Archive for October, 2017

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.


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.”


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.