If I were asked to draw a map of the United States, using only the outlines of the 48 contiguous states, I’d have to give it some thought.

As a child in school, so many years ago, I could whip one up in short order. But, now, as a grown-up some eighty-years later, the same project would take a lot more time. More thought.

Because his nation is divided. No, it’s more like fractured. Red vs Blue – rural vs urban – gay vs straight and still, to our shame, Black vs White. And Brown. And Yellow.

We’ve even got folks who want to redraw state borders to fit their political beliefs. Never gonna happen. But, they’re out there and they’ll keep making noises.

Long ago, I quit saying the Pledge of Allegiance. “One nation.” “Liberty and justice for all.” I just can’t do it.

Same for parts of the National Anthem and “America, the Beautiful.” “…Alabaster cities.” “Brotherhood.” “From sea to shining sea.” Our seas haven’t been shining for at least a hundred years. “Brotherhood” doesn’t exist for everyone. And I challenge anyone to find an “alabaster city.” Been to downtown Portland or Seattle lately?

The oft-repeated words of our anthems and the pledge just don’t square with the reality out there. We can mouth the words or sing the tunes. But, the words have become descriptive of some other country where “brotherhood” and “shining seas” exist. Maybe Norway, Sweden or Finland.

Please don’t get me wrong. We’re blessed with our Republic – our democracy. I have strong, positive and loving feelings for my country – for our way of life. But, both are in danger of being lost if we continue to walk our current, widely divided pathways.

Maybe the strongest division we must overcome is the rural vs urban. Eastern Washington vs West of the Cascades. Eastern Oregon vs West of the Cascades. Northern Idaho vs Southern with the acknowledged division of North or South at Riggins. Or Eastern Idaho vs the more populous West.

Many of us have lived in both urban and rural environments at one time or another. And, we’ve found there’s a lot to be said for both.

But, somehow, we’re pitting one against the other – economically and politically. We believe someone else is getting more than we are. Someone else is getting more benefit – more dollars – more recognition. I heard a lot of that living in Eastern Idaho. “Those guys in Boise” most often heard. Now, it’s “those guys in Portland.

Maybe the most divisive issues are political. Like people wanting to redraw Idaho’s Western border clear over to the Cascades and South to California. It’s notable they made a little detour around Bend which most rural Oregonians think is a hotbed of “liberals.” Another division.

Abe Lincoln was the guy who said a “house divided against itself cannot stand.” He certainly headed a nation deeply divided in 1865. More than any other accomplishment, he laid the groundwork to bring North and South together as much as was possible at the time. Even though we still have that division in some small, angry Southern corners.

We must get past these divisions, whatever they may be. We’ve got to rid ourselves of divisive politicians and their false rhetoric. We need new, younger voices vying for political leadership and others socially and culturally. We need to accept – and understand – whatever differences there may be, get past them and concentrate on things that bind us.

We need to work hard on the “brotherhood,” “shining seas” and the “alabaster cities.” We had ’em once. We’ve can have ’em again.

How long, oh Lord

Author: admin

How long are we – the majority – going to continue being confronted by a loud, discordant, foul minority? By an often times loud, discordant and IGNORANT minority? How long are we going to continue being “kicked around” by the too-often unknowing?

Think about it.

Example: There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. Many of them – NO – most of them seem to be honest, straight-forward, good people working in the bowels of government with the best of intentions. Most.

So, who do we hear about? Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Andy Biggs, Matt Gaetz, George Santos. Type the word “George” into your Google browser and see what name comes up first – without even a last name. Santos.

Liars. Loud mouths. Cretins. A handful of idiots in an otherwise necessary institution of our government.

Speaking of the House. What about those 21 Republicans – another minority – signing onto a piece of hate mail directed to the inbox of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg? They jumped all over him with blame for the derailing of a train carrying burning tank cars filled with dangerous chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. Demanded he get “his” National Transportation Board of its butt and get to the bottom of the calamity. Many of them even went to their local media to cast blame and disrespect on Secretary Pete.

Problem: Ol’ Pete has no authority over the NTSB. It’s a stand-alone, federal agency with no ties to the Dept. Of Transportation.

So you’ve got 21 Republicans – members of Congress – who have no idea what the hell they’re doing. Ignorance personified. Seems a class or two in political science would be a good requirement – make that an absolute requirement – to run for any federal office. Another vocal, ignorant minority. In writing, yet.

Or, the folks at Faux Neus – yet another foul, lying minority.

Seems their talking heads knew from the git-go that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. So, what did this cretin bunch do with that knowledge of facts? Right. They went on and on for months saying Trump won- that Joe Biden was not elected by the majority of us – that the entire election was fraught with cheating.

Now, thanks to a court filing of documents by Dominion Voting Systems in a billion-dollar lawsuit – whom the Faux Neus folk loudly claimed were responsible for the “fraudulent” election – we have their admissions of duplicity. In the words of Mr. Rupert Murdoch himself, who sits atop of their lying “food chain.” And the emails and texts of his lying minions. All of it. Black and white.

The problem with the Faux Neus deal is that faithful watchers of the bilge-water espousing liars won’t get the facts because they’re still tuned into Faux neus. Still continuing to be fed a diet of B.S..

Or, all these Republican-dominated legislatures – all 21 of ’em – hell-bent on ridding their states of drag shows. Drag shows? Yep, while real issues of legislative import go begging, GOP state after GOP state is going after local drag queens. Another minority band of loud, idiotic cretins in Republican drag – er – dress.

Every day – day after day – we in the majority are doused with crap about another “loud, vocal minority” up to no-good. While millions of us – hundreds of millions – live lives trying to do our best, it’s the vacuous, strident clamor of idiots – a minority to be sure – idiots we hear the most about.

This nation has state-of-the-art communications capabilities. Envy of the world. But, far too often, what’s being communicated isn’t worth the time to read or listen to it. Too often , it’s mental garbage being propounded by a minority of fools aided by a willing media constantly running after ratings.

While our nation’s founders created a great, living document in the Constitution, subsequent generations found it necessary to make specific amendments as the time changed. It’s no coincidence the first add-on created covered freedom of speech.

Too bad those who found the necessity to protect speech didn’t use some qualifying limitations. But, they never heard the names Santos or MTG. I quietly envy them.

Belligerence on display

Author: admin

“I miss the America I grew up in.”

Came across that the other day. It was a meme on Facebook. Don’t usually pay much attention to items like that. But, this caught my attention and hung around in my head.

I think a lot of us with gray hair and a head full of memories of other days can relate. It most recently came to mind as I listened to President Biden’s State of the Union speech.

Just when you think the Republican Party has reached the bottom of the barrel, someone takes a saw to the bottom and reaches further down. The catcalls, the booing and shouts of “liar” broke the decorum of the event and exhibited the absurd childishness and boorishness of some GOP members.

I don’t care which political party you claim membership in – what political philosophy you espouse. I don’t care whether you like or despise the speaker. Moments such as the Biden speech are deserving of the decorum Americans expect. If you can’t comply, stay the Hell home.

But, it seems we’ve entered a time of active crassness and incivility. Such bar room, antisocial behavior has become common – even with people we’ve elected to high office.

Thinking back to other Speakers of the House of Representatives that served over the last 70 years or so, none has come to that elevated office weaker than Kevin McCarthy.

We will never know exactly what he gave away in the horse trading he conducted during 15 votes of his caucus. The man sits in the chair but without the dignity and clout such office demands. He need not fear Democrat challenges to that authority so much as he needs to be aware of the “Brutus Caucus” of his own Party.

His weak signals to some Republicans to stop disruptions of the President failed. Nothing could have shown the lack of respect and the divisions within the House GOP more clearly.

Civility seems in short supply these days. Respect for institutions and people seems, at times, all but lost in the noise of a vocal minority.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not necessarily longing for the ways things used to be. Times change. Acceptance of change is necessary. As we age we are in a constant state of evolution.

No. I’m talking about simple courtesies expected, regardless of the times. Paying respect to those institutions and people for whom that respect is due. Respect for the office or rank held. In the military, you’re taught to salute the rank, not necessarily the individual wearing it. Respect. Tradition.

I’m beginning to make a list of people I really don’t want to hear anything more about who consistently fail to show respect – who continually exhibit obnoxious and unacceptable behavior. So far, it’s George Santos, Marjorie-Taylor Greene, Trump, McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Krysten Sinema, Andy Biggs and anything Kardashian. I’m still adding. Feel free to make your own list.

In the “American I grew up in” we had similar creatures – people who didn’t accept social norms, disrespected authority and who made nuisances of themselves. I recall many of them but none who could come close to the current belligerent crop. In those times, we just shut them out. Isolated them. Shamed them.

Now, we broadcast such loud, nonconforming behavior – we “cut away” from the seriousness of the moment to put their faces on TV screens from coast-to-coast. We follow them as they lay waste to respectability and common courtesy.

Maybe that’s why – at our house – the “mute” button on the remote looks a bit worn.

Blame game

Author: admin

Remember Joe Btfsplk? The little fella in the “Li’l Abner” comic strip? Joe was the epitome of bad luck with a little gray cloud hovering near him wherever he went. Joe just couldn’t get a break.

Another Joe we know – Joe Namath – once opined “Quarterbacks get too much credit when things are going good and too much blame when they aren’t.”

Sounds a lot like another Joe we know. Our President. Joe Biden.

At the moment – with things going badly – Biden is getting too much blame. Covid’s not his fault. Climate change is not his fault. Floods, deadly storms and other natural occurrences can’t be helped. Maybe ending the war in Afghanistan didn’t come off as smoothly as hoped. But, he ended the damned “no win” drain of lives and treasure that no other president had the courage to attempt.

No, Joe’s getting some bad raps for a lot of things not under his control.

And, there’s something else going on that no other recent president has had to deal with. This outpouring of anger in the citizenry. In-your-face anger. School boards threatened. City councils and county authorities being openly challenged. Governors, Secretaries of State, legislators, members of congress and others connected with creating laws or conducting elections being under public attack – in their offices and, often, in their homes.

The millions of Americans who won’t get their Covid shots are not Joe’s fault, either. He, and other public officials, have done about all they can do to persuade those miscreants to protect themselves – and us – from the ravages and death of this pandemic. They won’t budge until they’re in the hospital begging for the vaccine. Too late.

Another thing that isn’t Joe’s fault – the wrong-headed Republicans in both houses of Congress who’ve created phoney, vindictive and angry barriers to much of what he’s tried to do.

No, this Joe – in the words of Namath – doesn’t deserve the blame and anger for much of what’s troubling this country at the moment. In fact, he deserves a lot of credit for the things he’s been able to accomplish, given the negative Congress, a war and the natural occurrences of nature he’s had to deal with.

As for Afghanistan, there’s enough blame for Joe and many other folk. The pullout was messy, bloody and, in some cases, deadly. It obviously didn’t go as planned – if planning there was.

But, when you lose a war – our third military defeat in a row – how do you get out without some bloody, loose ends? We couldn’t just quit and go home – cut and run. We had – and still have – responsibilities for our citizens there, to the Afghans who helped us and to the other nations involved. And, my guess is we’ve still got operatives “on the ground” who’re working to get more Americans and Afghans out.

But, Joe is the guy in the “hot seat.” “The buck stops here” sort of thing. He’s in the Oval Office, behind the Resolute desk. His fault or not, he gets the negative reviews and whatever blame there is – rightfully or over blown. Like his predecessors. And, sometimes, a win, for which there is often too much singular credit. As Namath said.

If there is “fault” or “blame” for Biden to shoulder, it may be he’s a man who often leads with his heart. An accomplished politician with years of experience, he’s also “grounded.” Whatever fame he carries with him, as someone in the spotlight for more than 40 years, he’s fully aware of the weight of responsibility he’s charged with. But, he’s also a devout human being who’s suffered multiple losses. Bill Clinton said to victims of tragedy, “I feel your pain.” Biden, more than any recent President, does, too.

Through no fault of Biden’s, we’re going to live with Covid from now on, just as we do with other diseases. We’ll also have to deal with the tragedies caused by storms, floods, fires, climate change and other acts of nature, regardless of who sits behind that desk. There will be wars and acts of violence in our future for other presidents to deal with. And be blamed for. It just goes with the job.

Biden is human. He makes mistakes. He’ll continue to be faced with large problems requiring decisions. Some right. Some wrong. Like the rest of us. He’ll continue to be blamed. Rightly. Or wrongly.

But, I think even some of his critics have to believe Biden is a decent, caring human being. Not perfect. Not always right. But, caring and, in all respects, an admirable human being.

There are enough things in the world to blame someone – anyone – for. Certainly, enough blame for all of us. It’s our personal responsibility to make sure we cast blame at the right source.

Local meddling

Author: admin

Something’s going on in our county that’s seemingly little noticed but which is changing this nation in very fundamental ways.

Nearly all of recent political and regulatory changes are in what are called “Red” states in which Republicans – nearly all way out there Republicans – control most, if not all, of state government.

Idaho, Utah, Montana, Oklahoma, Arkansas and about 20 more of that GOP hue are moving independently – but in common movement – to the same ends. Ends like state regulatory reform, tightening state-level control of things like local school boards, usurping county and municipal government responsibilities and similar activities.

One of the spurious sponsors of these state governmental takeovers is the American Legislative Exchange Council – ALEC for short. Totally dedicated to all things ultra-conservative, ALEC is turning out format legislation for its member states – member states nearly entirely “Red.” Even the subject of abortion control shows up in ALEC-formatted legislative paperwork.

This move to enhanced state control has its roots in the federal inaction of Congress. With that body tied up in political knots, the states have been emboldened to undertake action to get things done. And, a lot of those things are red meat to the far-right which has been waiting for a chance to show its political muscle.

Consider Idaho with its Republican control of nearly all things political. The Gem State has been something of a “proving ground” for ALEC. Many topics enacted into state law in the last few years have ALEC roots.

Using the ALEC handouts, Idaho has codified many subjects, including undercutting city and county government roles. Such things as local planning and zoning activities or forcing cities of a certain size to change to zoned elections. And more.

Red State legislatures have even affected local school boards with new rules laid down “from on high” containing new “do’s” and “don’t’s.”

As Red State laws become more similar, something of a “split” is developing between them and Blue States. It’s almost like two Americas. One group drifting one way; the rest going another. If you overlay a map with states Trump carried in 2020 colored red with the Red States in the same hue, there is slight difference. But, only slight.

Are we seeing the emergence of more than one America? Will there eventually be laws for Red States and different laws for Blue? How would such a set of differences affect how we live?

If you live in a Red state, talk with some of your city council, county commission or school board members. Ask them if they’ve been affected by new mandates from state government. Chances are they have. Ask if they think such legislative activity is a good thing or bad.

If Congress can’t get itself untangled politically – if there’s more inaction from the feds – look for more of this shift to go on in the states. Look for more of this meddling in local governing activities. Look for more divisions between Red and Blue.

A Covid love story

Author: admin

Dear Diary:

Friday, Jan. 27: Late afternoon, the coughing starts. Nothing major. Just small coughs. A bit of a headache, too.

Saturday – 6:15am: I try to get out of bed. Fail. Try to move several more times. Fail each time. I come to realize Barb is pulling both my arms but I can’t get from a horizontal plane (in bed) to a vertical one (standing). She keeps trying.

Finally, both my feet on the floor and I do a Wicked Witch of the East. “I’m melting – Fly, my Pretties – I’m melting.” I fall in a heap like Monday’s dirty laundry. Reason: temperature of 105.5 taken digitally. THREE times! Our brains aren’t built for 105.5! I have no idea who I am, where I am or why I should care.

Later, after what must have been a heroic effort by Barb, I find myself in my recliner, Orange juice at the ready. I’m really”out of it.” Don’t know how – or when – I got back to bed. Saturday just disappeared and me with it.

Sunday – 6:30am: Everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – hurts! It hurts in places it’s not supposed to hurt. Ever! Temp 102. No strength. No energy. No sense of taste or smell. No sense of humor. Don’t give a damn!

Sunday spent – and I mean s-p-e-n-t in the recliner with OJ – tasteless OJ – at the ready. It all hurts. Especially lower back. Barb is, again, doing yeoman’s duty with a disorderly patient. No appetite. And, the body HURTS!

Monday – 9:00pm: Diarrhea. MAJOR! Less time in the recliner. Way more time in a sitting position in the bathroom. Interior drained right down to the baseboards. Temp at 102. Voice is raspy and hoarse. Everything still hurts.

Tuesday – 7:00am: More diarrhea but no idea from what. No appetite. Body aches and pains lessening. Temp seems about normal. Starting to feel more like a regular case of flu. But, I’m noticing having a little trouble with speech. Sort of fading off mid-sentence. Trying to keep to a single thought not easily done.

Wednesday – 6:30am: For the first time, the body feels like mine, though there are still many aches. And, I feel more “in control.” Diarrhea continues unabated. Voice returning to normal. Still not quite mentally “ready-to-go.” In four days, lost 12 pounds. Damned hard way to do it. I don’t recommend it.

The worst passed. Five days. Still some body pain and that feeling I’m not sure of my speech or continuous thoughts. Federal COVID guidelines indicate some chance of contagion until about the 10th day. I may go a day or two beyond just to be safe.

Possibly the most irritating, lingering side-effect of COVID is the lack of taste and smell, which, I’m told, may not return for awhile. Some early sufferers say it took many months to get things back to normal with food and fragrances.

Please realize all the foregoing is just for me. All the symptoms named are just mine. Others who’ve had COVID have experienced their own set of maladies. There’s no “one-size-fits-all.”

As for strains of the disease for which we can be vaccinated, no one even seems to how many variants there are. And, new ones seem to be reported almost daily.

One personal recommendation from someone in COVID recovery is to find yourself a top-quality, live-in care-giver. And, NO, you can’t have mine. Without Barb putting up with my continuous – and very vocal – curmudgeon personality, I wouldn’t be on the path to better days. She has put up with a lot! And has kept smiling. Even when changing soiled sheets.

This COVID is not a “one person” flu. Without her running errands, trying to keep me upright and taking nourishment, making grocery trips, picking up the mail and keeping (cat and dog) Clementine and Skeezix taken care of, none of us would have gotten through those first five days. She kept it together and going in the right direction.

Oh, by the by, she tells me now she failed a morning COVID test and has a fever of 102. Well, isn’t that just ducky! My turn to be Nurse Ratched.

Our COVID love story. To be continued…

Endangered freedoms

Author: admin

Something is sweeping the country at the moment, including our comfortable, little Pacific Northwest neighborhood. Something threatening and violent.

And, that ain’t good.

School board meetings, city council, county commission sessions and more are either being cancelled or are available to the public only on computers. Public business no longer being done in public.

The single reason behind closing such public meetings, cancelling them or resorting to computerized vehicles like ZOOM is violence. Rude, unruly and – at times – out-of-control attendees. From coast-to-coast.

As a nation, we’ve developed a sense of entitlement, coupled with a threat of violence just below the surface of normal conduct. It shows up as angry parents at their kids sports. In crowds at concerts, professional athletic events and, now it seems, the traditionally uneventful conduct of school boards and planning and zoning meetings.

Public bodies – elected or appointed – are required by law to conduct the business of the public – in public. Most are pretty good at doing so. But, now the folks trying to do their business are faced with having to come up with new ways of gathering and operating.

This widespread cloistering of public meetings because of unruly and – at times – violent attendees is a new phenomenon. In my days as a city hall reporter, I can’t tell you how many times I nodded off during those lengthy sessions. Four or five hours of public hearings can do that. Not any more.

As a person of four-score-plus, I’m not entirely “computer literate.” My digital mastery consists of just what I need to know about computers in order to do such chores as banking, keeping up with newsy developments and limited word processing such as these weekly offerings.

That’s it. Talk to me about ZOOMing, twittering, Go Fund Me’s and such and you’re way over my head.

I had to go to night school at the age of 58 to learn that, to turn OFF a computer, you have to go to “START.” I’m still cussing Bill Gates for that bit of unnecessary confusion.

When you start talking about attending a local city council meeting on ZOOM, details of gaining such access – and participating in discussions – soon get confusing for my old mental “processor.” And, that’s the way it is for millions of us old folks who didn’t grow up with these damned devices. We just don’t have a lot of access skills.

Lacking the know-how, going to ZOOM or similar computer-based access to public meetings, can mean many citizens are being shut out of what was meant to be public sessions of the public’s business which wouldn’t be public to millions of Americans.

I recently attended a “town hall” session put on by one of our U.S. Senators. Had about 175 folks gathered in a large community college classroom. About 175. And four armed, security folks.

Now, this is just a guess on my part. But, it would seem either the Senator had experienced some unwanted audience “participation” in previous “town halls,” or the armed presence was meant to ward off such a happening. Or, maybe the community college had a past bad experience or was just being overly cautious.

Either way, the presence of pistol-packing guards at such a normally gun-free, mundane happening was, for me, unsettling and unwanted.

This nation has been “governed” by public meetings since its founding. In much of Vermont and various small communities in upper Maine, local governance is still based on open town hall meetings where the public – rather than elected/appointed boards – makes decisions about planning/zoning, school conduct and a lot more. As close to the people as you can get. And, it works.

When a sponsor – including a U.S. Senator – feels the necessity to have multiple armed guards at a small town, regular public meeting, we’ve lost something normal – something precious – in this country. The processes and expectation of orderly free assembly and free speech seem threatened.

I wonder, seeing the armed, black-uniformed security at the Senator’s gathering, how many folks that might have ordinarily spoken up on some issue, kept their silence out of intimidation. I’d like to know.

Some schools boards, city and county commissions and others are meeting with armed security present. In at least one recent meeting in Idaho, it got so heated guards had to step in to keep the peace. A library board meeting. After which, the librarian quit. I’d do the same.

Millions of folks shut out of public meetings of local officials because of the lack of computers or computer skills – shut off from the conduct of the public’s business – armed guards at your city council sessions – school board members huddling behind closed doors to do their work – armed security at local government meetings.

The right – the fundamental and constitutionally-guaranteed right – to peaceful assembly for the conduct of public business. It’s being threatened. In danger of being lost?

What do we do about it?

Hard times a’coming

Author: admin

It’s easy to write critically about the angry mess facing us in Congress. Almost too easy.

The 118th such gathering along the banks of the Potomac may pose a significant danger to our way of life. In the House, matters are being led by a fellow with the largest political ego since Napoleon. This bunch, on his watch, could actually do harm to our Republic. Great harm.

Fearing no contradiction here, Kevin McCarthy has to be the most flawed, ignoble and dangerously narcissistic human to ever hold the high office of Speaker of the House. No one in my long memory has shown such utter political depravity in searching for power than the Bakersfield Flash. On CSPAN. In our living rooms, no less.

And for what?

To lead a band of misfits and mental midgets so entangled in intra-party schisms and internecine warfare they couldn’t vote in unison on a motion to adjourn if the chamber was on fire.

To make matters worse, here’s a factoid. Of the 221 Republican House members in the last Congress, 139 voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. Sixty-two-percent! It was eight of 51 in the Senate for about 16-percent. Hardly raw material from which anything even approaching positive legislation can be expected.

Kevin McCarthy will not even come close to containing and managing his own GOP caucus in the House. As we saw him scurry about the Chamber, begging for votes, we could only imagine what he was giving away. Chunks of power of the Speaker’s office being proffered for short-term support. Little pieces of power lost to say nothing of his own self-respect. Forget that!

Ask McCarthy to define “service above self” and he’ll immediately say, “No. No, you’ve got that backwards.” “Service above Self,” by the way, is the motto several million people around the world profess as members of Rotary International. Wouldn’t expect Ol’ Kevin to know or even understand that.

McCarthy is kicking good people off committees and replacing them with grossly unqualified faces. Soon we’ll know which of his Party were able to bargain the shrewdest and which he’ll shunt off to House oblivion.

We’ll see cohort-in-crime, Jim Jordan, digging into the political and personal lives of last year’s January 6th Committee. He’s already pointing to Eric Swalwell and Adam Schiff as his chief targets and, given Jordan’s past at Ohio State University and in the GOP Caucus, you can expect the lowest-of-the-lowest witch hunts.

The questions that should be in the mind of any right-thinker is who will be “serving the people’s interest” and what those “interests” will be. It’s quite doubtful those will be the subjects of any “orderly” Republican gathering.

Again, the “angry mess” of Congressional Republican politics is a too-easy target for anyone watching our national trauma. We’ve seen the “worst-of-the-worst” play out on flat screens at home and the corner pub. From denouncements of acceptable political discourse to attempted bare-knuckled threats to a theatrically desperate attempt to gain personal political power, it’s been right in our faces.

It goes without much elaboration to say we have a Democrat in the White House and a slim, but working, Democrat majority in the Senate. Those are good things to act as keepers of the flame of democracy and to thwart dangerous legislation.

But, what of the rest of us? We pay for and expect a functioning three-legged stool of Constitutional government. The White House is O.K. for now. SCOTUS, which had been expected to be a showplace of Conservatism because of the nature of the President(s) who appointed the majority, is not always so. The U.S. Senate – one half of the Legislative branch – seems to be “in-check.”

At least for now, it’s just the U.S. House of Representatives we need be wary of. Oh, and McCarthy. And Jordan. And Biggs. And Taylor-Green. And Gaetz. And Rogers. And Boebert. And George Santos. And…players to be named later.

It’s going to be a rocky couple of years. Dangerous, at times, too. The inmates in the House cellblock will be in charge of things.

But, I’m looking down the line at 2024. Will we have people of character – strong character – stepping forward, trying to recapture sanity and decorum in that chamber? Or, will good, right-thinking folks look at the wreckage and say, “No, not me.” Like Katie Porter – one of the best in the House. She’s bailing out already to run for the Senate in California. Will others follow?

The “brain drain” is a real possibility. Unless Democrats and moderate Republicans make a concerted effort. A concerted effort to overcome the craziness, brazen ignorance and vile activities of a bunch of crazies being led by a true political narcissist.

There’s gonna be some tough sledding between now and November, 2024.

I covered the Idaho Legislature off and on from 1967 through 1978. Sometimes an interesting experience. More often than not, pretty dry and usual stuff.

Oh, there was that one time when, sitting at the press desk in the
Idaho Senate, the over-the-top pastor of the city’s largest Protestant denomination charged in late. He dropped his bowler, calfskin gloves, silk scarf and camel’s hair overcoat in my lap, reached for the pen in my hand to write an overdue opening prayer and said “God will bless you, my Son.”

Given that long-ago history, and not living in Idaho now, I haven’t paid much attention to legislative comings and goings.

But, catching up with the new cadre of usually mostly rural Idaho legislative folk in recent days, it appears not much has changed. You can always be sure they’ll do something to others they’ve railed against others doing to them. And, there’s always at least one voice suffering from public “foot-in-mouth” disease.

So, here we are at the beginning of just the second week and both “regularities” have already struck. In spades.

First, the “new-low-in-the-spoken-word.” Credit Republican Rep. Jack Nelson, of Jerome, with this barn-floor-scraping piece of wisdom.

When discussing with his “peers” matters of women’s health, Ol’ Jack stopped the conversation with this jewel during a meeting of the House Agriculture Committee.

Quote – I’ve milked a few cows, spent most of my time walking behind lines of cows. So, if you want some ideas on repro(duction) and the women’s health thing, I have some definite opinions. End Quote. Mercifully. Note, he said “repro.

Those are the kinds of spoken legislative expressions that keep Boise bars so busy when the “body” is in session. Regular “frog stranglers.”

Now, there’s that other always-present legislative prerogative of doing to others what they fear will be done to them. Rep. Bruce Skaug’s abortion-related bill is an excellent example. If said bill were to become law – and there’s some very valid arguments to oppose that – the State would withhold sales tax and other revenues that normally flow to the cities and counties. Revenues on which local governments depend. Life’s blood. The State would do so, if – IF – local governments would not investigate violations of- or not enforce-Idaho abortion laws/rules. Boy, howdy!

Skaug’s bill would amend a foul piece of 2021 legislative handiwork called the “No Public Funds for Abortions Act.” His bill, according to the author, would also target any local government that declares itself a “sanctuary” city or takes similar action.

Skaug said if cities are allowed to go unchecked on the subject of abortion, “We’re going to end up like Portland or Seattle and (see) the anarchy that has started to enter those cities.”

In my old days around the press room, we used to bet on which early bills – such as Mr. Skaug’s – would make it to the Governor’s desk. Were I there today, I’d bet “No” on this one. But, some bad bills – worse than this – have cost me some loose betting change.

From its earliest days, Idaho’s legislatures could always be counted on to hold to one precept. Looking upwards on the old federal government “food chain,” the constant has been “Don’t be telling us what to do when you give us your money.” Somewhere, in the bowels of the Capitol, I swear, those words – or something similar – are inscribed on a piece of faux marble.

The Idaho Legislature spends a lot of time on its hind legs flailing away at the perceived “evil” feds for such outrageous demands as “accountability” when dealing with the downwards flow of government money.

But, that same body sees no shame in putting strings all over a package of State dollars headed to cities and counties. Often, more like ropes.

It’s said only two things in life are certain: “death and taxes.” I would submit, for your consideration, an unqualified third: the Idaho Legislature. One: for outrageous quotes from supposed “wise” lawmakers. And, two: turning a blind eye to genuine double-think when it deals with dollars and lower levels of governments.

Was then. ‘Tis now. Seems it ever shall be.


Author: admin


We’ve made it out of 2022 alive. Somehow. So, here we are. Stepping off into 2023 with high hopes it’ll be a better 12 months. And, maybe it will.

After moments of resolution-making and reflection, have you given a thought lately to about how many of us there are in the old U.S. of A. as we enter a new cycle?

Folks at the U.S. Census Bureau have. They’ve been sifting through the huge stacks of data in the back room and have come up with an educated guess. Or two.

The first guess is a projection that 334, 233, 854 of us now take up residence border-to-border and coast-to-coast. That number has grown roughly 1,571,393 in the last 12 months.

Another piece of minutia from the Bureau. There is one birth every nine seconds and one death every 10 seconds. Net international migration adds about one new face every 32 seconds.

So, if you combine the number of births, deaths and international migration, we gain one person every 27 seconds. How ’bout that?

As for how many of us there are on the entire planet at the moment, that would be an estimated 7,942,645,086. And counting. Worldwide, the four-point-three births and two deaths each second.

The Bureau maintains a “Population Clock” which displays the simulated, real-time growth of both the U.S. and world head count. And, it’s constantly in motion. (You can keep a daily watch at www.census.gov/popclock.) There, you’ll see a moving headcount from birth to age 100, growth by male/female, the most populous and highest density states. You can also link to a world clock from that site with even more information.

If you localize things a bit, Washington State is largest in the Northwest with about 7,800,000 residents at the beginning of the year. Next comes Oregon with some 4,240,137 souls and Idaho is third with about 1,940,000.

But, it’s not the number of us that matters. No, we should be more concerned with how the enumerated behave. And, if you’ve been watching our newly elected members of Congress the last few days, the enumerated have been not only an international disgrace but they’ve shown a callous disregard for our national security. Forget decorum.

Whatever hollowed out, empty, worthless victory Kevin McCarthy surrounds himself with in his new Speaker’s Office, he’s made so many enemies – given up so much power formerly in that powerful position – created so much enmity and distrust with Representatives of both political parties – that he’s Captain of a rudderless ship.

The next 24 months are going to see nothing – n-o-t-h-i-n–g – of meaningful legislation. No coordinated efforts to address the needs of the citizenry, a political party devoid of direction, powerless to conduct even the most diminutive tasks and without vision or goals.

Whatever crackpot, personally vindictive and dangerous bills emanate from that severely damaged and diminished body will face a Senate and a President ready to fill the legislative ash can.

One-half of one-third of our Constitutionally created government is in chaos and totally disabled. The anger, the desire to payback and willingness to destroy another member’s work will haunt the hallowed halls of half our Congress for possibly years to come.

And Mr. McCarthy – like some wounded Captain Bligh – will have rendered one of the most powerful political offices of Congress – powerless.

There will be no legislative accomplishment count because of the Republican body count.

Happy New Year!