Archive for June, 2021

Rest of the story

Author: admin

Barb was in Portland last weekend. She’d taken a 10-day swing to the coast to see friends and take a break from the 100+ degree heat of our “beloved” desert home.

She made reservations for flights and rental cars along her two-state route way in advance. She’s an inveterate traveler. Knows the best travel sites and how to create a well-planned itinerary. Which, in this case, she did.

So, last weekend, she was in the City of Roses visiting an old friend. (Sorry about the ‘old,’ Princess). Good restaurants and good conversation.

She got a surprise text Sunday morning. It was someone from American Airlines, texting her the Sunday afternoon flight home to Phoenix had been cancelled and she was rescheduled – without her knowledge or permission – for a flight of the same number two-days later.

After the text, her natural instinct kicked in. She (and her friend) did a little research about American Airlines and found a story about national flight cancellations on CNN. American and other carriers were mentioned.

My guess – being the weekend and newsrooms were staffed by less than the first team – folks just used the handout as a basis for reporting and “went with it.”

The “story” was that more than two-million weekend flying folks across the country were subject to dozens and dozens of flight cancellations. In addition, last Sunday marked the fifth day of that week that the volume of passengers per-day totaled more than two-million. So, some folks needless, to say, were left stranded. Barb had the good fortune to be staying with her friend. But, for thousands of others, it was back to the credit card, paying for a couple more nights on the road.

The “story” said all the furor was because of a” lack of pilots and crews.” Seems, after massive layoffs due to Covid – including pilots – many of those pilots had been put into retraining programs for other aircraft. So, they weren’t available for all the previously scheduled 727 routes.

There was also some gobble-de-gook about “unprecedented weather problems” affecting flights, causing delays and crew problems.

That part of the “story” about weather is somewhat believable. At Sky Harbor in Phoenix, we’ve had some of that “unprecedented” weather with consistent, very high temperatures. Last week broke some records with daily 115-117 temps. The higher the readings, the less air “lift” there is for planes to get airborne. So, that means fewer passengers and less cargo. And we can’t have that, can we? But, it happens here. Every year.

The crux of the” story,” seems to me, to be about problems the airlines created for themselves. Of course, they won’t admit it. But, evidence of “self-inflicted” wounds is pretty strong.

Last Spring, when Covid-19 was wreaking havoc on this nation, airlines scooped up billions of federal dollars to help them stay in business. Which they did – at full strength – for about 90 days. Then, they started laying off personnel – including pilots – by the thousands and moth-balling aircaft here in the desert and at other sites in California, Texas and Nevada.

One of those sites is about 40 miles from my keyboard. Check the location by satellite and you’ll see row after row of planes, all ready to be reactivated at a moment’s notice. Ready for flight status. That was the whole idea. Reactivate quickly as needed. Which, apparently, hasn’t happened or there wouldn’t have been millions of stranded flyers.

The nation’s airlines took billions in handouts to keep going, which they did for three months. Then, they fired thousands (“layoffs” they said), to be recalled in better times.

Well, these are “better times.” At least “better” then they were in the depths of the pandemic. Conditions have improved for most of us. Certainly for nearly all businesses. Including airlines.

So, seeing daily increases in passenger numbers, more people scheduling and actually traveling for the last 90 days or so, why the cancellations? Why are the airlines saying these problems will last into “mid-July?” Why are those planes still sitting on the ground? Why haven’t we seen flight crews reactivated or rehired?

Dollars! Pure and simple. If you can keep all passenger seats filled, the dollars roll in. If you can operate with “skeleton” crews, less people on the payroll, fewer crews to pay. Dollars. If you can realign flight routes from point-to-point, lower operating costs. Dollars!

Why is it, every time big business has a problem, we consumers take it in the shorts? Why do we – by the millions – have our lives upset and have to pick up the costs? Why can’t airlines deal with their internal problems without adding difficulties for millions of flyers who have to cough up more dollars and suffer the delays? Dollars!

I sincerely wish the media – all of ‘em – would read the handout, then do some research – as reporters are supposed to do – before passing on half-baked “information” as gospel. I don’t give a damn if it’s the weekend crew or Wolf Blitzer. A few minutes doing a little digging around can’t be all that hard to do. Even on Saturday and Sunday. Some Google time just looking at Southeast California, Southern Arizona, Southern Nevada and West Texas from a satellite can be very informative.

You’ll learn a lot more than what’s in that damned handout.

Maybe it’s the heat – several days of 117-degrees on our Arizona back porch – maybe it’s the age – more than four score – maybe it’s just life.

In a quiet moment this week, I’ve been thinking about stability in that life. No, it’s more like trying to find stability in our world. Still, more than that, it’s a search for honesty, integrity, accepting responsibility, personal values and the sort of continuity of life as we’ve known it.

Honesty and integrity. Can those be ascribed to many of the members of our national Congress? Not to my thinking. The political give-and-take of past years is gone. The comity. The collegiality. The overall desire to work together for the common good.

Day after day, we see members lying in public statements. And they know they’re lying. They know it! But, that doesn’t seem to matter to them. The January attack on the nation’s capitol. Pictures of the violence, the weapons, the Trump flags, members of Congress running for their lives. All of that is ingrained in our minds. We’ve seen it – witnessed it – been shocked and saddened by it.

But, still, with all that, we daily hear mostly Republican members saying it didn’t happen – nobody died – there was no theat – there was no personal danger. They look at the camera. And lie. Just plain, damned lies!

One political party has completely divorced itself from the duties of office by declaring none of the opposing party’s legislation efforts will be passed. None. Vital, necessary legislation is dying because one party refuses to accept the responsibilities of the oath each member has taken. Before we constituents. And the final words of that oath – “… so help me, God.”

Many communities are grappling with law-and-order issues. Americans – Black Americans – are dying in our streets at the hands of law enforcement out-of-control. We’re witnessing destruction, vandalism, killings on those same streets. In our community a week ago, a guy drove on several of our streets, firing randomly at cars and pedestrians. The tally – after a long chase – one dead and 12 injured.

Even our schools are under attack. State legislatures are creating laws to control school curriculums – bypassing traditional local control. We create a national holiday in remembrance of the end of slavery while – at the same time – we have people trying to stop our schools from teaching the truth about that same slavery. More instability.

Millions of people in this country have no access to health care – to housing – to vital services that should be the right of every American. The concrete sidewalks and alleys of our nation’s streets are the “beds” on which thousands upon thousands sleep each night. When extreme heat or cold keep most of us inside, they live with the elements day and night. Their very suffering causes instability in our society.

Our international relationships with many nations are unstable. Our interdependence on others for many of our needs makes us vulnerable to whatever the political “climate” is currently somewhere else. Our requirements in the marketplace rise and fall at the whims of other nations – even dictators. Access or denial can change quickly, causing instability.

Many of our financial institutions are under attack. Cyber attack. Even business, education and most forms of commerce are openly vulnerable to criminal, international hackers who can bring them to their knees with computer systems used as weapons. The dangers may come from a sophisticated foreign intelligence operation or some teen in a basement bedroom in Portland. How vulnerable is our national power grid?

Even traditional climate and the seasons are unstable. Global warming? Yes. The parched landscape of the American West lies before us – ample evidence alone of the instability that can do heavy damage to our economy.
Whether its coral reefs in the Southern oceans or rapidly dissolving ice caps threatening the world’s shoreline – evidence is everywhere. Coastal cities at home and abroad are threatened. We’re seeing islands off the Louisiana coastline disappearing, forcing residents to move inland.

Religion. Almost always in a state of flux. Last week saw Southern Baptists elect a moderate as president. We also saw the hierarchy of the American branch of the Catholic Church begin proceedings to deny the rite of communion to adult Catholics approving of abortion – even an American President because of his public acceptance of the practice, despite his personal disapproval.

Also in religion, new polling showing less than 25% of Americans identify with a specific religion. The number keeps going down. At the same time, attendance at one religious “service” or another is creeping up. Stability? No. And, it’s possible, the definition of “church” may be changing as well.

Housing? Another basic “need.” The markets – regardless of where you live – have gone crazy, pricing many people out. So called “moderate income housing” is just plain gone. Many of those markets are in a housing “bubble.” When it breaks, even more people will be hurt by conditions.

Economics, politics, commerce, religion, housing, education. You name it. We’re a nation – a world – of instability. For those of us used to a stable environment in our lives, it can be a difficult time. Sure, change is constant and inevitable. But, given Covid and other recent calamities, change seems to have accelerated and, with it, more unstable conditions with which to contend. More pressures to adjust – to accept – to change. More demands on us causing more upset in our lives.

Stability and daily comfort are in short supply these days. And, as individuals, even as a whole society, we are unable to calm daily conditions. We’re swept along in the societal currents.

A search for stability seems to be “a fool’s errand.”

Dammit Dems

Author: admin

An especially loud order for Democrats in the U.S. Senate: DAMMIT, DO SOMETHING!!!

The circular firing squad – known in some quarters as the Democrat Party – is operating as expected. As believed in some circles, “Republicans are incapable of running government and Democrats won’t.”

I have no idea what “Majority leader” Schumer’s long game is. Maybe he doesn’t either. But, currently, Minority leader McConnell has more control even though he’s on the short end of things. McConnell, aided by a couple of recalcitrant Dems, is forcing House-passed legislation – good legislation – to be kept in Schumer’s closet.

If there’s anything Schumer is noted for it’s trying to work in a bi-partisan manner. Get the other side involved and solve issues “together.” Well, six-months into the year, the other side ain’t gonna work “together.” The evidence is overwhelming. They just ain’t gonna do it!!!

In the House, Dems have formed their usual circles and are dividing up the turf they won in 2020. AOC and “the group” are over here. The Black Caucus is over there. Southern Dems have staked out still another corner. And, some just can’t work with anybody.

In the Senate, Senators Sinema and Manchin are ignoring the ”caucus call” and wandering very close to the Republican herd. They’ve become the lynchpin holding up progress and showing no signs of responding to the increasing pressure from their fund-raisers or their campaign work crews that – in Sinema’s case – worked the streets and neighborhoods in the 118-degree Arizona summer. Neither obstructionist is living up to the hopes of what the voters sent them to the Senate to do.

You don’t have to go far on an Arizona street to hear a conversation about dissatisfaction with our purple-haired, tattooed lady in the Senate. Several local Party committees have notified Sinema of their disappointment in her conduct and have reminded her that she’s a Democrat. Her biggest fund-raiser has publically told her to “get in line, do the job or come home.” I suspect Manchin is hearing much the same from Dems in West-by-God-Virginia.

The legislative club Democrats in the Senate hold is the “budget reconciliation act.” It allows them to bundle up a package of legislation and unilaterally push it through to the President’s desk. But, they have to have all 50 Dems with Senate President Pro Tem Harris sitting on the dais and voting with them. 51-50 as it were.

It’s a “hell-of-a-way-to-run-a-railroad” but it’s doable to break up the log jam currently stopping anything important from being done.

The other significant action Dems need to take is killing – and burying for all time – the filibuster. The Senate adopted the filibuster – with its racist background – during the mid-1800’s. It used to force Senators, opposing certain bills, to talk on the floor for hours. Even days. Now, the required talking is gone and simply saying you’re invoking it seems to be enough to stop everything from moving.

The damned thing should die! It’s become nothing more than any one Senator’s devious action to control what happens to certain bills he/she doesn’t like. Rand Paul has used it for years.

The problem Schumer faces if he tries to banish the filibuster, he needs 60 senators to do it. Sixty votes. At the moment – because of the renegade actions of Manchin and Sinema – Schumer doesn’t even have 50 votes. It’s likely there are some Republicans who would support such an action. But, no one who follows political activities can is predicting the outcome of such an effort.

Schumer’s desire for bi-partisanship has, so far, been ineffective. With one trick or another, Ol’ Mitch has brought nearly all things to a halt. Legislation that’s passed the House is lingering – near death – in the Senate.

Repeated public polling has shown voters are far ahead of legislators on nearly every issue. Infrastructure. Voting rights. Efforts to alter the effects of climate change. Though the public significantly favors actions on those subjects – and more – the GOP is not moving. Republicans have shown solid resistance to pursuing legislative action on anything – even the formation of a bi-partisan commission to get to the bottom of the January attack on the Capitol.

It’s time – way past time – for Democrats in both houses to use their slim majorities to hammer some issues home. They’re in charge. Stop the infighting. Get back on the team. Pick up the “ball” and run with it.

At home, Democrats need to fill every vacant office on the ballot, regardless of past defeats. Nutcase Marjorie Taylor Greene won a Senate seat because no Democrat ran against her in the general election. No one.

Public polling is starting to show anger with both parties over the continued stalemate. But, some numbers are starting to improve for Democrats. Polling also shows public anger with Trump and the GOP which is badly split because of him and his continued support of “the big lie.” Estimates of the number of people – mostly Republicans – that still follow his divisive politics range from 15 to 20-million. They have little to no interest in moderation or even what happens to the Republican Party. His “cause” is their “cause.”

Democrats in Congress MUST act, must do everything they can to get things going. At home, there must be solid recruiting of good candidates for the 2022 ballot. Though common political wisdom is that the party of the President typically loses Congressional seats in off-year elections, we aren’t living in “typical times.” These are very “untypical” times.

Pelosi and Schumer need to get out the whips to do what they can. And, we voters need to pay attention and get involved. We need to change the rallying cry from “DAMMIT DEMS” to “GO GET ‘EM, DEMS.”


Author: admin

The “fraudit” of our Arizona 2020 election ballots here in Maricopa County has taken an absolutely stunning turn.

Someone, possibly Republicans – or one Republican – in the Arizona Senate, a guy in Montana and gave him copies of ALL our election data and it’s now at an “undisclosed location” in Montana! Nobody seems to know WHERE!

The newcomer is Ben Cotton of CyFIR (?) a subcontractor to the much-maligned – and deservedly so – Cyber Ninja outfit that’s “in charge” of its very first recount – more than two-million ballots.

Cotton got all the data that was supposed to be kept “under tight security” here in Phoenix while the fraudit was going on. And on. Somebody – not clear who – gave electronic copies of everything to Cotton who went straight to his car and drove to Montana.

His mailing address is a cabin about 20 miles out of Bigfork, 40 miles South of Kalispel, where he says he has a “secure lab.” He didn’t specify exactly what “secure lab” is or what “security” he has.

Now, if he copies, or furnishes copies to a third party, that’s where the real breach could come in. As for me, the fact that Cotton has the data already is a security breach in itself.

So, I have to ask, who the Hell is he?

We really don’t know. We actually wouldn’t have known this much if a former acting director from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission – acting as an accredited observer – hadn’t heard a rumor and tried to track it down.

All contractors – and there are many in this dangerous farce – have denied giving away our data. Nobody will fess-up to knowing where the data went or how it would be handled. And nobody – NOBODY – seems to know how this all came about.

My educated guess would be the culprit is Senator Karen Fann, head of the Senate Republican Majority which created this farce in the first place. She’s a tough ol’ bird who has successfully ducked most media during her infrequent trips to the counting floor. She’s my number one suspect

Cotton said he was keeping the data “secure” but offered no explanation or details. And, of course, the nut-cases in charge of this “fraudit” apparently didn’t ask any follow-up questions.

The fact is this: “security” of our election data in the hands of civilian contractors – with no previous experience – has been near to nothing. People – including media – have been wandering around the counting floor at various times. Now, copies of everything have been “given” to someone who packed his car and drove to the Montana wilderness. Security?

This whole dangerous “fraudit” thing has been out-of-control since the git-go. The word “security” is nearly meaningless. Arizona Republicans have hosted GOP’ers from other states. Legislators, mostly; more than a few from the far-right fringes of the Party. They’re talking replications of our recount disaster. God forbid!

Our ballots have been counted – then recounted – twice! Certified! We know who won. Maybe, more importantly, we know who lost, He did. The loser. And, nothing here is going to change that.

Those are facts! And, we’re certain of them. So, we have to ask again, “What the Hell is going on?”


Author: admin

I’ve recently had two questions rolling around in my head with no answers. Let’s lay them out here and see if you can help.

Question #1: Is the current Republican Party worth saving?

Question #2. Can a Conservative, viable Republican Party – a la pre-Donald Trump – be created?

Here’s my take so far: question #1, No. Question #2, Yes. Maybe.

Let’s deal with question one. Trump has turned what was, once, a respected political party into a cult. Some sane Republicans remain but their ranks are fewer. The followers – most of whom were probably Republicans or unaffiliated – seem to swallow whatever “wisdom” he throws their way as “gospel truth.” His “big lie” has become their mantra.

Despite the dishonesty, thievery and absurdities, Trump is – and will continue to be – a force to be reckoned with. What affect the likely indictment(s), for one crime or another, will have on his followers is an open question. I’d guess his impact will lessen.

What passes as the Republican Party, at the moment, seems captive to him. I’m certain there are many sane, responsible members of the GOP who want nothing to do with what’s called “the Trump wing” of the Republican Party. But, he IS the Republican Party.

The problem is, those folks who want to see change don’t seem able to wrest what’s left of the Party from his control. They have no alternative “core” or voice to rally around. Even the Chair of the Party is a Trumper, So, Trump’s voice is the only one heard. His behind-the-scenes influence goes unchecked. At the moment, the GOP seems to be the “Trump GOP.”

If we agree with this evidence – and much more – the answer to question #1 is probably “no.”

So, question two. “Can a viable Republican Party be created?” Possibly. But, to create it, it seems there would have to be a “Republican Two” or “Republican Lite” or – well, you come up with a new moniker.

Whatever it is, the second GOP would have to have a new core, a set of values more nearly aligned with the original. Someone – several someone’s – must come forward with a message acceptable to disaffected Republicans. A sound platform of issues around which others could join must be created. A rebirth of “Republicanism” seems necessary to save the Party from itself.

At the moment, I don’t know who has the gravitas to make a clear, clarion call. Some folks want former Secretary of State Colin Powell to step forward. Great. But Powell is 84-years-old. The likelihood he’d give up a well-earned retirement at that age is pretty slim.

There’s Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania who may lose his Senate seat in 2021, also several other GOP leaders who have national notoriety, but I can’t name very many. And, certainly, none who’ve remained active in leadership of the Party since Trump.

So, it would seem the answer to question two is “Maybe.”

We’re about 16 months away from the 2021 election. Not a lot of time to create the kind of second “GOP” necessary, with a viable core and new candidates with new messages. Not much time at all.

Give those two questions some thought. And, if you come up with some different ideas, I’d like to hear from you. We – you and I – are where the answers to these questions have to come from. It’s worth some time to give them some serious thought.