Archive for January, 2023

Endangered freedoms

Author: admin

Something is sweeping the country at the moment, including our comfortable, little Pacific Northwest neighborhood. Something threatening and violent.

And, that ain’t good.

School board meetings, city council, county commission sessions and more are either being cancelled or are available to the public only on computers. Public business no longer being done in public.

The single reason behind closing such public meetings, cancelling them or resorting to computerized vehicles like ZOOM is violence. Rude, unruly and – at times – out-of-control attendees. From coast-to-coast.

As a nation, we’ve developed a sense of entitlement, coupled with a threat of violence just below the surface of normal conduct. It shows up as angry parents at their kids sports. In crowds at concerts, professional athletic events and, now it seems, the traditionally uneventful conduct of school boards and planning and zoning meetings.

Public bodies – elected or appointed – are required by law to conduct the business of the public – in public. Most are pretty good at doing so. But, now the folks trying to do their business are faced with having to come up with new ways of gathering and operating.

This widespread cloistering of public meetings because of unruly and – at times – violent attendees is a new phenomenon. In my days as a city hall reporter, I can’t tell you how many times I nodded off during those lengthy sessions. Four or five hours of public hearings can do that. Not any more.

As a person of four-score-plus, I’m not entirely “computer literate.” My digital mastery consists of just what I need to know about computers in order to do such chores as banking, keeping up with newsy developments and limited word processing such as these weekly offerings.

That’s it. Talk to me about ZOOMing, twittering, Go Fund Me’s and such and you’re way over my head.

I had to go to night school at the age of 58 to learn that, to turn OFF a computer, you have to go to “START.” I’m still cussing Bill Gates for that bit of unnecessary confusion.

When you start talking about attending a local city council meeting on ZOOM, details of gaining such access – and participating in discussions – soon get confusing for my old mental “processor.” And, that’s the way it is for millions of us old folks who didn’t grow up with these damned devices. We just don’t have a lot of access skills.

Lacking the know-how, going to ZOOM or similar computer-based access to public meetings, can mean many citizens are being shut out of what was meant to be public sessions of the public’s business which wouldn’t be public to millions of Americans.

I recently attended a “town hall” session put on by one of our U.S. Senators. Had about 175 folks gathered in a large community college classroom. About 175. And four armed, security folks.

Now, this is just a guess on my part. But, it would seem either the Senator had experienced some unwanted audience “participation” in previous “town halls,” or the armed presence was meant to ward off such a happening. Or, maybe the community college had a past bad experience or was just being overly cautious.

Either way, the presence of pistol-packing guards at such a normally gun-free, mundane happening was, for me, unsettling and unwanted.

This nation has been “governed” by public meetings since its founding. In much of Vermont and various small communities in upper Maine, local governance is still based on open town hall meetings where the public – rather than elected/appointed boards – makes decisions about planning/zoning, school conduct and a lot more. As close to the people as you can get. And, it works.

When a sponsor – including a U.S. Senator – feels the necessity to have multiple armed guards at a small town, regular public meeting, we’ve lost something normal – something precious – in this country. The processes and expectation of orderly free assembly and free speech seem threatened.

I wonder, seeing the armed, black-uniformed security at the Senator’s gathering, how many folks that might have ordinarily spoken up on some issue, kept their silence out of intimidation. I’d like to know.

Some schools boards, city and county commissions and others are meeting with armed security present. In at least one recent meeting in Idaho, it got so heated guards had to step in to keep the peace. A library board meeting. After which, the librarian quit. I’d do the same.

Millions of folks shut out of public meetings of local officials because of the lack of computers or computer skills – shut off from the conduct of the public’s business – armed guards at your city council sessions – school board members huddling behind closed doors to do their work – armed security at local government meetings.

The right – the fundamental and constitutionally-guaranteed right – to peaceful assembly for the conduct of public business. It’s being threatened. In danger of being lost?

What do we do about it?

Hard times a’coming

Author: admin

It’s easy to write critically about the angry mess facing us in Congress. Almost too easy.

The 118th such gathering along the banks of the Potomac may pose a significant danger to our way of life. In the House, matters are being led by a fellow with the largest political ego since Napoleon. This bunch, on his watch, could actually do harm to our Republic. Great harm.

Fearing no contradiction here, Kevin McCarthy has to be the most flawed, ignoble and dangerously narcissistic human to ever hold the high office of Speaker of the House. No one in my long memory has shown such utter political depravity in searching for power than the Bakersfield Flash. On CSPAN. In our living rooms, no less.

And for what?

To lead a band of misfits and mental midgets so entangled in intra-party schisms and internecine warfare they couldn’t vote in unison on a motion to adjourn if the chamber was on fire.

To make matters worse, here’s a factoid. Of the 221 Republican House members in the last Congress, 139 voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Sixty-two-percent! It was eight of 51 in the Senate for about 16-percent. Hardly raw material from which anything even approaching positive legislation can be expected.

Kevin McCarthy will not even come close to containing and managing his own GOP caucus in the House. As we saw him scurry about the Chamber, begging for votes, we could only imagine what he was giving away. Chunks of power of the Speaker’s office being proffered for short-term support. Little pieces of power lost to say nothing of his own self-respect. Forget that!

Ask McCarthy to define “service above self” and he’ll immediately say, “No. No, you’ve got that backwards.” “Service above Self,” by the way, is the motto several million people around the world profess as members of Rotary International. Wouldn’t expect Ol’ Kevin to know or even understand that.

McCarthy is kicking good people off committees and replacing them with grossly unqualified faces. Soon we’ll know which of his Party were able to bargain the shrewdest and which he’ll shunt off to House oblivion.

We’ll see cohort-in-crime, Jim Jordan, digging into the political and personal lives of last year’s January 6th Committee. He’s already pointing to Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff as his chief targets and, given Jordan’s past at Ohio State University and in the GOP Caucus, you can expect the lowest-of-the-lowest witch hunts.

The questions that should be in the mind of any right-thinker is who will be “serving the people’s interest” and what those “interests” will be. It’s quite doubtful those will be the subjects of any “orderly” Republican gathering.

Again, the “angry mess” of Congressional Republican politics is a too-easy target for anyone watching our national trauma. We’ve seen the “worst-of-the-worst” play out on flat screens at home and the corner pub. From denouncements of acceptable political discourse to attempted bare-knuckled threats to a theatrically desperate attempt to gain personal political power, it’s been right in our faces.

It goes without much elaboration to say we have a Democrat in the White House and a slim, but working, Democrat majority in the Senate. Those are good things to act as keepers of the flame of democracy and to thwart dangerous legislation.

But, what of the rest of us? We pay for and expect a functioning three-legged stool of Constitutional government. The White House is O.K. for now. SCOTUS, which had been expected to be a showplace of Conservatism because of the nature of the President(s) who appointed the majority, is not always so. The U.S. Senate – one half of the Legislative branch – seems to be “in-check.”

At least for now, it’s just the U.S. House of Representatives we need be wary of. Oh, and McCarthy. And Jordan. And Biggs. And Taylor-Green. And Gaetz. And Rogers. And Boebert. And George Santos. And…players to be named later.

It’s going to be a rocky couple of years. Dangerous, at times, too. The inmates in the House cellblock will be in charge of things.

But, I’m looking down the line at 2024. Will we have people of character – strong character – stepping forward, trying to recapture sanity and decorum in that chamber? Or, will good, right-thinking folks look at the wreckage and say, “No, not me.” Like Katie Porter – one of the best in the House. She’s bailing out already to run for the Senate in California. Will others follow?

The “brain drain” is a real possibility. Unless Democrats and moderate Republicans make a concerted effort. A concerted effort to overcome the craziness, brazen ignorance and vile activities of a bunch of crazies being led by a true political narcissist.

There’s gonna be some tough sledding between now and November, 2024.

I covered the Idaho Legislature off and on from 1967 through 1978. Sometimes an interesting experience. More often than not, pretty dry and usual stuff.

Oh, there was that one time when, sitting at the press desk in the
Idaho Senate, the over-the-top pastor of the city’s largest Protestant denomination charged in late. He dropped his bowler, calfskin gloves, silk scarf and camel’s hair overcoat in my lap, reached for the pen in my hand to write an overdue opening prayer and said “God will bless you, my Son.”

Given that long-ago history, and not living in Idaho now, I haven’t paid much attention to legislative comings and goings.

But, catching up with the new cadre of usually mostly rural Idaho legislative folk in recent days, it appears not much has changed. You can always be sure they’ll do something to others they’ve railed against others doing to them. And, there’s always at least one voice suffering from public “foot-in-mouth” disease.

So, here we are at the beginning of just the second week and both “regularities” have already struck. In spades.

First, the “new-low-in-the-spoken-word.” Credit Republican Rep. Jack Nelson, of Jerome, with this barn-floor-scraping piece of wisdom.

When discussing with his “peers” matters of women’s health, Ol’ Jack stopped the conversation with this jewel during a meeting of the House Agriculture Committee.

Quote – I’ve milked a few cows, spent most of my time walking behind lines of cows. So, if you want some ideas on repro(duction) and the women’s health thing, I have some definite opinions. End Quote. Mercifully. Note, he said “repro.

Those are the kinds of spoken legislative expressions that keep Boise bars so busy when the “body” is in session. Regular “frog stranglers.”

Now, there’s that other always-present legislative prerogative of doing to others what they fear will be done to them. Rep. Bruce Skaug’s abortion-related bill is an excellent example. If said bill were to become law – and there’s some very valid arguments to oppose that – the State would withhold sales tax and other revenues that normally flow to the cities and counties. Revenues on which local governments depend. Life’s blood. The State would do so, if – IF – local governments would not investigate violations of- or not enforce-Idaho abortion laws/rules. Boy, howdy!

Skaug’s bill would amend a foul piece of 2021 legislative handiwork called the “No Public Funds for Abortions Act.” His bill, according to the author, would also target any local government that declares itself a “sanctuary” city or takes similar action.

Skaug said if cities are allowed to go unchecked on the subject of abortion, “We’re going to end up like Portland or Seattle and (see) the anarchy that has started to enter those cities.”

In my old days around the press room, we used to bet on which early bills – such as Mr. Skaug’s – would make it to the Governor’s desk. Were I there today, I’d bet “No” on this one. But, some bad bills – worse than this – have cost me some loose betting change.

From its earliest days, Idaho’s legislatures could always be counted on to hold to one precept. Looking upwards on the old federal government “food chain,” the constant has been “Don’t be telling us what to do when you give us your money.” Somewhere, in the bowels of the Capitol, I swear, those words – or something similar – are inscribed on a piece of faux marble.

The Idaho Legislature spends a lot of time on its hind legs flailing away at the perceived “evil” feds for such outrageous demands as “accountability” when dealing with the downwards flow of government money.

But, that same body sees no shame in putting strings all over a package of State dollars headed to cities and counties. Often, more like ropes.

It’s said only two things in life are certain: “death and taxes.” I would submit, for your consideration, an unqualified third: the Idaho Legislature. One: for outrageous quotes from supposed “wise” lawmakers. And, two: turning a blind eye to genuine double-think when it deals with dollars and lower levels of governments.

Was then. ‘Tis now. Seems it ever shall be.


Author: admin


We’ve made it out of 2022 alive. Somehow. So, here we are. Stepping off into 2023 with high hopes it’ll be a better 12 months. And, maybe it will.

After moments of resolution-making and reflection, have you given a thought lately to about how many of us there are in the old U.S. of A. as we enter a new cycle?

Folks at the U.S. Census Bureau have. They’ve been sifting through the huge stacks of data in the back room and have come up with an educated guess. Or two.

The first guess is a projection that 334, 233, 854 of us now take up residence border-to-border and coast-to-coast. That number has grown roughly 1,571,393 in the last 12 months.

Another piece of minutia from the Bureau. There is one birth every nine seconds and one death every 10 seconds. Net international migration adds about one new face every 32 seconds.

So, if you combine the number of births, deaths and international migration, we gain one person every 27 seconds. How ’bout that?

As for how many of us there are on the entire planet at the moment, that would be an estimated 7,942,645,086. And counting. Worldwide, the four-point-three births and two deaths each second.

The Bureau maintains a “Population Clock” which displays the simulated, real-time growth of both the U.S. and world head count. And, it’s constantly in motion. (You can keep a daily watch at There, you’ll see a moving headcount from birth to age 100, growth by male/female, the most populous and highest density states. You can also link to a world clock from that site with even more information.

If you localize things a bit, Washington State is largest in the Northwest with about 7,800,000 residents at the beginning of the year. Next comes Oregon with some 4,240,137 souls and Idaho is third with about 1,940,000.

But, it’s not the number of us that matters. No, we should be more concerned with how the enumerated behave. And, if you’ve been watching our newly elected members of Congress the last few days, the enumerated have been not only an international disgrace but they’ve shown a callous disregard for our national security. Forget decorum.

Whatever hollowed out, empty, worthless victory Kevin McCarthy surrounds himself with in his new Speaker’s Office, he’s made so many enemies – given up so much power formerly in that powerful position – created so much enmity and distrust with Representatives of both political parties – that he’s Captain of a rudderless ship.

The next 24 months are going to see nothing – n-o-t-h-i-n–g – of meaningful legislation. No coordinated efforts to address the needs of the citizenry, a political party devoid of direction, powerless to conduct even the most diminutive tasks and without vision or goals.

Whatever crackpot, personally vindictive and dangerous bills emanate from that severely damaged and diminished body will face a Senate and a President ready to fill the legislative ash can.

One-half of one-third of our Constitutionally created government is in chaos and totally disabled. The anger, the desire to payback and willingness to destroy another member’s work will haunt the hallowed halls of half our Congress for possibly years to come.

And Mr. McCarthy – like some wounded Captain Bligh – will have rendered one of the most powerful political offices of Congress – powerless.

There will be no legislative accomplishment count because of the Republican body count.

Happy New Year!

So …

Author: admin

Here we are at the opening days of 2023. This is the period when nearly all mass media put together a “review” of the year.

I’ve always disliked the practice. If you’ve ever read or listened to more than one year-end round up of the “top 10” or the “12 most important stories” of the previous 12 months, you’ve probably discovered why I don’t like ’em.

They’re all different. No two are alike. Which makes them meaningless.

That’s because most of ’em are one person’s pick of stories or events. Someone was assigned the task of putting together a “year-ender” so that list is of the random choices of just one person or a small group, like an editorial board.

If you’re going to look back at the 12 months we’ve all just lived through, it seems to me the importance of those events is purely personal. In other words, how did the totality of events impact you?

For me, 2022 was a year I’d like never to repeat. I say that because, if you boil down the entire 365 days, there have been just two over-powering events in our lives and both of them impacted everybody.

Covid-19 and Trump. Everything else was far less important to us as a nation.

At the moment, Covid and its various medical mutations, are wreaking havoc on young and old. Hospitals are, again, filling up with victims. New requirements for mask-wearing, social distancing and other precautions have been implemented in many places.

Even the vaccinated and the boosted are among the casualties though the shots seem to have weakened some of the effects and the death count is not high. Except in China.

Covid is, once more, forcing us to take counter-measures and alter some of our daily routines. More boosters may be offered in the coming year. The damned thing just won’t go away.

Same thing for Trump.

In thinking about Donald – which we’re forced to do by his continued, belligerent presence – I tend to let what I want to happen to him overshadow what is more likely in the legal system.

What I want is for him to be tried, convicted of a crime de jour, sentenced and sent to a deep hole so we don’t have to see his face in media reports – multiple reports – every day.

However, we have a good legal system with laws and rules.

Oh, he’s more-than-likely to be charged with something – or several somethings – after prosecutors wrestle with charging a former President with a crime.

In my mind, some level of government must charge DJT – former President or not. If he’s not charged, some criminal act by a future executive can go unpunished as he/she points to Trump as evidence of Presidential immunity and wrongdoing(s) being given a pass.

Also, the issue of someone – former President or not – being above the laws the rest of us live under can’t be allowed to happen. What that would mean as a precedent for future legal actions anywhere is just unthinkable.

No. More than likely, some grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, the District of Columbia, New York State or the Southern District of New York will indict. Then, the issue becomes the step of arresting and the perp walk that goes with it. So be it. Get it on.

Yes, there were other events in my personal 2022 worth remembering and a few worth forgetting. That’s true for each of us. The good. The bad. The ugly. The usual properties of life.

As is usual, I’ve made no New Year’s resolutions. Waste of time. As is also the usual case, those euphoric thoughts are soon forgotten. If I’d written a list, I’d probably stepped on several the first week.

An old Chinese practice is to add a year to everyone’s life the first day of a new year. Under that practice, I’m four-score-and-seven. Never ceases to amaze me. Same age as the opening line Lincoln used in his Gettysburg address.

As for you, I offer my best wishes for a stressless and calm12 months in which good things happen. May the bright light of truth guide your ways and the stars of night keep you on course.

Happy New Year!