Writings and observations

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Whatever the outcome of today’s too-close-to-call voting, there will be one decisive (and deserving) loser: the main-stream media, or the press as we used to call it.

One of the most common of all those Wikileaks hacks has been the obvious and obscenely incestual relationship between the Democratic Party machine and the corporate media. It is far more grotesque a thing than any of the contemptible things Donald Trump has said or that Bill Clinton has actually done.

As a marginally Republican print reporter in newsrooms large and small across this country, that incest was always obvious to me. Being in the minority, I could not expect to loudly object and keep the paycheck rolling in at the same time.

But now it’s out there. The “new media” grew out of this great divide. The “new media” has certainly produced its batch of kooks, but they are, on balance, no kookier than Dana Milbank or Bob Schieffer or Judy Woodruff — or the editorial board of the New York Times.

Be it Trump (who likely wins the popular vote) or Billary (who looks to win the electoral college) comes out on top, the loser certainly will be the 3-network, two-newspaper media that has been carving our political culture for the past 75 years.

There was, perhaps, a consensus that they could be trusted — not to be balanced but least conscious of their prejudices and diligent in their search for some sense of truth.

Truth’s a hard thing for anyone who is not a physicist to grasp, and their own professional duty is scepticism.

Try covering a murder trial sometime. By the time the prosecution’s done, you’re persuaded the guy in the dock did it, and viciously. Then, after the defence is done, you’re sure he was in church in another state, teaching Sunday School.

Reporters used to be conscious of their own limitations in this regard, in finagling some sense of truth out of a steaming pile of bullshit. Not, for three decades, have they considered such their civic duty. I blame the prissy wannabes of Nixon and Woodstein.

I hope the Wikileaks reports have made a credible closing argument to the jury.

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It was the bottom of the second inning of the second game of the National League playoffs, Cubbies v. the Dodgers. Adrian Gonzalez slammed in a single-run homer, the only run of the entire nine innings.

This, Mike and me, we learned afterwards. While Gonzalez worked his magic, we were gazing at the Suddenlink blue screen of death in Mike’s living room. Error No. XXXXXX, please wait a few moments for the channel to return. At 1715 and 1730, Suddendeath repeated its message. Please, just wait a moment.

Cell phone calls ensued.

We were informed that Customer Service was closed for the weekend. Tried Suddenlink tech support, which reported after numerous pushed buttons that Mike was not subscribed to the channel – which he’d been watching all season and is paying for.

Anyone, and I mean everyone, who is a subscriber to Suddenlink, nee Cebridge, nee Cablevision, is a blithering idiot. As the blue screen of death refreshed itself with yet another blue screen of death, Mike demanded, over the telephone, a name and an address to whom he could lodge a complaint, and promised a call to the Better Business Bureau as well.

They gave him an address, no personal name, just a P.O. box in Houston. Mike will no doubt write a nasty letter to them, but good bloody luck. It will not get to the right person.

When the Zanettis created Cablevision, which began with a big receiving antenna up top of Burke to catch the four channel signals issuing intermittent service from the stations in Spokane it was a Good Thing. They wired-up those of us down in the gulches, it was a local operation and a noble enterprise. God bless ‘em. We finally got TV here in the mining camp.

Suddenlink is neither local nor noble anymore. The Zanettis sold their co-ax-wired system years ago. There is, such as it is, still an office in Osburn, about 5 miles west of Wallace, where reside a few trucks whose main duty (this, honest to God, from one of their own servicemen) is to disconnect pissed-off customers who have gone to a dish or Frontier’s (nee Verizon’s) DSL.

When Cebridge/Suddenlink was the only game in town, I was getting download speeds slower than dial-up. Not always, but frequently enough that I had their techy supporters on speed-dial.

When Verizon, now Frontier, started offering DSL as competition to Suddendeath, I snatched the deal and with the odd (semi-annual, at worst) outage, they’ve not let me down. Happiest day of my life was when I called up Cebridge/Suddenlink) and said, “Get your shit out of my house and don’t waste a stamp asking me back onto your system, no matter the discounts. I wouldn’t take your service again for free.” Some guy in California yawned and said, OK.

Anyone who feels loyalty to Suddenlink because of the Zanettis’ pioneering efforts to stream visual media into this mining camp needs to have their head held underwater until the bubbles stop.

I marvel at the stupidity of the Wallace powers-that-be who continue to enable Suddendeath’s screw-job on the city. When my friend, who is connected to this user-unfriendly city-mandated system, needs to do a major download or upgrade, she brings the computers home rather than wait all night on no salary.

Mike’s letter to Houston will never get to its intended source, because Suddenlink’s American corporate P.O. box is actually in St. Louis, not the Houston address he was given.

And writing St. Louis won’t do any good, either. Cebridge/Suddenlink is in reality a European company and headquartered in Belgium and Switzerland under the aegis of the Altice Group LLC.

Having endured Suddenlink’s voice-mail hell, Mike and I repaired to the Metals Saloon and watched the remainder of the game on satellite. A couple of hits, no runs and no errors, but the Rainier was in handy supply and Tracey’s service was as always, superb. Which is a helluva lot more than you can say about Suddendeath.

Think you’re dealing with a local company? Wait. I can still see your bubbles. Keep thinking. Don’t ya love globalism?

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Facebook is a handy tool, but this apparent expression of favouritism towards a particular candidate or political party has put them over the line. I am going to give myself a few days to decide whether or not to close my account. I am leaning towards bagging it. Yes, FB will no doubt have unrestricted access to my Permanent Record, but at least Billary won’t be reading my posts anymore.

My closest friends have my email address; others can PM me theirs while my account is still active, and I will add them to my email address book and return the favour. We can stay in touch that way.

The media are in a titanic struggle to remain in control of the American mind. They are sacrificing everything – credulity, credibility, honesty, decency, dispassionate discourse, competence – to cling to a power they have enjoyed since FDR’s times.

It appears the social media is following suit.

Mainstream media can’t even compound interest rates. Ask a reporter what the Rule of 78s is.

They don’t understand our tax laws, the laws of physics, the multiplication and/or division of percentages, or even basic arithmetic.

Ever since Woodward and Bernstein they have enjoyed a celebrity status no more deserving than that of a Kardashian or Paris Hilton. The aspiring journalist cloyingly seeks this celebrity.

The bare-knuckled street-fighter who lives in a cold-water walk-up has replaced by a pampered, overpaid and sucked-up-to flock of unshaven sheep oblivious to the price of milk and hamburger.

Journalism and profession do not belong in the same sentence. Professionals are certain scientists, MD’s, or even tugboat skippers. There are no entry credentials to become a journalist – save for looks and a lust for power.

(An old drinking buddy from the Seattle Times used to rant, “‘Journalist’ is just another word for an unemployed reporter!”)

All this celebrity and grandiosity will be lost to them in the unlikely event that Billary loses her presidential bid, and they are fighting like rabid cobras to keep that from happening.

Sorry FB had to join in the fray. But at least, and for a little while longer, in America I can vote with my feet.

Selah.

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OK, I admit this happened just once, and I don’t fly very often anymore and I expect airport service to suck. But changing air-planes at Sea-Tac airport in Seattle was an eye-opener.

After a very rough flight down from Vancouver Island I was hungry and thirsty. Sat down at Wolfgang Puck’s at SEA, plopped open a book, and awaited service.

Forty-five minutes later a waiter appeared — the place was not busy. I can understand busy, having once been a hash-slinger and barkeep myself.

(Rules to food- and beverage-service people: If you’re swamped, at least just make eye contact with your unattended arrivals. We are a patient lot but dammit, let us know you know we’re there.)

None was forthcoming and they were not very busy. Forty-five minutes after my 45-minute wait to place an order, which was not complicated, nothing had arrived nor had any further eye-contact even be made.

The woman sitting next to me endured the same experience — again at the classiest restaurant in the Seattle airport.

My flight was called so 45 minutes later I had to leave, having awaited an hour and a half to be fed. So no meal, no service, and bloody-well no tip nor $15/hour. You got nothing, except someone to sue. I’ve had far kinder treatment in Paris.

Now the remaining few earning $15/hour for service work are asking for a reduction in their hours so they don’t lose their welfare and subsidised housing. Jesus H.!

I never again will visit a Wolfgang Puck’s venue, nor will I buy one of his products off the grocery shelf, which are also now quite over-priced. I wonder how many college-hungry kids might like those jobs at Sea-Tac, for $10 an hour or even $7.50, just so they could advance their lives.

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The biggest win in yesterday’s Idaho primary election was Carl Crabtree’s toppling of the Sherry Nuxoll juggernaut, and down with Nuxoll went Shannon McMillan.

Crabtree’s win was skinny, just a couple of hundred votes, but that’s why we vote. Priscilla Giddings’ triumph over Shannon was decisive, and God bless Priscilla.

Fare-thee-well to the crazies. Good bloody riddance. It means that as we once opposed the Aryan nations and won, we can also beat the also out-of-state Idaho Freedom Foundation. These creepy outfits invade Idaho’s small population and occasionally pull one off, but we are Idahoans and we fight back.

My fear is that having won the good fight, we’ll go hit the couch again until some other annoying and poisonous pestilence re-invades – and we will react too late, as we have done in the past. It’s our nature.

It is time to get out of the feathers and go to those miserable rubber-chicken dinners again, and raise Hell.

What finally killed the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s candidates’ candidates? I have McMillan’s last mailing she sent, via snail mail here. She was against Roe v. Wade, supports the 2nd Amendment, supports state land claims against the federal government. These are all federal issues over which even the 10th Amendment even gives credit and states no control. The IFF went too far. They are not us. Time to kick them to the curb.

Good riddance, IFF. Go back to California, and if Dick Butler’s still alive, snuggle up. You’re done here.

For the rest of us, meet Carl Crabtree. He’s the first of the new good guys and actually gives a shit.

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RIP

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Thinking of a lost friend. Robert Hopper, RIP.

When you got to know him, he preferred Robert to Bob. When you didn’t know him well, he would answer the phone as “Bunker Hill, Bob Hopper speaking.” Which, the way he tossed it out, sounded like “Fuck Your Mother” in Russian.

I always accused Robert of having a Bolshevik streak in him and he never denied it. You should’ve heard his stories about growing up in Flint, Mich. He was such a tough SOB his parents sent him off to reform school. And that was one tough company town.

Robert hacked around Alaska, Nevada, central and western Washington, doing everything from digging ditches for wealthy mine-owners to painting bridges with red-lead paint. Between injuries he suffered mining and driving long Nevada roads he was in pain all the time we knew him, but he rarely talked about it.

I would take 10 more minutes with Robert than a month with Albert Einstein. Robert and I became friends when we broke out into a discussion of over which was better for the desert island: Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, or Roger and Me. And then, whether it was smarter to use ether or WD-40 on a balky Diesel. We actually agreed on that one. WD-40 is easier on the heads and valves than a straight bang of ether. (Name its secret ingredient and win a free glass of ice-water.) He also knew how to keep a lead-acid battery alive for centuries. I’d learned the same, from an old Scotsman 50 years ago. Answer that question and I owe you a beer.

Good Lord, do I miss that guy. We could get so ferocious and feisty, then land laughing at ourselves, all in the space of a few minutes. RIP, my friend Robert.

My only regret is that the people of Kellogg never knew the giant that was in their midst. Robert and a pair of partners bought the Bunker Hill because, to this rough-cut kid, it was “the shining city on the hill.”

Even from Flint, that meant something.

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To the Editor:

I must take particular umbrage at James L. Baker’s letter to the editor of the Shoshone News-Press published on 24 March of this year, in which he inveighs against the rising cost of necessities and the diminishing returns from his social security account.

How parochial!

Does not Mr. Baker consider the sacrifices of our Elected Leaders, who set the social security pay rate, along with regulating everything from the costs of car insurance to electricity? (They’ll get around to setting the price of firewood, so this writer is told, as soon as the timber conglomerates can calculate a sufficiently lucrative mark-up and present a bill to Congress.)

Our beloved Members of Congress have sacrificed far greatly than you, Mr. Baker. They haven’t had a raise since 2009! They receive their base pay of $174,000 per year along with free hair-cuts and pedicures, medical care, and travel in the front cabin of the airline of their choice, unless they are in Leadership, whereupon they get their own airplanes. And they haven’t gotten a pay raise since – except for the 1 percent they just got and the extra $2,800 a year ($233 a month) they will get commencing in 2017.

I would love a $233 per month boost in my social security, Mr. Baker, just as much as you. However, our pay is frozen as are theoretically the salaries to Congressmen. But as long as our Congressmen are suffering free haircuts and free full-coverage medical care, and one million dollars’ salary every seven years, I am happy to endure the sacrifice the rest of us must make on their behalf.

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So even before Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Anton Scalia is cold in the ground, lines are being drawn over his replacement.

Scalia was a self-described “originalist” in interpreting the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In other words, he sought to apply what the founders intended in the context of their times. Just in terms of the Second Amendment, “well-regulated” militia did not mean regulation in the way we perceive the word. Clocks have regulators; it meant well-trained and reliable, not regulated-by-the-government.”

Kinda like when Hamlet told Ophelia to “get thee to a nunnery.” If you pull out a real Oxford English Dictionary and study the etymology of Shakespeare’s time, “nunnery” did not mean a convent. It was English slang back then for “whorehouse.” Changes the whole meaning of the joke. That’s “originalism.”

We will not have another “originalist” the likes of Scalia on the Supreme in our times. Italians aren’t part of the perpetually indignant and offended identity politics of the Progressive era who need pandering to. They just work, think, build and invent stuff: not qualifications necessary or desired for high office. Scalia prevailed over an egregious decision having to do with death row cases – depriving post-trail exculpatory evidence of consideration during appeals – but on balance he held the court to weather.

No, the next appointee will be an LGBT/disenfranchised/victimized irritated type with an Ivy League law degree. There are, one is sure, decent folks even amongst this ilk, but even were Obama to break stride and appoint, say, Jesus Christ, juris doctor, for the job, the GOP would obstruct it. So it is business as usual in Washington, D.C.

But since identity politics is sure to frame the appointment, why not appoint a Native American? As I mentioned in a brief brain-fart the other day on Facebook, surely no more disenfranchised and screwed-over population exists in this country than the American Indian.

All nine Supreme Court seats are occupied by lawyers but there is no Constitutional mandate that a High Court member has to have a law degree. Surprised? I was, too. Non-lawyers have served in that high office before, the last being Stanley Reed, who was appointed to Supreme Court Justice in 1938 and served until 1957. He never held a law degree, although he was admitted to the bar. Robert H. Jackson joined the High Court in 1941, retiring in 1954 without ever having obtained a law degree, although he did attend one year of law school at Albany.

Nor is there a minimum age: the legendary Joseph Story took his place on the Supreme Court at the tender age of 32, back in 1811.

The Constitution in fact specifies neither age nor professional minimum requirements to serve on the High Court. So why are fat-cat juris doctorates (left or right) the only possibility for nomination these days?

One answer lurks in the composition of the United States Congress. Lawyers comprise the single largest voting block in the Congress: 43 percent. Sixty per cent of U.S. Senators are lawyers; 37.2 per cent of House members are attorneys.

This is not a new problem.

According to Legal Reform Now, “Since the time of de Tocqueville (1841), students of American government have noted the over representation of lawyers in American politics (se e.g., Hyneman 1940; Hurst 1950; Matthews 1954, 1960; Schlesinger 1957; Derge 1959; Eulau and Sprague 1964; Keefe and Ogul 1989: 117-18). And it seems that the more important the political office, the more lawyers who occupy that office.”

What seems to have changed is the nature and motivations of lawyer-congressmen. Continues Legal Reform’s analysis:

“With the large number of lawyers descending on Washington in the 1970’s to enforce newly passed civil rights laws in an increasingly liberal culture, the goal of lawyers changed from doing good to simply increasing their power and influence. And in a very short time their income too.

“As in many other aspects of our society there was a change from meeting one’s public responsibility to attempting to enrich oneself. Even at the expense of one’s fellow citizens.

“In To Kill a Mockingbird [Harper Lee, RIP] Gregory Peck played Atticus Finch, a white lawyer using a rifle to defend a black man’s life by blocking the entry to a jailhouse door. That was in the 1930s. How many lawyers today would do the same to defend an individual’s right to justice? Very few.”

Maybe the one physicist, the one microbiologist, the one chemist, or one or two of the eight engineers (all in the House, with the exception of one Senator who is an engineer), or one or two of the
29 farmers, ranchers, or cattle farm owners (four in the Senate, 25 in the House) or the two almond-growers and two vintners serving might have the testicular fortitude to take up arms against the genuine evils depicted by Harper Lee or Mark Twain. The lawyers in Congress? They’d cop a plea bargain for their bigot and collect their fee.

But I digress. Scolding greed-head lawyers in Congress and their increasingly pernicious presence in the press is like shooting fish in a barrel. But it is time we rid ourselves of this time-honored tradition of lawyers selecting lawyers to govern us.

Lawyer Obama should consider a Native American tribal elder to replace Scalia, pedigreed or not in the rubber-stamp of law school. That would appeal to his identity politics and quiet down the Republicans. My friend Lisa Reimers of the Iliamna Village on Bristol Bay in Alaska would be an elegant choice. She knows the consequences of unilateral EPA actions. Or if it has to be a lawyer, Howard Funke of Idaho, of the Sho-Ban Tribe, who fought and won the Swan Falls Dam case for Indians and migratory fish.

You’ve had eight years to do something right, Mister President. Here is your chance. Appoint a wise Native.

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Why I’m quitting writing about mining:

First and foremost, I’ve lost interest. I find tube hi-fi much more interesting.

Second, I have been connived and fooled by the best in the business and passed this tomfoolery off to my readers. 

Justin Rice and the Russell Brothers took me and many friends into near-bankruptcy on the Azteca Gold project up Two-Mile just northeast of Wallace. I republished many of their lies and I am ashamed of it. I trusted them. Their lies seemed true at the time.

Secondly, I’ve been hauled into federal court involving a lawsuit between shareholders and Bob Genovese over a mine I wrote about, the Liberty Silver Trinity silver property near Lovelock Nevada. I still think it’s a good prospect, discovered by US Borax and heavily and positively reviewed by a respected mining evaluator, SRK, but after my writing a positive article the stock tanked and the longs lost, well, their shorts and have dragged me into their shit. Never owned a share of Liberty. I did lose $7,000 on Justin’s gambit, long after I wrote about it, and I could probably sue Justin for his lies, but really, why sue because I’m stupid or gullible. Maybe Ralph Nader could knock some sense in to me.
Whatever happened to, You pays your money and you takes your chances? Ain’t that the American way?

Capitalism is by nature creative and destructive. What do we taxpayers owe the buggy-whip makers for going out of business because of the auto mobile, which did not require horses? Precisely nothing. But then in steps the modern federal government, to sue Henry Ford for buggy-whip-maker damages. This latter mind-set prevails today and it’s why your kids can’t read. But that’s another rant.

I am not abandoning in spirit the hard-rock miners for what they do, which if you think about it, is magnificent. But having been conned twice, and having passed along bad advice, it’s time to move on. And I have some very precious vacuum tubes I need to sell.

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When, unless you were in the Armed Services, were you ever “COMMANDED” to do anything?

I don’t think even bully policemen use such phraseology.

But when a biped who managed his or her way through law school, then sucked up to enough political turds to become a Federal – or might one say, Feral – Judge, is allowed to COMMAND(ED) our behaviour, something is wrong.

Weather un-permitting, to show up and testify at a Federal Hearing in which one does not have a dog in the fight and for this, one is recompensed the federally-ordered princely sum of $20 per day, disregarding gasoline, oil, tire wear and the major trauma of driving 120 miles through an Idaho blizzard to comply.

Civic duty my ass.

Coupla rich bastards suing some other rich bastards, and I have to be a witness for them?

For $2.50 an hour?

I tried to beg off, given the weather and the 20-year-old nature of our car, but such was not to be.

It would inconvenience the $500-an-hour lawyers who flew in to Spokane the night before and whined about the 30 miles of flat roads they had to endure in their knock-new and fully or doubly reimbursed rental cars from the airport to their comfy hotel rooms?

As meantime we were scraping ice off the windshield and shoveling snow just to get out of the driveway, just hoping not to die on Fourth of July Pass courtesy of some relocated Californian in his or her brand-new 4-wheel drive, which we all know are invincible in Idaho weather.

Does this invasion of my sentient human rights make me a Tea Partier? No. Those poor people have been duped into thinking that anything Idaho does affects the Constitution of the United States. Gun control? Abortion? And an Idaho takeover of federal forest lands – as if you could pay for it. Nope. Talk to your federal Congressman. Meanwhile, let your school children starve until God provides. Shame on you.

Does it make me a Republican? Nope, for the reasons listed above. You Rs became one and the same with the Toilet Paper party. Cowards, the lot of you.

Does it make me a Democrat? Even a Shoshone County, Idaho Democrat? Nope. You back a national party that would shut down mining, logging and any other leg-up a working person might need. Your magical minimum wage stunt has just created computers to replace them and now all those hopeful kids are out of work. Splendid effort on behalf of the working man.

So who’s left? Ronald Dump with his hair-trigger on the nuke button? No way, no matter how much Putin likes him.

Sure looking for advice here. Meantime, I don’t need no stinking lawyer-judges.

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