Archive for January, 2020

“We are lost”

Author: admin

Soon, we’ll be done with this national impeachment embarrassment and can get back to watching Donald Trump turn whatever he touches to ashes. Maybe.

Or, if scuttlebutt is accurate, we might have some witnesses and documents. Rumor at this point. But, could be.

Like too many Republican senators, I haven’t watched every “breathless” moment. And, like the petulant and shameful Lindsey Graham, I haven’t stayed in the chair in the chamber where the Republican-authored rules said he should stay. The rules, it seems, were written for Democrats only.

Unlike the disgustingly partisan Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), I chose not to fall asleep or trot back to my office to avoid listening to the evidence.

Under normal journalistic principles, I wouldn’t write a review of the proceedings until their conclusion. Normally.

But, in this case, the GOP presenters will not disappoint in their expected avoidance of accuracy, facts and truth. They’ve so often telegraphed their intent that many observers can almost write the expected headlines in advance.

“Nothing Donald Trump has done merits being removed from office.”

“Trump and fellow Republicans were not permitted to be present or offer testimony in the House hearings.”

“Democrats operated in secrecy and refused Republican involvement.”

“Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton created the problems in Ukraine.”

Even a professional dumpster diver couldn’t find a single fact in such claims. But, that’s their story and they’re sticking with it.

You don’t have to be a lawyer to summarize all this impeachment business to date. There are enough lawyer “jurors” to deal knowingly with all the legal mumbo jumbo. Even if the likely outcome is a colossal miscarriage of justice.

No, all you need to know has been carefully and publically presented enough times that just about anyone with an open mind can make sense of the facts and understand the issues.

For this observer, the Democrats have most professionally presented a rock solid case. Even operating without key witnesses and the chain of documents denied them, Adam Schiff and company have masterfully laid out the facts. Absent all the resources they’re entitled to, they’ve made their case in support of both articles of impeachment previously approved by the House.

In a bit of irony I’m sure not lost on the Dems, last week, Trump tweeted an admission he’s guilty of the charge of obstructing Congress. In undeserved advance praise of his own legal team, Trump wrote “They (Democrats) don’t have the documents. WE have the documents.”

As a non-lawyer, even to me, that seems like an admission of guilt to the impeachment charge of obstructing Congress.

Also, just as an observer, it’s obvious the pick of Adam Schiff to head the Dems impeachment case was masterful. His Friday summation and charge to Senators was brilliant. A former federal prosecutor, Schiff built an almost perfect case. Without key witnesses and the storehouse of withheld White House documents, Schiff and his team used only publically accessible materials to create a damning presentation. Even the aforementioned Lindsey Graham publically acknowledged Schiff’s leadership and legal talents.

All of this was done with Dems having one hand tied behind their backs. And, with many Republicans blatantly ignoring the rules laid down by their own majority leader. Book reading, playing gadget games, doing crosswords, eating, sleeping or just walking out. Even several Senators who’ll be asking voters to re-elect them in 10 months.

Why would voters do so after witnessing such disgraceful behavior?

Somewhere in all the words, I found a statement by Schiff that hit close to home.

“The American people deserve a president they can count on to put their interests first. Framers (of the Constitution) couldn’t protect us from ourselves if right and truth don’t matter. And you know what he (Trump) did was not right.

“No Constitution can protect us if right doesn’t matter anymore. And you know you can’t trust this president to do what’s right for this country. You can trust he will do what’s right for Donald Trump. He’ll do it now. He’s done it before. He’ll do it for the next several months. He’ll do it in the election if he’s allowed to

“Right matters. And the truth matters. Otherwise, we are lost.”

Wise words that many Republican senators will never understand. Until it’s too late.

Us by the numbers

Author: admin

As we slide into another year of uncertainty, it’s time for counting American noses again.

The U.S. Census Bureau prognosticates there are exactly – yep, exactly – 328,239,523 of us. How they do that to the last number is – like a lot of other governmental hocus pocus – top secret. But, that’s their number and they’re sticking with it.

There’s also this. In 42 states, there were fewer births last year. And this. Deaths increased. So, with fewer births and a higher number of deaths, our national growth rate has slowed a bit. About 0.5% up between 2018 and 2019, a continuing slowdown for the past decade or so.

Same folks say the population in the Southern states is growing faster than anywhere else because of domestic migration and more births than deaths. About 40% of Americans live in the South.

Conversely, the Northeast is losing more people than anywhere else.

Between 2018-2019, 10 states lost population: New York, Illinois, West-by-God Virginia, Louisiana, Connecticut, Mississippi, Hawaii, New Jersey, Alaska and Vermont.

With all the bad news – mostly weather and earthquakes – coming out of Puerto Rico in the last year or so, more folks moved in than left. Seems a bit odd. Unless they counted relief workers.

More locally, Idaho ranks as the fastest growing state for 2019. About 2.1% last year. Lot of that growth came from in-migration. But, there was also an uptick in the number of births. One of only eight states to record such.

And here’s an oddity. While growing at a good clip, Idaho is one of the top five states for suicides.

Over the last decade, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Florida and Nevada added more people than anywhere else. Since 2010, each had about a 15% growth factor or about 1% annually.

Immigration numbers have also taken a dive. Been that way since 2017. Trump’s inauguration, remember? The influx of foreign citizens went from 1,047,000 in 2016 to 595,000 in 2019. It would be interesting to know what part his Muslim ban played in that decline. Also the rejection at our Southern border.

More numbers? Sure.

By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65. At that point, one in every five residents will be retirement age.

AND, for the first time in history, us old folks will outnumber those under the age of 18! Imagine the effects on society, business, politics, recreation, health care and a whole lot of other things.

In the 2030’s, the Census Bureau folks predict a population growing at a much slower rate, one much older and more racially and ethnically diverse.

So, there you have it. We’re entering the decade of the 2020-2029 years with our population growth slowing, deaths outnumbering births, people moving South and a massive change in racial demographics. Exciting times.

Now, if we can clean up the domestic political criminal activity, heal some of the divisions separating us one-from-the-other, clean out a near-worthless Congress, get a handle on global warming, eliminate terrorism, renew broken international alliances, get big money out of politics and the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, maybe we’ll start growing again.

How about it?

News release news

Author: admin

“….according to a news release.”

To me, those are the five most irritating words in the English language.

Two main reasons why they’re so infuriating. First, it means whoever wrote them wants to tell you only as much as is being “released.” When it comes to any agency of government, that means there’s likely more to the “story” but “this is only what we want you to know.”

Second, it means the news agency receiving it – and uses only that – is likely not doing its job. “Reporters” are just waiting for the printer or the fax to regurgitate.

Case in point. Some weeks back, two Boise Police officers stopped a car to check out the occupants. While doing so, the driver got out and ran while the passenger slid over and tried to drive off. An officer reached through the window trying to stop the escape and was dragged some distance, sustaining injuries while the car sped away.

Two days later – TWO DAYS – the story appeared in local papers that said “…according to a news release” in the lead sentence!

What the Hell?

The Treasure Valley is still small enough that an attempted arrest gone wrong, and the dragging of a cop requiring a trip to the hospital while felons flee, should be a significant story. And reported so.

But, no. The media had no idea it happened and had to wait for the damned news release. Two days later!

Local news – both broadcast and print – is a joke in many markets. Almost no outlet still staff city council or county commission meetings. Don’t even mention budget or planning and zoning sessions. Not even the cop shop or the fire house.

But, any evening, you can learn how to clean your pets toenails – bake a cake in a new convection oven – see the local news team go down a five-story slide – learn about tires that never go flat – see what’s new at the dog pound – hear from visitors to the local home show – watch a right-handed golfer learn to hit left-handed – see a kindergarten class graduate in their cute little caps and gowns. Well, you get the idea.

Used to be city hall, county commissions, cop shops and other local agencies spending your tax dollars were contacted daily – in person – by reporters. Real reporters. The workings of government and such places were reported long before there was a catastrophe. No more. Now, it’s waiting for the damned news release.

News releases are not new. Noah probably used one to notify the animals of impending high water. But, the fact is, info contained in them is only what someone wants you to know. There’s nothing inherently wrong with ‘em. But, they should be used as the basis for contacting the issuer and finding out what’s really going on. More than likely, there’s more to the story that may make reporting it worthwhile.

Which brings me to the two other “journalistic” words that hit me like fingernails running down a blackboard. “BREAKING NEWS.”

If there are any two words in our native language that are more misused,
more meaningless, more prostituted – well, I can’t come up with ‘em.

When Special Prosecutor Muller made a singularly rare appearance to summarize his much-heralded (and much maligned by his boss) findings about Russian perversion of our 2016 election, the media went nuts.

All the TV networks – all – streamed “BREAKING NEWS” across their broadcasts as Muller spoke. And they did so for hours. For days! Muller talked at about 8:30am (our local time). And, at 10pm (local time) networks were still bellowing “BREAKING NEWS” although Muller had appeared some 14 hours earlier and had added no subsequent information.

You see it day after day. And it’s bogus most of the time.

There’s only one journalistic reason to use those words. A story like the Virginia Beach mass shootings. Story breaks. Hours roll by, new details are reported as they – break. That’s “breaking news.”

Most news outlets – newspapers, too – are not owned by news professionals but by corporations or conglomerates. They answer to distant entities with boards of directors. And, too often, stockholders who want ROI – return on investment. They want ratings – they want market dominance – they want dollars.

So, much of the news business has become “infotainment.” TV is especially bad, pandering to what gets people to watch, even if what’s “watched” is too often fluff and B.S. – not news.

Think, for example, about the in-depth reporting on Trump the last three years. Where has TV gotten its information? Have TV reporters broken all or any significant stories? Has TV been the original source?

NO! Without The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post we would not know what we know. Day after day, the source for TV reporting is reading the newspapers, just like the rest of us do. Were it not for those three major dailies, TV anchors would have little to talk about.

News releases reported as news and “breaking news” that ain’t. What the Hell happened?

No surprise

Author: admin

So. The indicted criminal in the Oval Office has broken yet another law – or maybe several – and set the stage for possibly another Mideast war. Why is it that my only reaction to such a dangerous, illegal and deadly action is – no surprise?

Have we become inured to his ongoing patterns of lies, dangerous unofficial undermining of diplomacy, squandering of national resources, reckless punishment of his “enemies,” debasement of our international standing and outright ignorance of how government is supposed to function?

I’m afraid the answer is yes! Yes to all. And more.

Rather than conducting our world affairs in an intelligent manner and fulfilling the duties of the office of the presidency as prescribed by law, we’re watching a pathological deviant in action. Though impeached, with what will be a personally embarrassing scarlet mark of shame attached to his name for all of history, Donald J. Trump continues to act as though our nation is his personal fiefdom.

The man has proven himself incapable of sitting through a single full-scale intelligence briefing but can reach out to assassinate someone in a foreign country in his blissful ignorance of what such an act will likely bring in retaliation.

With complete disregard for decades of diplomacy in the Mideast to keep a balance of sanity versus all-out war, he has put a target on the back of every American over there. And over here.

The Iranian general killed had been operating for decades and was well-known to intelligence professionals. His hatred of America and other Western nations was fully apparent and his fingerprints were found on many instances of terror and killing.

Alive, he was someone to be watched, his movements noted and any intelligence gathered shared with friendly agencies. Dead, he has become a martyr whose killing will certainly bring about acts of terrorism against anything American. Over there. Over here.

Since 2001, this country has been engaged in the longest war in our history – Afghanistan. More than 2,300 American military dead, another 21,000 wounded in action and all with a price tag of nearly $1 trillion.

In 45 quarterly reports since its inception, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has officially documented our repeatedly failed efforts to “remake Afghanistan into a modern nation.” Their words.

In it’s latest summation, SIGAR put it in black and white. “U.S. officials have acknowledged their war-fighting strategies were fatally flawed and Washington has wasted enormous sums of money.” Oh, I would add, those many lives, too.

In terms of corruption alone – forget all those killed and wounded – just in corruption, SIGAR noted the Afghan government “recovered 0.2% of $185 million worth of fines and penalties issued buy the Anti-corruption Justice Center. Literally billions of dollars have been stolen or diverted from their original purpose.

And this. SIGAR plainly states “The failure of U.S. reintegration programs means it’s reasonable to assume millions of unemployed young men will remain at risk for recruitment by criminal groups and terrorist organizations.” That, the same report claims, “will only lead to the continuation of a 40-year cycle of war that has led to Afghans growing up knowing only death and destruction.”

With blatant disregard for international law – much less hundreds of treaties and other formal agreements between and among nations – Trump has ignored the bottomless pit of Afghanistan to needlessly put our entire homeland at risk.

Rather than solving – or even attempting to solve – the very real war killing our young and devouring our national treasure, Trump has opened up an entirely new front for terrorism and deadly reprisal.

Again, you have to ask “Is that surprising?” And, again, it seems not.

So, what about Congress? Will Republicans finally find enough guts to bring the hammer down on Trump? Will the GOP, at last, say “enough is enough” and mean it? Will anyone – anyone – with the power to end our “presidential terrorism” take up the challenge and stop the political destruction?

Not likely.

Trump has taken a first step to bring vengeance and death upon this nation as a means to perpetuate himself in office. We’re going to hear those words – or something very similar – in the coming days. They’ll come, not from an old fella in the desert, but from political types whose voices will be heard much more clearly.

We have a president devoid of a single qualification to be where he is and who’s willing to sacrifice anything or anyone to save himself. Even an international assassination.