Trump may be melting but only real actions for the people will preserve Democratic gains…

November 16, 2018

Could it be that macho Donald Trump is (something) whipped? I don’t have to say the actual word, but it is one Trump famously used in the Access Hollywood tape.

The demise of the great dictator or the Great White Nationalist Hope has been predicted or announced so many times before in these past two tumultuous years only to each time amount to a chimera of wishful thinking.

But now many observers seem to indicate that he might be in a meltdown, increasingly isolated with no real friends — kind of Nixonian. He doesn’t even have a “Bebe” Rebozo. You almost have to be a baby boomer or older to get that. Of course Trump does not probably even like the idea of friends — he himself is all that he needs — Oh, and ratings (it’s all so-called reality TV to him). What he needs is a mirror. But maybe he no longer even likes what he sees there.

He tried to use some form of Orwellian newspeak to craft a win out of a drubbing in the midterms. The Democratic Party took back the house. While the GOP held onto the senate, it suffered some unexpected losses there too.

Then he went to Paris and to save from having a bad hair day due to bad weather he skipped a ceremony to honor WWI veterans. Being too insensitive himself and likely ignorant of world history he failed to realize that was a faux pas and then he blamed it on bad advice and/or he was not allowed. He’s the president. And he needed advice on the importance of it all?

And back home trophy wife Melania publicly called for the resignation of a security aide she had clashed with — Melania who is not an elected official nor an official at all of the government. While Trump might agree with her, it put him in an embarrassing position, that is doing what his wife tells him (even if all good or smart husbands do just that).

Also Trump knows now that the Democrats have taken back the lower house of congress they have the power to investigate his questionable actions and the Republicans will not be able to bar or stymie it all, as they have.

It’s almost as if Trump is the Wicked Witch of the West and Democrat Dorothy has thrown a bucket of water on him.

“I’m Melting!”

p.s.

But for my money the Democrats will do well to use their newfound power to enact new policies and law for the good of the people and treat Trump as a lame duck. The same voters who put them into power and then pushed them out and then brought them back in can once again oust them.

 

 

 

 

 

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You can deny climate change but you cannot deny megafires…

November 12, 2018

What with the worst fire in California history (so far) ongoing, Chico State University magazine’s cover story couldn’t have had better timing. It was titled “The Rise of Megafires”. And it was published and written before this latest fire. But we have had so many of late here in California it was already big news.

The fire is just east of Chico and has destroyed the town of Paradise.

And what do I know about fires or fire prevention? Not enough I am sure. But I have observations:

Back in the 19th Century it was not uncommon for towns, big and small, to have major fires, often burning down whole communities. And this phenomenon continued into the early 20th century. There was the great Earthquake and Fire in 1906 in the city of my birth, San Francisco.

But for, I’m guessing, 80 years or more now, that has not been common. We have more fire resistant structures and improved methods and equipment and technology to fight and prevent fires.

However, now we have at least three things combined that have resulted in a new danger: climate change (I know there are deniers) that has brought on the phenomenon of “megafires” that burn more intensely (hotter) than in the past, more housing and other structures built throughout the forests and wildlands, along with wild lands and forests that have grown unchecked with loads of brush and other fuels that feed the fires once ignited.

When addressing climate change one should get past the politics and ignorance and just accept that there is a climate change going on. You can argue what has caused it or whether it is just a natural progression of the earth’s climate cycles but unless you believe the earth is flat you cannot deny it. And like I always say, I defer to the scientists as a whole rather than politicians or the loud mouth at the bar on the subject of climate change.

This summer a new and scary phenomenon was encountered by firefighters real near (like within miles) of where I live — the fire tornado, with the intense heat of the fire creating its own weather. They have also been observed in the Camp Fire blazing east of Chico.

While we need to deal with climate change and do whatever we can to at least mitigate its detrimental effects, if not correct them, that is mostly long term for any positive effect (even though we must act as soon as possible).

The magazine article I referred to said that nine of ten of these fires (90 percent) are man caused, either by carelessness (accident) or arson. So we need to push fire safety and go after the arsonists.

(And the weird and terrible thing here is that while some arsonists are simply mentally unhinged, some do it for economic gain. As a news reporter I once covered a story in which a local businessman who supplied fire suppression equipment to the public fire fighting agencies, such as bulldozers — wildland fire fighting is big business — hired a man to set fires.)

I think people take a big risk when they build homes in the middle of the forest or other wildland and they ought to realize it. I am surprised they can even get insurance.

Another thing,  I wonder if we are building large enough fire breaks between the forests and housing and commercial development. I think that might have been the problem in my own community in a megafire we had here this summer. The fire ripped through parts of the town with the loss of many homes and of human life.

The article quoted some experts calling for a return to the idea of prescribed burns to clear out the forests of uncontrolled growth that clogs them with tinder-dry fuel.

I know that this already goes on. But there are dangers. A few years ago one in the local area got out of control.

They also called for more livestock grazing to control grass. Over the years, I think it is true, that federal grazing allotments have been cut back because in times past some areas were over grazed.

And I know loggers object to being prevented by environmental regulations from cutting more trees. They say in fact that is what the forests need for their health.
They need to be thinned.

While I know diddly squat about best forest practices, I don’t like the looks of clear cutting, where whole swaths along hillsides are denuded, leaving bare ground. It looks ugly and opens up the terrain to erosion. It is still being done in places. I drive past a particular recent clear cut every week almost.

Whatever we do it has to be a coordinated effort between the many agencies and jurisdictions and ownerships involved in our forests and wildlands.

And if you have any forests and/or wild lands anywhere near you, this fire season has proven you are not safe even if you live in town. People get little to no notice, the fires spread so fast, and then have to flee for their lives and get caught in traffic and sometimes have to abandon their cars and run. Some have died in their cars.

p.s.

And fire season has become year round.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


In the face of the Democratic assault, some Trumpers dismissive…

November 7, 2018

Update:

So it seems this Wednesday morning that with the taking back of the majority in the House things are evened up. And that is better for democracy. It’s a check on extremism and perhaps what has been a budding dictatorship.

——————————————

As I write this it already looks like the Democrats will take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives, even though the polls have just begun to close in the East on this mid-term election day (Nov. 6, 2018). Not sure I will be able to write any more than this post tonight or even update it quickly tomorrow. I’m on my real job.

But if this be true, what does it mean?

Most political observers (well maybe excluding some Trump supporters) will say it is a repudiation of President Donald Trump, himself, his administration, his policies, his presidency.

I would too, but if that is too strong for some Republicans or Trumpohites, then I would offer this: it could restore some equilibrium in the constant political struggle between the politics of the right and left.

What is interesting to me and a little galling is the tactic by some pundits or bloviators on the right in the face of the predicted vanquishing in the lower house of congress by the vote of the people to play dismissive of it all.

In my last post I think it was I referred to one right-wing radio host who talks with a southern twang that I think that although might be his normal voice is used nonetheless as an instrument to convey down-home wisdom and common sense, you know common sense the kind common folks have as opposed to the kind intellectuals or people who think too much have. He was dismissive of all the enthusiasm that today has turned into I believe a record turnout for the usual low turn-out midterms and even general elections maybe. He uttered something to the effect that “people are so excited”, using, as I just indicated, a dismissive tone of voice.

Kind of reminds me years ago but long, long after it was proven by medical research that cigarettes can cause cancer and lung diseases and that filters were useless, one cigarette brand ran an ad in magazines that said something like “you’re probably confused by all the hub bub about health and cigarettes” (that was not the exact wording but I used quote marks to give you a flavor if you will of it). They were being dismissive of the dangers of cigarettes.

Today a decidedly right-wing-oriented radio host out of Fresno complained that these fired-up voters (and he was referring to anti-Trumpers I am fairly sure) were not looking at the real issues.

Well Trump is not on the ballot, but it appears the issue that has prompted the high voter turnout is Trump and the atmosphere he has created.

I’m not sure he thought that those who voted for Trump were just acting on emotion.

Kind of reminds me of when a woman politician is stridant she is seen as shrill or emotional. But when a man is he is seen as strong.

And finally, I read an article in National Review online and the writer claimed “voters are not serious”. I did not really get the point of his piece except that he seemed dismissive of a protest vote and thought voters really just use the exercise of the ballot to vent their frustrations. Well he might be partially correct at that.

I know the Trump era has frustrated me.

Again, I don’t know at this early hour I am writing this what will actually transpire or will have happened once most people read this. It could even be the Republicans maintain status quo (does not look like it though).

But the people will have had a chance to let their feelings be known. Voting alone will not solve problems but it is a really good start.

And as much as I cannot stand Donald Trump, I’ll throw him a bone:

He maintained during his presidential campaign that his outrageous statements get people to think and to act.

So we will see or will have seen, depending upon when you read this.


How much of a threat is the so-called migrant caravan? And would they come if employers did not entice them?

November 4, 2018

Is the so-called migrant caravan heading north through Mexico for real? Is it really a threat the United States?

The last I heard, and what I heard could be wrong of course, to the extent there is such a thing it is falling apart. Too many hardships.

But even if it is for real, how much of a threat is it? You mean to tell me we cannot protect ourselves from impoverished immigrants? I mean are they armed?

We do have the Border Patrol. Every time I am down near the border I see their vehicles all over the place. I know they cannot be everywhere at once and I know our border with Mexico is long and includes a lot of rugged and desolate terrain, but surely we have enough surveillance capability to detect large numbers of intruders.

(And so there is a law against using the military as police, which I do not know all the particulars to or whether there might be exceptions, but if we were really being invaded certainly the military has to be deployed in some fashion. President Trump has in fact dispatched a large contingent of the military in support operations, but I think support could become direct if need be.)

And I am led to believe from reports that include Republican campaign propaganda (that nonetheless may contain some truth) that often illegal aliens are caught but then let go for a future court date. Why? I never hear why. I mean cannot they be simply sent from whence they came? And I am most certainly not anti-immigrant.

Well maybe I can at least partially answer my own question. We do have due process in our law (it is a protection against law at a whim). And there is always the problem of people who have eluded the authorities for years and have families and who then face the prospect of being torn from them. And this is because we have a split personality policy between official and real life in which employers in certain sectors, everything from nannies, to field hands, to construction, to meat packing and who knows what? depend upon and take for granted a labor supply of the undocumented.

But there are rules for immigration. I mean can I just decide to live in, say, Mexico as a resident and avail myself of government services there on my own whim without following rules? I doubt it.

It is true that if there were a real wave of refugees such as have been flooding Europe from war-torn Syria and from parts of the African continent we might have trouble holding back the tide because of the sheer numbers and out of humanitarian concern — and we can hardly just shoot people, nor God forbid, would we want to. But I have not heard nor seen of that wave approaching or crossing our borders.

As I noted in this space recently, however, people are fleeing primarily central American nations, and Venezuela, which is actually South America, with corrupt governments that are connected with or possibly controlled to some extent by vicious gangs.

I’ll be blunt. If that continues and we really do face a wave of desperate people, like I alluded to in my previous post that becomes a problem for us. It’s a problem the United Nations should address. But that organization is sometimes feckless. And that may be because not all nations and people are ever going to agree and who really wants one-world government anyway? Not I. Sounds like tyranny. I am for sovereign nation states.

I am not for sending in the Marines, that is until we have no other choice.

We could try to work through the Organization of American States for starters but that is hard to do when we have a president who is seen as a racist and someone who is anti-Hispanic. And I am only going by his own speech. Words matter.

And finally. Even though many people have noted that a big draw for illegal immigrants is jobs offered and so why don’t we go after the employers of those illegal immigrants, that factor seldom gets much attention.

One right-wing radio blowhard that talks with that exaggerated down-home drawl that I guess is meant to signify he is simple folk with simple common sense and for white culture, Christian values (freedom of religion as long as your are Christian), was confronted by a caller who asked why the employers were not targeted.

But our right-wing host claimed that was straying from the root of the problem. Seems like that is the root. But the right-winger claimed these people are not looking for work, they are looking for a handout.

Well I am pretty sure most are looking for work. But within any group you will have freeloaders and even criminals.

But I often wonder why is the law against hiring undocumented people not rigidly and only selectively enforced. I never hear an answer from those who focus on illegal immigration as a campaign issue or from those like our faux folksy right winger who seemed to want to change the subject.

p.s.

The other day President Trump made a remark that suggested that if rocks were thrown at soldiers on the border that they should respond with their rifles as if they were being fired upon by rifles. It was reported that he later “walked back” that remark. Well, two things: No. 1, Trump often says things for shock value, but No. 2, while he is certainly old enough, perhaps Trump does not remember Kent State or does not care. There, National Guard troops faced students protesting over the Vietnam War and the draft. Rocks were thrown by the students. Whether by order or not, some guardsmen fired their rifles and several students were killed and others seriously injured. I think these kinds of things happened to British soldiers in the troubles in Northern Ireland. It puts the military in a damned if they do and damned if they don’t position (the Border Patrol has already faced this). It does not help matters when the president suggests rifles should be used to counteract rocks. I mean it kind of sets up violence. Even so, yes, if people are forewarned, rifles could conceivably be used to repel otherwise unarmed invaders. But let’s not promote this.

 


Trump meets impeachment threshold…

November 1, 2018

While I take it the prediction by most pundits is that the Republican Party is expected to maintain control of the senate but the Democrats have a good chance of taking control of the house in next Tuesday’s mid-term election, I think it is safe to say that President Trump has met the threshold for impeachment.

And we have to remember, impeachment is a political thing — high crimes and misdemeanors are what the lawmakers say they are at the time, not a court, who has to go by statutes and legal precedent.

But by any stretch of the imagination, Trump who has stoked the fires of hell with his incendiary speech and who has lambasted our allies across the world and who has attacked the free press and has used threatening speech against all who oppose him or even attempt to mildly criticize him has I think piled up enough material from which Democrats could form a basis for impeachment. Would impeachment be the correct or practical road to take is another question. It might just make Trump stronger, galvanizing those who might see it simply as a political ploy by the political left or just a bad thing to do if you disagree with a president’s policies or personal behavior (excluding actual crime).

The problem too is that without taking control of the senate it is unlikely that Trump could be convicted. I mean if Trump went so far as to scare his own party, maybe so. But it seems although his actions and demeanor often make many Republicans uncomfortable, they seem so far to be content to look the other way as long as they see that his administration is at least helping them move most of their agenda forward — you know, tax cuts that favor primarily business and quashing pesky environmental regulations and health and safety rules (not to deny that some cumbersome bureaucracy needs to be streamlined and possibly some regulations reconsidered).

Evangelicals I read are becoming split over the question is it right to support Trump because he furthers some of their social agenda even as he has shown himself to be immoral. They have I think made a deal with the devil.

And when it comes to climate change, I think that to deny science in favor of dollars in the short run is poor planning to say the least. And does not God want us to be good stewards of planet earth which we are told he created? Or has wealth accumulation become Godly?

I imagine much of the Democratic political establishment would favor not going the impeachment route but instead going for more political control, i.e. taking the legislature back. A lame duck Trump seems appealing.

Not being a Trump supporter that is what I tend to think. But I do worry about what this terrible person is doing in the meantime.

Trump did not fire the bullets that killed the Jews in Pennsylvania. He, as far as I know, had nothing to do with the sending of letter bombs to Democrats — except that he helped create the climate that promotes such things by his incendiary and racist and intolerant speech. And that is a big exception. To me that is impeachable.

All this could be taken care of if more people became interested and aware of national issues and took some effort to be informed and to not blindly follow one-sided approaches to issues by only listening to what they want to hear and only reading what they feel comfortable with.

I mean Trump draws some of his strength from occasionally being at least partially correct on things or somehow being connected with things that seem to go right, such as a good economy and more jobs. And I am only going on what I read on that in that in my personal case I do not see a direct correlation between Trump policies and my pocket-book — but I am not complaining and will give him or his economic policies the benefit of the doubt for now (well destructive trade wars not withstanding).

But I think a moderate Republican or Democrat could have accomplished as much without tearing apart the fabric of our society and giving us a black eye seen around the world.

But unfortunately no one has risen to the occasion and/or voters or potential voters have been complacent.

Lots of polls being done. But the only one that counts at this time is next Tuesday’s (Nov. 6).

 

 


Rather than trying to hold the tide back at the border, do we need to go to the source?

October 22, 2018

What can countries do when masses of people pour out of areas beset by violence and poverty and corruption and by so doing put pressure on their own people and resources?

Whether it’s people fleeing war-torn Syria in the Middle East or troubled spots in Africa and flooding Europe or people fleeing places in Latin America and heading north to the United States it is a perplexing problem.

President Donald Trump promotes building a wall. I think that is more to rally his seemingly dependable base than anything else. Keep the hordes of foreigners out. Has a nice nationalistic ring.

But it seems doubtful a wall would do the job, and it would not likely be one continuous structure like the Great Wall of China due to terrain if nothing else. And determined forces history has shown, be they armies, drug runners, spies, or refugees and migrants, have a way of getting over and under through and around walls. So one has to ask: is the expense worth it?

I suppose for a time the communist regimes in the old Soviet Union and its satellite nations of Eastern Europe were successful in keeping the bulk of their populations from migrating (no one was trying to get in as far as I know) with their walls and barbed wire and armed guards ready to shoot to kill (and in East Berlin they did often). But once the mass of the masses had enough of the drab life of communist utopia and at the same time discovered via modern communications how the other half in the West lived walls and barbed wire could not stop them.

When things get desperate enough people will risk likely death to flee hell — figuring what have they got to lose? They’ll risk drowning in the Mediterranean to get to Europe or rape and robbery and death at the hands of armed gangs to get to the U.S., in the case of people from some Central American and other Latin American countries such being no worse than staying put, but with the promise of the promise land.

Are most of the refugees good people themselves? I would imagine so, but surly some are not and some while not being gangsters may be more opportunists than refugees — but I imagine that is a minority. Besides don’t we admire opportunists? People with get up and go and gumption.

And then there is the humanitarian side of things. Do we simply say: well that is your tough luck, can’t help you?

But I also have a thought or question:

Do we here in the United States or those in Europe have a right or even obligation to put pressure on or force the oppressive and corrupt regimes to reform? And can we even do that?

Certainly we do need to be tough on or with our own border security.

There is always talk of sending in the military to protect our borders and then at the same time we are told that any direct action by the military is illegal. There seem to be different interpretations on that. I’m not going there now.

I personally sometimes wonder if our civil forces, the border patrol and such, are mismanaged. As a trucker I go though border checks some distance from the actual borders and see seemingly large numbers of personnel and vehicles congregated in one spot. How does that police the border?

And for goodness sake we have traditional air power and along with that the more modern unmanned drones. Yes the border is long and the terrain often rough, but with our resources one would think we could police it.

What we need to manage or solve the problem is leadership that goes beyond racially-tinged calls for walls or calls to dismantle immigration forces and simply let everyone in with hopes they will add votes to the political party that claims to represent their interests.

Right now there is a report or reports of a caravan or maybe caravans of migrants who have pushed their way past Mexican security at the Guatemala border in the south and are headed toward the U.S. We have seen this scenario before.

Reportedly the sheer numbers of people make them hard to stop.

I was surprised by a report from CBS News following a group of migrants through Central America, some of whom began their current trek in Colombia. What surprised me most was some of them were not even Latin Americans but Middle Eastern and Indian. One was a refugee Iran, another from Sri Lanka.

CLARIFICATION: I’M ADDING THIS AFTER ORIGINALLY POSTING THE ABOVE. I DON’T MEAN TO CONFLATE THE AFORE MENTIONED CBS REPORT WITH THE CARAVAN NOW MOVING THROUGH MEXICO. TRUMP HAS CHARGED THAT IT IS INFILTRATED BY MIDDLE EASTERNERS, PRESUMABLY TERRORISTS, BUT HAS ALSO REPORTEDLY ADMITTED HE HAS NO EVIDENCE OF THAT. THAT IS HIS MODE OF DOING THINGS — MAKE A STATEMENT FOR HEADLINES KNOWING THAT HIS TARGET AUDIENCE ONLY BELIEVES WHAT IT WANTS TO REGARDLESS OF EVIDENCE. PERSONALLY, I DON’T KNOW THE MAKEUP OF THE CARAVAN, EXCEPT I WOULD PRESUME IT IS 99 TO A 100 PERCENT LATIN AMERICAN.

Now some migrants no doubt are simply looking for a better opportunity as many of our own ancestors here in the United States of America were. Conceivably some could eke it out in their home countries. Others are fleeing persecution or gang violence, particularly in Central America. Some are single men, some are parents who have been forced or chose to leave their children. Some are children who have been forced or induced to leave their families.

We need to mix humanity with practicality and put the partisan politics aside.

I for one would prefer to see the return of the centrists in both our major political parties. I used to agree with those who complained that there was no difference between the two parties, particularly at the national level. But things have changed. We have a modern form of what almost seems like Nazi rule with a leader who demands blind obedience and who mocks and threatens those who oppose him or who fail to show adoration of him — with politics of intimidation and the national government not just bending the truth but resorting to outright lies that could be described as propaganda except that word would not be strong enough. The big lie is the big lie.

When a spokeswoman for the current administration suggested there was such a thing as “alternative facts” we had to know we were entering the world of the late author George Orwell’s 1984 but in maybe 2017 (or whenever she said it). I think maybe she was just sloppy in her wording. I mean she must have meant “positions”, but even so she was right on in her description of the administration. Because you can have a position or opinion on some things, but not provable facts, some even caught on video tape, or like the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. And just making something up is not taking a position. It is called lying.

 

 

 


Trump won’t spoil my vacation, unless he pushes the nuke button…

September 9, 2018

Lots happening in politics, something I usually write about, but not sure that I will be able to post much or anything because I will be on a vacation in Spain. So I’ll be devoting most of my time to, well, you know, drinking, eating, drinking. Oh, sightseeing too of course. And I will be continuing my quest to speak Spanish like native speakers. Good luck to me on that — but it has become my hobby, besides writing this blog.

It’s possible that I will post things about what will be my fifth venture into Iberia. I once saw a documentary in which the author James Michener talked about his first trip to Spain. He was a merchant seaman and landed there. He said the country captivated his heart. And that is what it did to me.

One problem with posting over there for me might be my available technology. I am not taking my laptop, but I do plan to take my tablet, which I am using right now. But that is problematic. I won’t bore you with all the details of why that is, just trust me. But we will see. Vamos a ver.

So I make a lot of comments about President Trump. None of them good. But I think that I am not so concerned about most of what he does because I think our democratic process will deal with that soon enough — well maybe not soon enough, but eventually. What I do worry about is that in some fit he might order a nuclear strike. But then again a giant meteorite might hit the earth and end it all for all of us.

Well this post has primarily been a test of the technology I will have available to me on my trip. So I do appreciate all of my followers and those who happen to run across my writings — comments are always welcome too.