Archive for April, 2023

We have several guns at our house.

Two – a .38 pistol and a .22 pistol. I inherited when my father died. Never have fired either one. Both are unloaded and the bullets – if we still have them – are someplace in the house.

The third firearm is a 12-gauge I bought when we were traveling in RV’s for several years. Haven’t fired it either and am not sure where the shells are. If we have any.

That’s how it is with us. Firearms just aren’t all that important. If someone broke in and I wanted to “defend-life-and-homestead,” that defense would have to start with a search for both weapon and ammunition. It’d take awhile to get ’em together. An interloper would obviously have to be very patient.

We live in a 55+ community with homes on narrow lots very close to each other. On one side of our “homestead,” there’s a family with two boys. They were “grand-fathered” in when the 55+ was added.

One of the boys is about eight. He spends a lot of time, kicking a soccer ball around his small yard. Occasionally, he overdoes it and the ball ends up in our yard.

When he comes to the door to ask if he can retrieve his errant ball, I’ve never had the urge to shoot him. Not once.

His older brother – a teen – occasionally walks through our small front yard as he goes from bus stop to home. I’ve never been overcome with a feeling he needs to be killed for stepping on our grass. Not once.

Besides, by the time I got the weapon and the ammo together in the same place, he’d be halfway through an after-school video. I’d have to go over to his house, ring the bell and ask him to come back into our yard. Just too much effort expended on my part.

Guy living on the other side of us is a 55+ neighbor who occasionally has overnight female company. So, we have a strange car parked in front of our house every so often. I haven’t thought of shooting out the windows or lying-in-wait to kill the owner. Just never occurred to me I had to “protect” our property because of his love life.
Such stories have been in the news lately. Involving people for whom firearms have a greater “importance” in life. People with firearms shooting others for small “violations” of personal space. Like turning around in a stranger’s driveway . People to whom guns and ammunition have a higher level of importance than their neighbor’s lives. People who have not given much thought to Rodney King’s plea “…Can’t we all just get along?”

Guns in the hands of apparently unbalanced – or socially impaired – individuals are all over our news these days. Kids killed. Old folks killed. Teens at a “Sweet 16” birthday party where four are shot to death and 34 – THIRTY-FOUR – are wounded!

Scribes and critics say our nation is “scared,” “frightened.” Of what?
Of whom?

Violence with firearms, fitting the official description of “mass shootings” now occurs in our country about once a week. That means at least three or more people died, mostly for no reason other than they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Killed. Violently.

What the Hell is going on?

No country in the world – countries with people and guns – has the mass-killing numbers of the good ol’ US-of-A. You can stack up the next eight country’s statistics for mass-murder against ours and still not be close. What the Hell is it with us?

And there’s this.

One of the things that scares me most about our current trend of guns and violence against our fellow beings is, when there is an unwanted trend in anything, the pendulum always swings back. And it almost always goes too far in the other direction.

What is “the other direction” when it comes to killing people? Could it be a judicial crackdown of extreme sentencing of offenders? A government-backed effort to confiscate firearms while ignoring the reach of the Second Amendment? How will the country “self-correct” to whatever we call “normal?” When?

Many states now allow “concealed carry” without a license or a whit of firearms training. How many folks carry a gun in the car when traveling? Just tuck a pistol under the front seat. How many folks have a shotgun behind the front door at home? Which lady at the bar is “carrying?”

We live in a time of having to be careful in our daily outings. Whether to church, shopping, banking, schools or just being somewhere in a public setting. We need to be careful at all times.

Now, when at the grocery store, I keep in mind where I would hide if gunfire broke out in the vegetable area. I actually think about it and look for that safe place. If there is one.

And, God, I hate myself for doing that!

One of the best things about the aging process is it brings a much improved perspective about life and other things we lacked when we were younger.

At our house, over the last several years, we’ve been dealing with some health issues not uncommon when you grow more rings on your trunk. So far, we’ve won more battles than we’ve lost.

At eight decades plus six, having dealt with issues that could’ve ended life, it’s not uncommon to reflect on where you are and how you got there. Long memory can make small things that happened many years ago seem more important than you realized back then. Conversely, it can make things that happened 70 years ago, which seemed life-ending at the time, hard to remember. Ah, teenage angst.

Recently, long memory and tradition combined to cause me some of that angst with what passes for “informed media” these days. We live in the Portland “metro area.” Half a dozen TV stations, 14+ radio and several newspapers online.

But news? NEWS?

A year ago last December 7th, we were living in the Phoenix area with many more media outlets. Not a word about the 81st year commemoration of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Not one word! And, in that media market, there’s a very large military base and many thousands of retired military.

Before that disappointing ignorance of our national history, there was another. November 23, 1963. The day John Kennedy was assassinated. Not a word. Not one word!

Now, I admit, to the child practitioners of what passes for media these days, both events were likely “ancient history.” Things learned about in their teens along with the Civil War and Viet Nam. Just something “back there.”

Well, the difference is there are still a lot of us old folk around who lived through Pearl Harbor and the Kennedy assassination. We remember where we were, who we were with and how shocked we were at those times. The killing of nearly three-thousand military and civilians on a single Hawaiian Sunday morning and the murder of a president are indelibly preserved in the minds of millions of us. They’re not “back there.” Their details are not “ancient history.” Each incident still evokes sadness and anger. Neither has been relegated to remote, dusty files. Not for us.

One of the failures of today’s simplistic journalism is the rabid desire for the new, the different, the “first-with-what’s-next” syndrome – the surface treatment of stories. Hard news – whether today’s details or those of significant national history – need more attention than it gets. Thanks to the hiring of media “consultants,” who are short on hard news knowledge and long on fancy “likeability” polling, news value is often replaced by news fluff.

I’ve long criticized university journalism schools as the wrong place to develop a good reporter. Any damned fool can be taught to write. What’s missing in most “J” school grads is something that can’t be taught. A trait ALL really successful media folks share. Curiosity. You show me a curious person and I’ll show you someone that can learn to write. Curiosity first. Writing second.

As our nation skews to a preponderance of other cultures, other religions, other national histories, it will be even more important for news people to be grounded in those new realities. Our country is becoming more than just the ancestors of the Caucasian Pilgrims. We’re becoming a human “Joseph’s coat” of many colors, languages and ethnic backgrounds. We’ll no longer be a majority of any particular race but rather a mix of many. And that’s what this country is about.

For a top notch, professional journalist/reporter in the future, this new reality will present some challenges. One will be the need to really KNOW these new Americans. Their social and political histories. Their important cultural and religious traditions. What issues and needs are – or were – important. Whatever is important to them will need to be important to the people who report on their lives. And to the rest of us.

These new realities – these new demands – won’t be served by a media that can’t remember JFK’s murder and acknowledge it appropriately. They won’t be served by ignoring the Japanese attacks that started a world war in which hundreds of thousands died and millions more were involved and let the date go by unnoticed. Or September 11, 2001. Viet Nam. Desert Storm. Sandy Hook. Nashville.

The new reality will be the media will have to know each of the different strains that’ll make up this demographically changed America. That’ll require more knowledge of the dates, names and places important to their audience. All will have to deal with a broader scope of viewer/reader interests if the media itself is to remain relevant.

As long as a great many people are still alive who were living when these major events happened, those moments won’t be “ancient history.” They’ll be remembered – personally felt – like the national and life changing events they were.

It is – and will be – the media’s job to remember, too.

Bette Davis was right

Author: admin

Despite some not wanting to believe it, the Republican Party has been morphing into something dangerous and, at times, violent. Still, most of us have given it the benefit of the doubt.

But, dangerous it is. And, at times, violent.

You need to look no further than last week’s very dangerous public ouster of two Black Tennessee Democrats from their House seats. Some reports called the GOP action “ruthless” and a “denial of the rights” of the pair. “Racist” as well.

Their “crime?” Exercising rights of citizenship by attending an anti-gun demonstration ahead of a House vote on gun bills. The demonstration in which they participated was triggered in Tennessee by the massacre of six people in a Nashville grade school.

That’s it. And, for that they were ushered – and at times – angrily pushed out through the House doors.

For me, “benefit of the doubt” is gone. The Republican Party is, indeed, becoming more dangerous and extreme in its conduct. Some of its most agitating members are appearing at far-right rallies and demonstrations. Their language has become more harsh – more heated. Their conduct more aggressive.

Some Republican-dominated legislatures have gerrymandered election districts into contorted shapes where – in some instances – Democrats can get more votes and still lose. Just shoved it through.

In such states, the GOP is enacting harmful and often questionable legislation. In some instances, legislation designed to deny someone’s rights or threaten their way of life because of sexual orientation or some other personal lifestyle.

Some Republican-dominated legislatures have been stripping lesser levels of government of some of their rightful authority. Others are laying on unnecessary new social requirements to receive state funding.

In the Tennessee case, Republicans catapulted three previously unknown legislators onto the national stage and laid bare the Party’s outright racist actions. Those actions serve to authenticate our deepening national political and social divides.

Much of the issue in Tennessee – and elsewhere – has been a bubbling over of people’s anger at the failure of office-holders to create new gun safety laws. There’s a recognizable frustration which is added to every time a new massacre occurs.

Many recent incidents of violence have been in Republican dominated states. States where there is the most resistance to any new laws regarding firearms.

We’re seeing people moving from one state to another they believe more representative of their political outlook – one they see as more welcoming – more closely in line with their social “beliefs.”

North Idaho is an excellent example of vivid divisions within the GOP. Kootenai County has at least four Republican central committees. Each claims it is the “official” one. Bonner and Boundary County Republicans are similarly divided politically.

Up there, you’ll hear some of the most discordant voices in Idaho. Several militia groups regularly – and openly – hold their drills on public lands. GOP meetings are often attended by men and women shouldering long guns with a pistol in their waistbands.

It may be an over-simplification to say Idaho is home to such groups because of its long history of Republicanism. May be. But, their certainly is a correlation between the emergence of a more strident state Party and the militance now openly displayed.

Our long history of two-party government is being replaced by a single, dominant party in some places. For better or worse. The long control of GOP state government in Idaho is but one example.

The Republican Party of Dole, Rockefeller, Powell and “Ike” is becoming a haven for the far-right, for extremists of every stripe with a more militant persona.

How far this development is allowed to grow is an open question. But, it appears to foretell – as Bette Davis famously said – “It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Round one

Author: admin

Well, now.

After four days of continual media fixation on criminally-charged D.J. Trump, are you about wrung out? Had enough? Too much? Me, too.

We all knew there would be an indictment of some sort. The only question has been, which crime committed where?

Though this first indictment won’t be unsealed until later today, we’re told by “anonymous sources” there are 34 citations. Thirty-four. Including one or more felonies. In there, somewhere, is the one about “hush money” to Stormy Daniels, porn star extra-ordinaire.

Being an old media guy, I’m angered by how many media folk – regardless of source – have used those words. Read that Stormy paragraph again. Because, I’ve deliberately made the same error here.

“Hush-money.” See the problem?

Truth is, the payment to her is not the issue. The crime is Trump reported the payment as a “campaign expense” on federal forms he had to file as a candidate for federal office.

But, what the Hell? Picky. Picky. Picky.

No, it’s not.

It’s a very real problem we’ve seen over and over again. When an error of fact is made so often, the other reported versions will nearly always carry the same error until people have heard or read it so often it becomes “fact.” Which it ain’t.

And, in matters of Trump, that’s important because, if you’re tired of hearing about him already, there’s gonna be a biblical flood of Trump-related stories comin’ up. For months and months. Maybe, years and years. Other news – often important news – will appear on page six or after the third commercial break on your favorite TV channel. If then. So, it’s important to keep the facts accurate as they surface.
And, you can bet the farm, after this first indictment, there’ll be one or more coming down the pike – state, federal or otherwise. Too many prosecutors have spent hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars to simply slip their findings into a file drawer and go home.

Whatever the outcome of the campaign finance story, the one I’m waiting for is the paperwork on the January Sixth storming of the Capitol. If there’s going to be “Hell-to-pay,” that’s where it’ll be. We’ve already heard Trump was “surprised” by the first indictment. Just wait for that one.

Nothing concrete about future charges has come about – yet. But, it would seem convictions of dozens and dozens of those who broke into the Capitol that day are meaningless without charging the one who sent them there. DJT.

As for the faux GOP outrage, forget it. This first charge against Trump is legal business, not political business. Kevin McCarthy and his minions need to take a seat, shut up and watch the upcoming proceedings.

Life, as Trump has known it, is over. He’s spent decades twisting and turning – and buying – his way out of serious trouble. Those days are gone. No matter how many lawyers he hires or how many millions he spends defending against the coming indictments, his high-flying lifestyle is a thing of the past.

Imagine being President of the United States. Air Force One and all the trimmings. The heads of State. Four years in the White House. The lavishness at the pinnacle of American life. To a cell block. And, an orange jump suit.

More indictments are to likely follow. Quite likely. If you’re about “Trumped-out,” we’ve still got a long way to go before it’s over. Developments, from here on, will be the overwhelming storyline.

I, personally, wish Trump no ill will. But, matters now are in the hands of prosecutors and the courts. Some of the expected charges he’ll face carry specific minimum sentences. Former President or not, it’s the law.

Better stock up on more popcorn. And, your favorite liquid refreshment. We’ve got a long way to go.