Archive for December, 2018

The “base”

Author: admin

Here a “base.” There a “base.” Everywhere a “base, base.” (With apologies to Old McDonald.)

Our national media, it seems, can’t do a Trump story about anything he says or does without referring to his “base.” Whatever the action, whatever the latest lie, there’s constant referral to his “base.”

A political base is not news. Roosevelt had one. Truman had one. Lincoln had one. Even George Washington had one. All presidents have a base. It’s not something we need to be reminded of over and over and over again.

Aside from being a meaningless appendage to any news item, it should be remembered Trump’s “base” is a statistical minority of voters. Poll after poll shows that “base” at 35-40 percent. Recent sampling has those numbers slowly dropping. In other words, a minority becoming a more distinct minority. Given that Trump is slowly alienating one segment of the population after another – as predicted – the continual talk about his “base” is going to be even more irrelevant.

Which begs the question: “Why continue to put a focus on something that is both meaningless and unnecessary?”

It can’t automatically be assumed those leaving his “base” of support are becoming Democrats. In fact, the fear is they could be turned-off, non-voters in the 2020 elections. Which would be a loss to all of us.

Democrats would be well-advised to identify those regretting their previous votes for Trump and make an extra effort to gain their support. Not by some pie-in-the sky nonsense currently being espoused by the “new left.” Go back to the “lunch bucket” approach Democrats seem to have forgotten in recent elections. Jobs, health care, education, etc. And not just “talk-the-talk” but seriously “walk-the-walk.”

Though the aforementioned polling shows weaker support for Trump, no other recent sampling I’ve seen indicates more backing for Democrats. It’s likely there won’t be more significant support if the Party doesn’t get back to those basics.

Trump’s been demanding a “wall.” Well, he’s about to get one. The name is Nancy Pelosi. She’s a tougher wall for Trump than any wall an engineer could design for our Southern border. Pelosi is far more qualified for her job than he is for his. She’s been to many a congressional “rodeo” and has more than her share of “belt buckles.”

But, she also has a problem in the new House majority – that “new left.” Before being sworn-in next month, some are “demanding” changes. Skip the seniority system. Create new committees for this and that. Seat some of the new faces up front in the House. Before locating the member bathrooms, some want their “needs” recognized “NOW!”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) has become a media darling even before her term begins. She’s also shown how little she knows – and how little she understands – about being a member of Congress. She’s being made a “celebrity” instead of someone elected to do a well-defined constitutional job.

House members are elected for two-years. Fixed. Celebrity comes and goes. Mostly goes. Once someone new comes along who catches the public attention – and the media spotlight – today’s “celebrity” is yesterday’s news. Forgotten. Ocasio-Cortez is flirting with that at the moment. She needs to read her job description and post it prominently on her office wall. Then follow it!

It can be safely assumed, since her “green committee” idea died aborning, that she and Pelosi have had “the talk.” The new representative’s “base” is in New York City. Pelosi’s “base” is sitting on the new majority side in the House. That’s a “BASE!”

Democrats have a base now with the American voter. From all appearances, a lot of non-Democrats agreed to be members of that base in November. For now. Those folks are watching to see if what badly needs to be done actually gets done. If it does, we’ll likely see a “sweep” in 2020. If not, the majority will again be a minority. Pelosi knows that. In spades.

As for Trump’s “base,” safe betting is it will continue to shrink. Probably not much more. But, some. Whether he finishes his term in office or in prison, that “base” is becoming more irrelevant. Both for him. And, I hope, the national media!

Life after death

Author: admin

In the weeks since the November elections, Republicans in several states have reacted to losses at the polls by trying their damndest to cripple their duly elected replacements.

Acting like spoiled children on a playground who’ve lost while playing by the rules, they’ve been changing the rules. In those cases, new GOP laws (those rules) and legal responsibilities of governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state and similar officials now limit the powers of incoming Democrats.

Here, in our desert oasis, we’ve been given a similar “slap-in-the-face” by our – need I say it – Republican governor. He’s resurrected a political loser at the polls by giving her the U.S. Senate seat voters wouldn’t. Another loser “wins.”

Our two candidates to replace Sen. Jeff Flake were both members of the U.S. House. Voters in this “purple” state gave the job to the Democrat. So, the Republican was rejected with two more months in office. Most folks thought that was that.

Aha! But, wait! For defeated, voter-rejected GOP candidates, there’s “life after death.” At least for Martha McSally. Mitch McConnell’s choice for the open Seat of the late John McCain.

Former Senator John Kyl had been keeping the seat warm. But, guess what? A couple of weeks ago, Kyl said he’d quit the end of the this month, ahead of schedule, and before the January swearing in of the next Congress.

So, our Republican governor quickly announced his replacement – Martha McSally – who gets a couple of days seniority over the duly-elected Democrat. Important for choosing office space and other perks.

McSally was the made-to-order candidate for Republicans. An incumbent, of course. Pretty good on her feet when campaigning. Experienced on Capitol Hill. But, more than that, she was the first female USAF fighter pilot to see combat. A fact she kept way out in front in her campaign.

But, to me, the most important “out front” campaign claim was her repeated bald face lie that she had protected- and would continue to protect – our health care insurance, especially for those with pre-existing conditions.

Yes, a lie, if you bothered to check her recorded votes in the House the last two years. More than 50 times, she voted to kill the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. Always “no.” Always. But, in her campaign ads, especially late in the race, there she was. Her voice. Her picture. She lied about other things as well, which seems to be accepted conduct these days for hungry office-seekers of both parties. But, who’s counting?

It was the “straight-into-the-camera” health insurance lies that were her most blatant. Black and white. Many Republican incumbents did the same this year. Some won with the lie – some didn’t. Those who won while lying did so because a poorly informed – or uninformed – electorate didn’t check and didn’t hold them accountable.

We’re living in a strange “Alice In Wonderland” political world at the moment. Where lies are used in place of truth. Where voters reject your candidacy, but you still win. Where losers in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere rewrite laws to cripple the winners. Where South Carolina Republicans want to cancel the 2020 presidential primary so Trump won’t have opposition. Where voter laws are ignored but the “winners” still “win” and the “losers” still “lose.”

I don’t know what’s happened to the Republican Party. No more Nelson Rockefellers, Barry Goldwaters, Bob Doles, Warren Rudmans, Jim McClures, Dwight Eisenhowers, Henry Cabot Lodges.

The “law-and-order” Party now conducts law-breaking operations to stop legal asylum-seekers from entering the country to make their cases. A Republican Congress refuses to exercise its constitutionally required “checks-and-balances” on an out-of-control President who’s operating like a banana republic dictator. It allows trade wars to be started unilaterally; international treaty obligations broken. It conceals scientifically-supported reports. Cuts academic, health and scientific research funding. Denies veteran’s their full benefits. Puts thousands of children in makeshift prisons.

None of that – none – could be assigned to the Republican Party I was raised to respect. It has become a home for congressional cowardice, ruinous policy-making, treacherous behavior in our international conduct, a “home” for racists, anti-Semites and radicals and a threat to the lives of people struggling with health problems beyond their control.

A responsible political party does not do those things. Does not countenance those things. Doesn’t make losers winners.

Oh, wait. There’s Arizona.

Stay in your lane

Author: admin

Though well into the late senior years at our house, we like to think we’re still flexible in adjusting to new ways. We try to accept and adapt. “Change,” they say, “is the only constant.” We like to think we’re open to that.

Well, at four score and two, I’ve “hit the wall.” The politically correct and the do-gooders have lost me. I’ve been wavering for a long time, but, chances are, they’ve lost me permanently.

What finally pushed me over the edge was the decision at an Ohio radio station to stop playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” That hacked it!

Anyone who can find “sexual innuendo” and “suggestive lyrics” in Ricardo Montalban singing the words to Esther Williams has one of the sicker minds around. And the station “management” that pulled that song from its rotation should be ashamed.

Listen to any contemporary music format – especially Rap – and you’ll hear lyrics of sexual assault, murder, cop killing, rioting, Satanism and on and on. In fact, Rap had its roots in protest and violence. Many of its popular “stars” have been killed in violent ways.

Compare those “lyrics” to recordings of “Baby, It’s Cold…” by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney or any of the dozens of other artists who’ve crooned those words. Even Lawrence Welk!

We live in a crude world. Much more so in the last few years. Nobody chose it. But, here we are. I’m often amazed at how much vile junk is on Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the “social” media. I try not to use most of the terms or even condone much of it. Still, I admit to passing some of it along as “humor.” Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But, that’s our world today.

Go to any sporting event. Pay a hundred bucks or so and sit in the audience of nearly any show by today’s top performers. Even ride public transportation or just walk down any street. Crude doesn’t even come close to describing what you’ll hear.

We also live in a world where too much attention is paid to a few people – a distinct minority of people – continually trying to push their lifestyles, beliefs, religion and demands on the rest of us. The “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” fiasco is simply the latest and most outrageous example.

Most of the time, the naysayers for almost anything use religion – or “personal discomfort” – as the basis for their objections. Ironic that, at the same time they’re using their beliefs to justify umbrage, the numbers of people attending church these days is in distinct decline.

There’s another anomaly at play with many of these pious folk. While using religious beliefs as justification for trying to control the rest of us, many of these same people are devoted followers of a President whose warped lifestyle, repeated violations of his marriage vows, corrupt business practices and serial lying they accept. Even venerate.

We’re told the first settlers came to this country seeking religious freedom – the right to practice what they believed without interference. A couple hundred years later, those who put our national demands for freedom on paper refused to adopt a national religion. “To each his own,” was the idea.

I grew up in a small Oregon town where a little old woman genuflected to parking meters and believed God spoke to her from fire hydrants. Crazy? Maybe. But no one stopped her or, to my knowledge, ever objected.

Religion, in belief and practice, is – and should be – a private matter. On that issue, we’re a nation founded on the basis of absolute religious freedom. But, it cuts both ways. Accept and believe what you will. But, show me the same courtesy.

There’s a recent catchphrase going around. “Stay in your lane.” It most often means, “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.” Makes a lot of sense. Especially when it comes to religious beliefs and practices as those white-wigged gentlemen wrote many years ago.

The manager of that Ohio radio station – and others who cave to minority voices making ridiculous demands – should use some common sense when making decisions that affect the rest of us. We don’t all “march to the same drummer.”

One more thing. Based on a long life dealing with the public, when it comes to those who opposed Ricardo’s crooning, I’d like to see their Internet browsing history. But, I’ll just stay in my lane. For now.

Other duties as assigned

Author: admin

As a Republic, we’re living in dangerous times. Unlike the past, when wars defined the danger, we’re at war with ourselves. And, it seems at moments, much of the rest of the world.

Divisions, tribalism, racism, anti-Semitism, far right and far left hate mongers, sexism, laws based on lies, ignorance and political self-service being enacted in state-after-state. Our federal judiciary is being filled with wholly unqualified but politically expedient nominees, mass media outlets spewing flat out lies and fictitious “stories” passed off as “news.”

These and more demonstrations of outrageous national conduct are threatening our freedoms, our place in world societies, our relationships with other nations and even with each other. Add in the most repeatedly proven self-dealing serial liar and least qualified president in our long history. All of this portends a future – at least a short-term future – of anger, fear, resentment and great difficulty effectively governing with such dangers.

Fearful? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Pleasing to our enemies? Yes. All of that and more.

So, we’ve turned to a federal prosecutor. A Marine veteran with a political and judicial histories that are truly outstanding. We’ve given him the task of sorting out the criminals, crimes, lies, double-dealing, treacheries and illegal conduct that have been the sources of much of these dangers. We’ve assigned him and his team the job of rooting out perpetrators and reporting to our Congress and to us his evidence-based findings.

At about the 18 month point of his work, the investigation seems only about at the mid-point. Starting with some low-level actors and a couple dozen Russians, there have already been subpoenas, evidence of criminal activity, confessions and a few prison sentences. Enough evidence proving the digging must continue.

The most recent “crooks de jure” are Roger Stone and several of his sycophants. These hangers-on in the netherworld of the national Republican Party are really the dregs of the political “barrel.” If you look at their backgrounds – one low-level patronage job after another over the years – it’s not hard to see why they find themselves staring into the face of some jail time.

All of them – “without portfolio” – have accomplished or contributed nothing. But, they’ve made a good living trying to associate themselves with people in power. They’ve bragged about their “importance” and their “access” to political folks in high office. Stone, in particular, became a right-wing media “darling” with claims of being a “mover-and-shaker.” His bragging included Wikileaks connections, his links with Russians and his access to “halls of power” in Congress and the White House.

Now, with little evidence they ever accomplished anything of importance, Stone and company have talked – bragged – themselves into the criminal “stew” in the crucible of the Muller investigation. Their years of touting false claims of exaggerated importance may, finally, put them in little rooms where the sunshine is seen only through the bars.

The longer the Muller investigation goes, it appears we may have asked him to do something else – something even more important than just rooting out political criminal activity. “Other duties as assigned” as it were. We seem to have tasked him to clean up the mess – to “cleanse” the system of liars, cheats, double-dealers, self-servers, crooked politicians and the treachery in the White House.

If Muller’s report is published before January, it’ll likely hit the Speaker’s desk with a loud “thud” followed by silence. But, if it comes after that, there will certainly be impeachment action in that same House. Then, the next step would be in the Senate where a trial is required by law.

Would the Senate, where everything is controlled by Republicans, hold that trial? That’s far from certain. Odds at the moment, probably 50-50. Whether action would follow would most likely hinge on who’s identified by Mueller as guilty of wrongdoing, what that wrongdoing was, what damage has been done, what that damage consists of and whether there are a lot of “co-conspirator #1″ citations.

The Roger Stones of the world are just grist left on the mill floor. Their only use in what Muller is doing is to be rungs on the ladder to the next level of proven criminality.

There will be a report. A conclusion. A document of evidence detailing the cancer in our recent political history. It will go to Congress. But, it will also go to us. The affected. We must access it, read it carefully and thoroughly digest the details for ourselves.

Whether Congress will act is still an open question. But, as a society, we must act on the results. We cannot allow that document to be relegated to some musty shelf in the Library of Congress.

We did a little housecleaning in November. Muller’s work could prove a very useful voter’s guide for voters for years to come. And more cleaning.


Author: admin

Here are a couple of questions for you. Name the capitol of Afghanistan. Got it? What’s the answer? Here’s the second. Name two other cities. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Most people can’t name the capitol. Kabul. No one I know can name two other cities. And I’ve asked a few. Herat and Kandahar are a couple. There are many more.

Yet, young Americans have been fighting and dying there for 17 years. Seventeen years! And the vast majority of us couldn’t find the place on a map and know next to nothing about the nation or its people.

We have about 16,000 military there at the moment – down from 100,000 a couple of years ago. Our young people have died there for 17 years. The Pentagon won’t say how many. Thousands and thousands of wounded? Same non-response.

The financial cost to we taxpayers? Well, Randall Shriver is the top guy for the Defense Department in Asia. His numbers? About $5-billion a year for Afghan forces. Another $13-billion every 12 months for the U.S. military. And about $780-million more for “economic aid.” Whatever the hell that is.

When you ring up the total, adding what the military calls “miscellaneous costs,” we shelled out – in just the last year – $45-billion. Give or take a million or two. Put another way, we’ve been spending about $170-million a day!

Why? What are we doing there? To what end? To what goal? What will “peace” look like? The “peace” that seemingly will never come. How many more young Americans will have to die or be permanently scarred before “victory?” How many more trillions of dollars are we willing to throw down that Asian rat hole? This is the longest war our nation has ever fought. Why do we continue?

In recent months, an ambulance bomb killed 95 civilians. Fifty more killed at a wedding. More than 50 clerics have died ina single attack. Hundreds of other terrorist killings. And, at least a dozen American military murdered by Afghans wearing uniforms we gave them, using our rifles we taught them how to shoot. All just this year.

Afghans – who’ve been at war since the first one stood upright many centuries ago – wouldn’t know peace if it suddenly descended on them. They’ve been at war with each other – and one nation or another – since their inception. I can’t think of another country occupied more often by nation-after-invading-nation. And not one – not even one – left the soil of Afghanistan in victory and with honor.
Even our “Commander-In Chief” hasn’t dared venture there in two years in office. Nor, incidentally – to his shame – has he visited any of the other dozens of war zones where our troops are under fire.

Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley is one politician who complains about our seemingly endless involvement in that far-off sinkhole. He notes every couple of years, one U.S. administration after another claims “a corner is being turned” and “the end is in sight.” Then he lists the corruption, government dysfunction and the repeated failures of the Afghan security forces.

The fact of the matter is, Merkley says, U.S. hopes of using military force to compel the Taliban to reach a political settlement are – and have been for years – unrealistic. He notes the Taliban now controls more territory than it did in 2001.

Sen. Rand Paul, also a vocal critic, says “Tens of billions are being thrown down the hatch in Afghanistan” and he calls it “an impossible situation for which there is no hope.”

Other congressional voices mutter and complain. But, as a body, having war-making and war-ending powers, there’s absolutely no action to put an end to the tragic waste. In a heartbeat, Congress could shut off the money spigot. There’s never been a congressional declaration of war for Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or any other of the dozens of hot spots where we’re spending lives and treasure.

Congress, alone, we’re told, could end all of it by denying spending. Trump could holler, threaten and lie till he chokes, but he doesn’t control spending. The whole sad, tragic and tremendously costly “war” could be stopped. And, as so many other nations have done, we could get the hell out of there.

Imagine what we could have done for our infrastructure, our public education system, needs of our veterans, our real national defense, repairing our urgent environmental problems, health care, homelessness and so much more with the trillions we’ve wasted in undeclared wars.

Again, no voice has described “victory” in Afghanistan. Not one. Because there is none. There never has been. There never will be.

Here’s another question for you. Would you want your son or daughter on some Afghanistan battlefield?

Why can’t we learn? Why?