Archive for March, 2022

A pox on ‘em

Author: admin

When I was just a “pup,” I got my first admonition about lying from my Mother – pussy willow switch in hand just to make her point. “Don’t lie!”

Then on to several careers – always with that willow switch in mind – in which being truthful was absolutely necessary for continued employment. Think radio/TV reporter, editor, lobbyist, opinion writer, business owner. Truth was dictated in every instance. Trust and believeability. Not lies.

Which is why I have such a difficult time watching “leaders” and rank-in-file members in Congress stare straight into the camera and L-I-E! They know the truth of various issues. But, they L-I-E with seeming impunity!

One current lie among Republicans, despite thousands of feet of video as exhibit one – is the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. We’ve all seen it. We all know what happened. We may still have questions and may be viewing the action with different lenses. B ut, it happened! Several thousand belligerent and phony “patriots” did what they did! The truth is overwhelming!

Yet Republicans like Rep. Paul Gosar and a dozen of his close “friends”, our own home-grown political terrorists, will tell you “it was just a group of rowdy tourists having a good time.” There are some of us who believe Gosar had a hand in the free-for-all, as did some other elected nutcases.

The hard facts of the attack are known. People. Weapons. Destruction. Death. You can form any words you like around those facts. Those are still the facts.

But, House Minority Leader McCarthy has twisted those four words – those four facts – in interview after interview. On the floor of the House as well. And, he’s the most prominent single person who made a fast phone call to Trump to “call off his dogs” as some of those “dogs” were rampaging outside McCarthy’s office door.

McCarthy didn’t call Speaker Pelosi. He didn’t call Senate Majority Leader Schumer. He didn’t call the police. He didn’t call the military. He called the one person he knew who could get the terrorists out of the Capitol. He called Trump! The same terrorist who sent ‘em in.

As a result of what he did that day – of who he called that day – McCarthy has set himself up for a subpoena by the house committee investigating the attack. His fellow “hit man,” Jim Jordan, also called Trump that day.

Lying. By voice or vote. There are many liars in the Congress. Look at Idaho’s two Trumpian Senators – Crapo and Risch. Both attorneys. Both very familiar with the law. Both watched what Trump did to get himself officially impeached – not once but twice. With the facts before them, they – and nearly all other Republican Senators – lied. They voted not to convict. Facts be damned. Overwhelming evidence be damned. Firsthand knowledge of what Trump did be damned. Their votes were simply lies.

Think of their predecessors: Church, McClure, Hatfield, Boxer, Dole, Goldwater, Humphrey, Udall and dozens more who’ve served in that Chamber. You may not have agreed with some of them on this or that issue. But, lying? By vote or voice? I don’t think so.

If we can find a way to stop the flow of misinformation and outright lying, keeping some 340-million Americans prisoner in a manmade world of distortions, that’s a first step. Stopping the source of the verbal onslaught of lies could bring an awakening to facts – not distortions and disbelief.

We often speak of divisions extant in our nation. Especially in our political nation. Divisions many think can’t be overcome. Divisions many believe will eventually bring this country to it’s knees. I don’t think so.

There’s one thing that could immediately end nearly all our divisions: truth. If the lying stopped today – if those telling lies spoke truth instead – if truth were the first by-word of politics, commerce, business – if liars would just stop their lying – we’d be a much better nation – a less divided nation.

Without trying to sound Pollyanish, if truth became the watchword of all we say and do, trust could be restored. Reason could bring many arguments to an end. Honesty could help people regain trust in government. Just truth. Simple truth.

If McCarthy, Jordan, Gosar, Risch, Crapo, Biggs, Trump and their ilk can be removed from office – from the public sphere of influence – that’s a start. It’s not impossible. But, it’s a start. Holding the feet of people in public life to the fire of honesty could cure many of our ills.

Anger and doom

Author: admin

There’s an anger in this country. An anger just beneath the surface that bursts out in mass killings, fights aboard commercial aircraft, on cruise ships, in movie theaters, on our streets – just about everyplace.

A “service” called Gun Violence Archive keeps track of mass killings and defines such acts as the “shooting/killing of four or more victims in a single incident.” Just one incident.

So far for the year, we’ve had about 360 incidents. That’s incidents – not deaths. To put that in perspective, remember the Las Vegas shooting of about two-years ago totaled 60 dead, more than 400 wounded. In GVA’s bookkeeping, that’s one incident. One!

GVA’s tally for mass killings in 2021 is 50% higher than the same time in 2020. And 75% higher than 2019!

Here’s a number dealing with anger that’s really startling. To date, there have been more than 7,000 incidents of passenger violence on our nation’s airlines. People that had to be restrained or sat on by other passengers and/or crew. Or, a flight diverted.

Over the last year or so, I’ve witnessed more than a dozen acts of public anger just in my daily routine. We live in a 55+ retirement community of some 29,000 souls. You’ve got to go no further than a local grocery store or self-serve gas station to see people “acting out,” as teachers call it. Seniors. Folks who’re supposed to be “taking it easy” in their senior years.

Recently, while grocery shopping, I stopped to open a freezer door to get some ice cream. As I bent over, a very senior woman – with an unmistakable New York accent – pushed her grocery cart into my posterior and loudly told me to “Hurry up.”

I straightened up, turned toward her, and could feel an instant anger – far more than such an incident should create. I gave her a mean stare and said nothing. I said nothing because I quickly realized my over-sized anger and was afraid I would say or react more harshly than the occasion warranted.

Possibly being deprived of our normal activities by Covid. Being forced to spend more time alone or with only immediate family for so long. Could be constantly living with the fear of being infected. Of being sick. Or dying. Or worrying about someone in our family for the same reasons. Having to create so many changes in so much of our lives. Such things can work on our psyches.

Add to that a coarsening of our culture that’s found nearly everywhere and in nearly every activity. You see – and hear it- all around. From the street to the TV to the computer screen or in “normal” conversation. You can blame it on lots of things – movies, TV, (un)social) media. Even if we’re able to ignore it, the effects of foul speech, bad drivers breaking the law (and common sense), crowds at public events screaming obscenities or you being confronted by singularly unreasonable people – there’s an unchecked anger in our society.

We’re seeing continued – and often irrational – anger in our politics. Yes, Trump can be blamed for unleashing a torrent of lies and divisions for five or six straight years. They were tough years. But, anger and division were present long before him. He just fed what was there and used both as weapons. He capitalized on the existing divisions and made new ones.

Even Mike Pence was roundly booed at a Conservative event as he tried again and again to deliver a speech. Several attendees later told media reps Pence was “not Conservative enough” for their liking. Pence? “Not Conservative enough?”

Anger and division are not new. Whether talking about the Civil War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Viet Nam. We managed to get back together despite divisions caused by such events. Our union has been a resilient one and we’ve been able to recover.

But, those difficult times – and many others – mostly came from outside our nation’s borders. They took place somewhere else. We tried – as much as possible – to keep ourselves separate and apart. Now, we’re facing internal divisions, being stoked by right-wing politicians, far right-wing media and determined, willful ignorance. Where truth and accuracy are unknown and unwelcome currencies.

We’re witnessing the destruction of a national political party by deliberate deceit and lies, fostered by someone who has a dictator complex and wants to “rule” rather than serve. And that division isn’t a clean divide – it’s a fracturing. Many smaller groups. Further divisions.

Some wise – and some not so wise – voices believe we are in danger of losing our Republic. In danger of seeing an end to democracy. They see the divisions and the splintering going on everywhere as “the beginning of the end.”

Maybe. Could be. But, I think not. At least, not yet.

We’ve got what’s shaping up to be the most important national election in the last 100 years a few months from now. The results of that off-year citizen polling will tell us a lot about our national status. Which is why it’s so important.

And, there’s another pulse checking two years after that. The presidency will be at stake on the ballot in 2024.

Those two events – supremely important events – will tell us a lot about the direction we voters want to go. They’ll be good indicators of the strength of our democracy. They’ll tell us more than the doom-sayers.

Those speaking of the end of our Republic may be right. Could be.

But, I think not.

Somebody do something!

Author: admin

Ukrainians are being slowly slaughtered. Every day, we watch our TVs to see more people killed, hospitals being shelled, indiscriminate bombing and escape routes targeted.

Yet, we do nothing about it. We sit. We say supportive words and phrases. We talk about the tragedy-of-the-day in angry tones. We express our angst regularly. But, the reality is, we do nothing.

Ukrainians are proving a valor and commitment to country with their lives. A woman on a third floor balcony in Kiev knocked down a Russian spy drone with a jar of tomatoes. A jar of tomatoes!

Hundreds of individuals from dozens of nations have gone to Ukraine to do what they can. Whatever they’re asked to do. Even taking up weapons and heading to the latest areas of fighting. They aren’t asking for anything. They don’t want to be paid. They don’t want to be called heroes. They just want to help.

But, the nations of the world are staying on the “sidelines ” for the most part, none wanting to anger Vladimir. Countries close to Russian borders don’t want to take the chance they, too, will be invaded. The rest of us, it seems, aren’t anxious to start WWIII.

The latest brouhaha about getting Polish jet aircraft to Ukraine is just plain crazy. Off-the-rails international thinking won’t accept the planes being flown to an American military base in Germany, where they’d be turned over to Ukraine. They view the U.S. letting jets headed to fight Russian forces – landing on an American airstrip – as our “participating” on the side of Ukraine, making us vulnerable to attack. So what!

I don’t believe Putin wants to start WWIII over Ukraine. He may be exhibiting some strange behavior and is seemingly not fully aware of the realities of Ukrainian national resistance or the lack of on-the-ground military leadership of his troops. His forces are being mired down by weather which soon will be worse because of Spring rains. He doesn’t have a large enough force on the ground to get into the deadly house-to-house fighting always necessary to end resistance.

Temporary Ukrainian use of several square yards of American tarmac, I believe, will not be sufficient for Putin to launch missiles aimed at this country. Or anywhere else. He knows the response would be swift and terrible. He knows where the first few warheads will land. He knows his beloved nation would be a nuclear wasteland.

There’s been reporting the CIA and other U.S. agencies have been funneling daily information of Russian military movements and other secret data to their Ukranian counterparts. It can be assumed other Western countries are taking similar actions.

So, the fact is, we’re already involved. And, Putin hasn’t pulled the nuclear trigger.

The uncommon valor being shown by Ukrainian resistance in the face of overwhelming military forces and the continued bombardment is truly amazing. Pictures, like the one of elderly Ukrainian women in their wheelchairs making Molotov cocktails as though it was just their weekly meeting to do some quilting, created an image in my head I can’t erase.

The front line leadership of many in Ukrainian government and business is also amazing. The gutty Ukrainian President is out there in the fray and using the media to plead for other nations to help. It’s reported he’s been the target of many unsuccessful assassination attempts

And, help the world should. Ukraine did nothing to provoke the Russian attack. It did nothing to deserve the daily damages inflicted by the Russian military. It did nothing to deserve the bombing of a hospital full of sick and injured children. The nation did not take political or military actions to merit the brutal, daily and deadly beating it’s now facing.

Some backdoor satellite photos, some secret daily briefings on Russian military movements are helpful. But, not enough..

We’re already involved. Other countries – if doing the same “behind-the-scenes” stealth activity – they, too, are involved. What Ukraine really needs is some up-front responses to their pleas for help. Military or otherwise.

What’s needed now is more weaponry like Stinger missiles and a few jet fighters. That’s to be expected.

But, more than that, Ukraine needs field hospitals, medical supplies, temporary housing units. It needs field kitchens and a steady flow of food and fresh water.

We’ve “dipped our toe” in the water in Ukraine. No one’s asking we jump in all the way. World nations already supplying information and secret details of Russian military activity are likewise involved.

Ukrainians are doing all they can. The nation is fully committed in its defense. It’s time other nations lend a hand. Including us.


Civil war

Author: admin

“We’re going to find out what kind of patriots you are.
We’re going to find out who is willing to die for freedom.”
Arizona sheriff Mark Lamb, at an anti-vaccine rally

I look at the words and can’t believe I wrote them. In this long life, the words “Civil War” always meant the horrible tragedy 130 years or so ago that cost our nation more than 700-thousand lives on battlefields spread over several states.

But, there they are. The words “Civil War.” For many years, those two words often sounded to me like an oxymoron. There’ve been multiple wars in my lifetime and none could be called “civil.”

Listen to hate radio. Watch hate TV. You’ll hear those two words every day. More recently, they’ve spread to conventional news sources. It’s not uncommon to find them in TV interviews or on the opinion/editorial pages of major newspapers. “Civil War.” You hear the words in Trump rallies and anti-vax protests.

At first, I thought little about the words. They seemed to be a sort of hyperbole when the user was getting “wound up” and emotional. Sort of verbal overreach. Now, like the words above from that Arizona sheriff, there’s more impact. More hate. More references to violence in our streets.

We’ve become a divided nation; splintered and separated by so many things. Most recently, the divisions have been largely political. As the angry voices of anti-vaxers, militant subgroups and others became louder and more demanding, we had “January Sixth.” The sudden, violent and dangerous attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Since that day, we’ve heard more people talk about the possibility of a second “Civil War.” More violent language. More hate. More division.

Yes, the nation is divided. But, it’s more than just one cleavage. In the first Civil War, there was, mostly, a single division: slavery. It was pro or con. Whatever other issues there were, they were secondary to that one. Slavery.

Our current splintering is not so easy to define. The division isn’t made up of a single issue. Much of it is political and fed daily by mass media of the far right. To millions of Americans, there’s a separate “reality” fed by anger and lies. Believers live in a “universe” in which up is down and black is white. Their entire view of the world is separate and apart from the rest of us.

Someone has defined this sort of division as ”my ignorance is as good as your knowledge.” Not true, of course, but it makes the point.

Gun stores are doing a booming business. Many models are sold on arrival. Rifles – the military, semi-automatic ones – are in highest demand. Ammunition is scarce and, in some cases, sold out.

We’re seeing more instances of people in full military battle gear – including weapons – taking part in rallies. Battle flags unfurled at some. More talk of “defending” themselves from this-or-that enemy or group deemed threatening to their lifestyle.

At the moment, those talking “Civil War” and arming themselves for some imagined “Armageddon” are in the minority. But, they are an armed, vocal and dangerous minority. Most states have some sort of paramilitary outfits practicing in the hinterlands. And, they’re being more open about their activities.

Politicians are openly talking about “angry citizens” taking to the streets in some sort of “patriotic” movement to “take back” the government and to restore what they see as “normalcy.” They have their leadership in Donald Trump. They believe in him, though he’s a serial liar. His lies and his claims of still being President are their rallying point. Together, these political outliers are feeding the discord and anger.

I don’t know if a second “Civil War” is in our future. But, it seems certain there will be one or more armed conflicts at one of the various flashpoints currently in our culture. We’ve seen armed assaults on schools, churches, synagogues, movies, retail and political sites. Some Americans have already been killed.

No place in this country is as secure as it was five years ago. No one is as safe are they were. Elements of fear, anger and ignorance have spread to every corner of the nation. We see them. We hear them.

I don’t know how you deal with several million Americans who live in a different world with different realities. You can’t just argue with them using truth. No matter your evidence, you can’t change minds and attitudes being fed daily lies by people they deem “authentic.”

But, the militancy is there. It’s real. It’s armed. It’s not going away. And, it’s more open – growing – morphing into something the rest of us are going to have to face.

How? Where? When?

Now. And then

Author: admin

We Americans are a “trendy” bunch.

New things, new ideas, new fads. We fall into the herd without really thinking about it. We must have this year’s “new” color, the very latest latte flavor, that new SUV with the latest features. We must binge-watch that new TV show or try that new restaurant. Doesn’t take much for us to get swept along with the crowd.

Something’s been nagging at me regarding the disjointed and somewhat over-the-top efforts to pull down statues and obliterate portions of history deemed unacceptable today. Especially in the South.

Down they come. Over here. Over there. Uptown. Downtown. On campuses, in city parks, capitol buildings and other places where they were long-ago considered important enough to be given prominent placement. No planning or coordination. Today, just get a rope, tie one end around the miscreant de jure and give it a fatal tug. Down! Just so much scrap iron.

As an elderly white male, never directly involved with the Confederacy or slaves or other Civil War tragedies, who never felt the height or depth of emotions of this country in the 1860’s, statues have never meant much to me. If I thought about them at all it was to assign relic tags to most, often briefly wondering who the originals were and what important things did he/she do to merit permanent, prominent metal placement. For pigeons.

But, now, with the destruction of so many in such far-flung locales, not recognizing many of the names, seeing the anger and aggression being vented by mostly young people who have little direct link, I’ve become more aware of the situation.

Seems many targets of today’s anger were quite prominent and respected. In their time. Businessmen, politicians, military leaders, educators and other assorted worthy representatives. Of their time. In their time. Maybe not “our time” when just a touch of political correctness can eviscerate someone’s otherwise significant contributions to the nation. But, their time.

Much of the vehemence offered to justify the currently accepted vandalism centers on “crimes” committed against Black people. Some targets of today’s wrath were apparently slave owners which, on its face, makes these monuments – and accompanying respect – no longer valid. So, down they come. Helter skelter, it seems.

Yes, many of the signatories to our founding documents – North and South – were slave owners. Thomas Jefferson is said to have had 600. Washington another 300. Others of lesser note had some as well. That’s what our nation considered as respected “property.” At that time. At that time.

No more. Not in today’s time. Not now. But, at that time.

I came across a quote by the late Golda Meir, former head of the Israeli government and one of my “heroes.” She knew and saw history being made in the toughest of times. It was largely because of her strength of character, her willingness to do whatever was necessary – at that time – to create a nation and a homeland for Jews all over the world, that Israel was born.

Golda had a high regard for everything that “was.” That time. She knew roots came before evolution and past history before today’s events. Check just this quote among many quotable thoughts of hers.

“One cannot, and must not, erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.”

While my lot in life was not to live in Civil War times, it was to be present, as a child, when our nation committed other crimes. When we kidnaped and locked up an entire group of innocent people for no other reason than their race. Japanese Americans, who, by the thousands, were ripped from their normal lives and sent to God-awful places, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. They were kept locked away for years for no other reason than they looked different from the rest of us. Could that happen today?

To their credit, while some of those filthy camps have been “pulled down” like so many of those Confederate ironworks, others have been saved – rebuilt to remind how conditions were. At that time. They’ve been salvaged to stand as ever-present reminders of a notorious period when people of this nation acted in concert – like a herd – to commit a shameful, tragic, historical crime against humanity. At that time.

So, it could be, I think, with our current misbegotten efforts to blot out another national crime – slavery.

I hope historians and others step up to end these emotional, disassociated and seemingly unrelated efforts of uncoordinated anger. To catalogue what’s out there, what’s represented, who they were and what they meant to this country. In their time. At that time.

It seems to be the elderly – the ones who’ve lived long-enough to appreciate history – good and bad – who can see people and events in perspective. People and events – in their time. Except for the history erased from the American consciousness of Amistad and Greenwood or Red Summer or the atrocities against Native Americans. And Tulsa.

Yes, slavery was bad. It occurred during a period of our history that will be forever shameful, no matter how long this Republic lasts. But, it’s who we were. At that time. Not all of these reminders of that era should be erased from some cheap pedestals just because some folks feel bad about being reminded. Of that time. In their time.

As Golda said, they must not be lost just because “they don’t fit the present.”