Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

Falling on a sword

Author: admin

Yes, the hearings of the January 6th Committee have been riveting. Yes, the Committee seems to be making a case against the former president that could be a great study for law students wanting to be prosecutors. Yes, the witnesses and evidence are convincing. But…

Buried in the mountain for testimony and miscellany, there’s a small drama taking place. A human interest piece that’s gone largely unreported. A story of someone “falling on a sword” that will most likely end a political career.

We could be watching the end of Rep. Liz Cheney’s political days. At least in Congress.

On the other hand, we may be seeing the beginning of a new career in non-elected public life that will find her rising to new prominence.

First, the bad news. At nearly this time when she ran for re-election in 2000, Cheney was a solid eight-points behind her opponent in Wyoming’s primary season. Somehow, she overcame that and won. Barely. Fast forward to 2020, same time period, same opponent. Polling going into her primary in September polling had her behind 28-points! A death knell.

How could she fall so far? What made the difference so negative for someone from Wyoming’s premier political family? Wha hoppen? Hold that thought.

Go back about 50 or so years and look at the last days of the meteoric rise and sudden fall of Idaho’s Sen. Frank Church. Remember who beat him in the 1976 general election? A political nobody – a Republican far to Democrat Church’s right – somebody many Idahoans never heard of. Steve Symms.

Symms – with his big smile – his seeming unbounded energy – an Idahoan most people didn’t know unless they were part of the state’s Conservative wing of Gem State Republicanism. A guy they would call – post-election – the “Giant Killer” who knocked off a big, nationally known politician. Frank Church

Church – who had been highly popular – a gifted orator – a guy many called “Golden Boy – Frank Church rose to national prominence as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relation’s Committee. He oversaw the return of the Panama Canal to Panama after decades of U.S. “ownership.” He was one of very few politicians – from any country – invited to speak at the United Nations even though he was not a head-of-state. He had a highly positive national reputation. A reputation that was one of the most cited reasons for his political downfall in Idaho.

“Too big for his britches,” was not uncommon when Church’s name came up in conversations in 1976. “He’s not paying attention to those of us who sent him there,” many said. And they voted him out!

Fast-forward to 2022 in Casper, Rock Springs, Laramie, Cheyenne and other communities in the “Cowboy State.” Walk the streets, ask what people think about the job Liz Cheney’s doing in Washington and you heard many of the same quotes.

“She’s so busy going after Trump she’s not paying attention to us.” “We didn’t send her back there to be on TV every night.” And similar short-sighted – not to mention ignorant – expressions.

If you’re a member of Congress from California, New York, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Colorado or even Utah, you can most often make a national name for yourself and survive. Dianne Feinstein, John McCain, Sherrod Brown, Mo Udall and a lot more. All with national – or international – profiles and all have – or had – long political careers.

But Idaho – population 800,000 in Church’s time; Wyoming – 2020 population 581-thousand in Cheney’s – the higher you rise, the more national prominence attached to your name. So, of course, “You’re just not paying enough attention to the folks at home.”

Any politician who wants to remain in national office has an overriding necessity for filling one job. Just one. Constituency service. Be responsive – very responsive – to every call, every letter, every request for help, every complaint. Respond. Phone. Email. Snail mail. Respond to all.

But, the caveat is, even that sometimes doesn’t work. Church, for example, I can say from lengthy first-hand experience, had an excellent constituency response. Cheney, raised in the political climes of Washington, and in an influential political family, may have had the same.

Still, both were considered “too big for their britches.”

First evening of the January 6th televised hearings, Cheney was the “wheel horse.” She was given the most TV time and was second only to the Chairman allowed to ask questions.

Was her political career considered when programming was done? Was her stellar performance part of an “audition” for future prominence – whether in or out of elected office? Were the “underwater” polling numbers thought about? Was the time allotted because Dems outnumber GOP members on the Committee seven to two?

We’ll never know. But, one thing we DO know is that, going into her 2022 election, Cheney was a 28-point polling underdog, “power of incumbency” or no. That’s considered “having both hands tied behind your back”in matters political. Something that had to be weighing heavily on her personally. Or, maybe when she resisted GOP demands she not serve on the committee, she knew her fate was sealed.

Given her nearly-impossible-to-overcome deficit with the folks at home, Liz Cheney probably felt “falling on her sword” in the name of “doing what’s right” was the right – the honorable – thing to do.

Those three words – “doing what’s right” – have been heard a number of times in the hearings already. They’ll be heard more before the saga is over.

At the moment, they seem to apply mostly to Ms. Cheney. In spades!

Runoff

Author: admin

So, we’ve got this runoff in Georgia for a U.S. Senate seat. Rev. Raphael Warnock, Democrat – Herschel Walker, Republican.

Warnock, a Baptist minister with a Doctorate, is a proven commodity having served the balance of a previously expired Senate term. Walker, a Heisman Trophy winning college football player is…and it ends there.

Brutally speaking, these two names should never appear in the same sentence much less a ballot in a high stakes runoff for a major political office. Walker, a candidate who’s often shown his inability to finish a complete sentence while campaigning, has suffered more pratfalls than the late Buster Keaton in his last three pictures.

If Republicans tried diligently to find someone whose name should never appear on a ballot, they couldn’t have found a better candidate.

While the outcome of the re-match shouldn’t be close, the December 6th finish is not a foregone conclusion. Earlier this month, Walker finished about nine-tenths of a percentage point behind Warnock, forcing the second go-around under Georgia law. And that was out of nearly four-million votes cast.

“How,” you ask,” has this happened?” “How did someone so supremely unqualified get up so high on the GOP totem?”

The answer is purely political. Purely self-serving. Georgia Republicans want a senate seat so badly they handed their party banner to the next warm body through the door.

Thanks to a purely crass, also self-serving push from one D.J. Trump in the Republican Primary, that “warm body” was a former collegiate football running back with several ex-wives and numerous child support problems.

That’s it. That’s the whole deal. The Georgia GOPer’s want that seat so badly they don’t care about the ability and other qualifications of whoever’s warm ass they put in it.

So, Sen. Warnock, a man with more than adequate intellect and previous senatorial experience – who came just one-point-six-percent short of 50% plus one to win – has to gear up and do it again.

Sadly, intellect and high political acumen are no longer required abilities for participating in the U.S. Senate. Tom Cotton, John Kennedy, Bill Cassidy, Roger Wicker and half a dozen others are current examples of such.

In this space, the two preferred names – among many – who filled the higher qualifications were Frank Church and Mike Mansfield. Superb intellect and great political skill.

Georgians are going to have to do some soul-searching. They’re going to have to decide the right thing to do. They’ll have to determine if pure political gain is worth the sacrifice of quality and ability. Or, is the choice – to the State of Georgia – regardless of Party – someone else who would be a valuable commodity in the national political sphere.

From here – nearly three-thousand miles away – the answer seems obvious. Around the putting greens of Augusta or in the bustling underground of downtown Atlanta, the choice may not be so clear.

It would be well for Georgians to consider the long haul and demands of the office more than whose butt gets to sit where.

No outcome outcome

Author: admin

So. How did that ol’ midterm election work out for ya?

Did you get more winners than losers? Or, more losers than winners? Or, did the whole thing seem like a collapsed Angel Food cake going “SPLAT” on the kitchen floor? That last option was sort of the way it worked out for a lot of us. A bit up. A bit down. But, on balance, meh.

So, here we are. Seven days later. And some of the counting continues. The “cake’s” not all flat. Just yet.

Seems Joe Biden was the “big winner.” DJ Trump the “big loser.” Neither was on our ballots. At least not by name. But, if you looked carefully, there they were.

We’re told if the party that’s “in” doesn’t get shellacked in the midterms, whatever small losses there be can be considered a win. So Dems are smiling. Conversely, Repubs are trying to put on the best face while not getting the wave they expected. Some are finally even attacking ol’ Don himself.

It’s a mystery how the pollsters do their work with all the cell phones and fewer home phones. But, on balance, their numbers going into November 8th were pretty darned close. Thus, the day’s exercise of the franchise resulted in few surprises.

Except maybe at Mar-a-lago. It’s a pretty safe bet those red marks on the white walls are ketchup stains created by “The Donald.” He’s been known to do that, you know.

What the election outcome seemed to show the rest of us is that this nation continues to be split right down the middle. On everything. It seems about as truly statistically ungovernable as it can be. One anonymous wit on Facebook opined there was a “no outcome outcome.”

Not quite true, actually.

The ever-overeager Kevin McCarthy got way out ahead of his skis with promises of red waves all over the place. Didn’t materialize. And, if he actually gets the House Speakership when the counting’s done, the margin he’ll have to work with will be in single digits. Small single digits.

Then, there’s the 30-40 nutcases in the Marjorie Taylor-Green caucus that could be the “tail” that wags McCarthy’s “dog.” While that number isn’t large, those within that bumptious bunch can force some compromises in the GOP caucus. Kevin’s going to have to reckon with those way-out voices in addition to the Dems across the aisle.

Senate leadership faces much the same daunting task. Seating looks to be near a 50-50 tie again. Which is not great for legislating.

The effect of all this seems to be more stalemate. More senseless arguing and digit-pointing. Conditions extant to address the people’s needs appear not promising.

While these narrow congressional numbers are not good for making progress, they certainly do correspond to the near-universal splits in nearly every part of our society over nearly every issue. The divisions are many and seem intractable.

As Bette Davis warned, it’s going to be a “bumpy ride” out there. I don’t think there exists a single solution to all this divisiveness. What it will take to make this country “governable” again is the vast unknown.

Whatever the eventual outcome may be, it’s certain our new national “normal” won’t resemble our recent past. We’ve gone too far down this new divided highway. You can’t push the toothpaste back in the tube.

Here in our warm, comfortable “blue” Oregon, we like to think all those problems out there won’t touch us and we’ll continue to be the envy of other muddled places. But, ‘tain’t true, McGee. Our governor’s contest took a couple of days to sort out. We had a “spoiler” that got about eight-percent of the vote, making the winning margin just a point or two. That “spoiler” had a 20 year political background and, in other times, would have made a pretty good governor. But, with no hope of winning, she stayed in and muddied our electoral waters.

Bottom line is, whatever the future uncertainty because of all the current divisions, our nation will “muddle” on.

When brothers – or sisters – get into a loud disagreement, what usually settles the waters is a third party butting in which reunifies the bickering couple. They reunite against the outside interference and that usually settles the squabble.

Maybe that’s what our country needs – an outsider challenging us all. Look what happened in 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Those voices that had opposed foreign interventions died out and this nation became more united than it probably ever was.

But, let’s pray it won’t take a war to restore our unity. No, not that.

We’re at the end of election season. Alleluia!

It’s been quite an experience – this tip-toeing through a minefield of totally unqualified candidates trying to bring Trump’s crooked, self-serving politics to the state and local level. A few made it through but it remains to be seen if they did it themselves or had help. From Democrats.

The “D’s” engaged in a dangerous game of putting dollars and direct advertising for some – wait for it – nutcase Republicans. Their game was to try to set up the weakest GOPers for their candidates to run against today.

With that out-of-party-help, some dangerous Republicans have been successful. Trumpers in several states are vying for statewide offices. Now, that may tickle the political “taste buds” of some. But, the risk is a few of those idiots might pull off a victory here or there.

And, therein lies the danger of what Democrats in several states have done. Their ploy may come back to bite ‘em in the posterior.

The Trumpers – the nutcases – the loonies – whatever your favorite label – are a dangerous lot. In Arizona, for example. One such tainted guy is running for Secretary of State while (a) denying the outcome of the 2020 presidential election and (b) talking of maybe having to “make some changes in the outcome of future elections” if they prove not to his liking.

And, he’s not alone. Others with a similar lack of respect for the offices they’re seeking are making some of the same noises. Governor, Secretary of State, dog catcher or whatever. Given some political power by uninformed voters, we could have some real problems.

That’s what makes today’s national election so damned important. If there ever was a time when voters must know the players – really know – it’s now – TODAY!

Dangerous folk, these. Their goal is to change things to run the way they believe and not necessarily according to the law. That’s what makes them dangerous.

The tainted field of choices at the polls has not been so obvious in all places. Having scurried through the primary process – with or without help from the Dems – a lot of these dangerous folk have softened their speech and tried to seem more mainstream. Even “scrubbed” their websites. Therein lies the danger. If voters haven’t done their homework before making their mark, many could be fooled.

All states have had some form of voter information available. Voter guides, voter pamphlets, candidate or Secretary of State web pages – whatever they’re called where you live. All with the same goal. Helping all of us make more informed choices

Some of these Trumpers are running for the legislature, county commission, city council and other elective boards and commissions. School boards, too, if that’s on the ballot where you are.

If real justice there be, one of these days, DJT will wind up in the crossbar hotel. May take some time but, odds are it will happen. What, then, of these folks that follow his every word? Will they eventually fade away? Will they suddenly return to “normal?”

No one knows. But, if those on the ballot today are successful, they’ll already have fulfilled their mission(s).

We can’t let that happen. Our lives – the lives of all of us – depend on it.

That’s the minefield.

Whither thou?

Author: admin

“The radical left believes freedom OF religion is actually freedom FROM religion. The good news is, after four years of the Trump-Pence administration, I’m confident we have a pro-religious freedom majority on the Supreme Court. Help is on the way.”
MIKE PENCE

May come as a surprise to you – as it was to me – that more than half the Trumpian criminals who attacked the Capitol in January came from Democrat strongholds. ‘Tis true.

Political scientist Robert Pape, a guy who researches such things, found more than half came from states and counties Trump won.

Example: some arrested Trump folk came from New York State in six major city zip codes. That’s how Pape tracks ‘em. Same for Biden-won states. Guess if you live in a city that votes Democratic, your neighbor might be planning for a civil war.

Pape’s work also found arrest after arrest took place, not in your typical red state, but in deep blue Democrat states and cities. The arrested were often middle class, older and new to extreme right movements. Average age 40; nearly half business owners or used to white collar work.

Pape’s research, of course, will be viewed with the works of other students of things scholarly political, as well as the parties themselves.

The central question to such political research is this: what is the future of the Republican Party? Will it continue as is – dominated by Trump? Or, will more qualified and serious Republicans drive him out into the wilderness? Or, will those same serious Republican folk form a new party with the help of some of the growing number of independents? Guess we’ll get some answers tonight as polling results roll in.

All grist for the mill. So, let’s add some of our own grist.

Consider: Senator Romney being roundly booed by Utah GOPers at a Republican leadership meeting. Sustained booing to which Romney replied “Aren’t you embarrassed?” Given a resulting uptick in hollering, guess not. And Romney deliberately did not endorse fellow Utah Senator Lee this year.

And Republicans – both in and out of the U.S. House of Representatives – attacked Rep. Liz Cheney because she had the guts to vote to impeach DJT and serve on the January 6th Committee. What about that? Lost her seat in Congress. Republicans eating their own? Wouldn’t be the first time.

The whole damned Party is in upheaval. Lots of factors – and a whole lot of just plain determined ignorance – making things hard to figure.

Like this: Recent CNN polling found 70% – 70% – of GOP folks contacted believe Biden did NOT win the 2020 election or think he won it underhandedly. Seventy-percent! How do you reason with such appalling ignorance? How do you have a viable, meaningful political party when seven-out-of-ten of your folks refuse the results of the most audited and re-audited national election in our lifetimes?

And this: “The Great Replacement.” This is just one of the myths of Trump followers who call themselves Republicans. The idea that people of another color are going to “replace” White Americans as a majority by 2050. Many in the GOP are scared of that eventuality. Scared and angry.

Consider the unhinged “Project 1619″ law signed by Idaho’s governor. The loud, baseless rejection of substance tied to the New York Times project. But, given Trump, his followers, the entire conspiratorial hate voice B.S. and (un)social media, the “replacement” theory has taken root in Republican politics. Which adds still more fuel to the fire of hatred extant in that party today.

Trump and his minions have been pounding the theme that “cancel culture”is destroying jobs now held by White workers and that participants in Black Lives Matter protests will soon come to “burn down” houses of White Americans. This is what’s being preached currently at GOP rallies. Everywhere.

How do you reform a political party with all that B.S. flying around the room? Other scholarly research shows more Americans claiming to be “Republicans’ have more guns than Democrats and some are planning for the big “boogaloo” or civil war.

At Republican events, you often see more Trump banners than American flags. There’s mocking of anything Democrat, a steady stream of lies and bigotry from speakers and entertainers. And the audience? The audience claims to be Trumpian or Republican. Or both.

There were more Marjorie Taylor Greens, more Lauren Boeberts, more Matt Gaetzs, more Josh Hawleys on our ballots this year. Ignorant of responsibilities as members of Congress, ignorant of American history and the Constitution. Unfit to serve.

But, they represent today’s Republican Party. They’re the office holders. They’ve won the elections. They cast votes and spend our tax dollars. They often make life-or-death decisions on our behalf. They’re called upon to be “leaders.”

The question of “Whither thou, Republican Party” needs to be answered and soon. Who’s going to restructure it as a viable national political organization our country needs? Or, failing that, who’s going to build another political entity that can offer a safe place for disenchanted Republicans and independents who are seeking substance, honesty, truth and similar values?

The issue’s on the table today at polling places around the nation. What now?

The killing field

Author: admin

America is a powder keg awaiting just the right “strike of a match.”

Our President lives in a large white house surrounded by tall fencing, with armed missiles and men with machine guns. Certain members of Congress and our Supreme Court justices have bodyguards 24/7 and travel in armored vehicles. Mayors and city council Presidents in many large cities do, too. At work and at home.

Many states – including my own – have laws permitting armed citizens with no requirements for training on how to use their usually concealed-carry sidearms. Bars allow customers to linger till closing with no thought of the killer combination of alcohol and guns.

It’s commonly believed that more than half the homes in this nation have one or more guns inside. In the West, it’s likely much more than half.

Children arm themselves and kill each other so often it doesn’t always make the national news. Their classrooms are fat targets. Churches, too.

Last week’s attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband by a nutcase with a hammer was far more than just two adult men in a struggle for survival. It was a full-on testament to the undercurrent of violence in our society. In our “entertainment.” In our video games. In our streets. In our schools. In our churches. In our politics.

It was testament to our acceptance of that violence and of the obvious failure of us as a society to address and conquer it.

The plain fact is, if we don’t recognize we are a broken society in need of repair, we could lose our democracy – our republic – and succumb to the uncontrolled violence that would result.

When I was a kid, I had a paper route in a small Oregon town. A route that extended into the forest on the edge of that town. I walked that route daily and got home after dark. Now, all these years later, I would not retrace those many steps. I would not have the sense of youthful, taken-for-granted, small town “security” in doing it.

In a week, we’ll ending the angriest, most contentious and unnecessarily in-your-face political campaign I have ever witnessed. Vile threats. Angry repudiation. Taunts and personal confrontations. Debates – many debates – some where qualified candidates would not participate because of perceived dangers posed by people whose names never should have been on a printed ballot.

Some months ago, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy decided to “anoint ” himself “Speaker of the House In-Waiting.” At a public event, he mused accepting the Speaker’s gavel from Pelosi “without hitting her with it.” Rude. Crude. Contemptuous. Dangerous words.

The seemingly endless “fuel” for our society of hate and anger is everywhere. Leaders – people who obviously should know better – spout violent, verbal B.S. at will. Others who hear the dangerous words note there seems to be no backlash – no societal revulsion – so they repeat the slime and, pretty soon, we’ve adjusted – allowed ourselves to “accept” such language and the accompanying behavior.

Somehow – somewhere – someone or many “someone’s” have to lance this boil of vitriol and anger. We’ve got to end the threats – real and perceived – to the underpinnings of society.

It must STOP!. It MUST!

If we continue to accept our current national rage in nearly any venue, our freedoms will have to be defended in the streets. By us. With weapons.

Paul Pelosi faced a someone with a hammer. That attack, by someone with mental problems, is more than just the violation of one family’s zone of personal safety. More than a rupture of the comfort of someone’s home.

It was a warning that no place is safe. No place is “off limits” to someone filled with anger. There is no sanctity of safety even in the bosom of our family.

This time it was a townhouse in San Francisco. Where will it be next? Where?

A very dangerous ballot

Author: admin

We are about to cast ballots in the most important and scariest election of my four-score-plus years.

There is simply no other way to say it. While the times we live in are unsettled and confusing, the election we face in two weeks could easily be the “end times” for our democracy, depending on the results.

From top of the ballot to the bottom, the Republican Party clearly poses such a threat. Deniers of the 2020 Presidential contest are on ballots in many places. Should they be victorious, the term “free and fair” election will be just a distant memory.

And, they’re not hiding it. They’re putting their plan right in your face in ways never seen before.

Example: Kevin McCarthy – the guy who covets the Speakership of the U.S. House and who’s already rearranging the furniture in the Speaker’s suite of offices – has announced the priority agenda in the next congressional Session.

Cut Social Security. End Medicare.

What damned fool would make such a claim in the final days of a national campaign? What damned fool would scare – and piss off voters over age 65? Who the Hell would make such a brazen threat?

Speaker-wannabe McCarthy. A very dangerous and overly ambitious cretin. That’s who! He’s so damned cocksure he’ll be moving up that he has no shame. His “in-your-face” bravado is absolutely mind-blowing. And, he means it!

It used to be Republicans talked about cutting government “entitlement” programs like Medicaid or food stamps or child care. Not anymore. Not where McCarthy is concerned. He wants to go after what is literally the life blood for many seniors.

But, even if the GOP has a majority in the House, it seems doubtful he can make good on his boast. Both Social Security and Medicare are trust funds. We’ve paid into them all our working lives. They aren’t “entitlements.” We’ve all made deposits for our later years. In his grand chest-pounding, McCarthy seems to be more confused than normal. And dangerous.

But, the “mountain” he has to climb to be successful is (1) sell his entire majority caucus on the murderous effort and (2) get a Senate which may – or may not – have a Republican majority to go along and (3) get past a Presidential veto stamp.

For at least the next two years, a Democrat in the Oval Office is the backstop for anyone in this country over the age of 65 who lives paycheck-to-Social Security paycheck.

Example: the Secretary of State race in Arizona. According to current polling, Trumper Mark Finchem is going to win that contest. He was a leader in the abortive election recount of Arizona ballots from the last election. He’s repeatedly said if future voter numbers aren’t to his liking, he’ll change ‘em.

And – Arizona could wind up with a Trumper as Governor. Kari Lake and current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs are in a statistical tie. Lake is also an election denier and a Trump acolyte.

There are others who pose threats to our Republic. In Ohio, Wisconsin, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and more. All have candidates for various offices that are Trump followers or just plain unfit for service at any level. Does the name Herschel Walker ring a bell? How about J.D. Vance in Ohio or Marjorie Taylor Green in Georgia?

This election – possibly more than any other in recent times – could result in serious – and dangerous – changes in the direction of our country. The increase in far-right candidacies up and down the ballot should be a warning to us all. Most of them out there aren’t hiding their dangerous dialogue. Just like the outrageously political lusting of a McCarthy or a Finchem or a Lake.

At our house, we’ve voted. But, not before looking carefully at each race and a thorough review of the state voter guide.

We do live in dangerous times. Making careful, informed choices on your ballot can help reduce that danger.

In a long life, a person can have many memorable experiences and, for most of us, some mysteries. Questions we can’t answer but they linger in the mind.

I have one such. I could use your help.

The time was the late ‘60’s. Locale was Boise, capital city of Idaho.

A fella came to town. I don’t remember his name but he was being hustled around by local bigwigs for “selected” unsolicited interviews.

Now, I’ve always had negative feelings about such people. And of the product or person being hustled. As someone trained to be a reporter – a viewer of people and happenings – it’s always seemed to me a matter of professionalism that the reporter should be the one searching out what is – and isn’t – the news of the day.

When the aforementioned fella was brought to the radio station where I was news director, we sat in the lobby and chatted a bit about the visitor and I was asked to interview him. “Now.”

To this day – nearly 60 years on – I can’t tell you why. But, there was something about the man – and the local businessman’s intense push to get me to do an interview- that was off-putting. Both men seemed a little intense about the subject matter of the interview. I got one of those feelings you get when something just doesn’t seem right.

Not wishing to put the station and its ownership in a bad light, I took both men to a vacant studio and did a quick interview. They were soon on their way, satisfied their “story” would be broadcast on Idaho’s only 50,000 watt AM radio station.

Well, I listened to the taped conversation. Again, something just didn’t feel right. I erased the tape. It seemed – at the time and now – it was the right thing to do.

But, other media folks apparently didn’t feel the same or had more pressure applied. The guy and his subject matter were all over town and on the next day’s front page of the local bird-cage liner.

At this point, I should identify the local guy escorting the visitor around town. His name was Skip Hall. For a couple of years in the mid to late ‘60’s,’ he was head coach of the Boise State football program. During his tenure – and for a couple of decades later – the BSU Broncho’s were just another small town varsity team with a so-so record on the field.

But, Skip was a talker and a bit of a show-boater. A so-so coach who talked a good game. His style of talking was probably the reason a group of local business leaders gave him the job of promoting the out-of-town visitor. And his program.

The next day, there was a gathering at the largest meeting room in town. All the prominent local names were in attendance. All. And some not so prominent. All male.

The visitor was introduced and he, in turn, held forth for over an hour about his program. It was simple enough. With only a bit of religious overtones befitting today’s “born again” churches. There was a heavy emphasis on brotherhood and small group forming. Under a so-called “Captain.”

If a group wanted to include the Bible, that would be good. It seemed innocuous enough. Rather uplifting. But, with peer pressure. And a degree of expressed urgency.

Basic idea was to forge new friendships with like folks, get to know your neighbor or something like that. And, in fact, some small groups of men – only men – were formed. We now might call similar groupings “networking.” Of a sort.

Coach Hall held forth about the program at the drop of a hat. Although participants slowly drifted away in a couple of years, it was Skip’s constant voice that made things last as long as it did.

But, eventually, as happens with such loosely-organized endeavors, end it did. Skip got a bigger and better coaching job and left town. Local “captains” went separate ways. Or lost interest. And the program disappeared.

Or did it?

And, therein lies the mystery. For me.

You see, the visitor that came to town was pushing a program called “Oath Keepers.” Yep. The same name as the group now on trial for seditious conspiracy in Washington D.C.. “Oath Keepers.”

Today’s felonious “Oath Keepers” also believe in organizing small, local groups. Under a “Captain.” The Bible is mentioned openly in their materials. Each group conducts paramilitary exercises and stands ready to join forces as we saw on that January day. Leadership in all groups is male.

If you spend enough time scouring the I-net, you can find sources of material about “Oath Keepers” in the ‘60’s and from the ‘90’s to the present day. But, there are lapsed periods where the name doesn’t seem to exist.

So, the question is, can a straight line be drawn from the today’s seditious “Oath Keepers” to the days of Skip Hall in Boise, Idaho, and the very real pressures brought to bear on local leaders to join, sponsor and maintain a religion-based group called “Oath Keepers?”

I just don’t know. But, I’ve got that feeling. Again.

 

Herschel Walker.

The Herschel Walker story is not about the abortion – whether there was one and if so, who paid with purported receipts or whether rape was involved. The Walker story is really none of those things.

The real Herschel Walker story is how in hell someone who apparently is totally unfit, morally bankrupt, intellectually challenged ever got to be a major political party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate!

There have been many other unqualified folks nominated for various elective public jobs over the years but, to my recollection, none so much as Walker. The man cannot tie together two complete sentences on any subject. Watch him – listen to him on CSPAN, Fox or in any other forum – it’s painful to your ears. And completely nonsensical. Just gibberish.

Republicans in Georgia are relentless in their zeal to prop him up from whatever his latest public pratfall. And there’ve been dozens. They’re working overtime to tell reporters Walker didn’t mean what they just heard him say – buying up all the advertising space they can to paint some flattering-but-unreal images of a guy who couldn’t be flattering under any condition.

The GOP is stuck with the most outrageously, demonstrably wrong and totally dim-witted candidate since – since – well, since the first public election for anything.

While Walker may be all those things and more, it’s not his fault he’s under the bright lights of media and public scrutiny. Rather, he’s the result of right-wing inbreeding in a political party that’s been closed to honest intellectualism, deep thought about any subject and which has repeatedly rejected anyone not adhering to political thinking just to the right of Attila The Hun.

In short, Walker – with the blessing of one D. Trump – is the one Georgia Republicans “brung to the dance” and they’re stuck with him.

Republicans have done this to themselves. Any attempt, post-election, by that Party to downplay what happened if Walker loses will be just so much B.S.. They created his candidacy – they and they alone.

But, here’s what’s truly outrageous in the Walker story. Nearly all polling – nearly ALL – shows Walker and Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock tied or within the margin of error. It’s astounding that Walker, and what he represents as the future of Georgian Republicanism, could be perceived to be the political – much less moral – equal of Warnock.

Warnock is the polar opposite or all things Walker. He’s a man of God with no stories of abortions, payoffs or other hidden behaviors. He’s an intellectual. He’s articulate in both public and private settings. He got through college with no athletic scholarship.

I mean, c’mon here. We’re talking apples and oranges.

The Walker candidacy is, by no means, the only one of significant unsuitability. There are others. Many others. Legislative, statewide offices, dog catcher, etc.. Like Walker, many reflect what has become of the close-minded, far-right side of Republicanism.

In several states, candidates for Secretary of State openings are election-deniers of our last national free-for-all in 2020. And, winners of those SoS contests will be the vote counters of the 2024 election. The likely next governor of Arizona also rejects the official outcome of our last presidential election. And she ain’t alone!

It’s taken about 65 years for local John Birth Societies, Liberty Lobbyists and other splinter, far-right groups to extend their grasp of Republican machinery to the national party. They’ve been in the trenches, doing the grunt work and pushing, pushing, pushing Party regulars to the sidelines all this time. And now, the GOP is theirs.

Their dominance won’t end with our next election. Or, the next. It will take far longer for those of responsible Republican thought to wrest back control. It’ll be a tough slog for awhile. The extent of the far-right culture is top-to-bottom in a lot of places. It took many years – and many elections – for that control to change hands. So, it will take many subsequent years – and many subsequent elections – to get things back to some moderation.

We need that to happen. Call it a “purge,” if you will. A healthy, viable, responsible Republican Party is needed by all of us. We’ve lost the honest pull-and-tug of ideas in our political marketplace. We’ve allowed ourselves to be splintered by the “my-way-or-the-highway” politics of what the GOP has become.

I’m sure there are Republicans in Georgia for whom a Herschel Walker Senate candidacy is an embarrassment. There have to be. And those of similar GOP “Herschels” in other races in other states, up and down the ballot.

It’s up to those Republicans – in Georgia and elsewhere – to take back control. If they’re not successful, the likes of a Herschel Walker will have to be referred to as “Senator Walker” in the future.

What about them

Author: admin

Over the past few days, I’ve made several attempts to write a column for this space dealing with Hurricane Ian’s romp across mid-Florida.

Watching the news coverage, I’m literally left powerless when trying to create a word picture dealing with what happened. It’s just not possible.

So, let these few words be the last attempt.

I’ve a friend who visits Sanibel Island several times a year. He said simply“There’s nothing left.” A recent news story said the island would not be habitable for a year. No infrastructure. “Nothing left.”

Checking with another friend who lives in the Fort Meyers region, I was told Ian left major damage in and around Fort Meyers but, he only lost a few shingles and a bit of siding. Close call. Much more fortunate than those thousands who have nothing left.

For those of us living in hurricane-free places, it’s easy to close the books on Ian and go about our normal business. But, what about them? What about the thousands who have nothing to go back to? Nothing left. Just dirt. Just water.

Some reporter reminded us of the homeless on Central Florida’s coast. What about them? No facilities. No place for a meal and none of the usual volunteers who – instead of serving lunches – have their hands full just finding shelter and meals for their own families.

These tidbits could go on and on. But, the real point of any attempt to describe the Florida story always comes back to the same place: nothing left. Nothing.

If you or I haven’t come home to an empty lot – tried to find that lot where there are no road signs or landmarks – been forbidden to go home by local law enforcement – can’t find our friends or, in even worse cases, some of our family – been told there’s nothing left to go home to – well, it’s impossible for us to feel the depths of loss now the constant companion of so many Floridians.

For thousands, no home, no place of work, no neighborhood, no car, no boat, no docks, no shopping center – nothing.

Adding to the mountain of loss, many homes and businesses were not covered by flood or hurricane insurance. Now, some have 20 years or so left on a mortgage and the secured property is gone. Just gone.

Ian came. And, Ian left. But, thousands of lives will never be the same.

In our neighborhood, we don’t have hurricanes. We don’t have tsunami’s. We don’t have the risk of massive, Florida-style flooding. Or, winds measured by the hundreds of mile-per-hour.

It’s not possible for us to feel what they feel. We – unlike them – are insulated from the likes of Ian. We watch the TV, turn it off and go to bed. A safe, warm bed. And, we’ll wake up in the morning, padding around the house while the coffee brews.

What about them?