Monday, August 26, 2019

Where does this road go?

     Preparing for several days of new sights in old culture. Uneasy about where this nation is and where the road we're on leads.
      I'm convinced the nightly news has become the stage for  a depraved tragic-comedy. It is evidence this president is  unhinged from reality and in the throes of madness. He is increasingly alone, unchecked by staff, erratic, irrational and dangerous. We see it with our eyes and it is chilling. It becomes more absurdly bizarre that our great and complex federal system, and the tens of millions of citizens who are sickened by the reality can not end this script that reads like a dystopian futuristic nightmare. We have an insane and compromised president, but we do not have an American presidency.
     My working years were filled with globe trotting assignments and  I was never embarrassed to carry an American passport. I've been warned to expect hearing an earful from the citizens of where we are bound and I will listen with interest.
    There is great strength in our nation and it is signified by the overwhelming percentage of citizens who disapprove of the mad, rogue president. I will remind my hosts of that.
       There is so much more than the crazy reality show and its lying narcissistic star and I hope they know that. 
       But, what I have no answer for are those people at his rallies, those who support the deranged fool, and why as dangerously erratic and destructive as he has become the once Republican party has not moved to depose him, if only to save face if not for the security of this nation.
       I cannot explain why we have opened a new season of old hatreds, bigotry, and ignorance. Especially the ignorance and disdain for fact, science, knowledge and advancement. Why are so many content with being stupid and crazed with their own manipulated fantasies and opinions?
       I think it will be refreshing to be away for a while, to see all of this from afar and through the filter of people who mince no words and who know history.  Stay tuned.

       Before we go, a California late summer scene.

      See you down the trail.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Honestly, kids!

Sierra Nevada 

    For the sake of history, this is unavoidable, though I've tried. It's for Addie and Henry, for when these present days of ours have become history.
     I've been listening, reading, staring at the sky, the mountains  and just thinking. Here it comes. 
     Honesty is strength. Behaving with virtue will enable Humans to exist. The prospects of survival, as individuals and as a specie, are extended if navigated by the courage of telling the truth. 
hard truth
     The DNA of the US includes racism and genocide. It brings sadness to think of why that is so, but those circumstances are antecedents of our present strife. It has always been such.
     The USA's piece of this American continent had an extensive history of population and culture before the arrival of representatives of European Royal Society and Trading Companies "laying claims," and declaring sovereignty. 
    Even the notion of "discovering" the land carries with it a shortsighted and naive ethnocentrism. It is also imperious.
     And yet here we are, the end product of a process that began by European culture, in many iterations, stealing land, and trying to lord it over the culture and history that was here.  
     To assume the Spanish, Dutch, French, English, Italians, or others were better than those who lived here is itself a seed of the very racism and intolerance that courses through our mixed blood line and that plagues us today.
     Few people want to put their head around that. It is not something of which to be proud, though some are.
    It is a truth some seek to deny and most choose to ignore. It is an ignorance that allows our destructive chimera to breath.
    Europeans settled here and initiated behavior that was an invasion. Land and property were stolen, populations were deliberately killed, local culture, government, and religion was over run and outlawed. In time, even after we fought our war of liberation, our national government made and broke treaties and lied and sent the army to suppress, control and kill. It is true. That is who we are, in part.
     We are also people who have risen up and struggled against arrogant power and abuse to win gains though it has required hard fought struggles over two centuries
    The suffragettes suffered horribly, just to win women the right to vote. Pay equity is still a fight.
    Our immigration policy has been inconsistent, politically used and abused, and randomly capricious for ever. Yet emigre's enrich our culture and always have. 
    The War of the Rebellion, referring to the official compilation of the records is the detailed history of the years this nation spent years killing each other over the matter of slavery.    
     Slavery was not an American invention but it became an inherent part of our invention. The Founders owned slaves. African Americans were not full Americans, were considered only 3/5 human and were evaluated that way as much as convenience of economy and finance as personhood. 
      We have never fully healed or recovered from what the war seared into our psyche. 
     There has been no resolve for the slaughter of indigenous nations or the crimes committed against them in the name of US citizens. 

   This old Tee, a beloved gift from my daughters, expresses
a plank of my politics. It is true.  

   These are ugly times because ignorance is widespread, the president plays on fear, Putin's Russia is working overtime to divide and destabilize us, it is an old art of war and espionage. 
    Too many pay too little attention. We are occupied with our diversions, or in our own silo of information, or just not thinking. And so we repeat mistakes. 

why not emulate success?
    In the 1960's when President Lyndon Johnson pushed the Civil Rights legislation proposed by John Kennedy, who was killed in November 1963, he had to overcome the power of racists in the US Senate, even members of his own Democrat party. Working with his moderate and liberal Democrat allies he reached across the political aisle to the Senate Republican Leader Ev Dirksen of Illinois. They did political deal making and the US finally passed both a Civil Rights Law and a Voting Rights Act. 

a rise of regressives
     Today the president is a racist. Republicans work for suppressing voting rights. The Senate Republican leader is an obstructionist, behaving like both a racist and a Russian enabler. 
    The Democrats have no central party leader and they are dicing each other trying to gain advantage in the presidential campaign. They are divided between moderates, liberals and progressives. 
    The Trump government separates families, cages children, refuses to act on the outrage of gun violence, is led by an irrational liar who does not read nor understand history. 

      But we never truly step into the same river again, currents like time move on.
       Our history defines shifts, changes, improvements, advances, and progress too. We hope a wave of change will rid the government of regressives and bigots in our next election. And we hope the election is fair and secure and that we again respect knowledge, information and learning.
      Addie, Henry, I hope by the time you somehow retrieve these thoughts from Poppy, you will find that we have again listened to our better angels and sought to make life better for everyone. That we uphold human dignity and liberty. And that we do so by telling the truth, recognizing our faults and working to make ourselves better people and the world a better, safer, healthier, happier place. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are good political objectives. From where you are I hope all of this looks like a temporary aberration, like a recurrent bout of a vestigial infection that we slowly are trying to cure. I hope you are safe once again, though vigilant.

     See you down the trail


Thursday, August 1, 2019

In the weeds....

we need a little more light

     After four nights of "debates" some thoughts emerge.

  • By next summer when the Trump campaign and the Democrat candidate's organization meet to discuss a debate format they should agree to avoid inviting any networks to the planning discussions.
      The Fox "Town Halls," the MSNBC Nights of Ten and the CNN Debate are not working nor are they helpful. The Fox sessions have been the most revealing. The CNN outing was  particularly goofy.
      The CNN questioners came off as more interested in provoking confrontation and argument rather than exploring issues and leadership qualities. The questions were contrived and off the point. They may think setting up "battles" and provoking challenges will hold audience, but they do little of value. And sadly most of the candidates took the bait. We are a culture showing signs of intellectual decline. 


  • Most of the questions were framed about issues that exceed Presidential mandate or control. 
  • Health care for example is the province of the legislative branch. A President may help shape his or her party's position, but the House and the Senate write the law and the President approves or not. LBJ exercised some influence over Medicare but he was a powerful legislative force, the likes of which no longer exist. Obamacare was the work of the House and Senate. Getting into minutia is meaningless, but it gives the candidates a chance to argue with each other.
  • Ditto immigration policy. A President's view is not unimportant, but any meaningful immigration reform will come from Capitol Hill. Does the candidate have an idea about how to fix the problem? Hear it and move on, the specifics, the details will be something other than what any of the candidates say.
  • US voters like to probe and poke Presidential candidates, but often a President's major action is in reaction, to legislation more more likely to events at home and abroad. It's good to know the measure of a candidate's mettle, but there's been more peripheral and contrived controversy in what we've seen so far. It's resembled a cattle call.

the democrat road show
    The Democrats have shown they have a wide range of candidate philosophy, from moderate right to progressive.
     Who speaks to and for voting constituencies that will control the election outcome? The long political season will help to shake it out.  

    Joe Biden is the target now. With his decades of service his long record is being picked apart by Harris, Gillibrand  Booker, De Blasio, and others. He has what they don't, poll numbers. As the Front runner he's a target, but that's lame politics and dangerous. 
     What debaters say now could make it a challenge to take back and/or support the eventual candidate. Taking each other apart is off target, off message, damaging, and not helpful. It is a silly sport.
       All of the Demos want improvement in the health care system and want to stop Trump's destruction of what is left of the Affordable Care Act. They argue about how to do it. A legislative process will deliver the specifics, but viewers are being given a chance to see the wide range of Democratic thinking and that maybe helpful, to a point. 
      Elizabeth Warren keeps telling us she has a plan. They all should and it would be more helpful to hear those plans than the kind of wonky food fight we've seen so far. More intelligent and less confrontationally contrived questions would help.
a long way up

    I heard a long time Washington insider, a veteran of Capitol Hill, campaigns and the media say if there was truly a leader of the Democrat Party, she or he would get all of the candidates in the same room and remind them the person to defeat is Donald Trump and the message should be to the public, not to play act in some silly charade game like the TV debates have been.
     Two long shots have sounded wise and for the most part stayed out of the tit for tat food fight.  Tulsi Gabbard and Pete Buttigieg have appeared to be thoughtful and less combative, though Gabbard hit Harris hard on Health Care.
Interestingly, they are both military veterans and have been tested by more than political bull shit. 
     If I were advising a candidate I'd tell them their core audience should be working women with children and the overlay would be 18 to 45 year old working people. The outer core of voter would be women 45 plus. 
     Those groups are both urban and rural.  I may be entirely wrong. I've been covering politics since 1964 and my hunches have been both spot on and dead wrong. My gut tells me women voters are the jackpot in 2020. And, according to the Sevareid rule, I reserve the right to change my mind. 

     See you down the trail.