Archive for June, 2018

Just so much property

Author: admin

There’s no question most people in this country and around the world are outraged and heartsick about what’s happening to immigrant families. Most, but sorrowfully, not all.

As if the tragedy of yanking crying toddlers and children from their mothers and fathers was not enough, the tortured “reasons” for doing so are yet another travesty.

“Like kids going to summer camp,” from Laura Ingraham. Tucker Carlson: “Keeping immigrant families together threatens ‘your country’.” “Not like Nazi’s because we’re trying to keep people from getting in, not out,” from an incredibly ignorant attorney general. Then, an out-of-context Bible quote just to feel good about the verbal sewage he’s spewing.

We’re up to our knees in idiotic effluent flowing from the mouths of uncaring zealots and bigots who’ve surrendered ideals of decency, respect for others and even the rule of law.

The chief villain here, of course, is of our demagogue-wannabe in the White House. Without him, none of this would be happening. We wouldn’t be an embarrassed and angry Republic held hostage to this travesty against humanity. We wouldn’t be a further divided country of angry voices crying out for an end to the barbarism.

To say GOP “leadership” eunuchs in Congress aren’t participating would be to ignore the realities of what’s happening. In the Senate alone, not one – not even one – will sign on to proposed legislation to end this national nightmare. Democrats can’t reach the sensibilities of a seemingly heartless – or scared – majority.

Here, in the overheated, cactus-littered Southwest, many of us are angry and frustrated. Daily conversations include mostly sorrowful expressions of our helplessness and disgust. From supermarkets to doctor’s offices to golf courses, lots of words describing local angst float about. But, ideas to end what Trump has done are few. None, actually.

That “none” certainly includes me. I’m part of the confused, angry, embarrassed, ashamed majority. But, I’d like to offer a single perspective.

I believe Trump’s approach to his disastrous presidency has been more hard-charging real estate developer than political. Were it political, in the true sense of the word – and as practiced by nearly all presidents before him – we’d likely not be in this mess. A national disgrace created and orchestrated by a single source.

Trump’s modus operandi from the beginning has been to take outrageous positions and watch the outcry. He’s set verbal “goal posts” out there and, when his demands have been met, he’s moved them still further. “Bait and switch,” as it were.

Trump has exhibited not one honest spec of human emotion for the humanitarian travesty he’s created. Not one. The reason, I think, is because he views the situation as a real estate transaction. “Here are my terms; here are my demands. Meet them and we’ve got a deal.”

He’s said as much by telling Democrats, “Put up $24 million for my wall and we’ll talk.” And he’s said it more than once. I believe he sees the families he’s destroying as bargaining chips – as leverage, if you will. Nothing more.

He’s also taken the Mueller investigation off the front pages and reduced the cable political shows coverage to a few minutes at the end of the hour. If any mention at all. He’s been successful in a verbal shell game – taking the spotlight off what’s endangering his presidency by diverting it to the heartbreak and tragedy of others.

Trump’s often given media credit for being “politically savvy.” Not true, I think. His actions since assuming the office have not been those of any real politician in memory. He’s convinced his “base” that he’s “not a politician” and that his business acumen is what’s necessary to “rescue the country from politicians.”

People are mad. They’re protesting. They’re marching. They’re shouting from the rooftops. They’re expressing sorrow and outrage as best they can. But their voices, I believe, will go unheeded. He won’t react. And the GOP won’t suddenly find the guts to slap him down.

The only answer I see is purely political. It’s at the ballot box in five months.

Importance of context

Author: admin

“In one week, Trump embraced a dictator, started a trade war with China and complicated the immigration debate.” – CNN, 6/16/18

I’ve written thousands of stories over the years in print and broadcast media. With only the occasional case of “writer’s block” that hits all professionals at times. Starting off with a lead paragraph, followed by details of the story, has never been a problem. Until now.

Each day, the “liar-in-chief” and a feckless GOP Congress conduct a reign of catastrophic acts. They’re conducting ceaseless attacks on the guts of our Republic, on the institutions of government that undergird this nation’s liberties and are now sponsoring the terrible destruction of innocent families.

In the past, stories were reported and days or weeks would pass as the facts settled in and reporters could turn attention to new happenings. No more. Now, the tragic news from Washington just keeps piling up. Investigations, crimes, attacks on the citizenry and our former allies and the lies – especially the lies – just keep coming. The quote above from CNN is exhibit “A.”

It’s virtually impossible to capture the full extent of what each daily calamity means before there’s another – and another – and another. As the catastrophic politics continue to spin, yesterday’s facts seems like ancient history.

We – and it seems the rest of the world – are under attack. On one hand, it’s a do-nothing Republican congress without the cajones to fulfill its constitutional role of a separate – but equal – power of government. Internecine wars have split the GOP into ungovernable fragments. Elected “leadership” in the House is unable to govern because 30-40 right wing cretins continue to fight any sensible political steps to get nearly anything done. In the Senate, a dictatorial majority leader has strangled both decorum and legitimate legislation.

On the other hand, given his constitutional duties, plus all the powers abrogated by that neutered Congress, an immoral, unhinged, lying President is emulating every tin hat, demagogue he’s ever heard of. He’s ignoring – and destroying – centuries of treaties, compacts, agreements and collaborative relationships this nation has ever produced. Suddenly, our friends are enemies and our enemies are “friends.”

Our defense budget is greater than the next six countries combined. But, current reckless conduct in dealing with other countries is making us more vulnerable than we’ve ever been. An oversupply of nukes, subs, bombers and warheads is being proven no match for protecting our nation’s computerized infrastructure. We can’t even vote – our most basic and cherished franchise – and know the election outcome is accurate. We’re truly in an electronic war unrecognized by many in public office and others who refuse to act.

Even established religions are being perverted. Evangelicals – that portion of our religious spectrum normally quick to call attention to public immoralities – have mostly turned a blind eye to our immoral President. Or, in statements by it’s leaders, has supported many of the lies and illegal activities emanating from both Capitol Hill and the White House.

Quite possibly the lowest point of human decency in our history is the inhumane act of splintering immigrant families. And, even there, many Evangelicals and other religious folks – in government and out – are using the Bible to support the terrorist act of destroying immigrant families.

Our Attorney General – a man not noted for an even-handed approach to enforcement of our laws – has joined the far right by quoting an out-of-context paragraph of Romans 31 to “justify” this terrible, racist tragedy. Something about using the powers of government to maintain order.

I would, instead, not-so-respectfully, direct him to an entirely “in context” entry in Second John, Chapter 11, Verse 31. In full, it simply reads, “Jesus wept.”

Certainly, so should we.

When we moved into our new home, midst some 90,000 other seniors a few months ago, I was struck by the number of 1965-1990 cars on the road around here. Some even older.

In today’s world of leasing or buying a new vehicle every few years, it seemed odd folks in our retirement haven were hanging onto such vintage wheels. After all, many living in this area of houses surrounded by golf courses have two homes. Or more. They could certainly afford to keep up with what’s new.

It took awhile to figure out this four-wheeled anomaly. And the answer is a bit surprising.

Many, it seems, don’t want to deal with all the new whistles-and-bells of technology. They feel more comfortable – and safer – with the old.

Please don’t get the idea our extra wide streets are filled with clunkers. No, Sir! We’re talking shiny paint jobs using the new longer-lasting chemicals and colors. We’re talking top notch upholstery. No pits or stains in the glass or the chrome. Latest in tire technology. Extremely well-kept cars with a few hundred thousand miles or so. Looking sharp!

Here, I need to disclose we bought a new SUV a few weeks back. Middle-of-the-line model with the usual equipment. Now, after some time driving around our silver-haired neighborhood, I understand why folks are avoiding the new.

Technology. Plain and simple. For several reasons. For one, much of the new electronic gadgetry is difficult for lots of older folk to deal with. We’re all used to dashboards of manual switches and buttons – not touch-screens and multi-function icons and buttons. Our 2018, for example, came with three – THREE – owner’s manuals. One for the overall vehicle operation and care. Two – TWO – for the electronics!

With a six button radio, for example, you don’t have to take your eyes off the road while your fingers – and mind – search for a station or the volume. With slide controls for hearing/cooling, your fingers know exactly where the right spot is. No looking away from the road to figure out which screen you want – which icon to use – what multi-function has to be changed.

If you aren’t seven or eight decades old, please don’t think these are the ramblings of some senile old guy. Not everyone here feels the same, I’m sure. But, for many, the comfort of what you’ve been used to in a vehicle for 50-60 years – the exact knowledge of where all the controls are – not wanting to turn your tri-focals away from the road at 75mph in six lanes of traffic- familiar operation is important. Could even be lifesaving.

And there’s cost: to license a new car here, it’s upwards of $450 a year. The price declines annually by $20 or so and flatlines at about 10 years. Insurance costs for older models are much less as well. Older is much more frugal.

Nearly all seniors try to keep things they’re comfortable and familiar with. A family car is one of those, it seems. The certain feel of a radio button or a headlight switch or a sliding bar on the heater control – those, too.

Besides, when the new electronics go bad – and they occasionally do – you’re out of luck if your 10-year-old grandson whiz lives clear up in Pocatello.

Seems our national media and political voices have been perpetuating a myth about our erstwhile President’s base and his clout with members thereof. And that myth appears to be dead wrong.

Cases in point: The Atlantic proclaimed Trump’s “Building a blue collar foundation.” The Associated Press questioned what “Trump’s attraction of working class voters” would mean for future elections. Even The New York Times headlined a Trump’s 2016 victory was “a decisive demonstration of power by a largely overlooked coalition of mostly blue collar White and working class voters.”

None of that appears to be true. Recent, unconnected and widely dispersed surveys support nearly none of those claims. Especially, a newly published, and heavily researched work by Professors Nicholas Carnes of Duke University and Noam Lupu of Vanderbilt.

A key finding of theirs is most previous polling didn’t ask about voter occupations which is a statistically preferred measure of social class among scholars. So, other polls didn’t know if responders were farm workers or CEOs. And pundits – as well as other “scholars” – somehow came up with the claim Trump’s base consisted of mostly people without college degrees.

Two problems there. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, for example, aren’t college graduates. But, they’re CEO’s. Very, very rich CEO’s. While they probably didn’t vote for Trump, their presence in previous voter surveys – which included income – would certainly shatter the typical Trump backer myth.

And, two, the work of Drs. Carnes and Lupu found, while 70% of Trump’s supporters don’t have degrees, 70% is the same number for all Republican voters. So, Trump’s non-college graduate number is about the same as any other successful GOPers.

There’s more. Trump’s backers are not overwhelmingly poor. About 35% had incomes of less than $50,000 a year – both Whites and Hispanics. Meaning most of his voters – about 65% – came from the better-off half of our economy.

As for education, in this statistical examination, supporters in the last election were shown to be relatively well-schooled. “There was a 15-20% difference of Trump support between those with a college degree and those without,” they found. Said another way, among Whites without degrees voting for Trump, nearly 80% were in the top half of income distribution. And this: one in five without a degree had a household income over $100,000.

We’ve been told Trump’s base is full of beer-swilling, overweight, gun-loving, Confederate flag-waving, under-educated, poor Whites. According to this study, and some other recent work, White, non-Hispanic voters without college degrees, earning below the median household income, made up only 25%. Not exactly the “trailer trash” image the media and social media portray.

Stereotyping and scapegoating descriptions are not correct images. The narrative that Trump won mostly because of “lower income, working class” communities seems not to be true. As more academics and survey outfits use better grist for questions, we’ll likely see Carnes and Lupu’s work borne out.