Vote – if you can

Author: admin

We’ve voted.

Couple of weeks ago. Mailed ballots. Except, we didn’t use the mail to return ‘em. Went to city hall polling place and dropped ‘em in the box. Just to be sure. Couple days later, receipt was acknowledged by Maricopa County. Done!

Filled out the ballots at home – when we had time – and after reading what we needed to from the voter information pamphlet. No rush. No fuss. No l-o-n-g lines. Absolutely secure. Done!

Why doesn’t every state do this?

Given what Republicans have done to suppress voting access across the country in the last few years, it’s easy to blame the whole party. Which would be wrong. In many states, the GOP has worked with Democrats to create secure voting and assured access. Democrats still think and act the same way.

But – this year, some state Republican parties have pulled out all the stops, actively working to limit access or outright steal completed ballots. California. Where the GOP put out ballot deposit boxes labeled “official.” They aren’t. Dems and some cities asked the GOP to remove ‘em. GOP said “NO.” Seems local authorities, the Dems or the state didn’t want to take legal action beyond the requests. So, the ballot-stealing boxes are still out there. Pilfering completed ballots.

We’ve seen lots of pictures of people in long lines, waiting to vote. Stories of folks waiting 10 hours – or longer – to gain access. Texas Governor ordered counties to remove all ballot collection boxes but one – one – per county! Texas has several cities of more than a million population. One with 4-million. Imagine the lines. But, worse, imagine how many people just didn’t vote because of the restriction. Again, access denied.

Other states – mostly in the Southeast – used all sorts of gimmicks to deny citizens the right to vote. Some required certain ID information many poor people don’t have for one reason or another. Two states wanted birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. Several, like Texas, reduced the number of polling places or shortened hours polls would be open. Especially in areas with a lot of Black residents. In Georgia and Florida, both Black and Hispanic communities hit hard by state restrictions. More roadblocks.

I’ve long believed – if you’ll pardon a personal opinion – that voting for the office of President should be run by the feds. One ballot used under a single process in all states.

All of us, at times, operate under one federal law. Nothing new about that. When I was a private pilot, my license was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. My military driver’s license was federal. I’ve had several federally-backed home loans. My VA benefits operate under federal law. And, there are many, many other singularly federal laws we don’t even think about. Uniform. Everywhere.

Imagine. A single presidential ballot. Used in all states and territories. All using one federal law. The same “rules-of-the-game.” Everywhere. Down-ballot, each state could go it’s own way. But, on top, a national vote under uniform rules.

I know. I know. Such thinking is that of an old guy out in the desert sun too long. But, it makes sense, damn it!

Should Democrats prevail in sweeping the Presidency and both Houses of Congress – as seems likely – the first order of business should be restoring – or even rewriting – the federal voting rights act.

Couple of years ago, SCOTUS gutted the existing law, part of which put certain requirements on states known to restrict voter access. Even forcing offending states to submit to SCOTUS oversight if a voting law was to be changed. I can’t forget Chief Justice Robert’s comments at the time SCOTUS acted. He noted past violators of the Constitutional guarantee of voting “seem to have learned their lessons” and issues of abusing voters were “things of the past.” Yeah. Sure.

So, here we are. Several years down the road. And the “offending states” -absent that old oversight – are at it again. Same states. Same old tricks. With largely the GOP erecting hurdles between citizens and their ballot boxes. Congress must act.

A few days ago, I heard a well-respected Republican leader of the past say, if the Party took a national beating up and down the ballot, it could mean the GOP would be nearly non-existent for a decade or two.

Maybe that’s what’s driving this Republican effort to keep voter and ballot apart. If it is, then congressional action should be swift, replacing safeguards to bring these underhanded activities to an immediate halt.

Here in the desert, in our “55+” world, it’s worth noting how us old folks do things a bit differently. Politically speaking. As you drive through our senior neighborhoods of some 90,000+ retirees, you’ll usually see Trump signs placed close to the sidewalks for easy viewing. Biden signs, on the other hand, are mostly placed back, near the front door. That’s because Biden signs are stolen or defaced in much larger numbers. Seems Trumpers hereabouts outnumber the Biden-backers. At least publically.

Which is odd. We have a lot of retired military living here. A lot. Most have bumper stickers or back-window indications of such. You’d think – given our President’s comments regarding the military – alive or dead as “suckers” and “losers” – that anyone who’s lived a military life would not be a DJT supporter. But, many are! Seems odd to me to see a retired “gunny” in our neighborhood still backing Trump. But, he is. Lots of others, too.

In our world these days, we seem to be under attack from many things. COVID-19 has us hunkering down. At least some of us. Climate change – maybe the single largest “attack” we face – is all around us. In some states – too many states – local governments seem to be attacking voting rights and other civic privileges.

Then, there’s our President, who’s been conducting a four-year frontal attack to destroy agencies of federal government and our faith in long-standing institutions. He’s attacked our rule-of-law, our trust in many forms of governance. He’s subverted restrictions on the Presidency to enrich himself and many of his friends. His entire term seems to have been used to attack truth, civility, trust and responsibility. He’s worked to destroy just about everything he’s touched.

Now, facing a perilous future of many lawsuits, some serious federal and state charges and doing so without the protection of high political office he’s enjoyed and used for his own benefit, he’s attacking the voting process. The constitutionally-protected franchise guaranteed to all. Sadly, we’re not likely done with a major political party attempting to block citizens from exercising that franchise.

People we elect to high office in November have a huge job ahead of them to clean up the mess. To attract good and qualified people to serve. To restore confidence and faith of the people in their own government. To undo the damages of the last four years.

It’s a big job. But, it can be done. That’s why we vote.

Change is ours to make

Author: admin

O.K., we’ve had a couple of “debates.”

The whole sorry mess has been chewed on by all media extant. Best summary of the whole sorry mess I’ve heard came from political pro, Paul Begala, who said it was “must flee TV.”

Like it or not, Trump’s still the President of these United States. The fact that he’s not a “play-by-the-rules” guy and acts/sounds like the school yard bully is because that’s what he is. He won’t change. But, there’s the dignity and importance of the office he so poorly represents. Cutting him off or arguing with him, as Savannah Guthrie did so well, may seem necessary at times, but he’s still the President.

To me, the storyline emerging so far was what wasn’t said. We’ve got about 50-million people on unemployment. There are many, many more who aren’t counted because they’ve been out of work so long. Anyone get a factual sense of what either candidate would do about the unemployed in these verbal “wrestling matches?”

How about disappearing jobs? The Census Bureau counts total jobs that have vanished since the first of the year at over 21-million. So 21-million unemployed folk have nothing to return to. Airlines, just this month, are laying off many thousands and eliminating those positions. Anyone hear either man say anything about that?

Afghanistan. I don’t recall hearing anything meaningful. We should have! Our longest war is sapping billions of dollars, killing our youth and no end in sight.

Our environment. What about it? Anything “in depth?” Any solid plans?

And a whole lot more.

In many ways, Trump’s belligerence is defining these shameful events. More than that, he’s redefining our government, our politics, our media, our economy, our markets, our very existence as a recognized democratic republic. Changed? Yes. For the better? Not!

Trump’s dominated our existence for four years by “sucking the air” out of every appearance and action. In so doing, he’s succeeded in changing the course of an entire nation. Not for the best, assuredly, but changed nonetheless.

He’s bullied, abused, badgered, threatened, lied about nearly everything. Constantly. With the able assistance of lackey Mitch McConnell, he’s moved our federal justice system to the far-right and is about to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with a nominee whose past judicial actions and personal beliefs will cause even a sharper rightward shift. Nearly all lifetime positions. (Edit note: I’d like to see term limits on federal judicial and SCOTUS appointments but that’s a story for another time.)

So, what do we do about it?

One of the forces endangering this nation is ignorance. Ignorance of what this country is, how government works, the structure of it, what it’s supposed to do, what we should expect from it, who’s responsible for its operation, where do we fit in, how do we exercise change, what do we do if it becomes unresponsive to our needs – as is the case now.

We’re bombarded daily with broadcast lies, continuing affirmation of “facts” that aren’t true. They’re spread by paid – make that “well paid” – folks who have their own agendas which may not, at times, be in the nation’s best interests.

Millions of Americans live in an alternate universe of phony “facts” – as we’ve seen with Trump – because those “facts” support what they think they know, reinforced regularly by fact-less media designed just for them. It’s become their comfort zone and whatever is different – even if based in reality – is rejected. Arguments do no good. Even real facts are useless.

This rejection of real facts has gone on for so long it’s become “institutionalized.” It’s produced a plethora of politicians who’ve injected this group ignorance into our political system, threatening our continued national existence which is – and must continue to be – based on facts. We have 13 professed QANON believers currently in Congress with more on 2020 ballots

All of that means the rest of us – those of us dealing with reality – have to continue to grow our number. We must educate ourselves – re-educate if necessary – in all phases of government and, when presented with an opportunity to do so, knock down the lies.

It can work.

Case in point. There’s a new movement among young evangelicals branching off from their elders. In many instances, that new direction is more earth and reality-based. They’re very concerned about our environment. They’ve taken up societal issues long ignored by older “believers.” If sustained, this new breed can grow and change the future direction of a religious philosophy which, in turn, can change the nation and even our politics.

There are ways – many ways – available to all of us to have an effect on what’s happening around us. We can change things that need changing. We can support what needs our support. We CAN make a difference.

Trump’s open disrespect for the duties of his high elected office, his contempt for law, his belligerence and ignorance in all things, his avoidance of rules, decorum, responsibility and personal conduct have been a national embarrassment. His “debate” antics were unsurprising. We’ve known, for some time, who he really is, how he thinks and acts.

Now, it’s time for us to act – to remove this unwanted player from the stage. We can – we must – in just two weeks.

It’s easy to hear of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s close call with a bunch of armed nuts out to kidnap or kill her and sort of say “damned shame,” put it off to the side and keep reading. But DON’T!

Let’s talk about your governor: Idaho’s Little, Washington’s Inslee, Oregon’s Brown, Montana’s Bullock, California’s Newson, Utah’s Herbert. Putting your own governor’s name in place of Whitmer’s brings the issue a little closer to home, doesn’t it?

While these cammo nutcases call themselves “militia’s,” they’re not. The media should not keep reporting them as such. A militia is defined as “an armed civilian force meant to supplement a regular military.” These neighborhood terrorists don’t “supplement” anything. They operate strictly on their own. Their activities are terrorism. Period.

A friend of mine has coined the term for these home-grown terrorists who determine their “manhood” by the caliber of their weapons: “ammosexuals.” Pretty much sums ‘em up, doesn’t it?

In the Northwest, Idaho, Oregon and Montana have become the most recent locale’s for several ammosexual groups. Western part of Ada County and North Idaho are attracting a lot of new faces. Idaho’s had these folks around for years. Mostly up North. They like to jump into their cammos, grab their “manhood,” go out in the woods, sneak around pretend “targets” and occasionally even have some real “live fire” target practice.

For the most part, “normal” Idahoans have left them alone. But, recently, these guys have started showing up in town. Armed.

The Idaho Statehouse in Boise had a brush with them a couple months ago. Two guys with semi-autos broke a locked door in the balcony above the legislative floor. Their followers pushed in behind them and stood above the Senate which was in special session. One Senator, Mark Nye (D-Pocatello) wrote afterwards that he felt uneasy trying to do Senate business with the armed – and unwanted – “visitors” above them.

And, that’s exactly what these jerks do: try to intimidate with their clothing, with weapons, with “attitude.” Intimidation is their life-blood. Putting fear in those whom they confront is their “leg up.” Makes their juices – or whatever – flow.

As the Michigan case shows, there are other ammosexuals out there and they’re dangerous. The Southern Poverty Law Center tries to keep track of all of ‘em and has a long list of locations and many of their member’s identities. The FBI, not known for frivolous public comments, calls these “militia” groups “terrorists” and puts them on the agencies “to do list.” “FBI’s Most Wanted.”

A few years ago, an illegal mining operation in Southern Oregon near Grants Pass was told to shut down by the feds. The order was given several times but digging continued. Finally the BLM decided to put more teeth in the order. But, as feds approached the property, they were met by armed folks behind berms, “guarding” the mining. BLM backed off and subsequently closed the Grants Pass office.

There have been many little skirmishes like the Grants Pass story. Incidents that, though dangerous, ended quietly with one side or the other backing off. More often than not, it was some government agency. But, as Michigan details clearly show, there really are ammosexusals out there, ready to take confrontations with law enforcement to a more dangerous level.

The time has come to take these guys more seriously at both state and federal levels. While there are many details known about their existence and local talk about their activities fills a lot of bar conversation, little has been done to crack down. The Michigan case, filled with evidence about planned kidnaping, murder, attacking the Michigan Statehouse, capturing or killing state employees, holding “trials” and blowing up state property clearly shows we’re in a new and more dangerous place.

The dangerous situation in Michigan was defused by very fine FBI undercover work. Lots of audio tapes, some video, lengthy contemporaneous notes including names, dates and places. As the announcement of the 13 arrests was made, the agent-in-charge carefully noted only enough information was used to bring indictments, indicating there’s much more evidence to be unveiled at trial.

But, states where similar groups are known to be can’t leave it all up to the feds. No federal investigative agency is staffed to be everywhere at once. And, it seems these terrorist groups are in many states that have been more or less ignoring them. As Michigan shows, they can be exposed and caged.

Within the last couple of years, a national criminal database has been built which is available to state and local law enforcement. Many of these terrorists and their affiliations are listed therein. It’s available. But, some local agencies haven’t been participating. They should. The information is there for the taking.

People who think of these crazies as just a bunch of individual “nut cases,” need to recognize the real danger represented by their existence. The I-Net is their coordinating link. They “talk” to each other, share gun and ammunition updates, talk of plans to do this-or-that. They’ve acquired more powerful automatic weaponry, become more detailed and task-oriented in their activities and think of themselves as the only “real” Americans.

We may be neighbors and our kids may go to the same schools. But, they regard the rest of us as “the enemy.” Our laws mean nothing because they have their own and they see us as “violators.” Instead of being just some local nuts having fun playing soldier, these groups are organized, many interconnected, heavily armed and living by their own ”code.” A code the rest of us don’t recognize. And, they see themselves as a sort of “government” they want to “install” to replace the one they see as defective and weak.

Eventually, there’ll be a face-off. Maybe many face-offs. The time has come to go after them. If we keep backing away, their numbers will increase and the job of rooting them out will be harder and even more deadly. These may be a “bunch of crazies.” But, they’re getting stronger, better organized and more heavily armed. Their danger to the rest of us has been proven. They’ve got to be eradicated.

The Michigan case scares the Hell out of me. It ought to scare the Hell out of all of us.

Karma’s a bitch

Author: admin

O.K.. The President has a solid case of COVID-19. He’s in the “Presidential Suite” at Walter Reed and getting far better care than anyone else on this planet. I understand. I got it.

But, fact is, he’s there by his own doing. He stayed at the bar too long and had one drink too many. For the last six months, he’s acted as if God personally assured him he was “indestructible.” God didn’t and he wasn’t.

Though his is, arguably, the worst presidency of the last hundred years – maybe 200 – I wish him no harm and a quick return to his elected duties. Same for the rest of the Trumpers on his totally ineffectual White House staff and his off-the-rails campaign offices. Good luck, folks.

As for those medical updates from Walter Reed and the White House, my feelings are the same as MSNBC anchor Brian Williams Friday evening: “We have reason to doubt any medical news coming out of this White House.”

I’ve read and listened to a few of those medical “updates” coming from Walter Reed staffers. They often raise more questions that they answer. Seems no one is going to level with us common folk.

Trump is the guy who hollered “wolf” one time too often. We’ve become numbed by the thousands and thousands of lies he’s spewed on us as well as his team of sycophants. We’re inured and look at anything stated by anyone associated with Trump as either distorted or a flat out lie. Over and over and over and over.

As millions of other Americans have survived the virus, so will Donald. He, like those millions of others, may survive but be hampered by continuing health problems for the rest of his life. Coronavirus is not something to screw around with. As he has done. As has been brought home to him in a most personal way.

We’ve all been warned of an “October surprise” in our political world. Well, we got a big one with Trump. And with a few others that couldn’t wait so they popped up in September. Like the New York Times opening some of Trump’s tax filings. And promising more. Like more women charging him with sexual assault. The total number of such filings must now be over 30 or so. Like the “debate” which showed us – at least in Trump World – watching reruns of “Jurassic Park” can be bad for your debate style.

Yep. We’ve had some doozies. And, with four weeks remaining until the in-person voting takes place, you can bet the farm there’ll be more. As for mail-in voting, its already started with millions more ballots coming.

I’m not worried about Trump padding around his taxpayer-provided naval suite. He’s got more medical staffers stumbling over themselves, the best doc’s in their respective fields and faces a bill when he checks out that you and I will pay. He’ll soon be back in the residence wing of the White House which, by the way, we also pay for. Donald’s going to be fine.

No, what worries me has nothing to do with his impending unemployment. My “thoughts and prayers” are with the millions of other Coronavirus victims – those who’ve died and those who have the disease and who are likely to find their lives changed for the worse from here on.

And with the uninsured COVID-19 sufferers who face outrageous medical bills that’ll likely force many into bankruptcy. Some will lose their homes. Many more may have no jobs to go back to. Family units and other personal relationships that existed before infection may not be there when they’re discharged. It’ll be a much different world for the millions of Americans who’ve had those worlds turned upside-down.

We’re going to see a much-changed medical system as well. COVID-19, and it’s dangerous new relatives that keep morphing, are not going away. If you listen closely to Dr. Fauci and his cohorts at CDC, they’re unable to predict an “end time” for any of these viruses. Nor can they say when – if ever – we’ll have a sufficient number of vaccines for all people for all viruses. Their statements – backed up by medical training and years of experience – have become more pointed and, often, directly contradict what comes out of the White House. To them, we’re in for a very long fight to get on top of Coronavirus.

My “thoughts and prayers” are also with children being sacrificed on the altar of education. Idaho, alone, has recorded some 600 positives among students – that we know of. How many more have to get sick or die? Across the country, we’re seeing Coronavirus testing showing positives in district after district after district. Additionally, many districts are not making cases known. Not reporting them. Why? These results aren’t just numbers. They’re lives! Children’s lives!

Check professional sports these days. At least two NFL teams have cancelled games, stopped field practices and sent coaches and players home. Major league baseball has made many changes as one player after another reports in sick. But, “by God, my kid is back in school.”

Here, in Arizona, our Trump-wannabe-governor has thrown out all restrictions just like the other Trump wannabe in Florida.. Everything’s open. Snuggle in to your favorite bistro, belly up to the bar and order away. Good times are here again! Not. We’re watching another wave of infections and deaths. Numbers are going up. More “medical” decisions made by politicians. Deadly decisions.

No, I’m not worried about “the Donald.” His run for re-election may be over but, health-wise, he’ll be home soon.

It’s all the others who’ve been sickened – or died – because of COVID-19. The ones with no access to the Walter Reed hospitals of the world. Victims of the same virus as Trump but who can’t have that kind of care. The ones who’ve died alone at home because they feared the high costs of doctors and hospitals. The ones who’ll suffer lifelong, lingering effects because they got the virus.

Unlike those millions who’ve suffered – or died – in this pandemic, Donald J. Trump, protected by the best possible environment, pushed his luck one time too many and got smacked. Unlike many of those millions of others, he loudly -and proudly – refused to take the best medical advice given to him by some of the most highly-qualified doctors in the nation.

Just a few days ago, when talking about Coronavirus, Trump said “It is what it is.” Well, so’s karma. It is what it is. And, like the virus, it doesn’t give a damn who you are.

Welcome to our world, Donald. Have a seat.

Fearful and afraid

Author: admin

I’m afraid. No, in truth, I’m scared.

Please don’t take those words – or the ones to follow – as a rant. They are not so intended.

I’m 84-years-old. Born and raised in the Northwest. I’m a Protestant – veteran of a hot war – a cancer survivor. I’ve enjoyed some successes in life and overcome my share of grief and setbacks. While life has not always been great, it’s always been good.

I’ve been involved both directly in politics and on the fringes. I’ve watched good people – and some not so good people – pass through Congress and the White House in their normal terms of elective office. Though there have been occasional bumps in the road – a war or two – one presidential resignation – some flare-ups of overheated and overrated political egos – my life has never really been directly affected. Until now.

We’ve heard our misbegotten president hint that, if he loses the November election, there may not be the usual, peaceful transfer of office from one administration to the next. I’ve listened to him repeatedly claim the election will be a fraud, “fixed,” run by Democrats, and that legitimate mail-in voting is both “illegal” and “unlawful.” They aren’t. He’s threatened to use our own government against us, tear-gassed people lawfully assembled in our streets, overseen violence by his supporters and, in ways both open and subtle, used many government buildings and other public venues for his own enrichment.

He’s seen by millions as a pariah, masquerading as “leader” of the nation. When attending a solemn, official ceremony, he’s booed and heckled by a crowd of mourners. He’s openly jeered at other public appearances. He’s been asked not to visit certain cities and states. He is, to many people, a fraud, a crook, someone whose stolen millions of dollars from government and private sector activities.

No president, in memory, has talked so openly about having more than the Constitutionally allowed two terms in office. None has told millions of his supporters he’s somehow “entitled” to a third term because, he claims, he’s “been so badly treated.” As if respect unearned has automatically been denied.

I’ve never seen so many elected members of a political party swim silently through a river of malfeasance with none openly resisting such egregious behavior by a president. The Senate’s Republicans – and the House’s 154 of the same party – have given a “pass” to a man who’s violated our Constitution, broken many of our laws and openly operated as a wrecking ball damaging government institutions and undermining public confidence and respect for governance. A “pass.”

Now he, and the heretofore silent Republican Senators, are trying to quickly shift the judicial and philosophical balance of the U.S. Supreme Court. A shift that could result in depriving 30-40 million Americans of health care. A shift that could overthrow previous black-letter law allowing women to be in charge of their own bodies and their own reproductive systems. A shift that could destroy the necessary balance of legal parity necessary to assure equality under our laws.

If that happens, and if Democrats sweep both Houses of Congress and the White House in the upcoming election, there’s already talk of adding two new members to the present nine justices to re-balance conservative-versus-liberal thought. Whether that’s the right and proper thing to do is an open question.

Then there’s the virus. COVID-19. The current president and his political minions have turned what necessarily should be a medical issue into a political one. In the process, they’ve sown confusion, lies and half-truths into millions of minds. Deliberate medical procedures, such as vaccine development and testing, have been subjected to political posturing that directly affects all of us. The virus – and how we deal with it – means life and death for the nation.

No one can say we don’t live in fear of being infected. But, because of the political lies and perversions, millions of Americans are not treating the issue as one that brings the possibility of death. They’re continuing to live as though the coronavirus doesn’t exist. It does. And their way of life threatens all of us. So do the anti-vaxxers who won’t take a medicine that could save their lives. Most of us know friends and family members who’ve died or been infected. For some victims, recovery may mean a lifetime of health problems.

Our new “normal” – whatever that turns out to be – is a long way away. The virus has us sheltering in our homes, changing our entire economy, putting some 50-million Americans out of work, changing the way we travel, eliminating congregate worship for all faiths, altering our lives in ways we haven’t fully realized. And, in truth, has changed people’s lives in all nations.

Now, researchers tell us coronavirus is morphing, becoming new stains we must identify and conquer. So, will we ever have a meaningful and effective vaccine against this menace? Or, will we continue to live our lives in fear, hiding behind our masks, maintaining our separations from family and friends as new versions of COVID-19 confront the medical world?

After a long life, normal has disappeared. The retirement to leisurely live out our last years has gone. Much of what we’ve expected – planned for – has disappeared. The confines of our home have become the new, smaller world.

So, I, and many like me, are frightened. Afraid. Yes, scared.

On one hand, the virus has made us fearful. It’s an unseen but ever-present factor in all we do. We can’t see the unseen threat to our lives. We’ve got no lasting defense. Our freedom to move about, to travel, to join together in community, to use the market places – even to worship together – all have been curtailed or denied.

On the other, we’re watching unparalleled attacks on our system of government – on the institutions created to serve our collective needs. We’re seeing an intimidated national political party cave in to the whims of a wannabe dictator by ignoring their oaths to God to “protect and defend” our Constitution. And a large population unwilling to listen to truth or educate themselves with facts.

We know much of our national security has either been gutted or ignored. We’re witnessing laws and regulations meant to protect us and our environment destroyed in the name of private economic gain. We’re watching politicians devoid of intellectual integrity become fodder for a president also devoid of both. We’re seeing an uncontrolled – and uncontrollable – president attempting to change our national political structure into something autocratic and personally controlled.

For those of us who’ve lived long lives within the familiar boundaries of citizenship, respectability, and regard for a well-coordinated national government, these are frightening times. What could happen to our beloved country in the next 120 days or so is a specter unlike any we’ve ever faced.

I don’t feel alone or isolated in my fear. And I am afraid. Very afraid.

Face it. We may eventually survive COVID-19. But, two things are certain in our future.

First, COVID will be with us from now on. No matter what eventually surfaces in the vaccine market, it’ll still be there. Just like a lot of other viruses. We’ll learn to live with it just as we have colds and other common varieties of flu. It’ll continue morphing into new strains and we’ll rely on science to keep pace. We’ll invent new security methods of keeping it at bay. But, it’s not going away.

Second, the world as we knew it only a year ago will never return. When we get through this ordeal – and we will – it’ll be a different world.

Take jobs, for example. Thousands and thousands of sales jobs are gone. And, in many cases, they’re not coming back. During our sequestration, we’ve turned to the I-Net for many of our regular needs. From new shoes to grocery shopping to health care to buying cars. It’s going to be a whole new deal.

Take cars. Carvana is one of those places where cars are bought (and sold) on the I-Net. One of their locations is a few miles from us. Currently, they’re advertising to fill about 100 job openings. Sales will be handled by a new call center. Other staff will be delivering and picking up vehicles in the designated coverage area. Fewer sales personnel, no mechanics. Fewer admin and other support folks. And fewer brick-and-mortar car dealers.

With many major retailers taking out bankruptcies or going out of business, same story. Floor salespeople, fewer or gone. Admin support staff, smaller or gone. More brick-and-mortar stores closing. Entire malls vacant or up for sale. The retail apocalypse long predicted because of e-commerce appears to have arrived.

Business-to-business jobs are disappearing because of automation. So, more sales jobs lost. Office and administrative vacancies will not be filled. In the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, jobs most likely to be replaced because of new technology were not in manufacturing, as predicted, but in office and other support positions. As companies – large and small – downsize and turn to more technology, fewer people needed. Those jobs not coming back.

Take higher ed. Look at the shift to the I-Net. At our house, Barb has students all over the world trying to get advanced degrees. Online. She teaches for two universities. Higher ed institutions are designing many more online offerings. They’re not getting as much revenue support from local and state governments, so they’re turning to the I-net. Fewer professional ed staff, fewer support staff, lower costs per-student, reduced housing costs by going electronic. We may even see mergers of institutions and some historic campuses close for good.

How about “work-from-home?” Lots of companies have found certain jobs can be done with the I-net, resulting in lower overheads. Working moms can often skip costs of babysitters while spending more time with their kids. Also, no commuting costs. For thousands of parents, it’s a “win-win.” Employers can cut spending in reduced admin costs and lower overhead with less support staff.

How about air travel and hotels? Well, don’t look for any return to as many jobs as pre-COVID. Again, I-net. More travelers using the I-Net for their meeting needs. Lots of folks who used air travel for conferences and other group meetings are doing just fine with electronic gatherings. Business travel, according to those Census Bureau folks, found pre-COVID bookings accounted for about 70% of income for airlines and hotels. Look for a post-COVID world of fewer hotel and airline jobs.

Fewer travelers. Less need for so many airplanes. Again, a few miles from us, airlines are moth-balling hundreds of planes. And there are more such locations in five other states. United will cut 17,000 jobs next month. Delta another 12,000. Other airlines? Who knows? Will United and Delta and all the others be buying new planes when they’ve got hundreds they already own that can be quickly returned to service?

So, what happens to Boeing, Airbus and other aircraft companies? And their thousands of suppliers? Job cuts in the thousands.

Non-residential construction has already taken a hit. The old I-Net, again. With nearly all sections of the economy using I-Net and other assorted electronic conveniences, less higher ed construction, less retail and mall building. In addition, fewer cleaning companies and security folks.

Look for governments – from local to the feds – not only not rehiring for already vacant positions, but continuing hiring freezes and layoffs. They, too, have adjusted to current conditions and, using the I-Net and new software, working from home will likely continue, less building space will be needed and other adjustments will reshape the future.

Our world has always evolved. As we’ve aged, we’ve adjusted to the “new” as necessary. But, COVID hit us and our environment HARD! For many of us, our world just stopped. No eating out. No movies. No sports events. No church. No social events. No large family gatherings. Just “shelter-in-place” and stay there. Restrictions on our borders and nearly no international travel. Having to sequester for months. And, a lot more.

But, outside our homes, massive changes have already happened with more to come. Lots more. Our forced adjustments to almost everything in our lives will continue. How we individually accept and adjust will say a great deal about who we are and how we’ll face the future. Who’ll survive and who won’t.

These are dangerous, threatening times. But, we’ve faced dangers before in wars, pandemics, hurricanes, etc.. We’re still here.

That’s the really good news.

Setting a bad example

Author: admin

So, now we know. Our incompetent President lied to us about COVID-19. Well, Boy Howdy! D-U-H.

The difference between those lies, and non-stop torrent of others in the last four years, is nearly 200-thousand people have died and millions of others are likely scarred for life or will have continuing health problems. Because he lied.

At the end of my life – four score plus – it grieves me to write the words “our incompetent President.” There have been 13 Presidents in my years. And not one – not one – could have been called “our incompetent President.” Some were better than others; some worse. But none could be called “incompetent.”

Or a liar. Oh, there have been lies in all those administrations. To be sure. But, nowhere near the avalanche of pure verbal B.S. we’ve experienced since 2016. Not even close. DJT is the hands-down winner!

His lying and law-breaking ways have, in my opinion, unleashed a violent strain of anger, rage, in-your-face behavior that’s been just under the surface of our society for a long time. We’ve seen occasional outbursts. But, nothing like recent events of protests, vandalism, thievery, deliberate violence and outright murder – much of it by self-proclaimed followers of Donald.

“Proud Boys,” Prayer Boys,” KKK,” “Sons of the Confederacy,” “Antifa Killers” and individuals like 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, the shooter in Kenosha, WI. All have burst into our consciousness because of their violent behavior, public militance and their attempts – often successful – to turn legitimate protests into near-riots.

Then, as if the senseless murder of two innocent Wisconsin protestors wasn’t heinous enough, the aforementioned President gave his personal support for Rittenhouse that may become the cornerstone of his trial defense.

Trump’s lies, law-breaking and occasionally putting himself above the law, can be tied to lots of things. Take that September 10th game between the Kansas City Chiefs and The Texans. At the end of opening ceremonies – and after playing the National Anthem – the field announcer called for a silent moment to honor those fighting racism in this country. The players joined arms and stood quietly. But, after about 10 seconds, the boo’s started. The boo’s. During a silent moment honoring those “fighting racism?” Yep. Did you check the MAGA hats?

In Portland. Hundreds of peaceful protestors in the streets. Suddenly, some 600 Trumpers – many armed – drove pickups and other vehicles into their midst. They sprayed chemicals on surprised marchers. They clubbed a few. And beat a few. All the while waving guns and dozens of large “Trump-Pence – 2020” flags that looked official. But, in large, red letters across the bottom of all those flags was printed “Stop the Bullshit.” Real “Trump-Pence” signs expressly printed for a law-breaking attack on innocents.

That charge had to be planned weeks before. Professional printing of those banners had to be ordered way in advance. The “Prayer Boys” were from out-of-state. Their demonstration permit was for another Oregon county about 20 miles south of Portland. Still, there they were: breaking laws, attacking innocents and doing so in the name of our President. Our President. A guy who has not discouraged such violence and who has, in fact, openly “excused” such acts. In Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Oregon and elsewhere.

Here in Arizona, we’ve got a GOP guy running for sheriff who has 38 years of service in the Maricopa department. On the surface, he looks proper and imposing in his official uniform, a large badge and military-style crewcut. But, his campaign signs are the tipoff.

Across the top, they read “Enforce our laws.” Across the middle, “Turn back the mobs.” Now, Maricopa County, which has four-million citizens – has had a few street protests. Yes, we have. A few arrests – very few – but no deliberate “mob” scenes. Fact is, the largest “mob” gathering around here was when the last Costco store opened. And the average age of that “mob” was well into the 60’s.

But, this veteran cop has taken a page from Trump and Joe Arpaio (for whom he worked many years), made up his own “facts” and prominently displays his lies on our street right-of-ways. He’ll likely lose. We already have a good sheriff.

We’ve got two GOP representatives – both Trumpers. One denies the existence of Coronavirus, saying it’s a lie created by Democrats and tells his followers to throw away their masks. The other decries immigration of any type, wants borders sealed “from sea to shining sea” and is also a virus denier. They’ll likely be re-elected.

Look at the Trump “rallies.” Listen to the crowds. Hear their chants which are often racist. Watch their demeanor. Trump’s lies at such events often have racist undertones. The crowds of Fox-watchers have refused reality and have no factual basis for refuting what he says.

And, what he says, supports their distorted view of reality. They often leave the events roused and armed with his lying speech confirming their own warped thinking. Too often, they’re angry and feel threatened by societal changes they don’t understand and are unwilling to accept. They openly distrust the very government that, in many cases, makes a monthly deposit in their bank accounts.

Been to a theater, a concert, a ball game or other large venue lately? Is crowd behavior what it was five or six years ago? Have you seen more instances of road rage? Do your kids respond properly to your family rules or are they more defiant? Do you get angry more often? Does it seem there’s more violence in the news? That’s because there really is more violence. In the news. In our streets.

We’re living in a new environment, very different from what we knew just a few years ago. COVID-19 has affected normal behavior in nearly all phases of our lives. It’s isolated us. Made us more fearful. More tentative. It’s changed the way we shop. The way we do business. The way we educate our kids. We’re wary of crowds. Relationships have been changed by the virus and, often, by more aggressive behaviors by those we come in contact with. Life is very different.

While Trump can’t be blamed for our involvement in a worldwide pandemic, he certainly can be blamed for his lies to all of us, his denial of fact, his deliberate and willful rejection of international intelligence when faced with reality. As Nero is said to have “fiddled while Rome burned,” Trump has rejected the responsibilities of his high office as he spends 10-12 hours daily watching Faux “news”

His behavior, his domination of the airwaves, his distorted view of reality, his personal support of violence and violent people, his all-consuming lies about everything – all this has permeated our lives. Even WE are different. Truth is often hard for us to find. We’ve been under constant “attack” from the top of our own government.

It’s up to each of us to “counterattack.” November third.

Good cop/bad cop

Author: admin

UP FRONT: I support law enforcement. Period.

In my media years, I spent a lot of time around cops. Even made a few friends. Assigned to hang out at the “cop shop” for several years in different cities, I learned a lot about the professional – and often personal – lives of those who make up city, county and state police agencies.

On the whole, as professionals, most were highly trained, extremely loyal (especially to each other) organized, effective and – most of the time – performing varying assignments with attention to detail.

Some emphasis has to be placed on two words in that description: “professional” and “loyal.”

Cops often have an “us-versus-them” attitude in performance of their work. Spending some years doing “ride-alongs,” getting shooting range practice, sitting in on daily shift-change briefings, being an observer of many arrests and even times of violence, it’s easy to see why a lot of cops feel that way. From their perspective, “us-versus-them” is real.

As for “loyal,” that’s real, too. In performance of day-to-day duties, being “back -ups” when other officers are in dangerous situations, learning to quickly “partner up” when they face violence with another officer they don’t know – loyalty is basic to survival. It’s basic to being a good cop.

Having said all that, there’s this. As a reporter, covering a string of arsons in a small Idaho town for several nights, I got lucky by photographing an off-duty sheriff’s deputy setting a barn on fire. The serial arsonist was a cop.

During a “ride-along,” I saw a cop shoot an unarmed drunk. I watched a detective throw a belligerent teenager up on the hood of his car and pound the kid’s head into the sheet metal until he was unconscious. I watched a cop throw an unarmed woman to the ground and kick her repeatedly until he was pulled off. By me.

There are, I’m sure, many, many other examples of poor thinking – criminal cop conduct – unnecessary violence – going too far. In other words, yes, Virginia, there are bad cops, too. And we’re seeing some of them in our nation’s streets.

Then, there’s this.

Have you watched the over-the-shoulder video of the Jacob Blake shooting? I have. Probably two-dozen times. Enough times to shake my trust in policing.

Watch it again. Closely. Blake was jammed between the open driver’s door and the side pillar. Trapped tightly. He was in the grip of two officers – two – one with his gun drawn. Blake could have had a machine gun in his car. But, crunched between the door and the car frame – in the firm grasp of two cops – he couldn’t have reached any further. So, from a distance of less than two feet, a cop put seven bullets in his back! Seven!

Watch it again. Physically trapped and in the grasp of two cops. Stopped! Then the shots. Seven!

No one can accurately guess what was in the shooter’s mind the second(s) he pulled the trigger. Maybe even he can’t remember. Not now, anyway. A subsequent review board will likely take his badge.

One of the problems with firing a bad cop is they usually go to another branch of law enforcement – in their community or somewhere else – and hire on. Two reasons for this. First, training is expensive, especially for smaller communities and that previously trained man or woman can go to work on day one. Second problem, finding men and women who have to be trained has to do with recruiting laws. The one most cited is any drug use, no matter now small. Even some pot 20 years ago. One time. Knocks out some good people.

Even with an extensive background around cops, I’ve got to admit, that Jacob Blake video turned my stomach. In cop lingo, it was not a “good shoot.” It was damned near murder – unjustified murder. A bad cop with a gun who panicked.

Then, our nation’s “chief executive” went to Kenosha, WI, to meet with the principals in the shooting. Really? He ignored the Blake family to meet with city officials and law enforcement. Yes, Virginia, there are bad presidents, too.

Thanks to one Donald J. Trump, other situations around the country that may have resulted in a few disorderly conduct arrests escalated into killings. What might have been peaceful, lawful and quiet marches have been turned into riots. Marches for this-that-or-the-other rightful grievances have attracted unidentified federal “cops” – or mercenaries – courtesy DJT. Also armed Trump supporters. Our right of peaceful assembly has been abridged – wait for it – by our President. And our Attorney General.

Anyone who thinks the hundreds of “Peaceful Prayer” invaders who showed up in downtown Portland without outside “support” isn’t paying attention. Their parade permit was for Clackamas County, not Multnomah. They were supposed to be no closer than 25 miles from downtown Portland. Did you see the foul-mouthed DJT-Pence 2020 flags flying from many of those several hundred vehicles? They didn’t just buy those at Wal-Mart. Semi-automatics, open carry, paintball guns, chemical sprayers. Some planning went into their “invasion.” And some supplying, as well.

Many months ago, Portland marches were peaceful affairs until some grifters and vandals joined in. Vandalism and thievery occurred. Apparently unable to seek out and arrest the miscreants, police presence was doubled and tripled in the faces of subsequent marchers. As the criminal activity continued, “peace-came-to-shove” and arrests of lawful marchers lit a fuse. Things got more militant and Trump – with the able assistance of his “personal” Attorney General – added some gasoline – those armed and unidentified feds – and, sure enough, things got hotter.

The escalating street problems in Portland and Kenosha – and elsewhere – are really political problems. Rather than let locals deal with locals, Trump and his minions have inserted themselves onto the scenes and have fanned smouldering ashes into full-blown fires. Now he – and only he – can be the “law and order” president who brings further federal resources to bear to restore peace. A peace he has deliberately shattered.

Bad politics and a few bad – or panicked – cops share much of the blame for problems we’re seeing in the streets. The thousands of good cops, doing their daily duties, don’t get the recognition or the notoriety. Neither do the politicians who are trying to mediate and solve problems.

But, Trump and the cop who fired the seven bullets into Jacob Blake’s back make the front pages and the 11 o’clock news.

My faith’s shaken a bit. But, the “bad guys” won’t prevail.

Not an outlier

Author: admin

Let’s be very, very certain about this. The organized, window- smashing break-in to the gallery of the Idaho House of Representatives last week by Idaho “citizens” portends more violence. Possibly in the streets. Bet on it!

I started covering the Idaho Legislature in late 1966 and did so – off and on – until 1985. During that time, I watched people protesting this-that-and-the-other politely escorted from both chambers and committee hearings for being nuisances. Politely. But, never in all that time, did I see an angry bunch of “citizens,” following a guy with a rifle, break through a Statehouse gallery door and refuse to act in accordance with House rules when asked by the Speaker of the House to be orderly or leave. Never even close!

Then, the next day in a hearing room, more shouting and refusal to leave a seating area specifically reserved for the press. More shouting, profanities, more chants of “This is our house,” more continued disruption.

As far back as the ‘60’s, we’ve watched what was, at first, a fringe “conservative” branch of Republicans in North Idaho, twist and shout their looney conspiracies and back political candidates who espoused the same craziness. Even split the GOP-North into several “real” Republican Committees. Folk in the South didn’t pay much attention.

In recent years, from Lewiston North, citizen “militias” formed. Armed groups of citizen “militias.” They play “war games” in the forests and cling to their automatic weapons while they chant many of those same old conspiracy theories.

Still, most Idahoans haven’t paid a lot of attention to the evolution in another time zone. Things in South Idaho have been a lot more “city-fied” and quiet when it’s come to saber-rattling. East Idaho – quiet but with some rural conservatism though, as far as we know, unarmed.

But, last week’s Statehouse outburst – with professional trouble-maker Ammon Bundy in the crowd – has shown it’s time to pay attention. Bundy, who’s had many run-ins with the law in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada, had to be carried out off the premises by State troopers – not once but twice. He’s since been banned from entering the Statehouse for a year.

Something else to note. The law-breakers were not just from the North. There were some Treasure Valley faces in that crowd. Quite a few. How many and how close an attachment to the armed folks up North we don’t know. But, the more militant spirit seems to have spread.

For many, many years – and not just in Idaho – most of us have just ignored the Limbaugh-loving folk. We left them alone. They left us alone. But, during those same years, Limbaugh’s voice was joined by others: Hannity, Beck, Carlson, Dobbs, Malkin, Ingraham and a dozen more. Each with a handful of “vocal” matches lighting little rightwing fires here and there. And over there.

Still, we’ve let ‘em alone. We’ve treated ‘em as a “minority” and turned our collective backs on the yammering. “Sooner or later,” we thought, “they’ll get tired of their minority status and join the rest of us.”

Well, the Idaho Statehouse rabble and the “soldier wannabees” in the North Idaho bushes aren’t going to re-adjust and join the rest of us down by the river singing “Kum-Ba-yah.” Ain’t gonna happen.

At the risk of being labeled a rabble-rouser, it seems adding Idaho’s increasingly upscale violent activities to the continued and escalating violence across the country, it’s beginning to look like we’re headed to some confrontations. Maybe many confrontations. Armed confrontations.

We’ve got growing political violence in the streets. We’ve got increasingly dangerous protests of cop-killings. Cop-killings all too common. We’ve got death threats being made against peaceful, law-abiding groups who’ve had to cancel their own community public rights out of fear. We’ve got I-net web sites, many of ‘em
linking these “militias” and threatening more armed violence against the rest of us.

The peace and enjoyment of community we used to have are being threatened by armed, vocal and dangerous people. Their numbers are growing and becoming more publically active. Their basic belief seems to be get a gun – or many guns – for self-protection and to fend off people who don’t think their way or who represent what they see as threats to the Republic. Now, they’re in our streets. Pushing against us and against authority. Seemingly anyone’s authority.

The unexpected incursion at the Idaho Statehouse last week was small on its face. But, throw in a guy at the front with a rifle, busting through a locked House door, a professional trouble-maker like Bundy in the crowd, refusal to obey decorum and orders from elected authority, the added raucous disruption of a legitimately-held legislative hearing, state police having to eject people and you’ve got a precursor of more trouble. Not less.

“See ya next year?” Quite possibly.

Sooner or later – sooner is my thought – these people and many, many others breaking our laws, making streets unsafe, challenging legal authority, destroying public property and threatening our peace and tranquility have to be stopped. Either that or we face a dangerous world of increasing lawlessness and disorder.

Was the vandalism, the incursion, the refusal to follow rules or requests of duly elected officials at your Statehouse just a one-time event? Was it a warning of louder, more violent things to come?

Or was it just an outlier?

It ain’t over

Author: admin

So, we’re living with COVID-19.

We’ve had to adjust our lives to it. Learn to live with it. Take precautions we never thought about before. And, no one is even predicting a time when it’ll all be over. Truth be told, it may be with us permanently. In one form or another.

Researchers have already found new strains and new ways Coronavirus causes permanent damage to the human body. Like nearly all viruses, it grows, morphs and takes on new characteristics. Just like the flu bug. Each year, scientists make a best guess to formulate the vaccines most of us get. Maybe they identify two dozen strains from which they have to pick the right combination for our shots. Best guess.

So, if we agree this killer virus will be here long term and, if we agree the virus keeps changing and, if we agree there does not now exist a viable vaccine to deal with it – then why the Hell are we putting kids and teachers and teacher’s aides back into classrooms? How many kids and teachers have to die before some school board of health care amateurs can say “Well now, guess that wasn’t such a good idea after all?”

Every day, we read of some university or college being hit with coronavirus outbreaks after students have returned to campus. University of North Carolina and Duke were especially bad. Presidents of both had to say a big “OOPS” and close campuses, forcing the unaffected to online learning.

People in authority from local school boards to DC politicians are calling the shots. Politically. Yes, politically! They should NOT be. Health professionals of all stripes have been raising red flags all over the place. “Not yet,” they’re saying. “Not yet! Let’s get an effective vaccine first.”

In so many places, the warnings are being overridden by local elected types. Moms, bankers, store clerks and part-time politicians. People, whose only experience with viruses may be that annual flu shot, are committing children and teachers to the confines of a classroom where effective protection is just plain damned impossible. Not to mention office staffs, custodians, food service personnel and anyone who has to visit or do business with schools.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other resident care venues have infection control people working full time. They’re constantly spraying, dusting, mopping, wiping and disinfecting the premises. Full time! Got one or two like that in your elementary or high school buildings? Somebody disinfecting the lavatories every few hours? No. No you don’t.

Coronavirus ain’t over. Idaho has been attempting to reach a lower level on the COVID scale so more businesses can open. And it’s failed. For weeks.

Europe, riding high on several weeks of improved COVID news, is having to revert to closures and making people stay home. It’s BACK! India can’t seem to make progress toward normalcy. Countries in South America saw reductions in reported cases and opened up. Now, they’re closing. More people dead.

Why can’t we learn? Why are politicians and amateurs making healthcare decisions and not the professionals – doctors- researchers – who know what the evidence is? Just because the school calender shows an opening date – a date picked far ahead of the arrival of Coronavirus – why is engraved in stone? Why can’t we learn from the tragic mistakes of others, rather than repeatedly running headlong into “the wall?”

Every nation in the world right now is in flux – working day-to-day on ever-changing information – adjusting and readjusting to the ebb and flow of the latest COVID-19 news. Waiting for that “magic vaccine.”

But, we Americans seem not to learn. The early August higher-ed openings have produced more victims of the disease and they’re shutting down. We’re seeing new reports of many COVID cases coming out of that Harley-Davidson rally in South Dakota. All over the country! Beach parties have sent hundreds to hospitals in California and Florida. Nut cases who thought themselves “invincible” and “It can’t happen to me!” Well, they weren’t. And it did.

If I had a school-age child right now, he/she would NOT be going to a classroom with 20-30 other kids. Putting a mask on an elementary child is one thing. Keeping it on – for a day or many days of classes – is quite another. Restrooms, cafeterias, crowded hallways, sweaty gyms, busses packed with 40-50 kids. Those kids? You’re expecting masks being properly worn? Really?

Next time I’ve got a serious health concern, I’ll check in with my doctor. And not someone on the school board. Mr./ Mrs. so-and-so. Not an unqualified someone who made a decision that killed a dozen kids.

Reopening American schools now is a rush to sacrifice children. And teachers. How many will get sick with life-long health problems? How many will die? In your district?

It ain’t over!