Archive for February, 2023

Belligerence on display

Author: admin

“I miss the America I grew up in.”

Came across that the other day. It was a meme on Facebook. Don’t usually pay much attention to items like that. But, this caught my attention and hung around in my head.

I think a lot of us with gray hair and a head full of memories of other days can relate. It most recently came to mind as I listened to President Biden’s State of the Union speech.

Just when you think the Republican Party has reached the bottom of the barrel, someone takes a saw to the bottom and reaches further down. The catcalls, the booing and shouts of “liar” broke the decorum of the event and exhibited the absurd childishness and boorishness of some GOP members.

I don’t care which political party you claim membership in – what political philosophy you espouse. I don’t care whether you like or despise the speaker. Moments such as the Biden speech are deserving of the decorum Americans expect. If you can’t comply, stay the Hell home.

But, it seems we’ve entered a time of active crassness and incivility. Such bar room, antisocial behavior has become common – even with people we’ve elected to high office.

Thinking back to other Speakers of the House of Representatives that served over the last 70 years or so, none has come to that elevated office weaker than Kevin McCarthy.

We will never know exactly what he gave away in the horse trading he conducted during 15 votes of his caucus. The man sits in the chair but without the dignity and clout such office demands. He need not fear Democrat challenges to that authority so much as he needs to be aware of the “Brutus Caucus” of his own Party.

His weak signals to some Republicans to stop disruptions of the President failed. Nothing could have shown the lack of respect and the divisions within the House GOP more clearly.

Civility seems in short supply these days. Respect for institutions and people seems, at times, all but lost in the noise of a vocal minority.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not necessarily longing for the ways things used to be. Times change. Acceptance of change is necessary. As we age we are in a constant state of evolution.

No. I’m talking about simple courtesies expected, regardless of the times. Paying respect to those institutions and people for whom that respect is due. Respect for the office or rank held. In the military, you’re taught to salute the rank, not necessarily the individual wearing it. Respect. Tradition.

I’m beginning to make a list of people I really don’t want to hear anything more about who consistently fail to show respect – who continually exhibit obnoxious and unacceptable behavior. So far, it’s George Santos, Marjorie-Taylor Greene, Trump, McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Krysten Sinema, Andy Biggs and anything Kardashian. I’m still adding. Feel free to make your own list.

In the “American I grew up in” we had similar creatures – people who didn’t accept social norms, disrespected authority and who made nuisances of themselves. I recall many of them but none who could come close to the current belligerent crop. In those times, we just shut them out. Isolated them. Shamed them.

Now, we broadcast such loud, nonconforming behavior – we “cut away” from the seriousness of the moment to put their faces on TV screens from coast-to-coast. We follow them as they lay waste to respectability and common courtesy.

Maybe that’s why – at our house – the “mute” button on the remote looks a bit worn.

Blame game

Author: admin

Remember Joe Btfsplk? The little fella in the “Li’l Abner” comic strip? Joe was the epitome of bad luck with a little gray cloud hovering near him wherever he went. Joe just couldn’t get a break.

Another Joe we know – Joe Namath – once opined “Quarterbacks get too much credit when things are going good and too much blame when they aren’t.”

Sounds a lot like another Joe we know. Our President. Joe Biden.

At the moment – with things going badly – Biden is getting too much blame. Covid’s not his fault. Climate change is not his fault. Floods, deadly storms and other natural occurrences can’t be helped. Maybe ending the war in Afghanistan didn’t come off as smoothly as hoped. But, he ended the damned “no win” drain of lives and treasure that no other president had the courage to attempt.

No, Joe’s getting some bad raps for a lot of things not under his control.

And, there’s something else going on that no other recent president has had to deal with. This outpouring of anger in the citizenry. In-your-face anger. School boards threatened. City councils and county authorities being openly challenged. Governors, Secretaries of State, legislators, members of congress and others connected with creating laws or conducting elections being under public attack – in their offices and, often, in their homes.

The millions of Americans who won’t get their Covid shots are not Joe’s fault, either. He, and other public officials, have done about all they can do to persuade those miscreants to protect themselves – and us – from the ravages and death of this pandemic. They won’t budge until they’re in the hospital begging for the vaccine. Too late.

Another thing that isn’t Joe’s fault – the wrong-headed Republicans in both houses of Congress who’ve created phoney, vindictive and angry barriers to much of what he’s tried to do.

No, this Joe – in the words of Namath – doesn’t deserve the blame and anger for much of what’s troubling this country at the moment. In fact, he deserves a lot of credit for the things he’s been able to accomplish, given the negative Congress, a war and the natural occurrences of nature he’s had to deal with.

As for Afghanistan, there’s enough blame for Joe and many other folk. The pullout was messy, bloody and, in some cases, deadly. It obviously didn’t go as planned – if planning there was.

But, when you lose a war – our third military defeat in a row – how do you get out without some bloody, loose ends? We couldn’t just quit and go home – cut and run. We had – and still have – responsibilities for our citizens there, to the Afghans who helped us and to the other nations involved. And, my guess is we’ve still got operatives “on the ground” who’re working to get more Americans and Afghans out.

But, Joe is the guy in the “hot seat.” “The buck stops here” sort of thing. He’s in the Oval Office, behind the Resolute desk. His fault or not, he gets the negative reviews and whatever blame there is – rightfully or over blown. Like his predecessors. And, sometimes, a win, for which there is often too much singular credit. As Namath said.

If there is “fault” or “blame” for Biden to shoulder, it may be he’s a man who often leads with his heart. An accomplished politician with years of experience, he’s also “grounded.” Whatever fame he carries with him, as someone in the spotlight for more than 40 years, he’s fully aware of the weight of responsibility he’s charged with. But, he’s also a devout human being who’s suffered multiple losses. Bill Clinton said to victims of tragedy, “I feel your pain.” Biden, more than any recent President, does, too.

Through no fault of Biden’s, we’re going to live with Covid from now on, just as we do with other diseases. We’ll also have to deal with the tragedies caused by storms, floods, fires, climate change and other acts of nature, regardless of who sits behind that desk. There will be wars and acts of violence in our future for other presidents to deal with. And be blamed for. It just goes with the job.

Biden is human. He makes mistakes. He’ll continue to be faced with large problems requiring decisions. Some right. Some wrong. Like the rest of us. He’ll continue to be blamed. Rightly. Or wrongly.

But, I think even some of his critics have to believe Biden is a decent, caring human being. Not perfect. Not always right. But, caring and, in all respects, an admirable human being.

There are enough things in the world to blame someone – anyone – for. Certainly, enough blame for all of us. It’s our personal responsibility to make sure we cast blame at the right source.

Local meddling

Author: admin

Something’s going on in our county that’s seemingly little noticed but which is changing this nation in very fundamental ways.

Nearly all of recent political and regulatory changes are in what are called “Red” states in which Republicans – nearly all way out there Republicans – control most, if not all, of state government.

Idaho, Utah, Montana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and about 20 more of that GOP hue are moving independently – but in common movement – to the same ends. Ends like state regulatory reform, tightening state-level control of things like local school boards, usurping county and municipal government responsibilities and similar activities.

One of the spurious sponsors of these state governmental takeovers is the American Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC for short. Totally dedicated to all things ultra-conservative, ALEC is turning out format legislation for its member states – member states nearly entirely “Red.” Even the subject of abortion control shows up in ALEC-formatted legislative paperwork.

This move to enhanced state control has its roots in the federal inaction of Congress. With that body tied up in political knots, the states have been emboldened to undertake action to get things done. And, a lot of those things are red meat to the far-right which has been waiting for a chance to show its political muscle.

Consider Idaho with its Republican control of nearly all things political. The Gem State has been something of a “proving ground” for ALEC. Many topics enacted into state law in the last few years have ALEC roots.

Using the ALEC handouts, Idaho has codified many subjects, including undercutting city and county government roles. Such things as local planning and zoning activities or forcing cities of a certain size to change to zoned elections. And more.

Red State legislatures have even affected local school boards with new rules laid down “from on high” containing new “do’s” and “don’t’s.”

As Red State laws become more similar, something of a “split” is developing between them and Blue States. It’s almost like two Americas. One group drifting one way; the rest going another. If you overlay a map with states Trump carried in 2020 colored red with the Red States in the same hue, there is slight difference. But, only slight.

Are we seeing the emergence of more than one America? Will there eventually be laws for Red States and different laws for Blue? How would such a set of differences affect how we live?

If you live in a Red state, talk with some of your city council, county commission or school board members. Ask them if they’ve been affected by new mandates from state government. Chances are they have. Ask if they think such legislative activity is a good thing or bad.

If Congress can’t get itself untangled politically – if there’s more inaction from the feds – look for more of this shift to go on in the states. Look for more of this meddling in local governing activities. Look for more divisions between Red and Blue.

A Covid love story

Author: admin

Dear Diary:

Friday, Jan. 27: Late afternoon, the coughing starts. Nothing major. Just small coughs. A bit of a headache, too.

Saturday – 6:15am: I try to get out of bed. Fail. Try to move several more times. Fail each time. I come to realize Barb is pulling both my arms but I can’t get from a horizontal plane (in bed) to a vertical one (standing). She keeps trying.

Finally, both my feet on the floor and I do a Wicked Witch of the East. “I’m melting – Fly, my Pretties – I’m melting.” I fall in a heap like Monday’s dirty laundry. Reason: temperature of 105.5 taken digitally. THREE times! Our brains aren’t built for 105.5! I have no idea who I am, where I am or why I should care.

Later, after what must have been a heroic effort by Barb, I find myself in my recliner, Orange juice at the ready. I’m really”out of it.” Don’t know how – or when – I got back to bed. Saturday just disappeared and me with it.

Sunday – 6:30am: Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – hurts! It hurts in places it’s not supposed to hurt. Ever! Temp 102. No strength. No energy. No sense of taste or smell. No sense of humor. Don’t give a damn!

Sunday spent – and I mean s-p-e-n-t in the recliner with OJ – tasteless OJ – at the ready. It all hurts. Especially lower back. Barb is, again, doing yeoman’s duty with a disorderly patient. No appetite. And, the body HURTS!

Monday – 9:00pm: Diarrhea. MAJOR! Less time in the recliner. Way more time in a sitting position in the bathroom. Interior drained right down to the baseboards. Temp at 102. Voice is raspy and hoarse. Everything still hurts.

Tuesday – 7:00am: More diarrhea but no idea from what. No appetite. Body aches and pains lessening. Temp seems about normal. Starting to feel more like a regular case of flu. But, I’m noticing having a little trouble with speech. Sort of fading off mid-sentence. Trying to keep to a single thought not easily done.

Wednesday – 6:30am: For the first time, the body feels like mine, though there are still many aches. And, I feel more “in control.” Diarrhea continues unabated. Voice returning to normal. Still not quite mentally “ready-to-go.” In four days, lost 12 pounds. Damned hard way to do it. I don’t recommend it.

The worst passed. Five days. Still some body pain and that feeling I’m not sure of my speech or continuous thoughts. Federal COVID guidelines indicate some chance of contagion until about the 10th day. I may go a day or two beyond just to be safe.

Possibly the most irritating, lingering side-effect of COVID is the lack of taste and smell, which, I’m told, may not return for awhile. Some early sufferers say it took many months to get things back to normal with food and fragrances.

Please realize all the foregoing is just for me. All the symptoms named are just mine. Others who’ve had COVID have experienced their own set of maladies. There’s no “one-size-fits-all.”

As for strains of the disease for which we can be vaccinated, no one even seems to how many variants there are. And, new ones seem to be reported almost daily.

One personal recommendation from someone in COVID recovery is to find yourself a top-quality, live-in care-giver. And, NO, you can’t have mine. Without Barb putting up with my continuous – and very vocal – curmudgeon personality, I wouldn’t be on the path to better days. She has put up with a lot! And has kept smiling. Even when changing soiled sheets.

This COVID is not a “one person” flu. Without her running errands, trying to keep me upright and taking nourishment, making grocery trips, picking up the mail and keeping (cat and dog) Clementine and Skeezix taken care of, none of us would have gotten through those first five days. She kept it together and going in the right direction.

Oh, by the by, she tells me now she failed a morning COVID test and has a fever of 102. Well, isn’t that just ducky! My turn to be Nurse Ratched.

Our COVID love story. To be continued…