It ain’t over

Author: admin

Arizona’s “fraudit” count is over.

The Cyber-Ninja has gone where numerically-challenged Cyber-Ninja’s go. Republican Senator Karen Fann has quietly faded to her chambers to avoid a nosey media. The count has been cussed and discussed ad infinitum by all sides – with varying numbers and sources. Four-million voter forms have been returned to Maricopa County election folks. The five-million-dollar show is over. Time to move on, right?

You are wrong, ballot breath!

This Arizona fiasco is simply “the gift that keeps on giving.” Even so, The Arizona Republic newspaper had to pry the newest paperwork out of legislative hands with public records requests.

Surprisingly, a third group of ballot counters has been quietly at work, finding the “fraudit” by the Ninja was off by more than 312-thousand votes. Also, the Ninja didn’t tally another 167-thousand mailed ballots in its five-months of work. And five-million-dollars spent.

This new 695-page report was produced by former Arizona GOP chair Randy Pullen and was supposed to provide a “snapshot” of the two-million ballots cast. Some “snapshot” at 695-pages.

The hand count numbers in THIS report reflect a 15-percent error rate when compared to the machine count sponsored by the Arizona Senate Republicans. That Ninja guy.

Vote counting professional Larry Moore of Boston-based Clear Ballot Group, said this is “proof the Cyber-Ninja count wasn’t real.” No kidding.

Moore is part of a three-person Arizona group called “The Audit Guys” which includes Benny White, a GOP data analyst and Tim Halvorsen, Clear Ballot’s retired technology chief. Taken together, these three carry a lot more weight when it comes to ballot audits.

The Audit Guys called the Ninja hand count a “work of fiction,” basing their statement that 17 pages extracted from the 695-page report showing a 10-percent error rate in the counting. About 200-thousands ballots.

As I said, the whole damned thing just “keeps on giving.”

Now, other states are trying to mimic the work done in Arizona. More millions of dollars are being picked from the pockets of folks who want D. Trump back in the Oval Office.

It would all seem ridiculous if somehow you forgot the whole damned scheme is the work of Trump and his lackeys to undermine public trust in future elections. That takes it from the realm of “ridiculous” to “damned serious.”

The 2022 off-year election is just about a year away. The disgraced and twice-impeached former President is already marshaling his minions with the continued claim he “is the rightful Commander-In-Chief” and “Biden lost in 2020.” He’s making libelous claims at the top of his voice as he tries to make us all think the upcoming election will be a work of fraud if “his candidates” don’t win.

And, in a handful of states where Biden’s edge in 2020 was close, the cries of “fraud” and “cheating” are already heard from local watering holes to State Houses. How many of these states will actually conduct some sort of “fraudit” remains to be seen. But, the more that join the farce, the more “regular folks” will hear about it and all the accompanying talk of election “irregularities.” Which there weren’t!

In some ways, what Trump is doing is attempting a verbal “coup.” He’s trying to get us to disbelieve voting outcomes when he doesn’t win. His thinking is, if he can get enough Americans to doubt the stability and honesty of a national election in 2022, he can return to the White House. Especially if the numbers in many states are close. And, he’s got elected Republicans by the dozens drenching themselves in his “unholy water” as accomplices.

I know, for most people, elections are some “far off” thing that doesn’t merit attention ‘til the week before. For many years, it’s been that way. It’s different this time. Dangerously different.

This “unindicted co-conspirator” and international con artist has about 20-25-million Americans listening to his every word. Right-wing hate radio/TV are making his lies seem real with their constant yammer of support. Those folks live in a world foreign to the rest of us. Their “reality” can cause them to be a force to be reckoned with at the polls and elsewhere.

We can’t turn our backs on these people – the Trump believers and voters. National media needs to keep up-to-speed on their comings and goings. We – all of us – need to remain faithful to our traditional foundation of truth, honesty and respect for our system of governance. Our respect for free and fair elections. And the validity of their outcomes.

Here in Arizona, our “fraudit’s”done. The Ninja’s gone. Peace reigns in the Valley. Except for the bilge emanating from right wing radio. A constant reminder of what could happen if we don’t pay attention.

A lack of permanence

Author: admin

A friend and I were lunching the other day, talking about this and that as friends will do. Discussions on any topic were fair game. Good guy.

One such topic was when he asked what was on my mind and I said “The lack of permanence.” I blurted it out. Then I expounded on it before giving it much serious thought. But, I gave it a lot of thought driving home. And since.

“The lack of permanence.”

For several years – and to this moment – I’ve felt anxieties, anger, a tendency to worry more about conditions and just a general unease. At first, I thought all these emotions – and more – were part of the aging process. After all, I’ve never been four-score-and-five before. And we aren’t born with a book of instructions to refer to as we go.

For nearly all my life, there’s been a sense of permanence, normalcy and order in nearly everything. Through all the troubles of this nation, we’ve survived, our living conditions normalized and our institutions stood firm. Some changes occurred and we adjusted. Returned to normal.

No longer! It just keeps changing and causing – in many – a sense of impermanence. A general lack of stability.

Take the USPS. You know, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor dark of night….” Permanence? Not under Louis DeJoy! Maybe the President can’t directly fire this guy who’s tearing our mail service apart. But, he can damn well fire the Board of Directors who keep the bastard in the job. Permanence? No!

Take public schools. Business as usual? Not since COVID, masks and “critical race theory.” Just consider the scholastic “wars” going on between school boards and angry parents nationwide. Some actual brawls over subject matter or vaccinations or just about anything. Definitely not permanence or the historic scholastic calm we’re used to.

Been shopping or dining out recently? Permanence? We tried to have breakfast out the other day. We were told we could be seated immediately but not served for an hour! Staff shortage in the kitchen? Quite likely.

Tried to drop off the family pup for a bath. Noted line from the back wall of the store to the single checkout. Poor management or staff shortage? Really doesn’t matter. That’s the “usual” in stores and other service business these days.

Church? Permanence? Ours didn’t meet in the sanctuary for months. Used the I-net. Now, meeting in person, more than half the seats roped off, no touching and masks highly recommended. No social time following services. Is that the church you remember all these years?

Car buying? Is it “business as usual” at the dealership? Not now. Inventory down to 10-12 cars on the lot. Prices at sticker. Or above. Shopping for cars online is the big thing. But, even there, sold-out or greatly reduced inventory. Chip shortage. Some dealerships closing. Try making a shop appointment. A week or two out.

Grocery stores. Same old shopping experience? Hardly. Many shelves empty. Short inventory. Fewer check-out stands open.

Personal banking? Some have closed lobbies. Others allow only two or three customers at a time if lobby is open. Staffing levels cut. Branches with four or five employees. In some, no loan officers. Business as usual?

Congress? Effective? NO! The political parties are so divided little is done while needs of citizens go unmet. Poll after poll shows where the nation is on urgent issues – jobs, infrastructure, foreign affairs – even abortion. But, none seem to matter to congressional leaders, as they ignore the will of voters who sent them to the Potomac shores.

Sense of permanence in government? Again, hardly. We’re running month-to-month paying our national bills with a total shutdown looming over our heads. We’ve got a national party hellbent on stopping any important legislation. Fractures in governance have made Congress nearly useless.

A new national budget, tailored to our needs, hasn’t been devised in many years. Pentagon spending so bloated even the military can’t conduct a complete – much less accurate – accounting for hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year. Spending completely out of control. And, for the first time in my long life, our military has lost two wars. Wars lost to people with no air force, no navy, no up-to-date military equipment. Yet, we spend some 800-billion-dollars a year on “defense.”

Government has lost touch with the people. At some state and local levels as well. The postal service is a mess with higher prices and poorer services. Our national treasury is running nearly on empty. Our vaunted military is in disarray and defeated. Civic continuity and comity are gone in many places. Institutions valued for generations are being challenged as never before and some have been rendered nearly ineffective.

Our world is unsteady in ways we’ve never known. If you, too, are searching for permanence and find it, please let me know.
 

Madhu

Author: admin

A friend died a few days ago at the age of 73. Cause of death was a combination of ills of being a senior.

He was East Indian. Born in Kenya, where his father was posted in India’s diplomatic corps, though he lived much of his life in India and England. He was well-educated and was a successful businessman in England and the States. He and his wife, Nilini, raised two very successful – now adult – offspring who live overseas.

Though we met and started our friendship in Oregon, somehow, we found ourselves in Arizona years later. He, to own and operate a profitable business and me, to retire. Lived about 30 miles apart.

His name was Madhu Patel. In India, the name “Patel” is synonymous with “Smith” or “Jones” in this country. Lots of ‘em. The name originated among farmers and other agrarian folks centuries ago. I have two doctors named Patel and Barb has one. No relation.

Though Madhu was successful in business, he was a shy man. If you got to know him, he had a good sense of humor. He was honest to a fault. I found him to be a good friend. The kind of friend you could not see for months, then, when you got together, you just picked up where you left off.

So, why are we describing a man you probably never heard of? Because he lived. He was not a statistic! He was not just a number in someone’s record keeping of the comings and goings of medically-related outcomes.

Neither are the 680-thousand or so American dead. Victims of COVID. Each one a person. Each had a life that mattered to someone. Each was an individual in his/her own way. They weren’t just another digit on the national rolls of the deceased.

But, as the media reveals COVID-related deaths each day, that’s how it seems. Numbers. Statistics. Not flesh and blood. Not real.

I’d guess each of us knows someone who is/was a COVID victim. Someone who lived an otherwise “normal” life. Someone who mattered. To you. To many others. A Madhu Patel. A singular name with a real life. Someone who made a difference to others. Flesh and blood. Someone who was respected and cared about.

One thing that makes me so damned mad about the list of hundreds of thousands of COVID dead is a sizeable percentage made the list of their own volition, clinging to some excuse – some alleged “patriotism” – a resistance to authority – a loudly proclaimed “individualism.”

A bucketful of verbal B.S.!

Too often, the denier of medical science breakthroughs and qualified medical advice, becomes a statistic. Another number in the national death count. So much for denial. So much for “individualism.”

My friend, Madhu, didn’t want to die. He had family, friends, business success, a beautiful home and eventual retirement to live for. But, with the deepening physical failures caused by age, his death was inevitable. Those of us – family, employees and friends – who knew and loved him – are left to mourn. The man. Not the statistic.

So it has to be for each of the hundreds of thousands of COVID victims. Each had family. Each had friends. Each had a career. Each had aspirations for the future. I suspect none wanted to die.

Which makes the millions of voluntarily unvaccinated a mystery. Surely some have had family members or friends die. Or, knew someone who did. Surely some mourned. Have seen an unvaccinated life snuffed out. Have suffered loss.

Yet, millions of them – voluntarily unprotected – continue to cling to the denial of lifesaving science. Why do they let themselves in for hospital bills and/or burial expenses in the many thousands of dollars? Many may be forced into bankruptcy or lose their homes. And a shot that likely could have avoided all that takes only a few seconds. And it’s free!

Some deaths – like Madhu’s – can’t be avoided. They’re part of the natural cycle of life. We come. We go. And we, left behind, go on.

But, hundreds of thousands of the 690-thousand or so who suffered avoidable deaths – the agony and mourning – the high cost of life-saving medical care – the failure to recognize the dangers of turning their backs on free care that could sustain them in this COVID period – all of that could have been avoided. Except for ego. Except for vanity. Except for belief in some “invulnerable” being. Except for ………………

For Madhu, the father, brother, husband, businessman and friend, we mourn the man. The individual we knew. He didn’t die of COVID, but he’ll be remembered as a person – not a number.

Under attack

Author: admin

Like it or not, for the foreseeable future, Donald Trump is going to be a force to reckon with in nearly all things political. His lies and childlike attempts to keep his name in our faces has – and is – taking its toll on our way of life.

A new CNN poll of more than 2,000 citizens nationwide showed 56% believe our democracy is under attack. Further, 51% believe it’s “likely elected officials will successfully overturn the results of future elections if their party doesn’t win.”

Nearly all queried – 93% – believe our democracy “is being tested. Republicans expressing the worst fears were Trump voters. In that group, 79% say Trump should be the leader of the Republican Party.

Most in that GOP crowd believe there is “solid evidence” that Joe Biden lost the 2020 election – 78% so say. (Nobody was asked for evidence)

A narrow majority – 52% – lack confidence “future elections will accurately express the will of the people.” Maybe that’s because 58% say voting rule changes in GOP controlled states “were made to keep the Party in power.” Democrat responders – 53% – believe the same.

One other statistical note: 83% of polled Republicans believe election laws “aren’t strict enough” and 66% of Democrats say it’s already too hard to vote.

By way of evidence to support the opening comments about Trump, having an affect on our politics, again, the CNN poll shows 79% want Trump to be the leader of the GOP. Fact is, he is! Name one other Republican who could contest his occupying that spot right now. Or, in the next few years. I can’t think of one.

The polling also shows a majority of us feel under some sort of attack on our system of elections. Elections are the backbone of the country. If the words “free” and “fair” can’t be used to describe future elections, how will we electors have a voice in how the country is run?

Truly, the shadow of Trump hovers over just about everything political. It appears many GOP politicians believe they have to support Trump’s baseless claim he “won” in 2020 and “kiss the ring” in a display of obedience.

Look no further than the failed attempt to recall California’s governor. The loser started complaining the day BEFORE the polls opened that he was the victim of “a stolen election.” Pure Trump. Pure B.S..

Nearly all of us were raised in a time of political fairness, especially in national elections. Both Parties. In all who ran for one office or another. Belief in our election system was just taken for granted.

We know now, things aren’t “free and fair.” In my middle-of-the-road Republican family, the downfall of Richard Nixon killed my Father’s faith in politics and our traditional system of governance. His patriotism and lifelong belief in the honesty of the Presidency were crushed. It literally brought him to his knees. I was in the media at that time. Much of my reporting was about things political. But, Dad would never talk to me about politics again.

Now, we have Trump, whose lies and treachery have irreparably soiled much of our politics. Republicans running for nearly any office seem to have some sort of fealty to him. He sticks his nose into races up and down the ballot. Sometimes, he actively recruits candidates to run against some Republican he believes was disloyal to him.

Like it or not, his brand of politics is being emulated in many contests.
As in his California involvement, we’re seeing outright lies being effective at the polls. That’s how we got Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, and Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis and others of their ilk. Despoilers of truth and disdain for “free” and “fair.” They, and others, in Congress and state affairs have brazenly taken on Trump’s banners and are conducting themselves in his likeness.

Voters polled by CNN overwhelmingly believe our system of governance – our way of life – is under attack. The majority fear future elections may be invalidated by elected officials – especially Republican officials.

That polling shows many of us are unsettled, apprehensive about the future and are fearful our voices will be stilled by unscrupulous politicians. And, in many of the responses, the specter of Trump was revealed in their answers.

While I don’t question the veracity of the pollsters, I’d like to think most of us still believe in fairness and honesty – that we who cast ballots in elections will have our voices heard.

Yes, at the moment, Trump is an unwelcome player. But, I’d also like to think enough solid losses at the polls – like the California whipping – will eventually erase the stigma of his influence.

It’s up to us.

Get the damned shot

Author: admin

This B.S. has got to stop!

Get the damned shot! Now!

The cretins who keep refusing the best medicine to end our pandemic are not only exposing the rest of us. They’re also running up the already extremely high costs of care.

Consider this. According to the Medicare folks who crunch the numbers, providers get up to $150.00 to fully vaccinate beneficiaries with both doses. Two shots. No matter who holds the needle.

For the unvaccinated, the average hospital stay is $17,400! That’s 116 times the amount for two shots!!! One-hundred 16 times!

And, if the unvaccinated cretin in the bed needs a ventilator, the charge is $49,441 over about 17 days. That’s 330 times the cost of administering the vaccines! Three-hundred-thirty times!

Our Medicare/Medicaid system was never meant to pay all the costs associated with any pandemic. Never. But, everyone who refuses to get the shots is dramatically driving up the charges. You and I foot the bill for their miserable excuses. And, if the unvaccinated have no health insurance, welcome to the big time, idiot!

There are about 102,000 Covid patients in intensive care beds. The vast majority – needlessly. Just imagine the costs. CDC says about 98% are sans shot(s).

According to the Centers for Disease Control, just over half of us are fully vaccinated. But, 27-percent – 12 and older – are NOT. Totals of vaccine shots administered per day dropped 18-percent last week from a week earlier and 20-percent from a month earlier.

So, we’ve got just over a quarter of the population walking among us, many “carriers” of Covid and Delta variants, exposing the rest of us. And they’re putting our hospitals on “overload,” forcing them to triage who gets care and who doesn’t.

There is no known major religion prohibiting congregants from being vaccinated. Short of some anecdotal medical case, there’s no medical reason not to procure the vaccine.

Most interviews of the holdouts I’ve seen or heard can be summed up something like this. “Ain’t no damned government telling me what to do.” “First amendment.” “Liberty.” Yadda-yadda-yadda.

It was Trump who made the vaccination issue political rather than medical. It was Trump who knowingly disregarded initial warnings of the pandemic, choosing to do nothing. It was Trump who shuttered the governmental office deliberately created to deal with national medical emergencies. It was Trump who tried to make Covid nothing more than the common cold and came up with all the idiotic “treatments” for a serious – make that deadly – disease.

It was Trump who opened the door to his followers to rant, rave and bitch about “personal freedoms,” not trusting government, “liberty or death” deniers. The bastard took what should have been a quick, national medical effort to head-off an explosion of sickness and death and made it his personal political issue. Then, he was vaccinated, quietly and secretly. Hypocrisy in all capital letters!

Now, we’ve got a full blown pandemic, exploding health care costs for each of us. And, we’ve got millions of Americans making every excuse in the book for not doing what is absolutely necessary: getting the shots.

We’ve also got a medical situation that will continue for generations simply because shot-deniers are making it so. Those are not my words. Dr. Anthony Fauci is already talking of annual booster shots for Covid as well as the other flu vaccinations we’ve known for years.

Many of us have dropped out of normal activities simply because of the exposure risks of the unvaccinated. At our house, Barb has stopped going to her usual arts and craft clubs because so many attendees won’t wear masks or get the shots. Our church, with a sanctuary built for several hundred, limits attendance to 76 congregants on Sunday. Distanced. A few masked.

President Biden has made it abundantly clear he’s fed up with those who continue to resist the best medical advice – who would rather be Covid carriers with the likelihood of infecting others. He’s begun a crackdown to force large companies and government to require vaccinations for employees. And, we’re beginning to see results.

We’ve all had changes in our lives because of the disease. None of us is untouched. Our lives and our activities are much different that a couple of years ago. And, things will never be the same. Face masks and distancing will be our “watch words” for what could be the rest of our lives along with those unnecessary higher medical costs.

For much of that, you can blame your unvaccinated neighbor.

Get the damned shot!

Political carnivores

Author: admin

I’ve been around the business of politics a long time. Once an active participant, the role now is one of onlooker from the bleachers. Which ain’t all bad.

Though politics is considered a “winner-loser” sport, there’s also the “loser-loser” variety. That comes when those of the same party turn on each other and the internecine combat games begin. Seldom anyone wins.

If you track the history, those on the far-right – or far-left – are the usual combatants. Right more than left because there seem to be far more of them. Little splinter groups leave the main stem because of perceived indiscretions – things like disloyalty, dishonesty, lack of recognition and many, many more “perceived” affronts, usually on the part that breaks away.

Other times, it’s more like “hand-to-hand” combat or, if you will, a bare-knuckled brawl. Which seems to be shaping up among a lot of Republicans here in Arizona.

The “fraudit” which was supposed to be done the end of April – isn’t. No one directly involved will even hazard an end-time at this point. Even the recent lying, bellicose ravings of the original Trumpster himself, on this desert scene, haven’t moved the phony exercise one foot.

Two well-publicized happenings of recent days show gloves are off and it’s “Katie, bar the door” time with our 2+million votes in the middle of the fight.

First, Senate Republican-appointed go-between, former GOP Senator Ken Bennett, was barred from the “counting” floor and the “counting” building. Bennett, also a former Secretary of State, was appointed to that “lofty” position by none other than Republican Senate GOP Leader Karen Fann. Of course, in by-gone days, we didn’t know she was a Trumper-in-sheep’s-clothing. Bennett now says everything is hunky-dory meaning he kissed someone’s ring and gotten back into the “family.” For now. Stay tuned.

Second tip something’s not “right” in “fraudit-land,” is a handful of subpoenas laid upon the Maricopa Country Board of Supervisors. Yep, a real handful. They’re being ignored by the “ Supes” as was the first batch some months ago. Keep in mind, the Board is made up of five GOPer’s and one Dem. So, we’re talking Republicans nose-to-nose here.

Among other demands, Madame Fann still wants the county’s routers. Fat chance, that. If nothing else, County Sheriff Paul Penzone has made it abundantly clear, law enforcement data on those routers makes giving them to anyone a non-starter. Additionally, all county business and record keeping also reside therein. There’ll be no change of collective minds.

When Trump was here, a fewweeks ago, he used the word “routers” some 17 times in 12 minutes in his rant. “Show us the routers,” “When we get those routers…,” “We need those routers.” Over and over. I doubt he’d know a router from an honest dollar. If, he ever made one.

County superintendents, divided by political party, have, thus far, presented a unified front. “No,” in a loud, bi-partisan word! They’ve shown no signs of relenting.

We now know some details of how much the “fraudit” debacle has cost. Head Ninja says $5.5-million and counting. The guilty-but-Trump-pardoned Mike Flynn and Trump’s former attorney, Sidney Powell, through their uncontrolled PACs, put up about 5-million. Plus the $150-thousand in tax dollars from the Senate coffers.

Rank-and-file AZ Republicans have begun doing much “back-benching” about the “fraudit.” Many elected voices are being raised, calling it “ridiculous,” “foolish,” “making us look like idiots”…all of which it is and does. The tone is getting louder and now comes from some of the Party’s movers and shakers..

This whole “fraudit” undertaking was doomed from the start. Two things made that abundantly clear.

First, “employment” of an apparently one-man-band called “Cyber Ninja’s,” an outfit with a PO Box in Florida, a small suite of empty offices there, and not a day’s worth of experience in vote auditing. Not one. With condemnation of the affair by many highly-qualified vote tabulating companies nationwide, the “Ninja’s” (or “Ninja” in the singular”) have not been taken seriously. So, how could the output of the “work” be?

Second, when it became publically apparent the counters were all from the Republican Party membership list – many of them Trumpers – the oft-told promises of “fair,” “bi-partisan,” “honest,” “reliable,” counting were just so many lies from the git-go. Whatever “information” emanates from the “fraudit” will be believed by Trump hardliners and few others.

There seem to be some genuinely hard feelings on the part of the Board of Supervisors, regardless of party. They, alone, have been the voices of reason and sanity in this comically dangerous exercise in political fraud. They’ve held the line after giving Senate Republicans all they asked for in their original demands.

Now, in the words of that sea-going philosopher, Popeye, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” I think that sums it up for most of the rest of us, too.

Phoenix rising

Author: admin

So, the 2020 U.S. census figures are out. As a nation, we’re big. And, we’re getting bigger! No new revelations there.

Scholars seem interested mostly with the new data on race. In sum, the white majority has decreased in size to about 57-percent of the total population. The mix of ethnic and numerous other racial groups has increased, though not as fast as had been thought. But, the numbers and trends point to a likelihood of a near 50-50 split – White versus all the other non-White groups – in the 2030 sampling.

People with a political bent have begun poring over the tables and knee-deep statistical data. Both national parties are trying to find which portions of their interests have changed and whether such changes will add or subtract from their regions of interest. And political representation.

I’m more concerned with something in the second paragraph of the document announcing the figures. That interest is based on the fact that Barb and I now live adjacent to the “fastest growing city in America” and the city that’s replaced Philadelphia as the “fifth largest city in the nation.”

Phoenix!

We don’t actually live within the Phoenix city limits, which stretch many miles into the surrounding desert. No, we live in what is technically Surprise, Arizona, a relatively new and fast-growing community adjacent to Phoenix. We’re part of what advertisers call “Metro Phoenix.” There’s a large gaggle of such “adjacent” communities like Peoria, Glendale, Mesa, San Tan, Tempe, etc., etc., etc., etc.. And, etc..

The Arizona highway folks recently completed the last segment of a “beltway” all the way around Phoenix. There are highways 121, 202 and 303. Some portions of this “beltway”are six-seven lanes in each direction with traffic filling most of them at all hours.

Once you’ve decided you can survive the speeds, being fender-to-fender with strangers and with supreme confidence in your guardian angels, there’s an interesting phenomenon to see. Every 10 miles or so, surrounding Phoenix, there are “burbs” with new batches of subdivisions.

Get off the beltway at any point and drive down main street in each of the 30 or so of these desert “cities.” You’ll find Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wendy’s, Albertson’s, Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Taco Time, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and an assortment of smaller businesses adjacent. All these names and more repeated every 10 miles or so. Each grouping proud of it’s place in the Phoenix metro area.

I remember being so excited living in Boise or Roseburg when the first Costco outlet came to town. Proud and excited. But, in our “metro area,” Costco opens a new store every couple of months!

Phoenix is not only the state capitol, with about a dozen universities and colleges, it’s also the population center of Maricopa County with some 4-million residents. We have a large Hispanic presence as well as Asian and other subgroups. Indeed, Phoenix seems to represent the changing national racial and ethnic numbers borne out by the census. Attracting some 20-30-thousand new folks a year!

Though Phoenix has all the trappings expected in a city so large, there’s one unusual category that doesn’t get much attention. The industrial areas surrounding the city are filled with huge concrete warehouses. Hundred’s of ‘em. Many are a million square feet with 80 or 90 loading docks each. They stretch out for miles. New ones are being added daily.

Phoenix has become a national/international shipping point. Every type of goods you can imagine are trucked or flown into the area to be dropped, sorted, then reloaded and shipped out. From cars to toothbrushes. UPS has a huge complex of buildings. Facebook just announced a 940-thousand square foot structure to house row upon row of computer systems. REI, Boeing, Amazon shipping/receiving center(s), Hanover Pretzels, Mayo Clinic(s), Dick’s Sporting Goods and many more fill these buildings. Carvana’s main operation is also here.

Surrounding all of these, residential subdivisions. Everywhere.

I’m not familiar with local community planning and zoning laws. But, seeing thousands of houses and apartments springing up in all directions, there don’t seem to be many. In other places we’ve lived, growth has been more-or-less contiguous; limited, in most cases, to extensions of sewer, roads and water lines, etc.. Not here. Not by a damned sight!

Go 10 miles in one direction and you’ll find several hundred homes and a small shopping mall. Surrounded by miles and miles of undeveloped desert. Drive 30 or 50 miles in another direction and there’s another island of homes with no seeming connection to any developed area. Just more miles and miles of desert.

The little community of Buckeye, Arizona, recently annexed a subdivision of golf courses and expensive homes with at least 12 miles of barren desert between downtown Buckeye and the newly added community. Buckeye can provide no new amenities to the newly conscripted. But, it may have stolen the moniker “Biggest Little City In The West” from Reno.

Living in/adjacent to the nation’s fifth largest city has its advantages. And its disadvantages. With a major league team in nearly all national sports, Spring training Cactus League, entertainment centers for all the big time shows, shopping in everything from Neiman Marcus to Dollar Store and an interesting Western heritage all its own, Phoenix can be an interesting place to live.

With temperatures that can hit 120 degrees, scorpions, coyotes and other scavengers in your neighborhood, big city crime, crowds at virtually all venues, “Snowbirds” by the thousands, and a constant brown haze in the air daily – well – it IS America’s fifth largest city, you know.

“There are 100,000 to 200,000 people
walking around America today who
will be dead by the end of the year…..
and mostly self-inflicted.”

Those are the words of Dr. John Moore, Immunologist, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York. For the unvaccinated, those words should be a clarion call to get the shot(s). Doubtful.

We’ve all heard a bucketful of excuses from the unprotected. Enough already! Now, when I hear some off-the-wall cretin spouting gibberish, I remember another physician and his prediction: Dr. Anthony Fauci, well-credentialed medical spokesman.

“Facing the Delta variant, without
the protection afforded by the
vaccine, you will be infected.”

You would think that just about anyone in a position of authority, noting such dour warnings, would be a natural leader in the drive to get people medically protected from COVID and its variants.

Not so, I’m afraid.

While I know of at least a dozen cases of lawmen rejecting the mandate
of Oregon’s Governor Brown, regarding masks and other protective measures, let’s just deal with Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.

Physically, Hanlin’s a big, square-shouldered guy with a blond buzzcut. A striking physical presence when in his uniform with sidearm. Every bit the specimen you’d want on a recruiting poster.

Hanlin recently notified residents of Douglas County – in an overly long news release – that he will not be enforcing any mandate for anything. Period. While he notes, in his broadside, he’s “responsible for the peace and safety of those in Douglas County,” he demurs when it comes to someone making emergency safety rules for “those in Douglas County.”

Here’s another tidbit from Douglas County. Last week Dr. Martin Hill and his wife were driving through, on the way to the coast. While in Roseburg, Dr. Hill had a heart attack. His wife, a former Douglas County Commissioner, quickly drove to the local hospital.

Hill, who should have been admitted and treated, wasn’t. The hospital was at capacity with COVID patients. Packed in everywhere. So, Hill was treated as an outpatient and sent on his way.

Am I the only one who sees the link between Hanlin and Dr. Hill? Isn’t there some connection to the Sheriff refusing to enforce lawfully issued orders for self-protection from COVID and heart attack victim Hill being turned away from that hospital because COVID patients filled the place?

Several years ago, Sheriff Hanlin loudly took another stand that should be noted as we discuss his being “responsible for the peace and safety……etc.” That time, it was to announce – to all and sundry – he would not enforce any gun control laws coming from the Obama administration. Further, his deputies were ordered to arrest and jail any federal lawmen who tried to enforce compliance.

He’s been roundly elected since.

Many members of the Oregon Sheriffs’ Association have taken the same rejecting “hands off” position as Hanlin. If it’s “peace and safety” you want in Oregon, you might want to rethink calling 911. At least in Douglas County.

I’ve had the Pfizer shots. Both of ‘em. Each took about 20 minutes with 15 of those minutes sitting in my car, listening to the radio, while waiting to see if there were any side-affects. There weren’t.

The politicization of this shot business, and the refusal of the Hanlin’s of this world to do their duties to protect citizens that elect them, makes no sense. Throw in the picking-and-choosing of which laws to enforce and which to ignore by law enforcement leaves you wondering if you really are safe.

Counties – in Oregon and elsewhere – are not political fiefdoms for duly elected sheriff’s to decide which laws – or legal mandates – they’ll enforce and which they won’t.

In the tumult of the last five years, much has changed – with a world pandemic, the tortuous Trump years, Republicans block-voting to nearly bring our national government to a standstill – all that and more has upended our world. Stability has been in short supply.

In Douglas County, Oregon, and too many other counties in that state and elsewhere, the traditional community stability and safety of past years are also….. in short supply.

Is it legal?

Author: admin

Something’s happening in our country that’s, thus far, escaped much attention. But, in the name of good, lawful government, we should acknowledge what could eventually be a bad situation.

The nub of it is this. When it is right to ignore a lawfully issued order from proper authority? Given such an order to do – or not do – something, when it is proper -and legal – to say “No?”

Local school boards – honest, hard working local school boards – are facing that quandary right now in several states. States, wherein, governors have issued legally proper executive orders banning masks for teachers and children in public schools.

Now, right here, I’ve gotta say, I don’t agree with such orders, either. We should be taking whatever measures we can – everywhere – to insure the safety of our kids. All of ‘em.

But, the issue becomes which lawful orders do we ignore and which lawful orders do we follow? If it’s O.K. to disobey on this issue, what about some other order? On some other important matter?

Suppose a governor – by executive order – closes a state park because of recent animal attacks. Do you stay out, obeying the order? Or do you go to your favorite campground, well-armed? Disobeying the order.

What if your governor – by executive order – orders closure of four favorite lake because of deadly algae? Do you stay away, obeying the order? Or, do you launch your boat anyway? Disobeying the order.

While agreeing school boards should take every opportunity to keep kids and their teachers safe, how do we deal with opposing an executive order from the governor? A legal order? Even if it goes against the best medical authority?

Well, some school districts are not obeying. They’re ordering everybody to “mask up” and take such other precautions as necessary. “Damn the order – full speed ahead” sort of thing. Legally, can they do that?

One Texas school district – faced with such a conundrum – came up with a loophole of sorts. It simply rewrote the mandatory dress codes and included masks. Neat. Others are issuing mask orders before the effective date of the executive action. Cute.

Here in Arizona, our Governor is offering parents and school districts who support his “no mask” order grants of money. Yep, he’s paying people for their support! Up to $7-thousand a student! “Kill a kid, make a buck.” Damn!

Governors in Florida, Arizona and other states, trying to implement “no mask” orders, are wrong. Full stop! Each swore an oath upon taking office to provide for the safety and well-being of the citizenry. Allowing COVID to kill people is a violation of that oath, I would think.

It’ll be interesting to see if governors, faced with contrary school boards, take them to court. Normally, I’d say doubtful. But, we’re dealing with DeSantis in Florida, Ducey in Arizona and a few elsewhere. So, normal may not hold up if they’re determined to seek court decisions to back up their dubious orders.

If it comes to that, judges will be faced with a tough decision. Do they support chief executives by declaring the issuance of such orders are lawful and, therefore, require obedience? Or, despite legal strictures, do they allow “exemptions” for millions of kids and teachers?

And one more question. If school boards are supported by the courts, will there be other cases in which people ignore an executive order based on some school board precedent?

As I said, this question of disobeying lawful orders of a duly recognized authority isn’t getting much attention.

Maybe it should be.

Wait a damned minute

Author: admin

As this is written, chaos reigns in Afghanistan.

There’s terror in the country from border to border. The Taliban have complete control everywhere. Scenes of hundreds and hundreds of terrified Afghans chasing taxiing aircraft at the Kabul Airport are almost unbearable to watch. Some will cling after the plane takes off, only to fall to their deaths within minutes.

The frightened exodus has only begun. But already, Republicans are jumping all over President Biden as though he alone is responsible for the last two decades of strife, waste and death in that far away country. Even some Democrat voices are critical.

WAIT A DAMNED MINUTE!

We’ve poured several trillion dollars into that barren nation. We’ve propped up local leadership in one province after another – leadership that ultimately failed for lack of local support. Most wasted of all, the lives of several thousand young Americans who braved battle after battle, tour after tour. Until the final one.

The President’s knowledge of foreign affairs is second to none. Biden is surrounded by some of the best military and civilian minds anywhere. Countless days – and many nights – of poring over information gleaned from inside Afghanistan and neighboring countries gave him the best possible awareness of the terrain, the politics and its instability.

But, this is the one immutable fact. Our presence – our support of an unsupportable national government – our contribution of treasury and young American lives for 20 years – had to end.

Were mistakes made in some decisions? Yes. Were the strength and depth of the Taliban not recognized? Probably. Could our leaving that country – by a date previously negotiated – have been handled better? Maybe. But, for three previous administrations, there was an unwillingness to bite the bullet – to say “enough is enough” – to pull the pin and take the final action. To leave.

Somebody – a President of either national party – had to do what Biden did. And, he had to know the fallout would be great. He had to know heated criticism from the GOP – and even his own party – would rain down on his head. So did Bush-the younger, Obama and Trump. They all were faced with the same circumstances. They all knew what Biden knows. And they passed. Each one passed.

Yes, our leaving Afghanistan could probably have been handled better. Yes, maybe we had faulty intelligence that was unfortunately part of the decision. Yes, things might have been different.

But, like in poker, you have to play the hand you have. You have to act. None of us knows what facts – what intelligence – undergirded the decision to leave. Now. And, we may never know.

But, “leave” we have. The seemingly endless drain on our treasury and the lives of our young has come to an end. At least in Afghanistan.

In both Afghanistan and Viet Nam, this nation tried to introduce a form of governance that was foreign – and militarily resisted – by the locals. Democracy.

Both nations had their histories of governance long before America existed. For centuries, each experienced turmoil and efforts by some to change things. There were wars and brutality and even extreme terrorism visited upon the people.

But, in both nations, when outsiders tried to imprint their own ideas of governance, they failed. The “helpful invaders” soon became bogged down in the quagmire of endless war. Endless expense. Endless costs of human lives.

Maybe the clearest explanation I’ve heard for our failures in both Viet Nam and Afghanistan was from a late-night comedian. He likened our intervention this way. “Imagine the National Guard of Idaho going to Oregon and telling Oregonians, ‘From now on, this is how we want you to do things.’”

Oversimplified? Yes. But, just imagine.

The time for leaving Afghanistan was the moment we decided to go in. The cost in thousands of lives lost, and the thousands of lives changed forever, should have been reason enough not to venture into endless war. It should have been stopped before it began.

So, we’re out. A terribly messy exit. But, we’re out.

It had to be done. And it took a lot of heat and lost political capital to do it. But, Biden did it.

And, I’m grateful!