Good news/bad news

Author: admin

Two major events in the news these days. One seems very good; the other very, very tragic. Let’s deal with the good first.

Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate. The national media’s treatment of that news has been largely about her ethnicity. No matter the real subject of reporting, the second paragraph – or sound bite – we’re constantly being reminded of her mixed race – Black and East Indian. And, “the historic importance” of same. Always got to get that in. Enough already. We get it.

Harris comes to the ticket with some interesting positives. And a couple of negatives. Plus side, whether as a former California Attorney General or as a first-term Senator, she’s proven herself a tough inquisitor, hard bargainer and a worthy opponent when she disagrees with someone or some thing. She backed Trump’s Attorney General (and personal lawyer) Barr into a verbal corner during a hearing on the Hill. And, she brought SCOTUS nominee Kavanagh to tears in his Senate confirmation hearing. At the moment, it’s Harris two, Trump nominees zero.

Yep, she’s a hard charger. And, apparently, a quick learner. Harris is completing her third year of her first term in the Senate. She’s sponsored – or co-sponsored – some interesting legislation. Most of it hasn’t gone anywhere because Mitch McConnell has filled several waste baskets with bills from Democrats. But, that hasn’t stopped her from trying.

Her background, we’re assured, is clean as that old whistle. My guess is she’s been vetted so closely the Biden team can tell you what she had for breakfast March 23, 1987. Trump’s team of political grave diggers can do their nasty work 24/7 and, in the end, they won’t know as much as Biden. Not his first rodeo.

On the downside, there’s that business of only in the middle of her first term in Congress. Most VP nominees come to the ticket with a lot more experience in world affairs, the military or similar fields. Possibly the most qualified VP pick, at least in recent history, was Bush the elder. His political bio had so many important entries it looked almost as if he couldn’t keep a job. Harris – not so much. But, as mentioned afore, she seems to learn quickly.

It’s often said the President’s main job is foreign affairs. As far as the whole Congress goes, no one has more expertise than Joe Biden. He’s on a first-name basis with leaders of the countries we have to re-establish relationships with. There’s also his many years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – many as chairman – going back to Frank Church days. Uncle Joe has the “chops.” Very long “chops” to undertake that important task.

While Harris lacks lengthy congressional experience, there are those three-years on the Hill. She’s gotten to know the ins-and-outs, who the staff players are, who can move legislation and who can get jobs done even without prominent titles.

So, Biden may figure, he’ll take on the immediately necessary work of re-establishing relationships and assuring other nations of our intent to honor our treaties and other obligations. Harris can deal with Congress to rebuild the vital trust and working arrangements as necessary between that Constitutional body and the White House.

If that’s the case, we could be looking at a President-Vice President team with the possibility of being as cohesive and effective as Obama-Biden. Just could be.

Now, that aforementioned tragic event: forcing schools to reopen.

From local school boards to Trump, politicians can jump up and down and shout from the rooftops that schools MUST reopen “for the good of the children.” Pure B.S.! In nearly all cases, school reopening this year will be done on a political basis and not sound public health policy. Period!

We already know, from the few schools operating, teachers and kids are being infected. In Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and elsewhere, it’s been bad enough some schools have been shuttered.

Why is it so damned hard to deal with this? Why is it so difficult to understand the basic facts so apparent with coronavirus?

Many professional athletes are sitting out the season in several sports. Why? The billion-dollar “non-profit” teams all have the power to acquire unlimited health protections and the best medical staffs money can buy. Whatever the cost. But, many players aren’t going to play. Why? COVID-19, that’s why!

Yet, we’re going to put 25-30 kids in classrooms, give ‘em all face masks and expect things will be all hunky-dory? You kiddin’ me? You ever see what kids can do with a face mask – other than wearing it? Who’s going to disinfect each classroom before another gang of students moves in? Restrooms? Playground equipment? Hallways? Lockers? Gyms?

Politics first. Safety – and protection of our children – a distant second.

My wife is a retired educator with several degrees and 40 years of classroom, staff and supervisory experience. Hash marks up to here. Top qualifications. And she wouldn’t set foot in an elementary or secondary building today. She calls ‘em “breeding grounds” for the pandemic. “Breeding grounds.”

Online classes also have one major -and possibly fatal – problem. Many kids don’t have computers. And, if they did, some don’t have I-net access. They can’t do the school work that’s so heavily dependent on technology these days.

Maybe I’m just one old tree in the forest. But, given the knowledge we have of the ability of COVID-19 to cause massive sickness and death – even under the best conditions – it just could be we need to keep schools closed at least to the end of the year. Give educational pros the chance to compact a year’s school work into five months or so and reopen under a safer school environment- if pandemic conditions change.

If things don’t get better by January, skip it. If athletes being paid millions can – for safety’s sake – forego a year’s salary, maybe the lives of our children, worth at least that much, can take a year off.

The real problem for putting kids back in school isn’t so much what we know of COVID-19 as it is what we DON’T know. With five-million infected – and the 165-thousand or so Americans who’ve died – we have little hard evidence of all the ways this disease is transmitted or how each person picked it up. Without that knowledge and knowing the dangers inherent for kids, you really want to put your child into a classroom that’s more “Petrie dish” than a place of learning?

My congratulations to Sen. Harris. My condolences to parents who may gamble with their kids lives. And lose.
 

GOP law and (dis)order

Author: admin

What is it with Republicans?

Why are so many who’ve made it into public office – one way or another -being convicted, going to jail, being sued for something, resigning or otherwise being chased out of office?

Now, before someone gets all lathered up and accuse me of overlooking some Democrat miscreants, there’ve been some. Quite some time ago, if memory is correct. Yes, there were a few.

But, in the last several years, it seems the GOP has had a corner on the “crooked politician market.” They’re all over the place.

We’ve got three here in the desert. One of our public “servants,” Rep. David Schweikert After several terms, he’s been officially convicted and sentenced in the House. Paid a $50,000 fine. And it’s not over yet. Covering the period 2010-2018, you can count undisclosed – and illegal – loans, misuse of campaign funds, improper spending of congressional office expense funds and using office staff to do political campaign work. Ol’ Dave’s looking at possibly some years in a crossbar hotel.

Public “servant” number two is our own very junior – and temporary – Arizona “Senator” previously rejected by voters in 2018 as she sought a U.S. Senate seat, GOPer Martha McSally. In her legislative days, there was a big kerfuffle over illegal campaign violations. BIG! Got all fixed up though, with some majority party legislative slight-of-hand before our Trump-wannabe governor sent her back to Washington for a few months in office. If the polls are right, she’ll be home soon.

Then there’s Arizona’s own Joe Arpaio – “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” A Republican. Voters tossed him out in 2016 after being twice convicted – twice – of contempt of federal court orders to stop racial profiling when making arrests. He “flipped the bird” to the court and kept doing “business as usual.” For him. Ordered to jail. For unknown ”reasons,” Trump pardoned him, though he’s still a convicted felon. Two times. Now, Arpaio.s been running for sheriff. Again. His campaign signs said “Re-elect Sheriff Arpaio.” He hasn’t been sheriff around here for years. “Re-elect?” But, being a two-time convicted felon – pardon or not – he nearly won his primary last week. The real “winner” was Jerry Sheridan – by six-thousand votes. Sheridan was Arpaio’s Chief Deputy for years and was also charged with Arpaio. What do we do now?

Ah, we h ave GOP Rep. Steve Watson in Kansas. Three felony charges and a misdemeanor. The felonies include interference with a law enforcement officer, providing false information, voting while unqualified, unlawful advance voting. Lost his primary. Now what? Probably a trial. In Kansas

Also in the news, there’s Republican Larry Householder in the Ohio legislature. Oh, more than that, Larry is Speaker of the House. He’s been nailed on charges of racketeering. And some other, lesser crimes.

During the Trump years, at least three members of the U.S. House have been forced into “retirement” and the private job market for various bad deeds. One that comes quickly to mind is Duncan Hunter, former GOP Rep from California. He’s still in jail, serving out his 11 month conviction for campaign finance fraud. Another Republican “law and/or order” fella.

In Idaho, John Bujak is cooling his heels in the slammer. Stealing from family members this time. Misappropriation by use of false identity. Republican Bujack, former candidate for governor and former Canyon County Prosecutor, stood trial five times on other felony charges from 2012 to 2014. Also pleaded guilty to contempt of court.

What the hell has happened to the GOP?

Oh, I nearly forgot. Trump. And Mike Flynn. And Paul Manafort. And Michael Cowen. And several other “Republicans” from Trump’s White House gang and a few more on his campaign committee and several hires for the skimpy inaugural.

And Trump himself. Though he hasn’t said it out loud, he’s grasping at every “club in the bag” because of just one thing. Because he knows, once he becomes “private citizen” Trump, he’s going to get hit from state and federal prosecutors and a few defense attorneys with multiple charges of a dozen or so crimes. Some
offices have already hinted what’s coming! You’ll need a traffic cop to keep order by February, 2021.

Taxes? Yep. By the time Trump gets back to his Tower in January there’ll be Manhattan District Attorney Vance who already has Donald’s banking records if not the actual tax returns. Several suits are currently pending seeking those same documents – government, corporate and private. Someone else will get ‘em.

Next, the New York Attorney General – the one threatening continued existence of the NRA – who’s hinted she has a large box of documents labeled “TRUMP.” She, too, seems to be awaiting someone’s return to private citizen status.

Also, some leaked clues from the prosecutors of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the Eastern District. Also the Northern District of Virginia and the DC prosecutor, too.

And don’t forget Rep’s. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and some other committee heads who have their own legal documents and queries. And, those 23 women who’ve filed sexual assault charges awaiting private citizen Trump.

If the U.S. Senate flips in November, you’ll likely see some new hearings, some new investigations, some new indictments. Tain’t over.

Again, yes, there have been some Democrat crooks. Some convictions and some jail terms. But, given the evidence above, Republicans have come screaming back to recapture the national “Political Crook of the Year” crown.

We’re going to have a chance in a few weeks to do some House – and Senate – cleansing. White House, too. Given the current number of Republicans charged, under indictment, convicted and/or jailed, the “broom” will have to be very large. Very. It’ll take a lot of “hands’ on the handle to be effective.

Got your gloves? Better still, got your big black or blue ink pen?

Explosive times

Author: admin

With my coffee in the morning, I browse half a dozen newspapers on the old I-net plus half a dozen news sites found only online. Sip a little. Read a little. Sip a little more. Read a little more.

Then P-O-W! One headline stopped me cold. Never seen one like it. It read “Group Prepares for Chance Trump Refuses to Concede Election.”

Two teams of scholars, politicians, retired military and an assortment of others have been meeting – secretly – inventing and playing various scenarios the nation might face if Trump loses the November presidential election and won’t relinquish the White House.

Think about the headline and the above paragraph. Just quietly think about those words – what they mean – what they really mean. People accomplished in varying fields have been gaming what course of action other powers in our nation – unelected powers – should be called on if an American president won’t relinquish the office after losing an election.

The idea that such goings-on have been “going on” in our country is truly mind-blowing. That smart, well-educated, some militarily-trained minds would consider it necessary to participate in such protracted exercises is damned near un-American!

The idea that such goings-on have been “going on” in our country is truly mind-blowing. That smart, well-educated, militarily-trained minds would consider it necessary to participate in such protracted exercises is damned near un-American!

What the Hell is going on? Have we become a “banana republic?” Are we living under a dictatorship – much as Trump wishes so? Is the powerful verdict of our voting franchise – the most valuable prize of citizenship – in danger of being brushed aside?

Then, as I calmed down to ponder, I continued looking at the computer screen. And I was thunder-struck again? P-O-W! Again!

Here’s what I read on just one page, one news site on one day.

“Trump’s election tweet shows a frightened narcissist afraid of losing.”

The people who must stop Trump’s assault on voting.”

“Trump’s trashing democracy ripples beyond America.”

“Trump’s a narcissist afraid of losing.”

“Obama warns Trump’s actions threaten democracy.”

“Trump’s own intelligence officers contradict his repeated claims of mail-in voter fraud”

“USPS workers warn of new Trump policies (that will) affect voting by mail.”

One news site – one day. Just one.

Out of curiosity, I back-checked a month of reporting – and resultant headlines – on the same subject. On the same site. I found 97 mostly negative headlines about Trump, most sounding just like these examples. On just one news site. Not including a single headline from dozens of others.

Such is the state of our presidency at this moment. Such is the state of our politics at this moment. Such is the deep concern of former military leaders, scholars and a handful of politicians – that we could be facing anarchy.

The election is 93 days from today. Inauguration day – the day to transfer the mantle of the presidency is 79 days after that. A total of 172 days away. A little less than six months.

What sorts of headlines will be produced in those 172 days about our nation’s politics? About Trump? About barriers to our voting process?

One could also seriously ask, “What kind(s) of violence on our national political scene will develop?” Because, there are hints of an expansion of the violence already in our streets.

Casting a huge, black pall over all this is the pandemic – COVID-19. Because of Trump’s inaction when warned the coronavirus was coming – because of his ongoing interference as cases and deaths mount – and because he’s now seemingly turned his back on current COVID-related events – he’s firmly tied together the pandemic and politics. Or, in his mind, politics first and pandemic second.

There’s only one political body that can check/stop Trump. The U.S. Senate. More accurately, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. But, because they hold a single digit majority – because they’ve spent the last three years refusing to respond to his outrageous and impeached behavior – because they’ve acted as a rubber stamp for Trump – he’s had free reign to rip and tear at the foundations of our national political and economic societies.

Now, hours later, I’ve re-read – and re-read – the facts of the “secret,” high-level scenario activity. Looked more deeply at both the reasoning for the assemblage and the qualifications of the “players.” And looked at some of the work they’ve done. The current president’s behavior has been continual lying and disloyalty to the oath he took over three years ago, so much so it was deemed necessary by these exceptional Americans to convene. It’s still a shock to hear about plans of action being made in case our current president is the first in history to disregard the will of the people and transfer power to his legitimately elected replacement.

I wrote several months ago about the possibility of Trump becoming a squatter in the White House if he loses the election. I wrote about the subject but offered no solution because the constitutional issues involved – not to mention the physical security affects – were far beyond my ken. What the hell would happen? Who would do what? When?

I have no idea if that scholarly group has devised a concrete plan of action, what that action would be and who would conduct the details in the event in such an explosive situation.

Just the fact that some highly qualified folks have found it necessary to “war game” such a topic is surprising. Then I looked back on those headlines. From one source. On one day. And the other negative – but factual – reporting found on that same site. In 30 days.

A former president unwilling to step back in the face of an elective loss. That’s damned frightening, my friends.

What the hell has happened to us?

Time bomb – ticking

Author: admin

No, it’s not the sinking numbers in presidential polling. Nor is it the next “insider” book from someone’s former White House days. And, it’s not Trump’s probable loss at the polls in November.

No, none of those. The ticking you hear is coming from the jail cell wherein resides one Ghislane Maxwell. Alleged procurer of teenage girls for the late Jeffrey Epstein. Friend of Donald Trump, a fellow that “wishes her well” in her upcoming trial on charges of twice lying to grand juries a few years ago, sex trafficking of children and enticement of minors. A friend.

Ms. Maxwell and the late Jeffery go back a long way. And, according to many published photos, she, he and DJT also have a years-long relationship. There are even a few pics that include Melania. Just one happy foursome of old “friends.”

Maxwell is the only person – or group of persons – to get well-wishes from Trump. Not storm-bashed Puerto Ricans. Not some Gold Star family or even thousands of Gold Star families. Not surviving relatives of the dead and dying because of our COVID-19 pandemic. Not even the thousands of doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are laboring – and dying – on the front lines of the Coronavirus catastrophe.

No, our president, while acknowledging he knows Ms. Maxwell, has saved his “well-wishes” just for her. Ghislane. A suspected accomplice in rounding up teenage girls for sexual abuse and rape who are then discarded with a hundred dollar bill and, sometimes, even a “thank you.”

Given all that background, all that tragic despoiling of innocent youth, the suicide (maybe) of Epstein in his jail cell, why would Trump look into the TV cameras and well-wish someone he knows – and someone who is charged with such heinous crimes? Why would he do that? To her alone? In nearly four years.

Ah, therein lies the evidence of what I call the “time bomb.”

As she sits in her cell, Ghislane has got to be thinking of ways to reduce what could be a jail term longer than her normal life expectancy. She’s got to be looking at the blue sky through the crossbars on her cell window and wondering just what her options are and how she might lessen the number of years of that same view.

“Aha,” she thinks. “I know people. Important people. I’ve even got pictures and (possibly) some videos from the Epstein mansion and elsewhere. I’ve got contemporary accounts. I may just have some bargaining chips.”

While those are my speculative words, I’d bet the farm they come pretty close to her thoughts. Because, aside from the Trump family, she knows who, where, how many times, with whom, with how many teenage “whoms” and how the enticement schemes worked. She knows the users. And the used.

Trump and Epstein go back a long way. There are published pictures from the ‘80’s. Even one of Trump holding Epstein in a bear hug and kissing the side of his head. There are videos of the three – Epstein, DJT and Ghislane at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere. There’s just too much public evidence of the relationship. Whatever it was. And she knows it. And HE knows it!

Bargaining down her likely long hoosegow penalty is not uncommon. Especially when the unmentionables could help her by becoming mentionable and result in her more quickly becoming a free person again .

It’s hard not to believe she’s talking to prosecutors about a “deal.” And that’s got to be weighing heavily on DJT’s mind.

In six months, he’s going to be a past-president. A civilian again. Unless he, too, decides to bargain with say, the Justice Department – under Bill Barr’s successor – or the folks from the Department’s Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of New York or the Northern District of Virginia or the New York Attorney General or the Manhattan DA, he could be looking at time in somebody’s crossbar hotel. All those entities are believed to have some actionable files relating to #45, the Kushner’s, Rudy, Stone and others in the misbegotten world of Trump. And don’t forget the taxes. Ah, the tax filings. No more “under audit” excuses.

Then, of course, there are those 23 pesky women who’ve filed charges of sex abuse and other crimes. While the statute of limitations probably has reduced the number of active cases, we know some still linger. He knows that, too.

But, then there’s Ms. Maxwell. Ghislane. Wasting away in a Manhattan jail cell. What if she makes her own deal? First.

If I were in her place – in that cell – I’d try for a deal in (please forgive me) a New York minute! She’s got the goods. She knows the players and the played. She’s got pictures, records, probably some contemporary notes. I’d bet she’s got enough of something to get someone’s attention before her upcoming trial.

And that, Virginia, is a time bomb. A ticking time bomb. In the White House master bedroom at, oh say, two or three in the early morning, a ticking that can wake the dead.

Just saying. . . . . . . . . .

Worn down

Author: admin

I think I’ve hit the wall.

After 84 years – more than half in the news business – I’m having a hard time starting the day with a cup of coffee and the morning news. It’s getting almost unbearable.

Day-after-day-after-day-after-day, the headlines bash the brain with bad news, bad news and still more bad news. Trump’s lying outbursts, White House staff trying to justify them, Republicans in Congress committing what appears to be eventual political suicide in their submissions to anything Trump, the outrageous actions of various federal departments undercutting decades of sound regulatory policies, Trump’s SS squad kidnapping peaceful protesters and others off the streets of Portland and anything screaming COVID-19! Especially COVID-19!

As a nation, we’ve never been here before. We’ve been mentally battered with a torrent of destruction of our federal agencies for nearly four years. Now, a pandemic of sickness and death. The hellish likeness of our “president” appears in or around most of it.

In an interview the other evening, Dr. Mary Trump, the psychologist- author-niece of our “leader,” said another four years of her uncle in the White House “would mean the end of democracy as we know it.” Blunt? Yes. True? Given the colossal evidence we know, I’d say yes.

For some 250 years, our national psyche has, so far, been too tough to crack. This nation has been hit by just about every catastrophe imaginable and survived – or somehow overcame – all of it. The will of the people to take on wars, political upheavals, cataclysmic acts of nature, pandemic horrors and tyrannies of all sorts has been successful every time.

But, now we’re being hit with two terrible and nationally dangerous disasters at once. It’s going to take all the strength-of-will we can muster to survive both: what appear to be Trump’s actions during his last days in office and the pandemic.

Dr. Trump – the niece – says her uncle can’t be trusted in anything and will do whatever it takes to stay in office. Those words, coming from someone else, could be written off as speculation. But, from a trained psychologist who grew up in the family and who has interacted with her uncle for more than 40 years, there is an authenticity based both on family experiences and as one who has an extensive medical background.

Several recent events seem to prove her right. Our erstwhile commander-in-chief has seemingly turned his back on the ravages we face resulting from the out-of-control pandemic. No significant talk coming out of the White House, no development of a national “plan of action,” cutting off vital information about continuing infections and deaths, refusing to even meet with Dr. Fauci and most other CDC officials, no emergency orders to help the states. Pretty good indicators of a man trying to consolidate power.

The federal intervention and abusive tactics on the streets of Portland can also be linked directly to Trump and his “do anything” efforts to stay out of jail. Watch for new TV, print and online ads aimed at his base touting his tough “law and order” response to “rioters,” “vandals” and “left wing agitators.” “Keeping our streets safe at any cost.” It’s theater -raw meat – for his base.

Oregon’s political leadership demanding investigations won’t result in anything meaningful. No matter which federal department does the “investigating” the results would have to go to the Department of (what used to be) Justice where the matter would never see the light of day.

It would be interesting to see Governor Brown activate the Oregon National Guard to protect the heretofore peaceful demonstrations. Imagine the picture of armed guardsmen standing between the protestors and Trump’s SS troops. He wouldn’t want his “base” to see that.

And the pandemic. His lack of action when informed of what was coming, his repeated efforts to downplay the sweeping coronavirus killer, offering no federal support for states and overrun hospitals, secreting all agency statistics healthcare institutions and the public need in the fight, turning his back on the swelling numbers of sickness and death, cancelling televised updates from government agencies, banning top CDC folks from testifying before Congress. Then, there’s his failed presidential Coronavirus “task farce.”

None of that makes much sense until viewed through the lens of someone trying desperately to hang onto power. To be re-elected rather than going to the “crossbar hotel.”

In the years, before his presidency, while operating as a “businessman,” when debtors clamored to get paid, when various ventures failed or proved to be financially lost, when bank loans totaling hundreds of millions of dollars came due, “businessman” Trump walked away from all of it and took out bankruptcy over and over again. Just walked away and started something else.

He’s doing that now, walking away from this terrible killer of a pandemic. He’s ignoring it, turning his public appearances into attacks on Joe Biden, “press conferences” where reporters are stunned by his almost incoherent gibberish, flying around the country and packing his supporters into unhealthy rallies in the face of COVID-19 spreading. He’s above it all. Acting “presidential.”

And the pandemic itself. Few alive today have experienced what we’re living with and no end in sight. Largely, because of Trump’s deliberate inaction when first briefed on the terrible consequences faced by other countries, we’re approaching 150-thousand dead and, eventually, millions more who’ll likely have virus-related health problems the rest of their lives.

How many wouldn’t have become infected – how many more wouldn’t have died – if our failed businessman-president had listened. Just listened, then taken actions to prepare all of us based on the advice of some of the world’s top health professionals?

He didn’t listen. He didn’t act. Thousands have died. More to come.

Ask yourself. What’s going on in Afghanistan? Russian bounties on American soldiers? How many of our military are being killed in Iran? And elsewhere? What’s happening in the Far East? Do you know about the impending layoffs of thousands and thousands of people in the airline industry after those companies took billions of your tax dollars? Cruise lines, too. Have you been told how many countries Americans can’t travel to or how many states have closed their borders to travelers from other states? How much information on hundreds of other issues are you getting?

Trump. And the pandemic. That’s what we hear. The rest has been pushed aside.

If Dr. Trump is correct – and I’ll bet she’ll be proven so – the next 140 days will be filled with even more bad news. Expect more vocal attacks on our government by our own president and thousands more American deaths caused by COVID-19. And that same president.

Hit the wall? Maybe. Maybe not. But, my back feels like it’s being pushed against something very sturdy.

Damn it’s hot

Author: admin

When you’ve had enough of the disaster that is Donald J. Trump – when you’re overwhelmed by the pandemic that is COVID-19 – when you’re maxed out with Wolf Blitzer – well, it’s time to take a mental break. That’s where I am today.

So, let’s consider some diversions more peaceful.

Walked the dog this morning. About 8:30. Temperature on the back porch was 95-degrees. By 9:30, it was 100. Going for 117 in the PM, we’re told by the experts. That’s the warmup for Arizona summers. Just the warmup. More – and higher – ahead.

When the temps here officially hit 118, Sky Harbor International – our local airport and fourth largest in the country – planes can’t fly. FAA says so. Everything stops. Also, physics. At 118-degrees, large planes can’t carry large, profitable loads because they can’t get enough lift under the wings.

By this time of year, EPCOR – our local water company – shuts off the cold water lines. All new home owners are told that when they find tap water is as warm as that in a swimming pool. Day-after-day of high temps heats the soil down several feet. Where water lines are. Everyone keeps lots of bottled water in the frige. Many businesses, too. Free. First question you’re asked at a car dealer or some other place is “Would you like some water?” Gotta keep hydrated.

Our community, known nationally for our many golf courses, starts Summer play at 5:30am or so. Gotta get in that 18 holes by nine. Once in awhile, you’ll see some hackers out there at two or three in the afternoon when the temps are 110-112. Crazy as duck hunters.

After you’ve been here a year or two, you either acclimate or sell out and move back home. For those of us who stick it out, we get used to it. Mostly. With ubiquitous face masks, you go from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned store-theater-rec center-ice rink, back to air conditioned car to air conditioned home.

There are other oddities here. For example, all our well-paved streets have rolled curbs and are wider than most communities. Our 55+ haven has a five-mile “main drag” that’s six lanes wide with a well-kept median filled with small trees, flowering plants and cactus of various varieties. And a speed limit of 35-mph.

Yes, Virginia, 35. Know why? Golf carts.

A lot of us here have a golf cart. Now, I’m not a golfer. But, that makes no difference. Because, while these little vehicles may look like your normal golf cart, all of ‘em have been “souped up.” Whether electric or gas, they top out at – wait for it – 35-mph. Same as the speed limit on our “main drag.” That’s why that beautiful, six-lane highway – where speeds should be in the 50’s – will always have a speed limit of 35.

We call these carts “neighborhood cars.” You see ‘em everywhere! They’ve got seatbelts, wide-view mirrors, turn signals and headlights. Some have been modified to look like ‘57 Chevies or ‘56 Caddies. Some have a back seat for two more riders. Some have little pickup beds. Some have “fringe on top” or small solar panels. And, a few have air conditioners overhead!

But, no matter what they look like, they’re very handy for local trips, shopping, visiting friends, going to church or just getting out of the house in these times. Many stores have “golf car only” parking up front.

Speaking of parking, on a doctor’s order, Arizona issues handicap license plates, as most states do, so those with physical problems don’t have to walk so far in parking lots. But, here, they sometimes don’t provide that little extra help. That’s because, when you live in a 55+ community, lots of other folks have those special plates, too. So, there can be gray-haired kerfuffles for a parking spot at the store. For a golf cart!

“Snowbirds” are gone now. Back to Wisconsin, North Dakota or Canada. Their homes here – often costing half-a-million or more – sit empty as things heat up. You know those orange “Homer” buckets you see at Home Depot? Neighbor of ours leaves 48 of those in his vacant home each summer. 48! Filled with water. It’s to keep moisture in every room, in the dry, desert heat, with his thermostat set at 90-degrees for the air conditioner. Weird, but true.

Most homes here are one-story with an attic. My air conditioner tech told me it can get to 250-290-degrees up there when the outside temperatures reach into the hundreds. Rafters become very dry and can twist which makes for an expensive re-roofing job.

Lots of things here are very different from our beloved Pacific Northwest. We’re still not used to seeing coyotes, havalinas, bobcats, desert snakes and other wandering wildlife in our graveled backyard. Sometimes cross paths with a coyote when walking the dog. They usually look at you, then wander off.

Yep, desert living is a whole new experience. But, hopped-up golf carts, coyote sightings, dealing with 100+degree temps, listening to daily ambulance sirens on our six-lane golf cart path, seeing tattooed women in their 80’s and 90’s at the store, surrounded by vacant homes half the year – all that and more in our unincorporated Dell Webb asylum for seniors – can take your mind off Donald J. Trump, COVID-19. And, yes, even Wolf Blitzer.

But, you gotta stay inside May to September. ‘Cause, damn, it’s hot out there!
 

Baby and bath water

Author: admin

“Baby and the bath water” is an old saw. But, it keeps running in my head these days as we’re watching some of our history being swept away in a wave of political correctness.

I’ve never been a big fan of “political correctness.” Sort of felt it’s too – uh – correct. Still do.

We’re currently witnessing the demolishing of statues, renaming prominent buildings, removing public art and “correcting” almost anything tied to the confederacy that existed in this nation in the mid-1800’s. And after.

Even Teddy Roosevelt has been threatened. Yes, Teddy! There’s a statue in Boston with Teddy on his horse and an Indian on one side and a Black man on the other. Both standing. The raucous outcry to end ol’ Teddy’s days on public display is because he’s “higher” than the other two depicted and that makes some of the P-Cer’s unhappy. They say the difference makes the two other figures “lesser.”

Well, la de dah. Of course, Teddy’s “higher.” He’s sitting atop a horse, idiots! The sculptor, to anyone’s knowledge, wasn’t making a “racial statement” when carving in the 1930’s. Still the voices of rancor want the whole shebang torn down. Now!

Woodrow Wilson’s name is being sandblasted off an old building on the Yale campus. Seems he was a “bad guy,” too. Yes, he said and wrote some things that could be considered racist. And anti-Semitic. But, his words, however they appeared, were nearly 90 years ago. His worth – whatever history deems that to be – will likely be based on what he did – or didn’t do – as President of these United States.

We’ve even been told some voices want the artwork on Stone Mountain in Georgia blasted to bits. If you’ve ever seen Stone Mountain, its not something you’d likely want to see reduced to pebbles.

I understand – about as much as a Caucasian man can – the feelings of some Black Americans when referring to various public objects with depictions of the years of the Civil War. Anger being the most universal, we’re told. I understand.

But, what comes next? Do we pillage libraries everywhere by removing texts telling of slavery – or the war – or the Confederacy? Do we stop teachers in our public schools from teaching students about that terrible time of a divided nation – of the destruction and death – the terrible toll when Americans were killing Americans? And Black Wall Street and Red Summer?

Can’t some standard be set by somebody before junking public art depicting the people, the events, the history of our nation at that time? Do we have to destroy it all in the name of “political correctness?” There must be some other way.

Bad as the Civil War memories are for some, I have my own memories of another time when our nation was in danger and those in power made a terrible decision.

I was six-years-old, in early 1942, when sheriff’s deputies raided my first grade classroom and literally carried out some of my classmates – my friends – because they were from Japanese-American families. I can’t forget the screaming voices. They, and their parents, were hauled off to isolated camps in the Western U.S.. Mostly barren places with tar paper dormitories surrounded with barbed wire and armed guards.

It was a national tragedy – a national shame – authorized by Franklin Roosevelt at the urging of other politicians. One of the loudest and most persistent voices belonged to Senator William Borah of Idaho.

So, what happened to those camps of shame? After the war and after the release of those families, did we destroy them? Did we try to cover up our national disgrace by obliterating any trace?

No, we didn’t. Some of those terrible places were reconstructed. They’ve become monuments to constantly remind us of the wrongs committed. Like slavery. To the tragedy we allowed simply because the lives uprooted were those of a people who didn’t look like the rest of us. With different skin color. Like slavery.

I used to occasionally travel past one of those WWII camps near Minidoka, Idaho. Everytime – every time – I remembered those first grade kids – the big, armed deputies – the screams. Mostly the screams. I now live 15-hundred miles away but, even as I write these words, I can see Jimmy Yamamoto twisting and screaming as he was picked up out of his little seat.

We made those memorials to remind an entire nation to not forget the misplaced racism. Yes, racism. That’s what it was. Pure and simple. The “cover story” we were told was that some of “those people” might be”secret agents”of Japan. Our bloodthirsty enemy on the battlefields of the Pacific. But, at it’s core, it was racism. A different color skin.

Germany also decided to remember that nation’s shame – and racism – by making monuments out of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Dachau and others. Some were rebuilt as they were during the mass killings. They, like the American camps, stand as constant reminders of shame.

For those hell-bent on removing all the public reminders of Civil War racism and slavery, there are other ways of looking at those times – those tragic times. And those pieces of rock and stone and granite.

“Baby and bath water.” Be careful.

Rally? Really? Nope.

Author: admin

We, in the desert Southwest, can sleep better now that the Trump road show has come and gone.

The “Students For Trump” activities are over. Discarded Trump signs littered the parking lot of the church where his latest edition of hate speech, racist pronouncements and selected lies occurred. The line of Secret Service Suburbans is only a memory.

Media talking heads kept calling it a “rally.” It wasn’t. Trump’s appearance was the closing act of a multi-day program for far-right teens. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was on the program earlier in the day. Some local Arizona Republican pols also participated.

The teens, all clean cut and mostly maskless when together – theater style – were being prepped to be future Limbaugh-Beck listeners as they endured session after session of far-right hucksterism. Trump’s appearance was called the “high point” by local media.

I don’t know what the selection process was for these kids. But, looking at them, seated shoulder-to-shoulder in the “sanctuary,” they must have had to fit some sort of rigid physical requirements. All of ‘em – all – looked like models on “All-American Teen” posters. Nearly all white. Nearly all maskless.

Trump carried on for about 90 minutes. Maskless, of course. It sounded a lot like his failed Tulsa appearance which was, actually, a rally. A failed rally at best but, still, a rally.

He rolled out his, by now, standard pitches. Lots of outright lies like “Obama committed treason” which he didn’t define. Just sort of left it hanging there. He claimed the COVID-19 pandemic was winding down and would soon be gone. Saying that here, in one of the “hot spot” states.

He proudly touted having appointed conservative judges to the federal court system and argued he should be re-elected so he could appoint even more. He called the upcoming national elections “the most corrupt in the history of this country.” Though proven popular with Arizonans and voters in other states, he lambasted mail-in voting, saying people should go to the polls as they have done historically and he demanded some sort of uniform identification before anyone could cast a ballot.

He claimed a “left-wing crowd is trying to abolish our heritage because they hate our history, they hate our values and they hate everything we prize as Americans because our country didn’t grow great with them.”

True to form, he fell back on his racist nomenclature for Coronavirus, calling it “Kung flu” several times, raising his voice as if to punctuate each word. The kids cheered. Loudly.

Several curiosities linger in the afterglow. For one, this was Trump’s third visit to our desert mecca in five months. Why? And, why come to appear before a crowd of just three-thousand teens.

And timing. He also came during the height of a COVID crisis with Arizona reporting jumps of four to five-thousand cases each 24-hours. Day after day. Hospitals are full and some patients are being sent out-of-state.

There’s a very good chance the state can flip a senate seat, replacing Martha McSally – an appointed place-holder who lost to a Democrat in 2018. Democrat and former Astronaut Mark Kelly is well-funded, knows the issues, is good on his feet and even admired by many Republicans. McSally has trailed Kelly in eight out of the last nine polls taken and is putting up some really scurrilous attack ads.

Seems it would take more than a Trump appearance at a conservative summer program for 3,000 teens to help McSally.

The location of his road show also raises an issue. How does a church – a tax-exempt church – get away with a multi-day political indoctrination session, highlighted by the President and other politicians campaigning in the sanctuary, and not risk said exemption? I’ve heard of preachers telling parishioners which guy to vote for. But, this political indoctrination session went way beyond that. For tax purposes?

No, Virginia. This was not a rally. We average folk couldn’t attend. It was just for the kids. Few, in the sanctuary, were old enough to vote. As with most teens, when released from the camp back into the real teen world, their short-term attention spans will be diverted to other priorities. They’ll remember Trump. But, likely, little else.

Air Force One is gone. For now. So, too, the national media and their equipment. It’s back to 110-114 degree temperatures in our Summer desert days. The dust created by visiting political types has settled. Life – with spiking coronavirus numbers – goes on

Rally? Really? Nope.

Rally? Really?

Author: admin

Donald Trump campaigns tomorrow in our Arizona desert oasis.

I’ve no idea what the turnout will be. But, this I do know. In a county of some 4-million souls, his appearance will be at a church that seats only about three–thousand. No “spillover” site. Just this one auditorium/sanctuary. Far cry from a 19-thousand seat arena in Tulsa. It’s also forecast to be 110 degrees.

A side note. Church staff had no idea Trump was coming. Rental was to a group of kids for an all-day event. Trump shows up mid-afternoon

The Tulsa “campaign kickoff” rally attracted about 62-hundred folk, according to the Tulsa Fire Department. Subtract a large media presence, arena staff, security and the chartered plane load of folks from D.C. the campaign sponsored and the number drops into something above 5-thousand. Far cry from “millions” expected.

The whole farcical “rally” was a failure on every count. Even Trump can’t spin it as a success in any way. I’d expect some staff firings this week. The proffered excuses blaming the media and an imaginary crowd of protesters blocking arena entrances haven’t withstood the light of day. Yes, there were about 200 protesters near the arena but they in no way even interacted with the Trumpers until after the “show.” Even then, there was little contact.

The words were largely the same that we’re used to. But, there seemed to be a different tone. Maybe it had to do with his obvious anger over the disappointing turnout. Maybe it was the empty seats he had to see each time he looked up. There was just none of the usual vocal thrust of previous times.

Many political pros who follow Trump on a daily basis are beginning to talk among themselves about his health – especially his mental health. The man has to be feeling enormous pressures the presidency itself exerts on anyone who’s held that office. In Trump’s case, those pressures may not feel as heavy because of his abysmal ignorance of history, foreign affairs, diplomacy and nearly every other aspect of the job. He doesn’t listen. He doesn’t learn.

But, there has to be an additional load coming from more than three dozen legal actions in which he’s named as the defendant. There are other cases in the legal stream yet to be prosecuted. The attorney general of New York, the office of the Prosecutor of the Southern District of New York, the similar office in Northern Virginia and others are investigating Trump and his fellow-travelers on several fronts.

Don’t forget the women who’ve accused him of various crimes, some of whom have court actions pending. I suspect, after he leaves office, “Citizen Trump” will have to face some of his accusers. Several times.

Trump has to be feeling pressures on many fronts. He’s acting and campaigning like someone who realizes, if he doesn’t win, he may wind up in jail. He’s beginning to sound, to me, a bit like Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.” (“I knew there were strawberries.”)

Something else seemed to be apparent in his Saturday “performance.” Trump threw stinging – and false – charges about Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Democrats in general. Guttural words. The tone was harsh and delivered as angry threats. As in other appearances recently, Trump is showing he will say anything, do anything, ignore facts by making up false accusations about Biden or anyone else he sees as dangerous or threatening to his re-election. Anything.

The Saturday disaster also showed something surprising. The kids. The young people. Others who turned technology against the campaign pro’s. Their use of the I-net to create the appearance of widespread national interest by fomenting chaos with false ticket sales that led Trump and his minions to believe they were creating a truly historic even in Tulsa. They got suckered by a complete scam.

What those kids really did was send a message that they’re watching Trump and his campaign, they’re technology savvy and they’re going to be a factor henceforth. I’ve no idea how many of the scammers are old enough to vote. But, they’re paying enough attention to what’s happening politically to be a force to be reckoned no matter their age.

Trump’s on the ropes right now. He’s losing in court. He’s losing in polls. Saturday’s Tulsa disappointing turnout may – just may – indicate even his base is crumbling a bit. Some of the 30-million or so that were important to him in 2016 may be falling away. One rally, one time, doesn’t prove much. But, I’d have to think his campaign pros are going to do some serious internal polling and try to create something to shore up whatever support they can.

Yep, Tulsa didn’t work out well. I’ll let you know about Arizona.
 

Cops

Author: admin

Someone, somewhere has been the spark for one of the dumbest, most dangerous ideas around. Dumb because it’s wrong-headed and diverts attention from the core message of “Black Lives Matter.” Dangerous for the type of society it would create.

“Defund the police.” Do you mean “Abolish the police?”

That’s it. Just three words. But, it’s become one of the rallying cries from crowds in the streets. From coast-to-coast. “Defund the police.”

Yes, I know about “police brutality.” I know from first-hand experience. I know about police raids gone wrong when an innocent person is injured or killed. And, I know about statistics showing the disparity between how black and white Americans are treated during interactions with the police. And, yes, there are bad cops.

Many, many years ago, I was the reporter assigned to the law enforcement beat at a TV/Radio outfit in Boise. And in Omaha. Yes, Virginia, there really was a time when reporters didn’t just sit around, breathlessly awaiting the next “news release” from some police agency. We actually engaged in what was called “beat reporting.”

I mostly worked the 2-11pm shift. Many nights, after the late newscast, I’d do a “ride-along” with local police or sheriff’s deputies. I hung out at the “cop shop” and really got to see things from a different perspective. I experienced what police life was like. At that time.

Forward to Washington D.C. during much of the anti-Viet Nam and equal rights marches. As a street reporter, I experienced police over-reaction and mounted police charges into otherwise peaceful and lawful demonstrations with participants in the thousands.

So, with some first-hand experiences over 40 years or so, I’ve seen the many “faces” of police work, police training and police duties from both sides. The good. The bad. The ugly.

Defunding (abolishing) the police will not – and should not – ever happen. Nor should we grant law enforcement more authority – more power – than it already has. But, there are areas where we can focus.

Hiring is one. Create a “hiring panel” composed of senior officers and civilians with appropriate backgrounds. If the hiring agency deals with mixed-race communities, put leaders of those communities on the panel. Experienced applicant or new hire, do a rigorous and in-depth background check plus an extended interview process with that panel. Do a psych eval. Make sure the new hire is qualified – “inside and out.” Catch the bad guys there.

Continually check your officers. The cop who put his knee to the neck of George Floyd had 17 – 17 – prior write-ups for bad behavior. Although he was already on the force, why was he allowed to stay given that record? Why wasn’t he fired after five write-ups? Ten write-ups? Improve periodic reviews of what’s going on and find where you’ve got personnel problems. Continually.

If not already a practice, go back to neighborhood patrols. Get out of the cars. Meet people. Know the ins-and-outs of the area. And “who’s who.” Determine the local leadership. Go back to doing “community policing. It works. One of the biggest problems with police interactions today is the cops don’t know the territory.

Next, get rid of the military equipment. Give those damned M-Raps with machine guns back to the feds. The AK-47’s, too. Get ‘em off the streets. Giving local cops the look of heavily-armed military invaders can also add “heat” to a bad situation and make it worse.

Abolish police unions. I support most unions. But, where police are concerned, unions have become places to hide bad cops. They make it almost impossible to fire ‘em. Unions have their rightful place. But, not in “cop shops.” Not when life or death decisions are made.

Night after night, we’ve watched cops charge into marchers. Trump’s bible photo-op was one example. They just raised shields and batons and launched into what were obviously peaceful protestors. Faced with that, and some teargas canisters for good measure, unarmed marchers suddenly became targets of brutality instead of people – individuals – trying peacefully to make their point(s). One of those points being police brutality.

No matter who ordered that charge (Bill Barr has confessed) it was wrong on so many levels. But, it perfectly captured and made clear to millions watching, one of the major issues in this country is the widening gap between authority wrongfully used and marchers expressing their frustrations in a lawful manner under the First Amendment to our Constitution.

Fair to say, not all marchers are always solely intent on delivering the message of the moment. Looters and vandals often use good people for cover. Absolutely. But, sooner or later, they always break away to do their evil deeds. Cops need to go after the evildoers while keeping in mind those miscreants have nothing to do with crowds legally and peacefully in the streets. The obviously separate events require a change of focus, and a change in police attitude towards innocent folks.
Yes, it’s easy to sit here in the cheap seats and pontificate. Political writers do a lot of that. But, with extensive life experiences and some gray hair, watching the problem unfold night after night in our living rooms, there is a certain clarity to (a) see the problem and (b) recognize some of the answers.

“Defund the police.” No! “Abolish the police?” No!

Instead, recognize the need to have strict, in-depth hiring policies. Constantly review, and where necessary, update training to match the communities – and individuals – served. Renew efforts to get out among the people so a relationship is developed face-to-face. Make the use of force – in any situation – the last, very last, step to take.

Crowds come and go. Cops are here to stay. And should always be.