Archive for December, 2019

Helluva guy

Author: admin

Bear with me. There is a point.

In Bend, Oregon in 1949, I was an eighth-grader. Late afternoons, I was a carrier for The Bend Bulletin, the local daily.

It was the worst in-town delivery route, stretching the length of Newport Avenue (about four miles) from Wall Street downtown all the way to where the college is now. Except, in 1949, there was no college. One subscriber way out there. Just his house and Juniper forest. And the last mile of road was gravel.

Bend has winters! Real winters with lots of snow. Couldn’t ride a bike. So, loaded my carrier bag – front and back – and hiked the route, at times, in below zero weather and a foot or more of snow.

One afternoon, I was in the carrier room folding the papers I’d deliver. The circulation manager, as he often did, was in the middle of all of us, helping fold. Out of the blue, he said “Rainey, you’ve carried that damned Newport route for nearly two years without a lot of complaining. How’d you like an inside job in the printing plant?”

He didn’t have to ask twice. I was apprenticed to the linotype guys to work with the hot lead they used to make the type. Still have the scars on my wrists and fingers 70 years later. But, I loved it. Also learned composing and writing filler material. Stayed there until high school graduation in 1954.

In December, 1951, that circulation manager who helped shape my future lifetime career in the media with an act of kindness, quit to mortgage everything he had to buy an OK Rubber Welders franchise store 30 miles away in Prineville. Took every dime he could raise.

But, by 2007, he personally owned 410 stores in the western U.S. with annual sales of $1.6 billion. Half of each store’s profit went to employees who also were allowed to invest in buying the land under the store where they worked. And he only promoted from within the company. All the way to the top.

People tried many times to buy him out. Michelin tried twice. Even Warren Buffet. They always got a “NO!” He wanted his family to run it all. And they have since his death in 2007.

That circulation manager’s name was Leslie Bishop Schwab. Or simply, Les Schwab. A man I’ve admired all my life. And probably the most successful person I’ve ever known. In all ways.

His son and daughter, both company directors and well-schooled in how Les operated, died prematurely. Son of cancer; daughter in a car wreck. Les was a broken man when he passed in 2007. The grandchildren have no interest in running the business. So, now the remaining family has decided to sell it all. Bloomberg News is forecasting the company will go for “at least $3 billion!”

His slogan “If We Can’t Guarantee It, We Won’t Sell It” is recognized through out the West. Even today, employees run out to welcome customers, tire checks are free, guarantees are “rock solid” and staff treats people better than any kind of store I know.

Les was also generous in every community in each of the 13 states in which he invested. Hard to find an athletic facility for high schools or universities without a “Les Schwab Tire Centers” sign or banner. And, more often than not, a check to help things along.

In Bend, Les and his wife gave the Les Schwab Amphitheater to the city. His generosity was well known but I suspect much of it was done anonymously and we’ll never know the true extent.

Les had the most remarkable memory for names and miscellany. In his prime, he could go into nearly every store, call employees by name, knew many of their kids’ names and special things going on in their lives like college or the military. He shook more hands than any politician I’ve ever known. And I’ve known many.

Les was truly “one-of-a-kind” in business, philanthropy, personal relationships with employees – top to bottom – and fair-minded in everything he put his hand to. I’m certain he had a very positive influence on hundreds – if not thousands – of lives. Like mine.

It’s been probably 40 years since I last saw Les. He was still in his prime. And after years of being apart, he still remembered my name and those days folding newspapers behind that Oregon printing plant.

I’ve had a lot of cars and trucks in my life. Lots. And, I’ve bought lots of replacement tires. But, always at a Les Schwab Tire Center.

Our most recent car will need replacement tires one of these days and we haven’t found a Les Schwab Tire Center in Phoenix yet. If we haven’t found one by the time the need arises, we’ll take a run on Interstate 10 to Nevada.

Extra effort. Extra expense. But, if Les were there, I know he’d say “Thank You.”

Helluva guy.

Where’d that come from

Author: admin

When Trump was elected, I turned to Barb and said “Before he’s out of office, he’ll piss off everybody who supports him.”

Comes now “Christianity Today.” The alternate Bible of the Evangelical right. “Trump Must Go” the headline blared. Followed by the editor’s statement “That he should be removed, we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.”

Well, that about settles it. Aside from a spineless, cowardly and deliberately self-debasing group of Republicans on Capitol Hill, who’s left to anger?

“Christianity Today” has only about 100-thousand subscribers plus a couple of million online readers. Not big numbers when speaking of a national publication. But, big numbers aren’t what’s important here.

What IS important is that “crack-in-the-dike” statement comes, not from some “left-leaning newspaper” as Trump called it, but from a most-respected, basic source of information established in 1956 by Evangelical icon, Rev. Dr. Billy Graham.

While Rev. Billy’s offspring, Franklin, is considered by many to have lost touch with his father’s more reasoned outlook on Christianity, the senior Graham is still held in great esteem by those folk, even after his death.

Yes, Dr. Billy was, by his own recorded words, an anti-Semite. And, yes, some of his documented, private statements are considered racist. But, he represented, to the faithful, someone who spoke for the Almighty and his often fiery crusade sermons ignited internal – if not lasting – flames in millions of hearts. Now in TV reruns, the crusade effect is still much the same.

So, with the denunciation of Trump as the banner headline on the elder Graham’s own beyond-the-grave connection to today’s Evangelicals, you wonder if this is an awakening of sorts that’ll carry some authority.

Trump has, from his first days, shown his personal disloyalty to anyone who appears to be a threat. Anyone. He’s thrown so many under the bus in three years that it’s on its fourth set of tires.

Now, he has the impeachment noose draped loosely around his neck, waiting to see if Mitch McConnell comes back from Christmas vacation to set him free or if he’ll spring the trap door. I’d bet on the former but don’t discount the latter.

McConnell is in a serious race to keep his own chair in the Senate. Amy McGrath is not someone he can dismiss. She’s already run one good statewide race and is getting a lot of national support. If McConnell spends the next 30 days at home and senses some unfamiliar rumblings, such as the Evangelical pronouncement, ol’ Mitch might get himself a dose of “Come to Jesus” and reflect anew on his impeachment duties.

I wouldn’t bet the farm on him changing. But, I’ve got a gut feeling a two-week hiatus at home might change some positions on all sides of those proceedings. At the moment, Speaker Pelosi appears to have the whip hand. And Mitch is blustering and making crazy claims that impeachment won’t happen on his watch.

I know, from personal experience, Washington D.C. can be a very isolating place. Spend a year there and your contact with the outside world becomes tenuous and your sense of reality is about as accurate as a mirror at a carnival fun house.

Since September, denizens of that unreal domain have been locked, one way or another, in impeachment activities. Arguments, hearings and whip counts have been grueling and constant. Added to the normal Potomac distorted view of things, some may have lost contact with what’s happening at home and need to spend some time with the locals.
This “Christianity Today” abandonment of Trump is going to take some time to shake out. There’ll be some sermons preached, some camp meeting discussions and some coffee sessions about this turn of Evangelical events. Some may, because of the article, review their own stand on Trump. Some may back away. Some may hang in there.

The last shoe hasn’t dropped on this impeachment business. In all likelihood, there’ll be more unexpected developments. Suppose Trump decides he wants Bolton and his other sycophants to testify. Doubtful, but just suppose. What if a handful of GOP Senators tell Mitch the folks back home don’t see things his way? Could happen. And what if other respected Evangelical voices view the surprising headline from Rev. Billy’s little newspaper as a clarion “call to arms?” Could be.

Trump’s got just short of 13 months left in office. If he makes it that far. And, let’s not forget those brain-dead GOPer’s who’ve covered his backside so far on Capitol Hill. What are they going to find at home in the coming weeks? Sufficient disagreement from constituents so we’ll see more cracks?

You know, there’s no political instinct stronger than self-preservation. Makes people do all sort of crazy things. Nope. It ain’t over. And I don’t see the “fat lady” standing in the wings.

I give up

Author: admin

The time has come to throw in the towel. Yes. This is a rant.

We have three daughters in our family. All of them were once 16-years-old. Trump’s unbelievable attack on 16-year-old Greta Thunberg made me think of our own former 16-year-olds.

If someone – anyone – had publically gone after any one of them at anytime in any place, I’d have cleaned his clock on the spot! Never mind the Asperger’s Syndrome. Just the thought of a demented, immoral, vacuous, ego-ridden, lying son-of-a-bitch shaming the Office of the President of the United States by attacking a child brings on a level of hatred I’ve never felt before.

God knows, I’ve tried to hold out hope someone – ANYONE – in Republican “leadership” would reach a point where someone – ANYONE – would take a stand opposing the racist, lying misogynist in the White House. It hasn’t happened. And, based on the deafening silence after this most recent hateful tirade, it ain’t gonna happen!

I was raised in a good Republican home. An Eisenhower Republican home. Some of my earliest memories are of Republicans, both local and in Congress. Some of my earliest use of the voting franchise was for Republicans. The GOP was part of my growing up.

Now, I’ve become an Independent and have voted for a goodly number of Democrats. I’ve held out hope for the Republican Party that the whole bunch was just “going through a phase” and would eventually come to their senses.

I give up!

There are – give or take – about 215 Republicans in Congress. They outrightly control half of Capitol Hill. About 215. And not one – not ONE – of any seniority can sound a moral alarm and say to the rest of us “This is wrong?” Not ONE?

Now, the Republican Senate Majority Leader says he’s “working closely with the White House” and assures us Trump “will not be removed from office” regardless of the Articles of Impeachment adopted by the House. He may even be acquitted! So much for the Constitutional requirements of his office. So much for the oath he took as a Senator. So much for the juror’s oath before the trial.

Something of a systemic cancer has metastasized in the elected GOP body politic. The anti-deficit, limited government, lower taxes, more individual freedom party has done a l-80. None of those qualities – not one – can still honestly be offered by Republican candidates.

They’ve driven deficits to record highs. They’ve used government to invade the lives of their perceived “enemies.” They’re squandering taxes with massive giveaways to the rich. They’ve deprived thousands of freedom-seeking immigrants of their legal rights. They’ve jailed thousands of innocents. Even children stripped from their parents.

The GOP has stood mute as Trump has intimidated and threatened. They’ve tried again and again to take access to life-saving medical care and health insurance from millions of Americans. They’ve allowed the most corrupt, inexperienced and arrogant presidential cabinet in history to savage the environment, stymie science, deny realities of climate change and slash programs that have adversely affected the lives of millions.

And one more thing: the 60-million or so Americans who look the other way, abiding such behavior while supporting this outrage. The 60-million or so who can swallow what the Republican Party has become under Trump and still waste their precious vote no matter the moral and civic devastation being wrought by him and his accomplices.

I’m sick to death of hearing phony Republican/phony Christian “moralists” weeping and tearing their clothing over abortion while standing silent as children by the thousands are locked in cages without the care you’d give a serial killer on death row. Save the seed but, once born, they’re someone else’s problem. What the Hell is “Christian” about that?

Yes, this is a rant. But, it’s also a statement of total frustration and condemnation of an entire political party unwilling to act responsibly – much less live the oath of office all have sworn to – in the face of an abominable, amoral, racist demagogue.

The Republican Party as we’ve known it – the party of conservatism, thrift, moral value and limited government – is no more. Current members of Congress have betrayed the trust of voters who bought the promises and rhetoric of previous elections. There are no more Rockefellers, Eisenhowers, Doles, Goldwaters, Bakers, McCains. Just a bunch of moral cowards lacking the courage – or even respectable decency – to “walk the talk” of their sacred oaths.

Rant over. And so, too, respect for a party of voiceless, morally vagrant, cowardly, self-serving national embarrassment.

My apologies

Author: admin

I owe each of you my most sincere personal and professional apologies.

A week ago in this space, I urged everyone to contact Republicans in Congress, giving each one a dose of reality surrounding the need for impeachment. A mission to give them facts they never get from Faux Neus and the other demented far-right mouthpieces.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. But, that was before the latest House Judiciary Committee hearings. Before one of the GOPer’s told a law professor she obviously wasn’t interested in “facts.” That was before several other miscreants publically showed their extreme ignorance of both truth and reality.

The mission I suggested earlier was based on a sincere belief on my part that maybe there would be some Republicans who would respond to factual information of the criminal acts which Donald Trump and his minions have committed. It’s become increasingly clear, any attempts to bring legitimate, factual data into their corrupted worlds would be useless.

Again, I’m deeply sorry I brought the whole thing up. Making my bonehead idea even worse has been the release, in the interim, of the deeply factual and superbly documented report of the House Intelligence Committee.

Though damning enough to put a rope around Trump’s neck, subsequent utterings of dozens of Republicans have shown statements of fact, professionally compiled research, cross-referenced documentation and pinpoint statutes of laws violated aren’t acceptable. The massive accumulation of proof of wrongdoing doesn’t match the output of Faux Neus and the other “reliable” sources of “information” they cling to.

Thus, no amount of reality could penetrate the fog of near-hysteria many of those people live in. The earth is flat. Men and dinosaurs lived at the same time. The earth is only about 10,000 years old. Ectopic pregnancies can be reversed. Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. Why can’t the rest of us just accept that?

Every person serving in Congress – every one – takes an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Before the upcoming impeachment trial in the Senate, all members will be required to take a second oath, pledging to act as jurors with open minds. All of them. All 100.

Based on the hard evidence of documented statements by some of those eventual “jurors,” we know for a fact some Senators will lie through their teeth. Facts be damned!

Even the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has said he won’t read the reports, won’t review the evidence and won’t watch the hearings which he’s repeatedly labeled a “sham.”

Fair trial? Adherence to the two oaths taken by all Senators to “uphold the Constitution” and, as jurors, decide the issue before them on the facts? The evidence? Undertake the task with “open minds?” Ya think?

We’re living in a time when too many of those who make the laws won’t follow the law. Where those charged with leading this nation, making our country safe, providing necessary care for the poor, assuring equality regardless of race or other factors, determining fair and equitable taxation and sponsoring “domestic tranquility” make mockeries of the oaths taken before God and man on open Bibles.

We daily note the lies, distractions, hypocrisy and determined ignorance of too many of the same people we elected to do all that. We’re made to feel, in our “heart of hearts,” governance by responsible public servants has been replaced by an out-of-control Congress filled with tribalism and “faith in false prophets” subverting truth and honor.

My previous attempt in this space to bring enlightenment to unenlightened Republicans living in factual darkness was a fool’s errand. Too many are wrongfully dedicated to avoiding reality, to following the “herd,” to continuing to support the most flawed president in our history.

To that last point, if Democrats can ultimately get themselves fully aligned behind an acceptable candidate, and work the electoral process as professionals seeking a common goal, Trump won’t be there for Republicans to cling to in 13 months. What happens then? Where do his sycophants turn for continued protection from reality? What will be their futures?

One would hope – one would pray – that their numbers eventually decrease to be replaced by new faces with new ideas to rebuild a political party necessary to re-balance our political process. At our house, we’re doing both – hoping and praying.

So, again, my apologies for my past attempt to bring light where there is only dedicated darkness. I was wrong.

Maybe, just maybe

Author: admin

Thanksgiving is not a day when you necessarily expect political enlightenment. Yet, here in 2019, it happened at our house.

Charlie Dent used to be in Congress representing a district in Pennsylvania. Slightly conservative but offers his political thoughts in a more moderate tone most of the time.

As I was digesting one of Barb’s better turkey dinner offerings, Dent was talking to the folks at CNN. He was asked why so many Republicans in Congress seem to solidly back Trump.

He started his answer with the statement that many of his former caucus mates are actually disgusted with Trump, tired of his lies, tired of appearing to support him when they know he’s guilty on a number of counts.

Then, he added this bon mot: “Because what they hear from constituents in their districts is to continue to support him against the impeachment proceedings.” That Trump’s “their guy.” That’s what they hear constantly.

The enlightenment didn’t start immediately. It took a few seconds.

It started with this. Given most Republicans in the House are of a conservative nature – some to the right of Ivan the Terrible – who would be writing, talking, emailing them and telling them to “stay the course” with Trump? Who are they hearing from?

“The people who voted for those members and Trump,” the words formed silently in my head. And this: “The same people who get their daily dose of rightwing “reality” from Faux Neus and Limbaugh and Hannity, etc..” They live in a “closed circuit” world.

Then, this: “What if they heard from folks – lots of folks – thousands of folks in the real world – with real facts – telling them facts they never get from Faux Neus? What if their inboxes, email and phone messages were filled by the barrelful with facts they don’t get in their usual travels?”

To put it bluntly, what if Democrats – yes, Democrats – started emailing, writing, calling those “conservative” members of Congress they only complain about? What if Democrats in those Republican districts took on the role of some of those “pray and pay” slickers on TV and started a little evangelizing?”

What if those Republican members, living in rightwing isolationism, got a huge dose of in-your-face truth/facts from voices they don’t encounter in their usual travels? Folks in the middle. Folks to the left of the middle. Voices they don’t regularly hear from and who aren’t parroting the latest nutcase B.S. they’re used to.

I know. I know. Maybe I’ve come a little late – possibly very late – to the party. But, I’m going to give it a try.

We live in a formerly “red” state which appears to be slowly turning “purple.” We’ve got a former astronaut Democrat named Kelly running against a 2018 GOP voter reject our GOP governor appointed to the U.S. Senate despite that rejection. That “reject” is already running ads saying “my constituents are nearly unanimous in their support of the President.” That’s because her “constituents” are all on the far right. That’s all she hears.

What if Democrats across the nation undertook a “communication campaign?” What if, instead of just complaining about the congressional Trump supporters, they deluged those Republicans with voices – and facts- they aren’t getting? What if, instead of bitching to each other, they turned that wasted energy to actively lobbying members they’ve never considered communicating with before?

Ah well, all this might just be blowing smoke in the wind. Maybe I’m overreacting to Charlie Dent’s comments.

But, then again, what have we got to lose? Why not give it a try? Maybe we can convert some shaky Republicans.

Wouldn’t you feel good?