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Posts published in September 2016

Trump 40: No giving back (privately)


Public figures who have substantial money often make charitable giving a part of their financial picture. It can help at tax time, it can cement relationships in the community (whatever the community may be), it can simply feel good or plainly be intended to do something positive. And charitable donations can help communities.

The list of people, local and national, who give to charities and set up non-profit charitable foundations of their own is vast, and it's a list of people who help our society even while doing good of some sort for themselves.

Donald Trump has a charitable foundation, or at least so it called: It is the Trump Foundation. But you probably will have to look hard to find many other foundations much like it.

Washington Post reporter David Farenthold has been looking into it, and said in an interview on NPR, "Trump hasn't actually given it any of his own money since 2008. Other people have supplied all the money in that time, which you don't normally see with a rich person's private charity. Those things are usually just filled up with a rich person's money. So we wondered, well, why does anybody give money to prop up Donald Trump's personal charity? And we learned an answer to that, which is that in - as you mentioned, in some cases, Trump has people who owe him money either for business dealings or they buy tickets that he has rights to. They pay the Trump Foundation and not Trump himself. Now, you can do that. That's totally legal. But Trump would have to pay income tax on that - those donations because they're his income. He directed where they went. So I'd also like to know - was Trump complying with that law? Was he paying income tax on this money he was sending to his foundation?"

And then there was this: "a lot of the times you see a wealthy person will help one group year after year, one cause - cancer research, for instance, autism research, a particular college or university. There's nothing like that in Trump's foundation. Instead, the main theme in the gifts seems to be that they help Trump's personal life or his business life. Trump owns a lot of facilities, including the Mar-a-Lago Club down in Florida, that do a lot of business with charities that can cost up to $270,000 to rent out - for a charity to rent out Mar-a-Lago for one night. And so you see a lot of cases in which Trump gives - donates money to other people who then just give it back to him by renting out Mar-a-Lago for a lot of money."

There is much, much more. New York state is investigating; whether the Internal Revenue Service is, is unknown.

But that's only one piece of the Trump-charities picture. Trump has said that he's a big donor to charities; he said in May, "I've given millions away."

But a June 28 Farenthold story in the Post story said "Trump promised millions to charity. We found less than $10,000 over 7 years." In his context, that's pocket change.

An article in 2011 by The Smoking Gun said that Trump “may be the least charitable billionaire in the United States.”

And you think this would-be president actually cares about people in the rest of the world? - rs

Leroy’s Lincoln


A few weeks ago former Idaho Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor David Leroy turned 69. He has stayed in good shape (Obviously exercises daily)and except for his all white, perfectly coifed hair one might think he was in his late 40’s or early 50’s.

With apologies to Irish poet Dylan Thomas, Leroy is not quietly going into the good night, nor with apologies to General Douglas MacArthur, is he like an old soldier fading away.

Still bursting with energy, a ready smile, a sense of humor and plain smarts tell one why he came so close to winning Idaho’s governorship in 1986.

Early in his political career Leroy idolized former governor and U.S. Senator Len B. Jordan, a principled but reasonable conservative. The Leroys even named their first child, a daughter, after Jordan. In addition, he gave an eloquent and heartfelt eulogy at Grace Jordan’s funeral services.

Somewhere along his political path Leroy became more and more enthralled with the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. He stumbled, metaphorically speaking, across the factoid that Lincoln had signed the legislation creating the Idaho territory in 1863. The more he read the more enthralled he became. It truly can be said that he is a self-educated genuine Lincoln scholar.

He has traveled the state talking about Lincoln and his impact on Idaho. He easily won a grant from Idaho’s Humanities Council to support some of the expenses for these lectures. The grant, however, does not cover all his expenses so he donates his time as well as his treasure to the cause.

During these past years he and his wife accumulated a decent collection of Lincoln memorabilia which they have donated to the Idaho Historical Library and a wing of the Idaho archives contains a fine display of much of their donation.
In early September Leroy announced the formation of the Idaho Lincoln Institute, a non-profit that will be dedicated to public education, opinion research and presentations taking educated guesses on where Lincoln might be on divisive political issues of our time. Early next year he intends to announce the formation of an advisory board and to begin fund-raising.

With the announcement, Leroy sent out several pages of quotes from Lincoln on issues still under debate today such as amending the Constitution and holding a constitutional convention.

Oddly, though Leroy had no quote touching on one of the major issues still dividing Idahoans today and that is the grants of every other section of public land to the routes railroad companies constructed across the west. The grants were incredibly generous incentives to the timber firms that emerged from these railroad firms---companies such as Weyerhauser, Potlatch and Plum Creek can trace their lineage to these grants which in places like Idaho’s upper Lochsa and the upper St. Joe have become management nightmares.

This has led to often controversial land swaps in which the public land agencies such as the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management try to work out equitable in value land swaps and block up holdings for more efficient management.

Leroy does mention Lincoln’s equally important signing of the Homestead Act that especially in southern Idaho spurred economic growth as settlers received 160 acres of land to farm.

Leroy’s selection of quotes does make it clear that Lincoln had no problem with selling public lands to private interests and he clearly believed in public/private partnerships.

Oddly enough, this stance by Lincoln would put him at odds with the Republican nominee for president today, one Donald Trump. When asked about the selling of public lands to states or private interests at a September 22nd fund-raising event in Boise, Trump’s son, Donald Junior, raised more than a few conservative eyebrows by saying: that he and his father have “broken away from conservative dogma a little bit” on public lands. “We want to make sure that public lands stay public,” he said. “I’m a big outdoorsman, I’m a big hunter, when I lived out here that’s what I hunted on, public land, and I want to make sure that the next generation has that ability to do that.” He said if federal lands were transferred to state control, they could be sold off when a state has a budget shortfall, “and then all of a sudden, you never have access to those lands ever again.”

At least Trump has one issue correctly sized up. The more things change the more they stay the same.

Trump 41: Positions in rotation


Many of the same people who so liked George W. Bush for taking a rock-hard, steady position during his administration, also plan to vote for Donald Trump.

It beggars belief.

Scarcely any stance or position, on anything, has remained steadfast through the Trump presidential campaign. Many politicians change positions over the years. Hillary Clinton has changed several. Politicians sometimes do it for principled reasons - new information, or a serious reconsideration of a point of view. Sometimes it happens for political advantage, or to stay in tune with changes in a group.

But until Donald Trump, probably no politician in history, ever, has taken so many stands so unreliably - not even in the ballpark close.

Not long ago NBC News compiled a list of Trump's varying stands on major issues. It is a very, very long list. The major point to be drawn from it is that anyone who thinks they know where Trump stands on anything, is wrong.

If Trump is foremost identified with any one issue, that probably would be immigration; he is known mostly for taking what's perceived as a "hard line" on it. See what straight line you can draw through this (if you'd like references on any of these, I refer you to the original NBC article):

1. Trump opened his campaign with a pledge to build a wall on the United States' southern border, and quickly deport all 11 million undocumented immigrants.

2. Weeks later, in July 2015, he said he still wanted deportations but planned to retrieve "good" ones: "They have to be in here legally".

3. His next statement, in late summer, called for the wall and deportation, and two new elements: triple the corps of immigration officers, and end the birthright citizenship guaranteed in the constitution.

4. In November, he said he'd undertake the mass deportation apparently not with the existing immigration agency but with a "deportation force".

5. In February this year, during the primaries, Trump sounded as if he was reversing course on the deportations. NBC noted "that in off-the-record talks with The New York Times, Trump admitted this was just bluster and a starting point for negotiations, saying he might not deport the undocumented immigrants as he's promised. Trump has refused calls to release the transcript, despite furious requests from his rival candidates.:

6. Next, in June this year, he returned to a call for deporting undocumented immigrants, but would label it something other than "mass deportations."

7. In August - last month - Trump's new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway said the whole deportation idea is up in the air, and the plan for a deportation force is "TBD" - to be determined.

(Note: Take a deep breath. We're barely a third of the way through the changes in position on immigration. Actually, on just one aspect of immigration . . .)

8. On August 22, President Barack Obama announced a policy of expelling as a top priority undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes. Asked about this, Trump said, "I'm gonna do the same". He didn't address what he'd do about other immigrants.

9. One day later, Trump announced that he was amenable to "softening" his policy on immigration, though he didn't say how.

10. The day after that, still in late August, Trump (as NBC noted) "outlined an immigration plan that sounded an awful lot like the kind of path to legalization championed by Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio — the very people Trump excoriated for weak immigration plans while he campaigned on a promise of mass deportations." Speaking on a Fox TV program, he said, "No citizenship. Let me go a step further — they'll pay back-taxes, they have to pay taxes, there's no amnesty, as such, there's no amnesty, but we work with them," Trump said.

11. Three days after that, on August 27, Trump said, "On day one, I am going to begin swiftly removing criminal illegal immigrants from this country. We are going to get rid of the criminals, and it will happen within one hour" of his swearing-in.

12. All of this have resulted in considerable confusion, Trump's surrogates appeared on television the next day (Sunday) to say that Trump hadn't changed his immigration policies at all. Their statements, however, conflicted with each other.

13. Conway next said that the idea of a deportation force was not - or was no longer? - under consideration.

14. Over the next few days, a flat statement was repeated that there had been no changes in the immigration plan.

15. On August 30, Donald Trump, Jr., possibly trying to clarify, said that all undocumented immigrants were to be deported: "That's been the same, correct. But again, you have to start with baby steps. You have to let ICE do their job, you have to eliminate sanctuary cities, you have to get rid of the criminals certainly first and foremost, you have to secure the border. These are common sense things."

16. On September 1, just after an afternoon stopover in Mexico City, Trump spoke at Phoenix said reiterated his hardest-line stances, including creating a deportation force and demanding Mexico "pay for the wall."

17. Later that evening, Trump was asked whether his policy really was "softening," and he said, "Look, we do it in a very humane way, and we're going to see with the people that are in the country. Obviously I want to get the gang members out, the drug peddlers out, I want to get the drug dealers out. We've got a lot of people in this country that you can't have, and those people we'll get out. And then we're going to make a decision at a later date once everything is stabilized ... I think you're going to see there's really quite a bit of softening."

18. On September 6 he said he might be agreeable to a "path to citizenship."

This doesn't include the at least four difference positions on dealing with Dreamers - the undocumented people who grew up in the United States, many in college or beginning adult lives.

NBC also notes nearly endless policy changes (if you can call them that) on subjects ranging from the minimum wage to ISIS to taxes, guns, nuclear weapons on much more.

What would a Trump presidency seek to do? Are you for or against his stand? Who can say for sure? Certainly Donald Trump cannot. - rs

When it doesn’t trickle


The Republicans have paid unfettered, blind obeisance to the dogmatic tenet that government mandated redistribution of wealth is an abomination in a free market society for so long, that even some Democrats can no longer see the forest for the trees.

“Redistribution of wealth” is the singular, most dreaded anathema of the Republican objection to anything proposed that touches upon the economy. But in these changing times, this abhorrence of what may become an essential ingredient to our continued peace and prosperity needs to be reexamined.

Since around 1980 to current times, the inequality of income and wealth has gradually but dramatically shifted in the United States to the point where it might be reaching into dangerous proportions. From the end of the pre-Reagan era, around 1980, to the advent of the 2008 recession, being the halcyon period of supply-side economics, the incomes of the wealthiest 1% increased by a whopping 275%. The incomes for the top 40%, excluding the tip, increased around 63%, not bad and very comfortable; but the lower 60% did not fare nearly as well and the bottom quintile increased only 18% in close to 30 years.

From 2007 to the present, through the recovery and into the post-recession boom, in every other sector of the economy other that wages and incomes, the post-recession recovery has been spectacular. In every measured way we have returned to record levels in the financial markets, in manufacturing and production, in construction starts, in GDP, in the international value of the dollar, and in exports and imports.

In wages and incomes, it’s different. The raw employment numbers have almost returned to pre-recession levels, but the values in that employment have become even more lop-sided. The top 1% recovered much faster, with top incomes growing an additional 20%; however, incomes for the rest of the 99% have stayed flat, increasing overall less than 1%, with the bottom quintile actually losing ground. At the very tip of this number reside the top 400 wealthiest families, who now own more wealth than the entire bottom 50% of the population combined - more than the 150 million or so struggling at the bottom of the scale.

The upshot of all these numbers and percentages is that supply-side economics, or “Reagonomics,” or tickle-down economics, from the standpoint of producing a balanced economy that maintains a level field of opportunity for wages and incomes, with natural re-distribution flowing from internal market forces, does not work. The wealth and power is steadily amassing at the pinnacles. It does not trickle down. The only dramatic impact over almost 40 years of trickle-down economics has been the gradual eradication of the middle class labor force and significant impediments to the small and medium class independent businesses. We are left with the fabulously wealthy 0.1% of us growing even more fabulously wealthy; with the comfortably wealthy 1% of us staying comfortably wealthy; and with the remaining 99% of us losing ground. This group is largely beginning to sag and to struggle, and the pressures are beginning to build.

The shifting of wealth into the hands of the few amasses power in those hands, and with power comes additional pressures upon legislative bodies – state and federal – for protective measures to insulate the wealthiest proponents. While the Republican mantra may seem to be “no government regulation” period, the real mantra coming from the mouth of each of the most powerful is “no government regulation except for me.”

A prime example is the tax code, an impossible labyrinth of arcane and indefensible examples of outrageous favoritism, which everyone – right and left alike – agree should be scrapped and reconstructed from the ground up. Yet everyone – right and left alike – also agree that to attempt to do so in the present atmosphere of Congress would be a waste of time. Someone estimated that there are four highly paid lobbyist lurking the halls for every member of Congress, everyone with a different pet tax feature that they would insist be included in any attempt to rewrite the code.

If something is not done to turn this trend around and to rebalance the economy into a smoother curve of wealth across the entire population, it is going to tip over. The possible, if not probable result, if the situation continues to worsen, is a revolution. Perhaps it could be a bloodless revolution such as sustained the British as they reorganized their economy from one controlled by the medieval baronage system to the forerunner of the modern capital based system of today; or perhaps it will be as bloody as the French Revolution of the 18th century or the Russian Revolution of the 20th. If anyone is still shaking their head thinking it will never happen in modern times, all they need do is look at television, take note what is happening in many of our cities on almost a fortnightly basis, and multiply these events by any progression of numbers one picks, from 1 to 100. All that has to happen is for the present situation to continue to fester without relief.

From the standpoint of the progressive advocacy, it is not that the government should act, it is that there is no one else to act. There is no natural impetus to cause the private sector to favor more equitable balancing of wages and incomes, and most business leaders are not addressing this themselves. The fundamental principle of a free market economy is survival of the fittest, with no regard given in any respect to the individual or humane interests of the members of the economic element labeled “labor.” The assumptions from a pure economic standpoint is that all business entities are equal, and that “labor” is fungible, mobile and perfectly reactive to market forces, when in fact and individually, none of these characteristics are true. While we have many laws to protect the humane elements of the workplace – child labor laws, OSHA, workers’ compensation laws, etc., we have few laws to protect the economic strata of the individual members of the working class, and fewer still to protect the smaller businesses from unfair, predatory and sometimes criminal practices of the bigger entities.

The obvious facts are that unless the government steps in, it won’t happen. Big business won’t do it, the stockholders are not interested or are from a practical standpoint powerless to intervene, the financial markets do not reward social justice remedies, individual wealth is of no help, the individual worker has no power and no rights to act on his own, and organized labor has been stripped of resources once available, such as legal protection for union shops and striker’s rights, and has become a toothless tiger.

Government action is all that is left to increase or protect the economic standing of the individual worker. At a minimum the government could: enhance present laws on predatory and unfair business practices with a view to small and medium size entities; eliminate the presumption of “at will employment” and give seasoned workers built-in job protection; provide that participation in a legitimate strike called by the recognized bargaining unit of the business is not grounds for termination of employment; re-enact the limitation on pay ranges where the cash pay from the bottom to the top within a given business cannot exceed a certain ratio – the CEO’s cash salary cannot exceed X times the bottom individual’s actual pay, for example, with all pay rates in between equitably distributed along the curve; require stockholder approval for stock dilution incentives to top executives, such as disproportionate stock options; and enact a sound, national minimum wage, with mechanisms to keep this floor current as the economy fluctuates. This need not be a universal wage, applicable to all parts of the country; it is very true that different regions may well have different influences at work, and the requirements may shift as one moves about the country. The national government might set an index against which regional differences could be applied.

The point here is that all of these issues have been ignored for years on the national level, and this is contributing to the disproportionate shifting of income and wealth. More needs to be done if the inevitable is to be avoided, but we have to start somewhere.

Trump 42: Peter Thiel


Donald Trump's run for the presidency seems to be singularly oriented around Donald Trump; the drop from him to the next figure of real significance is steep. Theoretically, the secondary figure might be Mike Pence, the vice presidential nominee. But we mostly hear from him, it seems, when he's disagreeing with some oddball statement by his principal. There may be good reason we don't hear more from him.

Aside from family, political figures and other celebrity types, the one other notable figure at the National Republican Convention this year, the one other that Trump might actually think of as something of a peer, is Peter Thiel, who did get a convention speaking slot, and a prime one, shortly before Trump's own acceptance speech.

Much of the attention went to the point that he was "the first person ever at a GOP convention to declare from the stage that he is gay." Besides that, he is a major tech industry figure, a central leader in the development of Facebook and Paypal.

No problem with any of that. But when word began to circulate widely that Trump was interested in appointing him to the Supreme Court - Thiel is a lawyer - some reviews of Thiel's views were prompted. Thiel seems to be one of the few people whose views Trump has sought out for reference and maybe implementation, and could take a major place in a Trump administration, so they are well worth the review.

And some of them, if turned into some form of reality, could be well into the range of scary.

Some sound simply creative and out of the box, such as his co-founding of the Seasteading Institute, which has the fascinating (for libertarians) idea of establishing cities relatively free of government out in the oceans. Other initial enthusiasts appear to have backed away as the details of making such a thing happen proved hard to pin down.

It's the kind of thinking you might expect and - in its creativity - work for a high-tech executive, but not so much for a person tasked with running an actual, real-world government. (Which Thiel isn't - yet.)

Of more concern are some more philosophical thoughts he has let loose, which again are fine coming from a private citizen but would be scary if put into office.

In 2009, he wrote this for a Cato Institute publication: "I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. […] Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women—two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians—have rendered the notion of 'capitalist democracy' into an oxymoron." He leaves no doubt that in a conflict between the two, his sympathies lie with capitalism, not democracy.

Red flags should shoot up all over the place on reading this, and some did in 2009. Thiel partially walked back his statement to say he didn't want to take away anyone's right to vote. He has also added, "We're living in a representative republic, but then that's modified through a judicial system. Of course, that's been largely superseded by these very unelected agencies of one sort or another, which really drive most of the decision-making."

When the Wall Street Journal ran a piece about Thiel, Trump and the convention, a commenter named Tom Channing offered this by way of putting the pieces together:

"Peter Thiel is explicitly against the concept of democracy. This isn't something people concluded about him, it's something he proudly said himself. This is a conclusion he came to after a lot of deep thought. Unlike Trump, who is personally stupid and child-like, Peter Thiel is a very smart guy and doesn't say or do things without understanding their full implications."

The Guardian newspaper put it this way: "Trump isn’t just a flamethrower for torching a rotten establishment, however – he’s the fulfillment of Thiel’s desire to build a successful political movement for less democracy. A Trump administration would diminish democracy, lending credibility to white supremacy and ultranationalism. Trump is openly campaigning on the idea that American democracy should belong to fewer people. . . . Such an outcome would fit Thiel’s purposes well. For Thiel, a smaller, more easily manipulated mob is preferable to a bigger one. If democracy can’t be eliminated, at least it can be shrunk through authoritarianism. A strongman like Trump, by exploiting the racial hatred and economic rage of one group of Americans, would work to delegitimize and disempower other groups of Americans."

A quarter-millennium of progress toward expanding democracy, voting participation and human rights in America could stand on the edge of reversal in this coming election. - rs

James Earl Carter


For anyone with an honest interest in the true profession of politics, the name James Earl Carter may have been on your mind for the last few months. If you’re fortunate to have access to any form of media expression, coupled with that sincere interest in all things political, you’ve been wrestling with what to say about the Carter story - and how to say it - since his disclosure a year ago that he has cancer. And a resulting remission.

The best regional piece I’ve read was from friend Marc Johnson in Boise, on his blog “Many Things Considered” awhile back. Something thoughtfully political with a great deal of heart and substance.

Historians will continue to debate the Carter presidency as they do those of all temporary occupants of the Oval Office. The good - the bad - the important - the trivial. That’s their job and they’re welcome to it. Not possessing any of their scholarly credentials, don’t look for any of that here.

But, I’m an adult American male with some longevity and understanding of what I admire in someone of that same simple description. Politics aside, I can think of almost no other public figure who rises to the common definition of role model and just plain decent human being as does James Earl Carter.

I’m a cancer survivor. So far. As such, I’ve watched Carter’s public discussion of that very private issue of possible death with interest. In sum, his public statements about his battle contain what every medical professional looks for in someone in their care - thoughtfulness - perspective - reflection - understanding. And humor. Humor from - and directed at - the human experience that death is a part of living. If religion is part of someone’s life - as it certainly is for Carter - invoking one’s faith is not only relevant but crucial in how matters of fate can be accepted.

But, within a few hours, matters of politics soon interrupted these moments of witnessing humanity at its best. In less than a day, one of the cretins running for president took a public shot at the Carter presidency. A shot not only ill-timed but factless. As too many of recent statements have been. Embarrassment and personal humiliation don’t exist in Cruz world.

But Cruz and others - whoring for dollars and votes - have offered the most glaring examples of how far the institution of national politics has fallen compared to the humanity and moral stature of a Jimmy Carter. Trump is the worst as he usual is when taking about the value of someone’s humanity. His outright prostitution is selling himself for public adulation and to gorge his billionaire-sized ego

Try to simultaneously hold in your mind the kind of personal and public life lived and the contributions to humanity made by Carter since his White House years, while also considering those “candidates” who got into the Republican primary this year. Pick any one of the strident voices from the entire pack - just one - from whom voters could expect a future personal life of humanitarian service, public dignity and selfless contribution. I can’t.

Our recent political history is befouled by money, lies, unfounded fears of government spread by callous but well-paid voices, wide-spread willful ignorance, candidates far, far exceeding the “Peter Principle” and scores of office holders not qualified to do the jobs to which they’ve been elected.

The National Republic Party is reaping a harvest of shame from years of accepting the lowest denomination of unqualified candidates. This scrum of flotsam has been propped up by billionaires determined to set our country’s agenda for decades to come. For Democrats, the candidate is someone whose run has long been “ordained” but who’s not been sufficiently publically challenged in this campaign and who’s become profoundly rich at the public trough.

And it’s our fault. We’ve accepted all that. With the exception of Clinton and Sanders, we’ve accepted vastly unqualified people who’ve disdained educating themselves or participating in the knowledgeable conduct of their government. We - you and I - have not been involved enough with a selection process that puts names on the ballot - the names from which we have to chose who’ll determine our national course. We’ve stood at the polling place too often and cursed while making a choice of “the lesser of two evils.” By our careless and uninformed vote, we’ve allowed office seekers - and holders - to become whores chasing dollars and taxpayer-funded retirements while rewarding big donors with favoritism. We’ve failed to demand high standards and have allowed incompetence to be perpetuated and accepted. We’ve wrongfully allowed elected office holding to be perpetual employment.

Then, a former peanut farmer from Georgia displays the grace, dignity, acceptance and guts of someone you can’t help but admire, whatever his politics. He does it in our living rooms, face-to-face, showing us how to deal with our own mortality by offering the finest of ourselves.

For centuries, travelers have navigated by the North Star because of its reliability and brightness. Future presidents would do well to navigate their courses using the same qualities of humanness as James Earl Carter.

Trump 43: Welcome to dystopia


When your mayor speaks about your city, you expect them to talk it up - what a great place it is to live in, to do business in, to recreate in. That's normal. It's part of the job. Same thing for governors and their states.

And presidents and their countries.

In his debate Monday night with Hillary Clinton, presidential nominee Donald Trump called the United States "a third world country."

As he did at his party's convention, he described it as a horrific center of violence, an economic hellhole. A terrible, terrible place. And he went on this way, at length. It was not a passing comment but a central thread to his message.

To be clear here: Another part of running for president is to enumerate problems that the country does have, and talk about answers for them. Trump did enumerate some problems - usually in overwrought, almost hysterical terms. He missed many, many others. And he offered actual solutions for nearly none. When asked how he would redress certain problems (such as, near the beginning of the debate, bringing back to America jobs which have been offshored), he comes up with nothing. Nothing.

What we're left with is a vision of dystopia and hopelessness - and not only for now, but for the course of a Trump presidency.

I wouldn't vote for a person to be president of a local stamp collectors club if he had a comparable attitude about stamps, the collectors, or the club. It would just be counter productive.

If they want to protest the existence of a stamp club from outside, fine. But send them out the door - or, in this case, into the loser's column on election day. - rs

The Bates memorial


Legislators descended upon the capitol building in Salem last week for a series of interim committee meetings. But before conducting the peoples’ business, they convened in the Senate chamber to pay their respects to Sen. Alan Bates (D-Ashland), who passed away August 5.

Bates’ Tuesday, September 20 memorial service was attended by both former and current state lawmakers, staffers, lobbyists and members of the news media alike. Oregon Congressional delegation members Suzanne Bonamici and Kurt Schrader joined former governors Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski, Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, Governor Kate Brown and Salem oncologist and Republican gubernatorial nominee Bud Pierce in honoring Bates’ memory.

Soft piano music created appropriate ambiance as quotes about Bates from political heavyweights like Brown and House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) appeared on large screens, accompanied by similar remarks from citizens from throughout the state.

Senate President Peter Courtney (D-Salem) banged the gavel to start the ceremony, as he’s accustomed to doing as that chamber’s presiding officer. Representatives from the military honored Bates’ service in the Army and as a veteran of the Vietnam War before Sen. Rod Monroe (D-Portland) gave the invocation.

Monroe told an anecdote about a time he was ill and his wife urged him to call Bates, who spent much of his professional career as a physician. Bates showed up five minutes later with his black doctor’s bag “and he never sent me a bill,” Monroe said, prompting quiet laughter from the audience.

Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) said that Bates served with “passion, integrity and honor.”

“As I look in this chamber, I see people Doc loved,” she said. “I see people he healed.”

Brown said that Bates left an “indelible mark” on the Legislature.

“In many ways, he was the heart of the Senate,” Brown said. “His heart was to help people.”

Kotek offered similar praise for Bates.

“Alan Bates was a lot more than a nice guy,” Kotek said. “He was considered a colleague and friend by so many.”

Bates’ daughter, Keri, said he was a “humble man” and a “master mediator” who brought people together to get things done.

“He would have hated all this fuss,” she said. “But he would have appreciated it, nonetheless.”

Sen. Jackie Winters (R-Salem) was one of many lawmakers Bates had assisted with health issues over the years.

“I did as he advised, and am healthier for it,” Winters said. “I wish I could have thanked him one more time for his care and his compassion.”

A video presentation of photos from Bates’ life showed him as a boy, as a Cub Scout, in military uniform, flyfishing, sitting pensively during a committee meeting and with his grandkids and other family members.

Courtney credited Bates for never backing away from difficult issues.

“He always took the tough vote,” Courtney said, and did it “over and over again.”

In closing, Courtney told a story about a day during last February’s legislative session when he was feeling under the weather. Bates left him some orange juice and insisted that he drink it. Courtney said he did, and was much better afterwards.

“Thank you for always being on call for us,” Courtney said. “What are we going to do without you?”

Trump 44: More nukes


I'll return to the subject of Donald Trump and the usage of Amerian nuclear weapons - about which, his core attitude seems to be, if you have 'em, why not use 'em? - a little later. But that's not the only nuclear-related subject that ought to serve as a presidential disqualifier.

The other one is: Maybe a bunch of other countries ought to have them too.

A number of countries do, of course, and the spread of nuclear arsenals over the decades generally has been seen as a serious problem. The United States has been opposed to that expansion since the Truman Administration, back when the United States did have a nuclear monopoly. Most American presidents, including Barack Obama, have taken steps to try to control the further spread of nuclear weaponry, especially into the hands of terrorists.

Trump, who professes to a fascination (which sounds as if it borders on the unhealthy) with nuclear weapons, remarked, It’s not like, gee whiz, nobody has them."

He said that at an April 3 Fox News interview, and also said this: "In many ways, and I say this, in many ways, the world is changing. Right now, you have Pakistan and you have North Korea and you have China and you have Russia and you have India and you have the United States and many other countries have nukes."

Two months later, Trump told CNN this: "I am prepared to — if they’re not going to take care of us properly, we cannot afford to be the military and the police for the world. We are, right now, the police for the entire world. We are policing the entire world.

"You know, when people look at our military and they say, “Oh, wow, that’s fantastic,” they have many, many times — you know, we spend many times what any other country spends on the military. But it’s not really for us. We’re defending other countries.

"So all I’m saying is this: they have to pay. And you know what? I’m prepared to walk, and if they have to defend themselves against North Korea, where you have a maniac over there, in my opinion, if they don’t — if they don’t take care of us properly, if they don’t respect us enough to take care of us properly, then you know what’s going to have to happen, Wolf? It’s very simple. They’re going to have to defend themselves."

These are among the kind of comments that have led scores of Republican, not to say Democratic, foreign affairs and defense specialists to warn that under no circumstances can Donald Trump become president - lest this country face danger like it has not faces since the tensest times in the Cold War. - rs