Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

Advertising for “active senior” communities usually depicts a silver-haired couple or two, golfing, playing tennis or lounging around some palm-studded oasis featuring a huge pool. “Retirement adventures.”

For many, that portrayal says everything they’re looking for is “Nirvana for the taking” and is immediately available in California, Nevada, Florida or, as in our case, Arizona.

But, there’s another side. One we’ve come to know living in one of three Del Webb communities that are “cheek-by-jowl” which total some 90,000 of us “silver-haired” folk.

People who move here may be in their 50’s, 60’s or 70’s. Ready to dive into that “active” retirement, doing all the things they promised themselves they’d get do someday. And, nearly all “go for it.”

But, we get older. We get weaker. We grow more susceptible to the physical and mental changes aging brings about. While communities like ours may be filled with wonderful facilities and golf courses every few blocks, as our years stack up, we often find our “new” physical limitations make us spectators rather than “active” participants.
Medical care in these communities is usually first-rate and, with Medicare – and possibly a “medigap” policy – it’s all available on a moment’s notice. From sniffles to sophisticated surgery, we’ve got it. In abundance.

Over the last few years, Barb and I have spent some time in various medical waiting rooms. And, we’ve seen a lot of those formerly “active, silver-haired” seniors who aren’t so “active” anymore. We’ve experienced the other side – the down side – of senior community retirement living. It’s something those attractive ads leave out.

When you lump some 90,000 seniors together, you get a steady progression to the end of life. Some may eventually move elsewhere in the country to be near family for assistance. A few more have enough resources to hire the best home care support. But, without those options, you’re pretty much on your own. Sitting in waiting rooms can be damned difficult as you see so many people suffering from every ailment known to man. Up to and including near total incapacity.

The “other side” of retirement communities is not advertised. You can spend years playing golf, pickleball, shuffleboard, swimming, working on exercise devices and enjoying hundreds of clubs for just about every hobby you ever heard of. But, the “new faces” will become the “old-timers” and the “old-timers” will eventually become the frail elderly.

We are surrounded with first-class medical care, several hospitals catering to geriatric medicine and a wealth of specialists for every ailment. But, the plain fact is, there is an end to “retirement.”

There are five main entrances to Sun City Grand and Sun City West. I’ve often chuckled that, outside two of them, you’ll find two funeral homes. Just outside. Waiting. Plus four more “on campus.”

Some folks find humor no matter the downside. One of the funeral parlors offers monthly “pre-need” sessions. At each, they serve pizza. “Pizza and pre-need,” it’s called. If you can’t find humor in planning funerals while eating pizza, you’re probably too old to live here.

For months, there was a huge billboard in the middle of our community that read “COMPLETE CREMATION JUST $695.” Why it needed the word “complete” is beyond me. Folks talked about asking the proprietor what you get for $475?

A joke going around these communities of senior living has a couple in their 90’s meeting with an attorney to file for divorce. “Why now, after all these years,” the lawyer asks? “We wanted to wait until the children died,” was the response.

Not funny? Maybe. Tasteless? Could be. But, if you’re in your 80’s or 90’s and retirement isn’t “fun-and-games” anymore, you’ve gotta laugh at something. Even yourselves and your conditions.

Getting into your last years is a most personal experience. Different for each of us. Even if you’re been a caregiver for a loved one – even if you’ve been a healthcare professional – someone else’s spinal pain or cancer surgery or even dementia is entirely different when it’s yours. In so many late-in-life experiences, it’s “learn-as-you-go” because it’s your pain or your cancer or your dementia and nobody else can live it for you.

Please don’t read this as a condemnation of retirement communities or even retirement living. It’s just that, when you put 90,000 people in one big plot of land, and when they’re all growing older together, it’s a far different experience than traditionally depicted in those glossy ads.

Unless life is cut short by disease or some fatal event, we’re all heading in one direction. Long life is a privilege not granted to all. Most, who’ve been “allowed” the experience, find parts of it challenging or downright hard to deal with. The “machine” that is our physical being isn’t under warranty. Some of the “breakdowns” can’t be fixed. Each day can present a new obstacle we have to learn to deal with.

The retirement experience can be – and most often is – a good one. For awhile. You meet so many folks that, though strangers, often have a lot in common, even if it’s just the aging process itself. You share things. You remember many of the same things. You do things together to the best of your current abilities.

But, eventually, it’s not retirement anymore. It’s personal experience dealing with issues you’ve never known in the “first person.” End-of-life issues. It’s also a learning experience. How you handle it is all up to you.

You won’t find that in the ads.

Context is everything

Author: admin

A long time ago, author A.D. Garrett – wrote “Context is everything. In a long media life, those words were a sort of Holy Grail for me. Whatever the story – whatever the situation – context was everything.

For sometime now, I’ve been unable to get the tragic story of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam out of my head. He’s accused of either wearing blackface or a Klan hood when in college about 45 years ago. He’s admitted to painting his face with shoe polish or something similar for a medical school party.

Whatever he did, it’s badly affected his political career. As it should. But, how badly? Will he be a one-term governor? Is he being held to a false standard?

I would say “Yes” to both.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m neither a racist nor an anti-Semite. Never have been. But, have I done or said racist things? Certainly. So, too, I would guess, have you. Have I accepted racist portrayals or laughed at racist portrayals. I have. So, too, I would guess, have you.

Faced with changing moral values and social mores, we’re constantly asked to accept where we are and what’s acceptable today and not where we were and what was acceptable yesterday.

Consider: In the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, the most intelligent and brilliantly written show on television was “MASH.” Weekly, we followed the comedic but thoughtful Korean War adventures of Hawkeye, Trapper John, Frank Burns and Hotlips. Masterly crafted comedy with a continuing subtle – but very strong – anti-war message.

In the first years of “MASH,” there were four doctors in “The Swamp.” Three surgeons and an anesthetist who happened to be a Black man. Do you remember the anesthetists character name? “Spearchucker.” “Spearchucker” Jones. While we nationally enjoyed the series for its humor and well-developed characters, we didn’t give a thought to an obviously racist name that was used in our living rooms for several years. The ‘70’s. When Northam was partying.

Each December at our house, we watch a seasonal movie called “White Christmas.” Released in 1954, it’s become a sort of classic musical companion to “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I’ve seen it dozens of times and it’s on my top 10 list.

It was full of brilliantly staged musical numbers. The kind you hardly see anymore. About midway through “White Christmas” there’s one with Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye. Very prominent. With Crosby and Kaye in blackface and a cast of other blackface actors sitting toward the rear of the stage. It was called the “Minstrel Show” number on a production “call” board.” You probably read it, watched the scene and thought nothing about. Just like me. In the ‘50’s.

In the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, two of the biggest comedic stars were Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor – both of whom used blackface in their movies and vaudeville shows. Nobody made a big deal out of it. Under the makeup, it was just Jolson and Cantor. Characters we readily accepted.

Context. Commonly known people with labels and mannerisms we just accepted – because it was then. Not now.

Now, we like to think of ourselves as “enlightened.” We don’t accept those “relics of our past.” We’re wiser, smarter, more aware of what’s proper – what’s “the right thing.”

But, consider. About 75 years ago, acting as a nation, we drove entire families of Japanese-Americans out of their homes – confiscated their businesses and other property. And, we trucked them off to barbed wire compounds in isolated areas of our country and kept them there for years. Most lost everything. But, in 1942, it was “necessary.” It was “proper.” It was “accepted.”

Later – much later – we acknowledged what we did then was wrong. It was racist. It was unnecessary. And, as a nation, we said “Never again!”

I happen to live in a state that borders Mexico. Enough said.

“Context is everything.”

What happens if …

Author: admin

I’ve harbored a thought for some time that’s seemed like pure fantasy but now others in the opinin’ business are talking about it. Even the loquacious George Will. Something that’s never happened in our system of government. But, it might.

Suppose D. Trump either doesn’t get to finish his term for some constitutional – or criminal – reason or he loses at the polls in 2020. Will he walk peacefully out of the White House?

Or, if he makes it to the 2020 election, and he loses, will he accept the results and step aside? Ex-Presidents always have. But, would he?

Talk about a “constitutional crisis!”

Now, you can add another voice to that thesis: Michael Cohen. In last week’s testimony at a congressional hearing, he said “Given my experience of working for Mr. Trump, I fear that, if he loses the election in 2020, there will never be a peaceful transition of power.” BOOM!

We’ve always prided ourselves on the ability to elect one or more candidates to office and change administrations without a fuss. Even in the worst of times, we’ve always transitioned and kept right on going.

Out here in the desert, I’m beginning to think the odds of Trump acknowledging a loss at the polls are about 60-40 no.

He’s said before – in 2018 – he wouldn’t accept losing. “Election fraud” and “voter fraud” and all that. A number of times, he’s railed against all sorts of imaginary enemies and promised, if the results went against him, he’d ignore them.

There are several options to enforce an election outcome. One is in the Electoral College. But, suppose some delegates refuse to follow the popular vote at home and vote their own way. It’s happened before but only in small instances. Remember, too, Trump lost the popular vote in 2016 but still won the election. In that same Electoral College.

Then, there’s Congress. Congress must verify election results. But, the basis on which to do so is – wait for it – what’s certified by the Electoral College. Would the present Congress refuse to verify? Would Congress authorize a second election? Could it? Very, very deep constitutional waters there.

How about the courts? Would our Supreme Court step in? Happened with Bush-Gore and the Florida outcome. Would SCOTUS tell Congress to do it all over or accept the numbers it has. Would Trump accept a loss in a court decision?

And, how about a possible faceoff at the White House front door. What would the Secret Service and the FBI do? After January 20, 2020, Trump may not be president but will he leave?

Then, there’s the possibility of a nervous military.

I know all this is imaginary at the moment. A lot of rambling by an old guy. But, I’m not the only one with an imagination fueled by Trump. Some of the national writers are moving the possibility of a Trump refusal to vacate from discussions at the corner watering hole to the pages of respectable media forums. And there’s Cohen.

In his own disastrously mercurial way, Trump has operated as if the rest of the world was his personal fiefdom. He’s ignored protocols, treaties, contracts and, in some cases, even the law. He’s made enemies of friends and supposedly “friends” of enemies. Wildly unpredictable. He also has a following of some 30-million or so folks that have and will likely continue to support him in whatever he does.

So, maybe a little speculation about Trump refusing to accept the outcome of losing re-election to our nation’s highest office is not totally farfetched. Maybe it’s worth thinking just a bit about the possibility. What if………

A chain under pressure

Author: admin

The armed services of this country like to heckle each other about this and that. Usually, good natured ribbing about “superiority” of one branch over the other. Although, sometimes not quite so “good natured.” Depends on the amount of beer consumed.

But, there’s one foundational system that drives all and which makes each effective: the chain of command. It starts at the top and flows in a straight vertical line from Commander-in-Chief to Secretary of Defense to Joint Chiefs to the commanders of the various services and down from there. If you’re in the military, you quickly learn the drill and you religiously abide by it. Failure to do so is not an option.

At least that’s how its always been. Maybe now, not so much.

Donald Trump’s world, to him and only him, is one in which he can do anything – say anything – demand anything and do so without considering the resulting repercussions or bad effects. But, only in his world. The rest of us know – it ain’t so.

Trump’s dangerous words and disastrous touch have screwed up, crippled and damaged many parts of our Republic. His ignorance of how government works, his lies, his broken promises, his lack of understanding of America’s role in the world have created monumental problems. He’s trampled international relationships, turned his back on historic treaties, reduced our standing among nations and tried to create new alliances with our enemies.

Now, with the same deliberate ignorance, he may be creating dangerous problems within our military. And for that chain-of-command element that’s been the backbone of all successful militaries.

Historically, when the President issues orders to the Defense Department, there is a loud clicking of heels, a quick “Yes, Sir” and immediate action. Thanks to Trump’s failure to understand the system and the rules – and refusal to learn – we’re seeing possible ruptures.

I first noticed it when he ordered up that military parade in his honor. In the following weeks, some DOD and military voices were heard grumbling and rebelling. There was no heel clicking, no snappy “Yes, Sir,” and no action The eventual response was the Pentagon putting a price tag on such an event that was so outrageous even Trump had to back down. Military resistance.

Now, more open resistance appearing in “the chain.” Trump ordered troops to our border with Mexico to turn back or arrest thousands of civilians – men, women and children – if they tied to cross that line. Shoot, if necessary.

A couple of days later, secure documents, created for Defense Department “eyes only,” were leaked to several news outlets. Much of the information contained was the usual organizational stuff dealing with troop movements. But, there were also portions – especially dealing with cost and subtle questioning of the use of trained military for such a purpose – that appeared critical of the venture. In effect, more resistance in the chain-of-command.

Some were willing to take up arms to follow that very questionable order. But, there seemed to be a sizeable contingent within DOD that didn’t want to; that believed it was not good use of money and manpower. Joint Chiefs finally agreed to send, but not to arrest, shoot, threaten or confront. Only to support U.S. Border Patrol and other law enforcement. Quiet but direct resistance. Again.

And this. Former Defense Secretary Mattis went public to say “The military doesn’t do things for show.” Not entirely true. (See Navy Blue Angels, Army Golden Knights, USAF Thunderbirds, etc.) But, the fact he felt the need to say so after public anger and military document leaking, could indicate Trump’s order created some interior negative military feedback he felt the need to address.

Now, military works of fiction in books and movies might be good entertainment. It may be memorable for Commander Denzel Washington to challenge the shipboard authority of Captain Gene Hackman. Good fiction. But not in real life. Not appearances of reluctance by some in DOD to follow an order of the Commander-in Chief. Might not be a wise order but an order nonetheless.

It’s not my intent here to warn the generals and admirals are plotting a government coup. But, when cracks of resistance appear within the chain-of-command – no matter the order – it’s worrisome.

Trump has proven himself incapable of exercising proper presidential authority because he doesn’t know how. He’s repeatedly proven himself unable to sustain relationships with his own staff, his appointees and even Congress. He’s made unwise decisions, taken inappropriate – and sometimes illegal – actions. He’s threatened, bullied and lied so much that polling shows less than half of us believe or trust him.

With such evidence on the table, it’s no wonder signs of discontent and reluctance to follow his orders are beginning to appear publically in the Pentagon and elsewhere. After all, the Americans who make up the military are like the rest of us. They have their own opinions, too.

A rigid chain-of-command is the spine that holds the military upright and functional. Always has been. It would be wise for all of us to keep close watch on the Oval Office-Department of Defense relationship. Trump has been savaging other parts of our government. His ill-advised actions may be showing up there, too.

Don’t impeach Trump

Author: admin

Words I never thought I’d write. Or say. But, to all members of Congress, “Please, don’t impeach Donald Trump!”

While growing evidence is proving Trump to be a consummate full-time liar, multiple adulterer, proven deadbeat and much, much more, “Please don’t impeach the bastard! Please!”

Though he appears to be a lawbreaker, a lousy president and a collaborator with the Russians, please keep Trump around till the 2020 general election so we voters can put an end to him and his entire cadre of self-dealers, misfits and crooks. Please!

In defense of my plea, I offer the only two words for keeping Trump in place until 2020: Mike Pence.

While Trump appears to have woven a web of lies, double-dealing, debauchery and massive money manipulation before, during and after his election, “Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” We know the devil we have and many steps are underway to deal with his miscreant – and possibly criminal – ways.

Pence’s history strongly indicates voters in Indiana only had him for governor for three years but were preparing to throw him out in his re-election bid in 2016. Campaign polling showed he would have been a “one-termer” when Trump reached down and pulled him off the highway before he became political roadkill.

In only three years as governor, Pence continually fought losing battles on just about everything he tried to do. Like the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in his first year. It was definitely anti-LGBTQ. Pence tried everything to get it through but, in the end, he had to strike some of the prejudicial language. He still found himself losing votes of some GOP legislators. Upon eventual passage, several large companies either cancelled plans for Indiana expansion or trimmed back existing operations.

He signed a doomed anti-abortion bill which would have – had it survived an inevitably successful court challenge – made Indiana the first state with a nearly complete abortion ban. Two court decisions killed it.

Pence tried to create a state media propaganda network called “JustIN.” He wanted state employees, paid by taxpayers, to write material for “small media that couldn’t afford news staffs.” Even Indiana politicians and the media didn’t buy that. The reaction from one major newspaper was a headline reading “Pravda In The Plains.” “JustIN”died.

He signed bills he wanted cutting $15-billion from colleges and universities, social services and corrections in just one budget year. Several major corporations, citing a bad business climate, left Indiana for other climes. Better business climes.

Pence had a number of his vetoes overridden in the legislature. In one, nearly all Republican members voted against him.

He tried to have the NRA contract to train Illinois teachers and other state employees to use firearms. Again, even Republicans in his heavily Republican legislature stopped him cold.

He lost two congressional House races but eventually served for 12 years, quitting to run for governor. His congressional sponsorship “successes” amounted to little besides naming a couple of post offices. He was nearly always tied to some ultra-conservative effort and found most of his support coming from right-wing groups.

Pence’s oft- pronounced Evangelical views have made him a target for controversy and even ridicule when solidly backing Trump. He’s managed to be an outspoken supporter though Trump’s lifestyle, moral vagaries and proven sleazy business practices are an anathema to many Evangelicals.

In short, Pence’s limited political experience, his proclivity to nearly always support far-right people and causes, past rejection by even his own party leaders, his hypocrisy of proclaiming high moral standards while backing a president seemingly devoid of such doesn’t auger well for successful presidential material.

There are indications Pence has been a subject of some of the Mueller investigation involving Russian political activity. So far, no public indication one way or the other. But, some Republicans have expressed the thought that, should Pence be tied to such, HE should be impeached.

Now, that could make some sense. Especially if you’re O.K. with a President Nancy.

Getting the act together

Author: admin

The Women’s March seems to be in trouble. And that’s too bad.

Various ethnic and economic groups are struggling against each other instead of enhancing the wonderful diversity represented by the entire movement thus far. Some financial backers have withdrawn support for one reason or another. Even some state offshoots are squabbling.

The group’s initial outpouring in Washington D.C. was something nearly miraculous. So were the contemporary marches in many cities coast-to-coast. Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to show massive solidarity for wholly positive reasons. Representative of dozens of religions and multiple races. Both men and women. Just spectacular.

But, now the group is confronted by the identical problems so many movements face trying to find their footing; trying to find organizational common ground.

It’s similar to problems of the far-right I’ve enjoyed watching for decades. Unhappy and distrusting folks breaking away from the established Republican Party to go their own way because of differences in “philosophy.” Up popped the Birch Society, Liberty Lobby, Tea Party and dozens of splinter groups. “Purity of thought” was the demand of all of them. A single “impure” thought could get you immediately excommunicated.

Then, one by one, they devolved into infighting, name calling and eventual distrust of each other. Which is ironic since it was distrust of the larger political body that created them in the first place. Now, the Republican Party itself is being divided again. Trumpers versus anti-Trumpers. Republican diehards versus Republicans who dislike what the Party has become. Evangelicals versus almost everybody else.

Democrats are not immune to such infighting. At the moment, ultra-liberal voices are trying to pull the national Party to the left. Many mainline Democrats are resisting. Several of the congressional freshmen – or freshwomen – are demanding universal healthcare, free college tuition, guaranteed equality for all and more of the long-held talking points of many in the Democrat Party.

The new struggle facing Democrat leaders is young turks demanding seats at the leadership table. They claim their recent election is a signal for change. And, to some extent, it probably was.

But, these are not normal times. The intransigent GOP in Congress has become a dam, holding back anything our out-of-control president doesn’t approve. Our national legislative body is embroiled in its own internal struggles. Democrat gray-hairs now in charge need support, not dissent and demands from the new folks still trying to figure out where their offices are. Their turn’s coming.

But, back to the Women’s March problems. There’s nothing new in what its leaders are dealing with. It happens every time you try to build a “big tent.” The very factors inherent in assembling an effective organization of disparate interests and backgrounds are the same ones that can create issues.

Then, there’s the added problem someone or some inside subgroup will try to take over – try to control things – try to bend the direction to its own will. Happened to the Tea Party, the Birch Society and other splinter organizations. Lacking a formal structure to provide cohesion, large groups often are eventually ineffective.

Women’s March has a small D.C. staff. It has some financial sponsors. But, state versions are seemingly unconnected and lack both staff and money to do their work. The result is often poor communication or one group finding itself either at cross-purposes with another or reinventing the wheel.

At the moment, the movement is enjoying widespread public acceptance. It projects a togetherness and unity of purpose. It espouses thoughts and feelings of positive, more unifying times to come. All good things. But, such support can disappear if it appears the “cause” is struggling or showing dissent.

The Woman’s March has shown people of disparate thought, differing ethnicity, different political backgrounds – or no political backgrounds – can come together on a national stage to make an important contribution. It signals connectedness instead of division. That, alone, gives it purpose and value.

It’s to be hoped that, whatever internal struggles are going on, wiser heads will prevail to assure both survival and future contributions. As a nation, we are in desperate need of anyone or any representative group representing our better nature.

Racist bargaining

Author: admin

Let’s get this straight up front.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m not a racist – not a bigot – not anti-Semitic – not opposed to how most folks live their lives or with whom. Around our house, it’s “live and let live.”

But, the other evening, something occurred during a news-talk program that brought on a slow boil.

Under discussion were the travails of Virginia Gov. Robert Northam. He’d been accused of posing in either blackface or a KKK outfit during graduation hoorah’s from medical school. At that moment, he had not admitted to being one of the figures in the picture but had profusely apologized for what it represented. As well he should have. But, the story was only a couple of hours old. More details would come.

The panelists on this particular show were Black. Two women and a man. All familiar faces and all successful professionals. The host asked each one in turn what their reactions were to the Northam story. In summary, they were shocked, saddened and, of course, “Northam should resign.”

Their answers, all worded a bit differently but with the same theme, were expected and I agreed with most of what they said. Until one more thing that brought on the boil.

“What can we trade for.” “What leverage does this give us?” “What can we get?” Direct quotes.

They talked about “trading” for more Black legislators. More Black state officials. Better treatment for Black men arrested. New social programs for Black people. All good. But, “trade?”

This came from a Black activist, a Black professor and a Black New York Times columnist. The talk was they could get something to “restore their faith in government,” soothe their anger, gain some better advantage. “Trade for.”

Now, I’m aware of the disadvantages and often bad treatment of minorities. All minorities. Everywhere in the nation. For some, the history of subjugation goes back 200 years or more. We’ve enslaved, imprisoned and, near our southern border, we’re doing it again today.

But, this was the first time I’d heard anyone talk of “trading” with society over someone’s alleged bad actions. With a story only a couple of hours old , and without waiting for more facts, these people were talking of using someone’s bad personal decision to “bargain” for advantage.

That set off other thoughts. Now, eight decades plus and counting, I wondered about my own life at 25 years. Did I do anything 57 years ago I would not like people to know about today? Did I make some bad decisions, participate in some bad activities back then? Did I do or say then anything not acceptable today? Has my behavior changed? Am I making wiser decisions and being more thoughtful, living a more accepting life now?

The answers to all those questions is the same. Yes!

So, what about Northam? What about all the Northam’s out there? Did they act in ways back then that are unacceptable today? Did they just “go along” instead of making all the right moral decisions at that time? What about their lives since then? Do the make better decisions now? Are they still the same people 25 years later? What kind of lives have they led? Are they better, wiser?

I make no excuses for Northam. “What will be will be.” It’ll all shake out. He made a bad choice – probably more than one. The repercussions will be quick, especially since he has risen to high political office. We do – and should – expect better.

In many issues, we seem to react to today’s bad actions by quickly condemning someone or something because they/it violate contemporary life. We seldom place that unacceptable behavior in the context of when it occurred. We use today’s norms rather than those extant at time.

Racism is – and always has been – unacceptable. It’s both a personal and national shame. As it should be.

But, discussions of how public disclosure of some politicians’ bad behavior can be “traded” for some societal benefit is racist, too. Equality is an absolute right. Guaranteed. Talk of bargaining for racial advantage is racist, too.

The census counts

Author: admin

The upcoming 2020 census is important. Damned important!

Given that fact, why are a full one-third of Americans saying they may not fill out forms or answer the questions or are only “somewhat likely” to do so? (See above graph.)

The U.S. Census Bureau has been polling and using focus groups to determine how close we’re likely to get to a nearly complete count next year. And if we don’t, why not? It’s an effort to understand citizen attitudes about the census, what potential barriers to participation are out there and what motivations are for those who don’t intend – or are unlikely – to respond.

The survey reached a national sampling of about 50,000 homes. With a 35-percent response rate, results are well-above an average sample return size and considered reliable. The Bureau also conducted 42 focus group sessions in 14 cities. Every attempt was made to include hard-to-count populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speaking, those with low Internet proficiency, young people who move frequently, rural communities and other populations at low risk of response. Pretty comprehensive effort.

Bottom line, here’s what was learned.

Two-thirds of responders are “extremely likely” or “very likely” to fill out the census form. But, at the same time, many people said they were unfamiliar with the census process with only about a third being “extremely” or “very familiar.”

Five main barriers were found that might prevent people from participating. In order, they were: privacy concerns about data/confidentially; fear of repercussions of some sort (probably regarding residency status); feeling the whole census“doesn’t matter;” distrust in ALL levels of government; belief that completing the census forms might not “benefit me personally.” To me, those last two are sad commentaries on what parts our society have become in some quarters.

Another disturbing finding was this. While funding for public services was a top motivator in respondents, less than half knew the census results were used to determine that community funding. Seems sort of a mental contradiction there.

The Census folks have decided on several steps to deal with issues uncovered in their outreach efforts.

Probably the most expensive (this is government, after all) is the need for an extensive PR campaign (lots of paid advertising, individual mailing and the like) to tell a wide audience of the importance of both the census and its needed participation. Second, there’s a necessity to reach out to the younger population to explain what census taking is, what the process involves and why it’s important for them to be counted. (Secondary teachers and college instructors take note.)

The Bureau also intends to involve local communities to explain how census results benefit them now and in the future. There’ll be an effort to get local leaders to participate in advance publicity.

It’s also apparent just addressing expressed concerns about data collection and privacy alone will not necessarily mitigate those issues. While much of the ad campaign will feature reassurances about privacy and confidentiality, inside the Bureau, it’s not widely believed those worried about such things will be assuaged. Another commentary about the society we live in.

None of the head-counting importance is lost on politicians of all stripes. Legislative and congressional district representation is largely determined by the numbers. Small states like Idaho, Nevada and Utah could see an increase in congressional representation. And, the numbers could greatly influence state legislative districts. Especially if we can draw new lines with some impartial integrity. In other words, put an end to politicians gerrymandering for their own interests and third-party panels using the most reliable statistics available.

Yes, the ten-year count is important. Very important! Which is why that nearly one-third of Americans being “unlikely” or “unwilling” to take part is so discouraging.

One other note: none of the sampling dealt with the unwarranted attempt by the Trump administration to stick a citizenship question into the census-taking. At the moment, a federal judge has blocked use of such a query. But, you can bet the issue is far from dead.

Familiarity and seniors

Author: admin

“All things old are new again”

Nowhere is that old saw more practiced than in a combined senior retirement community of 90,000. Evidence is everywhere.

Probably the most conspicuous evidence is in the cars many folks drive around here. We recently bought a new one with most of the “whistles and bells.” Fits our needs nicely and will for many years.

But, you’d be amazed how many 1970-1990 large, four-door sedans travel our wide streets. Chevy’s, Cadillac’s, Lincoln’s, Buicks, Mercury’s, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, (Yes, Virginia, Mercury’s, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs which haven’t been built in years). And nearly all we’ve seen, so far, are in top shape – inside and out – with high-gloss paint jobs, flawless glass and restored upholstery. Our parking lots often look like classic car shows.

Took awhile to figure out why so many old fellas here are hanging onto these gems of the past. It was only when we recently took delivery of our new model that I figured it out. A 2018 model with so much electronic gadgetry that it came with three owner’s manuals. Three!

There are several good reasons why the beautiful older cars are kept. For one thing, they came with just one owner’s manual. That’s all they needed. They came with buttons and switches – not the icons, multi-function buttons and multiple screens in our newer versions. You could set the heater or turn on and tune the radio by touch without taking your eyes off the road to find the right icon or figure out which function that multi-function screen is currently in or which other screen is needed for what.

Power steering, power brakes, pushbutton windows and air conditioning have been standard fare for decades. So, when it comes to “necessary” equipment, the older cars have all that stuff. But, they don’t require drivers in their 70’s and 80’s – and, I’m sad to say, too often around here in their 90’s – to take electronics courses to get around. They’re paid for, are cheaper to license and insure and – at 4,000-5,000 pounds – ride nicely. And safely. They’re also cheaper to maintain which is why there are so many independent auto shops in the area. Dozens.

When you’re 70 or 80-years-old, you tend to value familiar things, whether it’s friends, food, a well-used recliner or older cars. There are enough senior “challenges” to deal with without trying to learn new vehicle operating systems every time you trade cars.

It isn’t that older folks stop learning. Not here. We’ve got more than 300 clubs involving every hobby and leisure activity you ever heard of. And some you haven’t. Big clubs with all sorts of modern equipment and resources. Adult learning classes with hundreds of offerings available at no or minimal cost. Like five bucks. Met a lady in her ‘80’s the other day. Quickly pushing her walker to get to a free class on iPhones so she could text and stay in touch with her grandkids in New York.

No, these classic vehicles we see so often in our community are not necessarily signs of people avoiding change. They don’t always represent someone’s effort to hold onto the past. Rather, they’re sufficient to today’s senior needs. They’re in prime shape from years of good care and often extensive restoration. They’re dependable. Without all the electronic gadgets and they’re much cheaper to maintain. They’re comfortable and safe.

But, above all, they’re familiar. Drivers who don’t have the reflexes they used to have, don’t see or hear as well as they did in they’re 30’snd 40’s and didn’t grow up with computers and electronic gadgetry, may still be active and alert enough to be behind the wheel.

Their transportation may not have satellite radio or power lift gates or tire pressure monitors or even a sunroof. But, it has a “feel” you can’t find in any showroom. It’s got a responsiveness derived from years of use. It fulfills a basic need with comfort found in familiarity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got that third owner’s manual left to read.

Dems have the hard road

Author: admin

The national political air is full of 2020 talk these days. For both parties.

Ohio Governor John Kasich seems ready to formalize his run against Trump. Jump in early, suck up media attention but, more importantly, get into the pockets of Republican fat cats. Wise move. To some extent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is doing the same with Dems.

The GOP field to take on Trump will be small. But, Democrats are coming out of the trees to float their names around. And that’s healthy. Shake out all the contenders, give ‘em their head and see who’s left by convention time. Like Republicans, they’re looking for big bucks because 2020 will be the most expensive fray ever. It’s also guaranteed to be the dirtiest race in our long history of presidential elections.

Several factors are concerning about all this. The first is Trump himself. Short of being in the slammer by then, when the Muller report comes out – and it will despite expected Republicans all-out effort to stop it – Trump’s immediate fate will be an open question.

Those disclosures will damage him. Whether it sinks his political future, we don’t know today. But, even if he escapes the crossbar hotel in the short term, he’ll still be damaged goods. We don’t know how the Muller results will play with Trump’s vaunted base. Safe to say, there’ll likely be some erosion.

The second concern is, if Trump’s in the race, which is nearly certain despite investigations and trials, and the Democrats decide on a woman candidate. The rest of us see nothing wrong with that. But, as he’s proven in the past, Trump will attempt to savage her. His previous attacks on Hillary Clinton and Warren guarantee a name-calling, how-she-looks-and-dresses, character assassination tirade. He doesn’t like or respect talented women professionals. Except Stormy.

Based on his previous treatment of women, a campaign based on issues will be completely overshadowed by sexually bigoted vitriol. Which the media will repeat ad nauseam.

A third danger is one I hear too many Democrats and “talking heads” repeating. Dems need “someone who can win.” Forget qualifications. Ignore the lack of experience and other necessary credentials. “We need someone who can win.”

Remember 2016? Trump ran against about the most qualified and experienced woman on the planet. A sure winner, right? And what did we get? A non-experienced, definitely unqualified male. Determining “who can win” in advance of actual voting has repeatedly been proven very difficult. Oh, there’s the occasional nutcase candidate everyone knows will lose. But, that’s rare.

Many of the names Democrats are bandying about at the moment clearly lack the necessary experience and breadth of knowledge we want to see in the White House. On that list, I’d put Harris, O’Rourke, Booker, Castro, Swalwell, Gabbard, Bloomberg and Inslee. Pick one with firsthand experience in foreign affairs, military, international economics and proven diplomatic skills. Good people but in need of a broader knowledge of – and experience in – such things.

The short list of very qualified Democrats, at least to me, has the names Biden and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Especially Biden whose long history in the Senate not only includes the above requirements, but also professional – and in some instances – personal relationships with many world figures. In his own long tenure, Brown has had various committee posts that have proven invaluable. He’s also a low-key, soft-spoken thinker – good skills in themselves.

I’m not proposing Biden or Brown be presidential candidates; only pointing out the kind of well-rounded background a suitable nominee ought to have. Biden comes with his own negatives including a case of plagiarizing in the ‘70’s which Trump would use as a political club.

The “someone-who-can-win” approach is a dangerous one. All recent presidents have acknowledged it’s not a “learn-on-the-job” situation. And, regardless of previous political background, they’ve also found the actual conditions of being president were much different from what they expected.

!n 2020, Republicans seem stuck with what they have. Democrats face a much harder path. The “who-can-win” argument versus someone with the all-important experience and knowledge necessary in a good president.

Right now it’s all talk and speculation. But, when the bell rings, Democrats had better have the right man. Or woman. Or both.