Archive for March, 2023

Majority Rule

Author: admin

When it comes to making community decisions – elections, political candidates, etc – most of us were brought up with the dictum “majority rules.”

Nowadays, it seems that no longer applies every time. We’re seeing “tail-wag-the-dog” ruling in some cases. A minority – often small in number – trying to dictate to the majority. And, often successfully.

Case in point: The Meridian Library District in Idaho.

Meridian is a community of some 126-thousand souls. It resides next to Boise – population 240-thousand more or less. In daily life, there’s little to tell them apart since the two sit cheek-by-jowl to each other and, in nearly all ways – business, socially, economically – it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other leaves off.

At the moment, the Meridian Library District – a creature supported in many ways by both Meridian and Boise – is under attack. A few folks – and we’re talking a distinct few here in relation to total
population – are at the heart of the problem – waging “war” on the District.

Seems the Meridian Library District is a purveyor of “indecent” books – especially for young folks. And the small group of strident voices is trying to get the Library District – supported by thousands in the majority – dissolved. Not recalled. Dissolved!

There are two problems at play here. The first: what is your definition of “indecent?” The second: where is it written a small group of folks can dictate to a total population of some 350-thousand? So far, the whole brouhaha is still in the talking stages.

Somebody, somehow, somewhere in Idaho came up with what is referred to as the “official definition” for obscene material. To wit: “anything the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find, when considered as a whole, appeals to excessive sexual interest.” I guess you’re on your own to come up with those “contemporary community standards” and “excessive.”

Library District Board Chair, Megan Larsen, says nothing in the Meridian District libraries fits that “official” description. Nothing! Period! And library staff has taken the half-dozen book titles presented by the group and shown how each is not “indecent” under that standard and where each fits into appropriate school curriculum.

But, the screeching minority isn’t buying the response. So, the whole mishmash is in the lap of the Board. Decision expected shortly.

This is just one example in our world today that shows the extent of some minority group trying to exercise itself at the expense of a majority. Not thousands of Meridian District patrons demanding change. Just this handful. And, they’re wrong.

Also, Boise. The Idaho capitol city has enjoyed long and consistent growth. It’s well-underpinned by a sound economy, a stable though growing population and room to add citizenry as needed.

But it wasn’t always so. For more than 25-years, in the ’60’s and ’70’s, a loud, vocal minority of a few hundred folk, put up roadblocks on the “highway” of the vast majority. Downtown urban renewal was the subject at hand. Even after the documents were signed, agreements all around by elected boards and commissions and construction started. Still they hollared.

Now, in our little Oregon ‘burb, a similar thing. A few folks are up in arms over a permit to demolish three very old buildings and replace the resultant hole-in-the-ground with a new five-story hotel.

Owners of the three hundred-year-old buildings have proven, conclusively, the structures can’t be economically remodeled or rehabilitated. A wise architect once told me nything built by man has a certain “life expectancy” just as our own bodies do. Electrical. Plumbing. Structurally. Heart. Veins. Arteries. Sooner or later, it all wears out.

Though vocally discordant, it’s not likely the minority will win this one, either. But, it’s resulting in a lot of unnecessary expense and wasted time for the local hotel people who’ve already jumped through many city hoops and gone to much extra effort. And expense.

We see this minority disruption in many ways. A few folks try to turn the tide of the majority by belligerence and, in some cases, by erecting legal hurdles.

My thinking: once the majority has proven its case – once the minority has been given a proper hearing – once the questions (new hotel, an absence of obscene books) have been answered by professionals – once the an election has been decided – game over. Everybody go home.

But, in too many instances, its not working out that way. Though small and destined to fail, these little groups of dissidents keep up the noise and disruption. Even after decisions have been made.

“Majority rule?” Well, not always.

There’s a reason

Author: admin

The next time you hear someone say – most likely a weathered conservative left out in the sun too long – “We need to get rid of all those damned regulations,” tell him to “Put a sock in it.”

Then, just softly say “East Palestine, Ohio” and “Silicone Valley Bank.” Just six words. But they’re all you need to make your case.

Ronny Reagan was probably the most noted Republican presidential candidate who campaigned loudest against federal regulations. “Damn ’em all,” I heard him once cry during an Idaho campaign event. “The current mass of government regulations is hobbling free markets.”

Reagan was elected in November, 1980, and again November, 1984. It was widely believed his strong advocacy for erasing federal regulations played a major role of success in those two instances.

And, he largely fulfilled his promise to cut, cut, cut. Maybe that was good. Maybe that was bad. Depending on where you sat on the political spectrum.

For me and my brothers and sisters in mass communications, his success in killing the Federal Communications Commission Fairness Doctrine applying to our livelihoods was a major loss. The ramifications of that loss are still being felt.

Under that very necessary requirement – read regulation – Faux Noos likely wouldn’t have become the B.S. factory it is because the Doctrine required broadcasters to balance viewpoints – especially political – wherever possible. Required! Hannity would have had to sell shoes or cars rather than be allowed to sell B.S. on the tube five nights a week.

As the Ohio and SVB disasters show, there’s a reason for proper regulatory requirements in certain areas where the public welfare is deemed important. Like railway and bank safety. And airlines and cruise ships.

But, back to that Fairness Doctrine. Without it, we’ve had a plethora of right wing crap fouling our airwaves. Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Ingraham and the rest blossomed and were sustained by the resultant “freedoms” previously prohibited by the Doctrine. Whether we, as a nation, are better for their “freedoms” is up to you.

The Biden infrastructure victory is indeed that: a victory. A victory for better roads, upgraded public transportation and government investments meant to bring more private dollars into public areas. With accompanying regulations, of course.

It should come as a shock to no one that our rail industry, in particular, is in terrible shape. And, not just the rail beds and the stations. We are far, far behind China, Japan, England and even South Korea in development of high speed trains. Trains that can offer comfortable and safe alternatives to higher airfares. Imagine Seattle to Portland in 45 minutes or so.

As a country, we’d be in pretty bad shape without proper and necessary regulation. It’s the individual view of “proper” and “necessary” where we get into trouble at times. Which is why so many regs get kicked up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

But, laws put on the books by Congress, most often need regulatory directives for implementation and use. The detail work.

As reported by NBC News, “Five years ago, Sen Elizabeth Warren was the most outspoken opponent of the Republican-led Congress’ push to undo regulations imposed under the 2010 Dodd-Frank law for small and mid-size banks. The bill, led by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, sought to reclassify the “too-big-to-fail” standard, which came with enhanced regulatory scrutiny. By raising the threshold from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion, medium-size banks were exempted from those regulations.

“Had Congress and the Federal Reserve not rolled back the stricter oversight, SVB and Signature (Bank) would have been subject to stronger liquidity and capital requirements to withstand financial shocks,” Warren said. “They would have been required to conduct regular stress tests to expose their vulnerabilities and shore up their businesses. But, because those requirements were repealed, when an old-fashioned bank run hit SVB, the bank couldn’t withstand the pressure — and Signature’s collapse was close behind.”

Yes, there are bad and unnecessary regulations at times. Depends on who writes the and how they’re implemented Which is why SCOTUS gets into the fray at times. Sorting things out.

It’ll be interesting to see if either – or both – the derailment or bank closure came about by running afoul of regulation or some other circumstance. Could be.

Either way, there’s reason to believe those who loudly decry regulation are wrong. If necessary and properly handled in creation and implementation, your next trip in an airplane could be a whole lot safer.

You’d like that, wouldn’t you?

If I were asked to draw a map of the United States, using only the outlines of the 48 contiguous states, I’d have to give it some thought.

As a child in school, so many years ago, I could whip one up in short order. But, now, as a grown-up some eighty-years later, the same project would take a lot more time. More thought.

Because his nation is divided. No, it’s more like fractured. Red vs Blue – rural vs urban – gay vs straight and still, to our shame, Black vs White. And Brown. And Yellow.

We’ve even got folks who want to redraw state borders to fit their political beliefs. Never gonna happen. But, they’re out there and they’ll keep making noises.

Long ago, I quit saying the Pledge of Allegiance. “One nation.” “Liberty and justice for all.” I just can’t do it.

Same for parts of the National Anthem and “America, the Beautiful.” “…Alabaster cities.” “Brotherhood.” “From sea to shining sea.” Our seas haven’t been shining for at least a hundred years. “Brotherhood” doesn’t exist for everyone. And I challenge anyone to find an “alabaster city.” Been to downtown Portland or Seattle lately?

The oft-repeated words of our anthems and the pledge just don’t square with the reality out there. We can mouth the words or sing the tunes. But, the words have become descriptive of some other country where “brotherhood” and “shining seas” exist. Maybe Norway, Sweden or Finland.

Please don’t get me wrong. We’re blessed with our Republic – our democracy. I have strong, positive and loving feelings for my country – for our way of life. But, both are in danger of being lost if we continue to walk our current, widely divided pathways.

Maybe the strongest division we must overcome is the rural vs urban. Eastern Washington vs West of the Cascades. Eastern Oregon vs West of the Cascades. Northern Idaho vs Southern with the acknowledged division of North or South at Riggins. Or Eastern Idaho vs the more populous West.

Many of us have lived in both urban and rural environments at one time or another. And, we’ve found there’s a lot to be said for both.

But, somehow, we’re pitting one against the other – economically and politically. We believe someone else is getting more than we are. Someone else is getting more benefit – more dollars – more recognition. I heard a lot of that living in Eastern Idaho. “Those guys in Boise” most often heard. Now, it’s “those guys in Portland.

Maybe the most divisive issues are political. Like people wanting to redraw Idaho’s Western border clear over to the Cascades and South to California. It’s notable they made a little detour around Bend which most rural Oregonians think is a hotbed of “liberals.” Another division.

Abe Lincoln was the guy who said a “house divided against itself cannot stand.” He certainly headed a nation deeply divided in 1865. More than any other accomplishment, he laid the groundwork to bring North and South together as much as was possible at the time. Even though we still have that division in some small, angry Southern corners.

We must get past these divisions, whatever they may be. We’ve got to rid ourselves of divisive politicians and their false rhetoric. We need new, younger voices vying for political leadership and others socially and culturally. We need to accept – and understand – whatever differences there may be, get past them and concentrate on things that bind us.

We need to work hard on the “brotherhood,” “shining seas” and the “alabaster cities.” We had ’em once. We’ve can have ’em again.

How long, oh Lord

Author: admin

How long are we – the majority – going to continue being confronted by a loud, discordant, foul minority? By an often times loud, discordant and IGNORANT minority? How long are we going to continue being “kicked around” by the too-often unknowing?

Think about it.

Example: There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. Many of them – NO – most of them seem to be honest, straight-forward, good people working in the bowels of government with the best of intentions. Most.

So, who do we hear about? Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, George Santos. Type the word “George” into your Google browser and see what name comes up first – without even a last name. Santos.

Liars. Loud mouths. Cretins. A handful of idiots in an otherwise necessary institution of our government.

Speaking of the House. What about those 21 Republicans – another minority – signing onto a piece of hate mail directed to the inbox of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg? They jumped all over him with blame for the derailing of a train carrying burning tank cars filled with dangerous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. Demanded he get “his” National Transportation Board of its butt and get to the bottom of the calamity. Many of them even went to their local media to cast blame and disrespect on Secretary Pete.

Problem: Ol’ Pete has no authority over the NTSB. It’s a stand-alone, federal agency with no ties to the Dept. Of Transportation.

So you’ve got 21 Republicans – members of Congress – who have no idea what the hell they’re doing. Ignorance personified. Seems a class or two in political science would be a good requirement – make that an absolute requirement – to run for any federal office. Another vocal, ignorant minority. In writing, yet.

Or, the folks at Faux Neus – yet another foul, lying minority.

Seems their talking heads knew from the git-go that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. So, what did this cretin bunch do with that knowledge of facts? Right. They went on and on for months saying Trump won- that Joe Biden was not elected by the majority of us – that the entire election was fraught with cheating.

Now, thanks to a court filing of documents by Dominion Voting Systems in a billion-dollar lawsuit – whom the Faux Neus folk loudly claimed were responsible for the “fraudulent” election – we have their admissions of duplicity. In the words of Mr. Rupert Murdoch himself, who sits atop of their lying “food chain.” And the emails and texts of his lying minions. All of it. Black and white.

The problem with the Faux Neus deal is that faithful watchers of the bilge-water espousing liars won’t get the facts because they’re still tuned into Faux neus. Still continuing to be fed a diet of B.S..

Or, all these Republican-dominated legislatures – all 21 of ’em – hell-bent on ridding their states of drag shows. Drag shows? Yep, while real issues of legislative import go begging, GOP state after GOP state is going after local drag queens. Another minority band of loud, idiotic cretins in Republican drag – er – dress.

Every day – day after day – we in the majority are doused with crap about another “loud, vocal minority” up to no-good. While millions of us – hundreds of millions – live lives trying to do our best, it’s the vacuous, strident clamor of idiots – a minority to be sure – idiots we hear the most about.

This nation has state-of-the-art communications capabilities. Envy of the world. But, far too often, what’s being communicated isn’t worth the time to read or listen to it. Too often , it’s mental garbage being propounded by a minority of fools aided by a willing media constantly running after ratings.

While our nation’s founders created a great, living document in the Constitution, subsequent generations found it necessary to make specific amendments as the time changed. It’s no coincidence the first add-on created covered freedom of speech.

Too bad those who found the necessity to protect speech didn’t use some qualifying limitations. But, they never heard the names Santos or MTG. I quietly envy them.