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Posts published in “Bond”

Keeping it in the pants

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

Collectively, we American homeowners and business owners owe the banksters about $13.2 trillion in debt. This includes the $10 trillion owed by people living in single-family homes.

This, in a banking system that charges 7 percent compound interest on money it pays no interest on. Since we cannot divide by zero, let's pretend the banksters are paying 1 percent to the U.S. Fed. That's a 700 percent mark-up.

Would you tolerate such a mark-up on a refrigerator, or a new truck or snow-machine? Of course not. But those of us locked into mortgages just have to buck it up.

And if the banksters drive your neighbour out of his home because of a lost job in this Great Recovery, watch these criminals drive your own property value down.

The banksters don't shovel the walks of these empty houses. They won't mow the lawns. They will not shovel the rooftops. They will let the pipes freeze to blow out in late winter. Their repossessed houses stink.

Truth be told, I'd rather have a couple of gang-bangers living next door to me than a Wells Fargo- or Chase Manhattan-owned house. At least the crankers shovel their sidewalks, even if it's at 3 a.m. with the boom-box pounding. (more…)

Good-bye, Dad

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

My father, Richard Milton Bond, slipped the hook this morning. Had he lived another month he would have been 94 but given his failing health, I would not have wished that on him.

The whole family, even we kids, called him Dickie and he never minded. He had a raucous laugh, an even greater sense of humour and greater than that, a spirit for adventure and a disdain for bullshite.

He had a pilot's heart and a disdain for common thinking. Linus Pauling taught him freshman chemistry at Cal-Tech, whence he transferred with the V-12 program to Berkeley, where he met my late mother, Patty, while both were on the student council.

Our family started in Santa Barbara, where Dickie got his advanced flying tickets on the GI Bill, then moved to Philadelphia where he worked for Ingersoll, the company that made Mickey Mouse watches (amongst many more important things), then to Great Falls, then Spokane, where he built our house, then back to San Francisco.

He found himself unwillingly embroiled in the California politics of Edmund G. Brown (Jerry's dad) at the Calor Gas Co. and took his fledgling family to the unknown town of Nanaimo, British Columbia, where he assumed the manager's job of the Vancouver Island Gas Company at a severe cut in pay and opportunity. This, all by the time I was six years old.

Vi-Gas, as it was known, was a marvel. It took barged-in natural gas from the Vancouver mainland, re-compressed it and shot it out through the local pipelines. One of Dickie's goals had been to build a gas pipeline from the mainland to the island, but the B.C. government, socialist at the time, wasn't having any of it unless one of its cronies could come up with an alternative. Nobody did.

But watching that gas plant with its giant turbines and pumps was a great joy to a little kid – plus there was a blackberry patch outside to die for in late summers.

Dickie taught me my love of flying. He had grown up on Stearmans and had access to, at various times, a Cessna 170, Cessna 180, Piper Comanche, and later, a Lake LA-4 amphibian, and he would always let me drive. Needless to say I dashed to flight school at a certain legal age. He also taught us how to drive boats and water ski at high speeds.

He was a stern son-of-a-gun, too, Marine that he was. Discipline was no further away than his fraternity paddle – which endured an untimely death when younger-brother Marc and I found where he hid it, and took it down to the beach over an open fire.

He laughed like crazy over our stunt, but promptly cut another one, used it, and it remains hidden to this day. (more…)

Journalism, whither?

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

It has been six months since a failed California carpenter,who has been hustling for public office in Shoshone County since the day he arrived, terminated my print newspaper career, aided and abetted by a clerk-typist. This, after more than 40 good years in the game exposing crooked people, ranting and raving, and other fun duties.

I never saw this sucker-punch coming and it still hurts and bleeds, and every day and night it makes me wonder if I deserved all the national, regional and state awards I have received from my peers. Oddly, I hold the son of the California carpenter, and the spouse of the clerk-typist, in high regard.

But whither?

Where will truth be spoken to power in our town? Who will give voice to an exhausted miner or a wrung-out Walmart clerk? The unions cannot do it; they've shot themselves in the foot, padded their executives' pockets and looted pension funds too many times.

Indeed, whither?

In my naivety, I believed newspapers would carry this load. They have not and will not. This is not about me. There are many far greater journos than I, but they're not working in the trade anymore, either. We are unemployable. 'You want the truth? You can't handle the truth." Lousy movie but a great line.

Again, whither?

Print is dead, and it's the only trade I've ever known. There is nothing like watching a block-long Goss or Cleveland press roll to a halt and the pressmen re-plate Page One at 11 o'clock at night with your story, the one you knew would rock the town and toss some bums out of office, and watch that baby fire back up.

The party is over. That's not a newspaper you're picking off the front porch in the morning, fuelled by the fire of young men and women who actually gave a damn about your town. It is a revenue-seeking device, counting upon your ignorance and absence of curiosity.

Once again, whither?

A short rant

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

Is this bugging anybody else?

The "news" networks devoted hours this week to the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery voting rights march, and devoted not one second to the 70th anniversary of the liberation, by the Russians, of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp, also this week.

This comment is not meant to belittle the courage and righteousness of the Selma marchers, or to whitewash the atrocities committed by the cops and racists on Pettus Bridge in Alabama.

Watching the Selma events on a grainy black-and-white TV from the comfort of Canada, I wondered what kind of a goofy country that place

(Nevermind that we gentle Canadians kept Natives and Chinese in their own ghettos in the 1950s; we never talked about such indelicate matters in grade-school. We just fretted about what the Yanks were up to.)

Selma resulted in one death, that of Jimmie Lee Jackson, shot in the back by a state trooper.

In Auschwitz, or by its Polish name Oświęcim, 1.1 million people were murdered by gas, starvation, exhaustion, bullets and other means

between 1942 and 1944. Not one person as in Selma: one million and one hundred thousand people -- a population about the size of Dallas

or San Diego. Ninety percent of them were Jews.

I've never been to Auschwitz nor do I care to, but once during a visit to Munich I ventured out to Dachau, which was the small-scale training model for the larger Nazi death camps to follow and killed a mere 32,000 during its 10-year run. Jews, Russians, homosexuals and

Jehovah's Witnesses comprised the casualties.

I was struck by how pretty it was: green grass, luscious flowers, nice, orderly brick-work buildings in a temperate climate. Just the place to take your family on holiday.

Dachau was where the Nazis perfected the gas chambers and ovens for Auschwitz.

By all means, if you're ever in Munich, go see Dachau. It looks so, gosh, normal.

Six or seven murders of civil rights proponents in this country in the 1950s and 1960s changed our whole way of thinking. We saw racism, from cops to bumpkins, at its naked worst.

Why do not six or seven million murders just 20 years earlier, also racially based, get our attention as well?

Crueler

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

T.S. Elliot, the great English poet, said in his epic The Waste Land, that April is the cruelest month. Being born in April, I have to wonder if he was right about that. March strikes me as crueler.

(A caveat to March. It was the month my wonderful mother was born until a few Octobers ago took her away from me.)

But March this year also marks the sixth month I have been banished from publishing in Hagadonia, even for free. I wrote for free, for years, just to give a voice to the miners up here – men and women too exhausted at the end of a long shift to put words to paper, but articulate nevertheless. All I did was take notes.

The miners and timbermen create the fat-cat economy people in Coeur d'Alene and Spokane and Seattle and Missoula enjoy. Burn up the saw-mills, pull down the headframes, your need to drive metal cars and live in wood houses prevails.

Coeur d'Alene offends me.

Rather than restore the fine old steamships that used to ply the lake, they burned them to the Plimsols and let them sink, to much hurrah. Louise Shadduck, a dearly-departed friend, wept. When Hagadonia acquired the Elizabeth, New Jersey, Daily Journal, one of its first moves was to haul 200 years' worth of newspaper archives to the garbage dump. This action against New Jersey's oldest newspaper led to a strike nobody wanted. I was there.

Whither history, then? From where comes the voice of the working man making history right now? Or is the working class beneath and above them an embarrassment to the putters at the Coeur d'Alene Resort?

On to my dearly-departed Mother. Patty was her name. She was graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, but as a kid all I knew was that she could stuff 50 kids into a 1955 station wagon and take us anywhere. She was a community organizer in the real, not presidential sense. She led me to believe that reading good books was the best thing I could do, and she helped me through the flash-cards we had to do for arithmetic.

Mom hosted a University Women's meeting every Wednesday at our house on Vancouver Island, and I would sneak down the stairs to listen to these elegant ladies discuss nuclear disarmament, Nevil Shute's “On the Beach,” Ike's deals with Tito and Kru. Mom turned me on to writers like Norman Maclean. She never quit giving.

We talked every week, up until the time she died. Her ending is too horrible to write about. Imagine a great big beached fish, flopping about on a hospital bed, unaware, and having to pull the plugs out of your best friend.

She gave me a love of literature, from sitting on her lap and reading Dickens, to some great authors and poets in later years that she sent me.

Enough of that. I am crying. And enough of Hagadonia. They wouldn't get it.

Not any more

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

Dear Friends,

Please don't, anymore, anyone, on FaceBook or in person, approach me with an article idea for the local newspaper.
I do not work for the Shoshone News-Press and never have. I can't help you. There is nothing I can do for you.

Whilst laying on a death-bed three years ago at Kootenai, I did propose to then-editor Dan Drewry that I might start penning a column about What Went Wrong. It would be an attempt to correct our vision.

Our shared thought was that there are three types of news, and all were wrong, and that you cannot average them. It was that old Einstein thing; you could plant your butt on a flaming-hot stove, and stick your feet into a bucket of ice. On average, you're comfortable. So much for averaging.

Seemed like a good idea, if you've sucked enough morphine and oxygen, to just try to get to the bottom of things. Our deal was, he kicked down a gallon of maple syrup every year from his family's farm, and I would write as I pleased. No editing (save for typos); take it or leave it. Dan, sumbitch that he can be, never broke that contract. (A newspaperman who can keep his word is one worthy of knowing.)

The Haw-haw news you get from KHQ or KXLY or KREM where everybody leaves the news desk giggling, even if a comet bigger than Jupiter just smacked one-fifth of the planet away and knocked it into Outer Space, film at 11. Ha-ha, great weather tomorrow, look at somebody saving this nice cow. Then at 5:30 is the corporate CBS/NC/ABC news, where Scott Pelly repeats what was on Drudge the day before, but with a pro-Obama White House spin.

Then comes 6 p.m. Let us review:

5 p.m. Local Ha-ha news. (That comet will be cute in the night skies. Tee-hee.)

5:30 Network corporate news. (This network is assured by the Administration that no Islamists were involved in this comet attack.)

6 p.m.: Government News (which is PBS). Gwen Ifill declares, “We are screwed.”

I'll take Gwen over every other hack in this business. And she works for the government news!

Meantime, and to wrap this up: I am not a contributor (for free or compensation) to the local newspaper. If you've got a personal problem, better buy an ad.

That is the new business model for newspapers, and it works. Every competitive newspaper I've ever fought for has failed. Salem, Seattle, Anchorage, Wallace, and a few others. There is honour in losing a good fight. Suck up to the advertisers, spin their thing, tell your staff that the price of Jet-A is just too much and he cannot afford to give you a Christmas turkey, and you might win a free boat. Not for this writer.

There are wounded Steelworkers, Iron Workers, hard-rock miners, loggers, beaten-up wives and state-hounded unemployed husbands, and the just-plain-screwed who need newspapers to give them a voice. Whence will their voices come?

A Christmas story

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

I have told this story every year since 1991 first because it happened, and second because there has to be someone else out there who can relate to it.

Christmas was the best kind of adventure for us kids. Growing up on the east coast of Vancouver Island, in a small coal-mining, fishing and pulp town, Christmas meant a blizzard-backed trip down-island over the Malahat Pass to Mecca, which went by the very English name of Victoria.

I cringe now at what the drive must have meant to my folks. It was like going over Camel's Hump in the dead of winter, packed with traffic. But to us kids it was plain high excitement.

I had been to Disneyland and I had been to Victoria. They did not compare. Disneyland had paper mache mountains and long lines, but Victoria had teak and brass, the Empress Hotel, the Crystal Gardens, the ship's chandlers, a wax museum and the roundabout.

It had also T. Eaton, Simpson-Sears, and the Hudson Bay Company, plus a place where you could buy Spode china, and a Wilson's, which meant pure English wool and tweed.

Most important to kids growing up in a one-storey town, Victoria had escalators and elevators. I realize that kids nowadays require a Mario Brothers distraction, but for Marc and me those moving stairs, and the little brass-trimmed rooms with the sliding doors that went up and down between floors, beat the socks off anything Disneyland had to offer.

Our parents parked us on the Hudson Bay Co. escalators, with a rendezvous time an hour later. Off they went to do serious Christmas shopping. So did we. This was my first big year for buying Christmas presents. I had dough. The source of my income was a newspaper route, which paid $4 per month. I had saved two months' pay. Serious cabbage.

Ditching my younger brother, I cruised the Hudson Bay Co. from basement to top floor. When you are 8 or so, and a boy, your mother is the most romantic figure in your life. I sought something for her so sweet and so feminine that she would remember my remembrance forever. Zeroing in on the perfume deck, a new world of love and excitement unveiled itself to me. I sniffed all the bottles and all the spritzes, and after a good half-hour's study, lit upon one. Its scent surpassed that of Butchart's Gardens in bloom, or even the elegant leathery odor of a Trans-Canada Airlines DC-3. It was sweet, wonderful: her. (more…)

Don’t screw it up this time

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

If one believes the polls, Republicans will take control of the U.S. Senate next week, and retain the House of Representatives.

For the Republic, this may or may not be a good thing. As astronaut Alan Shepard, Jr. famously prayed, muttering into his microphone, on the launch-pad of America's first space-flight in May of 1961, “Shepard, don't f**k this up.”

We've had six years of a Democratic Senate and White House and seen the horrors of their monopoly. Harry Reid has been the hockey goalie blocking debate. I get his emails. On the other hand, Republicans didn't behave much better under Newt Gingrich. Comity evaporated. The sensible consensus is that regardless of party we are governed by greed-heads.

They Rs better make good use of their time, and they've only two years to show their stuff.

Hello Senate Rs. Shove bill after bill onto Obama's desk, passed by both houses. They should include, among many other things, mandatory up-or-down votes on regulations adopted by federal agencies now run amok.

For our purposes here in the Coeur d'Alene Mining District, such review ought to include the EPA's tawdry interpretation of the Clean Water Act. While Congress specifically confined the agency's authority to the navigable waters of the United States, EPA bent the rules to give itself authority over every molecule of H2O in the U.S.

Examples of “mission creep” are rampant in nearly every branch of the U.S. government and need to be stopped. We've come a long way from Richard Nixon's Council on Environmental Quality to Jimmy Carter's lame-duck Superfund, which is now on v 2.0 and slobbering for an upgrade.

Sen. Mike Crapo, who is not up for re-election this year, was in town the other day. The evening before, we blew the froth off a few with one of his long-time staffers, a personal friend from newspapering days, at a local pub. We introduced the staffer around and asked the miners – not CEOs or managers, just the people who do actual mining – what they'd like of the Senator.

To a man (and woman) they said, “Get the EPA and MSHA (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) off our backs and let us do our jobs.” Again, these were not corporate guys. They were mostly union guys and one shift-boss.

The working men and women of this nation have woken up to the perils of Progressivism, which unfortunately some of their unions at the national level have not. The working people have discovered the annoyance of a bureaucrat, uneducated in the nuances of the craft they perform, peering over their shoulders, citation books and lawsuits in hand.

It didn't used to be that way. The early EPA guys, even from Region X, were engineers and scientists: decent people. The early MSHA inspectors were experienced miners. They've all been replaced by MBAs, pencil-pushers and busybodies.

A decade or so ago, we shared an afternoon wine with Paul Glavin, who was at that time head of the United Steel Workers union's Northwestern U.S. region. It was Paul, a true gentleman, who posited that labour and management had common cause against the federal government's agenda. It is our common enemy if we want jobs and prosperity, and labour and management had better start talking to each other about this. There is evidence that this conversation has begun. (more…)

Wal-Mart, zipperheads, Idaho Republicans

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Rant

Being a second-generation Republican – Dad served the 6th District of Washington State as an “R” in the House for many terms, and was deemed a “troglodyte” by that state's (also Republican) governor for his obstinance over raising taxes and his opposition to motorcycle helmet laws (“If the fools want to kill themselves, why is that our business?”) -- this is a tough thing to say:

We are pulling a straight Democrat lever come next month's county and state elections. Apologies to Butch and Lori Otter, who we respect and admire: If we thought our vote would matter we would throw it Butch's way. But the reality is that loonies are running the asylum, and it's time to kick the bastards out.

Never in Idaho politics has extremism so suffused Idaho's governance. The Religious Right ought to re-think its agenda. They're acting a lot like intolerant Muslims, and they are downright vicious. Toss 'em out.

There is so much cronyism going on in Shoshone County with this lot that your public profession for your love of Jesus Christ trumps your ability to run a calculator. If we may quote from the book of Matthew, it was Jesus himself who said:

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Once again, let's toss the Pharisees out. If we have to replace them with Democrats, sorry Dad, so be it.

On to Zipperheads, the rude bicyclists who infest our community in summer, buy nothing, and drive their bicycle-hauling Volvos and Priuses down Moon Pass at 50 miles an hour. Our column in the Shoshone News-Press was killed by an ex-Californian who is one of them. Forty years of reporting in northern Idaho silenced by this bozo, who has run for ever paying public office and never been elected.

We were feeling a tad chastened by this – maybe we got something wrong about these moochie, earth-loving humanoids – until breakfast this morning at the Snakepit on our way back from Spokane.

We were warmly greeted by the morning waitress who said, “We loved your column about rude bicycle riders.” Apparently, the Snakepit has to deal with these people every day, being a trail-head for the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes. All these cyclists want is free water from them. She points them to the cooler, where the bottled water is, at a buck a pop.

Lastly, on to Wal-Mart. It's a place everybody wants to pick on. Let us step aside from that noise. (more…)

Rituals

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Wallace St

Ritual is these days pretty much ignored or even despised, unless you're a gangsta wannabe who has to shoot a school-aged child to get yourself into the inner circle.

Ritual – the rite of initiation – used to be of great value to this country, at least to its male component. The rite of initiation used to humble us and make us human beings.

I can't claim to surviving Marine Corps boot camp training, as my father can. Nor did I attend the Air Force Academy, as my great kid brother did. But between initiation into Phi Delta Theta and a summer camp doing officer's boot with the USAF, I learned the lesson. Trouble is, the lesson has to be beaten into you.

One purpose of the rite of initiation is to grind you down and humiliate you beyond belief. In this age of artificially pumped up self-esteem, the “attaboy” for showing up for school once or twice a week even as you drool in a stoned stupor on your textbook, it's outright archaic.

Here's why the rite of initiation is not archaic: It turns wild young boys into human beings.

How does this happen?

Your masters, whether military NCOs and officers, or the seniors of your college fraternity, beat the living crap out of your ego. You are, at the end of weeks of physical exhaustion, forced to turn to some guy you never liked and beg him for help. And, funny thing is, he needed your help, too, and so did the chap next to you.

I will give a simple example, from a Phi Delt initiation. We pledges were placed in a circle and forced to do curl-ups until we were all about ready to croak, wearing buckets containing onions about our necks for a week. Not a dandy way to pick up girls from sorority row.

Hours and hours of this, after days of no sleep and all the time being screamed at. We could do no more curl-ups.

Then, one-by-one, a consciousness spread among us. The big asshole Hawaiian football player grabbed my arm and helped me do one more pull-up. By instinct I grabbed the guy on my left, whose name I cannot remember, and grabbed him up, and the three of us got ourselves up, and within the space of a minute we were all of us in that circle, arms locked, together, nobody better than anybody else. It wasn't about me anymore. It was about us, and we could do curl-ups together all night long.

At that moment, we got “it.” We were liberated spirits because we had become united. Ain't nobody better than anybody else. Some went on to greatness and built great things. Others became street bums, legislators or journalists.

It doesn't matter, because the rite of initiation gave us all the same starting line and, I believe, the same humility and sense of humanity. It is a rite sadly missing.