Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

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.

A unique skill

Author: admin

The night Donald Trump was elected, I said to Barb, “Before the end of his term, he’ll have pissed off everyone he comes in contact with. Every one.” Being prescient isn’t one of my strong suits but three years of evidence seem to make the case.

From individuals to entire nations, he’s angered them all. He seems to have a real knack for it. But, there’s significant evidence of a growing “push back” of sorts taking place.

Here’s one. General James Mattis. Former Defense Secretary, lifelong Republican and someone whose 40 years of military service have been honored by just about everyone. Except you-know-who.

Those who’ve followed his career know Mattis is Marine down to his camo shorts. A professional who knows intimately – and who lives by – the chain-of-command. An order is given and his answer is always “Yes, Sir.” Even when Trump criticized and belittled him both during and after his Secretary of Defense posting, Mattis kept his military bearing.

But. Mattis has written a book about his career and includes some hints of how he feels about Trump. Not out-and-out blatant criticism but you get the idea when he writes “I found him to be of limited cognitive ability.” And several other verbal jabs.

Yet, while Mattis is holding his tongue – for now – it’s likely we’ll be getting a fuller picture soon. “There is a period in which I owe my silence,” Mattis said, referring to his post-Trump days. “It’s not eternal,” he added, “And it’s not going on forever.” Boda Bing! Boda Boom! My guess is about December, 2020.

Another case. Trump criticized Faux Nuews. Told his followers, “They’re not working for us” and suggesting that a new and “more supportive” media network was needed.

Now, many of us figured Faux would knuckle under and “come to heel.” But, no. Fact is, several of the major Faux players got up on their hind legs and told Trump they weren’t “working for him.” They got downright indignant and claimed media “impartiality” and told him they’d report the facts as they happened to be.

Putting Faux Nuews and the word “facts” in the same sentence has been – and likely will continue to be – an oxymoron. But, at least they took a stab at journalistic professionalism for once and bit back.

Still more evidence. The exodus of Republican members of Congress.
Lot’s of ‘em. Many angry at Trump and tired of defending him. The reasons vary but the flight is real. Going into the 2020 election, Democrats needed a net gain of four seats to take the majority in the Senate. That is, keep all they have and add four. Seemed out of reach. Now, not so much. Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Georgia, for example, seem winnable. How ‘bout that?

And more. As Trump has fired former “best people,” many have not just shuffled off to deserved anonymity. Several have written fiery books and others have taken to more respectable media to tell “the inside story” of White House chaos. Some are even making big bucks on the “chicken dinner” circuit telling their tales to other Republicans. Yes, Virginia, Republicans!

And this. One night last week, little Donny Junior went to Kentucky for a well-publicized speech to the GOP faithful on behalf of the one-term, right wing governor who’s in a surprisingly hot re-election fight. Kentucky Republicans in Mitch McConnell’s home state spent heavily to promote Donny. Even rented a 7-thousand seat auditorium. And when Donny went to the mike, he looked out on a throng of 200. Yep, 200! In Kentucky?

And more. National farmer’s organizations are coming unglued over the beating they’re taking from Trump. The same guy they backed so heavily in 2016. The tariffs – real or promised – are killing ‘em. Along with a couple of years of bad weather. You can see the bib overalls on TV, night after night, swearing both at-and-off Trump. Lots of rural vows of “Never again!” Who’d a thunk?

And those examples are all domestic. We haven’t talked about other entire countries. Some who don’t even want him to visit. The President of the United States persona-non-grata. Media – and many politicians overseas – are skewering anything Trump related. And, in those few countries still trying to keep up appearances, heads of state are plotting ways of dealing with Trump. Or going around him.

Yep. Real push back. Not to say ol’ Donald will be a one-termer just yet. With Russian election meddling and worldwide computer hacking, 2020 results could go sideways. And, as we learned to our sorrow in 2016, there’s the Electoral College to deal with. He’s already lost the popular vote once and won. Could it happen again? Who knows?

Trump’s continual back-stabbing of once loyal staff, supporters and entire countries continues unabated. But, we’re seeing more people openly turning on him and biting back. Or staying away. We’re seeing once valued fellow-travelers taking open stands of opposition.

Still, there’s that one last bastion standing with him. Republicans in Congress who’ve every reason to dump him but lack the guts to do it. He’s still got the most dangerous politician in America – Mitch McConnell – riding shotgun. At least for now.

But, as said at the outset, Trump has this one unique quality of turning friends into enemies. So, a guy can always hope!

The downside

Author: admin

On a daily basis, we’re told by all the pundits “This early in the presidential election, polls don’t mean much.” Then they trot out the latest numbers and make all sorts of comparisons.

They’re right, of course, about how little numbers mean 15 months out. Interesting, but predictive of nothing you can hang your hat on.

Still, there’s one polling category taken that I don’t see included very often and, to me, it means as much – or even more at times – than all the others. Even now. And that’s the “unfavorable” count.

The reason for the interest in “unfavorables,” is a case can be made voters falling into that category probably assured the unexpected 2016 victory of Trump.

Clinton was the clear polling leader going into that election with a good margin in her favor. But, underneath those numbers were her “unfavorables.” And they were sizeable. Over 50-percent.

Some of the pollsters I trust most have a similar interest in those figures and several have what seems to be a reasonable explanation for how they fit into her loss.

They opined people in that category looked at her – looked at him as an unknown – closed their eyes and voted for Trump. The unknown. Broken down by polling data such as age, education, race, economic and party indicators, their reasoning seems sound.

So, if you measured the “unfavorables” of all the Democrats running at the moment, who do you think would have the highest rating? My guess would be Biden.

Yes, he currently holds a wide lead over the rest of the pack when voters are asked who they favor. Solid lead. Good numbers. But, the same four decades of valuable experience Biden brings to the contest also work against him.

The reason for that is clear. Take the crime bill Congress passed in the ‘70’s. Biden voted “no.” He had his reasons at the time. Given his experience, that vote may have seemed right. Then. But, nearly 40 years later, with crime in the streets and mass murders in our schools, churches, synagogues and the marketplace, it’s very difficult to face questions about such a vote in today’s campaign. So far, he hasn’t developed a clear response that makes sense under today’s conditions.

There were other votes of his that, at the time, were probably solid but which are now outdated. That’s the trouble with longevity, as I’m also finding out. Times change. Thinking changes. Issues evolve. Sanders and Warren, with years of elective service, also have some votes they’d probably like to take back. Or, would just as soon not talk about on the campaign trail. Same reasons. And both have sizeable “unfavorables.”

In current polling, yes, the figures are mushy and subject to change day-to-day. But, a pattern is developing that shows about 16 of the 20 candidates should seriously think about going back to their day jobs. Biden, Warren and Sanders have double-digit leads over everyone else. The numbers separating the top three change with each poll. But, the placement over the rest of the field doesn’t.

I’m especially disappointed in Beto. He’s not going to win the race and he’s not favored as a vice presidential pick. His numbers are bad and not likely to get better. At the same time, in his home state of Texas, incumbent John Cornyn is vulnerable in his re-election try. And, Beto, who came within three-percent of beating Ted Cruz in 2018, could likely beat Cornyn if local polling is accurate.

That U.S. Senate race is extremely important for Democrats, along with a couple of others because if they don’t take the Senate, the gridlock will continue. If O’Rourke continues his doomed campaign, you can write it off as an ego trip but it ain’t smart politics.

Pundits all talk about how important the 2020 election is. And they’re right! But, some of the presidential candidates – like Beto, Booker, Bullock and Gillibrand – seem more wrapped up in their own little worlds than considering the big picture. While Democrats stand to pick up even more of a majority in the House, the Senate is in doubt. And that’s where the action is.

Former Colorado Governor Hickenlooper saw the writing on the wall, dropped out of his losing presidential effort, and is running for the Senate against a troubled incumbent in what seems to be a “purple” state. Washington State Governor Inslee quit and decided to run for a third term at home. Good thinking by both men.

But, back to the “unfavorables.” If the media really wants to fulfill its role of helping voters be more informed about the candidates and issues, that number should get more attention and be used often. I’m certain the candidates know what they are. You can bet the farm Trump and his people know his.

Their importance weighed heavily in determining the 2016 race. They deserve a lot more public notice this time around.


Author: admin

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

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

It was war! We won.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melting no more

Author: admin

Growing up in the Northwest, I was taught this nation was a “melting pot.” A country of many ethnic backgrounds all smooshed together to form a nation of variety, invention, assimilation and being better off for the mixture.

“Melting pot.” It had a nice ring to it. Colorful words meaning this nation was founded, then improved by the diversity each new face brought to our shores. Something entirely different from other countries of more singular ethnicities. And it seemed to work for a long time.

But, sadly, somewhere along the way, we lost the idea of mixing and replaced it with exclusion, separateness and division. People of a common language, a common color, a common religion or any of a dozen differences stopped mingling and, instead, most formed separate communities of near isolation.

We have Black communities and Hebrew communities. Hispanic communities. We have Irish, Polish, Russian, Norwegian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and many other singularly exclusive areas.

We have Black radio and television. When’s the last time you watch Black TV? Hispanic, Chinese, Korean and other broadcasters and print media targeting specific groups. We have areas of the nation that don’t welcome people of other races or religious beliefs. People talk of not going into parts of their own city of residence. I was once held against my will for 24 hours largely because I was a White man in a Black neighborhood of rioters.

A lot of this was brought to mind when the shooter in the El Paso killings told police he drove nine hours from the Dalles-Forth Worth area to kill Hispanics because “that’s where most of them lived in Texas” and he didn’t want to kill in his hometown. But, he wanted to kill people gathered in a particular location. Crazy? Yes. Twisted thinking? Certainly. But, that’s what he said and the blood was real.

Our dangerous President is not to blame for all this. We’ve been a divided nation for many years. But, he’s become a master at using our “separateness” against us to drive divisions and hatred. He’s wielded racism as a club against those of differing skin colors. He’s used his own destructive brand of politics in attempts to disable our government and let loose conditions – often ruinous conditions – to violate laws of both man and nature.

There’s an old story about two brothers engaged in a fight. Pounding each other. But, when someone else attacked one of the brothers, they jointly battled the intruder.

It used to be much the same with America. We tangled and tussled among ourselves. We had our disagreements and our differences. But, when outsiders – other nations – provoked us or fomented wars against us, we turned as one to deal with the outsider. We fought wars in which Americans of differing skin colors, differing religions, differing ethnicities, differing sexual orientation acted together. Bound by a single purpose regardless of our differences.

In many ways, we’ve lost that uniformity of acting as one. Maybe the terrible division wrought by the war in Viet Nam was a turning point when national purpose was so openly and so fiercely divided. For many Americans, those divisions are still there. Maybe when we lost the comity and respect for relationships in our political affairs was another. No more working for the good of the whole. Now, it’s trench warfare with good ideas and “what’s-best-for-the-country” becoming victims of yet more division and disrespect for our institutions. And, in many cases, for each other.

The melting pot was a good idea. And it’s still a good idea. Our homeland never prospered as much as when we worked together, ignoring differences to reach common purpose. Whether in war or striving to send astronauts to the moon or defeating dictators or developing mind-bending technologies and great advances in medicine for our national benefit. Individuals of many backgrounds dedicated to achievements of universal purpose.

Curmudgeon that I am, I doubt we will ever again see a true national melting pot. Still, some say the young among us aren’t as devoted to divisions as we older folk. We’re told they don’t get so tangled up on sexuality or race or national origin as many of us do. Some believe they’re better able to look past differences to concentrate on more important things. That they’re more pliable of thought and better able to work together for common purpose.

I pray that is so. Because, 14 months from now, we and they are going to have to be united “as one” to beat a common foe. We who love this country, and the diversity that’s made it work, will be called to look past our differences and unite to expunge our government of those who have tried so hard to separate us.

We’ll need the best of that old melting pot to join in singleness of national purpose.

What now

Author: admin

Saturday, we watched the news of the mass shooting in El Paso. We went to bed angry.

Sunday, we awoke to the news of another mass shooting in Dayton. We went to church. We went angry.

We went to church to ask God, “What the Hell can we do? What can we say? Why is this happening? What are you going to do?”

The prayers were silent. Across the country, in thousands of other churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, cathedrals and even in living rooms, I’m sure we were joined by literally millions of Americans collectively asking God, “What the Hell can we do?”

Some, I suppose, were asking God to intervene. Asking God to do something. Take action. Come up with some sort of new holy law rendering future shooters incapable. Anything to stop the murder.

In two massacres, 29 people dead and at least 46 wounded or otherwise injured as a result. Within 16 hours of each other. From the bodies on the ground, concentric circles of grief, anger and shock were sent out to hundreds – maybe thousands – of homes and families across the country. Grief. Anger. Shock.

So, what do we do to effectively keep some of us from killing others of us in fits of anger, desperation, frustration or mindless, suicidal acts of cold blooded murder? I’ve not found an answer.

Yes, we can pile on gutless and NRA-bought-and-paid-for politicians of every stripe. Yes, they’ve done nothing. But, really, will the next shooter stop before the planned bloody deed to read new laws and decide he’s not going to do it because murder is against the law? Really?

Some say more mental health care is needed. O.K. How do we find the pre-shooter? How do we find them all? How do we get them into treatment? What if we miss a few? Will we get mental treatment to everyone that needs it? Really?

Some say get rid of the guns. The FBI estimates there are more than 300-million guns in private hands. Are we going to go after them? Take them away? Really? How many more killings will result from such efforts?

Some say destroy the NRA. Just attack it, legally or financially or morally until it’s dead. And the several million responsible gun owners who make up the bulk of the NRA? Destroy the NRA? Really?

More background checks and tougher security checks for those who want to buy guns? Both of the weekend shooters bought theirs legally. What more can be done? How many more hurdles? Really?

There is no one answer. And I can’t come up with even a handful that would be effective. That would end the bloodshed. That would stop the killing.

We are cursed by our own technology. The Internet has become an international “party line” for terrorists, wannabe terrorists, nutballs, delusional misfits and maniacs. Individuals who used to be angry, alone and afraid to act can now “talk” to thousands of other individuals similarly angry, afraid and alone. But, with the “party line,” they can strike common cause – boost the egos of each other – create an electronic world where crazy fantasies become their “realities.”

The FBI and others can track ISIS or other terrorists online. But they can’t act on what nasty deeds are planned within our borders because of privacy laws. Got an answer for that?

We’ve got a president who speaks of Nazi sympathizers and terrorists as “good people” and who will not – WILL NOT – disavow them or their acts. He gives verbal “cues” of approval to rough up protestors, vows to pay their legal costs, pumps up their zealotry by recognizing them at rallies and other public events. Both of last week’s shooters were admirers of Trump. One even had a picture on his website of 17 guns arranged to spell “T-R-U-M-P.” Really!

On the I-Net, there are the terrorist websites deliberately aimed at teens around the world. Filled with glossy videos and music. Telling the young they can achieve martyrdom by killing – and being killed – for such-and-such a cause. Pick one. Load your AK-47 and go!

When we were young, nearly all of us wondered how long we’d live, how many years were ahead of us. Millions of young people today don’t see themselves growing older. Many see themselves dying young. Some assume they will. School shootings, mass killings in stores, theaters, churches and concerts where they go feed into that. Video games and violent fantasy movies, too. There are more teen suicides per capita now than just a decade ago.

Yes, I’m venting. I’d bet you have, too. Because, when you look at these mass murders with a sense of reality, there seem to be no answers. A little bit here. A little bit there. Oh, we can do this. Or, we can do that. O,r even a whole bunch of things.

But, how do we reach – and stop – the thousands of twisted, sick minds out there conditioned by anger, by shame, by addiction, by encouragement from terrorists, by racism, by loneliness, by drugs, by harassment from their peers, by disappointment?

New laws won’t do it. Fears of punishment won’t do it. Making guns harder to buy won’t. Medical treatment won’t. When a semi-automatic can shoot 700 rounds a minute, nothing will do it.

Some say climate change is today’s most urgent problem. To me, it’s the lone, unidentified, suicidal white guy with an A-K. And I don’t have the answers.

Fallacy of ‘debates’

Author: admin

Many decades ago, I got my first horse racing introduction with a friend who said he was “experienced” in horse racing. I knew nothing about it so figured this would be an education.

An “education” it was.

We walked to the paddock area where horses for the next race were on display. I watched and listened to my “experienced” friend and those around us as they sized up the animals. It wasn’t long until my “education” expectations died.

“Look at the color of that Chestnut,” someone said. “He’ll win.” “Oh, that brown horse – I’ll bet on him,” was heard. Another “expert” liked the green and gold jockey’s outfit. Another “winner.”

That racing experience of long ago came to mind after watching the last Democrat presidential “debate.” And the ensuing “expert” commentaries. There were many parallels.

“This one’s up, that one’s down.” “For an unknown, she made some good points.” “Not much experience but handled himself well.”
Sounded like the “experienced” racing crowd.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say these crowded “horse shows” mean nothing. But, they don’t mean much. The minority of Americans who care to watch and listen can see their favorites in action and watch the rest of the crowd. Others at least learn the names of the previously unknowns. And who will be unknown again before the 2020 election. But, if you’re watching for substance or decision-making, well, good luck.

Debates don’t win presidential elections. Oh, there was that Nixon-Kennedy debacle in 1959. Kennedy cool and articulate. Nixon with five o’clock shadow and sweating like an NFL down lineman in an August exhibition game. Might have been some significance in that. But, debates 18 months ahead of elections, don’t count for much. Remember Clinton-Trump debates? She got three-million more votes than he did but he won in the Electoral College. Winning is not done in debates.

Several things have been disappointing in these free-for-all’s. For me, it’s the things that haven’t been said. What must be done quickly – and massively – about climate change? How to undo the immigration shame wrought by Trump. What about homelessness and housing people can’t afford? What about the VA health care mess? How to stop or at least clean up gerrymandering which is a proven cancer in many of our elections? What can be done effectively to stop foreign governments from screwing with our elections. None of these – none – have been addressed. As the old gal said, “Where’s the beef?”

We’ve been “treated” to attacks, prepared ad libs, snarky comments about him or her and lots of meaningless chatter about this and that.
Even criticism of Barrack Obama – a guy the finalist is going to need big time before November.

Most of those faces now peering out from the crowd on stage will be gone in a few weeks. They won’t be able to raise the necessary money, create a large enough staff, be able to get thousands of volunteers “on the ground” in 50 states, compile the massive data base necessary for communications with voters and more. And those are the things – the absolutely necessary things – needed to survive. Warren, Biden and Sanders either have those things or can get them in short order. None of the other 17 has or can.

One bit of mystery getting my attention has nothing to do with debating. Obama and Eric Holder are deeply involved with something called the National Redistricting Committee – a vehicle they created to deal with gerrymandering congressional and legislative districts and to undertake such other “related political affairs that may be of interest.” They’ve got reps in most states and I’d guess turning the organization to a candidate-backer would be just a short step.

Both gentlemen are keeping low profiles at the moment. Except Holder’s well-publicized warning to Democratic “debaters” last week not to keep attacking Obama. Given Obama’s well-known 50-state grassroots history, and Holder’s proven abilities of effective organizing, those two may be the secret weapon necessary for a Democrat victory in 2020. I’m keeping an eye on them.

As for “debates” over the next 16 months or so, well, if there’s little “beef” and more personal attacks, they won’t mean much. If the subjects listed above – and a few others – aren’t addressed with some creative thinking and solid plans, it’ll just be talk, talk, talk. We – the voters – won’t have what we need to make intelligent choices.

And, don’t forget, the changes necessary in our elected federal government won’t mean a damned thing if Democrats win the White House but don’t take the Senate. If “Moscow Mitch” or some other Republican is Majority Leader in 2021, we’ll have four more years of nothing. Just more stalemate and division.

We’re not seeing real debates. We’re watching those old horse displays with people instead of nags. We’re watching a beauty contest. The real issue isn’t who “won” or “lost” the last gab fest. It’s who among them has the savvy and the ability to quickly mount a successful winning campaign with all the absolutely necessary tools.

Warren, Biden and Sanders are in for the long haul. It really doesn’t matter who you “like” now or who looks good. The real issue is can we all get together behind the name on the ballot in November, 2020? Can we turn away from our favorite of the moment to cast a ballot for someone else when it counts? Anyone else.

Enforcement by choice

Author: admin

There’s a little town in Southern Arizona. Arivaca. About 700 locals live there, 11 miles from the border with Mexico. Pretty barren place. Most folks are seniors who moved there to spend their later years in peace and quiet.

Such conditions have ended with the appearance of dozens of adult “failures-in fatigues” carrying their “adulthood” around in AR-15s and mock machine guns mounted on ever-present pickups. They’ve split the locals and run the newspaper publisher out-of-town with threats. And now, they’re “arresting” immigrants.

One of their unwelcome number arrived a few years back and has become the “scheduler” for the many faux “patriots” who regularly come and go. He sends them out along the border in small groups, armed to the teeth, looking for the Mexican “invaders.”

“Shoot ‘em” is a mostly unspoken “order.” But, they talk about it. So far, no one knows if someone really has been killed or if the occasional burst of weapon fire is just a screwball getting his jollies by peppering a few cacti. Which, incidentally, is a crime in Arizona. But, so far, the sheriff has looked the other way on all this for at least seven years.

Law enforcement “looking the other way” has become a national phenomenon, especially in the West. Sheriff’s, elected to enforce laws, are letting it be known they’ll be quite selective when enforcing.

One is Oregon’s Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin in Roseburg, Some time ago, he announced he would not recognize any new gun laws passed by any body, state or national. Further, he would arrest anyone from any agency – state or national – that tried to do their rightful duties in “his” county. Hanlin has been soundly re-elected in the meantime and those other agents have apparently steered clear of Douglas County.

Brother-in arms Sheriff Curtis Landers in Oregon’s far Southwest Curry County, said his troops would not work with ICE units. Coastal fishermen are known to use aliens as deck hands and in processing plants. Lots of ‘em.

For several years, near the little town of Merlin, Oregon, there’s been an illegal mining operation on BLM land. The owner was officially notified to shut it down. Finally, the feds went out to the site to personally hand him yet another cease-and-desist order.

They were met by more of those phony military wannabees with the obligatory automatic rifles. Dug in around the perimeter facing the road. The feds pulled back – waited several days – then retreated. Couple of weeks later, the local BLM office was shuttered.

These aren’t isolated instances. Nevada, Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana and others are operating on this “law-enforcement-by-choice” phenomena. They may arrest you for doing 50mph in a school zone but ignore other black letter law keeping other enforcement officials from doing their jobs.

When you have feds like the BLM surrendering and closing field offices when faced with armed idiots – and when no one is arrested for illegal acts related thereto – we’ve got a dangerous situation.

Adherence to law – regardless of Donald J. Trump – is the spine that keeps this nation upright. We, who are not engaged in enforcing laws, must rely on the honesty and integrity of those who do. What we’re seeing is that we can’t. In some cases – like Hanlin – there appears to even be insufficient public will to kick ‘em out of office. Or, maybe it’s majority voter approval for his “I’ll-decide-what’s-illegal” policy.

Southern Oregon and Northern California timberlands are teeming with these fatigue-wearers. All armed with various heavy weapons. Some in encampments – others living in solitary but well-armed outposts.

And, they seem to be getting at least some political support. Three California counties have petitioned the legislature to secede and create a new state called “Jefferson.” Oregon’s Josephine and Jackson counties (Roseburg, Medford, Cave Junction) haven’t made it that official but many folks there talk of becoming part of Jefferson. Bumper stickers, radio talk shows, (un)social media, bar talk and billboards are plentiful.

Duly elected officials – county commissioners and sheriffs – have the obligations of their oaths-of-office. But, you can’t count on that anymore in some cases.

The question is, which cases?


Author: admin

Reading Conservative columnist – and ex-Republican – George Will the other day. He said – and I’m paraphrasing here – when Trump leaves office in 2020 or 2024, don’t expect our politics to snap back into the shape it used to be.

Will also opined “Trump will to more lasting damage to America than Nixon and Watergate.”

As usual, George is right on target.

The American political wars – and indeed, much of our entire society – will never be the same. For better or worse – and I would strenuously argue worse – Trump’s devastation of our previous way of life, and what we considered normalcy, has guaranteed things will never again be the same.

None among us can predict how thorough or lasting these changes will be. Nor can anyone, at this point, clearly describe what those social and political conditions will be like. But, changes there will be. Many.

Trump is not singularly to blame for what comes next. But, he recognized the divisions in our society and the mostly unspoken frustrations of a good chunk of the citizenry, boxed ‘em up and gave voice to what about 30-million people were thinking.

He marketed divisions and frustration like they were just some other consumer products to be pitched and, with them, sowed the whirlwind. His salesmanship found takers in the gullible and the unknowing and here we are.

All this racism business. It’s been there, just barely underground, for more than 250 years. Even those of us who denied we were racists knew it. Old story. But, Trump’s gave it voice and introduced to into polite conversation. He bellowed it from the rooftops – read social media – slapping it squarely into our everyday discourse. And, among his fellow Republicans in Congress, he’s made about 180 of them publicly support his hateful rhetoric on the Congressional Record.

Ably abetted by McConnell, McCarthy, Scaliese and dozens of others in Congress, more concerned with continued employment than the nation’s good or the oaths they swore to, Trump has marshaled a unique “Fourth Reich” in our politics. Waving the American flag, while wrapping themselves in “patriotic” vitriol, they’ve been his conduits of mongrel politics.

There’s no collegiality in Congress anymore. No one is “reaching across the aisle” to achieve consensus. Voices debating the merits – or lack thereof – of legislation are no longer heard. All that’s been replaced with “us” and “them” and pledges by Republican “leadership” to kill or neuter any Democrat bills – read Mitch McConnell. It’s open warfare and will be for years to come. Post-Trump.

And society? Well, have you lost friends in the last year or so over suddenly entrenched differences? I have. Have you found the coarseness and foul speech all around you creeping more and more into your everyday affairs? I have. Do you find your temper/patience short with issues and people more than, oh, say three or four years ago? I have. Have you experienced disappointment with friends or acquaintances who’ve surprised you with seeming acceptance of today’s poisonous political atmosphere? I have.

Trump’s fault? Not all of it. But, he’s given voice to hate, vengeance, uncivil discourse and ignorance. Unlike that little Dutch boy who put his finger in the hole of a leaking dike, Trump has opened the floodgates for a steady flow of more sickening public insults of our fellow men – and women – than ever before. He’s unleashed open racial hatred. His ignorance of government, world affairs, international relationships, acceptance of foreign dictators over our democratic friends has eroded our nation’s trustworthiness in matters of state.

Trump is dedicated to undermining public confidence in the media in a pattern familiar to foreign dictators. His minions have joined their voices with his in a steady stream of lies, demagoguery, contradictions and deceptions. He’s surrounded himself with sycophants dedicated to stripping protections for worker safety, the environment and even public education. He’s tried – so far unsuccessfully – to strip health care from millions of people. And more. Much more.

When Trump leaves office – by voter decision or otherwise – the effects of his treachery, his deceitfulness, his sordid moral character, his refusal to fill thousands of necessary government jobs, his willful ignorance of protocols and accepted practices, his secrecy and complicity in underhanded dealings, his criminal behavior in business and government relationships – all that and more will leave a political and social stench for decades. If not longer.

He’s managed to put openly and deliberately hateful dialogues into our politics and society. He’s introduced fraudulent diatribes and deceptive virulence into otherwise normal conduct of the Office of President. He’s blurred the lines between truth and deception in everyday affairs of government and publically accepted behaviors.

Trump is not to be entirely blamed for the open hatred in our national politics. Nor is he alone responsible for massive disruptions in our society. But, he must shoulder most of the burden for our increasingly fractious political condition. And for his negative influences to increase separation and distrust among Americans of differing cultures and racial identity.

When Trump leaves office, we’ll be a long, long time getting rid of what he leaves behind. If ever. Post-Trump.