Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

You can almost smell it

Author: admin

There’s a whiff of something in the air. Just a whiff. Not fully smoke yet. Just a whiff.

(NOTE: For purposes of this column, the term “progressive” is used to convey someone (or more than one someone’s) open to change, willing to accept new ideas/concepts and is generally someone on the positive side of things. But, not necessarily a Democrat.)

Now, back to “whiffing.”

Watching elections from school boards to governorships across the country, in recent weeks, there’s a whiff of change in the air. Not monumental. Not sweeping. Just a whiff.

Progressives appear to be slowly coming back into favor with voters.
In our little Oregon burg, for example, last week’s school board elections saw all local incumbents – progressives in nature – returned for new terms. In a county usually described as “conservative” politically. Similar outcomes in elections in other Oregon locales.

Higher up the political food chain, voters in Jacksonville, FL, elected a woman in the mayoralty race. A registered Democrat. First woman in history. First Dem in a long, long time. Ousted a Republican incumbent.

While hopeful, there’s not enough evidence yet to indicate a trend. But, it’s – well – hopeful. Just a whiff.

Our little school board contest, for example. Yep. The “good guys” won – the more “progressives.” The slate of “bad guys” was defeated. Challengers appeared to have some outside dollars behind them. Professional advertising and full color campaign materials.

Considerable spending. But, to no avail. Turns out voters weren’t “buying” what the three were “selling.”

If you’ve been paying attention nationally, over the last several months, progressives have been getting their noses under the right wing’s tent. Just a bit. Here and there.

Those of us with gray hair – and long memories – harken back to the early to mid-fifties. Conservatism was in the air. Republicans were “in the saddle” most places and – while rejecting Barry Goldwater for President – the GOP was pretty much in charge.

Then, something happened. At a time when the ship-of-state was listing to the right, a guy named John Kennedy arrived on the scene. In fact, a whole bunch of Kennedys were making news.

And, with them, the nation began tilting to port. (Left, for you landlubbers.)

Things loosened considerably. Make that, a whole lot! The 60’s were upon us. Woodstock, “joints,” “free” love and tie-died shirts. Hippies were making news. And, America was having a real good time. Voters were saying, “Barry who?”

The nation we call our “homeland” has always tipped this way and that. Over the long haul, our progress has usually been more “steady-by-jerks” than smooth sailing. From our revolutionary beginnings to the 21st Century, we’ve always been shifting.

In our politics, we’ve slid from John-Birch-right to the Obama-left. And, back again. But always, over the long haul, we’ve rejected most national extremes, to find more comfort in the middle.

Now, elective offices in our country are under attack from the far right. At the moment, having given up on taking control of the nation from the top down, the hard right is trying to make inroads from the bottom up. They’re attempting to get a foothold locally to begin a political climb to power.

But, it’s not working in a lot of places.

Take Southwest Idaho, for example. Meridian-Caldwell-Nampa. From the western outskirts of Boise to the Oregon line, it’s very conservative country. Very.

But, in those same communities, local governance is a lot more progressive than you might think. Conservative to progressive-lite more aptly describes the local office-holders rather than Republican or Democrat. While there are hard-right folks in some slots, there’s also a progressive or two. Maybe even three or more.

As I said, it’s a “whiff” at the moment. Not real “smoke.” But, something’s afoot.

Keep your nose in the air. And, as Radar used to say, “Wait for it.”

Verbal overkill

Author: admin

The nearly universal condemnation of CNN for allowing Donald Trump more than an hour of prime time to spew his oft-repeated lies is well-deserved.

Criticism ranged from “an evening of B.S.” to “Fox Lite.”

Just because the guy who’s been a most-vocal critic of your network now wants to talk to you doesn’t mean it’s necessary to broadcast the verbal slime for which he’s so well-known.

What possessed the “powers-that-be” at CNN to give unfettered license to flood their network with a torrent of lies we’ll never know.  Ratings?  Sponsorships?

Then – offering a fig leaf of an apology – the despicable mess was followed the next day with Anderson Cooper being sent out with a meaningless mea culpa and an impossible attempt to explain a bad decision.

A professional co-hort of mine – now reporting from that great newsroom in the sky – often reminded me “It’s not the reporter’s job to judge the veracity of the interviewee.  That’s up to your audience.”

Under normal conditions in a normal interview, that’s all well and good.  But, that co-hort never faced an interviewee like DJT.

One thing is certain.  Those of us who watch CNN will never look at the network the same way.  Founder Ted Turner envisioned his creation as a straight-up journalistic broadcasting company with no underlying message – unlike his competitors.  The evening with Trump earned CNN the brickbats has received.  It also betrayed Turner’s goals.

In general terms, there’s a large whiff of distrust and anger in the unending criticism directed at nearly all media these days.  Much of such anger is well-founded.  CNN’s escapade with Trump just added fuel to that argument.

The CNN venture only served one purpose as far as Trump is concerned: his love and lust for publicity.  Good, bad or sideways.  He doesn’t seem to care.  Just get his disgusting mug on the tube.

I don’t know why that guy isn’t wearing an orange jumpsuit in someone’s crossbar hotel.  His culpability in one crime or another is well-known.  So far, his less-than-honest conduct has resulted in him simply writing sizeable checks.  Surely some of the current legal activity will result in his presence in one or more courtrooms on criminal charges.  In courtrooms where writing a check won’t do.

National media would be well-advised at this time to stop putting this guy on the front page or on the nightly news.  If the rumors emanating from Georgia to New York City to New York State that indictments are coming, keeping him out of the spotlight is even more important.  To us as consumers.  To Trump as the star.

The CNN outing must have been watched by some of those prosecutors.  Watched and recorded.  Recorded for use as some of those legal eagles are building their various cases for prosecution.

Trump is his own worst enemy.   He suffers from verbal diarrhea in the first degree.  It’s apparent some of the things he says – often words volunteered – are self-incriminating.

The $5-million verdict in the E. Jean Carroll case came after her legal team played a video of Trump running off at the mouth in what is described as the “Access Hollywood” tape.  The one in which he said “You grab ’em by the p – – – y.”

In the long run, the corporate team at CNN did themselves no favor by letting a relative lightweight reporter be run over by DJT.  By giving him a platform.  By dousing the viewing audience in verbal doses of lies, upon lies, upon lies.  The young reporter was outgunned from the git-go.

The national media seems unable to deal with Trump from any position of control.  He’s simply given a microphone and everyone stands back.

At our house, the mute button on the remote control is getting a lot more use recently.  A lot.  CNN would have been well-advised to do the same.



Author: admin

America was attacked by Japan on December 7, 1941.  Just 32 hours later, President Franklin Roosevelt and Congress declared war in response.

The nation became instantly focused on the business of war.  Industry turned on a dime and began producing armaments of all descriptions. Commerce quickly set up a war footing and became part of the massive effort.  Young men and women signed up for military duty.  Civilians of all stripes were either in uniform or became part of the campaign in hundreds of ways at home.

It was war!  Two, actually.  We won.  Both.

We are now under attack again.  For those who are repulsed and sickened by the massacres flowing from guns in this country, we are at war again!  War!

This is not something politicians can solve with new laws.  Even if they had the backbone to write ’em.  We’ve already got more laws dealing with guns than we can prosecute.  Laws aren’t the answer.

Think about Sandy Hook.  El Paso.  Dayton.  Las Vegas.  Orlando.  Parkland.  Columbine.  Allan, Texas.  Do you think for a second that the shooters in all these massacres loaded their long guns, stopped at the door and thought about laws they were about to break?  Were any of them stopped by legislation?

Banning violent video games – ala Walmart – isn’t the answer.  All developed nations on earth have violent video games.  Are they having as many massacres per capita as us?  Any?

Psychiatric or mental treatment won’t stop the shooting.  As far as we know, only one shooter in all the tragedies listed above had any contact with mental health professionals – Sandy Hook.  Medical professionals can’t find ’em all before they kill.

We are at war!  None of these “answers” being proffered can stop the killing and, taken together, they’ll still fail. In wars, there’s the battlefield and there’s the home front.  Not now.  We are currently living on the battlefield.  Schools, hospitals, churches, mosques, temples, concerts, nightclubs, streets, stores.  Where we live, shop, play, worship.  We’re living on the battlefield.

It’s the guns, damn it.  It’s the guns.  You got unlimited and free access to guns?  You got killers.

In our state, when arrested for DUI, the state takes the car.  Period.  That takes care of that.  One by one.  Separate the driver from the car.

When someone is convicted of a crime while on drugs, our state – and many others – not only lock ’em up but also enters them into a program to separate ’em from drugs.  Separate.

But, also in our state, sorry to say, we have open carry laws.  More than that, you can carry concealed without any classes, no permit, no training.  You can carry in stores, libraries, restaurants, churches and bars.  Now, there’s a great idea.  Bullets and booze.  What could go wrong?  It’s the guns, damn it!

We have a war on our hands.  Nothing short of it.  All these damned piecemeal approaches will not work if, somewhere out there in this nation of 330-million souls, there are hundreds or even many hundreds of people with mass murder on their minds.  They can’t be found before they kill.  They don’t wear tags.  They all look like the rest of us.  There’s absolutely no way to cut ’em all out of the herd before they act.

Politicians don’t have the guts to take on the NRA.  But, that’s one piece of the larger puzzle that has to be solved.  The NRA is a cancer on our society that’s paid out more than $24-million bucks to members of Congress in the last decade.  It’s bought them and it’s bought their silence and inaction.  We’re currently successfully bankrupting some hate groups by getting large, court-ordered civil damages for their wrongdoing.  It’s time the NRA paid up.  Seems New York State A.G. is working on that.

If we’re to stop the killing – stop the massacres – stop the killers – we have to look at this as a war.  Nothing less.  It requires us to temporarily turn from other issues  and concentrate every resource we own directly on this one murderous problem.  We have to go back to December, 1941, and put this nation on a war footing.  Focus directly on who’s killing us and stop it.  Nothing less will end the tragedies that have cost so many innocent lives.

I don’t know all the answers, if answers there be.  But, I do know this nation (1941-1945) waged massive wars on two fronts and won both.  We dedicated ourselves to a single purpose – winning – and we did.  If we could stop ’em “over there,” we can damn-well stop ’em here.  America can still walk and chew gum at the same time.

We’ve got the money, the brains, the technology.  But, so far, we’ve lacked the will to take this head-on.  We’re at war.  Our streets and homes have become the battlefield.  We are living in the midst of the killing.  We are safe nowhere.

If that’s not war, what the hell is it?

Where are the rules

Author: admin

When I was just a young pup – a long, L-O-N-G – time ago, there were community and other assorted standards you could believe in.

Rock solid.  Steady.  Never changing.  You could count on ‘ em being just what they were and what they stood for.

Banks.  Insurance companies.  Certain retailers like J.C. Penney, Sears-Roebuck and Co., Woolworth’s and “Monkey” Ward.  Our Congress in Washington.  They were what they said and they were to be trusted.

And, the courts.  Whether the local magistrate or the U.S. Supreme Court.  These were the standards of trust, honesty and law that were held out to you as people and institutions that would last forever.

So, I was taught.  So were you.

Now, 60 or 70 years later, here we are.  Most of those retailers are long gone.  Congress is filled with politicians more concerned with keeping their place at the public trough than representing constituents.  And the courts?  What the Hell happened?

Look at banks.  Feeding dollars into investor pockets while those same banks are going under – being driven into insolvency by the same people.  The real pain, of course, is being felt by depositors who likely will never see any sizeable recapture.

We’ve got SCOTUS justices “on-the-take.”  Worldwide travel and “free” vacations in far-off places.  Real estate deals putting money in their pockets with not a word to the public.  The wife of one receiving  over $10-million in attorney “headhunting” fees.  With some of the “recruited” having much business before the court.

Much of this hush-hush SCOTUS business is because there is no defined code of conduct or other public requirement for such conduct or honest reporting of the activities of Justices.  Nearly all other jurists in all other courts have ’em.  Not SCOTUS.

But, suppose there was an effort by Congress to create restrictions and reporting responsibilities for the court.  Creating written rules for openness and transparency by those nine members.

The present Congress writing rules for honesty by others?  Congress being the author of rules for transparency and conduct?  Congress?  Our Congress?

Surely, you jest, Sir.

If not Congress to set the guidelines, then whom?  Who would we turn to for such an arduous task?

There may be one body that could be charged with such an undertaking.  The National Bar Association.  Possibly a “blue ribbon” committee composed of senior members, some jurists from lower courts and maybe a couple of folks from Congress with law backgrounds.  Possibly.

But, what do we do with the less-than-honest SCOTUS characters we’ve got?  Neil Gorsuch and his million-dollar-plus real estate dealings.  The wife of another who’s made over $10-million “headhunting” in the legal field.  And Thomas.  And his wife.

Clarence’s unreported activities – and in some areas questionable activities – are being disclosed nearly every day.  Like peeling an onion.  Just a bit more disclosure by investigative reporters as they dig around in banking, travel and real estate records.

Truly, Thomas is being shown to be someone who needs a code of conduct.  Rules.  Written rules enforced by others, either on the bench or in the legal business.   Or, just in the “honesty” business.

I keep wondering, given all the details of how Thomas has wallowed in free gifts so far, how much more is there to uncover?

The institutions we were raised to trust don’t seem all that trustworthy, do they?  Like monumental buildings of success built on foundations of sand.

There’s not much we public can do about banks and insurance companies failing.  Their operations are private. Without more strictures, placed on them by those who make up their membership, more will succumb to bad actors.

But, courts are public.  Maybe our most important edifices of public trust and honor.  Transparency and openness are absolute requirements in their conduct of our affairs in the legal system.

Without those qualities – without absolutely honest conduct by the occupants of our court system – you get a Clarence Thomas.  A man who seems to enjoy living lavishly with the cost being picked up by others.  Others who, someday, may have business before the court on which Justice Thomas sits.  With no requirement for his recusal.

Maybe if we did away with lifetime appointments.  Maybe if we developed codes of conduct with tough, legal teeth to put some “bite” in ’em.  Maybe if we required annual reporting of the previous year’s activities – both public and private.

Thomas – and a couple of others on that same exalted bench – apparently can’t be trusted to conduct themselves in accordance with what should be expected by their appointments.

We need some rules.  Some legal requirements for transparent conduct.  And we need ’em now!

We have several guns at our house.

Two – a .38 pistol and a .22 pistol. I inherited when my father died. Never have fired either one. Both are unloaded and the bullets – if we still have them – are someplace in the house.

The third firearm is a 12-gauge I bought when we were traveling in RV’s for several years. Haven’t fired it either and am not sure where the shells are. If we have any.

That’s how it is with us. Firearms just aren’t all that important. If someone broke in and I wanted to “defend-life-and-homestead,” that defense would have to start with a search for both weapon and ammunition. It’d take awhile to get ’em together. An interloper would obviously have to be very patient.

We live in a 55+ community with homes on narrow lots very close to each other. On one side of our “homestead,” there’s a family with two boys. They were “grand-fathered” in when the 55+ was added.

One of the boys is about eight. He spends a lot of time, kicking a soccer ball around his small yard. Occasionally, he overdoes it and the ball ends up in our yard.

When he comes to the door to ask if he can retrieve his errant ball, I’ve never had the urge to shoot him. Not once.

His older brother – a teen – occasionally walks through our small front yard as he goes from bus stop to home. I’ve never been overcome with a feeling he needs to be killed for stepping on our grass. Not once.

Besides, by the time I got the weapon and the ammo together in the same place, he’d be halfway through an after-school video. I’d have to go over to his house, ring the bell and ask him to come back into our yard. Just too much effort expended on my part.

Guy living on the other side of us is a 55+ neighbor who occasionally has overnight female company. So, we have a strange car parked in front of our house every so often. I haven’t thought of shooting out the windows or lying-in-wait to kill the owner. Just never occurred to me I had to “protect” our property because of his love life.
Such stories have been in the news lately. Involving people for whom firearms have a greater “importance” in life. People with firearms shooting others for small “violations” of personal space. Like turning around in a stranger’s driveway . People to whom guns and ammunition have a higher level of importance than their neighbor’s lives. People who have not given much thought to Rodney King’s plea “…Can’t we all just get along?”

Guns in the hands of apparently unbalanced – or socially impaired – individuals are all over our news these days. Kids killed. Old folks killed. Teens at a “Sweet 16” birthday party where four are shot to death and 34 – THIRTY-FOUR – are wounded!

Scribes and critics say our nation is “scared,” “frightened.” Of what?
Of whom?

Violence with firearms, fitting the official description of “mass shootings” now occurs in our country about once a week. That means at least three or more people died, mostly for no reason other than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Killed. Violently.

What the Hell is going on?

No country in the world – countries with people and guns – has the mass-killing numbers of the good ol’ US-of-A. You can stack up the next eight country’s statistics for mass-murder against ours and still not be close. What the Hell is it with us?

And there’s this.

One of the things that scares me most about our current trend of guns and violence against our fellow beings is, when there is an unwanted trend in anything, the pendulum always swings back. And it almost always goes too far in the other direction.

What is “the other direction” when it comes to killing people? Could it be a judicial crackdown of extreme sentencing of offenders? A government-backed effort to confiscate firearms while ignoring the reach of the Second Amendment? How will the country “self-correct” to whatever we call “normal?” When?

Many states now allow “concealed carry” without a license or a whit of firearms training. How many folks carry a gun in the car when traveling? Just tuck a pistol under the front seat. How many folks have a shotgun behind the front door at home? Which lady at the bar is “carrying?”

We live in a time of having to be careful in our daily outings. Whether to church, shopping, banking, schools or just being somewhere in a public setting. We need to be careful at all times.

Now, when at the grocery store, I keep in mind where I would hide if gunfire broke out in the vegetable area. I actually think about it and look for that safe place. If there is one.

And, God, I hate myself for doing that!

One of the best things about the aging process is it brings a much improved perspective about life and other things we lacked when we were younger.

At our house, over the last several years, we’ve been dealing with some health issues not uncommon when you grow more rings on your trunk. So far, we’ve won more battles than we’ve lost.

At eight decades plus six, having dealt with issues that could’ve ended life, it’s not uncommon to reflect on where you are and how you got there. Long memory can make small things that happened many years ago seem more important than you realized back then. Conversely, it can make things that happened 70 years ago, which seemed life-ending at the time, hard to remember. Ah, teenage angst.

Recently, long memory and tradition combined to cause me some of that angst with what passes for “informed media” these days. We live in the Portland “metro area.” Half a dozen TV stations, 14+ radio and several newspapers online.

But news? NEWS?

A year ago last December 7th, we were living in the Phoenix area with many more media outlets. Not a word about the 81st year commemoration of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Not one word! And, in that media market, there’s a very large military base and many thousands of retired military.

Before that disappointing ignorance of our national history, there was another. November 23, 1963. The day John Kennedy was assassinated. Not a word. Not one word!

Now, I admit, to the child practitioners of what passes for media these days, both events were likely “ancient history.” Things learned about in their teens along with the Civil War and Viet Nam. Just something “back there.”

Well, the difference is there are still a lot of us old folk around who lived through Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination. We remember where we were, who we were with and how shocked we were at those times. The killing of nearly three-thousand military and civilians on a single Hawaiian Sunday morning and the murder of a president are indelibly preserved in the minds of millions of us. They’re not “back there.” Their details are not “ancient history.” Each incident still evokes sadness and anger. Neither has been relegated to remote, dusty files. Not for us.

One of the failures of today’s simplistic journalism is the rabid desire for the new, the different, the “first-with-what’s-next” syndrome – the surface treatment of stories. Hard news – whether today’s details or those of significant national history – need more attention than it gets. Thanks to the hiring of media “consultants,” who are short on hard news knowledge and long on fancy “likeability” polling, news value is often replaced by news fluff.

I’ve long criticized university journalism schools as the wrong place to develop a good reporter. Any damned fool can be taught to write. What’s missing in most “J” school grads is something that can’t be taught. A trait ALL really successful media folks share. Curiosity. You show me a curious person and I’ll show you someone that can learn to write. Curiosity first. Writing second.

As our nation skews to a preponderance of other cultures, other religions, other national histories, it will be even more important for news people to be grounded in those new realities. Our country is becoming more than just the ancestors of the Caucasian Pilgrims. We’re becoming a human “Joseph’s coat” of many colors, languages and ethnic backgrounds. We’ll no longer be a majority of any particular race but rather a mix of many. And that’s what this country is about.

For a top notch, professional journalist/reporter in the future, this new reality will present some challenges. One will be the need to really KNOW these new Americans. Their social and political histories. Their important cultural and religious traditions. What issues and needs are – or were – important. Whatever is important to them will need to be important to the people who report on their lives. And to the rest of us.

These new realities – these new demands – won’t be served by a media that can’t remember JFK’s murder and acknowledge it appropriately. They won’t be served by ignoring the Japanese attacks that started a world war in which hundreds of thousands died and millions more were involved and let the date go by unnoticed. Or September 11, 2001. Viet Nam. Desert Storm. Sandy Hook. Nashville.

The new reality will be the media will have to know each of the different strains that’ll make up this demographically changed America. That’ll require more knowledge of the dates, names and places important to their audience. All will have to deal with a broader scope of viewer/reader interests if the media itself is to remain relevant.

As long as a great many people are still alive who were living when these major events happened, those moments won’t be “ancient history.” They’ll be remembered – personally felt – like the national and life changing events they were.

It is – and will be – the media’s job to remember, too.

Bette Davis was right

Author: admin

Despite some not wanting to believe it, the Republican Party has been morphing into something dangerous and, at times, violent. Still, most of us have given it the benefit of the doubt.

But, dangerous it is. And, at times, violent.

You need to look no further than last week’s very dangerous public ouster of two Black Tennessee Democrats from their House seats. Some reports called the GOP action “ruthless” and a “denial of the rights” of the pair. “Racist” as well.

Their “crime?” Exercising rights of citizenship by attending an anti-gun demonstration ahead of a House vote on gun bills. The demonstration in which they participated was triggered in Tennessee by the massacre of six people in a Nashville grade school.

That’s it. And, for that they were ushered – and at times – angrily pushed out through the House doors.

For me, “benefit of the doubt” is gone. The Republican Party is, indeed, becoming more dangerous and extreme in its conduct. Some of its most agitating members are appearing at far-right rallies and demonstrations. Their language has become more harsh – more heated. Their conduct more aggressive.

Some Republican-dominated legislatures have gerrymandered election districts into contorted shapes where – in some instances – Democrats can get more votes and still lose. Just shoved it through.

In such states, the GOP is enacting harmful and often questionable legislation. In some instances, legislation designed to deny someone’s rights or threaten their way of life because of sexual orientation or some other personal lifestyle.

Some Republican-dominated legislatures have been stripping lesser levels of government of some of their rightful authority. Others are laying on unnecessary new social requirements to receive state funding.

In the Tennessee case, Republicans catapulted three previously unknown legislators onto the national stage and laid bare the Party’s outright racist actions. Those actions serve to authenticate our deepening national political and social divides.

Much of the issue in Tennessee – and elsewhere – has been a bubbling over of people’s anger at the failure of office-holders to create new gun safety laws. There’s a recognizable frustration which is added to every time a new massacre occurs.

Many recent incidents of violence have been in Republican dominated states. States where there is the most resistance to any new laws regarding firearms.

We’re seeing people moving from one state to another they believe more representative of their political outlook – one they see as more welcoming – more closely in line with their social “beliefs.”

North Idaho is an excellent example of vivid divisions within the GOP. Kootenai County has at least four Republican central committees. Each claims it is the “official” one. Bonner and Boundary County Republicans are similarly divided politically.

Up there, you’ll hear some of the most discordant voices in Idaho. Several militia groups regularly – and openly – hold their drills on public lands. GOP meetings are often attended by men and women shouldering long guns with a pistol in their waistbands.

It may be an over-simplification to say Idaho is home to such groups because of its long history of Republicanism. May be. But, their certainly is a correlation between the emergence of a more strident state Party and the militance now openly displayed.

Our long history of two-party government is being replaced by a single, dominant party in some places. For better or worse. The long control of GOP state government in Idaho is but one example.

The Republican Party of Dole, Rockefeller, Powell and “Ike” is becoming a haven for the far-right, for extremists of every stripe with a more militant persona.

How far this development is allowed to grow is an open question. But, it appears to foretell – as Bette Davis famously said – “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Round one

Author: admin

Well, now.

After four days of continual media fixation on criminally-charged D.J. Trump, are you about wrung out? Had enough? Too much? Me, too.

We all knew there would be an indictment of some sort. The only question has been, which crime committed where?

Though this first indictment won’t be unsealed until later today, we’re told by “anonymous sources” there are 34 citations. Thirty-four. Including one or more felonies. In there, somewhere, is the one about “hush money” to Stormy Daniels, porn star extra-ordinaire.

Being an old media guy, I’m angered by how many media folk – regardless of source – have used those words. Read that Stormy paragraph again. Because, I’ve deliberately made the same error here.

“Hush-money.” See the problem?

Truth is, the payment to her is not the issue. The crime is Trump reported the payment as a “campaign expense” on federal forms he had to file as a candidate for federal office.

But, what the Hell? Picky. Picky. Picky.

No, it’s not.

It’s a very real problem we’ve seen over and over again. When an error of fact is made so often, the other reported versions will nearly always carry the same error until people have heard or read it so often it becomes “fact.” Which it ain’t.

And, in matters of Trump, that’s important because, if you’re tired of hearing about him already, there’s gonna be a biblical flood of Trump-related stories comin’ up. For months and months. Maybe, years and years. Other news – often important news – will appear on page six or after the third commercial break on your favorite TV channel. If then. So, it’s important to keep the facts accurate as they surface.
And, you can bet the farm, after this first indictment, there’ll be one or more coming down the pike – state, federal or otherwise. Too many prosecutors have spent hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to simply slip their findings into a file drawer and go home.

Whatever the outcome of the campaign finance story, the one I’m waiting for is the paperwork on the January Sixth storming of the Capitol. If there’s going to be “Hell-to-pay,” that’s where it’ll be. We’ve already heard Trump was “surprised” by the first indictment. Just wait for that one.

Nothing concrete about future charges has come about – yet. But, it would seem convictions of dozens and dozens of those who broke into the Capitol that day are meaningless without charging the one who sent them there. DJT.

As for the faux GOP outrage, forget it. This first charge against Trump is legal business, not political business. Kevin McCarthy and his minions need to take a seat, shut up and watch the upcoming proceedings.

Life, as Trump has known it, is over. He’s spent decades twisting and turning – and buying – his way out of serious trouble. Those days are gone. No matter how many lawyers he hires or how many millions he spends defending against the coming indictments, his high-flying lifestyle is a thing of the past.

Imagine being President of the United States. Air Force One and all the trimmings. The heads of State. Four years in the White House. The lavishness at the pinnacle of American life. To a cell block. And, an orange jump suit.

More indictments are to likely follow. Quite likely. If you’re about “Trumped-out,” we’ve still got a long way to go before it’s over. Developments, from here on, will be the overwhelming storyline.

I, personally, wish Trump no ill will. But, matters now are in the hands of prosecutors and the courts. Some of the expected charges he’ll face carry specific minimum sentences. Former President or not, it’s the law.

Better stock up on more popcorn. And, your favorite liquid refreshment. We’ve got a long way to go.

Majority Rule

Author: admin

When it comes to making community decisions – elections, political candidates, etc – most of us were brought up with the dictum “majority rules.”

Nowadays, it seems that no longer applies every time. We’re seeing “tail-wag-the-dog” ruling in some cases. A minority – often small in number – trying to dictate to the majority. And, often successfully.

Case in point: The Meridian Library District in Idaho.

Meridian is a community of some 126-thousand souls. It resides next to Boise – population 240-thousand more or less. In daily life, there’s little to tell them apart since the two sit cheek-by-jowl to each other and, in nearly all ways – business, socially, economically – it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other leaves off.

At the moment, the Meridian Library District – a creature supported in many ways by both Meridian and Boise – is under attack. A few folks – and we’re talking a distinct few here in relation to total
population – are at the heart of the problem – waging “war” on the District.

Seems the Meridian Library District is a purveyor of “indecent” books – especially for young folks. And the small group of strident voices is trying to get the Library District – supported by thousands in the majority – dissolved. Not recalled. Dissolved!

There are two problems at play here. The first: what is your definition of “indecent?” The second: where is it written a small group of folks can dictate to a total population of some 350-thousand? So far, the whole brouhaha is still in the talking stages.

Somebody, somehow, somewhere in Idaho came up with what is referred to as the “official definition” for obscene material. To wit: “anything the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, when considered as a whole, appeals to excessive sexual interest.” I guess you’re on your own to come up with those “contemporary community standards” and “excessive.”

Library District Board Chair, Megan Larsen, says nothing in the Meridian District libraries fits that “official” description. Nothing! Period! And library staff has taken the half-dozen book titles presented by the group and shown how each is not “indecent” under that standard and where each fits into appropriate school curriculum.

But, the screeching minority isn’t buying the response. So, the whole mishmash is in the lap of the Board. Decision expected shortly.

This is just one example in our world today that shows the extent of some minority group trying to exercise itself at the expense of a majority. Not thousands of Meridian District patrons demanding change. Just this handful. And, they’re wrong.

Also, Boise. The Idaho capitol city has enjoyed long and consistent growth. It’s well-underpinned by a sound economy, a stable though growing population and room to add citizenry as needed.

But it wasn’t always so. For more than 25-years, in the ’60’s and ’70’s, a loud, vocal minority of a few hundred folk, put up roadblocks on the “highway” of the vast majority. Downtown urban renewal was the subject at hand. Even after the documents were signed, agreements all around by elected boards and commissions and construction started. Still they hollared.

Now, in our little Oregon ‘burb, a similar thing. A few folks are up in arms over a permit to demolish three very old buildings and replace the resultant hole-in-the-ground with a new five-story hotel.

Owners of the three hundred-year-old buildings have proven, conclusively, the structures can’t be economically remodeled or rehabilitated. A wise architect once told me nything built by man has a certain “life expectancy” just as our own bodies do. Electrical. Plumbing. Structurally. Heart. Veins. Arteries. Sooner or later, it all wears out.

Though vocally discordant, it’s not likely the minority will win this one, either. But, it’s resulting in a lot of unnecessary expense and wasted time for the local hotel people who’ve already jumped through many city hoops and gone to much extra effort. And expense.

We see this minority disruption in many ways. A few folks try to turn the tide of the majority by belligerence and, in some cases, by erecting legal hurdles.

My thinking: once the majority has proven its case – once the minority has been given a proper hearing – once the questions (new hotel, an absence of obscene books) have been answered by professionals – once the an election has been decided – game over. Everybody go home.

But, in too many instances, its not working out that way. Though small and destined to fail, these little groups of dissidents keep up the noise and disruption. Even after decisions have been made.

“Majority rule?” Well, not always.

There’s a reason

Author: admin

The next time you hear someone say – most likely a weathered conservative left out in the sun too long – “We need to get rid of all those damned regulations,” tell him to “Put a sock in it.”

Then, just softly say “East Palestine, Ohio” and “Silicone Valley Bank.” Just six words. But they’re all you need to make your case.

Ronny Reagan was probably the most noted Republican presidential candidate who campaigned loudest against federal regulations. “Damn ’em all,” I heard him once cry during an Idaho campaign event. “The current mass of government regulations is hobbling free markets.”

Reagan was elected in November, 1980, and again November, 1984. It was widely believed his strong advocacy for erasing federal regulations played a major role of success in those two instances.

And, he largely fulfilled his promise to cut, cut, cut. Maybe that was good. Maybe that was bad. Depending on where you sat on the political spectrum.

For me and my brothers and sisters in mass communications, his success in killing the Federal Communications Commission Fairness Doctrine applying to our livelihoods was a major loss. The ramifications of that loss are still being felt.

Under that very necessary requirement – read regulation – Faux Noos likely wouldn’t have become the B.S. factory it is because the Doctrine required broadcasters to balance viewpoints – especially political – wherever possible. Required! Hannity would have had to sell shoes or cars rather than be allowed to sell B.S. on the tube five nights a week.

As the Ohio and SVB disasters show, there’s a reason for proper regulatory requirements in certain areas where the public welfare is deemed important. Like railway and bank safety. And airlines and cruise ships.

But, back to that Fairness Doctrine. Without it, we’ve had a plethora of right wing crap fouling our airwaves. Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Ingraham and the rest blossomed and were sustained by the resultant “freedoms” previously prohibited by the Doctrine. Whether we, as a nation, are better for their “freedoms” is up to you.

The Biden infrastructure victory is indeed that: a victory. A victory for better roads, upgraded public transportation and government investments meant to bring more private dollars into public areas. With accompanying regulations, of course.

It should come as a shock to no one that our rail industry, in particular, is in terrible shape. And, not just the rail beds and the stations. We are far, far behind China, Japan, England and even South Korea in development of high speed trains. Trains that can offer comfortable and safe alternatives to higher airfares. Imagine Seattle to Portland in 45 minutes or so.

As a country, we’d be in pretty bad shape without proper and necessary regulation. It’s the individual view of “proper” and “necessary” where we get into trouble at times. Which is why so many regs get kicked up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But, laws put on the books by Congress, most often need regulatory directives for implementation and use. The detail work.

As reported by NBC News, “Five years ago, Sen Elizabeth Warren was the most outspoken opponent of the Republican-led Congress’ push to undo regulations imposed under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law for small and mid-size banks. The bill, led by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, sought to reclassify the “too-big-to-fail” standard, which came with enhanced regulatory scrutiny. By raising the threshold from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion, medium-size banks were exempted from those regulations.

“Had Congress and the Federal Reserve not rolled back the stricter oversight, SVB and Signature (Bank) would have been subject to stronger liquidity and capital requirements to withstand financial shocks,” Warren said. “They would have been required to conduct regular stress tests to expose their vulnerabilities and shore up their businesses. But, because those requirements were repealed, when an old-fashioned bank run hit SVB, the bank couldn’t withstand the pressure — and Signature’s collapse was close behind.”

Yes, there are bad and unnecessary regulations at times. Depends on who writes the and how they’re implemented Which is why SCOTUS gets into the fray at times. Sorting things out.

It’ll be interesting to see if either – or both – the derailment or bank closure came about by running afoul of regulation or some other circumstance. Could be.

Either way, there’s reason to believe those who loudly decry regulation are wrong. If necessary and properly handled in creation and implementation, your next trip in an airplane could be a whole lot safer.

You’d like that, wouldn’t you?