Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

Divisions are expensive

Author: admin

There was a posting on Facebook recently that caught my eye. “Remember when you could say the earth was flat and Nazis were bad and be sure everyone around you agreed?

Yes, I do remember. I remember very well. For nearly all my extended life, you could say those things and not fear anyone disagreeing. No more.

A personal story. We’ve been thinking of selling our home and buying another locally. Commission on just the purchase would be about $12,000 to the Realtor. Plus about the same amount, likely to the same Realtor, on our sale. No small potatoes there.

We called on a place we drove by, connected with an agent, didn’t care for the inside but asked him to keep us apprised of new listings on the market. For several weeks, he did.

Then, a few weeks ago, I sent him a copy of a then current “SECOND THOUGHTS,” thinking he might like to know something about his new clients. Bad idea, it seems.

In a few minutes, he emailed, telling me in no uncertain terms to immediately take him off my list because it was “obvious we didn’t see eye-to-eye.” Of course, I complied. In these following weeks, we’ve heard nothing.

Then, I got to thinking about the some $24,000 that could have just fallen in his lap with a serendipitous phone call for which he did absolutely nothing. And some mildly political comments that caused him to walk away?

I’ve seen the guy. I’ve seen how he dresses and the age of the car he drives. He could use the money. But, I’ve also heard from him of his Evangelical church of “25,000″ attendees and listened to a bit of his own political talk. Now, he’s decided my general political writings are not acceptable.

Here’s another case. I’ve a very talented friend who’s very close. He’s different from me in about any subject you choose. Nearly nothing in common. And his political views are very close to those of Vlad, the Impaler.

Yet, we talk regularly, chat about any subject that comes from our very different thinking, have disagreements, but have never come close to a social rupture. We’re good friends. With him, “the earth is round and Nazis are bad.” That’s enough to agree on. I’d hate to ever lose his friendship.

I remember eight decades of my life when those with differing views expressed them without fear of alienating me or anyone else. As I watched my parents interact with acquaintances and, later, I with my own, I found many of the “differences” in beliefs – social, material, political – were binding, not divisive. We were open. Accepting. Learning.

Too often now, that’s not the case. To our shame. To our loss. The current “with-me-or-against-me” tribalism has ruptured many friendships. And even families. It’s torn the social fabric that traditionally made us a strong country. And it’s playing pure Hell in our national governance.

Of our national media, our President says “Don’t believe what you see and don’t believe what you hear.” He’s attempting to drive a political and societal wedge to further separate us – one from the other. His relentless lying is yet a further attempt to cloud reality by sowing confusion and hatred.

Attorneys have a saying: “When the client is innocent, try the case. When the client is guilty, try the evidence.” We’re living in just such a situation. The client – Trump – is guilty. So, he’s trying the evidence, using deceit, fraud, smoke, disinformation, lying and any other known delaying tactic to confuse.

Our erstwhile Realtor is a victim of that confusion, I think, as are many others. A minority, to be sure, but many. Only in his case, it’s costing him about $24,000 cash as well.
 

Taking a knee

Author: admin

“Believe in something.
Even if it means sacrificing everything”

Those words come from Nike’s new advertising. They appear beneath a black-and-white picture of Colin Kaepernick who used to be an NFL quarterback. It’s the 30th anniversary of the company’s “Just Do It” slogan.

Kaepernick hasn’t played an NFL game since the end of 2016 when the San Francisco 49ers dropped him. No other team has given him a chance to continue his professional career.

His sin? Kneeling, in protest, during the playing of our National Anthem at the opening of football games. His purpose? To call national attention to this nation’s ongoing racial injustice and police brutality dealing with Black men. Just that simple. Just that profound.

But, nothing in professional sports, in my long lifetime, has been so disturbingly twisted and, in far too many cases, deliberately misunderstood. What Kaepernick did was for the reasons he stated. No more. No less. Period. Patriotism, as usually defined, had nothing to do with it. Or, did it? Real love of country could easily be applied.

He’s made an attention-grabbing “statement” to focus us all on a true national problem. That’s what protests are about. That’s what protestors do. Whether dangling from cables off a high bridge to protest environmental concerns, marching in the streets to demand an end to sexual harassment or sitting in at “Whites Only” lunch counters 55 years ago to demand equal rights for everyone. All of us.

Protests mean nothing if they don’t get attention. Attention and action. Few of us haven’t protested something. Something we felt was unjust, demeaning, illegal, criminal or just plain wrong. We’re a nation of protestors and, like it or not, our governing laws allow us to do so. Urge us to do so.

When Kaepernick decided to take a stand – or a knee, in this case – he said “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish, on my part, to look the other way.” Sounds reasonable. He used his success in football to try to accomplish his goal, while grabbing our national attention doing so. Also sounds smart.

But, there’s an often seemingly deliberate ignorance expressed over the kneeling business. Our egregious president weighted in with one of his infamous, ill-informed tweets: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of those NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say ‘Get that son-of-a-bitch off the field now?’” No. No, I wouldn’t.

When those kinds of words are used, the term “deliberate ignorance” is fitting. “Flag disrespect” has nothing to do with it. But, Trump’s not alone. In our little cactus-covered neighborhood, many folks are coming unglued, spewing hate and venom all over our local Facebook columns. Some are posting pictures of their burning Nike gear and bragging of how they’re “protesting” Kapernick and Nike’s stand. They do so without a touch of irony for the fact they, too, are “protesting” a perceived wrong.

Nike management knows all that. Yet, the company has staked its considerable success on a cause that management believes is just and right. We’ll see.

The NFL has, as usual, bungled what varied responses it’s made to all this. It created a “policy” forbidding kneeling. Those wishing to protest were to stay in the locker room until after playing of the Anthem. But, that was put “on hold” in July. So, there really is no “policy.”

It’s been my experience, many who protest the loudest about “disrespect of flag and country” or find other imagined “travesties” in this legitimate protest, can’t explain why such expressions have occurred. They’re too wrapped in hate and feigned “patriotism”to actually understand the issue(s).

Possibly the most “adult” response I’ve heard has come from many veterans. While some claim outrage, others have a more thoughtful – and to my mind – accurate reaction. “What he’s doing is exactly why I did three tours in Afghanistan,” said one. “To see to it he has the right to protest and that no one can take that right away.”

It’s possible to argue the form of protest Kaepernick has chosen. But, it’s impossible to dispute the reasoning. And the necessity. To a nation’s shame.

Not who but what

Author: admin

As usual, our national media folks are running around, chasing their tails again. The herd mentality permeating today’s print and broadcast practitioners is at a fever pitch as they try to find out who wrote that anonymous New York Times op-ed.

In their frenzy, nearly all are missing the real issue. It’s not WHO wrote it but WHAT was said.

For the record, I believe the writer should have identified him/herself which would have strengthened the credibility of the piece. I also think The Times should have demanded the op-ed be by-lined. As others are. Or refused publication. As others are.

Also, for the record, I believe the writer was National Intelligence Chief Dan Coates. Gut hunch. But, that’s another story for another time.

As a stand-alone piece, the op-ed seems closer to gossip than new facts. Yes, it has some juicy tidbits like keeping Trump in the dark about certain things, staff agreeing to follow an order, then ignoring it, stealing documents from Trump’s desk. All grist for the “I-told-you-so” crowd. But, without authorship ID, pretty much gossip.

The plain fact is, we already knew most of this from publication of three books on the market in recent months. My pick of them is Bob Woodward’s “FEAR” which is due out tomorrow but which has been in the headlines for the last two weeks, thanks to a broken publication release date.

Woodward, whose investigative journalism career goes back to Watergate with Carl Bernstein, is one of the best in the business. He’s a taskmaster for accuracy, probity, intimate detail and documentation. He routinely records almost all interviews and conversations, gathering supporting documents when available. I’ve never heard of a reporter more difficult to challenge than Woodward.

His book is filled with named sources, saying their pieces into a digital recorder. Several have denied saying what they said. But, it’s on his record. Woodward is not backing down. And, he won’t. The irony here is some voices quoted and documented by Woodward spoke truth then and are lying in denials now. Or, their denials are incomplete. If the op-ed is accurate, and it really was written by someone high up in the administration, someone is lying there, too, since all cabinet and senior staff have submitted their denials.

The writer of the op-ed will eventually be identified. Just as Watergate’s “Deepthroat” finally surfaced – after 35-years – the current anonymous source will be known. In a shorter time, likely, but it’ll happen. Which makes media focus more on WHO than WHAT even more ridiculous.

Three consecutive books on the “Titanic” atmosphere in our White House were written separately but resulted in a lot of overlap and repetition of the chaos. As citizens – and as voters – we know all we need to know about this dysfunctional administration. And, daily, we are slathered in new detail about our disastrous and dangerous President. With or without the op-ed, we know enough.

The media drumbeat about the Times op-ed is distracting and useless. Without attribution, there are really only two ways to look at it. One, nearly all of it simply confirms what we already know, thereby reducing its relevance. And, two, with no authorship, it’s basically gossip.

And here’s a final theory – improbable, but fun to think about. Suppose the op-ed was a “plant” by the administration to take attention off the Kavanaugh hearings. What’s happening in that Senate hearing room is the wreckage of decorum, precedent and undermining of what that hearing should really be about. But, Kavanaugh, on the U.S. Supreme Court, is thought to be a Trump-saver when push-comes-to-shove. Which is likely.

I’m just sayin’.

Taking out the trash

Author: admin

With all the garbage coming out of the West Wing theses days, you’d be forgiven if you weren’t aware of a piece of pure trash resting in a U.S. Senate committee.

It’s euphemistically called the “Restoring American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” or “RAISE.” It’s the handiwork of Tom Cotton of Arkansas, who, more than occasionally, reminds us of his racist tendencies. Only one other Senator – Purdue of Georgia – has signed on.

Here are the highlights (?) for you to decide if my word “trash” is appropriate. Should RAISE become law, it would create a point system to approve/disapprove applications for entry into the U.S.. Perfect score is 30+. If you want in and have a high-paying job waiting, that’s worth up to 13 points. If you’re close to 25-years-old – or either side of that arbitrary number – you can get 10 points which decline with the age difference. College degrees – especially in STEM – can “earn” 13 points.

If you’re coming to invest $1.35 million in the States, a maximum of 12 points. Extraordinary achievement – Nobel Prize or some such – or if you’re an Olympic athlete can get you 25 points. Speaking English gets 15 points.

So it would seem a 25-year-old English-speaking Olympian with a doctorate and a couple of million bucks would be a shoo-in. But, a high school graduate with a family of five, trying to escape death at home, would be turned away. Not enough points.

But, back to RAISE. Each year, those with the most cumulative points could apply for a green card. Those not scoring high enough could try again next year. Nearly all other employment or country-of-origin caps would be eliminated. H-1B visas – normally associated with high tech skills – India and China – and those with the most students already here – China, India, Saudi Arabia and South Korea – would likely have the most points.

There’s more. RAISE would cut green card issuance in half. It eliminates pathways for siblings and adult children of U.S. citizens and legal temporary residents to apply for permanent lawful residency status, limiting the family path to spouses and minor children. It also would end the visa diversity lottery.

Nearly all economists aware of RAISE say it’s pure trouble. They conclude such a law would likely cause the average American worker to lose wages and other gains.

Opponents say RAISE is a “nativist and xenophobic” attempt to keep out foreigners, including many who would benefit the U.S. and our economy.

It’s interesting to note nothing in RAISE mentions farm workers, a major draw for people coming for work. And, “past may be prologue” here. In 1964, a similar bill was enacted affecting farming. Conservative economist Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute wrote “Instead of hiring more American workers or raising wages, farmers turned to machines and altered crops to take account of the new dearth of workers. Instead of planting crops requiring labor-intensive harvesting or care, they planted crops requiring fewer workers.” Sort of “more potatoes and less radishes.”

Research also strongly indicates RAISE would not only negatively affect the status of millions of legal immigrants and harm the entire national economy, it would also change our entire demographic structure. Sort of like building “the wall” without building “the wall.”

Those supporting RAISE are notably anti-immigration folk. Stephen Miller – White House resident racist – and Steve Bannon – Trump’s political “Captain Destructo”- are lobbying for passage.

All of that – and more – leads me to call RAISE anti-immigrant trash. I suspect most Senators ascribe to that nomenclature since Cotton’s handiwork has languished in committee since a year ago January. He now has a second version which has attracted no other sponsors, either.

Will RAISE get to the floor for a vote? I doubt it. Too vile even for the gutless majority. But, it’s there, like a benign cancer. Now, at least you’ve heard about it.

I’m sticking with the “T” word. What say you?

Redirecting the anger

Author: admin

The time has come to stop wasting more frustrations and deep anger hating Trump in my later years. I still do. And I’d like to see his crooked, lying, arrogant ass in jail for the rest of his scheming, adulterous life.

No, that’s over. Time – probably long past time – to redirect the contempt and extreme disappointment elsewhere. To congressional Republicans. Every damned one!

Even without waiting for whatever damning report comes out of the Mueller investigation, there’s more than enough evidence already on the public record for impeachment of Trump on a half dozen charges. Bill Clinton’s hallway peccadilloes pale when compared to the lying, cheating, illegal payoffs, double-dealing, money laundering, perversions, repeated sexual philandering on a grand scale and outright contemptible actions already proven regarding Trump. Even without Mueller’s documentation.

Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and their cohorts have demonstrated a willing, deliberate, absolute failure to carry out their constitutional duties required by the oaths of office they swore to uphold. Took not once but several times.

Forget the unwarranted GOP murder of the Obama nomination of Merritt Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court. Ignore their current, outrageous plans to shove Kavanaugh through the backdoor of that same court. Forget they’re sitting on their collective butts while ignoring the guaranteed right of immigration and the wreaking of unnecessary pain and suffering on thousands of innocent people. Just ignore all the lying, perversion and continued contempt of Senate and House rules and the denial of even common courtesy to Democrats. Forget it all.

Simply focus on Congressional Republicans and the total disregard for their absolute responsibility to provide checks and balances on the other two branches of our federal government. Aside from a few ignorant “space cadets” who’ve no idea what their duties are, most members of Congress are at least professionally familiar with their job descriptions and most have heard of the U.S. Constitution.

You also know understand the problems caused by their inactions. You know because the ones quitting, or who were knocked off in primaries, are admitting as much in their comments while headed for the exits. They’ve cited inaction. They’ve openly criticized Trump and even their own Party and their “leaders.” If departing members of both houses can make such admissions on the way out, it’s obvious a good number remaining have similar feelings.

But, as a body, they’re failing their required responsibilities. They’ve let the bluster and B.S. of Trump cow them into inaction. Many, in their desire for continued employment, have become willing accomplices in his highly outrageous conduct, his dubious actions and his outright lying. He’s perverting the Presidency, making a mockery of decorum, destabilizing foreign policy and making every attempt to have agencies of his “administration” go after his “enemies.”

The question, then, becomes, what the Hell will it take for Congress to do it’s required job? How much outrage – how much shame – how many lies – how many outright illegal activities – how much prostitution of the Oval Office will be too much? What – if anything – will be “a bridge too far?”

It’s easy – and inaccurate – to say Trump bears full responsibility for his “wrecking ball” presidency. Yes, it’s his “ball.” But, Republicans in Congress have let him swing it and, at times, have given him tacit permission to do so by their inaction.

Whether there’ll be a “blue wave” in November is open to question. That’s for Democrats and their supporters to work out. But, voting Republicans – freedom-loving, constitution-caring, fiscally-responsible Republicans – need to step up when voting. They need to turn out and clean their own house – and Senate, too. Even – shudder – vote for a few Democrats. They need to put the Party on a better, more stable footing – purge it where needed – return it to the Party it used to be. Rebuild the respectability necessary if those who’ve left the GOP are ever to return “home.”

Trump’s just a symptom of the illness. The law will, take him down eventually. What’s really ailing the GOP body politic is decay, cowardice and a sickness in the current majorities in Congress. Time for Republican voters to call the doctor.

We need new rules

Author: admin

A journalist friend and I had a “conversation” on Facebook the other day. We had a small disagreement on method, but we were both working toward the same point.

Our combined comments had to do with several “social” media sites removing extreme nutcase, Alex Jones, and his otherworldly conspiracy and hate epistles from their pages. Jones has been a national social cancer and an embarrassment for years. He’s had a marginal tinfoil hat following, but many similarly inclined conspiracy buffs avoid him as “too extreme.”

My friend who, in a previous life, was a very fine reporter and writer, posited removal of Jones was a good thing, while noting other poisonous voices out there could stand a fatal dose of anonymity as well. He cited the common practice of newspapers setting guidelines for reader’s letters and how some submissions were rejected. He wondered if similar guidelines could be set by Facebook, Twitter and others.

I demurred, saying that would get into First Amendment free speech territory and muzzling speech we don’t like could be open to challenge.

Though we disagreed on what could – and couldn’t – be done, I’m know my correspondent would agree on one point. Sooner or later – hopefully sooner – a briefcase full of challenges to shut down hate voices will land on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.

I’m a 1st Amendment believer and have practiced as such for many years. Even as the ACLU has defended some entirely terrible examples, I’ve often swallowed hard and agreed with the depth and width of such protection of “free” speech.

But, “social media” and the unfettered/unedited I-Net have taken us into new territory. Too much of what’s “published” is foul, baseless, ignorant, ridiculous, misleading, deceptive and lies. Most of us have no idea who’s creating and publishing much of it. There’s ample public evidence some comes from foreign countries, some from anonymous political operatives and more from people just hellbent on seeing their hate and racist words in a public medium.

As individuals, we can “deep six” a lot of this crap. My delete key gets an active workout. But, even companies behind the various sites can’t agree on what should be banned. In the case of Jones, Facebook dropped him but Twitter hasn’t. Facebook said he violated its rules; another said he didn’t abuse theirs.

The evidence is piled high that the I-net – for all its wonders and advantages – has made it easier for haters to spread their hate, racists to rant, lies to be passed off as truth and the unscrupulous to prey on innocent folk and innocent minds.

While these denizens of destruction have always been with us, they’ve never had such direct and easy access to the rest of us – access unedited, unverified, false and even dangerous. As the Facebook et al instances prove, there really are no accepted rules – no protections – no verification.

SCOTUS is going to have to decide. Neither Congress nor the Executive Branch can do anything – make any policies – enact any laws – than wouldn’t wind up before the high court. If we wait for either to act, a lot more avoidable damage will occur.

When a sociopath in a Boise basement can construct a web page that looks exactly like the editorial pages of today’s New York Times or any other major media, we’ve got a problem. When an Alex Jones can daily preach baseless conspiracies and call for the murder of people in public office, we need a speech “delete” mechanism.

Freedom of speech and assembly form much of the base of our national liberties. The terribly high price paid by millions of Americans for more that 240 years requires they be revered and preserved.

We have twin national sicknesses of division and tribalism at the moment. Some – including other nations – are trying to use them to their own advantage, diminish our freedoms and poison national discourse. In some ways, they’re succeeding. They’re actually using some of our freedoms recklessly and dangerously for amoral and illegal ends.

SCOTUS will have to act eventually. The outcome of that decision-making likely will change our nation forever.

We all need to remember that in November when we vote. The selection of who we want making that decision is ours.

More to come

Author: admin

Last week’s “SECOND THOUGHTS” about Trump’s all-out effort to “kill the messenger,” contained these words. “If he (Trump) continues to deliberately make our national press out to be “the enemy of the people,” some sociopath will reach for a weapon.”

The day that column appeared, so did stories of a masked gunman going into a radio station in Wisconsin, firing five shots at three employees, wounding one. He got away.

It wasn’t that I was so prescient. It was just plain damned predictable. The national atmosphere has been full of “kill the messenger” and hate for the media for months. That someone would actually reach for a gun and act out the rhetoric of hatred has left some of us to wonder what took so long. Related to Trump’s dangerous words?

As I said last week, reporters and others in the media have received threats for many years. Large markets or small, if you’ve been a reporter – especially in broadcasting – you’ve probably got your own stories to tell.

But, never has the President of the United States been the constant cheer leader for taking out HIS anger on the media. It was only a matter of time before some twisted bastard took his “call to arms’ seriously. Just a few months ago, one of ‘em killed five employees of a Maryland newspaper. And, it’s an undeniable fact, threats against reporters have increased dramatically in recent weeks. Some media have even broadcast recordings of a few.

No one with any “smarts” at all can deny Trump has fostered the atmosphere where such tragedies can occur. He’s used his celebrity – if not the actual power of his office – to plant what some demented minds could construe as “orders” to defend him from purveyors of “fake news.” To undertake a “righteous mission” to prove they’re “real Americans” acting to protect their “pres-i-dent.”

Some folk have wondered why reporters cover his unending campaign rallies where such hatred is espoused. The plain fact is he’s the President of the United States. Where he goes, what he does and what he says are the public’s business and are deemed necessary to cover. For historic purposes, if nothing else. The media can’t ignore his words and actions any more than they could when Barack Obama or George Bush or other Presidents were traveling and speaking.

There are also the broadcast ratings. When reports of Trump’s outrageous behavior and words hit a new low, ratings generally go up. Which pleases advertisers, which makes money to pay for the coverage. Broadcast bosses, especially, are not going to walk away from that. Works with newspapers as well.

But, there may be a middle ground. Cover his blasphemous circuses the way you do repeated campaign appearances. A small broadcast crew could be assigned in case some honest news comes out of the event. If not, no coverage, except maybe to report the rally happened. Period. If news occurs, the networks are “covered.” We don’t have to be inundated with repeated broadcasts of the same crap, over and over.

We know what Trump is and we know how he acts and speaks. He’s dangerous. He’s reckless. He’s a chronic liar. His speech and his constant lies are reprehensible to many.

But, they also have an appeal to others – many of whom have their own “problems.” They’re more worrisome than Trump. They’re the ones liable to act on what he says and how he says it. The Wisconsin shooting could be just such an act.

Trump is trying to silence honest journalism. Truth is an anathema to him. Like an animal in a trap, he’s slowly being “brought to ground.” He knows it. Leaks from the White House staff tell of his rages. A narcissist and a compulsive liar under such pressures is a very dangerous person.

But, more dangerous still are those who follow and, in some cases, literally worship him. In the crowd hysteria – and for some long time after – Trump’s words can plant seeds and cause tragic actions.

The shooting is not over. Stay tuned.

Kill the messenger

Author: admin

One day, the certainty of judicial and/or political justice will bring down Donald Trump – in the White House or out. That you can take can take to the bank.

The public record and the political landscape are already littered with enough evidence to convict on a number of counts: conspiracy, obstruction of justice, profiteering from high elected office, etc.. Before it’s over, there could well be another charge. Inciting violence leading to personal attacks, manslaughter or even murder.

These last crimes I throw in the pot because, if he continues to deliberately make our national press out to be “the enemy of the people,” some sociopath will reach for a weapon. It’s happened often in other countries at the hands of a dictator or two and hit us domestically just a couple of months ago.

It’s been a long time since my active media years. I’m sure the danger is worse now and being in the public eye likely draws more nutcases and unwanted confrontations than it used to. But, I’ve had a few instances in which law enforcement got involved and arrests were made. Even at a family funeral, we had a threat and undercover officers.

From the mid ‘60’s until 2000, I worked in both radio and television in Boise and elsewhere. Several times over the years, direct threats were made and personal property vandalized. For a period in the ‘70’s, I had occasional rides with cops to and from work. There were also a couple of face-offs in stores with some angry folks. I know many other media types with similar experiences.

We didn’t have the I-Net then, or cell phones and other forms of instant communication. In ensuing years, and now with Trump trying to create a torch-and-pitchfork brigade, I’m sure security issues and personal dangers are much more everyday concerns for media people.

The “kill-the-messenger” effort is as old as humanity. Even the Bible has some prominent instances. None more dramatic than the case of John The Baptist. Journalists in many countries have been killed for doing their jobs. Our own recent domestic case was in Maryland this year when five staffers were shot to death.

The people shouting foul mouthings and flipping off the media at Trump rallies, have been deliberately whipped up by his lies and phony charges. Standing with equipment on raised platforms at the rear of those crowds, reporters are sitting ducks for verbal attacks. It’s quite possible, one of these days, an angry Trumper will reach up for someone, or the equipment, and we’ll have exactly what Trump wants: a physical clash to make reporters more fearful and give his followers a way to vent their frustrations. Real or imagined.

There are many bad indicators involving Trump. His constant rallies – at taxpayer expense – are little more than narcissistic “booster shots” for someone who knows the noose is tightening. His reported desire to face Special Council Robert Mueller, because he thinks he can go “mano-a-mano” and whip Mueller’s team, is another. His repeated arbitrary condemnation of treaties and long-standing mutual pacts with other countries shows his own insecurities and need to “call the shots” in all things.

His need to undermine the media – “kill the messenger” – is self-apparent. “Don’t believe what you see and hear,” he tells them. “The lying media – the failing media – the fake news media.” He seems to believe if he can turn his political “base” into a bunch of worshiping sycophants who accept only what he says and does as “truth,” he’ll survive to run again in 2020.

There is growing evidence his “base” is not as large as he and many Republicans in Congress believe. Looking at polling “internals,” you see his support is a percentage of a percentage of Republicans and nearly zero Democrats. The real hardcore “base” is something around 30% of all voters. Not insignificant but not a winning percentage, either.

In spite of his lies and bashing, the media, in my opinion, must adhere to one rule: don’t fight back and, thus, make themselves part of Trump’s “story.” Real reporters know that. But, a lot of button-pushing, bean-counting, absentee, non-professional media owners and stockholders don’t.

Trump’s will lose eventually. But, the lasting damage he’s creating in nearly everything – social, governmental and in this countries relationship with other nations – will be with us for many, many years. Where we get our information, from whom and what we believe are also becoming casualties.

Our driver-less traffic

Author: admin

Our neighborhood of 29,000 seniors is part of a cheek-by-jowl complex of three such Southwest Arizona communities. So, the total local 55+ interlocking neighborhood is about 92,000 souls. And many of us are well into the plus side.

Since no one without physical infirmities has to take written or performance tests to get a driver’s license hereabouts, the local roadways are a continual dance of off-the-track bumper cars. Good drivers must not only “drive defensively” but develop quick-as-a-rabbit reflexes.

Now, speeding along beside us on our roadways, we have an entirely new – and I believe “not-ready-for-prime time” – hazard out there. Driver-less cars. We’ve got ‘em all over the place. Chandler, Mesa, Surprise, Peoria and Phoenix.

Tech and auto companies from coast-to-coast have selected our retirement haven for a couple of reasons. Most of our arterials are three-lanes or more. And there’s a lot of ‘em.

But I think the prime reason is Arizona – at least our overheated part of it – is flat. You can stand at the city limits and see from Tuesday to Thursday. In all directions. “The Valley of the Sun” is just one big flat hotplate. While communities put up signs so you’ll know which one you’re in at the moment, they all look just about the same. Right, left and straight ahead but no hills to climb or descend.

So, Tesla, Toyota, GM, Ford, BMW and others have put their latest technology on our roads and highways. Yes, we’ve had some wrecks. And, at least one local fataliy in which the car “saw” a woman in a crosswalk and decided to ignore her. She died right there.

These companies load up their test platforms with all the latest gadgets and turn ‘em loose. Most have humans behind-the-wheel. Most. Not all.

I’ve seen a couple of these driver-less wonders in the neighborhood but most operate in smaller towns with less surrounding traffic. So far, at least in our family, so good.

But, we have something new in nearby Chandler. Walmart – yes, Walmart – is offering driver-less cars to customers for grocery shopping. Pick up the phone, set an appointment and you’ll get picked up by a new, air conditioned Chrysler Pacifica – sans driver – and taken to a Walton family outlet.

Walmart appears to have created a list of “exclusive” customers to use the service. Not sure who or on what basis such were selected. I didn’t make the cut.

This pilot program – I prefer to think of it as “pilotless” – also includes special deals on groceries as an incentive to risk your life. Walmart, apparently, pays for everything. Even hospitalization, I guess, if things don’t work as engineered.

Tom Ward is VP of “e-Commerce Operations” for the company. He says “The purpose of all this is for the Walmart folks to learn if people will accept the technology.”
We’ll see. Given the mishaps – read crashes – we hear about locally, I don’t think much of the senior set will be using the service. If any made the “exclusive” list.

The self-driving car is probably an eventuality we’re all going to live with. But, development of this species of transportation is a much larger step than the one that took us out of horse-drawn conveyances. We had to train only ourselves to use cars. This “advance” is trying to teach us we don’t have to “use” cars. They’ll do everything themselves. Maybe.

I’ve developed some notions why living in this part of the world is not entirely a blessing. Now, I can add a new one: daily living on a driver-less test track.

Cactus, sand and signs

Author: admin

Come November, we’re gonna have an election hereabouts. Just like you. Our cactus-littered landscape is hard to see, at the moment, for all the campaign signs.

We live in “Lizard Acres.” Old railroad siding sign is still there. That’s what this couple thousand acres of sand and scorpions was called until Del Webb and his minions hauled in the palm trees and developed it all. Now, we’re just one more senior-populated campus in the national Webb family.

But, I digress. We were talking elections. Ours is historically a blood red state which the Sunday pundits now call “purple.” A number of curious things have happened in the last year or two to possibly change our political color.

For one, a few miles from our home, Sen. John McCain is in his last days. But, he – or someone on his staff – is still cranking out news releases taking the GOP to task.

McCain’s impending death has brought out several GOP “candidacies.” Never heard of most of ‘em. One seeking to replace McCain is our local twice-convicted felon. His large signs on every sandy corner for miles around read “Sheriff Joe Arpaio for Senate.” Trump may have pardoned the bastard but he’s still twice-convicted and should be doing hard time. Since voters finally turned him out of one elected office, it’s doubtful he’ll go anywhere.

Then, there’s our other Senate seat. Jeff Flake has already announced his “retirement.” He’s not “retiring.” He’s quitting. Seems some internal polling a few months back showed him running a poor second to Wile Coyote. And just about anyone else. He was a political accident in the first place. But, “He’s a nice looking fellow.”

We’ve got more women running than usual. One trying for the House – Dr. Hiral Tippirenini – is worth watching. She’s a forty-something pediatrician. Very smart, good on her feet, makes a good presentation and is much more up on the issues than her competition.

Couple of others in various congressional races. All out of the legislature. The two leading have repeated problems handling previous campaign funds. Which doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. They’ll do fine.

Campaign signs everywhere. Almost none identify the candidate’s party affiliation. Generally, blue-and-white is Democrat and red-and-white Republican. But not always.

We’ve got our share of political miscreants. Legislators, mostly. One got pulled over last week for doing 97 in a 55 zone. He promptly told the cop he’d previously been doing 120 and once up to 140! Then, he told the officer he was a legislator, claimed his immunity and drove off. He’s far from being the only scofflaw under our Capitol dome.

An odd thing here. Our county population is just over four million souls. City, county and school board elections are mixed right in with state and national races. So, U.S. Senatorial gets about as much space and notice as the local councilman. Makes for far more TV ads, signs and ballot confusion. Also, a huge ballot!

Whether we’re actually living in a “purple” state is an open question. We’ve got some officeholders who ought to be replaced. At all levels. Federal, especially. Nearly all our GOP delegation has contributed generously to the absolute stalemate and Republican gutlessness in D.C.. Half are with that boneheaded “freedom caucus” bunch. Have accomplished nothing. Will accomplish nothing. “Roots in the cistern,” as an old uncle used to say.

We’ll try hard to get rid of ours. Please. You do the same. Maybe we can regain control of this out-of-control train wreck engineered by that former real estate broker. God knows, nobody else is going to do it.