey occupations, Idaho’s legislature has always had a high proportion of retirees. Nothing wrong with retirees, I guess, if they don’t hang around too long.

Case in point: Idaho’s late Rep. Don Maynard – a retiree from Sandpoint – who was in his 70’s at the time. He spent most of the 1960’s in the House. His one distinction: he never debated. Never. Nor did he sponsor any bills. He showed up every day, kept his mouth shut and voted when the bell rang. Until the final day of one particular session.

It had been unusually long that year. Lasted nearly till May. On the final day, the body got into a wrangle over something. Debate got heated. And long. Then, Rep. Maynard stood up and reached for his microphone – a microphone he never once used. The chamber fell silent – waiting to hear Maynard’s wise contribution to the lengthy discussion.

“I ask the members of this body to reach a quick solution to this issue and let the Speaker pronounce we are adjourned,” the ever-silent Maynard pleaded. “My wife is waiting in the ante room and the slot machines at Jackpot are getting colder.”

As members laughed, I was thinking at the press desk, “Four months of silence and this is his first contribution to debate? What the Hell has he been thinking all these years?”

People retire at different times and for different reasons. The way it should be. But there’s clear evidence many in politics hang around too long and become less of a representative of the people and more of a problem. Senators Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond come to mind. In later years – as they attempted to set some sort of record as “longest serving” – neither man could find his way from his office to the Senate chamber. And neither – despite previous legislative accomplishments – was contributing much but added payroll for on-the-job caregivers.

Commercial pilots are age-limited. In some states, so are other occupations. Cognitive abilities make no difference. Issues of risk and public safety take priority. Well, what about public good?

It’s doubtful there could ever be a qualification for public office because of advanced age. Certainly not for intelligence or common sense. But issues facing legislative and congressional bodies these days are complex, moving at a pace we’ve never seen before. More information faster and in larger amounts. Many our 70’s and 80’s may think we’re still able to keep up but, often, we really can’t. Just as our other, slower, age-related reflexes affect our athletic efforts or such things as our ability to drive as safely, our intellectual prowess isn’t as reliable, either.

For the last 30 years or so, Idaho’s legislature has suffered from arrogance, ignorance and outright stupidity dealing with some issues. Proof of that is found in the millions and millions of tax dollars paid to attorneys after losing cases involving legislative bone-headed decisions made while ignoring competent legal advice. And other millions awarded to individuals and organizations because of unconstitutional and illegal actions pursued – again, after being warned.

While some of that may be charged to nutcase, right wing political blackout regardless of age, I’d guess some older, not as sharp minds contributed as well. Not understanding the issues, not wanting to appear so to peers and more easily swayed by illegitimate arguments.

Taking stock of one’s physical and mental abilities in later years is not only wise, it’s absolutely essential if you want to enjoy that period you’ve been working and planning for. Endurance as a senior – physical and mental – is highly individualized and differs greatly. And, for some, stepping aside for younger folks not as experienced is hard to do.

But doing so is, more often than not, the right thing. And it should happen long before the overwhelming desire to play shuffleboard. Or go to Jackpot!

Ignorant, dangerous

Author: admin

First time I voted for a president was 1960. I was stationed in northern Greenland near the North Pole. My “polling” place, as it were. So, registering, getting a ballot, marking it up and assuring it got to the proper counting place stateside on-time made for a bit of a job. But pride in the experience drove the process and we “got ‘er done.”

I remember how seriously I treated that first voting exercise. We had no Internet – no TV – no satellite phones – no phones of any kind. Best most of us could do to keep up with things at home was have folks send us newspapers that were generally two weeks old by the time we got ‘em.

Having been raised in a Central Oregon Republican household, I leaned a bit toward Nixon – to my later, everlasting shame. But Kennedy was new, younger, articulate – different. So, my “boning up” included reading all I could find on both, trying to be a informed as possible – given the circumstances.

That’s how you participated in the first rite of citizenship 56 years ago. You assumed the two national political parties had put forth their best, most qualified candidates. You studied. You talked with friends. You gathered as many facts as you could to be an “informed voter.” It was an important requirement of being a good citizen of this country.

Damn! Times have certainly changed.

If you assume Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are the two “most qualified” candidates of their respective parties, you start with a flawed basis that’ll get no better no matter the winner. As the one casting the ballot, you can study till Hell freezes over and not end up picking the “most qualified” candidate either party could field. Those names – whoever they might be – aren’t on your official form.

We voters are failing the exercise, too, by not being as informed as we were six decades back. Most folks aren’t spending the required time and energy to get beyond headlines, sound bites, hate radio or phony “facts.”

I’m not a big “social” media believer – limiting myself to Facebook as a means to stay somewhat in touch with people I mostly enjoy. There are plenty of FB participants I don’t “enjoy” but their presence on my “page” is only because of their relationship to those I do.

If you pay attention to what shows up, you can learn a few things. For example, during some of the recent primaries in our Northwest neighborhood, it absolutely floored me how many people asked other folks who to vote for. Yep. People I had regarded as upstanding, wise, learned participants in our democracy were admitting they “hadn’t kept up” or “had been so busy” – or some other lame excuse – and were hitting up friends for names of the best candidates.

I recognized some of them – actually, far too many – and was greatly disappointed. I’d become accustomed to reading their posted complaints about government and certain politicians. I’d read many of their previous rants and figured they knew what they were talking about. Apparently they didn’t! And we’re not talking a couple of folks here. No, it was a good deal more than a few.

You can get a pretty good idea how many millions of Americans really have no idea how their country operates by starting with these who’ve shown their ignorance, then watching other interviews with people “on-the-street.” Jay Leno used to do that. Letterman and Fallon from time to time. Seemed like good clean fun then. But not now!

I’m constantly stunned – and extremely disappointed – by how many people have absolutely no idea how the U.S. of A. works. A year ago, a University of Oklahoma journalism grad student set up a camera on campus and interviewed passers by. One question was: “Who were the participants in the Civil War?” Another: “Who won the Civil War?” Again, those questioned were UofO students AND faculty.

I quit watching after about 10 responses. Ten wrong responses. Ten ignorant, unbelievable responses. This wasn’t a hoax. This wasn’t some kind of setup. This was part of her master’s work.

Lately, some media interviews with Trump supporters have turned up. Painful to watch. Unbelievable to watch. Disgusting to watch. Every bit as bad as those Oklahoma voices. Worse, in most cases, because the speakers were allegedly voters espousing their beliefs and support for Trump’s repeated lies, slander, racism, misogyny and his own ignorance.
But, possibly even worse, we’re now hearing daily of “important” Republican officeholders lining up behind this loud-mouth, civic embarrassment. Doing so, they say, to unite their party. Unite the party be damned! What the Hell about the country? When did doomed-to-fail efforts to unite a devastated political party take precedence over the national good? When, in the last 60 years, was responsible citizenship of being a more informed voter replaced by political hacks acting civically irresponsible to maintain their employment at the federal tit?

The GOP is NOT going to “reunited” any time soon. Humpty Dumpty had a far better chance of being “reunited” than today’s National Republican Party. Those along the Potomac, sacrificing their intelligence and trustworthiness to hold public office by pledging to support the worst thing that’s happened to this country’s politics in my lifetime, deserve no more than our scorn. Certainly not our vote.

Up in that frozen wasteland 60 years ago, I was proud to have my ballot counted on election day, 1960. No little sticker to wear. Not even able to see the returns that night. And 40-below outside.

But, I voted then with pride and a sense of “coming-of-age” that felt awfully good all those years back. That’s not how it’ll feel in November, 2016. We’ve passed the point of so many recent elections in which we voted for “the lesser of two evils.” Now, we have to be totally concerned with keeping this nation intact. And with saving millions of Americans from themselves. How’s that for a new responsibility of citizenship?

Today’s the day

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, not these two

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s just chill out

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The other view

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It won’t be over

Author: admin

Of all the discouraging, disappointing and shameful news coming out of our current presidential political campaign, two facts are crystal clear. One – when the campaign is over, it won’t be over. Two – this country – and we who call it ours – will never be the same.

Traditionally, political battles are supposed to end right after the votes are counted. Final bills are paid, campaign paraphernalia stored or – in the case of the losers – usually destroyed. Staffers seek new opportunities and life returns to normal. Whatever that was – it’s just over. History.

In recent national elections, that Norman Rockwell description of political campaigns has been fraying at the edges. Actually, it’s been torn down the middle. Disputes – actual or imagined- have been carried into political office by both winners and losers. Winners have been heavy handed in how they conducted themselves and their elected responsibilities. “Gotcha” legislation, rule changing and other attempts at muzzling losers have become standard operating procedure.

Losers – those whom voters have rejected – immediately set about trying to scuttle whatever the winners attempt to do. Cooperation and compromise have become signs of “weakness” – especially if you’re a Republican. Any attempt to work together is met with immediate scorn by supporters and, too often, recall attempts.

But this time – this year – it’s already worse. And there’s nothing in the political tea leaves to indicate a return to the Rockwell era. Ever.

In the Republican Party, cracks in party discipline have been turned into canyons separating members. The smallest philosophical differences are now verbal weapons with which to beat all others over the head. Language – usually reserved for bar fights – is so common it’s often run on the evening news with no censoring. Racism and lies have been accepted by followers of certain candidates as either correct in the mind of the ignorant believer or discarded as just their guy lying “like they all do.”

There’ll be no healing – no acceptance of different thought – no coming together for the “good of the country” after this one. There’ll be no alliances to work for the common good. We’ll see more attempts to divide – to disenfranchise – to exclude. Like the current GOP refusal to even talk to a Supreme Court nominee, much less hold the Constitutionally required hearing. The seeds for all of this have been sown. And, as the National Republican Party is learning, you reap bitter fruit from such planting.

A national GOP, as we’ve known it, has been bought out by billionaires and poisoned by narrow-minded ideologies. It’s been purged of rational thought and traditional standards. It has ceased to have a central core of responsibility as big money has circumvented even the most futile attempts to broaden a steadily shrinking base of support. As a national political representative, Priebus and the rest of his cohorts have no real political power of their own and find themselves running to keep up with the Kochs, Adlesons and others who pay the bills.

Some of this cancer has begun to mutate in national Democrat operations as well. There’s a bitter inside battle involving the national chairwoman and the former vice chair that’s become more apparent. Efforts to compete – even to rebuild – in races long-ago dominated by the GOP have not been effective. While Republicans gerrymander state political maps, Democrats have been largely silent or ineffective in trying to flatten the playing fields. The “loyal opposition” has too often become the “loyal doormat” or no opposition at all.

Both parties are losing membership and both need to rethink and rebuild. Democrats will likely have the easier job after the 2016 election. But it appears the GOP is in for some very serious problems if it’s to again represent any moderate and more progressive folk. Should Priebus and his neutered minions wish to thank someone for making that job more difficult, they need look no further than Donald J. Trump.

I doubt Priebus will survive long after November 8, 2016. Nor should he. But Trump has nearly single-handidly created a much larger problem. The evidence is overwhelming his base of followers is largely older white men with a distinct mix of racists, separatists and folks ignorant of government who’re destined to stay that way. For any rebuilding effort to be successful to achieve a modern, open and inclusive Republican Party, those folks will have to be dealt with. And they don’t have any use for “modern,” “open” or “inclusive” in their politics. Their way or the highway.

Which means – at least to me – two “Republican” parties. Maybe three. Or – and here is what the GOP must face squarely- a smaller Republican party after losing the aforementioned older white men, racists, separatists and the ignorant to a third party. Yes, it’s been tried before. And, yes, it’s never been successful. But Trump is not going to shut up. He’s got the money. And he’s delighted with the adulation surrounding him. He has a national – if not world – platform and, after the election, I don’t see him folding his tent and going back to just buying and selling real estate.

If the GOP doesn’t clean up its act, get back in charge, get the billionaires under control and disassociate itself with anything Trump, it faces no chance of being a viable political party for decades. None. It will become a neutered, narrow-minded, white and totally ineffective smaller “club.”

We need a healthy, robust, responsible National Republican Party. Our entire political structure is based on an active, effective two-party system. The new entity must be open, receptive to change, inclusive to minorities – who’ll soon make up the majority of this nation – and be more moderate in thought, word and deed. It can take a more conservative approach to things. That’s fine. But that conservatism must be more responsible and truer to the values that have defined it historically.

Hell of a job ahead. And I wish ‘em well!