Getting the act together

Author: admin

The Women’s March seems to be in trouble. And that’s too bad.

Various ethnic and economic groups are struggling against each other instead of enhancing the wonderful diversity represented by the entire movement thus far. Some financial backers have withdrawn support for one reason or another. Even some state offshoots are squabbling.

The group’s initial outpouring in Washington D.C. was something nearly miraculous. So were the contemporary marches in many cities coast-to-coast. Hundreds of thousands of Americans took to the streets to show massive solidarity for wholly positive reasons. Representative of dozens of religions and multiple races. Both men and women. Just spectacular.

But, now the group is confronted by the identical problems so many movements face trying to find their footing; trying to find organizational common ground.

It’s similar to problems of the far-right I’ve enjoyed watching for decades. Unhappy and distrusting folks breaking away from the established Republican Party to go their own way because of differences in “philosophy.” Up popped the Birch Society, Liberty Lobby, Tea Party and dozens of splinter groups. “Purity of thought” was the demand of all of them. A single “impure” thought could get you immediately excommunicated.

Then, one by one, they devolved into infighting, name calling and eventual distrust of each other. Which is ironic since it was distrust of the larger political body that created them in the first place. Now, the Republican Party itself is being divided again. Trumpers versus anti-Trumpers. Republican diehards versus Republicans who dislike what the Party has become. Evangelicals versus almost everybody else.

Democrats are not immune to such infighting. At the moment, ultra-liberal voices are trying to pull the national Party to the left. Many mainline Democrats are resisting. Several of the congressional freshmen – or freshwomen – are demanding universal healthcare, free college tuition, guaranteed equality for all and more of the long-held talking points of many in the Democrat Party.

The new struggle facing Democrat leaders is young turks demanding seats at the leadership table. They claim their recent election is a signal for change. And, to some extent, it probably was.

But, these are not normal times. The intransigent GOP in Congress has become a dam, holding back anything our out-of-control president doesn’t approve. Our national legislative body is embroiled in its own internal struggles. Democrat gray-hairs now in charge need support, not dissent and demands from the new folks still trying to figure out where their offices are. Their turn’s coming.

But, back to the Women’s March problems. There’s nothing new in what its leaders are dealing with. It happens every time you try to build a “big tent.” The very factors inherent in assembling an effective organization of disparate interests and backgrounds are the same ones that can create issues.

Then, there’s the added problem someone or some inside subgroup will try to take over – try to control things – try to bend the direction to its own will. Happened to the Tea Party, the Birch Society and other splinter organizations. Lacking a formal structure to provide cohesion, large groups often are eventually ineffective.

Women’s March has a small D.C. staff. It has some financial sponsors. But, state versions are seemingly unconnected and lack both staff and money to do their work. The result is often poor communication or one group finding itself either at cross-purposes with another or reinventing the wheel.

At the moment, the movement is enjoying widespread public acceptance. It projects a togetherness and unity of purpose. It espouses thoughts and feelings of positive, more unifying times to come. All good things. But, such support can disappear if it appears the “cause” is struggling or showing dissent.

The Woman’s March has shown people of disparate thought, differing ethnicity, different political backgrounds – or no political backgrounds – can come together on a national stage to make an important contribution. It signals connectedness instead of division. That, alone, gives it purpose and value.

It’s to be hoped that, whatever internal struggles are going on, wiser heads will prevail to assure both survival and future contributions. As a nation, we are in desperate need of anyone or any representative group representing our better nature.

Racist bargaining

Author: admin

Let’s get this straight up front.

To the best of my knowledge, I’m not a racist – not a bigot – not anti-Semitic – not opposed to how most folks live their lives or with whom. Around our house, it’s “live and let live.”

But, the other evening, something occurred during a news-talk program that brought on a slow boil.

Under discussion were the travails of Virginia Gov. Robert Northam. He’d been accused of posing in either blackface or a KKK outfit during graduation hoorah’s from medical school. At that moment, he had not admitted to being one of the figures in the picture but had profusely apologized for what it represented. As well he should have. But, the story was only a couple of hours old. More details would come.

The panelists on this particular show were Black. Two women and a man. All familiar faces and all successful professionals. The host asked each one in turn what their reactions were to the Northam story. In summary, they were shocked, saddened and, of course, “Northam should resign.”

Their answers, all worded a bit differently but with the same theme, were expected and I agreed with most of what they said. Until one more thing that brought on the boil.

“What can we trade for.” “What leverage does this give us?” “What can we get?” Direct quotes.

They talked about “trading” for more Black legislators. More Black state officials. Better treatment for Black men arrested. New social programs for Black people. All good. But, “trade?”

This came from a Black activist, a Black professor and a Black New York Times columnist. The talk was they could get something to “restore their faith in government,” soothe their anger, gain some better advantage. “Trade for.”

Now, I’m aware of the disadvantages and often bad treatment of minorities. All minorities. Everywhere in the nation. For some, the history of subjugation goes back 200 years or more. We’ve enslaved, imprisoned and, near our southern border, we’re doing it again today.

But, this was the first time I’d heard anyone talk of “trading” with society over someone’s alleged bad actions. With a story only a couple of hours old , and without waiting for more facts, these people were talking of using someone’s bad personal decision to “bargain” for advantage.

That set off other thoughts. Now, eight decades plus and counting, I wondered about my own life at 25 years. Did I do anything 57 years ago I would not like people to know about today? Did I make some bad decisions, participate in some bad activities back then? Did I do or say then anything not acceptable today? Has my behavior changed? Am I making wiser decisions and being more thoughtful, living a more accepting life now?

The answers to all those questions is the same. Yes!

So, what about Northam? What about all the Northam’s out there? Did they act in ways back then that are unacceptable today? Did they just “go along” instead of making all the right moral decisions at that time? What about their lives since then? Do the make better decisions now? Are they still the same people 25 years later? What kind of lives have they led? Are they better, wiser?

I make no excuses for Northam. “What will be will be.” It’ll all shake out. He made a bad choice – probably more than one. The repercussions will be quick, especially since he has risen to high political office. We do – and should – expect better.

In many issues, we seem to react to today’s bad actions by quickly condemning someone or something because they/it violate contemporary life. We seldom place that unacceptable behavior in the context of when it occurred. We use today’s norms rather than those extant at time.

Racism is – and always has been – unacceptable. It’s both a personal and national shame. As it should be.

But, discussions of how public disclosure of some politicians’ bad behavior can be “traded” for some societal benefit is racist, too. Equality is an absolute right. Guaranteed. Talk of bargaining for racial advantage is racist, too.

The census counts

Author: admin

The upcoming 2020 census is important. Damned important!

Given that fact, why are a full one-third of Americans saying they may not fill out forms or answer the questions or are only “somewhat likely” to do so? (See above graph.)

The U.S. Census Bureau has been polling and using focus groups to determine how close we’re likely to get to a nearly complete count next year. And if we don’t, why not? It’s an effort to understand citizen attitudes about the census, what potential barriers to participation are out there and what motivations are for those who don’t intend – or are unlikely – to respond.

The survey reached a national sampling of about 50,000 homes. With a 35-percent response rate, results are well-above an average sample return size and considered reliable. The Bureau also conducted 42 focus group sessions in 14 cities. Every attempt was made to include hard-to-count populations such as racial and ethnic minorities, non-English speaking, those with low Internet proficiency, young people who move frequently, rural communities and other populations at low risk of response. Pretty comprehensive effort.

Bottom line, here’s what was learned.

Two-thirds of responders are “extremely likely” or “very likely” to fill out the census form. But, at the same time, many people said they were unfamiliar with the census process with only about a third being “extremely” or “very familiar.”

Five main barriers were found that might prevent people from participating. In order, they were: privacy concerns about data/confidentially; fear of repercussions of some sort (probably regarding residency status); feeling the whole census“doesn’t matter;” distrust in ALL levels of government; belief that completing the census forms might not “benefit me personally.” To me, those last two are sad commentaries on what parts our society have become in some quarters.

Another disturbing finding was this. While funding for public services was a top motivator in respondents, less than half knew the census results were used to determine that community funding. Seems sort of a mental contradiction there.

The Census folks have decided on several steps to deal with issues uncovered in their outreach efforts.

Probably the most expensive (this is government, after all) is the need for an extensive PR campaign (lots of paid advertising, individual mailing and the like) to tell a wide audience of the importance of both the census and its needed participation. Second, there’s a necessity to reach out to the younger population to explain what census taking is, what the process involves and why it’s important for them to be counted. (Secondary teachers and college instructors take note.)

The Bureau also intends to involve local communities to explain how census results benefit them now and in the future. There’ll be an effort to get local leaders to participate in advance publicity.

It’s also apparent just addressing expressed concerns about data collection and privacy alone will not necessarily mitigate those issues. While much of the ad campaign will feature reassurances about privacy and confidentiality, inside the Bureau, it’s not widely believed those worried about such things will be assuaged. Another commentary about the society we live in.

None of the head-counting importance is lost on politicians of all stripes. Legislative and congressional district representation is largely determined by the numbers. Small states like Idaho, Nevada and Utah could see an increase in congressional representation. And, the numbers could greatly influence state legislative districts. Especially if we can draw new lines with some impartial integrity. In other words, put an end to politicians gerrymandering for their own interests and third-party panels using the most reliable statistics available.

Yes, the ten-year count is important. Very important! Which is why that nearly one-third of Americans being “unlikely” or “unwilling” to take part is so discouraging.

One other note: none of the sampling dealt with the unwarranted attempt by the Trump administration to stick a citizenship question into the census-taking. At the moment, a federal judge has blocked use of such a query. But, you can bet the issue is far from dead.

Familiarity and seniors

Author: admin

“All things old are new again”

Nowhere is that old saw more practiced than in a combined senior retirement community of 90,000. Evidence is everywhere.

Probably the most conspicuous evidence is in the cars many folks drive around here. We recently bought a new one with most of the “whistles and bells.” Fits our needs nicely and will for many years.

But, you’d be amazed how many 1970-1990 large, four-door sedans travel our wide streets. Chevy’s, Cadillac’s, Lincoln’s, Buicks, Mercury’s, Oldsmobiles, Pontiacs, (Yes, Virginia, Mercury’s, Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs which haven’t been built in years). And nearly all we’ve seen, so far, are in top shape – inside and out – with high-gloss paint jobs, flawless glass and restored upholstery. Our parking lots often look like classic car shows.

Took awhile to figure out why so many old fellas here are hanging onto these gems of the past. It was only when we recently took delivery of our new model that I figured it out. A 2018 model with so much electronic gadgetry that it came with three owner’s manuals. Three!

There are several good reasons why the beautiful older cars are kept. For one thing, they came with just one owner’s manual. That’s all they needed. They came with buttons and switches – not the icons, multi-function buttons and multiple screens in our newer versions. You could set the heater or turn on and tune the radio by touch without taking your eyes off the road to find the right icon or figure out which function that multi-function screen is currently in or which other screen is needed for what.

Power steering, power brakes, pushbutton windows and air conditioning have been standard fare for decades. So, when it comes to “necessary” equipment, the older cars have all that stuff. But, they don’t require drivers in their 70’s and 80’s – and, I’m sad to say, too often around here in their 90’s – to take electronics courses to get around. They’re paid for, are cheaper to license and insure and – at 4,000-5,000 pounds – ride nicely. And safely. They’re also cheaper to maintain which is why there are so many independent auto shops in the area. Dozens.

When you’re 70 or 80-years-old, you tend to value familiar things, whether it’s friends, food, a well-used recliner or older cars. There are enough senior “challenges” to deal with without trying to learn new vehicle operating systems every time you trade cars.

It isn’t that older folks stop learning. Not here. We’ve got more than 300 clubs involving every hobby and leisure activity you ever heard of. And some you haven’t. Big clubs with all sorts of modern equipment and resources. Adult learning classes with hundreds of offerings available at no or minimal cost. Like five bucks. Met a lady in her ‘80’s the other day. Quickly pushing her walker to get to a free class on iPhones so she could text and stay in touch with her grandkids in New York.

No, these classic vehicles we see so often in our community are not necessarily signs of people avoiding change. They don’t always represent someone’s effort to hold onto the past. Rather, they’re sufficient to today’s senior needs. They’re in prime shape from years of good care and often extensive restoration. They’re dependable. Without all the electronic gadgets and they’re much cheaper to maintain. They’re comfortable and safe.

But, above all, they’re familiar. Drivers who don’t have the reflexes they used to have, don’t see or hear as well as they did in they’re 30’snd 40’s and didn’t grow up with computers and electronic gadgetry, may still be active and alert enough to be behind the wheel.

Their transportation may not have satellite radio or power lift gates or tire pressure monitors or even a sunroof. But, it has a “feel” you can’t find in any showroom. It’s got a responsiveness derived from years of use. It fulfills a basic need with comfort found in familiarity.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got that third owner’s manual left to read.

Dems have the hard road

Author: admin

The national political air is full of 2020 talk these days. For both parties.

Ohio Governor John Kasich seems ready to formalize his run against Trump. Jump in early, suck up media attention but, more importantly, get into the pockets of Republican fat cats. Wise move. To some extent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren is doing the same with Dems.

The GOP field to take on Trump will be small. But, Democrats are coming out of the trees to float their names around. And that’s healthy. Shake out all the contenders, give ‘em their head and see who’s left by convention time. Like Republicans, they’re looking for big bucks because 2020 will be the most expensive fray ever. It’s also guaranteed to be the dirtiest race in our long history of presidential elections.

Several factors are concerning about all this. The first is Trump himself. Short of being in the slammer by then, when the Muller report comes out – and it will despite expected Republicans all-out effort to stop it – Trump’s immediate fate will be an open question.

Those disclosures will damage him. Whether it sinks his political future, we don’t know today. But, even if he escapes the crossbar hotel in the short term, he’ll still be damaged goods. We don’t know how the Muller results will play with Trump’s vaunted base. Safe to say, there’ll likely be some erosion.

The second concern is, if Trump’s in the race, which is nearly certain despite investigations and trials, and the Democrats decide on a woman candidate. The rest of us see nothing wrong with that. But, as he’s proven in the past, Trump will attempt to savage her. His previous attacks on Hillary Clinton and Warren guarantee a name-calling, how-she-looks-and-dresses, character assassination tirade. He doesn’t like or respect talented women professionals. Except Stormy.

Based on his previous treatment of women, a campaign based on issues will be completely overshadowed by sexually bigoted vitriol. Which the media will repeat ad nauseam.

A third danger is one I hear too many Democrats and “talking heads” repeating. Dems need “someone who can win.” Forget qualifications. Ignore the lack of experience and other necessary credentials. “We need someone who can win.”

Remember 2016? Trump ran against about the most qualified and experienced woman on the planet. A sure winner, right? And what did we get? A non-experienced, definitely unqualified male. Determining “who can win” in advance of actual voting has repeatedly been proven very difficult. Oh, there’s the occasional nutcase candidate everyone knows will lose. But, that’s rare.

Many of the names Democrats are bandying about at the moment clearly lack the necessary experience and breadth of knowledge we want to see in the White House. On that list, I’d put Harris, O’Rourke, Booker, Castro, Swalwell, Gabbard, Bloomberg and Inslee. Pick one with firsthand experience in foreign affairs, military, international economics and proven diplomatic skills. Good people but in need of a broader knowledge of – and experience in – such things.

The short list of very qualified Democrats, at least to me, has the names Biden and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. Especially Biden whose long history in the Senate not only includes the above requirements, but also professional – and in some instances – personal relationships with many world figures. In his own long tenure, Brown has had various committee posts that have proven invaluable. He’s also a low-key, soft-spoken thinker – good skills in themselves.

I’m not proposing Biden or Brown be presidential candidates; only pointing out the kind of well-rounded background a suitable nominee ought to have. Biden comes with his own negatives including a case of plagiarizing in the ‘70’s which Trump would use as a political club.

The “someone-who-can-win” approach is a dangerous one. All recent presidents have acknowledged it’s not a “learn-on-the-job” situation. And, regardless of previous political background, they’ve also found the actual conditions of being president were much different from what they expected.

!n 2020, Republicans seem stuck with what they have. Democrats face a much harder path. The “who-can-win” argument versus someone with the all-important experience and knowledge necessary in a good president.

Right now it’s all talk and speculation. But, when the bell rings, Democrats had better have the right man. Or woman. Or both.

I was raised in an old line Republican home and voted that way much of my life. Richard Nixon brought an end to that, even before Watergate. Amazing how corruption and outright criminality can change a guy’s voting habits. Permanently.

So, I came late to the ways of the donkey party. Though that happened some 45 years ago, I still don’t understand their near-suicidal politics. From the grassroots up, Democrats are a bitchy, noisy, disorganized and oft-times self-defeating bunch.

While a lot of Dems are tooting their own horns and clinking champagne glasses over their House of Representatives wins, some of the old negative ways are already intruding.

They’ve got a right to celebrate and be a little daffy. For a few days. The November change from minority to majority was an uphill slug against every mean trick Republicans threw at them. Gerrymandering, massive voter disqualifications, lies in advertising about nearly any subject, and fraud on a massive scale. We’ve never seen such political arrogance and deceit in a modern election.

But, that was then and this is now. As the late Cecil Andrus used to say, “It’s a whole lot easier standing outside the circle throwing spears than to be inside that circle trying to catch ‘em.”

Democrats need to settle down and start to govern. Oh, in the first few hours, they passed some “feel good” bills that will die aborning on Mitch McConnell’s office floor. What Dems did was send a message home to voter supporters that they “heard” them and are trying to make good on some campaign promises. “Promises made-promises kept” and all that.

That’s not governing. To govern successfully, you need to carefully examine the political playing field and figure out what the real issues are – the ones that need work first. And the ones you can get passed through the Senate and signed by our out-of-control President. Otherwise, you’re spinning your wheels and acting like Republican lite.

The most important key to accomplishing that is the new Speaker of the House – Ms. Pelosi. No one in that body has more experience, more legislative talent, a better understanding of political clout and how to use it. No one. She’s also the biggest Republican target. The Capitol Hill market for Pelosi lookalike voodoo dolls can’t keep up with the GOP demand.

But, she’s an old warrior. Lots of battle scars from old political battles. She knows how to throw a legislative punch and how to take one while staying on her feet. She’s also got some other deeply experienced old soldiers in key spots to help run the gauntlet. Given her head, House Democrats have got a helluva leadership team.

Still, some in the Dem freshman class are acting like spoiled – and very inexperienced – children. With assistance from our national “show business “media, some are “performing” more like celebrities than legislators. Others thought it would be cute to vote for someone other than Pelosi in the speakership race. Ten of ‘em. A few even posted media notices of their idiocy.

And we’ve got one who wants to play tit-for-tat with her GOP critics by making in-your-face videos like a hooker on a porn site. She’s also publically pouting because her “pie-in-the-sky” legislative wants aren’t going to be the first order of business.

Governing – and doing it right – is hard when the people needed to pull it off do and say things that distract from what the pros are trying to get done. It’s hard enough with a small majority (235-199) if all the troops are in line. When some want to primp and pose for constituents or personal promotion, it’s tougher.

I suspect Nancy Pelosi, with the grace of a good parent, will let the “kids” romp for a couple of weeks. Let ‘em get it out of their systems. Then, there’ll be a tug on the leash. And, if that doesn’t get the desired results, there’ll be a few “woodshed” sessions. Not that the Speaker will always get her way. She knows she has to keep the troops happy and there has to be some horse-trading. Again, Pelosi knows just what to do. And how and when to do it.

I like the noisiness and disorder of Democrats. Lots of people with lots of opinions and varied backgrounds. I also like the multiple ethnicity inclusion and the “everybody-is-somebody” attitude. All good.

But. Just as our military can claim the same attributes during informal times, when it comes to the fight, the chain-of-command and the orders are clear. Line up and follow the leaders. There’s time enough for individualness. When trying to win the battle, well, that’s not the time and Congress is not the place.

The “base”

Author: admin

Here a “base.” There a “base.” Everywhere a “base, base.” (With apologies to Old McDonald.)

Our national media, it seems, can’t do a Trump story about anything he says or does without referring to his “base.” Whatever the action, whatever the latest lie, there’s constant referral to his “base.”

A political base is not news. Roosevelt had one. Truman had one. Lincoln had one. Even George Washington had one. All presidents have a base. It’s not something we need to be reminded of over and over and over again.

Aside from being a meaningless appendage to any news item, it should be remembered Trump’s “base” is a statistical minority of voters. Poll after poll shows that “base” at 35-40 percent. Recent sampling has those numbers slowly dropping. In other words, a minority becoming a more distinct minority. Given that Trump is slowly alienating one segment of the population after another – as predicted – the continual talk about his “base” is going to be even more irrelevant.

Which begs the question: “Why continue to put a focus on something that is both meaningless and unnecessary?”

It can’t automatically be assumed those leaving his “base” of support are becoming Democrats. In fact, the fear is they could be turned-off, non-voters in the 2020 elections. Which would be a loss to all of us.

Democrats would be well-advised to identify those regretting their previous votes for Trump and make an extra effort to gain their support. Not by some pie-in-the sky nonsense currently being espoused by the “new left.” Go back to the “lunch bucket” approach Democrats seem to have forgotten in recent elections. Jobs, health care, education, etc. And not just “talk-the-talk” but seriously “walk-the-walk.”

Though the aforementioned polling shows weaker support for Trump, no other recent sampling I’ve seen indicates more backing for Democrats. It’s likely there won’t be more significant support if the Party doesn’t get back to those basics.

Trump’s been demanding a “wall.” Well, he’s about to get one. The name is Nancy Pelosi. She’s a tougher wall for Trump than any wall an engineer could design for our Southern border. Pelosi is far more qualified for her job than he is for his. She’s been to many a congressional “rodeo” and has more than her share of “belt buckles.”

But, she also has a problem in the new House majority – that “new left.” Before being sworn-in next month, some are “demanding” changes. Skip the seniority system. Create new committees for this and that. Seat some of the new faces up front in the House. Before locating the member bathrooms, some want their “needs” recognized “NOW!”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) has become a media darling even before her term begins. She’s also shown how little she knows – and how little she understands – about being a member of Congress. She’s being made a “celebrity” instead of someone elected to do a well-defined constitutional job.

House members are elected for two-years. Fixed. Celebrity comes and goes. Mostly goes. Once someone new comes along who catches the public attention – and the media spotlight – today’s “celebrity” is yesterday’s news. Forgotten. Ocasio-Cortez is flirting with that at the moment. She needs to read her job description and post it prominently on her office wall. Then follow it!

It can be safely assumed, since her “green committee” idea died aborning, that she and Pelosi have had “the talk.” The new representative’s “base” is in New York City. Pelosi’s “base” is sitting on the new majority side in the House. That’s a “BASE!”

Democrats have a base now with the American voter. From all appearances, a lot of non-Democrats agreed to be members of that base in November. For now. Those folks are watching to see if what badly needs to be done actually gets done. If it does, we’ll likely see a “sweep” in 2020. If not, the majority will again be a minority. Pelosi knows that. In spades.

As for Trump’s “base,” safe betting is it will continue to shrink. Probably not much more. But, some. Whether he finishes his term in office or in prison, that “base” is becoming more irrelevant. Both for him. And, I hope, the national media!

Life after death

Author: admin

In the weeks since the November elections, Republicans in several states have reacted to losses at the polls by trying their damndest to cripple their duly elected replacements.

Acting like spoiled children on a playground who’ve lost while playing by the rules, they’ve been changing the rules. In those cases, new GOP laws (those rules) and legal responsibilities of governors, attorneys general, secretaries of state and similar officials now limit the powers of incoming Democrats.

Here, in our desert oasis, we’ve been given a similar “slap-in-the-face” by our – need I say it – Republican governor. He’s resurrected a political loser at the polls by giving her the U.S. Senate seat voters wouldn’t. Another loser “wins.”

Our two candidates to replace Sen. Jeff Flake were both members of the U.S. House. Voters in this “purple” state gave the job to the Democrat. So, the Republican was rejected with two more months in office. Most folks thought that was that.

Aha! But, wait! For defeated, voter-rejected GOP candidates, there’s “life after death.” At least for Martha McSally. Mitch McConnell’s choice for the open Seat of the late John McCain.

Former Senator John Kyl had been keeping the seat warm. But, guess what? A couple of weeks ago, Kyl said he’d quit the end of the this month, ahead of schedule, and before the January swearing in of the next Congress.

So, our Republican governor quickly announced his replacement – Martha McSally – who gets a couple of days seniority over the duly-elected Democrat. Important for choosing office space and other perks.

McSally was the made-to-order candidate for Republicans. An incumbent, of course. Pretty good on her feet when campaigning. Experienced on Capitol Hill. But, more than that, she was the first female USAF fighter pilot to see combat. A fact she kept way out in front in her campaign.

But, to me, the most important “out front” campaign claim was her repeated bald face lie that she had protected- and would continue to protect – our health care insurance, especially for those with pre-existing conditions.

Yes, a lie, if you bothered to check her recorded votes in the House the last two years. More than 50 times, she voted to kill the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare. Always “no.” Always. But, in her campaign ads, especially late in the race, there she was. Her voice. Her picture. She lied about other things as well, which seems to be accepted conduct these days for hungry office-seekers of both parties. But, who’s counting?

It was the “straight-into-the-camera” health insurance lies that were her most blatant. Black and white. Many Republican incumbents did the same this year. Some won with the lie – some didn’t. Those who won while lying did so because a poorly informed – or uninformed – electorate didn’t check and didn’t hold them accountable.

We’re living in a strange “Alice In Wonderland” political world at the moment. Where lies are used in place of truth. Where voters reject your candidacy, but you still win. Where losers in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina and elsewhere rewrite laws to cripple the winners. Where South Carolina Republicans want to cancel the 2020 presidential primary so Trump won’t have opposition. Where voter laws are ignored but the “winners” still “win” and the “losers” still “lose.”

I don’t know what’s happened to the Republican Party. No more Nelson Rockefellers, Barry Goldwaters, Bob Doles, Warren Rudmans, Jim McClures, Dwight Eisenhowers, Henry Cabot Lodges.

The “law-and-order” Party now conducts law-breaking operations to stop legal asylum-seekers from entering the country to make their cases. A Republican Congress refuses to exercise its constitutionally required “checks-and-balances” on an out-of-control President who’s operating like a banana republic dictator. It allows trade wars to be started unilaterally; international treaty obligations broken. It conceals scientifically-supported reports. Cuts academic, health and scientific research funding. Denies veteran’s their full benefits. Puts thousands of children in makeshift prisons.

None of that – none – could be assigned to the Republican Party I was raised to respect. It has become a home for congressional cowardice, ruinous policy-making, treacherous behavior in our international conduct, a “home” for racists, anti-Semites and radicals and a threat to the lives of people struggling with health problems beyond their control.

A responsible political party does not do those things. Does not countenance those things. Doesn’t make losers winners.

Oh, wait. There’s Arizona.

Stay in your lane

Author: admin

Though well into the late senior years at our house, we like to think we’re still flexible in adjusting to new ways. We try to accept and adapt. “Change,” they say, “is the only constant.” We like to think we’re open to that.

Well, at four score and two, I’ve “hit the wall.” The politically correct and the do-gooders have lost me. I’ve been wavering for a long time, but, chances are, they’ve lost me permanently.

What finally pushed me over the edge was the decision at an Ohio radio station to stop playing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” That hacked it!

Anyone who can find “sexual innuendo” and “suggestive lyrics” in Ricardo Montalban singing the words to Esther Williams has one of the sicker minds around. And the station “management” that pulled that song from its rotation should be ashamed.

Listen to any contemporary music format – especially Rap – and you’ll hear lyrics of sexual assault, murder, cop killing, rioting, Satanism and on and on. In fact, Rap had its roots in protest and violence. Many of its popular “stars” have been killed in violent ways.

Compare those “lyrics” to recordings of “Baby, It’s Cold…” by Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Rosemary Clooney or any of the dozens of other artists who’ve crooned those words. Even Lawrence Welk!

We live in a crude world. Much more so in the last few years. Nobody chose it. But, here we are. I’m often amazed at how much vile junk is on Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the “social” media. I try not to use most of the terms or even condone much of it. Still, I admit to passing some of it along as “humor.” Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. But, that’s our world today.

Go to any sporting event. Pay a hundred bucks or so and sit in the audience of nearly any show by today’s top performers. Even ride public transportation or just walk down any street. Crude doesn’t even come close to describing what you’ll hear.

We also live in a world where too much attention is paid to a few people – a distinct minority of people – continually trying to push their lifestyles, beliefs, religion and demands on the rest of us. The “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” fiasco is simply the latest and most outrageous example.

Most of the time, the naysayers for almost anything use religion – or “personal discomfort” – as the basis for their objections. Ironic that, at the same time they’re using their beliefs to justify umbrage, the numbers of people attending church these days is in distinct decline.

There’s another anomaly at play with many of these pious folk. While using religious beliefs as justification for trying to control the rest of us, many of these same people are devoted followers of a President whose warped lifestyle, repeated violations of his marriage vows, corrupt business practices and serial lying they accept. Even venerate.

We’re told the first settlers came to this country seeking religious freedom – the right to practice what they believed without interference. A couple hundred years later, those who put our national demands for freedom on paper refused to adopt a national religion. “To each his own,” was the idea.

I grew up in a small Oregon town where a little old woman genuflected to parking meters and believed God spoke to her from fire hydrants. Crazy? Maybe. But no one stopped her or, to my knowledge, ever objected.

Religion, in belief and practice, is – and should be – a private matter. On that issue, we’re a nation founded on the basis of absolute religious freedom. But, it cuts both ways. Accept and believe what you will. But, show me the same courtesy.

There’s a recent catchphrase going around. “Stay in your lane.” It most often means, “you do your thing and I’ll do mine.” Makes a lot of sense. Especially when it comes to religious beliefs and practices as those white-wigged gentlemen wrote many years ago.

The manager of that Ohio radio station – and others who cave to minority voices making ridiculous demands – should use some common sense when making decisions that affect the rest of us. We don’t all “march to the same drummer.”

One more thing. Based on a long life dealing with the public, when it comes to those who opposed Ricardo’s crooning, I’d like to see their Internet browsing history. But, I’ll just stay in my lane. For now.

Other duties as assigned

Author: admin

As a Republic, we’re living in dangerous times. Unlike the past, when wars defined the danger, we’re at war with ourselves. And, it seems at moments, much of the rest of the world.

Divisions, tribalism, racism, anti-Semitism, far right and far left hate mongers, sexism, laws based on lies, ignorance and political self-service being enacted in state-after-state. Our federal judiciary is being filled with wholly unqualified but politically expedient nominees, mass media outlets spewing flat out lies and fictitious “stories” passed off as “news.”

These and more demonstrations of outrageous national conduct are threatening our freedoms, our place in world societies, our relationships with other nations and even with each other. Add in the most repeatedly proven self-dealing serial liar and least qualified president in our long history. All of this portends a future – at least a short-term future – of anger, fear, resentment and great difficulty effectively governing with such dangers.

Fearful? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Pleasing to our enemies? Yes. All of that and more.

So, we’ve turned to a federal prosecutor. A Marine veteran with a political and judicial histories that are truly outstanding. We’ve given him the task of sorting out the criminals, crimes, lies, double-dealing, treacheries and illegal conduct that have been the sources of much of these dangers. We’ve assigned him and his team the job of rooting out perpetrators and reporting to our Congress and to us his evidence-based findings.

At about the 18 month point of his work, the investigation seems only about at the mid-point. Starting with some low-level actors and a couple dozen Russians, there have already been subpoenas, evidence of criminal activity, confessions and a few prison sentences. Enough evidence proving the digging must continue.

The most recent “crooks de jure” are Roger Stone and several of his sycophants. These hangers-on in the netherworld of the national Republican Party are really the dregs of the political “barrel.” If you look at their backgrounds – one low-level patronage job after another over the years – it’s not hard to see why they find themselves staring into the face of some jail time.

All of them – “without portfolio” – have accomplished or contributed nothing. But, they’ve made a good living trying to associate themselves with people in power. They’ve bragged about their “importance” and their “access” to political folks in high office. Stone, in particular, became a right-wing media “darling” with claims of being a “mover-and-shaker.” His bragging included Wikileaks connections, his links with Russians and his access to “halls of power” in Congress and the White House.

Now, with little evidence they ever accomplished anything of importance, Stone and company have talked – bragged – themselves into the criminal “stew” in the crucible of the Muller investigation. Their years of touting false claims of exaggerated importance may, finally, put them in little rooms where the sunshine is seen only through the bars.

The longer the Muller investigation goes, it appears we may have asked him to do something else – something even more important than just rooting out political criminal activity. “Other duties as assigned” as it were. We seem to have tasked him to clean up the mess – to “cleanse” the system of liars, cheats, double-dealers, self-servers, crooked politicians and the treachery in the White House.

If Muller’s report is published before January, it’ll likely hit the Speaker’s desk with a loud “thud” followed by silence. But, if it comes after that, there will certainly be impeachment action in that same House. Then, the next step would be in the Senate where a trial is required by law.

Would the Senate, where everything is controlled by Republicans, hold that trial? That’s far from certain. Odds at the moment, probably 50-50. Whether action would follow would most likely hinge on who’s identified by Mueller as guilty of wrongdoing, what that wrongdoing was, what damage has been done, what that damage consists of and whether there are a lot of “co-conspirator #1″ citations.

The Roger Stones of the world are just grist left on the mill floor. Their only use in what Muller is doing is to be rungs on the ladder to the next level of proven criminality.

There will be a report. A conclusion. A document of evidence detailing the cancer in our recent political history. It will go to Congress. But, it will also go to us. The affected. We must access it, read it carefully and thoroughly digest the details for ourselves.

Whether Congress will act is still an open question. But, as a society, we must act on the results. We cannot allow that document to be relegated to some musty shelf in the Library of Congress.

We did a little housecleaning in November. Muller’s work could prove a very useful voter’s guide for voters for years to come. And more cleaning.