Archive for category Politics

Resistance and Patriotism

Given the snarky nature of my FaceBook and blog posts, I often get taken to task for ‘Rooting against America.’ I can see how some might interpret the words I’ve chosen as unpatriotic. The fact is though, there’s a method to the madness.

Good sportsmanship was high on the list of lessons my parents tried to teach. I seriously doubt that anyone who has played a board game or an athletic game with me since about 1970 would comment that I’m a poor sport. My hope is just the opposite. This is what makes it challenging to be an unapologetic part of the #resistance to the GOP agenda led by the most unethical President in the history of this great country. I write and say things that sound like sour grapes — like I’m a sore loser or something. If that’s the perception by a few, then I can live with that. I’d add that there’s more to what meets the eye though.

Few people have provided Americans with more inspiring quotes than Robert Kennedy. The one that rings true for me the most right now is:

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country. –Robert Kennedy

At this point, I’ve given up on the ‘railing against the machine’ approach. Given the players in the clown-car and the predictability of the outcome, more often than not I simply share the enjoyment I receive watching the dysfunctional soap opera coming from the West Wing of the White House. Admittedly, I’ve been the recipient of an extremely high entertainment factor since November 8th.

Am I anti-patriotic for sitting back and enjoying the shit-show? On the contrary. The main reason is that the criticism is absolutely warranted and justified. One cannot be a champion for social justice by being complicit in today’s world events. Silence is acceptance.

Have you ever had to deal with someone who is struggling, wanted help, but you didn’t quite have their attention yet so your words fell on deaf ears? That’s how I feel about the state of the union today. We haven’t reached rock bottom yet and until we do, we won’t have the attention of the hard line GOPers who are still pedaling the myth of trickle down economics. I firmly believe it’ll take another financial crisis similar to 2008 or the great depression of the 1930s or — God forbid, an attack on the homeland before we have the attention of the GOP faithful.

So in the spirit of wanting what’s good for America, I’m rooting for us to reach rock bottom as soon as possible so that it can be turned around for good. At that point, the debates about Trickle Down, throwing people off HealthCare, increasing our obscene military budget, treating immigrants like terrorists, building walls, defunding public education, and ignoring ethics in the federal branch of government can come to an end. Once and for all. Rush won’t be able to peddle that crap. Hannity won’t get away with it, nor will Tucker Carlson. The debate will have ended and I see that as a necessary thing to have happen.

Call me unpatriotic if you want, sometimes things have to reach rock bottom before things can get better.
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Give the ball to Norton

It’s true what they say about the benefits of joining sports teams in general. You learn a lot of life lessons not necessarily having anything to do with the sport you’re involved with.

Just for the hell of it, my junior year in high school I decided to go out for football. I hadn’t played in a couple of years and sort of missed being on a team and the fun of Friday nights. I guess I didn’t want to let all of my high school years go by without joining in on something besides golf.

I was a 5’7″, 145# junior who practiced with the linemen, mostly at center because that’s the position I played in middle school. You can see the problem here already. If I’d had any wheels at all, I would have entertained receiver or tight end, but such was not the case. I was slow as hell, and still am.

In mid August we reported for “daily doubles” which was 2 a day workouts that definitely tested your mettle. Since I was practicing with the centers, I was privy to a life lesson that summer which has stayed with me and I think relates to the current political environment.

One hot sunny afternoon we were working out with centers, quarterbacks and receivers on some basic routes for the receivers. Varsity and JV practiced together early on as they don’t split up the teams until it gets closer to the start of the season. There were about 4 or 5 centers who rotated hiking the ball to a few guys vying for the starting quarterback job, and a line of receivers on both sides ready to run routes.

We had 2 seniors competing for the starting center job at the time. I won’t mention their names because it’s not important to the story, but if I recall correctly, they were pretty close in size and ability, so it was going to be a close call for the coaches on who gets the starting nod.

It was probably the coaching staff’s fault a little bit for not making it clear what the depth chart was at the center position, but I remember an incident where the coaches yelled out “line up by the depth chart” at each position for some receiving route reps. Both seniors thought they were the #1 center so a fairly ugly scene ensued where they fought over the ball for a couple of minutes while the rest of us looked on in disbelief. One guy grabbed the ball and inserted himself at the front of the line and the other guy snatched the ball from him and shoved him back. This repeated a couple of times while the coaches grew impatient with the situation because it broke the rules about being a team player and good sportsmanship.

In a rather stunning move, the coach blew the whistle and sent both seniors to the back of the line, and handed the 3rd string guy, Rob Norton, a junior in my class the ball. He never relinquished the ball for the rest of the season. He was the starter from that point on.

I’m reminded of this as I watch the toxic, hostile environment between Republicans and Democrats today. The unwillingness to compromise on anything.

I write frequently about my disdain for the Republican agenda and I feel strongly about it. At the same time, I see Democrats as the other senior in this fight. Participating in the toxic nature of partisan politics and too far out of touch with what has historically been the party of the working man. They lost the working man this time for not paying enough attention to jobs.

The current battle over classified leaks, obstruction of justice, pathological lying and programs to reward the wealthy makes me sick. But I’m tired of the fighting and I do not root for the Nancy Pelosi wing of the Democratic party to gain ground in this fight.

No, I’m on board with a youth movement. Let’s give the ball to Norton. You two clowns get to the back of the line.

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Out with the old

I’m a Sunday morning news show junkie. I hardly ever miss Meet the Press or Face the Nation. I just find the dialog of the analysts extremely interesting.

One of the main themes on Meet the Press today was “The first 100 days” of the Trump administration and what it had accomplished. Reince Priebus did a reasonable job of defending Trump’s record so far I thought. About as well as you could do for someone with a 40% approval rating. Then Nancy Pelosi came on and countered.

Just watching her reminded me of some things I have been thinking about for a long time. As a self proclaimed ‘lefty’, I probably agree with Nancy on 95% of her liberal policy positions. But at this point it doesn’t matter. I’d like to see her retire.

I’m not here to write about or otherwise add commentary on women’s looks, but it struck me that she just looked terrible. Not surprising when you’re 77 years of age and still getting up early on a Sunday morning to be interviewed in front of millions of viewers. I’m sure the makeup artists did what they could, and who cares what she looks like anyway, but it’s the first thing that struck me was that this country is being run by too many old people. It’s time for younger voices to start getting air time.

Pelosi is a polarizing figure. There are people on the right who HATE Nancy Pelosi. I do not hate Nancy Pelosi, in fact as I said, I probably agree with her on most of her positions, but I think if she were to retire and we could get a fresh, new, youthful liberal voice in there, it would energize the younger generation to get out and vote.

The same thing is true in music. I saw a picture if Iggy Pop on TV this weekend. The guy is still trying to look like what he looked like in the 1970’s, and it looks ridiculous. At some point it’s time to step aside and let the next generation take the stage. Bow out gracefully.

I can tell just from dialog from my children, the youth of this country feel disaffected and disengaged to some extent. The Boomers have held power for far too long and history will record that we didn’t do a particularly good job of stewardship with respect to fiscal policy, educational direction, or protecting the environment. Our foreign policy is dangerous at best.

I am a strong supporter of Bernie Sanders, but he’s 76 years old. Bernie did a pretty fine job of inclusion of the younger generation in his bid for the White House in 2016, but unfortunately, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who I will never forgive, had her thumb on the scale in favor of Hillary Clinton and Bernie could not overcome the inside bias against his candidacy, though he came pretty close. Bernie embodies everything that needs to happen in the U.S. He’s got the perfect message in my opinion. But he’s too old now. He’s 75 and will be close to 80 in 2020. That’s just much of an age gap to run for President. I would love to see Bernie pick an heir apparent to the Democratic Socialistic movement and support that person in 2020.

I like Elizabeth Warren as well. She’s a fireball that doesn’t take guff off of anyone, and a true progressive. But again, at 70 years of age, she’s too old to be the messenger / leader of the younger generation.

It’s time to pass the baton to the next charismatic leader who can connect with our youth. We Boomers have had our turn in the barrel and it wasn’t a particularly great ride. “The Greatest Generation” as Tom Brokaw wrote in his book of our parents’ travels through WWII, we are not.

But I have witnessed the youth of this country up close and personal. In a previous role I went to college campuses and interviewed engineering candidates who impressed me to no end. There is no shortage of really smart, well educated, thoughtful, hard working youth in this country, contrary to what the right wingers will tell you. They get labeled the trophy generation for the way we raised them and for sure that approach didn’t help, but make no mistake, there are some high achievers in this group and we old fogies would do well to step aside and let them lead. It’s their future.

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Town Halls

A Facebook friend recently ‘liked’ a post about a friend of theirs who was lamenting the fact that recent Greg Walden town halls in The Dalles and Hood River were difficult to listen to because there was so much shouting.  I was tempted to chime in but it wasn’t a Facebook friend of mine so I decided to keep my mouth shut (yes, every once in a blue moon this happens).  But I really wanted to chime in.   I deserve some credit for resisting the temptation.  Seriously.

I have no sympathy for Greg Walden.  Zero.  None.  Nada.  Zilch.  He deserved every ticked off constituent he had to face.  To his credit he faced them – unlike Marco Rubio who begs out of town halls altogether because they are too contentious.

His constituents are trying to send a message to him that if he goes back to Washington D.C. and gets behind Healthcare legislation that screws the common man in favor of yet another tax cut for the 1%, stands up there smugly with Paul Ryan on the national stage and pretends the bill is a ‘good deal’ for the average American, he’d better think twice because he’s not representing the interests of the people who put him in office.

The Affordable Healthcare act of 2009 turned out to be not as affordable as everyone had hoped.  Yet more Americans are covered than ever before and many literally depend on keeping their coverage to stay alive.  It’s recognized by both parties that there are obvious ‘fixes’ that can make it better.

Are the Republicans interested in fixing The Affordable Healthcare Act?  No.  Their primary intent is first and foremost to destroy any positive legacy from the Obama Administration.   As an example, selling across state lines has been proffered by both parties as a way to improve competition and lower prices.  Do you think this idea could possibly get any traction for the good of the American people?  With the Republicans governing, not a chance. To me it’s laughable that the bill failed the House because it wasn’t abhorrent enough for the so-called “Freedom Caucus.”

The primary thing that crossed my mind when I read “Why can’t we just listen to each other better” were scenes from my own childhood.  Remember a few times when you got in trouble with your mom?  Like, really in trouble.  You were getting a what-for for a reason.  To prevent future what-fors.

Walden’s support of Ryan’s American Health Care Act (AHCA) – which benefited the top 1% and kicked 24 million people off of covering under the canard of ‘choice is better’, was worthy of a tongue lashing from Mom.  His constituents gave him an earful and he deserved every rude interruption he received.

Normally I would be supportive of civil discourse.  If it were just a disagreement over a policy issue, sure.  Be polite.  Listen.  Wait your turn and voice your opinion.  But this is different.  Walden sold out.  He chose party over Country and he was getting called out for it.  I couldn’t be happier about that.  I only wish I could have been there.  I would have participated in making him as uncomfortable as possible.

I’m sad to say we’ve reached the point where civil disobedience is a reasonable option.  When the sins are so egregious that lives are at stake, courtesy can go out the window and I’m fine with it.  Sleep tight Congressman.  And welcome back to Oregon.

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The Godfather, Part IV

With each passing day I’m reminded of the opening scene from The Godfather Part I where business associates or “friends” of Don Vito Corleone wait their turn to ask a favor.  If you’re a friend of The Godfather and someone is hassling you, come to Don Vito, kiss the ring and he’ll take care of it.

The tough guy approach has its appeal with a significant number of voters as we found out on November, 8th.  Recall from the Art of the Deal, his negotiation strategy is to start at an extremely high price and then come down to what you wanted in the first place.  It’s used car salesmanship 101.

But if things aren’t going so well, he quickly falls back on intimidation.  I simply cannot separate him telling President Enrique Pena Nieto that Mexico is going to pay for the border wall from Don Corleone’s “Making him an offer he cannot refuse.”  I keep waiting to read about President Nieto waking up to a horse’s head in his bed in the near future.

Just this past week, after being told of a Texas state senator who wants to require convictions before the state can forfeit property, Trump asked for the senator’s name and said “We’ll destroy his career.”

Whenever he refers to Iraq he talks about how we should have kept the oil (never mind the experts are saying that’s easily classified as a war crime).

We are America.  We are exceptional.  Kiss the ring.

Don Vito’s story didn’t end particularly well for him, and I don’t think Trump’s attitude about the United States’ role as world citizen will serve us well either.

I’ll be curious if anyone else sees the same Mob boss mentality that I do.

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year

I’d like to write a really upbeat blog post about the upcoming year, but I just don’t have it in me.  I am sorry.  Apologies ahead of time.

I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that our system of government is by design a very slow change management system.  It’s nearly impossible to get changes pushed through (witness the last 6 years of Obama’s presidency).

It’s also true that the Executive branch gets too much credit and too much blame for what happens on his/her watch.  An example of this would be that Obama wanted to invest in infrastructure / jobs but the Senate Majority blocked him every step of the way, initially to ensure Obama was a “one term” president, and subsequently, out of spite, they wanted his record to be clear of anything that smacked of an accomplishment.  It worked.  Ironically, Trump now wants to invest 1 Trillion into infrastructure and the GOP is split as to how to move forward with this idea.

Even more interesting will be to see what happens with immigration.  Trump campaigned on the radical idea of deporting 12 million illegal immigrants and got support from the rust belt states who are still hurting from globalization / NAFTA.  The majority of people in this country want something constructive done and there are many options on the table from mass deportation to full amnesty.  But here’s a prophecy for you.  Nothing will get done during the next 4 years for the same reason nothing has gotten done for the last 30.  Both parties’ establishment wings benefit from illegal immigration.  Major corporations want the cheap labor.  Progressives want the votes.  For Trump to get his way, he’s have to flip the bird at major corporations and the cynic in me says that’s going to be difficult for him to get through.  Anyone heard anything about the ‘wall’ lately?

Maybe we’ll press on with the status quo for a period, but having lost the White House, Senate, House and soon, the Supreme Court, I suspect change is coming in spades.

Not all of it will be bad.  Should the welfare roles be reviewed every year for fraud?  Yes.  I have no problem with the idea of cutting wasteful spending.  I do however have a problem with blanket cuts or privatization of Social Security and Medicare that hurt Grandma.

Progressives including this writer are in fact guilty as charged of elitism.  I’m guilty of staying mostly in the debate realm on social media and not getting up off my arse to do anything constructive about it.  That will change in 2017.  It’s time to transition from elitist to activist.  On my to-do list is to dig up some sign materials, find the spray paint can and a few staples.

I’ve been watching the country split in half since Bush v. Gore.  I’m learning not to be surprised by the outcomes.  I seriously thought Gore waxed Bush in 3 consecutive debates but alas the voting population felt otherwise.  I was initially skeptical of Reagan’s “trickle down economics” plan and it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.  I remember very specifically getting an extra $35 in my paycheck in the early 1980’s.  Boy did I ever stimulate the Marysville, WA economy with that!   Meanwhile, Reagan’s cronies were ordering new yachts ( to his credit, the yacht building business did boom during those years ).

I was not a supporter of Reagan or Bush, but I didn’t loathe them.  Critical policy differences, yes.  Loathe, no.  Both displayed tolerance for all faiths, minorities, and generally tried to be inclusive as the leader of the free world.

Trump however, cannot seem to go a day without be-clowning himself on Twitter.  I mean, what President Elect in history has stooped to the level of pouring salt on the wounds of his rivals with a faux New Years wish?

So I enter 2017 with a glass half empty I’m afraid.  Just being honest here.  As a very young man in my early 20’s I had my first encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness which resulted in several deep conversations where I learned what they were all about.  In the end I said “No Thanks”, but not before learning much about Armageddon and the End of Times prophecies.  I’ll leave it to your imagination as to why I’m reminded about these events to start off 2017.  There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wonder if the Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t perhaps right.

Finally, I’ve read several articles on the 7 deadly sins as they relate to the ego of Donald Trump and as an exercise, you can Google each of them next to the word Trump and fill up 100’s of pages of results.  Just for my own personal amusement, I’ve done that.

Happy New Year!

-Bill

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  1. Lust
    1.      This is my favorite, with Falwell.   playboy    unadjustednonraw_thumb_23ca
  2. Gluttony
    1. 120719055137-trump-international-course-golfing-full-169
  3.  Greed
    1. Trump’s Views on Greed
  4.  Sloth
    1. chemprtwkaex6or
  5.  Wrath
    1. 160331200050-trump-quote-11-super-169.jpg
  6. Envy:  No A-List Celebs at the Inauguration.  Gee, I wonder why?
    1. 49442915-cached
  7. Pride
    1. An astute article on Trump’s pride issue

 

 

 

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Adios 2016, don’t let the door…

Back in the mid 1980’s, an activist friend of mind Dave Aldrich sent out a memorable Christmas letter that was definitely one of a kind.  In this short missive he astutely pointed out about a dozen things that are just wrong in this world, covering the gamut from wasteful military spending, the oxymoron of compassionate conservatism, greedy politicians, abject poverty, the decline of unions and the middle class, and tax cuts for the wealthy.  It was a pithy list of gripes and then he simply signed it –“Merry Christmas.”

At the time I grinned and though to myself “must have had a bad day”, but the point of it all was and still is, complacency bothers him a great deal.  I still remember a quote from a letter a few years later where he pointed out that we worry about these issues after we’ve swept the garage, washed the SUV, and spent out days reading and writing e-mails. We rarely ponder our existence or question the status quo.  I remember thinking to myself ‘guilty as charged’.  I don’t, but I should.

With that in mind and in the spirit of Dave Aldrich, I offer this summary:  2016 blew.

Not to go completely negative on you, there were some good things that happened during the year which I’ll touch upon, but overall, Donna and I were just talking about the benefits of getting this year behind us.

First, the good stuff.  Our two grandkids Kaden and Karter are growing into fine young gentlemen.  We can’t say enough good things about them.  Both competitive game players, both silly, both good-natured, and fun to be around.  I was going to say that we’re lucky but the more I though about it, luck has nothing to do with it.  Good parents have everything to do with it.  Great job Kelli and Kyle.

Donna and I spent about a week in Chicago and did a deep dive of the city.  The entire trip was scheduled around a Cubs home stand so that we could make sure to take in trip to Wrigley, but we also took in some incredible Blues, Jazz, improv, museums, Navy Pier, and an evening boat tour.  The Cubs beat the Dodgers an a sunny Memorial Day weekend and we really enjoyed the atmosphere.  Having invested in a jersey for herself, Donna became an instant Cubs fan and was glued to the set during the very exciting World Series finish where the Cubs pulled of an extra inning nail biter vs. Cleveland.  She was on the edge of her seat.

This summer the house got painted.  It looks great but it’s a huge time sink to get it done even if you’re not the painter ( see low-lights below ).

In October we traveled to sunny Sacramento, California for the wedding of my cousin Mike Eady to his new bride Shelly. Lovely wedding and always good to catch up with extended family.  We spent some time checking out Sacramento as well and were impressed.

We’ve been doing a new monthly-ish dinner / social gathering with some great friends and neighbor’s and sharing a lot of laughs.  Included a relaxing weekend trip to Manzanita where we ate, drank, played games, and golfed ( yes Glenn, Donna golfed ).

I’ve battled through some challenging health issues and am starting to get my musical mojo back a little bit.  I have a few recordings out on soundcloud and youtube, none of which are that good, but all were a lot of fun to do.

Donna keeps a schedule that I can only marvel at.  When she gets free time at home, stuff’s a moving.  It’s a literal beehive of activity with art and gardening projects.  She’s the ideas person of the family.  I’m the implementor – at least when it comes to the heavy stuff.  In addition to all this she’s got an aging parent to take care of.  Middle age comes at you from all directions.  She’s not a complainer though, she’s a doer.  That’s what I love about her.  The calendar gets pretty full fast, but no matter what’s on there, she just rolls up her sleeves and gets it done.

And lastly, if you know her you’ll understand why this is news.  I beat my sister Patty twice during 2016 at Words with Friends.  That would fall under the category of ‘exceeding expectations’.

So there, I mixed i some positive things.  Now for the overall 2016 Summary:

                          Major Buzz-Kill

Think Planes, Trains and Automobiles where Steve Martin’s wife is anxiously waiting for him to get home to an impeccably prepared Thanksgiving feast at an upscale Chicago home, followed by what it took for him to get there.

Words cannot describe the disappointment of November 8th.  It’s a gut punch when you invest so much time following the news for a year and a half thinking “no way”, and then see your worst nightmare come true.  Trying to hold the family together during a time where close family members feel personally threatened by the incoming administration is a challenge.  It’s emotional.  I’ll leave it at that.

At times like these, I wonder if the Jehovah Witnesses aren’t right after all.  Maybe we are getting near the end of times.  I’m only half kidding.

On the plus side, I feel less of a need to chime in and criticize what the current Mob Boss-elect is under fire for.  He’s perfectly capable of making my point for me with his twitter machine.  I don’t have to say a word.  Just sit back and watch the entertainment, and entertaining it will be.

2016 brought on some medical challenges for me that I was determined to conquer.  The biggest one is anxiety.  I spent about a year and a half not being able to drive on freeways, which is limiting and an added stress on Donna.  But after seeing several specialists, I think I may be getting real close to a solution.  I’ve driven to Eugene a couple of times recently.  It’s not perfect but it’s on the upside.  I look forward to having a less full calendar year of doctor appointments minus the added expen$e and trying to sneak in all these appointments while maintaining a busy work schedule.

The Ducks were 4-8 and lost to the Beavers and both Washington schools.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.  And the Huskies put up 70 on the Ducks at home.  Now I have to be quiet for at least another year, maybe longer.

I’m in my 4th year at Cambia and speaking of rapid change, 4th manager.  No complaints about the new job — great people, love the work, but it’s a ball buster.  There are days when I envy Ward Cleaver grabbing his briefcase and heading off to a job where he doesn’t have to worry about being outsourced every quarter, does a bit of work from 9-5 and the comes home to his happy family.  Such is not the case ( except the happy family part ).

Our go-to friends, Wayne and Tricia Wischmann moved to Arizona in June.  We understand why, but it sucks when your social network gets disrupted.   We have such fond memories of time at Haydens listening to Tim and Jim with them, among other events.  We’re planning a trip to Tucson in the February time frame to catch up.  We miss them.

There was the passing of several icons from my generation in 2016.  Gene Wilder, Prince, Mohamed Ali, and George Kennedy to name a few.  Seems like every time we turned around another one bit the dust.

Pickles spent the night in the ER ( that was more expensive than my trip to the ER ) with a really bad infection but is better now.  We were really worried about her but she made it.

So in the spirit of Dave Aldrich, this years missive just tells it like it is.  And it is what it is.

Merry Christmas!

( And bring on 2017, please ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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