Dangers of volunteering

Author: admin

I’ve always held the belief that, as citizens of our communities, we should all be required to undertake some kind of public service.

In Israel, nearly all citizens serve in one or more public roles for at least two years while in their teens or 20’s.  It can be in the military or a program linked to a community need.

When we graduate from high school, most of us don’t have a good idea what we want to do next.  If you did, great!  But, I know I didn’t.  Had something like the Israeli requirement been offered, it would have changed the rest of my life.  As it was, I voluntarily

turned to the military and that was the “change agent.”  Aged a bit.  Got my head cleared.  Was exposed to some life experiences.  Figured out what I wanted to do.  Voila!

When aged a few years, the next step was some sort of community service, i.e. Chamber of Commerce, school board, city council, local committee, etc..

While I’m of the opinion that each of us should serve the public good in some capacity, that’s more of a tough sell nowadays.  Biggest reason for that is it makes you a better target for violence.  Or, threats of violence.

I’m ashamed to say it, but public notoriety now can be dangerous. In the current environment, threats against public officials or those serving in many volunteer roles can be bad for your health.  And, there number is increasing.

In our hometown – and quite possibly yours – there are openings on civic committees.  People are being urged to volunteer.  Used to be, there were more volunteers than vacancies.  Not always the case these days.

One of the reasons, I suspect, is volunteering for certain jobs can put a target on your back.  Even in our small city, it’s not unusual for members of boards and commissions to receive threats of one kind or another.

Most often, it’s through (un)social media.  The vast exposure we have to nutcases, screw balls and folks who hide behind the anonymity of the I-Net can’t be ignored.  Whether they mean to carry through on their threats or just want to scare someone, the person on the receiving end can’t be sure.

Local law enforcement is being called upon much more often these days when city/county/state/federal or other public-serving citizens receive threats.

Broadcasters have been on the “threat list” for years.  More than 45 years ago, I was assigned a police detail for several weeks after receiving threats of harm.  We were told then that people making anonymous threats seldom are a real danger.  The word “seldom” always seemed to me to be a huge disclaimer of the assurances.

Our nation runs on volunteerism.  People who give of themselves to serve on boards, commissions, committees, task forces and the like are absolutely necessary for continuity and getting things of a public nature accomplished.

But, the current wave of threatening communications has put a damper on people volunteering.  Almost everywhere.  The aforementioned I-Net gives lowlifes the anonymity to make their threats.  Unfortunately, it’s not possible to tell the harmless, mindless idiots from the real bad guys.  On the old I-Net, they’re all the same.

We live in a small, almost rural community.  Sort of out of the “main stream.”  But, I’m not sure I’d accept a request for public service now if one were to come.  “Rural” we may be.  But, threats-against-service have surfaced here as well.

With local, state and federal elections just 12 months off, it’ll be interesting to see who’ll choose to put their names on the ballots.  Or, work the elections.  It could be there’ll be more open spots than in previous years.

I hope not.


The boomer factor

Author: admin
Aside from current political wars tearing this country apart, other forces are at work changing our entire society.  They’re seldom talked about but they’re very, very real.
I’m about to make some generalizations.  You may find fault with those comments if they pertain to you.  That’s O.K.. And, if they do, I’d appreciate some feedback.  But, for the moment, let’s deal with these – generally.
Across our nation, we’re seeing a rapidly declining rate of participation in traditional practices – mainstream religion, service clubs, social organizations, volunteerism in traditional activities and more.  All are losing members/workers and not seeing the usual influx of new people to carry on the tradition of free labor.
Granges have all but disappeared.  Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, Eagles, Masonic bodies, Knights of Columbus and other civic and/or fraternal groups have declining memberships and, in some cases, have forfeited their charters.  Had some not taken in women a few years ago, many would likely be gone by now.  Many small Chambers of Commerce have expanded boundaries to include nearby communities to keep membership up.  Some small chambers are just about gone.
Barb and I live in a small community of about 35,000.  Much of what might otherwise be done by paid city employees is done by volunteers i.e. parks and rec duties, swimming and golf operations, security, beautification, etc..  All groups – and I do mean ALL – are losing volunteers and not seeing enough new ones.
Here’s one of those generalizations – though where we live, we’re seeing plenty of specific evidence.
Boomers – born in the mid-forties through about 1964.  They’re retiring now.  But their unique societal habits and lifestyles are drastically changing life.  Here and everywhere.
Many Boomers, generally, tend not to join existing groups.  They often go their own exclusive way about things.  They sometimes start their own clubs rather than joining existing ones.  They’re the first retirement generation for which computers are basic to their way of life.  They seem to prefer electronic social connections over face-to-face groups i.e. service clubs, mainstream churches, etc.  
Now, I’m not finding fault with that.  It is what it is.  But, to think life is going on “as usual” is to ignore this large societal shift going on under our feet.  And to ignore even larger changes ahead.  
If you don’t think huge change is out there, I invite you to check those three teens in that fast food joint as they text each other at the table rather than talk face-to-face.  They’re the advance party for generations to come that will be largely unable to interact in business, political, societal or any other direct form of interpersonal communication.
“Rainey,” you say.  “You’re all wet!”
Maybe.  But, we’re steadily moving in our communities from volunteerism – which is disappearing – to hiring people to do the same tasks.   Dues/fees have to be raised and that may price some elderly, who retired here and elsewhere many years ago, out of their homes.  
Leadership recruitment pools are shrinking in size.  In a community in which we used to live, there was a large managing board election a year ago for an organization that runs a $20 million annual budget. Three seats open.  Election advertised for months.  Three folks volunteered in a community of nearly 35-thousand.  Thirty-five-thousand!  No election.   Just appointments.  
As our aging demographics change, there’s less participation – less involvement – less volunteering.  But, the fastest growing group here – and elsewhere – is the Boomers.  Example: they’ve organized several exclusive duplicate clubs – limited to Boomers – taking members away from other groups who’re starting to feel the loss.
And, when you reach an age of about 70, you find yourself not always being included in Boomer activities or on mailing lists.
These aren’t isolated instances for just this community.  Sociologists are finding growing evidence of these Boomer trends all over the place.  Changes are subtle – very subtle.  But, they’re becoming more apparent and more important to the fabric of our society.  
We’ll talk about this again.

Shooting blanks

Author: admin
If you’re waiting for the current crop of Republicans in the U.S. Senate to do SOMETHING to stop whack jobs from killing our children in the classroom, NEWS FLASH – you won’t live that long.
As the number of months – years – pile up since the Uvalde and Nashville mass murders, you can see it in Republican eyes, hear it in Republican voices.  Nothing meaningful – or game-changing – is gonna happen.
Despite multiple graphic testimonies about the Texas, Tennessee and Florida carnage involving the scattered and blood-stained remains of nine, 10 and 11-year-olds – despite Matthew McConaughey’s angry description of a child’s body so badly destroyed by AR-15 bullets only her tennis shoes could be used to identify her body parts – despite a pediatrician’s brutal description of the blood and gore he found as he looked in vain for some child to save – nothing “game changing” is gonna happen.  Nothing.
Yes, backed embarrassingly into a political corner, we got some minor changes in a few situations involving the buying and limiting use of some guns.  Not AR-15’s or other semi-automatics which are the weapons-of-choice for crazed killers.  Nothing to address the mass violence.
There’s no shortage of people, places and things to blame.  The NRA, “Didn’t happen in my state,” “I’m just one voice,” “Not my problem,” “Weren’t my kids,” 
Sound nutty?  Sound irresponsible when discussing such a horrific matter as classroom killings?  Sure.  But, so is doing nothing.  Or, nearly nothing.
Being elected to Congress has become the first step to making a career of what the Founder’s viewed as a part-time job.  “Citizen Congress” they wrote.  Get elected, do things, go home.  
But, somewhere along the way, we – we citizen voters – lost control.  Like bed bugs in an old mattress, once they got in, it became nearly impossible to get ’em out.  “The power of incumbency,” it’s called.  Simple as that.  
If one’s desire to keep one’s position at the perpetually sweet, perpetually flowing public trough sounds too unrealistic an argument to make in the face of inaction after several mass murders, you come up with a better one.  Go ahead.  The rest of us will wait.
 Mitch  McConnell assigned Texas Senator John Cornyn to “work with Democrats” to see what both parties could “agree on” when it comes to gun legislation.  You really expect sweeping, meaningful legislation to come out of that?  “Both parties can agree on?”  Really?
By the way, it’s been two years  now.  Heard anything from Senator Cornyn?  Read his report?  Heard any new ideas to stop killing our young?  Me, either.  Not word one!
It’s taken a lot of political disappointments and a heap of Congress doing nothing to cause me to do a “180” on term limits.  A full “180.”
Taking the possibility of a career-by-the-Potomac off the table may be a first step to getting movement – even action – by a future Congress.  If one takes the job in the first place, with every intention of serving and acting with a citizen’s sense of doing what’s right, rather than what’s going to keep them in office, then retiring, we might expect some positive action.
There are still some important objections to the term limits idea.  But, we’ve seen so many opportunities missed – so many wrongs go un-prosecuted – so many deadbeats relying on incumbency and longevity to stay in the “hallowed halls” – so much worthy legislation die in someone’s desk drawer – and all in the name of someone staying employed.
So, yes.  Inaction by the current Congress on the subject of meaningful legislation to stop killing our kids can be predicted.  With near certainty.  It was “Ol’ Mitch, himself, who said it in his charge to Cornyn.  “Work with Democrats” implying the GOP’s ready to act but not Democrats.  
Skeptical?  Yes.  Cynical?  You’re damned right!   I assure you, no pleasure is taken in these words.  But, we’ve seen this all before.  After Sandy Hook.  After Parkland.  After Columbine.  After Reno.  After Buffalo.  After New Orleans.  After Miami.  After Brooklyn.  After.  After.  AFTER!
We need a term-limited, citizen Congress.  We need people to take responsible political action without fear of reprisal.  We need people to be motivated less by self-service than by service-for-all.  We need people who will do what’s right for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.
Until that happens, don’t hold your breath.  It ain’t gonna happen.


Author: admin

From the seemingly endless list of “grassroots” organizations these days, one that has lately piqued my interest is “Moms For America” and its apparent offshoot, “Moms For Liberty.”

“Moms” has been around since 2004, though only sprouting up in our Northwest neighborhood in the last year or so.  Website for the group is very professional with lots of patriotic verbiage and an online store where you can buy a “Christmas plaid apron” for $28 or a “long sleeve” hoodie for $31.”

There are some “hot button” words among the offerings.  Like “truly American curriculum” and “biblical citizenship workbook.”  But, the descriptive words that caught my attention were “A voice to counter radical feminists” and to “end gender confusion.”

“Moms” has popped up in a few Idaho school districts.  Though scant now, you’re sure to hear more about them.  Local chapters of a movement to end “gender confusion” while selling “Biblical Citizen workbooks” can’t fly under the radar very long.

The “statement of purpose” for “Moms” says it all:

“Moms for America is reclaiming our culture for truth, family freedom and the Constitution.  We activate, empower and mobilize moms to promote and advance freedom in our homes, communities through our vote.”

“Moms” also says it’s working to “restore patriotism” by “raising patriots.”

With talk of “restoring our patriotism” and reclaiming “family and freedom,” there’s a sense of confusion at our house.  Have we lost all that?  Does it really need it need to be “reclaimed.?”

All sorts of right wing groups are coming out of the woodwork these days.  School and library boards, county commissions and city councils are “under attack.”  In some cases, members of these “do-gooder” groups are running as a “team” hoping to get one or more of their members elected so those folks can work to get others “inside.”

This outburst of local right wing energy can be found in numerous states.  And, these folks aren’t being shy.  They’re announcing their purpose(s) right up front.  “Hot button” words and more.

We’ve seen these types before.  Their objectives are known to anyone paying attention.  What’s different now is (un)social media.  The electronic connection making us all a connected neighborhood.  Whether one nutcase or a hundred, with the ol’ I-net, the messages all look the same.

Such is the case with “Moms.”  Yes, there’s that professional website presence.  Yes, they’ve got those “hot button” words front and center.  But, is it truly a “national” movement?  Or just a few folks out to stir up local trouble?

What’s needed is a lot of local “push back” before anyone claiming to be a moderate is swept out of office.

Stay tuned.  Oh, and don’t forget those long-sleeved hoodies for just $31 emblazoned with  “Moms for America.”  Catchy.


Pay attention

Author: admin

We’re under attack.  Make that, renewed attack.

From the right.  Make that, far-right.  And the battleground is not some far off place where their blathering can go unheard.

No, they’re local.  As local as meetings of your school board.  Or city fathers.  Or county fathers and mothers.  Folks you’ve elected to guide your schools.  Or, community.

One such small group of dissenters is “Mothers for Liberty.”  Another is “City Fathers.”  And, there are more.  All positioning themselves to “bring down” whatever goes against their way of “thinking.”  In other words, to counter your way of thinking when you voted to fill those elected leadership positions.

The far-right angst so prevalent in Congress, at the moment, has long roots going back to wherever you live.  They’ve become like ants at a picnic.

The “Mom’s” group, for instance.  Opposed to some of the books your kids read, put in their hands by wiser people on school boards or citizen committees of the local library after much study and discussion.  You may already have such a noisy bunch in your backyard.  And, if they’ve been sort of “under cover,” the season for their “hatching” is now.

Rather than propose something new, they come empty-handed.  They come to “destroy” what they see as “wrong” in classrooms or other operations of local school districts.  They want to “cleanse” but offer no replacement curriculum or plan for your consideration.

That seems to be the way with anything or any group coming from the rightward “fringes.”  Break, obliterate, blowup what they don’t like without offering substitution of any replacement materials.

From the U.S. Congress down to your school board or city hall.  We seem to be under constant attack about something.  Go to any school board meeting these days.  City council sessions.  County commission gatherings.  Chances are you’ll hear voices raised against this, that and the other.

Voices seeking not to join the discussion, but to overpower it. Voices not wanting to join in conversation, but to silence it.  To drown out any voice but their own.

I’ve been to city council and school board meetings over the years.  Hundreds and hundreds of ’em.  And, what I’ve witnessed, time and again, is whoever is in charge will usually be open to listening to the voices for awhile.  Will be patient with diversion from the printed agenda.  Will let interveners  have their “say.”

That was then. This is now.  Folks like “Mothers for Liberty” have their own agendas.  Somewhere, someone – unidentified at the moment – is cranking out those agendas.  And, marching orders.  “Moms” groups in Florida or Arizona or Portland are being told what to say, how to say it and what to do if they meet resistance.

People who don’t like what these groups stand for – which is often far-right thought and destruction – may have to start attending some meetings of their local governing boards and councils.

And, they may have to organize some sort of resistance to said groups because their kids’ education is on the line.  Governance of their own communities is under attack.  In subtle ways, lifestyles are being challenged.

All of that by folks who don’t think the way you do.  Don’t have the same values you have.  And, who don’t seem to care that they offer nothing to replace what they want to destroy.

Yes, we are under small attacks.  But, taken together, they represent a war of sorts.  A war on our thinking – on our values – on the way we live.  And, how we live.

Time to pay attention.

A missed swing

Author: admin


Idaho’s junior Senator is pissed by the noise from airplanes flying over his South Boise homestead.

What a deal!

Jimmy Risch has lived out there for decades.  Noise from aircraft is not a new phenomenon for him.  He’s been listening to airplanes – with his ham and eggs – for a long, long time.  When he’s there.

Only now, after many thousands and thousands of general aviation and commercial flights in and out of the Boise airport over 30 or so years, does he squawk.  The airport is just a mile or so from his desert hacienda, an airport he’s used many hundreds of times on his trips in and out of Boise, to and from his U.S. Senate offices in D.C..

The Boise airport has been in-place for many decades before the junior Senator and his family moved South.  He knows that.  But, now, several decades after he took up residence, he’s pouting.

Risch can be no more put out about the aerial racket than several thousand Meridian residents and folks in the area of Five Mile Road, Eagle Road, Cloverdale, Linder and more.  Those “aggravating” aircraft fly over a lot of West Ada County and Boise territory.  They’ve done it for years.

Now, our boy wants somebody, somewhere to do something about it.  NOW!

I’d be willing to support Jimmy if he was standing up for his constituents out West -and South – of Boise.  If he was asked to front an organized group of Ada County folks, similarly unhappy about the airport, seeking a real answer to their problem.  If he was the spokesman for thousands of folks who were as unhappy about noisy aerial conditions as Junior.

But he’s not.

Fact of the matter is, the airport had been there for many, many years before “Gentleman James” decided to live nearby on his little acreage.  He knew the planes were there.  He knew by hearing flyover noise as he was out there looking for a homestead many years ago. He knew by driving around the airport’s West end to get to his property.  Or, downtown.

What’s changed is that the Boise airport is much busier than it was in the ’70’s and ’80’s.  More commercial, military and private aircraft are in the skies thereabouts.  The airport is a thriving source of income for the city and a handy resource for air travelers and home to the Idaho Air Guard.  It’s win-win all the way.

What the hell does Risch expect in answer to his new outrage?  Who – or what – is supposed to do something to change the situation?

The only way to dry his tears is for him to move out of the area.  The airport is not gonna move.  The planes won’t stop flying.  The noise from those aircraft won’t suddenly go away.  The only answer for Junior is a U-Haul truck and some teens looking for work.

I’ve never been a Senator.  Never aspired to be one.  So, maybe I don’t understand the depths of Risch’s belated anger.  Is a Senator’s anger different from the rest of us?  Is he angrier than us?  Does it take 30-40 years to get up a full head of steam on an issue if you’re a Senator?

Or, is he using his years as a national politician to achieve his ends?  A little power play to get what he wants?  Silence?

Or, maybe – just maybe – he knows something we don’t.  Maybe he knows some new, high-powered stealth airplanes are coming to the Idaho National Guard.  Stealth planes that, I can tell you from personal experience, are much nosier than the current crop.  Much.

I go back a long way with the Senator.  I’ve watched him in “action” many, many times.  On a personal note, he’s even taken a drunken swing at me (and missed.)  A future Idaho Governor kept him from falling flat.  Oh, yeah, we go way back.

I’m afraid, on this one Jimmy, you’re on your own.  The “chin” you’re going to try hit this time belongs to the City of Boise.  Or the State of Idaho.  Or the federal Department of Transportation.  Or, the United States Air Force.

But, in the end, my friend, after 30-40 years of living in the same spot, you’re gonna have to move.  Or, buy some expensive ear plugs.

I don’t think you can “swing” your way out of this one.


Zinkes of the world

Author: admin

Montana has a U.S. representative named Ryan Zinke.

Zinke likes to strut around the U.S. Capitol grounds wearing a large, black cowboy hat and big ol’ black Western boots.  Always shined. Of course.  Just like every “cowboy.”

I don’t know if he’s got any cattle in Montana.  But, in Washington D.C., he is a committed member of the far-right “herd.”

Zinkes latest bellowing is about as racist as it gets.  He, and a few dozen members of that small self-righteous herd, want to send any Palestinians now on visas in this country “back where they belong.”

Zinke masquerades as a supporter of Israel.  He may have some limited understanding of what that means.  But, he’s “all hat and no “cattle” when it comes to knowing what’s currently going on in the Mideast.  Especially where Palestinians are concerned.

Zinke not only wants to stop issuing visas to Palestinians, he wants to revoke any such documents back-dated to October 1.

“I don’t trust the Biden Administration any more than I do the Palestinian Authority to screen who is allowed to come into the United States,” he said.

Zinke and others of his ilk have authored a bill to pause issuing visas for Palestinians issued since October 1.

Zinke says “This is the most anti-Hamas immigration legislation I’ve seen and it’s well-deserved.”

The title of the bill he’s backing is “Bill to Expel Palestinians from the United States.”  The measure would direct the Department of Homeland Security to “identify and remove covered aliens without lawful status” including those whose lawful status has just been revoked by the same legislation.

Zinke’s bill – which has the backing of about 10 others of the far-right “Freedom Caucus” – stands no chance of passage.  But, it does represent an increase of anti-Muslim and anti-Arab noise from those on that ragged edge of the ultra-conservative element in Congress.  Marjorie Taylor-Greene is another sponsor of the same garbage.

While the actual fighting action is in the Mideast, it seems there’s a wave of antisemitism sweeping the world at the moment.  While antisemitism is normally defined as opposition to Jews, haters appear to have lumped into the word about everybody with black hair and dark skin.

Even in the rather small Northwest community in which this writer lives, I saw a window sign along the highway last week saying “Jews Go Home.”  It disappeared after a couple of days.  But, I’d bet the thought still lingers on the property.

Reading it, I suddenly thought “What if the Jew in question was born in Seattle?  Is Seattle far enough away to go ‘home’?”

Hatred of others because of religion or skin color – or anything else – is a damnable thing.  It’s totally unreasonable and without any basis in thought.  I’ve never felt the urge to stigmatize others for the way they worship or for living a lifestyle different from my own.  What a terribly boring place this would be if we were all the same.

The Ryan Zinkes of the world would have us believe people with dark skin or who worship the one God differently should be shunted off to somewhere else.  Preferably out of the country.  They should be ostracized because…..  Because….  Oh, Hell.  For some ill-conceived “reason” totally unreasonable.

What’s happening now in the Mideast has roots going back thousands of years.  Thousands of years before there was a United States.  Thousands of years before there was a Western world.  The combatants probably wouldn’t admit to that but, it’s true.

Jews have been battling for many thousands of years for a homeland and they’ll likely battle more thousands of years to keep what they now have.  While we Westerners may look at the fighting and killing as just another “skirmish” in the Mideast, the distrust – the hatred – goes further back than most of us can truly understand.

My father told me he’d like to live long enough to see peace in that historically war-torn region.  He didn’t.  I have much the same thought.  But, peace there won’t happen in my lifetime.  And, likely not in my children’s.  Or their children’s children either.

The Ryan Zinkes of the world will keep the distrust and the hatred alive.  You can bet on it.  But, that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t prevail with understanding and love.  That doesn’t mean we can’t overcome his ignorance with wise thought and wise action.

I’ll bet we can.


Can he do it?

Author: admin


So we have a Speaker of the House. I’ll give you that.

Question is, for how long? Six months? Three months? Two? One?

No one knows at this juncture. But, given the history of the far right in all things political, the honeymoon may be short-lived. Words like “constancy” and “lengthy service” are not often attached to their doings.

Mike Johnson is the poster boy for all things extremist. He’s had a fair to middling career on the bank benches. Not often raising his voice, sort of going with the flow. Especially if that flow has been to the right.

But, here’s the thing. If he’s to be Speaker, he has to be Speaker for the whole House. Not just the 40 or so cretins of the right. He may tilt that way in speech or thought. But, in the end, those of the opposite political persuasion have to be included in the workings of the House, too. That means, he’ll have to moderate a bit.

Now, if there’s one thing the right flank can’t stand it’s moderation.
Even the smallest movement to the middle. “Our way or the highway.” “You’re with us or you’re ‘agin us.”

Even Newt Gingrich, with his “take no prisoners” politics, found he had to compromise here and there. While his career was nothing to write home about, he at least survived his turn “in the barrel” with his scalp intact.

If Johnson “moderates,” will he be accused of “selling out?” Will a move toward the middle be viewed as “traitorous?” Will he find himself on the outside of the cabal looking in?

Then, there’s new relationships with the President and the Senate to contend with. While Mr. Johnson might hold far right positions on such issues as abortion, he’s got to work with the other two branches of government who are not as hidebound as himself. Can he do that?

If he doesn’t move leftward, he won’t have much cooperation from the folks at the other end of political life. Like Democrats. Remember, the GOP margin in the house is about four votes.

Mr. Johnson is going to have to do some soul searching. Does he really want the job and all the accouterments there-with? Or, would he rather enjoy the peace and quiet that’ve been the hallmark of his career thus far?

A former Idaho Governor used to say: “It’s easier standing outside the circle, throwing the spears in, than it is to be on the inside catching ’em.”

Johnson might enjoy a bit of a honeymoon with Democrats lying low for a short period. And, with the right-wing of his own Party holding it’s fire for awhile.

But, sooner or later, he’s going to be put to the test. Remember, it was Republicans who introduced this idea of Speaker recall by just a handful of voices in the House. So, when that test comes – and it will – will Johnson survive?

Words like “stable,” and “permanent,” and “moderate” are highly to be desired in the new Speaker. Those adjectives certainly don’t describe the political roots from whence Johnson came. Far from it.

So, Mike Johnson could have some tough times ahead as he tries to be Speaker for all 434 House members. A job he can’t successfully do if he tries to simply hang onto his previous political leanings.

I don’t know who would want the job. But, I wish him well.


Author: admin

There’s a question that needs to be asked about our country’s future.

“Is America governable?”

At the moment, and for the last couple of years, the answer to that question might require a qualified “yes.”

Not exactly the ringing endorsement one would expect. Certainly not the answer you might desire. Just a qualified “yes.”

Some 50 years ago or so, there was a collection of malcontents that founded the John Birch Society. From the start, the various “cells” of the Society found fault with the then-direction of the country, its politics and society (small “s”) in general. The search for suspected Communists kept members busy looking behind every tree and bush. No one in any position of government was to be trusted. Especially Democrats.

Over the years, the Society and others of such ilk morphed into all sorts of “aginers.” Trusting nothing. Trusting no one. Offering not a speck of anything to right the “wrongs” they opposed.

Along came “talk radio.” Suddenly, the malingerers had a “voice.” Their activities could be brought out into “the light.” They had a focal point for all to see.

The sad truth is this “voice” of the right morphed again. It found a home in the national Republican Party and, through that, down to the local committees. The “Grand Old Party” would never be the same.

Over many national and state elections, representatives of rightward thought were elected to thousands of public offices. The face of government changed at all levels. The “my-way-or-the-highway” crowd was in charge.

Think about it. Our current struggle to simply elect a Speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives has become such a volatile mess because of what? The far-right. About 20 or so members got their backs up and told Jim Jordan his search for power would end in failure. And, that’s been true.

While advocating nothing and opposing everything, these “cells” of rightward “thought” have infected Congress. The legal demand of a general national budget looms just a couple of weeks off. But, thanks to these miscreants, no one is doing much about getting down to the number crunching.

For the last few years, we’ve not had a national budget. We’ve been existing on what’s called a “continuing resolution.” That means, no one has constructed a budget from scratch for a decade or so. Instead, Congress has simply adopted a budget from a few years back and added an annual percentage “guestimate” to keep things running.

There’s a wonderful contradiction in all this. The right-wingers have loudly – and repeatedly – advocated for “cutting the fat” out of our government spending. But, it’s the same bunch that’s continually – and successfully – kept budget hawks from creating a leaner operating document.

The embarrassing fight keeping Jordan out of the Speaker’s chair is the doing of the far-right contingent within the national GOP. Whatever blood there be is on their hands. The personal threats against families of members of Congress, the anonymous callers in the middle of the night, the threatening texts and emails – those are theirs, too. All of it. The whole nasty, dangerous, mindlessness mess is theirs.

Recent governance, as we know it, has been simply responding to one crisis or another, drifting along without direction, without goals, without truly responding to national concerns. Gun violence. Solid evidence of the effects of climate change. Action on our national drug crisis and it’s many manifestations on society. Reining in our bloated defense spending. All are serious national problems. But, Congress is doing nothing!

So, we are left with the question. “Is America governable?” And, the answer continues to be a qualified “yes.” And such governance as there be is facing threats of violence and insurrection we’ve not seen for 250 years.

The answer – the action to get us back on the correct path – will not come from the top down. Solutions – corrections – must come from the bottom up.

We have a national election in some 13 months. A third of the seats in the U.S. Senate will be contested. And, every seat in the U.S. House of Representatives will be “up for grabs.” Every one.

That election is so damned important. More than ever, we need an informed electorate. A very well-informed electorate. Vacancies in public offices must be filled. Candidates – whether now in office or new faces – must be re-examined for fitness. For judgment. For integrity. Nothing less is acceptable.

“Is America governable?” Can we make that answer an unqualified “YES?” The answer is up to us.

Three stories

Author: admin

For over a week now, we’ve been confronted by three stories from opposite sides of the world: Hamas attacks in Israel; the pending war in Gaza; the bungling, feckless attempts of Republicans to find themselves a Speaker in the House of Representatives.

Watching Israel-Hamas-Gaza stories, it’s impossible for nearly any of us to imagine what agony this new series of battles represents for those who live there, seemingly under attack from all sides.

Sitting in the security of our living rooms, we’ve witnessed human carnage from afar. Footage of the bullet-riddled body of a baby wrapped in small, blood-stained blankets is the worst inhumanity I’ve ever witnessed. What animal could have fired the many bullets that caused the deadly wounds? For God’s sake, why”

Carnage at the site of that music festival was especially disturbing as I thought back to the many such gatherings I’ve attended over the years. Wine, music, dancing blended over many hours lying on blankets with friends creating some of the best memories possible. Some, for me, were on warm Summer days at Ste. Chappelle Winery in Idaho’s Canyon County. Remember Gene Harris?

Trying to juxtapose those memories with stories of gunmen peppering those far-off revelers with bullets as they enjoyed the same sort of weekend afternoon is impossible.

In Israel and looming crisis in Gaza, the war is defining life. And death. When conditions settle down, there will be no winners. No victors. Just defeat and the stench of death for all participants.

The search for a lasting peace will be fruitless because the battles have been going on for centuries. What began hundreds of years ago is as current as today. Religious and social differences carry on the deadly traditions.

The rest of the world can watch the killing and express hopes for a lasting peace. But, peace has been elusive in the region for hundreds of years. And, it seems it will remains so.

In our nation’s Capitol, battles of a different kind as Republicans continue to be their own worst enemies. They’ve brought national governance to a standstill. The splintering GOP is now threatening our national security.

Congress can’t act on anything, including aid to our friends in Israel. Republicans can’t even enjoy their slim majority in the U.S. House to elect a Speaker.

Simply put, there is no majority in the majority. Republicans have become so divided they can’t even name a Speaker candidate. Which is the most honored perk of a House majority party.

Forget congressional action on dozens of important issues. Forget any compromise leading to the fulfillment of their oaths of office. Forget the necessary balance of a three-legged government. Righting those efforts seems impossible given the current divisions.

The road ahead of us seems out of focus. The road back to the societal peace we’ve so long enjoyed seems illusory. Out of reach.

It doesn’t seem any force could reconcile Congress – much less this nation – short of war. That’s done the trick a couple of times.

We’re about to enter the first trial of Donald Trump. Maybe the first of several similar judicial acts. He’ll rant and rave and threaten. He’ll bluster and lie. But, justice is about to bite him for the first time. Other such judicial events lie ahead. He may escape some but not likely all. His life and comforts are about to change radically.

There are plenty of stories that’ll come out of these three highlighted. A war. An internecine battle for the soul of House Republicans. Trials of a long-time grifter whose time to face justice has finally come.

We won’t be wanting for “hard” news for some time to come.