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Posts published in June 2020

A thoughtful 4th


On July 4, 1776, America’s Founding Fathers, who were gathered in Philadelphia for the Second Continental Congress, signed the Declaration of Independence, casting off the shackles of British rule. The 56 men who signed that remarkable document proclaimed it to be obvious that “all men are created equal” with “unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

It was understood by the signers that slaves were not included in the men who were entitled to the blessings of liberty. After all, historians report that 41 of those who placed their John Hancocks on the document were slave owners.

Slaves did not begin to enjoy any unalienable rights until after the Civil War, despite the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln on January 1, 1863. Slavery was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. States were required to accord equal rights to all under the Fourteenth Amendment in 1866. In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment prohibited denial of the right to vote to citizens based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

The freed slaves were able to exercise their unalienable rights for a number of years but slowly and relentlessly those rights were taken away by white supremacists. Laws were enacted at the state and local level to establish racial segregation and keep Blacks from voting, receiving a decent education and exercising other basic rights. These laws continued in effect through the first half of the 20th Century.

Business and social practices took hold across the country through mid-century to keep Blacks from living in white communities. Blacks could not get housing loans for certain areas through a practice called redlining. Restrictions in deeds and covenants kept Blacks out of many neighborhoods. Those restrictions could still be found in Idaho property documents into the second half of the last century.

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate schools for black kids were not permissible. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited a broad range of discriminatory practices, including in employment, housing and public accommodations. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was designed to provide people of color equal access to the polls.

Despite all of this history of racial discrimination and the efforts to correct it, black and brown people still do not enjoy the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that their white brothers and sisters take for granted. The recent deaths of George Floyd and other black citizens at the hands of law enforcement have brought that graphically to the nation’s attention.

The disproportionate death rate among people of color in the pandemic speaks of the need to better address their health needs. The efforts of some states to make it harder for these citizens to vote call for strong remedial action.

This is a wonderful country but its blessings are not equally available to all who live here. We are a work in progress and, while progress has been made in the last 244 years, we still have a long way to go. Parents of all races should have confidence that their child who leaves home wearing a ski mask will return home safely, that they and their children will have access to good medical care, and that they will have an equal opportunity to vote.

The present atmosphere in the country is favorable to extending the blessings of liberty more widely to all Americans in keeping with the unmet promise of the Declaration of Independence. As we celebrate the birth of our nation this July 4th, we should not let this moment to improve it pass us by.

Rally? Really? Nope.


We, in the desert Southwest, can sleep better now that the Trump road show has come and gone.

The “Students For Trump” activities are over. Discarded Trump signs littered the parking lot of the church where his latest edition of hate speech, racist pronouncements and selected lies occurred. The line of Secret Service Suburbans is only a memory.

Media talking heads kept calling it a “rally.” It wasn’t. Trump’s appearance was the closing act of a multi-day program for far-right teens. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) was on the program earlier in the day. Some local Arizona Republican pols also participated.

The teens, all clean cut and mostly maskless when together - theater style - were being prepped to be future Limbaugh-Beck listeners as they endured session after session of far-right hucksterism. Trump’s appearance was called the “high point” by local media.

I don’t know what the selection process was for these kids. But, looking at them, seated shoulder-to-shoulder in the “sanctuary,” they must have had to fit some sort of rigid physical requirements. All of ‘em - all - looked like models on “All-American Teen” posters. Nearly all white. Nearly all maskless.

Trump carried on for about 90 minutes. Maskless, of course. It sounded a lot like his failed Tulsa appearance which was, actually, a rally. A failed rally at best but, still, a rally.

He rolled out his, by now, standard pitches. Lots of outright lies like “Obama committed treason” which he didn’t define. Just sort of left it hanging there. He claimed the COVID-19 pandemic was winding down and would soon be gone. Saying that here, in one of the “hot spot” states.

He proudly touted having appointed conservative judges to the federal court system and argued he should be re-elected so he could appoint even more. He called the upcoming national elections “the most corrupt in the history of this country.” Though proven popular with Arizonans and voters in other states, he lambasted mail-in voting, saying people should go to the polls as they have done historically and he demanded some sort of uniform identification before anyone could cast a ballot.

He claimed a “left-wing crowd is trying to abolish our heritage because they hate our history, they hate our values and they hate everything we prize as Americans because our country didn’t grow great with them.”

True to form, he fell back on his racist nomenclature for Coronavirus, calling it “Kung flu” several times, raising his voice as if to punctuate each word. The kids cheered. Loudly.

Several curiosities linger in the afterglow. For one, this was Trump’s third visit to our desert mecca in five months. Why? And, why come to appear before a crowd of just three-thousand teens.

And timing. He also came during the height of a COVID crisis with Arizona reporting jumps of four to five-thousand cases each 24-hours. Day after day. Hospitals are full and some patients are being sent out-of-state.

There’s a very good chance the state can flip a senate seat, replacing Martha McSally - an appointed place-holder who lost to a Democrat in 2018. Democrat and former Astronaut Mark Kelly is well-funded, knows the issues, is good on his feet and even admired by many Republicans. McSally has trailed Kelly in eight out of the last nine polls taken and is putting up some really scurrilous attack ads.

Seems it would take more than a Trump appearance at a conservative summer program for 3,000 teens to help McSally.

The location of his road show also raises an issue. How does a church - a tax-exempt church - get away with a multi-day political indoctrination session, highlighted by the President and other politicians campaigning in the sanctuary, and not risk said exemption? I’ve heard of preachers telling parishioners which guy to vote for. But, this political indoctrination session went way beyond that. For tax purposes?

No, Virginia. This was not a rally. We average folk couldn’t attend. It was just for the kids. Few, in the sanctuary, were old enough to vote. As with most teens, when released from the camp back into the real teen world, their short-term attention spans will be diverted to other priorities. They’ll remember Trump. But, likely, little else.

Air Force One is gone. For now. So, too, the national media and their equipment. It’s back to 110-114 degree temperatures in our Summer desert days. The dust created by visiting political types has settled. Life - with spiking coronavirus numbers - goes on

Rally? Really? Nope.

The Bolton book


The newly-published - over the objections of the Trump Administration - book by former National Security Advisor John Bolton, The Room Where It Happened, is worth the read, even if not for most of the reasons I had expected.

I picked up on it (and yes, I know the many arguments for not doing so) definitely not for guidance on the more controversial aspects of foreign policy; Bolton and I, for example, simply would never see eye to on the Iraq war, or on a number of other items. In a book that covers the range of foreign policy in a rough tour d'horizon (to use the favored phrase in that crowd), I wasn't anywhere persuaded off earlier views, though I did find useful education a number of areas I hadn't been very familiar with.

And as for political bombshells ... most (not all) of those already have been exploding in news reports.

No parts of the book I found most interesting and useful, and these parts took up a great deal of the text, had to do with this: What's it like to work in and make decisions in the Trump Administration? That is, not just as a matter of adjectives and metaphors (though we do get some hot examples of those here too), but rather, in plain language, how does decision-making work, or not, at the White House in the current term, especially as compared to how it was done before.

Bolton had the advantage of working in three presidential administrations before Trump's, and at a high level in foreign affairs in two of them (the Bush administrations), so he has a basis for comparison. A lot of the book is about the nuts and bolts of how information is evaluated and decisions are made. You don't necessarily have to agree with Bolton's policy preferences to see clearly when the process is going awry. As, in Bolton's telling, it often does.

This is no hatchet job. Bolton loads his narrative with precise detail (these five people met on this day at this time for 20 minutes in this room), which speaks to his reputation (like that of many foreign affairs professionals) as a note-taker. He is careful to give credit to Trump where merited, as happens, from time to time. But the basics are damning. Trump seems unable to learn, to think conceptually, to get beyond personalities and immediate impacts on himself. His obsession with his own image (and how things play on cable television) seem as front-and-center here as in many other reports. Attempts by aides to educate him in the complexities of the real world typically run into a thick wall.

Seeing that description (you've of course seen it before) is one thing. But over the course of 592 pages, Bolton lays it out day by day, meeting by meeting, conversation by conversation. What's damning is not so much the big news items (the plea for Chinese help with his re-election, for example). What's damning is how it all settles into a depressing, rut.

What is this White House actually like? An answer to that question, from someone who was in a central position there, for a while, is what this book answers. It makes it worth the read.

Our national humiliation


During a week when coronavirus deaths in the United States topped 120,000 and the president of the United States admitted he was trying to slow testing for the virus – more testing means more cases, after all – it might be difficult to fully process that we are also living through a unprecedented time of upheaval in American foreign policy.

Whether you love him or hate him, Donald Trump has remade American standing in the world with consequences hard measure, but with impact long lasting. Trump’s upheaval has led to dangerous decline.

“Donald Trump has taken America out of key multilateral agreements, crossed swords with allies and pulled the U.S. from a leading role in geopolitical hot spots,” Bloomberg noted this week in an article about how Russian president Vladimir Putin was celebrating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II with a big parade in Moscow. Since Trump’s election in 2016, Putin has expanding his influence, while angling to stay in office much longer.

The Trump led retreat from world leadership has, Bloomberg reported, “opened the way for Putin to build influence in Russia’s western flank, the Middle East and Africa, and to tighten an alliance with China. The planes flying in formation … over Moscow are a reminder that others will be eager to fill the gap if the U.S. withdraws further.”

One can deny the existence of Russian election help to Trump in 2016, but it’s impossible to deny the success of Putin’s repositioning at the expense of the United States and out closest, post-World War II European allies.

Putin is certainly the largest beneficiary of Trump’s reported decision to remove nearly a third of U.S. troops based in Germany, a key NATO ally, a decision the BBC reported that was meet with widespread dismay in Europe, in part because there was no consultation or even warning. Many German officials believe the decision was prompted when chancellor Angela Merkel cancelled her visit to the U.S. because of the pandemic. In other words, the decision had less to do with a coherent national policy than the president’s personal pique.

The administration’s Asia policy is in tatters with North and South Korea relations on a hair trigger. Trump tariffs on Chinese imports have cost American consumers (and farmers) billions and left the president begging Chinese president Xi Jinping, according to fired national security advisor John Bolton account, to help him win re-election by buying more U.S. goods.

Bolton’s hefty book, its publication resisted to the very end by Trump, actually matters to our understanding of the feckless, chaotic Trump foreign policy. As conservative columnist Steve Hays argues only the most cultish Trump defender could dismiss a first-hand account “written by a longtime Republican and stalwart conservative—whose mustachioed face has appeared on Fox News more often than just about anyone other than the anchors.”

The power of Bolton’s book rests, Hays says, “less in attention-grabbing disclosure than in the relentless, almost mundane stupidity and recklessness of it all.”

Or as David Ignatius, a long-time observer of American foreign policy, notes: “Among the most startling disclosures in [Bolton’s book] is his account of President Trump’s dealings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Turkey story — featuring the American president assuring Erdogan he would ‘take care of things’ in an ongoing federal criminal investigation — may be the clearest, most continuous narrative of misconduct by Trump that has yet surfaced.”

Ignatius says, “It’s a tale that connects some of Trump’s closest advisers: former national security adviser Michael Flynn, personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, and senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.”

Former John McCain advisor Steve Schmidt says of all this that Trump, “has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.”

Trump is not alone, of course, in creating our unparalleled national humiliation. He had plenty of help, most notably in the foreign policy field from the junior senator from Idaho James E. Risch, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Enabling Trump, encouraging his worst instincts and behavior and assisting his destruction of American standing have been the raison d’être of Risch’s otherwise vacuous Senate career.

When Trump’s first secretary of state Rex Tillerson was fired sometime after calling the president “a moron,” Risch said nothing, made no inquiry, expressed no concern. The same pattern unfolded when retired Marine general James Mattis quit in dispute with Trump over Syrian policy. When Bolton was fired Risch let it pass. He’s said nothing about Bolton’s disclosures. Following the Trump playbook, Risch regularly bashes China, but like the president has no policy ideas to deal with the Chinese military and economic threat.

Risch has not pursued the case of brutally murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi but has effectively stonewalled efforts to hold the Saudi crown prince to account for the crime. When the State Department’s inspector general was fired recently for reportedly investigating why the administration sidestepped Congress to sell more arms to the corrupt kingdom, Risch said nothing and then helped the secretary of state evade an appearance before this committee.

Risch has gone down the line with Trump is dismissing Russian malevolence, while ignoring the clear effort by the president to coerce the Ukrainian president into a phony investigation of Joe Biden. And when six Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently complained to Trump that his draw down of U.S. troops in Germany would “place U.S. national security at risk,” helping only Putin, Risch was silent.

“We live with the idea that the U.S. has an ability to rebound that is almost unlimited,” Michael Duclos, a top European foreign policy official, told The Atlantic’s Tom McTague recently. “For the first time, I’m starting to have some doubts.” For good reason.

As Jim Risch mounts a low-key campaign for re-election, he’s counting that his weakness, his failure to use his position to stem American decline, won’t matter in the deluge of division and misdirection that will increasingly mark all Republican campaigns. Faced with an opponent who so far has been unable – or unwilling – to highlight the senator’s servile deference to Trump’s plundering of America’s standing, Risch will likely continue a 50-yearlong political career distinguished only by its overwhelming partisanship.

History will not be so forgiving.

The politics of re-closing


The Covid-19 numbers for Idaho are clear enough, even if they’re getting harder to count because they continue to get larger.

As this was written this week, Idaho’s Covid-19 case count stood at 4,865. A week ago: 4,006. Four weeks before that, 2,626. Four weeks prior, 1,887. You can see the pattern.

Costly as our health education is becoming, we’ve learned some things. The numbers do dampen when our travel, in-person contact and respiratory interaction is limited. Idahoans haven’t been able to stop the spread entirely, but they have been able to slow it … at times. What’s been true in Idaho has been even more dramatically true in places like Arizona and Texas and locales like Yakima, Washington.

The pressure to restore normal economic activity is more than reasonable, but that resumption of activity - and jobs - won’t last if, every time we give in to it, the disease roars back and forces new shutdowns. Ask the careful and responsible Boise Fry Company, which closed Boise locations after an employee tested positive. Most people won’t go to public places if they think they’re going to get sick; most business people know you can’t build a business model by trying to ignore that.

Even so, the reopening pressure is fierce.

A June 21 editorial in the Lewiston Tribune made the point that Idaho Governor Brad Little, who has tried to carefully calibrate between pandemic spread and reopening pressures, “has done all that he can. He’s out of time and political capital. Like it or not, the people of Idaho are on their own.”

He properly has acknowledged the reality of the pandemic, encouraging safety measures and ordering restrictions reluctantly (though faster than some of his Republican governor counterparts) and setting a prompt schedule for reopenings. He has cautioned that bad enough pandemic numbers may cause him to stop or roll back the reopenings. But rollbacks are hard.

Observing the fast recent rise in Idaho cases, he has tapped the brakes, sticking with the existing set of rules (“Stage 4”) for at least two weeks, and “to eventually transition to a more regional approach in our response.” How he will respond, or will be able to, if the Idaho numbers keep on rising is another question.

Regional rules have been tried in some places, such as requiring partial re-closings in high-case parts of Oregon. The health district covering Ada County, observing a large number of cases in Boise-area night spots, has downgraded some businesses back to Step 3 from Step 4, reimposing some requirements.

Still, that only helps to a point. We do not set up roadblocks between our cities and counties. If, say, Nampa clamped down and neighboring Caldwell did not, and people wander back and forth as of course they will, what good would Nampa’s rules do? (The same applies nationally with our patchwork of state rules, or lack thereof.)

Longer-range, and statewide, pandemic controls are harder to come by. Little has been under fire from a wide range of fellow Republicans, from his own lieutenant governor to the 15 Republican legislators who met on the floor of the Idaho House in a sort of faux special legislative session, in which no actual legislation was proposed or passed. (A legitimate question of changes to state budgeting levels was raised, though likely the legislature won’t need to meet before its next scheduled assembly in December.)

The incoming flak has included the over-the-top kind of rhetoric becoming increasingly common. Tracing contacts to find out who’s spreading Covid-19 is being equated to, “the government taking babies away from their mamas.” Pandemic season added to campaign season seems to have resulted in silly season squared. No, the constitution is not being suspended. No, the government officials trying to control the disease are not tyrants. But some people will believe it anyway.

If we buckled down and took the medicine (as, say, New Zealand did), we might be able to get this behind us. The more open-close cycles we pass through, the more closure and reopening rules jag back and forth, the more oppressive our society really will look and feel and more difficult economic recovery will be.

Maybe we will have grasped that lesson more fully … by this time next year.

A job to do


It will be ten years this summer since Vernon Baker died. His story deserves some retelling.

He entered the Army before the Second World War because he needed a job. He quit as a porter on the railroad because he didn’t want the job of a servant. He was living with his sister and brother-in-law in Wyoming. The first recruiter sent him away; “We don’t have no quarter for you people.” Vernon had heard that often looking for work around Cheyenne. But he persisted and the next recruiter wasn’t put off by the color of his skin.

He rose through the ranks by being responsible and doing the jobs asked of him, though he really wanted to be a supply sergeant. When Pearl Harbor brought war and the Army needed it, he was called on to lead men. In the segregated Army of the time, it was black men he led. Though younger than many he commanded, and smaller, he worked to earn their respect. Though he also took their resentful beatings.

He spent a short time early in the war posted at Fairchild Base outside Spokane and knew then he loved this Inland Northwest part of the states. But he got sent to invade Italy and make history.

Vernon told his life story to Idaho Public Television. The interview can be read online. In his words those brutal days (April 5-6, 1945), it sounded like he just did his job. But when 19 of the 25 men in your platoon are killed around you, and you keep your head and act with courage and discipline, it is remarkable. His actions drew attention from someone, and he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Maybe the story should stop there, after all, Vernon went on to be a paratrooper in Korea, then worked for the Red Cross at Fort Ord, California counseling needy families. He got his wish to hunt in this neck of our woods when he came to the Benewah, outside St. Marries Idaho in the late 1980’s.

But some people noticed some funny numbers and were making a fuss. There were 444 Medals of Honor awarded in WWII, and no black soldier had earned such award, despite over 1.3 million serving. In the early 1990’s, the Army listened and asked for a study. They could find no documents showing that race influenced the award, but “a climate of racism prevented recognition of heroic deeds”. The Army decided to award seven Medals of Honor to black servicemen from World War 2, and Vernon Baker was the only surviving one.

In 1997, when the award was fastened around his neck in the Oval Office, he shed a tear. He said he was thinking of all those men up on that hill. A reporter asked him how he felt about serving in a segregated unit. “I was an angry young man. We were all angry. But we had a job to do and we did it.”

And maybe the story should stop there, with a belated Medal of Honor. Vernon returned to the Benewah and hunted in his old but hearty age.

When he started slurring his words, and the brain tumor was found, he got shipped to Seattle for surgery. He recovered some, but the tumor had spread and Vernon died July 2010.

The bills started coming before he died; big ones, really big ones. Vernon had been a healthy spry man and didn’t need doctors much. He had failed to enroll in Medicare of apply for VA benefits. Brain surgery isn’t cheap. The medevac to Seattle alone was $20,000.

Neighbors kicked in, his widow made payments, and now, ten years later that debt has been paid.

Vernon Baker displayed heroism and courage; his “job to do”. May we all have such courage when faced with a job. We have some big ones before us.

Pinning the ‘liberal’ tag


Sen. Mary Souza of Coeur d’Alene has been referred to in a variety of ways during her political life and time as a community activist. But it’s a safe bet that no one in the Lake City has accused her of being a “liberal.”

The “liberal” tag certainly didn’t fit during the days that she was challenging City Hall, firing away at the urban renewal district and paving the way for conservatives to win local elections. And her sponsorship this year of the Fairness for Women in Sports Act, which bans transgender athletes from participating in competitive sports, was hated by liberals everywhere.

Yet, according to the Idaho Freedom Foundation’s “freedom index,” Souza gets a big fat “F” on the organization’s conservative scale, along with all Democrats. So, in the eyes of Wayne Hoffman and his freedom foundation, Souza must be a RINO (Oddly, the IFF didn’t give a grade on the sports bill, which was praised by social conservatives).

She’s not alone. Thirty-one other Republicans received failing grades for the 2020 session. The list includes Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder of Boise, who appears on his way to becoming the next Senate pro tem, and first-term Rep. Laurie Lickley of Jerome, who resisted joining the so-called House Liberty Caucus. Not surprisingly, the three Republicans take issue with the IFF and its rating system.

“I think my votes and my lifetime in the agriculture and the natural resource industry puts me in the conservative nature of the Magic Valley,” Lickley said. “I don’t support any specific special interest group, and I certainly put (the IFF) in that category.”

Winder says the IFF is “a long way” from where it started almost a decade ago. “They were going to be a conservative think tank, provide information and be helpful to conservative causes,” Winder said. “What they turned out to be was a political organization trying to espouse libertarian political values at the expense of the Republican Party and the expense of mainline, Reagan-like, conservative Republicans.”

The libertarian movement is not confined to Hoffman’s group. The state Republican Party, headed by former Congressman Raul Labrador, lists two major goals for the party – to re-elect President Trump, and elect conservatives to the statehouse. As Labrador has said for years, not all Republicans are conservative.

Bryan Smith of Idaho Falls, who holds leadership positions with the state GOP and freedom foundation, dismisses criticisms about the freedom index. Critical comments, he stated in a recent commentary, “often are made by liberals masquerading as Republicans, hoping that Republican voters will discount the (freedom index). The (index) principles used to score how legislators vote are closely aligned with the Idaho Republican Party Platform.” Smith’s full commentary can be viewed online.

Souza says libertarians are making their mark in the wrong way for the GOP. “Libertarians believe in no government, or as little government as possible. Republicans – and I am a conservative Republican – believe there is a role for government. We want government to be as limited as possible, and with as few regulations as possible, but government still has a role.”

Legislators who use the IFF as their guiding light during the session are shortchanging their constituents, Souza says. “I listen carefully to testimony in committee hearings and debates on the floor before I make my decisions. If any of us in the Legislature gives our power to vote, or influence on our vote to an outside source, then I don’t think we are doing our jobs for our districts and our constituents.”

Some of the actions in which legislators were marked down heavily, at least on the surface, seem to have little to do with conservative or liberal politics.

As an example, the IFF opposed a measure that prohibited collection agencies from using excessive force in the collection of medical bills. “The victims of this bill are those can’t stand up for themselves,” Souza says. “All it does is make the process transparent, so people have a chance to pay their medical bills in a reasonable amount of time, and with reasonable notice.”

The IFF also opposed requiring job applicants to disclose on a checkoff box if they have been convicted of a felony. “As a business owner, we have a right to know who we are hiring and their backgrounds. It’s up to us if we want to give people a second chance – and sometimes we do,” Souza says.

Hmmm … she’s talking about business owners making decisions, without government interference. Good conservatives, such as Hoffman and Smith, might think about adopting that concept.

Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at

Military fortitude


There are 10 U.S. Army bases in our country that were named in commemoration of men who took up arms against America. These men, all Generals in the Confederate Army, rebelled against the United States, choosing to stand up for the perpetuation of slavery. Their collective actions resulted in the deaths of many thousands of soldiers fighting to preserve the Union. Yet, we continue to honor their memory to this very day, in spite of their disloyalty.

Forts Lee, Pickett, A.P. Hill, Bragg, Benning, Hood, Gordon, Rucker, Polk and Beauregard are scattered throughout the former Confederate states. They got their names early in the last century from local officials who wanted to keep the cause of white supremacy alive. At the same time the bases were being named, segregationists were also enacting Jim Crow laws to prevent African Americans from exercising their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Civil War revisionists have spun the myth that the conflict was about economics and state’s rights. The fact is that the war was primarily about the right of white southerners to treat black people as if they were livestock. Economics did figure in because slave owners did not want to have to pay for the labor of their workers. And “state’s rights” were the rights to buy, to sell, to breed and to have total control over black slaves.

By allowing federal military installations and state-supported monuments to continue to carry the names of these defenders of slavery, the government lends dignity and implicit validation to their odious racial beliefs. It is a slap in the face to African American men and women in uniform who train and serve on those bases and elsewhere. It dishonors the 360,222 Union soldiers who died fighting the rebellion.

The Army and Congress appear willing to change the names of the 10 bases, but President Trump objects. He tweeted on June 10 that he would “not even consider” renaming the bases. He claimed the bases “have become part of a Great American Heritage, and a history of Winning, Victory, and Freedom.” With names celebrating the defenders of slavery, it is not a heritage that should be protected by a government that claims to support the freedom, equality and dignity of every citizen, regardless of color.

It is unclear how “winning” and “victory” come into the picture for the 10 Confederate Generals, because they lost the Civil War. America decisively won that war. As far as “freedom” goes, the rebels were fighting for the freedom of southerners to own black people and treat or mistreat them as they wished, while the Union was fighting to free those oppressed people from slavery.

There are so many Americans whose names would be infinitely more appropriate to grace our military installations than those who fought against us. Why not rename those forts for people who have inspired us with their bravery or the great contributions they made to enhancing our national security--Medal of Honor recipients, victorious troop leaders, great strategists. We changed the name of Fort Arnold to Fort Clinton when Benedict Arnold betrayed his fledgling country, let’s name our forts for loyal citizens.

Rally? Really?


Donald Trump campaigns tomorrow in our Arizona desert oasis.

I’ve no idea what the turnout will be. But, this I do know. In a county of some 4-million souls, his appearance will be at a church that seats only about three–thousand. No “spillover” site. Just this one auditorium/sanctuary. Far cry from a 19-thousand seat arena in Tulsa. It’s also forecast to be 110 degrees.

A side note. Church staff had no idea Trump was coming. Rental was to a group of kids for an all-day event. Trump shows up mid-afternoon

The Tulsa “campaign kickoff” rally attracted about 62-hundred folk, according to the Tulsa Fire Department. Subtract a large media presence, arena staff, security and the chartered plane load of folks from D.C. the campaign sponsored and the number drops into something above 5-thousand. Far cry from “millions” expected.

The whole farcical “rally” was a failure on every count. Even Trump can’t spin it as a success in any way. I’d expect some staff firings this week. The proffered excuses blaming the media and an imaginary crowd of protesters blocking arena entrances haven’t withstood the light of day. Yes, there were about 200 protesters near the arena but they in no way even interacted with the Trumpers until after the “show.” Even then, there was little contact.

The words were largely the same that we’re used to. But, there seemed to be a different tone. Maybe it had to do with his obvious anger over the disappointing turnout. Maybe it was the empty seats he had to see each time he looked up. There was just none of the usual vocal thrust of previous times.

Many political pros who follow Trump on a daily basis are beginning to talk among themselves about his health - especially his mental health. The man has to be feeling enormous pressures the presidency itself exerts on anyone who’s held that office. In Trump’s case, those pressures may not feel as heavy because of his abysmal ignorance of history, foreign affairs, diplomacy and nearly every other aspect of the job. He doesn’t listen. He doesn’t learn.

But, there has to be an additional load coming from more than three dozen legal actions in which he’s named as the defendant. There are other cases in the legal stream yet to be prosecuted. The attorney general of New York, the office of the Prosecutor of the Southern District of New York, the similar office in Northern Virginia and others are investigating Trump and his fellow-travelers on several fronts.

Don’t forget the women who’ve accused him of various crimes, some of whom have court actions pending. I suspect, after he leaves office, “Citizen Trump” will have to face some of his accusers. Several times.

Trump has to be feeling pressures on many fronts. He’s acting and campaigning like someone who realizes, if he doesn’t win, he may wind up in jail. He’s beginning to sound, to me, a bit like Captain Queeg in “The Caine Mutiny.” (“I knew there were strawberries.”)

Something else seemed to be apparent in his Saturday “performance.” Trump threw stinging - and false - charges about Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Democrats in general. Guttural words. The tone was harsh and delivered as angry threats. As in other appearances recently, Trump is showing he will say anything, do anything, ignore facts by making up false accusations about Biden or anyone else he sees as dangerous or threatening to his re-election. Anything.

The Saturday disaster also showed something surprising. The kids. The young people. Others who turned technology against the campaign pro’s. Their use of the I-net to create the appearance of widespread national interest by fomenting chaos with false ticket sales that led Trump and his minions to believe they were creating a truly historic even in Tulsa. They got suckered by a complete scam.

What those kids really did was send a message that they’re watching Trump and his campaign, they’re technology savvy and they’re going to be a factor henceforth. I’ve no idea how many of the scammers are old enough to vote. But, they’re paying enough attention to what’s happening politically to be a force to be reckoned no matter their age.

Trump’s on the ropes right now. He’s losing in court. He’s losing in polls. Saturday’s Tulsa disappointing turnout may - just may - indicate even his base is crumbling a bit. Some of the 30-million or so that were important to him in 2016 may be falling away. One rally, one time, doesn’t prove much. But, I’d have to think his campaign pros are going to do some serious internal polling and try to create something to shore up whatever support they can.

Yep, Tulsa didn’t work out well. I’ll let you know about Arizona.