Archive for the ‘Column’ Category

Winston

Author: admin

That’s Winston. An 18-year-old Rat Terrier. If you can remember the old RCA Victor logo of a dog and a gramophone, that was a Rat Terrier. Very popular in the first third of the century. Now, they’re coming back.

But not Winston. Last night, we had to say our last “Goodbye.” Things just suddenly started to fail and we were not left with other choices. The moment of decision and relief from his struggle was upon him. And us.

We found Winston in a cage in a store in Nampa, Idaho, 18 years ago. He’s been our constant companion every day since. Not a mean bone in his body. Liked everyone he met. Traveled like a pro in RV’s or car. Jumped into the middle of every experience.

Hard to say who loved who more. When we were happy, he seemed to rejoice right along with us. When we hurt, there was always the paw on your leg, extra attention paid and snuggling. He sensed our moods in ways we still don’t understand.

And, we often sensed his. Some days, he was quiet and seemed extra grateful for a scratch of his ears or a tummy rub. Other times, he’d be frisky and wanting to go for a walk at any moment. And there were the quiet times, when he just wanted some extra “loves” and was content to sleep the day away.

Many people don’t care for dogs. Some folks have allergies that keep them from knowing the quiet companionship of a loving animal. Maybe they know – and maybe not – but I think their lives are incomplete. As we humans search for attention and love, we never quite fully achieve either without a dog. Without a Winston. Without the constant support that comes from having a cold nose rub your arm or “that look” from bright brown eyes. No matter when. No matter where.

While needing regular feeding, exercise, an occasional bath and nail trim, we got more from him in repayment – and then some- for those little chores. Even if he just snuggled into his small, sheepskin basket across the room, we felt over-paid – and quietly, a bit more loved – knowing he felt safe enough and loved enough to let us be his constant security. When an animal – or a person – can trust you enough that they can override their natural sense of self-preservation, you feel loved and needed by someone outside yourself.

We romanticize our pets much the same way we do people who’re close to us. We give them special names and feel gratified when we can do some little thing that make them feel good or loved. We remember them on birthdays or at Christmas with some little trinket to renew the bonds between us. We hurt when they hurt. We share their joys when they celebrate.

But, if we have a “Winston,” we tend to forget they react in much the same way. They share our successes and failures with extra tail wags or being extra close to comfort us as needed. They recognize and respond to our moods. They become family. We at the table. Them under it.

In their last days – no matter what the age – they look to us to take charge and make that final decision that’ll physically separate us forever. Even as he lay semi-sedated and waiting for that final needle, Winston quietly looked at us and seemed to be saying, “Go ahead. Let me go. Stop my pain. I love you.”

And we did.

We’re grieving now. We’ll continue to do so for awhile. We don’t know how long. But, I think it will continue until that moment – days, months or even years away – that moment when we realize the deep feelings of joy, love and completeness he brought us will continue even if he’s not physically with us. They’ll continue even if we can’t reach out and touch. That moment we realize we carried out our final responsibility to do what was best – what needed to be done – for his sake. Not ours.

Our hearts may be filled with sadness today. But our lives have been enriched – enriched forever – because there was Winston. His pain is over. Ours will end, too. Someday.

Goodnight, Winston. You’re well-loved.

Home sweet home

Author: admin

Like many teens raised in small towns – in my case, Bend, Oregon, in the early ‘50’s – I couldn’t wait to kick off the dust of “Hickville” and get on to discovering the outside world. The “real” world. No small town hayseeds for me. I wanted to “get on with life.”

That from a guy who – four score years later – lived in an Oregon burg of less than 1,400. Five bars, two gas stations, no drug store and the only grocery store is four miles out of town. But, in the intervening 63 years, I’ve seen a lot of the world and had many life-changing experiences. And I never moved back in with my folks.

These days, that’s not the case for a lot of youngsters. The U.S. Census Bureau has come up with numbers describing some interesting changes in what happens to the 20-somethings who grew up with the same anxious exodus feeling I did but who didn’t get far from the nest.

We’re talking comparisons over more than a 40 year stretch from the ‘70’s to 2015. And the big one is this: more young people live with their parents now than in any other living arrangement the Bureau tracks. Which is all of them. About one-in-three or some 24-million 18-34-year-olds either moved back in with parents or never left.

Marriage for the young folks isn’t nearly as important as it used to be. Most will still marry. But in the ‘70’s, eight in 10 got hitched by the age of 30. Forty years later, that same ratio doesn’t happen until age 45.

A dozen years ago, a majority of young adults lived independently. That was the case in 35 states. Now, it’s just six states. And all are in the Midwest or Plains. Figure that one out.

Most young people today believe getting an education and being economically successful are the most important milestones of being an adult. Over half feel getting married and having kids – not so much. Big switch there.

Young men – along with most of us – seem more stuck at the bottom of the income ladder than before. Forty years ago, 25-percent ages 25-to-34 had incomes of less than $30,000 a year. In 2015, that percentage jumped to 41. The comparison used 2015 dollars in both cases. Imagine the loss in purchasing power.

And, finally, of those still living at home, one-in-four are unemployed. Not going to school. Not working. So, figure about 2.2-million 25-34-year-olds not in the workforce. They’re also more likely to have a child and more than a quarter qualify as disabled.

Those are some pretty startling statistics. Most of us just cruise along with our lives, thinking the young folks are doing about the same as we did. Working. Getting married. Having kids. Making payments on the pickup. Just “going along” and paying the bills.

But these findings tell us a very different story. Like so much in our existence, change is occurring in every aspect of life. And every where. Whether you’re still in Hickville or got out to those larger cities that seemed so alluring.

Or even in a burg of 1,400. With five bars – two gas stations – and a grocery store four miles out of town.

The U.S. Air Force general who would control all this country’s nuclear weapons in wartime has publicly made a claim that should curdle your blood.

In at least two recent public forums, Gen. John Hyten has said he would not necessarily launch nuclear weapons despite being ordered to do so by the President. That statement should get your full attention!

Especially because Hyten is Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, successor of the old Strategic Air Command, dreamed up by Curtis LeMay in the late 1940’s. For decades, the four-star at the top has had responsibility to launch – or not launch – nuclear weapons in all services – not just USAF.

When a general makes public statements that he – and he alone – will decide the legitimacy or legality of a presidential order to launch the forces, it seems in keeping with the political mess we have in the White House. Damned dangerous!

The caveat Hyten offers with his statement is if he feels or believes the order from Trump to be “illegal.”

“If it’s illegal,” he said, “I’m going to say ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And he’s going to say ‘What would be legal?’”

Someone else at the top is saying the same thing. Retired General Robert Kehler, who preceded Hyten at Strategic Command, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this month “the U.S. military is obligated to follow legal orders – not illegal ones.”

In neither case did the generals describe which they’d consider “legal” and which would be “illegal.”

My last two years of military service, I sat at a console about six feet from the “red phone” the SAC commander would use to order a nuclear strike – an order for the Army, Navy and any other branch with nukes. The commander and senior staff sat at desks above our heads on the command balcony from where the order would come to pick up the phone – should it be given. The whole place was tense 24/7. Highly professional. But tense.

During my time, we had the Cuban missile crisis. I know intimately how close we came to launching. But the President was John Kennedy and the SAC Commander was General Thomas Power. Despite the danger, we knew orders from the White House and the response would be legal.

Now, we have senior officers creating wiggle room if we get that close again. I have no idea what constitutes an “illegal” order. But I’m damned familiar with Trump and his fits of pique – of childish anger. He does things and says things that show he’s not a stable person when faced with crisis events. Even little bitty “crisis” events.

Military personnel – no matter the branch – are trained from the gitgo to obey lawful orders of anyone a rank or two up the chain. That’s the very backbone of structure that provides the clarity to try to keep people alive in wartime. Or it could kill them.

There have been many changes since my years of service. Personnel are smarter, better trained, work with better equipment and seem to have more leeway in most responsibilities. But the demand to obey a lawful order has not changed. Not one word. It is still the first commandment.

When a general – or two – or three – says he (or they) will decide which order is lawful, that frightens me. Especially when we don’t know what criteria he’d use to make the distinction. During the Cuban crisis, LeMay – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the time – wanted to launch a strike on Cuba and promised Kennedy he’d “make a parking lot” out of the small nation. Legal? Yes. Crazy? Certainly!

A lot of political and military types have chewed on this “legal-illegal” business since Trump became Commander-In-Chief. They’ve talked of how to deal with him if he flies off the handle as he does regularly. Suppose that madman in North Korea says or does something crazy and Trump decides to launch. He’s already said publicly the response would be “something the world has never seen” and that “North Korea would be destroyed.”

Is that a “legal?” Or an illegal?”

General Hyten and others in the military are going to have to decide. And I’d like to know what the Hell their criteria is going to be.

The death of privacy

Author: admin

Sometimes, tying together two seemingly disparate events/stories can make a good connection to explain an issue larger than either of them. So it is as I look at the national outpouring of deserved condemnation that followed the musings of multi-millionaires Donald Sterling and Mitt Romney some time ago. Talk about disparate!

But they do share one commonality – aside from one disparaging 47% of the citizens of this nation and the other with his racist vehemence involving an entire race of Americans. Both instances involved men who believed they were speaking only to the people in their private presence while the words of each were surreptitiously recorded and later made public.

Whether the principals of either situation engaged in speech that was morally right or wrong is up to any of us who care to decide. But one thing is sure. Both fell victim to expectations of privacy that were violated – a privacy that is gone from our lives. An individual right we were brought up to expect, but which has now been eradicated by our own technology and the immoral use of that technology by those so devoted.

We’ve long been openly or surreptitiously spied upon by microphones and cameras in public – and some not-so-public – places. Banks, grocery stores, parks, street corners, while we’re driving and – if Eric Snowden’s disclosures are accurate – for years while we’ve engaged in written or spoken conversations with the expectation of absolute privacy. We can be outraged. We can be vehement in our opposition. We can demand an end to such activities. But we’ll lose. The genie is out of the bottle. We have become a world where Big Brothers – and Big Sisters – keep an eye and an ear on all we do.

From a legal standpoint, Sterling may have a case that his First Amendment rights were violated. He uttered his now infamous racist and sexist words in a two-way conversation in California where recording any such conversation is illegal unless approved – in advance – by BOTH parties. Seems obvious he didn’t know of the recording and, thus, at least in California, it appears to have been an illegal act.

Then there’s the part of the story in which someone with knowledge of that recorded conversation leaked it. His then-girl friend – the second party in this instance – denied it was her. A little shakier in the legal department but certainly a moral issue.

Big box stores – grocery and otherwise – often advise you are being recorded “for your own safety.” Pure B.S.. You’re being recorded as a shoplifting tool, a video record of robbery attempts and at the advice of insurance carriers to catch people falsely claiming injury on the property. Your “protection” figures into none of it.

Banks, convenience stores, gas stations, traffic enforcement, parking lots, city parks, toll road, pizza parlors, airports, casinos, cruise ships, theaters, museums, court houses, city halls and other public buildings, bars, merchants of all sizes – all are represented in the official “people spying” industry. Some even use sonic or ultrasonic signals to notify local police of illegal entries or other after-hours interruptions. It matters not how small a community you live in – you are under surveillance.

Cell phones have made amateur “reporters” of all of us. Think of videos or pictures you’ve chuckled about in your emails or social media. Much of the time, what amused you was the subject of the missive was unaware of his/her situation. So, innocently someone passed it to you and – innocently, of course – you saw it, laughed and – innocently again – sent it along.

I’ve seen cameras disguised as buttons. Medicine now uses “live” cameras in pills! Swallow one and the Doc can watch your innards at work. More and more cops are wearing cameras to protect themselves from false charges of brutality or other inappropriate actions. Bail bondsmen, process servers, cab drivers – even postal delivery workers – are following suit.

Awhile back, I decided to count cameras I could see in one day’s travels. The total was eight readily identifiable with another six “could be’s” in cop cars, two stores and on the highway. And I lived in a town of only 1,400 folks. Of course, the whole idea is you shouldn’t be able to spot surveillance cameras in some cases, but you can figure they’re there. In addition to those you’re told about – for your own “protection,” of course.

Privacy – personal privacy – as we’ve known it is gone. Has been for some time. Even in our most unguarded moments, we’re apt to be spied on by someone. It matters not where you live – what you do – where you go. We’ve either gotten so used to it we don’t think about it or – as in the case of those big stores – we’re told of the spying and we accept it.

Used to be old political hands warned newcomers “If you don’t want to see it in the morning headlines, don’t say it.” Not so anymore. They’ve just gotten more defensive. Check out the number of “public” meetings where professional media is turned away. Outsiders only know what went on if someone inside leaks pictures or audio recordings. Which happens often.

I can think of no defense against this invasion in our lives. Not one that works, anyway. As citizens, we can’t afford to hire security people to daily check our homes and other places of expected personal privacy for recording devices. If the professionals can’t do it, the rest of us don’t stand a chance.

As the old joke goes, “even paranoids can have real enemies.” The unblinking official eyes and unofficial ears most of us are caught by each day may not be enemies. But, no matter whose hands operate them, they’ve changed our lives forever. And not for the better.

R-I-P, privacy.

No Moore

Author: admin

It’s normal. It’s natural. Happens all the time. Always has. And it will always be so.

Those claims can be used to describe the election of people to public office who are ignorant, dishonest, unscrupulous, racist, immoral, have questionable character or – in some cases – should be locked up.

As an old Oregonian – and a former Republican – I’ve cast a ballot or two for someone who had one or more of those characteristics. One of the reasons I say “former” is because my political party, at the time, was putting forth candidates I couldn’t accept – candidates I didn’t believe should be in any elected office. After a period of non-participation, I turned independent.

But, in 60 years of voting, I’ve never seen a candidate more vile and unfit as in the case of Roy Moore in Alabama. Making a bad situation even worse, is the acceptance by the hierarchy of the state Republican leadership – and most Republicans in the U.S. Senate – who’ve not renounced him and are continuing to support him.

And don’t give me that “innocent-until-proven-guilty” B.S.. We’re not talking legal matters here. We’re talking immorality and deviant behavior in society and public office. Heavily researched, cross checked and corroborated in depth.

Look at what’s happening in the entertainment and business worlds. When more than a few victims come forward and details of the assaults against them can be substantiated, the perpetrators are fired, shunned or are otherwise forced from public view. In Moore’s case, more than 30 people have supported the multiple victim’s claims. On the record.

Aside from this latest mess he’s created, his public life is one of repeated proof he can’t be trusted. He’s exhibited terrible judgement time after time. He’s proven he lacks the moral turpitude expected of the high positions of responsibility he’s been elected to. Look no further than being forced off the Alabama Supreme Court – not once, but twice – for defiance of the law and bad judgement.

Some of his defenders crazily claim Moore’s behavior can be backed up by the Bible. “Joseph was in his 30’s and Mary was a teenager,” they say. “And that relationship brought us Jesus Christ.”

How twisted is that? Hey, Bible-thumpers. Christ’s birth was the immaculate conception. Joseph had nothing to do with it! Zealotry, ignorance and stupidity wrapped up in one foul-smelling package.

But, the disgusting, deviant behavior doesn’t end with Moore. It includes all those Republicans who – knowing his background and behavior and the depth of the accusations against him – lack the guts to denounce him.

It appears Senate leadership is ready to accept Moore into the fold if he’s elected. And, when you get right down to it, all they want is his vote for a tax bill that should be aborted before it even gets to the floor for debate. It’s as simple as that. They even brought him up to Capitol Hill to discuss how they could help his candidacy.

Republican leadership at large – and Congressional “leadership” in particular – have become enablers for Moore. Rather than condemn him and his well-documented deviant behavior, they seem willing to accept someone who’s repeatedly proven himself unfit for trust and responsibility for his one vote. More like 30 pieces of silver.

The world of politics is large enough for many opinions, differing approaches to common problems and strenuous debate about any issue. But, that world has become contaminated in recent years with an overwhelming desire on the part of officeholders to perpetuate themselves in office rather than to do what’s right – what’s required. The cancer of money has replaced the healthy dignity of achieving the common good.

Moore – for all his proven failings and repeated deviant behavior – is the poster boy for the emergence of zealotry in politics – a calling of honorable service inhabited by honorable people. To our shame, he may be an aberration but he’s not the only one.

No Moore!

The other side

Author: admin

So there’s no misunderstanding, let’s get a few facts on-the-record so what you’re about to read is clear.

I am opposed to sexual harassment in ALL its forms. Period. Those who’ve been victims of it – both women AND men – deserve our support and help in any way called upon. Period. I have absolutely nothing but contempt for anyone – woman OR man – who has perpetrated any sort of sexual or mental damage to another Period.

Are we clear? “Crystal,” you say. Good. Let’s proceed.

We’re being bombarded daily with seemingly endless claims someone sexually harassed someone. Entertainment. Political. Business. Educational. Seems somebody in almost any employment or social activity has been an S-O-B. The claims are exploding everywhere.

Good! It’s time – way past time – our society recognized the issue and how large it has become in our permissive environment. There can be no excuses, no more sweeping it under the rug, no more victims suffering silently – afraid to make legitimate accusations against the abuser. Period.

But…..

What about the public condemnation and shaming of the “abuser” when those accusations aren’t legitimate? Who suffers then? Whose career, social and public images are needlessly ruined?

It happens. I had a room mate in the military from Louisiana who was loudly and publicly accused of stalking and rape. Clear descriptions to her superiors. Against my friend – a noncom with many years of good service.

He was called before the squadron commander and told of his expected punishment which included being stripped of his rank and dishonorably discharged. He was confined to barracks.

Rumors circulated. While awaiting formal action, he was shunned by nearly everyone. He was called every name in the book. On several occasions, he was physically attacked. Those weeks were Hell.

He finally went to the commander and demanded an open hearing in front of a board of officers. He also asked the accuser be ordered to appear and testify. The commander agreed.

When the hearing was over, he was cleared of all charges. When faced with a lot of brass and in a formal setting, the woman recanted. Opening her own military records, it was clear she was deeply troubled, had been arrested for stalking and had been under psychiatric care.

And my room mate? He was militarily cleared of all charges, the recorded accusation was stricken from his personnel files. He was restored to his former rank with reimbursement for all pay lost.

But…..

As he continued his career, he constantly ran into someone at a new base that had been on the same one he had at the time of the accusations. He was often confronted by other personnel who hadn’t heard of the positive disposition of his case years ago. He never got away from it as long as he was on active duty. He also never received a promotion from the rank he held when being accused..

As we see more and more people hit with similar public charges, I can’t help but think of my old friend and the absolute Hell he went through for the rest of his career. I lost track of him years ago but I’ve often wondered if those phony charges followed him into retirement.

And that’s my concern now. It’s likely that most of the new accusations reported daily are accurate. That’s good. Bless those who’ve found the strength within themselves to step up and finally face their abusers and expose them for what they are. And, given the media herd mentality to uniformly traipse after the sensational or lurid, accusers will continue to have a national platform.

But …

What if the accusations are false? What it they’re baseless? What if those named are as innocent as my friend? Will careers be similarly destroyed? Will legal bills to defend themselves bankrupt them? And, if found innocent, what will their lives be like from then on?

I’ve seen a lot of accusers being publicized without anyone seeking evidence or corroboration. Just throw out the name of a celebrity and you’ll make the evening news and the front page.

My friend’s life-changing experience has made me more cautious when it comes to anyone – woman or man – who simply makes a claim. I’m happy to see many accused fess up and some to take action to deal with their problem. But what about those – woman OR man – who may be dragged innocently into the media maelstrom?

It’s great this sensitive issue is being treated openly. But charges are just that – charges. They are not proof.

I’ve always been amused at the old saw “change is constant.” Seems to me an oxymoron with “change” meaning evolving or moving and “constant” something that doesn’t evolve or move.

One of the major life issues for older persons is to either accept change and deal with it in its many forms or remain “constant” which will eventually leave you more and more alone.

Sometimes, though, change can be so vast while being so subtle, so slow, that you don’t sense it and deal with it, which will lead to confusion and uncertainty. For several decades, we’ve been experiencing a slow evolution affecting all our lives and our world. It’s becoming increasingly clear we aren’t dealing with it very well. Individually or as a nation.

For many reasons, including computer technology, education and lifestyle, constant and irrevocable change has been going on all around us. Some good. Some bad. But it’s changing everyone of us almost without notice.

Examples are many. Fraternal, business, civic and religious institutions are disappearing. Makes no difference if you’re talking about the local Rotary club, the church down the street or the chamber of commerce. Participation is waning and they’re in danger of being irrelevant or gone. Possibly not in our lifetimes but statistics are telling the sad story. We’re losing community connectedness.

The two main political parties are suffering the same lack of participation and have become less influential. They’re becoming irrelevant. Where votes have historically been their basis of clout, now it’s money from billionaires. Democrats nationally are still fighting the internal Clinton/Sanders split of 2016 and are badly divided. Significant gains in 2018 are very unlikely.

Republicans have seen their party structure disintegrate – becoming splinter groups unwilling to work together toward a common goal, fractured by religious zealots, big money, character assassination with cowardly majorities in Congress. Independent and splinter “parties” add to eroding the political power of the past for all.

Our increasing national lack of societal and political civility have overcome comity and reason. Coarseness defines our national nature. Outrageous behavior in sports, entertainment, politics and even religion have replaced common sense, caring and norms that have defied centuries of previous assault.

Kids are more violently rebelling against authority – schools are unable to cope much less educate; more children are killing themselves – and others; drugs-of-choice are used more openly – and universally- by kids and adults; outright police violence versus civil disrespect for authority; corporations are cheating customers with more concern for profits at any cost; celebrity is based on deviant behavior rather than talent; our monetary world is rife with practices abusing/cheating consumers.

There’s also a national ignorance of far too many citizens about how their government operates, i.e. what it is, how it’s run, how laws are created or abolished, the role of government in their lives and their responsibilities to it. Stunning ignorance which has resulted in intellectually vacant officeholders dreaming of lifetimes of employment rather than conducting the public’s business – if they even know of – care – what that is.

“So, Rainey,” you say. “A lot of that has been around for centuries and we’ve survived. What’s different?”

Yep, you’re right. But, something we’ve never had access to until the last 40 years or so has created a more dangerous threat to our world: computer technology. While all these things have truly been around in one form or another, computers have linked the shunned, the powerless, the outright crazies and given them voices of power and influence they’ve never had in our history.

A doped up guy in a Cleveland garage can access today’s wizardry to represent him and his delusions to the masses. Some folks have used it to talk their friends into suicides. Once personal details of our lives can now be stolen regularly to do lasting damage to otherwise upstanding people. National electrical systems can be brought down. Crackpot ideologies made to sound mainstream with millions of “adherents.” Military power can be hijacked or neutralized by a single person. World markets can be destroyed by someone with the right technology. And much, much more.

No, these words are not the result of some paranoia. They are the result of watching the evening news, reading several daily newspapers, doing some internet research. Living four score years and being observant.

Ours is an angry nation. An unforgiving nation. An out-of-control nation. The Civil War divided the country over the issue of slavery. Today, with the unlimited power of technology, we’re a fractured nation being assailed by huge pressures on every side. Better we should be split by some large single issue we can tackle and solve. As it is, we’re left to struggle individually with everything from violent children to nuclear war.

Our sense of community has disappeared. The patriotism and faith in something larger than ourselves, in too many instances, have been replaced with anxieties and a lack of national purpose.

“Change is constant.” So is the disassembling of a nation. For the old. For the young.

Fear and the presidency

Author: admin

My father – born in 1904 – used to tell me he was lucky to have seen the “best years” of mankind’s development. He’d cite invention of radio and television, development of flight, automobiles and other inventions for the masses, computers, the booming years of industry, space travel, etc. He saw ‘em all.

But, there’s one thing he didn’t see and never, never imagined: a President of the United States of America – with malice of forethought and by deliberate action on his part – cause terrible hardship for millions of his fellow citizens. He never saw a President set out to destroy whole departments of our federal government by filling his Cabinet with totally unqualified zealots holding personal contempt for various official responsibilities given them.

My father’s lifelong respect for government was badly eroded when he learned of Richard Nixon’s ruthless lying, racism and outright anti-Semitism. Those were traits my well-educated father just never would have imagined in anyone elected President of this country. While I was living in Washington D.C. late in his life, and watching Watergate unfold, he was a pillar of his small community in Central Oregon – Masonic bodies, church, successful small business, etc.. But Richard Nixon destroyed my father’s near-blind faith in the goodness and honesty of the presidency.

I regularly give thanks he didn’t see much worse – that he never knew of Donald J. Trump.

It’s no exaggeration to write in this space that I fear for our country and for our collective futures. The man is an ignorant fool, unwilling to learn or listen. He’s like a destructive child wanting to break all his toys in fits of anger. His election buffoonery has turned to unbridled rage at the President who preceded him and he’s carrying out a child-like tantrum to destroy anything with Barack Obama’s name attached. He has shown himself to be a vile, treacherous human being.

His outrageous attack on the ACA – Obamacare – will not only result in the loss of heath care for millions of Americans, it will assuredly result in the death of many. Children with life-long, pre-existing conditions, adults needing specialized medical attention, seniors who can’t afford prescriptions, anyone whose needs exceed their ability to pay- all will be left to uncertain futures. And, again, even death.

The nearly unanimous voices of health care professionals – and their institutions of healing – said “NO.” Americans by the hundreds of millions said “NO.” Even the insurance industry said “NO.” But he shunned all and uprooted the foundations of America’s health systems which will, eventually, affect just about anyone in the country.

He’s undertaken other destructive acts against the government and the governed. But the most destructive of all was to name a Cabinet of zealots dedicated to undermining – and in some cases – destroying the very agencies they oversee.

Justice, Health & Human Services, Treasury, EPA and the rest are being ransacked while Trump keeps everyone’s attention with his outrageousness. Professionals necessary to carry out missions are resigning by the thousands. Trump spies have been inserted in all agencies. Regulations designed to protect are being shredded. Hundreds of attempts are underway to privatize everything from the post office to air traffic control. Even the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA). Just about any service or government support role.

You can add his deliberate verbal attacks on our European and other international allies. He’s severely undermined American’s role as a world leader. Our nation is now looked upon as unreliable in our treaties, our promises of aid and our military protection should those become necessary. We are regarded with universal suspicion and anger.

He’s threatened to abandon an American protectorate following a massive hurricane which has left the entire population in danger. He is ignorant of our laws regarding our responsibilities to citizens of such countries and has been petulant about coming to their aid and assistance.

Finally, he’s playing “nuclear chicken” with another madman. I’ve come to pray each night there’ll be a world to wake up to in the morning. He talks of “nuclear war” with absolute disregard of the accompanying nuclear devastation. His childlike belligerence in such verbosity is frightening people all over the world. Even his fellow Republicans have openly expressed the hope there are enough “adults” around Trump to keep him from starting a nuclear conflagration.

Yes, I’m glad Dad never met “President” Donald J. Trump. I’m also sorry that, as a solid middle class American in the first years of the 20th Century, he had to come to the late realization that honesty, sincerity and service-above-self, didn’t always describe an American President.

Trump just plain scares me to death!

Fire the lot of ’em

Author: admin

Bolstered by a series of recent events, I’ve come to a new theory about where this nation went wrong – politically speaking. That was when employment in Congress was allowed to become full-time.

Over the years, many events pointed to this fact. Created some thought. Created some talk. But the Las Vegas massacre- and the absolutely blank stare coming out of Washington in its aftermath – really drove it home.

While even the NRA felt moved to say SOMETHING post-Vegas, congressional Democrats – damned near all of ‘em – have kept their collective mouth shut. The best the Republicans have come up with is “Now is not the time to discuss this.” “NOT THE TIME?”

When Pearl Harbor was bombed, was our political response “Now is not the time” to talk about our new “relationship” with the Japanese empire? When London was bombed in ‘39-40 did Churchill say “Now is not the time to discuss it?”

With the streets of Vegas still wet with blood and the cries of the wounded filling the air, there was no better time. The Vegas mass killing was not the first in the last 50 years. Or even the 40th or the 105th or any number up to about 600. To most members of Congress, it was – ho hum – just another bad day on the streets. Pure B.S.

When those guys in Philly in 1776 were writing our most important founding document, they were “part-timers.” A lot of’ em had to take some occasional time off to go home and tend the crops or do store inventories or see if the church flock was still O.K.. They all had full-time responsibilities at home while sitting in a sweltering meeting room arguing about taxes and slavery. They intended the next Congress be part-time as well. And the Congress after that. And the next. And the next. Legislating was supposed to be something you did for a short time each year. Volunteer, as it were.

No more. For far too many years – far too many decades – the first concern of members has been job security. Not the needs of the country. Not dealing with the issue(s) de jour. Not tending to the real needs of the constituency. No. The topmost concern and the reason behind nearly every action taken – or inaction – has been continued employment.

I’ve fought tooth-and-toenail for years against term limits. And I’ve backed up that strident opposition with hard facts about the dangers of such a monumental shift in governance. I believe – with all my heart – service by anyone of no more than eight years in D.C. would open us to a whole new set of problems.

BUT………………..

If we continue with this open-ended employment, we are going to further inbreed the political species with even less concern – much less contact – with the constituent. Us!

To the current denizen of the marble halls, lobbyists and billionaires have become THE “constituent.” Indeed, some members of Congress flat out refuse to meet with the folks at home. If you can’t flash a big check, many won’t even answer the phone. And, if your combination of cash and clout are large enough – say the NRA for the purposes of this discussion – no one at home who cast a ballot in the last election will even get a conscious thought. The “continued employment” autopilot will take over.

There is currently no issue – up to and including fulfilling the legal responsibility for declaring war – that can get the legally required attention of enough members to get the issue to the floor. We’re now in at least three undeclared wars without the constitutionally-required congressional authority. One of ‘em goes back 15 years!

Yes, there are still a few members who think and speak for themselves without the hands of a lobbyist up their backside. Good folks trying to do good jobs against an overwhelming tide of self-service. To suddenly go to term limits would certainly mean throwing out both the bath water and the baby. Damned shame.

But, if we don’t get control of this situation, continued electoral inbreeding will result in ever-distant governance and a “ruling class” with little to no concern for those ruled. Congress will become a self-perpetuating, intellectually vacant body from which voters will be separated.

I’ve been wrong on this issue. The time has come to apologize to the bathing youngster, open the nearest window and give a large heave ho.

Words that don’t come

Author: admin

“I pledge allegiance to the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands.”

Period.

With all this B.S. about people kneeling during our National Anthem – and the millions that seem to miss the point of the demonstration entirely – I’ve got a confession to make. Attending events where the Pledge of Allegiance is recited has become a problem for me.

I first noticed this some weeks back. A weekly service club session was being opened with the usual prayer and “The Pledge.” About halfway through the recitation, I realized I’d stopped speaking. Just quit midpoint without any conscious thought.

Later, given my outsized sense of curiosity, I wondered about the sudden realization – trying to figure out how long this absence of full verbal citizenship participation had been going on. I couldn’t determine an exact time or date but it seemed clear this experience had happened before. So, the next thought was to ask “why?” That was much easier to determine.

The phrase “one nation” has not applied to my native country for far too many years. We are NOT “one nation.” We’re a badly fractured nation. And it’s getting worse.

GOP pollster Pat Caddell and EMC Research have done some serious examinations of our national psyche. Using multiple methodologies, they’ve determined two-thirds of us believe we have no voice in government. More than that, 73-percent of us believe our government no longer rules with the “consent of the governed.” Us. You and me.

“People like to say the country is more divided than ever,” Caddell says. “But, in fact, the country is united in believing two things: the political class does not represent them and the system is rigged against them.”

Here’s one of his proofs. He posed a hypothetical race for President – Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie and Candidate “Smith” about whom nothing was known except Smith was running on a platform of “reform.” The results? Clinton 24 percent – Christie 12 percent – Smith 55 percent. Anyone see a Trump here?

There were other questions Caddell has asked for years – significantly the one dealing with trust in government. A record 79 percent responded they trust government to do the right thing “never” or only “some of the time.” More than 75 percent said politicians didn’t care for people like them – the highest percentage since 1952. Just ten years ago, 50 percent disagreed.
“One nation?” Hardly.

The next words – “under God” – have always been troublesome. They weren’t part of the original pledge – added in the 1950’s after a lot of debate by a Congress seeing imagined Communists behind every tree. Despite ascribing phony claims of “Christian patriotism” much later by the radical crowd, many of our founders were quite pointed about their actions and some had no direct relationship to a “Supreme Being.” While many were religious in their own lives – and at least one was an ordained minister – Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others clearly delineated a separation from “divine” inference in their works. Those associations with “Christianity” and “God” were created later – many years later.

The “under God” inclusion also seems to me to rule out full participation of citizenship or full-throated “love of country” by those who may not believe in the God so many of us casualty refer to as if only we had divine understanding and a close relationship. What about Atheists or Deists or others not given to believing in the God referred to in the words “under God?” Can they fully subscribe to the Pledge or are they promising “allegiance” to something they don’t truly believe in?

Then you come to “liberty and justice for all.” Anyone here want to make the case those words ring true? Anyone? I can’t. Deprivation and injustice are too common in our nation. “Liberty” and “justice” have been denied for so many. I cannot say those words with conviction. It’s simply untrue.

None of this should be taken as a lessening of love of country or some sort of reduced belief on my part in the greatness and promise of America. Not a word. But, if others are having trouble with our National Anthem and the traditional Pledge of Allegiance as serious expressions of citizenship “for all,” maybe it’s time for some editing. Maybe we ought to look at where this nation really is and create a new set of words more in keeping with our realities. Maybe we need to change the whole thing.

Or maybe – just maybe – we ought to change conditions in our country. Maybe “The Pledge” is still appropriate but we’ve allowed too many nutcase voices to distract us from the true meaning of the words. Maybe the ignorance and self-service pervading our politics need to be rooted out and replaced with thoughtful, intelligent minds that can reshape our nation to those values described in “The Pledge.” Maybe it is WE who’ve failed the real meaning of those words and have let them become just innocuous phrases we recite without feeling. Without conviction.

Surely we can be a nation like that again. Where reciting “The Pledge” is more than just a duty. Where it can again become an individual yet all-inclusive honor.