Archive for December, 2020


Author: admin

Well, here we are. On the doorstep of 2021. Ain’t that somethin’?

While it’s good to be rid of 2020, much of what ailed us – as a nation and individually – is going with us into that new year. Nothing we can do about that.

Rather than the traditional “Top Stories of……..” nonsense I despise, I’ve decided on a “Most Hated of 2020” category of the past 366 days. And, wouldn’t you know it, there are co-winners. Or losers.

First, more than anything else, the most dangerous and deadly has to be COVID-19. I know. You might want to nominate something or someone else but that shares the top spot on my list.

Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – has disrupted our lives in the last hundred years or so as much as Coronavirus 2020. Nor has any other event in that same time period killed or maimed so much of the civilian populace. Millions have had it; many scarred for life. More than 370-thousand dead.

No one – and I mean NO ONE – has escaped untouched, though a lot of people may think otherwise. It’s affected all of us in many ways. Maybe just the inconvenience of wearing a mask – or defying the common sense of such an adornment. Maybe it was not having the freedom of unrestricted movement that’s always been part of our heritage. Maybe it was not having some activity in life that you took for granted – going to church or a movie.

Or, it may have affected you as you looked down into the hole beside a casket bearing a loved one about to be interred. For too many, that will be the scar of 2020 that will remain in memory long after.

If we’re looking for something bright on the new year horizon, it may be this: we’ve got promising vaccines coming. For everyone. It may take a few – or many – months, but for all who want the assured protection, it’s here. The pharmaceutical companies, long-despised for their outrageous drug price-gouging, put themselves on a war-like production schedule and several got the new drugs to market in near-record time. The affects of COVID will be greatly reduced in 2021 because of their work.

The co-recipient on my “Most Hated of 2020” is one DONALD J. TRUMP – as the human that affected our lives more than any other.
As with the disease, the after-affects of Trump will be with us for a long, long time. It will take years – long beyond the four-year term of a President Joe Biden – to root out the leavings and rebuild confidence in the institutions of government ravaged by that one individual.

Though we’ve an incredible intelligence community and the best-equipped and best-trained military in the world, they’ve been weakened by his tenure. Failing to acknowledge the oft-proven charges of Russian interference in our lives – and the failure to respond to it – has not deterred Putin. Nor will it. We’ve not mounted strong retaliation or a more aggressive posture. It’s to be hoped a President Biden will apply some retaliatory discipline on the undisciplined Russian.

It’s virtually impossible to overstate the negative affects on this nation because of DJT. The remnants of his footprints are over nearly all of our government. No single occupant of the Oval Office has inflicted so much damage in so short a time.

He came into that office damningly illiterate about facts of government, of economics, of history, of America’s place in the world. To his everlasting shame, he leaves the same as he came.

His future will not be that of the usual ex-president. It’s abundantly clear the other four surviving members of that exclusive group want nothing to do with him in any way.

No, Donald’s future portends a long series of lawsuits and, quite possibly, criminal charges in several cases for past activities, both in and out of the presidency. One or more convictions eventually. It may even turn out he’ll become the first former President of these United States to spend extensive time in a jail cell. Could happen.

The national media is, predictably, going to offer breathless accounts of every move and whisper coming from a Biden White House. And, just as predictably, minutiae from every twist and turn of Trumpworld in 2021 and beyond. While his affects on our lives may be lessened by his governmental absence, his future public persona will still be “news.”

Odd, that the top of my list should be shared by a plague and the most unqualified and – in my mind – the most despicable human to ever occupy the office of President of the United States. But, it is what it is. And our lives are distinctly poorer for both.

Well, we’ll leave the list up on the old bulletin board for a few days. Then, it, too, will be faded and a bit tattered. Much as will the 12 months of 2020 in a bit.

For many of us, the two winners on this list have inflicted some scars. There’ll be some lingering after-affects. From both. But, as this nation has done so many times, we’ll overcome the conflicts and hurt inflicted and “get on with it.” That’s our nature.

It’s also our nature to look out for one another. Stay safe.

Time to listen up

Author: admin

As the Republican Party – from state houses to Congress – sinks slowly into the cowardly, almost loony morass of its own making, we are left to wonder if this nation is about to become ungovernable.

The evidence is everywhere. Look at many GOP governors, from coast to coast, who absolutely refuse to do their sworn duties to confront the COVID-19 deadly consequences head-on. No orders for mask wearing. No orders to shutter businesses like bars and restaurants or other public gathering places. No urgent official expressions for citizens within their jurisdictions to hunker down. And stay there!

In Congress, the utterly unfathomable actions of more than 120 GOP members to put their signatures to the Texas Attorney General’s ridiculous attempt to overturn presidential voting decisions in four other states. Actually put themselves up for certain public disgrace by voluntarily supporting a lie-filled, dead-on-arrival appeal to the United States Supreme Court to change the 2020 presidential votes in other sovereign states.

I’m no lawyer. But, you could see the SCOTUS reaction to such a desperate attempt to deep-six the will of the people a long, long way before the legal axe fell.

Yes, Democrats have a slim majority in the House. And, depending on the runoff elections in Georgia, they could even lock up the Senate with 50-50 seating and tie-breaking decisions in the hands of Vice President-elect Harris sitting in the President of the Senate’s chair.
But, if Georgia voters sustain Republican candidates for the Senate, the numbers will be 52-48. How, then, could President-Elect Biden manage to implement all those campaign promises? Will the Senate, as it has recently under the thumb of Mitch McConnell, become the dead-end for whatever legislation Biden and the Democrats produce?

Odds are plainly, yes.

This country is hurting. The divisions extant from border-to-border are increasingly deepening for lack of real government action at both the state and national levels. Deadlock and lack of willingness of political leaders to get off their asses and lead.

Folks out here in the neighborhoods don’t have $170-thousand-a-year jobs – don’t have staffs to carry their burden – aren’t supported by lobbyist perks – aren’t living lives of privilege.

What they ARE living with are massive layoffs, business failures – many because of our national pandemic – health care costs driving others into bankruptcy and near-starvation in many instances.

At the national level, unreasonable tariffs and Trump’s heavy-hand breaking international treaties have resulted in increased prices in the marketplace. Other factors such as automation wiping out jobs normally done by workers, technological advances requiring retraining – retraining a lot of folks can’t afford – are crippling our country.

There are two more factors overlaying all of this. One, of course, is the pandemic which is affecting all of us. For those who continue to live as if COVID is someone else’s problem, well, wait a little longer – maybe tomorrow – and see if you can continue your “normal” activities without infection. Or maybe, death.

As far as this country’s concerned, the pandemic couldn’t have hit at a worse time. Not that there is actually a “good” time. But, complicating our national response is a President who’s repeatedly lied about what was already here and who’s seemingly washed his hands of leadership. Or, even responsibility. By his incompetence and a degree of self-service not seen since Nero, he’s had a leading role in putting an unconscionable load on our national healthcare system. Because of his indolence, thousands have died and many more thousands are likely scarred for life.

Add to that the fear those most of us feel for our own health and safety. Again the failure of most Republican governors to take actions to help alleviate those largely too real, local concerns.

The second factor affecting most of us is feeling our voices, pleading for help, are falling on deaf ears in Washington. A national sense of no recognition of – and no response to – our immediate needs. In fact, the division between Congress and the rest of us may be the single greatest divide in our nation today.

We need responsive government action at all levels. Not handouts or new welfare programs. We need job training to put people back to work. We need help for the newly-unemployed to pay the rent or the mortgage during these desperate times. We need governors to step up and lay down the law with state-backed efforts to keep us safe from the pandemic. We even need a reliable food distribution system to keep people from starving in this nation of “amber waving grains.”

The idiocy of more than 100 Republican members of Congress getting involved in a “fool’s errand” before our highest court simply adds to the weight of the real problems our nation faces. The unwillingness of GOP governors to take political and personal responsibility for the safety and security of their citizens must end.

The national Republican Party – if such exists – needs to quickly figure out what it is and what it stands for. If Trump continues to be it’s “savior,” Republicans in Congress and State Houses will find their numbers dwindling at the hands of an electorate tired of being ignored.

What the Hell is wrong with us?

We’ve become a nation in which more than a third of its citizens refuse to accept facts, wallow in disinformation and damned lies, threaten public officials in the conduct of their jobs – or at their homes- parading around with guns. What the Hell is wrong with us? Or, more especially, them!

It would be simple – and wrong – to blame Donald J. Trump. He didn’t start it. Most of these people were already angry and looking for someone – or several someone(s) – to give them permission to openly express their anger and frustrations with government and society in general. Trump just showed up on the scene with his keen sense of showmanship and audacity. His specific talent was to offer a misguided and an angry population someone to coalesce around – someone to use the national platform of the presidency to give voice to the voice-less. Something he’s likely to continue in private life.

Before him, all they could do was scream at their radios when Limbaugh spewed his lies and said what they were thinking. They could vent their anger at the TV’s when Hannity blasphemed all over their living rooms and pilloried some public figure they also hated.

In my opinion, Trump’s biggest weapon was he hated the same people they do. He hated the same “liberal establishment” they do. He broadcast to everyone the same baseless accusations they’d made for years with only a spouse or a few friends to hear. He was the answer to a large, angry crowd just waiting for an unprincipled, boastful, lying “savior” to give voice to the voiceless. Their amplifier.

We know 74,223,030 Americans signed up to follow the false prophet while 81,282,903 said “NO” and voted to send their leader back among the populace.

Now, we’re seeing their undisciplined anger in meetings of school boards, health districts, county commission and city councils. They’re at the door with guns. Threatening community leaders at work and at their homes. Shouting their lies and disbelief of actual facts. Pointing dangerous laser lights through windows where they live. Threatening innocent families.

Here, in Arizona, the state GOP has issued an email that asks “Are you willing to die for the Republican Party?” “Die?” Yes, “die!’

Examples of the dangers falling out of this opened “Pandora’s Box” are everywhere. Southwest and North Idaho are under their ‘attack.’ Southern Oregon and Eastern Washington have their armed militias. Nazi swastikas being affixed to Idaho’s Anne Frank memorial. Murder plots found naming governors and other public figures. An itinerant divisiveness spreading lies about election fraud and the absolutely baseless claim that COVID-19 does not exist.

That latter lie is brain-numbing coming from the lips of people who are actually dying of the disease. The last words coming from their lips repeating a lie. A damned lie! Absent families not allowed to be with their loved one, nurses listen in disbelief. A public anger – now personal on a Gurney – a death bed – forming a victim’s last thoughts.

Speaking of Republican’s, where the hell are the 54 in the U.S. Senate?
What voices do you hear coming from the “tomb” – formerly the Senate Chamber? All of them – ALL – have sold their souls to Trump and his minions, accepting his lies as fact, unable to condemn in a trial when the evidence was stacked six-feet high, acting like political handmaidens standing by silently as Trump has repeatedly run amok. Given their subservience, why were a third of ‘em re-elected last month? Don’t we – us – care about their indolence?

President-elect Biden – Uncle Joe – is about to walk into a maelstrom. No president has faced a tougher situation since, probably, Andrew Johnson who became president after the assassination of Lincoln, at the end of the Civil War. Our nation, then, was deeply divided, too.

Biden has cast himself as a healer, someone who can bring us together. He talks of cooperation, of a national cohesion, of taking us to a better place. I’m certain he’ll try.

But, in the streets, how does he restore normalcy to a large population armed to the teeth, threatening elected officials in their work – in their homes? How does he disarm militias in nearly every state who believe – crazily – that a new “Civil War” is necessary and that they are the ones properly preparing for the “battle?” How do you bring COVID deniers to mask-wearing and other tools necessary to combat the deadly disease?

Can we expect he’ll be successful in bringing normalcy out of such chaos? Or, are we, as a nation, entering a time when such conditions are harbingers of the new “normal?”

I don’t have the answers. Nor do you. We’re entering a time – absent Trump – when most of us are wanting peace in our lives. We want cohesion. We want to rid the nation of anger, of discord, of armed interruptions in the conduct of our affairs. We desire a return of respect, of calm, living peacefully with our neighbors.

We want a nation healed. One we can be proud of. Uncle Joe needs all the help we can muster to get there. From all of us.

Rape, ruin and run

Author: admin

Donald Trump’s last days in office are upon us and there seem to be stories in each day’s news of more political destruction, lies, firings and other bad acts

We knew his presidential death throes would be tumultuous and the incoming administration would have to clear away the wreckage before getting down to new business. But, it’s proving to be more than “Where are the hard drives” and more like “Where the Hell are the computers?”

Trump has never lost at anything without the ability to claim “success,” walk away and go on to some other scam – er, failed venture. He’s always had a way out. Declare “victory” and go home.

So, this is the first time he’s had to face flat-out losing. Big time! His greatest personal defeat. No exit. His disgraceful term in office will be constantly in the memories of everyone living today and will be his legacy for many millenniums. He has, as they say, “made his mark.”

It’s going to take the Biden team a long, long time to clean up the mess before starting to download what looks to be a significant entry to the new presidential term. Still, Biden is promising new legislation and his own handful of executive orders on day one. He intends to be a “hard charger” and a “game changer.”

One of the most important tasks he faces is restoring – or attempting to restore – citizen faith in the institutions of government. That may be the most damning legacy of Trump – his four years of denouncing and dismantling of trust in our own government. His attempts at blindly slashing budgets, firing of competent people not to his personal liking, installing completely inexperienced folk in offices of importance, impugning the honesty and reputations of people who “got in his way, and placing his own “spies” in crucial agencies to report on activities of the “unfaithful.”

Trump is not a builder. He’s a user. He’s a destroyer. His failed ventures have left no successes while dealing in bank loans involving billions of dollars over the years. Not one.

To his own discredit, you can add a failed presidency as well.

Trump has spent millions of dollars trying to overthrow one or all state reporting of the presidential election. To no avail. In fact, even A.G. Billy Barr has had to refute some of Trump’s wildest claims.

And, in the most egregious and unprofessional display of television “reporting” ever, Maria Barteromo of Faux Bizness Nuez let Trump have nearly a half-hour to threaten, charge, blaspheme and lie, lie, lie. And lie. Unchallenged. Unanswered and all B.S.. If that happened on “over-the-air” TV, there would’ve been challenges filed with the FCC up the old wazoo.

The late Idaho Governor, Cecil Andrus, used a phrase for individuals and companies that abused public lands. He called it “rape, ruin and run.” When it comes to personal and political conduct, Trump fits that definition to a “T.”

We’ve still got about 45 days of Trump in the White House. What more destructive actions he’ll take is anyone’s guess. But, you can bet, he’s not done.

We hear people talk about a pardon for DJT. Doubtful. He hasn’t been charged or convicted of anything. He may try to pardon his family members but they, too, haven’t been charged. Yet.

It’s not the feds Trump has to be worried about. If any crimes are lodged against him in the future, it’ll most likely be the Southern District of New York, the Manhattan District Attorney or the New York State Attorney General. That last office seems to have a large “working file” on the Trump doings in the “Empire State.” Don’t forget, that was the outfit that shut down the Trump “Foundation” and collected a multi-million dollar fine in the process.

Out of office, Trump still may face charges from Congress. Been some talk of that in the marble hallways. Then, there are those sexual assault charges. Some 28 at last count. Some may be beyond the statute of limitations. But, some may not.

People are talking about Trump getting into the broadcast business with a radio or TV outfit. Could be. With Limbaugh in Stage Four cancer, the Trumpers are going to need a new “voice” of the right.

Whatever he decides to do after 12:01pm on January One, you’ll continue to hear from him. Bet on it! Even if it’s from a jail cell.

“Rape, ruin and run.” Says it all about Donald.

Melting pot no more

Author: admin

Most of us grew up with the term “melting pot.” We were told America was such because people from other nations had come here, seeking one thing or another. The integration of all those disparate folks into our country was accepted and contributed to our societal “melting.” At one time.

Well, it’s a “melting pot” no more.

Those that used to be “melted” have shown an increasing resistance to accepting the ways of a formerly mostly Caucasian culture, preferring their own and, in some cases, several degrees of separation. Which, for the most part, ain’t all bad. Most of the time.

A formerly “melted” society has, in fact, become a pluralistic society – not a single one i.e. “melted.”

Let’s work with one definition for pluralistic – Merriam-Webster. To wit: “a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious or social groups maintain/develop their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization.”

The subject came up at our house through one of my wife’s students. Barb teaches Master’s degree education classes online. Her work draws participants from over the world. This specific subject matter dealt with “ethics and pluralism” in a classroom setting.

To my surprise, most of her students came up with a certain commonality. That being, teachers must openly accept the differences of students; each student brings his/her own view to the conversation; teachers must not make student individuality less important but show that individuality contributes to the whole.

Those factors, taken together, don’t exactly define our nation as a “melting pot,” do they? To me, they speak to a pluralistic society where there are exact differences though they should be accepted “within the confines of a common civilization.” Pluralism defined.

Anyone who thinks this nation is the “melting pot” it may once have been hasn’t visited a major city recently. Take New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C.. Black communities live mostly in one area, with their own radio – often TV stations – and newspapers. Black schools, churches and uniquely Black merchants and stores.

Or, there’s Miami, Phoenix and Houston. Latin. Latin music, radio, TV, markets, restaurants, stores, newspapers.

Or, Los Angeles and Seattle. You’ll find large Asian and Indonesian communities within those cities. Again, Asian and Indonesian music, stores, broadcasters, grocers, newspapers.

Separate and apart. But, all existing in an overall single community or city. Los Angeles. Seattle. Wherever.

Over the years, I’ve lived in some of those cities. Sometimes, I visited the inner-city communities. Sometimes, good vibes. BUT, I’ve been warned to “stay the Hell out” or “get out” or “go back where you came from, Whitey” in some of those locales.

I’ve also seen the reverse. Many times. Too many times. Blacks, Latins, Asians being treated badly, rudely, mockingly, and told by Caucasians to “go back where you came from.” Some even killed though many of those folks had been born here.

So, while we’re all expected to be “Americans,” there are lines within this former “melting pot” some Americans of a different culture often can’t cross. Indivisible lines called “societal” lines by those who study this phenomenon.

While these separate subdivisions of culture and race often work to the benefit of both the inner and outer communities, they can also work against the interests of both.

I’ve previously written of my inability to swear the “Oath of Allegiance” or to sing “America the Beautiful.” The words “liberty and justice for all” simply do not come. Because there isn’t. (Can you say, Colin Kaepernik?) And, we don’t have “alabaster cities gleaming” anymore and really haven’t had since our beginnings as a nation. We certainly don’t have “brotherhood from sea to shining sea” Nor do we have”shining seas.”

I mean no attempt to find good or bad in these separate-but-equal situations – only to use them to point out we no longer “melt” in the way we used to. If we ever did. If we are to define our country now it would seem “pluralistic” is a more accurate description.

One of Barb’s grad students came up with what I think is a spot-on definition of our country as it presently exists.

His submission about differences was right on point. And so simple. Think of a choir: soprano, alto, tenor, bass. All working individually with different notes but, together, working pluralistically.

Sort of “separate but equal.” In the classroom. As a country.