Melting no more

Author: admin

Growing up in the Northwest, I was taught this nation was a “melting pot.” A country of many ethnic backgrounds all smooshed together to form a nation of variety, invention, assimilation and being better off for the mixture.

“Melting pot.” It had a nice ring to it. Colorful words meaning this nation was founded, then improved by the diversity each new face brought to our shores. Something entirely different from other countries of more singular ethnicities. And it seemed to work for a long time.

But, sadly, somewhere along the way, we lost the idea of mixing and replaced it with exclusion, separateness and division. People of a common language, a common color, a common religion or any of a dozen differences stopped mingling and, instead, most formed separate communities of near isolation.

We have Black communities and Hebrew communities. Hispanic communities. We have Irish, Polish, Russian, Norwegian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and many other singularly exclusive areas.

We have Black radio and television. When’s the last time you watch Black TV? Hispanic, Chinese, Korean and other broadcasters and print media targeting specific groups. We have areas of the nation that don’t welcome people of other races or religious beliefs. People talk of not going into parts of their own city of residence. I was once held against my will for 24 hours largely because I was a White man in a Black neighborhood of rioters.

A lot of this was brought to mind when the shooter in the El Paso killings told police he drove nine hours from the Dalles-Forth Worth area to kill Hispanics because “that’s where most of them lived in Texas” and he didn’t want to kill in his hometown. But, he wanted to kill people gathered in a particular location. Crazy? Yes. Twisted thinking? Certainly. But, that’s what he said and the blood was real.

Our dangerous President is not to blame for all this. We’ve been a divided nation for many years. But, he’s become a master at using our “separateness” against us to drive divisions and hatred. He’s wielded racism as a club against those of differing skin colors. He’s used his own destructive brand of politics in attempts to disable our government and let loose conditions – often ruinous conditions – to violate laws of both man and nature.

There’s an old story about two brothers engaged in a fight. Pounding each other. But, when someone else attacked one of the brothers, they jointly battled the intruder.

It used to be much the same with America. We tangled and tussled among ourselves. We had our disagreements and our differences. But, when outsiders – other nations – provoked us or fomented wars against us, we turned as one to deal with the outsider. We fought wars in which Americans of differing skin colors, differing religions, differing ethnicities, differing sexual orientation acted together. Bound by a single purpose regardless of our differences.

In many ways, we’ve lost that uniformity of acting as one. Maybe the terrible division wrought by the war in Viet Nam was a turning point when national purpose was so openly and so fiercely divided. For many Americans, those divisions are still there. Maybe when we lost the comity and respect for relationships in our political affairs was another. No more working for the good of the whole. Now, it’s trench warfare with good ideas and “what’s-best-for-the-country” becoming victims of yet more division and disrespect for our institutions. And, in many cases, for each other.

The melting pot was a good idea. And it’s still a good idea. Our homeland never prospered as much as when we worked together, ignoring differences to reach common purpose. Whether in war or striving to send astronauts to the moon or defeating dictators or developing mind-bending technologies and great advances in medicine for our national benefit. Individuals of many backgrounds dedicated to achievements of universal purpose.

Curmudgeon that I am, I doubt we will ever again see a true national melting pot. Still, some say the young among us aren’t as devoted to divisions as we older folk. We’re told they don’t get so tangled up on sexuality or race or national origin as many of us do. Some believe they’re better able to look past differences to concentrate on more important things. That they’re more pliable of thought and better able to work together for common purpose.

I pray that is so. Because, 14 months from now, we and they are going to have to be united “as one” to beat a common foe. We who love this country, and the diversity that’s made it work, will be called to look past our differences and unite to expunge our government of those who have tried so hard to separate us.

We’ll need the best of that old melting pot to join in singleness of national purpose.

What now

Author: admin

Saturday, we watched the news of the mass shooting in El Paso. We went to bed angry.

Sunday, we awoke to the news of another mass shooting in Dayton. We went to church. We went angry.

We went to church to ask God, “What the Hell can we do? What can we say? Why is this happening? What are you going to do?”

The prayers were silent. Across the country, in thousands of other churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, cathedrals and even in living rooms, I’m sure we were joined by literally millions of Americans collectively asking God, “What the Hell can we do?”

Some, I suppose, were asking God to intervene. Asking God to do something. Take action. Come up with some sort of new holy law rendering future shooters incapable. Anything to stop the murder.

In two massacres, 29 people dead and at least 46 wounded or otherwise injured as a result. Within 16 hours of each other. From the bodies on the ground, concentric circles of grief, anger and shock were sent out to hundreds – maybe thousands – of homes and families across the country. Grief. Anger. Shock.

So, what do we do to effectively keep some of us from killing others of us in fits of anger, desperation, frustration or mindless, suicidal acts of cold blooded murder? I’ve not found an answer.

Yes, we can pile on gutless and NRA-bought-and-paid-for politicians of every stripe. Yes, they’ve done nothing. But, really, will the next shooter stop before the planned bloody deed to read new laws and decide he’s not going to do it because murder is against the law? Really?

Some say more mental health care is needed. O.K. How do we find the pre-shooter? How do we find them all? How do we get them into treatment? What if we miss a few? Will we get mental treatment to everyone that needs it? Really?

Some say get rid of the guns. The FBI estimates there are more than 300-million guns in private hands. Are we going to go after them? Take them away? Really? How many more killings will result from such efforts?

Some say destroy the NRA. Just attack it, legally or financially or morally until it’s dead. And the several million responsible gun owners who make up the bulk of the NRA? Destroy the NRA? Really?

More background checks and tougher security checks for those who want to buy guns? Both of the weekend shooters bought theirs legally. What more can be done? How many more hurdles? Really?

There is no one answer. And I can’t come up with even a handful that would be effective. That would end the bloodshed. That would stop the killing.

We are cursed by our own technology. The Internet has become an international “party line” for terrorists, wannabe terrorists, nutballs, delusional misfits and maniacs. Individuals who used to be angry, alone and afraid to act can now “talk” to thousands of other individuals similarly angry, afraid and alone. But, with the “party line,” they can strike common cause – boost the egos of each other – create an electronic world where crazy fantasies become their “realities.”

The FBI and others can track ISIS or other terrorists online. But they can’t act on what nasty deeds are planned within our borders because of privacy laws. Got an answer for that?

We’ve got a president who speaks of Nazi sympathizers and terrorists as “good people” and who will not – WILL NOT – disavow them or their acts. He gives verbal “cues” of approval to rough up protestors, vows to pay their legal costs, pumps up their zealotry by recognizing them at rallies and other public events. Both of last week’s shooters were admirers of Trump. One even had a picture on his website of 17 guns arranged to spell “T-R-U-M-P.” Really!

On the I-Net, there are the terrorist websites deliberately aimed at teens around the world. Filled with glossy videos and music. Telling the young they can achieve martyrdom by killing – and being killed – for such-and-such a cause. Pick one. Load your AK-47 and go!

When we were young, nearly all of us wondered how long we’d live, how many years were ahead of us. Millions of young people today don’t see themselves growing older. Many see themselves dying young. Some assume they will. School shootings, mass killings in stores, theaters, churches and concerts where they go feed into that. Video games and violent fantasy movies, too. There are more teen suicides per capita now than just a decade ago.

Yes, I’m venting. I’d bet you have, too. Because, when you look at these mass murders with a sense of reality, there seem to be no answers. A little bit here. A little bit there. Oh, we can do this. Or, we can do that. O,r even a whole bunch of things.

But, how do we reach – and stop – the thousands of twisted, sick minds out there conditioned by anger, by shame, by addiction, by encouragement from terrorists, by racism, by loneliness, by drugs, by harassment from their peers, by disappointment?

New laws won’t do it. Fears of punishment won’t do it. Making guns harder to buy won’t. Medical treatment won’t. When a semi-automatic can shoot 700 rounds a minute, nothing will do it.

Some say climate change is today’s most urgent problem. To me, it’s the lone, unidentified, suicidal white guy with an A-K. And I don’t have the answers.
 

Fallacy of ‘debates’

Author: admin

Many decades ago, I got my first horse racing introduction with a friend who said he was “experienced” in horse racing. I knew nothing about it so figured this would be an education.

An “education” it was.

We walked to the paddock area where horses for the next race were on display. I watched and listened to my “experienced” friend and those around us as they sized up the animals. It wasn’t long until my “education” expectations died.

“Look at the color of that Chestnut,” someone said. “He’ll win.” “Oh, that brown horse – I’ll bet on him,” was heard. Another “expert” liked the green and gold jockey’s outfit. Another “winner.”

That racing experience of long ago came to mind after watching the last Democrat presidential “debate.” And the ensuing “expert” commentaries. There were many parallels.

“This one’s up, that one’s down.” “For an unknown, she made some good points.” “Not much experience but handled himself well.”
Sounded like the “experienced” racing crowd.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these crowded “horse shows” mean nothing. But, they don’t mean much. The minority of Americans who care to watch and listen can see their favorites in action and watch the rest of the crowd. Others at least learn the names of the previously unknowns. And who will be unknown again before the 2020 election. But, if you’re watching for substance or decision-making, well, good luck.

Debates don’t win presidential elections. Oh, there was that Nixon-Kennedy debacle in 1959. Kennedy cool and articulate. Nixon with five o’clock shadow and sweating like an NFL down lineman in an August exhibition game. Might have been some significance in that. But, debates 18 months ahead of elections, don’t count for much. Remember Clinton-Trump debates? She got three-million more votes than he did but he won in the Electoral College. Winning is not done in debates.

Several things have been disappointing in these free-for-all’s. For me, it’s the things that haven’t been said. What must be done quickly – and massively – about climate change? How to undo the immigration shame wrought by Trump. What about homelessness and housing people can’t afford? What about the VA health care mess? How to stop or at least clean up gerrymandering which is a proven cancer in many of our elections? What can be done effectively to stop foreign governments from screwing with our elections. None of these – none – have been addressed. As the old gal said, “Where’s the beef?”

We’ve been “treated” to attacks, prepared ad libs, snarky comments about him or her and lots of meaningless chatter about this and that.
Even criticism of Barrack Obama – a guy the finalist is going to need big time before November.

Most of those faces now peering out from the crowd on stage will be gone in a few weeks. They won’t be able to raise the necessary money, create a large enough staff, be able to get thousands of volunteers “on the ground” in 50 states, compile the massive data base necessary for communications with voters and more. And those are the things – the absolutely necessary things – needed to survive. Warren, Biden and Sanders either have those things or can get them in short order. None of the other 17 has or can.

One bit of mystery getting my attention has nothing to do with debating. Obama and Eric Holder are deeply involved with something called the National Redistricting Committee – a vehicle they created to deal with gerrymandering congressional and legislative districts and to undertake such other “related political affairs that may be of interest.” They’ve got reps in most states and I’d guess turning the organization to a candidate-backer would be just a short step.

Both gentlemen are keeping low profiles at the moment. Except Holder’s well-publicized warning to Democratic “debaters” last week not to keep attacking Obama. Given Obama’s well-known 50-state grassroots history, and Holder’s proven abilities of effective organizing, those two may be the secret weapon necessary for a Democrat victory in 2020. I’m keeping an eye on them.

As for “debates” over the next 16 months or so, well, if there’s little “beef” and more personal attacks, they won’t mean much. If the subjects listed above – and a few others – aren’t addressed with some creative thinking and solid plans, it’ll just be talk, talk, talk. We – the voters – won’t have what we need to make intelligent choices.

And, don’t forget, the changes necessary in our elected federal government won’t mean a damned thing if Democrats win the White House but don’t take the Senate. If “Moscow Mitch” or some other Republican is Majority Leader in 2021, we’ll have four more years of nothing. Just more stalemate and division.

We’re not seeing real debates. We’re watching those old horse displays with people instead of nags. We’re watching a beauty contest. The real issue isn’t who “won” or “lost” the last gab fest. It’s who among them has the savvy and the ability to quickly mount a successful winning campaign with all the absolutely necessary tools.

Warren, Biden and Sanders are in for the long haul. It really doesn’t matter who you “like” now or who looks good. The real issue is can we all get together behind the name on the ballot in November, 2020? Can we turn away from our favorite of the moment to cast a ballot for someone else when it counts? Anyone else.

Enforcement by choice

Author: admin

There’s a little town in Southern Arizona. Arivaca. About 700 locals live there, 11 miles from the border with Mexico. Pretty barren place. Most folks are seniors who moved there to spend their later years in peace and quiet.

Such conditions have ended with the appearance of dozens of adult “failures-in fatigues” carrying their “adulthood” around in AR-15s and mock machine guns mounted on ever-present pickups. They’ve split the locals and run the newspaper publisher out-of-town with threats. And now, they’re “arresting” immigrants.

One of their unwelcome number arrived a few years back and has become the “scheduler” for the many faux “patriots” who regularly come and go. He sends them out along the border in small groups, armed to the teeth, looking for the Mexican “invaders.”

“Shoot ‘em” is a mostly unspoken “order.” But, they talk about it. So far, no one knows if someone really has been killed or if the occasional burst of weapon fire is just a screwball getting his jollies by peppering a few cacti. Which, incidentally, is a crime in Arizona. But, so far, the sheriff has looked the other way on all this for at least seven years.

Law enforcement “looking the other way” has become a national phenomenon, especially in the West. Sheriff’s, elected to enforce laws, are letting it be known they’ll be quite selective when enforcing.

One is Oregon’s Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin in Roseburg, Some time ago, he announced he would not recognize any new gun laws passed by any body, state or national. Further, he would arrest anyone from any agency – state or national – that tried to do their rightful duties in “his” county. Hanlin has been soundly re-elected in the meantime and those other agents have apparently steered clear of Douglas County.

Brother-in arms Sheriff Curtis Landers in Oregon’s far Southwest Curry County, said his troops would not work with ICE units. Coastal fishermen are known to use aliens as deck hands and in processing plants. Lots of ‘em.

For several years, near the little town of Merlin, Oregon, there’s been an illegal mining operation on BLM land. The owner was officially notified to shut it down. Finally, the feds went out to the site to personally hand him yet another cease-and-desist order.

They were met by more of those phony military wannabees with the obligatory automatic rifles. Dug in around the perimeter facing the road. The feds pulled back – waited several days – then retreated. Couple of weeks later, the local BLM office was shuttered.

These aren’t isolated instances. Nevada, Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and others are operating on this “law-enforcement-by-choice” phenomena. They may arrest you for doing 50mph in a school zone but ignore other black letter law keeping other enforcement officials from doing their jobs.

When you have feds like the BLM surrendering and closing field offices when faced with armed idiots – and when no one is arrested for illegal acts related thereto – we’ve got a dangerous situation.

Adherence to law – regardless of Donald J. Trump – is the spine that keeps this nation upright. We, who are not engaged in enforcing laws, must rely on the honesty and integrity of those who do. What we’re seeing is that we can’t. In some cases – like Hanlin – there appears to even be insufficient public will to kick ‘em out of office. Or, maybe it’s majority voter approval for his “I’ll-decide-what’s-illegal” policy.

Southern Oregon and Northern California timberlands are teeming with these fatigue-wearers. All armed with various heavy weapons. Some in encampments – others living in solitary but well-armed outposts.

And, they seem to be getting at least some political support. Three California counties have petitioned the legislature to secede and create a new state called “Jefferson.” Oregon’s Josephine and Jackson counties (Roseburg, Medford, Cave Junction) haven’t made it that official but many folks there talk of becoming part of Jefferson. Bumper stickers, radio talk shows, (un)social media, bar talk and billboards are plentiful.

Duly elected officials – county commissioners and sheriffs – have the obligations of their oaths-of-office. But, you can’t count on that anymore in some cases.

The question is, which cases?

Post-Trump

Author: admin

Reading Conservative columnist – and ex-Republican – George Will the other day. He said – and I’m paraphrasing here – when Trump leaves office in 2020 or 2024, don’t expect our politics to snap back into the shape it used to be.

Will also opined “Trump will to more lasting damage to America than Nixon and Watergate.”

As usual, George is right on target.

The American political wars – and indeed, much of our entire society – will never be the same. For better or worse – and I would strenuously argue worse – Trump’s devastation of our previous way of life, and what we considered normalcy, has guaranteed things will never again be the same.

None among us can predict how thorough or lasting these changes will be. Nor can anyone, at this point, clearly describe what those social and political conditions will be like. But, changes there will be. Many.

Trump is not singularly to blame for what comes next. But, he recognized the divisions in our society and the mostly unspoken frustrations of a good chunk of the citizenry, boxed ‘em up and gave voice to what about 30-million people were thinking.

He marketed divisions and frustration like they were just some other consumer products to be pitched and, with them, sowed the whirlwind. His salesmanship found takers in the gullible and the unknowing and here we are.

All this racism business. It’s been there, just barely underground, for more than 250 years. Even those of us who denied we were racists knew it. Old story. But, Trump’s gave it voice and introduced to into polite conversation. He bellowed it from the rooftops – read social media – slapping it squarely into our everyday discourse. And, among his fellow Republicans in Congress, he’s made about 180 of them publicly support his hateful rhetoric on the Congressional Record.

Ably abetted by McConnell, McCarthy, Scaliese and dozens of others in Congress, more concerned with continued employment than the nation’s good or the oaths they swore to, Trump has marshaled a unique “Fourth Reich” in our politics. Waving the American flag, while wrapping themselves in “patriotic” vitriol, they’ve been his conduits of mongrel politics.

There’s no collegiality in Congress anymore. No one is “reaching across the aisle” to achieve consensus. Voices debating the merits – or lack thereof – of legislation are no longer heard. All that’s been replaced with “us” and “them” and pledges by Republican “leadership” to kill or neuter any Democrat bills – read Mitch McConnell. It’s open warfare and will be for years to come. Post-Trump.

And society? Well, have you lost friends in the last year or so over suddenly entrenched differences? I have. Have you found the coarseness and foul speech all around you creeping more and more into your everyday affairs? I have. Do you find your temper/patience short with issues and people more than, oh, say three or four years ago? I have. Have you experienced disappointment with friends or acquaintances who’ve surprised you with seeming acceptance of today’s poisonous political atmosphere? I have.

Trump’s fault? Not all of it. But, he’s given voice to hate, vengeance, uncivil discourse and ignorance. Unlike that little Dutch boy who put his finger in the hole of a leaking dike, Trump has opened the floodgates for a steady flow of more sickening public insults of our fellow men – and women – than ever before. He’s unleashed open racial hatred. His ignorance of government, world affairs, international relationships, acceptance of foreign dictators over our democratic friends has eroded our nation’s trustworthiness in matters of state.

Trump is dedicated to undermining public confidence in the media in a pattern familiar to foreign dictators. His minions have joined their voices with his in a steady stream of lies, demagoguery, contradictions and deceptions. He’s surrounded himself with sycophants dedicated to stripping protections for worker safety, the environment and even public education. He’s tried – so far unsuccessfully – to strip health care from millions of people. And more. Much more.

When Trump leaves office – by voter decision or otherwise – the effects of his treachery, his deceitfulness, his sordid moral character, his refusal to fill thousands of necessary government jobs, his willful ignorance of protocols and accepted practices, his secrecy and complicity in underhanded dealings, his criminal behavior in business and government relationships – all that and more will leave a political and social stench for decades. If not longer.

He’s managed to put openly and deliberately hateful dialogues into our politics and society. He’s introduced fraudulent diatribes and deceptive virulence into otherwise normal conduct of the Office of President. He’s blurred the lines between truth and deception in everyday affairs of government and publically accepted behaviors.

Trump is not to be entirely blamed for the open hatred in our national politics. Nor is he alone responsible for massive disruptions in our society. But, he must shoulder most of the burden for our increasingly fractious political condition. And for his negative influences to increase separation and distrust among Americans of differing cultures and racial identity.

When Trump leaves office, we’ll be a long, long time getting rid of what he leaves behind. If ever. Post-Trump.

A nod to the Birchers

Author: admin

One of the professional pleasures I’ve enjoyed in broadcasting and writing opinion journalism has been the freedom to occasionally chew on the nut cases of the far right. That enjoyment has been especially heightened when one or more ”targets” gets all outraged and feels personally persecuted.

That was especially true in the late 1960’s when the targets were often the Birchers and Liberty Lobby as they railed against “Communists-behind-every-tree” and “big government taking away our freedoms.” They made an awful noise.

While I still enjoy targeting those “paranoid patriots,” I’ve lately begun to feel some of their pain. My pain, however, has a more solid basis in fact than those conspiracy believers.

We’re seeing more and more evidence that government, at all levels, has taken on the role of master rather than constitutional servant. It’s happening along the Potomac and it’s happening – in spades – in Idaho.

Case in point: the legally protected right of the people to make laws by referendum and to do so freely.

The traditional Idaho Republican-controlled legislature tried to make future public petition efforts nearly impossible. In plain language, to stop the public from exercising a constitutional guarantee so legislators can do their work without “interference.”

The basis for Republican efforts to castrate the public referendum process was in response to the overwhelming 2018 success of a petition drive to expand Medicaid coverage. But, with petitions still warm on the desk, Republicans quickly moved to kill the idea. And, to clamp down on future petition drives to make sure John and Jane Q. Public would face more hurdles trying again. On anything.

Gov. Little vetoed one bill but for the wrong reason. He agreed with content but feared expensive court challenges – and high defense costs sure to come – challenges that would likely be successful as they have been in other states. Little tried to mollify both Republican legislative friends and the public. Most Idahoans wanted the referendum bills killed. So, the GOPers in the Statehouse went back to work, rewriting for another try.

Little signed a Medicaid expansion bill which tries to add work requirements. Even if the feds approve, there’ll be a court fight on that one, too. More tax dollars down the rat hole. Little didn’t seem to care how high the legal bills will be on that one. Wonder why.

Utah and several other states have been involved in similar efforts to mute public input and kill attempts to expand Medicaid in their locales, even after similar overwhelming public support.

One can sense the deformed hand of the American Legislative Exchange Council in all this. ALEC. Funded by billionaires and large corporations, ALEC works with state legislatures and Congress – and some local governments – creating and passing out copies of “master” bills to do this-and-that. Nearly always something for the “fat cats” at the expense of the public.

ALEC has positioned itself as a sort of another level of government. I’d guess most of the public would be strongly opposed to ALEC if it knew ALEC existed and why. But, most folks don’t.

There are many cases in which our national government actively works against the interests of most of us. Though reliable public polling may show large majorities supporting a national issue like needing immediate action on climate change, Congress – especially the Senate – ignores it. If we overwhelmingly oppose something like the Kavanaugh SCOTUS nomination – they’ll do it anyway.

Members of Congress – especially many Republicans – have sealed themselves off from voters. Try to get Idaho Senators Risch or Crapo on the phone. Even harder, to meet with them face-to-face. When’s the last time they took questions at a constituent meeting? Or, even had a legitimate constituent meeting? Same in Utah with Lee and Romney.

Many elected officials – especially federal – have separated themselves from citizens. You see more and more instances of the “servant” becoming the “master.” Rather than responding to issues and concerns of the populace, we see governments – especially the elected portions thereof – going their own way while ignoring our input.

Added to this, we have a racist, narcissistic, chronic liar in the Oval Office hellbent on destroying any parts of government he doesn’t like. Which is most of it. And, he’s telling various authorities of that government to lie and ignore federal laws – even subpoenas – to get done whatever he wants done.

In the ‘50’s and ‘60’s, the Birchers and others were wrong. At the top of their voices. We’ve not been devoured by Communism, we haven’t needed the gold standard and their hero, Joe McCarthy, was a sick, loud-mouthed drunk who enjoyed destroying people.

But, they may have been onto something with their fear of government turning on the people and challenging some of our freedoms.

I’ll give ‘em that. But, that’s all.
 

Damn, it’s hot

Author: admin

Well, summer is officially here in our cactus-littered neighborhood.

It’s easy to tell. Temperatures this week have been 102, 108, 109, 110 and 111. The 115’s and 120’s are yet to come. Overnight lows recently have been around 80 but we expect 90’s in a few weeks.

Sometimes, I don’t think humans were meant to live here. Our closest neighbors are coyotes, bobcats, cotton tails and birds of every description. Fewer rabbits than coyotes but that’s just nature’s way.

Now, if you’re asking yourself why any self-respecting old folks from the much cooler Northwest would settle here, we often ask ourselves the same question. It’s not really as bad as it sounds. Remember, this is desert country. The humidity hovers between 0% and 10% most of the time – dry heat. Still, it’s a shock to open the door of your 75 degree home into a “wall” of 115 just to go to the mailbox.

The trick here is to keep hydrated. Lots of water. Retailers who rely on outside sales (car dealers, etc.) quickly put a free bottle of cold water in a customer’s hand. Many retail stores have bottles of water handy. It’s not considered bad form to carry water even in church.

Air conditioning is not an option in our parts when building a home or buying a car. So, for the most part, we get in our air conditioned car, drive to an air conditioned store, get back in our air conditioned car and drive to our air conditioned home. Our total daily exposure to high temps can usually be limited to 10 minutes or less.

Newcomers complain about the lack of cool tap water during our heat spells. No cold showers. Tap water until October is about as cool as warm coffee. Old timers advise those folks to call the local water company and tell ‘em workers need to check the cold water lines because they aren’t cold. I’ve wondered how many follow that advice.

The problem is we live in a desert – read “sand.” When the heat gets going, the ground (sand) is heated down several feel to a spot below water pipes running from the street. So, nothing you can do to get a cold bath unless you empty the ice cube bin into the tub.

If you want to work outside in your garden, for instance, just turn the usual day upside down. Get up early and get after it before 10 or 11am. Do daily outside chores in a couple of early hours rather than just any old time. Same for golfers of which there are thousands in these parts. Takes some adjusting for the night owls.

Actually, adjusting here is a full time job. The entire community of 30,000 lives in a place where there are no straight streets. The whole thing is built with large circles and curved streets. Not sure what prompted ol’ Del Webb to do that. All streets are wide – very wide – with rolled shoulders. In the neighborhoods, you can park cars on both sides and still run three abreast if one’s a golf cart.

On those streets you’ll find hundreds of carts that have been “fixed” to go 35mph. All over the place. “Neighborhood cars” the locals call ‘em. Stores have specially marked parking spots just for the carts. Gray hairs constantly playing bumper tag with cars.

Garbage cans are 30 gallons. Thirty! And they’re buried next to the curb. Remember the coyotes and bobcats? But, the local trash folks pick up twice a week. And they’ll pick up anything. Up to 10 extra bags. So, 30 gallons works just fine. After all, we’re old folk.

Nearly all houses are built on lots covered with gravel. Citrus, cactus and other desert greenery add color. Most people live in the rear of their homes. Some, like us, have large, covered and screened patio’s called “Arizona Rooms.” Lots of use in winter months; not so much in the summer.

Yep, adjusting is a full time job hereabouts. I haven’t met anyone yet who says this place is just like where they came from. ‘Cause it ain’t. Most who come here for retirement settle in and adjust. But, there are some who give it a try and then go back home. Our neighbor from Oregon – married 34 years – got a divorce before taking up residence. His wife couldn’t stand the place after previous visits. He loved it. That’s what I like. Compromise.

If there’s a saving factor to this place it’s the winters. Usual low temps in the 40’s-50’s. Highs in the upper 70’s. Lots of blue sky and mostly dry conditions. Pretty much that way from October through May. It’s called “Snowbird Season” around here. Lutheran churches filled to overflowing during that time. Lots of “Birds” from Michigan, Minnesota, North and South Dakota.

Maybe the best advice when it comes to living with the very hot months is this: they’re what you put up with to have the most comfortable winter months you’ll ever experience.

Put another way, you’ll never buy a snow shovel. No one has to buy anti-freeze. You can get along without snow boots and galoshes. You’ll never find an icy street in the neighborhood. Don’t need a parka. You’ll never get stranded in a snow storm. Outdoor swimming is a 12 month deal. Golfing, too.

As I said: adjusting.

If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the neighborhood.

For several years, I’ve predicted the eventuality of a single-payer health care system in this country and submitted myself to verbal stoning from those who disagreed. And there were some who did, in fact, hurl some verbal rocks. Problem is, aside from criticism – warranted or not- the “throwers” offered no alternative or even decent arguments against the concept.

It’s coming, my friends. Like it or not, it’s nearer now than it was a year or two or three ago. In fact, our national health care law – the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or what’s left of it – may force the arrival of single-payer day sooner than previously expected. In my view, that may be its ultimate signature benefit.

Definition: Single payer health care is paid from an insurance pool, usually run by government – state or federal or a combination – with monies raised from individuals, employers or government. Or all three. The “payer” collects medical charges and pays for services rendered through one source – usually government using contractors. Care can be offered from many sources but there’s usually only one “payer.”

The quality of our health care is, for the most part, not in question. Neither is availability, though that currently differs somewhat based on location, ability to pay or availability of help to pay. No, the most powerful force – the most urgent – is C-O-S-T. Cost consuming about 20% of our nation’s economy. Cost bankrupting families hit with unexpected health problems. Cost leaving millions without preventative care or complete care even when needed. Cost driving profits to record levels for unscrupulous insurers. Costs – and dealing with them – that have driven gutless politicians into hiding. C-O-S-T.

I don’t believe politicians of any party – including their lobbyist friends – will solve this out-of-control national problem. In fact, it may be best they can’t – or won’t. Because any major change they’d make would be politically-based, self-serving, not systemically founded on equal access and reduced cost which are what needs fixing. The system of cost control. I’ve heard all the garbage about “getting government out of the health care business” and none – based on years of experience – makes a valid point. I’ve heard no ideas offering as sure a fix to our health cost issues as single payer. Whether government or a designated third party.

I can attest in the first person to having lived with single payer. To seniors, it’s called Medicare. Run by the government. I’ve been covered for more than 17 years. Without a single issue or complaint. Including major surgery. Access has never – never – been in question. Given my optional “medigap” insurance, cost has never – never- been an issue. The actual hands-on care has been first rate in the several locations where we’ve lived.

The Medicare option I chose costs about $100 a month. “Medigap” is about $220. A co-pay is seldom required. Never do we talk of not proceeding with care because of cost. Most prescriptions require no co-pay.

Access. First class care. Lower cost. Monthly out-of-pocket is about $320. If you’re younger than 65 and are paying any insurer, can you beat that? Are you eligible for all – ALL – necessary care for you and your family? Or, like so many in this country, are you “winging it” without insurance for cost or other reasons? Are you taking the unwinnable gamble you won’t need expensive medical care? ‘Cause, if you are, you’ll lose. Guaranteed.

Two significant changes in our national thinking are necessary to bring this about. First, a recognition that this not a problem that needs a political solution. It needs a professional, well-crafted and equally beneficial private health provider and insurer based solution with a top-to-bottom redesign to include all. All Americans. Politicians, even in the best of times – which these aren’t – can’t and/or won’t do that.

Second, Americans who have an unreasonable and entirely unwarranted resistance to all things government must join the rest of us in the real world. A chief tenet of government is to act in, and on behalf of, the “common good.” We accept that as fact in such things as the military, highway systems, aviation safety and other infrastructure needs.

Health care is an “infrastructure” need. When people are denied access – for cost or any other reason – they will cease to contribute to that “common good.” They will, instead, become economic and costly drains on that “common good.” If we agree we need government to defend ourselves as a nation – if we agree we need strong government to provide the economic and vital support infrastructure to make this nation successful – we need a common government guarantee of personal health. We’ll never truly achieve the first two guarantees if we continue to disregard the third.

If you have a workable concept for a non-political solution to our out-of-control health care problems, step up, my friend, and demand the podium. If you don’t, then rethink the concept of “single payer” and the concept of why government exists in the first place.

It will come. Bet on it.

Impossible tasks

Author: admin

I suppose the following words could be considered just a couple more rants about things political. There’s a lot of that in the air these days. But, I hope not.

Two current subjects have been eating at me for some time. Both amount to efforts by the media and nearly everyone else to fit yesterday’s words and actions into today’s accepted norms.

Stop it! It can’t be done!

A current striking example of that twisted thinking involves everybody’s favorite Democrat Joe Biden. Uncle Joe. A few days ago, he was talking about the necessity for people with opposing views and values working together to accomplish something important. At that moment, he was talking about efforts to pass the voting rights act in the ‘60’s.

Biden was citing working with a couple of avowed racists in the Senate – James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. Absolutely no question about their racist credentials. Biden talked of negotiating with them on various parts of the legislation to get their support when the vote was taken because it was gonna be close. And he got ‘em.

Yes, Virginia, there really was a time when politicians of one stripe actually had working relationships with those of a different stripe. It worked! An amazing time, that.

Sitting in the press gallery one day about 1970, I remember watching Barry Goldwater – an avowed Conservative – and Hubert Humphrey – an avowed liberal – going at each other in debate. Point-counterpoint. Back and forth. The real essence of politics at work. Ironically, something had to be amended in the bill and it was held for a day.

A few hours later, a fellow reporter found the “combatants” at the Congressional Club on the Hill behind the Capitol. Bourbon and branch water between them and chatting about an Arizona hunting trip Goldwater was putting together.

Think you could find that today in McConnell’s kangaroo Senate? Yeah, you bet. That’s what Biden was talking about. That’s how it worked. When it worked.

But, instantly, Booker, Warren, Harris ran to the media with their faux outrage about Biden’s “racist” comments. Pure B.S.. Booker, Warren and Harris have full time jobs in that same governing body and they know in their souls how it used to be. How it really worked. Or, maybe they conveniently “forgot” how things used to get done just to make a news cycle.

Biden said nothing wrong. But, the media scrum – none likely born at the time Biden was referring to – and Booker, Warren and Harris without Biden’s institutional experience – jumped all over him. Again, pure B.S..

Because of Bidens trying to use past examples of how this-and-that actually worked, his 40+ years of experience may be his Achilles’s heel. Though his kind of politics worked then, he may get hammered by opponents using today’s poisonous political climate to justify their attacks on the cooperation that used to be.

The other personal irritant is all this media hype of upcoming Democrat “debates.” You can’t get five pounds of lard into a one pound can. And you can’t “debate” when you have 10 candidates.

Let’s break it down. Suppose the allotted time is two hours. Less network lead-ins, exits, summations, etc.. That should total about 20 minutes. Now, with the remaining 100 minutes, divide that by 10 people. Spread over a two hour period, each gets a total of 10 minutes to speak, broken up by questions, audience reactions and other miscellaneous distractions.

There’s no debate. No back-and-forth. Just short “sound bites” so each can get in a favorite stump speech point. No challenge. No response. Nothing. Where the hell is the “debate?”

There is no debate and there will be no debate until, oh, about October, 2020. When each political party has just one candidate for President. When there are just two microphones and two voices. And that’s only if the “moderator” stays out of it and lets the combatants combat. Not likely.

Trump will be one voice. And he will be loud and raucous – foul and obscene. Based on past performance, he’ll interrupt, make noises, walk around while his opponent is talking and try anything to distract. And he’ll lie. Lie. Lie!

In fact, we may get through a whole political season without one real debate. Those last appearances may not amount to an actual debate after all. Just one serious voice trying to overcome the childish demeanor and harangues of our “president” who has already exhibited his “debate style.”

And that’s what’s been eating at me. But, that’s enough.

Just weary

Author: admin

I’m feeling something I never thought I would. I’ve got actual symptom of “Trump burnout.”

I’m at the stage of turning off the TV whenever his face or voice are present. I avoid conversations if they turn to his latest lie or his most recent outrageous act. I listen only to satellite music in the car rather than the political stations of former days. I can’t stay in the doctor’s waiting room if his image is on the TV.

All these “symptoms” – all of ‘em – are not good. More than that, they’re dangerous to our health as a nation if we all become numb – as I nearly am – to his latest impeachable offense.

It’s quite possible the basis for wanting to shut his visage out is that he keeps breaking laws, committing illegal acts and it seems he’s getting away with it. All of it. There seems to be no holding him to account for his actions; no punishment. Just more hearings. More court delays. More – nothing.

Though I greatly respect her years of experience and her political acumen, Nancy Pelosi is wrong on the issue of impeachment. A month or two ago, she was probably right. But, not now. Conditions have changed. Greatly. Trump’s ignorance of – and contempt for – the rule of law have risen to new heights.

In fact, he seems to relish trashing legal niceties and law breaking. When told an aide repeatedly broke federal law and had to go, he ignored it. When faced with mostly forced departures of cabinet officials and other key miscreants, he appointed nearly a dozen on an “acting” basis to avoid the legally required confirmation by Congress. When the CIA, NSA and FBI gave him hard intelligence of international wrongdoing, he ignored it and sided with our enemies. When Congress issued a handful of lawful subpoenas for many of his staff and appointees to appear for questioning, he stonewalled. And he lied – lied – LIED about nearly everything.

And the result of much of this arrogance? Court challenges. Challenges that will likely take more time to settle than he has in his current presidential term. And interminable hearings.

In other words, nothing!

And that’s why Pelosi must change her mind and begin impeachment proceedings, regardless of whether the Senate will or won’t follow with the required trial.

Much of the American public looks at House Democrat inaction as weakness or fear of Trump. There’s even an open division in the caucus between those wanting to move forward and those who want to wait. More hearings. More testimony. More extended court cases.

Trump is trashing not only the institutions of our government but also doing extreme damage to our international obligations and relationships. The President of the United States of America is not even welcome in several countries. He’s abrogated treaties of trade and security. He’s forced previously friendly trading partners to look to Russia and China for their needs. He’s crippled whole sections of our economy with tariffs and has undercut much of our agricultural system. Now, he’s flirting with getting this nation into yet another Mideast war.

These – and many other – actions have literally gone unchallenged and unchecked. As a result, when coupled with congressional inaction to hold him accountable, many of us are wondering what it will take to get our elected representatives – one third of the foundation of our government – to say “ENOUGH!”

And that’s where my Trump weariness comes in.

Our Constitution is the bedrock for our system of checks and balances – executive, legislative and judicial. Each branch is literally required to keep tabs on the other two. When the system gets out-of-balance, either or both of the other entities have not only the right but an obligation to take action to restore that balance.

I completely understand the Speaker’s reluctance to begin proceedings and can appreciate her political instincts. But, if corrective action to restore constitutional balance doesn’t begin soon, this nation will suffer serious and long-lasting damage.

The worst thing – the most dangerous thing – we citizens can do, at the moment, is become numb to Trump – become tired of his dictatorial presidency – become unwilling to stay informed of what’s going on.

I fear, if Congress doesn’t begin proceedings now, and if we simply have more and more hearings while waiting for courts to take action, conditions in the White House will worsen. The Trump-sponsored damage will continue to mount.

So, excuse me. I’ve got to keep up.