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Posts published in “Rainey”

Verbal ignorance

rainey

There’s a word being tossed around in politics and the media lately. You see and hear it a lot. Trouble is, when most often used these days, that use is almost always wrong.

As Inigo Montoya said in “The Princess Bride,” “I do not think that word means what you think it means.”

The word is treason.

It’s usually hurled at someone or some political act. Treason. Treasonous. Or any derivation thereof.

Right here, right now, let’s get it straight.

My good ol’ Webster’s puts it this way: “The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family.”

Or, if you’d rather, let’s take it straight from the U.S. Constitution. Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.” Period.

Unless you can define the actions of anyone who’s been in the news over the last couple of years, using those two definitions of treasonable acts, the word doesn’t apply. Again, period!

The demagogue in the White House - our White House - throws the word “treason” around to apply to almost anything he doesn’t like. His senior staff - of disreputable character - applies the word regularly, most often to Democrats.

While it’s easy - and accurate - to fault politicians for their improper use of the word, it’s most offensive when used by someone in the national media.

Treason is serious business. Too much of what passes for politics these days isn’t always as serious. We’ve bastardized so much of our language and dangerously cheapened meanings of important, descriptive words so someone tosses out “treason” to describe someone else’s words or actions when it can’t possibly apply.

Our dysfunctional President is the worst offender. He’s used the word “treason” in an attempt to embarrass or demean any Democrat-of-the-moment or Robert Mueller, Jeff Sessions and dozens of miscreants on his list of “incorrigibles” and “traitors.”

In my four score lifetime, there were three prominent people whose actions could legitimately be described as treasonous to this nation Two were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed in the ‘50's for spying.
The other was a woman nicknamed “Tokyo Rose” who was convicted of making propaganda broadcasts to American servicemen in the Pacific during World War II.

Her real name was Iva Toguri D’Aquino. Though several Japanese women made broadcasts using the name “Toyko Rose,” Toguri was the only one brought to trial in this country. Gerald Ford pardoned her in 1977.

There’s a reason our miscreant president used the word “treason.” He has no idea what the word means. If he did, he’d stop using it. But, to him, it’s just a word that sounds serious and demeaning so he babbles away. And the media goes along.

Seems to me, if your profession is to speak or write the English language, you damn-well better know how to use it.
 

The Buckeye census scam

rainey

Reading endless statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau can be pretty boring. I get most of the government output because, once in a while, there’s a story hidden in the numbers.

So it is with “The Buckeye scam,” as I call it.

We live in an Arizona community of retired folks numbering about 90,000. Some 15 miles away to our Southeast is Phoenix, county seat for Maricopa County, fastest growing county in the country. About 20 miles Southwest of us is Buckeye, Arizona, fastest growing city in the country. So says the Bureau.

But, if you know the landscape hereabouts, you’ll discover the real Buckeye growth story isn’t in the numbers. It’s really in the local government overreach. And the mileage.

Buckeye is a small, old, relatively isolated town. A couple of big farm equipment dealers, a fertilizer plant and a few large farms break up the flat desert landscape. Lots of very old, one-story houses, many without air conditioning and a lot of ’em pretty rundown. Also, lots of small farm worker houses. The town site has maybe 4,000 people. Maybe.

But, 18 nearly barren miles due North is Verrado, a relatively new, largely self-contained subdivision of about 17,000 people surrounded by desert. Down the center, a lush, multi-lane main drag with large eucalyptus trees on both sides and a lot of very green grass with many hundreds of floral plantings. None of which were there before the place was built. A manmade oasis.

Verrado central area - such as it is - is much like an old Mexican town with a tree-covered main square and small, mostly windowless shops behind white stucco walls on about half a block. Boutique shopping. No neon signs. Narrow residential streets with old replica lighting.

Main part of the village is row after row of - what else - two and three-story row houses. Small, lush, green lawns and more flowers and shrubs, many not native to Arizona. No garages can be seen. Golf carts parked everywhere. And, of course, a beautifully-kept, championship golf course with manicured greens and fairways.

About a mile away is the rest of Verrado. Mostly multi-story, single family houses on neatly kept, narrow streets. A mile East is the new high school, a huge, multi-story, brick edifice surrounded by several types of sports fields with, again, lush green grass.

That’s Verrado.

Now, 33 barren, desert miles due North of Buckeye (remember Buckeye?) Dell Webb’s Sun City Festival, a fast-growing, somewhat isolated community of about 27,000. Single-family housing on the East side of the main drag and 55+ retired on the West side. Well-kept golf courses on the retired side with water amenities and lots of palm trees. A few years ago, nothing there. Not one thing. Just more seemingly endless, flat, cactus-covered desert. Now, seemingly endless construction

No commercial businesses in Festival. Just a Shell station near the main entrance. It’s 12 long desert miles to the nearest civilization for groceries, health care and other shopping. And, again 33 desert miles from Buckeye.

“So what,” you ask? “What’s your point, Rainey?”

The point is this. All of the above - all of it - is Buckeye, Arizona. Go back and look at the mileage distances again. And, the old City of Buckeye furnishes no discernable services i.e. water, sewer, fire, law enforcement. In fact, Buckeye has no law enforcement!

From downtown Buckeye to Verrado is 18 miles North. And to Festival, another 15 miles due North above Verrado. All flat, barren desert between. But, it’s all the “city” of Buckeye!

Suppose you live in Pocatello, Idaho. You decide to annex like Buckeye has. Well, you go South to Lava Hot Springs, and Inkom, North to Blackfoot, West to Arco, Aberdeen and American Falls. Now you’ve got Pocatello - “fastest growing city” in Idaho.

Or, maybe you live in Forest Grove, Oregon. Again, your city council decides to annex Carlton, McMinville, Wilsonville, Kaiser, Dallas and Woodburn out near I-5. “Fastest growing city” in Oregon.

That’s our Buckeye! The U.S. Census Bureau calls it “the fastest growing city in America.”

Around these parts, Stranger, we call it, “the Buckeye fraud.”
 

An education con job

rainey

Perhaps the biggest shame being perpetrated in our national K-12 public education system is “teaching to the test.”

The most significant reason for its existence is tied to how education is funded. Higher rates of student success equals more dollars for some school districts. And more students passing exams in the classroom, in too many instances, supposedly means a better school. Both “truths” are riddled with flaws.

Teachers complain about “teaching to the test.” Parents complain about it. Students trying to learn don’t like it. But it’s an ever-present fact in the business of public education.

My spouse of nearly three decades is a master teacher who, though “retired” for 20 years, is still teaching teachers. But, instead of the classroom, she teaches internationally on the I-Net for two universities. Let’s just say, her public education credentials are in good shape.

We’ve had many a discussion at our house about the product our K-12 schools are turning out. In the beginning, I faced some opposition for my feelings of systemic educational failure. In the beginning.

But recently, as my teacher-spouse began to get more involved in her ‘round-the-world instruction, she also started paying more attention to national affairs. Partly because of interactions with teachers in other countries talking about how politics affected their educational experiences and partly because of her own curiosity.

I’ve watched her education views evolve as she began her graduate level teaching some 18 years ago. Initially, she brought only her own long-time experiences. Soon, however, hundreds and hundreds of interactions with teacher-students, and their experiences internationally, began to affect her outlook. There aren’t a lot of similarities between Meridian, Idaho, and Ho Chi Minh City, Antwerp or other worldly locations on her student rosters.

Barb works with hundreds of teachers a year. She gets a tremendous amount of feedback from her “students” who work in all sorts of environments. One of the continuing threads is teacher disgust with “teaching to the test.”

Instead of using the skills of trained professionals to excite, motivate and engage kids, much of the classroom time is dedicated to mandatory test passage. What a waste.

For anyone thinking these complaints are ill-founded, here’s just one sentiment - from a fifth grade teacher in Oklahoma - Barb received.

“We also overlook the factors teachers can’t control. I have two students who are homeless. I have one who’s been in and out of a mental institution all year long. Another who arrived from Mexico the day of the test who did not speak English but still was required to take the state reading and math exams. Two others had a parent die this year - one from a gunshot that happened in her house and the other while the parent was committing a robbery. I had a fantastic young man who went home to find his mother passed out with a needle hanging from her arm and had to call the police. Sometimes, passing a test is not the priority for all students.”

If you think that’s extreme, you should read more of the other feedback Barb gets on a daily basis.

“Teaching to the test” is a waste of not only time but of the classroom environs to actually to create a better, smarter, more well-rounded citizen. It also diverts teachers motivated to teach from accomplishing what should be done and dilutes use of their talents school systems desperately need.

Our existing national education requirements are rife with other examples of how the “rules” actually work against the desired learning experience. Teachers, hamstrung by them, have precious little time to actually teach. As a result, many quit to pursue other careers.

What results is the system loses talented, motivated, eager people who chose the difficult path of teaching because they thought they could make a difference.

Our national public education efforts need to be overhauled in so many ways. For years, we’ve thrown more and more dollars into it, expecting to “buy” better results. Politicians and bureaucrats combined their lack of classroom experience to create educational conditions that, too often, are doomed to fail. “Teaching to the test” is one con game they created.

That Oklahoma fifth grade teachers is one voice that needs to be listened to. Classroom teachers like that need to be given the opportunity to help create a system that might - just might - succeed.
 

Mex-pat

rainey

Odd word, isn’t it? It’s used by some to describe people from other countries who become full time residents of Mexico.

We have friends who’re “Mex-Pats” and we recently flew down to their “home city” of Chapala in the State of Jalisco. Chapala is a two-and-a-half hour flight Southeast of Phoenix so we figure it to be about a thousand miles.

Chapala is a typical Mexican town. No high-rises like PuertoVallarta, Mexico City, Cancun or any other major spot. Tallest building we saw was a three-story home.

What we experienced in Chapala was about as close to the real Mexico as you can get these days. Very old with cobblestone streets to rattle your teeth. Cement and stone construction in nearly all buildings. Narrow streets with narrow sidewalks, very small commercial businesses and a central plaza near a Catholic Church built in 1749.

Anyone who talks about “lazy Mexicans” has never spent time in a real Mexican community. Everywhere we went - and I mean everywhere - people were working. From the larger businesses to the guy outside the church we attended who was selling many varieties of washed fresh fruit out of a cardboard box - everyone was busy. We saw no indications of homelessness, no panhandlers anywhere we went. And we went just about everywhere in Chapala.

We passed a street crew of about eight men digging out an old water line. Not three working and five watching. All were on picks and shovels because they don’t use backhoes or other heavy equipment. Many road repairs in the area were the same - done by hand.

Locals we encountered spoke little to no English. Even the desk clerk in our hotel and counter employees at the International airport in Guadalahara about 20 miles away. American money wasn’t accepted anywhere we went. Credit cards worked sometimes and sometimes they didn’t. Pesos were a necessity.

There were no “touristy” areas anywhere. Very small shops with goods mostly made in Mexico. No plate glass windows, no neon signs, no upscale fashions. We found small children of working mothers in several shops. All quiet, well-behaved, playing with small toys, reading a book or sleeping. Not one running underfoot.

The large central plaza was great for people-watching. Musicians, vendors both inside and out, no cars or other noises of civilization. Many choices of food and drink. And large trees everywhere for shade in the hot afternoons.

New commercial development was outside the city. No new car dealers. A couple of movie theaters, a Starbucks and a “Wal-Marche.” Bought Colgate toothpaste - writing on the tube in Spanish. Same with Coke or Budweiser. Very little to remind you of the states.

New construction in Chapala is either on small vacant ground which was never used or where older buildings had been removed. Our friends’ new home, in an older section, was one such. About 1,600 square feet, inner and outer walls solid concrete, a glass wall to an interior courtyard and a beautiful hand-laid convex brick ceiling over the entire living area. Less than $200-thousand.

Healthcare quality is good and available either through clinics, public or private hospitals. The public ones are free but crowded. The private ones charge but fees are much less than the states.

There’s a sizeable contingent of Americans, Canadians, Brits, Germans and other nationalities in Chapala. Moderate temperatures, laid-back Mexican lifestyle, very low cost-of-living, a feeling of being removed from what we call “civilization,” gracious locals who have gladly accepted their new “neighbors” - many enticing features.

But. There’s always a “but.”

Most homes in Chapala are surrounded by high concrete walls. Many topped with steel spikes, concertina wire or electric fencing. Some have guard dogs. Garage and outer compound doors of steel. Most homes and other buildings have large water storage tanks on the roof because of frequent outages. Local tap water, in some places, not safe to drink. Some homes have emergency generators. Security issues are ever-present.

Those cobblestone roads are everywhere so cars and other vehicles take a pounding. Mexican roads can leave something to be desired. Even major highways are often uneven with roller-coaster rides. For serious shopping, car-buying or major medical needs, it’s about an hour drive to Guadalahara.

On balance, we very much enjoyed our small-town Mexican experience. People were welcoming and gracious. The atmosphere was far-removed from the travel guides, time-share condos, high-rises, carefully-trimmed golf courses, fancy dining and other accouterments we hear about. Our host-friends were generous with their time and knowledge of the area. We felt we did get to see what the country is really like.

Ready to be a Mex-Pat? No. But, the experiences we had and the things we learned were eye-opening in many ways. We have a new appreciation for the country and its residents.

You oughta try the real Mexico sometime. Bueno!

(photo/Barb Rainey)
 

Healthcare is a business

rainey

A lot a folks these days are bandying about words like “universal healthcare” and “Medicare/Medicaid for all” and similar popular phrases.

Sounds good. Sounds positive. Sounds hopeful. And chances for any to materialize nationally in the near future are slim to none. Like lots of things we want to fix in our lives, the distance between “want” and “get” is a country mile. Or two.

In November, large majorities of voters in Idaho and Utah said they wanted expanded Medicaid programs to take care of hundreds of thousands of uninsured. Referendums in both states passed with significant numbers. In the old days, the legislatures would have heard the call and gotten right to work fulfilling the will of citizens.

Today, not so much. Majority political parties in each state tried their damndest to ignore those voices. Bills were introduced to cut benefits of anything eventually adopted. In Idaho, there was a “poison pill” measure in committee to kill eventual expansion if the feds ever change the funding ratio. In Utah, they tried to flat out stop expansion. Period!

If voters in those states want to see their dreams of more insured folks, they’re going to need a second election to get rid of the naysayers. Maybe even a third and fourth.

Looking to Congress for help is an even more daunting - and certainly doomed - task in the near future. While large numbers of us want significant improvements, too many denizens of that swamp won’t lift a finger. There’s all that lobbying money from insurance companies, the folks making pharmaceuticals and dozens of other interests wanting to keep the status quo.

It’s not as if “universal” care or federal medical programs won’t be expanded or that our payment system for services won’t be improved. All that can - and likely will - happen. But, given the obstacles, those politicians promising such in the near future are blowing smoke.

For those too young to remember, we went through such efforts in the ‘60's with creating Medicare. Even with favorable majorities in Congress, Lyndon Johnson had to push, pull, promise, horse-trade and literally threaten the political futures of some in both parties to get it. The fight today is way more uphill. The aforementioned drug and insurance outfits and their friends are making it so. Whatever the outcome, it’ll start with political and business decisions - not consumer need. A basic issue that must be solved is how those entities can survive and in what form.

Proof of that is how physicians and hospitals have radically changed business models in the last decade to stay in business with Medicare. Many now use step-down intermediate care to get patients out of the more expensive hospital stays. They’ve hired salaried doctors and “hospitalists” on staff, opened their own related care facilities such as rehab centers and lower-level extended care centers. Many ancillary services previously farmed out have been incorporated into the overall structure.

Physicians have reorganized for Medicare, too. Often, they create a partnership of several specialities, open in-house labs, manage their own testing such as EEG and similar exams and limit nearly all patient visits to 15-minute appointments. Many docs have hired specialty physician assistants so more patients can be seen, spreading the load but not the costs.

Insurance companies started “Medigap” programs which, given the amount of advertising to attract new customers, must have proven profitable. They’ve also changed other aspects of their business models to streamline coverage while assuring income.

In all likelihood, we’re heading to some sort of single-payer system in this country. Call it “Universal” or “expanded Medicaid” or any other popular name. The plain fact is we can’t continue to operate under a system that eats so much of our national resources, is priced out of reach of millions and causes bankruptcies in the thousands each year.

But, to realize a goal of “healthcare for everyone,” the political and business issues must be solved first. If availability and cost containment are the goals, then assuring the survival - in some form - of the medical, pharmaceutical and insurance providers who make up that system must be addressed up front.

No one entity has the answer. And you won’t have traditional quality healthcare of any reliable sort without them. As businesses and corporations, they’ll need to survive or none of us will live to see significant changes.

Politicians who make it sound like we can achieve all that by simply electing them and they’ll make it happen, are glossing over the massive work to get it done.

Healthcare is, after all, a business.
 

Civil War II

rainey

Funny what you can overhear while sitting in a diner, a medical waiting room or a theater before the movie starts these days. Interesting. But, sometimes scary.

Filling the gas tank recently, listening to two guys gassing up their cars who obviously knew each other. A conversation I never thought we’d hear in these United States of America.

“I’d bet, before the 2020 election, we’re going to have a shooting civil war again in this country,” said one.

The other agreed, saying he was already stocking up on ammunition and had recently bought a second AR-15.

“Not going to get me without a fight,” he warned.

Driving home, at first I was sort of shocked. A second “civil war?” Nah. Just goofy talk. Got home. Sat down at the computer and read this: “I have the support of the police, the military, Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people but they don’t play it tough until they get to a certain point, then it would be very bad, very bad.”

The President of the United States? Nah, just Donald Trump. And, therein lies a problem.

While it wouldn’t be right to lay all blame for division and violence at his feet alone, what were conditions, say five years ago? Were they then what they are today? Did you feel the same about your world then as you do today? Every disaster that befalls a nation needs someone to hold the match. Trump is a torch!

But, look elsewhere. How about Idaho and Utah where voters overwhelmingly ordered legislators in both states to create expanded Medicaid for all. Resoundingly! So, what happened? They produced bills to radically change what the referendums specified; to add work requirements; to twist what voters approved into some other unrecognizable creature. To outright kill it. And, to flip the bird at voters, Idaho legislative miscreants tried to make future referendums all but impossible to achieve success.

Look at other states where court orders to do this-and-that about redistricting, voting laws, added school funding, public safety, civil rights have been all but ignored by state governments. Just flat ignored!

What about today’s tone coming from Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity and the rest of the hate talkers? Is it more angry today? Do they often get right up to the line of inciting action against someone, some form of government or some “foreign” religion or country?

What about some of our politicians? Steve King, for one, publicly predicting actual, physical confrontation between “red” states and “blue” states. And he’s got a national audience of racists, bigots and white supremacists who listen.

Rep’s Gaetz, Jordan, Meadows, Nunes, Gohmert and the garbage and hate speech flowing from some of the “Freedom Caucus” in the U.S. House. These people didn’t get there - and they aren’t staying there - without votes of millions of Americans who’ve supported them? And Lindsey Graham? Single-handedly stopping House-passed legislation on new election laws and energy conservation. All by himself; while touting the “extraordinary accomplishments” of one D. Trump.

And this. Several years ago, the BLM tried to shutdown an illegal mining operations near Grants Pass, Oregon. Made a number of visits to serve papers. Until that day when a dozen guys in fatigues toting AR-15s met ‘em and held ‘em at bay for a week. Finally, the BLMers gave up. Even closed the Grants Pass office.

How about the Bundys in Nevada who successfully stopped the feds with rifles? It all ended when the feds quit.

The sheriff in Douglas County, Oregon, has repeatedly stated he won’t enforce any new federal gun laws and will arrest any federal agents who try to enforce them. He’s not alone. Hundreds of other duly elected badge wearers have taken the same position. “I’ll decide what to enforce and I’ll arrest others trying to do their lawful duties.”

And, immigration. We’re not solving the problem. We’re making what used to be worth hardly a mention into what could become a powder keg, especially in border states. Mass killing in churches, schools and other public venues. Any progress there? Feeling more and more helpless as the numbers of innocent bodies stack up?

There are many, many more signs of citizen frustration, Citizen disappointment. Citizen anger. Starting with local governments up to the feds, people are feeling their votes don’t count and the system has either failed or, in some cases, begun actively working against their interests and needs.

This is not to say this nation is at the “civil war” stage. It IS to say, if current political and social conditions don’t change - if laws we live under aren’t properly and evenhandedly prosecuted - if violence and other injustices against unarmed minorities aren’t ended - if banks and big business aren’t called to task - if all this and more feeding citizen feelings of helplessness and neglect aren’t addressed and corrected, there will eventually be a bad ending.

Maybe not a civil war. But, a bad ending nonetheless.
 

Number 2 important too

rainey

Show biz folks refer to it as a “cattle call” when open auditions are announced for a new movie or play and hopefuls come running.

Seems fitting to use the same terminology since everyone but your Aunt Susie has jumped into the 2020 race for the Democrat presidential nomination. Most Democrats are O.K. with the large field of names, hoping the “best” person wins. Well, you can always hope.

But, my question is this: Who’s running for vice president? Who wants that second spot on the ticket? Who’s looking at 2024 or 2028? And, you know some of them are.

No one I know can name all the candidates to date. There are several I’ve never heard of and we probably won’t see their names much longer. The winnowing process - lack of money and support - will take care of them sooner rather than later.

The field is hard to handicap. Most don’t have enough national political experience to be called “qualified” candidates. Biden, Warren and Sanders do. Maybe Klobuchar. But, a larger number are either governors, former governors, a mayor or two, some in their first terms in Congress and a couple of folks who like the idea of just running. Experience or no.

Barack Obama was a rarity as he jumped from the Illinois legislature to the U.S. Senate to the presidency in a series of quick moves. But, none of the congressional one-termers, so far, seems to have that possibility. They’re not able to “light the fire” Obama did.

There are some very able people in the field. Washington Governor Inslee is one. Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Klobuchar have some good state and federal experience. All capable but short on foreign affairs and military issues. Important for a president.

Pete Buttgieg is a candidate with a name most folks can’t remember and even fewer can spell. Mayor of South Bend, Indiana. No prior national experience of any kind. Not someone who’d normally be considered a serious challenger. But - after listening to him and checking out some of his history - he’s getting a better welcome from some Democrats than you’d expect. Bright. Multi-lingual. Veteran. And seems to be catching on with younger voters. A “comer.”

When it comes to experience and background you’d look for in a presidential candidate, Biden tops them all. But, four things work against him. Age. An uncanny knack of verbally stepping on his own feet from time to time. The baggage all that 40 years of experience brings as he’s grown and evolved - as we all do - have put him on both sides of several major issues. And he was found guilty of some plagiarizing many years ago. All that is fodder for any opponent in a presidential race. When that opponent is certain to be Donald J. Trump, Biden could find himself on the defensive 24-7.

Two other names are worth considering for VP - Julian Castro and Beto O’Rourke.

There’s a lot of talk these days that younger folks are looking for the new - the interesting - the next “big thing” in politics. You even hear it said that “older, more experienced” candidates should “move over” and make room for the “new faces.” Interesting talk but the plain fact is our national problems require some “gray hair” in the front office.

It’s obvious Castro and O’Rourke have captured a lot of attention with intelligence, grasp of issues, ability to “light up” a crowd and a kind of dynamism not often seen in our national politics. Both would seem to have bright futures. Either one would make a good vice president. And, maybe that’s just what they’re positioning themselves for.

Neither has the “seasoning” or broad experience critical for the next President. There’ll be a lot of wreckage to clear away and many fences to mend. But, four years of on-the-job training would make either a formidable candidate for the top job in 2024.

Or, possibly, either or both would make good cabinet appointees in a Democrat administration. Get on “the inside” and learn the finer points of making a success of some of the tougher jobs. Become part of the decision-making process at the highest levels. Get that good, broad, international exposure they both lack.

When you’ve got 10 or so serious candidates to consider, there are many variables and outcomes on the table. Democrats are just a couple of votes shy of taking over the Senate. If they can do that, if they can hang on to the House and IF they can win the White House, they’ll face some very tough times trying to straighten out the mess left by Trump, his terrible decision-making and his “rogues gallery” of a cabinet.

Democrats need a combination of experience and youth. It’s not just the top job on the line here. The subject of succession needs to be at the center of the 2020 choice.

So, a very important question to answer is - who’s running for vice president?
 

One dangerous section

rainey

So, we have the Mueller report. Rather, we have most of the Muller report. Some days ahead, we will have it all. No redactions. No phony accompanying “gas lighting” from an attorney general who’s failed his constitutional responsibilities and become a political whore for a failed - and likely doomed - president.

Strong words? Yes. Strong feelings? Yes.

But, there is a particular portion that scares the hell out of me. Just one section but its implications go far, far beyond the report.

Trump - who doesn’t know the legal difference between obstruction and collusion - has claimed “vindication” because he was “cleared” of obstruction. No, he wasn’t. The largest contributing proofs of that are the reasons I’m frightened.

The following is taken directly from the Muller report, courtesy of CNN:

Mueller: OBSTRUCTION BY TRUMP FAILED BECAUSE OTHERS REFUSED TO “CARRY OUT ORDERS.”

"The President's efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests."

"(James) Comey did not end the investigation of (Michael) Flynn, which ultimately resulted in Flynn's prosecution and conviction for lying to the FBI. (Don) McGahn did not tell the Acting Attorney General that the special counsel must be removed, but was instead prepared to resign over the President's order.

(Corey) Lewandowski and Dearborn did not deliver the President 's message to (Jeff) Sessions that he should confine the Russia investigation to future election meddling only. And McGahn refused to recede from his recollections about events surrounding the President's direction to have the special counsel removed, despite the President's multiple demands that he do so. Consistent with that pattern, the evidence we obtained would not support potential obstruction charges against the President's aides and associates beyond those already filed," the report said.

Permit me to translate all that. Trump TRIED to obstruct justice but his staff refused to follow his direct orders. Simple as that. Scary as that.

Take Trump out of the equation for a moment. Think only of the Office of the President of the United States.

I’m reminded of a line from the Spielberg movie “Lincoln” when an angry Abe pounded the table and railed “The is the office of the President - clothed in immense power!”

That’s an absolute fact. And it can be personally overwhelming when you stand silently in an empty Oval Office, listening to your own heart beat. The very real sense of authority - read “power” - is as authentic as the furniture.

That authority comes directly from the Constitution and is both specific and overarching. Whoever sits behind that desk is “clothed in immense power” and decisions and orders emanating from that spot are expected to be followed. Most often, previous occupants have made decisions or issued orders only after consultations with staff and discussions with experts in their fields to assure all relevant facts have been examined to assure accuracy.

Now, put Trump back in the picture. Like him or hate him, he’s also “clothed” in that power - that authority. His decisions - his orders - are issued with the same constitutional backing as his predecessors. Even if they don’t have the same group thinking.

BUT - many of his staff and advisors - those who know him best - have been given their orders from Trump and, without telling him, have refused to carry out ones they disagreed with. They’ve disobeyed and secreted their decision to do so,

I’ve written before about instances of such real resistance to Trump in activities of the military. Clear cases of finding ways to not do as ordered - no military parade, unarmed rather than armed soldiers at our southern border, Pentagon refusing to allow immigrants arrest powers, etc.. Again, a constitutionally authorized portion of our national government finding ways to block presidential authority.

Now, we know such resistance is occurring in the White House.

Given world conditions today - given Trump’s legal authority to unwisely conduct negotiations of a nuclear treaty with North Korea - given the failure of Congress to perform its duties as a co-equal branch of government - given Trump’s mercurial nature in his conduct of our national affairs - given even our military leaders thwarting some of his orders - given his serial lying - we should be afraid.

And, now, Robert Muller’s report contains specific examples of staff closest to Trump deciding, on their own, which orders they’ll obey, putting verbal gasoline on an already smouldering situation.

The pervasive thought, that people we’ve never heard of, elected to no leadership roles, people surrounding the President of the United States, individuals at the highest levels of our nation are often secretly ignoring legally-issued orders based on their own thinking - all that is quietly terrifying to me.

If that doesn’t kick-start a sleeping congress - especially Republicans - to perform their co-equal branch responsibilities, we’re in greater trouble than we know.
 

It’s subpoena time

rainey

When most of us were kids, we were taught to tell the truth. When we did, things around the household ran smoothly and life was good.

But, occasionally, a lie seemed like the easy way out. Besides, “who’d know?” Most often, Mom or Dad DID know. When that happened at our house, the result usually had something to do with a willow switch, wielded in love, though it didn’t seem so at the time.

Been watching the Congressional hearings of late? Been watching and listening to some of our nation’s “leaders” testify to this and that? Been trying to match a lot of that testimony with fact?

I have. And, IMHO, what’s needed most now, along the banks of the Potomac, is a willow tree - make that an orchard of willow trees - from which many switches could be cut. Many.

Though there are others, two major miscreants stand out: Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Attorney General Barr. Both have wandered so far from the truth their willow punishments alone could account for a tree or two.

The lying behavior of both wasn’t hard to see coming. There’s been plenty of evidence that, when push came to shove, their allegiance would not be to the great responsibilities of their positions but to an arrogant, serial-lying, racist misogynist who would sell out this country for a new hotel site.

Barr, especially, has come dangerously close to performing in a way that would put his law license in danger in the purview of some bar associations. He’s not skirted truth so much as stomped all over it. At the same time, he spewed conspiracy theories and some of the flat-out lies we’ve heard so often from his “master.”

Given a second chance, and sufficient rethink time, to recant one of the most heinous charges, he wouldn’t. Instead, he doubled down on a lie that’s been refuted by investigatory agents in his own department!

Rather than supporting the work of Special Prosecutor Muller, he’s blithely announced formation of yet another team to investigate why the Muller investigation was authorized in the first place. In other words, when the facts - and law - aren’t on your side, try to undermine those who do have the facts.

Barr’s whore-like “testimony” was given to a panel made up entirely of lawyers. All of ‘em. Some were prosecutors in their previous lives. They can spot what Barr was amateurishly trying to do. In the legal professions - and many others - it’s called “ass-covering.”

I have to wonder what Muller is thinking and feeling about all this, especially about Barr’s positing an investigation to try to undermine nearly two years of the Muller team’s work. These guys know each other - worked together. Their professional histories go back years.

What do you suppose Mueller thinks now? He, alone, knows what his nearly two years of work uncovered. He, alone, knows what was in -and what was left out - of his report. He knows far, far more about facts uncovered - facts that can eventually be used by Congress and other authorities to support future prosecutions. Barr doesn’t know that. Yet, there he was, promising an investigation of the investigators and their authority.

Mnuchin shared in that “ass-covering” drivel. The law regarding congressional access to tax filings - anyone’s tax filings - is simple-enough and straight-forward enough - to withstand challenge. But, there he was, trying to buffalo another committee of lawyers who know what he was attempting to do.

He even told the committee he had a “more important appointment” to get to and challenged the chair over when and how he could leave the proceedings. He looked like the damned fool he is. All he accomplished was to anger members of Congress that have many ways of bringing him to heel.

Again, IMHO, it’s time to start printing and distributing subpoena’s and handing them out. Lots of ‘em. The time has come to put Barr. Mnuchin and their cohorts under oath and hang the swords of contempt and lying to Congress charges over their misbegotten heads.

We’re headed for an explosion - or maybe many explosions - in D.C.. The pressure of Trump’s arrogance, outrageous behavior and dislike of any restrictions to his presidential authority, coupled with what has now been proven regarding coverup attempts by his minions, is heating up. Trump, alone, is the subject of 27 formal investigations. Other miscreants around him can account for another dozen or more.

This is all headed - now or when Trump leaves office - to legal charges for many folks in a number of jurisdictions.

Barr and Mnuchin are, quite possibly, the opening act. They may have become the first leaks of “steam” from the building pressures. If so, their shoddy efforts to carry water for a lying president are proof Trump will try to poison truth. That he, and those around him who’ve pledged their fealty to his cancerous presence in our Republic, will do and say anything to protect him.

Get out the popcorn. It’s subpoena time.