Archive for August, 2019

The downside

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There were other votes of his that, at the time, were probably solid but which are now outdated.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Author: admin

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

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

It was war! We won.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Melting no more

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What now

Author: admin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fallacy of ‘debates’

Author: admin

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

An “education” it was.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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