Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

Change

Author: admin

All my life I’ve been told “change is constant.” And, all my life – 80+ years – it has been. In nearly all ways. But, just because it’s a “constant” doesn’t mean it may always be good change.

I recently got some medical news that’s made me reflect a bit and take note of some of that “change.” For much of it, I’m not happy with the review.

The media has changed. As someone who spent a good portion of his life embroiled in it, that change has been one of my greatest disappointments. In so many ways.

For one, nearly all media outlets turn off the lights Friday evening and don’t show up till Monday morning except for weekend sports. We live in an area of about 4-million souls, “served” by a lot of media outlets. Still, this week, an airplane crashed locally Saturday morning and there was no account of it – or the deaths involved – until Monday mid-day. Anywhere.

Newspapers – and even some broadcast outlets – routinely “report” a story with the words “…according to a news release” prominently displayed. Might be a mainline water break or two 18-wheelers meeting head-on or a jailbreak. Makes no difference. Wait for the news release. Even in our 4-million+ market.

Don’t get me started with spelling errors, wrong picture ID’s, words dropped from sentences or headlines, an over-abundance of “fluff” and a neglect of real news.

Coarseness in our language is another disappointing “change.” Been to a sporting event lately? Or a restaurant? Even movie theaters. Or how about Facebook? Have you listened to teens – or 2nd graders – talking? Sounds like a coal miner’s workplace. Even network TV shows and some of our political speeches. Lots of #/@+.

Churches have changed, too. You can find a good number these days with “answers” to your every question. The historic, individual search for faith and connectedness is now too often met with “our way or the highway.” Some even try to overrule laws or political principles with their narrow, self-serving views of things “religious.”

Adherence to laws has, for far too many, become old fashioned. Especially on the highway. Rules of the road seem to be thought of as “suggestions.” “I’m here and I’m going there so get out of my way.” See it everyday.

Lots of disturbing “changes” in law enforcement as well. Elected, professional lawmen refusing to enforce one or more laws they don’t agree with, cherry-picking what they see are acceptable ones and ignoring those they don’t like. Or, ones that might have a bearing on their next re-election campaign.

There are many more examples of changing social norms and customs that aren’t for the better. But, none more so than national governance.

Possibly the most unacceptable “change” politically has been those in office – especially federal – becoming a self-perpetuating ruling class rather than representatives of the people. Somewhere along the line, our issues became less important than their fanatical desire to stay in place. Too many officeholders look upon the electorate as a means to their own ends rather than acting as people we’ve chosen to temporarily deal with our national needs.

“Town Hall” sessions and other constituent events are, in the eyes of many pols, things to be avoided. No phone calls. No meet-and-greets. No direct contact if it can be eliminated. Idaho, especially, has a couple of Senators for whom those are the rules, not the exceptions.

In my life, I’ve met too many politicians who’ve said, “If you knew what I know, you’d agree with me,” Time and time and time again. Too damned many. We’ve lost the ability to have our legislative desires dealt with. We’re often treated as subjects rather than citizens.

And, of course, the Internet, fraught with change. Some good: access, education, communication, medical, et al. Some bad: communication. While the I-net has enhanced nearly every aspect of our lives, it has also exhibited and communicated hate, bigotry, danger and outright criminal behavior for millions. While most of us have learned to use it as an ever-changing tool for good, it’s also had a concomitant effect for criminal and immoral activity.

Sometimes, it’s the resistance to change that’s more troubling. Idaho, for example, has a vocal group of “anti-changers” vowing to cut the operating budget of Boise State University for instituting gender-neutral restrooms on campus. Loudest voice is a “legislator” from Eastern Idaho who was thrown out of a Boise restaurant for carrying a rifle with him at lunch. Methinks payback is more on his little mind than who uses what bathrooms at BSU 250 miles from his home.

That old saw “change is constant” is as apt today as it was when the first Neanderthal muttered it. While there are many examples of change not necessarily for our betterment, it’s safe to say most has been beneficial. The continuing evolution of change is, actually, about the most constant thing in our lives these days. There’s really not much we can do about it except to take the “hits” and keep on going. Resistance – even in bathrooms – is futile.

You might have noticed I haven’t included our miscreant liar of a President in these musings about change. Deliberate, I assure you. After all, not all change has to be permanent. And he’s the textbook case for the necessity of c-h-a-n-g-e.

Two complete mysteries

Author: admin

This impeachment business has become an overwhelming saga. It’s taken all the air out of the room. Not that it isn’t warranted. It is. And will continue so for several months.

Trying to keep up with daily disclosures and the changing cast of characters is quite a job for political junkies. As the old movie posters used to say “cast of thousands.” Though I’ve kept pretty current, I’m still trying to wrap my head around two pieces of the saga. Just two.

First, why, according to polls, do some 30-million Americans continue to support Trump? Given the list of outright legal and moral atrocities he’s committed – both in office and before – why does polling still show a solid block of nearly a third of voters from the 2016 election still waving their MAGA hats?

In fact, a reliable national poll a few days ago showed 52-percent queried would still vote for him “NO MATTER WHAT HE DOES!” Fifty-two percent!!! And that wasn’t just Republicans.

As a secondary issue under that same query is yet another of even more curiosity. Given his repeated marital infidelities, payment of bribes to buy the silence of a couple dozen women, his continual lying, outrageous flaunting of “family values,” defying the constitutional requirements of his office and all his other political and moral felonies, why do the Evangelicals still back him to the hilt? Why do they – by the millions – loudly professing their adherence to a godly life and the holy teachings of Jesus Christ, stand so solidly behind him? How do they square that with their own moral beliefs?

The second confounding issue is strictly political. In last week’s vote to proceed with impeachment in the House, why did 192 Republicans – every single one – vote against the resolution laying out that process? Though some may not have meant their vote as meaningful support for Trump, there really is no other viable political reason given the public evidence so far. I’d bet a few swallowed hard. Real hard.

I know. I know. They’re bitching about the “process.” Absolutely bogus. If there’s any certainty in this whole mess it’s that Speaker Pelosi and her crew will take every precaution and run that process strictly “by-the-book.” They’ll make absolutely sure the bill of impeachment that goes to the Senate has every “I” dotted and every “T” crossed. You can bet the farm.

The reason for my consternation about last week’s vote is this. Trump has turned against dozens of people in his administration. He’s fired – or otherwise forced to quit – cabinet members, chiefs of staff, lawyers and assorted flunkies. And he’s publically vilified other staffers who – for reasons unknown – took the undeserved beatings and stayed on the job. He’s betrayed so many people he can’t find highly qualified candidates for all the openings available.

Congressional Republicans, we’re told, say in private they fear Trump will put up someone to run against them in the next GOP primaries. He’ll try to get revenge. Road apples! If some nutcase in your own primary scares you, that’s hardly sufficient cause to turn your back on the oath you swore to “uphold the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

Somehow, getting into – and staying in – Congress has become more of an employment issue than a desire to undertake public service for its own sake. We’re seeing proof of that in so many ways as members of Congress bend this way and that to stay ahead of the political winds. Last week’s vote was just the most recent example.

Sooner or later, Trump will turn on any one of them. Bet on it. For example, any day now, watch Giuliani disappear under the bus. And those two Ukranian criminals? If we can keep ‘em in the country long enough for a trial, they’ll have Trump tire marks right up their backs.

Trump’s most certain trait is self-preservation. In his mind, he’ll survive even if everything goes to hell. Look at what he’s doing now. Handing out thousands of dollars to Republican senators running for re-election. Put another way, imagine the criminal on trial in your hometown, standing on the count house steps, handing out big bucks to the jurors as they file past. That’s exactly what he’s doing. Bribing the jury. Nothing more than base self-preservation.

Many Republicans standing with Trump today will be tomorrow’s bodies on the political landscape.

Evangelicals by the millions, accepting the moral degradation of someone who violates all they espouse in their own morality and Republican members of Congress who’re selling their self-respect at the foot of a false political prophet.

However this impeachment story turns out, I’ll never understand either.

Who’s in charge

Author: admin

I’ve come to think our nation is running on auto-pilot; that there’s no responsible adult at the controls which makes us very, very vulnerable.

With last week’s childish display of Republican arrogance and ignorance by those gate-crashers in the U.S. House, I hope we’ve seen the last of such rule-breaking in an attack on proper protocols. But, I doubt it.

The evidence is beginning to mount that our misbegotten “president” is dangerously close to being out-of-control. Watching and listening to him is frightening, even to those of us lacking the medical credentials to make an official diagnosis. We’re seeing his lack of focus and mental disassociation with reality. Daily.

In what seemed a laughable quote, he noted the “success” of a new portion of his beloved wall being built between Mexico and Colorado. Laughable, yes, until you see it a couple of times and remember there are about 800 horizontal miles between those two points.

His foreknowledge of the schoolboy “attack” on that House hearing – and apparent approval – is yet another indicator this is someone who will stop at nothing to save himself from the certain impeachment that’s coming down the political track.

Time and again, he’s created international calamities and given way to aggressive dictators. Look at the military and humanitarian mess in Syria where the only “winners” are our sworn enemies. Last week, he said our troops are “coming home.” They’re not. They’re being moved to Northern Iran. Then he added, “We’re protecting the Syrian oil fields.” Say WHAT?

Sending American military to Saudi Arabia. For what? He’s treating our troops like mercenaries. If the Saudi’s need protection from God knows what, they can buy an army from someone who doesn’t want to build a hotel in Riyadh.

There are more examples of an addled mind. Many, many more. But, back to impeachment. The process will be introduced and voted on. He will be impeached. The Senate will hold a trial. What sort of trial and under what circumstances remain to be seen. Trump supporter Mitch says he “can’t see any reason why it would last more than six days.” Interesting number.

If there’s ever been a time in our nation’s history where it’s been impossible to look ahead six months or so with any certainty, we’re living it. What comes out of Congress will be a crap shoot. How many Republicans will finally read the “writing-on-the-wall” is an unknown.

But, one thing is absolutely certain. Democrats do have control of the House and of the proceedings. Nancy Pelosi is firmly in charge. And you can bet the farm, everything will be done “by the book.” Every “T” crossed. Every “I” dotted. Every one! There’ll be no rush to bring the bill of impeachment to the floor until everything is just right.
There’ll be no “do-overs” on this one. The stakes are too damned high.
Meantime, who’s in charge? Who’s running “the store?”

I don’t mean to sound like the 1960’s movie “Seven Days In May,” in which a small group of generals plot a coup against the president, but you have to wonder what’s going on with Pentagon brass as they watch this president fall apart. One thing successful military leaders never, ever forget is the troops. Generals not only rely on adherence to orders in the ranks but also to respect for the leaders issuing those orders.

What Trump has allowed to happen in Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen has to be weighing on the military. He’s shown his disrespect by using that military in egregious ways. Starting with that damned parade he ordered up to which the brass said “NO.” That refusal to “fall-in-line”wasn’t ignored by the troops. Trump’s lies about where the soldiers leaving Syria are going hasn’t been ignored, either. Nor have the orders to go to Saudi Arabia to “protect the oil fields.”

My years in the military were spent in communications. While seeing thousands of Americans wearing the same uniforms can lead onlookers to believe all are “of one mind,” I assure you, that’s not the case. There are many military news outlets civilians never see. There are stories aimed at a military audience that are, most often, well-written and incite full. The folks in uniform are not just one large crowd dressed alike. And you can bet they’re looking up the chain-of-command for clues to what’s ahead.

And in Congress. How many Republicans have one foot on the gangplank, ready to leave a sinking ship? How many are checking their “hole card” to determine how long to back a certain political loser? Who and what will make the difference when the winds change? And they will.

In the White House, who’s in charge? If it’s Mulvaney, then no one. Guliani? Hardly. Conway to be the next Chief-of-Staff? Ha!

The one – and only one – in charge is Trump. A man cornered and running out of time. A man who can see light at the end of the tunnel and it ain’t daylight. A man who’s never been forced to “stand pat” with a losing hand when the deal goes bad. This is one he can’t walk away from. And he knows it.

So, who’s in charge? All we can do is hang on. And, as Bette Davis said, “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Family values criminals

Author: admin

Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen many Republican politicians arrested, charged, found guilty and hauled off to jail. So many, in fact, it makes one wonder why.

Oh, there’s an occasional Democrat here and there. But, the majority of the felonious miscreants come from the GOP. So, again, why?

Here in our Arizona desert desolation, we have a doozy. The guy’s name is Paul Petersen. He’s our Maricopa County Assessor – at least that’s his day job. Maricopa County is some 4-million souls. But, Petersen has not been around much lately. A check of the pass for his private spot in the Maricopa County parking lot shows its been used only 59 days this year.

Republican Peterson is now hidden in a federal slammer somewhere looking at 60 felony charges in three states – Arizona, Utah and Arkansas.

The litany of charges reads like this: smuggling 70 women from the Marshall Islands to the above states for private financial gain; aiding and abetting the same; wire fraud; committing federal visa fraud and money laundering. And, he charged each of the women $40,000 for his services!

As I said, county assessor seems to be only his day job.

By education, Peterson is an attorney. So, too, was his father, David. We’ll get to David shortly.

In sum, the 62 counts arise from Paul’s apparent scheme of finding pregnant women in the Marshalls, convincing them to come to the states ( charging $40,000 each), having babies and putting them up for adoption. Then, he charged the parents-to-be a separate fee which, according to indictments, brought his take to several million dollars.

He had a couple of women accomplices; one in the Marshalls to do the scouting and lining up the mothers-to-be and another, stateside, to make medical admissions in the three states and find applicants for the baby sales. We’re told the pregnant women were kept in private houses under very crowded and unsanitary conditions. Near as the feds can tell, this has been going on for about nine years!

Then, there’s David Peterson, the pater. David, another Republican, got himself into the Arizona State Senate, representing Mesa in the ‘90’s and rose to the rank of majority whip for a term or two. But, his day job was running a non-profit called Family Services Committee which sponsored – wait for it – adoptions. David even got several bills passed into law that speeded up the Arizona adoption process and got taxpayer dollars to recruit adoptive families.

Then, David was elected State Treasurer. He sent his son, Paul, to college to get his law degree and Paul decided his specialty would be – wait for it again – adoption law.

Father David was also running Arizona Communities of Character Council and Arizona Character Council Foundation where he managed to secure more taxpayer dollars, according to the state’s largest newspaper, The Arizona Republic.

David fielded calls and faxes from his State Treasurer’s office and clocked many hundreds of miles for what he called “community updates” representing his non-profits mixed with some legitimate state treasurer’s business. He kept his personal involvement in the “non-profit” business a closely guarded secret. The Republic described him as a “ pitchman who didn’t understand boundaries between state and personal business.”

After several years, David Petersen’s double life leaked out and he was forced to resign from public office.

Meantime, son Paul became a fixture in state GOP politics, holding several positions before running for – and winning – the Maricopa County Assessor’s office. And he, too, had this “little non-profit business” on the side. Also, “unknown to nearly everyone,” we’re told.

Martha McSally, one of our current U.S. Senators also had run-ins with legal authorities when, in the Arizona Legislature, she messed around with campaign funds for something other than campaigns. She lost her race for the Senate but our GOP Governor appointed her to fill in the remainder of the late John McCain’s term, regardless of the previous voter rejection.

Current U.S. GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter of California, was re-elected in 2018 despite several federal indictments for using campaign dollars for lavish living. Chris Collins, a House member from New York, also was re-elected in 2018 regardless of his guilty plea to insider stock trading. He resigned just before going to jail.

There are other Republicans who’ve been charged with felonies or have otherwise been forced from federal or state offices. As previously noted, there’s been a Democrat or two but the GOP is way ahead in miscreant body count.

It’s also worth noting the national GOPer’s in or headed to the hoosegow. Manafort and Ryan are only the best known of the convicted. There are others. Some have served their sentences. Others await the judge’s decision. Looks like Rudy G. may possibly be headed to involuntary confinement, too. Along with a couple of his co-workers in this country and abroad.

And, who can forget our President. The top Republican himself may be headed the same way. Hard to tell these days with so many details breaking so quickly. The next few weeks and months will largely determine his fate.

Meantime, the federal lockup where Paul Petersen is being kept is a law enforcement secret, I’m told David still resides in the Mesa area. Might be worth one of your famous phone calls, DT. Professional courtesy.

Keeping faith

Author: admin

With the possible exception of the Civil War, our nation now seems more divided, more acrimonious, more splintered and filled with outright hate than at anytime in our history.

The causes are many. Solutions seem few. Each day, it seems another dose of division is sewn into our nature and those divisions appear wider than ever. None of us can escape them. Nor should we if we’re ever to come out of this dark period intact.

But, one societal separation bothers me more than any other. And that’s the often stark divide between citizenry and law enforcement.

It’s not enough to say there’s fault on both sides. Which, of course, there is. Our suspicion of some of them and their suspicion, and on occasion, treatment of some of us seems to make the news daily.

What set this train of thought going for me was an incident that happened just down the road from our house the other day. Six local officers coordinated their morning break time to meet at a coffee shop for a latte or two. As they sat chatting, the manager came to the table and asked them to leave. Just go! Seems a customer had complained the presence of the officers was making him/her “uncomfortable.”

There’s so much wrong with this picture. Obviously the action of the manager was ridiculous. So, too, was the unreasonable request from the customer. The presence of half-a-dozen local officers was “disturbing?” Why? My first reaction to the story was what was in the customer’s mind – or background – that made him/her so “uncomfortable?” And the next thought: was the customer Black? A totally outrageous situation made worse because of the extreme ignorance of both the customer and the manager.

This dustup may be isolated. But, there’s more at play here than just a citizen complaint. While conduct between most law enforcement and most citizens on a daily basis is routine, we’ve seen many instances when it’s not. The oft-photographed murder of unarmed Black men and teens springs to mind. The difference in treatment by law enforcement on the basis of race has been well-documented. And, whenever it happens – wherever it happens – it’s wrong.

And so is this: the dangerous decisions by lawmen in many parts of the country that they’ll enforce certain laws and ignore others. Our western sheriffs are often the most strident. In Washington, Idaho, Utah and Oregon, many have not only said they won’t enforce gun laws but will actually arrest federal officers who may try to do so. Sworn to uphold all laws, some have decided to be selective. Which is illegal and sends terribly mixed messages to citizens. When is a law right and when is a right law deemed wrong? That’s what courts are for. Not cops.

The relationship of law enforcers and law abiders is one of the most important basics in a civilization. The balance is best when there’s trust demonstrated by all participants. But, when officers become selective – when they become threats to unarmed citizens through words or actions – the results can be deadly.

Similarly, citizens can also alter that delicate balance by acting inappropriately or making unreasonable demands. Our local “uncomfortable” latte drinker is one such.

In younger days, I spent a lot of nighttime hours doing “ride-alongs” with cops. I became very familiar with some of the dangers they face each shift and some of the unreported good things they do just because they’re the right kinds of people. I have a healthy respect for what they do, how they do it and why. Often dangerous work. More often, thankless work.

We need them. They need us. It’s just that simple. We may live in difficult times. We may be surrounded by politically turbulent times. We may be victims – or perpetrators – of the hateful divisions faced daily or deluged by lies and disappointments in our national politics.

But, we must strive for – earnestly work for – a continuing respect for laws and the people who enforce them. If we lose that trust – that faith – that respect one for another – not much else matters.
 

Rope’s end

Author: admin

How much political and moral abuse is one nation expected to take before something breaks? How much pressure of criminality and wholesale corruption must we endure before the necessary Constitutional action is undertaken to end it?

These questions have been running back and forth in my mind for some time. As the continuing litany of lies and damned lies flows from this Republican administration, I keep wondering where we’ll see the end. What that end will be.

As a lifelong student of politics, I’ve watched the oft-proven criminality of our president and his minions with disdain but with a sense of history and a belief that we will see a just end.

While hope lingers that such will be the eventuality, Trump’s out-of-control dictatorial conduct has forced me to tie a bigger knot at the of my rope of patience.

The last hope there was any tiny shred of humanity left in him died abruptly for me with the revelation he wanted to shoot legal immigrants trying to enter this country. Shoot to kill. Shoot to maim. Pierce their bodies with electrical spikes atop his fictitious wall. Dig water trenches along our entire southern border and fill them with snakes and alligators.

The sickness of Trump’s mind could legitimately be compared to some 12th century tyrants in Asia or Europe who put the heads of their slain enemies on spikes. About the only terrible torture he skipped is the boiling in oil!

Trump, Pompeo, Giuliani, Mnuchin, Miller, Pence, Kirchner, Graham, Myers, Ross and more have trampled truth, ignored both facts and constitutional oaths, conducted themselves with shame, outrageous conduct and lie after lie after lie after lie in their misbegotten roles in national governance.

Like the Wicked Witch in “The Wizard of Oz,” Trump has now sent his “flying monkeys” around the world seeking foreign help to support his “deep state” conspiracy dementia. What the Hell do the leaders of France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea think about this country? How must they think of future international relationships or even trust us to uphold old ties when Trump is acting so criminally?

The whole Ukrainian deal, with its lies by Trump, Pence, Giuliani and Pompeo, has become a true representation of how far this demented person in the Oval Office will go to retain power. How far he’ll go to distort, undermine and attempt to savage his perceived “enemies” and possible political opponents.

To the disdain, anger, hatred and oral effluent flowing from Trump you can add the morally reprehensible inactivity of nearly every Republican in Congress. Especially the Senate. Consciously and conspicuously ignoring their oaths to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” Republican Senators have cowered in fearful self-service. They’ve put their personal retention in office above those oaths and their pledges/promises to constituents. Their individual love of power has overcome duty.

But, I will give them and other so-called Trump Republicans this: they’ve been the prime source of changing our traditional political two-party system from Republican versus Democrat to truth versus lies. With the paid flatulence of rightwing media mouths to assist, people are more divided. Facts are becoming more irrelevant.

Yes, the House will impeach. Yes, the Senate will hold a trial. But, it’s length, the search for truth and honest decision-making are all up for question. All Senators will take an oath to “judge fairly and with open minds.” But, many, like Idaho’s Risch, have already publically disavowed published facts and renewed their loyalty to Trump. Just how much “open mindedness” will you find in him?

If all this sounds like a rant, it is. But, it’s also an acknowledgment of a fellow citizen who’s disappointed in the present and fearful for the future. Someday, by some means, Trump will have to leave the presidency. Whether he’ll walk out of the White House or be carried out is still a very real open question.

So, too, is the issue of what he’ll leave behind. One victim will be a badly wounded nation, suffering from all he has inflicted upon it. Another will be a two-party political system that likely will never be the same as it was just a few years ago. There will also be several million fellow Americans who’ll be angry, defiant and some who may resort to violence against others. In some quarters, there will be political chaos and feelings of disaffection.

What will our political system – our nation – look like five or ten years down the road? Will we have cobbled together a functioning government, able to respond to the needs of it’s citizens? Will we have replaced hate/anger with renewed optimism? Will acceptance of our differences and cooperation return within our national political structure? Or, will we have to create new ways of getting past all we are now enduring to have a better future?

All open questions that, before Trump, we didn’t have to answer. All before we had to realize we have a president who advocates killing and maiming people from other nations who’re simply seeking survival and a better life.

The complicit

Author: admin

At what point do complacency and self-service become complicity? When does a lack of responsible, legal action become malfeasance in office?

And, the next question: are Republicans in the U.S. Senate guilty of both?

The evidence is overwhelming that Senate Republicans have become Trump’s personal sycophants, unwilling to execute the Constitutional powers given them. You have to wonder if that inaction has made them complicit in his oft-illegal conduct.

Clearly, the most dangerous name in today’s political world is Mitch McConnell. Aside from stacking literally hundreds of federal judgeships with unqualified Trump nominees, he’s personally throttled all House-passed legislation that’s come to his desk as Senate Majority Leader. He’s the dam holding back the flow of responsible progress on climate change, defense, budgeting, minimum wage, worker safety, voter protections and much more.

McConnell represents the terrible misuse of power granted his position under the rules of the Senate. For him, the elections of 2016 and 2018 continue. With a slim margin of just four votes, he has beaten back any reasonable attempts at bipartisanship and exacted a terrible toll of division and hatred. Strong words but apt.

More than that, he’s used treachery and willful suppression to keep the muzzle on those in his party who might otherwise chose to work in the interests of the country rather than support the arrogance of McConnell. There are some who’ve cautiously dared to put forward some thoughts of responsible legislation. But, he’s kept the lid so tight nothing gets past his round file.

There are others of McConnell’s ilk, such as Jim Risch of Idaho, who have clear Senate responsibilities but who’ve failed miserably. Risch, chair of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has ducked every opportunity to stand up to Trump, stop some of his egregious activities in foreign affairs, take some serious role in the conduct of international diplomacy and undertake serious attempts to mitigate some of Trump’s effects on world matters.

Senate Republicans have, by inaction, made Trump more powerful and more dangerous. Our Constitution provides clear checks and balances between Executive and Legislative branches of federal government. Under McConnell, and typified by Risch’s lack of leadership in foreign affairs, Trump has stomped around the world breaking treaties, reneging on relations with our historically significant partnerships with other countries and made enemies of world leaders in the process.

Thanks, in large part, to McConnell and his GOP cohorts, we have operated for the last couple of years, not as a Republic, but as a demagogic authoritarian state. We’ve watched checks and balances ignored while a federal judiciary has been loaded with incompetents, historic treaties abrogated, federal agencies ransacked, valued professionals forced to resign, seen protections of our environment rolled back or obliterated, watched lobbyists write laws, watched Trump’s “friends” in powerful Cabinet positions forced out by corruption and scandal.

And more. Much more. All the while, McConnell and his 51 Republican minions have stood by, watching the willful destruction, seeing the damages to responsible governance attacked and witnessing damages to institutions that will take decades – if ever – to restore.

This has nothing to do with the traditional two-party system of government. Not a thing. But, it does have everything to do with one man’s irresponsible, ignorant behavior and another’s willingness to damage a governmental structure for his own personal power.

So, again, the question. At what point do complacency and self-service become complicity? Are Senate Republicans guilty of both? The answer has to be yes! The length and weighty evidence is damning.

It’s going to be up to the national electorate to pronounce judgment in 2020. Some of the guilty will, no doubt, live to further avoid future obligations another day.

But, some, like McConnell, are on the ballot next year. And, some, like McConnell, have opposition. Worthy opposition. Very qualified opposition.

If punishment isn’t extracted at the polls, if those in office who’ve stood by and callously watched without action are not disavowed, then we, too, may share their complicity.

I’m done forgiving

Author: admin

“TO ERR IS HUMAN; TO FORGIVE, DIVINE.”

Most of us, I suspect, have lived our lives usually honoring those wise words. With the possible exception of serial killers, terrorists, school shooters or a Trump presidency, that old maxim holds pretty true. Few of us have led such exemplary lives that we can’t use a little forgiveness now and then.

But, something’s happened in the world of politics to push such advice to intolerable limits. “Erring” has become so despicable that “forgiving” is damned near impossible. Yet millions of voters keep buying in.

There were times when politicians, asking for our support, knew that support carried with it a high level of expectations of proper behavior. And, if one turned out to be a miscreant – or worse – they paid the penalty of being ostracized by the electorate and were most often shoved off to some lonely, deserted place. They paid for bad behavior with the loss of both job and our respect. Today, not so much!

In 1987, Colorado Senator Gary Hart was an odds-on favorite to be the next shining star of the Democrat Party. Good looking. Reasonably middle-of-the-road outlook. A good bet for future political success. Until 1987. Media reports began popping up linking the married Hart to blond – and single – Donna Rice. Hart responded with the expected denials. Then he said something to the national media that was really stupid. “If you think I’m messing around, follow me and see how wrong you are.”

Follow they did. And right they were. Hart was photographed living the “single” swinging life with Ms. Hart. Career ended on a boat dock and he rightfully disappeared from public life.

Over the years, a few other “bright lights” suffered the same two-timing fate as Hart. Some cheating on their spouses. Some with criminal activity. Some with misusing political funds. And who can forget the night a prominent Texas Senator frolicked in a D.C. fountain with his mistress – Fannie Flagg. Career ender.

Today, it seems, nearly anything goes and, whatever deviant behavior an office-holder prominently exhibits, often seems to have no negative effects on his/her career.

Mark Sanford is exhibit one. A few years back, while governor of South Carolina, he lied to his staff, the media and wife about disappearing to “hike the Appalachian Trail.” What he really did was fly to Argentina to shack up for a week with his mistress. He was “forced” to take a break in his political life. Then, he resurfaced, ran succesfully for the U.S. House and is now a Republican candidate for President. Wha Hoppen?

In Arizona, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, convicted of ignoring a federal court order, is trying to get his old job back. Two years ago, he wanted us to send him to the U.S. Senate. We didn’t.

Arizona also has two members of Congress found guilty of behaving badly with state campaign funds. One was subsequently elected to the Senate and other, after losing that Senate race, was appointed to the same job voters said she shouldn’t have.

One of Florida’s senators was elected governor – then to the Senate – even after being nailed by the feds for ripping off federal health care dollars in the millions. Last year, California re-elected a member of Congress even though he and his wife had been indicted for using campaign accounts for luxury living he obviously couldn’t otherwise afford. Before him, they repeatedly elected his crooked father to the same office several times.

Two members of Congress are enjoying the high life of national politics even as both are under current indictments for insider trading. Both re-elected AFTER the charges were filed.

In Idaho, former Boise Mayor Brent Coles, forced out of office for misusing public dollars, did time in the slammer. Now, he’s running for mayor again. Former State Senator John McGee of nearby Canyon County fame, forced out of office for improprieties with female staffers and stealing a car. Now, he’s running in a new election.

“To err is human.” I got that. But, in every field of endeavor, there’s a whole lot of “erring” going on. Lawyers, doctors, firemen, the clergy, politicians and hookers. We’ve got that “erring” thing down pretty good. And, in many cases, we also do pretty well in the “forgiving” department.

But, politicians have pushed the “forgiveness” envelope all out of shape. Scott, Rorabacher, Sanford, Coles, McGee, Arpaio, McSally, Trump and a bunch of others. They “erred” and kept right on going. Public trust be damned!

Those who’ve “erred” and seemingly ignored the consequences of such behavior will not be getting my vote in 2020. Nor should they be getting yours.
 

Whither thou the F-35

Author: admin

So, Boise is still wrestling with the issue of whether the U.S. Air Force should put F-35 jets at Gowen Field on the South side of the Boise Airport. Good luck with that.

We can speak to the F-35 issue with some personal experience since we live about 10 miles in a straight line from Luke Air Force Base outside of Phoenix. Luke is the training site for nearly every nation that we’ve sold F-35’s to. Pilots come here from all over the world to learn how to handle what I’ve been told is one tough aircraft to fly. Currently, Luke has about 100 F-35’s with a full compliment of about 180 due in coming months. Imagine those numbers at Gowen Field. Not hardly.

Our home is nearly under the downwind landing approach to Luke on the Northeast as are thousands of others. So, noise levels aren’t nearly what they are on the takeoff side which is to the Southwest. Most of the time. Occasionally, when prevailing winds shift, we get a taste of takeoffs. That’s when the windows rattle. Not often. Just once-in-a-while.

Boise’s F-35 problem is largely one of its own making. With some terrible assistance from Ada County.

The first airport in Boise was on Boise State University campus. Old dirt strip where Varney Airlines started, grandfather of United Airlines, we’re told. When growth forced re-locating, the plateau on the edge of the desert above town was chosen. So far, so good. And it worked as planned for a long, long time.

But, not now. And that’s where the failures of the City of Boise and Ada County come into play.

As Boise and the county grew, each allowed residential and commercial growth at both ends of the runways, except for the required minimal space for aircraft operation patterns required by the FAA. Soon came cries from folks bitching about aircraft noise. What the Hell did they expect? As subdivisions grew so, too, did the airport with demands brought on by that same growth. Didn’t anyone in local government see what was coming?

Because of increased civilian/military demands, airport facilities expanded. As a former pilot who flew out of there, considering safety and growth values, I’d argue not much more activity can be crammed into that space. Something’s gotta give.

In the Phoenix metro area, with huge residential and commercial growth around the Luke AFB area, government got it right. When we bought our house two years ago, we – and thousands others in about a 20-mile-square area – signed a legal closing document that told us about Luke, expected noise and other conditions of an active flight area. A very active flight area. No future bitching!

Given prevailing winds and angle of the runways at Luke, we really don’t have a problem. But, as you drive past the other end of the runways – to the Southwest – you see no subdivisions for miles. Some industrial and farming allowed. But, no homes.

The dual jet F-35 uses afterburners on takeoff. That about triples normal noise. Once aloft, afterburners are shut down. But, if you’re under planes at takeoff, it’s a bitch. I’d hate to live Northwest of Gowen for 10 miles. Add to that, more often than not, there are multiple takeoffs at the same time. F-35’s usually fly in pairs or groups of four.

F-35’s should operate out of Mt. Home AFB, some 40 miles South and West. Not Gowen. But, Boise/Ada County officials would come unglued because of expected short-term economic loss.

So, you’ve got the physics of multiple jet aircraft operations in an area with thousands of residents under the flight path or you’ve got some sizeable fiscal loss of those same operations.

From outside, looking in, Mt. Home is the place for the F-35’s. Period. That aircraft is going to be around for a long, long time. Just as B-52 bombers will likely fly for 100 years with occasional engineering updates, the F-35 will last for many years with the same sort of re-engineering. It’s a multi-function plane, tailored for USAF, Navy and Marine use. Some fly normally. Others jump straight up. You’re really talking about an aircraft platform with several configurations. Much cheaper to update than to go to a whole new aircraft.

Length of service of the F-35 is not often discussed. It should be. Putting F-35’s at Gowen is not a short-term proposition. Once the base is reconfigured for them, they’ll be there a long time.

Future military flight operations should be at Mt. Home where the area is set aside for such. In time, it’s likely the National Guard at Gowen will expand and need more room.

Bringing the F-35 to Idaho should be decided on the basis of needs of the military and safe aircraft operations, not the local economic situation. Put ‘em where they belong. Out there.

Oh, and one more thing. Last week near Tucson, an A-10 Warthog – like those at Gowen – accidentally fired a missile. Accidental, yes. But that happens. No one hurt. But, what if it has been off the Northwest end of Gowen Field. Oh, say near Five Mile Road and Amity. Just sayin’.
 

Politics and religion?

Author: admin

A man-of-the-cloth friend asked my advice recently.

“Wait a minute,” thought I. “We supplicants are supposed to be the ones asking his advice when we have issues.” And I wasn’t prepared for his question.

“What do you think about a church study class dealing with politics and religion,” was his query? “I know both are touchy issues.”

“Touchy?” No more than cooking steak for a Hindu picnic. But what surprised me more than his question was the quickness and firmness of my response.

“Not only do I think you should,” I said, “I think it should be part of the faith programs of all churches that feel a responsibility to work in the worldly community of their parishioners. Not so those same parishioners are taught some obligation to vote or think a certain way, but so they can resolve issues of religion and politics that most of us have but are unsure how to reconcile.”

Then, in days following our discussion, I ran across an article by Rachel Held Evans who writes professionally about issues of faith and politics from an evangelical perspective.

Armed with a bundle of recent religious surveys, Ms. Evans concluded many young adults are turning their backs – especially on evangelical churches – because “they perceive evangelical churches to be too political, too exclusive, too old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”

She wrote, “I point to research showing young evangelicals often feel they must choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness. The evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a set of rules when these same millennials long for faith communities in which they’re safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.”

Ministers wearing jeans, a fancy coffee shop in fellowship hall, larger worship bands and other current “style changes” are not what she means. She points out millennials were raised on advertising and rock bands and have a “sensitive B.S. meter.” It may be those “style changes” are some of the very things causing an exodus among the young.

Evans says many of her peers are being drawn to high church traditions – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church – precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem unpretentious, unconcerned with ‘being cool’ and are refreshingly authentic. “We want a truce between science and faith,” she wrote. “We want to be known for what we stand for – not what we’re against. We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers. We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the Kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single (political) party or a single nation.”

One more thing from Ms. Evans: “Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from 40-somethings and grandmothers – Generation Xers and retirees. Their messages are clear: ‘Me, too!’”

Just after reading her latest work, the collective worlds of modern Christianity and politics collided full-on for me as Pope Francis stunned many Catholics and much of the rest of the world. When asked about gay men in the priesthood, he responded “Who am I to judge them?” That must have put some new cracks in the old Vatican walls.

Just as many Americans are feeling their recent votes have brought them a political world they weren’t expecting, some are also re-examining recent religious swings away from mainstream churches. They’re looking a second time at the newer, hipper, more flashy services that mask an unforgiving base of rigidity mixed with similar unforgiving political themes. They’re finding churches of the “you’ve-got-questions, we’ve-got-answers” approach to Christianity are more exclusionary than inclusive.

Many years ago, we were told of old-line Baptist – and even Mormon churches – where congregants were told to seat themselves on one side of the aisle if they were Democrats and the other side if Republican. I never experienced that but heard the stories too often to discount them.

A lot of more moderate, mainline clergy are hesitant to introduce the subject of politics in religious study classes. For good reason. Some have either been handed their walking papers after doing so or found themselves with a congregation splintered along political lines. If you wear a turned-around collar, mixing the two can be a career-changer. It shouldn’t be.

But, as Ms. Evans writes, “Millennials want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in care of our world and becoming peacemakers. You can’t hand us a latte, go about business as usual and expect us to stick around.”

At the end of any hour-long worship service, congregations walk back out into the other world where they’ll spend 167 other hours before meeting again next week. For one hour. Many will either find their belief system challenged by a world of politics or their politics caught up in their beliefs. Some will try to reconcile the two – some will simply be confused.

Without trying to convert votes like souls, churches have a responsibility of spirituality of citizenship for the family and body as they do for preparing us for life everlasting. We turn to religion for comfort, for perspective, for truth, for relief, for sustenance, for meaning, for the outreach it provides to make us more well-rounded creatures of God.

But, our lives are lived overwhelmingly in a secular world. If churches don’t help us understand and become more comfortable with our surroundings and decisions in that world, they’re avoiding a responsibility to help us become better individuals. We don’t need to be told whom to vote for or what to vote against. We don’t need to be told what Jesus would do. We don’t need to be given lectures about political issues.

If approached in an open, moderate manner – if reasoned discussion can make us better informed – if acceptance of other’s views can be allowed as equally important as our own – if new associations can be made between our American systems of governance and our faith to create more informed, more intelligent participants – the worlds of religion and politics can be very compatible. And we may be better for the experience in both our worlds.