Archive for August, 2023

Change is in the wind

Author: admin

If you’re open minded, and a bit skeptical about the howling coming from our immediate past-President, I have a suggestion.

Step out on your front porch, face the direction of the prevailing breezes, let out all your breath, hold it, then breathe in deeply.

Aw, come on. DEEPLY. Just once. That’s it.

There seems to be small changes wafting on the Republican breezes. Small. But, change nonetheless.

Take what happened in Ohio a couple of months ago. A proposal was floated. A proposal to require a 60-40 approval on all statewide ballot issues, rather than 51-49 as cited in Ohio’s state constitution.

Nearly everyone knew – with even a smattering of political upbringing – just knew this was a precursor to block any future measure to liberalize abortion rights. Change the threshold for approval of any change in the law from 51-49 to 60-40. That would make it harder for any abortion-rights sponsored legislation to get on the ballot.

But, Ohioans weren’t having it. The pro-life forces were silenced by a sizeable margin. Even some GOP voters joined the winning side.

And, that’s the small change. In state after state, local election after local election, there seems to be a growing moderate – yes, Virginia – moderate Republican contingent. Ohio was one example. But, there are other GOP voices being heard. Softly. But, they’re out there.

The breeze of change that wafted my way came as I talked with some Republican friends. Yes, I do have some Republican friends.

In local conversations, more moderate folks have been lamenting far-right GOP’ers get all the media attention while more middle-of-the-road Republicans have been largely ignored. Ignored by media and even other Republicans. As if they didn’t exist.

But, they do. In a number of recent local and statewide votes, their presence has been felt. Like Ohio.

I’d like to think these more middle-of-the road folks are starting to speak up. Maybe the local conversations in other places are expressing similar displeasure with the antics of their edge-of-the-earth brethren.

Like “Enough is ENOUGH!”

The moderate portion of the GOP has not had much to say for the last 40-years or so. Emboldened by right-wing “hate-radio,” Fox, Newsmax and others, the far-right has gathered unto itself a loud, vocal constituency. Moderate Republicans have not had such a media presence to rally around. But, they’re out there.

Recent voting on referendums and reliable polling, indicate that maybe – just maybe – the middle-of-the-road crew is using the ballot box to show some strength.

Politics running from the far right side of the road – or left – are not in our nation’s best interests. Neither voice represents the much larger middle constituency.

In some of the larger media markets, there are new talk shows. Not right. Not left. But, middle. With participation swinging both ways. Lively? Yes. Good conversations? Yes. But, it takes a strong hand of the host wielding the microphone not to let things swing too far. One way or the other. It’s a tough task. I know. I used to have a microphone on a 50-thousand watt station doing talk. It ain’t easy.

Wouldn’t it be great to have two major political parties advancing their differing outlooks from the middle, rather than trying to talk over each other? As they used to say in our first Constitutional Congress, “I vote yea!”

But, we need to be careful about reading too much into the perceived voices of moderate Republicans. Their presence – based on recent elections – is out there. But, it’s still too early to determine if they’ll become stronger in future voting. Like Ohio. Or, if the far-right talkers of the GOP eventually drown them out.

But, just knowing of their presence is refreshing. May their tribe increase!

Where do we go from here

Author: admin

Sick as we all are of hearing of the “trials and tribulations” of one Donald John Trump on a daily basis, it appears there’ll be no end to it for the foreseeable future.

Even after convictions and, yes, there will be convictions, the raft of appeals he’ll file in various courts will keep his name atop the daily news for years to come.

DJT has changed this nation in so many fundamental ways. He’s given voice to the “voice-less” who’ve been searching for recognition for more than 40 years.

Fed by the Limbaughs – and the Limbaugh-wannabees – for decades, their followers have been like “tribes” wandering in the desert, leaderless and disorganized. Trump gave them a deeply flawed leader who bullied his way to the top of the right-wing dung heap.

Trump will be convicted in one jurisdiction or another. You can “bet the farm.” He’ll likely go to jail. Somewhere. If convicted on state charges of fraud and/or other felonies, that’s almost a certainty. Especially in Georgia, which appears at the moment, to be in the lead in the race to the courtroom. And, under Georgia law, there’s no such thing as a gubernatorial pardon to bail him out.

Trump’s vocal band of support is already hollering. But, that’s all they can do. In the years-long saga, neither they nor Trump have offered any solid, legally-acceptable evidence of his innocence. None! None! All they can do is rage.

The last thing Trump’s lawyers want is for him to be sitting in the witness chair in any court. For at least two reasons.

First, he’d lie about one thing or another. That’s a near-certainty. That’s what gotten him into such trouble. Second, he’d be subject to a stringent cross-examination by prosecutors. That’s the last thing his legal team wants because that would almost surely wind up with Trump committing another felony. Lying under oath. It’s what he does. He’s been doing it so long he probably can’t help himself.

Trump has also changed how the media reports national stories. He’s become the permanent “lead” in national news. We used to hear of the war in Ukraine, a hurricane or some political development. Now, in broadcast news, he’s nearly always the first story reported. In print, it’s front page. Above the fold. Daily.

Trump has also changed more than a few family dynamics. Marriages have been dissolved. Some divorces have cited loud, divisive arguments over Trump as the basis for being in court. Relationships have been changed over him. Some relatives have stopped talking to other branches of a family.

And, there’s this. Those delving into his legal problems have got to stop dealing with Trump as an “ex-President.” Under the law, and in the courtroom, he’s just another American citizen charged with several felonious crimes. No more. No less. His convictions – if convictions there be – will be as a citizen. Not as an ex-President. It may take some time for the media to grasp that concept. But, it’s real.

These are difficult times for the nation. None of this has ever happened before. Nixon came close. He was cooked, yes. But, his crimes and willful breaking of national laws never rose to the level of what we’re living with today.

Within the legal system there’s always the presumption of innocence. But, Trump’s actions on the national stage over the past six years have been so notorious, so widely reported and analyzed, that innocence is not an easy concept to hold.

Some 25-million Americans would likely “go off a cliff” for the guy. That’s about 14% of the country. It’s not conceivable many of them will fall away, no matter the legal outcomes. That’s going to be an intractable – and sizeable – group for future American political leaders to deal with. Like driving the car with one foot on the brake.

Though we will be bombarded with Trump “news” for years to come, we need to develop a national equilibrium to keep our focus. Whatever happens to him in the swirl of litigations, happens to him.

We 350-million other souls in this country have got to keep our eyes on the horizon – not some daily courtroom drama of a deeply flawed ex-President. It’s up to the legal system to deal with him and his actions. The rest of us need to leave his future there.

It’s our futures that are the most important. As they should be.

Shots will be fired

Author: admin

There is substantial reason to believe this nation will face more armed attacks on our institutions and – in some cases – attacks on individuals prominent in public life.

The University of Chicago has a program it calls “Project on Security and Threats.” That group ran a national poll earlier this year. One finding: the number of Americans agreeing “the use of force is justified to restore Donald Trump to the presidency” has increased from 4.5 to 7-percent.

Put another way, that’s an increase from 12-million to 18-million Americans adults. Eighteen million people believe taking to the streets – in some cases armed – is just fine if it means Trump can be President again.

The Chicago institute found the increase “likely reflects the response of a more intense commitment to Trump following the announcement of the federal indictments against him for mishandling classified documents.” Those indictments were announced about 18-days before the June survey and it’s likely that timing had a direct affect on the polling results.

And, there’s this. Voices on the far-right are being raised again as they refer to the Biden White House as the “Biden regime.” Federal law enforcement is being called the “Gestapo” on talk radio. The Department of Justice now is called Biden’s “personal police force.” Institutions – DOJ for one – is labeled the “Department of Injustice.” Indictments against Trump are referred to as “political war crimes” and an “assassination.”

There is public talk on “hate radio” of imprisoning Democrat politicians – even their families! One of the loudest voices in that discourse is that of right-winger Charlie Kirk who’s talked of the outright assassination of President Biden.

It’s the MAGA media wherein the audience has been programmed, by years of conditioning, to talk of such things. To think such things. What’s out there today makes the late Rush Limbaugh and his imitators sound more like “pussycats.”

If you haven’t listed to “hate radio” in awhile, I recommend you spend about 15-minutes listening to the verbal diatribe. I seriously doubt any thinking person can stay tuned longer than that.

Lest you think there are overstatements herein when talking of “armed” action in our streets, I commend the name Ammon Bundy for your deliberation. Remember, he’s already had armed experiences against the feds in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada.

Currently an Idaho resident, Bundy recently lost a court battle for blocking entrances to St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise and was fined 50-million dollars for his activities. He didn’t show up in court to defend himself and St. Luke’s will likely never see a single dollar of that fine. That’s because he doesn’t recognize any form of government above that of county sheriff. Just doesn’t. However, one such sheriff put handcuffs on Bundy last Friday. We’ll see.

Bundy, and other criminals of the far-right, are armed to the teeth. It’s just a matter of time before someone – or something – sets one of them off and there will be violence. Shots fired. Somebody killed.

Remember those 18-million Americans who believe “violence is justified” if it means Trump can move back into the White House again. B Whatever it takes.

This armed resistance to authority has been festering for a long, long time. Fires, stoked by “hate” radio and other sources, have kept anger and fear at near-boiling temperature for more than 40-years. Now, the accursed Internet is linking up more of these haters using (un)social media. And, the fires are burning even brighter.

Where the first significant outbreak will occur and who it will involve are still unanswered questions. But, there are many indications conditions will get worse and shots will be fired.

It’s “duck and cover” time.

Day in, day out

Author: admin

The national media is a damned-site more interested in the “Trump-news-of-the-day” than we are at out house. I’d guess the same is true for the majority of Americans who regularly try to stay up-to-date on news-of-the-day.

National broadcast news has Trump leading almost every ‘cast. The same’s true for national print and online editions.

“Trump.” “Trump.” “Trump.”

Not everything about Trump – which is being force-fed – is worth reporting. Not every little legal movement-of-the day is worth the lead or “top-of-the-fold” reporting everywhere.

At a Republican Party dinner Friday night in Alabama, Trump repeated his claims that the latest criminal case he faces is an “outrageous criminalization of political speech.” He claimed his “enemies” were trying to stop him and his political movement with “an army of rabid, left-wing lawyers, corrupt and really corrupt Marxist prosecutors.”

He also railed about “deranged government agents” and “rogue intelligence officers.” He called the indictment “an act of desperation by a failed and disgraced, crooked Joe Biden and his radical left thugs to preserve their grip on power.”
I’ll give you the fact that -to our everlasting shame – the guy is a former – FORMER – President. Yes, he probably was a crook while sitting in the Oval Office. Yes, on paper, he may be a billionaire. And, he may not. And, yes, he may have been a local “personality” in New York City before he crept into the national spotlight.

But, he’s now under more than 40 federal criminal – not civil – indictments to be sorted out in various courts. He’s under active criminal investigation in several jurisdictions. And, recently discovered CC-TV tapes of his henchmen moving federally classified documents around his Florida home doesn’t look good.

That’s because Trump – and several of his legal types – have sworn there were no documents there – classified or otherwise -belonging to the feds. Which those closed circuit images reveal ’tain’t true!

As state and federal jurisdictions close in, only his blind, mostly Fox-fed and Newsmax-fed supporters will continue to believe him.

But now, he’s trying to go on offense. His “If-you’re-coming-after-me, I’m-coming-after-you” threat of recent days is an apparent first effort. It’s not likely federal folk involved are truly concerned about life-and-limb. But, it’s also likely some protective actions are taking place in New York and Washington D.C.. And possibly Florida.

Here, in our little Northwest neighborhood, the non-stop, massive over-coverage of all things Trump seems media overkill. But, whatever your source of daily events, you may also feel at arm’s-length from such regular media mayhem. The story may be important but we still go about our daily lives. And, there are other, sometimes equally important, events happening.

While wishing we could go about those activities without the constant “Trump beat,” the fact is -innocent or guilty – it’ll be years of coverage. There’ll be trials, appeals, re-appeals and more trials on other charges waiting in the wings. Many of us won’t live to see the end of Trump and other courtrooms scenarios. He may not, either.

Seems the best we can do is watch less – listen less – read less – and go about our business “above-the-fray.” There really are other stories and other news being reported.

As for me and mine, we’re down to one source. And, that’s just fine.

How time flies

Author: admin

I never thought about being a docent.

While I’ve visited my share of museums around the country, the idea of being a docent in one just never crossed my mind.

But, after a few classes, some book work and a long, written test, here I am: a docent. In the Evergreen Air and Space Museum in McMinville, OR. A retired pilot surrounded by some of the most unique and interesting aircraft ever to leave the ground. Or water.

The uniform is simple. Tan slacks, blue cotton shirt and a green vest festooned with patches and pins representing my years of USAF service. There are about 90 of us to cover a seven-day week, in two very, very large buildings with shifts of eight hours.

There are three buildings filled with aircraft, missiles and various spacecraft including a Mars lander. Some are from foreign countries and some hang precariously from the very high ceilings. But the centerpiece of the collection is Howard Hughes “Spruce Goose” in a large, permanent, indoor cradle. It’s huge!

Actually, there’s nothing “spruce” about the “Goose.” It’s a mammoth flying boat, actually made of laminated birch covered with a boring, solid grey material. Most of what very little metal there is used is in the eight engines. It flew once. In the bay at Long Beach, CA. A distance of about half a mile at a height of 70 feet or so.

There are a lot of stories – and misconceptions – about the “Goose.” But, here’s the straight scoop.

Howard Hughes had a background in aviation. Henry Kaiser owned a large ship-building company. In 1941, the Nazis were sinking a lot of Kaiser’s ships. The two formed Hughes-Kaiser Corporation and went to Congress with the proposal to build a huge aircraft to safely get the military and its equipment to Europe during World War II. Congress eventually authorized $18-million for three aircraft to be built in two-years.

After four years, Kaiser pulled out of the deal in 1944. Our military finally got control of the North Atlantic shipping lanes so we were losing far fewer ships.

Hughes poured another $8-million of his own into the doomed project, changed its designation to H-4 Hercules and continued. Finally, in 1947 – two-years after the war – he had one aircraft. The “Goose.”

His government contract called for a taxing test. But, the man who conceived the “Goose” knew it would fly. November 2, 1947, was the day the “Goose” flew in Long Beach harbor. About a half mile at a height of 70-feet. And never flew again. Hughes had fulfilled his repeated promise to Congress that what he designed – and build – would fly or he’d leave the country. And it did. One time.

Eventually, Hughes died and the “Goose” had no home. A California aero club finally took possession of the “Goose” nobody else seemed to want. Off and on, it was put on public display at Long Beach until it was sold to Evergreen Aviation in Oregon, in 2001, to be used as the center piece of a large educational exhibit. Which it now is.

It was cut into sections, placed on barges and shipped to within seven-miles of it’s current resting place. Far from the ocean. Far from water of any kind. Took two-years to restore and refurbish.

You can visit the “Goose” anytime. You can even get an inside tour of the flight deck and the cargo areas – for a slight additional charge. If you haven’t already, come see the “Goose,” you should. The size of it – the overwhelming size – is something to experience.

While its location is somewhat off the beaten path, we get visitors from all over the world. In just a month, I’ve talked to folks from Tibet, from China, from Germany, Italy, England, Ireland and cities all across the good ol US of A. Thanks to the museum website, they come to see the “Goose.” Even after all these years, it’s still drawing the curious. As I said, even from Tibet.

After a government investment of $18-million, another $8-million from Hughes and millions more of private funding to relocate and restore – twice – one of the largest aircraft ever built is “home” and welcoming visitors.

Being a docent at my age has been quite an experience. There are days I’d just as soon skip the shift. Hours walking on concrete floors can really torture an old spine. Some days, it’s really bad.

But, the people you meet – from all over the world – is something you can’t find just anyplace. The interactions are unique. Their questions and stories are interesting. Most days, I’m occupied with people I’d never meet without this volunteer experience.

Like the Viet Nam vet I met as he stood by the open door of a “Huey” helicopter on display. He had tears on his face as he told me the last time he saw a “Huey” was when one pulled his wounded body out of a rice paddy 59 years ago.

Check us out on the web. Evergreen Air and Space Museum. It’s quite a place.