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Posts published in “Rainey”

Facing and surviving change

rainey

Face it. We may eventually survive COVID-19. But, two things are certain in our future.

First, COVID will be with us from now on. No matter what eventually surfaces in the vaccine market, it’ll still be there. Just like a lot of other viruses. We’ll learn to live with it just as we have colds and other common varieties of flu. It’ll continue morphing into new strains and we’ll rely on science to keep pace. We’ll invent new security methods of keeping it at bay. But, it’s not going away.

Second, the world as we knew it only a year ago will never return. When we get through this ordeal - and we will - it’ll be a different world.

Take jobs, for example. Thousands and thousands of sales jobs are gone. And, in many cases, they’re not coming back. During our sequestration, we’ve turned to the I-Net for many of our regular needs. From new shoes to grocery shopping to health care to buying cars. It’s going to be a whole new deal.

Take cars. Carvana is one of those places where cars are bought (and sold) on the I-Net. One of their locations is a few miles from us. Currently, they’re advertising to fill about 100 job openings. Sales will be handled by a new call center. Other staff will be delivering and picking up vehicles in the designated coverage area. Fewer sales personnel, no mechanics. Fewer admin and other support folks. And fewer brick-and-mortar car dealers.

With many major retailers taking out bankruptcies or going out of business, same story. Floor salespeople, fewer or gone. Admin support staff, smaller or gone. More brick-and-mortar stores closing. Entire malls vacant or up for sale. The retail apocalypse long predicted because of e-commerce appears to have arrived.

Business-to-business jobs are disappearing because of automation. So, more sales jobs lost. Office and administrative vacancies will not be filled. In the last decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, jobs most likely to be replaced because of new technology were not in manufacturing, as predicted, but in office and other support positions. As companies - large and small - downsize and turn to more technology, fewer people needed. Those jobs not coming back.

Take higher ed. Look at the shift to the I-Net. At our house, Barb has students all over the world trying to get advanced degrees. Online. She teaches for two universities. Higher ed institutions are designing many more online offerings. They’re not getting as much revenue support from local and state governments, so they’re turning to the I-net. Fewer professional ed staff, fewer support staff, lower costs per-student, reduced housing costs by going electronic. We may even see mergers of institutions and some historic campuses close for good.

How about “work-from-home?” Lots of companies have found certain jobs can be done with the I-net, resulting in lower overheads. Working moms can often skip costs of babysitters while spending more time with their kids. Also, no commuting costs. For thousands of parents, it’s a “win-win.” Employers can cut spending in reduced admin costs and lower overhead with less support staff.

How about air travel and hotels? Well, don’t look for any return to as many jobs as pre-COVID. Again, I-net. More travelers using the I-Net for their meeting needs. Lots of folks who used air travel for conferences and other group meetings are doing just fine with electronic gatherings. Business travel, according to those Census Bureau folks, found pre-COVID bookings accounted for about 70% of income for airlines and hotels. Look for a post-COVID world of fewer hotel and airline jobs.

Fewer travelers. Less need for so many airplanes. Again, a few miles from us, airlines are moth-balling hundreds of planes. And there are more such locations in five other states. United will cut 17,000 jobs next month. Delta another 12,000. Other airlines? Who knows? Will United and Delta and all the others be buying new planes when they’ve got hundreds they already own that can be quickly returned to service?

So, what happens to Boeing, Airbus and other aircraft companies? And their thousands of suppliers? Job cuts in the thousands.

Non-residential construction has already taken a hit. The old I-Net, again. With nearly all sections of the economy using I-Net and other assorted electronic conveniences, less higher ed construction, less retail and mall building. In addition, fewer cleaning companies and security folks.

Look for governments - from local to the feds - not only not rehiring for already vacant positions, but continuing hiring freezes and layoffs. They, too, have adjusted to current conditions and, using the I-Net and new software, working from home will likely continue, less building space will be needed and other adjustments will reshape the future.

Our world has always evolved. As we’ve aged, we’ve adjusted to the “new” as necessary. But, COVID hit us and our environment HARD! For many of us, our world just stopped. No eating out. No movies. No sports events. No church. No social events. No large family gatherings. Just “shelter-in-place” and stay there. Restrictions on our borders and nearly no international travel. Having to sequester for months. And, a lot more.

But, outside our homes, massive changes have already happened with more to come. Lots more. Our forced adjustments to almost everything in our lives will continue. How we individually accept and adjust will say a great deal about who we are and how we’ll face the future. Who’ll survive and who won’t.

These are dangerous, threatening times. But, we’ve faced dangers before in wars, pandemics, hurricanes, etc.. We’re still here.

That’s the really good news.
 

Setting a bad example

rainey

So, now we know. Our incompetent President lied to us about COVID-19. Well, Boy Howdy! D-U-H.

The difference between those lies, and non-stop torrent of others in the last four years, is nearly 200-thousand people have died and millions of others are likely scarred for life or will have continuing health problems. Because he lied.

At the end of my life - four score plus - it grieves me to write the words “our incompetent President.” There have been 13 Presidents in my years. And not one - not one - could have been called “our incompetent President.” Some were better than others; some worse. But none could be called “incompetent.”

Or a liar. Oh, there have been lies in all those administrations. To be sure. But, nowhere near the avalanche of pure verbal B.S. we’ve experienced since 2016. Not even close. DJT is the hands-down winner!

His lying and law-breaking ways have, in my opinion, unleashed a violent strain of anger, rage, in-your-face behavior that’s been just under the surface of our society for a long time. We’ve seen occasional outbursts. But, nothing like recent events of protests, vandalism, thievery, deliberate violence and outright murder - much of it by self-proclaimed followers of Donald.

“Proud Boys,” Prayer Boys,” KKK,” “Sons of the Confederacy,” “Antifa Killers” and individuals like 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, the shooter in Kenosha, WI. All have burst into our consciousness because of their violent behavior, public militance and their attempts - often successful - to turn legitimate protests into near-riots.

Then, as if the senseless murder of two innocent Wisconsin protestors wasn’t heinous enough, the aforementioned President gave his personal support for Rittenhouse that may become the cornerstone of his trial defense.

Trump’s lies, law-breaking and occasionally putting himself above the law, can be tied to lots of things. Take that September 10th game between the Kansas City Chiefs and The Texans. At the end of opening ceremonies - and after playing the National Anthem - the field announcer called for a silent moment to honor those fighting racism in this country. The players joined arms and stood quietly. But, after about 10 seconds, the boo’s started. The boo’s. During a silent moment honoring those “fighting racism?” Yep. Did you check the MAGA hats?

In Portland. Hundreds of peaceful protestors in the streets. Suddenly, some 600 Trumpers - many armed - drove pickups and other vehicles into their midst. They sprayed chemicals on surprised marchers. They clubbed a few. And beat a few. All the while waving guns and dozens of large “Trump-Pence - 2020” flags that looked official. But, in large, red letters across the bottom of all those flags was printed “Stop the Bullshit.” Real “Trump-Pence” signs expressly printed for a law-breaking attack on innocents.

That charge had to be planned weeks before. Professional printing of those banners had to be ordered way in advance. The “Prayer Boys” were from out-of-state. Their demonstration permit was for another Oregon county about 20 miles south of Portland. Still, there they were: breaking laws, attacking innocents and doing so in the name of our President. Our President. A guy who has not discouraged such violence and who has, in fact, openly “excused” such acts. In Wisconsin, Florida, Texas, Oregon and elsewhere.

Here in Arizona, we’ve got a GOP guy running for sheriff who has 38 years of service in the Maricopa department. On the surface, he looks proper and imposing in his official uniform, a large badge and military-style crewcut. But, his campaign signs are the tipoff.

Across the top, they read “Enforce our laws.” Across the middle, “Turn back the mobs.” Now, Maricopa County, which has four-million citizens - has had a few street protests. Yes, we have. A few arrests - very few - but no deliberate “mob” scenes. Fact is, the largest “mob” gathering around here was when the last Costco store opened. And the average age of that “mob” was well into the 60's.

But, this veteran cop has taken a page from Trump and Joe Arpaio (for whom he worked many years), made up his own “facts” and prominently displays his lies on our street right-of-ways. He’ll likely lose. We already have a good sheriff.

We’ve got two GOP representatives - both Trumpers. One denies the existence of Coronavirus, saying it’s a lie created by Democrats and tells his followers to throw away their masks. The other decries immigration of any type, wants borders sealed “from sea to shining sea” and is also a virus denier. They’ll likely be re-elected.

Look at the Trump “rallies.” Listen to the crowds. Hear their chants which are often racist. Watch their demeanor. Trump’s lies at such events often have racist undertones. The crowds of Fox-watchers have refused reality and have no factual basis for refuting what he says.

And, what he says, supports their distorted view of reality. They often leave the events roused and armed with his lying speech confirming their own warped thinking. Too often, they’re angry and feel threatened by societal changes they don’t understand and are unwilling to accept. They openly distrust the very government that, in many cases, makes a monthly deposit in their bank accounts.

Been to a theater, a concert, a ball game or other large venue lately? Is crowd behavior what it was five or six years ago? Have you seen more instances of road rage? Do your kids respond properly to your family rules or are they more defiant? Do you get angry more often? Does it seem there’s more violence in the news? That’s because there really is more violence. In the news. In our streets.

We’re living in a new environment, very different from what we knew just a few years ago. COVID-19 has affected normal behavior in nearly all phases of our lives. It’s isolated us. Made us more fearful. More tentative. It’s changed the way we shop. The way we do business. The way we educate our kids. We’re wary of crowds. Relationships have been changed by the virus and, often, by more aggressive behaviors by those we come in contact with. Life is very different.

While Trump can’t be blamed for our involvement in a worldwide pandemic, he certainly can be blamed for his lies to all of us, his denial of fact, his deliberate and willful rejection of international intelligence when faced with reality. As Nero is said to have “fiddled while Rome burned,” Trump has rejected the responsibilities of his high office as he spends 10-12 hours daily watching Faux “news”

His behavior, his domination of the airwaves, his distorted view of reality, his personal support of violence and violent people, his all-consuming lies about everything - all this has permeated our lives. Even WE are different. Truth is often hard for us to find. We’ve been under constant “attack” from the top of our own government.

It’s up to each of us to “counterattack.” November third.
 

Good cop/bad cop

rainey

UP FRONT: I support law enforcement. Period.

In my media years, I spent a lot of time around cops. Even made a few friends. Assigned to hang out at the “cop shop” for several years in different cities, I learned a lot about the professional - and often personal - lives of those who make up city, county and state police agencies.

On the whole, as professionals, most were highly trained, extremely loyal (especially to each other) organized, effective and - most of the time - performing varying assignments with attention to detail.

Some emphasis has to be placed on two words in that description: “professional” and “loyal.”

Cops often have an “us-versus-them” attitude in performance of their work. Spending some years doing “ride-alongs,” getting shooting range practice, sitting in on daily shift-change briefings, being an observer of many arrests and even times of violence, it’s easy to see why a lot of cops feel that way. From their perspective, “us-versus-them” is real.

As for “loyal,” that’s real, too. In performance of day-to-day duties, being “back -ups” when other officers are in dangerous situations, learning to quickly “partner up” when they face violence with another officer they don’t know - loyalty is basic to survival. It’s basic to being a good cop.

Having said all that, there’s this. As a reporter, covering a string of arsons in a small Idaho town for several nights, I got lucky by photographing an off-duty sheriff’s deputy setting a barn on fire. The serial arsonist was a cop.

During a “ride-along,” I saw a cop shoot an unarmed drunk. I watched a detective throw a belligerent teenager up on the hood of his car and pound the kid’s head into the sheet metal until he was unconscious. I watched a cop throw an unarmed woman to the ground and kick her repeatedly until he was pulled off. By me.

There are, I’m sure, many, many other examples of poor thinking - criminal cop conduct - unnecessary violence - going too far. In other words, yes, Virginia, there are bad cops, too. And we’re seeing some of them in our nation’s streets.

Then, there’s this.

Have you watched the over-the-shoulder video of the Jacob Blake shooting? I have. Probably two-dozen times. Enough times to shake my trust in policing.

Watch it again. Closely. Blake was jammed between the open driver’s door and the side pillar. Trapped tightly. He was in the grip of two officers - two - one with his gun drawn. Blake could have had a machine gun in his car. But, crunched between the door and the car frame - in the firm grasp of two cops - he couldn’t have reached any further. So, from a distance of less than two feet, a cop put seven bullets in his back! Seven!

Watch it again. Physically trapped and in the grasp of two cops. Stopped! Then the shots. Seven!

No one can accurately guess what was in the shooter’s mind the second(s) he pulled the trigger. Maybe even he can’t remember. Not now, anyway. A subsequent review board will likely take his badge.

One of the problems with firing a bad cop is they usually go to another branch of law enforcement - in their community or somewhere else - and hire on. Two reasons for this. First, training is expensive, especially for smaller communities and that previously trained man or woman can go to work on day one. Second problem, finding men and women who have to be trained has to do with recruiting laws. The one most cited is any drug use, no matter now small. Even some pot 20 years ago. One time. Knocks out some good people.

Even with an extensive background around cops, I’ve got to admit, that Jacob Blake video turned my stomach. In cop lingo, it was not a “good shoot.” It was damned near murder - unjustified murder. A bad cop with a gun who panicked.

Then, our nation’s “chief executive” went to Kenosha, WI, to meet with the principals in the shooting. Really? He ignored the Blake family to meet with city officials and law enforcement. Yes, Virginia, there are bad presidents, too.

Thanks to one Donald J. Trump, other situations around the country that may have resulted in a few disorderly conduct arrests escalated into killings. What might have been peaceful, lawful and quiet marches have been turned into riots. Marches for this-that-or-the-other rightful grievances have attracted unidentified federal “cops” - or mercenaries - courtesy DJT. Also armed Trump supporters. Our right of peaceful assembly has been abridged - wait for it - by our President. And our Attorney General.

Anyone who thinks the hundreds of “Peaceful Prayer” invaders who showed up in downtown Portland without outside “support” isn’t paying attention. Their parade permit was for Clackamas County, not Multnomah. They were supposed to be no closer than 25 miles from downtown Portland. Did you see the foul-mouthed DJT-Pence 2020 flags flying from many of those several hundred vehicles? They didn’t just buy those at Wal-Mart. Semi-automatics, open carry, paintball guns, chemical sprayers. Some planning went into their “invasion.” And some supplying, as well.

Many months ago, Portland marches were peaceful affairs until some grifters and vandals joined in. Vandalism and thievery occurred. Apparently unable to seek out and arrest the miscreants, police presence was doubled and tripled in the faces of subsequent marchers. As the criminal activity continued, “peace-came-to-shove” and arrests of lawful marchers lit a fuse. Things got more militant and Trump - with the able assistance of his “personal” Attorney General - added some gasoline - those armed and unidentified feds - and, sure enough, things got hotter.

The escalating street problems in Portland and Kenosha - and elsewhere - are really political problems. Rather than let locals deal with locals, Trump and his minions have inserted themselves onto the scenes and have fanned smouldering ashes into full-blown fires. Now he - and only he - can be the “law and order” president who brings further federal resources to bear to restore peace. A peace he has deliberately shattered.

Bad politics and a few bad - or panicked - cops share much of the blame for problems we’re seeing in the streets. The thousands of good cops, doing their daily duties, don’t get the recognition or the notoriety. Neither do the politicians who are trying to mediate and solve problems.

But, Trump and the cop who fired the seven bullets into Jacob Blake’s back make the front pages and the 11 o’clock news.

My faith’s shaken a bit. But, the “bad guys” won’t prevail.
 

Not an outlier

rainey

Let’s be very, very certain about this. The organized, window- smashing break-in to the gallery of the Idaho House of Representatives last week by Idaho “citizens” portends more violence. Possibly in the streets. Bet on it!

I started covering the Idaho Legislature in late 1966 and did so - off and on - until 1985. During that time, I watched people protesting this-that-and-the-other politely escorted from both chambers and committee hearings for being nuisances. Politely. But, never in all that time, did I see an angry bunch of “citizens,” following a guy with a rifle, break through a Statehouse gallery door and refuse to act in accordance with House rules when asked by the Speaker of the House to be orderly or leave. Never even close!

Then, the next day in a hearing room, more shouting and refusal to leave a seating area specifically reserved for the press. More shouting, profanities, more chants of “This is our house,” more continued disruption.

As far back as the ‘60's, we’ve watched what was, at first, a fringe “conservative” branch of Republicans in North Idaho, twist and shout their looney conspiracies and back political candidates who espoused the same craziness. Even split the GOP-North into several “real” Republican Committees. Folk in the South didn’t pay much attention.

In recent years, from Lewiston North, citizen “militias” formed. Armed groups of citizen “militias.” They play “war games” in the forests and cling to their automatic weapons while they chant many of those same old conspiracy theories.

Still, most Idahoans haven’t paid a lot of attention to the evolution in another time zone. Things in South Idaho have been a lot more “city-fied” and quiet when it’s come to saber-rattling. East Idaho - quiet but with some rural conservatism though, as far as we know, unarmed.

But, last week’s Statehouse outburst - with professional trouble-maker Ammon Bundy in the crowd - has shown it’s time to pay attention. Bundy, who’s had many run-ins with the law in Idaho, Oregon and Nevada, had to be carried out off the premises by State troopers - not once but twice. He’s since been banned from entering the Statehouse for a year.

Something else to note. The law-breakers were not just from the North. There were some Treasure Valley faces in that crowd. Quite a few. How many and how close an attachment to the armed folks up North we don’t know. But, the more militant spirit seems to have spread.

For many, many years - and not just in Idaho - most of us have just ignored the Limbaugh-loving folk. We left them alone. They left us alone. But, during those same years, Limbaugh’s voice was joined by others: Hannity, Beck, Carlson, Dobbs, Malkin, Ingraham and a dozen more. Each with a handful of “vocal” matches lighting little rightwing fires here and there. And over there.

Still, we’ve let ‘em alone. We’ve treated ‘em as a “minority” and turned our collective backs on the yammering. “Sooner or later,” we thought, “they’ll get tired of their minority status and join the rest of us.”

Well, the Idaho Statehouse rabble and the “soldier wannabees” in the North Idaho bushes aren’t going to re-adjust and join the rest of us down by the river singing “Kum-Ba-yah.” Ain’t gonna happen.

At the risk of being labeled a rabble-rouser, it seems adding Idaho’s increasingly upscale violent activities to the continued and escalating violence across the country, it’s beginning to look like we’re headed to some confrontations. Maybe many confrontations. Armed confrontations.

We’ve got growing political violence in the streets. We’ve got increasingly dangerous protests of cop-killings. Cop-killings all too common. We’ve got death threats being made against peaceful, law-abiding groups who’ve had to cancel their own community public rights out of fear. We’ve got I-net web sites, many of ‘em
linking these “militias” and threatening more armed violence against the rest of us.

The peace and enjoyment of community we used to have are being threatened by armed, vocal and dangerous people. Their numbers are growing and becoming more publically active. Their basic belief seems to be get a gun - or many guns - for self-protection and to fend off people who don’t think their way or who represent what they see as threats to the Republic. Now, they’re in our streets. Pushing against us and against authority. Seemingly anyone’s authority.

The unexpected incursion at the Idaho Statehouse last week was small on its face. But, throw in a guy at the front with a rifle, busting through a locked House door, a professional trouble-maker like Bundy in the crowd, refusal to obey decorum and orders from elected authority, the added raucous disruption of a legitimately-held legislative hearing, state police having to eject people and you’ve got a precursor of more trouble. Not less.

“See ya next year?” Quite possibly.

Sooner or later - sooner is my thought - these people and many, many others breaking our laws, making streets unsafe, challenging legal authority, destroying public property and threatening our peace and tranquility have to be stopped. Either that or we face a dangerous world of increasing lawlessness and disorder.

Was the vandalism, the incursion, the refusal to follow rules or requests of duly elected officials at your Statehouse just a one-time event? Was it a warning of louder, more violent things to come?

Or was it just an outlier?
 

It ain’t over

rainey

So, we’re living with COVID-19.

We’ve had to adjust our lives to it. Learn to live with it. Take precautions we never thought about before. And, no one is even predicting a time when it’ll all be over. Truth be told, it may be with us permanently. In one form or another.

Researchers have already found new strains and new ways Coronavirus causes permanent damage to the human body. Like nearly all viruses, it grows, morphs and takes on new characteristics. Just like the flu bug. Each year, scientists make a best guess to formulate the vaccines most of us get. Maybe they identify two dozen strains from which they have to pick the right combination for our shots. Best guess.

So, if we agree this killer virus will be here long term and, if we agree the virus keeps changing and, if we agree there does not now exist a viable vaccine to deal with it - then why the Hell are we putting kids and teachers and teacher’s aides back into classrooms? How many kids and teachers have to die before some school board of health care amateurs can say “Well now, guess that wasn’t such a good idea after all?”

Every day, we read of some university or college being hit with coronavirus outbreaks after students have returned to campus. University of North Carolina and Duke were especially bad. Presidents of both had to say a big “OOPS” and close campuses, forcing the unaffected to online learning.

People in authority from local school boards to DC politicians are calling the shots. Politically. Yes, politically! They should NOT be. Health professionals of all stripes have been raising red flags all over the place. “Not yet,” they’re saying. “Not yet! Let’s get an effective vaccine first.”

In so many places, the warnings are being overridden by local elected types. Moms, bankers, store clerks and part-time politicians. People, whose only experience with viruses may be that annual flu shot, are committing children and teachers to the confines of a classroom where effective protection is just plain damned impossible. Not to mention office staffs, custodians, food service personnel and anyone who has to visit or do business with schools.

Hospitals, nursing homes and other resident care venues have infection control people working full time. They’re constantly spraying, dusting, mopping, wiping and disinfecting the premises. Full time! Got one or two like that in your elementary or high school buildings? Somebody disinfecting the lavatories every few hours? No. No you don’t.

Coronavirus ain’t over. Idaho has been attempting to reach a lower level on the COVID scale so more businesses can open. And it’s failed. For weeks.

Europe, riding high on several weeks of improved COVID news, is having to revert to closures and making people stay home. It’s BACK! India can’t seem to make progress toward normalcy. Countries in South America saw reductions in reported cases and opened up. Now, they’re closing. More people dead.

Why can’t we learn? Why are politicians and amateurs making healthcare decisions and not the professionals - doctors- researchers - who know what the evidence is? Just because the school calender shows an opening date - a date picked far ahead of the arrival of Coronavirus - why is engraved in stone? Why can’t we learn from the tragic mistakes of others, rather than repeatedly running headlong into “the wall?”

Every nation in the world right now is in flux - working day-to-day on ever-changing information - adjusting and readjusting to the ebb and flow of the latest COVID-19 news. Waiting for that “magic vaccine.”

But, we Americans seem not to learn. The early August higher-ed openings have produced more victims of the disease and they’re shutting down. We’re seeing new reports of many COVID cases coming out of that Harley-Davidson rally in South Dakota. All over the country! Beach parties have sent hundreds to hospitals in California and Florida. Nut cases who thought themselves “invincible” and “It can’t happen to me!” Well, they weren’t. And it did.

If I had a school-age child right now, he/she would NOT be going to a classroom with 20-30 other kids. Putting a mask on an elementary child is one thing. Keeping it on - for a day or many days of classes - is quite another. Restrooms, cafeterias, crowded hallways, sweaty gyms, busses packed with 40-50 kids. Those kids? You’re expecting masks being properly worn? Really?

Next time I’ve got a serious health concern, I’ll check in with my doctor. And not someone on the school board. Mr./ Mrs. so-and-so. Not an unqualified someone who made a decision that killed a dozen kids.

Reopening American schools now is a rush to sacrifice children. And teachers. How many will get sick with life-long health problems? How many will die? In your district?

It ain’t over!
 

Good news/bad news

rainey

Two major events in the news these days. One seems very good; the other very, very tragic. Let’s deal with the good first.

Joe Biden’s pick of Kamala Harris as his running mate. The national media’s treatment of that news has been largely about her ethnicity. No matter the real subject of reporting, the second paragraph - or sound bite - we’re constantly being reminded of her mixed race - Black and East Indian. And, “the historic importance” of same. Always got to get that in. Enough already. We get it.

Harris comes to the ticket with some interesting positives. And a couple of negatives. Plus side, whether as a former California Attorney General or as a first-term Senator, she’s proven herself a tough inquisitor, hard bargainer and a worthy opponent when she disagrees with someone or some thing. She backed Trump’s Attorney General (and personal lawyer) Barr into a verbal corner during a hearing on the Hill. And, she brought SCOTUS nominee Kavanagh to tears in his Senate confirmation hearing. At the moment, it’s Harris two, Trump nominees zero.

Yep, she’s a hard charger. And, apparently, a quick learner. Harris is completing her third year of her first term in the Senate. She’s sponsored - or co-sponsored - some interesting legislation. Most of it hasn’t gone anywhere because Mitch McConnell has filled several waste baskets with bills from Democrats. But, that hasn’t stopped her from trying.

Her background, we’re assured, is clean as that old whistle. My guess is she’s been vetted so closely the Biden team can tell you what she had for breakfast March 23, 1987. Trump’s team of political grave diggers can do their nasty work 24/7 and, in the end, they won’t know as much as Biden. Not his first rodeo.

On the downside, there’s that business of only in the middle of her first term in Congress. Most VP nominees come to the ticket with a lot more experience in world affairs, the military or similar fields. Possibly the most qualified VP pick, at least in recent history, was Bush the elder. His political bio had so many important entries it looked almost as if he couldn’t keep a job. Harris - not so much. But, as mentioned afore, she seems to learn quickly.

It’s often said the President’s main job is foreign affairs. As far as the whole Congress goes, no one has more expertise than Joe Biden. He’s on a first-name basis with leaders of the countries we have to re-establish relationships with. There’s also his many years on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - many as chairman - going back to Frank Church days. Uncle Joe has the “chops.” Very long “chops” to undertake that important task.

While Harris lacks lengthy congressional experience, there are those three-years on the Hill. She’s gotten to know the ins-and-outs, who the staff players are, who can move legislation and who can get jobs done even without prominent titles.

So, Biden may figure, he’ll take on the immediately necessary work of re-establishing relationships and assuring other nations of our intent to honor our treaties and other obligations. Harris can deal with Congress to rebuild the vital trust and working arrangements as necessary between that Constitutional body and the White House.

If that’s the case, we could be looking at a President-Vice President team with the possibility of being as cohesive and effective as Obama-Biden. Just could be.

Now, that aforementioned tragic event: forcing schools to reopen.

From local school boards to Trump, politicians can jump up and down and shout from the rooftops that schools MUST reopen “for the good of the children.” Pure B.S.! In nearly all cases, school reopening this year will be done on a political basis and not sound public health policy. Period!

We already know, from the few schools operating, teachers and kids are being infected. In Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and elsewhere, it’s been bad enough some schools have been shuttered.

Why is it so damned hard to deal with this? Why is it so difficult to understand the basic facts so apparent with coronavirus?

Many professional athletes are sitting out the season in several sports. Why? The billion-dollar “non-profit” teams all have the power to acquire unlimited health protections and the best medical staffs money can buy. Whatever the cost. But, many players aren’t going to play. Why? COVID-19, that’s why!

Yet, we’re going to put 25-30 kids in classrooms, give ‘em all face masks and expect things will be all hunky-dory? You kiddin’ me? You ever see what kids can do with a face mask - other than wearing it? Who’s going to disinfect each classroom before another gang of students moves in? Restrooms? Playground equipment? Hallways? Lockers? Gyms?

Politics first. Safety - and protection of our children - a distant second.

My wife is a retired educator with several degrees and 40 years of classroom, staff and supervisory experience. Hash marks up to here. Top qualifications. And she wouldn’t set foot in an elementary or secondary building today. She calls ‘em “breeding grounds” for the pandemic. “Breeding grounds.”

Online classes also have one major -and possibly fatal - problem. Many kids don’t have computers. And, if they did, some don’t have I-net access. They can’t do the school work that’s so heavily dependent on technology these days.

Maybe I’m just one old tree in the forest. But, given the knowledge we have of the ability of COVID-19 to cause massive sickness and death - even under the best conditions - it just could be we need to keep schools closed at least to the end of the year. Give educational pros the chance to compact a year’s school work into five months or so and reopen under a safer school environment- if pandemic conditions change.

If things don’t get better by January, skip it. If athletes being paid millions can - for safety’s sake - forego a year’s salary, maybe the lives of our children, worth at least that much, can take a year off.

The real problem for putting kids back in school isn’t so much what we know of COVID-19 as it is what we DON’T know. With five-million infected - and the 165-thousand or so Americans who’ve died - we have little hard evidence of all the ways this disease is transmitted or how each person picked it up. Without that knowledge and knowing the dangers inherent for kids, you really want to put your child into a classroom that’s more “Petrie dish” than a place of learning?

My congratulations to Sen. Harris. My condolences to parents who may gamble with their kids lives. And lose.
 

GOP law and (dis)order

rainey

What is it with Republicans?

Why are so many who’ve made it into public office - one way or another -being convicted, going to jail, being sued for something, resigning or otherwise being chased out of office?

Now, before someone gets all lathered up and accuse me of overlooking some Democrat miscreants, there’ve been some. Quite some time ago, if memory is correct. Yes, there were a few.

But, in the last several years, it seems the GOP has had a corner on the “crooked politician market.” They’re all over the place.

We’ve got three here in the desert. One of our public “servants,” Rep. David Schweikert. After several terms, he’s been officially convicted and sentenced in the House. Paid a $50,000 fine. And it’s not over yet. Covering the period 2010-2018, you can count undisclosed - and illegal - loans, misuse of campaign funds, improper spending of congressional office expense funds and using office staff to do political campaign work. Ol’ Dave’s looking at possibly some years in a crossbar hotel.

Public “servant” number two is our own very junior - and temporary - Arizona “Senator” previously rejected by voters in 2018 as she sought a U.S. Senate seat, GOPer Martha McSally. In her legislative days, there was a big kerfuffle over illegal campaign violations. BIG! Got all fixed up though, with some majority party legislative slight-of-hand before our Trump-wannabe governor sent her back to Washington for a few months in office. If the polls are right, she’ll be home soon.

Then there’s Arizona’s own Joe Arpaio - “America’s Toughest Sheriff.” A Republican. Voters tossed him out in 2016 after being twice convicted - twice - of contempt of federal court orders to stop racial profiling when making arrests. He “flipped the bird” to the court and kept doing “business as usual.” For him. Ordered to jail. For unknown ”reasons,” Trump pardoned him, though he’s still a convicted felon. Two times. Now, Arpaio's been running for sheriff. Again. His campaign signs said “Re-elect Sheriff Arpaio.” He hasn’t been sheriff around here for years. “Re-elect?” But, being a two-time convicted felon - pardon or not - he nearly won his primary last week. The real “winner” was Jerry Sheridan - by six-thousand votes. Sheridan was Arpaio’s Chief Deputy for years and was also charged with Arpaio. What do we do now?

Ah, we have GOP Rep. Steve Watson in Kansas. Three felony charges and a misdemeanor. The felonies include interference with a law enforcement officer, providing false information, voting while unqualified, unlawful advance voting. Lost his primary. Now what? Probably a trial. In Kansas.

Also in the news, there’s Republican Larry Householder in the Ohio legislature. Oh, more than that, Larry is Speaker of the House. He’s been nailed on charges of racketeering. And some other, lesser crimes.

During the Trump years, at least three members of the U.S. House have been forced into “retirement” and the private job market for various bad deeds. One that comes quickly to mind is Duncan Hunter, former GOP Rep from California. He’s still in jail, serving out his 11 month conviction for campaign finance fraud. Another Republican “law and/or order” fella.

In Idaho, John Bujak is cooling his heels in the slammer. Stealing from family members this time. Misappropriation by use of false identity. Republican Bujack, former candidate for governor and former Canyon County Prosecutor, stood trial five times on other felony charges from 2012 to 2014. Also pleaded guilty to contempt of court.

What the hell has happened to the GOP?

Oh, I nearly forgot. Trump. And Mike Flynn. And Paul Manafort. And Michael Cowen. And several other “Republicans” from Trump’s White House gang and a few more on his campaign committee and several hires for the skimpy inaugural.

And Trump himself. Though he hasn’t said it out loud, he’s grasping at every “club in the bag” because of just one thing. Because he knows, once he becomes “private citizen” Trump, he’s going to get hit from state and federal prosecutors and a few defense attorneys with multiple charges of a dozen or so crimes. Some
offices have already hinted what’s coming! You’ll need a traffic cop to keep order by February, 2021.

Taxes? Yep. By the time Trump gets back to his Tower in January there’ll be Manhattan District Attorney Vance who already has Donald’s banking records if not the actual tax returns. Several suits are currently pending seeking those same documents - government, corporate and private. Someone else will get ‘em.

Next, the New York Attorney General - the one threatening continued existence of the NRA - who’s hinted she has a large box of documents labeled “TRUMP.” She, too, seems to be awaiting someone’s return to private citizen status.

Also, some leaked clues from the prosecutors of the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the Eastern District. Also the Northern District of Virginia and the DC prosecutor, too.

And don’t forget Rep’s. Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler and some other committee heads who have their own legal documents and queries. And, those 23 women who’ve filed sexual assault charges awaiting private citizen Trump.

If the U.S. Senate flips in November, you’ll likely see some new hearings, some new investigations, some new indictments. Tain’t over.

Again, yes, there have been some Democrat crooks. Some convictions and some jail terms. But, given the evidence above, Republicans have come screaming back to recapture the national “Political Crook of the Year” crown.

We’re going to have a chance in a few weeks to do some House - and Senate - cleansing. White House, too. Given the current number of Republicans charged, under indictment, convicted and/or jailed, the “broom” will have to be very large. Very. It’ll take a lot of “hands’ on the handle to be effective.

Got your gloves? Better still, got your big black or blue ink pen?
 

Explosive times

rainey

With my coffee in the morning, I browse half a dozen newspapers on the old I-net plus half a dozen news sites found only online. Sip a little. Read a little. Sip a little more. Read a little more.

Then P-O-W! One headline stopped me cold. Never seen one like it. It read “Group Prepares for Chance Trump Refuses to Concede Election.”

Two teams of scholars, politicians, retired military and an assortment of others have been meeting - secretly - inventing and playing various scenarios the nation might face if Trump loses the November presidential election and won’t relinquish the White House.

Think about the headline and the above paragraph. Just quietly think about those words - what they mean - what they really mean. People accomplished in varying fields have been gaming what course of action other powers in our nation - unelected powers - should be called on if an American president won’t relinquish the office after losing an election.

The idea that such goings-on have been “going on” in our country is truly mind-blowing. That smart, well-educated, some militarily-trained minds would consider it necessary to participate in such protracted exercises is damned near un-American!

The idea that such goings-on have been “going on” in our country is truly mind-blowing. That smart, well-educated, militarily-trained minds would consider it necessary to participate in such protracted exercises is damned near un-American!

What the Hell is going on? Have we become a “banana republic?” Are we living under a dictatorship - much as Trump wishes so? Is the powerful verdict of our voting franchise - the most valuable prize of citizenship - in danger of being brushed aside?

Then, as I calmed down to ponder, I continued looking at the computer screen. And I was thunder-struck again? P-O-W! Again!

Here’s what I read on just one page, one news site on one day.

“Trump’s election tweet shows a frightened narcissist afraid of losing.”

"The people who must stop Trump’s assault on voting.”

“Trump’s trashing democracy ripples beyond America.”

“Trump’s a narcissist afraid of losing.”

“Obama warns Trump’s actions threaten democracy.”

“Trump’s own intelligence officers contradict his repeated claims of mail-in voter fraud”

“USPS workers warn of new Trump policies (that will) affect voting by mail.”

One news site - one day. Just one.

Out of curiosity, I back-checked a month of reporting - and resultant headlines - on the same subject. On the same site. I found 97 mostly negative headlines about Trump, most sounding just like these examples. On just one news site. Not including a single headline from dozens of others.

Such is the state of our presidency at this moment. Such is the state of our politics at this moment. Such is the deep concern of former military leaders, scholars and a handful of politicians - that we could be facing anarchy.

The election is 93 days from today. Inauguration day - the day to transfer the mantle of the presidency is 79 days after that. A total of 172 days away. A little less than six months.

What sorts of headlines will be produced in those 172 days about our nation’s politics? About Trump? About barriers to our voting process?

One could also seriously ask, “What kind(s) of violence on our national political scene will develop?” Because, there are hints of an expansion of the violence already in our streets.

Casting a huge, black pall over all this is the pandemic - COVID-19. Because of Trump’s inaction when warned the coronavirus was coming - because of his ongoing interference as cases and deaths mount - and because he’s now seemingly turned his back on current COVID-related events - he’s firmly tied together the pandemic and politics. Or, in his mind, politics first and pandemic second.

There’s only one political body that can check/stop Trump. The U.S. Senate. More accurately, Republicans in the U.S. Senate. But, because they hold a single digit majority - because they’ve spent the last three years refusing to respond to his outrageous and impeached behavior - because they’ve acted as a rubber stamp for Trump - he’s had free reign to rip and tear at the foundations of our national political and economic societies.

Now, hours later, I’ve re-read - and re-read - the facts of the “secret,” high-level scenario activity. Looked more deeply at both the reasoning for the assemblage and the qualifications of the “players.” And looked at some of the work they’ve done. The current president’s behavior has been continual lying and disloyalty to the oath he took over three years ago, so much so it was deemed necessary by these exceptional Americans to convene. It’s still a shock to hear about plans of action being made in case our current president is the first in history to disregard the will of the people and transfer power to his legitimately elected replacement.

I wrote several months ago about the possibility of Trump becoming a squatter in the White House if he loses the election. I wrote about the subject but offered no solution because the constitutional issues involved - not to mention the physical security affects - were far beyond my ken. What the hell would happen? Who would do what? When?

I have no idea if that scholarly group has devised a concrete plan of action, what that action would be and who would conduct the details in the event in such an explosive situation.

Just the fact that some highly qualified folks have found it necessary to “war game” such a topic is surprising. Then I looked back on those headlines. From one source. On one day. And the other negative - but factual - reporting found on that same site. In 30 days.

A former president unwilling to step back in the face of an elective loss. That’s damned frightening, my friends.

What the hell has happened to us?
 

Time bomb – ticking

rainey

No, it’s not the sinking numbers in presidential polling. Nor is it the next “insider” book from someone’s former White House days. And, it’s not Trump’s probable loss at the polls in November.

No, none of those. The ticking you hear is coming from the jail cell wherein resides one Ghislane Maxwell. Alleged procurer of teenage girls for the late Jeffrey Epstein. Friend of Donald Trump, a fellow that “wishes her well” in her upcoming trial on charges of twice lying to grand juries a few years ago, sex trafficking of children and enticement of minors. A friend.

Ms. Maxwell and the late Jeffery go back a long way. And, according to many published photos, she, he and DJT also have a years-long relationship. There are even a few pics that include Melania. Just one happy foursome of old “friends.”

Maxwell is the only person - or group of persons - to get well-wishes from Trump. Not storm-bashed Puerto Ricans. Not some Gold Star family or even thousands of Gold Star families. Not surviving relatives of the dead and dying because of our COVID-19 pandemic. Not even the thousands of doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are laboring - and dying - on the front lines of the Coronavirus catastrophe.

No, our president, while acknowledging he knows Ms. Maxwell, has saved his “well-wishes” just for her. Ghislane. A suspected accomplice in rounding up teenage girls for sexual abuse and rape who are then discarded with a hundred dollar bill and, sometimes, even a “thank you.”

Given all that background, all that tragic despoiling of innocent youth, the suicide (maybe) of Epstein in his jail cell, why would Trump look into the TV cameras and well-wish someone he knows - and someone who is charged with such heinous crimes? Why would he do that? To her alone? In nearly four years.

Ah, therein lies the evidence of what I call the “time bomb.”

As she sits in her cell, Ghislane has got to be thinking of ways to reduce what could be a jail term longer than her normal life expectancy. She’s got to be looking at the blue sky through the crossbars on her cell window and wondering just what her options are and how she might lessen the number of years of that same view.

“Aha,” she thinks. “I know people. Important people. I’ve even got pictures and (possibly) some videos from the Epstein mansion and elsewhere. I’ve got contemporary accounts. I may just have some bargaining chips.”

While those are my speculative words, I’d bet the farm they come pretty close to her thoughts. Because, aside from the Trump family, she knows who, where, how many times, with whom, with how many teenage “whoms” and how the enticement schemes worked. She knows the users. And the used.

Trump and Epstein go back a long way. There are published pictures from the ‘80's. Even one of Trump holding Epstein in a bear hug and kissing the side of his head. There are videos of the three - Epstein, DJT and Ghislane at Mar-a-Lago and elsewhere. There’s just too much public evidence of the relationship. Whatever it was. And she knows it. And HE knows it!

Bargaining down her likely long hoosegow penalty is not uncommon. Especially when the unmentionables could help her by becoming mentionable and result in her more quickly becoming a free person again .

It’s hard not to believe she’s talking to prosecutors about a “deal.” And that’s got to be weighing heavily on DJT’s mind.

In six months, he’s going to be a past-president. A civilian again. Unless he, too, decides to bargain with say, the Justice Department - under Bill Barr’s successor - or the folks from the Department’s Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of New York or the Northern District of Virginia or the New York Attorney General or the Manhattan DA, he could be looking at time in somebody’s crossbar hotel. All those entities are believed to have some actionable files relating to #45, the Kushner’s, Rudy, Stone and others in the misbegotten world of Trump. And don’t forget the taxes. Ah, the tax filings. No more “under audit” excuses.

Then, of course, there are those 23 pesky women who’ve filed charges of sex abuse and other crimes. While the statute of limitations probably has reduced the number of active cases, we know some still linger. He knows that, too.

But, then there’s Ms. Maxwell. Ghislane. Wasting away in a Manhattan jail cell. What if she makes her own deal? First.

If I were in her place - in that cell - I’d try for a deal in (please forgive me) a New York minute! She’s got the goods. She knows the players and the played. She’s got pictures, records, probably some contemporary notes. I’d bet she’s got enough of something to get someone’s attention before her upcoming trial.

And that, Virginia, is a time bomb. A ticking time bomb. In the White House master bedroom at, oh say, two or three in the early morning, a ticking that can wake the dead.

Just saying. . . . . . . . . .