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Posts published in “Rainey”

Political carnivores

rainey

I’ve been around the business of politics a long time. Once an active participant, the role now is one of onlooker from the bleachers. Which ain’t all bad.

Though politics is considered a “winner-loser” sport, there’s also the “loser-loser” variety. That comes when those of the same party turn on each other and the internecine combat games begin. Seldom anyone wins.

If you track the history, those on the far-right - or far-left - are the usual combatants. Right more than left because there seem to be far more of them. Little splinter groups leave the main stem because of perceived indiscretions - things like disloyalty, dishonesty, lack of recognition and many, many more “perceived” affronts, usually on the part that breaks away.

Other times, it’s more like “hand-to-hand” combat or, if you will, a bare-knuckled brawl. Which seems to be shaping up among a lot of Republicans here in Arizona.

The “fraudit” which was supposed to be done the end of April - isn’t. No one directly involved will even hazard an end-time at this point. Even the recent lying, bellicose ravings of the original Trumpster himself, on this desert scene, haven’t moved the phony exercise one foot.

Two well-publicized happenings of recent days show gloves are off and it’s “Katie, bar the door” time with our 2+million votes in the middle of the fight.

First, Senate Republican-appointed go-between, former GOP Senator Ken Bennett, was barred from the “counting” floor and the “counting” building. Bennett, also a former Secretary of State, was appointed to that “lofty” position by none other than Republican Senate GOP Leader Karen Fann. Of course, in by-gone days, we didn’t know she was a Trumper-in-sheep’s-clothing. Bennett now says everything is hunky-dory meaning he kissed someone’s ring and gotten back into the “family.” For now. Stay tuned.

Second tip something’s not “right” in “fraudit-land,” is a handful of subpoenas laid upon the Maricopa Country Board of Supervisors. Yep, a real handful. They’re being ignored by the “ Supes” as was the first batch some months ago. Keep in mind, the Board is made up of five GOPer’s and one Dem. So, we’re talking Republicans nose-to-nose here.

Among other demands, Madame Fann still wants the county’s routers. Fat chance, that. If nothing else, County Sheriff Paul Penzone has made it abundantly clear, law enforcement data on those routers makes giving them to anyone a non-starter. Additionally, all county business and record keeping also reside therein. There’ll be no change of collective minds.

When Trump was here, a fewweeks ago, he used the word “routers” some 17 times in 12 minutes in his rant. “Show us the routers,” “When we get those routers...,” “We need those routers.” Over and over. I doubt he’d know a router from an honest dollar. If, he ever made one.

County superintendents, divided by political party, have, thus far, presented a unified front. “No,” in a loud, bi-partisan word! They’ve shown no signs of relenting.

We now know some details of how much the “fraudit” debacle has cost. Head Ninja says $5.5-million and counting. The guilty-but-Trump-pardoned Mike Flynn and Trump’s former attorney, Sidney Powell, through their uncontrolled PACs, put up about 5-million. Plus the $150-thousand in tax dollars from the Senate coffers.

Rank-and-file AZ Republicans have begun doing much “back-benching” about the “fraudit.” Many elected voices are being raised, calling it “ridiculous,” “foolish,” “making us look like idiots”...all of which it is and does. The tone is getting louder and now comes from some of the Party’s movers and shakers..

This whole “fraudit” undertaking was doomed from the start. Two things made that abundantly clear.

First, “employment” of an apparently one-man-band called “Cyber Ninja’s,” an outfit with a PO Box in Florida, a small suite of empty offices there, and not a day’s worth of experience in vote auditing. Not one. With condemnation of the affair by many highly-qualified vote tabulating companies nationwide, the “Ninja’s” (or “Ninja” in the singular”) have not been taken seriously. So, how could the output of the “work” be?

Second, when it became publically apparent the counters were all from the Republican Party membership list - many of them Trumpers - the oft-told promises of “fair,” “bi-partisan,” “honest,” “reliable,” counting were just so many lies from the git-go. Whatever “information” emanates from the “fraudit” will be believed by Trump hardliners and few others.

There seem to be some genuinely hard feelings on the part of the Board of Supervisors, regardless of party. They, alone, have been the voices of reason and sanity in this comically dangerous exercise in political fraud. They’ve held the line after giving Senate Republicans all they asked for in their original demands.

Now, in the words of that sea-going philosopher, Popeye, “That’s all I can stands. I can’t stands no more.” I think that sums it up for most of the rest of us, too.
 

Phoenix rising

rainey

So, the 2020 U.S. census figures are out. As a nation, we’re big. And, we’re getting bigger! No new revelations there.

Scholars seem interested mostly with the new data on race. In sum, the white majority has decreased in size to about 57-percent of the total population. The mix of ethnic and numerous other racial groups has increased, though not as fast as had been thought. But, the numbers and trends point to a likelihood of a near 50-50 split - White versus all the other non-White groups - in the 2030 sampling.

People with a political bent have begun poring over the tables and knee-deep statistical data. Both national parties are trying to find which portions of their interests have changed and whether such changes will add or subtract from their regions of interest. And political representation.

I’m more concerned with something in the second paragraph of the document announcing the figures. That interest is based on the fact that Barb and I now live adjacent to the “fastest growing city in America” and the city that’s replaced Philadelphia as the “fifth largest city in the nation.”

Phoenix!

We don’t actually live within the Phoenix city limits, which stretch many miles into the surrounding desert. No, we live in what is technically Surprise, Arizona, a relatively new and fast-growing community adjacent to Phoenix. We’re part of what advertisers call “Metro Phoenix.” There’s a large gaggle of such “adjacent” communities like Peoria, Glendale, Mesa, San Tan, Tempe, etc., etc., etc., etc.. And, etc..

The Arizona highway folks recently completed the last segment of a “beltway” all the way around Phoenix. There are highways 121, 202 and 303. Some portions of this “beltway”are six-seven lanes in each direction with traffic filling most of them at all hours.

Once you’ve decided you can survive the speeds, being fender-to-fender with strangers and with supreme confidence in your guardian angels, there’s an interesting phenomenon to see. Every 10 miles or so, surrounding Phoenix, there are “burbs” with new batches of subdivisions.

Get off the beltway at any point and drive down main street in each of the 30 or so of these desert “cities.” You’ll find Home Depot, Lowe’s, Wendy’s, Albertson’s, Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Taco Time, Safeway, Wal-Mart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and an assortment of smaller businesses adjacent. All these names and more repeated every 10 miles or so. Each grouping proud of it’s place in the Phoenix metro area.

I remember being so excited living in Boise or Roseburg when the first Costco outlet came to town. Proud and excited. But, in our “metro area,” Costco opens a new store every couple of months!

Phoenix is not only the state capitol, with about a dozen universities and colleges, it’s also the population center of Maricopa County with some 4-million residents. We have a large Hispanic presence as well as Asian and other subgroups. Indeed, Phoenix seems to represent the changing national racial and ethnic numbers borne out by the census. Attracting some 20-30-thousand new folks a year!

Though Phoenix has all the trappings expected in a city so large, there’s one unusual category that doesn’t get much attention. The industrial areas surrounding the city are filled with huge concrete warehouses. Hundred’s of ‘em. Many are a million square feet with 80 or 90 loading docks each. They stretch out for miles. New ones are being added daily.

Phoenix has become a national/international shipping point. Every type of goods you can imagine are trucked or flown into the area to be dropped, sorted, then reloaded and shipped out. From cars to toothbrushes. UPS has a huge complex of buildings. Facebook just announced a 940-thousand square foot structure to house row upon row of computer systems. REI, Boeing, Amazon shipping/receiving center(s), Hanover Pretzels, Mayo Clinic(s), Dick’s Sporting Goods and many more fill these buildings. Carvana’s main operation is also here.

Surrounding all of these, residential subdivisions. Everywhere.

I’m not familiar with local community planning and zoning laws. But, seeing thousands of houses and apartments springing up in all directions, there don’t seem to be many. In other places we’ve lived, growth has been more-or-less contiguous; limited, in most cases, to extensions of sewer, roads and water lines, etc.. Not here. Not by a damned sight!

Go 10 miles in one direction and you’ll find several hundred homes and a small shopping mall. Surrounded by miles and miles of undeveloped desert. Drive 30 or 50 miles in another direction and there’s another island of homes with no seeming connection to any developed area. Just more miles and miles of desert.

The little community of Buckeye, Arizona, recently annexed a subdivision of golf courses and expensive homes with at least 12 miles of barren desert between downtown Buckeye and the newly added community. Buckeye can provide no new amenities to the newly conscripted. But, it may have stolen the moniker “Biggest Little City In The West” from Reno.

Living in/adjacent to the nation’s fifth largest city has its advantages. And its disadvantages. With a major league team in nearly all national sports, Spring training Cactus League, entertainment centers for all the big time shows, shopping in everything from Neiman Marcus to Dollar Store and an interesting Western heritage all its own, Phoenix can be an interesting place to live.

With temperatures that can hit 120 degrees, scorpions, coyotes and other scavengers in your neighborhood, big city crime, crowds at virtually all venues, “Snowbirds” by the thousands, and a constant brown haze in the air daily - well - it IS America’s fifth largest city, you know.
 

When law enforcement won’t

rainey

“There are 100,000 to 200,000 people
walking around America today who
will be dead by the end of the year.....
and mostly self-inflicted.”

Those are the words of Dr. John Moore, Immunologist, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York. For the unvaccinated, those words should be a clarion call to get the shot(s). Doubtful.

We’ve all heard a bucketful of excuses from the unprotected. Enough already! Now, when I hear some off-the-wall cretin spouting gibberish, I remember another physician and his prediction: Dr. Anthony Fauci, well-credentialed medical spokesman.

“Facing the Delta variant, without the protection afforded by the vaccine, you will be infected.”

You would think that just about anyone in a position of authority, noting such dour warnings, would be a natural leader in the drive to get people medically protected from COVID and its variants.

Not so, I’m afraid.

While I know of at least a dozen cases of lawmen rejecting the mandate
of Oregon’s Governor Brown, regarding masks and other protective measures, let’s just deal with Douglas County Sheriff John Hanlin.

Physically, Hanlin’s a big, square-shouldered guy with a blond buzzcut. A striking physical presence when in his uniform with sidearm. Every bit the specimen you’d want on a recruiting poster.

Hanlin recently notified residents of Douglas County - in an overly long news release - that he will not be enforcing any mandate for anything. Period. While he notes, in his broadside, he’s “responsible for the peace and safety of those in Douglas County,” he demurs when it comes to someone making emergency safety rules for “those in Douglas County.”

Here’s another tidbit from Douglas County. Last week Dr. Martin Hill and his wife were driving through, on the way to the coast. While in Roseburg, Dr. Hill had a heart attack. His wife, a former Douglas County Commissioner, quickly drove to the local hospital.

Hill, who should have been admitted and treated, wasn’t. The hospital was at capacity with COVID patients. Packed in everywhere. So, Hill was treated as an outpatient and sent on his way.

Am I the only one who sees the link between Hanlin and Dr. Hill? Isn’t there some connection to the Sheriff refusing to enforce lawfully issued orders for self-protection from COVID and heart attack victim Hill being turned away from that hospital because COVID patients filled the place?

Several years ago, Sheriff Hanlin loudly took another stand that should be noted as we discuss his being “responsible for the peace and safety......etc.” That time, it was to announce - to all and sundry - he would not enforce any gun control laws coming from the Obama administration. Further, his deputies were ordered to arrest and jail any federal lawmen who tried to enforce compliance.

He’s been roundly elected since.

Many members of the Oregon Sheriffs’ Association have taken the same rejecting “hands off” position as Hanlin. If it’s “peace and safety” you want in Oregon, you might want to rethink calling 911. At least in Douglas County.

I’ve had the Pfizer shots. Both of ‘em. Each took about 20 minutes with 15 of those minutes sitting in my car, listening to the radio, while waiting to see if there were any side-affects. There weren’t.

The politicization of this shot business, and the refusal of the Hanlin’s of this world to do their duties to protect citizens that elect them, makes no sense. Throw in the picking-and-choosing of which laws to enforce and which to ignore by law enforcement leaves you wondering if you really are safe.

Counties - in Oregon and elsewhere - are not political fiefdoms for duly elected sheriff’s to decide which laws - or legal mandates - they’ll enforce and which they won’t.

In the tumult of the last five years, much has changed - with a world pandemic, the tortuous Trump years, Republicans block-voting to nearly bring our national government to a standstill - all that and more has upended our world. Stability has been in short supply.

In Douglas County, Oregon, and too many other counties in that state and elsewhere, the traditional community stability and safety of past years are also..... in short supply.
 

Is it legal?

rainey

Something’s happening in our country that’s, thus far, escaped much attention. But, in the name of good, lawful government, we should acknowledge what could eventually be a bad situation.

The nub of it is this. When it is right to ignore a lawfully issued order from proper authority? Given such an order to do - or not do - something, when it is proper -and legal - to say “No?”

Local school boards - honest, hard working local school boards - are facing that quandary right now in several states. States, wherein, governors have issued legally proper executive orders banning masks for teachers and children in public schools.

Now, right here, I’ve gotta say, I don’t agree with such orders, either. We should be taking whatever measures we can - everywhere - to insure the safety of our kids. All of ‘em.

But, the issue becomes which lawful orders do we ignore and which lawful orders do we follow? If it’s O.K. to disobey on this issue, what about some other order? On some other important matter?

Suppose a governor - by executive order - closes a state park because of recent animal attacks. Do you stay out, obeying the order? Or do you go to your favorite campground, well-armed? Disobeying the order.

What if your governor - by executive order - orders closure of four favorite lake because of deadly algae? Do you stay away, obeying the order? Or, do you launch your boat anyway? Disobeying the order.

While agreeing school boards should take every opportunity to keep kids and their teachers safe, how do we deal with opposing an executive order from the governor? A legal order? Even if it goes against the best medical authority?

Well, some school districts are not obeying. They’re ordering everybody to “mask up” and take such other precautions as necessary. “Damn the order - full speed ahead” sort of thing. Legally, can they do that?

One Texas school district - faced with such a conundrum - came up with a loophole of sorts. It simply rewrote the mandatory dress codes and included masks. Neat. Others are issuing mask orders before the effective date of the executive action. Cute.

Here in Arizona, our Governor is offering parents and school districts who support his “no mask” order grants of money. Yep, he’s paying people for their support! Up to $7-thousand a student! “Kill a kid, make a buck.” Damn!

Governors in Florida, Arizona and other states, trying to implement “no mask” orders, are wrong. Full stop! Each swore an oath upon taking office to provide for the safety and well-being of the citizenry. Allowing COVID to kill people is a violation of that oath, I would think.

It’ll be interesting to see if governors, faced with contrary school boards, take them to court. Normally, I’d say doubtful. But, we’re dealing with DeSantis in Florida, Ducey in Arizona and a few elsewhere. So, normal may not hold up if they’re determined to seek court decisions to back up their dubious orders.

If it comes to that, judges will be faced with a tough decision. Do they support chief executives by declaring the issuance of such orders are lawful and, therefore, require obedience? Or, despite legal strictures, do they allow “exemptions” for millions of kids and teachers?

And one more question. If school boards are supported by the courts, will there be other cases in which people ignore an executive order based on some school board precedent?

As I said, this question of disobeying lawful orders of a duly recognized authority isn’t getting much attention.

Maybe it should be.

(image)
 

Wait a damned minute

rainey

As this is written, chaos reigns in Afghanistan.

There’s terror in the country from border to border. The Taliban have complete control everywhere. Scenes of hundreds and hundreds of terrified Afghans chasing taxiing aircraft at the Kabul Airport are almost unbearable to watch. Some will cling after the plane takes off, only to fall to their deaths within minutes.

The frightened exodus has only begun. But already, Republicans are jumping all over President Biden as though he alone is responsible for the last two decades of strife, waste and death in that far away country. Even some Democrat voices are critical.

WAIT A DAMNED MINUTE!

We’ve poured several trillion dollars into that barren nation. We’ve propped up local leadership in one province after another - leadership that ultimately failed for lack of local support. Most wasted of all, the lives of several thousand young Americans who braved battle after battle, tour after tour. Until the final one.

The President’s knowledge of foreign affairs is second to none. Biden is surrounded by some of the best military and civilian minds anywhere. Countless days - and many nights - of poring over information gleaned from inside Afghanistan and neighboring countries gave him the best possible awareness of the terrain, the politics and its instability.

But, this is the one immutable fact. Our presence - our support of an unsupportable national government - our contribution of treasury and young American lives for 20 years - had to end.

Were mistakes made in some decisions? Yes. Were the strength and depth of the Taliban not recognized? Probably. Could our leaving that country - by a date previously negotiated - have been handled better? Maybe. But, for three previous administrations, there was an unwillingness to bite the bullet - to say “enough is enough” - to pull the pin and take the final action. To leave.

Somebody - a President of either national party - had to do what Biden did. And, he had to know the fallout would be great. He had to know heated criticism from the GOP - and even his own party - would rain down on his head. So did Bush-the younger, Obama and Trump. They all were faced with the same circumstances. They all knew what Biden knows. And they passed. Each one passed.

Yes, our leaving Afghanistan could probably have been handled better. Yes, maybe we had faulty intelligence that was unfortunately part of the decision. Yes, things might have been different.

But, like in poker, you have to play the hand you have. You have to act. None of us knows what facts - what intelligence - undergirded the decision to leave. Now. And, we may never know.

But, “leave” we have. The seemingly endless drain on our treasury and the lives of our young has come to an end. At least in Afghanistan.

In both Afghanistan and Viet Nam, this nation tried to introduce a form of governance that was foreign - and militarily resisted - by the locals. Democracy.

Both nations had their histories of governance long before America existed. For centuries, each experienced turmoil and efforts by some to change things. There were wars and brutality and even extreme terrorism visited upon the people.

But, in both nations, when outsiders tried to imprint their own ideas of governance, they failed. The “helpful invaders” soon became bogged down in the quagmire of endless war. Endless expense. Endless costs of human lives.

Maybe the clearest explanation I’ve heard for our failures in both Viet Nam and Afghanistan was from a late-night comedian. He likened our intervention this way. “Imagine the National Guard of Idaho going to Oregon and telling Oregonians, ‘From now on, this is how we want you to do things.’”

Oversimplified? Yes. But, just imagine.

The time for leaving Afghanistan was the moment we decided to go in. The cost in thousands of lives lost, and the thousands of lives changed forever, should have been reason enough not to venture into endless war. It should have been stopped before it began.

So, we’re out. A terribly messy exit. But, we’re out.

It had to be done. And it took a lot of heat and lost political capital to do it. But, Biden did it.

And, I’m grateful!
 

One country? Or two?

rainey

How long can this nation run as two “countries?”

We really are, you know. Think of a blue state. Think of a red state. Now, consider. Are they politically more alike or more different - one from the other?

Let’s use Oregon (blue) and Florida (red). Politically, alike? Or different?

The answer, of course, is different. Very different. And the governors? They couldn’t be more unalike. In fact, set Florida’s DeSantis alongside Oregon’s Brown or governor of any blue state. The differences are immense!

Do the same with Abbott of Texas, red state Republican, and Griffin, blue state Democrat of New Mexico. Many differences. Also Witmer, blue state Michigan, and Little, red state Idaho. Similar or different?

For some months now, it seems we’ve been walking a fine line when it comes to governance of blue and red states. And temperament. Not much push back from either color during our national COVID pandemic. Or much else, for that matter. Until now.

Now, DeSantis and Abbott (reds) are showing some ill-conceived push back against President Biden (blue). In fact, DeSantis has been downright nasty. “I don’t want to hear any COVID ‘blip’ out of you,” he addressed the President through the media. If the voters ignore his very public drive to be the GOP presidential nominee in 2024, he may live to regret such disrespectful language. To say nothing of the needless deaths he’s caused.

Abbott has been similarly angry about CDC guidelines and the feds putting pressure on the unvaccinated.

In fact, with only two exceptions I can think of, most governors of red states have been somewhat hard to get along with lately. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas has apparently had a recent “conversion” to the need for more vaccinations and masks after first signing an anti-mask mandate. Larry Hogan of Maryland has been pretty agreeable from the git-go.

But, the rest? Angry. Resentful. Tough talk. Not showing the necessary respect for this pandemic of ours or doing what’s within their powers to help us all. Many determined to go their own uninformed ways, leaving bodies behind.

Now, suppose this Delta variant gets so far out of hand that CDC deems it necessary to have a nationwide crackdown to stop the threat. Suppose, too, that Biden agrees and issues a mandatory vaccination order. How would the top executives of nearly all the red states react? How many “Nos” and “Hell Nos” would you hear?

Then what happens?

I had a dream the other night. A political sort of dream. In that dream, we were still a nation of two political parties. But, not the parties we know and have lived with for more than a century. No, in my dream, the two parties were “Red” and “Blue.” Red states and blue states.

And, when there were contested national races, the underlying goal was to convert a state of the other color to yours. Say your candidate wins the White House, maybe you change the other color to yours and, at least temporarily, your color becomes more dominant. Or catches up.

Fanciful? Of course. Not realistic? Could be. Never happen? Never?

The national political alignment we’ve had is being stretched out of shape. The divisions between Democrats and Republicans are growing wider each day. The old coalitions offering different-but-compatible views on issues are all but gone. Coalitions, today, are more aligned with differing views on things within the same party.

Last week’s Ohio congressional race not only pitted Democrat against Democrat, it was the “progressive” versus the “moderate.” Head-to-head. Bernie Sanders and his “horse” against Jim Clyburn and his horse. Very different views. The “moderate horse” won. Republicans had 11 runners to choose from. Statistically, a guy could win with 10% of the vote. And you’d call him the “winner?” Really?

Democrats have long had the habit of not sticking together. Once successful - candidate or party - there’s an almost instant kerfuffle. Used to be called the “circular firing squad.” Republicans, too, split and split again. Used to be “left to right.” Now, it’s “right to righter.”

After the Boomers, the next couple of “generations” coming up aren’t “joiners.” The terms “Democrat” and “Republican” aren’t seen as important. It’s the candidate - regardless of party - or the issue - regardless of party. The long-term maintenance of a political party will not be seen as important as it is today.

So, what will we have? Maybe “red” and “blue?”

This scenario is not as far-fetched as it may seem. Over the last 245 years of our history, we’ve had many political parties. Standing for many political reasons. Politics and permanence are not necessarily bedfellows.

Given the upcoming generation’s seeming indifference to “joining” and... given the political splits and warfare of our current dealings and... given the tests we’re being put to by COVID and all its variants and the larger effects on our nation collectively...a lot of things are changing around us.

Might it come down to “one nation?” Or “two?”
 

No!

rainey1

No! NO!! HELL NO!!! Just NO!!

The President of this country wants states to PAY people $100 to get COVID vaccinations! NO! Paying people to do what’s right - what’s medically required - what might save their lives - is a lousy idea. What comes next? Paying people to file their taxes? Get driver’s licenses? Going to the doctor? What? It sets a lousy, dangerous national precedent and is a bad use of government authority, no matter who does it.

It’s a fact the new Delta strain of COVID-19 is more deadly and spreads much easier than the original. We know those without vaccinations are more likely to contract the disease. Even die from it. I know that.

I also know only just under 50–percent of us have done what’s right. What’s absolutely necessary. We’ve gotten our shots. Some have had two. And we didn’t get paid to do the right thing. To protect ourselves and our neighbors. It’s just what you do.

Given we’re in the second year of a pandemic, with no end in sight, there have been plenty of warnings - plenty of pleadings - for people to get vaccinated. For some damned reason, only about half of us have. I know.

There’ve been the usual excuses - all the mind-numbing “reasons” - all the childish lying - for not getting the possibly life-saving shots. None hold up to hard medical facts. What does hold up is the indifference to doing the right thing, for one’s own sake and making another possible disease-carrying threat to our lives. And the lives of those we love.

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control is warning, in rare cases, even some who’ve been vaccinated can be carriers. Some. That means another possible source for contamination. But, no reason not to get the shots!

And mask wearing. Are we supposed to think that the unvaccinated and the anti-vaxers are going to “mask up” when out and about? Really? It’s much more likely the re-masking task will be undertaken by those of us who’ve been poked. Much more likely.

I remember, some months ago, Barb and I scoured the old I-net, frantically looking for a site to sign up for the original COVID shots. Weeks - literally weeks - of looking finally resulted in getting appointments. Hers five minutes from home. Mine, a 20 mile round trip. But, we got ‘em. Twice.
Now, a third shot - a vaccine booster shot - is being talked about. Pfizer Lab folks say, for those of us over 65, it would provide an 11-fold increase in protection. With that kind of positive news, it’s likely there will be another round of shots. At our house, we’ll sign up again.

Rather than pay miscreants and the factually-challenged $100, a better mission for government - federal, at least - would be coming up with some way to stop the flow of lies and fact-less information.

There’s the First Amendment to the Constitution. I know. I know. I’ve spent a lifetime being a First Amendment advocate. And, sometimes, I had to swallow hard defending speech I hated.

But, there’s plenty of evidence Faux Neus, Newsmax and other far-right media, are prime purveyors of distortions, half-truths and flat-out lies. And, there’s also plenty of evidence that many - if not most - of the unvaccinated look to these voices of lies and distortions as their only source of “information.” This “closed-circuit” of bad information creates a distorted reality and denial of facts.

While there are some who are just plain anti-vaxers, millions of other folks are avoiding vaccinations because of this steady flow of reinforcement they receive - reinforcement based on distortion and lies. Many truly believe they are “right” not to get the shots. Their accepted sources of “reality” - Faux Neus and the rest - repeatedly tell them so.

Somehow - someway - for the literal survival of the nation - the massive amounts of fact-less, bad information must be stopped. The First Amendment was never meant to shield voices of threats to our own national survival. But, that’s what’s happening.

If 10-20-million unvaccinated citizens are allowed to remain unvaccinated carriers of COVID - current or strains yet to be seen - our health system will collapse. Our national economy will be crippled for lack of workers, sickened or dead because of an unchecked pandemic. Our national security could be dangerously threatened.

But, pay them to do the right thing - the responsible thing - NO!

We already have businesses putting the hammer down. Citibank, for one, has altered its employee card access system to the large main headquarters in New York City. Unvaccinated workers are being denied electronic entry. Federal employees, and contractors seeking federal work, must be vaccinated. There’s a restaurant in California that requiring proof of vaccinations before seating. Other private efforts are underway.

No, this will not get everyone. But, working together and toughening up, such efforts will get a lot of the unvaccinated. A lot! And could make the difference.

Getting vaccinated against COVID is not only a high personal priority. It’s also become a national priority of citizenship.
 

Ain’t happening

rainey

There are people, in every time and in every land,
who want to stop history in its tracks.
They fear the future, mistrust the present
and invoke the security of a comfortable past.
Which, in fact, never existed.

Those are the words of Robert Kennedy, spoken on the presidential campaign trail in 1968, a few weeks before he was assassinated.

Those words, to me, essentially describe the anti-vaxxers and the Trumpers who believe in their false prophet. They “mistrust the present” and long to return to a past that “never existed.” They believe they can relive 1954 again. Which, of course, they can’t.

As for the America of the ‘50's being “perfect,” I remember “nuclear bomb” drills with kids hiding under desks for “protection,”the military draft interfering with the futures of millions of young men, the Korean War, beginnings of the war in Viet Nam, iron lung machines for polio victims and a lot more. It wasn’t all “Mom and apple pie.” “Dinah Shore and Chevrolet.”

Kennedy’s words, spoken long before Trump became a twice-impeached President, seem to describe why some 30-million souls ignore the realities of today. Millions now live and believe the lies that make up the prison of their imaginary world.

President Biden, speaking “off-the-cuff,” recently opined Faux Neus was “killing people.” Later, he amended those words, softening them just a bit.

But, as originally spoken, Biden’s words do have a truthful basis. Faux, and their equally complicit partners at Newsmax and One News, are spreading lies about vaccines and their effectiveness as they urge millions of viewers to reject the underlying science. With COVID on the increase in 50 states, medical statistics confirm more than 90-percent of the recent dead were unvaccinated. That’s a fact. All the right-wing B.S. to the contrary.

In addition, the continuing lies are eating at the base of our Republic. Millions of Americans are “believers.” A recent poll of Republican voters showed some 62-percent believe Biden is either not the President or that his election was a fraud. Sixty-two-percent! How can governance - by either party - be effective if that many of the governed believe the system under which they live is false?

The politicizing of our pandemic by those purveyors of lies is “the gift that keeps on giving.” By mixing COVID with politics, capitalizing on fears associated by millions when it comes to medical science, adding a constant stream of lies emanating from right-wing media, with Trump seen as the “savior” of their non-existent world, the mix has created fear, hostility and anger across the country. In fact, Biden was right!

Interesting little background check here. Faux Neus is home to Hannity, Ingraham, Cavuto, Bongino and Doocy. All of whom have heaped praise on Trump and bad-mouthed vaccinations. Which makes it interesting to note that all have been vaccinated. All of ‘em! Further, Faux has instituted an internal “COVID passport.” Get a shot, put it on your “passport” and you can avoid the daily testing of all employees. Isn’t that sweet?

Still their voices form a daily “choir” of lies, half-truths and ignorance directed at an audience of millions who swallow all the verbal swill these people dish out. Reminds me of one of the political truth’s of years gone by: “Ignore what they say - watch what they do.”

But, there’s something else interesting to add to all this. Seems recent polling indicates 62-percent of vaccinated Americans at-large - are asking for a booster shot. At the moment, none of the pharmaceutical companies is suggesting that. But, in about three months, we’ll be told to get our seasonal flu shots. Maybe there’ll be a “booster” option offered.

This nation has always had what my Dad called “aginers.” People who opposed one thing or another just out of onryness. Or, determined ignorance. We’ve got our share of those today.

While Kennedy’s words still seem appropriate for our times, they serve only as a societal recognition of the millions who are living in another world. They offer neither response nor a method to overcome the steady flow of misinformation with which we’re afflicted today. Kennedy never had to deal with the media pervasiveness we have in our lives now. There were far-right conspiratorial voices in the ‘50's,” but not the (un)social media of unedited garbage that fills so much of our lives these days.

While we’re not the first generation having to deal with angry miscreants and outliers by the millions, we are the first having to contend with the constant, daily flow of broadcast and computerized verbal fuel that feeds so many millions. That keeps stoking the angry fires.

First Amendment or not, some way must be found to shut off the spigots of misinformation and falsehoods. If we can’t find an answer to ending the flow of lies being passed off as fact, the fuel for the fires will continue to infiltrate our lives. If that flow can’t be stopped, it will continue to threaten our Republic from within. We must relieve the pressures that could impinge on the freedoms of the rest of us.

I was a supporter of Bobby Kennedy. His words were optimistic, his efforts in various positions of authority were positive and hope-giving.

We could use more of that today.

(image/James Vaughn)
 

Remembering Jimmy

rainey

Bottom line: Our unvaccinated neighbor(s) poses a threat to our lives for which, if the threat were him firing a gun, he’d be arrested. For being unvaccinated, he’s free to go.

I’ve heard every damned excuse for avoiding the COVID needle and they’re all non-starters - with the only possible exception being someone who, medically, cannot be exposed to the vaccine. Other than that, they’re all pure B.S..

In the very early 1960's, Dr. Jonas Salk announced a reliable, and thoroughly tested vaccine for polio. I had a friend in second grade - Jimmy Shoemaker - who contracted the disease and was quickly placed in an “iron lung” 150 miles away. Though I didn’t know it in 1943, he’d spend the rest of his life in that damned machine and die at the age of 31.

With that image in mind, when the Salk vaccine was initially available, I made sure our three kids were immediately in line for a little sip from a Dixie cup. Us, too. Tasteless. Almost to the point of being disappointing. I’d expected some medical after-taste as is almost always the case in oral medical treatments.

But, thinking of Jimmy in that damned steel machine, and knowing the effectiveness of the Salk vaccine, there was no decision to make. Go get it. All five of us.

Now, jump ahead 60 years. It’s likely impossible to come up with a source for the politicization of what should have been purely a medical issue. But, early on, that’s exactly what happened with COVID-19. The anti-vaxxers and the loud voices of Trumpers set the tone and here we are. Another needless national division.

COVID is on the rise in all 50 states. People are being hospitalized. People are dying. Needlessly! This should NOT be happening. But, it is. The unvaccinated are walking among us and some could be carriers of COVID. And, I’d bet some of those walkers who’ve made that detestable decision, are also not mask wearers.

So, the rest of us - we who’ve chosen the safer route of vaccination and masks - are ready targets for the COVID many of them are carrying. Though vaccinated, we can be reinfected. The vaccine in our bodies is only about 70-percent effective. We are vulnerable.

With the possible exception of those with well-proven medical problems with vaccines, there’s no excuse fo anti-vaxxers. With COVID or anything else. Full stop.

We’re a nation of laws, though some recent court decisions seemingly challenge that long-standing fact. When facing an international pandemic - COVID or the Black plague or any other terrible, life-threatening disease - we, as citizens, deserve and expect such treatments, as are recognized and effective, to be accessed by all. If not willingly, then I believe, mandated.

My unvaccinated neighbor should not be entitled to be a medical threat to me, my family or the neighborhood. His likelihood of being a carrier - or being infected - pose such a threat to all with whom he comes in contact. As previously stated, what if he carried a loaded rifle and pointed it at all the people who cross his path? Wouldn’t he be considered “armed and dangerous” and, therefore, a threat to the community?

And the politicalization. Overlay a map of the most severe states affected by this deadly disease on one showing states Trump won in 2016 and last year. The red ones. There’s a lot of similarity. Especially Texas, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and - well - you get the idea.

There was a time - long, long ago - in an America now seemingly far, far away - when you lost the argument or the ball game, you stopped arguing and the minority went along with the majority.

No more. Now, we have those who won’t move. Who won’t stop arguing. Who loudly go their own way. As we’ve seen repeatedly, sometimes carrying a weapon. Or a disease.

Even something as simple as being a responsible citizen - not to mention being a responsible parent - when getting a three-second shot to do your part in stopping the spread of a pandemic, brings angry resistance. That’s wrong. That’s the point, when you put all you come into contact with in life-threatening danger; when you become irresponsible. That’s not right!

We’re a nation of freedoms. We’re a nation of choices. But, when you chose to be a danger - and possibly a disease carrier or a killer - to all around you, well, that’s wrong. Just wrong.

There oughta be a law.