Archive for May, 2022

Gun insurance

Author: admin

One reality of the Uvalde, Texas, massacre is that none of us can truly fully feel the personal impact that only the surviving children do.

None of us who’ve never tried to hide from a homicidal gunman or wiped the blood on our face from a dead child lying next to us while playing dead can have the visceral reaction of 10 and 11-year-olds who lived the horror.

It’s just not possible!

In these days following the Uvalde killings, millions of words are being used to ask why it happened, what really happened, who really did what or who did nothing. Who’s to blame. There are some folks who want to arm teachers which, if there ever was a worse idea, I haven’t heard it. Others want to ban certain types of guns, change the age limit of who can buy one (or a dozen), limit the types of weapons they can get and on and on.

No one idea or group can banish the horrors. No legislation will keep some angry, mentally disassociated individual from being a home-grown terrorist. Keeping a loaded .38 in the teacher’s desk can’t. We’ve found out the hard way gun-carrying cops in schools aren’t always effective. Armed guards in schools won’t do it apparently.

We’re facing an intractable societal issue, the solution to which will require work on many levels from many sources. No one has the answer. If there is one eventually, it will be an amalgam of many ideas coming from many concerted efforts.

I’ve heard one possibility, used in passing that I think deserves more attention and possibly pursued: create a requirement for liability insurance for gun ownership.

For the record, I’m a gun owner. We have three in the house. Two pistols and a 12-gage. So, talk of having to have a small liability policy in force is coming from a gun owner. I’m one of ‘em.

The reason I think it’s worth pursuing is that it brings into play the involvement of both society and corporate interests.

Consider: we buy – under penalty of law – liability insurance if we own a car or other vehicle that uses our highways. (In Arizona, you had to buy liability insurance to own a golf cart used on community roads.) We have liability clauses in our home insurance. We have corporate liability insurance. Business owners cover themselves and their employees. It’s a common requirement encompassing nearly all of society.

Require such insurance when a weapon is purchased. Add a few bucks to the cost. Require annual renewal or some entity would be notified to follow up. By law.

I know it sounds stringent and likely smells of gun control to some. But, it’s not. It simply places a responsibility where it belongs: on the user. Just as we commonly do with vehicles on our highways. And with our homes. A responsibility of ownership with a duty to protect others if something goes wrong.

And, there’s this. It brings the insurance industry into the efforts to get a handle on the irresponsible use of guns. Billion dollar corporations. Thousands of agents and corporate leaders. People who now sit on the sidelines would have to get involved. Their sudden participation would have quite an impact.

Requiring liability insurance for guns is not a complete answer to our epidemic of violence against society. There isn’t one. But, it’s a single one that’s a first step on the long journey to finding that answer.

Sure. Some people will bitch and moan. There’ll be an outcry from folks who think having to buy liability insurance is akin to gun control or “un-American.” That’s fine. Just let ‘em hollar.

Bottom line: If you don’t like this idea, come up with your own. Suggest something better – something positive – something helpful to end the terrible violence against the innocent. In churches, theaters, schools, stores, on our streets. Everywhere.

It’s got to stop! We must find answers. We must. Because we could find ourselves like those kids in Uvalde. Hiding. On the floor. Covered in blood. Scared to death.

Disorder and chaos

Author: admin

The national Republican Party in our country is dangerously close to being an actual threat to our republic.

As such, the primary elections taking place across the country are so damned important. Damned important!

It isn’t that the GOP doesn’t have some worthwhile, legitimate candidates. It does. But, the problem is having to ferret them out in a field littered by philosophical nut cases, doctrinaire-spouting weirdos, racists, jingoistic simpletons and others just plain unqualified for the offices they’re seeking.

Case in point: Idaho. Three people were in the running to be the next Secretary of State. The current one is retiring. Of the three candidates, only Ron Crane seems to have figured out what a SoS does. The other two were exemplified by the fact that they didn’t believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected President in 2000. And they wanted to run future Gem state elections? Enough said.

In the Idaho Governor’s contest, at least three of the contenders exhibited rhetoric and used nutcase materials to show they had no idea what the duties were of the office they’re seeking. And, that included the current Lieutenant Governor who’s failed to responsibly run the Constitutional office to which she was elected two years ago. Luckily, she – and they – failed.

The various races for Secretary of State across the country may be the single most important elections to watch this year. In some states – Arizona, Georgia and several others – there is a fear that some candidates – should they be successful – would actually undermine our election process. Jiggle the numbers in future elections, as it were. Undermine legitimate outcomes not to their liking.

In Pennsylvania, a little covered but very important note. The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board chose not to endorse candidates in several important statewide races. First time since the paper was founded in 1829. Based on face-to-face interviews and campaign appearances by a number of those running, The Inquirer said the candidates were simply not qualified for offices being sought. And that included races for governor and the U.S. Senate. In a state that is the fourth largest in the country.

Some candidates – Rep. Elise Stefanik, number three in the House GOP hierarchy – are endorsing the “great replacement” conspiracy. That nutcase, right-wing fallacy holds the White majority is slowly being diminished and replaced by Blacks, Latinos, Asians and other foreign nationals. Stefanik is far from being alone in such other worldly beliefs.

This Republic has seen thousands and thousands of campaigns for every office in the land for 250 years. Many have been filled with unqualified candidates, over-the-top rhetoric, screwball thinking and outlandish acts. Through it all, we’ve somehow survived and prospered.

But, this time it’s different. We’ve got right-wing zealots openly telling us, if elected, they’ll work to change our system of governance. They’ll use their elected authority to fundamentally alter future elections. In some cases, they’ll attack the very foundations which are the basis for our individual freedoms.

In our new Oregon home, we’ve voted. Did so by mail a couple of weeks ago. Having been out of state for several years, we had some catching up to do to get familiar with candidates in all races. The Oregon Voter’s Guide – an excellent publication – made the job easier. Every state should adopt their own versions of the well-proven Oregon system. It just plain works.

However you vote – in-person, by mail or online – this may be the most important election in our lives. Our government – our Republic – is being attacked by unqualified, conspiracy-driven and outright ignorant people, hellbent to impose their will on the rest of us. In most cases, they aren’t hard to identify. All you have to do is just listen to their unfounded screeds and check their qualifications in whatever official publications you can find. Like our Oregon Voter’s Guide.

If there ever was a time for a thoroughly informed electorate, this is it. Our freedoms are riding on the results.

Watch the smile

Author: admin

A smiling lady from Liger
rode on the back of a tiger.
They returned from a ride
with the lady inside
and the smile on the face of the tiger

That old doggerel comes to mind when watching Donny Trump try to keep up with the disreputable Republican contraption he’s put together.

SPOILER: He can’t.

One of the unchanging truths about right-wing politics is the unfailing trait of distrust. It’s always present.

Consider: Nearly every nut-case GOP group got started by folks who were angry/fearful of what the original group was doing/saying. Birch society. Liberty Lobby. The “break-aways” always think of themselves as the “truth keepers” i.e. the ones “keeping the faith.”

Distrust is the single most important element that’s saved the rest of us from a major societal disruption by a single nutball group. Groups like the Birch Society, Oath Keepers, etc.. The rest of us have survived this long because, at some point, distrust/anger/fear erupts among”the faithful” and there’s a splintering or morphing as the “faithful” bunch breaks away.

Trump is facing such a quandary at the moment.

Since exiting the White House, he’s been proudly gathering his “faithful.” Some individually; some as groups. Remember, to Trump, loyalty to him is the most basic requirement of association. Loyalty to him and him alone. So far, to the wandering “faithful” looking for a new leader on the right, Trump has appeared to be the logical choice.

For these many months, it’s worked. He’s headed his legions of “faithful” with little trouble. His style of continual lying, defending 20 or so legal actions, his mercurial temperament, his non-stop “politicus interruptous” way of doing things – all have seemed acceptable to his followers.

BUT – now, as the primaries are underway – and with the general election some four months hence – his legions are beginning to crack. Seems some of the “basics” of the far-right dictum of Trumpism aren’t really “one-size-fits-all.” After all.

As Trump has scattered his endorsements of certain candidates from state to state, some of the “baptized” have lost their primaries. And, in some cases, the winners have strayed from the MAGA line when polls showed such adherence damaging to their candidacies.

There are, it seems, individuals who are, while generally following the Trump line, creating their own “legions” of followers. Absent Trump.

Case-in-point: Take Florida’s governor. Please.

Ron DeSantis has been acting like Ivan the Terrible in modern-day Florida. Banning books. Making life tougher for LGBTQ folks. Running roughshod over people’s lives. With or without legislative concurrence.

In Texas, there’s also been very little influence from Trump. Governor Greg Abbott, much in the DeSantis mold, has been operating as a political “free spirit,” enacting policies similar to MAGA but not exactly the same.

Then, there’s Mike Pence. He’s actively campaigning for the guy DJT did NOT endorse in Georgia’s primary. Bit of a split there, it would seem.

In just these three cases, Trump is not the central figure. Which is the requirement for MAGA membership. DeSantis and Abbott have created their own “local” movements; each with some MAGA guidelines. But not all.

If polls are borne out in Pennsylvania, the primary victor there won’t be Trump’s endorsee – Mehmet Oz. And Trump’s pick in Georgia is in deep trouble and could be another loser.

One thing Trump is not is flexible. One thing the far-right is not is flexible. So, if there is some change in Trump’s MAGA “philosophy,” or if the loss of several of his “preferred” candidates creates doubt about his leadership among “the faithful,” his grip on them may be loosened.

Trump likes to be “out front.” He needs to be the leader in anything he’s involved in. But, as the political profiles of other folks rise and fall, Trump may find himself challenged for that front position. His reign may be challenged. By an Abbott or a DeSantis. Or a Pence.

Remember the lady and her tiger. And the smile. Watch for the smile.


Author: admin

The time has come – it’s past time, really – for Senate Democrats to do some congressional “blasting.” Setting off procedural “dynamite,” if you will.

Good, fact-filled legislation, nationally important legislation – some of it already passed by the House – is sitting in Majority Leader Schumer’s inbox awaiting Senate action. Some has been there more than a year.

In the face of Republican stonewalling, major bills are growing moss as they age. Lacking more than 50 votes – with the Vice President there just to break ties – and with the constant threat of a filibuster hanging over all proceedings, the GOP has successfully managed a minority blockade of significant bills. The GOP and erstwhile Democrat, Sen. Manchin.

Among them, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act which is badly in need of being enacted into law. Now!

And, with the threat of losing Roe vs Wade looming, abortion rights legislation – whatever that turns out to be – needs to be quickly written and placed for a vote.

Since the slim Democrat majority was born, many of us hoped Schumer would use his many years of experience to hammer home some long-needed bills on many subjects. It hasn’t happened. And, it doesn’t appear he’s going to change his stripes in the remaining months of 2022.

If predictions of a 2023 GOP Senate majority are borne out, Democrats will find themselves being shoved to the back benches next January. Again. The dead legislation on important issues left over will fill the trailer of an 18-wheeler.

The time has come for Democrats to kill off the filibuster!

But, every time the subject comes up, someone always says “If we do that, and the Repubs retake the majority, they’ll run all over us.”

Road apples! So what?

If Dems stay their current course, everything in Schumer’s inbox will die. Abortion rights, voting rights, child tax credits – everything Democrats have campaigned on – promised for years – will never happen.

So, how do they face the electorate this Fall? And in 2024? More empty promises? More rhetoric?

They’ve got the hammer now! Use it now! Stop worrying about “what ifs” and pound through the big stuff! And, all the smaller stuff the House has already passed.

This nation is fractured. Badly splintered in almost every way. Between those divisions, and the changes wrought by COVID, life will never be the same for any of us. We’re never going to be the same country we were a couple of years ago. We’re facing a future in which we’ll be doing a lot of things differently.

Congressional Democrats – especially in the Senate – are fortunate to be in the majority at the moment. Yes, “…at the moment.” They won’t always have that luxury. Maybe that luxury could be gone yet this year!

So, while they have it, they need to make the most of it. Get done what badly needs to get done.

“Blow up” the filibuster roadblock! Kill the damned thing. Stop playing pussyfoot with GOPer’s who use it to stop Senate proceedings with a single phone call or a single email. Acknowledge that nearly everything around us has morphed into a new reality, put your “foot on the gas” and take care of the people’s business. The business of all of us.

This is not the time for political gamesmanship. Or even, in some cases, “playing by the old rules.” In some things, we need “new rules.”

This country must have the strongest possible leadership in its top political ranks. The conditions under which we live have changed and politicians need to recognize that and make their own changes as needed.

At the moment, Democrats are in charge. In a few months, it may be Republicans. No matter the Party, new conditions that have been forced upon us must be met by change. In nearly all things.

At the top of political changes necessary at the moment – kill the damned filibuster!


The search

Author: admin

In our recent long distance move back to the bosom of Oregon’s upper Willamette Valley, we’ve had some very unusual experiences.

I’m going to describe a few in upcoming columns. Let’s start with the search for a new church “home.”

Week one. We chose a local, traditional First Presbyterian Church. Brick exterior. Tall steeple. What seemed like a warm and welcoming sanctuary. Young minister.

When it came time for scripture reading, the Pastor reached under the Communion table and pulled out a small, long, narrow black stool. He placed it in the Chancel area with the end toward the congregation. Then sat astride it – as though it were a saddle – and read from the Good Book.

After his very brief sermon, he moved the “saddle” to one side and was joined by the Youth Minister. The “sermon” time turned into a back-and-forth with the congregation in a colloquy about “orientation, disorientation and new orientation.” We got lost. And left confused,

Next, we tried the First Christian Church. Traditional looking building. We went to the front door about 10 minutes before the service was supposed to start. The door was locked. We saw a few cars in the back so we walked around to an open door to a small classroom. Inside were 16 people. Seems the main sanctuary had been shuttered for some time because the size of the “flock” had dwindled to just these few.

It was Easter Sunday. The sermon? A lengthy – and disorganized – description of the Minister’s visit to a nearby federal prison in the company of a Catholic Bishop. Easter? Not a mention of Christ’s resurrection. Nothing about what it meant. Not a word!

Our third visit was to a First Presbyterian Church in another small community. Traditional looking sanctuary with a sizeable building attached for classrooms, offices and the like.

The service – the Sunday after Easter – was also traditional First Prez. At the conclusion of “joys and concerns” from the congregation,, the Pastor asked if there were any comments or questions. Being someone who always has a question/comment, I spoke up.

I remarked that, sitting in a church for the entire service, surrounded by self-proclaimed Christians, I was surprised there had not been one word about the genocide going on in Ukraine. No words of sympathy or an offered prayer for an end to the Russian attacks. No details of any national or international Presbyterian aid. Not one word.

The Pastor quickly responded with an off-the-cuff 30-second prayer addressing my concern, then a brief benediction and we adjourned.

Barb and I left our seats and were walking up the aisle when a woman climbed up on a pew behind us and grabbed my arm

“Why weren’t you here last Sunday when we talked about Ukraine?” she asked in a rather demanding voice.

Totally off-guard, I said we were visiting another church.

“What do you think about the wars in Africa,”she asked? “What about them?” Still holding my sleeve.

Trying to pull my arm free, I muttered something about which war was she talking about.

Her next words: “That tells me you only care about skin color.” And she was gone. Knowing absolutely nothing about me, she branded me a racist right there in the Lord’s presence.

It’s been a week since that incident. Committed to our search, we’ll be visiting another congregation this Sunday.

The experience of being branded a racist by an absolute stranger – calling herself a “Christian” – will stay in my head for some time to come. As those thoughts linger, I’m trying to learn something positive from the unwarranted intrusion. Something that could make me a better person – a better Christian. I even offered a prayer for the accuser.

Our seeking a new church “home” will continue. We have several small communities to visit. We have no concept of what that “home” will be. We have no description of what it might look like. Feel like.

But, we’ll know.