Archive for October, 2020

Vote – if you can

Author: admin

We’ve voted.

Couple of weeks ago. Mailed ballots. Except, we didn’t use the mail to return ‘em. Went to city hall polling place and dropped ‘em in the box. Just to be sure. Couple days later, receipt was acknowledged by Maricopa County. Done!

Filled out the ballots at home – when we had time – and after reading what we needed to from the voter information pamphlet. No rush. No fuss. No l-o-n-g lines. Absolutely secure. Done!

Why doesn’t every state do this?

Given what Republicans have done to suppress voting access across the country in the last few years, it’s easy to blame the whole party. Which would be wrong. In many states, the GOP has worked with Democrats to create secure voting and assured access. Democrats still think and act the same way.

But – this year, some state Republican parties have pulled out all the stops, actively working to limit access or outright steal completed ballots. California. Where the GOP put out ballot deposit boxes labeled “official.” They aren’t. Dems and some cities asked the GOP to remove ‘em. GOP said “NO.” Seems local authorities, the Dems or the state didn’t want to take legal action beyond the requests. So, the ballot-stealing boxes are still out there. Pilfering completed ballots.

We’ve seen lots of pictures of people in long lines, waiting to vote. Stories of folks waiting 10 hours – or longer – to gain access. Texas Governor ordered counties to remove all ballot collection boxes but one – one – per county! Texas has several cities of more than a million population. One with 4-million. Imagine the lines. But, worse, imagine how many people just didn’t vote because of the restriction. Again, access denied.

Other states – mostly in the Southeast – used all sorts of gimmicks to deny citizens the right to vote. Some required certain ID information many poor people don’t have for one reason or another. Two states wanted birth certificates or other proof of citizenship. Several, like Texas, reduced the number of polling places or shortened hours polls would be open. Especially in areas with a lot of Black residents. In Georgia and Florida, both Black and Hispanic communities hit hard by state restrictions. More roadblocks.

I’ve long believed – if you’ll pardon a personal opinion – that voting for the office of President should be run by the feds. One ballot used under a single process in all states.

All of us, at times, operate under one federal law. Nothing new about that. When I was a private pilot, my license was issued by the Federal Aviation Administration. My military driver’s license was federal. I’ve had several federally-backed home loans. My VA benefits operate under federal law. And, there are many, many other singularly federal laws we don’t even think about. Uniform. Everywhere.

Imagine. A single presidential ballot. Used in all states and territories. All using one federal law. The same “rules-of-the-game.” Everywhere. Down-ballot, each state could go it’s own way. But, on top, a national vote under uniform rules.

I know. I know. Such thinking is that of an old guy out in the desert sun too long. But, it makes sense, damn it!

Should Democrats prevail in sweeping the Presidency and both Houses of Congress – as seems likely – the first order of business should be restoring – or even rewriting – the federal voting rights act.

Couple of years ago, SCOTUS gutted the existing law, part of which put certain requirements on states known to restrict voter access. Even forcing offending states to submit to SCOTUS oversight if a voting law was to be changed. I can’t forget Chief Justice Robert’s comments at the time SCOTUS acted. He noted past violators of the Constitutional guarantee of voting “seem to have learned their lessons” and issues of abusing voters were “things of the past.” Yeah. Sure.

So, here we are. Several years down the road. And the “offending states” -absent that old oversight – are at it again. Same states. Same old tricks. With largely the GOP erecting hurdles between citizens and their ballot boxes. Congress must act.

A few days ago, I heard a well-respected Republican leader of the past say, if the Party took a national beating up and down the ballot, it could mean the GOP would be nearly non-existent for a decade or two.

Maybe that’s what’s driving this Republican effort to keep voter and ballot apart. If it is, then congressional action should be swift, replacing safeguards to bring these underhanded activities to an immediate halt.

Here in the desert, in our “55+” world, it’s worth noting how us old folks do things a bit differently. Politically speaking. As you drive through our senior neighborhoods of some 90,000+ retirees, you’ll usually see Trump signs placed close to the sidewalks for easy viewing. Biden signs, on the other hand, are mostly placed back, near the front door. That’s because Biden signs are stolen or defaced in much larger numbers. Seems Trumpers hereabouts outnumber the Biden-backers. At least publically.

Which is odd. We have a lot of retired military living here. A lot. Most have bumper stickers or back-window indications of such. You’d think – given our President’s comments regarding the military – alive or dead as “suckers” and “losers” – that anyone who’s lived a military life would not be a DJT supporter. But, many are! Seems odd to me to see a retired “gunny” in our neighborhood still backing Trump. But, he is. Lots of others, too.

In our world these days, we seem to be under attack from many things. COVID-19 has us hunkering down. At least some of us. Climate change – maybe the single largest “attack” we face – is all around us. In some states – too many states – local governments seem to be attacking voting rights and other civic privileges.

Then, there’s our President, who’s been conducting a four-year frontal attack to destroy agencies of federal government and our faith in long-standing institutions. He’s attacked our rule-of-law, our trust in many forms of governance. He’s subverted restrictions on the Presidency to enrich himself and many of his friends. His entire term seems to have been used to attack truth, civility, trust and responsibility. He’s worked to destroy just about everything he’s touched.

Now, facing a perilous future of many lawsuits, some serious federal and state charges and doing so without the protection of high political office he’s enjoyed and used for his own benefit, he’s attacking the voting process. The constitutionally-protected franchise guaranteed to all. Sadly, we’re not likely done with a major political party attempting to block citizens from exercising that franchise.

People we elect to high office in November have a huge job ahead of them to clean up the mess. To attract good and qualified people to serve. To restore confidence and faith of the people in their own government. To undo the damages of the last four years.

It’s a big job. But, it can be done. That’s why we vote.

Change is ours to make

Author: admin

O.K., we’ve had a couple of “debates.”

The whole sorry mess has been chewed on by all media extant. Best summary of the whole sorry mess I’ve heard came from political pro, Paul Begala, who said it was “must flee TV.”

Like it or not, Trump’s still the President of these United States. The fact that he’s not a “play-by-the-rules” guy and acts/sounds like the school yard bully is because that’s what he is. He won’t change. But, there’s the dignity and importance of the office he so poorly represents. Cutting him off or arguing with him, as Savannah Guthrie did so well, may seem necessary at times, but he’s still the President.

To me, the storyline emerging so far was what wasn’t said. We’ve got about 50-million people on unemployment. There are many, many more who aren’t counted because they’ve been out of work so long. Anyone get a factual sense of what either candidate would do about the unemployed in these verbal “wrestling matches?”

How about disappearing jobs? The Census Bureau counts total jobs that have vanished since the first of the year at over 21-million. So 21-million unemployed folk have nothing to return to. Airlines, just this month, are laying off many thousands and eliminating those positions. Anyone hear either man say anything about that?

Afghanistan. I don’t recall hearing anything meaningful. We should have! Our longest war is sapping billions of dollars, killing our youth and no end in sight.

Our environment. What about it? Anything “in depth?” Any solid plans?

And a whole lot more.

In many ways, Trump’s belligerence is defining these shameful events. More than that, he’s redefining our government, our politics, our media, our economy, our markets, our very existence as a recognized democratic republic. Changed? Yes. For the better? Not!

Trump’s dominated our existence for four years by “sucking the air” out of every appearance and action. In so doing, he’s succeeded in changing the course of an entire nation. Not for the best, assuredly, but changed nonetheless.

He’s bullied, abused, badgered, threatened, lied about nearly everything. Constantly. With the able assistance of lackey Mitch McConnell, he’s moved our federal justice system to the far-right and is about to fill a Supreme Court vacancy with a nominee whose past judicial actions and personal beliefs will cause even a sharper rightward shift. Nearly all lifetime positions. (Edit note: I’d like to see term limits on federal judicial and SCOTUS appointments but that’s a story for another time.)

So, what do we do about it?

One of the forces endangering this nation is ignorance. Ignorance of what this country is, how government works, the structure of it, what it’s supposed to do, what we should expect from it, who’s responsible for its operation, where do we fit in, how do we exercise change, what do we do if it becomes unresponsive to our needs – as is the case now.

We’re bombarded daily with broadcast lies, continuing affirmation of “facts” that aren’t true. They’re spread by paid – make that “well paid” – folks who have their own agendas which may not, at times, be in the nation’s best interests.

Millions of Americans live in an alternate universe of phony “facts” – as we’ve seen with Trump – because those “facts” support what they think they know, reinforced regularly by fact-less media designed just for them. It’s become their comfort zone and whatever is different – even if based in reality – is rejected. Arguments do no good. Even real facts are useless.

This rejection of real facts has gone on for so long it’s become “institutionalized.” It’s produced a plethora of politicians who’ve injected this group ignorance into our political system, threatening our continued national existence which is – and must continue to be – based on facts. We have 13 professed QANON believers currently in Congress with more on 2020 ballots

All of that means the rest of us – those of us dealing with reality – have to continue to grow our number. We must educate ourselves – re-educate if necessary – in all phases of government and, when presented with an opportunity to do so, knock down the lies.

It can work.

Case in point. There’s a new movement among young evangelicals branching off from their elders. In many instances, that new direction is more earth and reality-based. They’re very concerned about our environment. They’ve taken up societal issues long ignored by older “believers.” If sustained, this new breed can grow and change the future direction of a religious philosophy which, in turn, can change the nation and even our politics.

There are ways – many ways – available to all of us to have an effect on what’s happening around us. We can change things that need changing. We can support what needs our support. We CAN make a difference.

Trump’s open disrespect for the duties of his high elected office, his contempt for law, his belligerence and ignorance in all things, his avoidance of rules, decorum, responsibility and personal conduct have been a national embarrassment. His “debate” antics were unsurprising. We’ve known, for some time, who he really is, how he thinks and acts.

Now, it’s time for us to act – to remove this unwanted player from the stage. We can – we must – in just two weeks.

It’s easy to hear of Michigan Governor Whitmer’s close call with a bunch of armed nuts out to kidnap or kill her and sort of say “damned shame,” put it off to the side and keep reading. But DON’T!

Let’s talk about your governor: Idaho’s Little, Washington’s Inslee, Oregon’s Brown, Montana’s Bullock, California’s Newson, Utah’s Herbert. Putting your own governor’s name in place of Whitmer’s brings the issue a little closer to home, doesn’t it?

While these cammo nutcases call themselves “militia’s,” they’re not. The media should not keep reporting them as such. A militia is defined as “an armed civilian force meant to supplement a regular military.” These neighborhood terrorists don’t “supplement” anything. They operate strictly on their own. Their activities are terrorism. Period.

A friend of mine has coined the term for these home-grown terrorists who determine their “manhood” by the caliber of their weapons: “ammosexuals.” Pretty much sums ‘em up, doesn’t it?

In the Northwest, Idaho, Oregon and Montana have become the most recent locale’s for several ammosexual groups. Western part of Ada County and North Idaho are attracting a lot of new faces. Idaho’s had these folks around for years. Mostly up North. They like to jump into their cammos, grab their “manhood,” go out in the woods, sneak around pretend “targets” and occasionally even have some real “live fire” target practice.

For the most part, “normal” Idahoans have left them alone. But, recently, these guys have started showing up in town. Armed.

The Idaho Statehouse in Boise had a brush with them a couple months ago. Two guys with semi-autos broke a locked door in the balcony above the legislative floor. Their followers pushed in behind them and stood above the Senate which was in special session. One Senator, Mark Nye (D-Pocatello) wrote afterwards that he felt uneasy trying to do Senate business with the armed – and unwanted – “visitors” above them.

And, that’s exactly what these jerks do: try to intimidate with their clothing, with weapons, with “attitude.” Intimidation is their life-blood. Putting fear in those whom they confront is their “leg up.” Makes their juices – or whatever – flow.

As the Michigan case shows, there are other ammosexuals out there and they’re dangerous. The Southern Poverty Law Center tries to keep track of all of ‘em and has a long list of locations and many of their member’s identities. The FBI, not known for frivolous public comments, calls these “militia” groups “terrorists” and puts them on the agencies “to do list.” “FBI’s Most Wanted.”

A few years ago, an illegal mining operation in Southern Oregon near Grants Pass was told to shut down by the feds. The order was given several times but digging continued. Finally the BLM decided to put more teeth in the order. But, as feds approached the property, they were met by armed folks behind berms, “guarding” the mining. BLM backed off and subsequently closed the Grants Pass office.

There have been many little skirmishes like the Grants Pass story. Incidents that, though dangerous, ended quietly with one side or the other backing off. More often than not, it was some government agency. But, as Michigan details clearly show, there really are ammosexusals out there, ready to take confrontations with law enforcement to a more dangerous level.

The time has come to take these guys more seriously at both state and federal levels. While there are many details known about their existence and local talk about their activities fills a lot of bar conversation, little has been done to crack down. The Michigan case, filled with evidence about planned kidnaping, murder, attacking the Michigan Statehouse, capturing or killing state employees, holding “trials” and blowing up state property clearly shows we’re in a new and more dangerous place.

The dangerous situation in Michigan was defused by very fine FBI undercover work. Lots of audio tapes, some video, lengthy contemporaneous notes including names, dates and places. As the announcement of the 13 arrests was made, the agent-in-charge carefully noted only enough information was used to bring indictments, indicating there’s much more evidence to be unveiled at trial.

But, states where similar groups are known to be can’t leave it all up to the feds. No federal investigative agency is staffed to be everywhere at once. And, it seems these terrorist groups are in many states that have been more or less ignoring them. As Michigan shows, they can be exposed and caged.

Within the last couple of years, a national criminal database has been built which is available to state and local law enforcement. Many of these terrorists and their affiliations are listed therein. It’s available. But, some local agencies haven’t been participating. They should. The information is there for the taking.

People who think of these crazies as just a bunch of individual “nut cases,” need to recognize the real danger represented by their existence. The I-Net is their coordinating link. They “talk” to each other, share gun and ammunition updates, talk of plans to do this-or-that. They’ve acquired more powerful automatic weaponry, become more detailed and task-oriented in their activities and think of themselves as the only “real” Americans.

We may be neighbors and our kids may go to the same schools. But, they regard the rest of us as “the enemy.” Our laws mean nothing because they have their own and they see us as “violators.” Instead of being just some local nuts having fun playing soldier, these groups are organized, many interconnected, heavily armed and living by their own ”code.” A code the rest of us don’t recognize. And, they see themselves as a sort of “government” they want to “install” to replace the one they see as defective and weak.

Eventually, there’ll be a face-off. Maybe many face-offs. The time has come to go after them. If we keep backing away, their numbers will increase and the job of rooting them out will be harder and even more deadly. These may be a “bunch of crazies.” But, they’re getting stronger, better organized and more heavily armed. Their danger to the rest of us has been proven. They’ve got to be eradicated.

The Michigan case scares the Hell out of me. It ought to scare the Hell out of all of us.

Karma’s a bitch

Author: admin

O.K.. The President has a solid case of COVID-19. He’s in the “Presidential Suite” at Walter Reed and getting far better care than anyone else on this planet. I understand. I got it.

But, fact is, he’s there by his own doing. He stayed at the bar too long and had one drink too many. For the last six months, he’s acted as if God personally assured him he was “indestructible.” God didn’t and he wasn’t.

Though his is, arguably, the worst presidency of the last hundred years – maybe 200 – I wish him no harm and a quick return to his elected duties. Same for the rest of the Trumpers on his totally ineffectual White House staff and his off-the-rails campaign offices. Good luck, folks.

As for those medical updates from Walter Reed and the White House, my feelings are the same as MSNBC anchor Brian Williams Friday evening: “We have reason to doubt any medical news coming out of this White House.”

I’ve read and listened to a few of those medical “updates” coming from Walter Reed staffers. They often raise more questions that they answer. Seems no one is going to level with us common folk.

Trump is the guy who hollered “wolf” one time too often. We’ve become numbed by the thousands and thousands of lies he’s spewed on us as well as his team of sycophants. We’re inured and look at anything stated by anyone associated with Trump as either distorted or a flat out lie. Over and over and over and over.

As millions of other Americans have survived the virus, so will Donald. He, like those millions of others, may survive but be hampered by continuing health problems for the rest of his life. Coronavirus is not something to screw around with. As he has done. As has been brought home to him in a most personal way.

We’ve all been warned of an “October surprise” in our political world. Well, we got a big one with Trump. And with a few others that couldn’t wait so they popped up in September. Like the New York Times opening some of Trump’s tax filings. And promising more. Like more women charging him with sexual assault. The total number of such filings must now be over 30 or so. Like the “debate” which showed us – at least in Trump World – watching reruns of “Jurassic Park” can be bad for your debate style.

Yep. We’ve had some doozies. And, with four weeks remaining until the in-person voting takes place, you can bet the farm there’ll be more. As for mail-in voting, its already started with millions more ballots coming.

I’m not worried about Trump padding around his taxpayer-provided naval suite. He’s got more medical staffers stumbling over themselves, the best doc’s in their respective fields and faces a bill when he checks out that you and I will pay. He’ll soon be back in the residence wing of the White House which, by the way, we also pay for. Donald’s going to be fine.

No, what worries me has nothing to do with his impending unemployment. My “thoughts and prayers” are with the millions of other Coronavirus victims – those who’ve died and those who have the disease and who are likely to find their lives changed for the worse from here on.

And with the uninsured COVID-19 sufferers who face outrageous medical bills that’ll likely force many into bankruptcy. Some will lose their homes. Many more may have no jobs to go back to. Family units and other personal relationships that existed before infection may not be there when they’re discharged. It’ll be a much different world for the millions of Americans who’ve had those worlds turned upside-down.

We’re going to see a much-changed medical system as well. COVID-19, and it’s dangerous new relatives that keep morphing, are not going away. If you listen closely to Dr. Fauci and his cohorts at CDC, they’re unable to predict an “end time” for any of these viruses. Nor can they say when – if ever – we’ll have a sufficient number of vaccines for all people for all viruses. Their statements – backed up by medical training and years of experience – have become more pointed and, often, directly contradict what comes out of the White House. To them, we’re in for a very long fight to get on top of Coronavirus.

My “thoughts and prayers” are also with children being sacrificed on the altar of education. Idaho, alone, has recorded some 600 positives among students – that we know of. How many more have to get sick or die? Across the country, we’re seeing Coronavirus testing showing positives in district after district after district. Additionally, many districts are not making cases known. Not reporting them. Why? These results aren’t just numbers. They’re lives! Children’s lives!

Check professional sports these days. At least two NFL teams have cancelled games, stopped field practices and sent coaches and players home. Major league baseball has made many changes as one player after another reports in sick. But, “by God, my kid is back in school.”

Here, in Arizona, our Trump-wannabe-governor has thrown out all restrictions just like the other Trump wannabe in Florida.. Everything’s open. Snuggle in to your favorite bistro, belly up to the bar and order away. Good times are here again! Not. We’re watching another wave of infections and deaths. Numbers are going up. More “medical” decisions made by politicians. Deadly decisions.

No, I’m not worried about “the Donald.” His run for re-election may be over but, health-wise, he’ll be home soon.

It’s all the others who’ve been sickened – or died – because of COVID-19. The ones with no access to the Walter Reed hospitals of the world. Victims of the same virus as Trump but who can’t have that kind of care. The ones who’ve died alone at home because they feared the high costs of doctors and hospitals. The ones who’ll suffer lifelong, lingering effects because they got the virus.

Unlike those millions who’ve suffered – or died – in this pandemic, Donald J. Trump, protected by the best possible environment, pushed his luck one time too many and got smacked. Unlike many of those millions of others, he loudly -and proudly – refused to take the best medical advice given to him by some of the most highly-qualified doctors in the nation.

Just a few days ago, when talking about Coronavirus, Trump said “It is what it is.” Well, so’s karma. It is what it is. And, like the virus, it doesn’t give a damn who you are.

Welcome to our world, Donald. Have a seat.