Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

A too-slim majority

Author: admin

We’ve been hearing for a couple of years now that our country is “divided,” “broken,” “fractured,” “splintered” and that current society is “tribal.”

All of those descriptions seem mostly accurate. Signs of strain, fractured will and stress are everywhere.

The most recent evidence is in many of the outcomes of our recent national elections. While some candidates and ballot issues were decided by solid majorities – Idaho’s Governor and Medicaid expansion for example – such one-sided results were rare.

I didn’t look at all national races, but in the 63 I did examine, 57 were decided by less that three-percent – many by tenths of a point. Yes, Democrats picked up the U.S. House. They needed 23 wins. They got 30. In a body of 435, hardly a landslide. If a few don’t follow caucus instructions on whatever the vote is about on any given day, that majority can evaporate. The new majority “whip” is going to be kept busy.

Less than a one point separation is likely to give Florida a Republican governor and, less than two-points, a senator. Same margains in Texas with Cruz over O’Rourke. Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, California, Nevada and more had Senate and House victories by two and three points. Or less. Many state races and ballot issues were squeakers. Arizona is still counting Senate votes. No winner in Alabama Governor yet, either.

“Well, Rainey, a win is still a win,” you say. “What’s the matter with you?”

I see several “matters.”

For one, like Jack Kennedy faced, when one of these squeaker winners walks down the street, that person has to realize nearly one of every two people passing by voted against her/him. So much for a mandate. So much for real constituent support.

Another example. Legislating. If your majority in a congressional or legislative body is around one-percent or so, keeping your “horses” going in the same direction on significant issues is very difficult. Especially issues of conscience. Think Supreme Court candidates, budgeting or abortion rights. Without the heft of a solid majority, such issues are often near-impossible to settle.

There are many folks still saying we must stop speaking ill of each other – must stop the arguing and fighting – must return to a “kinder, gentler time.” Must “come together.” “Love your enemy” and all that.

It seems to me we’ve gone too far down the national road of vitriol, hate and division for any of that to be effective. We’ve got a serial liar president with millions of supporters who say “Sure, he lies, but he says what’s on his mind, he’s not a politician and I like that.” When what’s “on his mind” is constant lying about everything, how do you reach those people?

Another example. During exit polling in Florida, the question CNN put to voters, regardless of party affiliation – or none – was “Which national party do you want controlling Congress?” The answer? Dead even at 49% for each. How do you create effective governance out of that?

Other exit interviews on just about any issue or candidate there were many similar near-tie responses, regardless of what region of the country was involved. If you take nearly any national issue, you’ll find just about a 50-50 split. A few choruses of “Kum-ba-yah” will not heal our coast-to-coast ills.

Seems to me we’re in a situation similar to what Quakers in this country faced during the Civil War. They made gallant efforts to stick to their pacifist culture and stay out of the fighting for a long time. But, eventually, many of them realized they’d lose that culture and all they had if they didn’t take up arms. So, many of them did. They joined up and helped overpower the enemy.
(http://ramwebs.wcupa.edu/jones/his480/reports/civilwar.html)

We’re now faced with significant threats to all our culture. To our peace and tranquility. To our chosen way of life. Even to preserving the Republic.

The sources of those threats are many. Politicians more concerned with continued public-trough employment than concerns constituents face. A political party using lies and terrible tactics – some illegal – to gain or keep control in Congress and many states. Millions of Americans divorced from reality by sick rightwing media and “consultant” forces pounding away in a closed environment of lies and half-truths. Millions of citizen naysayers believing their willful ignorance is as good as your factual reality.

There were way too many razor-thin victories in our last election – far too many candidates elected by hundredths-of-a- point to make real progress. The serious – some terrible – issues we face as a country can’t muster a significant majority to solve. The outcome – and the numbers – prove it.

The time for peaceful solutions seems over. It may take a national force-of-will to form the majority needed to get back on the right path. Force-of-will and a few more elections.

Like those Quakers, we may have to join a fight we really don’t want to.

After Tuesday, what?

Author: admin

Well, here we are. One day out from exercising our voting franchise. At least by those who desire to do so. Twenty-four hours from finding out how things shake out politically across the country.

No more polling on this one. No more talking heads with their “best guesses” about what you and I want our nation’s governance to be for the next two years. Back to a media resurrecting regular commercials and public service announcements while corporate accountants total up the windfall from the political ad huckstering.

Yep, we’re back to normal. Not!

Like so many other thoughtful folks, I’ve no idea what normal is now or what it will be in the future. “Normal” isn’t anymore. It’s been abolished by the political catastrophe of the last couple of years. It’s been erased from our lives by the cacophony of lies, betrayal of the public trust, demagoguery on a scale we’ve never seen in our political affairs, a spineless Congress ignoring the human cost of a presidency of false witness and the widespread national racism more prominent now than ever.

What the Hell is normal now? What will it be after our votes are counted? What will the new political and societal landscapes look like on Wednesday?

Many of us have already voted – in person or by mail. For us, these last weeks have been filled with candidate noise and expensive messaging wasted at our house because we’d already made our decisions. In fact, I haven’t talked to anyone for months who hadn’t already decided who and what to vote for.

The danger in tomorrow’s voting is the widespread ignorance of candidates, issues and even process by millions of folk living under the Trump spell. They know what they know but, for many, they have no idea what they don’t know. They’ve swallowed a constant diet of lies, half-truths and fantasies cooked up by Trump and their favorite rightwing media. They listen to no one who’s messages are more grounded in reality and fact.

Example: The other night, I watched an interview of a woman in her 70’s. Cherub face, big smile. Probably someone’s kindly grandma. Atop her silver hair was a stovepipe hat in red, white and blue with small America flags on either side. She was asked if she still supported Trump.

“Oh, yes,” she said excitedly. “He’s trying to protect us from all those criminals who want to cross our borders. People with MS-13 tattoos on their arms. They’ve got guns and other weapons. The President is trying his best to protect us.”

Sweet, she may be. But, absolutely divorced from the reality of the thousands of families fleeing death and violence in search of unknown and uncertain futures. Futures that might mean jails, new forms of violence and even separation. Those “criminals.”

The reporter didn’t try to correct her. Why should she? The lady was absolutely sure of her “facts.”

Trump is believed to have some 30-million supporters – many like Granny. Like the rest of us, many of them will be voting tomorrow, too. They’ll mark their ballots with certainty as we all do. They’ll want their voices heard as we all do. But, they’ll do that armed with their own “facts” created for them by Trump and the far right media barrage.

They’ll vote under the influence of a verbal “stew” of lies, racism, anti-Semitism, fear of the unknown and false prophesies. The fruit of their “reality” will go into the same universal ballot box into which we cast votes based on our version of reality. Their vote will have equal weight in the outcome. One ballot cast, we hope, informed. The other, it appears, deformed. But, equal.

So, back to the question: what will our future look like? Out of that mixture of fact versus “facts,” what will be the outcome? What will be our direction? What will be the new normal?

We’ll have the picture tomorrow. I pray it’ll be reality-based.

It won’t be over

Author: admin

Historically, elections are supposed to settle things. Winners celebrate and get on with life. Losers pay the bills and put away their signs. Until next time. But, this one’s different.

This country has not experienced an election like this in my long lifetime. When it’s over, it won’t be over. Bitterness, tribalism, deep racial and social divisions will continue. In Congress and in our individual lives.

Trump’s not on the ballot, they say. But he is. The continual chaos he’s caused in our national governance is present in nearly every race. His gross, demeaning and lying conduct of his tenure can be found in all manner of places.

The most obvious, of course, will be the new balance of power in the Congress. A reconstituted Congress that’s bowed to his will for two years may – may – find a raised voice of authority with many new members. Still, we’ll see further divisions. Democrats seem headed to the majority in the House. But, the Senate will probably continue Republican dominance, though only by a vote or two. Gridlock.

Appropriations legislation, for instance, must start in the House. So, a Democrat majority will muscle through its figures and a GOP majority in the Senate will bury ‘em. Impeaching of the President, if such occurs, must start in the House. If such a move is successful, the Senate is where the subsequent trial takes place. Can you see McConnell allowing that to happen?

Also, in the House, win or lose, Speaker Ryan will be gone. If Republicans keep the majority, tell me who the next Speaker will be. No one can answer that. And GOP party leadership? There are no obvious candidates and the screwed up “Freedom Caucus” will fight anyone of moderate stripe. It’ll be a bloodbath whether the GOP is dominant or not.

Current Democrat leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Check Schumer, are sure to be challenged. Splits in the party which, heretofore have been lightly plastered over, will become deeper and more public. The present Dem caucus is fairly centrist. But, the left is likely to make some electoral gains which could shift the balance. There will be more women in the mix. New voices for change.

In state races, again, the presence of Trump and divisions are in both parties from coast-to-coast. The current Independent
Party governor of Alaska, for example, has quit his campaign, endorsing the Democrat saying the Republican is too extreme and his election would not be in the state’s “best interests.”

In several federal and states races, current officeholders – some charged with felonies or even convicted of felonies – are on ballots trying to get back to the public trough. Even some awaiting trial!

Arizona’s Senate race is a catfight and, whomever wins, the state loses. The qualifications bar has been set so low you’ve got to dig to find it. One says the other is “guilty of treason” and the other says her opponent “lies about everything.” Some choice.

Republicans in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, North Dakota and South Carolina are disenfranchising minority voters – literally – by the busload. Hundreds of thousands. Should their despicable efforts prevail, all residents of those states will pay millions of tax dollars in sure-to-come court challenges. Political and racial divisions will further divide and weaken state and local governments.

It’s fair to say that many national and state divisions existed pre-Trump. Some for generations. Even he can’t be blamed for every woe. But, it’s also fair to say he’s used sledgehammers – verbal, political and otherwise – to divide, split, inflame, vilify and reap chaos on this nation. The effects of his manic presidency can be found on the ballots in state after state.

Barring full impeachment, Trump will be around for two more years. He’ll continue to assault public institutions, relentlessly campaign for adoring crowds who haven’t discovered his inevitable self-destructive and amoral ways. He’ll continue his efforts to undermine the entire Federal judicial system. There’ll be more threats against people who oppose him. His ignorance of politics, history and governance won’t change. His in-your-face profiteering from his high office will continue.

No, this election won’t be over when it’s over. Voters may make some much-needed changes in the makeup of Congress. They may have their voices more clearly heard by a Congress that’s turned its back on overwhelming public choices on issues. We might even see a few converts among the re-elected miscreants.

Regardless of voter feelings and demands, November 7, 2018, will likely look a whole lot like November 5th. The only sense of satisfaction we may get from voting is that we tried to make ourselves heard and were successful in a few places.

But, it will be far from over.

Because we can

Author: admin

“Before we work on artificial intelligence,
why don’t we do something about natural stupidity?

This bit of doggerel appeared on the old computer machine the other day and got me thinking some serious thoughts. Thoughts like, just because new tools of our technologically-driven world allow us to do things not previously possible, should we?

After some considerable thought, my answer is, “No. Not always.”

While humankind traditionally embraces discovery and new ways of living, in some cases, we’ve found ourselves with the ability to “do” without asking “Now that we can, should we?” “Do we understand what we’re doing?”

The current ability to keep brain-dead and other near-terminal bodies alive is one such instance in which technology has made something possible but we’ve not yet developed solid ethics to answer the question “Should we?

Or, we can clone animals. This naturally leads to the query, “What about humans?” To which we should immediately further ask, “Should we?”

Scientists at M-I-T have disclosed they’ve bred lab rats that age in reverse! Now, we’ll see public clamor to try it on humans. Is someone – anyone – going to quickly and loudly ask “Should we?”

Not many folks remember Josef Mengele – Doctor Mengele. He was assigned to the Auschwitz prison camp in 1942, and contributed to the deaths of millions of Jews. But, his real Nazi “fame” came from his ghastly experiments to develop a “master race.” Pictures, published after World War II, showed the depth of depravity of his “work.” It’s still impossible to understand why someone – anyone – would have submitted thousands to such brutality.

Mengele told the Nazi hierarchy he could create the “master race” through medically inhumane means. But no one asked, “Should we?”

Extreme case? Yes. Definitely. But it brutally teaches us that we – as humans – are capable of trekking off into uncharted domains without considering necessary ethics to deal with such issues and without asking “Should we?

Now, we’re faced with “artificial intelligence.” Developers are boldly touting what it will do for us – how it will change our lives for the better – how it will advance our “civilization.”

As a nation – as a world – we should just as loudly be asking “Yes, we can, but should we?” I’ve not heard of anyone or any serious intellectual body raising the issue of developing concomitant ethics – rules – standards – limitations – before we dash headlong into this new “computerized world.”

A.I. is not something to necessarily be afraid of. But, the capabilities of this astounding science are so immense we need to figure out what we’re going to do with it – how we’re going to use it – what aspects of it we should pursue – what limitations (and how many and for what) we should adopt.

In a very real sense, A.I. amounts to humans turning over many “duties” that have traditionally been our responsibilities – our tasks – our ways of living – to inanimate, but very intelligent, machines.

Is anyone truly asking which responsibilities, which tasks, which real world ethics we should apply? Is anyone looking at limitations – what failsafe protections we need to develop before we rush into this new ”Utopia?”

I don’t hang around the M-I-T labs on a regular basis. Nor am I on mailing lists of other major research institutions. So, some of what’s happening in these “lofty towers” may be getting past me.

But, I’d like to think that, as we consider what to do with this new science, someone – many someone’s – are toiling with the simple but world-changing question: “We can, but should we?”

A Trump positive

Author: admin

Never thought the day would come – at least in this lifetime – I’d give Donald Trump credit for anything positive. Just seemed absolutely impossible. But, while that “credit” is awfully tangential, it’s his nonetheless.

Hold that thought. A bit of background is required.

The Governor of Connecticut Legislature has signed into law legislation allowing that state to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). A mouthful, to be sure. But, it’s important.

NPVIC was formed several years ago to make an end run around existing federal law in the way the Electoral College works. Presently, each state has the same number of College votes as it does members of Congress. Idaho, for example, has four – two Representatives and two Senators. Oregon has seven; Washington 12, California 55, Texas 38 and so on.

Currently, if a presidential candidate amasses an Electoral College vote total 270 in several large states, the popular vote winner could lose. In reality, we’d have a minority president. Trump-Clinton. Bush-Gore.

What the Compact represents is states changing their own laws so the popular vote winner is the real winner in future presidential elections. If the Compact can reach the 270 vote total – the same Electoral College number a presidential candidate has to get to win now – future races would go to the popular vote victor. Minus considerable legal challenges to that end run.

With the addition of Connecticut, the Compact currently has 172 electoral votes coming from California, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and D.C.. So, the hunt is on for a total of 98 more. A few “biggies” like Ohio (18), Texas (38), Michigan (16) and Florida (29) could put things “over-the-top.”

While there many folk – corporate and political – who don’t want to change – and many reasons (or excuses) for not doing so – the one indisputable argument on the table is simple: all other elections – for anything – are decided by the majority of the most votes cast. Period. The presidency is the only contest – from dog catcher to Congress – in which the majority can – as we’ve seen recently – lose the race.

“What’s that got to do with giving credit to Trump,” you ask?

Since the 2016 election, according to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, more states are asking for information about the Compact and more research is being done on how to draft legislation.

As Connecticut State Rep. Mathew Lesser put it in debate, “The Trump victory appears to have given the issue some added momentum.”

Thanks, Donny! You’ve been a big help.
 

For years, pollsters have found a majority of Americans have little trust in their national media. In many instances, the positive percentages of those questioned about fairness, accuracy and impartiality have hovered below 30-percent or so. I’m not willing to accept those numbers at face value.

One reason for my scepticism is pollsters often don’t define the word “media” before asking their questions. Consider some of the larger outfits in that business – Gallup, Pew, etc. Many of their queries are about media “in general” which leaves responses open to interpretation. On occasion, if they specify which media, further questioning often avoids other sources – mass media, radio, TV, print or “social media.”

And therein lies one reason for my distrust of most such surveys. What about “social” media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like? Given the high percentages of folks – especially those age 40 and under – who get most of their information from such, are those sources broken out from print and broadcast media in polling? Seldom.

Four important factors to consider here. First, nearly none of what appears in “social” media is edited for accuracy, sourcing or even truth. There are no checks on whether the information is reliable. Given the huge number of people who have no idea how businesses operate – or even how their own government functions – you’re on your own when it comes to whether you believe what’s been read or told. That can, in turn, affect how a person sees all media.

Second, if pollsters don’t specifically breakout which media is being asked about – which, in my checking, is all too often the case – responses will be skewed. Comparing a Facebook post to The Washington Post makes responses invalid. One is checked, cross-checked and heavily edited. The other is totally unedited, unchecked and, often, a bogus source.

Third, many folks tend to gravitate to media that agree with their viewpoints because they reinforce what they already believe. They routinely avoid the ones that don’t. For those doing that consistently, they’re not exposed to new or different facts and, thus, cling to information that may be comfortable but also old or wrong. People who rely on Fox, for example, are fed a steady diet of disinformation – much of it edited to skew things to false “facts.”

Finally, another factor skewing polling is the issue of what the word “news” means to both the pollster and the “pollee.” Unless there’s some major disaster or important world event at the moment, CNN, MSNBC and Fox have little to no news after 4pm MST. It’s mostly opinion mixed with a few facts. Much of it is reporters talking to reporters or others favorable to the networks point-of-view. It’s not “news.” But, pollsters don’t always differentiate news from opinion in their questions. So, if the responder doesn’t like a certain opinion source, is that person conflating opinion with news?

I’m certainly not opposed to polling. Far from it. But, before taking results at face value, one needs to know how the question is asked and if questioner and responder are clear on the meaning of terms they’re using.

I think most of us have a higher trust of national media than a lot of polls indicate. But that’s just my opinion. Certainly not news. Just so we’re clear.

A very sorry mess

Author: admin

It’s absolutely impossible to look back on last week’s Senate Judiciary hearing with anything but disappointment, shock, anger and disgust.

Regardless of how one feels about the nominee, the entire proceedings were shameful. Members of the panel more than characterized the divisions in this nation. By their noxious, immovable and completely partisan behavior during the whole sorry affair, new and horrendous political and societal fissures were created that won’t heal in a generation. If ever. In the process, Republicans, especially, ignored the time-honored method of selecting, vetting and impartially examining merits of a U.S. Supreme Court pick.

Against the knowledgeable and politically accurate advice of his own Majority Leader, and with deadly malice aforethought, the president lit the fuse. He turned the selection process over to a right wing think tank after placing his own asterisk by Brent Kavanaugh’s name.

There was no vetting process. Documents were secreted. Outlandish attempts were made to conceal important information about the nominee’s legal career and personal history. Millions of dollars were spent on a whitewash ad campaign. Republican members of the committee staff were openly partisan and blocked attempts of Democrat counterparts to develop and present their own findings.

The nation has seen the outcome. Two badly damaged people, pitted against each other like gladiators in some coliseum, encouraged by partisans to “do battle” as witnesses. The whole damned thing should never have been allowed to proceed after the first wisps of smoke appeared in the candidate’s background.

The prostituted process lacked the one ingredient that could have saved the whole sorry affair: a thorough FBI check into the various claims arising from the nominee’s past. A week’s impartial examination – maybe even only a few days – could have produced necessary information for the Committee to make a just and informed recommendation. Republicans repeatedly refused anyone who asked. They, uniformly, would not yield to even common sense.

There is now an FBI investigation in progress. But, look at the cost of the accumulated wreckage. Look at the career and personal damage to witnesses and politicians alike. All of it – all of it – could have been avoided.

There’s enough blame in this whole sorry mess to go around. Democrats also played a role in fouling the deal.

But, Republicans are in charge. They have the dominant numbers. They have the gavel. They call the tune – set the stage – direct the show. They have complete responsibility that goes with all those facts. To our everlasting shame, with the world watching, they conducted this demonstration of barbarous partisanship and may have set despicable “standards” for future judicial proceedings.

You can choose to believe the accuser(s). You can believe the nominee. But, one thing you must personally believe was the visible demonstration of intemperance, overwrought emotions, combativeness and deep anger displayed by Kavanaugh. Then, regardless of political outlook, you have to ask yourself “Are those characteristics ones you want sitting in judgement on all issues brought before the U.S. Supreme Court?” What if it’s your “issue?” How trusting would you be your issue would be judged impartially?

Finally, the entire tragedy could have been avoided with the selection of someone not carrying the baggage of years of political partisanship. Someone characterized by demonstrated legal acuity, possessed of emotional and other personal traits desired in a Justice of the highest court. Someone known by peers to be capable of withstanding the pressures and rigors of serving on a panel carrying the full weight of one-third of this nation’s constitutional governance.

This tragic affair could have been avoided if those charged with conducting the matter had relied on tradition, rules, common sense, compassion and law. They did not.

Regardless of the outcome of November’s election, the bad feelings, anger, resentment, emotional damage and political ruptures will linger. For a long, long time.

Divisions are expensive

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taking a knee

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not who but what

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m just sayin’.