Archive for November, 2021

Well, we finally got some justice. The Ahmaud Arbery verdict was right on! Whatever sentencing is handed down will be justice served.

Lots of support in the country for that jury’s decisions. Many in this nation watched everything unfold in that little courtroom. They and the jury were forced to hear the outrageous racism spewed by the defense. Just plain racism on display for all to see and hear.

But, back to the verdict. In fact, back to the charging of all three of the guilty. Had it not been for someone leaking a video of the murder in the alley, there would have been no trial. Nothing. Nada.

The federal attorney, at the time, had decided no charges were warranted in the killing. This was just three fine citizens catching and killing a suspected neighborhood burglar. Case closed.

That determiner of “justice” was a lady named Jacqueline Lee Johnson. She has since been removed from office and is now facing criminal charges of her own. In every sense of the word “justice,” she deserves whatever fate is determined in another courtroom.

The fine and huge point in this drama is that, if someone had not made public that short, but painful video, there would have been no arrests – no charges – no action! Ms. Johnson would still be the federal attorney for that district. The three men would not have had their lives disrupted. There would have been no trial. And Ahmaud Arbery would have been just another Black man murdered in an alley by three “good citizens.”

The difference between this and so many other Black killings in this country was simply the digital capture of a murder in progress. A video. Incontrovertible evidence of the crime. The same in the police murder of George Floyd. A camera at the scene capturing a crime in progress.

If I were a Black man, I’d have every reason to ask society “If a cop kills me by kneeling on my neck or if vigilantes gun me down in my neighborhood, will there have to be a video of it to get me justice?”

How many Black men have been killed in this country without charges being brought – without someone arrested and convicted – because there was no video of their deaths? Have we become so inured to the deaths of fellow humans that we must have pictures – video of their demise – to make a criminal case?

Left to the “thinking” of one former federal attorney, the answer is “yes.”

We citizens – and especially Black men – expect more of our justice system. We expect the full and complete “services” available to assure a thorough examination of the facts and – if warranted – action in accordance with the law. That’s our expectation. That’s our right!

Some years ago, someone had the bright idea of putting cameras on cops for just the reason for the Arbery case. Video. Digital pictures of what the cops were doing, what they were seeing.

Great! Except now, we’re hearing “left it in the squad car,” “battery was out because I forgot to charge it,”“I forgot to wear it” or some other lame excuse. You almost have to have a videographer “ride-along” to make a case.

There’s absolutely no reason why the Arbery case got to a courtroom other than the pictures. The video someone “leaked.” What if there were no “leak?” What if the video never surfaced? Would there have been any justice at all for an innocent man’s death? The answer – if Ms. Johnson’s decision was not challenged – would be “No.”

Criminal cases initiated by pictures. Justice by digital photography.

Helluva world.

Destroying democracy

Author: admin

If those two words are a jolt to you, consider this. If Trump and/or his minions gain national office in the next two elections, those two words are likely to be the eventual outcome.

Never – in my long years – has the future of our Republic been so threatened. You have to look no further than our present Congress to see the antics of those already there.

Boebert, Taylor-Greene, Hawley and their ilk have made the trek to
Mara-Lago to kiss the ring, drink the kool-aid and promise fidelity to the Trump deity.

Across the country, there’s an all-out attack on municipal, county and state elections to get more far-right “patriots” into positions of power to, in some cases, change the outcomes of various races. Cancel the votes cast by the people if the voter outcomes are not to their liking.

Here, in Arizona, we’ve got announced Trumper candidacies up and down the ballot. Several Mara-Lago “faithful” have joined the fray – running for Governor, Attorney General and Secretary of State.

In recent elections, this state has gone from “red” to “purple” and seems to be shifting further toward “blue.” Our two U.S. Senators are Democrats. Well, Sinema, sort of.

Idaho has the Trumper Lieutenant Governor trying to unseat the “big guy” in 2022. Already kissed the Trump ring and has hard-copies of the Florida endorsement to pass around.

Speaking of Idaho, the legislature – more specifically the House – has gone off-the-rails, acting like the Idaho Constitution doesn’t apply to Republicans. At least their “brand” of such. Gem State taxpayers are footing a lot of unnecessary per diem and legal bills because of the unwarranted effort to get around the states Constitution.

Many a-year ago, then-Idaho Governor Bob Smylie told me “Every few elections, you’re got to open the closet and sweep everything out – regardless of party. One-party control over a long period can produce a real stench if the people stay too long.” Idaho’s Legislature seems to be living proof

Here in the desert, we had to put up with a Trump-backed, expensive “fraudit” of our last election. Now, other states are copying the failed effort as if “election fraud” is/was a sudden contagion at the polls. It wasn’t. And, likely won’t be if competent candidates prevail.

These aforementioned nutcases – and their actions – are all the proof needed to see where this country is headed if they get control of more elected offices. Imagine Marjorie Taylor-Green as your new governor. Hey, she got to the House of Representatives, thanks to Democrats leaving her an uncontested general election. Governor? Could be. Or, Paul Gosar or Sarah Huckabee-Sanders?

There are a lot of these conspiracy-believing souls out there. They’re being fed daily – hourly – B.S. by their right-wing media. Faux Neus has made possible One America News and other copycats. Radio. TV. Murdock-run newspapers. Nutball rallies. Constant voices drowning out the real world.

Which creates this problem. How can you introduce reality to people who are surrounding themselves with fantasies they believe are real? How do you break the cycles of repeated lies from a mass media that’s constantly feeding them? They’ve effectively sealed themselves off from the rest of us.

Until now, folks on the fringe have pretty-well been left alone to wallow in their little worlds. And, like mold, they’re grown – unchecked and unblocked. Now, with a toe-hold in various levels of government, they’re getting bolder and looking for more.

Unfortunately, that’s what the next two national elections are about. They’ve become so very important. The all-out, right-wing assault on the rest of us is going to manifest itself on the ballot. Oregon. Arizona. Idaho. Virtually every state has the same problem.

The Trump-backed militants are becoming a force to be reckoned with. They’ve got money. They’ve got their own media. They’ve got a larger degree of power. They’re going to show up. Whether as voters or as candidates, they’ll be there on election day. More than ever, an informed electorate is needed to overcome the assault from the far-right.

Without that informed electorate, we could be seeing our democracy destroyed. These next two elections are really that important!

Real news lost

Author: admin

Most of us have little “tics” that infuriate when we see or hear them. I’ve got one. I’ll spell it out. It’s only five words.


If you’re a daily reader of newspapers or viewer of TV in Idaho, Oregon or damned near any other place, those five words are prominently displayed in many stories. Way too many.

“……According to a news release” Just what do those five words mean? Why are they so prominent and used so often? Let’s chat about that.

Those words mean someone emailed – or otherwise informed – the media what they want you to know about this or that. Which may or may not be the whole story. The words pop up most often when used in place of a reporter being assigned to what the story is about.

A glaring example. A few days ago, the Arizona Republic – Arizona’s largest newspaper – had a “story” about a border patrol officer who “died in the line of duty, according to a news release” That was it. The last sentence: “The Border Patrol provided no further information about the officer’s passing.”

WHAT? “Provided no further information?” Where the hell are the reporters? How the guy died is the guts of the story. If he hadn’t died “in the line of duty,” there’d be no story. What killed him? How he died IS the story!

Reporters used to physically check in daily at the local cop shop, meetings at city hall, fire departments, county buildings. They got to know county commissioners, mayors, secretaries (often the most reliable news source) – even janitors. They developed stories. Stories that gave readers/viewers more insight and information about the goings-on. And, sometimes, reporters found out facts that often led to a better story. Or even a “scoop!” I did it for years.

Newspapers, radio and TV seldom do that now. They’ve been victimized, replaced or largely downsized by availability of the Internet and (un)social media. “Stories” that took time to develop now blare out, often without the real `meat` of the “information.” Too often without all the facts. Like the dead Arizona officer.

Newspapers and broadcast operations have “slimmed down.” They’ve even got “reporters” who work from home! Using the phone and the I-net. Too often, they don’t ‘on site’ to get the story. That’s why you see “…..according to a news release.” Sometimes, not even rewritten.

Most radio/tv operations and newspapers aren’t owned by local folks anymore. They’ve become “pawns” in the news business. Too often, they’re owned by large corporations that don’t give a damn about local news and how important it really is. Accountants – read “bean counters” – do spreadsheets on profit and loss. There are, after all, investors who want a good rate of return.

Some guy, sitting on his butt in Florida, doesn’t give a damn that a United Airlines jet may have ‘crashed near Caldwell, Idaho, killing 254.’ A crash causing slimmed down local news outlets to work staff overtime, sending “feeds” to national news bureaus, doing real on-scene reporting. Temporarily “blowing” budgets. The Florida guy’s only interest is “bottom line.” Return on investment. Nothing else.

So, you too often get “…..according to a news release.” Faster, cheaper, easier – and less expensive – than being staffed to go out and get the rest of the story.

The loss of “beat reporters” means, for instance, when city/county budgets are set, your taxes are spent – and maybe raised – and you don’t know the details. That loss also means things happen in courthouses, city halls, ‘cop shops,’ fire halls and businesses along Main Street that you never hear about. Real news.

The irony here is we live at a time in which we’re inundated with information. More than ever before. So much so that we have to search for what we want/need to know. But, with the cutback or elimination of most local news staffs, who find and report real local news, we’re less informed about what’s going on – less informed about what’s happening right around us.

You can thank Ronnie Reagan for much of this. During his presidential term, he appointed a new batch of people to the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC appointees promptly changed previous ownership restrictions on broadcasters and other media. You could subsequently buy as many radio/TV stations as you could afford. One corporate outfit eventually owned 12-hundred radio stations. Corporate. Investors. Absentee ownership.

The requirement that stations operate “in the public interest” was whittled down to meaning dropping a lot of local – or basically any – news. Staff cuts in the thousands hit newsrooms. Many stations now have no news at all.

Awash in information. Too often deprived of real information – local news reporting in our communities. We’re told, in too many instances, only what someone or some agency of government wants us to know.

“…..according to a news release.”

Stand and deliver

Author: admin

Well, now. We have an infrastructure bill. Took 10 months. But, we got it. At least some of it.

No thanks to the Orcasio-Cortez “wing” of Democrats. All six voted “No.” But, thanks to 13 Republicans who voted “Yes,” everyone can go home and brag to constituents about the big bucks coming their way thanks to “bipartisainship.”

While there is much rejoicing in D.C. at the moment, that celebration may be more for the Democrats finally doing something major than for final approval of the bill.

Here’s something to think about. President Biden sent his original request to the Hill, asking for $3.5 trillion for infrastructure. What he got back was much-altered paperwork with approval for $1.2-trillion. Less than half of what he wanted. Imagine the infrastructure projects that wound up as so much scrap on the congressional floor.

Democrats have a couple of other accomplishments which have been filibustered to death in the Senate. Hung up by a single objection by a single senator in a single phone call saying “I object.” What a way to run a railroad!

I’m guessing a lot of Dems are saying “Christmas holidays ahead so let’s get through the next few weeks and take some time out.” I can’t think of a worse attitude for the moment.

Yes, you pushed a peanut up the hill. With help. But, we had an election a few days back and the message sent sounded to me as pretty urgent. The work is not done!

We want the John Lewis Voting Rights Act passed and enacted into law. We want affordable housing assistance. We want tax laws re-written (and enforced) to end billionaire and corporate tax avoidance. We want an end to acrimony and wrangling in Congress. We want a return to legitimate two-party participation in D.C.. We want some of the billions spent on an out-of-control military defense budget diverted to programs to improve the lot of our own citizens. We want to be HEARD! And more.


Those words are the title of a 1988 film about a courageous Hispanic math teacher. The film received rave reviews and the phrase “Stand and Deliver” has become part of our national lexicon.

I strongly commend the use of those words as an all-inclusive mantra for the National Democratic Party!


Democrats have had their majority for 10 months. In both Houses. Plenty of time to act on at least some of those 2020 campaign issues we bought off on. Just those. We want what the candidates promised. And, we want an end to Democrat fracturing keeping the majority from acting like one.

With rare exception – very rare – Democrats will not overcome the determined resistance of congressional Republicans. Not gonna happen. That’ll take another national election. Maybe two or three.

But, there’s a small crack in the current GOP wall. Sen. Murkowski says she’ll vote to approve the voting rights package. She’s signaled a willingness to help Democrats on that bill. Just that one. But, who knows? Might just be another GOP vote or two when the roll is called.

Last week’s election – congressional, gubernatorial or school board – seemed to carry a message: “Get done what we want done or we’ll replace you.” Both parties.

And, another thing. Senate Democrats have to have a major “woodshed” session with Sens. Sinema and Manchin. It’s time – way past time – for the Majority Leader to act like one.

Here in Arizona, there’s already a movement within the Democrat Party leadership to “primary” Sinema in the 2024 Senatorial race. Billboards, slick TV and newspaper ads are carrying that message. Her seat is not a “safe” seat by any measure.

Manchin – a winning Democrat in an otherwise solidly Republican state – is another matter. Majority Leader Schumer must find a “hammer” to get Manchin into line. Manchin has already been given too much leeway. He and Sinema are also stopping elimination of the filibuster or even “work-arounds” to get things moving in the Senate.
President Biden is an old Senate “Warhorse” with more than 30-years of experience as a member. Surely, he and Schumer can exert the right pressure in the right places to get Manchin and Sinema in line.

If “get-to-work-or-we’ll-replace-you” was an underlying message in the elections last week, Democrats had better take those words to heart. They’ve got the majority numbers, if not majority control. The stalemate is happening on their “watch.” Voters in many places are angry and tired of the “do nothing” atmosphere in both Houses of Congress. They want action. They want to see results.


Those three words should be considered both a message of urgency to get things done and a threat to “do nothing” incumbents. Democrats need to heed those words and get back to work!

Mom and Dad’s choice

Author: admin

If you were faced with a life-or-death situation, which pathway would you choose?

The way eventually leading to life? Or, the one to your eventual death?

I’ve never given that drastic choice much thought until millions of Americans decided to forego getting a vaccine shot to protect against the ravages – and often death – associated with COVID.

But, for one idiotic decision or another, we’re going to have this disease around for many years. If not forever. Because of the unwillingness of about 30% of Americans to protect themselves – to protect the rest of us.

The most accurate figure I’ve found for the number vaccinated is from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Something like 70%. Just over two-thirds of us have gotten the shots. Leaving about a full one-third unprotected and some, most likely, carrying the virus. To share. Recent hospital reports are pretty consistent. About 95/98-percent of new patients are unvaccinated, with the death rate in the 80-90 percent range.

Choice. Life or death.

On the plus side, the last 20 months or so have given medical professionals time to develop some effective protocols to lower the vaccinated COVID death rate. On the down side, the unvaccinated are still dying at staggering numbers. Many by their own bad choice.

But, the plot is about to thicken. Pfizer has announced a vaccine that is effective – and thus far safe – for five-to-11-year-olds. It’s almost certain the drug will quickly be granted government approval.

The thicker plot? What do anti-vaxxers John and Mary Doe decide for their kids? Will they allow the kids to get shots? Or, will they almost certainly doom them to contract the disease? Are the justifications – excuses – the parents have made for themselves also fitting for their beloved children? If they decide to get the kids protected, will John and Mary get a shot themselves?

Deciding for oneself how to live your life is one thing. Making a life-or-death decision for your offspring is much different. Much tougher. What will the unvaxxed decide?

There’s an Arizona county up near the Grand Canyon. Mojave County. Near the Arizona-Utah border. Lots of folks living the “independent“ lifestyle. Lots of Trumpers. A good many living in the back country. “Rugged individuals” as they say.

And the vaccination rate thereabouts in Mojave County? How about 38%? Yep, just 38.

County seat for Mojave county is Kingman. Literally millions of folks pass through there for Grand Canyon and Interstate access. Motels. Restaurants. Bed and Breakfasts. Camping. Tourist rides. Gas stations. Millions of people staying temporarily in Kingman or passing through.

And the COVID protected crowd is just over 38%. What are the odds of some of those millions of tourists being exposed to – and contracting – COVID? Most people coming and going through Kingston probably have no idea about how low the vaccination rate is there. Millions of people.

And another thing: what the hell is so personally threatening to folks about a COVID shot? Anyone living in Mojave County who was in the military got a lot of shots. Anyone who went to grade school got vaccinated for half-a-dozen diseases. If you’ve lived to be an “adult,” you’ve had experience with the needle.

Why this stubborn resistence now? And the kids. Is that same bullheaded choice you’ve made for yourself OK for them, too? Really?

Watching national vaccination percentages for the next few months will be instructive. I’d bet we see a slow increase.

The kids.

If not, some parents will have made terrible choices.