Archive for June, 2020

Rally? Really? Nope.

Author: admin

We, in the desert Southwest, can sleep better now that the Trump road show has come and gone.

The “Students For Trump” activities are over. Discarded Trump signs littered the parking lot of the church where his latest edition of hate speech, racist pronouncements and selected lies occurred. The line of Secret Service Suburbans is only a memory.

Media talking heads kept calling it a “rally.” It wasn’t. Trump’s appearance was the closing act of a multi-day program for far-right teens. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was on the program earlier in the day. Some local Arizona Republican pols also participated.

The teens, all clean cut and mostly maskless when together – theater style – were being prepped to be future Limbaugh-Beck listeners as they endured session after session of far-right hucksterism. Trump’s appearance was called the “high point” by local media.

I don’t know what the selection process was for these kids. But, looking at them, seated shoulder-to-shoulder in the “sanctuary,” they must have had to fit some sort of rigid physical requirements. All of ‘em – all – looked like models on “All-American Teen” posters. Nearly all white. Nearly all maskless.

Trump carried on for about 90 minutes. Maskless, of course. It sounded a lot like his failed Tulsa appearance which was, actually, a rally. A failed rally at best but, still, a rally.

He rolled out his, by now, standard pitches. Lots of outright lies like “Obama committed treason” which he didn’t define. Just sort of left it hanging there. He claimed the COVID-19 pandemic was winding down and would soon be gone. Saying that here, in one of the “hot spot” states.

He proudly touted having appointed conservative judges to the federal court system and argued he should be re-elected so he could appoint even more. He called the upcoming national elections “the most corrupt in the history of this country.” Though proven popular with Arizonans and voters in other states, he lambasted mail-in voting, saying people should go to the polls as they have done historically and he demanded some sort of uniform identification before anyone could cast a ballot.

He claimed a “left-wing crowd is trying to abolish our heritage because they hate our history, they hate our values and they hate everything we prize as Americans because our country didn’t grow great with them.”

True to form, he fell back on his racist nomenclature for Coronavirus, calling it “Kung flu” several times, raising his voice as if to punctuate each word. The kids cheered. Loudly.

Several curiosities linger in the afterglow. For one, this was Trump’s third visit to our desert mecca in five months. Why? And, why come to appear before a crowd of just three-thousand teens.

And timing. He also came during the height of a COVID crisis with Arizona reporting jumps of four to five-thousand cases each 24-hours. Day after day. Hospitals are full and some patients are being sent out-of-state.

There’s a very good chance the state can flip a senate seat, replacing Martha McSally – an appointed place-holder who lost to a Democrat in 2018. Democrat and former Astronaut Mark Kelly is well-funded, knows the issues, is good on his feet and even admired by many Republicans. McSally has trailed Kelly in eight out of the last nine polls taken and is putting up some really scurrilous attack ads.

Seems it would take more than a Trump appearance at a conservative summer program for 3,000 teens to help McSally.

The location of his road show also raises an issue. How does a church – a tax-exempt church – get away with a multi-day political indoctrination session, highlighted by the President and other politicians campaigning in the sanctuary, and not risk said exemption? I’ve heard of preachers telling parishioners which guy to vote for. But, this political indoctrination session went way beyond that. For tax purposes?

No, Virginia. This was not a rally. We average folk couldn’t attend. It was just for the kids. Few, in the sanctuary, were old enough to vote. As with most teens, when released from the camp back into the real teen world, their short-term attention spans will be diverted to other priorities. They’ll remember Trump. But, likely, little else.

Air Force One is gone. For now. So, too, the national media and their equipment. It’s back to 110-114 degree temperatures in our Summer desert days. The dust created by visiting political types has settled. Life – with spiking coronavirus numbers – goes on

Rally? Really? Nope.

Rally? Really?

Author: admin

Donald Trump campaigns tomorrow in our Arizona desert oasis.

I’ve no idea what the turnout will be. But, this I do know. In a county of some 4-million souls, his appearance will be at a church that seats only about three–thousand. No “spillover” site. Just this one auditorium/sanctuary. Far cry from a 19-thousand seat arena in Tulsa. It’s also forecast to be 110 degrees.

A side note. Church staff had no idea Trump was coming. Rental was to a group of kids for an all-day event. Trump shows up mid-afternoon

The Tulsa “campaign kickoff” rally attracted about 62-hundred folk, according to the Tulsa Fire Department. Subtract a large media presence, arena staff, security and the chartered plane load of folks from D.C. the campaign sponsored and the number drops into something above 5-thousand. Far cry from “millions” expected.

The whole farcical “rally” was a failure on every count. Even Trump can’t spin it as a success in any way. I’d expect some staff firings this week. The proffered excuses blaming the media and an imaginary crowd of protesters blocking arena entrances haven’t withstood the light of day. Yes, there were about 200 protesters near the arena but they in no way even interacted with the Trumpers until after the “show.” Even then, there was little contact.

The words were largely the same that we’re used to. But, there seemed to be a different tone. Maybe it had to do with his obvious anger over the disappointing turnout. Maybe it was the empty seats he had to see each time he looked up. There was just none of the usual vocal thrust of previous times.

Many political pros who follow Trump on a daily basis are beginning to talk among themselves about his health – especially his mental health. The man has to be feeling enormous pressures the presidency itself exerts on anyone who’s held that office. In Trump’s case, those pressures may not feel as heavy because of his abysmal ignorance of history, foreign affairs, diplomacy and nearly every other aspect of the job. He doesn’t listen. He doesn’t learn.

But, there has to be an additional load coming from more than three dozen legal actions in which he’s named as the defendant. There are other cases in the legal stream yet to be prosecuted. The attorney general of New York, the office of the Prosecutor of the Southern District of New York, the similar office in Northern Virginia and others are investigating Trump and his fellow-travelers on several fronts.

Don’t forget the women who’ve accused him of various crimes, some of whom have court actions pending. I suspect, after he leaves office, “Citizen Trump” will have to face some of his accusers. Several times.

Trump has to be feeling pressures on many fronts. He’s acting and campaigning like someone who realizes, if he doesn’t win, he may wind up in jail. He’s beginning to sound, to me, a bit like Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.” (“I knew there were strawberries.”)

Something else seemed to be apparent in his Saturday “performance.” Trump threw stinging – and false – charges about Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Democrats in general. Guttural words. The tone was harsh and delivered as angry threats. As in other appearances recently, Trump is showing he will say anything, do anything, ignore facts by making up false accusations about Biden or anyone else he sees as dangerous or threatening to his re-election. Anything.

The Saturday disaster also showed something surprising. The kids. The young people. Others who turned technology against the campaign pro’s. Their use of the I-net to create the appearance of widespread national interest by fomenting chaos with false ticket sales that led Trump and his minions to believe they were creating a truly historic even in Tulsa. They got suckered by a complete scam.

What those kids really did was send a message that they’re watching Trump and his campaign, they’re technology savvy and they’re going to be a factor henceforth. I’ve no idea how many of the scammers are old enough to vote. But, they’re paying enough attention to what’s happening politically to be a force to be reckoned no matter their age.

Trump’s on the ropes right now. He’s losing in court. He’s losing in polls. Saturday’s Tulsa disappointing turnout may – just may – indicate even his base is crumbling a bit. Some of the 30-million or so that were important to him in 2016 may be falling away. One rally, one time, doesn’t prove much. But, I’d have to think his campaign pros are going to do some serious internal polling and try to create something to shore up whatever support they can.

Yep, Tulsa didn’t work out well. I’ll let you know about Arizona.


Author: admin

Someone, somewhere has been the spark for one of the dumbest, most dangerous ideas around. Dumb because it’s wrong-headed and diverts attention from the core message of “Black Lives Matter.” Dangerous for the type of society it would create.

“Defund the police.” Do you mean “Abolish the police?”

That’s it. Just three words. But, it’s become one of the rallying cries from crowds in the streets. From coast-to-coast. “Defund the police.”

Yes, I know about “police brutality.” I know from first-hand experience. I know about police raids gone wrong when an innocent person is injured or killed. And, I know about statistics showing the disparity between how black and white Americans are treated during interactions with the police. And, yes, there are bad cops.

Many, many years ago, I was the reporter assigned to the law enforcement beat at a TV/Radio outfit in Boise. And in Omaha. Yes, Virginia, there really was a time when reporters didn’t just sit around, breathlessly awaiting the next “news release” from some police agency. We actually engaged in what was called “beat reporting.”

I mostly worked the 2-11pm shift. Many nights, after the late newscast, I’d do a “ride-along” with local police or sheriff’s deputies. I hung out at the “cop shop” and really got to see things from a different perspective. I experienced what police life was like. At that time.

Forward to Washington D.C. during much of the anti-Viet Nam and equal rights marches. As a street reporter, I experienced police over-reaction and mounted police charges into otherwise peaceful and lawful demonstrations with participants in the thousands.

So, with some first-hand experiences over 40 years or so, I’ve seen the many “faces” of police work, police training and police duties from both sides. The good. The bad. The ugly.

Defunding (abolishing) the police will not – and should not – ever happen. Nor should we grant law enforcement more authority – more power – than it already has. But, there are areas where we can focus.

Hiring is one. Create a “hiring panel” composed of senior officers and civilians with appropriate backgrounds. If the hiring agency deals with mixed-race communities, put leaders of those communities on the panel. Experienced applicant or new hire, do a rigorous and in-depth background check plus an extended interview process with that panel. Do a psych eval. Make sure the new hire is qualified – “inside and out.” Catch the bad guys there.

Continually check your officers. The cop who put his knee to the neck of George Floyd had 17 – 17 – prior write-ups for bad behavior. Although he was already on the force, why was he allowed to stay given that record? Why wasn’t he fired after five write-ups? Ten write-ups? Improve periodic reviews of what’s going on and find where you’ve got personnel problems. Continually.

If not already a practice, go back to neighborhood patrols. Get out of the cars. Meet people. Know the ins-and-outs of the area. And “who’s who.” Determine the local leadership. Go back to doing “community policing. It works. One of the biggest problems with police interactions today is the cops don’t know the territory.

Next, get rid of the military equipment. Give those damned M-Raps with machine guns back to the feds. The AK-47’s, too. Get ‘em off the streets. Giving local cops the look of heavily-armed military invaders can also add “heat” to a bad situation and make it worse.

Abolish police unions. I support most unions. But, where police are concerned, unions have become places to hide bad cops. They make it almost impossible to fire ‘em. Unions have their rightful place. But, not in “cop shops.” Not when life or death decisions are made.

Night after night, we’ve watched cops charge into marchers. Trump’s bible photo-op was one example. They just raised shields and batons and launched into what were obviously peaceful protestors. Faced with that, and some teargas canisters for good measure, unarmed marchers suddenly became targets of brutality instead of people – individuals – trying peacefully to make their point(s). One of those points being police brutality.

No matter who ordered that charge (Bill Barr has confessed) it was wrong on so many levels. But, it perfectly captured and made clear to millions watching, one of the major issues in this country is the widening gap between authority wrongfully used and marchers expressing their frustrations in a lawful manner under the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Fair to say, not all marchers are always solely intent on delivering the message of the moment. Looters and vandals often use good people for cover. Absolutely. But, sooner or later, they always break away to do their evil deeds. Cops need to go after the evildoers while keeping in mind those miscreants have nothing to do with crowds legally and peacefully in the streets. The obviously separate events require a change of focus, and a change in police attitude towards innocent folks.
Yes, it’s easy to sit here in the cheap seats and pontificate. Political writers do a lot of that. But, with extensive life experiences and some gray hair, watching the problem unfold night after night in our living rooms, there is a certain clarity to (a) see the problem and (b) recognize some of the answers.

“Defund the police.” No! “Abolish the police?” No!

Instead, recognize the need to have strict, in-depth hiring policies. Constantly review, and where necessary, update training to match the communities – and individuals – served. Renew efforts to get out among the people so a relationship is developed face-to-face. Make the use of force – in any situation – the last, very last, step to take.

Crowds come and go. Cops are here to stay. And should always be.

Under siege

Author: admin


I found that piece of “sidewalk wisdom” on Facebook the other day. Strangely, I found the words apt descriptions for where we are,
not only in our sadly ruptured race relations but also of the state of our nation as a whole at this moment.

We are under siege by three crippling sources. A worldwide pandemic. The most out-of-control racial protests in our streets in my lifetime. A President acting like a pathetic dictator, incapable of compassion or selfless service while attempting to destroy the very governmental institutions that have served us well for more than two centuries.

Let’s take ‘em in order and add the condition that all – all – are occurring without the expected leadership from the top of our government.

The pandemic. It’s affecting the foundations of our society. Our future will not look like our past. It has brought out not only the best in us – think doctors, nurses, EMT’s – but it has concurrently exposed many of our weaknesses and societal divides.

In terms of our national ability to face COVID-19 head-on, by being medically and politically aggressive, initial warnings were ignored by the very people given the facts. It’s no stretch of truth that Trump’s failure to act on the coming pandemic information at hand in January-February may have cost 20-thousand dead Americans.

His destruction of the governmental agency, specifically created and staffed for such national peril, while refusing to accept and act on the medical intelligence at hand, put our national health professionals in a disastrous catch-up disadvantage. A dozen weeks into the fight, they’re still short of necessary equipment and other needed resources.

The racial violence in our streets. Though much of the violence and destruction has nothing to do with racial relations, the base – the core issue – is still there. Anyone who doesn’t understand the societal disadvantage of being Black in America is living on another planet. It’s real. Not just with law enforcement but the nation as a whole. Employment, housing, access to health care, educational opportunities, access to much of what the rest of us take for granted. All unavailable to many of our Black brothers and sisters. And they ARE our brothers and sisters!

The current outbursts in the streets must be heard – and understood – by agencies of governance, law enforcement, business communities, education leaders, health care professionals and politicians of all stripes. The underlying and very real pain being expressed is at a louder and more violent pitch than ever in my long lifetime.

To ignore it – to let it subside in futility as has happened so often in our national past – is to plant seeds for a much more violent and much louder demands down the road. That must not happen. Listen! Act!

Presidential failure to lead. Never, in our long national history, have we been more poorly served and seen such contempt for even the most basic rules of law and leadership as we have for the last three years. An accidental and immoral presidency has given voice – has given permission – for rejection of fact, outbursts of violence, intolerance for the rule of law and blind acceptance of lies passed off as facts.

The media talks of Trump’s “strategy” or Trump’s “plan” or Trumps “policies.” He has none of those. He rejects all of those to rely “on his gut.” A “gut” that’s been so tragically and destructively wrong all of his adult life. His “gut,” which has resulted in business failure after business failure – broken relationships after broken relationships – that lifetime behavior is what we’re seeing in the Oval Office now.

Trump’s unpredictable and destructive conduct of national affairs has laid waste to political relationships and accepted order. He’s destroyed faith in institutions of government for a large chunk of our citizenry and tragically ended the professional careers of dozens of extraordinarily talented professionals.

He’s flaunted his disrespect for laws and the constitutional demands on the presidency. He created a Cabinet of mostly donors and friends with implicit instructions to “gut” the very agencies they’ve been picked to oversee. Most are inexperienced and some have used their high office for self-enrichment.

Taken together, at this moment in time, these three calamities now disrupt much of our daily lives. One has killed more than 100-thousand of our families, friends and neighbors. It’s nearly broken our under-prepared institutions of health care, which have responded heroically in the face of personal danger. Its effects will likely change much of our society and certainly how we prepare for the next pandemic.

The angry violence in our streets is attempting to focus our national attention on grave, long-standing injustices in our society. Injustices we must end if we’re to ever truly become “one nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.” We cannot – we must not – turn our backs on the tragic realities of Black life in America. We must act!

The third leg of our current calamities we can attempt to end at ballot boxes – or with mailed ballots – in November. Some of us feel it might not end with vote counting should Trump lose. He is not one to accept loss. There’s a real chance of confrontation and forced exit from the White House.

Between now and then, there will be more national indignities, more lies, more lawless conduct. More Trump.

Police brutality may be the easiest of the three to deal with. We’ll see.

Those damned busses

Author: admin

I’ve never liked protests. And I’ve seen lots of ‘em. Too many. Now, we’re seeing more of ‘em. But, this latest journey into nighttime hell has devolved into just plain rioting. And in some places, killing.

Yes, I suppose there’s a “cause” or two that have warranted public displays of “protest.” But, after all these years in a long life, I’ve not seen many that resulted in immediate or major change.

The heavily armed fools that faced off with the Michigan State Police, while carrying their automatic weapons, created more opposition to themselves than support for their dangerous message. They fomented a lethal situation in the Michigan State House that avoided violence only by the practiced, passive resistance of the police.

Protests in the streets are older than our nation. Some have been peaceful, others have resulted in armed resistance and death. Too often, death.

Those of us who remember the escalating stateside violence of Viet Nam war days can recall societal divisions that went from a few hippie walks down a quiet street to the Kent State murders when the Ohio National Guard killed four students and wounded a dozen others. Unarmed students marching through the campus streets. Protesting. Flags, banners, shouting slogans and singing. Until the armed military showed up and the shooting began.

That same year, I was a street reporter for the nation’s first all-news radio station in Washington DC. That same year, I got my first taste of protests on a scale not seen in this nation before that time. Some were 100-thousand people – some were 200-thousand and more.

Naturally, street reporters for all the major radio and Tv networks were assigned to cover the demonstrations which often meant walking with the marchers and recording the speeches of their leaders. A difficult job in the best of times. In 1970, amid 200-thousand angry protestors, that was not the “best of times.”

Knowing oner specific anti-war march would be huge, Richard Nixon called on an old friend – O. Roy Chalk. Chalk owned the vast D.C. Transit system comprised of hundreds of busses.

The night before the largest march of its kind to that time, Chalk placed about a hundred busses in a bumper-to-bumper ring around the White House and adjoining buildings. The idea was to keep protesters from getting anywhere near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Nixon hid inside, behind the ring of busses.

What we discovered during the huge demonstration across the street at the Washington Monument was inside those busses were DC cops and secret service armed with rifles and shotguns. They kept a low profile but, watched closely, you could seen them move around.

In the middle of the speeches, suddenly the various police agencies started moving on the crowd. Some, in cars, pickups and even horses, drove straight through the crowd. People – frightened people – started running in all directions.

I was on the edge of the mass of people near the monument where we could patch into the public address system to record the proceedings.

Without warning, a mounted DC cop ran me to the ground from behind. Several others, too. He pulled the horse around sharply and made a second run. No one was hurt but not because he didn’t try.

For a few days after that experience, the thoughts of what I’d been through were ever-present. The size of the crowd. The horses and vehicles running through a defenseless crowd of mostly young people there, many mostly for an after-march concert by Peter, Paul and Mary, Kris Kristopherson and the Limelighters.

But, it was the busses I remembered most. Those damned blue busses with rifle-toting cops inside. And snipers. Snipers there to protect a scared little man who was crazily sending a generation to war with absolutely no definable reason. A war without reason we would eventually lose. America lost on the battlefield.

There were other marches. Mostly peaceful. Large turnouts. Sometimes small turnouts. Most were carefully organized. Some seemingly random. There were so many.

Now, go from that senseless governmen- sponsored reaction dealing with unarmed American youth to the Michigan State House with nut cases carrying automatic weapons to confront police determined to keep the peace with non-violent, passive resistance.

What has happened to us? What has happened to our country? Why are armed “citizens” demanding restaurants, bars, barber shops, mass merchandisers and others open their doors to crowds during the worst, most deadly pandemic this country has faced in a hundred years? What has made an overpriced beer more important than a neighbor’s life? What about fast food workers being shot for asking customers to wear masks?

I still think of those damned busses. Those damned snipers. That damned mounted cop who put me under his horse.

But now – now the guns are on the other side. Automatic weapons are being used to intimidate a government into allowing innocent people to be victimized by an invisible enemy that kills mercilessly. One that will continue to kill if we don’t follow some simple rules.

Protests. Demonstrations. Resistance to authority. Armed resistance. Pick a side. It’s become the new “American way.”